Music Articles

Around The Classical Internet: August 19, 2011

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Israeli flutist Guy Eshed and Palestinian violinist Tyme Khleifi speak in Seoul in advance of a West-Eastern Divan Orchestra concert at the Korean border. near the border with North Korea next week. i

Israeli flutist Guy Eshed and Palestinian violinist Tyme Khleifi speak in Seoul in advance of a West-Eastern Divan Orchestra concert at the Korean border. near the border with North Korea next week. KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption KIM JAE-HWAN/AFP/Getty Images
Israeli flutist Guy Eshed and Palestinian violinist Tyme Khleifi speak in Seoul in advance of a West-Eastern Divan Orchestra concert at the Korean border. near the border with North Korea next week.

Israeli flutist Guy Eshed and Palestinian violinist Tyme Khleifi speak in Seoul in advance of a West-Eastern Divan Orchestra concert at the Korean border. near the border with North Korea next week.

  • Violinist Nigel Kennedy, known for speaking his mind, has something to say about Bach. In program notes for his recent all-Bach performance at the BBC Proms, he railed against period instrument practitioners: "How can music be authentic if it is stripped of passion and made into an exercise of painfully self-conscious technique?"
  • This will undoubtedly further infuriate Kennedy: Chicago now has its own period opera outfit. The Haymarket Opera Company will launch with a performance of Handel's Aci, Galatea e Polifemo September 9th.
  • More good news from an emerging opera company: "In roughly five years, the Opera Company of Philadelphia has morphed from a conservative, standard-repertoire-based organization to a haven for new opera with a speed that astounds even those who made it happen."
  • Now that he's done a concert at the border of North and South Korea, Daniel Barenboim has proposed a West-Eastern Divan Orchestra performance in Tahrir Square.
  • Tragic news: Among the destruction of the UK riots, an internationally known flutist named Carla Rees has suffered great losses including 10 instruments (some custom made), a music library of 600 unpublished pieces written for her and her contemporary music ensemble, and her two cats.
  • "After six years of delays, scandals, firings and resignations, and charges of embezzlement, as well as unforeseen architectural challenges on a mortally wounded building" – not to mention expenses of some $760 million – the renovated Bolshoi Theater will reopen Oct. 28.
  • In other news from Russia, Valery Gergiev denied rumors that the Mariinsky Theater's second stage, due to open next year, won't open until 2015: "Do not believe the nonsense about the 2015 deadline; work is in full swing and we are keeping a close eye on the construction process to ensure that nobody works half-heartedly."
  • Speaking of cultural emporiums, Iceland's new Harpa center (the Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Center) will open its doors this weekend. "When Harpa held an open house with classical concerts over three days in mid-May, 100,000 people showed up, an astonishing number for a country whose entire population is less than 320,000."
  • David Patrick Stearns is upping the ante over the classical clothing wars, with the latest skirmish set off by Yuja Wang's minidress in Los Angeles: "Classical music is turning into its own slutwalk, with artists seizing upon every possible media outlet, and looking as provocative as possible."
  • An $82 million collection of seventeen instruments, including five Stradivari and four del Gesù violins, has vanished. They belonged to Dietmar Machold, one of the world's foremost dealers in rare violins, who was already being investigated for fraud.
  • A "mobile concert hall" is being developed to bring music back to northern Japan after the tsunami devastation.
  • George Steel, the general manager and artistic director of New York City Opera, had a sit-down with the New York Times to discuss his struggling company: "This is not how I imagined that it would all go."
  • Parterre Box has published a cutting letter from a longtime NYCO patron in response to a company solicitation: "I feel quite insulted by your brochure. The extremely offhand and casual way you present a 400% or 500% ticket price increase and a move to what seem like rather substandard (however 'curated') venues is especially insensitive."
  • James Levine has revealed that he's undergone two more back surgeries since the spring, and is now planning to begin rehearsing at the Met just after Labor Day. His spokesperson, his brother Tom, says: "The surgeries have done what they're supposed to do."
