Lebrecht: I Was Right – Classical Recording Industry Has Died

Norman Lebrecht predicted at the start of 2004 that this would be the recording industry’s last year. “Well, I was over-cautious. No need to wait for Christmas: it’s over now. The closure signs are up in neon. There is barely a new symphony or sonata to be heard this season from any of the six major labels which command three-quarters of store space and classical sales. Game over.”

Salzburg’s Tough Summer (How About Lucerne?)

The Salzburg Festival has a difficult summer. It “was the last century’s most illustrious summer camp for musical and theatrical talent, but seemed more than ever trapped between the glories of the past and an uncertain future in more competitive times. In the years since the death in 1989 of Herbert von Karajan, who ruled over the proceedings as if by divine right, Salzburg’s artistic focus has been blurred.”

Native Hawaiians Protest Bishop Museum Plan

Native Hawaiians are protesting the Bishop Museum’s plan to “define itself as a native Hawaiian organization under the terms of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. NAGPRA was enacted to provide procedures for museums to return ancestral bones and four classes of objects to Native Americans and Hawaiians.” The museum believes it can claim ownership of Hawaiian artifacts if it is considered a native organization. Critics disagree: “This is extremely colonial and paternal.”

Homeland Security vs. The 12-Year-Old Choirboy

“Some Oakland boys who like to sing are taking on the Department of Homeland Security over the fate of a 12-year-old Polish kid who, in all likelihood, does not have terrorist designs on the United States. Earlier this year, the 7-year-old Pacific Boychoir was contacted by the Youth Choir Foundation in Boston to gauge its interest in accepting 12-year-old Adam Kutny, a gifted alto who found himself somewhat stranded artistically after the choir he belonged to dissolved.” The choir was interested, but the Department of Homeland Security has flatly denied Kutny a student visa, saying (bizarrely) that it cannot be certain that the school is, in fact, a school. Two senators, a congresswoman and the choir are battling the decision.

Between Rock And A Hard Political Reality

The touring rock concert/John Kerry fundraiser being led by Bruce Springsteen, R.E.M., and other leftist musicians has sparked confusion nationwide among radio stations, consumers, and media conglomerates who are worried that purchasing tickets could run them afoul of complicated campaign finance laws. In Minneapolis, one Clear Channel radio station pulled out of an agreement to distribute free tickets to its participants after the parent company concluded that it could not buy the tickets, because the company sponsoring the concert is a so-called “527 organization,” involved in political affairs. In fact, the purchase would have been legal after all, but Clear Channel still isn’t buying.

TIFF Still Looking For Key Donors

The Toronto International Film Festival is hoping to complete construction of a new CAN$200 million film center by 2007. But so far, the project has been a tough sell to private donors and corporate interests, and little of the $115 million in private money necessary for construction has been raised. TIFF is actively seeking a keystone donor who could contribute as much as $30 million to kickstart the project.

TIFF Programmer Gets Death Threat

A documentary film investigating a notorious event in which an art student killed, cooked, and ate a cat on camera in the name of artistic expression has provoked a steady stream of angry e-mails and phone calls ever since the Toronto International Film Festival programmed it as part of its Real to Reel program. But according to TIFF organizers, the protesters have now crossed the line, with one festival programmer receiving a vicious death threat on his cell phone this week. Toronto police are now actively pursuing the caller, and the festival insists that the film will go on as scheduled.

Summer Movie Season Flops Again

A few summer blockbusters did their studios proud, but most of this summer’s crop of Hollywood films did little to attract an audience of the size the industry expects during the hot months. “The number of people going to the movies in the summer has declined 4.4 percent in the last two years. The last time attendance declined in consecutive summers was in 1995, ’96 and ’97.”

IRS To Investigate Nonprofit Salaries

“The IRS has announced an aggressive program to investigate the salaries of [nonprofit corporations’] executives and board members, some of which exceed $1 million annually. The government’s interest is twofold: It grants tax-exempt status to nonprofits, and the public contributes billions of dollars to those groups each year.” The $1 million salary figure will apparently serve as the unofficial red flag to investigators, who will then compare such salaries to those of comparable individuals in comparable organizations elsewhere.

SEC: Chicago Symphony Benefitted From Corporate Crime

A scathing SEC report on the activities of the leadership of Hollinger International Incorporated has concluded that chief executive Conrad Black and his right-hand man David Radler looted the company of more than $400 million in profits to which they were not entitled, all with the tacit approval (or at least, without objection from) a board which included such high-profile names as Henry Kissinger and Richard Perle. The money appropriated by Black and Radler frequently found its way to organizations favored by the two men, and one of the biggest beneficiaries was the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, “which received a total of $436,164 from 1996 to 2003.” There is no suggestion that the CSO knew that the source of the donations was unlawful.