Reprinted from the Chicago Lyric Opera Orchestra website
WHY WE’RE ON STRIKE
Why are the Musicians of the Lyric Opera Orchestra on strike? Because a world-class opera company needs a world-class orchestra. That is now in danger.
Over the past 65 years, Chicago’s citizens, civic leaders, and philanthropists built a world-class opera company for a world-class city. The Lyric Opera Orchestra has been a key part of that, renowned for its artistry and exquisite sound. But Anthony Freud and Lyric Management are demanding radical cuts that would decimate the Orchestra and forever diminish the Lyric Opera of Chicago:
If Management gets its way, the work of all those who built Lyric Opera will have been for nothing.
There is no need for any of this.
There is no justifiable reason for Lyric’s demands. If Lyric faces financial challenges it is not because of the Orchestra. Lyric exploded its budget in recent years, from $60.4 million in 2012 to $84.5 million in 2017 (the most recent year for which audited financials are available). But the Orchestra saw none of that $24 million increase. To the contrary, the Orchestra’s share of the budget has decreased steadily, from 14.6% in 2012 to 11.9% in 2017. If Lyric wants to make cuts, it is looking in the wrong place.
Which also begs the question: where is that $24 million going? Management has never given us a straight answer. Certainly, that money did not go to the musicians of the Orchestra. Since 2011, our weekly salary has increased an average of less than 1% per year; and adjusted for inflation, our wages have actually decreased by 5.1% since 2011.
The wolf is not at the door.
Lyric Management tries to rationalize its demands by claiming poverty, but the evidence just isn’t there.
Management complains about a “structural deficit” – a term totally out of place for a nonprofit – but cannot escape the fact that there is no actual deficit on Lyric’s balance sheet. Like all non-profits, Lyric runs an operating deficit every year because earned revenue is never enough to cover expenses. (That’s why they call it a “non-profit.”) So, Lyric raises money – lots of it. Lyric is good at it. In addition to its annual fund, Lyric has successfully mounted fundraising campaigns like “Breaking New Ground” and “Campaign for Excellence” – campaigns that have raised tens of millions of dollars. Those funds are explicitly earmarked to be drawn on when needed for operating costs. In keeping with that stated purpose, Lyric draws on those funds to balance the books.
But now Lyric says it has suddenly lost the ability to raise money, citing “donor fatigue.” Such fatigue would be an affliction unique to Lyric. Other major cultural institutions in Chicago, including the Art Institute, Joffrey Ballet, and Museum of Contemporary Art, have seen big increases in fundraising. According to Giving USA – the gold standard for tracking charitable giving – giving to the arts has steadily increased since the Great Recession, outpacing nearly every other philanthropic sector.
We’ve also heard a defeatist and self-fulfilling narrative about ticket sales. In the words of Deputy General Director and Chief Operating Officer Drew Landmesser, “Ticket sales are down, they will keep going down, and then they will keep going down.” (Way to keep a positive attitude!)
But the actual numbers tell a different story. In 2012, Lyric’s ticket sales were $25.03 million. In 2018, they are forecast to be $25.95 million. That doesn’t look like a horror show to us. And Lyric’s fill rate of 84% of the house is the envy of other opera companies. Moreover, ticket revenue has remained stable despite Lyric dramatically reducing the number of performances, alienating subscribers by changing their longstanding subscription packages, and failing to grasp new technological requirements like maintaining a well-functioning website or building a mobile app. The fact that Lyric has managed to sell opera tickets despite its own missteps speaks well for the demand for opera in Chicago.
Radical demands for concessions from musicians also seems to be a Lyric-specific phenomenon. This year alone, the Metropolitan Opera reached a contract agreement with its musicians that featured salary increases and pension improvements; the musicians of the San Francisco Opera reached a five-year agreement with significant wage increases; and the Washington National Opera orchestra obtained a progressive contract with wage increases every year and no loss of guaranteed work. Clearly, the managements of those companies recognize the folly of trying to improve finances on the backs of their musicians.
What we’re looking for.
Above all else, we’re trying to preserve this Orchestra and the quality of Lyric Opera performances. An opera company that aspires to be world-class needs an orchestra that can draw the finest musicians, and produce the sound that makes opera the thrilling experience that Chicagoans have come to expect from Lyric Opera. We’re looking to maintain the same number of musicians in the orchestra, for cost of living increases, and to preserve our benefits and working conditions.
And when we say “cost of living,” we mean that literally: our last bargaining proposal to management proposed tying wage increases directly to the rate of inflation. We’re not even trying to make up for lost ground, even though our wages in real dollars have declined more than 5% since 2011.
In contrast, you know whose wages have most certainly not declined? Anthony Freud’s. He saw a compensation increase of 18% from 2014 to 2017 – a raise of 16% in 2016 alone, right after the Orchestra musicians agreed to a cost-neutral contract with cuts to health care. And now he is leading the charge to gut the Orchestra. His demanded salary cuts alone would cost each musician in the Orchestra $6,000; Freud, with his $800,000 annual salary, gets paid that much every three days.
