I've recently moved to Spokane from the Bay Area and after a few months of searching for concerts of 20th- and 21st-century music, I am wondering if Spokane has anything resembling a new music scene. Originally I had hoped for a hot new man and a new music scene, but some dreams never come true. I know I'm spoiled coming from the Bay Area, but this is ridiculous!
-- Frustrated and Deprived in Spokane
The Classical Goddess is also frustrated and deprived on a number of levels, some of which are not the concern of this column. That being said, I will focus my remarks on the sorry state of new music in our fair city and suggest an active fantasy life as a survival strategy. You have moved from a Mecca of new music to a "great place to raise a family." I have not figured out why being a "great place to raise a family" can't also be " a great place to hear new music." In one of my more sweaty fantasies, that motto is changed to "A Great Place to Raise a Family Because New Music Flourishes Here." Hmm...
My fantasy continues with the Chamber of Commerce supporting this motto by commissioning a new piece each year based on one of our regional mottos. "Near Nature, Near Perfect" could inspire an outdoor venue with an unusual combination of instruments depicting the cruel juxtaposition of East Sprague and Dishman Hills. "The Inland Empire" may suggest to composers the life of local emperors like the Cowles family or Phil Harris. (Nepotism Tango, anyone?).
My fantasy reaches its peak when the Spokane Symphony creates a Contemporary Music Group affiliated with the Symphony, as is found in many other symphonies throughout the country. Your fantasy life right now probably centers around returning to the Bay Area and your chic and pasty-faced little friends, but before you give up all hope of adventurous programming in Spokane, see below for a upcoming glimmer of daring.
Dear Classical Goddess,
I read about an upcoming festival here in Spokane that will celebrate the Moldenhauer Archives. I'm kind of an archive and museum junky, having visited the Banana Museum in Washington, D.C., (www.bananamuseum.com), the Spam Museum in Minnesota (www.spam.com) and lots of archives at libraries and museums online like the Navel Fluff Museum (www.feargod.net/fluff.html) and the archives of Toast Portraits of Famous People (www.mauricebennett.co.nz). I'm also a collector of lampshades from April 1906. What can you tell me about the Moldenhauer Archives? What is a Moldenhauer, anyway?
-- Eager in Spokane
That lampshade collection sounds ever so partyish! The Classical Goddess is not sure that the Moldenhauer Archives are in quite the same league as the Banana Museum or the Spam Museum, but as a self-styled archive junkie, you won't want to miss this festival.
So is a Moldenhauer a type of stamp? Coin? Spoon? No. "Moldenhauer" actually refers to Hans Moldenhauer, who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s, arriving in Spokane by way of New York in 1939. Because he was a mountain climber and musician, "Near Nature, Near Perfect" was the place for him! In the 1940s, he founded the Spokane Music Conservatory and began assembling his collection. He and his wife Rosaleen later wrote several important books on Anton Webern, the 20th-century Austrian composer who was the master of musical compression. Experience this "less is more" composer this weekend at the festival. The materials in the archive are now housed all over the world, including at nearby Whitworth College and Washington State University.
Allow the Classical Goddess to be reverential for a moment. These archives are an international treasure. Often described as the largest and finest private collection of musical manuscripts in the world, the archive also includes letters, memorabilia, photographs and other material from 2,100 individuals including composers, performers, writers and philosophers, painters and poets. The collection of music manuscripts ranges from medieval chants to experimental 20th-century music. Even a jaded archive junkie cannot fail to be impressed by the magnitude of this collection.
The upcoming festival, presented by the Spokane Symphony and the Northwest Museum of Arts & amp; Culture, includes four concerts: one featuring the Spokane Symphony conducted by honorary local hero Gunther Schuller, and three chamber music concerts. The opening concert on March 23 will be at the INB Performing Arts Center, and the remaining concerts will be at the MAC.
The Moldenhauer Archives contain a great deal of 20th-century music, and most of the music played during the festival will be from the early 20th century. Some of the music presented is unpublished, meaning you can't call a music store or go online to order it. It's just not available to the general public, so attending a concert where unpublished music is played makes you special. The performance of such rarely played music pleases the Classical Goddess greatly, accustomed as she is to the standard programming of so many symphony institutions. (Think about those two words, "standard" and "institution," and notice how they suck all the air out of the room you are in.) Of course, just to annoy me, there will be one established (yawn) classic (not from the archives) on the opening program of the Festival: Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.
Rare sightings during the weekend will include Eckart Preu at the piano in a set of Brahms waltzes arranged for piano, four hands (two of Preu's and two of Kendall Feeney's) and the return of Kelly Farris for the performance of unpublished works by K.A. Hartmann and Anton Webern, among several other works from the archives performed by members of the Spokane Symphony.
The Classical Goddess applauds this collaboration of the MAC with the SSO and hopes that future such festivals and collaborations are in the making. If the powers that be at the SSO or if anyone else wants to reach C.G. for her goddess wit and error-free observations, you can write her: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Schuller Returns," featuring music from the Moldenhauer Archives, Friday, March 23, at 8 pm at the INB Performing Arts Center. Tickets: $15-$35. Call: 624-1200 or 325-SEAT.
Moldenhauer Festival concerts will take place at the MAC on Saturday, March 24, at 2 pm (music of Strauss, Berg and Mahler) and at 7 pm (Schoenberg's Chamber Symphony, played before and after a discussion by the five musicians), and on Sunday, March 25, at 2 pm (music of Hartmann, Webern and Brahms). Tickets: $7. Call 624-1200 or 456-3931.
"The Invisible Collection: An Exploration of the Moldenhauer Archive," at the MAC through April 8. Call: 456-3931.