Orchestra Digest: March 2nd

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This week: New hires in Windsor and Edmonton; a shocking death in San Francisco; the Minnesota lockouts' impacts on freelancers; and critical takedowns of operatic productions, and of the Pope. Here are stories we're following, in the news and on the web....

 
  • front page story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune assesses the lockout's impact on the Twin Cities' freelance musicians, as well as on the regular members of the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. As some musicians pick up gigs around the country, many have had very little work at all, and a thriving freelance scene has withered. CBS News tallied the overall losses to the local economy: as much as $30 million if the entire season is canceled.
  • This week SPCO musicians rejected management's "play-and-talk" proposal, but talks continue and the two sides "have nudged closer to an agreement", the Star Tribune reports.
  • The Windsor Symphony named its new Music Director this week: Robert Franz will take the helm beginning in 2013-14, succeeding Music Director Laureate John Morris Russell, the Windsorite blog reports
  • Another notable new hire in Edmonton: Robert Uchida, the current concertmaster of Symphony Nova Scotia, will join the Edmonton Symphony as concertmaster beginning this August, the Edmonton Journal reports.
  • Opera fans in New York will get a price break next season: the Metropolitan Opera is lowering its ticket prices by an average of 10%, the New York Times reports. Attendance has fallen this season, and general manager Peter Gelb acknowledged that prices had risen too high. The Met also announced details about new productions for 2013-14.
  • U.S. cultural institutions of all sorts have been bracing for federal spending cuts known as "sequester", effective yesterday as the Washington Post reports. Across-the-board cuts of 5-6% will cause furloughs and delayed maintenance at museums and performing arts venues nationwide.
  • As changes to Canada's Employment Insurance program have gone into effect, some E.I. recipients have been surprised by house calls, CBC reports. The in-person visits by HRSDC employees are intended to eliminate fraudulent claims, but opposition MPs have spoken out against them, saying they risk "intimidation" and treating laid-off workers as criminals.
  • And NPR asks: What would the Pope program? Pope Benedict XVI's musical tastes fall to the straight and narrow, NPR's Deceptive Cadence blog reports, favouring Mozart and Beethoven. The outgoing pope is an amateur pianist and also a recording artist, of sorts -- his Alma Mater album was lambasted by Guardian music critic Tom Service as "pseudo-spiritual soup of intoned prayer, bstardiased Gregorian chant, syrupy orchestral arrangements and portentous vocalizing."
Compiled by Matt Heller, OCSM President. Sources include the discussion groups of ICSOM and ROPA. Visit OCSM online at: http://ocsm-omosc.org/index.php
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