If you start handing out $50,000 commissions to major artists, there’s not a lot of excuse for coming up almost completely empty-handed at the end of a decade. Muhly’s “Two Boys,” which began under the program’s auspices, made it to the Met’s main stage; everything else was either rejected (like Rufus Wainwright’s “Prima Donna”), fell through, or simply withered on the vine, and no new blood has been added to the pipeline for years.
“What often seems to go unasked is: ‘Who is it for?’ … It’s unlikely that victims of gun violence will draw solace from [a percussion concert], or that grass-roots members of the National Rifle Association will come out of it reconciled with the idea of tighter controls. … [And] how many police commissioners send their law enforcement officials to the opera house for sensitivity training?”
He and librettist Gene Scheer have adapted one of the most famous, and most daunting, of classic Christmas stories: Frank Capra’s film It’s a Wonderful Life. (Talk about daunting: the lead tenor has to risk comparison to Jimmy Stewart.) (includes audio)
British freelance violinist Bethan Doci (aka Bethan Morgan) conned several men out of more than £350,000 total by posting online classified ads claiming she needed money for cancer treatment. (Would patients even need to do that in the land of the NHS?)
“I am tired of picking up a classical music magazine plastered with middle-aged white faces. In the same way that a six-year-old boy in Tower Hamlets can run around the living room in his Cristiano Ronaldo-emblazoned jersey, screaming at the top of his lungs while he watches his hero play on the box, we need to ensure that the next generation of violinists, composers, marketers, vocalists, lighting technicians, managers, bassoonists and producers alike can have the same experience when they pick up their parents’ copy of Gramophone or Classical Music Magazine.”
Jay Nordlinger believes that insisting that black characters in opera be black or Asian characters in theatre be Asian is a perversion of art. Such “authenticity” he believes, goes against the very nature of dramatic portrayal…
L.A. Philharmonic associate concertmaster Nathan Cole (who’s been on both sides of the screen): “Imagine that you have a great-uncle who’s an automobile fanatic. He owns an entire fleet of amazing vehicles, and he makes you an unbelievable offer: he’ll give you whichever one you want. There are only two conditions: this will be the last car you’ll ever own; and you’ll have to make your decision based solely on three-minute test drives. You won’t be able to do any research beforehand. You won’t even know what car you’re test-driving since all the identifying marks will be covered up.”
The director says that Kaija Saariaho’s opera is very much about water, “but when you take it literally and say, ‘I’ll put water onstage,’ water … will do what it wants, and you don’t have any control over it.” (LEDs – we hope – will do what they’re told.) (includes video)
“Tropicália was a movement that lasted just short of a year, spanning from Hélio Oiticica’s 1967 art installation of the same name, wherein viewers walked along a tropical sand path only to come face-to-face with a television set, to the debut of a TV show, wherein its constituents buried the movement on-air. But [it] modernized Brazilian culture just as the country’s ruling military junta began to strangle democracy and expression.”
After the wild success of his Pasión según San Marco, Golijov was one of the first composers Peter Gelb commissioned when he became the company’s general manager. Alas, Golijov seems to have a years-long case of composer’s block; this is by no means the first time he hasn’t been able to complete a major commission.
“Booker on a good night was a wonder of the world… Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, and other peers had huge admiration for Booker’s talent; but his long battle with drugs, the mystery of the missing eye beneath the star-emblazoned black patch and the stark swings of mood suggesting bipolar disorder gave him the reputation of a crazy. A loveable crazy, sometimes, but he was also prone to darkness and unpredictability.”
The composer’s handwritten score for the “Resurrection” Symphony comes from the estate of Gilbert Kaplan, the financial publisher who was obsessed with the work and taught himself to conduct it.
The handwritten score, of an Allegretto in B minor for String Quartet that has no opus number, was expected to fetch £200,000 at auction on Tuesday morning. But an argument the previous evening on BBC Radio 4 between Sotheby’s director of books and manuscripts and a Beethoven scholar at Manchester University threw a big old monkey wrench into the works.
Did Beethoven write his natural signs in this rather odd way? Yes, says Sotheby’s, which wants to sell the score; not in any of his other scores, so this one’s a copy, says a Beethoven scholar, who got into it with a Sotheby’s specialist on the radio and scared off all the buyers. Classic FM called in an expert of its own for a verdict.
