. Interchanging Idioms: September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Miguel Harth-Bedoya Brings his Passion for Music to the Colorado Symphony Orchestra This Weekend

This weekend Miguel Harth-Bedoya is guest conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra through some great Classical pieces of music by Mozart and Beethoven and adding a touch of modern music to the mix with a piece he personally commissioned, Fiesta! Amid his busy schedule he took time to sit down and chat with me for a few moments about the upcoming performance, the music and how it all ties together.

Prior to the interview I had heard of Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s charming personality from several members of the Colorado Symphony. He is not only enjoyable to work with as a conductor, but engaging and friendly. In my review of his performance at Vail Music Festival I commented "Harth-Bedoya danced his way through the Habanera third movement"; meeting him in person the sparkling personality seems to suggests he dances through life as well.

The concert pairs Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony and Mozart’s 5th Violin Concerto with a modern piece by Jimmy Lopez, Fiesta!. When I asked about how he approached a concert with such different styles of music he explained, “The music of Fiesta! is pop music, the dances which are very popular in Latin America. Composing in this way is like before Classical music, in the Baroque era, like what Bach used to do. The Saraband was a dance of the time, but you cannot dance to it, not the way Bach wrote it. Still, everyone knew it was dance music of the day. Jimmy is doing the same thing, writing popular music of the day in a classical style.”

Feista! is rich in the use of Latin rhythms. The overall piece is 10 mins but broken down into four small “dances.” While dance rhythms may have been the basis of the music, there is a complexity that will challenge the best orchestras. Miguel Harth-Bedoya is glad he has a week to prepare for this concert with the Colorado Symphony.

In Vail there is only one day for rehearsal because the orchestras are performing three and four times a week, so there just isn’t time for more. “It’s always tricky to do those concerts in Vail with only one rehearsal,” he begins to explain. “They play three or four programs a week. With only one rehearsal you can’t come back to anything.” (He says this and yet still managed to give an excellent performance!) This week he is enjoying the time to really work over the various spots in the music to make sure the orchestra and conductor are together through it all.

Harth-Bedoya also spoke of the importance of the bond between the conductor, orchestra and composer. “There needs to be a bond between the three performers. If any one is not connected the performance is less than it should be.” He went on to explain, “I need to feel a connection with the music, with the composer.” When I mentioned the intense rhythm of the Lopez piece he said, “I enjoy rhythm. There needs to be a clear sense of rhythm for me to really connect with a piece.” And then he went on to discuss his first conducting experience at the age of 19. He had grown up with Latin rhythms and his conducting teacher started him off with the slow movement of Brahms 1st Symphony. He persevered to learn how to approach all forms of music with a sense of interest, to find the beauty. Now, whether the piece is fast or slow Miguel Harth-Bedoya understands how to get the most out of each performance.

In a review of Harth-Bedoya's performance at the Hollywood Bowl earlier this month, Richard S. Ginell says, "Ravel actually made a recording of his biggest hit on 78s in 1930, enforcing what might seem like a doggedly slow tempo to us. Well, Harth-Bedoya managed to hit Ravel’s tempo on the button (by my stopwatch, matching Ravel’s 16 minute, 7 second recording to the second!), and as a result, the piece gains a menacing, obstinate momentum." It is this sort of musical understanding that keeps the reviewers raving about his performances.

In terms of musical understanding and taste we also discussed tonality verses atonality. “All music has elements that can be enjoyed. The key is to find those elements, those things that make it beautiful.” When he commissioned Jimmy Lopez for Fiesta! there was no criteria other than it had to be 10 minutes. Miguel Harth-Bedoya was confident Señor Lopez would write something beautiful (and he has). The conductor then needs to find his own personal connection to it to bring it to life. Having heard the recording of Fiesta! by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (see my review), I am certain Miguel Harth-Bedoya found it. It will be thrilling to see how he translates this connection to the Colorado Symphony this weekend.

However, it is not just the modern pieces, or Latin American music that gets such special attention from Miguel Harth-Bedoya. His broad appreciation for all music keeps bringing new life to music we’ve heard hundreds of times already. He strives to find the beauty in all things; he has a lust for life and this passion comes out when he is speaking to you in person or when he is standing on the podium.

Concert Details

Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Miguel Harth-Bedoya, conductor
Augustin Hadelich, violin

MOZART - Violin Concerto No. 5
BEETHOVEN - Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

October 2nd, 7:30pm
Boettcher Concert Hall

October 3rd, 7:30pm
Boettcher Concert Hall

October 4, 2:30pm
Boettcher Concert Hall

Purchase tickets online at:www.ticketmaster.com

Pulitzer Foundation For The Arts and Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra Announce 2009-2010 Chamber Music Series

This unique series of chamber concerts is a collaboration between two of St. Louis ’ most vital arts organizations: the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. For the series, SLSO Music Director David Robertson selects works that relate to various the mes to be found in the Pulitzer exhibitions, thus inviting a stimulating dialogue between music, visual art, and architecture. In 2009-2010, the September 30 concert will be performed in conjunction with Ideal [Dis-Placements: Old Masters at the Pulitzer, with contemporary music that creates echoes of “old masters” composers.

All other concerts this season will be presented in conjunction with Urban Alchemy/Gordon Matta-Clark, which will be on exhibit at the Pulitzer from October 30, 2009 through June 5, 2010. Trained as an architect, Matta-Clark used neglected structures slated for demolition as his raw material, providing new ways of perceiving space, and creating metaphors for the human condition. Robertson has selected compositions by an intriguing array of 20th- and 21st- century composers, including György Kurtág, Steve Reich, John Cage, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, whose works create the ir own sense of space, of abandonment, and of restoration. Musicians of the SLSO perform all works.

WEDNESDAYS AT 7:30PM (doors open at 7pm)
SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 (in conjunction with Old Masters exhibition)
ELLIOTT CARTER Three Tributes (2007-08) US Premiere
SALVATORE SCIARRINO Perduto in una città d'acque (1991)
      Nicolas Hodges, piano
JONATHAN HARVEY Death of Light / Light of Death (1998)
      Philip Ross , oboe
      Carolyn Banham, English horn
      Megan Stout, harp and tam-tam
      Erin Schreiber , violin
      Weijing Wang , viola
      Bjorn Ranheim , cello

NOVEMBER 18, 2009
GYÖRGY KURTÁG Wind Quintet, op. 2
BARTÓK Sonata for solo violin
LIGETI Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet
JANUARY 27, 2010
David Robertson conducting
KAGEL …, den 24.xii.1931

MARCH 10, 2010
STEVE REICH Violin Phase
CAGE Litany for the Whale

APRIL 28, 2010

WHERE: Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, 3716 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, MO ; www.pulitzerarts.org

TICKETS: $75 for five-concert series; $20 for single concert

Tickets may be purchased online at www.slso.org, or by phone at 314-534-1700 or in person at the Powell Hall Box Office, 718 N. Grand Blvd. Day-of-show tickets may be purchased at the Pulitzer.

Daniele Gatti To Lead The Boston Symphony Orchestra In Carnegie Hall Season Opener, Thursday, October 1

Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture Replaces Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, On An Otherwise Unchanged Program Including Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 With Evgeny Kissin; New York Premiere Of John Williams’s On Willows And Birches, With Legendary Harpist Ann Hobson Pilot; And Debussy’s La Mer

Daniele Gatti will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the opening night concert of the 2009-10 Carnegie Hall season, Thursday, October 1, at 7 p.m. BSO Music Director James Levine had to withdraw from all his conducting appearances this week, including the Carnegie Hall opener, due to immediate unanticipated back surgery for a herniated disc.

For the first concert of the 119th Carnegie Hall season, Daniele Gatti will open the program with Beethoven’s Coriolan Overture, replacing the originally programmed Berlioz Roman Carnival Overture, and close with Debussy’s La Mer. Virtuoso pianist Evgeny Kissin will join Mr. Gatti and the BSO for Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Mr. Gatti will also lead the orchestra in the New York premiere of John Williams’s On Willows and Birches, featuring former BSO principal harpist Ann Hobson Pilot. John Williams wrote On Willows and Birches as a gift for Ms. Pilot—the first and only African-American woman to be appointed to the BSO, and who recently retired from the BSO after a legendary 40-year career with the orchestra. The new work received its world premiere at the opening of the BSO’s Symphony Hall season in Boston on Wednesday, September 23, under the direction of James Levine.

“All of us at the BSO are disappointed that James Levine is unable to conduct the Carnegie Hall opening night concert, but we are incredibly fortunate that Daniele Gatti was able to take over the program on such short notice.” said Mark Volpe, BSO Managing Director. “Our thoughts are with Jim and we wish him a speedy recovery so he can soon return to the BSO podium. His thoughts, I am sure, are with the orchestra and I know he shares our excitement to be opening Carnegie Hall’s 119th season.”

Maestro Levine also had to cancel two appearances with the BSO this week at Symphony Hall in Boston, including last night’s concert of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Mozart’s Requiem, which was conducted by Boston Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductor Shi-Yeon Sung. BSO Assistant Conductors Julian Kuerti and Shi-Yeon Sung will split the program on Saturday, October 3, which honors Ann Hobson Pilot’s 40-year tenure as harpist with the BSO. Mr. Kuerti will conduct the first half of the program, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4. Ms. Sung will conduct Elliott Carter’s Mosaic, for harp and chamber ensemble, Debussy’s Danses sacrée et profane for harp and orchestra, John Williams’s On Willows and Birches, for harp and orchestra, and Ravel’s La Valse, with Ann Hobson Pilot returning to the BSO principal harp chair for this special occasion.


