Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In Which Pan Cogito Remembers Occasionally To Read ArtsJournal.com On The Future Of Classical Music

“But who likes Birtwistle? I was once talking with the marketing and publicity directors of a major orchestra, which had programmed Birtwistle on a concert with two Beethoven piano concertos. I remember how, as we were talking, they began to think that, just maybe, the audience for Beethoven and Birtwistle might not be the same.

But who might be Birtwistle audience be? Apart from a few high-church music biz insiders. I suspect that it's the alt-classical crowd. I remember teaching 20 years ago at the U of Minnesota, and finding that the students in my class who loved hearing Babbitt were heavily into punk. I think the alt crowd has the most open minds, of any audience group I know how to define.

But then the question becomes what to program Birtwistle with. I think that's solvable, probably without too much difficulty. Messiaen with ambient electronic work was an inspired, if in retrospect obvious choice, and there's probably something that makes sense with Birtwistle. Maybe Squarepusher, even (if they're still around).

If a mainstream institution got an alt audience interested in anything they did -- and, most important, trusting them -- I think Birtwistle might not be a problem. I'd love to see this happen.”

Gregory Sandow in ArtsJournal.com March 29, 2009


Works by Harrison Birtwistle and Sofia Gubaidulina are happily scheduled for performances at, respectively, the Kennedy Center and the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., in the month of May. These works will be performed happily in the company of other classical works of music.


At the Kennedy Center, the Nash Ensemble will perform a work by Birtwistle in the happy company of -- not Squarepusher -- but rather Knussen, Benjamin, Carter, Matthews, and Maw.


On Thursday, May 21, 2009, Sofia Gubaidulina will be a special guest at the Freer Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., along with the Moscow String Quartet. Born in the Tatar Republic of the former Soviet Union, Sofia Gubaidulina has earned commissions from the world’s leading ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. The Moscow String Quartet performs her String Trio and String Quartet no. 4, Glinka’s Quartet in F Major, and Borodin’s Quartet no. 2.


The Tsars and the East: Gifts from Turkey and Iran in The Moscow Kremlin

May 9–September 13, 2009

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Organized by the Smithsonian Institution's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in collaboration with The Moscow Kremlin Museums, this presentation features more than sixty exceptional objects that large embassies, diplomatic missions, and trade delegations of Ottomans and Safavids offered to the tsars of imperial Russia. Ranging in date from the late sixteenth to the late seventeenth century, these lavish gifts and tributes include rarely seen arms and armor and jeweled ceremonial vessels and regalia intended for the Russian court or the Orthodox church. Some of the finest pieces are equestrian in nature: stirrups with pearls, golden bridles with turquoises and rubies, and saddles covered with velvet and silk. The exhibition, only on view in Washington, D.C., explores the reasons why these extraordinary gifts were presented, their artistic and cultural impact, and the aesthetic styles and ceremonial etiquette they inspired that came to characterize the Russian court in the seventeenth century and beyond.


Header credit: Peter Paul Rubens: The Road to Calvary, 1632; oil, emulsion paint on wood; 18 x 23 1/2 in.; Berkeley Art Museum purchase. (c) Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. 2009.

Footer credit: Heinrich Aldegrever: Children Fighting Bears, 1537 (detail); engraving; 1 1/16 x 17 5/16 in.; gift of the Estate of J. K. Moffitt. (c) Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. 2009.


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