Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Future of Classical Music

Interesting 3 part piece by Kyle MacMillan at the Denver Post, as follows:

1. Relevance lost

An intensifying confluence of factors is taking classical music from the cultural mainstream.

2. A classical comeback?

By being entrepreneurial and creative, organizations across the country are finding ways to rejuvenate the field.

3. A new image

Can classical music be cool?

All interesting stuff, but there’s one question MacMillan has pointedly refused to ask.  More on this next time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Community Orchestras and Tchaikovsky

The Norwood Symphony Orchestra’s final performance for the year featured pieces* from Borodin, Holst and Vaughan Williams, as well as Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto in D major.  This latter piece had bemused me somewhat, as we’d previously been told that the NSO’s own Tinel Dragoi would be playing the solo violin part.  Given the fearsome complexities of this work, I couldn’t really see how a bloke who sits in the second row of a community orchestra could possibly do it justice, but needless to say he did, in fact I thought he turned in a fabulous performance.  Turns out of course that he’s a recent immigrant form Romania, with experience playing orchestras in a number of European countries.  I guess you never know what’s going to turn up in the ranks of a community orchestra.

* repertoire safety index of 5.1

Monday, December 6, 2010

Vivaldi, Elgar and Cricket

You’d have to work hard to find a link between Vivaldi and the game of cricket, although less so with Elgar – the handlebar moustache and empire building profile suggest a keen interest in the game.  My link with these things came late on day two of the second test between England and Australia.  The inability of Australia’s bowlers to take a wicket, or the fielders to hold a catch or effect a run out, not to mention the 37 degree temperature at the ground, suggested some other form of entertainment might be in order.  I’d tried to get hold of some tickets for the ASO’s Vivaldi performance some months ago* – both concerts sold out and no chance of a third – and was delighted (and relieved) to see that a block of tickets and been re-released earlier that day.  Hence an early end to the cricket.  Even herself, a pronounced cricket tragic, was happy to call it a day.

As for the concert – terrific – in particular soloist James Ehnes, who seemed to be very much in control, and made it all look pretty easy.  The program listed him as both soloist and conductor, and he did in fact conduct the Elgar piece (Serenade for Strings), as he wasn’t required to play.  However, for Vivaldi and Beethoven (two of his romances rounded out the program) the orchestra were pretty much left to their own devices, and the performance (especially that of the concertmaster) did them a great deal of credit.

So just to prove that every cloud has a silver lining, if it weren’t the unending horror of the Australian XI’s on-field performance we’d have missed this concert, and that would have been a pity.

* this concert scored just 1.5 on the repertoire safety index.

** Q. When the English cricket team tours South Africa, where do they stay?    A. At home.