Time magazine spoke to Johan and Yuga Cohler, creators of Yeethoven and Yeethoven II, “about their process of piecing together the perfect orchestral mash-up, how a ‘risky project’ like this one can help popularize classical music and why Kanye makes a great case study as an artist with unexpectedly broad appeal.”
Reporter Joshua Barone meets Rithy Panh and Kim Sophy, the director and composer of Bangsokol: A Requiem for Cambodia, which uses both Western and Cambodian instruments as well as traditional smot singing in a memorial for the two million people – and the huge parts of Cambodian culture – wiped out by Pol Pot’s dictatorship in the late 1970s.
“Working toward greater diversity in new music is necessary and right. The problem is that we’re putting the cart before the horse. Greater inclusivity isn’t an audience-building strategy—it’s an audience-building outcome. Making inclusivity the focus of strategy actually hurts our efforts. All we do is muddle classical music exceptionalism with easily disproven assumptions about musical taste, in the process blinkering ourselves to certain truths about how people use music in pretty much any other context.”
The list of remarkable performances and recordings will give you some idea of the musical creativity out there.
Youtube, fueled by their parent company’s artificial intelligence division, Google Brain, has successfully accelerated their recommendation capabilities through a series of micro-improvements. For example, roughly four years ago, YouTube made its first significant improvement to its recommendation algorithm when it decided to value the number of times users spent watching a video more than the number of video clicks per person. With this one move, creator’s saw their view counts decline, who had originally profited from misleading headlines and thumbnails. All of a sudden, higher quality videos which were directly correlated with long watch times came to the forefront. As a result, watch time on YouTube grew 50% year over year over the next three years.
“It was a bit like going ice skating at Rockefeller Center, only to discover that Michelle Kwan was also there, breezing through axels and lutzes.” A reporter follows Susan Graham, Paul Groves, Jamie Barton, Barry Banks, and other singers currently at the Met as they let loose at a karaoke bar. “Bohemian Rhapsody”? Piece of cake.
The National Museum of Gospel Music, with a planned opening in 2020, “[will be] on the site once occupied by Pilgrim Baptist Church, known as the birthplace of gospel.”
Some schemers are essentially laundering their bitcoins through song purchases on Apple-owned media store iTunes. Although it’s unlikely to be widespread, the approach results in a legitimate payment from Apple—meaning fraudsters are then largely free to use their ill-gotten gains however they see fit.
Since the Met first announced the new “Tosca” 10 months ago, the David McVicar production has lost its star tenor, Jonas Kaufmann; the soprano singing the title role, Kristine Opolais; its conductor, Andris Nelsons, who is married to Ms. Opolais; and his replacement, James Levine, who was suspended this month after being accused of sexual misconduct. Now the last remaining star of the originally-announced cast has withdrawn.
“Classical music institutions like the Met don’t have to dig very deep in order to understand where things went wrong. Through decades of research, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center – which rose out of the feminist rape crisis movement of the 1970s – has identified five problematic norms that contribute to an environment in which sexual violence takes place. As a workplace and as an art form, classical music is at risk in four of them.”
Some 32 years after that first batch of inductees, with most, if not all, of the genre’s most influential practitioners voted in, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is facing its own midlife crisis. Just as rock originally was a hybrid of pop, blues, jazz, swing, country, R&B, gospel and folk, the music spawned a vast multitude of sub-categories in the half-century since its birth.
“The rapidly raised $50 million was a coup for Deborah Borda, who has only been the orchestra’s president and chief executive officer for a few months but is already putting her stamp on the organization. Ms. Borda has pushed the Philharmonic to rethink the costly and disruptive plans to rebuild its Lincoln Center home, hired a new executive team, and turned her attention to the shaky finances of the orchestra, which has run deficits for most of the current century.”
In a new, small-scale study, a Wesleyan University research team led by Psyche Loui and Emily Przysinda report the brains of jazz musicians are uniquely attuned to surprising sounds. Electronic monitoring revealed these players have “markedly different neural sensitivity to unexpected musical stimuli,” the researchers write. These musicians are trained not only to anticipate unpredictable turns, but also to engage with them in a positive, creative way. That dynamic reflex stimulates creative thinking.
Music is a product of a particular time and place and the context in which it is created can be dark, violent, exploitative, and even demonic. To think seriously about music it is necessary to reckon with the problematic role it can play in culture.
“We are colleagues from different areas of the Penn State campus: One of us is a professor of meteorology, and the other a professor of music technology. Since 2014, we have been working together to sonify the dynamics of tropical storms. In other words, we turn environmental data into music. By sonifying satellite videos like those often seen in weather reports, we hope that people will better understand how these extreme storms evolve.” (includes video)
With his bullish idealism, Daniel Barenboim is putting a stamp on the State Opera and its satellite organizations that increasingly defines a large segment of Berlin’s cultural identity in his own image.
