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 “Guess who this trunk used to belong to?” asks Glenn Dicterow, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, as he leads me through the backstage rooms and hallways of Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall; his home away from home, only a New York block away.

We are standing in front of a huge antique – or at least old fashioned –weathered-looking black trunk, impressively marked with travel stickers indicating its many different destinations.

“…..long history with the New York Phil…” he coaxes me into guessing the celebrity, whose travel companion the trunk had been before it was given to Dicterow, to hold the concertmaster’s possessions on his trips with the orchestra.

“Yes, you guessed right.” He turns back to me, “It’s finished with a red velvet interior and belonged to no other than – Leonard Bernstein.”

Since he joined the New York Philharmonic as concertmaster in 1980, Dicterow has played first fiddle under the preeminent Maestros who have served as the New York Philharmonic music directors’ guest conductors from around the world, and leading soloists.

Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel and now Alan Gilbert…. Here is a true collective of all singular personalities, with different temperaments and musical expectations. It can’t be an easy task to appease all of these charismatic leaders and keep one’s own integrity, leave alone one’s own sanity.

 Yet, thanks to his remarkably generous spirit, it seems that Dicterow has managed to do just that, highly successfully.

On the faculty of the Juilliard School and as acting chairman of the innovative Manhattan School of Music ‘Orchestral Performance Program’, Dicterow also follows his other vocation: Music Education.

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Innerviews: Music Without Borders
(Extraordinary Conversations with Extraordinary Musicians)
by Anil Prasad
Abstract Logix Books; 315 pages, Published 2010

Anil Prasad has covered music on the internet longer than practically anyone. He started the website Innerviews in 1994, well before blogging, social media, and a host of other technological changes. The web has changed remarkably over the past sixteen years, but Innerviews has remained a consistent and engaging part of the internet’s musical life.

Prasad regularly publishes interviews with musicians from a plethora of genres: jazz, fusion, funk, prog, world music, electronica, etc. Innerviews the book collects some of his most noteworthy conversations with a diverse yet distinguished assortment of musicians.

Each chapter is devoted to a different artist (24 in all). Interviewees include Victor Wooten (who also writes the book’s foreword), John McLaughlin, David Torn, Björk, McCoy Tyner, and David Sylvian.

(True, the emphasis is on jazz, world, and popular music, but even the most classically oriented of Sequenza 21’s readers will likely find plenty here that speaks to the lives of concert music artists as well).

Prasad sets up the interviews with lengthy introductions, detailing the artists’ biographies and respective career trajectories. The interviews themselves feature discussions of creative process, musical inspirations, and approaches to performing and recording. Happily, Prasad avoids the sensational (PR-induced) talking points that are so often found in many recent “press interviews.” He instead favors affording the artists a more open-ended conversation, and the chance to  share in depth observations about the music itself.

There’s another key component of every Innerviews interview that’s worth mentioning. Prasad doesn’t shy away from the interior life of creative artists, asking each musician to describe their spiritual journey and how it relates to their musical experiences. It’s refreshing that this open-ended line of inquiry elicits such a variety of responses. It appears that, much like the panoply of musical styles referenced in Innerviews, the question of spirituality inspires in artists an abundance of creativity.

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Arnold Schoenberg

Arnold Schoenberg

Actually it goes to 12, and yes, he is working on another parody of Brown’s to be called, The Lost Chord. I hope you enjoy THE SCHOENBERG CODE by Dick Strawser. Chapter 12 should be out very soon, unfortunately Dick was in a car accident and is on the mend.

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Up and running for a few weeks now, The Cereal List blog/website attempts to goose the arse of the always-just-a-little-too-sacrosanct classical music world. Run by the shadowy “Milton Blabber”, “Randall Scandall” and “Miss Information”, the blog’s posts have their share of flats mixed with a few good sharps. Though some jabs have veered just this side of awful or even libel, when they get it right, with such gems as “Generate a New York Times Review of your Work“, they’re pretty spot on. My current fave though, has to be “How to Design a Classical Music CD Cover”:


Whoever they may be, and as low as they may occasionally go, it’s obvious that these are people who are definitely active  in “the scene” and know their target intimately. It may not be the first place I’m going to check each morning, but I don’t see much wrong with trying to knock a few bricks off the Temple of Art.

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