Free and open to all.
Also, a little while back I had a great time appearing on WBUR's On Point show. It's the 20th century in 47' 36".
Arthur Lubow profiles Gustavo Dudamel for the New York Times Magazine. A friend notes that the New York Philharmonic is playing it rather cool with regard to Dudamel's debut with the orchestra at the end of November; the concert is headlined "Gil Shaham Plays Dvorak."... Congratulations to Anne Midgette, who, Musical America reports, will be interim chief critic at the Washington Post while Tim Page takes a sabbatical at USC.... Some good news from Chicago, via John von Rhein: "For the second straight year, the [Chicago Symphony] exceeded 85 percent paid capacity in ticket sales, including a more than 3 percent increase in single ticket sales from the previous year. Roughly 30 percent of CSO main series concerts were sold out or exceeded 95 percent capacity. The renewal rate for CSO main series subscriptions was more than 87 percent, the highest in 11 years, according to orchestra officials."... I expended over twenty thousand words trying to explain what happened to classical composition after WWII; Timothy Mangan needs only a hundred.... Have I mentioned lately how much I enjoy home delivery of the New York Times? It's a splendid publication.
October 27, 2007 | Permalink
Ethan Iverson, with whom I am perpetrating An Evening of Spooky Modern Music Tuesday next, has announced the lineup of twentieth-century piano excerpts for the show, with edifying, amusing, and altogether richly learned comments. He includes a provocative remix of Milton Babbitt's Semi-Simple Variations, with backing rhythms by Bad Plus drummer David King. The possibility is raised of a full-bore Bad Plus rendition of Babbitt. We'll see if this materializes.
October 24, 2007 | Permalink
Sasha Frere-Jones and Matt Dellinger have produced an excellent podcast for the New Yorker website. It's related to Sasha's stern critique of modern indie rock. Don't miss a heart-catching Dolly Parton moment at the end.... I recently lamented the absence from iTunes of the Tashi recording of the Quartet for the End of Time. I'm informed that it will be arriving on iTunes, Napster, Rhapsody, etc. at the end of this month.... The Mahler graffiti artist has struck Toronto again, reports PlaybillArts. Will this reign of terror never end?
October 16, 2007 | Permalink
Anthony Tommasini has created a neat video for the New York Times website in which he explains Schoenberg's twelve-tone method and where it came from.... New-music ensemble name changes: the Columbia Sinfonietta is now the Manhattan Sinfonietta, The Abstraction is now Build. Both have events coming up: the Sinfonietta plays Wolfgang Rihm's imposing Jagden und Formen at Miller on Oct. 18; Build (aka Matt McBane) is at Cornelia St. Café with NOW Ensemble on Oct. 22.... Composer, violinist, and Ne(x)tworks director Cornelius Dufallo has started a blog.... A bow of the head in honor of Margaret "Maggie" Carson, the irrepressible grande dame of classical-music publicists, who died on Thursday at the magnificent age of ninety-six. She represented such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein and Michael Tilson Thomas, and, as I learned from Bernard Holland's obituary, somehow worked for Theodore Dreiser and Ezra Pound. Here's a reminiscence by Howard Kissel.
Update: A fond tribute to Maggie Carson by Craig Urquhart in Musical America.
October 13, 2007 | Permalink
Now available for viewing and listening are book-related Audiofiles and Links. I will continue adding to and modifying the pages over coming weeks, but the basics are in place. Many thanks to the publishers and record labels who cooperated with this rather elaborate project, especially Boosey & Hawkes. Thanks to Dan Johnson for some last-minute help.
October 11, 2007 | Permalink
The director Graham Vick, whose Il Trovatore was one of the most memorable fiascos in recent Metropolitan Opera history, and whose current Tannhäuser in San Francisco has been described as "unsightly and almost aggressively foolish" by Josh Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle, is complaining about film and theater directors infiltrating the opera business: "Opera is a completely different medium from film and theatre, and we forget that at our peril. If you don’t understand what a composer is trying to say musically, you’re not going to be able to express it. If you don’t understand the music, the opera won’t work. It’s that simple.” Why, then, do operas not infrequently fail to work when Vick directs them? Bring on Woody Allen, I say; he can't do any worse, and might do quite a bit better.
