The Friday post

sinfini blog

Just a few items today, as I wind down toward vacation. There's a strong piece on videogame music on San Francisco Classical Voice, the thorough, lively website that covers classical music in the Bay Area. It's not a comprehensive look at the subject, since it's an interview with one producer/composer, who's hosting a videogame concert with the San Francisco Symphony. But still the piece raises all the right questions, and in a thoughtful though playful way. You know, like the old chestnut: Is videogame music art? The real point, as the … [Read more...]

The Monday post

corelli staring blog

One of my favorite opera-going moments: When Franco Corelli started an aria facing the back of the stage. Of course you're never supposed to do that. You always face forward in your big moments, partly because you don't want to eclipse yourself theatrically, but also to make sure your voice is heard. But Corelli, or so it seemed, didn't see it that way. He was singing the tenor lead in La gioconda at the Met, maybe in the '70s. The opera calls for him to sing his big aria, "Cielo e mar," alone on stage. "Cielo e mar," he sings. Meaning … [Read more...]

The Friday post

erica book blog

Many items today. Mannes -- formally known as Mannes College the New School for Music -- is headed down a new road, led by its dean, my old friend Richard Kessler. Among much else, they'll stress new music as a central part of their curriculum. This is a revolutionary step for a conservatory, and they're just starting down this road. You can read about it in a story from Opera News. Of course I'll blog more about this, in months to come. Along with radical developments at least at one other music school. *** The Knights, already an … [Read more...]

The Monday post

MarieDuplessis

Many people in classical music know the name Marie Duplessis, because she was the real-life Paris courtesan whose story — greatly fictionalized, in a novel by Alexandre Dumas — was the inspiration for La traviata.  And a New York Times review of a new biography of her starts by almost deploring the disconnect between fiction and reality. How sad, some people think, that the real courtesan didn't nobly sacrifice herself, the way her idealized persona in Dumas and Verdi did. But how her life really ended was, to my mind, much more touching. … [Read more...]

The Friday post

paperpixels

Set in stone From the University of Chicago comes a major study of arts building — the boom, during the past two decades, in building major arts facilities, including many performing arts centers. The study (called Set in Stone) examined 700 building projects, launched between 1994 and 2008. And its conclusions suggest that caution in building might be a good idea. To quote a quick overview available online (along with the complete final report): "The research we conducted does indeed point to substantial evidence that there was … [Read more...]

Out of touch

pso steelers blog

Sometimes some of us in classical music talk and act as if we know very little about the outside world. This hurts us gravely. Here we are, losing support in the outside world, but unwilling to poke our heads outside our bubble, to learn about the people we so badly want to reach. Sad example: a very nice man (I know him slightly), who's been a musicologist, a university president, and the head of a major foundation. At the League of American Orchestras conference last month he received an award for his foundation work, and made what I'm … [Read more...]

The Monday post

czardas blog

Crazy fun. Twelve teachers from the Washington Conservatory (a community music school) play Monti's "Csárdás," a famous old chestnut for the violin. Here they're taking turns on the piano. Truly crazy. How'd it happen? The director of the conservatory knows a producer at the TEDMED conference, an annual April gathering at DC's Kennedy Center, where health and science professionals brainstorm and collaborate. Could the conservatory, the producer asked, come up with a musical metaphor for fun, creative collaboration? This was the result. … [Read more...]

The Friday post

retta blog

Happy I'll start with one of the happiest endorsements for classical music we'll ever see.  Retta, who stars in Parks and Recreation, holds forth with great delight on the Conan show. You have to watch this. Trust me! New World Concerts aimed at new audiences — with paid admission  — bring more new people to an orchestra, more even than free concerts do. They also have a younger, more diverse, more satisfied, and more engaged audience than concerts for the normal audience. Those are some of the findings from a study by the New World … [Read more...]

Imagining — last post

tabatha blog

To finish my account of the session I led at the League of American Orchestras conference (and sorry for the delay)… The story so far (clicking the link takes you to my last post, where I began this): I asked participants to imagine that in 10 years, all the problems orchestras now have will be solved. They'll have vibrant young audiences, eager support from their communities, no funding problems, and freedom to play any music they like.  Yes, that's a dream. But dreams can be freeing. As a first step toward examining this one, I asked … [Read more...]

The Monday post

Petrushka blog

This must have been delightful: The New York Philharmonic played — and staged — Petrushka, with the musicians as dancers and actors. Here's what happened, as described by Anthony Tommasini in his New York Times review: In this “Petrushka” the musicians, many wearing Russian hats and jackets, played the piece and also the rowdy crowd participating in the festivities, stomping their boots in unison with the downbeats and swaying to the swings of the music like the orchestral equivalent of a wave at a baseball stadium. On a screen above the … [Read more...]

The Friday post

NYTimes artist blog

A quiet week. Very little input. So I thought I'd feature this story from the New York Times magazine, about Natalie Jeremijenko, whom we'd trivialize, just a little, by calling an artist, even though her work has been shown in top museums around the world: Four years ago, the Australian-born artist Natalie Jeremijenko stood at the edge of Pier 35 in Downtown Manhattan, trying to start a conversation with some striped bass. Just north of the Manhattan Bridge, she and several collaborators dropped 16 tall buoys into the East River. The buoys … [Read more...]

Imagining more

wilson blog

Continuing about the session I led at the League of American Orchestras conference… The story so far (clicking the link takes you to my last post, where I began this): I asked participants to imagine that in 10 years, all the problems orchestras now have will be solved. They'll have vibrant young audiences, eager support from their communities, no funding problems, and freedom to play any music they like.  Yes, that's a dream. But dreams can be freeing. As a first step toward examining this one, I asked everyone to write down three reasons … [Read more...]

Imagining 2023

GeekyMe blog

Suppose in 10 years all problems that orchestras have will be solved! Suppose that orchestras have a vibrant young audience, that people all over the country are talking about what orchestras do. Suppose there aren't funding problems. And that all of this has been accomplished without the slightest artistic compromise. How -- looking back now from this imagined 10-year perspective — would we have gotten there? What would have changed? That was the conversation I led last month at the League of American Orchestras national conference. … [Read more...]

The Monday post

backhaus blog

Here's something I've mentioned on the blog before. Also something I assign in my Juilliard course on the future of classical music. But it's worth showing you again. Back in the 19th century, pianists improvised preludes to everything they played in recitals. Preludes either simply to lead into a piece, or maybe also to make a transition between one piece and another. This survived even into the 20th century, into the age of recording. And Wilhelm Backaus -- a great German pianist of the old school was doing it as late as the 1960s. (He … [Read more...]