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West Coast Reading

Until recently most of my regular music reading tended to skew towards the East Coast. Many of my favorite bloggers, journalists, and musicians are based in New York, and it is, of course, the epicenter for innovative new music happenings, so it is completely understandable that happenings in other parts of the country aren't on their radar. With that in mind, I'm sharing some great sources for West Coast arts news.

My favorite is the Los Angeles Times' fantastic arts blog Culture Monster. It covers everything from architecture and graffiti to the LA Phil and the Hollywood Bowl. Recent posts included an interview with David Lang and a profile of Eric Whitacre.

For Bay Area music news there's the San Francisco Classical Voice. It's a great source of concert listings for smaller ensembles and one-off shows as well as profiles and interviews of local musicians. I blogged previously about this interview with Michael Morgan. If you were in town last weekend you could have caught this concert featuring cellist Zoe Keating and the Magik*Magik Orchestra.

As far as music critics go, there's none better than Joshua Kosman. He opines about the Philadelphia Orchestra and City Opera debacles here.

John Cage Quote of the Day 11

I don't see why a professor should have to teach his students what he already knows, or what he knows how to do. This is all the more true for teaching music. Since the professor knows how to do what he knows how to do, since he's already supposed to know the discipline he's teaching, that ought to be enough! There's no reason at all for the students to follow the same path. They shouldn't repeat, they should invent something else.

From For the Birds

Intellectual property, continued

The Artful Manager had an interesting post in which he shared some points of view that questioned the assumption that stealing (or giving your stuff away for free) is bad for business (previously). He linked to a couple of studies that suggest that sales of knock-off designer handbags can lead to sales of the actual item. For some people, it turns out, possession of the fake or pirated item can actually lead to a desire for the real deal. For example, author Neil Gaiman discovered that access to pirated copies of his work seemed to boost sales, and convinced his publisher to conduct an experiment testing the idea.

Continue reading "Intellectual property, continued" »

John Cage Quote of the Day 10

What I appreciate about Varèse is obviously his freedom in choosing timbre. He, along with Henry Cowell, has very greatly contributed to getting us used to the idea of a limitless tonal universe. No matter how refined Schoenberg's timbres may be, they hardly ever get away from the number twelve . . . While with Varèse, whatever his 'organizational' notions may have been, you feel that everything is possible.

Nevertheless, there is still in Varèse a prejudice towards controlling sounds or noises. He tries to bend sounds to his will, to his imagination. And that is what very quickly bothered us. We knew that he wouldn't let sounds be entirely free. What we were looking for was in a way more humble: sounds, quite simply. Sounds, pure and simple.


Another one lost...

Another U.S. orchestra has shut down, meaning we've lost FOUR this season: Honolulu, New Mexico, Syracuse, and now Bellevue (WA).  As well, Louisville and Philadelphia have filed for bankruptcy protection.  Lebrecht gives the story here.

As regular readers of this site know, our position is that the basic problem remains relatively uncomplicated to understand: the potential American listeners that orchestras need to reach simply are not interested in what they are offering.  It could be different specific things: programming, modes of presentation, ticket prices, competition, etc., but it seems that many American orchestras somehow think that if they can just preserve what audience they have through the recession or whatever, things will spring back to normal eventually.  This does not acknowledge that the larger culture has changed and is changing in fundamental ways to which artists must adapt if their work is to resonate with listeners.

Continue reading "Another one lost..." »

Everyone's a patron with direct-to-fan

Matthew Guerrieri recaps the Rethink Music conference at the Berklee College of Music (via NewMusicBox). The conference aimed to bring together "all sides and viewpoints on the subjects of creativity, commerce, and policy to engage in critical dialogue examining the business and rights challenges facing the music industry." But, as Guerrieri writes, the viewpoints of emerging artists and established players on those subjects couldn't be more divergent.

[T]here was, for example, Del Bryant, the president and CEO of BMI, opining on Tuesday morning that "giving things away for free" was "not building the business," while the Canadian band Metric and their voluble manager, Matt Drouin, related on Tuesday afternoon how they built their business by giving things away for free. There was Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, insisting that lawsuits against file-sharing end users had "clearly [indicated] to the public at large what was legal and what was not," a day after the singer/songwriter Bleu had matter-of-factly said, "I don't think there's any way to go back to monetizing music."

Continue reading "Everyone's a patron with direct-to-fan" »

Filter bubbles - pt. 1

Eli Pariser's great TED Talk about the dangers of internet "filter bubbles" got me thinking about what other types of filters shape my worldview. I realized that in addition to the algorithmic ones that Pariser is concerned about, there are also filters I've unintentionally created myself.

When I looked at the RSS feeds I subscribe to I realized that almost every blog or webpage belongs to someone squarely in the classical music world, someone who is either part of a large, traditional institution, or dependent on one. I thought about some of these folks and wondered what they filter out. For instance, if you only read Greg Sandow you'd think that nearly all orchestras are going out of business. If you only read Alex Ross, on the other hand, you'd think that classical music concerts are the coolest, hippest things in the world. If you only read Proper Discord you would probably think that all arts administrators are idiots.

Continue reading "Filter bubbles - pt. 1" »

John Cage Quote of the Day 9

But enough of the contemporary musical scene; it is well known. More important is to determine what are the problems confronting the contemporary mushroom. To begin with, I propose that it should be determined which sounds further the growth of which mushrooms; whether these latter, indeed, make sounds of their own; whether the gills of certain mushrooms are employed by appropriately small-winged insects for the production of pizzicati and the tubes of the Boleti by minute burrowing ones as wind instruments; whether the spores, which in size and shape are extraordinarily various, and in number countless, do not on dropping to the earth produce gamelan-like sonorities; and finally, whether all this enterprising activity which I suspect delicately exists, could not, through technological means, be brought, amplified and magnified, into our theaters with the net result of making our entertainments more interesting.

from Music Lovers' Field Companion, 1954

Good Programs: Ligeti, Glass, and Greenwood

Last weekend the Wordless Music Orchestra gave the US premiere of Jonny Greenwood's Doghouse for orchestra and string trio. Also on the program was Philip Glass' Symphony No. 4 "Heroes" and Gyorgi Ligeti's Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments. I'd pay money to hear that. Here are live recordings from the show.

Philip Glass - Symphony No 4. "Heroes"

Gyorgi Ligeti - Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments

Jonny Greenwood - Doghouse


Continue reading "Good Programs: Ligeti, Glass, and Greenwood" »