The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: As the beginning of a new school year approaches, a parent makes the case for letting students study and major in music and then pursue a musical career – no matter how difficult it seems in the bad job market today.

August 11, 2013
8 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

As the beginning of another new school year approaches, a good and loyal friend of this blog wrote in to say that others should read this essay that she found on-line. It defends students who want to study and even major in music and then go on to pursue a professional career in music. (Below is a photo of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Chamber Orchestra.)

UW Symphony Orchestra 9-2012

This comes at a welcome moment, especially in the wake of the two stories I recently posted by Paul Solman (below), the longtime and prize-winning economics reporter for PBS’ “The Newshour” and a Distinguished Fellow now teaching journalism at Yale University.

Paul Solman hat

In one story Solman explored how difficult it is to pursue music as a career in such a difficult job market as we have today.

Here is a link to that post and story with sources that included gifted student at the Juilliard School and professional musicians:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/classical-music-beauty-is-big-business-and-a-hard-job-pbs-economics-reporter-paul-solman-insightfully-explores-how-hard-it-is-to-find-good-jobs-for-even-the-most-talented-musicians-and-othe/

And then Solman followed it up with a story, using some of the sources, about how young musicians should develop entrepreneurial skills.

Here is a link to that story:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/classical-music-todays-young-classical-musicians-need-to-develop-skills-as-business-entrepreneurs-according-to-a-very-credible-newshour-report-by-ace-pbs-economics-reporte/

And here is the blog essay by a parent who works in music making the case that young students should indeed be allowed to pursue their dreams of a musical m career and not dissuaded towards a “real” career.

It makes for good reading and perhaps sage advice. So here is a link:

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130728144536-52594-let-the-kid-study-music-already

Along similar lines, here is a story about the famous Berklee College of Music (below) in Boston that is linking up with a business program:

http://www.boston.com/yourcampus/news/berklee/2013/08/berklee_launches_first_all-online_mba_in_music_business.html

Berklee College of Music

How does the blog essay defending musical careers compare with the realities, the fears and the rewards that you, your children and others you know have experienced?

The Ear – -who likes and favors a flexible liberal arts education education and who thinks we often end up making a living and having a career in a field we never expected to enter — wants to hear.


Classical music: Award-winning pianist Stephen Hough is an accomplished polymath or Renaissance man who also blogs and paints. His personal history is fascinating. So are the sharp stylistic differences he demonstrates in different art forms.

August 4, 2013
2 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

Longtime readers of this blog know my admiration for the British pianist Stephen Hough (below).

Hough_Stephen_color16

Hough, who won the prestigious Naumberg Competition while at the Juilliard School, plays the piano superbly well and has a large shelf full of international awards for his recordings on the Hyperion label. He especially likes to explore less well-known repertoire.

He is a terrific teacher and coach, as I have witnessed firsthand in a masterful master class (below) in Madison.

But in addition to his career as a concert pianist, the supremely talented Hough — who is an astonishingly accomplished polymath or Renaissance man — also writes a regular and highly informative and entertaining blog for the Telegraph newspaper in the United Kingdom. He touches on everything from, of course, the piano (especially historic pianists and performances) to theology (an openly gay man he converted to Roman Catholicism at 19) and fashion (especially his fondness for hats). One of his best entries for me was about the role of hitting wrong notes:

https://welltempered.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/classical-music-how-do-you-cope-with-wrong-notes-you-hit-or-hear-pianist-stephen-hough-has-a-healthy-and-helpful-point-of-view/

Here is a link to his website:

http://stephenhough.com/index.php

Here is a link to his marvelous blog:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/author/stephenhough/

What most people – and I include myself – – most admire about Hough’s playing is its clarity, its sense of measure and proportion.

As he himself says, he is not much given to “hairy-chested” interpretations of big, intense Russian music like Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. His recent award-winning recording of the complete Chopin waltzes shows his ability to find new and convincing things to say about familiar works and he says them clearly as well as gracefully and elegantly. (Just listen to the YouTube video at the bottom.)

Stephen Hough Chopin waltzes CD cover

He discusses his approach in a fine interview and profile that appeared in The New York Times just before a Carnegie Hall recital this past spring in which is also played his latest big work, his own Sonata “Notturno luminoso.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/arts/music/stephen-hough-brings-his-eclectic-style-to-carnegie-hall.html?pagewanted=all

And here is a review in the Times of that recital:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/06/arts/music/stephen-hough-at-carnegie-hall.html?_r=0

hough

But the real surprise for me came when I about and saw his style of painting. He paints in oils, and he exhibits and sells his art.

But unlike his music-making, his painting of this MacArthur “genius award” winner seems almost violently Abstract Expressionist.

Here are a couple of examples:

Stephen Hough painting Impromptu

Stephen Hough painting Bunte Blatter IIBut of course ultimately it is piano playing that keeps Hough – who resides in the UK, New York and Australia – in the public eye. Listen to this Chopin waltz and you can understand why.