  • Meanwhile, Parterre takes on Levine's travails in a Photoshop mashup.
  • Another major Western classical music institution is developing its Chinese audience: "In what appears to be a pioneering venture for both parties, the New York Philharmonic has signed an agreement with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra to collaborate on a new orchestral training institute in Shanghai, as well as a series of touring exchanges and joint commissioning of new works."
  • And young singers are trying to stake their claim in China as well, spending their summer at a government-run, month-long training camp that teaches them to sing Western-style opera in passable Mandarin.
  • The curtain's come down for a rabidly followed opera blog. Brad Wilber, a reference librarian and occasional crossword puzzle creator for the New York Times, had a side hobby of publishing possible repertoire and casting for upcoming seasons at the Met on a website called "Met Futures." (He was often right on target: six months before the Met officially announced its 2011-12 season, Wiber had the entire rep list and major cast roster absolutely correct.)
  • The Met asked Wilber to take it down. The Met's reasons? That Wilber's bets were sometimes wrong, creating false expectations – although Wilber published a disclaimer – and that "it also sometimes muddied negotiations with artists." Wilber agreed.
  • A reflection on the blog's death: "Brad Wilber, singlehandedly, and at no cost to the Met, did a better job in the advance-buzz stakes than most Met staffers. They should have been showering him with love and attention — and given the accuracy of his listings, it's entirely plausible to believe that he had a few back-channels open for much of Met Futures's existence."
  • Two Israeli artists currently engaged at the Rossini Opera Festival, where Graham Vick has premiered a polemical Mosè in Egitto, called his production "dangerous and offensive."
  • The audience's response? "Polarizing Vick left Pesaro's audiences either loving or hating his reread of Rossini's Mosè in Egitto as applause battled with boos at the end of opening night. At one point, the loggione was so stirred-up that a fight ensued and police were called in for control."
  • Here's a searching essay from Tablet Magazine on that Wagner performance at Bayreuth by the Israeli Chamber Orchestra: "Why not prohibit Bruckner as well? And if anti-Semitism is a criterion for performance in Israel, why not ban Tchaikovsky, who hated Jews as much as Wagner did?... Liszt hated Jews as much as Wagner did, but, unlike his son-in-law, he wasn't smart enough to steal material from them."
  • Philip Glass has signed a contract to pen another new work: his memoir. The publication date has yet to be announced.
  • Louise Behrend, a violinist who helped establish the Suzuki teaching method in the U.S., died earlier this month at age 94. First a student and then a faculty member at Juilliard, she was hailed by the New York Times in 1950 as a performer "among the ranks of the better young American violinists."
  • Pittsburgh Symphony players are taking a 9.7 percent pay cut, and so is music director Manfred Honeck: "I felt I cannot stand in front of the orchestra and know that they sacrificed and I didn't."
  • 80 percent of the musicians in the Philadelphia Orchestra have rejected the strategic plan prepared by president Allison B. Vulgamore and other management leaders, saying: "The document and its suggestions have serious flaws, and we do not believe it will do what a strategic plan is supposed to do: create a plan for the future that protects the music we create and builds on our legacy as one of the world's greatest orchestras."
  • And a federal bankruptcy judge has approved the Louisille Orchestra's reorganization plans.
  • Here's an interview with the opera singer who appears on "Watch the Throne" with Kanye and Jay-Z. "I had a message on my phone one morning and it just said, 'Are you an opera singer, blah blah blah.' I was like, whoa that's really weird. I thought it was kind of a joke."
  • Call this a case of a musician caught red-cheeked. Claire Fox Hillard, music director of orchestras in Georgia and Mississippi, was arrested earlier this week on loitering charges. He was found with a towel wrapped around his waist. Hillard initially claimed that he was robbed, and that the assailants had cut off his pants. He later admitted that he had made the story up. The truth was that he and a female companion had been engaged in a sexual act, and he was caught pants down.



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