. Interchanging Idioms: July 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Caroline Goulding Releases Debut Album with Works by Corigliano, Vieuxtemps, Kreisler, Schoenfeld and Gershwin

Release on Telarc out August 25th
Launch Concert at (Le)Poisson Rouge in New York September 8th

“Here was freshness, confidence, radiant technique and perfect optimism wrapped in sparkling beauty.” -- Alan Fletcher, president and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School

New York, NY – At age sixteen, violinist Caroline Goulding combines fearless technique and innate artistry with an unadulterated joy for music-making that is unmatched by most violinists of any age. In her young career, she has already graced the stage with prestigious orchestras such as The Cleveland Orchestra and the Detroit Symphony. She has won the coveted first prize of the Aspen Music Festival’s Concerto Competition (at age thirteen) and has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, the MARTHA show hosted by Martha Stewart and been featured on National Public Radio’s From The Top as well as From the Top: Live at Carnegie on PBS Television.

Caroline Goulding joins forces with pianist and From the Top impresario Christopher O’Riley in her debut album to be released on Telarc on August 25th. In this recital program Caroline performs several works by American composers, composers writing in this country and pieces inspired by uniquely American idioms. She offers a gripping account of the Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer John Corigliano’s Red Violin Caprices, crafted from his score to the 1998 film. “Caroline Goulding is a remarkable young artist,” said John Corigliano upon hearing her performance of the Caprices. “When I heard her recording of my Red Violin Caprices, I wondered why I had never heard of this very special performer. Now I know - she's 16. But at that age, she gives a totally individual interpretation to my music. She is so musical and the technique is so brilliant. I think she will shortly become a very famous young woman, and only hope she gives my other violin works a glance.”

Souvenir d’Amerique is a dazzling fantasy on the perennial American Revolutionary era favorite Yankee Doodle written in 1844 by Belgian violinist Henri Vieuxtemps. Fritz Kreisler’s delightful miniatures were written in the period from 1917-26 after Kreisler settled in the United States. American composer Paul Schoenfield’s Four Souvenirs from 1989 comprise of an energetic and elegant Samba, a sultry Tango, a soft-shoe number honoring Tin Pan Alley, and a rambunctious Square Dance. Jascha Heifetz’s 1944 transcriptions of selections from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess both respectfully retain the substance and the character of the vocal originals but suit Heifetz’s virtuosic style, with frequent double-stops, quickly shifting registers, and jazzy flourishes between phrases.

Since the age of eight, Caroline Goulding has studied at the Ceilidh Trail School of Celtic Music on Cape Breton Island, the easternmost region of Canada’s Nova Scotia, and incorporates the distinctive Gaelic styles of fiddling and step dancing into this recital, joined by pianist Janine Randall. Caroline Goulding was born and raised in the small boating town of Port Huron in eastern Michigan, the child of two special education teachers.

She began studying the violin when she was three years old, under the tutelage of Julia Kurtyka, and continues her studies with renowned violin pedagogue Paul Kantor at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has performed with The Cleveland Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Cleveland Pops Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops, the Buffalo Philharmonic, Sinfonia Gulf Coast, Atlantic Classical Orchestra, and Louisville Youth Orchestra, among others. She has attended the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Starling-Delay Symposium and the Interlochen Center for the Arts.

Through the generous efforts of the Stradivari Society of Chicago, Caroline became the recipient of an A&H Amati violin, which dates back to 1617 and was once owned by Beethoven’s former patrons, the Lobkowicz family. Caroline shares this honor with such artists as Joshua Bell, Midori, Gil Shaham, Sarah Chang, and Vadim Repin. Caroline has collaborated with artists such as Anton Nel, Umberto Clerici, and Béla Fleck.

This season, Caroline Goulding starts her freshman year at the Cleveland Institute of Music while maintaining a busy performance schedule with engagements at the Lexington Bach Festival, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the International Symphony Orchestra, the Extremadura Symphony Orchestra (Badajoz, Spain) and the Boise Philharmonic.

Caroline Goulding will also be heard on a forthcoming Telarc release produced in association with From the Top – the preeminent showcase for young musicians now celebrating their 10th anniversary season – and the Cincinnati Pops under Erich Kunzel. This new album (also released on August 25th) is entitled From the Top at the Pops and features some of the brightest young artists to appear on From the Top’s radio program. Caroline performs the third movement from Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings in D minor. For more information on this release, please visit www.fromthetop.org.

On September 8th at 7:30, Caroline Goulding and Christopher O’Riley will perform selections from Caroline’s debut CD and From the Top at the Pops in a concert celebrating the release of both recordings to be held at New York’s (Le) Poisson Rouge.

TO Counter Economic Crisis Baltimore Symphony Musicians agree to Pay Cuts and Furloughs

Management, Board and Musicians Work Together to Strengthen Orchestra's Financial Position

July 30, 2009 (Baltimore, MD)—In recognition of significant shortfalls in revenues, the musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the BSO Board of Directors have approved concessions to the players’ current three-year contract, originally settled in August 2008. There will be two weeks of voluntary furlough in August 2009 and three additional weeks of furlough and a pay cut in the 2009-2010 season. The combination of a pay cut and furloughs will result in a 12.5% reduction in annual salary. Several positions in the orchestra will remain vacant and pension contributions will be reduced. The total savings amount to $1.9 million.

Against a backdrop of two balanced budgets in prior years, the 2008-2009 season has been deeply affected by the prolonged economic downturn. While subscription ticket sales, which had come in before September 2008, exceeded budget by 4.3%, single ticket revenues declined 21%. Corporate, foundation and government funding all experienced decreases, and even though the total number of individual donors in the 2008-2009 season is projected to rise by an impressive 26%, individual gift amounts are on average 17% down. Significantly, the BSO’s endowment has decreased 21% in value since August 31, 2008. As a result, the fund is below its historic dollar value (the “waterline”), and the endowment will not be making its projected 5% gift of $2.7 million.

Earlier in the year, the BSO had already proactively made reductions to administrative and artistic expenses including layoffs, furloughs, position eliminations and repertoire changes. Additional pay cuts or furloughs for staff are anticipated for the coming season. These earlier adjustments and all the changes announced today enable the BSO to go forward in the 2009-2010 season with a balanced budget of $24.9 million, which is 13% smaller than the 2008-2009 budget.

The new contract concessions include the $1 million in savings and donations voluntarily offered in April by the BSO musicians as a challenge designed to raise an additional $2 million in new and increased gifts for the Orchestra by the end of the 2009-2010 season. This unprecedented fundraising campaign, “Music Matters: Play Your Part," has raised commitments to date of over $750,000 and has seen an expansion of the BSO’s presence in the community with performances by BSO musicians in local shopping malls, outdoor parks, Baltimore’s Pier 5 and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. Music Director, Marin Alsop, made a lead gift of $50,000 towards the campaign.

BSO Board Chairman Michael Bronfein commented, "Our musicians, staff and Marin Alsop have demonstrated their extraordinary leadership and commitment to the long-term health and fiscal stability of the organization. Over the past three years, the BSO has done nothing but thrive and right its course; unfortunately, the economy has not. I am proud to lead an organization that can and will always work together—musicians, board and the staff—to figure out a solution that will maintain our solvency and artistic quality in good and bad economic times. The sacrifices made by the BSO this year to stay on solid ground are to be applauded and supported, and enable us to fulfill our mission to provide access to symphonic music to all Maryland citizens and exposure of the musical arts to our children regardless of means or status. Now more than ever, we ask the community to help us achieve these goals by contributing to our “Music Matters” campaign." Laurie Sokoloff, BSO piccoloist and Chair of the Players Committee, added, “I have never been more proud to be a member of the Baltimore Symphony. We in the orchestra are dedicated to our art, and are making financial sacrifices in order to continue to provide great symphonic music to the State of Maryland. The Music Matters campaign has brought us closer to our audiences than ever before, and their support and enthusiasm has heartened and inspired us beyond measure. We have proven our ability to be responsive to the needs of the organization and to preserve our identity as one of the world’s great orchestras.”

“The economic downturn has caused us to make difficult decisions in order to secure the future of the organization,” says BSO President and CEO Paul Meecham. “Thankfully, the BSO approached this recession from a position of strength, reporting a balanced budget for two consecutive years. The musicians’ and staff’s willingness to make further necessary sacrifices will strengthen our cash position moving forward and reinforce the Association’s intention to deliver a balanced budget in FY10. Because all constituencies of the organization are working together, we are proud to still be able to deliver a full season of the quality programming and notable guest artists that our patrons expect of their Baltimore Symphony.”

Despite the budget cuts, the BSO projects continued success on several fronts. On August 25, 2009, the Naxos label will release the much-anticipated recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, of which the Financial Times reported, “…[Alsop] inspires a reading of joyous finesse.” The cover story in the 2009 July/August issue of Symphony Magazine (the trade publication of the League of American Orchestras) touted the Baltimore Symphony’s dramatic turn-around in recent years from multi-year operating deficits and empty concert halls to financial stability and adventurous programming performed for full houses.

“The BSO’s turnaround is not only in the fiscal front,” reports Symphony Magazine, “but includes a fresh emphasis on communication and transparency, as well as on connecting with new audiences in the orchestra’s hometown.” Necessary and proactive cost reductions now will ensure that the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s positive momentum will continue into the future.

