. Interchanging Idioms: April 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Colorado Symphony Cinco de Mayo Free Concert

Presented by the Colorado Symphony, NEWSED Community Development Corporation, the Consulate General of Mexico in Denver and the Mexican Cultural Center, this annual festive Cinco de Mayo concert features favorite traditional mariachi music, a vocal soloist and dancers. Associate Conductor Scott O’Neil leads the Colorado Symphony and guest musicians in songs like “La Negra,” “ Guadalajara ,” “Cielito lindo huasteco” and much more. Students from Bryant Webster’s Mariachi Juvenil perform along with Denver ’s premier mariachi ensemble, Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra. Colorado’s premier Hispanic dance company, Fiesta Colorado Dance Company adds a colorful and festive flair to the celebration. Don’t miss this exciting annual Cinco de Mayo celebration featuring some of today’s most acclaimed performers in this tradition.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 7:00 p.m.
The Colorado Symphony

Scott O’Neil, associate conductor
Jeff Nevin, arranger and trumpet
Jose Luis Duval, tenor

Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra · Juventino Romero, director
Bryant Webster School Mariachi Juvenil · Pamela Liñan, director
Fiesta Colorado Dance Company | Jeanette Trujillo Lucero, artistic director

Boettcher Concert Hall at the Denver Performing Arts Complex

Tickets for the Cinco de Mayo Celebration concert are free to the public and are available at the Colorado Symphony Box Office, located in the lobby of Boettcher Concert Hall, 303.623.7876. Seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Special MAY DAY Event at the Prudential Center Celebrates 125 Years of the Boston Pops - May 1st , FREE!

Highlights include Performances by Musicians of the Boston Pops, The Boston Pops Gospel Choir and Project Step

The Boston Pops kicks off its landmark 125th anniversary season with a festive afternoon-long musical celebration at The Shops at Prudential Center, Saturday, May 1, from noon to 4 p.m. A brass quintet made up of Boston Pops musicians opens the festivities with a performance beginning at 12:15 at the entrance to the Food Court. From 12:30 to 2 p.m., Keith Lockhart will be in the Huntington Arcade for a CD signing, with birthday cake from Paradise Bakery and ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s to mark the occasion. Performances continue at the entrance to the Food Court at 2 p.m., when the Boston Pops Gospel Choir takes the stage. The talented young instrumentalists from Project STEP, a program for gifted musicians from minority communities, give a performance at 3:15 p.m. In addition, the Huntington Avenue corridor of the Prudential Center features an archival exhibit that traces the long, illustrious history of “America’s Orchestra.”

The Shops at Prudential Boston Pops event anticipates the opening of the Boston Pops 125th season at Symphony Hall. “Opening Night at Pops” is Tuesday, May 4, with performances scheduled through June 20, 2010. Tickets may be purchased online at www.bostonpops.org by phone through SymphonyCharge at 888-266-1200 or in person at the Symphony Hall Box Office located at 301 Massachusetts Avenue. For further information call 617-266-1492.

The Shops at Prudential Center is owned and operated by Boston Properties. It is New England’s top shopping and dining destination with 75 world class retailers, 27 dining options, 3000+ parking spaces, and four top Boston attractions all under one roof. The Shops at Prudential Center is home to the Boston area’s only Saks 5th Avenue and Vineyard Vines, the recently opened White House Black Market, and over 100 events every year.

Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris Join Boston Pops for World Premiere of The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers

Acclaimed actors Robert De Niro, Ed Harris, and Morgan Freeman give life to the words of John, Robert, and Edward Kennedy, respectively, when they join conductor Keith Lockhart, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for the world premiere performance of The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers—the centerpiece of the Boston Pops 125th anniversary season celebration—on May 18, at 8 p.m. (repeated on May 19), at Symphony Hall in Boston, MA. Celebrating the legacies of these three influential and inspiring Massachusetts native sons, The Dream Lives On—composed by Peter Boyer with Tony Award-winning lyricist Lynn Ahrens—was commissioned by Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops. This new multi-media work combines quotes from speeches by the Kennedy brothers with original text and video, accompanied by a dramatic orchestral and choral score. The Dream Lives On pays tribute to the towering achievements and singular spirit epitomized by the Kennedy brothers—the call to public service, drive for social change, and the legacy of optimism for America’s future. The title of the work was taken from the closing lines of Ted Kennedy’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Emmy Award-winner Alec Baldwin will join the Pops to narrate The Dream Lives On at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (parent organization of the Boston Pops) in Lenox, MA on July 18, at 2:30 p.m. Academy Award-winner Chris Cooper will serve as narrator for a special performance of the new work on the Hyannis Village Green in Hyannis, MA, home to generations of Kennedys, on August 1, at 5 p.m. The work was written with more than one performance adaptation in mind: it can be performed with four narrators, chorus, and orchestra or it can be performed with a single narrator and orchestra (optional chorus).

