Classical Crib Sheet: Top 5 Stories This Week

by Anastasia Tsioulcas
November 2, 2012

  • Sandy has wreaked havoc for many musicians in the Northeast, along with everyone else up here. The New Amsterdam label for new music, located in Brooklyn's Red Hook neighborhood, says it took quite a hit: "Our space was flooded with almost four feet of polluted sea water. As a result, about 70% of our catalog of CDs has been destroyed — CDs we hold on behalf of our artists (we do not own them). Literally ALL of our financial records were destroyed, including our back-up hard-drive. Sewage, gas, spilled paint thinner, and bleach all blended with seawater, creating a toxic mess."
  • Oh, and there's that crane that's halted all activities at Carnegie Hall, still "dangling over West 57th Street like a broken violin bow," according to Daniel J. Wakin of the New York Times. (Block that metaphor!)
  • Also among the casualties of Sandy, according to Slipped Disc: Marin Alsop's home studio.
  • How do you create the masterpiece of a megalomaniacal and gifted — if entirely fictional — composer? "We were kind of holding on to the thought that he's slightly delusional," a member of the composing team for the new film Cloud Atlas told Grantland about writing the Cloud Atlas Sextet. (But you can judge the results yourself.)
  • Glyndebourne Opera cancelled their Wednesday tour performance of Dvorak's Rusalka after one of the singers, baritone Robert Poulton, was killed in a car accident in Sussex the previous night, according to The Independent.


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  • A 26-year-old French conductor named Lionel Bringuier has just been named music director of Switzerland's Zurich Tonhalle orchestra as of the 2014-15 season. He succeeds David Zinman, who has held the job since 1995.
  • The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra players have just unanimously rejected the latest contract offer from management, reports Twin Cities Business magazine, meaning that even more concerts past the previously announced Nov. 4 date will also be cancelled.
  • Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov won the $100,000 grand prize in the Honens International Piano Competition. The competition is held every three years in Calgary, Alberta.
  • The Associated Press reports that in Iran, the Tehran Symphony Orchestra — which in the past featured world-class guest soloists like Yehudi Menuhin and Isaac Stern — has shut down, reportedly due to insufficient funding (and even though Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was in the front row at one of its concerts just two months ago). However, musicians of all kinds in Iran have faced on-and-off pressure from the regime since 1979, and orchestra members have said they have not been paid in three months. (Some international news outlets have erroneously referred to this ensemble as the Iran National Symphony Orchestra.)
  • Tip No. 1 for being a gracious guest conductor: Don't make jokes about the your host city, as Scottish conductor Douglas Boyd recently did. While in town to lead the Detroit Symphony Orchestra last week, he tweeted, "I'm in scary Detroit with @DetroitSymphony. Fine orchestra Managed to walk to a restaurant without a hint of being murdered." He later chalked the tweet up to "dark British humor," according to the Detroit Free Press.
  • A newly published study from Colorado State University claims that dogs overwhelmingly prefer classical music to metal as well as to "a simplistic psychoacoustic classical selection marketed for dog relaxation": "Classical was linked with more relaxed and restful behaviour, compared to the control condition (no music); heavy metal was linked with greater anxiety and unrest; and the psychoacoustic music had only a minimally calming effect."
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