There was previous discussion of the WHRB (the Harvard radio station) orgies which are underway at the moment, but some specific ones, not mentioned then, might be pointed out:
Friday, May 26 5:00-10:00pm The Harold Shapero Orgy. Including the recording by David Kopp and me of the Four Hand Sonata–Shapero doesn’t especially like it–too cautious (he’s probably right). He would have preferred to have the old Columbia recording from the 50’sby him and Leo Smit reissued. It would have been nice if this orgy had included that, along with, for instance, the old Juilliard recording of the String Quartet, or the Bernstein recording of the Symphony, but you can’t have everything.
Sunday, May 28 4:00-7:00pm The Rudoph Kolisch and Kolisch Quartet Orgy. The Guide doesn’t give full details or exactly what’s included.
Monday, May 29 1:00-10:30pm The Gerard Grisey and Tristan Murail Orgy
Wednesday, May 30 5:00am-midnight The Britten/Pears Orgy
In a dicussion about composers listed on the back of a Boosey and Hawkes score owned by David Salvage, I conjectured that Howard Ferguson’s music, which I’d never heard any of, was a little like Gerald Finzi’s. The Gerald Finzi and Howard Ferguson Orgy on June 1 from 8:00am til 10:00pm seems to indicate that I was probably right, but will give ample opportunity to find out.
Also there’s The Joaquin Rodrigo Orgy on May 25 from 4:00 to 10:00 pm.
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A story from last week in my, as of today, soon-to-be nonexistent, theory class at Newton North High Schoolf: The class has about a dozen kids in it, mostly guitar players in rock bands. It’s a more or less straight ahead classical harmony course. Periodically, to liven things up and keep them a little uncertain of what might be going on, I play them some kind of music: so far this year Bulgarian Folk Music (field recordings from the Nonesuch Explorer Series), Bulagarian pop music from the 1930s (Yazoo Records), some 30s Irish-American bands–especially a tune called Leaving Tipperary(also Yazoo), and stuff from the Magic Flute. Last Thursday I played them the Babbitt Occasional Variations (on Tzadik TZ7088). They immediately perked up and wanted to know what it was and when it had been done. One of the kids, who kept on saying, “I can’t believe he did this in 1968,” said it reminded him of Prefuse73. When the case circulated, somebody wanted to hear the Composition for Guitar to see if a guitar piece sounded like that. The word that several of them used a number of times was cool.
The class meets on Thursday and Tuesday, so I hadn’t seen them since then until today. The first thing two or three of them asked was whether or not they could hear it again.
Conventional wisdom is that Babbitt’s music is, in additional to being terrible, user unfriendly, incomprehensible, and pretentiously academic. The product of somebody who had know interest in an audience or what an audience might like and was only doing whatever it was for other “composers.” I never have bought it, and I still don’t. A class a year or two ago also reacted positively to Occasional Variations. One of them said it sounded like music for a video game. That seemed to me apt, although I told them that surely it was more like a pinball machine (I later reviewed it and described it as sounding like music for a giant cosmic pinball machine, which seems to me to be an apt description of a certain amount of Milton’s music).
Maybe somebody will think that they were just trying to kiss up to the teacher (although I just stuck it on without any kind of introduction–so they weren’t cued as to what they “should” think), that anything beats doing figured basses, which is what we were doing then, that this is just a weird bunch of kids, or any one of a number of other things that try to deny that anybody any time anywhere could possibly like a piece by Babbitt. I prefer to think of it a proof that, like any good music, it communicates–even tickles.
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