Doesn’t anyone here know how to play this game?

A legendary quote from Casey Stengel, when he managed first season of the then-hapless New York Mets.A publicist for the Boston Symphony asked me to mention the latest edition of their online "Concert Companion," which is mostly about Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, an opera they're performing in a concert version starting right now. So I'll oblige. What they've done is very lame. And it's lame in instructive ways. Mostly they offer videos -- a Verdi biography, something about the historical context of Verdi's work, an interview with James Levine, … [Read more...]

Information shortage (Where we stand, part 3)

Continuing with my series of "let's see where we are" posts...the others were here (an overview), and here (about a new spirit in the world about classical music). Plus supplements to the first post, and to the second.This one is about statistics, but maybe more importantly -- in the long run -- about transparency. We don't have enough numbers (and certainly not enough publicly available numbers) about how classical music institutions are doing. Opera America, I'm happy to say (they're the association of North American opera companies), each … [Read more...]

What I left out

Left out, that is, in my "new spirit" post, about the new openness I sense about classical music, in our wider culture. This was the second of my "where we stand" series, updating some ongoing thoughts on the future of, and really -- I blew it. Yes, what I said about a new freedom in using classical music in commercials -- that's all true. And it's important. But I should have mentioned two other signs of a new wind blowing. One of them is Alex Ross's book. Here we have a serious book on classical music, and first, it's not stuffy or pompous, … [Read more...]

Back again

I've neglected the blog, I know. I did a lot of intense preparation for my Juilliard and Eastman classes, both on the future of classical music. And in the middle of that, I took a long drive from my country place down to Washington to be at the inauguration, and of course to be with Anne. There I am, after the festivities, not a notable photo in itself (and the crowd looks so small!), but it's my souvenir, along with an overpriced t-shirt I bought later on. And you can see how happy I am.That night, after miles of walking, I had to drive back … [Read more...]

This was the week

(So many things that cross my mind I never blog about. Here are last week's, though some are earlier...)Evening musicI was driving last Thursday night, and listening to WNYC's Evening Music show, aka the flagship classical program on New York public radio. (Which I've blogged about before.) Since they play so much new music, and also music that isn't even classical, I'm ready for anything when I turn it on. I even once encountered a cheesy -- delightfully cheesy -- horror-movie score.But on Thursday, Terrance McKnight, the host, was playing … [Read more...]

A new spirit (Where we stand, part 2)

The second of five posts about the current state of classical music. This one is about some good news. I think there's a new spirit in the air -- a new openness to classical music. I first noticed it in commercials. I could even go back a few years, to something I didn't understand at the time, a commercial for the Starz movie channel that featured the big tune from Beethoven's Ninth, with people singing, "Movies, movies, movies, movies." Try it for yourself. It's insane. What were they thinking? Or so I asked myself. What's the connection … [Read more...]

Where we stand (more)

Here's a supplement to my last post, while I prepare the next installment in the series. I wrote a "where we stand" last year, in considerable detail. Here it is, needing just a bit of revision and amplification to be up to date. Or you can download it as a PDF, I'll revise it a bit very shortly, since I'm going to assign it this semester in my Juilliard and Eastman courses on the future of classical music.And as I neglected to say in my last post -- comments are very, very welcome. We're all in this together.NumbersSeems like the classical … [Read more...]

Where we stand, 2009

A happy new year to everyone. Hope you all had revitalizing holidays, and that 2009 will be everything you want it to be. Or else something even better than you hoped.I thought I'd start the year, blogwise, with an overview -- in five posts -- of where I think classical music stands right now. This opening entry will summarize some things you may have read here before, but later posts will have quite a lot that's new.So where are we, as we start 2009? Understanding, of course, that the economy is a wild card -- maybe a ferocious wild card -- … [Read more...]