There are a limited number of tickets remaining, starting at $59, available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street. Tickets may also be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or online by visiting carnegiehall.org.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Boston Symphony Orchestra Music Director James Levine Withdraws From Conducting This Weeks Concerts Due to Immediate Unanticipated Back Surgery

Bso Assistant Conductors Shi-Yeon Sung And Julian Kuerti To Share Conducting Responsibilities For The Saturday, October 3 Symphony Hall Program Of Music By Beethoven, Carter, Debussy, Williams, And Ravel

BSO Music Director James Levine has had to withdraw from his upcoming conducting appearances tonight, September 29, and Saturday, October 3, at Symphony Hall in Boston, and Thursday, October 1, at Carnegie Hall in New York, due to immediate unanticipated back surgery for a herniated disc.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductor Shi-Yeon Sung will conduct tonight’s performance of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Mozart’s Requiem with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Assistant Conductors Julian Kuerti and Shi-Yeon Sung will split the program on Saturday, October 3, which honors Ann Hobson Pilot’s 40-year tenure as harpist with the BSO. Mr. Kuerti will conduct the first half of the program, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4. Ms. Sung will conduct Elliott Carter’s Mosaic, for harp and chamber ensemble, Debussy’s Danses sacrée et profane for harp and orchestra, John Williams’s On Willows and Birches, for harp and orchestra, and Ravel’s La Valse, with Ann Hobson Pilot returning to the BSO principal harp chair for this special occasion.

“All of us at the BSO are disappointed that Maestro Levine will not be able to conduct the Tuesday and Saturday subscription concerts in Boston and Opening Night at Carnegie Hall,” said Mark Volpe, BSO Managing Director. “Our thoughts are with Jim and we wish him a speedy recovery so he can soon return to the BSO podium and the glorious music-making for which he is so universally known. We are fortunate at the BSO to have two very talented assistant conductors, Shi-Yeon Sung and Julian Kuerti, who are scheduled to fill in for the two programs to take place in Boston this week. Despite Jim’s absence, we remain very excited to open Carnegie Hall’s 2009-10 season.”

Sting and Trudie Styler Star in Twin Spirits DVD

The poignant and tragic love story of Robert and Clara Schumann told in words and music released on Opus Arte September 29th DVD sales to support the vital work of the Royal Opera House Education Program

On September 29th, Opus Arte presents Twin Spirits, the story of the passionate romance and subsequent marriage between composer Robert Schumann and piano prodigy Clara Wieck, available on DVD and Blu-Ray disc. This production from the Royal Opera House brings together nine diverse performers of the highest caliber: Sting, an artist who defies simple classification, joins his wife, actress and producer Trudie Styler to read from the letters between Robert and Clara. Their story, narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi, is illustrated and interwoven with music composed by Robert – whose spirit is embodied by pianist Iain Burnside, baritone Simon Keenlyside and violinist Sergej Krylov – and by Clara, who is evoked by pianist Natasha Paremski, soprano Rebecca Evans, and cellist Natalie Clein. This subtle and moving piece, a fusion of recital and drama, was devised by the stage director and writer John Caird. His credits include Hamlet and Candide at the National Theatre, Les Misérables and Nicholas Nickleby with Trevor Nunn, and Don Carlos for Welsh National Opera.

“A performance like this is a personal journey,” Sting explains. “You’re forced to share very private thoughts and make them public, and that creates a tension. This love story – the relationship and the tragedy – provides a great introduction for people who don’t normally listen to classical music. Hearing the Schumanns’ music at the same time as telling their story is a very intimate, engaging and emotional experience.”

Love began to blossom between Robert Schumann (1810-56) and Clara Wieck (1819-90) when she was a teenager and he was the student of her father, Friedrich Wieck, who made every effort to impede the relationship. She was one of the 19th century’s greatest pianists and herself a composer of note. After a legal battle with her father the couple finally married in 1840. In the 1850s their happiness became compromised by Robert’s increasing mental instability, which resulted in a suicide attempt in 1854; he died in an asylum in 1856. Clara, who lived for another 40 years, devoted her considerable energies to propagating her husband’s music, which is at its greatest in his intimate works for piano, voice and chamber ensemble.

Twin Spirits tells a great human drama, irrespective of the fact that it’s about two great musicians,” says director John Caird. “It makes us think about love, marriage, relationships, pain, illness and how they influence art and life. Robert and Clara's chamber music was almost like a diary and listening to it you feel you are looking into the pages of something deeply personal.”

Twin Spirits was recorded before a small audience in a studio space at London’s Royal Opera House shortly before Christmas 2007. All the artists involved donated their talent and time so that everyone buying a copy will be supporting the important work of the Royal Opera House Education Program which provides opportunities for some 90,000 people annually to engage with opera, music and dance. These projects reach people of all ages and backgrounds, including the isolated and elderly, the socially deprived, disabled adults and children, young offenders and for these people they have a very significant and positive impact. The Royal Opera House’s work helps them to become enthusiastic and motivated, learn self-respect, discover the potential within themselves and develop a team spirit. For every performance on the world-famous stage, at least twice as many educational activities are taking place and this work is a vital part of the Royal Opera House’s mission.

“When we started on this adventure with Twin Spirits,” adds Trudie Styler, “I was profoundly moved by the richness and power of the narrative. The passion of Robert and Clara’s love transcends the ages. It is a wonderful and moving story which I believe remains fascinating and relevant to today's world.”

The original performance of Twin Spirits took place in June 2005, also at the Royal Opera House. Other charity performances took place at Salisbury Cathedral (to benefit the Salisbury Cathedral Girl Choristers), the New Victory Theatre in New York (to benefit Broadway Cares – Equity Fights Aids) and, at the Prince of Wales’ invitation, Windsor Castle (to benefit the Royal Opera House Foundation, and Soil Association). Among other performers who have participated alongside Sting and Trudie are actors Sir Ian McKellen, Charles Dance, and Jonathan Pryce and violinists Vasko Vassilev and Joshua Bell.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Leon Botstein and American Symphony Orchestra Open 47th Season with U.S. Premiere of Vincent D’Indy’s Opera Fervaal

October 14th Concert Performance of Fervaal Is First of Six Performances by ASO at Avery Fisher Hall This Season, the Orchestra’s 17th as Part of “Great Performers at Lincoln Center”

“Operatic rescue missions have been the most valuable element of Leon Botstein’s directorship of the American Symphony Orchestra, a trend that continues with a concert performance of d’Indy’s ‘Fervaal’” —The New Yorker

The American Symphony Orchestra opens its 17th season in the “Great Performers at Lincoln Center ” series in Avery Fisher Hall on Wednesday, October 14 at 8pm, with the first U.S. performance of Vincent d’Indy’s Romantic grand opera Fervaal. Leon Botstein, the orchestra’s Music Director, conducts the concert performance. This first offering in the ASO’s 2009-2010 Lincoln Center season marks the start of the orchestra’s new policy of charging only $25 for every single ticket to its concerts. Tickets are available by calling (212) 868-9276 (9ASO) or visiting www.americansymphony.org.

Fervaal continues the ASO’s remarkable series of golden-age French Romantic operas-in-concert, which have included Dukas’s Ariane et Barbe-bleue, Chausson’s Le roi Arthus, and Lalo’s Le roi d’Ys. Both Claude Debussy and Paul Dukas evidently held Fervaal in higher esteem than Richard Wagner’s epics, but d’Indy’s Fervaal – like works by many of his French contemporaries – was inspired by Wagner, and among other familiar touches, the work has love/death and other themes in common with the latter’s Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal.

The ASO is also the resident orchestra at the Bard SummerScape festival, where its recent performances of the grand Romantic French opera, Les Huguenots, by Giacomo Meyerbeer, earned unanimous praise. It was the crowning achievement of SummerScape, dedicated to the exploration of “Wagner and His World,” and the production was described by the New York Times as “a chance to enter into the cultural mind-set of a rich era in opera history. ... Mr. Botstein once again deserves credit for an overdue rescue job.”

Vincent d’Indy (1851-1931) was 20 when France went to war with Prussia , but despite being an ardent Roman Catholic and French patriot, d’Indy decided to devote himself to his musical career rather than join the troops. In 1876 he attended the Bayreuth premiere of Wagner’s Ring, and not long afterward undertook an operatic adaptation of the Swedish poem Axël, by Esias Tegnér, which he eventually turned into Fervaal, his masterpiece. By the time Fervaal was complete, d’Indy was well known for his lovely Symphonie sur un chant montagnard français (Symphony on a French Mountain Air). The composer wrote his own libretto from Tegnér’s Axël, moving it from 18th-century Sweden around the time of Charles XII to the dim medieval past in Celtic Cévennes in the French Midi (called Cravann in the opera). It concerns a wounded war-hero who is nursed to health by a mysterious woman – Guilhen, an enemy Saracen princess – with whom he falls in love. After he returns to battle against the Saracens, who are winning, she rejoins her father’s army. The two are ultimately reunited in death. Fervaal’s name recalls that of Parsifal (Percival), while Guilhen recalls a combination of Wagner’s Brünnhilde and Kundry. Even Fervaal’s Druid teacher Arfagard might be descended from Parsifal’s Gurnemanz. D’Indy himself wrote: “I have lived too close to the orbit of Wagner’s star not to have been fatally involved in his revolution.”

The composer referred to his work-in-three-acts (plus a prologue) as an “action musicale” and a “prose poem”, composing it between 1889 and 1895. Vincent Giroud writes in a program note for this American Symphony Orchestra concert:

“In another deliberate Wagnerian gesture, d’Indy based [Fervaal] on a strict leitmotiv system... combined with a symbolic use of tonalities (G major for Cravann, B major for war, D major for love, etc.). The orchestration...calls for large forces, including four saxophones...eight saxhorns...and even a mountain horn. The Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, which hosted the premieres of several major [French] operas of the period (from Massenet’s Hérodiade to Chausson’s Le roi Arthus), staged it first in March 1897.”

The principals from the world premiere in Brussels also sang the French premiere at the Paris Opéra Comique the next year, by which time France was embroiled in “l’Affaire Dreyfus”. “The nationalist right, with which d’Indy wholeheartedly identified [was pitted] against the partisans of the unjustly accused Jewish captain [Dreyfus],” continues Giroud. “It would, of course, be grossly unfair to see Fervaal as an anti-Semitic tract of the kind d’Indy, to his discredit, deliberately attempted with his fourth (and last) opera, La légende de Saint-Christophe.”

