AJ Logo Get ArtsJournal in your inbox
for FREE every morning!
April 30, 2003

Porn Gains On Music For File-Swappers Will Apple's cool new music file-trading service put file-swapper services such as Gnutella or Morpheus out of business? Not hardly. Why? Because an ever-increasing percentage of files being swapped online isn't music at all - it's porn. "There is absolutely no way Apple is going to make a dent in file sharing. Smut was the most sought-after content on the Gnutella file-trading system, according to a February survey, with 42 percent of all users hunting for blue pictures and movies." Wired 04/30/03

Classical Music - Failure To Graduate British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent admission that he doesn't really appreciate classical music is telling, writes Norman Lebrecht. "The problem is one of late adolescence. Most of us rebel at puberty against parental values, only to adopt most of them willy-nilly when we raise children. It used to be one of the more copper-bottomed truths of the music industry that kids who bought rock and pop in their teens and twenties switched to classics around their mid-thirties. The Blair generation is the first to buck that trend, clinging to decrepit rock idols like Jagger, Dylan and Eric Clapton, and embarrassing their offspring by listening to the White Stripes instead of making a mature transition to more intricate music." London Evening Standard 04/30/03

Why Are Pulitzers So Shortsighted? Why are vjazz and popular music shut out of the annual Pulitzer Prizes? It's become an award about "serious" composers about other "seious" composers. This year's Pulitzer winner spoke out against the Pulitzers' overlooking of wide swaths of American music. So why is the focus so narrow? Village Voice 04/29/03

Florida Orchestra: Good Prospects, But Ugly Numbers The Florida Orchestra has a new incoming music director, a new associate conductor, and a revitalized artistic vision. But it also has the same fiscal stresses being faced by nearly every other professional orchestra in North America. On a budget of $8 million, the Tampa-based Florida Orchestra (not to be confused with the Florida Philharmonic, which is based in Fort Lauderdale and has been warning of impending bankruptcy,) is expected to run a $1 million deficit this season. No one is pushing the panic button just yet, but like so many other non-profits, the orchestra's leaders fear that their organization will not survive much longer without a serious resurgence in the national economy. St. Petersburg Times 04/30/03

Will Apple's Music Service Be A Killer App? So Apple's getting into the music download business. At first look, "the integration between the one-click purchase service, Apple's iTunes music jukebox software and the iPod player goes well beyond what any other music service has done. It will genuinely make paying for music online easy, even an impulse buy, and artists and music labels see that as a big step forward. Label executives privately say the Apple service is an experiment, which could be expanded if it proves successful. Apple's small market share means that the stakes are relatively low." CNet 04/29/03

  • Why Kazaa Isn't Worried About Apple "Will Apple's new paid music service put a dent in free file-trading services like Kazaa and Gnutella? No, because most files being traded on [peer-to-peer file-swapping] sites aren't music files at all. Surprise -- they're porn." Wired 04/30/03

The Industry Gets Direct The recording industry is taking its anti-piracy message directly to song-swapping consumers, sending notices to thousands of file-traders informing them that they can be easily identified and prosecuted if they continue to download copyrighted material without paying. The warnings are the latest salvo in a strange and disjointed campaign against piracy by the large record companies, and come in the wake of a court's recent decision that file-trading services may not be held liable for the actions of their customers. BBC 04/30/03

  • Italy Gets Tough On Pirated CDs Italy is cracking down on counterfeit music recodings. "Street vendors could be fined 103 euros (£70) for every pirate copy they sell and may also face between six months and three years in prison. Buyers of illegal CDs, who up until now have gone unpunished, will be fined 154 euros (£106) if caught buying illegal CDs and repeat offenders could be hit with a fine of 1,000 euros (£700) when the new law is introduced on Tuesday. Italy has one of Europe's largest counterfeit markets and the music industry estimates that one in four compact discs sold is pirated." BBC 04/29/03

April 29, 2003

Savannah Symphony Files For Bankruptcy The Savannah (Georgia) Symphony, which was unable to meet its payroll in January and hasn't performed since, has decided to file for bankruptcy. The orchestra owes $1 million it can't pay. Savannah Morning News (Georgia) 04/26/03

No White Knight For Florida Philharmonic (So Far) So far no one has stepped forward to help bail out the Florida Philharmonic, which needs to raise $20 million by Friday so it can stay in business. "The Philharmonic, which has run deficits ranging from $900,000 to $3.6 million each year since 1999, needs about $4 million right away, Lewis said. The orchestra can make its May 9 payroll but will run out of money before it can pay employees on May 23. 'What is difficult for me as a potential donor . . . is to hear that the orchestra has been so badly managed before and now we should trust you to make a better orchestra." Miami Herald 04/29/03

April 28, 2003

English National Opera Dismisses Exec Director The Times reports that Caroline Felton, a financial expert brought in nine months ago to help turn the English National Opera's fortunes around, has been sacked. Her term as acting head was "marked by strikes and walkouts backstage and controversy on it." The Times (UK) 04/28/03

  • ENO Chief Not Fired Says Company "A spokeswoman for ENO denied reports in Monday's Times newspaper that Ms Felton had been sacked, saying she had been given a new advisory role. 'Caroline Felton has been on a monthly contract and remains on a monthly contract. She will be still be working in a part-time capacity, probably until the end of the season'." BBC 04/28/03

Frank Gehry's "Bionic Bunny" Justin Davidson thinks Frank Gehry's new performing arts center at Bard College looks "vaguely mammalian, a mound of muscled curves - slick and powerful like a sea lion, but also armored, robotic. Gehry has built a bionic bunny crouching at the edge of a field." So how does it sound? "Fill the grape-colored stage with musicians, and they will make more sound than an audience can absorb. And yet, perhaps, that's just the sort of surplus a small, arts-oriented school like Bard should have. There's something terribly attractive about the notion of a house so full of music that notes try to bust through concrete walls." Newsday 04/28/03

Jazz Newcomer Signs £1 Million Record Deal - Can He Possibly Be Worth It? Last week 23-year-old British jazz singer Jamie Cullum signed a £1 million recording deal. A jazz singer. £1 million. Why was Universal prepared to pay so much? “It was desperation. We’d have done anything to sign him. We’d have bungee-jumped off a cliff, if necessary. He’s the most talented musician we’ve ever come across.” The Times (UK) 04/29/03

What's Wrong With Today's Young Singers? Rupert Christiansen goes to this year's Kathleen Ferrier competition and wonders: "What is it about young singers today? It's not that their techniques are uniformly bad or that the sounds they make are unattractive. It's just that they so seldom seem rigorous or engaged: there's a crucial lack of depth, feeling, imagination. They leave you with the old-fart thought that they've had it too easy." The Telegraph (UK) 04/29/03

