After a long hiatus, I'm back, writing about music and arts in Rochester, New York.
The big excitement in my life is the prospect of seeing Christopher Seaman conduct Haydn's Creation this weekend.
It's an oratorio telling the biblical story of the creation of the world, the animals, and Adam and Eve, who promptly fall in love and avoid the snakes. Splendid! Someone who heard the first performance in 1798 wrote in a letter to the editor of a Vienna newspaper,
"Already three days have passed since that happy evening, and it still sounds in my ears and heart, and my breast is constricted by many emotions even thinking of it."
Coinidentally, the big Rochester garden show opened last weekend with a Garden of Eden theme. I missed it, but eyewitnesses reported fewer blooms than usual and lots of snakes.
Christopher Seaman will conduct the Eastman-Rochester Chorus, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and soprano Barbara Shirvis, tenor Michael Colvin, and baritone Stephen Powell. WXXI-FM will broadcast/stream the concert on Classical 91.5, 90.3 and wxxi.org on Wednesday, June 10th at 8:00 p.m.
The LAGQ came to town for multiple concerts, both with your RPO and without, and master classes at the Eastman School of Music. Much to our surprise and pleasure, they agreed to appear on Backstage Pass. We got ready.
Aaron Copland's book "What to Listen for in Music" invites music fans of all types to consider listening to music on multiple levels and multiple planes. Last weekend at a concert, I caught myself listening on just one level, and it got me thinking how others listen.
A recent concert-going experience caused a mix of emotion for me: pleasure, frustration, and ultimately boredom. It then forced me to ask the question: what's wrong with clapping between movements at a classical music concert?
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single novel in possession of a large readership must be in want of a musical adaptation. However little known the feelings or views of the author, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of lyricists, composers, and filmmakers, that it is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their agents. Last night, about 3,000 Rochesterians attended a concert performance of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I was among them, and I’m happy to report that the musical achieves the dynamism of the book. The pace and the singing were most excellent.
The show’s greatest strength is in the lyrical, often operatic writing and well-crafted orchestration. What might be saccharine brushes tenderness, especially in duets and ensemble pieces. (For the truth of every thing here related, I can appeal to the testimony of RPO President Charlie Owens, who, during intermission, expressed his admiration for the deft orchestration.)
Being able to take constructive criticism well is a gift.Especially in publishing and broadcasting, feedback often feels personal, and no matter how reasonably it’s delivered it can reduce one to a quivering, gelatinous mass .
In the radio business, the general rule is every single comment from a listener probably represents what hundreds of others think, too.Good and bad.For the most part, the radio program managers I know take listeners pretty seriously.
Criticism from peers sounds even more loudly.So when the Public Radio Program Directors Association released contest judges’ reactions to a piece I produced, I braced myself.
The Rochester music scene gets some press in this lengthy New York Times article about Eastman grad Caleb Burhans. Reporter Allan Kozinn writes that Burhans took a job as a substitute in the Rochester Philharmonic “. . . which was sometimes rocky. Once, when Mr. Burhans turned up at a rehearsal with his hair dyed purple, the orchestra’s managing director asked him to do something about it before the concert. Mr. Burhans turned up in a witch’s wig, cut short. The next week he tried to dye his hair a conventional red, but because of the purple die, it came out crimson, so he shaved his head. ‘I found out that one of the trumpet players was going around saying that I was making a mockery of classical music because my hair was purple,’ Mr. Burhans said. ‘And I had a really intense conversation with the managing director, where I said: ‘You know, I’m just trying to help classical music, because if we don’t get more people like me coming to these concerts, this orchestra is going to die. The only people who are coming are old people, and you’re shooting yourself in the foot.’ And he said: ‘Yeah, you’re right. Sorry.’”