Thanks to the footage above, we can now hear what Yo-Yo and company actually played during their 4'33"-long performance at the inauguration. (A "satirical hypothetical document," via Kyle Gann.) Elsewhere on YouTube: the Ophicleide Summit.... John Adams critiques young composers in an interview with Newsweek's Seth Colter Walls; Judd Greenstein responds.... The long-awaited Blog of Sedge. Also joining the fray is Matthew Gurewitsch.... Tony Tommasini of the New York Times answers readers' questions.... The violist Nadia Sirota and the vocalist Helga Davis are giving a new spin to the overnight show on WNYC. A recent program led with Britten's A Hymn to the Virgin, Cowell's Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 10, Cage's Hymns and Variations, and Ingram Marshall's bewitching Hymnodic Delays. That's radio we can believe in.
February 11, 2009 | Permalink
A bout of work and travel derailed my plans to write a preview post for Georg Friedrich Haas's in vain, a darkly radiant modern masterpiece that was given its U.S. premiere by the Argento Chamber Ensemble at Miller Theatre last night. A second performance follows on Monday at the Austrian Embassy in Washington, DC. Washingtonians should also be aware that György and Márta Kurtág will present a Kurtág world premiere at the Library of Congress tonight. Both concerts are free.
Sylvain Cambreling / Klangforum Wien; Kairos 1233.
February 07, 2009 | Permalink
The eighty-fourth-anniversary issue of The New Yorker is now on the stands. Every so often I ask regular readers of this site to consider subscribing to the magazine. Nothing I do would be possible without it, and there are far more compelling reasons to give it your support. With the Digital Reader, The New Yorker is now instantly accessible anywhere in the world.
Jonathan Biss was one of a number of musicians who turned out to hear György and Márta Kurtág perform at Zankel Hall on Sunday night. Also in the crowd were Richard Goode, Leif Ove Andsnes, Christian Tetzlaff, and Ursula Oppens. Biss offers "fugitive thoughts" on his website. I wrote about a Vienna version of this stupendous program in 2006.
Sonatina from Bach's Cantata BWV 106, "Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit," arr. György Kurtág; G. and M. Kurtág, upright piano; BMC CD 123.
February 02, 2009 | Permalink
The American Music Center has released a fascinating survey of the American composer population. You can read a summary as well as the entire report at NewMusicBox. Some patterns that emerge: 1) Composers don't make a mint from their work. They have a median total income of $45,000, and, on average, they derive 19% of that amount from composition. Yet they spend twenty-seven hours a week on composing-related activities. Eighty-five respondents — 6.4% of the total — make a living entirely from writing music. That figure is actually higher than I might have guessed. 2) Composers — at least those responding to this survey — are predominantly white and male: 85% and 79% respectively. But those figures will drop as new generations rise. 3) Composers are dabbling energetically in new technologies. Forty-three percent are on MySpace, 39% percent are on Facebook, and 63% either "do not mind" or "like the exposure" when people download their music for free.
February 02, 2009 | Permalink
In January 2009 I decided to see how many concerts I could see in New York for under $100. This column was the result. As a follow-up, here is a guide to cheap seats at classical institutions around the world. (Prepared with assistance from Will Robin.)
Discounts, cheap seats, student prices:
Carnegie Hall: If you're in the 20-40 age range, for $20 you can get a year-long membership in Carnegie's Notables program, providing access to $20 tickets.
Juilliard sends out students to give free lunchtime concerts at 180 Maiden Lane downtown on most Tuesdays. Numerous free or cheap events are listed in the Juilliard calendar.
Frick Collection: All concerts $30/$25
Le Poisson Rouge: Most shows $10-20
Issue Project Room: Most shows $10/$8
New Amsterdam: Many cheap new-music events in calendar
92nd Street Y: Student10 tickets available for $10 and Under-35 tickets for $25
Peoples' Symphony Concerts: Most single tickets $13
Bargemusic: $15-20 student tickets
Symphony Space: $15-25 student and senior tickets
Orchestra of St. Luke's: $10 student rush
New York Youth Symphony: $20 tickets, $10 if you show a student ID at the box office
Church-music listings via the New York Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
New Music listings at SoundArt
MOMA Summergarden (free)
Boston Lyric Opera: 50% off student tickets
Boston Philharmonic: $8 student and senior rush tickets
New England Conservatory: Free student performances
Celebrity Series: $20 rush tickets
Collage New Music: $15 single tickets, students free
Northeast summer festivals:
Caramoor: $15 tickets available for most concerts
Glimmerglass: 50% off student discount, $10 tickets for youths aged 6-18
Tanglewood: Lawn tickets from $17 (lawn free for children under 18)
Bard SummerScape: $5 student rush tickets
Norfolk has $15 tickets available for most concerts and a number of free performances
D.C. / Baltimore:
Chicago Lyric Opera: $20 student tickets available by signing up
Chicago Opera Theater: $15 student tickets available by signing up
Chicago Symphony Orchestra: $10 student tickets
Chicago Opera Vanguard: $40-50 subscriptions, $30 for students
UChicago Presents: $5 or $10 student tickets
Grant Park: Free performances in the summer
Pick Staiger: Tickets under $10 for general public, $5 for students; sometimes free
Detroit / Ann Arbor:
The University Musical Society in Ann Arbor offers $10 rush tickets and other discounts.
