In the Conservatory

Bernstein: 3. Sinfonie (Kaddisch) ∙ hr-Sinfonieorchester ∙ Tschechischer Philharmonischer Chor Brno, Limburger Domsingknaben

(There’s an update at the bottom of this article regarding Hong Kong, below the footnote).

Hola a todos. Here in the Conservatory, at least two of the students I know of are from Hong Kong. One is a piano major and the other is majoring in violin. Both play beautifully. In fact, they’ve given recitals together with the pianist accompanying the violinist. I talk with them whenever I see them about the pro-democracy movement protests in Hong Kong which they’re closely following — a topic that doesn’t raise my blood pressure1 — where thousands-millions of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Hong Kong quite vigilantly over the weeks protesting. These well-organised protests are going into their third month. The protests began over the China Extradition Bill, which the Carrie Lam regime has refused to legally end. She’s the Chief Executive of Hong Kong. Isn’t she a piece of work? I know what I’d like to tell her, the same thing I’d like to tell the current White House occupant. They had a General Strike in Hong Kong shutting down the Financial District. That was very effective. Can you imagine a General Strike in the non-United States? Not. About. To. Happen. No way. The public here in the non-United States is too lame, uninformed, brain-dead, partisan-brainwashed, and status-quo. And anything that inconveniences their self-absorbed and self-entitled lives in the slightest they oppose. The protesters in Hong Kong don’t mess around. They shut down the Metro during the work week. Hong Kong has a huge Metro/subway system consisting of 91 stations. If one of the Metro systems were shut down here in the non-United States, the status-quo US public would be whinging/hating on the protesters, saying “I missed my train.” Oh, what a shame that self-entitled and self-absorbed you missed your train. As of this writing, the public continue their support of the pro-democracy protesters, especially after heavy-handed tactics used on the demonstrators by the Hong Kong Police Department. The demonstrators have protested at Hong Kong International Airport causing the cancellation of hundreds of international flights, and protested in the Financial District. Most recently as of this writing, the Barristers (Attorneys) in Hong Kong in large numbers came out of their offices and had a silent protest at the Department of Justice in solidarity with the pro-democracy protesters. It was excellent to see that. Meanwhile, Chief Executive Carrie Lam, refuses to resign or to meet any of the five demands of the protesters and is now belittling them in the most smug and patronising style spewing lies about them. I should think that the Barristers are offended by her most recent words since Lam was essentially slamming them as well. Carrie Lam essentially called them all enemies of the State without specifically using those words, saying the protesters were out to “destroy Hong Kong.” What Rubbish! I think she’s trying to compete with the current White House occupant in the Department of Lies and Bullying. Look up “useless politicians” in the dictionary and a picture of both politicians will be there.

There are many things — including despicable immigration raids where children are being taken from their parents — that the people in masses in the non-United States could be protesting against, including the current White House occupant(s). But, this is not Hong Kong. By vigilant Hong Kong standards, the people in the US don’t know what protests are. Unlike in the US where protesters ask The Establishment for permission to do a protest — if you have to ask permission, it’s not a protest but rather a state-sanctioned charade! — the protesters in HK don’t ask any permission. They just do it. So one should not expect that here in the pathetically lame and phone-addicted non-United States.

The Hong Kong demonstrators have been extremely creative and ingenious in their methods. Many of them are multi-lingual in Cantonese, British English and other international languages. Cantonese is the language spoken in HK as opposed to Mandarin on the mainland. These demonstrators want nothing to do with the mainland of China. Although they do use the same Chinese alphabet which one sees in their protest signs along with some English. These protesters make many of the people I see who live around me look and sound downright stupid. Partying is all that most US people seem to be into.

(A brief aside: Mi amigo/My friend was out today — it’s Sábado/Saturday — and he said it was very crowded out. He said that 90% of the people he saw were frozen in place like a statue and desperately looking at the phone in their hand. A couple of people were even texting so frantically as if it were their very last text in life.)

I see some phones in HK among the protesters (who are mostly young), but they use their phones as part of their protests and to make contact with each other. Then they put them away. Walking through the streets of HK, most are looking up and around, not down at some device in their hand. One protester yesterday was using her phone as sort of a sign or billboard welcoming visitors coming into the airport to HK. She was holding her phone which had huge fonts on the screen as part of her sign. She wasn’t hunched over it like a statue. At least from what I’ve seen, I don’t see the addiction to phones in HK nearly to the degree that I do in San Francisco where the phone seems to be most people’s entire life. Pathetic.

The protesters are most organised, even down to their chants in the airport where they sound like a rehearsed Chorus chanting in unison. And as of this writing, the pro-democracy protesters are launching another 3-day rally in Hong Kong at the HK International Airport to greet international visitors to The City and handing out leaflets to them, and they will be having another march through the City. (Related: Hong Kong Protesters).

I mention all of the above, in part, because I was talking with the piano major I mentioned earlier who is from Hong Kong, and she was telling me how she read one of my previous articles where I specifically mentioned this piece by Lenny Bernstein (his Sinfonie No. 3, Kaddisch) and she finds it most appropriate for these days. Yes it is, I do so agree.

Also, this week, the Conservatory Symphony Orchestra and 150-voice Symphony Chorus announced their performance schedule for the coming year. One of the pieces I noticed that they’ve programmed is Bernstein’s Sinfonie No. 3 (Kaddisch), with the Trebles of the Choir of Men and Boys from the local Anglican Cathedral assisting. It should be a splendid performance.

As I said, I mentioned this Bernstein piece recently in an article as one example of the combination of Classical Music and politics in this article from my conversations with some students in the Conservatory, and I thought I’d talk more about it.

It’s quite a piece in many ways. Even though the narration — written by Lenny Bernstein — was written decades ago, you wouldn’t know it. It could have easily been written in recent years or even recent weeks considering the current dire political climate in the non-United States and around el mundo/the world. Bernstein wrote his choral symphony, Symphony No. 3 (Kaddisch) in 1960 and then revised it a bit in 1973.

So where does one begin with this piece in describing it? Well, it’s a symphonic choral work for Orchestra, Chorus, Trebles, soprano soloist and a narrator. If you’re expecting to hear something resembling Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms (if you’re familiar with that), you won’t. It’s not like any Bernstein I’ve heard. It’s not like any Bernstein we performed when I was in major Orchestra Choruses. It’s a very difficult piece for both the Orchestra and Chorus. And it looks difficult to conduct. The conductor’s score — published by Editions Boosey & Hawkes I believe — is quite large (it’s a tall score) judging by the score on the conductor’s music stand in this performance from Frankfurt with lots of parts to read/scan quickly down the page.

Below is a performance from 2014 by my favourite Orchestra, the outstandingly superb hr-Sinfonieorchester (Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra)

Also assisting in this performance is:

Tschechischer Philharmonischer Chor Brno (The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno). Brno is a City in the Czech Republic.
Also assisting:
Limburger Domsingknaben – The singing boys of Limburg Cathedral, or as I refer to them: The Trebles of Georgsdom/Limburg Cathedral (German Catholic, High Church, from Hesse Germany)
The Narrator: Samuel Pisar
The Soprano soloist: Pavla Vykopalová
Eliahu Inbal, conducting

The choral forces in this performance are superb. They sing with perfect intonation in all voice parts.

I noticed how intently the trebles were watching their scores throughout. They were very involved. There were no distracted boys here. Some of the boys on the front row seemed fascinated by the percussionist who was near them and to their left. Perhaps one or more of them was thinking, “I’d like to do what he’s doing; I’d like to be a percussionist one day.” Yes, that is indeed how children are inspired to go into music as a career. And these boys at their young age already know how to read advanced music scores — being the choristers at Limburg Cathedral; and I read that they sing for the High Mass — so they are way ahead of things musically-speaking for their age.

I liked the soprano soloist’s dress. It was very pretty and I enjoyed her voice when she sang in her lower register and quietly. It was lovely. But then at other times — and what is so common with soprano soloists — she resorted to what essentially was screaming, overpowering everyone on the stage. Why so loud? Even if the score says fff, it should be in balance with the other performers. When the composer wrote fff, I doubt that he meant “to be heard in the next room over” or “to be heard in the next city over” in some cases. The score doesn’t say to overpower everyone on stage. What happened to blending one’s voice with others on stage and still being tastefully heard as a solo vocalist? It’s a common problem I’ve written much about with soprano soloists, in particular. Tenor vocal soloists have a similar problem. Apparently no one ever makes these soloists aware of this problem because vocal soloists seem to be seen as sacrosanct, probably because they are hired from artist management and receiving a generous salary for their performance and are therefore seen as “experts.” And one is not supposed to question or second-guess an alleged “expert.” Good Heavens no! Wouldn’t dream of it! Therefore, it would seem that they are “off limits” from any objective criticism. It’s really a shame that some sopranos seem unable to control their voice. It speaks to their training, and I would suggest that they need additional training to work on fully controlling their voice, just as the finest choristers are required to fully control their voice at all times. Why should vocal soloists be any different?

A bit of history which you might find interesting regarding this piece:

There was a superb performance of this piece conducted by Lenny Bernstein back in 1981 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in the District of Columbia shortly after I moved to San Francisco from the District. Reading about that performance and having sung with two of the major Orchestra Choruses in the District, I was curious which Chorus they invited for that performance. Did they invite the Choral Arts Society of Washington or the University of Maryland Chorus or the Oratorio Society of Washington? That performance was by the National Symphony Orchestra and Norman Scribner’s Choral Arts Society of Washington — their performance was described as “impeccable” in the review I read — with the trebles (boy choristers) of Washington National Cathedral (Anglican Communion) in Upper NW who were also joined by the trebles from St Mary’s Boychoir (they are from St Mary’s County in Maryland). Mezzo-soprano Claudine Carlson was vocal soloist and the narrator was Michael Wager. I had suspected that the Chorus for the NSO performance was the Choral Arts Society of Washington (CASW) since Norman and Lenny were amigos.

I read that during the performance in the Kennedy Center, Bernstein became very emotional while conducting his composition. He said he saw the ghost of the late president John K Kennedy float across the façade of the Filene Center Organ Pipes above the Chorus and that triggered a very emotional response from him. Is this a true story or did someone make this up? The reason I ask is that his composition doesn’t use the organ, and at that time — before the Concert Hall’s renovation — in the Kennedy Center, the organ pipes were not exposed if the programme didn’t include a piece that used the organ. They were covered by a wall that opened and closed like drapes if the organ was being used for the performance. If the organ was not being used for the performance, concertgoers did not see the organ pipes in other words. Therefore, how did Lenny possibly see a ghost float across the organ pipes? Was there another piece on the programme that used the organ? If so, the wall would be open exposing the pipes. That could be the case, but his piece is not scored for organ. I don’t know what other pieces were on that programme.

Bernstein wrote the narrative text himself and had some concerns about how outspoken (or “aggressive” his word) it was, but apparently left it as it was. I’m glad he did.

A bit more history: The Norman Scribner Choir was also the choral ensemble that performed for the opening of the John F Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts ten years before (1971) in the premiere of Bernstein’s Mass. They later became the Choral Arts Society of Washington.

A little bit about The Norman Scribner Choir, that I found interesting (and I think I have this correct): Norman Scribner had recently graduated from Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. He moved to the District of Columbia and began establishing himself as an accomplished musician in the District. He was involved with the music at Washington National Cathedral, and became Organist-Choirmaster at St Albans Parish (also Anglican Communion) which is next door to the Cathedral.

By now (in 1965), members of the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) were familiar with Norman Scribner and they asked him to audition choristers to form a choral ensemble to perform Händel’s Messiah with the NSO. He agreed and that choral ensemble was known as The Norman Scribner Choir. Well, the choristers and audience were so enthusiastic with that performance that The Norman Scribner Choir decided to stay together. They did so for at least 6 years after that. Then, sometime after performing Bernstein’s Mass for the opening of the Kennedy Center as The Norman Scribner Choir, Norman changed the name of his choral ensemble to the Choral Arts Society of Washington (CASW) which exists today. They are one of the major Orchestra Choruses in the District performing in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The main three Orchestra Choruses in the District these days (as of Summer 2019) are: The Choral Arts Society of Washington, The Washington Chorus and the all-student University of Maryland Concert Choir. They replaced the renowned University of Maryland Chorus when the University of Maryland’s School of Music at College Park “retired”/liquidated the UMD Chorus saying they had served their purpose.

Although as I’ve pointed out in other articles, the performance of symphonic choral works by the NSO per season has reached rock bottom levels, compared to the days when I was a chorister in the CASW. From what I saw on the NSO’s 2019-20 season, the CASW has only one engagement with the NSO (three consecutive nights) of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. Norman died awhile back after he had retired from the CASW and their new Chorus Director, Scott Tucker, had taken over with Norman’s approval.

I think it depends upon the Chorus Director, but a sense of sadness must come over some/many Chorus Directors who retire and see another Chorus Director replace him or her especially someone like Norman who started the Chorus and prepared them for performances with major symphony orchestra over decades. Whereas, I sense that some other esteemed Chorus Directors — I have one in mind but I’m not going to give the person’s name — are ready to retire and leave with some resentment for orchestral management and they leave before their replacement has been named. But also, I think some Chorus Director get tired of preparing the Chorus for another conductor and often get little to no credit for all their hard work, because the musically-ignorant public think that the conductor of the performance prepared the Chorus and was entirely responsible for their (hopefully) stellar performance. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. The orchestral conductor does not prepare the Chorus. The only exception to that was Robert Shaw who had both the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the ASO Chorus. In fact, the conductor has little contact with the Chorus until the dress rehearsal on stage usually. In some cases, the orchestral conductor has little contact with the Chorus Director and will make some slight changes to how the Chorus has been prepared by the Chorus Director. That happened with the Choral Arts Society of Washington when we worked with Lorin Maazel of the Cleveland Orchestra. They didn’t tour with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus so the Choral Arts Society of Washington replaced them for their Kennedy Center performances. Maazel was difficult to work with even though we were superbly prepared by Norman. As I remember, it was a matter of interpretation differences, and I came away with the impression that Maazel and Norman had not been in contact, which sometimes is the case. In some EU performances I’ve watched, the Chorus Director was never brought out on stage to have his Chorus stand for their bows. He was never acknowledged. But that’s the way that works. In all the performances I was a chorister in both in the Kennedy Center and Davies Symphony Hall, the Chorus Director (Scribner, Traver and Vance George) always came out to be acknowledged and have his Chorus be acknowledged, as it should be. And the University of Maryland Chorus was the only Chorus that actually bowed, which was always impressive to see and “wowed” the audience.

