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Friday August 30

KIDS' PLAY: "For the past seven years, pop has ruled the singles chart so convincingly that record companies appear to have abandoned trying to sell singles to adults altogether." The sweet spot in the market is the tweenies - pre-teens who are changing the way music is sold. "They prefer singles to albums partly because of limited funds, partly because even they can tell most albums by pop artists simply aren't very good: they're packed with filler tracks that lack the direct appeal of their singles. The result is a schism in the charts. In 2001, the year's best-selling singles were recorded by very different artists from those who made the year's best-selling albums." The Guardian (UK) 08/30/02

MUSICAL CHAIRS: How do you fit subscribers from a hall that seats 3100 into one that seats 2,300? If you're the Los Angeles Philharmonic, allocating seats in its new $274 million Disney Hall will be determined by "seniority, money and volunteer work. The task of appeasing 27,000 priority-seeking subscription-holders in clout-conscious Los Angeles stands as a challenge in human engineering to rival the mathematics behind architect Frank Gehry's tilting, soaring wall panels." Los Angeles Times 08/30/02

THE NEW BERLIN: Conductor Simon Rattle takes over direction of the Berlin Philharmonic next week. And already he's sending strong signals that he plans to shake things up and revitalize a decidedly traditional institution. "A lot of our work is as much urban regeneration as anything else. If you believe that in any sense music is a moral force then part of our job is to help to deal with the state of the city. This is, after all, the most famous divided city in the world apart from Jerusalem." The Guardian (UK) 08/30/02

  • STAR AWAY FROM HOME: Rattle is an unprepossessing star with few star trappings. Despite his harsh words last week about culture in Britain he says "I am English to the soles of my feet, but I accept that, for the foreseeable future, most of my musical life will be in Central Europe." London Evening Standard 08/29/02
  • Previously: RATTLE SOUNDS OFF: Conductor Simon Rattle has sounded off about British culture in an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit. "About to take up his post as director of the Berlin Philharmonic, [Rattle] has had it with the caterwauling crudities and street-trash vulgarities of British culture. He much prefers the high cultural seriousness of Germany with its great, well-funded orchestras and modernist-minded public. Finally he will be free of those Hogarthian urchins and sluts he singles out as the image of all that is philistine and glib in the arts in Britain - the Britart generation, "artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and the others. I believe that much of this English, very biographically oriented art is bullshit." The Guardian (UK) 08/26/02

BETTER - BUT AT WHAT COST? What's that? A new music format? So good it'll revolutionize the way you listen? "To many people, word that the music industry is launching a newer, shinier music disc when they have only just mastered opening a double-CD jewel case without the contents braining the cat, is not a cause of unalloyed joy. The sound is 3D, thrilling and — of course — thoroughly depressing." The Times (UK) 08/30/02

Thursday August 29

THE UNMAKING OF EMI: Poor CD sales and probable liability in a lawsuit caused shares of recording giant EMI to plunge this week. The company's stock price has fallen so low it's about to get knock off an important stock index. "Analysts reckon EMI needs to increase its share of the global music market by at least 14% to avoid missing its target. Given that its slice of the US music market is falling, that looks a tall order." The Guardian (U&K) 08/29/02

CHARISMA FAILURE: It seems almost inexplicable that the human race, with its ravenous appetite for entertainment, should have failed over quarter of a century to produce another Callas and Elvis. Neither Pavarotti nor Madonna come close, nor ever will. The desperate efforts of a universal music industry have yielded nothing more enduring than Cecilia Bartoli, the mini-voiced mezzo who tops the opera charts, and the high-kicking, faintly archaic Kylie Minogue, who belongs more to the smiley era of the Andrews Sisters than to the grim virtual reality of Bill Gates." London Evening Standard 08/28/02

TONE DEAF REMEMBRANCE: Songwriters so far haven't been very eloquent around the subject of 9/11. Many have tried, and "it's understandable that successful songwriters (as well as scores of aspiring ones) feel compelled to express themselves in a time of trauma. They have been blessed with the ability to communicate and feel it is their duty to make music, the same way a firefighter feels it's his or her duty to go into a burning building. In the process, it is easy to lose artistic discipline and judgment. The biggest mistake is trying to write an anthem that addresses the topic head-on rather than with a poetic distance." Los Angeles Times 08/28/02

A NEW MUSIC FORMAT: The recording industry has a new digital format for you to buy. "Unlike a CD, the format will greatly restrict your ability to make digital copies. It will cost more than a prerecorded CD. And it will require you to invest a few hundred dollars in a new player." Think it'll take off? The New York Times 08/29/02

Wednesday August 28

BAD NEWS FOR CLASSICAL MUSIC: A new study of UK and US music habits "found that concert attendances by British people under 47 had plummeted since 1990. Young audiences 'distrusted' cultural institutions, including orchestras, which they perceive as 'authoritarian'. The report found that over one third of British people had attended a classical concert, and only 12% did so in the past year. This was a sharper fall-off rate than theatre, visual arts or festivals, suggesting people who went into a concert hall did not like what they found and did not go back." The Guardian (UK) 08/28/02

NO-SHOWS IN ISRAEL BECOMING EPIDEMIC: With the violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories continuing to escalate, more and more performers are cancelling planned appearances in the country. In particular, Israeli orchestras are bracing for a slew of cancellations this fall from major international soloists, and hoping that their organizations can survive the financial hit such no-shows will induce. Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv) 08/27/02

TROUBLE IN SOUTH TEXAS: The San Antonio Symphony has never been a model of fiscal responsibility. Faced with years of high deficits and unbalanced budgets, the orchestra chose to liquidate its own endowment and rely on corporate and donor bailouts on a year-to-year basis rather than strive for meaningful change in its business plan. Now, the numbers crunch has reached crisis stage, and there is some doubt as to whether the SAS will even be able to have a 2002-03 season. San Antonio Express-News 08/27/02

THERE HAVE BEEN STRANGER LIBRETTOS: The sudden death of Princess Diana may not seem like the perfect subject for a fully staged opera, but that's exactly what composer Johnathan Dove has made of it. Even more surprisingly, the made-for-TV opera, which premieres this weekend on a cable network, is pretty good stuff, according to Olin Chism. "Mr. Dove's music is tonal and unusually attractive without being simplistic. His use of the orchestra is highly effective, giving added point to many dramatic scenes. A solid group of performers enhances the whole." Dallas Morning News 08/28/02

