. Interchanging Idioms: June 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Venezuelan-American Pianist Gabriela Montero’s Summer Season Takes Her Around Globe

Includes Debuts at San Francisco Symphony, Ravinia Festival, and Salzburg Festival

The year 2009 has been a stellar and historic one for Gabriela Montero. It started on January 20 in Washington D.C. , when she performed with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, and clarinetist Anthony McGill to a worldwide audience at President Obama’s inauguration. The excitement continues this summer as Montero makes debut performances at several of the world’s most prestigious festivals and orchestras, with performances in North America, South America, and Europe . Known for her ability to dazzle audiences in both traditional concert repertoire and with her trademark improvisations, Montero is sure to impress in a plethora of varied programs.

On Thursday, July 2, Montero makes her debut with the San Francisco Symphony. She will be the featured soloist in George Gershwin’s beloved Rhapsody in Blue under the baton of James Gaffigan, in a concert of music by American composers. True to her adventurous spirit, Montero will follow the Gershwin with an improvisation. For a theme on which to base it, she will turn to the audience for suggestions. Whatever they come up with, the results will be something not often experienced at Davies Symphony Hall!

Later in the month, Montero will travel back home to Venezuela , where she will join her fellow countryman and classical music superstar Gustavo Dudamel and the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar. The concert will take place on July 17 at the Teatro Teresa Carreño in Caracas.

In August, Montero makes debuts at two major summer music festivals. On August 15, she will appear at Austria ’s world-renowned Salzburg Festival. For this performance, she will be joined by her frequent collaborator, French cellist Gautier Capuçon, in a concert featuring music by Prokofiev, Schnittke, and Rachmaninov. Recently, the two teamed up on the EMI Classics recording Rhapsody, performing cello sonatas by Prokofiev and Rachmaninov. The San Francisco Chronicle gave the album its top rating, noting:

“For once, here’s a CD with cover art emphasizing the hot looks of the performers that actually has some bearing on the music. French cellist Gautier Capuçon and Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero have put their heads and hands together for a positively steamy romp through two great Russian cello sonatas, and the results are remarkable.”

A few days later, Montero travels back to the United States for her Ravinia Festival debut in Highland Park, IL on August 19. In this concert she is sure to surprise and delight the festival audience by playing traditional repertoire in the first half and then devoting the rest of the evening to her inimitable improvisation.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Castleton Fetival Announces Two Recitals with Principal Players of the New York Philharmonic

Recitals by Principal Flute Robert Langevin, Principal Horn Phil Myers and Principal Oboe Liang Wang added to the inaugural Castleton Festival schedule of four Britten chamber opera and two orchestral concerts

Festival Opens Friday July 3 with founder Lorin Maazel conducting a new production of The Turn of the Screw

Two recitals featuring principal players of the New York Philharmonic have been added to the schedule of the first Castleton Festival which is being held in Rappahannock County , VA July 3-19.

On Thursday, July 9 Principal Horn Phil Myers will be joined by Principal Oboe Liang Wang and Virginia Perry Lamb (piano) for a program featuring works by Telemann, Schuller, Piantoni, Britten, Piazzolla, Ravel and Reinecke. On Wednesday, July 15 Principal Flute Robert Langevin and pianist Nicholas Ong will perform a program of sonatas by Gaubert, Lowell Liebermann and Fauré. (Full program details below.)

Unlike other Castleton Festival events that are being held on founder Lorin Maazel’s 550-acre Castleton Farms property in Rappahannock County , VA , the recitals will be presented at The Theatre at Washington at 291 Gay Street , Washington , VA. (approx 7 miles from Castleton Farms.) Tickets to all Castleton Festival events are available from castletonfestival.org or by phone 540-937-4969 or toll-free 866-974-0767.

The Castleton Festival is an extension of the Castleton Residency program established by The Châteauville Foundation founded in 1997 by Maestro Maazel and his wife Dietlinde Turban-Maazel to train and mentor young musicians. Over 120 professional and student artists are currently in residence at Castleton Farms preparing for 13 performances of four Britten chamber operas and two orchestral concerts.

New York Philharmonic concertmaster, Glenn Dicterow, will perform as soloist at the Castleton Festival Orchestra concert on Saturday, July 11 performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto. All of the New York Philharmonic musicians are serving as mentors and teachers to the young musicians who are currently in residence at Castleton Farms.

In addition to the orchestra players, internationally renowned soprano Nancy Gustafson and Marlena Malas who holds faculty positions at the Juilliard School , the Curtis Institute of Music and the Manhattan School of music and chairs the vocal program at the Chautauqua Institution are providing coaching and master classes to the 50 young singers participating in the program.

The Castleton Festival is the only American festival devoted to chamber opera. The four Britten operas to be performed include the premiere of a new production of The Turn of the Screw (July 3, 4, 5) as well as productions of The Beggar’s Opera (July 5, 12, 16, 18), The Rape of Lucretia (July 10, 11, 12) and Albert Herring (July 17, 18, 19) developed during past Castleton Residencies. All productions are directed by William Kerley and the orchestras comprised of musicians from the Royal College of Music in London and the Qatar Philarmonic Orchestra. The first performance of each opera, and the performance on Saturday, July 4, will be conducted by Maestro Maazel. Other performances will be conducted by three Castleton Fellows selected by Maestro Maazel, Timothy Myers (US), Jordi Bernàcer ( Spain ) and Andreas Weiser ( Germany ), who will also take part in conducting master classes.

Two symphonic concerts will be presented by the Castleton Festival Orchestra on Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 19.

The Castleton Festival will also see the first annual series of master classes for 10 young conductors taught by Maestro Maazel and the Castleton Fellows. Two of these conducting classes will be open to the public on Wednesday, July 8 and Thursday, July 16 providing the first ever opportunity for people to observe Maestro Maazel teach. Rolex is the founding partner of the master classes.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Musicians begin First-Ever Relay run from Boston to Tanglewood - June 29

150-Mile Relay Run Across the State Begins at 2pm on June 29 at Main Entrance to Symphony Hall in Boston

On June 29, at 2 p.m., at the entrance to Symphony Hall at 301 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, BSO bassist Todd Seeber, along with 20 other musicians and staff members, as well as a life trustee, will begin a relay run, introduced by a brass fanfare and starter pistol, to the main gate of Tanglewood, to mark the opening of the 2009 season. The run will continue over 33 legs, each between 3.5 and 7 miles, and will arrive at the Tanglewood Main Gate at approximately 1:15 p.m. on June 30, in anticipation of the first BSO rehearsal at Tanglewood on July 1 and the opening night program on July 3, featuring an all-Tchaikovsky program led by BSO Music Director James Levine. Tanglewood is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra located in Lenox, MA.

A group of 26 runners—fourteen Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops musicians, several of their family members, six staff members, and a life trustee—will run the 150 miles cross state relay. Each leg will be run by one to four participants. The average run pace will be 6 miles an hour or 10-minute miles. BSO bassist Todd Seeber and BSO violinist James Cooke, both longtime runners, conceived of the Run to Tanglewood. In addition to Seeber and Cooke, BSO musicians participating in the run include principal violist Steven Ansell, associate principal violist Cathy Basrak, violist Rachel Fagerberg (along with her two children), oboist John Ferrillo, bassist Benjamin Levy, cellist Alex LeCarme, horn player Jonathan Menkis, bassoonist Richard Ranti (with his wife and two children), and principal horn James Sommerville.

The Lenox community will be invited to Tanglewood to cheer the runners on the final leg of the run from the Tanglewood Main Gate to the Tappan House on the Tanglewood grounds. For further information about the run or to sponsor a runner, visit tanglewood.org/relay.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Performs Music by John Williams

July 25th program at Oregon Ridge features scores from Star Wars, Harry Potter and more

Baltimore, Md. (June 25, 2009)— The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will end its 2009 summer season at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Md. on Saturday, July 25 at 8:00 p.m. with music from Academy Award-winning composer John Williams. Guest conductor Steven Reineke will lead the BSO in a celebration of the great contemporary film composer featuring themes from Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws and more.

John Williams’ widely successful career spans six decades. He has been the recipient of five Academy Awards, four Golden Globes and numerous Grammy Awards. Williams is most known for his film scores, in which he uses a leitmotif style to give characters individual theme songs. The two-note theme that indicates the shark in Jaws, for example, is almost universal in signifying danger. By composing the music for numerous blockbusters such as Superman, The Patriot and Harry Potter, Williams created some of the twentieth century’s most recognizable symphonic music.

The concert will open with the National Anthem, performed by 15-year-old twins, Lauren and Lindsay Satterfield, two of the winners of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 2nd Annual “O, Say Can You Sing?” competition. They were among the 50 singers, ages 8-18, who competed for the honor of singing the Star-Spangled Banner with the BSO at the opening of the Oregon Ridge concerts.

For more than 20 years, the BSO at Oregon Ridge has been a Baltimore-area summer tradition, drawing tens of thousands for family fun, music and fireworks in the wooded enclaves of the Cockeysville, Md. park. Concertgoers are invited to bring lawn chairs, blankets and picnic dinners for a full evening of entertainment with the BSO. Gates will open at 5:00 p.m. Patrons are invited to come early and enjoy dinner, drinks and desserts from local vendors. The concert begins at 8:00 p.m. and concludes with a brilliant fireworks display.

Steven Reineke, conductor
Steven Reineke will begin his tenure as music director of The New York Pops in October 2009. He will conduct the orchestra’s annual concert series at Carnegie Hall as well as tours, recordings, and nationwide telecasts, including the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular on NBC Television. New York’s only permanent, and professional, symphonic pops orchestra, The New York Pops is the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States.

During the 2009-2010 season, Steven Reineke will also begin his tenure as principal pops conductor of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra and embark on his second season as principal cops conductor of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he holds the title of associate conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, where for 13 years he has served as a composer, arranger and conducting protégé of the celebrated pops conductor Erich Kunzel.

