Public art

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Two weeks ago, I wrote about why culture isn't more of a cult: why, through merchandise, we don't see more insider pride and, as a result, free advertising. One usually can't even get into a hall's gift shop without buying a ticket to a concert there. Lincoln Center is my favorite place in the world, and I couldn't tell you where the gift shop is, or if there is one. Wait - it might actually be underground, near the subway? The Carnegie Hall gift shop is upstairs to the left and around the corner by the Ladies Room. The Metropolitan Opera gift … [Read more...]

You can’t spell culture without “cult”

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I'm mildly embarrassed to be reading a new book on entrepreneurship, because I've always thought "entrepreneurship" is an "if you have to ask..." situation. That said, I've been a superfan of Peter Thiel's, author of  Zero to One, since his 2011 New Yorker profile. The tagline of one of his companies, Founders Fund, is "We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters"; I can see everyone's dog's Halloween costume on Twitter but have been flying on essentially the same airplanes since I was seven. The title of the book references how … [Read more...]

2014

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It has been predicted that Taylor Swift's 1989 album will sell 800,000 copies in its first week. All seems to be going well, despite or perhaps because of the fact that the record includes an unexpected Stockhausen tribute in its digital Canadian version. Go girl - push those genre boundaries. (Read the 'Track 3' review here.) I've long admired Taylor Swift's frank acknowledgment of her fans. She's neither friends with them nor does she pretend they don't exist: they're fans, she's a performer, they love and need her, she loves and needs … [Read more...]

New years

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It's the start of the concert season, which is essentially the gym in January. There's a run on PR firms in the fall, because artists--rightfully so--are deciding, this is the year I bump things up to the next level. Once the season starts rolling along, the focus--also rightfully so--goes back to art-making and performances, but in this moment, everyone seems to have relating publicly on the brain. Classical music publicity is a...let's say "niche" to be generous...industry: I think there are probably about 20 firms in the US. Combine that … [Read more...]

Stream come true

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I was recently at a party (not drinking because I'm on this tragic cough medicine that promises a face rash if I mix it with booze - or maybe the doctor lied about that when I seemed vain?) and an artist was complaining that his album only sold 400 units (digital and physical) in its first week, all the while getting 6500 complete Spotify plays. This artist lucked out on account of the cough medicine, because I didn't go into my usual rant on the subject. The transaction is: artist signs with a record label, label is in charge of how an album … [Read more...]

Till there was you

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Last sunday, Lang Lang played, inexplicably, with Metallica at the Grammys. Tonight--out of all the singers and lip-synchers in the land--Renée Fleming will sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl. A great or terrible week for classical music, depending on how you slice it, but it remains that, in any industry, there is usually one person, sometimes a handful, whom the wide world knows "of" without knowing much more about the pursuit from which that one or two people come. Baseball? If you think baseball players can score touchdowns and get … [Read more...]

Keeping company

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On Monday nights, I watch The Bachelor/-ette in Brooklyn. This started about three years ago, when a friend tried to set me up with a guy who "just dropped off the face of the earth." Turns out, he had been taping the show, so of course I had to watch my once and future husband...make-out in a hot tub on national television. I wouldn't pride myself on my taste in TV, hi, Vampire Diaries, but The Bachelor is just terrible. Really. But we sit around and shout at the screen like it's a game day...drinking like it's...well, like it's not a … [Read more...]

Return policy

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ArtsJournal is all fancy and new! So I thought I, too, would emerge phoenix-like from the ashes of lots of work, a carb-free + personal trainer attempt to look good in my first-ever bridesmaid dress ((lasted two weeks)), and a lot of retweeting of baby animal photos. I have a whole post about buying Balanchine instead of new ballet tickets, but this photo of Pierre Boulez has just come to my attention via Twitter, so I'll open with that. See? Phoenix-like, my friends. Phoenix-like. I had an interesting come to...I guess "come to … [Read more...]

Love

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Earlier this week, tenor Nicholas Phan spotted [Dame] Mitsuko Uchida on BuzzFeed. Yes, you read me right: Dame. Mitsuko. Uchida. Was On BuzzFeed.   And there she is: right in front of Gerard Butler and Bradley Cooper (...in...matching suits?). It's just really too amazing.     Photobombing is, of course, a time-honored tradition (animal photobombing being my favorite, naturally). Where else, this led me to wonder, have the world's great pianists popped up? Alfred Brendel was there when Lindsay Lohan got … [Read more...]

In which classical music dies yet again

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Pianist Krystian Zimerman reportedly left a performance last week because someone was filming him on their smartphone. Long-time Life's a Pitch readers (hi Mom) may remember that I was there the day Patti LuPone stopped a performance of Gypsy just after she began "Rose's Turn" because someone was taking pictures. The audience applauded; I was appalled. Zimerman had every right to stop a solo recital. I would argue that LuPone did not have the right to stop a musical, because she was playing a character and had several off-stage opportunities … [Read more...]

Choosing right

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It's my birthday and I spent all day drinking and watching Season 4 of Arrested Development yesterday (WITH PEOPLE, don't worry), so I feel today is as good as ever to revive the blog. About a year ago, my friend Mark--with whom I have often conspired about staging modern-day production of the before-its-time Baby--emailed that the Transport Group in New York was putting on a concert version of the musical. Baby was on Broadway for a year in 1983 and is about three couples--one in college, one having just sent their youngest to college, and … [Read more...]

Beethoven Bump

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Classical music on TV alert!! Matthew Guerrieri joins a prestigious group of classical music luminaries (only one of whom took off his shirt) when he appears as the guest on The Colbert Report tonight! He will be promoting his book, "The First Four Notes: Beethoven's Fifth and the Human Imagination". Buy it here. The Colbert Report is on Comedy Central at 11:30pm ET. Tune in so they put more classical music folks on TV, and because Matthew is great. … [Read more...]

Hair today, gone tomorrow

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The Interwebz were abuzz today with news of the Oscar Nominations Sir Simon Rattle's departure from the Berlin Philharmonic. Many intelligent classical music writers speculated on who would be his successor, but my question is, who will be the HAIR to the throne. Ba-zing! So, as I promised my loyal Twitter followers, we'll just settle this the easy way: Who Wore It Best, The Simon Rattle Hair Edition. Here are some of the contenders: Andris Nelsons     Daniel Barenboim   Gustavo … [Read more...]

“You can’t leave the quartet, man.”

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Two movies are coming out about ye olde classical music with CELEBRITIES - real, live ones! And the films basically have the same title. The first is A Late Quartet, starring Philip Seymour Hoffman (!) and Christopher Walken (!).  It chronicles the "Fugue String Quartet" as they learn of their cellist's Parkinson's disease diagnosis. Description, from West End Films: The four members of a world-renowned string quartet struggle to stay together in the face of death, competing egos and insuppressible lust. Set in iconic New York City, … [Read more...]