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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last post of 2009?

As 2009 draws to a close, the inevitable flood of "best ______ of the year/decade" begins (or in the case of The Onion, The Top Ten Stories of the last 4.5 Billion Years). Clearly these lists will always generate controversy, based on opinion as they are, but I still find that most of these lists are rather narrowly focused. For instance, most lists purporting to be the "best albums of the decade" are entirely filled with pop, rock and hip-hop albums (if even that broad), while ignoring other genres such as jazz or (gasp) classical. I will admit that I browse the lists and occasionally discover interesting finds, but I finally came across something worth sharing, via 20 Pieces of Music That Changed the World, as presented by CBC's The Sunday Edition.

This isn't even really a "best of" list, and it's actually been running for a year and a half. But in any case, all 20 episodes (plus one devoted to Christmas music) are available to listen to online. I've listened to a bit, and looking forward to listening to more! Mostly, I'm happy to see there's everything from Gregorian chants to Reggae covered.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A dying art

There will always be those who warn of the impending "death of classical music". But Variety reports on another genre of orchestral music undergoing hard times - the movie score. This may not be readily apparent to many movie goers, as music is still very much a part of feature films, but an increasing number of directors and producers are eschewing original soundtracks by trained composers. Instead, they are turning to generic music libraries.

Twenty or 30 years ago, [composer Richard Bellis] says, "the person who composed the music had to be knowledgeable about live scoring, had to be able to write music, conduct music, create music from whole cloth rather than 'selecting' music," as often happens today with the availability of such tools as Band-in-a-Box, Cinescore or generic library music.
"Today's filmmaker is more inclined to think 'I need a composer because I'm just too busy to do it myself' and there are literally hundreds of kids out there who will do it for next to nothing," Bellis says.
What they're missing, say many on the music side of the biz, are the dramatic instincts and creative spark of the trained, experienced composer. Agent Richard Kraft, who represented film-scoring giants Jerry Goldsmith and Elmer Bernstein, says, "We are in a period where the thought that film music is an artistic expression is at an all-time low."
Read the whole article here.

I should note that ESO performances of film music are among our most popular offerings. We usually feature composers like John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, and Bernard Hermann. So many movies are forever linked to their musical themes, that film makers should be wary of giving the music short shrift.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A bit of nostalgia

This is one of those things that's probably not supposed to be on youtube... and I probably shouldn't be reposting it here... but what the heck! It makes me smile.

Here's Ray Charles, in concert with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, circa 1981: