Learning to Hate: A Story Whose Relevance Reaches Beyond the West Side

At the climax of West Side Story, Maria brandishes the gun that killed her star-crossed lover, Tony, and declares that, "We all killed him," because of the unbroken cycle of violence and hate between the two rival gangs. "I can kill now," Maria screams, "Because I hate now too!" When they programmed a concert performance … Continue reading Learning to Hate: A Story Whose Relevance Reaches Beyond the West Side

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Resurrection of Hope

It's been a hell of a week. As we struggled to process the murder of Alton Sterling, we learned of the murder of Philando Castile. The Washington Post tells us 509 people have been killed by police this year. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune tells us that 148 people have been killed by police in Minnesota since 2000 … Continue reading Resurrection of Hope

Conductors Conducting the Climax of Mahler 2

The Symphony No. 2 by Gustav Mahler is the biggest, most epic symphonic statement since Beethoven's 9th. It's subtitled "Resurrection," and the work climaxes with the words: O Pain, You piercer of all things, From you, I have been wrested! O Death, You conqueror of all things, Now, are you conquered! With wings which I … Continue reading Conductors Conducting the Climax of Mahler 2

LA Phil 2016-17: By the Numbers

I do this every year: leave the punditry to others and tally up the stats. Here's what 2016-17 looks like at the LA Phil. Unlike in years past, I have only included performances by the LA Phil--no visiting artists. 21 commissions, 14 world premieres, 5 U.S. premieres, and 5 West Coast premieres. This beats last … Continue reading LA Phil 2016-17: By the Numbers

How to Fix Classical Music

Money (1950). Lascivious musicians (1530). The gramophone (1930). Money (1969). Claude Debussy (1902). The violin (1740). Money (1683). YouTube (2013). Ludwig van Beethoven (1827). Money (1903). Popular music (1324). The compact disc (2009). Money (1987). Figured bass (1609). An aging audience (1960s-present). For centuries, classical music has been on the brink of death. Over the … Continue reading How to Fix Classical Music

11 Conductors Who Are Doing Something Else While Conducting

1. Herbert von Karajan grumpily churning the butter.   2. Valery Gergiev mostly likely suffering from food poisoning.   3a. Gustavo Dudamel suddenly noticing there's a scorpion on his hand. 3b. Gustavo Dudamel touches a hot stove and refuses to learn that he will get burned.   4. Pierre Boulez brings you the glass of … Continue reading 11 Conductors Who Are Doing Something Else While Conducting