MusicXML 3.0 Release Candidate 1

After two more weeks of testing, we now have a MusicXML 3.0 release candidate available for download and testing at:

http://www.musicxml.org/dtds/3.0/musicxml-30-rc1.zip

The release candidate adds a few new features:

  • New sori and koron accidental values to better support Persian and Iranian music.
  • New triangle and diamond values for the enclosure attribute.
  • A new xml:space attribute for the text-formatting entity / attribute group.

The standard sounds.xml file has been updated, and there are some bug fixes to the to20.xsl file. The remaining changes are documentation improvements to the DTD and XSD comments.

If all goes well, this is the MusicXML 3.0 version that we will be releasing soon. If you find any showstopper issues, please let us know as soon as possible. The MusicXML mailing list (www.recordare.com/musicxml/mailing-list) is the main place for for these discussions, but please comment here or email feedback privately if you prefer.

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MusicXML 3.0 Beta 6

Testing revealed that Recordare needed another beta before releasing the final version of MusicXML 3.0. A new Beta 6 version is now available at:

http://www.musicxml.org/dtds/3.0/musicxml-30-beta-6.zip

Beta 6 has several bug fixes in the musicxml.xsd related to some of the new 3.0 features, including the play, system-dividers, hole, and key-accidental elements, along with the new unplayed and niente attributes. We have also renamed the sound IDs for the harmonium, nylon string guitar, ganza, and shekere instruments in the sounds.xml file.

Please let us know if there are things we should be adding or changing to better meet your needs. We already have one documentation fix in for the final release thanks to beta 6 feedback. The MusicXML mailing list (www.recordare.com/musicxml/mailing-list) is the main place for for these discussions, but please comment here or email feedback privately if you prefer.

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MusicXML 3.0 Beta 5

Recordare has released a new Beta 5 version of the MusicXML 3.0 format. You can download everything from the zip file at:

http://www.musicxml.org/dtds/3.0/musicxml-30-beta-5.zip

Beta 5 has many documentation improvements. We have specified and clarified several parts of the format in response to developer requests collected over the past few years.

This may be the last beta version before MusicXML 3.0 is released. Please let us know if there are things we should be adding or changing to better meet your needs. The MusicXML mailing list (www.recordare.com/musicxml/mailing-list) is the main place for for these discussions, but please comment here or email feedback privately if you prefer.

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MusicXML 3.0 Beta 4

Last week, Recordare released a new Beta 4 version of the MusicXML 3.0 format. You can download everything from the zip file at:

http://www.musicxml.org/dtds/3.0/musicxml-30-beta-4.zip

Beta 4 includes some bug fixes, as well as an updated sounds.xml file with 887 standard instrument sounds.

We are getting close to the final version of MusicXML 3.0, so please let us know if there are things we should be adding or changing to better meet your needs. The MusicXML mailing list (www.recordare.com/musicxml/mailing-list) is the main place for discussing MusicXML 3.0. But please comment here or email feedback privately if you prefer.

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Mahler 2 Reviews

It’s good to see how much people enjoyed the San Francisco Symphony performances of Mahler’s 2nd last weekend, especially with all the raves about the chorus as well as the orchestra. Several people at SF MusicTech came up to me after our Digital Sheet Music panel to say how much they enjoyed the concerts, including Ralph Peer, the Chair and CEO of peermusic.

Joshua Kosman at the San Francisco Chronicle wrote “There aren’t many musical sure bets these days as sure as a Mahler symphony from Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony. But even by those high standards, Saturday’s performance of the Second Symphony in Davies Symphony Hall was a thriller… When the symphony turned vocal in the two last movements, the heroes of the evening were the members of Ragnar Bohlin’s Symphony Chorus, singing with glorious vitality and precision.”

Lisa Hirsch at San Francisco Classical Voice wrote “The real vocal star was Ragnar Bohlin’s magnificent Symphony Chorus, which sang with power, transparency, and a marvelous responsiveness to the text.” In her blog she added “I did not quite figure out how to say that I was on the verge of tears from the beginning of ‘Urlicht’ until the final release. How’d they do it???”

Janos Gereben at San Francisco Classical Voice offered some particularly kind words:

Ragnar Bohlin’s San Francisco Symphony Chorus provided a blessing for Davies Symphony Hall audiences last weekend in performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, conducted brilliantly by Michael Tilson Thomas — and put a kind of whammy on itself by establishing the highest standard against which all future performances will be evaluated.

I can just hear murmurs from coming months and years: “This was fine, but do you remember the sound in the 2011 ‘Resurrection’? You should have been there.”

It’s impossible to put in words the thrill of 132 singers “speaking” with one voice, a voice coming from far and yet as if from deep inside the listener.

