Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Miscellanea

The Globe and Mail has a big feature article about trombonist Russ Little's ongoing love for the E-Type Jaguar: "Canadian musician loves his Jaguar E-Type for the sound."
He bought his first E-Type new in 1973. Playing trombone with the band Lighthouse, these truly were Sunny Days, to name one among many hits. He paid cash for the car he’d remembered ogling at O’Donnell-Mackie Motors on Bay Street while studying conducting and composing at the University of Toronto.
Later, he elaborates on his attachment to the V-12 soundtrack. “When the RPM goes up, the frequency and the pitch go up – but the tone doesn’t change,” he says, reaching for his instrument and demonstrating. “The trombone is really the only instrument in the world that’s the same: a perfect simulacrum.”
My dear friend, violinist Paul Kling, also loved Jaguars. I remember going shopping with him when he bought a Jaguar Sovereign. Another friend, the owner of a recording studio in Vancouver where I did a lot of recording also loved Jaguars. His collection included a 1964 E-Type along with a Morgan and a BMW 3.0. Jaguar must be the car of musicians!

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It's tempting to see this as just another attempt of the New York Times to stroke their core readership, but it is actually pretty interesting: "Don’t Let Them Tell You You’re Not at the Center of the Universe." Here, let me quote a bit:
“Where did the Big Bang happen?” I am often asked, as if the expansion of the universe was like a hand grenade going off and the solar system and our Milky Way galaxy were shards sent flying.
The universe didn’t start at a place, it started at a time, namely 13.8 billion years ago, according to the best cosmological data. It’s been expanding ever since — not into space because the universe by definition fills all space already, so much as into time, which as far as we know is open-ended.
This fascinates me because, as a musician, I am basically time-oriented rather than space-oriented.

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We have all wondered whether or how much animals enjoy music, right? Well, wonder no more as Ann Althouse shares with us a clip of a musical moose.

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What's the longest a single musician has played in an orchestra you ask? The answer is seventy-one years--and three months. In February bassist Jane Little of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra made the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest professional tenure with a single orchestra. And May 15th she collapsed onstage during a performance and passed away later in hospital. The article doesn't say, but I wouldn't be surprised if it weren't that nasty double bass solo in the last movement of Beethoven's 9th that was responsible. She was eighty-seven years old. UPDATE: More information has become available. It wasn't Beethoven, it was the encore: “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun.”

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From the Annals of Underpaid Musicians comes this piece from the New Yorker: "Congress's Chancce to be Fair to Musicians."
The music business is at a paradoxical crossroads. Listeners consume more music in more ways and in more places than at any time in history. Many Americans spend their waking hours with buds in their ears: walking down the street, commuting, even when working. This kind of immersion in music was never previously possible. But this abundance has not meant prosperity for the people who make it possible—quite the opposite. The proposed law, while hardly a panacea, offers a small corrective, and a little cash, to the artists who create the sounds for the rest of us.
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 So often these days I see a photo of a fashion model and ask myself "what is she doing holding that trumpet/bassoon/violin?" Then I slap myself and realize, no it is just another up and coming young artist who, by some strange quirk of fate, happens to look like a fashion model. Very odd...

Alison Bolsom, subject of this article in the Guardian

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Further to my post yesterday about the travails of music critic Arthur Kaptainis, there is a very fine discussion in Maclean's magazine by Lev Bratishenko who manages to point out that killing off the critics is a very bad idea indeed. Read the whole thing. Here's a sample:
I don’t think anyone will notice the difference soon, but it will be arts organisations like the COC who will lose most from the absence of critics in the mainstream press. When something is good, or even when it is bad but still worthwhile, we are their most energetic and earnest supporters. Readers can trust us because we don’t owe anybody praise, and if we chose to write about an absurd, niche art it’s because we love it. There’s just no way to fake it. Criticism isn’t just some “content.” However little you pay an arts critic, you’re never buying their passion.
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For our envoi today I offer Music for a Large Ensemble by Steve Reich dating from 1978. This is the original recorded version by Steve Reich and Musicians. There are thirty players in all.



4 comments:

Marc Puckett said...

Still shaking my head over the Kaptainis nonsense (not so much nonsense, perhaps, from his point of view, since he's lost income from one source). I wish I could make myself sit down and figure out how the Santa Fe/COC Maometto Secondo dealt with 'the pc issues' and how AK's text either mocks (or empathizes with?) that treatment-- did the use of the word 'ballerina' have some significance or anti-significance in terms of whatever nasty cultural appropriation Rossini indulged himself in? &c &c-- well, I almost wish I could.

Bratishenko referred to Justin and tacos: while I have no idea about that, I did actually (in the course of work) meet one of that Bieber's fans the other day. Apparently, during her 'intro to classical music' course at the University, it's seemed to her that the professor has become enthused only when trying to get the kids excited about the question whether Beethoven should be tagged 'Classical' or 'Romantic'. Also, she spent more to hear Justin at Portland's Rose Garden than I've spent thus far on seven tickets for the upcoming Bach Festival. The world has gone mad. :-)

Bryan Townsend said...

Thanks, Marc for continuing to mull this over. I think that in Canada in particular, there is a feeling that in things like the arts what should rule all behaviour is a kind of Pollyanna civic boosterism that abhors anything that could be considered negative or critical. This prevents, of course, arts criticism, especially if it is accurate! It is also a formula for mediocrity.

Marc Puckett said...

Alison Balsom is I'm sure a fine trumpeter (however beautiful she is...) but thanks mostly for reminding me about the 'Facing the music' series, where I found Yevgeny Sudbin from last month. One change to the concert format? "Better performances." One knows the questions, but I got the sense that he's only willing to endure so much nonsense. "If I had six months off, why on earth would I want to learn more instruments!?" "Sokolov’s piano recitals always leave me physically drained." No idea where Balsom and Sudbin each are in their respective 'career arcs'; perhaps she feels like she needs to play nicely with the G. journalist and he doesn't, so much; who knows-- perhaps it is all journalistic craft.

Bryan Townsend said...

One does get the impression for the Sudbin review that he is a pretty serious musician only willing to put up with a limited amount of journalistic foolishness.