Molly speaks

I've been meaning to link to Molly Sheridan's new ArtsJournal blog...there, I've done it. I've known Molly for years, always enjoyed her, always learned from her. And now she's flying. I hate to limit her, by quoting something that doesn't give you her nuance or range, or her flavor, something so merely follow the link above and read the full Molly...but still here's something she knows more about than I do, something that fits right in with the conversation we've been having here about the new audience, and the blend of new … [Read more...]

On the train

[Digressions away from music, But there's a musical payoff at the end.]I had a meeting in Boston. When it ended, I had some time before my train back to NY. The ride is dead time -- restful if I want to rest, but dead if I need to work. So much of my work takes me online (this blog, for instance). I can hack away at my computer, at writing I can do offline, but that takes concentration, and my normal rhythm keeps my online all the time while I work.And now for the geek paragraph. I'd decided to get a broadband modem for my laptop, so I could go … [Read more...]


The Metropolitan Opera premiered this season's run of "Daughter of the Regiment" two nights ago, featuring many high C's from Juan Diego Florez. And to go along with the review -- which appeared today -- the New York Times features live audio of Florez singing the C's, followed by an ovation and his tradition-smashing encore. (Well, obviously encores are an opera tradition, but the Met long banned them, so this smashes a Met tradition, while returning to an older and better one.)I think this is wonderful. And even more so, because the Times … [Read more...]

The environment — solutions 2 (second in an occasional series)

Problem: You're involved with a classical music organization, maybe a big one. And even though you might describe your institution as "a vital community cultural resource" (to quote one orchestra's website), you know that once you get beyond the "cultural" part of that -- which basically means the contribution that you make to the community with your music -- you don't have all that much to offer. You sense that you're not a vital part of the community when other issues -- non-musical issues -- might arise. Solution: Do something for the … [Read more...]

Radical idea footnote

In my last post, I didn't t mean to imply that old music -- Beethoven, Verdi,  you name the composer -- won't be part of the new classical music world I'm dreaming of, when Steve Reich, Bang on a Can, and eighth blackbird are at the heart of the musical mainstream. Anyone who wants to play old music -- aka the masterworks of western musical history (and I mean that very seriously) with conviction will surely do it, and no doubt find an audience. But we probably don't know exactly how that will work, and exactly what place those masterworks … [Read more...]

Really radical

As I've thought more about my last post, and as I've absorbed the very interesting comments, something else occurred to me. This is very radical, I admit, but I think it follows from everything I've said. Suppose classical concerts were -- as a general rule -- more or less like this eighth blackbird event? Then I think there'd be no gap between classical music and the rest of our culture, and no worries about classical music's future. Though of course that opens further questions. How large could the audience for a concert like this be? Could … [Read more...]

A larger audience?

Thursday night I heard a wonderful concert by eighth blackbird, in Zankel Hall. There was a new Steve Reich piece, Double Sextet, and then an extravaganza -- music plus exuberant staging --  from the three Bang on a Can composers, David Lang, Julia Wolfe, and Michael Gordon. Among much else, this was a real New York event, highlighting music by two generations of composers whose sound just about screams "New York." Steve Reich was New York in the 1970s and early 1980s, and Bang on a Can -- not that they don't have other influences -- come … [Read more...]

Internet 101

Today I got e-mail from a major orchestra, advertising a photo exhibit. The photos sound very interesting. But none were included in the e-mail! Dumb. They had my attention. Why not do something with it? They gave me a link to click, if I wanted to read a full press release about the photo show. No photos in the press release, either. Come on, people -- don't you know how the Internet works? And yes, you'd have to make separate versions of the press release, one for print, the other for downloading. But how hard would that be? Though why not … [Read more...]

Catching up again

Here's something I'm very happy to announce: I'll be giving the commencement address at the Eastman School of Music next month. This warms my heart, because I've had a very happy time teaching at Eastman for the past three years (I teach a quick course in the future of classical music, taught in January, February, and March). And I've bonded each year with my students. But I'm also  honored to get such recognition from a major mainstream music school. And not just honored -- I'm thrilled to see my ideas taken so seriously.***If you'd like … [Read more...]

Fixing links

Some of the links in my Flanagan post didn't work. Apologies. They're now fixed. And Flanagan himself has offered some clarifications of things I summarized in his work, which I'll put up here shortly. Remember that I'm in the same position as people I criticized in my post. I'm not a social scientist, and I might well get things wrong when I venture into the kind of territory that's usually patrolled by experts. Which leads to my most important clarification. A social scientist friend told me that I'm wrong to say Baumol's theorizing hasn't … [Read more...]

Defending Flanagan

I was dismayed at the response to Robert J. Flanagan's very long, very serious, though very academic report on orchestra finances. (Unavoidably academic, however, because Flanagan is an academic.) Could be that I'll sound impatient in what follows, for which I either apologize or not. I'm not sure. But here's the background. For many years, the Andrew W. Mellon foundation funded more than a dozen orchestras through a program designed to encourage innovation, called the Orchestra Forum. The strengths and weaknesses of that endeavor aren't … [Read more...]