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JUNE 2000

  • PROFIT MOTIVE: Since the internet is rapidly transforming the music industry, and some estimates have us downloading our music rather than buying CDs by the year 2010, how will musicians continue to get paid for their songs? “Currently, there are four different ways: when listeners pay to download songs; subscription-only sites; advertising revenue from running banner ads; and cashing in on the musician's identity by selling tee-shirts or fan club memberships. The most important thing artists can do is remind their listeners that music is worth paying for.”  NPR 06/28/00 [Real Audio file] (Part 1 of a series)

  • MUSIC BLOCKADE: A young Cuban band was supposed to play in the Montreal and Toronto Jazz Festivals this week. But when the Halifax musician who organized the tour tried to wire money for plane tickets to Havana, the bank accidentally sent the funds through its New York office, where the money was seized. "American law demands any funds going to Cuba must be held by the Office of Foreign Assets. The bank tried to correct the error, but it was too late to pay for the airline tickets." CBC 06/30/00

Thursday June 29

  • DOWN IN FRONT: Now, at least, there are some female conductors working. But they're often not treated well, and they're held to different standards than their male counterparts. "There is no shortage of male conductors who turn up with a half-read score and get away with a self-deprecating grin and a round of drinks. But with a female conductor, orchestras are less tolerant." The Telegraph 06/29/00

  • SIZE DOES MATTER: It's the 250th anniversary of Bach's death, and performances abound. But how to perform the music? "Choirs, even the compact 12-to-16 voice ensembles accepted as 'authentic' in period-instrument circles, are anachronisms and inventions - modern-day hybrids that have nothing to do with J. S. Bach's actual practice, and are as much a misrepresentation of the composer's intentions as performing Beethoven's string quartets with a string orchestra would be." Toronto Globe and Mail 06/29/00

  • WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE POP MUSIC BIZ? The greed? The commercialization? The changing economics of Napster et al? Nope -  it's "this idea that you have to be young to be valuable, that's the downfall of music. There's very little appreciation for growth. You think about crafts where elders are respected, and people are dedicated to the idea of getting better. Seems like that's no longer what being involved with music is about." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/29/00

    • "You mustn't measure old by years," says The Who's Roger Daltrey, who, if old were measured out in years, would be 57. "It's got bugger-all to do with time. You've got 16-year-olds that are old and 75-year-olds that have kept their childlike quality with the maturity of being older in years, and that leads to somebody very, very hip and spiritual." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/29/00

  • STUDIO TO CLOSE: Los Angeles' oldest independent recording studio is closing. "They'll switch off the last tube-powered amplifier and unplug the last 50-year-old audiotape console on Friday." Times of India (AP) 06/29/00

Wednesday June 28

  • STAR SEARCH: The 37-year-old Leeds International Piano Competition has launched the careers of a surprising number of world-class pianists, and now ranks alongside Russia's Tchaikovsky competition as one of the world’s most esteemed showcases in the piano world. So it's no surprise the competition received a record 298 recital tapes from potential entrants this year, each hoping to join the roster of past winners. “Murray Perahia, Radu Lupu, Andras Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida - the list reads like the best-selling rack of classical music stores the world over.” CNN (Reuters) 06/27/00

  • A BUDDING CAREER THAT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN: A month ago a Starbuck's store manager in Manhattan won the Van Cliburn international piano competition for amateurs. Since then, he's been giving concerts, getting great reviews, and there's even talk of a recording. "It wasn't supposed to be this way. The president of the Van Cliburn Foundation admits he'd be concerned if the amateur competition became known as a stepping-stone to professional careers." Dallas Morning News 06/28/00

  • BRITISH CONDUCTOR ANDREA QUINN, former director of London’s Royal Ballet, will take over as music director of New York City Ballet in August 2001. New York Times 06/28/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Tuesday June 27

  • NOT JUST ANOTHER JAZZ FESTIVAL PREVIEW: This advance of a jazz festival set for St. Petersburg, Russia, takes an unusual turn in the second paragraph - with band members singing songs calling the Russian president "Pinochet," and taunting the police with "it smells of police near the stage." Talk about an invitation to getting beaten up (which of course is exactly what happens). St. Petersburg Times 06/27/00

