NEA Institute Day 2

NEA Institute Day 2

Monday, October 15

My head is spinning.

I absorbed hours and hours of debate about music in classes that spanned topics from the newspaper industry to music theory. There's way too much to cover in a short blog, so I'll skip to my favorite bits.

We met a guy named Alex Ross, and I got a copy of Ross's new book, The Rest is Noise. (I even remembered to get it signed for my friend Carl Pultz.)

Alex is a youngish writer from the New Yorker who argues we're on the cusp of something big and amazing for classical music lovers. A Golden Age. He mentioned the Rochester-based group Alarm will Sound and says classical music is hovering in this weird place where half the culture is very establishment and mainstream and the other half is underground and rebelliously generated. You can read more here:

Equally fascinating were writers Justin Davdison and Steve Smith.

At lunch I organized a radio posse with two other broadcasters to reflect on the newspaper debates.

After lunch we took a music history class from Joe Horowitz, who has some out-of-the-box ideas about the history of American music. He thinks Aaron Copland was essentially French, stylistically, and that the first generally American music came from minimalist Steve Reich. Were he still alive, I thought, Rochester composer David Diamond would be seriously miffed by Horowitz's analysis of the 20th century. Livid, even. Turning in his grave. Some of my classmates left in a state of agitation.

After the last class ended at 7:00 p.m. I met New Jersey friends Rob and Kathy Staeger at the Dead Poet, a pub on Amsterdam. Sitting at our table, I looked down to see a photo of Walt Whitman (one of many dead poets) pressed under the glass. Strange coincidence, since I just performed A Sea Symphony, Whitman's poetry set to music by Vaughan Williams.

None of the young, well-off, educated people around that table gave a fig about classical music, a fact which made me sad and relieved at the same time.

“I either hear stuff I hear all the time,” one attorney complained about classical radio, “Or stuff I don't know at all. Like, where's the middle ground?”

Tomorrow we'll focus on opera (Lucia and Aggripina), meet Terry Teachout and tour the New York City Opera. Tomorrow night we see Handel's Aggripina and the write overnight reviews.

I'm nervous about this part.

I'll post my review and then tell you how it went over with the big dogs.




Did you mean 'outside-the-box' ideas?