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June 30, 2003

Jazz Reopens For Business In San Francisco Amazingly, San Francisco's last jazz club closed down at the end of April. But the jazz scene won't stay dark for long in a city at one time known for its jazz; new clubs are opening up. "It's nearly impossible for musicians in San Francisco to play in a nice venue. We decided we had to open our own place," San Francisco Chronicle 06/30/03

Defiant Downloaders The recording industry says it will begin prosecuting music downloaders who violate copyright. But some users are defiant. "I don't think they'll get much money from us. I don't see it being enforceable. They threaten us, but we just find a different program, and other computer savvy kids will find new programs. It's an empty threat. I don't consider it a big deal. Sometimes I only like one or two songs and I'm not going to buy an entire CD for that song." Miami Herald 06/30/03

Understanding Beethoven Nine Beethoven's Ninth Symphony is one of the most famous pieces of music in history. But "what can be said about the Ninth with reasonable certainty? One is that its position in the world is probably about what Beethoven wanted it to be. Figuratively speaking, everybody knows the Ninth. But has anybody really understood it? The harder you look, the odder it gets. In a singular way, the Ninth enfolds the apparently contradictory qualities of the epic and the slippery." Slate 06/30/03

Will NY City Opera Really Relocate? For some months it's been assumed in many quarters that New York City Opera would be leaving Lincoln Center to anchor a new cultural complex in the World Trade Center project. But directors of the project are putting out a general call for cultural groups who might be interested in locating downtown, leading to speculation that City Opera's relocation is not a done deal. "Today's expected invitation from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation seems intended to send the message that decisions about a cultural element at ground zero will not be based on personal, political or professional connections. 'We want to cast a broad net to see what's out there'." The New York Times 06/30/03

June 29, 2003

Another Orchestra That Isn't Collapsing The Richmond (VA) Symphony reports that it is officially on the list of smaller American orchestras that are not on the verge of folding up their tents and vanishing into the night. "According to a nearly complete year-end tally, the symphony ran a $26,478 loss after spending $3.8 million in the 2002-03 season. The loss could shrink by as much as $20,000 after late-arriving revenues are counted in, said David Fisk, the symphony's executive director." Richmond Times-Dispatch 06/27/03

Berlin Can't Afford Three Opera Houses There's no lack of public support for Berlin's opera scene, which continues to thrive despite a sluggish economy. But the city is out of money, and appears to be on the verge of shuttering at least one of the city's three most prominent opera houses. "The three opera houses — the Staatsoper and Komische Oper in the former east and the Deutsche Oper in the west — are relics of the division of Berlin. And now they are victims of post-unification budget cutbacks. And like the plot of a Puccini opera, this drama is very likely to end unhappily." Andante (Deutsche Presse-Agenteur) 06/27/03

Baghdad Symphony Rises From The Ashes Of A City The Baghdad Symphony Orchestra has played a concert. Consider the gravity of such a statement. In a city where many residents are without electricity, or water, or basic medical care, and where American and British troops continue to conduct daily raids searching for supporters of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein, 50 musicians sat on a stage in formal attire, and brought music back to the Iraqi capital for the first time since the invasion began. The first work on the program was the patriotic song, "My Nation," virtually banned under Hussein's rule. Jerusalem Post 06/29/03

Donizetti's Lost Opera Nearly two decades ago, journalist Will Crutchfield uncovered a stack of moldy old manuscript papers filled with musical jumbles, abandoned compositions, and what appeared to be pieces of an unpublished opera by Donizetti. "It didn't take long to discover the pages were in fact a lost opera. But it took nearly two decades, and return trips to Europe, to piece together a version capable of being produced. On July 17, that big step in this ongoing detective story will be taken at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, N.Y., when Crutchfield himself will conduct Elisabeth, the never-produced Donizetti opera he rediscovered. The Christian Science Monitor 06/27/03

June 28, 2003

Neuro-Mozart - Does It Exist? Does listening to Mozart make you smarter? That's the claim, repeated often, without much scientific study to back it up. Now the Neurosciences Institute, a "respected research body perched by the sea near La Jolla," California is presenting a concert series with neuroscience experts to address the question. Los Angeles Times 06/29/03

British Music Crisis? What Music Crisis? "The British music industry, both live and recorded, employs more than 100,000 people and generates around £3 billion a year, yet it is perceived unquestioningly to be in the slough of despond. The hand-wringing reaches its apogee on Wednesday when Britain's most popular radio station, Radio 2, devotes five hours to The Great British Music Debate." But British music has never been healthier. Music occupies a central role in our lives, and look at this week's Glastonbury festival. Each "festival-goer has paid £100 for admission, and all tickets sold out within 18 hours of going on sale." London Evening Standard 06/27/03

Let Me Introduce You To Music This trend of classical musicians speaking to their audiences before performing a piece of music is becoming very popular. But why? Why is it necessary to introduce the music? "Perhaps this thirst for the human voice has been created by television and radio. We are so used to being talked at, bombarded with information, never left in silence for a moment, that it has become unthinkable for a performer to need and use silence. Nobody ever plays on TV without first being talked about, or talked to, or talking themselves. The space between us and the performer always has to be filled." The Guardian (UK) 06/28/03

Why The Symphony Orchestra Is Dying Why is the symphony orchestra dying? Bernard Holland spells it out in clinical style. "Classical music has only itself to blame. It has indulged the creation of a narcissistic avant-garde speaking in languages that repel the average committed listener in even our most sophisticated American cities. Intelligent, music-loving and eager to learn, such listeners largely understand that true talent and originality must find their own voice. What they do not understand is why the commitment to reach and touch listeners in the seats does not stand at the beginning of the creative process, as it did with Haydn and Mozart. This kind of art-for-art's-sake has much to answer for." The New York Times 06/29/03

June 27, 2003

Music From Outside "So what exactly is Outsider Music? You might as well ask, “What is Outsider Art?” In a field occupied by a dozen or so jostling factions, the overall spectrum remains bewilderingly inclusive. Like its more closely monitored visual counterpart, O.M. practitioners range from the infantile to the institutionally committed — almost anything qualifies. 'Outsider music includes all manner of incompetent but sincere recordings, music by the mentally challenged, industry rejects, eccentrics, singing celebrities, lovable oddballs, grandiose statements, etc'."
LAWeekly 06/26/03

June 26, 2003

What Makes A Music Festival Work? The UK is overrun with music festivals. So "why do we have music festivals, what do they achieve and where can it all go wrong - or right? Essentially, a festival, even an early-music festival, must be about the new and the fresh as well as celebrating the established. If it seeks only to reinforce preconceptions and repeat the familiar, it has failed. It is all too easy to build a programme of nothing but popular classics and, certainly in financial terms, all too tempting. But while such a festival may deliver an audience, it does nothing to extend musical horizons, or to create a buzz." The Guardian (UK) 06/27/03

The Bad Bad Business Of Music "I know that the British music industry is in crisis. You know that the British music industry is in crisis. My parents - whose interest in music is so profound that they have now owned a CD player for 15 years without ever learning how to use it - know that the British music industry is in crisis." But sitting around whining about it solves nothing. The music industry is in crisis because of a series of bad business decisions and an inability to change with a changing world. The Guardian (UK) 06/27/03

Music Industry - Steps Behind The music recording industry is chasing consumers to punish them for downloading music. But perhaps it's because the industry has not kept up with what consumers want. "The problem for the industry is: Who makes the money in the future? The people who are making the money now are much less interested in making these changes. It is not an industry that has had to change much. Traditionally the music industry has been about selling product on a piece of plastic. The industry has been clinging to CDs for too long." BBC 06/25/03

San Antonio Looks For Answers Deep in the heart of Texas, there are those still hoping for a savior to step forward and save the bankrupt San Antonio Symphony. To be sure, the city has no shortage of billionaires who could make the SAS solvent again in the blink of an eye, but it's fairly clear that none of them are going to help, says Mike Greenberg. So why isn't anyone looking at realistic options instead of waiting for a miracle? "There's only one real answer for the symphony: It has to make more money by doing more of what it does well: making music... To build a future, the symphony needs a hammer in the hand, not a rabbit in a hat." San Antonio Express-News 06/22/03

Why Whine When You Can Innovate? The Colorado Music Festival is not sitting around waiting for the financial woes that are plaguing so many classical music organizations to hit them, too. Rather, the Boulder-based organization is joining forces with other arts groups to offer their audience new reasons to keep streaming through the turnstiles. A collaboration with the Colorado Shakespeare Festival will find actors roaming the grounds on select nights. A local group specializing in music education is on board to assist with a new children's program. And for every concert it plays, the CMF will utilize a new orchestral 'scorecard' which invites the audience to follow along with key themes as the orchestra plays them. Rocky Mountain News 06/26/03

Challenge Grant Could Be Big Boost In Colorado "An unprecedented grant will speed the tempo of the new Colorado Springs Philharmonic's march toward solvency - if the orchestra can raise $650,000 in four months. A quartet of regional foundations... have joined forces to offer a 2-to-1 challenge grant of $325,000, orchestra officials announced Tuesday. It's the largest grant in the history of the former Colorado Springs Symphony, which went bankrupt earlier this year, then re-formed as the Colorado Springs Philharmonic." Denver Post 06/25/03

Dallas Shrinks A Deficit With many large American orchestras facing multi-million dollar deficits, bloated budgets, and uncertain futures, the Dallas Symphony is continuing to be a model of fiscal sanity, without compromising artistic integrity. The DSO "came within $150,000 of balancing its $21 million budget for the 2002-03 fiscal year. That's a big improvement over the $847,000 deficit during 2001-02– and a considerable achievement in a year marked by bankruptcies, multimillion-dollar deficits and contract rollbacks for other orchestras." The news isn't all good - ticket sales in Dallas are down again - but in the current economic climate, the DSO has to be considered a major success story. Dallas Morning News 06/25/03

Gerhart Resigns In San Diego, Likely Headed to Pittsburgh San Diego Symphony president Douglas Gerhart has resigned from that position, saying that his candidacy for the top job in Pittsburgh had become a distraction. The financially embattled Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra isn't returning phone calls on the subject, but it's possible that Gerhart has already been hired. The San Diego prez first surfaced as a leading candidate for the PSO job two weeks ago, based on his record of service with orchestras attempting to navigate dire economic straits. San Diego Union-Tribune 06/25/03

  • Previously: A Manifesto, A Commitment, Amd A Darkhorse Candidate Board members of the embattled Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are being asked to sign a "Commitment To Excellence" manifesto which states that "the board will 'not compromise the artistic future of the Pittsburgh Symphony,' and 'will not accept anything less than the establishment of permanent financial stability. ...'" News of the manifesto came as rumors began to circulate that the PSO is looking seriously at hiring Douglas Gerhart, known as something of a turnaround specialist in the orchestra world, as its next managing director. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/12/03

Recording Industry To Hunt Down Swappers, Demand Big Bucks The Recording Industry Association of America wants to go after music file-swappers and fine them - demanding $150,000 from each. "The organisation says it wants to track down the heaviest users of song-swapping services, and then sue them for thousands of dollars in damages. 'We're going to begin taking names and preparing lawsuits against peer-to-peer network users who are illegally making available a substantial number of music files to millions of other computer users'." BBC 06/25/03

  • You Talkin' To Me? No, Seriously, Are You? With the recording industry threatening to begin suing the biggest file-swappers, millions of users of file trading services like Kazaa and Morpheus are wondering just how many downloads qualifies as lawsuit-worthy. And that, of course, is exactly what the RIAA wants. "The intent is to scare everyone from prototypical pirates who share hundreds of ripped CDs through T-1 lines to teens who trade a handful of pop tunes. Still, the heaviest sharers are a distinct bunch relatively easy to pick out in a crowd." Wired 06/26/03

June 25, 2003

Vanguard Comes To The Front Again The legendary Vanguard Classics label is being resurrected. "Artemis Classics, a division of Artemis Records, will begin releasing both Vanguard's printed catalogue as well as previously unreleased material from this autumn. In addition, Artemis will also be working with a handful of young artists, including violinist Gil Shaham, cellist Matt Haimovitz and composer Michael Hersh." Gramophone 06/25/03

A Carnegie/NY Phil Rift? Are cracks beginning to appear in the marriage between the New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall? Carnegie officials are looking forward: "People think that we are simply going to graft the current Philharmonic schedule on top of the Carnegie Hall schedule. The opportunity here is to create a merged institution that is forward-thinking. We are looking at new ways of presentation and new types of scheduling." Forward-thinking. Sounds good. "Except that the Philharmonic, however splendid an orchestra, has not been forward-thinking since the 1970's." The New York Times 06/26/03

The Substance Behind Hip-Hop "In ever-evolving forms, hip-hop rules planet Earth, or at least the global entertainment economy from Japan to Cuba. But is there something deeper going on than the flash of 50 Cent's platinum chains and Eminem's silver tongue? Where is hip-hop's artistic vanguard, its intelligentsia? Wasn't this $1.6 billion-a-year industry once rooted in resistance?" San Francisco Chronicle 06/25/03

America's Opera Companies Prepare For Cutbacks America's opera companies got together last week to talk about business. The news isn't good. "To keep the most expensive of the performing arts alive in a slumping economy, opera companies are cutting services, staff and productions, dipping into cash reserves and adjusting their budgets for lean years ahead. Administrators from two of the three midsize opera companies at a breakout session said they were dropping works from next season's schedule. The wolf's at the door, and opera folks have no place to hide." Chicago Tribune 06/25/03

June 24, 2003

Lloyd Webber Oratorio - Sincere, But... An oratorio written by Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber's father William in 1948, gets its world premiere. "If sincerity alone were the key to a work's success, St Francis of Assisi would be a winner, but unfortunately the score falls down on so many crucial issues of drama, variety, pacing and characterisation that it emerged in this belated premiere, given by the Joyful Company of Singers, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and a team of fine soloists conducted by Peter Broadbent, as more of a curiosity than a real find." The Telegraph (UK) 06/24/03

Ragtime Opera Scott Joplin's only opera - which he never saw performed in his lifetime - is getting a rare production. "The only large-scale work to survive from the pen of the greatest of the ragtime composers, 'Treemonisha' is still a comparative rarity in performance for reasons that have as much to do with history - the piece was never performed during Joplin's lifetime, and his original orchestrations have been lost - as with the opera's intrinsic merits." San Francisco Chronicle 06/24/03

June 23, 2003

The One-Performance Syndrome "As American orchestras perform an increasing number of premieres each season, it is all the more difficult to obtain that elusive second performance. A major roadblock toward that goal is the frequent inability of composers-and their publishers and agents-to secure recordings of concert performances for use in promoting new works." NewMusicBox 06/03

Hipper Than Thou "Bang on a Can is a loose association of self-consciously edgy composers and performers whose stated aim is to write music "too funky for the academy and too structured for the club scene." They speak of their formative years this way: "We had the simplicity, energy and drive of pop music in our ears-we'd heard it from the cradle. But we also had the idea from our classical music training that composing was exalted." This too-neat division of labor-funky fun on one side, serious structure on the other-threatens to repeat the mistake of Paris in the twenties. It undersells both the wildness of composition and the wiliness of pop. Try telling James Brown that his music isn't structured." The New Yorker 06/23/03

June 22, 2003

Opera - State Of The Art Opera America meets in St. Louis to discuss the state of the art. "On one hand Opera America touts opera's growth in the last 20 years: more than half of its 119 member companies were founded after 1970, and the organization reports growing and increasingly younger audiences. On the other hand the troubled economic climate has meant shrinking endowments, a falloff in donations and a consequent need for companies to rethink and even to restructure along conventional business lines." The New York Times 06/23/03

A Month of Surprises The classical music world is so tightly guarded, so underreported on, and so frustratingly predictable that surprises are rare. Yet, in the past month, Anthony Tommassini has found himself stunned by no fewer than three announcements from some of the world's top classical figures. The New York Philharmonic's surprise move to Carnegie Hall is, of course, at the top. Second on the list: the Cleveland Orchestra's decision to extend the contract of its young and (some say) unproven music director through 2012 after only one year on the job. And last, but not even remotely least, there is the stunning news that Luciano Pavarotti has scheduled a farewell performance at the Met. Again. And he promises to show up this time. The New York Times 06/22/03

Louisville's Photo Finish Keeps Orchestra Alive Good news is hard to come by in the world of professional orchestras these days, but a huge sigh of relief could be heard coming from Louisville this weekend, as the Louisville Orchestra not only reversed its earlier position that bankruptcy was its only option, but approved a new three-year contract with its musicians. The contract is hardly a windfall for the players - it includes short-term wage cuts on already miniscule salaries, and trims weeks from the orchestra's season - but with other troubled orchestras folding right and left, everyone seems to be at least satisfied with the result. As a direct result of reaching agreement on the contract, the orchestra will receive a much-needed $465,000 gift from a local developer who had been backing the musicians. Louisville Courier-Journal 06/21/03

Roll Over Beethoven Beethoven and his music have been seized upon as a symbol for all manner of righteous and wrong causes. "Politically, he has had more incarnations than Vishnu. Almost every European political movement, conservative or revolutionary, has made him a posthumous party member. Depending on who you might have talked to over the past two centuries, Beethoven was a Marxist, a Nazi, a parliamentary democrat and a monarchist. He celebrated kings, gave hope to the proletariat, and vigorously supported all sides during the Second World War. No other composer - probably no other artist of any kind - has reflected so many conflicting views. You might say, echoing Jean-Paul Sartre, that because there was a Beethoven, we have to go on reinventing him." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/21/03

Our Great Composers: Out Of Religion "Looking back over the history of music, it is clear that the church has inspired some of the greatest achievements of western culture. But in the 20th century, church music became increasingly isolated from the advances of musical language and the pens of the world's most gifted composers. Today, to hear good new music in church is relatively rare. Why haven't the likes of Berio and Ligeti written sacred music?" The Guardian (UK) 06/21/03

American Opera - Quantity Over Quality? "It sometimes seems as if it has become a proof of virility for some American opera houses that they should have at least one premiere in every season. But it is the quantity that apparently matters far more than quality, governed by the overriding principle that whatever the chosen composers produce must never challenge the house's core audience too seriously. Just as it is no accident that the leading American opera directors of today - Robert Wilson, Peter Sellars, David and Christopher Alden - now work far more regularly in Europe than at home, while houses like the New York Met continue to favour the lavish, reactionary naturalism of Franco Zeffirelli, so the American opera composers who thrive are those who are content to serve up blandness, preferably with a story taken from a well known novel or play." The Guardian (UK) 06/21/03

June 19, 2003

Fans Flocking To Big Music Festivals Again A couple of years ago tickets to some of the biggest English music festivals went begging. Critics said there were too many festivals chasing too few fans. And (depending on who you talked to)the music wasn't strong enough to excite people. Well, this summer has stilled such talk. Major festivals are selling out at a record pace. Could it be that good music sells? BBC 06/20/03

What Happened To The "Better" Music Festival? A music festival at New Jersey's Giants Stadium that was "supposed to be a weekend to redefine the music festival - replacing Coca-Cola banners with fan art and teen idols with musicians who actually write their own music - collapsed into 12 hours of 'put up with it or leave.' What happened to the celebration of art and nature, to the notion that exposure to new music could carry a show? Why had Field Day, with events and a lineup that had the world talking, dwindled to an audience of 20-somethings just kicking around until Radiohead came out to play?" Says one fan: "Our modern bureaucratic society makes it impossible to have large gatherings of any type. With the current required logistics, anything that even gets off the ground is immediately tainted with falsehood because of the built-in compromise." Christian Science Monitor 06/20/03

Concert-Hall-As-Billboard This week Dallas' Meyerson Hall - home to the Dallas Symphony - is going to be transformed into a giant billboard. The IM Pei-designed building will be bathed in projected-light advertisements for a car-maker and publisher. "The projections will emblazon the symphony hall's north walls facing Woodall Rodgers Freeway with intricate, abstract designs reminiscent of computers, in a tribute to Bill Joy, Internet wizard, Sun Microsystems co-founder and another of the Audi 8." Dallas Morning News 06/19/03

June 18, 2003

Lincoln Center In Search Of A Plan What's to become of Lincoln Center now the New York Philharmonic plans on leaving for Carnegie? The planning is complicated. Center officials even considered turning Avery Fisher Hall into an opera house in hopes of enticing New York City Opera to stay... The New York Times 06/19/03

Stop Giving Us Those Made-up Stars Album sales in the UK fell by 4% in 2002 and music sales dropped by 13% in the first quarter of 2003. What's the cause? Some blame music downloading. But others blame recording companies who manufacture stars rather than creating artists. "Economically it's much easier for a record company to sign one pretty young male or female, give them some songs, put them out there, and get a very fast return on their investment." BBC 06/18/03

De Waart To Hong Kong? Will Edo de Waart become the next music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic? "In a press release issued late Wednesday afternoon, the HKPO said that the 62-year-old Dutch maestro 'has expressed an interest in the music directorship of the HKPO, but would like to get to know the Orchestra before considering the possibility further'." De Waart is ending his tenure as music director of the Sydney Symphony and is former music director of the San Francisco Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra. Andante 06/18/03

Louisville Delays Bankruptcy Filing The Louisville Orchestra, which was expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday, instead delayed its decision until today, in what may be a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement with the orchestra's musicians to avert a shutdown. "The orchestra is out of cash and owes two banks $1.3 million in past-due loans, plus a pair of unmet payrolls to its musicians, conductors and administrative staff." Negotiations between musicians and management broke down last weekend, with management insisting that drastic salary cuts were needed, and musicians livid over what they said was a last-second moving of management's goalposts. Louisville Courier-Journal 06/17/03

Vail Braces For A Publicity Upgrade For years now, Colorado has been a popular summer destination for professional musicians. The state boasts multiple summer festivals from Aspen to Boulder, and this summer, the 15-year-old Bravo Vail Valley series is getting a major PR boost, with the presence of the New York Philharmonic. "The orchestra's residency will be the first of three annual appearances in Vail as part of an agreement announced nationally by the two organizations in New York in January 2002." Denver Post 06/18/03

Muzak For The Hipster Crowd Apple's celebrated new MP3 player, the iPod, is making waves throughout the music industry, and in some very unlikely corners of capitalist society, as well. "Instead of piping bland background music over tinny speakers, enterprising music promoters are loading hundreds of hours of hip tunes onto iPods and renting them to restaurants, nightspots, clothing boutiques and hair salons." The enterprise is giving independent musicians a chance to be heard by a larger audience than they would ordinarily have access to, and clients of the new service are thrilled to be getting something other than the typical Muzak. Wired 06/18/03

June 17, 2003

English National Opera - A Daunting Job Sean Doran is only a few weeks into his job of running the embattled English National Opera. "Fresh, if a little bruised and battle-hardened, from his four extremely lively years as director of Western Australia's Perth International Arts Festival, Doran lets the Irish lilt in his voice sound an optimistic note. 'One of the reasons I accepted the job was that I do believe ENO is one of the few opera companies that has the ability to develop the art form itself. My ideas will come from continuing to learn exactly how this company ticks and how far I can stretch it'." Sydney Morning Herald 06/18/03

Lincoln Center To Philharmonic: Not So Fast Lincoln Center isn't just sitting around after the New York Philharmonic announced it will leave for Carnegie Hall in 2006. The performing arts center says that the orchestra has a lease that runs through 2011 and that leaving early breaks the lease. "Lincoln Center intends to be firm and clear about its rights." The New York Times 06/17/03

June 16, 2003

Sandow: A Critic's Manifesto Is classical music dying? Maybe. But maybe music critics are partly to blame. "We shouldn't be boosters. We shouldn't pretend that everything's wonderful and glorious, because, first of all, it isn't, and, even more important, nothing in the world is. I'll grant that some people idolize classical music, or at least the idea of it, and honestly believe that all classical concerts are wonderful and that there's no ego or careerism in the classical music world. (Let's have a moment of silence for that last idea, which I first heard from the bass player in a long-ago metal band, Kingdom Come.) But most of us are more realistic than that, even about things we don't know much about. So it's crucial, at least in my view, that classical critics pull no punches when they talk about bad concerts." NewMusicBox 06/03

In Praise Of Vinyl There's something satisfying and human about vinyl records. "It's really these imperfections that make records worthwhile. Vinyl can break, bend and scar. Records are organic black slabs stuffed inside sleeves as big as the music itself. LPs are also designed and organized to flip, like chapters in a book. I don't always want to listen to hours of music. Our culture is bent on maximizing everything: Supersize that DVD with movie extras and bonus concert footage. Sometimes I just want to listen to one side of a record and then fold over my musical bookmark." National Post (Canada) 06/16/03

Who Makes Money From Music Sales Even at 99 cents a song for online music downloads, there's lots of money to be made selling music. So how big a cut do artists get at this rate? Try 12 percent, on average. Here's a breakdown of who gets what cut when you buy recorded music. Business 2.0 06/16/03

Recording Industry Beginning To See Value Of Downloading Apple's iTunes has been a big success so far. "And because of the store's early success - more than 3 million songs sold in the first month after it opened April 28 - other technology giants like Microsoft, America Online, Yahoo and Amazon.com are considering similar ventures. Record executives believe they are finally on the right track." San Francisco Chronicle 06/16/03

Buffalo - How Do You Trim A Structural Deficit? A study of the operations of the Buffalo Philharmonic concludes that the orchestra has a $1 million "built-in" deficit, but that the orchestra has cut its budget by as much as it can "without jeopardizing its artistic excellence, according to the study." Still, there may be some ways the orchestra can earn more money... Buffalo News 06/15/03

June 15, 2003

The Next Great Jazz Star? In April, Universal Jazz beat Sony to sign Jamie Cullum for £1 million. The news sparked a media frenzy. Was the 5ft 5in, Wiltshire-raised 23-year-old worth the hype? When he sang, sighed and emoted his way through "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You" on Michael Parkinson's BBC1 show shortly afterwards, the answer appeared to be yes. Online superstore Amazon ran out of his second CD, Pointless Nostalgic (released on the independent Candid label), the next day. London Evening Standard 06/16/03

NY Philharmonic's Carnegie Gambit: Not Good For America Mark Swed writes that while the New York Philharmonic's move from Lincoln Center to Carnegie Hall might make financial sense for the orchestra, it isn't necessarily good for New York music or for musicians elsewhere in America. "What is good for business isn't necessarily good for art, the community or the country. This is a dire move, and its ramifications will be felt throughout America. At the heart of it are two important questions: Whom does an orchestra, or any major arts institution, serve? And what is its social responsibility?" Los Angeles Times 06/15/03

  • Mourning Carnegie Hall's New Role The New York Philharmonic's move to Carnegie Hall is bad for music in New York. "The most jarring thing about this agreement is that the Philharmonic and Carnegie are merging into a single entity. Think about it. Effectively there will be no more Carnegie Hall: It will simply be the Philharmonic's hall, which they'll let others use from time to time. The 130 nights a year the Philharmonic will "cannibalize" in its new home will be bad news for recitalists, string quartets, popular musicians and visiting orchestras." Kansas City Star 06/15/03

Neither The Best Nor The Worst Of Times The sky is not about to fall down on the world of symphony orchestras, but neither is the future outlook as rosy as some industry soothsayers think, says Paul Horsley. The fact is that orchestras with responsible fiscal policies are thriving, even in the down economy, but that doesn't make it any easier for the groups in trouble to dig their way out of the financial hole. The 'X factor' in orchestral success remains a commitment to artistic quality, and the orchestras that stay afloat are the ones that can find a way to maintain their standard, even as they cut the necessary monetary corners. Kansas City Star 06/15/03

A String Quartet Too Hot To Handle "The culture wars don't often invade the rarefied world of chamber music. But the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival's directors have decided to omit the sexually explicit and homoerotic narration accompanying a new piece by Pulitzer-winning composer David Del Tredici... To the composer, who is well-known for celebrating his homosexuality in his music, the issue boils down to censorship fueled by homophobia. To James Tocco, who is also gay, the issue is the festival's responsibility to an audience that includes children. Trapped in the crossfire are the musicians in the Elements Quartet, which commissioned the work from Del Tredici and offered the world premiere performance to the festival." Detroit Free Press 06/15/03

How To Hold A Composer Accountable One of the frequent charges leveled against composers over the last few decades has been that they are increasingly distant from, and even uninterested in, their audience. A special interactive concert made an effort to reconnect the two this weekend in New England: three composers each presented new works to the audience, and spoke briefly about their inspirations and objectives in composition. Then, the audience got a crack at questioning the composer, speaking up about what did and didn't make a connection, and even asking for segments of some works to be repeated. "It sounds like the very thing that composers dread," says Keith Powers, and yet it seems to have made everyone involved a little wiser, and a lot happier. Boston Herald 06/14/03

June 13, 2003

Glennon: Is Rock Music Dying? "Though it gives me no joy whatsoever to say it, I've become certain that rock is in its last days. And I've started to believe that the subgenre that appears on the surface to offer rock its best hope for a full recovery is actually nothing more than a sign that death is nearer than anyone had thought. I've begun to believe that the far-reaching and seemingly endlessly expansive subgenre of rock-based experimental music is simply a function of the sickly old art form examining its life, noting the many things it might have been (in addition and, often, in opposition to the many things it actually has been), exploring each of them to the extent it's capable, sighing at the thought of some missed opportunities, perhaps even registering slight pangs of regret for what it did instead (prog-rock, perhaps, or death metal, and, of course, Steely Dan)." Valley Advocate (Massachusetts) 06/12/03

Now Italy Is Without Music "Since the dawn of European music, Italy has been its chief wellspring of melody and imagination. Johann Sebastian Bach learned his craft copying out concertos by Vivaldi and claiming them as his own. Mozart wrote his operas to Italian texts by Varesco, Calzabigi and da Ponte. But the recent death of Luciano Berio leaves Italy without a single composer of world renown - indeed, without one composer whose name might elicit a flicker of ragazzi recognition in any town piazza from Milan to Palermo. Italy has become overnight a land without music, a calamity of uncalculated cultural magnitude." La Scena Musicale 06/11/03

June 12, 2003

Baghdad Orchestra Fights For Its Life The Baghdad Symphony Orchestra doesn't expect its future to be the first priority of the new Iraqi government, or of the occupying force of American and British troops currently running the country. But The BSO is beginning to run out of time to stabilize its organization, which has been in chaos since the war in Iraq began. The orchestra's musicians have not been paid in months, and last week, an Italian cultural attache charged with overseeing Iraq's cultural life failed to show up for a meeting with the orchestra's management. To make matters worse, the orchestra is fearful that whatever new government eventually emerges in Iraq may not be supportive of classical music at all. Middle East Online 06/12/03

San Antonio Makes It Official The San Antonio Symphony has officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after a vote by the orchestra's board. The SAS struggled with its finances all season, and laid off half its office staff last week in anticipation of the bankruptcy filing. The orchestra does not intend on shutting down completely - at least, not yet - but there is no firm timetable for a return to a normal concert schedule, and the summer months may not provide enough time for the SAS to organize a 2003-04 season. San Antonio Express-News 06/12/03

A Manifesto, A Commitment, Amd A Darkhorse Candidate Board members of the embattled Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are being asked to sign a "Commitment To Excellence" manifesto which states that "the board will 'not compromise the artistic future of the Pittsburgh Symphony,' and 'will not accept anything less than the establishment of permanent financial stability. ...'" News of the manifesto came as rumors began to circulate that the PSO is looking seriously at hiring Douglas Gerhart, known as something of a turnaround specialist in the orchestra world, as its next managing director. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/12/03

Scaling Back A PAC In KC Changes may be on the way for the design of the new Performing Arts Center in Kansas City, with funding concerns creating a need for a less extravagant complex. "The exterior of Moshe Safdie's glass-and-concrete center would not change appreciably. But the new interior design... includes a large opera-ballet theater that can be transformed into an orchestra hall using technology developed since discussions about the performing arts center began in 1995. A 500-seat theater/recital hall would cater to smaller arts organizations and community theater. The existing plan... called for a 2,200-seat theater and an 1,800-seat devoted orchestra hall, with the smaller hall proposed for a future second phase." Kansas City Star 06/11/03

The SARS Benefit That Isn't A major concert scheduled for Toronto and billed as a SARS benefit is drawing critical fire after it was discovered that no portion of the proceeds from the show will be earmarked for SARS relief. The concert will feature some of Canada's highest-profile music stars, including Avril Lavigne and Barenaked Ladies, and the performers will be paid handsomely out of a $5 million fund provided by the Ontario government, but none of the provincial money will be put towards a solution to the outbreak, either. Organizers say that the concert was never intended as a traditional benefit, but as a way to get large numbers of people to come to downtown Toronto, which has been badly hurt by the perception that SARS is rampant. The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/12/03

Sore Tushes And Broken Contracts "The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has sued the contractors that installed seats last year which were later removed because they were defective and uncomfortable. The lawsuit seeks at least $1.6 million because, the orchestra claims, Modern Door and Equipment Sales and its subcontractor, American Premier Seating, failed to fulfill their contract to install 1,800 seats, putting in only 500." Detroit News 06/11/03

Refusing To Quit In South Florida When the Florida Philharmonic filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, most of its board members, musicians, and managers threw up their hands, passed the buck to each other, and mourned the demise of the region's only large orchestra. But two members of the Philharmonic's chorus are refusing to let the Florida Phil slip away, and have raised $900,000 in an effort to get the organization back into workable fiscal shape. Support for the effort has been slow to come from musicians worried about their contracts, but the choruspeople now seem to have the organization behind them, and hope to raise $2 million by this Friday. South Florida Sun-Sentinel 06/11/03

  • Previously: Florida Phil Fans Enraged By Shutdown Long-time subscribers of the Florida Philharmonic, which filed for bankruptcy last week after several weeks of pie-in-the-sky fundraising attempts, are reportedly furious with the way the orchestra urged and cajoled them to renew expensive subscriptions for a season which the orchestra knew might not be played. Now, the orchestra says it hasn't decided whether to issue refunds to subscribers. "The Philharmonic has managed to alienate its bedrock supporters. It's given the appearance of courting donors capable of seven-figure gifts while putting the squeeze on ordinary people who faithfully bought tickets." South Florida Sun-Sentinel 05/18/03
June 11, 2003

Pop's New Corporate Naughty "It is hard not to escape the impression that pop is developing a bad attitude." But it is a bad-attitude facade fronting for "big-budget, marketing-led operations put together by management, production and songwriting teams. In other words, this is just mainstream manufactured pop in a less parent-friendly guise. After a decade of squeaky-clean boy bands and girls-next-door, pop has rediscovered the joys of rebellion." The Telegraph (UK) 06/12/03

Looking For Leadership In Pittsburgh The search for a new managing director of the Pittsburgh Symphony is attracting the kind of attention usually reserved for the hiring of a music director. That's what happens when an orchestra's major challenges seem to be managerial rather than artistic. "Looming large over the search is the PSO's $800,000 cash shortfall this year and the effort to stave off a $2.5 million structural deficit next year, not to mention the hiring of a replacement for outgoing music director Mariss Jansons." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/11/03

Top 100 Songs What are the "greatest" 100 songs of the past 25 years? VH1 has made a list... Dallas Morning News 06/11/03

June 10, 2003

Louisville Orchestra Bankrupt The Louisville Orchestra files for bankruptcy. "Employees are still owed their May 30 paychecks and a total of $1.3 million in loans is past due. The orchestra also owes approximately $250,000 to vendors." CNN (AP) 06/10/03

Korean Pianist Snubs Piano Competition A Korean pianist has turned down the third prize he was awarded at this year's Queen Elisabeth Music Competition in Brussels because "he felt his performances throughout the month-long competition were demonstrably better than those given by the second-place winner, Shen Wen-Yu, 16, from China. Severin von Eckardstein, 25, from Germany, won first prize." Korea Herald 06/10/03

Grammys Add New Categories The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences has added some new categories for next year's Grammys, including an award for best rap song. "The rap arena continues to be strong and growing. There are more releases, more artists, more airplay and sales, and more importantly, there's more creativity in that area.' In addition, awards in the world music field have been doubled: Trophies will now go to best traditional world music album and best contemporary world music album." Yahoo! (AP) 06/07/03

Crossover Christian The new Christian music doesn't conform to a particular style. "A new crop of bands on Christian-owned labels, many playing Christian-owned clubs, has appeared. Unlike their forebears, who made weak imitations of already-popular music as a way to spread the Gospel, these new bands are making original, high-quality music and attracting fans for their sound, not their message. The Christian-rock underground is now as much a steppingstone to mainstream success as any other music scene." The New York Times 06/10/03

June 9, 2003

St. Louis: Record Ticket Sales, But $1.6 million Loss The St. Louis Symphony sold a record number of tickets this season, and for the first time box office exceeded $4 million. Still, "even with the strong ticket sales last season, the symphony will show an operating loss for fiscal 2003 of $1.6 million, as predicted by the long-term financial restructuring plan of the symphony. Ticket revenue makes up just 35 percent of the symphony's expenses, with annual giving contributing 25 percent and concession and miscellaneous revenue accounting for 15 percent." St. Louis Business Journal 06/09/03

More Choice, Smaller Audiences? There is more choice for classical music in Scotland than ever before. "Things have changed dramatically. For a start, more people are actually listening to classical music, thanks largely to the populist phenomenon of Classic FM. The radio station that rams lollipops down your lughole with the systematic Pavlovian persuasiveness of Radio 1 may chop up the classics into snippets that match the diminishing concentration span of today’s average listener - and may be driven by blatant commercial forces such as one-sided Faustian contracts with artists and recording companies - but it has had the astonishing effect of shaking up BBC’s Radio 3." One problem thoug - many of the live concerts don't sell many tickets, and that's because... The Scotsman 06/10/03

Study: Canada's Troubled Orchestras Canadian orchestras commission a study on the state of their business. The results are sobering. "Among its findings? That many orchestras lack a clearly articulated vision of what they are about. That boards are often untrained and imperfectly informed. That managers are so overworked that little time is devoted to planning. That close to a decade of budget cuts has begun to erode artistic quality." Toronto Star 06/09/03

Celebrating French Music of the French Baroque is very popular right now. And no one has done more to popularize it than conductor William Christie. "Why this sudden surge of interest in music ignored by the public for 250 years? Partly it's a matter of the larger early-music movement and our culture's growing fascination with its own cultural legacy. That fascination has its healthy and unhealthy aspects, suggesting a welcome attention to its past and perhaps a waning interest in its creative present." The New York Times 06/09/03

June 8, 2003

The Most Popular Music Right Now? "Right now, the Billboard Top 10 includes six straight hip hop records (as well as a further two that could be described as strongly hip hop-influenced). Furthermore, hip hop is currently the best-selling musical genre worldwide, outstripping pop, country, rock and any other you can think of. Amazing, eh?" London Evening Standard 06/06/03

Lincoln Center's New Opportunity So what will become of Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall after the New York Philharmonic leaves? Lincoln Center says there's a big opportunity and management envisions "new uses sweeping and small, including hosting the world's top orchestras, staging festivals, introducing interactive technology to audiences and emphasizing youth education programs. The hall 'is now a blank canvas, and we have a palette of musical colors that we're going to paint on that canvas'." New Jersey Online (AP) 06/08/03

Domingo Shells Out $2 Million To Make Good On Vilar Pledges As New York's Metropolitan Opera removes Alberto Vilar's name off its building for failing to make good on pledges, Placido Domingo, director of Washington Opera and Los Angeles Opera, reveals that he has loaned Vilar $2 million to make good on his pledges to those two companies. Los Angeles Times 06/08/03

Sorting Out Winners And Losers In NY Phil Move To Carnegie John Rockwell writes that Carnegie Hall gives up something important by becoming home to the New York Philharmonic. "At Lincoln Center, meanwhile, the immediate impression might be that the rats are scurrying down the hawser, fleeing a sinking ship. The New York City Opera is making noises about abandoning the center for a Ground Zero cultural center not yet designed, let alone built. The Philharmonic is on its way out. Who's next? What is to become of the grand late-50's and early-60's dream of a cultural center that would bring everyone together, a dream that spawned imitators all over the world? Not much bad, say I, and maybe something good. The urban-renewal aspect of the Lincoln Center project has long been fulfilled." The New York Times 06/08/03

  • How To Make Sense Of The NY Phil Move To Carnegie? Anthony Tommasini wonders what's in it for Carnegie Hall in bringing over the New York Philharmonic from Lincoln Center. "To make sense, this move must be seized by the Philharmonic as a chance not just to enhance its aural impact but to jolt its artistic metabolism. For Lincoln Center, meanwhile, this decision is more than a disruption. It's a disastrous setback, no matter how much administrators try to spin it as an opportunity for new ventures." The New York Times 06/08/03

Early Music - Not Just For The Sound Over the past 20 years the Early Music movement has revolutionized the way we perform and listen to early music. But renovating sound is not its main accomplishment. "It's not really a matter of philosophical debates as to whether and exactly how we follow composers' own conceptions of their works, or recover the precise aesthetic or sound of a long lost age. Far more important has been the recovery of lost repertoire and the reinvigoration of the familiar." The Guardian (UK) 06/07/03

June 7, 2003

A Trio Of Pianos At 150 Three of the world's great piano companies - Blüthner, Bechstein and Steinway - turn 150 this year. "Since 1853, artists have praised their instruments. Claude Debussy remarked that piano music should only be written for Bechsteins. For Wilhelm Furtwängler, Blüthner was best. 'Blüthner pianos can really sing, which is the most wonderful thing you can say about a piano.' Martha Argerich, an Argentinian-born artist, believes a Steinway sometimes plays better than the pianist — 'a marvellous surprise'. In business terms, the three fared very differently..." The Economist 06/05/03

Met Removes Vilar's Name From Building The Metropolitan Opera has taken down patron Alberto Vilar's name from the opera house after Vilar failed to make good on a number of promised donations. "The Vilar name had been affixed to the Grand Tier since 1998, when Mr. Vilar pledged $20 million over five years toward a $400 million endowment goal, as well as $5 million to match grants by others. The opera did not say how much he was in arrears or in what form, cash or stocks, but the statement suggested that the amount was substantial. The un-naming at the Met — a stinging rebuke in the genteel world of big-time philanthropy — was the latest sign that arts groups were losing patience with Mr. Vilar's missed commitments and were willing to speak out, even at the risk of losing any future largesse." The New York Times 06/07/03

June 6, 2003

If You Play Contemporary Music And No One Comes, Is It Still Good Music? Birmingham's Floof! Festival of contemporary music was first rate. But there was no one there to listen. "The trouble with Britain is that it has a showbiz culture, and things are not regarded as worthwhile unless they fill halls. It is important for those involved in contemporary art music to push home the notion that small audiences are acceptable, that new music deserves a protected status, that it should not be judged by how many bums are affixed to seats. This is reasonable. But while it is fine to accept the position that new music can be a minority interest, which ought not be judged according to popularity, it by no means follows that we should be satisfied with that." The Guardian (UK) 06/05/03

June 5, 2003

70s Stars Are The Stadium-Sellers "While new artists like Norah Jones, 24, dominate the airwaves and sell millions of albums, the old folks are cleaning up at the box office. Last summer, five of the top 10 grossing tours were artists that came of age in the '70s, including Billy Joel and Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Neil Diamond and The Eagles. Three others were acts that debuted in the '60s: Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and Cher. Creed and The Dave Matthews Band rounded out the top 10." San Jose Mercury-News 06/05/03

All About The Piano It's the 150th anniversary of the founding of the American Steinway company. Time was when pianos were a big status symbol. "By the end of the 19th century, about one in six New Yorkers worked in some piano-related job..." The New York Times 06/06/03

The Problem With Jazz Criticism Jazz critic Stanley Crouch was fired from JazzTimes magazine last month, and he says there's much wrong with the field of jazz criticism today. "There is such consistency in the jazz press, and its predilections, that it represents a virtual conspiracy?not one that includes clandestine meetings or muttering in code?but a conspiracy of consensus based in modernist European ideas of avant gardism. It?s stapled to concepts that Harold Rosenberg and Clement Greenberg pushed into the art world during the 1940s and 1950s, championing the narrows of Abstract Expressionism as 'advanced' because they ignored the body of basic classical skills in the interest of autobiographical methods devised by the painters themselves. But right now, while mouthing those theories, jazz criticism is actually dominated by an adolescent vision of rebellion that arrives from the world of pop music, rock in particular. That is why I was fired last month from JazzTimes." Newsweek 06/05/03

June 4, 2003

Exploring American Music In Its Many Flaovors Minnesota Public Radio's American Mavericks series is a collection of first-rate radio shows about American music. But it's also a valuable website, the "latest attempt to find a home on the Internet for progressive classical music, which is played sparingly in concert and on the radio. "For Michael Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony's music director and co-host of the "American Mavericks" radio series, the Internet is a logical place for young people to discover new music. Just as cutting-edge composers push beyond common assumptions, he said, a certain adventurous nature is needed to explore cyberspace." The New York Times 06/05/03

Mobile Phones - Your Music Here "With sales of CDs on a three-year slide, the music industry sees mobile phones as powerful outlets for promoting artists and distributing music for profit - something it failed to do in the early days of Internet music-swapping. In recent months, recording labels have entered deals with wireless carriers and other companies. The music companies are selling rights to their musicians' recordings and images for use in screen savers, digital images and song snippets that are then sold to mobile phone users." National Post (Canada) 06/04/03

The End Of Music As Object? "I believe the era in which music is treated as an almost fetishistic object of desire is coming to an end. Not for me, perhaps, even though I have been busy recently uploading my entire music collection to my computer, clearing acres of valuable shelf-space by transforming stacks of CDs (never the most beloved format, with their easily cracked plastic boxes, tiny covers and tatty booklets full of microscopic print) into digital sound files on a kind of virtual juke box. And quite possibly it is not yet over for you, either, certainly if you grew up in the vinyl era and have developed a soft spot for albums with distinct identities, the running order of songs identified on the sleeve, just as the artist intended. But it is a very different situation for the teenage students..." The Telegraph (UK) 06/05/03

Exit Interview: Toeplitz Leaves Pittsburgh Gideon Toeplitz leaves as manager of the Pittsburgh Symphony. "I made two major mistakes in big chunks. One is something everyone else in the world made, not only the orchestral world. Look at the airlines. We thought the good times would last. And nobody thought the downturn would last as long as it has, and some people are saying it will last eight years. Maybe I pushed too hard, first with myself and therefore with others, to get where I wanted to get. I was ambitious for the Pittsburgh Symphony. We did 15 tours. Maybe 12 would have been enough. Some things I pushed artistically would have come two years later, anyway. So what?" Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 06/04/03

Davidson: Carnegie Move Good For NY Phil So why is the New York Philharmonic walking away from Lincoln Center? "Because it has spent the last 40 years in a hall widely — but certainly not unanimously — held to be an acoustical failure, one that has undergone more than its share of tweaks and massive renovations. The prospect of fixing up Avery Fisher Hall again, launching yet another capital campaign to fund yet another overhaul with uncertain results, seemed daunting and horribly expensive. What if — after getting and spending enough hundreds of millions of dollars to do the job, after vacating Avery Fisher and scrounging dates at other places for the years of construction, trying to patch together residencies, extended tours and temporary locations — after all that, the new auditorium still appalled?" Andante 06/04/03

  • Odd Hall Out - Don't Disparage Lincoln Center Because It's Not Carnegie Hall "Avery Fisher is a misunderstood treasure. Concert halls — indeed, all places where people gather — should not be measured by their iconic status. They should be measured by the service they perform for their communities. In that regard, Avery Fisher has done a yeoman's job. Its ultimate shortcoming may be that it's not Carnegie, but that's also its saving grace. While the out-of-town orchestras rush to perform at the grand old hall on 57th Street, Avery Fisher plays a different — and sometimes more vibrant — role in the city's musical life." The New York Times 06/04/03

The Human Cost Of Florida Phil's Fall When the Florida Philharmonic ceased operations last month, 80 musicians lost their jobs instantly. This is no small thing, since orchestra players must devote months of practice time and hundreds of dollars in travel expenses even to make a stab at winning a new job in another ensemble. Many Florida Phil musicians were married to others, making the shutdown a financial catastrophe for their families. "Some players already have left town. Some are going home to family. Others are turning to teaching or investigating careers outside music. A few cling to the hope that a miracle waits around the bend and resurrection will come in the weeks or months ahead." South Florida Sun-Sentinel 06/04/03

RIAA Continues Its Crusade "The recording industry is playing an old song: It has filed a new copyright-infringement suit against Streamcast, makers of the popular Morpheus file-sharing service. The suit involves a Web radio service never launched by Streamcast." Streamcast's chief exec "called the recording companies 'sore losers' following U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson's ruling in a separate copyright lawsuit in Los Angeles against Streamcast Networks." The new lawsuit is part of an ongoing battle by the industry to shut down companies which enable illegal file-sharing. Wired 06/04/03

New Jersey Unveils Dazzling Set of Fiddles The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is not generally mentioned in the same breath as the Boston Symphony, the Vienna Philharmonic, or the Cleveland Orchestra. But the Newark-based NJSO is now the proud caretaker of 30 of the world's finest old Italian string instruments, a collection which would be the envy of any of the world's greatest orchestras. So how do they sound? "Imagine being thirsty and drinking a glass of water - clean, functional, easy to ingest, it satisfies the basic need but little more. Now imagine being offered also a nice, steaming hot cup of the finest Belgian chocolate. Suddenly there is flavor, there is a sequence of sensations... This is something like the difference between the NJSO's string sound pre-Strads and now." Newark Star-Ledger 06/02/03

Louisville Inches Closer to Shutdown The Louisville Orchestra's board of directors has scheduled a meeting for next Monday, at which it is expected that they will vote to file for bankruptcy, though no one in the organization is specifying whether it would be Chapter 11 or Chapter 7. The orchestra's management missed its last payroll on May 30, and musicians are still refusing to reopen negotiations on an ongoing contract, insisting that they make too little money to be able to weather any further salary cuts. Louisville Courier-Journal 06/04/03

  • Previously: Next Stop For Louisville May Be Bankruptcy The musicians of the Louisville Orchestra have rejected a management proposal which included wage cuts and a shorter season, and the orchestra says it may file for bankruptcy as early as next week. "The orchestra has approximately $1.3 million in bank debt, with $800,000 of that past due and the balance due early next week," according to its board chairman, who also points out that the ensemble's staff and conductors have taken a 10% pay cut, which is larger than that being asked of the musicians. The musicians claim that they have made many concessions over the last decade in an effort to help the organization financially. Louisville Courier-Journal 05/30/03

The Old Milwaukee Shell Game The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra may be looking for a temporary home away from home after the 22,000-pound ceiling of the onstage shell that the orchestra uses at its downtown concert hall fell during a routine storage move, and bounced off the stage. No one was hurt in the accident, and tech crews are working to determine whether the stage will be usable for the MSO's scheduled Beethoven Festival this weekend. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 06/04/03

June 3, 2003

Vienna Philharmonic - Stuck In The Old Culture It's been six years since the Vienna Philharmonic first let a woman play as a member of the orchestra. But women are still scarce in the orchestra, and a long established culture stubbornly resistant to change is difficult to move... The New York Times 06/04/03

Jazz Takes A Non-Jazz Turn (Again) The insular, elitist world of jazz is being rocked in more than one sense of the word. Young musicians, and even some old ones, are thumbing their noses at jazz purists and exploring popular forms of music, from grunge to indie-rock to rap. Flip through your local record store's jazz bins and you'll find pianist Jason Moran covering the rap classic 'Planet Rock' and the veteran organ player Dr. Lonnie Smith tackling an entire album of Beck songs. Some jazz artists are even borrowing a page from hip-hop, packing their discs with guest appearances by rappers." Baltimore Sun 06/01/03

Eurovision - Send It Up In A Song European TV's Eurovision Song Contest is "quite possibly the world's most garish musical spectacle. Each year, contestants kitted out in everything from Viking helmets to bondage outfits perform original compositions to taped backing music. Viewers across Europe (some 150 million in total) vote by telephone for their favorite, excluding their own nation's song. The most famous winner was 'Waterloo' in 1974 by ABBA, who went on to become to pop-music kitsch what Jesus is to Christianity." Boston Globe 06/01/03

  • Previously: Britons Agonize Over Why No One Liked Their Song Britain has won five Eurovision Song Contests. So Britons are furious that their representative this year didn't pick up a single vote. politics to blame? Maybe a "post-Iraqi backlash"? Or were viewers in Europe "engaging in political voting against a country out of step with the rest of Europe?" Maybe there an "element of vote-rigging going on, with geographical allies voting for each other." The Scotsman 05/26/03

NY Phil/Carnegie Merger Could Resonate In Pittsburgh News of the impending merger of the New York Philharmonic with Carnegie Hall has some observers of the classical scene in Pittsburgh thinking that the embattled Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra could take a page from the Phil's book. "Given the national significance of the Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall, the unexpected consolidation raises the possibility that a stronger collaboration between the Symphony and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust could be viewed more favorably as a way to stabilize the Symphony's finances. The Trust, an arts presenting organization that owns four theaters in the Downtown Cultural District, has for five years successfully brought the PSO and Downtown arts groups together in its 'shared services' initiative." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 06/03/03

NY Phil Moved Quickly, Quietly on Carnegie Deal When the decision to move the New York Philharmonic's home base back to Carnegie Hall after 40 years as the anchoring tenant at Lincoln Center was announced this past weekend, it came like a bolt out of the blue. There had been no substantial rumors of an impending deal, little to no speculation that the Phil might be pulling out of Avery Fisher Hall, and no public indication that Carnegie had much interest in reacquiring the orchestra as a tenant. In the rush to get a deal done, in fact, the Phil left some of its board members and supporters out of the process entirely. Lincoln Center officials, meanwhile, claim to have been broadsided by the deal, with no opportunity given for them to make a counteroffer. The New York Times 06/03/03

  • Times Editors: Lincoln Center Needs to Reinvent "To many observers over the past few years, it has often seemed as if Lincoln Center was too busy competing with itself and that it had lost sight of its larger public mission. It was one thing for City Opera to think about leaving. It is something altogether different when the Philharmonic packs up. The charmed circle has been broken." The New York Times 06/03/03

  • Will Carnegie Gain The Phil But Lose Its Soul? With the New York Philharmonic set to take up residence in Carnegie Hall, the nation's premier presenter of touring orchestras is set to gain the services of one of the world's most well-known orchestras, and lose a lot of its scheduling flexibility. Some observers are worried that Carnegie's famed schedule of touring orchestras, featuring perhaps the finest annual array of ensembles anywhere in the world, will have to be drastically scaled back to accomodate the Phil. Carnegie Hall execs insist that they can be both a home to the Phil and the top presenter of out-of-town ensembles, but many have their doubts. New York Sun 06/03/03

June 2, 2003

Canadian Musicians - The Road To Success Is Through Europe Canadian music acts have a tough time getting recognition at home. So they try to make it big in the US. But though many Canadian musicians have hit it big there, it's getting tougher. "Smartening up, many underground acts have been looking elsewhere for international record deals. Like the jazz greats in post-First World War Paris or the ignored-at-home Detroit techno DJs in 1980s Europe, Canadian artists are discovering the Old World can provide a more receptive audience than the new. Ironically, that transatlantic success is often enough to garner American attention." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/02/03

