22 June 2008

Barocco Toscano, Auser Musici, and Music-as-Protagonist

 Auser musici—Barocco Toscano, 08-JUN-2008, Finska Kyrkan, Gamla Stan, Stockholm
The Baroque ensemble, Auser Musici delivered a breathtaking performance on 08-JUN. The concert, Barocco Toscano, was part of the Stockholm Early Music Festival (SEMF), performed in the Finska Kyrkan (bak Slottet) in Gamla Stan.

Sveriges Television (SVT) did a superb job of miking and video production of the Auser Musici performance, without intruding on the delicate baroque music. A diagram of the SVT mics is shown below (mics are denoted by diagonal lozenge shapes).

 Sveriges TV miking of Auser Musici
SVT is the Swedish public service television company. SVT programming is non-commercial. Advertising is not allowed but sponsoring of sports events is. SVT’s programming covers the whole genre spectrum. In fact, 81 of the 100 most popular Swedish TV programs of 2007 were produced domestically by SVT, many of these as HD productions. I am not certain whether or not the SVT recording of Auser Musici at SEMF was in HD. But the SVT digital audio engineering was expert and insightful. Besides the cardioid-pattern mic near the open lid of the harpsichord, the SVT audio engineer also placed a contact mic inside the harpsichord (see photo, below).

 Sveriges TV miking of harpsichord
The combination is a belt-and-suspenders approach that provides great phasing and extra mix-down options for the recording engineers, once the digital media are brought back to the studio. If one mic only were used, the tender harpsichord might be might be muddied by other nearby, stronger instruments. The insights gleaned from the excellent SVT production set-up were very valuable for those of us interested in recording and sound reinforcement of early music ensembles in churches or other boxy, deep performance venues.

 Finska Kyrkan, Gamla Stan, Stockholm
The activity of the ensemble has grown over the past ten years and has recently been given institutional recognition as a project called Tesori Musicali Toscani [Tuscan Musical Treasures], supported by grants from the Italian government.

  • Elena Cecchi, soprano
  • Carlo Ipata, traverso (transverse baroque flute)
  • Luca Ronconi, baroque violin
  • Daniela Godio, baroque violin
  • Teresa Ceccato, baroque viola
  • Marco Ceccato, baroque cello
  • Francesco Romano, theorbo
  • Alfonso Fedi, harpsichord
 Auser musici, Pisa
Auser Musici arrange their musical programs in consultation with academic musicologists. The SEMF performance was just such a program, thoughtful yet emotionally accessible. Sonata, operatic and symphonic concerto forms were all represented, with works by Nardini, Traetta, and Cherubini, among others. The premise of Auser Musici’s program at SEMF was that music is itself a character, a protagonist in musical narrative—and that this feature was first grasped by composers of sacred and secular music in the early Baroque period. In other words, not only are individual character’s parts capable of rhetorical gestures, but instrumental sectional playing and tutti ensemble passages also embody ‘characters’ whose natures and motives are elucidated in the course of performing each work. The string section provides a narrative context for Cecchi’s arias for example. The whole ensemble functions as a kind of omniscient ‘narrator’, offering clues to the listener as the performance unfolds and presaging the outcomes of the various movements and passages.

Articles on Ipata and Auser Musici in magazines such as Klassik Heute, Early Music Magazine, Le Monde de la Musique, Repertoire, Diapason, and Goldberg reviewing Auser Musici’s recordings tend to highlight the excellent interpretive skills and beautiful playing. But the SEMF performance—apart from its aesthetic attractiveness—illustrated the importance of the scholarship of Auser Musici on Tuscan repertoire of the 17th and 18th Centuries in terms of discourse analysis, semiotics, and rhetorical practice. This is far, far from any ‘conventional-minded’ conception of musicology. Ipata and Auser Musici are showing us an innovative fusion of literary theory and music theory! Here they are, convincing us of the validity of their theses by virtuosic demonstration: “Sentire che dico a lei. Lí è! QED.”

Carlo Ipata’s lyrical and virtuosic playing on baroque flute was spectacular. (Ipata had his musical training first at the Banff Center in Canada, followed by the Royal Conservatory in Ajax, and finally at the Conservatory National de Region of Paris, where he got an honors diploma in baroque flute and chamber music. With the ensemble Suonatori della Gioiosa Marca, I Barocchisti, Il Capriccio, Seicentonovecento, and with AuserMusici, he has performed at the European Festival of Lubiana, the Italian Festival in Dortmund, Berliner Tage für Alte Musik, Festival Antiqua, Musikinstrumenten-Museum of Berlin, Festivoce (France), Celebrations of Boccherini in Madrid), and now SEMF. He has recorded for EMI, Amadeus, Agorà, Tactus, Bongiovanni, Symphonia, Hyperion.

As director of the Tuscan Musical Treasures Project, Ipata has collaborated with the Conservatory of the University of Cremona, the University of Pisa and the Scuola Normale Superiore, and the Italian Musicology Society. He is an author of ‘Il flauto in Italia’ ( Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato, 2005), and he has given courses and seminars at New York University. Ipata is Professor of Chamber Music at the Conservatorio Statale di Musica Gioacchino Rossini in Pesaro.

 Finska Kyrkan, Gamla Stan, Stockholm
Here are links to a couple of MP3 tracks on Auser Musici’s website, to give you a feel for the musicianship and interpretive sensibilities of the ensemble:

    [Auser Musici, Pietro Nardini, Flute Concerto in G Major, No. 2, Mvt. 3 (Allegro), 1.1MB MP3]

    [Auser Musici, Francesco Barsanti, Sei Sonate op. 2 per Flauto traverso, Sonata in a minor, No. 6, Mvt. 4 (Allegro), 5.1MB MP3]

Their website provides easy links, to enable you to purchase their recordings online. The enthusiasm of SEMF attendees for Auser Musici’s playing in the filled-to-SRO Finska Kyrkan that Sunday afternoon was such that the cartons of CDs the ensemble had brought to Stockholm were immediately sold-out…

 Carlo Ipata conducting Auser Musici

 Strandvagen, Gamla Stan, Stockholm

Ensemble Villancico: Källunge Codex and Sonic Rhetoric of the 17th-Century Baltic Church

 Ensemble Villancico, SEMF, Bullkyrkan, 08-JUN-2008

S  ince Martin Luther, music was increasingly understood as an investigative sonic rhetoric. For a long time, composition was dominated by the desire to convince and move the listener. From 1533, when music theorist Nicolaus Listenius introduced the concept of musica poetica, until 1606, when Johannes Burmeister published his rhetorical analysis of a motet by Orlando di Lasso, the need for ever-more forceful modes of expressing emotions grew—leading to stronger emotional contrasts and increasingly rich sonorities… Their survey of rhetorical figures in music and the effect of these on the listener reveals that composers of the period had a single major aim: to construct a composition like a speech, touching the listener’s feelings, preferably for an edifying religious purpose.”
  —  Peter van Tour, 2005.
On Sunday, 08-JUN, Peter Pontvik and members of Ensemble Villancico performed pieces from the Källunge Codex, as part of the Stockholm Early Music Festival (SEMF). The concert was held in the Bullkyrkan (Stadsmissionen) in Gamla Stan, the old-city part of Stockholm whose buildings date to medieval times and earlier.

S  veriges kanske mest kvalificerade musikfestival. (Perhaps the most superior music festival we have in Sweden).”
  —  Aftonbladet, Stockholm.
Ensemble Villancico, comprised of 8 singers and 4 instrumentalists, was founded in 1995 by Peter Pontvik. For the Källunge SEMF performance, the instruments were trombone and Baroque organ. The ensemble predominantly performs music from the Baroque period and is the only ensemble in Scandinavia to do so. The ensemble has won several important awards, including the Ivan Lukacic Prize at the Varazdin Baroque Festival in 2001 and the Swedish Grammis award. Pontvik has been Artistic Director of SEMF since 2002.

 Peter Pontvik
  • Jessica Bäcklund, soprano
  • Nina Åkerblom Nielsen, soprano
  • Gonca Yazan, alto
  • Dan Johansson, countertenor
  • Love Enström, tenor
  • Martin Vanberg, tenor
  • Yamandú Pontvik, baritone
  • Peter Pontvik, contertenor
  • Jens Malmkvist, bass
  • Michael Dierks, organ
  • Daniel Stighäll, trombone
The ‘Codex Kellungensis’ collection of works of the 17th Century is multi-national and includes works by Philipp Dulichius, Melchior Vulpius, Gregor Aichinger, Nicolaus Zangius, Hieronymus Praetorius, Hans Hassler, Jacob Gallus, Johann Walter, Dominique Phinot, Orlando di Lasso, and Johann Bahr.

