After falling off the podium last night in the middle of a performance with the Orchestre National de France, 84-year-old Kurt Masur has been hospitalized in Paris. A spokesperson for the orchestra says that he is expected to be released "very soon," adding that "he fell upside down onto his back because his left foot was too near the edge of the podium. It's not linked to health problems. He's as healthy as anyone of his age." However, this accident comes just weeks after Masur cancelled a series of scheduled performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra due to "his current physical condition."
Conductor Louis Langrée has been named the music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, beginning in the 2013-14 season. He is music director of Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival and, as chief conductor of the Camerata Salzburg, has carved out a particular niche as a gifted operatic conductor as well; this season has included appearances at the Metropolitan Opera and Vienna State Opera.
Two big pieces of news concerning labor disagreements: After that stuff a couple of weeks ago in which the Louisville Orchestra management said that any announcement of a forthcoming deal was just "game-playing," it turns out that happily, there is indeed a 1-year deal on the way. It will "allow for a 30-week season beginning this fall, and both sides are optimistic that a long-term deal will be reached by next spring."
And a relatively bright update within the ongoing slog of the Philadelphia Orchestra bankruptcy. Management has settled with the musicians' pension fund, which had filed a $35 million claim against the orchestra: "The development allows the orchestra to approach bankruptcy Judge Eric L. Frank with an uncontested reorganization plan, which mans — if the orchestra can wrap up talks with the Kimmel Center over a new lease — that it could be out of bankruptcy within 90 days."
Pianist and composer Fazil Say says that he will leave his native Turkey and live abroad, probably in Japan. After Say, an atheist, made a series of statements about Islam and the rise of Islamist politics in Turkey, the prosecutor's office in Istanbul has launched an investigation against him. Say wrote a series of messages on Twitter that the prosecutor's office says breaks two points of the Turkish Penal Code, including "fomenting hatred and enmity among the public" and "insulting religious values" not just to Muslims, but also to Jews and Christians. Both activities are illegal in the officially secular state of Turkey, which has been ruled by the conservative, Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) since 2002. Persons convicted of these offenses can be sentenced to between three months and one year in prison.
Another use for those mitten-like sneakers with the isolated toes? Playing the pedal piano — a monstrous double-decker grand — says Roberto Prosseda, who has been reviving works written for pedal piano by Schumann and Gounod as well as commissioning new works by composers like Ennio Morricone and Michael Nyman.
The park in Wales that was once a garden that belonged to the Victorian-era opera legend Adelina Patti as part of her Craig y Nos castle grounds is now a "wasteland of debris," charges local tourism officials. Said the head of the nearby National Showcaves Centre for Wales: "The park is a complete disgrace to tourism in Wales ... The pond Madam Patti had constructed for her garden contained an enchanting wooded island, but it now looks like an environmental disaster had occurred." The National Park Authority says they must rely heavily on volunteers these days due to the economic crisis, but that they have started to improve certain areas of the park.
Could it be that, at least in some ways, the Met Opera's HD movie simulcasts allow music lovers to get even more fully engaged in the performances than they would be in the Met's own house? "Even as the vocal performances are homogenized, the visuals are often thrown into higher relief. In getting so close to the performers the broadcasts can create remarkably strong moments. The woman sitting next to me in Las Vegas delivered an unprintable exclamation during the broadcast of "La Traviata" when Germont (Dmitri Hvorostovsky) slapped his son, Alfredo (Matthew Polenzani). The slap had sent a low murmur through the Met when I saw it live, but it was harrowing in high definition."
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