The Cell Phone Salesman from Wales

Last week an ordinary cell phone salesman from Wales named Paul Potts won the U.K. TV talent show Britain’s Got Talent when he blew everyone away with his beautiful rendition of Nessun Dorma. In the June 9th program where he made his first appearance before a national audience, the judges were stunned, and the audience went wild for Mr. Potts as though he were Justin Timberlake or some other top pop icon.
For me, as I watched the video from June 9th, I couldn’t help but be moved by this shy, unassuming everyman who managed to tranfix an audience unaccustomed to opera and classical music. I’ve been thinking about the interesting juxtaposition of his rarefied talent and its discovery on a program that appeals to the masses by showcasing acts that are often, er well, pretty lowbrow. I’ve also found it fascinating that Mr. Potts has taken America by storm through the Internet on YouTube and has even snagged an appearance on the Today show.
So here’re some questions: Will Mr. Potts’ new found popularity last? Is his fame and the way he won it good for classical music? Personally, I think it’s great that an Average Joe singing Puccini can touch so many people and get rewarded for it. But understandibly, there are those who see this as cynical opportunism on the part of the media who want to milk the cash cow for as long as it pays. I’m curious about what you think? Take a look at the video and weigh in.
By the way, Paul Potts has his own MySpace site at

Debating Handel’s anti-Semitism

George Frideric Handel

Academics often get worked up about things that would surprise the general population. For example, did it ever occur to you that the Baroque composer George Frideric Handel may have been anti-Semitic? Or that his great oratorio, Messiah, and especially its famous Hallelujah Chorus, were intended to repudiate Judaism?
That’s the contention of one scholar who spoke recently at the American Handel Festival 2007. He was passionately opposed by another scholar, who happens herself to be Jewish (so you’d think she’d know), as well as many of the audience members.


NPR, et al Appeal CRB Decision & Other Internet Radio Developments

On May 30, 2007 NPR, on behalf of its members, itself, and CPB qualified stations which are not NPR members, filed a Notice of Appeal of the CRB decision with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The hope is that this appeal will postpone the requirement for Internet radio stations to pay the new, detrimental royalties to SoundExchange until the appeal is decided. A postponement would allow other avenues, such as legislation and negotiation with RIAA and SoundExchange, to work for acceptable results for webcasters.
On the legislative front, the Internet Radio Equality Act (H.R. 2060) now has 109 co-sponsors which is extraordinary given the amount of time the bill has been in existence. The Senate counterpart (S. 1353) has gained one more co-sponsor.