Prints from Abu Ghraib
Re Anne R. Fabbri’s review of Daniel Heyman’s "Abu Ghraib Project"—
Strong stuff, especially "They took my son." Makes me think of my four young nephews.
Must win next election!
March 27, 2007
Eschenbach’s last hurrah
Re “Eschenbach’s last hurrah,” by Dan Coren—
I am not one of those who will be happy to see Christoph Eschenbach go. His repertory was refreshing after the long snooze of Sawallisch’s Schumann, Brahms and Strauss, and if he was sometimes uneven-- who isn’t?— he was certainly good at his best, and kept the orchestra up to standard.
As to the new season, my colleague Dan Coren is correct that I am less than thrilled. I can find my Shostakovich elsewhere (thanks, Dan, for your concern), but there are an awful lot of chestnuts, and, even among the moderns, the choices are mostly very safe. If we are going to hear Stravinsky, all well and good. But why The Rite of Spring and Petrushka rather than, say, Oedipus Rex and Perspehone?
Bernstein’s West Side Story and Barber’s Violin Concerto? Not exactly discoveries either, and the bathetic Bernstein Third is best left on the curiosity shelf. Carmina Burana and The Messiah? How daring can you get? Let’s all wait for Hillborg’s Exquisite Corpse.
Anent the return of the Eisenhower administration: Who wouldn’t fall on his knees and thank God for it right now, even with Nixon and Dulles and good old Charlie Wilson?
March 21, 2007
Dan Coren replies: The moment I wrote the bit about the Eisenhower administration, I had two thoughts: first, that Dan R. would accompany the piece with a picture of Ike; second, that a return to the actual Eisenhower administration would, as Robert says, be cause for general rejoicing.
When religious music gets political
Loved Tom Purdom’s exploration of the political background of compositions-- so evident when we hear A/A spirituals, not as explicit with Reformation chorales, and getting toward contentious when we explore "contemporary Christian" music.
Plus, Purdom’s description of the mood of the traditional Stabat Mater creations was choice!
March 24, 2007
Purdom’s Guide to Music Groups: Hey, you forgot…..
Re Tom Purdom’s “Subjective Guide to Local Music Groups”—
Kudos for trying to tackle an impossible task: surveying the classical music scene of a major city. While I appreciate Tom’s attempt, as well as the disclaimer in the introduction, other fine musical establishments exist (as he suggests). The musical groups supported by the University of Pennsylvania, the Opera and Ballet companies of Philadelphia, and especially the new music groups Relâche and Prism deserve (indeed, require) mention.
March 14, 2007
Tom Purdom’s listing of local music groups contains one glaring omission in the category of New Music. For more than 25 years the Relâche ensemble has performed, commissioned, and recorded the work of local, national and international composers. If Mr. Purdom is really unaware of their existence, I refer him to their website, relache.org.
Huntingdon Valley, Pa.
March 15, 2007
An admirable article, but I think the many excellent choral and instrumental groups on the Penn campus should be listed as well. I’ve sung under William Parberry in the Penn Choral Society for 30 years, so I’m not entirely impartial, but in recent years Penn has become one of the city’s best music resources.
March 17, 2007
I am glad Tom Purdom finally got to know the Bach Festival at one of the concerts that took place recently. It’s one of the largest Baroque music events in the U.S. and has been around for the past 30 years— also on Broad Street. Hence, to be taken seriously the Review might want to at least mention it in a guide on the main local music groups.
Dr. Guido Houben
March 22, 2007
Tom Purdom replies: I didn’t cover the Opera Company and the Pennsylvania Ballet in my guide to local music organizations because I felt I should stick to the categories posted on the Broad Street Review menus. Opera, ballet and music are listed as separate categories— a division that makes practical sense even if does invite some obvious jokes. I mentioned the music school opera season because I felt that’s a special case. When I first started reviewing for the Welcomat almost two decades ago, I started reviewing the music school operas because nobody else seemed to be doing it. I still have strong feelings about the importance of the music school opera season and felt it should be mentioned in the section on music schools.
As for Relâche— I stopped paying attention to them many years ago, for reasons that are deeply rooted in my attitudes toward art, as a writer and as an audience member. I have a permanent, unshakable prejudice against people who promote the new by disparaging the old, and my limited contacts with Relâche’s offerings strengthened my conviction that artists who do that rarely produce anything I can relate to. Every personal taste has some kind of limit. Mine seems to stop just this side of Relâche.
I had also developed some negative feelings toward the Bach Festival over the years, based on my experience with some of its offerings. I recently realized they’ve made some important changes, and I hope to discuss that in a review in the near future.
Fabbri on Chimes
Ann Fabbri’s review of the Tom Chimes Exhibit was a delicious "icing on the cake." Her observations and comments were right on the target.
She helps a person appreciate the cerebral qualities of the work as well as the its flawless execution.
March 15, 2007
Saving Eakins and the Barnes (again)
In the spirit of Dan Rottenberg’s fantasy, “To save our precious cultural heritage”—
Latest dispatch from Lower Merion: Following the brilliant example set by the Philadelphia Museum, the Lower Merion Commissioners have sold the board of directors of the Barnes Foundation to the Smithsonian for $25 million to ensure that the collection will remain in tact forever. Neighbors are stepping in to administer the Barnes. Derek Gillman is retained as director, as he is a neighbor who knows which way the wind is blowing. A crowd of more than 1,000 picnic on the great lawn to celebrate the foundation’s successful rescue. Governor Rendell claims it was never his intention to move the Barnes. Everyone is happy except Rebecca Rimel, who remains in seclusion.
March 14, 2007
Re “Orchestra chooses Dutoit,” by Steve Cohen—
In my experience, members of the Philadelphia Orchestra are a lot like members of the Philadelphia Police Department: They never like who’s in command.
I’ve heard them all. Rizzo. Ormandy. Cop gripes or Orchestra gripes. You’d think they’d love these guys. But there was always something.
Everyone loved Stokey, of course. At least they say they would. Leopold Stokowski was the gold standard that Ormandy gilded and Muti minted. But I’ve never heard anything but complaints from cops and musicians about their bosses. Especially how to tune up.
March 10, 2007
Lloyd Smith on composing
I thoroughly enjoyed the recent essay on composing by Respond to this Article