The US premiere of Bernstein’s Symphony No. 3 was by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New England Conservatory Chorus (Lorna Cooke de Varon, Chorus Director) and conducted by Charles Munch. I don’t know which trebles they used for that performance.

As I said earlier, Lenny and Norman Scribner were close friends. Both he and Lenny were anti-war and Lenny conducted a performance of Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli/Mass in Time of War, Mass No. 10[1] in C, (H. XXII:9) up at a packed Washington National Cathedral one freezing January night. The same night, the superb University of Maryland Chorus was performing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for Nixon’s inauguration concert. Although that event almost didn’t happen because some of the choristers of the UMD Chorus refused to go on stage because they didn’t want to perform in the presence of Richard Nixon. UMD Chorus Director, Dr Paul Traver (he was wonderful; and he’s one of my choral mentors!), was sympathetic to the Choristers anti-war beliefs, but he said the performance was about Beethoven and not Nixon. The performance went on, and I suspect their review read: “The University of Maryland Chorus was glorious throughout” since that’s what was said about them when they performed the Missa on other occasions.

Muchas gracias to hr-Sinfonieorchester and the choral forces for performing this work so superbly, and for having the courage to perform it. Because of its political message, I do indeed think that some orchestras would be afraid to programme it in that it might offend some of the delicate conservative audience, that would especially be the case in the US Midwest, I should think. But from what I could tell from the musicians’ faces, most seemed appreciative that they were having the opportunity to perform this piece. From my experience in Orchestra Choruses on both US coasts, the musicians would welcome the opportunity to perform this. It’s the conservatives in the audience who would likely have a problem with it, even to the point of walking out during the performance. Although I saw no signs of that in the Frankfurt audience. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Related:

University of Maryland Chorus (A Tribute)

University of Maryland Concert Choir performs at Carnegie Hall with NSO

What happened to the renowned University of Maryland Chorus?

BSO and the University of Maryland Concert Choir perform Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op.45

—————–
1 I was talking with mi amigo/my friend on why writing or talking about the HK protests does not make my blood pressure rise. I said: Well it doesn’t seem to affect me because the protesters/demonstrators are so intelligent and so organised in HK and creative (such as their laser light show the other night). There’s nothing to get frustrated with them, unlike here in the non-United States. There also doesn’t appear to be any partisan brainwashing like the US is thoroughly brainwashed with. Mi amigo said: The politics in the US are completely septic. From what I’ve seen of the HK protests, they would never allow protesters to take over the airport in a major city in the US. They’d never allow that at SFO (San Francisco International Airport). They’d call in the military to deal with the protesters. They’d never let the protesters shut down BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) or the Muni Metro (San Francisco’s Metro/subway system), which is separate from BART. And most people on the Metro and in today’s San Francisco would likely start complaining about the protesters and how the protesters are “inconveniencing me,” rather than side with them. That’s the mentality here today in the US. It’s a very different culture there in HK, unlike the fascist US where none of what we’ve seen in HK would be allowed here for any length of time. The Occupy Movement learned that rather quickly. They were similar to HK, but they were destroyed by and had their skulls cracked by “Mr Hope and Change We Can Believe In,” the Obama regime. And it’s only going to get worse in the US under the current fascist regime and white supremacist White House occupant.

Update 16 August 2019: Not a good sign. Around the same time that he said he wanted to buy Greenland (for his own personal financial interests) — and Danmark said Greenland is not for sale! — the current White House occupant has been sticking his nose in the Hong Kong situation recently. China has essentially told him to mind his own business. Every day he’s sticking his nose in somebody’s business with endless sanctions, bullying and the usual that comes from this dysfunctional septic despot. The only interests he would have in Hong Kong is for his own financial gain as in real estate purchases, more Tr*mp Towers or golf courses. My concern is what one of the protesters said on camera: He said something to the effect that he was hoping that the pro-democracy movement in HK could get help from the current White House occupant — BAD IDEA, especially considering he’s not for democracy — even to the point of him visiting HK and speaking to the demonstrators. Loco./Crazy. Bad idea. I have questioned a few times why I’ve seen a couple of US flags in the demonstrations, and on today’s coverage the US flag was even more prominent. What is with that? I read on another site — not at the link below — that this movement in HK is really CIA-funded and US-backed. If that’s the case, no good will come out of this. The thing is, the non-United States has no interest in democracy in its own country. So why would they care about democracy in HK? Only for their financial gain. What the non-United States calls “democracy” is just marketing language for exploiting other people around the world for their national resources, et al. so that corrupt US politicians from both political cults (D and R) can increase their personal and financial gain. Unfortunately, some people never learn from history.

Then there was a counter-rally in HK in support of Beijing. One of those protesters said on camera “Why should we have democracy? They don’t have democracy in Beijing and their economy is really good. (To him it was all about $$$$$$$; another stupid Millennial).” To him, democracy is a bad thing. Yet he wouldn’t be allowed to express his views openly in Beijing as he just did in Hong Kong, would he? Did he not consider that? Another protesters said that “everybody knows that the US is behind the pro-democracy movement here in HK.” Perhaps they think that, but do they not know that the US couldn’t care less about democracy anywhere? The US uses the word “democracy” the same way they use the word “freedom” and other empty rhetoric. It’s just meaningless marketing language for US Imperialism and World Domination and for the stealing of other nation’s natural resources. To bully and police other nations and the world on a daily basis. Sticking their arrogant nose in everybody’s business. Anything that will benefit the financial interests of the US. That’s the bottom line. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Related: Hong Kong Free Press: US Flag Appeared at recent Hong Kong Demonstrations

Conservatory students concerned about US civil war, US mass shootings.

Hola a todos. It might come as a surprise to some that music students have political views. Yes, despite their very busy schedules in a Conservatory, some do try to keep up with what’s going on in the world, as least to some degree. Politics and music have gone hand-in-hand with many composers and performers. There are too many pieces to name where music and politics are intertwined, directly connected. But we wouldn’t have pieces such as Haydn’s Missa in tempore belli/Mass in Time of War, Mass No. 10[1] in C, (H. XXII:9) also known as the Paukenmesse if music and politics were not interconnected within composers. Music scholars have long thought the piece to be of an anti-war nature. Nor would we have Lenny Bernstein’s choral symphony, Symphony No. 3 “Kaddisch”. If you aren’t familiar with the piece, the text is most politically appropriate for these days even though the text was written back in 1963 and he made some revisions to it in 1973. Nor would we have Benjamin Britten’s The War Requiem, Op. 66 to name three major works off the top of my head, if musicians had taken a denial approach that politics and music have nothing to do with each other and should not be mixed, giving the impression that musicians are void of political views. But that’s not realistic. The conservative Classical Music snots often like to live in denial and divorce any politics from music. They are easily offended by this, failing to understand that one is not getting a true story, a genuine picture of the music of the day they’re listening to and what was going on en el mundo/in the world or around them at that time.

I walked into the Conservatory yesterday afternoon (el 4 de agosto de 2019/4 August 2019) and a group of students were out in the hallway talking quietly among themselves, taking a brief break from their practise time. They were huddled talking about the two most recent mass shootings here in the non-United States. I listened to what they were saying. They spoke of their increasing concern about a civil war here in the nation which is brewing, with an increasing number of mass shootings. The mass shootings have become a common septic symptom of US culture, so common that they’re often not even reported online in the US media. The thinking seems to be: “Oh it’s just another shooting. Why report that? They’re nearly an every day occurrence.” One has to go to international media to see any coverage about them. When there are two mass shootings back-to-back that stirs more attention in the non-United States. Then out comes the perfunctory, expected and predictable talk of “thoughts and prayers” from septic career politicians. Shove your “thoughts and prayers.” Several of the Conservatory students mentioned the current White House occupant, whom they clearly despise, and find him directly responsible, which of course he is due to the political climate of hate he has set as well as the basura around him.

The Conservatory students saw me walk in — we all know each other and they read my site — and they asked me what I was thinking about all this. I said: Oh that’s okay, I don’t need to give my opinion. This is connected with politics and I avoid that topic because it raises my blood pressure to an unhealthy level. They said: Well can you give us something short, that should be all right, it doesn’t have to be long. So since they insisted, the following pretty much sums of what I told the group. At the end, they said: You should post that on your site; you made some excellent points. (Gracias to them). I agreed to post it for others to read, so here it is, as best as I remember what I said:

I started out by saying that I had read what the current White House occupant had said after the El Paso TX shooting and I wanted to speak to this glib cliché that I constantly hear from (conservative) politicians. Any act of violence that politicians are not responsible for themselves they call, “an act of cowardice.” I heard former British Prime Minister Theresa May repeatedly speak those words (“an act of cowardice”) as well as French President Emmanuel Macron following various so-called “terrrrrrrist” attacks. I think May and Macron got this language from the current White House occupant. The current White House occupant mindlessly repeats the same pabulum as does all other basura politicians by calling the mass shooting “an act of cowardice.” That’s complete rubbish, just like the person who made the comment. The fact is: It takes a lot of courage to plan and go out and shoot and kill 20 people in El Paso Texas. Then another person killed 9 people in Dayton OH within 24 hours of the first shooting spree, as two examples of mass shootings. There’s nothing “cowardice” about that at all. The true coward is sitting en la casa blanca/in the White House living in his usual Denial as an enabler and accomplice of the National Rifle Association (NRA). The true coward hid behind bullet-proof glass on the Mall in the District of Columbia the evening of 4 July 2019 as he was rattling on about “freedom.” Bullet-proof glass and “freedom” don’t go together. They are a glaring contradiction. If we truly had “freedom” and any other fake-patriotism and fake-nationalism that he was rattling on about, he wouldn’t have insisted that he speak behind bullet-proof glass. What’s “Mr Freedom” afraid of? I guess his insipid speech writers didn’t think that through. If only these political basura possessed any critical thinking skills whatsoever to think things through before they speak, they wouldn’t make such stupid remarks about these heinous mass shooting events, some of which are caused by their own rabid white supremacist supporters. Let’s tell it like it is: If one really insists on talking about cowards and cowardice, one should look inward at the most delicate, fragile, narcissistic, cowardice personality and approach that said politician takes to stringent gun control in the non-United States. That’s the coward right there. Such political basura has one’s head in the upper colon of the NRA.

The current White House occupant said: “Hate has no place in our country?” Since when? You’re the role model for hate.

The current White House occupant is incapable of shame or even human feelings. He’s a cold, empty, self-entitled and self-absorbed angry vessel with an occasional forced-fake smile. One wonders went he underwent a lobotomy. There’s nothing he doesn’t think he’s an expert on. He’s one big hypocrite. A disgrace to the office he’s currently residing in. He deserves no respect and has earned no respect whatsoever. And he, with his dysfunctional personality, wants a fight with the entire world. He is a corporate parasite of the very swamp he claimed he wanted to drain, and has only added to said swamp. His most recent example of hypocrisy is that following these two mass shootings, he said that, “Hate has no place in our country, and we will take care of it.” What does that pabulum mean? More empty words. Just like “Thoughts and Prayers.” More hypocrisy! This man-child spews hate on a daily basis — especially at his cult rallies — to feed his white supremacist cultist base, giving them his signature “white power” hand gesture whenever he speaks.

One should expect more of this. I do. And one should expect the current White House occupant to receive a second term some way or the other — and like everything else he does it won’t come legally and yet nothing will be done about it; he’s above the law despite what they say to the contrary — with the help of Democratic Party enablers, including Nancy “he’s not worth it” Pelosi and others. From what I’ve read, it’s all about Pelosi’s “majority” in the House, that’s all that woman is concerned about. In reality, it’s a “majority” that serves as enablers for the White House occupant. In fact, they were his strongest enablers on the recent war budget that passed in the House, and later in the Senate with the enabling of the Democrats as well — including the Democratic Party presidential candidates who didn’t bother to show up to vote on this critical bill (Senators Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker did not vote; they were too busy running for another job and not doing their job as senators) — giving the Pentagon a record $738 Billion USD for fiscal year 2020.

The Conservatory students said they were glad that I had picked up on the “an act of cowardice” cliché as they had similar thoughts about that. They gave me a nice applause after I spoke. That was a first for me. I wonder what my blood pressure reading was at that point? But muchas gracias to them. Chau.—el barrio rosa

UPDATE: The White House occupant “addressed the nation” on the two most recent shootings (TX and OH). Aren’t we fortunate to hear his words of wisdom? [sarcasm intended]. I changed the channel on my television when he showed up just as I did when Obama appeared. I later read what the current White House occupant said. Most of it was drivel, basura, as expected. One thing I noticed: He’s playing word games to his cultist base to pacify the NRA. He said it’s the “trigger” and not the gun that caused the shooting deaths in TX and OH. Does he not know that the trigger is on the gun? He can’t bring his useless self to say anything negative about guns, so he stoops to the level of reducing things to the trigger rather than guns. As he came out to speak, the second-in-line White House occupant followed him and took the position — as he always does — of trying to look intimidating or like The Hulk with this chest stuck out (in that menacing black suit), arms straight down but not in a resting position the way “normal” human beings usually stand who are not trying to puff themselves up and look threatening or like Mr Tough Guy — and he stood there with his usual lobotomised, “nobody is home” emotionless facial expression. For anyone who is concerned about The Hulk replacing the current White House resident upon his impeachment (impeachment is not going to happen because Nancy Pelosi thinks she personally owns the US Constitution), I would like to remind people that The Hulk is already in power. He’s the most visible second-in-line guy I’ve seen. He frequently appears either with the current White House occupant or alone. He’s already running things. It’s as if we have two people in one position. Chau.—el barrio rosa

UPDATE: So the White House occupant is going to El Paso on 7 August 2019. Why? For camera time, for photo-ops, for attention to feed his narcissistic personality. The fact is: He couldn’t care less about any of the people who were killed or injured or their families or amigos. He didn’t know any of these people, and even if he did he has no ability to show sympathy or empathy. It’s always all about him and I can predict that he will make this visit all about him. There is no need for any politician — especially this one — to go “visit” the town or city where a mass shooting takes place. If any contact needs to be made, he can pick up the phone and or e-mail the mayor of the locality. But that doesn’t give this political basura camera time to show more “white power” hand gestures, therefore, waste more fuel going down to Texas to feed his enormous ego and create more problems and insult even more people while he’s down there. He’s blanco basura (slang form). Chau.—el barrio rosa

She comes out half-naked. What if a guy did the same?

