Classical news: Met Opera ash-thrower apologizes

Bryan Hymel and Marina Rebeka in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Rossini's 'Guillaume Tell'Marty Sohl/Met Opera

November 07, 2016

Roger Kaiser has apologized for scattering his friend's cremains in the orchestra pit of the Metropolitan Opera. Kaiser says the offer to scatter ashes at the Met was "a sweet gesture to a dying friend that went completely and utterly wrong in ways that I could never have imagined." Amid fears about the nature of the powdery substance, Kaiser's ash-throwing caused the Met to cancel two performances. (New York Times)

Remembering Zoltán Kocsis

Hungarian pianist and conductor Zoltán Kocsis has died "after a long illness" at age 64, Hungary's National Philharmonic Orchestra has announced. A frequent guest conductor with top orchestras around the world, Kocsis was particularly lauded for his interpretations of Bartok. (The Guardian)

A literary prize for Philip Glass

Bob Dylan isn't the only musician winning literary prizes: American composer Philip Glass has been named the winner of this year's Chicago Tribune Literary Prize. The award recognizes his 2015 memoir, Words Without Music. (Chicago Tribune)

Nonprofits fund classical music critic at Boston Globe

With fewer and fewer publications employing classical music critics, what's to become of classical music coverage in mainstream media? The Boston Globe is trying one possible solution: their classical critic, Zoë Madonna, is being funded for ten months by a coalition of nonprofit organizations. The paper promises that Madonna will remain independent, addressing concerns that some of the funding organizations also support the very music Madonna is meant to be independently evaluating. (New York Times)

A classical boy band?

A Berlin producer is hoping to capitalize on the kind of buzz surrounding pop-music boy bands like One Direction with a new boy-band that plays classical music (or, at least, classical instruments). The Symphoniacs comprise seven attractive young men from around the world, and producer Andy Leomar hopes they can build on their German success to achieve international fame. (Classic FM)

Boy donates Bar Mitzvah cash to striking musicians

Young Jonah Hertzman is doing what he can to support the striking musicians of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: he's using his Bar Mitzvah money as "leverage" to support the musicians in their negotiations with management. "As soon as the strike ends," he writes on a crowdfunding page, "I will donate all the money I've raised here directly to the PSO itself." He's also raising awareness by pogo-sticking along the picket line.

Juilliard students rickroll protesters

Last week, members of the Westboro Baptist Church staged a protest at the Juilliard School, saying the school has "filled the nation with proud sodomites," according to one protest organizer. The students responded by rickrolling the protesters with an arrangement of Rick Astley’s "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Katherine Jenkins sings on a plane

To celebrate its new service to Moscow, British Airways enlisted soprano Katherine Jenkins to entertain passengers along with dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet. As Norman Lebrecht notes, though, the effect is slightly less impressive when you watch passenger videos as opposed to the official, close-miked, video.