"My Nine Lives," Violin$, Alisa Weilerstein, and Who's Afraid of Modern Music?

By Brian McCreath

Wednesday, Dec. 8

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein, featured today in a performance from the Kissinger Sommer festival, will be performing in Boston in April as a guest soloist of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston.

And here few items from recent news that caught my attention:

American pianist Leon Fleisher had a conversation with Diane Rehm about his new book, My Nine Lives:  A Memoir of Many Careers in Music, and you can hear the conversation, with Fleisher's co-author, Anne Midgette by visiting the Diane Rehm Show.  I'll have a couple of selections performed by Leon Fleisher in the afternoon on Wednesday.

At NPR, you can hear the story of the most expensive violin sale in history (well, it will be when it happens anyway...).  It's called the Vieuxtemps Guarneri del Jesu, and you can hear a concerto written by its former owner in the afternoon.

Finally, Alex Ross, the music critic for the New Yorker, expresses some thoughts that I've often had about new, or modern music.  As happens invariably, he expresses it much more compellingly and eloquently than I, but by way of summary, it's something like this:  Our culture values artistic risk-taking in many forms.  Think of the value placed on Jackson Pollock's paintings, or Stanley Kubrick's films.  If places like the excellent Institute of Contemporary Art are hip and cool, or even just intriguing, and if Frank Gehry's architecture (that's the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, courtesy of WikiMedia Commons) is so highly thought of, why does modern music (however you want to define it - Birtwhistle?  Carter?  Schoenberg?) struggle for acceptance among a broad population?

Check out Alex's article at The Guardian, along with a response about the situation specifically in Britain by Tom Service.  And feel free to leave a comment or two here.  And as you're thinking all that through, be sure to tune in on Wednesday afternoon for one of Boston's many terrific ensembles devoted to new music, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, with a piece by Evan Ziporyn.  BMOP's concerts on Dec. 10, 11, & 12, entitled Luminous Noise and including music the fascinating composers Jennifer Johnson, Chen Yi, and Judith Weir, might be just the thing to shake up those pre-conceived ideas about modern music.

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