“Most of the discussion about race in the operatic world revolves around singers, rather than composers, of color. What this conversation risks missing is that notably inventive work, particularly work foregrounding black creators, is already being done elsewhere—namely, on the institutional margins, by companies like OperaCréole, whose smaller size affords them the opportunity for innovation.”
The lathe democratized music production and distribution, just as mixtapes, file-sharing, streaming services, and platforms like Bandcamp did. And musicians have rediscovered it.
“After John Coltrane’s death, there wasn’t an easy road ahead for a musician like her. His legacy was enormous. At the time, jazz was nearly completely dominated by male players. And Alice’s own music was experimental, to say the least. Even so, she made a string of albums for major jazz labels in the 1960s and 70s.” Then she started to withdraw from commercial music, and she founded an ashram.
In this case, he has to bring himself back down to earth – and work. “No matter how well things turned out (or at least appeared to), it’s important for me not to believe my own ‘hype.’ What I’m really left with, in the end, is an opportunity.”
The noises Suzanne Ciani created “for perhaps her most infamous sound effect, she says, were invented in a matter of minutes. ‘My brain was working at lightning speed in those days,’ she laughs, of how she came up with Coca Cola’s signature pop, bubble and fizz. … ‘It was brazen. But I was desperate, I was starving. I was in New York living on Canal Street for $75 a month, and I was propelled by hunger, really.'”
In addition, there was a “restructuring,” but it didn’t affect any musicians.
A study says yes. “The research analysed 1,250 songs released between 1960 and 2008, and found that, while only 7% of songs from the 60s were about sex, that number had increased to 40% by the end of the study.”
Maybe? Heartbeat Opera is trying. Co-writer Jacob Ashworth “said he expected many audience members to be relieved to see an adaptation that confronts the opera’s biggest issues. ‘No more trying to enjoy the beauty while quietly bearing the racism,’ he said.”
The composer created experiences that are hard to recreate: “A student of Karlheinz Stockhausen and a collaborator with John Cage and Merce Cunningham, Amacher had some of her greatest successes with huge sound-design installations tailored for specific spaces. These ‘linked room’ works exploited psychoacoustic effects that she pioneered: A foyer might hit the spectator with high-pitched tones meant to excite strange inner-ear responses. An adjoining space could feature quiet, slowly fading bass frequencies, lingering at the edge of auditory perception.”
Things weren’t pretty on the classical music scene in Cowtown this past season. The Fort Worth Symphony went through an ugly strike; Fort Worth Opera’s board fired the company’s very successful general director without warning; the Symphony’s venue, Bass Performance Hall, threw out the music director because he was carrying his kid’s violin, for crying out loud. Peter Simek surveys the damage, talks to the orchestra’s CEO (who’s now quitting and leaving the music business), and finds out that the Opera’s director was fired basically because he’d been so good at his job.
Amy Adkins, whose six-year tenure included a bitter 3½-month labor dispute at the beginning of this season, departs in July to head a hospital foundation.
Until about three weeks ago, the entire ensemble had been expecting to give the first concerts ever by an American orchestra in the country as part of this year’s East Asia tour. But Mongolia’s suffering through a severe economic crisis, and all that could be salvaged is a three-day visit by 18 of the Philadelphians. David Patrick Stearns (who’ll be with them) gives a preview of what’ll be happening – and explains why the Mongolians only gave three weeks’ notice that the whole orchestra couldn’t come.
“It’s a circular problem: classical music is a field strongly defined by role models and mentor relationships, and with few broadly visible women at the top, only so many young women feel compelled to enter and ascend the ranks. And due to concerns about optics and impropriety, the close mentoring of female students by male teachers can be fraught and complicated. But grim statistics and interpersonal dynamics aren’t the only factors that reinforce this imbalance: it’s also the subtle currents of problematic gender messaging—in academia, the media, and the culture at large—that can toxify the soil in which young female musicians hope to grow their careers.”
“It was composer pitted against composer: uptown vs. downtown, tonal vs. atonal, left brain vs right brain, and these musicians were NOT pulling any punches. Composers were antagonizing each other, questioning each other’s validity, and bad-mouthing one another; it was like the second half of the 20th century was when Western Music went through middle school, and it was brutal! … On this episode of Meet the Composer, we unravel one of the most contentious periods in classical music’s history.” (podcast)
Just now they’re in Helsinki, the start of a nine-city European tour under the baton of Osmo Vänskä. As Curtis president and former Philadelphia Orchestra principal violist Roberto Díaz tells David Patrick Stearns, “It looks great on paper, but actually doing it is really, really hard work. Preparing for events like this is a huge part of their educations.”
Joep Beving, who lives in Amsterdam, performed and recorded his “mood music” album, Solipsism, for the enjoyment of his family. Then, partly for fun, he made it available on music-streaming service Spotify. He never imagined that the contemplative, atmospheric piano tunes would draw such a vast audience worldwide. But such was the popularity of Solipsism that four record companies were soon fighting over him, and he has now been signed by Deutsche Grammophon (DG).
