Life has been rich, full, and exhausting. I’ve neglected the blog, for which I apologize (and also for not being able, yet, to answer some of the terrific e-mail I’ve been getting).
But a lot of good things have been happening. My students at Juilliard have done some astounding stuff, which I want to share here — presentations about works in their repertoire, aimed at people who don’t go to classical concerts, and plans for concerts to appeal to this new audience. My students just blew me away with their ideas, and their feelings. If the classical music world could talk to its actual and potential audience the way my students do, we’d be well on our way out of trouble.
I also gave a commencement address at the Longy School of Music, in Cambridge, MA, where I studied singing back in the ’60s. Turns out that Longy is a hotbed of classical music change — the whole school seems to be run (or heading toward being run) on the sort of thinking I do in this blog. I couldn’t have found a more receptive audience, but actually that’s the wrong way to put it. What was really remarkable was that I fit right in. They were already there.
I’m going to write more about all this. But meanwhile, here’s something else striking. On Friday, at Tully Hall in New York, a soprano named Jâma Jandrokoviã will give a recital, consisting of three new song cycles by three composers, all of them settings of her own autobiographical poetry! This really deserves an exclamation point, because normally — to state the obvious — it’s people in pop music whose music is explicitly about their own lives. So now here’s someone in classical music doing it.
The poems, according to the press release for the concert, “chronicle Ms. Jandrokoviã’s romantic journey as a recently divorced, newly single young woman in New York City attempting to reinvent herself.” I haven’t read the poems, and can’t say if they’re good or bad. But! The very idea of a classical singer doing something like this is revolutionary. The composers are Lori Laitman, Luna Pearl Woolf, and Paul Moravec, and the concert — very good move here — has a stage director. This is not your grandmother’s vocal recital.
Unfortunately, I can’t attend; I’ll be in Cleveland, doing some work with the Cleveland Orchestra. Brave to Ms. Jandrokoviã, though, and boo to her publicists, who don’t seem to have grasped the importance of the occasion, because they don’t stress, in their press material, how new and unexpected this concert is. Don’t they want people to pay attention?