All posts by dlee

That was the Springfield Elementary School Orchestra, Mr. Largo conducting

I may not line up for the very first screening tomorrow, but I fully expect to go see The Simpsons Movie before the weekend is out.

Is it safe to make that confession among classical music lovers?

I should hope so. I have evidence that there are classical fans on The Simpsons writing staff. Consider these lines from the episode that originally aired Feb. 8, 1998:

Homer: Just think. I turned to a cult for mindless happiness when I had beer all along.

Marge: Hmmm!

Homer: And you, Marge! The bringer of beer!

Why buy the cow if the milk is free?

Of course I’m biased, but the news that radio negatively affects record sales just doesn’t make sense.

Yes, it’s true that if you’ve got a radio you don’t need to buy records in order to hear music. But I’d argue that unless you have a radio you’re much less likely to want to buy records.

I have a feeling that radio creates the biggest share of the market for recordings. When I buy a CD it’s most often because I’ve already heard the music or the particular performance, usually on the radio, and I like it so well that I want to listen to it whenever I choose.

While we wait for experts to weigh in on the validity of this research, how about some anecdotal evidence: Does radio encourage or discourage your record buying?

The closing movement

On our baseball blog, Bleacher Bums, Steve Rudolph comments on the music stadium sound operators choose to introduce certain relief pitchers. It’s often heavy metal. Steve links to a writer on who poses an alternative: why not Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”?

Amen to that, I say.

The discussion also makes me think of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” from Grieg’s Peer Gynt.

Why? Well, at the old Met Stadium they used it in the mid-60s to introduce Twins center fielder Jimmie Hall. While we’re at it, let’s bring back those clever stadium organists.

SPCO musicians affirm new management model

The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and its musicians have reached a new five-year contract agreement that adds six weeks to the orchestra’s concert schedule. For the first time since 1993, the SPCO will have a 40-week season.

“The ability to negotiate a return to a 40-week contract was important for the musicians in terms of providing continuous employment between Labor Day and Memorial Day, and for the organization to be able to have six more weeks of performances to be able to present to the community,” President Bruce Coppock tells MPR’s Chris Roberts.

The orchestra plans to expand its neighborhood concert series.

In the new contract, musicians also granted broader rights to use SPCO concert recordings on the air and on the Web–“a vast array of formats,” says Coppock, who describes the new deal as “a truly modern media agreement, which should allow us to do a lot of very creative things.”

In previous contracts, Coppock says, the orchestra’s recording rights were much more limited. The new one covers approximately 35 years of orchestra performances.

Overall Coppock views the new agreement as affirmation of the SPCO’s three-year-old management model, which gives musicians a larger stake in the orchestra’s decision-making process.

What's in a name change?

More news coming out of the American Symphony Orchestra League’s annual conference: the organization has a new name. As of this fall, it’ll be known as the League of American Orchestras.

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra board chair Lowell Noteboom, who holds a similar position with the league, is quoted in the statement. He and others suggest several reasons for the name change but they avoid the one that Musical America puts in the first line of its story: the old name has “an unfortunate acronym.”

For orchestra biz insiders, it’s a welcome change. They use the league’s name a lot and the old one begged for shorthand. The new moniker is still a mouthful, but there’s a certain music to LOA.

Orchestral adventure in Minneapolis and Sioux Falls

The Minnesota Orchestra and the South Dakota Symphony were honored for their programming efforts at the annual American Symphony Orchestra League conference. Each year at the gathering, ASCAP–the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers–recognizes orchestras for their “adventurous programming” in various categories.

For the third year in a row, the Minnesota Orchestra earned the Leonard Bernstein Award for Educational Programming.

For Programming of Contemporary Music, the South Dakota Symphony took third place among orchestras with operating expenses between $470,000 and $1.8 million. Last year it placed second.

The full list is here.