Tag Archives: contemporary music

015//More things to more people

Hiatus, over! Well, it was never officially taken, but that’s how life goes. After a fairly uneventful end of summer, the semester steams ahead. Projects and deadlines are looming ahead and I’m trying to stay on top of things and get ’em done. (I’m tragically trying to recreate the post I had half way finished, but didn’t save, since there’s no option in the “quick” post module…grrrr.)

Two weeks ago, I went to a really interesting discussion at Harvard. The panel was: Joseph Horowitz, Mark Volpe, Jeremy Eichler,  and Lloyd Schwartz. Respectively, they are a historian, managing director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and two music critics. The alarmist title to the discussion was <<Classical Music in Crisis.>> Don’t worry, the panelists and hosts also denounced it as such. The biggest point that all the panelists could agree upon was that classical music is NOT for the privileged or hyper educated crowd—it needs to be, as Eichler stated, “more things to more people.” Bingo! However, the steps to make it such are somewhat nebulous. Horowitz is a promoter of combining performances and education simultaneously. He has led very successful and engaging programs that fuse literature and visual art with music. His big push is for an interdisciplinary approach of spreading classical music around. Schwartz, one of the music critics, is also for education, but doesn’t want “learning thrown at him.” An interesting take on the situation for sure…how much do we need to be extolling the virtues of classical music? It should be self evident, but it’s not, in many cases. I’m don’t think it’s from lack of interest, but from lack of exposure and opportunities. But creating those opportunities isn’t easy either…

Basically, it boils down to how music affects people, how it changes people, how it’s all about relationships. Horowitz said the orchestra’s circle needs to expand—how to do it it is the big question. This presents a lot of food for thought. One interesting and interdisciplinary (or inter-genre) approach is an album of remixed Philip Glass compositions. More information can be found here (http://philipglassrework.com/). I really liked the two sample tracks, so much that I even splurged and bought the special “glass” LP! This is more of a commercial/popular approach to spreading classical music, but it’s a start. I don’t think there’s one solid answer: solutions will be fluid, personal and localized. Suggest a favorite symphony to someone who’s never explored classical music, or drag (er, invite) friends to an afternoon concert. A lot of universities and conservatories give free/donation based/very reasonably priced recitals and concerts. Take advantage of what your city/local schools/youth orchestras are offering—it’ll always be more than expected!

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003/Wednesday

Ah, Wednesday—best day of the week, aside from Friday. Once you get over this hump, you’re almost all set!

Last Friday night, I went to the Institute of Contemporary Art (that’d be the ICA) to see in vain, a piece by Georg Freidrich Haas. I didn’t know what to expect, other than some interesting light-work. One thing I love about contemporary music is its power to make you think; it’s a completely different stream of thoughts than a classical-era symphony. The instrumentation was interesting: fairly string heavy, but with the inclusion of an accordion! I’m not sure if Haas intentionally wrote the accordion to be so prominent, but I kept finding myself drawn to that sound. Regardless, the piece was interesting: jarring, provocative, soothing at times…all those juxtapositions that contemporary music can be. The program notes (provided by the performing group, Sound Icon of Boston) emphasizes that this musical experience “…grows and re-circulates and gradually acquires new meaning in which light and dark become like sound and silence.” The use of light was powerful—I almost never actively listen to music in the dark. In doing a further research on Haas, I found an interesting article from Alex Ross (found here: http://www.therestisnoise.com/2010/11/georg-friedrich-haas.html). But I like that he mentions the piece has “extreme demands on players and the audience,” so much so that the audience was forced to sign a waiver so the venue wouldn’t be legally responsible. I guess it was because Haas explicitly asked all the lights in the venue to be dimmed, even the emergency ones; but it almost seem like the venue didn’t want to be responsible for the aftermath of the piece–the thoughts or premonitions one had after leaving the concert. Regardless, all live music is exhilarating and really wakes me up. Sometimes it wakes up my mind, my body, my heart…I always want to hear more!

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