ASIMO Conducts

Honda’s ASIMO robot adds conductor to it’s resume next month, when it conducts the Detroit Symphony Orchestra with renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Honda hopes ASIMO’s appearance will draw attention to the DSO’s youth music programs, as well as Honda’s $1 million gift to create The Power of Dreams Music Education Fund.

Honda is also hoping that when Asimo steps up to the podium, it won’t fall on it’s cyber-kiester, as it did in this unfortunate demonstration!

"The St. Paul Model"

A story in the most recent Minnesota Monthly explains why the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s change in its approach to management is so different from other orchestras–and so successful.

“There’s something about the traditional orchestral environment that makes musicians forget why they got into music in the first place,” [SPCO president Bruce Coppock] says… And if the musicians aren’t uplifted, Coppock reasoned, patrons probably aren’t either–or giving to their full capacity.

The new management structure is now known as “the St. Paul model” among other orchestras. See the whole article here.

New York Times Loves Minnesota Orchestra

Excellent New York Times review of the Minnesota Orchestra at Lincoln Center.

“The Minnesota Orchestra wisely snapped him up, appointing him music director in 2003, and although it has always been a fine ensemble, it sounded more brightly polished and supercharged than ever when it played under Mr. Vanska’s baton at Avery Fisher Hall on Sunday afternoon. Exactly how Mr. Vanska gets such a magnificent sound, with extremes of both brilliance and refinement, is a mystery…. the music making was extraordinary.”

Read the whole thing here.

Symphony in 3 Mullets

With John Birge having been on vacation, there’s been a dearth of silly classical music videos on the ol’ blog.

And so I present…The 3 Redneck Tenors, with their rendition of Beethoven’s 5th.

Truth in advertising: I’m not convinced that the mullets are genuine, and it seems pretty clear that they are not all tenors…but you gotta have a gimmick, and they certainly are entertaining.

And the winner is…nobody.

If one enters a prestigious music competition and doesn’t win, one can usually console oneself with the “worthy rival” theory: “I did really well–it’s just that someone else did even better.”

Not so for those who entered the 2008 Richard Tucker Award competition. The award, established in honor of the late tenor and carrying a cash prize of $30,000, is given to “an American singer poised on the edge of a major national and international career.” But this year, the jury didn’t feel like it had heard such a singer, I guess–so no award was given.

Not everyone went home empty-handed, though. Six promising singers were awarded either a $10,000 Richard Tucker Career Grant or a $5000 Sara Tucker Study Grant.

Find out more about the Richard Tucker Awards here.

Let Richard Tucker himself break your heart here.

What Do We Want? A Radio Orchestra! When Do We Want It? Now!

As the kind of person who wishes that riots still broke out occasionally at classical music concerts, I was thrilled to see music-lovers in Vancouver take to the streets last week in support of the soon-to-be-disbanded CBC Radio Orchestra.

For more on the decision to disband (dis-orchestra?) the last surviving radio orchestra in North America, see this article.

What do you think, is it time for the Minnesota Public Radio Symphony?