Vincent d’Indy: Fervaal, Op. 40
U.S. premiere, opera-in-concert
Leon Botstein conducts the American Symphony Orchestra
Wednesday, October 14, at 8.00 PM
Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center
All tickets $25

Russian Pianist Kirill Gerstein to tour US

Following a jet-setting summer at the festivals of Verbier, Aix-en-Provence, Lucerne, and Saratoga, plus concerts with Gustavo Dudamel in Caracas, 29-year-old Russian pianist Kirill Gerstein will perform a host of high-profile U.S. dates and debuts this season, including:

  • Oct. 9-11: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra debut; Hans Graf-cond. (Shostakovich: Piano Cto. No. 2)
  • Oct. 23-25: Detroit Symphony; Charles Greenwell-cond. (Rachmaninoff: Piano Cto. No. 3)
  • Jan. 6: Kennedy Center launch of a tour with cellist Steven Isserlis that includes San Francisco (Jan. 10)
  • Jan. 15-17: Houston Symphony; Hans Graf-cond. (Gershwin: Rhapsody; Ravel: Piano Cto. in G)
  • March 4-6: Chicago Symphony debut; Charles Dutoit-cond. (Rachmaninoff: Piano Cto. No. 2)
  • March 11-13: Atlanta Symphony debut; Vassily Sinaisky-cond. (Liszt: Piano Cto. No. 2)

Alberto Veronesi Conducts Puccini Rediscovered – A New Recording With Plácido Domingo And The Vienna Philharmonic

Deutsche Grammophon released the CD September 22

Alberto Veronesi conducts tenor Plácido Domingo, soprano Violeta Urmana and the Vienna Philharmonic in original editions and alternative versions of famous Puccini arias and ensembles, as well as little-known orchestral compositions, on a new recording released by Deutsche Grammophon September 22. The album is the first commercial recording of abandoned or variant versions of music from La Rondine, Madama Butterfly, Edgar, Manon Lescaut, La fanciulla del West, and Suor Angelica, taken from Puccini’s early stages of composition and subsequently revised scores. The works are performed from new editions by Puccini scholar Michael Kaye.

Puccini Rediscovered is Alberto Veronesi’s second album in an ongoing collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon of recordings dedicated to the post-Romantic Italian operatic tradition known as Verismo. The series began in 2006 with the critically acclaimed complete recording of Puccini’s early opera Edgar with Plácido Domingo in the title role. Upcoming recordings in the series include Mascagni's L'amico Fritz with Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna and the Deutsche Oper Berlin, to be released in November 2009, and three additional recordings to be released in 2010 including Giordano's Fedora with Ms. Gheorghiu and Mr. Domingo, Leoncavallo's I Medici with Mr. Domingo, and Mr. Leoncavallo's I Pagliacci with Ms. Gheorghiu and Mr. Alagna. Mr. Veronesi has also recorded Leoncavallo's La Nuit de mai with Mr. Domingo on an album that includes several arias performed with pianist Lang Lang.

In speaking of Puccini Rediscovered, Mr. Veronesi said: “This is a CD of Puccini’s most beautiful and famous arias, duets and pieces for orchestra in the original versions, which are generally a little different from the versions we are familiar with. It includes recently discovered works, such as ‘Sia benedetto il giorna,’ the Edgar love duet from Act 4; works added after a first performance, such as ‘Amici fiori’ from Suor Angelica; or changed for particular performances, such as ‘Ed ora bevo all’amor’ from Rondine. The Intermezzo to Act 3 of Manon Lescaut, which was included in the original but never used, is also included, and opening the CD is Preludio a Orchestra, Puccini’s very first orchestral piece, written when he was 16 years old. I am delighted to bring these rarely or never-before-heard works of this great Italian master to today’s music-lovers.”

Mr. Veronesi has done extensive research on works from the late 19th to early 20th Century Verismo operatic repertoire by composers such as Pietro Mascagni, Ruggiero Leoncavallo and Giacomo Puccini, among others, and has programmed and recorded lesser known works in an effort to give this underexposed repertoire a wider audience and establish new masterworks. Born in Milan, Mr. Veronesi studied at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory and while a student, founded the Guido Cantelli Orchestra, which has since remained in residence at the Conservatory. He directed the orchestra until 2000, including performances at the Salzburg Easter Festival (at the invitation of Claudio Abbado), Teatro alla Scala and Maggio Musicale. In 1999, Mr. Veronesi was appointed Musical Director of the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago, where he has not only since conducted all of Puccini's operas but was also actively involved the construction of a new opera house. In 2003, his production of La Bohème at the Festival won the Premio Abbiati, awarded by the Italian Music Critics Association. His performances at the Festival in 2009 included a new production of Manon Lescaut and a gala concert with soprano Angela Gheorghiu.

In 2001 Mr. Veronesi was named Artistic and Musical Director of the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana in Palermo, where he is performing complete cycles of symphonies by Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler and Shostakovich, as well as giving prominence to 20th-century Italian symphonic music and continuing to program contemporary works. He was also recently named Artistic Director of the Filarmonica del Teatro Comunale di Bologna.

As a guest conductor, Mr. Veronesi has led orchestras in New York, Rome, Tokyo, Athens, and Tel Aviv among other cities, and at opera houses such as Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and La Monnaie Bruxelles. He lives in Palermo with his wife and young daughter.

Arvo Pärt Symphony No 4 is Divergence from His Past with Hope for the Future

The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra premiered the fourth symphony by Arvo Pärt in January 2009 under the direction of Esa-Pekka Salonen as part of the Deutsche Grammophon Concerts. Deutsche Grammophon will release a digital download of this concert later this year. Although the piece is subtitles "Los Angeles" it is dedicated to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian oil executive with political ambitions who now sits in a Siberian prison. While the music is not necessarily cheery, there is a wish for "peace of soul and vigilance of mind" from the composer to all those imprisoned in Russia.

Listening to the recording, the music is sparse and almost lyrical, but very dark - filled with anxiety. There is a depth in tone to the slow moving music, very different than the previous three symphonies Arvo Pärt has composed. In the first movement, the music slowly unfolds as if attempting to find a melody but too anguished to complete it. The second movement adds layers of interesting textures from marimba and pizzicato strings to chimes of cymbols, piano and triangle, almost as if the bells from an Eastern Orthodox Church were tolling in the distance – an other worldly sound. The music is definitely movitic based, but not necessarily melodic. Unlike Pärt’s first three symphonies which are very melodic and angular, his fourth symphony is meditative and solicitous.

In the third movement the shift and sighs of the orchestra returns, with Holst like elements. A solo violin weeps a melody, taken then by the strings. The melody finally comes to the surface as the “tune” descends slowly from the first violins to the violas, then cellos and double basses. When it can go no lower we hear a marching, not a death march but a determination to move forward, to move out, up and free. While the marching begins ominous, it inverts the movement of the melody by climbing through the orchestra until it is floating in the clouds.

Over all it is a beautiful piece and the music does serves well to give the piece the space and intensity it needs - if but for a struggle with the final upper register notes in the last movement. Because the rest of the piece is so very tonal, the problem with these last notes in the recording diminished the final effect of hope soaring over the top. Mark Swed reviewed the concert saying "Nothing when Pärt’s music is performed can be out of place, and nothing here was." Well, for me the tuning was an issue – but otherwise a beautiful piece. I really enjoyed the thoughtful, contemplative aspect of the music and feel Pärt’s orchestration is masterfully done.

It is a wonderful work, not only a departure from what he has done before, but a huge leap forward. There are five planned performances of it this year and another four already for next year all in Europe.

Opera Colorado Presents Offenbach's Vivid Fantasy The Tales of Hoffmann

4 Performances Only: November 7, 10, 13 & 15

DENVER, CO— A poet explores a surreal dreamscape as he recalls his lost loves in Opera Colorado’s production of Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann, playing for four performances only at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, November 7 through the 15. Tickets, ranging in price from $30 to $160 are available at OperaColorado.org or by calling 800.982.ARTS.

Created by director Renaud Doucet and production designer André Barbe, the opera is a vivid flight of the imagination about a poet named Hoffmann who is in love with four unforgettable women. The hero travels to a mad scientist’s laboratory, the surreal home of a fragile young singer, and a Venetian brothel, but encounters evil villains who seek to ruin his chance at love. Offenbach’s lush music fuels the visual style of the stage design, inspired by graphic artist M.C. Escher, and the lavish costumes, inspired by 19th century French couture. This will be Opera Colorado’s first performance of Offenbach’s masterpiece in more than twenty-five years.

The opera stars Australian tenor Julian Gavin (Carmen, 2005) in the title role alongside soprano Pamela Armstrong (La traviata, 2007), who takes on the challenging task of performing all four female roles. Normally these roles are performed by three different singers; to take on all four roles is truly a superhuman feat for any soprano. French-Canadian bass-baritone Gaétan Laperrière makes his Opera Colorado debut performing the roles of the Four Villains. The performance will be conducted by renowned French conductor Emmanuel Joel-Hornak, making his Opera Colorado debut.

The Tales of Hoffmann was created by Opera Colorado in cooperation with Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Boston Lyric Opera.

Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet Performs
All-Gershwin Concert with the Baltimore Symphony, Nov. 12-15

Baltimore, Md. (September 28, 2009)—Music Director Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform a program featuring George Gershwin classics with French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet as soloist at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall on Thursday and Friday, November 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, November 15 at 3:00 p.m. and at The Music Center at Strathmore on Saturday, November 14 at 8:00 p.m. The program includes Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Concerto in F, “I Got Rhythm” Variations, Overture to Girl Crazy and Overture to Of Thee I Sing. Gershwin’s music fuses classical traditions with the American vernacular, a characteristic that highlights the BSO’s season-long theme of exploring cultural roots. Receiving excellent reviews from the Washington Post for conveying “vigor,” “sensitivity” and “star power” during his performance of “Rhapsody” and Concerto in F with the BSO in the spring of 2008, Thibaudet now returns for another evening of “power-Gershwin.” Thibaudet will also return to the BSO the following week, November 19-21, to perform Liszt’s Totentanz.