There’s certainly a lot to be said for coming back to Mahler 2 after only a year away. Nearly everyone in the orchestra and chorus had performed it with MTT last season, so those performances were a starting point for reaching for something even better. Last year’s Mahler 2 was my first concert set with the chorus and the experience was a bit overwhelming. This year I had a year’s worth of ensemble listening behind me and much better understanding of what MTT and Ragnar want in the chorus and in this piece. It sure felt from the stage like the chorus and orchestra’s performance was on a new level, but it’s great to hear so much from the audience side that agreed with that assessment.

Now onto the Spring Choral concert on Sunday the 22nd, followed by Beethoven’s Missa solemnis at the end of June!

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Coming Up: Mahler, Duruflé, Beethoven

I have three exciting concerts coming up with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus in the next few weeks, all of which we have been rehearsing simultaneously.

This weekend is Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 Resurrection on Saturday evening, May 7 and Sunday afternoon, May 8. The Symphony is taking Mahler 2, 6, and 9 on tour to Europe soon, which is why we’re performing the Resurrection for a second consecutive season. Alas, the chorus is not going on the tour, so you won’t be hearing me in Vienna or Paris. We had an open rehearsal with the orchestra on Wednesday, and there was a larger audience there than at a lot of concerts I’ve performed over the years. The soloists are mezzo-soprano Jill Grove and soprano Karina Gauvin; Michael Tilson Thomas conducts. Tickets are still available online and at the box office.

On Sunday, May 22 at 4:00 pm is our annual Spring Chorus concert that features the chorus without the orchestra. Highlighting the program is Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem with organist Robert Huw Morgan. The first half of the program focuses on choral arrangements. Barber’s Agnus Dei, a choral transcription of his Adagio for Strings, was done by the composer. The rest were arranged by others, including a beautiful 16-part a cappella version of Mahler’s Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen. Ragnar Bohlin will conduct; he also arranged the Schubert and Schumann songs that we’ll perform with our wonderful pianist, Matthew Edwards. Tickets are available online and at the Davies Symphony Hall box office.

The San Francisco Symphony season concludes with Michael Tilson Thomas’s first performances here of Beethoven’s astonishing Missa solemnis. Usually we have our first rehearsal with the Maestro a week or two ahead of the concerts. For this concert, though, we had our first rehearsal with MTT on Tuesday – seven weeks ahead of the concert! It was a real treat to get his shaping of the piece this early in the rehearsal process. The soloists are soprano Christine Brewer, mezzo-soprano Katrina Karnéus, tenor Gregory Kunde, and bass Ain Anger. We’re performing from the recent critical edition edited by Norbert Gertsch, who I’ve met at several German conferences on digital music editions. It’s a beautiful job of engraving! Performances are June 23 to 26 at Davies Symphony Hall; tickets are available online and at the box office.

If you’re coming to any of these concerts, let me know if you’d like to meet afterwards.

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MusicXML 3.0 Beta 3

Earlier this week, Recordare released a new Beta 3 version of the MusicXML 3.0 format. You can download everything from the zip file at:

http://www.musicxml.org/dtds/3.0/musicxml-30-beta-3.zip

Beta 3 includes several new features and improvements based on our implementation experiences to date, including a more flexible way to map MusicXML’s instrument sound IDs to an application’s or library’s sound IDs. There are also improvements in ornamentation, notehead shapes, and indicating a principal voice.

The stylesheet for converting from MusicXML 3.0 to 2.0 files summarizes the new language features in code form:

http://www.musicxml.org/dtds/3.0/to20.xsl

The MusicXML mailing list (www.recordare.com/musicxml/mailing-list) is the main place for discussing MusicXML 3.0. But please comment here or email feedback privately if you prefer.

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Digital Sheet Music Panel at SF MusicTech Summit #8

SF MusicTech Summit 5.09.2011 music.people.techOn Monday, May 9 there will be a special event at the 8th SF MusicTech Summit in San Francisco. I will be participating in SF MusicTech’s first-ever panel discussion on digital sheet music and music notation. The conference producers, Brian and Shoshana Zisk, have assembled an extraordinary group. My co-panelists are:

Everybody on this panel has deep experience with digital sheet music, both from a technical/business perspective and as a performer. Our moderator will be conference co-producer Shoshana Zisk, another active performer. If you look at the Summit attendee list, you can spot several other leading names in digital sheet music and music notation.

I have gone to many of these summits and have found them very valuable. Ticket prices keep going up the closer you get to the show. As I write this they are still a very reasonable US $240 with our speaker guest discount. The Summit is held at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco’s Japantown from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm, followed by a cocktail party.

Please introduce yourself sometime during the event, whether after the panel or at the cocktail party afterwards. We should have a great discussion of what digital sheet music is, why we care, and where we think things may be going.

If you’re coming to the Summit and you enjoy the music of Gustav Mahler, consider coming a day or two early and hear me sing with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection”. Performances are Saturday evening at 8:00 pm and Sunday afternoon at 2:00 pm at Davies Symphony Hall. Michael Tilson Thomas conducts; the soloists are mezzo-soprano Jill Grove and soprano Karina Gauvin.

Mahler and SF MusicTech – what could make be a better combination?

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