Linda Reichert, who co-founded the city’s Network for New Music in 1984, will step down as artistic director at the end of next season. “In its 33 years, the Network for New Music ensemble, flexible in size and instrumental makeup, has performed more than 500 new works plus 138 commissioned by the organization itself.”
That’s what Kennedy Center president Deborah Rutter is doing, and Midgette “understand[s] the instinct. The performing arts have increasingly devolved into a field in which artists become cogs in a machine operated by other people, from managers and programmers through to stage directors and conductors. … Putting artists in the driver’s seat may seem like an ideal corrective. But bringing artists in as programmers, in capacities they’re not trained in, doesn’t necessarily alter the current model. Indeed, it may reaffirm it.”
A new study by Music Week magazine shows it now takes an average of 4.53 writers to create a hit single. The publication analysed the 100 biggest singles of 2016, and found that only four were credited to a single artist.
“The awful outcome of these Cold War games is that anyone could plant a rumour and nothing could be disproved. Every musician had dealings with the ‘organs of state’ and we have no way of knowing which of them weakened and succumbed. What endures in my mind is this vision of a closed room in which members of a piano trio, a string quartet or a symphony orchestra would look around and wonder, which of my friends is about to betray me? That is the ultimate epitaph of Soviet culture.”
“Even if a mediocre hall had resulted, the avoidance of the usual cultural-political imbroglio would have been newsworthy. But Boulez Saal is a masterpiece of its kind. It consists of two elliptical-shaped seating areas, one on the ground level and one suspended above, each tilted on a different axis. The floor of the upper ellipse also curves up and down, giving the hall an unfixed, fluctuating profile. As in Disney Hall, bright wood tones—Douglas fir, cedar, and red oak—predominate. The capacity is six hundred and eighty-two. Listeners are never more than fifty feet from the musicians, who are often placed at the center of the auditorium. Those in the front row could turn pages, if asked. In all, the atmosphere is convivial and unshowy, despite the flamboyance of Gehry’s swooping lines.”
For one thing, what is a concept album, anyway? For another, here’s what Paul told a biographer about the Beatles’ mindset when making it: “We really hated that fucking four little mop-top boys approach. We were not boys, we were men. It was all gone, all that boy shit, all that screaming, we didn’t want any more. Plus, we’d now got turned on to pot and thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers.”
“Orchestras can no longer rely on old-fashioned subscription models. Music education is not guaranteed in public schools, and in a positive sense the entire history of classical music can all be streamed online for free. So the world I knew, and have worked in, and will continue to work in will not be the one you move through in your careers. … Together we have to forge a more profound and timely connection between our music, the music that we love, and the rest of the world.”
In the 2015-16 season, the Met took in 66 percent of its potential capacity. Some numbers are improving a bit more substantially: The company’s paid attendance rate, which includes discounted tickets, rose to 75 percent this season from 72 percent in 2015-16. And the company said it attracted 80,000 new ticket buyers this season, up from 74,000 the year before. The challenge is turning those newcomers into regulars.
Why this building? What about its design, its location and the implicit social messages embedded in its architecture have made it so successful? Carsten Brosda, a senator in Hamburg’s state government and head of its cultural authority, says location is a primary factor in its success. “I was never a fan of iconic buildings because so many of them are rather generic,” he says. But Elbphilharmonie is exceptional, located in the geographical heart of the city, on a site that demanded some exceptional public use. “There were architects saying this is on the verge of being unbuildable, but that is what makes it unique.”
The Orchestra hasn’t had a series on national radio since 1990. Now ,”starting with a broadcast Monday night and continuing three times a week for at least the next year, concerts recorded in Verizon Hall will be carried on SiriusXM radio, a paid service with a monthly fee, to listeners across the U.S. and Canada.”
Ravi’s daughter Anushka Shankar: “Here he was aged 90, not yet content to rest on his laurels but still wanting to push the boundaries to further horizons. It was simply another area in which my father was able to imagine something that hadn’t been done yet – an Indian opera. Such a thing had incredible scope for creating bridges between two wonderful traditions from the east and west.”
Right now, it feels like a work “with grand social and political reverberations. Yet, for its composer, the work arose from deeply personal motives.”
“We are used to talking about composers who live on through their music. But music teachers enjoy an almost genealogical immortality through their students, regardless of those pupils’ later fame. Because music making is practiced through the body, teachers imprint their students with the specific physical traits of their craft: gestures, tics and preferences that those students may in turn pass on to yet another generation.”
“The standing ovation shook the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoon, with confetti made from ripped-up programs cascading down from the theater’s highest balcony as a bouquet of pink roses was tossed to the stage. Renée Fleming, the star soprano, had just bid farewell to one of her signature roles — the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier.'”