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Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

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September 14, 2005

Grown up responsibilities

Luckily (or not) I am the oldest in my family. My younger sister complained often growing up about teachers calling her by my name or family members expecting her to be involved in the same activities that I enjoyed. Probably equal parts good and bad my reputation preceded her, so my sister set out to be as different from me as possible. I think when many people hear the single name "Midori" they think of the gifted child prodigy who knocked everyone's socks off when she debuted with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 11. Who they should be thinking of, though, is the virtuosic adult violinist who is also a tireless advocate for new music and music education.

Midori's program with longtime friend and pianist Robert MacDonald here is only the tip of the iceberg. She wanted to play some of her favorite pieces—by Debussy, Brahms, Sarasate—but also tucked in there a Romance by Amy Beach. Today, Beach is a well-respected composer, but in her day she was discouraged from performing her music in public by her father and husband. Such a thing would never happen on Midori's watch. She is founder of no less than three non-profits devoted to music education and has recently been working on ways to use media to introduce audiences to new music. This summer while on tour in Asia she wrote a blog about how performers can engage and interact with their audience. What are your thoughts? How can classical performances become more interactive for audiences?

Posted by Suzanne Schaffer at September 14, 2005 12:57 PM



This was fabulous. I always make it a point to listen to St. Paul Sunday, but I am gong to go back and listen to this again (and again). Thank you.

By Lisa Schuttler at September 18, 2005 12:01 PM


I personally believe that one of the hurdles to attracting a wider audience to "classical" music is the assumption that in order to even be considered as a classical music fan, one must necessarily like the music from the formal classical period, 1750 thru lets say 1850. I am a fan of a lot of music by Schoenberg, Kodaly, Rachmanonoff, Stravinsky, William Walton, etc. But the music of Mozart makes me want to upchuck. One should come to a realization that more modern symphonic or chamber music is not heard as often as Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms. And to be a fan of "classical" music does not necessarily mean worshiping the ground that these three walked on.

By Lance Morgan at September 19, 2005 12:34 AM


Lisa -- thanks for writing. Creating the program is a little like sending a message in a bottle! So it's good to know the people we create Saint Paul Sunday for are indeed out there and being nourished by it.

Lance -- I tend to agree with most all of what you write, that composers nearer our own times, those who've sustained classical compositional approaches and applied them to their own present-day experience, are under-exposed and eminently worth listening to. Where we might differ, though, is that part of what I find so compelling about, say, John Corigliano or Kodaly or Schoenberg is how they've reimagined the tradition they inherited from Mozart, Brahms, Beethoven, and before. That connection allows me to experience the music of all of them in a different way.

One explicit example of this from our recent archives is Hélène Grimaud's performance of Corigliano's "Fantasy on an Ostinato" (which you can listen to online here) -- a hypnotic homage to Beethoven's 7th Symphony. I just heard the 7th performed miraculously well by Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra the past weekend, and realized from time to time while listening how Hélène's performance was affecting my own immediate experience of the symphony that inspired it. Thanks for writing.

By Vaughn Ormseth at September 19, 2005 10:54 AM