Using female soft porn to try to sell and save the dying Classical Music tradition with its greying audience, and apparently many females today don’t mind being seen as a sex object.

Hola a todos. You might be wondering, “Who’s that cocktail pianist sitting at the Steinway & Sons grand piano below in that skimpy green dress?”

https://proxy.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic.businessinsider.com%2Fimage%2F4f83511f69bedd0e45000074-250.jpg&f=1

Well, she’s not a cocktail pianist and I suspect she would resent being called that, although one might get the impression that’s what she is. What she’s wearing is her performance attire for when she plays the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 in b flat minor, Op. 23, for example. You might be asking: She wears that when she performs with a major symphony orchestra? Yes, she does indeed. That dress looks a bit constricting to perform in, especially something like a demanding piano concerto. As a pianist, I prefer roomier clothes for performing in. Although considering there’s very little dress there, there would seem to be little chance of her getting over-heated, unless her name is Rose. Rose gets over-heated. But no, this pianist’s name is not Rose. This female is a concert artist in the Classical Music field, and apparently she and or her concert management think it’s a good idea to use soft porn to try to market her as a sex object in an attempt to save the slowly dying Classical Music field and her related performances. It would also appear that the now-dead feminist movement had little to no bearing on the Classical Music field’s sexist traditions. This is a type of sexist marketing gimmick and apparently any controversy over her — meaning the sexed-up/sex object way she’s dressed for a performance — is seen as a positive thing by her artist management because the bottom line is that it gives her attention, or that’s the impression one gets. My guess is that this gimmick is coming from artist management in collaboration with the artist.

This “sex her up” marketing gimmick doesn’t seem to be drawing in the crowds since many orchestras especially in the non-United States are programming anything but time-honoured classical repertoire as audiences decline. They’re programming a lot of “fluff” stuff instead for the sheeple. I wrote about that in this article: We’re Down to The Big Three. In the case of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), one wonders how much longer they will be around. BSO management cancelled the Orchestra’s 2019 Summer Season.

You know why this is happening, don’t you? In part, it’s happening because there’s little to no music and arts programmes in the US public schools any more for students to be exposed to Classical Music. To give a more complete picture of the state of things one needs to look at funding: Most recently as of this writing, the “Democrats” and Republicans in the US Congress are pouring a record amount of dinero/money into the bottomless pit known as the Pentagon, at the request of Mr Non-Interventionist Interventionist (the current White House occupant). Yes, the so-called “Democrats” in the House of Representatives in the US Congress the week of 21 July 2019 voted in the majority — including White House-enabler Nancy Pelosi and fake-progressive Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — to give the current White House occupant his requested $1.74 TRILLION dollars budget, most of that for the US Military Industrial Complex Killing Machine. Also, half of what’s known as “The (Progressive) Squad” — which consists of four non-White females that the White House occupant has trolled-bullied in recent weeks — in the House of Representatives voted for this obscene bill. So it has become apparent that two members of “The Squad” are fake-progressives. I was suspect of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from the beginning especially after she started snuggling up with the White House occupant’s main enabler, Nancy “He’s not worth impeachment” Pelosi. Then, in 2020, after he gets back in one way or the other for a second term, Nancy “he’s not worth it” Pelosi will say, “As I said during his first term, there will be no impeachment hearings. I own the US Constitution. The voters — who vote on a corrupt system — have now spoken and they want him to have a second term, and perhaps more. (Several times he’s talked about not leaving after a second term). And to be quite honest, I look forward to working with him for another four years-plus. He’s really quite a nice guy. We get along splendidly although I try not to show that on camera so that my gullible and partisan-brainwashed voters in San Francisco will continue to vote for me in lockstep of around 78% of the vote each ‘election’ cycle based on my name-recognition.” These “Democratic” corporatist basura in the House of Representatives couldn’t find it within themselves to put $1-2 billion into music education in the US public schools? Good heaven’s no! Wouldn’t dream of! The non-United States is not that type of nation. Then, when that budget bill reached the Senate, the “Democrats” led the passage of the budget in the Senate that includes a record $738 billion for the military. The budget was an agreement between White House enabler-Pelosi and the current White House occupant, reflecting so-called bipartisan support for the US Empire War Machine. It’s interesting most hypocritical that the current White House occupant campaigned on being a non-interventionist, yet every day he’s intervening, bullying, intervening, policing, intervening, and sticking his nose in someone else’s business around the planet. Senate Democrats gave far more support to the White House occupant’s and Pelosi’s budget than Republicans, voting for it by 38-5, with four absent. Why were they absent? Republicans divided much more closely, 30 in favour of and 23 against, and one absent. Republicans were not opposed to the record spending on the military but objected to the level of spending for domestic social programmes and the overall deficit. If the “Democrats” had voted against the budget by any large margin, the budget would have been defeated. In reality, the “Democrats” are the current White House occupant’s biggest enablers.

Also, there really should be a law that’s adhered to that says that any Senator or Representative must be present for all votes in the Senate or House, respectively. When they’re out campaigning for another job/office they’re not doing their job as a Senator or Representative. Why did Kamala Harris and Cory Booker, as two examples, run for the Senate when obviously neither really didn’t want to be senators since they are both relatively new to their 6-year term in the Senate, and are already running for another office? At least Harris and Booker have legal training and a law degree (Juris Doctorate) as opposed to Dianne Feinstein who comes with no legal training and with her Bachelor of Arts degree in a completely unrelated field. Nancy Pelosi also has no legal training and no law degree. Her Bachelor of Arts is in Political Science. Related: Representatives and Senators in the US Congress should have law degrees. How can one be called a “lawmaker” and be making laws for a nation without a law degree or any legal training? Making laws with a Bachelor of Arts degree. That’s insane. In any other job that I can think of, the person has to come with some background or training — highest educational background — in that area of specialty that they’re applying for. But with these “lawmakers” there’s no requirements other than an age requirement and being a US citizen. What pathetically lame requirements. The same for the White House occupant. Any piece of wealthy trash can run for that office, and they have!; see the current state of affairs. No wonder we’re in such a dismal situation with these basura running things. There should be a law that is adhered to that a senator has to complete one six-year term before openly gallivanting around running for another office. So, of the seven “Democratic” senators running for president in 2020, four of them did not bother to show up to vote on the budget bill I mentioned earlier, including Bernie Sanders, who said during one of the “Democratic” Party so-called debates that he would vote against the record military budget. That was a lie because he didn’t even show up to cast his vote on that. He was out campaigning, not doing his job in the Senate. Neither did Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. Three “Democratic” presidential candidates did return to the US Capital building on Capital Hill in the District of Columbia to vote. One of them, Kirsten Gillibrand, voted for the war budget. Does she pretend to be a “progressive?” Michael Bennet and Amy Klobuchar voted against it. Again, clearly, the “Democrats” are the current White House occupant’s biggest enablers.

I should point out that genuine progressives do not vote for war, death and killing funding or for funding for concentration camps at la frontera/the border between los Estados Unidos y México/between the United States and México.

But this lack of music education in US public schools and lack of funding at the US federal level — as I pointed out in the paragraph above — is also why the Classical Music field has such a lack of diversity within because when people of all ethnic backgrounds are not exposed to something, they can’t possibly acquire an interest in it or cultivate some hidden talents they have. For example, Baltimore’s majority population is Black. Yet the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has only ONE Black musician. As I’ve written before: If most people spent as much time practising a musical instrument that they really like and enjoy as they do wasting their life away “practising” their phone (the world’s #1 distraction devise), we’d have a remarkably different society. (Related: Diversity critical to survival of classical music field).

Related image

But back to this concert attire I was talking about, which is mainly the topic of this article. As for the pianist sitting over here on the right wearing — what little there is of — a white dress, give the thing a glance and tell me she isn’t revved up for sex? Boobs stuck out as far as possible. With her back firmly arched where she has to hold on to the piano bench with her right hand, can she stick her chest out any more? The woman seems to be absolutely obsessed with her chest. What is she aiming for with those protruded breasts? Is she trying to push her breasts into the next room? Imagine if a male pianist was sitting there without a shirt on with his chest stuck out? But we’re not likely to see that are we? No.

We were having a conversation the other day in the Conservatory about this topic, this double standard, this hypocrisy regarding the sexism involved in concert performance attire for female soloists (vocal and instrumental) in Classical Music performances.

I asked some of the students: Have you noticed that most female soloists come out on stage with bare shoulders, bare arms, deep cleavage and bare breasts showing (except for the ever-feared and forbidden nipple that humans aren’t supposed to see according to the prudes)? These females make sure that most of their upper body is naked or exposed. Why? Why are females so obsessed with their upper body? At this point, I guess we need a nudity ban for the Concert Hall stage, no?

What is with this bare upper body thing that many females have?

Related image

Yet if a guy did the same thing, he would probably be jeered off the stage and told he was under-dressed inappropriately and told to go home and change appropriately in a conservative suit or tux. This is such a double-standard.

And is the non-diverse “greying audience” (as it’s known) really into soft porn when they’re there for a performance? Not that I can tell. The “greying audience” is generally more conservative, I think. (Although I do see a bit more diversity in the audience in Frankfurt; quite a few Asians enjoy the superb hr-Sinfonieorchester – Frankfurt Radio Symphony).

But my sense is that the “greying audience” would not necessarily appreciate this half-naked cheap marketing gimmick and would see it for what it is and ask: “Who is she trying to bait here being up there on the stage half-naked and boobs nearly fully exposed and the entire back missing from her dress? What’s wrong with her? Is she here for sex or for a musical performance?” Perhaps both.

One does wonders, at this rate of willing sexual exploitation of an artist, will some female artist — perhaps one or more of the females pictured on this page — be offering a strip-tease show, pole dancing and oral sex between the movements of a concerto in the future? Well, if it sells tickets I suppose we can expect that too, no? But again, I don’t see audiences drawn to this gimmick, other than some young males (based on their U-toob comments) and those guys wouldn’t be there in the Concert Hall in the first place. Or, for an exorbitantly priced concert ticket (and seats are limited!), these females willing to be exploited might offer a “A Special Night” (oooooooh, steamy, that’s hot!) after the performance for those who want to go to the Green Room for “An Erotic Night With the Artist” along with the current White House occupant as he repeatedly forces himself onto her with kisses and repeated puzzy grabbing. He will also announce which person or group in the world will be the subject of his juvenile taunting, bullying and intervening for the day.” The additional promotion for this event in the Green Room will likely read: “You’ll see it all as she sits and lies in various provocative positions on top of a grand piano. Order now because seats are limited!” This could likely be the graphic for the promotion:

I found this. It’s presumably a promotion for a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15

Image result for Khatia Buniatishvili

 

Now that’s tacky. No one should be sitting on or sprawled-out on a piano. There doesn’t seem to be any standards now. That’s what happens when one plays to the lowest common denominator.

This soft porn scheme doesn’t seem to be attracting young people to the audience based on the audiences I see in performances. The thing is: Young people can see reams and reams of “pretty girls” on their phones without having to pay for an expensive concert ticket just to go hear a piano concerto that they have absolutely no interest in just to see one “pretty girl play the piano” half-naked.

Nudity is not the topic. The double-standard is: the inequality between the genders in performance attire.

To be clear, I have no problem with nudity and seeing the human body. We were all born nude. I opposed San Francisco’s City-Wide Nudity Ban — and I strongly supported the few (it was about 4 at any given time) naked guys who walked around San Francisco’s Castro occasionally at that time, in part, because The Castro had a long history of nudity on occasion — when that ban was needlessly installed by a disgusting conservative gay political opportunistic prude who moved here from New Jersey to appeal to his conservative San Francisco base, including what had become the conservative so-called “gay community.” I watched in disgust as many conservative queers bullied, made fun of and hated on the naked guys.

And nudity and seeing the human body is not the point of this article.

The point of this article is to talk about the sexism and male chauvinism in the Classical Music field.

There is such a glaring double-standard when it comes to concert attire and other duplicitous traditions of the field for that matter. I’ve previously written about many of them. This hypocrisy is often promoted by the group I refer to as the Classical Music Snots, who so often ruin Classical Music for a lot of people. They are most often conservative prudes and self-appointed know-it-all authorities, wannabe musicians, and nit-picking armchair critics. I can’t stand them, the basura.

I saw a performance recently featuring a Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (the Chorus was superb) and trebles (boy choristers). The soprano soloist was barely wearing anything over her chest other than to cover up her nipples, and the trebles who were part of this performance were sitting up above her in the tiers. I looked at the trebles as she was on the stage and not a one of them were looking at her. In other words, the trebles/boys were not phased by seeing what was essentially a naked female. Yet the prudes among us in San Francisco and elsewhere — any other time — would have screamed “WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!!!!” She can’t be on stage like that. Cover her up. Children are not supposed to be exposed to nudity.”

Bottom Line: Children are being used as the excuse for immature adults who have a problem with nudity and seeing the human body, perhaps even their own. Many of these people would likely say that their Christian deity created the human body. Really? So you’re saying that “he” created something “bad” and “off-putting” and that human eyes should not see? I suspect these basura have never thought about that. Critical thinking skills are not their strong point. The same people have no problem with “the children” seeing any violent programming on television or anywhere else that comes along. Violence seems to be perfectly acceptable to these conservative trash. Violence is good for children to see, but seeing the human body/two nipples that their “lord and saviour” allegedly created is not good. That’s the thinking of the conservative prudes. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? [sarcasm intended].

In reality, it’s not the children who have a problem with nudity, not that they even noticed, which again, none of the boys did in that performance I watched. It’s the adult children — the adult prudes — the children in adult bodies who have never matured to adulthood regardless of their chronological age and who have body image issues, and have a problem with seeing the human body.

I couldn’t help but think about this topic when I saw this performance from the EU. And yes I know that some Europeans take a more mature approach to nudity than the puritanical, prudish and ultra-conservative non-United States. But there are some prudes in the EU. I’m well aware of that. One example: They whinge about the urinals on the streets in Paris that guys use. Well, some of the guys likely have BPH and need to urinate frequently which these urinals help them with. Good. But the female prudes scream (who often become prudes the moment they become a parent), “But that urinal is at the eye level of my child.” So? Your child has never seen a penis before perra, including his own penis? Well, s/he will definitely be in for a shock one day at this rate with you as a parent. Some people really should not be parents because they lack the maturity to be a good parent, often merely passing along bad generational prudish and outdated conservative parenting methods, the way they were parented. I’ve also seen many people become absolute prudes the moment they became a parent, forgetting their own past.

