Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One Last Post

I wanted to write one more post to say how much I enjoyed blogging with you all. This class has illuminated so many elements of the current classical music world, and I was glad to have a chance to learn from my fellow students as well as professor. You have great insight and newsfinding abilities. Thank you!

Also, if anyone even checks this blog again... I thought I would point you to my own blog, especially after the conversation we had a couple weeks ago about advertising ourselves. It's just a little blog about being a singer. My goal is to fill the void of information about what it's like to be young and starting out, but I don't think anyone reads it. Maybe someday.... I hope you check it out, though.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Groves via BLP & references on Wiki

I just (re)discovered that along with the OED, you can access from any internet connection, a gazillion varieties of online resources via the Boston Public Library, using your library card.  Most notable among them are the music resources, including Groves Music Online!  One less item to rely upon the benevolence of the wireless gods of the Longy "Zabriskie Library" network!

I have also figured out how to make footnotes and references on Wiki, and posted a message on each class member's user discussion page.  In case you didn't see it, here's a link to the template I created.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

kids concerts

I am so glad that Valerie posted about children's concerts. This is something that I've been thinking about lately. At the school where I teach, we try to encourage concert attendance. The students and parents have other little projects to do outside of class, but concert attendance is high up there on the list. When they attend a concert, they have to bring in the program or ticket stub and they get a little prize of some sort (pencils, notebooks, bookmarks...etc.)
The other day, I was handing in a project that one of my students had completed. It was about Grieg. I decided to look through all of the papers, curious to see what the students had done.
Almost all were on different composers, and there were no concert attendance.
In my opinion, the concert attendance seems the easiest. Although, I admit that taking a child into the city, or anywhere, and worrying about time, and if they will behave, etc, are all major issues. Lately, I've been giving them concert ideas. I advertised the Longy family series, and many have already bought tickets, I've advertised the Nutcracker (I know it's not a concert...but the ballet still counts in my mind), but I need to know where more are. It seems that parents just don't know where to look. I've pointed them in the right direction, but does anyone else have any ideas? I know this is something we've been sort of discussing in class.
Help! My parents will greatly appreciate it and I"ll share some of the chocolate and coffee that I'll get at Christmas with you! Trust me...I get tons.....

my progress on wiki

This week I have been browsing around on Wiki for pages related to "Piano pedagogy", a page that currently does not exist, and one I'm currently constructing.  I noticed that there were many stubs on different musically related terms that exist off in various corners of Wiki, but many provided ill-constructed presentations and misinformed knowledge by people who seemed to merely know the names of the terms, but did not really understand the details of topics.  I'm presenting a partial listing of my work in progress below, so as to show my work this week, and also to spark interests among the pianists in the class to contribute to the listing at their leisure.

-Create "Piano pedagogy" page
*Use "Vocal pedagogy" as model (this page was a very helpful discovery!)
* Provide link to "Pianist" page --> which needs great rewriting!!!
-- I'm tempted to start a "Piano playing" page in the future, and model it after the "Singing" page

-On the "Pedagogy" page
*disambiguation page on "Pedagogy" 
-- create "Pedagogy (musical)" link, w/ brief discussion on musical pedagogy, and links to different pages of pedagogies of different instrumental groups, e.g. "Vocal pedgogy"

-Make contributions and links to following lists:
- Classical piano repertoire
- Classical piano repertoire written for children

BLO promotions

I opened up my email this morning to find a promotional email from Boston Lyric Opera. "Two Great Ways to Dazzle Your Kids!" exclaimed the subject. Inside were advertisements for two upcoming events: a family-friendly performance of Magic Flute and a backstage look at Rusalka targeted at kids ages 11-17.

Curious, I read up on the Magic Flute performance. They are presenting a fully-staged, abridged version in English. Their blurb describes "Magical instruments…A wicked queen…An imprisoned princess…A courageous prince… Will Prince Tamino’s magic flute be enough to protect him on his quest to save the lovely Princess Pamina? The ultimate adventure opera!" A later description written to appeal to parents promises fairy tale elements celebrating courage, virtue, and wisdom.

This promotion seems to fit in with what we've been discussing all semester: trying to figure out ways to bring in new audiences and appeal to the public in new ways. I think it's great that BLO is aware of this need and doing what it can to "reach out." They even offer some PDF "study guides" as well that offer background on Mozart and a plot summary of the opera, which is great. Most of these seemed fairly well-done, although the "Magic Math" definitely needs some help (or perhaps just to be eliminated all together). I'd be curious to see how they cut Magic Flute to fit into an hour and how audiences respond. I know Magic Flute is supposed to be one of Mozart's great works, but I've always found the plot a bit lacking and decidedly sexist (though Mozart should, I suppose, not be blamed for being a product of his time). But all the same, kudos to BLO for exploring ways to make opera more accessible to kids and families.

some thoughts on the future

I think having a Wikipedia support group is a great idea. Thanks for suggesting it, Jessica.

