Essays on the state of music in general; music education, music in our culture, music in worship.

  • Branca & Theofanidis Symphonies

    This post is as much a philosophical discussion of what a symphony is, or should be, as it is a review of two symphonies, so I’ve posted it under both Essays and Recording Reviews. While I was compiling my list of favorite symphonies and preparing to teach a new course on the symphony, I realized I needed to bring  my knowledge of contemporary (post-Stravinsky) symphonies up to speed. So while accumulating recordings for my library, I began organizing my thoughts around what it means to compose a symphony – what are my expectations when I listen to a work titled…

  • The Star-Spangled Banner

    I have long had two problems with the way many performers sing our national anthem at sporting events. My first concern is a technical one and, in comparison to the second, relatively minor. The seventh line of the first stanza reads as follows: Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave The adjective star-spangled modifies the noun banner, yet virtually every singer these days insists on taking a breath between star-spangled and banner. It shows laziness and is unnecessary; it is improper and no vocal coach would ever instruct their students to do so. Any singer worth listening to should…

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