From Jeffrey Nytch: The entrepreneurial symphony

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From Greg I've been in email touch with Jeff Nytch for a few years. We have a mutual close friend, and of course a shared interest in teaching entrepreneurship at music schools. Last spring, Jeff invited me to speak at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he runs the music school's entrepreneurship program. But what Jeff writes about here goes beyond any friend-of-friendship, or any speaking engagement. Jeff is not just an entrepreneurship teacher. He's an entrepreneur, and tells us here how he used entrepreneurship — defined much more … [Read more...]

Where’s Greg?

busy blog

I've been dashing about. Two weeks ago — and twice since the start of September —  I've been at the DePauw University School of Music, plunging into my intensive consultantcy, working with faculty, students, and the dean to help define the school's radical new curriculum. And last week I was in Dubuque, IA, helping the Northeast Iowa School of Music — a spirited community music school — evolve a strategic plan for future growth. This turned out to be as gratifying as my DePauw work. They're terrific people in Dubuque, and to judge from the … [Read more...]

Monday post — recanted rant

patti smith blog

From the New York Times Book Review a week ago, a Q&A with Scott Turow: What was the last truly great book you read? When I noticed that Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” had won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 2010, I ranted about contemporary culture, so celebrity-besotted that we were now giving vaunted literary prizes to rock stars. Then I read the book. It is profound and unique, a perfectly wrought account of what it means to give your life to art and to another person. I expect it to be read with wonder for a long … [Read more...]

Timeline of the crisis (3)

storm clouds blog

Here — to end my posts on the dates of the classical music crisis  — is a detailed crisis timeline. The information in it comes from many sources, including published reports, blog comments by people who saw the crisis develop in their professional work, and my own experience. Nobody should think this timeline is anything but tentative. It's just a beginning of the timeline we could eventually construct, with more data and more reports from people in the middle of it all. And this timeline, tentative as it is, has some obvious weaknesses. … [Read more...]

Timeline of the crisis (2)

wrestle crisis blog

The first of my timeline posts offered two snapshots of classical music coverage in Time magazine — which declined (a lot) in recent decades. That shows us classical music receding from mainstream culture. Or mainstream culture moving away from classical music. Now, in my second timeline post, I'll quote an overview of the crisis from Ron Nadel, who posted it as a comment to the first of the posts I've been doing on the classical music crisis, the one where I asked how long the crisis has been going on. Note that it's based on his own … [Read more...]

Timeline of the crisis (1)


I'm continuing my posts about the classical music crisis, and I'm coming now to the crisis timeline, which will how and when the crisis developed, decade by decade. I started these posts by asking when the crisis began. Here are some answers, in three parts. First, two snapshots. Then, tomorrow, a savvy overview, written as a comment to my original post. And on Thursday a detailed timeline. Two snapshots. First: a graph showing mentions of the word "orchestra," tracked year by year through every issue of Time magazine from its founding in … [Read more...]

Monday post — Philadelphia fun

philly blog

Many of us know that the Philadelphia Orchestra couldn't kick off Carnegie Hall's season, as planned, because of a brief strike by Carnegie's stagehands. Their concert was cancelled. So what did they do? They gave a free concert -- dressed in colorful, informal clothes — in their hall in Philadelphia. 2200 people showed up. And clearly had fun. Before the concert, there was a conducting competition. For members of the audience. A nine year-old won, and -- what a prize for a contest winner — conducted the orchestra in the end of … [Read more...]

Revolution at DePauw

DePawu blog

I've mentioned here and on Facebook a consulting job I said I couldn't talk about, because the project it's part of hadn't been made public. But now that project has been announced, so here's the news. The DePauw University School of Music is revolutionizing its curriculum — I don't think that's too strong — to focus on training what it calls 21st century musicians. Which means musicians who make careers in new ways, give new kinds of classical performances, and find new audiences. Other schools, of course, have entrepreneurship programs, … [Read more...]

From Caroline Márkos: My career outside the box (2)

Bruce Barrett 2011

In part one of her guest post, Caroline told her story. Born in the Yukon Territory in Canada, success as a jazz singer when she was just 19, vocal trouble, lessons from a classical voice teacher — and revelation! She devoted herself to classical music, and got a master's degree as a classical soprano.  But:  Like you, I hear and read about classical music attendance dwindling and I get a pit in my stomach.  Firstly, because it affects my and my husband’s livelihood, and secondly because I’ve come to love this music so much that it deeply … [Read more...]

From Caroline Márkos: My career outside the box (1)

Photo by Alistair Eagle

From Greg: A  few months ago, I got email from a singer in Canada, who'd just found my blog. She was thrilled, because she'd been thinking some of the same things I and others here, readers and guest bloggers, think, and it was what she thought, too. Thoughts about how classical music needs to change. She'd never known that so many others agreed with her. I get email like this often enough, and it's heartening. Always makes me happy that I'm doing this blog. The singer — Caroline Márkos — and I exchanged a few messages, and in one of them I … [Read more...]

Monday post — awe and wonder

cardiff6 blog

Something lovely from my friend Carole Adrian, who's Assistant to the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs at Juilliard. She emailed me and a few other people about a sound installation by Janet Cardiff, called "Forty Part Motet." It's at a place not normally known for contemporary art, The Cloisters, New York's famous museum of medieval art and architecture. Here's what Carole wrote (which I'm quoting with her permission): I went yesterday, and it is a transcendent, transformative experience.  She has individually recorded the … [Read more...]

Friday post: Nobel prize for Bob Dylan?

dylan blog

File under: the culture outside classical music Bill Wyman, a writer and thinker who started out as a rock critic (and no, he's not the Rolling Stones' bassist) had a powerful piece in the New York Times last Sunday, urging that Bob Dylan get the Nobel Prize for literature. Which, from a classical music point of view, hits us right on a fault line. Dylan? Pop music? Nobel prize? Isn't the very idea an assault on art. Well, no. Not to anyone who knows Dylan. Bill (he used to write for me when I was music editor of Entertainment … [Read more...]

From Liza Figueroa Kravinsky: You scratch my back…

Go-Go Symphony 1

From time to time, Liza Figueroa Kravinsky has been guest-blogging here about how she's developing her Go-Go Symphony, an ensemble that combines classical music with Go-Go, the iconic dance music of Washington, DC.  One reason her group is unusual is that the crossover is rooted in the people involved. Instead of having, as I've sometimes seen, classical musicians playing in a pop style, pop musicians writing classical music, or shotgun marriages in which a pop artist guests with a classical group, without much true artistic interchange — … [Read more...]

Portrait of a crisis

classical crisis blog

In my last crisis post, I said I'd talk more about crisis skeptics — those who don't believe there's a classical music crisis, or who think it's perpetual — and then lay out what I think the crisis is. But no. Better to describe the crisis now. For one thing, people are waiting for me to do it. And it'll be easier to engage crisis skeptics once the shape of the crisis is clear. The aging audience So what is the classical music crisis? As I see it, the crisis is systemic. It hits almost every aspect of classical music. So maybe, in the … [Read more...]