He threw his weight behind a £280 million (324 million euro, $347 million) project aimed at creating a “Centre for Music” equipped for the digital era. The plans involve building a new hall on the site of the Museum of London, which is relocating nearby, which would become the new home of the LSO.
“Opera lovers routinely avoid new works for just this reason: They’re not going to be on a par with the masterpieces that still make up the bulk of the operatic canon. Part of the problem is the delivery mechanism: New opera is less available than a new book and, generally, a lot more expensive. Wouldn’t it be great if new opera were presented like a film festival? Yes — and more and more festivals are trying it.”
“Music is probably Congo’s most influential export, though nowhere near as lucrative as copper or gold. Whereas in the West the country’s name inspires pictures of child soldiers fighting bloody battles, in most of Africa it is associated with “rumba Lingala” (Lingala is the language of the Kinshasa street). This upbeat music has become genuinely pan-African in the 60 years since Congolese musicians were first inspired by Cubans.”
The company’s general manager says that “postponing” the new Verdi Forza del destino staging, a co-production with English National Opera, by Calixto Bieito will save the financially troubled Met $1 million. (Gelb didn’t mention that Bieito is probably the most controversial, not to say notorious, of the directors with new productions planned for 2016-17.)
Brisbane Baroque was a huge hit with audiences, critics, and awards bodies (it won five Helpmann Awards including one for the best opera production in all of Australia), but musicians and creditors went months without getting paid and the festival’s executive director checked himself into a psych ward.
“The gold was recently discovered by a tuner inside a Broadwood upright piano which had originally been sold in 1906 by a musical instruments shop in Saffron Walden, Essex.”
“The list of partners includes virtually every major and many minor orchestras, with commissioned composers including Andrew Balfour, Chan Ka Nin, Kevin Lau, Nicole Lizée and John Rea among others. The orchestras themselves have been invited to choose the composers with whom they would like to work, with the TSO agreeing to perform the full complement of fanfares.”
“The allure of this programming from an orchestra’s perspective is easy to see. In their never-ending quest to bring in new audiences — particularly patrons for whom the standard classical repertoire is less familiar terrain than it was to their parents and grandparents — the San Francisco Symphony and similar organizations have found a product that exerts a different sort of allure from that of a Brahms or Mahler symphony.”
Conlon is celebrating his 10th anniversary with the opera, and so far he’s conducted “a record number of performances.”
“People say, ‘I would go more if I was represented on stage,'” says one former board member. But it took until 2015 and the Minnesota Orchestra’s tour of Cuba to create a diversity committee. “There is not a single black musician among the orchestra’s permanent members.”
“The reasons for the Met’s less than spectacular performance at the box office remain somewhat obscure, particularly since, on a day to day basis, the company offers what is likely the strongest casting of any opera company in the world.” Indeed, the Met is in the middle of “a golden age of vocalism.”
“The auditorium—the largest of three concert halls in the Elbphilharmonie—is a product of parametric design, a process by which designers use algorithms to develop an object’s form. Algorithms have helped design bridges, motorcycle parts, typefaces—even chairs. In the case of the Elbphilharmonie, Herzog and De Meuron used algorithms to generate a unique shape for each of the 10,000 gypsum fiber acoustic panels that line the auditorium’s walls like the interlocking pieces of a giant, undulating puzzle.”
“The scheme, costed at £278m, appeared derailed in November when the [national] government unexpectedly announced it was withdrawing money it had pledged for a detailed business case to be made. On Thursday the City [of London] said it would provide the money, up to £2.5m, needed to complete it.” The move comes just as Hamburg has opened its new concert hall to ecstatic reviews.
Rick Fulker: “From my vantage point, the stage was far below, but despite the distance from the source of the music, I had the sensation of sitting amidst it. … [The program] spanned five centuries of Occidental art music, and the interior space played along. Soloists and small ensembles sometimes performed from the upper balconies, but whether five or fifty meters away, they sounded equally vivid as the orchestra down there onstage.”
“Composers across the country have been outraged over a competition launched by the Canadian House of Commons in honour of [the confederation’s sesquicentennial].” The main issue is award money so stingy that even former prime minister Stephen Harper might be embarrassed.
Markus Rhoten grew up in Germany with American parents who were professional musicians themselves. (He didn’t take up his father’s instrument, the trumpet, because “I was worried it would make me a bad kisser.”)
The legendary art collection in Philadelphia has an in-house curation team planning the events, “aiming to elucidate the paintings and sculptures while exploring the concepts behind them.” For one of the series, the museum is even assembling its own ensemble “for intensive two-weeks-or-more workshops and performances [exploring] complex modern works.”
The combination of miniature, struggling, and titanic companies makes for an operatic ecosystem that is as rich as it is fragile. The question is: can the city sustain it?
The Met sent Pretty Yende over to sing “Una voce poco fa” from Barber of Seville, and both the studio audience and the Twitterverse were thrilled. “The question is, did the diva appearance foster any new opera fans, or was this just hopeful thinking?” Michael Vincent considers.
What a change from the strike back in 2010! The three-year agreement includes a bit more money for players, more flexibility, and a brand-new stipend.
That quote is from PSO president Melia Tourangeau, who says the new contract offers “some breathing room right now” but that the orchestra badly needs to expand its donor base.
Robert Moody joined the orchestra in 2005; he says that he and the board “all felt really strong in our belief that a decade, give or take a few years on either side, was about the right amount of time.”
“Under Shui’s baton, the SSO has gone from a promising national ensemble to winning international acclaim. Its televised BBC Proms debut in 2014 received four out of five stars in The Guardian and The Telegraph. It was hailed as possibly ‘one of the great orchestras of the 21st century’ by the London Spectator after a 2010 performance at London’s Royal Festival Hall.”
Conductor Teddy Abrams: “I thought, ‘wait a minute, instead of focusing on how to get a larger share of the state budget — which by the way is next to nothing; I think we get $30,000 from the state — maybe we should focus on getting an orchestra to serve the entire state and start using culture to break down some of these divides …. Because this just can’t go on. It’s ridiculous: Here are people living right next to each other who can’t have a meaningful dialogue, and who assume nothing will ever change. So I keep thinking, ‘what can I do about that?’”
The director of the Elbphilharmonie says that tickets to performances by resident ensembles, touring orchestras like the New York Philharmonic and Chicago Symphony, chamber music, new music and jazz alike are all bought up within hours. He’s even selling “blind date” tickets to concerts by artists to be named later – and people are buying those, too.
Teddy Abrams: “I thought, ‘wait a minute, instead of focusing on how to get a larger share of the state budget – which by the way is next to nothing; I think we get $30,000 from the state – maybe we should focus on getting an orchestra to serve the entire state and start using culture to break down some of these divides.’ Because this just can’t go on. It’s ridiculous: Here are people living right next to each other who can’t have a meaningful dialogue, and who assume nothing will ever change.”
And that would explain why he’s managed to produce more than 30 of them – in particular the chamber operas he writes between major commissions. “I’ve found that experimental theatre companies are prepared to take on these things, and it is a handy form to work in, not requiring huge budgets.”
There are reports that “Google showed interest in purchasing the company. SoundCloud currently boasts more than 175 million users around the world. While Spotify may have purchased the company for its 2014 $1 billion price, Google may spend just $500 million. The Big 3 labels – Universal, Sony, and Warner – own stakes in SoundCloud Ltd. If Google purchases the music streamer, the Big 3 will get a windfall.”
Accordion? Yes, occasionally an orchestra has to find one, as when the Philharmonic did a Kurt Weill score last week. As it happens, there’s one guy who specializes in playing accordion with symphony orchestras.
In the fall of 2015, historians visiting the Altomünster Abbey outside Munich found in its library “at least 500 books, … including precious illuminated manuscripts from the 16th century, chants used by the uniquely women-led Bridgettine Order and processionals bursting with colorful religious and ornamental decoration in their margins.” Not long afterwards, the Vatican decided to close the convent, which has only one nun left, and put the entire collection on lockdown, and the Munich archdiocese refuses to let researchers near it.