  • IN LOVE WITH MAVERICKS: Some thought that the San Francisco Symphony's just-concluded festival of 20th Century music would be a hard sell. "Well, they reckoned without Michael Tilson Thomas. It's my belief that people flocked to these concerts in large part because they believed him when he promised that the shows were going to be exciting and fun, and they kept coming back because he made good on that promise." San Francisco Chronicle 06/27/00

Monday June 26

  • STILL MOZART TO DISCOVER: At the age of 69, after a full career, Alfred Brendel could certainly afford to ease up a bit. But he's just discovered Mozart. "He still plays around 90 concerts a year - 90 repetitions of the experience he once described as 'the sudden burst of sweat in a spasm of anxiety'. Last year saw him performing in 53 towns and cities from Tokyo to Minnesota, from New York to Plush, Dorset." The Guardian 06/26/00

Sunday June 25

  • A SYMPHONY OF SUCCESS: Who says contemporary music can't get second performances? In the ten years since John Corigliano's First Symphony was written, it's been performed by more than 120 orchestras worldwide and by most major American ensembles. Recordings of it have won three Grammys. It's one of only a handful of large-scale 20th Century orchestral works to have entered the standard repertoire so quickly. Chicago Tribune 06/25/00

  • BETTER LIVING THROUGH STREAMING: American orchestras' proposed agreement about streaming their performances over the internet is a forward-thinking idea for an artform generally thought to be mired in the past. "This whole agreement was not driven by the idea that this is a major new revenue source, but how can you use this to sell tickets and raise money to keep subscribers loyal. We want to find ways to use this new Internet technology to generate new audiences and keep our institution alive." Chicago Tribune 06/25/00

  • SUCCESSFUL ALL TOGETHER: In Europe and America, the ensemble opera company is virtually extinct - the ease of jet travel and the huge rise in fees have made loyalty to a single company almost impossible. "Yet in cash-poor Eastern Europe, great operatic ensembles survive and even flourish.  The Kirov Opera  in St Petersburg  is a company rich in big voices of a splendour that is virtually extinct in Europe and the US, as well as a superb chorus and many promising newcomers." The Telegraph (London) 06/24/00

  • A LANDSLIDE VOTE FOR NIXON: John Adams' "Nixon in China" just closed - but not before it became the hottest ticket in London. The opera's success "has given pundits here yet another opportunity to engage in one of their favorite pastimes: sneering at America. 'Nixon in China' has been taken as further proof among some Brits that the United States, for all its wealth and power, has never quite matched the worldly sophistication of its mother country." Washington Post 06/25/00

  • LEAVING ON A HIGH NOTE: Lofti Mansouri prepares to retire from the helm of San Francisco Opera after next season, and the tributes have already begun. Los Angeles Times 06/25/00

  • KARAOKE ON STEROIDS: Paul Allen's Experience Music Project opens in Seattle with a weekend full of music. It's not so much a museum of pop culture as it is the ultimate hand-on journey. Pictures, video and a review of the bash. MSNBC 06/25/00

Friday June 23

  • LOOKING AHEAD: Dying? Orchestras dying? Not to hear these orchestras talk about their future. The American Symphony Orchestra League holds its annual meeting and looks forward, not back. Boston Globe 06/23/00 

  • MODERN STRADIVARIUS? A biochemist claims he's discovered exactly why violins made in Stradivari's day are so magnificent. And he's begun turning out his own instruments, which have been "bought for as much as $15,000 apiece and reviewed favorably by members of the Cleveland Quartet, Chicago Symphony, and New York Philharmonic. Yehudi Menuhin played one, on loan for 15 years." So why aren't musicians flocking to Joseph Nagyvary's workshop? Discover Magazine 06/00 

  • RUSSELL CROWE AND A SIDE OF RIBS: Women from all around the world are in a bidding frenzy, hoping to get their hands on the much-coveted tickets to see Australian actor Russell Crowe's band "Thirty Odd Foot Of Grunts." The concert will be held at Stubbs BBQ restaurant in Austin, Texas - tickets are presently going for around $200 on internet auctions. The Age 06/23/00

  • DIGITAL REALITIES: "For all the record companies’ bleating about lost sales, nobody is about to starve. But in highlighting how hard it is to control digital content once it is let loose on the Internet, Napster and its sort are merely the tip of a far bigger iceberg. As books, videos and other digitisable works go online, the same problems over copying and distribution are likely to arise. And the biggest difficulty is that, even if Napster, say, were shut down by the courts, many other, more powerful, systems are waiting to take its place that have been designed to be still harder to control." The Economist 06/22/00

