The violinist Ruggiero Ricci died today at the age of 94. The passing of any great musician is always a sad day for me. Not only was Ricci a legendary performer with an amazing sense of technique that showed through his performances of Paganini and other extremely difficult works, he was also an outstanding teacher.
Posts from the ‘News’ Category
The London Daily Mail reports today that the London Symphony Orchestra, which is scheduled to appear at the London Olympics opening ceremony, has been asked to fake their performance at the event. Every orchestra musician fakes their way through a difficult passage if they haven’t prepared enough, but to ask an entire world class symphony orchestra to purposely fake their way through a performance in front of a billion people, that’s something entirely different.
Reports from London state that organizers are concerned that bad weather and poor acoustics of the Olympic Stadium — a bowl-shaped facility with seating for 80,000 — could make a live performance too risky.
It’s amazing to think that just 20 years ago, Milli Vanilli was flayed alive for being caught in the act of lip synching. But since then, it’s become common practice at the majority of pop singing performances, even if it’s the judge of a national singing competition. My guess is that this is thanks, in part, to music executives who think everything has to sound “perfect” and come pre-packaged. Playing a live performance risks, god forbid, making a couple of mistakes and showing that people are indeed human, which in my opinion is a much better experience. I prefer soul over plastic.
Regular musicians, those that teach and freelance, do not have a lot of options when it comes to health care coverage. If one is a member of the local union, one can spend hundreds of dollars a month to get a plan through their local chapter. Considering that a musician doesn’t earn that much money per month compared to other occupations, that is a huge chunk of their earnings. And after other immediate necessities are paid for, there is little left, if anything, to put into savings. And many choose not to buy health insurance at all. I myself, in my short career as a freelance musician, opted not to buy health insurance at that time and am lucky nothing happened in my “healthy” 20s. But for those who are in their later years and near retirement, their risks increase exponentially as each year goes by.
Many orchestras have gone out of business, thus flooding the freelance market in those cities. And with an orchestra’s demise, so goes a musician’s health care plan. Not only is this disastrous for the music world in general, as less and less people enter the profession, thus diminishing the quality of music and arts overall in this country, but it is devastating for those musicians that are near retirement or are at an age where it is too late to make a career change.
NPR has an interesting report of a health clinic in New Orleans that treats musicians in the area. It’s not much, just two exam rooms and some office space at the LSU medical school. That’s not a lot of coverage for the number of people they need to treat, not to mention treatment that may be needed for more serious diseases and conditions.
Many of the performers don’t have health insurance, so when they need a tuneup, they get care from the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic. It’s one of a few health centers in the country that provide care exclusively to artists.
The clinic is really just two exam rooms and a couple of offices within Louisiana State University’s medical school. But through grants and donations, and with the support of the larger hospital, the facility helps 2,400 New Orleans musicians with everything from the flu to slipped discs to, well, work-related injuries.
If the Supreme Court allows the Obama health care law to stand, more options may be on the way for these musicians. If not, it could be many more years in the wilderness.
While I’m sure the original foreign buyer of the auctioned off manuscript to Benjamin Britten’s ‘Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ might disagree, I think it makes sense for England to have a law that allows a two-month period of time to match an offer in order to keep an object of significant historical importance within the borders of the country it represents.
The British Museum has a very impressive collection of musical manuscripts with works ranging from all the classical world’s major composers. It is the proper home for a piece like this. If you are ever in London, it’s a must see, in addition to the rest of the museum.