What does Mark Twain have to do with Classical Music?

When I began putting together this newsletter, it was to be with musings inspired by Enrique
Fernandez's reflections on the viability of classical music. Then I realized that this is the last NEWSletter of the year, and I owe you a recap of the 2012/13 season.

Live performances
4 Concerts. 3 Salon Concerts in Miami. 1 Salon Concert at Steinway Hall in New York. 24 Competition Recitals. 13 School Concerts.

New Works
Commissioned by the Dranoff -
Gabriela Lena Frank, Seis Cantos del Campo

Commissioned for the Dranoff Competition -

Shelly Berg, Mary and Martha Meditation, by the St. Martha Concert Series
Jerome Moross, The Last Judgement, by Susanna Moross Tarjann

8 duos from 7 countries made it to the Miami Semi-Finals.
Seen and heard by over 4,000 people live and via live streaming

Knight Foundation Grant
We received a Knight Foundation Grant, matched by Steinway & Sons, to fund the radio series produced by WFMT Radio Network.

The Power Of Two
The radio series on the 12th Dranoff 2 Piano Competition premiered during November on Classical South Florida.
100 radio stations nationwide will air the series.Total listening audience is expected to exceed 20 million.

Piano Slam 5
Live concert performances for 9,000 teens. 1,300 Poems submitted. 17 winners on stage at the Piano Slam event at the Adrienne Arsht Center for Performing Arts.
The Poetry Jury Chair was the McArthur Genius Award winner, Tarell Alvin McCraney.
Please read about Piano Slam on our website

Corporate Sponsors
Bacardi USA, Fidelity Investments, The Betsy Hotel South Beach and Withers Transport & Storage joined Steinway as major corporate sponsors of the competition.

New Board Members
We welcome to our board -
Jeff Feldman - Partner, Feldman Gale
Joseph Fernandez - President, Florida East Coast, NYC Mellon
John De Leon - Partner, Chavez Leon PA
Dr. Marc Lippman - Professor, Miller School of Medicine
Patricia Neal - Vice President, Corporate Communications, Bacardi USA

Latin American Tour
The winners of the competition will be presented in the following cities during the 2014/15 season:
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Sala Cecilia Meireles
Sao Paulo, Brazil - Sala Sao Paulo
Lima, Peru - Gran Teatro Nacional
Buenos Aires, Argentina - Teatro Colon
Montevideo, Uruguay - Teatro Solis
Mexico City, Mexico - Bellas Artes
Bogota, Columbia - Teatro Julio Mario Santo Domingo

This is why the Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation exists - to provide young performers the opportunity to develop their careers. Competitions play a big role in successfully leveraging their talent, their dedication and their hopes, but they cannot be the end-all. It is equally critical to provide the artists exposure through concerts, recordings and new compositions. Their own ways to interpret existing works keeps music alive; we as audience benefit by having our ears awakened to new approaches, and to new works.
I believe we have fulfilled our mission last year.

But we could not have done this without your interest, your support and your loyalty. Thank you from me personally, and from everyone part of the Dranoff organization! It was a great season; let us look forward to an even better one beginning with the concert this Sunday, December 8.

Warm regards,

Gabriele Fiorentino

Now, what about Mark Twain?

Enrique Ferndandez based the title of his musings on the viability of classical music on the irascible Twain's quote: "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated". This piece has lead me to my own musings on musical inventions and improvisations.

The recording industry has very much contributed to the idea of "the defining performance" or "the perfect sound", especially in the realm of classical music. This has had the effect of creating rigidity in much of teaching, and in audiences' expectations.

It fits in with much of our post-industrial society; we are so removed from nature that we tend to push aside the awareness that constant change means life. The temperate in our homes is set to a temperate seventy something. When we peel back the lid to our yoghurt, we know already its consistency and sweetness. The preferred news delivery system is set on our desktop; if the news vary, at least the format and commentators don't have to. Humans are hard wired to look for predictability. We like our comfort food, comfort symbols, comfort music. However, to be
alive and well , we must open ourselves to the uncharted, to the unfamiliar, to the new - even in how we experience the Arts. There has to be invention and improvisation to be vibrant.
Where do you go if you cannot experiment?

