A Return in Minnesota, and Kushner and Rodrick in Paperback

ONE of the unpleasant recent developments in classical music — the 16 month (!) lockout of the musicians in the Minnesota Orchestra — may be resolving. But it may not go entirely smoothly. A report just today from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune describes newly restored music director Osmo Vanska.

“We are terribly behind and must do our job as quickly as possible to try to get a very good season,” he said, adding that it was premature to speculate about any programming. “This is like a thousand-piece puzzle we all must put together.”

“I’ve been sitting in different places and the sound is great,” he said. “There is a chance to fine tune some small things which could be even better. The main goal was a symphony that can play like a chamber orchestra, with everyone able to hear each other, to be able to play more with the ear than the eye, and I think we got what we asked for.”

Any optimism about the Finn’s restoration should remain guarded, says a New York Times story. Because he sided with the musicians during the dispute, he’s not beloved by orchestra management.

With resentment toward Mr. Vanska still simmering among board members over his resignation and subsequent actions, there seemed to be a strong feeling, even among those willing to contemplate his rehiring to begin with, that his powers should be limited: that he should be named principThrowersal conductor, perhaps, rather than music director, a title that has considerable administrative duties and social demands.

Vanska is apparently “involved” with the group’s concertmaster, which he says is not causing problems. Hmmm.

ALSO: Two excellent books by two very different Los Angeles writers have recently come out in paperback.

The first is by Rachel Kushner, and in fact, you may have heard of her novel The Flamethrowers, about the ’70s New York art scene and leftist radicals in Italy. I first met Rachel when her first novel, Telex From Cuba came out. She’s a complex and fascinating writer. Here is my piece on the debut, and a shorter piece on the new novel and her friendship with LA painter Laura Owens.

Stephen Rodrick is as good as profile writer as I know right now; he’s an immersive journalist who gets at things others miss. His memoir about his relationship to his father, and his father’s absence — his dad was a military pilot lost on a mission in 1979 — is powerful, sad and at times funny in a wry, understated way. Here is my Q&A with Stephen about The Magical Stranger, now out in paper.



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