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Wednesday October 31

CHANGE AS THE ESSENCE OF CULTURE: "Some researchers are now wondering whether the dietary, social and environmental changes of the past quarter-century have not affected the ways we relate to art. Attention spans, we know, are shorter among the text-message generation. They may also respond to different cultural stimuli. The world is moving on, faster than in any epoch in art history. Ephemerality is integral to art. Today's trash is tomorrow's culture, and vice versa." The Telegraph (UK) 10/31/01

THE DRAMA OF MUSIC: What do concerts need to make them more lively? Why actors, of course. "Music and actors have been associated from the very beginning. In the Greek theatre, they were indissolubly linked - the actors chanted as much as spoke their texts. Although the spoken word began to be separated from the musical accompaniment, writers and managers, and indeed actors, have always understood the peculiar potency of music in conjunction with the spoken word, and as a binding factor in the theatrical event." New Statesman 10/29/01

LATIN GRAMMYS FINALLY AWARDED: The second annual Latin Grammy Awards were handed out in a low-key, hour-and-a-half affair in Los Angeles. Singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz took four awards, including song of the year, and Colombian rocker Juanes won three, including the best new artist. Dallas Morning News 10/31/01

MUSIC TRADING DOWN: A leading internet traffic measuring company says the number of people trading music files online in Europe has fallen by 50 percent since Napster folded last summer. Gramophone 10/29/01

Tuesday October 30

EVEN BANKRUPTCY CAN'T SPRING TSO ENDOWMENT MONEY: Friday the Toronto Symphony thought it had found a way out of its life-threatening difficulties, getting musicians to take a 15 percent cut in pay and asking the orchestra's foundation to break into the TSO's endowment fund. But the foundation says no to writing a check for $10 million, making it unlikely that the TSO will survive the week. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 10/29/01

  • GOVERNMENTS OF LAST RESORT: Running out of options, the TSO turns to federal and provincial governments for emergency funding. But while the talking goes on, the TSO needs emergency bridge financing to avoid running out of money this week. Toronto Star 10/30/01

ANOTHER ORCHESTRA IN CRISIS: "The Florida Philharmonic, which balanced its budget last season, could face a $2.1 million deficit for the current season and is in the grip of an immediate cash-flow crisis... To continue its season, the orchestra said, it needs $500,000 in the next three or four weeks." Miami Herald 10/26/01

WHY BOSTON? Why did James Levine want the Boston Symphony directorship? "For all his remarkable achievements in opera in 30 years at the Met and his regular appearances at the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals, he has not left his interpretive stamp on the major orchestral repertory in any consistent way. Nor has he conducted contemporary music and introduced new works as much as he would like to and as much as he must if his name is to be included among the towering conductors of this era. Only a major orchestra post can give him these opportunities. Boston provides them." The New York Times 10/30/01 (one-time registration required for access)

  • OKAY, OKAY, HE'S PERFECT, BUT... "Levine becomes music director designate just one month after the BSO's current contract with its musicians expires. There has been talk that, while the orchestra's musicians are solidly behind his appointment, Levine's notorious favoring of extended rehearsals might be a sticking point in upcoming negotiations." Boston Herald 10/30/01

A TRULY SHOCKING ANNOUNCEMENT: Embattled music distributor Napster has announced that, due to complications in its ongoing negotiations with the recording industry, it will not relaunch until 2002. The song-swapper, which was shut down after record companies accused its owners of widespread piracy, had planned to reopen as a pay-for-play service this fall. BBC 10/30/01

  • NOW THERE'S AN IDEA: "Napster CEO Konrad Hilbers says the government should consider compulsory standards requiring music labels to license music at a fair price if they don't close deals with Napster and other independent distributors." Wired 10/30/01

PELLI PAC DESIGN DERIDED AS UNIMAGINATIVE: When the Orange County (CA) Performing Arts Center hired world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli to design its new concert hall, hopes were high that what had been a second-rate suburban performance space could rise to the level of its Los Angeles competitors. But Pelli's design, unveiled this month, doesn't offer much in the way of distinction or creativity. Los Angeles Times 10/30/01

Monday October 29

WHY BOSTON WANTS LEVINE: The Boston Symphony went after James Levine as its music director because of his ability to prepare and train an orchestra. He "maintains vast handwritten ledgers of programs and ideas for programs that look like something out of a novel by Dickens. He knows the works he must return to regularly in order to advance and measure his own growth. He knows what he hasn't performed yet and wants to investigate. He also knows that there are works he has performed that have nothing further to offer him." Boston Globe 10/29/01

  • NO. 1 PICK: "We wanted Levine pretty much from the beginning." Boston Herald 10/29/01

DALLAS OPERA AGREEMENT: The Dallas Opera and its orchestra have agreed on a new contract, ending a strike. "The agreement spares the Dallas Opera from presenting Simon Boccanegra with two pianos playing the orchestral part." Dallas Morning News 10/29/01

THE RED VIOLIN (FOR REAL): Violinist Joshua Bell has a new fiddle - a 1713 Strad with a story. It once belonged to Bronislaw Huberman, but was stolen from his dressing room at Carnegie Hall in 1936. It only turned up a few years ago, complete with a tale about where it lived out the rest of the 20th Century... Dallas Morning News 10/28/01

SOUND REACTION: Composers have taken to the web with pieces responding to the September 11 WTC attacks. One composer calls it "the equivalent of a sonic photo wall, where people's emotions about the tragedy are translated into sound and hung on the Web." You can hear some of it at here. New York Times 10/29/01 (one-time registration required for access)

CROSSED OVER: Violinist Vanessa-Mae has finally crossed over to the other side. "Never mind the famous 'wet T-shirt and fiddle' shoot of yore, which blew the dust off classical music’s musty image while infuriating and amusing traditionalists in equal measures. These days the 23-year-old violinist, who next month begins her first UK tour for nearly four years, is on pure pop message. And that message has her weak, whispery vocals and a bleepy, dancey backbeat." The Times (UK) 10/29/01

Sunday October 27

BSO GETS LEVINE: The Boston Symphony has hired Metropolitan Opera music director James Levine as the BSO's new music director, replacing Seiji Ozawa. "The long-rumored development will give Mr. Levine control of his own symphony orchestra and an exalted musical pulpit that he has long sought, associates said." The appointment begins in 2004. New York Times 10/27/01 (one-time registration required for access)

  • MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY: "Levine, 58, has been the clear first choice of the orchestra, the board, and the search committee from the beginning. Securing him would represent a major coup for the BSO because he is on the short list of the world's most important conductors." Boston Globe 10/27/01
  • WHO WINS? The Met might see a lessening of Levine's attentions, but "most music professionals expect only benefit for the Boston Symphony, the more so because the orchestra will be coming off a two-year interregnum after Mr. Ozawa leaves for the Vienna State Opera next summer. The Boston Symphony's playing has been uneven over the last decade, and Mr. Levine is considered a superb orchestra builder, largely on the strength of his accomplishments at the Met." New York Times 10/28/01 (one-time registration required for access)

