16 Stories

Extracurricular Club for Disabled Now a World-Renowned Orchestra

Czech Republic's Tap Tap group, which started 18 years ago, plays all over the world

(Newser) - It's an unusual orchestra, one that has played in London, Madrid, Moscow, and Jerusalem. Today, Tap Tap, created 18 years ago to give students at a renowned Prague school for the disabled an extracurricular activity, has become a major musical operation that has drawn millions of fans, first at... More »

After 71 Years With Orchestra, She Fatally Collapses on Stage

Bassist Jane Little of the Atlanta Symphony was 87

(Newser) - Jane Little began playing with the brand-new Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at age 16. On Sunday, 71 years later, she died after collapsing on stage during a performance with the same group, reports CNN . "Truly unbelievable," says a spokesperson for the ASO. The 87-year-old bassist never regained consciousness after... More »

Vienna Philharmonic Was Packed With Nazis in WWII

Investigation reveals details 75 years later

(Newser) - Following accusations that it's kept quiet about its Nazi ties, the Vienna Philharmonic opened itself to a historical investigation. And ahead of tomorrow's 75th anniversary of Austria's Nazi annexation, the results are coming to light: Some 60 of 123 orchestra members belonged to the Nazi party, the... More »

Yes, Orchestra Conductors Make a Difference

Infrared lights on a baton help prove it: Study

(Newser) - Skeptics might think orchestra conductors are superfluous as they stand front and center waving their batons, but a new study suggests otherwise. In fact, the University of Maryland research concludes that the more forceful a conductor is, the better the music, reports NPR . Researchers put infrared lights on a conductor'... More »

Philly Orchestra Files for Backruptcy

Board cites large decline in audience, but musicians say move premature

(Newser) - The 111-year-old Philadelphia Orchestra is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing a "tremendous decline" in audiences. The orchestra, made internationally famous by such great conductors as Stokowski and Ormandy, has $46 million in operating costs this year, but is expecting just $33 million in revenues, reports the AP... More »

Outcry Kills Plans for Wagner, Israel Reconciliation

Composer's great-granddaughter calls off Israel trip

(Newser) - The great-granddaughter of Hitler's favorite composer has called off a visit to Israel amid a public outcry. Katharina Wagner had planned to announce that the Israel Chamber Orchestra would be invited to play at an annual festival in Germany celebrating Richard Wagner's music. Israeli orchestras have been boycotting the anti-Semitic... More »

Music Pioneer Mitch Miller Dead at 99

Record exec went on to host karaoke precursor 'Sing Along With Mitch'

(Newser) - Mitch Miller, the goateed orchestra leader who asked Americans to "Sing Along With Mitch" on television and records, died Saturday at age 99. Miller was a key exec at Columbia Records in the pre-rock 'n' roll era, making hits with singers Rosemary Clooney, Patti Page, Johnny Mathis, and Tony... More »

LA Shows the Love to 28-Year-Old Maestro

Gustavo Dudamel takes up baton at leading American orchestra

(Newser) - The Los Angeles Philharmonic greeted its new music director yesterday with waves, cheers, and bursts of brass and strings, and cameras tailed the new boss as he hugged his principal musicians. It wasn't a standard first day, but Gustavo Dudamel of Venezuela isn't a standard maestro—he's only 28 years... More »

Maestro Wages May Sink US Orchestras

(Newser) - Overpaid maestros had better accept slimmer paychecks before America's great orchestras sink into silence, John von Rhein writes in the Chicago Tribune. With the Great Recession raging and musicians accepting pay cuts, big-name conductors like Lorin Maazel and James Levine still rake in millions. Welcome to "the dirty little... More »

YouTube Orchestra Makes Strong, if Not Subtle, Debut

Symphony orchestra was selected by YouTube viewers voting on clips

(Newser) - YouTube's "crowdsourced" symphony orchestra made its debut at Carnegie Hall last night. Its 90-plus members played like "a finely tuned instrument," a BBC reviewer found, despite the fact that they had only met in person a couple of days earlier. The musicians, from 30 countries, were picked... More »

YouTube Musicians on Their Way to Carnegie Hall

Viewers vote 90 players onto orchestra

(Newser) - Even Internet boosters who predicted that the Web would democratize everything probably weren’t including classical music. The first YouTube Symphony Orchestra has completed auditions, and is set to perform April 15, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Ninety musicians—ages 17 through 55—from some 30 countries were voted onto... More »

Chinese Virtuoso Conducts Assault on Glass Ceiling

Classical superstar Xian Zhang is young, energetic—and a woman

(Newser) - In the traditional world of classical music, no area has been less hospitable to women than the conductor’s platform. So it’s remarkable that one of the world’s hottest maestros is not just a woman, but a 35-year-old from China—Xian Zhang, associate conductor at the New York... More »

Robo-Maestro Takes Baton

Honda robot manages to wow Detroit audience despite limitations

(Newser) - It was classical music, but when the Detroit Symphony Orchestra hit its final note last night, it sounded an awful lot like the future. Honda’s Asimo robot led a real, live, human orchestra, and though the android was only repeating the recorded movements of a human, the performance went... More »

Shhh! Europe Law Forces Orchestras to Tone It Down

Noise legislation means musicians are playing musical chairs, the real game

(Newser) - A new law in Europe to protect employees from ear-damaging noises is stifling a surprise industry—orchestras. Conductors are taking it down a notch to comply, in one case canceling a world premiere because it exceeded the allowable decibels in rehearsal, the New York Times reports. At the Royal Opera... More »

Pavarotti Lipsynched Last Performance

Late tenor too sick to sing live at Turin Olympics opening ceremony

(Newser) - Lipsynching isn't just for neophytes like Nikki Hilton—none other than tenor Luciano Pavarotti faked his way through his final public performance at the opening of the Turin Winter Olympics, the Guardian reports. In a new book, Pavarotti's conductor and pianist claims that he recorded the cancer-stricken tenor and the... More »

Dudamel Dazzles in LA Debut

Venezuelan conductor kicks off new job

(Newser) - Gustavo Dudamel lived up to all the hype last Friday, when he conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the first time since Esa-Pekka Salonen announced that the 27-year old maestro would be replacing him as the orchestra's music director in 2009.  Dudamel paid homage to Salonen by opening with... More »

16 Stories