Discovering your Band or Orchestra’s Roots

NAHSOrchestra-1917

One of the local research projects I’ve been working on is charting the evolution of Classical Music in Kentuckiana (i.e. the Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN MSA). Being one of the MSA’s which lies over two states, this makes some of the data gathering a little trickier, but lately I’ve decided to focus very specifically on New Albany, Indiana which is where I currently live and where I spent most of my school years before going to music school.

After the recent passing of Rubin Sher and Don McMahel, two giants of music education in this area, I decided it might be time to really get my hands dirty with data in honor of them and all the other music teachers still with us that I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working with since I’ve moved back.

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“Last time I checked there isn’t an orchestra in the US that can fill an auditorium like major pop names.”

NYP-Central-Park

The quote in the title of this post is from a Chip Michael’s piece from a few years ago.

It’s also something that is symptomatic about what’s wrong with comparisons between different kinds of musical genres. In the end, yes, what we’re talking about is live music played by live musicians for a live audience, but as the old adage goes, “The Devil’s in the Details.”

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Walking with Dinosaurs

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In a recent Telegraph piece by Hannah Furness we’re told that Peter Sellars has called for the end of Mass art forms

In a speech about the importance of art, Sellars argued the changing world had left consumers wanting a different experience from simple, traditional mass market.

Saying opera had an “irrational beauty” which is “incredibly powerful” in front of an audience, he added: “Meanwhile the new technology means you don’t to have an opera house to do an opera

“In fact, most young people don’t want to go to an opera house and it’s not how those people want to have a good time, to sit with 5,000 other people.

“In fact, what’s very exciting is some of the most exciting opera experience I’ve had is in a room with 15 other people, or 30 or 40 whatever, in an intimate situation.

As I’ve shown numerous times at this blog, the same can be said about large scale pop or stadium/arena rock shows as well as Sporting events which often take place in big stadiums. But does this mean the end of large scale mass entertainment or art forms?  I’m not so sure.

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Essential Tools for the 21st Century Musician: Improvisation

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Imagine having a conversation with someone but instead of speaking you had to read from a piece of paper with writing on it. Now imagine that none of that written text is your own but words written by other people. Not only would your end of the conversation lack some measure of spontaneity, but you would also have to carry around an impressive library of text which you would have to have organized for quick retrieval lest you stymy the flow of the conversation. This is kinda what it’s like being a musician that can’t improvise.  Improvisation in music is the analogue to our normal everyday ability to improvise with our voices with the spoken word. It’s also something that disappeared from Classical Music training for a while though it’s making a comeback.

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Casino Gigs, Classical Music, and Younger Audiences

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Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to play a number of casino gigs.  These are often some of the best paying gigs for musicians of any stripe and the competition for getting into a roster of acts for them can be pretty fierce.

Last night after filling in for Sweeney Todd at CenterStage here in Louisville, a few of the musicians went out for some drinks and near the end of the night I had a conversation with a family member of one of the players about her experiences working at the local casino. She was relating how there’s been a bit of a push for bringing in Younger Audiences. This is often done by a shift in entertainment.

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