October 10, 2007 | Permalink
I ordered the Radiohead album, which is coming out tomorrow. In honor of Colin Greenwood, the band's impossibly generous and convivial bass-player, I elected to pay full price. I don't know whether the order numbers are going in ascending sequence, but mine was over four million.
Classical music, always a step or two behind! At Sequenza21, composer Jeff Harrington mentions that he started giving away MIDI files of his music on the Internet in, er, 1991.
October 09, 2007 | Permalink
The 2007 Classic fm Gramophone Awards have been announced. Artist of the Year was chosen by popular vote, via classical radio networks in thirteen countries, and the choice is unexpected and refreshing: the young German violinist Julia Fischer. Also refreshing is the choice of the underrated British composer Julian Anderson in the contemporary category.... Here's a wonderful program from the London Symphony: during the orchestra's upcoming New York visit, musicians will go out to play for home-bound music-lovers in the New York area. Read about the program and nominate recipients at WNYC.... Slatkin to Detroit: Mark Stryker reports.... Paul Jacobs, chair of the Juilliard organ department, will give a free performance of Messiaen's monumental final work for organ, the two-hour cycle Livre du Saint Sacrament, tomorrow night at the beautiful St. Mary the Virgin church on West 46th Street in NYC. I've heard this music twice before: in 1995, when Brian Schober played four pieces from the cycle at Grace Church, and in 1999, when Jon Gillock played the entire work at Riverside Church, as part of his Messiaen survey. Both performances were singular experiences. There are few final cadences as crashingly sublime as the one at the end of "The Resurrection of Christ."
October 08, 2007 | Permalink
Warm thanks to those who turned up at my events this weekend: the Peter Sellars interview (in which the director compared the standard operatic repertory to "some irritating person's record collection"), my Noise lecture (which clocked in at 75 minutes, an improvement over last year's Seattle marathon), and a book signing. Those who attended the lecture got a surprise gift in the form of the book itself. It was fun to see people wandering down Ninth Avenue holding The Rest Is Noise. The major thrill of the weekend was, however, getting to meet Werner Herzog. In a fit of eloquence I said to him, "Oh, wow, uh."
October 08, 2007 | Permalink
I noted below that the classically trained pianist and Oscar-winning actor Jamie Foxx has been taking cello lessons from a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. According to this article in the Scottish Daily Record, Foxx has hit it off with his new teacher: "The guy who shows up to show me how to play the cello is nothing like what I expected. I thought it would be a stiff guy. But my guy is like a Ninja cellist."
October 05, 2007 | Permalink
Soho the Dog, il miglior fabbro, has discovered a very de-luxe item in the Neiman Marcus catalogue: Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra. "Classical music lovers, hold on to your batons. The world-famous Kirov Orchestra. Uber-maestro Valery Gergiev working his Russian magic. Firebrand virtuoso Lola Astanova beating the daylights out of a Steinway® Concert Grand. Performing The Nutcracker Suite, the Tchaikovsky "Piano Concerto," and another Tchaikovsky masterpiece of your choice. In your hometown, at a private holiday concert for you and 499 of your closest friends. Hosted by Regis Philbin! The concert will be filmed as an after-party favor for each of your guests. You even get to keep the tour piano after all the artists autograph it. BRAVO!, if we do say so ourselves. (And we do.)" The whole package costs a mere $1,590,000.00. I hope some megarich wiseass requests Vakula the Smith.