Apparently some orchestras are not prepared for these sexed-up performances because I’ve seen some covert disapproving looks among musicians when the half-naked female artists come on stage as if the orchestral musicians were asking, “WTF is she wearing?” when the artist arrives at the piano or near the podium? “That’s what she wears for a performance or does she have some hot date afterwards?”

I’ve watched countless performances where the female soloist(s) comes out half naked in some low-cut or extremely low-cut gown, or the top half essentially gone. She almost looks like a mermaid in that particular style of dress she’s wearing as the lower half is this tight fabric that wraps around her and cleans the stage floor as she walks. Why doesn’t she order a bit shorter gown or is the intent to have the gown drag on the stage as she shuffles in that tight get-up from the stage door to her chair and back? You’ve probably seen the “look” I’m talking about. This is not the image I had in mind, I can’t find that particular gown for some reason, but this will do for now as an example right here.

These females come out wearing barely anything at all that covers her top half (along as no nipples are showing because we all know how dreadful it is to see a human being’s nipples, don’t we? And no one has ever seen a human nipple before, correct?). She’s struts out or shuffles out showing deep cleavage and is “sexed-up.” I think that’s the intent of this silly phenomenon.

In piano concerto performances where the female piano artist wears a get-up like the female pictured above, the comments under the video performance usually lead to the juvenile male commenters — with their high school jock mentality who never matured — to write such comments as, “I’d like to do her” and “look at those boobs, look at those legs” and other comments of that nature. As well as the occasional, “Will you marry me?” where a male commenter is presuming the sexual orientation of the female pianist whom he knows absolutely nothing about. No comment is made about her performance of course. Such sexual comments are never written about male classical performers.

Then the male soloists come out on stage all covered up like a monk from head to toe. Can you imagine the looks that a male soloist would get if he came out wearing an upscale tank top or something barely covering his chest like these females do? Or a dress shirt unbuttoned so that he looks “sexed up?” Even if his “off-putting” nipples were not showing! Gasp! No, the male performers must be covered up so that not any “skin” is showing other than his face and hands, and possibly his neck.

Male performers are really at a disadvantage here because they’re not allowed to be half naked and “sexed up.” But clearly females are allowed to look like floozies and like “Ladies of the Night” and that’s perfectly acceptable, it seems.

And then some of the female artists do an outdated, subservient sexist curtsy to the audience rather than bow the way all the other performers do. I think females who curtsy to the audience do so thinking that it will generate more applause for them. “Well if my performance doesn’t get much applause or as much as I think it should, maybe my subservient curtsy will!” Could someone remind me what the feminist movement accomplished when it was active?

The burning question here is: Why is a male’s chest so off-putting to people, or the male body in general for that matter? A female’s chest is apparently appealing just because her breasts protrude out and a guy’s breasts don’t. That makes a difference to people? Yes is the answer to that question. Well, it’s how our society has been brainwashed with body image issues. That’s what it amounts to.

I’m not the first person to notice this “sexed up” gimmick. Here’s an article about this fad written back in 2017 by Aliette de Laleu. She is a journalist on the radio station France Musique. Her article appears on the ClassicFM website. ClassicFM is in the UK:

Should female musicians be allowed to dress how they want?

A conductor has noticed how many females are dressing for performances. (How could they not notice?) Unfortunately, in Aliette de Laleu’s article, she makes no comparison to the fact that guys are not allowed to dress “half naked” or however they want.

From her article:

“Aliette argues that while opera stars and performers wear brightly coloured clothing to bring drama to their performance, orchestral musicians and instrumentalists are restricted to dark colours and ‘non-distracting’ clothes.”

Ms de Laleu also said in her article that if you don’t like seeing the female pianist — half naked — to “close your eyes.” I would like to point out to her that one does not pay a lot of money for a concert ticket to a performance to sit there with one’s eyes closed, understood? One might as well be sitting at home listening to a CD if you’re going to be sitting in a Concert Hall with your eyes closed. What a dense thing to say. What is wrong with the woman?! It’s fine if she wants to stoop to the level of defending this cheap marketing gimmick, but please engage at least the most basic of critical thinking skills rather than make some glib “close your eyes” remark.

And I don’t find it “distracting” per se. That’s not the word I would use. I’m not into looking at half-naked females playing a piano concerto or serving as a vocal soloist-screamer showing mammary glands, if a guy cannot wear a tank top or no shirt all, which is what it amounts to. Why can’t a guy show his mammary glands? After all, what is equal for females should be equal for guys and vice versa.

For those who might say from a position of willful-ignorance, “Oh come now, guys don’t have mammary glands.” FYI: “All male and female mammals have mammary glands, which is the organ that produces milk. When mammary glands mature fully in females during puberty, they develop into a state where a hormonal spike — most notably of prolactin — can easily induce lactation. For males, the gland generally doesn’t mature to that level.

Here’s an example of the forbidden male body (flute soloist below) all covered up in ubiquitous and drab black and grey. Yet the “sexed-up” piano accompanist can look like she’s already for bed, or something:

Image result for Khatia Buniatishvili

Tuxes — which fortunately the flautist pictured above is not wearing — are so “last year,” stuffy and hot. And predictable. So tiresome. Now if it were a hot guy (meaning my type) wearing a tank top or an open and pretty dress shirt or less, and cargo shorts or even a Speedo, I’ll be glad to watch him play the same concerto. I’d prefer he be dressed like that. Casually in other words. But of course we’re not likely to see that EVER. And again, I’m not sure who came up with this new half-naked fad, whether it was the artist or the artist management. I can sort of suspect that it was the desperate artist management who said to the artist: “You know, you’ll sell a lot more tickets and be much more controversial if you dress as we’re suggesting: Half naked. So sex-up your performance. You might want to consider having a boob job as well. Why don’t you consider enlarging your breasts to fit a bra size of a Triple Z? Think about it.”

Oh that’s another thing: I’ve noticed when a small group picture of musicians is taken with arms around each other, that the guy standing next to a nearly-naked female doesn’t seem to know where to put his hand or arm on her. It’s as if his brain tells him, “Don’t touch her bare skin on her arm or chest with your hand. That could give her a wrong message. Put your arm down near her waist where some fabric is, what little there is.”

Or take that female in that black 2-strap thing in the video I’ve linked to above from ClassicFM. Is she excessively warm sitting there in that studio? Is that why she’s wearing this low-cut black thing showing bare shoulders and chest? Again, what is it with females that they feel it’s all about their chest and boobs that they must constantly show, that they can legally get by with showing without getting arrested for nudity? I don’t quite understand some female’s obsession and fixation with their chest and arms. Their upper body in other words.

Image result for Khatia Buniatishvili

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of this writing, I’ve been unable to find that wrap-around evening gown I was talking about earlier. I don’t know what it’s called, but nothing comes up with anyone wearing it. It must not be that popular although I’ve seen women wear it in performances. They almost look like a mermaid, but that’s not the name of it apparently.

Fortunately, I’ve not seen any female conductors wearing these get-ups. They don’t try to “sex up” their conducting performances by “showing skin.” They allow their musicianship to be the selling criteria. But with these half-naked females, it’s as if they’re saying, “Well, if I can’t wow them with my performance, maybe I’ll wow them by showing as much skin as legally allowed, without getting arrested for ‘indecency.’”

Then you have Ms Boobs here as the guys are performing covered up from head to toe in conservative stuffy tuxes:

Image result for Khatia Buniatishvili

I think I would feel a bit self-conscious wearing something like that for a performance. I’m hesitant to wear anything colourful in San Francisco today because of the nasty, disapproving looks I get because I’m not conforming by wearing black and grey like everyone else here, the sheeple. Mi amigo/My friend tells me the same. He wears tie-dye on occasion and he said you wouldn’t believe the stares and glares he gets of disapproval when he wears any colour. San Francisco is such a different (and conservative) City now than the Old City that we were known for around the world. When he wears black and grey, he gets no stares. So I can’t imagine what it would feel like to wear a dress like she’s wearing for a performance with boobs fully exposed. I think I would have trouble keeping my mind on my performance. But apparently she and her boobs adore the attention. I guess she does a deep bow at the end of her performance so that those in the Orchestra seating can get a good view, since they paid a higher ticket cost. Hopefully her boobs don’t fall out, although upon reflection, when a female puts that much work into them, one would think that she does hope they fall out, no? She might say: “These things help me sell tickets.” To which I would ask: Really? Why is that, when people can see them for free online? Or do you allow concert-goers to touch them when they greet you after the performance as they’re talking with you but staring down at your boobs?

And again — this cannot be overstated — I wouldn’t have any problem with this if the guys were allowed the same freedom to dress as they want. But the reality is that they’re not. The guys are supposed to look very drab and conservative.

And before someone says, “All those guys in the Orchestra must be distracted by her boobs. It must turn them on while they’re trying to play their instruments.” No, No, No. Please! Stop it! Stop your ignorance! One should make no assumptions about the sexual orientation of the orchestral musicians. Do not make the usual heteronormative mistake and assume that all musicians are straight/heterosexual just because you may be. They’re not. So no, the queer/gay male musicians in the Orchestra would have no interest in this woman’s boobs or anything else about her other than her music, and there are many gay musicians in orchestras and throughout The Arts in general. I feel the need to say this because I get so tired of people making baseless heteronormative comments and baseless assumptions about people’s sexuality when they know absolutely nothing about them. I won’t have it!

Or take this example.  If she can come out looking like this:Related image

Then why can’t a guy dress like this guy immediately below?  At least his forbidden mammary glands are completely covered. Yes, you have to watch those mammary glands because our prudish society has a terrible time with mammary glands. But again, they will tell you that their god created them. Hmmmmm. So, what they’re saying is that your god created something bad that one should not look at? I guess they’ve never thought of that.

http://www.internationaljock.com/v3/prld.xlg?partno=51602&width=498&view=img1

If females are allowed to wear the skimpy get-ups they wear, why can’t a guy wear this?:

Leo Torso Toner Tank 035000 - Free Shipping at Freshpair.com

Or this:

Aliexpress.com : Buy Men Tank Tops Men Vest Stringer Singlet Bodybuilding Clothing Fitness ...

Or even this version:

Style 725 - Men's Y-Back Stringer Tank Top. Original Men's Y back tank tops made for ...

Or maybe this:

Image result for Rufskin style SL5796

This example below implies that the requirement for female pianists is this top-naked look, although that dress sort of looks like a white wedding dress at the bottom, doesn’t it?:

Top 50 Best Classical Piano Music Vol.2 - YouTube

I do not know what it is about boobs and classical music. That escapes me.

I’m well aware that in the pop music culture in the non-United States that they use anything — no matter how tacky and dumbed-down it is — to “sell” the “product” (meaning the female singer) to the audience. And I think the male performers in the pop music culture have to be all covered up just like they are in the Classical Music field. I was noticing that when I was watching Univisión and Telemundo. I even commented on how the Latino artists used to perform in unbuttoned shirts showing their chests. But that changed. The last time I checked the Latino singers had every button on their shirt buttoned up to their chin, looking very conservative compared to the past. So seeing what I’ve described in this article about the Classical Music field is not at all new to the pop music culture. Again, it would appear that the Classical Music field is adopting similar marketing gimmicks to try to “save Classical Music.” Good luck with that! I just don’t see that working because the Classical Music audience is a completely different audience than that of the pop music culture which is mostly young and high-pitched screaming “teeny boppers.” Apparently no one has considered that we’re talking about two very different audiences. The pop music culture audience is nothing like the Classical Music audience from what I’ve observed from both.

So add this article’s content to the long list of the hypocrisies and double-standards in the (sexist) Classical Music tradition.

I just wanted to point out this double-standard, hypocrisy and to also point out that sexism is still very much with us in the Classical Music field. And in today’s draconian political climate, many things are going backwards — including the increasing return of the sexist language “mankind” instead of “humankind,” the latter which has been used since at least the late 1970s up until recently — so I expect little to nothing to change in a genuinely progressive sense in the Classical Music field because of this.

Here are some other images I found to give you an idea of what I’m talking about:

Ms Violinist. She loves her chest.

These four female string players love their chest.

This concert pianist loves her chest and legs.

These four female string musicians can’t get enough of their chests.

This female cellist can’t get enough of her bare arms, bare shoulders and chest. And she looks like she’s wearing drapery material to cover up her lower half.

https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/pianist-khatia-buniatishvili-attends-the-gala-evening-of-the-council-picture-id896333544

I guess this female concert pianist over here on the right is interested in having people talk to her boobs rather than to her directly. I guess people are supposed to greet her with, “Halo, nice rack.” I mean, she’s gone out of her way to deliberately “present” her boobs to us for a reason, so she obviously wants people to gawk at them or stare at them while talking with her. What is with females and their absolute obsession, fixation and addiction over their breasts? I don’t understand this. Can you imagine if a male concert pianist showed up similarly with just black pants on and no shirt? Or a shirt on but unbuttoned to show his chest? Or a shiek/stylish tank top? There is such inequality between the genders in this regard.

This extreme obsession that many females have with their upper body is to a point where one might suggest they need some intensive psychotherapy frankly to see what is really going on in their head in this regard.

Or, are all of these bare-chest females trying to cater to people’s sexist view of women as a sex object? If so, they’re doing a splendid job of that and it would seem that we’ve accomplished little in the way of eradicating sexism, especially in the Classical Music field.

And based on the Male Patriarchy behaviour — him-tall-dominant, her-short-submissive (from what I’ve read about this it’s mostly her head trip) where he looks like he’s making out with his little daughter having to lean way over and down just to get to her lips — that I see from Millennial breeder couples in San Francisco and anywhere else I look for that matter, I can safely say that, yes, we have accomplished very little in this regard as a society. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Related:

Will straight soft porn save classical music?

