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Tuesday October 31

  • THREE STRIKES AND...YOU'RE STILL NOT OUT: Organizers of a Metropolitan Opera gala had to scramble when Cecilia Bartoli pulled out because of laryngitis. Then her replacement pulled out. And then... New York Times 10/31/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • THE MUSIC TO COME: In a demonstration of the new data-transmission capabilities of Internet2, a conference in Atlanta today will "allow musicians from across the U.S. to perform together over the Web. At the Atlanta conference, Dr. Karl Sievers of the University of Oklahoma will play trumpet while the rest of his brass quintet accompanies him - via Internet2 video conferencing - from the university." Sonicnet.com 10/31/00

Monday October 30

  • A MATTER OF LABELS? "Article after article about this most vilified and most lauded pasty-faced pimply 'rapper of the year' have made the same error, referring to Eminem as a 'white rapper' too many times to list here. A crossover artist. Crossing over from what? While we should all pay attention to the vile lyrics of Eminem's work, we should also pay close attention to the equally vile way the media have focused so much on this one offensive rapper out of hundreds, constantly reminding the public of his whiteness." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 10/30/00
  • SEARCHING FOR SHOSTAKOVICH: The debate over Shostakovich’s reputation raged on at this weekend’s international Shostakovich symposium in Glasgow, commemorating the 25th anniversary of the composer’s death. A memoir supposedly dictated by the composer himself and smuggled out to the west has "purportedly revealed the composer to have been a secret dissident through Stalin's reign of terror, and to have encoded that dissidence within his music. The essence of the argument has always been this: one camp thinks it's authentic, the other believes it to be a monstrous fraud." The Herald (Glasgow) 10/30/00

Sunday October 29

  • BOW-MAKERS STRUNG OUT: Violin bow makers are screaming. Since 1800, virtually all violin bows have been made of pernambuco wood from north-east Brazil. "This wood – nothing else, it seems, will do." But there is a proposed ban on the export and use of the wood. "This ban will kill the business. Not only will people be forbidden to make new pernambuco bows: it will also be illegal to tour with them." The Independent 10/29/00
  • BARENBOIM'S DILEMMA: The furor over Daniel Barenboim's role as director of Berlin's Staatsoper continues. "Should he abandon what increasingly looks to be a no-win situation and leave Berlin, concentrate on his responsibilities in Chicago (where he has been music director since 1991) and devote more time to playing the piano and guest conducting? Or should he stay on at the Staatsoper, possibly in a reduced role - music director without administrative duties - he said earlier he would accept if the authorities agree to give his orchestra players more money?" Chicago Tribune 10/29/00
  • WORDS OVER MUSIC? Many see the adoption of supertitles in opera as the biggest advance in the artform in a hundred years. Audiences, for the most part love them. "Yet a powerful faction continues to deplore the phenomenon. Notable among the revanchistes are the distinguished critic Rodney Milnes and ENO director David Pountney, who argue that surtitles distract attention from the moment-by-moment reality of the stage and simplify or distort the text, as well as negating any emphasis or colour that a singer is attaching to an individual word or phrase." The Telegraph (London) 10/29/00
  • POWER BROKER: "His name is Costa Pilavachi, and he is president of the Decca Music Group in London. At 49, he happens to be just about the most powerful person in the classical-music business - the man who produces not only Bartoli's albums but those of Luciano Pavarotti, Renée Fleming, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Andrea Bocelli and Jessye Norman." Toronto Star 10/29/00
  • RE-EVALUATING LEONARD BERNSTEIN (AGAIN): It's been ten years "since chain-smoking, emphysema and pleural tumors ended that neck-and-neck race between Bernstein and "the odds," he's still - in a strange way - on the scene, though without his provocative politics, podium gyrations, capes and cigarette holders. So can we finally get to the truth behind the best-documented musician in Western Civilization?" Philadelphia Inquirer 10/29/00
  • OFF ON ITS OWN: There are a few hotbeds of contemporary music where both the musicians and the audiences are engaged in the music. But why are they separated off from the mainstream? Ghettoizing new music does no favor to the music establishment. Traditional programs could benefit from the energy of the new. New York Times 10/29/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • HOLDOVER FROM THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION: Inexplicably, "model operas" dating from the time of the cultural revolution have become popular again in China. "The term 'model opera' is a loose one, referring to two sets of "model" musical and theatrical works that include ballet, symphony and a reformed version of Beijing opera. As highly visible relics of an era that is officially condemned — a 10-year period of chaos in which much of China's traditional culture was destroyed and countless artists and intellectuals were humiliated, tortured, jailed and killed — model operas are understandably controversial. New York Times 10/29/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • WAGNER IN ISRAEL: Wagner was finally performed for the first time at an orchestra concert in Israel Friday night. As the concert was about to begin, an 80-year-old Polish-born man whose family perished in the Holocaust "stood up in the audience, swinging a noisy rattle in protest." The Globe and Mail 10/28/00

