Change of pace — my symphony

I'm writing this from O'Hare Airport in Chicago, where I'm waiting for a flight to Sioux Falls, SD. There I'm going to hear the premiere of my new symphony, played by the Dakota Chamber Orchestra, the chamber wing of the South Dakota Symphony. Which, in turn, is an orchestra that's getting some deserved buzz among professionals. Delta David Gier, the music director, does a terrific job, doing big, unusual repertoire, and getting the orchestra to play exceptionally well.  He also programs a lot of new music, and commissioned this piece from … [Read more...]

The death of classical music?

Of course I've been following the debate (if that's what it is) between Alex Ross (also here) and Norman Lebrecht (see also the comments to his blog post) about the classical record industry. Nobody who's read me a lot will be surprised to know I side with Lebrecht, and I think there's a very simple way of stating the issue. Classical recording used to be a profit-making venture, both for major labels and small ones, without anybody needing to release any crossover albums. Well, OK, major conductors might record an LP of Strauss waltzes, to … [Read more...]

Boring old Handel

There was a British newspaper piece linked on Musical America this week, something about Handel operas being boring. And then we had the opening of Handel's Giulio Cesare at the Met, with a worshipful review in the New York Times.  ("[T]he richness and endless variety of the music... the piercing psychological insights of this staggering masterpiece.") There's one thing I know for sure -- performances of Handel's operas today are nothing like the performances in Handel's own time. Back then, these operas (and in fact all operas, by all … [Read more...]


I'm sorry I've been inactive so long, but I'm happy to say that I'm home from a rather long hospital stay, and then a session in a rehab facility -- and now I'm recovering. There's a lot I could say about how medical institutions work, based on my own experience these past weeks, and on things my friends and family have gone through. Maybe I could put it this way -- try to imagine Gray's Anatomy combined with Catch-22. Or imagine a version of  Gray's Anatomy (a more truthful one) in which half the communications between people on the … [Read more...]