Post by Dick Letts, August 30th, 2015
Jarryd James the next big thing in pop music?
That’s what the reviewer on music.mic has written after James’s New York live debut. James has already had great success in the Australian charts.
The music.mic headline says “The Producers Who Brought Us Lorde Have Found the Next Great Pop Star.” Each song demonstrates a deep talent, and they veer sharply away from the boisterous, overproduced pop that tends to dominate radio stations. His lyrics are unpretentious and understated, though they’re lent an intriguing depth by the soft, cooing harmonies he cloaks them in. In person, he’s similarly soft-spoken, unrelentingly thoughtful and almost shy.
Sinfini Music, a website with interesting content about classical music, is publishing an online comic. The Opera Strip! Series, it says, “demystifies some of the greatest operatic tales ever told”.
“In the first of this deluxe series of comic strips we tackle the world of gods and men in Wagner’s epic Ring Cycle: Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), Die Walkure (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, and Gotterdammerung (The Twilight of the Gods). [Is that ‘epic’ or ‘e-pic’?]
“Crafted in hand-drawn comic strips we dispense with the stuffiness of a written libretto and present these unique operas in a new and vibrant format.”
So all that is missing is the libretto, the score, the singing, the acting (well…), set, costumes, lighting, production. And the dignity. But don’t you worry about that…
mp3 bad for the sex drive
“Neuroscientists are beginning to look at how the brain responds to compressed mp3s (as found on streaming services) as opposed to higher-resolution digital. Early results suggest that with high resolution, the brain’s emotional activity is the same as with live music, while less dopamine, the chemical behind such pleasures as sex, is released when the music files are highly compressed. The reasons, however, for the low streaming standard are, these days, commercial (it’s cheaper to use less bandwidth and more convenient), not technical.
“So the thing to remember when it comes to the progress of art (and to technology): Never follow the money, follow the artists. That’s where the creativity and caring lies. Streaming is no exception.”
– Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times
Read the article at http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-ca-cm-streaming-vs-cds-notebook-20150809-column.html#page=1
Better Arts Journalism
There is a Facebook page under this title where musicians can say they wish there were. But how to make it happen? Presumably, where it should be better is in the mass print media. Better, or more? There is now so little even half way serious arts journalism in the mass print media, perhaps it’s not worth worrying about. What online options will emerge? https://www.facebook.com/groups/455663024610223/
The USA is down to 12 full time arts journalists
Population 330,000,000. Maybe 2 or 3 are music journalists. The New York Times alone probably used to have that many.
Sydney Sacred Music Festival 2015
A focus on sacred music, especially new and multicultural sacred music, is just about unheard of in Australia. By Jig’s, anyway. Yet this festival, led by the indomitable Richard Petkovic, is about to have its fifth outing. It stretches right across the city. You could attend a sunrise chanting workshop at Bankstown, the Baha’i choral concert at Mona Vale; the high end jazz/Indian music Fusion of Sandy Evan’s Kapture in the Blue Mountains, the dance fusion of Tango and Flamenco in Newtown and the uniting of Sufi Qawwali and Electronic Dance Music at Campbelltown. September 5-20. http://www.sydneysacredmusicfestival.org/
Larry Sitsky honoured
Senior composer, Larry Sitsky, was honoured at the annual APRA/Australian Music Centre Art Music Awards. He received the lifetime achievement award in this, his 80th year. Based at the school of music at ANU, Larry has for decades passed on his enormous craft to students, all the while composing extraordinary works for just about every classical music medium.
Now would be a good time for some Sitsky retrospectives. Unfortunately, the destruction of the school of music at ANU must mean that it is basically incapable of anything adequate to the accomplishments of its most distinguished professor.
The biggest hits internationally: the big companies or the small?
Arts Minister Brandis told a Senate Estimates that the main purpose of his funding heist was to direct more funds to the major companies. “They are the big employers of artists and arts workers. They are the people who undertake most of the touring, including the regional touring, as well as the international touring. They are the people who provide the performances that the great audiences of Australia enjoy.” And so the first grants from his new fund go to support touring by the major companies.
Crikey has assembled some data that show that Brandis’s assertion is not nearly true. The total number of attendances for Australian companies performing outside Australia in the years 2010-14 was 2.57 million. Companies other than the major companies were responsible for 2.11 million, or 82%. (crikey.com, August 20). The Minister, sigh, got it wrong.
Of course, there is no particular reason to expect a lot of international activity from these big companies. It is not needed to justify their existence. It is very expensive to mount a tour by an orchestra or opera company. They could tour more if they had the subsidy for it. But why is that of higher merit than touring by the small companies? Does the Minister have some arguments to put?
This week’s viola joke
An orchestra has two Co-Principal violas on the front desk. At the last minute the conductor goes sick, so one of them, with experience as a conductor, takes to the podium to conduct the concert. All goes well.
The next day, his fellow Co-Principal asks him “Where were you last night?”
OA’s Aida gets cinema release
Opera Australia’s production of Aida on Sydney Harbour will have a cinema release from 29 August around the country, for up to three nights.
Research shows it: musicians are lovely people (yeah yeah)
The minds of musicians and non-musicians are not the same. Personality studies show some of the ways musicians are different from everyone else:
They are more open, conscientious and agreeable, even than other artists. However, strings frequently attract “the quieter, more introverted and studious child” whereas brass and singing appeal to more “socially outgoing and extroverted types”. No matter the instrument, learning music can improve verbal and reading abilities, spatio-temporal reasoning, creative ability, IQ and emotional and behavioural maturation. It does these things “more than twice as much as sport, theatre or dance”. The article by Tom Barnes gives links to the research.