LAST MINUTE DEAL TO SAVE TSO: Facing almost immediate bankruptcy, the Toronto Symphony made an agreement with its players Friday on a rescue plan. "The agreement — which includes a 15 per cent pay cut for musicians and a shortened season — asks Toronto Symphony Foundation trustees 'to immediately release $10 million to eliminate the deficit of the TSO and provide operating funding while other fundraising efforts are organized'." Toronto Star (CP) 10/27/01

SAVING THE ORCHESTRA: With several major symphony orchestras in precarious condition, the industry ponders its survuval. "Belatedly realizing that American culture has changed faster than they have, the country's major orchestras are contemplating in what form they might endure. The more pressing question: Are they changing quickly enough and intelligently enough to attract the new audiences and fresh sources of funding they need? The answer, according to those who work on the front lines of classical music, will depend on whether these profoundly conservative institutions can reinvent themselves for a radically changing world." Chicago Tribune 10/28/01

THE LAST RADIO ORCHESTRA: "Historically, radio orchestras helped define a broadcaster. Think of Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Orchestra in the golden era of the thirties and forties when every radio station had its own 'in-house' band." Now the only remaining radio orchestra is the CBC Orchestra, based in Vancouver. "Curiously, the 40-odd members of this chamber orchestra, some of Canada's finest players, have no contracts. The orchestra doesn't exist on paper." Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/27/01

Friday October 26

PATRIOT GAMES: What's at the top of this week's American pop charts? Why (Canadian) Celine Dion's emotive rendition of God Bless America, of course. "The album sold 180,984 copies in its first week to debut at No. 1 on Billboard's top 200 album charts. And it's not the only patriotic hit on the charts. The re-release of Whitney Houston's Star-Spangled Banner is a best-selling single, and Lee Greenwood's American Patriot album sales have surged based on the popularity of his 17-year-old hit, God Bless the U.S.A. Nando Times 10/25/01

  • PATRIOT GAMES, REDUX: "Maybe it's just me, but seeing Lee Greenwood back singing 'God Bless the USA' makes me feel worse, not better, about the state of the nation after the Sept. 11 attacks. This lack of enthusiasm does not stem from a lack of patriotic fervor. But simply trotting out oldies seems an insufficient artistic reaction to an event that changed the world we live in." Boston Herald 10/25/01

MAKING DO IN MONTREAL: While the Toronto Symphony teeters on the verge of bankruptcy, the Montreal Symphony is sailing along. The Quebec government just gave the orchestra $100,000 to market itself outside the province. "Four years ago, the orchestra was in a financial crisis. Music director Charles Dutoit convinced the Quebec government to give the MSO $6 million a year." CBC 10/25/01

UNDERSTANDING SHOSTAKOVICH: "When he was alive, Shostakovich was paraded, with what seemed to be varying degrees of willingness on his part, as the Soviet Union's greatest composer. As a result, although he was much admired, he was also widely seen in the west as a compromised genius." Since his death 25 years ago, he's been seen as a much more complicated figure. Now some of his few letters have been published for the first time in English...The Guardian (UK) 10/26/01

Thursday October 25

BALTIMORE HEADED TO EUROPE: The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is the latest in a line of American orchestras to announce that they will not cancel tour plans in the face of safety concerns. The BSO will embark on a 12-city tour of Europe in late November. Orchestra sources suggest that the decision was largely left up to the musicians. Baltimore Sun 10/24/01

SHOWDOWN IN TORONTO: Toronto Symphony musicians are to vote Friday on whether they'll accept a 23 percent cut in salary. "If they refuse, they're being told, the TSO could be history by this time next week." But why does the orchestra seem so quiet? Observers are left with plenty of questions about what the orchestra could or couldn't do to rescue itself... Toronto Star 10/24/01

  • NOTHING NEW ABOUT TSO CRISIS: Canadian orchestras have been in trouble for a long time, ever since politics trumped support for the arts in the mid-80s. "Since then, watching orchestras go through near-death experiences has become a national spectator sport: Symphony Nova Scotia, the Winnipeg Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony and the orchestras in the Ontario cities of London, Thunder Bay and Hamilton have all approached or actually declared bankruptcy over the last decade." Andante 10/25/01

NIMBUS NO MORE: "Nimbus – the UK independent classical label and distributor – has gone into receivership, the company confirmed yesterday... The collapse of one of Britain's most stalwart classical companies comes during a period of increasing difficulty for the UK record business, a period marked by retrenchment and restructurings." Gramophone 10/24/01

ORCHESTRA CRISIS: In St. Louis, Toronto, San Jose and Chicago, symphony orchestras are on the ropes. The first three orchestras could be out of business within the season (Toronto as soon as next week) and the financial prospects are bleak. The New York Times 10/25/01 (one-time registration required for access)

OPERA BY PIANOLIGHT: Dallas Opera musicians have decided to strike. So the company decided Wednesday night to go ahead with its season anyway. "In an extraordinary move, the company decided to perform Verdi's Simon Boccanegra with only a piano accompaniment starting Nov. 3 after negotiations with striking musicians broke down." Dallas Morning News 10/25/01

WELL, BOTTLED WATER SOLD, DIDN'T IT? "A British artist is planning to record the sound of silence in radio broadcasts and sell the recording as a collector's item. Matt Rogalsky plans to spend 24 hours monitoring the BBC's flagship current-affairs channel Radio 4 on Dec. 12, collecting the gaps between the words with his custom-designed software." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 10/25/01

GLASS IN HOLLYWOOD: Considering the low esteem in which the public has generally held minimalist art, the continued popularity of composer Philip Glass is nothing short of astonishing. Somehow, Glass seems to have managed to bring life and surprise to a musical form designed to remove both, and his forays into the world of film scoring brought his work to a wide audience. A new project in L.A. offers audiences the chance to watch a "live" soundtrack: an ensemble playing Glass's music accompanies a series of new film shorts. Los Angeles Times 10/25/01

ALWAYS THE FIRST TO GO: The city of Phoenix is feeling a bit of a financial pinch, and members of the city council are turning against funding for local arts groups. The city's ballet and opera companies have been specifically targeted for cuts by two powerful councilmen. Arizona Republic 10/24/01

Wednesday October 24

UNION WOES: After a year of infighting, the old guard establishment of the British Musicians Union managed to edge out the reform-minded leader that the musicians elected last year. But does anyone care about the musicians union anymore? "Seen from the outside, all this looks like the dancing of dinosaurs to an antedeluvian tune. The MU seems unaware that unions are no longer meant to be run by intimidatory hierarchies. Musicians are mostly too busy to notice." The Telegraph (UK) 10/24/01

RESISTING MUSICAL SOCIALISM: Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra is successful at the box office (no small feat these days). But its commitment to Canadian music is shabby. Music director Pinchas Zukerman has "missed no opportunity to broadcast his indifference to Canadian music in general, and to the expectation that the director of an orchestra that receives roughly half of its $11-million budget from the federal government should support music created in this country. 'I don't care where it's from. You have to be careful with national socialism. It's not good for anybody." The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/24/01

CUBAN MUSIC COLLECTION STAYS IN US: The Buena Vista Social Club inspired US interest in Cuban music. Now, what is probably the world's largest collection of Cuban music is going to a university in Florida. "Giving the collection to Cuba," the donor said, "was unthinkable; valuable items were known to disappear from its museums, and waiting to see what happened after Castro is a risky venture." The New York Times 10/24/01 (one-time registration required for access)

NEXT ON SPRINGER: Improbable as it might seem to some, the opera based on Jerry Springer has become a big underground hit it London. "The production has become so popular in Britain that there are discussions for the opera to move to a larger venue in London's hoity-toity West End" and a possible move to the US is possible. Chicago Tribune 10/23/01

Tuesday October 23

DALLAS OPERA ON STRIKE: "The musicians of the Dallas Opera orchestra voted to strike on Monday, less than two weeks before the scheduled start of the season... The musicians won't cite specific figures, but say they want parity with similar orchestras in the area. They say that they are getting 20 percent less. They also want benefits including pension contributions, health insurance, disability payments, and sick leave. They get no fringe benefits now." Dallas Morning News 10/23/01

  • QUICK PICKETS: Only a few hours after they voted to strike, Dallas Opera musicians were picketing outside a local auditorium. The event inside was a presentation by some of Europe's top architectural firms, all of whom are competing to design an expensive new arts complex to be used by the opera, among others. The striking musicians have been critical of the amount of money the opera has devoted to the project. Dallas Morning News 10/23/01

MUSIC SINCE 2001? For several decades, contemporary music has been defined as 'music since 1945.' The end of World War II marked the beginning of an era of experimentation and innovation that simultaneously expanded the way we think of tonality and drove large portions of the audience away from the concert hall. With Septemebr 11 an obvious new benchmark in the arts, what will be next? "New music is not going to be less ironic; classical was never very good at irony to begin with. It may be even more sincere. But it will surely seek out meaning more than it has in years." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/23/01

MIDORI WINS FISHER: The New York-based Avery Fisher Prize has been awarded to some of classical music's most distinguished figures, but only ever to three women. (And the three were awarded a split prize all in the same year.) That number is now four, as former child prodigy Midori is annoucned as this year's recipient. Gramophone 10/22/01

IGNORING ELGAR: The number of great British composers can be counted on one hand. So why has Edward Elgar, surely among the country's greatest, been slighted? The Times (UK) 10/23/01

LITTON TO NORWAY: Andrew Litton is one of the few American conductors leading a major American orchestra, and his reputation as a "musicians' maestro" has stood him in good stead in appearances both in the U.S. and abroad. Now, Litton, music director of the Dallas Symphony, has been handed the reins of Norway's Bergen Symphony, one of Europe's oldest orchestras. Gramophone 10/22/01

HAS THE ORCHESTRA RUN ITS COURSE? There has never been a shortage of pundits ready to declare at a moment's notice that the masses are heathens, musicians are greedy, and classical music is dying. Such rants are frequently disproved by the facts, and usually have little actual effect. But the financial crises being experienced by several North American orchestras begs a more specific question: is the symphony orchestra, a 19th-century creation, out of place in the 21st? In other words, has the world of art music begun to move away from the symphonic form, and what will become of the large ensemble if the trend continues? National Post (Canada) 10/23/01

Monday October 22

LIFE THREATENING: The Toronto Symphony's money problems are so serious that the orchestra may be out of business as soon as this week. CBC 10/19/01

  • THE PHILANTHROPY PROBLEM: Okay all you rich Canadians - time to step up to help bail out the country's symphony orchestras, several of whom are sinking fast for lack of financial support...wait...why's the room suddenly so empty?... The Globe & Mail (Canada) 10/22/01

MUSIC APPETITE: Which country's consumers buys more recordings than any other? Try Norway. And the fewest? Brazil, which buys 1/20th of what Norwegians do. Here's a chart that shows how countries stack up. The Economist 10/19/01

GRAMOPHONE AWARDS: "Cecilia Bartoli has been named artist of the year at the 25th Gramophone Awards - regarded as the Oscars of the classical industry." The London Symphony wins recording of the year. BBC 10/20/01

  • SERIOUS BUSINESS: Crossover classical stars are passed over at the Gramophones in favor of more traditional serious artists. The Independent (UK) 10/20/01

CARTER GOING STRONG: Now in his 90s, composer Elliott Carter has written another landmark piece - his cello concerto, written with Yo Yo Ma in mind. "Written in one continuous 20- minute movement, the concerto is like a soliloquy for cello with orchestral commentary." The New York Times 10/22/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Sunday October 21

DOING THE DALLAS: Last week Andrew Litton signed a new five-year contract as music director of the Dallas Symphony. But is he the right man for the job? "Mr. Litton's DSO is a trophy bride, flashily coiffed and dressed but well behaved. She isn't going to ask us any hard questions or take us anywhere we haven't been before. And that, apparently, is what the Dallas Symphony Association wants – for five more years." Dallas Morning News 10/21/01

THE RECORDING CRISIS: "The classical recording industry seems to be collapsing, and aggrieved music lovers are looking for someone to blame. Confused consumers have gone from anger to frustration to apathy. Reportedly, the classical share of the total CD market, which had peaked at 7 percent during the height of CD mania, has slipped to 3 percent. Several seemingly contradictory factors are causing the crisis in classical recording." The New York Times 10/21/01 (one-time registration required for access)

ATONAL YEARNINGS: "The notion that Arnold Schoenberg liked to be liked by a mass audience will no doubt surprise his detractors. No one can deny the extraordinary impact Schoenberg had on the music of the 20th century. He was the dominant force in attempting to subdue the power that tonality had exerted on Western music for 300 years. He liberated dissonance and then went on to create a new form of organizing the pitches of the scale—the 12-tone system—that ultimately inspired the ultra-complex, mathematically inclined avant-garde music that came after World War II. For that, Schoenberg has been personally blamed for modern music losing its audience in the 20th century." Los Angeles Times 10/21/01

DALLAS OPERA SEASON THREATENED: Musicians are voting on whether to accept a new contract before the season opens. "The orchestra has been asked to accept a wage freeze at $800 a week, with an 8 percent increase to $864 in the second year of a three-year contract, and a 6 percent increase to $915 in the third year." Orchestra members are likely to reject the offer, calling it "20 percent less than the market wage in this area for similar services." Musicians also want benefits including "pension contributions, health insurance, disability payments, and sick leave." Dallas Morning News 10/21/01

DEVALUED PRIZES: As the annual Gramophone Awards for classical music are announced, the winners look forward to bigger sales (but only a little bit bigger). Finacial Times 10/20/01

THE POINTLESS COMPETITIONS: "Even for inveterate watchers of the musical scene, this year's Cliburn competition made barely a dent in the collective consciousness. A group of pianists walked off with the various prizes, but I don't know that anyone outside of Fort Worth paid much attention to who. It didn't used to be that way..." San Francisco Chronicle 10/21/01

Friday October 19

WHY SAN JOSE CAN'T FLY: The San Jose Symphony's crisis has been a long time coming. The orchestra board president "believes the symphony should be a $3.5 million to $4 million organization, as opposed to nearly $8 million. It has counted on 60 percent of revenue from contributions and 40 percent from ticket sales" and those percentages ought to be reversed. "The San Jose Symphony is 123 years old - older than all the other arts groups in the city, not to mention most of the buildings. It has been and should be an important part of the community's cultural life. But age and tradition alone can't guarantee its survival." San Jose Mercury News 10/16/01

CELL PHONE SYMPHONY: Composer Golan Levin produced a piece for an orchestra of cellphones. "A database system was established to register the phone numbers of the participants in the cell phone orchestra and deliver their seating information to the second system, performance software that allows the controller to click on a computer screen and dial a particular person. Finally, a third system developed for the piece connects the performance software to the mobile switching center. For the premiere, 200 participants registered their phone numbers at a web kiosk and, when the make of their phone allowed, a customized ring sound was downloaded onto their phone. They were then given a ticket instructing them where to sit in a 20 by 10 grid of seats." NewMusicBox 10/01

LANGUAGE OF THE BEHOLDER: Should opera be sung in its original language or in the language of the audience hearing it? "Surtitling (or subtitling or back-of-seat-titling) is now an almost universal practice, but raises new questions and problems. Do surtitles distract attention from the action on the stage? Do they offer only an un-nuanced and blunt synopsis of the original words that detract from a full and subtle appreciation? Should works in the vernacular be surtitled on the grounds that singing in itself makes it hard to understand the words? Or is that just an excuse for lazy diction or (à la Joan Sutherland) the sacrifice of diction to tone and legato?" Andante 10/18/01

MUSIC'S THIRD WAY: For much of the 20th Century classical music was a cold war of ideologies. But "unlike the actual one, this musical cold war ended not in victory for one side or the other, but in the realisation that musical choice was not limited to a constricting either-or between Schoenberg and the early Stravinsky. In recent times, listeners and critics have grown ever readier to explore musical third ways." The Economist 10/18/01

Thursday October 18

STRING QUARTET HAS TO PAY: A Pennsylvania judge has ordered three members of the Audubon String Quartet to pay the fourth member - David Ehrlich - more than $600,000. The group had thrown the first violinist out of the group 20 months ago after disagreements. The judge "ruled that Ehrlich was part owner of the Audubon Quartet, and therefore entitled to 25 percent of the group's assets." Philadelphia Inquirer 10/18/01

MUSIC BIGGER THAN MARS: Composer Vangelis has written a huge choral work to mark man's first voyage to Mars. "The Mythodea project has been expensive: $7 million for a single concert and recording, $3.5 million put up by the record company Sony Classical, the other $3.5 million by the Greek government. And were you to ask why any government should fund such a blatantly commercial undertaking you wouldn't be alone. In Greece it's the question in many an outraged news report." The Telegraph (UK) 10/18/01

Wednesday October 17

SAN JOSE SYMPHONY CLOSURE? The San Jose Symphony is letting go its staff and may suspend operations and cancel the orchestra's concerts. "The symphony had a $7.8 million budget last year and ended the fiscal year in July with a deficit of $2.5 million. It has been operating with almost no cash reserves since the summer." San Jose Mercury News 10/17/01

TSO SOAP OPERA CONTINUES: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has kept the reaper away from the door for a few more months, after convincing its foundation trustees to release $750,000 to cover the organization's debts. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 10/16/01

NEW EMI CHIEF: Troubled recording label EMI has named former PolyGram chief Alain Levy to head up its recorded music business. Levy has been promised share options that "could be worth £35 million if he is able to restore the fortunes of his one-time rival EMI." The Guardian (UK) 10/16/01

CLIBURN DOCUMENTARY FALLS SHORT: Fawning saturation coverage from the local media notwithstanding, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition has come in for a great deal of criticism in recent years. "The competition has never really lost its importance; it's just had trouble living up to expectations." A new PBS documentary could have helped clear up some of the questions that have dogged the event, but a lack of depth (and music) make the film little more than a classical version of Behind the Music. Baltimore Sun 10/17/01

PROMS CONTINUE TO GROW: This year's BBC Proms posted an increase in both overall ticket sales and standing room admissions, as 265,000 people attended some part of the festival, which is held at summer's end in London's Royal Albert Hall. Gramophone 10/16/01

DIGITAL BROUHAHA: "The record industry is under investigation in the United States and Europe. Antitrust slurs are flying. But the inquiry is too late for most digital music companies and in the end it could do what the RIAA hasn't accomplished: shutting down music on the Internet." Wired 10/17/01

Tuesday October 16

CRISIS OF TASTE: Why do people turn to awful music in times of national crisis? It's "nothing new - in fact, it has happened throughout history. The assassination of JFK is acknowledged as a major factor in US Beatlemania - a grieving nation was looking for something to take the pain away. What is normally brushed over is that Americans took more immediate solace in one particular song, the appalling religious novelty classic Dominique by The Singing Nun, which was No 1 for the next month." The Guardian (UK) 10/15/01

LITTON WILL STAY IN DALLAS THROUGH 2006: "Andrew Litton, music director of the Dallas Symphony, has extended his contract through the 2005-2006 season. Dallas and Litton now become one of America's longest and most successful musical partnerships. Born in New York, Litton is one of the few US-native conductors to lead a major American orchestra." Gramophone 10/16/01

BARRY DOUGLAS AND THE CAMERATA IRELAND: Why would a successful pianist want to put together a chamber orchestra? "I think there is something - a sense of fantasy in the Irish personality that lends itself very well to musicians. We've seen that in Irish traditional music, but it hasn't been well documented or represented in classical music. And that's basically where Camerata Ireland can come in and show another side to Ireland." Denver Post 10/16/01

RECORD COMPANIES ANTICOMPETITIVE? WE'RE SHOCKED: The US Justice Department is "looking at the 'the competitive effects of certain joint ventures in the online music industry.' The major recording companies have created two joint ventures, Pressplay and MusicNet, which they plan to use to distribute online music to which they hold copyrights. Pressplay is owned by Sony Music Entertainment and Vivendi Universal, while MusicNet is a joint venture of AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann, the EMI Group and RealNetworks." The New York Times 10/16/01 (one-time registration required for access)

Monday October 15

FOURTH AMENDMENT, ANYONE? You might want to put a false moustache and a pair of dark glasses on those old Napster-acquired MP3s kicking around your computer. The recording industry reportedly asked various congresspeople to tack on an amendment to, of all things, the anti-terrorism bill, which would have allowed them to hack into the computers of consumers and delete illicit MP3 song files. Privacy advocates are apoplectic. Wired 10/15/01

  • A FLY IN THE MULTINATIONAL OINTMENT: So the major record companies have defeated Napster, and are all set to reap the financial rewards of the victory with a few online music download sites of their own. But the European Union is concerned that the "services would restrict opportunities for independent download sites," and representatives of the EU could block the sites from even being set up. BBC 10/15/01

BING BLING: "A suit that pits the estate of legendary crooner Bing Crosby against Universal Music Group alleges that the family has been cheated out of royalties to the tune of $16 million." Washington Post (Variety) 10/15/01

GREASING THE WHEELS: Taking a symphony orchestra on an international tour is no easy task. Preparations begin two years in advance, and no detail is left unresearched. Still, on the road, unexpected crises are bound to manifest themselves, and when they do, nearly every major American orchestra has the same reaction. They call Guido. Yes, Guido. Detroit Free Press 10/15/01

Sunday October 14

TWO VIEWS OF TORONTO: The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is on the verge of bankruptcy, and is asking its musicians to bear the brunt of the massive cuts to come. Some observers predict artistic doom for the TSO if such cuts come to pass, since lower salaries and fewer perks would drive yet more of Canada's top musicians south of the border to high-paying American bands. But others blame the unionized musicians for pushing the financial limits of Canadian orchestras far past what was reasonably possible with their contract demands. Toronto Star & National Post (Canada) 10/13/01

  • IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE MONEY: "The TSO is also divided from the city in which it lives, and becoming more so all the time... [It] has scarcely begun to react to changing demographic patterns in the city, where in the past decade 80 per cent of new immigrants came from countries with little or no tradition of European-style orchestral music. Capturing their interest is a long-term task, more likely to be served by education and outreach programs than by clever advertising." The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 10/13/01

CALGARY LOCKOUT COULD BE A LONG ONE: No talks are scheduled in the lockout of the Calgary Philharmonic's 65 musicians, and both sides are digging in for a long and bitter fight. Management is worried about a potential cashflow crisis, while the picketing musicians are concerned that public support, currently on their side, could wane in the face of a long stoppage. Calgary Herald 10/13/01

FORFEITING ART TO EGO: This year's Salzburg Festival production of Die Fledermaus took a few, um, liberties with the original libretto. Nazi gangs, endless puns, and questionable added dialogue sent many critics shrieking for the nearest artistic high ground. "First and foremost, though, the Salzburg Fledermaus is but another installment in the great humiliation of music that has been going on for years in those opera houses, particularly in Europe, which have forfeited all power to the director at the expense of the conductor and the singers." Andante 10/14/01

SILENCING MUSIC'S POTENTIAL: Afghanistan's Taliban rulers have banned many things since coming to power five years ago. Some of the bans, like education for women and shaving for men, had an immediately visible impact. But when the hard-liners banned music, they may have taken away one of the most powerful forces for national unity. Music unites, as patriotic anthems the world over show. But can lack of music actually divide a people? The Guardian 10/13/01

MUSIC'S BEST TO REMEMBER STERN: "Carnegie Hall has announced a special concert in memory of the late Isaac Stern, the world-renowned violin virtuoso, teacher and president of the Hall organization, who died last month at the age of 81... The musicians present onstage will include Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Midori, Joseph Kalichstein, Jaime Laredo, Sharon Robinson, Yefim Bronfman and Pinchas Zukerman." Andante 10/13/01

A REALISTIC WAGNERIAN: Daniel Barenboim encountered a firestorm of protest earlier this year when he broke a long-standing taboo on the performance of Wagner in Israel. But though Barenboim has been a champion of the controversial composer's work throughout his career, he has never attempted to minimize Wagner's role in the rise of deadly anti-Semitism in Europe, or to claim that this bigotry does not inform Wagner's music. Rather, he embraces the contradictory nature of a man who could harbor such vicious hatred in his own mind, yet produce works of such tremendous beauty and intelligence. The New York Times 10/14/01 (one-time registration required for access)

ONLY IN NEW YORK: A strolling violinist in a gold loincloth and very little else would cause the denizens of most cities to call the police, or at least cross the street. But in New York, such a man can become a minor celebrity, especially when he gains a reputation as the most talented street musician in the city. "In his soloperas, Thoth, a classically trained musician, is the composer, orchestra, singers and dancers. His music has elements of classical, overlayed with primal rhythms, but it defies categorization." New York Post 10/14/01

Friday October 12

TORONTO SEEKS MASSIVE CUTS: The beleaguered Toronto Symphony Orchestra is asking its musicians to agree to an unprecedented list of cuts. Under the long-range plan, designed to avert outright bankruptcy for Canada's most famous orchestra, musicians salaries would be cut by 23%, the orchestra roster would be trimmed by 14 players, and the season would be shortened by nine weeks. The moves would be roughly equivalent to converting the New York Philharmonic's operations to the size and scope of the Buffalo Philharmonic. Toronto Star 10/11/01

AMERICAN COMPOSER WINS MASTERPRIZE: Pierre Jalbert, a professor at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music in Houston, has won the £30,000 Masterprize, beating out four other finalists. The award was determined by a complex voting system that included massive amounts of public input through technological means. BBC 10/11/01

NAPSTER JUDGE DECLINES TO END CASE: From the We're-All-Having-So-Much-Fun-Why-Stop-Now file: a California judge has refused to issue a summary judgment holding Napster liable for untold millions of dollars in copyright infringement. The record industry had sought the judgment, which would have effectively ended the case, but the judge ruled that "there was not yet enough evidence to justify the summary judgement." BBC 10/11/01

MADRID OPERA HERO DIES: "Conductor Luis Antonio Garcia Navarro, credited with reviving Madrid's opera house after its 1997 reinauguration and bringing it international fame, has died. He was 60." Nando Times (AP) 10/11/01

Thursday October 11

KIROV SCRAMBLES TO GET DOWN UNDER: "Only the intervention of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has ensured that the highlight of the Melbourne Festival's $16 million program, St Petersburg's Kirov Opera, will arrive in time for tonight's opening. The company was delayed by the first US bombings of Afghanistan early on Monday morning, Australian time, which forced the cancellation of the company's original flight only hours before it was due to leave." The Age (Melbourne) 10/11/01

  • WHAT THE HECK IS A 'SPIEGELTENT'? Who knows, but it may just be the rejuvenating force the Melbourne Festival needs. "[T]he attempts over the years by festival organisers to set up a dedicated swinging, after-hours Festival Club for artists have proved so elusive they gave up trying back in 1998. But now the Spiegeltent looks set to provide a carousing home for audiences and artists looking to kick on post-performance." The Age (Melbourne) 10/11/01

MUSIC AND THE TALIBAN: "[W]hen Can You Stop the Birds Singing?, a report into the censorship of music in Afghanistan was published in June, there was little interest. The report's publishers, Freemuse, are a Danish-based human rights organisation dedicated to campaigning against music censorship. Now that Afghanistan and its brutal Taliban regime dominate the headlines, this report resonates even more loudly." The Daily Telegraph (UK) 10/11/01

KICKING THE CORPSE: Believe it or not, the recording industry is still suing Napster. Didn't know there was anything left to sue, did you? The latest suit seeks redress for alleged copyright infringement of the songs listeners traded for free on the online service. Napster offered to settle for a billion (yes, with a 'b') dollars several months ago, but this was rejected by the plaintiffs as "not nearly appropriate." BBC 10/10/01

  • TECHNICAL NATTERING: The latest Napster case is so full of minute technicalities and intricacies of copyright law as to put even the most dedicated legal wonk to sleep. Nonetheless, the participants appear to be having a good time. Wired 10/10/01

LINCOLN CENTER SQUABBLE: A dangerous game of politics is being played at New York's famous performing arts complex, and the future of a massive $1 billion redevelopment project is at stake. Sorting out exactly who among the center's many resident organizations wants what is difficult, but it is safe to say that no one is backing down without a fight. The New York Times 10/11/01 (one-time registration required for access)

DSO VIOLINIST HAS REUNION ON TOUR: "When the Detroit Symphony Orchestra arrived in Nuremberg, Germany, on Tuesday, violinist Marian Tanau added another link to the chain of his remarkable destiny. Waiting for him was Joseph Muller, a Romanian-born German national, who in 1989 risked his career to help Tanau, then 22, defect from Romania." Detroit Free Press 10/11/01

Wednesday October 10

LEBRECHT HAMMERS FEARFUL MUSICIANS: In the wake of the September 11 attacks, countless performers have had to decide whether to carry on with scheduled international tours. In general, orchestras that were already close to their departure dates have pressed on, while those with tours farther on in an uncertain future have begun to cancel in the face of government travel warnings. Few have faulted them for their caution, but critic Norman Lebrecht finds such cancellations cowardly. The Daily Telegraph (UK) 10/10/01

  • DETROIT TOUR CONTINUING: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is touring Europe, and has decided to finish the trip, despite the continuing American military action and state department travel cautions. "To reassure DSO musicians before the tour, management hired a security firm, abandoned commercial flights in favor of charters and developed a contingency plan that would allow the orchestra to board a plane for Detroit within five hours from any city should circumstances demand a quick escape." Detroit Free Press 10/09/01

NEW CHIEF FOR SF OPERA CENTER: "American soprano Sheri Greenawald has been appointed as the new director of the San Francisco Opera Center in California... Greenawald’s appointment is the latest in a series of management changes wrought by Pamela Rosenberg, who recently took over as general director of San Francisco Opera from Lofti Mansouri." Gramophone 10/09/01

JAZZ IN THE HOLY LAND: There are few, if any, hot spots in the world facing more daily tension than Israel. Ethnic violence, religious fervor, and constant political infighting make casual entertainment a tough sell. But the efforts of one man have made jazz an indispensible part of life for many local enthusiasts, and the music has even begun to help bridge the considerable gap between Arab and Israeli musicians. CultureKiosque 10/09/01

Tuesday October 9

BOOSEY & HAWKES FACES TAKEOVER: Music publishers tend to be companies steeped in history and rich in tradition. England's Boosey & Hawkes is one of the most venerable, with 200 years of publishing under its belt. But B&H has been in financial trouble lately, and now faces a takeover bid from an unnamed company. BBC 10/08/01

BRINGING DEMOCRACY TO NEW MUSIC: John McLaren's 'Masterprize' competition is a unique beast in the normally predictable world of classical music. Composers from all over the world are invited to compete for a large cash prize, with finalists' works to be performed by one of the world's finest orchestras. But unlike most such competitions, the winner will be determined by a unique mix of votes from celebrities, orchestra members, and members of the global listening public. The Times (UK) 10/09/01

ONLINE MUSIC TO GO LEGIT: "Music publishers and record companies are expected to announce a deal for the licensing of online music, paving the way for the industry to launch its own web services." BBC 10/08/01

Monday October 8

PHILHARMONIC LOCKOUT: The Calgary Philharmonic locked out its musicians Saturday night after musicians rejected the orchestra's contract offer. Management wanted the players to take a paycut. "Falling ticket sales and a drop in donations in the 2001-02 season prompted the CPO to announce a deficit of about $650,000 on its $7-million budget in an effort to stave off a financial crisis." Calgary Herald 10/07/01

AGE OF THE DIRECTOR: If singers were the stars of yesteryear opera, today "for better or worse, we have come to the age of the director. In many ways, the play has become the thing. Apart from three senior-citizen tenors, bigger-than-life singers aren't as big as they used to be. Divas have lost their cults. Hardly any larynges inspire box-office stampedes. Bona-fide individuality of timbre and interpretive approach are becoming rarities. The stars just don't shine all that brightly." Andante 10/06/01

THE EVOLVING ORCHESTRA: "The sound of a symphony orchestra is less traditional than most of us think. Even in the romantic period, conductor Phillipe Herreweghe says, instruments were evolving. Gut strings, as different from modern metal strings as a harpsichord is from a piano, were not superseded until about 1920. The antique woodwinds are softer. A modern orchestra is, he says, at least twice as loud as its turn-of-the-century counterpart. Styles of playing have changed even more. A Wagner opera lasted an hour less in his time than now. But the whole spirit, even of Debussy, has changed." The Age (Melbourne) 10/08/01

COMPOSER AT THE END OF THE LINE: Is Karlheinz Stockhausen a great artist, a great composer? "Stockhausen, like many other late modernists, is an artist at the end of a great experiment that failed. Modernism did not find a new answer to the problem of expression, it did not create a new tradition. It delineated the terms of the expressive crisis all too accurately, and in doing so, made it impossible to continue down the same radical road." Sunday Times (UK) 10/07/01

Sunday October 7

THE SOUND OF PLACES TO PLAY: What's ideal in Cleveland might not be in Dallas. Acoustics, that is. Cleveland's Severance Hall is dry and suited to a detail-oriented classical band. In Dallas, on the other hand, Meyerson Hall has a significantly longer reverberation time. So how have the nation's different concert halls influenced the sounds of its orchestras. Dallas Morning News 10/06/01

A FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH STOCKHAUSEN: A music novice goes in hunt of Stockhausen, wondering what the difficult composer's music sounds like. Finally locating a disc in a store, he takes a listen with a clerk. "This is what I've been waiting for - a new beginning. He's as excited as I am. I give him the thumbs up. He gives me a Masonic nod. It's ghastly. Truly bloody awful. Rats scurrying across a blackboard, a washing machine turning somersaults, a car horn hooting in temper. And when it's not quite so ghastly, it turns into a Monty Python sketch - a choir of cheeks being pulled at speed. The blow-job sonata perhaps?" The Guardian (UK) 10/06/01

BIG MUSIC GOES ONLINE: "The major record labels have invested millions of dollars so that they can play in the online music space, added to the law fees they paid to crush Napster." But Napster's been neutered, and the dotcom downturn has made online riskier than ever. So why play? "The record industry is in decline and digitally delivered music presents the possibility of a boom town once more. New formats boost revenues. Much of the 1990s' increase in demand for music is attributed to consumers buying CDs to replace their vinyl collection." The Telegraph (UK) 10/06/01

WE WON'T GO: "Citing concerns about international travel, the Minnesota Orchestra has postponed its November tour to Japan." The announcement marks the first tour cancellation by a major American orchestra in the wake of the September 11 attacks. St. Paul Pioneer Press 10/06/01

INSIDE THE TERRORISTIC MIND: John Adams's opera, 'The Death of Klinghoffer' has never been an easy concertgoing experience, but in the wake of September 11, the grim story of a man killed quite publicly by terrorists has become even more controversial and fascinating than at its premiere. "Opera is often called the most irrational art form. It places us directly inside its characters' minds and hearts through compelling music, often causing us to enjoy the company of characters we might normally dislike. Adams' opera requires that we think the unthinkable." Los Angeles Times 10/07/01

THE AMERICAN MAESTRO AT HOME: James Conlon is one of America's great conductors, admired and respected the world over for his extensive repertoire and precise style. But, like so many other American maestros, he has been forced to spend much of his career overseas. Now, firmly established as one of the top men in his profession, he has the luxury of letting the world (and America) come to him. "Drop in on Mr. Conlon in rehearsal, and you may find him disciplined, diagnostic, in control: a touch schoolmasterly." The New York Times 10/07/01 (one-time registration required for access)

SAN JOSE LIMPS FORWARD: The San Jose Symphony may yet succumb to the financial woes that have been plaguing so many American orchestras. But it will not go quietly: even with massive deficits and dwindling audience numbers, the SJS is refusing to quit, continuing its scheduled season and even contemplating additional concerts. The orchestra's troubles read like a template for the problems of ensembles around the country. San Jose Mercury News 10/07/01

Friday October 5

THE CLASSICAL MUSIC PROBLEM: Who killed classical music? Well, it's a little more complicated than that. Yes the death rattle seems to be louder these days, and yes, almost every part of the "industry" you look at is in difficulty. From bad management, changing economics, overbuilding, and general malaise, classical music is suffering. On the other hand, people aren't just going to stop listening to music... LA Weekly [cover story] 10/04/01

  • CHICAGO SYMPHONY TO CUT BACK: It's been 15 years of good financial news for the Chicago Symphony. But it's come to an end. "At its annual meeting Wednesday night in Symphony Center, CSO board officers announced a $1.3 million deficit for the fiscal year that ended June 30, and projected a $2 million deficit for the coming year. The deficit for fiscal 2001 is the orchestra's first since 1992 and only its second since 1986. Moving to cut costs, the CSO will shutter ECHO, its $3.7 million, state-of-the-art education center, which it opened in 1998." Chicago Sun-Times 10/04/01
  • WHY THE ST. LOUIS SYMPHONY SUFFERS: The St. Louis Symphony is in crisis. "If $29 million is not pledged to the symphony by the end of this year (with the money in hand by next summer), the SLSO will be facing bankruptcy." The orchestra has a small endowment compared to other orchestras of its accomplishment. "The sting of "elitism" sent the SLSO into a number of 'good works' projects, becoming more involved with school, church and other community organizations, as well as creating its own (costly) music school, in response to the loss of music education throughout the city school system. The SLSO made nice, became an exemplary orchestra, and ran up debts." Andante 10/04/01
  • VANCOUVER SYMPHONY DEFICIT: "After seven debt-free years, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is now struggling with a deficit of more than $900,000. A four-month transit strike kept some of the audience away." CBC 10/05/01

WHEN IN DOUBT - IT'S BEETHOVEN: Orchestras visiting New York are changing their programs to perform music they feel fits a more somber mood. And what composer are they turning to? Beethoven, of course. "Leonard Bernstein, playing devil's advocate, once poked fun at the way conductors automatically turn to Beethoven every time some affirmation of humanity is called for. 'What did we play in our symphony concerts to honor the fallen in war?' he wrote. "The `Eroica.' What did we play on V Day? The Fifth. What is every United Nations concert? The Ninth." The New York Times 10/05/01 (one-time registration required for access)

THE MAN NEXT DOOR: For 35 years we lived across the hall from Isaac Stern. "One grew used to the steady stream of great musicians—Eugene Istomin, Yefim Bronfman, Emanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zuckerman, Jaime Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma—who would daily emerge from the elevator, seemingly ordinary citizens until they walked into 19F and started to play. I have a recurring image of running into Isaac in the hallway surrounded by piles of luggage: I’d be on my way to the grocery store to buy a carton of orange juice and some cream cheese; he’d be on his way to Vienna or Paris or Moscow to perform Haydn or Saint-Saëns or Tchaikovsky." New York Observer 10/03/01

PROTESTING NON-COPYABLE CD'S: Protestors in the UK are planning a national day of demonstrations to protest copy-protected CD's that are starting to appear in British stores. "The protests are being organised because activists say that not enough is being done to warn consumers about the restrictions the CDs place on their ability to enjoy music." BBC 10/05/01

Thursday October 4

BIG ENTERTAINMENT SUES FILE-TRADERS: Encouraged by their success in shutting down Napster, the recording industry, joined by the movie industry, is suing the "next generation" file-sharing services, whose traffic has been exploding since Napster shut down. But the new services are almost impossible shut down, since they exist as open-source software rather than centralized servers. Wired 10/04/01

RECORDING RATHER THAN BUYING: Recorded CD sales are down 5 percent worldwide for the first half of this year. "Overall, the music business was worth $37 billion in 2000; first-half sales this year were about $14 billion. Now, companies are pinning their hopes on a good second half, when traditionally 60 per cent or more of sales occur." The Independent (UK) 10/02/01

ATLANTA'S HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Robert Spano makes his debut as music director of the Atlanta Symphony and expectations are high. Spano has work to do, reports one New York critic. "These are evidently good musicians, and they play the right notes at just about the right time. But there is little unanimity of thought. String players seem each to have private and minutely different opinions on the shape of a dotted rhythm or the point of an attack. Wind players are not in themselves out of tune but sound unaware of pitch placements around them." The New York Times 10/04/01 (one-time registration required)

THINKING TOO HARD: Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein had a reputation for having been a dense intellectual, a philosopher to struggle through. So why is composer Anthony Powers setting some of his thorniest writing to music? "Powers - whose BBC-commissioned Tractatus setting, A Picture of the World, is being broadcast on Radio 3 on Saturday - believes that the great Austrian philosopher has been thoroughly misunderstood. 'There's this idea of Wittgenstein as the most fearsome intellectual when in fact he was saying that most intellectualising is a waste of time." The Guardian (UK) 10/04/01

