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February 2009
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April 2009

J.J. Abrams' TED talk about the mystery box

(If you don't know about TED, be sure to check it out here.)  This is J. J. Abrams' TED talk from March 2007, "The Mystery Box."  A terrific (though kinetic) presentation about the amazing creative tools available to us, and the potential they enable. 

My favorite quotes:

The most incredible mystery now is, I think, the question of what comes next--because, it is now democratized. The creation of media is everywhere.


No community is best served when only the elite have control, and I feel like this is an amazing opportunity to see what else is out there.

You may now cross the other leg

Alex Ross's concise history of the demise of inter-movement applause.  Spoiler alert: audiences haven't always sat passively at the symphony.

Pierre Monteux: I do have one big complaint about audiences in all countries, and that is their artificial restraint from applause between movements or a concerto or symphony. I don’t know where the habit started, but it certainly does not fit in with the composers’ intentions

Pianist Ossip Gabrilowitsch to the concert-going public:  It is a mistake to think you have done your part when you buy your tickets.

And from Ross himself: It’s crazy for three thousand people to sit in Carnegie Hall contemplating Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto as if it were some Buddhist monument, rather than a rousing, passionate entertainment.

Marin Alsop has good ideas

From an article about the 09-10 Baltimore Symphony Orchestra season:

Hence "BSO Under the Big Top" next March, which will transform the concert hall into a three-ring arena for one pops concert and three classical programs.  The latter will include John Corigliano's third symphony, called "Circus Maximus," and an evening of concert operas by Barber and Gershwin and Stravinsky's ballet "Pulcinella" . . . the operas mark an interesting new collaboration; they will be performed by members of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program of the Washington National Opera.

Using young singers talented singers is a great PR move; they're relatively local, and cheap.

There's also a huge new perk for subscribers, who are already benefiting from the $25-$50 ticket prices which the orchestra is offering for a third consecutive year: free access to the Naxos Music Library. This online service, which usually costs $150 a year, makes available a catalogue of more than 30,000 CDs, with hundreds of new recordings added every month, for streaming on a home computer. The orchestra will create playlists corresponding to each concert; it will also make its own concerts available on-line through the service.

Playlists are a fantastic idea (provided patrons take advantage of them), and a great way to expose your audience to new music before you program it.

Laughing in the face of danger

The Minnesota Opera . . . has launched a $5.5 million initiative intended to infuse the operatic repertoire with new works. Spanning seven seasons, the project, called Minnesota OperaWorks, involves three commissions, three revivals of neglected works, and the co-production of a new opera.

The productions:
Adventures of Pinocchio - Jonathan Dove
Casanova's Homecoming - Dominick Argento
El Nino - John Adams
Wuthering Heights - Bermard Hermann
The Garden of the Finzi-Continis - Rickey Ian Gordon (commission)
Joyeux Noel - Kevin Puts (commission)
Untitled - Jack Perla (commission)


Once again, the jester speaks the truth

WOW.  This is nothing to do with our normal focus here, but it's too good not to share.  I became quite disenchanted with mainstream, corporate news some time ago, and this video demonstrates exactly why.  Jon Stewart and his amazing team at The Daily Show spend over eight minutes completely eviscerating CNBC's credibility.  My only question is, why does it always fall to the comedian/satirist to point this stuff out?

The power of music and dance

OK, it's a commercial, and it's a great one.  But it also shows--by dropping some dancers in the middle of a crowded train station and playing a fun mix of music--the power of music and dance to connect people immediately.  Watch the faces of the unaware onlookers, the smiles and laughs and little bits of joy everyone was engaged in for a few minutes, together:


New SFS Season announced

Here's the response we all want to see when times get tough - trim administrative overhead, and leave the artistic projects in place.  While the 09-10 SFS season isn't particularly bold or risky, 6 commissions and some high-profile residencies ain't too shabby.   And in a way it makes good business sense - why, if you could at all avoid it, would you want to water down your brand in a time of greater competition for consumer dollars? 

The musicians have also ratified a new contract that simply and effectively address the issue of recording costs and compensation in the downloadable age- they're paid less up-front for recording sessions and receive a greater percentage of revenue and royalties down the line.

My two favorite programs:

Mozart - German Dances

Berg Lulu - Suite

Beethoven - Violin Concert


Ravel Mother - Goose Suite

George Benjamin - Piano Concerto, Duet

Messiaen - Oiseaux exotiques

George Benjamin - Ringed by the Flat Horizon

Ravel - Rhapsodie Espagnol