What Makes A Good Conductor? And Do Conducting Competitions Help Find Whatever It Is?

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“How you define that something, though, is hard; and its elusiveness can turn conducting competitions into strange events of questionable meaning. … Good orchestras instinctively compensate for directorial shortcomings. But hearing successive conductors unleashed on the same orchestra in quick turnover, as is the case in such competitions, shows that the person wielding the stick can make a difference.”

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London (Ontario) Orchestra On The Ropes

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“The publicly funded group is lurching into the third major financial crisis in recent history after its biggest-ever donation recently fell apart, leaving it with a massive deficit for the 2013-14 season.”

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Spirits Are Up – And So Are Ticket Sales And Buzz – At Indianapolis Symphony

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“Just two years ago, the future of the eight-decades-old orchestra seemed iffy. Cash-strapped and with its musicians and management at odds over a new contract, the ISO board canceled the first two weeks of the 2012-13 season. … Now, fortunes are rebounding. After three consecutive years of shrinking, ticket sales for 2013-14 rose to $7.5 million from $6.4 million the previous year.”

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They’ve Already Been Workshopping This Opera, But They’ve Only Now Announced The Composer

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“The composer usually is first to come aboard, even in the most unconventional operas. However, the appointment of Opera Philadelphia’s now-in-process ANDY: A Popera composer Dan Visconti was only announced this week – for a piece that has already had public workshop performances by the Philadelphia cabaret group the Bearded Ladies.”

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Danish National Chamber Orchestra Will Shut Down After All (The Chili Peppers Didn’t Work)

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“Culture Minister Marianne Jelved said on Tuesday that she has signed a new public-service agreement with broadcaster DR that will see the 42-person orchestra shut down as planned. Jelved said that although a majority of parliament was against the closing of the orchestra, politicians were unable to come up with a realistic alternative for funding it.”

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New Sacred Music Is Now Cool (And “Squeaky-Gate Music” Is Over)

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Peter Phillips, director of the Tallis Scholars: “The standard of singing in our liturgical and concert choirs has steadily gone up, to the point where many non-Christian composers now feel able to express themselves fully writing for them. … Sacred choral music has aligned itself with orchestral and operatic composition as an accepted medium for contemporary thought.”

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Musical Tourism – It Can Deeply Warp Your Sense Of Reality

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“Traditions, styles, vernaculars—so many new pieces I hear these days pledge allegiance to some form of authenticity, some repertoire, some community. A lot of times, such pieces are the result of a deep engagement with the cited style on the part of composer and performer; a lot of times, it’s simply an expression of momentary curiosity. But much of the listener’s intended satisfaction is to come from the feeling that the experience has been both unfamiliar and authentic. In other words: the ideal tourist experience.”

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An American Violinist Attacks The Suzuki Method – And Suzuki Himself

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“The kerfuffle exploded in the violin world like an out-of-tune screech in a Haydn quartet. The Suzuki method is vastly popular, selling some half a million books a year, according to its publisher; Mr. O’Connor is a star who has toured with the jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli, worked as a major session musician in Nashville, composed for the concert hall and recorded with top musicians including Yo-Yo Ma.”

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Serial Opera (In Series, Not Notes)

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“Although it will be filmed before live audiences, it is meant to be seen on television or online, in short installments that will be released over two years. The production will also include online extras, including video clips that look at the process of composing and staging the piece.”

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Minnesota Orchestra’s News It “Only” Lost $650K This Year Is Greeted With Relief

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Revenue in the year ending Aug. 31 reached $20.8 million and expenses totaled just under $21.5 million. Smith said the budget for the current fiscal year is about $29 million, compared with several years in the recent past when expenses reached as high as $32.4 million (in 2009). The decrease in musicians’ compensation accounts for $1.7 million, he said.

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Toronto Symphony Reverses Reverses And Finishes Its Year With A Surplus

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“The deficit era is over,” new CEO Jeff Melanson said in an interview before the TSO’s annual general meeting where it was announced the orchestra posted a modest surplus of $222,349 on revenues of nearly $24 million. It’s a considerable improvement over last year’s deficit of $1.2 million and $800,000 the year before.

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Donor Pledges $100 Million For Opera House, Dies; Theatre Sues, Court Rules

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“The planned theater has been the subject of one of the most closely watched legal battles in the worlds of classical music and philanthropy, after a major benefactor of the Lucerne Festival, Christof Engelhorn, offered to donate more than $100 million to build it, but died before the money was paid. That led officials from the festival to sue for the money.”

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Violinist Stuns Audience, Berates Child From The Stage

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Kyung Wha Chung took offence at a child coughing during her performance of Mozart’s Sonata In G. “Maybe bring her back when she’s older,” she scolded the parents from the stage. “With one shrivelling put-down, a tetchy atmosphere turned toxic.”

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Globalization’s Downside For New Music

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“For all their strengths, new music festivals like Tanglewood or the Bang on a Can Marathon can’t attract the same sort of money (and therefore glamour and press attention) as the Whitney, São Paolo, or Venice biennials. Art, through the biennial, can become particularly symbolic of the flow of global capital—often concretely too, as works are bought and sold. Music, as a time-based art form rooted in experiences rather than in objects, cannot attract the same level of capital investment.”

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Can The Atlanta Symphony Survive Its Downsizing?

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“Questions remain, and not just about the evolution of the orchestra’s sound as things fall back into place. Can Atlanta pull together to sustain a world-class orchestra, or are we seeing an orchestra in retreat?”

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San Diego Opera Was Nowhere Near Financial Collapse Last Season, Audit Shows

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The company’s previous board and general director abruptly tried to shut down the company last spring, claiming that there was not money or local interest enough to keep it going. But the audited financial statements for that season show an operating deficit of $52,067 on operating expenses of $15.9 million – roughly one-sixth the deficit of the previous season.

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Did This Guy Reinvigorate Music Education And Make It Viable?

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“Two months on, the success, not to mention the sheer speed, of the campaign, is impressive. Over 6,000 instruments were handed in to the 700 Oxfam stores acting as collection points. The instruments were then matched to specific requests from 150 primary schools across the UK, and delivered by Yodel. Each school has received up to 20 appropriately-sized instruments.”

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