Things You Will Enjoy
14 Jun 2011
Inside the Classics

The orchestra’s subscription concert season may have wrapped up this past weekend with four packed performances of Carmina Burana (during which, I might add, the Minnesota Chorale and Minnesota Boychoir absolutely outdid themselves,) but we’re still hard at work this week recording two symphonies and a piano concerto for the BIS label. In fact, we’re spending far more hours at the hall than we would in a normal subscription week, albeit with a lot more starting and stopping. (You can’t make an album without listening to the takes, so there are frequent pauses for playback and review.)

I’m too busy to write a proper blog post, is what I’m saying here, but fortunately, the interwebs have no shortage of fun music-related entertainments for me to pass on:

  • First off, there’s a great interview with our MicroCom composer Judd Greenstein over at’s Arts & Culture blog. Among other topics, Judd hits on the intimidation factor of writing music for orchestras, the tricky balancing act of incorporating one’s personal politics into one’s art, and the even trickier act of talking back to critics.
  • Hey, did you hear the one about the violist who responded to a heckler by smashing his instrument and storming off the stage? No, really. This happened. And the heckler, as it turns out, was also a professional violist of some prominence. Be sure to check out the comments section of that first linked post – the performer and the heckler both make their first-person cases. Personally, my sympathies are with the performer – I’m on record saying that you should feel free to boo performances you hated, but I sort of meant after they’re over.
  • Ever found yourself desperately in need of a list of composers you can name drop to make other music nerds think you’re cool? Will White’s got you covered.
  • There’s been a fair amount of sniping over the New York Philharmonic’s latest attempt to be cool. Basically, they’re marketing their upcoming production of Leos Janacek’s opera, The Cunning Little Vixen, by loosing a cunning vixen on the streets of the Big Apple, as well as on the Phil’s official Twitter account. The issue being taken with this line of promotion seems to be that “Vix” (honestly? Vix?) doesn’t actually seem to have anything to do with the opera, and the videos don’t even have any of Janacek’s music in them. Which, yeah, is annoying, and blogger Amanda Ameer summed up the issue nicely: “Why are people who work for classical music institutions deeply suspicious of the merits of classical music? Do marketing people sit around thinking, ‘This opera might be boring. Let’s youth it up.’? Do they have so little faith in the product they’re selling?”
  • Speaking of having faith in the product you’re selling, English National Opera have produced a fantastic new promo video for their upcoming premiere of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys, which will also be coming to New York’s Metropolitan Opera soon. At least one UK critic is complaining that the ENO vid doesn’t accurately sum up the plot of Muhly’s relatively dark opera, but a) I don’t think it claims to be doing that, b) the video is loaded with Nico’s infectious music, and c) do UK critics ever like anything? Judge for yourself – here’s the video…

Actually, London’s opera companies aren’t new to this sort of creative marketing. Here’s an old favorite of mine that not only draws you deeply into its story, but reminds you of just how risque 18th century opera really was…

That’s good fun, that is. And with that, it’s back to the grind for me – seven hours of recording sessions lie ahead today…

<April 2020>

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