Originally published on March 9, 2012 2:09 pm
- So beautiful, I want to go to there: photos from inside a guitar, violin, cello, flute and pipe organ. They were taken for a marketing campaign for the Berlin Philharmonic's chamber ensembles, but I would prefer to live inside them.
- The reviews are in for John Adams' The Death of Klinghoffer at the English National Opera — and they range wildly across every point on the critical spectrum. Here's Fiona Maddocks in the Guardian: "Klinghoffer was the event of the season and deserves all the space we can give it ... After the shouting and politicking, the accusations that this opera should never have been written, that it might work better as an oratorio, I am glad to have seen it and to have witnessed John Adams cheered so generously."
- John Allison in the Telegraph: "The work is nearly always tagged as 'controversial': a perverse kind of PR to make it sound more interesting and significant than it actually is ... [Adams'] score is unmemorable (not least the much-vaunted Aria of the Falling Body), a mixture of fizzing jingles and endless meandering parlando."
- Mark Swed in the LA Times: "Despite an unfortunate lack of cultural nuance and context, the theatrically vivid performance of Adams' intense and moving score makes a strong point ... Goodman's spectacularly literary libretto permitted Palestinian principles to be expressed with the eloquence of great Arab poetry ... One important function of the work is to make you wonder where [the terrorists] came from and how they came to be the way they are."
- And our colleague Brian Wise for WQXR in New York: " ... a nuanced but not unproblematic drama, wayward in its course and never quite generating the energy that makes Adams's earlier opera, Nixon in China, so memorable. Politics aside, Goodman's libretto is the source of its main difficulties."
- Speaking of opera, Alex Ross alternately lacerates and laments the state of opera in New York today: "This has been the most dispiriting opera season since I began reviewing music in New York, twenty years ago." He gives particular grief to the Robert Lepage-directed Ring cycle and its infamous "machine": "As this amateur-hour Ragnarök unfolded, I heard around me sounds suggestive of suppressed giggles, and fought the urge to make noises of my own ... It's an embarrassment that this catastrophically vapid spectacle is what New York will be offering to the world when the Wagner bicentennial arrives next year." (paywall restricted)
- In the aftermath of the controversy over the originality of his piece Sidereus, Osvaldo Golijov gave an interview to the New York Times, in which he said that both Sidereus and Barbeich, the piece by Michael Ward-Bargeman from which Sidereus draws upon "as well as a string quartet he recently wrote, were partly derived from several discarded minutes of a film score that the two composers collaborated on. That movie was 'Tetro,' a 2009 film directed by Francis Ford Coppola ... 'There was this beautiful material,' Mr. Golijov said. 'It didn't work for the movie, but it worked for music. We decided both: 'Let's grab it. Each one can do what he wants.'"
- This case is far more clear-cut: While Joshua Bell was out playing a concert with the London Philharmonic in Zaragoza, Spain, a thief talked his way into the violinist's hotel room and stole his laptop, his $38,000 watch, cash and his other stuff. How? Posing as Bell, the robber asked for staff help in opening the room's safe — and promptly got their assistance.
- Conductor Mark Flint died last Sunday at age 57 after a 5-year battle with cancer. He led the world premiere of Ned Rorem's Our Town as well as the first performance outside the U.S. of Tobias Picker's Thérese Raquin; he also conducted the St. Louis Symphony, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and New York City Opera, among many others, and served as general and artistic director of Georgia's Augusta Opera between 2003-09.
- Terrible: Gustavo Dudamel's bodyguard, Yojham Tupac Amaru Oliviera Camero, 33, was shot and killed outside his home in Caracas' La Pastora neighborhood early last Saturday morning. He leaves behind two children. (link in Spanish)
- Seiji Ozawa has canceled all of his engagements through February 2013 on doctor's orders. Since being diagnosed with esophageal cancer two years ago, the 76-year-old conductor has had pneumonia three times.
- After 16 years as its music director, violinist/conductor Pinchas Zukerman is leaving Ottawa's National Arts Centre Orchestra. Says the group's managing director: "Sixteen years [will be] a lot longer than is typical. And it's reflective of the fact that he's had an incredibly warm relationship with the audience, the orchestra and the administration — and an incredible record of accomplishment here."
- Can Las Vegas' new Smith Center for the Performing Arts turn Sin City into a high-culture mecca? According to the Las Vegas Weekly, "You can almost hear timpani rumbling and horns ablaze when the Smith Center for the Performing Arts is mentioned in the Valley. Clouds part. Angels sing. People who were lost are found. A new cultural element, nurtured by donors with deep pockets and culturally altruistic hearts, is entering daily conversations." Architecturally, the building (which cost $470 million) is a throwback to a hundred years ago, but board members say that the acoustics are "Carnegie Hall or better."
- Among the dozens of companies who have pulled advertising from Rush Limbaugh's radio show in the wake of the comments he made about Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, a surprising one: the Philadelphia Orchestra. Apparently the symphony had bought advertising in a bundle arrangement with CBS Philly, but as they explained in a tweet: "We have taken steps to ensure that our ads no longer run on the Rush Limbaugh show."
- Inspiring: 20-year-old violinist Jourdan Urbach was honored this week with one of the nation's highest public service prizes, called the Jefferson Award. When he was 7 years old, Urbach founded Concerts for a Cure to raise money for pediatric medical research — and so far, he's raised $5.1M.
- Finally, here's Anne Midgette on the muddle of non-specialist critics and artists trying to write about classical music: "Time and again, artists and thinkers who are sophisticated observers of their own fields step back and goggle when they see classical artists at work ... Classical music has a reputation of being something smart — indeed, its fans are often stereotyped as nerds and eggheads — but the way that people engage with it often seems to me anything but, as if it renders otherwise smart thinkers uncritical."
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