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Site seeing

Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001)

and more top websites revisited

Iannis Xenakis, the Greek/French composer, died on Sunday (4 February 2001), as I'm sure you'll have heard by now, and there are many obituaries online.

Xenakis, with his engineering and architectural background, thought about music in a different way to musicians with a more conventional training. He invented the term stochastic music, was an early experimenter with multimedia, including fire and light, and is probably the best-known composer using computers to make music. His influence on modern music and modern musical thought, via both his writings about music and his own music -- original, raw, untamed and full of energy -- is very considerable.


Continuing the mathematical and architectural thread, the hypercube, or tesseract, is the official logo of NewMusicBox, the smart monthly web magazine of the American Music Center, and really a candidate for M&V's MV3 series, since it uses Real Audio to illustrate the work of the American composers featured. The logo represents the NewMusicBox activity in linking together all the diverse strands of American music. This site held position 40 in Chamber Music America's February 2000 top 50 websites feature, continued from last week.


New York City's Calendar for New Music, produced by the Soundart Foundation, is at place 39. The pages are plain and quick to load, and the information is right up-to-date. Events are displayed in a format which looks like a vertical string of concert posters, and posters are hyperlinked to relevant organisations.


Musical America, marketing itself as 'The business source for the performing arts', comes in at 38. An impressive site, updated daily with news, but you need to pay well over US$ 100 per annum for a full subscription. Without this, you can read all the news headlines but not the stories, and you can't use the search facilities. An event calendar, however, is available to everyone, free of charge.


CultureFinder, at 37, is a USA-wide searchable list of arts events and tickets, incorporating broadway, classical and opera, dance, theater and visual arts sections. They've just been through a small spot of bother -- the withdrawal of all final support from their major investor just before the start of 2001, resulting in all the staff losing their jobs at a day's notice.

The site appears to still be operating ok in early February 2001, and founder Eugene Carr is trying to transform the organisation into a 'not for profit' company, to keep it functioning.


From no 36, BMG Classics World : 'Welcome to BMG Classics! Our web site is currently under construction. In the meantime, check out'. Judging by this quote from the original URL, it looks as if there have been some changes here. The classical area of is a kind of glossy commercial USA-centred Yahoo-style portal site, financed by BMG Entertainment and the Universal Music Group.


Sony Classical, another of the music game's big players, is diverting a presumably not inconsiderable amount of funds towards the design of this site. The result is something quite fun and appealing, using, by the look of it, every trick in the trade -- automatically-playing sound extracts (including, currently, Mahler's First Symphony, Perahia playing the Goldberg Variations, Maw: Joshua Bell, Crouching Tiger Soundtrack and 'Vianne sets up shop' from Chocolat), pop-up windows, java script, animation, newsletters etc. to tempt in the casual visitor. It's also a big site, with artist biographies, discographies, tour details, full catalogue details with cover art and sound clips and an online radio show. The 'classical' travels a long way into the 'crossover' and 'film music' areas. Why only position 35? Maybe Sony have improved their site during the year since the list was made at the beginning of 2000.


No 34, the Gilbert and Sullivan Archive, established in 1993, is a huge central site for all G&S-related material and activities on the web -- you can even read or download Gilbert's and Sullivan's wills. The hard-working Jim Farron (curator) and Alex Feldman (webmsater) are probably hard at work on the archive as you read this.


The Aria Database (No 33) is young lyric baritone Robert Glaubitz's 'diverse collection of information on over 1000 operatic arias' -- actually 1272 arias, at 5 February 2001, with texts, translations and MIDI files, many provided by users of the site. It seems to have a lot of the well-known classics, but isn't so good on the obscure.


I did manage to get to see Marco Milano's Opera Web (in Italian and English), and it's quite attractive, although the ©OperaWeb -- 1998 notices at the bottom of each page might suggest a lack of continuous creative input, however! The site appears to be under destruction, however, because a further visit to the same URL took me instead to a Marlene Kuntz site! If you're quick, you might catch a glimpse of OperaWeb as was in the cache pages of the Google search engine.


No chance of suggesting a lack of input with Classical Net, however, which is one of the oldest, largest and busiest classical music websites, and 31 is a surprisingly low position for such an all-embracing site. A recent and surprising change is the redirect to -- Classical Net seems to have become part of the eFront webguide.

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Copyright © 6 February 2001 Keith Bramich, London, UK


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