Instantly recognizable by the clarinet’s opening wail, Rhapsody in Blue has become a piano standard since it was written in 1923. The piece was premiered at a concert of “experimental music” hosted by big band leader Paul Whiteman. Whiteman had asked Gershwin to write a “jazz concerto” months before the concert, but after a few scribbles, the project was abandoned. Gershwin later read in an issue of the New York Tribune that he was to play this as-yet unwritten piece in a concert scheduled for a month later. He finished Rhapsody in Blue just days before he was to play, and improvised all of the solos, having given Paul Whiteman the instruction that he would nod when the orchestra should come back in. The piece, which Gershwin is quoted as saying is “a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness,” was a huge success. The BSO will perform the original version of the piece for jazz orchestra rather than the classical version heard performed by most orchestras today.

While Gershwin completed Rhapsody with almost no musical training, he bought books on theory and orchestration to aid his composition of Concerto in F, written just a few years later. Although the piece was intended to have more of a classical structure, Gershwin’s writing again displays his jazz tendencies. The Concerto reveals his inner struggle between his wish to be considered a “serious” composer and advice from his jazz colleagues, who encouraged him to ignore studying counterpoint and harmony.

Considered his last classical concert piece, Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” Variations were composed in 1933-1934, just years before his death. The variations are based on the hit song from his Broadway musical Girl Crazy. Like Rhapsody, the piece opens with a clarinet solo, which is followed by six variations on the “I Got Rhythm” melody.

George Gershwin often collaborated with his older brother Ira Gershwin to create some of the most memorable songs on Broadway. Their musical Girl Crazy (1930) and was a smashing success that made stars of both Ginger Rogers and Ethel Merman. The Broadway production Of Thee I Sing premiered a year later in 1931 and was the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1932).


Classical Concert Series: All-Gershwin
Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. —Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Friday, November 13, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. —JMSH
Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 8:00 p.m. — The Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, November 15, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. — JMSH

Marin Alsop, conductor
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, piano

Gershwin: Overture to Girl Crazy
Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Gershwin: “I Got Rhythm” Variations
Gershwin: Overture to Of Thee I Sing
Gershwin: Concerto in F

Tickets are $28 to $90 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Opera Shorts at Carnegie Hall/October 1st

Remarkable Theater Brigade’s (RTB) upcoming October 1st Carnegie Hall Season Opening of Opera Shorts: 10-minute Operas. Under the Musical Direction of Christian McLeer and Noby Ishida with Monica Harte, Julia Amisano, Jamin Flabiano, Scott Roche, Elizabeth Bell, Laura Federici, Kevin Ginter, Olga Shyp, Jocelyn O'Toole, Sara Dougherty and many more, the RTB will present a variety of short little operas to be enjoyed by the entire family. Some of the composers writing for RTB include Seymour Barab, Tom Cipullo, Patrick Soluri, Rob Voisey, Anne Phillips, George Brunner, Ben Bierman and of course, Christian McLeer.

Remarkable Theater Brigade is dedicated to creating and presenting new works for theatrical performances in New York City. They exist as a not for profit company founded in 2002, and its team has created and produced exciting and impressive new musical productions including orchestral works, operas, ballets, musicals and electro-acoustic works as well as taking children’s versions of its productions to special-needs and at risk children for free.

Tickets start at $30. Go to carnegiehall.org, call CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800 or visit the Box Office at 57th Street and 7th Avenue.

Janine Jansen Beethoven/Britten Violin Concertos Out on the 29th

NEW YORK, NY – On September 29th, Decca will release a new recording in which violinist Janine Jansen fulfills a long-held ambition to record Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto alongside the most monumental of all violin works, the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Janine Jansen regularly thrills audiences with both her startlingly fresh interpretations of repertoire staples and remarkable takes on lesser-known works. The Times of London recently put it succinctly that "Whenever a violin repertory piece needs revitalizing, there’s one simple solution. Hire Janine Jansen to play it." Janine records these concerti with two different orchestras to fully explore two very different sound worlds: the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen for the Beethoven and the London Symphony Orchestra for Britten. Paavo Järvi conducts both performances.

“To make a recording of the Beethoven and Britten Violin Concertos has been a dream of mine for years. They are two of the greatest concertos ever written — so different yet both so real.

“The Beethoven is the purest and in many ways the most beautiful concerto in the violin repertoire. The giant! I felt so intimidated by it at first, perhaps because the general perception is that one can only play and understand this piece when one is older and highly experienced. I first played it at a very young age — I was so over-awed it felt like the longest forty-five minutes of my life — but with time and greater maturity, I have discovered so much depth in this remarkable music.”
- Janine

Playing the concerto with Paavo Järvi and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen in March 2009 was one of the highlights of Janine’s career to date. “At first I was concerned that my approach was too Romantic,” she recalls, “and that I wouldn’t blend with the orchestra’s style of playing with little vibrato and its wonderfully pure sound. When we played it together for the first time my doubts simply disappeared.”

If the Beethoven concerto occupies a hallowed place in every concert violinist’s repertoire, the Britten is still a comparative rarity. Yet for Janine it is one of the greatest works in its genre and one she has loved and championed since she first played it nearly ten years ago. “I have fallen completely in love with this extraordinary piece and I try to program it wherever and whenever I can,” she beams. “The Britten is technically very challenging for both soloist and orchestra, but the musical language is as intense and expressive as can be — such underlying tension! For me the most impressive part of the concerto is the very end. The coda starts like a prayer and becomes a cry of pain and despair. You can feel how influenced Britten was by the tensions in the world at the time of the Spanish Civil War. After playing the last notes I feel emotionally finished and empty, yet at the same time nourished and filled with wonder.”

Janine Jansen’s passion for the Britten Concerto is evident to all who experience her performing it. Following a performance with Neeme Järvi and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in 2005, Bradley Bambarger of the Star-Ledger raved, “Jansen played Benjamin Britten's Violin Concerto with bravura abandon, her hair whipping around and the strands flying off her bow. Just hitting the myriad notes of Britten's challenging score in tune and in time wasn't enough for this risk-taking soloist. She maximized the expressivity of every one, making those notes whisper and sing, caress and sear.”

Central to the success of this particular recording is the special musical relationship Janine enjoys with conductor Paavo Järvi and both orchestras: “What I love about our collaborations is the amazing flexibility and sense of communication, in which we get inspired by each other’s ideas. We make music in, for me, the only possible way. Listening to each other, reacting to each other, being open to new ideas and being passionate about it!”

Janine Jansen will perform the Beethoven Concerto with the renowned Orpheus Chamber Orchestra on a national tour from October 2nd through the 8th making stops in Purchase, Costa Mesa, Seattle, Lafayette, PA and finally New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Joyce DiDonato Opens Her “Rossini Season” as Rosina in the Metropolitan Opera’s Scintillating Production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia

Opens on October 3rd with EMI Virgin Classics Releasing Her New Recording of Rossini Arias Three Days Later

Rossini is much on the menu for Joyce DiDonato’s year ahead. The mezzo begins the season with her inimitable portrayal of Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Metropolitan Opera on October 3, and just a few days later, on October 6, she celebrates the release of Rossini - Joyce DiDonato – Colbran, the Muse, her second solo arias collection on EMI/Virgin Classics, for which she records exclusively. Two other opera companies are fortunate to present DiDonato’s world-famous portrayal of Rosina during the season: Los Angeles Opera, where she makes her debut on November 29, and later Milan’s La Scala, to which she returns on July 9. DiDonato’s Rosina is already legendary, having been watched by millions in opera houses, transmissions and broadcasts throughout the U.S. and the world. The much talked-about portrayal was captured and screened in an early Met: Live in HD transmission, with popular and frequent repeat screenings on TV and in theaters, and, more recently, free in the Lincoln Center Plaza (in front of the Met) earlier in September. When DiDonato broke her leg during a June performance of Barbiere at London’s Covent Garden , laudably finishing the run of shows wearing a bright pink cast while navigating the set in a wheelchair, the role of Rosina was unequivocally hers. Late next spring, another Rossini opera, La donna del Lago, provides the setting for DiDonato’s ninth role debut in six seasons when she sings Elena in Geneva (May 5); she reprises the part a few weeks later at the Paris Opéra with tenor Juan Diego Flórez (June 14).

Setting aside her signature role and her season composer, in February Joyce DiDonato returns to the Lyric Opera of Chicago to sing Mozart: Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro. DiDonato glittered as Cherubino in her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2005, a portrayal Opera News described as "frisky and emotionally true ... An artist at the top of her game”. In this Lyric Opera of Chicago production, DiDonato joins an all-star cast that includes Danielle de Niese as Susanna and Anne Schwanewilms as the Countess.

DiDonato’s Rossini arias on CD On her new EMI/Virgin Classics CD, DiDonato – Rossini Arias – Colbran, the Muse, the follow-up to last season’s Billboard-charting Furore - Handel Opera Arias, DiDonato sings scenes from six operas that Rossini composed for the Spanish soprano Isabella Colbran (1785-1845), his muse and wife. They include two of Elena’s scenes from La donna del Lago (including the famous showpiece “Tanti affetti”), as well as arias from Rossini’s Otello, Semiramide, Armida, Maometto II, and Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra. DiDonato sings the substantial program with the chorus and orchestra of Rome’s Accademia di Santa Cecilia under the baton of veteran bel canto specialist Edoardo Müller. DiDonato’s famous rendition of “Una voce poco fa” from Il barbiere di Siviglia is not on the CD – but it will be available from EMI/Virgin Classics as a special exclusive download on iTunes from October 6, the day the CD is launched at retail as well as on iTunes.

Violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez Wins First Prize at the 16th International Johannes Brahms Competition

Twenty-four-year-old violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez was awarded first place in his instrument’s category at the prestigious International Johannes Brahms Competition earlier this month in Pörtschach, Austria . Each year, the International Johannes Brahms Competition draws more than 400 musicians from over 40 nations to compete in six instrument categories including viola, violin cello, piano, voice and chamber music. This year 54 violists traveled to Austria to compete in three rounds of competition, beginning August 30 with a final concert for the prize winners of each category held on September 6. Winners of the competition were chosen by a select committee of jurors and evaluated on the mastery of their instrument, musical artistry, expression and style.

