The Global Village of Music

And now for something completely different: Delighted by a trio of great stories emanting from my old network the past few days. Car horns and tire rims making beautiful music from Ghana, Arkansas high school choristers giving it all they’ve got at the National High School Choral Festival at Carnegie Hall, and Marin Alsop digging her hands into the primordial Russian soil to dissect Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Brilliant pieces all…and I guarantee the video of the Ghanaian “Por Por Music” on the excellent Smithsonian Global Sound web site will bring a smile to your face. Tag it and share it!
As for the other two audio pieces, Jeff Lunden’s piece on the high schoolers really captures the nervous energy, excitement, and awestruck sensation of what it’s like to be sixteen and stepping out on to a big stage. As for Alsop (I’m a fan, as noted elsewhere in this space) she has both some fascinating observations about the Rite, and as a bonus you get to hear her conduct the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the

Peabody Conservatory students in a complete performance.

Living Beethovens

The consistently interesting conductor Marin Alsop‘s debut season as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s new Music Director promises to be one of the most interesting seasons in Bawlmur in years. Tim Smith in today’s Baltimore Sun has all the details. Sample grab:
“With cheap seats, conversations with high-profile composers and programming that includes a CSI-style forensics exploration of Beethoven next season, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will challenge two of the most common complaints about classical music – that it’s too expensive and too old-fashioned. As part of a strategy unveiled yesterday to bolster attendance, the BSO will reduce the average subscription cost to classical and pops programs by 40 percent. New and current subscribers to the BSO’s 2007-2008 season, the inaugural season of music director Marin Alsop, will pay only $25 per concert for seats anywhere in Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, including the usually pricey box seats.”

CSI business aside (which may be a little gimmicky), what caught my eye was Alsop’s “Living Beethovens” initiative – putting some of today’s most accomplished contemporary composers on programs cheek-by-jowl with ol’ Ludwig himself – and even inviting the composers to conduct! So, for 25 bucks a pop, you’ll be able to see John Adams conduct both his own works, as well as Beethoven’s 7th Symphony – a terrific idea. 17 contemporary compositions in all, by the likes of Adams, Tan Dun, and Aaron Jay Kernis. I like what Marin said to the Sun:

For Alsop, the aim of mixing “standard repertoire with something new is to hear the old in a different light. It’s like seeing a Rembrandt next to a Jackson Pollock.”