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CLASSICAL  January 2006

CLASSICAL January 2006

Subject:

Re: Chamber Music

From:

Larry Sherwood <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 8 Jan 2006 12:10:26 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (45 lines)

At first I thought Karl Miller was being condescending when he solicited
the thoughts of people like me for limning a direction for programming
of a Chamber Music.  After all, what insight into matters musical could
I offer Karl?  Then I realized I do have thoughts on the subject, and I
am probably not wholly unrepresentative of the crowd that cottons toward
live chamber music.  So Karl ...  you asked for it:

My first suggestion would not address programming per se ...  rather it
would address ambiance.  This list has had numerous references about the
Decline of Audiences, which I regard as a genuine problem for classical
music today.  And while I don't have the answer to how to bring back an
appropriate respectfulness on the part of the audience, I'd offer two
thoughts.  First, do nothing to encourage boorishness on the part of the
audience.  I've been aghast that the Kennedy Center in the past couple
of years has permitted people to bring water bottles to performances
(I'm sure this has nothing to do with the fact that they sell water
bottles a mere 50 feet from the entrance to the Terrace Theater).  So
now, it addition to the coughs and the rustling of programs, I find I
am treated to an accompaniment of smacking of lips (particularly from
younger members of the audience) and fiddling with their bottles as
people quench their thirst.  That single policy change has kept me from
attending a couple of events at the Kennedy Center.  Second, please don't
allow people to enter the concert hall while music is in progress.

As for programming, I'm going to assume there is only one concert series
to work with so that Karl does not have the luxury of tailoring a series
to specialized interests.  I think the tried-and-true approach of having
one or two of pieces from the standard repertoire- or at least works by
composers with pieces in the standard repertoire- coupled with something
contemporary has a lot to recommend it.  Karl needs no help from me on
selecting the standard- or near standard- repertoire (although I'd put
in a plea for some of the lessor known works of the most celebrated
masters of the genre).

But the contemporary side of the equation can be a morass.  As a general
rule, I'd suggest the Austin Chamber Music Center avoid truly experimental
music- most of us who cherish Beethoven's and Smetana's quartets just
don't go for wall scrapings and violinists hanging from helicopters.
There is plenty of interesting, tonal music from the likes of Aaron Jay
Kernis, Benjamin Lees, and Robert Simpson that doesn't get performed
frequently and that most devotees of chamber music would value.  Finally,
a well-informed but non-technical discussion ab out the music before or
after a concert can stimulate interest.

Larry Sherwood <[log in to unmask]>

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