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The future is now

I got this email through my arts management grad school list, and it in turn came from one of the former heads of the program.  Since I d have, oh, two or three readers who weren’t dragooned into reading the blog through school (really!), I wanted to pass it along to you. Forwarding for everyone!

I wanted to drop you a line regarding the Future of Music Coalition’s 10th anniversary Policy Summit, which takes place at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., from October 3-5, 2010. The conference unites music industry heavy-weights and international recording artists for one of the most significant conferences in the music industry calendar. This year’s line-up includes presentations from a range of visionaries such as T Bone Burnett (renowned musician, composer and producer), Damian Kulash (frontman, OK Go), Eric Garland (founder, Big Champagne Media Measurement), Ian Rogers (CEO of TopSpin), Joey Burns (from acclaimed experimental Americana outfit Calexico), Tim Westergren of Pandora, independent label legend Tom Silverman of Tommy Boy Records, and Ana Marie Cox (Washington Correspondent, GQ Magazine), to name a few.

There will also be a “Musicians Education Day” on Sunday Oct 3rd where there will be presentations and interactive discussions on subjects ranging from fan analytics to direct-to-consumer case studies to the possible impact of health care reform on musicians. Experts such as Ariel Hyatt of Ariel Publicity/Cyber PR and Ian Rogers of TopSpin Media will offer their insights about surviving — and thriving — in today’s music business.

This is one of the most significant music, technology, and policy conferences of the year and is of huge educational value to the student community. Further details can be found at


If this seems appropriate to your students, we would love your help in getting the word out. Student registration (in advance only) is $20.

Snazzy! I, tragically, will be working at that time, but if anyone is planning to go and wants to give me a recap (guest blog, anyone?), drop me a line. Alternatively, has anyone been in previous years? Describe!


What’s the score marking for “invisible”?

I was going to try to put s’more distance between Rowan Atkinson videos, but whatevs! The man’s a genius. (Also, I want you to know that if I left it up to my cat, this post would be titled “0p[[[[[[[[[[-=”. True story.)


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A reason for change

Q. Why do violinists switch to viola?

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Wii Orchestra? WHEE! Orchestra!

How could I have not known about this?!

So I was at my parents’ house this weekend, and I came upon an old stack of my brother’s Electronic Gaming Monthly magazines. I just bought an Xbox 360 (mostly for the Netflix capabilities, but have you played Limbo yet? I got past the giant one-legged spider, but I cannot figure out the pulley system!), so I decided to flip through a few for a retrospective. I found it inside a volume from 2005: Wii Orchestra.

I know! I know! It’s an orchestra video game! EGM described it as little more than “conducting” a simulated cartoon orchestra by waving your arms around, but looking it up today I find it has evolved into so much more. For starters, we now have Wii Music, and you use these:

The conductor’s baton looks like a dental implement. And that must be one of those 1/4 cellos. And check out that bow! I just… I have not the words. I especially have not the words for the flute. I knew I should’ve gotten a Wii.

Has anyone played this game? What is it like?

Music on the periphery

After yesterday’s post about the beautiful, magnificent All Creatures Great and Small, it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure if Tristan was conducting Mussourgsky in the Mad Conductor scene in the book. So I went back and checked, and by God I was right:

Tristan raised his arms and gazed imperiously over his imaginary orchestra, taking in the packed rows of strings, the woodwind, brass, and timpani in one sweeping glance. Then with a violent downswing he led them into the overture. Rossini, this time, I thought or maybe Wagner as I watched him throwing his head about, bringing in the violins with a waving clenched fist or exhorting the trumpets with a glare and a trembling, outstretched hand.

It was somewhere near the middle of the piece that the rot always set in and I watched enthralled as the face began to twitch and the lips to snarl. The arm waving became more and more convulsive then the whole body jerked with uncontrollable spasms. It was clear that the end was near – Tristan’s eyes were rolling, his hair hung over his face, and he had lost control of the music which crashed and billowed around him. Suddenly he grew rigid, his arms fell to his sides, and he crashed to the floor.

