main: September 2010 Archives
What follows is a sorry little story about a successful classical artist who dumps his agent.
Not altogether uncommon, except that it takes place in the holier-than-how world of organ playing and the agent who gets dumped is the torch bearer for one of America's most famous organ legends, Virgil Fox.
The artist who does the dumping is almost equally famous in organ circles. His name is Cameron Carpenter and he's a star-spangled hero who is as likely to be found on a pop stage as in a cathedral. Take a look at his website - http://www.cameroncarpenter.com/index.html -and at the pic below.
Photo by Marine Penvern
I think that it might be a bit pretentious for me to paraphrase HRM
Queen Elizabeth when she described her previous year as an "annus
horribilis," but the summer has been pretty much of a "carpe aestatem
horribilis" for me, Marshall Yaeger, and the Virgil Fox Legacy.
It began, on the Friday before Memorial Day, with a fall I had on
Central Park West after leaving my doctor's office. I went right back
to the doctor, and discovered that I had fractured my left shoulder.
Fortunately, it did not require surgery, but it did require
painkillers, which I don't take well to. I still kept all of my
appointments and responsibilities for Cameron Carpenter during the next
months, but by the end of July something was seriously wrong with our
Eventually, he advised us that we would no longer be his manager
(actually, I was actively trying to find him a new, strong classical
management; it's time), and he also advised us that he would not play
the Boston 30th Anniversary Virgil Fox Legacy memorial concert on
Saturday, October 9. We considered other fine artists, but none have
the predictable following that he does - especially from advance
publicity, which is hard to get (and he usually gets it). Also, he did
not communicate with us for several weeks, during which time he pulled
his publicist out of the project - even though she had been sent a
We decided (demoralized as we were, I must add) that we should not
pursue the concert for fear we actually might lose money - which we
certainly could not do since Cameron had moved to Berlin in August and
stuck us with $53,000 in debts from his "Cameron Live!" recording
project and new website. And he stopped paying Anchor the agreed upon
commission of 10%, despite the fact that I have worked with Susan
Slaymaker, his booking director, on this coming season ending May 2011.
His excuse for October 9 was that we had no written contract, but I had
produced a dozen concerts for him in four years, and there was never a
written contract; only oral, which we definitely had for October 9 in
Boston. We had discussed the program, and he had expressed interest in
participating in the discussion session that would compare him to
Virgil. (Maybe that's what made him cancel!) He was also going to play
the world premiere of his new composition, Aria Op. 1. (That, also,
might have been a good reason to cancel!)
I am now getting inquiries about the availability of tickets for the
concert, so thought I needed to inform the whole VFL list.
We will eventually have to close Anchor-International Foundation
because of its debts on behalf of Cameron (a $30,000 loan to Anchor
reverts to Cameron if Anchor is no longer in existence). However, that
will not change the presence of the amazing www.VirgilFoxLegacy website
that Len Levasseur designed and Marshall and I - and many of you -
contributed to over the years.
I was proud to have managed both Virgil and Cameron over a period of
nearly 50 years, but one major difference obviously existed between
Virgil and Cameron: Virgil was good for his word, even when major
managements enticed him after our success on his behalf with "Heavy
Organ." Also, I had no written contract with Virgil for 17 years.
This is not meant to denigrate Cameron's extraordinary talent, or to in
any way wish ill for him and his career. But since October 9 was to
feature a discussion about Virgil vs. Cameron, it has been
I may make this my last Virgil Fox Legacy posting; there comes an end
to everything, and I now must create a new (non-organ) business, or
find a job. It has been wonderful to be in touch with all of you over
the years, and we have had a wonderful, talented artist on whom to
focus; an inspiration to us all, and to all virtuoso musicians.
One last thing. www.SeeMusicDVD.com is still a website where you can
order Virgil Fox books and records and other recordings. We have some
of the recordings still available, and I think we should mark them down
and make some people happy with them rather than throw them away (which
we would otherwise have to do in order to clear our storage space).