In addition to the repeat performance of the work at Presidents at Pops on May 19 (with Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Ed Harris narrating), The Dream Lives On will receive additional performances during the Pops 125th anniversary season celebration on May 20, 21, and 22, and on July 3 and 4 at the Charles River Esplanade as part of the annual Pops Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular concert (narrator/narrators for these performances to be announced at a later date). Commissioning of The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers was made possible by generous support provided by Paul and Catherine Braverman and Robert and Evelyn Doran.

Broadway Stars Join Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to Perform Irving Berlin’s Greatest Hits, May 20–23

Program includes “I Love A Piano,” “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” and more

Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra SuperPops in a program celebrating the music of Irving Berlin on Thursday, May 20 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore and Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 23 at 3 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Featuring internationally acclaimed singer and pianist Tony DeSare and Broadway stars Ashley Brown, Hugh Panaro, NaTasha Yvette Williams and James T. Lane, this all-Berlin program includes hits such as “How Deep is the Ocean,” “Blue Skies,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and many more.

Irving Berlin wrote more than 1,000 songs during his 60-year career including the famous “God Bless America,” which became the country’s second national anthem during World War II. He was already considered a legend before age 30, despite never learning to read or play music. Instead, he used a transposing piano to help him write his songs. He is known for crafting emotional melodies, like those used in “What’ll I Do” and “Remember,” both featured in these concerts. The program also includes his first world-famous hit “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” He is not only admired and celebrated by listeners, but also by famous composers including George Gershwin, who called him “the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.”

CONCERT DETAILS
BSO SuperPops: A Tribute to Irving Berlin
Thursday, May 20, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—The Music Center at Strathmore
Friday, May 21, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Saturday, May 22, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Sunday, May 23, 2010 at 3:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Jack Everly, conductor
Ashley Brown, vocalist
Tony DeSare, vocalist and piano
James T. Lane, vocalist
Hugh Panaro, vocalist
NaTasha Yvette Williams, vocalist

Tickets for these performances range from $30 to $85 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Vladimir Jurowski and Yossif Ivanov bring Beethoven's Violin Concerto to Brighton Festival

Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 was written under the darkest of clouds. The composer's ill-judged and short-lived marriage to the troubled Antonia Milyikova (who had initially threatened suicide if he refused her) had recently imploded, leaving Tchaikovsky himself in nihilistic frame. Leaving Russia to seek solace in travel and work, he completed his Fourth Symphony, a work that expressed a self confessed 'escape from reality'. From the sombre Fate motif that colours its first movement, to its ebullient folk-dance finale, it echoes the emotional fall-out and cathartic release from the greyest of winters.

Beethoven - himself no stranger to turbulence and torment - premiered his Violin Concerto in 1806. It was performed by Franz Clement - principal violinist and conductor at the Theater an der Wien - with a few 'embellishments' of his own between movements including a showman-like one-string sonata played with the violin upside down! Here it is performed with less overt theatrics but 'impressive authority and presence' (The Strad) by multi prizewinning Belgian prodigy Yossif Ivanov (pictured).

CONCERT DETAILS
02 May 2010 3:00pm
Vladimir Jurowski conductor
Yossif Ivanov violin

Wagner Faust Overture
Beethoven Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36

London Philharmonic explores Faust

Affairs of the heart and soul: three broadly contemporary nineteenth-century composers, whose music and outlooks were all wildly different, feature in this outstanding programme.

Wagner intended to write a full symphony around the Faust legend, but soon realized he was unlikely to finish it. His one-movement overture sees all the angst and suspense of the story concentrated into a few dramatic minutes of music.

While Wagner strayed across the boundaries of love, Brahms apparently missed out on romance: but his passion perhaps ran even more deeply as a result. His rhapsody for the lowest female voice and male choir is a heartfelt response to the discovery that the object of his affections was engaged elsewhere - and his feelings could go no further.

Franz Liszt was a renowned virtuoso, mystic, visionary, celebrity, and architect of new musical forms. But above all, Liszt was an entertainer. In his new ‘symphonic poems’, Liszt wanted to convey, heart-on-sleeve, the full swathe of human emotions. He hoovered up inspiration from everywhere, especially literature and art – so it’s appropriate that when novelist George Eliot visited Liszt in 1854, embryonic ideas for a symphony were beginning to form in the composer’s imagination. This became the ‘Faust’ Symphony, a work that gives voice to heroism, lament, passion and love, and takes the audience one step closer to Liszt’s turbulent, passionate soul.

FREE 6.15pm–6.45pm | Royal Festival Hall
Jessica Duchen explores the theme of Faust in music.

CONCERT DETAILS
01 May 2010 7:30pm
Vladimir Jurowski conductor
Anna Larsson contralto
Peter Auty tenor
London Philharmonic Choir

Wagner Overture to Faust
Brahms Alto Rhapsody
Liszt Faust Symphony

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Wait is Over! Netrebko's In the Still of the Night is Richly Lyrical, Ravishingly Russian and Heart Renderingly Beautiful

The Live Recital with Daniel Barenboim is Pure Romance through the music of Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky

Admittedly, I have been waiting for this recording since I reviewed I Capuleti E I Montecchi featuring Ms Netrebko last July --not that this CD was even a consideration at the time, since In the Still of the Night was recorded the following month (August 2009). Still, hearing her voice created a longing to hear it again, to revel in the passion she has for both music and words. Her voice as Juliette "tore my heart out with “Eccomi in lieta vesta”." The music in her latest release is no less stirring capturing the sentiments from her mother Russia.

