. Interchanging Idioms: October 2009

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Universality in Classical Music: Composing with thoughts toward the emotional empact

My son and I were having an interesting discussion talking about art. We started by talking about a number of other things, but eventually wound up talking method acting and truth in art. The point being there is no such thing as a truly method actor, because at some point the actor has to be aware they are just an actor on stage; they are not actually the character they are portraying. If they really were that character they would be confused as to why they were on stage and completely break from where the performance needs to go.

Sure, there is something to be said for getting “in” to a character, for understanding what their motivation is and how they are thinking in any given scene. If you’re playing a drunkard, then some understanding as to what it is to be drunk or an alcoholic might be important to making the role realistic. But that doesn’t mean you need to become an alcoholic to do the role well. What is really important is to find some element within yourself that resonates with the character you are portraying. Even more important, you need to find something your audience will resonate with so they believe your character is real. Chances are most of your audience will not be alcoholics so the “truth” you are looking for is perhaps more stereotypical, or as my son said, universal.

As humans, we are locked within ourselves, unable to actually experience what anyone else in the world is experiencing. We can occasionally share experiences, but this is more finding something within us that resonates with an external truth that also resonates with something within that other person. The external event may well be the same, but the experience internally is not. When our family pet died some years ago, although this event was difficult for everyone in the family, we all felt something slightly different and responded to it differently. Yes, we all cried and may still occasionally do so when we think back on the loss, but the feelings are not the same. However, what we do is “share” the experience by connecting with each other via some element through a universal feeling of loss.

Music is much the same way. Performers are trying to connect to the audience via universal truths, touching some element of their listeners emotions through moments of sound. Unlike film or stage, music doesn’t have words to convey these sentiments. Even in music with words, such as opera, the music is trying to communicate more than just what is written in the libretto. The music is trying to express the thoughts and feelings of the characters, to give insight into more and thereby reach a deeper plane of emotional response. Regardless as to how touching the story or wonderful the lyrics, if the music fails to strike an emotional chord with the audience the music fails.

One of the problems with some of the “new” music of today is the concept of cerebral composition, music written to excite an intellectual response rather than an emotional one. So much time is spent making the composition technically interesting, mathematically intriguing that the music fails to connect with the audience emotionally. However, because the composer is so emotionally excited by the intellectual pursuit they have an emotional connection to the music (and fail to understand why other’s don’t). This emotional excitement in their composition is not the same as music that emotionally connects with the audience.

There may not be a “universal” chord or melodic line that will reach each and every person on the planet (although, I’m not willing to say there isn’t one either). However, I do believe a composer needs to be aware of who their audience is when they are composing something. They need to think what sort of connection the music will have with that audience and how best to try and make that connection work - to be universal. This doesn’t mean cerebral music fails to connect. This just means that composing a piece of music without thinking of the emotional universality of it, means the connection is left to chance - and therefore more likely to fail to appeal, to connect, to resonate with the audience.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Combines Images and Music to Recreate Timeless Children’s Classic, The Polar Express, Dec. 5

Mei-Ann Chen leads baritone Andre McRae, the Peabody Children’s Chorus and the BSO for a seasonal concert, including a Holiday Sing-along

Baltimore, Md. (October 27, 2009)— Assistant Conductor and League of American Orchestras’ Conducting Fellow Mei-Ann Chen will lead baritone Andre McRae, the Peabody Children’s Chorus and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a recreation of Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express on Saturday, December 5 at 11 a.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Van Allsburg’s picture book, which won the Caldecott Medal in 1986, tells the tale of a young boy who believes steadfastly in Santa and travels to the North Pole on the Polar Express. The illustrations of this beloved children’s book will be projected on a screen above the Orchestra. The concert will feature several other seasonal favorites, including Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Children’s Prayer” from Hansel and Gretel, as well as a holiday sing-a-long.

The BSO encourages patrons to arrival early to participate in the BSO Family Fun Zone, beginning at 10 a.m. in the Meyerhoff lobby. Children and their families can take advantage of numerous free, age-appropriate activities, including Port Discovery Children’s Museum’s interactive World Rhythm Drum Circus, the Maryland Zoo’s ZOOmobile, an instrument petting zoo and face painting.

COMPLETE CONCERT DETAILS
Family Concert: The Polar Express
For children ages 4 and up and their families
Saturday, December 5 at 11:00 a.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Doors open at 10 a.m. for BSO Family Fun Zone.

Mei-Ann Chen, conductor
Andre McRae, baritone
Peabody Children’s Chorus
    Doreen Falby, Director
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Tickets for this performance range from $12 to $20 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fair Pay for Fair Work - Composers Considering Unionizing

Variety has an interesting article about the state of things for The Society of Composers & Lyricists (SCL). They are considering joining with Teamsters Local 399 because right now they are considered "Independent Contractors" due to a ruling in the Regan era. According to the article composers are writing upwards of twice as much music as they were 30 years ago but being paid 14% of what they were making. So, studios are getting more and paying less.

The American Composers Forum is another organization bent on getting fair pay for fair work for composers. Established in the 1973 as the Minnesota Composers Forum, the Forum tries to connect composers with the community - with the idea of creating a means for composers to earn a living.

Screen writers wreaked havoc with Hollywood a few years back trying to get some portion of DVD sales. Music, which has become a huge marketing tool for television and film is given the same sort of slip claiming the rights to the music providing one time fees denies all future revenue streams (and potential uses of the music).

Not sure where this is going, but as a composer - worth watching!

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein to Perform at the White House Music Series November 4

Ms. Weilerstein to join violinist Joshua Bell, guitarist Sharon Isbin and pianist Awadagin Pratt

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein will take part in the next White House Music Series event that will focus on classical music on Wednesday, November 4. Ms. Weilerstein is one of four performers invited to take part in the event that will include student workshops for 120 middle and high school students followed by an evening concert featuring Ms. Weilerstein, violinist Joshua Bell, guitarist Sharon Isbin and pianist Awadagin Pratt in the East Room.

The White House Music Series was created by First Lady Michelle Obama to celebrate the arts, demonstrate the importance of arts education and to encourage young people who believe in their talent to create a future for themselves in the arts community be it as a hobby or as a profession. Previous White House events have featured jazz, country and Latin musicians.

“It was definitely an extremely exciting and thrilling moment when I received the invitation and I am proud and honored to be taking part in this event,” said Ms. Weilerstein. “It is so gratifying to see the arts being embraced by the current administration and the message that music is an important and essential part of American life is certainly one I support.”

In addition to the student workshops that will be introduced by Mrs. Obama, Ms. Weilerstein will perform duets with two child protégés, cellist Sujari Britt and marimba player Jason Yoder. President Obama will make remarks at the evening concert that will feature the four musicians performing solo works and that will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov and rebroadcast on SIRIUS XM Radio’s Symphony Hall channel, SIRIUS channel 80 and XM channel 78 over the weekend.

Twenty-seven-year-old Ms. Weilerstein has attracted widespread attention for playing that combines a natural virtuosic command and technical precision with impassioned musicianship. The intensity and passion of her playing has regularly been lauded, as has the spontaneity and sensitivity of her interpretations. New York magazine has described her as “…arguably Yo-Yo Ma’s heiress apparent as sovereign of the American cello.”

Following the White House event, Ms. Weilerstein will perform Dvorak’s Cello Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Peter Oundjian in Philadelphia on November 6, 7 and 8. The following week she will perform three free one-hour recitals of Bach’s Solo Cello Suites in New York on November 10, 11 and 12 at Columbia University’s Philosophy Hall.

Ms. Weilerstein, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was nine, is a Celebrity Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and will mark World Diabetes Day on Saturday, November 14. Ms. Weilerstein meets with members of the local chapters of JDRF when she tours with the aim of communicating to young people that living with and managing type 1 diabetes does not stop you from doing anything you want to do. In June she conveyed this message to delegates at the JDRF’s Children’s Congress in Washington as a member of a role model panel.

The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst’s live recording of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 released on DVD October 27

Recorded at Severance Hall in Cleveland in September 2008

CLEVELAND, October 27, 2009 – The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst’s live recording of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 will be available on DVD from Tuesday, October 27 in the United States .

Recorded by WVIZ/PBS ideastream® at the Orchestra’s home, Severance Hall in Cleveland, during subscription concerts on September 25 and 26, 2008, the recording is the Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst’s third Bruckner DVD. Clasart produced the recording, which will be distributed by Arthaus. The Cleveland Orchestra and Clasart have had a long-term partnership resulting in all three Bruckner DVDs. The Cleveland Orchestra acknowledges both Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich and Clasart for their generous support of the DVD release.

The new DVD represents an ongoing collaboration with WVIZ/PBS ideastream. On June 11, 2008, PBS broadcast “The Cleveland Orchestra in Performance: Bruckner Symphony No. 5,” recorded in the Abbey of St. Florian in Linz, Austria, by Clasart and produced for U.S. broadcast by WVIZ/PBS. For 15 years, WVIZ/PBS has been the video production partner for The Cleveland Orchestra’s annual “Star-Spangled Spectacular Concert and Festival” at Public Square in downtown Cleveland .

Born in Linz, Austria, Franz Welser-Möst often performs and records the music of Austrian composer Anton Bruckner – who famously served as organist at the Abbey of St. Florian, just outside Linz. Mr. Welser-Möst has led The Cleveland Orchestra in video recordings of live performances of Bruckner symphonies made in other historic concert venues: Symphony No. 5 in the Abbey of St. Florian, and Symphony No. 9 in Vienna’s Musikverein. During the 2009-10 season, The Cleveland Orchestra will perform Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 under the direction of Mr. Welser-Möst and in 2011, will begin a new multi-year residency in New York at the Lincoln Center Festival leading four concerts juxtaposing Anton Bruckner symphonies nos. 5, 7, 8 and 9 with works by John Adams July 13-17 (full program details to be confirmed). As part of the 2011 residency, Mr. Welser-Möst will also return to The Juilliard School to rehearse a Bruckner symphony with the Juilliard Orchestra for the second time.