The Nash Ensemble L'Invitation au Vouage: Exploring the music of France & Spain

The Nash Ensemble will take concertgoers on a unique journey through the music of France and Spain during its 2009/2010 season. The Nash programmes reflect the connections between the musical traditions of two countries in eleven concerts presented throughout the season. The series takes its name from Duparc’s song L’invitation au voyage – and offers a journey to a land of “order and beauty, luxury, calm and delight”.

French composers such as Chabrier, Debussy and Ravel wrote some of the finest “Spanish” music; the Spaniards - Granados, Falla and Turina all spent formative years in Paris. Works by these major figures are augmented by masterpieces ranging from Berlioz and Saint-Saëns to Fauré and Poulenc.

The award-winning Nash Ensemble is joined by Dame Felicity Lott in performances of Duparc L’Invitation au voyage & Phidylé and Berlioz Les Nuits d’été on 24 October 2009, and by Sally Mathews in Canteloube Chants d’Auvergne on 14 November, in which the programme will include Ravel’s masterful String Quartet and his seminal Introduction and Allegro, with harp soloist Lucy Wakeford. Mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill joins the Ensemble on 5 December to perform works by Falla, Fauré, Ravel, Debussy and Franck. The series continues on 16 January with Saint-Saëns Le carnaval des animaux and Ravel Ma Mère l’oye, with pianists Ian Brown and Simon Crawford Phillips, and Turina Scèna andalouse Op 7, with Lawrence Power as viola soloist.

On 20 February 2010 baritone Christopher Maltman sings songs by Ravel and Chabrier, and the Nash performs two masterworks; Ravel Piano Trio and Faure sublime Piano Quartet in C minor Op 15. The renowned flamenco guitarist Paco Pena will perform flamenco compositions and joins the Nash for an evening celebrating the music of Manuel de Falla on 6 March. Finally Eleanor Bron will be the reciter in a performance of Poulenc Babar the Elephant (arranged by David Matthews for reciter and ensemble) at a Wigmore coffee morning on 7 March 2010.

Continuing the traditions of presenting early evening events free to the public, there will be early evening recitals on 14 November and 20 February 2010, featuring the members of the Nash in duos and solos.

The Nash Ensemble season will open with the Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ 75th Birthday Concert on 13 October in a programme especially devised by the composer, including the world premiere of his String Sextet commissioned by the Nash, Seven in Nomine, and Kettletoft Inn for Northumbrian pipes (Kathryn Tickell) and ensemble; the programme will also include works by Purcell, Schubert and Debussy. “This great jewel in the crown of British music…Long live the Nash” Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

On Sunday 25 October in a Wigmore Coffee Concert, the Nash will present a Mendelssohn Anniversary Concert, which will include his miraculous String Octet and the profound String Quartet in A minor Op 13.

On 24 March 2010 the Ensemble will celebrate Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s 75th birthday with a concert which will include five of his works spanning nearly 40 years, including a world premiere, and a performance of the Woman and the Hare - both Nash commissions. The programme also includes the UK premiere of Elliott Carter’s Poems of Louis Zukofsky for soprano (Claire Booth) and clarinet (Richard Hosford), which will add lustre to this significant occasion.

Sir Harrison Birtwistle has said: ‘For imaginative programming and captivating performances, the Nash Ensemble has no rival. I very much value my long association with them’ and The Times has stated: ‘The Nash Ensemble is still the best champion that any composer could hope to have’.

The Nash Ensemble has built up a remarkable reputation worldwide as one of Britain’s finest and most adventurous chamber groups. Its repertoire is vast and the imaginative, innovative and unusual programmes created by its founder and artistic director Amelia Freedman range from Haydn to leading contemporary composers. By the end of 2009 the Nash Ensemble will have performed over 255 new works of which 148 have been especially commissioned.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"The Composer's Voice" a chance to hear the voices of tomorrow's music

Kevin Puts and Gabriela Lena Frank are the two most recent Composers-in-Residence at the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Some of their more sumptuous compositions are captured on a CD, "The Composer's Voice." Miguel Harth-Bedoya conducts the symphony is a series of live performances recorded and compiled to a unique glimpse of two promising composers who will undoubtedly be voices in tomorrow's classical music.

The CD begins with Kevin Puts' Violin Concerto featuring Michael Shih on violin. As the opening movement, "Meditation" begins the violin plays a beautifully tender melody. Occasionally dark and brooding, at other times sweet and delightful, the violin soars over the orchestra into the upper atmosphere. So often virtuosic moments are written simply to show off the skill of the soloist. Here, the virtuoso elements of the solo violin carry a sense of the overall flow of the piece, building as the orchestra builds. Eventually the piece begins to fade as the violin climbs higher and higher up to the heavens. The "Caprice" begins with a blistering violin part only to grow more intense as this short piece continues. It is perhaps fortunate this piece is only four minutes or Mr Shih's bow would certainly have caught fire. Maestro Harth-Bedoya masterfully places the Fort Worth Symphony superbly with the solo violin matching both timing and dynamics with perfection.

Later on the CD Kevin Puts' Symphony No. 3, "Vespertine" is showcased. Indicative of Mr Puts musical style, the opening movement captures a lovely melody in a flute solo. As the solo moves to the oboe, clarinet and eventually to a muted trumpet, the shift of the tonal color is blurred with spectacular orchestration. We can hear the music, but the shift of the color goes unnoticed until it has moved well away from the original sonic-scape, much like a snake in the grass in only noticed by the shifting blades after the snake has passed. This writhing of timbre continues through the next two movements utilizing orchestral sections as well as solo instruments. Attempting to capture the swirling microbeats of Icelandic composer Björk, Kevin Puts uses his own voice (and technique) to create a lovely symphony.

Gabriela Lena Frank comes from a diverse background, her father an American of Lithuanian Jewish heritage while her mother is of Peruvian of Chinese descent. Ms Frank's two pieces on this CD capture a sense of Andean music with "Elegia Andina" (Andean Elegy) and "Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout." Both pieces are strong rhythmically with the "Elegia Andina" utilizing dark, tormented orchestration to create a sense of lament. Ms Frank uses both strident strings and softer woodwind duets and solos to capture the dramatic penetration of the music. The piece ends with a haunting clarinet solo.

With "Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout" Gabriela Lena Frank uses a series of short pieces to create a sense of a fantasy convention in the Andes. Throughout the piece there is a strong sense of the indigenous. "Tarqueada" (a Bolivian dance) uses glissando's in the strings with stunning effect. "Himno de Zampoñas" captures the pan like instruments of the Andeas as the strings use sul ponticello to recreate the hollow sound. The orchestration and tonal color just gets better and better with each new piece, culminating in a strong Spanish styled dance, fast and flirtatious.

Miguel Harth-Bedoya and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra captured the voices of these composers beautifully on "The Composer's Voice." Every nuance of the music is captured, with the subtle shifts in orchestration demanded by both composers beautifully brought to life. This is the sound of the future and in some respects the sound of the past, as Kevin Puts and Gabriela Lena Frank put their skills as composers with the great tradition of classical composition into these new works.

Boston Pops Annouces Competition to Open for Ben Folds for their Sold-Out Concert October 2nd

Submissions to be made through Sonicbids Website

The Boston Pops and singer-songwriter Ben Folds, along with Sonicbids, an online site that brings together bands and promoters for performance opportunities, are giving one group or artist an opportunity to open for Ben Folds' upcoming performance with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops on Friday, October 2, 2009. Those interested in applying for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity can submit audio files and artist information through the Sonicbids website at http://www.sonicbids.com/BostonPopsandBenFolds. The deadline for submissions is August 24. The selected artist will perform a 25-30 minute opening set on stage to a sold-out crowd at Symphony Hall, which seats over 2,400. They will also receive $1000 for travel and hotel accommodations.

Keith Lockhart and Ben Folds will review submissions and select the artist/group to be the opening act for the October 2 concert. The selected artist or artists must be able to quickly move on/off-stage and easily carry and plug in their own instruments, as the orchestra and Ben Folds will already be set up on stage. Though artists from all genres will be given consideration, for the logistical reasons previously stated, no full drum-kits are allowed and pianists will have to provide their own keyboard.

Sonicbids is a web site that helps bands get gigs and promoters book bands. With a focus on festival, club, and college performances, as well as music licensing, and much more, Sonicbids offers a diverse range of gigs for every kind of musician. Its online community of 200,000+ bands represent an international group of artists, with something for every kind of promoter. The company was launched in 2001 by Panos Panay, a Cyprus native and former booking agent, working to “empower the artistic middleclass.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francico Symphony Release Mahler's Symphony No. 8 on CD

Includes Adagio from Symphony No. 10 Available August 25, 2009

iTunes to offer exclusive pre-release digital download beginning August 11

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, July 29, 2009 – Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) will release their recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and the Adagio from Mahler’s unfinished Symphony No. 10 on hybrid SACD August 25, 2009. This recording is the final album of symphonies to be released as part of the SFS’s Grammy-winning Mahler recording project for its own label, SFS Media. A future album of Mahler’s works for voice and orchestra will complete the project in 2010. Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E flat major, Symphony of a Thousand, was recorded live in Davies Symphony Hall November 19, 21, 22 and 23, 2008 and features performances by sopranos Erin Wall, Elza van den Heever, and Laura Claycomb; mezzo-sopranos Katarina Karnéus and Yvonne Naef; tenor Anthony Dean Griffey; baritone Quinn Kelsey; and bass-baritone James Morris. The San Francisco Symphony Chorus under the direction of Ragnar Bohlin is featured on the recording as well as the San Francisco Girls Chorus and the Pacific Boychoir. The Adagio from Symphony No. 10 which opens this two-disc set was recorded April 6-8, 2006.