The Detroit Symphony has a $25 student pass, giving unlimited access to all classical, pops, and jazz concerts each season.
$25 student season pass at the Kansas City Symphony, $10 rush tickets.
Dallas Opera: $25 student tickets
Houston Symphony: $12 and 50% off student tickets
Houston Grand Opera: $12.50 NEXUS program
Texas Performing Arts in Austin: $10 student tickets
Fort Worth Opera: 50% off for students and military
LA Opera: student rush tickets available, prices not given
UCLA Live: $15 student tickets
LA Chamber Orchestra: $10 student rush
Pacific Symphony: $10 student tickets
La Jolla Music Society: $10 rush student tickets
La Jolla Symphony: $15 student tickets
San Diego Symphony: $10 last-minute tickets
Orchestra Nova San Diego: $10 tickets for students and educators, free tickets for active military and family
Northern California (with thanks to Lisa Hirsch):
SF Symphony: $20 rush tickets
SF Opera: $25 student and senior rush tickets and other discounts
Cal Performances, Berkeley: 50% for students, other discounts
Old First Concerts: $15 general admission, $12 for students and seniors
Seattle Opera: $20 student rush tickets, $5 teen tickets, various other discounts
Portland Opera: $10 rush tickets for students, seniors, military
Other American orchestras:
Cleveland: $10 student tickets
Nashville: $10 college-student tickets
Atlanta: $12 student tickets
Cincinnati: Various discounts, including $12 tickets for people aged 18-30
Phoenix: Various discounts, including a $30 season pass
Utah Symphony / Opera: Student tickets from $10
St. Paul Chamber Orchestra: $10 tickets for age 20-39; $10 student rush; $3 off senior discount
Other American opera companies:
Kansas City Opera: $15 student tickets
Cincinnati Opera: $12 student rush
Toronto Symphony: Their innovative tsoundcheck program offers $14 tickets to people aged 15-15, whether they are students or not.
Scottish Opera: £10 tickets for people under 26
London Philharmonic: Student tickets from £1-4; £8 for under 26
City of Birmingham Symphony: £5 student rush tickets; discount standby tickets also available
Hallé Orchestra: Student tickets for £3.o0
Royal Opera House at Covent Garden: Discounts available for students, people under 18, and others
English National Opera: Various student and under-30 discounts
Berlin Philharmonic: Standing room tickets starting at 7€
Berlin Staatsoper: Various discounts
Deutsche Oper Berlin: Judgendclub discounts
Dresden Semperoper: 10€ student tickets, other offers
Bayerische Staatsoper (Munich): 10€ student tickets and other discounts
Bavarian Radio Symphony: 8€ student tickets
Bamberger Symphoniker: Discount tickets for under 18, students, and military
Rest of Europe:
Czech Philharmonic: 50% off for seniors and students
La Scala: Major discounts in the Under 30 program
Helsinki Philharmonic: 6€ student tickets and other discounts
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra: 10€ rush tickets for under-28
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra: 80SEK student tickets
Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich: 20CHF tickets for under-25 and students
February 01, 2009 | Permalink
The Guardian runs an approving editorial on the occasion of the belated British stage premiere of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's hyper-opulent Die tote Stadt. Jessica Duchen, author of an excellent Korngold biography, has much about the composer on her blog; Gavin Plumley, too.... Kenneth Herman reviews Christopher Taylor's Messiaen.... Eichler on Masur on Mendelssohn.... Alan Lockwood on Robert Ashley.... Sequenza21: If Alma Mahler had Twittered.... A spirited discussion of the New York Philharmonic's new logo. (Via Felix Salmon.) ... Tonic Blotter on Dudamel's return to Chicago.... Scott Timberg (ex-LA Times scribe, now blogging) and Dan Johnson (arbiter of classical sexy) on the LA Phil's 09-10 season announcement.... Steve Smith on Missy Mazzoli and Victoire.... Stjepan Hauser imitates various famous cellists. (Via ACD.)
