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  • On An Overgrown Path: Why Western music?
    could not the Western scientific dogma of the usual talking heads have been leavened with a little Eastern metaphysics Mixing Western and Eastern music in conventional concerts may be a step too far for the BBC at this stage But the off the wall format of Why Music presented an ideal opportunity to present music as a universal language and that opportunity was missed But others with much smaller resources are grasping the opportunity out on the edge of the network a small charity called REEP is working to foster environmental concern and understanding spiritual as well as practical in young people Their work inclused the Shore to Shore Project an exploration of life faith and the environment through a series of activities in England and Morocco The output from the project includes two CDs recorded by early music group Passamezzo and the Sufi Ensemble Mogador from Essaouira in Morocco a town I know well The truly universal music on these CDs is a blend of Moroccan Sufi chant Arab Andalusian and Gnawa chants from Taizé another sacred place I am familiar with 16th century English psalm settings and divisions for the viol and lute REEP Passamezzo and Ensemble Mogador do not have a multi billion pound endowment or cosy relationships with the BBC and Universal Music So their latest CD Shore to Shore Meditations was recorded in just seven hours in St John s Wood Church London in June Which is not a problem as John Coltrane another believer in the universality of music and faith recorded A Love Supreme in one day Shore to Shore Meditations may not be on quite the same level as Trane s masterpiece but it is an impressive endorsement of Percy Grainger s dictum that we need to view the music of all peoples and periods without prejudice of any kind They may be modest in ambition but these CDs from Passamezzo and Ensemble Mogador are one step towards tackling the institutionalised prejudices of the music establishment One featured CD was purchased the other was a review sample Opinions expressed here are mine only and I have no connection with REEP Passamezzo and Ensemble Mogador other than as a recipient of a review CD Any copyrighted material is included as fair use for critical analysis only and will be removed at the request of copyright owner s Also on Facebook and Twitter Posted by Pliable at Thursday October 01 2015 Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels BBC Radio 3 Ensemble Mogador essaouira Max Richter Morocco Passamezzo REEP sufism taize Wellcome Trust 1 comment Pliable said Emily L Ferguson has commented via Facebook Even just incorporating Jordi Savall into the exploration would have been an enhancement but for me bouncing all the usual programming was just a pity 5 54 pm Post a Comment Newer Post Older Post Home Subscribe to Post Comments Atom Chance headlines Loading Search On An Overgrown Path Loading Blog Archive 2016 19

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  • On An Overgrown Path: The original master tapes have been sadly lost
    CD collection is not an anachronistic hoarding of space devouring planet harming plastic objects It is particularly in view of his eclectic musical tastes the latter day equivalent of the medieval monastic libraries that protected our great knowledge tradition from the ravages of marauding tribes Although you would not think so from current media coverage CDs outsell downloads in the US market by a healthy margin and sales of downloads fell 6 in 2013 When Kali Yuga is passed and Spotify Pandora and Beats Music have joined Napster as a footnote in record industry history great music will emerge from the cloisters of CD collections to reclaim its rightful place in the civilised world Also on Facebook and Twitter Any copyrighted material is included as fair use for the purpose of critical analysis only and will be removed at the request of copyright owner s Posted by Pliable at Wednesday September 03 2014 Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels alex ross amazon Beats Music calliope henri dutilleux hmv Napster Pandora scott ross Spotify warner classics 1 comment Halldor said A personal view the fixation to digital solutions in the world of performing classical music continues to be a damaging distraction partly because the economic realities are so little understood or examined Digital streaming has been shown to destroy rather than create financial value in recorded music and when I read comments from music lovers describing how they d rather spend money on the Berlin Phil DCH than on tickets to hear their own local live performances I start to wonder if it isn t damaging the financial value of live performance as well And yet it s received opinion in the sector that digital is the miracle technology that will save the finances of flagging promoters and ensembles though no one can say precisely how It stems from incomprehension I m reminded of the adage about any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic In parts of the classical music sector digital technology is still perceived as a magical pot of gold Just one that no one has yet worked out how to open To be fair plenty of concert and venue managers are very aware that this is not the case Yet major state funders such as the ACE continue to insist over and over on the vital importance of digital digital what exactly is rarely specified the magic word is itself sufficient and expect client organisations to continue making costly sacrifices to that particular golden calf Public money and all the real creative opportunities that it might make possible is being squandered on digital strategies that are at best almost wholly ineffective at worst actually damaging the long term value of the art form that they re supposed to promote As I need hardly tell you 9 52 am Post a Comment Newer Post Older Post Home Subscribe to Post Comments Atom Chance headlines Loading Search On An Overgrown Path Loading

