Recent News from around the classical music world

By Peter Alexander

Posts on this blog have been rather few so far in 2015, due partly to pressing family and personal business that has taken a great deal of my time. But the classical music world spins on, and, in case you missed them, here are some the more intriguing topics of the past month, with links to more extensive stories.

As reported in the Denver Post on Monday, Colorado was ranked No. 1 nationally for visits to theaters, museums and concerts hall in a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts. Many will be surprised by the ranking, but it has been clear to me that all the arts are alive and well in Boulder.

Danish National Chamber Orchestra

Danish National Chamber Orchestra

Elsewhere around the world, it is struggling musical organizations that are generating headlines. The Danish National Chamber Orchestra came to world-wide attention when the Danish government suddenly cancelled their funding on short notice. Scheduled to be disbanded on Jan. 1, the orchestra decided to fight back. Their most notorious stunt—or imaginative publicity gesture, depending on how you look at it—was their hilarious and ridiculous “Hot Chili Challenge,” where they filmed themselves playing after eating hot peppers.

According to the latest reports, the orchestra has been saved by a crowd-funding campaign that started with Kickstarter and ended up with donations from Danish businesses. Read the article in the Guardian—and if you haven’t seen it before, be sure to watch the Chili Challenge video at the end.

The Ulster Orchestra in Northern Ireland has been facing a similar crisis. In their case, the orchestra has secured a reprieve, but their long-term future is far from assured. Read about it in the Guardian.

The San Diego Opera's production of "La Boheme" (with Sara Gartland as Musetta). Photo: Ken Howard

The San Diego Opera’s production of “La Boheme” (with Sara Gartland as Musetta). Photo: Ken Howard

Another arts company that nearly went under but bounced back at the last moment was the San Diego Opera. With a change of general mangers and an outpouring of public support, the opera is back in business, and this review from the San Diego Union Times is good news for everyone.

At least none of these companies had their chief executives charged with corruption—unlike the Valencia Opera in Spain, where former director Helga Schmidt was both fired and arrested. You can read this story at Valencia Today.

Finally, we can end with some good news. Down in Texas, the Houston Opera has exceeded their fundraising goal of $165 million, raising a total of $172.9 million for “world premieres, new productions of established operas and the company’s first staging of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung.” You can read the whole story in the Houston Chronicle.

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