How Records Messed Up Classical Music (And The Digital Era Could Fix It)

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Tom Service: “The recording industry tried to fix in the collective imagination what individual musical works should be, like the totemic masterpieces of the Western canon (or rather, like those pieces of music that were turned into canonised totems, in part by the recording industry): a series of desirable, aspirational cultural and commercial objects, a collection of black-lacquer-magicked things that could be literally possessed.” Not any more …

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Classifying Music By Genres Seems So… Yesterday (And Yet)

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“So with the internet letting us hear just about any music and see any musician any time we want, for a comparatively low cost of entry, in theory it could provide an ideal opportunity to get rid of genres. Unfortunately, one thing technology can’t do is make the day longer than 24 hours. There’s more information, and more music, more easily accessible to more people than ever before, but no one actually has time to read or listen to more than a fraction of it. So we still must rely on gatekeepers and sorting mechanisms, one of which is musical genre, and radio, retail, presenters, and media all continue to categorize music according to whether it is rock, pop, hip-hop, country, R&B, classical, blues, folk, jazz, and so on.”

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Where The Met Opera Needs To Take Risks, Not Avoid Them

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Anthony Tommasini: “It’s telling that both sides have latched on to the role of new productions to buttress their arguments. Mr. Gelb has long said that bold new productions will … entice new audiences to the house … The unions claim that the new productions are too risky and expensive. … But this argument over the new productions could compromise the artistic ambition and global influence of the company.”

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Classical Music’s Past Is In As Much Danger As Its Future

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Tim Smith: “Today, you tend to hear more talk about what orchestras are playing, not how; more about what operas are being staged, not how they are being sung. I don’t think there’s nearly enough attention paid by current musicians and audiences to the many ways that music used to be played and felt, how differently it communicated – and how much more grippingly it could be performed today.”

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Conductor Daniel Harding Cops To Having Been “Obnoxious” When He Started His Career

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“I had that attention when I was a very excitable, immature young man. And I look at my colleagues because now there are so many of us, of our generation, and I’m jealous of those who started later and have their great moment in the sun when they’re kind of grown up. I’m always going to be paying for the impression I created as an obnoxious 22-year-old.”

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US Border Officials Seize New Hampshire Teens’ Bagpipes At Border

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“Campbell Webster of Concord and his friend Eryk Bean of Londonderry were returning from Canada on Sunday after a bagpipe competition that served as a tuneup for the world championships in Glasgow, Scotland. The 17-year-olds, fresh off winning several top prizes in the competition in Maxville, Ont., east of Ottawa, got to a small border crossing in Vermont when they were told they’d have to relinquish their pipes because they contain ivory.”

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Soprano Dislocates Knee Onstage, Finishes Opera Anyway (With No Painkillers!)

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“Opera singer Christiane Karg soldiered on until the end of a performance at Glyndebourne despite dislocating her knee during the show. The German star fell on stage during the first act and received swift medical treatment. But she declined painkillers and performed the rest of her role in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera seated.”

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Critic Launches Foundation To Support And Commission American Music

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“Lawrence A. Johnson, a Chicago music critic, got tired of complaining that musical organizations were not performing enough American music and decided to do something about it. Mr. Johnson, the founder of The Classical Review, a group of websites with Chicago, Boston, New York and Florida editions, … [has founded] the American Music Project, a nonprofit foundation that hopes to put a brighter spotlight on the American repertory, old and new, and to commission new works.”

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Sacramento Philharmonic And Opera Cancel Fall Season

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“The decision follows months of financial uncertainty for the Sacramento Region Performing Arts Alliance, the organization formed last year when the philharmonic merged with the Sacramento Opera. … It remains unclear whether its musicians will return to the stage in the spring of 2015.”

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Japan’s Saito Kinen Festival Renamed For Seiji Ozawa

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The 78-year-old conductor, largely sidelined from performing in recent years by ill health, will continue to serve as the festival’s general director, though the festival orchestra (with which Ozawa has made some of his finest recordings) will keep the Saito Kinen name.

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Australian Gov’t Orders Review Of Opera Funding

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“No-one should be too surprised by the National Opera Review which promises to take a good look at Opera Australia, Opera Queensland, State Opera of South Australia and West Australian Opera. Governments want to know their money is well spent, and the conservatives have shown that they are not afraid to be radical in their approach to arts funding – and opera in particular.”

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Just Who Are The 15 Unions Negotiating Contracts With The Met Opera?

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“About 2,400 of the Met’s 3,400 employees are union members. They cover a broad swath of activities ranging from singing in the chorus, playing in the orchestra, dancing, painting sets, running the box office, singing solo roles, working in the call center, posting bills (advertising posters), running cameras and taking tickets.”

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Met Opera Debacle – It’s About Leadership

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Peter Gelb is “right that opera in its current form is not sustainable — something of a given in a field that has literally no independent commercial viability, relies entirely on donations, can’t hope for significant European-style government funding in this country, and is paying hundreds of people very large salaries. The unions are also right that the problem is partly artistic.”

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Met Opera Extends Contract Deadline At Last Minute

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“The Metropolitan Opera postponed a threatened lockout late on Thursday night, saying that it had done so at the request of a federal mediator who was brought in at the 11th hour to try to salvage its contract negotiations with the unions representing its orchestra and chorus.”

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Chicago Symphony Exec Named New Director Of San Diego Symphony

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“Martha Gilmer’s role has been large. In addition to working with the music directors, their ideas and complex personalities and overseeing all programming, she worked with and enlisted guest conductors and guest artists and created new ongoing programs to move the organization into the 21st century.”

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Newport Jazz At 60 – Grandad To The Modern Festival

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“For the past 60 years, no institution has done more to help establish jazz as a legitimate art form than Newport and the notion of the jazz festival that Mr. Wein created. Where jazz once rubbed shoulders with pop stars like Frank Sinatra, it now competes for government and corporate funding with opera and chamber music.”

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Why The Vienna Philharmonic Sounds Different From Other Orchestras

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“The “Vienna sound” has been the subject of reams of music criticism, academic research, acoustical experiments and more than a little debate. Not everyone agrees on precisely what it is — it is sometimes described as plush, warm and rich or sumptuous — but many listeners say that they know it when they hear it.”

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Met Opera Proposes Federal Mediator For Last-Minute Labor Talks

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“With time running out before a lockout of its workers threatened for later this week, the Metropolitan Opera proposed on Wednesday that federal mediators be brought in at the 11th hour to facilitate negotiations with several of the company’s unions. But it was unclear if the unions would agree to a mediator, or if there was enough time left to forge a deal.” (includes video)

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