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  • TENOR OF THE WORLD: "Ben Heppner, a Canadian gentle giant of 44, is that rare bird - and, rarer still, he can not only sing the notes, but sing them with musical sensitivity and intelligence too, as well as making a fair stab at acting them out on stage." The Telegraph (London) 11/30/00

Wednesday November 29

  • THE SEEDIEST CONCERT HALL ON EARTH? Is London's Royal Festival Hall - celebrating its 50th birthday next May - the "seediest concert hall on earth?" The place is grimey, it smells, musicians are demoralized, and subscriptions are down. Why no plan to fix it? The Telegraph (London) 11/29/00
  • PARIS OPERA SLOWDOWN: Strikes by Paris Opera technicians have caused the company to pare back its offerings. The workers want better working conditions and more money. "Paris’ two opera houses, which are subsidized by the state, together put on 380 performances a year, compared to just 80 in the mid-1990s, and most are sold out." MSNBC (AP) 11/28/00
  • DON'T AGREE TO FREE: British songwriters launch a campaign to convince people that free music on the internet is harmful to the business. The Age (Melbourne) (AFP) 11/29/00
  • MUSIC THAT SHOCKS: Some might be scandalized by the music and behavior of some of today's musicians. But "rock musicians of today take note: There's little you've done that wasn't already taken care by your predecessors in early-17th-century Italy." The Globe & Mail 11/29/00
  • OPERA IS EXPENSIVE, NOT WASTEFUL: Scottish Opera's financial crisis has got a bad name, say the company's proponents. "There's this myth of profligacy. We don't waste money in opera. It is expensive because there are so many people involved. The money is spent on a lot of very creative personnel." Glasgow Herald 11/29/00
  • THE UNRETIRING ROSTROPOVICH: Since he left the directorship of the National Symphony five years ago, Rostropovich hasn't slowed down. He still gives 100 performances a year, he teaches, and the foundation he started with his wife has provided about $5 million in medicine, food and equipment to children's hospitals and clinics in Russia." Los Angeles Times 11/29/00
  • MADONNA'S WEB MILLIONS: Madonna's concert in a London venue Tuesday night that attracted 2,800 fans, found an audience of nine million for the internet webcast. Ottawa Citizen (AP) 11/29/00

Tuesday November 28

  • WHY WE STILL CELEBRATE BACH: "More than any other composer, Bach revealed within this language the immense power of the small detail, the significance each motif could have within the tonal language: he can make his contemporaries seem insipid. Nevertheless, in addition to the grand and even startlingly original effects of his imagination conceived throughout his life, he was able to demonstrate the latent expressive force that resided in pure craftsmanship, in a simple technical competence that amounted to genius." New York Review of Books 12/21/00
  • PARIS OPERA STRIKE: Technicians' strikes at Paris' two major opera houses threaten to disrupt the season. "At the heart of the dispute is a 1998 law reducing France's workweek to 35 hours. The measure is particularly hard to apply in the performing arts because of the variables of rehearsals and performances. The New York Times 11/28/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • EARLY MUSIC: "In 1912, Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of the phonograph, funded a massive talent search throughout Europe, with the hope of finding some outstanding artists to record for his own Edison Record Company. More than 300 singers agreed to make two-minute cylinders to give Edison some idea of their voices." Public Arts 11/27/00

Monday November 27

  • THE MYTH OF FIRST PERFORMANCE: There's always been an aura about "The Premiere" of a new piece of music, a sense that, most often with the composer present or involved in some way, that a first performance provides some special window into a work. In reality though, "far from receiving an absolute truth, those present at these revelations were more often given half-glimpses of unpolished works in their infancy. That is, when they could hear the music at all." The New Republic 11/27/00
  • CHAPLIN THE COMPOSER: When Charlie Chaplin won an Oscar for his movie "Limelight," it wasn’t for his acting but for composing the film’s original score - a talent few of his fans are aware of. "Perhaps because he was so multifaceted - a comic actor of extraordinary imagination, an untiring, perfectionist director, the co-founder of United Artists - it seems unfair that Chaplin had one more talent. But, though it is largely overlooked today, the creator of the ‘Little Tramp’ was an accomplished musician who wrote soundtracks for nearly all of his films." The Guardian (London) 11/27/00
  • RECORD SALES STILL STRONG: Despite the continuing hubbub surrounding Napster’s success, the numbers continue to bear out the same fact: Napster is not hurting record sales. And Christmas CD sales look to be stronger than ever. "Even the cheapest of holiday shoppers isn't likely to download swapped songs onto a burnt CD and then wrap it up as a gift." Salon 11/27/00
  • SEEING RED: The Australian Chamber Orchestra, one of Australia's top arts organizations, "looks set to end the year $900,000 in the red, due largely to a costs blow-out linked to its protracted merger negotiations with Musica Viva." The Australian 11/27/00
  • OF ACOUSTICS AND ARCHITECTS: Toronto's main concert hall Roy Thompson Hall, has been criticized since it opened 20 years ago for its bad acoustics. Now there's a plan to overhaul the acoustic design. But Arthur Erickson, the hall's architect, strenuously objects to the changes, which he says will subvert his design. CBC 11/27/00

