The fellows from the NEA Institute on Classical Music and Opera in Central Park. Too many to name by name, but they included six daily paper scribes, including me; a defense policy analyst by day and music critic by night from Washington; Gentleman Jim from Montgomery, Ala., and Valeria from Hawaii. Notice, I'm not the only one in a bow tie.
It is good to be back in Lexington.
That's a typical thing for a weary traveler to say when he gets back to familiar territory. But considering my journey home included a canceled flight, two-and-a-half hours sitting on the tarmac at LaGuardia and a very aerobic trot through Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta to make my connection to Lexington, it is really good to be back, though I already miss my fellow fellows.
All of us are returning home with a lot to think about.
Some of the reading we did before the fellowship, particularly by Joesph Horowitz and Alex Ross had me thinking about things that led to other posts on this site, including the changing role of the conductor and re-examining concert etiquette.
~ I come away from it thinking about our roles as music writers and critics. Are we best serving readers with what we are doing? What can we do better? What is out obligation to the art form itself?
~ What about this thing we call "classical music," usually for want of a better term. How's it doing, and where is it going?
~ What is the role of classical music in our larger communities?
~ Is new and recent music getting a fair shake in our concert halls? If not, why not, and how important is it that new music be heard?
~ It is very easy for the rest of the country to develop an inferiority complex about New York. But what's the quality of that quantity? Are we, here in Flyover Country, actually better poised to be innovative than the big cities? And, back to we, the journalists, what is our role in encouraging that innovation?
We're not going to answer all those questions today, and I'm not just saying that because I'm tired.
But many, if not all of these questions, are things for us to examine here in Central Kentucky, particularly at such a fluid time in our classical music scene.
~ Sitting on the tarmac in New York, I entertained myself for a while listening to the Delta classical music channel (it's No. 5 if you're traveling soon). I was particularly taken with Canadian Kelly-Marie Murphy's Give Me Wings to Fly, performed by the Gryphon Trio. Listening the entire album, Canadian Premiers, I experienced love at first listen with Old Photographs for Piano Trio, by Christos Hatzis.
~ Fortunately, with the extended plane time, we had been given a lot to read. I finally had time to dive into Ross' The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century. It's already an engrossing book, and it was particularly cool to read his section on Charles Ives after hearing Jeremy Denk play the Concord Sonata at BargeMusic. (My fellow fellow Bryant Manning has a great post on this event at his blog.)
By the way, Typepad, the company that supports this and reams of other blogs, has an good interview with Alex about his blog, also called The Rest is Noise. And I just learned NEA fellow Suzi Steffen had an excellent interview with Alex, also.
~ Here's some more NEA Institute blogging from Brenda Tremblay of WXXI radio in Rochester.
OK, I'm starting to get the feeling I'm rambling, like many tired people do. But we'll keep talking about these things, and really, it is good to be home.