Some places you can find me:
In Symphony magazine, the publication of the League of American Orchestras. I’ve got a piece on the revolution that orchestras need. I think it’s one of the best things I’ve done. Very hard-hitting, but optimistic. The spirit of rebirth (I’d like to think) in action.
And then on a blog called Orchestra R/Evolution the League set up, as a lead-in to its annual conference. I’m one of the regular bloggers there, and the theme of my first post was Robert Burns — how we in classical music have to learn to see ourselves (and our field) as others see us. It’s not very pretty. But it can all be reborn!
I went into orbit in my second post, which — not that anyone keeps stats on these things — may be the first time Berlioz and the post-punk band Pussy Galore have ever been mentioned in the same piece of writing. I was thinking of the meaningless “celebrations” that orchestras are forever mounting. Oooo, let’s celebrate Brahms this year! Compare that to the genuine celebration that the reissue of the Stones’ 1972 Exile on Main Street album is creating.
People love that album, or are intrigued by it — it’s “semiconscious,” said Ben Ratliff in the New York Times, and also loose and wild, and was recorded (most of it) in a basement. And because we don’t encounter it every day (unlike Brahms, whose presence among orchestras is constant), it’s an enormous pleasure to think about it (and hear it) again.
Berlioz and Pussy Galore come up when I thought about transforming existing repertoire. Pussy Galore did a single-take assault on Exile, and Limor Tomer, back in the Berlioz year of the past decade, did a Berlioz show at Joe’s Pub in New York, which was full of surprises. (Now she’s doing astonishing things as executive music producer at WNYC, New York’s public radio station.)
Oh, and Alan Gilbert?
I’m wild — really, truly, happily wild — about three videos he and the New York Philharmonic made, to publicize his performances (starting tonight) of Ligeti’s Le grand macabre. He hangs out with Death. They eat ice cream. They talk about the Rite of Spring (Death wearily puts up with a story he’s heard a thousand times). They play Guitar Hero. Death — shrouded in black, speaking some scabrous language I wouldn’t dare identify — is unforgettable. Alan is game, cheerful, and lots of fun as Death’s straight man.
If everyone in classical music put out material like this, the field might be reborn tomorrow. And the Philharmonic is selling lots of single tickets to Le grand macabre, so they’re clearly doing something right. What role the videos play in that would be fascinating to know, but even without knowing that, it’s clear that something’s going very
(And, much as I like the writing I’ve been doing, Alan has more fun than I do.)