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October 31, 2005

A Thing For Arvo Pärt Last month composer Arvo Pärt turned 70. Pärt "has caught on because of the luminous beauty of his sound. It seems to come from somewhere beyond our normal experience and expectations. It haunts the ear. But just about every tribute to him I've read lately begins defensively, explaining that musical simplicity does not necessarily equal triviality. No, we are reminded, Arvo Pärt is not New Age. He isn't a Minimalist, as such. He's neither this nor that. We need no such reminders. Maybe he's not to everyone's taste, but he's loved and admired by a following that is wide and that breaks through categories." Los Angeles Times 10/30/05

Fiber For Cello Luis Leguia couldn't find a cello he liked. "So he invented one himself using an unlikely material -- carbon fiber. And now he designs, manufactures, and sells carbon fiber cellos, violins, and violas through Luis and Clark Carbon Fiber Instruments, a company that he started five years ago and runs out of his home. Carbon fiber, strong but flexible, is strands of carbon tightly woven and set in resin. He has sold 100 cellos, 12 violins, and 20 violas." Boston Globe 10/30/05

Doubt About A Bach Toccata Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor for organ is one of the composer's best-known works. It's spooky, the theme for countless scary movies. "Turns out Halloween's soundtrack also has been cloaking its true form: The Toccata and Fugue probably was not written by Bach and almost certainly wasn't written for the organ. In music circles, that assertion is as scary as it gets. It's not every day such a famous work gets shaken to its foundations. However, scholarly consensus is building that the baroque master did not write his most well-known organ work." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/30/05

UK Orchestras Face Crippling Insurance Bill Britain's symphony orchestras have been thrown into crisis, as the government says orchestras have failed to pay their share of National Insurance assessments and now owe £33 million. The debt could force several major orchestras to fold. "Since a change in working laws in 1998, freelance singers and musicians have been classed as employees for NI purposes, but self-employed for tax purposes. The issue affects ever major orchestra and smaller orchestra in this country and would have huge effects upon how they operate." BBC 10/31/05

  • UK Orchestras - Closed For Back-Payments? UK orchestras' insurance bill would cripple orchestras if not shut them down. "In the case of the Philharmonia Orchestra, for instance, it could mean an extra £500,000 tax a year, plus arrears backdated to 2000. In the case of the London Symphony Orchestra, the back-payments would amount to £8m." The Guardian (UK) 10/31/05

October 30, 2005

The Future Of Jazz... The hot new trend in jazz these days? Nothing, really. "Trends pass; record sales tail off, media attention wanders and the artificiality of it all is forgotten as quickly as its revealed. What's real -- the sort of jazz that goes where the musicians, not the industry, take it -- is what endures." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/29/05

America's Chamber Orchestra The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has made a move on the big time. "With ticket sales up and deficits down, the nation's only full-time professional chamber orchestra is clearly moving beyond its former image as a smaller version of the older and bigger-budgeted Minnesota Orchestra. The SPCO now conceives itself as its own artistic entity -- 'America's chamber orchestra,' as its ads proclaim." Chicago Tribune 10/30/05

Detroit Jazz Festival Talking About A Plan... Last week, a Detroit philanthropist said she'd invest $10 million in continuing the troubled Detroit Jazz Festival. But only if the Music Hall, current operators of the festival, severed their ties. By late in the week Music Hall leaders expressed optimism "that the festival could be restructured without completely severing ties with Music Hall, which has produced the event since 1994, often struggling in recent years to make ends meet." Detroit Free Press 10/28/05

  • Previously: Detroit Jazz - Benefactor Or Purchaser? A Detroit philanthropist is offering to save the Detroit Jazz Festival with a $10 million commitment. "Here's the rub: Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, which has produced the jazz festival since 1994, would have to give up control of the event." Detroit Free Press 10/26/05

The Future Of Orchestral Programming "Programming decisions are crucial for orchestras, and the preferences of the subscribers they hope to attract can be difficult to gauge. Symphony orchestras may have been invented in the steam age, but there is a technological revolution going on behind the scenes that will change the way they do business." Increasingly, orchestras are integrating new technologies into their ticket sales and marketing departments, and the sales information generated is poised to have a huge impact on what we hear in future orchestral seasons. "It's to do with market segmentation, and shaping concerts programs in a way that will appeal to people with different musical interests and levels of knowledge." The Australian 10/31/05

Taking The Measure of Porgy It's opera's most predictable typecasting: every African-American baritone will eventually be asked to sing the role of Porgy in George Gershwin's Porgy & Bess. The racially explicit casting was Gershwin's firm instruction, but it does tend to point up how infrequently black baritones are asked to sing any role other than Porgy. For Gordon Hawkins, a 46-year-old baritone who has sung the role many times, the struggle is in finding a way to define Porgy as a man, rather than as a vaguely racist caricature. "He aims for nuance, some way to measure the man, not the facade... His Porgy has to have fire and flesh, he says. He's not the beaten-down cripple that some find demeaning." Washington Post 10/29/05

Ticket Sales Brisk For New Denver Opera House Denver's spectacular new opera house will host its first actual opera this coming week, and Opera Colorado, the venue's principal tenant, is pulling out all the stops with a major production of Bizet's Carmen starring none other than mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. "In a daring departure from its usual practice, Opera Colorado is presenting eight performances of Carmen - twice as many as normal. And it already appears the gamble has paid off. A little more than a week before Thursday's opening, the company had already sold 70 percent of its available tickets, and Rex Fuller, director of marketing, expects at least some of the performances will sell out." Denver Post 10/29/05

Bittersweet Symphony As the New York Philharmonic opened their stage and their hearts to the displaced musicians of the Louisiana Philharmonic this weekend, Alice Tully Hall became a study in contrasts, with musicians who seemingly have it made in this business sitting side by side with musicians who have seen their world turned upside down. To call the benefit concert, which raised more than $300,000 for the New Orleans ensemble, a triumph would seem to understate the magnitude of the LPO's plight. But still, for one night in Manhattan, the LPO players could close their eyes and revel in the moment. "It's bittersweet," said one LPO violinist. "I've lost everything, but I get to play in the New York Philharmonic tonight." Violinist.com 10/29/05