The release of the new Bruckner DVD continues The Cleveland Orchestra’s expanded electronic media presence under Franz Welser-Möst’s music directorship. In September, the Orchestra released a Decca recording featuring Mitsuko Uchida and the Orchestra performing Mozart’s piano concertos nos. 23 and 24. This season, the Orchestra records an all-Wagner recording for Deutsche Grammophon as part of a multi-disc recording project.


The Cleveland Orchestra has received eight Grammy Awards and 31 Grammy nominations. In addition to recordings released on commercial labels, The Cleveland Orchestra has itself produced five sets of archival recordings: the 75th Anniversary Compact Disc Edition, the George Szell Centennial Compact Disc Edition, the Christoph von Dohnányi Compact Disc Edition, George Szell – Live in Tokyo 1970 (Szell’s last recorded concert), and the Robert Shaw Legacy Compact Disc Edition.

Throughout his career, Franz Welser-Möst has made numerous critically acclaimed recordings. His recording of Franz Schmidt’s Symphony No. 4 won a Gramophone Award for Best Orchestral Recording. More recent releases include HK Gruber’s Frankenstein!!, Schmidt’s The Book of the Seven Seals, and the world-premiere recording of Johann Strauss Jr.’s Simplicius with the Zurich Opera Orchestra, which won the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis. In addition to audio recordings, Mr. Welser-Möst has an extensive number of DVD releases with the Zurich Opera. His DVD recording of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier with the Zurich Opera won a 2005 Diapason d’Or award.

Maurizio Pollini's First Recording of Bach

The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 Releases November 17 on Deutsche Grammophon

New York, NY (October 27, 2009) – World-renowned pianist Maurizio Pollini releases his first-ever recording of Bach on Deutsche Grammophon, available November 17, 2009. With a career that has already spanned almost 50 years (he was awarded first prize in the 1960 Chopin competition), Pollini continues to challenge himself both on stage and in the recording studio.

Recording a composer for the first time is always a milestone, recording a composer for the first time after performing for almost 50 years is a unique milestone, and when that composer is Bach and the pianist is Pollini the recording becomes a major event. This project, a summit meeting of two masters, has been in the making for decades. Pollini has regularly performed Bach and specifically selections from The Well-Tempered Clavier for more than twenty years in concert but has only just now chosen to record this landmark work and composer.

The impact of Bach’s work is well known, not only to musicologists but also most anyone who has ever taken a piano lesson. The Prelude in C is universally known for its simplicity and beauty and Schumann even made the recommendation to “let the ‘Well-Tempered Clavier’ be your daily bread” in 1850, over 100 years after Bach’s book was compiled. Not only are the preludes and fugues in every major and minor key great exercises for any keyboard player, but they are also brilliant little works of surprising genius and wit.

The preludes take on a number of different characteristics and styles throughout, from arpeggios to inventions to toccata-like works. The fugues demonstrate Bach’s unique gift for combining melody, structure and counterpoint. Taken as a whole, they demonstrate many different techniques and contrapuntal procedures and range from rigorously formal to more freely composed. Of the 24 fugues, eleven are in three parts, ten in four, one in two, and two for five voices.

With few selections lasting over four minutes, and most averaging only two, each piece is a jewel of ingenuity. Though each is a small delight when enjoyed alone, the summation of The Well-Tempered Clavier is a feast for the ears. Pollini is no stranger to tackling iconic works and bringing his unique insight to every style of music. The winner of two Grammy® awards (1979 for Bartok and 2006 for Chopin), he is internationally regarded as one of today’s premiere pianists and has remained both an audience and critical favorite for close to 50 years. Though it has been a long time coming, some recordings are well worth the wait.

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra's Gala Nets more than $800k - "Proclaimed a Success"

Superstar cellist Yo-Yo Ma plays to SRO Powell Hall for SLSO’s first gala in a decade

“A Noteworthy Affair,” the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra’s first gala event since 1999, has been "proclaimed a huge success, both artistically and in terms of fundraising," announced SLSO President and Executive Director Fred Bronstein . Guest artist Yo-Yo Ma performed Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, with Music Director David Robertson conducting the SLSO, to a standing-room-only audience at Powell Hall on October 24, 2009. Robertson and the SLSO also performed Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished,” at the start of the evening.

After the concert, more than 500 guests were transported by shuttle from Powell Hall to the Coronado Ballroom for an evening of dining and dancing. The Steve Schankman Orchestra provided the entertainment. The Gala committee was chaired by Noémi Neidorff, with co-chairs Peggy Ritter and Marsha Rusnack. The sponsor for “A Noteworthy Affair” was Centene Corporation.

Bronstein reported that the Gala event netted more than $800,000 for the SLSO. ‘“A Noteworthy Affair’ was first of all a fundraiser,” Bronstein said. “It was also another way in which we sought to build the brand and build the visibility of the orchestra. We wanted to create a signature event—a not-to-be-missed evening. And we wanted people to have a really wonderful time. I think we succeeded on all counts.”

Founded in 1880, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO) is the second-oldest orchestra in the country and is widely considered one of the world’s finest. In September 2005, internationally acclaimed conductor David Robertson became the 12th Music Director and second American-born conductor in the Orchestra’s history. Currently in the 130th season - the SLSO continues to strive for artistic excellence, fiscal responsibility and community connection. In addition to its regular concert performances at Powell Hall, the SLSO is an integral part of the St. Louis community, presenting more than 250 free education and community partnership programs each year. In June 2008, the SLSO launched Building Our Business which takes a proactive, two-pronged approach: build audiences and re-invigorate the SLSO brand making the SLSO and Powell Hall the place to be; and build the base for enhanced institutional commitment and donations. This is all part of a larger strategic plan adopted in May 2009 that includes new core ideology and a 10-year strategic vision focusing on artistic and institutional excellence, doubling the existing audience, and revenue growth across all key operating areas.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guildhall School presents The Songs of Johannes Brahms with Graham Johnson

Following on from his acclaimed series Brahms, his Friends, Rivals and Contemporaries at the Wigmore Hall, renowned accompanist Graham Johnson has devised a short series of song recitals centred around the songs of Johannes Brahms for the Guildhall School. Senior singers and pianists from the School perform with introductions by Graham Johnson.

Graham Johnson, Senior Professor of Accompaniment at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, studied in London where he went on to build up his reputation as a distinguished accompanist. During his career of over 30 years Graham has accompanied many high profile singers and has recently worked on a Brahms Lieder series with Dame Felicity Lott. He was named ‘Instrumentalist of the Year 1998’ by the Royal Philharmonic Society and elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in 2000. In 1994 Graham was made an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

24 November & 1 December 2009, 1.05pm
26 November & 2 December 2009, 7pm
Music Hall / Lecture Recital Room, Guildhall School

Monday, October 26, 2009

Scottish Chamber Orchestra pays tribute to Scotland’s composers in ‘Homecoming’ concert

World premiere of complete version of Harper’s Symphony No 2, replacing the scheduled performance of his Third Symphony which remained unfinished at the time of his death

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra will perform the world premiere performance of the complete version of Edward Harper’s Second Symphony in a ‘Homecoming’-themed programme at Glasgow City Halls and Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 November. As well as paying tribute to the music of Harper, who died in April this year, the Orchestra celebrates the music of Kenneth Leighton in the 80th anniversary year of his birth with a performance of his Concerto for String Orchestra, and marks the 50th birthday of James MacMillan with his tour de force Tryst. Garry Walker, who conducted Harper’s Second Symphony at both the 2006 premiere and on the Delphian recording, directs the Orchestra in these concerts, and is joined by bass baritone Leigh Melrose.

Harper’s Second Symphony replaces Symphony No 3 ‘Homage to Robert Burns’ which was scheduled to receive its world premiere in these concerts. Harper had sketched out the first movement of the new symphony prior to his death, and the Orchestra has asked composer Lyell Cresswell to complete the movement with a view to performing it in the 2010/11 Season.

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

The text for Symphony No 2 comes from a wide range of sources, from poetry by Walt Whitman and Edinburgh ‘Makar’ Ron Butlin, whose work was specially commissioned for the Symphony, to the Bible’s Book of Isaiah and text from the Latin Mass. The four movements are linked by two themes; the tragedy of death involving children and the hope that peace and reconciliation can come out of such tragedy. Edinburgh-based poet and writer Ron Butlin was appointed as the Edinburgh Makar (the city’s version of the Poet Laureate) in June 2008 to celebrate the importance of writers in our lives.

The SCO gave a public performance of MacMilllan’s Tryst in September as part of SCO Education’s Masterworks, an education project originally devised for secondary school music students that dissects the musical concepts involved in the work.

Lorin Maazel to Lead Boston Symphony Orchestra in Final Two Programs of Beethoven Symphony Cycle

Maazel Also Schedule to Lead Boston Symphony in Beethoven's Sixth and Seventh Symphonies at Carnegie Hall on November 2nd

Lorin Maazel, one of the world’s most respected conductors, will lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the final two programs of the orchestra’s Beethoven’s cycle, including the Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth symphonies, October 30-November 7, at Symphony Hall. Mr. Maazel will also lead the BSO in its upcoming Carnegie Hall program—Beethoven’s Sixth and Seventh symphonies, on November 2. Maestro Maazel steps in for BSO Music Director James Levine, whose doctors have advised him to postpone returning to his conducting schedule until he is more fully recovered from surgery that took place earlier this month for a herniated disc.

