Monday, October 07, 2013

Put Steve in Charge

Composer Steve Hicken has a few things to say about how concerts should work. I endorse every last one of his recommendations, so let's put Steve in charge of all concerts, now and forever.

As I told him in email, we can just swap in my fantasy opera series for the Utopia Opera Company, since it's funded by an anonymous opera-loving billionaire. And his stricture about big-name soloists is fine with me, because my man Marc-Andre Hamelin has the weirdest recorded repertory of any pianist, living or dead, and technique sufficient for any new work you might throw at him.


Henry Holland said...

--shorter concerts and more concerts

No and no. Most concerts last around 90 minutes, play more music. More concerts? Most American symphony orchestras play at least 3 concerts a week of the same rep, to play those with different rep would be prohibitive in terms of rehearsal.

--no big name soloists unless they play unusual (and by that I almost always mean "new") repertoire

Ha! Good luck selling Lang Lang playing the Birtwistle Piano Concerto.

--frequent premieres; even more frequent second performances

Really, how naive is this person? Do that and you'd get half-empty halls (unless it's a John Adams piece) which means....wait for it....MORE Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms to make up the shortfall.

--local composers, especially if they are unaffiliated

No way, I want to hear GOOD composers, not composers whose sole reason for being on a program is that they are from the 213/310/818.

--talk about the music from the stage, with examples


MTT and the SFO were at the Dot and MTT picked up a mic and started doing the classical version of a standup routine. If I could have reached down from the balcony and smacked him a good one, I would have, especially his grating habit of saying stuff like "Well, when Aaron and I were talking....". Yes, we get it, you know a lot of people.

Even worse is Esa-Pekka Salonen. One time he started talking about playing hockey badly in Finland --again I wanted to smack him-- and another he made the utterly ludicrous claim that "Sibelius' 4th is as complex harmonically as anything by Schoenberg". Liar!

Explaining the music is what pre-concert lectures are for, I detest being talked down to so that Mr. & Mrs. Smith Who Only Go To One Concert A Year can be informed.

--I would have the occasional concert or semi-staged version of certain operas; it can make you hear them differently, which is always good

You mean what the LAP and NYPhil have been doing for years?

--no film music unless the film is being projected behind the orchestra

How about no film music at all? Why waste a slot on it? The only place I've seen it work is at the Hollywood Bowl with John Williams.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Henry, you are missing the point. UTOPIA, or if I were king. The idea is not practicality.

Patrick J. Vaz said...

Practicality is not the point, but even so I agree completely and whole-heartedly with Henry about the stage chat: as he said, that's what pre-concert lectures are for, I detest being talked down to. . . . Also, these little chats almost always take a glib, humorous tone that is really unsuitable to any music you'd want to hear. Please, please, please, during the concert just shut up and play the music. Anything more should be in the playbill or in a pre- or post-concert lecture or discussion.

Steve Hicken said...

"Naive". That's a first. Thanks.