Where we go from here.
Lyric Opera of Chicago is at a crossroads. What kind of opera company does Lyric want to be? Will Lyric fulfill its core mission of presenting great opera to Chicago and the world at the highest level – the vision that Ardis Krainik and other leaders pursued, and which inspired generations of Chicagoans? Or will Lyric disregard the work of those leaders, abandon all ambition, and adopt a myopic vision that looks no further than its own balance sheet? We’re on strike because we will not, and cannot, accept a Lyric Opera of Chicago that is nothing but a pale shadow of its former self. If Anthony Freud and his crew abdicate their responsibility as the stewards of this organization, then the musicians of the Orchestra will gladly take up that cause.
Strike Coverage from Crain's Chicago Business:
Strike Coverage from The Reader:
Harvard Women’s Health Watch, March 1, 2016
Music therapy can calm anxiety, ease pain, and provide a pleasant diversion during chemotherapy or a hospital stay.
It’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t feel a strong connection to music. Even if you can’t carry a tune or play an instrument, you can probably reel off a list of songs that evoke happy memories and raise your spirits. Surgeons have long played their favorite music to relieve stress in the operating room, and extending music to patients has been linked to improved surgical outcomes. In the past few decades, music therapy has played an increasing role in all facets of healing.
What is music therapy?
Music therapy is a burgeoning field. People who become certified music therapists are usually accomplished musicians who have deep knowledge of how music can evoke emotional responses to relax or stimulate people or help them heal. They combine this knowledge with their familiarity with a wide variety of musical styles to find the specific kind that can get you through a challenging physical rehab session or guide you into meditation. And they can find that music in your favorite genre, be it electropop or grand opera.
Holly Chartrand, a music therapist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, first trained as a vocalist. She decided to become a music therapist when she realized that she could use music to support others just as it had supported her throughout her life. “The favorite part of my job is seeing how big an impact music can have on someone who isn’t feeling well,” she says.
Music therapists know few boundaries. They may play music for you or with you, or even teach you how to play an instrument. On a given day, Chartrand may be toting a tank drum, a ukulele, or an iPad and speakers into a patient’s room. “Technology gives us so much access to all kinds of music that I can find and play almost any kind of music you like,” she says.
The evidence for music therapy’s benefits
A growing body of research attests that music therapy is more than a nice perk. It can improve medical outcomes and quality of life in a variety of ways. Here’s a sampling:
Easing anxiety and discomfort during procedures. In controlled clinical trials of people having colonoscopies, cardiac angiography, or knee surgery, those who listened to music before their procedure had less anxiety and less need for sedatives. People who listened to music in the operating room reported less discomfort during their procedure. And those who heard music in the recovery room used less opioid medication for pain.
Restoring lost speech. Music therapy can help people who are recovering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury that has damaged the left-brain region responsible for speech. Because singing ability originates in the right side of the brain, people can work around the injury to the left side of their brain by first singing their thoughts and then gradually dropping the melody. Former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords used this technique to enable her to testify before a Congressional committee two years after a gunshot wound to her brain destroyed her ability to speak.
Reducing side effects of cancer therapy. Listening to music reduces anxiety associated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It can also quell nausea and vomiting for patients receiving chemotherapy.
Helping with physical therapy and rehabilitation. If you exercise to a playlist, you’ve probably noticed that music helps you stick to your routine. In fact, a 2011 analysis of several studies suggests that music therapy enhances people’s physical, psychological, cognitive, and emotional functioning during physical rehabilitation programs.
Aiding pain relief. Music therapy has been tested in a variety of patients, ranging from those with intense short-term pain to those with chronic pain from arthritis. Over all, music therapy decreases pain perception, reduces the amount of pain medication needed, helps relieve depression in pain patients, and gives them a sense of better control over their pain
Improving quality of life for people with dementia. Because the ability to engage with music remains intact late into the disease process, music therapy can help to evoke memories, reduce agitation, assist communication, and improve physical coordination.
How to find a music therapist
If you’re facing a procedure or illness, or just want relief from the stresses of daily life or motivation to stick to an exercise program, a music therapist may be able to help you. You can find one on the website of the American Music Therapy Association, www.musictherapy.org.
Reprinted from health.harvard.edu
By Dennis Bubert, Trombonist of the Fort Worth Symphony, March 3, 2016.
Why the arts? Or, more specifically, given all of the ink spilled over our ongoing contract negotiations, why do the arts matter, here, now, in Fort Worth, Texas?
After all, the arts are expensive, unwieldy to manage, and unlike the whimsies of popular culture, demand discernment and aesthetic engagement from the audience. We’re repeatedly told that audiences for symphonic music are disappearing, there’s an insurmountable competition from other entertainments, and that our increasingly visual society is staying home from the concert hall.
