Still trippin, still dippin: the CDA mailer

Despite the best efforts of tax officials of five separate countries, Interpol, and a host of organizations either offended or specifically targeted by CDA, the Classical Dark Arts mailer continues its circulation amongst a weird, worldwide audience. If you sign up you’ll receive a missive one Saturday every month. In it you’ll find classical goodies that make perfect fodder for cocktail conversation, casual elevator chats, pillow talk, or strained exchanges with your parole officer.

Actors at the highest levels of the classical music world want to see the Classical Dark Arts mailer fail! They’re here to legislate it away, to injunct our business dealings and slander our good name at every turn. (Believe me, our self-defeating behaviors render this completely unnecessary.) However, your subscription to the mailer ensures we’ll continue publishing in perpetuity. Sign up, for free, today.

–Will Roseliep

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Street Symphony

Mission statements are a special brand of sadism arts organizations inflict on audiences. They’re as captivating as legalese in a hastily-clicked User Agreement, with all the feeling of a pharmaceutical side effects disclosure. It’s surprising and refreshing, then, when you find a group with a mission that actually means something. Like this:


Street Symphony places social justice at the heart of music making by creating authentic, powerful engagements between professional and emerging artists and communities disenfranchised by homelessness and incarceration in Los Angeles County. Street Symphony operates with the core principle that all people deserve access to a creative and expressive life.

Street Symphony is a group founded by former LA Phil violinist Vijay Gupta. They play shows in jails and shelters, ministering to Los Angelenos who are poor, homeless, or suffering from mental illness. In other words, they bring classical music to people it usually doesn’t reach. If you’re thinking “What a great idea!” you’re not the only one: this year the MacArthur Foundation chose Vijay Gupta as one of its 2018 Fellows.

The point isn’t to show how nice of a concept Street Symphony is, because that’s self-evident. The point is to highlight an “artistic” premise that is replicable and modifiable in any city, at any scale. Head here to read an interview with Gupta, and then start thinking about how this could work in your city.

How the ‘Big Five’ American Orchestras Crawled onto the World Wide Web

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The early nineties were a magical time to be online. You could never predict what you’d come across: dancing text, indecipherable fonts, busted links, page elements all the colors of the rainbow, and grainy photos loading pixel by painstaking pixel. That is, if you were able to get there at all. After the agonizing desktop start-up ritual — a procession of clicks and whirs, the labored whining of vent fans and spinning disk drives, mysterious bloops and beeps — you’d mash the internet icon with too many clicks, await the inimitable sound of a dial-up modem as it called down the line, and then, no small miracle, you’d be online.

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989 as a way to formalize gathering places, websites, on the internet. But what began as a charming haven for coders and explorers morphed into a commercial feeding frenzy for brands and hucksters. The web was particularly well-suited for classical music fans, but like other pursuits it worked even better for marketing and sales. While diehard collectors traded bits of classical ephemera on message boards, every big classical music outfit jumped online to flog tickets, subscriptions, and CDs.

Below you’ll see the first forays onto the web for the so-called “Big Five” US orchestras: the first websites for the Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the Philadelphia Orchestra. These are maybe not the very first images of their sites — the majority come from 1996 onward, and certainly none exist from the web’s inception in 1989. However, they are the oldest remaining snapshots available on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. They are artifacts that remind us, at least from the commercial side, how this all began.

Let’s roll the tape. Continue reading “How the ‘Big Five’ American Orchestras Crawled onto the World Wide Web”