Monthly Archives: January 2012


There’s an awful lot of fuss being made today about Alan Gilbert’s confrontation with a NY Phil patron whose cell phone went off during the final measures of Mahler’s 9th Symphony last night.  The errant twitwit aside, internet response seems to be squarely on the maestro’s side, and I concur.  I think he handled splendidly.  I don’t even blame the ushers for not stepping in — they too must have been stunned and reluctant to cause more of a stir by swooping in to discipline a patron seated in the middle of the front row as the last embers of Romanticism died away on stage.

The reports confirm everyone’s suspicions: the offender was an Older Person, so chances are this was an unwitting error on his part.  How many oldsters do you know who regularly hear their cell phone ring in a public (or private) setting?  That’s what I thought.

But just last week, I was witness to an audience disruption of a very different sort, one that the press has overlooked entirely.  Picture it: Cincinnati, 2012.  Music Hall.  The Cincinnati Symphony is on stage with Emmanuel Ax playing the Mozart 22nd piano concerto.  The charming first movement cadenza comes to a close and the orchestra re-enters.  It’s a sublime moment, smile-inducing and soul-restoring.  And it’s the very moment when some hooligan in the rafters applauds and barks out a Tim Allenesque bro-call.

Now here’s the thing: I so wish that this idiot had chosen a different concerto/cadenza for his little outburst, because given the right repertoire, I would be totally supportive of this kind of thing.  I’ve been preaching a long time about how we ought to be clapping between movements (since the composers usually WROTE their symphonies with that very reaction in mind) so why not at the end of cadenzas too, alla jazz performance practice?

Sure.  Fine.  Sounds great, but it depends on which concerto and which cadenza.  The Khatchaturian violin concerto?  By all means yes, everyone should be on their feet applauding the end of that cadenza when a violinist really nails it.  That’s what it’s there for.  I mean, that’s basically what the whole concerto is there for – it’s a virtuoso showpiece, and the cadenza takes up like half of the first movement.  Why should we just sit there?  To show reverence for one of the dumbest themes in the repertoire being played in the orchestra?  Ugh.

Dude.  Seriously.  It’s Mozart’s Eb piano concerto.  It’s not showy, it’s not splashy, it’s just gorgeous.  You know you were just trying to get attention and make a “statement” about jazz or classical or something.  Come on.

New year, new piece, raising money, sexy v. non-sexy projects

First off, if anybody would do even an iota of research on this Mayan calendar thing, they would quickly realize that there’s no apocryphal prophecy associated with it.  And where better to go for an iota of research than Wikipedia?  December 21, 2012 is basically just like a new Mayan millennium.  Granted, it would be way more fun if it were an apocalypse, but it’s not, so let’s all just move on, shall we?

Remember a couple months ago when I came begging for money?  Well, I got it!  And then I made a recording of my new piece, which is actually like 10 months old, but so it goes.  Anyway, here it is:

And here’s more about the piece itself, my cantata setting of Psalm 46.

Me in action mode, with xmas wreath.  Photo credit Sam Greene.

The whole Kickstarter thing was a big success, and the Kickstarter site is packed with really helpful info about how to make your project work.  There are also other sites with helpful hints.  But here’s what I would say to composers looking to do a project like mine: classical music isn’t a sexy sell for a project.


Unlike with other types of projects, random people on the internet are probably not going to contribute to you.  I think I got like three or four, maybe, and I’m still not convinced those weren’t my mother.  Crazy inventions, indie films, and pop records are all much more likely to attract the attention of the people who browse Kickstarter looking to get in on the ground floor of the Next Big Thing.

People singing music I wrote because other people donated money online.  Again, photo by Sam Greene.

For example, my friend Will just ran a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign for his movie “Mulligan” — he raised well over $10,000 in less than a week, and a lot of that came from people that he didn’t know.  Ironically, one of the major rewards categories was the score that I wrote for the movie and those randos were eating it up!  This isn’t sour grapes — quite to the contrary, I’m very happy with the money I raised and I’m really glad that his project succeeded too.  The point is that he had lots of people clicking on his link because they’re into indie film, because indie film is like, a thing that people are into.  I’m not sure most people who are into church music actually own mouse-compatible computers.  (I kid!)  [But, you know, kernel of truth.]

So Kickstarter is a tool — a great way to present and communicate your project and a slick interface for processing electronic payments (it’s linked to Amazon).  But you will still have to do the legwork of begging and browbeating your friends, family & colleagues into kicking in.  So good luck!!  Oh and special thanks to all my readers who contributed!!  Glad to have you as my listeners too!