I got an email this week with the subject heading "jass" and this website linked in the body. This email came from a reputable source, so I knew the link would be at least entertaining, and probably informative.
A Radio Program
I found this paperback in a used book store. In The Art of Possibility, artist Rosamund Stone Zander and conductor Benjamin Zander touch on core issues of creativity and passion and offer practical ways to sustain a spark day after day, even when faced with difficult circumstances or unwilling teammates.
First of all, the Zanders recommend, make mistakes. Take risks.
Benjamin Zander says composer Igor Stravinsky once turned down a bassoon player “because he was too good to render the perilous opening of The Rite of Spring. This heart-stopping moment, conveying the first crack in the cold grip of the Russian winter, can only be truly represented if the player has to strain every fiber of his technical resources to accomplish it. A bassoon player for whom it was easy would miss the expressive point.”
Stravinsky reportedly said, “I don’t want the sound of someone playing this passage. I want the sound of someone TRYING to play it!” Let's make more mistakes.
The email was delivered a few weeks back: Backstage Pass was a finalist in the Radio division for New York Festivals. We just didn't know what we won. We waited. The word came on Friday, and it was Bronze!
It's no secret that I am an automobile nerd. While I drive a humble 11-year-old Subaru with 172,000 miles on it, I always envision myself maneuvering an eight-cylinder, two-seated, rear-engined supercar with something called "sodium-cooled exhaust valves" and carbon-fiber cupholders. Unfortunately these types of cars are expensive, and I play trombone and work for public radio--both admirable pursuits, but neither going to cover the cost of even one of the two dual-overhead camshafts I so desire. Now, if you play the piano, then it's a different story! No, you'll still be a starving artist, but at least you can play one of these:
In my hours of slaving over a hot computer every day, I came across two different views of how the Chinese are taking a liking to some of our art forms. Apparently Western classical music is huge there, and so is...completely ripping off the styling of Western automobiles.
What do British people do when they get really angry about their elected officials spending hideous amounts of taxpayer money on things like life-size statues of Winston Churchill made out of Legos? They write an opera, of course.
On a recent Monday morning I walked into the studio of Rochester's classical music station cradling a stack of CDs in one arm and a sheaf of news reports in the other. The news was not good. The sky threatened rain. I slipped a CD into the player and started a Haydn symphony, a cheerful burst of minty freshness. I followed that with Vivaldi's chirpy Goldfinch Concerto, a flashy set of trills inspired by the song of the European goldfinch, (a mouse of a bird that's not even gold, by the way.)
The music was sunny. But as the minutes ticked by, my mood darkened. It DID start to rain. More depressing stories poured into the newsroom.
At one point I actually thought to myself, “What annoying person picked all of this chirrupy music for a dismal Monday morning?”
OK, so we all know how cool the MET Opera at the movies is. And that Sabres game they played outside in the snow was super-sweet. The San Francisco Opera jumped on these two ideas, and decided to simulcast opera performances in the Giants' baseball stadium. This all got me thinking about other ways we could supersize classical music...
Young people hate opera. No, no--young people totally dig opera! Whatever: young people should like opera because it's good for them. You're all wrong: opera's just completely dead.