. Interchanging Idioms: December 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's been a Good Year and Looking forward to 2010

Interchanging Idioms had over 61,000 visitors in 2009

27 CD's reviewed, 60 concert reviews and over 850 posts

We here at Interchanging Idioms would like to thank our readers, subscribers and friends helping to make this one of the top Classical Music blogs on the internet today. This is just a hobby for us, but obviously one you are enjoying... so we will endeavor to keep up the pace through 2010.

If you have any thoughts, suggestions or comments, please let us know.

Happy New Year
    - from all of us at Interchanging Idioms

World-Renowned Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Coming to Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival

He performed at President Obama’s Inauguration, he’s one of the best selling recording artists in the classical field, and he’s been entertaining audiences around the globe for 30 years with his awe-inspiring cello playing. His name is Yo-Yo Ma and he’s making his way to Vail Colorado.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform a recital with pianist Kathryn Stott during the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival’s opening night of its 23rd season. This will mark Ma’s debut performance in Vail.

This recital takes place June 25, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. The program starts with Ennio Morricone’s “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the film The Mission, followed by George Gershwin’s Prelude No. 2 and Cesar Mariano’s “Cristal” and Brahms’ Sonata No. 1 in E Minor for Cello and Piano. Following a short intermission the duo will play British composer Graham Fitkin’s “L,” written for Yo-Yo on the occasion of his 50th birthday, and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G minor for Cello and Piano.

Bravo’s artistic director Eugenia Zukerman says the Festival is honored that Yo-Yo Ma and his longtime piano collaborator Kathryn Stott will perform a recital together. Their program includes some of the most thrilling music ever written for cello and piano.

“I’ve known Yo-Yo for more than 30 years, and with all his accolades and fame, he has remained the approachable and modest person he was in his late teens. To hear him play in person is to be transported--don’t miss the journey.

“With its fine acoustics and natural environment, the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater is a unique setting in which to experience a live performance by one of the most famous and beloved classical instrumentalists in the world” - Eugenia Zukerman

Tickets go on sale April 5th and range from $40 to $150 depending on seating preference. To purchase tickets contact the Bravo ticketing department at 970.827.5700 or order online at www.vailmusicfestival.org.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Yuja Wang Heads into Studio to Record her next CD - Transformations

Yuja Wang, whose DG debut recital was recently nominated for a Grammy®, returns with an all-new solo recital. As in her debut album, Yuja tackles some formidable repertory and covers a wide-range of styles. The recital includes two Scarlatti sonatas (K 87 & 380), Stravinsky Three Movements from Petrouchka, Brahms Variations on a Theme of Paganini (Books 1 & 2) and Ravel La Valse.

Yuja will head into the studio January as well as perform a number of concerts throughout January, February, March, April and May, 2010 including solo recitals, chamber music programs and concerti with a variety of orchestras. She will perform across the US from San Francisco and LA through Detroit and Denver to Miami and Washington DC with many stops in between.

Chopin: The Piano Concertos by Rafał Blechacz coming February 2010

After his successful Deutsche Grammophon debut recording of Chopin Preludes, Rafał Blechacz returns to the composer who helped make him famous with this all-new recording of Chopin’s Piano Concertos nos. 1 & 2. As the winner of the 2005 International Chopin Competition at the young age of only 20, Blechacz was awarded not only the rarely given first prize but also all four special prizes for best sonata, mazurka, concerto and polonaise performances. Since then, Blechacz has performed in Europe, Japan and North America to critical acclaim and has already ensured himself a huge following among piano aficionados.

These two concertos, cornerstones of every pianist’s repertory, are especially central to Rafał Blechacz’s introduction to the world-stage. He performed the E minor concerto at the 2005 Chopin Competition and has used both works for numerable memorable debuts around the world. His affinity with Chopin runs deeper than just their shared nationality, Blechacz possess an exceptional intelligence that allows him to understand in-depth the music he performs, and a degree of perception that allows him to infallibly grasp the aesthetic and spiritual dimensions of the compositions he interprets. For this recording Blechacz is joined by Polish conductor Jerzy Semkow and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

Rafał will perform 2/26 ( New York , NY ), 2/27 ( Washington DC ), 3/1 (United Nations), 3/5 ( Durham , NC ) & 3/6 (Morrow, GA).

Hilary Hahn in Hunt for Grammy with upcoming release of Bach's compositions for Violin and Voice

Bach - Violin and Voice to be released January 4, 2010 with Hilary Hahn • Christine Schäfer • Matthias Goerne

Grammy® award winning violinist Hilary Hahn releases a stunning album of Bach’s compositions for voice and violin. The works chosen, all from Bach’s Leipzig years and dating from around 1724 to 1739, are part of the composer’s core output. The cantatas form a central part of his canon, and his mastery of integrating instrumental and vocal writing created some of the most moving and haunting works imaginable. This is Hahn’s second Bach album on Deutsche Grammophon and her first to collaborate with vocalists. She is joined by Christine Schäfer and Matthias Goerne throughout the recording.

“That this project has come to fulfillment – and with such superb colleagues – is for me a dream come true. These magnificent pieces go to the heart of Bach’s artistry as a composer of polyphony: multiple voices, at once clean and complex, presenting layer beneath layer for discovery. No matter how many times I play this music, I am always surprised to find in it new intricacies, new touches of beauty. I hope the same proves true for all who hear this album.” – Hilary Hahn

Nationally-Televised New Year’s Eve Concert and First European Tour with New York Philharmonic Are Highlights for Alan Gilbert in Winter 2010

Alan Gilbert returns to New York City in late December and January for several weeks of concerts with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, with such leading soloists as the celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes (Dec 29, 30, & Jan 2); baritone Thomas Hampson, who is the Orchestra’s first Artist-in-Residence (Dec 31 & Jan 14-16); and powerhouse pianist Yefim “Fima” Bronfman (Jan 7-9 & 12). The concert with Hampson on New Year’s Eve will be broadcast on public television’s Live From Lincoln Center series, which will air in New York on WNET/Channel Thirteen beginning at 8pm (check local listings). From January 21 through February 4, Hampson and Bronfman will join Gilbert for his first European tour with the Orchestra. “Europe / Winter 2010” comprises 13 performances in nine European cities: Barcelona, Zaragoza, and Madrid, all in Spain; Zurich, Switzerland; Frankfurt, Cologne, and Dortmund (the Orchestra’s debut there) in Germany; Paris, France; and London, England. At New York’s Carnegie Hall on February 13, Gilbert will also lead the Philharmonic in a single concert featuring the U.S. premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Clarinet Concerto; Lindberg is the Philharmonic’s Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence.

In his next few programs with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, Alan Gilbert will explore a wide range of repertoire, including some previews of the works to be toured in Europe. Two great Romantic symphonies anchor programs featuring two superb pianists: Schumann’s deeply expressive Second Symphony, along with two works by Webern, is on the program with Leif Ove Andsnes as soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, while Prokofiev’s formidable Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Yefim Bronfman forms the first half of an all-Russian program that concludes with Rachmaninoff’s sweeping Symphony No. 2. Another highlight will be Thomas Hampson singing John Adams’s The Wound-Dresser, a powerful setting of Walt Whitman texts; the work appears on a dark-hued program with Haydn’s Symphony No. 49 (“La passione”), Schubert’s Symphony in B minor (“Unfinished”), and Berg’s Three Orchestral Pieces.

Soon after their tour of Europe, Gilbert and the Philharmonic return to New York where they will perform the world premiere of Christopher Rouse’s Odna Zhizn, a New York Philharmonic commission, on a program at Avery Fisher Hall featuring two works by Mozart: his Sinfonia Concertante for Winds (with four soloists from the Orchestra: Liang Wang, Principal Oboe; Mark Nuccio, Acting Principal Clarinet; Judith LeClair, Principal Bassoon; and Philip Myers, Principal Horn) and “Jupiter” Symphony (Feb 10-12 & 16). On Saturday, February 13, Gilbert and the orchestra return to New York’s Carnegie Hall for a single concert showcasing the U.S. premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s landmark Clarinet Concerto with soloist Kari Kriikku, for whom the work was written, alongside Wagner’s Rienzi Overture and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2. Last season, Gilbert and the orchestra gave an all-Bernstein concert at Carnegie to honor the legendary composer/conductor’s 50th anniversary as Music Director of the Philharmonic, his 90th birthday year, and the 65th anniversary of his famous last-minute Philharmonic debut.

Alan Gilbert’s first tour of Europe with the New York Philharmonic, which takes place halfway through his inaugural season as Music Director, is his second tour with the Orchestra, following “Asian Horizons” in October 2009. The repertoire for “Europe / Winter 2010” will include the European premiere of EXPO, the first New York Philharmonic commission from Magnus Lindberg, which had its world premiere in September 2009 and which the Orchestra performed in Asia. The New York Philharmonic will also perform John Adams’s The Wound-Dresser, with Thomas Hampson as soloist; Berg’s Three Orchestral Pieces; Haydn’s Symphony No. 49 (“La passione”); Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2, with Yefim Bronfman as soloist; Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2; Schubert’s Symphony in B minor (“Unfinished”); and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2.

This tour marks the Philharmonic’s first return to Spain since 2001. The Orchestra last performed in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1985, in Cologne in 2007, and in Frankfurt, Paris, and London in 2008. This will be the Philharmonic’s debut in Dortmund. A complete list of cities and detailed programs for “Europe / Winter 2010” follows below, along with Alan Gilbert’s other winter 2010 engagements.