As someone who has practiced the art of orchestral playing as a livelihood for close to four decades, I can attest that none of these claims are new, and some of them simply may not be true.
In some ways, the state of the arts has never been stronger. This February, some 28,000 Texas music students and educators convened in San Antonio for the Texas Music Educators Association’s annual conference. In the coming weeks, several thousands of those students will audition for entrance into music programs at Texas colleges and universities, where the arts are alive and well, if not thriving. On the campus where I teach, some two thousand of the 35,000 students enrolled are pursuing degrees in the fine arts. Often despite their parents’ wishes, their friends’ advice, economic realities, and all common sense, these young people are investing their time, money, and lives in the pursuit of communicating the human condition through their individual disciplines. Whether they express themselves through sound, movement, letters, the dramatic portrayal of human emotion or the visual arrangement of line, color and spatial weight, they are committing their efforts and resources to immersing themselves in the interpretation of what it truly means to be human, to think and to feel. In so doing, their awareness becomes sensitized to subtleties, to nuance, and to the ambiguity of life. They learn to see life in subtly different shades of grays rather than the black and whites the absolutists of this world propose as the only possible choices. Through the travails of their education, they see life as a process, an opportunity for growth, awareness and acceptance.
Ultimately, they gradually come to believe that learning is a process that is never completed, and that their own growth is dependent on their continued pursuit of their art, whatever their endeavor. How could I hope to surround myself with better people?
And it’s not just the performers and practitioners who hear the siren call of a personal muse. I’ve met hundreds of our FWSO patrons in recent years, and their stories have been a remarkable accounting of how much the orchestra means to them, and the extraordinary degree to which symphonic music matters in their lives.I met a couple that have been season ticket holders since 1981, and during that time have not missed a single subscription concert.
Another couple, which described themselves as “faithful Fort Worth Symphony concert goers,” routinely drive from their home in Kansas City to attend concerts.
And perhaps my favorite encounter: a woman who had been a life long season ticket holder to the Boston Symphony before her move to Fort Worth several years ago told me that she was worried about what kind of offerings she might find on the classical music front upon her arrival in Texas, a concern shared aloud by her friends and family in Boston. “Now,” she told me, “I can’t wait for them to visit me so that I can take them to hear my orchestra!”
These remarks, and the hundreds heard by my colleagues during our exchanges with FWSO patrons, as well as countless supportive letters,
e-mails, and Facebook postings, have been not only a much needed boost for the orchestra, but a real dose of a reality that is all too often ignored, refuted, or otherwise denied. And that is this: what we do matters, it matters to a great many people, and it apparently matters a great deal to them.
That the arts in general have always struggled with funding is old news; the current message seems to be that there is a new reality in which the arts have declining value and perhaps less validity, and that as musicians we are not only somehow to blame, but must be first in line to pay the price for what some clearly want us to see as the inevitable decline and subsequent failure of the American symphony orchestra.
Don’t believe it. And don’t try to sell that idea to the thousands of patrons who have expressed their support for the orchestra over the past several months, or those who filled Bass Hall last week to hear Joshua Bell at the Symphony’s gala. Or the 40,000 school children we play for each season, or their teachers, or the couple who drive from Kansas City to hear concerts, or the woman from Boston who has found a new orchestra of which to be a proud patron.
I know that the musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will, in the coming months, continue to do that to which they have given their lives and dedicated their careers: bring great scores to life, and create transcendent moments for our audiences, who both appreciate and need those experiences in their own lives.
Read this article and more on the Newsletter of the Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony.
Manchester Camerata orchestra is pioneering music projects in care homes; now academics are to study whether the sessions do more than just entertain participants.
By Rachel Pugh, February 29, 2016
Sheer embarrassment was dementia care worker Lynda Kelly’s overwhelming emotion the first time she sat in on a Manchester Camerataorchestra music therapy session at the residential home where she works; but the lasting change she saw in the residents in response to the musicians was so great that she is now running weekly improvisation sessions at the home.
Kelly, the activities coordinator for Acacia Lodge – a 60-bed residential home in New Moston, Manchester – reports seeing a mute female resident with advanced Alzheimer’s sing Swing Low, Sweet Chariot at top volume with all the words in one of the first Camerata sessions. Two other former non-speakers now communicate with staff as though they had never stopped and many more display greater confidence, increased activity levels and more cooperation with their carers.
“The first music session I went to, I did not know where to put myself with embarrassment – I was not used to seeing people sing and express themselves like that,” says Kelly, who has since then been involved in three music and dementia projects with the chamber orchestra over the past three years, including a 10-week course for Acacia Lodge residents. “But the impact has been amazing and I realised within two weeks that music was getting to them in a completely different way.”
Manchester Camerata orchestra’s Music in Mind (MIM) projects, which involved 7,200 people in care homes and community projects across Greater Manchester last year, have had such dramatic effects on participants that academics at Manchester and Lancaster universities are backing a research student to create the world’s first in-the-moment, multi-sensory assessment tool to quantify that effect.
