Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The humidity of other planets

This month has been one of my busiest ever, I think. Late June and early July had me bartending at a furious pace during World Cup soccer matches, after which I immediately segued into a titanic, non-arts-related writing assignment.

Amid copious rewrites and explorations of several business-related fields about which I previously knew next to nothing, I found time to crank out several music-related assignments. Though it took away valuable time from a series of impending deadlines, writing about music did me quite a bit of good.

So, from Sunday, a preview of the Philadelphia Orchestra's presentation of Planet Earth Live, an evening-length, multimedia, music/video/nature documentary jawn, with both music and film images adapted from the BBC documentary Planet Earth. I'll be attending this on Thursday with my wife and several members of her family.

Also, a feature on Red KoolAde, a very talented jazz trio with two doctors among its members. The group's saxophonist provided me with a never-before-seen journalistic opportunity: he invited me over to his house for a party where the band was performing. It made for some observations that sitting in on a Sunday night practice session never would have afforded.

Finally, in my first non-Paperboy contribution to Phawker in several months, I put together a preview of this past Saturday's Non-Classical showcase, presented by Gabriel Prokofiev's far-reaching record label. The interview with GP went up on Phawker a scant couple of hours before the event, and I wasn't able to attend anyway, but GP's answers to my questions turned out to be very illuminating. I haven't heard any reports on Saturday's attendance, but I hope my preview encouraged at least a small boost.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Official business

In today's Courier-Post, I had the pleasure of breaking the news that Camden's Symphony in C has appointed a new president. Krishna Thiagarajan -- I asked him several times for the correct pronunciation of his last name -- comes to the Symphony from the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, where his colleagues praised his leadership as director of education and community outreach and, for the last year, senior director of artistic operations.

Thiagarajan -- I'm told his former students called him "Dr. T" -- impressed me with his thoughtful approach to orchestral programming during unsteady economic times, as well as with his deeply-felt connection to classical repertoire and his willingness to try new things (he mentioned performing George Crumb's music -- possibly the Four Nocturnes (Summer Night II) -- and it was all I could do to refrain from gushing over Crumb and contemporary music in general). Following a season in which the Symphony performed at a high level, made its Carnegie Hall debut, and faced a daunting budget shortage due to delays in state funding, Thiagarajan comes into a situation with more potential than peril, but weaning the Symphony off of unreliable funding sources -- the state council on the arts included -- will be an immediate, pressing challenge.

He'll be on the job effective September 1, though he won't arrive in Camden until the 8th, owing to a long-planned trip to his native Germany. I look forward to many more conversations with him on the Symphony and its future, the classical repertoire, and, if possible, the contributions to the beer-drinking world from his hometown of Dortmund.