 Källunge Codex CD
The SSAATTBB orchestration allows for a number of rhetorically and spatially evocative treatments (including antiphonal SATB-SATB double choir). The organ and/or trombone add immensely to the remarkable aesthetic effects that Ensemble Villancico achieves.

Exultate justi in Domino by Vulpius (with organ) and Duo Seraphim clamabant by Aichinger (with organ & trombone) are particularly beautiful. The latter work starts with an atmospheric duet of the two sopranos in close-harmonic chase, over an organ continuo with subsequent passages of homophony. Some of the works are dense harmonies in ‘stile antico’ (Dulichius; Vulpius). More modern compositional styles (Praetorius) are also represented in the Codex.

 Ensemble Villancico, SEMF, Bullkyrkan, 08-JUN-2008
The clarity of tone and diction and the fullness and roundness of the voices were superb. And the Bullkyrkan—an unlikely narrow, tall sanctuary on the second floor of the ancient Gamla Stan Stadsmissionen in the noisy medieval Stora Torget (big square)—was surprisingly congenial, acoustically. The echoes and reverb time from where I was sitting in the balcony were not excessive and in fact lent a 17th-Century authenticity to the performance. (It is odd that we routinely talk of period instruments for historically-informed performances and the attributes that make a particular instrument period-appropriate, but rarely speak of ‘period performance spaces’ and the acoustical attributes that make them period-appropriate or not.)

The small organ with its human diapason and reedy colors at times functions as a ‘narrator’ rhetorically. By contrast, in some dark-hued passages it blends nicely as liminal accompaniment with the singers. This organ and these arrangements for it from the Källunge Codex evoke and reinforce the 17th-Century North German / Baltic liturgical conceit, a kind of Reformation ‘hyper-responsibility’ that views humankind as challenged by what Life (Nature; God) dishes out and challenged by the frail flesh and human nature itself—the organ part tells us how and with what consequence, and the voices plead and declare the mortal parishioners’ responsible intent. Bergman’s and other Swedish films come to mind, Halldor Laxness’s books, the Eddas…

 Daniel Stighäll
Impressive, too, was Göteborg Baroque trombonist Daniel Stighäll. In some of the pieces without organ the trombone part is essentially a vocal part without words—‘toning’ vowels. Don Campbell refers to toning as the vocalization of elongated vowel sounds, and this description is entirely fitting to describe Stighäll’s rendering of his parts. When toning is done with one’s vocal cords, the sounds traditionally are those of the vowels (ah, aye, ee, oh and oo) but are not limited to them. Stighäll simply does toning with his lips and trombone—the effect is more vocal than instrumental.

 Campbell book on toning
Toning is a primordial experience—music-therapy without words but with the rhythm and constraints of breathing. It focuses the performer’s and the listeners’ attention on the mortal, physiological necessity of inspiration and expiration. It is a kinesthetic immersion in one’s corporality and fleshiness as living creature, and in one’s mortalness as an obligate breather-inner-and-outer of air.

The wordless (in-)toning allows—Compels!—our minds to end their internal chatter and enables our creative and reflective connection of mind, body, and spirit.

The trombone ‘vocal part without words’ creates an ambiance where the mind finds its own contexts for the sounds. There are no pre-formed meanings associated with the sounds and the experience tends to be non-linear, splanchnic, pre-verbal. Wordless as it is, the trombone triggers memories of ancestors and relatives who have passed away; enables us to enter into non-ordinary time, a mystical dream-time, in a way that the singers alone cannot do. This is no passively ‘received’ spirituality; this is the stuff you actively fashion under your own power.

T  he poetics of music is a mathematical science through which one creates a delightful and pure harmony on the score paper, so that this can then be recreated by singing or playing with the intention of bringing people to spiritual communion with God.”
  —  Johan Gottfried Walther, 1708.

    [50-sec clip, EnsembleVillancico, Källunge Codex, Gregor Aichinger, Duo Seraphim clamabant, SSAATTBB, organ & trombone, 1.1MB MP3]

Rhetorically, this supernatural role for the trombone is proper. The trombone was used frequently in 16th-Century Venice in canzonas, sonatas, and sacred works by Andrea Gabrieli and later by Heinrich Schütz in Germany. The Baroque trombone was used in Church music and in some other settings (opera), to represent the supernatural or the funerary from the time of Monteverdi. Perhaps this Italian and German usage was simply imported to Gotland. On the other hand, perhaps some of what we hear here has mutated to suit the characteristically Baltic mien.

In any case, Stighäll imparts a distinctly Swedish fatalism and mysticism to this sonic rhetoric. He fully inhabits his instrument, conjuring wonderfully dour and, alternately, joyful colors as a separate-but-equal baritone voice. The singers’ parts at times echo the trombone’s marcato articulations, powerfully endorsing the stature, the expressive merit, and the moral standing of the trombone’s rhetorical gestures. Choir: “You must listen to the trombone and his ideas, for what he is singing, even though it is wordless, is a sacred, ineffable truth—every bit as much as what we are singing. Indeed, we now imitate the trombone, to convince you and emphasize this point.”

    [50-sec clip, EnsembleVillancico, Källunge Codex, Philipp Dulichius, Exultate justi in Domino, SATB-SATB double choir plus trombone, 1.2MB MP3]

In 1913, Birger Anrep-Nordin found the Codex in Källunge Church in Gotland, an island in the Baltic not too far from Stockholm. The Codex Kellungensis is dated 1622 on the cover and originally contained at least 312 works for 4 to 10 parts, music for feasts of the liturgical year and indexed with the Church lectionary. The works are in Latin and German and some in a mixture of both languages. About 150 of the works were missing from the old manuscript, but the nature of those that are missing is known from one of the table-of-contents pages still extant.

 Gotland, in southern Baltic
The Codex is the work of at least 11 different scribes, only one of whose signatures actually appears in the document. The origins and arranger/transcriber credits are still somewhat controversial—a nice summary of the differing scholarly views is provided by Peter Pontvik. Possibly Johann Bahr from Silesia (1610-1670) was responsible for the Codex. He came to Gotland as a music student and eventually became cathedral organist at Visby. He is the only composer who actually lived in Gotland whose work is represented in the Codex. The Codex includes works associated with the Catholic Church and with Protestant denominations.

    [30-sec clip, EnsembleVillancico, Källunge Codex, Johann Bahr, So ziehet hin [So He moves], SSAATTBB, organ & trombone, 0.6MB MP3]

Ensemble Villancico’s Källunge recordings are available on the Sjelvar Records label.

 Tysk Kirk, Gamla Stan, Stockholm

 Gamla Stan street with Mid-sommar festive birch switches propped against shops’ doorways

06 June 2008

Composers, Self-Publishing, and Academic AP&T

 Sobel book

T  wo of my fellow colleagues and I are currently brainstorming ideas for a CD recording project, and within the discussion something that came up is the idea of self-distribution on our own ‘independent’ label or searching out an established label for distribution. Now, obviously, each method has its own series of pros and cons, but an issue came up which I’m hoping some of you may be able to weigh in on. The three of us are all beginning to enter our professional career and two of us are looking specifically at entering into academia. I was hoping some of you may have insight on the subject of independent release vs. established release when it comes to search committees and tenure review. With technology growing and developing so much, the idea of self-releasing a CD (or even self-publishing) has become so easy that composers can have much more control and get 100% of the profit. On the other hand does this cause the loss of prestige? Specifically, if you are considering an applicant for a position at your university does it matter more to you that they have recordings through established record labels (i.e. Innova, Centaur,etc.), or does just the fact that they have recordings out say something, or, what if they have a healthy mix of both [self-published and commercially-published recordings]?”
  —  Aleksander Sternfeld-Dunn, comment on Society of Composers online forum, 04-JUN-2008.
One of the arcane but important details of deciding about self-publishing is the so-called ‘controlled-composition clause’. Composers who control the publishing of their own works avoid ceding the publisher’s share of royalties from those works, but they have to deal with the ‘controlled-composition clause’. ‘Controlled’ compositions are works owned and controlled by the composer and not assigned to another publisher.

A controlled-composition clause in the contract of a composer/performer states that the record company will pay a reduced rate on the titles controlled by the artist. This means that if a work on a published CD is written by an outside party, that outside (non-controlled) work will earn more for the outside party than a work written by the composer/performer will earn the artist as a composer/performer.

The only exception to this rule is when the publisher of an ‘outside’ work—usually in an effort to curry favor with the record label—agrees to go along with the terms of the controlled composition clause. Although the composer/performer may find it difficult to negotiate, it is in her best interest to have any controlled composition clause removed from her contract before signing with a record label.

Some controlled composition clauses allow the record company to pay a reduced ‘mechanical’ rate, on a maximum number of tracks per CD, called the ‘cap’. For example, if the clause says that the label will pay 75 percent of the statutory rate on a cap of 6 tracks you wrote and control, your may have to take a serious cut in compensation if any outside (non-controlled) works are included on the same CD. Say the statutory rate is 8.5 cents (for tracks under 5-min playing time). Then the maximum the record label will pay for each of the tracks is 6.375 cents—76.5 cents for a CD with 12 tracks on it. The outside publishers are commanding 8.5 cents for each of their tracks—say, 6 tracks for a total of 12 on the CD. They get 51.0 cents for their 6 tracks. The difference—76.5 cents minus 51.0 cents equals 25.5 cents—is what’s left over for you. That’s 4.25 cents per track to you, or 50% of the royalty rate that the outsiders get. That’s why you want to negotiate the controlled composition clause out of the deal, or make sure that none of the compositions on the CD involve other outside publishers, or publish the thing yourself.

The Harry Fox Agency, which is operated by the National Music Publishers’ Association is the main mechanical-right society in the U.S. American Mechanical Rights Association is another major one. Many publishers authorize a mechanical-rights licensing and collection organization to license and collect mechanical royalties on their behalf. If you do decide to self-publish, maybe you will decide to go this route as well. If you do, note that these organizations typically charge a fee of 5% of gross. Parker Music Group is one such service company.

    Mechanical Rights Licensing Orgs
  • APRA/AMCOS—Australasian Performing Right Association / Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners’ Society (Australia/N.Z.)
  • AMRA—American Mechanical Rights Agency (U.S.)
  • ASCAP—American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (U.S.)
  • BMI—Broadcast Music Inc (U.S.)
  • CISAC—International Confederation of Authors and Composers (E.U.)
  • CMRRA—Canadian Mechanical Rights Reproduction Society (Canada)
  • HFA (NMPA)—Harry Fox Agency (U.S.)
  • GEMA—Gesellschaft für musikalische Auffürhrungs und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (Germany, Austria, Poland, Hungary, etc.)
  • JASRAC—Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers (Japan)
  • MCPS—Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (U.K, Ireland)
  • NCB—Nordisk Copyright Bureau (Scandinavia)
  • SABAM—Societé Belge des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs (Belgium)
  • SDRM—Societé pour l’administration du Droit de Reproduction Mécanique (France, fracophone Africa)
  • SESAC—Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (E.U.)
  • SGAE—Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (Spain)
  • SODRAC—Societé du droit de reproduction des auteurs, compositeurs et editeurs au Canada (Canada)
  • SIAE—Società Italiana degli Autori ed Editori (Italy)
  • SPA—Sociedade Portuguesa de Autores (Portugal)
  • BUMA-STEMRA— (Netherlands)
  • SUISA— (Switzerland)
  • VAAP—All-Union Copyright Agency (Russia, etc.)
So, yes, go ahead and incorporate yourself as a limited-liability corporation (LLC, in the U.S.). Hire some musician and studio time to get your new stuff performed promptly; beg and borrow resources to get high-quality digital files of your new works recorded, mixed and edited. Lay down tracks for different voices/instruments in different recording sessions if you have to, instead of a single live performance. Get started publishing your own MP3s and CDs. Or do it ‘mix-and-match’, with some self-published and some commercially-published, depending on how favorable are the terms and conditions you can negotiate with record labels, publishers, and the mechanical-right licensing organizations.

Regarding the effects on appointment, tenure, and promotions decision-making, there are a few salient examples among the links below, for your interest.

