Originally published on May 12, 2012 3:38 pm
News from around the world this week:
- Our own Eyder Peralta calls this a "very classy" flash mob: the Copenhagen Philharmonic playing Grieg's Peer Gynt on a moving train. I agree that it's cool, but surely the sound was an overdub? (Even though those Copenhagen subways are indeed wonderfully quiet.) Verdict: still awesome anyway — and even Perez Hilton called it "lovely."
- We're very sad to mark the passing of two great forces this week: the remarkable 101-year-old violinist Roman Totenbergthe father of our colleague Nina Totenberg, and Maurice Sendak, who loved classical music deeply and became a celebrated set and costume designer for a number of operas.
- A tale of an audience behaving badly: Guardian theater critic Mark Shenton got into itwith celebrity Bianca Jagger at a performance of Philip Glass' Einstein on the Beachin London a week ago, after she starting taking flash photography mid-performance. Their encounter spilled over onto Twitter and into print. Jagger tweeted, "Do u approve of the abusive behaviour of the man who pushed me around & insulted me at the theatre last night? Without proof.'" Shenton's reply: "For the record, I did not touch her. At all. I will, however, freely admit to deliberately insulting her. I'm glad she so obviously heard it."
- Entertainingly, Glass just gave an interview to the BBC a few days ago in which he said that since the premiere of Einstein in 1976, "We've taught our audiences bad viewing habits. Short attention spans and stories that are very recognizable. However, I think that's going to change now. I think that the younger generation — people in their 20s — are getting fed up with it again."
- In the aftermath of l'affaire Jagger, the Guardian's critics have created their own code of conduct for audiences "in the spirit of public service." Sampling: "Hecklers are allowed to say two unfunny things." Also: "Don't be so bloody precious."
- Speaking of tiffs in Britain: Composer Michael Nyman has lashed out publicly against the Royal Opera House (and the rest of the U.K. opera establishment), because they don't want to stage his work. The relevant post on Facebook, which starts out in the third person before switching to a personal pronoun: "Michael Nyman has just been informed that the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, will never commission an opera and will therefore spend whatever remains of his creative life without a single note of any of his operas, written or unwritten, represented on the stage of any opera house in the U.K., ever. Maybe I should withdraw my tax." I would like to see how he would explain that to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs representatives.
- In a sign of improving health, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has just hired a new concertmaster, Yoonshin Song.
- Riccardo Muti is performing for the Pope this weekend, and Daniel Barenboim will lead the La Scala orchestra in a Beethoven Ninth Symphony for the piano-playing pontiff on June 1.
- Yo-Yo Ma and Paul Simon are the winners of Sweden's prestigious Polar Music Prize, worth one million kronor (about $165,000) each. The two artists will receive their awards from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden in late August.
- Two different former executives at Britain's Royal Academy of Music have been charged with stealing money from the school: former finance director Janet Whitehouse and the former head of IT, Steve Newell. Amazingly, they seem to be unrelated deceptions. Perhaps it's time to find a new bookkeeper?
- In order to make up part of a current $2.9M deficit — the biggest in its history — the Minnesota Orchestra has eliminated nine full-time positions, or 13 percent of its administrative staff.
- There have been a number of co-productions between the English National Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in recent seasons, but ENO artistic director John Berry apparently doesn't think much of Met chief Peter Gelb's biggest success so far: bringing operas to movie theaters. "It is of no interest to me," he said in an interview with The Stage. "It is not a priority. It doesn't create new audiences, either... This company [ENO] spends most of its time making sure its performances are bulletproof. It takes all my time. Get what you know right; choose carefully anything else. But this obsession about putting work out into the cinema can distract from making amazing quality work."
- Whoopsie: A Stradivarius cello owned by the Spanish royals that may be worth up to $29M got knocked over while being examined and photographed by experts, and its neck was broken. According to the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, the Spanish national heritage officials at the royal palace had tried to keep the accident a secret, but word leaked out nonetheless. The neck was not original to the instrument, and can be repaired.
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