Commentary: The faces and facets of classical music’s year of emergence – Los Angeles Times

We are not butterflies, winged and free, all splendor, released from our pandemic chrysalis. After our 2020 arts annus horribilis, we foresaw celebratory champagne corks popping and fireworks exploding by 2021’s end. That fantasy has been replaced by the reality that every step needs to be taken gingerly and that not all steps can move forward. Gathering remains a series of negotiated risks, ever more so now with the unpredictable rise of the Omicron variant.

Still, we emerge. And in a heartening number of instances, we have done so in glory, thanks to the many extraordinary first-emergers who made it happen. Here is some of what they’ve brought us indoors, outdoors, in our backyard, around the world and in the digital beyond.

EMERGING CALIFORNIA CONDUCTORS. It has been an exceptional year of emergence for conductors from, and of, the West Coast. Gustavo Dudamel rose to new heights as a conductor in the summer as he led the Los Angeles Philharmonic back to public performance at the Hollywood Bowl and then opened the orchestra’s fall season at Walt Disney Concert Hall. He also began what looks to be a game-changing music directorship of the Paris Opera with Robert Wilson’s production of “Turandot” this month. He was the shoo-in to win a Grammy for his L.A. Phil Ives’ symphony cycle and, of course, he did.

L.A. Phil laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen gave early indication that he will be bringing some of the trailblazing rethinking of what an orchestra can and should be to the Bay Area as the new music director of the San Francisco Symphony. His new Clarinet Concerto got its premiere in Helsinki yesterday, but without Salonen conducting: Though asymptomatic, he has tested positive for COVID-19. Meanwhile, with remarkable resilience, the beloved former SFS music director and L.A. native Michael Tilson Thomas rapidly emerged from a successful surgery for a brain tumor and subsequent chemotherapy to conduct the New York Philharmonic in early November. That program included Berg’s Violin Concerto with Gil Shaham. Their SFS recording is one of this year’s great releases.

Throughout the pandemic, native Californian Kent Nagano has been an active presence in Europe. His work includes a revelatory “Ring” cycle on period instruments with Concerto Köln (which is archived on the Dutch radio station NPO Radio 4) and the release of Messiaen orchestral works; it’s another of the year’s most stunning orchestral recordings.

This is also the year that Venezuelan conductor Rafael Payare, who has been spectacularly rejuvenating the San Diego Symphony, added a prestigious second music directorship, succeeding Nagano at the Montreal Symphony. And the emerging African American conductor and Lakewood native Ryan Bancroft has been making waves far from home as the first American conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and, as of this month, the music director of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic.

EMERGING DIVERSITY. Bancroft was far from alone. This is also the year in which Black conductors and musicians have rightfully been more prominent in classical music lineups. In January, Los Angeles Opera named Black …….


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Google AI Tool Creates Music from Written Descriptions – VOA Learning English

This week, Google researchers published a paper describing results from an artificial intelligence (AI) tool built to create music.

The tool, called MusicLM, is not the first AI music tool to launch. But the examples Google provides demonstrate musical creative ability based on a limited set of descriptive words.

AI shows how complex computer systems have been trained to behave in human-like ways.

Tools like ChatGPT can quickly produce, or generate, written documents that compare well with the work by humans. ChatGPT and similar systems require powerful computers to operate complex machine-learning models. The San Francisco-based company OpenAI launched ChatGPT late…….


Bringing music to the masses… on a tram – BBC

French pianists, Hervé Billaut and Guillaume Coppola, brought a piano on to a tram in Nantes, as part of the opening of the annual La Folle Journée classical music festival.

They played to passengers all afternoon on Wednesday.

Mr Billaut said that they wanted to bring music to places you don’t expect it: “Perhaps someone, a child, a young person or a pensioner will have a musical shock.”