Rafa in the water

No Friday post today. I'm on vacation until Labor Day. My wonderful assistant will approve comments, so anything anyone says here will appear on the blog. But I won't be responding. I hope you all have a wonderful August. Restful, productive, whatever your hearts desire. And I'll leave you with a photo of my little boy doing a vacation thing — standing shin-deep in the water, close to knee-deep, holding one of his cars. Plus a playlist. Some of his favorite videos. You'll see what good taste he has! The Three Stooges, … [Read more...]

The Monday post

mcrophonies blog

Great fun. The Three Stooges sing opera, in a 17-minute 1945 short called Micro-Phonies. Or sort of sing opera. Or fake singing opera (hence the title). For those who aren't Three Stooges fans, the first half might be slow going. But the second half, in which the Stooges sing "the sextet from Lucy" at a rich snob's house party — that's priceless for anyone. And the sextet (abridged) works really well as a trio. Seriously! (Bel canto experts already know that one of the soloists in the piece, the mezzo singing Alisa, is really just … [Read more...]

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...]

From Marlissa Hudson: Going out on my own (2)


The story so far, in Marlissa's words: I realized I had to be a singer. I moved from my home in St. Louis to the Washington, DC area, to work with contacts I’d made when I was a graduate student at Peabody. And I made plans to create a big splash with my second album. All of that is in my first post.  And so, continuing: When I thought of my sophomore album project, I knew I wanted to do something vastly different than anything I’d heard or done previously. Something that would highlight my strongest attributes as an artist, and present … [Read more...]

From Marlissa Hudson: Going out on my own (1)

marlissa extra blog

[From Greg: [Just about a year ago, Marlissa Hudson emailed to say that she liked my blog, had ideas that synced with it, and wondered if we could meet. If I remember rightly, she'd put me on her mailing list (a good networking move), so I knew her name, and knew she was a soprano working in the Washington, DC area, where I live. And in any case I'm often contacted by people who read me, all kinds of people, by (for instance) the executive director of an orchestra in France, and by many music students. I always try to meet these people if I … [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...]

From Nicole Canham: Opening up what we do (2)


[Now we come to the changes Nicole Canham made, which drew such an explosion of new people when she was artistic director of the Canberra International Music Festival.] [In part one of her post, she told us why changes were needed. And why she also continued the festival's older programming, because, as she says: Something I’ve observed and find difficult to understand is why in our discourse there isn’t more tolerance for integrating both the best of traditional practice with a realistic understanding of contemporary culture. It has been my … [Read more...]

From Nicole Canham: Opening up what we do (1)


[From Greg: Nicole Canham — an Australian musician, festival director, creative producer, scholar, and innovator -- is, as you're about to see, someone who fits perfectly with what we're doing here. She herself was attracted to my work, and contacted me a few years ago when she was in New York. I later met her in Sydney, when I was visiting Australia to give a keynote speech at what was billed as a "Classical Music Summit," a conference that brought people from around the country together, to talk about where classical music should go.  [We … [Read more...]

The Monday post


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


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...]