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  • On An Overgrown Path: Classical music sales - separating fact from fiction
    could be livelihood threatening Is classical music fighting the right fight Header photos shows my trusty Thorens TD125 Mk II SME Series IIIS Audio Technica AT F3 turntable set up vinyl sales up 33 and comes from Beethoven pure and simple Any copyrighted material is included as fair use for the purpose of critical analysis only and will be removed at the request of copyright owner s Also on Facebook and Twitter Posted by Pliable at Thursday September 04 2014 Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels alex ross BBC Four TV classical music David Byrne harrison birtwistle max hole Nielsen SoundScan norman lebrecht pierre laurent aimard Spotify 7 comments Philip Amos said Bob there is part of that Guardian article that is of the sort that makes one think of giving up The anonymous BBC spokesperson says that the Proms team and commissioning editor whatever that means have to bear in mind the audience and that newer works are often less familiar to them Had she said such works are less accessible appealing etc to them her words would simply reveal an ignorant assumption and a majestically arrogant one But to say they are less familiar when defending the failure to broadcast them is just inane If commissioning editor means the person who commissioned a new work the participation of that person in the decision not to broadcast said work moves us closer to the surreal Norman Lebrecht s blog is in its entirety as much surrealism as we can put up with in all this 11 13 pm Pliable said Yes Philip I saw that piece of nonsense by the BBC spokesperson Your reminder has prompted a post http goo gl ut5JYZ 8 32 am Lauri D Goldenhersh said For a retired guy living in rural Norfolk you ve done an extraordinary job of making sense of the numbers that Nielsen background is paying off for us Thank you very much for this analysis and particularly the emphasis on streaming Although much blame has been placed on the major streaming outlets esp Pandora for carrying such a limited offering of classical music I suspect you ve hit upon another essential dilemma artists and audiences don t seem to be courting them either They need to hear far more from our corners of the universe so they understand that we re part of the market Perhaps it s just too intimidating for some individuals but classical creators and listeners must take an active role in encouraging Pandora Spotify Last fm and others to include more classical and esp more new music in the mix It must be accessible to have any shot at familiarity We can get in touch with any of these companies through their websites Don t give up as you said we must fight the right fight 7 55 pm Dave MacD said Hi Bob Love the post and I love that you re bringing in some specific numbers However

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  • On An Overgrown Path: Classical music needs wider as well as younger audiences
    that when as a final punishment his ashes were scattered in the Tigris River they recited I am the truth and the waters then started to rise threatening to flood Baghdad Although Al Ḥallāǵ is still viewed by some orthodox Muslims as a heretic he is revered among Sufis for his teachings and as a martyr who retained a compassionate attitude towards his executioners In the West he together with Rūmī and Ibn Arabi is celebrated as the mystical and liberal face of Islam This evening s concert features the premiere of the Palestinian Israeli composer Samir Odeh Tamimi s settings of texts by and about Manṣūr Al Ḥallāǵ Odeh Tamimi was born in Israel in 1970 Having established a reputation playing percussion and keyboards in ensembles specializing in traditional Arab music he moved to Germany in 1992 where he studied at Kiel University and was influenced by contemporary composers such as Lutosławski Nono and Xenakis He has since developed a unique composing style blending Islamic mysticism and the discipline of Quar anic recitation with European instrumentation and avant garde influences Settling in Berlin Odeh Tamimi met the Tunisian writer Ali Mosbah who had translated Nietzsche s Ecce homo and Also sprach Zarathustra into Arabic Their conversations would often turn to the subject of Al Ḥallāǵ though Odeh Tamimi stresses that his interest was not religiously motivated When I say I m not motivated by religion I mean not in the traditional sense I m a spiritual person but not necessarily associated with a particular religion The message of Al Ḥallāǵ he says is beyond the scope of a specific religious community The central idea behind my new piece is that man is defined by his understanding whereas God defies definition Odeh Tamimi is fascinated by Al Ḥallāǵ s