There’s an inherent humanity in relating to each other when we’re at our weakest—it allows us to feel less alone, regardless of our circumstances. Music’s ability to tap into the human experience and both good and bad emotions is the universal connecting thread between songwriter and listener, according to Kenneth Aigen, music therapist, author and associate professor of music therapy at New York University.
At 100, Ed Simons is still conducting the Rockland Symphony Orchestra, a group he founded 65 years ago in the northern suburbs of New York City.
Our heroine in the latest episode of “The Show Must Go On” is mezzo Sasha Cooke, who was singing beautifully in Verdi’s Requiem in Houston when nausea struck and she didn’t quite make it offstage in time. Even so, she came back and finished the job. Steven Brown has the details.
“The music industry was built on the passions of record collectors. The album wasn’t just a physical object, but a lifestyle accessory, almost a fetish and talisman. People didn’t just listen to their records, they displayed them as quasi-holy relics. The album cover might seem irrelevant — a baby swimming after a dollar bill, a painting of a big banana, or even a blank white slate with only tiny text (The Beatles) emblazoned on it. But to the owners, these served as supercharged personal emblems. The image could change, but the message stayed the same: This is my music. This is who I am.”
“Black artists from Prince to Michael Jackson to Kanye West have been on the forefront of this sort of expansion of what pop music means. Maybe that fact has something to do with why they have mostly fared poorly in the Grammys general categories over the years even as they have served up exactly the kind of performances that make the Grammys worth watching at all. Or maybe it’s just a deeper sort of bias.”
The Boston Symphony, Nashville Symphony and more…
In 2005, Billboard changed its methodology to include digital downloads, and in 2007, it included digital streaming. In 2013, they added video streaming from sites like YouTube. There’s certainly a correlation between the music industry’s digitization, and women’s drop in representation. In 2016, only 22 percent of popular songs were performed by only women. That’s a huge drop from the 41.4 percent that women performed in the decade 1997-2007.
“Playing-related injuries are approaching epidemic levels. A 2012 Australian study on that country’s professional symphony orchestras showed that 84 per cent of musicians had experienced injuries in their lifetime and 50 per cent were currently having pain while playing. Why is this happening?”
“One of the Apollo Theater’s fans got it almost right when she told Earl Caldwell of The New York Times: ‘You get two shows at the Apollo. That’s what I like down there. You get the show on the stage and the one in the audience.'” And then there’s the space where the performers, and the journalists, escape the crowds.
Beyoncé won Best Contemporary Urban Album for “Lemonade” but lost out to Adele in the other big categories; David Bowie won his first Grammys for Blackstar; Chance the Rapper had a big night – and politics took center stage for some performers, like Katy Perry and A Tribe Called Quest (google “President Agent Orange”).
The Swedish firm, which accounts for a huge percentage of music consumed in the U.S. and has delayed its public offering to 2018, might be “too big to fail” – or it might just fail. “Spotify must pay ever larger sums to its creditors just to settle the interest on its loan, while the amount of money it can raise from its IPO is trimmed by an ever greater amount.”
Corden, who sings with musicians during the popular “Carpool” segment of his “Late Late Show,” is hosting the Grammys tonight, and he loves everyone, including the two ultra-famous women up against each other for major awards: “I’m pleased to live in a world where I would never have to make a choice between Adele and Beyoncé.
When conductor Semyon Bychkov fell ill halfway through an afternoon rehearsal, assistant conductor Joshua Gersen stepped in – and then got to lead the orchestra at that night’s performance as well, “leading impassioned and incisive accounts of Tchaikovsky’s symphonic poem ‘Francesca da Rimini,’ a piece he had never conducted, and the intense ‘Pathétique’ Symphony, a work he had previously led only in part.”
As Drake, Kanye West, Justin Bieber and Frank Ocean sit them out, “this year’s Grammys promise to draw out only more skepticism of the long-standing ceremony.” Maybe the awards have aged themselves out.
“The Canadian star achieved millions of sales and billions of streams with his fourth album, Views, which topped the charts around the world. He managed to beat Adele and Coldplay, who also achieved big sales last year.”
