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Around The Classical Internet: June 1, 2012

Turkish-born pianist Fazil Say, who has been indicted for "insulting religious values."
courtesy of the artist
Turkish-born pianist Fazil Say, who has been indicted for "insulting religious values."
  • Today, a Turkish court approved the indictment of pianist and composer Fazil Say for inciting hatred and public enmity and insulting "religious values" in a series of Twitter posts. One of his lawyers says that he has also received death threats. The trial has been scheduled for October 18.
  • When a chartered Air France flight crashed on takeoff at Paris' Orly Field 50 years ago, the city of Atlanta lost more than 100 of its cultural and civic leaders in one tragic blow. To remember that loss and spur arts growth in the burgeoning city, two institutions were founded: the Atlanta Arts Alliance and the Memorial Arts Center, now re-named the Woodruff Arts Center after Coca-Cola president and major patron Robert Woodruff.
  • Next month, an Israeli orchestra will play works by Wagner in Israel in an event organized by Jonathan Livny, the founder of the Israel Wagner Society (and whose own father, a Holocaust survivor, carried a Wagner album with him to Israel). It will be the first time an Israeli orchestra has played Wagner within Israel. In order to circumvent the position that government-subsidized orchestras should not play Wagner, Livny has hired each of the 100 orchestral musicians individually. He notes that Israel uses German-made trains and submarines: "Wagner is the last boycott."
  • The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has finally reached a deal with banks to retire the $54 million in real estate debt it owes — money that was pushing the group into bankruptcy.
  • At the end of New York City Opera's four-production season (and in the aftermath of the dust-up at the Met), Anthony Tommasini says the smaller company needs a "mission reboot." "Until it finds its footing again, New York City Opera is dogged by its own name, with all the associations to what it was."
  • The Berlin State Opera's house, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, is being refurbished — but now it won't reopen to the public until Fall 2015: "Problems resulted from the discovery of remains of Middle Age lake dwellings, wooden stilt houses, under the theater."
  • Is Graham Vick's new staging of Boris Godunov at the Mariinsky a lightly veiled protest of Vladmir Putin? Says music director Valery Gergiev, a well-known Putin supporter who has appeared in a campaign video, "I don't think that the opera world so much needs to do (a news reporter's) work, but that can happen in the hands of a strong director or artist."
  • Nico Muhly really doesn't like that Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post feature that had Joshua Bell playing in the D.C. Metro: "Do you remember that terrible article a few years ago when Joshua Bell played the violin in the subway in Washington and nobody cared? Chances are they didn't care because it's rush hour and people have to get to work so they can save money to pay for concert tickets to see him at a normal time ... but anyway, the article descended into this terrible (and terribly written) thing about the death of classical music. I just don't buy it." (Link also leads to Muhly's new Drones and Piano, streaming.)
  • So what's up with that 10-day residency that the Philadelphia Orchestra is about to take up in China? "If you're riding in a taxi in Beijing and say 'Philadelphia,' the driver will say 'orchestra' without being prompted to complete the sentence,'" says diplomat Nicholas Platt. "It's ingrained in the local mind. It's a brand."
  • From our colleague Eyder Peralta over at NPR's food blog, The Salt: music and commentary on Food Opera: Four Asparagus Compositions by Ben Houge. "Take for example this number. It's wooden and mysterious with specks of brightness and it was composed to play when the 'Super-Caramelized White Asparagus, Bran Ash, Sesame Jelly, Lemon Mousseline, Ginger Cake' was served." (As far as I can tell, the "food opera" is purely instrumental.)
  • Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.