Simon O’Neill and Terence Dennis in conversazione for Wagner Society

Wagner Society of New Zealand – Wellington Branch

Simon O’Neill (tenor) and Terence Dennis (piano) talk about Wagner and his music, and O’Neill’s emergence as a leading Wagner tenor.

St Andrew’s on The Terrace

Sunday 28 February 2010

Simon O’Neill was one of the soloists in the performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with the NZSO two nights before; the following Friday he would sing a number of chunks of Wagner, again with the NZSO.

He needed to protect his voice; in addition, he had a cold – he told us his daughter had coughed in his face a few days earlier, and so he apologized for not singing. Instead, he and Terence Dennis presented a conversazione, an extensive talk for about two hours about O’Neill’s career, discussing his beginnings in New Zealand, advanced study in New York, and his performing career which had begun quite seriously in New Zealand; as well as providing an entertaining miscellany of recondite Wagner lore and scholarship.

They began by touching on aspects of O’Neill’s early stage experience in New Zealand which put him well ahead of most other student singers at the renowned Manhattan and Juilliard music schools in New York; he’d sung in Gianni Schicchi, understudied Enrico in Lucia (he was then a baritone) and sung Rodolfo in Canterbury Opera’s La Bohème.

After studying in New York, he soon burst into prominence, with experience first with New York City Opera and later with the Met.  His first audition with the Met had involved the First Armed Man in The Magic Flute, which is seen as a signal mark of a promising tenor career. Then came the invitation to understudy Placido Domingo, who became a powerful friend and mentor. Later, there was Donald McIntyre in the Wagner repertoire, John Tomlinson and many others.

It was not all talk, however. The session had begun with the sound of O’Neill from his recent CD recorded with the NZSO, singing ‘Winterstürme’ from the first act of Die Walküre. If it created an excited anticipation of more heroic episodes from The Ring, Parsifal or Lohengrin, with Terence Dennis at the piano, we were of course disappointed. But the enforced alternative was to be intimate to continuous intense, volatile dialogue, with the musicians falling over each other to embellish anecdotes and to recall additional detail, or, from Terence, to add flashes of absorbing erudition and wonder at the Wagner experiences he has accumulated all over the world, which held the audience spell-bound.

If Simon O’Neill never hesitated from talking with a touching, boyish passion about the luck that had thrust him quite suddenly into the lime-light, he was full of praise and gratitude for teachers, fellow singers and conductors who had helped him, mentored and opened doors for him, from Otago (where Terence Dennis played an important role) and Victoria universities (Emily Mair), and in New York. Warmly generous in his comments about teachers and colleagues, he heaped praise on many of the teachers both in New Zealand and abroad, including Frances Wilson and Marlene Malas at the Manhattan School of Music. New York vocal mentors included such celebrated singers as baritone Sherrill Milnes and mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, who had sponsored him through her own foundation, and there was also a memorable masterclass with Luciano Pavarotti.

It wasn’t till after his time at the Juilliard School that he studied his first Wagner roles, principally Siegmund and later Lohengrin.

Simon recalled how, at Heath Lees’ urging, he’d written to Sir Donald McIntyre from New York and so began a close relationship that proved a key to his advancement in Wagner performance. ‘McIntyre was so generous!… can’t thank him enough!’

But his path led through more conventional music too – Mozart, with Tamino and Idomeneo (the High Priest), the latter his debut role at the Met.

Simon talked about New Zealand performances that were critical, remarkable in his early career. As Dmitri in Boris Godunov for New Zealand Opera and as Parsifal in the 2006 International Festival, which he rates not only as a momentous step for him but as one of New Zealand’s great opera achievements, with its wholly New Zealand cast. It was ‘an amazing event’, he said, marvelling particularly at McIntyre’s performance of Gurnemanz at age 71.  This reviewer shares his opinion about the miracle of that performance, almost equalling the wonderful Meistersinger at the 1990 festival.

His most exciting step was to understudy Domingo as Siegmund in the famous Otto Schenk production at the Met, and sing the role on a Met tour to Japan. He made his significant Met debut as Siegmund in the last season of this famous Schenk production under the baton of Donald Runnicles in a splendid cast that included such noted Wagner singers as Lisa Gasteen (Brünnhilde), Deborah Voigt (Sieglinde) and James Morris (Wotan); he is incredulous that he had to sing that performance onstage having had no orchestral rehearsal.