Manchester Camerata’s head of educational outreach, Nick Ponsillo, says: “This is all about helping people with dementia to communicate and to feel part of the community, but we need to know that we are really getting to the guts of a patient’s experience.”
The Camerata – whose reputation with audiences is built on concerts of Mozart and Beethoven in venues such as the Bridgewater Hall – now hosts Manchester University PhD student psychologist Robyn Dowlen to carry out research in collaboration with Lancaster University. She is attempting to measure the effect of music on people who may not be able to communicate it in words.
This is about coming up with the proof that there is more to music in a dementia context than just entertainment. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there will be 1 million people with dementia in the UK by 2025 and one in six people over the age of 80 currently have it. Alzheimer’s is a massive health and social care challenge to which management approaches are needed in a cash-strapped world.
Camerata’s projects – led by a professional music therapist and specially-trained musicians from the orchestra – involve working directly with patients with degenerative brain disease and their carers. It is about encouraging them to sing, play instruments and create music – and even to perform in public, in sessions before Camerata concerts.
Dowlen’s supervisor, Prof John Keady, who leads the dementia and ageing research team at Manchester University, is excited about the MIM projects, which he sees as confirming his view of dementia as a loss of self and social identity, rather than the more common view of it as a loss of creative and cognitive skills.
He hopes that Dowlen will be able to produce a means of measuring an individual’s experience of connection, so that the circumstances can be reproduced when people engage in other activities.
Evaluation of MIM projects in Rochdale and Tameside by New Economy paints a consistent picture of better communication, happier and more cooperative patients, and even suggests that music participation may lead to a reduction in the amount of NHS treatments and anti-psychotic medication required. Numbers are small, but it is an area researchers want to investigate.
Keady is even asking himself whether the right kind of music projects actually cut the cost of dementia care.
Read the entire story at theguardian.com.
With the passing of Pierre Boulez, the Musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra have lost a great musical collaborator and friend. With his remarkable skill and insight, every concert of ours that he conducted was a meaningful musical experience. And through our many years of work together, he remained a true colleague of the musicians.
As a guest conductor of the CSO, Pierre Boulez always brought challenging and thoughtful programs to Chicago, and on tour. A varied repertoire including his own “Notations,” works of Berlioz, Mahler, Bartok, the Second Viennese School, and some of the most challenging contemporary works of fellow composers, always received the same thorough, thoughtful preparation and execution.
With the departure of Daniel Barenboim as Music Director in 2006, Maestro Boulez offered his services, together with Bernard Haitink, providing artistic leadership of the CSO, on an interim basis. His contribution to the orchestra prior to the appointment of Music Director Riccardo Muti was crucial to the organization’s continued success.
Maestro Muti on Maestro Boulez
"With the loss of Pierre Boulez, the world of music today is infinitely poorer. As both an admirer and friend of the Maestro, I am deeply grateful for his contributions, as composer, conductor and educator, to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with which he had a collaboration of nearly 50 years, and served so brilliantly as its principal guest conductor and conductor emeritus. His great musical artistry and exceptional intelligence will be missed."
Maestro Boulez and Maestro Muti. This photo hangs in Maestro Muti's office in Chicago.
photo by Todd Rosenberg/CSO
Pierre Boulez in CSO.org
Born March 26, 1925, Montbrison, France
Died January 5, 2016, Baden Baden, Germany
Born in 1925 in Montbrison, France, Pierre Boulez initially trained in mathematics and later pursued studies in piano, composition, and choral conducting at the Paris Conservatory, where his teachers included Olivier Messiaen and René Leibowitz. In 1954, he founded the Concerts du Petit Marigny, one of the first concert series entirely dedicated to the performance of modern music, which later became the Domaine Musical series.
Throughout the next decade, he was intensely involved with musical analysis, and he taught in Darmstadt and at Basel University. In 1963, he was a visiting professor at Harvard University, and in 1976 he became a professor at the Collège de France.
Boulez began his conducting career in 1958 with the Südwestfunk Orchestra in Baden-Baden, Germany. His success there brought him to the Cleveland Orchestra in 1965, where he held posts as principal guest conductor and musical advisor from 1969 until 1972. In 1971, he became chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra; that same year he succeeded Leonard Bernstein as music director of the New York Philharmonic, a position he held until 1977.
In 1974, Boulez became creator and director of the Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM). This led to the creation of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, one of the world’s finest contemporary music ensembles, which Boulez conducted in France as well as on extended tours abroad. He also co-founded the Cité de la Musique, a music center in Paris created in 1995.
Boulez was one of the leaders of post–World War II musical modernism and his advocacy of modern and postmodern music was decisive for many. His numerous compositions still are widely performed, including Le marteau sans maître, Livre pour cordes, Pli selon pli, three piano sonatas, Le visage nuptial, Répons, . . . explosante-fixe . . ., and Notations. Boulez’s many awards and honors included honorary doctorates from Leeds, Cambridge, Basel, and Oxford universities, among others; Commander of the British Empire; and Knight of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. In 2002, he was awarded the Glenn Gould Prize for his contributions to the Collège de France, and in 2009 he was awarded the Inamori Foundation’s 25th Annual Kyoto Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Arts and Philosophy.
