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Bye-Bye Awful ‘Aughts
Dec 28th, 2009 by Andrew Kraus

I don’t know anybody, at least I don’t believe I know anybody, who’s doing better now than they were in 1999, the last year of the Twentieth Century – but then, I’m a working musician, and I don’t have an office on the executive floor at Goldman & Sachs or Bank of America or… you take my point.

This post being on a blog primarily concerned with music as art and inevitably with music as business, I want to swing the spotlight around to focus on your experience of the ‘Aughts, particularly if you’re a working musician.

If it’s the case that you’re doing better, how’d you make that happen?

If it’s the case that you’re not doing as well, what happened? Did the funding for your organization dry up (think Baltimore Lyric Opera, for example)? Are people spending less on music lessons for their kids? Are you being paid on time? Is it harder to find students? gigs?

And “how is Andrew Kraus doing?”, you ask.

I’m holding my own, and had some great experiences in 2009 including being a guest soloist with the Mantovani Orchestra on their China Tour in the Spring. I’ve started collaborating regularly with two wonderful musicians: Laurien Laufman – Cellist, and Jennifer Paschal – Soprano. You can see details of upcoming recitals with both of them on my events page.

Enough for now about me and my views on this topic. How about you?

Recordings – Blessing or Bane?
Dec 22nd, 2009 by Andrew Kraus

Is the use of recording technology a blessing or bane?

The answer is “yes”, or so this writer asserts. It depends on which side of the very sharp sword you’re holding at any given point in time.

On the blessing side, e.g., as a working accompanist, when I am learning something new, or want to see or hear a performance by a particular artist or artists, I can go to YouTube or to iTunes or Amazon’s mp3 site. I don’t have to travel to a library as I would have just a few years ago, or wait for a local performance as I would have 100 years ago. Pretty cool, eh? And then there are performances only possible on recordings – does the work of Enya come to mind for you?

On the bane side, among other, perhaps more serious considerations, people have gotten into the habit of talking (with their mouths or by texting) while listening to music, not paying for performances (that’s a really tough one), and in many ways, the most baneful of all, have come to expect the sort of perfection most often achieved after many hours of skillful work by performer and recording engineer in the studio as what a live performance should be.

From The GMU Gazette:

“Recordings have conditioned audiences to expect note-perfect performances,” [David] Sternbach says. “As a result, critical standards for live performances have become unreasonable and excessive.”

Your thoughts?

Piano Vandals Strike at Ithaca College
Dec 21st, 2009 by Andrew Kraus

As US News and World Reports reported on their website at UsNews.com.

Twas the night before finals when a vandal damaged more than 60 pianos at Ithaca College. The discovery stunned the school of music and its students.

A sophomore music student stumbled upon the instruments that suffered vandalism Sunday…

Sickening, isn’t it? Who did it? Why did they do it?
Was it a student at the school?

Thank you, Maryland Governor O’Malley!
Dec 19th, 2009 by Andrew Kraus

As a working musician, I appreciate what our Governor has done for the Arts. The squeaky wheel got the oil; now it’s time to say “thank you” so we keep getting that oil:

On August 26th, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley announced details of the latest cutbacks needed in order to balance the state budget. The necessary $454 million was cut, but we, (Maryland Citizens for the Arts) are pleased to announce that the Maryland State Arts Council budget was not affected.

Live in Maryland, want to be informed about advocacy issues like this? Sign up with Maryland Citizens for the Arts here: http://www.mdarts.org/content/About/aboutus.htm.

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