Friday, November 07, 2014

Goings-On at the Rubin Institute Panels and Talks

Over at LiveJournal, frequent commenter Kalimac has been writing up the public events of the Rubin Institute for [Classical] Music Criticism. The postings that are up are here:
Big thanks to Alex Ross for the shout-out, which has now been reported directly to me by two friends, in addition to Kalimac's mention. From the time stamp, I think one of them sent email about three seconds after Alex finished talking. I wish I could have been there, and also at Tommasini's talk, but after missing more or less seven weeks of work while on sick and family leave, there was just no way I'd be attending events at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. in San Francisco. I do plan to come to tomorrow's firing squ...er, "Master Class in Classical Music Criticism."

I think for every critic who wanders into music criticism from another field, there is at least one with a music degree. In high school, I thought I would grow up to be a full-time critic. Robert Commanday was a flutist and chorus director before he became a music writer. Joshua Kosman has undergraduate and graduate degrees in music. Anthony Tommasini was a pianist and piano teacher, and I believe so was Bernard Holland before him. Alex Ross may not have majored in music, but it's clear that he took music classes in college. It is important to have technical knowledge of music if you're going to write about it, but you don't have to be a music major to acquire that knowledge.

As far as Gil French's question goes, okay, maybe they're not training writers for jobs that don't exist. There is still a shortage of outlets that pay, not to mention paying well, for classical music criticism and journalism. I am a very, very part-time writer, and I have never made more than $3,000/year for my music writing. I told Andy Doe earlier this year that I thought that with some effort I could probably make $25,000 - $30,000/year working half- to full-time. That would be fine as additional income after I stop working full time, but I am a technical writer and get paid more than that.

I am not sure what to say just now about Anthony Tommasini's keynote other than to mention that if you heard a loud noise last night, it was me banging my head against the wall as I read Kalimac's write-up.


Anonymous said...

If you're going to Saturday's panel and have nothing else to do, you might want to stick around in the evening: a Conservatory class in Britten operas is presenting some scenes and arias in a program at 7:30. I heard part of Thursday's very similar program and am glad I went.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you - not sure what I am doing afterward. I have a ticket offer for Phil Baroque in Berkeley, need to make some decisions.