Gift ideas

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By Olivier Bergeron, Justin Bernard, Tom Inouie, Arthur Kaptainis, Dino Spaziani and Andréanne Venne

La Scena Musicale offers original holiday season gift ideas for music lovers of all ages

GADGETS OF ALL KINDS

Handmade Music Boxes
www.etsy.com

Advertisement / Publicité

SoundHandMade, an online distributor that ships worldwide from Spain, stocks a number of hand-crafted retro-style music boxes. Musical selections range from the classics, show tunes, songs from Walt Disney flics and cult classics like Star Wars. You know how it works: crank it up and just let it play. This nifty gift for the Holiday Season will sit perfectly atop a fireplace or on a bookcase shelf. At $25 per item this is a steal, but the offer is limited, so don’t delay before it lists again at its retail price of $85. JB

2021 Vintage Opera Posters
Wall Calendar from the Met
www.metoperashop.org
US$24.95

For fans of opera: To help us look forward to what we all hope will be a better new year, the Metropolitan Opera has put together a lovely new wall calendar for 2021. It consists of a fine selection of 12 beautifully detailed, colour illustrations from the early 20th century featuring posters and artwork from Tosca, Madama Butterfly, La Bohème, Turandot, La Traviata and more. While these magnificent works of art are vintage by date, their appeal is no doubt timeless. TI

Tune Out Musical Sleep Mask
www.uncommongoods.com
$50.77 / $58.11 (Bluetooth)

Sleep masks can be of use in either getting a nice rest or falling sound asleep when it’s not possible to be in the dark (during a daytime nap, when your partner is reading, etc.). And speaking of sound…well, here’s a new dimension to achieving that rest or sleep. This sleep mask features padded headphones so that you can wirelessly add any soothing music, podcast, nature sound, etc. to your soothing light-blocked environment. TI

Aromatherapy and essential oil difusers
www.avril.ca
($45-$100)

In today’s trying times, why not offer a diffuser of essential oils to enhance the well-being of a loved one? The Comptoir Aroma line offers several ultrasonic models such as its AGUNG light purified diffuser or some theme-based ones like JINGLE (perfectly suitable for the Holiday Season), if not CRISTAL, with its added lucky charm that can also be worn around the neck. Essential oils are beneficial for all occasions, even when working from home. It takes no more than two drops of peppermint and cinnamon oil, and a single drop of rosemary to clear the mind and improve concentration. You can even do this when wearing a mask (if at all possible) by inserting a piece of gauze or strip of paper wetted by a few drops of your favourite essential oils. Both these oils and diffusers are sold at all Avril supermarkets. AV

SUBSCRIPTIONS

For eclectic minds

According to a VPN Atlas study conducted in 2019, online music streaming has become the single most important source of income for artists marketing their wares. Some 63.6% (or US$7 billion) of the total US$11 billion revenues have been doled out that way. This study has also shown that there is no uniform scheme of remuneration, each platform establishing its own rate. This, of course, leads to inequities in payments to artists, much to the benefit of the consumer who can shop around for the best deal. Napster actually offers the best rate at $0.00916 per play. Next is Apple Music at $0.00675 followed by Deezer at $0.00562. Of the seven main players in the market today, Spotify and YouTube are the most talked about, not least because they are at the lower end of the scale at $0.00203 and $0.00154 respectively. If you want to support artists in their work, we encourage you to make use of any of the first three services rather than the last two. Your musical friends will be grateful. Napster subscriptions start at $4.99. Apple Music and Deezer start at $9.99. JB

For Classical Aficionados
www.idagio.com
www.primephonic.com

The Idagio and Primephonic apps are the best providers of classical music performances online. If you are a committed Beethoven fan and receptive to new technologies, what better option than to have access to all the music you love at the touch of your cellphone? An annual Idagio Premium+ subscription costs €99.99 or $155. Primephonic, for its part, offers a slightly better annual deal for around $130. JB

BOOK SECTION

Beethoven’s Ninth
www.omifacsimiles.com

“Alle Menschen werden Brüder!” The fundamental message of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is not a bad one for fractious 2020. Nor does a full-size facsimile of the autograph manuscript, uniting elements from Berlin, Bonn and Paris, make a bad gift. If the price of US$995 is a little beyond your budget, the Old Manuscripts and Incunabula company also offers a facsimile of a sketch of Für Elise for US$18. AK

The operatic nitty-gritty

In Conducting Opera: Where Theater Meets Music, Joseph Rescigno, formerly of the Orchestre Métropolitain, takes a close look at popular scores from the Mozart-to-Strauss canon. The book is aimed primarily at Rescigno’s fellow conductors but will speak volumes to singers and cultivated opera fans who know the standards and read music. If you ever wondered about the advisability of replacing a cimbasso in Verdi with a bass trombone or rewriting the traditional (but quite inauthentic) cadenza in the Mad Scene of Lucia di Lammermoor, this is your book. University of North Texas Press. Listed at US$27.86 on Amazon. AK

Wagnerism: Art and Politics in the
Shadow of Music, by Alex Ross
us.macmillan.com

I highly recommend Alex Ross’ latest work on Wagner and his influence on Western history and culture. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in September, this is the perfect gift for those interested in deepening their knowledge about the composer himself, his music and how his genius helped shape different aspects of modern art, society and politics. OB

FOR WORK

Zoom H2n Handy recorder
Available on Amazon
$227.70
The Zoom H2n has been a constant companion for me as a singer. I’ve used it to record lessons, performances and even continue to make great quality demos with it. Other than the fact that it makes great recordings, it’s also very sturdy. Mine has been at the bottom of a backpack or in a suitcase for most of its life and it still looks new. This would make a great gift for a student or a young professional musician. OB

MUSICIANS’ CORNER

Sound adjustments for string instruments
Contact: 514-827-3163 (www.michelgagnonluthier.com)
$65

If you know a string player or are one yourself, here is a good offer to consider, one that will enhance the acoustical mechanics of the instrument through adjustments of the bridge, sound post and sound board. Those three components are crucial in transmitting the impulses generated by the strings. It is important then: 1) to properly adjust the sound post inside the instrument; 2) to straighten the bridge and 3) to have it well positioned.
Based in Varennes, Quebec, Michel Gagnon, is a luthier with expertise in this field. After listening to the instrument and inspecting it closely, he will make the smallest modifications in the axis of rotation of the bridge, thus producing more ringing sounds than ever before. Such work will be of great benefit to any violinist, violist or cellist, and surely welcomed as a holiday gift. DS

TRANSLATION BY MARC CHÉNARD

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