Kennedy Center Honors to be presented in May to Midori, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, Debbie Allen, Dick Van Dyke

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Left to right: Kennedy Center Honorees Debbie Allen, Dick Van Dyke, Midori, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks

“This spring, the Kennedy Center Honors will salute five performing artists—singer Joan Baez, country musician Garth Brooks, dancer-choreographer Debbie Allen, violinist Midori, and actor Dick Van Dyke—and break with tradition by staging six days of intimate performances instead of a one-night blockbuster event,” writes Peggy McGlone in Wednesday’s (1/13) Washington Post. “The 43rd Kennedy Center Honors will be held May 17-22 and broadcast in prime time on CBS on June 6. Because of coronavirus-related restrictions on large gatherings … tributes to honorees will be performed in multiple, smaller settings … including outdoors on the front plaza and inside the Grand Foyer and the Reach—and the producers will stitch them together for television…. Midori, 49, has performed with dozens of major orchestras and classical musicians in her 35-year career [and] works with youth in her Midori & Friends program in New York City, and Music Sharing, a foundation that focuses on classical and Japanese music traditions…. Van Dyke answered his phone Tuesday morning singing the opening bars of ‘Put on a Happy Face.’ … ‘I’m so pleased,’ he said…. ‘I’m 95…. I want to stay alive. I’m not leaving without it.’ ”

January 14, 2021

Extended contract: Fabio Luisi to remain Dallas Symphony’s music director through 2029

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“The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has extended music director Fabio Luisi’s contract five years, through the 2028-29 season,” writes Scott Cantrell in Wednesday’s (1/13) Dallas Morning News. “The internationally acclaimed Italian conductor’s original contract included the 2019-20 season as music director-designate and four seasons starting in 2020-21 fully in place as music director…. [During] the coronavirus pandemic … Luisi, working with Peter Czornyj, the orchestra’s vice president of artistic operations, and Kim Noltemy, DSO president and CEO, revised plans to present concerts in the 2020-21 season. Programming was adjusted to works that could be performed with chamber-orchestra complements of musicians [and] the orchestra began to make video recordings of performances…. In addition, the … recording label Deutsche Grammophon will present the DSO’s Jan. 14-16 all-Mozart program [guest conducted by Nicholas McGegan] on the label’s own DG Stage video platform…. The DSO will be the first American orchestra presented on the DG platform. Luisi returns to lead the orchestra in four concerts in January and February…. Luisi recently renewed his contract as principal conductor of the Danish National Symphony through 2026. But at the end of this season, he will end his tenure as general music director of the Zurich Opera in Switzerland.”

January 14, 2021

Sydney Symphony to perform reworked “Four Seasons” with climate-change theme

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“Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons is one of the most familiar works in the classical repertoire,” writes Nick Galvin in Sunday’s (1/10) Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). “An innovative project called The [Uncertain] Four Seasons is attempting to ‘update’ Vivaldi’s work … by injecting climate prediction data into the score to change and distort the music…. Melbourne composer Hugh Crosthwaite’s role is to take the music generated by the computer and smooth off the rough edges to create a ‘spectacular concept that carries the essence of the idea’ but is still capable of being performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra…. One of the data sets to be injected into the Sydney performance concerns biodiversity and species loss. ‘That might mean in one movement you are just missing notes,’ says Crosthwaite. ‘Where Vivaldi says, “Here are the birds” there might be fewer birds.’ One of Crosthwaite’s collaborators is Tim Devine, executive creative director of Sydney design and innovation agency AKQA. He points out that the upcoming performance of The [Uncertain] Four Seasons uses local data to make it specific to Sydney…. The [Uncertain] Four Seasons will be staged … January 12-13 as part of Sydney Festival.”