Boston Pops will US Premiere Neil Gaiman's Short Film "Statuesque" staring Amanda Palmer and Bill Nighy on New Year's Eve

On December 31, the Boston Pops will present the United States premiere of best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s short film Statuesque as part of the New Year’s Eve gala concert featuring the provocative and inventive singer/songwriter/cabaret artist Amanda Palmer. Statuesque has been described as “a love triangle between two living statues and an admirer who observes his object of affection every day among the Christmas shoppers, unaware that he too is being watched.” The short film stars Amanda Palmer and Bill Nighy (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Main’s Chest and At World’s End, Love Actually), with Becca Darling and Liam McKean. It will be shown to open Amanda Palmer’s set.

Neil Gaiman is an author with a wide-ranging body of work, including his novels Stardust, American Gods, and 2002’s Coraline, recently made into an animated film and nominated for a Golden Globe. He has previously collaborated with Amanda Palmer on her photo book, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

The world premiere broadcast of Statuesque will take place on Sky 1 at 10 p.m. on Christmas Day in the United Kingdom, as part of a larger commission of twelve silent shorts produced by Hilary Bevan Jones for Endor Productions for the "Twelve Days of Christmas." The musical score for Statuesque is by Sxip Shirey, who is also performing at Symphony Hall on December 31 at 8 p.m.

The 10 p.m. concert will feature Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra in the first-ever performance of Sxip Shirey’s "A Melody for Lizzie," for strings with live and digital bells (via laptop), which Shirey will play himself. The concert also features the world premiere of a new video by film artist Michael Pope. Filmed in Symphony Hall, it features live orchestra accompaniment to the Overture from Bjork's Selmasongs, inspired by the Iceland artist’s film Dancer in the Dark, and is a retelling of the fable of Father Time passing the torch to Baby New Year. Amanda Palmer will take the stage for the second half of the main stage performance, performing the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, material from her ground-breaking punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls, and songs from her recent solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, as well as several musical surprises.

This special New Year’s Eve celebration begins at 8 p.m. and features a wide variety of pre- and post-concert performances throughout the Hall, including Sxip Shirey and Adam Matta, April Smith and her band The Great Picture Show, Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade, the Coin-Operated Cabaret, and several roaming performers.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies and American Composers Orchestra announce new Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute

The Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University and American Composers Orchestra announce a new collaborative project: the Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute (JCOI). With generous support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, this program will provide instruction to jazz composers in working with the symphony orchestra, an area that many jazz composers wish to engage, but for which access to educational and performance opportunities are few. JCOI will take place in two stages: the Intensive and the Readings.

From July 20 to 24, 2010, up to 35 participants, selected from a national pool of applicants, will take part in the JCOI Intensive on the Columbia University campus, where they will work with prominent composers, performers, conductors, and music industry leaders in seminars, workshops and performance labs in orchestration, instrumentation, contemporary techniques, score preparation and ideas for incorporating improvisation within an orchestral framework. Professional development workshops will address promotion, publishing, copyright and commissioning agreements, and other career essentials.

The curriculum will be designed by a distinguished panel of composers, including Jane Ira Bloom, Anthony Davis, Fabien Lévy and Center for Jazz Studies Director George Lewis, all of whom will serve as instructors, along with composers Alvin Singleton, Derek Bermel, and Tania León. Students will receive live demonstrations of new instrumental techniques from a resident chamber ensemble, Wet Ink, known nationally for its performances of new music, and will observe rehearsals for two concerts at Columbia’s Miller Theatre, held during the Institute week, featuring works by composers working with improvisation.

Following the Intensive, participants will be invited to submit applications to participate in the JCOI Readings. Four to six promising participants from the Intensive will be selected to create new works for orchestra, and to work further with composers and conductors in developing and scoring those new works. The Readings will culminate with open rehearsals, readings and live performances by American Composers Orchestra of the new works at Miller Theatre at Columbia University, in June 2011.

This innovative program constitutes a new development in the jazz field. While many composers seek to engage with symphony orchestras, programs designed to provide such opportunities for jazz composers are virtually non-existent. The Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute will provide new resources for both jazz and classical music, promoting the emergence of new composers trained both in jazz and in new orchestral techniques who will point the way to a new kind of orchestral music for the 21st Century.

How to Apply: Submission Deadline Feb 5, 2010
Jazz Composers interested in expanding their engagement with the classical orchestra are eligible to apply, by reviewing eligibility guidelines, completing a submission form and supplying the work samples and related materials (see www.jazz.columbia.edu/JCOI/ for application details). SUBMISSION RECEIPT DEADLINE: Friday, February 5, 2010, 5:00PM (EST)

Monday, December 21, 2009

How We are Killing Classical Music

This is pretty much a constant topic on the internet today. Gred Sandow writes a blog "The Future of Classical Music" which is somewhat devoted to this topic. John Terauds writes on "Sound Mind" about what's happening to classical music. Brian Micklethwait writes for "Samizdata.net" raves about the death of classical music. The list goes on...

Amid the myriad reasons for the death, one continues to crop up - our youth are turning away from classical music, and for good reason; our youth and their enthusiasm for music are not wanted at classical music concerts.

I attended several concerts this weekend, but two are most prominent in terms of this topic. One concert was with Marin Alsop conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra with "Too Hot to Handel", an explosive fusion of classical and gospel music. Another concert was with the Boulder Chamber Orchestra and their "A Gift of Music." Both concerts were wonderful performances, but their approach to children in the audience couldn't have been more diverse.

Marin Alsop is a performer of the first magnitude. She understands more than just the music; she understands the "show" necessary for a stellar concert. You might think that her concert was Gospel so of course it was popular and more inclined toward signs of audience appreciation (hand clapping, cheers and general sounds of enthusiasm). Yes, that's true - but even when Alsop isn't conducting Gospel, she encourages applause and response from her audiences. A concert is a performance, after all. Much of the same "egging" the audience to respond were evident in her conducting of Shostakovich back in October. While the audience in October was certainly more staid, there was room for expression of appreciation during the performance - in many respects expected, even encouraged.

The audience giving into their emotions is nothing new at a Colorado Symphony Orchestra Concert. Numerous times this year the audience burst into rousing applause in-between movements, particularly when a soloist was outstanding. These signs of appreciation are the chance for the audience to let their emotions for the performance spill out and the performers to know they are appreciated.

I took my grandsons (ages 2 and 5) to a Boulder Chamber Orchestra Concert last night. The concerts are more intimate in nature so we could sit close to allow the boys a chance to really see the performers, to be "involved" with the music. The opening piece was a wonderful rendition of Rutter's Suite Antique for Strings, Flute and Harpsichord with Cobus du Toit on flute. If you've ever heard the piece, the "Ostinato" is a charming movement, so much so that my two year old grandson giggled with excitement. At the end of each movement he would also say (rather quietly) "done" showing his understanding the movement was finished. This was only audible because it came in-between movements. His same statement at the end of the piece was drowned out by the applause.

The next piece by the BCO was Vivaldi's In turbato mare irato with Soprano Bonnie Draina. Again, there was no vocalizations by either of the grandsons during the actual performance, but comments of "wow" or "ooh" after each movement was completed. The children were thoroughly engaged with the music and the performers throughout the first half of the program.

Unfortunately, a volunteer for the orchestra requested we move to the back row after the intermission to keep the children quiet. We did as requested. However, now the children were too far away to feel involved. They were still relatively quiet, but got bored. Needless to say they didn't enjoy the second half - and neither did I. This had nothing to do with the performance and everything to do with the attitude of our fellow audience members. They were killing the joy of the music in these wee boys - and that killed the joy of the music for me.

It's no wonder that our youth don't like to go to classical music concerts. At pop or rock concerts they are encouraged to scream and show their enthusiasm. However, classical music concerts are such solemn events, any joy of the music is quickly stifled in even the most avid youthful music lovers.

Yes, there is a point in teaching our youth to focus and appreciate the music - to actually listen to what is being performed. I agree talking and other noisy activities which are unrelated to the concert should be discouraged. However, my grandkids were focused on the music; they were involved with the performance. They simply wanted to express their emotional response to the music. This should be encouraged, not shoved into the back row or kept silent.

As we drove home from the concert both children spoke about what they enjoyed about the concert. The next day my five year old was still attempting to sing parts of the Vivaldi, he was so impressed by the vocalist, by the music. However, I doubt I'll take them back to the BCO. Obviously they are not wanted - even though they were passing out stickers to the children at the box office.

If you're a concert goer, or somehow involved with a classical music organization, think about the youth at your concerts. They are the future of the music. If you discourage their attendance, you are killing your own future existence. Perhaps your money is coming from your older audience members right now, but these people will eventually die and then who will you have?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

International Recording Debut of Alice Sara Ott, Available January 19, 2010 on Deutsche Grammophon

Ott performs the complete waltzes of Chopin

“The young pianist Alice Sara Ott . . . elicited one sleight of the hand after another from the instrument in breathtaking displays of virtuosity enhanced by a sparkle of poetic charm.” – Basler Zeitung, May 2008

Rising young piano virtuoso Alice Sara Ott makes her international recording debut on Deutsche Grammophon with the complete waltzes of Chopin, available January 19, 2010. “I feel a deep attachment to Chopin’s waltzes,” says Alice Sara Ott. “They reflect the whole arc of his composing life, and they also reflect his split personality – between Polish and French – and his lifelong search for identity. I feel split in a similar way, between Japanese and German. Only in music do I feel completely at home.”

Though still young, Ott’s commentary on the waltzes is often illuminating. Of the A flat waltz, op. 64 no. 3, Ott says, “I don’t take this one too fast. It needs to retain its waltz quality – these are salon pieces, and they must entertain in that style. Virtuosity would obscure the underlying melancholy and longing.” In her view, Alfred Cortot and Dinu Lipatti are the pianists who have come closest to that spirit. She is constantly striving to find “the true smell, the true color” of each one.

In a search for authenticity as well, Ott has chosen to play from the autograph manuscripts rather than the more popular published editions. She feels that this helps her maintain fidelity to Chopin’s intentions and aids in finding that unique smell and color for each.

