Sunday, October 28, 2007

Creating Program Notes That Don't Suck

Anyone organizing a recital program, writing program notes, or submitting an artist bio in the next while would be well advised to read Ivan Katz' A Gentle Plea in the Huffington Post, in which he castigates the entire program note-creating industry for writing turgid junk that passes for writing on classical music:

It is not merely that I object to being treated like an idiot. I object to the patronizing tone of these annotations. I object to the general lack of research that such program notes usually display, and I object to the steadfast refusal of the annotator to say anything even remotely "controversial" let alone "unflattering." And worse still, I object to what seems to be the unbending rule that a decent English sentence may never appear in the program notes. I object to the refusal of the annotator to make even the slightest stab at clear, concise, impactful writing. Perhaps it is thought that jargon and high sounding mumbo-jumbo will impress the readers. It doesn't. It merely bores those whom it does not insult, and it helps no one.

Thank you, Mr. Katz. Those words needed to be said. Your post has just become required reading for every single college-level student I am teaching this year.

And it's probably high time to redo my bio.

(Via listen.)

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