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A 'Numpty' Glance, Minnesotan Muddles And Brass Bullies

Violinist Nicola Benedetti, whose interview with the <em>Scottish Sun</em> this week sparked a furor — including the writer being called a "numpty," or fool.
courtesy of the artist
Violinist Nicola Benedetti, whose interview with the Scottish Sun this week sparked a furor — including the writer being called a "numpty," or fool.
  • It's not all that often anymore that sexism and female objectification are so revoltingly obvious, but then someone dreams up something like this: a leering and condescending interview in the Scottish Sun with violinist Nicola Benedetti. (I don't really want to give the Sun any credence with more page views, but this one has to be read to be believed.)
  • Not surprisingly, but still hearteningly, the other Scottish press outlets have gone to town on the Sun. The New Statesman: "I'm offended that a company thinks I am that stupid, misogynist and ignorant — and you should feel insulted, too. But you know, mostly I'm not offended. I'm just disappointed that in 2012 this passes for journalism and there are still numpties out there willing to defend it." (Numpties! My new favorite word.)
  • And The Scotsman: "Rather than focusing all their attention on the musical content of the events they attend, our critics will now be required to spend at least 50 per cent of their reviews talking about the physical appearance of the performers. To reflect this change, classical music reviews will now carry two star ratings — one for musical content and one for the attractiveness (or otherwise) of the players."
  • Oy vey, Hanh-Bin. The outre Korean violinist, a former student of Itzhak Perlman, has chosen a new name in becoming an American citizen — Amadeus Leopold.
  • Upward: Naxos founder Klaus Heymann on the future of the classical recording business: "If, five years from now, there is 25 percent physical business left, we will be lucky. The other 75 percent will be some blend of download, streaming, and online broadcasting. It will basically go nonphysical. Look at our Naxos Music Library. It was the first successful streaming business, launched in 2002 — eight years before Spotify."
  • St. Paul Chamber Orchestra violinist Evelina Chao has written an open letter in the St. Paul Pioneer Press decrying the situation in which she and her colleagues currently find themselves: "The SPCO management and board have proposed wage cuts of 57 percent and 67 percent, as well as reducing drastically the number of concerts involving our full ensemble. These proposals have caused some musicians to sell their homes, audition for jobs elsewhere, and request leave in order to seek work in another field."
  • Which leads to a provocative question posed by Minnesota Public Radio: Do the Twin Cities actually need two orchestras? (Their answer is yes.)
  • Speaking of orchestral strife: "Without much of a fanfare, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and its musicians failed to come up with a new collective bargaining agreement, leaving them without contracts as the deadline quietly passed Saturday night."
  • And, ugh, one more: An initial report stated that management at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra "wants to reduce the number of musicians under contract from 87 to 63, cut wages by 45 percent, reduce the schedule from 52 to 36 weeks and revisit the terms of the musicians' pension."
  • Once that bit of information had made the internet rounds, Indy management quickly revised their proposal to a 38-week schedule, dropping four to six classical concerts, one or two pops concerts and half of the summer performances."
  • What went down at Santa Fe Opera? The company announced Tuesday afternoon that Frédéric Chaslin, its chief conductor, was gone just days after the season ended. "Chaslin's departure did not appear to have been anticipated ... Asked whether Chaslin would conduct the productions of Verdi's La traviata and Offenbach's La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein that he was scheduled to lead next summer, [a press rep] stated that he would not.
  • Remember that story last week about how WestJet caused cellist Paul Katz such grief over flying with his cello? Well, the airline has clarified their position. Apparently they just don't want musicians' business. After saying last week that their seats weren't certified to safely contain a strapped-in case, a spokesman says: "The demand for this service is insufficient to justify the cost, time and resources involved in launching the certification. We fly roughly 16 million guests each year, and receive at most a handful of telephone calls from guests asking if they may purchase a seat for their cello."
  • Can I get an amen? "Criticism is a genre that one has to have a knack for, and the people who have a knack for it are those whose knowledge intersects interestingly and persuasively with their taste. In the end, the critic is someone who, when his knowledge, operated on by his taste in the presence of some new example of the genre he's interested in — a new TV series, a movie, an opera or ballet or book — hungers to make sense of that new thing, to analyze it, interpret it, make it mean something. And so I dreamed of becoming a critic."
  • Popera songstress Katherine Jenkins received death threats after rumors erupted on Twitter that she was having an affair with David Beckham.
  • The brass section is filled with drunken bullies and arch-conservatives? Sorry, I thought they were the rowdy goofballs of the orchestra. (But what do I know? I married a trumpet player.)
  • So this Tumblr is not for everybody, but I'm in love with F*^& Yeah! Elliott Carter. (Sample: "Elliott Carter is over one-f*^&ing-hundred years old and still does more in a day than you do all week.")
  • Speaking of shameful language: I'm going to clean up this headline to read "Top Ten Classical Albums for People Who Don't Know Bupkis About Classical Music." No. 1? Terry Riley, In C. Aw, yeah! (But the Haydn "Fifths" quartet? Lovely, but in a top ten? Hmm.)
  • 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.