Although the Moodys became eligible in 1989 under the hall's requirement that 25 years elapse after an act’s first recording, the group perhaps best known for its 1967 ambitious and heavily orchestrated concept album “Days of Future Passed,” and the single it yielded, “Nights in White Satin,” appeared on the nominees list for the first time this year.Here is the only song I actually remember from those hazy days in the late 60s-early 70s:
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Jumping on the bandwagon, The Guardian has a piece on the Cult of the Maestro:
The cult of the maestro has thrived precisely because of the uniquely difficult demands of the music: great power and privilege is sycophantically bestowed on those perceived to be geniuses, and behaviour that would be unacceptable in other contexts may be excused or swept under the carpet; different moral standards can be applied to them by virtue of their artistic brilliance.Well sure, this is an old story, but "moral standards" are only standard if they apply to everyone! There have been abusive power-players in the classical music business, just as there have been in every single other business. Sometimes these abuses have been covered up by cloaking them in some sort of romantic haze labeled "artistic brilliance" but anyone with much sense can tell artistic brilliance from sociopathic abuse. Just because James Levine has now fallen from grace does not mean that every conductor has to be viewed with suspicion--nor should we ignore all the other kinds of abuse that exist other than sexual ones! A while back I posted a couple of clips of Arturo Toscanini abusing his orchestral players to an astonishing extent. What surprises me is why no-one stood up and told him where to stuff it. You only put up with crap like that if you are short of self-respect and power and privilege should never be "sycophantically bestowed" on anyone.
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NPR has a story on the war on rosewood:
I became reluctant to travel with my guitar years ago because of a bit of antique ivory on the nut, now my reluctance is augmented because of the ebony fingerboard and the rosewood back and sides.New regulations on the international movement of rosewood have hit hard in parts of the music industry, which has long relied on rosewood as a "tonewood" used in many kinds of instruments, including guitars, cellos and clarinets.The reason for the crackdown, and for Katz's anxiety? China. Specifically, Chinese consumers' growing demand for rosewood or "hongmu" furniture.Among the requirements: musical instruments containing any amount of rosewood were subject to a complex, time-consuming permit system covering businesses and individuals.Requirements differed by country, and trade and travel became risky.
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ArtReview has an informative article on cultural appropriation:
In Canada these days it is frowned upon for any non-Indigenous artist to make use of any symbols or designs from Indigenous art without their approval, which they are not keen to give.So, what is cultural appropriation and why has it become such a contentious issue? Susan Scafidi, professor of law at Fordham University, defines it as ‘taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artefacts from someone else’s culture without permission’. This can include the ‘unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.’But what is it for knowledge or expression or a cuisine to ‘belong’ to a culture? And who gives permission for someone from another culture to use such knowledge or forms?
So it is really an extension of the tactics associated with identity politics.What really lies behind the debate about cultural appropriation is not ownership but gatekeeping – the making of rules or an etiquette to determine how a particular cultural form may be used and by whom. What critics of cultural appropriation want to establish is that certain people have the right to determine who can use such knowledge or forms, because at the heart of criticism of cultural appropriation is the relationship between gatekeeping and identity.
To subsume aesthetic considerations to those of identity is to render art meaningless.Not meaningless, no, but certainly it turns art into just another tool of political propaganda.
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When I was a kid, before I became a musician, I was fascinated with airplanes and flying--I guess a lot of kids are. Anyway, I still find flying fascinating and some of the fun comes from the stories pilots tell. The best one ever I posted here a long time ago as a text, but I just ran across a little clip of it on YouTube. This is Maj. Brian Shul, pilot of an SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest airplane ever, describing one perfect afternoon:
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The Walrus has an essay titled The Case Against Reading Everything that is worth a look.
I was having lunch with a friend yesterday and the subject of composers came up and out of the blue I just blurted out, "Well, Bach is the master of us all, but I also love other music from the 18th century. The French were just glorious: Rameau, Couperin. And then after them came Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. I also love Stravinsky and Shostakovich. But most other music you should avoid..."The call to “read widely” is a failure to make judgments. It disperses our attention across an ever-increasing black hole of mostly undeserving books. Whatever else you do, you should not be reading the many, many new releases of middling poetry and fiction that will be vying for your attention over the next year or so out of some obligation to submit your ear to a variety of voices. Leave that to the editors of Canada’s few newspaper book sections, which often resemble arm’s-length marketing departments for publishers. Leave that to the dubious figure of the “arts journalist.”Instead, shutter your ear against mediocrity. To fall in love with language, don’t fan out. Fall down a rabbit hole.
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Over at NewMusicBox, Aaron Gervais has a long piece about why efforts at audience-building by classical music institutions often fail:
I think I vaguely sensed this in some of my posts on the subject. Efforts to attract new audiences by diluting the classical music experience or by making it more like pop music always seemed pointless to me. Aaron's article is quite long, but it looks at matters from a fresh perspective and includes a lot of interesting research.musical taste is about community building—an inclusive activity. But whenever you build a community, you also implicitly decide who isn’t welcome. Those boundaries are actually the thing that defines the community. We see this clearly in variations in average tastes along racial or ethnic lines, but it’s just as important elsewhere: comparing grey-haired orchestra donors to bluegrass festival attendees, or teenagers to their parents, for example.For most musical genres, it is the exclusivity of the community that is the selling point. Early punk musicians weren’t trying to welcome pop music fans—they actively ridiculed them. Similarly, nobody involved in the ‘90s rave scene would have suggested toning down the bold fashion choices, drug culture, and extreme event durations in order to make the genre more accessible.
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As a footnote to the James Levine story, Slipped Disc has an anonymous story, but one that rings true. The teller was working at the Metropolitan Opera:
This phenomenon is, I'm sorry to say, not restricted to sexual harassment. I know of more than one musical institution that became a locus of mediocrity, frustration and depression because the wrong people attained positions of power and through petty favoritism turned the place into a travesty of what it could have been. This is not uncommon as those people who are most adept at careerism and opportunism tend to rise to the top and collect about them others like themselves. Artistic creativity and aesthetic quality then take a backseat to the new purposes of the institution: preserving the power and privilege of the administrators and shielding them from accountability.From the moment he declined the sexual proposition, our contact became invisible in the building. No-one wanted to work with him. If he asked why, he would be told he ‘was not good enough’. A clique around the music director was there to enforce his wishes.In music in particular and the arts in general, competence can be hard to prove if you are not given the opportunity. The Met was an impossible place to work if you did not play the music director’s way.
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After those depressing thoughts we need some uplifting and cheerful music. This is the Piano Concerto no. 23 in A major, K 488 by Mozart. Malcolm Bilson - fortepiano, John Eliot Gardiner - conductor, and English Baroque Soloists, on period instruments.