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Classical 101

Getting Music Out of the Concert Hall

With the advent of YouTube, flash mobs have become big entertainment and a great marketing tool.  There's something about having theHallelujah Chorus break out in "surround sound" in a shopping mall that is stirring and exciting. Maybe this is one way to breathe some new life into music appreciation. For many, concert halls are intimidating.  The same questions arise repeatedly...what do I wear, when do I clap, is the music over?  While performance etiquette is important, maybe a little less decorum is called for. When Karelia by Jean Sibelius debuted, he wrote his brother that "You couldn't hear a single note of the music—everyone was on their feet cheering and clapping." While concert halls are certainly the best place to hear music acoustically speaking, having a few musicians pop up in unexpected places to perform a few minutes of Bach or Debussy could help lessen the "fear of the unknown" for those who are unfamiliar with classical music.  I applaud those who endeavor to break down these barriers. Read The Challenge of New Music in New Places (New Music Box)

Plight of the Page Turner

We've all seen them...the person sitting quietly, hands folded, dutifully following the piano score.  Then, zip!  They bounce up, turn the page, and quickly resume their seat. They are the page turners...people who must know the music and the performer well enough to turn the page at the precise moment necessary.  Too soon or too late, who knows?  I've never seen that happen. There has been a book (The Page Turner, by David Leavitt, from 1998) and a film (La tourneuse de pages, a 2006 thriller directed by Denis Dercourt). In the film, a young pianist is waiting for the opportunity for revenge against one conservatory judge.  Matthew Guerrieri writes at NewMusicBox.org that neither account really tells the story. Read The Plight of the Page Turner (New Music Box)

Peter Nero Next Casualty in Philly?

The turmoil surrounding the Philadelphia Orchestra threatens to add another casualty to the proceedings.  Two months ago, negotiations were reopened on Peter Nero's contract in an attempt to further reduce operating expenses for the orchestra. Now, with no agreement in sight, both sides are heading to bankruptcy court to plead their respective cases. Read Philly Pops Threatens to Drop Peter Nero as Music Director (philly.com)