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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Throwing of the Holiday Eggs

Superconductor lists The Worst of 2013.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
This year's gala for The Human Fund has been cancelled due to flying eggs.
Photoshop by the author.
This is the first installment in the blog's year-end wrap-up designed to keep you all entertained and well-read as you're stuffing yourselves at your Yuletide parties. As we do every year at Festivus, it's time to air the grievances. Superconductor lists the crappiest things to happen in the year of 2013. From the unnecessary death of the New York City Opera to the orphan status of one of New York's most important orchestras, it's all here. There's probably more to add to this list, but that thought is just too depressing.

The Minnesota Orchestra Lockout
The only problem on this list that will continue into 2014, as the Minnesota Orchestra Association continues its pyrrhic lockout of the musicians. The camel's back broke when music director Osmo Vänska resigned, and the ensemble cancelled its 2013 appearances to play a cycle of Sibelius symphonies at Carnegie Hall. Meanwhile the remaining orchestra musicians have started staging independent concert series in the Twin Cities.

The Death of New York City Opera
Citing an inability to pay its debts with its dwindling endowment, the company filed for bankruptcy Oct. 1 following a four performance run of Mark Anthony Turnage's Anna Nicole. The remaining 2013-14 schedule was quickly cancelled. This is a horrible way for a once-celebrated opera company to mark the end of its seventh decade.

The Silencing of the Brooklyn Philharmonic
Following a stellar performance at BAM featuring Erykah Badu, almost nothing has been heard from the Brooklyn Philharmonic in 2013. There's no concert schedule planned, no home venue, and no further plans to renew the contract of music director Alan Pierson. As a famous playwright said, "the rest is silence."

Wendy White v. The Metropolitan Opera.
In August of this year, mezzo-soprano Wendy White filed suit against the Metropolitan Opera, two years after suffering a fall in Act III of the company's ill-starred Dez McAnuff production of Faust. The suit alleges that opera company had refused to pay medical expenses and compensation for lost performances. The singer had enjoyed a 20-year career at the Met with over 500 performances under her belt.

The Richard Dare Scandal
This one happened early in the year. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra board of directors discovered that their newly elected president Richard Dare had been charged with an "attempted lewd act" with a 16-year-old girl in his past. Mr. Dare had previously served as chief executive with the Brooklyn Philharmonic, in the period when that financially strapped orchestra had moved out of its longtime home at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Carnegie Hall Strikes on Opening Night
Carnegie Hall's current spate of renovations and the planned opening of more space for education and functions onthe upper floors of the biulding did not sit well with the venue's stagehands, who struck just in time for the opening of the 2013-14 season. The strike cancelled this year's opening concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Stuck in Philly, the ensemble responded by playing a free concert at Verizon Hall. The gala dinner at the Waldorf Astoria went ahead as scheduled.

The Sale of EMI Classics...again
Troubled EMI changed hands again this year, as it was sold by Universal Music Group (owners of DG and Decca) to the Warner Music Group to satisfy the requirements of European regulators. As a result, many EMI recordings will get reissued under Warner and Erato in the next decade, creating great confusion for music collectors. The slow death by consolidation of the once-mighty record labels continues.

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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.