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Classical Notes

It's all in the ears of the beholder

Posted at 12:12 PM on July 1, 2007 by Alison Young

Have you ever listened to something, maybe even on Classical Minnesota Public Radio, and afterwards you thought (or exclaimed aloud) "You call that music?!"

Next Saturday, San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas takes us on an exploratory journey of the part "noise" has played in music. Well, I wonder what MTT would have to say about an organist turned composer who is planning to use the Roosevelt mid-Hudson Bridge as his instrument? Joseph Bertolozzi, who wants to give public performances of his “Bridge Music” as part of Henry Hudson and Samuel de Champlain’s 400th anniversary celebration, told the New York Times there’s no guesswork involved in his music. "I have an army of percussionists playing a percussion instrument." That would be cables, spindles, guard-rails, I-beams and grates.

As far as MTT and his conclusions on next Saturday’s broadcast about what's noise and what's music: I think he'd most likely say "It’s all in the ear of the beholder!"