Composer and veteran critic Greg Sandow, whose observations about the future of classical music are based on three decades of his work, will address graduates at the Eastman School of Music’s 83rd annual commencement on Sunday, May 18. The ceremony for students receiving their undergraduate and master’s degrees will begin at 11:15 a.m. in Eastman Theatre.
Sandow completed his undergraduate degree in political science at Harvard University and followed up with graduate studies in voice and composition. He holds a master’s degree in composition from Yale University. After focusing on writing music in the 1970s, he turned to writing about music in the 1980s.
As a critic, Sandow wrote a column on new and experimental classical music for The Village Voice and has written about classical music for Vanity Fair, the Los Angeles Times, Opera News, and other publications. His reviews currently appear in the Wall Street Journal. He has also written about pop music, and is one of the few critics to win a national reputation for both pop and classical reviews, working as chief pop music critic for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and as music critic and senior music editor for Entertainment Weekly. He provided liner notes for CBS and Nonesuch Records; contributed essays to the Metropolitan Opera, Juilliard America Opera Festival, New Music America, and others; and appeared on radio and television.
In recent years, Sandow has refocused on his composing career and taken on work relating to the future of classical music, serving as a consultant or doing special projects for a variety of organizations, including the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra. His influential blog on the future of classic music appears on the ArtsJournal site, at www.artsjournal.com/sandow, and he is writing a book on this subject, releasing drafts of some chapters online, at www.artsjournal.com/greg.
Sandow has studied and collected data on classical music radio stations, ticket sales, concert attendance, and audience demographics. He notes that aging audiences, financial pressure, and competition from popular culture are among the long-term challenges for classical music. But he’s encouraged by the growth in new music performances, the continued entry of younger people into the music business, performance changes that make concerts more interactive, and the entrepreneurship of musicians who seek out audiences in new venues, including the Internet.
Sandow is a member of the graduate studies faculty at Julliard. He also teaches at Eastman, where his course “Classical Music in an Age of Pop” explores the financial and artistic challenges facing the genre.
“Greg has been coming from New York City for the past three years to teach his course through the Arts Leadership program,” said Ramon Ricker, senior associate dean for professional studies and director of Eastman’s Institute for Music Leadership. “The student comments we get are not simply ‘This was an excellent course’ or ‘I really learned a lot.’ They often say, ‘This course changed my life!’ Greg is a thoughtful teacher and a deep thinker. We’re so lucky to have him here.”
A total of 262 candidates for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees will graduate from the Eastman School of Music this year. The ceremony for the Eastman students receiving a DMA or Ph.D. degree will be held at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, May 17, in Eastman Theatre.
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