Pierre Boulez made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in February 1969, leading two weeks of subscription concerts. The first week included the subscription concert debut of Daniel Barenboim as soloist in Bartók’s First Piano Concerto and the second week included Jacqueline du Pré as soloist in Schumann’s Cello Concerto along with the U.S. premiere of Boulez’s Livre pour cordes. He returned as guest conductor in 1987 and beginning in 1991, he began appearing annually in Chicago. In 1995 he was invited by Daniel Barenboim to become the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s third principal guest conductor, and in 2006 he became the CSO’s Helen Regenstein Conductor Emeritus.
Boulez led the Orchestra on numerous trips to New York’s Carnegie Hall and tours to England (London), Germany (Berlin, Cologne, and Essen), Hungary (Budapest), and Japan (Tokyo). He also curated several MusicNOW concerts, delivered lectures on a variety of contemporary issues at the Art Institute of Chicago, participated in Beyond the Score presentations both in Chicago and in New York, and conducted the Civic Orchestra of Chicago on many occasions both in concert and in reading sessions of new music.
Read the entire article on cso.org
Pierre Boulez in the New York Times
Pierre Boulez conducting the New York Philharmonic in the 1970s.
Credit:New York Philharmonic Archives
Pierre Boulez, the French composer and conductor who was a dominant figure in classical music for over half a century, died on Tuesday at his home in Baden-Baden, Germany. He was 90.
His death was confirmed by his family in a statement to the Philharmonie de Paris. Prime Minister Manuel Valls, also in a statement, said, “Audacity, innovation, creativity — that is what Pierre Boulez was for French music, which he helped shine everywhere in the world.”
Mr. Boulez belonged to an extraordinary generation of European composers who, while still in their 20s, came to the forefront during the decade or so after World War II. They wanted to change music radically, and Mr. Boulez took a leading role. His “Marteau Sans Maître” (“Hammer Without a Master”) was one of this group’s first major achievements, and it remains a central work of modern music.
Mr. Boulez came to give more attention to conducting, where his keen ear and rhythmic incisiveness would often produce a startling clarity. (There are countless stories of him detecting, for example, faulty intonation from the third oboe in a complex orchestral texture.)
He reached his peak as a conductor in the 1960s, when he began to appear with some of the world’s great orchestras, including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra. His style was unique. He never used the baton, but manipulated the orchestra by means of his two hands simultaneously, the left indicating phrasing or, in much contemporary music, counter-rhythm.
His characteristic sound — unemotional on the surface but with undercurrents of intemperateness, at once brilliant in color and rhythmically disciplined — depended on his famously acute ear and suited his core repertoire: Stravinsky (several of whose works he introduced to Europe), Debussy, Webern, Bartok and Messiaen. It was refreshing as well in his many excursions into earlier music.
As a young composer, he matched intelligence with great force of mind: He knew what had to be done, according to his reading of history, and he did it, in defiance of all the norms of French musical culture at the time. To be a conductor, though, meant working with the existing machinery.
He tried to remake that machinery in 1971, when he became music director simultaneously of the New York Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra in London. He tried to explore unconventional repertoire, unconventional concert formats and unconventional locations. But he also accepted that he had to rethink some of his own preconceptions, and as his musical outlook broadened, his output as a composer dwindled.
It was his reputation as an avant-garde composer and as a crusader for new music that prompted his unexpected appointment as music director of the New York Philharmonic, succeeding Leonard Bernstein. After the initial shock at his arrival, there was hope that he might, as many said at the time, bring the orchestra into the 20th century and appeal to younger audiences. But his programming often met with hostility in New York, and he left quietly six years later.
His destination was Paris. Dismissive of the French musical establishment, he had spent most of the previous two decades abroad, but President Georges Pompidou, keen to reclaim a native son, had agreed to found a contemporary-music center for him in the capital: the Institute for the Research and Coordination of Acoustics and Music, known as Ircam. It had its own 31-piece orchestra, the Ensemble Intercontemporain.
In the 1980s, Mr. Boulez gained further government support for his grandest project, the City of Music complex in the Villette district of Paris, housing the Paris Conservatoire, a concert hall and an instrument museum.
Pierre Boulez (the Z in the name is not silent) was born on March 26, 1925, in Montbrison, a town near Lyon, the son of an industrialist, Léon Boulez, and the former Marcelle Calabre. He studied the piano and began to compose in his teens.
A defining moment came when he heard a broadcast of Stravinsky’s “Song of the Nightingale” conducted by Ernest Ansermet; it was a work to which he often returned throughout his conducting career. Against the wishes of his father, who wanted him to study engineering, he went to Paris in 1942 and enrolled at the Conservatoire.
