New fine arts blog is from freelance writer and self-described "arch-dilettante" Christian M. Chensvold and sets as its mission postings on "music, opera, ballet and museums in Greater Los Angeles." Items currently up include interviews with Edward Gardner, who will conduct the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra this weekend, and with LA Weekly critic Alan Rich.

FineArtsLA sat down with Rich and discussed the current state of music and opera in Los Angeles, the waning interest in high culture hes witnessed over his long career, and the beauty of silence.

FALA: What are your strengths as a critic?

RichAR: I know how to evaluate performance values. Ive always been able to. The most important influence on my own musical education was Joseph Kerman at UC Berkeley. In addition to being one of the most respected musicologists in the world, he was a performer. He created awareness of performance values at Berkeley by performing putting on operas and concerts of music all the way from Monteverdi operas to lieder recitals and contemporary music and he made people aware of the fact that they had not only minds to memorize the dates of composers, but they also had ears to listen.

FALA: What are you listening for when you go to a concert?

AR: When I go to a concert I have a pretty good idea of the music Im about to hear.

FALA: From recordings?

AR: I listen to recordings, I read scores, I think about what I know of the composer from a long lifetime of hearing his music, and I measure what I hear against what I think I should hear, or what Id like to hear.

Richs latest book is So Ive Heard: Notes of a Migratory Music Critic.

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