In his first performances with the Boston Symphony since 1972, Mr. Maazel will lead the orchestra in Beethoven’s Sixth and Seventh symphonies on October 30 and 31, repeating that program at Carnegie Hall on November 2. Mr. Maazel will also conduct Beethoven’s Eighth and Ninth symphonies on November 5, 6, and 7. Soloists for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony include soprano Christine Brewer, contralto Meredith Arwady, tenor Matthew Polenzani, and bass baritone Eike Wilm Schulte; the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, John Oliver, conductor, will also be featured. As previously announced, Julian Kuerti will conduct Beethoven’s Third and Fourth symphonies on October 27 and 29. All of the BSO’s Beethoven cycle concerts, October 27-November 7, at Symphony Hall in Boston are sold out, with no tickets remaining for those programs.

James Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra 2009/10 Season
Mr. Levine will return to the BSO podium for his next scheduled concert of the 2009-10 Symphony Hall season on January 28, leading a program of works by Carter, Berlioz, and Ravel. In addition to the premiere of John Williams’s On Willows and Birches, Concerto for Harp and Orchestra (written as a gift for the BSO’s longtime harpist Ann Hobson Pilot, who retired from the orchestra at the end of the 2009 Tanglewood season), highlights of Mr. Levine’s 2009-10 season with the BSO include the premieres of commissioned works from Peter Lieberson (Farewell Songs for baritone and orchestra), Elliott Carter (Flute Concerto), and John Harbison (Double Concerto for violin and cello); Mendelssohn’s Elijah (in its first BSO performances since 1980); a Pension Fund Concert featuring all four Strausses (both Johanns, Josef, and Richard); and music of Berg, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler, Mozart, Schubert, and Stravinsky.

TICKET INFORMATION—THE BSO AT SYMPHONY HALL IN BOSTON
All of the Boston Symphony’s Beethoven cycle concerts, October 27-November 7, at Symphony Hall in Boston are sold out, with no tickets remaining for those programs. Tickets for other concerts in the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 2009-10 season, priced $29-$115 (Open Rehearsals are priced at $19, general admission), may be purchased by phone through SymphonyCharge (617-266-1200 or 888-266-1200), online through the BSO’s website (www.bso.org), or in person at the Symphony Hall Box Office (301 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston). There is a $5.50 service fee for all tickets purchased online or by phone through SymphonyCharge.

American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Diners Club, and Discover, as well as personal checks (in person or by mail) and cash (in person only) are all accepted at the Symphony Hall Box Office. A limited number of rush tickets for Boston Symphony Orchestra subscription concerts on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Friday afternoons are set aside to be sold on the day of a performance. These tickets are sold at $9 each, one to a customer, at the Symphony Hall Box Office on Fridays beginning at 10 a.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning at 5 p.m. Gift certificates are available in any amount and may be used toward the purchase of tickets (subject to availability) to any Boston Symphony Orchestra or Boston Pops performance at Symphony Hall or Tanglewood. Gift certificates may also be used at the Symphony Shop to purchase merchandise.

Patrons with disabilities can access Symphony Hall through the Massachusetts Avenue lobby or the Cohen Wing on Huntington Avenue. An access service center, accessible restrooms, and elevators are available inside the Cohen Wing entrance. For ticket information, call the Disability Services Information Line at 617-638-9431 or TDD/TTY 617-638-9289.

TICKET INFORMATION—THE BSO AT CARNEGIE HALL IN NEW YORK
Tickets, priced at: $49, $58, $75, $102, $139, $154, are available at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, 154 West 57th Street, or can be charged to major credit cards by calling CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800 or by visiting the Carnegie Hall website, www.carnegiehall.org. A limited number of seats, priced at $10, will be available day-of-concert beginning at 11:00 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:00 noon on Sunday until one hour before the performance or until supply lasts. These $10 tickets are available to the general public on a first-come, first-served basis at the Carnegie Hall Box Office only. There is a two-ticket limit per customer. In addition, a limited number of partial view (seats with obstructed or limited sight lines or restricted leg room) will be sold for 50% of the full price. For more information on this and other discount ticket programs, including those for students, Notables members, and Bank of America customers, visit carnegiehall.org/discounts.

BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA BEETHOVEN CYCLE LISTING

OCT. 27 - NOV.7, 2009
Tuesday, October 27 at 8 p.m.
Thursday, October 29 at 8 p.m.

JULIAN KUERTI, conductor

BEETHOVEN    Symphony No. 4
          Symphony No. 3, Eroica

Friday, October 30 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, October 31 at 8 p.m.
Monday, November 2 at 8 p.m. (Carnegie Hall)

LORIN MAAZEL, conductor

BEETHOVEN    Symphony No. 6, Pastoral
          Symphony No. 7


Thursday, November 5 at 8 p.m.
Friday, November 6 at 1:30 p.m.
Saturday, November 7 at 8 p.m.

LORIN MAAZEL, conductor
CHRISTINE BREWER, soprano
MEREDITH ARWADY, contralto
MATTHEW POLENZANI, tenor
EIKE WILM SCHULTE, bass-baritone
TANGLEWOOD FESTIVAL CHORUS, JOHN OLIVER, conductor

BEETHOVEN    Symphony No. 8
           Symphony No. 9

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra To Perform World Premiere of Wynton Marsalis's Blues Symphony

Concert To Also Feature Pianist Olli Mustonen Performing Ravel’s Piano Concerto, Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, And Gershwin’s An American in Paris

Music Director Robert Spano will lead the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in the World Premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer-musician Wynton Marsalis’s new symphonic work, Blues Symphony. The new work celebrates the blues through the prism of different moments in American history, and will be the first work by Marsalis composed exclusively for symphony orchestra. Mr. Marsalis will not be playing on this piece. The evening’s performance will also include Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G with guest pianist Olli Mustonen, Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue and Riffs featuring the ASO’s Principal Clarinetist Laura Ardan, and Gershwin’s An American in Paris, on November 19 and 20, 2009, at 8:00 p.m. and November 22, 2009, at 3:00 p.m. at Atlanta Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center.

Ticket Prices: $25 - $80
Thu, Nov 19, 2009 | 8:00 PM
Fri, Nov 20, 2009 | 8:00 PM
Sun, Nov 22, 2009 | 3:00 PM

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Free Radio on the internet

This really isn't new, but Adrienne Carlson posted a bit on her IT blog about the 10 best places to get Free Radio. I found it interesting.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Breathing: A New Short Piece for Orchestra... only 2 minutes long

I was requested to write something for the Lamont Symphony Orchestra and limited to two minutes - something they could sight read and yet still be an effective 2 minute piece. I submitted two proposals, Breathing and Materia Prima. They opted for Breathing as it has more regular rhythms. Materia Prima has a 13/8 time signature and is probably a bit much to expect a University orchestra, even a good one, to sound good on their first reading.

Breathing was the one selected. I am still writing on the Materia Prima, because I really like the idea and the intense rhythms - but I'll probably lengthen it to 7 or 8 minutes. After a couple weeks work here is a realization of Breathing (not yet seen by the orchestra). This should give you a rough idea as to what I hope they might sound like - if I've put all the dots in the right places.

The concept for the music is the four stages of Buddhist meditation,
     Shamatha – mental clarity
     Vipashyana – thoughts of death
     Samadhi – a higher state of consciousness
     Dhyanas – beyond invisible
  If you really want to argue the four stages, yes, I have drastically over-simplified them. But I only have 2 minutes to work with so consider this artistic prerogative.

You might also complain that the music doesn't sound very Buddhist or even Middle Eastern. Yes, but Buddhism isn't restricted to Eastern cultures (although that's certainly where it started). I am trying to present something that is a Western concept of it - and still fit it in two minutes. Trying to incorporate a piece that would honestly develop four ragas, or even four variations of one raga doesn't seem to work well in the limited time frame. This was composed using the Western (or Germanic) motivic idea - with a bit of the Dies Irae thrown in.

I like the piece. I hope you do too. I'd certainly like to hear your comments about it.

Chip

Renée Fleming’s Verismo is naturally beautiful

Renée Fleming’s new CD Verismo has already received rave reviews. It opened at the top of the charts when first released. So, this review of her newest release may be a bit late (and even superfluous). However, it is a beautiful album and not commenting on the quality seems a shame. Listening to Verismo is like falling in love with Puccini’s music all over again (and again and again). There other composers from the givane scuola (young school), but it is Puccini who really dominated this period of opera and justifiably dominates the tracks on Fleming’s new album.

Verismo refers to the post-Romantic Italian operatic tradition of composers such as Pietro Mascagni, Ruggiero Leoncavallo, and Giacomo Puccini, who advocated bringing the naturalism of writers such as Emile Zola and Henrik Ibsen into opera. These are operas whose emotional impact is as much in your face as layered with complexity. True to tradition, the arias on Verismo are just that, complex layers of emotion with a searing edge of power. There are a surprising number of detractors who feel Renée Fleming is not up to the task, or that perhaps she has belied the Verismo tradition by including the more popular Puccini operas of La bohème and La rondine. I can only feel they have not really listened to the CD. These are wonderful versions of beautiful music.

What is even more enticing about Verismo is the wealth of rarely heard pieces Ms Fleming included in this recording along side the more recognizable arias. Ms Fleming said, “I was surprised by the sheer volume and variety of the Italian operas from this period, and the intense emotionality of the music…” Although Manon Lescaut is not unknown, but here we are treated to a delightful original manuscript version of Sola, perduta, abbandonata!. It runs the full gambit of emotions from tender strings and harp setting the stage where the title character is feeling lost and abandoned to anguish and fear of death. Ms Fleming’s voice is both commanding and vanquished, leaving the listener a chance to feel every moment.

Beyond several Puccini arias are selections from operas by Mascagni, Catalani, Leoncavallo, Zondonai, Celea, and Giordano. From the delightfully spicy ler dalla fabbrica a Triana from Conchita to tender love song of No! Se un pensier from Siberia. The breadth of styles is incredible. The only time the album doesn’t completely entrance the listener is during Angioletto, il tuo nome? from Zazà. It felt a bit stilted. This isn’t to say that Ms Fleming’s voice is anything but spectacular – but that the track doesn’t live up to the rest of the brilliance of Verismo.

