S&H Editorial January 2001

Seen&Heard enters its third calendar year having developed pragmatically, as anticipated by the team which launched it originally.

Our biggest disappointment has been the paucity of feed-back from these islands, as against gratifying endorsements from abroad (two of our international reviews have been published in festival books, and one festival signalled recognition of the value of S&H by paying for our accommodation).

We know how many of our pages are opened, but not by how many different people. We do not know who you are, where you live and how you use S&H and MotW?

Do you share our eclectic, (nearly) omnivorous musical interests? Do you skim reviews or print out our reports? Do you prefer brief reviews, or long ones - which are possible only on the Web? Do you welcome the numerous illustrations and explore the links, which are added laboriously by our indefatigable Webmaster, Len Mullenger, to enable us to widen our reading?

Some of our volunteer contributors have moved on to different (and more lucrative) writing, others have joined us and contributed on their particular interests in more or less frequent offerings. Every review submitted has been appreciated and read with great interest - it is well recognised that setting time apart to travel to musical events, and afterwards writing about them, can make inroads upon available time in busy lives.

Marc Bridle has proved a constant support, organising press tickets at some major London venues, and sub-editing and processing contributions as needed, especially whilst the editor and his indispensable, perceptive wife have been away covering events out of London and abroad. Festivals featuring contemporary music in Europe and across the Atlantic have been surveyed in depth.

Marc has been joined in one of his special interests (the assessment of conductors and concerts with major symphonies from the mainstream 'canon') by a fellow spirit in Philadelphia. HE, another London-based writer, has brought her inimical style and wit to us with news of the operatic scene in San Francisco. AW has applied her analytic mind to bear upon music theatre and opera, so that the Seen component of our title has assumed greater prominence than envisaged at first, with reports of opera productions in UK and major European cities. There has been a good representation in S&H of Sondheim and Dove; the combination of Sight with Sound has also been reflected in reviews of (live) cinema music, and in Music on the Web with the arrival of DVDs. We endeavour to explore angles which may be missed by the British paper press, whose critics remain restricted for space.

AW & PGW have been influenced in preparing our joint (and usually surprisingly harmonious) opera reports by reading two books, which we commend unreservedly. Believing in Opera by Tom Sutcliffe (Faber & Faber) is a compendious study of the innovative approaches, conservative backlash, tensions and controversy which have surrounded the revolution in opera production, and we found it articulated many underlying attitudes which had begun to inform our reviews.

Performing Rites (Evaluating Popular Music) by Simon Frith (Oxford University Press) is a riveting examination of the critical process, all the more thought provoking because its ostensible subject matter is distanced from the world of classical music. Yet Frith's insights apply equally, both to Music on the Web's predominant fields of interest in the past, and to those of Seen&Heard, which have become distinctly frayed at the edges already, with incursions into jazz and 'hard rock' juxtaposed with a welcome in live performance for a forgotten Victorian English symphony, conducted by one of our newer contributors.

We have also revisited the absolutely essential Criticism by Hans Keller (Faber & Faber), an assault on 'criticism' and all who practise it, which dashes salutary cold water upon any tendency towards self-importance on the parts of members of the 'phoney professions', in which Keller includes music critic and editor!

We also urge you to take the opportunity of a free trial of New Grove 2nd. Edition which we are consulting regularly http://www.macmillan-reference.co.uk/grovemusic/tngonline/freetrial.htm .

The future of Seen&Heard is in your hands! We hope it will thrive; the only certainty is that it will continue to change during the years to come.

For your New Year Resolution, may we ask you to send us a short message to Len@musicweb-international.com with your views About Seen&Heard, addressing the topics raised above, and any others that may occur to you?

A musically Happy and Prosperous New Year at the true Millennium to all our readers and contributors.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Seen&Heard is part of Music on the Web(UK) Webmaster: Len Mullenger Len@musicweb-international.com

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