New York Festival of Song visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall with a program celebrating Ned Rorem’s 90th birthday. The frame—the tonality, the lyricism, the elegant hedonism—is obvious; but what’s contained within the frame, what is and isn’t there, is something considerably more elusive.
Like the stories of all great artists, most of the Lou Reed story is built on a mountain of crucial untruth—a wispy chunk of magical thinking, a campfire story of how “downtown” got that way. We like our myths, our legends, and we fight hard to keep them. Lou, as I called him, wandered into this stacked self-presentation so completely that I believe he had to believe it.
It was a massive interdisciplinary art, music, and sound event produced on a scale large enough to successfully fill an arena—something intense, interesting, challenging, interdisciplinary, and yet totally accessible. Perhaps we need to admit to ourselves that people like to be challenged, that people want to dive into wild and contemporary imagery and messages, but that our success in that mission may not come from our own backyard.
Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels is a glorious mess. In some ways this makes it the perfect thing to put on to celebrate the 10th anniversary of LA’s Walt Disney Hall and its already turbulent history. As for the score itself, it is—how should I put this?—spectacularly over-orchestrated, bordering on near-cacophony with unsettling frequency. I mean this as a good thing.
Boston University is currently reviewing their financial stake in the program and its future—both as part of the larger university and as directly connected to Tanglewood itself. But cutting BUTI or relocating it from its current campus would be a sad erasure of a rich legacy that stretches back forty-five years and encompasses the early careers of many prominent musicians.
The Ostrava Days, an intense biennial in the Eastern end of the Czech Republic, has long been known for stretching into long nights across August. But this year seemed especially expansive: there were performances of Philip Glass’s four-hour Music in 12 Parts and Petr Kotik’s nearly six-hour Many Many Women before the official opening night.
Individual performers, composers, organizations, presenters, and other artists can all apply on behalf of their projects simply and at no cost. The new system boasts a streamlined process designed to allow music makers to showcase their work and ask for the support they need in a succinct and efficient manner. The first deadline is November 4.