WWZS – What Would Zukerman Say?

What Would Zukerman Say
What Would Zukerman Say

Zukerman takes more pot shots at the early music movement in a recent interview:

In an interview with Marian Arnold this week, Zukerman declared the early music movement ‘an aberration…a fad.’ Anyone who tries to play what he calls ‘this authentic stuff’ is ‘pathetic’. Regarding vibrato, if you don’t vibrate, ‘you are dead in the water… it’s like having paste on that bridge and peanut butter on the hair of the bow.’ He claimed that if the great violinist Eugene Ysaye heard such playing he would ‘throw you out of the house, over the bridge and put something lead in your feet and say “Don’t come back again!”‘

I wonder what he’d say about Carnatic violinists, probably something along the lines of “get that violin off your feet and fix your posture!”:

Or Arabic and Turkish violinists, “there are only 12 tones–learn how to play in tune!”:

Or lăutari gypsy violinists “get that wrist off the neck!”:

Or Irish fiddlers, Persian violinists, Quebecois fiddlers, Bluegrass, Country Western Swing, Jazz, etc., etc., ad nauseum.  That attitude was precisely the main reason I originally quit playing classical music in the first place.  not glad to see it still alive–and couldn’t more easily have illustrated the point I made in the two previous posts!  *sighs*

Imaginary Fiscal Distress Syndrome or “How Pollyanna looks at Orchestra Management”

Like Disney's Pollyanna, the Chicken Little Think Tank can only see Orchestra Management as doing good!
Like Disney’s Pollyanna, the Chicken Little Think Tank can only see Orchestra Management as telling the complete and absolute truth about their organization’s finances!

Some months ago I read Karen Berman, Joe Knight, and John Case’s, Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs: What You Really Need to Know About the Numbers, which is a wonderfully concise intro to finance basics that any entrepreneur should know.  The book also gives some insider advice and tips on the art of finance (yes, that’s the art of finance–not the science of finance).  Anyone who has run his or her own business has probably already gleaned some of this insight–especially those have done their own accounting.

Even if you do have an accountant, this book is particularly useful for you to understand the types of assumptions and guesswork that your accountant might be doing by necessity.  In light of the investigation of the Minnesota Orchestra (see also Robert Levine’s piece, Cooking the books, and a series of pieces posted at Song of the Lark) as well as many folks who just make the assumption that the numbers in the books are an accurate reflection of the financial reality of an organization, it might be good to quell the myths or at least give a more realistic image of what is for all intents and purposes a highly developed art form.

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Looking good can make you play worse…

Bryan Townsend, in a post about Uzbek pianist Lola Astanova, made some comments about a review of the pianist by Zachary Woolfe in the NYT.  I’m going to quote an extended excerpt of the piece as it relates to some interesting studies about how visual stimuli can affect how we hear things (ironically, the studies came to light after Yuja Wang’s recent ‘scandalous’ attire at a concert from last year).

Continue reading “Looking good can make you play worse…”

on Klingon weddings and playing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy circuit

Jon Silpayamanant as a Klingon performing before a production of The Pirates of Penzance (in Outer Space) in New Albany, Indiana.

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, there is an embarrassment of riches as far as performing options are concerned, if you’re willing to think outside the box.  The past few years I’ve been playing the Sci-Fi/Fantasy circuit.  I hesitate to call it the “Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention circuit” if only because some of the best paying gigs I’ve gotten recently happen to be at organizations outside of the Convention circuit proper.

And some of that has started to creep into the so-called ‘high arts’ realm with organizations such as Symphony Orchestras playing themed shows dedicated to particular Sci-Fi or Fantasy franchises (e.g. Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) as part of their pops seasons.

On the whole, however, there’s always been music at conventions–even if it only consisted of filk music.  Part of the Klingon schtick is as much act as play and the idea came to me as a whim after il Troubadore started playing Sci-Fi conventions at the request of some bellydancers.  We decided we needed our own act and schtick, thus was born the il Troubadore Klingon Music Project.

Ok, so I talk about the short series of events from bellydancer request to Sci-Fi convention to developing a full blown Klingon Band personae as if it’s an everyday thing.  But seriously, for me, it is.

That’s the specific issue at hand here.  Over the years I’ve heard all manner of musicians grouse about the lousy economy and the lack of work.  And here, I’m talking primarily about those musicians who do not hold full time or professional positions as musicians–this includes freelancers, but also just your normal everyday band musician.  I know I’ve brought up this issue plenty of times in the past, but don’t want to flood this post with a ton of links.

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Way too many performing opportunities if you think outside the box

Jon Silpayamanant playing with his Balkan Band, Kermes, at St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church in Indianapolis

“Yarustovsky belongs to a society which believes that the artist is a potent ethical force and that his responsibilities to society take precedence over considerations of personal fancy.  To us, the implications of that belief seem dangerous; to Yarustovsky, the danger lies in ignoring the implications.”  –Richard F. French

This is something I often get to talk about especially with young budding classically trained musicians.  In a climate where there is less dominance by any particular musical style, what we also find is a diversity of venues and shows for live performance.

Some of this may not be surprising for musicians that frequent these kinds of events, but obviously for classical musicians the idea of performing outside of a concert hall, church, or recital hall can be a bit daunting.  At the same time, due to changing musical environment (as well as the increasingly huge pool of musicians being churned out at music schools) it’s almost inevitable that a classically trained musician (or non-classically trained musician, for that matter) will find him or herself in a ‘non-standard’ environment or in an environment that musicians wouldn’t normally encounter.

Continue reading “Way too many performing opportunities if you think outside the box”