Beginning on August 11 Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and Adagio from Symphony No. 10 will be available as an exclusive pre-release download from the Apple iTunes Music Store worldwide. iTunes purchases of the album in North America will include a bonus video, “A Universe of Sound: Recording Mahler's Symphony No. 8” with behind the scenes footage and insights. The San Francisco Symphony’s e-store is currently accepting pre-sale orders for the 2-disc set at shopsfsymphony.org and on August 25 the recording will become available at the Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall, with new expanded daily hours from 11-4 Monday through Friday, and from all other retailers.

The release of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10 coincides with MTT and the San Francisco Symphony’s three-week Mahler Festival at Davies Symphony Hall from September 16-October 3, 2009. During the festival the Orchestra will perform Mahler’s Rückert Lieder with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and Songs of a Wayfarer (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen) performed by baritone Thomas Hampson both to be recorded for future release on SFS Media. Other works to be performed during the festival will be Mahler’s Symphonies No. 1 and 5, Scelsi’s Hymnos, selections from Symphonies 3, 5 and 9, and the Scherzo from Hans Rott’s Symphony in E major.

Portions of the 2009 Mahler Festival performances will be filmed for the third season of the San Francisco Symphony’s PBS television series Keeping Score™. 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. 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. To date, nearly five million people in the U.S. have seen the Keeping Score television series, with international broadcasts across Europe and Asia.

Michael Tilson Thomas has distinguished himself as one of the world’s foremost Mahler interpreters, and through his signature performances, as one of the composer’s most compelling advocates. In 1974, at the age of 29, he made his SFS debut conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 9. Now entering his fifteenth season as Music Director, he and the SFS have formed an orchestral partnership acclaimed for their interpretations of the music of Mahler as well as for innovation and artistic excellence.

Since the Mahler recording project began in 2001, the San Francisco Symphony has recorded all of the Mahler symphonies, the Adagio from the unfinished Tenth Symphony, Kindertotenlieder and Das Lied von der Erde and released a re-mastered recording of Das klagende Lied. Additional works still to be released include Mahler’s Rückert Lieder, Songs Of A Wayfarer (Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen) and Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

The SFS’s Mahler recording series has sold over 130,000 albums to date and has been recognized with four Grammy Awards: Best Classical Album and Best Orchestral Performance for Mahler’s Symphony No. 7 in 2006, Best Classical Album for Symphony No. 3 and Kindertotenlieder in 2003, and Best Orchestral Performance for Symphony No. 6 in 2002. The MTT/SFS recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with soprano Laura Claycomb received a Best Surround Sound Album Grammy nomination in 2004. All of the new Mahler recordings on SFS Media have entered the top ten of the Billboard Classical Chart.

The MTT/SFS partnership has also been recognized with numerous international recording honors over the years. Their exploration of the visionary American composer Charles Ives, captured on a recording entitled Charles Ives, An American Journey won an ECHO Klassik (formerly known as the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis) award in Germany . Michael Tilson Thomas was named Gramophone Artist of the Year for 2005, partly in recognition of the SFS Media Mahler recording series. The Gramophone Award, considered by many to be the most important in the classical music industry, is given each year to the musician who has made the greatest contribution to classical music.

SFS Media 821936-0021-2
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
San Francisco Symphony
Symphony No. 8
Recorded live in concert November 19, 21, 22 and 23, 2008 in Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, California
Adagio from Symphony No. recorded live in concert April 6-8, 2006 in Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco , California

Release Dates: August 25, 2009 in stores and from digital retailers, August 11, 2009 available for pre-release by download exclusively from Apple’s iTunes Music Store.

Cellist Johannes Moser’s Summer Season Takes Him on Festival Tour of Europe and the U.S.

Performances with Cleveland Orchestra and Royal Concertgebouw Are Highlights

The German-Canadian cellist Johannes Moser continues his summer in both chamber and orchestral concerts in Europe and the U.S., including his debut with the celebrated Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra under the baton of Mariss Jansons. Moser’s summer concert tour follows a busy season of debut performances with top American orchestras and further recordings on the Hänssler Classics label, which continue to earn critical praise. His recording of Saint-Saëns’s complete works for cello and orchestra was given a perfect 5-star review in BBC Music, while Listen, reviewing the same CD, called Moser “without question an artist worth watching”.

Moser opened his summer season on July 11 at Germany’s Rheingau Musik Festival where he focused on chamber music performances. In Rheingau, Moser was joined by pianist Paul Ravinius for a program of cello sonatas by Beethoven, Zemlinsky and Brahms.

Moser returns to the U.S. for a concert with the Cleveland Orchestra
Moser returns to the U.S. on August 2 for an important engagement with the Cleveland Orchestra at its summer home, the Blossom Festival. Already a popular guest soloist in Cleveland, Moser returns to play Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1, with conductor Jahja Ling on the podium. During Moser’s last visit to Cleveland , the Plain Dealer praised the young cellist for his “agile brilliance and vast expressive character”. Of his recent performance of Shostakovich’s first Cello Concerto with the St. Louis Symphony, Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post Dispatch commented:

“The concerto’s moods range from the otherworldly to the mournful and elegiac, from the sarcastic to the frantic. Moser expressed them all, with a stunning display of technical facility, leaping from the top of the instrument’s range to growling low notes with a rich, consistent sound. Moser is a major talent, and it is to be hoped that he’ll return in coming seasons.”

Moser will kick off his 2009-10 season making his debut with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra playing the same Shostakovich concerto; the orchestra’s Chief Conductor Mariss Jansons will also lead a performance of Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony. Moser and the orchestra will present the program twice in Amsterdam before traveling to Bucharest for a single performance. These concerts mark the beginning of what promises to be an active and rewarding season for the cellist, highlights of which include a North America tour with the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra under Ivor Bolton, which culminates with a performance at New York ’s Lincoln Center , and an extensive tour of American university campuses with toy pianist and composer Phyllis Chen.

Johannes Moser – engagements in summer 2009

July 24: Festival Del Sole, Napa , CA
JS Bach: Suite No. 1 in G major

August 2: Blossom Music Festival, Cuyahoga Falls , Ohio
Cleveland Orchestra / Jahja Ling
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1

September 5: Festival Lied und Lyrik , Bavaria , Germany
Several works for cello solo, combined with poems by Wolf Wondratschek

September 16-17: Amsterdam , Netherlands
September 20: Bucharest , Romania
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Mariss Jansons
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1

Danielle de Niese to release The Mozart Album including duet with Bryn Terfel

“Her singing is utterly delectable and completely assured…Sheer ‘joie de vivre’ and mastery come spilling across, to the eyes as well as the ears.” -The New York Times

New York, NY – On September 8th, 2009, Decca will release The Mozart Album, the hotly anticipated second solo recording from 30-year-old soprano Danielle de Niese. The full album will be available at digital music retailers including the iTunes Music store on August 18th. On July 28th, iTunes will exclusively offer the single “La ci darem la mano” performed by Danielle de Niese together with baritone Bryn Terfel.

An Australian–born American soprano of Dutch and Sri Lankan heritage, the exotically beautiful de Niese has been captivating audiences since childhood, when she was a fixture of Los Angeles local television hosting a weekly arts showcase for teenagers, for which she won an Emmy Award. De Niese was just 18 when she was accepted as the youngest artist ever into the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program of the Metropolitan Opera. She made her Met debut as Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro, alongside Renée Fleming, Bryn Terfel, and Cecilia Bartoli and led by James Levine. On September 22nd of this year, de Niese returns to the Met to perform the leading role of Susanna in the same Jonathan Miller production of Le Nozze di Figaro in which she made her debut over a decade ago.

From the age of 19, when Danielle de Niese made that auspicious Metropolitan Opera debut it was clear that she was destined to be a major Mozart singer, given her extraordinary ability to communicate emotion through her one-of-a-kind voice, personal charisma, star quality and the irresistible force of her personality. So Mozart is a natural next step for de Niese in her recording career following up on her debut album of Handel arias released in 2007. The selections on The Mozart Album reflect her career on stage, as well as her own favorite Mozart arias. Sir Charles Mackerras, a world authority on Mozart, leads the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

In addition to her engagement with the Metropolitan Opera, the 2009-10 season sees Danielle de Niese performing as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro with Lyric Opera of Chicago under the direction of Edward Gardner. She also appears in L’incoronazione di Poppea with the Teatro Real and Semele with Théâtre des Champs Elysées. Additionally, Ms. de Niese will tour Europe with the period instrument group Il giardino armonico with an all Handel program with performances in Amsterdam, Vienna, Berlin and Madrid.

Danielle de Niese in Performance USA 2009-2010

Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro
September 22, 29,
October 1, 5, 9,
December 4, 8, 12
Conductor: Edward Gardner

Danielle de Niese: The Mozart Album Tracklisting
Exsultate, jubilate (K.165)
Bella mia fiamma (Concert aria K.528)
Giunse al fin il momento ... Al desio di chi t'adora (Alternative Aria in Act 4 of "The Marriage of Figaro" K.577)
Una donna a quindici anni (from "Così fan tutte" K.588)
Quando avran fine o mai ... Padre, germani, addio! (from "Idomeneo" K.366)
Ah Fuggi il Traditor (from "Don Giovanni" K.527)
Oh, temerario Arbace! ... Per quel paterno amplesso (Concert aria K.79)
L'amerò (from "Il re pastore" K.208)
La ci darem la mano (Duet with Bryn Terfel) (from "Don Giovanni" K.527)
Laudate Dominum (from "Vesperae solennes de Confessore" K.339)

Zuill Bailey & Simone Dinnerstein to release new CD of Beethoven Complete Works for Piano & Cello

New York, NY— Pianist Simone Dinnerstein and cellist Zuill Bailey will release a recording of Beethoven’s Complete Works for Piano and Cello on Telarc on August 25 in the US and September 28 in the UK. The 2-disc set includes Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 5 No. 1; Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5 No. 2; Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69; and Variations for Piano and Cello in G major, F major, and Eb major. Grammy Award-winning engineer Adam Abeshouse is the producer for the recording. On August 25 at 8pm, the duo will perform the Beethoven Sonatas at the Ravinia Festival, near Chicago (Bennett Gordon Hall at 201 St. Johns Avenue, Highland Park, IL). On August 27, they will perform Sonatas Nos. 3, 4, and 5 at a CD release concert at (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York (158 Bleecker Street).

Ms. Dinnerstein and Mr. Bailey have performed together regularly for more than a decade, and received the Classical Recording Foundation Award in 2006 and 2007. Both are known as highly accomplished musicians with a flair for arresting interpretations. They have performed the Beethoven Sonatas for capacity audiences at The Metropolitan Museum in New York and the National Gallery in Washington, DC .

Of the new recording, Ms. Dinnerstein says, “Learning Beethoven’s complete works for piano and cello was the first major project that Zuill and I undertook when we first began working together as a duo. It is music we’ve lived with, mulled over, considered and reconsidered. Committing our interpretation to disc is a milestone in our ongoing journey together.” Mr. Bailey adds, “Beethoven’s masterpieces for piano and cello represent arguably the greatest evolution of musical composition by one of the world’s most remarkable and creative minds. The five sonatas and variations chronicle refined points in the early, middle and late stages of his compositions. The works continue to parallel Simone’s and my own musical journey. This recording of Beethoven's complete works is a true celebration of the first decade of our own personal musical evolution.”

Noted in the press as a “one of the most exciting cellists to come along in years” (The Kansas City Star) and “enormously gifted and splendid . . . heartstopping” (Toronto Globe), Zuill Bailey’s recent appearances include performances in Minnesota, Nashville, Chicago and Toronto. Pianist Simone Dinnerstein released her debut solo CD, a recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on Telarc, in August 2007.The disc met with critical acclaim and earned the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Classical Chart in its first week of sales. Her second release on Telarc, The Berlin Concert, is a live recording of Ms. Dinnerstein’s recital debut at the Berlin Philharmonie. It too has been met with critical praise and also rose to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Classical Chart.

Release dates:

August 25, 2009 (US) | September 28, 2009 (UK)

Upcoming performances:

August 25 at 8pm: Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL

August 27 at 8pm: (Le) Poisson Rouge, NYC

2-CD set includes:

Sonata No. 1 in F major, Op. 5 No. 1

Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 5 No. 2

Sonata No. 3 in A major, Op. 69

Variations for Piano and Cello in G major, F major, and Eb major

Why Review? What’s the point in writing a review: my take on the topic?

Every so often I get asked why I write reviews. Sometimes this is by fellow audience members at a concert who are interested in part as to why I write the reviews, but also in part because, although readers still read reviews, studies show they have little to no effect on whether they actually go see a performance. This last case is even truer in the classical music world where a performance is seldom repeated, so a review is really only after the performance and has no bearing on getting audience members to buy tickets – at least not to the specific performance reviewed.

Other times I get asked why I write reviews by fellow artists, or family members. Fellow artists may feel I am “selling out”, venturing into the dark side, and becoming part of the opposition by reviewing their performances. Family members think I’ve just lost my marbles spending far too much time mulling over what to say – and getting paid far too little for the effort I put into each review. While I would like to get paid more money for my efforts that is not the reason I write reviews. So, perhaps this article will help answer this question for anyone who has ever asked the question (or wanted to but not actually done so yet).

As far as the classical music industry is concerned a review does not get more audience members to a performance. I recently spent time in Vail Colorado reviewing the performance of the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Few, if any of my readers, are likely to be ticket purchasers for this season. However, there are a number of people who now know more about what is in store at the festival and may consider including Vail in their vacation plans next year. Also, the artists and the festival now have “sound bites” from my reviews which they can use for their future publicity. At least half of the performers I reviewed at the festival (or their agents) have contacted me since their performance with interest in getting me to hear other performances.

This concept of future publicity is particularly important in writing a CD review. When marketing a CD there are press releases prior to the CD release, when the CD is released and concert publicity which hopes to drive more CD sales. A good review of a CD (even just a short half sentence) can make an artist seam more appealing, provide a sense of worth, particularly to a potential audience that isn’t familiar with the artist. Considering there are literally dozens of world class violinists trying to make their living as solo performers, having a few “good words” to include with their press releases can make a huge difference in both audience attendance and sales of their CD at their performances.

In a much more personal vein, a find the review process to be very educational. I listen more intently at a concert (or to a CD) when I am to write a review. It is rather like having a crash course in the music; I have to focus (particularly in a concert situation) as I only get one shot to hear the music. So, I really examine what it is I am hearing, analyze the music as it is performed, which has greatly affected the way I compose music.

Having said all this, what sort of reviews do I write? If the artists need “good words” to use for publicity shouldn’t I just write a glowing review each time?

Well, no. Some of the people reading my reviews are fellow concert goers. If they saw the same concert I did and it wasn’t particularly thrilling, but I wrote a glowing review anything else I might say would also be suspect. The artists themselves are also aware when a reviewer is padding the performance – so good reviews (although they might still get used in general press releases if there isn’t anything else to be had) can actually hurt an artist in the classical music community. Using too many false reviews to inflate an artist’s status can bring into question just how good the artist really is. Again, when there are so many people trying to make a living in classical music, having the quality of your performances in question is not a good thing. So, my reviews need to be honest.

But don’t reviewers get too technical in their reviews? The common person doesn’t care about all the nitty-gritty details, do they?

Yes and no. I suppose some of my reviews do go into a bit more detail than the common person might care about, particularly since live performance reviews are of a given night and not an experience my readers will get to share. But, providing details, specific elements of the concert that I liked (or didn’t) does two things: It is evidence I was actually in attendance at the concert and not just writing a generic review, and it speaks specifically as to the why I felt something worked or didn’t. IF, as an audience member, I speak about a moment that didn’t work and I list the reason, the reason may very well be just what someone else is looking for in a performance.

Also, there is the concert for the performer. If I mention aspects of the performance that don’t work, the performers have the chance to review what they did and see if they might want to make changes. I seriously doubt if many of the world class performers are going to take what I say with too much concern – but, by providing the detail, they have the opportunity to examine and improve their performance. As a performer myself that is exactly what I want in a review – a second opinion as to what I can do to improve.

So, in the end, I write reviews to provide feedback to performers and fellow future audience members. I write reviews for self improvement too. I endeavor to always write the truth, but remind the performers my reviews are just my opinion. I do spend a great deal of time with each review as I feel the performers spent a great deal of time preparing for the performance, the least I can do is show them respect for their effort by putting in some effort of my own in the review. Personally, I think I write pretty good reviews. As yet I have not received any comments about my reviews being off base in my judgment of the performance. I do have numerous comments and personal emails from fellow audience members who have agreed with my statements.

I will continue to review as often as possible. Hopefully, someday, I may even get picked up by a major newspaper or syndicated (and get paid to write these reviews). Regardless, I hope I have answered the question as to why I write reviews.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to Release CD Recording of

Baltimore, Md. (July 28, 2009) – The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) today announced that a new commercial recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers will be released on the Naxos label on August 25, 2009—the 91st birthday of the late composer. This two-disc set is the fourth audio recording ever produced of Mass and will be available for purchase on Naxos, Amazon.com and the BSO’s website, BSOmusic.org. There will also be an iTunes pre-release available for purchase on August 11, 2009. Bonus material complementing this CD release is available at BSOmusic.org/Mass. Mass was recorded in studio recordings held at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on October 21-22, 2008.

Music Director Marin Alsop, a Bernstein protégée, led the BSO in critically acclaimed, sold-out performances of Mass on October 16-18, 2008 at Baltimore’s Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and on October 26 at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. These performances and the associated studio recording featured nearly 250 performers, including baritone Jubilant Sykes as the Celebrant, Morgan State University Chorus, the Peabody Children’s Chorus and a stellar Broadway cast of 20 performing as the “street people.” The semi-staged production included costuming and musical movement with direction by award-winning stage director Kevin Newbury. In addition to the Baltimore and Washington events, the BSO also performed Mass on October 24 at New York City’s Carnegie Hall as a highlight of its citywide festival, Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds, and as part of The Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall’s Bernstein Mass Project, at the United Palace Theater in Upper Manhattan on October 25 where approximately 500 New York City public school children sang in the chorus of Mass alongside the BSO.

