Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Great Moments in Yahoo-dom

Listening to Paul Hillier's ravishing new choral version of Terry Riley's In C put me in mind — as a mention of that title so often does — of the occasion many years ago when I interviewed a well-known instrumentalist who was then just beginning an illustrious (though not uncontroversial) career.

The morning interview got off to a shaky start, a result of undercaffeinated surliness on her part and what I confess was my less-than-complete success at masking my lack of enthusiasm for her latest recording. Then I made the mistake of asking her about contemporary music. It was a fairly bland conversational opening, but it drove our heroine into high dudgeon as she proceeded to explain to me why the very concept was out of the question.

"Did you know," she said, sitting suddenly erect and fixing me with a gimlet glare of indignation, "that John Cage wrote this piece called In C? And what it is, is two players come out on stage, and they both play a C for as long as they can, and the one who holds it the longest wins!"

"Well," I suggested a little timidly, "I'm not sure that's exactly —"

"No," she insisted, "believe me, that's what the piece is."

At which point I yielded, deciding that education was not what the moment called for. Instead, I offered a silent prayer to the minimalist gods that this artist and new music would continue to tread separate paths — which, for the most part, is exactly what they've done.


At 2/21/2007 5:25 PM, Blogger Alex Ross said...

Give us a tiny hint, Josh...

At 2/21/2007 5:51 PM, Blogger Joshua Kosman said...

Sigh. I wish I were one of those highly principled journalists ready to go to jail rather than divulge privileged information. Failing that, I envy La Cieca's god-given gift for crafting the perfect blind item.

Instead, I'm a journalistic roundheel; all you have to do is ask. It was Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.

At 2/22/2007 10:25 AM, Blogger Garpu the Fork said...

And people wonder why I do mostly computer music these days...sadly I can't say it surprises me. When I was in the violin performance track, I wasn't encouraged to study much music beyond the 19th century warhorses. Neo-classical Stravinsky was pushing it.

At 2/22/2007 8:25 PM, Anonymous Marc Geelhoed said...

Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, always ready to tell it like it isn't.

At 2/23/2007 12:31 AM, Anonymous A.C. Douglas said...

Good ol' Nadja. Not much of a fiddler as first-tier concert fiddlers go, but right up there at the top at calling a spade a spade.

Good on her!


At 2/23/2007 12:57 AM, Anonymous A.C. Douglas said...

Oops. Read Nadja's response a little too fast.

Never mind.



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