Mr. Reineke’s recent guest conducting appearances include the orchestras of Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Baltimore and Edmonton. In 2009, he makes his Boston Pops Orchestra debut. In 2008, Mr. Reineke made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting The New York Pops 25th Birthday Gala.

As the creator of more than 100 orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Mr. Reineke’s work has been performed worldwide, and can be heard on numerous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings on the Telarc label. Mr. Reineke is also an established symphonic composer. His works Celebration Fanfare, Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Casey at the Bat are performed frequently, with the most recent performances by the New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic in July 2008.

Summer Nights: The Music of John Williams
Oregon Ridge Park, 13555 Beaver Dam Road, Cockeysville, MD 21030
Saturday, July 25, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.

Steven Reineke, conductor
Lauren and Lindsay Satterfield, vocalists

Oregon Ridge Parking is free and available on-site.

* Advance tickets are $18 for adults and $9 for children under 12 at the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000, 877.BSO.1444 or BSOmusic.org.
* If purchased at the gate, tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12.

Donald Runnicles Opens the 2009 Grand Teton Music Festival with Concerts on July 17 & 18

Runnicles Conducts Four Pairs of Concerts Over Four Weeks

Donald Runnicles, who has been Music Director of the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra since 2006, leads the first of four pairs of concerts he will conduct at Wyoming’s 48th Grand Teton Music Festival on July 17 and 18. The Scottish conductor declares: “The virtuosity and power of the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra are as breathtaking as the splendor of the Tetons themselves,” continuing, “The Grand Teton Music Festival deserves to be a compulsory stop on any music lover’s summer itinerary.” Not least because of the region’s stunning beauty, the Festival Orchestra of the Grand Teton Music Festival attracts musicians from top orchestras in the United States, Canada, and abroad. The San Francisco Festival Chorale joins the orchestra and a quartet of soloists – soprano Twyla Robinson, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, tenor Frank Lopardo, and bass Eric Owens – for Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 under Maestro Runnicles in his first pair of concerts (July 17 & 18). He and the orchestra support pianist Norman Krieger for the great Piano Concerto No. 2 by Johannes Brahms, programmed with John Adams’s delightful Harmonielehre, for the conductor’s second weekend (July 24 & 25). On Wednesday, August 5, in a program to be announced later, Runnicles will be the evening’s pianist, performing with baritone Thomas Hampson and cellist Lynn Harrell. Hampson is the Spotlight Artist for the third weekend (Aug 7 & 8), singing John Adams’s moving Wound-Dresser (to words by Walt Whitman) on a program with Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique and Aaron Jay Kernis’s heavenly Musica Celestis for strings. For the season’s grand finale (Aug 14 & 15), Maestro Runnicles conducts the world premiere of a new work for cello and orchestra by Stephen Paulus, commissioned by the Grand Teton Music Festival, with Lynn Harrell as soloist. The world premiere is preceded by Bedrich Smetana’s beloved musical portrait of his homeland’s river, “The Moldau”, and the final work is Richard Strauss’s dramatic “portrait of an alp”, the Alpine Symphony: a poetic mirroring of the grandeur surrounding the beautiful Grand Teton Music Festival.

About the Grand Teton Music Festival
Jackson Hole, WY, home to the GTMF, is the gateway to Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Tickets to all performances are available through the Grand Teton Music Festival Ticket Office by phone at (307) 733-1128 or online at www.gtmf.org, where the complete GTMF schedule is also available. All sales are final. No refunds or exchanges are permitted. All programs, artists, and dates are subject to change.

July 24 & 25 (Friday & Saturday)
8:00pm, Walk Festival Hall: $50, $10 students
Festival Orchestra Concerts: Romance & Harmony
Festival Orchestra / Donald Runnicles, conductor BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2 (Norman Krieger, piano)
ADAMS: Harmonielehre

August 5 (Wednesday)
8:00pm, Walk Festival Hall: $40, $10 students
Spotlight Concert: An Evening with …<br> Donald Runnicles, piano; Thomas Hampson, baritone; Lynn Harrell, cello
Program tba

August 7 & 8 (Friday & Saturday)
8:00pm, Walk Festival Hall: $50, $10 students
Festival Orchestra Concerts: Poetry & Fantasy
Thomas Hampson, baritone
Festival Orchestra / Donald Runnicles, conductor
KERNIS: Musica Celestis for strings
ADAMS / WHITMAN: The Wound-Dresser (Hampson)
BERLIOZ: Symphonie fantastique

August 14 & 15 (Friday & Saturday)
8:00pm, Walk Festival Hall: $50, $10 students
Closing Orchestra Concerts: A Premiere Ending
Lynn Harrell, cello
Festival Orchestra / Donald Runnicles, conductor
SMETANA: “The Moldau” from Má Vlast
PAULUS: Work for cello and orchestra (world premiere)
Commissioned by the Grand Teton Music Festival
STRAUSS: Eine Alpensinfonie

Thomas Hampson’s 2009 “Song of America ” Project Celebrates the 250th Anniversary of the First American Song

Hampson Gives Twelve “Song of America ” Recitals between July 2009 and February 2010 and Sings Orchestral Concerts with American Songs at Summer Festivals and with the New York Philharmonic

On July 9, 2009 Thomas Hampson resumes the enthusiastically acclaimed “Song of America” project he developed with the Library of Congress and introduced in the 2005-06 season. This season’s national celebration additionally commemorates the 250th anniversary of what is recognized to be the first song written by an “American” (“My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free”, composed in 1759 by Philadelphian Francis Hopkinson). Drawing on the unparalleled collection of American songs housed at the Library of Congress, Hampson will present a unique series of recitals, educational activities, exhibitions, recordings, cybercasts and interactive online resources. Some recital venues will have lobby exhibitions of facsimiles from music archives of the Library, and joint efforts with local academic and cultural partners are planned to give a wide range of listeners access to America 's history as told through its rich array of song. A dedicated web site that will develop into a large-scale database of American composers, poets/writers, their songs, texts, and links to deeper resources will be launched in conjunction with the tour dates.

Hampson’s first two “Song of America” recitals this summer are in the heartland of Minnesota and Wisconsin ( Winona , MN on July 9 and Williams Bay, WI on July 12), and then he continues to two festivals: Ravinia (July 16) and Tanglewood (July 22). Other stops on his recital itinerary are San Francisco , Los Angeles , Portland , Santa Barbara , Boulder , Princeton and Atlanta . In separate stand-alone concerts at Tanglewood and the Grand Teton Music Festival, Hampson will perform orchestral songs by Virgil Thomson, Samuel Barber and John Adams that augment the “Song of America” tour without being directly linked to it.

"The ‘Song of America’ project has become a thrilling dream come true for me: criss-crossing our country singing the songs born of our life experiences as Americans in the language of our hearts and minds. These songs - our songs - say everything about the culture we call American. And when we sing our own songs, when we see through the eyes of our poets and hear with the ears of our composers the diary of our land, those who hear us will experience the best of what freedom of thought and purpose can achieve in the creation of great art. We need these songs in our cultural landscape." - Thomas Hampson

Critical and public reaction to Hampson’s first “Song of America” tour in 2005-06 was extremely enthusiastic and included an appearance on ABC-TV’s Good Morning America. The New York Times wrote about his performance at Carnegie Hall:

“Mr. Hampson conveys the idea of an oral tradition that it is his mission to pass on, with the closed-eyed intensity of a blind poet when he is singing, and the zeal of an evangelist when he is addressing the audience about its cultural heritage.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer called Hampson’s concert at the Kimmel Center “a thoroughly exceptional recital,” noting, “No recitalist is more charming. Hampson singing in his native language almost guarantees an extra zing. … The concert was a rare chance to hear his keen intelligence articulated at close range.”

Last year Hampson was appointed special advisor to the Library of Congress for his work in American song. He is especially interested in promulgating the ways American song continues to communicate the story of the country – its history and its spiritual inner life – through texts wedded to music.

It is significant that Hampson’s “Song of America” project also acknowledges the 250th anniversary of the first song composed in America , by Francis Hopkinson, one of the first American composers. He wrote "My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free" in 1759; it was published in 1788 in a collection of songs dedicated to George Washington, a friend of the patriot author. Hopkinson, also a signer of the Declaration of Independence, as well as a lawyer, poet, inventor, painter, and judge, was not a dilettante, but rather a highly educated and cultivated man typical of the 18th century’s Age of Enlightenment.

Thomas Hampson was raised in Washington state. One of the most celebrated singers on the stage today, he has recorded dozens of America’s songs, presented a PBS special, and given master classes on American song (as he will on the coming tour) – all the while maintaining his position as a preeminent singer of opera and art songs in many languages, and as an expert on and editor of Gustav Mahler’s songs in particular. He was educated in the U.S. before moving to Europe to broaden his singing career, and has recently taken up residence in his home country once again. In the 2009-10 season, Hampson will be the New York Philharmonic’s first Artist in Residence. During the season, Alan Gilbert’s first as Music Director, Hampson will be guest soloist in three programs, tour with the orchestra to six European cities, and give a recital in Alice Tully Hall. He will also give master classes at the Juilliard School, and deliver three lectures entitled “Listening to Thought” in the orchestra’s Insight series.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Violinist/Conductor Nikolaj Znaider’s Summer Is Whirlwind of Festival Dates

Beethoven in Cleveland (July 18), Brahms in Vail with New York Philharmonic (July 24), and Tchaikovsky in Salzburg With Vienna Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel (Aug 27 & 29)

In Dresden, Znaider Will Play and Record Elgar’s Violin Concerto – Now in its Centennial Season – Before Taking it on Tour

Nikolaj Znaider – recently selected as the “Top Choice” in the July issue of Classic FM magazine’s “Top Ten Violinists” feature – starts his summer in Dresden playing Sir Edward Elgar’s magnificent violin concerto in both concerts and recording sessions with the Dresden Staatskapelle under Sir Colin Davis. Znaider is devoting a lot of time next season to honoring the centennial of the Elgar work, which was composed for and dedicated to the great Fritz Kreisler. Amazingly, Znaider will perform the concerto on the same instrument Kreisler played for the world premiere – a 1734 Guarneri “del Gesù” on loan from the VELUX Foundations and the Knud Hojgaard Foundation, and one of several instruments Kreisler owned a century ago. Rounding out the CD will be a recording of Elgar’s Violin Sonata with Palestinian pianist Saleem Abboud Ashkar joining Znaider. The recording will mark the fourth concerto disc in the violinist’s growing discography on Sony Masterworks, for which he records exclusively.

