April 18, 2007

Context Rules: Washington Post & Joshua Bell

By now everyone knows of a little experiment in context, perception and priorities that The Washington Post conducted along with concert violinist Joshua Bell. (Article/Video)

Joshua Bell, a word-class violinist who commands about $1,000 per minute, played incognito as a street performer at a DC metro station during morning rush hour. The Washington Post wanted to find out if beauty transcends in this context.

It’s AM rush-hour, people, what’s the point?

Predictable results:

  • 1,097 commuters rushing to work ignored the artist
  • 7 people stopped briefly
  • 27 people gave money on the run, a total of $32 and change
  • 1 recognized the artist

A+ for word-of-mouth buzz
Nice stunt. Everyone is talking about it.

Play nice with your patrons
The unsuspecting rush hour commuters in this experiment are probably hard working people on a way to make a living. Perhaps they buy and read The Washington Post, and perhaps they pay $100 a ticket to enjoy the talents of Joshua Bell in the appropriate context.

Unless I am behind on the latest news, it would be very nice for The Washington Post to thank the unsuspecting experiment participants of that DC metro station by arranging a free Joshua Bell concert at the Kennedy Center.

Wow, more buzz!

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April 06, 2007

And the winners are …

Here I go again, just can’t help but be a little bit proud of my students. Two of AVA current resident artists, soprano Angela Meade and tenor Michael Fabiano, won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions held at the Met last Sunday.

My friend Julian Ridescu called me first thing Monday a.m. to announce the news. He was ecstatic about how easily their voices filled the big house with beautiful performances. As a board member of Astral Artistic Services, Julian was there in support of Angela Meade who is one of their artists.

Angela secured the win with “Casta Diva” from Norma, now her signature piece, and Michael Fabiano apparently brought the house down with Lenski’s Aria. Michael sang Lenski role in my production of Eugene Onegin at AVA, which ran last December.

Brava, bravo, bravi!!!

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April 02, 2007

VIDEO: Violins & Cigars -- Aaron Rosand at 80

One of my favorite “youngsters” at The Curtis Institute of Music Aaron Rosand turns 80. The New York Times called Aaron Rosand “one of the great living exponents of Romantic violin music.” At Curtis, Aaron studied with Efrem Zimbalist who was a student of Leopold Auer at the Saint Petersburg Conservatory.

And so, the tradition of great Russian school of violin playing continues as Aaron passes it along to his students. Last Saturday, Aaron Rosand played his 80th-Birthday concert at Curtis with his collaborative pianist, and my classmate,
Hugh Sung. The second half of the concert belonged to his current and former students.

In a touching moment, standing on stage with his students, Aaron was so choked-up with pride that words were not necessary.

One after another, his students filled the hall with remarkable musicianship and stylish violin playing. Performers included current students: Stephanie Jeong and Anna Tifu, and former students:
Elissa Lee Koljonen (Concert Violinist), Benjamin Schmid (Concert Violinist), Alexander H. Kerr (former concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam; now professor at Indiana University) and Steven Copes (concertmaster Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra). My classmate, pianist Robert Koenig, collaborated with Kerr and Copes.

Below is a charming short video. Enjoy!

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