Alice Sara Ott makes her US orchestral debut January 22 & 23, 2010 with Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.

eBay Holiday Auction to benefit City Of Hope

There are a few items available on eBay with proceeds to benefit City of Hope.

Autographed Elton John Live at Madison Square Garden DVD:

Autographed Bon Jovi guitar Pickguard:

Autographed The Fray “My First Piano”:

City of Hope, an innovative biomedical research, treatment and educational institution, is dedicated to the prevention and cure of cancer and other life-threatening diseases, guided by a compassionate patient-centered philosophy, and supported by a national foundation of humanitarian philanthropy.

Acclaimed Fauré Quartett returns to Deutsche Grammophon with their first recording of Brahms

The Fauré Quartett continues to add authoritative recordings to the chamber music catalog with their new recording of two Brahms quartets, available from Deutsche Grammophon on January 12, 2010. These large, some say symphonic, works test the limits of technical and musical capabilities, and the Fauré Quartett once again proves why they are one of the most acclaimed ensembles performing today.

Within a short period of time the Fauré Quartett has conquered the great concert halls of London , Paris , Berlin , Amsterdam , Brussels , Geneva , Hamburg , Frankfurt, Milan , Buenos Aires , Rio de Janeiro and elsewhere. “They attract superlatives wherever they go,” wrote The Strad following a concert at London ’s Wigmore Hall, while the Süddeutsche Zeitung praised them for a performance that “brought tremendous pleasure by highlighting interpretative details that had scarcely ever been heard before”.

The Fauré Quartett strives to achieve a unique sound for Brahms (as indeed for every work) because their guiding principle is one of depersonalizing themselves as individuals and trying to collectively step into the shoes of the composer. They cite an objective formulated by Sergiu Celibidache: “Where is the ‘interpretation’ in what we do? I do nothing but find out what the composer intended, for he experienced something and sought an appropriate form of shorthand to commit it to paper. We begin with that shorthand in order to arrive at what he experienced.”

These works are typically “Brahmsian” and are reputed to be brittle and full of melancholy as well as indicative of Brahms’ obsession with the symphonic ideal and his ability and tendency to compose “symphonic” chamber music. Indeed, Arnold Schoenberg took it upon himself to fully orchestrate the first quartet “in order to hear everything for once.” By stepping back and truly examining what Brahms was feeling emotionally and trying to achieve technically, the Fauré Quartett is able to bring their fresh and revitalizing interpretation to audiences both live and on record.

"Too Hot to Handel" Explodes with Enthusiam at Boettcher Hall in Denver

Last Night, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra presented their holiday tradition of “Too Hot to Handel”, a Gospel rendition of Handel’s Messiah. Conceived by Marin Alsop (pictured), CSO Composer Laureate, with colleagues Gary Anderson and Bob Christianson, the music takes the beautifully familiar music of George Frideric Handel and updates it with a mix of soul, jazz, gospel, Latin and bebop. And if that isn’t enough to entice you, Maestro Alsop conducted the piece with some of the finest gospel soloists in the industry.

From classical beginnings the music quickly shifts into a brilliant swing rhythm, and then becomes of fusion of the two – within the first couple of minutes letting the audience know just what an exciting evening they are in for. Thomas Young sang “Comfort Me” overtop some funky organ music. His stellar command of both classical and jazz vocal music was evidenced in his ability to switch from classical lines taken directly from the original Messiah to scat singing which nearly brought the audience to their feet in the middle of the first half of the concert.

Not to be out done, Vaneese Thomas added her versatile voice to “Thus Saith the Lord.” She reached the back of the house and into the depths of our souls with strong, yet subtle vocal work. This piece was followed up with “Who Shall Abide” giving Vaneese a chance to show off some smooth sultry jazz vocals. Cynthia Renée Saffron stepped into the Soprano role last night blowing away the audience with her power and flexibility. Displaying an amazing range with crystal clear highs and strong, honey-rich lows, Cynthia also ran the gamut of dynamics from powering out the back wall to whisper silent tenderness, yet still audible throughout the house. When she joined the choir in “For Unto Us” again the audience was nearly brought to their feet with excitement.

Throughout the concert there were numerous instrumental solos too. It began with some funky organ work, then a sizzling tenor sax solo, the trumpets were featured in “The Trumpet Shall Sound”, a trombone solo and several alto/soprano sax solos allowing the CSO musicians to shine. The CSO was also augmented by Clifford Carter on piano who was featured several times throughout the performance. At one point he had the vocal soloists practically dancing in their seats. Toward the very end Clint de Ganon was featured on the drum kit, pumping up the audience for the explosive Hallelujah chorus.

Marin Alsop led the augmented Colorado Symphony Orchestra with the finesse one can expect with the finest conductor in the US. But this was a pops concert!?! From the outset Maestro Alsop showed her command of the orchestra providing both entrance cues and emotional dimension to the music. Reaching up to communicate directly with the brass or percussionist, to getting down and dirty with the jazz ensemble positioned around the podium. Her work with the choir was amazing, offering not only how to phrase the music, but exactly when to come in and when to cut off – a critical element when trying to get nearly 200 voices to do Gospel right! Marin Alsop is also a showman of the first degree, keeping the orchestra vamping several times through the concert to allow for audience appreciation for soloists, while keeping the flow of the music moving. This was never more evident when she encouraged the audience to up the decibel level by a factor of 2 with a reprise of the ending of the Hallelujah chorus, giving the audience a chance to really show their enthusiasm for the performers. Maestro Alsop demonstrated not only her clear, concise command of the classical canon, but her in-depth understanding of modern genres of music; she can do it all.

The chorus, under the direction of Mary Louise Burke, did an outstanding job of popping the music in all the right places. One of the problems with converting classical choral music to gospel music is getting the accents right, and boy did they get them right. “Every Valley” was crisp and tightly wrapped around the beat, while the “Hallelujah!” showed their ability to jump the beat to give it the right drive and punch needed to bring the audience to their feet, clapping and cheering along with the music.

When it was over, the feeling in the concert hall was euphoria. The audience was ecstatic chatting away about the amazing performance they’d just seen and the performers were enthralled with a sense of energy, as if they would be willing to do it all over again – and they will, Tonight! Boettcher Concert Hall could do with a few more concerts like this!

A note about the music:
While I enjoyed the concert there were times I felt the arrangement of Handel's music didn't quite make it. Some of the themes fell flat, and some of the augmentation of the vocal rhythms pulled away from the intensity of the music, rather than added to it. But perhaps the most jarring was when quartet of voices was called for, but there was no bass soloist. A soloist was brought down from the choir, but not mentioned in the program - rather as if his part was an after thought. Unfortunate for both the performer and the audience as it didn't fit with the rest of the program.

However, that said where the music was right was in the using the styles of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Thad Jones and even some Antonio Carlos Jobim. It is a wonderful concert, well worth standing in line for a chance to get a ticket!

Anna Netrebko Sings Antonia/Stella in “The Met: Live In HD” Movie Theater Broadcast of Les Contes d’Hoffmann TODAY

Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher’s new production of Les contes d’Hoffmann, starring Anna Netrebko as Antonia, Kate Lindsey as Nicklausse, Alan Held as the four villains, Joseph Calleja in the title role, and conducted by James Levine, will be broadcast live to movie theaters around the world on December 19 at 1:00 pm EST, as part of the Metropolitan Opera’s “The Met: Live In HD” series. The new staging of Offenbach’s late masterpiece opened on December 3, and the Russian soprano’s portrayal of the innocent Antonia – as well as her short appearance as the prima donna Stella – received much acclaim. The New York Times wrote that she “was vocally lustrous, charismatic and wrenching as Antonia” and that she made a “captivating and tart Stella.” Further performances of Les contes d’Hoffmann at the Metropolitan Opera are on December 23, 26, 30 and January 2.

Four days after “The Met: Live in HD” broadcast of Hoffmann, PBS’s “Great Performances” presents the first American telecast of Robert Dornhelm’s feature film version of Puccini’s La Bohème, starring Anna Netrebko and tenor Rolando Villazón. La Bohème was shown in theaters in select markets across the country this fall, and this week Kultur International Films released a DVD of the film in the U.S. In anticipation of the telecast on December 23 at 9:00 pm (check local listings), “Great Performances” has posted on its web site a video interview with Anna Netrebko about the making of La Bohème. Click here to watch it.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cellist Johannes Moser Embarks on “Sounding Off: A Fresh Look at Classical Music”

“Johannes Moser is one of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists.”– Gramophone

On January 17, cellist Johannes Moser and his collaborator, the performance artist and toy pianist Phyllis Chen, embark on their first U.S. tour together: “Sounding Off: A Fresh Look at Classical Music”. The two will travel to six cities across America, bringing their fresh and original take on the creative process and concert experience to universities, schools, and community groups. Before each performance – featuring works ranging from classical to experimental – they will conduct a variety of educational outreach activities, designed to allow each city’s audience to find and develop its own unique identity. Moser and Chen begin their “Sounding Off” tour on January 17 in San Diego, CA, with further stops in San Francisco (Jan 19-20), Detroit (Jan 22), Malibu’s Pepperdine University (Jan 24), Boulder (Jan 27), and New York City (Feb 1).

For this bold audience development project, Moser has reached out to a broad range of community and campus organizations in each university town on the tour, from high school students in Detroit to marketing and business students at the University of California at Berkeley. Rather than performing in concert halls, he and Chen have elected to appear at alternative performance spaces, including bars, clubs, and galleries, with the tour culminating at (Le) Poisson Rouge, Manhattan’s leading venue for eclectic gigs. Playing on traditional and electric cello, and on traditional, prepared, and toy piano, Moser and Chen will present repertoire from both the classical canon and the cutting edge, to show how the latest trends in modern music can influence classical performance and presentation.

