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  • Sunday December 31

    • REPORTS OF MY DEATH... Eight years ago tales of doom and gloom about American orchestras were rampant. "Despite the troubling statistics - in 1992 three-quarters of American orchestras were posting debts - the business of making music has improved markedly over the past eight years. Today, three-quarters of American orchestras are balancing their books each season, accumulated debt has decreased, and some prominent and once-troubled groups have enjoyed unprecedented philanthropic favor and are on the road to stability." Washington Post 12/31/00

    • CLASSICAL DEFINITION: "What is the relationship of America's classical music to its popular music? Should singers be allowed to go back and forth between the opera house and popular radio? Are Broadway musicals the real American opera? Should symphonic composers use jazz and popular music in their works? There was a very good reason - cultural self-definition - to have these discussions, but at some point it should have become obvious that these were mostly hollow questions about the status of different types of music, rather than real issues of substance." Washington Post 12/31/00

    • THE NEW NEW GROVE: After 20 years of work and expanding to 29 volumes, the New Grove Dictionary of Music - the world's standard music reference work - hits this shelves next week. Editor Stanley Sadie expounds on how it was put together. The Independent (London) 12/30/00

      • DEFINITIVE UPDATE: With 25 million words, with more than 29,000 articles from 6,000 contributors in 98 countries, the New Grove is changing fast. Sunday Times (London) 12/31/00
    • THE BACH YEAR: After a year of Bach celebrations the world over, what did it all add up to? "Paradoxically, all the fuss and manic eagerness to outdo the competition seems only to obstruct an understanding of Bach's music. The more we are led to believe that we can catch hold of Bach in his entirety, the more he slips from our grasp." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12/31/00
    • NEW LIFE AT 72: At an age when most violinists are retiring, 72-year-old Aaron Rosand is back in the recording studio. The whys say something about the changing circumstances of the recording industry. Philadelphia Inquirer 12/31/00

    Friday December 29

    • MOOG LIVES: In the 60s the Moog synthesizer was synonymous with electronic music. But for years Bob Moog hasn't been able to put his name on his instruments (he sold it in the 70s). Now he's back with a new instrument he hopes will take on the market again. Chicago Tribune 12/29/00
    • TOP TINA: What was the top-grossing musical act in concert in 2000? Britney? N'Sync? Nope - it was 61-year-old Tina Turner, who took in $80 million on tour. The Globe & Mail (Canada) (AP) 12/29/00
    • MUSIC ON THE SIDE: It costs more to buy a movie soundtrack recording than to see the movie. But sometimes the music is better than the movie. "There may have been a dearth of Oscar contenders this year, but there was no shortage of noteworthy soundtracks. Some were loaded with new hits, others more like mix-tapes of beloved oldies." National Post (Canada) 12/29/00

    Thursday December 28

    • CONCERTS WITHOUT LEAVING THE HOUSE: New internet music sites give classical music lovers the chance to attend concerts on demand without ever actually being there. New York Times 12/28/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • OPERA AUSTRALIA EXEC QUITS: The chairman of Opera Australia has suddenly resigned, leading to speculation about the decision. The Age (Melbourne) 12/28/00

    Wednesday December 27

    • WHY ENGLISH COMPOSERS DON'T RULE: "The term 'English Composer' was for so long an oxymoron that even after a century of high achievement it retains something of the pejorative. Preface it with the adjective "lesser-known", and a mighty wave of mediocrity arises from the musical unconscious - a wave of meadowy pleasantries, warm-ale songs dressed up as symphonies and contrapuntal correctness masquerading as creative inspiration." The Telegraph (London) 12/27/00
    • USING NAPSTER TO MAKE MONEY: The music industry has always feared whatever was the latest technological advancement. "But instead of trying to burn down the bridge that now exists between users and musicians (and their labels), why not use that bridge to create, say, a list of all the people who loved the lastest Dido album? Then you can talk with them when it comes time to sell her next one. What's that worth? Well, let's see: you can sell way more copies of her next album." Inside.com 12/27/00
      • IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM..."As record companies try to figure out how they can build businesses on file-swapping services, they need to think more about what people will use to listen to those swapped files. No one I know wants to center his own music-listening habits around a computer." The Standard 12/27/00
    • NEW YORK PHIL HELD HOSTAGE - DAY 486: The New York Philhamonic search for a new music director drags on - indeed, the orchestra seems further away from making a decision than it was a few months ago. "I think everybody would like to get the thing over and done with. But at the same time there is a very strong sense that we have to do it right. And there are different ideas of what `doing it right' is." New York Times 12/27/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • BEATLE FASCINATION: Thirty-something years after they were at the peak of their game, the Beatles are again topping the music charts. But just as they were coming into their own, all those years ago, it was already time for the band to break up. New York Review of Books 01/11/01

