Crazy joy

joy blog

Here’s another followup to my post on musical joy. Inspired by a speaker at the College Music Society northeast regional conference, I’d realized that we don’t talk enough about joy in music. True joy, the kind you can’t mistake for anything else when you feel it. (I’m sure we don’t make room enough for joy in most of what we do, but I’ll stick to music here.) So I realized that many of us might not make room enough for joy when, God help us, we judge some music that we’ve heard. Judgment is such a tricky thing, so limited. The Rolling … [Read more...]

More joy

joy 2 blog

A quick followup from yesterday’s post, about joy in music. I talked about Ronald Sherwin, from U Mass, who’d spoken at the northeast regional conference of the College Music Society, about pure joy in music. That inspired me to imagine Juilliard, where I teach — or other music schools — starting each academic year with a celebration of musical joy. A radical change! Then today, just turning this over in my mind, I had a further thought. Why limit joy to schools? When I was artist in residence a few years ago at the University of … [Read more...]

Lead with your love

loving musi blog

This past weekend I gave a keynote talk at the Northeast regional conference of the College Music Society. The people in CMS are academics, people who teach music at colleges and universities. And conservatories, too. And their subject, at this conference, was sustainability. Can these music departments survive, if what they teach is — as of course is the case — largely classical music? I called my talk “The Road to Survival,” and you can hear it here. I recorded it on my iPhone. Reasonable quality. But I don’t want to say much about … [Read more...]

Composers in a bubble

scout blog

There are many kinds of music in the world, outside of classical music. Of course there’s jazz. And Broadway show tunes, and world music, and pop music in all its endless variety. Plus film and TV scores, and music for videogames. But there’s also music created for specialized use: Background scores for TV commercials. Music, sometimes quite elaborate, created for events like the Olympics or the Super Bowl. Musical logos for TV news shows. The little chord you hear when you start your Mac (or the “Windows sound” I remember from … [Read more...]

Saying more than I did in the Washington Post

always try blog

Just a word about why my wife Anne Midgette and I ended up with side by side reviews in the Washington Post this morning, even though I’m not a writer there. (She, of course, is the Post’s chief classical music critic.) This isn’t the start of anything regular for me. I just filled in to solve a problem. Because of disruptive snow last week in Washington, the National Symphony’s schedule changed, and neither Anne nor any of her regular freelancers was available to review a reschedued concert. I offered to step in, if the Post approved. And … [Read more...]

Out in the world

androe blog

Me out in the world, that is, showing up in a couple of places. First, a podcast from WQXR, the classical music public radio station in New York. On which I talk with host Naomi Lewin about the National Symphony’s triumphant performance for 2000 people in a dance club. The podcast starts with Sunil Iyengar, the National Endowment for the Arts’ director of Research and Analysis, who talks in the most relaxed and engaging way about an important study his agency did, about barriers to attending arts events. I come later. If you want to hear … [Read more...]

Hot competition

savvy musician blog

March 15. That’s the deadline for something new and different: the Savvy Musician in ACTION Chamber Music Competition. It’s different because, as its website says, it’s for “ensembles that feature artistic excellence and innovative event design.” Or, to put it another way, entrepreneurial ensembles, entrepreneurial both in art and in how they do business. And it’s different, too, because it’s joined at the hip with the Savvy Musician in Action arts entrepreneurship summer workshop, which happens from June 3 to June 7 at the University … [Read more...]

From Cariwyl Hebert: Reaching the 97 percent


From Greg: We think so much about how to reach a new audience. And by now it's clear that there are many ways to do that. One of them is by giving house parties. People new to classical music come, like what they hear, and they're hooked.  Groupmuse, in Boston, is well-known for taking that road. But they're not alone. And they have a particular house-party approach. They host live performances, which makes them almost a blend of house parties and Classical Revolution, a confederation of groups that, in cities around the U.S. (and also … [Read more...]

Boldface names

boldface blog

So now about some names. Names, that is, of people who get talked about as, just possibly, the next New York Philharmonic music director. This is the third post in my series about Alan Gilbert and what kind of figure his successor should be. The first was about Alan, and in general about what the Philharmonic might need. The second was about some dreams (wild ones, if you like), about the next music director as an exciting public figure in New York. And now the third post. Boldface names. Note that I’m making a choice of my own, or trying to … [Read more...]

Dreams of the Philharmonic future

fashion week blog

What the New York Philharmonic needs in a music director…I laid this out in my last post, though maybe without fully focusing on it. The Philharmonic needs someone dynamic, someone who can be the face of an orchestra that comes alive for as much of New York as possible. And since NYC — my home town! — is a very particular place, one with a highly developed sense of itself, this music director needs to be seen as a New Yorker, whether born or made. Leonard Bernstein, even if he came from Boston, is the obvious example, since he was (to use … [Read more...]

Heft and excitement

new york excite blog

About Alan Gilbert leaving the New York Philharmonic: Rightly or wrongly, he wasn’t perceived — at the very least by influential people in the orchestra field, and (from what I’ve heard) by many of the Philharmonic musicians — as someone with heft enough to be music director of such a big orchestra. Here’s an insider’s word about that. A few years ago, before the Philharmonic hired Matthew VanBesien to succeed Zarin Mehta as the orchestra’s CEO, I talked to someone who runs another major US orchestra. Hiring Zarin’s succeessor, this person … [Read more...]

Useful questions (2)

other people 3 blog

As I said in my last post, I ask the students in my Juilliard course on the future of classical music special questions online. I do this to supplement what we do in class, and — in this very complex discussion — to touch on things we might not otherwise get to. In my last post, I quoted the first question I asked, about what classical music will be like in 20 years. The question after that was more personal. It was cued to what we talked about in class this week (follow the link and scroll down to February 4). Which was how classical music … [Read more...]

Useful questions (1)

Each week, in my Juilliard course on the future of classical music, I email a question to my students. Something to get them thinking, something to take us a little beyond what we talked about in class. Or to go deeper into it. The question I asked two weeks ago was simple, but very basic. It could even have been a way to start the course. And, for everyone reading this — I’d love to know your own answers! Here’s the question: Imagine the classical music world 10 or 20 years from now. What do you think it will be like? How will it be … [Read more...]

Orchestras, engage your audience!

musicians moving blog

So last week I did a post I called “Excited audience,” about how the crowd at the National Symphony’s recent club performance shouted in excitement at some exciting music. The music happened to be mixed classical and pop, based on Bach, but with a beat. But the passage that made the audience shout happened to be pure Bach. This led me to ask if we could ever get the normal classical audience reacting like this, in the concert hall. Well, there are many reasons why that’s not happening tomorrow. The main one would be the airless blankness … [Read more...]

Let’s help this happen

SXSW blog

The Go-Go Symphony — which plays some of the most exciting music in Washington, DC, a perfect fusion of classical music and funk — is in line for a great honor, and a great opportunity. I’ve blogged about their first triumphant performance with a full symphonic ensemble, and their founder, Liza Figueroa Kravinsky, has done guest posts about how she developed the group. (She talks here, for instance, about the group’s big breakthrough into the heart of the go-go world, go-go being DC’s iconic funk style, dating back to the ‘70s, and still going … [Read more...]