“Sounding Off” is a project tailored to engage and excite university students about contemporary classical music and performance. By contrast with the conventional concert format, each event will be somewhat open-ended. “My goal on this tour is to integrate the outreach activities and performances in a new way,” explains Moser. “Our hope is to create a sense of excitement and investment in our music-making through intimate and informal activities outside of a formal concert setting. The students will then enter the performance having a personal connection to the performers and a close connection to the artistic process.”

Johannes Moser has long been an advocate of music education and audience development during his travels around the world. He has been a frequent ambassador to schools, hospitals, and community groups, both through “Rhapsody in School”, which coordinates these activities throughout Europe, and by reaching out directly to community organizations. In the U.S., Moser has taken the initiative of contacting such organizations, and provides performances and demonstrations between his formal concert dates. “I started visiting hospitals, schools, retirement homes, and hospices when I was 19 years old. Until then, playing concerts had been something fun but rather abstract to me,” Moser explains. “The more I played in these environments, the more I learned that music can make a real difference in people’s lives, including mine. Performing these activities on a regular basis has changed the way I think about making music.”

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Appoints New ConcertMaster

Music Director Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra today announced the appointment of violinist David Coucheron as ASO Concertmaster, effective September 2010. Mr. Coucheron’s chair is endowed by Mr. and Mrs. Howard R. Peevy. He succeeds Cecylia Arzewski, who completed her tenure with the Atlanta Symphony at the end of the 2007-08 season. Originally from Oslo , Norway , Mr. Coucheron began playing violin at the age of three. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree from The Curtis Institute of Music, his Master of Music from The Juilliard School, and his Master of Musical Performance from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying with teachers including Igor Ozim, Aaron Rosand, Lewis Kaplan, and David Takeno Mr. Coucheron has worked with conductors such as Robert Spano, Alan Gilbert, Michael Tilson Thomas, Simon Rattle, Mstislav Rostropovich, David Zinman, Roger Norrington, Simone Young, and Charles Dutoit, and performed as a soloist with orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra (Maxim Vengerov conducting), the Sendai Symphony Orchestra, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. He has played solo recitals at the Oslo Chamber Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall ( London ), the Kennedy Center , the Olympic Winter Games ( Salt Lake City , Utah ), as well as in Beograd , Serbia , and Shanghai , China . Mr. Coucheron’s chamber music performances have included appearances at Suntory Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Oslo Chamber Music Festival, and Alice Tully Hall. His recordings with sister, and pianist, Julie Coucheron, include “David and Julie” (Naxos/Mudi), and “Debut” ( Naxos ). Some of his awards and recognitions are first prize at the Concorso Internazionale di Musica “Citta di Pinerolo” Competition in 2009 ( Turin , Italy ), first prize at The Princess Astrid Competition in 2002 ( Trondheim , Norway ), and Third Prize at the Manchester International Violin Competition in 2005 ( Manchester , U.K. ). Mr. Coucheron plays a 1725 Stradivarius.

“Mr. Coucheron impressed us all through this long and detailed search process. It is very exciting to have such a vital and dynamic talent join us. We eagerly anticipate welcoming him to Atlanta." Music Director Robert Spano

“I am so excited to work with the warm, wonderful, and talented musicians of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. I am especially anticipating collaborations with Music Director Robert Spano and Principal Guest Conductor Donald Runnicles — they are both so inspiring, and always bring out the very best in this Orchestra. Although it is early in my career, I recognize the responsibilities that come with this position. I am thrilled to be here, and I look forward to heightening the musicianship of this great Orchestra so that we continue to offer the very best musical experience for our audience." - David Coucheron

“I am just delighted for David. David worked with me for five years at The Curtis Institute — he is a gifted and thorough musician, and resonates qualities of leadership, presence, and a very gentle character with a wonderful demeanor. I think David is the ideal person for this position, and I know the ASO’s audience will love him.” - violinist and teacher Aaron Rosand

Writing for Ensembles is Different than writing for Large Forces

While at University I have been asked (encouraged) to write a number of small works for ensembles. There are multiple reasons for this: ensembles are easier to organize performances therefore easier to get compositions heard (which is incredibly important), small chamber works are easier to see the context and flow of the music (so as a composition tutor you're not having to sort through a huge score to see the progress of the music), and fewer instruments means less actual composition for the student. All of these are valid reasons and worthy of continuing this process of composition education at the university level. However, writing a chamber work is not the same as writing for an orchestra or large ensemble (more than 15 instruments).

When studying to be a writer, whether you want to be a novelist, poet, journalist or other there are a variety of writing classes you can take. Each of these styles requires a very different process when writing for the different genres. While writing poetry might hone the use of compact language usage, unless you're writing an epic poem (not something typically expected in a writing course) you're not going to approach the work the same way you would a novel or an academic article. The process is different. The same is true when composing a solo work verses a chamber piece verses an orchestral suite.

Even if the music is approximately the same duration, there is a different approach to how the music written on the page. Ferneyhough is great example of this. His solo flute works are beyond intensive for a single person to grasp, with as much information for the one instrument as there might be in an entire orchestral work - but the information is entirely focused for one player, one instrument. His string quartets have less information for each individual performer, as the nuances of all the additional information of the solo work would be lost in a chamber work. Large ensemble works are even less intense and detailed in terms of what each person is expected to grasp note for note - while the over all work is in many ways more complex than the solo or chamber pieces.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of encouragement of large ensemble writing while at the university level. What this means is most composers have to learn this on their own either while studying at university (which is what I'm attempting to do) or afterwords when they have little access to support and guidance. The difficulty is we are not teaching our "youth" to compose for large forces and therefore creating a void in the art form.

Established film composers create stables of young composers to help with the work. Philip Glass comments that his stable does a variety of jobs from orchestration his works to working on their own pieces, which Glass then goes over. This sort of mentoring is wonderful but is very specific to the tasks Glass has on his plate. While it has created composers like Nico Muhly, these stables are not generally available; you have to know someone to be selected.

There are a fair number of orchestral call for scores every year. Which means there are numerous opportunities for young composers to submit their scores. But, if there is not someone guiding them on how to create a quality score - the nuances of what a clean score looks like - the chances of them winning any of these competitions is drastically lowered.

I've heard the comment, "If you want to know how to write a good score look at the examples of the great composers." This is a valid statement, but again, without guidance we are expecting our young composers to know what they are looking for and how to translate that to their own music. Beyond this, access to orchestral scores writing in the last 10 years are difficult at best and can be very expensive to obtain (they aren't available at your local library!). So, while it is possible to learn from what Beethoven, Mahler and Shostakovich have done, what about the masters of today? - Williams, Adams, Glass, Carter???

One problem with writing for large ensembles is getting them performed. This is still problematic for many university programs. A university orchestra has enough work to do just getting ready for their various performances. Even just reading student works takes time - never mind creating all the parts (but this is part of the process a student composer needs to learn). Edinburgh University has an orchestra which accepts student compositions for readings and is a boon for composers in the area. The Lamont School of Music gives their orchestration students a chance to hear a reading of a two minute orchestral work and the orchestra does a student composition call for scores each year. These are two examples I am familiar with in terms of promoting orchestral writing. But even in these environments compositional tutoring focuses on small ensembles rather than large.

What I am suggesting is that orchestral directors consider opening up their ensembles to allowing for more student works; amateur orchestras should consider doing the same. Composition tutors should consider including a large work as part of their "requirements" for student compositions - maybe not every years in the undergraduate years, but certainly one large ensemble work over the four years. Then an in-depth examination as to what works and what doesn't in the large work.

Small works are not the same as large works. We spend a lot of time focused on the small stuff, and not enough on the large stuff - in my humble opinion!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Curtis Institute of Music Celebrates Centenary of Samuel Barber (’34) with New Production of Antony and Cleopatra

A principal theme of the world-renowned Curtis Institute of Music’s performance season is the 100th birthday of composer Samuel Barber (’34), one of the school’s most illustrious alumni. Events center around the Barber anniversary in March 2010, with Curtis 20/21, the school’s contemporary music ensemble, performing an all-Barber program on the composer’s 100th birthday, March 9. Later that month, the Curtis Opera Theatre presents Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra at the Perelman Theater in Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, in a new production directed by Chas Rader-Shieber and conducted by George Manahan. Curtis On Tour marks the centenary with performances of Barber’s String Quartet No. 1, the source of the famous Adagio for Strings, in New York and nationwide in February and March.

The Curtis Symphony Orchestra performs Barber’s Symphony No. 1 under conductor Giancarlo Guerrero at Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall on April 24. Curtis alumni will also join the centennial celebrations, giving two special recitals at the school’s Field Concert Hall in January and March; and Curtis student recitals from January through May also feature works by the celebrated alumnus.

One of the most important American composers of the last century, Samuel Barber (1910-81) made distinguished contributions to the orchestral, choral, operatic, piano and chamber music repertories. His Adagio for Strings is widely considered a modern masterpiece. Barber came from a musical family, and was among the first students to enter the Curtis Institute of Music when it opened in 1924. Studying composition with Rosario Scalero and piano with the renowned Isabelle Vengerova, he added a third major, voice, in 1926. It was while studying at Curtis that he met his future collaborator and life-partner, opera composer and librettist Gian Carlo Menotti (’33).

Even before his graduation from Curtis in 1934, Barber’s works were premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy. The composer soon established himself within America’s classical community, winning the favor of such important artists as Koussevitzky and Horowitz.

