1. Classical Music On-Line Social Networks:
An article in the Washington Post discusses some of the on-line social networks focused on classical music that are cropping up with increasing frequency. Recent examples include:
- The San Francisco Symphony has created its own on-line social network, called “Social Network,” on which fans can post photos and videos and interact with one another on topics of interest (presumably relating to the Symphony and its activities. The site lists 462 members (as of June 1).
- The Miro Quartet started Classical Lounge, which appears to have a few hundred members;
- Artist Nation, for performing artists, includes a lot of PR-type profiles;
- Dilettante Music got some press when it started a few months ago, but the largest group on its site so far has all of 15 members.
- Then there’s Classical Music Now (178 members) and Classical Connection (105 registered users).
- According to the Post, “A lot of these initiatives from orchestras, opera houses, and other institutions are launched with a vague idea that having a social networking site (or a Facebook fan page, or a Twitter account) makes them cool and hip; but they don't really know what they want to do with it after it's there. It will be interesting to see what the SFS has in mind with this, and whether they can actually use it to create and sustain conversations among its members. At least the site starts out with a built-in user pool: the members of the orchestra.”
2. Social Media Networks Are Music's Curse and Salvation
Technology entrepreneur Pierre Schwob thinks Bach and Beethoven haven't been given their due in the digital age. Classical fans are increasingly downloading their recordings, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. While CDs remain the media of choice for classical listeners, digital downloads have increased from 12% of the 3.4 million classical-recording pie to 20% in the last year. There are now three websites that offer digital downloads and specialize in classical recordings. Arkiv Music introduced digital downloads in January; according to President Eric Feidner, they have proven far more popular than anticipated. Naxos has its own digital store in ClassicsOnline.com, offering 27,000 recordings in the MP3 format. And a new company, Classical Archives, is slated to launch May 19, offering the digital catalogs of "some 100 record labels."
Of course, iTunes also offers classical downloads, but since the site is geared toward the pop market, specific works by specific composers are often difficult to find. "Classical music came late to the digital-music revolution," reports the Journal, "but the genre is poised to play catch-up as a crop of specialty music sellers jockey to meet the demands of core listeners."
3. Naxos and InstantEncore.com Form Partnership
The record label Naxos and the online classical-music site InstantEncore.com have announced a multi-phase partnership. Beginning in early May, the Naxos catalog of more than 5,000 recordings will be streamed at InstantEncore. The music is being offered free to concertgoers as a feature called “Listen Before the Concert,” which is meant to be used by classical-music presenters as a community-engagement tool. Simon Crookall, president of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, praised the “Listen Before the Concert” feature for allowing “participating ensembles to offer a preview of their upcoming performance.” A future phase of the partnership between Naxos and InstantEncore will involve creating “press-on-demand” record labels and digital-distribution opportunities. InstantEncore.com aims to use the internet to increase audience attendance, engage small donors, promote corporate sponsors, and connect with classical-music lovers.
4. New Company To Broadcast Live Events Through Private Television Network
A new company called Specticast has announced that it will broadcast live, professionally-directed and produced, orchestral and other cultural events to Multi-Viewer VenuesTM (e.g. nursing homes and assisted living centers) throughout the Philadelphia region and other markets using a proprietary digital video technology. These live events offer remote viewing to individuals unable or unwilling to go to the concert hall or auditorium, and provide a different life experience through close-ups, interviews and amplification.
Specticast’s initial content partner will be the Philadelphia Orchestra, with whom on June 5 it will broadcast a live performance featuring Charles Dutoit conducting Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances to a limited number of venues throughout the country to showcase this new “life enrichment” concept.
5. Sony Agrees to Provide Its Older Songs to eMusic
Sony Music Entertainment has agreed to make its back catalog of songs available on eMusic, which has some 400,000 subscribers who pay a monthly fee to download a certain number of songs. Its service is primarily aimed at adults who are fans of music from independent labels.