Sure, he’s deeply honored, no question. But, he says, “sometimes the recognition is actually bad for me. In my head it’s tricky because now there’s yet another layer of expectation.” And there’s this: “Maybe I can use this moment to … call attention to the fact that there are problems. For instance, this award has been given to three women out of its 30-year history. And to me that’s kind of an issue.” (includes audio)
The Guild “is seeking permission in court to sell off a memorabilia collection – with an estimated value of more than $1 million – that includes a gold cigarette holder that belonged to the bass Ezio Pinza; a jeweled baton owned by the composer Richard Wagner; and a silver, ivory and diamond pen that was used by the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer.” But they’ll need a court’s permission to do it.
A caveat: downloading is a fairly recent phenomenon, so the results might surprise you. “As researched by Billboard, the answer lies within Nielsen Music, which began tracking all digital-music sales in 2003.”
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra only tours at Christmas, and the band likes its spectacle to be truly spectacular – which means a lot of trucks and a lot of crew. Production manager Elliott Saltzman: “Our schedule is pretty amazing. … We’re going to do almost 22,000 miles, 34 states, 61 cities, 105 shows, and 44 double-show days.”
The son of Malcolm McLaren, the manager of the Sex Pistols, burned what he said was 5 million pounds worth of punk memorabilia on the middle of a boat in the Thames. He said: “Punk has become another marketing tool to sell you something you don’t need. …If you want to understand the potent values of punk, confront taboos. Do not tolerate hypocrisy. Investigate the truth for yourself.”
John Neschling, the child of Austrians who fled the Nazis in the 1930s, is a conductor and composer of film scores (“Kiss of the Spider Woman,” for instance). But now he’s been fired as artistic director at São Paulo’s opera house after he was accused in a corruption scandal: “I’m being attacked by liars and thieves in a witch hunt of the lowest caliber,” he says.
Sellars: “Mozart’s very courageous and breathtaking gesture is to treat all people of all classes as equals in the quartets and sextets and trios, where people of very different social status are treated equally by the music. Their humanity is equally honored and represented.”
The Met hasn’t performed an opera written by a woman since Ethel Smyth’s “Der Wald” in 1903. (Read that sentence one more time, and think about it hard.) So it’s a major statement for the company to be adding Ms. Saariaho’s “L’Amour de Loin” to its history — though this is a slightly delicate matter, since she has long resisted being categorized (read: ghettoized) as a “female composer.”
Last year the company announced it was moving to a festival format. General Director Kim Gaynor: “I don’t want to abandon our presence throughout the year. The festival I really believe in because a festival allows you to do things you can’t do in a regular season. But at the same time, we must maintain our traditional audience until they die or they go to Florida or Mexico to retire. We must do that because those audiences still are the lifeblood of the organization.”
The musicians are taking a sizable pay cut in the first year of the new contract’s five-year term, with salaries edging back upward later.
“The sides could agree to a deal as soon as this week, resuscitating the symphony’s dormant season, people with ties to both sides in the labor dispute told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week.”
Covers of novels are ‘revealed’ on social media with no mention of the illustrator, signings take place without both the author and the illustrator of a picturebook present, publishers forget to list illustrators on Amazon, and in a recent case the illustrator of Pigín of Howth by Kathleen Watkins, Margaret Anne Suggs was left off the Irish Book Awards brochure. This is not acceptable and needs to be addressed.
Over eight years, more than 550 musical acts have played at this “Tiny Desk.” The show has attracted a cult following on the internet, partly thanks to its musical curation — a peculiar mix of indie rock, hip-hop, world music, and jazz — but more so because of its authenticity.
Miloš Karadaglić is giving up performing for at least a season to deal with the recurrence of what he describes as a “complex and uncompromising movement disorder.”
The Funeral Song, written in memory of Rinsky-Korsakov in 1908 and believed lost in the Russian Revolution, turned up last year in a back room at the St. Petersburg Conservatoire. Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra will premiere the piece early next month in a concert carried on medici.tv and Mezzo.
“Fans shared their frustration as the websites of official agents struggled to cope with the demand. Many fans spent an hour or more trying and failing to get through, although some were successful.”