Aaron Copland's book "What to Listen for in Music" invites music fans of all types to consider listening to music on multiple levels and multiple planes. Last weekend at a concert, I caught myself listening on just one level, and it got me thinking how others listen.
A recent concert-going experience caused a mix of emotion for me: pleasure, frustration, and ultimately boredom. It then forced me to ask the question: what's wrong with clapping between movements at a classical music concert?
Ah the joys and perils of combining solitary evenings, a dumb sense of humor, and working in sound-proof rooms.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single novel in possession of a large readership must be in want of a musical adaptation. However little known the feelings or views of the author, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of lyricists, composers, and filmmakers, that it is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their agents. Last night, about 3,000 Rochesterians attended a concert performance of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I was among them, and I’m happy to report that the musical achieves the dynamism of the book. The pace and the singing were most excellent.
The show’s greatest strength is in the lyrical, often operatic writing and well-crafted orchestration. What might be saccharine brushes tenderness, especially in duets and ensemble pieces. (For the truth of every thing here related, I can appeal to the testimony of RPO President Charlie Owens, who, during intermission, expressed his admiration for the deft orchestration.)
The new season of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra kicked off this weekend, and it wasn't good. It was great.
Being able to take constructive criticism well is a gift. Especially in publishing and broadcasting, feedback often feels personal, and no matter how reasonably it’s delivered it can reduce one to a quivering, gelatinous mass .
In the radio business, the general rule is every single comment from a listener probably represents what hundreds of others think, too. Good and bad. For the most part, the radio program managers I know take listeners pretty seriously.
Criticism from peers sounds even more loudly. So when the Public Radio Program Directors Association released contest judges’ reactions to a piece I produced, I braced myself.
The Rochester music scene gets some press in this lengthy New York Times article about Eastman grad Caleb Burhans. Reporter Allan Kozinn writes that Burhans took a job as a substitute in the Rochester Philharmonic “. . . which was sometimes rocky. Once, when Mr. Burhans turned up at a rehearsal with his hair dyed purple, the orchestra’s managing director asked him to do something about it before the concert. Mr. Burhans turned up in a witch’s wig, cut short. The next week he tried to dye his hair a conventional red, but because of the purple die, it came out crimson, so he shaved his head. ‘I found out that one of the trumpet players was going around saying that I was making a mockery of classical music because my hair was purple,’ Mr. Burhans said. ‘And I had a really intense conversation with the managing director, where I said: ‘You know, I’m just trying to help classical music, because if we don’t get more people like me coming to these concerts, this orchestra is going to die. The only people who are coming are old people, and you’re shooting yourself in the foot.’ And he said: ‘Yeah, you’re right. Sorry.’”
This week I packed up the 2007-08 Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra concert CDs and lugged them in a cardboard box to the basement for storage. The RPO's new season begins October 10th, and the 2008-09 concert will air on WXXI beginning in April of 2009.
The other day I thought about going off-line, cold turkey. No Facebook, no blog. Just for awhile, to remember what life used to be like.
Then three things happened.