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The word on the street is that American Orchestras are hurting. In 2009 both endowments and audiences have shrunk. This fall we’ve seen the Cleveland Orchestra announce a new residency with the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City and an innovative Friday concert series aimed at a younger crowd. Both moves are intended to reach new audiences and generate new revenue.

In Sunday’s Washington Post, Anne Midgette explores another audience-boosting tactic — the new, celebrity, conductor. Without doubt, the biggest hype of the season surrounds the arrival of Gustavo Dudamel in Los Angeles. Also this fall, the New York Philharmonic has welcomed maestro Alan Gilbert. It is still too early to tell whether new blood has increased the audience in these cities, but they have reason to be hopeful. Midgette points to Pittsburgh (Manfred Honeck) and Dallas (Jaap van Zweden) as recent examples of orchestras reenergized by new music directors.

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Opera Circle in a Preview of Bellini’s I Capuleti e I Montecchi, on September 26, 2009 at the Cleveland Bridge Project. Amy Scheetz (Romeo), Dorota Sobieska (Giulietta) and Ray Liddle (Lorenzo), accompanied by music director and pianist Jacek Sobieski and violinist Wanda Sobieska. This opera will be presented with chorus and orchestra on November 6 and 8 at the Shrine Church of St. Stanislaus, Cleveland.

Nigel Redden, director of Lincoln Center Festival, and Gary Hanson, executive director of The Cleveland Orchestra, announced on Tuesday afternoon a new multi-year residency for the Orchestra at the Lincoln Center Festival to begin in 2011 and continue in 2013 and 2015.

From July 13-17, 2011, Franz Welser-Möst will conduct four concerts juxtaposing Bruckner’s Symphonies 5, 7, 8 and 9 with works by John Adams, and will also give a master class on Bruckner at the Juilliard School.

The 2013 and 2015 residencies will include fully staged productions from the Vienna State Opera with Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra in the pit of the David H. Koch Theater (Welser-Möst will become General Music Director of the VSO in 2010, in the same year as Dominique Meyer, currently of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysees in Paris becomes Intendant). The second and third residencies will also include concert performances and possibly ballet.

On the web:

The New York Times: Cleveland Orchestra Gets Its Toe in New York

The Cleveland Plain Dealer: Cleveland Orchestra to be part of Lincoln Center Festival

The Harlem String Quartet

The Harlem String Quartet

After reading Daniel Hathaway’s concert report, you’ll kick yourself for missing Sphinx Chamber Orchestra, Harlem Quartet & Elena Urioste on the Tuesday Musical Series last Tuesday in Akron.  Never fear Northeast Ohioans! The tour returns to Oberlin College this Sunday, September 20 at 3:00 pm.

Has musicianship gone the way of twitter, instant messaging, sound bites? In this day and age, is an audience’s attention held by a performance punctuated with exaggerated emotionalism? In a scathing review of pianist Lang Lang’s August 30 performance of Chopin’s F minor piano concerto with the Dresden Staatskapelle in Lucerne, Michael Kimmelman suggests Mr. Lang’s playing has everything to do with our high-speed information age mind-set.

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Writing in the Telegraph, Ivan Hewett considers the longevity and popularity of the “Last Night of the Proms.” The exuberant Last Night performance, always memorable for the audience’s funny hats, noisemakers, and singalong choruses of “Rule Britannia” and “Land of Hope and Glory,” is a spectacle, and as is the case with most spectacles, some find it downright embarrassing.

Hewett observes that recent Prom Directors, in an effort to moderate the overt nationalism of the evening

…have adopted something like the American policy of ‘containment’ in the Cold War. They acknowledge a ‘sphere of influence’ for the fun and jingoist songs, but they try to box it in and if possible shrink it. They’ve made the serious first half longer, and have slipped serious things into the second half. But the audience gets its revenge. Their silly hats and klaxons create a kind of Last Night  Miasma which takes over everything.

So why does the Last Night persist? What might the future hold? The article is here.

On Saturday, September 12, WCLV will broadcast the famous “Last Night of the Proms” live beginning at 2:00 pm.

What’s wrong with piano competitions? Michael Johnson, writing for Facts & Arts, thinks there are too many, they limit artistic development, and, perhaps most damning, the judging process is terribly flawed.

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Erich Kunzel, conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, died today at the age of 74. One of the icons of orchestral pops in the United States, his talents and his enthusiasm for the art form will be truly missed.

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