About publicists

One thing to clarify (as I prepare a post on what might be the worst press release I've ever seen): Publicists don't do their most important work with press releases. They do it with direct contact -- phone calls to members of the media, lunches with them, e-mail, all building personal relationships that, over time, develop trust. So if a trusted publicist pitches a story, the writer or editor on the receiving end will know the pitch might be worthwhile. The best publicists, in fact, are those who never pitch a story unless they really know the … [Read more...]

9 Beet Stretch

I'm sure some people are laughing at the 24-hour prolongation of Beethoven's Ninth, as wonderfully described in a New York Times story linked on ArtsJournal today. But don't laugh at something you haven't heard. Instead, listen to it, here. Or listen to some of it, since, realistically, most of us don't have 24 hours to spare. Listen through headphones, if you can, and just let the sound flow over you. It's a wonderful adventure, almost like (because it microscopically examines something familiar, and does it with immediate physicality) … [Read more...]

How to do it

The Boston Philharmonic -- thanks to its amazing conductor, Benjamin Zander -- has almost a cult following. I haven't heard them live, but their CDs suggest a depth of committment, almost a deeper level of truth, than we usually hear. And they certainly know how to write about music. Here, from their website, is a description of a program they're playing on April 29, May 1, and May 2. I've been complaining about how badly the classical music world talks about its art. This shows a better way: THE AMBIGUITY OF ADULT LIFE Of all Mahler's … [Read more...]

Misunderstanding pop

From a music review in The New York Times: The program, part of the Cooper Arts series, offered exactly the kind of cerebral contemporary music that is supposed to be frightening off potential new concertgoers. Yet the audience at the Great Hall was noticeable for the number of enthusiastic young people, shaggy-haired listeners in jeans who responded to the charismatic Alan Feinberg's electrifying performance of Charles Wuorinen's Third Piano Sonata, an uncompromising 12-tone work by one of the brainiest composers around, with shouts of … [Read more...]

Press releases — including a good one

I've gotten lots of e-mail about press releases, most of which -- including one message from the executive director of a notable orchestra -- agrees with me. (Forgive me if you've written, and I haven't answered yet.) Though one major orchestra publicist felt just a bit "offended." Some people raised an important point, that the materials -- biographies and photos -- that publicists get from artists and their managers aren't any good. That's true (and in fact I've been hearing that complaint for years). I'm going to address it; I've got a … [Read more...]

More fat

Some weeks back I commented -- maybe just a little brattily -- on the Fat Matter. Which provoked this, from a very fine professional in the vocal music world: I actually agree with what you wrote about the "fat issue" though I don't think the Planet Debbie should have been bought out or let go from that production of Ariadne. The friggin' costume could have been modified. That's just fairness and non-discrimination. This was not a new production, after all. The whole thing was avoidable, and I think Covent Garden handled it shamefully--now … [Read more...]

Blog/not blog

Many reasons for not blogging lately. One of them is an enterprising idea called the Concert Companion, which has gotten lots of intermittent press. The Companion is a handheld device -- a Palm PDA, or a Pocket PC -- that displays program notes cued to music. (They're broadcast to the device via a simple WiFi network, the kind of wireless hookup many of us, me included, have in our homes.) The Companion been tested at a couple of orchestra concerts, in Aspen and at the Philadelphia Orchestra's summer season at Saratoga; it'll soon be … [Read more...]

On the bus

My wife and I were coming home on the bus from Lincoln Center (we'd been to the movies, for once, at a theater near there, not to a concert). On the bus were people immediately identifiable as a concert/opera crowd, and we overheard one couple saying that whatever they'd come from was the best thing they'd seen in 30 years. We couldn't restrain our curiosity. What was that? we asked them. Salome at the Met, they answered, and even as we'd asked the question, we'd guessed the response. Nothing else at Lincoln Center has evoked that much … [Read more...]