Tag Archives | Kevin Purcell

Vale Harold Farberman

Harold_Farberman_2It was with the greatest sadness that I read the announcement of the passing of the American masestro and conducting teacher Harold Farberman last week on Slipped Disc.  In fact, I knew of Harold’s passing prior to the public announcement, but was very pleased that it at least received passing coverage on this Internet platform.  You can read my thoughts about Maestro Farberman’s contribution and advocacy for conductors within the comments section below

This is Harold’s own, personal, biographical summary written shortly before his passing:

Harold Farberman has conducted many of the world’s leading orchestras, among them the London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the BBC Symphony, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Stockholm Philharmonic, the Danish Radio Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Orchestra, the Hessischer Rundfunk, the RAI in Rome, the Mozarteum Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the KBS, the Seoul Philharmonic, and the Sydney and Melbourne Symphonies in Australia.

Upon graduating from The Julliard School of Music in New York, Mr. Farberman was invited to join the Boston Symphony Orchestra as a percussionist/timpanist. At the time he was the youngest player ever to become a full-time member of the orchestra. He resigned in 1963 to devote his energy to conducting and composing. In 1966 he was appointed principal guest conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra, subsequently becoming the music director and conductor of the Colorado Springs Symphony from 1967 to 1970, and the Oakland Symphony Orchestra from 1971 to 1979.

As a recording artist, Mr. Farberman has recorded more of Charles Ives’ works than any other conductor and is the only person to date to have recorded all four of that composer’s symphonies. A a result he was honored with the Ives Award from the Charles Ives Society. In 1980 he began a project to record the Mahler symphonies with the London Symphony Orchestra and the complete symphonies of Michael Haydn with the Bournemouth Sinfonietta, for MMG Records. His recording of Gliere’s Symphony No. 3 with Ilya Murometz with the Royal Philharmonic on the Unicorn label received Belgium’s highest recording award, the Saint Cecilia Award. The December 1993 issue of the American Record Guide listed Mr. Farberman’s recordings of Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 2, 5, and 6 as among the best ever recorded. In 1995, he added to his growing list the initial recording of the Mahler Tenth Symphony (Clinton Carpenter version) with the Hungarica Philharmonie Orchestra.

A prolific composer, Mr. Farberman counts orchestral works, chamber music, concertos, ballet music, film scores, song cycles, and two operas among his compositions. His opera, The Losers, written in 1970, was commissioned by The Julliard School of Music and premiered at Lincoln Center the following year.

Mr. Farberman has been a tireless advocate on behalf of conductors. He founded the Conductors Guild in 1976 and served two terms as its first president; it now has 2,000 members. He established countrywide workshops for young conductors when he served as a member of the American Symphony Orchestra League Board in the 1970’s. He is the founder and director of the widely acclaimed Conductor’s Institute, a summer conducting program initiated at the Hartt School where he was Professor of Conducting and in later years relocated to Bard College.

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And We’re in Planning Mode 2019 –

As we move toward the release of new recordings in 2019, following up on our release of the amazingly successful and critically well-received album, The Orchestral Music of Nan Schwartz released on Divine Art (dda 25165) earlier this year – and which is currently placed in three separate categories for the 61st Grammy Award nominations – I have been researching how we carry out the planning, collaborative execution, and post-recording editing of records that we want to complete going forward whether with the Australian Discovery Orchestra or with other orchestras in Europe.

As part of this work, I have come across the work of Dr. Amy Blier-Carruthers from the Royal Academy of Music in the UK.  This video presentation (ca. 30 minutes in duration) from a conference held at IRCAM in 2015 is quite informative.  It’s rare to see complete conference presentations online available for free (without the rigmarole of signing up/signing in).


Dr. Blier-Carruthers attempts to unravel the dichotomy between perfection in performance (however this is defined) we strive for in recording sessions and the inevitable compromise that can ensue in loss of music-making in the pursuit of those idealogies around perfection. It’s courageous on all levels to pursue this because the commercial imperatives of releasing recordings that are not otherwise “perfect” in all respects is, in my view, currently insurmountable.
Nan_Schwartz_Record
One of the incredible accomplishments in the making of the Nan Schwartz record was that it was made more possible to achieve both audio perfection and nuanced musical peformances, because Nan’s music is so well crafted and written.

This is most definitely not the case most of the time!

It’s in the academic domain, but I warmly recommend this video presentation, as above, to those of you interested in the fast-changing world of classical music recording.

More soon,

Kevin

Why Don’t Conducting Books Talk About The Music?

Riccardo_MutiWell, actually, some do.  I am reminded of Riccardo Muti’s truly insightful commentary in a podcast he did with British music journalist, Norman Lebrecht, in September 2011 (worth tracking down if it is still available on the BBC) wherein the maestro laments the prediliction in the USA toward training aspiring conductors how to ‘conduct the music’ as opposed to how to ‘study the music’.  I’m paraphrasing, but in essence this is the point he makes.

I am reminded of this as I have just finished reading several recently published new books on conducting by American conductors.  One was largely a memoir which I found mostly disingenuous; far too preoccupied with lauding the virtues of a much better known American conductor, and the other, offering an alternative approach to technical aspects of conducting distilled through the concept of ‘beauty’ in music.  The latter book has one or two genuine insights in what otherwise is a slim volume with little to offer.  Worse however than its over concision, is that some of what is espoused in respect to the physics pertaining to gestural motion in orchestral conducting technique is plain wrong. Continue Reading →