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June 2010
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August 2010

"Albeit with a few new ones, such as sirens, thrown in"

A few days ago my good friend Sebastian Vera, who is an outstanding trombonist and member of the Guidonian Hand, emailed me recounting his experiences at the NYPhil's recent all-Varèse concert.  In particular, he was struck by conductor Alan Gilbert's program note, and felt it played a big role in the concert's success.  Here's a quote from the email.

I love it because he does such a wonderful and succinct job of describing to this audience, who a good number of them most likely had never heard Varèse, let alone enjoyed him, how to appreciate this music.  I feel like in these short paragraphs he really disarmed the reader quite well to have an open mind without offending them or speaking from the ivory tower or even overloading them with too much information.  The best part of the whole night for me was the fact that after the final piece Ameriques was played(which they played incredibly), it was honestly one of the most enthusiastic audience responses I have ever seen at the Phil.  

Continue reading ""Albeit with a few new ones, such as sirens, thrown in"" »

Band music on the radio

Scott Stewart at Emory University does a terrific summer radio series featuring works for band and wind ensemble on WABE in Atlanta.  Entering its fourth year, SUMMER WINDS is well worth a listen--and the first show is TONIGHT, so tune in here at 9:00 Eastern time to hear some goooood music.  The show will run on Tuesday nights from July 20 to August 31.

Also, if you do give the show and listen and enjoy, please be sure to give the station some positive feedback here so that they know this show is desired and enjoyed!

Why band music matters

From Steve Layton at the always excellent Sequenza 21, a great essay about the modern American wind band and its (earned but unrecognized) place in concert musical life, in the form of a review of several recordings.  A taste:

I had a teacher who once said that the sound of a symphony orchestra was one of the great achievements of Western civilization. Whether that’s true or not is open for debate, but there seems to be no question that the survival of orchestras in small to medium markets in the United States is in doubt. There are also artistic questions about the viability of the model that makes a symphony orchestra the center of a town’s musical life. Wind music, whose players are more plentiful than string players, and whose audiences tend to be more open to new music and new artistic situations, can assume a more central role than it has in most places now.

All of the pieces are in place, then, for bands to play an important role in the revitalization (or continued growth, depending on how you see the current situation) of concert music in the United States. What may be needed are artists, presenters, and patrons with the will and the imagination to re-invent musical life in their cities and towns.