. Interchanging Idioms: March 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Music is an experience, that goes beyond the music

TwtrSymphony wants to bring Classical Music back into the forefront of our musical experience.

The other night I was at a hockey game. It was amazing how much a part of the whole experience of the game was the music that played during the breaks. The music was what got the crowd roaring and excited for the event, the music was what peaked emotions during the game and the music was what encouraged the chanting for the victory. Sometimes the music was hard pounding rock, sometimes it was elements of film scores with the sweeping strings driving people to a frenzy. The audience was experiencing music and responding to the music physically. Classical music has this power and (IMHO) more ability to achieve this than any other music form due to its rich complexities and possibilities.

Disneyland has a show, "The World of Color" which features a light and water fountain show set to music from Disney movies. The most enthusiastic moment in the show is when the music of "Pirates of the Caribbean" plays. Like with the hockey game, it's sweeping orchestra music that really digs deep into our emotional centers and stirs us to respond. It's not the film; it's the music that makes people respond. Yes, there are other elements in the performance - but without the music the performance would be pale, lame and uneventful. Disney understands the power of music.

Our Kickstarter is all about bringing classical music back into the forefront of our music world. We want to not only produce a CD of new music, we want to share our music via social media driving it into new arena, introducing new people to the power of exciting, visceral music. Become part of the new way of classical music. Support our quest!

Believe in the power of music

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Minnesota Orchestra Cancels Concerts Through April 27

Four programs cancelled and two are re-scheduled

The Minnesota Orchestral Association announced today that it has cancelled further concert performances through Saturday, April 27, 2013, noting that nearly a year into contract negotiations its musicians have yet to put forward a counterproposal and no contract settlement has been reached. All ticketholders of affected concerts are being contacted and offered a variety of options including the opportunity to exchange tickets for a future concert or receive a full refund. A complete list of affected concerts is available below.

“We will soon mark one full year since the start of our negotiations, and we renew our call to the musicians to issue a counterproposal that helps resolve the Orchestra’s financial challenges. It is confounding that over the last 11 months the Union has neither been willing to suggest a proposal of their own nor accept ours,” said Minnesota Orchestra Board Chair Jon Campbell. “In order to initiate progress earlier this winter, the Board agreed to participate in an independent financial review suggested by the musicians, and we shared all future financial projections the Union had requested. We stand ready to meet with the Union at any time in order to negotiate a settlement and resume concerts, but we can only do so with a willing partner.”

Contract talks, which are overseen by a federal mediator, began last April 12, 2012, between the Orchestral Association and the Musicians’ Union. In January, the Orchestra Board agreed to conduct a joint financial analysis musicians had sought in order to verify the organization’s financial position. The Board has suggested that the review should focus on testing the accuracy of the organization’s Fiscal 2012 results, as well as the forward-looking financial assumptions upon which the organization’s strategic plan is based. Discussions between the Board and Union are ongoing to agree to terms for the analysis.

The contract proposal currently before musicians includes:

• A total package averaging $119,000 per musician, including an average salary of $89,000 with $30,000 in benefits per musician (representing approximately a 30 percent salary reduction from the previous contract);
• Benefits encompassing a guaranteed pension benefit (with no musician contribution required) and a health plan commensurate with that of management and administration;
• A minimum of 10 weeks paid vacation;
• A 21-hour work week;
• A plan to incorporate chamber music and educational outreach opportunities into musician base pay in order to increase the organization’s community outreach.

“We ask the musicians to join us in beginning the back-and-forth bargaining around the details of this proposal that will lead to a settlement. Refusing to accept or address our financial challenges will not make them disappear,” said President and CEO Michael Henson. “As we are forced to cancel further concerts, we offer our deepest apologies to patrons who are eager to attend performances. We sincerely regret the impact of these cancellations and hope our musicians will soon join us at the bargaining table so we do not need to cancel further performances.”