    Tuesday December 26

    • UNCERTAINTY AT CARNEGIE: Plans for Carnegie Hall's future are uncertain in the wake of the resignation of its director. For months long-time tenants of the hall have been having difficulty booking future dates, and it's difficult to know what the concert hall's policies will be. The New York Times 12/26/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • CAN MACHINES IMPROVISE JAZZ? "Even more than most creative endeavors, jazz is surrounded by a rhetoric of intuition and inspiration, especially with regard to the central role of improvisation. Yet now another endeavor once thought to be our own exclusive cognitive province has, it would appear, been colonized by faster, smarter, ever more complex computing systems." Feed 12/25/00

    Sunday December 24

    • AN OPERA BUFFA? The life of one of Italy's most controversial politicians is being made into an opera. The rise and precipitous fall of former Italian Prime Minister Bettino Craxi, who died in exile in Tunisia almost a year ago, has provided the inspiration for B.C, an 'opera oratorio in three short acts'. The Guardian (London) 12/24/00
    • LOOKING GOOD AT 400: Opera is 400 years old and still going strong. "One way in which opera stays healthy is by reinventing itself every generation or so. The old stereotypes - plump matrons impersonating tender young consumptives, tenors strutting their high Cs at the footlights - are so yesterday. Audiences are more demanding of opera now. It's no longer enough just to have great singing; people expect a total visual, dramatic and musical experience for their buck. Chicago Tribune 12/24/00
    • WIGGING OUT: For all its musical riches, London's concert venues are decidedly second rate acoustically. Except for one place - Wigmore Hall. It's hard to describe what the Wigmore means to those of us who play there. It has partly to do with the acoustics — which are perfect, as good as you'll find anywhere — and partly to do with the intimacy. When you're on stage, the audience feels incredibly close." The New York Times 12/24/00 (one-time registration required for entry)

    Friday December 22

    • COME CLOSER, MY PRETTY... The BBC's Tony Hall is about to become the new head of London's Royal Opera House. But "with three changes of ROH director in as many years, Hall will need to be motivated by something more than his love of opera if he is to take on what some see as the art world's poisoned chalice. What can he be thinking of?" The Guardian (London) 12/22/00
    • A RUTTER CHRISTMAS: "As composer, arranger and conductor, John Rutter has become the musical equivalent of Dickens, synonymous with the season. But it is as a writer of carols that he has really made his mark. He has written around two dozen. At this time of year, it is hard to escape his hummable, jolly, accessible songs." The Guardian (London) 12/22/00
    • DUBLIN'S "SICK" CONERT HALL: When it opened in 1981, Dublin's National Concert Hall took the city off the list as the only European capital without a major concert hall. But "ask the individuals for whom it was designed as a workplace and you'll pick up the strongest strand of dissent. It wouldn't be far off the mark to say that there's a feeling among the members of the National Symphony Orchestra that the hall may qualify as a 'sick' building." Irish Times 12/22/00
    • ANTI-TECH MONKS: A group of Greek monks released a CD last summer and it quickly caused a sensation in Greece, going platinum. Now they've made a video warning about the dancers of technology. "The video features a gold-garbed man who represents an evil computer user, armed with personal data. The bearded monks belt out the lyrics to 'Tsipaki', or 'Little Computer Chip': 'I'm a chip, so small, that will lead you to slavery'." San Francisco Examiner (AP) 12/22/00