  • ALAN HOVANESS dies at age 89 in Seattle. The prolific American composer "embraced melody in an atonal age and drew heavily on music of the East." New York Times 06/23/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 

Thursday June 22

  • WE'RE NOT IN STARBUCKS ANYMORE: The Starbucks store manager who recently won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs gets a call to sub for Helene Grimaud at a prestigious chamber music festival. Christopher Basso will fly in after his day job at a Manhattan Starbucks to play the recital, replacing Helene Grimaud, who canceled her appearance due to a sinus condition. Boston Globe 06/22/00

  • THE DIGITAL EXPERIENCE: Seattle's Experience Music Project opens this week. So the building was designed by Frank Gehry and it's colorfully blobby - just how do you experience the music in this "non-museum" museum? Why point and click, of course. This is a Paul Allen production after all. New York Times 06/22/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 

  • Gehry's EMP building is startling, but no one will rank it with his best work. It has been described as the architect's rendering of one of the guitars Hendrix regularly smashed in performance, but it looks more like a pile of melted metal. Boston Herald 06/22/00

  • NEVER TOO OLD TO DEBUT: Violinist Ida Haendel "is in her early seventies; her exact age is a matter of musicological confusion. As a child star in London before the Second World War, she sold out the biggest concert halls and never had need of the bijou Wigmore. In mid-life, she migrated to Canada. Now, playing as richly as ever, she is shunned by sexist orchestras that insist on female soloists (only females) being wrinkle-free. It is four years since she last played in Britain." Now she makes her Wigmore debut. The Telegraph (London) 06/22/00

  • JUST ANOTHER DAY IN TENORVILLE: The care and feeding of the Three Tenors. "Ho-hum. No tempers flare; no chairs are thrown. Evidently, there has never been an instance when one tenor has screamed at the top of his Lloyd’s-of-London lungs, "Hold on, buddy. You sang Nessun dorma’ last time. It’s my turn." Cleveland Plain Dealer 06/22/00

Wednesday June 21

  • PARIS OPERA REOPENS: France reopened its renovated Paris Opera Tuesday, after a 12-month revitalization project to restore the 1867 Charles Garnier building, which had long suffered from acid-rain and pollution damage. New York Times 06/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • THE MUSIC OF REBELLION: Twentieth Century classical music is built on the idea of the maverick - the composer rebelling against the conventions of what came before. So just what defines a maverick? Sonicnet.com 06/21/00

  • CARROT BEATS STICK: The recording industry isn't going to win the digital music wars by suing everyone in sight. The companies need to figure out how to entice consumers. "Music as a service holds an incredible opportunity for the recording industry, but the industry isn't going to grow by selling CDs, it will grow when the labels begin to think about this business as a service." Wired 06/21/00

Tuesday June 20

  • NO HOME TO OPERA: Believe it or not, Canada does not have even one theater dedicated to opera. Toronto's Canadian Opera Company - the country's largest - has been trying for years to build one. But the obstacles are fierce, and Canadian governments, which will have to help out if a house is to be built, seem to be hurting the cause, not helping it. Toronto Globe and Mail 06/20/00 

  • THE BATTLE OF BRITTEN: From about 1945 up until the 60s Benjamin Britten was lionized as the Great English Composer. But as he failed to embrace the more intellectual rigors of serialism and atonality he was demoted in critical reputation. But these many years later, Britten is more performed than any other 20th Century English composer. "Though not all of Britten's music is of the first rank, much of it is comparable in quality to the finest compositions of the giants of modernism." Commentary 06/00

  • ROYAL OPERA HOUSE DIRECTOR RESIGNS: Michael Kaiser, credited with revitalizing Covent Garden (home to both the Royal Opera and Royal Ballet), announced his resignation today after just 18 months on the job. ROH management now faces the dreaded task of trying to fill the ill-fated directorship; Kaiser was the fourth executive director in just two years. BBC 06/19/00  

Monday June 19

  • ME, MYSELF, AND I: Gerald Barry is Ireland’s leading contemporary classical composer. A festival celebrating his work runs this week in Dublin. “Now 48, he retains traces of his long-lived student aura but, whether he is smiling or serious, there is no mistaking Barry's deliberate innocence. He lives for music and for music alone. As an artist he seems to be in a hurry. Who is he writing for? "Myself." Irish Times 06/19/00 

