Classical news: U.S. orchestras now rely more on donations than ticket sales

Andris Nelsons leading the Boston Symphony OrchestraMarcoBorggreve

November 17, 2016

"In 2013, for the first time, ensembles no longer earned a majority of their ticket revenue from the subscription packages they have depended on for decades," reports the New York Times, citing a study by the League of American Orchestras.

"As ensembles and their development departments work to appeal to philanthropists, many are now going beyond merely making music, offering more educational programs and community engagement initiatives," the Times story continues. "The question of how effectively orchestras can attract philanthropic support is increasingly the key to their survival."

Barnard president tapped to lead Lincoln Center

Debora L. Spar, president of Barnard College, has been hired as the tenth president of Lincoln Center. A big challenge immediately facing Spar: the planned renovation of Geffen Hall, a $500 million project with most of the funding still needing to be raised. (New York Times)

Julian Lloyd Webber takes on London brothels

Acclaimed cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, who now leads the Birmingham Conservatoire, is leading a fight against brothels in his London neighborhood. "Julian was incredibly annoyed when his wife was accosted by a customer of one of these places who thought she was working there," says a representative of the South Kensington neighborhood association. (Daily Mail)

String quartet deploys scent to engage audiences' senses

In a recent series of performances, the Australian Art Quartet paired perfumes with music. Before each piece, perfumer Carlos Huber stepped onstage to explain how he constructed the scent to accompany that music. For example: Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No. 1 got a "faint champagne hint and floral flourish," reports the Guardian, while Pärt's Fratres got "spices, black pepper, Spanish leather, frankincense."

BBC Young Musician 2016 calls for more diversity in music

"When a lot of people imagine classical music they don't picture much diversity so I think giving people the opportunity to see those role models would be great," says Sheku Kanneh-Mason. "I hope to inspire young black children to see classical music as something that they could possibly go into." The 17-year-old cellist won this year's BBC Young Musician competition, and made the semi-final round of Britain's Got Talent "with his brothers and sisters as part of a classical music group," reports the Guardian.

"Nice shirt but the intervals shrunk after the first washing."

A shirt advertised as "Beethoven's Fifth Symphony Styling" on Amazon is getting thumbs-down reviews from musicians who point out that the notes in question aren't actually from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. "That is a variation of three blind mice in Eb major instead of the fifth in c minor," writes one would-be purchaser. Another suggests, "This should be sold with a companion tee-shirt with the words: 'I'M WITH TONE-DEAF.'" (Classic FM)

This week's news from the Netherlands

As a marketing strategy for a pain-relief drug, a Dutch pharmaceutical company is sending physicians copies of CDs with music by "tormented composers." Among the selections: Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 and Brahms's Piano Concerto No. 2. (

Dutch composer Jeroen van Veen has built a grand piano out of 30,000 Legos. The project, which took two-and-a-half-years, was "a hobby which got a bit out of hand," said van Veen. An electronic keyboard inside the instrument allows van Veen to "play" the piano. (Dutch News)