In 1944-45, he took a harmony class taught by Olivier Messiaen, whose impact on him was decisive. Messiaen’s teaching went far beyond traditional harmony to embrace new music that was outlawed both by the stagnant Conservatoire of that period and by the German occupying forces: the music of Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Bartok and Webern. Messiaen also introduced his students to medieval music and the music of Asia and Africa. Mr. Boulez felt his course was set; but he also knew he needed to go further into the 12-tone method that Schoenberg had introduced a generation before.
“I had to learn about that music, to find out how it was made,” he once told Opera News. “It was a revelation — a music for our time, a language with unlimited possibilities. No other language was possible. It was the most radical revolution since Monteverdi. Suddenly, all our familiar notions were abolished. Music moved out of the world of Newton and into the world of Einstein.”
To start on this route, he took lessons in 1945-46 with René Leibowitz, a Schoenbergian who had settled in Paris. Soon, in works like his mighty Second Piano Sonata (1947-48), he was integrating what had been separate paths of development in the music of the previous 40 years: Schoenberg’s serialism with Stravinsky’s rhythmic innovations and Messiaen’s enlarged notion of mode. As he saw it, all these composers had failed to pursue their most radical impulses, and it fell to a new generation — specifically, to him — to pick up the torch.
Though he was outspoken about his historical role, he was much warier of talking about what his music expressed. There was the odd reference in his early writings to the poet and playwright Antonin Artaud; there was also an admitted kinship with the poetry of René Char, which he set to music in “Le Marteau Sans Maître” and other works. But he was also capable of ferocious abstraction, as in the first section of his “Structures” (1951) for two pianos, a test case in applying serial principles to rhythm, volume and color.
Read the entire article on nytimes.com
By Ian Coss, December 28, 2015
Caitlin Cawley was only 15 when she developed tendinitis in both elbows. The condition is commonly known as “tennis elbow,” but Cawley wasn’t practicing her serve. She was studying classical percussion at a pre-college program for aspiring musicians.
She ignored the early signs until the prickling sensation grew to stabbing pain throughout her forearms so excruciating she had to stop playing. It took three months of rest for the inflammation in her tendons to subside, and she has had multiple flareups since then.
Now 21 and a senior at Boston University’s School of Music, Cawley is preparing to audition for graduate programs. So while most college applicants can breathe a sigh of relief now that their Jan. 1 deadline has passed, she and other music students are headed back to the practice rooms. Cawley currently averages six hours of independent practice a day, not including ensemble rehearsals. In her words: “Right now I’m doing as much work as I’ve ever done for music.”
That diligence also means risk of injury. For Cawley and other young musicians, the question of this season is: How much practice can my body take before perfection turns to pain?
Their odds are not good. In the mid-2000s, a Chicago-based physician began surveying the incoming music students at a midwestern university, and after four years, the trend in the data was clear: Almost 80 percent of freshman “reported a history of playing-related pain.”
For players of string, keyboard and brass instruments the percentage was even higher. For percussionists like Cawley: 100 percent.
Dr. Michael Charness, who directs the Performing Arts Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has treated thousands of musicians who play everything from bagpipes and sitars to violas and trombones.
He describes the crux of the problem: “If you look at a string quartet, it’s the most natural looking sight, but if you simply remove the instruments from their hands and pose them on stage, it’s nothing that we were ever really designed to do for any long period of time.”
The arms are elevated, wrist extended, head tilted — all while performing rapid repetitive motions (a two-minute movement from Handel’s “Messiah” includes 740 strokes of the violin bow). It’s a recipe for repetitive stress injuries, and the same could be said of any instrument when played intensively.
High-pressure events such as auditions and recitals bring heightened risk, Charness says; they push musicians to put in eight or 10 hours a day and repeat the same passage over and over to get it right — “things that most athletes know not to do.” He often sees those same musicians in his clinic once the pressure has passed.
Every Saturday, there is a line of musicians at the Brigham and Women’s clinic carrying instrument cases of all shapes and sizes. Dan Snydacker, a harpsichordist who travels from Connecticut for treatment, describes the waiting area as tense — somber even: “We all share this sense of potential loss.”
About half of the musicians that Charness sees suffer from overuse injuries to the soft tissue, such as tendinitis. The doctor watches each one play, looking for tension in the shoulders or an unnecessary twist in the wrist — subtle habits that can lead to strain.
Slightly less common are nerve injuries — often in the wrist and elbow, where nerves can become compressed or entrapped in the joints. In many cases the condition is totally painless, only affecting the musician’s coordination.
The most rare and debilitating musical malady is focal dystonia, a neurological condition that is rooted in the brain but impacts a specific part of the body — fingers for pianists and sometimes the lips for players of wind instruments. The condition is not well understood even though it affects almost 2 percent of professional musicians — including the celebrated pianist Leon Fleisher and possibly the 19th century composer Robert Schumann.
