News In Brief 2/25/05

We may be avoiding the heat of the ’90s culture war, but federal support of the arts isn’t improving any, either. According to the American Symphony Orchestra League’s Government Affairs department, “the President has requested level funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, and for the fifth consecutive year has omitted Arts in Education funding from his budget request. In addition to federal funding levels, the U.S. Congress may soon act on major policy areas affecting orchestras, including nonprofit governance and visa reforms.”

The ASOL, a service organization for American orchestras, monitors arts-related federal issues, especially those effecting orchestras, throughout the year and suggests ways the artistic community can impact outcomes. Regular updates are posted here: http://www.symphony.org/govaff/what/index.shtml.

In addition, the League’s 60th National Conference, “Make the Case for Orchestras,” will be held in Washington, D.C., from June 14-18, 2005. The conference agenda includes opportunities for delegates to lobby their members in Congress. The ASOL is further tying its conference to D.C. by presenting their annual Gold Baton Award (for distinguished service to music and the arts) to National Symphony Orchestra Music Director Leonard Slatkin and to the Congressional Arts Caucus. Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Representative Chris Shays (R-CT) will accept on behalf of the Congressional Arts Caucus.

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Kenneth Fuchs has been appointed head of the Department of Music at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, effective July 1. Presently director of the School of Music at the University of Oklahoma, he has previously held posts at the Manhattan School of Music, the North Carolina School of the Arts, SUNY Albany, and The Juilliard School.

A composer of work for orchestra, band, chorus, jazz ensemble, and various chamber ensembles, his recent projects include Burning Blue (Fanfare-Overture for Winds, Brass, and Percussion) commission by the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band, and Immigrants Still, based on a text by poet Richard Wilbur. A recording of three of his orchestral works featuring the London Symphony Orchestra and English hornist Thomas Stacy under the baton of JoAnn Falletta will be released on the Naxos American Classics series this fall.

Fuchs received his PhD in 1988 from Juilliard where he studied with Milton Babbitt, Vincent Persichetti, David Diamond, and Stanley Wolfe.

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Composer Raphael Mostel has been commissioned to write a new work for the Brass Ensemble of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. Commissioned by the American Friends of the RCO with underwriting from The Netherland-America Foundation, Mostel’s eight-minute composition Night and Dawn is in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation. It will receive its premiere in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall on May 3, 2005.

Mostel is the composer/director of Travels of Babar, a take off on the classic book and illustrations by Jean de Brunhoff. He has also created a repertory of compositions for one-of-a-kind instruments as the founder of the Tibetan Singing Bowl Ensemble: New Music for Old Instruments.

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Composer Lisa Bielawa has written an article on site specificity for the New York Foundation for the Arts webzine Currents. In it, she tackles creating new work in an increasingly competitive economic environment. Resistant to the idea of treating artistic output like a commodity, Bielawa illustrates how she confronts this issue by writing for specific performers, listeners, rooms, and occasions. She writes, “I search for ways in which my music itself, without being expressly political, can be a site of resistance. One way to do this is to write pieces that cannot be fixed and traded because their realization is dependent on the live performance situation.”

The full article is available here: http://www.nyfa.org/level3.asp?id=323&fid=6&sid=17

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The Musicians’ Alliance for Peace (MAP) has announced the second annual Music for Peace Project 2005. Designed to draw attention to issues of world peace and social justice, the group’s goal this year is to link 500 concerts under the Music for Peace Project banner. Both existing and specially produced performances may be part of the effort. Musicians wishing to participate this year can register by signing a form on the Peace Project website: www.m4p.org or by writing to MAP at info@m4p.org.

MAP was formed in 2001 by music students at Stony Brook University to promote peace through music. The first Music for Peace Project in 2004 included 70 concerts in 13 countries in 50 hours.

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MSN Music and Smithsonian Folkways Recordings has made a catalog of nearly 35,000 tracks of historic songs from legendary performers of folk, blues, jazz and world music available online for the first time. Though created in response to the growing interest in roots music, the catalogue also includes classical and jazz/avantgarde categories. A search for Henry Cowell pulls up 20 piano works, for instance. John Cage and David Tudor’s collaboration, Indeterminacy, is here as well. Historical and artist information is included with the tracks.

Of auxiliary interest, the categories “Natural Sounds & More” and ” From the Nation’s Attic” include field recordings of natural and manmade sounds, and audio artifacts including music from old sci-fi films and a lesson from Pete Seeger about how Lead Belly’s guitar music is notated.