Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Michael Tilson Thomas, PBS, NPR, And The Web Prepare To Roll Out Multi-Media Classical Music Celebration This November

NEW YORK - "Tubby the Tuba is too tired. Leonard Bernstein is two-dimensional. And classical music needs new fans.

So along comes Michael Tilson Thomas, the 61-year-old San Francisco Symphony music director with a passion for his subject, a gift for gab and a gee-whiz multimedia project.

Thomas hopes his ambitious "Keeping Score" project will help make symphonic music less intimidating to young and old alike.

Envisioned as a five-year, $23 million project, "Keeping Score" features a PBS series, a national radio series, an interactive Web site and outreach programs that organizers hope will involve 500 teachers and 75,000 students around the country.

"It presupposes the idea that there are intriguing things to find out about classical music - about the back story of the particular performance, and certainly the back story of the piece itself and the era of which it comes, and that it's all fun to actually learn to comprehend things about the way music itself works," Thomas said during a presentation Monday at author Amy Tan's SoHo loft.

With Thomas in the updated Bernsteinesque role as guide, the TV series will debut in November, promising three ear-opening documentaries over successive weeks exploring Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony, Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" and Aaron Copland's life and music.

The radio series, "The MTT Files," will feature eight hourlong installments about life, music and art, including a Thomas interview of soul singer James Brown.

The Web site will help novices and sophisticates better understand the piece's themes, structure, orchestration and mood-changing keys. As the music plays, users can follow the score even if they can't read notes. In a variation of follow the bouncing ball, the main themes will be highlighted as the music plays, enabling users to see how the composer tosses around melodies and harmonies to different instruments.

(A pilot of "Keeping Score," featuring an in-depth look at Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony, was posted on the Web site and televised by PBS in 2004.)

The key, Thomas said, is to present the subject in a conversational manner and allow the musicians to express their own feelings about the music." ...


Martin Steinberg, Associated Press "As classical music crowd ages, Michael Tilson Thomas to rescue" via June 14, 2006

Still from America's first experimental film, MANHATTA

Directed by Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler
1921, 35mm, b/w, 7 min.

Pianist and composer Donald Sosin has created a new score for this, and other early American experimental films.

Image credit: Harvard Film Archive. With thanks.


Also see, Charles Sheeler: Across Media

National Gallery of Art, Washington, May 7–August 27, 2006; The Art Institute of Chicago, October 7, 2006–January 7, 2007; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young, February 10–May 6, 2007


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