News of the Classical World January 2-6

A collection of classical news stories for the week of January 2nd, 2012

January 2nd, 2012

Sir Roger Norrington performs classics the old way

British conductor Sir Roger Norrington suggests that orchestras perform pieces as closely to the original performances as possible. While visiting Canada, he walked the Royal Conservatory Orchestra through Brahm’s First Sympony.

Then he stopped and addressed the players: “It sounds glorious, doesn’t it? But it isn’t what Brahms had in mind.’” And with those words he picked up his baton and directed the players to start again.

Only this time, he had the strings play without vibrato (making the pitch fluctuate marginally through pressure from the fingers of the left hand on the strings), and the whole orchestra play at a considerably faster tempo. The character of the music suddenly changed.

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January 3rd, 2012

Isreal Philharmonic joins suit against collector accused of stealing historic documents

The Isreal Philharmonic Orchestra has joined a suit filed by the National Library against collector Meir Biezunski who allegedly stole hundreds of documents from their archives.

The affair began in 2008, when a collector alerted the National Library that a manuscript by the Swiss composer Arthur Honegger he had bought from Biezunski clearly belonged to the library.
The library filed a police complaint, saying Biezunski stole hundreds of extremely valuable documents from its archives. In a raid on his home, police found hundreds of items allegedly stolen from the library, the IPO, the JNF and the state archives.


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January 4th, 2012

For Better Grades, Try Bach in the Background

A recent study found students that heard classical music during a lecture outperformed their peers when tested.

For one group, the lecture was accompanied by a series of familiar classical pieces, including excerpts from Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and Bach’s Third Brandenburg Concerto. The other group heard the lecture with no background music.
Within 15 minutes of hearing the lecture, all the students took a multiple-choice quiz featuring questions based on the lecture material. The results: the students who heard the music-enhanced lecture scored significantly higher on the quiz than those who heard the music-free version.
(Mille McCune)

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January 5th, 2012

Rob Ford: First the ballet, now the opera?

Rob Ford with puppet

Michael Patrick Albano, the University of Toronto’s resident stage director, has created an absurdist Opera in which Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, is the title character.

The “wonderful veneer of silliness,” Albano said, allows Rob Ford: The Opera to entertainingly explore serious issues. But he vowed that “this is not a piece about trashing Rob Ford.”

“I don’t know him,” he said. “It’s a piece about examining the strong reaction people have to him.” That reaction, he said, makes Ford a natural operatic figure.

“He’s kind of bigger than life. And he generates an awful lot of energy around him from things that he does. So he’s a very interesting catalyst,” he said.
(Toronto Star)

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