Znaider returns to the U.S. in mid-July for a series of summer festival performances. His first stop is on July 18 with the Cleveland Orchestra at their summer home, the Blossom Music Festival. Already a popular visitor in Cleveland – when he performed there this past season, the Plain Dealer raved about his “commanding, Apollonian technique” – Znaider will join the orchestra for a performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under music director, Franz Welser-Möst. Next Znaider travels to the beautiful Napa Valley and the Festival del Sole for a performance of the Brahms Violin Concerto on July 22. Two days later, on July 24, he will wrap his U.S. tour at the Bravo!-Vail Valley Music Festival, repeating the Brahms with the resident New York Philharmonic under its next music director, Alan Gilbert.

Znaider returns to Europe in late August for an exciting set of concerts at the Salzburg Festival, with the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of the incoming Los Angeles Philharmonic music director, Gustavo Dudamel. Pairing it with Stravinsky’s Sacre du printemps, Znaider takes on the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto for an evening concert on August 27 and a matinee on August 29. These will be his first performances with the orchestra since releasing his recording of the Brahms and Korngold concertos with the Vienna Philharmonic under Valery Gergiev, a disc that earned this rave from Gramophone in the July 2009 issue:

“Znaider is, for me, one of the greatest artists of his generation, and his consummate musicianship and glorious depth and range of tone are everywhere apparent, to particular effect in the Adagio of the Brahms..., where Znaider’s discreet portamenti make the most of the floating lines. ... The Korngold...should have seemed a mere bonbon after the Brahms, but such is the commitment from Znaider, Gergiev, and the orchestra that it’s a wonder from start to finish.” [Harriet Smith]

Nikolaj Znaider rounds out his summer season with appearances at the Jerusalem Intern ational Chamber Music Festival on September 1 and 2 and Northeast Germany’s region-wide Festival Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, where he will play the Brahms concerto with the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields . Finally, Znaider will end the summer in the Swiss Alps at the Ascona Festival, conducting the Lugano Orchestra in a concert featuring Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 and Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 2, which he will lead from the violin.

eighth blackbird bring signature performance of Steve Reich’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet

“With these blackbirds singing morning, noon, and in the dead of night, horizons could not but expand.” – Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times blog, “Culture Monster”

The fearless, Chicago-based, Grammy-winning sextet eighth blackbird brought its youthful exuberance, new-music pedigree, and singular chops to California’s annual, cutting-edge Ojai Music Festival. It was only the second time an ensemble had curated the famous festival, and, according to Josef Woodard in the Santa Barbara Independent, this year’s Ojai was “beautifully and creatively put together by the festival’s ‘music director,’ cherished new music ensemble eighth blackbird.” Woodard continued:

“The four-day extravaganza managed to be a compact history of what’s recent and where it came from. The festival began tranquilly on Thursday night, with the program ‘Music for a Summer Evening,’ featuring George Crumb’s piece of the same name. It all ended in a happy über-tutti heap at the end of Sunday evening’s feast-like five-hour marathon, with Louis Andriessen’s raucously brain-rattling Workers Union, the stage eventually filled with every musician brought into town for the weekend.”

A highlight of the festival was a performance of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet, which Steve Reich composed expressly for eighth blackbird last year. As the title suggests, the work requires twelve players and was given its world premiere by eighth blackbird, playing against a recording of itself on tape. For this Ojai performance, eighth blackbird invited six friends for a performance that evoked this response from new music web site Sequenza21: “Clearly, Double Sextet is something that must be added to our libraries.” We won’t have to wait much longer – in August, eighth blackbird heads into the studio to record Double Sextet for a forthcoming Nonesuch release.

eighth blackbird brought in many of its intrepid and talented friends for the festival, including pianist Jeremy Denk, composer/guitarist Steven Mackey, the ensembles Tin Hat and QNG Recorder Collective, sound sculptor Trimpin, dancers Elyssa Dole and Carla Kihlstedt, singer Lucy Shelton, and percussionists Greg Beyer, Nathan Davis, and Doug Perkins, to name but a few.

Highlights were many, but included the world premiere of Steven Mackey and Rinde Eckert’s Slide, of which the Ventura County Star wrote:

“Ojai Music Festival’s Slide has both wit and complexity... . The symbiosis between genres and styles that pervades this year’s densely programmed festival for a multitasking generation is the essence of Slide. ... A back story explained in detail in the program was almost required reading for anyone attempting to grasp the total concept, but even without that, it was possible for those with open eyes and ears to relish the wit and complexity of the work.”

Previously Unreleased Recordings from Piano Legend Vladimir Horowitz

Monumental Traversals Of The Liszt Sonata And Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition

Recordings Taken From The Horowitz Papers At Yale University Available on June 30, 2009

Sony Masterworks expands the catalogue of its Carnegie Hall Presents series with a set of previously unreleased recordings by legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz, one of the most important performers of classical music in the twentieth century. The Sony Masterworks release of The Private Collection: Mussorgsky and Liszt makes these dazzling performances, previously held in the archives of Yale University as part of Horowitz’s papers, available to the public for the first time on June 30, 2009.

This release features performances of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, from April 2, 1948, and the Liszt Sonata, from March 21, 1949, both at Carnegie Hall. Two more Private Collection releases are scheduled for the fall and early 2010; they include music by Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Haydn, and Beethoven.

In 1988, a year before his death, Horowitz donated to Yale University a treasure trove of original recordings composed of Carnegie Hall concerts and performances he gave during the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s. Horowitz had employed an engineer to make 78-rpm recordings of his Carnegie Hall concerts in this period, and he used them to review and judge his performances. Most of these mono recordings were originally contained on 12- and 16-inch acetate discs. They have been impeccably mastered, with the sound restored, from new transfers made in the Yale archives. Significant press accompanied the original announcement of the donation of these recordings to Yale, where Horowitz performed often through the years and was an assistant fellow of Silliman College.

The first volume is classic Horowitz. He is in sovereign form for the Liszt Sonata, a piece associated with him throughout his career for its incredible virtuoso display, with its cascading runs punctuated by incisive chords. As David Dubal, professor of Piano Performance at the Juilliard School, mentions in his liner notes, “His Liszt Sonata was invincible.” Dubal adds that the private collection release is “more glorious than the 1932 recording,” which is typically considered the gold standard for performance of the sonata. Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition demonstrates a different kind of fearlessness unique to Horowitz. His interpretive license as a transcriber of famous works and melodies—including his frequent encores, Variations on a Theme from ‘Carmen’ and Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever—has become a part of his legacy, but even in this context, his transcription of Mussorgsky’s Pictures is particularly bold. For Horowitz, there were no hallowed works, only great performances.

Born in Kiev in 1903, Vladimir Horowitz received early instruction on the piano from his mother, before studying with Sergei Tarnowsky and Felix Blumenfeld at the Kiev Conservatory, where he performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 for his graduation in 1919. By the time he was twenty-one, he had toured Russia and found particular success with a series of concerts in Leningrad. His American debut at Carnegie Hall on January 12, 1928 was an eagerly awaited event. He married Toscanini’s daughter Wanda in 1933 and became a U.S. citizen in 1944. Horowitz’s specialty was the stormy, fearsome literature of the Romantic era—Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Chopin—though he gave bracing performances of Clementi and Beethoven and championed the work of Scriabin and Prokofiev. He electrified audiences with his prodigious technique, from thundering fortissimos and floating pianissimos to lightning-fast octaves executed in perfect alignment. He remained a dominant force in music until his death in 1989, establishing a legacy as one of the most supremely gifted pianists of all time.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Minnesota Orchestra appoints Toronto Architects KPMB to design renewal & expansion of Orchestra Hall

Orchestra announces $14 million raised to-date on $40 million project

The Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) announced today that the award-winning Toronto studio Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects (KPMB) has been appointed to design a renewal and expansion of Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis . Internationally celebrated for its design excellence, KPMB is known for its transformative designs across many cultural projects and renovations, ranging from Chicago’s Goodman Theatre to Canada ’s National Ballet School and the Royal Conservatory of Music. The renovation of Orchestra Hall will be directed by Bruce Kuwabara, design partner, and Marianne McKenna, partner-in-charge.

The $40 million project to revitalize Orchestra Hall will focus on a dramatic reinvention of its public lobby spaces, a welcoming exterior that better connects the Hall to the vibrant city outside, a refreshed auditorium and updated backstage facilities.

“We aspire to enhance all aspects of our patrons’ concert-going experiences, improving the functionality of Orchestra Hall, modernizing our capabilities and presenting a visionary new face on Orchestra Hall for this community,” said Orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson. “We’re fortunate to own a hall located in the heart of a vital downtown, and we are presented with a superb opportunity to ensure that Orchestra Hall is a beacon in Minneapolis , drawing broad audiences and serving as a community landmark on the south end of the Nicollet Mall.”

“It is a great thing when a community comes together to support the arts in such a strong way. This revitalization of our Hall will improve the experience of our audiences and players for decades to come.” Music Director Osmo Vänskä.

KPMB was the unanimous choice of the six-member Minnesota Orchestra Architect Selection Committee and its professional advisory panel, after a seven month international search. Known for its particular expertise with renovation projects and performing arts venues, KPMB has recently designed 11 major cultural projects, eight of them performing arts facilities. The firm’s work has received over 100 awards for architectural excellence, including awards from the American Institute of Architects ( AIA ) Awards, the Chicago Athenaeum, Business Week/Architectural Record and the Royal Institute of British Architects.

