Crackcritic was ill on a recent sojourn to visit his mother in Texas, and so can only rant deliriously about a dinner with old friends, all successful musicians.
In what Texan capital city did the broadsheet actually print this line in a concert review:
“’This is stressing me out,” someone said in the seats behind me. She was reacting to the just-finished first movement of Bartok’s violin concerto, and it was a fair response to a composer who is rarely soothing to listen to.”
Who is the prominent composer that, after writing a critical private letter to the editor regarding this review, received this snide, tart dismissal: “You guys are elitists.” (He told us, “I will never speak to her again. They’ll trash me in that rag, and so what?” He also canceled his season subscription to this city’s fine regional orchestra.)
Who is the the newest board member who used this review as justification for her new ‘Program Committee’ to censor pieces deemed unsuitable to the public (hers)? Her musical discernment apparently ends at Suzuki Book 4.
Who is the unlucky conductor, long a champion of American music clear in melodic and post-tonal forms, that had to eat it with a smile as his ambitious and honorable plan of five world premieres, two by Pulitzer winning composers, was scuttled by said committee because, as world premieres, there are no recordings available for them to condemn. Is it about toy poodles or Chihuahuas that this aforementioned board person devotes her idle time at concerts in reverie, resenting any distraction from disrupting music?
As a performer it is always upsetting to fulfill impossible program demands by ignorant promoters and presenters, either overlong, completely uninspired, or harebrained. I have a great respect for maestros who are forced to pander to those who would butter their bread, and I do not begrudge their salaries.
To those wishing to join the distinguished rank of an esteemed orchestral board, I propose a simple standardized test as follows:
- · List any five composers and put them in chronological order.
- · How many symphonies did Beethoven write?
- · Name one opera composer.
- · Name one opera (Broadway musicals are acceptable.)
- · Name one of each, living or dead: a conductor (your music director is acceptable) a violinist, a pianist and a singer (classical, Broadway or jazz are acceptable).
- · Name a world-class American and European orchestra.
- · Fill in the blanks: The bow is a device used to play a ------ instrument.
- · The mouthpiece of a brass instrument must be ----- through to produce sound.
- · The timpani, also called the kettledrums, are a type of ----.
- · Name one 20th century composer (Debussy or Ravel is acceptable.)
- · Name one living composer. A 20th or 21st century visual artist is acceptable if you own at least one of their works worth over $10 million. Please include the work’s name.
- · Did you or your children take music lessons?
- · Which note lasts longer, a whole note with a fermata
or a 64th note?
- · In at least one complete sentence, explain why you would rather be on the board of a symphony orchestra than a country club. (If you are a club member, could you hire the musicians on the side? Kitchen work is bad for the hands, though brass players could play Elizabethan flourishes for a hole in one, and Renaissance dirges for a bogey.)
Delirious silliness aside, if this local example of the unrelenting dumbing down of our cultural institutions for commercial exploitation continues, and infuriates you as it does me, let’s meet for sedation soon at an institution.
What is Barenboim’s price for an ‘Annie, Get Your Gun?’ The NY Phil generously makes itself available for bar mitzvahs. Why isn’t this all just a bad dream???