Orchestra Digest: January 11, 2013

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This week: Toronto loves Mozart, opera meets improv in Chicago, reviewing a tough year in the performing arts, and conductors' pop music favourites. Here are stories we're following, in the news and on the web...
  • The Toronto Symphony's Mozart Festival runs January 9-17, and the Toronto Star interviewed four TSO musicians about Mozart's unique and enduring qualities. 
  • Last week Chicago Lyric Opera and The Second City improv comedy troupe put together a collection of sketches and scenes called "The Second City Guide to Opera", and the Chicago Tribune gave it high marks for hilarity and audience-building. The Chicago Sun-Times reports the show will be reprised in June. 
  • The Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä, nominated for a Grammy for their recording of Sibelius 2nd and 5th Symphonies, will perform those works in a special concert on Feb. 1st, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. This will be the first time in months that the locked-out orchestra has performed with their Music Director.
  • Save Our SPCO, a community group seeking to end the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra lockout, this week delivered a petition to SPCO President Dobson West with nearly 3,000 signatures, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reports. The petition calls on management to move towards resolving the impasse.
  • The Indianapolis Symphony ended its lockout in the fall, but the current contract hinges on a $5 million fundraising goal by Feb. 3rd - and the ISO is still $2.4 million short, the Indianapolis Star reports. If not met, the 5-year agreement reached in October will be null, and musicians and management will restart contract negotiations.
  • ICSOM Chair Bruce Ridge and Stanford professor Robert J. Flanagan spoke to USA Today about difficulties facing orchestras: Performing arts face strikes, layoffs, bankruptcy. While the headline is bleak, the article notes that orchestras in Cincinnati and St. Louis have weathered the economic downturn quite well. 
  • The New York Times reports that Varèse Sarabande, a US label specializing in film soundtracks, has just merged with a larger British firm, the Cutting Edge Group. Executives involved plan to expand the use of soundtracks in live concert events. 
  • The Philharmonie, a new concert hall in Paris, has attracted controversy over its spiralling price, the Guardian reports. French Prime Minister François Hollande has supported the Jean Nouvel-designed building, but opposition parties and state auditors have criticized overruns that have pushed the cost to 387 million euros.
  • Sir Simon Rattle announced his term as music director of the Berlin Philharmonic will end in 2018, when his current contract expires, the Guardian reports. Rattle's tenure began in 2002, and will reach 16 seasons. 
  • The LA Times asked prominent conductors what non-classical music they enjoy, with some surprising results - Michael Tilson Thomas loves James Brown, Dudamel admires Aerosmith, and Riccardo Muti adores Cèline Dion. Bramwell Tovey declined to name any current pop stars, but listed Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter, among others. 
Compiled by Matt Heller, OCSM President. Sources include the discussion groups of ICSOM and ROPA, as well as NPR's Deceptive Cadence blog. Our new website is now up and running!: http://ocsm-omosc.org/index.php
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