Friday October 27

  • SLATKIN ON COPLAND: Leonard Slatkin explains why Aaron Copland is such a big deal in America. "When we think of the composers who have made their impact on the world scene, only a few names from America come to mind: Charles Ives, George Gershwin, Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein and at the top of the list, Copland." The Guardian (London) 10/27/00
  • HARD-LIVING VIOLINIST: "Death is a recurring theme in a Ivry Gitlis interview because, well, other people just keep bringing up the subject. 'Maestro rages against dying of the light' screamed one review headline after Gitlis made his Australian debut at the 1998 Huntington Festival. Across the globe, music writers never tire of surmising whether the astonishing performance they've just witnessed might very well be the violinist's last." Sydney Morning Herald 10/27/00

Thursday October 28

  • WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE WRONG MAN (MEN) WINS? This past weekend conductors converged on London for a conducting competition. The winner seemed obvious to the audience and at least one critic. "But after a backstage debate of some 40 minutes", the "five-strong team of conductors, composers and assorted musicians split the prize between two other finalists." The jury chairman described the result as “interesting”. "Batty would be nearer the mark." The Times (London) 10/26/00
  • CHICAGO IN BALANCE: For the 14th season in 15 years, the Chicago Symphony has balanced its budget, posting a modest surplus on a $55 million annual budget. "Attendance at CSO concerts was up 2.3 percent overall, from 257,336 to 263,376. Ticket revenue rose to $15.6 million from $14.7 million." Chicago Sun-Times 10/26/00
  • THE BEETHOVEN MYSTERY: People are fascinated to speculate that Beethoven may have died of lead poisoning. But why? Does it make any difference to how we listen to his music? "Indeed, such is our culture's fascination with the great composers that we cannot resist putting them on the psychiatrist's couch. Not content with enjoying, respecting and honoring their music for its intrinsic artistic value, we poke and prod their brains and bodies in the hope we might fathom that ultimately unfathomable mystery, the source of their creative genius." Chicago Tribune 10/26/00
  • CHOPIN COMPETITION WINNER: It's piano competition season. The Chopin International Competition in Warsaw decided to award a prize this year (the last two competitions ended without a winner). "This year’s 23-member jury awarded the first prize to 18-year-old Yundi Li from China, who also shared the prize for the best performance of a polonaise with another Chinese player, Sa Chen, who was placed fourth." Irish Times 10/26/00

Wednesday October 25

  • CARNEGIE CHAOS: Five of Carnegie Hall’s top executives have resigned or been dismissed in the past six weeks, and tensions are running so high the board of trustees has hired an outside consultant to talk with the staff privately. Many of the disgruntled cite the autocratic management style of new executive director Franz Xaver Ohnesorg, whose soon-to-be-unveiled five-year plan may instill more ire. New York Times 10/25/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • MUSIC FOR ITS OWN SAKE: "Music has rarely been truly pure in the sense of expressing nothing but itself. Almost always, it has been defined by other components as well: texts, places, purposes and all sorts of other circumstantial conditions." Now some composers revisit the idea of absolute music. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 10/25/00

Tuesday October 24

  • NEXT TIME FOR THE POWER OF MUSIC: Pinchas Zukerman recently tried to take his National Arts Center Orchestra to Israel and Palestine. But the fighting canceled much of the tour. "Music seemed impotent in the face of such events, but Pinchas Zukerman is convinced that in other circumstances it can play a vital role in bringing about the sorts of reconciliation the region desperate needs." The Independent (London) 10/22/00
  • ST. PAUL'S NEW DIRECTOR: The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has named Andreas Delfs, 41, as its new music director. Delf is also the music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and will retain that post. New York Times 10/24/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Monday October 23