    Thursday December 21

    • BERLIN'S COUP: Franz Xaver Ohnesorg was controversial as the head of Carnegie Hall. But news he's going to run the Berlin Philharmonic is being greeted by the Germans as a coup.  He was first considered for the job with Berlin's leading orchestra in 1996, but withdrew because the Berlin Senate's regulations seemed too restrictive. He believes that cultural institutions need to be managed as business enterprises, as "cultural service providers." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12/21/00
    • RICHEST PRIZE: The American Academy of Arts and Letters has awarded Chen Yi, a prolific composer who was born in China and became an American citizen last year, as the second winner of the Charles Ives Living, a $225,000 prize awarded every three years. "The Ives Living, which is the largest prize available exclusively to composers, was established in 1998, and is paid in three annual installments of $75,000."  New York Times 12/21/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • MYSTERIOUS SACKING? If Rob Gibson wasn't fired as the director of Lincoln Center Jazz, why did the organization hastily arrange to have the locks and computer codes changed right after he left? As usual though, everyone's speaking well of the dearly departed. New York Times 12/21/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • DEATH BY DICTIONARY: The long-awaited new edition of the New Grove music dictionary - the definitive music reference work, has mistakenly killed off Gilles Tremblay, one of Canada's most well-known composers. "Naturally, these mistakes do happen, but that's a particularly bad one. We really do try not to kill people off if at all possible." CBC 12/21/00
    • NAKED VERDI: The English National Opera dramatizes Verdi's "Requiem." Okay, but stripping off clothes to reveal all on the stage? "Nudity in opera is nothing new (Maria Ewing stripped off as Salome in 1988) but a naked mum-to-be is a first, I think. It was a strange context for such a familiar image." The Independent 12/17/00
    • A PROTEST UPHELD: When they stood up and booed Harrison Birtwistle’s "Gawain" at the Royal Opera House, they were branded "musical terrorists," protesting Birtwistles gnarly music. Susequently they were known as "The Hecklers", fighting against modern music by disrupting high-profile performances. But "when a national newspaper labelled Keith Burstein, one of the co-founders of the group, a heckler, he angrily claimed it was "an out-right lie". He successfully sued for libel and was awarded £8,000." The Scotsman 12/21/00
    • NAPSTER BACKLASH? Fans understand Napster's just trying to survive, but its alliance with corporate biggies and the likelihood it will start charging turns fans off. "Napster is just one of many ways for people to get music. It can easily be substituted with a similar service. Its not about Napster, its about what it can do for me - even though I do love Napster." Chicago Tribune 12/21/00

    Wednesday December 20

    • CARNEGIE HALL CHIEF QUITS: Carnegie Hall's top administrator, buffeted by the recent resignations of four senior staff and the general unhappiness of the Hall's workers, suddenly resigned Tuesday. He'll move to a similar position with the Berlin Philharmonic in his native Germany. Nando Times (AP) 12/19/00
      • ROUGH TIME: "His tenure there was stormy, partly because of what critics called an autocratic management style, but yesterday he denied that problems at Carnegie Hall led him to leave." New York Times 12/20/00 (one-time registration required for access)
      • UNFULLFILLED POTENTIAL? "Mr. Ohnesorg probably didn't have enough time to implement what, as far as I understood, were very exciting ideas. The Berlin Philharmonic is very lucky to get him." Washington Post 12/20/00
    • MOSCOW SYMPHONY ON $5 A DAY: American cellist works on a tour with the Moscow Symphony. "On what orchestra members say was their most grueling tour in years, he put up with conditions that would have prompted unionized American musicians to go on strike. For Russian musicians it was all in a day's work." New York Times 12/20/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • A BRANDING THING: The Australian Art Orchestra has made a deal with the Sydney Opera House. "The partnership means that, over the next three years, the Sydney Opera House will produce a series of events and opportunities for the Art Orchestra. The Australian Art Orchestra will retain its name, but will be known as `The Sydney Opera House presents the Australian Art Orchestra'." The Age (Melbourne) 12/20/00
      • REACHING OUT: Sydney Opera House's "branding opportunity" with the Melbourne orchestra is an attempt by the Opera House to further establish itself as a fully functional performing arts centre." Sydney Morning Herald 12/20/00
    • BACKING OUT ON BACH: Deutsche Grammophon and its parent company, Universal, take the prize for chutzpah after finking out on John Eliot Gardiner in the middle of his massive cantata cycle - the Bach Pilgrimage, as it was called. The British conductor and his musicians have been spending the year dragging themselves through Europe and the United States, trying to perform all 198 of Bach's surviving cantatas, each one on the particular day of the liturgical year for which it was written - some 90 concerts in 15 countries, all in 'interesting' churches. The plan was that DGG would record them all and release one a week. But last July the record company decided it was all a tad pricey and pulled out, leaving the already cash-strapped Gardiner and his merry band of musicians scrambling for funds." National Post (Canada) 12/20/00
    • DON'T FORGET THE LITTLE GUYS: Just when it looked like MP3.com had settled its legal woes with recording companies, independent labels have taken the company to court. "Although MP3.com has entered into settlement agreements with the five major record labels, they have chosen to ignore their infringing actions with respect to independent labels." Wired 12/20/00
    • I WANNA HOLD YOUR HAND: Thirty years after they disbanded, the Beatles are hot again. "Their greatest hits album, "1", has now topped the charts in 30 countries around the world. Just five weeks after being released, the album of their 27 chart toppers has sold 12 million copies." The Globe & Mail (Reuters)(Canada) 12/20/00

