CLASSICAL BEAT: Marc-Andre Hamelin, National Endowment for the Arts, Lorin Maazel ...

Hamelin to perform at Grammys; NEA supports Chamber Music America; Maazel creates Conductors' Competition Foundation.

Pianist Marc-André Hamelin is scheduled to perform February 21 at the 43rd annual Grammy Awards. The Hyperion recording artist has been nominated for two awards. His recording of Busoni's Piano Concerto, opus 39 was nominated Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (with Orchestra), and his recording of Godowsky's Complete Studies on Chopin's Etudes (RealAudio excerpt) was nominated as Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra). "I am absolutely thrilled that they have received such generous recognition by the Academy," Hamelin said in a press release, "as they are the fruits of some of my fondest labors to date." ... The National Endowment for the Arts announced a four-year plan to strengthen its support for works commissioned by Chamber Music America. The newly titled Chamber Music America-National Endowment for the Arts Special Commissioning Award will be presented to ensembles or festivals to supplement commission fees, copying fees and funds for performers. ...

Conductor Lorin Maazel and philanthropist Alberto W. Vilar announced the creation of the Conductors' Competition Foundation with $5 million in seed money. The New York Times reports that entrants must be younger than 35 in order to win $45,000 cash prizes, three-year training stints with Maazel and the chance to conduct professional engagements. The New York Philharmonic Orchestra announced January 29 that Maazel will be its next Music Director beginning sometime during its 2002-03 season. ...

Avant-garde composers collective Bang on a Can will release four albums on their own new Cantaloupe label. The first, Renegade Heaven, which includes works by Glenn Branca, Julia Wolfe and Arnold Dreyblatt performed by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, will be released in March. The Passing Measures, David Lang's new work for bass clarinet, orchestra and chorus, will be released in April and virtuoso clarinetist-composer Evan Ziporyn's This Is Not a Clarinet in June. ...

Victor Borge, known affectionately as the "Clown Prince of Denmark," died on December 23 at age 91. Born in 1909 to a family of musicians, Borge became a popular musician in Denmark in the 1930s before immigrating to the United States. He soon landed a spot as a regular on Bing Crosby's radio show and continued bringing his mix of comedy and classical music to the world for the next 50 years. In 1999, he received a Kennedy Center Award. ...

Violinist Itzhak Perlman has received the National Medal of Arts, one of the most prestigious awards given by the United States government. The Israeli-born Perlman was one of 12 to receive the award in a special ceremony held by President Clinton at the White House. Other recipients at the December 20 event included Mikhael Baryshnikov, Maya Angelou and Barbra Streisand. ...

A modern version of a literary golden oldie is on its way to New York in January. Benjamin Bagby's Beowulf is a one-man performance that reconstructs the old English tale via speech and song to the accompaniment of a period six-stringed lyre. Bagby, who co-founded the Cologne, Germany, early music ensemble Sequentia, will use (modern) English-language supertitles in the performance. ...<

Ruth Martin, who along with her husband, Thomas Martin, translated 50 operas into English, died at her Manhattan home December 11 at age 86. The libretti they translated included those for Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte, Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro; Puccini's La Boheme; Rossini's Italian Girl in Algiers and The Barber of Seville; and Bizet's Carmen. Martin died Dec. 11 at her home in Manhattan. ...

The executive director of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, George Gelles, has announced he will be departing the job he has held for the last 15 years to become executive vice president and managing director of the Carmel Bach Festival, effective April 1. This comes on the heels of the Philharmonia music director Nicholas McGegan's exit. The San Francisco-based Philharmonia is celebrating its 20th season. No replacements have been named for Gelles or McGegan. ...

According to a report in London's The Independent, conductor John Elliot Gardiner has been released by his label, Deutsche Grammophon. The terms of Gardiner's parting after a two-decade relationship with the label were not given, but it was suggested that it might have been caused when the label made a last-minute decision not to release all 200 Bach cantatas which Gardiner has been recording over the last year in tribute to the 250th anniversary of the composer's death. Instead of the 60-CD collection, DG will release 12. ...

— sonicnet.com staff report