The speed of change

future blog

One thing my mavericks posts showed was how much change there is in classical music, how many people and groups are doing new things. And we barely scratched the surface. (The link takes you to the first of these posts. At the end of it, you'll find links to all the others.) As I said, I'll be adding to the mavericks list. But right now, here's something related — a post about new things that have popped up in my inbox or web browsing in the past month or so, things that also show how things are changing. Whether the people and groups … [Read more...]

Final mavericks: Jade Simmons and a Go-Go symphony

jade blog

Well, final only for now. Because, as I said in my last post — where I finished the list of readers' nominations — I'll be continuing this in the new year. So the name to conjure with, maverick-wise — the maverick of the year, if I had to name one — would be Jade Simmons. One look at her website (follow the link) tells you she's different. "Cyber Digs of Multifaceted Pianist Jade Simmons," it says. "Take off your shoes & stay awhile!" I don't know anyone in classical music who's so much at home in our outside culture, who does the same … [Read more...]

A lot of mavericks

from readers blog

  Finishing — for now — with the many, many suggestions I've gotten from readers. If I missed anyone (maybe a Facebook comment, or something on Twitter, or whatever else might have escaped my dragnet, forgive me! This isn't over. We'll resume in the new year. And then keep doing this! Because what we've done here is something badly needed. We're compiling a list of classical music alternatives — of the many new things that people have done, to change the face of this art form, and give it a new birth. From Andrew Lyon:  I am … [Read more...]

“We personalize what music is”

ROCO blog

Another maverick, one I've known about for years: The 40-musician River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, in Houston, founded in 2005. This has to be one of the most stunning entrepreneurial triumphs in classical music, since its founder, Alecia Lawyer, created it from nothing, using social contacts at her church and in Houston generally to lay a foundation. And then finding the best musicians she could, from Houston and elsewhere. And then building a large, stable audience. And then making an impact on the city. She was (as I just learned from ROCO's … [Read more...]

Mavericks — continuing

from readers blog

More classical music mavericks, as submitted by readers: From Geoffrey Jones: The Artists in Residence program at Strathmore [a major concert hall, between Washington, DC and Baltimore], some of them are breaking molds and have huge talents. Three suggestions from Brett Amacher: I think this is a great example of how to "reach outside the classical music bubble": 'The Speedbumps at the Canton Symphony' did that very well, imo (details on the blog post below). Tonhalle Orchester Zurich's "tonhalleLATE"... … [Read more...]

Path-breaking piano curriculum

from readers blog

Add this to the mavericks list. I'll continue with nominations from readers very shortly, but thought I'd add one of my own. This is an email from Heather Dawn Taves, a pianist and composer who teaches at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada (an hour outside Toronto). Heather describes the piano program at the school, which more than lives up to its billing — in her email — as "the most innovative of the high-end performance undergrad programs in Canada." Or, I'd think, anywhere.  I wouldn't even know where to start in showing why … [Read more...]

More mavericks

from readers blog

More suggestions from the many I've gotten, after I asked who in classical music is doing things in new ways. I'll post all the suggestions I get, though not all at once. The suggestion I posted: Ad Hoc, a chamber ensemble in Rochester. (I'll have more) One thought, before going further. Many people mention performances in clubs. Nothing wrong with that. Classical musicians have been playing in clubs for more than a decade, and clearly they're bringing classical music closer to everyday life. But because this has been going on for so … [Read more...]

Maverick nominations

from readers blog

Many suggestions for maverick classical music people and groups — which I asked for in a recent post  —  have come in, via blog comments, email, Facebook, and Twitter. I asked for "nominations," actually, which now I regret. Did I really think I was going to vet all suggestions, and then pick some of them? No way! I'll just pass on all suggestions. And I'll have some of my own, like Ad Hoc, the Rochester chamber ensemble I blogged about, or Jade Simmons, or the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra (ROCO) in Houston, or… (more to come). Jade and … [Read more...]

Looking for mavericks

wieden lobby blog

This was the first in what turned out to be a long series of posts, in which I and many readers highlighted people, groups, and institutions making new departures in classical music, doing things in new ways. This wasn't even close to a complete list, but it was an exhilarating start, especially because this information simply isn't available. Classical music has been changing at an almost explosive pace, and yet most of the changes happen just below the radar, maybe talked about in the media here and there, but never catalogued, so there's … [Read more...]

Concerts as events

event blog

Conversation with a friend who works for a big orchestra. We're talking about attracting a new audience. He says they're identifying classically-inclined nonattenders. I say they ought to push beyond that, to attract non-classically inclined nonattenders. That's arguable, of course. Nobody would try to get people who don't now listen to country music to try it. But then country music doesn't need more listeners, as classical music does. Or more people buying tickets to concerts. And the world is full of smart people who are inclined toward … [Read more...]

A challenge!

austin blog

Austin, TX, bills itself as the "live music capital of the world." That's one thing I learned visiting there last week, to speak to students at the University of Texas School of Music. And — you saw this coming — classical music, including all the concerts given at the school, plays almost no part in Austin's live music scene. Everyone I talked to at the school said this. So there's a challenge for us. If we have a music school surrounded by what might really be the most active live music life anywhere, let's make the school part of … [Read more...]

Triple whammy

storm 2 blog

I'm sure this is something we all know about — the management/musician disputes that have hit one orchestra after another,  leading to seasons not starting on time, with no clear sense, in some cases, of when they ever might start. Tony Woodcock (president of New England Conservatory, and former CEO of the Minnesota Orchestra) in a blog post mentions Atlanta, Minnesota, Chicago, Indianapolis, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (where all concerts to the end of 2012 have been cancelled), and Jacksonville. To which we can add Spokane, where a … [Read more...]


literacy blog

Here's a question I was asked: Will technology raise the level of musical literacy? This came up in a panel discussion, during my visit last week to the University of Missouri. And as I considered the answer, something occurred to me. There's more than one kind of musical literacy. So this is what I said. In classical music, we of course think musical literacy means being able to read music. And, maybe also it means knowing about classical music — the composers, their works, the instruments, important periods in classical music … [Read more...]

A trip, and the new media trap

new media blog

I'll be at the University of Missouri this week, on Thursday and Friday, for a festival called Music and New Media at the Crossroads. Among other things, i'll be speaking on a public panel Thursday at 3 PM, about new media and the future of classical music, along with Matt Haimovitz, Tod Machover, my old friend Tim Page, and members of eighth blackbird, who, along with Matt, would count as newer friends. I'm looking forward to seeing all these people, along with the moderator, Robert Shay, dean of the U of Missouri school of music. Whom I know … [Read more...]

Four keys — be yourself

be yourself blog

Don't believe anyone who tells you not to be your own artistic self. That follows from the third of my four keys to the future, "Be yourself." I explained this in terms of pandering: Your urgency, your joy, and your passion will draw people to you. But you can't be joyful if you don't love the music that you perform. So never pander. Never struggle to be relevant. Perform music that makes your heart sing. Trust your new audience. Trust it to be smart, to be curious, and to respond with joy when it sees how joyful you are. And that's true. … [Read more...]