A few years ago while I was consulting for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, I proposed a memorial show to celebrate the music of Moacir Santos. Moacir who? The Brazilian composer had died a few months earlier. He had lived in LA for 40 years yet most people never knew who he was.
It’s doubtful that the show would have sold that many tickets, and Disney Hall is a big venue, with over 2000 seats. Read More →
In writing a recent blog, inspired by Gustavo Dudamel’s orchestral version of a popular Puerto Rican band’s hit song, I began to muse on the subject of music education: in Venezuela and the U.S..
There are a million kids enrolled in Venezuela’s music system, called El Sistema. Some of them, like Gustavo Dudamel, rise to the top. Then there was the at-risk kid, Edicson Ruiz, who got off Caracas’ dangerous streets and joined El Sistema. He learned the bass from scratch and won an audition for the Berlin Philharmonic. No small feat. Watching Dudamel conduct the huge Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra is truly inspiring. Classical music isn’t boring when played with that kind of energy and passion. And by kids no less, which makes it even better. And many of these kids were rescued from a life of crime and gang warfare. Sounds like a good idea for U.S. cities. Read More →
In writing a recent blog, inspired by Gustavo Dudamel’s orchestral version of a popular Puerto Rican band’s hit song, I began to muse on the subject of music education: in Venezuela and the U.S. What happened to it here in the U.S.? Why are the arts always the first to be cut during financial squeezes? Read More →
I recently received a couple of emails from an music aficionado friend with some links to a popular Puerto Rican group that had its hit song “Latinoamerica” (=Latin America) performed by an orchestra at the Latin Grammy Awards Ceremony. It’s not surprising the conductor was Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
It’s not surprising that “The Dude” would conduct a hit song with an orchestra….this was the Latin Grammies, after all. But I couldn’t imagine another conductor, say, Lukas Foss or Rafael Frubeck de Burgos, conducting this song.
The song, by the Puerto Rican group Calle 13, is listed as reggaeton, the new style ubiquitous in the Caribbean, but it’s actually more akin to nueva cancion, the movement in Latin America during the sixties that promulgated human rights and dignity, the same human elements that were being stripped away by dictators like Pinochet in Argentina and Somoza in Nicaragua.
Dudamel didn’t go to Juilliard or some classical conservatory to learn music. Read More →
Keith Jarrett has yet another solo album out, called Rio. As the title would suggest, it was recorded in Rio de Janeiro. On it we hear the now familiar musical mood swings: from angular vertical runs, acrid harmonies, to unbearably lovely encores. The audience once again goes wild at the end. It’s a two disc set, probably covering most of the concert that night in April, 2011. I wondered as I unpeeled the shrink wrap and label–with a tried and true technique Kurt Elling taught me—how the cariocas–as the residents of Rio de Janeiro are called–would greet a solo piano concert. Brazilian music is often very upbeat, but there is always saudade lurking in the background. As it turned out, Jarrett supplied both in the concert. I particularly love the three encores that close the second cd—the audience goes wild at the end, typical of Jarrett’s fans, although this was, I believe, his first concert in Brazil. He seemed to really be enjoying it. There’s even a photo of him smiling, while sipping a demitasse cup of espresso.
Of course as a solo Keith Jarrett sprung to fame with his Köln Concert of 1977, a record that sold preposterously well for a jazz album. Read More →
I love David Byrne and Barry White, and I love cars too. I have all my favorites. 1953 Packard Caribbean convertible. Henri Chapron Citroën DS 23 Pallas, 1956 Buick Roadmaster, Ferrari 365 GTB, Maserati 3500 GT…..all cars I can ill afford to own let alone properly maintain. When David Byrne once visited me at KCRW during a nightly show I briefly did, he ran in all agitated, saying he parked his car outside in a no-parking area. School was in and parking was always scarce. I told him I’d move his car. He told me “no, you won’t know how to drive this car!”. Read More →