Fans Sue Band For Inadequate Performance Four fans of the band Creed are suing the band for $2 million in damages after a concert in Chicago, claiming that the band "failed to perform substantially" at the show. "Lead singer Scott Stapp is alleged to have been either so drunk or so stoned that he was unable to sing a single Creed song. Instead, he frequently left the stage, rolled around on the floor and appeared to pass out. On one hand, it's difficult to hear this story without smirking. On the other hand, however, it sets a frankly terrifying precedent. If the lawsuit is successful, where will it lead? Every band has their off nights - will any dissatisfied fan then go rushing to court? Who will decide what constitutes a substandard show? How?" The Guardian (UK) 04/28/03

Who's Got The Top Top 40 List? A new British Top 40 chart has the BBC fighting two commercial companies. "Before the arrival of the internet, BBC Radio 1's Top 40 countdown on Sunday afternoons - based solely on single sales - was the pre-eminent chart. But now commercial companies believe it is vital to take airplay and internet listening into account because online music piracy is widespread and teenagers are often long bored of a single by the time it is released in the record shops." The Guardian (UK) 04/28/03

  • Wanted: More Accuracy In Bestseller Charts Why is a new Top 40 music chart needed to determine which music is most popular? Many think the current system measuring only CD sales, is inaccurate and open to manipulation. "The use of radio airplay as a criterion is contentious: the playlist is compiled by radio-station programmers. And one area not yet factored in by any of the charts is arguably the most important for the music industry's future: internet sales." The Guardian (UK) 04/28/03

Music-Traders Score Court Victory Music file-traders win a big one in court. "Delivering a significant victory for peer-to-peer networks, a federal judge ruled Friday that two popular file-trading services should not be held liable for copyright infringement committed by their users." The music industry will appeal. Wired 04/27/03

April 27, 2003

New Gehry Bows Bard College's new $62 million Frank Gehry performing arts center is alluring, writes Nicolai Ouroussoff. "Wrapped inside its shimmering steel container, the main performance hall faces a lush, rolling meadow. The smaller theater and rehearsal rooms are plugged into one side of this form. A dense patch of woods acts as a backdrop for the center, with the Catskill Mountains rising in the distance. The arrangement allows Gehry to create a mesmerizing architectural narrative." Los Angeles Times 04/27/03

  • Making A Joyful Noise Bard College's new performing arts center makes a goo impression on Mark Swed. "During a noisy and exuberant opening weekend, this marvelous new facility for music, opera, dance and theater, at a small liberal arts college in the Hudson River Valley, has already begun making a statement that is hard to ignore." Los Angeles Times 04/27/03

  • Bard's New Gehry Bard College's new Frank Gehry-designed 900-seat adaptable auditorium "is an inviting and intimate place to hear music. The simple décor is handsome, with smooth concrete walls, wood-paneled balconies and a soft-hued wooden proscenium (retractable to accommodate the staging of opera and theater works). On first hearing, it's hard to assess fully the work of the acoustician, Yasuhisa Toyota. The New York Times 04/28/03

Classical Music - Getting The Lowdown On Cool David Patrick Stearns wonders about all these attempts to make classical music cool. As if it isn't already. So maybe watering it down, or sexing it up exposes more people to the art. But does it really? And besides, doesn't art reward those who make efforts to get close to it (rather than the other way aound)? "So if the latest wave of classical crossovers isn't making us cool, what is it doing, besides attempting to make money?" Philadelphia Inquirer 04/27/03

Super-Scalpers - Buying And Bidding Up Concert Tickets Having trouble getting tickets to that pop concert you've wanted to attend? Even if you call TicketMaster the day tickets go on sale, it often seems impossible to score seats. Why? It's the super-scalpers. They buy up as many tickets as they can, then scalp them for sale on EBay. The concert might be in Winnipeg, but the seller is in San Diego. Or Maine. And scalping laws don't seem to slow things down. St. Paul Pioneer-Press 04/27/03

Florida Philharmonic Demise Could Threaten Region's Culture Last week the Florida Philharmonic announced it must raise $20 million by May 2 or face a bankruptcy. "In the meantime, some arts executives and community leaders fear that bankruptcy could cloud major cultural plans, including a proposed concert hall in Boca Raton, and send a dangerous message about the health of the cultural scene. But some also say the orchestra's collapse is long overdue, given the organization's nearly $3 million deficit and constant cries for help." Palm Beach Post 04/25/03

Course Correction - Are We Making Music Too Perfect? According to industry insiders, many successful mainstream artists in most genres of music - perhaps a majority of artists - are using pitch correction. Now some in the music industry think the focus on perfection has gone too far. "Vocal tuning is contributing to the Milli Vanilli-fication of modern music. What a singer sounds like has always been manipulated and massaged by producers: The difference nowadays is that it is so easy to do - maybe too easy. 'Pro Tools is the industry Frankenstein that's taken over. Everything has to be exact, and I blame engineers and producers. It's been overdone'." Chicago Tribune 04/27/03

April 24, 2003

How Music Was Born In America "The saga of American music in the 19th century is a tale of outsized personalities, showdowns and rampant can-doism. The American myth has much to do with raising yourself by your own bootstraps, and that is what American music did in the 19th century: beginning with mostly amateur fiddlers, fifers and bawling congregations, ending with some of the best orchestras and opera houses anywhere." The Guardian (UK) 04/25/03

Pachelbel And The Gang - Is This Really The Most Popular Music? Is it really possible that Brits' taste in classical music is as bad as the annual Classic FM hit parade vote would indicate? "Is it really possible, I wonder, that millions of Brits really believe that Howard Shore’s music for 'The Lord of the Rings' is the greatest piece of classical music of all time? And will I have to listen, yet again, to Rachmaninov’s super-saccharine Piano Concerto No 2, in C minor (that’s the music from 'Brief Encounter')?" The Scotsman 04/24/03

  • Previously: Their Favorite Classical Music What music do 250,000 listeners of Classic FM radio in the UK most like? According to a new poll, it helps if the music has been featured in an ad or movie. "Pieces of music made famous by advertisements made up most of the contemporary music featured on the list. The work in first place for the third year running, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto in C minor, also has a connection to films." Rocketing high on this list was a newcomer - the score to the movie "Lord of the Rings." The Independent (UK) 04/22/03

Beethoven 9 For Sale Beethoven's Ninth Symphony could be the world's most famous piece of music. "Next month, when it is auctioned at Sotheby's, a copyist's manuscript of the work, replete with Beethoven's last scribbled revisions, is expected to fetch more than any manuscript of classical music has done before. If the ninth symphony is the most powerful symbol of absolute music in the classical music canon, it is also the most politicised work of all time." The Economist 04/24/03

Judge Rules ISPs Must Turn Over Customer Names A US judge has ruled that ISP Verizon must turn over names of cutomers suspected of downloading illegal copies of music to music producers. "The latest rulings mean consumers using dozens of popular Internet file-sharing programs can more easily be identified and tracked by copyright owners. Even for consumers hiding behind hard-to-decipher aliases, that could result in warning letters, civil lawsuits or even criminal prosecution." Wired 04/24/03

