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Category: Classical Music

Baumol’s Cost Disease Is Killing Me!

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My Editor’s Choice post this time around is a blog/article that was just published a few days ago. It centers around Baumol’s curse. If you aren’t familiar with that term you will be after you read this article by Duncan Webb. And if you’re really into it you can find it discussed in eight different

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The Struggle of Harmony and Invention

0 Tony Woodcock

The concert was a joy from start to finish. Aisslinn is not just a gifted Baroque violinist playing with true style and power, but a great performer and communicator whose energy and passion for the music set the audience alight

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Polly Kahn Describes Community Outreach

0 Ann Drinan

Polly Kahn recently stepped down from her position as Vice President and Leadership Development  at the League of American Orchestras after 14 years of devoted service. (She hasn’t left the orchestra field, however; I’m certain we will all benefit from her vision and wisdom in the future.) Polly was immersed in training individuals to make

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The Third Estate

1 Peter Sachon

If one wishes to contribute to the conversation about how to expand the audience base for American orchestras, then one must talk about what those orchestras are presenting — and right now that’s a taboo subject. The fact is that the discussion about WHAT exactly orchestras are presenting has never taken place. The arbitrary distinction

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Looking for Perfection in an Imperfect Process

0 Kayleigh Miller

We recognize that the use of beta-blockers by musicians is a serious and controversial topic.  Nonetheless, we feel it is better to discuss it than to pretend that it doesn’t exist.  We neither condone or condemn the use of beta-blockers, but wish to have an objective discussion about its use.  Feel free to join the

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New Classical Music Blog by Steve Metcalf

0 Ann Drinan

I’d like to call your attention to a new weekly blog post by a renowned name in classical music writing. Steve Metcalf, former music critic of the Hartford Courant and curator of the Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series at The Hartt School, has started writing a weekly blog on classical music for Hartford’s local NPR station,

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Be An Entrepreneur! Get Outside Your Comfort Zone!

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How many times have we musicians heard those phrases? Do they mean that we should try to be like Janice Martin, the violinist who plays while hanging upside down?  My most recent experience is not quite that dramatic….. “What time is the lunch break?”  I asked the stage manager, knowing that he was the one

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You Are Your Best Audience

0 Elizabeth Erenberg

Today’s post is the fourth post in our August Guest Blog Series!  Elizabeth Erenberg is a flutist and co-founder of the website www.Musicovation.com, a site dedicated to sharing and generating positive music news.  In the fluidity that is a music career, I define myself differently almost every day. Today, I am a blogger. Last week,

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Donald Rosenberg’s Take on “Spring for Music”

0 Ann Drinan

In the spring issue of Symphony magazine, Don Rosenberg, former music critic of the The Cleveland Plain Dealer and the newly-appointed editor of The Magazine of Early Music America wrote a very interesting overview of the “Spring for Music” (S4M) Festival, that presented its final week of concerts this past May at Carnegie Hall, contrasting

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Well-Traveled Baggage: A Seasoned Violinist Gets Sentimental about his BSO Experience

0 Gerald Elias

I don’t generally get maudlin over luggage. But after the final bows of Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Asia tour in May, I locked my wardrobe trunk and gave it an affectionate pat. This tour may well have been the brass-clad behemoth’s swansong. Built like fortresses, BSO’s 25 trunks could last forever. Lined up backstage like dominoes,

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Dominant and Tonic: Rethinking the Role of the Music Director

0 Robert Levine

The recent death of Lorin Maazel caused me to remember an article I wrote for Harmony in 2001 about the role of the Music Director, in part because his selection as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic was discussed in the article. Maazel was, with Bernstein, one of the very first Americans to be

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Can We Sell Classical Music By Making it “Cool”?

1 Michael Drapkin

I was recently notified about an upcoming webinar being put on by APAP (Association of Performing Arts Presenters) called “The Classical Music ‘Cool’ Factor.”  It includes the following discussion topics: Show today’s audiences the importance of classical music Make contemporary repertoire meaningful Learn from past successes and challenges I thought about it, and it raised

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Virtual Wagner done right

0 Robert Levine

(Received in my Oggle email inbox; I can’t vouch for its veracity.) The Long (Conn.) Wagner Festival announces its campaign on PrickStarter to fund an exciting new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, and we need your help! This innovative production will be done with a virtual conductor (MaestroData – patent pending) and fully animated CGI

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League Announces 2013-2014 ASCAP Awards

