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


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


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...]


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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 ( 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


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


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


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.”


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...]


Van Cliburn, who has been reported as being extremely ill, gives a beautiful and sprited speech at his foundation's 50th Anniversary Gold Medalists Concert on September 6, 2012. We should all look and act so good! … [Read more...]

R.I.P. Authenticity, you had a good run

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The last shark in the Atlantic was jumped today when a former classical music magazine editor's consulting firm issued a press release announcing that the company would be handling pianist Lang Lang's social media. Said shark-jumping was posted about on Slipped Disc earlier today. The press release, which can be found in its entirety here, explains: IPMC to help deepen the star pianist’s relationship with vast online community Inverne Price Music Consultancy has signed an exclusive agreement for social networking strategic services with Lang … [Read more...]

Some photos from The Armory that I probably wasn’t allowed to take but I didn’t do it when the Phil was playing

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...promise! The New York Philharmonic's concert at The Park Avenue Armory last night was wonderful. I assume tonight's was terrific, too, but I'm home watching Step Up. The Philharmonic performed unannounced Gabrieli, Gruppen by Stockhausen, Rituel in Memoriam Bruno Maderna by Boulez, a smidge of Don Giovanni, which I'm sure the critics will like least, and ((swoon)) Ives’ The Unanswered Question. There's nothing worse than simply recreating a traditional concert venue in an alternative space, and that was not the case here.  As I said, I'm … [Read more...]