On that sleeve for his 1985 recording of the Goldberg Variations , Scott Ross is seen standing in the grounds of Château d'Assas in Languedoc. It was here that many of his great recordings were made. Then, as today, the château dwelt in the twilight zone between grandeur and dereliction, and thirty years ago the recording sessions were regularly interrupted by the sound of rats scurrying across the floor. Scott Ross was born in Pittsburgh in 1951, and moved to France with his mother following the death of his father in 1964. He studied at the conservatoires in Nice and Paris, and first came to Château d'Assas in 1969 to give music lessons to the grandson of its owner Mme. Simone Demangel . When an early music academy was established at the château, the harpsichordist gave masterclasses and became a frequent visitor. At first he stayed in a room in one of the towers, but from 1983 he rented a small house across the road from the château. The photos below were taken by me on a
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It is reported that Everett Lee has died at the grand old age of 105. Everett Lee was an early victim of the institutionalised racism that still pervades classical music, and he deserves far more than to be lauded in a trite obituary and then forgotten again. My Overgrown Path articles about him ten years ago were in the vanguard of the movement to give musicians of colour the recognition they deserve. So here again are three of those articles: 'I don't believe in Negro symphony conductors': July 25th 2011 'Oh, come in, young man. I'm reading these reviews. They are out of this world. You really have something. But I might as well tell you, right now, I don't believe in Negro symphony conductors. No, you may play solo with our symphonies, all over this country. You can dance with them, sing with them. But a Negro, standing in front of a white symphony group? No. I'm sorry.' That is the impresario Arthur Judson discussing career opportunities with
Bernard Haitink's 2016 recording of Mahler's Third Symphony is arguably the greatest interpretation of that towering work committed to record. It is also one of the last testaments from a conductor who together with Georg Solti, Herbert von Karajan, Sir Adrian Boult, Colin Davis and others defined a golden age of classical music. In response to my post ' Classical music's biggest problem is that no one cares ' reader David has posted a comment that starts by asking "...have all the really great performances, recordings indeed all the greatest musicians come and gone?" He then goes on to observe that "I haven't heard anything in the last twenty or more years that compares with previous generations". The classical industry has spent much time agonising over its failed attempts to reach a new audience. But an even bigger problem has received little attention. Not only is the new young audience remaining elusive, but the older lon
Back in 2008 I curated what was probably the first and only broadcast of a complete lilal night healing ritual performed by the sub-Saharan musicians known as Gnawa. As a result of that broadcast, eight years later I was invited to a Gnawa trance ritual in Essaouira on Morocco's Atlantic coast. That lilal was a private devotional event which I was privileged to attend with a Moroccan Sufi friend. But like all musicians, the Gnawa rely on commercial performances for their income. That source of income was abruptly terminated by the Covid pandemic. Which has left many Gnawa musicians facing extreme hardship in a country where fiscal safety-nets are much more fallible than in the West, and as a result a priceless cultural tradition is at risk. Now there has been a heartwarming attempt to alleviate, at least in part, the musicians' hardship. A UNESCO intiative led to 75 gnawan master musicians gathering in Essaouira in December for the filming of a two hour TV special
A reader's perceptive comment explained that to reach a new audience classical music must help listeners across the classical/non-classical divide. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is the immensely popular staple fare of classical's elusive new young audience, and EDM lacks any narrative progression. Classical music can also be non-linear: one example is John Luther Adams' Become Desert , a seamless 40 minute sonic mirage which abandons the horizontal narrative structures of works such as Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony with its 'Awakening of cheerful feelings on arrival in the countryside'. Become Desert sits comfortably in the concert hall, yet it would not be out of place in a sunset session at Ibiza's Café Del Mar or a full moon trance party on Koh Pha Ngan . As John Luther Adams described in a New York Times essay , Become Desert literally entrances its audience - "You find yourself listening in ways you never have before. The scale of yo
Wenatchee the Hatchet has left the comment below on my post ' Have all the really great musicians come and gone? ' For those with a maximum attention span of 280 characters the money quote is "I think working across all the musical genre boundaries to sustain a synergistic theoretical and practical cross-genre collaboration among musicians and composers could help people across the pop/classical divides... but music journalism and scholarship too often seems set on antagonizing the scene rather than exploring possible convergences". I suggest those words of wisdom should be the New Year's resolution for the classical industry. The accompanying graphics are from the predictably ignored The Arabian Passion according to J.S Bach from the genre-defying early music ensemble Sarband : music samples here and here . Now this is Wenatchee the Hatchet's quote: 'I know Doug Shadle is working hard to get [Florence] Price heard more but what I've heard is &q
These photos was taken by me at a music workshop for local women run by Sufi adept Ahmed Abdelhak Kaâb in Essaouira on Morocco's Atlantic coast. Long-standing readers will know of my love for Morocco and the ageless wisdom of its generous people . Recently TIME Magazine selected Elon Musk as its “Person of the Year” . Morocco World News put this gesture of vacuous sycophancy firmly in its place with a coruscating op-ed . Below is the conclusion from that exemplary piece of journalism which contains a powerful message not just for the classical music industry , but for all humanity. 'In the end, perhaps Elon Musk does deserve to be “Person of the Year.” He deserves it not for any contributions he has made to humanity, he deserves it as it serves as an apt example of our current world. Indeed, Musk's brazen adulation and celebration perfectly captures a culture where pandemic responses are limited by profit-making, where business booms amid economic crisis, where v
As pointed out here previously Norman Lebrecht's Slipped Disc receives the unequivocal support of the classical music industry in the form of advertising, exclusive news and interviews, advertorial partnerships, and complimentary concert tickets and CDs. Yesterday Norman published an article headlined 'US orchestra: Conductor wanted. No whites need apply' which was sourced from the National Review . This conservative publication has a certain notoriety, including being one of the few media outlets to publish material written by Jeffrey Epstein's publicist Christina Galbraith . The National Review also publishes contributions by Dinesh D'Souza who has tweeted "So Rosa Parks wouldn't sit in the back of the bus--that's all she did, so what's the big fuss?" and this year ran an article bylined 'The Editors' proposing that the Equality Act "represents is a cynical attempt to use the Civil Rights Act as a Trojan horse for radi
Jon Blake's novel 69ers about the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival has an apposite epigraph: Note to the reader : this novel originally began by quoting the first verse of The Ballad of John and Yoko . However, not wanting to kiss the ass of Sony/ATV Music Publishing nor pay them a penny for permission to use lyrics freely available all over the web, I trust to your own initiative in seeking them out for yourself.
Angela Merkel's choice of mother-of-punk Nina Hagen to perform at her departure ceremony chimes with my recent Scott Ross thread . Despite being an authority of the music of Bach and Rameau, Scott Ross had refreshingly wide-ranging tastes in music. Here is Michel Proulx's description from his privately-published biography Scott Ross, Claveciniste - Un Destin Inachevé . '[Scott Ross] also liked synthesisers because he loved Brian Eno's, or Philip Glass' music, but also that of Nina Hagen and other artists from the 'non-formal' scene. I believe it was enough to present him with a subject which he would like for him to catch on it'. It was with the help of harpsichord maker, Zen Buddhist and biographer Michel Proulx that I found Scott Ross' little house in Assas which featured in my homage Scott Ross and the paradox of genius .