Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Atlanta Chamber Players battle acoustics in works by Clara and Robert Schumann

One of the signs that autumn has finally arrived in Atlanta is the beginning of the new concert season for many groups, including the Atlanta Chambers Players (ACP). Contemporary works, works of the well-known masters, and those of the not-so-well-known comprise most ACP programs. Sunday’s program in Moore Chapel at the beautiful Peachtree Road United Methodist Church was no exception.

For the complete review, click here: http://www.earrelevant.net/2019/10/review-atlanta-chamber-players-battle-acoustics-in-works-by-clara-and-robert-schumann/

Monday, October 14, 2019

In the Jungle...

Mr. Braitberg played the violin for 42-years as a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Here are some of his recollections. No, it's not about "Sex, Drugs and Classical Music" like Mozart's Jungle.

Friday, October 4, 2019

A Hot Fall night...

There have been 90 days of above 90 degrees (F) in Atlanta, even into early October. It seems that one's sole quest is to move from one air-conditioned space to another, as quickly as possible. Last evening the chillers were working overtime in Symphony Hall; they had to because the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, under music director Robert Spano, gave a red-hot performance.
Tengku Irfan and Robert Spano © Nunnally Rawson
Tengku Irfan and Robert Spano
© Nunnally Rawson
This is the second concert weekend that began with works of Richard Wagner. The Preludes to Act 1 and 3 from Lohengrin are fine examples of the composer’s romanticism, the first being particularly rich and beautiful, full of mystical lyricism. The introductory passages are played by the high strings, and rather than lush and transparent, the violins sounded rather steely and hard. As the piece progressed their sound became richer and sweeter. The Act 3 Prelude provided an opportunity for the horns to shine, and indeed they did; their confidence and accuracy added to the power of the performance. Maestro Spano chose a brisk tempo that entirely suited. 

Monday, September 30, 2019

Coro Vocati sings inriguing songs...

Review: Coro Vocati sings intriguing songs from diverse cultures

William Ford | 30 SEP 2019
Artists, including musicians, have attempted to represent or otherwise portray cultures different from their own. Verdi, an Italian, gave us his take on Egypt in his opera Aida. Similarly two Slavic composers gave their impressions of Italy (Tchaikovsky in his Capriccio Italien) and Spain (Rimsky Korsakov in his Capriccio Espagnole). Some even gave us their impression of ancient times (Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe). We know that the Italian street band is not a 100-piece symphony orchestra, but we give license to the composer to share with us their thoughts, feelings, ideas of other cultures as represented in their music.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Tllting at windmills?

Joshua Reynolds, classical music writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote this provocative article about the cost of attending cultural events: https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/music/2019/09/23/classical-music-tickets-cost-price-expensive-elite-symphony-opera-Pittsburgh/stories/201909180142

I have a  slightly alternative view, as an artist, and as someone who writes a good deal about classical music.  Who wouldn’t want to buy tickets as cheaply as possible?  Who wouldn’t want to attend every opera for nearly free?  Who wouldn’t want a Rembrandt hanging in their local pub for all to see at only the cost of a beer?  But that really isn’t the issue.   

What we pay for something is an indication, obviously, of its worth.  People spend over $100 a day to go to a theme park.  They value that experience commensurate with what they pay for it.  Too much money you say?  Don’t go.  Yet, Disney deserves to recoup its costs, plus some for profits.  Symphonies are the same, except that their operational costs are so high that to expect tickets sales to cover their costs is out of the question.  Why should musicians give away their services?  For the same reason, your physician doesn’t give away theirs. But why are symphonies so expensive to operate? Because there are roughly 100 highly skilled musicians on stage, playing music in a hall that requires, heat, light, and air handling.  Let’s not forget that in major symphonies, the musicians have spent their lives honing their art and spending roughly half a work-week preparing for a concert.  Further, they are led by often extremely talented conductors who also act as the organization’s music director.  And wait- there is more.  Since ticket sales don’t cover the costs, there has to be staff to bring in donor money, to invest that money, manage it and otherwise pay the bills.  But doesn’t the government give them a lot of grants? Well, no.

I think that cost is only one of the reasons some people chose not to attend symphony concerts d.  If someone gave me a free ticket to attend a Falcon’s football game, I wouldn’t go.  It’s not what I like to choose spending my time doing.  It doesn’t interest me and provides me no satisfaction.  For some people, the same is true of symphony concerts.  The “No wayers” have definitive ideas of what they don’t like.  But there is that group that may have their interest piqued enough that they might be interested in going, and that is the group that should be listened to about what they would like, and marketed to.  

Listening to classical music is not easy.  It requires engagement, concentration, and a willingness to sit for about two hours.  That just isn’t for many, who are used to fast editing in movies and TV.  I think that one of the attractions of the Harry Potter movies for young people is that no scene lasts for more than a minute.  I find them exhausting to watch, but I can engage, concentrate on, and sit through two hours of some of humanity’s greatest creations. 

Maybe we should reach younger audiences by providing more information through their mobile phones, for example, of what to expect regarding the music, the non-existent dress code, logistics, etc.  That should be followed up with information during a concert about what is being heard and why it matters.  That might, in fact, lead to greater engagement, concentration, and learning for some of the fence-sitters. 

In addition, some kind of monthly subscription that would allow someone to attend a concert as many time as they wished could be offered.  This would probably work best for the cheap seats, but it might be a way to guarantee a predictable income for a season. 

And one big-ticket item is parking.  That’s a tough nut to crack, especially when concert halls are located in the heart of most old cities.  But that is another discussion.

The innaugural concert of the ASO's 75th anniversary season...

Every year, September’s arrival marks the beginning of the new concert season for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. But this is no ordinary concert year in Atlanta, marking the milestone of the orchestra's 75th anniversary. The ASO was born in a town that had not yet morphed into today's Atlanta, an economic and cultural powerhouse of the southeastern United States. As the city has become prominent, so too has the ASO; it is arguably the pre-eminent cultural force in the region. Over the past several years, it has found increased financial stability and artistic strength. It is notable this season that the ASO has added six new musicians, two of whom are principals (cello and second violin). The infusion of young new talent is added reason to celebrate this anniversary.

Click here to complete the discussion: 

Friday, August 23, 2019


Earrelevant.net, Mark Gresham's informative website, based in Atlanta, graciously published my reviews of classical music events I attended at the Edinburgh Fringe and International Festivals.  Links are here: