50 of the best
top websites revisited
About a year ago, the February 2000 edition of Chamber Music America
contained a feature listing the top 50 classical music websites. One year
at 'internet speed' is a long time, and there have been many changes, so
I thought it might be fun, 12 months on, to see how they're progressing,
perhaps encountering a few surprises and making a few detours along the
way. Here goes ...
At 50th place is iSong.com, a site for interactive sheet music,
recently acquired by the Hal Leonard Corporation, and the iSong community
website is being relaunched, but is currently unavailable, so there's just
a place-holding page at the address below.
'You are standing outside one of the most prestigious concert halls in
the United States. This is the original 1891 structure, commissioned by
Andrew Carnegie, at the urging of Walter Damrosch who needed a home for
his Oratorio Society.'
Online since 1996, New York's Carnegie Hall has an attractively
designed site with all you'd expect for one of the world's major concert
venues. Your 'virtual visit' to the hall can include 'Carnegie then and
now' -- a history tour with timeline, a 360 degree navigable photo bubble
of the main hall (needing an iPIX plug-in), and a (non-functional,
when I tried it) Real Audio walkthrough narrated by the Carnegie Hall Archivist
I wonder why such a good site is so far down the list (No 49)?
The comprehensive and official Leonard Bernstein website, as recently visited in Site Seeing, includes
an online tour of LB's studio, the 2001 Bernstein Online Quiz, a store of
Bernstein merchandise (using Amazon.com) and lots of Bernstein news and
events. I can only assume that this site has improved lots in 12 months
... it deserves a higher position than 48.
The Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center (artistic director David
Shifrin) is at 47 -- a site promoting the society's New York concert season,
tours and recordings. Read how it all began with William Schuman, Alice
Tully and Charles Wadsworth, and find out where Brahms meets the Yalloppin'
The Orion String Quartet -- Daniel and Todd Phillips, Steven Tenenbom
and Timothy Eddy -- are based in New York, but have an international reputation.
The quartet formed officially in 1987. In addition to the expected news
and concert and recording listing sections, the website features a personalised
USA-wide dining guide ('Musicians always consider where to eat as one of
their most important decisions when touring', say the Orions) and a photo
gallery. Position 46 in the CMA February 2000 feature.
No 45 -- Hampsong, or the official website of the leading baritone
Thomas Hampson, is the singer's glossy promotional site, including a scrapbook
and a tour of the Hampson conservatory. Many of the page copyright notices
are dated 1997, so it's possible that some of the site hasn't been updated
for a while, although the 'forthcoming performances' section is right up
The official Evelyn Glennie website (44). Another promotional site, fun
and feature-filled, including a 'mix and match' biography! Links to the
Braunarts' Virtual Percussion Masterclass, also well worth a visit.
mp3.com (43) -- big, well-known, commercial and paying out download
royalties to attract impoverished composers and artists. Lots of material
here -- thousands of composer and performer sites and virtual radio stations,
but the speed, (things really start to slow down when you visit artists'
pages) the blandness of database-generated pages and the registration procedure
(necessary before you can download anything, presumably because they can
then try to sell you things by e-mail) may put you off exploring very much
of it. Persevere, though, and you may make some interesting discoveries.
The link below takes you to the main classical page.
The Classical MIDI Connection. Thousands of small downloadable
MIDI ('piano-roll' type music files in Musical Instrument Digital Interface
format), sorted into libaries by period. They can be listened to quite easily
on most computers. Great fun! Place 42.
NetRadio.com -- 120 professionally programmed music channels in
many genres of music. Twelve 'classical' channels appear from the 'classical'
link on the 'listen' page, although netradio today (their promotional/news
channel) and Music Industry News have zero or dubious classical content,
and Classical Notes wouldn't play because of a bad link. Baroque
and before failed too, in a similar way, and the Opera channel
caused a run-time error in my browser! At this point I gave up, having failed
to hear anything related to classical music. Position 41, although it wouldn't
appear on my list at all!
Copyright © 30 January 2001 Keith
Bramich, London, UK
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