How Much Do Young Musicians REALLY Know About What They Play?

Edmonton Symphony conductor William Eddins(Photo:
Edmonton Symphony conductor William Eddins(Photo:

William Eddins is a pianist, as well as the conductor of the Edmonton Symphony.  Mr. Eddins makes his conducting debut with the Cleveland Orchestra this coming Saturday, which tells me he knows a thing or two about music.

In a column entitled The Death of the Learned Musician, he mourns the lack of understanding some young performers have of what they are trying to communicate to an audience, citing this comment as but one example…

…but that’s not the way it is on the recording…

If you are as flabbergasted by that statement Mr. Eddins was, you’ll want to read the rest of his comments.

Read The Death of the Learned Musician (Inside the Arts)

Cross-Cultural Composition

In a conversation with Frank J. Oteri from New Music Box, composer Mohammed Fairouz addresses the cultural conflict in the Middle East.  Oteri writes,

“The urgent message that comes across in Fairouz’s music is one of inclusivity and a broadening of cultural horizons. An important source for his music has been his own Arab heritage—he grew up hearing legendary singers Umm Kulthum and Fairuz (no relation) alongside Mozart and Beethoven.”

One work, Tahrir, a clarinet concerto he wrote for David Krakauer, is a blending of Arabic and Jewish traditions.  He named the work “after the famous square in Egypt that has been a catalyst for the democracy movement in the Middle East.”

Read Mohammed Fairouz: Cross-Cultural Counterpoint (New Music Box)

Watch the Imani Winds perform Mar Charbel’s Dabkeh by Mohammed Fairouz

Jennifer Higdon Wants Her Music to be “Inviting”

In a musical world of scratchy wool blankets, Jennifer Higdon’s music is a down-filled comforter.  In a recent LA Times article, Higdon says…

“You don’t need a PhD to understand my pieces,” Higdon says. “I work hard on making sure they communicate to everybody.”

The composers’ upbringing is not unlike that of many of us.  According to the article’s author, Kevin Berger, “Higdon didn’t grow up around a bust of Brahms on a marble pedestal in the family library. The sound of The Beatles and Bob Marley wafted through her childhood.”  If you’re unfamiliar with her work, I suggest it’s worth exploring.

Read Composer Jennifer Higdon Pursues Friendly Music (LA Times)

Watch Colin Currie perform the cadenza from Higdon’s Pecussion Concerto