Hear Before You Play - Website Auditions New Music So you're an American orchestra looking for contemporary music to play. But it can be frustrating hunting down and auditioning scores. So the American Music Center has created NewMusicJukeBox. "The site offers access to audio recordings, downloadable music scores, and information on new music artists. Its creators describe it as an online marketplace where producers, performers, orchestra administrators, concert programmers, movie directors, choreographers, students, and audience members can easily hear music 24/7 by American composers." NEA.gov 04/24/03

Fast-Thinking Conductor Lands American Beethoven Premiere Mobile (Alabama) Symphony conductor Scott Speck was watching CNN in March when the news ticker at the bottom of the screen flashed: "Beethoven oboe concerto premieres in the Netherlands." "I said, 'WHAT?'" Speck recalls. "What Beethoven concerto? What are they talking about? As far as I knew, there was none. And if there had been one, surely I would known. Even if there was one, what do they mean by 'premiered'?" So he tracked down the recently-discovered piece, and scheduled it for the orchestra's next concert...
Mobile Register 04/20/03

The Video Orchestra This fall the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra will mount video screens on either side of its stage. The video presentations will accompany all of the orchestra's "Musically Speaking concerts. "The screens will be used to show live close-ups of the conductor and soloists. With wall-to-wall dreamscape visuals accompanied by an atmospheric soundtrack, the VSO's experiment will venture beyond the live footage to include a visual script with images of featured composers and the people and places that inspired them." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/24/03

April 23, 2003

Florida Philharmonic Might File Bankruptcy Citing "years of financial instability and poor management" the Florida Philharmonic says it may file bankruptcy if it is unable to raise $20 million by May 2. "We built the orchestra before we had put in the proper financial infrastructure. That's the problem.''
Miami Herald 04/23/03

  • Previously: Florida Philharmonic Down To Its Last Dollars The Florida Philharmonic, said to be carrying a $3 million debt, is declaring an emergency and asking community leaders to help. "Based on what is known today, the FPO is projected to run out of operating cash in early May." Palm Beach Post 04/22/03

EMI To Put Music Catalogue Online Music giant EMI announces that it will put 90 percent of its music catalogue online. "The company is to make available for sale online over 140,000 tracks from over 3,000 EMI artists, allowing customers to burn music onto CD-R, copy tracks to portable players and purchase singles online as soon as the songs are serviced to radio and in advance of their commercial release on CD." Europemedia.com 04/23/03

Louisville Orchestra Might Miss Payroll The Louisville Orchestra warns it might not be able to make next week's payroll. The orchestra is carrying an $800,000 debt. Orchestra musicians say they'll play a series of concerts next week during the Kentucky Derby celebrations in hopes of raising money so they can be paid later. Louisville Courier-Journal 04/23/03

Back To The Studio - Chicago Symphony Makes A Recording Few orchestras have recording contracts anymore - even the Chicago Symphony, which has made 900 recordings over the years and won 60 Grammys. But when producers were looking to make a fast recording of pianist Lang Lang in a couple of concertos in February, the orchestra rolled into action and it was like the old days... Chicago Sun-Times 04/23/03

April 22, 2003

Against All Odds - Saving Music Education "Last month all music teachers in the San Francisco Unified School District were handed pink slips, an action that gives the district the right not to renew their contracts next fall. The decisions are in the hands of school site committees, one for each school, made up of the principal, staff, parents. The view of individuals knowledgeable in the matter is that, faced with stringent budget limitations, many, perhaps most of those committees will cut music entirely at their schools. One music teacher began doing something about it long before the current budget crisis..." San Francisco Classical Voice 04/22/03

Their Favorite Classical Music What music do 250,000 listeners of Classic FM radio in the UK most like? According to a new poll, it helps if the music has been featured in an ad or movie. "Pieces of music made famous by advertisements made up most of the contemporary music featured on the list. The work in first place for the third year running, Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto in C minor, also has a connection to films." Rocketing high on this list was a newcomer - the score to the movie "Lord of the Rings." The Independent (UK) 04/22/03

Florida Philharmonic Down To Its Last Dollars The Florida Philharmonic, said to be carrying a $3 million debt, is declaring an emergency and asking community leaders to help. "Based on what is known today, the FPO is projected to run out of operating cash in early May." Palm Beach Post 04/22/03

The Land That Bought Jazz It's the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. "But if the political and geographical implications of the land deal have been copiously documented, the cultural implications of the Louisiana Purchase have yet to be fully decoded. For although jazz is universally deemed a distinctly American musical idiom, in fact it was the confluence of European, African and Caribbean cultures in parts of the Louisiana Territory - especially New Orleans - that gave rise to the radical new sounds. The intermingling of cultures that produced a new American music would not have happened, however, without an explicitly political act - the American purchase of the Louisiana Territory." Chicago Tribune 04/22/03

April 21, 2003

Charleston Symphony Is Latest Orchestra In Financial Trouble The Charleston Symphony is the latest to be threatened with closing. "Though it is the largest performing arts organization in South Carolina, and though ticket sales are up this year, it is in dire economic straits. Its endowment is puny, it's considering shortening its 38-week performance season, and its board is scrambling to come up with a rescue plan." The Post & Courier (Charleston) 04/20/03

New Jersey's Strad Problem - Who Gets To Play Them? The New Jersey Symphony is the recipient of an amazing bounty - 30 violins from the Italian Golden Age - including 12 Strads. "The collection makes its official debut Saturday , when guests at a fund-raiser charging $2,500 per ticket will hear the instruments played at the historic railroad terminal hall at Liberty State Park in Jersey City. As the date nears, a new dilemma arises: In the midst of such bounty, who gets to play one, and who doesn't?" Newark Star-Ledger 04/21/03

When Competition Boosts Concert Ticket Prices The Seattle area is getting a second big-venue outdoor amphitheatre. Great - there'll be more concerts to choose from and ticket prices ought to go down because of the competition, right? Wrong. In the big pop concert business, competition causes ticket prices to go up.... Seattle Times 04/21/03

In-House Orchestra Recording Riles Labels As major recording labels backed off recording orchestras, some of the orchestras began producing their own discs. They've done okay, but "these homegrown labels are not a development that the majors’ classics division chiefs particularly welcome. EMI Classics, indeed, has become so riled by LSO Live that they have stopped hiring the London Symphony Orchestra for their own recording projects." The Times (UK) 04/22/03

April 20, 2003

Gergiev - A Falling Star At The Met? Conductor Valery Gergiev was greeted as a star at the Metropolitan Opera when he first arrived. And the reviews were terrific. But "in recent seasons he has had tense relations with the Met musicians and choristers, who are from all reports dismayed by what they consider his idiosyncratic technique, lack of focus and penchant for showing up late to rehearsals. That tension, and even hostility, showed. What is going on? Few artists have risen so fast at the Met." The New York Times 04/21/03

It's Piazzolla Time "Although often vilified in his lifetime, in the years since he died in 1992, the Argentinian musician Astor Piazzolla, who invented what he called "new tango", has become lauded by increasing numbers in the classical world as one of the greatest contemporary composers of the last century." The Telegraph (UK) 04/20/03

Life In The Old CD Yet... The compact disc is 20 year5s old. And two new enhanced CD formats introduced in 1999 offer big improvments in the sound of a CD. Questionj is - will consumers catch on and want them? Chicago Tribune 04/20/03

Sarasota Opera's Winning Formula The Sarasota Opera in Florida is thriving. "Sarasota County - with a population of just less than 326,000 - is home to two professional orchestras, more than 10 theaters, 30 art galleries and a ballet company. None of them raises bigger budgets or draws on a larger local, national and international public than the $4.8 million Sarasota Opera. Ticket sales this year declined only 2 to 3 percent, for a loss of about $46,000, from last year's record revenues of $2.04 million - not bad for any opera producer in a flat economy. The less obvious reason is that Sarasota Opera is giving its audiences - business-suited seniors as well as the jeans-and-Gucci-loafers younger crowd the company actively woos - the kind of opera they can't hear or see anywhere else." Chicago Tribune 04/20/03

Rap Music In Trouble? "Rap music, which ushered the wonders of hip-hop culture from graffiti-splattered playgrounds to suburban front lawns, is in trouble. Nearly three decades since spoken wordscapes were married to beats to create a new musical vocabulary, rap music is flirting with creative bankruptcy. A genre once characterized by innovative, restless spirit now seems little more than an assembly-line product. Take a menacing scowl, a few platinum rings and pendants, a video filled with lip-licking, come-hither hotties, and someone who can rhyme about bullet-riddled mayhem, cognac, sneakers, dubs, or the latest Hummer -- and an MTV or BET-ready rap star is born." Boston Globe 04/20/03

Creativity On A Deadline (And Sometimes You Miss It) "Creativity is hard to schedule. Yet orchestras today have to plan their seasons months, even years in advance. This leads to a disparity: on one hand, stringent deadlines; on the other, a process of creation that requires flexibility and can never quite be pinned down. For when you commission a piece, you're never sure what you're going to get — or when you're going to get it." The New York Times 04/20/03

Is Music Better/Worse Depending On Who Wrote It? Does a piece of music's back-story change the way we hear it? Of course. But "do we serve music as a whole by giving attention to pieces whose qualities, taken by themselves, rarely rise above the competent and the agreeable? In other words, does a life that resonates with profound circumstances justify the reputation of music that falls short of such depths? Music moves the spirit in a way that other arts do not. Dare we compromise its integrity, no matter how moving the story attached? Some would say not." The New York Times 04/20/03

April 19, 2003

Mix Tapes - Mixing For Trouble Mix tapes/CDs are hot. "Mix tapes are the creations of local DJs who take hits, rarities, the works of up-and-coming rappers or all of the above, and use them to turn a blank CD into a highly personal jukebox. There is intense competition among those DJs to get the freshest material, and because the formal music industry has long viewed the whole scene as a copyright nightmare, a spirit of pirate radio pervades." Los Angeles Times 04/20/03

America's Top 20 - All About Product Placement Of the 20 songs on the American Top 20 list last week, ten of them plugged products in the songs. "Stars love plugging. Brands love getting plugged. But someday the slightly murky relationship of product placement and what initiates that product being placed in a song might have to change. If you were a sandals-wearing, lead-the-people-through-great-hardship kind of a guy, you might say that this was because it was in some kind of fundamental way "wrong" or something like that. If you're slightly less amazed in these days of 'created brand relevance that doesn't appear orchestrated', then you might just say it's because it's all getting a bit boring." The Guardian (UK) 04/19/03

April 18, 2003

A Thoroughly Modern Quartet The setup is a familiar one: talented young string quartet is heard by wealthy donor who, taken with their skill and enthusiasm, sets the foursome up with priceless old Italian instruments which they could never otherwise afford. But in the case of the Miró Quartet, one of a small number of headline-grabbing young quartets vying to be the next Juilliard or Guarneri, their benefactor was a North Carolina musician who wanted to see if a collection of specially crafted modern instruments could elevate the group in the same way that four Strads could. The result was a specially commissioned set of two violins, viola, and cello, tailored to meet the Miró's needs. And the results? Well, it depends on which player you ask. Hartford Courant 04/17/03

San Antonio To Cut Season Short The cash-strapped San Antonio Symphony will end its season more than a month early, and attempt to retool its finances in order to have the funds to mount a full 2003-04 season. The orchestra has been in dire straits for months, with its musicians frequently playing without pay. Orchestra officials say they are optimistic about plans for next season, but acknowledge that the new season may be a shorter one, and might not happen at all if new sources of local funding can't be found. WOAI NewsRadio 1210 (San Antonio) 04/18/03

  • The Problem Is The Donors In many ways, the San Antonio Symphony has long been considered a model of what a small, regional orchestra should be. So what could be preventing the orchestra's leaders from reviving their gasping organization? Mike Greenberg says the problem is simple: San Antonio's big-money types are flatly refusing the symphony's advances, and ignoring its pleas for relief. "The doors have slammed so consistently that some observers inside and outside the symphony have suspected a coordinated effort by donors to force the symphony to reconstitute itself as a smaller or part-time ensemble." San Antonio Express-News 04/18/03

April 17, 2003

Getting Down To Downloading How are the new music industry downloading services doing? "Various analyses of the half-dozen or so services put the total of their combined subscribers at between 300,000 and 500,000. Emusic, the one legitimate music service that discloses its subscriber numbers, claimed 70,000 subscribers as of year-end 2002. Meanwhile, Kazaa, the leader of the file-trading services not sanctioned by the music industry, has been downloaded more than 200 million times." Technology Review 04/17/03

Music Education, Interactive Style The Philharmonic of New Jersey's "Discovery Concert Series of interactive music-appreciation events is attempting to extricate classical performances from the miasma of modern life, where it plays second fiddle to everything from linguine to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Since it began last year, the concert series has proven to be a huge success, selling out months in advance. Concerts take place in Newark at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and are aired on local and, increasingly, national PBS stations. The concerts are interactive in the style of a college class in music theory and have covered pieces by Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, and Claude Debussy." Christian Science Monitor 04/18/03

April 16, 2003

Is Music Better With An Explanation? Why do we need theory to explain music? "Actually, theory can be beautiful and illuminating (as opposed to complicated, obfuscating, quagmired, self-important, self-absorbed). And nothing could be more human: the desire to create systems out of chaos or near-chaos is a natural and (usually) noble expression of humanity's ability to reason. And there are theories about everything: Goethe had one about color, Einstein had one about gravity, Eisenstein had one about film montage... Freud about dreams. Darwin even had a pet theory (literally). But music theory is surely the strangest. That's the burden of trying to make sense of the most ethereal, ephemeral, abstract–one could argue the most free–art form." NewMusicBox 04/03

Rachmaninov - A Shrink-Wrapped Talent? Did psychotherapy turn Rachmaninov from "a composer of ambitious discordances into a tinkler of popular tunes?" So maintains a new book. "It was a kind of unconscious Faustian pact, in which he was seduced into giving up his revolutionary rage in exchange for peace of mind and endless pleasanteries."
London Evening Standard 04/16/03

Red In The Black Large orchestras may be facing massive deficits and concern for their future across the country, but some smaller ensembles with less overhead and fewer staff are actually thriving, despite a dismal economy. One case in point is Red, a Cleveland-based chamber orchestra specializing in contemporary music. Red, founded a year ago by Jonathan Sheffer (of Eos Ensemble fame), "is ending the season with no deficit on a budget of $407,000," and has apparently been a hit with Cleveland concertgoers. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 04/13/03

  • Cleveland Ensemble May Fold Even as Red thrives, another Cleveland-based ensemble specializing in new music is in danger of closing up shop. "The Cleveland Chamber Symphony, the admired professional ensemble in residence at Cleveland State University since 1980, is in turmoil and in danger of closing at the end of the 2003-04 concert season. Members of the Chamber Symphony are scheduled to meet today with Cleveland State President Michael Schwartz to discuss the ensemble's future. But its fate might be sealed. By May 2004, when founding music director Edwin London retires, the group could be out of money." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 04/16/03

Oregon Symphony Facing Deep Cuts The Oregon Symphony has become the latest in a long line of North American orchestras to announce severe fiscal problems and a series of deep cuts to deal with them. Over the past few years, as the American economy has nosedived, the orchestra's endowment has lost fully 50% of its value. To make up the difference in revenues, Oregon will cut several staff positions, slash salaries, and even reduce the pay of its conducting staff (including legendary outgoing music director James dePriest) by 10%. The ensemble is also asking next season's guest performers to voluntarily reduce their fees, and although no cuts are immediately being made in the salaries of the orchestra's musicians, the subject is sure to come up when their contract is renegotiated next year. The Oregonian (Portland) 04/15/03

April 15, 2003

Opera Doesn't Work On TV. Does It? "Whenever the coverage of arts on the box is discussed, an assumption is voiced that opera is a cornerstone of public-service broadcasting which doesn't feature strongly enough in the schedules. I'm not convinced. The fact is that there has always been quite a lot of opera on BBC2 and Channel 4, and it rarely draws the viewing figures of a million that can, crudely speaking, justify the time and expense. Opera does not normally make very gripping or alluring television." Yet, it can work... The Telegraph (UK) 04/16/03

Classical Brit Nominees Nominations for this year's Classical Brit awards offer few surprises. "There are three nominations for a serial winner, the conductor Sir Simon Rattle, two for last year's outstanding contribution award winner, Andrea Bocelli, while last year's album of the year recipient, Russell Watson, is vying for the same award for his third album, Reprise." The Guardian (UK) 04/15/03

ENO - The Payne Connection The troubled English National Opera could use some help from Opera Europa, a "powerful European opera forum with a dynamic new director." Unfortunately that director is Nicholas Payne, whom the ENO fired last year. Oh well... The Guardian (UK) 04/15/03

Attempting To Untangle Where Stravinsky ends And Craft Begins... Robert Craft has been the keeper of the Stravinsky legacy. But it's difficult to separate where one leaves off and the other begins. "Craft's influence on Stravinsky was such that it was sometimes hard to tell who was responsible for what. Three decades after Stravinsky's death in 1971, that symbiosis is starting to seem merely part of the Postmodern musical landscape. Still, Craft's talent to be revelatory and obfuscatory at the same time makes his peculiar memoir, 'An Improbable Life,' as infuriating as it is engrossing." Los Angeles Times 04/13/03

April 14, 2003

San Francisco's Last Fulltime Jazz Club Closing "On Sunday it will be the end for Jazz at Pearl's, the city's last full-time jazz club. The room is losing its lease after 13 years. After a heated back-and-forth with the landlord over renegotiating a lease that, they hoped, would give them five years with an option, [owners] Buxton and Wong folded." Los Angeles Times 04/15/03

Spike Lee On The Essential Marriage Of Music And Film "One must come to music with complete respect. I don't know how directors can do a film and after the script's been written, and the film's cut and all this money's been spent - it's like, well now let's get the composer. It's just insane to keep the composer out of the loop until so late." The Telegraph (UK) 04/15/03

Women Composers Gather In Seoul Last week Seoul, South Korea, hosted the largest-ever gatherin of women composers from around Asia. Some "300 composers and musicians from 22 different countries presented research, participated in panel discussions, and performed 69 works in nine venues scattered around Seoul..." Korea Herald 04/14/03

April 13, 2003

The Dictator And The Opera North Korean dictator Kim Jong II has written a book on opera. "You might assume the book is a socialist critique of La Traviata and Carmen. Unfortunately, it's nothing so delicious, and isn't even whacked-out enough to be fun. It's just desperately prosaic and, for us, a creepy cautionary tale about what happens when someone whose favorite opera is titled 'Sea of Blood' (and whose favorite movie is Rocky III, according to another of his aesthetic tracts, 'On the Art of the Cinema') attempts to legislate the artistic process." Philadelphia Inquirer 04/13/03

  • Previously: The Dictator's Filmmaker "North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il has a passion for cinema. But he could never find a director to realise his vision. So he kidnapped one from the South, jailed him and fed him grass, then forced him to shoot a socialist Godzilla..." The Guardian (UK) 04/04/03

Legislators Propose Bills To Hold Recording Industry Accountable As CD sales fall and the recording business seems to fall apart, legislators in New York and California are considering tough new laws to help ensure artists get the money owed to them. Miami Herald (AP) 04/13/03

New Look For Radio Pay-For-Play? Last week radio giant Clear Channel Communications announced it would discontinue what many consider the pay-for-play system of choosing which music radio stations play. "But it's likely that the Clear Channel decision won't overturn the pay-for-play system so much as reconfigure it. Instead of funneling money through independent promoters to radio stations, record companies will now have to deal directly with Clear Channel programmers in seeking access to the airwaves. And, as in all things radio, money will talk. The radio giant said as much in a statement announcing the move, in which it promised a 'new, restructured relationship with the recording industry . . . on specific group-wide contesting, promotions and marketing opportunities.' Those words sent a shudder through many industry observers." Chicago Tribune 04/13/03

Power Women In The Orchestra World The appointment of Deborah Card as new president of the Chicago Symphony is notable. But then again, it's not notable that she's a woman taking the job. "Women may still be scarce on conductors' podiums, and gains still have to be made among the ranks of orchestral players, in brass sections especially. But more and more women are emerging in the top administrative ranks of America's most important orchestras and opera companies." Chicago Sun-Times 04/13/03

  • Card Widely Admired "In a field where jealousies and rivalries abound, it's rare to find an orchestra manager as widely admired as the savvy, experienced executive director of the Seattle Symphony (since 1992). Technically speaking, Deborah Card isn't the first woman ever to manage the CSO. That honor falls to the long-forgotten Anna Millar, who served in that capacity from 1895 to 1899 during founder Theodore Thomas' tenure. And there are numerous women running smaller U.S. orchestras." Chicago Tribune 04/13/03

Are "Talented" Kids Exploited? Are kids on talent shows really the "most talented?" "The success of 'American Idol' last year has spawned imitators like 'America's Most Talented Kid,' but the exploitation of child performers as a form of mass entertainment has existed as long as mass entertainment has. Most childhood careers are the product of adult fantasies; they are as much about the parents as they are about the child. A parent appears with each performer on 'America's Most Talented Kid'; the idea may be to deflect criticism about exploitation, but instead it reinforces it." Boston Globe 04/13/03

A New Music Label That Will Live On In Death This month CRI, the recording company that has championed new music through more than 900 releases, is shutting down. Time for laments. But New World Records will take over CRI's catalog and "digitize the master tapes of the complete CRI archive and keep each album available as a custom-made CD, burned to order and mailed to the buyer with the original liner notes. Not only that, New World is exploring the possibility of making CRI recordings available through digital downloads, as that technology becomes more viable. So what seems a simple act of one nonprofit's salvaging another's catalog could represent a bold step into the online future of recording." The New York Times 04/13/03

April 12, 2003

Apple Computer In Talks To Buy World's Largest Recording Company Is Apple CEO Steve Jobs about to become the most powerful man in the recording business? "Apple Computer Inc. is in talks with Vivendi Universal to buy Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company, for as much as $6 billion, sources said. Such a seemingly unlikely combination would instantly make technology guru Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder and chief executive, the most powerful player in the record industry."
Los Angeles Times 04/11/03

Australian Recording Industry Institutes Ratings System The Australian recording industry has decided to initiate a ratings system that will restrict sales of some recordings to adults. "The industry's ruling body, ARIA, last week announced that its new system will prohibit the sale of CDs and tapes containing potentially offensive lyrics or themes to under-18s. Calls for stricter classification have followed complaints about US death-metal outfit Cannibal Corpse. Over the top to the point of absurdity, their lyrics are all but indecipherable, the vocals sounding like the Cookie Monster in a sink." The Age (Melbourne) 04/11/03

April 10, 2003

Computer Program Can Identify Composers? "A standard PC file-compression program can tell the difference between classical music, jazz and rock, all without playing a single note. This new-found ability could help scholars identify the composers of music that until now has remained anonymous." New Scientist 04/10/03

What Music Slump? Indie Labels Flourish As Majors Struggle While execs at major recording labels "wail about the industry's imminent collapse, indie labels and artists are singing a much happier tune. Profits are up - in some cases by 50 to 100 percent. That's in contrast to overall album sales, which dropped about 11 percent in 2002. You won't hear many of these labels' artists on pop radio - and ironically, that's one of the secrets to their success. By avoiding the major expenses associated with getting a tune on the air - which can cost upwards of $400,000 or $500,000 per song - independent labels are able to turn a profit far more quickly, and share more of those profits with their artists." Christian Science Monitor 04/11/03

Dutoit's Legacy Lives On In Montreal A year after the Dutoit debacle, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra would like to move on, and look to a future it insists is still quite bright. But Arthur Kaptainis isn't ready to forget the man who gave the MSO its reputation and distinctive sound: "There are many subscribers and musicians who prefer a disposable past. By suspending its former practice of listing in its concert programs its first and most recent performances of works, the MSO administration itself has attempted to toss Dutoit into the memory hole. But it has not succeeded. The evidence of what he achieved is inextinguishable, for it is there every week." Montreal Gazette 04/10/03

April 9, 2003

New Top 40 For Music Downloads An official music sales tracker plans to begin monitoring music downloading on the internet."A new top 40 of tracks downloaded from official sites is planned to be in place in time for the Christmas number one race. And downloaded songs could count towards the main top 40 chart within 18 months." BBC 04/09/03

Carnegie Hall's Footprint Expands This fall Carnegie Hall will open a new hall underneath its main auditorium. "What this new underground hall should mean for Carnegie is clear enough, assuming good acoustics and proper insulation from subway rumbles. But what will its impact be on other New York performing institutions, especially those at Lincoln Center?" The New York Times 04/10/03

Is Orchestra Touring Disappearing? Recently, musicians from a Dutch orchestra arrived in London to play a concert only to discover it had been cancelled for lack of ticket sales. This kind of thing is happening more frequently, writes Norman Lebrecht. "An awareness is dawning across the musical world that the age of orchestral touring is over, leaving gaping holes in the concert calendar and another economic nightmare. The Philharmonia Orchestra has just totted up a two-thirds drop in touring revenues over the past year. The Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields which has, for four decades, spent more time abroad than within sight of Nelson's Column, has ( players tell me) great white gaps in its diary." London Evening Standard 04/09/03

Is America Cutting Itself Out Of World Music? World music artists are cancelling U.S. tours left and right, in part because of the difficulty of obtaining visas in the post-9/11 world, but also out of fear of how they will be received in a newly isolationist and paranoid America. The fact that many world music artists have been active in anti-war movements at home is adding to the pressure to cancel, and musicians are increasingly aware of "rumblings from arts presenters... who [feel] that a newfound xenophobia might be on the rise." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/09/03

Music, The International Peacemaker In Rome, hundreds of student protesters calling for an end to the war in Iraq tried to disrupt a university performance by the famed La Scala Opera Orchestra, under the direction of Riccardo Muti. Rather than cancel the concert or forcibly remove the protesters, Muti addressed them directly, saying "The musicians you see seated here have been touring the world since 1996 in the name of peace." The protesters apparently conceded the point, sitting quietly for the first part of the performance before leaving the premises. Andante (AP) 04/09/03

Global CD Slump Gathers Steam Consumers worldwide are buying less music, according to industry representatives, with CDs particularly hard hit. "Sales dropped by 7% around the world last year after a 5% dip in 2001, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)." Naturally, the industry says that the number one reason for the slump is the proliferation of illegal downloading sites and the inability of the industry to stay ahead of the pirates. In particular, the U.S. "suffered a 10% drop in album sales in 2002, mainly because fans were getting the music from the internet instead, the IFPI said." Of course, it's worth noting that the severe economic slump in the U.S. may also be contributing to the problem.
BBC 04/09/03

SARS Fears Cancel Tour The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, one of the UK's most prestigious ensembles, has cancelled a long-planned tour of China scheduled for next month, due to health concerns surrounding the global outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS is believed to have originated in China, and there is still much uncertainty surrounding the size of the outbreak there, due to information which was withheld by Chinese medical authorities. The BBC-SSO's tour "would have been one of the most extensive Chinese tours undertaken by a western orchestra." BBC 04/09/03