Mr. Hernandez adds this first place prize to a distinguished list of honors, including the Gold Achievement award of the 9th National Sphinx Competition and the 1st place award in the National Canadian Music Competition. As a soloist, he has appeared with the Atlanta , Seattle and Colorado Symphonies, and the Rochester Philharmonic. Following his performance of Carl Stamitz’s Viola Concerto with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said: “Hernandez played with understated virtuosity—tender, lyrical and loaded with personality.”

Mr. Hernandez is a founding member of the Harlem Quartet, an ensemble comprised of first-place laureates of the National Sphinx Competition. Since its critically acclaimed debut performance at Carnegie Hall in 2006 and numerous return appearances thereafter, the quartet partnered with White Pine Music label to release their 2007 debut recording, “Take the A Train,” a disc of works by Wynton Marsalis and Billy Strayhorn, among others. The ensemble focuses on the advancement of diversity in classical music and the engagement of new audiences through the presentation of varied repertoire, including those of minority composers. In December 2008, the quartet performed at the National Library of Congress on Stradivarius instruments from the Library’s collection. Wrote the Washington Post: “Violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez drew the sweetest, most sonorous tone from the ‘Cassavetti’ Stradivarius in his hands for the evening.” Mr. Hernandez and the Harlem Quartet’s upcoming engagements include a performance with Itzhak Perlman at New York ’s Metropolitan Museum of Art on October 3, a concert at Carnegie Hall on October 7, and a performance at the U.S. Ambassador to the U.K.’s residence in London on October 19. The quartet’s second album, an all-Piston recording, will be released by Naxos in 2010.

Born in Montréal, Canada of Dominican parentage, Juan-Miguel Hernandez began studying the violin at seven years old, switching to viola at age 12. Mr. Hernandez is a senior faculty member at the Sphinx Performance Academy at the Walnut Hill School and is currently completing his studies with Paul Coletti at the Colburn Conservatory of Music. Mr. Hernandez was recently signed by Sciolino Artist Management and joins a distinguished roster of such artists as pianist Misha Dichter and cellist Carter Brey.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Miguel Harth-Bedoya brings Jimmy López Fiesta! to Colorado Symphony Oct 2, 3 & 4

Guest conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya leads the orchestra in Beethoven’s enduring Symphony No. 3, “Eroica,” one of the most important pieces in Western music. Augustin Hadelich, winner of the 2006 Indianapolis International Violin Competition, will perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, “Turkish.” Opening the program the orchestra will play the Colorado Symphony Orchestra premiere of Fiesta! by Peruvian composer Jimmy López. This is an exciting piece of and should really set the mood for a fantastic evening.

All performance at Boettcher Hall.

October 2 and 3 at 7:30
October 4th at 2:30

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saint Louis Symphony & KFUO FM-Classic 99 Begin Live Broadcasts TONIGHT!

The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis’ classical-music station, KFUO FM-Classic 99 (99.1 FM & www.classic99.com) continue to find ways to bring the sounds of the SLSO to a wider audience. As previously announced - all Saturday night Wells Fargo Advisors Orchestral Series concerts will be broadcast live from Powell Hall throughout the 2009-2010 season.

The first live broadcast will be the SLSO’s Opening Weekend program, with the St. Louis premiere of Osvaldo Golijov’s Azul, Principal Cello Daniel Lee as soloist, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Music Director David Robertson conducts this concert, broadcast live from Powell Hall, Saturday, September 26, 2009, 8:00 p.m. CST.

Live interviews at intermission this week will include David Robertson, Daniel Lee, & SLSO President Fred Bronstein. Ron Klemm from Classic 99 will host the broadcasts. All broadcasts may also be heard live on www.classic99.com.

Saturday, September 26, 2009 at 8pm David Robertson, conductor Daniel Lee, cello Michael Ward-Bergeman, hyper-accordion Jamey Haddad, percussion Keita Ogawa, percussion OSVALDO GOLIJOV Azul MAHLER Symphony No. 5

Thursday, September 24, 2009

“One Hell of an Opera!” Jean-Paul Sartre’s groundbreaking play receives the operatic treatment!

Chicago Opera Vanguard Presents the Chicago Premiere of No Exit by Boston Conservatory Composer Andy Vores

(September 20, 2009 --- Chicago , IL ) Chicago Opera Vanguard, in partnership with Center on Halsted and Praxis Productions, kicks off its 2009/2010 Season with the Chicago premiere of NO EXIT by Boston composer Andy Vores. Based on Jean-Paul Sartre’s groundbreaking play, NO EXIT’s limited 3 performance run begins Friday October 16 at Center on Halsted’s Hoover-Leppen Theatre, 3656 N Halsted St, in Chicago ’s Lakeview neighborhood.

“Hell is … other people!” Jean-Paul Sartre’s classic black comedy, premiered in German occupied Paris in 1944, receives the operatic treatment! There is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide as three self-absorbed people who neither know nor like each other, are trapped together in one room… forever! Full of intense drama and sly comedy, NO EXIT is a haunting and humorous vision of damnation that you will never forget.

For this modern morality play, director George Cederquist has gathered an impressive ensemble of singing actors, musicians and visual artists from across Chicago’s creative community.

NO EXIT is presented as a part of Center on Halsted’s month long celebration of Chicago Artists’ Month 2009, “Chicago Artists Month 2.0.” More information on Chicago Artists Month can be found at chicagoartistsmonth.org.

Composer Andy Vores was born in Wales in 1956 and raised in England. He studied composition at Lancaster University with Edward Cowie. In 1986 he was a Tanglewood Composition Fellow, studying with Oliver Knussen. In 1989 he moved to Boston and in 2001 was appointed Chair of Composition, Theory, and Music History at The Boston Conservatory.

Mr. Vores’ music has been performed by the London Sinfonietta, the Boston Modern Orchestral Project, the New England Philharmonic, The Cantata Singers, the Scottish National Orchestra, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Omaha Symphony, Boston Musica Viva, The Nash Ensemble, the BBC Singers, Irvine Arditti, Sarah Walker Lynn Torgove, Dominique Labelle, Dawn Upshaw, Gilbert Kalish, Sanford Sylvan, Kendra Colton, Kathleen Supové, David Kravitz, Karol Bennett, and many others.

Renée Fleming Verismo Debuts at #1

Decca Album Featuring Arias by Puccini and His Contemporaries Tops Billboard Classical Chart with Highest Sales of Any #1 Debut since March

NEW YORK, NY – September 23, 2009 – Renée Fleming’s newest Decca recording, Verismo has topped the Billboard Classical Chart this week in its first week of release. The album, released September 15th, and has already sold more copies than any other #1 debut since Plácido Domingo’s March release Amore Infinito. Verismo features the iconic American soprano performing opera arias by Puccini and his contemporaries performed with the Orchestra e Coro Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi with Marco Armilliato.

Along with great Puccini favorites from La Bohème, Turandot, La Rondine, Il Trittico and Manon Lescaut, the album also includes rarely heard arias by Verismo composers Mascagni, Catalani, Leoncavallo, Giordano, Cilea, and Zandonai. From the tragedy of the nun Angelica, singing of the son who never knew his mother, to the rapturous young lovers of La Rondine, this is deeply emotional music of love and loss, of triumph and pain. Of the roles she portrays on this album, Mimì from Puccini's La Bohème is the only one that Renée Fleming has sung on stage. This album offers a world-premiere recording of the original manuscript version of the aria ‘Sola, perduta, abandonata!’ from the tragic final scene of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Star tenor Jonas Kaufmann joins Renée Fleming for an irresistible melody from Act II of Puccini’s La Rondine.

‘Verismo’ (literally ‘realism’) was an artistic movement of the late 19th-Century, which sought to bring the ‘naturalism’ of writers such as Zola and Ibsen to other art forms, including opera. Known as the ‘giovane scuola’ (‘the young school’), the Verismo composers wrote operas that were very different to those that came before them, setting stories about ‘real’ people and their real life struggles. The heroines Renée Fleming portrays include noblewomen (Fedora, Gloria, Angelica), courtesans (Stephana, Magda), Asian waifs (Iris, Liù), a Tyrolean village girl (Wally), the avaricious Manon, and three working women: music-hall performer Zazà, seamstress Mimì and factory-worker Conchita. The disc covers a concentrated period of Italian opera from the premiere of La Wally in 1892 to that of Turandot in 1926. This rich period saw the creation of more new works than almost any other era in operatic history.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Met's Tosca hits sour note with the Critics and Crowds

The New York Metropolitan Opera, which is usually the hallmark that the rest of the country strives to obtain seems to have stumbled with their most recent production of Puccini's Tosca. The new production of Tosca under the direction of Luc Bondy received boos from the crowd - and the critics were no more favorable.

"And in Act 2 of 'Tosca,' Tosca always spots the knife with which she is going to kill Baron Scarpia at a particular chord in the music; and she always sets lighted candles around his dead body before she leaves the room. It's in the score; it's in the music; it must be so.

So when Luc Bondy, the director of the new "Tosca" that opened the Metropolitan Opera's season Monday night, had Tosca fail to do those things, he was virtually guaranteed a lusty chorus of boos." - Anne Midgette, Washington Post

It seems not only was some of the "important" elements missing, but the performances were lackluster as well.

Tenor Marcelo Álvarez was a generic Cavaradossi, interested in his full, round tone and extending climaxes for as long as he could get away with. A Georgian bass, George Gagnidze, replaced Juha Uusitalo, who took ill and bowed out of the production a week ago. Gagnidze’s Scarpia never seemed a match for the towering Mattila or, for that matter, even for his call girls. His goons -- Spoletta (Joel Sorensen) and Sciarrone (James Courtney) and their other black-clad assistants in torture – were the more confident sadists. Veteran bass Paul Plishka was the bumbling Sacristan." - Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

Even the set dressing was bland

"Mr. Peduzzi, abetted by lighting designer Max Keller, went for grays, browns and dimness. His Sant'Andrea della Valle, a vaulted brick fortress devoid of ornament..." - Heidi Waleson, Wall Street Journal

Then, of course, there is OperaChic, who can always be counted on to get to the heart of the matter.

