With rumors having circulated for so many years, “it will come to the surprise of no one if tiny skeletons come tumbling out of James Levine’s closet like candy from a piñata. At the same time, if any and all of those accusations were to be untrue, no one would stop for a second to consider that an allegation is hardly proof. … And since you can’t prove a negative (or innocence, really), James Levine is now absolutely damned, because it’s just too convenient and all-too-plausible to believe what is being reported.”
Sebastian F. Schwarz, who became general director of the English “country-house opera” festival in May 2016, basically said (in the euphemistic way of such statements) that he isn’t cut out for running a private, non-state-funded company.
Dale Johnson, alongside longtime president Kevin Smith, saw the company through more than one crisis and led it to become one of the most admired regional opera houses in the country, one with a special emphasis on producing new work.
The reggaeton-pop tune by Luis Fonsi, featuring Daddy Yankee, was number one in 47 countries.
“The company is an outgrowth from, and a uniquely regressive example of, the 19th-century commercial opera houses that flourished through specialization, activity, and growth. August companies erected massive buildings, mounted expensive shows, packed in audiences, and concentrated prestige in the hands of very few gatekeepers, all of them men. That power structure produced a century and a half of lavishly misogynistic operas in which women are constantly going mad, turning into prostitutes, dying, or all three.”
Three men have now accused the conductor of abusing them when they were teenagers. “I don’t know why it was so traumatic,’ [Christopher] Brown, who is now 66, said in a recent interview at his home in St. Paul, Minn., fighting tears at the memory, which he said he was moved to share as part of the national reckoning over sexual misconduct. ‘I don’t know why I got so depressed. But it has to be because of what happened. And I care deeply for those who were also abused, all the people who were in that situation.'”
It all depends on how you experienced the holiday as a child, apparently. (Also, it depends on whether you’re trapped working in a retail environment where Christmas music plays endlessly, and on repeat.)
Composer David Lang wrote the Symphony for a Broken Orchestra, and “more than 1,500 broken musical instruments have been sourced from the dusty corridors of the School District of Philadelphia, which has no budget to fix them.”
The abuse started when the alleged victim was 15, and it was “sexual abuse that lasted for years and led the alleged victim to the brink of suicide,” according to the report. Also according to the report, the alleged victim informed the Met about the abuse in October of 2016. “Earlier this year, Ravinia bestowed a new title on Levine — conductor laureate — and he is expected to lead concerts and hold master classes during two-week summer residencies through 2022.”
“The video above traces the strings’ journey from the butcher to the sound bridge. Fair warning: if you’re not a fan of watching the proverbial sausage get made, maybe give this one a pass – or at least skip the front end, which deals with a lot of raw intestines.”
The North State Symphony was performing Firebird in Redding, California, and at one point where there’s a big, sudden crescendo, one Stephanie Evans screamed. Alas for her, the moment was caught on video. Here’s how the conductor and orchestra handled it, and how Evans explains it.
“During a small lecture at a private residence in Delray Beach earlier this month, I watched a houseplant play music, unabashedly and beautifully. Potted and still, it was hooked up to a MIDI machine via electrodes, its bio-emissions creating twinkling melodies. Attached to the same machine, an orchid and rosemary plant played nothing, but this one was active and virtuosic, as though it enjoyed playing.” A reporter talks to a leader of the Music of the Plants project about how all this works.
Before the Philharmonie de Paris opened in early 2015, many observers fretted that the mostly older, well-heeled classical music fans in the city would not travel out to a big, modernist venue on the northern edge of the city. Nearly three years later, concerts are selling better than they used to at the (older and smaller) Salle Pleyel, and the crowds are younger and more diverse.
“Though Faith Syovata had almost lost her voice because of a cold, the students still hung on her every whispered word. With violins tucked under their chins, the 14-year-olds at Kawangware Primary School here had their bows at the ready as she pointed out notes for the song on the blackboard.” A reporter visits a Sistema classroom in a Nairobi slum.
“It has seemed that for the entire 2010s thus far, Facebook has been a place for composers and co. (whether to chat, laugh, share work, share opportunities, discuss musical issues, discuss politics, fight like hell) to come together. The same is true for actors, string players, academics, doctors, and bankers, to some extent, I’m assuming. But for composers, or for the several hundred spread over six continents whom I’m FBfriends with, at any rate, it has functioned as one of the relevant gathering places for those of us who couldn’t make it to the show last night. Our lot, as a rule, doesn’t congregate.”
