hide captionPlacido Domingo in a more familiar role: performing at Zouk Michael, north of Beirut, Lebanon July 17, 2011.
Placido Domingo in a more familiar role: performing at Zouk Michael, north of Beirut, Lebanon July 17, 2011.
The Louisville Orchestra has canceled its September and October concerts due to a contract dispute with musicians. Heavy pressure came from the American Federation of Musicians, which had placed the Kentucky orchestra on its "unfair list," meaning that any union member who plays for the symphony faces fines.
According to Nielsen Soundscan, classical music had the biggest gain in sales of CDs of any genre for the first half of 2011 – 13% over the first half of 2010, totaling 3.8 million in sales. It's further evidence that there remains a strong market of classical music fans who prefer discs to downloads.
Speaking of different ways of getting to the music we love: The New York Times has this analysis of the newest addition to the streaming services: "If you can resign yourself to the effort involved in rooting out the recordings you want — which isn't so different from scouring through secondhand record stores looking for specific gems and finding unexpected treasures along the way — then Spotify quickly becomes addictive."
The last full-time classical music critic for an English-language Canadian paper has been reassigned — as a business reporter. John Terauds of the Toronto Star writes: "This morning, fresh from vacation, I found out that I am no longer music critic but a reporter for the business desk at the Star — a bit of news that still has my head spinning a bit."
Placido Domingo's given an interview to Billboard about his new gig fighting piracy: "I want talented young performers today, of all genres, to enjoy the same opportunities that I have had. They can only do that if people respect their work and their rights."
Conductor and Bard College President Leon Botstein on Sibelius: "A modernist in traditional musical trappings, a globalist whose work spoke in a nationalist dialect, an innovator whose pleasing tonalities snuck his inventions into the popular ear, Sibelius is as underappreciated today as he was perhaps overlionized between the World Wars."
In the Washington Post, Anne Midgette offers a primer to contemporary classical music. "These are the equivalent of a one-day tour of a major metropolis, pointing out a few highlights to give you a general sense of the landscape of living composers, hoping that you'll return to visit, in depth, whatever grabs your interest."
It's taken nearly 20 years to realize, but Australia now has its own all-star orchestra, comprised of Aussie musicians who perform in more than 45 symphonies around the world, from Vienna to Chicago.
Conductor Helmuth Rilling is retiring from his marvelous Oregon Bach Festival – and he's named a British 35-year-old named Matthew Halls to succeed him. Halls is a early-music conductor and keyboardist. Despite some very big name fellow contenders, Halls made such a huge splash during a guest appearance this summer that the board asked, "Why are we waiting?"
More good news from the Northwest: travel guru Rick Steves is donating $1 million to an arts center in his hometown — the Edmonds Center for the Arts in Washington state. Steves' father owned a piano store on Edmonds' Main Street, and he taught piano himself to fund his early jaunts to Europe.
Depite its severe financial troubles, the Philadelphia Orchestra is on a European tour. Filing from Lucerne, Switzerland, David Patrick Stearns notes: "This tour had to happen, if only to keep from burning industry bridges."
And the ensemble's incoming music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, is donating an extra week of his conducting services in his inaugural season.
More news about Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's "psycho opera": it is opening at St. Ann's Warehouse on October 12, it's called Stop the Virgens and she says "it should feel like a psychedelic ride laced with catharsis."