Bondy unsurprisingly and predictably got on the nerves of opera-goers that consider stark sets an insult to the art form -- they want opera as Moulin Rouge, as a Disneyland version of a romanticized, European past that might or might not have existed in the first place.

Each of these reviewers had nice things to say but always came back around to the negative. Then top it off the crowd boo'd the production. It's been a while since I've been in an opera house that didn't at least get a lukewarm applause after a performance. This doesn't bode well for signore Bondy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New CD by Gil Shaham - Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works

This month, Shaham adds a captivating new title to the catalog of Canary Classics, the label he founded in 2004. The new recording, Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works, teams Shaham with violinist Adele Anthony, to whom he is married, in a celebration of the music of legendary Spanish violinist and composer Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908). The Pamplona-born composer’s colorful dance- and song-inspired works are not only enormously entertaining and irresistibly appealing, but also full of sometimes hair-raising technical challenges.

Shaham and Anthony both feel a deep connection to Sarasate’s music, and used the occasion of the composer’s centenary in 2008 to pay tribute to his work. One highlight of their activities included a November concert at New York ’s Lincoln Center , broadcast live on public television, at which a much-surprised Shaham was awarded the prestigious Avery Fisher Prize, presented to him by his friend and colleague, conductor Gustavo Dudamel. The season’s festivities culminated in “¡Sarasateada!” – a series of Sarasate concerts in Valladolid , Spain , which were recorded for this CD release. Sarasate: Virtuoso Violin Works will be released in the U.S. on Tuesday, September 29, when Shaham and Anthony will also perform an all-Sarasate program at the popular downtown music club (Le) Poisson Rouge in New York City.

The new release marks the debut of Adele Anthony on Canary Classics, for which she will contribute a concerto album in the near future, pairing the popular Sibelius concerto with a work by Australian composer Ross Edwards. Shaham’s previous release for the label showcased Elgar’s epic violin concerto in a critically-acclaimed performance – with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under David Zinman – that was also a surprise Billboard best-seller. Writing for the Denver Post, Kyle MacMillan called it one of the best albums of 2008, noting, “In peak form, with typically responsive phrasing and fetching, natural tone, Shaham receives forceful backing from Zinman and the orchestra.” David Cairns called it a “fine account” in London’s Times, observing, “Gil Shaham plays with a wonderfully pure, true, expressive tone, and phrases like a master.”

Gil Shaham: season engagements through 2009

Sep 23, 2009
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
National Arts Centre Orchestra / Zukerman ( Ottawa , Ontario , Canada )

Sep 29, 2009
Sarasate program with Adele Anthony
(Le) Poisson Rouge ( New York , NY )

Oct 3, 2009
Bach: Double Violin Concerto with Adele Anthony; Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy
Buffalo Philharmonic / Falletta ( Buffalo , NY )

Oct 8, 2009
Solo Bach recital
Mike Lazaridis Theatre ( Waterloo , Ontario , Canada )

Oct 18, 2009
Solo Bach recital
Teatro Comunale ( Florence , Italy )

Oct 19, 2009
Solo Bach recital
Sala Grande del Conservatorio G. Verdi ( Milan , Italy )

Oct 21, 2009
Solo Bach recital
Church of St. Anne ( Prague , Czech Republic )

Oct 22, 2009
Solo Bach recital
Wigmore Hall ( London , UK )

Nov 5, 2009
Berg: Violin Concerto
London Symphony Orchestra / Tilson Thomas
Barbican Hall ( London , England )

Nov 19, 20, 21, and 22, 2009
Berg: Violin Concerto
Los Angeles Philharmonic / Dudamel ( Los Angeles , CA )

Dec 11-18, 2009
Asian tour with Sejong
(Seoul, South Korea: Dec 11; Shanghai, China: Dec 13; Beijing, China: Dec 15; Kaohsiung City, Taiwan: Dec 16; Taipei City, Taiwan: Dec 18)

YO-YO MA: 30 Years Outside the Box

The Entire Recorded Legacy of the Incomparable Cellist in a delue, Numbered, Limited Edition Box Set

Commemorates his 30th Anniversary with Sony Music

August 7, 2009 -- New York, NY. Comprising ninety discs, Yo-Yo Ma: 30 Years Outside the Box is a salute to Yo-Yo Ma’s monumental musical achievements and to his 30-year legacy with Sony Masterworks. The exciting story of his life and work is eloquently told in a quality hard bound book of over 312 pages, lavishly illustrated with more than 150 color and black-and-white archival photos, original album artwork, liner notes and credits. Further enriching the story of this musical giant is a warm and insightful foreword by his longtime friend and esteemed fellow artist, pianist Emanuel Ax, as well as a lengthy, insightful essay by noted critic Richard Dyer. The set is scheduled for release on October 27, 2009.

Beginning with Ma’s debut recording of Saint Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals, Yo-Yo Ma: 30 Years Outside the Box includes wide-ranging treasures, from his matchless performance of seminal cello works like the Dvořák Concerto to his tribute to film music maestro Ennio Morricone and last year’s all-star, world music holiday celebration Songs of Joy and Peace, which found him in the company of such luminaries as Renée Fleming, Chris Botti, Diana Krall and Dave Brubeck.

“Sony Masterworks is honored to release this magnificent tribute to Yo-Yo Ma’s incredible 30-year journey with the label. The ability to hear Yo-Yo’s recorded legacy and to enjoy his exciting story in behind-the-scene reminiscences and personal photographs is a rich and rewarding experience. Every performance in his box set could be described as being both in the pocket and ‘outside the box.’ Each one confirms Yo-Yo’s hope of finding, exploring and sharing joy and peace around the world.” - Alex Miller, General Manager of Sony Masterworks

Yo-Yo Ma's original catalogue of recordings (84 titles, including four two-disc sets) is included in this collection, as well as two bonus discs. Each of the discs in the set has been re-evaluated and remastered using Sony's Direct Stream Digital (DSD) system and SBM direct – an exhaustive effort that has brought the highest standard in audio playback to the entire catalogue. Grammy-winning producer Steven Epstein, who has produced most of Ma's recordings since 1987, oversaw the remastering, working with engineers Richard King and Todd Whitelock, both also Grammy winners for their work on Ma's recordings.

The first of the two bonus discs includes the first release in any format of John Williams's Suite from Memoirs of a Geisha for Cello and Orchestra, a six-movement work Williams created for Ma – drawn from his Oscar-nominated score for the 2005 film Memoirs of a Geisha – and recorded in 2008 with the cellist and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

The second bonus disc features the first CD release of Williams's "Air and Simple Gifts," written for Ma to perform with violinist Itzhak Perlman, pianist Gabriela Montero and clarinetist Anthony McGill at the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Also included on the disc are 11 tracks that have appeared only as exclusive bonus material on previous compilations of Ma's recordings or special releases.

Yo-Yo Ma is renowned for the depth and range of his music, from Bach to Early Music to Cole Porter to Appalachia and no less as the ardent champion of multiform contemporary composers. Among those who have created new works for him are his early mentor Leon Kirchner, John Corigliano, Tan Dun, Peter Lieberson, John Williams, André Previn, Edgar Meyer, Osvaldo Golijov and many more. Appalachia Waltz, his first album with Mark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer, became an instant crossover hit in 1996. John Williams has observed, “He is in possession of boundless gifts, and through his art, his exceptional intelligence and unique charisma, he is able to communicate more powerfully to the broadest and most diverse audiences around the world than perhaps any other instrumentalist in the history of music.”

In relentless exploration of musical possibilities, Ma has garnered dozens of Grammy nominations, won 16 times and become one of the most acclaimed and beloved musicians of his time. Like Pavarotti, Callas, Bernstein and a very few others, this renaissance man is one of those rarest of artists whose profound musicality, high skills and personal charisma totally dissolve any barrier between he and the audience. It’s no wonder that vocalist Alison Krauss admiringly opines, “When God made Yo-Yo Ma, He took the rest of the day off.”

Always fine-tuning his ear, Ma’s admiration and passion for different cultures is exemplified by the now decade-old and still evolving masterwork, The Silk Road Project. Named for the ancient trade routes between the Pacific and the Mediterranean that passed through regions of incompatible religions, languages, political systems and cultures, but regions that could communicate with each other through the arts -- it’s quintessential Ma. At 54, he remains boyishly enthusiastic and ever curious in pursuit of his goals of communicating and making connections. As noted music journalist Richard Dyer comments in the book’s main essay, “When Yo-Yo Ma throws his head back, closes his eyes, and begins to play, he isn’t shutting out reality... ...He is opening his heart and mind to new experiences and then sharing them with the rest of us.”

Scottish Chamber Orchestra and University of St Andrews establish unique residency

  • First professional orchestra residency at a Scottish University
  • Residency status cements long-term relationship
  • Concert season, music education and professional link
  • The Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO) and the University of St Andrews are delighted to announce the establishment of a unique relationship, with the SCO’s new designation as Orchestra in Residence at the University of St Andrews. The two organisations have enjoyed a close relationship over many years with the SCO presenting an annual five-concert season at the University’s Younger Hall.

    "This is an enormously exciting development for music in St Andrews, which will not only allow us to build on our existing strengths, but further enhance our long-standing relationship with one of the country’s finest orchestras. I am delighted that St Andrews will be the first university in Scotland and among the first in the UK to be able to boast an Orchestra in Residence.” - Dr Louise Richardson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews

    Roy McEwan, Managing Director of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, said: “Through its successful annual concert season at the Younger Hall, the SCO has enjoyed a strong relationship with the town and people of St Andrews and with its University for many years. We are delighted to take this to a new level through this residency, with a view to extending our relationship through collaboration. This development further extends the SCO’s good relations with the Kingdom of Fife – as well as its activities in St Andrews, the Orchestra works closely with AttFife and has been the major performing contributor to the East Neuk Festival since its inception.”

