Composition was a practical skill in Naples in the sixteenth century. There were over 3000 Churches in need of music. And they needed lots of musicians and singers too. The conservatories pumped out a lot of music apprentices, organists, singers, instrumentalists. These conservatories and the churches they served made up a large portion of the economy, and the welfare system in Naples. Naple’s conservatory syllabus was adopted by conservatories all over Italy and Europe. The first conservatory in Naples was built in 1535, the Santa Maria di Loreto. Today the San Pietro a Majella is the main conservatory. Composers that studied there include Alessandro Scarlatti, Pergolesi, Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. The secrets to making the most prolofic composers lies in their daily exercises. More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
The Beo String quartet is in its second decade and remains in Pittsburgh because they recognize the city’s artistic and logistic values. With Artist Residencies in several states, they maintain a vigorous schedule of concerts, recording, video production, music publication and educational programs. But there is so much more: they are dedicated to expanding their audience by including styles found in rock and heavy metal concerts. Their album and movie Triggerland features heavy metal music for string quartet and drum and electric guitar. It was composed by Sean Neukom, violist in the quartet, brother to Jason, violinist in the group. Cellist Ryan Ash and violinist Andrew “Gio” Giordano make the other half of the ensemble. Their concept of a modern string quartet playing is well thought out, discussed in great detail and executed superbly. Both the album 131 and the movie Triggerland received high praise: 131 got five star reviews and was featured on the front page of Fanfare Magazine, and Triggerland got first prize in film festivals California and Canada. More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
Does Classical Music carry a note of elitism, maybe even a mystique? Or is classical music just a bit confusing? Classical music shouldn’t be for just some of our society: it is intended for the masses. Most of the time. But there are a few decades where classical music went a bit high brow and academic. Maybe some people think Classical Music is always trying to be snobbish. But lately Symphony Orchestras are trying to please the listeners, bring them in the halls, give them more palatable programs. Are composers doing the same? More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
Gershwin and Ellington came from different corners of the musical world. They both started their careers in New York: Gershwin started in Tin Pan Alley where songwriters and “songpluggers”, worked in department stores to sell instruments and songs. Ellington was drawn to the poolrooms and the ragtime pianists. Both a product of their times, and both famous in their lifetimes. Was there a friendship between them? Did they talk about collaboration? More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
Pythagoros was a polymath: He dabbled in so many subjects including the mathmatics behind the musical scale. Today’s scale is not that far off from what he proposed 2,500 years ago. His passion for harmony within the universe was a gift and a curse. At least he started things in the right direction. He just needed to let go of the notion that only rational numbers can work in the world. More in the Show Notes at accelerandocast.com
The key to holding listeners’ attention is to keep them wondering what the composer will do next. Whether its a film score, rock band or a classical music concert hall, audiences want to have experiences ranging from astonishment and surprise to awe and amazement. The twentieth century saw a wave of shock and disruption in many music formats. Today we explore the basic tools a composer uses for eliciting emotional responses from their listeners. More in the show notes at accelerandocast.com
In the twentieth century music moves toward avant-garde or experimental and controversial. John Milton Cage (1912-1992) was an American composer who embraced all of these. A pioneer in chance music, he used non-standard instruments including pianos altered by putting objects in the piano strings to make unique sounds. Cage studied with Henry Cowell and Arnold Schoenberg in the 30’s, two composers considered influential in the avant-garde era, but Cage would move the needle in another direction…East perhaps. In the 40’s Cage was influenced by the Zen Buddists. His music reflects southeast Asian philosophies and aestetics. He employed the I Ching as a compositional tool in his music. But Cage is best known for his piece called 4’33” where the sounds in the room are the composition.
More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
Acoustic Engineering in music venues has a few basic rules that architects rely on: the size, the shape and the materials on the reflective surfaces. So planning ahead is crucial, but even after the hall is finished, acousticians can sometimes tweak the room by modifying the surfaces and even the shape. A proscenium may or may not help the sound of opera singers or orchestras on stage and new halls are trending towards leaving out the proscenium in an attempt to remove the theatre’s Fourth Wall. The Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood has no proscenium or window as it includes the audience in the space. Opera Bastille in Paris attempts to erase the frame and draws the audience in with the plain arena shape that offers no balconies , no presedential boxes, and all the seats offer the same comfort and unfettered view of the stage and supertitles. Opera Bastille and Seiji Ozawa share the quality of a less formal atmosphere, a space for the people, not for dignitaries or crowns. More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
Putting words to music is a skill composers and songwriters address in their Operas, Cantatas, and anything that has a script. What is the process for these artists? Some start with the words, others like David Byrne prefer to start with the music but have switched the order depending on the project. Elton John and Bernie Taupin talked about their process in interviews just after “Your Song” became a hit. Sometimes changing the words even a little to fit the music is not an option, as Paula Kimper put Walt Whitman’s epic poem “Song of Myself’ to music. More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/
Concert pianist Nanette Kaplan Solomon has been including women composers in her programming and presenting lecture recitals on the works of women composers for thirty years. In this episode we talk about her recordings, composers she’s met, works she commissioned and her passionate dedication to the subject which has taken her to forums all around the world. We also talk about the lives of Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelsohn and Maria Mozart, three women who’s writing talents were kept in the shadows, getting a bit of attention in the wake of their male relatives. Clara, married to Robert, was well known for her concert performances, but Maria Mozart and Fanny Mendelssohn had less exposure, except for their connection to their siblings Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Felix Mendelssohn. Like most women before the twentieth century, their roles as wives in upper class society prevented them from performing in public or seeking to publish their compositions.
More in the show notes at https://accelerandocast.com/show_notes/