January 14, 2021

Grand Rapids Symphony adds streamed performances this winter and spring

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“The Grand Rapids Symphony has scheduled a series of socially distanced virtual concerts from January to May,” writes Brian Mcvicar in Thursday’s (1/14) Grand Rapids Press (MI). “The Pathwaves series features ‘socially distanced orchestral ensembles,’ whose concerts are performed ‘without intermission, and will be streamed live to patrons’ homes, reflecting the Symphony’s commitment to the health and safety of musicians and audiences alike,’ the symphony said. ‘The Grand Rapids Symphony is about music, not silence,’ Marcelo Lehninger, the symphony’s music director, said. ‘Very early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to not stop making music, but rather to find alternative ways to deliver it to our community. The Grand Rapids Symphony immersed itself in exploring virtual ways to share our music online.’ ” Concerts in the series launched on January 8 with works by Mozart, Villa-Lobos, Copland, and the spiritual “Rock-a My Soul,” arranged by Stacey Gibbs. Programs on Jan. 22, Feb. 5, Feb. 26, March 12, April 23, and May 14 will include works by Holst, Vivaldi, Arvo Pärt, Stravinsky, Beethoven, and John Williams; a dance-themed program with the Grand Rapids Ballet will feature Poulenc’s Aubade and Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

January 14, 2021

Amid ongoing pandemic closures, classical streaming market continues to expand

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In 2020, classical performances “moved online and the business model was given a mighty, once-in-a-generation jolt,” writes Richard Fairman in Friday’s (1/8) Financial Times (U.K.; subscription required). “A handful of major players have been providing wider access for some years [including] the Berlin Philharmonic [and] the Metropolitan Opera…. Other orchestras and opera companies entered the field … in short order…. Festivals, like Tanglewood in the US and Edinburgh in the UK, took up the baton during the summer…. Three organizations exemplify how the ambition to capture the online market is overturning the status quo—the august record company Deutsche Grammophon (DG), the music streaming service Idagio, and longstanding artists’ agency HarrisonParrott…. All three were prompted to move into streaming live performances by the impact of the pandemic…. The initial spur was to replace the activity missing in live concerts and generate income for artists who had lost their work…. HarrisonParrott … launched its live streaming service Virtual Circle on December 8 [with] an orchestral concert by the Oslo Philharmonic…. With so many orchestras and opera companies getting involved, now joined by record companies and artists’ agencies, there is competition at almost every level.”

January 14, 2021

Opinion: Suggestions for the incoming Biden administration on prioritizing the arts

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“Professional creative artists are facing unemployment at rates well above the national average—more than 52 percent of actors and 55 percent of dancers were out of work in the third quarter of the year, at a time when the national unemployment rate was 8.5 percent,” write Jason Farago in Wednesday’s (1/13) New York Times. “The effects of this cultural depression will be excruciating, and not only for the symphony not written, the dance not choreographed … the musical not staged…. Culture is also an industry sector accounting for more than 4.5 percent of this country’s gross domestic product…. As President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. prepares to take office next week, and begins to flesh out his proposals to help the nation recover, he and his cabinet have the chance—the responsibility—to offer a new settlement for American culture…. As the economy recovers, [society] is going to require major social catharsis—and he needs to ensure that the arts are still there to provide it.” Suggestions for the incoming administration include a “new, federal cultural works project”; improving unemployment benefits for independent contractors and gig workers; and establishing a White House Office for Culture led by “a Dr. Fauci of culture.”

January 14, 2021

Chicago Philharmonic launches residency program for composers of color

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The Chicago Philharmonic announced the launch of a new Composer in Residence program for composers of color. The orchestra says it is “committed to improving practices in diversity, inclusion, and equity to enhance its egalitarian, musician-governed society that it values so deeply.” Up to three composers will be selected for three-year residencies, to include performances by the Chicago Philharmonic of one newly composed chamber work and one newly composed symphonic work; a cumulative $2,500 award per composer; and a seat on the Chicago Philharmonic’s board-elected Artistic Programming and Policies Committee, providing input and sharing in the organization’s artistic planning for the duration of the residency. Applicants must be between the ages of 20 to 40 as of March 31, 2021, and must be a resident of the United States. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2021. Applications and more information can be found at https://www.chicagophilharmonic.org.

January 14, 2021