No conversation about music—about any art form, for that matter—gets very far these days without addressing the impact, potential and pitfalls of technology. From high- definition broadcasts of live performances, to an audience tuned in to Facebook, Twitter and other social media, classical music must find its place in an increasingly digital community. This podcast was developed from our October 2011 live event.
The second chapter in our podcast series is about personal stories, those intimate connections between a student and a teacher that, like a pebble in a pond, send waves radiating outward. Few stories are more compelling or influential than that of Gustavo Dudamel, the Venezuelan-born conductor—and now Music Director of the Los Angeles Philarhmonic—who found his own pebble-in-the-pond experience in his home country’s visionary music education and social program, El Sistema. This podcast was developed from our October 2011 live event.
We’re pleased to bring you the first in a series of podcasts developed from our live events and behind-the-scenes conversations with musicians, scholars, composers, executives, critics and technologists.
This first chapter is drawn from the October 23 public Forum during the Los Angeles Philharmonic residency and a later interview with Alan Gilbert, Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. It addresses the historical and cultural roots of American orchestras and how those traditions impact and inform an orchestra’s place in the contemporary American community.
Chapter One: Historic Context of the American Orchestra
What follows is a live blog from our chat with leaders from the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday, December 7, 2011. Participants included:
Mark Volpe, Managing Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra Anthony Fogg, Artistic Administrator of the Boston Symphony Orchestra James Sommerville, Principal Horn of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Canada Ludovic Morlot, Music Director of the Seattle Symphony and former Assistant Conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra John Harbison, composer and chair of the composition program at the Tanglewood Music Center (more…)
One last video from our October 23rd event in San Francisco is now available for viewing — the roundtable discussion and Q&A featuring our six Spotlight Conversation participants.
From left to right that’s Steven Winn, San Francisco arts journalist and critic; Amos Yang, Assistant Principal Cellist, San Francisco Symphony, and alumnus, San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra; Neil Harris, Professor of History and Art History, University of Chicago; Jesse Rosen, President/CEO, League of American Orchestras; Afa Sadykhly Dworkin, VP/Artistic Director, Sphinx Organization; Mark Clague, Professor of Music, University of Michigan.
One of my favorite moments is near the end, when a woman prefaces her question by saying she has attended symphonic concerts for 75 years. The audience bursts into applause but then gasps as she continues on to her question saying, “If you’d permit me to opine about music… sound without melody is noise.” In regards to programming, “where does the person who buys the ticket get to have a say?” I really hope she comes back for our next event Talking About Creativity.
Steven Winn, co-moderator of our live events in San Francisco, examines one particular part of the classical music concert ritual — the entrance. Who exactly should we be applauding for?
I knew there was something I liked about the Mariinsky Orchestra filing onstage together at Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall, where the ensemble played three knockout Tchaikovsky programs last month. But it took eavesdropping on the couple behind me one night to pin down what the appeal was.
It’s just good theater, I’ve always thought. Good showmanship. Leave the stage empty, bring down the lights, then start the stage-filling parade to a steady rumble of applause. The tactic seems much sharper than the casual gathering of forces most American orchestras employ. (more…)
Another video from our live “Talking About Community” event on Sunday: Afa Sadykhly Dworkin, VP/Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization and Amos Yang, Assistant Principal Cellist, San Francisco Symphony, and alumnus, San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, in conversation with Steven Winn, San Francisco arts journalist and critic. It’s an interesting dialogue about some of the societal pressures that encourage kids to participate, or not participate, in classical music.
Steven Winn, arts journalist and critic, will be co-moderating our live events in San Francisco. In this post, he explores the nature of this under-taking and summarizes the American Orchestra Forum’s ultimate goal. “It’s not settled answers we’re after, but questions, even unsettling ones, that lead to more inquiry, conversation and curiosity. And then lead us back, when the talking ends, to the music.”
Any performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 is a major communal undertaking. Ninety-five minutes of music (with no intermission), ranging from the raucous to the sublime, that requires a massive orchestral ensemble, a women’s chorus, a girl’s chorus and a vocal soloist. Not to mention an audience willing and ready to come along for the long and twisting ride. It may take a village to raise a child, but you need good-sized city to pull off Mahler’s Third and make it work.
I happened to sit a whole closer to the stage than I normally do on Sept. 21, when Michael Tilson Thomas conducted the San Francisco Symphony’s first Mahler 3 in nine years. From my fifth row orchestra seat the marvel of all those musicians (and listeners) pulling together seemed more marvelous – and unlikely – than ever. Things that meld, aurally and visually from a distance, are riskier, more combustive and febrile up close. (more…)
In this post,Steven Winn— arts journalist, critic and co-moderator of our live events in San Francisco — explores some of the questions we’ll be asking as part of the American Orchestra Forum.
Try talking about this topic without mentioning technology in the first 30 seconds. Then try saying something meaningful about where that’s taking us. Since no one saw Facebook or Twitter coming, no one knows what’s coming – or going away – next. Measure by measure commentary streaming along with a concert? Synesthesia devices that translate music into images? Electronics that become so sophisticated and life-like that concert halls go the way of single-screen move theaters?
The rise of a visual culture, and the change in the way people relate to the printed word, does seem worth musing on. Will music making, as MTT is exploring in Miami, become more of a visual experience over time? Less mediated or explicated by prose? Will audiences become more active listeners, shaping and guiding what gets played and how they experience it? Will they become more autonomous and less likely to gather for a concert at a set time and remain in their assigned seats in an auditorium for two hours? Or will they crave that very thing in a micro-segmented world?
What’s on your iPod? We know it’s not just the classical warhorses. Here Steven Winn— arts journalist, critic and co-moderator of our live events in San Francisco — poses some of the questions we’ll be asking about creativity as part of the American Orchestra Forum.
For most orchestra patrons, “tradition” means music they know (or that sounds familiar) and “innovation” is music they don’t. Is the 20th century still the great dividing line? If so why?
Has the iPod Age, where Rachmaninoff and rap can live side by side inside anyone’s ear buds, made the boundaries between “popular” and “classical” obsolete? Has music become so completely portable, pervasive, fragmented and fungible that we actually hear differently now? If Google is making us stupid, or at least changing the way we think (or don’t), as some cultural critics claim, have we become different kinds of listeners as well? Is Mahler just too long for our short attention spans? Or is that exactly what we need because of it?
Might the punchier popular forms begin to influence the kind of music that composers write? Are they thinking more about venues like nightclubs and alternative spaces where the music might be performed (and received in a different way, by people who might be drinking and talking)? Do composers think about (and “use”) popular forms the way Gershwin or Milhaud did? How has irony and culture of coolness changed the temperature for contemporary composers?