Music and Race In Annapolis

The Annapolis (Maryland) City Council is considering a resolution which would chastise the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra for its dismissal last fall of music director Leslie Dunner. The firing made waves among musicians in the ASO, and the orchestra management never made public the reason behind it, leading to no small amount of speculation in the community. The issue that bothers the city council is that Dunner is black, and while no one is overtly crying racism, a number of councilors are hinting at it, much to the ASO’s dismay.

A Real Deal On Culture?

Britons spend £3 billion a year on culture.” According to one study, “the amount spent by UK adults on going to the theatre, cinema, concert or art gallery is more than 15 times that spent on tickets to Premiership football matches in a season (classical musical ticket sales at £359 million a year account for almost twice the revenue of Premiership tickets). Yet how many of us are getting our money’s worth?”

The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name? (For Kids?)

“Books for younger children about gay relationships are rare. A recent book “Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin” has caused a big debate in England. “Is homosexuality such a tricky subject for parents that they must tactfully broach it through books? I doubt it. I remember my older son asking when he was eight or nine, unprompted by any book, whether love could exist between people of the same sex. And when I said it could, he was curious, unjudgmental. Unlike adults, children accept the world as they find it.”

Minority Report – Competition Tries To Encourage Young Musicians

Blacks and Latinos make up just 3 percent of the musicians in American orchestras. And though some attempts have been made to try to help diversify, the number of minority classical musicians is still small. So in Detroit, “for six years, the Sphinx Competition for young minority string players has been on the front lines of rewriting the odds. Prizes include more than $100,000 in cash and scholarships to top summer music camps. Winners also receive recital opportunities and solo appearances with major orchestras…”

Reports Of My Death Are…

Why do critics so often rush to declare the “death” of painting? “The supposed death of painting springs in part from another misbegotten belief that each new art movement or technology renders earlier ones obsolete, that it is impossible to go backward once something has gone forward. Among the many holes in this theory is its simple defiance of history. The arts long have been cyclical, not just a forward unbroken continuum, and artists frequently look to the past for inspiration and reinvigoration.”

Fast Food Nation – Not Such a Cultural Monolith After All

For years, fast food – particularly of the McDonald’s variety – has been the poster child for globalization and the unrelenting blandization of world culture. But scholars are increasingly disputing “the idea that mass production threatens the existence of particular cultural identities, either abroad or at home. After all, regional cuisines are displaying an unexpected vitality in this age of chain restaurants and global brand-names. Why? Many people, it seems, are content to preserve their local cultures through food that is as processed and mass-produced as a Happy Meal.”

Live Music In Broadway Orchestra Pits? Essential

As union and producers duke it out on Broadway over live music, ‘it’s easy to be misled that it’s all about the numbers. In the talk about minimums and control, we shouldn’t forget what’s most important about the issue: the music. The essence of live theater is in the adjective ‘live.’ No matter what is said, it’s never the same when electronic music or pre-recorded music replaces live acoustic sounds. In this pre-recorded environment the control goes from the baton of the conductor to the dial of the programmer, who has become the actuary of this new musical world. The difference between a live orchestra and a virtual orchestra is the difference between a football game and Game Boy.”

The Story On Houston Ballet’s New Director

Aussie Stanton Welch succeeds 66-year-old Ben Stevenson at the head of Houston Ballet. “One of ballet’s brightest young stars, Welch has created several critically successful one-acts at American Ballet Theatre (ABT), San Francisco Ballet and other major companies. His appointment automatically boosts Houston Ballet’s international profile, and not just because he’s generated good media buzz for nearly a decade.”

Another Look At A Long-Ago Flop

“House of Flowers” was supposed to be the big Broadway hit of 1954. An O. Henry Prize-winning short story by Truman Capote, lyrics by Capote and Harold Arlen, music by Arlen’s, director Peter Brook (fresh from Covent Garden), George Balanchine choreographing, and Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll starring. But the show flopped, and remained dormant for almost 50 years. Now it’s back for another look…

Moving With The Opera

Dance has been a part of opera since its beginnings in the 17th century. But “the biggest difference between choreographing for an opera and a concert dance is not time or money — it’s the role of the choreographer. ‘Your goal is to realize the director’s vision, not your own. Different art forms have more in common than people think. What makes good opera also makes good dance — structure and the ability to tell a story.”