Travel Notes: Perusing the Local Papers

One of the interesting things about travel is reading the arts pages in newspapers in which one might not otherwise be inclined to search for Detritus. As it turns out, they have places all over the place. To wit:

It seems that the Augusta (GA, not ME) Symphony is conducting a conductor search.

That seems reasonable. Specifics are, I assume, forthcoming. Eventually.

Diane Wittry says the survival of symphonic music depends on its ability to become an immersive experience.

As well as, one notes, the economy, repertoire, community, players, education, acoustics, venues, and probably diet. But yes, yes, immersive experience and all that. Say, who is this Diane Wittry?

Ms. Wittry, the fourth and final applicant for the Augusta Symphony's soon-to-be vacant conductor's post,

Ah. Excellent. And what did she mean?

...[Ms. Wittry] said that means symphonies must find ways to involve the audience in their traditions.

What is important, then, is to create an immersive experience by finding ways to involve the audience in the traditions of symphonic music. And/or its concert-going, I reckon. Hopefully this is more than proper attire for orchestral concerts and not coughing.

"It's all about enhancing the musical product," she said during a recent telephone interview.

Oh...oops. I had erroneously assumed it was about music. (Who knew that one little capsule could provide natural musical enhancement?) Enhancing the musical product? Amplification? No? Then what are...

"But you always have to keep the music at the forefront.

But...what? Yes, you do. So what's the distinction?

It's a very important distinction. I never want the music to become a secondary component."

Secondary to what? The product? Seconary component of...immersion? Hmm.

What's going on? How did I get to Georgia? I'd better get some more coffee...

Okay. Now, we were discussing immersion without music becoming secondary...

As an example, Ms. Wittry cited a concert she programmed featuring music from films.

Sounds potentially immersive! How to keep the music in the fore?

She said she wanted to ensure the movies didn't overshadow the music,

So let's keep the movies out of the concert per se while including all of the (potentially immersive) depth latent in such a program! Sounds great; we could write about the films in the program, perhaps have links on the web of references or places audience members can view them before the concert, or read about them, or the composers. Something like that?

and so stills from the films were shown on a screen while the orchestra played selections from the score.

...or I suppose you could quite literally overshadow the music by projecting stills. Behind the orchestra. During the concert.

I propose that for full immersive effect, the experience should not begin and end with the concert hall. Immersion in music can begin before and end well after the actual 110 minutes or so of seated listening in a concert hall. With a little effort (perhaps with help from the concert organization) the experience could be a lifetime of learning and enjoyment for the audience. Whoo, art!

Or, you know, stills of movies during the concert.

"My whole mission in life is finding new ways to bring music to the people. I think what an orchestra should do is build community," she said.

She sounds like a commie. I'm all for it. Can we get some public funds while we're at it?

Ms. Wittry conducts orchestras in Allentown, Pa., and Norwalk, Conn. She has written a Pulitzer Prize-nominated book about her life in music and has composed and recorded her own music. Her latest is a Valentine's Day release titled Love's Passion.

This intrusive introductory biographical paragraph interrupts the narrative flow and may have been better served at the beginning of the article, but whatever.

She said the challenges presented in Augusta -- working with an unknown ensemble, a soloist and without repeating recent repertoire, were formidable, but welcome.

That sounds challenging yet rewarding! An outstanding opportunity for an aspiring conductor.

"It was, in this equation, an interesting process," she said.

I don't understand this quote at all. Which part is the process? The audition, I guess...but what things are being equated? Eh, the sense of the thing comes through. It sounds like coming to Augusta is appealing to Ms. Wittry.

Part of the appeal of coming to Augusta, Ms. Wittry said, is the relative stability of the conductor post. If hired, she would be only the third in its 54-year history.

That's very cool.

"I like that," she said. "I feel like that kind of stability is important. It's important for a director to come in and want to stay around long enough to see a group evolve. That's something that can take a few years.

"Stability is good for an orchestra."

Agreed. On the balance, a nice piece; I wanted to point out some other, more inclusive ideas of immersion. Or whatever. Mostly though...
...I think it'd be fascinating if Augusta's symphony hires a woman as a conductor before its famous golf club admits a woman as a member.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of public funds, this is an interesting quote concerning music from an article discussing the Frankfurt School.

"[Theodor W.] Adorno was to become head of a ‘music studies’ unit, where in his Theory of Modern Music he promoted the prospect of unleashing atonal and other popular music as a weapon to destroy society, degenerate forms of music to promote mental illness. He said the US could be brought to its knees by the use of radio and television to promote a culture of pessimism and despair - by the late 1930s he (together with Horkheimr) had migrated to Hollywood."

Sator Arepo said...

Citation needed? Just putting it in quotes don't cut it, CM.

Sator Arepo said...

Also.."atonal and other popular music"? Since when?

Anonymous said...

Funny stuff isn't it?

Sorry I left out the citation.

"The Frankfurt School: Conspiracy to Corrupt"
By Timothy Matthews


Though he weakens his argument [to some] by stating "[m]ost of Satan’s work in the world he takes care to keep hidden," this article does make some interesting points. I find very intriguing that the music which supports the grotesque parody in "Pierrot Lunaire" becomes the music which supports the grotesque reality in "Survivor from Warsaw." Interesting enough, 1912 saw the German people vote in the SPD and we know what came from that.

NaiveSentimentalist said...

LOL...she was MD of the local orchestra here while I was growing up, did a good job really (strange, don't think she ever mentions the post though - maybe we're too provincial.) Wondered what she was up to now. She has a book out called "Beyond the Baton" that is pretty good, got autographed copy (ooh) at our B&N.