“Bruce Kuwabara and Marianne McKenna offered dream credentials for the Orchestra Hall project,” said Gordon Sprenger, MOA Board member and Chair of the Architect Selection Committee. “Our committee was impressed with the way in which KPMB projects merge exquisite, stunning designs with highly adaptable, functional spaces. They have a real understanding of how the public circulates and uses performing arts spaces.

“Our intent was to hire a team who would immediately captivate the public with inspiring architecture – and who would also wow long term users with a savvy, functional design for decades to come. We found that team in KPMB,” said Mr. Sprenger.

Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects
“KPMB tactfully orchestrate an interplay between heritage and new interventions so that evolving layers of history are clearly legible, [and] new parts have an expressive dynamism.” –The Architectural Review ( UK )

"Partners in Time" the paradox of recording performance

Tasmin Little and John Lenehan join forces in “Partners in Time,” a CD of rarely heard violin and piano pieces. The subtitle is “Bach to Bartok” because they’ve chosen a collection of pieces of varying styles and eras to give a marvelous sample of seldom performed gems. With such a wide variety of styles, there is something to appeal to pretty much everyone’s taste.

Tasmin’s previous CD “Naked Violin” received rave reviews for its innovative approach, offering free downloads on the internet in an attempt to get other of these lesser known pieces heard by the general public. What a great idea. And this CD is filled with charming pieces you’re not likely to hear on any other CD. The flow of music through the ages is a wonderful concept, twisting and turning with all the paradoxes of a time machine.

The first track, a 20th century piece by Fritz Kreisler Praeludium and Allegro was originally pawned off as a work by Gaetano Pugnani, however (according to the liner notes) Fritz did this initially to gain acceptance for pieces he was performing – and it worked; he was one of the world’s leading violinists in 1936. Even after he confessed duping the public, the popularity for this piece continued. The piece begins haltingly, and a bit overdramatic for my taste. For music written in 1905, yet trying to capture the feeling of something from the 1700’s, it fails at both. There are elements that show extreme virtuosity on the part of Tasmin’s violin – and in a style that might have come from the early period. There are too many “lush” chords to truly feel like a piece from a previous era and no where near enough romantic elements to be a 20th century composition.

Bach’s Sonata in E major is next. Following on from the Kreisler piece, there is perceptibly a sense of flow into the music of Bach. However, the opening movement feels so lush and romantic it’s difficult to really enjoy the intricacy of interplay between the violin and the piano. Tasmin’s technical ability makes her clearly capable of performing all of the notes, but the overwhelming amount of reverb and intensity of the lower register in the recording forced me to play this piece on three different systems until I could really enjoy the performance (and even they weren't quite what I wanted).

The second and third movements of the Bach are a different story entirely. The interchange between the violin and piano is absolutely beautiful, perfectly matched. Tasmin and John clearly enjoy the Bach and it comes through in these center movements. By the time we arrive at the fourth movement we are prepared for quintessential Bach. From the beginning to just before the very end, this is what Bach should sound like on a modern recording, lovely in the interweaving of the parts, intricate yet delicate. If only the equalization of the CD had been a bit more precise; the piece doesn’t end as strong as it might. I believe the performance is there but the final product wasn’t engineered to get the punch it needs in the end.

You might think after all of my comments about lush tones, I wouldn’t find Mozart dry – but alas, while the technical virtuosity is evident in every note, the opening of the first movement of Mozart’s Violin Sonata no. 17 in C major failed to excite. It was as if the performers were playing the notes, but not the intent. Midway through, the movement gets much better. John and Tasmin begin to have fun with the music. But it was a slow start.

The second movement gives John a chance to shine and that he does. There is still wonderful interplay between the violin and piano, but the piano introduces all the lovely melodies, which John does with such grace as to make this movement a real joy to listen to. This feeling continues into the third movement. Tasmin and John have numerous moments where their deft touch and transference of the melodic line is superb. Again, their virtuoso performances are evident in the ability to distinguish every note, but in the end there is not enough “umph” to satisfy.

Tasmin and John found a home with Grieg’s Violin Sonata no. 2 in G major. Their sense of emotion and pathos are perfect for this piece. Any slushy sense felt before becomes perfect in this highly romantic piece. Both performers took to the first movement with such a sense of passion; every nuance of the music is clearly translated. The second movement, Allegretto tranquillo maintains the passion, with an absolutely beautiful moment just over half way ending with nearly imperceptible violin harmonics. They finish off the piece getting all the animation one could hope for. This is far and away the best piece of the CD.

The Tchaikovsky souvenir d’un liu cher Op. 42: no. 3 ‘Melodie’ doesn’t disappoint either. Again, Tasmin and John are obviously at home with romantic composers. Tasmin’s nimble touch on the violin really shines while John’s passionate expression on the piano cuts through when it is needed.

As the CD returns to the 20th century with Bartok’s Six Romanian Folk Dances we come into yet another style of music. Unlike some of Bartok’s orchestral works, which pushed 20th century music into wholly new directions, these Romanian Folk Dances are little snatches of lovely, more primal music. The first movement is technically spot on, but lacks the grit this music calls for, invoking its more primal nature. As the performers move into the 2nd piece “Braul” (Chain Dance), the sardonically sweet nature of the music is captured. The tragedy and misery of the 3rd and 4th pieces are wonderfully light and dark all at the same time. The Romanian Polka is both fun and anxious while the 6th and final dance, “Maruntel” really shows off Tasmin’s talent.

The CD ends strong and has some incredible moments. I suspect many of my complaints could be put down to engineering and not performance. Both Tasmin and John show their ability time and time again. Perhaps they are not as comfortable with Mozart as they are with Greig and yet, the 2nd and 3rd movements of the Mozart are wonderful – only falling just short in the end. Perhaps this CD takes a while to warm up to, but I listened to it on numerous different systems trying to ensure what I was hearing was really the best performance of the CD and not a fault of my stereo system - the problems remained.

Overall the CD left me wanting more from the pieces - elements that should have been and weren’t. It is unfortunate the recording process seems to have robbed this from being an outstanding album. Often a live performance doesn’t translate well to recording because there is no way to really capture the energy of the performers live and in person. However, this wasn’t a live recording, so there are ways it could have been engineered to be more than it is.

Tasmin Little deserves all the praise heaped on her. The love she has for music is evident throughout the music chosen for this album and in her virtuoso performance. John Lenehan is amazing on the piano, offering a broad spectrum of styles with tremendous accuracy and passion. Live, I suspect this duo is breath taking. This CD captures some of those wonderful moments and their partnered ability perfectly. The paradox is sometimes it doesn’t.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Günther Herbig Leads Baltimore Symphony in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, July 23-24

Internationally renowned conductor Günther Herbig will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, “Choral,” July 23 at the Music Center at Strathmore at 8:00 p.m. and July 24 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall at 7:30 p.m. These concerts will feature soprano Heidi Stober, mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, tenor Gordon Gietz and baritone Stephen Powell. This program will conclude the BSO’s 2009 Summer Nights season at the Meyerhoff and Strathmore.

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is among the most recognizable works in the classical canon. Since the composer was already completely deaf, the theatre’s music director, Michael Umlauf, conducted alongside Beethoven on the podium for its premiere in 1824. Because the musicians followed Umlauf’s count, Beethoven was still fervently conducting when the orchestra finished the piece, leading one of the musicians to turn him around to see the audience’s standing ovation. The Ninth Symphony became history in the making, as it was the first of its kind to feature a full chorus with a symphony orchestra. Beethoven was fond of his contemporary’s poetry, Friedrich Schiller, and felt his “Ode to Joy” was well suited for the Ninth Symphony chorus. The poem defines joy as a state in which “all men are made brothers.” With its uplifting lyrics and its universal recognition, the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has been used to mark historic events, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, and now serves as the European Union’s anthem.

Günther Herbig, conductor
Günther Herbig left the challenging political environment of East Germany and moved to the United States in 1984, where he has since conducted all of the top-tier orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Chicago, Boston and San Francisco symphony orchestras. Mr. Herbig has been the music director of the Detroit Symphony and the Toronto Symphony, principal guest conductor of the Dallas Symphony and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and general music director of both the Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra and Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Currently he is artistic advisor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan and principal guest conductor of Las Palmas in the Grand Canaries, Spain. Mr. Herbig has toured America several times with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and received high praise for their many performances in New York’s Carnegie Hall. In January 1989, he toured Europe with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra to critical acclaim. In 1990, he toured the Far East with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and Europe in the spring of 1991 for his 37th international orchestra tour. He has also conducted most of the major European orchestras and toured Japan, South America and Australia. He has recorded more than 100 works with East German orchestras, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Saarbrücken RSO, Toronto Symphony, Orchestre de Paris and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Key figures in his musical training include Hermann Abendroth, Hermann Scherchen and Herbert von Karajan.

Heidi Stober, soprano
Soprano Heidi Stober is rapidly gaining recognition for her beautiful voice, exquisite musicianship and exciting presence on the operatic stage. She has received high praise for performances with New York City Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera and Boston Lyric Opera. For her performance in Platée, Opera News said, “Only soprano Heidi Stober, as Folly, stood out vocally; her extended aria … was a musical and theatrical tour de force.” In the 2008–2009 season, Ms. Stober made her European debut with Deutsche Oper Berlin (DOB) as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte where she was also heard as Oscar in Un ballo in maschera and The Shepherd in a new production of Tannhäuser. She repeated The Shepherd on DOB’s tour to China, where she also performed in Der Rosenkavalier. She returned to Opera Colorado as Leila in The Pearl Fishers and made her company debut as Aminta in Il re pastore with Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Concert engagements include performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.

Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor has emerged as one of the most compelling artists of her generation. During the 2007-2008 season, she performed in Dvořák’s Moravian Duets with the National Symphony Orchestra, Peter Lieberson’s Neruda Songs with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Haydn’s Mass in the Time of War with the San Francisco Symphony, Stravinsky’s Les Noces with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Falstaff at the Santa Fe Opera.

