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Following a wonderful party at Fort Worth Zoo yesterday evening (including appearances from flamingos, baby racoons, and a skunk), first on the menu this morning was a fascinating symposium on Cultural Diplomacy.  After Stuart Isacoff’s introduction to arts diplomacy between America and Russia from the end of  World War Two up until the fall of the Berlin Wall, we heard from panellists Marc Thayer, Sarah Tanguy, and Patrick Castillo.

Images: Fort Worth Zoo

First we heard from Marc Thayer, former deputy director of American Voices, which takes musicians abroad to countries including Iraq and Afghanistan, to teach and perform music to locals.  Marc emphasised the good relations this forms with local musicians, leaving a favourable and lasting impression of American culture. Rather than just taking American music to these communities, they build on the practices already in place, using the music of the countries they visit together with American music.

Founded in 1953 and formalised by President Kennedy, Arts in Embassies takes American artists to participate abroad, engaging over 20,000 people to date in 189 countries.  Professional curators, such as Sarah Tanguy, create around 60 exhibitions per year, and since the turn of the century over 58 permanent collections have been installed in diplomatic facilities all over the world.

Patrick Castillo, a composer, performer, writer, and educator, has taken part at The Festival de Música Contemporánea de La Habana three times.  Having started as the only American participant, the most recent festival saw ten members of the American Composers Forum attend.  Patrick cited lack of equipment in Cuba as a major problem, and said that on subsequent visits, composers and musicians took across suitcases of reeds, strings, pencils, and manuscript paper.

Throughout the discussion it emerged that sadly these schemes are not something that the State Department likes to trumpet, fearing accusations of misspending of public money.  Thus reciprocal schemes giving opportunities for oversees artists to visit the States have not yet taken flight.  All three speakers were also nervous about funding cuts, with the future of their organisations not guaranteed.

Image: Cultural Exchange Symposium, The Cliburn

Concert 1 of the Final Round begins this evening at 7.30pm, and can be viewed on cliburn2017.medici.tv.

(Written on June 7, 2017 )

Classical News

In today’s news, Berlin’s three opera houses celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and Brassed Off avoids closure again. Also, Robin Ticciati is appointed music director of the DSO Berlin, and Patten is jailed for murdering pianist Aligizakis

The Guardian

Berlin’s opera weekend: tradition, innovation and orientalism

Berlin’s three opera houses united to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall and open their seasons with a trio of new productions by Wagner, Offenbach and Meyerbeer

Classical Music Magazine

Robin Ticciati appointed music director of the DSO Berlin

The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin has named Robin Ticciati as its new principal conductor and music director

Classic FM

Man jailed for life for ‘senseless and unprovoked’ murder of pianist

Mark Patten (below left), aged 30 of Thornton Heath, London, has been sentenced to a minimum of 17 years in prison for the murder of Menelaos Aligizakis (below right), a talented pianist and teacher, who was killed in a brutal attack outside Waterloo Station on 3 January 2015

The Strad

Every violinist must develop an individual voice, says Aaron Rosand

The American maestro discusses the importance of developing a distinctive tone

The Times

Richard Morrison: why conductor JoAnn Falletta deserves to be the world’s favourite maestro

Thrilling live performances of richly varied music — and more people enticed to experience them — are required

BBC

The Brassed Off band make a comeback after avoiding closure again

The Grimethopre Colliery Band’s fight for survival when the coal mine closed in the early 1990s inspired the 1996 film Brassed Off. The band did survive – and now, enjoying a resurgence, are among the favourites for this weekend’s brass band National Championships

New York Times

Mercedes Bass Is Elected Acting Chairwoman of Carnegie Hall

The philanthropist Mercedes T. Bass was elected the acting chairwoman of Carnegie Hall on Thursday, succeeding Ronald O. Perelman, the billionaire businessman who stepped down from the post after eight month

concerti.de

„Ich wollte keinen weiteren Geiger mehr erziehen“

Deshalb löste Menahem Pressler 2009 das legendäre Beaux Arts Trio auf – die Bühne hat der Pianist dennoch nicht verlassen

KulturPort.de

Zauber der Barockmusik in Europas kleinster Hauptstadt – Valletta International Baroque Festival 2016

Bereits zum vierten Mal wird sich im Januar kommenden Jahres der Vorhang für das Valletta International Baroque Festival öffnen. Vom 16. bis 30. Januar 2016 erwarten Liebhaber barocker Musik in Maltas einzigartiger Hauptstadt Valletta wieder musikalische Perlen des 16. bis 18. Jahrhunderts, aufgeführt von den renommiertesten Barock-Musikern Europas

El Pais

43 Festival Cervantino: cultura y ciencia en México ante la violencia

El mayor evento interartístico de América Latina impulsa el cruce creación-conocimiento. En el discurso de inauguración, el director del Cervantino, Jorge Volpi, hincó el dedo en los problemas sociales y de violencia que arrastra México

Twitter

The Strad‘In spiccato the player is active and the bow is passive: in sautillé the player is passive and the bow is active’

BBC Radio 3: Music seems to be universal and affects almost everyone deeply. asks why:

Sinfini MusicStop press! Video evidence of page turner indisputably saving the day. Time to update this?

news9thoctWrestling with political and national associations … Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg at Staatsoper Berlin. Photograph: Bernd Uhlig/The Guardian

(Written on October 9, 2015 )

It was reported today by Pizzicato that French conductor Frédéric Chaslin refused to conduct the Israeli Opera on Saturday after his request to have a moment of commemoration for the victims of the terrorist attacks in France was denied. He wanted to address the audience and play the national anthem of Israel but was told that this would ‘upset the audience.’

It saddened me to hear this, this morning; one of the reasons I love classical music is its relevance to situations like this. Throughout the ages, music has been used to celebrate, commemorate and mourn national and global events: Handel’s Zadok the Priest is played at every British coronation. Beethoven’s Ode to Joy will forever be synonymous with the concert celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The second movement of Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs uses words found on a wall of a Gestapo cell to remember the horrors of the Holocaust. The image of a man playing the piano in front of Ukrainian riot police.

pianist-chopin-ukraine-riot-police-1386931916-article-0

Photo found at Classic FM

I think Chaslin’s reaction was appropriate and his request should have been granted. Yes, it may have been upsetting for the audience, but as the world sat shocked at the events in Paris and Dammartin-en-Goele, music should have been a part of the healing and defiance.

(Written on January 12, 2015 )