Classical Beat: N.Y. Philharmonic, S.F. Symphony, Houston Grand Opera ...

Musicians vote on Internet earnings deal.

The votes are in and the counting has begun. The management of the American Federation of Musicians is tallying the votes on whether to approve an agreement allowing 66 of the nation's orchestra, opera and ballet companies to start making money over the Internet. Musicians from organizations including the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony and the Houston Grand Opera cast their ballots Wednesday (July 12). Approval could pave the way for a tentative two-year agreement that would provide the musicians with a payment structure for webcasts and digital downloads of live performances. An official announcement is expected Friday (July 14), an AFM spokesperson said. ...

The Japan Art Association named this year's recipients of Praemium Imperiale Awards for outstanding achievement in the arts at a ceremony Tuesday (July 11) hosted by former British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath in London. Taking the award for music was German composer Hans Werner Henze. Henze will receive a cash prize of 15 million yen ($140,000). The composer's 10th Symphony will have its premiere conducted by Sir Simon Rattle at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland in 2002. Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim won in the Theater/Film category, and the Ulster Youth Orchestra of Northern Ireland received a Grant for Young Artists Award of 5 million yen ($47,000). ...

American baritone Walter Cassel died July 3 at his home in Bloomington, Ind. His operatic career stretched for over 30 years after his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1942. He was Douglas Moore's choice to play the role of Horace Tabor in the opera The Ballad of Baby Doe when it premiered in 1956 with soprano Beverly Sills. After more than 400 performances with the Met and the New York City Opera, Cassel retired from the stage in 1974 to teach at Indiana University. He was 90. ...

The furor surrounding the construction of the new Beijing Opera House continues as two petitions against the project from 49 senior scientists and engineers and 106 leading architects have found their way into the hands of China's leadership. In April, a groundbreaking ceremony was scheduled, but it was canceled at the last moment. The building, situated near the Forbidden City, will contain a 2,500-seat opera hall, a concert hall with 2,000 seats, a theater with 1,200 seats and a smaller theater that will seat 520. Visitors will enter through a tunnel under the lake, which will be surrounded with grass and trees. It is expected to cost more than $500 million. French architect Paul Andreu continues to defend the project and, in an interview with The Washington Post, likened it to initial negative reviews of the Eiffel Tower when it was first constructed. ...

While Napster CEO Hank Barry is reportedly in talks with the Recording Industry Association of America for a settlement of its lawsuit against his company, he is going forward in testifying before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday (July 11) on the subject "The Future of Digital Music: Is There an Upside to Downloading?" Barry contends that his company's software is covered by the Audio Home Recording Act, which allows copying of music for noncommercial purposes, and that Napster is not liable for how people use the software as per the Supreme Court's decision in the 1984 Betamax case. Also appearing before the committee will be Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, who has been vocal in his opposition to the file-sharing software program. ...

The opera Nuite des Hommes (The Night of Mankind) by Danish composer Per Nørgård will be given its British premiere at the Almeida theater on Wednesday (July 12). The 68-year-old Nørgård — whose Symphony #5 was nominated for a Grammy in 1998 — is known as a staunch defender of lyricism in his music. The libretto is the story of a soldier and nurse based on the poems of surrealist Guillaume Apollinaire during the turmoil of World War I. Nørgård also provided the musical score for the film Babette's Feast in addition to numerous symphonies and operas. ...

Flutist James Galway and the Irish Tenors will descend on Seattle for a week of Irish-inspired performances. Galway will play the Cimarosa double flute concerto with his wife, Jeane, on Thursday and Friday (July 13–14). Tenors Ronan Tynan, Finbar Wright and Anthony Kearns will perform Wednesday (July 12) at Seattle's Paramount Theater in a program of traditional Irish airs, anthems and lullabies. The tenors have gained recent recognition with performances on PBS and interviews on "20/20." ...

Andreas Schiff is putting his yearlong Bach retrospective on hold to join the Philharmonia — one of postwar Germany's most esteemed orchestras — for a series of concerts dedicated to Otto Klemperer, the Philharmonia's first principal conductor. The concert at London's Barbican Centre on Saturday (July 8) will consist of concerti by Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn, with Schiff as both soloist and conductor. ...

Squabbling between the Berlin government and the national German government may cause conductor-designate Sir Simon Rattle to back away from his appointment. German Sen. Christoph Stölzl failed to grant the national German government financial control of the famed orchestra, currently under Berlin's local control. The players and Rattle had placed their hopes that a federally controlled orchestra would result in higher pay for all. Rattle's unsigned contract calls for him to take the podium in Berlin in 2002. ...

— sonicnet.com staff report