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The perennial category of "how can we make classical concerts more appealing to people who might not like classical music?" is fulfilled this week by this piece in the Guardian: Beer, Bach, tweets and Taverner: mixing up the classical concert
Creating a bite-size concert format like this won’t get people immediately comfortable with listening to 70-minute stretches of Mahler or Bruckner symphonies. Classical Mixtape isn’t addressing that “problem”. But if you’re training for a marathon, you can’t go from nought to 26 miles in one go – you have to build up your stamina. Classical music’s extended timespans and architectures are one of its most wonderful attributes, but not to someone whose listening habits are solely the short haul of most other music genres. If something like Classical Mixtape gives them confidence and curiosity to take that musical discovery further, then it will have done the second part of its job. And the first part? Simply to give people an entertaining, memorable experience – one that invigorates, consoles or touches to the core. As a programmer or performer, you should never lose sight of that aspiration.There is really nothing wrong with this approach. I'm all in favor of anything that helps people connect with good music (even though sometimes I complain about just how they go about it!). But it would be amusing to turn this around: the next time there is a pop music performance can we ask, why don't they do something to appeal to those people who really don't care that much for pop music? You know, pick better songs, have more comfortable seats, less distracting light shows and costumes, maybe more engaging lyrics, you know, a little less of all those annoying things that pop music does. What, you say that that would change the essence of the experience? Oh dear, how unfortunate!
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Here is a fascinating, if a bit lengthy, article on music and architecture from FutureSymphony:
Their common wordless expressiveness is perhaps what most links music and architecture in my own experience. Why can I be reduced to tears on hearing Bach’s “O Mensch, bewein die Sünde Gross” or upon stepping into Michelangelo’s vestibule to the library of San Lorenzo? Paradoxically, the first is music in a major key (which we tend to associate with “happy” content in contrast to the “sad” minor keys), and the second is simply an arrangement of columns and niches around an oddly configured stairway, seemingly without explicit emotional associations. And yet, the response in both cases was immediate and profound. The emotional effects of music and architecture are simply ineffable, but it is also now clear that the modernist abandonment of traditional tonality and perspective rendered both arts capable of communicating only anxiety and disorientation. Only in a system in which consonance and dissonance can be distinguished, and in which consonance is the norm, can we find and express a fuller range of human emotion.
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This is a simply terrible idea: Classical music app to send programme notes to your phone as orchestra plays:
Even at the cost of alienating the current audiences and ruining the concert experience? One or two illuminated smartphones in a darkened hall are extremely distracting--imagine if half the audience were using them!The app has already raised eyebrows in the classical community, after BBC Music magazine featured it in a review.“I was surprised to see you endorse Octava, an app which sends texts to your phone during a performance with information about the music,” one concerned reader wrote in this month’s edition. “What happened to the rather quaint idea of reading programme notes before a performance, then simply enjoying the music and not disturbing those around you?”The editor replied: “We have to agree - programme notes are indeed far superior, and don’t shine brightly in the gloom.“But we live in an ever-changing world, and music needs to try and attract new audiences.”
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Here is a review of Peter Williams' new book on Bach:
Bach: A Musical Biography is Peter Williams’s third work about the life of Bach. It is his longest and his last: He died just months before its publication. Like the earlier two biographies, this one is organized around the composer’s obituary, written together by son Carl Philipp Emanuel and former student Johann Friedrich Agricola. Williams’s working plan throughout entails quoting excerpts from the obituary, then fleshing them out in considerable detail.
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We seem to be having a Bach-centric miscellanea today, so let's end with a Bach envoi. This is "O Mensch, bewein die Sünde Gross" from the Matthew Passion. This is the Collegium Vocale Gent conducted by Philipp Herreweghe: