Arts Advocacy Day 2017

Arts Advocacy Day 2017

Dear Representative Cummings,

I am writing to urge you to support FY17 and FY18 funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The NEA is a critical component in the network of public, private, corporate, and philanthropic support. Total direct grants by the agency are anticipated to reach more than 33 million people attending live arts events through NEA-supported programs. Grants to orchestras build innovative and civically vibrant communities such as ours by supporting arts education for children and adults, providing citizen access to performances, preserving great classical works, and nurturing the creative endeavors of contemporary classical musicians, composers, and conductors.

This Week in Personal History

This Week in Personal History

But there was one person who indefatigably stuck by me at this juncture, at the hour of greatest need. This was the same guy who was the very first to write me to express interest in getting the project going in the first place, all the way back in August 2014. In March 2015 at that coffee meeting, I had to ask him, in the midst of what had become a chaotic environment, where he stood. He told me, "I'm still in. At this point, I feel a moral commitment to help get this thing off the ground." And get it off the ground, we did....

Listen to a Baltimore-Themed Holiday Playlist

Listen to a Baltimore-Themed Holiday Playlist

I recently began contributing to Baltimore Magazine. Here's my first piece:

Wendel Patrick, “Let’s Ride”
The holidays get me thinking about sleigh rides, which, while they weren’t the inspiration for this track, still make me think of “Let’s Ride.” The vintage keyboard sounds alongside spicy drumbeats and clean electric guitars make this a perfect fit for our off-the-beaten-path sleigh ride. When you’re finished, check out some of Patrick’s other projects and collaborations, like the Baltimore Boom Bap Society and Bond St. District.

Symphony Number One: An Introduction

Symphony Number One: An Introduction

In May of 2015 I lead Symphony Number One in our debut concert in Baltimore. Here's an audio essay I posted ahead of our launch:

We think we can better serve the composers we feature by focusing on just one emerging composer at a time rather than lumping all of them together onto one concert. Even trained musicians can get overwhelmed by a multitude of new compositional voices presented on one concert; how can we expect our audience to do any better? When this happens, your memories start to get flattened and you tend to only remember features like special effects, strange instruments, or other novelties, rather than to deeper musical layers.

 

 

 

Remembering Gary Faust

Remembering Gary Faust

After the death of my high school mentor, I wrote a thank you note to a number of influential mentors:

I could keep this up for hours, but I think you get the message. You are some of the most wonderful musicians and humans I have had the pleasure to know and I am just a representative for all of us whom you have touched as teacher, student, mentor, colleague, and friend. You are remarkable musicians and people, all of you, and I owe every bit of whatever small bit of success I've had to you. And if my message doesn't communicate a little bit about the power of band, this video about Gary says it all. 

Performance Design: What is it?

Performance Design: What is it?

Here are a few early notes from my thinking on the topic of performance design:

Performance Design: An interdiscipline which examines and prescribes the tools and methods for designing a performance. Includes those tools under the traditional rubric of “interpretation” (examining manuscripts, historical studies, structural analysis) but also includes music perception fields (music cognition, information theory and neuroscience), programming, venue selection, and marketing.

Conducting Business

Conducting Business

Hi Jordan,

I’m 17 years old and been playing violin for 8 years and piano for 2. I am interested in conducting but I have no idea where to start. I am done with high school so a school orchestra is out of the question for experience. I was hoping you might be able to point me in the right direction or give me advice. 

Thanks
Jamison

“María” Provokes and Penetrates at Le Poisson Rouge

“María” Provokes and Penetrates at Le Poisson Rouge

I occasionally write for Sequenza21. Here's a concert review from a very special concert I attended in 2013:

Greenberg managed to turn the cramped, uncooperatively spare stage to her advantage, projecting into the space a smokey, claustrophobic Buenos Aires alleyway positively dripping with sinful lust and criminality, where “Hustlers, pimps, and devils appear at every turn,” as Greenberg wrote in the program.

 

How We Hear Boulez

How We Hear Boulez

A year before my first Boulez performance, I wrote an essay about what it's like to listen to Boulez in 2009.

...upon repeated hearing, this music does indeed open itself up to the listener. It slowly, reticently yawns forth its secrets to the hearer in unexpected ways. His output is by no means monolithic either, with very thorny yet electric piano sonatas and sometimes breathless long-distance sprints like Sur Incises (cue the linked clip to 4:15 to hear this ‘long-distance sprint’), contrasted by eerily celestial portions of Pli selon Pli and the richly colorful ‘folds’ of the aforementioned Le Marteau.

Law & Form

Law & Form

In my 20's, I was a huge fan of one of America's longest-running television programs. In 2008, I wrote down a few thoughts about it.

I am always astonished at the shear variety. There are, after all, only so many crimes we are interested in watching a show about.  I find myself enjoying, as my fellow blogger pointed out, the ‘how’ of it all.’Isn’t that what classical forms are all about?

Early Orchestral Works by Brahms

Early Orchestral Works by Brahms

In 2006, I wrote an analysis of the early orchestral works of Brahms. I revised it in 2011.

 

Johannes Brahms stands as one of the central-most figures of late 19th century German art music. Brahms was the first true successor to Beethoven in the symphonic tradition, and according to Bozarth, “creatively synthesized the practices of three centuries with folk and dance idioms and with the language of mid- and late 19th-century art music.”1 Some would consider Brahms’s orchestral output to be his most important contribution, and many volumes have been devoted to cataloguing the significant melodic, harmonic, and formal features of his four symphonies. Fewer have been devoted either to the early orchestral works or to the rhythmic and metric techniques employed. 

Beethoven 3: An Analysis

Beethoven 3: An Analysis

Widely acknowledged as one of the most pivotal symphonic compositions in allof western music, the third symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven is, in substance, rarelyagreed upon. Beethoven’s semi-programmatic title, “Eroica,” the extreme size, uniqueformal organization, and developmental history of the work collectively open up toomany variables to allow a singular analytical approach to this work that is mutuallyagreed upon by the musical community plausible, as evidenced by over 200 years of serious efforts to do exactly that. This discourse seeks to give one possible analysis, thefocus being primarily upon the organization of thematic elements that give the work acyclical or “symphonic” quality.

Jordan Randall Smith is the Music Director of Symphony Number One.