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Friday Miscellanea, now more entertaining than ever!

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Friday Miscellanea, now more entertaining than ever!

The best response to a bear attack? Music teacher plays trombone to scare bear away from school

A British Columbia music teacher who saw a bear lurking outside the school where he works managed to drive the animal away by playing the trombone.

Tristan Clausen, a music teacher at St. John's Academy in Shawnigan Lake, said he was alerted to the presence of a bear sniffing around the wooden structure that houses the trash cans outside the school.

Clausen said another teacher attempted to scare the bear away by banging on a door.

"I thought: 'Well I can do better than that,' and reached for my trombone and went out,"

And if that didn't work, he had an accordion for backup!

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 And speaking of brass instruments, just because stories of young virtuosos are perennial in classical music doesn't mean they're not true: A Young Horn Player Could Become ‘a Real Legend’

SILBERSCHLAG WAS BORN into what he called a “very, very musical family.” That might be an understatement. There are well over a dozen professional musicians, and plenty of Juilliard School degrees, among his relatives. His grandfather was Sol Greitzer, a violist who played under Toscanini and held the principal seat at the New York Philharmonic for over a decade (appointed by Pierre Boulez). His parents met as members of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. And his older brother, Zachary Silberschlag, is the principal trumpet of the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra.

There are lots of reasons why musicians tend to come from families of musicians. Both nature (genetics) and nurture (culture and connections) are involved. The most striking case is that of Johann Christian Bach, Wilhelm Friedrich Bach and Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach who were, in different places and different ways, the most important composers of the generation immediately after Johann Sebastian Bach--and they were all sons of J. S. Bach!

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Tree Rings Shed Light on a Stradivarius Mystery.

The researchers compared their measurements from the Stradivari harp with other tree ring sequences measured from stringed instruments. Out of more than 600 records, one stood out for being astonishingly similar: a spruce soundboard from a cello made by Nicola Amati in 1679. “All the maximum and minimum values are coincident,” Dr. Bernabei said. “It’s like somebody split a trunk in two different parts.”

The same wood was indeed used to make the Stradivari harp and the Amati cello, Dr. Bernabei and his colleagues suggest. This was consistent with the two craftsmen sharing a workshop, with the elder Amati possibly mentoring the younger Stradivari, the team concluded.

I have been playing a very special guitar for many years now. It was built by Robert Holroyd in Vancouver in 1983. For the spruce soundboard he made a trip into the mountains of British Columbia and selected a particular high-altitude tree which he had sawn to his specifications. High-altitude trees have a particularly tight and even grain which is preferred for its acoustic properties.

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The crash landing of the 'McDermott moonshot' is an article about local musical politics.

McDermott and Pro Musica were already well acquainted. She had performed with the group many times, including a complete cycle of the Beethoven piano concertos in 2017. She accepted the Pro Musica artistic directorship after a multi-year courtship conducted primarily by O’Connor.

But the McDermott moonshot never escaped the gravitational pull of the group’s internal conflicts. In March, she told the Pro Musica board she would end the relationship before the first season she planned in full even began.

Her departure punctuates a tumultuous 10-month period in which Pro Musica not only lost a nationally known and highly qualified artistic director but also hired a new executive director without considering a critically important issue. It also fired its well-regarded director of artistic operations and administration and alienated its most generous donor.

Yes, it's a bit long and complicated, but it illustrates the perennial problems of management that seem to plague arts organizations. I suspect that the fundamental problems are related to a profound clash between aesthetic and economic values and with a lack of candour regarding them.

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How Did Early Music Get So ‘Crispy’?

“Crisp articulation.” “Crisp enunciation.” “Crisp rhythm.” These qualities are often evoked by today’s music critics in performances of music ranging from the Renaissance to the 19th century. This language has been picked up by some performers, too. Curiously, these traits are not noticeable in historical treatises.

The Newberry Consort gave “lively, crisply articulated performances” of Robert Morton’s “L’Homme armé” setting, according to a 2005 review by Allan Kozinn in The New York Times. His Times colleague James Oestreich, in 2016, noted that the conductor Matthew Hall, “who has honed his early-music credentials as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival, brought his own ideas of period style into play” with the Mozarteum Orchestra in a program of Mozart and Beethoven, “eliciting smooth yet crisply articulated playing at brisk tempos.”

Anyone familiar with Richard Taruskin's thoughts on the early music movement might have an idea: he speculated that the approach was entirely consistent with the modernist approach to everything: brisk and unsentimental as opposed to misty and romantic.

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Gilbert and Sullivan in the opera house? Where does this leave Verdi, Puccini and Wagner?

Now don’t get me wrong; I love Gilbert and Sullivan as much as I love “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” There is a little John Cleese in all of us.

But what has Canada’s self-described second largest opera company been doing this spring by producing “H.M.S. Pinafore”?

OK, so the Canadian Opera Company once produced — and produced very well — the Broadway musical “Kismet.” So why shouldn’t Vancouver Opera slum a little?

Slum? Well, snob that I am, I happen to believe that opera companies should be producing opera. And the reason? We in Canada are operatically underserved. Our so-called second largest company offers its patrons the grand total of three mainstage productions annually and this season, shockingly, so does our largest company.

So where does this leave Verdi, Puccini and Wagner? Out in the Canadian cold, that’s where.

I rather think that Canada doesn't care much for classical music--not if it costs anything.

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This is pretty much the most interesting thing I read this week: Advice to Musicians from Martin Heidegger

Heidegger would probably say that any technological orientation, at its very roots, has this tendency to dominate. That was always implied, even going back to the invention of the wheel, but it gets worse as the tech advances. The very people who pursue this path of progress, in hopes of liberation and personal growth, get dominated by the Frankenstein monster they create. First, you invent the wheel, and soon you’re caught behind the wheel of your car in the hellish daily commute.

The curse isn’t even the technologies themselves, Heidegger would have cautioned—no, not the robots and algorithms and machines—but the grasping, utilitarian attitude that views everything as mere grist for the mill, as content (oh, how the web bosses love that word) to be put to use.

The answer is in a song. Read the whole thing. 

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Let's start with a concerto we don't hear very often, the Concerto No. 1 for Horn by Richard Strauss. The soloist is Marie-Luise Neunecker.

 As an example of the crisp approach, here is John Eliot Gardiner's 1989 recording of the Matthew Passion by Bach. Just a bit too cheerful for some listeners.

And finally, one of the pieces that inspired the harmonic approach of the whole 19th century, the Unfinished Symphony by Franz Schubert:

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