Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Blogging at the Symphony

Last week I neglected to mention that San Francisco Symphony conductor James Gaffigan's "intermission chat with a community of local bloggers who had assembled at Davies" was made possible by the Communications Department of the Symphony, which had declared that concert to be "Bloggers' Night." Twenty pairs of prime orchestra seats were set aside for those "local bloggers," who were also given access to the Press Room (now endowed with WiFi connectivity). I thus have this kind of forward-looking thinking from the Symphony to thank for giving me the opportunity to write my two recent posts about Rachmaninoff and Richard Strauss. For those interested in the general impact of the event on those local bloggers, Louisa Spier, the Public Relations Associate who coordinated the whole affair, has set up a page (actually three pages), on which she has compiled all the resulting posts. As might be expected, the content ran the gamut from the sort of stuff that, a few months ago, prompted Andrew Keen's "Blogs are boring" rant to some keen perceptions from serious instrumentalists, one of whom was well experienced with the oboe part for the Strauss "Don Juan." Having now visited all of the links on Ms. Spier's pages, I have to say that the impression that pleased me most was the discovery that listening to a performance in Davies is a significantly different matter from listening to a CD or DVD, no matter how good the system may be. At its best, the recording process can only capture a single event, which can never provide a fair representation of the music being performed; and, because recording technology is still far from capturing everything in that event, collecting several recordings of the same composition does not improve the representation very much. There is also, as I mentioned in my Rachmaninoff post, the problem that most of those recordings are the result of "manufactured production" in a controlled studio setting, which really has nothing to do with the true nature of musical performance. So the bottom line is that Ms. Spier has done a great service to the San Francisco Symphony (for cultivating awareness); and some of the local bloggers were quite good about letting their awareness be cultivated!

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