We’re down to The Big Three

Here’s an update on the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (TFC)

Hola a todos. Yes, we’re down to The Big Three in lockstep. I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like this phenomenon or fad in the classical music world, with the exception being some years ago nearly all local pianists in San Francisco like a bunch of sheeple were locked into this fad of playing an entire programme of Chopin or some pieces by Frédéric on their programme. When I performed, I chose Sergei Rachmaninov’s Études-Tableaux instead which are rarely played by comparison and which the audience seemed to enjoy — how could you not?! — they’re such lovely pieces and quite difficult to play depending upon which one you’re playing. Well of course it’s difficult, it’s Rachmaninov! Did he write anything that’s “easy?” Not that I can think of. I think his Prelude in c♯ minor, Op. 3, No. 2 — which he came to hate because audiences requested he play it wherever he went — and which I “learned” in High School is considered more on the “easy” side, compared to his other piano works. But when that’s played well and the way it should be played with polish and refinement, it’s not “easy.” And as I’ve said before, after a regular diet of Rachmaninov (and or Scriabin), pretty much anything feels “easy” by comparison, and I’m too often bored by “easy.” I like more challenging pieces. And the pianist should make them (Rachmaninov’s Études-Tableaux) look effortless to play. I don’t know that I did that, hopefully I did. Someone else would have to tell me that. But the Rachmaninov was also such a change from the Frédéric Chopin rut. But I have noticed this symphonic choral phenomenon of The Big Three for some time. Chorus Director, Robert Shafer, in the District of Columbia (the capital City of the US and my former home City) confirmed it in an interview I read awhile back. Well he should know. Robert Shafer is the former Chorus Director of The Washington Chorus (TWC), one of the Orchestra Choruses in the District that performs in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with the National Symphony Orchestra on occasion by invitation. TWC used to be called the Oratorio Society of Washington. Robert was also Artist-in-Residence at Shenandoah Conservatory of Shenandoah University, where he is now Professor Emeritus. Since 2007, he’s been Artistic Director of the City Choir of Washington. In the interview, he said we’re now down to three symphonic choral works that the public will support.

The Big Three are (you can probably guess the first one):

Händel’s Messiah
Yes, but of course. No surprise here. Me$$iah — US dollar signs intended because I think it’s a money-maker, and probably the only reason they do it every single year. Me$$iah is performed every holiday season on cue like clockwork. It’s rare that a choral ensemble or Orchestra Chorus programmes anything but that. One would get the strong impression that Händel only wrote one oratorio.

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in d, (Choral), Op. 125
This is performed at the end of each season of the Tanglewood Music Festival, as an example. Conductor Marin Alsop said the Ninth is the most popular piece in the classical music repertoire. Well I know it’s up there, but I would have thought that the overplayed Johann Pachelbel Canon in D or the overplayed Ludwig Beethoven’s Bagatelle No. 25 in a minor (WoO 59, Bia 515) which the sheeple know as “Für Elise,” — but musicologists think the correct title should be “Für Therese” — are more popular. Maybe Marin was referring specifically to orchestral music.

And then there’s:

Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana
Everyone seems to be doing this as well.

That’s it. Rather pathetic isn’t it? I don’t mean that those pieces are pathetic but that we’re down to only those three pieces that the dumbed-down US sheeple will support. No attention span for anything other than those pieces that are familiar to them?

So, most Orchestra Choruses only need three vocal scores now to get through each season, and since they only have three works to (re)-prepare for the season, the Chorus can be available at-the-ready, if they’re not in a deep sleep from having little to nothing to rehearse during the season.

Unfortunately, it’s a sign of the times. With few exceptions, mostly gone are performances of oratorios — again other than ubiquitous and often perfunctory Händel’s Messiah — Bach cantatas and other time-honoured major symphonic choral works.

All I can say is that I just feel very fortunate that I came along during a time where I was able to be a chorister in major Orchestra Choruses where there was an abundance of symphonic choral works being performed, unlike today. Today is a very different time.

I’m going to go through some of the major orchestras and their choral ensembles in the non-United States of the hemisphere called America (or the Americas) and list what (little) they’re doing for the 2019-20 season.

Opera at The Symphony?

Along with a lot of fluff programming to try to bring in the dumbed-down sheeple, I’ve noticed that most major symphony orchestras in the US are also programming some opera repertoire for some odd reason, including “semi-staged.” Why are they doing opera? Are they trying to compete with the local opera company? That programming time could be better given to the increasingly-neglected symphonic choral works that I’m talking about. If people don’t want to hear symphonic choral works (featuring the human voice), why do orchestral management think people would want to hear opera (featuring the human voice)? I thought that if people really wanted to hear opera, that they would go to the Opera House. That’s usually the way it works, or used to. I didn’t know that the public was all hot for opera — and depending upon what article I read, opera is in decline — and especially the Symphony Hall audience that goes to hear symphonic works, not opera. Want to hear opera? Go across the street to the Opera House, or wherever it’s located.

One big problem with this overlapping of genres (symphonic music and opera) is that the musically-ignorant public become confused as to what they’re hearing, which also speaks to the lack of music education in our US public schools today. To get slightly political here but it’s completely related, there’s no shortage of dinero/money for concentration camps at the border between the US and México for the storing of migrants in the most appalling and subhuman of conditions to play to the orange bloviator’s hateful base as we approach the 2020 “election” in the non-United States. (I’m almost expecting Nancy “he’s not worth it” Pelosi to start campaigning for him as his complicit enabler and or ask that she be his running mate). There’s no shortage of dinero for that bottomless pit called the US Military Industrial Complex Killing Machine — the #1 “Legal” Terrorist organisation on the planet to be precise — The Pentagon is asking for a colossal $718 billion for its 2020 defence budget. That’s a $33 billion or roughly 5 percent increase over what the corporate parasites in the US Congress enacted for fiscal 2019. Yet curiously there’s no money (so they say) for music and arts education in our public schools, because such programmes are considered “fluff,” “frill,” and unnecessary. This speaks to a very septic and rotted system, in a country that likes to pump itself up as the so-called “greatest country.” So for example, when the public hears opera at “The Symphony” (as they call it) with screaming opera divas serving as vocal soloist(s) and when they hear two of The Big Three (Orff’s Carmina Burana or Beethoven’s Ninth), they mistake both of them for opera. Why? Because of the screaming opera diva soloists invited to perform the solo passages in both the Orff and the Beethoven. Because somehow, in the public’s mind, the Orff and Beethoven become opera repertoire merely because of the screaming, obnoxiously heavy-vibrato operatic soloists on the stage. Neither Orff’s Carmina Burana or Beethoven’s Ninth are opera. They are symphonic choral works — well, the Beethoven is mostly a symphonic work except for the Choral Finale — but the public doesn’t seem to know that. The public doesn’t seem to know that opera involves costuming and scenery which neither the Orff or Beethoven have. But one would not know that from reading the musically-illiterate comments on U-toob where some people call any symphonic choral work they hear “opera” because of the screamers from the opera genre invited in to scream their way through the solo vocal passages. Commenters often gush over the soloists-screamers and say nothing about the Orchestra and or Chorus who performed the majority of the work. (Related: Is Opera music?)

In the public’s mind, if it’s not opera, then it’s “a song.”

Speaking of musically-illiterates: In the public’s mind if a piece is not opera, the catch-all term for all other music they hear is “a song.” So Beethoven’s Ninth is “opera” to them because of the (usually) screaming vocal soloists in the Choral Finale. But a piano concerto is “a song” to them. For example, they refer to the Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 in c as “a song.” Did they hear anyone singing in the Rachmaninov? No. Then it is not a song. A song has to be sung, (sing = song) usually by one voice or in a duet. Under a performance of a piano concerto, some musically-illiterate commenters write, “I love this song.” It’s not a “song.” Why not call it what it is: A piano concerto, and that’s part of the title of the piece: Piano Concerto in c minor. I feel I’m getting so remedial here, but there are so many thick and stupid people out there especially here in the non-United States, and some of them may show up here. In the Rachmaninov, the pianist is the soloist. S/he sings nothing in the piece. (Related: I’m looking for that song called Beethoven’s Ninth. I have seen some people in U-toob comments correct these people who refer to all pieces of music as “a song.” Rather than respond to the correction with maturity and appreciation as in “Oh I wasn’t aware of that, thank you for the musical education,” the response can usually be that of immature resentment that is so common in the US especially, or the typical cesspool that U-toob comments often turn into. Unfortunately the internet really shows us the dire, dismal, dysfunctional, nasty and septic state of our society.

Bored Choristers in Orchestra Choruses?

It must be a bit boring to be in an Orchestra Chorus these days — considering the high-caliber of chorister required to be in such an ensemble — and their having so few works to (re)prepare for the season. I suspect some choristers are asking, “This is all we’re doing this season? Certainly it won’t take us weeks or months to learn this piece or that piece or the other piece that we’re doing. We can already sight-read most of these.” I don’t know what it’s like today, but when I was in Orchestra Choruses, choristers of that required caliber could almost sight-read a piece and sound “performance-ready” (spot-checking for tricky diction places, of course, such as the release of final consonants). That’s the way it was when I was a chorister in the Choral Arts Society of Washington, as one example. Norman (Scribner), the Chorus Director, chose such fine choristers and the CASW Chorus was such splendid sight-readers and experienced, that our sight-reading of a piece sounded close to performance-ready. I remember my first season with them and the first rehearsal. Norman had us sight-read with the piano accompanist one of the major symphonic choral works we were about to prepare for our performances at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra. I believe it was Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten/The Seasons, which is a fun piece to perform and it has some wonderful choruses. As we were sight-reading, I remember that the sound I was hearing was amazing. It was that of choral excellence, and we were just sight-reading. We hadn’t even begun to work on the piece.

I think some Choruses “do their own thing” during the season meaning they have their own subscription series concerts in addition to what little they perform with the Orchestra, but I’m not sure how many do that. I know the CASW and TWC do that, but neither are the Official Chorus of the National Symphony Orchestra. I’m mainly talking about an Orchestra’s Official Chorus.

Well, the abundance of symphonic choral performances was when I lived in the District and then moved to San Francisco. And looking back on that era — which in hindsight was probably one of the best times in history; I lived in DC at an ideal time although I didn’t know it at the time — it was probably the height of symphonic choral performances because fortunately there was no shortage of symphonic choral works being performed by the Orchestra Choruses in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and also around the DC Metropolitan Area. Each Chorus had 2-4 or more engagements each season with the NSO or guest (inter)national orchestras in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. It was quite a good time for symphonic choral music.

Unfortunately today, it’s the opposite.

Take the 2019-20 season, the Choral Arts Society of Washington has one (that’s one) engagement with National Symphony Orchestra in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and that’s, can you guess? It’s one of The Big Three: They have three nights in a row of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The Washington Chorus only has two engagements with the NSO during the season. Can you guess what they’re doing? A clue: They’re doing two of The Big Three: They’re performing the ubiquitous Messiah, and Beethoven’s Ninth. While writing this, I was thinking to myself: Aren’t they the exact same “Big Three” pieces the NSO performed recently (since the 2017 season, I think) except with different Choruses? It looks like each Chorus just swapped repertoire with each other. This is not how it would works, but in my mind I can see the choristers from each Chorus gathering in a large room as a group and saying to one another: “Here, you take the Beethoven and Messiah scores and we’ll take the Orff. Then, we’ll see you in the next season and we’ll take the Beethoven back and give you the Orff.” That’s about the extent of it when you’re down to “The Big Three.” The two Choruses just swapping scores for whichever scores they need for that particular season. In reality, each chorister buys his/her own scores through the choral organisation guaranteeing they’re all using the same edition (such as Editions Peters, Editions Henle or Editions Bärenreiter-Verlag, for example). But they are the same pieces they performed over the past couple seasons with the choral ensembles switched around. The Choral Arts Society performed the Beethoven last time. This time they’re doing the Orff, and The Washington Chorus is performing what the Choral Arts Society performed in a past season (the Beethoven). For slight variety, the NSO management or conductor might stick in a Rossini Stabat Mater as they did last season, but choristers would have to get that score from the University of Maryland School of Music because the all-student University of Maryland Concert Choir performed that with the NSO at both Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. The UMD Concert Choir replaced the now-retired and renowned University of Maryland Chorus. Oddly, the UMD Concert Choir doesn’t appear to have any engagements with the NSO for the 2019-20 season. I guess that’s in part because there’s nothing for them to do since there’s a shortage of symphonic choral works being programmed. They performed Messiah last season with the NSO, so one can’t have them doing it two years in a row.

When the University of Maryland Chorus was in existence, they had many performances a season with the NSO — especially under conductor Antal Doráti because they were his favourite Chorus — and they appeared with many guest (inter)national orchestras, such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam for performances of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Ninth Symphony.

For the 2019-20 season, the San Francisco Symphony has programmed only three symphonic choral works for the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. I hope they didn’t over do it. Well two really, if you take out the mandatory and perfunctory Me$$iah performance$. (Related: Not Messiah again?!) If you’re take out Messiah, they’re performing Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (revised version) and Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, Op 45. Then, instead of performing other neglected symphonic choral works they’ve chosen to perform opera: Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer (semi-staged) with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus assisting, and also Mahler’s Symphony No. 8. From a musical standpoint, the Mahler is essentially opera — without the costuming and scenery — when you add all those screaming and barking operatic soloists throughout the piece. And it’s because of the operatic screamers that I’ve never been able to get past the organ and choral entrance of Mahler’s Eighth. After that, it becomes intolerable for me to listen to. I’ve scanned through it trying to find places where the Chorus is performing alone, only to have them interrupted by a screamer whose obnoxious voice overpowers the entire Orchestra and Chorus. The performance becomes the personal recital for the vocal soloists-screamers. Too much screaming and barking from the vocal soloists-screamers that the sheeple mistake for “beautiful singing.” Some people have no ear for music if they think that what amounts to heavy-vibrato screaming — to cover up technical vocal and pitch problems? — is “beautiful singing.” That’s like describing the sirens on emergency vehicles as “a beautiful sound.” By the way, Mahler never referred to his Symphony No. 8 as “The Symphony of a Thousand.” Somebody else added that without Mahler’s approval from my research. And the piece does not require a thousand musicians or anywhere close to that to perform. Just thought I’d pass that on. So, from what I saw on their online brochure, as I said the San Francisco Symphony Chorus has only three engagements for the season with the SFS performing genuine symphonic choral works.

