NEWS: Petranko replaces Mirga tomorrow

If you’re planning to go to Hollywood Bowl tomorrow to see Mirga Grazinyte-Tyra conduct, be advised that she has cancelled due to illness. Vasily Petrenko, who had already to conduct Thursday, will sub for Mirga. The program remains the same, including the Bowl debut of 24-year old Italian pianist Beatrice Rana as soloist in Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

NEWS: New West Symphony names three finalists for music director position

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

The Thousand Oaks-based New West Symphony has named three finalists for its vacant music director position and concurrently filled out most of its 2017-2018 season. Two of the finalists will lead programs in the upcoming season at the orchestra’s three homes: Thousand Oaks, Oxnard and Santa Monica. The other candidate will lead the opening concert of the 2018-2019 season.

The winner will replace Marcello Lehninger, who left last year to become music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony in Michigan. The GRS was led for nearly two decades by David Lockington, who left there to become the Pasadena Symphony music director — yep, the wheels of the car go round and round …

The three conducting finalists are:
Tania Miller, who last season celebrated her 14th season as music director of the Victoria Symphony in British Columbia. Miller, who will turn 48 next month, is the oldest of the candidates and the only woman finalist.

Miller, who led the first NWS concert last season, will conduct the final concert in the 2017-2018 schedule on May 12 and 13. Her program will include Wagner’s Tannhauser Overture, Kodály’s Dances of Galánta, along with Liszt’s Totentaz and his Piano Concerto No. 1. 2009 Van Cliburn International Competition gold medalist, Haochen Zang, will be the soloist in the Liszt works.

Kynan Johns, who will lead programs on January 25, 27 and 28. The concerts will conclude with a warhorse, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (Pathetique), but the program will also include a world premiere by Bruce Boughton written for the Lyris Quartet, which was founded by New West Symphony Concertmaster Alyssa Park. Johns is the only one of the three without a current music director position.

Fawzi Haimor, recently named music director of Württenbergische Philharmonic Reutlingen in Germany. His start date there is in September, which probably pushed his NWS “audition” concert back to the 2018-2019 season opener. Haimor, 34,was formerly resident conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Chicago Tribune columnist/critic John Von Rhein notes: “The Chicago-born conductor Fawzi Haimor, whose father is Jordanian-Lebanese and whose mother is from the Philippines, sees it as his duty to promote the work of Muslim and Arabic composers. One of the very few Muslim conductors pursuing an international career, he also has made it part of his mission to encourage younger musicians of similar ethnic and religious background to take up the baton.”

New West Symphony season:
In addition to the concerts led by Miller and Johns, the season includes:
Season Opener
The October 6, 7 and 8 concerts will feature Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 combined with music from Argentina and Spain. Grant Cooper, who annually leads the Pasadena Symphony’s Holiday concerts, will conduct this program. Flamenco dancer Siudy Garrido will perform the ballet El Amor Brujo by Manuel de Falla as part of the program.

Mauceri and Bernstein’s 100th
Mauceri, the former music director of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, returns to Southern California November 18 and 19 for a program that includes selections from On the Town, West Side Story, Candide and other Bernstein works. One hopes that he will include his special raconteur moments.

Zuckerman and Forsyth
Pinchas Zukerman, who in addition to being a superb violinist and violist, has been increasing his conducting gigs during the past decade. With the NWS, he will appear as both soloist and conductor on March 9, 10 and 11. His program, which concludes with Schubert’s Symphony No. 5, opens with Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin and Cello in B-flag Major, with Amanda Forsyth playing the cello part. Forsyth is a founding member of the Zukerman ChamberPlayers.

Classical Vienna
A guest conductor not one of the finalists, Andrew Grams, will lead a program of Viennese music on April 14 and 15, which will include Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat Major, with Till Fellner as the soloist.

All of the NWS concerts play at the Thousand Oaks Performing Arts Center and at the Oxnard PAC. At least three of the programs also play in a Santa Monica venue not yet named (last year it was The Broad Stage).

Information: www.newwestsymphony.org
_______________________

(c) Copyright 2017, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

COMMENTARY: Paying the cost of real news

By Robert D. Thomas
Music Critic
Southern California News Group

How much can — or should — a reader afford to pay to access real news? That is becoming an increasing — and serious — question in an era of “fake news” for those of us who like to read traditional newspapers from out of their area and other quality publications online.

Tim Page, former music critic at the Washington Post and now Professor of Journalism and Music at University of Southern California, and I had an interesting exchange on Facebook awhile back. He posted a review from the New York Review of Books regarding two books about pianist Van Cliburn. Before Tim changed links, halfway through the review readers got a notice that said if we wanted to continue reading we would have to pay $4.99 (Tim subsequently posted a different link that took the story from behind what’s known in the media business as a paywall).

Many papers (probably including mine — I’m not sure because I subscribe to the Pasadena Star-News) — use this policy. A few offer you a small number of “free” reads and then ask you to pay. Some don’t even do that.

