Concert Companion

Last night (Thursday, 5/27) was the first test of this device that I've been part of, a test we did with the New York Philharmonic. The Concert Companion is the heldheld PDA that audiences may, in the future, be able to rent from orchestras, or might get free with special ticket deals. It gives real-time program notes, that change with the music -- ongoing descriptions of whatever you're hearing at a given moment. I wrote the text for this test, which involved Stravinsky's Petrushka, and Ives's Three Places in New England. After the concert, … [Read more...]


I'm sure we all saw the front page story in The New York Times about the Metropolitan Opera orchestra and James Levine -- about how some of the musicians think Levine can't cut it any more. In reaction, two prominent New York critics defended Levine. But in the flurry -- "He conducts as well as he ever did!" "He's lost it!" -- that naturally followed the Times piece, I think we lost one crucial part of what's going on. Even if the complaining musicians aren't right, the mere fact that they're complaining -- and, above all, that they were … [Read more...]

Videogame music

Out of the blue, unsolicited, from Matthew Burns in Los Angeles, came this marvelous comment on the LA Philharmonic's performance of music from the videogame Final Fantasy. I hope everybody takes it seriously, and reads to the end, for Matthew's answers to a couple of questions I asked him:  So how many standing ovations do you think a modern - as in still living - composer of orchestral music could get in one night? The answer, as I saw it the other evening at the first live concert of video game music in the United States, is upwards … [Read more...]

Straw in the wind

Note the following, from a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story by Andrew Druckenbrod, about the Pittsburgh Symphony and its new head, Larry Tamburri: Publicly, the new CEO of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra is a laconic leader. Privately, however, he has spent his first four months on the job in nonstop conversations within and without the organization."Meeting the community has been very important because the Symphony is a community institution," Larry Tamburri said. "I have been out in the arts, business, political and religious communities to … [Read more...]


Can't quite believe that it's been a month since I blogged, but…my schedule, like Crazy Eddie's prices (for those who remember those long-ago, screaming TV ads), has been totally insane. And it's all blog-related, all involved with projects that touch on the future of classical music, including my Pittsburgh concert series (for that elusive new classical audience), the Concert Companion (program notes that describe orchestra music in real-time, as the music changes), my Juilliard course (about the future of classical music), and, almost back to … [Read more...]


Last night (Saturday) I went to hear Götterdämmerung at the Met. When Levine came out to conduct, the crowd gave him the largest, warmest ovation I think I've ever heard for a conductor at the start of an opera. Now, maybe they were so friendly because it was the last night of the season, or because it was the last night of the last Ring cycle (certainly many people there were hearing all four operas, and for them Levine's appearance at the start wasn't the beginning of something new, but the continuation of something wonderful). But I'd … [Read more...]