St. Louis Musician Endowment Nears Its Goal As the St. Louis Symphony attempts to dig out of the financial hole it fell into a few years back, one of the key measuring sticks is the salary earned by its musicians, and how it stacks up to other major American ensembles. In summer 2004, the SLSO began a special endowment drive designed specifically to make salary increases feasible within the existing budget - the goal for the drive is $20 million. This week, the orchestra announced that $17 million has been raised for the project, and the overall orchestra endowment now stands at $112 million. St. Louis Post-Dispatch 10/29/05

October 28, 2005

All Naxos, All Online Naxos has made its catalog of 75,000 tracks available for downloading. "From the Music Library, subscribing institutions can stream any Naxos title, and the company hopes to make this service available to individual subscribers in the future. Naxos Web Radio streams 72 channels of music programmed by genre for an annual fee." Boston Globe 10/28/05

NY Phil Merges With Louisiana Phil For Concert "The New York Philharmonic entwines itself with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in a joint concert to support the New Orleans-based musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina." The New York Times 10/28/05

October 27, 2005

Why Classical Music Belongs In School "Classical music should be a fundamental part of the school curriculum, for it is as relevant today as ever. A now notorious 2002 survey undertaken by Classic FM established that 65 per cent of six- to 14-year-olds were unable to name a single classical composer and could not differentiate between instruments. This highlighted the neglect of music in many of our schools and was enough of a shock to provoke a response. That response was the Government's much-touted 2004 music manifesto, which was full of good intentions but short on how they would be delivered." The Telegraph (UK) 10/27/05

Is Terfel The Next Pavarotti? Who's the next Pavarotti? How about Bryn Terfel? "A baritone to succeed Pavarotti? It is not beyond reason. Terfel has more than sold half a million UK copies of his last classi-pop album. Terfel matches Pavarotti in his sincere lack of taste. Like Pavarotti, Terfel runs a summer festival, an August weekend at his Welsh estate, Faenol, where he guilelessly mingles with the likes of Van Morrison and Alison Moyet..." La Scena Musicale 10/27/05

Paganini's Violin To Hit The Block An 18th century Cremonese violin once owned by Nicolo Paganini will go on sale at Sotheby's next week with an asking price of £500,000 ($894,600). "Not only is it the first time one of Paganini‘s cherished instruments has come up for auction, it is one of only 50 surviving violins by master craftsman Carlo Bergonzi of Cremona." ABC News (Reuters) 10/26/05

SAS Execs To Get Kennedy Training The recently resurrected San Antonio Symphony will be one of the orchestras to send its executives to Washington, D.C. next month for the Kennedy Center's new program aimed at training better orchestra managers. The arts management program "will allow symphonies to share information and learn new ways to diversify funding sources. They will also consider ways to make the symphonies relevant in the communities they serve." San Antonio Express-News 10/27/05

October 26, 2005

Customs Agents Take Opera Ireland Sets In Cocaine Bust Opera Ireland is hoping its audiences are as high on its production of La Traviata as customs officials in Dover who seized a shipment of cocaine worth £500,000 in one of three trucks delivering sets and costumes for an Opera Ireland production. "Rehearsals were due to begin in Dublin this week on the co-production with Germany's Theatre Aachen." The Guardian (UK) 10/27/05

Detroit Jazz - Benefactor Or Purchaser? A Detroit philanthropist is offering to save the Detroit Jazz Festival with a $10 million commitment. "Here's the rub: Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts, which has produced the jazz festival since 1994, would have to give up control of the event." Detroit Free Press 10/26/05

Cuban Choir Members On Tour Defect To Canada Members of a Cuban choir on tour in Canada have defected. "In all, 11 of the 41-member choir managed to flee the hotel between 6 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, when Digna Guerra, the choir's manager, discovered the absences. In an emergency meeting, she warned the remaining singers that the Cuban government would retaliate against their family members if they tried to seek asylum here." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/26/05

A Radical Idea: Five Cents A Song? "There are an estimated 45 billion free music downloads happening annually, compared to around 360 million annual paid downloads. How to convert more of the free downloads to paid? Lower the price. How about five cents a song? "It's certainly better than the system we have right now. If you charge five cents for 45 billion annual downloads, it's a lot better than nothing." Montreal Gazette 10/24/05

Florida Orch Flush With Cash The Tampa-based Florida Orchestra this week reported a $323,789 surplus on a budget of just over $9 million for the fiscal year that ended June 30. The orchestra's ticket sales amounted to 38% of its overall revenue, which is low in comparison to the rest of the industry, but contributed income was robust, to say the least. Also significant is that "the orchestra finished in the black in a year when the board and musicians agreed on a new labor contract that boosted musicians' pay by about 5 percent over the previous year." St. Petersburg Times (FL) 10/26/05

October 25, 2005

Sing A Duet After You're Dead? Nothing unusual about releasing an album by an artist after he or she is dead. But here's a new low - a "duet" by two stars, mixed after they've both died. "Both Marley and Notorious BIG were used to pushing the musical envelope while alive, but this effort would still have surprised them. I know I scratched my head wondering why anyone would risk the reputations of two of the industry's most influential artists for this ghoulish effort. The guilty parties, of course, are the late artists' estates..." The Guardian (UK) 10/25/05

NW Chamber Orchestra Director Steps Down David Pocock is leaving as artistic director of Seattle Northwest Chamber Orchestra. "Pocock, who has worked with the orchestra since 2003, came from the Colburn School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles, where he served as the dean. Pocock has accepted the position of director of institutional sales with Sherman Clay Pianos." Seattle Times 10/25/05

Swedish Ambassadors Traveling orchestras are ambassadors for their art. The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic played Carnegie Hall this week, and this is what we learned: "First, Stockholm, not widely known as a music center, has a legitimate orchestra to serve its needs, and people should know more about it. Second, Sweden, and Scandinavia in general, produces composers the world should hear more of and doesn't." The New York Times 10/25/05

Montreal Symphony Back On Stage The Montreal Symphony plays its first concert since ending a strike that started last May. "Montreal's Salle Wilfred-Pelletier seemed to be bathed in the warmth of a great big homecoming. After a long and bitter feud it was forgiveness and laughter, and even a few teary eyes in the audience, as Montrealers roundly applauded their orchestra even before Kent Nagano had taken the stage." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/25/05

