Tchaikovsky had 14 entries in the Classic FM Hall of Fame, revealed on Monday. Mozart was the most popular composer, with 23 works in the Top 300.
We know that most ancient Greek poetry was meant to be sung; we know a lot about the instruments, the rhythms, and the music theory. A few examples of notated melody have survived the millennia. Oxford classicist Armand d’Angour has put all the evidence together. (includes video)
“Well, there are no microphones. … Once I’m out there, I have to depend on the acoustics of the room. I’m not going to give myself a bigger voice overnight; I’m not going to give myself more resonant power overnight. My head’s the size it is. … There’s something about a mic that does show everything – all the inconsistencies, all the vulnerabilities of the voice are heard with a microphone. Without it, you’re not. You can clear your throat; you can do things that aren’t actually heard out in the house.”
The story of “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” and its creators, Jay Gorney and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg.
“With an impressive resume that includes training as a singer and experience as a stage manager and production director, [Ian Derrer] previously worked with Dallas Opera, between 2014 and 2016, as artistic administrator. Since then, he has been general director of Kentucky Opera. … The company moved quickly to fill the position, vacated in January by Keith Cerny, its head for the previous 7½ years.”
Derek Bermel, artistic director of the American Composers Orchestra: “I’ve spoken to several artistic administrators and conductors who insist that their audiences aren’t asking for more of the new; their internal research shows that their audience wants to hear what they already know. When I hear that argument, I think, ‘Well, of course! Audiences haven’t experienced what they don’t know, so how could they possibly be clamoring for it?’ One of the responsibilities of curators is to introduce the public to work they didn’t know existed or to help bring it into being. Five years ago, how many regular music theater patrons were yearning to see a hip-hop musical? We all know that answer: very, very few. Today it’s impossible to get tickets for Hamilton. Some of that audience is coming from outside the typical music theater audience; all the better!”
It’s looking as if the scarcely-changed Dublin competition has now become the old fogey, and it’s a reconceived Leeds that’s pushing the envelope.
The February 2019 tour, with vocalist/bassist Esperanza Spalding as guest artist, has been called off because the U.S. Embassy in Havana, which has withdrawn 60% of its staff after many of them suffered mysterious health problems, is no longer able to process visa applications.
Just as the advent of the commercial recording industry (and, later, the evolution of analog recording formats, from wax cylinders to 78-r.p.m. disks and long-playing vinyl records) changed the way musicians write and produce songs, so, too, has streaming. With everything now cleaved from its original time and circumstance (and, it feels worth noting, its cultural and historical context), young songwriters can cull influence from all sorts of disparate sources and make work that feels, somehow, both new and ancient.
“The Elgin Symphony Orchestra’s season finale concerts were saved by ‘an outpouring of support’ from the community, which donated more than $140,000 since a public plea 10 days ago, orchestra officials said.”
“Much of the public conversation about important issues in the music business seems light in nutritional value, or narrowly focused on the concerns and actions of a handful of superstars. If you’re working in a genre or music subculture that isn’t based around mass-market assumptions, your concerns may be absent. We can all read dozens of hot-takes on the latest celebrity copyright kerfuffle, but how many of them examine whether a young composer whose work has been infringed has any meaningful recourse, if she can’t afford expensive legal representation?”
The vital signs of classical music all tend in the wrong direction, says Joseph Horowitz. The conductors fly in and leave. The musicianship is superior but dull. The composer is long dead, and, on stage and off, people know little about him anyway. The shrinking audience only wants to hear the most pedigreed and canonical of music. The orchestra is not a tastemaker; it’s a follower. Marketing and fund-raising efforts predominate. The financials drive everything, and everything is expensive: the musicians, the guest soloists, the fly-by conductors, the tickets. Horowitz complains a lot, and one of his bigger, more enveloping criticisms is what brings him to the humanities.
“In the 1960s, [Saul] Chandler was one of the most promising classical violin prodigies in New York. … But when Mr. Chandler turned 16, the pressures of producing excellence consumed him, and he had a nervous breakdown that derailed his career. He estranged himself from classical music and in an act of reinvention legally changed his name. He would lead a circuitous life that has since involved running a seedy hotel in Times Square, a successful career in mathematics and dramatic voyages at sea. Thirty years ago he started building boats on City Island, where he found peace on its waters.”
“There are violinists who talk about Strads, which are old, and Zygs, which are less old. The violinist Chad Hoopes, who used to play a Strad, now plays the other. The word ‘newer’ would have been tidier in that first sentence. But ‘less old’ seemed appropriate after Mr. Hoopes, who went from playing a Strad made in 1713 to playing a Zyg made in 1991, said that the Zyg is ‘not a new violin.’
‘It’s older than I am,’ he added, quickly.”
Today’s Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is in large measure Tovey’s creation, having brought in more than half the players and significantly raised performance standards, as anyone could testify who attended this year’s recently concluded Spring Festival.
They anointed themselves the “most accessible orchestra on the planet,” and have gone some ways toward justifying that superlative. Tickets are cheaper than at other orchestras; my press seat, on the left orchestra aisle, would have cost twenty-five dollars. Neighborhood concerts reach into underserved communities. Most strikingly, the Detroit offers free Webcasts of its concerts—an initiative that seems obvious but that few other orchestras have tried. Anne Parsons, the Detroit’s president and C.E.O., told me, “We’ve gone from three thousand viewers on average to around seventy-five hundred—in one case, thirty-five thousand. It’s brought great young musicians to us—they can see what we’re doing. I was sure that, by now, everyone else would be doing it. I’ve stopped wondering and haven’t looked back.”
