The London Symphony Orchestra, live at the Olympics opening ceremony? Yeah, not so much. The musicians will mime to a recording of themselves. Said one player: "No one is complaining about being paid both for the recordings and the show but it can't be the best use of taxpayers' money." And, as the Daily Mail trenchantly observes, "The extraordinary arrangement means that the [as-yet unannounced] big-name conductor chosen to preside over the LSO at the opening ceremony on July 27 will be moving their arms around to no effect."
This morning, the folks who run the Grammys announced a few additions and changes to their awards in the aftermath of the category cutbacks last year. There's a new, awkwardly titled category called "Best Classical Compendium," for which the description is very confusing.
I called the Recording Academy today for clarification, and Bill Freimuth, the VP of awards, explained to me that Best Classical Compendium is meant for new albums and boxed sets that encompass more than one compositional form — for example, an album that includes both a symphony and a concerto. Another example would be a single album in which there are more than two works with soloists (say, three concertos), because in order to qualify for Best Classical Instrumental Solo, any one soloist would have to appear on more than 51% of the entire album. So: This award is not meant for reissues or compilations, and is not meant for crossover recordings per se (though crossover albums might be eligible).
Two follow-ups: Remember that fradulent violin dealer in Austria? The one loaned millions of pounds by German banks with worthless "Strads" as collateral, and who had stores in Vienna, Zurich, New York, Chicago, Aspen, Tokyo and Seoul? He's been charged.
Judith Nelson, a soprano who was a pioneer in the revival of early and Baroque music, died Monday at age 72 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. She made dozens of recordings with conductors including John Eliot Gardiner, William Christie, René Jacobs and Christopher Hogwood.
And the man who coined the term "the Mozart Effect," Don Campbell, has died of pancreatic cancer at age 65.
The 100-plus-year-old Delaware Symphony is suspending its 2012-13 season due to lack of funding. Says the orchestra's new executive director, Lee Williamson: "We're doing our best to put together a plan so we can move forward."
So the troubles in Philadelphia have shifted back to the Philly Pops, which is now threatening to drop music director Peter Nero, who's been with the group since its founding in 1979. The Pops had asked Nero to take a 40 percent pay cut; his most recent annual compensation, according to the orchestra, was $513,000. (Nero disputes that figure.)
The hit Broadway play Doubt is now being turned into an opera in St. Paul, Minn. with playwright John Patrick Shanley as librettist. Douglas J. Cuomo is writing the score. Music allows for additional levels of nuance, says the Pulitzer-winning Shanley: "Two people in [a] scene can be in complete disagreement but in musical terms they are very much in agreement, and that is a fascinating different kind of subtext."
As Nixon in China gets staged for the first (!) time by San Francisco Opera, here's composer John Adams on his title character: "He was a wonderful topic for a composer. We, as dramatic composers, want our characters to be complex, and we don't want them to be all good or all bad. We want them to have the capacity to be noble, as well as wicked and paranoid and ridiculous."
Composer Elliott Carter, aged 103, on Greenwich Village speakeasies, watching Frank Sinatra try to get Stravinsky's autograph and investing: "Finally, I just said to hell with it. I have too many other things that bother me."
And an interview with composer and conductor Oliver Knussen, who turns 60 next week: "The popular image of classical music is still so hung up on anachronistic appearances — tenors in white tie and tails, concerts being introduced by ladies in long frocks. I'd get rid of all that. It's a good idea if people wear roughly the same thing, I suppose, but they don't have to cling on to Edwardian nonsense."
Your weird news of the week: A 65-year-old lieder specialist and professor of German at the University of Georgia, Max Roland Reinhart, was arrested Thursday night for prostitution. He was arrested by an undercover officer after soliciting for customers in the transsexual escort section of Backpage.com. (You may want to take a look at his mugshot.)
Proof that countertenors have hit the American mainstream: this self-taught Goth kid on America's Got Talent, singing "O Mio Babbino Caro" in falsetto. And none of the judges — all of whom loved him — even blinked at his sound.
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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.