“You are too thin to be an opera singer,” older ladies from my church squawked at me when I was young. Looking at my petite, 5’2” stature, it was no surprise that I wasn’t automatically compared to the stereotypical Rubenesque soprano, complete with breastplate, spear, and horns. However this image, although well known, is now false advertising. The opera world’s body images now conform to that of the dance, musical theater, and film industries.
Every year, orchestras around the world announce the programs of their upcoming seasons as though it’s an exciting surprise. Don’t get me wrong — the works of Romantic and Classical era composers will never cease to hold a soft spot in my heart. But by adhering to programs full of Tchaikovsky, Shostakovich, Beethoven, Copland, and Mahler, we’re presenting classical music by composers who are white, male, and dead. Continue reading “Popular Programming Preventing Progress”→
When I first started playing the cello, I only touched the instrument during lessons. In my early teens, I would practice by listening to my favorite recordings of pieces, which resulted in my duplicating the performer’s mistakes. What you do in the practice room is transparent onstage, and there are no shortcuts to achieving progress — but certainly shorter, focused practice times will yield greater productively. Continue reading “Don’t Work Hard, Work Differently”→
My brother and sister, both musicians, always got into the same argument on long car trips. My sister would be talking about some show she just went to, and my brother would talk about how annoying it was that she would talk about the crowd, or the visuals, or anything besides the music. “All that extra stuff. It. Just. Doesn’t matter. To me.” And he’d put his headphones back on and listen to Dream Theater or Mahler.
Their difference in attitudes might explain their individual paths: Emma created her own major in college and is looking to get another degree in music tech. Jake has a masters in classical percussion, and perhaps ironically, now plays percussion for an opera company that is particularly intricate and experimental in its stage sets and performances.
“Classical Music: Dead or Alive?” “Is classical music dead?” “Here are all the reasons why classical music is dead as a genre.”
These are just a few headlines from articles diagnosing why classical music audiences seem to be getting older and smaller. Many writers focus on the music itself, concert etiquette, the fact that the most popular classical music is centuries old, etc. However, many of these opinions ignore the business side of the arts. The art form of classical music has been placed on a pedestal, an ivory Rapunzel tower, separated from everyday culture and everyday life.
When average citizens think about classical music, images arise of something spookily formal, old, and expensive, and one that requires education many potential audience members don’t think they have. Looking at this scenario from a business perspective, it becomes painfully obvious that the “product” is inaccessible, with mundane marketing, and lacking in futuristic vision. Oh, and I might add, priced at $100 a ticket. Continue reading “Is Classical Music Dying? Is it Dead Yet? How About Now?”→
The motto for Daniel Barenboim’s East West Divan Orchestra, “Equal in Music,” brings to light the extraordinary task the orchestra has embraced: reinstating discourse in one of the most conflicted regions of the world. Founded in 1999 by Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim, the Orchestra was originally intended to be a temporary workshop involving Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab musicians. Continue reading “Music Transcends Diplomacy”→
It’s no secret that American orchestras are in trouble. In 2011, the Philadelphia Orchestra filed for bankruptcy, while the American Symphony Orchestra encountered monetary trouble in 2015, forcing it to cut its Vanguard concert series from six performances to four. The Washington Post reported last year that many major orchestras seemed to be “playing it safe” with their programming for the 2016-2017 season, stating that though “Brahms and Beethoven and Tchaikovsky are all great,” there is a fear that newer, lesser-known works will frighten away potential audience members.Continue reading “Breathing New Life into Classical Music”→
Clarinet in hand, as the door swung open and the warm Kulas stage light flooded through my crooked, generic hipster-wanna-be glasses, the last three weeks of my life flashed before my eyes. Hours of scales, etudes, metronome clicks droning in my ears, and hours watching myself in a mirror to make sure I looked okay with my awkward-fitting neck strap, had all led to this moment — my junior recital.