  • BATTLING FOR POSITION: Daniel Barenboim began his 10-year contract as head of the Berlin Staatsoper in 1992 with great expectations of leading it back to the ranks of international fame. "But last month, city officials said he would not renew his contract because he no longer wants to continue with the administrative aspects of the job, and just wants to be the musical director instead." Now entreaties to him to stay. New Jersey Online (AP) 10/23/00
  • THEY ALL LAUGHED... Raymond Gubbay, the "impresario who has spent the past 30 years putting on opera for the people - opera with red roses for Valentine lovers, opera for kiddies with teddy bears, singalonganopera for those who like to join in" has applied for the top job running the Royal Opera House. The newspapers laughed. The mere notion of a businessman, a barrow boy, running the Opera House! "It would be like asking the Grim Reaper to run an old people's home," said one music critic. But when I question the experts closely they are more reluctant to dismiss Gubbay. His business skills speak for themselves, he loves opera, he understands the workings of the Opera House, and actually when it comes down to it there isn't an obvious candidate." The Guardian (London) 10/23/00
  • "RIGOLETTO AS REIMAGINED BY LARRY FLYNT": Chicago Lyric Opera's new production transfers the action "to a dark Victorian gaming room, a males-only citadel of stuffed armchairs and stuffed shirts. The inhabitants are even randier and slimier than the Duke of Mantua, the opera's tenoral anti-hero. Almost all the women who are allowed into this bad ol' boys club are whores, playthings or sexual hysterics. Poor Gilda, Rigoletto's virtuous daughter, is doomed the moment she steps into this crypto-orgy pit." Chicago Tribune 10/23/00
  • DOES ANYBODY CARE? The most-recent winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition plays a recital in London. "To be fair, the Leeds International Piano Competition has a more creditable record than most. But how many of you can remember the name, let alone the sound, of the last two winners? And how long will Alessio Bax be a name to conjure with? Judging by the number of empty seats at his London concert last week, not many of us really care a great deal anyway." The Times (London) 10/23/00

Sunday October 22

  • FUROR OVER SLUR AGAINST BARENBOIM: Daniel Barenboim has been feuding with the Berlin government over funds for the Staatsoper, which he runs, and over plans to merge the opera company with the less prestigious Deutsche Oper, run by the rising 41-year-old star of German music, Christian Thielemann. "Enter Klaus Landowsky, a leading Berlin politician from the Christian Democratic party, to sum up the situation in these terms to the Berliner Morgenpost: 'On the one hand, you have the young von Karajan in Thielemann, on the other you have the Jew Barenboim'." The New York Times 10/21/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • VIRGIL THE GREAT: How many organists do you hear about, let alone someone who has been dead 20 years? Virgil Fox was the Great Popularizer of the organ. "Unlike the 'purists' who detested the lush liberties he sometimes took with Bach, Fox was not above forsaking pipes and using an electronic organ to get the music across. He dragged Black Beauty, a booming, blaring Rodgers electronic instrument, along with a light show and smoke and mirrors, to rock-concert halls, hoping to get young 70's listeners to trip out on the music of Bach." The New York Times 10/22/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • HOUSE OF MUSIC: Vienna opens a museum dedicated to music. "Much to the surprise of locals, this newest addition to Vienna's cultural scene has artfully blended the city's classical past with musical experimentation of the future. A five-story, interactive musical adventure where you can do everything from conducting the Vienna Philharmonic to participating in an avant-garde 'Brain Opera,' the House of Music combines the classics with the future of music in a techno-modern setting." Chicago Tribune 10/22/00
  • CAUTIOUS OVER BENEFACTOR: Toronto's Canadian Opera Company recently announced that an anonymous benefactor would give the company $20 million toward building a new home. But the champagne is still corked. The company has been down this road before, only to have the money yanked away at the last minute... Toronto Star 10/22/00
  • WAGNERIAN TRAGEDY: Ugly, off-pitch, misguided and uninspired. That's the new "Tristan" at Covent Garden. What should have been one of the crowning glories of the present Royal Opera House regime is instead its lowpoint. The boos are lusty. Sunday Times (London) 10/22/00
  • MOZRT AS HE RELLY WAS: New translation of Mozart's letters restores the coarse grammer and broken spellings. "Some modern analysts have suggested that his verbal incontinence may have been a symptom of Tourette's syndrome, but Mozart lived in an earthy, unbuttoned age and he shared what Spaethling politely calls his "bathroom" humor not only with his naughty cousin, but also with his parents and sister. In their letters they are always encouraging each other to 's--- in your bed with all your might'." Chicago Sun-Times (Times) 10/22/00

Friday October 20

  • NEW SPOLETO DIRECTOR: French conductor Emmanuel Villaume, age 36, has been named the new music director of the Spoleto Festival USA. CNN 10/19/00
  • IN SICKNESS OR IN HEALTH... Collecting recordings is becoming a dicey proposition. Mergers of recording companies, endangerment of long-favored labels, and the growth of downloadable music on the internet is a threat to the collector. Just why do people collect recordings? Can they adapt to the new world of music recording? The Guardian (London) 10/20/00
  • STILL PLAYING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS: It's been a few years since the movie of David Helfgott propelled the pianist to international stardom. Despite the lambasting of music critics, Helfgott is still a popular draw, and his concerts continue to sell well. "He’s the only pianist to have sold out the Sydney Opera House four nights running. People want to see Helfgott rock back and forth at the piano and sing along as his fingers fly over the keys. They want to see him because of who he is and what he’s overcome." The Scotsman 10/20/00
  • RECONSIDERING AARON: On the 100th anniversary of Aaron Copland's birth, the man and his music are being reconsidered. "Copland’s avuncular image as a doyen of American music is avowed by the voluminous testimony of all who knew him as to his generosity, kindly nature and wry sense of humour. However, this image implies a certain blandness which characterised neither his life nor his music." The Economist 10/20/00

Thursday October 19

  • A LITTLE SHOW OF AFFECTION NEVER HURTS: The Pittsburgh Symphony is alarmed that its music director Mariss Jansons has been mentioned often as a possible candidate to run the New York Philharmonic. So the orchestra has contacted orchestra supporters and asked them to write to Jansons and ask him to remain. "We believe the Pittsburgh community has to show Mariss its affection to balance the only reason he'd go to New York, which is prestige. Artistically, New York is no better than the PSO." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/19/00
  • THE ART OF SELF PRESERVATION: "These days, one of the tasks with which orchestras find themselves saddled is the nearly impossible one of educating audiences. Schools aren't doing it, and neither are most parents. Orchestra musicians themselves may resent the kind of musical spoon-feeding they are called on to do by the organization for which they work. But even many of them realize that it's a question of self-preservation; for better or worse, you don't have to wait for Aunt Buffy to will you her orchestra subscription to get a seat at the Academy of Music." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/19/00
  • THE NAKED STRING QUARTET: The women of the classical string quartet Bond (billing itself as the Spice Girls of classical music) were prevented by their recording company from using a picture of themselves posed naked on the cover of their latest album. BBC 10/19/00

Wednesday October 18

  • WHEN FLATTERY GETS YOU NOWHERE: A regularly outspoken critic of the Royal Opera House’s former management, Raymond Gubbay has applied to run the institution after Michael Kaiser’s departure. In his application Gubbay called the Opera House "the preserve of the rich, the influential and those concerned with corporate entertainment." London Times 10/18/00
    • I CAN FIX THIS: Gubbay "calls for a higher status for the Executive Director which would put him or her above the Music Director and the Artistic Director of the Royal Ballet. He also wants more performances, longer production runs and cheaper seats." London Evening Standard 10/18/00
  • RACHMANINOFF IN PASADENA: A major new international piano competition is planned for Southern California. The competition, scheduled for March, 2002, invites pianists ages 18 to 32 to compete for cash prizes, as well as the chance to perform with the Moscow Radio Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra and the State Capella Choir of St. Petersburg. The competition is expected to cost $3 million. Los Angeles Times 10/18/00
  • FAMILY FUGUE: JS Bach had 20 children, and it's natural to ask how he managed to find time to fit composing in amongst his parenting duties? "For him, children were not an unwelcome distraction from other responsibilities. On the contrary, his role as a parent was a central part of his life and was intimately entwined in his aesthetic outlook. Indeed, understanding Bach's attitude towards parenting can in turn help us understand his musical attitudes in general." The Idler 10/18/00
  • BACH - A RADICAL MOVE? There's been a sense of rising panic in Melbourne in the countdown to the 15th Melbourne Festival. The artistic director's decision to turn much of the festival's program to the music of J.S.Bach, played by many of the world's leading exponents, is an "idiosyncratic, if not radical move." The Age (Melbourne) 10/18/00

Tuesday October 17

  • WHAT PHILOSOPHY SOUNDS LIKE (NOT SO PRETTY): "If Milton Babbitt and John Cage are to be believed, it is almost beside the point to talk about whether their music sounds good or sounds bad. For both composers would admit that their music does not 'sound good' in the ordinary sense: instead, they would challenge that notion, and replace it with highly philosophical views that are meant to undermine our ordinary aesthetic judgments." Boston Review 10/00 

  • BEETHOVEN'S DEATH: How did Beethoven die so young (he was 56)? Why did he go deaf? New analysis of hair trimmed from his head moments after his death may reveal the reasons...or so claims a newly published book released this week.  Discovery 10/16/00

  • PATERNITY LEAVE: Bass-baritone Bryn Terfel has upset opera fans at Covent Garden, Salzburg and Munich opera houses by canceling his next four months of performances to be with his wife for the birth of their third child, due in January. BBC Music 10/16/00

  • THE OPERA CALENDAR: With opera attendance across America up more than 42 percent since 1982, the opera world is in pretty good shape. Here's a roundup of opera highlights for this season from around the country. Sonicnet 10/16/00   

Monday October 16

  • OPERATIC DILEMMA: "If other artforms are in a constant scramble to reinvent themselves, opera gives the singular impression of a maiden aunt cast upon a desert island, clutching her trousseau of frocks circa 1910 and a pile of 78s of 'Great Voices of the Century' ready to play 'Desert Island Discs'. It is a source of some anxiety to opera companies, not just locally, but around the world, that their audiences are getting older." The Age (Melbourne) 10/16/00

  • FIGHTING BACK: The all-female string quartet Bond has been banned from the classical music record charts in Britain for sounding too much like pop music. "There's a classical supervisory committee and they felt it more of a pop record than a classical record." BBC 10/16/00

Sunday October 15

  • ET TU, SHOSTAKOVICH? In London, an attempt to discredit Shostakovich. "The essence of the attack is that Shostakovich is unfit to stand comparison with Beethoven, and that placing them side by side merely emphasises Shostakovich's shortcomings. But the campaign runs deeper than that, for what is being claimed is that few of Shostakovich's works are worth performing at all, and that recent attempts to find coded anti-Stalinist messages in them - thereby making them seem emotionally ambiguous and thus more 'interesting' - are simply a waste of time." The Herald (Glasgow) 10/15/00
  • IF IT AIN'T GOT THAT SWING... "On behalf of the classical music world, I'd like to say sorry to anyone who plays, listens to or cares about jazz. For the past 20 years you have been subjected to attitudes from this high-brow side of the fence that range from the patronising to the exploitative to something akin to a hostile take-over." The Telegraph (London) 10/14/00
  • THE HIGH COST OF BEING GOOD: The St. Louis Symphony has achieved a great measure of artistic success. But its bank balance seems to slip a bit further with each season. "Over the last 17 or 18 years, the orchestra has accumulated a potentially crippling deficit of $7 million. (Its annual budget is now $26 million for the orchestra itself with an additional $3 million for its music school.)" New York Times 10/15/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 
  • AMERICA'S BEST CONCERT HALL? What's the best concert hall in America in which to listen to music? That's easy - Boston's Symphony Hall. Cleveland Plain Dealer 10/15/00 
  • ART OF BUILDING: "During the past decade, new American performing arts facilities have been popping up like mushrooms after a rain, but architecturally they've been a pusillanimous lot. When not actively nostalgic, as in Fort Worth's Bass Performance Hall, they've tended to favor a kind of buttoned-down corporate look, as in Seattle's Benaroya Hall, or shopping-mall lite, as in Fort Lauderdale's Broward Center and West Palm Beach's Kravis Center." Dallas Morning News 10/15/00
  • LIFE WITHOUT BOULEZ? Where would our musical cultural have been without Pierre Boulez? "Important works by a vast number of other composers — Elliott Carter, Gyorgy Ligeti, Harrison Birtwistle — would never have been commissioned or recorded. And there would have been no one to keep contemporary music in the public eye, especially in the public eye represented by the television camera." New York Times 10/15/00 (one-time registration required for entry) 
  • RAGE AGAINST THE DUMBING DOWN: For years, British composer Harrison Birtwistle lived as a recluse on a remote French hillside. Now, at 66, he's moved back to Britain, with some strong ideas about English culture. "I believe we have in this country the best musicians in the world, but we don't have the best orchestras because we don't give them the money to rehearse. It's spread too thin. So second-rate becomes good enough, and we don't know the difference any more." The Telegraph (London) 10/14/00
  • BOYS CLUB: Women divas dominate the Australian pop charts. But the power in pop music is still male. "For a business that sells itself as hip, liberal and progressive, key aspects of the music industry remain as much of a boys' club as they were when Elvis Presley moseyed into Memphis and signed up with Sun Records. It begs the question: if 50 per cent of all record producers since Rock Around The Clock had been women, how different might the catalogue of western pop sound? Would we have landed elsewhere musically in 2000?" Sydney Morning Herald 10/14/00

Friday October 13

  • "KINDA LIKE BEETHOVEN'S NINTH"? Putting a chorus, a children's choir and a full complement of orchestra and soloists at his disposal, the Salzburg Festival expected very big things of its commission from Philip Glass. The result is Glass's Fifth Symphony, and many are saying it's his best work yet. Los Angeles Times 10/13/00
  • More opinions on the new "Dead Man Walking" opera premiere at San Francisco Opera last weekend:

    • "The music is rich and emotionally charged, betraying varied influences from Mussorgsky to Britten and Ravel, and carries enormous atmospheric power." The Guardian (London) 10/10/00
    • "A triumph beyond what even its most optimistic boosters could have predicted. San Francisco Chronicle 10/10/00
    • "For a first opera Heggie has done much right. His bitter-sweet music puts him in the line of happy-to-please American opera composers such as Menotti and Barber, which will not delight hardline critics, but he knows how to tell a story, how to hold the audience's interest and rouse its emotions." Financial Times 10/10/00
    • "This retelling is really a shrewd, highly marketable product: a love story with unlikely protagonists. It was composer Jake Heggie's music and playwright Terrence McNally's libretto, however, that accounted for its uproarious success with the opening-night audience." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 10/10/00

Thursday October 12

  • MAJOR SUPPORT: The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation has awarded $250,000 to a young Singaporean violinist to further her career. The award is the first of the bank's Youth Excellence Initiatives. "To aspirants, she will show that there will be support if you have the talent.'' Singapore Straits-Times 10/12/00
  • CURTAIN COMING DOWN: Despite recent artistic success, the Scottish Opera will have to pare back the second half of its season because of ongoing financial difficulties. "The winter shutdown is a repeat of last year when the company was forced to stop productions due to a crippling financial crisis." The Scotsman 10/12/00
  • BOLSHOI TO BEGIN RENOVATIONS: For ten years the Bolshoi Theatre has been waiting for crucial renovations to begin, and they've been repeatedly postponed. Now the construction finally has a start date. CBC 10/11/00
  • UNEXPECTED HELP: After seeing its plans for a new home languish for lack of funding, the Canadian Opera Company gets a private investor who has promised $20 million to help the build a new opera house in Toronto. CBC 10/11/00

Wednesday October 11

  • LONDON'S CONCERT HALL BLUES: An "important announcement" at London's South Bank today proposes to offer an acoustic fix for the concert hall there. But the promises have dragged on for years, and critic Norman Lebrecht doesn't expect much. "To the left, Tate Modern heaves. To the right, the Millennium Wheel attracts day-long queues. In the middle, the nation's foremost concert hall moulders." The Telegraph (London) 10/11/00
  • WOMEN’S WORK: Women are still a rare site behind the conductor’s podium, and Italian conductor Elisabetta Maschio is acutely aware of the prejudice. "A woman conductor is still a new idea in my country as well as in all of Europe. Every time I stand on the podium, I can feel people giving me a curious look behind my back." Korea Times 10/09/00
  • DIGITAL MUSIC COPYING HERE TO STAY: In September, 1.4 billion songs were downloaded on the internet using Napster. Yet the recording companies still haven't figured out that the genie is out of the bottle for good. To try to cut down advance downloads, some of the major labels have been restricting music critics' access to advance copies (but the music slips ouit anyway). The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 10/11/00

Tuesday October 10

  • HOW TO SELL A NEW OPERA: "The puzzle of how to produce a new opera that will not tank at the box office, and that may even last as long as a Volvo (to borrow a phrase from Leonard Cohen), has become a minor fixation of opera companies all over North America, including the San Francisco Opera, which on Saturday raised the curtain on an adaptation of 'Dead Man Walking'. In many ways, the opera is a textbook example of current received wisdom on how to introduce new work into the deeply conservative opera world." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 10/10/00

  • IN SEARCH OF THE BIG BREAK: The Big Break - it's what performers live for. It's what makes their careers. But what about those very talented musicians whose Big Break never comes? What are the forces that conspire to be that Big Break? Philadelphia Inquirer 10/10/00 

  • THE LINES BETWEEN JAZZ AND CLASSICAL... Pianist Uri Caine is rewriting Bach (Mahler and Schumann too) and has some ideas about connecting jazz and classical music. "The success of a project like this depends on Caine demonstrating to the classical players that improvisation is not desecration; and convincing the jazz players that Bach's discipline still allows them room to manoeuvre. 'If the musicians are open to it, it works'." The Independent (London) 10/08/00

  • SIMON RATTLE'S JAZZ ROOTS: Simon Rattle has made a pretty good career for himself as a conductor. But it wasn't his first love. " I grew up wanting to be a jazz drummer. My dad was a little depressed when I crossed over to what he saw as the other side." The Independent 10/08/00

  • KING OF INSTRUMENTS: The organ has fallen greatly out of favor in recent years. But several prominent new instruments are in the works in Britain. Can the organ find new audiences as a concert instrument? The Telegraph (London) 10/10/00

Monday October 9

Sunday October 8

  • I WRITE THE CHECKS... Alberto Vilar has become the Daddy Warbucks of the music world. In the past few seasons he has given some $150 million for projects he likes. "Mr. Vilar has not been shy about demanding displays of gratitude commensurate with such gifts. At the Met, for example, an operagoer may now sit in the Vilar Grand Tier or dine at the pricey Vilar Grand Tier Restaurant. As a result, he has become an easy target for critical barbs, particularly in Europe." New York Times 10/08/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

  • THE MUSIC WORLD'S EXCLUSIVE CLUB: The Los Angeles Philharmonic just chose 12 new players to fill orchestra vacancies. More than 1000 musicians auditioned, chosen from the thousands more who applied. The decision process of finding players for the modern elite orchestra is an arduous murky road. Los Angeles Times 10/08/00 

  • HOW WELSH IS WELSH? A Los Angeles judge has thrown out a lawsuit brought against a Welsh choir. The plaintiff contended that the choir wasn't Welsh enough and that by calling itself Welsh it was "engaging in deceptive practices. BBC 10/08/00 

Friday October 6

  • SENTENCED TO PERFORM TOGETHER: The Audubon String Quartet has played together for 26 years. But a dispute among the members that started last February got out of hand and when three of the players tried to fire the fourth, he went to court and got a restraining order. Now the quartet plays under court order to remain together. "The judge can't make them like one another, or speak to each other. For now, though, he can sentence them to make creative harmony, until further notice." The Guardian (London) 10/06/00
  • LONDON CALLING: Low-cost videoconferencing brought together live collaborative performances between British and South African musicians in "a fusion of communications technology and live performance. An array of British and South African sponsors combined forces to present Call and Response, an interactive concert linking musicians and audiences in Benoni and Birmingham, United Kingdom." Daily Mail and Guardian (South Africa) 10/06/00
  • BAD TIME TO TOUR: Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra, led by Pinchas Zukerman is on a tour of Israel and Jordan. But an erruption of fighting on the West Bank has forced the orchestra to cancel concerts. CBC 10/06/00

Thursday October 5

  • BACK IN BUSINESS: In February baritone Bryn Terfel felt a stab in his back in the middle of a performance and limped off the Metropolitan Opera stage. After back surgery and five months to recover, he's back. "It was the worst thing that's ever happened to me in my very short time on this planet." CNN.com 10/04/00
  • PROGRAMMATIC ERROR: The Boston Symphony has hurriedly withdrawn this season's covers of its program books after discovering that part of the cover image "presents an indistinct image that creates a visual double-entendre of a distinctly anatomical nature." Boston Globe 10/05/00

Wednesday October 4

  • HANDICAPPING THE MUSIC DIRECTOR SWEEPSTAKES: The "Court of Musical Euphemisms and Factual Economies" is now in session. Sorting out the twists and turns of choosing music directors for America's major orchestras is a mysterious game. "For reasons I have never fathomed, US coverage of serious music seldom delves below the veneer of stability and tends to reiterate every last euphemism and half-truth without so much as a cocked eyebrow. Such complacency nurtures a system rich in abuses and absurdities." The Telegraph (London) 10/04/00
  • IT’S ABOUT QUALITY AND QUANTITY: Antonio Pappano on his plans as the new music director at the Royal Opera House: "Conduct as many masterpieces as possible and there is a chance that their quality will rub off on you." If that maxim holds true, he will be in dazzling shape in four years' time, for by then he intends to have conducted the Royal Opera in Ariadne, Wozzeck, Falstaff, Butterfly, Lohengrin, Pagliacci, Salome, Aida, Tannhauser, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Faust and Peter Grimes. It's an astonishing list. If a No 11 bus happens to stray on to the Covent Garden stage, you feel that Pappano will conduct that too." London Times 10/04/00
  • WARSAW PIANO COMPETITION OPENS: The Chopin Competition, one of the world's major international piano competitions, is set to begin. The competition has launched the careers of pianists such as Maurizio Pollini and Krystian Zimerman and standards are so rigorous that no winners were declared in the last two competitions (in 1990 and 1995). "This year's competition has already proved tough. Only 98 pianists qualified, based on videotapes of their performances, compared with 140 in 1995." Ottawa Citizen (AP) 10/04/00
  • DOHNANYI SEPARATES SHOULDER, STILL CONDUCTS: Cleveland Orchestra conductor Christoph von Dohnanyi slipped on a stair Sunday night and dislocated his right shoulder. But though he was noticeably in pain, the accident didn't stop him from conducting the orchestra's opening night in Carnegie Hall. It is Carnegie Hall, after all. Cleveland Plain Dealer 10/04/00
  • OPERA’S OTHER HALF: Glyndebourne’s touring opera, founded in 1968, has not only helped dispel the more famous summer festival’s reputation as an elitist playground; it has also launched some notable talents - Pavarotti, Roberto Alagna, and Simon Rattle’s conducting debut. "This is the other side of Glyndebourne. This is a world of low ticket prices, orchestras in improvised pits (or no pit at all), box offices that have to juggle selling opera seats with marketing their own Christmas pantomimes, and distraught divas." The Independent (London) 10/02/00

