Miscellany

A testy Riccardo Muti halts the Chicago Symphony when an audience member coughs. …

Miami is the largest city in the country without its own full-time professional orchestra. Now there’s a call for one. …

A music critic takes a crack at naming the 25 greatest American symphonies. …

New statistics show that 95 percent of classical concerts feature male composers only. …

The venerable Dallas Symphony names a new music director, a big name. …

A new book explores the topic of Leonard Bernstein as a grand and impossible father. …

An important Russian conductor — Gennady Rozhdestvensky — has died. …

The Chicago Tribune‘s music critic for 40 years writes his farewell column. …

Wednesday in Shanghai

The first rehearsal of the tour — and last, I hear — in the afternoon, after an hour and twenty minute drive from the hotel to Shanghai Poly Grand Theatre. It’s a post-modern building, formidably austere to my eye, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando. 

Rehearsal began with announcements from Symphony vice president of artistic and orchestra operations Eileen Jeanette, a busy woman on tour. This being the first gathering of everyone together since the tour started, she introduced the tour physician, Dr. Larry Snyder, who stood on stage just behind her. Among other sundry items, she announced the location of the concert after party at the hotel (“the first drink’s on us”), the hour of luggage collection the next day (it will be sent on its way to Wuxi while we go to Hefei) and the nature of our pre-concert meal (a boxed dinner that had been previously tried and approved of by the New York Philharmonic no less, Eileen said).

Rehearsal was interesting. The orchestra hadn’t played together since Saturday, but was completely familiar with the program, having performed it five times in March and rehearsed it again last week. But the hall was new to everyone. I heard differing reports after the rehearsal, depending on where the musicians sat there, but most thought the situation onstage less than ideal.

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Video: Xenakis, with audience

Would you buy a ticket to this? The piece is “Terretektorh” for 88 musicians (1966) by the Greek avant-garde composer Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001). The orchestra is supposed to “scatter” itself among the public during a performance, as you see is being done here. The music is fascinating to me and even a bit playful at times.