Saturday, October 20, 2007

Alex Ross at Berkeley

Went to the Berkeley campus on Thursday night to see Alex Ross promote his new book, The Rest is Noise. He gave a half-hour talk with musical examples about 20th century music originating from the Bay Area. He was then interviewed by Cynthia Gorney about classical music in general & took some audience questions. At the top of the interview, Gorney asked him to read his account of the famous Rite of Spring premiere (which she insisted on calling "Rites of Spring"). He started reading, then, as he got to his description of the music, he ran back to the podium & started up a sound clip of the Dance of the Adolescents. He made it a real multimedia event. The whole evening would make a great podcast.

He comes across as very conscientious. He avoided making any critical comments, even when someone asked him for an opinion of Appomatox. In talking about Strauss, he did observe that "there's hardly a piece by Strauss that doesn't have something wrong with it." But for the most part he tried not to be too humorous or provocative. He urged us to seek out smaller, younger ensembles, such as Alarm Will Sound.

I'm a fan of Alex's blog, so I have to admit I was pretty excited about seeing him in person. I bought the book, got it signed & got to tell him what a great job I think he does with the Web.

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