Don’t believe the hype

Perusing this very ArtsJournal site -- indispensable for me long before I started this blog -- I came across the very sweet Florida Sun-Sentinel story on Ned Rorem's 80th birthday. Now, nothing against Ned, whom I enjoy very much. I even wrote him, in fact, a note telling him my impression of his songs, when I heard them on a multi-day festival of new music in New York, encompassing just about every known musical style, including the most up to date: I thought Ned's songs were the classiest pieces I heard. So, believe me, this isn't meant as … [Read more...]

Worth a Thousand Words?

Godawful photos. That's what I thought as I leafed through the annual directory issue of Chamber Music, the publication of Chamber Music America (which of course is the organization that represents chamber music to our nation). This directory issue is essentially a listing -- apart from a few how-to guides (about marketing, commissioning new pieces, and the like -- of chamber music groups, many of them prominently splashed over glossy pages in ads bought by their managements. So there they were, ensemble after ensemble, presented in … [Read more...]

Find a Concert

"Experience a live orchestra concert. It may delight you, comfort you, or inspire you...but it will move you." That's the slogan on the American Symphony Orchestra League's "Find a Concert" website, designed to attract new listeners to orchestra performances. I'm not going to comment on the slogan or the site, because I'm part of this effort by the League. They hired me to write descriptions of selected events, picked by various orchestras as ideal for first-time concertgoers. These are on the site. They're longer versions of the kind of … [Read more...]

Milwaukee event

Belatedly -- I've had a lot of scrambling to do, to catch up with my normal life after my long vacation -- I want to tell you about a performance of my Quartet for Anne, in Milwaukee this Sunday. The Fine Arts Quartet, bless them, are giving the piece what we can't call its world premiere, because I wrote it for my wife's birthday two years ago, and surprised her with a performance in our living room. That, as far as we're concerned, was the world premiere. So this very welcome Fine Arts performance is being billed, very simply, as the … [Read more...]

Reentry

  Well, we’re back, my wife and I, after an idyllic month in England -- in a 17th century cottage, next to hillsides full of sheep, with dramatic hilltops, wide skies, and striking light on the fields and hills. We worked hard on projects dear to our hearts, with nothing to distract us. It was like having our own arts colony. I wrote chunks of a big, strange string quartet, a set of variations on the theme of the last movement of Mahler’s Third Symphony.   Among many other things, the piece looks back on the history of classical … [Read more...]