A New Gehry On The Skyline LA's new Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall is turning heads (and it hasn't even opened yet). "The city centre more in need than even Bilbao of something worth looking at has got a shimmering pile of twisting metal. Yet this isn't 'me too' urbanism, more 'hey buddy, we were here first'. The $274m (£150m) Walt Disney Concert Hall was designed before Bilbao (in the late 1980s) but was held back by funding and other problems, which makes it the prototype architectural regenerator, a pivotal, if tardy, building. The hall is an exuberant pile of twisting steel encasing public spaces of generosity and wit, finished internally in Douglas fir, light streaming in where the external structure peels away from the façade - this is a building with no windows but plenty of light. It could exert a major impact on the city's feeble downtown, its contorted, lumpy profile looming impressively over the skyline." Financial Times 06/02/03

June 1, 2003

NY Philharmonic To Move To Carnegie Hall Forty years after it left for Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic plans on moving back to Carnegie Hall. "The move would give Carnegie Hall the oldest orchestra in the country and deprive Lincoln Center of the first cultural institution established there. For the Philharmonic, going to Carnegie Hall means it can exchange the flawed acoustics of Avery Fisher Hall for a stage of undisputed sound quality, without having to foot the bill for a costly renovation. It would also turn the orchestra, now led by Lorin Maazel, from a rent-paying tenant into a managing partner." The New York Times 06/02/03

  • NY Philharmonic Move - What Will Happen To Lincoln Center? "The Philharmonic's decision to leave comes on the heels of New York City Opera's proposal to leave Lincoln Center, too, for a new site at ground zero. Simultaneously, the weak economy has forced Lincoln Center's new management team to scale back plans drastically for the institution's redevelopment — a project now expected to cost less than a third of the $1.5 billion originally projected." The New York Times 06/02/03

  • Musically, NY Phil Move Makes Sense "Musically, the issues are straightforward: the Philharmonic has always had complaints about the acoustics at Avery Fisher Hall. The principal criticism is that sound onstage does not allow the sections of the orchestra to hear one another adequately. That, in turn, affects the performance heard by the audience. Visiting orchestras have supported the Philharmonic's criticisms." The New York Times 06/02/03

Classical Music: Reports Of My Death...Are WRONG! Stories abound about how classical music is sinking into obscurity - death, even. But "in the things that matter most, classical music is actually healthier than for decades." The evidence, writes one critic, is compelling. "For a start, London is more than ever the uncontested classical capital of the world, with some 20 professional orchestras and five music colleges. Many of the world's great soloists choose to make their home there, as do home-grown musicians in great quantity and quality. In 1985, for example, the Association of British Orchestras had just 12 members; now it has 50. Up to half of this growth has come from new orchestras." The Economist 05/30/03

Met Broadcasts - Stripping The Theatre Out Of Opera? So the Metropolitan Opera's radio broadcasts are endangered. That is sad news, writes John Rockwell. But along with the many benefits the broadcasts have produced, they have also distorted Americans' sense of (and taste for) opera. Onne might suggest that "millions of American opera lovers have been tilted toward a perception of opera as a voice-driven auditory experience. For them, the best stage production is imaginary: it doesn't so much adhere to the intentions of the composer as remain neutrally compatible with a listener's own made-up stage pictures. And in the comfortable confines of the home or the car, the music is usually heard without libretto or titles, as a sensual experience in melody, harmony and a foreign tongue." The New York Times 06/01/03

Florida Orchestra In The Red The Florida Orchestra (Tampa) is projecting a $600,000 deficit when its books close later this month. "The orchestra, with a budget of $8.5-million, launched a campaign in April to raise $500,000 to match a grant of $500,000 from anonymous donors for a total of $1-million. The campaign has been a success." St. Petersburg Times 06/01/03

Last Vinyl: End Of An Era Britain's last chain of vinyl record shops has gone out of business. "The chain ran 40 shops in its 1980s heyday, mostly in the north-west and East Anglia but covering the whole country. In recent years it has been the only indy rival to the big multiples like Virgin and HMV." The Guardian (UK) 05/31/03

Grabbing For A Younger Demographic "Times are definitely changing in some of Canada's symphony and opera halls. On a Saturday night these days, it's hard not to notice the huge number of concertgoers in their teens and 20s. Many of them have never heard live classical music before. Some have never heard classical music, period. But lured in by cheap tickets for those under 30, they are quickly becoming converts. This is a vital renewal process for cultural institutions that have traditionally been seen as stodgy and elitist. And winning over potential new subscribers is also an economic necessity at a time when dwindling arts funding has left several Canadian orchestras on the brink of financial collapse." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 05/31/03

Musicians Who Need A Push It is notoriously difficult to fire an orchestra musician in the U.S. A strict tenure system and decades of tradition make it a tremendous challenge to remove a musician who is no longer pulling his/her weight, and more often than not, a music director is reduced to pleading with substandard musicians to simply retire, rather than force the organization to begin the long, drawn-out process of dismissing them. Ordinarily, the public never hears about such internal confrontations, but in Chicago, where the music director has often been heard to condemn the tenure system, an unusual number of recently announced 'retirements' have brought the issue to the fore. Chicago Tribune 06/01/03

Strathmore Gets A Boost A $100 million concert hall going up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. is 40 percent complete, but money has been an issue even during construction. But this week, $4.85 million in new pledges came in from wealthy supporters of the new hall, getting organizers close to their funding goal. The Music Center at Strathmore, when complete, will host a variety of musical ensembles, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Washington Post 05/31/03

Touring Expensive But Not Expendable Major orchestral tours, such as the one just completed by the San Francisco Symphony, are massively complicated and expensive affairs, involving the transport of over a hundred individuals, instruments, and other equipment. Halls must be booked, tickets must be sold or their cost made up, and hotel rooms must meet the exacting standards of the musicians' contract. Says critic Joshua Kosman, "You might think a project like that would be expendable, especially in these lean financial times. You'd be wrong." San Francisco Chronicle 05/31/03

San Antonio Cuts Staff, Prepares For Chapter 11 "Unable to meet Friday's payroll for musicians and staff, the San Antonio Symphony has laid off nonessential office workers and may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors next week." The move comes less than a month after the SAS cut short its season to save money and allow its board a chance to attempt to keep the organization afloat. Prior to the shutdown, symphony musicians had agreed to be paid late, or not at all, for several weeks in an effort to rally the community around the embattled ensemble. San Antonio Express-News 05/31/03

Warland Singers To Disband "The Dale Warland Singers, a bedrock of Twin Cities culture for three decades and regarded among America's most influential choirs, will no longer perform after the group's namesake steps down as director following the 2003-04 season. Dale Warland, 71, told his singers Thursday night he is leaving the group, which he formed in 1972, to concentrate on teaching and guest-conducting opportunities around the country and spend more time with family. The singers, who had long braced themselves for Warland's inevitable departure, were stunned to learn the choir is disbanding." Saint Paul Pioneer Press 05/31/03

Next Stop For Louisville May Be Bankruptcy The musicians of the Louisville Orchestra have rejected a management proposal which included wage cuts and a shorter season, and the orchestra says it may file for bankruptcy as early as next week. "The orchestra has approximately $1.3 million in bank debt, with $800,000 of that past due and the balance due early next week," according to its board chairman, who also points out that the ensemble's staff and conductors have taken a 10% pay cut, which is larger than that being asked of the musicians. The musicians claim that they have made many concessions over the last decade in an effort to help the organization financially. Louisville Courier-Journal 05/30/03

  • A Potential Windfall, But With A Catch "The Fund for the Arts has committed $900,000 in special support to the financially strapped Louisville Orchestra over the next two years, but only if the orchestra produces a balanced budget for that period. The orchestra continues to say it can't balance the budget without substantial concessions from its musicians." Louisville Courier-Journal 05/29/03

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