Ms. O’Connor garners unanimous international critical acclaim for her numerous performances as Federico García Lorca in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar. She created the role for the world premiere at Tanglewood and has performed it in New York, Boston, London and Los Angeles. She reprised this role in the world premiere of the revised edition of Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera in a new staging by Peter Sellars, which also was presented by Lincoln Center.

Gordon Gietz, tenor
Gordon Gietz has performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with many orchestras including the Toronto Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Houston Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, and as part of the London Proms Concerts under John Eliot Gardiner. Mr. Gietz developed the role of Stingo in Nicholas Maw’s Sophie’s Choice at Covent Garden and reprised the role for the North American premiere in Washington, D.C. under the baton of Marin Alsop. He appeared as Tamino and Don Ottavio at the Opéra National de Paris and created the character of Yonas in the world première of Kaija Saariaho’s Adriana Mater, a role he reprised at the Barbican in London for the British première with the BBC Orchestra. He made his La Scala debut as Chevalier in Dialogues des Carmélites and returned for Robert Carsen’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Lysander, his debut role at Glyndebourne and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Other highlights include Die Nase at the Metropolitan Opera, Steva in Jenufa at the Châtelet and Madrid’s Teatro Real, Hoffmann in Marseille, Don José in Carmen in Montréal and Lille and Béatrice et Bénédict with the New York Philharmonic, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse and the Santa Fe Opera.

Stephen Powell, baritone
In 2008-2009, Mr. Powell sang Germont in La Traviata and Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Los Angeles Opera. He also sang Germont with San Francisco and New Orleans operas. He sang solo in Carmina Burana with the Phoenix Symphony and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra; Messiah with the Baltimore Symphony; Brahms’ Requiem and Dvorák’s Te Deum with the Cathedral Choral Society; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Tonhalle Orchestre Zurich; Mahler’s Das klagende Lied with The Philadelphia Orchestra; Haydn’s The Creation with the Rochester Philharmonic; Verdi’s Requiem with the Mendelssohn Club; and as Miller in Luisa Miller at the Cincinnati May Festival. He also performs in recital with his wife, soprano Barbara Shirvis, in a program entitled “American Celebration.” In 2009-2010, he sings as soloist in Carmina Burana with the Cincinnati Symphony and appears as Amonasro in Aida with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony; Brooklyn Philharmonic; at Kennedy Center, under Leonard Slatkin; Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal; Houston, Nashville, Milwaukee and Detroit symphony orchestras; Les Violons du Roy; Handel and Haydn Society; and Minnesota and Boston Baroque orchestras.

Baltimore Choral Arts Society (Tom Hall, director)
The Baltimore Choral Arts Society, now in its 43rd season, is one of Maryland’s premier cultural institutions. The Symphonic Chorus, Full Chorus, Orchestra and Chamber Chorus perform throughout the mid-Atlantic region, as well as in Washington, D.C., New York and in Europe. In the summer of 2007, Tom Hall led the Chorus in a successful, three-city tour of France including sold-out performances in Paris and Aix-en-Provence. The Chorus has also appeared at Spain’s prestigious Festival of the Costa del Sol.

For more than 10 years, WMAR Television, the ABC network affiliate in Maryland, has featured Choral Arts in an hour-long special, Christmas with Choral Arts, which won an Emmy Award in 2006. Mr. Hall and the chorus were also featured in a PBS documentary called Jews and Christians: A Journey of Faith, broadcast nationwide, and on National Public Radio’s Special Coverage in 2001. Appointed Music Director in 1982, Mr. Hall has added more than 100 new works to the BCAS repertoire. On local radio, Mr. Hall is the host of Choral Arts Classics, a monthly program on WYPR that features the Choral Arts Chorus and Orchestra, and he is the culture editor on WYPR’s Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast.

Summer Nights: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
Thursday, July 23, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.—Music Center at Strathmore
Friday, July 24, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. —Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Günther Herbig, conductor
Heidi Stober, soprano
Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano
Gordon Gietz, tenor
Stephen Powell, baritone
Baltimore Choral Arts Society Tom Hall, director

Tickets at the Meyerhoff range from $25 to $55 and at Strathmore from $35 to $55. Tickets are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Chorus Auditions for OperaColorado 2009-2010 Season

Season includes The Tales of Hoffmann, The Barber of Seville, and Tosca

DENVER, CO—Opera Colorado will be holding auditions for chorus members on Sunday, August 30th from 11 am to 4 pm at the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education in the Historic Tramway Building. Opera Colorado will be auditioning mezzo-soprano, tenor and bass voice types only. Applicants who are being considered will be contacted and given an audition time.

"The chorus is a strong part of each of Opera Colorado's productions. So many chorus members find the experience rewarding, especially the opportunity to work with acclaimed directors such as Ron Daniels and David Gately as well as singers such as Sondra Radvanovsky." - General Director Greg Carpenter
Interested parties should e-mail their resume by August 14 to George Twombly, Artistic Administrator, at gtwombly@operacolorado.org. More details can be found at OperaColorado.org.


DATE: Sunday, August 30th
TIME: Auditions 11am– 4:00 pm
WHERE: Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education in the Historic Tramway
Building at 1101 13th Street, Denver (Purple Studio on 2nd Floor)
CONTACT: George Twombly

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"Intimate Letters" letter perfect

Precise melodic movement is perhaps the best way to describe the Emerson String Quartet’s latest album “Intimate Letters” – two string quartets by Leoš Janácek and Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola by Bohuslav Martinů. Beyond being some of the most unique melodic music of the early 20th century, the performances by the Eugene Drucker, Philip Setzer, Lawrence Dutton and David Finckel make this new release an absolute joy from start to finish. The intricate, faultless ensemble playing yet again verifies the Emerson String Quartet as the premiere string quartet today.

The opening piece is Janácek’s String Quartet no. 1, written in 1923 (in just over two weeks). In the opening movement, there are numerous sections where the motivic motion of the piece is transferred from one instrument to another. While the tenor and placement of the instrument in the recording is different (allowing the clear identification of each of the four instruments), the technique by the performers is so similar the music seems to be coming from one performer and not an ensemble. The second movement opens with an even greater example of this seamless transfer between players. As the second movement becomes monophonic, the singular mindedness of the performers heightens the unified sound. I don’t believe you could get a more perfect production of the attack and decay of the notes through electronic media – they are just that good!

This first quartet by Janácek is based on the novella The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy, which describes how a man murdered his wife for his infidelity with another (kindled while playing the “Kreutzer” sonata by Beethoven). In Tolstoy version there are heavy overtones, filled with darkness and despair. For Leoš Janácek, the quartet becomes more of a tragic love story. There are sinister moments, particularly in the third movement when the violins play short elements sul ponticello. However, the overall feeling is one of longing, as if the story was taken from the female’s point of view. According to the liner notes, this piece was written while Janácek was obsessed with Kamila Stösslová, to the point he dedicated his second string quartet to her, entitling it “Intimate Letters”.

The String Quartet no. 2 “Intimate Letters” (1928) by Leoš Janácek is the longer of the two quartets. It is filled with passion, intensity and tonal color. While there are plenty of moments of light solo or duet playing, as a general rule the quartet is dense sonically. There are rich sections of polyphony and polytonality. Some of the music sounds like the polyphony Stravinsky used in Petrushka (1910). There are also moments of rich harmony giving way to sections of rapid changes in tonal color, utilizing harmonics, pizzicato, sul ponticello and the full range of the instruments. Of the two quartets, the second is the more passionate of the two (if that’s possible). Perhaps the most remarkable difference is the sense of hope that pervades the music of the second quartet. In the end, a sense of anticipation of “what’s next” as if Janácek was perhaps hoping for a response to these love letters to Kamila.

Between the two string quartets, Philip Setzer on violin and Lawrence Dutton on viola play through Three Madrigals for Violin and Viola by Bohuslav Martinů. These are not like the madrigals of English composers of the late 16th century, but rather in the Italian style by the originators of madrigals. The music has a sense of freedom from structure and melodic development the 17th and 18th century imposed on music composition. While the piece was written in 1947, it captures the beauty of this older musical style.

The performance of the madrigals yet again highlights just how mentally in tune Philip and Lawrence are when playing together. There are times when they are moving together in perfect precision, and then other moments when they move the melody from one to the other (and back again) with textbook accuracy. The music is light and joyful, played as if the two performers were frolicking about the music on a sunny patio with hardly a care – and yet the music is so accurately played its intensity comes off as effortless. This is not easy music to perform and yet it succeeds in being incredibly easy to listen to.

This latest album by the Emerson String Quartet “Intimate Letters” available on Deutsche Grammophon is a perfect example of perfection in performance by a string quartet. It is a joy to listen to music so seldom performed. It is even more thrilling to hear just how well the quartet plays together. The melodies of these composers come through with crystal clarity, regardless which performer has the melodic line. With music as intense and harmonically rich as that of Janácek, Emerson String Quartet achieve a real feat of magic.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Performs The Magical Music of Disney

Big screen images accompany musical selections from Disney classics

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform musical selections from Disney favorites on Thursday, July 16 at 8:00 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore and Friday, July 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Guest conductor Steven Reineke will lead the BSO in music from Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Mary Poppins and other Disney classics while images from these movies are projected on a screen above the orchestra.

Added features to Friday’s Meyerhoff performance include summer concessions and a costume parade. Patrons can also come early to enjoy Artscape, a free arts festival on the streets surrounding the Hall. Patrons are also encouraged to dress up as their favorite Disney characters and participate in the Disney costume parade inside the lobby. Grilled summer favorites will be available for purchase. Tickets for children aged 6-16 are half-price for both venues.

Steven Reineke, conductor
Steven Reineke will begin his tenure as music director of The New York Pops in October 2009. He will conduct the orchestra’s annual concert series at Carnegie Hall as well as tours, recordings, and nationwide telecasts, including the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular on NBC Television. New York’s only permanent, and professional, symphonic pops orchestra, The New York Pops is the largest independent pops orchestra in the United States.

