“The way we look at this violin, from an investment point of view, is that this is a store of value,” Allain said. “We are big investors in gold. That’s a store of value, to the extent that someone is saying it’s worth something, just as we think bitcoin is worth something. This Stradivarius—it’s a finite supply. It’s musical gold.”
Judith Weir says there is still a sneaking suspicion that the world of classical music is carved up by a few big institutions and a handful of powerful cultural leaders. That really is an establishment; but Weir does not need the role of the master for access to classical music’s top table. The opportunity of the role, she says, “is to avoid all that – and go and meet the other people”.
“Between low royalties, opaque payout rates, declining record sales and suspicion that the major labels have cut deals with the streamers that leave musicians out of the equation, anger from the music business’s artier edges is slow[ly] growing. … The shift to digital is also helping to isolate these already marginalized genres: It has a decisive effect on what listeners can find, and on whether or not an artist can earn a living from his work.”
“The military is one of the largest employers of musicians in the Washington area; indeed, the Army’s Web site claims that the institution is “the oldest and largest employer of musicians in the world.” The combined budget for the nation’s military bands was projected, in 2013, at $388 million (before sequester-related cutbacks).”
“At its best, no art form is more thrilling than grand opera, yet none is at greater risk of following the dinosaurs down the cold road to extinction. The New York City Opera was forced to close its doors last year after seven decades of introducing nonrich New Yorkers to big-house opera. That could happen to the Met, too, unless Mr. Gelb—or his successor—takes a searching look at the company’s artistic policy.”
“According to the opera statistics website Operabase, last year 7,230 opera performances took place in Germany, one-third of the world’s total. The United States was a distant second, at 1,730 performances, followed by Russia and France, at 1,441 and 1,288, respectively. Austria ranked sixth, at 1,252 performances, and Switzerland ninth, at 795.”
“Sometime a few years ago some local members of the arts scene decided that it would be fun to start a summer opera company and hold all the productions in an outdoor platz that is part of the ruins of an old milling company, now turned into an educational museum. The next morning, when they had sobered up, it still seemed like a good idea, so they ran with it. The result is one of the most fun and entertaining additions to the Twin Cities art scene in many a year.”
“Now 24, Matthew Aucoin has become one of the most sought-after young voices in classical music. He also is one of the most ambitious, setting himself the goal of transforming opera into something other than musical spinach for a new generation. He is as close as the art form comes to a triple threat, racking up accomplishments as a composer, conductor and pianist.”
“There’s a lot of blame to spread around for our music appreciation downgrade: illegal downloads, corporate record companies missing the digital curve, overly compressed music resulting in fatigue and “digititus,” and the low-res quality of mp3 files, to name only a few factors. All of these things contribute to the devaluing of music as a distinct primary experience. But I think there’s a single phenomenon that’s working harder than all the others: The constant bombardment of music functioning as an aspect of an environment, in spaces from restaurants to government offices to bars to shopping malls, reducing music to just so much sonic wallpaper.”
Sharon Pian Chan: “The Mikado is the same shtick, different race. A black wig and white face powder stand in for shoeshine. Bowing and shuffling replaces tap dancing. Fans flutter where banjos would be strummed. … This is the wrong show – wrong for Seattle, wrong for this country and wrong for this century. And I don’t mean wong.”
Company business manager Pamela Kelley Elend: “Ms. Chan formed her opinion, and it is an opinion not backed up by facts, research, or actually seeing a performance … She wielded that power [of the press] to lob the journalistic equivalent of a flaming bag of dog poop on our door step. We can try to stomp out the fire, and rinse off the residue, but we are still tainted by the stink.”
“Bruce Kallos, board chairman of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra, died suddenly Sunday afternoon at Wilmington Hospital from complications associated with a blood infection. He was 79. … Kallos was elected in April to the symphony’s highest leadership post, after former board chairwoman Tatiana Copeland abruptly resigned.”
“Sila is actually five separate scores – one each for strings, winds, brass, percussion, and chorus – that can be performed concurrently in any combination, from one section at a time to all five together. ‘If you just perform it with strings, then it’s pretty delicate, like a Japanese rock garden,’ Adams says. But gather the whole thing into an ensemble that is 80 strong, and the result should be able to hold its own.” It’ll need to – it’s premiering outdoors in Manhattan.
“Fair trade deals with the ethical treatment of labor in the production and supply chain rather than the ethical sourcing of materials, so it works well for a field like music, where the primary product is good vibrations. The fair trade movement is a project 50-plus years in the making, with a core set of criteria by which to evaluate if products have been produced ethically.”
“According to Operabase, an opera-statistics website, the world’s 40 most-performed opera composers last season were all dead. The most-performed living composer, Philip Glass, only saw his operas performed 66 times, compared with 2,586 performances for the top-ranked Verdi. Contemporary theatre, in contrast, is not only performed regularly, but attracts large crowds.”
“Symphonic music in gambling resorts isn’t unknown (the Philadelphia Orchestra plays the casino mecca Macau on its Far East tours). Still, with Atlantic City’s economy faltering … you might expect entertainment to trend a little lower rather than aim at a classical niche.” But not at the upscale Borgata, which just hosted Yuja Wang playing a Shostakovich piano concerto.
“In the obituaries and tributes that will flood the media in the coming hours and days and weeks, Castleton will not play as large as the major international ensembles Maazel shaped and led … But for the Washington region, Castleton offered a closer and more personal look at Maazel’s life and work, and even family.”
“This is a piece that reflects the life of a G, F, or A type star. This pulls together two major interests of mine: astronomy and composition. This piece is for a middle-sized orchestra with the addition of saxophones, but a few future projects I had in mind would be smaller chamber works. Specifically, I wanted to write a piece about the western United States.”
“Total physical album sales were down 14.9% in the US in the first half of 2014, to just shy of 121 million units. CD sales led the way down, falling by 19.6% (there were still nearly 63 million of them sold), while digital album sales were down 11.6% to 53.8 million units. Set against that, the 4 million vinyl albums sold are an irrelevance.”
“The way that 78s are nothing like LPs has to do with the music recorded on them. 78s are often the only remaining example of a recorded song. Since metal masters were usually not made of 78 recordings, as Petrusich puts it, “if the records themselves break, or are crammed into a flood-prone basement, or tossed into a dumpster, then that particular song is gone, forever.” It took a couple of chapters to really sink in for me. But think about that for a second: There are amazing songs out there that no one living today has ever heard, or will ever hear.”