Monday, May 16, 2005
Dissing Maazel

Yes, yes, I know that Alex Ross already posted this quote. But what Anthony Tommasini wrote in his article about the controversy surrounding the premiere of Lorin Maazel's opera 1984 by the Royal Opera at Covent Garden is a brilliant observation: "Gifted composers would line up to write a commissioned work for Covent Garden. But Mr. Maazel has bought his way to the top withough having paid his dues as a composer. Typically, the path to a premiere at a leading house like Covent Garden entails writing dozens of songs, often for singers you know well: the best way to learn how to write for the voice. Composing short, effective dramatic works, perhaps a one-act opera. Peddling ideas to small and midlevel companies and often being rejected. Finally, getting a smaller-scale work accepted for performance--on the condition that you will make any suggested alterations and accomodate the whims of the stage director, who may be a musical ignoramus. It is an exasperating but invaluable rigmarole. By the time you get through it and are ready to write a substantive work for a major company, you should have learned the ins and outs of opera . . . And what of deserving composers? They might as well take their place among Orwell's proles."

Robert Lepage, the opera's preeminent director, offered the following foreboding statement: "Maybe this is the future for the development of new operas. If you have the means, you develop your own opera."

What can you say? Money talks. Money makes the world go 'round. Doesn't the political party with the most in their campaign coffers usually win the election? Is Robert Lepage right? Is this the scary future, not only of opera, but of the classical music industry? I'm not so sure that it hasn't been going on for some time now. But since Mr. Maazel's received such harsh criticism for his opera (not to mention his vanity), the issue has finally bubbled to the surface and commanded a bit more attention. If you've got something to say about the topic, why not vent your frustrations in the Composers Forum.
Praised by The New York Times as "an inventive musician . . . fresh and surprising," saxophonist Brian Sacawa has firmly established himself as an important contemporary voice for his instrument. He is active as a soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician throughout the United States and is the co-founder of the new music duo Non-Zero with percussionist Timothy Feeney.

He has given premieres of over thirty works by both established and emerging composers, including Michael Gordon, Bright Sheng, Andrew Mead, Oliver Schneller, Ken Ueno, Beata Moon, Hillary Zipper, and Scott McAllister, among many others. Named the Baltimore CITYPAPER’s Critic’s Choice for Classical Music in 2002, he is the recipient of awards for solo performance from both national and international competitions.

Sacawa's versatile career has led to appearances with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the New World Symphony, Harvard Group for New Music, New Music Brandeis, Bargemusic, and at meetings of the ISU Contemporary Music Festival, World Saxophone Congress, North American Saxophone Alliance, and New England Saxophone Symposium.

Brian holds degrees from the University of Michigan, the Peabody Conservatory, and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, where he studied with Donald Sinta, Gary Louie, and Lynn Klock. He has recorded for the Equililbrium, Naxos, and BiBimBop recording labels.

See Brian's other blog
Sounds Like Now