During the 2009-2010 season, Steven Reineke will also begin his tenure as principal pops conductor of the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra and embark on his second season as principal cops conductor of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. In addition, he holds the title of associate conductor of the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, where for 13 years he has served as a composer, arranger and conducting protégé of the celebrated pops conductor Erich Kunzel.

Mr. Reineke’s recent guest conducting appearances include the orchestras of Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Baltimore and Edmonton. In 2009, he makes his Boston Pops Orchestra debut. In 2008, Mr. Reineke made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting The New York Pops 25th Birthday Gala.

As the creator of more than 100 orchestral arrangements for the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Mr. Reineke’s work has been performed worldwide, and can be heard on numerous Cincinnati Pops Orchestra recordings on the Telarc label. Mr. Reineke is also an established symphonic composer. His works Celebration Fanfare, Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Casey at the Bat are performed frequently, with the most recent performances by the New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic in July 2008.

Summer Nights: The Magical Music of Disney
Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.—Music Center at Strathmore
Friday, July 17, 2009 at 7:30 p.m. —Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall


Steven Reineke, conductor
Disney Classics Overture
Tarzan Suite
The Little Mermaid Orchestral Suite
Hercules Suite
Mary Poppins Fantasy
Beauty and the Beast Suite
Rescuers Down Under
Disney’s Aladdin Orchestral Suite
Mulan Suite
Hunchback of Notre Dame Suite
The Lion King Suite

Tickets at the Meyerhoff range from $25 to $55 and at Strathmore from $35 to $55, with half price tickets available for children ages 6-16. Tickets are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Anna Netrebko Sings Her First U.S. Performances as Violetta in La Traviata

She Returns to San Francisco Opera June 13

Feature Film Version of La Bohème, starring Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón, Comes to Theaters Across America in September

On June 13, Anna Netrebko returns to San Francisco Opera – where she made her US debut in 1995 in Glinka’s Ruslan and Lyudmila – to sing her first U.S. performances as Violetta Valery in Verdi’s La traviata. Maestro Donald Runnicles, a longtime colleague of Netrebko’s, conducts in his final production as Music Director of the San Francisco Opera. It has been five years since the Russian soprano last performed with the company, where she was once a young artist in the Merola Opera Program. Opera fans will recall her portrayal of the Verdi heroine in the internationally acclaimed 2005 Salzburg Festival production by Willy Decker, which is available on DVD and on CD in both highlights and full-length versions (the latter of which received a Grammy nomination in 2006). San Francisco Opera's Marta Domingo production of La traviata starring Anna Netrebko opens on Saturday, June 13, 2009, with further performances on June 16, 19, 25, and 28.

Netrebko next comes to the US in December for a new Bartlett Sher production of Les contes d'Hoffmann at the Metropolitan Opera; those not able to wait until then for their Netrebko fix will be rewarded in September when a feature film of Puccini’s La bohème, starring the Russian soprano and tenor Rolando Villazón, is released in theaters in select markets across America. The movie is directed by Oscar- and Emmy-nominated director Robert Dornhelm and was filmed in early 2008 in Vienna.

The theatrical trailer for La bohème can be seen at http://www.laboheme-derfilm.de/.

According to Emerging Pictures, the film’s distributor in the U.S., La bohème is scheduled to be shown in theaters in select cities on September 23 and 24. Deutsche Grammophon will release a highlights version of Anna Netrebko’s acclaimed recording of the Puccini opera to coincide with the film’s screenings. The full-length version of the recording, which was released in the U.S. last fall, is used as the movie’s soundtrack.

The Times, in its review of Netrebko’s full-length recording of La bohème, asserts, “It is succulently dramatic – a tribute … to the stars’ power.” The San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “[Villazón] sounds relaxed and lyrical as the young poet. His high notes in the climaxes are vibrant and attacked cleanly . . . Netrebko, too, is in excellent voice, her gleaming soprano filling out Mimi’s wistful phrases with grace and sensitivity.”
More details regarding the film’s release will be announced in the coming weeks. Updates regarding the exact schedules and locations, as well as a list of participating venues, will be posted at operaincinema.com.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Enjoy the Summer with London Philharmonic Orchestra

The London Philharmonic Orchestra's 08/09 season is all but over, and while you can catch the players later this summer at Glyndebourne Festival Opera performing such treats as Dvorak's Rusalka and Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore, you can still enjoy music in London during the summer before the 2009/10 season starts on Friday 25 September.

Spitalfields Music Summer Festival: 7-19 June 2009
This year's Summer Festival features the Royal Academy of Music, Schubert Ensemble, The Tallis Scholars, Early Opera Company and includes a jazz tinged Sunday afternoon at Wilton's Music Hall, a Family Fun Day at Ideas Store, Whitechapel and free concerts and events in Spitalfields Market.

Musicians from the Royal Academy of Music
Thursday 18 June | 7.00-10.00pm
at Christ Church, Spitalfields

Early Opera Company
Friday 19 June | 8.00-10.00pm
at Christ Church, Spitalfields

Death of Edinburgh-based composer Edward Harper prompts change in programme

Following the sad news of the death of Edinburgh-based composer Edward Harper in April, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra can now confirm that it will perform his Second Symphony in place of Symphony No 3, which was unfinished at the time of his death. Symphony No 3 ‘Homage to Robert Burns’ was scheduled to receive its world premiere as part of the Orchestra’s ‘Homecoming’ concert in Glasgow City Halls on 27 November, to be performed again the following evening in Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall.

Harper’s Symphony No 2 was premiered by the Orchestra in October 2006, recorded for Edinburgh’s independent classical music label, Delphian, in the summer of 2007 and released on CD in March 2008. The concerts in November will be the first live performances of the full symphony, as the first movement of Symphony No 2 was incomplete when the Orchestra premiered the work in October 2006. The full work was recorded once the first movement had been completed.

Symphony No 2 will be performed in a ‘Homecoming’-themed programme which also features works by composers with a Scottish connection - Kenneth Leighton’s Concerto for String Orchestra and James MacMillan’s Tryst.

As Harper had sketched out the first movement of the new symphony prior to his death, the Orchestra has asked composer Lyell Cresswell to complete the movement with a view to performing it in the 2010/11 Season.

Lyell Cresswell will pay tribute to the music of Edward Harper and Kenneth Leighton in pre-concert talks at 6:30pm in both venues, free to ticket-holders.

Single tickets for the SCO’s 2009/10 Season go on sale today.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Buzz Aldrin joins Boston Pops Tonight for Special Concert Celebrating 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

Aldrin to Narrate Special Version of Gustav Holst's "The Planets," Accompanied by video montage featuring footage from NASA and European Space Agencies.

As part of a special celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin joins Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops to narrate a special rendition of Gustav Holst’s The Planets tonight at 8 p.m. in Symphony Hall. The narration will accompany a video suite produced by Dr. José Francisco Salgado, which integrates awe-inspiring NASA and European Space Agency footage with historical illustrations from the Adler Planetarium’s Collection of Works on Paper.

This evening is part of MIT’s Giant Leaps Symposium that will bring together many of the leaders of the Apollo mission to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. For more information about the symposium visit http://apollo40.mit.edu/symposium/agenda.html.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Premiere 2nd Season of "Keeping Score" PBS Television Series in October

The Keeping Score Project Also Features Expanded Interactive Companion Web Site, National Radio Series, Home Video on DVD and Blu-Ray, and K-12 Education Program

The San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas premiere the second season of the Keeping Score television series on PBS in October 2009 (check local listings). Keeping Score is the San Francisco Symphony’s national project to make classical music more accessible and meaningful to people of all ages and musical backgrounds, and a key component of its almost century-long history of music education.

More than five million viewers tuned into the first season of Keeping Score on PBS in November 2006 with episodes on Ludwig van Beethoven, Igor Stravinsky, and Aaron Copland. Keeping Score Season 2 features three new programs that explore the music and stories behind Hector Berlioz’s symphonic love letter Symphonie fantastique; Charles Ives’s sonic portrait of New England in his Holidays Symphony; and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5, a work that may have saved his life. These three new documentary programs and live concert programs are offered in high definition and surround-sound and are designed to engage and entertain, regardless of the viewer’s musical background. The programs work in tandem with an interactive website, http://www.keepingscore.org/, a national radio series, and a national model education program for K-12 teachers that helps them integrate classical music into core subjects.

“The second season of Keeping Score takes the series to another level,” said Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony. “The cinematic qualities and visual storytelling in these programs give us even more meaningful connections to the music of Hector Berlioz, Charles Ives, and Dmitri Shostakovich, three of my favorite composers. Coupled with the interactive companion web site, these new shows will give people a truly unique way to experience and enjoy the music.”

“Keeping Score continues to be one of the great success stories for this Orchestra,” said John D. Goldman, President of the San Francisco Symphony. “Millions of people all over the globe are touched by the captivating documentaries, the unprecedented production qualities of the live performance programs, the unique interactivity the web site provides, and arts integration in K-12 classrooms that begins to instill a lifelong love of music, which is the key to its long-term success. Keeping Score touches all of these levels and all in the most meaningful ways I can imagine.”

Keeping Score Season 2 presents three one-hour documentary-style episodes and two live concert programs that begin airing nationally on PBS stations in October 2009 (check local listings). In Keeping Score Season 2, Michael Tilson Thomas and the musicians of the San Francisco Symphony explore the music and stories of Hector Berlioz, Charles Ives and Dmitri Shostakovich, composers who each struggled with musical language as a unique expression of their ideas. Shot in a variety of locations throughout the world, the Keeping Score programs offer audiences a unique journey into the lives and music of the featured composers. The programs are presented nationally by KQED Public Media in San Francisco.

Episode One: With Symphonie fantastique, Hector Berlioz confessed his unique artistic vision. It was a symphonic love letter, part psychological self-portrait, part fantasy about the life of an artist, and it expressed his passion for a beautiful woman. Michael Tilson Thomas searches for the inspirations of Berlioz and his music, from his roots in the French Alps to the theater in Paris where the work was premiered, and reveals the musical secrets of this greatest of Romantic symphonies.

