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29th September 2013
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City Opera, NYC -- Gone!

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29th September 2013
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Well, another grand musical tradition is now history


http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/ar...-bow.html?_r=0
That is really terrible to hear.

Since there is almost NO government support for the arts in America I can see this becoming an ongoing trend with more and more arts organization going under for lack of long term funding. Not good.

When the Cleveland Opera, which I recorded for years, folded for lack of funds I was more than upset.

I was recently talking to a very knowledgeable conservatory professor about classical music. He said that there is more classical music being performed today than in the past 15 years but that a lot of it is being done in smaller venues, including people's homes, and that much of it is done for the sheer joy of performing without having to worry about making money. That is probably NOT good news for people who are graduating from conservatories or schools of music and hoping to make money with a performance degree.

If this trend continues parents are probably going to start questioning spending over $200,000 at a major conservatory or college to educate their offspring in classical music when there are no jobs for them in the "real world".

Screwed up world we all live in at the present.
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29th September 2013
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If this trend continues parents are probably going to start questioning spending over $200,000 at a conservatory or college to educate their offspring in classical music when there are no jobs for them in the "real world".

Screwed up world we all live in at the present.
I'm already worried and question exactly this issue as a parent. I pay about $12,000 a year for piano lessons alone, and a few thousand dollars in addition for competition/recording fees and travel for my daughter (in low teens), and I know quite a number of amazing (classical) musicians around, graduates from Julliard, New England Convervatory and such, are looking for 'a' job. Luckily, my daughter enjoys learning/listening classical, and never pay attention to those Miley Syxxs sh*t. She says Rachmaninov Piano concerto #2, the coolest music she've ever heard. But in a few years, my money may run out. She's not only my child, and my son also needs money for his college. If she can't get scholarship from top conservatory, I would pull out the plug, and suggest to switch career. It's nearly impossible to get a student loan for the amount of top conservatory tuition, and even she gets a loan, repayment would put her life in looong debt. It's a totally different story from a student loan for medical school. On the other hand, we can't rely on government support, because the trend is a smaller government. The reality is, pure love for the art doesn't bring a dinner on our table. Something needs to be done to keep classical music alive.
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29th September 2013
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massaki - hear your pain. Classical music is being kept alive by musicians who pick those careers out of love for music, not career or money. Classical music will never die. It does not need saving, it's eternal. It requires certain sacrifices. No more or less than to be a recording engineer or a bus driver.

IT WILL NOT BE AN EASIER LIFE FOR YOUR KID TO BE A LAWYER OR DOCTOR.

All the best to your daughter in whatever career path she will choose.
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29th September 2013
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I heard about this on npr. I Thought a kickstarter campaign for a company needing millions was an idiotic gamble. It seemed something was wrong with the management of that organization beyond money concerns. It is too bad though.

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29th September 2013
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massaki - hear your pain. Classical music is being kept alive by musicians who pick those careers out of love for music, not career or money. Classical music will never die. It does not need saving, it's eternal. It requires certain sacrifices. No more or less than to be a recording engineer or a bus driver.

IT WILL NOT BE AN EASIER LIFE FOR YOUR KID TO BE A LAWYER OR DOCTOR.

All the best to your daughter in whatever career path she will choose.
Thanks for your kind words, and I totally agree with you. Somebody in the world will keep classical music out of love for music, from historical views.

On the flip side, in my opinion, those beliefs of 'classical never had died and will never die', or just let the fact pass by with a word like 'it's sad' or 'sorry', are the main reason classical music at professional level is in a shrinking trend.

As a parent, I hope she gets into the 'business' by becoming a good teacher with established resume (i.e. graduate from a top school). That seems the only way to bring steady income for her future family.

Edit: as a side note, my daughter is going to NYC to perform at Weil recital hall @Carnegie as a winner of American heritage competition, and made a tour plan to visit some other places like Julliard music school and some classical music venues. Obviously, we have to cross out NYC opera. Does anybody know other places worth touring in NYC, for exclusively classical performance?
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29th September 2013
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You can check the NY Times and the New Yorker magazine for listings when you'll be in the NYC area. Also, you can spend most of a day at Juilliard as they usually have at least 3 student recitals a day in just one of their halls (Paul Hall).
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29th September 2013
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You can check the NY Times and the New Yorker magazine for listings when you'll be in the NYC area. Also, you can spend most of a day at Juilliard as they usually have at least 3 student recitals a day in just one of their halls (Paul Hall).
Good to know, thank you so much!
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29th September 2013
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I take it, then, that embarking on a career path where you'd end up being a "singing lawyer" or a "singing doctor" would be the ultimate form of madness!
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29th September 2013
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I advised a student to pursue med school and told him he could buy whatever studio he wanted later. So where is he now? On tour in Japan.
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In a long view I believe that when we changed from colonies to state our republican fervor caused us to abandon much of what royalty had done. And that meant the tradition of supporting the arts. I do not know how much the crown supported arts in Colonial America if at all. But it was part of the monarchical tradition. And I do believe it would have bloomed.