The piece has “taken many aback with some startlingly negative reviews as well as bending-over-backward attempts to find some value in a work by a team that has given us operatic masterpieces in the past. Without question, the most highly anticipated new opera of the year — a year in which John Adams turned 70 and Peter Sellars, 60 — “Girls” has also been presented as the first opera of Trump times. The populist spirit of the 49ers, the lack of regard for the environment in pursuit of wealth, along with the rampant racism against Latinos, Chinese and black people has created the expectation of the kind of political opera that the lyric stage has historically been very adept at.”
“Written for the Danish ensemble Trio con Brio and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, which gave its premiere last year, L’Isola della Città (‘The Island in the City’) unfolds over nearly half an hour in five continuous movements. Stealthy and subtle, its central threesome of soloists – piano, violin and cello, as in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto – finds oases of calm amid flares of intensity from the orchestra.”
“This year’s increased number of artists of color and women may be a response to the current political climate in which many in those groups feel both threatened and moved to speak out. It most certainly reflects the academy’s attempt to address criticism that it is out of touch with notable artists and trends shaping pop music.” (For a complete list of nominees, click here.)
Two of the five opera nominees are by Alban Berg, and the closest thing to a warhorse is The Pearl Fishers. (Unless Wozzeck counts.) All of the nominated orchestras are American, but none are from the old “Big Five.” Three nominations went to the South Dakota Chorale. There’s one likely shoo-in, though: the late Dmitri Hvorostovsky, for Sviridov’s Russia Cast Adrift. (For a complete list of nominees, click here and scroll way down for classical.)
The 50th anniversary edition of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band didn’t make the cut, though the endlessly re-released Gould Goldberg Variations did. (This version includes every single take the pianist did.) The Goldbergs are up against a 25-disc set of Leonard Bernstein conducting Leonard Bernstein, excerpts from an archive of old Somali music that was buried in the desert during the long civil war, 1970’s Afro-pop and jazz from what’s now Burkina Faso, and songs by a zither-playing gospel-blues preacher. (For a complete list of nominees, click here.)
“The prize was given for his triple concerto L’isola della Città (The Island in the City), for violin, cello and piano. The five-movement work (played through continuously) was written for the Danish ensemble Trio Con Brio and The Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and was premiered in Copenhagen in January 2016.” (includes video)
Today, the tools have ripened to the point where, if musicians build enough momentum, a record label becomes an indulgence, rather than a necessity. “Technology has democratised creativity,” says Brian Message, a partner at artist management company ATC. “The tools are in everybody’s hands to be able to create and to promote at any level.”
Lemonade was a hit with both critics and fans, giving Beyoncé her sixth solo No. 1. The ensuing Formation World Tour, much of it falling into our list’s scoring period, grossed a quarter of a billion dollars. Then she took time off as she and husband Jay-Z welcomed twins Rumi and Sir this summer. Adele finished second, earning $69 million, boosted by seven-figure nightly grosses on her first proper tour since 2011.
It’s sad how easily a great arts organization can fall apart. The Oregon Bach Festival, which had already shrunk in size in 2017 compared to previous years, appears to be getting even smaller in the wake of the firing of its artistic director Matthew Halls.
Seriously, where did this formula come from? (And in an era that prioritizes singles far, far above album construction – remember “albums”? – how is this meaningful in the slightest?)
Maybe he was a bit of a jokester: “This was Prokofiev doing his best impression of those guys, but not in the way he had youthfully aped Stravinksy’s style. This time it was, bear with me, a bit. A joke. You’re supposed to be in on the ‘Classical’ Symphony. Recognize its themes and rhythms and what he’s doing.”
“Are Britain’s leading choirs actually the best? We wouldn’t know, because as a concert-going public we take almost no interest in foreign ensembles. Attracting an audience in the UK is one of the most difficult challenges an overseas choral group can face.”
“You would be forgiven for thinking instrument-making reached its endpoint long ago. The orchestra has largely been fixed since the Belgian Adolphe Sax patented his eponymous instrument in the 1840s. And these days, a standard laptop can make so many sounds, why would we need anything new? But there are hundreds, even thousands, of instrument inventors beavering away.”
Nope. She won’t sing the role because she doesn’t want to get typecast in it – “It would drive me nuts.” But it is true, as she tells David Patrick Stearns, that she hums Pierre Boulez to herself.
Says board of directors vice chairman Tony Bucci, “Last year, right, wrong, agree, disagree, ugly or nice, we confronted our problems.”