Episode Two: American composer Charles Ives created his Holidays Symphony as a haunting sonic portrait of New England at the turn of the 20th century, at turns sentimental and chaotic. Michael Tilson Thomas explores the riddle of Ives the loyal son and businessman versus Ives the musical maverick who made listeners confront their understanding of what music could be. Filmed on location in New England and New York City.

Episode Three: The Fifth Symphony of Dmitri Shostakovich is the story of a fall from grace and redemption. Shostakovich was the golden boy composer until, virtually overnight, his patriotism was questioned and condemned in the most public way possible. Written in 1937 in Stalinist Russia, the Fifth Symphony marked his triumphant return. But the question remains: what did the composer mean to say with this enigmatic music? In scenes filmed in St. Petersburg and Moscow , Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony offer clues to unlocking Shostakovich’s musical secrets and make the case for how this symphony may have saved his life.

The Keeping Score web site, http://www.keepingscore.org/, is designed to give people of all musical backgrounds an opportunity to explore signature works by composers Hector Berlioz, Charles Ives, and Dmitri Shostakovich in depth, and at their own pace. www.keepingscore.org offers an interactive area for each composer, with clues and context to illuminate the musical mysteries presented by the television episodes. The interactive audio and video explores the composers’ scores and pertinent musical techniques as well as the personal and historical back stories. The site is designed to particularly appeal to high school, college and university music appreciation students and their teachers, and its interactive learning tools offer a unique and in-depth online learning experience. The redesigned site includes all of the groundbreaking and acclaimed interactives and content of the existing KeepingScore.org website, with the material on composers Beethoven, Stravinsky, Copland and Tchaikovsky integrated in a new and more user-friendly way. The revamped site also includes a new historical timeline that takes users deeper into the seven individual composers’ political, social, and cultural milieus as well as downloadable lesson plans created by teachers who’ve experienced the Keeping Score Education program. The new material on http://www.keepingscore.org/ will launch in June 2009.

Keeping Score’s new radio series debuts next winter with thirteen episodes revealing thirteen musical revolutions: composers, compositions or musical movements that changed the way people heard, or thought about, music. Each program will explore the historical backdrop and musical precursors to the revolutionary change, as well as examine the aftershock and the lasting influence of that moment in music history. Host Suzanne Vega returns to join Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, collaborators on the Peabody Award-winning The MTT Files and American Mavericks radio programs, some of the most listened-to classical music programs of all time.

Designed to help students learn through the arts, the Keeping Score Education program builds on the themes and concepts from the Keeping Score television series. The model program offers K-12 teachers training, materials, and support to integrate classical music into their classrooms, including core subjects such as science, math, English, history and social studies. Participating teachers from partner school districts receive training by San Francisco Symphony musicians, educational staff and a variety of arts educators. The Keeping Score Education program is expanding this season to include San Francisco Unified School District middle and high school teachers, in addition to existing partner sites in Fresno , Sonoma and Santa Clara counties; Flagstaff , Arizona ; and the Oklahoma A+ Network statewide program. An integral part of the program is the annual Keeping Score Summer Teacher Institute, this year scheduled for June 17-21, 2009, a multi-faceted professional development experience that builds teachers’ understanding of both music and integrated curriculum design. The Keeping Score community engagement program aims to further participation in, and exposure to, classical music through distribution of specially prepared Keeping Score materials and partnerships with schools, arts organizations and presentations in community and cultural centers. To learn more about the Keeping Score education and community programs, please visit http://www.keepingscore.org/education.

Keeping Score Season 2 will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray High Definition formats through SFS Media, the San Francisco Symphony’s own label. Each of the three DVDs features the documentary episode coupled with the concert performance of the work, with Michael Tilson Thomas leading the San Francisco Symphony. The concert performances are captured in full HD at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco , with outstanding production values. The San Francisco Symphony is the first orchestra to distribute its product on Blu-Ray disc. DVD sales begin this fall at the San Francisco Symphony’s online store at http://www.shopsfsymphony.org/ and retail outlets worldwide. After the fall 2009 broadcast, PBS will release Keeping Score Season 2 through its digital distribution channels, including iTunes, Zune, and others. Keeping Score Season 1 will be available on download-to-own channels in the fall shortly before Keeping Score Season 2 premieres on PBS in October.

Lead funding for Keeping Score is provided by the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund with generous support from Nan Tucker McEvoy, The James Irvine Foundation, Marcia and John Goldman, Ray and Dagmar Dolby Family Fund, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, William and Gretchen Kimball Fund, Lisa and John Pritzker, Mrs. Alfred S. Wilsey, Koret Foundation Funds, Lynn and Tom Kiley, Anita and Ronald Wornick, Roselyne Chroman Swig, the Acacia Foundation, Margaret Liu Collins and Edward B. Collins, The Bernard Osher Foundation, Mary C. Falvey, Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Jeffrey P. Hays, David and Janyce Hoyt, and others.

About The San Francisco Symphony
Founded in 1911, the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) has a long and distinguished history marked by artistic excellence, educational initiatives, acclaimed recordings and multimedia projects, and innovative programming. Beginning their fifteenth season together this fall, Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the SFS have formed a musical partnership hailed for its revitalization of the classical music experience. The first Orchestra to feature national symphonic radio broadcasts in 1926, the SFS remains a leader in the field of electronic media with endeavors such as the Grammy Award-winning Mahler recording cycle for the Orchestra’s own SFS Media label on SACD, Minnesota Public Radio’s Peabody Award-winning American Mavericks and The MTT Files radio series, and the Emmy Award-winning PBS/KQED Public Television production of the SFS' Sweeney Todd in Concert. The Orchestra’s commitment to education and its community, begun in 1919 with the development of Concerts for Kids, is today recognized nationally and internationally for programs including Adventures in Music, the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, Music for Families, and www.sfskids.com. For additional information, please visit http://www.sfsymphony.org/.

About KQED
KQED is a service of Northern California Public Broadcasting, Inc. (NCPB). KQED Public Television, the nation’s most-watched public television station, is the producer of local and national series such as QUEST; Check, Please! Bay Area; Jacques Pépin: More Fast Food My Way; and Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures. KQED’s digital television channels include 9HD, Life, World, Kids and V-me, and are available 24/7 on Comcast. KQED Public Radio (88.5 FM in San Francisco and 89.3 FM in Sacramento), home of Forum with Michael Krasny and The California Report, is the most-listened-to public radio station in the nation with an award-winning news and public affairs program service. KQED Education Network brings the impact of KQED to thousands of teachers, students, parents and the general public through workshops, community screenings and multimedia resources. KQED Interactive offers video and audio podcasts and live radio stream at www.kqed.org, featuring unique content on one of the most-visited station sites in public broadcasting.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Grammy Award-Winning Pianist Yefim "Fima" Bronfman has busy Summer Schedule

Opens Tanglewood (JULY 3), Ravinia (JULY 7) and Saratoga (AUG. 5), and is Artist Étoile at Lucerne Festival

“A marvel of digital dexterity, warmly romantic sentiment and jaw-dropping bravura” – Chicago Tribune

The Grammy Award-winning pianist Yefim “Fima” Bronfman is set to embark on a juggernaut tour of American and European music festivals this summer. The beloved pianist has been chosen as the opening soloist for the Tanglewood (July 3), Ravinia (July 7) and Saratoga (August 5) festivals, and as Artist Étoile for the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland . Bronfman will also appear at Waldbühne for a televised concert with the Berlin Philharmonic (June 21), and on tour in Europe with conductor/composer Esa-Pekka Salonen for performances of his Piano Concerto, which was written for Bronfman. “This is a summer that I have been planning and looking forward to for a long time,” the pianist comments. “I will be visiting top festivals around the world and collaborating with many of my favorite conductors and orchestras. It’s a summer I will remember for many years to come.”

Before beginning his tour of American music festivals, Bronfman will appear at Berlin ’s stunning outdoor venue Waldbühne for a televised concert with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic. Upon his return, Bronfman is featured at the opening night of the Tanglewood Festival with Maestro James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. (He will return to the festival on August 14 to play Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Michael Tilson Thomas on the podium.) Bronfman will also be the featured soloist at the opening night of the Ravinia Festival (July 7), playing Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with James Conlon. Before playing the opening-night concert of the Saratoga Festival on August 5, Bronfman will make stops at the Aspen Music Festival (August 2) and in Tel Aviv with Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic (July 10-17).

Bronfman tours Europe with Salonen Concerto
Bronfman and Esa-Pekka Salonen will continue to perform the conductor/composer’s Piano Concerto throughout the summer. The concerto was written for Bronfman and premiered with the New York Philharmonic in 2007. Since then, Bronfman has performed the work nearly a dozen times throughout North America and Europe , including a recording for Deutsche Grammophon with the composer conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. This summer, the pair will perform the piece at Scotland ’s Edinburgh Festival and in the composer’s native country for the first time at the Helsinki Festival. Maestro Salonen and Bronfman will also give the piece its Swiss premiere as part of the pianist’s Artist Étoile residency at the Lucerne Festival.

Bronfman is Artist Étoile at the Lucerne Festival
Bronfman will end the summer with an impressive two-week residency at the Lucerne Festival. During his residency as Artist Étoile, Bronfman will perform Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Zubin Mehta and the Vienna Philharmonic, Berg’s Kammerkonzert with Pierre Boulez and the Academy Orchestra, and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto with the composer conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra. “The orchestral concerts include what I feel to be the perfect pairing of an orchestra, conductor and repertoire,” explains Bronfman. “Maestro Mehta and I have done countless concerts together, but Brahms with him and Vienna is a dream, and having Maestro Boulez for the Berg is a personal triumph for me. He was conducting the first time I heard the piece, and I was completely overwhelmed by that performance. For the last 20 years I have wanted to play that piece with Pierre Boulez. Thanks to the Lucerne Festival, that is now possible.”

