Monday, January 23, 2006

A few more experiences to note. . . .

If you are a regular reader of this blog and haven't seen anything new for a while, apologies. This (Monday 1/23) is the final day of this trip to NY. I've been staying with my "quasi-sister" Kath (may years ago I lived with her family). Her home computer, set up by a now ex-boyfriend who was hyper-vigilant about computer security, won't let me make posts. I spent quite a while trying to figure out what needed to be reset, but to no avail. I've had some limited access to Robin's computer, which has been going through a freezing-whenever-you-want-to-do-something-important period. Hopefully this post will post.

In addition to the Josh Bell/NY Phil concert I wrote about below (by the way, thanks for the encouragement to try the tight-black-jeans-and-open-black-shirt look myself, but with my current figure that is not adviseable), I've heard a wonderful concert of music by the South African composer Bongani Ndodana, and been to the new production of Sweeny Todd, in which each performers also plays at least one instrument. Two of them (the young lovers) play cello. Yesterday afternoon I heard the Greenwich Symphony in Connecticut, a very good semi-professional orchestra which includes some full-time professional free-lance players from NY. The orchestra's principal cellist, Daniel Miller, did a fine job with the Strauss Don Quixote.

Most of my attention has been focused on developing the new work with Robin. We performed it at her backer's showing at Lincoln Center on Tuesday 1/17, at the APAP book agent's convention on Saturday, and do it one more time at APAP this evening. There was a bit of consternation at the first APAP showing as Robin's student Greg and I worked to set up the amp, looping pedal, etc., in the dark, but in the end things went off well. The technical people for the APAP show, in which many dance companies are doing short performances, are 100% not interested in being of any help with the amp situation and clearly wish Robin was like everyone else, dancing to recorded music. From their point of view, I understand, and I also understand how working with less-than-highly-organized dancers could put on in a less-than-pleasant mood.

Ah, just one more challenge. It will be a great relief to have the last performance done.

The Greenwich Symphony concert, by the way, seemed to be to represent all that is good and all that isn't working with classical music today. What's great is that it is well supported, well-attended, and creates an opportunity for many people who are not full-time players (many of them music education professionals) to make music together. At 47, I felt like a kid, sitting in the audience; it seemed as if everyone was at least 5 or 10 years older than me. The concert was overly long, under-rehearsed (the two tend to go hand in hand), started late, had an overly-long (although engaging) set of remarks from the conductor, an overly long intermission, and took place in an overheated high-school auditorium with bad acoustics.

Despite all this, there was a good audience Sunday afternoon,. and a good audience the night before. I have a couple of friends in the orchestra, which is why I went, and speaking with them and other friends of theirs (including spouses of other orchestra memebers) at supper it seemed clear that there's a loyal following, and great love for classical music, and so the audience continues. The "old guard" comes despite all the problematic aspects. But the orchestra sure doesn't seem to be attracting a younger audience, and how could they? The performance lacked emotional intensity or precision, was too long, was visually and sonically unappealing. We can't attract new audiences to classical music with this sort of event. And, nevertheless, it is great that the orchestra exists and is doing well, at least for now.

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