Conducting In The Highest City On Earth (And Dodging Dynamite)

David Handel has been rebuilding the Bolivian national Orchestra. He has “increased the number of performances to 50 a year from 12, recorded the group for the first time, enlarged the symphony to 65 musicians from 40, raised salaries and increased the yearly budget to $1 million from $100,000. He also has lowered ticket prices for students and raised the number of season ticket holders to 1,000 from none. Finally, he found the group its first-ever home in a one-time vaudeville theater and has taken the symphony to locales where it never had performed.” Now if only the bombs would stop going off outside the concert hall…

Aix – A Global Opera Hub?

The new director of France’s Aix-en-Provence opera festival says he’d like the festival to become an international hub for opera. “I would like the Aix festival to be a global opera hub. Festivals have helped the world of opera evolve, and they must reach beyond the place where they are held.”

Is London’s National Theatre Chasing Away UK’s Playwrights?

So David Hare is bringing his new work to America first, rather than to London and the National. “The bitter irony is that for years American dramatists have been looking to Britain – and specifically the National Theatre – to showcase their work. Now the boot seems to be on the other foot. Although Hare cites pragmatic reasons for staging his new play in New York, he is not exactly gruntled – as another British exile, PG Wodehouse, said – by his treatment by the National. And in this he is not alone.”

Actors Testify To Protect Their Likenesses

Actors Paul Newman, Christopher Plummer and Charles Grodin say they’re worried that “technology has made it possible to access their films, images and voices, and to use that material to produce another product they know nothing about. ‘We are suddenly cloned into something we’re not. We are robbed of our individuality, and our life’s work is tarnished’.”

Melbourne Erases Culture For Commonwealth Games

“Melbourne is the proud capital of street painting with stencils. Its large, colonial-era walls and labyrinth of back alleys drip with graffiti that is more diverse and original than any other city in the world. Well, that was until a few weeks ago, when preparations for the Commonwealth games brought a tidal wave of grey paint, obliterating years of unique and vibrant culture overnight.”

Ontario’s Arts Funding Bonanza

Ontario arts gets a big boost from the province’s new budget proposal. “Not only announced increased tax incentives for film and new media, $10-million for the Ontario Heritage Trust and $15-million for libraries ($8-million of that for digital libraries and another $1-million for servers in the province’s far north) — there was also a much-hoped-for $49-million over three years to help complete Toronto’s cultural building projects.”

A Plan To Jam Cellphones In Theatres

“This past week the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO) pondered blocking cellphone signals as a way to improve the cinema experience. The idea was a hot topic in the nation’s gambling capital this past week when theater owners from coast to coast met to preview the summer lineups from movie studios and trade tips on combating falling movie theater attendance. The 6,000-strong membership of NATO voted to authorize its board to look into changing federal laws that currently prevent them from using cellphone-jamming equipment in theaters.”