Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cliburn Amateur Competition Concludes

The Van Cliburn Foundation’s sixth International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs concluded Sunday, after six days of competition involving 70 participants. The six finalists performed a 30-minute program of their choice before two juries – one of “distinguished scholars” and one of press. All but two of the 16 jurors were men. All three of the top winners were men.

They are Christopher Shih, a gastroenterologist from Maryland, who 14 years ago was a competitor in the professional competition. He receives $2,000. Clark Griffith, a retired database programmer from Fort Worth, came in second, for $1,500, and Barry Coutinho, also a physician, came in third, for $1,000. He hails from Pittsburgh.

The competition is open to pianists whose primary income is not from performing or teaching the instrument. Participants ranged in age from 35 to 79 and represented 17 nationalities from ten countries. In addition to physicians and programmers, they included lawyers, a jeweler, a kindergarten teacher and a Formula One race car designer.   Read More

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Con Library Student Staff Super Stars!

Two of our student staff members recently received recognition at the annual Conservatory of Music Honors & Awards Banquet.
Daniel King, circulation staff, received the The Avedis Zildjian Conservatory Percussion Award. This is awarded to a continuing percussion major in recognition of outstanding performance skills.
Ian Copeland, stacks and retrieval staff, received the The James H. Hall Prize in Musicology, which is awarded to a graduating senior for excellence in work in musicology.  Ian was also awarded the Pi Kappa Lambda Prize for Musicianship. This prize is awarded to students judged to be the most outstanding of those elected to Pi Kappa Lambda music honorary.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mahler Online (from Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise)

If, as in provinicial New York, there are no live Mahler events in your town on the anniversary of his death, the Internet is ready to pick up the slack. Medici.tv is offering the complete symphonies with the Orchestre de Paris under Christoph Eschenbach.  Read More.

Bernard Greenhouse, founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio, died

Bernard Greenhouse, an internationally acclaimed cellist and a founding member of the Beaux Arts Trio, died on Friday at his home in Wellfleet, Mass., on Cape Cod. He was 95.

Doane, Beal & Ames, a funeral home in South Yarmouth, Mass., confirmed the death.
Long considered the most eminent piano trio in the world, the Beaux Arts was founded in 1955 by Mr. Greenhouse, the violinist Daniel Guilet and the pianist Menahem Pressler. It was known for its refined musicality and remarkable continuity of personnel: Mr. Greenhouse, for instance, played with the group for 32 years until retiring in 1987.  More

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New York’s First French-built Organ

Despite a few electro-mechanical innovations added during the past century, the organ (called by some the “pipe organ”) is essentially a handmade instrument consisting almost entirely of natural materials fabricated with techniques practiced for centuries. It is expensive to build and install, and also expensive to maintain.

When The Church of the Ascension’s Holtkamp organ, installed in 1967, began to seriously deteriorate after 40 years of service, the church began to plan for its replacement. Dennis Keene, the church’s organist since 1981, embarked on a series of visits to organs in the U. S. and Europe in order to choose a builder who could, in Keene’s words, “construct for Ascension an instrument of the absolutely highest artistic quality which could serve as broad a range of repertory as possible.”  Read more.

National Jukebox (free access to over 10,000 recordings)

The Library of Congress presents the National Jukebox, which makes historical sound recordings available to the public - FREE access to over 10,000 recordings made between the years of 1901 and 1925. Recordings, all from the RCA and Columbia vaults now owned by Sony Music, are available for streaming only. The range is vast, from Al Jolson to Enrico Caruso, Nellie Melba, Rachmaninoff and George Gershwin playing “Rhapsody in Blue” with the Paul Whiteman Concert Orchestra.

Spoken word recordings are also accessible, inclusive of political speeches by Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, readings from the Bible and early sound-effects records.  Check it out!!

Listen to Lazy Moon

WARNING: These historical recordings may contain offensive or inappropriate language.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Most Cash-Strapped Classical Music Organizations

For generations, large and small cities saw orchestras,  operas and other classical music organizations as part of civic life.  Now,  many are in deep financial trouble with no relief in sight.
The reasons for their predicament is simple:  Costs are rising at a faster rate than their receipts.  That’s why the Philadelphia Orchestra,  long considered a crown jewel of American cultural life, recently had to seek protection from creditors.  Even classical music organizations that are keeping their heads above water have had to slash costs to the bone including laying off staff.

Classical music is probably the art form that is least able to weather any economic downturn.  For one thing, fixed costs are high.  Major orchestras include about 100 players. Top-flight musicians command salaries in the six figures. Some conductors earn seven figures.  Some groups need to pay rent on their halls. Endowments have taken a hit in recent years causing orchestras and other classical music organizations to scale back performances and, sometimes, cut back staff.   Economies of scale are difficult to find.   A symphony isn’t a symphony with one violin player.  This may result in a situation where only the biggest and strongest classical music arts organizations survive.

Read More to see the list of the most cash-strapped classical music organizations.