JUILLIARD PRESIDENT SEES TECHNOLOGY THREAT
The already rocky road to success for young classical musicians is about to get rockier.
That’s the grim word from Joseph Polisi, president of the Juilliard School. “We must examine how the music profession has changed and where it is going,” he said. “We are an 80-year-old institution that is taking a hard look at itself right now.”
The 38-year-old music administrator was in town recently to address the local chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and to attend a reunion of alumni from the prestigious New York music school. The cause of his concern and a major topic of discussion at both functions: Technology.
“With all the advances in synthesizers, people are now talking about a 100% duplication of acoustical instruments within a few years,” Polisi said. “This brings up some basic issues from the recording industry’s point of view: Where is live music going?
“Face it. It costs a lot less money to hire one synthesizer player than a whole string section. And is the public’s ear discerning enough to tell the difference? Probably not. I saw an item on the evening news, an interview with the guy (Jan Hammer) who does the ‘Miami Vice’ sound track. He says he’s able to put everything together quickly. And alone.”
Polisi maintained that institutions such as Juilliard must continue “to give our students the type of breadth of education that will permit a life in the arts. But now, we have a new responsibility. The mass media are a ubiquitous presence. They have an enormous influence on our culture. We must make sure the artist remains an important part of that equation.
“There’s a confusion these days between technology and art. Knowledge of electronics doesn’t mean you are creating art.”
One approach to curbing this dilemma is to hit the industry head on, he suggested. “What I told the NARAS meeting is that the industry should start thinking that they have a responsibility beyond the bottom line.” And the musicians’ unions? “Do they have the power?” he asked in response. “In the ‘30s and ‘40s, only live orchestras played on the radio. No more. How effective were the unions in preventing that changeover?”
From the students’ point of view, Polisi said little has changed. Competition to enter and excel remain undiminished. “They don’t feel threatened. They’re not yet in the realm of the business.”
Administrators, Polisi insisted, must continue to be optimistic. “Art is a civilizing factor in a free society. The mission of our schools is to train the young to present their art to the next generation. This remains our goal, and that is not pie in the sky.”
AT THE PHILHARMONIC: Guest conductor Kurt Sanderling continues to survey standard repertory with the Philharmonic this week at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. On Thursday and Friday (and again Saturday in San Diego), he will lead the orchestra in Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 and Schubert’s “Great” C-major Symphony.
Also at the Pavilion under Philharmonic auspices is a concert on Tuesday by the Winchester Cathedral Choir, led by Martin Neary. The English choir will offer a program that ranges from early English music (by Byrd, Whyte and Weelkes) to more recent English music (by Britten and John Tavener and Jonathan Harvey). Also on the agenda: music by Purcell, Bach and Mozart. Organist Timothy Byram-Wigfield will assist.
A NEW ORCHESTRA: The Los Angeles Orchestral Ensemble will make its debut appearance next Sunday in Wilshire Ebell Theater. Conducted by its musical director, Gregory Isaacs, the new symphonic body will play a program of music by Rossini, Janacek and Walton. Piano soloist in Janacek’s Concertino will be Armen Guzelimian; narrator in Walton’s “Facade” will be actress Kristin Peterson. Isaacs has announced that the Ensemble will vary in size from concert to concert, according to repertory for that event. For this first concert--preceding a projected three-event series for 1986-87--the ensemble will number 15.
IN DANCE: If you know Mozart by the numbers, you probably know that K. 622 is his final stab at concerto writing--the glorious Clarinet Concerto. That number is also the title of a work by Lar Lubovitch, set to the score of the same name, that will be receiving its West Coast premiere at concerts by the choreographer’s company Friday through next Sunday in Royce Hall, UCLA. The work was created and unveiled during a six-week residency by Lubovitch in Angers, France, earlier this year. Besides “Concerto Six Twenty-Two,” the company will dance “Big Shoulders” (1983) and “A Brahms Symphony” (1985) each night. The latter, by the way, refers to No. 3 by Brahms.
Both UCLA and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are participating in the nationwide “Festival of India” this year. And both will be hosting Indian dance events this week. On Friday, Viji Prakash will appear at Schoenberg Hall on the Westwood campus. The following night, Sukanya will offer examples of Orissi, Kuchipudi and Bharata Natyam in the Bing Theater of the museum.
PEOPLE: Conductor John Williams and his Boston Pops have agreed to appear at the nationally televised unveiling of the restored Statue of Liberty in New York harbor on July 4, thus breaking a longstanding tradition of playing a free Independence Day concert on the Esplanade in Boston. That event, still free, will take place the next day.
Soprano Jeannine Altmeyer will sing her first Bayreuth Bruennhilde this summer. The Pasadena-born singer, who won the Metropolitan Opera National Auditions in 1970, returns to the Met next year to alternate as Sieglinde and Bruennhilde in the new “Walkuere” there.
Gary Graffman has been named artistic director of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, effective this summer. The celebrated pianist, a 1946 alumnus of the school and a member of the faculty since 1980, succeeds John de Lancie, who was asked by the board of directors to resign from his post following a disagreement over policy, according to a representative from Curtis. Graffman will oversee the artistic day-to-day activities of the school. A search is on for a business manager who will handle administrative duties.