0 Ann Drinan

League of American Orchestras Announces 2013-14 ASCAP Awards For Adventurous Programming The League of American Orchestras’ annual conference is taking place in Seattle this week. The League has announced the winners of this year’s ASCAP awards for adventurous programming. Their press release also includes some interesting statistics about past winners. 27 Orchestras Honored 27 American

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Newsflash: conductor doesn’t like unions

3 Robert Levine

In this week’s edition of The New Yorker (paywalled, unfortunately) is a fascinating piece by Alex Ross on Iván Fischer, the Hungarian conductor and founder of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. While the piece focuses largely on his unhappiness with the current rightward lurch of Hungarian politics, Ross also reports on Fischer’s views on the orchestra

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Update on Ivory Ban

0 Ann Drinan

Last Thursday, May 15, 2014, the  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced changes intended to ease international travel with musical instruments under the new enforcement of the ban on bringing African ivory into the States. The recent policy decree banning the importation of African ivory caused great unintended consequences for traveling musicians whose instruments contain small

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A Look at Forte Notation Software, Plus a Free Giveaway!

5 Stephen Danyew

We are giving away one free download for Forte Premium, the top level product from Forte (retail price: $229)!  One winner will be chosen at random. Enter your name in the drawing up to three times – see details at the end of this post. Giveaway ends May 26, 2014. *UPDATE*: Congratulations to Jen Elle

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The Fallout from Obama’s Executive Order Concerning Ivory

1 Ann Drinan

At a seminar at Mondomusica New York on April 11, 2014, Heather Noonan of the League of American Orchestras joined with violin and bow makers, an international environmental expert, and government officials to discuss the recent tightened restrictions on bringing ivory into the US, resulting from an Obama Administration Executive Order issued on February 24,

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The Ivory Ban – Important Instrument Travel Information

3 Stephen Danyew

From the League of American Orchestras: “The recent Obama Administration effort to increase restrictions on travel and trade in African Elephant ivory has placed a new focus on long-existing, but largely unimplemented permitting rules for international travel with instruments that contain endangered species material.”  The League has published a helpful webpage with very detailed information

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Millennial America

2 Peter Sachon

Orchestras need to offer compelling reasons for millennials to make live symphonic music a part of their lives.  After all, millennials are the largest generation in human history, and at nearly 90 million people they will very soon make up the vast majority of our orchestras’ stakeholders, constituents, audience, staff members and supporters – and

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What the Great Strad Robbery means for the future

1 Robert Levine

Most readers of this blog have already heard of the events of last Monday here in Milwaukee. If you haven’t, the New York Times has a good summary: It should have been one of those nights musicians live for. Frank Almond, the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for nearly two decades, had just closed

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The ‘Firebird’ Strad

0 Gerald Elias

What if someone told you that you could have Luciano Pavarotti’s voice for a week?  I don’t mean singing Some Enchanted Evening in the shower. I mean really sound like Pavarotti. I had the equivalent experience last week. Maybe even better, if that’s possible. I got to perform on the 1718 ‘Firebird’ Stradivarius, one of the greatest

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Well… I Won’t Be Welcome There

0 Tony Woodcock

It has been said that though the "educational" kids’ concert is merely a symptom of the general malaise in programming and concert presentation in the main orchestral season. It seems to be down to asking what audience and audience development do we want?

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Corelli and the Elevator

0 Gerald Elias

Go for it. What would you say has been the most important invention over the past five hundred years or so?  The automobile? Nuclear power?  The microchip?  Sliced bread? My vote…(drum roll)…the elevator!  You scoff, but think about it.  Before the elevator, cities could only expand as far as their geographical limits, hoist themselves four

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Telling It Like It Is – An interview with Julie Landsman

0 Ann Drinan

Julie Landsman, French hornist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 25 years until her retirement in 2010, is the subject of a wonderful interview in Allegro, the  magazine of AFM local 802.  She explains how she developed her career plan: My first horn teacher was Mr. Howard Howard – yes that is his actual name!

