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Classical Notes: May 16, 2006 Archive

What we talk about when we talk about music

Posted at 3:16 PM on May 16, 2006 by Don Lee

Ill leave it to someone else to respond directly to Tom Oscanyan, who posed a question in the Comments under John Birges post yesterday. Mr. Oscanyan wonders how critics judge the artistic merit of a performance. As a lifelong fan of classical music, he says, I'm still trying to wrap my arms around the idea of a review.

The language of music is abstract and our reactions to it are subjective. So Ill bet part of Mr. Oscanyan's problem is the difficulty in wrapping words around music.

My motivation for that tangential response to his question is to recommend a discussion I just read by British broadcaster Armando Iannucci. He says, It's easy to fall back on quasi-mystical, pretentious language when trying to talk about one's experience of classical music, but that shouldn't stop us trying. You can find the rest of Iannucci's attempt here.

Canada tries one-upping "Minnesota nice"

Posted at 9:11 PM on May 16, 2006 by John Zech
Filed under: The blog

Thumper's mother said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." That's what the National Arts Centre in Ottawa is saying to its employees. But they want to make it more than a code of conduct. They want it to be a law--for life--according to an article in the Ottawa Citizen Saturday.

You may recall that Pinchas Zukerman is the music director of the NAC orchestra. You may also recall Zukerman took a sudden sabbatical from the orchestra a few months ago, words were said, and now, just as suddenly...he's back. Of course, the NAC communications director piped up right away to say "It's not about Pinchas."

Yeah, right. And when they say it's not about the money, it's ALWAYS about the money.

They musician's union says they already have a code of conduct and they are protesting.