The Next Threat To Recording Industry - Magazines? "As if the record business doesn't have enough problems, the coming trend in magazine publishing may be free CDs. While magazine publishers tout the arrival of authentic interactivity and deeper connections with readers by adding free CDs to every issue, the music industry worries that yet another route has been found around buying records to obtain music, even though most of the free magazine CDs are compilations." San Francisco Chronicle 10/25/05

October 24, 2005

Online Music - Who Gets The Money? The online music business is booming. But there's a fight between producers and musicians about how to divy up the new income. "Thanks to the success of iPod and iTunes, online music sales are growing at a healthy clip. But record labels complain they aren't recouping expenses, while musicians say they're being squeezed to take a pay cut." Wired 10/24/05

Pole Wins Chopin Competition Rafal Blechacz, 20, is the first Pole in 30 years to win the Chopin International Piano Competition. "The last time a Pole won the 78-year-old competition was 1975, when Krystian Zimerman captured first place and went on to a brilliant musical career." Eighty pianists from 18 countries entered this year's competition. ABCNews.au 10/23/05

October 23, 2005

How Technology Has Changed Music And Musicians Seems there's new technology every day to change the way we get music. Historically, "Mark Katz argues convincingly that technology has been instrumental in determining the types of music and musicians that have achieved popularity. " The Telegraph (UK) 10/23/05

Product Placement - Musicians' Suits That Wick The Heat Players in the London Symphony have been testing out new concert clothes. "Marks & Spencer have been testing their special new high-tech dinner suit on players performing with Glyndebourne Festival Opera in Sussex over the summer. Made from Coolmax, a breathable fabric previously used only in high performance sportswear, the suits move moisture away from the body to the outside of the material in a process that is often described as wicking." The Independent (UK) 10/23/05

Music Returns Slowly To N'Orleans Musicians are slowly returning to New Orleans. "Yet the birthplace of jazz remains a shadow of its once vibrant self -- where music poured from block after block of the French Quarter and beyond late into the night. Since Hurricane Katrina, the crowds are smaller, the streets darker, the venues limited and pay for musicians often minimal." Chicago Sun-Times 10/23/05

Chicago Symphony: Going It Slow The Chicago Symphony has a $12.5 million accumulated deficit. "In the administrative offices of Symphony Center these days, the pressure to find a new music director to replace Daniel Barenboim, who leaves in June after 15 years, is certainly being felt. So is the need to erase the CSO's string of annual deficits and to keep the orchestra moving forward artistically as well as financially. But with so much at stake, CSO Association President Deborah R. Card and Board Chairman William H. Strong are charting a course that values slow and steady over fast and furious." Chicago Sun-Times 10/23/05

Seattle Opera Holds A Garage Sale "The Opera parted with two tons of garments, from ankle armor to silk skirts to black-painted cowboy hats. It took several months to price all the items; some went for as little as $1, while others went for as much as $200. The goal was to raise enough money to buy a new dye vat for the costume shop. Staff members said the private sale for subscribers and donors on Friday had already raised about $10,000, enough money to replace the vat." Seattle Times 10/23/05

October 21, 2005

San Francisco Says Goodbye To Rosenberg Departing San Francisco Opera director Pamela Rosenberg is feted for her accomplishments with the company as she departs. "At the end of evening, the departing general director had some understandable difficulty maintaining her composure while acknowledging the standing ovation she received and the city and opera community she is leaving." San Francisco Chronicle 10/20/05

October 20, 2005

BBC - Missing A Chance At Download Culture? "Last week the BBC announced the end of music on the World Service while, in practically the same breath, assuring Parliament that it has an absolute right to deliver music to all corners of the earth. Bewildered? So are the troops." The bigger question is - is the BBC missing out on delivering content worldwide in an age of downloading? La Scena Musicale 10/20/05

Whew! The Orchestra Strike Is Over. What 'Ya Gonna Do? If you're the Montreal Symphony, coming back from a five-month strike, you play "O Canada" for a pro football game. "The 80-piece orchestra under musical director Kent Nagano will play O Canada before the Montreal Alouettes' regular-season game Saturday afternoon against the Toronto Argonauts. More than 50,000 spectators are expected." SLAM! Sports 10/20/05

If It Vibrates, It's An Instrument A sound lab at the University of California, Berkeley, is aiming to make it possible for almost anything to be an instrument - synthetically, of course. "Any object that vibrates and makes sound -- like a cymbal or a gong -- oscillates for a period of time. These oscillations create complex vibration patterns based on a staggering number of variables, from the flexibility and thickness of the material to the force applied. [The lab's new] software tackles the problem of predicting sounds by breaking down an object into various imaginary pieces, whose joints represent vibration points." Then, all the user needs to do is choose which vibration points to "strike," and voila! An instant instrument is born, regardless of how unlikely it would be in the real world. Wired 10/20/05

Vanished Voices "In June last year, the 34 members of the Scottish Opera chorus were unceremoniously sacked before going onstage to perform Puccini's La Boheme at Edinburgh's Festival Theatre. A few weeks later, they gave their last performance and went on to try to find other work... Scottish Opera was in financial turmoil. Its annual budget of £7.4m had been spent – it needed bailing out, and fast. The opera board wanted an advance on its 2004-2005 budget from the Scottish Arts Council to pay for salaries but the Scottish Executive demanded that, in order to secure the money, Scottish Opera had to restructure – thereby axing 88 jobs. For the chorus, it was a decision that changed their lives." The Herald (Glasgow) 10/20/05

Greek Opera To Get A Real Home (Finally) A coastal site in the south of Athens has been chosen as the future home of the much-neglected National Opera of Greece. If things go according to plan, a huge performing arts complex will rise on the site, which beat out two other potential locations in the city's downtown. "The aim of the complex is to provide a cultural hub combining music halls, museums and galleries such as that in the Spanish town of Bilbao, famed for its striking architecture." Kathimerini (Athens) 10/20/05

Chicago Still Running Deficits, But Things Are Looking Up The Chicago Symphony ran up another sizable deficit in the 2004-05 season ($1.3 million, to be exact,) but that figure represents a major improvement over the previous season and is $700,000 less than the deficit the orchestra had projected for the year. Fund-raising was up by 4% overall, and the budget for fiscal 2005 was reduced 2.6% from the previous year. Ticket sales also rebounded from a slow year in 2003-04, and were up by 7% overall, with nearly 85% of subscribers renewing their seats for 2005-06. The CSO's internal plan calls for achieving a balanced budget by 2006-07. Chicago Sun-Times 10/20/05

October 19, 2005

Average Spending On Music? £21,000 A new study estimates that the average person spends about £21,000 on music during their lifetime. "The figure includes the amount spent on equipment and concert-going as well as music on CDs and records. Music enthusiasts are likely to spend more than double that, parting with just over £44,000 in a lifetime." BBC 10/19/05

McGill Puts Its Money Where Its Music Is Montreal's McGill University has debuted an impressive new building housing its school of music. The project was a long time coming - planning began in 1994 for what was originally supposed to be a library and archive - but the final result is one of the more cutting-edge facilities enjoyed by any conservatory in North America. "Designers did not shy away from the chance to align several different research fields into a single, ambitious studio plan. Film soundtracks, multimedia applications, music recording, studio technology, sound engineering and even neurosciences have a home in the new space." Oh, and did we mention that the architecture is spectacular. La Scena Musicale 10/19/05

Pittsburgh Back In The Red The Pittsburgh Symphony boosted its measurable assets by $8 million in the 2004-05 season, but the orchestra still wound up with a $1.1 million deficit. That's a manageable number for a major orchestra, but it could also be seen as a potential red flag for an organization whose musician costs increased significantly this fall. The PSO musicians recently received a whopping 23% raise (the result of a backloaded contract signed by a management team no longer with the orchestra), and even after they offered to rework the deal to provide some short-term relief, salaries for 2005-06 will still be considerably higher than in previous seasons. Still, PSO officials say they are in good financial shape, especially when compared with other major American orchestras. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 10/19/05

Holland: Welser-Möst Is Doing Just Fine The Cleveland Orchestra is on tour yet again with music director Franz Welser-Möst, and while some critics may still consider it open season on the young conductor, Bernard Holland doesn't see what all the controversy is about. "The eyebrows that lifted when Mr. Welser-Möst was given this job must certainly have settled by now. One hears his casual elegance reflected in his players: a fastidiousness that is never prim, breathing naturally. The musicians sounded as if they believed in their conductor; he must be delighted with them. The Cleveland played on Monday with the good intentions of the best European orchestra, but with an ability to carry them out that hardly any European orchestra can match." The New York Times 10/19/05

What Caused The OSM Strike, Anyway? The months-long strike at l'Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal is finally over, and details are beginning to emerge not only about the OSM's new contract, but about the surprisingly small details of workplace conditions that stalled negotiations for more than a year. "After years of seeing their schedules grow ever tighter under the baton of Charles Dutoit, the musicians seemed to have decided that enough was enough. At the same time, general manager Madeleine Careau was demanding concessions to help tame an accumulated deficit that now stands at $3.4-million. To make matters worse, the OSM has been caught in recent years between the demands of its escalating international fortunes and the apparent decline of Montreal's ability to finance large performing-arts organizations." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/19/05

Two Ensembles, One Conductor: Sounds Like Synergy The Cleveland Orchestra and the Zurich Opera are in talks about possible future collaborations. Franz Welser-Möst serves as music director for both groups, and he owes much of his international success to Zurich Opera's director general, who has tirelessly promoted the sometimes controversial young conductor. "Welser-Möst has been considering using the orchestra pit at Severance Hall - as did Artur Rodzinski in the 1930s and Lake Erie Opera Theater in the 1960s - to present full-scale opera productions. It isn't unreasonable that a production originating at the Zurich Opera - Pereira mentioned Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos and Capriccio and Mozart's Cosi fan tutte as possibilities - could be adapted for the Severance Hall stage." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 10/19/05

October 18, 2005

Checking In With NY City Opera "The composer-critic Deems Taylor called the City Center Opera 'democracy in action, a democracy realizing the work of the individual.' Tickets started at eighty-five cents—nine and a half dollars, in today’s currency—and topped out at $2.20. These days, you have to pay quite a bit more to get through the doors of what LaGuardia dubbed 'the people’s opera company.' Tickets go up to a hundred and twenty dollars, which is more than most orchestra seats for 'Spamalot.' Don’t blame City Opera for falling short of its populist mission..." The New Yorker 10/17/05

Montreal Symphony Ends Strike Montreal Symphony musicians have approved a new contract, ending their strike, begun last May. "On Monday, the musicians voted 96 per cent in favour of a tentative agreement reached this weekend. They had been without a contract since Aug. 31, 2003. The new seven-year deal is retroactive and will give the players an 18.23 per cent salary increase over the next seven years, as well as improved premiums and pension benefits. It expires in 2010." CBC 10/18/05

October 17, 2005

Australian Opera Can Now Pay To Play Australian Opera's budget uncertainty has come out of limbo. "The State Government has agreed to make $225,000 available to the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra, to satisfy a condition for the Federal Government to provide funding, too. Until Friday, Opera Australia had been unable to finalise contracts with 2007 season performers because of the budgeting uncertainties." Sydney Morning Herald 10/18/05

An Orchestra In Search Of An Opera "The dismembering of Scotland's national opera company ranged across the organisation, and included the sacking of the entire chorus. No department was spared. Except the 53-strong orchestra." So now what are the musicians supposed to do? Glasgow Herald 10/16/05

Another Florida Orchestra To Go Bust? South Florida's Renaissance Chamber Orchestra appears on the versge of going out of business. "With no advance warning, the ensemble failed to show up for its season-opening concert Sunday afternoon at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, leaving about two dozen puzzled audience members standing outside." South Florida Sun-Sentinel 10/17/05

October 16, 2005

Today's Music: What Sells In Concert Doesn't Sell On Disc Oldies bands are big on the road, selling out arenas and fairs. "The concert box office continues to be dominated by white guys old enough to be grandfathers. With all those seats filled, you'd think that all these wizened rockers must be moving boatloads of CDs, too. But the sales figures tell a different story." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/16/05

Settlement In Montreal Symphony Strike? There's a tentative deal, say negotiators. Museums have been on strike since May. "Money was a key issue, with no agreement even on the musician's current status. The players say they work 38 hours a week for a base salary of $61,000, and then have to spend about a quarter of their income on maintaining and insuring their instruments. Management says the average annual salary is $75,000 for a 20 hour week." CBC 10/16/05