  • LONG-LOST Gilbert and Sullivan song found in the US. BBC 06/19/00

Sunday June 18

  • THE CLASSICAL MUSIC COUNTERCULTURE: With major labels abandoning the classical music genre and alternative purchasing outlets such as the internet on the rise, a new counterculture of buyers of classical music recordings is growing. Philadelphia Inquirer 06/18/00

  • MUSICAL REINFORCEMENTS: Los Angeles is known more for its entertainment than its arts. But Mark Swed writes that the recent appointments of dynamic conductors Kent Nagano and Grant Gershon to local music organizations (added to Esa-Pekka Salonen at the LA Phil) give some hope that LA might become a destination classical music city. Los Angeles Times 06/18/00 

  • ALL THAT JAZZ: At New York's Columbus Circle a unique new music center is about to start construction. "Never before has a concert hall been conceived from the ground up for the distinctly American sound and style of jazz. During the entire century of its existence, it has been played in nightclubs, saloons and worse; it has been acoustically distorted in symphony halls designed for Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms rather than Charlie Parker and John Coltrane." Chicago Tribune 06/18/00

Friday June 16

  • THE PROOF’S IN THE PIRATING: One in five music CDs sold throughout the world last year were pirated versions, according to a new London-based study. That means more than 500 million pirated-music CDs were sold last year alone, and at least 25 million pirated files are currently available for download online. Illegal music sales outnumber legal ones in 19 countries. The Age (Melbourne) 06/16/00

  • THE AMATEUR CLIBURN COMPETITION: Inspiring as the competition was, it was also profoundly depressing. It represented a celebration of the piano and the discipline of playing the instrument; it was a celebration of music, and of the people who have to make music, no matter what. But it was also an indictment of a society that has so little place for people with musical gifts to exercise them, especially if they want to live the American Dream." Boston Globe 06/16/00

Thursday June 15

  • HELP OR HURT? Critics charge that Napster is killing the recorded music business. But the company says it actually promotes sales of recorded music. So who's right? Wired 06/14/00

  • A BUILDING ABOUT... Okay, so the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music project is a building about music (but it's not a museum). But what, exactly, is it? "When EMP opens, visitors will step inside a museum that's also a technological showcase, an educational institution, a research facility, a brick-and-mortar (or rather steel-and-plywood) companion to the Web site emplive.com, and a musical amusement park. Or is it a concert venue, a restaurant and bar, and a tourist trap?" Seattle Weekly 06/15/00

  • ALTERNATIVE SOURCES: As doom-sayers worry over the end of classical music recording, new ways of getting orchestra recordings to consumers pop up. Boston Herald 06/15/00 

Wednesday June 14

  • THE REAL HEAVY METAL: Turns out the symphony orchestras - not rock bands - are the greatest threat to keeping your hearing.  "I have measured levels in excess of 126 decibels on the right shoulder of the piccolo player at the National Ballet. Given that human conversation registers 60 decibels and a vacuum cleaner approximately 80 decibels, those sitting to the right of piccolo players are at obvious risk." Toronto Globe and Mail 06/14/00

  • CURSED CROSSOVER: The classical music world has sunk so low that it's pandering to whatever gimmicks it thinks will sell recordings. Pavarotti is bad enough, but when the Berlin Philharmonic defaces itself... The Telegraph (London) 06/14/00 

  • TAKING IT TO THE NET: Sixty-six American orchestras make a net deal. "Under the tentative agreement announced Tuesday, orchestras would make two kinds of performances available on the Internet: live and unrecordable streaming audio or prerecorded music to be downloaded. It would be up to a local committee of musicians and managers from each orchestra to decide what concerts to put online and whether to make them available as live webcasts or as online recordings that listeners can download." MSNBC (AP) 06/13/00

    • CHANGE OF BUSINESS: "For once, we're ahead of the technological curve instead of behind it, which is interesting for an 18th century art form." San Francisco Chronicle 06/14/00

  • RECONSIDERING VON KARAJAN: Herbert von Karajan made and sold more records than any other conductor in history, he changed the way people listened to music, and changed the public's expectations of a concert. But he was also a problematic figure - autocratic and politically suspect. A new biography attempts to wade through a sea of charged conceptions about the man. Boston Globe 06/14/00

  • BUSTED: Recording industry has filed briefs in court to shut down Napster. The industry will use internal Napster e-mail and memos "in which Napster executives, primarily co-principals Shawn Fanning, 19, and Sean Parker, 20, openly discuss the use of their service as a tool facilitating the exchange of copyrighted material by established recording artists, statements the RIAA says are proof that the service represents a haven for music piracy and should be closed immediately." Inside.com 06/14/00

Tuesday June 13

  • AGAINST ARCHETYPE: Why are there so few women conductors? “Why has no woman secured a major principal's post in the UK? Why have only Anne Manson and Marin Alsop achieved this with minor orchestras in America? Is the persistent, archetypal image of the controlling male power figure really too strong for managements to cast aside?” Says Alsop: “Gestures are interpreted differently - if a man is delicate, he's sensitive. If I'm delicate, I'm too girly.” London Times 06/13/00

Monday June 12

  • ORCHESTRAS.COM: Fifty American orchestras have put together a deal that will allow them to bypass traditional recording companies and bring their music streaming directly to the internet. "In the classical field we read daily about classical sections of recording companies closing down, so we have to find a way that we can distribute and keep our presence alive in the commercial world." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/12/00

  • DOWNLOADING DETENTE: Two of the five recording companies suing MP3.com for copyright violation of music downloaded over the internet have settled with the company. The labels will license their music to the site. Variety 06/12/00

  • SANITIZING ROCK? Frank Gehry's latest project opens next week - the Experience Music Project in Seattle. "Gehry—who admits he prefers Haydn to Hendrix—bought a bunch of electric guitars in Seattle, took them back to L.A., chopped them up and reassembled the pieces into architectural shapes. That didn't quite work, although the building—a lot rounder—stayed largely Stratocaster-colored. From a distance—say, a high hotel room about a mile away—the 140,000-square-foot EMP looks like a peculiar dessert: purple, red, silver, gold and baby-blue Jell-O with a garnish of green trees. Up close, it's a trademark Gehry design, a mix of metals cladding 'swoopy' shells covering a careful floor plan." Newsweek 06/12/00

Sunday June 11

  • CHAMPIONSHIP BREW: A Starbucks assistant manager wins the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs. His Prokofiev Eighth Sonata did the trick. Dallas Morning News 06/11/00
    • REFRESHING CHANGE: Big time piano competitions have gotten a bad name for turning out faceless wonders. "But this amateur competition, as opposed to the Cliburn, the quadrennial horse race for budding professionals 18 to 30 - kept tapping into an emotional immediacy and intensity too rare in today's professional music-making." Dallas Morning News 06/11/00
  • SINGING FOR GOD: Think Latin's the hot new music genre? Uh-uh, it's Christian. "Last year, Christian music outsold Latin, which was supposed to be the hot new sound for 1999, by more than 25 million album sales. Its sales are twice those of jazz, classical and New Age music combined. The Christian music industry grew by 11.5 percent, outpacing the music industry as a whole. Christian music makes up 6.5 percent of the market and is the sixth largest-selling musical genre behind R&B, alternative, pop, hip-hop and country." Detroit Free Press 06/11/00
  • SO YOU WANT TO BE A GREAT PIANIST... New PBS show examines what it takes. "All deceased, the immortals who play, speak and are discussed in the program include Claudio Arrau, Alfred Cortot, Emil Gilels, Glenn Gould, Myra Hess, Josef Hofmann, Vladimir Horowitz, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Sergei Rachmaninov, Sviatoslav Richter and Rubinstein." Chicago Tribune (AP) 06/12/00

Friday June 9

  • GROVES TO GO ONLINE: It's a natural - when the new improved edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music (the music world's reference bible) comes out next fall, it'll also be available online, complete with sound clip music examples. The Scotsman 06/09/00 

  • MOZART AMENDS: Some Boston Pops players complained that conductor Keith Lockhart planned to cut three minutes from a Mozart concerto for time considerations. "Tamper with Mozart? Horrors!"  Yesterday afternoon, though, Lockhart reportedly backed off the plan and "decided to perform the Mozart without cuts simply because at this point it is in the best artistic interest of the Boston Pops to limit the unwarranted controversy.'' Boston Herald 06/09/00

