Around The Classical Internet: August 12, 2011 : Deceptive Cadence From huge artist fees to one tiny concert dress: all the classical news that's fit to link.

Around The Classical Internet: August 12, 2011

Around The Classical Internet: August 12, 2011

  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and his compatriot Gustavo Dudamel, together in Caracas. JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and his compatriot Gustavo Dudamel, together in Caracas.

  • The blogger of An Overgrown Path has just published a list of what some top classical artists are charging for their performances, leaked by an anonymous promoter: "Everyone in classical music is talking about funding cuts. But no one is talking about how dwindling budgets continue to be top-sliced by the fees charged by high profile musicians." Gustavo Dudamel's fee for a recent BBC prom concert was about $32,000. By comparison, Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, claims that his official salary is less than $16,000.
  • Conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim is anticipating a nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize for his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which features young musicians from Israel and various Arab countries. Barenboim is scheduled to conduct the orchestra Aug. 15 at the border of North and South Korea.
  • There's a new version of Porgy and Bess on the way, featuring new scenes and — with Broadway audiences in mind — a happier ending.
  • Among those apoplectic about the revisions is Stephen Sondheim, who dashed off a fiery letter to the New York Times: "It's reassuring that Ms. Parks has a direct pipeline to Gershwin and is just carrying out his work for him."
  • Remember the controversy over the cover for Steve Reich's new release? Says Reich in a statement posted on his label's website: "As a composer I want people to listen to my music without something distracting them. The present cover of WTC 9/11 will, for many, act as a distraction from listening and so, with the gracious agreement of Nonesuch, the cover is being changed."
  • Tweeting may not be copacetic with concentrating, but it's here to stay — and some presenters are trying to intertwine it with their programming.
  • It's vacation month for at least some of us, right? So here's to driving around Santa Monica with Parsifal blasting, and other gems for hitting the road, courtesy of Tom Service.
  • Who's got the real talent in America? Opera singers, according to mezzo-soprano Suzanne Mentzer. (So where are they on the reality shows?)
  • Anne Midgette asks: Is the opera-izing of classic American musicals a good thing?
  • The owner of the indie label Mode says Spotify is terrible for his business: "A big individual seller [in June 2011] by composer Luciano Berio, was streamed 1,326 times through Spotify; our income was $4.18. So, we earn about 1/3 of a penny per stream. And these meager amounts should be split with the artists and composers."
  • The outfit that Yuja Wang wore at the Hollywood Bowl last week has lit up the classical blogosphere. In the Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed wrote contemptuously: "Her dress was so short and tight that had there been any less of it, the Bowl might have been forced to restrict admission to any music lover under 18 not accompanied by an adult." (In interest of evenhandedness, we note that Swed kicked off his review by lauding Lionel Bringuier's "stylish new beard.")
  • In the Washington Post, Anne Midgette gave a sharp riposte: "In the real world — the world outside classical music's still-prurient bubble — this is not unusual attire for a young rising starlet in the public eye ... You can criticize these women for their fashion choices; you can like or dislike what they're wearing; but these dresses and shoes are not inherently shocking."
  • And over at her Arts Journal blog, publicist Amanda Ameer mused: "Do I think the dresses are an odd choice? Yes. Do I think wearing them is unfair to her artistic partners on stage? Possibly. Do I think that, as long as they don't prevent her from playing the piano, she should wear them if she wants to? I do, so long as she accepts that it will be all people want to talk about, for better or worse."
  • There's a German documentary out on DVD now about the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, an orchestra in Kinshasa — the only symphony orchestra in Central Africa. In the film, one of the founding players remembers: "We were mugged during the period of the many lootings. There was no work and hardly anything to eat. Everyone was fighting for their survival. There were enormous problems. Back then we started to build our instruments ourselves."
  • We all know about Venezuela's El Sistema program for reaching youngsters, but do you know they have also initiated a wildly popular prison project? The inmates learn instruments or sing for 40 hours a week. Says prison governor Abel Jimenez, "We've seen a huge improvement in the inmates. From being some of the worst behaved inmates, we now have people who are among the best, with a clean record of conduct for more than two years."
  • A profile of Francesca Zambello, the new artistic adviser of the Washington National Opera and new general director of Glimmerglass: "Zambello is certainly performing. Her role is a mix of stage director and den mother, at once warm and a little bossy, almost aggressively trying to make everyone feel at home."
  • Again with the summer (well, winter) news slump: Australia's Limelight Magazine has worked up a list of the dozen sexiest artists in classical music. (Yuja's not on the list.)
  • Also from Down Under, why Placido Domingo is a misguided choice as a frontman for fighting piracy: "Domingo is an intelligent man as well as a glorious singer. But the very way in which he was presented to the press in Britain last week seemed to symbolise what's wrong with the tactics of the big record companies as they fight for their lives."
  • Syracuse University is at the center of a plan to bring a symphony orchestra back to central New York. They're working with Syracuse University to create a successful business model. And Daniel Hege, the music director of the former Syracuse Symphony, will return.
  • Yes, the economy is terrible, but the Santa Fe Opera is announcing three new ambitious premieres. The first, Oscar, by Theodore Morrison with a libretto by John Cox, is inspired by the life of Oscar Wilde and will debut in 2013. For 2014, the American premiere of Judith Weir's Miss Fortune, based on a Sicilian folk tale. And in 2015, the smash novel and film "Cold Mountain" is being transferred to the opera stage by Jennifer Higdon and Gene Scheer.