While the world of classical music is not new to making big political statements in the music itself, it also isn’t new to deep-seated systemic issues of discrimination. As protests upholding the importance of black lives reached all 50 states this week, direct messages about these issues began to be released and published by black classical music performers and writers.
Protest, be it peaceful or not, is nothing new to history. And music has always had a place within political protest movements. Here is a look at some of the times classical music has acted as a rallying cry.
Ever the dancer’s composer, Nashville’s own Cristina Spinei was inspired by our daily feature, the Five O’Clock Waltz, when she composed her newest piece.
The Russian imperial court of the 1760s is wickedly portrayed in Hulu’s new somewhat historical series The Great, which centers on Catherine The Great’s rise to power. In the show, which takes great liberty with historical truth in favor of raucous storytelling, the future empress’s enlightenment-inspired ideals face skepticism (to put it mildly) from her adopted country – reflecting the reality of Russia’s reaction to her priorities. That being said, Catherine the Great did succeed in advancing the fine arts throughout her reign, including music, and especially opera.
Musicians have a daunting task ahead of them: facing unprecedented concert hall closures and season delays, there is a sense that the industry as a whole has been crushed. But, as violinist Erin Hall demonstrates, when a musician gets knocked down (or in her case, trips and falls), it is possible to get up again.
1 in 6 Americans sing in a choir, and lately it looks like they have all joined The Brady Bunch, or the cast of Hollywood Squares. Videos of so-called virtual choirs, with individual videos creating a composite performance of choral music done from a safe distance, are all over social media.
Nobody told Glenn Gould to stop touring, or suggested he perform a digital concert. Why would they have? There wasn’t a global pandemic forcing performers to stay home in the 1960s. But Gould’s own distaste for the act of live performance led him to shun traditional concerts early on in his career. Now, as today’s classical musicians face long concert hall shutdowns head on, Gould’s mid-career turn to recordings and broadcast might act as one possible model for a way forward, at least for the time being.
While Live in Studio C is on hiatus due to precautions for COVID-19, we heard about a group of students from the Blair Academy at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, who were also mourning cancellations. Led by faculty member Zachary Ebin, these students have now redirected their efforts to performing for senior citizens who are sheltering in place.
As a bit of fun in honor of May 4th’s Star Wars Day (“May the fourth be with you!”) members of the staff here at Nashville Public Radio have chosen our favorite musical moments from the Star Wars films for your listening enjoyment.
When filmmaker John Warren set out to work on a project with composer Alicia Enstrom, the two could not possibly known how relevant the idea of the suspension of life itself might be. This Buddhist concept, called Bardo, is the subject of a set of five meditative pieces that they have collaborated on.