October 05, 2007 | Permalink
From the letters column in the current issue of Science: "...Watanabe and Sato [Behav. Processes 47, 1 (1999)] have shown that Java sparrows can discriminate between Bach’s French Suite no. 5 in G minor and Arnold Schoenberg’s Suite for Piano opus 25. The birds were also able to generalize new music by Bach (Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major) and Schoenberg (Five Orchestra Pieces, Opus 16) and artists in similar categories, i.e., Vivaldi and Elliott Carter. In these experiments, music by Bach and Vivaldi was considered classical music, while the music of Schoenberg and Carter was considered modern music. Watanabe and Nemoto [Behav. Processes 43, 2 (1998)] have also shown that, given the option of three perches producing either silence, classical, or modern music, the Java sparrows preferred Bach to Schoenberg and Vivaldi to Carter. These results indicate that Java sparrows or songbirds prefer classical to modern music, or perhaps just more harmonious to dissonant sounds. Additionally, the sparrows chose music they 'liked' (e.g., Bach) over silence or music they 'disliked' (e.g., Schoenberg)." A flawed experiment — I have a feeling the sparrows might have preferred Messiaen to all of the above. I wish we had video of Java sparrows alighting on perches that play Schoenberg's Five Pieces for Orchestra.
James Levine conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, DG / Arkiv Music.
James Levine conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, DG / Arkiv Music.
October 03, 2007 | Permalink
I have appeared on the New Yorker's élite New Yorker Out Loud podcast. Pardon the scratchy condition of my ordinarily melodious speaking voice. I have Sinatra's cold.
Advance tickets for my two New Yorker Festival events, the first with Peter Sellars (Saturday, Oct. 6) and the second with my iTunes (Sunday, Oct. 7), have sold out, but a limited quantity of tickets will be available at Festival Headquarters, 125 West 18th Street, and at event doors. From 1-2 PM on Sunday I will be signing some advance copies of my book at the headquarters.
Radiohead, the monumentally great English rock quintet, has temporarily done away with the concept of the record label and is offering its new album In Rainbows on a dedicated site. The MP3s, available on Oct. 10, are priced on a pay-what-you-like basis; a deluxe CD-and-book box version, which comes out in December, costs around $80. Traditionalists fear not: a normal CD is scheduled for next year. I'm particularly looking forward to the new version of "Reckoner," which is said to be amazing.
Angela Gheorghiu has been fired from La Bohème at the Chicago Lyric Opera. John von Rhein has the story. Glenn Petry, a media liaison for Mme Gheorghiu, has relayed the following statement from the soprano: “My husband Roberto is singing two major roles at the Metropolitan Opera. I asked Lyric Opera to let me go to New York for two days to be with him and they said 'no.' But I needed to be by Roberto’s side at this very important moment. I have sung Bohème hundreds of times, and thought missing a few rehearsals wouldn’t be a tragedy. It was impossible to do the costume fitting at the same time I was in New York. Coming back from New York, I caught a cold — a most unfortunate coincidence. I saw the company doctor when I returned and he prescribed antibiotics. I just wanted to get well. My colleagues knew about this and were supportive. Of course, I’m very sad that this has happened as I was very eager to sing in Chicago.”
Previously: Divo explosion in Milan
September 28, 2007 | Permalink
Happy birthday to the incomparable Peter Sellars.
Update: It turns out that Lisa Hirsch was present at the very beginning of Sellars's career — his legendary puppet production of the Ring at Harvard.
Update 2: As AC Douglas reminds us, West Side Story was born the previous day. Perhaps Sellars will direct West Side Story one day, setting it in Mozart's Vienna.
September 27, 2007 | Permalink
New York City Opera's VOX new-opera showcase has a fancy new website.... New blog: Classical Seattle.... I mentioned the widely loved harpsichordist and organist Albert Fuller immediately below; there is now a blog devoted to his unpublished writings and memorials to him. He makes a memorable appearance in Paul Festa's mesmerizing documentary Apparition of the Eternal Church, in which people from various walks of life (including none other than Justin Bond of Kiki & Herb) react to Messiaen's early organ masterpiece.... Speaking of playlists: Oliver Sacks, whose new book is Musicophilia, has created an iPod playlist for Wired, notwithstanding the fact that he does not own an iPod. (AC Douglas will be pleased.) Steve Silberman's interview with Sacks is here.... An update on Community MusicWorks, the profoundly innovative chamber-music series / education program in Providence, which I wrote about last year: MusicWorks is featuring works by local composers on all programs this year.... Lisa Bielawa's long-gestating Chance Encounters composition/happening arises in Seward Park this Friday, at 1:30PM and again at 5PM. Read also the companion blog.... Strauss and Mahler are back in action.
September 26, 2007 | Permalink