THE PITTSBURGH'S NEW SUMMER HOME: Every summer, says the director of the Pittsburgh Symphony, his orchestra is approached by people with ideas for a summer home for the orchestra. Well, here's one plan that will work - the new $35 million Laurel Center in the Poconos. Sure it's six hours away from home, but only a short drive from New York and Philadelphia, and the orchestra hopes to tap into that market. The new arts center has also signed up the Philadelphia Orchestra and American Ballet Theater to perform at what is intended as a major summer cultural magnet. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 10/04/01

WRONG NUMBER: Two "sound artists" have copyrighted 100 million combinations of your telephone tones. So "next time you make a phone call, chances are you'll be in breach of international copyright law. If business can claim ownership over the elemental building blocks of human life, the composers say it's only fitting that artists lay claim to the 'DNA' of business and are paid for it." The Age (Melbourne) 10/04/01

Wednesday October 3

RECORDING CARNAGE: Over four years of classical tailspin, every corporate label has slashed its rosters, plunging dozens of artists, eminent and emergent, into a black hole of hopelessness. Very few get a second chance. The suits that rule the classical summits are investing only in novelties - such as the 14-year-old violinist Chloe and an eight-piece fusion band, the Planets, put together by Wombles songwriter Mike Batt on much the same 'personality' lines as Big Brother applied to its contestants." The Telegraph (UK) 10/03/01

TORONTO LIVING BEYOND MEANS: "Over the past decade, this city has been clinging to cultural aspirations well beyond its willingness to pay. That is the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the meltdown currently taking place within the long-troubled Toronto Symphony Orchestra. After years of being quietly in denial, the TSO, in the face of its potentially imminent demise, now has had no choice but to go public with details of its dismaying situation." Toronto Star 10/03/01

CELLIST SUES SYMPHONY: A Toronto Symphony cellist has filed a lawsuit against the orchestra claiming it gave false information to the musician's insurance company so it would deny a serious medical claim. Toronto Star 10/03/01

  • Previously: TORONTO SYMPHONY ORDERED TO REINSTATE: The Toronto Symphony has been ordered to reinstate its star cellist; he was fired in May after performing in an amateur concert while on sick leave from the orchestra. But Daniel Domb, a 27-year veteran of the orchestra, says he's so angry about the dismissal he won't return. "The bad feelings stirred up in the whole orchestra aren't going to go away anytime soon." Toronto Star 07/12/01
  • BAD YEAR ALL AROUND: Domb was recently twice turned down for his disability insurance claim after a near-fatal head injury suffered in a fall in Mexico. Toronto Star 07/13/01

ORCHESTRA REDUCTION: When is an orchestra not an orchestra? When it can't afford to mount a concert. Orchestra New Brunswick says it is about $60,000 short, and that "it doesn't have the money to put on a full concert" to open the season. "Instead, it may present a piano recital." CBC 10/03/01

Tuesday October 2

TALIBAN AGAINST MUSIC: "The Ministry for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue is on patrol. Its job is to eradicate sin, which, as defined by the totalitarian government of Afghanistan, includes simply listening to music. It insists that there is a hadith (a record of the Prophet's sayings) warning people not to listen to music lest molten lead be poured into their ears on Judgment Day. Until then, the Taliban police are wreaking their own violence—against musical instruments and anyone who dares enjoy their use." Time 10/01/01

FAMILIAR DIET: Why do the UK's opera companies play the same small number of operas over and over again? "Companies have been given the subliminal message that if they don’t play to full houses then they are failing in their task. Whether or not the task of publicly funded bodies should be endlessly to serve up box-office attractions rather than broaden the public’s operatic experience is another matter — but then art, or education in the broadest sense, has long ceased to be the primary concern of our Arts Councils." The Times (UK) 10/01/02

CLASSIC BILLY JOEL: The singer has gone where so many pop artists have failed. He's written an album of classical songs - and even hired a classical pianist to record them. "This is a lovely batch of songs that reveal Joel, as a composer, to be a closet fan of Mozart, Chopin and Strauss." New York Post 10/02/01

GIRL WONDER: How to explain the wide appeal of Charlotte Church? She's still only 15 years old, but "although we've already had three years of Church's recording career, her appeal remains rooted in her position as a child wonder. It helps that, so far, she is not a pop singer. There are no Britney v Charlotte wars. Her contemporaries are not interested in her records - after all, teenagers don't want to listen to either Rossini arias or Men of Harlech. New Statesman 10/01/01

RATTLE BLASTS ARTS COUNCILS: Conductor Simon Rattle says much of British orchestras' difficulties are to be blamed on the country's Arts Council: "Shame on the Arts Council for knowing so little, for being such amateurs, for simply turning up a different group of people every few years with no expertise, no knowledge of history, to whom you have to explain everything, where it came from and why it is there, who don't listen and who don't care. Shame on them." The Observer (UK) 09/30/01

Monday October 1

MUSIC WITHOUT THE NAME: So who says that a piece of music with a designer label on it - Beethoven, Mozart or some other - is superior to music without the name? Perhaps we listen too mindlessly to the greats and too easily dismiss worthy efforts by those composers we've forgotten. Orange County Register 09/30/01

CAN YOU COPYRIGHT THAT? Two sound artists have copyrighted the tone combination for every possible combination of phone numbers. "Their Magnus-Opus is a playful way of challenging copyright law, which Dr Sonique - better known as artist Dr Nigel Helyer - says often benefits the 'corporates' before creators of artistic works. 'It is not so much an attack on copyright, it is the way it is prosecuted in the public domain,' he says." Sydney Morning Herald 10/01/01

SINGING PROTEST: The protest song has a long honorable history. But "it is hard to imagine anyone in the grief-torn United States writing a direct riposte at this stage to Celine Dion's rendition of God Bless America a week ago or by extension to the war cry of the government. With more than 6500 dead, the grief is too raw. Does this mean the protest song is dead? Will it be cast forever in the shadows of the initial tragic event? There are murmurings of student protest if a war goes beyond what is deemed legitimate retribution. But will songs grow from these seeds?" The Age (Melbourne) 10/01/01

SAN JOSE DOESN'T KNOW THE WAY: The San Jose Symphony is in trouble. With a $2.5 million deficit and declining attendance, the 123-year-old orchestra ought to be scrambling to fix things. But this year's opening subscription concerts showed business as usual, and provided lots of evidence as to why the orchestra is in danger of going out of business. San Jose Mercury News 10/01/01

RESPONDING WITH MUSIC: "What does music give us when words are stopped in our throats? On an ordinary day, music takes us out of ourselves, allowing us to forget whatever self-invented dramas may be pressing on us. The effect is seldom lasting. But when we are all in the grip of the same emotion, music can shoulder the heaviest part of what we are feeling. A familiar tune billows above us, and we are carried along by it for a short distance. It is a performance with no audience, in which the singers listen and the listeners sing. And only the most familiar, worn-out tune will do. When one part of the crowd is devoted to Jay-Z and another part to John Zorn, the common ground becomes God Bless America." The New Yorker 10/01/01


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