Most of us C-lites have probably been exposed to the stereotype: classical music is boring, wearisome, aged, not hip. Although this stereotype is a skin-deep assessment, the bad rap long endured by the classical community is at last simmering down, in part owed to a generation of positive internet marketing. Nevertheless, some members of the community are arguing that a lasting revitalisation of classical music requires a more aggressive marketing strategy --- In this case, a name change. Could the term "composed music" perhaps win over more hearts and minds? Music journalist/speaker Craig Havighurst seems to think so.
A common issue that arrises for parents who genuinely want a musical life for their child is the feeling of helplessness against the often-intimidating and hardly standardized world of music instruction. If the parents aren't musically inclined themselves, choosing the right teacher for the right price (and verifying their quality), can be a daunting task. If the child isn't progressing, who's to blame, the child or the teacher? TheMusicTeach, a helpful music blog catered to anyone mired in the world of music education, wrote an insightful piece that challenges norms, and suggests that parents who oversee their children's music lessons may see improved focus.
As historical instruments go, interest at auction ranges from the prestige of an instrument's previous owner to the mileage of the instrument itself. Recently, a weathered and war-weary cello that belonged to a fallen soldier was, at auction, sold for £6,000. The cello had survived traveling to the south of Africa during the 19th Century's bloody Anglo-Zulu Wars.
Every few months, the same issue is called into question. The Mozart theory. We've all read the stats: playing Mozart--or any piece of music--to an unborn baby could make them smarter, more agile, more emotionally intelligent, etc. In reality, every time the subject comes up, a barrage of counter-studies are published to dispel these theories as bogus or at least highly subjective. Nevertheless, the myth continues to survive and thrive on an irresistible marketing trap fueled by mothers who are determined to dote on their child before they're even born. Enter the Babypod, the world's first "intra-vaginal speaker designed to broadcast music inside the womb to an unborn baby.” On December 29th, Spanish Singer Soraya performed a concert to market the device to prospective moms.
On January 19th, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts announced its 2016 award recipients. Although this year the FCA has honored a series of artists in a variety of categories and disciplines, perhaps the most prestigious of FCA's awards, the John Cage Award, was presented to composer and sound artist Joan La Barbara. The biennial award, which is accompanied by a $50,000 prize from the FCA, is awarded to visionary artists and composers who reflect the "spirit of John Cage". Joan La Barbara receives the $50,000 cash prize as per the John Cage Award 2016 for her use of extended vocal technique in both her compositions and premieres of notable works.
As a classical guitarist, Miloš Karadaglić was reared in the strict and serious tradition of Bach, Segovia, and other classical guitar masters. But there's a branch of modern music in which he experiences similar challenges and just as rewarding of an experience. His latest project, Blackbird - The Beatles Album, released on January 15th, 2016, reflects his BBC claim: that "the Beatles are as important as Bach" when it comes to western music canon. In comparing the Beatles to Bach (whose lute suites are some of the most challenging works for modern guitar), Miloš assured the BBC that he was "never worried" his Beatles project would become "something light - because I'm not light, nor is the music."
Who says that orchestras belong in the pit, or even on stage? Let's let them outside for a bit! In London (a city well-known for it's active street-side performance atmosphere, the gears are in motion to allow a brand new crowd-sourced, crowd-comprised orchestra to roam the streets of London and set up shop at various public squares throughout the summer. The goal of the orchestra, according to CMuse, is to "bring classical music to everyone". The new Street Orchestra of London, a project of the Nonclassical label, was inspired by the Amsterdam Ricciotti Ensemble, whose former director now works with Nonclassical.
What do you do when you find a $300,000 Steinway piano from 1893 in a community hall cupboard? You play it, of course! That's what happened Saturday, Jan 23rd at the Gaiety Theater in Wairoa, New Zealand, after American-born jazz pianist David Paquette was asked to arrange a concert in the small New Zealand town, but needed a piano for the event. Told by the town council that there was an old piano hidden away in the community hall, Paquette did not expect to find a barely-used 8 ft. grand intended for concert hall use.
The handwriting of Beethoven can be indentified by its furious and sloppy appearance. Hardly meant for future generations to admire, notation was an inconvenience to Beethoven---a means to capture music as quickly as it came to him. To composers and appraisers like Brendan Ryan, Beethoven's handwriting is, as he put it, "unmistakable", but for homeowners who might not know the value of their basement treasure troves, his handwriting could easily be dismissed as worthless chicken scratch. In the case of a Greenwich, Connecticut homeowner, who had originally hired Ryan to appraise furniture and miscellaneous items, fortune stumbled their way as Ryan unexpectedly glanced upon a Beethoven sketch leaf of the King Stephan Overture (König Stephan) hanging on their wall.
For aspiring conductors in the Berlin region (or with the means to travel), an opportunity to learn from the best in the business is around the corner. American conductor Kenneth Kiesler will be leading the 20th International Masterclass for Orchestral and Choir Conductors in May 2016, with applications now being accepted. An icon in the world of conducting, Maestro Kiesler's orchestra credits are too long to list. As director of the IMB program (International Masterclasses Berlin), the Grammy-nominated conductor and recipient of the 2011 American Prize in Conducting will be arriving at the St. Lukas Church, Berlin in May to extend his years of experience to a lucky few, in a public context. The repertoire will focus on Händel and Mozart.
The always-inspiring BBC Proms---the eight-week series of summer classical concerts held in the Royal Albert Hall---has announced that it will continue its popular Ten Pieces concerts, which, last year, aimed to bring primary school children in contact with classical music. The initiative was held to be a success for young audiences in 2015, and now the BBC Proms 2016 intends to continue the "new tradition" by encouraging secondary school students to respond to a selection of ten classical pieces in a manner in which they see fit.
The path to a musical career is rarely clear-cut, but one can certainly guess at its magnetism in order to have pulled French Nigerian scientist-turned-opera soprano Omo Bello away from such a distant nation and towards an equally distant career choice. The BBC recently conducted a profile of the emerging talent along with her curious backstory. According to the BBC, Omo Bello started her career studying to become a geneticist in her native Nigeria until 2006 when she was awarded a scholarship to train as an opera singer in France. From there, her career blossomed into what has now made her the "most sought-after" opera soprano in the field today.
Although classical concerts are typically the privilege of paying customers – and, by definition, a matter of physical attendance – London's Wigmore Hall has adopted a more altruistic approach in a program that caters to the widest audience possible without charging a dime. The Wigmore Hall live streaming concert on January 28th, 8pm GMT (to inaugurate their 2016-2017 season) will be the first of a new series of streamed concerts for the Wigmore. It will feature the performances of Berlin’s Armida Quartet, Soprano Anna Lucia Richter, Pianist Michael Gees, and Baritone Andrè Schuen, and Pianist Daniel Heide.
After many years buried deep in the stacks of the University of Toronto's Faculty of Music Library, an important piece of musical heritage has just been rediscovered. The lost violin concerto of Norwegian composer Johan Halvorsen (1864-1935) -- thought to be either lost or destroyed for over a century -- was reported to have turned up in storage at the Faculty of Music Library with its original dedication to world-famous Canadian violinist Kathleen Parlow (1890-1963) inscribed on the cover.
As part of Lincoln Center's 50th Great Performers season, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra's "All-Tchaikovsky" visit to David Geffen Hall on January 6th brought with it a program showcasing two of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's most beloved works (three, in fact, if the encore is to be counted): his 'Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor', his 'Symphony No. 5 in E minor', and, for the unexpected encore, the never-failing, “Waltz of the Flowers” from The Nutcracker.