fine blog

Here’s a question I asked myself, at one of the recent Irving Fine memorial concerts at the Library of Congress in DC. Fine, I’ll say in passing, is one of those entirely respectable but not memorable composers whom — in a festival or retrospective — we all more or less pretend was more important than he was. But I don’t want to go into that here. Instead I want to ask the larger question that occured to me. Fine began as a neoclassicist, and then, in the 1950s, started writing 12-tone music. Why? Other American neoclassicists did the same. … [Read more...]

Another hot book

roseliep blog

WARNING: THIS BOOK CONTAINS STRONG LANGUAGE ABOUT CLASSICAL MUSIC. *** Srini Kumar, genius sloganeer and counterculturalist, used to sell a bumper sticker that read “Destroy what bores you on sight.” I suggest orchestras heed this advice. Why belabor it? Players are uncomfortable. Audiences are visually bored. Nobody knows what's going on. Can we all agree to move on? Okay. Enough. The first quote comes from the Amazon page for a book by Will Roseliep, The Libertine's Guide to the Classical Music Revolution. 3.99, only for Kindle. It’s also … [Read more...]

Useful, fun, important book

sarah book blog

Clubbing for Classical Musicians: A Do-It-Yourself Guide to Working in Alternative Venues, by Sarah Robinson, the codirector of Classical Revolution: L.A. Since she co-runs an organization that fosters playing in clubs and is a veteran club player herself, her book is beyond authoritative. And in fact you couldn’t find a more helpful guide, to something that more and more classical musicians are doing these days. It’s so helpful, in fact — and so thorough — that I’d reccommend it to any performing classical musician, even people who don’t … [Read more...]

The soul of a city

berlin techno blog

Picking up now from one detail in my last post, about some Atlanta Symphony realities… When people say the Symphony is the soul of Atlanta, what do they mean? They can't be saying that any large part of the town dances to the Symphony's beat. Or that entire neighborhoods define themselves by what the Symphony plays. Or that whenever there's a performance, thousands of people — tens of thousands! — ask themselves if tonight they ought to go. Because those things clearly aren't happening. But the Symphony’s supporters, I might guess, don't … [Read more...]

A little rain…

rain blog

…falls into every life. Today, with regret, I’m going to rain a little on the Atlanta Symphony. Of course I’m celebrating their return to life, especially for the musicians’ sake. They’re once more doing what they love, getting paid, and (no small thing) getting healthcare. But along with that, here are three things to think about: The contract Crucial to the settlement was an increase in the number of fulltime musicians (receiving full pay and benefits). Once the Atlanta Symphony had 95 fulltime members. That number fell, once the bad … [Read more...]

Joining the world in Spain

Definitely  not the Kennedy Center! The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, one of my new arts model examples

Here’s a link to the talk I gave in Spain a couple of weeks ago, at an arts marketing conference that was both focused and fun. I mentioned the talk in my last post, about why I think the arts — as an industry that claims to represent art — are basically over. I didn’t put it that way in Madrid, instead talking about “old-model” vs. “new-model” arts, the old model being, well, the Kennedy Center in Washington, built on a grand scale, and deliberately placed off to the side of the city, to make sure it doesn’t come to close to everyday … [Read more...]

Time to join the rest of the world

the wire

That — "Time to join the rest of the world" — is what I called a keynote talk I gave last week, at an arts marketing conference in Spain. And what I had in mind was radical — I think — at least to some people. Maybe not to my Spanish audience (plus some people from the UK, and from Latin America). While I spoke, a few people tweeted — and OK, I’m really tickled — that if I had a fan club, they’d join it. What I said What was my message? That art — the artistic impulse, artistic creation — thrives in our world as never before. But that much … [Read more...]

It can be done (2)

boac marathon

Continuing, about groups that successfully attracted a new, young audience… In my first post on this, I told two success stories. About the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, in London, which rebranded itself in the style of current culture, and now reliably attracts young audiences of up to 1000 people. And about Wordless Music, in its early years in New York, which combined classical music with indie rock, or in one case with a big indie rock name, Jonny Greenwood, the guitarist in Radiohead. And reliably drew large young audiences, … [Read more...]

With just three days to go…

gabe p blog

This is an important Kickstarter project, which needs to be funding. Luckily, they're close to their goal. But every little bit helps! It's a British project, and I haven't looked into  whether it can accept funding in dollars, but even if not, it's something important to know about it. What is it? I'm going to give you the complete email I received from Gabriel Prokofiev, the British composer, producer of electronic dance music, and creator of both the Nonclassical record label and the London club nights bearing the same name. He's an … [Read more...]

It can be done

OAE blog

Continuing now with my suggestion — or is it a crusade? — that we in classical music start moving heaven and earth to find an excited, new, younger audience…to prioritize that…and to give education, outreach, and advocacy a lower priority… I suggested last week that we don't do this because it seems impossible, and because if it could be done, we'd have to dumb classical music down. Or otherwise make changes that many of us wouldn't welcome. So it's important now to say that it has been done, that we have proof of concept, that there are … [Read more...]

Why we don’t do it

older audience blog

Continuing from two posts ago, when I said it was more important — by far — to develop a new, excited young audience than to focus on education and outreach… It's time now to say why I think most people in our field don't seem to think this way. First, and most simply, I think that most of us can't imagine that new young audience ever existing. In part that's because we're so used to the old audience, made up of people my age (I'm 71). And in part it's because we can plainly see that younger people don't go, and mostly don't want to go, to … [Read more...]

Even if…

secretive blog

I have to thank my friend Eric Edberg for some pushback in the comme#nts. Pushback to my last post, in which I quoted Deborah Rutter — the new head of the Kennedy Center, who used to run the Chicago Symphony — about how she felt orchestras could improve their standing in their community, and objected that her suggestions really only touched on minor points. The key to classical music's future, I said, isn't outreach, education, or advocacy. Instead we need an explosive new audience. Then everything turns around. And I said my next post would … [Read more...]

What we should do

excited audience 3 blog

Here’s something I feel passionate about. When I think about the future of classical music — about how it can, should, and will be restored to the place of honor it used to have in our culture — there’s only one measure of success that, in the end, seems to matter. And that’s full houses. If big and small orchestras, opera companies of all sizes, chamber music groups, soloists, early music groups, choruses, everyone who performs classical music were overrun with people buying tickets, and if these people were a new, younger audience…well, … [Read more...]

Speaking of Music

ear blog

That's the title of the course I'm teaching at Juilliard this semester — a graduate course in how to speak and write about music. It began life years ago as a course on music criticism, but that seems to be a subject that engages students less and less. Speaking and writing about music, on the other hand — that the students think is greatly important. We had the first class in the course on Wednesday, and all but one of the students there said they were interested in the course because they'll have to reach out to people, and get them … [Read more...]

Things I’m thinking about…

rafa me england better

Hope you all had a restful, productive summer! I got back from vacation just over a week ago. Many trips, to see family, then a retreat for two weeks in a very remote and peaceful spot in England. A lot of traveling not just for us, but of course for Rafa, who’s about to turn three, but he’s a trooper. Pulls his little wheelie suitcase after him in airports, like a seasoned flyer. Plus, once in England, he walked three miles into town with us. And walked back. Well, got carried in a backpack, sometimes sleeping, for part of it. But he did … [Read more...]