“What what the paper archives make clear, through [Arthur] Russell’s personal notes — often written in small music-composition notebooks — is how much he sought to incorporate a conscious sense of openness and flexibility into his work. Some of his most useful notes, probably from the early 1980s, deal with ‘World of Echo.’ Here he wrestled with the idea of form and completeness in fascinating ways, often using the notation ‘p Idea’ (the p may have stood for parenthetical).”
“Freed from the anguish of choosing, music listeners can discover all kinds of weird, nettlesome, unpleasant, sublime, sweet, or perplexing musical paths. These paths branch off constantly, so that by the end of a night that started with the Specials, you’re listening to Górecki’s Miserere, not by throwing a dart, but by following the quite specific imperatives of each moment’s needs, each instant’s curiosities.”
“There are a lot of people who are really frightened about what’s going on at the moment. I’m the opposite. I think it’s an amazing time. It’s a golden era for bands. You’ve just got to be aware. You’ve got to be savvy with the technology that’s coming and adapt it to you, or you to it, whatever it might be. I’m optimistic, because I’m sure there are other things coming that are going to be really useful. But most of it involves direct access to fans.”
Well, this particular mathematician, Scott Rickard, started with the premise (which he attributed to “most musicologists”) that “repetition is a key aspect of beauty.” Then, as he explains in this 2011 TED talk, he employed the math behind sonar pings to create a work employing all 88 notes on the piano keyboard and avoiding any sort of repetition. (video)
“The former Boston Symphony Orchestra music director” – now 80 and a survivor of esophageal cancer – “had been scheduled to conduct the ensemble for the first time since 2008, but doctors have now recommended otherwise.”
Classical crossover is hardly new, but groups like Apocalyptica, the Piano Guys, and 2Cellos are taking a harder, more rock-oriented approach than, say, André Rieu or Vanessa-Mae ever did. They’re also acquiring some serious fans and social media mojo.
Norman Lebrecht: “Twenty years ago, the Met was running at 90 per cent. Twenty years earlier, you could not buy or beg a seat most nights, such was the crush of seasonal subscribers and the force of their loyalty. So what has gone wrong? And, critically — for this is a crisis — what can be done about it?”
“A YouGov survey last week produced the interesting statistic that only 6 per cent of 35-55 year olds subscribe to a music streaming service. As you’d expect, 16 per cent of 14-34 year olds have subscriptions, and only 3 per cent of those over 55 are signed up. Still, that Gen X figure sticks out a little. The reasons put forward for disliking streaming include complexity of existing services, the subscription angle, and the fact that CDs and radio are easier to use.”
In a letter to company employees revealing that they won’t be receiving incentive bonuses for the previous season, general director Stéphane Lissner lists the problems: revenue off €2 million since the beginning of 2016; plunging ticket sales (reportedly down by €5 million), due partly to the terrorist attacks; performances cancelled due to demonstrations by the intermittents … (in French; Google Translate version here)
“Paul Hogle, executive vice president of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra since 2010 and a key architect of the organization’s post-strike resurrection, is leaving to become president of the Cleveland Institute of Music. … Hogle, who grew up near Cleveland and saw one of his daughters, a violist, graduate from CIM last year, ends his six-year tenure in Detroit in early July.”
Viswa Subbaraman, who began his three-season tenure at Skylight with a daring Bollywood-themed Fidelio, said, “I’ve been wrestling with this for a few months. I love the work here and the Skylight, but I am convinced that my greatest joy and greatest strength is on the podium.”
Ernst Ottensamer and his son Daniel are principal clarinets at the Vienna Philharmonic; baby brother Andreas is principal at the Berlin Philharmonic. Together, they’re the Clarinotts, and they’re commissioning new triple concertos and releasing an album.
The re-founded company’s plans for 2016-17 look more like what its team had been promising than did this year’s hastily assembled season. There will be only one warhorse, paired with a less-familiar title; the return of a star director (Harold Prince) to a landmark production from the ’80s; the long-delayed New York premiere of a well-known 21st-century opera; and two chamber works, one a Spanish Baroque rarity and the other a “CNN opera”. The new City Opera has even announced its first commission.
