Classical music winners at the 59th annual GRAMMY Awards


Here’s your list of GRAMMY nominees and winners. Most of these are classical music categories, but I’m also including fields where classical artists beat non-classical (how nice). For the full list head to the official GRAMMY site.

Winners are in bold. Continue reading “Classical music winners at the 59th annual GRAMMY Awards”


Make it snappy: the best classical music Snapchat accounts


Snapchat is a domain ruled by celebrity royalty like DJ Khaled and Kylie Jenner, as well as engagement machines like Buzzfeed and MTV. There’s a reason everybody’s getting on board: Snapchat boasts a jaw-dropping 8 billion video views per day and rising. It’s the messaging app whose 100 million daily users spend an average of 30 minutes a day using it.

So…. question: with all that action, where are the classical musicians? Continue reading “Make it snappy: the best classical music Snapchat accounts”

Should I be watching ‘Mozart in the Jungle?’


A while back a CDA reader recommended I read Blair Tindall’s book Mozart in the Jungle for a look at the seedier side of classical music. I never got around to it, unfortunately. The book was turned into an Amazon TV series, nabbed Bernadette Peters & Gael García Bernal to star, and turned into a hit for Amazon TV.

But wait — the show’s won a couple Golden Globes, and classical stars like Lang Lang & Gustavo Dudamel have made MitJ cameos? Okay, I’m paying attention. Should I be watching this? Continue reading “Should I be watching ‘Mozart in the Jungle?’”

Hilary Hahn on the unbreakable teacher-student bond

I highly recommend reading violinist Hilary Hahn’s Slate piece about her two favorite music teachers — Klara Berkovich & Jascha Brodsky.

When Mr. Brodsky fell ill at 89, I visited him at a care center. Two nurses brought him to a large room, and he sat at a conference table. I assumed we were only there to chat, but I had my violin with me just in case. Sure enough, one of his first questions was, “Sweetheart, what did you bring to play for me today?” I reminded him of the repertoire I was working on, and he proceeded to give me a two-hour lesson. He leaned forward in his chair, singing examples, shaping my phrasing with interpretive gestures, and interrupting me to offer suggestions and corrections. For Mr. Brodsky, teaching was an unstoppable impulse.

Continue reading “Hilary Hahn on the unbreakable teacher-student bond”

Kid ‘n Play present: a classical music house party

Groupmusers Christopher 'Kid' Reid and Christopher 'Play' Martin.
Groupmusers Christopher ‘Kid’ Reid and Christopher ‘Play’ Martin.

Saturday night I attended a classical house show in Brighton, MA. The event was put on by Groupmuse, a service that pairs classical performances with  audiences keen to hear good music in a low-pressure situation (e.g. somebody’s house).

Groupmuse organized the event. Hosts volunteer their house or workspace for a performance. Musicians sign up to play, and once a program is agreed upon an event is created.

The enticement.
The enticement.

Groupmuse users (Groupmusers?) can then agree to attend, although nothing is confirmed until you get this guy:


Setting aside how we feel about emoticons, this email is sure to send a frisson of excitement up your spine. You’re in the club.

After procuring alcoholic beverages and snacks, we drove to Brighton, parked semi-legally, and were greeted at the door by this sign.

Last chance to turn back.
Last chance to turn back.

We navigated a perilously icy driveway, got inside and mingled a bit before the show.

Classical fans in their natural habitat.
Classical fans in their natural habitat.

The two musicians on the evening were violist Mathilde Geismar and bass player Kevin Garcon.

Geismar and Garcon setting up.
Geismar and Garcon setting up.

They were unafraid of having their photos taken.

Violist Mathilde Geismar.
No Fear.

Host Ben Ginsburg offered a few words of introduction, as beers were cracked and phones silenced.

Ben Ginsburg.
Ben Ginsburg.

Then we were off. The program started with some Bach from his Fifth Cello Suite. It was a deep, brooding c minor situation. Garcon started it off before it morphed into a duo.

Kevin Garcon kicking off with some Bach.
Kevin Garcon kicking off with some Bach.

We were also treated to J.M. Sperger’s “Romanze” for viola and doublebass, Sándor Veress’s “Memento,” György Kurtág’s “Signs, Games and Messages” transcribed for bass, and a movement of György Ligeti’s “Sonata for viola” played exclusively on the C string.

The audience dug it.

A cacophony of noise as the hallway erupts in applause.
A cacophony of noise as the hallway erupts in applause.

And the performers seemed pleased themselves.

Sweet victory.
Sweet victory. Notice roomba lurking nearby.

Groupmuse is a non-threatening dose of classical best enjoyed with a (double-)cup of cheer. Right now, the service is only available in Boston and New York. I have a feeling it will expand rapidly as the many imitators crop up.