Classical music: Beauty is big business and a hard job. PBS’ economics reporter Paul Solman insightfully explores how hard it is to find good jobs for even the most talented musicians and other performing artists. Plus, Madison Opera’s 12th annual Opera in the Park is tonight at 8.

July 13, 2013
4 Comments

ALERT : Just a reminder that the Madison Opera‘s 12th annual FREE Opera in the Park (below) will be held tonight at 8 p.m. in Garner Park on Madison’s far west side. The outdoor concert will feature guests soloists, the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Madison Opera Chorus and the Madison Youth Choirs, all under the baton of conductor John DeMain. It is a great program that looks forward to next season and includes Broadway theater, and the weather looks to be pleasantly coolish if not exactly perfect. For more information, here is a link: http://www.madisonopera.org/performances-2012-2013/park/

Opera in Park 2012 crowd 2 James Gill

By Jacob Stockinger

Probably my favorite economics reporter these days is Paul Solman (below) of PBS TVI like the clarity and simplicity of his reporting, and the comparisons he makes as well as the original angles he takes on his subject. He comes up with great story ideas and then turns them into great stories. If that isn’t the definition of an outstanding journalist, I don’t know what is.

I love watching and hearing Solman’s reports on the “PBS Newshour.” I also admire him because he continues to work — and love his work — at age 68, despite a brush with serious illness. The Boston-based Solman doesn’t just report for PBS, but he also holds down a second job teaching as a Distinguished Fellow at Yale University. Plus, I like his sense of humor and irony about himself that comes through his stories, and how he interviews himself in a YouTube video at the bottom of this post. 

Paul Solman hat

Of course there are other economics reporters I like and hold in high regard from my political perspective.

At the Wall Street Journal, I like David Wessel, who also makes regular appearances on PBS shows like “Washington Week.”

At The New York Times, I like Joe Nocera, who also does guest spots on PBS; Andrew Ross Sorkin, the articulate author of “Too Big to Fail,” who so clearly documented how The Great Recession came about; the Nobel Prize-winning researcher, columnist and Princeton University professor Paul Krugman (below), who debunks right-wing lies, baloney and mythology with hard facts; and Gretchen Morgenson who appears on a variety of other media outlets.

And I like Zanny Minton Beddows and Greg Ip of The Economist. Both explain complex matters clearly and succinctly as well as fairly.

Paul Krugman

I am sure there are more, but those will do to illustrate the point.

Yet perhaps the reason I like Paul Solman’s reports the most is because he goes at economics from angles that others economists and economics reporters ignore or don’t think are important.

I feel close to that same approach because I also took it back n the days when I was an arts reporter at the daily evening newspaper The Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin.

A lot of money changes hands through the arts. And a lot of economic development takes place through the arts, especially since Richard Florida (below) has popularized the idea of the key role that the Creative Class plays in generating new prosperity.

richard florida

Curiously, though I have found that arts organizations – and even many arts patrons and customers – resist that quantitative economic approach because linking money and the arts somehow seems to dirty the hands of the artists – a really stupid reaction. That kind of knee-jerk elitism, as well as the kind of misplaced and desperate secrecy that arts groups often wrap their financial operations in, does a deep disservice to the big business of beauty.

Of course, non-monetary values are vital, central in the performing arts and visual arts. (Did you know for example that the biggest tourist attraction in New York City is the Metropolitan Museum of Art?) But as many arts organizations have found out, without the appropriate financial backing, that non-monetary message won’t go anywhere.

Anyway, recently Paul Solman explored the problem of young performing artists finding and keeping good jobs. As examples, he even went to some of the most talented performing artists and musicians whom he found as students (below) at the prestigious, exclusive and expensive Juilliard School in Manhattan, where classes are held in dance and acting as well as music.

Juilliard School BIG

Juilliard students

Here is a link to his report. I urge all fans of the arts — participants, audiences or patrons – to look at and listen to the video and not just read the transcript.

Solman’s report is nothing short of eye-opening and helps to explain why so many of the most talented musicians I meet at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music are choosing to relegate music to a secondary role as an lifelong avocation or serious hobby while they pursue degrees and careers in the sciences or technology or some other more lucrative and secure profession. (Below, a UW students performs in Mills Hall.)

Beethoven sonatas 26 Margaret Runaas

It also helps explain why regional symphony orchestras are rising in quality and why recently there were almost 40 applicants from across the U.S. who actually made the final auditions for the open chair of Principal Tuba with the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

Here is the link. Enjoy and think, and let The Ear know your reactions:

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business/jan-june13/artists_06-27.html

 


    Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,203 other followers

    Blog Stats

    • 2,077,346 hits
    September 2019
    M T W T F S S
    « Aug    
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    30  
%d bloggers like this: