“Despite the massive success of Adele’s album 25, which sold a whopping 7.4 million copies in only six weeks, 2015 marked the first time in U.S. history that new releases were outsold by catalogue albums.”
“He has been credited with lifting the standard of the Dallas Symphony, an achievement that gained wider recognition when he was named Musical America’s Conductor of the Year in 2012.”
“What the New York Philharmonic more urgently lacked under Gilbert was a dynamic, charismatic figure able to galvanize excitement around the orchestra’s concerts. It’s not clear that van Zweden fully offers that.”
“At a press conference this morning, the Philharmonic introduced Jaap van Zweden, who will take up his duties in 2018. He was in transit from Hong Kong, where he conducts the Hong Kong Philharmonic, to Dallas, where he leads the Dallas Symphony. He will simplify his schedule in order to make room for America’s oldest and testiest orchestra.”
“A new bill from Philly City Councilman Mark Squilla would require owners of nightclubs, cabarets, bars and restaurants in the city to collect the names, addresses, and phone numbers of entertainers — bands, rappers and DJs — in a registry, and to share that personal information with police upon request.”
“The computerized programming of the International Touring Organ delivers what’s in essence a digitized synthesis of the sounds of Carpenter’s favorite pipe and electronic organs” – theater organs as well as church and concert-hall instruments – with “five manuals (keyboards), a specialized pedalboard, and controls for the stops [as well as] a supercomputer/amplifier unit, the brains of the array, and an expansive proprietary system of specialized speakers. But no pipes.”
“The most hotly awaited event of the opera season just got a new leading man. Cold Mountain, the years-in-the-works Jennifer Higdon opera based on Charles Frazier’s 1997 Civil War-era novel, was written with star baritone Nathan Gunn in mind – but he has been replaced by up-and-coming Jarrett Ott. Gunn withdrew from the Feb. 5-14 run at the Academy of Music. His stated reason was family illness.”
The Met says that Kaufmann has withdrawn from the production, which opens on Feb. 12, due to illness. Alagna, who has never sung the lead tenor role, is stepping out of the Met’s current run of Pagliacci in order to learn it.
“That leaves two conductors who are considered leading contenders for the position: Jaap van Zweden, the music director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, and Manfred Honeck, the music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra — though dark-horse candidates have been known to emerge victorious in the orchestra’s past searches.”
“Starting Monday, Fort Worth Symphony members are working under new terms. The contract that musicians turned down, and that management imposed anyway, cuts their wages by eight-and-a-half percent.”
“In the sixties, pop music in West Germany was in a peculiar state. … But, as with the New German Cinema that emerged in that decade, new German sounds had begun to take shape. … The German press (and, for the most part, German audiences) ignored the ‘Krautrock’ bands entirely. But in advertisements and airports, on film soundtracks, and in concert halls, high and low, the music is still in the air, all around us.”
The 2016 edition, for singers, is being postponed to 2017, as the organizers take “a period necessary to recast the competition … [a year] to rethink, rebuild, and offer a new form” adapted to new media. The annual event in Paris has awarded prizes to pianists and violinist, in alternating years, since 1943; singers were added to the rotation in 2011. (in French; Google Translate version here)
Chris Addison: “It seems mental to me. … People imagine it is all dickie bows. I have seen great stuff here; paid £6 and sat at the back. True, there are top price tickets I would never buy, but there are super-expensive seats at Arsenal too. You could come to four operas for the price of an Arsenal ticket and have two quid over for a lovely cup of coffee.”
“What I’m most convinced about is that we need to do things more than once to create new traditions, new expectations, new habits, and we can’t backtrack if something isn’t on the box office level we want. Our composer festival sold well, but it didn’t sell out. That doesn’t mean we stop doing it.”
“British orchestras must make ‘a real step change’ to allow a wider diversity of backgrounds into their ranks, according to culture minister, Ed Vaizey. In a strongly worded appeal to a group of musicians and orchestral managers in Birmingham on Friday night, the minister put pressure on leaders in the music world to do more.”
“If Warren’s career were one of her songs, she’d be in the bridge right now, the section that emphasizes the contrast between the verses and choruses, and which brings us back to the huge chorus at the end. ‘I’m so into the next,’ she said.”