In December, the Orchestral Association made public its annual independent audit, conducted by CliftonLarsonAllen, which revealed an operating deficit of $6 million for Fiscal 2012, the largest in its history.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

London Symphony Orchestra and Valery Gergiev Give a Free Concert in Trafalgar Square

MONDAY 27 MAY 2013 AT 6.30 PM

Following the outstandingly successful first open-air, free concert in May 2012, the London Symphony Orchestra in partnership with BMW and the Mayor of London is returning to Trafalgar Square this year. The next annual BMW LSO Open Air Classics concert, which last year attracted an audience estimated in the press to be up to 10,000 people, will take place in the square on Monday 27 May 2013, Spring Bank Holiday Monday, at 6.30 pm. Principal Conductor of the LSO, Valery Gergiev will conduct an all-Berlioz programme. The aim of BMW LSO Open Air Classics is to bring outstanding music performed in the open air – free for everyone in an informal atmosphere.

Gergiev and the LSO will perform Berlioz’s Overture Le corsaire, and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. In a performance of a specially arranged version of Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique by Gareth Glyn 80 young musicians including conservatoire students and LSO On Track young musicians from LSO Discovery, the Orchestra’s award-winning music education and community programme, will play alongside the LSO players. LSO animateur and composer Rachel Leach will present the concert from the stage, guiding the audience through the music. Large screens will be mounted on either side of the stage to allow the audience to witness the concert up close.

Young Londoners who have benefited from the Mayor's Music Fund will be also attending the concert. The charity gives support to young people with musical potential whose families cannot always meet the cost of instrumental tuition, and provides opportunities for them to meet and even play with professionals.

Valery Gergiev has commented:
“I am delighted to return to Trafalgar Square with the London Symphony Orchestra after our outstanding success last year. Performing Berlioz’s brilliant Symphonie fantastique to a vast crowd of every age in one of London’s iconic locations is again a unique opportunity to reach a new audience beyond the concert hall. The inspired partnership of BMW and the LSO has created the experience of the music of a great orchestra free, for everyone – I am thrilled.”

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:
“It's fantastic to have Valery Gergiev and the LSO returning to Trafalgar Square. I have no doubt the chance to listen to stirring music in this incomparable location will again draw large crowds. It's a terrific opportunity for even more people to experience classical music. I'm especially pleased that some of the Mayor's Music Scholars will get to meet members of the orchestra and hope it will spur them in their ambitions to become great musicians themselves.”

Dr Ian Robertson (HonDSc) Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, has said:
“The tremendous success of the ‘BMW LSO Open Air Classics’ premiere at Trafalgar Square in May 2012 confirms once again our appreciation for this long-term cooperation. With the LSO we have not only a highly valuable partner, but also another first-class orchestra to offer open live concerts in London, alongside those already offered to audiences in Munich and Berlin. We are looking forward to working together over the coming years and to further musical open-air highlights!”

Kathryn McDowell Managing Director of the LSO, has said:
“Playing to over 10,000 people at the BMW LSO Open Air Classics concert in Trafalgar Square was a major highlight of 2012 for the LSO and we are delighted to be returning to the heart of London again this year with Valery Gergiev and the LSO performing Symphonie fantastique in an all Berlioz programme. In BMW we have found a partner who shares our enthusiasm and desire to build on last year’s success and bring the thrill of orchestral music to thousands more people. The LSO is grateful to the Mayor of London for supporting this event and together we look forward to establishing this free open air concert as an annual highlight in London’s cultural diary”.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My take on musicians on strike

Hard decisions by both management and union organizers affecting classical music

I'm going to make a lot of enemies with this post. I'll probably get told I'm unreasonable and it may even affect my future in terms of orchestra administration, but sometimes it's important to take a stand.


Composing music is my real passion. So, I'm not sure I really fit with either the administrative camp or the musician camp. When I get paid by an orchestra (not including my day job) it's for a piece of music. It's a one time payment whether it's for a commission or performance rights to an existing work.

However, the musicians are the core to the orchestra. As Music Director for TwtrSymphony, I am certain I spend more time worried about the details of orchestra operation than any of the musicians. I might even go so far as to say I worry about it more than all the musicians put together. But that doesn't change the fact, the music comes out of the musicians. They are who and what you hear. In terms of payroll, they come first.