“The cult of the maestro has thrived precisely because of the uniquely difficult demands of the music: great power and privilege is sycophantically bestowed on those perceived to be geniuses, and behaviour that would be unacceptable in other contexts may be excused or swept under the carpet; different moral standards can be applied to them by virtue of their artistic brilliance.”
“A lot of old fellas are buying reissues of the records they had in their youth before replacing them with CDs, which they’re now getting rid of so they can buy the vinyl again. We’re talking Led Zep, Pink Floyd, etc – the usual suspects. But the main problem is an inability to plan releases properly. To promote a record you need to have a release date and a certain amount of time before that date to promote it. If you don’t know when your stock will arrive, it’s hard to set a release date … and if the record sells out fast, you need a re-press now, not several months later.”
That’s because, law enforcement noted, “the man accusing Mr. Levine of sexual abuse there three decades ago had been 16 at the time — which was then the age of consent.”
Why? Well: “The deal gives Spotify exposure to the Chinese music consumer market, as the country is not one of the 61 regions it currently operates in. The company is widely expected to list its shares on the stock market next year.”
“To understand the danger Spotify poses to the music industry—and to music itself—you first have to dig beneath the “user experience” and examine its algorithmic schemes. Spotify’s front page “Browse” screen presents a classic illusion of choice, a stream of genre and mood playlists, charts, new releases, and now podcasts and video. It all appears limitless, a function of the platform’s infinite supply, but in reality it is tightly controlled by Spotify’s staff and dictated by the interests of major labels, brands, and other cash-rich businesses who have gamed the system.”
When David Patrick Stearns first heard Jacqueline du Pre’s 1970 recording of the Dvořák Cello Concerto, he thought she “sounded like a freedom fighter.” Turns out he was right: she had played the work in a protest concert shortly after the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Stearns looks at other examples, from Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting Tchaikovsky just after Kristallnacht to Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Shostakovich in the Soviet Union to Bernstein performing Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony after JFK’s assassination to, perhaps, James Levine leading Verdi’s Requiem last week.
“New regulations on the international movement of rosewood have hit hard in parts of the music industry, which has long relied on rosewood as a ‘tonewood’ used in many kinds of instruments, including guitars, cellos and clarinets. The reason for the [customs] crackdown, and for Katz’s anxiety? China. Specifically, Chinese consumers’ growing demand for rosewood or ‘hongmu’ furniture.”
Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston: “For example, no private meetings or rehearsals where a maestro is alone with a musician should be permitted; performance notes and discussions can and should always be given quietly in front of others. If it is suspected that a maestro has designs on an individual beyond the purely professional, a chaperone should be insisted on, especially during festivals and on tours.”
“Revenue from ticket sales was down, while production costs continued to rise. Subscription and tickets were down slightly by 1.6% from $8.6M in 2016 to 8.5M in 2017. Production costs increased by 6.4 % from $18.3 M to $19.6 M. The steep cost of touring to Israel set the TSO back over $1.9 M this year, which we can only speculate must have been a point of contention in the board, which last year saw half of its members abruptly resign.”
The Fundação Osesp, the organization that operates the orchestra, has announced that Alsop will become Honorary Conductor as of 2020 and that a fellowship for young conductors will be established in her honor. While the announcement was full of praise for Alsop’s achievements with the orchestra (notably a much higher international profile), the assumption seems to be that her contract was not renewed. (in Portuguese; for Google Translate version, click here.)
“Qwest will operate like a highly specialized version of Netflix: Members pay a small fee each month for access to the full video library. It also resembles more boutique streaming platforms like Mubi, the art-film streaming service, or Boiler Room, an organization that archives its own underground-music concerts on its website.”
Executive director Andre Gremillet said three factors contributed to the shortfall: a decline of $383,000 in Annual Fund giving, a drop of $551,000 in “special” fundraising and, most significantly, a loss of major gifts in support of the orchestra’s Miami residency. Earlier this year, the orchestra reduced its presence in South Florida from four weekends to two.
“I feel heartache for the men, who say they were taken advantage of by someone they looked up to, someone in a position of intimidating authority. But how do Mr. Levine’s countless fans, and I as a critic, reconcile his legacy with what he’s been accused of? Is his work tainted beyond our ability to appreciate the artistry involved?” (The answer: not entirely.)
“The survey, commissioned by [radio station] Classic FM, … explored reasons why people did not attend opera shows as well as general public opinion on the art form. …One in ten of the participants who had attended an opera performance in the past claimed that they ‘felt nervous, self-conscious and like they didn’t fit in’.”