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Andrea Bocelli plans all-star events in Italy

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will celebrate his third decade in the music business with an event in his hometown of Lajatico.

Andrea Bocelli 30: The Celebration is slated for 15, 17 and 19 July at Tuscany’s Teatro del Silenzio, a natural amphitheatre of which Bocelli serves as honorary president.

The event will feature appearances by a plethora of Bocelli’s superstar friends including Ed Sheeran, Shania Twain, Jon Batiste, Russell Crowe, Sofia Vergara, David Foster, Christian Nodal, Sofia Carson, Laura Pausini, Tiziano Ferro, Zucchero, Giorgia, Matteo Bocelli and Virginia Bocelli.

The 65-year-old will also be joined by classical stars such as Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Lang Lang, Aida Garifullina, Bryn Terfel and Nadine Sierra.

“30 years later, I can only imagine celebrating my career and my life here at Teatro del Silenzio”

“As a child, I learned to dream about my future in the enchanted silence of these hills,” says Bocelli. “Then life made that dream happen. Today, 30 years later, I can only imagine celebrating my career and my life, its strength, and its wondrous beauty here at Teatro del Silenzio, surrounded by such wonderful artists and friends. I want to thank everyone who helped my childhood dreams come true with an unforgettable concert.”

In addition, Mercury Studios, Maverick, Impact Productions and CITYSOUND & Events are working together to produce the Andrea Bocelli 30: The Celebration concert film, which will be directed by Sam Wrench.

“You can’t get much more cinematic than Andrea Bocelli against the Tuscan landscape. I’m incredibly excited to bring this once-in-a-lifetime concert to cinemas around the world with his unique voice, this world-class team and enviable list of special guests,” says Wrench, who recently directed Taylor Swift – The Eras Tour, the highest-grossing concert film of all time.

Tickets to Andrea Bocelli 30: The Celebration range from €191.52 to €1675.80 including fees.

Prior to the event in Italy, Bocelli will perform at BST Hyde Park in London, becoming the first classical headliner of the 65,000-capacity event.

 


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André Rieu plays UAE’s biggest classical concert

Dutch violinist and conductor André Rieu’s debut performance in Abu Dhabi has broken the record for the biggest-selling classical concert in the UAE.

Presented by pan-regional concert promoter MAC Global in association with Abu Dhabi Culture, the 9 March show pulled 12,000 people to the Etihad Arena, Yas Island.

Originally planned for 10,000 guests, organisers released an additional 2,000 tickets in response to public demand.

“We are thrilled to have witnessed history being made with the largest classical concert ever held in the UAE”

“Bringing André Rieu to Abu Dhabi has been a tremendous honour and the overwhelming response reaffirms our commitment to delivering unforgettable entertainment experiences,” says Rob McIntosh, CEO of MAC Global. “We are thrilled to have witnessed history being made with the largest classical concert ever held in the UAE.”

Part of Sony Music Entertainment, MAC Global was set up in 2014 by McIntosh and Daniel Goldberg and has staged a wide range of gigs in the Middle East from Michael Bublé to Tiësto.

The company’s upcoming presentations include Tom Grennan at The Agenda, Dubai on 24 May and Take That at Etihad Arena, Abu Dhabi on 25 October.

 


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German town hosts concerts in swimming pool

A German town is hosting a series of concerts in its municipal swimming pool, which has been closed since the outbreak of coronavirus.

Under the name Kult(ur)-Bad 2020 (“Cult(ure) [in the]-Pool 2020”), authorities in Entringen, in the south-western state of Baden-Wurttemberg, have turned the town’s empty outdoor pool into a makeshift concert venue.

The first performance took place on 19 July, with Bayreuth cellist Jürgen Gerlinger playing a series of Bach suites while seated at a depth of four metres (13’), according to local media.

Future events in the Kult(ur)-Bad 2020 series include a comedy and jazz night on 2 August, a Spanish guitar recital on 9 August and a Latin classical concert on 16 August.

Fans are advised to bring blankets to sit on (no chairs are allowed), as well as headgear when it’s sunny, while face coverings are mandatory.

“The acoustics are great down there”

Speaking to local public broadcaster SWR2, swimmer-turned-concert organiser Martina Riester praises the pool’s suitability as a music venue. “There are [great] acoustics down there,” she says.

The Entringen pool is the latest non-traditional concert venue to be repurposed during the coronavirus pandemic, with fans now seeing shows from their cars, bicycles, rickshaws, balconies and lawns, in addition to virtual events streamed to their homes.

 


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Hackers target livestreamed IPO fundraiser

The disruption of an Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO) virtual concert and fundraising gala last weekend was caused by a cyberattack, the orchestra has confirmed.

The attack – the first outage of a major livestreamed show since the format took off amid the coronavirus pandemic – crashed the websites of the IPO and its broadcast partner, Medici.tv, during the stream on Sunday 28 June.

More than 13,000 people had registered to view the hour-long event, hosted by Dame Helen Mirren, which aimed to help the orchestra overcome financial losses as a result of Covid-19.

No group has claimed responsibility for hacking the stream.

“Hackers were determined to silence our message and stamp out our voice, but they will not succeed”

“We were thrilled that so many had registered to join us for this event, giving us the opportunity to bring the healing power of music to people who need it at this difficult time,” comments Tali Gottlieb, executive director of the IPO Foundation.

“Our organisation had high hopes that this event would help us raise emergency funds to support the members of the Israel Philharmonic in the face of an unprecedented financial crisis.”

Danielle Ames Spivak, executive director of American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which helped organise the event, adds: “Hackers were determined to silence our message and stamp out our voice, but they will not succeed. More than ever, we are determined to spread the Israel Philharmonic’s message of hope, peace, and beauty around the world.”

 


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Classical music festivals to go ahead this summer

A number of classical music festivals are taking place in Europe this summer, as organisers find ways to work with social distancing requirements.

Austria’s Salzburg Festival and Grafenegg Festival are going ahead in August, with capacity reductions, checkerboard seating plans, sanitary regulations and testing systems in place.


Salzburg Festival, originally scheduled to start on 18 July, will now kick off on 1 August, when audiences of 1,250 will be permitted at outdoor events in Austria, and run to the end of the month. The programme, initially comprising 212 performances, will be scaled down to 90.

Capacity will be also be pared back at 50%, with the 1,500-seat Haus für Mozart capped at 800 and a maximum of around 700 tickets sold for the 1,400-seat Felsenreitschule. The festival had sold 180,000 of its total 230,000 tickets prior to lockdown restrictions, and is now limiting seats to around 70,000.

Only those who already bought tickets can still attend and there will be a limit of two tickets per person. Names of ticketholders will be printed on the tickets to enable contact tracing.

Near to Vienna, the Grafenegg Festival will start on 14 August in the grounds of the 32-acre Grafenegg castle.

A number of classical music festivals are taking place in Europe this summer, as organisers find ways to work with social distancing requirements

Organisers of the event released an updated programme on 3 June, consisting of predominantly domestic acts. Tickets are limited to two per person, per event and all attendees will be required to wear masks when not seated and keep “sufficient distance” from other guests.

In neighbouring Italy, where live shows are returning next week, large classical music event the Ravenna Festival is taking place from 21 June to 30 July in the towns of Cervia and Lugo, with the main stage at the open-air Brancaleone fortress in Ravenna itself.

Tickets, which go on sale on 11 June, will be limited to two per person. Capacity will be set at 300 for the events in the fortress and at a specially erected arena in Cervia, with the Pavaglione in Lugo holding up to 500 people. Much of the programme will also be streamed live online.

Those who purchased tickets before the suspension of sales and the announcement of the new program can obtain a refund by voucher, as per Italian legislation.

Opera festivals in Rossini, Torre del Lago, Martina Franca and Macerata have also adjusted their programmes in order to go ahead this summer.