An AP&T Committee usually confines its review to new products of creative activity that have appeared in public exhibitions or performances, or in print, film, and digital formats (e.g., CD, MP3, video or DVD recordings and presentations on the World-Wide Web). It is usual to consider commercial recordings in the same sense as refereed journal articles or book chapters or other scholarly work definitively accepted for publication or public presentation as valid for review. If, besides your free MySpace or other free MP3 downloads of performances of your works that you maintain online and log accesses, you additionally have paid-download self-published material on sites like eclassical.com or CDbaby.com, then be sure to include cumulative impression/access/download counts for each of those in your AP&T Docket. (An AP&T Committee does not generally give weight to incomplete work under commission, under advance contract, submitted for review, or in preparation—nor does an AP&T Committee generally accord much weight to counts of unpaid downloads from MySpace or other social networking sites. Same thing for counts of unpaid demo CD distributions you do at your ensemble’s performances.)

But completed work whose performance will be difficult to organize or fund; whose orchestration requires an ensemble that will be difficult or logistically impractical to gather together to rehearse and perform at the same time and place; whose production complexity for public performance is beyond the finances available, but whose performance is feasible in a studio; and other completed recorded performances (such as ones too radical for accessible, available public audiences) can be given weight. Your works’ quality speaks for itself. The AP&T Committee members become the de facto peer-reviewers ascertaining its weight, instead of subrogating the evaluation to external publishers or editors or commissioning agencies. (Works completed, performed or exhibited in previous review periods, such as repeat productions or performances, post-premiere performances, solo or group exhibitions of electroacoustic or multimedia art, video or film, and the like, are regarded as evidence of professional recognition and activity, but are not weighed as new creative activity per se.)

Remember that a complete departmental appointment, promotion and tenure (AP&T) docket must often include a minimum of five letters from outside evaluators. The letter of solicitation, which should come from the Chair of the Department, often must follow a standard template so as not to prejudice the evaluators either postively or negatively. The letter must explicitly request comparative rankings with the candidate’s peers, and it must not in any way imply that a positive or negative response from the evaluator is desired. In general, the outside evaluators would not tender jealous, resentful, or disparaging reviews if the recorded material they are sent is commercially-published. Nor should there be any pejorative aspect to self-published material.

Keep in mind that, insofar as all outside letters of evaluation must be fresh (written and received within 12 months of the AP&T review date), there is a considerable advantage to self-publishing: you have the ability to augment your recordings catalog as much as you wish, with works that may not (yet) have received consideration by normal publishers, or with works that embody genres that (at the moment) have limited commercial potential. The normal commercial recording, post-production, and publication cycle is simply too slow and will omit your most recent work and your most iconoclastic, innovative work, probably. Things that were not commissioned by anybody and are not yet performed in a paid-ticket setting would not be available for distribution to the reviewers unless you make it happen yourself, self-publisher style.

Any Dean and Department Chair and AP&T Committee with heads properly screwed on do grasp these concepts. In fact, if you discover that the Conservatory regime you are addressing does not handle such issues thoughtfully and fairly, you really ought to ask yourself whether there isn’t some more congenial and productive venue for you to spend your time. Life is too short, to spend part of it laboring under unfair, entrenched prejudices about commercial- vs self-publishing.

05 June 2008

Stalking: An Occupational Hazard for Chamber Musicians?

 Pathé book

I  am not absolutely certain that I’m being stalked. But I’m pretty sure somebody was following me after our quartet’s last performance. What should I be doing about this? I don’t know who to talk to or call about this.”
  —  Anonymous.
This is outside the scope of things I have any personal expertise in. The links below may be helpful to you, though.

Current U.S. statistics on stalking are here. More than one million women and almost 400,000 men are stalked annually in the United States. Eight percent of women and two percent of men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime. Although stalking is a gender-neutral crime, most victims (78 percent) are female and most perpetrators (87 percent) are male. In the course of managing a stalking episode, 28 percent of female stalking victims and 10 percent of male victims obtained a court protective order. Sixty-nine percent of female victims and 81 percent of male victims had the protection order violated. Eighty-one percent of women who were stalked by a current or former husband or cohabiting partner were also physically assaulted, and 31 percent were also sexually assaulted by that partner.

The average duration of stalking is 1.3 years. Most stalking, however, lasts about one month. Statistically, the median (31 days) is way lower than the mean (470 days in the U.S.). The statistical distribution has a long tail toward the right (longer durations). Two-thirds of stalkers pursue their victims at least once per week. Seventy-eight percent of stalkers use more than one means of pursuing, contacting or interfering with the victim. Have a look at this article by Mullen’s group in Australia for more information. (The stats are qualitatively similar in other countries, although duration distributions by stalking type, comparative prevalence by stalking type, and other details differ quantitatively from country to country, or even by region within each country.)

