Current Happenings

In this week's History Knox, I consider the case of Daniel Decatur Emmett, the nineteenth century minstrel born and raised in Mount Vernon, Ohio, who wrote a little song that would result in him becoming hugely successful... and then derided and despised when the song became the anthem of the Confederate States of America. It's the story of "Dixie," the southern classic that was written by a Yankee from Knox County, Ohio.

In my latest Cleveland Orchestra review, I witness what happens when a sage like Herbert Blomstedt brings Mozart and Brahms to the Cleveland Orchestra's summer home at the Blossom Music Center. Particularly fascinating was the effect the music had on one young listener in the audience, who appeared to experience a life-changing event when the spirit of the music seized him. 

Brittany Schock interviews me about why I choose to remain in rural Ohio instead of working in New York City or Los Angeles on her fantastic podcast Why the Hell am I Here?

This week's History Knox column tells the story of how ambition and greed led Lansford Hastings into promoting a little-used alternate path to California that resulted in horrific death for dozens of people in the now infamous Donner Party. And that wasn't even Hastings only misadventure in a strange and colorful life that ended on the Virgin Islands as Hastings was attempting to shuttle a group of ex-Confederates to a new colony in Brazil. Read about it here on Knox Pages.

I will be speaking at the All Souls Unitarian-Universalist Church in Bellville, Ohio, on Sunday, July 22, in a program titled "Untangling Merlin's Beard." I will look at the historical roots of the Merlin figure and how he transformed into a key archetype in western culture.

Vilde Frang demonstrated what an intense, moving piece of music Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto is during her recent Cleveland Orchestra concert at Blossom Music Center. The concert was Frang's debut with the Cleveland Orchestra, and even in a work with such a subdued ending, it brought the audience to its feet. I hope she'll become a regular visitor at Blossom and Severance.


The concert also included a Schumann symphony and an Antheil rarity, all conducted by John Storgards.


My review at Seen & Heard International.





This week's 

History Knox column talks about distelfinks, and features a rare pre-Civil War photograph of Adam Yearous, a weaver who used distel-finks in his work.




The Cleveland Orchestra's Blossom Music Festival opened over the weekend with fireworks musical and literal. My review is at Seen & Heard International.




In this week's History Knox column, I talk about the Friends who stopped being friendly: the early Quakers of Knox County, Ohio. All that remains is the graveyard next to the grove of trees where their meeting house once stood.



Join me Monday, July 9, at the Huron Public Library at 6:30 pm for my talk "Great Romances in Classical Music." Stories, pictures, and music, and it's free!



Announcing the debut of History Knox, my weekly column on local history for Knox Pages. I'm delighted to get back to writing about the interesting past of Knox County, Ohio, and have many stories and pictures planned!





Whatever else is wrong with the world, we have Beethoven's Ninth in the plus column. My thoughts on a recent Apollonian performance by Franz Welser-Most and the Cleveland Orchestra.


I am pleased to announce that I have been awarded an individual excellence grant by the Ohio Arts Council for my work in criticism!



I have been officially dubbed a Wagner skeptic by my editor. Validation! The skeptic's report on a concert performance of Tristan und Isolde by the Cleveland Orchestra.


I take a look at a 400-year old opera based on 2500-year old plays inspired by 5000+ year-old stories in my latest review: Apollo's Fire performing Monteverdi's L'Orfeo (with a reconstructed ending!).



I talk about cartoon music for aesthetes and the ethics of ignoring a composer's wishes in my latest Cleveland Orchestra review, with Jory Vinokour as soloist in Poulenc's 'Concerto champtre' and Stephane Deneve conducting that and Rachmaninoff's 2nd.


In my latest review, I examine audience psychology in an attempt to figure out why part of the audience loved Elgar's Second as performed by Nikolaj Znaider and the Cleveland Orchestra, while part of the crowd fled.



My latest review goes to "Three Duels and a Wedding" with Apollo's Fire.


My classical best of the year for 2017 is up on my Facebook page!


I have posted a new opinion piece at Voices from the Borderland regarding the Ohio connections of an international arts scandal. Read here.


The first book in the Sam Slammer mystery series, "Slammer, Private Dick" is available at as an e-book or paperback or by clicking on the button below.


Sam Slammer is the world’s least succesful private eye. His office is in his elderly parents' garage in small-town Ohio. Most of his cases involve rescuing cats from trees with the help of his long-time best friend, sidekick, and roommate, Bohuslav. But the moment the intriguingly-endowed Judy McCool strolls in with a case the clueless sleuth can’t refuse, all hell breaks loose. Before he’s done, Slammer will be sucked up into a comic romp of international proportions that could end up dropping him in bed with his buddy or with his client, but not even Sam knows which side of the fence he’ll be sitting on when the case is cracked.


Look for the second book in the series, "Dicks in Space," in early 2018.




Upcoming Appearances


 Mark will be speaking about "Great Romances in Classical Music" at the library in Huron, Ohio, on Monday, July 9, at 6:30 pm.


"Untangling Merlin's Beard" will find Mark talking about the historical roots of the wizard archetype in European myth and fiction at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bellville on Sunday, July 22, at 10:30 am.




Latest Reviews


An entertaining horror story for orchestra was a welcome debut, even if it wasn't an ideal program partner for Mahler's 9th. My review of a concert the Cleveland Orchestra is about to take to Carnegie Hall.


In my latest, I examine what worked and what didn't work in the Cleveland Orchestra debut of acclaimed young Finnish conductor Mikko Franck.


A spectrally elusive piano concerto from Salvatore Sciarrino meets Bruckner's epic Symphony No. 4 in my latest Cleveland Orchestra review.


A stunning Christmas program starting with Celtic music and ending with Appalachian folk music was premiered in Mansfield by Apollo's Fire. Here's my hard-nosed review.


Margaret Brouwer's Voice of the Lake was premiered Sunday in Cleveland by the Blue Streak Ensemble. My review.


Tenor Nicholas Phan created a pastiche of late renaissance/early baroque songs to create a song cycle in the manner of Schubert. He performed it with Apollo's Fire, along with a surprise encore no one ever thought they'd hear at a period instrument concert, unless the period was the 1980s!


In my latest review, I ponder pi and what it has to do with Elgar's Enigma Variations, performed lovingly by Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Cleveland Orchestra.


Composer Margaret Brouwer will be premiering an environmentally themed oratorio, Voice of the Lake, in Cleveland on November 12. Read my interview with her at Seen & Heard International.


It's an electric happening when Apollo's Fire makes music, especially if music director Jeannette Sorrell is on a mission like she was with the recent premiere of her practical performance adaptation of Handel's great but unwieldy Israel in Egypt.


My official review of the Cleveland Orchestra performance of Mahler's Sixth under Franz Welser-Most is up at Seen & Heard International.


A formal review of this concert will be coming soon, but I had to do a personal response on the Voices from the Borderland blog


Apollo's Fire, the Cleveland baroque orchestra, performed a concert of ancient Middle Eastern music at the Akron Art Museum. My review:


Reflections on the revival of a clever production of Janacek's "The Cunning Little Vixen" by the Cleveland Orchestra:


A review and commentary about the new music director of the Mansfield Symphony, Octavio Mas-Arocas and why his arrival is important to the whole community:


More of Mark Sebastian Jordan's reviews can be read at Seen & Heard International.

How to Find Us

Sinister Hand Media

c/o Mark S. Jordan
7528 Township Road 462

Loudonville, OH 44842

Phone: +1 740/5079925 +1 740/5079925

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