We are pleased to publish your letters, but cannot include readers' email addresses since this can lead to problems of privacy. All letters should be addressed to me, John Woodford, at [email protected]. In association with Oxford University Press, we are pleased to give away ‘The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music’ (4th Edition, Michael Kennedy) for each month’s most interesting letter. This valuable resource should be on any musician’s reference shelves.
From Carolyn Fairhaven, Winnipeg, Canada.
I agree, and we shall see in a future edition a review of a compilation CD from Nimbus which looks precisely at the educational value of such information. In the meantime, the editorial committee would like you to accept a copy of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music as a prize for a thought-provoking observation. JW
From Edward Johnson, The Leopold Stokowski Society
Point taken! Mr Johnson has indeed supplied photocopies of Stokowskis birth certificate, as well as that of his father and the admissions entry for the thirteen year old Leopold Stokowski to the Royal College of Music. It seems, however, that Stokowski liked to shroud himself with an air of mystery; his mid-European accent, so evident from his film appearances, and his denial of his English birth, are somewhat intriguing. Nevertheless, it is not the man but the music that is here important. Stokowski was one of the all-time-great conductors and would that there were others like him still around; even discs made in his later life show a masterful handling of the orchestra and interpretation of very diverse music. Readers are recommended a further disc from Cala, Stokowski: A French Concert (CACD 0525) which contains one of the most exciting performances of Olivier Messiaens LAscension I have heard. It might not quite fit into the Catholic vein that we are so used to hearing in performance, but is nevertheless powerful and imaginative. JW
From Dave Putson, East Yorkshire.
From Richard Barton, Norfolk.
Whether English cathedral choirs are good or not is not an issue, since what I discussed was written in a different country, tradition and time. That the King’s Consort uses women for its soprano line is perhaps historically inaccurate, but then again, so is the use of modern instruments in some ensemble performances of Baroque music. Where do we stop? Perhaps we shouldn’t make CDs of this music at all, since in Bach’s day the only method of recording it was on paper. We certainly don’t listen to this music with seventeenth-century ears, and the comfort of our front rooms is very different from the seat-less nave of the Thomaskirche! Let’s not get too bogged sown with details—I enjoyed this recording and found the lack of blend in the choir to be individual and not ugly as you seem to imply. JW
From Rebekah Knight, Chester.
We are primarily a journal for professional musicians and teachers, and feel that someone needs to speak out on behalf of the mediocrity that pervades our profession. Obviously, this does not include amateurs, even though they form an important part of English musical culture. However, we cannot condone the dumbing-down of the profession. Highly trained musicians across the globe are, for want of a better word, prostituting their talents just to put food on the table. Many rely on record producers, some of whom are musically illiterate and have no real wish to promote art music-for them it is nothing other than a means of becoming rich quickly. This is not what the graduates of music colleges worked for, and it is unfair to push those who are students into a profession devoid of standards. Performing music is exciting at whatever level, whether it be as amateurs or professionals-let's not make it a drag! JW
From Peter Kennedy, London.
At the moment, we are small fry and despite the interest and belief in our product from the smaller recording houses, some of the larger companies, which generally produce rock and jazz labels, seem to be not very interested in submitting things for review. Some have even said that they want nothing to do with the Internet because what is produced is generally amateurish and of little value - in time, they might come to realise that for many people it is a valuable communications tool. Web publishing is in its infancy and we are breaking new ground in its development. Let's hope they see its potential soon - you never know, we might then be able to expand our reviews section. JW
From Danielle Scheck, London.
I don't like the word 'critic,' since this immediately suggests invective and our editorial team find this terminology negative. Instead, we prefer 'reviewer.' I cannot guarantee that everyone who writes for the MT.co.uk journal is writing fairly, and I am not prepared to question them since they are chosen for their particular knowledge and skills, and I can guarantee that they are all specialists in their particular fields. They are entitled to an opinion, but we require that they focus on a work's merits rather than its weaknesses. Everything has its problems and although it is the reviewer's job to highlight these, we do not believe in wanton sadism. As for our choice of reviewer, we have a policy that only experienced musicians, academics and teachers of standing should write for our pages - we have standards and are careful that each are suitably qualified. Overall, you are reading value judgements. Although these are nothing other than personal opinions, they are a good guideline for people who are looking for new musical resources. I shall forward to you a copy of our in-house policy for reviewing. JW
From Siobhan Knight, Carlisle.
This is a good one! Answers would be gratefully received from any reader who might remember this. Please feel free to use the pages of our Online Journal for any of your queries - it is here for your benefit. JW
From Simon Kemp, Oxfordshire
Many thanks, Simon, for the vote of confidence. As things progress, we are certain that we will be able to bring you more articles, news and reviews. In the meantime, the editorial board are interested in articles on any matter to do with music being submitted. These can be of any length, but if you are thinking of writing one especially for this journal, it might be wise to contact me first at [email protected]. Articles, which can be of any length, should be sent in either rich text or Microsoft Word format and should also be double spaced. It would be useful to know something about the contributor, so please include a few lines of biography as well as (if possible) as scanned photograph. Hard copies of articles or accompanying musical examples, photos, etc., can be sent to the office at the following address:
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