GUEST ROOM | How Classical Music Became a Commodity

Guess who’s been topping the charts in the iTunes classical section — The Piano Guys. I can’t be the only one that picked up my phone and frantically googled when I found out that The Piano Guys would be playing Trump’s inauguration. I didn’t know who they were, but with millions of YouTube hits and the word “piano” in the name, I was intrigued. I watched the dramatic music video for “Beethoven’s 5 Secrets” — a mash-up of OneRepublic’s brief hit and Ludwig’s famed fifth symphony — and understood the appeal. Classical music, packaged for easy listening.

Pop Music's Provocateurs

Pop radio is brainwashing the ears of America. I don’t care how many times you’ve heard it; the music heard on the radio and advertised as mainstream is, more often than not, a dirtied reflection of only the tiniest, most insignificant percentile of actual musical output. Regardless of our inability to change the airwaves, however, it’s easy to stop plugging your ears with the synthesized plastic of music’s darkest dregs.

Student Artist Spotlight: Ian Goldin '12

Loquacious in personality and modest despite his numerous achievements, Ian Goldin ’12 has experimented with nearly every musical instrument designed, plays in the Percussion Ensemble, sings in the Cornell University Glee Club and is a member of The Hangovers. And if that wasn’t enough, he’s also recently been elected Musical Director of The Hangovers, a rare honor for a freshman. As he begins by quipping “Ian Goldin needs a haircut; make sure you put that in!” this “Superhero” talks about his interests in music and what it means to be a member of The Hangovers.
Sun: Ian Goldin the Superhero. Tell me how you got that title?

The Sound of Strings

On Sunday afternoon, the iO String Quartet — a New York City-based ensemble whose self-proclaimed interest is in “finding a common aesthetic vision between the works of the past and the works of today” — played to a near-capacity crowd in Barnes Hall, following their week-long residency here at Cornell. The iO Quartet was formed in 2005, and is comprised of four enterprising musicians with degrees from prestigious music schools — Christina McGann, violin, Stephen Miahky, violin, Elizabeth Weisser, viola and Christopher Gross, cello. Since its inception, the group has played around the world, presided as the 2006-08 Billy Joel Graduate String Quartet in Residence at SUNY Purchase, won several awards and undertaken the “iO: inside Out Chamber Music” concert series.

Student Artist Spotlight: Adrianne Ngam '13

A self-confessed “music nerd”, Adrianne Ngam ’13 loves to find humor in every little thing she does, be it playing doo-wop beats on the cello or designing a soaring skyscraper, and considers music more personal than professional. Sitting across a table in The Green Dragon, every architect’s favorite hangout spot, this winner of the fifth annual Cornell Concerto Competition and guest performer at the Cornell Symphony Orchestra’s recent concert talks about her passion, her profession and their confluence.
Sun: What was it about the cello that attracted you?

Rock and Rollin' Mozart

The Shanghai Quartet visited Bailey Hall on Saturday for a riveting performance that had some of the rough-and-tumble feel of a rock concert. To open the performance, the quartet took on Mozart’s String Quartet in D minor, K. 421, setting an elegant yet chipper tone for the concert. They dallied with the first movement’s lightsome runs with a tempered gusto. In the Andante that followed, however, the quartet attacked a dark counterpoint, allowing it to well up with an unexpectedly inward melancholy. When the counterpoint motif came back, they erupted in a startling, hall-reverberating crescendo that brilliantly shattered the remaining façade of delicate composure the piece had initially created.

High Times with Haydn

The Juilliard String Quartet, the granddaddy of American string quartets, played an all-Haydn program in Bailey Hall on Sunday. To hear such a vaunted group whose renown is based on their precise, graceful style perform the works of a composer who is the epitome of precise, graceful classical music is less to hear an interpretation per se than to feel definitively transported. How does one measure the standard itself, as if one sought to niggle with the canonic metric rule locked in its bank vault in Paris?