Each aria is delightful, emotionally rich and full of life. I highly recommend Verismo to anyone who has ever enjoyed an opera. The music is exquisite, and the performances absolutely first rate. Renée Fleming is the Diva of our age and this is more than ample proof just how very good she is.

Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard Joins Orchestras of Chicago, Boston, and Cleveland in Impressive Three-Week Run

November 15 Recital at New York’s Alice Tully Hall features works by George Benjamin, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mozart and Beethoven

Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s 2009-10 season is, as has become the norm for the French pianist, conductor, and impresario, replete with engagements all over the world. He performs in major cities and at festivals in Japan, Europe, and the U.S., often conducting from the keyboard. This season he plays recitals in New York, Vienna, Madrid, Berlin, Paris, and elsewhere; performs concertos with Pierre Boulez and James Levine in Chicago and Boston; and leads such ensembles as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.

Aimard began the season with two tours – one leading the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in Frankfurt, Bonn, Baden-Baden, and Paris; the other as piano partner of German baritone Matthias Goerne. The two performed in Japan, where Aimard also gave concerts with the Bamberg Symphony, with which he often tours in the U.S. and Europe as well.

On November 15, Aimard makes his first American appearance of the new season, at the recently renovated Alice Tully Hall, performing works by George Benjamin, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Mozart, and Beethoven, four composers whose compositions appear on Aimiard’s recital programs throughout the season in ever-varying combinations. Mozart’s early D-major Sonata opens the program, followed by Benjamin’s Piano Figures and Stockhausen’s Klavierstück IX. Beethoven’s sonata-length “Eroica Variations” closes the program.

Aimard’s presence in the U.S. this season is extensive. He helps to celebrate his friend and colleague Pierre Boulez’s 85th birthday in a special tribute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and during the same week he appears in three subscription concerts with the CSO under the Maestro, playing Bartók’s Concerto for Two Pianos. Again with Boulez, this time at the helm of the Cleveland Orchestra, Aimard performs Ravel’s piano concertos, which he and Boulez are recording together in Cleveland for Deutsche Grammophon. And Aimard performs with the Boston Symphony under its music director, James Levine, playing not only Elliott Carter’s Dialogues for piano and orchestra, but also Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand.

Two of these programs, those of Chicago and Boston, will come to Carnegie Hall. On January 31, Aimard will perform Bartók’s Concerto for Two Pianos with pianist Tamara Stefanovich and the Chicago Symphony conducted by Boulez. The following night, on February 1, Aimard will perform Carter’s Dialogues and Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand with the Boston Symphony under James Levine. The next morning, Aimard will leave for Cleveland, where he will perform and record both Ravel Concertos with Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra on February 4, 6, and 7.

The indefatigable pianist devotes most of his season to solo recitals in Europe, with works by Chopin, Ravel, Debussy, and Liszt alternating with those by Beethoven, Benjamin, Mozart, and Stockhausen. With orchestra, besides performing Bartók and Ravel in the U.S., Aimard will play Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto in Berlin and in Corunna, Spain.

Having partnered German baritone Matthias Goerne in Japan in late summer 2009, Aimard will perform all three of Schubert’s great song-cycles – Winterreise, Die schöne Müllerin, and Schwanengesang – with Goerne in three consecutive recitals in Lisbon in mid-May. His final orchestral concerts of the season consist of a series with the London Symphony Orchestra, at London’s Barbican Hall and in Madrid, followed by the resumption of his duties at England’s Aldeburgh Festival, where, on June 12, Aimard conducts the Britten Sinfonia at its home on the Eastern Coast of England.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thomas Hampson Displays Incomparable Range of Musical Passions, Talents and Interests as First Artist-in-Residence of New York Philharmonic

“We wanted a distinguished musician who is amenable to performing chamber music and teaching; a scholar and music advocate beloved by New York audiences. Tom fits that bill.” – Alan Gilbert

Enjoying a season already rich in far-reaching endeavors, including his celebrated “Song of America” project, the singular American baritone Thomas Hampson embarks on another great adventure in November when he begins his year-long appointment as the first Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic. Throughout the season (Alan Gilbert’s first as the orchestra’s new Music Director), Hampson will take part in a wide range of activities – 16 events in all – that showcase his wide-ranging talents as performer, music enthusiast, and scholar. In concerts and a solo recital he will explore a broad range of repertoire, from Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony (Nov 5, 6, 7 and 10) to John Adams’s The Wound-Dresser, which Hampson will perform both in New York (Jan 14-16) and on tour with Alan Gilbert during the conductor’s first European tour with the Philharmonic (Jan 22 – Feb 3). Hampson will give a recital, co-presented by the orchestra and Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Song” series, in Alice Tully Hall on April 11, and he will join members of the orchestra in the inaugural season of its “Contact” new music series (April 16, 17), performing a new work written for him by Mattias Pintscher. Hampson, who was recently named the orchestra’s Leonard Bernstein Scholar, will give master classes at the Juilliard School and three Philharmonic-presented lectures – all sharing an overarching concept title "Listening to Thought”. The lectures begin on November 2 with “Vienna’s Paradigm Shift,” the first of two talks in the orchestra’s “Insights Series”, and continue when Hampson gives the annual Erich Leinsdorf Lecture, “Awakening of the American Voice”, on January 11.

The sheer variety and scope of Hampson’s activities this season with the New York Philharmonic present both a daunting challenge and a unique thrill for a singer whose reputation is founded on both prodigious artistic achievement – from definitive performances and recordings of American and German song to triumphs on the opera stage in French, German, Russian and Italian repertoire – and insatiable curiosity. Hampson is particularly gratified to have such a remarkable opportunity to explore and share so many of his musical passions at such a historic time for the orchestra, when a new music director is bringing, in Hampson’s own words, “the excitement of his youth, abilities, New York-ness and American-ness to one of world’s most important ensembles.” Hampson sees it as a wonderful two-way relationship, providing the organization and its music director with a partner seeking a vital artistic dialogue, while it provides him an invaluable opportunity to perform, educate, enlighten and entertain audiences in areas of enduring musical importance to him.

For his first appearances with the New York Philharmonic Hampson will be singing Zemlinsky’s seldom-performed and opulently-scored Lyric Symphony under guest conductor Neeme Järvi, beginning on November 5. Hampson’s research into the music and arts in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century is reflected not only in his choice of repertoire, but also in his ability to speak eloquently on his subjects of choice. The first of his lectures in the orchestra’s “Insights Series”, entitled “Listening to Thought: Vienna’s Paradigm Shift”, takes place on Monday, November 2 at Lincoln Center’s Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse. Hampson will explore the interplay of verbal and musical languages in vocal music, focusing on experimentation and change in Vienna between the wars.

American music comes to the fore beginning on New Year’s Eve, when Hampson joins Alan Gilbert and the orchestra for performances of selections from favorite Broadway shows as well as Aaron Copland’s beloved Old American Songs. Soon after, Hampson will perform John Adams’s hauntingly beautiful, Whitman-inspired The Wound-Dresser with Gilbert and the Philharmonic both in New York (Jan 14-16) and abroad; Hampson will join Gilbert for his first European tour as music director of the orchestra. As a prelude to these performances, Hampson will give the annual Erich Leinsdorf Lecture: “Listening to Thought: Awakening of the American Voice.” This talk, which takes place in the Walter Reade Theater on January 11, will emphasize Whitman’s writings and influences on his own and later generations of authors, poets, and composers.

In April, Hampson will be doing double – if not triple – duty in New York City, reprising the role of Germont in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Verdi’s La traviata (March 29 – April 24) while he continues his residency activities with the Philharmonic. His third and final lecture of the season, “Listening to Thought: A Guide to German Romanticism”, will take place on Monday, April 5 at the Kaplan Penthouse and will explore the iconography, metaphor, and imagery of this epochal period for European art song. That lecture will set the stage for Hampson’s solo recital at Alice Tully Hall on April 11, which will be co-presented by the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Song” series.

Thomas Hampson’s season with the Philharmonic ends with the new in several ways. As part of the New York Philharmonic’s new “Contact” series, which will feature programs of new music commissioned by the orchestra, Hampson will give the world premiere of a work written for him by German composer Matthias Pintscher. The work, co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, features Hebrew-language settings from the biblical Song of Solomon and contemporary lyric poetry (love poems by Yehuda Amichai, the Jewish poet who died in 2000). Hampson, Gilbert and members of the orchestra will perform the work on both sides of upper Manhattan: on Friday, April 16 at Symphony Space, and on Saturday, April 17 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Pablo Heras-Casado conducts from the UK to L.A.

Fresh from Japan with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Spanish conductor Pablo Heras-Casado launched September with the Orchestre National de Bordeaux, conducted his debut with Zurich's Tonhalle Orchestra and returned to the Collegium Novum Zurich. Earlier this month he led the orchestra at London's Royal Academy of Music, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo in Monaco, and Klangforum Vienna in Parma, Italy. The versatile 31-year-old has a number of significant debuts in the coming months, culminating at the Hollywood Bowl: his re-engagement with the Los Angeles Philharmonic next summer.

  • Oct. 24: BBC Philharmonic debut; Manchester, UK (Mendelssohn, Dvorak, Beethoven)
  • Dec. 15: Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France (Schubert: Sym. No. 7 - DVD for Naïve)
  • Jan. 9: Orquesta Nacional de Espana debut; Spain
  • Feb-Mar.: English National Opera debut (L'Elisir d'Amore; Jonathan Miller, dir.)
  • Apr. 8 & 9: Danish National Symphony Orchestra; (Nielsen, Chopin, Holst)
  • June-July: Welsh National Opera debut (Simon Keenlyside's first Rigoletto; James MacDonald, dir.)
  • July: Hollywood Bowl debut; Los Angeles Philharmonic (all-Beethoven)

Film Scored by "American Icon" John Adams Gets Hollywood World Award Nomination; Composer to Deliver Tanner Lectures

John Adams has contributed his first-ever film score, to Io sono l'amore (I Am Love), the new film by Italian director Luca Guadagnino, starring Tilda Swinton. The film drew considerable attention at the Toronto Film Festival last month and has now been nominated for the Hollywood Film Festival and Hollywood Awards’ Hollywood World Award for best international film.

The award's jury chair Mike Goodridge said that the nominated films "are not just among the best international films, but the best films made this year." The winning film will be announced at a gala event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles this Monday, October 26.

Following the Toronto Film Festival screenings in September, the Hollywood Reporter said of the film that "best of all is the score, the first-ever by acclaimed minimalist musician John Adams (Nixon in China), whose orchestral compositions run counter to the scenes. Dramatic moments are accompanied by light, almost frivolous music, the routine of everyday life by deep, somber tones.” The Los Angeles Times's Mark Olsen said "the pulsing, buzzing orchestral music by John Adams adds a staggering emotional punch" to the film.

Mikel Rouse's Gravity Radio - release date Nov 2 - CD release party in New York Oct 23

New York, NY – Composer, filmmaker, director and solo performer Mikel Rouse celebrates the release of his latest album, Gravity Radio (Exit Music 1012) with a special performance at Galapagos Art Space (16 Main Street, Brooklyn) on Friday, October 23 at 8pm. Mr. Rouse will be joined onstage by his band and special guests ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble) and TONY nominated/OBIE Award winner Veanne Cox. New work by acclaimed video artist Cliff Baldwin will be projected throughout the performance. The release date for Gravity Radio is November 3 (on iTunes and at all major retailers) but the disc will be available for purchase at Galapagos.

Mikel Rouse has spent his successful and varied career creating music and multimedia projects that marry simplicity and intricacy. Gramophone reports, “We have Rouse’s works as living proof that complexity need not keep listeners at a distance, and that pop music can sustain serious interest with the right person at the helm.” Mr. Rouse has finely honed his ability to defy genres with his “avant-rock” music, infusing his work with sincere melody while basing it on strict and complex idioms. The result is music that is infectious from the first hearing, and which grows more engaging and cerebral thereafter.

Of the new album Rouse says, “Perhaps it (Gravity Radio) is an attempt to recapture or update my first memory of radio in the late 1960s – Motown and British rock fading in from a faraway Chicago station as the local news faded out on my transistor radio, which I put between my head and the pillow late at night.”

Actual AP Newswire reports are recited by Ms. Cox throughout Gravity Radio. These reports are scattershot, reflecting aspects of current events and society as reported on the news. Included are stories from the Iraq war, the statistics for cell phone usage, plastic surgery, professional football and the economy. The title Gravity Radio is inspired by physicist Raymond Chiao’s experiments with superconductors and gravity waves – which exist in theory but have eluded detection.

Mikel Rouse’s musical and theatrical repertoire has its roots in the high art-meets-popular culture, mix-and-match aesthetic of the early ‘80s downtown Manhattan music and art scene from which he emerged. As the Toronto Globe and Mail puts it, Rouse’s music has brought “comparisons to Laurie Anderson, Steve Reich and occasionally Talking Heads, though Rouse's love of complex rhythmic patterns far exceeds them all. But music is just a part of what he does: His pieces also build a hypnotic effect through their non-narrative approach and the use of surreal film images.” After the premiere of Rouse’s multimedia opera, The End of Cinematics, The New York Times reported, “Sometimes built on heavy, repetitive beats, and sometimes couched in Beatle-esque psychedelia, the songs are vivid, pleasingly visceral and often engagingly harmonized, with amusingly off-kilter lyrics.”

Following the November release of Gravity Radio, Rouse and his 11-piece band will embark on an international tour in January 2010. The live performance of the song cycle will incorporate multichannel video representing a visual kaleidoscope of earthbound images. The AP Newswire reports and the written commentary that highlights the connections between the song lyrics and the reports will be customized for each performance, taken from that day’s local and national news. The Gravity Radio tour begins in New Orleans at the Contemporary Arts Center on January 23, and will include performances in New York, Illinois, North Carolina, Toronto, Ireland and Spain.

eighth blackbird wins the newly-established Meadows Prize from Southern Methodist University

the ensemble plans to curate a new music series in partnership with the Dallas Arts District

eighth blackbird, the Grammy Award-winning new music sextet, has been awarded the new Meadows Prize by Southern Methodist University, one of Texas's most prestigious academic institutions. Named for philanthropists Algur H. and Virginia Meadows, the prize, which was established in August 2009, is given to "professionals with an emerging international profile" and may be given to as many as four recipients each year.

An SMU press release states:

"The [Meadows] prize includes housing for a one-to-three-month residency in Dallas, transportation expenses, studio/office space and project costs, in addition to a substantial prize/stipend. In return, recipients will be expected to interact in a substantive way with Meadows students and to leave a lasting legacy in Dallas."

eighth blackbird is committed to nurturing a new generation of artists, and as part of the prize the ensemble will work with music students at SMU's Meadows School of the Arts and other local schools, as well as in the wider community.

The Meadows Prize is also intended to help spark a local, sustainable contemporary and fringe arts scene in Dallas. Its creation coincided with the opening of the AT&T Performing Arts Center on October 12, an event that marked the completion of one of the world's largest arts districts and that brings vibrancy to the downtown Dallas area. As part of this goal, eighth blackbird will curate a new music series in partnership with the Dallas Arts District. Dallas’s new AT&T Performing Arts Center, which opened this week, is the center of a revived arts scene in the downtown area.

"This is a huge honor,” says Tim Munro, eighth blackbird’s flutist. “SMU’s School of the Arts has a strong national reputation with a distinguished faculty, and the AT&T center looks amazing. We can't wait to get our feet wet in this fascinating project!"
eighth blackbird was nominated for the Meadows Prize by a committee including choreographer Paul Taylor, producer/director James Houghton, composer John Zorn and actor Laura Linney. The other recipient is CreativeTime, an artist collective and arts consulting group. eighth blackbird, currently in residence at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School, moves shortly to its recurring residency at the University of Richmond (VA). The ensemble will also be in residence at Philadelphia’s esteemed Curtis Institute of Music in February. In the near future eighth blackbird plays concerts in Chicago, Louisville, La Jolla, San Diego, Cincinnati and elsewhere.

Legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela celebrates his 70th birthday with the London Symphony Orchestra

10 December 2009, 7.30pm, Barbican Hall

Iconic South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela returns to the London Symphony Orchestra on Thursday 10 December in the Barbican Hall to celebrate his 70th birthday. The programme includes urban folk songs and works by leading young jazz musician and composer Jason Yarde, Rude Awakening and All Souls Seek Joy, as well as music that reflects Masekela’s love for his own country.

Young composer Andrew McCormack’s Incentive is also performed and, along with All Souls Seek Joy, was commissioned through the LSO Discovery Panufnik Young Composers Scheme. François-Xavier Roth conducts the LSO and LSO St Luke’s Community Choir.

“At the end of the evening, the audience stood and sang the world's loveliest national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika, rearranged as a rousing choral suite. This was no longer just another concert. It was a moment in time and place that could not be replicated, only remembered.” Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, after Masekela’s last appearance with the LSO in 2007 10 December 2009, 7.30pm, Barbican Hall
UBS Soundscapes: Masekela
Hugh Masekela 70th Birthday Concert

JASON YARDE Rude Awakening †
JASON YARDE Concerto*
ANDREW MCCORMACK Incentive*
François-Xavier Roth conductor
Hugh Masekela flugelhorn and vocals
LSO St Luke's Community Choir
London Symphony Orchestra

*Commissioned through the LSO Discovery Panufnik Young Composers Scheme, supported by The Helen Hamlyn Trust
†Commissioned through UBS Soundscapes : Pioneers

Tickets: £7- £32

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sting set to Release New Recording "If On a Winter's Night..."

To Be Released October 27, 2009 on Deutsche Grammophon

Ok - You may be thinking I'm off my rocker. Interchanging Idioms is a Classical Music blog, right? Yes, and while I sometimes venture into other areas that are related, seldom do I outright plug the pop industry - they have enough exposure on their own.

However, Sting's latest CD "If On a Winter's Night..." is NOT venturing from the classical music focus. In collaboration with esteemed producer and arranger, Robert Sadin, "If On a Winter’s Night…" features traditional music of the British Isles as its starting point. Sting and guest musicians interpret a stirring collection of songs, carols, and lullabies including The Snow it Melts the Soonest (traditional Newcastle ballad), A Soalin’ (traditional English "begging" song) Gabriel's Message (14th century carol), Balulalow (lullaby by Peter Warlock) and Now Winter Comes Slowly (Henry Purcell). These are beautiful pieces and deserve to be classified as more than just popular music. Again, Sting has melded mainstream music with other genre's, this time classical music.

His new album is dedicated to his favorite season – Winter - a season which has inspired countless songwriters over the centuries and produced a wealth of music exploring all of its many guises. "If On a Winter's Night..." presents an arc of songs that conjures the season of spirits, resulting in a haunting, spiritual and reflective musical journey.

“The theme of winter is rich in inspiration and material,” comments Sting; “by filtering all of these disparate styles into one album I hope we have created something refreshing and new.” He continues, "Our ancestors celebrated the paradox of light at the heart of the darkness, and the consequent miracle of rebirth and the regeneration of the seasons.”

Two of Sting’s own compositions are also featured on the album, Lullaby for an Anxious Child and The Hounds of Winter, which originally appeared on his previous release Mercury Falling, alongside Hurdy Gurdy Man, - a musical reworking and English translation (by Sting) of Der Leiermann from Schubert's classic winter song-cycle Winterreise.