While espousing no one school or style, Barber has sometimes been labeled “neo-Romantic.” His work is essentially tonal, and yet too dissonant and experimental to be considered anything but modern. His numerous honors include two Pulitzer Prizes, the Rome Prize, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

On the 100th anniversary of Barber’s birth, March 9, 2010, Curtis 20/21 – the school’s contemporary music ensemble, dedicated to the music of the 20th and 21st centuries – presents a celebratory program in Field Concert Hall. Curtis 20/21 will perform vocal and chamber works by Barber, and Barber-inspired works by Curtis alumnus Jonathan Holland (’96) and current student Christopher Rogerson. Two days earlier, the same concert will be performed in Barber’s hometown, West Chester, PA, at his family church, the First Presbyterian Church; and on March 15, Curtis 20/21 takes the celebratory program to the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Also in March, the Curtis Opera Theatre will present Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra at the Perelman Theater at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. This new production is directed by Chas Rader-Shieber, described as “a force to be reckoned with in the opera world” (Toronto’s Classical 96.3 FM). Presented in association with Kimmel Center Presents and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the production features a cast of Curtis opera and voice students with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra under George Manahan. The opera was first performed in New York City in 1966, at the grand opening of the new Metropolitan Opera House, and then substantially revised eight years later, with the help of Menotti. Writing in the New York Times in 1984, Tim Page reported that “Barber always felt that Antony and Cleopatra was his finest work.” After Manahan conducted a performance of the opera at Carnegie Hall this past January, the New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini praised “the fervent and sensitive performance that Mr. Manahan presided over,” and described the work itself:

“Barber’s score is rich with restless chromatic harmony, arching melodic outpourings, lush orchestration, percussive flourishes to evoke the conquering Romans, and reedy, harmonically astringent writing to conjure up Egyptian exotica. …[I]n recent decades plenty of safely conventional, neo-Romantic new operas have been produced that showed nothing like the intelligence and ingenuity of this Barber work.”

Curtis On Tour, which continues to bring the extraordinary artistry of the Curtis Institute to audiences nationwide and abroad, marks the centenary with performances of Barber’s String Quartet No. 1 (1936), whose slow movement is the source of his popular Adagio for Strings. Violinist Ida Kavafian and cellist Peter Wiley (’74), both Curtis faculty members, appear with Curtis students on the 2009-10 tour, which includes a special New York appearance on March 10 at the Allen Room in Frederick P. Rose Hall, home of Jazz at Lincoln Center. One of New York’s most spectacular venues, this lovely setting overlooks Central Park South. Its superb acoustic will beautifully complement a program that presents the Barber quartet alongside Dvorák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 and world premieres of new works commissioned from two current composition students at Curtis: Christopher Rogerson and Daniel Shapiro. In addition to the New York performance, stops on the tour include Detroit, MI; Davis, CA; Seattle, WA; Rockport, ME; and Highland Park, IL.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Too Hot to Handel - The Gospel Messiah NEARLY SOLD OUT!!! in Denver

If you have tickets for weekend and your plans have changed, please call CSO Box Office 303.623.7876 to exchange your tickets so we may release your seats for sale to other patrons.

It's classical meets gospel. It's Handel meets the groove factor – however you describe it, Too Hot to Handel is a Colorado tradition, the likes of which only Conductor Laureate Marin Alsop could bring.

Dec 18-19 · 7:30 p.m.
Marin Alsop, conductor laureate
Lillias White, soprano | Vaneese Thomas, mezzo-soprano
Thomas Young, tenor | CSO Chorus | Guest Choirs

Cypress String Quartet 11th Annual Call & Response Concert

Featuring the world premiere of a new string quartet based on Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto by composer Elena Ruehr

San Francisco, CA – The Cypress String Quartet (Cecily Ward, violin; Tom Stone, violin; Ethan Filner, viola; and Jennifer Kloetzel, cello) presents its 11th Annual Call & Response concert on Friday, February 26 at Herbst Theatre (401 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco). The concert includes the world premiere of a string quartet based on Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto, commissioned by the Cypress Quartet from Boston-based composer Elena Ruehr, as well as Mozart’s String Quartet in D Major, K.575 and Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor, “Death and the Maiden.” A pre-concert talk with Ms. Ruehr will begin at 7:15pm. Additional performances and discussions with the Cypress and Ms. Ruehr, free and open to the public, take place beginning on January 26.

The Call & Response program was born out of the Cypress’s commitment to present music as a dynamic and ongoing process of inspiration. Each year, the ensemble selects two works from the standard string quartet repertoire (the call) and commissions a third work (the response) based on inspiration derived from the two older works, exploring how contemporary music is a natural evolution of older works. For Call & Response 2010, instead of drawing inspiration solely from music, the Cypress examines how literature has influenced and inspired music through Elena Ruehr’s new work based on the novel Bel Canto.

“When the Cypress asked me to write a new quartet for them, they told me they were programming it with Schubert's ‘Death and the Maiden’ and wanted me to write a quartet that, like Schubert's, was based on a song, poem or piece of literature. I had read Bel Canto by Ann Patchett when it was published about 10 years ago and was immediately drawn in. Since it depicts the drama of opera – the main character is an opera singer and the plot involves a copious amount of music and music-making – I had it in mind ever since as a possible inspirational source. The Cypress knows that I always travel with a big novel, and in fact, I read for at least an hour every day – it's one of my great pleasures. This string quartet, the Bel Canto, combines my greatest loves: the modern novel, gorgeous songs from the 19th and 20th centuries, and my favorite string quartet, the Cypress.” - Elena Ruehr

For the 2010 Call & Response concert, Ms. Ruehr’s Bel Canto will be paired with older masterpieces also inspired by literature: Mozart's String Quartet in D Major K. 575 which drew inspiration from Goethe's poem “The Violet,” and Schubert's “Death and the Maiden” string quartet, which was inspired by a poem by German poet, Matthias Claudius.

Over just a decade, the Cypress String Quartet has commissioned and premiered more than 30 new works, four of which are now included on Chamber Music America’s list of 101 Great American Ensemble Works.

Known for their elegant performances, the Cypress’s sound has been called “beautifully proportioned and powerful” by The Washington Post, and the ensemble has been singled out by Chamber Music Magazine as “a Generation X ensemble to watch.”

Concert Details:
Friday, February 26, 2010 at 8pm
San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, Herbst Theatre
401 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA

Tickets: $20-$40 Adults / $10-$20 Students & Seniors at www.cityboxoffice.com or 415.392.4400

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Metropolitan Opera Season Launches with Puccini's Il Trittico on Colorado Public Radio

Saturday morning live broadcasts run Dec. 12 – May 8

Colorado Public Radio (CPR) will kick off the 79th Metropolitan Opera season this Saturday with a live broadcast of Puccini's Il Trittico at 10:30 a.m., starring Patricia Racette and Stephanie Blythe, conducted by Stefano Ranzani.

“The Met Opera's Saturday broadcasts are the longest-running continuous classical program in radio history. So many people tell me that they grew up listening to the Met on Saturday afternoons, and every year it seems to get better and better,” - CPR Classical Music Program Director Karla Walker

CPR will air twenty-two broadcasts this season, from Dec. 12, 2009 through May 8, 2010. Margaret Juntwait returns as the series’ host for her sixth season, joined by commentator Ira Siff.

“We're delighted to be able to bring the Met to Colorado audiences every Saturday – for those who have been listening for years and those who are just discovering the thrill of live opera,” Karla Walker

To see a full CPR broadcast schedule, visit www.kvod.org, or for more information, visit www.operainfo.org.

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols by the Choir of king's College, Cambridge 2-CD set availble from EMI Classics

Perfect Christmas CD recorded live in 2008

This new, live, complete recording of the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols from Christmas Eve, 2008 includes traditional hymns, modern carols, old favorites, and new voices, all combining to convey the experience, both comforting and transcendent, of a service known and loved around the world. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is broadcast live on the radio worldwide every year and the release of this two-CD set coincides with the celebration of the University of Cambridge’s 800th anniversary and also with the frontline King’s Christmas release of the DVD-version of Handel’s Messiah.

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge is the world’s most famous choir and one of today’s most accomplished and renowned representatives of the great British choral tradition. The choir dates back to the 1400s and consists of 16 choristers and 14 choral scholars. Its international reputation, established by the radio broadcast worldwide of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols each Christmas Eve, has been consolidated by regular international tours and by the critical and commercial success of its EMI Classics releases.

Alfred Brendel's Last New Release Captures his Final Public Performances in Recital and Concert

Decca Releases the Souvenier, 2-CD Set of Brendel's Final Concerts, Recored Live, Available January 19, 2010

2008 marked the 60th anniversary of Alfred Brendel’s professional debut and he chose that year in which to retire from public performance. Brendel’s exclusive association with Universal Music (originally with Philips and now Decca) since the 1970s ensured that Decca would be on hand to document these momentous concerts and preserve a living legend of the piano in his final public performances. The 2-CD souvenir set is available now exclusively from ArkivMusic.com and will be available everywhere on January 19, 2010.

Recorded live in Hanover , Brendel's farewell recital (December 14, 2008) featured composers with whom he was most closely associated throughout his career with a set of variations by Haydn and sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Just a few days later, on December 18, he appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic and Sir Charles Mackerras in his last public performance with a concerto by Mozart. It is fitting that this performance was in Vienna 's beautiful Musikverein with the Vienna Philharmonic, an orchestra with whom he enjoyed a long and fruitful collaboration. The concert also marked the end of the exceptional partnership between pianist and conductor.

The booklet includes Brendel’s notes on the recital and repertoire as well as touching tributes from Mackerras and Prof. Dr. Clemens Hellsberg of the Vienna Philharmonic in addition to Brendel’s own personal note for the listener. After countless concerts and recordings these final two CDs are but a small tribute to a man who has given so much to music and art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

From the early years when he taught himself to play the piano, through his debut recital in 1948 (which coincided with a one-man exhibition of his water colors) and complete cycles of Beethoven Sonatas and Mozart Concertos (along with volumes of collected essays and poetry), Brendel has maintained an intellectual curiosity and musical vitality which few can attain. He has received numerable awards and was made an honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic in 1998. Though the public performances have ended, his influence will remain.

Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra Present “An American Biography: The Music of Henry Cowell”

January 29th Program includes the New York Premiere of the Pioneering Composer’s Ballet Score Atlantis and the New York City Premiere of His Symphony No. 11 (“Seven Rituals of Music”), plus His Concerto for Harmonica and Orchestra and More

Henry Cowell was an American original – as composer, pianist, theorist, author, and teacher. He helped to create a modernist American music not derivative of Europe, a music that tapped homegrown sounds even as it embraced influences from Asia. Yet during Cowell’s lifetime and after, his compositions have lived in the shadows, for reasons that often have little to do with the music. Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra will help shine a light on this pioneering composer’s creations with “An American Biography: The Music of Henry Cowell” on Friday, January 29 at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall (all tickets are just $25 each). The program includes local premieres of two of Cowell’s works.

Cowell’s influence is in the DNA of the 20th-century avant-garde, with his experiments in rhythm and texture the seed for works by such composers as Bela Bartók, Conlon Nancarrow and Elliott Carter. Cowell was the first biographer of Charles Ives and a mentor to composers as diverse as George Gershwin and John Cage, who called Cowell “the open sesame of new music in America.”

“Although Cowell’s place in the history books is secure, he and his music are not `in the air’. He was probably the most courageous American composer of the 20th century, with his daring techniques and desire to build bridges between Western music and what we now call `world music.’ He was an original thinker – an iconoclast. But Cowell is the sort of figure Americans talk about liking but don’t, actually. We celebrate the idea of American originals, but when we meet them, we tend to put them in jail.” - Leon Botstein

Henry Cowell (1897-1965) was born in Menlo Park, California, to a family of philosophical anarchists. He began composing at age 10 and went on to study at the University of California-Berkeley with Charles Seeger, one of the great father figures of American music. By his early 20s, Cowell had penned the groundbreaking theory book New Musical Resource. He composed works full of tone clusters that he played with his forearm on the piano (a technique that Bartók asked permission to use), and he further expanded pianistic possibilities by strumming and plucking the strings inside the instrument. Cowell composed rhythms so complex that he considered them unplayable by humans, so he had Leon Theremin build him a futurist instrument called the Rhythmicon. Cowell organized the Pan-American Association of Composers (alongside Edgard Varèse and Carlos Chávez), and he toured Europe as a pianist, interacting with the likes of Schoenberg. Cowell learned how to play several Asian instruments, including the Japanese shakuhachi flute – for which he wrote the first piece by an American. He said, “I want to live in the whole world of music.”

All tickets to the ASO’s Lincoln Center concerts are just $25 and are available by calling (212) 868-9276 (9ASO) or visiting www.americansymphony.org. All ticket sales are final.

Powerhouse Pianist Yefim Bronfman Is Soloist on Alan Gilbert’s First European Tour as Music Director with New York Philharmonic

Grammy Award-Winning Bronfman Scores New Grammy Nomination for Salonen Concerto CD

“It’s safe to say there is no pianist around remotely like Yefim Bronfman.”– Philadelphia Inquirer

Grammy Award-winning pianist Yefim “Fima” Bronfman has a full winter ahead, featuring high-profile engagements with some of the nation’s leading conductors and orchestras, in some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls. Having been selected as soloist for “Europe / Winter 2010”, the New York Philharmonic’s first European tour since Alan Gilbert took the reins as music director, the powerhouse pianist will perform Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto in nine European cities, including London, Paris, Zurich, Cologne, Madrid, and Barcelona (Jan 21 – Feb 4), and as part of an all-Russian program at the orchestra’s home in New York, early in the New Year (Lincoln Center, Jan 7, 8, & 12). Fima also performs Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Zubin Mehta and the Los Angeles Philharmonic this week (Dec 10-13) and Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Michael Tilson Thomas and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra later in the season (Feb 10-13). Meanwhile, outside the concert hall, the pianist has just been honored with a Grammy nomination for his recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto with the composer conducting.

The Russian-born pianist’s predilection for Prokofiev’s music is no secret; the Los Angeles Times describes the composer as “a Bronfman specialty”, while the New York Times credits Fima’s “sizzling technique” with making him “a particularly eloquent Prokofiev pianist.” Audiences on both sides of the Atlantic will have the opportunity to hear Bronfman in this signature repertoire when he performs Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, first on three nights at Avery Fisher Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center, coupled with Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony (Jan 7, 8, & 12), and then on tour in Europe. It is a particular honor for Bronfman to have been selected as soloist for this tour, “Europe / Winter 2010”, which is Gilbert’s first since his inauguration as music director of the orchestra. “Europe / Winter 2010” will comprise 13 performances in major venues in nine European cities: London, Paris, Frankfurt, Cologne, Dortmund, Zurich, Barcelona, Saragossa, and Madrid (see tour dates below). “Yefim Bronfman, one of today’s greatest pianists, will enrich this musical journey with Prokofiev’s Second Piano Concerto,” said Gilbert when interviewed. Zarin Mehta, President of the New York Philharmonic (and brother of Zubin), reported how pleased the orchestra was to be joined by the pianist, who he described as “an almost annual guest with the orchestra at home in New York.”

Besides his appearances with the New York Philharmonic, Bronfman has two other key orchestral engagements this winter. In February, he joins the Chicago Symphony to perform Brahms’s First Piano Concerto under Michael Tilson Thomas (Feb 10-13). When Tilson Thomas directed Fima at the 2007 Edinburgh Festival, critic Mary Robb reported: “The Tilson Thomas-Bronfman partnership was spontaneous, dramatic, and secure, and created a wild, virtuosic ending.” Bronfman’s Brahms interpretations are also justly celebrated; when he performed the composer’s Second Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra this past October, MusicalCriticism.com observed:

>“It takes formidable musicianship to grab an audience’s full attention with an entry as understated as this: Yefim Bronfman is the embodiment of such musicianship. In an age of dizzying demand for new young prodigies, it is pianists like Bronfman who set the standard for any newcomer to achieve. His truly flawless technique is a means to something of a protean quality in his music-making.”

Two months before his appearances in Chicago, Bronfman performs Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta (Dec 10-13). The pianist’s association with Mehta goes back many years, from his international debut at 17 to this year’s Lucerne Festival. Likewise Bronfman’s relationship with Bartók is longstanding and it was his album of the three concertos – described as “the recording of Bartók’s piano concertos the world has been waiting for” (Leslie Gerber) – that won him a Grammy back in 1997, also with the L.A. Philharmonic.

This year’s Grammy nominations were announced last week and Bronfman won the nod in the Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra) category, for his recording of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Piano Concerto with the composer conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The recording, released in April on the Deutsche Grammophon label, is a fitting document of the close 20-year friendship between the pianist and the composer/conductor whom the Chicago Sun-Times once characterized as “soulmates”. Bronfman describes Salonen’s composition as “one of the great piano concertos of today,” and, according to the New York Times CD review, Fima “plays the fiendishly difficult piano part with stunning virtuosity.” The Grammy Award Fima won twelve years ago for his Bartók record was in the same category, also with Salonen at the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. With luck, the combination will prove to be a winning one this time around, too!

Broadway Star Linda Eder to Perform Judy Garland Songbook with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Jan. 28-31

BSO SuperPops Conductor Jack Everly leads Linda Eder and the BSO in “Almost Like Being in Love,” “Over the Rainbow” and other favorites

BSO Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly, internationally-acclaimed Broadway star Linda Eder and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform a special tribute to the Judy Garland songbook on Thursday, January 28 through Saturday, January 30 at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, January 31 at 3 p.m. Thursday’s performance will take place at The Music Center at Strathmore, and the other three performances will be held at Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Winner of the Drama Desk Award in 1996, Linda Eder will perform memorable hits from the Judy Garland songbook, including “Almost Like Being in Love,” “It Never Was You,” “By Myself,” “The Trolley Song” and “Over the Rainbow.”

Judy Garland was an Academy Award-winning American vocalist and actress. As a child, she performed the Vaudeville circuit, and later was signed by film producer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Garland is most famous for her role as Dorothy in the classic The Wizard of Oz (1939). It was in this role that Garland sang the beloved “Over the Rainbow,” one of the most popular songs in the American songbook. In 1997, she was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Linda Eder is an American vocalist and actress who grew up in Brainerd, Minnesota. As a vocalist, she has performed to sold-out audiences in venues across the nation, including Carnegie Hall. Eder’s concerts have been broadcasted on Bravo and PBS and she has nine solo albums, with a tenth in the works.

BSO SuperPops: Linda Eder’s Judy Garland Songbook

Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—The Music Center at Strathmore
Friday, January 29, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Saturday, January 30, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Sunday, January 31, 2010 at 3:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Tickets for these performances range from $28 to $80 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Teaching Composition – What are we trying to achieve

In the process of learning composition I have spent time with a number of instructors who have encouraged me to write twelve-tone, pitch-class, electro-acoustic and other forms of experimental techniques. No matter how much I might understand and appreciate the work of other composers in the genres, these are not forms of music I resonate with. They are simply not forms of music I listen to and I struggle with the idea of writing them.

However, in a Master Class by Libby Larsen she made the comment, “Learn them all, because all forms of music have something to offer.” This I very much agree. There are elements of each of the above mentioned forms (and others) that I do resonate with. Berg’s Violin Concerto is a beautiful twelve-tone work, although it is possible to look at numerous sections of the music with a “tonal” analysis.

Another composer friend, Gary Bachlund commented that using these techniques can narrow the choices for how to compose a piece of work. If you look at the complete list of notes available (not even considering microtonality), all the various instruments, rhythm potentials, etc. you’ll go crazy trying to write something. By selecting a form with which to narrow the compositional focus, it makes it possible to actually create a set work.