In its place we had the business barons supporting the arts. It was noblesse oblige, a duty of the wealthy. This is no longer the case. And people seem to think that it should all be free and that taxes are some intrusive state larceny rather than what needs to be paid to live in a modern state.

So, with no "baronial" support and no state support the costs of modern classical arts are not met. It looks like we all need to buy that new 7.1 consumer stereo and be satisfied with that. /moan
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30th September 2013
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I must say that it's not just classical music that is suffering, and it's not just because the wealthy aren't lending their support anymore.

I spent part of the day today with a lovely retired couple whose background is different than mine. Part of our conversation turned to music in the church, the wife having been a church organist for many years.

Even though our respective church traditions differ from one another, we see that trained music ministers, organists, pianists and choirs who once led congregations in singing hymns of praise are being displaced by praise bands with a few lead singers.

The trend is not merely against classical music.
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30th September 2013
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Monkey wrench alert-- I just got back from recording a Brooklyn classical ensemble on tour called "The Knights" and although they were playing to a 1/4 ~ 1/3 full house, none of them could have been older than 35 and the lively-up-yourself that they brought to the Haydn and Bach and Reich and Stravinsky was otherworldly and a joy to behold.

Completely textbook (or should I maybe say "laptop"?) example of the genre: two double basses, half dozen violins, french horns, harpsichord, oboe, the works-- and they were playing the music like it was written the day before yesterday and was describing the current thrilling excitement of being alive right now.

So, whatever trends are decimating the culture overall, this stuff will survive and thrive because it means so much to the people who do it well. [/wrench]
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Well said.

Whether they will pay to have themselves recorded is anotyher issue, however.

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Monkey wrenchers, unite!
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Originally Posted by Masaaki View Post

I know quite a number of amazing (classical) musicians around, graduates from Julliard, New England Convervatory and such, are looking for 'a' job.
Some 20 years ago, if you were a Julliard or new England graduate--that automatically meant--you will get a job. Nowdays, "amazing musician" means nothing. One should be really absolutely special and exceptional, and be a winner of major international piano competition to get a "professor" job somewhere in Alabama or Arkansas, if you are lucky (what is it?--55K a year starting salary for teaching full load of 20 students, plus teaching piano literature, plus (often) teaching theory, plus hours of preparation, plus (free) studio recitals, plus (free) faculty recitals, plus student recruitment, plus weekly faculty meetings, plus department meetings, plus dealing with all shitty university politics, plus whatever else comes on the plate...).

Best, M
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Some 20 years ago, if you were a Julliard or new England graduate--that automatically meant--you will get a job. Nowdays, "amazing musician" means nothing. One should be really absolutely special and exceptional, and be a winner of major international piano competition to get a "professor" job somewhere in Alabama or Arkansas, if you are lucky (what is it?--55K a year starting salary for teaching full load of 20 students, plus teaching piano literature, plus (often) teaching theory, plus hours of preparation, plus (free) studio recitals, plus (free) faculty recitals, plus student recruitment, plus weekly faculty meetings, plus department meetings, plus dealing with all shitty university politics, plus whatever else comes on the plate...).

Best, M
Before everyone starts crying...Music performance professors have three months off every summer. Most of them teach at some music festival making even more money. If they teach summer school they get additional monies even though they are on salary. They have private students during the year who pay them $50.00, or more, for a half hour lesson. They get off for a week in the fall (fall break) and in the spring (spring break) and some colleges have a "winter term" and the professors, if they know what they are doing, can take that time off as well. Plus they get four weeks vacation on top of everything else. So basically they are working 52-2-4-12 or 34 weeks a year plus their vacation. Plus there is a sabbatical every 7 years. Not a bad job if you can get it. That is why for every job posting at every school of music or conservatory there are a minimum of 200 applicants.