We just launched a Kickstarter today in hopes to raise money for a CD project - new music for a new audience in a new way. The bulk of the money we raise will go to the musicians. It won't come even close to being the kind of pay the musicians of San Francisco Symphony or Minnesota Symphony Orchestra would expect to receive. Still, the point is, the majority of our budget is for making the music.

Let's move into the future four or five years. Should TwtrSymphony get to the point we have enough interest (read: enough money) to pay musicians full time employment, I am determined the Music Director position of TwtrSymphony will never exceed that of any of the core musicians.

I don't want to get into quibbles over whether musicians in one city are worth as much or more than those in another city. I do think administration (and the boards that oversee them) need to look at who is getting paid what. If you have management that is making more than the musicians, why? Is their role really more important than the people on stage making the music.

TwtrSymphony believes the musicians come first.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

When it comes to making new music, what is a good investment?

What does it mean to invest yourself in music? What is a good investment?

If you had $100 and wanted to invest it, you could put it in a savings account and earn 0.5% interest. You would have access to your money, but it wouldn't earn much interest. If you put your $100 into a certificate of deposit account you might earn 2 to 2.5% but you'd have to leave it there for the long haul. While you might make more money, you have no access to it. You might find a scheme somewhere that would pay 5-6% interest on your money, but there is a much greater risk that you'll lose it all. At the riskiest schemes it would take you twelve years to make $100 on your initial investment. But this isn't an blog post about money.

If you wanted to earn $100 - in California minimum wage is $8/hr -- so it would take you 12.5 hours to make $100. Actually, it would take you a bit longer than that as you'd have taxes taken out. Let's say 15 hours. That's a lot quicker than twelve years! If you working as a lawyer, it might only take 15 minutes to make that kind of money, but you will have invested years of study to go through law school, then studying for the bar. You might have overhead costs of an office and staff. By the time it took you to make the $100 in 15 minutes, you would have already invested thousands of dollars and numerous years of your life.

What is a good investment for a musician to make in their career?

Outliers: The Story of Success by by Malcolm Gladwell suggests it takes about 10,000 hours of dedicated practice to truly master a skill -- playing the violin, computer programming, or skateboarding. He calls this the 10,000 hour rule. If you calculate that out it turns into roughly 3 hours a day (everyday) for 10 years. Most world class musicians will tell you they practice 5-8 hours a day, everyday without fail. Now, they are already world class, so chances are they reached the 10,000 hour mark a while ago. But to stay on top they continue to devote time and effort to maintain their skills.

Let's put this relationship to time (and effort) into musical terms. What is the difference between the original "Clair de lune" by Debussy and one of the many 'student' versions available? The first (obvious) answer is the number of notes. A student version of this wonderful piece has far fewer notes than the original, yet, even when a young student plays their version, the essence of the music is there. We can hear the melody and follow the structure of the piece. However, if Debussy had written the original as simple as these student versions would we likely thrill to it like we do when we hear the original, fully fleshed out with all the right notes in place? Are we as moved when we hear a student play the piece with the occasional wrong notes and halting rhythm as we do when we hear a professional pianist add nuances of expression? The answer to both of these questions is no. The beauty of "Clair de lune" is both in its simplicity and in its complexity. It is beautiful because the core elements are extremely simple, and yet, when all the nuances of the music are in place, the music soars.

Being a musician, a composer and a music director are like Debussy's music. It is important to maintain an awareness of the simplicity of playing music. when playing the trombone, hitting high notes with a solid tone without wavering has more to do with breath control than a world class instrument. Mastery of the simple art of breathing is core to being a good brass player, just a the simple mechanics of finger placement is critical to being a good violinist. Of course, that isn't all it takes to be a world class player, but it is important to remember the simple elements of making music. As a composer, regardless of what technique used to build a piece of music, a solid understanding in the instruments can do is critical. A violin can't play below the G below middle C without changing the tuning of the G string. While it is possible to write double stops (playing two notes at the same time), a violinist can't play both G and B (below middle C) as both of those notes are are the G string. A composer has to understand what he/she is trying to achieve and the role the musician/instrument plays in bringing their music to life.