A veteran Met audience member at those performances was overheard to have said: “This was the finest Siegmund I’ve heard in this house for 41 years”. The earlier singer referred to was presumably John Vickers… indeed James Levine has particularly complemented Simon on the eloquence of his singing, that does recall the Wagner greats of earlier generations; Simon mentioned how he has modeled certain aspects of his approach to singing these roles on the great Wagner tenor Wolfgang Windgassen, and is particularly inspired by the older Wagner greats like Melchior, Lorenz and Völker.

His wide-eyed wonderment at his association with Domingo extended to forcing his feet into Domingo’s boots for the role of Siegmund; and he was bemused at being mistaken on the Met’s tour to Japan for Domingo by a couple of Japanese ladies.

Then Simon described the excitement of his European experiences, singing with the Berlin Staatsoper under Barenboim, in open air concerts of Act one of Walküre at the Villa Rufolo in Ravello, above the Amalfi Coast in Italy (Wagner had stayed there and was inspired by its exotic garden for Klingsor’s Magic garden in Parsifal); he has also appeared at the Waldbühne outside Berlin (Nazi associations through its origins, with the 1936 Berlin Olympic Stadium, and all).

Now he’s in demand as Lohengrin, his latest Wagner role. He sang this at Covent Garden and Houston Grand Opera to much acclaim last year.

There were wonderful Bayreuth anecdotes. Unexpectedly asked at his stage audition to sing a passage from Lohengrin, he confessed he needed the score for the words and hadn’t brought it. Wolfgang Wagner and Christian Thielemann were present and ventured to say that would not be a problem: after all, even Wagner’s autograph of Lohengrin was nearby!;… and Simon was overcome with awe.

Eva Wagner-Pasquier and Katharina Wagner ( the present joint artistic directors of Bayreuth) offered him both roles of Parsifal and Lohengrin at forthcoming Festivals.

Departing from Wagner, I liked his little story about singing Florestan in his Covent Garden Fidelio. Simon’s mind went blank at the start of Florestan’s opening aria in Act II. The house was quite dark, and suddenly it came to him: ‘Gott, welch’ Dunkel hier’. Someone up there helping…?

Throughout the conversation, Simon would get up and go to the piano to play the introductory bars to various episodes, and sing a few tantalizing phrases.

At the end of the first half, Terence took to the piano, as originally planned, explaining that he was about to play, perhaps for one of the few times in a century as it was long out of print, Busoni’s magnificent transcription of the Funeral music from Götterdämmerung. Not an orchestra certainly, but the powerful emotion was there in his splendid, sombre performance, and this provided the musical interlude to the second half of the session.

Dennis’s frequent interventions were quirky and wonderful. Just one: The 1936 Bayreuth production of Lohengrin, paid for by Hitler was offered as by the Führer as his present for the coronation season of Edward VIII, which never took place. The monarch is said to have responded that he was happy to receive the production “as long as I don’t have to sit through it.’ (you’ll note, no objection to a connection with Hitler however).

Also outside the Wagner realm though close to it, Simon’s recently recorded opera by Chausson Le Roi Arthus (King Arthur) was mentioned, as a proto-Wagner enterprise: he sings Lancelot in this, opposite the Guinevere of soprano Susan Bullock; with Antonio Pappano he went to Rome to sing Beethoven’s Ninth in the wonderful new Auditorio. And, significantly, before Christmas he sang Verdi’s Otello for the first time, at the Barbican Hall in London, under Sir Colin Davis at the eleventh hour – facing the big opening entrance Esultate! for the first time was singularly scary; the London reviews were sensational. In 2012, he sings in the Covent Garden Ring celebrating the London Olympics.

2013 is of course the big year – the bicentenary of Wagner’s birth (and of Verdi’s too – must stay alive for both). And Simon has frightened himself by saying yes to invitations to sing the Götterdämmerung Siegfried in Ring productions at such eminent opera houses as the Met, both the Deutsche Oper and the Staatsoper in Berlin, at Hamburg Staatsoper, Vienna Staatsoper, La Scala Milan and at Covent Garden.

