Monthly Archives: November 2010

HOOT! The Inquirer Takes the Extra Step. HOWL: City Paper Follows the Formula.

The New York Philharmonic has made a job offer to the Philadelphia Orchestra’s principal clarinetist, Ricardo Morales. In an October 19 article for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Peter Dobrin used the occasion to examine a number of issues that seem to come together in Morales.

First, Dobrin raises the question of whether Morales is “the thin edge of the wedge,” because the orchestra is threatening to cut salaries, musicians, and the length of the season—all valid reasons for top musicians to seek work elsewhere.

Second, for similar reasons, Dobrin questions whether the orchestra could retain Morales or replace him with another top clarinetist. But, Dobrin writes, “Lurking in the background is the hypocrisy that has long run through orchestral personnel decisions.” Continue reading


What Does Arts Coverage Look Like in Philadelphia?

Nick Gilewicz examined four week’s worth of the Philadelphia Weekly (above) and Philadelphia City Paper (below), the region’s two primary alternative weeklies. Both were fairly concentrated in the city but random events popped up in far off places like Bristol and Wilmington.

What Does Arts Coverage Look Like in Philadelphia?

Nick Gilewicz looked at one week’s worth of Philadelphia Daily News print papers and identified the local arts coverage: only four stories (with sidebars).

HOWL: A Music Article That Doesn’t Describe the Music?

The context that arts and entertainment preview stories offer tends to be see-through clothing that dresses a recommendation, and A.D. Amorosi’s “Caravan leads music fans on a tour of the Balkans” in the Philadelphia Inquirer is no different.

This piece is poorly structured. It opens with three graphs about why Philadelphia producer Aaron Levinson likes nouveau Gypsy music, and never quotes him. The third graph implies that he’s the man behind this week’s Caravan Festival event, but it’s unclear. Amorosi offers up quotes from members of Philadelphia bands that explore this genre—Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew and Elliot Levin of the West Philadelphia Orchestra—but doesn’t explore the genre much himself. And the piece equates “Baltic,” “Balkan,” and “Gypsy,” which are three different things. But through these interviews, Amorosi finds local ties to this musical movement, which the Inquirer‘s TV, film, and gossip columns frequently fail to provide for their genres. Continue reading

Hoot(ish): Love the Story. Want More Info!

For the cover story of Philadelphia Weekly‘s October 6 issue, Tara Murtha writes a feature on Philadelphia singer Res (real name Shareese Ballard). Res met with modest success a decade ago, when her album How I Do garnered her mainstream attention, including video airplay on VH1 Soul, a contract that paid her living expenses while she toured and recorded, and that gave her the pick of the musicians she worked with

The essence of this story Res’s return to Philadelphia and her transition into an indie artist, and the peg is a monthlong Sunday-night residency Res is doing at Silk City in Northern Liberties. The piece is also set against the general implosion of the music industry. Her first album was out on MCA, which was absorbed by Geffen, and although she survived the transition, other, bigger artists were given priority despite Res’s selling 300,000 copies of How I Do. Her second album wasn’t released at all, although downloads of Black.Girls.Rock! can be easily found.

Still, Res has some profile, according to Murtha’s article. She toured with Gnarls Barkley, singing backup on the tour to support their first album, and Murtha’s article opens with Res onstage with Idle Warship, a collaboration with Talib Kweli, one of the most respected MCs in hip hop, and Canadian cross-genre artist Graph Nobel, who is less well-known but has popped up here and there in the scene.

While there are some interesting and sometimes tangential nuggets – Res’s early songwriting partner was Santigold, aka Santi White, who, much to my surprise, turns out to be disgraced Philadelphia political-insider Ron White‘s daughter – and Murtha does offer a lot of context for the points mentioned above, the piece seems to sag in the middle.

At one point, 44 graphs of nothing but Murtha’s and Res quotations exist between any other sources. This evinces two problems. Continue reading

Hoot(ish): A Great Story, With an Even Better Story Deeper In.

In the October 3 edition of the Inquirer, Peter Dobrin offers up a front-page feature on Joseph Conyers, the first African American musician hired by the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1974.

A lengthy story – after the jump, it takes up over half of a broadsheet page – Dobrin details Conyers path from Savannah to the Curtis Institute, and then to the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, and then to Philadelphia.

In addition to Conyers, Dobrin interviewed one of Conyers’s past teachers, one of his current colleagues in the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Alison Vulgamore, the president of the orchestra. But this is one of the reasons for the Hoot(ish) – those sources are the entirety of a Page One story. And while the piece pays due attention to how a prominent African American on stage (Conyers is the assistant principal bassist, a fairly visible position) can help cultivate interest from the black community, and how Conyers experience “dovetails nicely in Philadelphia, where the orchestra is on the brink of a major transformation emphasizing community and education,” I’m almost more intrigued by the prospect of that story than by Conyers’s profile. Continue reading

What Does Arts Coverage Look Like in Philadelphia?

What exactly gets coverage in the arts section of the region’s largest metropolitan daily newspaper? Nick Gilewicz studied a week’s worth of the Philadelphia Inquirer to see what was covered and where. Click on the map above to see details regarding general arts coverage. The smaller map at right refers to reviews and criticism.