What if orchestras and theatre companies started behaving more like corporations, with the large, healthy groups snapping up and merging with smaller, struggling competitors? “Before the shout goes up about artistic integrity and creative independence, it wouldn’t have to mean a Starbucks-style homogenisation of the arts. There would be no need for a safe but dull culture house on every street corner. A better model to consider would be the major record label sheltering several niche labels under its wing.”
“A US art collector who had paintings valued at Â£20m stolen from his home in Massachusetts has won a legal battle in London to have them returned to him. Michael Bakwin asked the High Court to award him ownership rights on four canvasses, which were taken in 1978 and ended up with Sotheby’s auction house.”
A local orchestra in Minnesota found a unique way to show its support for members of the state’s National Guard serving in Iraq this week, performing a tribute concert which was relayed live on a two-way video transmission to Baghdad, as troops and family members watched on two continents.
Ellen dePasquale, an associate concertmaster with the Cleveland Orchestra for the past eight years, has resigned her position in protest of music director Franz Welser-MÃ¶st’s decision to create a new titled chair which would outrank her. “The musician who wins the [newly created] post will be first in line to substitute for concertmaster [William] Preucil,” a privilege that had formerly been reserved for dePasquale.
“Will Gerard Mortier, who once scandalized the diamonds-and-dirndl set at the Salzburg Festival with an operetta staging featuring cocaine-snorting, scalping, slaughter, incest, Jew-bashing and child abuse, take over the New York City Opera, a company in need of new leadership? Mortier, a Belgian-born baker’s son who is 63, is said to be a top candidate to run the company, a rival of the grander Metropolitan Opera, also at Lincoln Center. He is currently the general manager of the Opera de Paris….”
“Yale University has awarded the $100,000 Bollingen Prize in Poetry for 2007 to Wellesley College English professor Frank Bidart. A three-judge panel said Bidart’s poems — ‘eerie, probing, sometimes shocking, always subtle — venture into psychic terrain left largely unmapped in contemporary poetry.'”
“As the art market booms and interest in collecting grows, museums around the world are expanding with new buildings, new branches and new styles. … A new golden age of museums or a profit-motivated bubble?” Major gallery directors convened in Tokyo this month to ponder their survival strategy.
“The Metropolitan Opera, hoping to tour China for the first time, is negotiating to perform Tan Dun’s ‘The First Emperor’ with tenor Placido Domingo there to coincide with the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”
Newbery Award winner Susan Patron, a target of ire for using the word “scrotum” in her children’s book, says adults are correct in acknowledging the power of the written word. “Children who read widely understand more about the world; they have a foundation for making better decisions. They think, and because of that, they may even challenge their parents’ beliefs. For some, a scary idea, but isn’t a thinking child preferable to one who accepts the world at face value and has no aim to change it for the better?”
“Congress is taking another hard look at the Smithsonian Institution’s funding and governance after an audit showed the top official at the museum complex had nearly $90,000 in unauthorized expenses, including private jet travel and expensive gifts. Lawrence M. Small, 65, who became secretary of the Smithsonian in 2000, will earn $915,698 this year in total compensation….”