There are Wagner roles Simon admits he’s still scared of: Meistersinger (the Third Act), Tannhäuser and Tristan. He’s done all the others. He has turned down offers to sing Rienzi in Berlin, several Tristans and Tannhäuser: these are the really exceedingly taxing Wagner tenor roles, and time is on his side for these in the future…..

There was a pretty large audience in the church; all were aware that they might be able to name drop in ten years about hearing O’Neill in his early years.

I have to thank Terence Dennis for reading my account and for making several corrections, amendments and additions. Lindis Taylor

A truly festive “Symphony of a Thousand”

MAHLER – Symphony No.8

(“Symphony of a Thousand”)

Twyla Robinson (sop.) / Marina Shaguch (sop.) / Sara Macliver (sop.) / Dagmar Peckova (m-sop.) / Bernadette Cullen (m-sop.) / Simon O’Neill (tenor) / Markus Eiche (baritone) / Martin Snell (bass)

New Zealand Youth Choir / Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir / Christchurch City Choir / Orpheus Choir of Wellington / Choristers of Wellington Cathedral of St.Paul

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Vladimir Ashkenazy (conductor)

New Zealand International Festival of the Arts Opening Concert Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington

Friday 26th February, 2010

No, it wasn’t opera, but it was in its own way as spectacular, and as an occasion did give a “festive” kind of thrill for all concerned, which was exactly what was wanted. This most flamboyant of all of Mahler’s works (its nickname “Symphony of a Thousand” stemming from the first public performance in Munich in 1910, conducted by the composer, in which 858 singers and 171 instrumentalists took part) is perhaps the most perfect festival offering that symphonic music can provide. Of course the work can be performed quite satisfactorily with somewhat lesser numbers, as it was on this occasion (three hundred choral voices, eight soloists and a hundred-and-twenty instrumentalists) all of whom when singing and playing together made a wonderful noise in Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre!

Spectacle was certainly one of the ingredients of the proceedings, to which was added the lustrous glow of the presence on the podium of one of the world’s most renowned musicians, Vladimir Ashkenazy. Originally finding fame and honour as one of the great interpreters of the romantic keyboard classics, Ashkenazy has for the past thirty years consolidated a “second career” as a conductor, though he continues to perform and record as a pianist. In the past I’d not associated him greatly with the music of Mahler, although he’s conducted the symphonies with various orchestras in different parts of the world, coming to them through his involvement with the music of Shostakovich, the latter a professed admirer of the older composer’s music. Ashkenazy has recorded several of the Mahler Symphonies with the Czech Philharmonic already, but over the next two years there are plans to both perform and record all of the symphonies with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, of which he’s Principal Conductor.

Along with Ashkenazy, the performance boasted an impressive lineup of soloists, one which included two New Zealanders presently building successful career portfolios as performers overseas, tenor Simon O’Neill and bass Martin Snell. With German baritone Markus Eiche the men made a formidable trio of voices, their strength and consistency overshadowing the women’s quartet, in which soprano Marina Shaguch alone seemed completely at home with her part, delivering her soaring lines with an ease and freedom that her colleagues couldn’t quite match. Fellow soprano Twyla Robinson approached her in fervour, even if her highest notes occasionally showed strain; while both mezzos, Dagmar Peckova and Bernadettte Cullen kept their lines secure and reliable throughout. If they seemed relatively underpowered in places when singing solo, they made up for it through their sterling ensemble work, especially amid the feverish energies of the Symphony’s first, and largely vocal part. Soprano Sara McLiver’s brief but mellifluous contribution to Part Two as Mater Gloriosa was another strength of the performance, her voice placed further back than the other soloists for an other-worldly effect, even if her all-too-workmanlike entrance and exit through the choral ranks somehow didn’t go with the ethereal quality of her singing.

Mahler’s intention with this work was to give the impression of “the whole universe beginning to sing and resound… longer human voices, but coursing planets and suns”. Ashkenazy very quickly set the music on its course at the start, galvanising his forces into action, almost before the audience had finished welcoming the great man onto the platform, and was settling itself down once again in preparation for the work’s beginning. The music was more fire and volatile energy in Ashkenazy’s hands than cosmic majesty, his precise beat keeping things moving, with the sound-surges erupting like geysers and blowholes, but without ever tipping over into stridency or incoherent noise. During Part One the few orchestra-only passages were packed with beautifully-articulated detail, the sheer effervescence of the string-playing more than compensating for a slight moment of imprecision at the final surge forward in tempo towards the end, where the build-up of overlapping voices and instrumental tones did indeed give the impression of the universe itself bursting into full-throated song.

