Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday Miscellanea

I was looking at Slipped Disc for some wacky item to kick of this week's miscellanea, but instead stumbled across this: On Agents Who Demand Payment Up Front.
Whenever an artist tells me that an agency wants to sign him or her but expects to be paid for their services, I have given the best advice available in these circumstances: don’t go near them.
An agent who demands money up-front from artist is an agent who has failed to make money by legitimate means.
The link to a VAN magazine article takes you to a lengthy article about one agent's practices that might be worth reading. It seems the case that there are managers out there that do not hesitate to take advantage of the naïveté of young artists. One comment on the Slipped Disc piece is sobering:
Where the art form is considered a ‘highly competative business’ it has been killed-off and the music treated as a mere commodity to make money and a career. This is, mainly, the position of classical music within a capitalist, free market society, as it developed in the 19th century. In the ‘ancien régime’, however limited by restrictions by courts, nobility and church, musicians had decent, paid jobs and more security.
One reason I finally decided to be a "non-commercial" musician was due to bad experiences with record companies and artist management.

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What do you do if your piano soloist falls sick at the last minute and you have to come up with half a program at the drop of a hat? The CBC has the story: Karina Canellakis conducts unrehearsed Tchaikovsky after OSM soloist Daniil Trifonov suddenly falls ill.
In one of the most anticipated concerts of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal's season, she was making her OSM debut on May 15 with a program comprising orchestral excerpts from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde as well as Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra in the first half, and after intermission, Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 with Russian piano phenom Daniil Trifonov as soloist.
But things did not go exactly as planned. OSM double bassist Scott Feltham posted the following account on Facebook after the concert:
"Daniil Trifonov, tonight's scheduled piano soloist, became suddenly ill just before the beginning of the concert and had to be taken to the hospital.... Instead, Madeleine Careau, our CEO, announced Trifonov's illness and the resulting change in program. We performed Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony. Cold. No rehearsing. In front of 2,000 ish people. Bravo to all my colleagues. Bravo especially to maestra Karina Canellakis, conducting us for the first time. Time for a beer."
The more cynical among us might say, "oh yeah, they probably played the Tchaikovsky just last week..." But no, the OSM hadn't played Tchaikovsky 4 for twelve years, though the conductor had done it fairly recently. On the other hand, it is likely that some newer members of the orchestra had never played it! Every time you go to a big budget movie and hear an orchestral soundtrack you are hearing an orchestra play something for the first time! Those scores get played once and once only--for the recording of the soundtrack.

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The opening night of Opera Australia’s Rigoletto in Melbourne on Saturday saw drama both on stage and off, with audience members witnessing the latest protest by composer George Dreyfus. Rising from his centre front row seat just as the conductor was about to take their place in the pit, the nonagenarian used a megaphone to express his frustration about how the company had commissioned, but never performed, his 1970 opera The Gilt-Edged Kid.
Members of the audience became increasingly irritated at the interruption, with Dreyfus’ actions delaying the performance for 15 minutes. The front row was eventually evacuated in order to allow venue staff to remove Dreyfus from the theatre. He was then met by police who escorted him out of the building, where he was taken to hospital for medical attention. Charges have not been pressed against Dreyfus.
The composer has staged protests in previous years as well. Hey, my sympathies are with him. Or he has lost his mind? Whichever. Opera does seem to bring out the dramatic side of things, doesn't it?

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This story is sort of entertaining: Academe's Extinction Event; Failure, Whiskey, and Professional Collapse at the MLA. As a sign of the academic background of the writer, it is almost impossible to summarize the long article. But this might give you an idea:
The number of jobs in English advertised on the annual MLA job list has declined by 55 percent since 2008; adjuncts now account for all but a quarter of college instructors generally. Whole departments are being extirpated by administrators with utilitarian visions; from 2013 to 2016, colleges cut 651 foreign-language programs. Meanwhile the number of English majors at most universities continues to swoon.
None of this shows any sign of relenting. It has, in fact, all the trappings of an extinction event that will alter English — and the rest of the humanities — irrevocably, though no one knows what it will leave in its wake. What’s certain is that the momentum impelling it is far past halting; behind that momentum lies the avarice of universities, but also the determination of politicians and pundits to discredit humanistic thinking, which plainly threatens them. They have brought on a tipping point: The stories they have told about these disciplines — of their pointlessness, of the hollowness of anything lacking entrepreneurial value — have won out over the stories the humanists themselves have told, or not told.
There are similarities in musicology, which is why I didn't pursue that career.

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I am so busy this week that I haven't anything further for you. Let's have a listen to the Symphony No. 4 by Tchaikovsky as we haven't put up anything by him for a long time. This is Carlos Miguel Prieto conducting the Frankfurt Radio Symphony:


Marc said...

Never having heard of Mr Dreyfus, I spent a bit of time looking around. There is an amusing video on YT using a song called Ballad of a Dead Guerrilla Leader as soundtrack to a series of photographs of his various protests. Off the top of my head I can't think why Opera Australia wouldn't have staged a work they commissioned; who knows. From his book Brush Off!:

"Lynne Strahan’s libretto mirrored my intention, intensely Brechtian, another of my cultural heroes.... Our opera is about a series of contests between the Administrator and the Kid, singing all the time, to decide who’s to have the power. There’s the strategy game, musical instrument with voice, poker machines, woodchop and archery. There are operatic precedents for all the contests including the basic struggle for power (Wagner’s Ring Cycle): Meistersinger (song-contest), Strauss’s Intermezzo (for card game read poker machine), Brecht/Weill’s Mahagonny (for boxing read woodchop), Rossini’s William Tell (archery). Not unlike Franz Schreker’s Irrelohe, with its allusions to Die Zauberflöte, Der Freischütz, Il Trovatore, and particularly F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu. I can’t find a precedent for the opera’s strategy game, with its model warships and planes, except that it mirrors my addiction to Märklin model railways...."

I'd think that these days he could find someone to stage The Gilt-Edged Kid based simply on the loopiness of the libretto and his uncontested place as a composer for film etc; don't know how commissioning works, though-- perhaps Opera Australia owns the rights to a first production. Not myself particularly impressed by the music on YT.

Bryan Townsend said...

Well, yes, when I got a chance I listened to a couple of pieces by George Dreyfus on YouTube and the word "trite" is the first that comes to mind.