As Music Director for TwtrSymphony, I often meet people who are amazed at how much time and effort it goes into recording a single track of music. They somehow think I wave a magic wand (or baton) and the music just appears. There are hours of work just getting the music to the musicians. Then, there is the time they spend learning the music to get a good recording. Each recording they do needs to be evaluated, added to the rest of the recording and put together to make a unified final product. There is a reason it takes roughly three months to create one track of music. Over the past year I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear we'd spent 3-4,000 hours doing what we've done. If we go back to the 10,000 hour rule, you might think we only need to continue this pace for another couple of years to achieve success.

Well, yes and no. Success for TwtrSymphony isn't as simple as the 10,000 hour rule. Yes, we need to put in the time and effort, but we also need to make sure what we're doing retains some basic principles: We are making new music for people who don't typically go to the concert hall - a new audience.

  • We have to make sure the music we record is music that can capture the imagination of people everywhere.
  • We have to make sure our processes of recording and mixing the music obtain a standard that allows the nuances of the music to be realized.
  • We have to ensure we spread the news about what we're doing to enough people that people who haven't heard about TwtrSymphony have the chance to come across our music.

What is a good investment when it comes to making new music?

Talk to me in ten years. If we have changed the say musicians collaboration over the internet, if we have brought to the forefront a dozen or so new composers who otherwise wouldn't have been heard, if more people all over the world are listening to new classical music, well then, yes, it will all be worth it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Women's Day: Quotes worth thinking about

"For the first time in history, children are growing up whose earliest sexual imprinting derives not from a living human being, or fantasies of their own; since the 1960s pornographic upsurge, the sexuality of children has begun to be shaped in response to cues that are no longer human. Nothing comparable has ever happened in the history of our species; it dislodges Freud. Today's children and young men and women have sexual identities that spiral around paper and celluloid phantoms: from Playboy to music videos to the blank females torsos in women's magazines, features obscured and eyes extinguished, they are being imprinted with a sexuality that is mass-produced, deliberately dehumanizing and inhuman."

— Naomi Wolf (The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women)

"Although the sexual sell, overt and subliminal, is at a fever pitch throughout all forms of the media, depictions of sex as an important and potentially profound human activity are notably absent. Couples in ads rarely look at each other. Men and women in music videos use each other. It is a cold and oddly passionless sex that surrounds us. A sense of joy is also absent; the people involved often look either hostile or bored. The real obscenity is the reduction of people to objects... Of course, all these sexual images aren't intended to sell our children or us on sex--they are intended to sell us on shopping. This is the intent of the marketers--but an unintended consequence is the effect these images have on real sexual desire and real lives. When sex is a commodity, there is always a better deal."

— Diane Levin & Jean Kilbourne

Thursday, March 7, 2013

TwtrSymphony is Breaking the Paradigm

by Eddie Louise

TwtrSymphony is breaking the paradigm of Classical Music as the art form that just IS - an always present rarely acknowledged facet of the cultural landscape. The symphony as an institution has its place, but new music is not the focus in that reality. TwtrSymphony believes in the power of music to inspire, to excite and to move people. We believe that there is a hunger for new orchestral music. We believe in the magic that is created when musicians devote themselves to the expression of the ideas and emotions which inhabit the music of our time.

Social media is the perfect medium for the exploration of a new musical world. One where new music is embraced and celebrated. Where audiences are acknowledged and encouraged. Where dialogue between musicians, composers and audience create the sparks of new ideas and ignite new passions. In order to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in this landscape, we need to learn to share our passion, to share of ourselves.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence is a perfect example of the type of sharing I am talking about. She has a direct and open quality that communicates well. She speaks with passion of her process and reacts honestly to questions about her work. Videos of her interviews go viral because the audience is drawn in – committed to her, excited by her honesty. But also, these things go viral because the more they are shared, the more people will want to share them. This is the true power of social media. One person says something interesting, gets re-tweeted by two or three of their friends, who in turn are re-tweeted in a ever expanding circle of influence. TwtrSymphony believes classical music can achieve the same kind of viral reach as any other music form; we just need to share the passion we feel with those around us.

