Two moments

1. I'm driving from New York out to my country place, late last night. I'm listening to sports radio. A commercial comes up; I don't want it yapping at me. I flip over to NPR, aka WNYC, New York's public radio station, and often a good place to hear surprising music. I just miss the announcement of the music coming up, but when the music starts, I'm drawn right in. A woman with a strong, high voice -- nice edge on it -- is singing something repetitive, with a good sharp beat. But really not repetitive; that's an illusion created, I think, … [Read more...]

Quotation of the day

"Those who maintain, or, more commonly, just assume, as adherents of western classical music tend to do, that their own [musicmaking] is in its very nature superior to any other, can only mean, finally, that they believe themselves, by virtue of the culture to which they belong, to be inherently superior to all others." Christopher Small, Music of the Common Tongue [And if this seems too strong, just restrict it to classical music vs. pop.] … [Read more...]

Common sense

The mainstream classical music world, I sometimes think, lives in denial. Tell it that its audience is aging, and some people simply don’t believe it. Others say it doesn’t matter, because the audience always has been old. (Not true.) Or else it doesn’t matter because younger people, as they age, will turn to classical music. Whereas when model railroaders age — their median age was 30 in 1970, and it’s over 50 now — everybody in the model railroad world starts saying, “Yes, goodbye, it’s over.” Which is only common sense. If you don’t see … [Read more...]

Quotation of the day

From Gillian Gallagher, a violist who was one of my Juilliard students this spring. Reprinted from her final paper, with her permission: We think of the general public as being ignorant and unable to pay attention -- we don't give them enough credit. The average American consumes a vast amount of entertainment (complex TV shows, hours of music on their iPods, movies) a day -- I feel fairly confident that they will want to listen to and watch concerts if we present them in the ways that they are already accustomed to consuming their … [Read more...]


This past weekend, I found myself at a party with three opera stars. I'm not going to name them; no reason they should go to a party, and then get talked about in public. But they're singers anyone who goes to the Met would recognize. And this is worth blogging about, in part because of a comment someone posted to my "Nuns with Manicures" post. The person commenting asked what I'd thought of an intermission feature in the Met's live movie-theater presentation of Puccini's Il Trittico. This was a short film about the Met's National … [Read more...]

From another Eastman student

Twice before I've quoted one of my Eastman students. Here's yet another one, who prefers to be anonymous. She's writing here about why even she -- not normally a big pop music fan -- was drawn in by a pop event: I am not the type of girl to go to a Warped Tour concert willingly, (my high school girlfriends basically had to drag me there) but it really was mildly entertaining. Here is the big reason why someone like me (sort of nerd) wanted to go out a buy a Good Charlotte CD after I attended an afternoon at the Warped Tour: stuff happened! … [Read more...]

Quotation of the day

From Joe Queenan's essay,  "Why Not the Worst?" in the New York Times Book Review, May 6, 2007: Most of us are familiar with people who make a fetish out of quality: They read only good books, they see only good movies, they listen only to good music, they discuss politics only with good people, and they're not shy about letting you know it. They think this makes them smarter and better than everybody else, but it doesn't. It makes them mean and overly judgmental and miserly, as if taking 15 minutes to flip through "The Da Vinci Code" is a … [Read more...]

Nuns with manicures

Well, finally I went to see one of those Metropolitan Opera live moviecasts -- the live performances streamed to movie theaters. And yes, it was marvelous. The work was ll Trittico, which, as ever, I find slow going in Il Tabarro and Suor Angelica, and divine in Gianni Schicchi. (Well, except for that climactic chord at the end of Suor Angelica -- the soprano on high C, G in the bass, and D, F, and A in between. I've never looked at a score, but each time I hear it, I just love that chord. It's a modern pop sound, decades before its time -- and … [Read more...]

Scathing report

I urge everyone to read a report from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation about the participation -- or lack of it -- of younger people in the arts. Its formal title: Involving Youth in Nonprofit Arts Organizations: A Call to Action. I was alerted to this by a reader who saw it mentioned in Andrew Taylor's terrific blog, and when I read Andrew's post, I thought he nailed one problem the report has. More on that later. But the report tells some unpleasant truths, and cuts through some of the fog we still find in discussions of youth issues … [Read more...]

Update — leg and symphony

I'm walking again, almost. "Almost" means that I'm cleared, medically, to put weight on my broken leg, and can gimp around without crutches -- but only for a little while. Then my not-yet-fully-healed leg begins to ache. And it'll swell up. Neither the ache nor the swelling are medical problems. They're not a sign that my leg isn't healing. But they're uncomfortable. On Sunday I gimped around quite a bit outdoors, crutchless, trying to jump start our second car, which we neglected while we were preoccupied with the leg break. The battery died. … [Read more...]