music, technology & life in pasadena, california

The Rest Is Noise

I don’t know how this one got by me, but Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, lists his picks for top live performances in 2007 and the first one is Esa-Pekka Salonen and the LA Philharmonic’s performance of John Adams’ Naïve and Sentimental Music on January 20, 2007 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Wow!

I wrote about playing this piece with the Philharmonic (see here and here) and the incredible rush it was for both the players and the audience. I happened to meet Alex at rehearsals for the piece, as he was in town gathering material for a subsequent New Yorker profile on Esa-Pekka called The Anti-Maestro.

In October of last year Alex’s book, The Rest Is Noise was published and since then it has been on everyone’s Best of 2007 list. It’s a brilliantly written survey of classical music in the 20th century, all at once fresh and original in a way not usually experienced with books on this subject. I highly recommend it. Also, in a brilliant stroke, Alex has a collection of web pages that have musical examples illustrating the book’s contents chapter by chapter. It’s one of the most interactive, symbiotic and useful examples of pairing traditional publishing with the web I’ve seen that is elegant in its execution; a simple Flash/Java media player that maintains focus on the original page.

Alex will be appearing at the 2008 Ojai Music Festival in Ojai, California on June 6, along with conductor David Robertson and composer Steve Reich for a discussion of new music. I’m looking forward to attending this event while performing at this year’s festival. It’s always a fun and fresh way to start the summer. If you’re anywhere nearby, you absolutely owe it to yourself to come down and check it out.

February 28, 2008 | Link to this entry


Paul Viapiano is a guitarist working in film, television and live performance based in sunny Pasadena, California.

You can email me here.

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