Opera in the 21st Century

Pic from the Thompson Street Opera Company dress rehearsal of "Ile" by Ezra Donnner. photo by Chelsey Jackson

This is an update from my post about New Opera organizations formed since 2000 a little over a week ago and the list I’ve been compiling since then. To date I’ve found over 100 organizations which produce opera.  Most of these are actual opera companies with a handful of what look like festivals or presenting organizations or new music ensembles which commission operas for performance by the group.

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New Music for Kids!

Jon Silpayamanant teaching an "Alien Music workshop for Kids" at Cyphan Science-Fiction Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

A recent piece by Kenneth D. Froelich at NewMusicBox has spurred some interesting discussion on my facebook timeline here. I posted it with the following quote from the piece:

Then she played Steve Reich for them.

The response was, in a word, astonishing. The students began tapping along and became actively engaged in their listening. They asked questions—questions!—about the music (which, in of itself is a pretty remarkable feat). Whereas Mozart was boring, Reich was exciting! It was new—something they did not expect, especially in the context of “classical music.” They wanted to hear more! Several times after my wife played them Electric Counterpoint, they asked for it again, even over popular music examples that she had played.

While Steve Reich might be a composer that we would expect younger students to engage with, what was more surprising was the response she received when she played them Pierre Boulez. Admittedly, the students reacted with confusion at first. However, as the music played they wanted to hear more. They wanted to know where this “crazy noise” was going. Once again, the music engaged her students on a level that neither Mozart nor Tchaikovsky ever did. They became active listeners. The music was unique and didn’t sound like “stereotypical classical music.” Like Reich, her students asked to hear “that weird Boulez music” again—many times over, in fact.

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Covers vs. Originals: Why classical musicians might not want to think like rock bands

IronMaiden-IronMaidens

In the previous post in this series I mentioned that I would be exploring narrow ideas of “Success” in discussions from some Classical Music Crisis folks. I brought up the phenomenon known as Survivorship Bias and how our models for success can be skewed by survivors while missing possibly more relevant data that can be learned from “failures,” which are far more numerous. In this post I’ll be discussing one of the perennial debates that local band musicians love to have, Covers vs. Originals, and how that fits into the wider debate of “Success” and modeling Rock/Pop band marketing, entrepreneurial, or gigging strategies.

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Survivorship Bias: Why classical musicians might not want to think like rock bands

Break-GOT

*EDITED for content, clarity, and minimization of polarizing langauge*

This is going to be the first in a series of posts exploring narrow ideas of “Success” in discussions from some Classical Music Crisis folks.

Survivorship bias also flash-freezes your brain into a state of ignorance from which you believe success is more common than it truly is and therefore you leap to the conclusion that it also must be easier to obtain. You develop a completely inaccurate assessment of reality thanks to a prejudice that grants the tiny number of survivors the privilege of representing the much larger group to which they originally belonged.

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Why haven’t you started your own music group?

CantinaBandAuditions

I was having a conversation with composer, Kevin James, a few days ago about our Alma Mater, DePauw University and he mentioned that one of the things he hadn’t seen there while he was on an advisory committee for the direction of the music school is students playing in ensembles that they weren’t required to be in for a class or ensemble/chamber music credit. A couple weeks ago,  Sugar Vendil wrote a piece for NewMusicBox asking the question, “Should I Start a New Music Ensemble?”

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