Independence Day

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Today was my last as classical music critic of the Miami Herald, which means I am now free to devote my full attention to this blog and to building a permanent website. Many thanks to all the colleagues, musicians, readers and fellow bloggers who have posted supportive comments.

So, what exactly is the South Florida Classical Review?

It won’t be about bashing the Herald—tempting as that is, at the moment—or about the parlous state of old-media companies, or about me personally, because I wouldn’t inflict that boredom on my worst enemy.

What the Review will be about is covering South Florida’s classical music scene in an honest, fair, intelligent and comprehensive manner. To a large extent, it will carry on my newspaper beat with in-depth coverage of all major performances, advance articles, interviews, weekly critic’s picks and CD reviews.

But it will also go beyond my Herald work, in both geography and scope. As the title indicates, the South Florida Classical Review will cover the entire tri-county area, from Palm Beach to Coral Gables. I’ll be doing the majority of concert reviews, particularly in the Miami area where I reside, but other critics will weigh in from time to time as well. I’ll offer commentary on the local music scene that goes beyond reviews—an essential element that was definitely not encouraged at the Herald—columns on broader aspects of the classical world, profiles of neglected composers, and the infrequent riff on non-classical topics.

At times coverage will extend beyond Florida to encompass major national festivals, including Santa Fe Opera later this month, as well as significant new operas or revivals across the country. Unlike many music websites, all reviews will be original and exclusive, not mere links to newspaper websites or posted from other sources.

But the focus will remain on the music, delivered in a smart, timely, candid, and useful fashion. Reviews will be posted quickly, in most cases before midnight the night of the performance, allowing readers ample time to decide whether to attend a repeat. CD reviews will have audio samples to download and, eventually, there will be video for opera articles. A detailed list of upcoming classical events will be updated daily. All organizations that would like to be considered for coverage should email press releases and 2008-2009 season schedules. Those seeking information about banner advertising should drop me a line as well.

Ultimately the success of this venture will depend as much on your participation as mine. Feel free to post a comment or send a private email with suggestions to

Posted in announcement, column

5 Responses to “Independence Day”

  1. Posted Jul 04, 2008 at 12:19 pm by Anonymous

    Perhaps you can begin your independence by looking into FGO’s casting. Three of this upcoming season’s five productions, the Fort Lauderdale audience will see only the second cast. What do you think of that? What does it say about FGO’s priorities?

  2. Posted Jul 04, 2008 at 3:44 pm by Steve Danyew


    I just wanted to say it saddens me to hear the news of your departure from the Herald. However, I’m very excited about your new venture here and I look forward to your continued coverage of our flourishing musical environment in South Florida.

    Best wishes,

  3. Posted Jul 04, 2008 at 7:16 pm by jorge210

    Let the fireworks begin.

  4. Posted Jul 07, 2008 at 6:16 pm by Lawrence A. Johnson

    To Anonymous,
    I asked Justin Moss, managing director for public relations and community affairs at Florida Grand Opera, about your query. Here is his emailed response:

    “We have deliberately not thought in terms of a ‘first’ and ‘second’ cast. By offering those singers in double-cast roles an equal number of performances, we have been able to engage outstanding artists for both casts. It is difficult to field first tier artists for only a performance or two.”

  5. Posted Jul 10, 2008 at 2:37 pm by JW

    I’m very glad to see your work continue in this more hospitable environ. Looking forward to your contributions.
    john mclaughlin williams

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