Tuesday August 27

I HEAR GHOSTS: TV show deadlines are so hectic, more and more composers are delegating work to ghostwriters. "It's definitely one of the dirty little secrets of the film and television music industry." But what happens when royalties are paid out? The composer listed on the credits gets paid, but not the ghostwriter, who often doesn't have a contract. Now a prolific ghost is suing, and the system of paying for TV music is under attack. Detroit Free Press 08/27/02

TROMBONE IN TROUBLE: So few students are taking up study of the trombone (and a few other unpopular instruments) that some experts say there will be a shortage of players in years to come. The British "government's youth music advisers are so concerned that they are preparing a national campaign to rescue the trombone and other 'endangered' instruments such as the bassoon and double bass, warning that British orchestras might soon have to look abroad for players." The Guardian (UK) 08/26/02

MUSIC SALES DOWN: Sales of CDs are down 7 percent in the first half of this year compared to last year says the Recording Industry Association of America. That, says the RIAA is evidence that internet filetrading is impacting music sales. "I would not argue that downloading and copying are the only factors at work. But we have clear evidence that downloading and copying do not have a favorable effect on record sales." Wired 08/26/02

  • PROPPING UP THE SKY: Recording companies have been whining for decades that each new technology that comes along will put them out of business. "Then they go about finding numbers to back up the claim. But the industry weathered similar downturns when the disco era came to an end - portable music devices like the Sony Walkman were introduced, and video arcades were competing for teenagers' limited cash reserves." Wired 08/27/02

WILLIAM WARFIELD, 82: Bass-baritone William Warfield, best known for his stirring performances of Porgy in Porgy and Bess, has died in Chicago, after complications due to a broken neck suffered last month. He was 82. The New York Times 08/27/02

MUSIC OF THE COSMOS: "For nearly four decades, University of Iowa astrophysicist Donald Gurnett has analyzed and interpreted the solar system's chirps, whistles and grunts, all captured during dozens of unmanned space flights by sophisticated radio receivers he invented in the early 1960s." Now composer Terry Riley has taken the recordings and incorporated them into his music. San Jose Mercury-News 08/27/02

Monday August 26

TOO MUCH MUSIC: This year some 7,000 commercial recordings will be released in the US. That's more than 140 new CDs a week. "Add thousands of albums released through independent labels, thousands from do-it-yourself acts, thousands of back catalogue re-issues and thousands more singles, EPs and mini-albums and it's evident we have entered the era of musical overload." How could anyone make sense of it all. How to find what's good out of this slush pile? Sydney Morning Herald 08/26/02

MAYBE FILE-TRADING MATTERS? Researcher Stan Liebowitz reported earlier this year that MP3 file downloading didn't seem to be making an impact on CD sales. Now he's not so sure. ",It is certainly not conclusive, by any means, that there's real damage going on from MP3s. It could be that we're having a bit of doldrums in terms of taste; it could be that we're all using CDs now and nothing else so since they're a little more durable than other formats that could be part of it. But it is at least beginning to look like there is damage being caused. But remember, the original story was that there's so much MP3 downloading going on so we should see a really big impact fairly easy. And now we're seeing a medium impact, which still could be explained by other things - but we can't discount the MP3 possibility." Salon 08/23/02

  • Previously: THE DOWNLOAD EFFECT? A prominent economics professor studying the effect of music downloading wonders why there isn't more of an impact on CD sales. Sure, sales were down a bit last year, and it could be explained by the recession. Estimates of downloads are five times greater than CD sales. Yet CD sales are only down 5 percent. Perhaps digital trading isn't hurting legit sales? Salon 06/13/02

CITY OPERA TO WTC SITE? New York City Opera, thwarted in its wish to have a new home of its own at Lincoln Center, is seriously considering a move to a site close to where the World Trade Center once stood. "The project, still in the early stages of formation, envisions City Opera as the anchor tenant of a cultural complex that would include other arts groups. In one configuration, the center would provide a 2,200-seat opera house and a 900-seat dance space. The project has attracted interest from the Joyce Theater, the Chelsea-based home of contemporary dance." The New York Times 08/24/02

CLEVELAND DEFICIT: The Cleveland Orchestra reports a $1.3 million deficit - its first in more than ten years. "The orchestra blames the shortfall primarily on declines in the stock market and sagging contributions from corporations. To prevent further erosion, the association is reducing expenses and delaying some programs, though largely without touching the orchestra's core activities." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 08/24/02

RATTLE SOUNDS OFF: Conductor Simon Rattle has sounded off about British culture in an interview with the German newspaper Die Zeit. "About to take up his post as director of the Berlin Philharmonic, [Rattle] has had it with the caterwauling crudities and street-trash vulgarities of British culture. He much prefers the high cultural seriousness of Germany with its great, well-funded orchestras and modernist-minded public. Finally he will be free of those Hogarthian urchins and sluts he singles out as the image of all that is philistine and glib in the arts in Britain - the Britart generation, "artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and the others. I believe that much of this English, very biographically oriented art is bullshit." The Guardian (UK) 08/26/02

Sunday August 25

RECIPE FOR REFORM: How does classical music - with its formal dress, gilded halls and stiff traditions, appeal to a less-formal world? "Of course, all the fine arts are elitist, if by that term we mean intellectual, complex, sophisticated. Although the fine arts can also be engrossing, visceral and deeply entertaining, you have to bring your brain to classical music, a requisite that makes it suspicious to some. America has always had an annoying strain of anti-intellectualism. When the perception of elitism keeps people away from high culture, it's a serious problem." Classical music has been experimenting - and needs to experiment more - with ways to draw listeners in. The New York Times 08/25/02

THE SMART SIDE OF CANCELING: Los Angeles Opera's cancellation of a Kirov production of Prokofiev's War and Peace for lack of money could be a sign of the company's inner turmoil. But perhaps not. "As I wrote at the end of last season, L.A. Opera has a reputation for chaos, and the upside of that may be an ability to think on its feet and turn on a dime. L.A. Opera's decision to import Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk from the Kirov in place of War and Peace is brilliant." Los Angeles Times 08/24/02

  • Previously: L.A. OPERA CANCELS VILAR-BACKED PRODUCTION: The Los Angeles Opera has canceled an ambitious $3 million production of Prokofiev's War and Peace after the cost of presenting the Kirov Opera production rose by $600,000 more than expected. Patron Alberto Vilar had pledged $1 million for the production, but when the company asked him to kick in the extra money and move up the payment on his $1 million gift, he declined. So the production was canceled and replaced by Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Los Angeles Times 08/23/02