    Tuesday December 19

    • BRENDEL OPENS UP: Although notoriously reluctant to give interviews, pianist Alfred Brendel granted rare access to a BBC film crew for a movie celebrating his 70th birthday. "Somehow it dawned on me that the world is absurd. And that art is the antidote to the world. Art gives a sense of order against the chaos of our surroundings." The Telegraph (London) 12/19/00
    • KICKING THE FRANCHISE: The Three Tenors' concerts have long since become boilerplate gigs for the rich and fatuous, scripted down to the last medley-encore. Booming amplification makes their voices hover over the orchestra like surreal, singing whales; they could just as well be up there lip-synching to their recordings, and, one suspects, the fans would be just as happy. Chicago Tribune 12/19/00
    • NATIONAL JAZZ MUSEUM FOR HARLEM: The US Congress has approved a $1 million matching grant to construct a New York-based jazz museum. But "competition in fund-raising with other jazz institutions seems inevitable. Last May, for example, the Jazz at Lincoln Center organization announced plans for a $103 million home at Columbus Circle that is to include a Jazz Hall of Fame along with performance and rehearsal spaces and a classroom."  New York Times, 12/19/2000

    Monday December 18

    • UNIVERSAL MUSIC? "The celestial jukebox, according to its legions of proponents, will be a vast digital cloud of music that contains every song ever recorded. Rather than having to lug around compact disks and cassettes to stick in stereos or car players, people will be able to log onto the celestial jukebox from computers, televisions, stereos, automobiles, cell phones and even household appliances." Trouble is, it'll never work. Inside.com 12/18/00
    • GREAT DAY IN NEW YORK: Fifty-four composers, including Elliott Carter, Steve Reich, Joan Tower, Chen Yi, Stephen Sondheim, John Zorn, Wynton Marsalis and Meredith Monk will convene in New York for an unprecedented nine-concert festival. 'A Great Day in New York.' The series was partly inspired by the classic 1959 photograph 'A Great Day in Harlem' which brought together some of the great jazz players of the day." Sonicnet 12/18/00
    • A HISTORY OF JAZZ? Ken Burns' new 20-hour documentary on jazz gives a distorted view. "For example, the last forty years, i.e. forty percent, of jazz history is crammed into one two hour segment. Therefore, the series, while it may contain some illuminating and/or entertaining portions, is unbalanced and cannot be taken too seriously, as it emphasizes material most familiar to most viewers and does not expose them to today's music." Public Arts 12/18/00
    • RECORDING FEE: Canadian government imposes a tax on recordable CDs and cassettes to "reimburse performers whose works are copied in homes for private use." CBC 12/18/00

    Sunday December 17

    • TAKING A CHANCE ON SOMETHING NEW: "Most orchestras are still wedded to the time-honored image of a paternalistic European music director steeped in the Romantic tradition. And as luck would have it, right now there simply aren't enough of those guys to go around." So how about a new approach? How about some moxie and inventiveness? San Francisco Chronicle 12/17/00
    • JOHN ELIOT GARDINER AXED: Deutsche Grammophon has canceled its recording contract with John Eliot Gardiner. This just as Gardiner finishes recording "his remarkable series of 200 cantatas in a year-long 'pilgrimage' to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Bach's death. Sales of expensive new classical performances are plummeting, and the major corporations are cancelling contracts with all but the most bankable and attractive of celebrity performers." The Independent (London) 12/17/00
    • THE ESSENTIAL BERNSTEIN: "Wisdom in the record business (if that phrase is not yet an oxymoron), for example, holds that a performer's drawing power drops precipitously after his or her death." But Leonard Berstein seems to be a name that still draws considerable interest in the music world. New York Times 12/17/00 (one-trime registration required for access)
    • NEW DIRECTOR FOR COVENT GARDEN: Tony Hall, the head of news and current affairs at the BBC, is expected to be named the new head of London's Royal Opera House. "The choice of Mr Hall signals a change of direction for the ROH. For the first time they have gone for a chief with no experience in opera or ballet, of running an arts venue, or with an arts background at all. But Mr Hall, an opera lover, is a proven administrator, in charge of 2,500 people at the BBC." The Independent (London) 12/17/00
    • JAZZ DIRECTOR RESIGNS: The director of Lincoln Center Jazz abruptly resigns, sparking all sorts of questions. New York Times 12/16/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • WHAT'S IT TAKE TO BE NO. 1? Kylie Minogue's new recording was listed as a No. 1 seller on the HMV charts even before the store had sold its first copy. Why? Not because consumers had bought her record;but because "HMV thinks consumers probably will buy the record, and wants to give its sales a nudge along." The Age (Melbourne) 12/16/00
    • STILL JUST A KID: Charlotte Church may be selling a ton of recordings and making a fortune, but she's still a kid:" I suppose, yeah. I'm not evil. I'm not that much of a devil. (Turning to mother) Am I acting a little more devilish as I get older, Mum? She says sometimes. There's a lot she doesn't know." San Francisco Chronicle 12/17/00

    Friday December 15

    • BAYREUTH STALEMATE: The culture secretary for the state of Bavaria says the state "cannot continue to devote taxpayers' money to the Bayreuth festival, given the uncertainty of its future. He has made no secret of the fact that he would like the 81-year-old Wolfgang Wagner to step down by the end of 2002. Despite the fact that all the festival performances are heavily sold out, Wagner is not prepared to give up the job or state subsidies, and pressure over the financial situation is growing." Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 12/15/00

    Thursday December 14

    • MAKING MUSIC: "While our word processors, spreadsheets, and graphic applications share the same basic conventions as their predecessors from the early nineties, the software employed by actual musicians to create and edit their sounds on the PC has undergone a dramatic transformation. Indeed, today's audio-production software features some of the most radical interface design anywhere. The funny thing about that transformation, though, is how backward-looking it turns out to be." Feed 12/11/00

    Wednesday December 13

    • VERDI CELEBRATIONS: "It will be 100 years ago next month that Giuseppe Verdi died, and Italy has been yearning ever since for his unifying genius. But while Italy is playing up the Verdi year for all it is worth in tourist dollars and Rome-promoted national cohesion, the uncomfortable questions are not being asked. Verdi represents an end, not a renewal." The Telegraph (London) 12/13/00
    • COMMITMENT TO CLASSICAL? Chicago's mom-and-pop classical music station WNIB was a labor of love - a low-budget afair that survived decades of buy-out offers on the strength of its owners' commitment. But $165 million is too much money to turn down... Also too much money for the new owners to continue the classical format. Chicago Tribune 12/13/00

    Tuesday December 12

    • HIP HOP PROFILING? "The usual argument in support of the rappers-are-criminals theory boils down to this: If an artist boasts on record about beating people, shooting people, taking or selling drugs or abusing women, why shouldn't the police consider them to be prime suspects? The answer is we should expect people, especially police, to distinguish between fantasy and reality." Boston Herald 12/12/00
    • CLEAN FOR WHAT? To have their music sold in stores like Walmart, artists whose work contains profanity or controversial lyrics often record cleaned up versions. "You might think that these edited-for-content discs would be a popular alternative in an age of edgy music. Wrong. Young fans and artists hate them, many merchants disdain them, parents are confused by them, and even industry honchos find them wanting in quality." Los Angeles Times 12/12/00
    • THE COW IN BARBARA HENDRICKS' POOL: "The intruder, either hungry for better grazing or charmed by the American diva's voice, had broken through a series of fences before ending up in the water." Ninemsn (AAP) 12/12/00