I have wanted to put my own recordings on the internet for a sometime now. After this week’s class discussion, I thought I would go ahead open a myspace page. I have to say, it was the most frustrating half hour of my week. I was able to set up an account but could not figure out how to add my music. When looking at the frequently asked questions page I clicked on the question: “How do I upload my music?” The answer was: “They way you have always uploaded your music.” I could not believe it. It ended with me deleting my account. I just expected it to be user-friendly. I do know a lot of people who have put their music up and I they will be receiving phone calls. I have not given up and am determined to post my recordings only before the New Year.

I do think that it is important for musicians nowadays to be aware of all of the different tools available to us. I think that the future of classical music may have a lot to do with self-promotion. There is nothing wrong with that, I guess even if it seems a bit unnatural. I feel like we have to be really creative now. Some of my colleagues from McGill, for example, have created an opera company. Everyone is under the age of 30 and they perform full-scale operas in bars. I wish that I could remember their name. Their audiences usually include many people who would not go to the opera for various reasons but end up staying to listen. The acoustics are always bad, people are loud and possibly intoxicated but it is an enjoyable time and way for these young singers to perform in public. I think there are a lot of different ways in which we can get our music “out there.” We just have to keep an open mind. I’m doing my best.

Psyched into it

I finally worked up the courage to post the plot summary for Goyescas onto the page. It was easier than I had hoped. Trying to put my references at the bottom (and cite them in the text) proved to be more difficult. I still cannot believe that an Internet savvy cat like me can't handle this easy task.

I did, however, find some information on posting images. Even better, there's a Wikipedia cheatsheet that creates a shorthand list of all the editing procedures in a comprehensive manner, and it'll change your life.

It has been a pleasure struggling through this monster of an assignment with you all. I certainly won't stop working on this over the break, and as I learn new things about wikipedia and blogging (and life in general!) i will be sure to keep you informed.

Thanks for an awesome class!

Monday, December 8, 2008

YouTube Symphony - Follow Up

I've found the official website, or YouTube Channel, of YouTube's Symphony orchestra which can be viewed here. They have a vide of the London Symphony Orchestra performing the short orchestral piece written by Tan Dun (warning, it is a bit schmaltzy), which as you may recall users from all over the world can download the instrumental parts, practice it, record it, and upload it onto YouTube wherein it will be judged.

They also have an impressive roster of 'YouTube Symphony Ambassadors,' first of which is Lang Lang, a superstar pianist. They also have a video of conductor Valery Gergiev talking about the project.

Another interesting thing to note are the four logos of Carnegie Hall, the London Symphony Orchestra, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Lang Lang on the front page, which to me are some of the most recognizable and famous names in classical music.

Browse around the site! There are loads of other interesting stuff to see.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hey Valerie et al. –

In this post, I
1. give info about my website
2. propose we form a wikipedia support group
3. invite you all to lunch next Tuesday

Here’s my website: www.JessicaSchaeffer.com. I had it designed when I moved to California after graduating from NU and decided to establish myself as a freelance musician. I’ve done everything from weddings to new music premiers to recordings to rock concerts and the website has been helpful in sharing that information quickly and easily and has also played an important role in getting the gigs that pay (weddings). Please keep in mind it hasn’t been updated in, oh, four years (if anyone knows anyone who does website work, I am wanting to hire someone to do work on it...) but it looks good, puts forth a certain image, and has musical samples, which clients always want. Remember too, this website is intended for a particular audience – those who would want to hire a harpist for a private event. If I wanted to promote myself to a different target audience, there would be a different spin on the whole thing (i.e. if I wanted to promote myself as a soloist, my bio probably wouldn’t mention my expertise in wedding ceremonies!).

More important than the website itself, though, was the actual process of designing it and answering questions like – how do I want to position myself? What is the image I want to portray? What kind of clients do I want to attract? What is important? It makes you look at yourself objectively and makes you realize that you determine your image. I also had to realize that I was trying to be a business and, as such, I needed to sell my image and playing as a package deal. The visual component is just too important to disregard.

If you want to know specifics about how I had this built, costs, pictures, etc., and also how I reconciled my sense of musical integrity with the realities of trying to make a living as a musician, let me know!