In Estonia, where open-air shows of up to 1,000 spectators and indoor concerts of 500 can take place next month, Pärnu Music Festival is taking place from 16 to 23 July for audiences of 300. More details on the programme and running of the event will become available later this week.

 


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Sex toy causes classical concert terror scare

Police were called to the Vienna Konzerthaus after a concealed sex toy sparked a terror alert.

Staff at the concert hall called in explosive experts to report a bag that was “shaking suspiciously” in the cloakroom. It was later discovered that the suspect movement was prompted by a vibrator in a concertgoer’s bag.

The incident did not disturb the Viennese Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Richard Wagner works Siegfried Idyll and The Valkyrie.

“The owners of the bag were informed of the incident and the officers wished them a nice evening”

“The bag had fallen on its side. Officers were able to quickly identify the cause of vibration and therefore it was not necessary to disturb the performance and the show went on,” says police spokesperson Patrick Maierhofer.

“After the performance had finished, the suitcase was handed over to its owner and his lady friend. They were informed of the incident and the officers wished them a nice evening.”

Opening in 1913, Vienna’s Konzerthaus regularly hosts concerts by the Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Orchestra and Vienna Singakademie choir. The venue houses three rooms: the great hall (1,840 seats), the Mozart hall (704 seats) and the Schubert hall (336 seats).

 


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Legendary jazz promoter Walter Homburger passes

Walter Homburger, the German-born promoter whose International Artists Concert Agency (IACA) brought jazz and classical music greats including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Luciano Pavarotti to Canada, has died aged 95.

Born in Karlsruhe in 1924, Homburger, a Jew, emigrated to Canada in 1940 and became a citizen (British subject) two years later. After a spell working on a pig farm in Aurora, Ontario, Homburger made his first foray into concert promotion, which, according to FYIMusicNews’s Nick Krewen, was “a disaster”.

“He borrowed money to guarantee soprano Lotte Lehman a $3,750 haul for three German leider recitals at Toronto’s Eaton Auditorium in 1947, and lost $1k,” Krewen writes. “But his backers felt he had a future and covered his deficit. Their trust was rewarded when three months later Homburger recouped his losses with a sell-out by Russian pianist Vladimir Horowitz.”

In addition to working as a promoter, Homburger was a successful manager, guiding Canadian classical pianist Glenn Gould to global success.

In 1957, Gould became the first Western artist to play the USSR after the second world war. Homburger told Gould biographer Colin Eatock: “I felt it would give Glenn some good publicity. […] But it was the McCarthy era, and I was very concerned about Glenn not being able to get into the United States after visiting Russia. So I had some correspondence with the Canadian government – with [future PM] Lester Pearson, who was at that time our external affairs minister.

“This is a huge loss for … all those fortunate enough to have worked with him”

“The government was behind the idea, and they helped me with contacts in Russia. I asked them to please let their colleagues in the USA know that they are in favour of Glenn going to Russia so that he wouldn’t be banned from the United States.”

Gould performed in Moscow and St Petersburg (then Leningrad), and also gave lectures during the tour, which made him a household name in Russia.

As Homburger’s relationship with Gould ended, in 1962 he became managing director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a position he would keep until his retirement in 1987. When he retired, the orchestra held a benefit concert, the Great Gathering, which made more than C$2.3m for the orchestra’s charitable foundation.

For his work with the Toronto Symphony, Homburger was made a member of the order of Canada. He was also awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.

“Walter represented a rare mix in one man: He was a brilliant impresario, a strategic leader and a kind inspiration to all who knew him,” says Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) CEO Matthew Loden. “This is a huge loss for the TSO family and for all those fortunate enough to have worked with him, but we are comforted in knowing Walter’s legacy survives in our collective memories and in the music we make every day.”

Homburger is survived by Emmy, his wife of 58 years, his son Michael, daughter Lisa and four grandchildren.

 


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‘World-class’ concert venue planned for Wimbledon

Renowned architect Frank Gehry has begun drawing up plans for the Wimbledon Concert Hall, a 1,250-seat classical concert venue envisioned for the south-west London suburb.