“Leading the Baltimore Symphony, the fabulous cast and all of those talented young people in this work was an incredibly emotional and spiritual experience for me. Bernstein felt deeply connected to Mass. It was very rewarding to see audiences and our musicians also find an intensely personal, visceral connection to the work. I am thrilled that this experience can live on for future generations through this recording.” - Maestra Alsop

The BSO performances earned praise from Anthony Tommasini of The New York Times, “Some pieces that seem trendy at their birth soon fade away. But the essence and achievement of Bernstein’s Mass have become clearer over time…how [Bernstein] would have loved seeing his Mass touch so many people…” Tim Smith from The Baltimore Sun agreed, “The BSO sounded vibrant, the Morgan State choristers delivered richly, and the well‐chosen cast, headed by Jubilant Sykes as the Celebrant, came through with often electrifying intensity in this imaginatively staged presentation…The music shone through with consistent emotional power. I think Bernstein would have loved it all.” In addition, the performances of Bernstein’s Mass were numbered among the top 5 musical experiences of the year by The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Jamie Bernstein, daughter of the late composer, attended the New York performances of Mass. “It takes a village to put on Mass—and Marin Alsop has organized her musical village with magnificent results,” said Ms. Bernstein of her reaction to the performances and CD release. “This is a rich, sensitive performance of my father's most personal work: explosive, touching and truly cathartic.”

Singer/Songwriter Ray LaMontagne and His Band to Perform with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Baltimore, Md. (July 27, 2009)– Singer, songwriter and guitarist Ray LaMontagne and his band join the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to perform some of his most popular hits on Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore and Friday, October 16, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. This announcement comes on the heels of the news that Mr. LaMontagne, known for his soulful vocals and compelling lyrics, will be touring North America in Fall 2009.

Ray LaMontagne first landed on the music scene in 2004, with his debut album, Trouble, launching an instant classic single in the album’s title track. Two years later, he released the deeply personal and compelling Till the Sun Turns Black, which soared to the top 30 of the Billboard 200. Mr. LaMontagne’s most recent album, Gossip In The Grain, achieved the rising star’s highest chart number, debuting at No. 3 on Billboard Charts the week of its release. The album was also a digital sensation, selling as the No. 1 album on iTunes that first week.

Ray LaMontagne’s July 12, 2009 collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl earned praise from the Los Angeles Times, describing Mr. LaMontagne as, “…quite a nimble vocalist, especially when he dips into New Orleans jazz and scruffy blue-eyed soul.” The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is the only orchestra that Mr. LaMontagne will collaborate with in his upcoming tour.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Presents Ray LaMontagne
Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – The Music Center at Strathmore
Friday, October 16, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Ray LaMontagne, guitar and vocals
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Tickets are $44.50. Public on-sale day is Saturday, August 8 at 10 a.m.* TICKET LIMIT IS 4.

Tiempo Libre Honors Bach with latest CD - Bach in Havana

...and teaches him a few new tricks

Tiempo Libre is a two-time Grammy-nominated Cuban music group on their way to a third nomination with their latest CD Bach in Havana. They have taken a series of beautiful J.S. Bach pieces and infused them with Tiempo Libre's rich Cuban musical heritage to create a unique blend of Classical/Cuban music that is immensely enjoyable, musically invigorating and cuts across numerous cultural lines.

The members of Tiempo Libre were all classically trained at La ENA, Cuba’s premiere conservatory during a time when it was illegal to listen to American songs on the radio. Jorge Gómez, the music director and arranger, describes each piece in the liner notes, how the music of Bach was incorporated into or animated with Cuban rhythms. Some of the music is immediately identifiable and other's the "collaboration" is more indirect. Each piece is a delightful excursion into new territory of places we've been so often before it seems impossible there would be anything new to find and yet, Tiempo Libre has done just that. The marriage of the classical background of these musicians with their cultural heritage makes the bond of Bach and Batá (or Conga, Son, Timba or Guaguancó) a perfect fit, and incredibly unique. From the fast paced Conga of Tu Conga Bach to the romantic, rich Air on a G String with the sumptuous melody played by Paquito D'Rivera on the alto saxophone, this album shows the timeless nature of Classical music, bringing a new depth to these timeless pieces.

It is perhaps a bit early to award Tiempo Libre with a Grammy already, but if they don't earn yet another nomination for this album something is seriously wrong with the nomination process. If you love Bach, if you love Latin music, if you have any love of music at all you will find this album a necessary addition to your collection.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bard SummerScape’s Production of Meyerbeer’s Epic Opera Les Huguenots Opens Friday, July 31 at 7 pm

“Every single person in this production is making a ‘role debut,’ from myself to the principals’ roles, to the chorus, the conductor, orchestra, and crew. It’s incredibly liberating to approach it fresh, but it’s also daunting in the sheer number of decisions that must be made each day!” – Thaddeus Strassberger

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – With a distinguished history of presenting important but rarely-performed works in remarkable productions, Bard SummerScape is producing one of music history’s most challenging operas: Giacomo Meyerbeer’s 1836 masterpiece, Les Huguenots, opening on July 31 for four performances. Leon Botstein conducts soloists, the Bard Festival Chorus, and the American Symphony Orchestra in Bard’s beautiful Sosnoff Theater. The grandly scaled opera – to be staged almost entirely intact – addresses religious extremism in an enhanced historical setting, and is produced within the framework of “Wagner and His World,” which is the focus of the 20th annual Bard Music Festival. The artistic team for Les Huguenots combines the talents of American director Thaddeus Strassberger with those of Spanish designer, photographer, and filmmaker Eugenio Recuenco, with Mattie Ullrich’s costumes and Aaron Black’s lighting. The cast features Erin Morley as Marguerite de Valois; Alexandra Deshorties as Valentine; Marie Lenormand as Urbain; Michael Spyres as Raoul; Andrew Schroeder as Nevers; Peter Volpe as Marcel; and John Marcus Bindel as Saint-Bris.

Bard SummerScape got off to a successful start with the opening night of Dance – a restoration of the 1979 collaboration between choreographer Lucinda Childs, filmmaker Sol LeWitt, and composer Philip Glass. It received winning notices, including that by Gia Kourlas in the New York Times. Kourlas enthusiastically extends credit for the superlative production beyond these three creators, with a nod to the “unofficial fourth collaborator” of the project: Frank Gehry, the architect of Bard’s Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, whose design of the center’s Sosnoff Theater “provides a scintillating frame.”

Since its inception in 2003, with the opening of its new Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Bard SummerScape has presented a remarkable array of seldom-produced operas: Blitzstein’s Regina ; Janácek’s Osud; Shostakovich’s The Nose; Schumann’s Genoveva; Szymanowski’s King Roger; and Zemlinsky’s Florentine Tragedy and The Dwarf.

Nonesuch Releases John Adams’ Doctor Atomic Symphony, July 28

Album also includes Adams’ Guide to Strange Places
David Robertson leads Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in first recording of both works

(ST. LOUIS) – Tomorrow, July 28, 2009, Nonesuch Records releases a recording of two works by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams, the Doctor Atomic Symphony and Guide to Strange Places, performed by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) under the direction of its Music Director, David Robertson . This is the premiere recording of both works, recorded live in 2008 at Powel Hall in St. Louis , and the first CD recording of Robertson with the SLSO. The Nonesuch recording is also available as an MP3 download.

Adams’ Doctor Atomic Symphony is drawn from his opera Doctor Atomic, a modern Faust story depicting the final hours before the detonation of the first atomic bomb. At the encouragement of Robertson, Adams adapted music from his opera into symphonic form, dedicating the completed work to Robertson. The New York Times said of the symphony, “… the score invites you to hear the music—driving passages with pounding timpani, quizzically restrained lyrical flights, bursts of skittish fanfares—on its own terms, apart from its dramatic context.”

Also on the CD is Adams’ 2001 work, Guide to Strange Places. Adams has said he was inspired by a French guide book of Provence in the creation of the work. “A chapter was dedicated to paysages insolites—or ‘strange places,’” Adams explained. “It set my imagination off…. In a sense, all of my pieces are travel pieces, often through paysages insolites—it’s the way I experience musical form.”

The recording was made possible by a generous gift from the Centene Charitable Foundation, St. Louis , Missouri .

Star Shine even on the Rainiest of Days with the New York Philharmonic

Last night the weather was wet, very wet and yet, the stage sparkled as if adorned by thousands of shining stars, compliments of the New York Philharmonic and the adroit humor of Bramwell Tovey. From the opening with Rossini’s William Tell Overture to R. Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier suite the stage was alight with brilliant music and copious amount of humour for perhaps one of the most entertaining evenings yet at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.

It all started with Guest Conductor Sheika Gramshammer, a local Vail celebrity and popular personality taking the stage with the New York Philharmonic. She presented the Overture Finale from William Tell with blistering speed. Obviously this is a piece the orchestra knows extremely well, because the performance was flawless, glowing with excitement and energy. At one point Ms Gramshammer turned to the audience to conduct in their clapping (and laughter) which added the perfect about of enthusiasm to bring the piece to a rousing finish. After the final note there was no hesitation from the audience in giving Ms Gramshammer and the New York Philharmonic a standing ovation – and what had started as a raining night in Vail was already shimmering.

Bramwell Tovey came out to continue the program with J. Strauss Jr. Overture to The Gypsy Baron. From the flourish of strings to the more dramatic punctuations, Tovey coaxes every emotion out of the orchestra. During the beautiful oboe solo the orchestra strings were held to near silent accompaniment, allowing the tender soft solo to shine through. As the piece begins to dance, so does Tovey’s baton; each pulse of the waltz delightfully shifting and whirling about the stage. Then, the fast paced ending dazzled the audience with the skill of the string players, their bows both articulate and blazingly fast. The program was hardly 15 minute in and already the rain was a distant memory.

