News of the Classical World December 7-10, 2011

December 7, 2011

‘Treemonisha’ as It Was Intended To Be

Scott Joplin’s 1910 opera “Treemoisha” has been recorded and released by New World Records. Placing the work in a more accurate ragtime context was a major focus on this recording.

The first thing listeners to this splendid new “Treemonisha” will note is its intimacy. Instead of grandiose voices and opera-scale orchestrations, this recording features lighter voices accompanied by the lighter orchestral textures of authentic ragtime instrumentation, based on the so-called “Eleven and Piano” ensemble. Consisting of flute (also doubling as piccolo), clarinet, two cornets, trombone, drums, piano, two violins, viola, cello, and double bass, with one instrument to a part, this nimble combination was the standard instrumental makeup of theater, minstrel-show and vaudeville orchestras from the 1870s to the 1920s. It was also the basis of early recording orchestras before the invention of the recording microphone.
(The Wall Street Journal)

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December 8, 2011

DSO ends strike-plagued year with $1.8-million deficit

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra announced audited year-end results at today’s annual meeting of members.

DSO executive vice president Paul Hogle said it was a miracle that the deficit wasn’t as high as $5 million or more considering the extraordinary tumult associated with the strike and that the DSO sold just $1.4 million worth of tickets compared to $7.2 million for the 2009-10 season.
(Detroit Free Press)

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December 9, 2011

Scrapheap Orchestra: the wheelie-bin overture

It may look like garbage to you but to the BBC’s Concert Orchestra conductor Charles Hazlewood, that piece of scrap metal may be just the thing he needs to finish his rubbish trombone. The Scrapheap Orchestra is an orchestra whose instruments are made entirely of scrap materials. A documentary about the process of creating these instruments as well as their performance will be airing on BBC4.

The instrument makers have their pride, too. Surrounded by car bonnets, an old river buoy and a cement mixer, percussion designer Paul Jefferies was fiddling with an sheet of x-ray film that now formed the head of a tambourine: “I mean, Charlie and the players are prima donnas,” he said. “They don’t want to embarrass themselves, although they’re really going along with it. The makers may be more artisans than artists, but we don’t want the instruments to sound awful.”
(The Gaurdian)

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