Archive for April, 2011

Imslp.org Comes Under Attack

by: Jake DeBacher

Alex Ross
The International Music Score Library Project, commonly known by its acronym IMSLP, is an online repository of free sheet music. It consists of works in the “public domain,” or those whose copyrights have expired. The site has weathered attacks from music publishers since its inception over five years ago, and long-time users will remember an eight month period starting in late 2007 when IMSLP fought a Cease and Desist letter issued by music publisher Universal Edition. Since then, however, the site’s opposition has been relatively harmless—until recently.

On April 21st, GoDaddy—the host of IMSLP—received a DMCA notice from a little-known UK group, the Music Publishers Association, indicating that IMSLP was hosting a piece (Rachmaninoff’s The Bells) that violates US and UK copyright law. GoDaddy responded by removing the IMSLP.org domain, rendering it inaccessible. The action was met with uproar by the IMSLP community, who argued that the claims were unfounded. A day later, the MPA’s request was rescinded and GoDaddy put the site back online. View Full Article »

Philadelphia Orchestra Files for Bankruptcy

by: Colin Oettle

Philadelphia Orchestra
The 111 year old Philadelphia Orchestra became the first world-class orchestra to file for bankruptcy amid the financial morass currently plaguing American orchestras. However, unlike the Syracuse Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra did not cancel any performances or order an organization-wide shutdown. The season will continue as planned, but the future of the organization will depend on the proceedings in bankruptcy court.

While the move was expected, many feel it was unnecessary. The orchestra has assets, including an endowment, that total $140 million—three times its current liabilities. Management views the endowment as donor-restricted and therefore unusable, which means the orchestra is currently operating with a deficit. An emergency fundraising campaign is projected to reduce the $13 million budget gap to around $5 million, but the board is hoping to shed millions in liabilities during bankruptcy proceedings. View Full Article »

Zhou Long Wins Pulitzer

by: Jake DeBacher

Zhou Long
Composer Zhou Long has just been named recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in Music, joining both an elite list of winners and an even more exclusive number of immigrants who have won the award. While it may seem odd to see the quintessential American music prize go to a non-native, the only official stipulation is that the prize must go to an “American,” as with other Pulitzers.

His winning work, Madame White Snake, is an opera that “draws on a Chinese folk tale to blend the musical traditions of the East and the West,” according to the board that awarded the prize. It was premiered in Boston in February of last year. View Full Article »

Detroit Symphony Returns to Stage

Standing Room Only

by: Colin Oettle

Leonard Slatkin
The Detroit Symphony has returned to the stage after six long months of contract negotiation. It marked the achievement with a weekend of free concerts led by music director Leonard Slatkin, featuring symbolic works such as Dvorak’s New World Symphony and Barber’s Adagio for Strings.

While the return of a major American orchestra is decidedly joyous, there were reminders of the struggles the organization faced during the 26 weeks musicians were on strike. Some players did not return to their posts, including the entire percussion section. View Full Article »

Schumanns Set to Save Classical Music

by: Colin Oettle

Elizabeth and Sonya Schumann
Pianists Elizabeth and Sonya Schumann are spearheading a project that will bring engaging musical experiences to children. The project is based at kickstarter.com, a web platform for funding creative projects.

The sisters believe exposing children to high quality classical performances in a relatable context will create a new generation of classical music lovers. So, they created a children’s CD by carefully pairing short works with an exciting narrative about a girl who adventures overnight in a zoo. Their contribution to music education could simultaneously combat declining classical audiences and enrich the lives of a new generation. Watch the video for a more in depth explanation of the project! View Full Article »

Whitacre’s Virtual Choir of 2052 Voices Performs “Sleep”

Sound Engineer Probably Retires

by: Colin Oettle


A year and a half after Eric Whitacre created a recording of “Lux Aurumque” from videos uploaded to YouTube by 52 separate singers, he and his team set out to create a more massive virtual performance of his work “Sleep.”

Whitacre gave a TED talk in March explaining his vision for these projects, which began when a young woman posted herself singing the soprano line to one of his pieces on YouTube. He posted a video of him conducting Lux Aurumque and invited submissions for the collaboration.

52 uploads later, he created a virtual choir by syncing all the audio tracks together for a unique choral performance. This second effort, however, dwarfs the first project by incorporating the audio and video tracks of 2052 different singers. Read on for the video. View Full Article »

Syracuse Symphony Closes Doors

Takes Syracuse Symphony Youth Orchestra With It

by: Colin Oettle


The Syracuse Symphony Orchestra was forced to shut down in the middle of its 50th season when the Board of Trustees voted to suspend operations on March 29. Citing a $5.5 million deficit and an inability to reach an agreement between the board and the musicians, the organization was forced to cancel all remaining concerts without refunding ticketholders.

The Syracuse Symphony website contains only the image above as a testament to what would have been its 50th season. It is followed simply by an explanation of the orchestra’s plan to suspend operations and layoff both its staff and musicians. Perhaps the most hard hitting line of the paragraph is the declaration that all remaining concerts are canceled, which reads “All concerts have been cancelled for the remainder of this season, including the Yo-Yo Ma concert scheduled for April 27. The SSO is unable to issue refunds for tickets because we have run out of money.” View Full Article »

Robert Spano Named Music Director of Aspen

by: Colin Oettle


The Aspen Music Festival and School has named Robert Spano its next Music Director, stating that he will assume duties as “music director-designate” effective immediately and take on the full role of music director in 2012.

In addition, Spano will become co-director of the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen, taking on the director position as of 2012. In 63 years of Aspen Music Festival and School, Spano will be only its fourth long term director. View Full Article »

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