“Middletown Symphony Orchestra’s 75th anniversary next year will also mark its grand finale. Steve Ifcic, the symphony’s board chairman, said the board ‘has unanimously made the decision to close the curtain on the orchestra and end our musical programs in May of 2017 at the end of the 2016/2017 concert season.'”
“Is there a way forward for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the aftermath of its current case of triple jeopardy? That’s the big question confronting its board of directors. For the third time in less than two decades, the TSO is in crisis mode with its future in jeopardy.”
“According to Pentagon data from fiscal 2015, the last time the Defense Department did a full inventory, the military spends at least $437 million a year on musicians, their instruments, special uniforms, travel and related costs. That marks a steady rise from previous years, even as the Pentagon insists the services have cut a sizable number of musical troupes. By some official estimates, it’s now spending $100 million more a year than in 2011.”
Participants were given 36 evaluative terms (including sad, happy, angry, intelligent, and sophisticated), and judged the extent to which each excerpt fit the description. Analyzing the results, the researchers determined the musical snippets could be effectively categorized on three basic scales: “arousal,” “valence,” and “depth.”
Mark Stryker on the new $100,000 M-Prize: “There were two major disappointments with the 15-member jury’s winner. The judges missed a golden opportunity to manifest the progressive DNA so earnestly built into M-Prize and best symbolized by the inclusiveness of the open division. More lamentable, the decision forfeited the chance to make a transformative investment in the future of the art form, a core value of the competition. Instead, the winner simply reinforces the status quo.”
“Choristers — who in British and American cathedral choirs usually range from eight to 13, with continental choirs retaining their singers until the age of 19—typically rehearse together daily, making their decision to team up in ensembles of their own making less risky. They form an immediate talent pool of skilled musicians who enjoy making music together, and know one another’s musical likes and personalities.”
Theodore Kuchar: “Fifteen [years] is a large number, but, hey, I wanted to stay in Fresno … [CEO Stephen Wilson] wants me out of town as quickly as possible so people forget.” Says Wilson, “It is fair to say that the relationship between music director and exec director in professional symphony orchestras is a complex one. … For an organization to be successful, it absolutely has to be a partnership.”
Minnesota Opera prop master Jenn Maatman: “One of the big things about the movie that was wrong, as far as King is concerned, is that Jack used an ax. In the book it was a croquet mallet. I think that’s really fabulous.”
“Although we can regularly screen out the thoughts, sounds, images, memories, opinions and ideas of others as foreign and potentially noxious, it ain’t the same with music.”
“In any reasonable world, the Beatles are the answer to the question ‘Who will be the Sousa of rock?’ But our world is not reasonable. And the way this question will be asked tomorrow is (probably) not the same way we would ask it today.”
“Those of us who didn’t freak at the sight of a rabbit in a winged helmet sliding off of the back of a fat horse—we went into opera.”
“Start said the two sessions per day creates an undue hardship on many musicians because many do other work – with other musical groups or in jobs not related to music – to make their living.”
“One point is clear. The future of the TSO depends on its 19-member board and how they respond to a situation that has spun out of control under their watch.”
“Under certain circumstances, in the right place and the right time — particularly if there’s a really powerful female monarch in place who wants somebody to justify their rule and their power, [and] might want a kind of poster girl for female talent — you could succeed.”
“With disconcertingly few exceptions, time erodes the reputations of the famous. Names that were once metaphors for extraordinary skill, physical prowess or moral courage become, at best, only vaguely recalled. That decay, though, is uneven.”
The grand prize at the inaugural M-Prize Chamber Arts Competition, held at the University of Michigan, was won by the Calidore String Quartet of New York. The competition, created by Sphinx Competition founder Aaron Dworkin, has divisions for strings and winds as well as an open category which covers percussion groups, mixed ensembles, and other combinations.
“In most cases, these instruments’ histories are even older than most contemporary Western instruments. For example, the ‘xiao’ (a vertical end-blown flute) and ‘dizi’ (a traverse—e.g. horizontal—side-blown flute) both have histories and performance practices that date back thousands of years.”