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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 © 2018 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Worst (Wurst?) of 2015

Bad things that happened in the year that was.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
We've done this as throwing of the eggs. Here it's sausage. Part of a complete breakfast.
This is the time between concert reviews where we wrap up the very strange year that was 2015. Let's open with the lowlights of the year and then we'll get on to the best-of's. So without further ado here are the worst things that happened in the classical music and opera sphere in 2015. No particular order.

Alan Gilbert stepped down.
The security and near future of the New York Philharmonic was shaken when music director and favorite son Alan Gilbert announced that next season would be his last go-round as the orchestra's music director. His decision leaves the Philharmonic scrambling for a replacement and us writers scrambling for nuggets of information as to who will guide America's oldest orchestra through its planned two-year absence from Lincoln Center as David Geffen Hall undergoes a total rebuild and renovation.

Gotham Chamber Opera folded.
It hit the opera world as a shock. The Gotham Chamber Opera, an innovative company responsible for pioneering the idea of opera in unusual locations (the Hayden Planetarium, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a Lower East Side burlesque club) closed its doors this year, announcing that its deficits made the opera company impossible to operate. Gotham is the second New York opera conpany to close this decade, following the decline and final fall of New York City Opera in 2013.

Kurt Masur died.
The German conductor succumbed in December from complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 88. Credited with refining and tightening the New York Philharmonic in his 12 years as music director, Mr. Masur had an international reputation built in the course of a forty-year career. Considered one of the toughest old-school maestros, he became the second recent music director of the Philharmonic to pass away, the other being Lorin Maazel who died in 2014.

A power struggle shook Carnegie Hall.
The Hall that Music Built found itself shaken when a conflict erupted this summer between executive director Clive Gillinson and new chairman of the board Ronald O. Perelman. Mr. Perelman, whose name is attached to the main stage in Stern Auditorium, attempted to oust Mr. Gillinson. The executive director was suspended for 24 hours and then reinstated the next day. Mr. Perelman then vacated his position and was replaced by Mercedes T. Bass as acting chair. A search for a permanent replacement is onging.

James Levine cancelled at the Met.
There's no doubt that this year's production of Lulu at the Metropolitan Opera was one of the highlights of a mostly moribund 2015 season. However, it happened without James Levine. The veteran music director decided to withdraw from the production in order to concentrate on a run of Tannhäuser that he was leading in October. Lulu and the music of Alban Berg is one of Mr. Levine's specialties, and the cancellation

So that's the worst of it. Next, we do the Year in Reviews: the BEST of 2015!

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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.