The Orchestra as an institution is constantly evolving and taking many different forms all around the world, but like the White Male Classical Music Canon, we tend to only see canonical ensemble types and treat them, like the repertoire canon, as universal and neutral.
Colonialism, White Supremacy, and the Logic of Exclusion of Colored Bodies in Classical Music
As I'm working on this bibliography of white supremacy and colonialism in classical music, I've come to a few things that has helped me understand the logic of exclusion of colored bodies in the field. Here are a few main takeaways. 1) Sources for information about Slave Orchestras are in formerly colonized countries or mémoires … Continue reading Colonialism, White Supremacy, and the Logic of Exclusion of Colored Bodies in Classical Music
Classical Music and its Slave Orchestras
It was just five years ago that Dr. David Hunter revealed his discovery that Handel repeatedly invested in the Royal African Company, a slave trading company in Britain. A year later, Musicologist Hannah Templeton wrote that some of Leopold Mozart's patrons were likely slavers or heavily invested in plantations in the West Indies. In that … Continue reading Classical Music and its Slave Orchestras
2020 is the year of #NotBeethoven
So last night and into this new year I listened to Dora Pejačević's Symphony in F sharp minor, Op. 41 (1918) in prep for what I'm calling my year of #NotBeethoven.* This is in response to Some. Of The. Pushback. To. making 2020 the year to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth. https://youtu.be/940dNX5zHEU Some … Continue reading 2020 is the year of #NotBeethoven
White Males Orchestras and America’s Other Orchestras
A couple years ago I discovered a series of pieces title "America's Other Orchestras" at Arab America and it helped me to solidify some thoughts I've been having about how we have discussions, and the narratives we create, about Orchestras and Classical Music. These are thoughts that were percolating at least since I first wrote … Continue reading White Males Orchestras and America’s Other Orchestras
Classical Music, the Perpetual Foreigner Trope, and Colonialism
So a few days ago I started a thread on twitter about Classical Music and Colonialism. I've never done twitter thread before--never really considered using the social media platform as a way to convey more in-depth ideas. After having spent some time this past year following a few twitter users pretty faithfully and seeing how … Continue reading Classical Music, the Perpetual Foreigner Trope, and Colonialism
Diversity in Classical Music vs Diversity of Classical Music
Diversity in Classical Music has been a hot topic lately, especially given the recent announcements of upcoming seasons of organizations and the pushback many are getting recently. With the introduction of the Women Composer Database and the Composer Diversity Project, therea a push for aggregating disparate lists of composers to decenter the White Male Canon … Continue reading Diversity in Classical Music vs Diversity of Classical Music
The Invisible Hand of the Great White Male Musical and Artistic Canons
In my previous post I discussed how ridiculously easy it would be to avoid the Art of Monstrous Men, and the post before that discusses how to Decolonize the Musical Mind. The past couple of days I've come across some interesting pieces about diversity in the arts (or lack thereof). The first was a piece … Continue reading The Invisible Hand of the Great White Male Musical and Artistic Canons
Is Classical Music in the “Real World”?
One of the hallmarks of the Classical Music Crisis viewpoint is the idea that Classical Music, as a field, is insular and cut off from what has been variously referred to as the "Wider World," "Outside World," or "Real World." The purpose of this kind of rhetoric is to contrast the Classical Music field with … Continue reading Is Classical Music in the “Real World”?
Classical Music discovers Clubbing just as Clubbing Declines
There have been a number of recent pieces about Classical Music and Clubbing over the past few months and a couple of hefty dissertations about the "new" phenomenon and the "Indie Classical Scene." I've been meaning to write about this for some time (well, years, actually) as I've been playing clubs for a couple of … Continue reading Classical Music discovers Clubbing just as Clubbing Declines
Orchestras in the US formed since 2000
Here's a link to my list of Symphony Orchestras and Chamber Orchestras in the US formed since 2000. It’s by no means an exhaustive list and should be viewed as a “work in progress” (much as my similar list of US Opera organizations formed since 2000). Currently, the list includes full sized Symphony Orchestras as … Continue reading Orchestras in the US formed since 2000
All Orchestras are Ethnic Orchestras
One of the things that is striking about the early accounts of Classical Music is how provincial it was. Until the 20th century we didn't really conceive of Classical Music as one unified field. In other words, there was a lot of diversity in the genres and repertoire performed. This coincided with what we could … Continue reading All Orchestras are Ethnic Orchestras
Classical Music Crisis is the “Tip of the Iceberg”
I've been reading Reginald Nettel's "The Orchestra in England: A Social History" (Yay, Half Price Books!) as some of my latest posts have been focusing on how the orchestra has changed and evolved throughout history. For many of us in the field, Orchestras (and to a lesser extent, Operas and Ballets) are symbolic of (and … Continue reading Classical Music Crisis is the “Tip of the Iceberg”
What’s it like playing Pop Music when you’re not a Pop Superstar?
Some time ago one of my friends and one of the owners of a local record shop/venue, Modern Cult Records, posed a question (friends only post, unfortunately) on Facebook: Why do so many bands tour directly around Louisville? How can we change this frustrating f**king trend? Do I need to open my own damn venue? … Continue reading What’s it like playing Pop Music when you’re not a Pop Superstar?
“…but, does that orchestra make any money?” and Life Cycles of Orchestras
One of frequent questions I'm asked when I point out the immense growth of opera companies, orchestras, and classical music ensembles over the past few decades is what their financial model is and whether that translates to making a livable wage or even whether that translates into the organization being sustainable and able to stay … Continue reading “…but, does that orchestra make any money?” and Life Cycles of Orchestras
Pop Music Attrition
One of the long term research projects I've been working on is the attrition rates of local bands. Over the years I've had many discussions with local musicians about how often bands fold, or how a singer-songwriter will drop off the face of the earth, or how a musician decides to go back to school … Continue reading Pop Music Attrition
How to raise Orchestra revenue with Live-to-Projection events
Some time ago I read a Silicon Valley Business Journal piece about the Symphony Silicon Valley's Live-to-Projection Lord of the Rings concerts. SSV President, Andrew Bales, expected to sell out the two full runs of the trilogy in their Center for the Performing Arts in San Jose. This would mean selling out 15,000 seats for … Continue reading How to raise Orchestra revenue with Live-to-Projection events
What’s it like playing for 50,000 people?
Over the years I've performed to an audience of none (some of my Performance Art and Experimental Music performances took place in very odd settings) up to audiences of tens of thousands (stadium concerts) and while I'm tempted to say each performing situation is different, really, it's not. I mean, in the end, you just … Continue reading What’s it like playing for 50,000 people?