The other two concerts Bronfman will perform at the festival are a solo recital and a chamber music concert; both will feature music by the young German composer and clarinetist Jörg Widman. On his solo recital, Bronfman will play the European premiere of Widman’s Eleven Humoresques, which was commissioned for him by Carnegie Hall and premiered there last May. Widman will join Bronfman as a performer in the August 22 chamber music recital.

Walden School Announces 2009 Festival Concert Series


Composers-in-Residence Joan Tower and Stephen Jaffe Lead Composers Forums
Approximately 100 “First Performances” Presented By Young Composers Over Five-Week Summer Festival

The Walden School 2009 Festival Concert Series features 16 public events presented free of charge June 30 through August 7. Musical compositions and presentations by Composers-in-Residence Joan Tower and Stephen Jaffe are featured alongside world premiere compositions by Walden students and faculty members. The Festival Concert Series is highlighted by distinguished guest artists including the Brooklyn-based M Shanghai String Band, led by Matt Schickele; contemporary music ensemble and composers collective Wet Ink, who will present 8 world premieres by emerging composers; folk music trio Cross Country; preeminent organist and alumnus John Weaver; The Walden School Players, featuring contemporary music performers Claire Chase, Peter Evans, Nathan Davis, Meighan Stoops, Jane Chung, Greg Hesselink and Steven Beck; and acclaimed Baltimore chorus director Leo Wanenchak leading The Walden School Chorus in a concert program featuring works by Benjamin Britten. Full program information is included in a detailed listing at the conclusion of the release. The Walden School joins with Monadnock Music in a new collaboration, co-presenting two concerts during the Festival.

“What’s unusual and wonderful about Walden is not only the sheer number of world premieres that occur during the summer – often as many as 100 new pieces over the course of 5 weeks – but also that each one of this year’s concerts feature performers who are also composers. There’s really an amazing creative ambiance when you get composers, performers, teachers, guest artists and audience members all coming together to rehearse, perform, listen to and then discuss new music across a huge range of genres, from contemporary classical chamber music, to choral, jazz, experimental and bluegrass old-time string band music.” - Seth Brenzel, executive director of The Walden School

Each summer approximately 50 young musicians from all over the United States and the world travel to the beautiful Monadnock region of New Hampshire to participate in The Walden School’s Young Musicians Program on the beautiful campus of the Dublin School; this summer, students will come from the Czech Republic, France, China, Singapore, Canada, as well as from 13 different US states and Guam. Serving young people through its acclaimed summer camp program and music educators through its nationally recognized Teacher Training Institute, The Walden School’s mission focuses on building creativity and personal expression through a unique and respected curriculum centered on comprehensive musicianship, musical improvisation and composition. “Tucked away in New Hampshire’s Monadnock hills, a summer camp like no other teaches kids as young as 9 to make magical sounds – not songs sung around campfires, but new American music,” wrote the Associated Press. “Without fanfare, The Walden School takes musically inclined children for five weeks each summer and gently guides them to be composers.”

Throughout its nearly 40-year history, The Walden School has served hundreds of young musicians including many who have achieved international recognition for their work in diverse fields. Distinguished alumni of both Walden and its predecessor program, the Junior Conservatory Camp, include conductor Hugh Wolff, actor/musician Lance Reddick, vocalist Hilary Kole, jazz pianist Cyrus Chestnut, improvisational pianist Marilyn Crispell, and Matthew Hunter, the first North American string player to join the Berlin Philharmonic. “Walden was a tremendous and inspiring contact, such a positive force, and not just for the sake of music,” stated Matthew Hunter, Berlin Philharmonic violist. “I want to congratulate you and the school for being able to continue this spirit that I so amply felt. The many details, the 'word of the day,' the singing on the mountain's peak-- it was just moving. I felt a sense of community, of shared purpose and a contagious idealism.”

Ms. Tower and Mr. Jaffe join a distinguished list of eminent composers, performers, and visiting teaching artists who have been in residence at The Walden School including Christopher Theofanidis, The Peabody Trio, Bright Sheng, the Alexander String Quartet, Jennifer Higdon, Pauline Oliveros, Martin Bresnick, James Mobberley, Vance George, Chen Yi, Russell Pinkston and Alice Parker, among others.

For further information, please visit The Walden School online at www.waldenschool.org; phone (603) 563-8212; email concerts@waldenschool.org during the Festival for more information.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Marin Alsop Renews Contract for Five Years with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra today announced Music Director Marin Alsop will continue her commitment to the Orchestra with the signing of a five-year contract that extends from September 2010 to August 2015. Maestra Alsop, who began her acclaimed tenure as the Orchestra’s 12th music director in September 2007, has been recognized nationally and internationally for her innovative programming, multiple new recordings with the BSO and her efforts in community outreach and education, most notably the creation of OrchKids, a new after-school instrumental instruction program in West Baltimore modeled after Venezuela’s El Sistema.

Upon signing the contract, Marin Alsop commented, “My work so far with the Baltimore Symphony has been the thrill of a lifetime. Our progress over the past two seasons is the epitome of collaboration. The dedication and talent of the BSO musicians, the business oversight and support from the board, the vision and unbridled energy from our management and staff, and the community’s enthusiasm and imagination for music—it has taken all of these ingredients to bring the BSO to this level of music-making. I cannot imagine leading a more exciting and progressive orchestra.”

BSO Board chairman Michael Bronfein commented, “The board is absolutely delighted that Marin has renewed her contract with the BSO through 2015. My fellow board members and I have been impressed and moved by her tremendous leadership as an artist and as a humanitarian. In the time she’s been here, Marin has done more than just revitalize the organization and deliver unforgettable performances; she has renewed the Orchestra’s purpose, challenging us to deepen the long-term impact we as an Orchestra have in the communities we serve by making music more accessible and relevant to everyone’s life.”

“Marin Alsop is a leader at every level of the organization.From the moment she assumed the music directorship, you couldn’t help but feel her energy, her spirit and passion for the music. She exudes innovation with every project she undertakes, be it on stage or off. She is that rare music director who generously gives as much to the improvement of the community and quality of life of our audiences as she gives to the music on stage.” - BSO President & CEO Paul Meecham

Community Relevance
In May 2008, under Music Director Marin Alsop’s direction and in cooperation with the Baltimore City Public Schools, the BSO announced the launch of a major education initiative, OrchKids, an after-school music program designed to effect social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City’s low-income neighborhoods. OrchKids, inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, is a cornerstone of the BSO’s vision to expand the Orchestra’s relevance within the city’s broad and diverse community. To effectively implement OrchKids and to create a network of community support, the BSO undertook the program in partnership with several key local organizations, including the Baltimore City Public School System, The Peabody Institute, Arts Everyday, Baltimore School for the Arts and The Family League. At the time the program launched, Marin Alsop committed $100,000 of her own money, structured as a four-to-one matching gift, intended to motivate and inspire others in the community to provide additional support to sustain the OrchKids program through the critical first few years of implementation and growth.

The BSO, under Marin Alsop’s leadership, has become a catalyst for bringing together diverse organizations that work together to strengthen the arts in Maryland. Each partnership plays a vital role in the advancement of arts and education programming—for the BSO and for other community organizations. In January 2007, the BSO partnered with Peabody Institute to perform Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, which featured members of the Peabody Symphony Orchestra performing alongside the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Hailed by The Washington Post as “thunderous, full-throttle, rip-roaring performance,” the BSO released this live-concert recording into downloadable distribution in April 2007 on iTunes, which quickly became the number-one classical music download.

Marin Alsop is dedicated to developing and championing young and emerging conductors. Beginning in the 2007-2008 season, the BSO with Music Director Marin Alsop and the Peabody Institute with esteemed faculty member and conductor Gustav Meier, in partnership with the American Symphony Orchestra League, launched the Conducting Fellows Program, a unique two-year program designed to provide exceptionally talented conductors in the early stages of their careers an opportunity to hone their skills before assuming a role with a professional orchestra. This marked the first partnership of its kind in the country between a conservatory and a symphony orchestra. Joseph F. Young of South Carolina was the first recipient of the BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellowship. Beginning in the 2009-2010 season, Ilyich Rivas, 16, a talented young Venezuelan-born conductor will assume the role as the second recipient of the BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellowship. Maestra Alsop also frequently gives of her time to conduct masterclasses for conductors at Peabody Institute, in partnership with Gustav Meier.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra welcomed Mei-Ann Chen to the BSO conductor roster in the 2009-2010 season as assistant conductor and League of American Orchestras Conducting Fellow. Ms. Chen’s most recent engagement was as assistant conductor of Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Robert Spano. This young conductor received the Taki Concordia Conducting Fellowship (TCCF) in 2007. Founded by Marin Alsop in 2002, the TCCF is a unique opportunity for young women conductors to immerse themselves in the art and business of performing classical music under the leadership of Marin Alsop.

The BSO has experienced a resurgence of recording activity under Maestra Alsop’s leadership. The BSO, under the direction of Music Director Marin Alsop recorded Dvořák's Symphony No. 9, "From the New World" and Symphonic Variations on the Naxos label in February 2008. BBC Music Magazine nominated the album as the best new classical CD of the year, praising, "…there's no sentimentalising or excessive deference to the lyrical moments to rob the work of its essential freshness… It is rare to be able to say that a performance forces one to listen to a work anew, but this is exactly what Alsop's reading achieves. Excellently recorded… this is a superb issue all around."

In June 2006, the BSO collaborated with then-Music Director Designate Marin Alsop and legendary violinist Joshua Bell to record John Corigliano's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, "The Red Violin." Based on the Academy Award-winning score for the film The Red Violin, the concerto is the completion of a dramatic piece requiring technical virtuosity and deep expressiveness. Since its world premiere with the Orchestra in September 2003, this BSO co-commission has earned the distinction of being the most performed concerto composed in the last quarter century. It was the BSO's first major label recording project in eight years and was released on the Sony/BMG Classical label in September 2007.

A highlight of the 2008-2009 season, the BSO recorded Leonard Bernstein’s Mass in October 2008 and plans to release the work on the Naxos label in August 2009.