Hilary Hahn & Hauschka ~ Why The Audience Is Polarized

Hilary Hahn and Hauschka at their first live appearance in tandem with the release of their collaborative album Silfra at the Yellow Lounge in Berlin, Germany, May 10th, 2012 (Photo courtesy of Stefan Hoederath)

When artists create the same kind of music consistently, even if it has been identified with the artist or group in some kind of iconic way, there is a natural tendency to want to break from that routine and take a road less-traveled for a fresh perspective. After all, musicians are still human and the tendency to clear their heads is just something that’s practically instinctive. Grammy award-winning violinist Hilary Hahn pretty much did this with the recently-released album Silfra–As a collaboration with indie composer-pianist Hauschka (aka Volker Bertelmann). The album marks not necessarily a big change of pace for him, but a very decidedly different direction for Hahn, and some critics and fans are somewhat divided on both the CD and the live improvisational work they have done to promote it. Continue reading

New York: Cultural Capital of the US (Yes or No?)

There might be cities in the US that have more spacious-sounding halls than Carnegie or Avery Fisher, and in some places there might be even more intimate spots than Joe’s Pub, The Stone or Le Poisson Rouge. Despite these possibilities, for someone like me that can’t travel to LA or other faraway cities, I would say that New York automatically wins for having all of those in one place.

But even more than just classical and new music venues, as you walk along the streets, you are surrounded by culture. You are forever reminded on Times Square about Broadway musicals (By the way, the Tonys are always held in New York). You always see artists selling their work. You always see people busking in the subway (I have seen quite a few inspiring ones, either violin or guitar, and have also seen an a cappella singing group). There’s always people trying to sell passes for stand-up comedy. There’s MTV Studios, and the crowds that come over for Broadway half-priced tickets. Almost every musician I know lives in New York, yet they’re almost always from out of town. You’ll see indie folk in small intimate places like The Bitter End, The Living Room and Cornelia Street Cafe. You’ll see slightly louder bands in places like Terminal 5, Webster Hall, and Music Hall of Williamsburg. Madison Square Garden, of course, for the biggest draws, has been a fixture of the city for 44 years.

Add to this museums (and especially that great design of the Guggenheim) and it appears that New York itself is saturated in the arts. New York’s skyline is even part of the fabric of the city’s cultural profile, possibly even the biggest part of it with those classic skyscrapers.

It gets lots more points for this, too: New York is quite a powerful city. When something as huge as New York was targeted on 9/11, it was obviously big enough for terrorists to mess with in the first place, but to see it thrive so well in the aftermath…that means so much more.

And where else will you see The Naked Cowboy?