In Cleveland - It's Critic Versus Conductor It's not often that an American music critic takes dead aim at the music director of the local orchestra. "Imagine, then, the horror felt by many people in Cleveland, Ohio, when Donald Rosenberg, critic of The Plain Dealer and one of North American's most respected music journalists, came back from the Cleveland Orchestra's recent west coast tour with an extremely blunt assessment of itsAustrian music director, Franz Welser-Möst. Three years into the conductor's tenure, wrote Rosenberg, Welser-Möst's interpretations were 'vacant'; he was a conductor of 'high proficiency and low inspiration'." Financial Times 10/14/05

Orchestras - Where Are The Women? "Women have yet to attain the power, prestige and astronomical pay scale of baton-wielding superstars at the Big Five orchestras in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Chicago. They're not exactly flourishing at a variety of other ensembles, either. Why is it that in our supposedly enlightened age, when so many gender barriers have been broken, female conductors still have difficulty reaching the top of the profession? What needs to change in order for that to happen?" San Diego Union-Tribune 10/16/05

Opera - The Future Is Live So we've seen the last of the great studio opera recordings. But maybe there's something new to be made of the live recording. "Think of all those bootlegged accounts of Maria Callas that once surreptitiously circulated among fanatics. More recently, EMI has been legitimizing those recordings and releasing them, sonically cleaned up as much as possible, in its comprehensive Callas Edition. But through the years there have been many distinguished, well-engineered and perfectly legal live recordings of operas." The New York Times 10/16/05

October 14, 2005

Washington Opera To Simulcast Opera Outdoors The Washington Opera plans to simulcast a performance of "Porgy and Bess" on the National Mall. "The 2 p.m. performance will be transmitted live from the Kennedy Center Opera House and shown on a gigantic video screen, 18 by 32 feet, that will be located near the Capitol, with speakers set up for sound. Although large screens have been used to let audiences view close-ups of musicians while they were playing on the Mall, this is believed to be the first time that a performance originating elsewhere will have been transmitted there live." Washington Post 10/14/05

Beethoven In Philly How did a manuscript of Beethoven's Grosse Fuge end up in Philadelphia? "The more immediate question is how such a manuscript ended up at Palmer, previously known as Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Though important manuscripts are scattered over the globe by world wars, this one had a more genteel route, arriving in 1950 among a collection of hymns donated by philanthropist Marguerite Treat Doane." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/14/05

October 13, 2005

New Energy in British Jazz British jazz of the 1970s was vibrant, but by the 90s it had lost steam. "If there was an identity crisis in young British jazz just 10 years ago, it is now subsiding, and a lot of that is thanks to the work of F-ire. The measure of inspiration presented in the collective's work reminds me of the very best of British jazz." The Telegraph (UK) 10/14/05

Study: Classic FM Works Critics assail the UK's Classic FM as lightweight and useless in clutivating new audiences for classical music. But a new study reports that Classic FM is a potent audience-builder. "The study, conducted between May and October last year, compared concerts supported by Classic FM with those that were not. The Philharmonia Orchestra reported three times the number of first-time concert-goers at their Classic FM-supported events, and figures for the Barbican's Classic-backed Mostly Mozart festival were even more impressive, with a massive 38 per cent of the audience attending a classical concert for the very first time." The Telegraph (UK) 10/14/05

Stockhausen - Out Of This World? Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen has ha an enormous influence on contemporary music. Personally, he's enigmatic: "This 77-year-old musical pioneer has claimed that he comes not from Burg Mödrath, near Cologne (listed as his birthplace on his biography), but rather from a planet orbiting the star Sirius, and that he was put on earth to give voice to a cosmic music that will change the world. He is, to put it mildly, a one-off." The Guardian (UK) 10/14/05

Bartoli - Diva Outside The Mainstream? Cecilia Bartoli has made a specialty of singing repertoire off the beaten path. "She is not diva-ish in the old-fashioned sense - she doesn't intimidate and, by all accounts, is an easy-going colleague when part of an opera cast. Her widely quoted falling out with Jonathan Miller at the Met in 1996 during a production of The Marriage of Figaro was untypical: in any case, she was standing up for a musical principle, not refusing a directorial command. She is tough, demanding, but no termagant. Yet there remain questions about the trajectory of her career..." The Guardian (UK) 10/14/05

Beethoven As He Edited A Beethoven manuscript missing for 115 years has resurfaced. "It was a working manuscript score for a piano version of Beethoven's "Grosse Fuge," a monument of classical music. And it was in the composer's own hand, according to Sotheby's auction house. The 80-page manuscript in mainly brown ink - a furious scattering of notes across the page, with many changes and cross-outs, some so deep that the paper is punctured - dates from the final months of Beethoven's life." The New York Times 10/13/05

October 12, 2005

Recording Industry Attacks BBC UK recording executives are angry at the BBC for offering free downloads of Beethoven symphonies last summer. The music was downloaded 1.4 million times. "Critics say the corporation is failing to take into account the market impact of its online and digital expansion, in spite of the new service licences introduced by the BBC chairman, Michael Grade, which were supposed to address this issue." The Guardian (UK) 10/12/05

Team Commission One of the reasons that new works of classical music don't turn up more often on the programs of smaller orchestras is that they're damned expensive. Commissioning a new work from an established composer can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and few ensembles outside of the top orchestras have that kind of cash to kick around (and if they did, they'd likely have more important things to spend it on.) But this week, a new work by composer Joan Tower will get its premiere, courtesy of a first-of-its-kind commissioning program that brought together no fewer than 65 small orchestras from across the U.S. to fund the creation of the work. The composer will see an added benefit from the unusual process as well: when all is said and done, her new work will have been performed 80 times over the course of 18 months. Newark Star-Ledger (NJ) 10/12/05

October 11, 2005

Beamish Binge Sally Beamish is officially "Britain's most prolific composer of concertos," a distinction that frequently puts her in the position of composing especially for some of the world's finest musicians. This fall, Scottish concertgoers will have a chance to hear what all the excitement is about, and then some. "What is about to happen is probably unprecedented in Scotland, outside of a festival context. Within a period of six weeks, five of Beamish's concertos will be played, including one world premiere and one Scottish premiere." And it's not even her 50th birthday or anything! (That comes next summer, along with what will surely be an even larger wave of performances.) The Herald (Glasgow) 10/12/05