    Monday December 11

    • LA SCALA OPENS: La Scala's opening night is the most glamorous event on the annual arts calendar. This year's opening is high stakes though: "The first is the recent announcement that its standing-room area, lair of the claque and wellspring of disruptive booing, will be permanently closed - a brave, if not foolhardy, step that has excited enormous antagonism. The second is that January 27 will mark the centenary of the death of Giuseppe Verdi. The Telegraph (London) 12/11/00
    • A SEASON FOR VERDI: La Scala, just down the road from the hotel where the composer died in January 1901, is dedicating its season to him, and the city has mounted a magnificent and comprehensive Verdi exhibition in the Palazzo Reale. The Times (London) 12/11/00
    • DUTCH OPERA CANCELED: "An opera about a strong-minded wife of the prophet Muhammad has been canceled in the Netherlands after the Moroccan cast and composer were pressured into withdrawing by Muslim clerics. The intimidation of the cast has caused a stir in Dutch cultural circles because it is seen as reminiscent of the censorship and the threats against Salman Rushdie and other Muslim writers who have touched on subjects involving the Koran." New York Times 12/10/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • "ZERO CHANCE": It was only a month or so ago that Mariss Jansons was being talked up as a successor to Kurt Masur at the New York Philharmonic. But the marriage is evidently not to be. Critics cite the "lack of devotion reportedly exhibited by Philharmonic musicians during a concert Jansons conducted them in on Oct. 31. Reviews of the performance were mixed, and some felt that the connection between Jansons and the Philharmonic musicians was lackluster. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12/11/00
    • TORONTO SYMPHONY DEFICIT: After a musicians' strike and a prolonged search for a new executive director, the Toronto Symphony has posted the largest deficit in its history. "The orchestra now has an accumulated deficit of $4.9 million, after an operating loss of $2.3 million this past year." CBC 12/11/00
    • NEW COVENT GARDEN LEADER? Michael Kaiser departs as head of London's Royal Opera House this Friday. No successor has been chosen yet, though the short list is said to include Pierre Audi, artistic director of the Netherlands Opera for 12 years and founder of London's Almeida Theatre, Rudolf Berger, who runs Strasbourg Opera, Richard Lyttleton, president of EMI Classics, and Tony Hall, currently head of BBC News. BBC 12/11/00

    Sunday December 10

    • WHAT DEFINES A CLASSIC? "Occasionally we act as though artistic worth were constant across the ages - hence the phrase 'timeless classic' - but it isn't so. The past, as novelist L.P. Hartley remarked, is another country, and the future another one still. Why assume that audiences in all those countries value the same things? And why assume that the things valued by future listeners are more profound and more important than those that appeal to a composer's contemporaries?" San Francisco Chroinicle 12/10/00
    • CAUTIOUS ROUTE TO STARDOM: "Who could predict that an immigrant from war-torn Lebanon who took her first singing lesson at 19, who had never appeared on a professional stage before arriving at the Met in 1997 - who was faxing her homework back to engineering school on the opera-house fax, for goodness' sake - would now be the name on every opera-house director's lips?" The Globe & Mail (Canada) 12/09/00
    • TEFLON TENORS: "After two years of touring America, the Irish Tenors have their treble act off pat, all flirty good humour with the girls, thigh-slapping crack with the lads and soft-focus nostalgia for the audience. But behind the conviviality is a steely sense of purpose that has made them one of the biggest concert draws in America. They joke as they are interviewed, but the trio's belief in their product is unbreakable, with awkward questions bouncing off their jocular presence. They are the Teflon tenors." Sunday Times (London) 12/10/00
    • GRAZIE, PREGO AND BRAVOS: Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras get together for a rare conference call joint interview. But can anyone get a word in edgewise? Chicago Tribune 12/10/00

    Friday December 8

    • MAKING RECORDING PAY: At a time when classical music recording labels are floundering, the London Symphony Orchestra, which started its own recording label last year, is actually turning a profit."This may not be the answer to all the industry's ills, but it certainly promises a wider variety of new recordings than might otherwise be on offer, whatever happens to all those labels that have dominated the field for so long." The Guardian (London) 12/08/00
    • WIDOWS FOREVER: In 1905 Franz Lehar modernized opera, and made himself a fortune. His "The Merry Widow was the "Cats" of its day. "Within three and a half years of its premiere Merry Widow' racked up more than 18,000 performances in German, English and American theaters. Twenty years on, its audience was counted in the millions." Opera News 12/00
    • PEOPLE GO DOWN: Up With People, the ever-bright enthusiastic singing organization founded in 1965 is shutting down. Members paid $14,000 a year each to belong, and the group has five touring troupes. "The group's 262 employees worldwide will lose their jobs, including 66 at the headquarters north of Denver. The headquarters land and building will be sold to help pay off the group's $7.3 million in debts and leasing commitments and provide operating cash." Cleveland Plain Dealer (AP) 12/08/00

    Thursday December 7

    • YO-YO MA'S BIGGEST SELLER? "Costco is our No. 1 outlet for Yo-Yo Ma,'' said Larry Germack, Sony's director of sales. Bigger than Tower Records? A nod. Amazon.com? Another nod. Ma sells about 20,000 units a year, at $11.99 apiece retail. Who sells more? ``Ricky Martin sells about 60,000,'' said Costco's Bost. "But how many years will he last?'' San Jose Mercury-News 12/05/00
    • WHERE'S A YENTA WHEN YOU NEED ONE? The New York Philharmonic's search for a new music director has turned into agony. "The search could be likened to the plight of picky single New York women. It’s like being a marriage broker. You ask, ‘Are you interested?’ Then you go out on a date. But it seems the best ones are always taken." Handicapping the field. New York Observer 12/06/00
    • ALL THAT JAZZ: "At least 50 books about jazz were published in the last few months or are scheduled to arrive in bookstores in the next several months." Why now? New York Times 12/07/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • RECORD ST. LOUIS GIFT: "The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra will receive a record-breaking $40 million gift, it was announced Wednesday morning. The money, from the Jack Taylor family, owners of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, is in the form of a four-year challenge grant, and is the largest single personal contribution ever made to an American orchestra for its operations and endowment." St. Louis Post-Dispatch 12/07/00
    • OLDEST LOVE SONG: "Archaeologists excavating a 4,300 year-old Egyptian tomb at Abu Sir near Cairo have found what they believe is the world's oldest known written music — a love song." Discovery.com 12/07/00

    Wednesday December 6

    • COMPLETING ELGAR: Two years ago the music establishment was deriding composer Anthony Payne as a vandal for daring to complete Elgar's unfinished Third Symphony. But since its debut, the piece has been performed more than 100 times and the critics seem to like it. The Globe & Mail 12/06/00
    • MAN ON A MISSION: The self-effacing pianist Maurizio Pollini has always been a bit of a mystery, ever since his abrupt withdrawal from public life after winning the Warsaw Chopin Competition at 18. "When I learn a new piece, I try to work as quickly as possible at first; I have to know how it sounds, before I can begin to work on what it means." The Independent 12/02/00
    • A STRANGER AT HOME: Craig Armstrong is, internationally, the best-known Scottish composer of his generation, and he’s scored countless high-profile films. So why is he relatively unknown to his fellow Scots? "It's partly me. I'm bit of a hermit. I don't like to be known." The Herald (Glasgow) 12/06/00
    • THE BATTLE FOR JAZZ: "In this month's Jazzwise magazine, saxophonist David Murray, the most recorded artist in the history of jazz, issues a declaration of war against Wynton Marsalis. Murray accuses him of stifling the creativity of a music which is inherently about change and improvisation, and of using his power to exclude those who do not adhere to his conservative agenda. 'This is the most non-creative time in the whole history of jazz. They've stopped the clock and gone back again, to the 1960s and late 1950s, to define jazz. These guys are not doing jazz a service'." The Independent 12/003/00
    • NOT SO FREE: After a year of legal battles, MP3 is back online with two new levels of service. "For no charge, members can store up to 25 CDs. That service will be supported by advertising. For an annual fee of $49.95, members will be able to store up to 500 CDs and enjoy more features and less advertising." Orange County Register (AP) 12/06/00

    Tuesday December 5

    • A DISASTER OF OPERATIC PROPORTIONS: Britain's TV channel 4 scored one of the worst ratings in its history Saturday night with its filmed version of Glyndebourne youth opera Zoe. "The programme was watched by a mere 300,000 viewers, one of the broadcaster's worst prime-time audiences ever." The Guardian (London) 12/05/00
    • AUSTRALIAN ORCHESTRAS WARNED: Leading new music proponents warn that Australia's six major orchestras risk becoming marginalized and irrelevant if they don't do better at promoting new repertoire. "I’m concerned that the former ABC orchestras are now merely an ornament in our cultural lives dedicated to perpetuating the European canon." Gramophone 12/00
    • PIANO HERO: Li Yundi is only 17, but last month he won the notoriously picky Chopin International Piano Competition in Warsaw. "Displaying what judges called virtuosic technique and a poetic style, Li beat out 97 participants to become the first gold medalist at the competition since 1985." Now he's a national hero back home. Los Angeles Times 12/05/00
    • CHECKING IN WITH LORIN: Conductor Lorin Maazel is 70 and still looking for new challenges. "Not every musician has loved his tough style, but Maazel's impact on the musical world through weighty interpretations of the classics has been undeniable." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12/05/00

