Sunday, May 13, 2007

Apparently Joseph Flummerfelt is still for sale

Posted by Patrick Sharbaugh on Sun, May 13, 2007 at 7:23 PM

In today’s New York Times – I ask you, is there a better way to spend a rainy Sunday morning? – the Arts section features round-ups of the many pop, rock, and classical music festivals happening around the country this summer. Spoleto gets a big nod from reporter Ann Midgette, but the synopsis comes with a barb hidden in it:

“The summer festival circuit practically kicks off in balmy Charleston, often the first stop for productions later seen at other festivals. This year Philip Glass’ “Book of Longing” arrives fresh from Toronto, before going on to Ravinia and Lincoln Center; other American premieres are Gluck’s opera “L’ile de Merlin” and Dusapin’s “Faustus, the Last Night.” Unfortunately the ubiquitous branding demon seems to have struck the festival’s orchestra, now the Ginn Resorts Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra, playing under its fine and still-unbranded music director, Emmanuel Villaume.”

Notwithstanding the fact that the branding demon first struck the SFO last year, the writer makes a fine point. The wholesale auctioning off of the various artistic elements of the festival to corporate interests that results in ridiculous, mouth-punishing contrivances like “The Ginn Resorts Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra” is not a new phenomenon, but it’s definitely an idea born in the lowest reaches of hell. “Wachovia Jazz” is only barely tolerable because it’s just one word, albeit a four-syllable one; it’s over with pretty quickly. “Bank of America Chamber Music,” on the other hand, seems to go on forever, like a particularly nasty stomach virus.

“The Ginn Resorts Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra” is the worst of the lot, but it’s also two syllables and an ampersand less of an abomination than it was last year. Somewhere between the end of Spoleto 2006 and now, a canny somebody lopped off the “Clubs &” that had been squatting in last year’s original protracted construction. It’s an improvement, but it’s still a little like polishing a turd. The result’s never going to shine, exactly.

Also, I hate to break it to you, Ms. Midgette, but the “still unbranded” Maestro Emmanuel Villaume’s official title is the Christel DeHaan Music Director for Opera & Orchestra.

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