Breaking The Waves, the new Missy Mazzoli-Royce Vavrek opera, caused a huge wave (ahem) of excitement when Opera Philadelphia premiered it in October – and even more when the production traveled to New York in January. As a result, reports Peter Dobrin, the company now has terrific word-of-mouth from artists, extra funding from new donors, and interest from some of the top opera houses in the world.
“It’s not just a question of whether you like the music, or think you like it; it’s a question of knowing that it exists. Although Glass has written 11 symphonies, [conductor Dennis Russell] Davies says that when a major American orchestra was recently approached about performing Glass, the response was, ‘But he doesn’t write symphonies.'” Midgette talks with Davies about understanding the music Glass has actually written (as opposed to what some people think he’s written).
HMV said it was closing the stores across Canada because it was losing tons of money. But upstart music retailer Sunrise Records is making a major bet it can expand quickly to make the stores profitable. “A lot of the younger consumers still love having something tangible,” argues the company’s enterprising young CEO
Francesca Dego, in a Q&A, asked about her musical guilty pleasures: “My guilty pleasures are usually not musical! Does not practising count? I’ve gone on holiday a couple of times without my violin and although I try to convince myself that bringing it would have been useless, because sunbathing and practising don’t coexist well, guilt usually strikes after a couple of days.”
Maybe. Of course, “many rival camps on the identity of Beethoven’s ‘immortal beloved’ have developed over the years,” but it could be a married, religious aristocrat who held the key to Beethoven’s heart – and his later, more intense work.
The New York Philharmonic faces off against the Vienna Phil, both turning 175 years old this spring, in a joint exhibition of their archives in Manhattan. Can the NY institution measure up to this? “‘Damn and blast it! Confound it! Wake up!’ the conductor and composer Otto Nicolai wrote in his impassioned draft of the Vienna Philharmonic’s foundation charter.”
Shocker: What should win Best Score and what is going to win Best Score aren’t remotely the same.
“Why then, when we think of music, do we think of Chuck Berry’s Gibson 335, Mick Jagger’s lips, the cover of Revolver, Michael Jackson’s zombies, Blue Note’s stark photography, and Madonna’s breasts?” As one music historian points out, “It just didn’t occur to people that you could correspond the music to some kind of visual image. Someone had to think of that.” Scott Timberg looks at the history of what happened after someone did think of it.
“The path of least resistance for anyone with a lot of sound-making tools is to keep making more sounds. The path of discipline is to say: Let’s see how few we can get away with.”
Many members of the audience may not notice that some of the more fantastic effects in the score are its main themes contorted beyond recognition. But the filmmakers do wink at the audience when they include a more traditional kind of chopped and screwed track: the slowed-down mix of Jidenna’s “Classic Man” that plays in the background in this scene.
The band directors at Spring Lake, outside of St. Paul, Minnesota, have pledged to include at least one piece by a female composer and one by a composer of color in each concert, for each of the school’s bands. “We made a commitment this year to only buy music from composers of color,” says Brian Lukkasson, one of the directors. He says it’s been hard, but not because those composers aren’t writing for band. They are.
“What the California Symphony discovered, in short, was that “almost every single piece of negative feedback was about something other than the performance.” Another important discovery was that it’s single-ticket buyers, not veteran subscribers, who are most likely to use the orchestra’s website.”
Ted Hearne’s The Source premiered in Brooklyn in 2014, when Manning had been eclipsed by Edward Snowden; it played in Los Angeles just before the election; it’s now, early in the Trump era, about to open in San Francisco. Hearne talks with Zachary Woolfe about the piece’s content and context, then and now.
More groups and composers are competing for donors. Jim Farber looks at how some organizations, large and small, and handling the challenge.
The announcement said no more than this: “We would like to thank the fans of WBACH and classical music for listening over the years and we regret any inconvenience as a result of the changes.” WBACH’s frequency is now used to simulcast a country station just a little ways down the dial.
“The new four-building complex, set to open in 2019, represents the largest building initiative at Tanglewood since the opening of Ozawa Hall more than two decades ago.”
“Philip Glass and John Corigliano are both regarded as classical composers first and foremost despite their work for the cinema. But both, as Jed Distler found out, find that the lines between classical and film music are by no means clear-cut.”
“Some journalists want me, of course, to say it’s because I never smoked, or because I’m a vegetarian, or because I keep the Sabbath.” [Blomstedt is a Seventh-Day Adventist.] “But that’s not the reason. …. Churchill drank lots of whiskey and smoked enormous big cigars, and he lived to be 90 or so.”
“The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans (MACCNO), a local advocacy group, issued a statement that, in part, noted that what wasn’t spelled out in the plan was as concerning as what was. So what exactly happens at 3 a.m.? While the draft didn’t get into specifics, city officials suggested that people on the street would then be “encouraged” to go inside or go home.”
General manager Emma Wilkinson said that while no one knows what the future may look like, the orchestra decided that moving to Antwerp now would be wise. She fears that the loss of free movement would make life for musicians very difficult: “I do worry that European orchestras will not be inviting talented British musicians to work with them. It will just be too bureaucratically difficult.”
Or rather, is its future going to be trimmed? “Miami is expensive. Everything from lodging and food to transportation costs a pretty penny down there, and the orchestra is an enormous outfit. If saving money is a goal, an effective move would be to reduce the amount of time the ensemble spends there.”
Take learning by ear, combine it with some out-of-control pop psychology, and mix in experimentation and perhaps some flat-out lies of biography, and you’ll get this pedagogy that powers much of North American violin teaching.
The director, a mezzo-soprano in the symphony choir of Milan, says that it’s rare for people to be truly tone deaf – though in Italy, a land with little public music education, they may believe themselves to be so. She says, “Most people who come to the choir only have to learn how to listen, though that is the most difficult thing.”
A conductor who had Michael Tilson Thomas as a mentor for years says, “If I don’t mentor folks and get involved with them, then who’s going to care for the next generation? In my mind, a mentor is someone who can actually serve as a role model for what a great person or a great musician might be, and that’s where you’re going to get folks hopefully emulating and striving to do that kind of work. … Those are the kinds of musicians you want around.”
“I think one of the most interesting things is the number of people who really don’t have music playing in their homes. It’s quite striking across the nine countries we surveyed. Something as simple as entertaining friends and family: 84% of people in Sweden, 83% of people in the U.K., 79% of people in the U.S. don’t play music when they have friends over.”
“The canon of musical minimalism tends to be set in stone, carved like Mount Rushmore: Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, La Monte Young. It’s solid, immovable, but the lineup has long lacked for figures who are under-acknowledged or under-appreciated – most notably Tony Conrad.” Jennifer Lucy Allan fills us in.
“Google’s latest artificial intelligence experiment is a music-playing piano bot that digests whatever keyboard melodies you give it and tries to respond in kind.” But does it succeed in responding in kind? Nick Statt tries it out. (includes video)
“As an exploration of an underrepresented subculture, cultural economic inequities, and the soul-strengthening properties of failure, “Mozart” has done right by its viewers all along. But this season’s emphasis on the need to fight the good fight no matter how futile it may seem is not only relevant but resonant.”
“I suggest that composers give up using their music to change people’s minds. (When I say “minds,” I really mean people’s beliefs, opinions, and convictions.) I do not, please notice, suggest that anyone stop trying to change minds altogether, only that they stop using music to do it. Argument, not art, is the best tool for proving opinions. Music is poorly suited for that. But music is very well suited, or least it can be, for helping people to change their habits, especially habits of thinking and perceiving.”