  • LICENSE TO PLAY: BMG recording label settles copyright infringement suit with MP3.com, then turns around and licenses its music to another web start-up. The legit music download era begins. Wired 06/09/00

  • BAYREUTH DELAYS: The Bayreuth Festival decides to postpone a decision on who will take over leadership of the Wagner festival after controversy dogs the process. BBC Music 06/09/00

  • KENT NAGANO named principal conductor of the Los Angeles Opera Company. Los Angeles Times 06/09/00

Thursday June 8

  • MORE THAN JUST STRANGE: Pianist Glenn Gould was renowned both for his talent and for his eccentric performance habits, which included rocking back and forth, humming loudly, and conducting to himself during concerts. Now the director of the music division at Canada’s National Library says evidence shows Gould suffered from Asperger’s syndrome, a kind of autism. “I went 'Bingo.' I'd suspected for a long time that this was more than just a weirdo.” Yahoo (Reuters) 06/07/00

  • MUSICIANS PROTEST MOZART CUTS: Musicians of the Boston Pops orchestra are angry because conductor Keith Lockhart cut chunks of Mozart's Synphonia Concertante so it would fit the timeframe of a concert. ''The mission of the Pops is not to present Urtext editions, but to present the audience with as wide a range of quality musical experiences as possible in a single concert,'' says Lockhart. Boston Globe 06/08/00

  • BEYOND BOP: Be-bop, fusion, improv, stride - what exactly is jazz?  The Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival in New York looks for answers through programs all week with an inspiring array of players. Salon 06/07/00

  • SETTLEMENT NEAR IN MP3.COM SUIT: "The proposed settlement calls for San Diego-based MP3.com to pay $75 million to $100 million to the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group representing the labels, in exchange for the right to use the labels' songs as part of the My.MP3.com service." Boston Globe 06/08/00

  • DREADING DVD: UK music retailers urged the nation’s leading record labels last month to release this fall’s new albums earlier than scheduled - out of fear that the British public is choosing to spend their leisure time and leisure pounds on DVDs and computer games instead of music. The Herald (Glasgow) 06/08/00

  • THE FAMILY BUSINESS: Neeme Jaarvi and his sons Paavo and Kristjan are founding something of a family dynasty - all three Estonian conductors are now music directors of American orchestras. The Age (AP) 06/08/00

  • BATTLING BAYREUTH: With succession in the air, the Wagner dynasty at Bayreuth is under siege - by other Wagners. The Guardian 06/08/00

  • DETROIT SYMPHONY NAMES NEW DIRECTOR: Emil Kang, 31 will be youngest executive director of a major American orchestra. Detroit Free Press 06/08/00

Wednesday June 7

  • CELLISTS UNITE: More than 600 cellists from 45 countries, including Yo-Yo Ma and Janos Starker, got together last weekend in Maryland for the third annual World Cello Congress. The multiethnic, multigenerational festival stressed one message over others: that the cello is “the mating call of the orchestra.” NPR 06/06/00 [Real Audio file]

  • NAME OF THE GAME: It's the "National" Symphony but the "Washington" Opera. Why doesn't America have a "national" opera company, since almost everywhere else does? So Congress is looking into a name change. Washington Post 06/07/00 

  • MAESTRO ON EDGE: Wolfgang Sawallisch may be on his way out as director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, but he's got a remarkable thing going in Philadelphia. "Although orchestra players traditionally complain about anyone who wields a baton, Sawallisch seems to inspire consistent affection from the orchestra, even amid observations that age has robbed his baton technique of some precision. But the mind behind the technique has gained precision." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/07/00

  • COMPOSERS URGE ANTITRUST INVESTIGATION: Composers from five Nordic countries have asked the European Commission to conduct a full antitrust investigation into a proposed $20 billion merger between Warner Music and the EMI Group. "The composers are opposed to the merger because they believe that Warner-EMI would control nearly 50% of all music publishing in Sweden and 70% in Finland." Variety 06/07/00

  • MONEY FOR THEIR MUSIC: Free downloads of indie band music has been one of the marks of the internet digital download music revolution. But now many of the indies want to get paid for their work, and there are (predictably) some websites to help them. Wired 06/07/00