If you are a good professor you will use your time off to improve your skills or to learn new ones but some professors just use the time to improve their fiscal bottom line.

Then there are the other benefits...no need to go into that here...

YMMV and MTCW
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30th September 2013
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... another issue...
There is that, they personally were trying to scarf up a free CD or two (and were hinting that I'd throw in a little FedEx overnighting, hmmmm?) but I was paid by the local classical radio station for the gig, so that tends to prove that the giant gears of broadcasting is where the money flows from... not the problems of a *maybe twenty* little people, that don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
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So, whatever trends are decimating the culture overall, this stuff will survive and thrive because it means so much to the people who do it well. [/wrench]
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I wish I can believe 'people who do it well', but from my personal perspective (for my daughter), if the number of 'people who do it well' decreases over time, that won't bring dinners on her table. I think the key is music education, so that people appreciate the beauty of music from earlier age. True, somewhere in the world, classical will be kept, but here in US, education system doesn't have any measures to stop the trend of de-appreciating (that leads to lower funding) traditional arts.


edit: please don't me wrong. I'm not saying that believing in the beauty of classical music is wrong, and nothing personal. But blindly believing it and doing nothing is a different thing. If serious money doesn't go to any of the professional business, and handed over to hobbyist or personal pleasure, the level of expertise will erode over time, less people engaged or interested, and finally it is destined to extinct. I'm just talking so that people who gets money from this field (and my daughter is a potential one), don't regret like "we should've done something at that point."
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If one teaches summer school, or music festival (which is not much money, anyway--I know it first hand, teaching at one of major festivals every year--it is more about prestige and hanging out/collaborating with great artists) then by definition it is not 34 weeks of work a year.

The major part of the income of many music professors actually comes from private teaching (BTW, no "good" professor I know of would ever give half an hour lessons) and depending on the location is between $75 and $300 (if you are a "major" professor and teach in Manhattan).

Benefits (in many cases including dental) is another great plus, but in any case, the point I was trying to make, to be a music professor is rather "labor of love"--your work day is good 10-14 hrs a day--unlike some other University professors, who mostly work 10 hrs a week.

Best, M

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Before everyone starts crying...Music performance professors have three months off every summer. Most of them teach at some music festival making even more money. If they teach summer school they get additional monies even though they are on salary. They have private students during the year who pay them $50.00, or more, for a half hour lesson. They get off for a week in the fall (fall break) and in the spring (spring break) and some colleges have a "winter term" and the professors, if they know what they are doing, can take that time off as well. Plus they get four weeks vacation on top of everything else. So basically they are working 52-2-4-12 or 34 weeks a year plus their vacation. Plus there is a sabbatical every 7 years. Not a bad job if you can get it. That is why for every job posting at every school of music or conservatory there are a minimum of 200 applicants.

If you are a good professor you will use your time off to improve your skills or to learn new ones but some professors just use the time to improve their fiscal bottom line.

Then there are the other benefits...no need to go into that here...

YMMV and MTCW
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Benefits (in many cases including dental) is another great plus, but in any case, the point I was trying to make, to be a music professor is rather "labor of love"--your work day is good 10-14 hrs a day--unlike some other University professors, who mostly work 10 hrs a week.

Best, M
What sort of professor works 10 hrs a week?

The problem with operas and orchestras is that they take a large amount of money to run. Are there opera companies and professional orchestras that are supported solely by ticket sales and corporate sponsorships without rich patrons? If not, that means these entities are not self-sustaining. And it's a matter of time before they fold.

Until the general public appreciate classical music as much as they appreciate things like Gangnam Style, I don't see much hope for the younger generation of professional classical musicians.
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Well, see, the thing of it is-- classical music can be WICKED exciting, done right-- here's the last allegro from a Bach concerto they did last night-- I do believe I hear J.S. Bach slapping a delay on phrases, here and there?--

-- and so then it totally is up to the urgency and initiative of the people that's doing it, and another thing? These guys reminded me of a wandering Gypsy minstrel troupe of old-- only they're in Brooklyn and not Hungary. Did THEY grouse about government support?
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Well, see, the thing of it is-- classical music can be WICKED exciting, done right-- here's the last allegro from a Bach concerto they did last night-- I do believe I hear J.S. Bach slapping a delay on phrases, here and there?--

-- and so then it totally is up to the urgency and initiative of the people that's doing it, and another thing? These guys reminded me of a wandering Gypsy minstrel troupe of old-- only they're in Brooklyn and not Hungary. Did THEY grouse about government support?
Baroque music is full of exciting and fiery stuff. I can listen to Vivaldi/Bach/Handel all day.

