The lie of “we serve the community” isn’t the most atrocious modern untruth of the classical orchestral industry.
Word was received yesterday from a trusted source that the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra, the No. 2 symphonic ensemble of the Fundacíon Musical Símon Bolívar of Venezuela (also known internationally as el Sistema) has been or will shortly be disbanded. The official euphemism of choice in this instance is “merged”, with the other partner in … Continue reading Breaking News: Venezuelan Sistema Orchestra is shuttered
Expecting social leadership from symphony orchestras is the same as demanding showjumping from a cow.
I’ve stopped counting how many Sistema programs I’ve visited. There have been many, many, many, but I don’t see much point in attempting to enumerate them. I've found that passing visits rarely if ever offer enough information to draw any real conclusions about what happens between the walls, if not for reasons of time constraints, … Continue reading Knowing what counts
It’s difficult to imagine today, but there was a time when the Venezuelan Bolívar was a benchmark currency within South America. There was a time when Air France offered supersonic Concorde service between Paris and Caracas, when the Hotel Humboldt perched on the mountain above the capital city was symbol of the nation’s vitality and … Continue reading From Apostle to Apostate
A speech given at a regional music festival is causing international ripples. Here's why.
The next stage is probably not popular insurrection and restoration of democracy, but a coup.
I'm pleased to announce the launch of a new website, one that is simpler and cleaner than its predecessor. Some important changes: Since the last iteration of the site was launched in 2012, a number of pages have become obsolete. I've attempted to retain them all under the original URLs for archival purposes, but they … Continue reading A site for sore eyes
It’s likely that, were it not for some controversy, the most recent Miss USA spectacle would have passed largely unnoticed, as befits an outdated and sexist institution that ironically claims to be progressive and feminist (because seeing a woman in a swimsuit is apparently an essential way to gauge her intellectual capacities). But the competition … Continue reading When beauty pageants, human rights, and music collide
This review originally appeared in the February 2017 edition of the European String Teacher Association (ESTA) Journal. In 2009, before I left for Venezuela to work with its national orchestra network, better known as El Sistema, Tricia Tunstall presented me with a copy of her piano memoir Note by Note. One evening on my travels … Continue reading Book Review: Playing for their Lives