From Erica Sipes: Words before Winterreise


 [From Greg: A followup to Erica's guest post yesterday, about the performance of Winterreise she did in a small town. Here she tells us what she said before the performance, to introduce the piece to an audience that doesn't know classical music. This is one of the best introductions to a classical piece I've ever seen. An inspiration, in my view, for us all.] Ed and I are so glad that you have joined us here today.  I’ve had the opportunity to perform this incredible set of songs before but I was struck today, as my husband and I were … [Read more...]

From Erica Sipes: Performing Schubert in bluegrass country

Image taken by Floyd resident Jim Best, who attended our performance and kindly shared this photo with me afterwards.

[From Greg: Again I'm happy to introduce a guest blogger, my friend Erica Sipes, a pianist and cellist who plays and teaches in rural Virginia. Erica brings a perspective that I certainly don't have: She tells us what it's like to bring a new audience to classical music in small towns. For an overview of her thoughts on that — invaluable, I think — see her own blog posts about the classical city mouse, and the classical country mouse. In the post you'll read here (which she and I decided we'd crosspost from her blog)  she talks with deep … [Read more...]

What happens in my Juilliard course

bjor-tebaldi blog

This is my course on the future of classical music, called "Classical Music in an Age of Pop." You can see the week by week schedule — and all the assignments — here. And I'm ready to teach a version of the course online. Three 90-minute sessions, with group discussion, for $250. I have people interested already, and if I get one or two more, I'm ready to go! Please contact me if you'd like to join us. So what happens in this course? Which, I'm amazed to remember, I've been teaching now for 17 years. Well, right now we're looking at what … [Read more...]

From Liza Figueroa Kravinsky: More hope than you realize

Night Crowd

[From Greg: Here's another guest blogger. I met Liza Kravinsky maybe a year ago, when she hired me as a consultant, to help her work out a strategy for launching the project she describes here. The things we talked about don't enter into her post; maybe they'll come up in later posts she might make, or maybe they won't. That doesn't matter, because what I loved was the project itself. And especially the way that it didn't simply combine pop and classical music — that's been done quite a lot — but also brought together pop and classical … [Read more...]

From Nathan Shirley: Videos — untapped potential

1- mY8

[From Greg: Again I'm happy to introduce a guest blogger, our second one, pianist/composer Nathan Shirley. He brings us his favorite classical music videos, and I think it's a marvelous list, lively, provocative, and — as the best lists of this kind are — highly individual. We'll save it as a permanent blog sidebar, in the "Resources" section on the right, on the main blog page. This section will expand over time, and I hope will become an archive of ideas and information, useful for anyone interested in the future of classical music. Nathan's … [Read more...]

From Lara Downes: Here at the Exiles’ Cafe

lara photo blog

[From Greg: I'm happy to introduce the first of our guest bloggers. Lara Downes seemed like a perfect choice, because she'd already emailed me about some classical CD covers she likes, and because the explosion of comments on her own CD image almost cried out for a response from her. I'm happy that she made one — in a very friendly, companionable way — and I'm delighted to think we might hear from her from time to time about all of her work. She's a fine example of an entrepreneurial classical musician.] Well, I've been enjoying the lively … [Read more...]


lara downes album blog

When I saw I had 16 comments on my latest post about CD covers (and more have come in since), I knew I'd provoked a storm. And I had. Many of the commenters objected to the Lara Downes CD cover — for her album Exiles' Café — I offered as an example of something good. (Shown here.) Which is perfectly fair. Nobody's required to have my taste. But the reasons for not liking it! You can't see her whole face. She's not in focus. She's on a slant. "It looks like when my five-year old goes on a shooting spree with my phone camera." It's soft … [Read more...]

Fail, fail, fail (and a success)

lara downes album blog

First, here's a success — a good CD cover, sent to me by Lara Downes, a pianist whose new album it is:   Strong, evocative. And the image resonates with the album's name. Thanks, Lara, for sending this to me! Your website is terrific, too. Now for some bad ones. I doubt they need any comment, but I've added few words anyway. From Sony Classical:   Who, looking at this  — and not knowing Manny Ax — would want to hear it, let alone buy it? Does the person shown here look like an artist, someone with taste and … [Read more...]

CD cover footnote

design blog

Fascinating pushback that I've gotten to my "Fail" post, about how bad classical CD covers are. To me, their prevailing hopelessness suggests that classical record companies  — even the biggest — don't really believe they have a market. Any healthy company engaged with a market wouldn't put up with these covers for five minutes. But one commenter, who's often angry with me, rose up to defend the record labels, saying I had no idea how many hours they spent in meetings, trying to decide what the covers should be. This was appalling news. So … [Read more...]

Blog expansion

expansion blog

But first, the flu. That's what floored me for the past week, explaining my silence here. I did make my Boulder trip, and had a fabulous time, seeing friends, family, and engaging with the Entrepreneurial Center for Music at the College of Music at the University of Colorado. While barely fighting off the flu at night. When I got home, I thought I'd better rest. Now I'm back. Mainlining cough drops on Amtrak, but I'm back. And my first priority here is expanding the blog. In a post all too long ago, I asked for people who might want to … [Read more...]