A little while ago I was talking for to [ah, typos] a former student of mine, a composer with a sincere commitment to modernism. Readers here know that that isn't my own favorite musical style of the past 50 years, but I respect it, like some of the music, and also think that it's due for another look. I'd like to see a retrospective on it in a contemporary  art museum, because I think a museum audience is one place to look for people who'll actually like modernist music. I'd also look -- in the future -- to the alt-classical world. … [Read more...]

A warning

For the first time, I've seen comments here that in my opinion cross the line that separates vigorous disagreement from scornful personal attacks. I won't cite those comments here, though I did flag them in remarks I posted in response to each one. I don't want comments like these appearing on my blog. So this is my warning, never needed before. Disagreement -- including vigorous, even total disagreement -- is welcome here, whether it's about something I say, or something anyone else says. But if anyone posts a comment that in my opinion gives … [Read more...]

The two cultures

On the website of SloverLinett Strategies -- a company that does audience research and planning for nonprofits working in education and the arts -- there's a terrific blog post, by one of the company's two principals, Peter Linett. I'll excerpt a bit of it, but I'd urge you to follow this link and read it all. It fits perfectly with the discussions we have here: If someone asks you why the classical music scene...looks and acts the way it does, you might answer by referring to those appearances and actions as manifestations of a particular set … [Read more...]

Interviewed by a teen

A high school student -- who wants to be known here just as Spencer L. -- asked if he could interview me. We did it by email. Here's our Q&A. A good chance for me to be very succinct about things I believe:1. How has music (specifically orchestra, ensemble, jazz as opposed to rock, rap, etc) affected you and your life?I grew up listening to this music, so my first musical experiences were involved with it. It touched my heart, excited me, and made me want to learn all about it. [I was careless here. Apologies to Spencer. I meant that I grew … [Read more...]

Rebirth progress (slow)

Yes, I promised a new book riff first by last Wednesday, then by today.But it's slow going. To plan and outline this book in a way that's lively, thorough, and correct -- that takes time. So I'm finding myself going offline, and doing what writers and artists always have done. Apply butt to seat, and work.Time problems are a major thorn in my life. And not only my life, of course. I have more things to do than -- short of working 24/7 -- I have time for. So...triage. Lately this blog was triaged, and also the comments on it. I regret that, but … [Read more...]

Shorter book riffs

Re my book -- I've moved on from riffing chapter one to riffing chapter two. (See the outline for what those chapters are.)But I realize the chapter one collected riffs are very long. So I've made a shorter version. Better, in some small ways, too. But of course a lot gets left out. Still, for those who want a quicker read -- and especially if you were daunted by the sheer length of what I've offered earlier -- here's something shorter. I'm forced to revise a deadline I gave myself for the chapter two riffs. They're outlined, in full. But I … [Read more...]

More on diversity

My "Diversity Challenge" post has sparked a terrific discussion. Read it in the comments. I'm grateful to everyone who's contributed. It's all about the increasing diversity of our culture, and the notable non-diversity of the classical music world. But one key thought was offered three weeks ago by Jon Silpayamanant, as a comment to my post on the New York City Opera, in which I mentioned -- besides the improvising flute in the orchestra (still one of my favorite classical music amazements in recent months) -- how the company attracted a … [Read more...]

Quotation of the day

From Janis, commenting on my "Diversity Challenge" post:The classical is trying to wonder how to attract an audience, and that's the whole problem. The people you want to attract aren't interested in being a mere audience. Maybe you'll get a few superficial dilletantes here and there, but the lifeblood types who can really breathe new life into it and bring it into the future aren't interested in sitting there. They want to roll up their sleeves and dig in themselves.You go, Janis!She ties into points I've often made.The classical music world … [Read more...]

The latest on my book

I've revised - quite thoroughly revised - the riffs I've been posting here since September. You can find the complete revision here, in one long file. It's a lot to read, but I'd love people to read it. You'll see that everything is tighter, and flows better. With some new ideas added. And you'll see that the book will have musical interludes, as I'm calling them - passages on music itself. My reminiscence of singing Otello many years ago is now the first of these. The second might come in chapter two of the book, in the section on funding. … [Read more...]

Diversity challenge

Happy new year, everyone. I'm back, and relaunched into many projects, including my book, of course, but also some rebranding, which notably includes a complete redesign of my website. (Which is so creakily obsolete that I'm almost ashamed to give you the link. Maybe I should think of it as folk art.) Stay tuned for updates on this. Including the book. Here's a peek at a revised version of all those riffs -- improvisations on the book's content -- that I posted over the past months. More on that in my next post. But here's something my friend … [Read more...]