Saturday, July 16, 2016

That Russia Be Barred From Rio Olympics ?


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You your vote

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Why are there no African American chefs?

Either they did not eat -  which is not particularly likely -  or the entire news  industry knows that the core population of rich people does not like African Americans.  Even British shows have more balance ...  which is saying something.

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Ogata Conducting at MIT

It distant memory has enraptured, and speaks with the voice which only the gifted will hear. He graduated with a major in biology – from one of the premier schools where science reigns supreme. But his minor was in music, and in the end it was the music which won the day – this from a very elite school. His name is George Ogata, leading a group composed of musicians interested in furthering their keen interest, though probably not there professional, call it that vocation which is in the list – because there is another location which has called them. Many of the players could be on the top lists for a starting desk. Though by no means all of them, but they could be on the second tier in this most musical of cities. And here, so it is, that they raise bows – or clench their reeds two perform a rendition of one of the strangest symphonies ever written.

Wagner who put the bead on it – it was a French composers way of conjoining his love of everything French. It was written in the style of Beethoven – for an English actress of Shakespeare. But, that most Teutonic of composers when none to say, it was a French heart that beat below the surface. It was later in the 20th century when Charles Rosen pointed out the strange uses of major chords and arhythms, that it was, truly, the most odd of symphonies.

To some extent, it is not the orchestras entire fault – some like the brass demand full attention, and there is nothing that half attention can do: the instrument demands everything to keep it in tune. There were from time to time faults – such as one second violinist who scraped away with only a third of the bow, as if she were trying not to scratch it. But that is essentially the point – for a conductor who is meant to only lead a fourth rate orchestra trying their best, there are two types that come to the fore. The first is a laissez-faire sort of stance – and attempt to just get through the notes as best as one can. The other is a conductor who dreams of conducting the orchestra of virtuosi, who loses sight of the real orchestra. This has led to some sad occurrences, because the conductor has no ear, and might be conducting his own amplifier for all of the pleasure that could be had.

But our conductor was both meticulous and precise – who waited for the sounds of the audience to die away, in that way that a real conductor knows that certain frequencies have to be damped down – because the players need to have certain frequencies clean so that they can hear each other. It is a gift that the good – let alone great – conductors instinctively have. This twofold gift – the ability to hear the actual orchestra, and with the other ear tuned in words, to hear what it could sound like – he is one of the essential features for the conductor who could stand on the podium of a truly great orchestra. And it is this that Ogata has. And he massaged various features of the orchestra, ignoring those that could not be settled, and focusing instead on the things that could be done. Because there are points in this ensemble piece which are truly strange – for example the naked wind pieces, where Berlioz knew for just long enough, but not too long, to expose the naked rush of an oboe. These are the places where attention from the conductor can be heard – where as the long term bowing cannot be fixed in a single session. The difference between that which can be fixed now, and that that which cannot be – is another gift from the toolbox of a good conductor.

What this leads one to say, is that the orchestra has a much finder conductor then it needs to have. He is wasted on a small orchestra out of the way, he is wasted on a single performance with people who have other things to do with their time, he is wasted on this view people who happened to see a performance of Symphonie Fantastique. Partially because MIT is not known for artistic interpretation, but science. MIT  wants greater recognition in the humanities,  and that comes from pushing for real accomplishments. The science for example that a biology degree entails. So I would urge the provosts and others to put their resources to bear, and get George Ogata a real position, even though eventually they would need a conductor for their Continuing Education Division. His gifts – and I mean that in a very practical way, such as his precision, is attention to what can be done now, his waiting for the exact moment to begin – need to have a much larger audience. Perhaps you can dismiss his ardent supporters - his wife is a very fine period Instrument performance specialist, who has been releasing Beethoven's Violin Sonatas to excellent reviews, so could be biased – but if you listen to his work, and see the details, you will be fervently supported too. This is a man who needs a step upwards, and not just because of his modest tone of voice – which he has – but because he has the vision to execute a different vision, that only he can hear.

 This is far better than having him a secret of MIT.

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