Secondly, as I was recounting my major victory on wikipedia (creating one successful citation in an hour) to a friend, she suggested that this particular undertaking might be made a lot easier if we did it collaboratively. I think that’s a great idea! I imagine all of us in the library or somewhere with our laptops (do we all have laptops? The library has laptops you can check out...) figuring out Wikipedia together. For instance, I now know that I can help you all with creating footnotes and citing a website! I also know there’s a lot I don’t know! Let me know if this is something anyone might be interested in and perhaps we can find a time over the weekend or next week to get together.

Along those lines, and forgive me if I sound sentimental (not by Hewett’s standards, I hope!), but I have really enjoyed being in class with all of you this semester and always wish we had more time to discuss this, that, and the other thing. I can think of no better way to end our Tuesday meetings than to invite y’all over for lunch after Tuesday’s class. I know not everyone can make that time (come later!) but I think that’s probably the best time to do it. Emily can attest that I live, literally, a minute from Longy (29 Concord Ave.) so it will be convenient and easy. I’ll make the lunch (sorry, no five course meal) and I have rehearsal at 3:30 so, unfortunately, there will be no celebratory cocktails either. I can promise food for all, though, just let me know if the 12:30-2:30 time frame works for you!


Jessica, can you send me the link to your website?

Also, the choir I work for needs a harpist. If you're interested, can you let me know? Sorry to post this here, but I realized I don't have any other contact info for you.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Boston Symphony...insulting marketing?

I've already started this post many different ways, this story in the Sunday paper has just gotten me to think about many different things. You can read the story here...http://www.boston.com/ae/music/articles/2008/11/30/thoughts_on_a_missing_maestro_at_the_bso/
At first glace and skimming over the article, I admit (I was reading the article outloud to my roommate) that I added in, "what a diva" about the conductor. I mean isn't it quite the typical behavior of a "diva" to just walk out when not getting top billing? Maybe he could have just trashed the dressing room of Lynn Harrell instead? I'm not sure which is worse.
However, I would like to think that although what the BSO did could have been seen as insulting, we have to remember that they are still a business. A business that relies on people and their money. I was embarrassed to find that I had never heard of conductor, Gennady Rozhdestvensky but I'm sure that had I been at the concert, I would have read his biography and been impressed. But I had heard of cellist Lynn Harrell. That is what would have drawn me to the concert instead.
This may be "American style marketing", and I'm not saying whether or not it's any good, and it's starting to make me think that I really shouldn't only rely on big names (Sarah Corrigan is not a big name after all....), but that's the kind of world that we live in.
I say that if it gets classical music out there, and it helps it sell, then by all means do it. However, I'm not exactly for a label cover with a scantily clad girl and a strategically placed violin.....that's another post.

Unexpected Success!

This is fantastic! I wanted to find some information on the other performances of Goyescas, and I found the original 1915 press release of the NY Times! Thank you, Internet!

Produced by Mexican writer Francisco Gandara, the article describes Granados as a hesitant but dignified public figure, with a brilliant mind and a shy demeanor. It plays up the world premier of Goyescas in New York, which was supposed to be presented at the Grand Opera House in Paris, before the war postponed the performance indefinitely. When Giulio Gatti-Casazza, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, extended an invitation to bring the opera oversees, Granados agreed. It was a decision that would eventually end his life.

Gandara recalls first meeting Granados, at the inaguration of the Granados Concert Hall in Tividado, Barcelona. Catering to the demands of the crowd, Granados busted out his sketch for the tone poem “Dante” which was still a work in progress at the time, but was still effective in setting off the crowd.

He then recalls a private meeting with the composer in his study. Granados shows him all the Goya paintings that inspired him to write first the piano suite, then the opera. I think the article provides a great insight into Goyesca’s personality. I know I should focus on the opera in wikipedia, but I am tempted to use this article to beef up the page on him as well. It’s something else to do.

A Debate on Arts Education

ArtsJournals.com is currently hosting a debate on blog through Dec 5 on Arts Education.  The following is the list of its distinguished bloggers.  Please do check it out!

Sam Hope, executive director, The National Office for Arts Accreditation (NOAA); 
Jack Lew, Global University Relations Manager for Art Talent at EA; 
Laura Zakaras, RAND; 
James Cuno, Director, Art Institute of Chicago; 
Richard Kessler, Executive Director, Center for Arts Education; 
Eric Booth, Actor; 
Midori, Violinist; 
Bau Graves, Executive director, Old Town School of Folk Music; 
Kiff Gallagher 
Bennett Reimer, Founder of the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, author of A Philosophy of Music Education
Edward Pauly, the director of research and evaluation at the Wallace Foundation; 
Moy Eng, Program Director of the Performing Arts Program at The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; 
John Rockwell, critic; 
Susan Sclafani, Managing Director, Chartwell Education Group;
Jane Remer, Author, Educator, Researcher
Michael Hinojosa, General Superintendent, Dallas Independent School District 
Peter Sellars, director

