NEA Institute Day 7: Cats vs. dogs. You decide.
Your tax dollars are being put to good use. The NEA Institute is relentless. I'm still in NYC at the music conference at Columbia University. I've seen three orchestras in three days. Cleveland. The New York Philharmonic. (I was pleased to note that the tenor in last night's concert, Anthony Dean Griffey, is an Eastman grad.) London. Today, I watched Sir Colin Davis conduct the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Haydn's “The Creation.” Soprano Sally Matthews was superb. One of my fellow Fellows said, “Move over, Rene Fleming.” It's still outrageously sunny, and I walked quite a bit this weekend down tree-lined streets. They're tunnels of green. Pink impatiens are thriving everywhere. Today it's supposed to be 80 degrees. Winter seems a long way off. Back in the classroom: Henry Fogel says to say “hi” to my colleague Simon Pontin. Henry ran the Syracuse classical station a long time ago and remembers Simon fondly. Henry is famous – or infamous – for starting the cat owners vs. dog owners rivalry during public radio pledge drives. He went on to serve as president of the American Symphony Orchestra League (he's stepping down sometime next year), and he spoke to our group about reporting on orchestras. Henry assured us that classical music isn't in a crisis. Here are some other interesting things he said: Every year 3,000 music grads leave America's conservatories. Usually, they compete for about 150 positions. The competition is logarithmic. Symphony orchestra performances are the least visually stimulating art form. Every year the orchestra in Sioux Falls, South Dakota performs the piece that won the Pulitzer Prize. They even invite the composer to hear it. Critics should write with passionate approbation. - Henry Fogel Remember the American Composers concert I mentioned a couple of days ago with the cellist who didn't even play? Here's a review from that night. This might be interesting to you if you're curious about contemporary composers. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/arts/music/22comp.html?_r=... Three more days to go. Tomorrow I have a writing workshop with critic Anthony Tommassini, and then we tour the New York Times. One more thought: New Yorkers own ridiculously adorable dogs! There needs to be a special word for the self-conscious look a person has when he's holding a leash and a plastic bag and waiting for his dog to relieve itself on the sidewalk. Potential word fugitive for the Atlantic monthly? Suggestions?