For this exploration of the themes and emotions of Winter, Sting is joined by friend and long time colleague, guitarist Dominic Miller. Additional guests include an ensemble of three remarkable musicians from Northern England and Scotland: Kathryn Tickell (fiddle and Northumbrian pipes) Julian Sutton (melodeon) and Mary MacMaster (metal string Scottish harp), along with Daniel Hope (violin), Vincent Ségal (cello), Chris Botti and Ibrahim Maalouf, (trumpet), Cyro Baptista and Bijan Chemirani (percussion), the Webb Sisters (vocals) and Stile Antico (vocal ensemble).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Pianist Yevgeny Sudbin and Neeme Järvi join forces with the London Philharmonic to perform Scriabin's Piano Concerto, Oct 28th

Scriabin’s Piano Concerto, a one-off concerto masterpiece written in 1896, uses words and phrases from the Romantic vocabulary of Rachmaninoff and Chopin. A technically demanding piece, the audience is treated to colourful and imaginative passages filled with agitated figures that allow the pianist to showcase his talent. The concerto will be performed by pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, who, having rapidly risen to the forefront of the classical music scene, has performed in prestigious venues all over the world. The concert will also feature an hour long symphonic summary of Wagner’s Ring Cycle arranged by Henk de Vlieger, capturing all the tension, anger, romance and ecstasy of Wagner’s epic music drama.

Concert Details
October 28th, 7:30pm
Royal Festival Hall
Neeme Järvi conductor
Yevgeny Sudbin piano

Scriabin Rêverie
Scriabin Piano Concerto
Wagner (arr. De Vlieger) The Ring, an Orchestral Adventure

TICKETS £9 - £55
Book tickets online at lpo.org.uk

Rachmaninoff and Olga Kern Fill the Hall in Denver

Last night Colorado Symphony Orchestra began their Rachmaninoff Festival to a nearly full house at Boettcher Concert Hall. With two weekends of the superb piano performances by award winning Olga Kern and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jeffery Kahane, Denver classical music lovers will be treated to the full range of Rachmaninoff music. The first night certainly set the stage for a great festival of music.

The opening night of the Rachmaninoff Festival began with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony Chorus (under the direction of the Chorus Founder Duain Wolfe) and Three Russian Songs for Chorus and Orchestra. The gentle beginning immediately established a Russian feel to the evening, with soft but dark music from the orchestra. The Colorado Symphony Chorus did an excellent job of providing emotional depth with excellent diction. Even when they were brought down to a mezzo-piano in the third song there was an astonishing sense of power to the chorus. In the second of three songs both the chorus and orchestra supplied ample swells to give the piece a poignant Russian landscape.

Olga Kern on the piano was featured in Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1. He had written this piece before he graduated from the conservatory. While it is not the composer's most melodic or memorable music, it certainly shows his understanding of the range of both orchestra and piano. Ms Kern played the Steinway with an intensity and veracity that shows why she won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2001; she is one of the most remarkable pianists of our age. Her performance was filled with emotion - taking moments when the music needed it but never a moment more. The grace at which she played the slow sections was ballet-like, yet the power and sound she was able to hammer out of the Steinway was phenomenal. The cadenza in the first movement was simply amazing! Tender moments in the Andante cantabile danced through the hall expressing the full range of emotion. The final Allegro scherzando showed Ms Kern’s ability to play beyond the speed of light, yet still provide the occasional comical touch as the music required. After the piece thundered to a close the audience offered no hesitation in showing their appreciation standing throughout the hall.

The second half of the concert provided numerous opportunities for the incredible Colorado Symphony players to be highlighted. Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 3 first movement begins with a delicate horn and clarinet duet by Michael Thornton and Bil Jackson. The cello section is featured with a lovely melodic section. Peter Cooper on Oboe and Justin Bartels on Trumpet were also featured. The full orchestra filled the hall with everything from fragile whispers to deafening crescendos. The second movement was lighter again featuring the horn, but this time with Courtney Hershey Bress on Harp. Pamela Endsley on flute followed with a beautifully rich moment and then Andrew Stevens was featured on the Bass Clarinet. The piece continued to transform the evening with a variety of colors and textures as Jason Lichtenwalter added a moment of solo English Horn. Associate Concertmaster Claude Sim was also featured with numerous beautiful violin solos.

While the concert may have been billed as featuring Olga Kern – and she was certainly a wonder to hear – the concert was really a collection of great moments, brilliant colors with everything from the Colorado Symphony Chorus to the vast number of world class musicians in the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. It was great to see Olga Kern perform the first in a series of what will undoubtedly be incredible performances. But staying to hear the various star performers in the orchestra really captured the spirit of the Rachmaninoff Festival – great music and great performers.

Rachmaninoff Festival Continues: Tonight and Sunday (October 17 & 18) Piano Concerto No 3. The Isle of the Dead Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Next Friday (October 24) Piano Concerto No. 4 Symphonic Dances Saturday and Sunday (October 25 & 25) “Alleluia” from All Night Vigil The Bells Piano Concerto No 2

Tickets can be purchased online at: www.ticketmaster.com

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Libby Larsen to Premiere New Liturgical Mass at St Paul's Lutheran in Denver

Libby Larsen is one of America’s most performed living composers. She has created a catalog of over 400 works spanning virtually every genre from intimate vocal and chamber music to massive orchestral works and over twelve operas. Grammy Award winning and widely recorded, including over fifty CD’s of her work, she is constantly sought after for commissions and premieres by major artists, ensembles, and orchestras around the world, and has established a permanent place for her works in the concert repertory.

As a vigorous, articulate advocate for the music and musicians of our time, in 1973 Larsen co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composer’s Forum, which has become an invaluable aid for composers in a transitional time for American arts. A former holder of the Papamarkou Chair at John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress, Larsen has also held residencies with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony and the Colorado Symphony.

On Sunday, October 25th, the St Paul's Lutheran Church in Denver Colorado will Premiere Ms Larsen's new Liturgical Mass.

October 25, Sunday
World Premiere

Saint Paul Lutheran Church
1600 Grant Street
Denver, CO

303-839-1432

“Irrepressible” DiDonato Is Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Metropolitan Opera through November 7

“A Brilliant Singer Hits the Heights with Rossini” (Time Out NY) – Joyce DiDonato’s Rossini Arias CD Is on EMI Virgin Classics

“The lustrous, vivacious mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato sings Rosina, and her fans will be eager to see her,” enthuses a New York Times listing for her recent return to the Metropolitan Opera as the spirited Rosina – her signature role. “Added to her lovely voice and precise coloratura were her superb dramatic skills: she spoke volumes with a sly smile or an arched eyebrow,” continues last week’s Times review, while Time Out New York’s review – the first – of her brand-new recording – Colbran, the Muse: Opera Arias by Rossini – opens:

“Here’s another bull’s-eye from the wondrous Joyce DiDonato, who’ll be thrilling Met audiences with Rossinian fireworks and lustrous tone in Il barbiere di Siviglia through November 7. On her new CD..., the brilliant Kansas mezzo has fashioned an eloquent tribute to Rossini’s wife and frequent inspiration, Isabella Colbran. ... If you’re new to the composer’s delights, DiDonato’s offering is the place to start: today’s gold standard.”

Joyce DiDonato’s Rossini singing has lit up stages around the world. Only last week, EMI/Virgin Classics released her highly-anticipated new Rossini arias CD, and it’s already on the Billboard chart. On this new album – the follow-up to last season’s Billboard-charting Furore: Handel Opera Arias – the renowned mezzo sings scenes from six operas Rossini composed for the Spanish soprano Isabella Colbran (1785-1845), the composer’s muse and wife.

“Hers is surely the best-ever recorded performance of ‘Tanti affetti,’ the virtuoso finale from La donna del lago, an opera she’ll tackle this season in Geneva and Paris,” says Time Out New York. The disc includes another scene from La donna del lago as well as arias from Rossini’s Armida, Maometto II, Otello, Semiramide, and Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra.

The mezzo sings the generous program of Colbran, the Muse 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 is available now from EMI/Virgin Classics as a special exclusive download on iTunes.

DiDonato sings Rossini at the Met

This fall, Joyce DiDonato returned to the Metropolitan Opera to reprise her inimitable portrayal of Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia. Her Rosina is already legendary, having been seen by millions in opera houses, high-definition transmissions, and broadcasts throughout the U.S. and around the world. Rosina’s signature aria “Una voce poco fa” has become a touchstone for DiDonato’s career. The New York Times described her 2007 performance at the annual Richard Tucker Gala as: “An ‘Una voce poco fa’ from Rossini’s Barbiere di Siviglia that was among the most spectacular vocal feats this listener has ever heard, thrown off with ease, a sense of fun and pinpoint control.” Joyce DiDonato’s 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) in September. When she broke her leg during a June performance of Barbiere at London’s Covent Garden, DiDonato laudably carried off the evening with a cane – and finished the run of shows wearing a bright pink cast while navigating the set in a wheelchair, making the role of Rosina 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 the role of Elena for the first time in Geneva (May 5, 2010); she reprises the part a few weeks later at the Paris Opéra with tenor Juan Diego Flórez (June 14, 2010).

World-Renowned Pianist Simone Dinnerstein to Perform at Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, Oct. 23

Baltimore, Md. (October 16, 2009)—World-class pianist Simone Dinnerstein, who has amazed audiences at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center and whom O Magazine describes as “timeless, meditative, utterly audacious” for her interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, will perform selections by Bach and Schubert at a most unlikely venue on Friday, October 23 at 11:00 a.m.: the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women (MCI-W). Ms. Dinnerstein will answer questions from the inmates following the performance.

