Imagine the future

arch blog

Well, part of this isn't imaginary. I have speaking gigs coming up — late May at the Bergen International Festival in Norway, and June 19 at the League of American Orchestras annual conference in St. Louis. In Bergen, I'll be speaking privately on May 30 to Klassisk, the association of Norwegian concert promoters, and then I seem to have top billing in a debate on the future of classical music, from 5 to 6 PM on May 31. Debating with me will be Rolf Gupta, a conductor, and the manager of the classical music at NRK Radio (the Norwegian … [Read more...]

Hidden history

san carlo blog

Here's a solution to the Met Opera's financial woes: Open a gambling casino in the opera house. Cue howls of outrage. But opera was in fact funded that way in 19th century Italy. That's one thing I've learned from a book called Bel Canto Bully (not a great title), a biography of Domenico Barbaja, the leading 19th century Italian opera impresario, written by Philip Eisenbeiss, and about to be published. I knew Barbaja's name, as many serious opera fans might, because he ran the San Carlo opera house — the grandest in Italy — in Naples. And … [Read more...]

Make some noise

fountain blog

Taking some leisure yesterday in the sun, at the Lincoln Center fountain. The fountain was putting on a show — dancing, playing, shooting high, falling back to nothing at all, making walls of water, so much fun. Here's a video (from my iPhone), complete with dancing little girl. (It'll take a while to load. And clicking the arrow on the right won't show it.) All this was completely unheralded. Nothing advertising the fountain dance, unless you count a guard coming around to warn people (like me) sitting at the edge that we might get … [Read more...]

Taste and beauty

t cover

This stopped me dead in my tracks the Sunday before last, when I was browsing through the New York Times. It's a photo of Julianne Moore, on the cover of T, the Times's fashion magazine. Arrestingly beautiful, I thought. And certainly not an old-fashioned, clear and simple kind of beauty. Hair everywhere. And all those dark spots. Spots of dirt, my wife and I first thought. But in fact they're some of the freckles that (as Moore says in the interview that goes with the photo) shower her body.  Contemporary beauty. Layered, deep, not … [Read more...]

From Sally Whitwell: It’s a new day

Whitwell workshop

I've been thinking a great deal about classical musicians and creativity recently, following my experience as a performer and composition workshop presenter for teenagers at the Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF). It was rather shocking to me to hear from various people in the festival management that they found it very difficult to get the classical performers appearing in the festival to do creative workshops as well. A quick skim of the festival program confirmed their fears to me. Apart from a sprinkling of masterclasses aimed at … [Read more...]

They do not move

godot blog

As I replied to blog comments on my last post (about a coming tipping point), I found myself explaining why it's hard for many classical music institutions to change, even if they want to. Often I'm reminded of the very end of Waiting for Godot: Well, shall we go? Yes, let's go. They do not move.   Of course, some institutions do make changes, and some don't want to, because they're in denial — they don't think there's a crisis, or they imagine things will turn around if they just keep doing what they always did. Or else they're … [Read more...]

A tipping point is coming

tipping blog

Here are some straws in a very strong, important wind: There's a major US classical music institution — one of the most important in America — whose CEO and board chair routinely say (in private) that the performances they offer are obsolete, not suited to contemporary culture. There's a top European music festival whose CEO thinks classical music has to change decisively. The deans of two US conservatories want to revamp their curricula, thoroughly, to bring their schools into the modern age.  I know these things either firsthand, … [Read more...]

From Liza Kravinsky: Go-go symphony marketing (1)

GGS Art Color

It's time for me to plan a marketing strategy for the go-go symphony, my composition that plays symphonic music over Washington DC's unique go-go dance beat. I figure that blogging about my thought process would help me think, so here we go. But first some basic information for the uninitiated: As I explained in more detail in my last blog post, go-go is a sub genre of funk that has been extremely popular in the Washington DC area since the 1970s, especially with African Americans. Its main feature is live swinging polyrhythm — endless … [Read more...]

More things conservatories need

silos blog

Here are some final thoughts on what music schools need. Well, final for now. This is a big subject, and readers — thanks so much for your support for my ideas! — are warmly invited to comment with thoughts of their own. Briefly…I'm saddened by the silos music schools build. And a parenthesis here: I realize I wasn't clear to readers outside the US, when I've talked about "music schools." It wasn't clear to them that I was talking about conservatories, about professional classical music education. So I should have said "conservatories," … [Read more...]

Happy days

blind ear blog

The happy news: a composing project premiering Thursday my blog collaborators and a grant I've gotten, to help me start a catalogue of changes in classical music Though first something less happy — an attack of stomach flu. That's over, but it laid me low for a bit. One reason for less activity you might have seen from me. Especially because I also, stomach or not, forged ahead with a composing project, which will be heard Thursday in New York. This is a piece for Blind Ear, a comopser/musician collective cofounded by a former … [Read more...]