By contrast with the “music of the spheres” aspect of the symphony’s opening, the second part takes us to the very heart of German Romanticism, Mahler’s setting of the final part of Goethe’s Faust. Here the orchestra paints a stark, rugged landscape representing a world of direct contact between nature and the human spirit – Goethe’s directions, reproduced with the text, speak of “Mountain, gorge, forest, cliff, desert”, with “Holy Anchorites…sheltering in rocky clefts”. Ashkenazy and the orchestra seemed to underline the contrasts within the instrumental prelude between the starker, more jagged and elemental writing, and passages of smoother, warmer legato harmonies, as if representing human aspiration and feeling seeking communion with these wild, rugged natural places. I felt the dry-ish aspect of the MFC robbed the hushed choral entries of much of their resonance and atmosphere, so that the musicians had to work that extra bit harder to convey the depth and fullness of Mahler’s vision – fortunately the performers possessed the necessary skill, concentration and focus to bring out the music’s raw power and sense of awe. Both Markus Eiche as Pater Ecstaticus and Martin Snell as Pater Profundus made the most of their wonderful declamations, the former energetic and passionate, the latter rich and sonorous, if ever-so-slightly troubled by the highest of his notes. As for Simon O’Neill, singing the part of Doctor Marianus, once one accepted a slightly “pinched” quality to his highest tones, his whole-hearted, engagingly radiant acclamation of the Mater Gloriosa, accompanied by the children’s and women’s choruses, readily evoked the presence of the “Eternal Feminine”, and even managed to transcend the incredibly cheesiness of the euphonium-accompanied string passage which Mahler wrote to depict Goethe’s directive “Mater Gloriosa soars into view”.

Throughout, the choruses gave their all, including the children’s choir whose singing made up in charm and point what it lacked in sheer volume, in places. After the magnificently energetic and all-encompassing fervour of Part One, the different choirs girded their loins and with Ashkenazy’s encouragement gave us exactly what the more diffuse Part Two demanded – long-breathed utterances interspersed with episodes of transcendent delight. What Mahler said about symphony – “It is like the world – it should contain everything!” was brought to triumphant fruition by the final “Chorus Mysticus”, whose gigantic paean of acclamation must have rumbled and shaken every fibre of being in the auditorium. Ashkenazy responded charmingly to the enthusiastic applause of the audience at the end by insisting upon repeated bows from the soloists, to further applause, and so on.

It’s well worth recording that, as if these goings-on within the Michael Fowler Centre weren’t enough to proclaim “festive occasion”, there were worlds wrought outside worlds for a wider audience, courtesy of good will and technological wizardry. The performance of the symphony was relayed “live” via big screen and speaker colonnades to a crowded Civic Square, an absolutely splendid gesture on the part of the festival organisers, the orchestra and, one supposes, Ashkenazy himself, as the concert itself had been sold out for many days beforehand. Happily, the weather was kind that evening, and the music-making was, according to my spies, conveyed vividly and truthfully enough to make for a memorable out-of-doors Mahlerian experience. So whether one was outside or within the hall, that sense of the spectacular and extraordinary was all around, which for an Arts Festival is, of course, just how it should have been.

‘Home’, a musical play of New Zealand and World War I

Weaving Scottish songs into a New Zealand war. (The Fringe Festival) 

Artistic direction: Jacqueline Coats; graphic design: Katie Chalmers; singers: Rowena Simpson and Stuart Coats; piano: Douglas Mews

Tararua Tramping Club, Moncrieff Street, Mount Victoria

Thursday 25 February 2010

The New Zealand war, so advertised in the production’s publicity, turns out to be not the land wars of the 19th century, but World War I, specifically the Gallipoli experience to which it has become fashionable to attribute the emergence of some sort of national New Zealand soul and identity.

The promotion also offers the following: “‘Home’ is an original performance of song and spoken word, weaving the story of Scottish immigrants into the story of a nation.  The performance uses diary entries and letters to tell the story of Maggie, a recent immigrant from Scotland, and Johnnie, a first generation New Zealander, who meet in Wellington just before the outbreak of WWI . The text is set to traditional Scottish folk songs from a book bought in Invercargill in the 1890s.”