Sunday November 26

  • HOPING FOR A REPEAT: John Corigliano's First Symphony, composed ten years ago, and written in commemoration of those with AIDS, has become the most-performed symphony written in the second half of the 20th Century. More than 125 orchestras have performed it. Now Corigliano writes a second symphony. Boston Globe 11/26/00
  • TOO CLOSE TO HOME: It's another month-and-a-half before Ken Burns' new 19-hour documentary on jazz is scheduled to be broadcast. But already the critics are lining up to take shots. Burns says he's not fazed: "I'm prepared for the criticism, I care about it...but I didn't make this film for the jazzerati." Chicago Tribune 11/26/00

Friday November 24

  • AND WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU BE USING THE NAME FOR? Sydney Opera House manages to wrest its domain name (www.sydneyoperahouse.com) away from a cybersquatter. The Age (Melbourne) 11/24/00
  • BETTER THAN SEX: The music revolution is here. “ 'MP3' — the most commonly used format for downloading music from the Internet — has now overtaken 'sex' as the most frequently searched term online." The Times (London) 11/24/00
  • SUBJECTS THAT MATTER: Filmmaker Ken Burns' ten-part jazz series is to be aired beginning in January. But he's already hearing from critics. "When ''The Civil War' aired, several months passed before a few historians published objections to the series; with 'Baseball,' it took several weeks before some sportswriters weighed in with objections over what they thought were grievous omissions. Two years before I finished `Jazz,' I was getting letters from jazz critics telling me where I went wrong." Boston Globe (Baltimore Sun) 11/24/00
  • WAGNER ON ITS OWN TIME: It's a staple of aesthetics that great art should have no dispensable parts, no padding or extra material. Wagner's operas are filled with lots of dispensable bits that, paradoxically, can't be dispensed with. One paces oneself during Wagner, expecting events and reactions at a fundamentally different rate. And this pacing produces part of the hypnotic effect: anticipation and relief are extended, heightening the effect of both." Washington Post 11/24/00
  • BOCELLI GAINING ON THE CRITICS: "Andrea Bocelli's fans have snapped up the new recording despite mixed reviews in the press. Some writers think the recording is an abomination, even in principle; others, including this listener, have heard sophisticated musical impulses and genuine feeling in his singing. Internet opera chat groups have turned nasty, with some lambasting Bocelli as a pop singer who has no business defiling the temples of operatic art. The fact is, however, that Bocelli became a pop singer wholly by accident, and all his life he has wanted to sing opera." Boston Globe 11/24/00
  • HIP-HOPPING ALONG: "Born three decades ago on the streets of the Bronx, condemned by the establishment for its encouragement of violence and misogyny, hip-hop has survived to become a major component of American and world culture and a billion-dollar industry." Chicago Tribune 11/24/00
  • RESIDING IN THE MUSIC: The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra has benefitted from a string of stellar composers-in-residence. The latest is 33-year-old Julian Anderson. "I happen to be the kind of composer who gets a lot of compositional energy from the idea of knowing who is playing. It allows me to be even more musically adventurous. I don't just want to arrive with my notes and give out the parts." The Guardian (London) 11/24/00

Thursday November 23

  • FUNDING IN DOUBT: The head of the Scottish Arts Council says he's not sure the ailing Scottish National Opera will get a big increase in funding the opera says it needs. "It's too much of a chunk to one company". Glasgow Herald 11/23/00

Wednesday November 22

  • AN IMPOSSIBLE JOB: Why would anyone want the job of running London's Royal Opera House? The place has run through five directors in as many years. The board is feisty and meddlesome, and the public isn't so well disposed towards the company. "What that leaves for the ROH chief executive is little more than shuffling schedules and making sure the floors are swept. Most people who want to run an opera house do so with a view to having some influence on what happens on stage - inserting a fancied singer here, a favourite ballet there." The Telegraph (London) 11/22/00
  • THE WORLD ACCORDING TO KREMER: Gidon Kremer was such a hot young virtuoso that Herbert von Karajan called him the greatest violinist in the world. But to Kremer, playing the fiddle has always been about a lot more than great musicianship. Music is a political act. The Guardian (London) 11/22/00
  • SCOTLAND'S OPERA PROBLEMS: The Scottish Opera is a financial mess. The company maintains that its level of funding from the government is seriously inadequate. The Scottish arts council wants to control the opera company's spending and have a say in its artistic decision. Glasgow Herald 11/22/00
  • THE POWER OF YESTERDAY: The Beatles' "Yesterday" has been named by Rolling Stone and MTV as the most popular song since 1963. "The song, which lasts precisely two minutes and four seconds, has been played on the radio seven million times. It is the most broadcast song of the modern era, and has been covered by at least 2,500 other performers with the same sincerity you displayed when you sang it in the shower this morning." The Globe & Mail 11/22/00
  • CHURCH TRUCE: In the middle of the second day of the court case brought against her by her former manager, singer Charlotte Church settles the breach-of-contract case. The settlement is believed to be around £2 million. BBC 11/22/00

Tuesday November 21

  • LAMENTING A BRILLIANT PARTNERSHIP: Arthur Sullivan was made famous and very rich by his collaboration with William Gilbert. And the musical plays they wrote are still performed 100 years after Sullivan's death (the anniversary of which is this week). So why did he die believing he had wasted his life and cursing his partner? The Times (London) 11/21/00
  • WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO SAVE A THEATRE? Boston's historic Opera House is crumbling, "and while the designated developer and neighbors argue over loading docks, the roof on the 73-year-old Washington Street landmark will not survive another winter. Why is it so hard to save a theater in this town?" Boston Globe 11/21/00
  • SO MUCH FOR THE NAPSTER THREAT: This year four recordings have sold 1 million copies in their first week of release. In the previous history of the music inductry, only two albums ever generated those kinds of initial sales. "Why the sudden increase of records achieving what not long ago was considered an impossible dream? Part of the answer is the overall growth of the music business, which soared from sales of $7.5 billion in the U.S. in 1990 to $14.5 billion last year, according to the Recording Industry Assn. of America. But mostly it's marketing." Los Angeles Times 11/21/00
  • THE BEHAVE-AS-YOU-WANT CROWD: "Classical concerts are a free-for-all these days, with no human behavior apparently too shabby for public display. Last week at the Academy of Vocal Arts, a trio behind me reviewed the singers in real time. Part of this orchestras have brought on themselves. In an effort to drum up business, they have stressed informality and accessibility. The come-as-you-are message of the 1990s has been interpreted beyond its intended sartorial directive. It has come to mean behave-as-you-want." Philadelphia Inquirer 11/21/00
  • DREAM A LITTLE DREAM: It's singer Charlotte Church versus her ex-manager in court, as the manager sues to get a percentage of all her earnings through 2002. BBC 11/21/00

Monday November 20

  • BEATLEMANIA: "Nearly 40 years after the original John, Paul, George and Ringo began their popularity is such that there are now some 2,000 Beatle tribute bands – lookalikes, soundalikes or just plain wannabelikes – all touting for gigs." The Independent (London) 11/20/00
  • SPANO'S ORCHESTRA LAB: Robert Spano recently took on directorship of the Atlanta Symphony - a full-time establishment orchestra. When he wants to experiment, be unconventional he goes back to his lab - the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Atlanta Journal-Constitution 11/20/00

Sunday November 19

  • DIFFICULT GENRE TO CROSS: Classical musicians are probably the most-trained of any musician. But that still doesn't mean they can make the switch to jazz. Big-time classical musicians talk about why making the crossover is risky business. Chicago Sun-Times 11/19/00
  • BRAND-NAME MAESTRO: "No conductor since Karajan has achieved brand-name recognition on record - with one exception. Nikolaus Harnoncourt is a Habsburg by blood, a descendant of Holy Roman emperors, who used to earn his crust as a back-row cellist in Vienna's second orchestra until he decided that he knew better than most maestros how classical music should sound." The Telegraph (London) 11/19/00
  • THE KENT NAGANO CASE: In Europe Kent Nagano is a rising star, the "unassuming hero" of the Salzburg Festival and director of the Hallé Orchestra. So why, when America's major orchestras seem to be having difficulty finding music directors, do they not consider the 49-year-old American? New York Times 11/19/00 (one-time registration required for access)
  • OPERA WITHOUT SINGING? John Moran's "operas" stretch the form. Not just for the odd subject matter, or that the pieces are performed by theatre- rather than opera companies. In Moran's operas, the performers don't sing. "What they lip-sync is mostly speech, from which Mr. Moran teases melody by repeating phrases and fragments until the shapes of their inflections are as familiar as what is being said." New York Times 11/19/00 (one-time registration required for access)

Friday November 17

  • BUSY LIFE: Composer/conductor/educator/horn player Gunther Schuller is turning 75 and writing a memoir of his life. But he's only at his 19th year and already he's written 250 pages. "I spent about four pages just describing what was available on the radio in the way of classical music. I am self-taught in everything except the French horn, and the radio is one of the ways how I learned so much music. I had to do some research because I had forgotten how much there really was, and I was flabbergasted; it helps explain things about me and others like me. There was no excuse for anybody's being culturally illiterate, as most Americans are today." Boston Globe 11/17/00
  • JAMES LEVINE, OPERA CONDUCTOR: James Levine is in his 30th year at the Metropolitan Opera. "The man is simply wedded to the job. He even speaks the way he conducts, in long, flawlessly constructed paragraphs. He pays attention to verbal detail, too, rather as he might with some orchestral point in rehearsal, pausing to find just the right word or phrase to express what he wants to communicate. And then there is also, unmistakably, a certain personal reserve, a distancing that is sometimes a feature of his performances, a sense of his own importance that is conveyed by a reluctance to talk in depth about anything except conducting." The Guardian (London) 11/17/00
  • ...UNDER MY SKIN: Pop music and politicians just do not mix. "Perhaps that's the way it should be. Pop groups are meant to offend the establishment, not cosy up to it." The Independent (London) 11/17/00
  • DEATH IN VENICE: "Venice was once one of the great European musical capitals, a city whose leaders recognised the power of cultural prestige and took care to attract and encourage composers of the calibre of Monteverdi and Vivaldi. It became a centre whose excellence in performance at its churches and the famous foundling hospitals which trained musicians made it a site of pilgrimage. The effect of decades of mass tourism in recent years has been to diminish the quality and range of concerts." The Independent (London) 11/17/00
  • TRUMPING PAVAROTTI: Last Saturday night Donald Trump flew some friends to Atlantic City to hear Pavarotti at the Taj Mahal hotel. But Pavarotti was not in good voice and the show was not very good. "So outraged was Trump that, after the show, he made his way backstage and demanded that the singer refund him at least half his money." Pavarotti refused but apologized and offered to do another show soon. National Post 11/17/00

Thursday November 16

  • PHILADELPHIA AT 100: The Philadelphia Orchestra turns 100. "Only the orchestras of Berlin, Vienna, Cleveland and Chicago can claim to be competing on as high a level. And yet, the orchestra continues to operate in the same state of institutional uncertainty that has plagued it for the last six or seven years." Philadelphia Inquirer 11/16/00
    • SAWALISCH'S NEW INTENSITY: Wolfgang Sawallisch is on his way out the Philadelphia's music director. But as he's turned 77 the critics are noting a new intensity in his performances. While Sawallisch notes the change, he's at a loss to explain it. Philadelphia Inquirer 11/16/00
  • RETHINKING BOCELLI: Has a singer ever been trashed so thoroughly by the critics as Andrea Bocelli has? Yet his first recording of a complete opera ("La Boheme") has some critics rethinking their assessments. "Judged as a recording experience, Bocelli's Rodolfo, which he has performed onstage in Sardinia, offers a great deal. His pop-crossover background may be responsible for his unusual attention to words; try his wistful query about Mimi in the Act IV duet with Marcello, "L'hai visto?" (have you seen her?). This Rodolfo simply sounds young, a bit light in the head and endowed with the soul of a poet." San Francisco Examiner 11/16/00

Wednesday November 15

  • JUDGMENT AND A DEAL: "MP3.com announced a distribution agreement with the Universal Music Group on Tuesday, shortly after a federal court awarded the world's largest record company $53.4 million in attorney fees and statutory damages stemming from one of the Web site's streaming audio services." Sonicnet 11/15/00
  • OLD TRADITIONS DIE: The Vienna Philharmonic is changing, despite itself. "There are now three Australians in the orchestra. There are also two Americans, a Canadian, and both harpists are French. Over the next four years, seven viola-players are due to retire and it is a safe bet that most of the newcomers will be foreign and probably female. The pressure for change has come primarily from guest conductors who, accustomed to industrial-strength precision playing in American orchestras, have complained about Viennese frailties - notably the trombones and tuba - without recognising that those wavery underpinnings were part of what audiences identified as the Vienna Philharmonic sound." The Telegraph (London) 11/15/00
  • OPERA ON THE SILVER SCREEN: "The idea of capturing opera on film, surprisingly, goes back to the beginning of cinema. Thomas Edison told the New York Times in 1893 that his intention was 'to have such a happy combination of photography and electricity that a man can sit in his own parlor, see depicted upon a curtain the forms of the players in opera upon a distant stage and hear the voices of the singers'." Los Angeles Times 11/15/00

Tuesday November 14

  • PROBING THE PHILADELPHIA SOUND: What is it about the Philadelphia Orchestra that makes (made?) that distinctive sound? New York Times 11/14/00 (one-time registrationrequired for entry)
  • BUILDING A HOUSE OF JAZZ: The Lincoln Center jazz program is establishing a place for itself among New York's cultural institutions. But what about those who say that institutionaizing jazz is to kill it? Wynton Marsalis: Those who sy that are "closet oppressors armed with a 'fake mythology'—the kind of people who not only don’t play it, but don’t even like it. It’s like telling somebody who’s in a two-room house, ‘You’ve done OK in a two-room house—why y’all want to build a five-room house?’” Metropolis 11/00

Monday November 13

  • HARD MUSIC: Elliott Carter was 90 when he wrote his first opera. Some consider Carter America's greatest living composer. Others "a mandarin aesthetic whose target audience can only be the academic analyst armed with graph paper and a calculator." An the opera? "It boasts his perennial avoidance - as if on principle - of any hint of beauty, expressive content or sensual delight. It remains as resolutely standoffish toward the listener's merely human sensibilities as a lump of granite." San Francisco Chronicle 11/13/00
  • THE JUKEBOX OF ALL JUKEBOXES: Recent developments in the digital music industry (like Napster’s partnering with Bertelsmann and announcements of enhanced security systems) spell disaster for some proponents of freely accessible downloadable music. But maybe "what's really at stake is not whether music will be expensively secure or freely exchangeable - but simply how soon the recording industry will assemble the music delivery system that is inevitable, the ‘celestial jukebox.’ In layman terms, a networked device that will allow you to download any song your heart desires, anytime." Salon 11/13/00

Sunday November 12

  • THE BEAUTY PAGEANT CONTINUES: Continuing the recent public auditions for the next music director of the New York Philharmonic, Christophe Eschenbach stepped in for the ailing Kurt Masur this week. How'd he do? New York Times 11/11/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • BUY AMERICAN? Leonard Bernstein was a trailblazer. And yet, "since Bernstein's passing in 1990, at 72, none of the Big Five American orchestras has appointed an American music director. Of the other leading U.S. orchestras, only the San Francisco Symphony, which is thriving under Michael Tilson Thomas, and the Atlanta Symphony, which recently named Robert Spano as its music director, have dared to engage native sons." Chicago Tribune 11/12/00
  • THE ESSENTIAL COPLAND: Aaron Copland would have turned 100 years old this week. "Ten years after Copland's death, and 29 after Stravinsky's, the latter seems secure as one of the seminal figures of 20th-century music. Copland's position is more provincial, his reach only barely extending beyond the Americas. But Copland made it respectable to be a composer of art music in America." Dallas Morning News 11/12/00
    • UNDERSTANDING COPLAND: "All in all, there were roughly five Coplands, some of them overlapping. He was a Stravinskian modernist of the 1920s, a folk-inspired populist from the 1930s through the '50s, an even more modernistic 1960s serialist, a Hollywood film composer who won an Oscar for 1949's The Heiress, and, in the most encompassing characteristic of all, a musical dramatist. In all guises, Copland is, more than ever, a fixture in the American musical landscape." Philadelphia Inquirer 11/12/00
  • TROUBLE AT CARNEGIE HALL: The staff tumult at Carnie Hall since its new director took over become nastier. "Maybe the Carnegie staff has not done its job and is being told so in no uncertain terms. Yet having observed the people who seem to be fleeing pell-mell from the building, I find that notion hard to believe. Another possibility is that Americans take more kindly to persuasion than to command and obedience. Resistance to strongly expressed authority is in our nature; in fact, it is why we happened as a country." New York Times 11/12/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • PULLING MUSIC APART: Thousands of musicologists converge on Toronto to dissect the elements of music. "The paradox is that Western thinking about music has provided the field's lingua franca at the very moment that Western art music is considered least central." New York Times 11/11/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Friday November 10

  • A COUPLE OF BIG JOBS: Britain's top two opera company jobs are currently up for grabs. The post of executive director at the Royal Opera House is giving headhunters fits since it's such an impossible job. Meanwhile, the top job at smooth-as-silk Glyndebourne came open this week. The Guardian (London) 11/10/00
  • NEW ORCHESTRAS IN SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa's tradional arts organizations have been in turnoil since the government has cut back funding. Last July the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra went out of business. Now not one, not two, but three new orchestras are set to come into being. "Interested parties are convinced that Cape Town cannot support two orchestras, let alone a third. The tragedy-farce started after the CTPO management decided to liquidate the orchestra in an attempt to avoid the financial implications of paying a retrenchment package to its 80 musicians." Dail Mail & Guardian (South Africa) 11/09/00
  • IN THIS CORNER...THE BATTLING TOSCA: The rock 'em sock 'em World Wrestling Federation has become one of the major sponsors of the Connecticut Grand Opera & Orchestra's Education Program. "It would seem like there are a lot of differences, but there are facets of both that are the same. They perform on a stage, we perform on a stage. They have a story line with good and evil, greed and jealousy, just like we do. The only difference is they solve things through singing, we solve things using various household objects such as tables, chairs or ladders." Hartford Courant 11/10/00
  • FORE! A new opera about golf by a Scottish composer bows in Berkley. " 'Giocatore' (The Player) tells the tale of a young Italian golfer, Giovanni, living in Scotland, who needs to raise money to visit his dying father back in Italy. He and the owner of the Scottish manor take on two American golfers in a wagered game." Sonicnet 11/10/00

Thursday November 9

  • A ROYAL MESS: London's Covent Garden is in total disarray and not getting better any time soon. How'd it get in this mess? " 'It is brutally run by some deeply insensitive people, but to say there is a Mafia at work here is to credit them with too much organisation,' said one well-known tenor." The Scotsman 11/09/00
  • THE PROBLEM WITH KISSEN: Pianist Evgenny Kissen was a star when he burst onto the concert scene 10 years ago at the age of 19 and dazzled the music world. He's still wildly popular with audiences "But if Kissin is more popular than ever, music critics at several important newspapers have fallen out of love with him. These critics report that Kissin is playing worse, instead of better, as he gets older." Public Arts 11/09/00
  • RECORD COLLECTION: "A collection of more than 40,000 recordings of Italian music - LPs, 45s and 78s - has been donated by a Toronto family to the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the museum announced Wednesday. It took Frank Carenza and his wife, Rose, more than 50 years to collect the recordings that hold the history of Italian music during most of the 20th century." Ottawa Citizen (CP) 11/09/00

Wednesday November 8

  • BE-BOP FOR BOYS: While women have made notable inroads in the jazz world as singers and instrumentalists, they are still noticeably missing behind the bandstand - a fact not lost on detractors of the plans for Jazz at Lincoln Center, the lavish new home of Wynton Marsalis’s Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra. Their response to Marsalis’ claim that he runs a meritocracy and is waiting to find more female talent? "The argument that women will eventually be good enough is very old. There have been women good enough to be included for at least 60 years." Village Voice 11/14/00
  • DISTANCE LEARNING: "In the past, masterclasses were held behind closed doors, which meant that embarrassments were mercifully limited to a small audience, composed mostly of peers. These days, however, things are different. Pinchas Zukerman's three most recent masterclasses, held in cooperation with Canada's National Arts Centre Orchestra, were webcast free to the public in an interactive distance-learning effort. With Zukerman on one continent, his students on another, and the audience potentially everywhere, the experiment became something more consequential than an open conservatory lesson. Something slightly scarier, as well." New Republic 11/05/00
  • WHAT YOU CAN LEARN FROM CONDUCTORS: "Can you learn to manage a business by conducting an orchestra? A conductor's leadership and the musicians' interactions produce an immediate result for all to see. Business results are more difficult to interpret because it takes more time to judge the outcome of initiatives. Still, all knowledge workers face the same pressures to succeed. Helping musicians overcome their doubts and fears and adapt to new ideas is one of the principal tasks of their manager - their conductor." The Globe and Mail 11/07/00

Tuesday November 7

  • DECOMPOSING: The original musical notes JS Bach wrote on manuscript paper are fading away. "Experts say the iron- or copper-based ink and cloth paper he used contained or produced sulfuric acid over the years. As a result, Bach's very notes are disappearing in a slow-burn chemical reaction - literally eating themselves right off the page." High tech conservation efforts are underway. CNN.com 11/07/00
  • HOW TO MAKE MUSIC BORING: Almost 4,000 musicologists from around the world gathered in Toronto in the largest musicological gathering in history to present about a thousand academic papers. "Classical music is failing an awful lot of people. Boring concerts and lack of classical music programs in the schools are partly to blame. But so is boring musicology. Granted, I only heard a handful of papers over the weekend. But almost all of them - whether on pop or classical music - were jargon-laden, intellectually trivial, poorly written and atrociously delivered." National Post (Canada) 11/07/00

  • AN OPERA HOUSE OUT OF TOUCH: London's Royal Opera House has become increasingly more foreboding to everyday people, not less. "It has become increasingly impossible to defend £20 million of public money subsidising this exclusive club year after year, not to mention the £78 million lottery grant for the rebuilding." So maybe a little populist flair is in order... The Times (London) 11/07/00

    • SHORTLIST: The leading candidates to be the Royal Opera House's next director... The Times (London) 11/07/00
  • PUCCINI WITH INDIAN CHARACTERISTICS: Britain's Royal Opera House has decided to develop its first Bollywood opera. A new, experimental production of Turandot, which is planned for April next year, will adopt all the conventions of the idiosyncratic Bollywood film-making style. The opera will mix Puccini's music with tunes from the Bollywood hit parade, as well as devotional Punjabi music. The Times of India 11/07/00
  • WHY HAS VAN GOGH'S STORY NEVER BEEN MADE INTO AN OPERA? "I'm not one of those people who considers opera the catch-all cure for everything, but I've been backstage at enough of them to know that van Gogh, even on his worst days, would have fit right in. His temperament seems to be the soul of opera. Besides his reputed volatility, there's his ability to find soaring emotional resonance in things others consider mundane. Had van Gogh lived long enough, he'd have found opera." Philadelphia Inquirer 11/07/00
  • BOHEME FOR THE MASSES: Andrea Bocelli has been flirting with singing opera for a few years, and he's been slammed by the critics for it. Today his new recording of "La Boheme" is released and it's not as bad as some feared. Why care? "Since this one will probably outsell them all, and bring the largest audience to ''La Boheme'' since the famous debut of 'Live From the Met' on television, we should be grateful that it is as good as it is." Boston Globe 11/07/00
  • BETTER LIVING THROUGH MUSIC: There's a growing body of science that shows sound has a very pronounced effect on the body. The big challenge is finding the right mix of sounds and music that works for you. Music created specifically for relaxation is often lumped together derisively by detractors as New Age or metaphysical music. But the reality is that the types of recordings that fall under this banner are incredibly diverse, though they are almost exclusively instrumental (if you don't count the chanting). Globe and Mail (Toronto) 11/07/00
  • NEW STICK IN TOWN: Leonard Slatkin made his debut as chief conductor of the BBC Orchestra. "It's no accident that the worst remark any critic has made over Slatkin's appointment to the BBCSO is that he is 'a safe pair of hands'. As Slatkin talks about the business of conducting, the words that come up are, well, business-like. He is even – unusually– eager to be involved in the marketing of the orchestra." The Independent (London) 11/07/00
  • WHERE THE GRLS ARE: Female stars of the music world gather at a "Rockrgrl" conference to talk about women's place in music. Many in the music industry still have a ``pretty good for a girl'' mentality. ``They don't say it that way anymore, it's not that blatant, but it's still there.'' Boston Herald 11/07/00

Monday November 6

  • BARENBOIM VS. BERLIN: Daniel Barenboim's dispute with the Berlin government over funding of Barenboim's Staatsoper has gotten out of hand. "Like the fracture lines of a smashed mirror, its ramifications have darted in every direction, raising sensitive questions about the way the arts are funded in Germany, about how much culture a reunified Berlin can afford, about the authenticity of German reunification and even about whether Barenboim, an Argentinian-born Jew, is the victim of an anti-semitic plot. At heart, though, it is a simple issue of conservation." The Guardian (London) 11/06/00
  • BACH TO THE DRAWING BOARD: Melbourne just wrapped up a blow-out festival devoted to the music of JS Bach. "But did this 17-day program of events constitute a festival? Sadly, not really. A festival summons up images of a city caught under the spell of the performing arts: when shows are the talk of the town, where there is color and movement on the streets day and night, and there is such a flood of international artists that you might end up in a table-top tango with an Argentinian performance artist at five in the morning. Maybe that happens in Rio, or Adelaide, but not Melbourne." The Age (Melbourne) 11/06/00

    • SO WHAT'S THE POINT? "What is the charter of the multi-artform Melbourne Festival? To offer choice and take the odd gamble? Or to project the ideas and tastes of the artistic director charged with pulling the event together?" Sydney Morning Herald 11/06/00

Sunday November 5

  • HOW RECORDING CHANGED MUSIC: The ability to record music did more than just make performances available after the fact. "A century of recording has changed the way we listen to music and the way music is performed – as well as what we listen to – to an extent we are only just beginning to grasp." The Independent 11/03/00
  • THE FIRST GREAT AMERICAN COMPOSER: "Copland was the first, the only and probably the last American classical composer upon whose greatness and importance everyone could agree. His 100th birthday is Nov. 14, and the celebration has taken on something of an iconic status. If we fall into the temptation to look back at the 20th century as the American century, Copland, born as it began, becomes a ready symbol for a nation coming of age." Los Angeles Times 11/05/00
  • GLYNDEBOURNE CHIEF QUITS: Nicholas Snowman resigned this week as general director of the Glyndebourne opera festival. "The abrupt departure of Mr. Snowman, 57, took Glyndebourne's board by surprise and left it with no one in the top job. "Yes, we were surprised. He said he'd been here for two years and achieved what he wanted to do." New York Times 11/04/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • OVERSIZED 'AIDA": "In an evening of not quite high culture and a few moments of low comedy, a cast of 2,200 performed the tale of doomed love between an Egyptian general and an Ethiopian slave girl as the centerpiece of this year's China Shanghai International Festival of the Arts. And while the sound was remarkably good for such a huge venue, the theatrics stole the show." New York Times 11/05/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • AMERICAN COMPOSERS NAMES NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR: "Steven Sloane, a 42-year-old American conductor, has been named music director designate of the American Composers Orchestra, the only orchestra today dedicated entirely to the creation, performance and preservation of music by American composers. Sloane will succeed Dennis Russell Davies, the principal conductor and music director who founded the orchestra in 1977 with the composer Francis Thorne." New York Times 11/04/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • WHEN POP ISN'T SO POPULAR: There is a real crisis in the British pop music industry, with "sales in decline and British acts now barely troubling the American charts." Not such a surprise, writes one critic. The industry did it to itself over many years. The Telegraph (London) 11/04/00
  • FILLING IN THE SILENCE: Conductor/musicologist Gillian Anderson has "restored the original music for 25 films - she calls them 'early' films, pointing out that they 'were never silent' but were regularly played with live piano, organ or orchestral accompaniments. She has conducted this music during showings in Europe and North and South America - notably at the Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery of Art in Washington." Washington Post 11/05/00

Friday November 3

  • FREE TO BE ME? Is the free dissemination of music on the Web ultimately helpful or harmful to the economics of new music? Four prominent composers - Richard Danielpour, Amy Knoles, Jeff Harrington, Amy Scurria - and intellectual properties attorney Mark A. Fischer discuss the future for serious music. NewMusicBox.com 11/02/00
  • IS CLASSICAL MUSIC IN TROUBLE? Composer John Corigliano worries. "There's so much to take its place now. With Internet and 500 TV channels; I can see that those things [we view today as] essential can be left behind. It's easy to avoid it and still have a full life without it. And it's changing hourly. I don't know if it's a good thing. [But] there will always be people who love what we do." Sonicnet.com 11/02/00
  • A PRODUCTION TO MAKE ELEPHANTS LOOK SMALL: Shanghai is planning the largest production of "Aida" ever mounted. With 2,250 performers, herds of elephants, camels, lions, tigers, a panther, a boa constrictor and 1,650 People's Liberation Army soldiers dressed as Egyptian legionnaires all presented in an 80,000-seat stadium, the scale is enormous. But there's only one performance scheduled, and it's been raining fiercely all week... New York Times 11/03/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

Thursday November 2

  • MUSICIANS PROTEST BERLIN: Forty of the world's most prominent musicians published an open letter in several Berlin newspapers protesting the Berlin government's proposal to merge the operations of the Staatsoper in east Berlin, which dates back more than 250 years, with those of the modern Deutsche Oper. "The signatories included the tenor Placido Domingo and the conductors Zubin Mehta, Pierre Boulez and Bernard Haitink. 'As artists who know the Staatsoper, we appeal to you not to destroy the traditions that have been developed'." The Guardian (London) 11/02/00
  • A NY PHIL AUDITION: Pittsburghers love Pittsburgh Symphony music director Mariss Jansons so much they've been on a letter-writing campaign to try to convince him to stay, after his name popped up as a candidate to be the New York Philharmonic's next music director. This week Jansons conducted the New York Phil, and everyone was there to check him out. New York Times 11/02/00 (one-time registration required for entry)
  • DO THE MATH: "Music, you would think, is manufactured in the Old Economy, and the distributed free of charge as common property by the New. Yet in that case, is the New Economy an economy at all any longer? Who would go on providing music if buyers want to purchase at one price only, namely that of zero, getting it for free? The Net's great promise – that every ware should preferably be shareware – does it not overlook that this 'everything' has to be produced before it can be distributed?" Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 11/01/00
  • OPERA HOUSE SAYS NO TO POPULIST: London's Royal Opera House has turned down impressario Raymond Gubbay's application to run the company after Michael Kaiser resigned in July. Gubbay, a flamboyant and highly successful producer of opera, has been one of the ROH's most persistent critics. "The application included plans to limit the number of seats given to 'friends', which account for 80% of tickets before they reach the box office, and to reduce prices and increase the number of shows." The Guardian (London) 11/02/00

Wednesday November 1

  • THE MORE THE MERRIER: Now that the dust has settled, a detailed explanation of how protesters in Berlin managed to save the city’s three opera houses from the government’s proposed consolidation. "Berlin had been a vital stronghold in the war between low-culture politicians and high-brow institutions. To have lost Berlin would have meant that no city in Europe could consider itself entitled to more than one opera house." The Telegraph (London) 11/01/00
  • MONEY AND REALITY: A $9 million mega-production of "Madam Butterfly" in Australia scheduled for next season has been canceled. Poor ticket sales and the falling value of the Australian dollar is to blame. "One makes allowances for things like a falling dollar - but you don't allow it to go down to 52¢," Coad said. "We're bitterly disappointed that we've now had to unravel it but the acute financial situation means this is the only sensible decision to be made." Sydney Morning Herald 11/01/00
  • ACOUSTIC MAKEOVER: People generally like the way Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall looks. But acoustically... it has frustrated musicians for years. Now, "Toronto's "premier concert hall - which cost $39 million to build in 1982 - will undergo a sweeping $18 million makeover to be completed in time for its 20th anniversary celebrations in the fall of 2002." Toronto Star 11/01/00


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