Great (And Possibly Unfair) Expectations The subtext of the debate surrounding Marin Alsop's appointment to lead the Baltimore Symphony goes well beyond the orchestra's internal politics. At the heart of the issue is the groundbreaking nature of the appointment, and the desperate hope on the part of many that Alsop will blaze a trail for future female conductors to follow. But Peter Dobrin suggests that such hopes may be unfair, both to Alsop and those who will come after her. If a new Brahms recording is any indication, the BSO "is getting neither a master nor an incompetent, neither a revelationist nor charlatan. What if Alsop turns out to be - dare we say it - merely a good conductor? Or a very good conductor?" Philadelphia Inquirer 10/11/05

Houston S.O. Hires Ex-San Antonio Exec "Steven R. Brosvik, the former executive director of the San Antonio Symphony, has been appointed general manager of the Houston Symphony. Brosvik succeeds Matthew VanBesien, who was promoted to executive director and CEO in April after Ann Kennedy resigned from that post. The executive director of the San Antonio Symphony from 2001 through late 2003, Brosvik oversaw the orchestra through the financial struggles than eventually led it to declare bankruptcy." The Houston Symphony has had myriad troubles of its own in the last few years, ranging from the catastrophic flooding of its concert hall and library in 2001 to a bitter musicians' strike in 2003. PlaybillArts (NY) 10/11/05

New Takacs Doesn't Miss A Beat The Takacs Quartet, considered one of the world's best chamber ensembles, has launched its first season without longtime violist Roger Tapping, who left the group this past summer. So how is the Takacs sound faring with new violist Geraldine Walther, late of the San Francisco Symphony? Very well, thank you. "With less than a month's worth of performances under her belt, Walther -- with her warm, honeyed tone, her clarity and confidence -- is already a fit with the group, which sounded remarkably, delicately in balance... There was an incredible airiness to Sunday's performance, with its refined, tremulous atmospherics: It evoked sunlight passing through fog. You could 'see' each refracted ray." San Jose Mercury News 10/11/05

October 10, 2005

Gergiev In London: A Win-Win Situation When the London Symphony announced that the dynamic Russian conductor Valerie Gergiev had agreed to become its next music director, the reaction from around the music world was uniformly positive. "Snaring the world's most charismatic conductor has made the LSO the envy of the orchestral world. But like most marriages the relationship is based on a shrewd calculation of mutual interests... What the orchestra needed was someone capable of matching and maintaining its marketprofile, not just at its Barbican base but through tours, recordings and media visibility... As for Gergiev, tying a knot with London's best-connected orchestra represents a strategic west European foothold - a grade above his longstanding Rotterdam Philharmonic post but without making more demands on his time." Financial Times (UK) 10/10/05

Atlanta S.O. Predicts $2 Billion Arts Center Impact Trumpeting the economic impact of the arts has become a tried-and-true promotional technique over the past several years, and this week, the Atlanta Symphony took its turn at self-congratulation, releasing a consultant's report that predicts a $2 billion boost to the Georgia economy upon completion of the orchestra's new $300 million concert hall. "[That] includes $537 million during construction and $1.45 billion during the first 10 years of operation. It should generate $116 million in tax revenues and 2,100 new jobs through 2020, says the report." Birmingham News (Alabama) 10/10/05

October 9, 2005

Milwaukee Symphony Players Take Pay Cut The Milwaukee Symphony has signed a new contract with its musicians. It's not good news for the players. The deal includes "a minimum salary of $53,625 (down from $59,125) for 39 weeks of work (down from 43). The four-year contract gives the orchestra 'breathing room' - time to improve marketing, reverse a long-term audience slide, balance the operating budget, establish fiscal transparency and restore donors' faith in the institution." Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 10/08/05

The Problem With Opera Why Aren't youg people going to the opera? "The truth is they are intimidated by the institution, by the ticket prices, by the posh frocks and bow ties, by the champagne intervals, the old operas sung in foreign languages that may have universal themes but by their very nature don't address contemporary issues. Young people have little reason to make it to Glyndebourne, the ENO or London's Covent Garden. Glyndebourne, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year, sees opera in crisis and is trying to address the fact that, in order to survive, the genre has to progress." Financial Times (UK) 10/08/05

Is The Next Bilbao An Opera House? "Valencia's new 4,000-seat opera house, which opens tonight after nine years in construction, is meant to be more than just another surrealist design by architect Santiago Calatrava. It is the centrepiece of what local politicians hope will be a cultural renaissance for this resort region, better known for its beaches than for its love of Verdi." The Guardian (UK) 10/08/05

Is Digital Downloading Classical Recording's Saviour? So says a spokesman for Naxos. "This is all pure profit for us. There are no post-production costs - no booklet to print, no (disc) pressing costs, no jewel case costs. And really, it hasn't hurt our CD sales. People out there look at the price of a download in a different way. This is disposable music. It's a way for them to sample something without making a large investment. They'll pay the 99 cents for one cut and either decide to try the whole album or not. If they like it, they'll maybe go out and purchase the CD." Rocky Mountain News 10/09/05

Scots Look Enviously At Welsh Opera While Scottish Opera languishes, the Welsh National Opera thrives artistically. What's the difference? "It is simply the fact that good-quality opera is not something that can be done cheaply and cannot be done with uncertainty over year-to-year financing, which is what we have had. In opera, we have to think at least three years ahead when we book people and organise our events. When we don't know from year to year how much money we are going to have, we can't plan properly. In Wales, they make it a priority." Scotland On Sunday 10/09/05

October 7, 2005

Why Not Let The WKRP DJs Host The Concerts While You're At It? The Cincinnati Symphony is trying to boost ticket sales with promotions meant to make the organization seem edgier and more in tune with today's young adults (for instance, what 20-something wouldn't love a temporary tattoo that says, 'Get Your Beethoven On'?). This kind of thing rarely works, of course, but as long as the CSO is determined to try it, Chuck Martin has some additional suggestions for achieving hipsterdom. For one thing, concert halls need to be a far more nacho-intensive environment. For another, CSO music director Paavo Järvi is just crying out for a nickname, something like... ohhhh, how about P. Diddy? Cincinnati Enquirer 10/07/05

October 6, 2005

The Specialists A new generation of young pianists is coming of age in New York. But rather than pursuing traditional avenues of classical music achievement and finding fame on the orchestral stage, many are opting for the far more specialized world of contemporary music. The result has been a renewed energy in the city's new music circles, and a fiercely loyal following for the performers who choose the road less traveled. The New York Times 10/07/05