personality as well as his poetry and his new composition celebrates Al Ḥallāǵ the mystical deviant as well as Al Ḥallāǵ the great Sufi teacher Elements of Sufi ritual inform Odeh Tamimi s work recalling the secret nightly worship of his grandfather a well known Arab Sufi healer I am truly fascinated not only by the words he says but also by the whole world of music that stands behind them Samā for instance is the Sufi practice of moving meditation the word literally means audition or listening Witnessing the rituals of his grandfather s community in which he would sometimes be allowed to play the drums Odeh Tamimi was captivated by the group as it became completely dissolved in the prayers rhythmic oscillations Repetitive chant therefore features prominently in Manṣūr which is scored for large choir as well as four brass players and two percussionists exploiting the spatial possibilities of the Kollegienkirche The Western Christian tradition is represented in this concert by the music of Hildegard von Bingen and Anton Bruckner Hildegard who was born at the end of the 11th century in the Rhineland town of Bingen is celebrated both as a pioneering composer and an influential mystic From

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  • On An Overgrown Path: Classical music demands some effort from the listener
    been locked in an acrimonious labour dispute at a time when a to quote the New York Times finances are fragile as it grapples with weak box office sales In the Guardian recently Tom Service endorsed the view of Paul Morley whose credentials include successor to Max Hole as Association of British Orchestras conference speaker and Sinfini Music contributor that Today s era of technological fluidity flexibility and almost instant access to an entire world of musical possibility suits classical musical culture better potentially than it does rock and pop This view is shown by recent research to be at the best wishful and at the worst dangerous thinking In May 2014 the results of research by English Touring Opera the Guildhall School of Music and the Barbican into the impact of cinema screenings of operas on attendances at live opera were published this research is to my knowledge the only objective study on this important topic The main finding of the survey was that 85 of audiences that attend cinema screenings do not feel more compelled to see the live opera afterwards This conclusion prompted English Touring Opera s general director James Conway to say A lot has been speculated about the potential for cinema relays to create new audiences for live opera I would love that to be the case but as this research indicates it may be wishful thinking If cinema screenings with all the benefits of high definition visuals and full range 5 1 surround sound do not create new audiences for live classical music what chance is there for the infinitely less engaging streaming to mobile devices At least cinema screenings of opera do not devalue the art form by giving it away But the latest craze of free streaming does Does no one see the irony of industry pundit Norman Lebrecht aggressively promoting a special offer advertising promotion for free live stream performances while also lamenting that the best selling CD in the US sold just 175 copies in a week There is no evidence that giving classical music away attracts a new paying audience but there are good reasons to suggest free music simply attracts a transitory audience for free music Britten was right when he told us music demands some effort from the listener a journey to a special place saving up for a ticket Classical music to go and free streaming are just two symptoms of an artform threatening oversupply epidemic and the classical music industry needs to act quickly before it succumbs to what Kierkegaard described as the sickness of infinitude All my photos On An Overgrown Path are taken on a Canon SX150 IS compact digital camera I prefer this small and convenient camera over bulkier SLR models as it can be sliiped into a pocket and is ideal for discretely shooting the type of photo seen above photography is not encouraged at shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia To avoid contributing to parasitic link whoring the links in this

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  • On An Overgrown Path: The paradox of the Dalai Lama
    followers causing The Daily Beast to hail him as a Twitter rock star while in 1992 he guest edited the Christmas edition of Vogue see below This love affair with Western media is strangely at variance with the concept of ego death anatta which is central to Buddhism and the Dalai Lama is not averse to using egocentric show business personalities such as Russel Brand to front his appearances in the West At least we were spared the despicable Brand in Ladakh instead the headline Western celebrity was the infinitely more enlightened if over exposed Richard Gere as seen in my photo In a media interview the Dalai Lama declared that Westerners are too self absorbed so it is unfortunate that the official promotional material for the Kalachakra teachings seen below resembled a poster promoting the latest album from an ageing rock star This paradoxical preoccupation with self has also been evident in previous Dalai Lamas The spiritual leader of all Tibetans is revered as the reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva the transcedent Buddha of infinite compassion Om mani padme hum is the celebrated mantra of the Buddha of compassion But the role of reincarnation of the Buddha of compassion was in fact self bestowed by the fifth Dalai Lama who around 1650 was looking to beef up his spiritual CV A preoccupation with self is also found in those who surround His Holiness Selfies have become the default tool of 21st century tantric visualisation and so much time is spent on Facebook by some prominent rinpoches abbots of monasteries that it is difficult to see how they have time to fulfill their liturgical duties During downtime at the Kalachakra teachings the talk among Western practitioners was not of how the sangha should react to the escalating Syrian humanitarian crisis but of who would be granted an audience with His Holiness and whether there would be a photo opportunity with Richard Gere In India guru bhakti adoration of the teacher is a recognised condition and in Ladakh there were many Westerners following enthusiastically in the footsteps of Madame Blavatsky Annie Besant and Mary Lutyens One of the flimsy justifications used by the Chinese for the invasion of Tibet was that pre 1950 Tibet was a feudal theocracy and it has to be said there are traces of this alleged feudal theocracy in Ladakh Tourism is now the main industry of the region and the monasteries which have major land holdings are involved not only as tourist destinations but also as infrastructure providers Our hotel in Ladakh was wholly owned and manged by one of the largest monasteries and also under the control of the monastery was a new glamping glamour camping site This offers accomodation in luxurious tents complete with four poster bed and 24 7 personal butler at a cost of 3428 per person for nine nights including flights from London This glamping venture has reportedly some rather opaque connections with the Indian army and the rumour in Leh was that some traditionalist monks and local people were not too happy about it A cliché ridden folklore display was provided by our monastery owned hotel while the pioneering ecology centre created by Helena Norberg Hodge to help preserve the culture of Ladakh is now just a dusty relic Although the wonders of the mountains and monasteries can never be overshadowed there is a real risk that the area around Leh will soon become a giant Tibetan Buddhism theme park Ironically the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism of which the Dalai Lama is the leader started as a reformist movement aimed at restoring the purity of the Buddha s teachings Perhaps the time has come for the reformists to be reformed The PR photo below shows the interior of one of the monastery glamping tents Tibetan Buddhism s paradoxical relationship with the West is reflected in the way the Dalai Lama assiduously courts the Western media but is then remarkably naïve when dealing with it His denouncement of the Dorje Shugden practice although doubtless based on genuine religious convictions was a significant PR own goal While his views on homosexuality again doubtless steered by conviction are not exactly nuanced I quote verbatim from a Telegraph interview Using the other two holes is wrong That interview was given in 2006 and six years later the Telegraph was reporting somewhat perplexingly that His Holiness supports gay marriage The quality of impermanence anicca is central to Buddhism and it can be found in a number of the Dalai Lama s viewpoints For instance he is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and as recounted earlier the teachings in Ladakh were billed as Kalachakra for World Peace Which contrasts with His Holiness close historic links with the CIA In the 1960s the Tibetan government in exile received 1 7 million a year from the CIA the Dalai Lama was a beneficiary of the CIA funding reportedly receiving 15 000 a month from the late 1950s until 1974 Official US government documents confirm the reports and record that the funding was to support political action propaganda paramilitary my italics and intelligence operations But this alliance between the CIA and Tibet s spiritual leader was impermanent and in his 1991 autobiography the Dalai Lama distanced himself from it blaming the Americans for cynical exploitation of the Tibetan cause There is also a paradox in the tantra used for the Kalachakra for World Peace As Donald Lopez points out in his refreshingly sceptical Prisoners of Shangri La Tibetan Buddhism and the West the Kalachakra tells how in the year 2425 the army of the king will sweep out of Shambhala and defeat the barbarians This Buddhist Armageddon which legend tells will restore Buddhism to India and the world and usher in a reign of peace has disturbing similarities to the Chinese invasion of Tibet almost exactly a century before Many followers of the Dalai Lama and some close to him defend this CIA involvement with the argument that His

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  • On An Overgrown Path: On the road to enlightenment
