The press of business being what it is, I’ll have to do news briefs:
Classical TV: Next month, Classical TV will launch online with events such as pay-per-view opera; this is a British effort run by Chris Hunt, who was the chief executive of London’s DCD Media. Like Medici TV, a joint European effort that I became a big fan of last year, the organizers of Classical TV are promising a lot of good video of classical music along with jazz and theater (which explains that Victor/Victoria bill in the upper left of the placeholder screen).
I applaud any and all efforts to make classical music events as normative as possible, because they are in the first place, and in the second, sending this content over the Net is going to be one of the very best ways to keep interest in this music not just alive but thriving. I’ll be checking it out next month for sure.
Music for Obama: I really should do a longer piece on ceremonial music and whether it’s necessary for it to be wonderful or not. Aside from her hat, the most notable thing about Aretha Franklin’s performance of My Country, ‘Tis of Thee was how her voice has gotten lighter and thinner over the years. It was an extravagant performance of the song, but I sort of liked it.
The other interesting piece was the piano quartet with clarinet featuring Gabriela Montero, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and Anthony McGill (seen at the top of this post). I thought John Williams’ piece wasn’t bad; it was American-sounding in a Coplandesque way, and it was a nice touch for the inauguration. It’s hard, though, even though it was short, to have what is essentially an intimate piece of chamber music played for a gigantic event like the Obama inaugural.
But I can see the piece doing well as an additional filler on a chamber music program with the Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time; it provides another good reason to keep the clarinetist around, and I have a feeling we might be hearing some more of the work in seasons to come. (Here’s an NYT piece about the practice sessions for the work.)
Quartet to come: I’ve been looking this week at the score for Thomas Sleeper’s new Third String Quartet, which gets a premiere next week by the group for which it was written, the Delray String Quartet. The Delrays will have their work cut out for them; this is a demanding piece, though not impossible, and I think it will make a strong impression.
I don’t know how often critics these days look at the scores of pieces before premieres. I’ve always tried to do it whenever I could since it gives me a chance to know what’s going to happen and give the work perhaps a more judicious hearing. But on the other hand, there’s something to be said for hearing it for the first time just like everyone around you, and in sometimes I don’t know which approach is better.
Two months: Palm Beach ArtsPaper marked two months of existence today, and soon we hope to have the new Website up and running. We’re also looking forward to some print versions of the online content before long.