Thursday, December 15, 2011

Visual Violinist Hahn-Bin is clearly out to define himself on his own terms

Hahn-Bin, the eyeliner-wearing Juilliard-trained violinist, debuted his original production Till Dawn Sunday last Tuesday night at Joe’s Pub. Accompanied on stage by his longtime pianist, John Blacklow, with occasional (non-musical) cameos by the actor Peter Samelson, Hahn-Bin performed 16 works by nearly 20 composers including Piazzolla, Liszt, Gershwin and Ravel.

A conventional violin recital, this was not.

The program note for Till Dawn Sunday includes a mock obituary from The New York Times. According to the obituary, Hahn-Bin committed suicide after the murder of his ex-lover; the title reads “Hahn-Bin, The World’s Saddest Clown, Dies at 24.” The production (which repeats on Dec. 13), is loosely based on one Saturday night in Bin’s life, while he was preparing for his debut at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, and living on the Lower East Side. While sometimes difficult to follow, it is told through sequenced musical performances and a few lines of monologue.  Read More

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Copland and gay and the Republicans and ...

From Copland's FBI file. Click to enlarge.

A few days ago, I mentioned a musical irony undercutting an odious new TV ad by Rick Perry, the Texas governor and presidential aspirant. While Perry bemoans the fact that openly gay men and women are now allowed to serve in the American armed forces, the soundtrack gestures toward the "Americana" style of Aaron Copland, and in particular his immortal Appalachian Spring. You can see what I mean by comparing the ad itself — if anyone has moral qualms about accumulating hits for Gov. Perry, there is the option to vote "dislike," as more than half a million people have already done — to the opening and closing sections of Appalachian Spring. This observation is now making the rounds, although it's been somewhat distorted in the process: the music is not by Copland, although it certainly attempts to get close.  More

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Composer Scammed for $20M

A wealthy musician lost $20 million over six years to scammers who persuaded him - after finding a virus on his computer - of threats against him coming out of Central America, Opus Dei and the CIA, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said a Chappaqua man was indicted last week in a scam targeting Roger Davidson, a pianist and composer from Katonah, a small town north of New York City. Davidson is founder and president of the Society for Universal Sacred Music. His great-grandfather and great-uncle founded the oil services company Schlumberger Ltd.

The district attorney said Vickram Bedi, 37, was arraigned Tuesday on a charge of grand larceny. His computer services business in Mount Kisco was also indicted. Bedi pleaded not guilty and was held on $5 million bail.  Read more

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

City Opera Seeks Federal Mediator

Nearly a week after declaring an impasse in negotiations with its orchestra and chorus, New York City Opera is looking into getting a federal mediator involved. Dan Batchelder, the company's principal trumpeter, is encouraged by that move.

"We think it's a very positive, hopeful sign," he said. "We had offered mediation last month, and management wasn't interested in that. So now it sounds as though management may have re-examined their options and they're interested in coming to a deal, and that's all pretty good."  More

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Worst Classical Album Covers Of All Time. Ever. Really.

From KUSC Blog:

Recently I received a copy of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s latest CD, The Greatest Video Game Music, in the mail. The cover art features a soldier in full military garb playing a flaming cello against the backdrop of a vast war-torn wasteland.  There's a lot more here!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Philip Glass spoke to an Occupy Wall Street demonstration at Lincoln Center

From  Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise

As promised, Philip Glass spoke to an Occupy Wall Street demonstration at Lincoln Center tonight, after a performance of Satyagraha at the Met. The protest, which was directed not at the opera itself but at a certain disparity between its lofty moral message and the machinery of corporate arts funding, got under way during the third act; police cleared everyone from the plaza, loitering music critics included (I had gone to the Mahler Tenth at the New York Philharmonic), and so the crowd assembled on the sidewalk at the foot of the steps. When the Satyagraha listeners emerged from the Met, police directed them to leave via side exits, but protesters began encouraging them to disregard the police, walk down the steps, and listen to Glass speak. Hesitantly at first, then in a wave, they did so. The composer proceeded to recite the closing lines of Satyagraha, which come from the Bhagavad-Gita (after 3:00 in the video above): "When righteousness withers away and evil rules the land, we come into being, age after age, and take visible shape, and move, a man among men, for the protection of good, thrusting back evil and setting virtue on her seat again."  More

Symphony Goers, Start Your Smart Phones

To Tweet or Not to Tweet.

It’s a question that has confronted a number of American orchestras as they try to connect with a population more accustomed to getting information from the touch of a button on smart phones than through things like program books and pre-concert lectures.

Now the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has established "TweetSeats," a section of Music Hall in Cincinnati where audience members can bring out their iPhones, Androids and tablets and Tweet along with the music.

Patrons who sit in this special section can use a hashtag -- #CinSym – to engage with others during the concert and better share the experience. During its latest installment, on Thursday night, some 10 to 15 Twitter users sat in their own Tweet section while the orchestra’s assistant conductor Will White and associate conductor Robert Trevino also sent out messages about the music they were hearing from backstage.  Read More