Tuesday October 3

  • THE NY PHIL SWEEPSTAKES: The name-the-next-New-York-Philharmonic-music-director game continues. Peter G. Davis takes a look at the contenders. "I wouldn't count out anything in this latest crazy round of musical chairs. When I left Barenboim's hotel suite, who should be ushered in, with a hungry look in his eye, but Zarin Mehta?" New York Magazine 10/02/00
  • FIGHTING THREATENS CONCERTS: Pinchas Zukerman and Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra are in the Middle East on the orchestra's "most extensive tour ever" But bloody clashes in the West Bank have cast a pall over the tour. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 10/03/00
  • CLASSICAL EROSION: Following a trend around America, Washington DC public radio classical music station WETA pares down its broadcasts of classical music. Is it true that "public radio listeners have demanded more news; that folks driving home at night want news and not music, certainly not classical music; and that classical music listeners aren't the best pledge donors?" Washington Post 10/03/00
  • SCHIFF DOES BACH: "What could well be the Bachfest to end all Bachfests is about to begin on London's South Bank, where, within the space of a month, Andras Schiff will be programming, playing, directing and conducting the solo works, concertos, suites, cantatas, and Passion-music of a composer with whom he has lived all his life." The Times (London) 10/03/00

Monday October 2

  • RESOURCEFULNESS MAKES THE OPERA: The Welsh National Opera has almost no money. So the company has found other ways to dress up its productions and make them a critical success. The Guardian (London) 10/02/00
  • NEW TAKE ON YEHUDI: Yehudi Menuhin had a turbulent life, the result, claims a new biography, of a tortured childhood as a child prodigy. "Yehudi was barred from all games to preserve his hands. He was not allowed a bicycle, and did not cross the road unaccompanied until he was 18. He had only one day at school, and was tutored at home along with his brilliant younger sisters, Hephzibah and Yaltah. It could not have been a more abnormal childhood." The Scotsman 10/02/00

Sunday October 1

  • HOW SYDNEY GOT HER OPERA HOUSE: "Some think of the Opera House as a superb example of Goethe's frozen music; others imagine a beached white whale, a galleon sailing off to Elfland, nine ears cocked to hear some heavenly aria, nine nuns playing football. 'A bunch of toenails clipped from a large albino dog', the Sydney journalist Ron Saw once wrote." London Review of Books 10/05/00
  • NEW PHILADELPHIA MUSIC DIRECTOR? There are signs that the Philadelphia Orchestra's long search for a new music director might soon be over. Recent contenders? "Many members of the orchestra would love James Levine to be named. Occasional guest conductor Christoph Eschenbach is now on the lips of informed pundits. There's the possibility that Vladimir Ashkenazy, who will guest conduct later this season, could be a dark horse. Likewise for Neeme Järvi. Then there are names discussed in months past, but not lately: Christian Thielemann and Riccardo Chailly." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/01/00
  • SAN JOSE SYMPHONY'S GORDIAN KNOT: The San Jose Symphony recently gave its musicians a 7 percent pay increase. But the orchestras has a growing deficit, and the budget is on a collision course with reality. "The 121-year-old ensemble can't afford the increases - but can't afford not to give them." San Jose Mercury News 10/01/00
  • DOMINGO'S PLAY FOR THE BIG TIME: Admittedly, there have been skeptics of Placido Domingo's ability to take Los Angeles Opera into the big time. "History has not been kind to superstar performers recast in management roles, in opera and in other fields as well. But Domingo’s first major moves here since taking office, as noted in not one but two press conferences a couple of weeks ago, have been particularly shrewd in addressing some of the most-discussed company weaknesses. LA Weekly 09/29/00
  • "DEAD MAN" SINGING: San Francisco Opera premieres Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's new opera "Dead Man Walking" this week. The opera's topicality figures to be controversial - it's not some classic tale from the distant past safely removed. Los Angeles Times 10/01/00
  • DISSECTING 'GATSBY': John Harbison's "Great Gatsby" opened to mixed notices last season at its premiere. In years past that might have been the end of the opera - second productions are few and far between in the modern opera world. But Chicago Lyric Opera is producing a new "Gatsby" and Harbison has done some substantial rethinking. Chicago Sun-Times 10/01/00
  • NEW DAY FOR OPERA: "The very fact that America's two largest opera companies, the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera, are trading productions of untested works by American composers, signifies that the move toward multiple productions has turned into a promising trend. It also suggests that opera directors and audiences are taking new American works a lot more seriously than they once did." Chicago Tribune 10/01/00


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