Sandow: Let’s Tell The Truth – Litton’s Not A Good Conductor

Greg Sandow wonders why the announcement of Andrew Litton’s departure from the Dallas Symphony wasn’t rougher on his accomplishments: “So here’s the truth. Litton’s not thought of as a good conductor. He can make a splashy effect; that’s about it. Musicians who’ve played for him are damning. Administrators at orchestras where he’s guest-conducted are equally damning. If Litton were a pop musician, everything I’ve written here would have been in the press long ago. Everybody would have known it. Dallas would have been abuzz. Which leads me back to something I’ve said here before. In classical music, there’s very little accountability. We have to stop treating classical music as if it were something sacred – or something that needs to be protected – and start describing things the way they really are.”

Two Glitzy London Theatres Get A Redo

“If you want plush, if you want opulence, if you want to revel in the theatrical experience, then this winter you are in for a treat with the rebirth of two of London’s finest Edwardian theatres, the Hackney Empire and the Coliseum. Thanks to dollops of lottery cash and the generosity of private individuals these two masterpieces by that greatest of Edwardian theatre designers, Frank Matcham, should open on January 28 and February 7 respectively.” But what about London’s other theatres?

Judge Strikes Down Screener Ban

A federal judge has overturned a ban on independent producers sending out screener DVDs to awards judges. The Motion Picture Association of America had instituted the ban as a way to cut down piracy. But the judge ruled that: “the screener ban will significantly harm independent films, thereby reducing the competition these films pose to major studio releases.”

The Awards Biz

After the end of the year, the awards season begins in earnest. A documentary reports that there are “565 show-biz awards competitions each year, of which 100 are televised. That’s better than one broadcast every four days.” Why so many? The awards “mainly reflects outstanding achievement by the industry in ginning up ever more shows for viewers to watch – and thus ever more outlets for promoting entertainment product to the public.”

Greek Parliament Considering Parthenon Museum Approval

The Greek parliament is considering a bill that would legalize construction of a new museum at the Parthenon. Backers of the museum are trying to build the 50-million-euro museum to try to pressure the British Museum into returning the fifth-century-BC Elgin, or Parthenon, Marbles before the 2004 Olympics. “But critics who argue that important ancient ruins found on the museum plot will be destroyed during construction have successfully challenged parts of the project before the Council of State.”

Sweeney In The Opera House

“The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has come to rank with Wozzeck and Peter Grimes in opera’s catalogue of 20th-century tragic heroes,” writes Rupert Christiansen. And thus “Sweeney Todd” comes to the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. The dialogue is being miked…er, make that “reinforced.” Why? Audiences are lazy today, says the production’s conductor. “It’s very destructive. I recognise that synthesizers are useful, but they eliminate instruments like the harp or guitar, and we’ve lost the possibilities of creating a deep string sound. It’s a joy at Covent Garden to be playing Sweeney Todd with a 50-piece orchestra.”

Ivan and Dinos and Jake Bat About Conceptual Art

Ivan Massow and the Chapman brothers debate conceptual art. But the exchange gets off to a rocky start, with the Chapmans firing back a dismissive shot: “We must apologise for agreeing to collaborate in a discussion on the merits and downfalls of modern art, since we now find ourselves forced to decline further participation. The first point of contact with Mr Massow has baffled us with so many negatives that any productive exchange seems doomed…”