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Wu Man and Her Pipa

0 Ann Drinan

The Hartford Symphony had opening night concerts this past Friday and Saturday, featuring our beautiful Austin organ with a Bach Toccata (we were joined by the Connecticut Youth Orchestra) and the Saint Saens Organ Symphony. But in between we played the Lou Harrison concerto for pipa and string orchestra, featuring Wu Man. It was a

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A Very Touching Moment

0 Robert Levine

Norman Lebrecht posted about an incident between the concertmaster of the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra and Daniel Barenboim during the recently concluded performance of Wagner’s Ring Cyle at this year’s Proms. It had a happy ending, though –  Barenboim addressed the audience after the final performance, thanking them, the orchestra, and the chorus, and ending by

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A Dance of Contradictions Celebrated by Bernstein

0 Jeffrey Johnson

Jeffrey Johnson is Professor of Music and Director of the Music Program at the University of Bridgeport, and the author of several books. He also serves as the classical music critic for the Hartford Courant and the Stamford Advocate. He recently sent Polyphonic this thoughtful post. – Ann Drinan, Senior Editor Instances of extended 5/4

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League Conference 2013: Learning from New Ensembles

0 Ann Drinan

Moderated by Norman Ryan, Vice President of Composers and Repertoire at Schott Music Corporation, the panel for this session included Amy Garapic, Co-Executive Director of Contemporaneous; Beth Perdue Outland, Vice President of Community Engagement  and Strategic Innovation, Indianapolis Symphony; Jen Richards, Managing Director, eighth blackbird; and Julia Rubio, Executive Director of the Black Pearl Chamber

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League Conference: A Conversation with Greg Sandow

0 Ann Drinan

In her introduction, Judith Kurnick, Vice President for Strategic Communications at the League, described Greg Sandow as a cultural critic, someone who could bring thinking across disciplines and share ideas that you would never have thought of before. He’s been a member of the graduate faculty at Juilliard for 17 years, and was involved in

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Annual Return to Boston Symphony Violin Section

0 Gerald Elias

Well, Cecily and I have begun our annual cross-country pilgrimage from Salt Lake City to Tanglewood.  This year, though, we’ve taken an unlikely circuitous route, stopping first in Portland and Seattle to visit our kids.  As we’re so far north already we’ve decided to make our trek through Canada, stopping at a Canadian Rockies hot

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Flora, Fauna, and Fiddles: Which Ones Require International Permits?

0 Stephen Danyew

An on-demand webinar is now available providing an introduction to the special permit process required for international travel with certain musical instruments containing protected species, such as ivory, rosewood, tortoise shell, and other material. On May 14th, the League of American Orchestras, in partnership with the American Federation of Musicians, The Recording Academy, and NAMM,

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Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at 100

1 Ann Drinan

2013 is the 100th anniversary of the premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and 2013 will see more than 270 performances of this iconic work of the early 20th century. Donald Rosenberg, long-time music critic and reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, has written a fascinating article about the Rite in this month’s Symphony magazine.

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Sir Colin Davis Remembered

0 Gerald Elias

Due to the tumult of the bombing at the Boston Marathon, the world all but overlooked the passing of Sir Colin Davis, one of the great conductors of the 20thcentury, who died at age 85 one day before that terrible event took place.  To list his resumé as the music director and guest conductor of

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Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and Musical DNA

0 Gerald Elias

Roland Tapley, Alfred Krips, Harry Dickson, George Zazofsky, Clarence Knudsen, Laszlo Nagy, Eugene Lehner, George Humphrey, Misha Nieland, Henry Portnoi, John Barwicki, James Pappoutsakis, Pasquale Cardillo, Bernard Zighera, Charlie Smith.  What do these 15 men have in common?  They were all musicians in the Boston Symphony who, with some 80 of their colleagues, performed the

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Getting to Know Maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin

0 Ann Drinan

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the new Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra who lives in Montreal, has been garnering lots of positive press, especially after his triumphant debut with the orchestra at Carnegie Hall on October 23 performing Verdi’s Requiem. He held the silence at the conclusion of the work for many, many seconds – so many that

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Gerald Elias: Violinist, Author & Blogger

0 Ann Drinan

Jerry Elias, former violinist with the Boston and Utah Symphonies and author of four murder mysteries with a blind violin pedagogue as the protagonist, has agreed to be an occasional blogger for Polyphonic. In addition to writing mysteries Jerry has much to say about classical music, performance practise, playing violin, and much more. His fourth

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Improving Parts (and Scores) for Orchestral Musicians

4 Steven Reading

After many wonderful years of horn playing with most (if not all) of the major orchestras in the UK, and touring all over the world with them, and others it was time to hang up my ‘hooter’ and think of something else to do. I have had an interest in computers and music typesetting for