    “Concert-goers in St Andrews are already enormously privileged to have one of the UK’s best orchestras visiting on such a regular basis, but this residency will bring many new opportunities both to those who attend concerts in the Younger Hall and to those who make music in the Music Centre. We intend that the relationship will flourish in new ways as music-making in the University itself expands and develops. I look forward to many of our best performers benefiting from the guidance of SCO players in the coming years, and to hearing music by our composers realised by groups from within the Orchestra. These will be potentially life-changing experiences for our students.” -Dr Michael Downes, Director of Music at the University of St Andrews

    The new residency will get off to an auspicious start at 1.15 on Wednesday 7 October, when the SCO’s new Principal Horn, Alec Frank-Gemmill, opens the University’s lunchtime concert series with a recital of music by Saint-Saëns, Richard Strauss and Françaix. Following the recital, Alec will lead a masterclass for St Andrews’ students and coach a group of primary-school age French horn players who have begun the instrument in the last year under the tuition of Margaret Douglass. Michael Downes commented; “They are a very enthusiastic group and I’m sure that they will be absolutely inspired by hearing Alec play. This is an example of the benefits the residency will bring to the wider community in St Andrews, not just University students.”

    The Opening Concert of the SCO’s St Andrews season on Wednesday 14 October sees the Orchestra’s Conductor Emeritus Joseph Swensen, himself an Honorary Graduate of the University, conduct Beethoven’s Symphony No 5 and Sibelius’ Violin Concerto.

    Saint Louis Symphony and HEC-TV Partner again for Live Broadcast and Internet Stream

    Live from the Stage of Powell Hall Thursday, September 24th -6-7pm (CST)

    The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra & HEC-TV announced a live broadcast of a special Town Hall Meeting on September 24, 2009 from 6:00-7:00 PM CST. SLSO Music Director David Robertson and President Fred Bronstein will discuss the SLSO 2009-2010 programming and other important updates (including FY09 results) in a town hall meeting format, taking questions and comments from the live audience & via e-mail at HECTV.org. The SLSO Trombones are scheduled to perform. This town hall meeting is free and open to the public.

    This is the second in the new series of SLSO Town Hall Meetings. The next Town Hall Meeting will take place in January, 2010 (date TBC) where the 2010-11 SLSO season will be announced.

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Keeping Score: San Francisco Symphony Orchestras bid to keep us informed about music

    Keeping Score is just one of the many educational ventures of the San Francisco Symphony. These are videos created by the SFS media team each covering a specific composer and one of their works. The production values of Keeping Score are incredible and the information is presented in a way to encourage interest for people of all ages. I've been serious studying music all my life and found the first three episodes they will present this year - Berlioz, Ives and Shostakovic - absolutely fascinating. I only wish they had been available when I was studying music history at the university level - they are that good! Yet, they are easy to understand for people of all ages and musical ability.

    Michael Tilson Thomas narrates the various episodes taking you through the lives of the composers. Each composer is discussed in terms of the motivation for their music and how they reach the point in their life to write the music they did. For Berlioz Michael traveled to France exploring his childhood haunts. While we travel with him we hear snatches of music from Symphonie Fantastique and other related elements. Perhaps one of my favorite moments was when we got a chance to hear a lovely melody Berlioz, one of his first, sung by a young male soprano. The music then fades into how it is hear with the orchestra - brilliantly done and very effective at connecting the dots. Michael's inviting nature and relaxed style really grab your attention and before you know it the program is finished - and you're ready to watch another one!

    If you are a music teacher and not having your students watch these episodes, you are missing out on a great opportunity to really spark their imagination. If you are a music student and haven't been watching these episodes, talk to your teacher or find the listing on your local PBS station. These are imaginative ways to bring the music of great composers to life!

    Starting October 15, 2009, the second season of Keeping Score, featuring the San Francisco Symphony and hosted by Michael Tilson Thomas, premieres in the US on PBS. Keeping Score is much more than a critically acclaimed PBS television series: it is a natural outgrowth of the San Francisco Symphony’s almost century-long commitment to bringing the joy of classical music to people of all ages and musical backgrounds. Keeping Score provides innovative, thought-provoking classical music content on PBS television, national public radio, the web, and through an education program, a national model for classroom arts integration for K-12 teachers.

    If you don't live in the US, the Keeping Score web site 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 site includes groundbreaking and acclaimed interactives on composers Beethoven, Stravinsky, Copland and Tchaikovsky. The 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 have experienced the Keeping Score Education program.

    Christmas Comes Early in Scotland

    What better way to celebrate an Indian summer than get started with Christmas. Ok, maybe it's a bit early but the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with the RSNO Junior Chorus under the direction of Christopher Bell are recording a CD of Christmas Music. So, to help them get into the festive spirit, Chorus Manager Christine Walker and her team of volunteers have blown the dust off of the decorations boxes that wee bit earlier.

    There had been talk of Santa making an appearance...

    Can't wait for the CD!

    London Philharmonic Orchestra Begins Season with Mahler 2nd Sept 25 & 26

    Gustav Mahler’s almighty Resurrection Symphony took shape in the composer’s imagination for over seven years. Finally arriving in 1892, it successfully reveals his daunting attempt ‘to express precisely what words cannot’. Encased in the work’s superlative scale is the most uplifting and reassuring testament of faith from any composer; a fervent expression in music of everlasting transcendence and renewal. ‘With wings which I have won for myself…I shall soar upwards’, proclaims Mahler’s huge assembly of instruments and voices in music – which will fill all corners of the Royal Festival Hall.

    FREE Pre-concert event Friday 25 September at 6.15pm
    The London Philharmonic Orchestra's Chief Executive, Timothy Walker discusses the highlights and programming of the Orchestra's 2009-10 season with music critic Anthony Burton.

    Click here for further information and online bookings.

    Concert Details
    Friday 25 and Saturday 26 September 7.30pm
    Mahler Symphony No.2 (Resurrection)
    Vladimir Jurowski conductor
    Adriana Kucerova soprano
    Christianne Stotijn mezzo soprano
    London Philharmonic Choir

    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    Chris Thile's Mandolin Concerto with the Colorado Symphony is Noteworthy

    Thursday night the Colorado Symphony Orchestra gave the world premier performance of Chris Thile’s Mandolin Concerto. This the first time ever this piece was performed – and what better person to play the mandolin than the composer and virtuoso instrumentalist Chris Thile. The concert was also a celebration of American composers featuring works by Copland, Gershwin and the Colorado Symphony’s own Composer-in-Residence William Hill.

    From beginning to end the program was filled with rich yet diverse music. Copland’s Suite from Billy the Kid is quintessential Americana filled with references to “Good-Bye, Old Paint”, “Old Chisholm Trail” and “Git Along Little Dogies” infused with fresh harmonies and complex orchestral textures and rhythms. Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” is perhaps the best blend of jazz and classical music ever composed utilizing only a small portion of the orchestra and yet, with Jeffery Kahane showing off his virtuoso skills as both pianist and conductor the ensemble filled the hall. William Hill’s Four Moments Musical is a modern piece composed for the brass and percussion sections of the Colorado Symphony – and boy did they have fun with it tonight! The often rapid pace and shifting metre gave the music a thoroughly modern edge.

    All of this leads up to Chris Thile’s Mandolin Concerto. While you might have expected something bluegrass given Thile’s background in the bands Nickel Creek and The Punch Brothers, his music was completely immersed in classical style. The opening of the piece quickly had his fingers flying across the fret board of the mandolin, while the orchestra created a series of rich colors and washes behind him. The program mentioned the mandolin was to be slightly amplified - unfortunately, it was not amplified enough. The mandolin is not a highly resonant instrument. In a small group the sound can cut through, but when competing with an orchestra a fair portion of the first movement’s mandolin work was lost. There was a cadenza toward the end of the first movement allowing Thile a chance for solo work. This was beautiful and amazing – not at all indicative of his bluegrass roots and yet glorifying the mandolin as an instrument.

    The second movement of the concerto was lovely and lyrical, the best movement of the piece. Catherine Beeson had a wonderful moment to shine with a beautiful viola solo, not something you hear very often in classical music. Thile’s sense of the viola’s sound blended with the mandolin was really touching. As the movement came to a close the music drifted away with a somber sigh.

    The final movement started with solo mandolin but quickly built up steam. This movement gave us a chance to hear (sort of) some of the intricate syncopated soloist sections. There were also some nods to jazz and bluegrass styles of music, but nothing overt – much like Copland’s use of recognizable themes in Billy the Kid, enough to appreciate but not so much to feel like a cover tune. There were more great moments for solo viola and cello. This movement has the potential of being the strongest of the three except it seems to wander a bit, as if not really sure how to get to the end. That said, the end, when it does arrive is strong.

    For a first orchestral piece, Chris Thile should be extremely pleased with this effort. This was very modern classical music with rich textures and sonic colors. The solo instrument obviously was virtuosic in nature, even if not all of it could be heard. While it may not become a standard part of the repertoire, few “first” compositions ever are. I hope he is encouraged by the well deserved standing ovation he received tonight. He should compose more classical music; he could well be the Mozart of our day.

    He even treated us to a pair of encore pieces. One was Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E, Prelude. The other featured Larisa Fesmire, a violinist in the Colorado Symphony and a champion fiddler. The two did a wonderful duet to leave the crowd glowing.

    Not to short change the rest of the evening I should mention some highlights from earlier pieces. The concert focused on the world premiere but there were many other delightful moments.

    In Aaron Copland’s Billy the Kid the woodwinds are featured. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra has some of very fine woodwind players and this really gave them a chance to show off. But there are also wonderful moments for the brass (particularly the trombone) and percussion. Kahane obviously loves this piece as his every move was expressing vividly each shift in mood, entrance or articulation needed in the orchestra. Colorado Symphony Orchestra was recording tonight. I hope this version gets put on a record at some point – it was that good.

