Slow Listening Saturdays

My summer officially begins today, having wrapped up the UT Austin year last night at a fourth beautiful performance of La bohème. I am so proud of the work, commitment, and progress of our students, and will miss them until we are reunited in late August! But lots of work lies ahead. Stay tuned!

I’ve been thinking a lot about our relationship to classical, or “art” music, especially after the last few weeks’ media coverage of continued turbulence in our industry. This interview with Peter Gelb talks about “social rejection” of the art form. I will say it’s a little disingenuous to cite that as his house’s biggest problem when the budget there has increased from 210 million to 310 million a year in the past SEVEN years – but that’s not where I want to go with this. We are in a very different time than a few generations ago, when a large part of the audience and a large number of our biggest financial supporters were people with close ties to pre-war Europe. Opera had a different cultural significance for them. Now those people have been gone for at least a generation. Financial times are different the world over. And we in the US live in an era of disdain and doubt about the humanities in general, when education seems to be moving in the direction of learning trades only.

That’s a hard environment for the classical arts to thrive in. They’re expensive. And to fall in love with them takes an investment of time and concentration. two things that many moderns feel they have in short supply.

And so, “Slow Listening Saturdays” – that’s one small contribution I can make in my little corner of the world. I offer you something to slow down and listen to, just ten minutes or so. I realize I’ll mostly be preaching to the choir, so I ask you this – send this link on to someone you know who is not a regular supporter or listener of this kind of music. Add a personal note of some kind. There’s so much of our amazing art out there – let’s keep putting it in front of people, and doing so proactively and positively, not just as a retort to discussions about Andrew Lloyd Webber 😉

There’s no better place to start on a flawless, blue-skied Austin Saturday, than with the matchless Lorraine Hunt Lieberson and the aria “Dopo note” from Handel’s Ariodante. You can tell the person you send this link to that the aria is an expression of unadulterated joy. After a long, dark, hopeless period in the singer’s life, everything has worked out, and her heart explodes with joy. And coloratura! Listen to how the long tones in the violins and voice lead to intrepid octave leaps and daring fast passages, like a picture of the long wait for happiness.

Ten minutes. I guarantee you won’t regret slowing down for this.

Oh and there’s another Coffin in Egypt review posted here.

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