Getting to Know Our Artists, Part II

By Brian Potter on January 18, 2010

Earlier in the season I touted artivsts' blogs as a great way to get to know some of the musicians on our series.  In doing so I previewed artists appearing during the first half of our season and promised to explore the second part in a subsequent post.

If you're a piano enthusiast, I highly recommend Jonathan Biss's blog, which features practical tools (including links to podcasts) and wonderful insights into this young artist's process.  By turns serious (opining on the challenge of program building, reflecting on Schubert and maturity) and hilarious (particularly a conversation with a piano-hating cab driver), Biss's blog is a real treat (even if he acknowledges that sleep and practice often win out over blogging).  Biss appears with Richard Goode on February 4 at the Perelman Theater in a special recital for two pianos.

Among other keyboard masters, Emanuel Ax (appearing February 8 at the Perelman) maintains a blog that, while sparsely populated, offers a handful of choice posts, including a refreshing take on spontaneous applause (which Ax wholeheartedly encourages, even when it comes between movements).  Yefim Bronfman (performing April 9 at the Perelman) has an as-yet-unrealized blog, Fima's Corner, that promises "musings from the road" alongside currently active links to the artist on YouTube, Flickr and Facebook.  And while not blogs per se, the young pianists Simone Dinnerstein (appearing March 7 at the Art Museum with the Chiara Quartet) and Andrius Zlabys (performing March 25 at APS) maintain richly informative sites offering a variety of audio and video clips.

Among the quartets upcoming on our series, the Orion Quartet's site is the most engaging, offering restaurant reviews and a montage of Orion sightings alongside a solid array of info.   The Orions appear at the Perelman on February 12 with Ida Kavafian and Peter Wiley.  The Jupiter Quartet (appearing April 11 at Seaport) has a photo blog as well as audio samples on its site, and the Chiara Quartet (appearing March 7 at the Art Museum with Simone Dinnerstein) just launched a blog last month with a post full of winter travel tales.  The Miro and Belcea Quartets (appearing March 28 at APS and April 29 at Seaport, respectively) don't yet blog, but the great audio/video material on their sites is a fine consolation.

Soovin Kim's photoblog has been dormant for a while, but he's an excellent writer, and if you caught his 2008 appearance with Mitsuko Uchida and musicians from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust, there's some great material on that.  His return to the Perelman Theater happens on May 4.  Violinist Jennifer Koh's site features a couple of video clips with insight into her process (she appears at APS on February 23), and there's some great stuff -- including video and sound samples -- on jazz drummer Brian Blade's site too.  Blade, along with the Fellowship Band, tears up Gershman Hall on March 26.

But the best blog of all belongs to John Adams who, besides being America's best contemporary composer, may also be its best composer-blogger.  His blog, Hell Mouth, provides great insight into the composer's world, taking us not only backstage but also foraging through California forests and eavesdropping on conversations with a curiously-named neighbor/alter ego.   Delve into Adams' online musings, and you'll almost certainly be intrigued enough to want to see him conduct the Philadelphia premiere of his Son of Chamber Symphony on May 9 with Ensemble ACJW.