When we share our passion for what we are doing, when we speak honestly of the challenges, when we invite commentary and interaction from our audience, we are practicing a form of inclusion that could only happen via social media and the unique process of our orchestra. By letting our beliefs, our passions and even our frustrations become part of the conversation we are enacting the human soul of the orchestra. We are breaking free of the institution. We are envisioning new music in a new way for a new audience.

Monday, March 4, 2013

TwtrSymphony is One Year Old - Thanks to the following people and organizations

There are SO many people who have helped us this first year.
Here is a short list of those who have made it all possible

TwtrSymphony Musicians
Alexis Del Palazzo, Nikki Warrington, Catherine Coulter-Young, Bobbi Blood, Macy McClain, Lish Lindsey, Jonathan Hunt, Ronnal Ford, Peter Cigleris, Michael Ormond, Scott Harris, Adam Lusk, Garrett McQueen, Stephanie Unverricht, Keri Degg, Rachael Forsyth, William Bard, Tracy Bass, Robert Perlick-Molinari, Aileen Douthwaite, Laurel Roseborrough, Jessica Mullen, Ettore Rivarola, Timothy Breckon, Jeff Freeman, Paul Emmett, Blaine Cunningham, Dave Hutchings, Steve Flory, Shana Norton, Erica Sipes, Craig Stratton, Manoela Wunder, Zane Merritt, Susanne Hehenberger, Anna Rose, Bonnie Gartley, Sarah Richardson, Christian Chinchilla, Elyssa Gilmar, Alison Wrenn, Janet Horvath, Natalie Spehar, Matt Erion, Alvaro Rosso, Stephen Kreuger, Jodi Bortz, Janet Bordeaux, Joss Campbell, Kim Hickey, Andrea Myers, Carla Rees, Anna Promo, Eero Saunamäki, Diljeet Bhachu, Bethani Godin, Miguel García Echeverri, Jeremy Moore, Enya and Cara Widdicombe, Andrew Roseborrough, Alexandra Honigsberg, Ruth Spargo, Glenn James, Michael Scheimer, Corinne Ramey, Siri Smedvig, Michael Hitchcock, Mark Carroll, Mikko Ivars, Melinda Gourlay, Emily Wright, Becky Reiley, Anthony Kershaw, Kyle Owen, Monika Durbin, David Vining, Enrique Reynolds, Marion Harrington, Stuart Estell, Lisa Bartholow, Celine Saout, Stephen P Brown, Michael Gillilan, Molly Hollingsworth, Olivia Ester, Rodolfo Lima, David James, Kirsten Eyerman, William L. Miller, Susannah Hunt, Antonio Lopezrios, Dave Oxley, Michael Golden, Brendan Ball, Jason Price, Marion Maldonado, Edwin Huizinga, Tammy Evans Yonce, Caitlin Rowley, Donna Gross Javel, Andy Lee, Sandra Mogensen, David Thorp, Caroline McCaskey, Christine B. Hansen, Ruth Spargo, Quinton Braswell, Isaac Brinberg, Robert Cody Foster, Scott Clements, Verena Wuesthoff, Thom Norman, Jim Pung

TwtrSymphony Engineers
Garry Boyle, Felipe Gonzalez, Angelina Faulkner

Symphonies and Orchestras
Who tweeted, supported and offered advice along the way
Regina Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Metropolitan Wind Symphony, Nashville Symphony, St Louis Symphony, Stow Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Jersey Symphony Orchestra, South Shore Symphony, Peoria Symphony Orchestra, Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra, Beaverton Symphony, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Wind Symphony, Bloomington Symphony, Brevard Symphony, Marin Symphony, Miami Symphony, Valley Symphony Orchestra, English Symphony Orchestra, Ars Flores Symphony, Quinte Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Camellia Symphony, Stockport Symphony, SLO Symphony, Adelaide Symphony, Canton Symphony, Cypress Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Britten Sinfonia

Please tweet "thank-you's" to these fine orchestras for their support of new music in a new way.
If you aren't following them, we recommend that too!