Good News In Buffalo, But Stormier Seas Ahead The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra has announced a balanced budget for the fiscal year just completed, and ticket sales for the fall season are well ahead of last year's pace. But no one at the BPO is spending much time on self-congratulation: projections for the year ahead predict a $1.4 million deficit, and a large amount of government funding traditionally allocated to the orchestra is in jeopardy as a result of a statewide budget crunch. Buffalo Business First 10/07/05

Six (8th) Blackbirds At Ten There are plenty of new music ensembles wandering the classical music world, but few ever manage to achieve serious longevity or catch on with any measurable percentage of mainstream listeners. But after ten years of diligently honing their craft and cultivating audiences with a unique blend of high energy and disarming informality, the sextet of young musicians known as "eighth blackbird" are knocking on the door of new music success previously known only by the Kronos Quartet. Baltimore Sun 10/06/05

Alsop To Stay On In Bournemouth The UK's Bournemouth Symphony has extended the contract of its principal conductor, Marin Alsop, through 2008. Alsop's contract had been set to expire at the end of the current season, and her international profile was recently raised when she was named as the next music director of the Baltimore Symphony, beginning in 2007. Gramophone (UK) 10/06/05

October 5, 2005

How Starbucks Is Changing The Music Business "When most stores are slashing CD prices, Starbucks is offering them for at least full price, and shifting millions. Traditional record retailers are both envious and nervous, major labels are rubbing their hands over the prospect of reaching 34 million new customers and industry analysts are wondering just how far Starbucks can go." The Guardian (UK) 10/06/05

Opera Australia - Caught In The Middle Opera Australia is caught in the middle of a funding dispute between national and state governments. "The impasse means the company could not sign contracts with its performers for its 2007 season." Sydney Morning Herald 10/06/05

Stop The Insanity. Star Soloist Fees Are Too High "The time has come to impose a ceiling on concert fees of the kind that prevails in all the leading opera houses." Outrageous soloist fees are killing the music business. "If the orchestras won't ban greedy-guts soloists, the funding authorities should step in. Music is paid for in part by the taxpayer, who does not generally approve of subsidising rich foreigners unless they play football, and in part by private and corporate donors whose innocence of musical economics is cruelly abused by avaricious musicians. A principle needs to be re-established. Money that is given to the arts in a spirit of idealism should be put towards creative renewal. Any other purpose is bad for business and death for art." La Scena Musicale 10/05/05

Louisiana Phil On The Road The Louisiana Philharmonic performed in Nashville Tuesday night. "It may have been the Louisiana Philharmonic's first concert since the hurricane, but will not be its last. The New York Philharmonic will present the ensemble in a joint concert on Oct. 28 at Avery Fisher Hall. And they are weighing a half-dozen other invitations from around the country." The New York Times 10/06/05

  • New Orleans Classical In Nashville "Just as most people wouldn't think of a major symphony orchestra first (or even second) when thinking of Nashville, so too New Orleans brings up images of Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and the Marsalis brothers--not Rossini, Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich. Still, that's something of a tourist's view of the Crescent City, as New Orleans--both past and present--has a rich tradition of European art music too." OpinionJournal.com 10/06/05

Stearns: Another Take On "Atomic" David Stearns: "The opera walks an uncertain line between representation and abstraction, unfolding along traditional linear lines until a fleet of dancers in military uniform, choreographed by Lucinda Childs, suggests "Springtime for Hitler" is on the way. Not until you're deep into the opera do you realize that complete portrayals of key characters aren't attempted; they're presented, nonjudgmentally, in pieces for the audience to assemble. Is it a Faust story? Nothing so cliched. I saw an ironic parable of how saving the world may well destroy it." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/05/05

In Cleveland - Only One In Ten Seats Filled For Organ Concert Cleveland's Severance Hall was almost empty for its first major organ concert this year. "Only about 10 percent of the seats in Severance Hall were occupied Sunday when the hall's Organ Recital Series began its season with a recital by Paul Jacobs, a wizardly musician who deserves massive audiences." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 10/05/05

Twist: Musicians Tell Fans How To Beat Their Record Company's Piracy Measures Some big recording companies are protecting their CD's from being copied or locking the format so they can't be transfered to an iPod. "But these decisions aren't sitting well with some of the artists whose CDs have been secured. A number of leading acts are using their Web sites to instruct fans on how to work around the technology." Rocky Mountain News 10/05/05

National Symphony Gets A New Conductor Washington's National Symphony has signed on Ivan Fischer as its new principal guest conductor beginning with the 2006-07 season. "The initial contract will be for three years, meaning that Fischer may be the senior artistic figure within the orchestra when the present music director, Leonard Slatkin, steps down at the end of the 2007-08 season." Washington Post 10/05/05

October 4, 2005

Louisiana Phil Takes To The Road Tuesday night, the plucky Louisiana Philharmonic plays a road game in Nashville, its first concert since hurricane Katrina. "The 68-member Louisiana Philharmonic was to open its concert season at the ornate Orpheum Theater on Sept. 15, but the venue, like most of the city, was flooded and may be lost for the season." MSNBC 10/03/05

Recording Industry Wrongfully Bullying, Suing Downloaders "Attorneys representing some of the 14,000 people targeted for illegal music trading say their clients are being bullied into settling as the cheapest way to get out of trouble. Collection agencies posing as 'settlement centers' are harassing their clients to pay thousands of dollars for claims about which they know nothing, they say." Wired 10/04/05

Doctor Atomic - Outside The Blast Zone? "John Adams and librettist and director Peter Sellars have enjoyed some success in previous collaborations with Sellars directing Adams' first two operas. Yet even with a talented cast, striking visual design and some extraordinary and often beautiful music by Adams, Doctor Atomic is fatally undermined by Sellars' convoluted libretto and silly, distracting directorial conceits, which at times provoked unwonted laughter from the opening-night audience." Florida Sun-Sentinel 10/04/05

October 3, 2005

Chicago Chamber Orchestra Folds The Chicago chamber orchestra Concertante di Chicago is "suspending operations after 20 seasons because of the increasing difficulty of attracting new audiences and raising its budgets in an uncertain arts economy, officials said. In recent years Concertante has had trouble filling that 400-seat facility. 'We looked into the future and were concerned about what we saw with audiences. We play to a generally older crowd, and frankly they were falling by the wayside. When we looked to see who was coming up behind them, we were not encouraged'." Chicago Tribune 10/03/05