For years, to cite one example, I used to enjoy Martin Bernheimer’s reviews in the Financial Times of London but it’s the only reason I read the FT. The FT used to allow a small number of free reads each month. However, about a year ago I learned that if I wanted to click on any of the reviews of Bernheimer (a former Pulitzer Prize-winning former music critic of the Los Angeles Times, for those who don’t know the name), I would have to pay $4.79 per week for the privilege (the FT does offer an “introductory of $1.00 per week but it’s only good for four weeks).

Likewise the Washington Post: In this case I read E.J. Dionne, who posts twice a week, and Anne Midgette, the Post’s classical music critic, who also posts a couple of times a week. After a history of being allowed to read those folks for free, the Post now wants me to pay $99 per year for the privilege, along with anything else in the Post I find interesting and/or important.

The problem is one of economics — mine. My wife and I subscribe to three daily newspapers — the L.A. Times, Pasadena Star-News and New York Times — two monthly magazines and one weekly. We pay about $30 per month for all six publications (the NYY is an electronic subscription). That’s at the limit of our budget; we may, in fact, begin to cut back as rising costs of living invade our senior income. Is it worth it to add the Post for $8.50 a month for what amounts to 30 posts a month? I finally deciced — reluctantly — yes, but I’m going to keep track of my posts during the year.

Neither type of media policy — totally free or significant monthly subscriptions allowing me to read one person’s columns (which in the case of Martin Bernheimer averages about three per week, max) — makes any logical sense. Yes, there are expenses involved with newspapers maintaining Web sites, although papers assiduously track what are known as “clicks” or “hits” to persuade advertisers but for which readers receive no remuneration.

All of this got me thinking about a series of Blog posts I wrote in 2010 on this subject. The suggestion I made is just as logical to me today as it was back in 2010.

A major problem for many online readers is that they don’t want the entire newspaper, especially ones that are from out of town. That’s a blessing and a curse. As I noted, my wife and I subscribe to the print editions of the Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. Reading through these two papers give us a breadth of local knowledge that we can’t get easily through the online edition. That lack of overall knowledge is one of the downsides of getting all your news online or solely by other electronic means. However, it’s less of an issue for out-of-town publications.

On the other hand, most of the Blogs/columns/reviews that I read are written for two specific purposes: classical music and golf. For example, I used to log onto Jeremy Eichler, music critic of the Boston Globe, but I have no interest in reading the rest of the Globe. The Globe’s paywall policy means I no longer read Jeremy’s writings.

There are some exceptions and a few publications are doing an excellent job of melding the two media. I read dozens of columns in the online edition of Sports Illustrated but wouldn’t think of cancelling the print edition (the online version is part of my print subscription). For one thing, there are different stories in both, although that difference is narrowing. For another, SI’s still photography is reason enough to subscribe.

Few print newspapers that I read do a good job of referring people to their online editions (and vice-versa), which is odd when you consider that there are many items can be run online for which there is no space in the printed paper.

I think we need to find ways for readers to get online content while, at the same time, providing income to the media sites and, equally important, to the people who actually create the posts themselves.

The sheer scale of hits on the internet (several billion a day, according to one study) makes economies of scale possible, but should also provide a financial incentive for one of the national newspaper associations to get involved by setting up a financial clearinghouse (this seems like a great use for dues the media outlets pay to the association). Here’s how it might work:

A reader logs onto an online site for free and sees a headline and one- or two-sentence blur/description of the article (this is typical of media Web sites today). If you subscribe to the paper (either to its print or online edition), there’s no additional cost to read the articles.

If you don’t subscribe and want to read the entire article, you pay a nickel. Two cents goes to the publishers’ association (a portion of that will be used to offset the charges from the reader’s credit card company, Apple Pay or someplace like that to bill the customer). One cent goes to the publication or other entity hosting the Web site. Two cents goes for the article’s author.

For the reader who reads 10 posts every day (a large number in my opinion — I look at more sites than that but don’t actually read that many stories each day) the total adds up to about $15 a month. For the reader who wants to read quality news, that’s a doable figure. Multiply that number by several billion and everyone gets a piece of a large pie. Moreover, if I decide that I’m reading a site regularly and for more than classical music that “teaser” might encourage me to become a subscriber to the publication.

The most important thing is that publications would gain a monetary incentive to take online readers more seriously, even those in supposedly marginal genres such as classical music. That’s a bottom line to which we can all subscribe.

Your suggestions for alternate concept are encouraged; use the comment box below.
________________________

(c) Copyright 2017, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email

NEWS: Call it “the Soraya”

Following a $17 million donation from Younes and Soraya Nazarian to the Valley Performing Arts Center on the Cal State Northridge campus, the center — which hosts a number of concerts annually including classical music — will be renamed the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts or “the Soraya” for short.

Wonder if they’re going to change its Web site URL.

Read Jeffrey Fleischman’s article in the Los Angeles Times HERE.

Read Dana Bartholomew’s story in the Daily News HERE.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Pinterest Reddit Tumblr Email