    Jeffery Kahane is not only a world class conductor but a virtuoso pianist and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is a wonderful piece to combine these two elements. The orchestra was paired down to a much smaller ensemble, that of the original instrumentation of Paul Whiteman’s orchestra. From the legendary clarinet opening to the furious piano interludes within the piece, this was a superb performance. So much so the audience practically demanded an encore – and we got it – three preludes for Piano and Clarinet by George Gershwin. Bill Jackson was his typical astounding self. And Jeffery Kahane showed yet again how much he will be missed come the end of this season.

    So far the concert was a build up to the Mandolin Concerto with bits of Americana and jazz to celebrate the diversity of American classical music. In the second half we were treated to a piece by the local composer William Hill. His Four Moments Musical starts with a fanfare. Again, this piece is written for only brass and percussion, so we were really given a chance to hear the skill of these performers. Highlights included brilliant clarity by Justin Bartel and Patrick Tillery on Trumpet, amazing tone and color by John Daley on Trombone and the entire percussion section which often had to hold the piece together amid the flurry of the irregular meters. Not only did William Hill write the music, but he performed on the timpani as part of this stellar group. In the end the music was rich and powerful, but never cacophonous – which so often happens when composers get carried away with percussion and brass.

    These three pieces were a perfect lead in to Chris Thile’s Mandolin Concerto. Over all this was a strong concert, not the best I have heard the Colorado Symphony Orchestra play, but if they increase the volume level for the mandolin Saturday and Sunday’s performance will be well worth the trip. You will be experiencing the first classical composition by a virtuoso performer who has all the makings of being a truly exceptional composer as well.

    Concert Details
    Saturday, September 19 - 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, September 20th - 2:30pm
    Jeffrey Kahane, music director and piano
    Chris Thile, mandolin

    COPLAND Suite from Billy the Kid
    GERSHWIN Rhapsody in Blue
    WILLIAM HILL Four Moments Musical
    CHRIS THILE Madolin Concerto

    Listen: Life with Classical Music September/October Issue Highlights

    The September/October issue of Listen: Life with Classical Music features conductor Michael Tilson Thomas on the cover, celebrates the 80th birthday of American composer George Crumb, and includes interviews with musicians Leif Ove Andsnes, Joshua Bell, Angèle Dubeau, and José Serebrier. The magazine travels to Norway to report on an unusual collaboration at the Risor Chamber Music Festival, Chicago to spotlight the city’s eclectic music scene, and Toronto to cover a recording session of 17th-century music with the Canadian Brass. These are just some of the subjects in the fall issue of the new bimonthly print magazine published and distributed by the online classical music retailer ArkivMusic, The Source for Classical Music™. September/October 2009 contents of Listen magazine:

    Cover story:
    Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas talks about Mahler, Stravinsky and the future of contemporary music – in real space and cyberspace

    At a chamber music festival in the fishing village of Risor , Norway , pianist Leif Ove Andsnes and South African visual artist Robin Rhode mix music and art in a new take on Pictures at an Exhibition

    City spotlight:
    The Chicago Sound. Poet Carl Sandburg called Chicago “Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,” but it’s also a great place for classical music aficionados

    Radio Days looks at the changing landscape of classical radio

    Music & Life:
    Violinist Joshua Bell looks to a Belgian composer for inspiration
    Maestro José Serebrier rediscovers the music of Alexander Glazunov
    Gluck’s Don Juan makes the transition from the Baroque to the Classical

    Composer: American master George Crumb turns 80
    In the Studio: Canadian Brass records 17th-century Italian masterworks in Toronto
    Crossing Borders: Classical violinist Angèle Dubeau plays Philip Glass at the Montreal Jazz Festival

    “Violin Concertos of the 1930s” Project Is Centerpiece of Gil Shaham's Season

    Featuring 35 Performances of Masterpieces by Five of Many Great Composers Who Explored Genre in That Decade

    Gil Shaham’s “Violin Concertos of the 1930s” project will occupy a central place in his 2009-10 season as he joins a “who’s who” list of great conductors and orchestras on three continents – including Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Tilson-Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra, Robertson and the New York Philharmonic, and Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra – for performances of masterpieces by Barber, Berg, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, and Walton. These works are but five of a remarkably long list of important violin concertos produced in the same decade that Shaham will perform and, in some cases, record in coming seasons. Offering a striking sonic contrast, he will also give a series of solo all-Bach recitals this season throughout Europe, including performances in London (Wigmore Hall, October 22), Istanbul (March 13, 2010), and Cologne (Philharmonie, March 17, 2010). An important highlight for the fall will be the release on Shaham’s own Canary Classics label of an album celebrating the centenary of legendary Spanish composer and violinist Pablo de Sarasate. The recording teams Shaham with violinist Adele Anthony, with whom he will launch the album with a performance on September 29 of an all-Sarasate program at New York ’s popular new music club, (Le) Poisson Rouge. In December, Shaham and the New York-based Sejong will tour Asia with Haydn’s violin concertos in C and G major and Mendelssohn’s Octet; an album featuring these artists and this repertoire will also be released on Canary Classics this season.

    “Violin Concertos of the 1930s”

    Gil Shaham explains the idea behind his “Violin Concertos of the 1930s” project:

    “I love playing these pieces and I love hearing these pieces. As we entered the 21st century I started thinking back to the great music of the last century – thinking specifically about violin concertos – and I realized that many of my personal favorite concertos were written in the 1930s. I wasn’t the only one struck by this idea, as I discovered when we played the Stravinsky concerto in Cleveland earlier this year. During an intermission interview I was asked – completely unprovoked – what it was about the 1930s that produced these concertos. Was it something in the air? After another performance, this time with the National Symphony Orchestra, a very eloquent patron posed this question to me: ‘When this concerto was written, it was a time of great turbulence and trepidation, and people felt they were standing on top of a volcano that was starting to erupt. How is this reflected in the music written at that time, and how does it relate to the music and times that we live in today?’ Great question – and one that I’m not equipped to answer. I’m hoping this project can lead to some interesting conversations.”

    An incomplete list of violin concertos written in the 1930s would include masterpieces by Stravinsky (1931), Szymanowski (No. 2, 1932-33), Milhaud (Concertino de printemps for violin, 1934), Berg (1935), Prokofiev (No. 2, 1935), Sessions (1935), Schoenberg (1936), Bártok (No. 2, 1937-38), Bloch (1938), Britten (1939), Hindemith (1939), Hartmann (Concerto funèbre, 1939), Piston (No. 1, 1939), Walton (1939), and Barber (1939). Korngold’s concerto was written between 1935 and 1937, published in 1945, and first performed in 1947. Khachaturian’s violin concerto just missed the cut-off point, being completed in 1940.

    Last season, Shaham performed the Stravinsky and Berg concertos, and this season he performs no fewer than five concertos from the 1930s, beginning on September 19 in San Antonio , TX with a soaring masterpiece by American composer Samuel Barber. Shaham gives additional performances of the work with the Kansas City Symphony and Michael Stern (Jan 22-24, 2010), the New York Philharmonic and David Robertson (Feb 25-27, 2010) and London ’s Philharmonia Orchestra with Kirill Karabits (May 19-20, 2010). Robertson and Shaham will also team up with the BBC Symphony next summer for a performance of the Barber at London ’s BBC Proms (Aug 26, 2010).

    This past June, Shaham and Tilson Thomas performed the Berg Concerto together in San Francisco to great acclaim, with San Francisco Chronicle critic Joshua Kosman calling it, “a rendition that, quite rightly, focused all that energy on communication between the performers and the listeners, [of which] the results were transfixing.” On November 5, Shaham and Tilson Thomas encore the work, this time with the London Symphony Orchestra at London ’s Barbican Hall. Soon after, Shaham heads to Los Angeles to give four performances of the Berg concerto with Gustavo Dudamel during his first season as the new Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Nov 19-22). Late in the spring, Shaham gives three more performances of this hauntingly, sometimes harrowingly beautiful work with the Staatskapelle Dresden and David Robertson (Jun 13-15, 2010).

    Shaham’s other performances of concertos from the 1930s include six performances of Prokofiev’s richly expressive Second – one with the Kansas City Symphony and Michael Stern, the others with the Saint Louis Symphony and David Robertson, at home in Missouri and on a California tour that includes performances in San Francisco and Los Angeles; seven performances of Stravinsky’s sparkling neoclassical Concerto in D (with Saint Louis and Robertson, Baltimore and Alsop, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Jansons); and two performances of Walton’s Mediterranean-infused Concerto in B minor with the Philharmonia Orchestra and Hugh Wolff.

    Gil Shaham: season engagements through 2009

    Sep 19, 2009
    Barber: Violin Concerto
    San Antonio Symphony / Ken-David Masur ( San Antonio , TX )

    Sep 23, 2009
    Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
    National Arts Centre Orchestra / Zukerman ( Ottawa , Ontario , Canada )

    Sep 29, 2009
    Sarasate program with Adele Anthony
    (Le) Poisson Rouge ( New York , NY )

    Oct 3, 2009
    Bach: Double Violin Concerto with Adele Anthony; Sarasate: Carmen Fantasy
    Buffalo Philharmonic / Falletta ( Buffalo , NY )

    Oct 8, 2009
    Solo Bach recital
    Mike Lazaridis Theatre ( Waterloo , Ontario , Canada )

    Oct 18, 2009
    Solo Bach recital
    Teatro Comunale ( Florence , Italy )

    Oct 19, 2009
    Solo Bach recital
    Sala Grande del Conservatorio G. Verdi ( Milan , Italy )

    Oct 21, 2009
    Solo Bach recital
    Church of St. Anne ( Prague , Czech Republic )

    Oct 22, 2009
    Solo Bach recital
    Wigmore Hall ( London , UK )

    Nov 5, 2009
    Berg: Violin Concerto
    London Symphony Orchestra / Tilson Thomas
    Barbican Hall ( London , England )

    Nov 19, 20, 21, and 22, 2009
    Berg: Violin Concerto
    Los Angeles Philharmonic / Dudamel ( Los Angeles , CA )

    Dec 11-18, 2009
    Asian tour with Sejong
    (Seoul, South Korea: Dec 11; Shanghai, China: Dec 13; Beijing, China: Dec 15; Kaohsiung City, Taiwan: Dec 16; Taipei City, Taiwan: Dec 18)