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Around The Classical Internet: December 2, 2011

Composer Philip Glass addressing an Occupy Wall Street protest at Lincoln Center on December 1, 2011, after the conclusion of his Gandhi-inspired opera Satyagraha at the Metropolitan Opera.

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  • Seth Colter Walls, who was also present, made some trenchant observations at The Awl: "'Exit down the ramp to the right'... is what opera-goers heard from police trying to keep the Occupy movement cleanly separate from the people who had just watched Satyagraha." He's posted videos of comments by Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson, who also attended the opera and the protest.
  • A third commentary from the scene by Parterre's Maury D'Annato, reflecting on some protestors' assumption that operagoers are super-wealthy: "Wary of an imagined us/them dynamic, I said to them, 'a lot of us are you, you know.'"
  • Former popera moppet Charlotte Church testified in the UK's ongoing media ethics inquiry that paparazzi had "a massive impact on my career ... my credibility has been blown to bits," and that the intrusiveness compelled her mother to attempt suicide.
  • Church says that when she was 13 years old, Rupert Murdoch offered her a deal: sing at his wedding to Wendi Deng for £100,000 – the biggest fee she'd been offered to that point – or, if she did it for free instead, she'd gain favorable coverage in his newspapers. She says her management and "the record company" – Sony – pressured her to sing for free. Yet good press didn't come through. (Video at link.)
  • There's been a lot of attention paid to Hedy Lamarr's totally unlikely life role as an inventor, but did you know she teamed up with composer George Antheil to create the grandfather of GPS and cell phones?
  • Riccardo Chailly has canceled his engagements for the next two months – including two weeks of very high-profile dates with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which is on the hunt for a new music director. Chailly's manager says that he has been suffering from heart problems.
  • The judge in the Philadelphia Orchestra bankruptcy case is agreeing to let the orchestra turn over two of its pension plans to the federal government.
  • Contract talks between New York City Opera and its two biggest unions broke down yesterday. Says an orchestra union rep: Proposed wage and benefit guarantees were for "ridiculously small amounts of money, down 90 percent. It was actually kind of hopeless."
  • Now the unions might call for strikes and boycotts.
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen has been given the 2012 Grawemeyer Award for his Violin Concerto by the University of Louisville. He is the only conductor to have led the premieres of two winning scores, his concerto and Peter Lieberson's Neruda Songs.
  • The Louisville Orchestra has resorted to posting ads on Craigslist for new musicians.
  • Andrew Kazdin, who produced essential recordings by the New York Philharmonic and Glenn Gould among many others, died at age 77 Monday. "After a recording session with Mr. Boulez and the New York Philharmonic in the 1970s, one player told a companion that when they recorded with Leonard Bernstein, they made a game of seeing how many wrong notes they could play before Bernstein or his producer, John McClure, stopped them. 'We can't do that with Boulez and Kazdin,' the musician said. 'Their ears are too good.'"
  • A British classical music journalist and teacher has been sentenced to 32 months in jail on child pornography charges.
  • Jan Swafford on composers' last articulated thoughts (and pieces): "Richard Wagner, in the truest and most lucid words he ever spoke: 'I feel lousy.'"
  • A profile of three London orchestras that fuse pop and classical and "think very differently about what people want to listen to," as the motto of the London Contemporary Orchestra goes.
  • The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has introduced "TweetSeats" in the back rows at some concerts, while one of the junior conductors tweets about the music from backstage — and the world hasn't come to an end.
  • An opera-singing dentist tried to bill a disgruntled patient $100 per day each day his negative review of her professional work stayed up on Yelp. We'd hate to encounter her fury if we badmouthed her arias recording.
  • "For arts organizations struggling with cash-strapped budgets and dwindling contributions, the Nutcracker Economy is more critical than ever... In some cases, they're trying more ambitious marketing campaigns and pulling in corporate sponsors to offset budget shortfalls. Other companies are launching bigger, flashier and sometimes more provocative twists on the classic in an attempt to create buzz." (Video at link includes an all-dog version from Chicago.)