Quotation of the day

[Cultural funding] may be losing some cachet. It's not in vogue with the tech billionaires on the West Coast, where Bill Gates famously funds such developing-world causes as greater access to fresh water and vaccinations. Instead of a night at the opera wearing Oscar de la Renta, it's a week in Malawi sporting khaki safari vests. And younger donors often seem more interested in pursuits like fighting poverty or improving educational opportunities for inner-city kids."Tech guys and hedge fund guys would rather develop electric cars and eradicate … [Read more...]

A clear case of bias

I did some posts not long ago about the belief in classical music superiority -- and how damaging it can be. Here's one last approach to that. (Well, last for now. Previous posts: Think of the prestigious Pulitzer prizes, and how the people who run them decided that the music prize should be open not just to classical music, but also to jazz. And, I guess, even to pop, because this year they gave an special award to Hank Williams (senior, of course), and in 2008 they gave one to Bob Dylan. Which -- with admiration -- I'd think opens the door to … [Read more...]


A curiosity -- or else a perennial annoyance -- about the liner notes for the Haydn boxed set that includes the surprising "Surprise" Symphony I blogged about. (First post, second post.)Well, really a case of brain-dead habits. The performance is unusual, to say the least. The orchestra making no sound when the loud surprise chord is supposed to come, and then, the next time through, shouting instead of playing the chord.And is there even a word about this in the liner notes? No. They're just the usual (and maybe in this case more than usually … [Read more...]

Going to Australia

I'll be flying there on Thursday, arriving in Sydney Saturday, Australian time. On July 12 I'll be speaking at a classical music summit, organized by the Music Council.of Australia. Not a public event, I'm sorry to say, though privacy is also a good idea, to focus discussion, and encourage people to speak simply and honestly. Then I'll be in Melbourne, on July 15, for at least one meeting organized by the Music Board of the Australia Council. I'll be staying in Sydney at the Four Seasons, and in Melbourne at the Travelodge Southbank. I've been … [Read more...]

Yes, a surprise

I posted a little while ago about a recording of Haydn's Surprise Symphony, as reviewed in the Washington Post. At the surprise -- the sudden loud chord in the second movement -- unexpected things happen. Now I've heard the recording -- part of a four-CD set of all Haydn's London symphonies, conducted by Marc Minkowski -- and it's even more fun than the review suggested. Here's what happens. The slow movement, as Haydn wrote it, begins with the simplest of melodies, played very quietly. (And on this recording, it really is quiet.) The melody is … [Read more...]

It’s easy

One more thought about bringing classical music to minority kids, as Carnegie Hall and the Berlin Philharmonic did, when they taught "inner city youth" (their phrase) to dance to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. (See my previous posts on this, the first, second, and third.) It's easy to do.And yes, of course it can be done well or badly, that of course you have to learn some things before you can do it well, and that some programs -- like maybe that Berlin/Carnegie enterprise -- might be inspired.But at bottom, this isn't much of a challenge. If … [Read more...]

Suspicious Cheese Lords

That's the name of an early music vocal group in Washington. You can read the meaning of the name on their website. There's a Tallis motet called "Suscipe quæso Domine," and from that you get...I also like the start of their group bio, the part that says their founder "had the typical American dream of wanting to sing Thomas Tallis' Lamentations of the Prophet Jeremiah." And they sing well. But of course what charms me here is how they make classical music part of regular culture, by naming themselves (I hardly have to say it) the way a band … [Read more...]