What I do feel classical composition is missing is the use of modern art forms and study. Why do we study pitch-class composition and not jazz? The exploitation of “cluster” chords in jazz is extremely similar, and in many ways builds on the structures of previous compositional techniques (creating new names for chords which are already established). While jazz may not expect the detailed rhythmic writing of say new complexity, harmonically and stylistically it is very intellectual.

How about Hip Hop or Rap? Libby spoke about not being a “rap” artist herself, but thrilling with the exploration of the intricate rhythm structures in the music. Shouldn’t young composers be examining the music of their own generation to find what makes it tick and how to incorporate these elements into classical forms? Philip Glass speaks of the rock influence in his early music. Steve Reich has numerous pieces which have “pop” like elements. John Adams is the same. These are huge names in the classical world and they are incorporating contemporary music elements, but wouldn’t be able to do so if they didn’t first have a grasp of the art form.

Perhaps we don’t study contemporary “pop” forms of music because our classical educators don’t understand “pop” music. They have been steeped in the line of thought from serialism through post-modernism, without having the benefit of “pop” training. Unfortunately, when they continue to educate new composers without this benefit, we only continue to create composers without a connection to modern commercial music. It is possible to create “new” music and still be marketable. It is possible to advance the sonic world without losing sight of the fact that music needs an audience.

Two of the largest audiences for composed music are in Film and Video Games, yet composition for these art forms is rarely taught and then mostly under the ‘Pop’ strand of a given program. So, when it comes to classical music composition, are we simply training the next generation of educators? If there is no understanding of how to write commercial music, then the chances of a composer actually making a living with the musical education (outside of being an educator) is extremely limited.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Trumpet Concerto reworked and fine tuned

I've been working with Peter Auricchio on fixing some of the playability problems in the 3rd movement of my trumpet concerto. We settled on having him begin the piece on the B-flat trumpet to give a richness to the opening - then move to the piccolo trumpet to allow for some soaring moments. The movement returns to the B-flat trumpet to round out the piece and give the melodic line warmth.

Here is a midi realization:

The piece is destined to be performed by Mr Auricchio with the Niwot Symphony Orchestra for their 2010-11 season, although a final date hasn't been set. I'll keep you posted.

Baltimore Philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker Donate $1 Million to Support Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids Program

OrchKids continues to expand and thrive in second year

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, in partnership with the Baltimore City Public Schools, announced today that Baltimore philanthropists Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker will make a leadership gift of $1 million to the BSO’s music education and life-enrichment program, OrchKids. This gift provides essential seed capital to support 50% of the OrchKids’ incremental expenses as it expands over the next four academic years (years 2-5 of the program). These expenses include hiring additional instructors, purchasing supplies and instruments and adding one full-time administrative position to oversee the program as it grows to more than 300 students over the next four years. A press conference announcing the gift took place today at 10:00 a.m. at Lockerman Bundy Elementary School.

Inspired by BSO Music Director Marin Alsop’s artistic leadership and community vision, OrchKids is a year-round after-school program that provides music education, instruments, tutoring and mentorship to youth in Baltimore City at no cost to participants or the school. Launched in Fall 2008, the program served 30 first-grade students from Harriett Tubman Elementary School in its pilot year (2008-2009). The school's closure at the end of the school year brought the program and the majority of the students enrolled in the program to OrchKids’ new home, Lockerman Bundy Elementary School, also located in West Baltimore. In its second year, the program has grown to serve more than 150 pre-K through second grade students, both during the school day two days each week and after-school four days a week.

“I have, for many years, been interested in providing educational opportunities to the underserved population. The Meyerhoff Scholar Program at UMBC provides the opportunity to study and earn advanced degrees in Math and Science. The OrchKids project is focused on this same population in the beginning of their educational life. We’re hoping to make a big difference there so that they can learn skills such as working with a team to produce something so beautiful and joyous as music. Rheda’s longstanding relationship with the BSO and her interest in education makes us the happiest of partners in the OrchKids program.” - Robert E. Meyerhoff

Robert E. Meyerhoff and Rheda Becker have been involved in OrchKids since its early planning stages. They were among several community members who stepped forward to match Marin Alsop’s initial founding contribution of $100,000.

“The growth of the OrchKids program would not be possible without this visionary gift from Bob and Rheda.It is a huge vote of confidence in the remarkable progress already shown by the young students, whom they have come to know and love. Their gift, covering approximately 50% of the cost of the program over the next four years, will hopefully inspire others to help make a real difference in these children’s lives.“ - BSO President & CEO Paul Meecham

Lockerman Bundy Principal Cynthia Cunningham said, “In the few months that OrchKids has called our school home, I have seen measurable progress in the students enrolled in the program. Children who previously struggled to complete assignments on time are now leading their classes academically. Some of the same students who were often sent to my office for behavioral issues have become a delight to their teachers. They exude a new sense of pride. OrchKids’ members are thriving.”

About OrchKids
OrchKids is a year-round after-school program designed to create social change and nurture promising futures for youth in Baltimore City neighborhoods. Under Music Director Marin Alsop’s artistic leadership and direction, OrchKids is a cornerstone of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s efforts to expand the Orchestra’s relevance within the City’s broad and diverse community. In collaboration with several community partners, OrchKids provides music education, instruments and mentorship at no cost to Baltimore’s neediest youngsters. The program is inspired by Venezuela’s El Sistema, the music program that in 30 years has transformed the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in that country’s most impoverished areas. Like El Sistema, OrchKids is intended primarily to address the most pervasive social challenges affecting underserved youth, using music to cultivate fundamental life skills such as self-expression, cooperative learning, discipline and creativity. With assistance from The Family League of Baltimore City, the BSO has implemented several assessment tools to track if OrchKids participants are achieving social, academic and musical outcomes.

For the 2009-2010 school year, OrchKids serves more than 150 pre-K through second grade students at Lockerman Bundy Elementary School in West Baltimore. Under OrchKids Program Manager Dan Trahey, students receive classroom music instruction during the school day twice weekly and in after-school sessions four days a week from 3:30-6:00 p.m. A typical after-school session begins with a healthy snack and includes classroom music instruction, group instrument lessons and tutoring assistance. OrchKids frequently have the opportunity to take field trips to local organizations and attend Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Deborah Voigt Returns to Metropolitan Opera as Chrysothemis in Richard Strauss’s Elektra on Dec 10-29

Voigt Also Hosts Met’s “Live in HD” Broadcast of New Tales of Hoffman Production to Theaters Worldwide on December 19

On Thursday, December 10, internationally-renowned soprano Deborah Voigt returns to her home company, the Metropolitan Opera, for the first time this season, and in a signature role, as Chrysothemis in Richard Strauss’s spine-chilling Elektra (six performances through Dec 29). An engaging entertainer and conversationalist, Deborah Voigt has also developed a following as host of “The Met: Live in HD” (besides portraying Isolde in Tristan und Isolde during the transmissions’ first season). On Saturday, December 19 she is to serve as host of the international transmission of Offenbach’s Contes d’Hoffmann (Tales of Hoffman) conducted by James Levine and featuring Anna Netrebko, Joseph Calleja, and Alan Held.

Chrysothemis was Ms. Voigt’s first Strauss role at the Met, which helped advance her rapidly growing reputation as one of the world’s most important rising-star Strauss specialists. Indeed, the New York Times wrote in its 2002 fall preview, “Almost any Strauss role the voice of Deborah Voigt touches turns to gold.” A few months later, a Times review of Elektra stated: “Not surprisingly, the soprano Deborah Voigt, an acclaimed Chrysothemis, was glorious. She sang with rich lyricism and radiant power, proving as always that an enormous, exciting voice can also be lovely.”

Deborah Voigt is singing another signature role later in the season at the Met, Senta in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer (opening April 23). Although she recorded the opera with the Metropolitan Opera under James Levine, and sang it in concert with the Met in Germany, this will be Voigt’s house debut as Senta.

Ms. Voigt’s engagements in the New Year include her return to Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde (Jan 23, 27, 31; Feb 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20) and her debut at the Zurich Opera as the Diva and Ariadne in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (Feb; March 5, 9, and 14). She also sings a recital in Zurich before returning to New York.

Joshua Roman making Waving around the World

Often hailed as a YouTube star, cellist Joshua Roman is currently attracting attention for two very different videos. Last month his segment from a fall 2008 concert broadcast outside a temple in Kyoto won the Professional Music Recording Award of Japan. Oto Butai is one of Japan's biggest annual music events, televised nationally from a different temple each year. Watch Roman's performance of Piazzolla's "Otono Porteno" in this award-winning video, or catch it in-flight on Japan Airlines.

On a different note, Roman was invited by photographer and Nikon spokesperson Chase Jarvis to collaborate on a video for the current Nikon Festival. Jarvis is one of the celebrity judges, along with Rainn Wilson of The Office and internet blogger Justine (iJustine) Ezarik, for Nikon's $100,000 contest, "Your day in 140 seconds or less". Watch Roman playing Bach in this 140-second video.

Always in good company, the young cellist turns 26 this month...on Beethoven's birthday.

Waltz into 2010 with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Marie Curie Cancer Care

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra welcomes in 2010 with a traditional Viennese concert in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on 1 January at 7pm .

Charismatic Romanian conductor Nicolae Moldoveneau, who last conducted the SCO’s New Year celebrations in 2006, directs a popular programme featuring traditional waltzes and polkas by Johann Strauss, as well as excerpts from Nicolae’s The Merry Wives of Windsor and The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. He will be joined by Swedish soprano Hannah Holgersson, who makes her SCO and UK debut with a selection of songs by Walton and Offenbach.

For the sixth consecutive year, the concert is given in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care, contributing towards the charity’s vital work, including running the Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh , and its home nursing service for terminally ill patients.