Snydacker, the harpsichordist, knew something was wrong when he started missing notes on the keyboard. Then he noticed that his fingers were curling under his palm involuntarily when he tried to play. The dystonia was interfering with the motor routines he had developed over years of playing, and he now receives regular botox injections that relax the overactive muscles in his hand. Total recovery is unlikely; Snydacker is just hoping that he can still play the harpsichord for his grandchildren.
Read the entire article at commonwealth.wbur.org
By Anne Midgette Classical music critic/The Classical Beat
Months before it was expected, the National Symphony Orchestra has named Italian conductor Gianandrea Noseda, 51, as its seventh music director, taking over at the start of the 2017-2018 season. He will succeed Christoph Eschenbach, whose contract expires in 2017.
It’s a coup for the NSO. Noseda is a star at the world’s leading orchestra and opera houses, including the Mariinsky Theatre, where he became the company’s first foreign-born principal guest conductor at the start of his career; the Israel Philharmonic, where he is principal guest conductor; and the Metropolitan Opera, where he opened the new production of Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers” on New Year’s Eve to considerable acclaim. Musical America named him its 2015 Conductor of the Year.
Even better for the orchestra, he — unlike some of the NSO’s previous music directors — combines international prestige with solid conducting technique. In his previous two music directorships — the BBC Philharmonic in Manchester, England, and the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy, a post he still holds — he has patiently brought mid-level ensembles to new heights of artistry and recognition. Teatro Regio made its first North American tour in 2014; critics in New York and Chicago counted its performances of Rossini’s “William Tell” as a highlight of the year.
He has worked well with the NSO, an orchestra he first conducted in 2011, and to which he returned in November. “I found a fantastic attitude. . . . I felt very naturally committed with them, in a normal sort of way,” Noseda said Saturday in a hotel lobby in New York. “What really impressed me is the development we got together, from the first rehearsal to the first concert, and how much the quality was increasing in the next two performances.”
He added, “You see in the eyes of the players, the wish. ‘We can do it, we have just to be asked to do it, we want to deliver.’ ”
Deborah Rutter, the Kennedy Center’s president, said, “I knew he was a great musician and a really generous, warm man. I didn’t know what the chemistry would be like.” After the first rehearsals, she said, speaking by phone Sunday evening, “people were calling me saying, ‘The musicians are going crazy down here.’ We didn’t want to miss out on anything. We wanted to strike while the iron was hot.”
The swift move may be perceived as a victory for Rutter, who arrived in Washington in 2014 bearing the weight of high expectations for the music director search based on her track record of securing Riccardo Muti as music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when she was that orchestra’s president. Noseda doesn’t yet have Muti’s stature, but he is also an Italian conductor with a significant international career who specializes in both orchestral conducting and opera.
The search committee included NSO musicians, board members and members of the administration, and Rutter was only one voice at the table. “This has been a group process,” she said. And the committee, which began convening a few weeks after February’s announcement that Christoph Eschenbach would not extend his contract as music director beyond 2017, identified Noseda as a person of interest early on, without, participants say, more input from Rutter than anyone else.
Read the full story at washingtonpost.com
By Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer, December 11, 2015
CLEVELAND, Ohio -– Union musicians and Cleveland Orchestra managers have struck a new labor agreement.
The two sides announced Friday the ratification of a new contract retroactive to Aug. 31, when the previous contract, signed in 2012, expired. The new deal is valid through the 2017-18 season.
"There's a lot of momentum going right now, and nobody wanted to disrupt that," said James Menger, the orchestra's chief financial officer and lead negotiator. "This allows that momentum to keep going."
The new contract is between roughly 100 members of Local 4 of the American Federation of Musicians and the Musical Arts Association, the governing body of the orchestra, led by Dennis LaBarre.
The agreement marks a smooth end to a lengthy so-called 'play and talk' period, and extends the peace that has reigned at Severance Hall since 2010, when orchestra members waged a brief strike.
Bassoonist Jonathan Sherwin, chair of the musicians committee, described this round of negotiations as "somewhat more contentious" than in 2012, but also said the orchestra "responded well" to the concerns of the musicians.
In particular, Sherwin said, the contract -– ratified by a 72-percent majority –- narrows what he called a growing gulf between musician salaries at the Cleveland Orchestra and other major ensembles.
"We have been keenly aware of a widening gap between our compensation and those of our peer orchestras," he said. "We were successful in stopping that widening."
Both Sherwin and Menger declined to discuss specific financial terms of the new contract. However, both parties confirmed that the deal calls for annual increases in weekly compensation and retirement benefits, along with improvements in working conditions when touring. Base pay, according to the most recent figures available to the public, is approximately $120,000.
In return, both parties said, the musicians agreed to certain recording and broadcast provisions, to higher shared healthcare premiums, and to donate 12 services over the contract's duration. These can be concerts or other appearances, at home or on tour, from which the orchestra can earn revenue.
"We think it's a fair agreement," Sherwin said. "We're very pleased that they were willing to address the professional concerns that we had."