    sculptor Arman in a car crash in Spain in 1989 The work is a homage to Mount Kilash the sacred mountain that in Tibetan cosmology is at the centre of the universe pilgrims to Kailash are said to be able to enter the Buddhist pure land of Shambala from the holy mountain The Tibetan saint Milarepa who inspired Éliane Radigue s Jetsun Mila described how in the vast empty spaces of the Himalayas there is a benign market where the the vortex of everyday life can be exchanged for boundless bliss I travelled to Ladakh to experience the Kalachakra teaching by the Dalai Lama this is a Tantric initiation that uses visualisation and meditation to plant the seeds for practitioner to achieve enlightenment by being reborn in Shambala For those unable to make a pilgrimage to this magical and mythical region great art including great music can be the door to fleeting if not boundless enlightenment But despite received wisdom that door does not open easily As Rabindranath Tagore explains in his poem Journey Home The traveller has to knock at every alien door to come to his own and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end Those wishing to experience the fleeting glimpse of enlightenment offered by Éliane Radigue Trilogie de la Mort and Jetsun Mila will find samples online Of particular interest is a short video of an al fresco performance of Trilogie de la Mort in 2011 at the Villa Arson contemporary art museum in France This is an excellent illustration of how classical music can attract new audiences by knocking at what Rabindranath Tagore describes as alien doors instead of pursuing the discredited dogmas of Universal Music s Max Hole presenting Beethoven s Ninth Symphony with disco lighting and the BBC Aldeburgh Music s Roger Wright reinventing contemporary music as a medley of the Pet Shop Boy s greatest hits Audiences can cope if given the opportunity Also on Facebook and Twitter All photos c On An Overgrown Path 2014 Any other copyrighted material n these pages is included for review or critical analysis only and will be removed at the request of copyright owner s My travel arrangements in India were made by the Tahi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust but any views expressed in this post are strictly my own Posted by Pliable at Monday July 28 2014 Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels Eliane Radique India Ladakh max hole Milarepa Kalachakra Pet Shop Boys Ranindranath Tagore roger wright tibetan buddhism 2 comments Lyle Sanford RMT said Thanks so much for all these photos You have a terrific eye for the camera In some sort of synchronicity my friend Lama Tashi is visiting here from India for the first time in years and coming home from Dulles airport he took a short video as we drove along and I asked him why He said to show people back

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  • On An Overgrown Path: Classical music must return to the edge of the network
    study review or critical analysis only and will be removed at the request of copyright owner s Also on Facebook and Twitter Posted by Pliable at Sunday November 03 2013 Email This BlogThis Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest Labels Emily Dickinson G Willow Wilson huffington post Jason Calacanis Jason Harris Mike Godwin Phillip Stearns Sherry Turkle 4 comments Mark Hodges said This post rings so true The crowdsourcing of the Internet does nothing but promote mediocrity My question to you is what exactly is the edge How do you define it Is it something more organic and natural Is it art for the sake of art purposefully non commercial We have turned everything into a commodity that must be bought and sold and at the same time we ironically have devalued the arts by leveling the playing field with technology To be on the edge suggests that we should unplug or at least be able to function outside the network on some level http pianosheetmusiconline com 2 26 pm Pliable said What exactly is the edge How do you define it asks Mark Robert Lax once said we should try to put ourselves in a place where grace can flow and the edge is where the grace can once again flow in classical music Not grace in the religious definition but grace meaning the power to delight challenge surprise enlighten and transform The self serving commercialism and associated mediocrity that Mark talks about has bleached that grace out of so much live and recorded music The edge of the network is not a place it is an attitude We need to change attitudes within classical music before we can start appealing to new audiences outside it 3 14 pm Elaine Fine said Perhaps the fringe is a better term There s a great a href http ukcatalogue oup com product 9780198166474 do book a about the fringe in popular music by Peter Van der Merwe that I would recommend to anyone near a university library it s really expensive to buy We need to remember that the realm of so called classical music has a wide spectrum of participants Recorded music represents only a tiny bit of what happens when people play music together that is not necessarily of the moment The places where this happens are on the edge Randomly sliding along it comes to mind that popular music is always changing What s in and new is always the thing that people are trying to sell What happens when we play really good music really well is something that people experience generation after generation with the same music We discover and re discover and re discover music all the time playing from the same printed pages much the way we discover and re discover great literature time and again These are things that happen when you are not looking at the world through a computer screen though 7 52 pm Scott said Most interesting

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