[image-1]Tim Page, the much-respected and award-winning classical music critic for the Washington Post, will be the Spoleto overview critic for The Post and Courier this year.

Steve Mullins, managing editor of the P&C, issued a press release to area media today with details about the daily newspaper’s hiring of the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author. The news was also featured in Sunday’s newspaper in the Arts & Travel section.

Page currently teaches journalism at the University of Southern California. He succeeds Josh Rosenblum, the musician, writer, and creator of Bush Is Bad: The Musical, as the P&C‘s critic, after two years in the position.

In response to City Paper‘s report last week that the newspaper dropped Rosenblum — i.e., that the newspaper had dismissed the option of hiring him back for another year — Mullins contacted City Paper to assure us that we’d be thrilled by news of the next overview critic.

From Steve Mullins (April 16, 2008 3:40:55 PM EDT):

The important thing really is, when readers find out whose doing the daily Spoleto reviews for us THIS YEAR, I believe they will be thrilled.

Thrilled, I tell you!


I told you that I would call you with the name (the person has asked us to hold off for some very good contractual reasons) and I will keep my word.

But given the tone of your inaccurate story, I probably better go for accuracy and announce it first in The Post and Courier.

Stay tuned!

Thrilled, I tell you!


[. . .]

The press release is below. Careful readers will notice that it contains much of the material, word for word, of Stephanie Harvin’s piece in Sunday newspaper. The bottom half of the press release does not appear in the newspaper. The bottom half contains mostly quotes from Steve Mullins, the managing editor.

Some fact checking of that bottom half.

1. Mullins says he tried to get City Paper to correct the story for the sakes of Josh and Blair Tindall, another former overview critic. He did. But Tindall was not referenced in last week’s City Paper story.

2. Mullins says City Paper made “unfounded claims.” The report makes no claim beyond the fact that Rosenblum would not be the P&C‘s overview critic.

3. He also says City Paper “misreported” the P&C‘s “relationship” with previous critics. Again, the article merely reports that Rosenblum isn’t coming back.

4. He goes on to say that Rosenblum was hired for a year. In fact, he was hired for two consecutive years.

5. And he says City Paper reported that P&C‘s dropped Rosenblum and Tindall “in order to get Tim.” The report does not mention Tindall or Page.

From Mullins (April 22, 2008 10:29:41 AM EDT)

The Post and Courier has announced that Tim Page, one of the world’s most respected critics in classical music, will be overview writer for this year’s Spoleto Festival USA.

Page, former music critic for The Washington Post and a Pulitzer Prize winner, will write a combination of arts criticism, impressions and musings of the festival each day.

A music producer, teacher and critic, he brings the best of arts journalism experience to the job. He was cited as one of the most influential people in the world of U.S. opera by Opera News in 2006, not only for his writings but for his support of other critics.

He won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism as the chief music critic for The Washington Post from 1995 to 2008. As part of his job with the Post, he was responsible for all aspects of classical music coverage.

Page has had his brushes with controversy. His over-the-top response to a mass mailing from an aide to D.C. Councilman and former Washington Mayor Marion Barry drew criticism when he called Barry a “crack addict.” Page later apologized for his outburst.

Page just joined the faculty of the University of Southern California, where he is teaching arts journalism and criticism.

In 2007, he wrote candidly in The New Yorker about his life with Asperger’s syndrome, offering a poignant profile of a lifelong struggle with his own thinking process. He is working on a book on the subject scheduled to be published by Doubleday in 2009. Asperger’s syndrome is an autismlike disorder often characterized by difficulties with social interactions and a preoccupation with a single interest.

Prior to his experience with the Post, Page served as the chief music critic for Newsday and as a critic and cultural correspondent for The New York Times.

From 1981 until 1992, he was the host of a program devoted to new and unusual music on WNYC-FM in New York. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, including “The Glenn Gould Reader,” “Tim Page on Music” and “Dawn Powell: A Biography.”

As a producer, he founded BMG Catalyst, a record label for new music. Its widely and favorably reviewed recordings include “Spiked,” an album of music by Spike Jones; “Memento Bittersweet,” an album of music by Chris DeBlasio, Kevin Oldham, Lee Gannon and other HIV-positive composers; and “Night of the Mayas,” the first CD devoted entirely to orchestral works by Silvestre Revueltas, Mexico’s leading composer. Page has been a contributor to National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition,” American Public Media’s “Performance Today,” BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Voice of America. He has appeared on “ABC World News Tonight” and “ABC Nightline,” “NBC Nightly News” “CBS Sunday Morning” and PBS’ “Firing Line.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have Tim joining our staff for Spoleto this year. His observations will really complement our coverage,” says Post and Courier Managing Editor Steve Mullins. “Tim is no stranger to controversy, but I don’t know anyone who could question his qualifications. He is respected worldwide as one of the most brilliant and distinguished critics on the planet. The entire arts staff is eager to work with him.”

“We had tried to get Page on our Spoleto team before, but he was unavailable. The Post and Courier has been fortunate since the untimely death of the popular Spoleto critic Robert Jones. We’ve had Blair Tindal and Josh Rosenblum – two very distinguished critics – working with us until Tim was free to come to Charleston.

“Those who knew Jones will recall that he came to Charleston for Spoleto and discovered that he couldn’t leave. His name was closely associated with the festival but we were fortunate to have him write for us year-round,” Mullins said.

“At least one local publication, the Charleston City Paper, has misreported The Post and Courier’s relationship with its previous Spoleto critics, and I’m told that resulted in unfortunate embarrassment for at least one,” Mullins said. “None since Jones has been a regular part of our annual festival coverage. We offered Blair and Josh the opportunities to come to Charleston for Spoleto and they accepted, each for a year, but we certainly did not “dismiss” or “drop” either of them, as the City Paper reported, in order to get Tim.

“This has been a needless and unfortunate controversy in the arts community drummed up by the City Paper, which refused my personal request to correct the record for Josh and Blair.

“Some in the media may relish controversy, but to set the record straight, none exists here. Neither Josh nor Blair were ‘dropped’ and ‘dismissed,’ as the City Paper reported. There were contractual obligations elsewhere that prevented us from releasing news about Tim coming to Charleston before the City Paper made these unfounded claims. I know Josh and Blair understand all of this by now and wish Tim all the best.”