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And on a completely different note, I am reading Paul Johnson's Art: A New History every morning and enjoying it hugely. I am in the Middle Ages now. He says that the cathedrals and churches of Europe are likely the greatest body of art ever created in the history of civilization. The illustrations are a bit meagre, so I find myself going to Wikipedia and looking up examples there. I have to admit that, prominent though they are, I have never had much interest in either cathedrals or architecture, but he is probably correct. Here are a couple of examples:
|St. Andrews Cross arches from Wells Cathedral, Somerset, mid-14th century|
|Interior of the cathedral of Sevilla, 15th century|
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The blog On An Overgrown Path has a biting little post citing an example of musical hypocrisy: What happened to the native Tibetan people, Mr. Barenboim?
Of course, Mr. Barenboim made no mention there of the destruction of Tibetan culture and religion under the rule of China. So, any country in the world except China?Norman Lebrecht reports that at his recent Sydney concert with the Staatskapelle Berlin Daniel Barenboim dedicated the performance to the memory of ‘native’ Australians. The conductor then went on to say "Any country in the world needs to account for its past before being able to be accepted into a society of nations".Immediately prior to the Sydney concert Barenboim had given three performances with the Staatskapelle Berlin in Beijing.
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A musicologist uncovers song arrangements from a most unlikely place: Auschwitz.
I knew personally a musician who was sent to Auschwitz and survived: violinist Paul Kling.Patricia Hall went to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in 2016 hoping to learn more about the music performed by prisoners in World War II death camps.The University of Michigan music theory professor heard there were manuscripts, but she was "completely thrown" by what she found in the card catalogs: Unexpectedly upbeat and popular songs titles that translated to "The Most Beautiful Time of Life" and "Sing a Song When You're Sad," among others. More detective work during subsequent trips to the Polish museum over the next two years led her to several handwritten manuscripts arranged and performed by the prisoners
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I mentioned a while back that they are preparing for the return of Glenn Gould to the concert stage in the form of a hologram. Based on the Maria Callas hologram concert, you may want to skip it.
Well, not the only trouble!Heavily glossed with reverb, the amplified orchestra-with-no-name chugged joylessly through repertoire that the real Callas had recorded with the Philharmonia and the Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano under conductors such as Serafin, Prêtre and Giulini. Equalised at the mixing desk to a degree that stripped this distinctive voice of its tannic, acidic extremes and smudged the meticulous artistry of the phrasing, Norma’s Casta diva, Lady Macbeth’s Vieni, t’affretta and even Ophelia’s Á vos jeux, mes amis acquired a dull, tranquillised haze, as did we.The trouble with holograms is that they cannot respond to a live audience….
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In our continuing series on odd or unusual musical instruments I offer the lithophones!
“The rocks were first selected for their acoustical properties,” said Martorano,”and then they had to be made into a certain shape. What the material is matters, what the ends are shaped like matters. Then how they are held and what they are played with matters.” Martorano demonstrated the different tones achieved by hitting the lithophones with wood, antler and bone. The lithophones produce sounds ranging from the sound of tapping on a crystal glass, to a wooden marimba, to a xylophone.“Out of the 22 artifacts we studied, we got a minimum of 57 notes out of them. That’s at least two different notes from each stone,” Martorano said, adding that “56 percent of the notes made by the stones are the notes played on the black keys of the piano--the pentatonics. Those are the most commonly used scales in music in civilized societies around the world.”
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Alex Ross has a new piece at The New Yorker celebrating the Los Angeles Philharmonic:
“Season of the Century” is the slogan that the Los Angeles Philharmonic is using to tout its centennial season. The phrase is emblazoned on a sign outside Disney Hall and on street banners across the city. The double meaning is apparent: not only is this season intended to celebrate the orchestra’s past hundred years; it aims to make history itself. Ordinarily, such marketing effusions don’t withstand scrutiny, but the L.A. Phil’s 2018-19 season invites superlatives. The ensemble has commissioned pieces from more than fifty composers, ranging from such venerable figures as Philip Glass and Steve Reich to young radicals on the fringes. It is launching a slew of theatrical events and collaborations with pop and jazz artists. It is honoring African-American traditions and exploring the experimental legacy of the Fluxus movement. Gustavo Dudamel, the orchestra’s music director, is leading new works by John Adams and Thomas Adès. Esa-Pekka Salonen, the orchestra’s previous director, is presenting a nine-day Stravinsky festival. Meredith Monk’s opera “atlas,” from 1991, will receive a long-awaited revival. And so on. No classical institution in the world rivals the L.A. Phil in breadth of vision.
Now if only I knew what the phrase "breadth of vision" was meant to convey other than "lots of different stuff"?
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It's always always always about creating a straw man in order to establish equity in outcome: In the key of F: Harriet Harman on why musical creativity is not a male preserve.
Creativity is a miracle and a blessing that needs to be nurtured and celebrated wherever it springs from. And a diversity of creators only enhances and deepens the creative landscape. So, as chair of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, I was delighted to hear about its Venus Blazing programme which, in the centenary year of women getting the vote, is setting itself the challenge of discovering and celebrating women composers of the past, and opening a path for women composers of the future.The programme, which began last month, is a year-long initiative with a twofold promise. Across the more than 60 concerts and opera performances given by the Conservatoire’s major performing groups this academic year, at least half of the programme will be music written by female composers. We will thus have the chance to hear renaissance madrigals, 1970s jazz, 19th-century symphonies and 20th-century string quartets and operas, all of which have been neglected largely because the person who created them was a woman.
These articles always follow the same dreary form of argument:
- open with an innocuous cliché
- assert the importance of diversity
- mention which oppressed group will be favored
- state the means of righting an historic bias
- end by restating the principle that if a particular group has had less historic prominence it is solely due to bigotry
- and you're done!
You should notice that the assumptions are never argued for but always assumed--if you are a virtuous person you will just have to accept them. Notice also how the very opening contains a lovely contradiction: creativity must be nurtured wherever it springs from, so we are going to create a quota system to make sure that half of the creativity we nurture springs from women.
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For our envoi, let's have some music that might have been performed in those two cathedrals pictured above. First the Kyrie Cuthberte from around 1280:
This is Adorámoste Señor by Francisco de la Torre (fl. 1483 - 1504):
He was a singer in the cathedral in Sevilla from 1464 to 1467.