“In this decade more and more musicians under the age of 30 have picked up banjos and fiddles and hit a burgeoning circuit of festivals, small-town theaters and big-city nightclubs. They don’t want to play their parents’ music, but they do long for a tradition older than themselves, one with memorable melodies, deep stories and a boisterous beat.”
Canada’s Giller Prize will be awarded on Tuesday, which means the window for guessing the winner is closing quickly. But handicapping the Giller has always been tricky, and this year, even picking a frontrunner is a struggle. “What drives the Gillers? According to Calgary novelist Aritha van Herk, it’s ‘a weird mixture of circumstance, accident, the chemistry of jury members and the books published, what the publishers chose to submit, and the publishers who have the money to pay the entrance fee. There must be a math equation for that.'”
The striking (or locked out, depending on whom you ask) musicians at New York’s Radio City Music Hall have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, saying that the musicians actually accepted the terms of a new contract on Friday, hours after the strike began, but that the head of Radio City’s ownership group refused to implement the deal unless the union placed a newspaper ad saying that it had lied in its press statements leading up to the strike. Radio City isn’t commenting directly on the charge, but it has issued a hotly worded statement blasting the musicians’ union. Radio City’s famous Christmas Spectacular performances have been continuing with recorded music in place of the 35-piece orchestra.
Kansas City is pumping millions of dollars into renovation projects for two of the city’s venerable performance venues. But a decision to move up the start of one of the projects by a year has arts groups scrambling to find a place to perform during the renovations. “Some blame the construction rush on the city’s desire to book The Lion King, even though the Broadway blockbuster has yet to announce whether it will play [Kansas City] in 2007-08.”
Large-scale opera recordings appear to be rapidly becoming a relic of the past, as record companies continue to cut costs and ease classical music out of their catalog. “But before we all get out our handkerchiefs, what are we really losing? Is a studio recording, especially of a complete opera, so much better than a live performance captured on tape? Is an edited sequence of perfect takes worth all the losses in continuity and physical atmosphere? And is the studio recording really finished, or is its rumoured demise just clever promotion?”
Symphony orchestras in North America are notoriously conservative in their programming choices, and if a glance at the history of American musical criticism is any indication, critics have been complaining about the lack of daring for as long as orchestras have lacked it. “Mainstream musical organizations in general and symphony orchestras in particular still prefer — allegedly for box office reasons — to comfort their listeners with the familiar rather than challenge them with the new… [But] repetition tends to stifle curiosity and it is curiosity that needs to be encouraged in the listening public if our concert halls are to be more than museums to past greatness.”
How popular is The DaVinci Code? So popular that there are actually authors other than Dan Brown getting rich off it, apparently. Books about the book have been flying off the shelves, and now, two writers are about to come out with new books dedicated to speculating about what the upcoming DaVinci sequel might be about.
“Peter Hall, the eminent British director who oversaw four productions at Lyric Opera of Chicago, including a stellar new Otello in 2001, has withdrawn as director of a new production of Michael Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage. The opera is scheduled to open Nov. 19. According to the Lyric, the move comes ‘on doctor’s orders’ for the 75-year-old director. Hall has not been feeling well over the past few days, and he leaves for his home in London today for medical tests.”
Days after Italian prosecutors announced to the world that they have clear and unimpeachable evidence that Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts is in possession of stolen art, the museum is reaching out to Italian authorities in an effort to head off serious legal trouble. Originally, the MFA had planned to wait for officials to come to them in the controversy surrounding dealer Robert Hecht and Getty Museum curator Marian True, but when press coverage intensified at week’s end, the museum decided that it could not afford to wait. MFA officials also issued a statement promising to return any objects which could be proven to have been stolen.
Details are beginning to emerge of the soon to be released internal report that led to controversial Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman Kenneth Tomlinson’s ouster from the CPB board on Thursday. Tomlinson, who was already under fire for his unapologetic efforts to force PBS to air conservative opinion programs, is accused in the report of a serious misuse of corporation funds and the invention of phantom employees when it served his purposes. The inquiry crosses over into Tomlinson’s work as a member of the largely unknown but highly influential Broadcasting Board of Governors, and insiders believe that he could face criminal charges before all is said and done. And then, there’s the inevitable Karl Rove connection…