Simone Dinnerstein joined the New York Philharmonic to astonish the audience with Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2. While this piece has plenty of moments to allow Ms Dinnerstein a chance to show off her skill on the piano, it is also a piece designed to meld the soloist with the orchestra, rather than set them against each other. The opening chorale by the brilliant woodwind section provides the material for the entire piece. When Ms Dinnerstein comes in (after the chorale), the piano begins with light, slow arpeggios, beautifully caressed across the keyboard. This slowly shifts to a fluttering right hand and then to strong pounding chords on the lower keys. Liszt’s piano concerto has the full range of emotion, from light and tender to dark and brooding. Ms Dinnerstein captured each moment beautifully, becoming an integral part of the orchestra, folding her performance into the mix when necessary and yet shimmering brightly when appropriate. At times her hands were flying across the keys and other’s she poised her fingers in preparation for the note playing waiting for the perfect emotional moment to bring the music to light. One of the highlights of the piece was during the Cello Solo by Carter Brey. Ms Dinnerstein became the accompanist providing rapid arpeggios underneath, beautifully articulate and emotionally charged. Although relatively new on the classical music scene, debuting at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in 2005, she shows amazing maturity on the piano.

The second half of the program began with a short comic routine by the conductor. Maestro Tovey is a consummate performer, dazzling the audience with radiant wit, providing insight into Brahms’ Hungarian Dances No.4 and No. 3 (or is that No. 10 which is why is was second, rather than first). Stepping into the music Tovey obviously really enjoys the lush sounds of this music, guiding the orchestra through the emotional journey of each phrase. By the end of the two pieces, the audience was filled with laughter bubbling up from their enthusiasm of the performance. And, Wow! Again kudos to the strings as once again their bows were on fire at the end.

Before the final piece, R. Strauss Der Rosenkavalier Suite, Tovey took the opportunity to engage the audience once again. He understands showmanship and, while we were there to hear the orchestra perform, the audience laughed again and again at Maestro Tovey’s comic routine regaling the story of Der Rosenkavalier. The music matched Bramwell Tovey’s personality to a “T”, providing serious intellectual moments, but for the most part a delightful frolic of love and desire brought to life with beautiful music.

Even though it had rained earlier and even a bit during the performance, the gloom of the weather had completely faded away. The audience was on their feet with raucous applause to the point Tovey felt we deserved an encore. So, we were treated to yet another delightful monologue and Brahms Hungarian Dance No. 5, which Tovey described as having an “a-ha” moment. And sure enough, as the orchestra played the first three notes, the audience responded in perfect unison “A HA!” followed by copious laughter.

It was a bright and beautiful night. Performing to a sold out house, even the lawn was packed (in spite of the rain), the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of Bramwell Tovey was pure brilliance, a warm and enchanting dance among the stars.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic dazzle Vail Audience with Martinů

Last Night Alan Gilbert led the New York Philharmonic in their second night at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival with the intense music of Bohuslav Martinů’s Symphony No. 4. Written in 1945, the music captures the passion of the war effort with the hopes of an eventual end (Martinů started writing soon after the allied offensive was pushing deep into Germany). Eloquently capturing the dramatic builds, soothing melodies and a vast array of sonic-scapes, Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic earned their place as the final orchestra for the festival – in the “clean up” position.

Typically, after a month of music festivities, musicians and audience get tired. Fortunately, the Bravo! Festival opts to change the orchestra to keep the musicians (and the music) fresh. This was the second night for the musicians from New York and they sounded fresh and alive as they tackled a program of Brahms and Martinů. Although there were probably numerous members in the audience who had seen both the Dallas Symphony and the Philadelphia Symphony, you couldn’t tell it from their appreciation of the music.

Nikolaj Znaider joined the orchestra on Violin for the first half with Brahm’s Violin Concerto in D Major. It starts with a sumptuous beginning, allowing Mr Gilbert to drift through the various elements of the orchestra eventually building to entrance of the soloist. This is Mr Znaider’s show piece, and the opening movement shows why. His ability to shift between dramatic double stops to the softer melodic sections was incredible. Unfortunately, some of the softer sections of his solo work were lost, not quite reaching to the back of the house.

In the second movement, oboeist Liang Wang got a chance to shine. Brahms' opens with a beautiful oboe solo with woodwind and horn accompaniment was lush and rich. Again, the music soars, leading into the solo violin. Znaider captured the lyric quality of the second moment magnificently.

The final movement is a frolicking dance. Here Znaider had the chance to show off his technical skill and speed. Regrettably, these rapid passages often were lost, so while they “looked” amazing, they were occasionally too soft to be truly appreciated. The audience gave Nikolaj Znaider and the New York Philharmonic a standing ovation, but if it weren’t for the center section of the audience (who obviously heard a better balance than I did) there would not have been a call back to the stage. This is unfortunate, as both the soloist and orchestra are much better than this piece demonstrated.

Fortunately, Martinů’s Symphony No. 4 did not have the same difficulties. Starting with a series of sonic-scapes, Mr Gilbert glided through the various elements of the orchestra, building the piece to a frantic energy. Then, as precise as clockwork, the music (and orchestra) shifted to a softer section. At one point, one of these shifts caused a gasp from the audience. It couldn’t have been done better.

The Martinů piece is thoroughly modern, and yet still captures a sense of melody. Mr Gilbert was able to bring out all the dense sounds, rich contours, complex colors, fluid orchestration, multifaceted rhythms and sensuous emotions – allowing each one space to be heard and yet, buried within the whole to create something greater. In the end, the intensity was not only heard, but felt by the audience. The dramatic close was a fitting climax to a piece written at the end of World War II – and a great cap to the New York Philharmonic’s second night here in Vail.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cellist Joshua Roman - Artist to watch

Cellist Joshua Roman earned a warm welcome back to Seattle when he recently performed the world premiere of David Stock's Cello Concerto. Like the Beatles song, he got a little help from his friends - his former colleagues in the Seattle Symphony where he played for two seasons as principal cellist, a job he snared at the ripe old age of 22. The Seattle Weekly called his performance "electrifying" and noted, "Stock was lucky, too, to have popular cellist Joshua Roman on hand, who can not only play anything but sell anything." The Gathering Note said the piece "could have been written for Roman. The style suits him exactly. While he can throw off fireworks like any whiz-bang young soloist, Roman is essentially a thoughtful, thought-provoking and lyrical player."

The 25-year-old musician is artistic director of Town Hall's TownMusic series in Seattle. He returned from his home base in New York City in late June with a handpicked ensemble and an intriguing program of new works for clarinet, violin, cello and percussion. The eclectic artist loves the standard rep as well. Last week Roman performed the Dvorak Cello Concerto in Bellingham ("a masterful performance," according to Entertainment News NW) and gave a masterclass at Western Washington University.

The Seattle Times has claimed the Oklahoma native as "our own cello wunderkind". Now that Roman has embarked on a solo career, Seattle has to share him as he prepares for a season of debuts with orchestras in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Kentucky, New York and Oklahoma. But first Roman heads to Peru in August to play with more friends in the International Festival of Chamber Music in Lima.

Marin Alsop Leads Baltimore Symphony in Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto 4-3 featuring Time for Three

Program also includes selections from Brahms’ Hungarian Dances and Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4

Baltimore, Md. (July 24, 2009)—Music director Marin Alsop leads the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto 4-3 featuring Time for Three, Brahms’s Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 3 and 10 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 on Thursday, September 24 at 8:00 p.m. and Friday, September 25 at 8:00 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, September 26 at 8:00 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore. These concerts will launch the season’s celebration of the diverse folk and ethnic traditions that have enriched and inspired classical music over the centuries. Please see below for complete program information.

Time for Three first gained attention when they provided entertainment after a lightning strike caused the lights to go out in the middle of a Philadelphia Orchestra concert. The classically trained members of Time for Three combine elements of American jazz, rock and folk music in their highly energetic performances. Time for Three joins the BSO to perform Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto 4-3, inspired by the bluegrass music of her childhood home in eastern Tennessee. The piece, which plays off the Time for Three name, was written specifically for the group and highlights the group’s chemistry and virtuosity.

A German composer, Brahms fostered a love of Hungarian gypsy music, which influenced many of his works. Hungarian Dances were originally piano improvisations on gypsy themes he heard while traveling central Europe. Of the 21 dances, Brahms orchestrated only three of them himself: Nos. 1, 3 and 10. Hugely popular, Hungarian Dances served to be his most profitable composition.

Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony opens in an ominous fanfare, representing Fate, a force he feels poisons and suffocates all happiness. Tchaikovsky orchestrated the piece following his disastrous marriage, and Fatum’s fanfare is echoed throughout the work, signifying despair. Despite the presence of Fatum in the last movement, however, the music is joyous and hopeful. Drawing upon his roots, Tchaikovsky incorporates a Russian folk song a recurrent the theme.