Therefore, slashed prices are indicated on www.SeeMusicDVD.com,
generally 50% off or more, plus postage. If you're interested, please
order before the end of October, when we will close this website.
Many thanks for your support over the years, and best personal regards.
P.S. Today is Marshall's and my 50th anniversary!
Richard Bonynge is 80 today. The Australian conductor, husband of diva Dame Joan Sutherland, gives a relaxed interview to my friend, Michael Shmith, here:
There is some useful information on various turning points in the couple's careers. Just don't expect the diva's helpmate to unbutton. Not in this life.
EMI Classics have a new international head of artists and repertoire. He is Andrew Cornall, a former Decca producer who, when Universal all but abolished the label, took a dead-end job in 2004 with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, an orchestra that appeared to be nearing the end of its days.
Cornall's impact was transformatory. He spotted and hired a Russian conductor in his 20s, and stood well back as Vasily Petrenko applied charm and art to repair damaged morale and restore playing standards. With Petrenko up front and Cornall in the office as head of artistic policy and ensembles, the RLPO became the figurehead of Liverpool's year as City of Culture and rejuvenated its audience faster than any other British band.
Those credentials make Cornall on paper a great choice for EMI, and EMI a good career move for the former studio man. Barely was the press release in my inbox, though, than the cavils followed. Cornall, said ex-colleagues, is not 'international'. His taste are British and his first inclination is artistic rather than commercial - which might prejudice a long stay at a label owned by an increasingly desperate hedge fund, Terra not very Firma.
The word around the business is that EMI will be sold before the year is out, probably in pieces, genre by genre and territory by territory, to its principal competitors in order to avoid a monopolies investigation. Joining EMI in the last days of its pomp and ever-more straitened circumstances might not be the best move, say the doubters.
Myself, I think Cornall will do well at EMI and Petrenko even better. For how long? Let's see.
The performing arts in the Neth erlands are reeling from government plans to cut more than one-fifth of arts subsidies, with the brunt falling on the country's excellent orchestras. Total savings estimated are 220 million Euros.
As many as 280 to 300 musicians' jobs may go, affecting such international ensembles as the Rotterdam Philharmonic and the Residentie orchestra of The Hague to the point where their survival might be at stake. Tough times ahead for Yannick-Nézét-Séguin and Neeme Järvi.
The effect on the Concertgebouw orchestra is not yet known but the hall's artistic director Anneke Hogensteijn has recently resigned.
In an unconected move, Dutch Radio has announced cutbacks in live classical concerts, shifting the relays to unsocial hours.
Here's a couple of articles (in Dutch)
Britain's second largest city launched its first Mahler cycle last night with a heart-stopping concert of the eighth symphony, shrunk to 600 performers. That was the most the hall could sensibly accommodate but the result was a performance of rare intimacy in which the conductor Andris Nelsons seemed to reach out and almost touch the banks of singers posted at the back of the stage, both sides and the overlooking balconies. It was 100 years to the week since Gustav Mahler gave the world premiere in Munich.
In some ways, the hall was the star. I can't remember ever hearing such such a wondrous, warm hush between the opening Veni blasts and the first soprano/tenor duet, or so natural a balance between solo voices, orchestra and massed choruses. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is in effulgent sonic form and the city itself seems to be in love with the ever-twinkling Latvian conductor, who wears the perpetual look of a boy with a new bike.
All the omens were good and none of them let us down. The soloists - Marina Shaguch, Erin Wall, Carolyn Sampson, Katarina Karneus, Mihoko Fujimara; Sergei Shemshikur, Christopher Maltman and Stephen Gadd - were flawless and, for once, they were able to sing the Symphony of a Thousand without being strangulated or drowned.
Of the three Mahler Eights I have heard this year - the others were led by Mark Elder (Manchester) and Jiri Belohlavek (BBC Proms) - this added most in terms of lucidity and comprehension. Russell Johnson, the hall's late acoustician, can rest easy in his grave.
It came as a shock to discover that Birmingham had never done a complete cycle of the Mahler symphonies before, but local historians assured me that even in the Simon Rattle years Mahler was introduced with caution, little by little, as much as the market could bear. Why Mahler? argues that Mahler has become established as a concert phenomenon chiefly in the 21st century.
That said, the concert programme revealed plans for a Mahler Eighth in Birmingham in the orchestra's opening season, 1920-21, which would have brought forward its UK debut by four decades. Why conductor Appleby Matthews' plan failed is not known; we have to assume he ran out of money.
Many in the sold-out house had come from far and wide to hear the Eighth - one young couple from Leeds, others from Scotland - having been unable to get tickets for previous performances. Demand for Mahler is high, and rising. More than 300 attended the Why Mahler? pre-concert talk and the bookshop sold out of copies. I shall return to Birmingham at least once more during the cycle, which runs to June 2011.
If you have a Mahler experience to share, you can log it into the orchestra's My Mahler site.
Promotion, what promotion? fumes a well-known artists' agent in an email this morning.
The artists have to pay for their own PR (and it doesn't come cheap). They also pay for the photo in the booklet and for the sleeve notes if they want them to be more than a hacked rehash of Grove Online.
Even more pernicious, Sony in particular has told certain soloists to get an orchestra that is paid for by a radio organisation. That means the label gets the entire production for nothing.
And yet it expects to take the bulk of any profits and a share in the artist's live fees.
Extortionate, or what?
I guess someone has to pay for Lang Lang's $3 million golden hello.
When Sony Classical offers a young artist a record deal these days, it no longer just wants to own what goes on in studio.
Agents have been alarmed to read in the new contracts that, in exchange for the privilege of appearing on its label, Sony expects to receive a share of all the artists' earnings - in concert, on tour, in media, wherever.
The contract specifies that Sony will own 15 percent of 80 percent of all the artist's live fees. Some agents are putting up a fight but bright young soloists are so flattered by the approach and so desperate to get their name on a CD sleeve that they will sign anything - and don't the corporation just know that.
Sony is not alone. Deutsche Grammophon also wants a share of the action. If DG pays 15 percent of an artist's record earnings, they expect to receive 7.5 percent of his concert fees. I haven't checked EMI, but if they don't have a similar set of screws I'm sure they will pop up here quickly to tell us.
The major labels justify this new form of exortion by arguing that their prestige and promotion gives the artist a career boost, and this in return entitles them to a slice of the action. Looked at from an independent perspective, it appears to be a form of creeping slavery by which the corporation owns the musician, body and soul. DG/Universal's imminent merger with a major artist management agency will certainly accelerate that process.
It is, by any reasonable measure, an unacceptable demand and, if challenged in court, it might well be ruled an unfair restraint of trade. It could not happen in another industry. If a publisher were to say that, by stamping their colophon on my next novel, they want a slice of all my earnings from broadcasting, films, public speaking and Strictly Come Dancing, my US agent would (I imagine) escort him out through her twenty-fifth floor window.
My advice to musicians is: shun Sony and DG until they drop the clause. It is unacceptable, morally, artistically and commercially.
One of the competitors at the Georg Solti Conducting Competition has been in touch to suggest that the results were heavily pressured by a single jury member.
None of the top three finishers expected the Venezuelan José Luis Gomez Rios, 32, to win - and that includes Rios himself. He had booked a flight home after the second round, thinking he had done poorly. He is less experienced than Kevin Griffiths, 32, and Tito Munoz, 27.
Much of the discussion in the jury room centred on the illegitimate rule-bending that allowed Aziz Shokhakimov into the second round without having competed in the first. Other jurors included Sir Roger Norrington, the composer Matthias Pintscher and Lady Solti
No one is willing to point fingers, but there are serious questions to be answered and the man who needs to answer them is Karl Rarichs, the competition's founder and director (below). Meantime, honest young conductors are flying home claiming they were robbed.
photo: Renate Feyerbacher/Frankfurt-Live
I submit herewith the minutes of a recent staff meeting at one of the world's leading artist agencies. Item one: pats of butter in the fridge, too many. Item two: new coffee supplier, discuss. Item three: must we still print out every email, incoming and outgoing, in duplicate for archival storage? Item four: need I continue...?
Few will be surprised to discover that music and musicians figure very low on the agenda of an antediluvian industry obsessed with its own comforts and routines. I get about a dozen calls a month from young artists, wondering how to deal with agent attitudes that mock their urgent needs.
To read more, read the October issue of The Strad, out now.
The BBC has added seven more artists to its New Generation scheme, one of the surest routes to classical success - far more assured than most international competitions.
The latest batch are violinists Alexandra Soumm from France and Veronika Eberle from Germany; cellist Nicolas Altstaedt; the innovative Escher String Quartet; and two young British musicians - tenor Ben Johnson and 18-year-old pianist Benjamin Grosvenor. There is also a jazz saxophonist, Shabaka Hutchings, 26.
Past members of the scheme, which runs for two years, include Lisa Batiashvili, the Belcea Quartet, Alice Coote, the Ebene Quartet, Ingrid Fliter, Ilya Gringolts, the Jerusalem Quartet, Paul Lewis, Lisa Milne and Cedric Tiberghien... all now regulars in the hall of fame.
See the press release, and some video, here:
Results just in from a tight finish at the flexi-rules Solti Conducting Competition.
The winner is José Luis Gomez Rios, 32
Second is Kevin Griffiths, 27, a Londoner
Third, and most experienced, is Tito Munoz, 27, US-born and assistant conductor at the Cleveland Orchestra.
A product of the Venezulean Sistema, J-L Gomez Rios studied at the Manhattan School of Music and is now a Spanish citizen. Griffiths put in his apprenticeship with Roger Norrington, Simon Rattle, Lothar Zagrosek and David Zinman. Munoz is a Franz-Welser-Möst protege.
No women made it to the finals. Nor did the disputed free-pass second-round candidate.
Here's the Frankfurt-live report (in German):
An informant has mailed me some odd bits of rigging from Frankfurt, where the fifth Georg Solti Conducting Competition is taking place. Apparently, one candidate Aziz Shokhakimov got a free pass into the second round after not competing in the first.
Why and how, read below. But I know what the Old Man would have bellowed if this sort of thing had happened on his watch. And it would not have printable.
On the other hand, young Mr Shokhakimov may be the next Solti.
Here's the panel of judges:
Editor and Critic, Frankfurter Neue Presse
Founder and long-time Artistic Director, Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn
Concertmaster, Frankfurter Museumsorchester
Long-time Music Director, Bochumer Symphoniker
Frankfurter Museums-Gesellschaft; Artistic Director, Weilburger Schlosskonzerte
Head of the Music and Orchestras division at Hessischer Rundfunk; General Manager, The Frankfurt Radio Symphony
And here's the email:
An unprecedented chain of events has occurred at the 5th Solti International Conducting Competition in Frankfurt this week.
Out of 20 candidates in the first round, 10 candidates went through to the second round. A fairly standard scenario, EXCEPT that the last of the 10 candidates of the second round, Aziz Shokhakimov did NOT participate in the first round!
When a member of the jury was asked about this curiosity, this is what he said:
"During the last Solti competition in 2008, we did not admit Mr Shokhakimov into the final. It was very close call, but we felt that he was too young, at the age of 20. He was very very angry with the result, and there was a bit of a scandal. In order to calm the situation, we told him that he could come back to the next competition directly to the second round"
This raises several questions.
First of all, this kind of wild card scenario is not in the competitions rules. Naturally, all sorts of wheeling and dealing goes on at competitions. Yet this is more than a jury liking one candidate over the other for whatever reason. In this situation, the people in the first round did not get a chance to compete with Mr. Shokhakimov. Someone, who has spent time and money to come to this competition, had his/her spot in the second round taken away.
This event casts a shadow on a competition with such a respected name. To see something of this sort in Germany?! That is a bit of culture shock.
The jury also backed itself into a corner. If they do not give Mr. Shokhakimov the first prize now, at the 2010 competition, they can expect a signature scandal, which, as they have demonstrated, will work. This must affect their judgment.
If the jury of the 2008 competition (the same jury, except for one member) felt that he deserved the prize they should have had the guts to give it to Mr Shakhakimov. As it is now, they are covering their mistake at the expense of 2010 competitors who paid their good money and spent time to come to the 2010 competition (not a "replay" of a 2008 competition)
No competition can be 100 percent objective, but the organization has to at least on the exterior show respect of rules and regulations.
I have just heard that Aharon Appelfeld's marvellous, muted novel of a spa town that becomes a Holocaust camp is to be staged later this year in London by the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
The adaptation is by Sir Arnold Wesker, for 25 actors and nine musicians. The director is Christian Burgess and the music is by Julian Phillips. There will be seven performances at the Barbican between 26 November and 1 December.
Tickets from Barbican Box Office 020 7638 8891 or www.barbican.org; usually available one month before the opening performance. From September, the School will charge £8 (£4 concessions).
Here's the playwright's synopsis:
The latest soloist to change agents before the imminent apocalypse is Gauthier Capucon. The French cellist, 28, has switched from boutique agency Clarion/Seven Muses to hungry and ambitious Intermusica.
The move affects only UK, China and Australasia; for the US Gauthier stays with the giant Cami. For general management, he's with the elite Paris agency, Jacques Thelen.
So why move? and why now? Because everyone's nervous. The next big shakedown is expected within the month and both artists and agents are listening to every reasonable intimation that the future might be safer somewhere else. I have never known the classical music business to be so brittle.
Press release follows:
Intermusica is delighted to announce the acquisition of cellist Gautier Capuçon for the
At 28, Gautier Capuçon has already established himself as one of the world's finest cellists. Capuçon plays with major orchestras world-wide, in recital and chamber music in leading cities, and he regularly appears at the key international festivals, including every year at the Martha Argerich Festival in Lugano and at the Verbier Festival. He records exclusively for Virgin Classics.
The winner of various first prizes in many leading international competitions, including the International André Navarra Prize, Capuçon was named 'New Talent of the Year' by Victoires de la Musique (the French equivalent of a Grammy) in 2001; in 2004 he received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award and he has been the recipient of Echo Klassik awards in 2004, 2009 and 2010, most recently for his recording with Gergiev.
Highlights of Capuçon's 10-11 season include his
Capuçon's recordings include the Dvořák Concerto with Frankfurt Radio SO/Paavo Järvi, Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations and Prokofiev Sinfonia Concertante with Mariinsky Theatre/Gergiev, the Brahms Double Concerto with his brother Renaud, Mahler Youth Orchestra/Chung and the Haydn Cello Concertos with Mahler Chamber Orchestra/Harding. He has recorded several discs of chamber music including the Piano Trios of Mendelssohn and Haydn with Martha Argerich and Renaud, and the Piano Trios of Brahms, Schubert, Ravel with Renaud, Frank Braley, Nicholas Angelich and others. He has also recorded Schubert's Trout Quintet, duo works with his brother Renaud, and with Gabriela Montero the Rachmaninov and Prokofiev Cello Sonatas.
Please visit http://intermusica.co.uk/gcapucon for further information, including a full biography, images for download and an audio clip.
The former Gergiev protégé Tugan Sokhiev has been announced as chief conductor of the German Symphony Orchestra (Deutsche Sinfonie Orchester, DSO). He succeeds Ingo Metzmacher, who quit over funding cuts.
Sokhiev, who was named music director of Welsh National Opera at only 24 and was gone within two years, is still only 32 and rising fast. He's music director of the Capitole orchestra in Toulouse, the best French band outside Paris, and he is getting good guest invitations.
I last heard him in Sydney, where the orchestra were divided on his rehearsal methods but the audience was ecstatic about his Tchaikovsky. I think he's going far.
The pianist Gabriela Montero has published a statement with her new recording of South American music, delicately explaining her opposition to the Hugo Chávez regime in terms of colour coding. A passionate and courageous performer, Montero regrets her country's decline under its showboating Castroist president. Here's her sleeve-note in full:
I make records because I want to share my
own and others' creativity, emotional world and
personal souvenirs through sound. I believe
everything we do and say is a testament to
who we are. A fingerprint. A statement. Usually,
the very recognisable EMI logo is red and
white. You'll notice that in this record, the EMI
logo is black and white. I've chosen to exclude
any red in SOLATINO, except for the letter 'O',
because in Venezuela, the colour red has been
stripped of its passionate beauty and power,
and is now associated with repression, fury
and control. You'll also notice that the title is
coloured by Yellow, Blue and Red. These are
the colours of the Venezuelan flag. Red is the
last colour on my flag and, coincidentally, 'O'
is my blood type. I find the symbolism in this
quite beautiful. We all share that same source
of life: blood. It is the red blood cells that carry
oxygen through our bodies. Without them, we
perish. With the right balance, we thrive. I'd like
this 'O' to be coloured by a peaceful shade of
red. The red that belongs to all of us. The red
that is beautiful in its intensity, and not hurtful
in its grip. The red that belongs in this world
and not the type that separates and
extinguishes us. There is no space for the
wrong kind of red, and I choose to remove
it from this record. It is my statement.
The last Lebrecht Interview of the summer features Patrice Chéreau whose bicentennial 1976 Ring in Bayreuth is arguably the most influental opera production of the past half-century and unquestionably the first to establish a contemporary aesthetic for Wagner.
There had been modern-ist stagings before Chéreau, mostly in a Marxist dialectic. What Chéreau achieved with Pierre Boulez was a reinterpretation of the saga in images and metaphors that were vivid and comprehensible to live audiences.
And not just live. The Boulez-Chéreau Ring was shown in many countries as television serial in ten instalments. It awoke a new generation to opera, set a different tone. How it came about and what went down in Bayreuth is discussed with naked candour in the interview. There were real, live Nazis all around, he relates.
Chéreau, one of the foremost French theatre directors, has a dozen films to his credit, including the masterpiece, La Reine Margot. Yet - and it's a big yet - he has never been asked to work across the Channel, such is the insularity on British opera and theatre.
He will appear here for the first time next year at the Young Vic.
Hear all about it on the Lebrecht Interview, tonight at 9.15 on BBC Radio 3 - and streamed online for the rest of the week.
Picture shows: Patrice Chéreau with NL in Paris (c) Lebrecht Music & Arts
The new recording by Gabriela Montero has been decked out, at her request, in the national colours of Venezuela. Ms Montero is not a supporter of the Hugo Chavez regime. She chooses to live abroad.
The record, of music by various Latin American composers including herself and the 19th century Venezuelan virtuosa Teresa Carreno, is a love letter to her country.
In the booklet, which I haven't yet seen, she makes the point with greater precision. And she does not stand alone. EMI, uniquely for a major label, allowed her to change its logo from red to blue on the sleeve to conform to her political and aesthetic standpoint.
Here's the microsite for track details.
A visit to Buenos Aires by the Scala company, with Daniel Barenboim conducting Aida, had the unintended by-product of some interesting discussions between backstage unions. After the talks, the opera workers called a joint press conference and issued a statement (below), condemning plans by the Berlusconi government and the Buenos Aires Mayor Maurico Macri to impose cuts on the two companies. Scala and Teatro Colon, they declared, will stand shoulder to shoulder to fight these knavish tricks. Stage workers of the world, unite!
Now, much as I deplore political intervention in the arts and the imposition of ill-considered economies, I keep hearing from singers about the arrogant and agrressive conduct of the backstage crews at La Scala. Nobody dares to complain aloud for fear of provoking a strike. Nor does any Scala intendant look too closely into what goes on behind the curtain.
Colon may be a case apart, but La Scala is ripe for reform and those who join hands with its antediluvian staff may not have the interests of opera, singers and audiences uppermost in mind.
From Sindicato Argentino de Músicos (SADEM), Buenos Aires
This week, the Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Alla Scala from Milan would interpret AIDA conducted by Maestro Daniel Barenboin, in the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires.
As part of the plan of struggle that workers from the Colón are carrying out, they interviewed musicians from Alla Scala and find similarities in the policies implemented in Italy by the Berlusconi`s government and in Buenos Aires by the Head of Government of the City, Mauricio Macri. They organized a joint press conference to publicize the statement you will find attached.
The Teatro Colon has been reopened the past 25th of May after arranging the main room, but its own production structure has been modified to transform it into a rent room, in order to favor companies through outsourcing, in addition to drastically reduced the number of workers, mainly artistic, a measure that the Argentine Justice rejected and the government failed to obey.
Delegate from Teatro Colón, Máximo José Parpagnoli and José Piazza and Francesco Lattuada peers, and Simone Gianni Dallaturca Groppo from Teatro Alla Scala, gave a very interesting synthesis to the local press concerning the situation of both theatres and the impact of economic policies that ignore the value of the culture as tangible and intangible heritage, and the damage they are doing when measuring from the cost-benefit perspective.
Sindicato Argentino de Músicos (SADEM)
From The workers at the Teatro alla Scala of Milan and the Colon Theatre of Buenos Aires
TO PUBLIC OPINION
Both Culture and artistic expressions are worthy and essential social goods and access to them is an inalienable right of all citizens. This principle should be inevitably protected by political power and representatives of our governments, whatever its trend, as well as health and education are basic and constituent principles of democratic societies.
The attempt of authorities- Silvio Berlusconi from Italy and Mauricio Macri from Buenos Aires - to privatize -clandestine or explicitly- institutions devoted to the expressions of lyric art, symphonic music and choreography, are a full demonstration that they consider culture as an economic value whose implementation, structuring and dissemination should be governed by the laws of the market, supply and demand and purchasing power-dependent accessibility.
This attempt has been reflected in "standards" (laws and decrees) flawed by unconstitutionality, illegality and illegitimacy seeking budget cuts, precarious labor, transportation workers, destruction of systems of own production and non-recruitment and competition to ensure the essential historical staffing systems availability.
We declare -open and strongly- advocate both theatres which, for over a century, have been recognized worldwide as the highest expressions of the cultural life of our people's own production systems. On the other hand, its own production system has proved to be the only economically successful model in the relationship social economic-yield investment, since its principles encourage multiplication of functions by title and the possibility of increasing the Repertoire productions whose title and rights remain in institutions.
Also, we firmly reject models of management and cultural management that were previously mentioned (Berlusconi-Macri), as well as the authorities in both theatres. The outsourcing of activities, the benefits outsourcing, the precariousness of contracts, the absence of competitions, the lack of joint sectorial and spurious spaces with activities not related at all with the function of the theatres, using configured the model imposed by authorities. This will cause the gradual and systematic loss of professional, artistic, technical, administrative and auxiliary establishments, which will cease to theaters as mere historical buildings liable to be used as luxurious rooms' rental for events of all types whose sole purpose is the non-profit and economic exploitation.
We will not be guests of stone in defining questions relating to our work and the fate of our theatres. Throughout this conflict, we always proposed dialogue, discussion and consensus as avenues for resolution of conflicts and the come about from labour and institutional situations; but if silence and authoritarianism continues to be the position of officials, workers will not hesitate to resort to all necessary measures and all political, professional, legal, judicial authorities and media to defend not only our sources of work, but the cultural and artistic heritage of la Scala and the Colón.
Cultural workers resist -once again- being the variable adjustment of the economic crises of our peoples, produced precisely by those who today brought to the art and their expressions as a luxury good and their workers as "privileged" workers. We have access to our jobs positions after rigorous competitions and we give, daily, proof of our suitability both artistic and technical in front of professional critics and the public. By no means, we will ask for forgiveness for having special schemes work, given the unavoidable consequence on the type of activity which we carry out and the benefits that our precise work requires. The high specificity compels us to permanently enable us to achieve high performance in our work. It is time that a cultural representative understands this; it would be highly expected that this would be understood from the beginning of their mandates and not, as is the case of today -not to mentions our history- that we must explain and carry out an exhausting teaching to the representatives of our governments, theoretically educated, so that they can understand our working system and its peculiarities.
The similarity of the problems of la Scala and el Colón exposed here is an overwhelming proof that the advance of the ideology of cultural predation and the imposition of management models based on contempt for the basic rights of our society and workers are international and are part of a thought that, despite having failed miserably and having led to an unprecedented global crisis, insists on imposing economic and social prescriptions that will only produce more exclusion, more suffering and more violence
As a result, our complaint and appeal is also international: dissemination of this document is intended to alert and call to all workers of the world culture. The message is that we must organize ourselves to face these harmful politics, beyond cultural differences, and we must recognize a common enemy whose only goal is to turn the culture and its institutions in mere sources of business and profit.
We insist that cultural and artistic expressions are the heritage of us all, their preservation and access must be guaranteed by State policies aimed not only to multiply its social revenue, but to regard them as essential factors of the identity of our communities, their individual definition and collective representation, thereby ensuring the plurality of criteria and the diversity of ideas, essential conditions for the establishment and maintenance of a democratic society that prides itself as such.
No sooner did I reveal what Lang Lang is forbidden to talk about on live radio than Sony Corp launched a new music streaming system in Europe to challenge Apple on a new front. It's called Qriocity and, like most gimmicks with silly names, it is unlikely to last long.
Bloomberg thought the timing and the marketing were both wrong. The main purpose of the European launch seems to be keeping the war with Apple alive until one side or other comes up with a killer app.
What this tribal skirmish means for Sony's artist slaves is stricter discipline. Two radio producers have contacted me to say that not only is Lang Lang prevented from mentioning i-Pads and other Apple products, but presenters who interview him live on air are required to give a prior undertaking that they will not mention Apple devices in their questions.
If I am asked to agree to such self-censorship I will refuse. I urge others to join me. This may help keep Sony artists off air until the company comes to its senses. Sorry about that, Yo Yo.
Some time during the long summer, I bumped into Lang Lang in a radio studio and took a moment to congratulate him on his techno-comm skills. Lang Lang and his works can be found on every medium of electronic transmission invented up to and including last Thursday. He is tweeted, facebooked, i-Googled, B&N-ded and, in all likelihood, apped on an abacus. He has a brilliant website, updated 24/7.
There is one item, however, that he cannot touch. 'I can talk about all the new ways of spreading music,' he said, 'but I can't mention the i-Pad on air or in the press.'
'Why ever not?'
'Sony...' he shrugged.
Stands to reason. The Japanese corporation paid $3 million earlier this year to detach the Chinese star from his long-standing connection to Universal Music and is now in a position to call the shots. Sony has developed its own handbook Reader, a rival to Apple's triumphant i-Pad. If you're a Sony artist, you don't talk about a competitor's products.
Lang Lang looked a bit uncomfortable about this and I was tempted momentarily to ask if he kept an i-Pad under plain covers. It seems a shame to restrict an artist from using whatever he needs and talking about it wherever he pleases. But then that's what happens when you take the golden hello.
The corporation owns you body and soul.
And you jump when the men in suits say so.
The opera singer who suffered agent abuse in last week's leaked email has left Universal Music to join Jack Maistroianni at IMG. Two more singers are talking of quitting Universal, leaving the corporation's agency wing in a parlous state ahead of an impending merger.
When artists leave, finances take a big hit. 'That's £300,000 ($465,000) in commissions going out the door,' said one insider when Joyce DiDonato's agent, Simon Goldstone, took her and 19 others out of wobbly IMG to the medium-sized London firm, Intermusica. An even bigger sum went walkies when Gustavo Dudamel switched agencies - twice this year, so far.
These shifts, usually infrequent, are happening now on an almost weekly basis. They are a sign that the classical music business is in total flux, morphing beyond recognition.
More to come.