It is a duodrama, with an important third performer in Douglas Mews who plays the piano accompaniments to the songs and some music on his own.

The action takes place in the very untheatrical space, a former church belonging to the Tararua Tramping Club. It’s 1910; the only props are two clothes lines with blankets hanging on them; there is no lighting or scenery to help distinguish the changes of place later in the action, from a New Zealand farm to the steep hills of Gallipoli.

After Douglas Mews has played a prelude consisting of a couple of Scottish folk songs, Johnny, Stuart Coats, welcomed us to a concert by the local Caledonian Society. He sings the first stanza of Mairi’s Wedding, calling up Maggie, a recent arrival from Scotland, to sing the rest. There’s initial attraction between them, a tactical blunder that temporarily separates them, then love which is again disturbed for a while by political differences (he’s a Massey supporter – not unexpected for a young man proud of his farming credentials while she, from a poor background, is Liberal), and then the war which inspires Johnny to enlist.

Scottish and North country songs illuminate each phase of the story, some tenuously. But both singers showed a vocal skill, musicality and theatrical flair that gave the piece its reality and proved the main source of enjoyment. Coats’s voice is coloured by a tremulous vibrato that recalls an older singing style that enhances the show’s authenticity. It would not be fair to say that Rowena Simpson’s accomplishment in early music styles through study in Holland and performance with various important baroque and classical ensembles was demanded here but her vocal talents were a major asset in the performance. The broad Scottish accent that she adopted was convincing if a bit hard to understand at times.

The core of the drama is conveyed through letters exchanged between the two, which each reads either as writer or recipient. Knowing, with hind-sight, the high risk of death or serious injury in that ill-conceived campaign, tension was automatic; the story exploited it well and the singers made it more believable than the unforgiving staging might have allowed.

The tension held till the very end when reports of Johnny’s missing were revealed as the result of a not uncommon name confusion, and he returns with only minor wounds to his happy wife.

The story prompted me to reflect on recent reading about the First World War. New Zealanders like to paint the Gallipoli experience as the key nation-building event, forged in the horror of casuality rates per head of population that were something extraordinary.

But it’s odd how our knowledge is so confined to the relatively limited British and Empire involvement in the war.

The chronology in the programme notes that 2721 New Zealanders died at Gallipoli, when New Zealand’s total population was just over a million. In the following year, 1916, the prolonged and hideous battle of Verdun claimed some 160,000 French lives, when France’s population was 40 million, some 60 percent greater than New Zealand’s losses on a per capita basis. German losses were not far short of the French.




The Tudor Consort sings Byrd

Motets from the two volumes of William Byrd’s Gradualia; two organ fantasias; Motet: ‘Domine quis habitabit’

The Tudor Consort conducted by Michael Stewart, with Douglas Mews (organ)

Sopranos Jane McKinlay, Anna Sedcole, Erin King; alto Andrea Cochrane; counter-tenor Dimitrios Theodoridis; tenors Philip Roderick and Richard Taylor; basses Brian Hesketh, Matthew Painter, Richard Walley.

Cathedral of the Sacred Heart; Saturday 13 February 2010

The Tudor Consort’s first concert of 2010 was wholly devoted to vocal liturgical music by William Byrd, apart from the inclusion of two of his keyboard fantasias played by Douglas Mews.

The choir’s director, Michael Stewart, spoke before the concert about Byrd’s two volumes of Gradualia, a term used sometimes used for the settings of the ‘Proper’ of the Mass – the part that varies according to the festivals of the church calendar – as well as for one section within the ‘Proper’; and he distinguished the ‘Proper’ from the ‘Ordinary’ of the mass whose six parts are unvarying: the usual content of musical mass settings. He also spoke of Byrd’s difficult times as a Catholic in the reign of Protestant monarchs Elizabeth I and James I, and the effect it had on his musical settings; and touched on the textual difficulties of Byrd’s publications, particularly of the first Volume of Gradualia.

Though ten members of the choir were on hand, most of the pieces were sung one voice to a part, varying between four and six voices; the final motet, ‘Domine quis habitabit’, demanded nine voices.