    Monday December 4

    • OPERA AND ADULTERY: It's a natural pairing. And the changing notions of one are reflected in the other. New Statesman 12/04/00
    • BIDDING ON LA DIVINA: Maria Callas's personal things are being auctioned off. "Among the 415 lots are a pair of seamless, black stockings, a pale pink satin slip, a purple and black silk corset, and the much-photographed white mink stole that Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis gave her before he abandoned her for Jacqueline Kennedy." CNN.com 12/03/00
    • THE DISH ON OPERA: "James Jorden is the feared, revered creator of parterre.com, a biting, often bitchy roundup of raves, rants, reviews and gossip that's read by everyone who's anyone in opera." New York Post 12/04/00
    • ANOTHER ENDANGERED CLASSICAL MUSIC STATION: Chicago is one of the rare US cities that has two classical music stations. That may soon change. WNIB, the second station, has been sold, and it's not considered likely that the new owners will keep the classical format. Chicago Sun-Times 12/04/00
      • DEATHWATCH: A mood befitting a bedside vigil has descended on Chicago's classical music community, with tributes issued, guarded hopes expressed and numerous experts trying to determine whether WNIB's situation was symptomatic of some grave illness plaguing America's classical music scene. Chicago Tribune 12/04/00

    Sunday December 3

    • WHAT'S WRONG WITH TRYING TO BE THE BEST? Baritone Thomas Allen is tired of the charges of elitism being hurled at London's Royal Opera House. "If you want excellence, you can't escape élitism. It's the same with football. Cream rises to the top. Manchester United wants the best and works hard to get it. It's nearly as expensive and impossible to get into a great football match as into an opera house." The Observer (London) 12/03/00
    • INDEPENDENTLY WEALTHY: So the major recording labels gutted their classical rosters and new releases slowed to a trickle. Small independent labels took up the challenge this year. Here's the Chicago Tribune's picks for best classical recordings of 2000. Chicago Tribune 12/03/00
    • POLITICS OF WORLD MUSIC: "In the days before World Music, the Music of Africa series of 10 LPs, recorded in Africa and introduced by Hugh Tracey, were one of the few ways the general listener might encounter African music. A charismatic Englishman, Tracey was the great pioneer in the recording and study of Africa's traditional sounds. But, throughout the surge of international interest in African music in the Eighties and the world-music boom that followed, Tracey's name was barely mentioned. Not only did his ethnographic approach seem antiquated, Tracey himself was an embarrassment - a colonial figure who had distorted the music for his own purposes and allowed himself to become a tool of apartheid." The Telegraph (London) 12/02/00
    • BOCELLI'S NO BETTER: Some critics are seeing improvement in tenor Andrea Bocelli's singing in his new recording of "La Boheme." Why? "Mr. Bocelli's fans find his singing to be moving. I don't know what they are hearing. His life story may be moving: a blind, ruddily handsome Italian of modest background takes up singing late, overcomes his timidity and achieves a dream-come-true career. But his singing is flat expressively. Phrase after phrase of Rodolfo's music is sung with a husky, generic earnestness. Did no one discuss subtle points of interpretation with him?" New York Times 12/03/00 (one-time registration required for access)
    • SO MUCH FOR THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT: Three years ago women in rock music dominated popular music. But in the past year there's been a backlash. ''Lilith didn't rock. It was like, `OK, women want to go off and do women's music.' But how can men identify with this? Especially young men? They were accepted at Lilith, but they weren't really welcome. And I think it's partly responsible for what's happening in rock now. The music is loud and rude and crude. Guys can relate, but women can't. There's definitely a backlash against women in the rock world.'' Boston Globe 12/03/00

    Friday December 1

    • TOUGH SEASON: Argentina's National Symphony is wrapping up its season. But it's been a tough year for the orchestra. Due to "indifference" by the government and withholding of funding "several concerts had to change programme or artists, and many didn’t get paid, along with programme-note writers, purveyors of orchestral parts, and, most grievously, the Auditorio de Belgrano." Buenos Aires Herald 11/30/00
    • OPERA BROADCASTS CLOUDY? The Metropolitan Opera saturday broadcasts begin their new season this weekend. But there is anxiety about the future. Texaco has sponsored the Met broadcasts for 60 years, the longest continuous sponsorship in America. The company has recently merged with Chrevron though, and neither company will commit to the future. Hartford Courant 12/01/00
    • GENERATIONAL CHANGE: Ronald Wilford, one of the most powerful figures in the classical music industry, is stepping aside as Columbia Artists Management top boss. "Mr. Wilford, who recently turned 73, has been with Columbia Artists since 1958 and has been president and chief executive since 1970. Famously press-shy but commanding behind the scenes, he had long dismissed talk of any succession." New York Times 12/01/00 (one-time registration required for access)


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