Tuesday June 6

  • ON-THE-JOB TRAINING: Bobby McFerrin is a "deeply talented" artist. But can he conduct? Why not - This week he led the Baltimore Symphony in a performance of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony. "In short, McFerrin is learning to conduct on the job. With curiosity and perseverance and many years of experience, he might well develop into an interesting conductor. Right now he's granted access to major orchestras not for his musical insights but because he fills the seats." Washington Post 06/06/00

  • LINKIN’ LOGS: The latest development in the digital music wars: MP3Board.com (an online music-search site) has filed a lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America (which has been trying to shut the web site down) on the grounds that providing hyperlinks does not constitute copyright infringement. Wired 06/05/00

  • PINING FOR VINYL?: Despite doomsayers who claim programs like Napster and the rise of teen pop bands spell looming losses for the recording industry, the past few months have been the most successful the music business has seen, with three albums selling more than $1.3 million in their first week. So why aren’t the execs overjoyed? “Imagine if this summer three Hollywood movies shattered the opening week box-office record, boom, boom, boom, one after the other. The town's top executives would be bruised from so much backslapping. The music industry, though, gnashes its teeth and pines for simpler times.” Inside.com 06/05/00

  • BRAHMS AND THE PLAYMATE: Classical music recording companies may be dumping the big established stars, but they have room for Linda Brava, a Playboy Playmate and moderately talented violinist. She's being promoted by EMI Classics, no less. "Recording companies are no longer satisfied with a decent return on an investment that may take several years to realize. They want profits, they want them big, they want them now." Philadelphia Inquirer 06/06/00

Monday June 5

  • WE'LL HELP, BUT... The Australian government is alarmed at the lavishness of Opera Australia's productions. The company is $6 million in debt and the government says it will help, but only after a thorough review of the company's spending. "The review would examine the possibility of selling some of the company's buildings in Melbourne and Sydney and outsourcing production of its sets and costumes." The Age (Melbourne) 06/05/00

  • WHO WILL LEAD BAYREUTH NEXT? For the past 49 years the directorship of Germany's Bayreuth Festival (the Gound Zero of Wagner worship) has been held by the composer's grandson Wolfgang. Now, as Wolfgang's succession draws near, a jockeying for position among the Wagner clan.  New York Times 06/05/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • GREED AND THE RECORDING COMPANIES: A few weeks ago the US Federal Trade Commission announced the end of minimum pricing rules that it says artificially boosted the prices to consumers of CD's. Now the recording companies are fuming over the way the announcement was made. Seems they think the feds made them sound greedy. Hmmmm. Salon 06/05/00

  • ORCHESTRA OFFICIAL APOLOGIZES: Last week the president of the Winnipeg Symphony suggested in a newspaper interview that outgoing music director Bramwell Tovey had spent the orchestra into the ground and that it would take years to dig out. Tovey threatened to sue, and now the WSO official has apologized. CBC 06/05/00

Sunday June 4

  • JOHN ADAMS RETURNS TO LONDON: John Adams has become one of America's most popular, widely performers and accomplished composers. "Outgrowing the hypnotic drone of minimalism, he has taken on the classical tradition and annexed its august forms. It's native bravado, not arrogance, which makes Adams measure himself against Verdi or compare his own dramaturgy with Shakespeare's. The Observer 06/04/00

  • MASUR'S LEGACY TO THE NEW YORK PHIL: There's been so much talk recently about who will be the New York Philharmonic's next music director, Kurt Masur, the NYP's current leader has been a bit forgotten. That's a mistake. The 72-year-old Mr. Masur, who has done so much to restore the orchestra to a lofty international standard of performance since taking it over in 1991, is to remain in place for two more seasons. New York Times 06/04/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • A LEGEND IN THE MAKING? Einojuhani Rautavaara - not exactly a name that rolls trippingly from the tongue. But the Finnish composer is rated by some as "one of the greatest living composers" working today. The Philadelphia commissioned a new symphony and premiered it in Helsinki last week. It got a polite, but not ecstatic reception. Philadelphia Inquirer 06/04/00 

  • STRIFE HAPPENS: String quartets are volatile organisms. Both music and personalities are magnified in relationships between members. Is it a marriage? A partnership? There's no place to hide in a magnified and distorted existence. Chicago Tribune 06/04/00  