To find experimentation with sound, one does not have to venture into atonality, jazz, Noh operas or tribal dance. One of the greatest improvisers was Johann Sebastian Bach. And his music remains relevant hundreds of years later, ever re-discovered by the personal dedication of young musicians and composers. They need us to accompany and to encourage them in their experimentations. Taking such risks is crucial to their careers, and to music in general, and it is beneficial to our ears.

Let us enjoy the perfection of surprising discoveries. Or, to quote Mark Twain once more: "Name the greatest of all inventors. Accidents."

The rumors of the death of classical music are greatly exaggerated
by Enrique Fernández

The argument that classical music is dying because young people are hooked on the cacophony of popular music is naive at best. Not only can classical music be as cacophonous as rock or hip hop, but even more so; thus, one has to admit that only a few can sit through a concert of atonal music -- which is really, really old by now! In fact, I've found that the fans of avant-garde classical music are approximately of the same mindset of the fans of extreme rock forms like -- already old but not as much -- punk.

All of this is to say we need to look at the roots of the alienation that steers a public away from classical music -- and related arts like ballet. Classical music is European as jazz is American, i.e. one can think of it as starting out somewhere but eventually belonging to the world, or, the narrow version, as belonging to not just Europe but a tight bit of it. An American inferiority complex about the so-called Old World has made us reverential about this music, while we know that in its birthplace the performance of classical music could turn into mayhem or idol worship -- booing and even throwing stuff at performers or fights in the audience (now that's rock'n'roll!) on the one hand, or asking a popular singer to repeat an aria or even sing arias from other works in the middle of an opera, on the other.

However, the big alienation is class. Ownership of classical music is class-bound: Rich donors, upper middle-class to upper-class concertgoers, codes of dress and behavior that hail to earlier ruling-class codes. Really, who wears tails these days? Why, the guy with the baton, maybe the whole orchestra. (That said, I do not advocate a relaxation of a dress code, and, in fact, I would urge concertgoers to make an effort to look presentable, I mean, there's nothing wrong with putting on the Ritz.) And finally, the disintegration of traditional attitudes toward classical music -- or the arts in general -- has its seeds in modernism. The radicals of classical music, like their contemporaries in the other arts, were tearing down their own media when the last century dawned. There is no respect for classical music anymore, you say? Actually, there's no respect for anything at all. And who began the disrespecting? Oh, I don't know. For the sake of argument we could say Stravinsky. But you can name your own rebel with a cause. (I'd name Picasso and Joyce.) We live in the world we live in. "In an old chaos of the sun", as Wallace Stevens wrote. "Unsponsored, free." Lamenting the chaos may be cathartic, but it doesn't advance the cause of music. Seizing the freedom implicit in the chaos is much more admirable.

Enrique Fernandez is a blogger, journalist and writer focusing on the arts.
He has joined the Dranoff as our Media Consultant.

by Meghan Brachle

One of the most interesting things about going to a Dranoff event is having the opportunity to experience a form of chamber music that does not often get programmed. As ensemble musicians, the duo members have a very unique way of communicating their interpretation of each piece they perform, down to a single note.

To learn how to properly play music on any instrument, a certain amount of information is needed. Note value, the amount of time a note is held, is one important aspect, and just as important is the value of a rest - the silence in between the notes. If a note is not held for the full value, or held longer than the full vale, it can change everything.
On a deeper level, you have to figure out which notes to emphasize. The notes on downbeats are played differently than the notes on upbeats. Some notes lead you to the next note, some notes finish a thought. Add a tiny dot or dash above a note, and you have something drastically different than before.

Think about how much thought the duo has put into every single note they play. Imagine the words to the conversation they are having with you.

Meghan Brachle is a flutist and member of the Chrysalis Chamber Players. She joined the Dranoff as Outreach Coordinator.



Steinway & Sons World Federation of Int'l Music Competition The Dranoff Twitter The Dranoff Facebook