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Does classical want a new audience or a larger old audience?

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In a 1982 interview Merce Cunningam described how John Cage's satori came when he separated sound from meaning. Today in the classical world the assumption that sound must have meaning dominates. Programmatic symphonies are supplemented by film music and musicals with meaningful narratives, and socially meaningful - aka virtue signalling - programming in a futile attempt to attract a new audience . But the target for a new classical audience is, by definition, the non-classical audience. And that non-classical audience values sound far above meaning .  Do classical experts realise that electronic dance music (EDM) is the default soundtrack of a large chunk of the non-classical audience? Do these experts realise that the hegemony of ear-bud/headphone listening and bass-heavy Atmos mixes have permanently changed the expectations of non-classical listeners? Is this preoccupation with meaning why recorded sound is so rarely mentioned in classical reviews? Did Proms' atten

You Musk hear this new classical album

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Fascinating how the classical influencers who use Twitter to claim the moral high ground within and beyond the classical industry remain resolutely silent about the current unfair and unethical employment practices at Twitter. However one notable exception is Igor Levit who has quit the social media platform (again). Art conceived as pure marketing must be treated with extreme caution. But Igor Levit's Tristan album , with its commendable advocacy of Hans Werner Henze 's Tristan scored for piano, tape and full orchestra, and Ronald Stevenson 's piano arrangement of the Adagio from Mahler's uncompleted Tenth Symphony, reaches the heights that social media can't. Igor Levit may be outrageous; but he provides a valuable service encouraging others within classical's increasingly conservative culture to be slightly outrageous.

Now we rise and we are everywhere

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Nick Drake has featured here many times  over the years. A new addition to the Nick Drake resources is Demian Dorelli's Pink Moon - A Journey on Piano . Impressive interpretation complimented by impressive piano sound captured in Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios . For some, including this listener, the style may be a little too Einauidu for comfort. But an awful lot of people like Ludovico Einaudi . And Einaudi sometimes sounds like Philip Glass on a bad day. And classical music needs a new audience. So what is there to complain about? Now we rise and we are everywhere is a quote from the last track on Pink Moon . It is inscribed on Nick's headstone  at Tanworth-in-Arden.

The good, the bad and the ugly

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Inuit hunters in the Artic regions know they catch most by watching the edges. The CD Call to Prayer . This juxtaposes music from Marin Marais, Antoine Forqueray, and Jean de Sainte-Colombe with classical Arab maqams  and Indian Dhrupad ragas . It is the work of respected early music specialist, viol player and Hathor Consort director Romina Lischka and Tunisian mondo-musician, singer, dancer, poet and actress Ghalia Benali , and this very good album has enough edge to satisfy any Intuit hunter. Which is why I am recommending it. Also worth catching is Ghalia Benali's CD Dhrupad Fantasia which interweaves the modality of Indian ragas with the polyphony of Tudor England. Edge of a very different kind is delivered by Moroccan author and painter Mahi Binebin 's novel Horses of God . It uses the first person voice of Yachine, a boy growing up in the Casablanca slums, to tell how together with his friends he was radicalised and coerced into becoming a suicide bomber. Ho

Can there be yang without yin?

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Should Furtwängler and Karajan be condemned for perpetuating their careers in a toxic political environment ? Should musicians with Russian connections be demonised? Difficult questions which, like Rinzai Zen Buddhist koans, are  translogical queries which have no obvious answer . I was reminded of these troubling questions by the difficult position some contemporary musicians are being put in due to their varying connections with Russia.  Estonian conductor Kristan Järvi's sin was to publish an ambivalent statement on his relationship with the Baltic Sea Philharmonic orchestra which he is the Music Director and Founding Conductor of. The Baltic Sea Philharmonic  brings together musicians from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden, and, yes, Russia. So Jarvi's ambivalence can probably be explained by an understandable desire not to alienate musicians with unknown political allegiances who play very well for him.  The purpose of this pos

Interest in Arvo Pärt is mushrooming

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Gunther Herbig's CD of his transcriptions for electric guitar of Arvo Pärt's music was recommended in my previous post . That new release should also have been recommended for Gunther Herbig's sleeve essay which is a much-needed reminder that great music is a personal and private experience, and not a Facebook moment . Here is an extract:  "As wanderers through time and space we navigate by certain key experiences that shape and influence the charts by which we travel. One of those key moments in my life happened on a Sunday. It was the mid-80s in the beautiful North German town of Lübeck where I studied music. It was winter, a magical bright sunny day and, like in a Brueghel painting, the colours mixed between the blue of the sky, the gold of the sun, the white set of the snow and ice and the dark winter clothes of strolling people on the frozen river Wakentiz against the red bricks of the city.  Maybe it was the magic mushrooms. It was a shamanic and spiritual exp

What is the sound of no CD playing?

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Is the sound of no CD playing the silence that Erling Kagge  explored , Ajahn Sumedho identified , and John Cage immortalised ? Or is it the sound of streamed music like water ? Maybe it is the same sound as no audience clapping  or perhaps the eerie silence of a hall emptied by lazy click bait programming . Or is it just the relentless white noise of social media ?  Whatever the answer - if indeed there is an answer - 'What is the sound of no CD playing' is an example of a translogical question known in the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism - hat tip to John Cage  - as a koan. In his book Bring Me the Rhinoceros John Tarrant explains that koans highlight the importance of creative moves, encourage doubt and curiosity, and undermine reasons and explanations.  My undiminished curiosity and distrust of explanations led me to buy two recent CD releases -  Sangam from sitarist Paul Livingstone and cellist Pete Jacobson, and Wherever I Go... Arvo Pärt  from Gretsch White Falcon gu