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Recent news, commentary, and ideas.

Photos: Harmony Project LA


Music Lessons Enhance Brain Function in Disadvantaged Kids
Pacific Standard: Tom Jacobs
There is much evidence that poverty, and the chronic stress it creates, hinders the development of young brains. However, new research finds one important aspect of neural functioning is gradually strengthened when underprivileged children engage in a challenging but fun activity: Music lessons.

Music Education Closes Achievement Gap Between Poor and Affluent Students
Huffington Post: Rebecca Klein
In a study out Tuesday from Northwestern University, researchers looked at the impact of music education on at-risk children’s nervous systems and found that music lessons could help them develop language and reading skills. The study is the first to document the influence of after-school music education on the brains of disadvantaged children, as opposed to affluent children receiving private lessons.


Simon Rattle: 'Learning Music is a Birthright. And You Have to Start Young'
The Observer: Fiona Maddocks
A free music education was one of the glories of the UK when I was a child. Too much has been sacrificed in the name of economic necessity. Learning music is a birthright. And you have to start young.

Where Will Philadelphia Arts Be In 20 Years? Michael Kaiser Predicts
Philadelphia Enquirer: Peter Dobrin
Too many organizations have to plan art according to what the budget is, as opposed to thinking about what they want to do artistically and then figuring out how the budget can be paid for.

The Classical Cloud: The Pleasures and Frustrations of Listening Online
The New Yorker: Alex Ross
The tide has turned against the collector of recordings, not to mention the collector of books: what was once known as building a library is now considered hoarding. One is expected to banish all clutter and consume culture in a gleaming, empty room.


The Times 100: A Guide to Events that have the NYT Editors Especially Excited
New York Times
How to wade through the crush of NY culture coming your way this season.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Names Jeff Alexander as New President
Classicalite: Louise Burton
Alexander, 57, is the president and CEO of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held for the past 14 years. Alexander was the general manager of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for 12 years. He majored in French horn performance at the New England Conservatory of Music.

Spano and Runnicles Express Concern that Atlanta Symphony Quality will be Compromised
ArtsAtl: Jenny Jarvie
Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s music director Robert Spano and principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles have sent a strongly worded letter to ASO’s board, management and musicians claiming they are “deeply concerned” about “contentious” negotiations that threaten to jeopardize “the extraordinary legacy that has passed into our hands.”

Amid Choruses of Despair, an Aria of Hope: San Diego Opera Downsizes to Survive
New York Times: Adam Nagourney
Efforts by the new leadership seek to prove that opera can still thrive not in San Diego but also across the country.

Crossing over to Classical Composition not so Radical Any More
Globe and Mail: Brad Wheeler
Beethoven no longer rolls over in his grave. Rather, he’s propped up on one elbow listening to Radiohead.


Franz Welser-Möst Suddenly Quits Vienna State Opera Over Artistic Differences
Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Zachary Lewis
His decision, tendered via letter to Vienna State Opera artistic director Dominique Meyer, is effective immediately and leaves the company without a conductor for several new and revived productions in the 2014-15 season.

Icelanders, Laplanders, Turks, Oh My! Excellent Orchestras In Unexpected Places
Philadelphia Enquirer: Patrick Stearns
Can an orchestra from Turkey, Iceland, or Lapland hope to be noticed at the world's busiest orchestra festival, the summertime BBC Proms at London's Royal Albert Hall? The bigger story here is the global rise in orchestral standards.

Helsinki Philharmonic Names First Female Chief Conductor
Yle Uutiset
Susanna Mälkki will take over the reins of the Nordic region’s oldest orchestra in early 2016.

BBC Accused of Editing Out New Music from Proms on Television
The Guardian: Charlotte Higgins
Composers left disappointed by broadcaster's decision to cut works out of televised versions as BBC blames scheduling


New Data About MacArthur Fellows Shows Creative People Move More
Time: Cecilia Conrad
MacArthur Fellows are more mobile than the general population. 79% live outside the state where they were born. Approximately 30% of the general population and 42% of the college-educated population live outside the state where they were born.

Office Workers Who Sing Together Are Healthier
Newsweek: Elisabeth Braw
London is setting the tone with law firms, banks, accountancy firms, tech firms, even cosmetics giant L’Oréal now featuring company-supported choirs. A number have set up Google-style music rooms, and some even offer music lessons during the workday.


Why School Is a Great Place to Start a Business Lisa Evans
While some students choose to pursue entrepreneurial endeavours once they have their degree in hand, others encounter business opportunities while in school and choose to do both – manage a business and their studies simultaneously.

YouTube Quietly Launches a Crowdfunding Feature
Digital Music News: Nina Ulloa
YouTube had teased the feature at VidCon in June. This could kill the need for YouTube creators to use secondary platforms, such as Patreon and Kickstarter.

9 New Rules For Making Music In Today's Online World
Forbes: Bobby Owsinski
The music world we live in today is decidedly different from that of only five years ago, let alone a few decades. Where once the entire business was based around physical sales, today its more about aggregating multiple revenue streams for both the artist and the record label.

iTunes Song Downloads Will Drop 39% In Five Years
Digital Music News: Paul Resnikoff
Last year was the first year that iTunes song downloads declined, ever. Get used to that trend: according to a finding just released by MIDiA Research, song downloads will drop 39% over the next five years, thanks to aggressive gains in streaming.

If You Say "Facebook is Not a Direct Sales Tool" You're Not Using It Correctly
Capacity Interactive (Blog)
If you still say "Facebook is not a direct sales tool" you're not using it correctly. And you don't understand how the marketing world has dramatically changed.

Can Musicians Survive on Streaming Income?
CNN Money (video interview)
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek says the majority of royalties to artists in Sweden come from people streaming the music online. He thinks the same will happen around the world.

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