Holiday warmth

First and most important -- best holiday wishes, warmest holiday greetings, to everyone who reads this blog. I'm grateful for your interest, your support, your disagreement, your e-mail, and your comments, whether on my side or not. As many of you have been kind enough to say, we've had some good discussions here, and I'm sure they'll continue through 2008. Next year should be interesting for me. (Understatement!) As many of you know, my wife, Anne Midgette, is going to be interim chief classical music critic for the Washington Post, replacing … [Read more...]

Age of the audience, once more

Myth: The classical music audience has always been the age it is now. A lot of people still believe this. But -- as regular readers here know -- I've discovered that the myth isn't true. Reality: The audience used to be much younger. Source for this? Studies done in 1937, 1955, and the early 1960s, combined with statistics the National Endowment has been compiling since 1982. I've never seen any data -- any at all -- that supports the myth. Of course I've posted on this subject before, here and here. But now I've gotten something new. In … [Read more...]

Unasked questions

Now the New York Times has joined the New York City Opera party, adding "new details" (it says) to the story that just surfaced in an AP story, on the Parterre Box blog, and in one of my own posts about incoming director Gerard Mortier allegedly cancelling the 2008-9 season. The Times story has one curiosity. Mortier, reportedly, doesn't like City Opera's past productions. Asked about that, he says he might keep some of them, including Jonathan Miller's famous Little Italy Rigoletto, "which [says the Times] he called 'a famous production,' … [Read more...]

City Opera update

ArtsJournal had a link today to an AP story, which ran in USA Today. So my item on the company's startling plan was right on target -- the company really might cancel is 2008-09 season. City Opera's board chairman Susan Baker spins the thing very smoothly, making it sound like the most natural thing in the world, as if singers' managers (if we believe what Parterre Box reported) weren't being stonewalled when they ask about their artists' contracts for next year. Not that USA Today seems to have asked about that, though Parterre Box (which … [Read more...]


Stockhausen just died. I've always gotten a big kick out of his music. And I think -- maybe controversially -- that he's been underappreciated in the classical world, and found his most important fans outside it. How could he not be appreciated in the classical world, when any history of music after 1945 will tell you that Stockhausen and Boulez were the two kingpins of the European serial and post-serial avant-garde? In the '60s and beyond, everything Stockhausen wrote was recorded and released by Deutsche Grammophon. There were many books … [Read more...]

Dark season?

Yesterday a friend told me some surprising news -- that Gerard Mortier, the incoming director of the New York City Opera wants to cancel the company's 2008-9 season. That's right. No City Opera performances at all. And my friend seems to have impeccable sources. And today the same news surfaced on the ineffable (and drop-dead accurate) Parterre Box opera blog. Check it out! La Cieca, the onlie begetter of Parterre Box, has pretty much the same story I do. Mortier wants to shut down the New York City Opera for a year. One reason, the public … [Read more...]

Making a living

Erich Stem put something very well in his presentation at the DePauw symposium I spoke at. (See my last post.) He asked whether classical music faced death -- or a paradigm shift? I'm sure it's the latter. And part of the new paradigm would be all sorts of non-conventional performances, string quartets in clubs, new music groups (there seem to be more of them every day), exploding numbers of releases on indie classical record labels, and much, much more. But there's one big question about the new paradigm (or, if you like post-classical … [Read more...]

Wonderful time

Last Wednesday, I flew to Indiana for a "Post-Classical Symposium" at the DePauw University School of Music -- and it was just a fabulous event. Some of the high points: Hearing classical music students -- freshmen and sophomores -- play a concert of improvised music Hearing the first concert of the DePauw New Music Ensemble, with a truly unusual program Getting to know the terrific people in eighth blackbird, who're in residence at DePauw Hearing a concert by the Bang on a Can All-Stars (not that I don't hear them in New York, but … [Read more...]