The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The University of Wisconsin Pro Arte Quartet lands in Belgium, gets detained at customs and is rescued in time for practicing and playing concerts.

May 22, 2014
17 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Editor’s note: The Well-Tempered Ear has asked people on tour with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Pro Arte Quartet (below, in a photo by Rick Langer) to file whatever dispatches. updates and photos — from iPads, computers, cameras  and smart phones — so that they can to keep the fans back here at home current with what is happening on the concert stage and off.

Here is a link to a schedule of planned events, repertoire and venues:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/classical-music-its-final-and-official-the-university-of-wisconsin-pro-arte-quartet-will-tour-to-belgium-this-week/

Here is the first installment of the tour updates:

Pro Arte Quartet new 2 Rick Langer

For the University of Wisconsin-Madison Pro Arte Quartet, Tuesday night into Wednesday morning was spent flying across the Atlantic Ocean to a one-week tour to the group’s homeland of Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

But despite reassurances from U.D. officials, complications occurred on landing and then going through customs.

Read on:

Showing her sense of humor, Pro Arte Quartet violist Sally Chisholm sends word about starting the quartet’s one-week tour in Belgium and heads it “News from a broad” in the subject line of her email:

“Today, Sarah Schaffer (below) stood eye to eye with the U.S. consulate and freed us from Belgium customs. Our passports for our instruments and bows were the first ever seen at the Brussels airport.

Sarah Schaffer mug

“Despite the initial determination that both Parry and I could not pass through customs in time for the concerts, suddenly, at 3:15 p.m. we were declared admitted by investigators (below):

PAQ Belgium investigators SALLY CHisholm

“Sarah will have details about her consulate experience! A million thanks to Sarah, once again, and to all of our supporters. We are now at our hotel just off the Grand Place, enjoying an evening of warm friendship and memorable cuisine.”

–Sally (below)

Sally Chisholm

And here is the latest from Sarah Schaffer, who works at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music, heads up the Pro Arte Quartet Centennial Committee and is accompanying the quartet on tour:

“Our first afternoon was spent at American Embassy, trying to spring violist Sally Chisholm and cellist Parry Karp (below), who were both detained at the Brussels airport and refused entry into Belgium over the endangered species business about ivory and wood.

“Oh, boy.

Parry Karp

“Also called on our Belgium friends, who reached the cabinet minister in the agency overseeing CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna), and between all efforts we got them sprung.

“We’re all here at last, exhausted, a little tattered, but a much better outcome than we feared for many hours today.”

“Here is a photo of the necessary permit we finally obtained:

-Sarah

PAQ Belgium permit

And here is a link to another posting about the 1973 international law, now being strictly enforced, that has created such fuss and confusion:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/classical-music-catch-the-pro-arte-quartets-free-must-hear-concert-of-the-program-for-its-upcoming-back-to-belgium-tour-on-thursday-night-at-730-especially-sinc/

And here is a link to the official CITES website:

http://www.cites.org

And here is an informational video on YouTube about the well-intentioned, if inconvenient, CITES  law and the role of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

 

 

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Classical music: Is the Vienna Philharmonic sexist? Why does it have so few women players and why doesn’t it book a woman guest conductor for the New Year’s Day gala concert?

January 4, 2012
9 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Yesterday I reviewed and commented on two classical music concerts that took place in New York City on New Year’s Eve. Both seemed largely, even overwhelmingly, successful, according to my own views and to the reviews I directed you to.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, however, things did not go as smoothly – at least not as far as The Ear is concerned.

True, the largely Strauss family concert of waltzes and polkas from the legendary and beautiful Golden Hall (below) in Vienna went largely as it usually has over almost 30 years. As always, it seemed sold-out. And as always, the audience was enthusiastic, clapping merrily along with The Radetsky March finale.

But I also noticed some sharp contrasts with the New York Philharmonic, long-standing contrasts that I did not like.

It is simply this:

Why are there so few women playing in the Vienna Philharmonic (below), especially when compared to the New York Philharmonic? The Vienna Philharmonic is one of the world’s greatest orchestras and would seem to be a draw for top women instrumentalists from around the world.

Is the orchestra’s administration just outright sexist?

Are the audiences and the Viennese public in general that sexist or narrow-minded?

Do women players avoid the orchestra because they feel unwanted or demeaned in the mostly male and possibly hostile or misogynist ensemble, no matter how prestigious it is. I remember the unfortunate trouble that pioneering clarinetist  Sabine Meyer faced with the Berlin Philharmonic when she was hired sand then drummed out of it many years ago.

There is no getting around it, Vienna is a very conservative city and always has been, even though it would like to deny or forget its Nazi past. But you would nonetheless expect more progress over the years, especially given the global spotlight on women’s rights and gender equality in the wake of the Arab Spring.

And how about making history by booking for the widely broadcast  New Year’s Day concert a woman guest conductor – say, the critically acclaimed American protégée of Leonard BernsteinMarin Alsop (below):  

Or the widely travelled and much recorded American conductor JoAnn Falletta (below)?

Or the dynamic Estonia conductor, who has wowed Madison audiences, Anu Tali (below)

And I am sure there are many other fully qualified and capable women conductors I have not named.

If they have already done that, I am unaware of it,. But doing that would send a good signal to young and older women alike, and might even help the orchestra recruit more female musicians. After all, the New Year’s Day concert is billed as the world’s biggest live concert and with an audience of more than one billion listeners in 72 countries.

Would that really be so radical a step?

The Ear says it is time — in fact, long overdue time — for more women players in the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and  for a woman conductor to stand on its podium, especially for the always symbolic and hopeful New Year’s Day Concert.

Hey, Vienna! Make some good history! Strike a blow for women’s equality!

In the mean time, readers and listeners, let us know:

And what you think of so few women playing in the Vienna Philharmonic?

What explains it?

Would you like to see a woman conductor preside ever the New Year’s Day concert?

The Ear wants to hear.


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