The momentum Menger described is seen in the orchestra's latest annual report, which revealed a string of institutional successes including record philanthropy, higher attendance, endowment growth and a small budgetary surplus.
Having a new contract in place, Menger said, frees the organization to focus anew on those matters, to push forward with artistic planning, with ongoing strategies for attracting new listeners, and increased fundraising efforts.
"Both parties wanted that from the beginning," he said. "There was a shared belief that we all have a stake in this."
Read the article on cleveland.com.
By Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer
Maybe it was booking appearances by such international sensations as pianist Lang Lang, who visited in October. But the Cleveland Orchestra under music director Franz Welser-Most, shown conducting, attracted more youthful concertgoers in its last fiscal year, according to its annual report, which was released Tuesday. (Roger Mastroianni)
Like a Bruckner symphony or Wagner opera, the good news from the Cleveland Orchestra's latest annual report just goes on and on.
For the second year in a row, the group Tuesday released a document revealing almost nothing but positive developments. In fiscal 2014, the orchestra posted a sizable surplus, a vastly larger endowment, record fundraising and some of its healthiest attendance figures ever.
"We had an extraordinary season, and not just financially," said outgoing executive director Gary Hanson, noting that his goal of leaving the orchestra in better shape than he found it when he retires next year is now "within reach."
Hold on to your jaw. It's about to drop. The main number of interest in the 31-page report is $941,000, the amount the institution recorded as surplus.
That's right. After years of fighting to balance its books, at a time when some orchestras are struggling simply to survive, Cleveland this year came out with nearly $1 million extra. The last year that happened was 2001.
Against the orchestra's budget of $48.7 million, $941,000 may seem a trifling amount. Less than 2 percent. In light of its recent shortfalls, however, and those of other ensembles, the figure is hugely significant.
Perhaps even more notable: the surplus came despite a wave of free and discounted tickets. Pushing ahead with its popular "Under 18s Free" and Student Advantage deals, the orchestra in 2014 hosted its 100,000th youngster.
Paid attendance by college-age students rose 50 percent, Hanson said, while some 22,000 listeners under age 18 – twice as many as last year – attended for free with older, paying customers.
Financial stability is one thing, Hanson said, but "It's even greater to have real indications of a bright future, both for the institution and the art form."
The endowment also grew by leaps and bounds. As of June 30, the orchestra's reserve was worth just over $172 million, an all-time record and over $22 million more than last year.
No longer, in other words, does the orchestra's unofficial goal of a $300 million endowment, on which a small draw would cover the standard gap between revenue and expenses, seem overly ambitious. The previous record, in fiscal 2000, was $159 million.
"For me, this represents a lot of progress," said Dennis LaBarre, president of the Musical Arts Association, the orchestra's governing body. "I'm as pleased as I can be with what we've achieved to date."
Along with these came growth in overall attendance. While the average audience at Severance Hall increased slightly to about 1,600, the figure at Blossom Music Center jumped a dramatic 11 percent to a record 7,050, fueled in part by a Beatles tribute, an appearance by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and a free night led by music director Franz Welser-Most, courtesy of the Cleveland Foundation.
Read the entire story at cleveland.com.
December 7, 2015. By the Indianapolis Business Journal Staff.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on Monday afternoon reported its third straight annual budget surplus, thanks to a rise in ticket sales and steady fundraising.
The ISO said it took in $23.8 million in operating revenue during the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which ended Aug. 31, while realizing expenses of $22.9 million. The budget surplus of $900,000 topped last year’s $266,000 and $236,000 in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The ISO operated in the red for five consecutive years before reporting the 2012-13 surplus.
Operating revenue in the latest fiscal year was up about $300,000 from the previous year while expenses fell 1 percent.
The not-for-profit symphony funds its operation with a combination of ticket sales, charitable donations and income from its endowment.
Income from ticket sales increased 8 percent over the previous year thanks to a 24 percent jump in the number of ticket subscriptions.
Student ticket sales rose, with a total of 9,014 tickets sold in 2014-15, a 33 percent increase over the previous year. Summer concert series Marsh Symphony on the Prairie saw a 7 percent rise in ticket sales.
Fundraising slipped slightly, to $9.25 million, down from $9.73 million last year and a record $10.67 million in fiscal 2012-13.
The ISO drew $5.39 million from the Indiana Symphony Orchestra Foundation, consisting of $3.93 million for operations and $1.46 million for pension contributions. The overall draw rate from the endowment was was 6.2 percent, the same as last year’s rate. The endowment's balance as of Aug. 31 was $91.2 million, down slightly from $92.5 million a year ago.
“The ISO is delighted to report another strong season in artistic accomplishment, audience growth, fundraising and strong financial stewardship,” ISO CEO Gary Ginstling said in written remarks. “We are encouraged that more people are experiencing the ISO in performance, and that the community’s support remains so strong.”
Read the story on the Journal's Website at ibj.com.