Jarvi’s Replacement Still A Long Way Off

The Detroit Symphony is taking its time in the search for a new music director to replace Neeme Jarvi – in fact, the orchestra may play two or three full seasons without an official leader after Jarvi departs next summer. So why the delay? Part of the problem is the lack of great conductors in the world, but “a more subtle issue has been management’s inability, dating back at least a decade, to lasso enough A-list guest conductors and nurture relationships that might blossom into a music directorship.”

Living The Orchestral High Life In San Diego

Don’t lump the San Diego Symphony in with all those North American orchestras struggling to make ends meet. The ensemble, which recently received an unprecedented $120 million gift from a local couple, is flush with cash, and the financial security is starting to translate into measurable artistic gains as well. The average musician’s salary will jump $14,600 this season, and the marketing budget has tripled. A $3 million office renovation has been completed, and the SDSO ended the 2003 fiscal year with a $600,000 surplus. So what’s next? More fundraising, of course.

Dumbing Down Dance Movies

Dance has a long history in Hollywood, and dance movies have frequently been huge hits with the public. But the new wave of dance flicks represents a major step backward, both for serious dance and serious moviemaking, says Sarah Kaufman. “When the dancing feels as essential as breathing: that’s the hallmark of the best dance movies… Over the last several decades, Hollywood seems to have lost the ability to capture dance on the big screen with any degree of skill and expressiveness. Perhaps it’s the box office power of celebrity faces over gifted gams. Whatever the reason, it’s bad for dance fans.”

Colorization, Take Two (And Get It Right This Time)

“Few technological changes have been so contentious as the colourizing of movies originally released in black-and-white. Moviegoers are willing to tolerate all sorts of things, including Hilary Duff movies and orange goo on nachos, but many of them are ready to man the barricades against any meddling to monochrome.” But new digital technology has raised the quality of colorization to such an extent that some in the film industry believe it can truly enhance old pictures. The key is in choosing films which would actually benefit from a splash of color.

Is Theater Finally Embracing Diversity?

Historically, plays focusing on racial themes or African-American issues have been a tough sell with the largely white, largely affluent theater-going public. But the tide may be turning: “The biggest nonmusical hit of last Broadway season was the revival of the 45-year-old play A Raisin in the Sun… And it’s not the only production dealing with black themes resonating in theaters around the country.”

Tavener’s Conversion

The British composer Sir John Tavener is famously devoted to the Orthodox Church that has inspired nearly all of his music. Or he was, until a recent rift with his spiritual advisor soured him on Orthodoxy. Now, he calls the strict musical code by which he used to live a “tyranny,” and his latest work is based on Islamic texts. “A forthcoming work he is planning to write, as if to emphasise his new-found freedom from Orthodox principles, is a theatrical composition based on the life of Krishna and influenced by Mozart’s Magic Flute.”

Making The MoMA List

When New York’s Museum of Modern Art unveils its new Manhattan home next month, a private party for the city’s arts elite will kick off the festivities. Oh, sure, you can see the new MoMA ahead of time for a mere $75 membership contribution (and, truth be told, that’s probably your best bet if you really care about the art,) but why visit with the plebes when, for $2 million, you can get invited to the most exclusive event of the year? The museum will tell you the guest list for that event is closed, but don’t you believe it…

New York Gets Current

The best theater in New York these days isn’t on Broadway, says Barbara Stewart. And it isn’t exactly traditional fare, either. Think less Shakespeare, and more Rumsfeld. “Everybody I spoke to – with the exception of agents pushing their Broadway clients – agreed that the interesting new shows are on off-Broadway or off-off-Broadway. Forget musicals, almost. And gird yourself for stories apparently spun directly from World News Tonight.”

Opera Of The People

Opera North, the regional company based in Leeds, England, has reported a 25% jump in ticket sales, and a demographic breakdown shows that the company has succeeded in attracting an audience that goes well outside the wealthy elite crowd normally associated with the form. At a time when many UK opera companies are struggling to attract audience as well as funding, Opera North’s success story is a major surprise, and other companies may begin to take a look at its programming strategies, which have included some unorthodox productions in recent years.

Ignoring The Arts In The Halls Of Power

The man charged with relaunching London’s South Bank Arts Centre is furious with the city’s political establishment, declaring “I don’t know any other country in the world where politicians don’t actually want to come along to arts events.” According to Michael Lynch, the long-overdue overhaul of South Bank has been an example of the disengagement of UK politicians from the arts. “He suspects that politicians fear they will be categorised by the public as highbrow, but he is concerned because when those in positions of power do not see arts events for themselves, securing funding becomes more difficult.”