Since 1996, Ms. Dinnerstein has played concerts throughout the United States for the Piatigorsky Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing classical music to non-traditional venues. Amongst the places she has played are nursing homes, schools and community centers. Most notably, Ms. Dinnerstein gave the first classical music performance in the Louisiana state prison system. Because Ms. Dinnerstein shares the BSO’s vision to make classical music accessible by performing in unlikely venues, the BSO partnered with the Maryland Correctional Institution to create this unique event. The BSO and Simone Dinnerstein’s joint effort to reach all members of our community affords the staff and inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup, Md. the opportunity to enjoy one of the top pianists in the world. This partnership is made possible in part thanks to Jordan Kitts Music, which is covering a portion of the piano rental and moving fees.

“We’re thrilled to allow such an icon to come inside the fence for our staff and inmates,” says MCI-W Warden Carroll Parish, whose prison strives to provide countless programs and services to its population of approximately 820 women.

Bringing culturally-enhancing activities and guests into Maryland State prisons is not unprecedented. Two years ago, Patuxent Institution hosted a professional Shakespeare theatre company and well-known gospel artists such as Christopher Tate.

“We are grateful to the Department of Correctional Services for partnering with us to make this possible. There were a lot of logistics involved—such as figuring out how to get a grand piano through security,” says Jeff Counts, BSO Vice President of Artistic Planning. “Despite the hurdles, the Baltimore Symphony believes that all people should have access to great art and we seek to do our part to make that possible. Simone’s beautifully expressive performances and winsome, down-to-earth nature will create a memorable experience for everyone present.”

Simone Dinnerstein is scheduled to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO), under the direction of Louis Langrée, on Thursday, October 22 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 25 at 3:00 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, October 24 at 8:00 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore.

London Philharmonic Orchestra Premiers Rautavaara’s Incantations, October 24th

After evenings of indescribable electricity with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in recent seasons, here Colin Currie takes flight once more with a world first: the première performance of Rautavaara’s Incantations, a piece that promises to marry aura and animation, finesse and fireworks. The concert begins with the world première of Rautavaara’s Incantations – a percussion concerto that promises to marry aura and animation, finesse and fireworks. Fifty years ago Rautavaara was awarded a scholarship from Jean Sibelius as the most promising Finnish composer of the following generation. Since then he has composed a broad range of works and this première will enable you to hear his intriguing style fusing modernism with mystical romanticism.

When Jean Sibelius was asked to award a scholarship to the most promising Finnish composer of the generation to follow him, he chose Einojuhani Rautavaara. In the fifty years since that endorsement, Rautavaara’s orchestral kaleidoscope has rotated full circle from luscious post-romanticism to electronic sampling – not to mention the broad range of his fascinating vocal and chamber works. His dreamy, magical control of what seems like a distant musical world has made him one of the most performed European composers of today.

In the second half is Bruckner’s Symphony 8, a majestic work with lavish themes and rich sonorities. Yannick Nézet-Séguin demonstrated his affinity with late romantic music last season. His interpretation of Bruckner’s Symphony 7 was described as ‘one of the most remarkable performances of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony I have ever heard.’ (Evening Standard, February 2009).

Nearly 120 years ago, Austrian Anton Bruckner was hard at work on his Eighth Symphony, the last he completed. His achievement brings Wagnerian luxury and richness into symphonic form, and some of the first listeners found the recipe too much for their aural palettes. But audiences eventually catch up with great artists’ visions, and we now savour fully this magical, solemn work – an incomparable portrait in sound glistening with the strings of Bruckner’s newly discovered harp.

Concert Details
24 October 2009 7:30pm
Royal Festival Hall
Rautavaara and Bruckner
Yannick Nézet-Séguin conductor
Colin Currie percussion

Rautavaara Incantations (for percussion and orchestra; world première)
Bruckner Symphony 8

TICKETS: £9 - £55
Book tickets online at lpo.org.uk

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cecilia Bartoli Releases Album Dedicated to the Castrati

‘Sacrificium’ releases October 27th, 2009 on Decca

New York, NY - Celebrated vocalist Cecilia Bartoli has found artistic inspiration in one of music history’s most fascinating—and cruel—subjects: the castrati of the Baroque era. Constantly challenging herself and her fans by recording virtually unknown repertoire, Bartoli continues to carry the art form to new aesthetic and intellectual heights. Her new album, Sacrificium, is no exception: featuring 11 world-premiere recordings, the disc will be available on the Decca label on October 27th, 2009. To celebrate the release, (le) poisson rouge in New York City will host a special film screening of Bartoli's recent performance of the music of Sacrificium at the Castera Palace in Naples, Italy. This free event will take place on November 16, 2009 at 7:30 pm.

"The age of the castratos was one of the most dazzling and remarkable in European music history," writes Bartoli. "Seldom has there ever been such a complete fusion of sensuousness and splendor, form and content, poetry and music, and, above all, such a perfection of vocal virtuosity, as was achieved in the glory days of the Baroque era. The legendary art of the castratos continues to exert its fascination even today, and despite the great human sacrifice it exacted, a new assessment of this extraordinary period is surely justified." Sacrificium marks the first collaboration of Il Giardino Armonico, Giovanni Antonini, and Bartoli since their Grammy Award-winning The Vivaldi Album ten years ago. The arias on the album are drawn from the works of Nicola Porpora (1686-1768), Antonio Caldara (c. 1670-1736), Francesco Araia (1709-1770), Carl Heinrich Graun (c. 1703-1759), Leonardo Leo (1694-1744), Leonardo Vinci (1696-1730), Riccardo Broschi (c. 1658-1756) and Geminiano Giacomello (c. 1692- 1740).

The arias Bartoli has chosen were written specifically to showcase the incredible skill and ethereal voices of the castrati, young boys castrated before puberty to maintain their soprano voices. Sacrificium laments as much as celebrates what these boys sacrificed in the name of art. The comprehensive album package will feature 100 minutes of diverse and splendid tracks, as well as a 100-page illustrated A to Z of the Castrati. Cecilia Bartoli’s goal is to drop the listener into this harsh, beautiful world of the Baroque. "In order to recreate the sound of [the castrati] for today’s listeners, we must resort to a little theatrical trickery," says Bartoli. She adds, however: "Even in the heyday of the great castratos, it was widely held that female singers, with their particular vocal capabilities, were worthy competitors."

Bartoli is certainly a worthy competitor. Her voice and artistry have sold 6 million CDs, capturing the hearts of countless opera lovers and casual listeners alike. She is known to sell out prestigious concert halls all over the world, most recently New York's Carnegie Hall last spring. Her awards include multiple Golden Discs, four Grammys, seven Echos, and the Victoire de la Musique. She has been given Italian knighthood, solidifying her role as one of Rome’s favorite daughters. She will tour the repertoire of Sacrificium throughout Europe in the 2009-2010 season.

Minnesota Orchestra Names Sarah Hicks Principal Conductor of Pops and Presentations

Ms. Hicks to lead Orchestra’s U.S. Bank Pops Season through August 2013

October 12, 2009 -- Sarah Hicks has been appointed the Minnesota Orchestra’s Principal Conductor of Pops and Presentations, Orchestra President and CEO Michael Henson announced today. Ms. Hicks, who will assume the new role immediately, will lead the Orchestra’s signature U.S. Bank Pops Season for a term of four years, through 2012-13. Ms. Hicks joined the Orchestra as assistant conductor in 2006, making history as the first woman to hold a titled conducting post with the Minnesota Orchestra.

“Pops concerts play an important role in the Minnesota Orchestra’s artistic offerings, and we have taken our time in identifying a new pops leader in order to find the right fit with audiences, the Orchestra—and the music itself,” says Michael Henson. “We’ve discovered that Sarah Hicks is made for this role. She sparks great connections with audiences; she has earned the respect of the musicians; she is a creative programmer; and she wants to focus her creative energies on expanding the boundaries of pops programming for new audiences.”

Says Music Director Osmo Vänskä, “We knew from the start of Sarah’s tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra that she was a conductor to watch, someone who had a great deal to offer. Today we share that conviction with the public with this important appointment. I have always said that we must take care of all the music we present and our pops performances will be in very capable hands with Sarah. She is ready to lead them in new directions.”

Ms. Hicks will oversee artistic planning for the Orchestra’s pops season and will conduct a minimum of four sets of pops concerts each year. Under the terms of the agreement, she will also “cross over” to lead programs of many types with the Minnesota Orchestra every year. She will continue to conduct and program the popular Inside the Classics concerts and will lead holiday concerts and additional performances presented by the Orchestra. In the upcoming two weeks, for example, Ms. Hicks will lead Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony in a pair of Inside the Classics concerts, a Broadway-themed pops performance, a “sampler” program introducing audiences to the Orchestra’s varied offerings, and the Minnesota Orchestra debut of singer-songwriter Ben Folds.

“Being able to conduct concerts with such great variety, from Beethoven to Ben Folds, is my dream job,” says Ms. Hicks. “I am thrilled to embark on this new role with the Minnesota Orchestra because I believe there is tremendous artistic potential for where we might go. While the Orchestra has an established tradition of celebrating American popular music, from Broadway to Big Band—which we’ll continue to do—there are many other avenues across the spectrum of popular music for us to explore, and I look forward to that journey in upcoming seasons.”

In the 2009-10 pops season, Ms. Hicks will conduct the return of country star Kathy Mattea, “Scandinavian Christmas” performances in December, jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli in a Valentine’s Day celebration and Michael Cavanaugh singing the music of Billy Joel, among other concerts.

Ms. Hicks joins the Minnesota Orchestra artistic leadership team that includes Music Director Osmo Vänskä, Artistic Director of Sommerfest Andrew Litton, and Artistic Director of Jazz Irvin Mayfield . Trumpeter Doc Severinsen served as the Orchestra’s Principal Pops Conductor from 1993 to 2007, and now serves as Pops Conductor Laureate.