I said this expecting a boiler plate #AllCommunitiesMatter-style answer which really means “rich kids in Ballard get the symphony brought to them.” and I would have sighed and that would’ve been that. But she paused and said “You know I’ve been told I can say this, because this is very important to me,” and then I proceeded to get schooled.
“In generations gone by, conductors and stage directors worked as a pair, often for a long time, and mutually agreed upon their hierarchy. Today, conductors and stage directors maintain schedules that send them across the world, meaning that the creative duo may not meet long before the first rehearsal. In the past, stage directors would quickly have acquiesced to conductors’ demands.”
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim: “Where does this emphasis on purity come from? What does it mean to singers and conductors? And to writers: As a critic who is compelled to use metaphors to describe the intangible qualities of a performance, I also wonder about the assumptions I’m making when I use certain words. … In the course of phone interviews with performers and scholars, I received an invigorating plurality of points of view – and a sobering reminder of the gap between the way critics and singers talk about the same voices.”
Management’s plan, which they say they will implement unilaterally if musicians don’t approve it on Friday, “cuts musician pay by 8.4 percent and trims vacation and weeks of work, but won’t reduce the number of concerts in a season. Members say they took 13.5 percent cuts five years ago and shouldn’t face more because the city and economy are growing again.”
“About 15 years ago, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra underwent a dramatic transformation. It hired a new music director, Miguel Harth-Bedoya. It launched the Millennium campaign, which eventually raised $28 million for an orchestra endowment. … And then the recession hit during the 2008-09 symphony season.” And while the stock market and the economy, nationally and locally, have bounced back since 2009, the FWSO’s endowment and annual revenues have not, despite increased ticket sales and new contributors.
Ben Ratliff: “What is sadness in sound per se? Nothing. It doesn’t exist. There is no note or kind of note that in and of itself is sad and only sad. … But the construct of sadness, and the attendant contract that it helps build between musician and listener, has to do with how we might recognize it person-to-person.”
“Young children have a remarkably selective sensitivity to shared cultural knowledge. Children both prefer others who know songs they themselves know, and avoid others who know songs they do not know.”
The summer event, “which conductor Lorin Maazel founded on his private estate in Virginia in 2009 and nurtured until his death in 2014, … [will] take a year-long hiatus. … ‘I have no finances anymore,’ said Dietlinde Maazel, the actress and widow of the conductor, who took over the festival after her husband’s death.”
‘Classical includes a range of new artists and sounds: from the minimalism of Steve Reich to the percussion of Inuksuit Ensemble. Contemporary artists like Maya Beiser, who transforms our expectations of the soloist by using technology to layer her own playing of different parts on the cello, and Max Richter, who merges violin, orchestra and synthesiser, should be considered no different to the Stravinskys and Schuberts of eras past. Such artists create a valuable entry point for new listeners, whatever their age.”
“Nearly 670 people had bought roughly $323,000 worth of tickets for performances that were canceled when City Opera went bankrupt in 2013” – and they’ll be getting their money back from NYCO Renaissance, the group that’s reviving the company.
“Since she joined NCCO in 2008, Salerno-Sonnenberg led the orchestra over a robust period of growth, including a Featured Composer program, commissioning eight new works and expanding the string orchestra repertoire, going on three extensive national tours, publishing three live recordings on her own NSS music label.”
“Chamber orchestras too often cede the limelight to their larger cousins. Composers today tend to want to go large, ruling out smaller groups like ours approaching their work. That’s a critical mistake, not only in terms of possibilities of performance but also in the development of the composer.”
“I actually think there is a great new word for Classical Music, one that’s been hiding in plain sight, as they say. So with a bow of gratitude to Leonard The Great, who helped me and millions of others experience great music on its own terms and in all its wonder, I hereby propose it.”
Opera Orlando, formerly Florida Opera Theatre, “will announce this week that two professionals with national reputations will take the helm full-time – a level of commitment to the genre not seen since the collapse of Orlando Opera in 2009. After that company went bankrupt, a small but fiercely devoted group of volunteers formed Florida Opera Theatre to stage small-scale productions and recitals.”