to review or not to review... a little bit about bemf

This past weekend, I had the privilege of seeing the Boston Early Music Festival. They performed a double feature that included Venus and Adonis by John Blow and Acteon by Charpentier. I thought it was phenomenal, possibly the best show I have been to in my fifteen months of living in Boston. The singing was just marvelous, as was the baroque dancing and the orchestra… oh the orchestra, what can I even say? It was the kind of performance that made want to invest some real time in early music repertoire. In addition, I was pleasantly surprised that I recognized some of the singers who were from Montreal and Toronto (this is something I needed to mention. I have been recently told that we Canadians are a nationalistic bunch). All of this is to say: the concert was awesome. Rock on BEMF!

Here is the conundrum: after the first opera had concluded to roaring applause I turned to my friend launched into my admiration of the music and the performers. I felt a great sense of satisfaction. There was nothing that could take me away from that happy-place. During the intermission we decided to stretch our legs and ended up speaking to one of the many “experts” sitting in the audience. He did not share my opinion. I was slightly irritated when he said, “I didn’t like that piece, it was really weird.” I am not saying that people must always share my opinions on music but little consideration for those who were trying to enjoy themselves would not hurt. On top of that, I felt like this person was expecting us to agree with him and in this case people did. That is what really bothers me. All of a sudden, it turned into a discussion about the faults in the music. I think that we had all heard that piece for the first time and I think that is very easy to be swayed into opinions like that. I don’t think it was the time or place to have such a discussion and tried my best to ignore it for fear that it would color my perception of the second half. I guess that is something that has always been important to me. I like having a fresh perspective on this. This is to the point of always reading program notes where on my way home from a concert rather than before or during. Everyone has their own ways of connecting to a performance.

Here is another conundrum: I have been guilty of the same thing! I remember leaning over to a friend as the applause to another concert was going on and say, “jeez, he sure took a lot of liberties in that…” I was giving my “educated” opinion on the performance. The person next to me was not impressed at all. She had every right to be, I guess, just as I did. Sharing the experience of art feels so important and I think it gets lost in moments like these. I was more upset on Saturday night because I felt alone in my enjoyment of the performance. In the second instance, I had alienated my friend. The moral of the story is not “if you have nothing nice to say, it is better to say nothing at all” but that maybe sometimes it takes a little bit more effort and sensitivity to share a musical (or any artistic) experience. Otherwise, why not just attend a concert alone? I am happy to do it when I travel by myself but it always makes me feel like there is something missing. It’s that connection with other audience members.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Get to Carnegie Hall... via YouTube (?)

Today, the New York Times ran this article on an online project called the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Marketed by Google, this project will allow instrumentalists from all over the world to audition for this symphony orchestra through videotaping their performances and then uploading them on YouTube, where they will be judged by industry professionals (i.e., members of the New York Philharmonic).

There are two parts of the project. Firstly, Tan Dun, a Chinese composer (most famous for his music to Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"), wrote a four-minute orchestral piece. YouTube users can then download the part for their instruments, record themselves performing the parts, and upload their renditions. When all of the entries are judged, the winning videos will be put together for a final YouTube version of the piece.

Secondly, musicians from all over the globe will be able to upload auditions from a prescribed list (orchestral excerpts), and these will be judged by a jury to include members from some of the best orchestras in the world (London Symphony, Berlin Philharmonic, etc.) The panel will create a list of finalists and YouTube users, much in the mode of American Idol, will choose the winners who will be flown to Carnegie Hall in April to appear in a concert conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, the music director of the San Francisco Symphony.

Sounds a bit nutty? Well, in the article, Ed Sanders, YouTube's project marketing director, said that “The idea is to put together the world’s first collaborative online orchestra”... “It’s collaboration in a way and a medium never seen, both with sound and video.” Another aim is the “serendipity of discovery... It would be a dream come true to find a trombone player in Hong Kong who had a rare talent, but nobody knew.”

I think this project has an interesting indication in recognizing the legitimacy of YouTube as a source and repository of 'highbrow' art. Also, it is recognizing it as a vehicle of finding undiscovered talent (hopefully). I imagine that critical opinions of this project would point out the undesirable marriage of commerical/corporate interests (Google & YouTube) and classical music (which many think should be kept locked in its ivory tower). I for one am tickled by this idea of the online symphony orchestra because YouTube, for me, is an invaluable source for all of my classical music needs, and then some. I listen to rare recordings of Richter's piano recitals, and I watch the latest episodes of America's Next Top Model... because I can. I hope this project succeeds, it will be interesting to see where it goes. Plus, anything that Michael Tilson Thomas is involved in is always wonderful :)