  • AMATEUR PIANISTS GATHER IN FORT WORTH: The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition is one of the top competitions in the world. But last year the Clibun launched a second competition - one for older, amateur pianists. The level proved to be very high, and the second edition of the competition is about to get underway. Dallas Morning News 06/04/00 

  • PLACIDO DOMINGO DAY: "The list of the tenor's accomplishments — as singer, conductor, opera Intendant (in Washington, D.C., and, starting this summer, in Los Angeles) and restaurateur — is unrivaled in today's opera world; and for a vocalist who, officially, turns 60 this year, his longevity is nothing less than astonishing." San Francisco Examiner 06/04/00

Friday June 2

  • OPERA IN THE ROUND: They're performing "La Traviata" this weekend in Paris - in the actual locations where Verdi set them - the Italian Embassy in Paris, the Queen’s hamlet in Versailles, the Petit Palais, near the Champs Elysees and the Isle St. Louis, an island of 17th-century town houses in the middle of the Seine. The project involves 500 musicians, five satellites, 31 cameras, 400 projectors and 10 audio and video studios, not to mention $20 million, and it will be broadcast live to a potential audience of 1.5 billion in 125 countries. Variety 06/02/00

  • CROSSING OVER: Kurt Weill is seen as a composer who lost his way in America, who sold his artistic birthright for the pottage of commercial success. But today Weill's embrace of popular music seems prophetic rather than opportunistic. When so much classical music aspires to the condition of pop, Weill - the first classical composer to reject high for low - seems a model of crossover. The Atlantic 06/00

  • PLANS TO WRECK THE MUSIC INDUSTRY AS WE KNOW IT: Some computer programmers in the UK plan an all-out assault on the music industry, trying to build on the success of Napster only making music recording exchanges untraceable. The Independent 06/02/00

  • "THIS RIDICULOUS PROGRAM WITH ONE CELLIST FOR THREE HOURS": Dutch cellist Pieter Wispelwey is filling concert halls and selling tens of thousands of CD's of his performances of solo Bach. Sydney Morning Herald 06/02/00

  • RECORD SALES IN THE LAND OF THE FREE: With all the complaining and suing going on about who controls music on the internet, you might think that sales of recordings would have dried up. Surprise - despite the wide availability of free music on the internet, sales of recorded music have smashed records in recent months. And the internet is getting the credit. Wired 06/02/00

Thursday June 1

  • BAND LEADER TITO PUENTE dies at age 77. USA Today (AP) 06/01/00

  • THE OTHER MEHTA: Zarin Mehta (Zubin’s brother), who runs Chicago's Ravinia Festival, has been named the New York Philharmonic’s new executive director, starting in September. New York Times 06/01/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

    • BUT MUTI STILL HOLDING OUT: NY Philharmonic officials returned from Milan without Riccardo Muti's name on a contract to be the Philharmonic's next music director. Chicago Tribune 06/01/00

    • MEHTA SAYS MUTI WILL COME AROUND: New NY Phil chief says Muti's salary demands aren't an issue. Philadelphia Inquirer 06/01/00

  • GRAND INJUSTICE: Now wouldn't you think that a TV special called "Piano Grand," ostensibly celebrating the 300th "birthday" of the piano would put the instrument center-stage? You'd be wrong, grasshopper. All of the pianos used on this 90-minute PBS special show up anonymously. "Right where the identifying brand should be - just above the keyboard and on the right flank of the beast itself - there is a paste-over label that reads "Piano Grand." It covers the basic tattoo every piano carries: Steinway, Baldwin, Yamaha." The camera's far more interested in the human stars - Dave Brubeck, Billy Joel, Jerry Lee Lewis. Washington Post 06/01/00

  • THE TROUBLE WITH OPERA... American composer John Adams says American opera lacks heroism and doesn’t grab audiences’ imaginations. “Modern opera's big mistake is to treat it as an extension of bourgeois post-Ibsenian drama. So many operas come out stillborn because they can't add anything to plays or movies or books that are already dramatically complete in their own terms. Most American opera is just too sincere." The Telegraph 06/01/00

  • TUNE SEARCH: In the vast Edenic garden of downloadable music, one ought to be able to navigate with ease, download in a facile manner, and always have the latest information on favorite artists - unfortunately, it's easy to get lost in the e-quagmire. Now, three new search engines promise to help you find and keep the tunes you love. Wired 05/31/00


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