January 25, 2009 | Permalink
I was very sad to hear from Roger Evans that George Perle passed away yesterday, at the age of ninety-three. A composer of formidable intellect and playful spirit, a scholar whose books on Alban Berg will always dominate discussion of that composer, a kindly man with a wry sense of humor, Perle will be greatly missed. Condolences to his wife, Shirley. Allan Kozinn's obituary is online at the New York Times. Here is the Elegy in memory of Balanchine from Perle's Serenade No. 3 (1983):
Richard Goode, piano, with Gerard Schwarz conducting the Music Today Ensemble; Bridge 9214 (orig. Nonesuch).
January 24, 2009 | Permalink
January 23, 2009 | Permalink
This blog has the honor of being nominated in the Best Music Blog category for the 2009 Bloggies Awards. I doubt I have much of a chance against such sharp competition as Stereogum, Idolator, Said the Gramophone, and One Sweet Song, but it's worth a shot. You can vote at the Bloggies site until Feb. 2.
January 22, 2009 | Permalink
Russell Platt, Terry Teachout, and Anne Midgette all take a dim view of Air and Simple Gifts, John Williams's musical contribution to the Obama inauguration. Indeed, it's no Quartet for the End of Time. But I liked several things about the work and its place in the ceremony. 1) The quiet, almost bittersweet ending — a welcome change from the grimly bombastic Williams film music that marred Obama's victory speech in November. 2) The gesture of homage toward Aaron Copland, whose Lincoln Portrait was pulled from an Eisenhower inaugural event in 1953 at the insistence of a Red-baiting congressman. 3) The look of delight on the face of the president — a title he officially acquired while the music was playing, at the stroke of noon. I'm not sure that any president since Jimmy Carter has exhibited such obvious interest in the neighborhood of classical music. (When I was a kid, I met President Carter at a Suzuki violin recital in which his daughter, Amy, was participating. The president offered me a brownie.) Like many people, I'm hoping that the Obama administration will support classical music and the arts, although, in this climate, not much is likely to happen, and – as I mention in The Rest Is Noise — art and politics have never mixed well on American soil. Anyone who favors a "Secretary of Culture" ought to read up on the political firestorm that consumed the WPA arts projects in the late 1930s. But symbolic gestures — recitals at the White House, attendance at concerts, and so forth — can send a strong signal. A great detail emerges from Anne's review: Abraham Lincoln regularly went to the opera and had Flotow's Martha staged on the occasion of his second inauguration. 4) I liked most of all the diverse picture of the classical world that the performers presented: an Israeli-born violinist, a Chinese-American cellist, a Venezuelan-born pianist, and an African-American clarinetist from the South Side of Chicago. "Maybe people noticed that it wasn't old white guys up there," Marc Geelhoed wrote to me.
Update: More from Mark Swed, Tony Tommasini, and Carl Wilson, who points out commentators' sad but unsurprising failure to understand the significance of Aretha Franklin singing "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" (see my post below). As John Gibbons notes, Queen Latifah did acknowledge Marian Anderson's 1939 concert during the pre-inaugural event on Sunday. I watched on C-SPAN, knowing that the network and cable pundits would start talking during the music.
January 21, 2009 | Permalink
A brief video of the future president reciting Copland's Lincoln Portrait, with William Eddins conducting the Chicago Symphony, Millennium Park, September 11, 2005. Eddins described the experience of conducting Obama on his blog ("Despite the fact that the Senator doesn’t read music he’s not about to show up anywhere unprepared"); Marc Geelhoed was in the crowd. (Via Mme Chic.)
January 18, 2009 | Permalink
Wynton Marsalis: "At the root of our current national dilemmas is an accepted lack of integrity. We are assaulted on all sides by corruption of such magnitude that it's hard to fathom. Almost everything and everyone seems to be for sale. Value is assessed solely in terms of dollars. Quality is sacrificed to commerce and truthful communication is supplanted by marketing. The type of gamesmanship that separates races, genders and ages by 'preferences' is a most cynical brand. The integrity and dedication shown by American artists throughout our history provides a most needed and unequivocal counterstatement. On the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday, let's recognize the pernicious effects of separating people by generic categories."
Related: Ethan Iverson's sprawling Marsalis interview.
January 18, 2009 | Permalink