Though this was undoubtedly authentic in terms of the forces Byrd was probably limited to in Protestant England, we have no way of knowing whether, if his Catholic liturgical music had been written in times when performances did not have to be very private and small scale, he would not have expected a larger choir. Does it really serve the music well to pursue authenticity in such a literal way?

One voice to a part is undoubtedly a more challenging matter than singing in a larger choir where a good blend is probably easier to achieve and the experience for each singer is no doubt less nerve-wracking; and where the enjoyment of the audience might just be increased.

For the most part rehearsals seemed to have produced reasonable confidence in the singers. These are talented and well-schooled singers, but throughout the concert I was never unaware that the very distinct voices did not blend particularly well to create an illusion of real homogeneity.

The voices that stood out tended to be the high ones: the three sopranos and counter-tenor Dimitrios Theodoridis. In the pieces from the first volume of Gradualia, the strong and penetrating voices of Theodoridis and Anna Sedcole were conspicuous while mezzo Andrea Cochrane’s warm voice seemed rather better adapted to creating a successful blend. She, and the lower men’s voices, created an attractive liturgical ambience.

The ten singers took turns singing in each group of motets, adhering strictly to one voice to a part. The concert took examples of the 109 motets that comprise the two books, for various feasts or festivals: for the Virgin Mary in Advent, for Corpus Christi, for Pentecost, for the Assumption and for Saints Peter and Paul.

Jane McKinlay took over the soprano role in the next group, for Corpus Christi, her voice a little more readily blending, in the calm Offertory and the following ‘Ave verum corpus where hers was the only female voice, supported by the two tenors Philip Roderick and Richard Taylor and bass Matthew Painter; something of a real choral sound was produced. The singing succeeded in reflecting the gruesome nature of the words contemplating Christ’s mutilated body.

Though the range of vocal styles is limited, the subtle differences emerge as the ear and mind become acclimatized; the Sequence from the Pentacost Propers, ‘Veni sancta spiritus’ expressed through lively dotted rhythms, was an interesting case.

I detected some uncertainty in the next motet, ‘Factus est repente’ and raggedness in the Assumption Introit, ‘Gaudeamus omnes’. But the general precision and the scrupulous attention that had been paid to dynamics and intonation were far more noteworthy.

Douglas Mews played two fantasias on the chamber organ; the first, Byrd’s own arrangement of one of his fantasias for viol consort, the other an original organ fantasia. The first, in C, struck me as rather overcome by its subdued character, its interest lying in its slowly evolving textures; the second, in A minor, was probably an early piece, not very sophisticated though technically accomplished; the playing suggested some hesitancy.

The final motet, ‘Domine quis habitabit’, came as something of a welcome change, partly because it uses more voices and offered a wider sonic palette, with less tendency for individual voices to dominate. It too was an early work, as the programme note points out, thus closer in spirit and technique to Tallis, and perhaps not as representative of the mature Byrd as are the Gradualia. Nevertheless the constant, elaborate counterpoint was an impressive statement of the composer’s genius. It was a happy conclusion to the concert, allowing us finally to enjoy the essential strength and skill of the choir.

There is another question that I’m prompted to raise here.

In a time when Christian belief and practice are at a historic low, and familiarity with the terminology of the liturgy and church practice are only vaguely understood by the majority and probably not even very well by many Catholic adherents, is it time that the presumption of understanding of the arcane references to the liturgy and church ritual, without elucidation, was reconsidered? Short glossary notes should be routinely offered whenever such expressions are used.

While Stewart did explain the significance of the Ordinary and the Proper of the Mass, such pains were not routine. To take a few examples of terms for which no explanation was offered. First: the meaning and significance and place in the service of the Gradual, Antiphon, Introit, Offertory, Responsory, Eucharist; and what is ‘a votive mass’? And it should be routine to set down the dates and meanings of the various Christian feasts – Assumption, Pentecost, Advent, Annunciation, etc. There is a great deal more.

As with so much else in the realm of ‘classical’ music, the use of such terms, without simple explanation, is very likely one of the reasons this music is considered ‘elitist’, beyond the reach of the un-trained, the un-lettered: in fact, the great majority of people who are no longer exposed by their families, at any point in their school lives, or subsequently through the media, to religious liturgy or classical music of any kind.