Speaking of Tristan, meet his brother Siegfried:

I was turning to leave when he called me back. “Oh, there’s one other thing I’d like you to do today. My young brother is hitching in from Edinburgh today. He’s at the Veterinary College there and the term finished yesterday. When he gets within striking distance he’ll probably give us a ring. I wonder if you’d slip out and pick him up?”

“Certainly. Glad to.”

“His name is Tristan, by the way.”


“Yes. Oh, I should have told you. You must have wondered about my own queer name. It was my father. Great Wagnerian. It nearly ruled his life. It was music all the time – mainly Wagner.”

“I’m a bit partial, myself.”

“Ah well, yes, but you didn’t get it morning, noon, and night like we did. And then to be stuck with a name like Siegfried. Anyway, it could have been worse – Wotan, for instance.”

“Or Pogner.”

[Siegfried] look startled. “By golly, you’re right. I’d forgotten about old Pogner. I suppose I’ve a lot to be thankful for.”

What I love about these scenes – and others like it – is that All Creatures Great and Small and its sequels are books about a veterinarian. And yet author James Herriot throws in these little nods to the classical music world. It’s like having an inside joke with an old friend.

Do you have any other examples of classical music on the periphery, popping up in odd corners of ostensibly unrelated books and movies?

The Mad Conductor

And now, as a rebuttal to Mr. Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Peter Davison (you may know him as the Fifth Doctor).

(All Creatures Great and Small is the BEST! Straight out of the first book, that was!)

See, this is what happens when you try to Autotune

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Q. What’s the ideal weight for a professional violist?

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You play like a girl!

To start, let me say yes, I agree with you: there are certainly lots of very manly men in the arts. Baryshnikov, for example. James Galway butches up the flute. Yet it is often observed, and I have observed it myself, that the arts (especially the administrative side) are primarily dominated by women.

If you wish to refute this claim, I’m sure you can, and you are free to do so in the comments and give many examples. All I’m saying is that when I worked at the BSO, a good 90% of the fellow employees I encountered were of the feminine persuasion. And I’m idly curious: why do you think that is?

What I’m not idly curious about is the question of whether the cultivation of the arts is considered a girl’s domain, kind of like rearing of children is used to be is used to be [figure this one out yourself].

I raise this question — and please don’t hate me for this; I know it’s cliche to look to the White House for an indication of social norms but I can’t help it — because of a story I read in The Washington Post about the White House Music Series. The article talks about how Michelle Obama hosted and organized it, and made the decisions, and is so into the arts, etc. etc.

I wonder: why is this the duty of the First Lady? Because Shelley O. has a particular love of the arts? Sure, but historically the arts have always been the First Lady’s domain. From the article:

Historically it has always fallen to the East Wing to take the administration’s arts policy and translate it into programs, parties and, ultimately, mythology.

Jackie Kennedy used the arts to help Americans see themselves as cosmopolitan and the White House as a place of grand sophistication. Lady Bird Johnson’s focus on “beautification” quietly highlighted environmentalism, the notion that our surroundings help shape our sense of self and that natural beauty was as vital to the country’s legacy as any painting or sculpture.

And Laura Bush, while perhaps best known for inaugurating the National Book Festival, also dedicated much of President George W. Bush’s second term to using the arts as a tool for international diplomacy in places such as Pakistan.

Is it because Obama has more important things to do? As compared to what? He attends environmental summits and talks economy in Hollywood; do the arts not deserve his equal attention?

Don’t get me wrong; I adore that Mrs. Obama is so firm in her resolve to showcase the arts and has established these outreach programs. I just wonder why the onus falls upon her, and has fallen upon First Ladies before her. Am I being overly sensitive? I’m generally not too worried about gender roles, but it’s not impossible. Perhaps I’m underinformed — I’m pretty apolitical. Maybe you can give me some examples of past presidents doing their own thing with the arts. I just wonder.