“That night, it didn’t take long for some rather prominent coughing to break out, before the crowd let loose with less subtle forms of protest: boos and catcalls, the agitation growing over the course of the piece’s 15-plus minutes. At one point, an older woman approached the stage, took off a shoe, and banged it on the stage, imploring the ensemble—which included Reich and Tilson Thomas—to stop. Someone else sprinted down an aisle, yelling, “All right! I confess!” Other aggrieved patrons simply left.”
By analyzing the kinds of songs and artists that had the most success on the Hot-100, we can see that in 9 short years, there have been major changes in music.
Verdi set the opera, entitled Die Macht des Schicksas, to a German-language libretto by Bläuel Wittling, a poet who ran a women-only writers commune on the banks of the Spree river north of Berlin. Verdi seems to have composed this music around 1882, making it an important missing link is his late career: He wrote Aïda (1871) and the Requiem (1874), but then it was thought he turned away from composing until Arrigo Boito inspired him to write Otello (1887) and Falstaff (1893). [Note the date of the story before believing]
The High Court’s ruling on musicians needing protection from noise that can cause hearing loss at work may change a few things around the orchestra. “‘It effectively says an orchestral workspace is no different from a factory,’ said Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras.” (And in noise terms, that may be true.)
Want to know how the merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster affected the entire music industry, from management to tours to sponsorship and owning venues? The NYT explains, and explains the fees (as far as they’re explicable) as well. “At many concerts Live Nation is not just the ticket seller, but also the promoter, the venue operator or even the artist’s manager, with an opportunity to collect at every juncture.”
The firm Band Management Union charged artists up to £4,000 for services, did nothing for the artists – and has now closed its website and email addresses and canceled its phones. One artist who spoke out about BMU a couple of years ago said that “she received abusive messages attacking her looks and mental health, and received a number of targeted negative reviews after complaining about the company online.”
To determine the results of the study, test subjects participated in “psychometric testing and heart rate tests” as they did activities that were positive for their health including attending concerts, doing yoga and dog-walking. Results showed that people who attended gigs had an increase of 25 percent in feelings of self worth and closeness to others and a 75 percent increase in mental stimulation. While the study found that Brits preferred going to concerts instead of listening to music at home, music in general has been found to increase happiness.
In a backstage interview with Coltrane during intermission at the Stockholm concert, a local jazz DJ noted that some critics were finding his new sound “unbeautiful” and “angry,” then asked, “Do you feel angry?” Coltrane replied, in a gentle, deliberative tone, “No, I don’t,” adding, “The reason I play so many sounds, maybe it sounds angry, it’s because I’m trying so many things at one time, you see? I haven’t sorted them out. I have a whole bag of things that I’m trying to work through and get the one essential.”
“Diversity isn’t enough. The end game is not just having more black or brown people on stage, though that certainly has an impact. That is meaningful, but on its own it won’t change the direction and priorities of organizations, because musicians are seen as the hands of the organization and others are seen as the brains. We should have a structure that supports a workforce of artists.”
Philadelphia Voices is the eighth in a series of “crowd-sourced symphonies” – symphonic scores incorporating sounds recorded on the streets and submitted by residents – Machover has done for various cities from Detroit to Toronto to Perth. David Patrick Stearns met with the composer, both in Philadelphia and at his high-tech Boston-area studio, to talk about how Machover put together the piece, which will combine the sounds of the Philadelphia Orchestra and several choirs with such found sounds as Mummers at the New Year’s Day parade, birds at the Philadelphia Zoo, and (yes) sizzling cheesesteaks on the grill at Pat’s King of Steaks in South Philly.
This may not be the first time someone has said that the Met’s audience is a bunch of babies, but it’ll be the first time that it’s literally true. “The company will present 10 free performances of BambinO, an opera for babies between 6 months old and 18 months old, from April 30 to May 5 in the opera house’s smaller auditorium, List Hall … The 40-minute opera – scored for two singers and two musicians – will be performed for a small audience of babies and caregivers.” (includes video)
“It effectively says an orchestral workspace is no different from a factory,” said Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras. “What it says is that musicians will need to be wearing their hearing protection at all times.”
I order the set on Amazon, used, for over 100 euros. It comes with a pile of CDs and a “Handbook,” basically a thick CD booklet. One morning, I make myself comfortable next to my electronic keyboard and pop Masterclass 1 into the player. The masterclass begins by talking up the value of perfect pitch. Without it, “something is lacking,” the voice tells me. He says that listening to music without perfect pitch is like watching a movie on a black-and-white TV.
Much of what the orchestra does is, in fact, innovative. The orchestra is well on its way to having one of the youngest audiences in the U.S., if not the world. The orchestra’s adventurous opera productions consistently surpass those of full-time opera companies in terms of production and sheer music-making. Student subscriptions, generously subsidized by philanthropy, are more affordable than those for many other orchestras. And the orchestra maintains residencies at some of the world’s most revered halls, including the Musikverein in Vienna and Lincoln Center in New York. Yet the orchestra’s commitment to innovation stops, frustratingly and inexplicably, with its choice of repertoire.