Lord Provost George Grubb will join in the celebrations by wishing everyone a Happy New Year, before introducing Marie Curie’s Nursing Ambassador, Lorna McGarry, who will say a few words about the charity and the goals for the coming year.

“When I see the relief on a patient`s face, when I know I’ve really helped them, it makes my work so rewarding. We are often asked why we do this work. We do it because of the personal and job satisfaction we get from knowing that we have made a real difference to the lives of our patients and their carers.” - Lorna McGarry

SCO Managing Director Roy McEwan added: “There could be no better way for the SCO to bring in the New Year than bring sparkling music to our audiences and support a wonderful and deserving cause at the same time. We are very pleased to maintain our relationship with Marie Curie Cancer Care and support their vital work. It is a great pleasure to invite Nicolae Moldoveanu back, this time accompanied by the glamorous Swedish soprano Hannah Holgersson. This will be our first visit to DG1 in Dumfries , which we are excited about, and we’re very pleased to be returning Perth and Ayr as well as the newly refurbished Usher Hall in Edinburgh ”

This Viennese New Year concert will also be performed in DG One in Dumfries on 2 January, Perth Concert Hall on 5 January and Ayr Town Hall on 6 January. This will be the SCO’s first performance at DG One. The concert in Perth Concert Hall has already sold out.

Amanda Palmer Rings in the New Year with the Boston Pops Dec 31st

Program features World Premiers by Sxip Shirey and Film Artist Michael Pope

In a complete departure from the traditional Boston Pops New Year’s Eve concert, Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops will be joined by the provocative and inventive singer/songwriter/cabaret artist Amanda Palmer in a gala concert to ring in the New Year at Symphony Hall on Thursday, December 31, at 10 p.m. The evening’s centerpiece program features Palmer performing the first movement of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, material from her ground-breaking punk cabaret duo The Dresden Dolls, and songs from her recent solo album, Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, as well as several musical surprises. This special New Year’s Eve celebration begins at 8 p.m. and features a wide variety of pre- and post-concert performances throughout the Hall, including Sxip Shirey and Adam Matta, April Smith and her band The Great Picture Show, and Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade.

All guests attending the Boston Pops’ New Year’s Eve concert will receive a complimentary gourmet boxed dinner. Tickets, priced from $45 to $160, may be purchased online at www.bostonpops.org, by phone through SymphonyCharge at 617-266-1200 or 888-266-1200, or in person at the Symphony Hall Box Office, at 301 Massachusetts Avenue.

The 10 p.m. concert will feature Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra in the first-ever performance of Sxip Shirey’s "A Melody for Lizzie," for strings with live and digital bells (via laptop), which Shirey will play himself. “We normally hear bells when they are telling us what to do,” said Shirey, who frequently uses bells in his compositions. “Wake up! Come to the door! Your eggs are done! So having it in a context of beautiful music allows the music to be lush but at the same time alert." He calls the work "a grand romantic gesture" for the woman he loves. The concert also features the world premiere of a new video by film artist Michael Pope. Filmed in Symphony Hall, it features live orchestra accompaniment to the Overture from Bjork's Selmasongs, inspired by the Iceland artist’s film Dancer in the Dark. Amanda Palmer will take the stage for the second half of the main stage performance.

Starting at 8 p.m., on the Symphony Hall stage, Sxip Shirey, whose renowned cabaret variety show, “Sxip's Hour of Charm,” regularly brings some of the world’s edgiest and clever cabaret acts to Joe’s Pub in Manhattan, will be featured in performance. A composer, sound designer, performer, and storyteller, he will perform on some of his “found object” instrument inventions, which include the Obnoxiophone and the Regurgitated Music Box. Joining him is beatboxer/performance artist Adam Matta, whose cutting-edge vocal stylings fuse elements of hip-hop, rock, electronic, jazz, contemporary and Middle Eastern music. He has been featured on National Public Radio, as well as in Benson Lee's documentary Planet B-Boy and the television series The L Word.

In the Cabot-Cahners Room, starting at 8 p.m., the cheeky, irreverent April Smith and her band The Great Picture Show will bring their unique brand of retro pop to their first performance at Symphony Hall. The group is known for their carnival-esque melodies and lyrics that embrace both the witty and the profound.

In the Higginson Room, both before, at 8 p.m., and just after the Pops concert, at 12:15 a.m., the featured performers are singer/songwriter Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade. The group, which includes vocals, guitar, reeds, bass, and drums, embraces styles from ragtime and swing to blues and country. Boston Magazine called Miss Tess “the next Boston musical sensation.”

Tickets for the New Year’s Eve celebration are priced from $45 to $160. Tickets may be purchased online at www.bostonpops.org, phone through SymphonyCharge at 617-266-1200 or 888-266-1200 or in person at the Symphony Hall Box Office. Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. or through intermission on Saturday. American Express, MasterCard, Visa, Discover, Diners Club, and cash are all accepted. There is a $5.50 per ticket handling fee for tickets ordered by phone or online.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Major Contempory Composers perform with London Symphony Orchestra in 2010

The London Symphony Orchestra is honoured to work with a number of leading contemporary composers who also perform with the Orchestra.

On 1 March 2010 the London Symphony Orchestra performs live to a film score by Nitin Sawhney. Sawhney has produced a thrilling new score to acclaimed Japanese director Mikio Naruse’s powerful melodrama, the 1933 silent film Yogoto No Yume (Nightly Dreams) centred around the tragic world of barmaid, Omitsu. Conducted by Kristjan Järvi.

John Adams conducts the premieres of two of his works in March 2010. On 7 March the UK premiere of the revised version of his Doctor Atomic Symphony, inspired by his acclaimed opera of the same name, is performed alongside the Four Sea Interludes from Britten’s Peter Grimes and Sibelius’ Symphony No 6. On 11 March Adams conducts the European premiere of his LSO co-commissioned City Noir. The programme also includes Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, Debussy’s Préludes, orchestrated by Colin Matthews, and Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments with pianist Jeremy Denk. These two concerts are part of the Barbican’s Great Performers 2009/10 and their In Focus: John Adams series. City Noir has been co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic; London Symphony Orchestra (European premiere at Barbican on 11 March 2010), also in association with Cité de la Musique-Salle Pleyel (LSO performs French premiere on 16 March 2010); The Eduard van Beinum Foundation at the request of the ZaterdagMatinee, the Dutch Radio Concert Series in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam (performance in November 2010); and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

André Previn, LSO Conductor Laureate, returns on 25 April 2010 for a concert of mainly American music including his own Miss Sallie Chisum remembers Billy the Kid. He is joined by soprano Barbara Bonney, for whom the work was written, and it is performed alongside Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite, Barber’s Knoxville Summer of 1915 and Strauss’ An Alpine Symphony.

Thomas Adès conducts the LSO in two of his own orchestral works on 6 June 2010. His 1996 work These Premises are Alarmed will be performed alongside Bartók’s Piano Concerto No 1, with soloist and Bartók specialist Zoltán Kocsis.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra announces appointment of new Chorusmaster

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is delighted to announce the appointment of Gregory Batsleer as Chorusmaster of the SCO Chorus. The appointment was sealed following Gregory’s work as Guest Chorusmaster for last week’s performances of Edward Harper’s Symphony No 2 in Glasgow and Edinburgh. His first work in post will be preparing the Chorus for performances of Berlioz’s L’Enfance du Christ in Edinburgh (Usher Hall, 4 February), Glasgow (City Halls, 5 February) and Aberdeen (Music Hall, 6 February). These concerts will be conducted by the Orchestra’s recently appointed Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati, who like Gregory is still in his twenties.

Gregory Batsleer is Director of the Hallé Youth Choir, Co-Founder and Principal Conductor of The Manchester Consort and an Associate Conductor with the Royal Northern College of Music’s Outreach Department. He has also worked as Guest Chorusmaster for several performances by the Hallé Choir. During 2007-08 he held a Choral and Music Scholarship in Princeton, USA and he is currently a Scholar at the Royal College of Music. Gregory also performs as a bass baritone and has sung as soloist and as a choral scholar in Manchester, London and New York.

Commenting on his appointment, Gregory said: “I am utterly thrilled and excited to be joining such a renowned and artistically acclaimed organisation. I am looking forward to the challenge of preparing and developing the SCO Chorus for its performances throughout forthcoming seasons, and to establishing a relationship with new Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati. It has been great to get to know the Chorus recently and I hope to continue to build on some already fantastic foundations. The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading chamber orchestras and it is my aim to bring the SCO Chorus to the same level.”

Roy McEwan, Managing Director of the SCO , added: “We are delighted that we have been able to appoint such a talented musician as Gregory to be our next Chorusmaster. The SCO Chorus is a crucial part of the SCO ’s artistic personality and over the years it has given outstanding performances in many of our most memorable projects. I’ve no doubt that Gregory will bring his own special talents to the Chorus’s work and continue to build on its previous achievements.”

Forthcoming concerts with Gregory Batsleer and the SCO Chorus:

BERLIOZ    L’Enfance du Christ

Robin Ticciati conductor
Karen Cargill Mary
Yann Beuron Centurion, Narrator
Ronan Collett Polydorus, Joseph
Matthew Rose Herod, Ishmaelite Father
SCO Chorus

Thursday 4 February, 7.30pm Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Friday 5 February, 7.30pm City Halls, Glasgow
Saturday 6 February, 7.30pm Music Hall, Aberdeen

BRAHMS    Serenade No 2
BRAHMS    Serious Songs
SCHUMANN    Mass in C minor Op 147

John Storgårds conductor
Rachel Nicholls soprano
Benjamin Hulett tenor

Stephan Loges bass baritone
SCO Chorus

Thursday 6 May, 7.30pm Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
Friday 7 May, 7.30pm City Halls, Glasgow

Aberdeen: £8.50-£19 (concessions available)
Aberdeen Box Office, tel 01224 641122 www.boxofficeaberdeen.com