News, Commentary on Classical Music, Jazz, Theater, Dance & More

Steve Nagel

Sheet Music at Frank Music Company

How the 'Now' Generation Caused the Death of Sheet Music Retail >>

The encroaching "paperless society", while stubborn and elusive, has stepped forward to deliver a devastating blow. Frank Music, the last devoted sheet music retail store in New York City, has closed down. It had a 78-year run. As The Guardian's virtual obituary for the shop reveals, it met with a sorrowful end. Pitifully recalling the days in which a single customer failed to enter the shop, the aged booksellers made no pretenses about their final day in business: there was no silver lining.

Lehnhoff's 'Der Freischütz'

German Opera Director Nikolaus Lehnhoff, Known for Janáček Stagings, Dead at 76 >>

Opera Director Nikolaus Lehnhoff died last Saturday, at age 76, according the German news agency DPA. Known most recently for bringing the characters and music of Leos Janáček new life with his directing talent and reviving the creative spirit of the East Sussex Opera House, Expatica reported that Lehnhoff was respected for his "swish, elegant, but always thought-provoking stagings that avoided some of the provocative excesses of some of his more controversial colleagues."

Synchromy

L.A.’s ‘Synchromy’ Collective Helps Composers Gain Visibility >>

The west coast is growing its very own Tanglewood. Based more on the community and less on the training, it's called Synchromy and is based in Los Angeles. Playing off the regional attitude, Synchromy's slogan, "new music, locally grown," pretty much says it all. The organization offers local musicians and composers the chance to organize, find work, gain an audience, and hone their craft in a body of their peers.

Joan Tower

New Music Box Shares Live Event Online, Features Artists Tower, Katana and Roberts >>

Just recently, New Music Box shared three 20-minute composer video segments dating back to its May 19th live event. This event was a first for the composer-centric organization, which has already shared the insights of many composers in its archives in order to motivate aspiring artists and champion upcoming ones. The three artists featured in these live segments are Gabriel Kahane, Matana Roberts, and Joan Tower.

Iron Maiden on Stage

Tipper Gore Was Wrong, 1980s Metal-Heads Now Well-Adjusted Adults >>

Sorry Tipper Gore, you were wrong. Among the many stereotypes linking certain styles of music with their target audiences was the notion that metal-heads of 1980s were a rebellious youth headed for a troubled, drug-addled future. Now, a recently published study on the present status of this demographic has proven to be a pride-swallowing revelation for those who created the stereotypes.

Mashup Masterclass

OUPblog Claims ‘Mashup Music’ is Performance, not Composition >>

Not to spark another "what is art?" debate, but OUPblog has put forth a striking allegation against 'mashup music', questioning the practice not just in terms of crediting the original artists, but even its status as a true composition. Using examples from prominent mashup artists, such as Danger Mouse's Grey Album mashup of Jay Z and Beatles tracks, OUPblog digs into the nature of what a mashup track really is, how it's being regarded in the music community, and the ongoing debate as to who takes the credit.

Wallace Hartley's 'Titanic' Violin

Wallace Hartley’s ‘Titanic’ Violin Soon to be Displayed >>

Among the noblest stories re-told from the sinking of the 'Titanic' is that of ship violinist Wallace Hartley and his band's commitment to "play on" while the ship sank around them. What may surprise people, however, is that Hartley's famed violin is confirmed to exist, in reasonable condition, and will be placed on display at two 'U.S. Titanic'Museum Attractions in 2016.

The British Library

The British Library’s ‘Save Our Sounds’ Program Creates Directory of UK Sound Collections >>

The long-feared deterioration of the world's sound collections is a coming to a head with the British Library's last-ditch initiative called "Save Our Sounds". The initiative began in January 2015 with a survey that called upon archivists from across the UK to report their sound collections to the British Library before the ravages of time can further mar the fragile media formats.

Violin Practice

String Musicians Turn to the Mirror for Practice Perspective and Help >>

Recently, Elaine Fine of Musical Assumptions (an invaluable blog for professional musicians), has advocated a practice method for string players that, quite literally, changes their perspective. In order to better observe one's fingering at a profile when playing the violin, she proposes the use of a tilted mirror that aims toward the neck of the instrument.

Figaro from 'Barber of Seville'

Salzburg Fest Adapts ‘Barber of Seville’ for Children >>

Members of the Young Singers Project may have finally found a remedy opera's reputation for standoffishness with their unique adaptation of Rossini's 'Barber of Seville' for children as young as four years old. The Salzburg Festival, a staple of Austrian cultural heritage since the 1920s, created the Young Singers Project in 2008 as an environment where young artists can hone their craft.

Black Violin at Summer Groove

LIVE REVIEW: Classical Hip-Hop Fusion Duo Black Violin Sweep the Rockwood >>

Steeped in classical training and glued to the stage---they noted that their 8/17 show at the Rockwood Music Hall was their 103rd of the year---it would be inaccurate to say that Black Violin is "throwing out the rulebook". Still, the impish delight with which Kev Marcus hyped his audience on Monday night suggested an insatiable penchant for mocking expectations.

Moog Synthesizer

Producer Craig Leon Releases ‘Bach to Moog’ Through Sony Classical >>

For the tenth anniversary of Dr. Robert Moog's death, Moog Music Inc. has rebuilt the original large format modular synthesizer (or 'System 55'), and has staged a limited re-release of its vintage equipment down to its vintage specifications. Taking advantage of this opportunity, composer and producer Craig Leon has worked with Sony Classical to orchestrate the works of Bach for an electronic release called 'Bach to Moog'.

University of Texas Medical Branch

Medical Study Suggests Music During Surgery Improves Accuracy >>

Lying on the surgeon's table with an anesthetic rolling through our veins is likely one of our most vulnerable positions. All bets behind us, we must trust the surgeon to do the work they've been trained to do and the medical staff to make the surgeons as comfortable as possible to better guide their steady hand. While a soothing session of music during surgery is still debated for possible healing effects on the unconscious patient, this new medical study by the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston suggests that music could be more beneficial to the surgeon in terms of improving performance.

Denise Burt's

NPR Exhibit Chronicles Denise Burt's Album Cover Art Contributions >>

A strange challenge behind album cover artists and graphic designers like Denise Burt is to capture (or at least pique curiosity in) one artistic medium through the use of another---one which the former was designed to be mostly independent from. While those with synesthesia might argue that the two are hardly mutually exclusive items, visual art can often belie the very nature of music itself.

Classicalite's Guide to (What's Left) of Mostly Mozart at Lincoln Center

Classicalite's Guide to (What's Left) of Mostly Mozart at Lincoln Center >>

Alas, we are closing in on the final weeks of this summer's Mostly Mozart Festival. Fear not, though, Classicalites. The home stretch of Mostly Mozarts past there at Lincoln Center have always been filled with must-hear performers in don't-miss programming, and this 2015 iteration is hardly going out with a whimper. Case in point: the much-awaited American stage premiere of British composer George Benjamin's love-hate opera, 'Written on Skin.' Starring Barbara Hannigan and Christopher Purves in the viscerally erotic roles they, themselves, originated, outgoing New York Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert leads the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in what's fast becoming the most revered English-language opera in some two decades.

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