Stalking, Table.1 from Mullen et al., 1999
There are no statistics maintained on epidemiology of classical musicians as targets of stalking or as stalker perpetrators, although undergraduate musicians or conservatory students probably experience stalking rates comparable to other university students (about 20%). Possibly members of small chamber music ensembles might be more vulnerable on account of the small number of members in the group, and the absence of budget such as a large orchestra may have for security and other services.

Stalking behavior is not motivated by any one thing, and therefore no one strategy is effective protection against all the various types of stalking and types of stalkers. Effective strategies are ones that take into account the particular circumstances and identity, if these are known (that is, the history of any prior relationship with the pursuer; the chronology of events; the methods the pursuer is using).

R  isk assessment in stalking situations is currently limited by a lack of prospective studies of representative samples. Clinicians and the legal decision-makers do not, however, have the luxury of deferring action until such evidence emerges. They must, for the present, depend on integrating knowledge from stalking research, borrowing from the systematic studies of risk in other areas, and drawing on clinical experience... The longer stalking has lasted, the longer it is likely to persist. Nearly 50 percent of stalking situations amount to a short burst of intrusive behavior lasting only a few days and not extending beyond two weeks. This form of harassment is typically perpetrated by a stranger. In contrast, stalkers who persist for longer than two weeks usually continue for many months.”
  —  Paul Mullen et al., 2006.
Even if no physical violence has occurred, the anxiety and fear and implied threats are a form of harm. You do not know what the stalker might do next.

B  eing stalked can induce depression, anxiety, and chronic stress. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) describes the psychological sequelae of stalking... To our knowledge, however, the utility of [PTSD] treatments in the management of stalking victims has yet to receive empirical support.”
  —  Paul Mullen, Michele Pathé, and Rosemary Purcell, Stalkers, p. 221.
Don’t assume that there is just one pursuer. Some celebrities attract multiple pursuers, either serially or concurrently. Classical musicians may not have as great a likelihood of this as other celebrities, but the risk of it is surely not zero.

Do inform others about what is happening and what you are concerned about. Neighbors, co-workers, friends, and other ‘proxies’ who are not aware of the victim’s situation and who think they are being helpful can unwittingly disclose the information that a stalker wants to know.

If you have children who could be potential secondary targets for the pursuer, do have a calm, serious discussion with the children about the subject and instruct them how to be safe. In the U.S., you can contact VictimServices.org’s 7x24 hotline at 1-866-689-HELP (4357) for advice.

The Mullen-Pathé-Purcell book is especially good. It covers strategies to defend against and manage stalking behaviors; protecting personal information; declining and terminating contact; classifying different types of stalking and stalkers and risks associated with each; false stalking and delusions of being stalked; stalking-by-proxy, such as ordering/cancelling goods and services. Proxies utilized by stalkers may include your current or past employers, doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, hairdressers/cosmetologists, gyms/fitness clubs, banks, schools, churches/synagogues, and other intermediaries.

The book provides comprehensive discussion of morbid infatuations and other psychopathologies; incompetent suitors and intimacy seekers; acquaintances and friends. It counsels us to avoid any further discussions or correspondence with the pursuer—do not indulge them in argument or negotiation; do not deliver your termination message incrementally, in ‘let them down slowly’ instalments. The imperative is to be decisive, be firm.

The 12-page 2006 paper by Mullen and co-workers is excellent. The pdf is downloadable free here.

Recognizing possessiveness, hypersensitivity, dependence, jealousy, and mood swings in friends or business acquaintances can help to identify the potential for stalking and may be instrumental in your decision to terminate contact with the person, as a means of preventing stalking by someone who is known to you. According to Mullen and Pathé, ex-intimates are the stalking victims most likely to be threatened and assaulted. A history of domestic violence and/or jealousy before separation have been reported to increase the risk of violence in this group. Statistically speaking, and despite some famous examples to the contrary, stranger stalkers present the lowest risk of assaulting their victims.

Do be selective about disclosing personal details, including home address or phone numbers or email addresses. A post-office box provides security to prevent theft of confidential materials from a private letterbox at your home.