As for neglected symphonic choral works, when was the last time that the San Francisco Symphony and Symphony Chorus performed A Sea Symphony or Toward The Unknown Region by Ralph Vaughan Williams? Or the Missa Sabriensis or Hymnus Paradisi by Herbert Howells? Or the Holst The Hymn of Jesus? With the trebles/boys of Grace Cathedral (Anglican Communion), assisting? Or Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Hodie instead of predictable Messiah?

Do I need to make a list of the (neglected) symphonic choral works that symphony orchestras could be performing instead of opera, but are not? That list would nearly be endless. Yet what are they doing? Some opera, of all things. Along with “fluff” programming such as soundtrack scores, film scores, Harry Potter stuff, and some are promoting gun violence or have in a recent season. That’s just what we need more of here in the non-United States.

For the 2019-20 season, two of The Big Three (Beethoven and Orff) are programmed for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. They may also be doing Messiah, but I’m not sure about that. I’d have to scan their brochure again. The Orff and the Beethoven are programmed: “The mighty Ninth” in their language. “The mighty Ninth” appears at least twice on the CSO brochure. I can see some orchestral management sitting around a conference room table and saying, “We’ll call the Ninth ‘mighty’ and the Orff ‘powerful.’ How’s that? Does everyone agree with that? Good.” Yes, there’s all this hyped language throughout about the pieces to be performed. “Carl Orff’s powerful Carmina Burana.”

Related to my earlier article about vocal soloists-screamers, this is how the CSO is marketing their screamers (commonly known as vocal soloists):

“Muti is joined by the CSO Chorus and a cast comprising some of the world’s most distinguished international vocalists.” Hmmmmm. Having an all-paid Orchestra Chorus, I should think that some of the world’s most distinguished vocalists are in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Chorus, so why aren’t some of the choristers serving as soloists? They could easily do so. Orchestral management would say: “No, the screamers that you refer to, I mean the soloists, have to be these big-name celebrity “stars” to draw an audience. The public wouldn’t come to hear one of the finest choristers in the CSO Chorus perform the solo passages, because, well, they’re not internationally-known “stars.” Question: And the public really come to a performance solely based on who the vocal soloists are? I wouldn’t; I couldn’t care less who they are. I’m there for a superbly-prepared stellar Symphony Chorus. I’m not there for the screamers. In fact, if I had my way, I’d give the solo vocal passages to members of the Orchestra to play. The principal flautist or First Concertmaster could play the passages that the soprano screamer would normally be screaming. Those solo passages would certainly sound far better played by those musicians.

I am well aware though that whenever any symphonic choral performance is promoted on radio or television, that the announcers make it all about the vocal screamers. The Orchestra and Chorus are mentioned only in passing, as second-class musicians. Well, then, why don’t you just turn the thing into personal recitals featuring the screamers? (I guess I shouldn’t give them any ideas.) In performances and especially in Beethoven’s Ninth, the screamers — especially the screechy/screaming soprano and sometimes the harsh-sounding tenor who sounds like he’s trying to blow a tonsil seem to be in competition to see who can out-scream the other — and both seem oblivious that any other musicians are on the stage. It’s often all about them, especially the soprano screamer as she rears back, usually showing full-cleverage to make her appear “sexy.” (Too little too late for that!). Meanwhile, the tenor screamer has to be all covered up from head to toe in a stuffy tux. Both of them when screaming together turn the performance into their own personal recital, again, completely oblivious that anyone else is there or that’s the appearance. With her piercing voice, the soprano can wipe out everybody on the stage and usually does: Her glass-penetrating voice cuts through and overpowers the full Orchestra, the full Chorus and the Concert Hall’s Pipe Organ using the full resources, if that’s part of the performance. Her voice often reminds one of a siren on an emergency vehicle passing by the Concert Hall, because that’s all you hear is her. There can be over 300 musicians on the stage (a 200-voice Chorus and the Full Orchestra), and her voice overpowers all of them and she’s not mic’d. And of course she loves the attention. She adores it. During the bows, she rarely turns around to acknowledge any of the other musicians on stage and divert attention to them because “it’s all about her….me, me, me.”

The Bait: “A Distinguished Cast of Soloists.”

It’s the usual practise that one sees from misguided orchestral management with their excessive executive salaries consistently resort to: It’s called baiting the public to come to the performance because of the “world’s most distinguished CAST of vocalists.” If management were being honest it would read “A CAST of screamers.” Let’s tell it like it is. There’s nothing musical, tasteful nor is there any artistry or talent involved in heavy-vibrato/wobbling/fluttering (often off pitch meaning flat – singing below the true pitch of the note) obnoxious screaming.

When will Voice Departments in Conservatories and University Schools of Music teach blending one’s voice musically and artistically with other voices as a soloist. Not in my lifetime because in fact we seem to be going in the opposite direction, especially in the non-United States where heavy-vibrato — again, to disguise technical vocal problems and pitch problems? — and screaming seem to be increasingly popular even in some choral ensembles (among people with no ear for music and who reject one of the foundations of choral excellence: perfect intonation). I remember when I trained, I could be at one end of the hallway in the Conservatory and I could hear a private voice instruction class at the opposite end of the long hallway. In the background, I could hear pianos being played from the piano professor’s studios along the same hallway. But it was the voice professor’s voice or her student’s voice that overpowered any other sound that one heard.

Last season (2018-19), for the Philadelphia Orchestra from a symphonic choral standpoint:

They didn’t even perform The Big Three. And one of their pieces, was an opera: Amahl and the Night Visitors by Gian Carlo Menotti. Again, why is a Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performing opera? Why are they competing with Opera Philadelphia or some other operatic organisation? (Related: Is Opera music?)

For the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus, from what I saw on the 2019-20 season, the Full ASO Chorus has only three (that’s 3, THREE) engagements with the ASO. I suspect if the late Robert Shaw were around today, he’d be shocked at that. He’d say, “Well you have to do more than that, why so few symphonic choral works?” That is an incredibly low number for an Orchestra with its own Chorus of the caliber of the ASOC. One wonders: How long before they disband the ASOC due to “there’s just not much interest in choral music these days so we really don’t have anything for you to do” being used as the rationale? Well, they are doing two of The Big Three, of course:

Orff’s Carmina Burana (with the full ASO Chorus) and Messiah (that’s with the ASO Chamber Chorus). The full ASO Chorus is performing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (I am surprised to see that programmed at this point) and they’re adding to the Mahler’s Eighth category/fad. Oddly, the ASO Chamber Chorus has the most performances. They’re performing Bach Cantata Nos. 12 and 29 on one programme, and the Chamber Chorus is performing the opera repertoire: Purcell – Selections from Dido and Aeneas, and Wagner – Tristan und Isolde, Acts I, II and III. They can’t leave that to Atlanta Opera? Oh, and the full ASO Chorus is performing for the holiday concert so that technically gives them four performances for the season. But their holiday concert is an annual thing which I think was started by Robert Shaw. So that’s as required as Messiah. But still, if I were a chorister in the ASO Chorus, I’d be looking around and at the repertoire and asking: So this is all we’re doing for the entire season? Yes, that’s appears to be it unless you’re in the ASO Chamber Chorus. And what, no Beethoven’s Ninth during the season? What will the sheeple in Atlanta do? Mass depression? Orchestral management would likely say: Rest assured that will be next season along with Messiah for the umpteenth time.

Someone online was critical of the “sound” of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus in a performance of Brahms’s EDR, Op. 45, an engagement that they had with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Deutschland/Germany. The person went on to say that the ASOC had been doing too much opera repertoire under conductor Donald Runnicles and their “sound” had changed and that the late Robert Shaw would not be pleased with the “sound” of his Chorus today. Then as expected, someone rushed to defend the new “sound” of the ASOC and wrote that “Robert Shaw would love our sound.” Now how would that person know that? Pure speculation. I’ve not heard the ASOC since Norman MacKenzie became the Director of Choruses for the ASO, so I can’t make any comment on them. But they too in Atlanta have neglected symphonic choral works in their programming in favour of performing opera, rather than leaving opera to Atlanta Opera.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra would appear to be in bad shape. Orchestral management cancelled their 2019 Summer Season without informing the musicians. Isn’t that respectful of the musicians? For their 2019-20 season, assuming they have one:

They’re doing one of The Big Three, Beethoven’s Ninth, on five continents on their tour — if they’re still going on tour — with performances also in Baltimore. No Chorus was listed for any of those performances. In Baltimore, my guess is that the Chorus would probably be either the University of Maryland Concert Choir or the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. They did say that they will feature a translation of the “Ode” (as in the “Ode to Joy”) by the local rapper and musician Wordsmith (his name is Anthony Parker). Rap at “The Symphony?” More combining of genres to confuse the musically-ignorant. They’re also featuring a new arrangement of the spiritual, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — spirituals at “The Symphony?” — and a newly commissioned work by Indian-USian composer Reena Esmial.

What I especially noticed with Baltimore is that they’re really hyping the “Star Soloists.” But in this case, they don’t mean just the vocal soloists-screamers. While reading their online brochure I thought: It’s too bad that orchestral management can’t get as excited about their own musicians — and not disrespecting them with pay cuts and cutting their benefits — as they do the “Star Soloists.” Is orchestral management taking any pay cuts or cuts in their benefits? I can take a guess: No. What I read in their marketing language for the 2019-20 season spoke of Desperation. The only symphonic choral works I saw listed were, of course, two of The Big Three:

Händel’s Messiah
and
Beethoven’s Ninth.

There’s loads of “fluff” during the season with the Baltimore SO including movies with orchestra, superpops with Jennifer Holliday, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, tributes to Aretha Franklin and Nat King Cole, the classic hits of Lerner and Loewe, and Movie with Orchestra: The Wizard of Oz. All of that music has its place and I would enjoy some of that (the jazz music), but it’s not what one expects to hear at “The Symphony,” except in a Century of Insanity and in a troubled world of financial desperation with some musical ensembles where we’re lied to and told that, “The economy is the best it’s ever been. The US economy is the envy of the world (that’s according to the chronic liar known as the orange bloviator).” But if that’s the case (which of course it isn’t in reality), then where’s the funding for superb music and arts programmes in the public schools and elsewhere?

The Los Ángeles Philharmonic has more of a sparse season for 2019-20:

They, too, are all about the “Superstars” (consisting of 8 musicians whose pictures were shown, and not just vocalists)

They’re performing one of The Big Three: Beethoven’s Ninth.
Assisting will be the Los Ángeles Master Chorale, Grant Gershon Artistic Director and the performance will be conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.

The only other work featuring a Chorus is the Mahler Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” with the same Chorus as for the Beethoven, and Dudamel conducting.

But that’s it for their symphonic choral repertoire. Overall, it’s a rather light season for repertoire for the Los Ángeles Philharmonic.


Now, for Boston, including an update on the Tanglewood Festival Chorus:

For the 2019-20 season, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus are much more original, and I think the most original of all, and I think the best in their programming:

First, let me say that I take no pleasure whatsoever in being critical of other musicians. As a musician, I prefer to praise other musicians because I feel we’re all together in solidarity with each other as fellow musicians. That gives me the most pleasure as well as their stellar performances, excluding many vocal soloists of course. In fact, I go out of my way to avoid criticism of other musicians because I know how unjust and unwarranted and even nit-picky criticism feels. But in some cases, there are times where criticism is indeed necessary and it might bring forth positive change, as it has done with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (TFC) under James Burton. I was rather critical — and justifiably so — of the TFC in its latter years under Founder and Chorus Director the late John Oliver. But it wasn’t just me. Other publications were writing about it. The BSO and conductor Andris Nelsons had noticed “problems” and “some unevenness” with the TFC. Sounds like political-speak. They were being so diplomatic rather than telling it like it is, which is what I like to do. If I remember correctly, Nelsons was overheard asking after hearing the TFC the first time, “Is this how American Choruses sound?” And he didn’t mean it as a compliment. No Andris, it’s not. Only those Choruses that need some work/improvement sound like that. Yet the TFC still had a few blinders-on, devout followers with this cult-like devotion to the TFC — a couple of them wrote to me as self-appointed “choral authorities”; one wonders where they trained? — who rushed to the TFC’s defence and supported their heavy-vibrato, wobbling, fluttering, quivering, shrill-sound cackling soprano section like one heard in Beethoven’s Ninth at the end of the Tanglewood Music Festival in one of John Oliver’s last seasons with them, or their Mahler Second. I couldn’t listen to either performance twice because the sopranos were so bad, and the altos weren’t much better. And the microphones picked up cracking tenor voices in the Beethoven. Completely unacceptable for the Official Chorus of the BSO. I remember asking myself: What on Earth has happened to the Tanglewood Festival Chorus? Jesus! In their early days, they were one of my favourites. And I suspect when James Burton arrived he asked himself, “What are these people doing in this Chorus? How did some of these people get in this Chorus to begin with?” A third of the Chorus left — couldn’t pass the audition and its new music theory requirements — if I’m remembering correctly after Burton arrived and he re-auditioned the entire Chorus with new standards, which I supported. From what I read, most choristers couldn’t stand him and his approach. Tough luck. Again, the TFC is the Official Chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops Orchestra, not your Community Family Chorus where everyone is welcome including the family dog. Under Burton, I read that rehearsals are of a serious nature as they should be. The guys who wrote to me asked me, “What’s wrong with vibrato?” Well, if one has to ask that question, we have no room for discussion, period. Has this guy or guys never heard the term perfect intonation, used throughout music? It’s one of the basic principles of choral excellence. Noticeable vibrato prevents perfect intonation, the perfect blending of voices. That’s what’s wrong with noticeable vibrato, you idiot. I have no patience for these people, these Vibratobots. So I was very pleased when the BSO hired James Burton to replace Oliver as I was familiar with Burton from his fine work in the UK.