April 8, 2003

John Adams: Mixed Feelings About Pulitzer Win Composer John Adams is happy to have won this year's Pulitzer Prize for music. But "every year I continue to be disappointed that the Pulitzer has stayed stylistically within such a narrow bandwidth of mainly academic music. It doesn't carry much prestige amongst the composers that I know. I hope that over the years, the people who administer the prize will accept that American music is a far more universal art form than the past history would suggest." San Francisco Chronicle 04/08/03

  • Why Pulitzer Doesn't Mean Much In Music The Pulitzers are prestigious. But not in the music category, says John Adams, this year's winner. "I am astonished to receive the Pulitzer Prize. Among musicians that I know, the Pulitzer has over the years lost much of the prestige it still carries in other fields like literature and journalism. Anyone perusing the list of past winners cannot help noticing that many if not most of the country's greatest musical minds are conspicuously missing," The New York Times 04/09/03

Back On Stage, But Still In Crisis The Houston Symphony is performing again, following a bitter 24-day strike, but the organization's financial woes are far from resolved. "Executive director Ann Kennedy came on stage Saturday to welcome back the audience and to laud the musicians, who then received a strong standing ovation from the crowd (which, due to the perennial problem of no-shows, filled only about two-thirds of the auditorium). With music director Hans Graf on the podium, the musicians then demonstrated through superb playing exactly what is still at stake in the financially desperate organization." Houston Chronicle 04/07/03

Detroit To Make Hall Safe For Sensitive Tushes "By the end of April, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra will have replaced the bottom cushions of the 1,800 seats at Orchestra Hall that have been a literal pain in the rear since they were installed last fall. Then, when the symphony is away in the summer, entirely new seats will be installed. The bottom line? The DSO is out $500,000." The offending seats were originally installed with metal plates in their upholstery, so as to meet building codes. As it turns out, metal plates tend to decrease the comfort level of upholstery. Who knew? Detroit Free Press 04/08/03

All Avril, All The Time At Junos The Juno Awards, Canada's answer to the Grammys, turned into a near-sweep Sunday night as teen rock sensation Avril Lavigne took home several awards, including Artist of the Year. Lavigne was up against stiff competition, including mainstays Celine Dion and Shania Twain, and many observers saw her dominance as a significant shift in the direction of the Canadian music industry. Calgary Herald (CanWest) 04/07/03

  • Classical Winners Are No Surprise Pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin, composer Bramwell Tovey, and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra were among the mostly predictable winners of the classical Junos. Diana Krall won for best vocal jazz album, and Richard Underhill took home the award for best contemporary jazz release. CBC 04/07/03

San Diego Chooses Ling In an era of fiscal crisis at most American orchestras, the San Diego Symphony has had the unusual luxury of sitting back and waiting to find the perfect person to lead them in a time of newfound wealth. The orchestra received an unexpected and unprecedented $120 million gift last year, and now they may have scored something of a coup in the baton-waving department, reaching an agreement with Jahja Ling to be the orchestra's next music director. Ling is the director of the Cleveland Orchestra's summer festival, and a former music director of the Florida Orchestra. San Diego had previously offered the position to up-and-comer David Robertson, who declined the job. San Diego Union Tribune 04/05/03

The Underwater Symphony The German Symphony Orchestra is performing in a health club, playing a piece of music for which the audience will have to be submerged in a pool. "The cellists will be on the poolside, playing electric instruments and the sound will be put through a mixing desk and modified. There will be no sound to hear unless you are under the water." The Guardian (UK) 04/06/03

April 7, 2003

Beethoven Ninth For Sale Sotheby's is selling a manuscript of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. "In three bound volumes of 465 pages, the offering includes virtually the complete score of that symphony in manuscript. (Two fragments of the same manuscript reside in the Beethovenhaus in Bonn and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.) The hands are mainly those of two copyists, but Beethoven scribbled corrections and changes throughout. The manuscript may have been used at the work's premiere, in 1824, and it was the basis for the first printed edition, in 1826." The New York Times 04/07/03

April 6, 2003

CD Copy Protection May Deprive Artists Of Air Time Recording companies that press CD's with copy protection may be depriving their artists of radio playtime. At at least one station, all the CD players are part of computer systems, and the machines won't play copy-protected disks... The Age (Melbourne) 04/03/03

Music Education En Español The Minnesota Orchestra will try a new tactic at educational outreach this week, presenting a set of the orchestra's long-running "Kinder Konzerts" series, aimed at preschool-age children, narrated entirely in Spanish. The series plays to more than 5,000 children every season, but this is the first time that the orchestra has presented any performances in a language other than English. The Star Tribune (Minneapolis) 04/06/03

Finally, Stepping Out Of Grammy's Shadow Outside of Canada, few have heard of the Juno Awards, and even at home, the ceremony honoring the best in Canadian music is often derisively referred to as "Grammy Jr." But this year, the Junos may be ready to make an international mark, with artists like Avril Lavigne, Nickelback, and Celine Dion representing a new crop of Canadian singers who have found spectacular success worldwide. But will the stars and the national pride be enough to get Canadians to watch the traditionally low-rated broadcast? Calgary Herald 04/05/03

What Are You Gonna Do? Garnishee Their Work-Study Wages? For years now, the recording industry has carped about the money they lose through illegal downloading and file-swapping, and consumers have yelled back that if the industry didn't set the prices for CDs and DVDs artificially high, fewer people would need to go the piracy route. But the industry ratcheted up the rhetoric considerably last week when it began to go after a few select college students who have swapped large amounts of digital music and video online. Katie Dean compares the tactic to the American military's 'shock and awe' campaign in Iraq, since the plan isn't meant to recover financial losses for the industry. In point of fact, it is intended to scare the bejeezus out of college students. Wired 04/05/03

  • Previously: Recording Industry Sues Students For File Trading The recording industry has sued four students who run Napster-like file-sharing sites at three universities. "The suits ask for the highest damages allowable by law, which range up to $150,000 per copyright infringement or, in other words, per pirated song. If awarded, the judgments could run in the millions of dollars. 'Frankly, we are hopeful this round of lawsuits will send a message to others that they should immediately cease and desist'." Washington Post 04/04/03

  • Lightening Up (A Little) In Europe A new set of copyright guidelines being proposed in Europe may not be as Draconian as previously feared. "The proposal maintains that the right to make copies for private use will be maintained, as long as the copying process is not unreasonable vis-a-vis the copyright holder. This suggestion has the intent of preventing copies being made from illegally produced copies, while safeguarding the rights of the individual purchaser." Aftenposten (Norway) 04/03/03

