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WQXR looks deeper into the issues affecting the classical music landscape.

WQXR looks deeper into the issues affecting the classical music landscape.
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New York, NY




WQXR looks deeper into the issues affecting the classical music landscape.




WQXR c/o New York Public Radio 160 Varick Street, 8th floor New York, NY 10013 (646) 829-4000


Is the 'Star-Spangled Banner' Out of Place at Orchestra Concerts?

The "Star-Spangled Banner" that kicks off opening night concerts across the U.S. is often believed to be a great patriotic tradition. But some people think it's out of place and out of mood. The Fort Worth Symphony recently drew criticism over its practice of playing the anthem before every concert. A Dallas musician sounded off on Facebook that orchestra concerts were not meant to be patriotic events, and that the anthem ruined the mood a conductor was trying to set. Many others...


Why Russia Wants to Take Rachmaninoff From Westchester

An international dispute arose last month when Russia announced its intentions to reclaim Rachmaninoff's remains from a cemetery in Valhalla, NY. Russian cultural minister Vladimir Medinsky claimed that Americans have neglected the composer's grave (pictured above) while attempting to "shamelessly privatize" his name. But Rachmaninoff's descendants have balked at the idea of moving the body, pointing out that he died in the U.S. after spending decades outside of Russia in self-imposed...


Why Do Contemporary Operas Rarely Get Revivals?

Attending a new opera? Better take it all in because there's a good chance it may not be performed again. According to a 2015 study by Opera America, of the 589 operas that were premiered over the last 20 years, just 71 (or 11 percent) received subsequent revivals. For the second of two episodes dedicated to contemporary opera, we consider why the revival percentage is so low, and what gives a new opera staying power. Marc Scorca, president and CEO of Opera America, says that historically,...


As Newspapers Cut Music Critics, a Dark Time for the Arts or Dawn of a New

It's no secret that arts coverage has been slashed by many news media outlets looking to pare costs, and there are fewer writers and less space devoted to serious classical music criticism. This year has seen critics leave national newspapers including the Houston Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News; last December brought the departure of long time New York Times critic Allan Kozinn. That's not to mention magazines; the age when Time and Newsweek had full rosters of arts critics have...


Disbelief Suspended? Met Opera Abandons 'Blackface' Makeup in 'Otello'

When Laurence Olivier played Othello in 1964, he would spend two hours a night coating his body with black grease, dying his tongue red and using drops to whiten his eyes. Such transformations have long since been banished from television and theater as racially insensitive, but some variations on this have doggedly continued in opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, up until this week. The Met has said that for its season-opening new production of Verdi's Otello the lead tenor,...


Music Festivals Increasingly Promote Their Value to Tourism and Economy

"Art for art's sake?" Not any more. A growing number of economic impact studies conducted by arts groups suggest that music festivals have a big impact on local economies. "If you do these studies and show them to government officials, they might be more willing to invest in the arts in their own communities," says Timothy Mangan, the classical music critic of the Orange County Register, who recently reported on the issue in Southern California. Mangan found that festivals and venues in...


As Soloists Aim For Glamour, Is Classical Music Going the Way of Pop?

Scan through the websites and social media feeds of many orchestras, music festivals and concert halls and you'll notice a common theme: youth and sex appeal, especially when it comes to soloists. But it's more specific than that: Alluring young female violinists are everywhere – and brooding male conductors (or guitarists) with artfully-groomed stubble aren't far behind. These musicians may well be talented and accomplished but their prominence also raises some questions: Is there room...


Can Apple Music Find Harmony with Classical Music Fans?

"The whole concept of streaming doesn't fit with the way people listen to classical music," says Kirk McElhearn, a technology writer and senior contributor to Macworld, in this week's episode of Conducting Business. The launch of the online streaming serviceApple Music has raised hopes and reinforced some of the persistent complaints about Apple when it comes to delivering symphonies, concertos and operas to listeners' computers and mobile devices. In test runs, McElhearn found that Apple...


Reynold Levy Delivers Frank Assessment of Lincoln Center and Its Leaders

When Reynold Levy became president of Lincoln Center in 2002, the organization was “a community in deep distress, riven by conflict,” according to New York magazine. No surprise that the title of Levy’s new memoiris They Told Me Not to Take That Job: Tumult, Betrayal, Heroics, and the Transformation of Lincoln Center. While much of Levy’s book offers an upbeat look at Lincoln Center's $1.2 billion redevelopment and its years of balanced budgets, he also surprised many with hisscathingtake...


Tchaikovsky: Does His Sex Life Matter to His Music?

It's hard to talk about Tchaikovsky these days without getting into, well, sex. That probably says less about the Russian composer, who was born 175 years ago Thursday, than it does about us, according to Simon Morrison, a professor of Slavic Studies at Princeton University. Tchaikovsky's letters and journal entries leave little doubt that he was gay. But Morrison cautions against reducing his operas, ballets and symphonies to coded expressions of his private life. "Generally these works...


Michael Kaiser To Ailing Arts Groups: 'Don't Play It Safe'

If you've ever looked out on an orchestra audience and marveled at all of the gray hair and empty seats, the next question that may enter your mind is, how will this picture look in 10, 20 or 30 years? And should I be alarmed? In this week's episode, Michael Kaiser, known as the arts world's "Mr. Fix-It," gives some less-than-rosy answers – as well as some advice for orchestras and opera companies. For 14 years,Kaiser was president of Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center, and before that, he...


Do Broadway Musicals Have a Place on the Opera Stage?

Chicago Tribune chief theater critic Chris Jones tells Naomi Lewin that nothing lights up his e-mail inbox like an opera company staging a Broadway musical using full amplification. "It's full of disgruntled patrons," he said. "You get the natural hall acoustics working– and then you get a miked performer." The controversies go beyond acoustics and amplification– there's also the question of how to blend performers from the worlds of opera and Broadway in a single cast. On the other hand,...


Valentina Lisitsa Episode: Lessons in Damage Control

Orchestras and arts organizations find themselves walking a fine line with protecting their brand when they hire an artist with controversial views.


Toronto Symphony President Defends Decision to Drop Controversial Pianist

Toronto Symphony president Jeff Melanson tells WQXR's Conducting Business that Valentina Lisitsa's politics had nothing to do with the orchestra's decision to drop her.


Forget the iPod. Was the Sony Walkman the Real Game-Changer?

If you're a music fan of a certain age youll remember your first Walkman: likely a cassette player with a belt clip and possibly a built-in radio.


Can a Performance Simulator Train Musicians for High-Stress Gigs?

Virtual reality technology is being used to try and help musicians prepare for the cutthroat classical music world.


Detecting Music Plagiarism, After the 'Blurred Lines' Case

Classical music would sound rather different today if composers from Palestrina to Bach, Stravinsky to John Williams didn't borrow or steal melodies.


Sheet Music: In with the Tablet, out with the Page?

When Frank Music Company, the last store in New York City dedicated to selling classical sheet music, closed its doors last Friday there was much dismay about its significance.


What Do Orchestras Really Need in a Music Director?

Factors to consider include taste in repertoire, age, nationality, race, gender, fundraising skills -- and of course, musicianship.


Violinists Surrender Their Prized Instruments as Prices Soar

In the last week, two top violinists got a visit by the Repo Man. Find out what two industry watchers think is behind this.