Do get an electric shredder for your home and be careful to shred all of your mail before placing it in the recycling or rubbish bins. Don’t take the same route to work or concert hall or other destinations; don’t do anything that’s readily monitored, in which your routine daily patterns can become known in a manner that may make it easier for a pursuer to harrass or attack you.

Do get a whistle. Get a small mace or pepper spray if legal in your area.

Do avail yourself of some musician-specific guidance for your use of MySpace, FaceBook, and other social networking sites, available on pages 206-208 of Frances Vincent’s book. Her blog is here.

Do consider hiring under-cover security services, such as Bo Dietl & Associates, for at least a few days or for covering your next several performances. They can discreetly monitor the performance venues and monitor your comings and goings, to ascertain whether there is or is not suspicious stalking-type activity. On a short-term or intermittent engagement basis such services are not tremendously expensive, and the reassurance that can come from their expert observations (esp. if they find no evidence of stalking) is huge. And, if in fact there is someone stalking you, they are expert in engaging law enforcement, the courts, forensic healthcare, and other appropriate authorities to deal with it in an expeditious, definitive way. With far more flexibility than the authorities can muster, an under-cover security service can devise counter-measures to stop the person, or to precipitate circumstances and evidence that will make the pursuer chargeable under the anti-stalking laws. Tremendously good value. Here are some more suggestions:

  • If you are arriving or departing from a performance in separate vehicles, make sure each person is accompanied/escorted between the performance venue and the transportation.
  • If you are not accompanied while en route, be sure and phone someone to let them know when you are departing and when you expect to arrive.
  • Leave your mobile phone turned on. If it has a GPS feature, leave that turned on as well.
  • If no one will be home when you get there, arrange to go to someone else’s house/apartment and stay with them, instead of going directly home to an empty house.
  • Let doctors, lawyers, hairdressers, dentists, etc., know the importance of maintaining your security. They may be able to arrange off-street parking so that you are less visible. Ask them to instruct the receptionist not to allow any information about you to be leaked out.
  • Check to be sure the library, gym, video shop, etc., will not give out information about you.
  • Sell your car and buy a different one if feasible, so that the stalker will not recognize you (for awhile).
  • Make sure you check the car before you get in, to make sure no one is in it.
  • If you are being followed drive directly to the nearest police station.
  • Don’t always drive the same way home. Don’t always take the same subway or bus home.
  • Put the car away immediately when you arrive home, out of sight if possible.
  • If you believe someone is stalking you, call the police.
  • Arrange for your mail to be redirected to a post office box. You will need to fill in a Mail Redirection form from the Post Office.
  • Call ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ or ‘help’.
  • Put 911 into your mobile phone directory so that it can be speed-dialed. Note that, when contacting 911 from a cellular phone, you must identify where you are (i.e., tell the dispatcher your exact address or location). From a hardwired landline phone, the address pops up on the dispatcher’s computer automatically. But with cell phones, the computer doesn’t know where the phone is. 911 calls placed from cell phones are routed to the closest 911 operations center based on cell tower site location that’s closest to where you are calling from. And although technology has made advances in getting cellular phone calls to the appropriate police/fire agency, the process is not 100-percent accurate. If you call 911 on a cell phone, it will be associated with the nearest mobile phone repeater cell antenna tower, which may be miles away from where you are. The software will not route to the correct 911 center closest to you but instead will route to the 911 center that is closest to that cell tower. Then, if you are not able to speak freely or if you hang up or an attacker damages your phone, the dispatcher will not have your address information available, and it may take many minutes to locate the approximate address where your cell phone transmissions came from to send you help. Help would be dispatched from a 911 center needlessly further away from you, possibly some miles beyond that cell tower, to a destination that is so vague as to offer minimal chance of locating and assisting you in a timely way. Uggh.
  • For the reasons noted in the previous point, put other emergency numbers into your mobile phone, for each of the cities where you perform.
Please be safe. Don’t ignore or discount what’s going on or pretend that it’s not happening or that it will go away. Contact one of the social services agencies in your area who have responsibility for sexual harassment prevention and management, or one of the national services whose URLs appear in the list below. Bo Dietl & Asociates provide a number of security and investigative services to performing musicians. Thank you for your CMT comments and questions!

Categorizing Stalking, Fig.1 from Mullen et al., 2006

 Glass book