Peter Gelb, as many people already know, is going to be the next head of the Metropolitan Opera, succeeding Joseph Volpe. (I'm writing this before the official announcement, but the news has leaked onto opera websites.) I trust this means the Met wants to make some changes, since Peter isn't an old-fashioned classical music guy. I expect my colleagues in the press to get a little worried, since they've long assumed that Peter has no taste, blaming him for the decline of major-label classical recording, and especially for crossover releases … [Read more...]


I apologize for mistakes in my entry about the Pittsburgh audience, starting with -- and shame on me -- some blatant typos in the title. One mistake that really mattered was about the dates of the next "talk back" events in Pittsburgh: November 6 and 7, not December. And the link to my Symphony magazine piece about the audience didn't work. If you'd like to read the article, go here. I've corrected all these things in the original entry. Thanks to everyone, including one of my Pittsburgh colleagues, who noticed the mistakes, and told me about … [Read more...]

More about publicity

At the dry cleaner this morning I noticed a poster for Rod Stewart's new album, Vol. III of The Great American Songbook, the series of CDs on which he sings old pop standards. And what struck me was the language used to describe what's going on: "The exciting third installment of the spectacular trilogy," or something very like that. And, below it, introducing the list of songs Stewart sings, "Including these classic songs." Now, this is exactly the kind of meaningless boilerplate I complain about in classical music publicity -- empty, … [Read more...]

Talking to the audience

  I’ve started a project with the Pittsburgh Symphony that’s certainly unusual, and could be extraordinary. The Symphony calls it “talk back,” and the idea is simple enough -- to get the audience talking back to the orchestra about the performances they hear. But it’s extraordinary because orchestras don’t normally consult their audience about music, and don’t set up forums in which their audience can talk to them. I’ve written about this, in a piece that appeared two years ago in Symphony magazine, the publication of the American … [Read more...]

What I’ve been up to

This is a busy time for me—a little too busy, but also wonderful. Here’s a taste of what’s going on, some of which will show up in this blog, at greater length:  This Thursday, October 21, comes the first of the Symphony with a Splash concerts I program and host with the Pittsburgh Symphony, this time with something very personal—a performance of a piece of my own, A Frankenstein Overture. This orchestral music based on my opera Frankenstein, with an extravagant trombone solo (representing the Creature, who’s meant to sound tortured, … [Read more...]

Fighting the good fight

  I keep hearing about my blog posts on publicists – my posts about how bad classical music publicity can be. Sometimes I  hear from publicists, apologizing either after the fact or in advance for problems of the kind I pointed out. (Which were their failure, over and over, to give any real reason why anyone should care about the events they publicize.)   But now I’ve heard from a fellow critic, David Stabler of The Oregonian, in Portland, OR, who’s taken up my crusade. He wrote a fine piece for his paper, looking at … [Read more...]

Good news

  I said some harsh things about the state of new music in the mainstream classical world – especially the orchestra world – in my post about the Toronto Symphony.   So here’s a most encouraging response from Curt Long, executive director of the Dayton Philharmonic:   I would say that we include a "moderate" amount of new music in our classical season, balanced with more traditional repertoire (of course, most orchestra's don't even include a moderate amount).  We present a classical series of 9 programs annually, … [Read more...]