TOO MUCH PERCUSSION: Composer Ned Rorem has always been an outspoken contrarian. As he turns 80, none of that public persona has changed. "The quality of his recent output suggests that these pieces are likely to be those for which he's most remembered. Yet Rorem wonders if it matters: 'I feel we've got about 10 more years and the whole world will blow up,' he said one recent afternoon, sitting in a park here. 'Or at best, we'll end up loving each other in the most mediocre way, and the music you and I like will be in the remote past'." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/25/02

Friday August 23

L.A. OPERA CANCELS VILAR-BACKED PRODUCTION: The Los Angeles Opera has canceled an ambitious $3 million production of Prokofiev's War and Peace after the cost of presenting the Kirov Opera production rose by $600,000 more than expected. Patron Alberto Vilar had pledged $1 million for the production, but when the company asked him to kick in the extra money and move up the payment on his $1 million gift, he declined. So the production was canceled and replaced by Shostakovich's Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. Los Angeles Times 08/23/02

SOMEONE LIKE PUTIN: A song about Russian President Vladimir Putin is getting massive airplay in Moscow. But the band that recorded it doesn't seem to exist, and there's no recording of the song for sale in stores. Someone Like Putin, by a band called Singing Together, "features a female lead singer complaining that her adolescent boyfriend fights and drinks. So she leaves him and looks for someone else: someone like Putin. A search of Moscow's record shops, markets and kiosks failed to turn up CDs or cassettes of the song. There have been no videos, concerts, or articles in the music press about the band." Ottawa Citizen 08/23/02

ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA TO REMAIN FULL TIME: Opera lovers have been angry about rumours that the English National Opera company was "considering plans to shut down for 16 months, make many of its staff redundant and use its Coliseum theatre in Covent Garden, central London only part-time." But this week the companies directors declared they're committed to keeping the ENO fulltime." BBC 08/23/02

FLOOD REFUNDS: "Dresden's flooded Semper opera house is refunding 150,000 tickets because its new season has been delayed by repairs." The historic building was one of many damaged in the floods of the past week. BBC 08/23/02

MUSICAL TRIBUTE FOR 9/11: NBC will televise an official musical commemoration of 9/11 from the Kennedy Center. "The network, which is airing the special commemoration, said that Placido Domingo, Aretha Franklin, Renee Fleming, Alan Jackson, Enrique Iglesias, Al Green, Gloria Estefan and Josh Groban have been signed for the event. The National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, will also participate, and more performers are expected to be added to the lineup." Washington Post 08/22/02

COVENT GARDEN'S NEW MAN: Forty-two-year-old Anthony Pappano debuts as director of London's Royal Opera on Sept. 6. On first encounter, writes Hugh Canning, his "frankness and honesty were certainly a breath of fresh air for journalists used to stonewalling and party lines from previous Royal Opera supremos. (Haitink rarely said anything at press conferences, but looked almost permanently glum, to the point that such encounters with the newshounds either took place in his absence or were dropped altogether in favor of a general press release in his later years at Covent Garden)." Andante 08/22/02

Thursday August 22

RECORDING COMPANIES ON THE ATTACK: Major recording companies ask a US federal court to force ISP Verizon to turn over information about one of the company's customers. The recording industry believes the customer is trading copyrighted music files. So far, Verizon refuses to turn over the information. "Verizon finds itself on a slippery slope. ISPs promise users to protect their identities, but entertainment companies are increasingly putting pressure on Congress and the Justice Department to crack down on people illegally sharing songs and movies." Wired 08/21/02

  • COUNTERFEIT CD BUST:Philippine police seize counterfeit CDs worth $20 million. "The US has put pressure on countries like the Philippines to crack down on gangs running pirate operations, saying more investment and technology would be attracted if they did. Fake music CDs sell on the streets of Manila for between $0.40 (25p) and $1.20 (80p) each." BBC 08/21/02

NEWTON VS. THE BEASTIE BOYS: Flutist James Newton found out the Beastie Boys had used a 6-second sample of his playing on a recording without paying him - or even letting him know. He sued and lost - the law says only that the composer and the original record label must give their permission for a sample, not the performer. "Composers are nervously keeping an eye on the case, wondering what kind of precedent it will set if the ruling is upheld." Washington Post 08/22/02

VOLUME MISCOUNT: Are today's orchestras too loud? "Orchestras have become much, much louder since the 18th century. And the process has gathered pace dramatically since the Second World War. We have reached the point where brass instruments exceed permitted industrial noise levels. Orchestral players are advised, or instructed, to wear earplugs, and with good reason. Musicians are being deafened by music. It is an absurd situation." London Evening Standard 08/21/02

PROJECTION OPERA: La Scala has decided to project highlights of its productions on a giant screen on the piazza outside the La Scala Opera House while the company is performing in a temporary home. The plans to screen the performances come after retailers around the opera house said they were losing money now that tourists and opera fans have followed the company to its new home while the La Scala building is been renovated. "Officials decided that viewers probably wouldn't want to stand outside to see the lengthy operas from beginning to end." NJ Online (AP) 08/22/02

MUCH ABOUT MARLBORO: The Marlboro Music Festival is more about rehearsing than performing. Performing is a by-product of the summer. "Where else could a string quartet prepare a work for six weeks - and only then decide whether it's good enough to put in front of an audience?" This is a place where distinguished musicians and promising newcomers mix and match. Marlboro must do something right - "Yo-Yo Ma said Marlboro is where he decided to become a musician." Alumni include some of the world's most distinguished musicians. Philadelphia Inquirer 08/22/02

Wednesday August 21

DON'T BLAME THE CUSTOMER: Recording companies are blaming file trading for a downturn in CD sales. "Yet there are many other causes, including the fact that the big five are all units of troubled multinationals—AOL Time Warner, Vivendi Universal, BMG, EMI, and Sony—that are focused on short-term gain and have no particular interest in the music biz. There's also been a recession, of course, and resistance to CD prices that have grown much faster than the inflation rate. Perhaps the most important factor, however, is the major labels' very success in dominating the market, which has squelched musical innovation." Slate 08/21/02

  • KILLING THE MESSENGER (ISP)? Major recording companies are trying to fight a file-trading internet site based in China that allows visitors to download thousands of music tracks. They can't identify the owner of the site, so they're trying to stop American internet service providers from allowing their users to access the site. The Guardian (UK) 08/20/02

ENTERTAININGLY OUTRAGEOUS: One of the hottest shows at this year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival is Jerry Springer: The Opera. Critics love it, and crowds line up each night to buy tickets. The show "features a chorus line of dancing Ku Klux Klansmen and an all-singing cast of adulterous spouses, strippers, crack addicts and transsexuals. 'You think it's going to be some sort of knockabout burlesque, but it starts to affect you emotionally'." Nando Times (AP) 08/20/02

CLONE ME AN OPERA: San Francisco Opera has a plan to encourage non-traditional storylines as subjects for opera. One "recently commissioned one-act opera follows the exploits of a scientist who clones herself three times and also genetically engineers a human to incorporate the best genes from every animal on Earth." Wired 08/20/02


MELBOURNE'S OPERA BLUES: Opera in Melbourne has sunk to a sorry state. "The past six years have seen the state opera company sink in a financial quagmire, and the new Opera Australia focus its performance schedule on Sydney, denying Melbourne the international superstars it brings to the Opera House stage." Going a traditional route doesn't seem viable - so maybe a fresh vision is needed for Melbourne opera. The Age (Melbourne) 08/21/02

Tuesday August 20

STILL DON'T TRUST THE SUITS: The story of the band Wilco and how its new recording was rejected by record label execs for "commercial" reasons then picked up by another label, has been portrayed as an example of evil corporatization. Actually it's not, but it is an example of what's wrong with the recording business today. Slate 08/19/02

AUSSIE DOLLAR ACTS: Expensive international big-name music acts are canceling out of dates in Australia because of the weak Australian dollar. But that's opened up opportunities for mid-level Aussie bands, who are filling the gaps. Sydney Morning Herald 08/20/02

INFLICTING MUSIC: Cambridge scientists drugged mice in an experiment - injecting half with salt, the other half with methamphetamine, then blasted loud music at them to gauge their reaction. "The music was either from dance act The Prodigy or Bach's Violin Concerto in A Minor, both of which have a similar tempo. Animals injected with salt fell asleep with the music. But the sound dramatically affected the drugged mice, causing them to suffer more speed-induced brain damage than normal. They appeared to 'jiggle backwards and forwards' as the music pounded in their ears." The researchers have been reprimanded for cruelty to animals. Sydney Morning Herald 08/20/02

Monday August 19

CAPTURED BY THE MUSIC: Background music is everywhere. But who picks it? And why? "What started out as a simple idea — spend a day actually listening to the music that plays in shops, restaurants and bars — has plunged me into a strange and complex netherworld of secretly encoded CDs, shadowy music programmers, involuntary behavioural modification and ruthless record company promotion. In addition, the unceasing soundtrack of light, R&B-influenced pop and mild-mannered rock is sending me slightly barmy." The Age (Melbourne) 08/18/02

MUSIC LABELS ON THE ATTACK: Major recording companies have escalated their war against music file traders. A group of major record labels have sued internet service providers to block access to a website they claim allows people to copy music. It demanded that internet providers including AT&T, Cable & Wireless, Sprint and WorldCom block access to Listen4ever.com." BBC 08/18/02

MORE SHOWBIZ THAN MUSIC: Music critic John von Rhein despairs of some of the lapses in musical taste he has heard recently. "This nation really does appear to be suffering from a musical illiteracy greater than at any time in the three decades I have been attending concerts. That illiteracy can be observed on both sides of the stage and flourishes most insidiously in the citadels of managerial power. The classical music business, faced with a famously shrinking and aging public as well as a diminished pool of bankable superstars, has been slowly turning serious music into just another branch of show biz." Chicago Tribune 08/18/02

COLOR BIND: The reasons why there are so few African-American musicians in symphony orchestras are complicated. "Many African-American musicians vehemently defend blind auditions, arguing that selection for orchestra positions should always be based on musical merit rather than skin color. But the pool of African-American musicians auditioning for orchestra jobs is small, smaller than it should be, according to some classical music insiders. Is it a matter of fewer talented players or the fact that talented players don't feel welcome in American orchestras?" Chicago Sun-Times 08/1/02

MISSING YOU ALREADY: When Disney Hall opens next year in Los Angeles and the LA Philharmonic moves out, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, orchestra's current home will lose hundreds of concert bookings. To stay solvent, the hall is having to become a presenter of performances rather than a building caretaker. It's not such an easy challenge. Los Angeles Times 08/18/02

OPERA COMPANIES MERGE: Since the mid-90s The Triangle area of North Carolina has had dueling opera companies. But the Opera Company of North Carolina and Triangle Opera have struggled to win the divided affections of their fans. Now the companies have finally agreed to a merger. Raleigh News & Observer 08/18/02

Sunday August 18

POWER PLAYS: The backstage power struggles at Bayreuth have been every bit as operatic as the drama onstage, as various members of the Wagner family grappled for control. But "more than half a century after the reopening of denazified Bayreuth, the noise - and significance - of the internecine Wagner family rows is at last beginning to fade. It is high time that the festival was now judged for what it is, rather than what it was or what it might have been. In particular, this applies to the role of the festival director Wolfgang Wagner. Admittedly this is not easy." The Guardian (UK) 08/17/02

FINDING A HALL MARK: Back in the 1980s, the building of Roy Thomson Hall for the Toronto Symphony was seen as the city's bid to join the big leagues of concert life. It didn't turn out that way, and after decades of complaining about acoustics, the hall has been redesigned. But the decision to pointedly exclude original architect Arthur Erickson from the redesign has been controversial. And suspense about how the sound will turn out is high. Globe Mail (Canada) 08/17/02

Friday August 16

DI-AS-OPERA: The story of Princess Di certainly has the drama of an opera. But will it work as one? TV viewers will soon find out. "I suppose this Diana piece is a kind of community opera manque. It was the response of people who turned out in Kensington Gardens which really intrigued me, its mythical possibilities. That's what I wanted to express. I realised I could write a huge lament for them to sing, and that appealed. I've always had an interest in finding the operatic in everyday occurrences. Life is operatic. Not that the death of Diana was in any sense ordinary, of course." London Evening Standard 08/15/02

STYLE BREAK: Orchestra musicians have dressed the way they do for centuries. But some European orchestras are wondering about making a change. "Many orchestras are concerned that tails are dated and may put off new audiences; meanwhile, some are concerned that change could alienate the longtime audiences who are accustomed to the tails-for-men-and-long-black-for-women look." Andante 08/16/02

PIPE DREAMS: The organ for Los Angeles' new cathedral took five years to build and cost $2 million. "You buy an organ at great risk. It's too early to tell the final result, but the imagination and skill that have gone into it have been the highest caliber. This instrument really does become a new interpretation of what the ideal organ can be." Los Angeles Times 08/16/02

Thursday August 15

CLASSIC SUCCESS STORY: In America, classical music radio stations may be a losing proposition. But in Britain, 10-year-old Classic FM is "the biggest radio success story of the decade, and their unashamedly populist approach has seen audiences soar to 6.8 million - a 360,000 increase on last year. Audiences now outstrip Radio 1, Kiss and Virgin, and with a revenue increase of 23 per cent, they are celebrating their anniversary with a clutch of new signings." The Scotsman 08/14/02

GETTIN' REAL WITH THE ROUGH STUFF: "In both rock and country, the axiom (right or wrong) has been that the rough stuff is the source of innovation: Rawness is truth, violence is strength, stripped-down is honest. When things get too squishy, the most demanding part of the audience starts to squirm and, as legend has it, the young punks and outlaws provide a reality check. That same set of reflexive values has been superimposed on hip-hop in the past 20 years: 'Keeping it real' means keeping it on 'street' level, and the streets, don't you know, are mean and murderous." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/15/02

TEACHING YOUR OWN: Irish composer Mícheál O Súilleabháin argues that supporting local cultural traditions over global blandness pays big dividends. "I say that out of my own experience in Irish educational circles over the past 25 years, when we’ve seen that the integration of traditional music within school curricula, and particularly within higher education, has had a significant knock-on effect in terms of rebalancing cultural forces in Ireland." The Scotsman 08/14/02

TOO MANY OTHER THINGS... A survey of music consumers suggests that downloading music is not to blame for a recent downturn in music sales. "Increased competition for consumer entertainment dollars - from video games, cable television and home theatres - was more responsible for the slump." Sydney Morning Herald (AFP) 08/15/02

ALBERTO IN LOVE: Alberto Vilar has given $250 million to the arts, and his passion for opera projects is high. But after a difficult surgery and a new fiancee, "he looks on the arts now with a warier eye and to his own happiness as a higher priority." Will marriage slow down his gifts to favored music projects? London Evening Standard 08/14/02

Wednesday August 14

THE OPERATIC MAGGIE: The new opera about Princess Di just doesn't work. But then, few operas on contemporary themes are successful. Rupert Christiansen has an idea though: "My advice to any composer who wants to tackle a subject with "contemporary relevance" would be to think big and Verdian (Rigoletto, Don Carlos). [John Adams'] Nixon in China works because the characters and situation were already larger than life, and it never tries to be ordinarily real. I have a specific suggestion to offer. A composer with Donizetti's dash and vigour should tackle my idea for a grand opera based on the fall of Margaret Thatcher." The Telegraph (UK) 08/14/02

WRESTLING FOR THE SOUL OF ENGLISH OPERA: Nicholas Payne's ousting from the directorship of the English National Opera puts into question the future of the company's adventurousness. But more than that, Payne's ouster was a boardroom putsch engineered by the company's chairman, who has more than a few ideas of his own about the artistic future. But will ENO become just a pale carbon copy of Britain's other opera companies? The Spectator 08/10/02

VIDEO GAMES - THAT'S WHERE THE MONEY IS: "For years, record companies considered licensing their music to video games as a meager but steady source of cash. But as sales of video games rival Hollywood box office receipts, the music industry is taking notice. Labels now view games - with a dedicated fan base of young, affluent players - as launching pads for up-and-coming artists." Nando Times (AP) 08/13/02

Tuesday August 13

MUSIC SALES DOWN: Sales of recorded music in the UK were down sharply in the second quarter of this year. "The British industry had been outperforming many other international markets, bucking the trend of declining sales for the first quarter of 2002 with a 5% increase. But the second quarter has seen a sharp decrease in sales of CDs, cassettes and LPs on the previous year." The industry blames music fans preoccupation with the Queen's Jubilee and the World Cup. BBC 08/13/02

THE "UN"-INDUSTRY: Labeling an artform such as jazz an "industry" does a disservice to the art. Industries work to become efficient, where jazz is a product of experimentation and inspiration. "A fundamental assumption of industrial culture, it seems to me, is that success is not a function of individual personalities on the front line, but of the way individuals are managed from upstairs: selected, trained, assigned to the area in which their talents are best suited, inspired by the company vision statement and provided with the proper feedback to maximize performance. Inspired musicians are not amenable to this approach." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/13/02

ONE MORE TIME - FROM THE TOP... Funny - they call is the "science" of acoustics. But if it was so scientific, why are there all these modern concert halls in which you can't hear? Toronto's Roy Thomson Hall (home of the Toronto Symphony) is about to reopen after an acoustical makeover that took six months. The hall is famous for its poor sound - "the sweeping changes to canopies, seating and bulkheads come with a $20-million price tag. Here's how the concert hall plans to refresh its sound..." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/13/02

BRIT MUSICIANS' PLAN TO GET BACK ON TOP: There was a time - the 60s and 70s come to mind - when British music dominated the US pop charts. No longer. "After 10 lean years in the U.S., the industry here is proposing extraordinary measures to restore its stateside standing. Essentially, by early next year it wants to establish a rock and pop embassy-cum-trade mission in New York to be called the United Kingdom Music Office." Los Angeles Times 08/13/02

FIRST YOU HAVE TO DEFINE IT: Is cabaret dying? Who can tell? These days it's difficult to even define what cabaret is. "Cabaret has moved away from the clatter of cutlery in smoky rooms. These days, this highly personal art form is to be found in theatres and even art galleries." The Times (UK) 08/13/02

THE MUSICIANS' MUSICIAN: "Mariss Jansons may not be the most famous maestro on the block. For one thing, his career progression — from Riga to Munich via hard-slog jobs in Cardiff, Oslo and Pittsburgh — suggests a man almost pathologically averse to basking in the limelight of the world’s top musical capitals. But Jansons, who turns 60 next year, is surely the 'musicians’ musician', par excellence. Orchestras revere him for three reasons. He is genuine. He is genial. And he is a genius." The Times (UK) 08/13/02

Monday August 12

LATEST/GREATEST (GOTTA HAVE IT): The recording industry is trying to sell consumers on upgrading their CD collections with a new DVD format that promises better sound. "But the new discs are also part of a wider anti-piracy plan by the record companies over the next 10 years to get rid of CDs completely, industry insiders say." The Independent (UK) 08/10/02

COMPLEAT ME: The collector's need to own a complete set of (fill-in-the-blank) is a compelling one. New multi-disk sets of the complete works of composers are on the market, even as the accessibility of even the most obscure music is made possible over the internet. "For most listeners, these (disks) will not exactly be casual investments. Still, when you consider the cost of two top tickets to the symphony or the opera nowadays, they are hardly exorbitant -- and you will be able to play the discs endlessly. Moreover, these are not cheapo performances recorded with no-name, nonunion orchestras in obscure Eastern European cities, but celebrated, albeit somewhat older, interpretations by some of the 20th century's leading artists." Washington Post 08/11/02

US LAWMAKERS URGE SWAPPER PROSECUTION: Members of the US Congress are increasing pressure on the Justice Department to more vigorously prosecute file-traders. "The Justice Department should also devote more resources to policing online copyrights, the lawmakers said in their letter. 'Such an effort is increasingly important as online theft of our nation's creative works is a growing threat to our culture and economy'." Wired 08/11/02

TOO MUCH FREEDOM? "Like no other director before him, Harry Kupfer, who turns 67 next month, dominated the Berlin opera scene for decades. (Even today, there are still 30 of his stagings in the repertoires of the Komische Oper and the Staatsoper.) But Kupfer was more than just a successful opera director. The story of his rise and fall is also the story of a changing Berlin, an example of the way repressive governments can ironically infuse art with expressive possibility, and a cautionary tale of what can happen when a director overindulges in hard-won artistic freedom." Andante 08/11/02

Sunday August 11

SHELL GAME: The Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl want to replace the acoustic shell at the Bowl with one that's acoustically superior. But preservationists have fought hard to keep the 73-year-old landmark from being taken down. Now the case has been taken to court, and replacement plans have been put on hold for at least another season. Los Angeles Times 08/10/02

Friday August 9

GOING FOR A YOUNGER AUDIENCE: Edinburgh Festival director Brian McMaster has observed that concerts that sell out in advance attract mostly an older audience. Why? Because many younger ticket-buyers buy tickets at the last minute. And they buy cheaper tickets. So this summer's Edinburgh Festival offers a late night series with top performers - Alfred Brendel, Andras Schiff and the Hilliard Ensemble - and all tickets are priced at £5. "What I hope they will do is come to something that they wouldn't otherwise come to, because it's so cheap. I always tell them, come and hear John Adams, or whatever - something that they'd normally stay away from. If we can widen people's tastes, that's equally important." The Telegraph (UK) 08/09/02

THE SENSATIONAL PRINCESS DI: An opera for TV about Princess Di has "perhaps unsurprisingly, already proved controversial. Earlier in the year, a headline in the Daily Mail barked: 'Sick opera to mark five years since Diana's death.' (The paper was referring to an episode in the piece where Ryan, who is obsessed with the princess, employs a prostitute to dress up as her, then strips her and performs a bizarre ritual over her naked body.) 'It would be sad if people got the impression it was a sensational piece and therefore didn't watch it'." The Guardian (UK) 08/09/02

MUSIC FROM ABOVE: Are music lovers willing to pay for a higher service of radio? Two satellite radio companies hope so. "So far, tens of thousands have, indeed, proven willing. XM reports that it has 137,000 subscribers and expects the number to reach 350,000 by year's end. By 2004 or 2005, it is expecting to have four million customers, which will allow it to break even. Sirius says 60,000 car stereos equipped to receive its signal have reached the market, and it also projects strong growth." Andante 08/08/02

Thursday August 8

ORCHESTRAS - TOO INGROWN TO THRIVE? The Chicago Symphony only recently admitted its first African American member. But the rest of the orchestra world is no better at diversity. But the problem isn't simply racism (or sexism). "When all is said and done, there is a problem, and it lies in the very nature of the symphonic orchestra, an organism that was formed at the onset of industrial revolution and has resolutely resisted egalitarianism, electronics and multicultural values. The symphony orchestra simply bypassed the 20th century. If it wants to survive the 21st, it will need to reform from the heart - not by admitting a token outsider or staging a free concert for the poor, but by opening itself to the spirit of the times and engaging with the things that really matter." London Evening Standard 08/06/02

BILLIONAIRE FIGHT! BILLIONAIRE FIGHT! The world's largest media company is being sued by one of the world's largest recording companies in the continuing fight to insure that record companies are paid for every tiny little snippet of music ever played, performed, or broadcast anywhere in the universe. The details honestly aren't that crucial, but it's EMI doing the suing and AOL Time Warner playing against type as the plucky underdog being sued. At issue are a couple of in-house ads running on Time Warner cable networks. BBC 08/08/02

THE ULTIMATE MOM-AND-POP OPERATION: When Itzhak Perlman and his wife Toby created their little music camp in upstate New York less than a decade ago, much of the music world was skeptical. After all, would a man of Perlman's fame really be able to effectively relate to children in a rural summer setting? Would the camp be a real academy of learning, or just a chance to rub elbows with the world's most famous violinist? As it turns out, Itzhak and Toby have thrown themselves into the running of the camp, and Shelter Island has quickly become one of the most successful music camps in America, not so much for the intensive nature of the musical study, but for the enthusiasm for life that the Perlmans' campers seem to carry away with them. The New York Times 08/08/02

LISTEN, YOU CAN HEAR THE CRITICS SALIVATING: "Vittorio Sgarbi, who was fired one month ago from his position as deputy minister for cultural heritage in Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government, announced on 1 August that he plans to extend his fledgling career as an operatic director and declared himself available for new engagements." No truth to the related rumor that an inspired John Ashcroft will resign from his attorney general's chair to join the cast of The Producers. Andante 08/08/02

THE PIANIST WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING: Robert Levin may just be the most well-rounded musician in the world. He is 54 years old, and to date, he has been a professor at Harvard, an international music lecturer, one of the world's preeminent early music scholars, an accomplished performer of music from all eras, and the author of a new completion of Mozart's unfinished Requiem which many consider far superior to the original. Why such dizzying diversity? "If you are a chef, and everything you serve — French, Italian, Thai — tastes the same, you probably aren't a very good chef," he says. The New York Times 08/08/02

Wednesday August 7

BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF THE MUSIC BIZ: "Record and radio insiders report that several major record companies have quietly introduced new payment schemes for the influential middlemen known as independent promoters, or indies, who peddle songs to radio. Concerned about the runaway costs of indie promotion, which by some estimates costs the music industry more than $150 million annually, label executives say they're determined to return some fiscal sanity to a process that to most outsiders does not appear sane." Salon 08/07/02

CHANGES AFOOT IN CHICAGO: The longtime top man at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is stepping down from his position at the end of next season. Henry Fogel, who became CSO executive director in 1985, insists that he is not being forced out, but concerns are running high in Chicago about the orchestra's massive operating deficit. Fogel was the occasionally controversial executive behind the renovation of the CSO's Orchestra Hall and the hiring of Daniel Barenboim as its music director, as well as holding the chairmanship of the American Symphony Orchestra League. Chicago Tribune 08/06/02

TOKYO TRIES FOR A COMEBACK: The Tokyo String Quartet has not been the same since the departure of first violinist Peter Oundjian in 1995. Internal squabbles, lukewarm reviews, and general fatigue have contributed to the quartet's difficulties in the fickle and fast-changing world of chamber music. But the Tokyo has a new first violinist who is generating buzz, in large part for his inexperience in the international arena, and rumor has it that the Tokyo may be on its way back into the upper echelons of string quartets. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 08/07/02

BUCKING TRADITION IN KC: It's not likely to make orchestra purists happy, but the Kansas City Symphony is looking for ways to add visual and technological aspects to its performances. The KCS's executive director came up with the idea, and has been scouring the country for technology providers and donors who can assist the orchestra in discovering new concert hall techniques without distracting too much from the music. Kansas City Business Journal 08/02/02

TRASH-TALKIN' OPERA: The must-see event at this summer's Edinburgh Fringe? Why, it's Jerry Springer: The Opera. The show's a hit, with a bright future in front of it. "I love its violent marriage of high and low culture. To hear the kind of vulgar chaos of Jerry Springer submitted to the disciplines of classical opera results in more than the sum of those two halves." The Telegraph (UK) 08/07/02

MORE ORCHESTRA DEBT: Some days, you can't throw a piccolo without hitting a symphony orchestra slipping deep into debt. The latest ensemble to announce a major deficit is the Fort Lauderdale-based Florida Philharmonic, which is reporting a $500,000 deficit for the current fiscal year, and $2.9 million of overall debt. Still, the numbers weren't as bad as expected, and staff layoffs and cost-cutting measures are expected to lead to better days ahead. Miami Herald 08/06/02

PREVIN/MUTTER: Conductor Andre Previn and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter have married; it's Previn's fifth marriage, Mutter's second. "The couple, despite their differences in age - he is 72 and she is 39 - have become inseparable over recent months after her performance in Boston of The Previn Violin Concerto, which he composed for her." The Telegraph (UK) 08/06/02

Tuesday August 6

LIVE ON TAPE... A "live" recording of Simon Rattle's performance last fall of Schoenberg's two-hour cantata, Gurrelieder with the Berlin Philharmonic turns out not to be so live after all. After the performance, one of the singers was removed from the recording and replaced with another in the studio. Why? It's a marketing thing, but is it honest? Is it artistically defensible? The New York Times 08/04/02

LEARNING ABOUT PUNK: "After a quarter century, and a zeitgeist shift or two, the phenomenon of punk has entered the twilight zone between popular culture and social history. The subject of documentaries on MTV and VH-1 (and at least one deluxe coffee-table book), the early punk scene has also drawn the attention of scholars trying to understand its significance as "cultural practice." But don't assume that this is some new surge of nostalgia, with footnotes as camouflage. Punk and academe have a long history together." Chronicle of Higher Education 08/02/02

Monday August 5

WRONG ACCOUNT: "The contract filed by the record company at the time of a recording session is an important document, because it lists all the musicians on a session and serves as a record of how often a musician played, which determines his or her pension and royalty payments. But if no contract is filed, or the wrong names are used, or no names at all, musicians lose out on hundreds and thousands of dollars later. Situations like that, and the way record companies do business with artists and musicians in general, is under increasing scrutiny in today's post-Enron climate of growing public concern about accounting irregularities in big business." Detroit News 08/05/02

PUSHING TOO SOON: Conductor Richard Bonynge laments the way today's young opera singers are pushed. "He believes that singers today try to do too much, too early. 'Big beautiful voices are much harder to find today. Young singers might have great techniques, but their voices are much smaller than in the past. Everyone today has TV eyes. They want people who are good-looking and then they push them into things too quickly." The Age (Melbourne) 08/05/02

Sunday August 4

SETTLEMENT AT 'MOSTLY MOZART': "Lincoln Center has reached an agreement with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, ending the four-day strike that led to the cancellation of 17 of the festival's 27 programs, according to a joint statement released by Lincoln Center and Local 802, the New York musicians' union. The remaining concerts that were to have featured the orchestra will not be reinstated. But the union informed its members late Friday afternoon that pickets at the festival would end." Andante 08/03/02

  • A TALE OF TWO FESTIVALS: There may be more to the Mostly Mozart strike than meets the eye. Critics are increasingly of the opinion that the management of the festival is playing with the notion of firing players or even scrapping the idea of a full-time festival orchestra altogether. Meanwhile, while Mostly Mozart is diminishing its own profile with labor disputes and cancelled concerts, the increasingly diverse but always light-hearted Lincon Center Festival continues to raise its profile and elevate its already considerable reputation. Washington Post 08/04/02

STILL AFLOAT, BUT LISTING DANGEROUSLY: With the English National Opera furiously denying rumors of cutbacks and shutdowns at every turn, there is no small amount of panic surrounding the future of opera in the UK. The ENO is one of only a handful of companies in the world presenting classic operas in the local dialect (English, in this case,) and whether or not the rumors of crisis are completely true, there can be no doubt that the company is facing a very uncertain future in an age when opera is supposed to be making a comeback. The Guardian (UK) 08/03/02

CALL OFF THE FUNERAL: Everyone agrees that there is a glut of classical recordings out there, and that the classical corner of the recording industry is a shadow of its former self. But a closer examination of the business reveals signs of health: in the wake of slumping sales and plummeting public interest, classical artists are making a real effort to reinvent the way they make and market recordings. From orchestras with their own labels to cut-price companies like Naxos to soloists willing to take a chance on trying to draw the public in to new music, small victories abound, and may signal the reemergence of classical music as an important niche market. Boston Globe 08/04/02

  • BEBOP BUST: Classical recordings may be in trouble, but they are positively booming compared to jazz, which is rapidly becoming America's forgotten music. "The typical jazz CD, even one by a fairly well-known artist, sells about 3,000 copies. A disc that sells 10,000 is considered good business. If it sells 20,000, it is, in the scheme of things, a hit... There are no jazz stars today - no instrumental musician who can float a label. Even Wynton Marsalis, perhaps the most famous living jazz musician, doesn't sell many records; he doesn't even have a label." Boston Globe 08/04/02

THROUGH IT ALL, BAYREUTH STILL ALLURING: "The Bayreuth Festival, the annual month-long summer music festival dedicated exclusively to the works of German composer Richard Wagner, is an easy target for critics who attack it as elitist and artistically conservative. But for those lucky enough to get in, it is almost impossible not to fall under Bayreuth's spell and they find themselves drawn them back year after year to this otherwise sleepy provincial town in the hope of securing one of the hardest-to-come-by tickets in the opera world today." Nando Times (Agence France-Presse) 08/03/02

THE SIMPLE BEAUTY OF CHAMBER MUSIC: "They're not anti-orchestra, this seemingly growing group of ardent music followers. There's just something about chamber music that fills a place in the soul. Maybe even more so now that people seem to be looking for a personal connection - a dialogue, a one-on-one relationship - with the music. It's just easier to imagine yourself as protagonist as a lone violin outlines the musical narrative. You and a Haydn string quartet against the world. A whole orchestra? A little too much clamoring for your spirituality." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/04/02

FIRST AMONG EQUALS: There are between 55 and 65 string players in a full-size symphony orchestra, with 10-15 playing the same basic part at the same time in each section. So how important, really, can one violinist be? As a matter of fact, the concertmaster truly is the most important player in the orchestra, with responsibilities (and compensation) which far outstrips any other member of the ensemble. And from old taskmasters like Boston's Joseph Silverstein (retired) to young prodigies like National Symphony's Nurit Bar-Josef, the concertmaster has remained a vital force for leadership within the music world's most unwieldy group of players, the orchestra. Washington Post 08/04/02

EVERYTHING MUST GO! Are you the type who can't get enough opera? Do you swashbuckle around the house belting out arias from Don Giovanni, and frequently lament that your life includes far too few recitatives? Well, here's your chance to look, if not sound, the part: Britain's Royal Opera House is selling off its old costumes at mainly bargain-basement prices. Included in the sale are four decades of opera-specific costumes, and while it will certainly take some digging to find the true gems amidst the mounds of cloth and accessories, it's a good bet early birds will be able to score that full Brunhilde outfit they've always wanted. BBC 08/02/02

AT LEAST IT HAS A SINGABLE TUNE: A flap is developing in the Great White North over an attempt by a Canadian MP to change the words of the country's national anthem to be more gender-neutral. At issue is the line in 'O, Canada' which reads: "True patriot love in all thy sons command." A senator has introduced a measure to change 'sons' to 'youth,' sparking all manner of controversy. This week, Canada's Heritage Minister was warned to stay out of the debate by her government colleagues, with the biggest fear being that approval of the change would bring a rash of similar grievances from groups looking to strike such words as 'God' and 'native.' Ottawa Citizen 08/04/02

Friday August 2

A QUOTE BY ANY OTHER NAME... Bootlegs are the hottest thing in new music. "The debate over what bootlegs are and what they mean is taking place within the wider context of a culture where turntables now routinely outsell guitars, teenagers aspire to be Timbaland and the Automator, No. 1 singles rework or sample other records, and DJs have become pop stars in their own right, even surpassing in fame the very artists whose records they spin. Pop culture in general seems more and more remixed -- samples and references are permeating more and more of mainstream music, film, and television, and remix culture appears to resonate strongly with consumers. We're at the point where it almost seems unnatural not to quote, reference, or sample the world around us." Salon 08/01/02

THE UNDESIRABLES: American musicians are having a difficult time getting through the border to Canada to perform. And many are just deciding the hassle just isn't worth it. "Already, folk legend Willie Nelson has decided to stay south of the border. Soul singer Wilson (Wicked) Pickett cancelled his Canadian appearances following a three-hour grilling and strip search at a Canadian border last summer, during an apparent hunt for drugs." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/01/02

SEA CHANGE FOR UK OPERA? Why is the English opera world having such a fit over the forced resignation of Nicholas Payne at the English National Opera? Is it because his departure signals a backing away from a certain kind of adventurous opera? The Guardian (UK) 08/02/02

ANTI-VIBRATO MAN: Roger Norrington is on a campaign against vibrato in string instruments. "While Norrington thinks of expressive vibrato as a tiresome 20th-century affectation, certainly in 18th- and 19th-century repertoire, a good many listeners would still rather hear their music 'with' than 'without'. Why? 'It's partly fashion,' Norrington insists. 'People want music gift- wrapped. They want it to sound grand. If you make a big 'trembling' effect on the note, people think you're big, too. It's like a balloon: you put your name on a little balloon; you blow it up as big as you can, and then your name is huge'!" The Independent (UK) 08/02/02

HITS FROM AFAR: Australia's into music - just not particularly Australian music. A survey of the pop charts shows that foreign bands and singers dominate. "An Australian artist was at the number one position in the single chart for 14 of the past 70 weeks, just one in every five weeks. And many of those weeks were dominated by an Aussie who spends little time here - Kylie Minogue." The Age (Melbourne) 08/02/02

Thursday August 1

MOZART MUSICIANS IN A WEAK POSITION: Oh, but didn't Lincoln Center cancel all its resident orchestra concerts in a hurry when the orchestra's musicians declared a strike. The festival seems in a mood to reinvent, and the players are already the highest-paid freelancers in the US. Has the musicians' union overestimated its position? Is this the excuse Lincoln Center needs to do away with its resident ensemble? The New York Times 08/01/02

WAR ON MUSIC: "During the last three years, the battle against file sharing has become the entertainment industry's version of the War on Drugs, an expensive, protracted, apparently ineffective and seemingly misguided battle against a contraband that many suggest does little harm. The labels' main strategy -- busting the biggest dealers in an attempt to strangle the supply of free MP3s, while offering few palatable solutions to stem the demand -- is a classic tactic from the War on Drugs book, and it has failed just as clearly." Salon 07/31/02

IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO STAGE THE RING: Canada has never had Wagner's Ring cycle performed within its borders, and the Canadian Opera Company plans to change that. An all-star roster of directors was announced for the project this week, and the company will use at least two different venues over three years for the project. The operas have been scheduled, one per year, to begin in 2004, with the full cycle being performed three times during the COC's 2005-06 season. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 08/01/02

AND OPERA DOESN'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH BUD SELIG: Cooperstown, New York, is best known as the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. But the little town on Lake Otsego has another claim to fame, as the headquarters of the unlikely operatic success story known as Glimmerglass Opera. "Preconceived notions are easily left behind at this homey, lakeside opera house at this operatic laboratory that takes innovative new looks at old works, turns opera history's flops into hits, and then exports them to the New York City Opera and other opera companies of the world." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/01/02

A FACE LIFT IN CLEVELAND: "The Cleveland Orchestra has announced that it will receive grants totaling $1.6 million from two local foundations toward its $14 million Blossom Redevelopment Campaign. The campaign, which so far has raised $10.5 million, is for capital improvements to... the orchestra's summer home in Cuyahoga Falls. The redevelopment campaign includes upgrades to the pavilion, lighting and walkways; better access for disabled people; enhancements to parking, restrooms, picnic areas and concessions; and preservation of the natural landscape." The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 07/31/02


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