The company will add all Sony Music tracks that are more than two years old, including material from artists like Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. Until now, the major record labels had been resistant to the economics behind eMusic’s proposition to consumers. Subscribers to eMusic’s “basic” plan pay $11.99 a month to download 30 songs — or about 40 cents a song, far below the prices on Apple’s iTunes. Songs are in the MP3 format and do not have restrictions against copying. As part of the deal, eMusic says it will slightly raise prices and reduce the number of downloads for some of its monthly plans.
6. Van Cliburn Competition To Webcast Events
From May 22 through June 7, 2009 The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition will webcast live on its website (www.cliburn.tv) all performances, rehearsals, symposia, interviews and numerous other features 11 hours a day for 17 consecutive days. (If you don't have Silverlight downloaded on your computer you will need to download it to use the video player, but it only takes 30 seconds for the free download.)
The webcast will be live 11 hours during each of the 17 days of the competition. Besides all performances being streamed in their entirety, all rehearsals will be streamed live. These include the meeting of each finalist with the conductor, James Conlon and the rehearsals with orchestra, as well as the rehearsal of all semifinalists with the Takacs Quartet. During all performances of the concerti in the Final Round, viewers will have the option to view a commentary appearing on the bottom of the screen. Approximately 30 cues per concerto will help inform the viewer about what is happening musically and what to listen for.
During each performance the viewer will have the competitors' bios and programs appear on the screen. A link will guide them to brief program notes hosted on our website. Each pianist will also have posted a three minute video portrait.
All performances will be immediately encoded for viewing on demand. This will be especially important for viewing in Europe and Asia where time differences will make live viewing impractical.
The audience will be able to vote after each round and see the results of how everyone else has voted. Other elements will include interviews with members of the audience, backstage webcams to view the crew, piano tuners, etc., airing of past documentaries, and so forth.
7. Opera in Cyberspace, 3D and on the Airwaves
If live opera on television, radio and movie theaters is by now old hat, live opera on the internet is still relatively rare. But that, too, is changing. As Robert Wilson’s new production of "Der Freischütz" is televised live from Baden-Baden’s Festspielhaus on June 1, it will also be streamed on arte.tv, free of charge, starting at 1 p.m. EST, 7 p.m. ECT. The opera, part of the 2009 Whitsun Festival, features Juliane Banse, Julia Kleiter, Klaus Kuttler, Steve Davislim and Reinhard Dorn. Thomas Hengelbrock conducts the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Vienna Philharmonic Choir.
On July 3, the Opéra National de Lyon broadcasts Klaus Michael Grüber’s new staging of “La Traviata” live on outdoor screens in seven different locations, including a freeway rest stop, as well as on television and on www.opera-lyon.com at 8 p.m. CET. The website currently features a brief preview of the company’s current "Death in Venice," by Benjamin Britten, which Le Monde's reviewer called "un moment de perfection lyrique."
Achim Freyer's staging of "Don Giovanni" at Opéra de Renne in the northwest of France hits the airwaves tomorrow via the Mezzo network, available in 39 countries, as well as on theater screens and cafés. A second transmission, available only in Rennes City Hall and selected Paris theaters, is planned for 3D transmission with a new high-end system called HOA (High Order Ambisonics), "For the spectators, it is like being in the hall," according to Jean-Philippe Vandot, leading the team from France Télécom-Orange.
Although viewable in a mere two dimensions, Opéra-Comique’s "Carmen" will be in several theaters around France on June 25. John Eliot Gardiner conducts his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and the Monteverdi Choir in the house where the opera premiered. Staged by Adrain Noble, the former director of the Royal Shakespeare Festival, it stars Anna Caterina Antonacci in the title role with the young American tenor Andrew Richards as Don José
http://www.musicalamerica.com/news/newsstory.cfm?archived=0&storyID=20609&categoryID=1 (subscription required)