I commend to your attention Steve Smith's NY Times piece on the Free Speech Zone composers' collective. As it happens, David T. Little's compelling Soldier Songs project was recently featured in a festival-competition at Opera Vista in Houston.... Cameron Carpenter is a madly original organist whose programs careen across centuries of musical history and sashay deep into popular culture. Tomorrow night, as part of Trinity Church's Virtual Pipes festival, he will present a holiday concert ranging from Chopin's "Revolutionary" Etude and Franck's Pièce héroïque to Duke Ellington's "Solitude," Michel Legrand's "The Windmills of Your Mind," and a grand improvisation on songs by Bob Dylan ("Mr. Tambourine Man"), Cyndi Lauper ("True Colors"), and Paul McCartney ("Yesterday"). I heard Carpenter play last summer and was struck not only by his virtuosity but also by his gifts as an improviser and composer; he's a force of nature. He will be performing on Trinity's high-tech digital organ. Here's a video of his arrangement of John Williams's Raiders of the Lost Ark title theme.... When people aren't talking about the crisis facing orchestras, they're talking about the crisis facing chamber music. Be that as it may, the LakeMusic Festival, in New York's Finger Lakes region, is apparently having considerable success reaching out to new audiences: they've organized family concerts, mixed new music with traditional repertory and down-home fiddling, and forged connections with local culture. Ed Klorman, the twentysomething c0-founder of the festival, writes: "Now entering our third season, we are expecting an audience of 1500; a recent survey suggests that approximately 90% of our audience had attended two or fewer classical music events in their lifetime, prior to the establishment of the festival."