The problem is to present such music in a way that makes the general public want to pay for it.

Now that I think about it, the situation with pop/rock/jazz musicians other than the privileged few isn't much better. How many professional musicians (other than those in academia) can actually make a very decent living? Most of the musicians I know have to teach, gig, contract for orchestras, compose, etc. just to put food on the table.
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The Nashville Symphony performs in a very nice symphony hall that almost went to foreclosure a few months ago until the lender probably figured out that there wouldn't be many buyers for a symphony hall with no symphony.

The foreclosure was averted, but the musicians have had to take pay cuts.

Part of the problem started when the Cumberland River flooded the symphony hall. They lost concert dates while the building was being cleaned up.

It requires a lot of repeat ticket sales to keep a building going and also pay a decent wage to a lot of musicians. It's not as if one is just paying 5 guys in band who travel different places every week and have no expenses for keeping up a major building.

Musicians face steep cuts in the Nashville Symphony's ongoing contract negotiations | City Limits | Nashville Scene
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Classical and jazz are in a sense music for players. Players who've gone through years of practice, sometimes giving up sometimes coming back, appreciate more than anybody how beautiful (or difficult, or amazing) to perform these music genre. There is a reason why Jazz is more popular in Japan, because music education and learning several instruments are required in their first 9 years of (mandatory) education. Here in the US, music is basically optional from the early life and something people consider if they (parents) can afford. Ask some parents around neighbors. You'll get "Piano lessons? Too expensive, we can't afford. But soccer, yes." I think the only solution is to bring systematic approach on the music education programs.
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If one teaches summer school, or music festival (which is not much money, anyway--I know it first hand, teaching at one of major festivals every year--it is more about prestige and hanging out/collaborating with great artists) then by definition it is not 34 weeks of work a year.

The major part of the income of many music professors actually comes from private teaching (BTW, no "good" professor I know of would ever give half an hour lessons) and depending on the location is between $75 and $300 (if you are a "major" professor and teach in Manhattan).

Benefits (in many cases including dental) is another great plus, but in any case, the point I was trying to make, to be a music professor is rather "labor of love"--your work day is good 10-14 hrs a day--unlike some other University professors, who mostly work 10 hrs a week.

Best, M

I worked at a major conservatory for 26 years. I don't know too many professors who worked 10 to 14 hours a day. I also don't know too many who worked 10 hours per week. I think most professors had "student contact hours" of about 20 hours per week. They also went to peer recitals and master classes and of course their own students' recitals. I think most professors worked about 30+ hours per week except at the end of the semester when they might put in 50+ hours. The good ones always put in more time but that is what made them GREAT.

Being a professor of performance music is NOT an easy job but being on the staff of a major conservatory is even, IMHO, harder. I worked 7 days a week about 12 hours per day and worked summers, winter term and all breaks.

If a major conservatory went belly up many of the faculty members would have problems finding another job in academia and many could not survive in the "real world" if they had to find a "real job". Academia has it perks and one of them is that people can escape from the real world and live a fantasy life where they get to do what they love and work with young adoring students and after getting tenure are assured a lifetime job. How many of the rest of us can do the same???

There was no "publish or perish" policy at the conservatory I worked at but many performance teaching faculty members kept up grueling outside performance schedules because they loved what they did. I have a lot of respect for GREAT professors but many professors use to just do enough to get by and collect their paychecks at the end of the month. I guess it is like that in any profession.

FWIW and YMMV
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Here in the US, music is basically optional from the early life and something people consider if they (parents) can afford. Ask some parents around neighbors. You'll get "Piano lessons? Too expensive, we can't afford. But soccer, yes." I think the only solution is to bring systematic approach on the music education programs.
These are also people who would buy a few iPhones for the entire family every two years.
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These are also people who would buy a few iPhones for the entire family every two years.
Right that's the problem, uneducated (in terms of music) parents never understand the importance of music education, and that notion 'classical music is boring and sucks' descend generations after generation. Result is decreasing population who appreciate classical music itself, fewer concert goers, fewer ticket sales, fewer orchestra, etc. etc.
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