So recently, I watched a short clip of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (from April 2019). For those who don’t know, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus is the Official Chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops Orchestra. The clip was from one of their performances in Symphony Hall with the BSO. The Tanglewood Festival Chorus has improved under James Burton as I had thought they would. I think James is still working on them, but they were singing with perfect intonation in all voice parts. He still has some work to do on their soprano section. As I said earlier, those sopranos were in rather bad shape especially in their upper register during the last days of John Oliver’s tenure and they were in need of the perfect blending of their voices as well as polish and refinement. With this clip I saw recently, the TFC’s soprano section’s highest note in the piece (I think it was a High C, 2-octaves above Middle C) needed a bit of polish. It wasn’t quite perfect intonation and more on the screechy side. It wasn’t a smooth and velvety top note in other words. It was more of a rough-sounding top note and a little bit of struggling sound. A highly-skilled and superb soprano section should not sound like they’re struggling at any time (although that goes for all voice parts), but rather sound effortless even on their top notes up in the stratosphere. But I suspect James is still working on them. The TFC sopranos are better than they were under John Oliver — I’m specifically referring to the time period of his last years with the TFC — but Burton needs to continue working to remove some screechy sounds, but I suspect he already knows that. The sopranos were not screaming or cackling or wobbling as one heard from them under John Oliver. I suspect most of those sopranos are gone having failed their re-audition and its required higher standards including knowledge of some more advanced music theory. I heard no noticeable vibrato, other than some on that High C that I mentioned. And under John Oliver the altos weren’t much better I have to say! But again, overall the Chorus is indeed improving under Burton and realistically speaking it could take him some time to get the ideal instrument he wants in the TFC. Overall, the TFC look like a younger Chorus to me (particularly the Women of the TFC) than under John Oliver, which is what I had suspected would be the case with the “new” TFC. Meaning that Burton would try to select younger choristers, particularly for the sopranos and altos, and even tenors. That’s why some Chorus Director have an age limit in their audition requirements. I think William Christie does that with the Chorus of Les Arts Florrisants. The Orchestra Choruses I had the privilege of being a chorister in did not have age requirements but seemed to naturally attract younger voices at that time (Choral Arts Society of Washington and the University of Maryland Chorus both performing regularly in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with the National Symphony Orchestra and guest (inter)national orchestras, and the San Francisco Symphony Chorus performing in Davies Symphony Hall).

And that’s because the Chorus Director is looking for a certain sound which they cannot get with women of the age of your average podunk Church Choir with their untrained wobbling voices. They sound awful, but most people seem to have no ear for choral excellence, in part, because their ear hasn’t been trained to listen for it. Burton was conducting in the performance clip that I watched. I think he was filling in for an ailing Gustavo Dudamel. Burton is more than capable of conducting both the BSO and TFC. He earned a Masters in Orchestral Conducting from the Peabody Conservatory of John Hopkin’s University in Baltimore.

For the 2019-20 season in Boston’s Symphony Hall and out at the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (TFC) has the following repertoire with the BSO:

Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy.
This piece is for piano, Orchestra and Chorus and vocal soloists; some people say if you don’t have the time to listen to his Ninth that they listen to the Choral Fantasy instead. They are similar. If you’re not familiar with the piece, it’s sort of like a piano concerto with Chorus at the end. I like this performance here from Nihon/Japan with Marta Argerich as piano soloist. I’m pleased to see her using her score as it gives more of a chamber music feel to the performance. And the Chorus in this performance is superb. The performance is conducted by Sergei Ozawa. I believe this was a concert in Nihon honouring Ozawa’s 80th birthday celebration.

The TFC is also performing:

Poulenc’s Gloria
Grigorjeva’s On Leaving (for unaccompanied Chorus)
Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 2
Duruflé’s Requiem
and
Stravinsky’s Perséphone
Assisting in the Duruflé and Stravinsky will be the Boston Symphony Children’s Choir

Then in April 2020, (the TFC’s 50th anniversary month), they will perform selections from Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil, conducted by James Burton.

Also in Symphony Hall, the BSO is also performing opera, although without the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Yet another Symphony Orchestra competing with the opera ensembles, in this case the Boston Opera and Boston Lyric Opera et al). They’re performing Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, Act III. It’s a concert performance, sung in Deutsch/German. The Tanglewood Festival Chorus is not part of this performance.

And the BSO Gospel Chorus will be performing in Uri Caine’s The Passion of Octavius Catto with conductor André Raphel.

Gospel at “The Symphony?”

To the BSO’s credit, the Tanglewood Festival Chorus is part of the programme for the opening night of the season. Excellent to see that. In my opinion, the Official Chorus for an Orchestra should always be part of the opening concert of the season since they are the Orchestra’s Chorus and should be included.

Unless I missed it, they’re not performing Messiah. Good. If I’m remembering correctly, they performed Bach’s Christmas Oratorio last season. Maybe they leave the perfunctory Messiah performances to “those other people.” Well, they usually do the “Christmas at Pops,” a series of concerts with a reduced TFC and the Boston Pops Orchestra.

Then, at the Tanglewood Musical Festival in Lenox MA — the BSO’s Summer home — they’re performing two of “The Big Three:” The TFC is performing most of this repertoire:

Verdi/Requiem (which is more like opera than symphonic choral)
RAVEL Daphnis et Chloé (complete; the Chorus is often, but not always, off stage for this Ravel ballet music)
Orff/Carmina Burana (Young Artists Chorus, not the TFC)
SCHOENBERG/ Friede auf Erden (Peace on Earth), for unaccompanied Chorus

and of course one of “The Big Three”:

BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in d
The Beethoven always ends the Tanglewood Music Festival. This time, because of James Burton’s newly-installed standards of choral excellence, the TFC will likely sound more polished with no screechy, shrill, cackling, wobbling sopranos, or altos for that matter. And no cracking tenor voices. Well, one can hope for that. No disrespect whatsoever intended to James Burton, it’s just that it could take Burton 2-3 years or more to get his ideal choral “instrument” as I said earlier.

Realistically speaking, a Chorus Director — no matter how good he/she is — can only do so much with what he/she has to work with, as I think James Burton understood when he took over the TFC. Generally speaking, unless one goes through extensive training in a Conservatory or School of Music, one cannot take vocally and musically-inferior choristers and turn them into stellar choristers. That rarely happens. Instead, one has to change/replace the choristers with a musically-higher caliber, as Burton has done with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

I also noticed quite a few works for Pipe Organ programmed for Symphony Hall. It’s good to see them using Symphony Hall’s Pipe Organ. In other concert halls, often the pipe organ sets collecting dust, rarely used, as if it’s just for looks, even though it’s not.

They’re performing the Strauss Festive Prelude (Olivier Latry, organist). For those who don’t know, Olivier Latry is one of the — former organists? due to the fire — Titulaire Organists from La Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

They’re also performing Poulenc’s Organ Concerto and Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns’s Symfónia č. 3/Symphonie avec orgue (Organ Symphony)/ Symphony No. 3 in c minor, Op. 78 with organist Thierry Escaich in both.

They’re also performing the Poulenc Concerto in d for Two Pianos with Lucas and Arthur Jussen, pianos. They are brothers from the Nederlands. Their mother teaches flute and their father is a timpanist in the Dutch Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.

So, in my opinion, Boston has the best season that I’ve seen, being the most original.

The bottom line:

Most major symphony orchestras in the US with few exceptions are unfortunately avoiding symphonic choral works — except for obviously The Big Three, as one can see saturated throughout this article — and the average number of engagements for the Orchestra’s Chorus is between 4-5 appearances with the Orchestra a season. For Orchestra’s without their own Chorus, each local guest Chorus has one or maybe two engagements with the Orchestra for the season. Pathetic really.

At least for the 2019-20 season and to their credit, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus are more closely holding to the standards of when I was a chorister in Orchestra Choruses when symphonic choral works were not avoided. I wonder if James Burton and his influence has something to do with that?

Not to give them any ideas, but one wonders how long it will be before Orchestras that have their own Chorus will disband their Chorus deciding that they’re really no longer needed? On the odd occasion they want to perform one of The Big Three, they could invite one of the finest local choral ensembles to perform with them as a guest Chorus. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra did that many years ago. They disband the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Chorus. The reason I read for that was that the BSO Chorus wasn’t that good. I don’t know as I never heard them. After that, the BSO started inviting the superb University of Maryland Chorus to perform with them, which was an excellent choice. Then, when the UMD Chorus was disband by the University of Maryland — they were “liquidated” or “retired” for some reason; well I think part of the reason was because the UMD Chorus was not an all-student Chorus and the University of Maryland’s School of Music did not like that. Since then, the BSO has been inviting the all-student University of Maryland Concert Choir (they replaced the University of Maryland Chorus as the symphonic Chorus on campus) to perform with them on occasion as well as the Baltimore Choral Arts Society.

Mi amigo/My friend said: It’s interesting how locked-in US orchestral management are into The Big Three. Such absolute conformity. It seems that everyone has to be doing The Big Three like a bunch of sheeple. He also asked a very good question:

Why are major symphony orchestras competing with local opera companies by programming some opera?

What is that about? That’s what it appears that they’re doing when they programme operatic repertoire. By contrast, I don’t see Opera Orchestras and Opera companies competing with major Symphony Orchestras by performing symphonic works or performing piano concerti, violin concerti, clarinet concerti, trumpet concerti and so forth, and giving the day off to the operatic divas-screamers who are usually there to possibly blow out a tonsil. I’m glad that Opera companies are not performing symphonic choral works because I couldn’t bare to listen to that. Opera Choruses are not at all known for having learned anything about perfect intonation. I read a comment from someone recently very critical of the Metropolitan Opera Chorus and their absolute lack of perfect intonation. Yes, that’s what I mean. When it comes to operatic screaming and operatic choral singing, the basic music concept of perfect intonation seems to have escaped them or long been abandoned by these people. And they call themselves musicians? As I said, any fool can scream! No talent, artistry or musicality required for that. And if one cannot sing on pitch — as many cannot — just turn on vibrato and few people in the audience will know the difference. They’ll just think, “Oh, that person is ‘classically-trained’.”

As for myself, Orff’s Carmina Burana is one of The Big Three that I can still listen to without feeling burned out on it and assuming that the Chorus is superbly prepared and singing with perfect intonation (no noticeable vibrato), followed by the Beethoven. As for Messiah, if I don’t hear that again it will be just fine with me. I’m thoroughly burned out on that. I much much prefer to hear some of his other oratorios. But with the Beethoven, these days I’m more interested in all of the other movements of the work superbly played by the Orchestra and not the Choral Finale, which might surprise you since I’m a “choral person.” For me, the Symphony Chorus has to be top-notch, superb singing with perfect intonation in all voice sections (SATB) and impeccable diction (spit those consonants so that they can be heard in the last row of the hall, as renowned Dr Paul Traver, Founder and Director of the superb University of Maryland Chorus would say when he was alive). And with the soprano and tenor sections, there should be no wilting or decaying of sound in the notes of their upper register. Both choral sections should sing as if the piece is effortless for them to sing, especially the sopranos floating up on those high notes in the stratosphere. And of course the Choral Finale is usually ruined for me by what sounds like a train wreck when the vocal soloist-screamers wind up and, well, most unfortunately mistake screaming for singing beautifully, musically and with artistry.

Apparently, somewhere along the way, screaming with heavy-vibrato — to hide flat singing/pitch problems — became popular and a fad and it has stuck. I’d like to ask some of these vocal soloist-screamers: Why are you singing flat, or can you not hear that you are? Your concert management and you are receiving generous salaries for you to sing flat and give an inferior performance. But of course the conductor won’t say a word of criticism to “god” you, because you’re the “god” soloist. If anything, he will gush over you, especially if you’re a female. Have you had no advanced ear training in a Conservatory or School of Music? The screamer might say: Well, I can’t hear the Orchestra. I would respond: Even though you’re standing right in front of them? Well maybe, just maybe if you toned it down and stopped screaming and actively listened to the Orchestra you would be able to hear them and correct your pitch problems. Where did you train? How did you get where you are? Who’s posterior did you have to eat to get where you are? I know what your bio/résumé says. Is all of that true or is some of it made up and you think no one will notice?1 Try listening to the Orchestra and not make it all about you as if this performance is your own personal recital. (roll eyes). Chau.—el barrio rosa

——————

1 That reminded me of a bio I read recently of an organist who claimed to have been either Organist or Assistant Organist at Washington National Cathedral in the District of Columbia. I thought: Really? How’s that? That’s news to me. I’ve never seen him there and nothing came up about that from my search about him. I think he made it up thinking no one notice but that it would look good on his bio. Or maybe he filled in for Benjamin or George on one odd Sunday, but usually something that small wouldn’t go on the bio. (Related: Washington National Cathedral Organist Thomas Sheehan).

Händel – Israel in Egypt – Early Music Vancouver

Israel in Egypt, known as the oratorio of choruses, for Double Chorus.

Hola a todos. In video format, it’s hard to find a good performance of Händel’s Israel in Egypt, and there aren’t that many performances where everything is just right/polished especially from a choral perspective — since an oratorio is a symphonic choral work — but this performance below from Early Music Vancouver comes the closest to being ideal, even though it’s not quite a complete performance and they left out one of my favourite choruses (“The Lord Hath Given Strength Unto His People”). I watched other performances on U-toob and keep coming back to this one.

It also depends upon which version is being performed, either the 1739 or the 1756 version or a combination of the two, give or take this part or that part. There’s quite a bit of history about the piece:

Frankly speaking, Israel in Egypt (IiE) has been a mess of sorts following its first performance. It seems that the oratorio was not well-liked when it premiered in 1739, because those attending apparently didn’t like all of the choruses in the work. What? What’s wrong with people? Mi amigo/My friend said, “Oh so they preferred hearing screamers (he’s referring to the vocal soloists) who often mistake screaming for singing beautifully?” No one has said, but did this lack of interest and enthusiasm for the choruses in the oratorio have anything at all to do with the quality or caliber of the Chorus that performed the work for the premiere? Perhaps, but I don’t know what the state of the Choral Arts was at that time, since we don’t have any recordings from that period of music due to the obvious. Was the choral performance at that time as poor as your average podunk Church Choir? Did they have attention to detail? Were they concerned at all about perfect intonation and diction? And in the English-Anglican choral tradition, did the premiere feature a Choir of Men and Boys? Händel moved to London in 1712 which is 27 years before Israel in Egypt premiered. Nevertheless, after the first performance, Händel started changing IiE and began adding arias to it from other works to give the oratorio more solo material. IiE was originally in three parts. Then, when he revived the oratorio in 1756, he replaced the first part entirely — “The Lamentation of the Israelites” — which was mainly choral writing. Someone wrote that Händel’s audiences must have been desperately short of good taste if they couldn’t take Part I, which contained some of the composer’s very finest choral writing. Yes, there’s no accounting for good taste. Reminds me of today in the US and the decline of symphonic choral performances by major symphony orchestras. I’ll talk about that in a bit. But anyway, at that point of this revision, the oratorio became known by the second and third parts because of their thrilling-to-hear choruses. Oh so they liked those choruses? Maybe the public’s opinion of the choruses had changed by then. Part I at that point was mainly the “Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline” that Händel had changed slightly, but the public didn’t have much interest in that. Part I was mainly replaced with an Overture which he took from his oratorio Solomon along with a chorus or two, such as the chorus “Your harps and cymbals sound” for Double Chorus from Solomon. I could keep going with more details, but I’ll cut to the bottom line these days: Those listeners who want to hear something close to the original IiE, say they listen to Part III first, then Parts I and II in that order. Today, it’s the abundance of choruses that carry the work if one has a superbly-prepared Chorus, which Early Music Vancouver most assuredly is. There is no definitive version of IiE today to my knowledge. Even as the composer, I don’t know that Händel could get away with all of that swapping and trading material from one oratorio to another today with the ludicrous copyright laws we have. Today, it depends upon who performs it as to what you’ll hear. The first parts of this performance by Early Music Vancouver I had not heard before. To get even more complicated, there’s also a version of IiE arranged by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy which begins with an Organ Prelude followed by a Trumpet Overture composed by Mendelssohn. Then things get more on track with the “original” Händel version with “Nun kam ein neuer König”/”Now Came a New King.” I don’t know why Felix decided to get involved in this mess but anyway, he did and came up with his own version.

