Classical News – James Levine is back conducting the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra more than two years after an absence caused by a fall that left him partially paralyzed. A six-foot-square mechanical podium was constructed by the Opera to hoist his motorized wheelchair about three feet in the air. Next year his position with the Boston Symphony Orchestra will be taken over by Andris Nelsons. The Met Opera has disbanded its ballet company, which dated back to 1883. The Met said it was both a cost-savings and an artistic practicality, since many different choreographic styles are now used in Met productions. Milan’s La Scala has cut back its 2013-14 season due to the Italian economic crisis. Instead of the usual 13 operas there will only be ten. After the current season was already underway, the theater was told it would get five million Euros less in government funding than it had been promised. The new free DGG App exploring Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has topped the classical charts in six countries. Developed with Touch Press for Apple products, it includes four different video recordings: with conductors Bernstein, Herbert von Karajan, Ferenc Fricsay, and John Eliot Gardiner, plus interviews, synchronized scores and written commentary. The score is available in four different editions, and curated or not.
Major Grant to Hearing Loss Association – The CEA Foundation (Consumer Electronics Association) has made a $50,000 grant to the Hearing Loss Association of America funding a hands-on, train-the-trainer program on hearing assistive and emerging technologies for consumers with hearing loss. The Foundation’s mission is to link seniors and those with disabilities with technologies to enhance their lives. (Hearing aids are absurdly expensive, starting at around $3000, and many who require them simply cannot afford them. Unlike most European countries, health programs in the U.S. usually do not cover them.)
An intensive three-day training program will be offered consumers to improve their knowledge about and expertise in the ability to use new technologies to hear, access information, and communicate effectively, and to transfer that knowledge to other people with hearing losses. Many people are unaware of the variety of assistive and emerging technologies available to keep them healthy, active, vital and safe. Other barriers include attitudes about using hearing aids, funding them, and confusion about how to select and use equipment for various situations. These technologies can enhance an individual’s ability to function in everyday situations, increase independence at home and work, provide communication access, and prevent isolation that often occurs when seniors do not have the tools and skills to effectively communicate. More information at the CEA Foundation site.
Cambridge Audio Launches New Wireless Speakers – The first hi-fi wireless speakers with integrated AirPlay, Bluetooth and Internet Radio (access to 20,000 webcasters) are the Cambridge Audio Minx Air 100 and 200. They are designed to achieve lifelike sound from a compact speaker which plays music from almost any smartphone, tablet or computer. They use patented BMR (Balanced Mode Radiator) drivers to create a more room-filling sound that similar-sized traditional speakers. The carrier handle acts as a bass port. A custom digital amp improves performance, even at top volume, and the units employ MaxxAudio technology by Waves Audio, which won a Technical GRAMMY award. SRPs are $449 and $599 respectively.