“Even chamber music, thrash metal and hymns ranked higher in a survey of more than 2,000 people conducted by Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.”
Critics the world over flocked to New York in 1966 for the opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center – and they hated the piece composed for the occasion, Samuel Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra. The work’s reputation never recovered (and neither, in truth, did Barber himself). But after listening to a radio broadcast of the original production, recently released by the Met as part of a box set, David Patrick Stearns says that “Barber’s fall from grace is confounding” and that, 50 years on, Antony and Cleopatra deserves a reassessment.
For the new Royal Opera House, built to celebrate the wedding of the then-Dauphin to Marie-Antoinette in 1770, three composers adapted Lully’s 1682 tragedy Persée so that it would be grand enough for the couple and the venue – a cast of 15, an 80-piece orchestra, a chorus of 95, 80 ballet dancers, five sets. In this video, conductor Hervé Niquet talks about reviving and recording the piece.
“The first new record-pressing machines built in over 30 years are finally online. The brainchild of some Canadian R&D guys with a background designing fancy MRI machines, the Warm Tone record press is everything that its vintage counterpart is not: safe, fast, fully automated, reliable, run by cloud-based software, and iOS-controlled. These $195,000 whiz-bang machines, the homegrown product of a Toronto company called Viryl Technologies, are the next-gen record presses our 21st century vinyl revolution has been waiting for.”
“The music industry’s most prestigious awards, which take place Sunday in a star-studded gala in Los Angeles, this year for the first time considered releases that were only streamed online.”
“Ultimately, artists of integrity will have no choice in how they respond to the Great Besmirchment. Those who thrive on politically charged material will continue in that vein. (In contemporary classical music, Ted Hearne is a master of that mode; recent works have addressed WikiLeaks, race relations, and the Supreme Court.) Yet those who devote themselves to numbered string quartets or painterly abstractions should not feel pressure to forsake their destiny. The task of the audience is to absorb art’s conflicting messages and remain alert to unexpected revelations.”
In a Q&A with Gabe Meline, Adams explains the difference he sees between the two men that makes the one more opera-worthy, talks about the other politically oriented work he has written and is still writing, and why his latest arrival at the airport reminded him of the ’60s.
The conductor’s current tour with his Budapest Festival Orchestra hit a big snag just before it started: one of the cellists has dual citizenship in Hungary and Iraq and was initially denied entry to the U.S. Then Fischer sprang into action.
“Under Andreas Mitisek’s artistic leadership, the 43-year-old company moved boldly into more productions of modern and contemporary work. It also began producing away from its sophisticated but hard-to-fill home base at the Harris Theater. During the last few years, COT also eliminated its debt, established a cash reserve of more than $850,000 (thanks largely to a MacArthur Foundation grant), and took in its largest gift ever, a $1.5 million donation from Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson.”
“It used to be that you toured to help sell the record. Now the record helps support the tour.” How has this come to be? In the case of Live Nation, it’s the result of systematic growth over a decade that has seen the Beverly Hills-based company establish a presence in more than 40 countries via acquisitions or partnerships.
“It’s not quite true that he’s not interested in the trappings of celebrity – his New York apartment certainly fits his profile as star musician. Indeed, the limelight may fuel him – but he defines it on his own terms. Take his relatively recent foray into conducting.”
Last year the government of the town where the museum (in the composer’s former house) is located forbade France-TV to film there; last month a local official called the police on Charles Dutoit and Martha Argerich while they were visiting; last week the custodian, on the job for 30 years, was fired; there are concerns that objects and archives are missing. Sanjoy Roy looks into the situation and explains why losing the museum permanently would be a tragedy.
Tonight (Wed., Feb. 8), orchestra musicians are performing music drawn from the seven countries singled out in the executive order. The concert is sold out, but it will be streamed live at 7:30 pm Pacific Time on the SSO’s Facebook page.
The rock star and jazz saxophonist “are no stranger to awards: they have 26 Grammys between them.”
Among the things he’d like to do in his next three-year term is include one contemporary work on each program, as he does with his concerts in Europe. (Jennifer Higdon, who lives just down the street from the orchestra’s hall, was mentioned as a possibility.)