I have a confession to make: I have a terrible memory. Well, for some things, anyway. I can name at least three movies and TV shows that Mary McDonnell has been in off the top of my head (Evidence of Blood, Donnie Darko, Battlestar Galactica), and rattle off the names of the seven Harry Potter books, but you take away that Beethoven piano score that I’ve been playing from since I was 14, and my fingers freeze on the keyboard.
Outreach and innovation are two buzzwords that pop up again and again in relation to established “classical” music institutions such as symphony orchestras and opera companies. In an effort to build younger audiences, many of these institutions have introduced new programs that attempt to do away with the of the concert-going experience, such as expensive tickets or the need for a certain type of attire, that might discourage younger or less experienced listeners from attending.
2012 has been a poignant year for avant-garde music. German composer Hans Werner Henze passed away in October at age 86; a little over a week later American composer Elliott Carter passed away at the age of 103. The late John Cage was, as Musical America put it, “feted beyond his own wildest dreams” this year in celebration of his birth centenary. All three of these composers wrote music that challenged listeners to reconsider the boundaries of what qualifies as music.
November is International Drum Month, so declared by the Percussion Marketing Council. Percussionists are often the most underrated performers in the world of music, perhaps because specialized instruments aren’t strictly necessary: anyone with an upturned bucket or even just two hands to clap can engage in percussion pretty much anywhere. But drumming is harder than it looks.
Imagine yourself in a lofty cathedral, silver voices echoing off of vaulted stone, with a slight chill in the close air. Are you there? Ok, now you’re ready for the music of English composer John Taverner. Touted as the most influential composer of his time, Taverner (c.1490-1545) was and continues to be admired for his skill in the creation of polyphonic (‘many-voiced’) music — that is, independent musical lines that layer on top of each other in a way that sounds harmonious; the lines fit together without losing any of their individuality.
Today marks the 55th anniversary of the Broadway premiere of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. A racially charged retelling of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story is set in the “blighted” West Side of 1950s Manhattan, the potent themes of star-crossed love and gang rivalry successfully translated from 16th century Italy to 20th century New York by book-writer Arthur Laurents and lyricist Steven Sondheim.
By Meghann Wilhoite
It’s difficult to pin a label onto John Zorn. Active since the early 70s, Zorn has effectively woven his peculiar style of musical experimentation into the fabric of New York City’s downtown scene. His work—in the general sense of the word—has varied from philanthropic to shocking, with a curatorial bent that has often held quite a bit of sway.
By Meghann Wilhoite
Whenever I tell people I’m an organist, I usually get one of two reactions. The person I’m talking to hunches over and sings the formidable opening notes of J.S. Bach’s D minor prelude; or, the person relates the organ’s slumberous effect during seemingly interminable church services.
You may not have known it, but July was a pretty stressful month for the composers of this world. Or at least several thousand of them. The life of Sibelius, one of the leading music notation software programs, has seemingly come under threat of dissipation as Avid (who owns the software) has recently shut down Sibelius’ UK office, simultaneously laying off the software’s core development team.