Good News From Milwaukee

Things are looking up at the Milwaukee Symphony, which has struggled in recent years with budget deficits and declining ticket sales. New subscribers for the 2005-06 season rose a whopping 39%, and renewals jumped from 75% to 84%. “Fewer concerts and a big surge in single ticket sales led to several sellouts.” The MSO still ran a $671,000 deficit for the season, but that’s better than had been projected, and keeps the orchestra in line with its three-year plan to eliminate red ink.

How To Compost O.J.

In canceling publication of O.J. Simpson’s “If I Did It,” Rupert Murdoch created something of a waste-management dilemma. “Now, HarperCollins has nearly half a million books to destroy. If the books weigh about a pound each, that comes out to 200 tons of paper. I have one word for the publisher: compost. … So, here’s the plan: Give out one copy apiece of If I Did It to individual organic gardeners, and get them to sign a pledge not to read the book or sell it on eBay.”

Cash-Strapped Temple Tries Sure Moneymaker: Theatre

The Actors’ Temple, a Manhattan synagogue, is turning to theatre to help make ends meet. “Recently — say, oh, during the last half-century — this temple, with a declining membership and a vanishing budget, has not been doing so well. So starting with an official opening night tomorrow, the Actors’ Temple, for the first time in its 89-year history, will be moonlighting as an Off Broadway theater. … The first show, ‘The Big Voice: God or Merman?,’ is about a Roman Catholic from Brooklyn and a Baptist from Arkansas who find spiritual solace in musical theater and each other.”

Wales PAC Hurting Other Cardiff Venues

“Cardiff’s St. David’s Hall and New Theatre have reported huge financial losses following the opening of the Wales Millennium Centre, a £106 million performing arts venue on Cardiff Bay that opened in November 2004… The two halls, which are managed together by the Welsh capital’s municipal government, ran up losses totaling £5.2 million in the 2005-06 fiscal year, up almost £900,000 from the previous year. Both venues are expected to lose an extra £283,000 in 2006-07.”

Sort Of Like Paying $200K For The Hammer That Built Your House

A cello bow made in the 19th century by François Xavier Tourte sold at auction this week for nearly $200,000. The sale price is a record for a bow, and reflects the continued spike in the amount collectors and wealthy performers are willing to pay for string instruments. The buyer is reportedly a well-known European soloist, who is promising that the bow will be used in concert, and not displayed as an art object.

Carnegie, Juilliard Unveil New Education Initiative

Carnegie Hall is teaming with the prestigious Juilliard School of Music to launch a new program in which post-graduate students would be sent to teach music in New York City schools, beginning in January. Participants would also receive performance opportunities as an incentive. “When the program is fully developed (expected to be within three years), a two-year fellowship will be offered to around 50 Juilliard graduates. Participating Fellows will receive a stipend, along with health benefits and access to rehearsal and performance facilities.”

Does Britain Need Another Distinctly English Opera House?

Is London’s Royal Opera House quietly returning to the days when it served primarily as a showcase for homegrown talent? Norman Lebrecht thinks so, and wonders what the ripple effect might be if he’s right. “The consequences of this transition are considerable. As Covent Garden becomes increasingly a British house, a nursery of native talent, what role remains for English National Opera? Singing in English is no raison d’etre when the words are so blurry that surtitles have to be used, and if the ROH is route one to international class, why would any but the also-rans make a stop at the motorway café?”

Could The Secret Of The Strad Be A Chemical Bath?

Joseph Nagyvary, an instrument maker and researcher who has devoted much of his career to uncovering the secret behind the superior sound of instruments made by the old Italian masters, believes that he may have found the long-sought after secret. After testing shavings taken from old Cremonese instruments, Nagyvary says that he is certain that they were made with chemically treated wood which affected the sound after construction was complete.

Head Of D.C.’s Biggest Black Theatre Troupe To Leave

“Jennifer L. Nelson, the founding artistic director of African Continuum Theatre Company, announced yesterday that she is stepping down from the top job at [Washington, D.C.’s] most visible black theater group. With the theater moving into a new phase with a permanent home, Nelson says its stability and visibility are giving her a chance to pursue her own creative interests.”

Two Classic Bookstores Close. Will We Know Enough To Miss Them?

Toronto is losing two beloved second-hand bookshops, and the closings are a reminder of just how quickly the bookselling business is evolving. “The venues for physically presenting books are being superceded. It’s hard to imagine there will be any book collectors among young people, because they won’t have the opportunity to handle older books and acquire a taste for it.”