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Archive for June, 2008

QuoteLet’s … imagine one of Brahms’s piano concertos played on a harpsichord.   Absurd idea — but is it any more absurd than Bach’s harpsichord concertos played on the modern grand?

  – Oboist Bruce Haynes, The End of Early Music
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Nonclassical at Macbeth (Photo: The Times of London)On Sunday, the 4th of May (2008), the Chiara String Quartet performed Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms in Wooster’s Gault Recital Hall as part of the Wooster Chamber Music Series. Chiara also played the previous Saturday evening — but not in Gault. Their 3 May concert was at Cleveland’s jazz club, Nighttown.

As far as I know, cellist Matt Haimovitz was one of the first fairly recognizable names in classical music to perform in these nontraditional venues, where the concert hall’s hushed, attentive audience is definitely not an expectation.

Classical without the quiet is the norm for a series at an East London club, Macbeth. The very name of the series, Nonclassical, thumbs its nose at most music lovers’ expectations. Yet the promoter behind this venture comes to it with a musical pedigree — he is the grandson of composer Sergei Prokofiev.

Nonclassical is just one of many efforts to round up younger, trendier audiences for classical music. As The Times of London reports, there have been and are other similar efforts (with varying degrees of success) in the UK.

Nor is the UK alone. In a piece published Sunday (15 June 2008), The New York Times lists Barbès in Brooklyn, Spiegeltent at the South Street Seaport, the Brooklyn Lyceum, Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village, Joe’s Pub in the East Village, and about a half a dozen others.

The New York Times reports that their city, too, has a brand-new entry in the club-with-classical club: Le Poisson Rouge, on Bleecker Street. Its proprietors are classical musicians, though not with quite the family ties of Nonclassical’s. Their first classical performer will be the trendy Bach Goldberg Variations interpreter, Simone Dinnerstein; in addition to a helping of the Goldbergs, she’ll serve up some George Crumb.

Read more:

Nonclassical, in The Times of London

Le Poisson Rouge, in The New York Times (Registration may be required)

Also in WKSU Classical: Taking It to the Streets

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How much longer can we count on finding racks of CDs at our local shops – or even at the webshops? I have to wonder when the Gustavo Dudamelcurrent number one classical recording on the Billboard Classical chart is a release presently available only as a digital download. It’s the DG Concerts release of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The conductor is the much-discussed young Venezuelan, Gustavo Dudamel, who will take over that orchestra as music director in 2009.

DG Concerts is Deutsche Grammophon’s download label. Although DG have garnered some press for their non-DRM releases of some recordings, the Dudamel recording appears to be available only through Itunes. Those of us who prefer our music downloads unencumbered by use restrictions are apparently out of luck.

It’s not clear whether DG will ever issue the Dudamel Symphonie Fantastique on CD, but it’s hard to imagine that they’d pass up the additional revenue from those who prefer the older format’s better sound and greater flexibility. Despite classical downloads’ sales growth, classical CD sales are still holding up appreciably better than those of pop CDs.

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QuoteI didn’t know so many cliches existed until the last half-hour.

  – Composer Harrison Birtwistle

(Birtwistle was addressing an assemblage of mostly pop and top-40 musicians as he accepted a lifetime achievement award from the Ivor Novello Awards.)

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Columbus Symphony performs outdoors in better times (Photo: discoverohio.com)In the latest chapter of the ongoing struggles over the Columbus Symphony’s future, the orchestra is attempting to cancel its labor contract with the musicians. Douglas Fisher, the musicians’ union’s president, says the orchestra doesn’t have the authority to do so.

The orchestra says that it will incur a US$1.3 million deficit if it continues to pay the players beyond the end of the orchestra’s regular indoor season (which concluded end May). The orchestra’s outdoor summer concerts have already been given the axe for this year, and next season’s concerts are also endangered.

More from the Columbus Dispatch.

Columbus’s weekly The Other Paper muses on the origins of the problem.

Also see earlier WKSU Classical stories:

Back to the Bargaining Table

Another Chance for Columbus Symphony?

A Loss for Ohio’s Arts Scene

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