Tickets for these concerts range from $28 to $90. Tickets are available starting on September 1, 2009 through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard Makes Mostly Mozart Festival Debut on August 9 and 10 as Both Conductor and Soloist

performing with Chamber Orchestra of Europe in Programs of Haydn, Mozart, Ligeti and Stockhausen

Pierre-Laurent Aimard assumes the roles of pianist and conductor when he makes his long-anticipated Mostly Mozart debut at Lincoln Center on August 9 and 10 with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe (also making its Mostly Mozart debut). The extraordinary French musician balances two Viennese classics by Haydn and Mozart with a modern masterpiece in each evening’s program. For the first concert the new work is Gyorgy Ligeti’s Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments. This concert, part of the “Lincoln Center 50 Years” celebration, will mark the first time the music of Ligeti – the Hungarian master who died in 2006 – is performed at Mostly Mozart. The following evening, Aimard will explore Karlheinz Stockhausen’s chamber work Kontra-Punkte with members of the orchestra.

Aimard wanted each program to feature a seminal work by Haydn, a Mozart piano concerto, and a newer work, all of which demonstrate prominent common themes of rhythm, time, and counterpoint. Haydn and Mozart both used the forms of their time and included comic twists or humorous games of musical manipulation in these pieces. These techniques appear in the work of many contemporary composers, including Ligeti.

Aimard, who has performed and recorded much of Ligeti’s fiendishly difficult music, including the Chamber Concerto and the piano etudes, opens the first concert with Haydn’s D major “Clock” symphony, followed by the F major Mozart piano concerto, K. 459, which he conducts from the keyboard. For the next evening’s concert, Aimard leads Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony and Stockhausen’s Kontra-Punkte before returning to the keyboard to play and conduct Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.17 in G major, K.453. Aimard recently completed the first of three years that he will spend as artistic director of England ’s esteemed Aldeburgh Festival. His programming and performances received virtually unanimous praise. In the U.S, the Chicago Tribune, one of many U.S. newspapers that have applauded his recent work, wrote: “The brilliant French pianist boldly goes where few, if any, of his colleagues have gone before.” Aimard’s Mostly Mozart Festival concert details

Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 5:00pm
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, conductor and pianist (Mostly Mozart debut)
Alice Tully Hall, Starr Theater
Chamber Orchestra of Europe (Mostly Mozart debut)
Haydn: Symphony No.101 in D major ("The Clock")
Ligeti: Chamber Concerto for 13 Instruments
Mozart: Piano Concerto No.19 in F major, K.459

Monday, August 10, 2009 at 7:30pm
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, conductor and pianist
Alice Tully Hall, Starr Theater
Chamber Orchestra of Europe
Haydn: Symphony No.45 in F-sharp minor (“Farewell”)
Stockhausen: Kontra-Punkte
Mozart: Piano Concerto No.17 in G major, K.453

René Pape’s Summer Is Replete With European Festival Appearances, Including Schleswig-Holstein, Verbier, and Salzburg

Pape Performs Verdi in Japan With La Scala Forces Under Barenboim, and Opens Berlin State Opera’s New Season With Tristan und Isolde

This summer, German basso René Pape appears at several of the most prestigious European music festivals – including Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein , Switzerland ’s Verbier, and Austria’s Salzburg . On July 20, Pape portrays Leporello in a concert performance of Don Giovanni at the Verbier Festival, and on the 21st he participates in a gala concert with colleagues Bryn Terfel, Thomas Quasthoff, Vadim Repin, Mischa Maisky, and Lang-Lang. A week later he sings in the Salzburg Festival’s performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, with Paavo Järvi conducting the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie.

On August 29, Pape portrays King Marke in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde on opening night of the Berlin State Opera “Unter den Linden” for his home company’s 2009-10 season. Soon after, he departs for Tokyo with the orchestra and chorus of Milan’s La Scala. There he’ll give five performances as King Philip II – like King Marke, a signature role – in Verdi’s Don Carlo under Daniele Gatti, and reprise the Verdi Requiem under Daniel Barenboim, having opened his summer season with an unprecedented performance of the work in Tel Aviv, with La Scala forces on their first visit to Israel .

René Pape, film star
Two years ago Pape played both Sarastro and the Speaker in Kenneth Branagh’s poignant film version of Mozart’s Magic Flute, set in World War I – now set for U.S. distribution. This year Pape is recording Carl Maria von Weber’s ur-Romantic opera Der Freischütz for a film soundtrack in the authentic setting of Schloss Moritzburg in Dresden, Saxony – the region from which the opera – like Pape himself – originated.

René Pape: Summer 2009 engagements

July 20
Verbier, Switzerland : Don Giovanni (Leporello)

July 21
Verbier, Switzerland
Gala with Mischa Maisky, Lang-Lang, Thomas Quasthoff, Vadim Repin, Bryn Terfel

July 29
Salzburg Festival
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen / Järvi

August 29
Berlin State Opera season opening
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (King Marke)

September 8, 12, 13, 15, 17
Tokyo, Japan
Verdi: Don Carlo (Philip II)
Teatro alla Scala di Milano / Gatti

September 10
Tokyo, Japan
Verdi: Requiem
Teatro alla Scala di Milano / Barenboim

Thursday, July 23, 2009

National Endowment for the Arts Awards $50,000 Stimulus Grant to The Young People's Chorus of New York City™

July 22, 2009…The Young People’s Chorus of New York City™ has been awarded a $50,000 stimulus grant as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the National Endowment for the Arts. As part of President Obama’s stimulus package, the NEA has awarded grants to fund arts projects and activities that preserve jobs in the nonprofit arts sector threatened by declines in philanthropic and other support during the current economic downturn.

The list of award recipients is a collection of some of the most highly regarded arts institutions in the country. The grant was awarded based on an assessment of the quality of the organization, the potential and significance of the organization in the arts work force, and the likelihood for further success as an institution. YPC is one of only four choirs around the country to receive this vital support, and the only youth chorus to receive it under the Music category.

This award comes at a significant time in the organization’s institutional development, enabling YPC to continue to offer the broad-reaching music education and performance programs that enrich the lives of over 1,000 New York City youth and to commission new, cutting-edge choral music from some of the nation’s most eminent composers. In the face of an economic crisis, the magnitude of which we have not seen since the Great Depression, the American Recovery and Recruitment Act represents a significant investment in our country’s future and will help YPC reach its financial goals.

Francisco J. Núňez, Artistic Director and Founder of YPC, says: “This grant could not have come at a better time. We are extremely grateful to the NEA for their measure of support and for providing us with funds that will aid in our ability to continue to provide children of diverse abilities and ethnic backgrounds with a unique program of music appreciation and choral performance that seeks to fulfill each child’s musical potential, while creating a model of artistic excellence and harmony that enriches our community.”

Young People’s Chorus of New York City™ is one of today’s most influential youth choruses. It was founded in 1988 by Francisco J. Núňez and is the resident chorus of the 92nd Street Y; Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center; and WNYC, New York Public Radio. Children of all ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds participate annually through the core after-school choral program and the Satellite program in New York City public schools.

The NEA also supports two of YPC’s vital programs: the Partner Schools Program which recruits young people from New York City’s underserved schools and offers full scholarships to participate in YPC’s award-winning after-school chorus, and Radio Radiance, YPC’s new commissioning and performance project that develops new audiences for new music by using the combined resources of radio, digital media and the internet.

Childsplay: Waiting for the Dawn is a Rich Exploration of Fiddle/Vocal Music

When I was asked to review the new CD Childsplay: Waiting for the Dawn I was hesitant, as folk/fiddle music is not really my milieu. However, the group is based on all the instruments being made by a single luthier, Bob Childs. So rather than comment specifically on the music, whether it is a traditional or original composition by one of the band’s members, or on the playing (although there is some excellent fiddle playing), I will speak about the sound – which is more than just a little unique.

“It is often said that when played soulfully the violin, of all instruments, sounds the most like the human voice,” says Bob Childs. The CD starts with “Ratting Roaring Willie/High Drive” with vocals by Aoife O’Donovan which lends a sense of the intense sonorities found in the fiddle sustains of Childs’ instruments, as well as the edginess, the grit of the high energy music. It is a great way to start the album and certainly sets the mood for a fast paced romp through traditional folk music.

As the CD continues, it is easy to relax into the wistful blend of folk music crafted on the concept of marrying the voice of the violin with the rich resonance of the human voice. There are moments where voices duet, with underpinnings of traditional folk double stops on the violin. It highlights just how beautiful these instruments are, how subtly emotional they can be creating nuances so similar it is impossible to tell which is which.

The music has roots in Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, Scandinavian, French Canadian, and American folk traditions. Although some of the numbers are original, the marriage is seamless, creating a sound as fresh and new as anything in the genre. Yet, it also tugs at the heart strings reaching deep into the “soul” of these musical roots to capture the essence of what this immigrant nation is all about – great music that has energy, life and hope.

Even with all my enthusiasm I have done a disservice to this CD. This is not just a small ensemble playing fiddle tunes, but rather a twenty-one piece orchestra providing backup to each of these pieces. So, while there is some excellent fiddle playing, there is also a lush resonance which comes from an entire ensemble created a by single craftsman.

Perhaps the best example of this is the sixth track, “Mothers of the Disappeared/The Evenstar”. A minute into the piece, the backing ensemble gets to shine with a collection of violins playing together. We really get to enjoy the satisfying, lavish sound of these instruments.

“Wating for the Dawn” isn’t a classical music CD, but I am so glad I’ve been introduced to the group Childsplay. They are more than a diversion from the norm, they are a whole new concept in creating something extraordinary.