“The Minnesota Orchestra offers a great range of concerts through its season—from classical and jazz to pops and summer fare—and we are pleased to have top artistic leadership in place for all of this music to thrive for years to come for Minnesota audiences,” says Mr. Henson.

Organist Paul Jacobs reaches Geographic Milestone November 8th in Anchorage Alaska

Paul Jacobs, among today’s foremost organists, will reach a geographic milestone on Sunday, November 8. When he plays the final notes of Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on "Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” in a 4 p.m. concert at St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church in Anchorage, Alaska, Mr. Jacobs will have played before audiences in every one of America’s 50 states. He will have accomplished this feat in a span of just nine years, dating from his historic performance of the complete organ works of J.S. Bach in an 18-hour marathon on July 28, 2000, the 250th anniversary of the death of the great German composer.

"A unique joy of being a concert organist,” says Mr. Jacobs, “is that the work not only carries me to well-known venues in major cities, but also to artistically rich small towns and communities. Many of the most sensitive, sophisticated audiences for whom I've had the pleasure of performing have been from these more secluded parts of the country. For instance, I'll never forget the electricity in the air at the cathedral in Helena , Montana , this past year. Over 1,000 people, of all ages, filled the great space in anticipation of hearing music aimed to stir the soul. From these experiences I've learned that all sorts of people from all walks of life crave beauty, and desire encounters with those human beings who wish to share it with them."

Mr. Jacobs arrives in Anchorage directly from St. Petersburg , Russia , where from November 1 to 4 he will be the only U.S. judge at the First International Organ Braudo-Competition and Festival. He opened the 2009-10 season in New York with a performance of J.S. Bach’s challenging Six Trio Sonatas at The Juilliard School, where the 32-year-old organist has been chairman of the organ department since 2004, and later this season he will once again be presented by the San Francisco Symphony, the Pacific Symphony in Orange County, and the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.

In January, Naxos will issue the digital release of Mr. Jacobs’s recording of Olivier Messiaen’s magnum opus, Livre du Saint Sacrement, performed at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City . It will be available in January for download from www.classicsonline.com. The CD is scheduled for release in fall 2010. Mr. Jacobs is well known for his devotion to the music of Messiaen and has performed the composer’s complete organ works in a series of nine-hour marathons in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D. C.

Mr. Jacobs possesses a vast repertoire spanning from the 16th century through contemporary times, including several works written for him by Samuel Adler and Christopher Theofanidis, among others. He began studying the piano at the age of six, the organ at age 13, and two years after, he was appointed head organist of a parish of 3,500 families in his hometown of Washington , Pennsylvania. Mr. Jacobs studied at The Curtis Institute of Music and later, at Yale University.

Among his many awards and honors was the first prize in the 1998 Albert Schweitzer National Organ Competition. He was the first organist ever to be honored with the Harvard Musical Association’s Arthur W. Foote Award, and was named the recipient of Juilliard’s 2007 William Schuman Scholar’s Chair. Mr. Jacobs has been heard on American Public Media’s Pipedreams, Performance Today, and Saint Paul Sunday; NPR’s Morning Edition; and on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power from the Crystal Cathedral.

Composer Michael Hersch Presents World Premiere of His New Work: Last Autumn for Horn and Cello

Performance by Jamie Hersch, Horn, & Daniel Gaisford, Cello, is on Oct 17 in Philadelphia’s St. Mark’s Church, Philadelphia

Composer Michael Hersch’s new work, Last Autumn, for horn and cello, will receive its world premiere on Saturday, October 17 at 8:00 pm in Philadelphia’s St. Mark’s Church. Another version of the composition, for saxophone and piano, will be heard in its world premiere in New York next February.

Hersch, who lives in the Philadelphia area, performed the world premiere of his two-hour work The Vanishing Pavilions entirely from memory there. David Patrick Stearns, music critic of the Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote of the premiere that Hersch “conjured volcanic gestures from the piano with astonishing virtuosity.” Hersch’s boxed-set recording of The Vanishing Pavilions on the Vanguard Classics label has garnered a great deal of attention. Vanguard Classics is releasing another CD of Hersch’s works this month: his Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2 for Unaccompanied Cello is the first in a planned Vanguard survey of Hersch’s complete solo and chamber music for strings, to be released over the next three years. The second volume in the series, to be released in 2010, will feature his works for violin, including 14 Pieces, Five Fragments, and the wreckage of flowers. The third installment, scheduled for a 2011 release, will present Hersch’s unaccompanied works for double bass and viola.

“Last Autumn for horn and cello is the sister work to The Vanishing Pavilions. Like The Vanishing Pavilions, it is intended to fill an entire concert program. Together, the two pieces required almost seven years to compose. Completed in 2008, Last Autumn is built around poetic fragments of the late W.G. Sebald. The work was written for two extraordinary musicians: my brother, horn player Jamie Hersch, and cellist Daniel Gaisford.” - Michael Hersch

Saturday, October 17, 2009 at 8 pm
World premiere of Last Autumn for horn and cello
St. Mark’s Church
1625 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA
Jamie Hersch, horn
Daniel Gaisford, cello

All-Star Trio Collaborate on Lang Lang’s First Chamber Music Recording Released on October 20th on Deutsche Grammophon

Tchaikovsky Piano Trio No. 50 & Rachmaninov Trio élégiaque performed by Lang Lang , Vadim Repin and Mischa Maisky

NEW YORK, NY – On October 20th, Deutsche Grammophon will release a recording which reveals a side of pianist Lang Lang’s prodigious talent rarely heard before—his finesse as a collegial interpreter of chamber music. In this, his first chamber music recording, Lang Lang revisits two stellar exponents of Russia’s Romantic musical soul, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov. Making the news of Lang Lang‘s first ever chamber music recording bigger is the fact that he is joined by two giants of the violin and cello: Vadim Repin and Mischa Maisky. Lang Lang could not be in better company to reveal the inexhaustible inventiveness of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Trio No. 50 in A minor or the tender consolations of Rachmaninov’s Trio élégiaque in G-minor, a short early masterpiece composed before Rachmaninov was twenty.

People have often bracketed Tchaikovsky’s great A minor Trio together with Rachmaninov’s first Trio élégiaque, and in Lang Lang’s view this is appropriate. Rachmaninov’s teenage work reflects a huge influence by the older composer, he says, and the trios inhabit the same emotional world: “Both works are tragic, but what really makes you cry is their beauty.” Lang Lang, Mischa Maisky and Vadim Repin first performed these works together at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland on July 21st of this year. “We are trying to live through them together,” says Repin. “This is our essential preparation for the recording.”

This concert may have been their first joint foray, but the chemistry is already good. It needs to be, since their personalities are big, their backgrounds are diverse, and – with Maisky at 61, Repin at 38, and Lang Lang at 27 – they effectively represent three generations. The ebullient Maisky, born in Riga, has had a highly unconventional career: his inbuilt rebelliousness led to his being put in jail by the Soviet authorities, then in a work camp, then in a mental hospital, before what he calls his “repatriation” in 1972 to Israel, from where his career as a soloist and chamber player took off. Repin, whose playing is now routinely compared with that of his hero David Oistrakh, only gravitated to the violin because when he was five and wanted to attend the music school in his hometown of Novosibirsk, the one available place was for that instrument. Lang Lang’s well-documented rise from obscure provincial origins in China has catapulted him into non-stop global orbit: he brings not only a different generational approach to this music, but a profoundly different cultural perspective as well. “Lang Lang’s youthfulness makes his playing shine, as though it’s full of light,” says Repin. “Mischa and I are trying to harness that quality.”

In the past ten years, Lang Lang has become an international phenomenon, playing sold out recitals and concerts in cities around the world. His influence and status in China has helped to inspire over 35 million Chinese children to learn to play piano—a phenomenon dubbed by NBC’s The Today Show as "the Lang Lang effect." Earlier this year, Time magazine included Lang Lang in its 2009 list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

On October 27th, just a week after the release of this recording, Lang Lang will perform the Tchaikovsky Trio at Carnegie Hall with emerging and established Chinese and Chinese-American musicians in a program entitled “Lang Lang and Friends.” This concert is one of three in which Lang Lang will star during Carnegie’s expansive Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture presented together with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County in Costa Mesa, California. “Lang Lang and Friends” will also be presented there on November 3rd. These engagements are part of a busy performing schedule for Lang Lang in the US this fall which also includes appearances in Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington DC before the end of November.

Fifth Annual Opera News Awards Issue Is Published in November, with Salutes to the Five Honorees

The fifth annual Opera News Awards are the cover story of the November 2009 issue of Opera News. Other feature articles in the new issue include an introduction to Janacek’s From the House of the Dead, just in time for the Met’s production on November 12; a profile of New York City Opera’s George Steel; and a tribute to the incomparable Hildegard Behrens. This month’s offerings from the Metropolitan Opera Guild include lectures on From the House of the Dead; “Puccini the Popular”; French, German and English opera style; and “French Connections”.

Honored for their distinguished achievement in and contribution to opera, this year’s Opera News Award recipients are Martina Arroyo, Joyce DiDonato, Gerald Finley, Philip Glass and Shirley Verrett. Each of these singular artists receives a tribute in the new issue of Opera News, written by one of its editors: Brian Kellow (Arroyo), Oussama Zahr (DiDonato), Louise T. Guinther (Finley), Adam Wasserman (Glass), and F. Paul Driscoll (Verrett). The awards ceremony, a popular gala event, will take place at New York’s Gotham Hall on Thursday, November 19. A starry line-up of performers – Stephanie Blythe, Danielle de Niese, Audra McDonald, Paul Simon and Deborah Voigt – will present the awards, and Thomas Hampson and Susan Graham return by popular demand as co-hosts. Tickets ranging in price from $450 - $850 are available from the Met Guild at 212-769-7009 or at www.metguild.org.