Early designs have been prepared by Gehry – whose previous designs include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles – on behalf of Anthony Wilkinson, director of Wimbledon International Festival, according to the Times.

Patrons of the project include Dame Darcey Bussell, who will advance on dance, and Finnish composer Esa-Pekka Salonen. The proposed site for the venue, for which backers hope to raise £100 million, is a supermarket car park in Wimbledon, an area of London best known as the home of tennis.

“To have a Frank Gehry-designed concert hall in Wimbledon would be a total transformation of London”

“To have a Frank Gehry-designed concert hall in Wimbledon would be a total transformation of London concert life,” says Salonen. “It would have a global effect. With these buildings the influence goes way beyond the art form.”

The Wimbledon Concert Hall announcement follows that of the proposed Centre for Music at the Barbican, for which the City of London has pledged £2.5m, with both venues hoping to fill a gap for a new classical concert hall in the UK capital.

Both existing major London concert halls, Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall, are considered ill-equipped by many in the classical music community, with conductor Simon Rattle famously once commenting: “After rehearsing for half an hour in the Royal Festival Hall, you lose the will to live.”

 


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Everyone wants a piece of André

The celebrity violinist has once again made cinematic music event history, as André Rieu New Year’s Concert from Sydney grossed over US$4.6 million worldwide, achieving unprecedented growth in music event cinema.

The so-called King of Waltz enjoyed the biggest opening weekend recorded for a concert in the box office. Broadcast in cinemas worldwide, the concert grossed $4.6 million over the weekend, including $2.3 million in the UK alone.

Piece of Magic Entertainment (POM), a company co-founded by Rieu in July 2017, produced and distributed the concert. The show beat competition from other event cinema titles released in the last year, such as Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams and Muse Drones World Tour, which grossed $3.5 million and $2.5 million respectively.

With the addition of several encore screenings, it is expected that André Rieu’s New Year Concert will surpass $5 million in global takings.

“Once again the figures prove André’s enduring success”

Rieu’s fiercest competition is himself. In 2016, his Maastricht show became the highest-grossing music concert of all time in the UK box office, taking £1.4 million. Rieu went on the beat this record two years on the trot. His 2018 release, Amore – My Tribute to Love, grossed £1.66 million in box offices in the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Since POM took over the distribution of Rieu’s cinema events in 2017, the artist has enjoyed rapid growth in established markets such as the UK (24%), as well as internationally, growing by 308% in Spain, 120% in Germany, 39% in Canada, and 23% in the Netherlands.

“Once again the figures prove André’s enduring success,” says POM co-founder and CEO Caspar Nadaud.

“We are especially proud of opening new markets and establishing steady growth across the world. Our aim is to continue this growth with André in cinemas.”

 


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DEAG wholly acquires the Classical Company

Deutsche Entertainment AG (DEAG) has become the sole owner of Swiss classical music promoter the Classical Company, after acquiring all remaining shares in the company (50%) from Zurich-based media group Ringier.

The Classical Company is now a fully owned subsidiary of DEAG Classics – itself 100% owned by DEAG since June, when it bought out Sony Music’s 49% stake – although Ringier will remain a media partner until 2020.

The Classical Company deal is the latest step in DEAG’s strategy to eliminate its minority holdings and joint ventures, following DEAG Classics and, in July, MyTicket (formerly an equal partnership with Starwatch Entertainment).

Founded in 2010, the Classical Company is one of the leading promoters of classical music concerts in Switzerland. Past successes include Lang Lang, David Garrett, Vittorio Grigolo, Nigel Kennedy and Simone Kermes, while future shows include Anna Netrebko’s highly anticipated performance in Lucerne in February 2019.

In addition to various investments in TV, radio and ecommerce, Ringier is the owner of the Moon and Stars festival in Locarno and leading ticket agency Ticketcorner, the latter co-owned with CTS Eventim.

 


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