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Recent news, commentary, and ideas.

The New [Music] Superpowers
The Economist: Elisabeth Braw
Korean singers, singers from the former East block, and now more and more singers from China: we're seeing the rise of new opera-singer superpowers that challenge the primacy of traditional opera nations such as France and Italy.

Of anthems and ballet: sopranos, choruses, and classical music open Sochi Games
Washington Post: Anne Midgette
The contrast was striking. A week ago, an American classical star sang America’s national anthem at the Super Bowl: Renee Fleming offered a restrained but still slightly ornamented, slightly pop-tinged version of the song. Tonight, the opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics did not lack for spectacle and glitz, and the Russians also put some of their own classical stars front and center. But when it came to the Russian national anthem, the organizers played it straight.

Duke Ellington's Lost Opera, Forever A Work In Progress
Duke Ellington added more than 3,000 songs to the American music vault before his death in 1974. He also started composing what he hoped would be a great American street opera — which composers have spent 40 years adapting, trying to figure out what the Duke wanted for his unfinished opus.

Met Opera Singers' Union Braces for Tough Contract Talks
WQXR: Brian Wise
The union representing the singers, dancers and production staff at the Metropolitan Opera is telling its members to expect an “epic battle” in upcoming contract talks.


Send Chutes and Ladders
New Music Box: Molly Sheridan
There’s a pretty large gap between how the jazz and the classical community see these fields and how the rest of the music community sees them (as a quick scan of the Billboard charts often makes painfully evident), and that has both cultural and economic repercussions.

Why Bach Moves Us
NY Review of Books
George Stauffer extensively reviews John Eliot Gardner's new book "Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven" in the New York Review of Books.

The Minor Greatness of Benjamin Britten
The New Republic: Philip Kennicott
How did England's best composer accomplish so much when he aimed for so little?

Are Art Professionals Afraid of Fair Use? Jillian Steinhauer
Visual art professionals are not making use of fair use, a new report issued by the College Art Association (CAA) says, in large part because they're concerned about the repercussions.

Arts Assessment: Let's Stop "Proving" and Start Improving
Museum 2.0: Nina Simon
Research and assessment is rare in the arts, and it tends to focus on "proving" our value with economic impact studies and the like. Nina Simon (Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History and author of The Participatory Museum) believes that our ability to "prove" our value is most correlated not to our economic impact and test score inflation but to our ability to do what we do best. And to do it most powerfully, we need research that can guide us to better choices and approaches.

The Cultural Legacy of Portland’s Empowered Middle Class
Anne Richardson (blog)
In Portland, the symphony, ballet, and state historical society have dwindled in size. Yet Oregon’s public television station, located in Portland, is the third largest producer of public television programming in the nation, after New York and Boston. Portland produced the creator of the most popular television situation comedy of all time. The public radio show most likely to replace “Prairie Home Companion” is made in Portland. Rebecca Solnit calls it “that hybrid and ever-evolving mix of sophisticated technique and populist content”: entertainment.

Following Oil Boom In N. Dakota: A Cultural Blooming?
The oil fields of western North Dakota are bringing vast economic opportunity to a region that just 10 years ago was in decline. Yet, this vitality is rough around the edges and high art and culture are rare commodities. One organization is trying to change that by sending two professional writers into towns most impacted by the boom to conduct creative writing workshops.


New York Philharmonic’s Archives Going Online
The New York Times
The founding documents of the New York Philharmonic — back to its inaugural 1842-43 season — are now available online.

Memphis Symphony Faces its Own Financial Crisis
Memphis Business Journal
Following in the tumultuous footsteps of its Nashville counterpart, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra announced that it is facing a financial crisis that will require aggressive steps to complete the current season.


Samuragochi’s Scurrilous Symphony: Between Fraud and Collaboration
Washington Post
The deaf composer Mamoru Samuragochi turns out to be neither deaf nor a composer. Is Takashi Niigaki, who wrote his music, an artist in his own right, or an executor of another's concepts?


The Digital System That Fixes Concert Hall Sound
SF Classical Voice
Does it represent the new paradigm of concert hall sonics, or does it spell the death of “live” acoustic sound as we have grown to know it?


How to Buy Your Own Piece of Classical Music - One Bar at a Time
The Guardian
An innovative approach to funding new music means that you can literally buy a bar of Charlotte Bray's latest composition. Alfred Hickling investigates, and, yes, stumps up for bar 29.

Music Genres May Influence What We Buy Online
Wall Street Journal
Music played on websites can evoke memories and feelings that affect purchases and choices visitors make on the site, suggests a study in the current issue of the Psychology of Music.

The Future Of Music Income Is Not Downloads… Or Streams
Physical merchandise is the way of the future (and the past).


New Research Says There Are Only Four Emotions
The Atlantic
Conventional scientific understanding is that there are six, but new research suggests there may only happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted.


Scan of Beethoven’s Lengthy Love Letter to His Mysterious “Immortal Beloved” (1812)
Open Culture
"My angel, my all, my self – only a few words today, and indeed with pencil (with yours) only tomorrow is my..."


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