Doctor Atomic - Some Kind Of Masterpiece "Some of the evening sputters, most of it is a forceful blend of tenderness and urgency leavened with occasional touches of graveyard wit. But any piece crowned by a stretch of writing as visionary and as stubbornly unforgettable as that Act 1 finale is already some kind of masterpiece." San Francisco Chronicle 10/03/05

  • Going Nuclear - What "Atomic" Sounds Like "A montage of sounds runs through the score: alarms, screams, strange metallic grindings, scratchy tunes poking through radio static. In the orchestra, the tension jumps from tectonic timpani rumbles to dry staccato sprints in the strings, to gelid woodwind chords. Occasionally, Adams' score rises to a raging shout, and at other times it relaxes into arias of consolatory beauty. But it never ceases to quiver." Newsday 10/03/05

  • "Atomic" Explodes "New operas are always big events, but the hype surrounding this one went off the scale. This climax contains some of the most powerful and haunting music Adams has written. It relies on one of the most astonishing bits of stagecraft Sellars has conceived. It expands your consciousness in the way opera is uniquely qualified to do on those rare occasions when the art form is working with all its cylinders firing." Los Angeles Times 10/03/05

  • "Dr. Atomic" - Music Good, Sellars Not? "As was the case with the previous John Adams-Peter Sellars piece, the Nativity oratorio "El Niño," Sellars's idiosyncrasy and obsession with concept leeched much of the theatrical vigor from this promising project. Recent productions of "Nixon" and "The Death of Klinghoffer," not directed by Mr. Sellars, brought out previously unnoticed power in those works. Perhaps it is time for Mr. Adams to find a different collaborator." OpinionJournal 10/04/05

SanJoseSymphony.org? Don't Go There! The website Sanjosesymphony.org is being occupied by a cybersquatter. "Now, the only way to remove the embarrassing link is to buy the domain or file legal action. No bargain solution either way." San Jose Mercury-News 10/03/05

Download Music Sales Up, Total Sales Down Sales of downloaded music have tripled in the past year and now account for 6% of record industry sales, worth $790 million. "However, revenue from sales of physical music formats, like CDs, fell 6.3% and the overall market by 1.9%. That translates to a global drop in the market from $13.4 billion (£7.6bn) to $13.2 billion (£7.5bn), for all music sales - regardless of format." BBC 10/03/05

October 2, 2005

Embracing Doctor Atomic John Adams' "Doctor Atomic" debuts in San Francisco. "In a risky stroke Peter Sellars assembled a libretto from interviews with the project participants, history books, conversation transcripts, declassified documents and poetry. His cut-and-paste job has produced a libretto of heightened emotional resonance and surprising dramatic continuity. With Mr. Adams's haunting score, what results is a complex, searching and painfully honest if somewhat problematic opera." The New York Times 10/03/05

Do Artist Training Programs Work? Of course they do. Just look at Chicago Lyric Opera Center for American Artists. The training program was launched in 1974 to "give promising young opera singers professional-level training and stage experience." Look at what its graduates have accoplished... Chicago Sun-Times 10/02/05

Illegal Downloads Still Dominate Canada "Canadians illegally download 14 music CDs or other files from the Internet for every file they take from the web legally, a new recording-industry poll suggests." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/02/05

Shostakovich Centenery Calls For A New Look "Shostakovich subtly manoeuvred his way round the Soviet system and enshrined in his music a message that could be interpreted in different ways - optimistic, despondent, crushed or defiant. With the advent of his centenary year in 2006, there will be ample opportunity to consider what the music meant to Shostakovich and what it still means to us." The Telegraph (UK) 10/02/05

Opera Central - Why Don't They Care? Colorado's Central City Opera is a terrific company. But it is neglected when discussions of great American opera companies come up. "The perplexing question is: Why? It certainly is not because of any lack in production quality. The diversity and daring of Central City's programming easily competes with any summer festival in the country. Part of the problem lies with geography. The company is not only a bit isolated, it is also a long way from either of the two coasts, where nearly all the major classical-music critics live. And travel budgets are being cut everywhere." Denver Post 10/02/05

Pittsburgh Symphony Musicians Downsize Their Deal Pittsburgh Symphony musicians have agreed to a new contract with some big concessions. "During the first year of the new contract, which runs through Aug. 31, 2008, musicians will take a 4.2 percent pay reduction, resulting in a savings of $500,000. The orchestra, which posted a $500,000 deficit last year, will reduce the number of musicians from 99 to 95 and institute a hiring freeze. In year two of the contract, an unpaid week of vacation and the hiring freeze will save $1 million. In year three, the PSO will save $900,000." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/01/05

Will Scottish Opera Have To Merge To Survive? Scottish Opera is in dire straits. Some say "unless urgent action is taken on funding, Scotland could be forced to merge its national opera company with Opera North in Leeds, England to survive. Shouldn't Scotland be funding its own opera? The Scotsman 09/29/05

Music Downloader... er Aggregator Expands The Music Pool A new music aggregator on the internet feeds you music from a data store of 3 million tunes. "Listening to Mercora is like tapping into a million iPods all at once. You can control what you listen to, returning to the search engine after each tune to select your next cut, or you can open yourself to the choices and discoveries of whatever random music lover happens to have been playing the tune you first sought." Washington Post 10/02/05

Country Music Kicks Butt On Tour Country music is having a great year on the touring circuit. "While other genres struggle to maintain superstars and develop new headliners, country music has been performing extremely well on both fronts, particularly for the past two years. Last year, five country acts were among the top 25 touring acts for the year, following a long dry spell when the genre was lucky to have one or two acts among touring's elite. Country's current boom stems from a premise that is often forgotten by much of the concert industry: Offer great talent at a fair price in an appealing setting, and fans will respond." Yahoo! (Billboard) 10/02/05

A Thing About Gershwin Gershwin's Concerto in F is getting its regular-season premiere at the Boston Symphony (the piece had always been relegated to the Pops season). Why has Gershwin's much-loved "serious" music taken so long to be embraced by symphony orchestras? The New York Times 10/02/05

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