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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.

https://twitter.com/GermanKaKtus/status/1285564348044279811

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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André Rieu’s Amore makes cinematic history

Classical superstar André Rieu has once again broken records with the 2018 edition of his Maastricht concerts, taking £1.66 million at cinema box offices in the UK and Republic of Ireland and becoming the all-time most successful concert screened in cinemas.

The Dutch violinist, known as the King of Waltz, grossed a then-record £1.45m with his 2017 Maastricht concerts, held annually in his hometown in the south-eastern Netherlands.

Cinemagoers attended showings held at more than 500 locations across the British Isles on the weekend of 28 and 29 July, grossing £1,608,000, according to comScore figures, with selected encores the following weekend pushing the figure to £1,667, 790.

On its opening weekend, Amore – My Tribute to Love reached no5 in the UK box-office chart, behind summer blockbusters including Mission Impossible: Fallout, Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again and Incredibles 2.

For the second year, the concerts were produced and distributed by Piece of Magic Entertainment, a company co-founded by Rieu himself in July 2017.

“We are extremely proud that in Piece of Magic’s second year we broke the record for the biggest music concert in cinemas of all time”

Caspar Nadaud, the company’s CEO, comments: “We are extremely proud that in Piece of Magic’s second year we broke the record for the biggest music concert in cinemas of all time. We are looking forward to continuing to build audiences for André and to diversify the genre with new strands of content.”

“André Rieu continues to resonate and demonstrate true affinity amongst a loyal and growing audience for event cinema content. Each year, his performances exceed the last in terms of box-office takings,” Grainne Peat, managing director of the Event Cinema Association, adds.

“As an association we are seeking how we can better harness the excitement of this category to appeal to and attract a wider audience profile.”

Upcoming Piece of Magic Entertainment events include several esports events, including the League of Legends European summer finals live from Madrid (9 September) and League of Legends world championship final live from Seoul Korea (November), and Rieu’s new year’s concert in Sydney (5–6 January 2019).

 


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Landmark legal win for musician with acoustic shock

A classical musician who suffered permanent hearing damage as a result of being exposed to noise levels of more than 130bB has won a legal victory over the Royal Opera House (ROH), in a judgment that could have wide-ranging implications for the British music industry.

Chris Goldscheider, a ROH viola player, suffered ‘acoustic shock’ – a condition with symptoms including pain, tinnitus and nausea, caused by hearing an unexpected loud sound – during a rehearsal for a performance of Wagner’s The Valkyrie in September 2012. Goldscheider was seated in the opera house’s orchestra pit (pictured), where peak noise levels reached 130.8dB – louder than a modern jet engine – according to the High Court judgment.

Goldscheider’s claim centred on the orchestra’s alleged violation of the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, which compel employers to reduce the risk to employees’ health by controlling the noise they are exposed to while at work.

Finding in Goldscheider’s favour, judge Nicole Davies said there is a “clear factual and causal link between identified breaches of the regulations and the high level of noise which ensued at the rehearsal. It commenced with an inadequate risk assessment, [and] continued with a failure to undertake any monitoring of noise levels in the cramped orchestra pit with a new orchestral configuration which had been chosen for artistic reasons.”

While the musician wore earplugs during “those parts of the rehearsal when he felt he needed them”, according to court documents, the noise from the brass section behind him was still “overwhelming”.

“Sound is not a byproduct of an industrial process but is an essential part of the product itself”

Goldscheider “now lives a relatively quiet life”, and “has learnt to avoid the noises which trigger the symptoms – for example, the vibrations from a large supermarket fridge or the noise in a restaurant”. His injuries, he says, have “decimated his professional life and made his partner’s professional life very difficult, as she is a member of the ROH orchestra”.

In a statement to the BBC, the ROH says it had received medical advice that long-term hearing damage could not be caused by an isolated incident of exposure to live music. “We have been at the forefront of industry wide attempts to protect musicians from the dangers of exposure to significant levels of performance sound, in collaboration with our staff, the Musicians’ Union, acoustic engineers and the Health and Safety Executive,” says a spokesperson.

“Although this judgment is restricted to our obligations as an employer under the Noise Regulations, it has potentially far-reaching implications for the Royal Opera House and the wider music industry.

“We do not believe that the Noise Regulations can be applied in an artistic institution in the same manner as in a factory – not least because in the case of the Royal Opera House, sound is not a byproduct of an industrial process but is an essential part of the product itself.”

“This has been a complex case and we will consider carefully whether to appeal the judgment,” the venue concludes.

Damages payable to Goldscheider will be assessed at a later date.

 


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