“The research goes somewhat against the old assumption that simply repeating a motor skill over and over again – for example, practising scales on the piano or playing the same level on your game over and over again – was the best way to master it. Instead, it turns out there might be a quicker (and more enjoyable) way to level up.”
“We’re looking at classical music and the broader arts as being woefully under-representative of the communities in which they reside. That’s one piece of the puzzle, but it’s only the art form. Then I see key minority communities that are strongly represented in the population but not represented in the field. There’s this reciprocal void that has to do with history, barriers, lack of opportunities, lack of access. To bridge that gap is where Sphinx comes in.”
The work opens at Opera Philadelphia this weekend, following its world premiere last summer at “the open-air Santa Fe Opera, … one of the most beloved venues in the country. But one hears of comments about not having to compete with Mother Nature, and how singing after stage combat is easier when not at a 7,199-foot elevation.”
“Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles are three exceptional American cities, with robust economies and a surfeit of culture. I was interested in comparing a triad of slightly smaller metros and their festivals because they seemed very different in their histories, culture, and senses of place.” Richard Florida talks to sociologist Jonathan R. Wynn, author of Music/City: American Festivals and Placemaking in Austin, Nashville, and Newport.
“Over the past four decades, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has established a reputation for selecting the right conductors to become its music directors at exactly the right moment in their careers, a record that any orchestra in the world would envy.”
Véronique Gens, 49, was singing Béatrice in a concert revival of Benjamin Godard’s 1889 opera Dante at the old Royal Opera in Versailles. As she reached her final phrase – “Where the angels gather human tears to change them into stars” – she lost control of her voice and collapsed, first into the arms of the mezzo and then to the floor, her head lolling on her chest. The mezzo signaled to stop the music and an ambulance was called. The cause was evidently a sudden loss of blood pressure. (in French; Google Translate version here)
“Chicago Symphony Orchestra Music Director Riccardo Muti has withdrawn from his Feb. 11-20 residency here so he can recover from a hip operation following a minor accident, an orchestra spokeswoman announced Tuesday night.”
“I don’t want anyone saying that I sang such-and-such a thing better five years ago. So I’ve decided that Rosenkavalier at Covent Garden and the Met next season will be my last mainstream opera appearances. It’s not retirement – I might be tempted by something newly written, but I’m not going to cling on. There’s plenty else I want to do.”
She’s 29-year-old Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (just call her Mirga) from Lithuania, and she begins her term this September. Her predecessors at the CBSO are Andris Nelsons, Sakari Oramo, and Simon Rattle – and look what they’ve gone on to.
“Translating an ephemeral medium like music into a physical object brings unavoidable challenges, namely the fact that music is inherently dynamic in both tempo and tone. An architectural installation, by its very nature, wants to be still.”
How the physical layouts of cities (and the ways people use them) shape the kinds of music that grow up there.
“Paul Meecham, who became president and CEO of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra a decade ago after a period of high deficits and rocky morale, and quickly corrected its course, is stepping down at the end of June to take a similar position with the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera.”
“The moment of truth came last summer. For months the group had considered ending their run. No one person led the way. … All options were considered, including bringing in replacements – as problematic as that might be. The quandary included subtle cracks in the foundation, including the normal wear and tear and frustration that occur in any group, particularly in one so often like a marriage.”
“These may not be the best—maybe they will never be the best—but they are intriguing. They play by their own rules, and they grab your attention. A week later, a month later, you’re still mulling over their quirks, their eccentricities, and wondering about their potential for greatness.”
“It is a little disheartening that everybody, including “classical” musicians, has the need to grasp for terms like “classical,” “concert,” or worse, “art” music. Is there not a tacit air of aristocracy or bourgeoisie to the concert-going community? I know that what I do and with whom I do it are privileges, but our products ought to be more publicly digestible.”
“His long-standing health woes seemed to worsen this season to the point that singers and musicians were having difficulty following his conducting. But then … the doctor gave Mr. Levine an 11th hour reprieve, saying that [his] most serious problems could probably be solved by adjusting the dosage of a medication that he has been taking to treat his Parkinson’s disease.”
“The extension, which lasts until July 31, keeps the contract terms the same as the contract that expired last year. … The two parties have been in negotiations since last June and have been far apart on how much musicians should be paid.”
“Mr. van Zweden, 55, is more a maestro of the old school. He is sometimes polite, and sometimes quite blunt, but always very direct in seeking what he wants — the demanding teacher who, instead of giving a B-plus to a passable but unexceptional paper, will send it back riddled with cross-outs, order a rewrite and make it sparkle.”
“Opera is a complex, historic art form, with its own arcane formal language. Rather than think of it as entertainment, it makes more sense to conceive of it as a vast archive of emotional, historical, social and theatrical data. Opera allows us to enter into, understand and actually feel emotions that are culturally and historically extremely distant from our own time and sensibility.”
“Back when he recorded his first tracks, studio musicians weren’t appreciated or even known by name outside the record industry. But Purdie was one of the foremost sidemen to advocate for his own visibility, and few others had his charisma or cockiness. Everywhere he goes, Purdie is called upon to play his defining creation, the Purdie Shuffle, a notoriously complex four-limb beat that he invented (and quickly named after himself) in his salad days.”
“The notion that jazz is or isn’t is actually antithetical to the spirit of this music and all of the artists who have pushed its boundaries. Trying to make this music fit into a neat little box just can’t happen. And that’s tough for some people. We crave definitions for our art, and when we can’t describe or compare it, many get frustrated. Hence, the Jazz Police.”
“In each country, the Concertgebouw will perform one opening work side by side with a local youth orchestra, and members will give masterclasses and tuition to young musicians. Daniele Gatti will conduct the first concerts of the tour.”
“Could anything be more natural than Dudamel and YOLA at the Super Bowl? The inspiring youth orchestra, which Dudamel initiated in 2009 when he assumed his post with the L.A. Phil, is composed of mainly African American, Asian and Latino inner city kids. And after seven years of instruction and rigorous practice, they now represent the best of who we are as a society and of our future.”
The Genoa-born conductor “has been named as the new music director designate of Florence’s Opera di Firenze and its annual spring festival, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, in what appears to be something of a shakeup at the Tuscan company. The position of music director is a new one within Opera di Firenze, and an office that was reportedly created especially for Luisi.”
The award, worth DKK 600,000 (currently about $88,000), “is Denmark’s highest musical honour and has been given annually to an internationally recognised composer, instrumentalist, conductor or singer since 1959.”
The city’s arts community has entered “its 2.0 phase,” says Catherine Cuellar, an official at the Communities Foundation of Texas and former CEO of the Dallas Arts District. The arrival of such energetic figures as van Zweden, 55, credited with transforming the Dallas orchestra into one of the best in the country, and Anderson, 59, who devised ambitious programming and reinstated free general admission at the DMA, proves the arts community has turned a corner, Cuellar said.
“With his popular, political, uncategorizable jazz, the young saxophonist has become something his genre rarely produces anymore: a celebrity.”
“It’s not really an educational system, because…if you do something 22 or more hours a week, at some point, you’ll start getting good at it, that’s all.” Extreme working conditions were the norm.
“Last week, musicians voted to authorize a strike and also rejected what management had called its final offer. A news release issued by the FWSO on Friday said the final offer would be implemented on Monday. … According to the [musicians’ union], the concessionary terms, including a more than 8 percent pay cut, have not been forced on musicians.” Management won’t comment.
“Mr. van Zweden is an accomplished artist and a feisty podium presence who exudes energy. Those of us who want this institution to thrive should offer congratulations and wish him success. Still, my feeling lingers that his appointment represents a safe course.”