Critics’ conference

The critics' conference Jen Graves writes about -- in a story linked on ArtsJournal today -- was pretty interesting. It was held in New York in October, and involved critics from all over the country, plus some from abroad. Graves talks about one important thread in the discussion, a fear that critics write too timidly, and that this, as Graves says, is partly due to "the same intimidation that keeps people out of concert halls and art galleries." She goes on to say that Like orchestras, classical critics allow themselves to be suffocated … [Read more...]


Not long ago I went to a New York Philharmonic concert -- Peter Lieberson's Red Garuda, and the Mahler First Symphony, with James Conlon conducting. The lights in Avery Fisher Hall dimmed before the music started, evidently a new Philharmonic policy. I sat there in row HH, further back than I usually sit. The location seemed perfect, with the musicians, of course dressed in black, framed by the brownish wood of the stage. Looking at this, in semi-darkness, I felt something I hadn't felt in years, at an orchestral concert -- a sense of … [Read more...]

Lebrecht bullshit

It's fun reading Norman Lebrecht. He's inaccurate and irresponsible, but classical music suffers from too much responsibility. So in a way Lebrecht is a good corrective -- tabloid journalism, of a pretty extreme sort, right in the middle of the classical music world. But his column on Peter Gelb, linked in ArtsJournal, is a good example of why we can't take anything he says very seriously. He thinks Peter is a bad choice to run the Met, and of course he's got the right to think that. But when you examine what he says, it's a tissue of illogic … [Read more...]

A good press release

Since I've been ragging publicists here, it's only fair to quote a really good press release that arrived via e-mail a week ago: New York City Opera presents the world premiere of CHARLES WUORINEN's long-awaited opera "HAROUN AND THE SEA OF STORIES" Based on the fantasy novel by SALMAN RUSHDIE Libretto adapted by British poet JAMES FENTON Directed by MARK LAMOS World Premiere, New York City Opera Performances October 31, November 3, 6, 9, and 11, 2004 On Halloween, New York City Opera mounts perhaps its most important commission to … [Read more...]

Straws in the wind

I'm picking up some changes going on in at least a few orchestras, involving the musicians' role. First, musicians are getting involved in artistic planning, formerly the exclusive province of the music director, the artistic administrator, and (sometimes) the executive director. One reason, in fact, that some orchestras wonder whether they want a traditional music director is that they want the musicians to have some of the power the music director traditionally has. And not just in programming -- also in hiring musicians, giving them … [Read more...]


At a meeting this weekend involving orchestras, talk turned at one point to the possibility that at least some orchestras might disappear. The board chair of one major orchestra had said, "If we don't put more butts in seats, we're going to have a difficult time surviving as we're presently organized." (Exact quote.) There was also talk about what kind of concerts orchestras present, and what kind of audience they can reach. Some people said that programming couldn't be like art films; it had to be more popular than that. So at one point, I … [Read more...]