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Breaking Up with Beethoven

0 Peter Sachon

Go out to hear an orchestra concert tonight and chances are the orchestra will be playing Beethoven.  The most recent Orchestra Repertoire Report, from ’09 – ’10, details that 137 orchestras in America performed Beethoven’s music 457 times that season.  His ninth, seventh, and fifth symphonies were ranked first, second and third respectively among the

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Kim Kashkashian, Violist Extraordinaire

0 Ann Drinan

As I’m sure most of you know, violist Kim Kashkashian won the Grammy for “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” for her album Kurtag and Ligeti of works by Hungarian composers Gyorgy Kurtag and Gyorgy Ligeti. When the announcement was made, a huge buzz went through the viola world — both because a violist had won the solo

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Fingerings

2 Ann Drinan

Perhaps my most intense pet peeve about playing in an orchestra has to do with fingerings. When one has to share a part with someone else, one expects a bit of respect. But, unfortunately, that often doesn’t happen — I have known stand partners to write fingerings over almost every note in the part. To

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Big Tent Thinking

3 Peter Sachon

History is filled with people who have tried to define art.  They have all been wrong, and there is no reason to suspect we are any better at it than they were. Changes to what experts call “Art” happen all the time.  There was a time when people questioned whether photography constituted fine art.  Some

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New York Times Sunday Dialogue: Is Classical Music Dying?

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About ten days ago, Les Dreyer, a retired violinist with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, had his letter to the editor published in the New York Times. Evidently his writing generated some interest—in fact, enough interest to be featured, along with 12 or so others in “Reader’s Reactions.” Mr. Dreyer’s letter is the focus of this

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Beyond Prestige

1 Peter Sachon

In the American system, the arts are funded mostly through indirect subsidies.  Our government’s tax policies toward charitable giving elicit billions of dollars in contributions annually.  The beauty of this system is that it not only allows the citizens to determine which not-for-profits benefit a civil society, but also it does not require the government

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Who’s Afraid of Popular Culture?

1 Peter Sachon

A recent missed opportunity for orchestras in New York City came in late October in the form of Comic Con.  The New York Comic Con is an annual New York City fan convention dedicated to comics, graphic novels, anime, manga, video games, toys, movies, and television.  Comic Con is an event that brings more than 100,000 people

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Hartford Symphony & Chorale on Chinese Television

0 Ann Drinan

I visited SymphonyNOW this morning, the League’s news website, and was pleased to see a video featuring my music director, Carolyn Kuan. I’m a violist with the Hartford Symphony in Connecticut. For our opening concert set last week, we performed four concerts of Beethoven’s Ninth paired with the Yellow River Cantata, written by Xian Xinghai

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Gold in them thar toobs?

0 Robert Levine

Think “orchestral institutions” as “artists” in this article and some interesting questions emerge: Are we finally entering the age of the digital cultural entrepreneur (DCE)? That is, has it now become possible for a gifted artist or writer to control the reins of his or her career from a laptop, scheduling gigs, selling books or

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When’s it OK to ask musicians to work for free?

0 Robert Levine

For sure it’s not when the person asking has raised $1.2 million for her new album but doesn’t want to pay back-up musicians on the road. Fortunately for all concerned, she (very grudgingly) changed her mind after considerable public outcry. Many AFM locals had a prohibition in their bylaws about members working for free, at

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Composer’s Corner with Jake Runestad

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It is a pleasure to be a guest blogger on Polyphonic.org and I am excited to share a behind-the-scenes look at my latest project: Dreams of the Fallen, an exciting new work for orchestra, chorus, and solo piano commissioned by a consortium of orchestras, private sector donors, and acclaimed pianist Jeffrey Biegel – a champion of

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Unleashed

0 Tony Woodcock

I am sure we’ve all had evenings when we arrive home from work exhausted and brain-dead, not having the energy or concentration to do anything more than switch on the TV and go semi-conscious.  And of course, sleep comes pretty … Continue reading

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Guest Bloggers: Quartetutopia by Nicholas Kitchen

0 Tony Woodcock

[Nick Kitchen is the founding first violinist of the Borromeo Quartet, ensemble in residence at NEC. In addition to receiving the Artist Diploma from NEC, the quartet has gone on to win the 2007 Avery Fisher Career Grant, Lincoln Center’s … Continue reading

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“Mr. Kreizsky, meet Mr. Woodsky”

0 Tony Woodcock

Yakov Kreitzberg, the Russian-born, American-trained conductor was Music Director and Artistic Director of the Monte Carlo Philharmonic, Principal Guest Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, and outgoing Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Netherlands Chamber … Continue reading

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