Weekly AUDIO NEWS for August 13, 2003

UK Classical Music Sales Slump - According to a new survey done by the British Phonographic Industry, sales of classical music in the UK have slumped to the lowest point ever - in a country known as probably the major buyer of classical recordings in the world. It was found that barely one in 20 CDs sold in Britain last year was classical, whereas in l990 the figure had been one in 10. Although between 2001 and 2002 there was a boom in the new crossover acts such as Charlotte Church, Vanessa Mae and Bond, the BPI figures exposed the fallacy that scantily-clad glamorous performers attract a more youthful audience. The proportion of classical CDs bought by under-40s actually dropped over the past two years. The slow death of classical music as a popular art form is being blamed on many factors, including the oft-criticized inadequate music teaching in schools - which is even worse in the U.S. than in the UK. The manager of Bond and discoverer of Vanessa Mae is quoted as observing: “It’s got to the point when you have to ask the question of classical music: ‘Has it reached its sell-by date?’”

Universal Releases First DVD-Audio Titles Next Month - Universal Music Group (UMG) - the world’s largest music company - has announced it’s first DVD A titles to be issued September 23rd, alongside its program of SACD format releases which began several months ago. A Universal spokesman said “The popularity of the DVD format makes DVD-Audio a natural choice for consumers who wish to experience the world of multichannel surround sound.” The discs will be remixed from the original multitrack masters and bonus content will include lyrics, photos, bios, discographies and videos. Some titles slated for release on DVD-A are: The Four Seasons with Anne-Sophie Mutter, Cecilia Bartoli’s The Vivaldi Album, Gergiev conducting Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, The Carmina Burana, Dave Grusin’s Two for the Road, 3 Diana Krall albums, Steely Dan’s Gaucho, The Who’s Tommy, and The Marvin Gaye Collection.

SACD Forum Launched in Europe - Representatives from record labels, manufacturers, producers and recording engineers working with SACD in Europe met in London recently to form the Super Audio Forum. The group was the idea of Philips’ Paul Reynolds, who feels that SACD industry participants can work together to promote and establish the SACD format. Philips’ officers also gave an SACD report, indicating that a total of 150,000 Hybrid SACD discs can now be pressed daily at the various manufacturing plants around the world, and that there are over 65 different SACD players available from 25 different manufacturers, with many more launches planned soon.

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