Without confusing you any more, according to the late Christopher Hogwood (Founder of the Academy of Ancient Music), he said:

“…eventually it was Parts II and III of Israel in Egypt that survived (our present day Parts I and II, which begin so awkwardly with a recitative.” So, as for a “complete version” of IiE, I guess you’d have to have both versions at-the-ready. Messiah was his tenth oratorio and that premiered in 1742.

Regarding Christopher Hogwood’s death: He died in Cambridge, England in 2014, fourteen days after he turned 73. He had recently separated from his partner, Anthony Fabian, who is a film director. How sad that he and his partner were not together when Christopher died. I read two obituaries from the UK of his death. Neither were obituaries written by the family but rather article-style obituaries written about his life as a musician, which by the way, he started out as a continuo player for Neville Marriner’s Academy and Chorus of St Martin-in-the-Fields. One obituary in The Guardian unfortunately kept both Christopher and Anthony in the closet as that publication just couldn’t bring themselves to mention his gay partner. According to them, Christopher was survived only by his sisters and brothers. Of course if Christopher had been straight, we would have read about his wife that he recently separated from as one of the survivors. The anti-gay double standards especially in obituaries. Or did they think that their readers would have a problem with their mentioning that Christopher was gay? It’s always good to cater to people’s prejudices and bigotry isn’t it? [sarcasm] And doesn’t The Guardian pretend to be “liberal” or “progressive?” I think so. Yeah well, those words have little real meaning these days. The other publication, The Telegraph, didn’t come across an anti-gay as they mentioned that Christopher had recently separated from his partner, Anthony Fabian.

As a musician, one of many ways I agree with Christopher Hogwood was that he didn’t put conductors up on a pedestal as I think many people unfortunately do. I’m not sure why people do that — brainwashing? — since conductors don’t play a note in a performance, unless they’re conducting from a keyboard. Conductors deserve the same respect as all other musicians in the performance — including the Chorus which usually gets the least respect as I think they are seen and heard by many in the audience as no different than one’s podunk Church Choir; the average person’s musically non-trained ear wouldn’t know choral excellence if they heard it! — even though no comparison can be made between the average Church Choir and a highly-skilled and well-trained Symphony Chorus. But most people have no clue of what is involved in being a chorister in an Orchestra Chorus or the audition requirements. But conductors are no different than the rest of us. I’m well aware that the Classical Music Snots, those arm-chair critics — who ruin classical music for a lot of people — worship, genuflect to and glorify and love to pretentiously name-drop the name(s) of their favourite big-named conductors. When I was in Orchestra Choruses, I didn’t see the conductor any more special than the rest of us, and most of them don’t act like they are either. They act like very humble and modest people. I’m of the opinion that conductors are over-rated, the same thing violinist Nigel Kennedy says. Christopher Hogwood recognised that his musicians often brought deep levels of understanding and experience to the Orchestra and he took the role of conductor more of that of a moderator, rather than an omnipotent authority creature at the podium. “I’m for democracy to the point of anarchy,” he once said. He felt that the idea of an autocratic conductor — I don’t like the term “maestro” as to me it sounds pretentious when, again, all of us trained musicians are equal on the performance stage — dictating performance practice to professional musicians was absolute nonsense to him. Other musical ensembles (including many not specialising in early repertoire) began to adopt a similar approach, which is good to hear.

As for Early Music Vancouver, these are all superb musicians consisting of the Festival Chorus and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra. I’m not usually into vocal soloists due to their overuse and reliance on vibrato, but my favourite soloist in this performance is the countertenor who did a splendid job with his part. He has an impressive well-blended vocal range. And, in this performance the soloists come from the Double Chorus which is one of the things I’ve repeatedly stressed should be the case and have requested with symphonic choral performances, not that they’ve read anything that I’ve written about that. With some of the soloists in this performance, they used their “solo voice” when soloists and their choral/chorister voice (no noticeable vibrato) when in the Chorus which sings with a straight-tone giving them perfect intonation. The conductor in this performance is interesting to watch and he conducts from the harpsichord, which I don’t think was mic’d.

Someone usually asks if I ever performed the work I’m writing about so I’ll talk about that: I always wanted to perform Israel in Egypt, but I never had the opportunity during my years with Orchestra Choruses. But I had the vocal score at-the-ready (Editions Novello) and was prepared to perform it whenever it was announced as part of the repertoire for the next choral season when I was a chorister in Norman Scribner’s Choral Arts Society of Washington or Dr Paul Traver’s University of Maryland Chorus or the San Francisco Symphony Chorus (Margaret Hillis and Vance George, Chorus Directors). This has been one of my favourite choral works for decades mainly because of all the choruses in the work.

Thinking back on it now, I didn’t get to perform several of the symphonic choral works I really wanted to do, such as Mendelssohn’s Elias/Elijah. Well, we performed that at the Conservatory where I trained and I served as rehearsal piano accompanist for that, but I wanted to perform it with a major Orchestra Chorus in the Kennedy Center or in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall. But that didn’t happen, and that’s the way that goes sometimes. I also didn’t have the opportunity to perform another favourite which I was also prepared for, Belshazzar’s Feast by William Walton. A chorister can be waiting around for years waiting for one of their favourite choral works to come along again in the repertoire and finally be selected by the Chorus Director or orchestral management. Or, one will hear from other choristers, “We just did that a couple of seasons ago.” Translation: So we won’t be doing it again soon (for maybe 5-10 years). With the exception of course being the — what has become — ubiquitous and perfunctory performances of Händel’s Messiah as well as Beethoven’s Ninth. The latter ends every season at the Tanglewood Music Festival.

As for other symphonic choral works I always wanted to do, we performed Beethoven’s Ninth when I was a chorister with the Choral Arts Society of Washington and also the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. I believe the Orchestra for the Kennedy Center performance was the National Symphony Orchestra if my memory serves correctly. I would love to have sung the Ninth with the University of Maryland Chorus — they owned that piece — it was their signature piece so much so that The Maryland Chorus, as they were also known, was invited to perform the Beethoven over 38 times over the decades with the Kennedy Center’s resident Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, and touring national and international orchestras during their legacy. I don’t know that any other Orchestra Chorus can say that about that piece. Here’s one of their reviews of their performance, you might be interested in reading:

National Symphony Orchestra and the University of Maryland Chorus

“…an excellent performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was presented to an overflow audience Saturday night at Wolf Trap. This excellence, however, was a last-minute development, and primary credit goes not to the National Symphony, which was the orchestra for the occasion, but to the University of Maryland Chorus, which came to the orchestra’s rescue. The Chorus—one of the best—celebrated its 20th anniversary and its 36th Beethoven Ninth by singing the final movement as well as I have ever heard it sung, live or on records.”
Source: The Washington Post Classical Music Reviewer: Joseph McLellan

Yes, the superb University of Maryland Chorus always “stole the show” when I heard them perform Beethoven’s Ninth on a couple occasions. They brought chills up and down my spine and tears to my eyes — they were amazing — when of heard their absolute choral excellence, once at Wolf Trap (a choreographed version with the Maurice Béjart Ballet) and in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Unfortunately, the Ninth was not part of our repertoire the season I sang with The Maryland Chorus. Wouldn’t you know it!

Maryland Händel Festival (MHF), 1981 – 2001
Official Chorus: University of Maryland Chorus
Official Orchestra: Smithsonian Chamber Players

After I left the District of Columbia and moved to San Francisco, about eight years later the University of Maryland Chorus and Smithsonian Chamber Players performed Israel in Egypt at the University of Maryland as part of the annual Maryland Händel Festival (MHF) which was founded and led by Dr Paul Traver, one of the finest choral clinicians around in his day. Dr Traver founded the Maryland Händel Festival in 1981 and the Festival ended in May of 2001 with the University of Maryland Chorus’s performance of Jephtha. As I’ve written before, Dr Traver was one of two Chorus Directors who left the most lasting impression on me. A wonderful musician and human being. I will always fondly remember him. He was so down-to-Earth despite all of his accomplishments, especially with The Maryland Chorus (as they were also known).

With the MHF, which was at the College Park campus (the same campus as with the University of Maryland Chorus), Dr Traver’s goal — which he accomplished — was to perform all of the Händel oratorios in the order in which they were composed and as Händel first presented them. One of the goals of the MHF was “to focus attention on the unjustly neglected musical masterpieces.” Händel composed 27 oratorios (that includes revisions to a couple of them), so the boy was busy composing you could say. Well, there were no phones in Händel’s day for him to become addicted to or distracted by, fortunately. So he got something worthwhile accomplished in his life, as opposed to wasting his life endlessly texting on a phone as most people do today. How many people of his caliber are there these days? (Silence.)

That’s one of my complaints about that warhorse Messiah being dragged out every holiday season on cue at the neglect of other so many beautiful symphonic choral works. Can we please give this oratorio a rest? No, I’m afraid not. That’s not going to happen because the sheeple need their traditional fix of Messiah per tradition and I suspect that’s the main reason it continues to be dragged out every holiday season during Advent. It’s rarely performed during the Twelve Days of Navidad/Christmas (25 December through 5 January). It predictably brings in dinero/money whereas other symphonic choral works would not most likely. And by the way, the oratorio is called Messiah, not The Messiah. That mistake has been made now for decades by some people who don’t know any better, including some recording companies and a few music publishers. I won’t name names. But no, there’s no “The” in the title as you can see on this vocal score: Here is a picture of the Editions Novello authentic performance edition vocal score used by respected Orchestra Choruses. Give it time to load, por favor/please.

The last I heard and I think it’s now more true than it was, especially here in the US, we’re down to only three symphonic choral works that the public-sheeple will support: The perfunctory Händel’s Messiah in December, Beethoven’s Ninth and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. That’s it. Oratorios and other symphonic choral works? They’re now relegated to history and dusty archival library shelves. Retired, in basic language. Instead, the public’s addiction-interest and distraction today is all about: “Where’s my phone?” screamed in panic-stricken mode and on the verge of having a stroke. “Why did you forget to charge my phone?! It’s my entire life. Without my phone, I’m nothing; I can’t live or exist.” Yes, that’s about the extent of it. Pathetic really. Yes, these days one’s dopamine-inducing phone is like the adult pacifier, isn’t it? It’s a person’s entire life. Their only friend in the world in some cases. That addiction is right up there with their other addictions: coffee and cigarettes, and often they have all three addictions going at the same time with two hands. One wonders if evolution will lead to humans growing a third arm/hand? But hopefully these lobotomised phone zombies with no life of their own are considerate enough of others to turn that phone off before a performance of Händel’s Israel in Egypt. Although they weren’t performing IiE, I read that conductor Gustavo Dudamel stopped a performance of the Los Ángeles Philharmonic because someone’s phone addiction was disturbing their performance. Using my search engine, I found that other conductors have stopped performances due to people’s phone addiction disturbing the performance. What pathetic people that cannot be without that phone. Culo. They need to see psychological help for their addiction, but of course they won’t because most refuse to admit they have an addiction in the first place. It’s called Denial. Then those who do admit they have the addiction, find it funny and just laugh it off. They don’t possess the maturity to realise it’s a serious addiction.

Mi amigo/My friend watched this performance by Early Music Vancouver with me and he was fascinated with parts of the text, such as in the chorus, “He Spake The Word” — and as I told him: there is no US “r” sound in the word “Word”; in other words all the text should be pronounced in British/Queen’s English — with “flies and lice” where one can hear the flies buzzing around in the music texture played by the first violin section when the Chorus sings that text each time. He also liked the “fire mingled with the hail” and “the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” He was fascinated by a horse and his rider being thrown into the sea. This is some wild stuff we’re talking about here! Well, there’s a lot of wild stuff and violence in that bible.

This is not at all a criticism, but I might have added a couple more sopranos to each Chorus so that they had more than 3 sopranos for each Chorus. That’s a bit thin for a soprano section although their soprano section performed admirably. From watching them, they had 3 choristers in most sections. And a countertenor in each of the alto sections.

As you’ll see the Chorus is split because this is an oratorio for Double Chorus where one Chorus often answers the other. Listen for that. The cameras also often show the viewer which Chorus is singing at the moment and then flips over to the other Chorus.

I wanted to hear other performances by the Pacific Baroque Orchestra and the Festival Chorus, but unfortunately, the last time I checked according to their U-toob channel they haven’t performed anything together since, at least that they’ve uploaded to U-toob. That’s a shame. Such highly talented and superb musicians It’s almost as if this performance were a one-time thing for this Chorus. Most, if not all, of the choristers are professional singers and by that I mean they come from artist management companies. I didn’t take the time to check each one but of the names I checked from their credits at the end of the video, they list an artist management site as their contact information, such as one of the superb tenors Jacques-Olivier Chartier. He has a lovely soloist voice too. I suspect this was a one-time thing because — I’ll take a guess — all the chorister musicians and orchestral musicians were paid, and that can be very expensive when one is dealing with artist management and their fees. Chau.—el barrio rosa

Here’s their performance:

Related:

What happened to the renowned University of Maryland Chorus?

BSO and the University of Maryland Concert Choir perform Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem, Op.45

Is it Chorus or chorus?

The Second Class Musicians