Archive for December, 2009

Tovey And VSO Do Not Fake It

On stage

by: Ian

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra has been making some headlines the last few days.

On Saturday, the CBC News reported that the ensemble had backed out of the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Olympics. According to conductor Bramwell Tovey, the organizing committee for the event—known as VANOC—demanded the music be prerecorded so that another conductor could mime the performance during the opening celebration.

Say what?! Yes, you read correctly. They wanted Tovey to record it, and then have an actor step in and pretend he was conducting at the actual ceremony.

I understand that the opening night tends to be, well, over-the-top. And perhaps having an actor at the podium would aid that. But did they really expect Tovey to forfeit his position during an internationally-televised broadcast? In a time when appreciation for the arts seems to be declining, this would be the ultimate swift kick below the belt for one of the country’s top orchestras.
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Ithaca College Pianogate: Update

Don’t Stop Believin’ !

by: Ian

Today, the President of Ithaca College, Tom Rochon, released a statement regarding the recent vandalism at the Whalen Center for Music. While the culprits still remain unknown, Rochon expresses his sincere appreciation for the attitude Read the full transcription here: Pianogate and Its Aftermath

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Yo-Yo Ma Named Consultant To CSO

Has Some Experience

by: Ian

Acclaimed cellist, Yo-Yo Ma, has been named the Creative Consultant to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The position will put Ma in collaboration with another new member of the ensemble, Artistic Director Riccardo Muti, with the stated goal to “provide collaborative musical leadership and guidance on innovative program development for The Institute for Learning, Access and Training at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as for CSO artistic initiatives” (CSO Press Release). Ma will also be in charge of creating new musical programs for children of the Chicago area.
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Baldwin Dedicated to Classical Music

Big Mahler Fan

by: Colin Oettle

Alec Baldwin loves classical music. According to the NY Times, Baldwin is not only invested in his role as announcer for the New York Philharmonic’s weekly radio broadcasts, but he is also a die-hard classical music fan. Daniel Wakin writes that Baldwin was offered the position after the Phil took notice of his patronage. The NY Phil regularly keeps tabs on its celebrity concert-goers, offering them tickets in exchange for publicity.

The Phil first booked Baldwin as narrator for an “Inside the Music” series in 2008—a program where a work is first explained and then performed. Then, after Baldwin joked that he’d like to quit acting and become a classical music radio presenter, the Phil pounced on his apparent interest and made an offer.

Now, as Baldwin records radio announcements between acting commitments like this winter’s “It’s Complicated” and NBC’s “30 Rock,” he sets his schedule around musical events he refuses to miss. Last May, he contracted time off to see Daniel Barenboim conduct Mahler’s ninth symphony. Baldwin’s interest in classical music began on a soap opera set when he was 24, when a staging director chided him for not recognizing Berlioz’s “March to the Scaffold” from Symphony Fantastique. Now, Baldwin listens to classical everywhere from his home to his car, and has a constantly expanding library of works.
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Eccles Foundation Award $1 Million To Utah Symphony and Opera


by: Ian

Just in time for the holidays, the financially strained Utah Symphony/Opera has just been awarded a cool $1 million by the Eccles Foundation.

Spencer Eccles, the chairman and CEO of the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, was apparently taken back by the generosity of the musicians in the organization; who recently donated $1.3 million in salary and benefits for the current season, after already accepting a salary cut of $445,000 in the previous season as the organization clipped it’s budget. So much in fact, that it spurred this large gift. (original article after the jump)

The Eccles Foundation has a history of giving to the Utah Symphony, and in its currently struggling economic state, this came at the right time. It’s great to hear things will be a little easier for the historic orchestra.

Utah Symphony | Utah Opera unwraps $1M gift, The Salt Lake Tribune

Vandalism at Ithaca College

by: Ian

Destroyed marimba after Sunday's vandalism

Destroyed marimba after Sunday's vandalism

I’ve been waiting to write about this event for a few days now, mostly just to make sure that I had all my personal feelings in order before I went about writing a blog entry. For even more coverage, please visit the blog of my colleague Zack Ford (link after the jump), an IC-alum who has been covering the event in detail, and whose opinion I respect to the highest degree.

Early Sunday morning, the Whalen Center for Music at Ithaca College was subjected to a heinous act of vandalism. Nearly 70 pianos and percussion instruments were damaged in what can only be described as a hate crime against the school of music. For much of the day, students were unable to access their instruments, books, and other belongings stored in the building’s lockers.

The timing was perfect: one day before the beginning of finals and juries (performance exams). Unable to practice or study, students went most of the day relying on word of mouth for information. The entire building was locked down by police tape and security guards; only rumors hinted at the extent of the damage. The administration was quick to alert students of the situation, though they could not do much to help the hundreds unable to prepare for the important week ahead.

The rumors I heard about the monetary extent of the damage show just how far off word of mouth can be. At noon everyone I spoke with was saying $500,000. By night time, several teachers had disclosed to me that they had heard closer to $1 million.

That evening, Erik Kibelsbeck, Coordinator of Music Facilities and Publicity at the Whalen Center for Music, posted the following on Facebook:
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John Adams Pants Stolen Before Performance

Waders Substituted By Popular Vote

by: Ian

If you have yet to discover, the official blog of John Adams, let me introduce you:

Hell Mouth, this is the internet.. internet, meet Hell Mouth.

In his own unique way, Adams uses this blog as a means of story-telling. His entries range from scholarly and factual, to gut-busting and fictitious (I believe/hope). In his most recent entry, the American composer praises the virtuoso violinist Leila Josefowicz. He details his introduction to “Ms. J” and their subsequent interactions afterwards, many while she was performing his Violin Concerto. It is an inspiring story of their history together, and a great example of his more serious writing.
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LA Opera Gets $14-Million To Stay Afloat

One Ring Cycle To Rule Them All

by: Ian

Cat-CatShoutingOperaKittyRehearsesH (1)
Let’s just say that you are staging an opera, and it begins to go over-budget, and keeps going over budget… suddenly you’re $20 million in debt and are attempting a $32 million production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Who are you?

If you said the Los Angeles Opera, then you win (nothing)!
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