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Around The Classical Internet: May 4, 2012

By Anastasia Tsioulcas | NPR
Saturday, May 5, 2012

  • I'm not sure how the Daily Mail arrived at the unfortunate headline "An Unlikely Fan: Why Opera's Biggest Star, Domingo Placido Is Crazy For Lady Gaga." The obvious hed goof aside, it's not like Domingo gives La Gaga effusive praise: "I think Lady Gaga has a very good voice. Absolutely. She has a wonderful voice. I know she's very wild in her performance, and clever, and she does all these things to please the youth. But when you listen to her, the voice is good." (That doesn't strike me as a rave.)
  • Violinist and pedagogue Zvi Zeitlin died this week at age 90 due to complications from pneumonia. At the time of his passing, Zeitlin was still on the faculty of the Eastman School of Music, where he had taught for 45 years. As a soloist, he played with such conductors as Rafael Kubelik, Jascha Horenstein, Antal Dorati, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, James Levine, Pierre Boulez and countless others. Zeitlin, who gave a farewell recital in February at Eastman, leaves a discography including important recordings of Stravinsky and Schoenberg.
  • In the aftermath of Kurt Masur's fall in Paris (which resulted in a fractured shoulder blade), the conductor has announced he is withdrawing from concerts through September 2012.
  • Maybe Philly really is almost back on its feet: "The orchestra has a new labor agreement reducing minimum musician salaries by about 15% and cutting the size of the ensemble by about 10 musicians to 95. It also is close to finalizing a new lease agreement with Kimmel Center Inc., where since 2001 its home has been the 2,500-seat Verizon Hall, to reduce operating costs. Performances have continued during the proceedings, and orchestra officials say attendance is up."
  • NPR member station WQXR pulled a post critical of the Met's new Ring cycle from its "Operavore" blog after the company's general manager, Peter Gelb, personally complained to the president and chief executive of WQXR's parent organization, New York Public Radio.
  • An Egyptian chamber orchestra, made up entirely of blind women who also sing as a chorus, is on tour in Malta this weekend. Called the Al Nour wal Amal ("Light and Hope") Blind Girls Chamber Orchestra, the group has already visited Austria, Germany, England, Japan, Thailand and Canada. Each member of the group studies her music in Braille and then commits each piece to memory. For this concert, they will play music by Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Khachaturian, Bizet, Maltese contemporary composer Joseph Vella and works from the Middle East and India.
  • Opera News gave out its annual awards. The 2012 winners were director Peter Sellars, Russian baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky, German soprano Anja Silja, Swedish baritone Peter Mattei and Finnish soprano Karita Mattila.
  • Here's The Guardian on five myths about contemporary classical music: It sounds like a squeaky gate (what?); it's inaccessible; you need to have a beard and a black "polo-neck jumper" (I believe that's turtlenecks to us Yanks) to appreciate it; it's irrelevant; and it's written for classical musicians so it must be "old." Lies! All lies!
  • So this doesn't help the relevance argument: violinist Joshua Bell and tenor Vittorio Grigolo performed on Dancing with the Stars this week. The dancers wore wigs, big flouncy ball gowns, breeches and buckled shoes.
  • What good is an iPad for writing classical music? On the other hand, here's more proof of how good an iPad can be for reading music: I saw this in a catalog last night.
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