Anna Netrebko and Elīna Garanča shine in Deutsche Grammophon release I Capuleti E I Montecchi

Reviewing an audio recording of an opera is a daunting task. Opera is a complete art form; it has music, acting, singing, staging and even choreography. Any audio recording tends to pale from a live performance. Opera, with all the additional aspects of it, suffers even more from the lack of visuals to support the music and libretto. Listening to I Capuleti E I Montecchi recently released by Deutsche Grammophon was extremely enjoyable with the incredible clarity in the voices of Anna Netrebko and Elīna Garanča, yet this was perhaps the most difficult review I have done to-date.

The music of Vincenzo Bellini is at the beginning of the Romantic music style, with lots of remnants of classical music elements. The opening overture has bold classical statements with the beginnings of bombastic sections which lead the way to the music of Puccini and Strauss. There are arias which allow the vocalists to shine, but are perhaps more lyrically focused than operas in the classical era which had more pyrotechnics. In many respects I Capuleti e i Montecchi comes right at the beginning of the golden age of opera and a perfect way to usher in nearly 100 years of great operatic moments.

Written in 1830 for the Carnival season at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, Bellini used the libretto of Felice Romani using the Italian Renaissance sources for Romeo and Juliette rather than the story by Shakespeare. Much of the music was reworked from Bellini’s unsuccessful Zaira which allowed him to finish I Capuleti e i Montecchi in less than two months.

One of the most attractive aspects of this recording is the clarity of voice. The recitatives are remarkably comprehensible. Part of that is due to the forward presentation of the voices in the mix, but mostly it is because of the excellent diction of the performers.

Joseph Calleja as Tebaldo has a gorgeous voice, which is rich and sonorous, with a strength that provides punch while still maintaining tenderness. His “L’amo tano” perfectly sets him up as Romeo’s nemesis.

Robert Gleadow has a wonderfully rich bass voice, perfect for Lorenzo. The Capulet who tries to help Romeo and Giulietta has some magnificent moments. Mr Gleadow’s voice is perfectly set to bust through the strongest moments. Even when the Capulti chorus is calling out “All’armi!, All’armi!”, Mr Gleadow’s voice can be heard. This is no small feat for a bass.

Bellini wrote the part of Romeo for a female soprano rather than for a castrato (which was falling out of favor in the early 1800’s). Elīna Garanča had her work cut out for her as this is a great, yet demanding role, singing throughout the performance. There are moments where she must sing with a boldness of a cavalier, corresponding to the men in strength of intent, and others where her voice is ideally matched with Anna Netrebko as Giulietta for tender moments and some of the finest duets written for two sopranos.

Anna Netrebko’s voice tore my heart out with “Eccomi in lieta vesta”, where she speaks about needing to marry Tebaldo in the morning and yet having already married Romeo.

This is immediately followed by the aria “Oh! quante volte” giving Ms Netrebko a chance to really shine. Again, there aren’t the pyrotechnics of earlier classical arias, but the tenderness she pours out in her voice fills you with a sense of her emotional turmoil. It is delightfully done. Throughout the opera Giulietta has some of the best music in terms of melody and Ms Netrebko sings each moment with tender perfection.

When Romeo suggests running away, the recitative between Ms Garanča and Ms Netrebko allows both the women to show the strength in their voices. Yet, it is followed by “Ah, crudel, d’onor ragioni” allowing them tender, anguished moments. Their voices are beautifully blended, each maintaining a sense of individuality in specific moments as to clearly identify who is singing at any given time. The two voices balance so perfectly to completely envelope their voices into one spirit.

There are, however, moments in the recording that don’t work so well. Because there is no stage action to follow, there are moments where the chorus is singing, or multiple voices supported by strong orchestration where the voices are lost, unintelligible. Perhaps this is due to microphones being further from the voices in choral moments, or a fault of the orchestration, mix or any number of other factors. It is the one down-side of reviewing an opera performance on recording – there is no stage action to provide clarity where sound alone does not.

That said, the strength in the male choruses of Capuleti do have moments where they shine. “Lieta notta avventurosa” is a great piece that really allows the men to be bold, joyous and very “manly”.

Fabio Luisi did a masterful job with pacing of the music throughout the production. The flow was seamless yet dynamic, constantly moving to keep the tension of the music, providing a sense of action all the way through. When the action needed to be bold or tense, the strength of the orchestral accents was driven to perfectly match the inflection of the voices. Yet, when the music needed to be tender, it was light and liquid, again corresponding to the voices perfectly.

I Capuleti E I Montecchi performed by the Wiener Singakademie was recorded live in Vienna, April 2008. It is a superb recording; the fact it was done live makes it even more astonishing that it was so crystal clear in nearly every moment. I wish I could have been in the audience to see the full performance.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Seven Emerging Composers Chosen for 2009 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute

Composers will travel to Minneapolis for Orchestra’s acclaimed professional training program; Institute runs from November 17-22, 2009, highlighted by November 21 Future Classics concert

Seven emerging composers have been selected as participants in the Minnesota Orchestra’s ninth annual Composer Institute, Institute Director Aaron Jay Kernis announced today. Chosen from a pool of 143 candidates through a competitive process, the composers hail from locations throughout the U.S. as well as Spain and Hong Kong , and their works represent a variety of musical styles. They will travel to Minneapolis from November 17 to 22, 2009, for six days of rehearsals, seminars and tutoring sessions, as well as a public concert of their works on Saturday, November 21, led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä.

The participants are Fernando Buide of Santiago , Spain ; Geoff Knorr of Baltimore , Maryland ; Hong Kong native Angel Lam of New Haven , Connecticut ; Kathryn Salfelder of Boston , Massachusetts ; Carl Schimmel of Grinnell , Iowa ; Spencer Topel of Hanover , New Hampshire ; and Roger Zare of Sarasota , Florida .

“We received dozens of exceptionally-crafted scores, which made the final choices difficult,” says Mr. Kernis, who chaired the selection panel. “The high quality of submissions confirms what we know from past Composer Institutes: the future of new orchestral music is vibrant and strong.” Other panel members included composers Derek Bermel, Donald Crockett and Steven Stucky, as well as Orchestra violist Kenneth Freed.

Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute: Acclaimed program enters ninth year The Orchestra’s Composer Institute, co-presented with the American Composers Forum in cooperation with the American Music Center , is widely recognized as one of the leading professional training programs for emerging symphonic composers. The Institute, directed by Kernis, is an outgrowth of the Orchestra’s Perfect Pitch program, an annual series of new music reading sessions for Minnesota composers launched during the 1995-96 season. Many of the 86 composers who have previously taken part in Perfect Pitch and the Composer Institute have gone on to receive major commissions, awards, grants and additional performances of their works.

More on the 2009 Composer Institute participants
Fernando Buide’s compositions have been performed by such ensembles as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Latin American String Quartet and Real Filharmonía de Galicia in his native Spain . In addition to orchestral and chamber music, he writes for choral and wind ensembles. He earned degrees at Carnegie Mellon University and the Yale School of Music. The Orchestra will perform his Antiphonies.

Geoff Knorr is a recent graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, where he earned degrees in music composition and recording arts and sciences. His music has been honored with numerous awards including the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. He works as a composer and sound designer at the computer game developer Firaxis Games. The Orchestra will perform his Shadows of the Infinite.

Angel Lam’s music has been heard throughout the U.S. and in many major cities around the world. In recent years her composition Empty Mountain, Spirit Rain was included in the touring repertoire of the Silk Road Ensemble. In fall 2009 her new work for cello and orchestra will be premiered by Yo-Yo Ma and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. The Orchestra will perform her In Search of Seasons.

Kathryn Salfelder has recently won several major composition awards including the ASCAP/CBDNA Frederick Fennell Prize and the U.S. Air Force Band’s Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel Award. In addition to her work as a composer, she is also active as a pianist. She earned a bachelor’s degree at the New England Conservatory and will begin studies at Yale in fall 2009. The Orchestra will perform her Dessin No. 1.

Carl Schimmel is assistant professor of composition and theory at Illinois State University. His music has been heard across North America, Europe and Asia, and has been recognized with many awards. In 2008 he was interviewed on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered about his Elemental Homunculi for piano, saxophone and squeaky toy. The Orchestra will perform his Woolgatherer’s Chapbook.

Spencer Topel is currently pursuing a doctor of musical arts degree at Cornell University, and serves as lecturer and technical director at Dartmouth College in the Digital Musics Program. In addition, he holds degrees from the Juilliard School. His compositions have been performed at venues ranging from New York ’s Carnegie Hall to the Tokyo City Opera Hall. The Orchestra will perform his Incendio.

Roger Zare has earned composition degrees from the University of Southern California and Peabody Conservatory of music, and is now pursuing a doctorate at the University of Michigan . He has won such major awards as the prestigious ASCAP Rudolf Nissim Prize and two BMI Student Composer Awards. In addition to composing he plays piano and violin. The Orchestra will perform his Aerodynamics.

In addition to the seven composers chosen to participate in the Composer Institute, the panel designated the following applicants as alternates: Wang Jie, Ching-Mei Lin and Alex Miller. Named as runners-up are: Jean Ahn, Armando Bayolo, Ted Goldman and David Weaver. Cited for honorable mention are: Christopher Cerrone, Peter Fahey, Matthew Hough, Chia-Yi Hsu, Sally Lamb, Xinyan Li, Arthur McCaffrey, Andrew McPherson, Andreia Pinto-Correia, Gity Razaz and Vladamir Smirnov.