Friday, March 23, 2018

Friday Miscellanea

Blac Rabbit is a pretty good Beatles cover band who busk in the New York subway:

Ok, they don't quite sing in tune and they could sure use Ringo on the skins, but, not bad!

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A friend suggested I take a break from furious practicing and do this quiz for relaxation. You have to identify pieces of music just from the score:

There are some really tricky ones. One of them only has the bit of the score before the notes! But it is clear what it has to be. I missed out some obvious ones like Holst and Vaughan Williams.

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Here is an article about Bernstein's Mass, which is getting more outings these days due to the centennial of his birth, but is it even a piece of music? Or just a groovy experience?
Whether the Mass can be heard as pure music — listening as you might do with, say, a Haydn symphony — is something listeners get to decide for themselves with the just-released Deutsche Grammophon recording by the Philadelphia Orchestra and a battery of forces led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin.
Is the piece better off as a live, shared social experience? Probably.
The recording, drawn from Verizon Hall concerts between April 30 and May 3, 2015, has tremendous energy. But, of course, it can’t deliver exactly what the Mass’ subtitle promises: “a theatre piece for singers, players and dancers.”
Rather, conceived by Bernstein and Godspell composer-lyricist Stephen Schwartz, the Mass comes across in recording as an erratic aural trek through music theater, sacred music, rock, classical, jazz, carnival music, and parade music, with a little Copland and more Blitzstein, and on and on.
Maybe the technical term for it all is simply this: groovy.
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For those visiting New York, the Metropolitan Museum has re-opened the musical instrument gallery:

The new gallery will feature over 5,550 instruments from six continents – including violins and cellos by Antonio Stradivari and Andrea Amati. Mind you, the Royal Palace in Madrid has an entire matched quartet of instruments by Stradivarius.

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Jessica Duchen has a whirlwind account of what happens when someone calls you the morning of an orchestral concert and asks if you can sub for a conductor whose flight was cancelled due to a snowstorm. Oh, and it's the London Symphony calling. Furious logistics ensue!

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A rose is a rose is a rose, but the director of the Royal Philharmonic thinks that the "stigma" of classical music can be avoided by calling it something else:
There is a certain “stigma” attached to classical music which is off-putting for youngsters who see it as old fashioned, according to James Williams.
He said that orchestras must “recognise the need to change with the times” and “think more broadly” if they want to widen their appeal.
“Classical music has a certain stigma attached to it in certain people’s minds,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “There is a perception that classical music is for older people.”
He said that research commissioned by the RPO shows that they need to diversify their range of concerts in order to appeal to new audiences.
Ok, I have some suggestions: "white-tie music," "music of the cis-hetero-patriarchy," "music old white people like," "pre-hip-hop," "music from before the decline of Western Civ." You get the idea! Oh, and, just a suggestion, but if the director of your symphony orchestra thinks that classical music has a "stigma" then perhaps you need a new director?

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The dean of New Zealand’s Auckland University has told members of the music department that jobs will have to go because they are being ‘subsidised by architecture’ we learn over at Slipped Disc. As usual, the comments are particularly interesting. One wonders if, once all those students have got good-paying jobs in architecture, science, business and so on, what they will do at the end of a hard day's work? Look at spreadsheets and architectural plans for fun? Or might they just possibly feel the need for some art and music? Hey, it could happen!

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In honor of this being the centennial of his death, I am going to feature a bit more music by Claude Debussy than usual. This is the Victoria Symphony conducted by Tania Miller. I didn't choose this version because the conductor is a woman, even though she is doing a good job. I used to do a lot of concerts with the principal flute, Richard Volet, before he got the orchestral job. Also, this is one of the very few clips online that shows the orchestra in good quality. These are the Three Nocturnes:

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