Baltimore Musicians Take Preemptive Wage Freeze "Musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra have voted to accept a wage freeze and other financial concessions over the next 2 1/2 years to help the organization deal with its financial troubles. The move, which will save the BSO about $3 million, comes midway through the musicians' current five-year contract." It is extremely unusual for a functioning orchestra to renegotiate a contract in the middle of its run, but the Baltimore musicians and management agreed to try to head off at the pass the possibility of a future crisis. Baltimore Sun 04/04/03

  • Big Cuts in South Florida The Florida Philharmonic's musicians have also renegotiated an ongoing contract, agreeing to allow the management to reduce the length of the orchestra's season by six weeks, and further agreeing to a freeze in the weekly pay scale. "In addition, health insurance co-payments will be increased from 12 percent for families and 15 percent for individuals to a flat 27 percent for everyone. Long-term disability coverage will be eliminated. Contributions to a pension fund for the musicians will be cut from 8 to 4 percent. And four weeks of paid vacation time this season will be reduced to two weeks next season." Miami Herald 04/04/03

April 4, 2003

Deal On Webcasting Royalties The recording indsurty and bug webcasters have made a deal on royalty rates for internet music streaming. "The two sides agreed Thursday on how much big webcasters like Yahoo!, America Online, Microsoft and RealNetworks must pay to broadcast songs over the Internet during 2003 and 2004. The new deal, if approved by the U.S. Copyright Office, will allow the two industries to avoid a lengthy arbitration process to set the royalty rates." Washington Post (AP) 04/04/03

Recording Industry Sues Students For File Trading The recording industry has sued four students who run Napster-like file-sharing sites at three universities. "The suits ask for the highest damages allowable by law, which range up to $150,000 per copyright infringement or, in other words, per pirated song. If awarded, the judgments could run in the millions of dollars. 'Frankly, we are hopeful this round of lawsuits will send a message to others that they should immediately cease and desist'." Washington Post 04/04/03

Legislators Propose Recording Contract Reforms The recording business has to deal with declining sales and piracy threats. But it also is coming under attack by legislators who - in response to disgruntled musicians - are proposing new laws to regulate recording contracts with musicians. Musicians have been complaining that recording companies have not properly accounted for how they pay musicians... Boston Globe (AP) 04/04/03

San Antonio Symphony Misses Another Payroll The San Antonio Symphony has paid its back-owed payroll, but then failed to make payroll this week. "The symphony office has begun calling early subscribers to let them know the money they've paid for next season will be needed now." San Antonio Express-News 04/02/03

April 3, 2003

Fistful Of Bohemes In the past ten years, American opera companies have staged 189 productions of Puccini's "La Boheme". This weekend, New Yorkers have their choice of three Bohemes - at the Met, at New York City Opera, and on Broadway... Anthony Tommasini checks off the goods and bads... The New York Times 04/04/03

April 2, 2003

Carnegie Hall's New Hall Carnegie is opening a new, $100 million 644-seat third concert hall, underneath its main auditorium. "The hall is preparing to open at a difficult period for the arts, when the weak economy has hurt charitable giving and advance ticket sales. Indeed, Carnegie Hall delayed Zankel Hall's opening for a year because of the difficult economic climate after the terrorist attacks. Budgeted at $50 million, the new hall eventually cost twice that; all the money has been raised." The New York Times 04/03/03

Getting Down With Classical Music "Recently, there have been signs all over the place that the wall between classical and rock music is finally beginning to crumble. If much of this development is due to the rise of a better class of rockers who have warmed up to Olivier Messiaen, a lot of it is also owed to an eagerness by young classical musicians to get down and lighten up. Not surprisingly, the classical prime movers are two California maestros — [LA Philharmonic conductor Esa-Pekka] Salonen in Los Angeles and his counterpart with the San Francisco Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas—and the Golden State’s unofficial composer in residence, John Adams." New York Observer 04/02/03

Paris Opera Pulls Newspaper Ads Over Bad Reviews The Paris Opera has been getting bad reviews from critics of the newspaper Le Monde. So the company has pulled its advertising from the paper. "Le Monde appreciates almost none of our productions, with its critics describing the Opera's current productions as 'old-fashioned' and lacking all spirit of innovation. In these conditions it would be inhuman to impose paid advertisements on Le Monde inviting the public to see shows it condemns so forcefully." Expatica 04/02/03

Houston Symphony Musicians End Strike Musicians of the Houston Symphony have ratified a new contract, ending their 23-day strike. "The players made significant financial concessions. They include a reduction in annual minimum salary in the first three seasons covered by the agreement, achieved via unpaid furloughs of from one to three weeks per year. The agreement expires Sept. 30, 2006. However, the two sides agreed that salaries will return to the median of all full-time United States orchestras in the following contract." Houston Chronicle 04/01/03

  • Okay, They're Back. Now Show Them You Love Them In the wake of the Houston Symphony strike, a lot of bruised egos and hard feelings are going to be inevitable. But if Houstonians really want to live in a serious, cultured city, says the Chronicle's editorial board, they need to step up their support of what is clearly a vital institution. "Increasing attendance and ticket sales will require a clever marketing campaign and enticing concert programs. More than that, it will require from Houstonians a new and lively appreciation of the symphony and the realization that no important city can be without one. " Houston Chronicle 04/02/03

Material Girl Decides To Stay Out of The War Debate On the eve of its official debut, pop superstar Madonna has decided to recall her latest video, which is reportedly a vicious indictment of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The video had been much talked about in light of the unfavorable publicity which has befallen other musicians who dared to question U.S. policy in recent days. But Madonna's video is said to be much more overt than a simple statement against the war: in its closing moments, the singer "pulls the pin on a hand grenade and angrily tosses it into the crowd - where it is handily caught by a smug George W. Bush lookalike. The pseudo-Bush smiles and reveals the grenade to actually be a cigarette lighter, which he uses to light a big cigar." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 04/02/03

Courting Diversity in Dallas There are so few African-Americans and Hispanics in the classical music world that almost no one is willing to even talk seriously about the problem, let alone make any real effort to change it. But in Dallas, the Young Strings program, founded by members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra with the aim of providing mentoring and professional training to young minority musicians, is starting to pay dividends. Young Strings alumni are pursuing degrees at Juilliard, Oberlin, and other top conservatories, and the program is still going strong in Texas. Dallas Morning News 04/02/03

Savannah Racing The Clock The hardest part about guiding an orchestra through a fiscal crisis is that the clock does not stop while you do it. In Savannah, where the Savannah Symphony has canceled the remainder of its season, and is trying to regroup in time for the next one, the challenges are myriad, and the leadership is still at a bit of a loss as to how much can be done without some sort of large cash infusion. According to the orchestra's chairman, it will soon be too late to book soloists and sell tickets for a 2003-04 season. Furthermore, if the ensemble does survive, it will need an entirely new set of leaders, and those type of management saviors don't exactly grow on trees. Savannah Morning News 04/01/03

Home | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy
Copyright ©
2002 ArtsJournal. All Rights Reserved