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Friday Miscellanea

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Friday Miscellanea

I honestly don't know whether to categorize this as "woo-woo newagism," scientism or actual fact, but here it goes anyway: Can music boost your immune system?
Noah Potvin, a professor of music therapy at Duquesne University, said classical music’s cultural associations include relaxation and refinement and a certain health image, and this is likely driving listeners to the genre.
“Think of any Lexus or Mercedes commercial with soaring classical melodies,” he said. “That sense of security and peace is attractive right now.”
Mr. Potvin is skeptical of some of the research linking music with the immune system, questioning whether it’s healthy to use music or any other tool to suppress anxiety.
“The research is superficial, though I don’t mean that in a pejorative way,” he said. “I think the information we have is valuable, but we need to go deeper.”
Music therapists use music to treat acute anxiety and stress, but Mr. Potvin said a more valuable use is exploring how music can help listeners work through anxiety and stress instead of simply covering over such sensations, which can be counterproductive. Using music for progressive muscle relaxation is a common technique at the moment, he said.
Listening to music is not a cure-all. It’s another example of the much-discussed “mind-body connection” that has so captured the public consciousness in recent years, which deals with how emotional and mental health have physical outcomes.
“I’m a skeptic by nature, so when I first heard of the mind-body connection I thought it was new-age woo-woo,” Dr. Levin said. “However, the more I learned about human physiology, and in particular neurophysiology and neurology, I became increasingly convinced that we actually underestimate how profound this connection is.”
The research is spotty and no conclusions possible yet, but why take the chance? Listen to some Prokofiev today!

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Here is a piece on how Canada's cultural institutions are trying to put their content online during the virus crisis: Going digital not easy for cultural institutions.
Forced to close by the coronavirus crisis, Canada’s museums and public art galleries quickly redirected visitors to their digital offerings: social-media feeds, 3-D gallery tours, videos of curators’ talks, online exhibitions and image banks of their collections. Virtual experiences beckon, yet the truth is that only a tiny fraction of Canada’s public collections can be seen online.
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These sad, distracted times: A SINGER IS KEEPING TRACK OF OPERA HOUSES THAT PAY UP, AND THOSE THAT DON’T.

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Germany seems to be doing well in the crisis. Not only are rates of infection low, but they are giving impressive support to their artists, even solo musicians.

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All musicians, dancers, theatre artists and other performers long for the return of the days of live audiences, but even when the lockdown ends, it seems unlikely that live streaming will vanish along with our N95 face masks. It’s a relatively inexpensive way for musicians to keep in touch with fans, and the intimate atmosphere has proven popular with many audiences.
If live streaming is here to stay, however, there are still some technical hurdles to be overcome. When it comes to live music streaming, and in particular, the capacity to play together real time over the internet, the technology could be said to be in a nascent state — still very much under construction.
One problem is latency, or the time lag for transmission:
Latency is essentially the amount of time it takes for the digitized audio of a performance to zap through the ethernet, and the actual live broadcast of that sound. Think of it as a lag time. Simply put, information takes a minimum of 5 microseconds per km to transmit over the internet. Along the way, that signal may also have to be rerouted or switched, and may travel over different types of networks that may impede the speed.
But a bigger problem that I have heard is balance: especially with a large group of musicians, achieving the right dynamic blend seems to be particularly hard.

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The Spectator has an article praising Mozart as a letter-writer: The marvel of Mozart’s letters.
It’s 1771, you’re in Milan, and your 14-year-old genius son has just premièred his new opera. How do you reward him? What would be a fun family excursion in an era before multiplexes or theme parks? Leopold Mozart knew just the ticket. ‘I saw four rascals hanged here on the Piazza del Duomo,’ wrote young Wolfgang back to his sister Maria Anna (‘Nannerl’), excitedly. ‘They hang them just as they do in Lyons.’ He was already something of a connoisseur of public executions. The Mozarts had spent four weeks in Lyons in 1766 and as the music historian Stanley Sadie points out, Leopold had clearly taken his son (ten) and daughter (15) along to a hanging ‘for a jolly treat one free afternoon’.
Mozart’s letters deliver many such jolts — reminders that, however directly we might feel that Mozart’s music speaks to us, he’s not a man of our time. But for every shock of difference, there’s a start of recognition. Composers’ letters can make frustrating reading. Beethoven’s are brusque, practical affairs; Brahms hides behind a humour as impenetrable as his beard. But with Mozart, you get the whole personality — candid, perceptive and irresistibly alive.
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Musicians worldwide have lost their income. The New York Times has the story of a young quartet: A String Quartet Is Crushed by the Coronavirus.
Since its formation in 2008, the Tesla Quartet has been showered with critical accolades, released two recordings, hired a manager and lined up a full schedule at major concert halls around the world.
Even so, life as a professional string quartet has been a hand-to-mouth existence. The four players, aged 34 to 38, have long relied on relatives, friends and concert presenters for temporary housing, while stashing their few possessions in a storage locker. Only during the past year did their advance bookings give them the confidence and means to rent their own apartments in New York.
And then, in early March, their delicate world fell apart. 
Then came a cascade of cancellations and postponements. Foreign travel was suspended. By late March, their performance calendar through June, which had been full, was bare.
Classical musicians are typically paid only after a performance is over, so the players suddenly confronted the prospect of no income for the foreseeable future. They doubted the few remaining summer festivals on their schedule would come through.
Read the whole thing.

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Let's start our envois with the Tesla Quartet playing Haydn in the 2016 Banff competition:


And here is the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, mentioned in the Spectator piece:




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