This is Russian music of the late 19th-Century, full of emotional angst and turmoil. Track 8, from Rimsky-Korsakov's Four Songs, Op. 2 No. 2 "Plenivshis' rozoy, solovey" (Captivated by the Rose, Nightingale) is about the unrequited love of a Nightingale for a Rose. While the Rose listens to the beautiful song, it does not understand why the song is so solemn. Perhaps not understanding` Russian makes the song even more pointed: Netrebko's voice is so very divine and yet so very despondent. She sang this song on her album Souvenirs (2008), but the live performance here captures much more of the agony.

Later, with Track 12, Tchaikovsky's Op 57. No. 1 "Skazhi, o chom v teni vetvey" (Tell Me, What in the Shade of the Branches?), we are presented with another song of love alone, but here the passion and furor is more surface. "What thoughts torment a young girl, alone,... love." We are given a glimpse at the turmoil Tchaikovsky's own life went through as he struggled with unfulfilled love for singer Désirée Artôt.

Daniel Barenboim is delicate with his accompaniment, sensitive to the sentiments of the music and the rich tender voice of Anna Netrebko. The piano under the hands of Barenboim is more the comforting friend as Netrebko bares her soul.

The CD retains the enthusiasm of the audience after each track, giving the listener the desire to applaud. If the CD is so rich and complete, the live performance must have been breath-taking.

Don't feel as thought the entire CD is delving into the depression of unrequited love. "Den li tsarit?" is a delightful rejoicing in the constant thoughts of love. Netrebko finishes the concert uplifting the audience and soaring with joy. It is no wonder they were so enthusiastic, requesting two encores (both included on the album) -- one by Dvorak, the other by Strauss.

CanU Twitter Opera???

For all you high-tech, in-touch, opera fans out there...

I have a host of blogs I read, but haven't yet made the leap to twitter (even though many of my fans say I ought take the plunge). However, there is a new contest that may be just what I need.

#Operaplot 2010 is a twitter contest run by Omniscient Mussel. The point is to twitter an opera in 140 characters or less. The above links gives the rules and guidelines - with a link to the prizes, which are tickets to operas from numerous opera houses around the world (that's right, everyone is playing this game!)

There isn't a lot of time left as the contest ends April 30th.

Here are some of the ones from last year:

* @leboyfriend – There was a young lady called Fricka Who . . . who . . . *snore* ‘Wake up — it’s over.’ It’s good, I just wish it were quicka. [The Ring]
* @wordsmusic – Here’s my castle. Are you afraid? No, I’m going to open all those damn doors! Are you afraid? No, let me in! Who’s that? Oh shit. [Bluebeard]
* @musicbizkid – Let me get this straight: unfathomable treasure if I betroth my loopy daughter to a ghost? Deal. She’ll meet you by the fjord. [The Flying Dutchman]
* @DrGeoduck – Who wants to live forever? Me! No, wait, i changed my mind. *dies* [The Makropolus Case]
* @voxdixit – Monk: Repent, courtesan! (Meditation) Courtesan: Okay! Monk: Wait, there is no God after all! Courtesan: Too late, I’m dead! [Thais]

Join in the fun and tweet your favorite opera today!

For those Young Composers out there - a Blog about Orchestration

I've often thought I'd like to write a series of posts about orchestration, with the idea of eventually putting these posts into a collection and publishing them. But then I look at my book shelf and realize I already have 8 books on orchestration, with countless others on composition related material. Who am I kidding trying to compare myself with Berlioz, Rachmaninoff, Kennan or Adler??? (Ok, unless you're an orchestration geek like me, those last two names may not be that familiar).

Still, there are lots of great books out there. PLUS, there are some great websites. Young Composers not only has a great forum for posting your music to get comments from other composers, but it has links to a variety of helpful resources regarding all sorts of compositional skills. MusicArrangers.com has lessons in theory, arranging and more for beginners to professional. Dr. Brian Blood created music theory & history online which is one of the most complete theory references on the internet. 8notes.com has some theory lessons as well. All of these (and many more) are resources for budding composers.

However, I was introduced to yet another website/blog - berkleemusicblogs.com, which hosts posts by Ben Newhouse on Contemporary Orchestration Techniques. I can't say as his posts are all that numerous as yet, but the information is straightforward and easy to understand. If you're just starting out as a composer and reading the highly technical manuals of advanced theory classes make your head swim, this might just be the sort of information you are looking for.

If you have a website that was not listed and think it should be, post and comment and let me know. Always glad to get the word out on resources for the would-be composer.

Colorado Symphony Orchestra Pops Concert: Broadway Rocks! - May 7th

From Phantom to Dreamgirls

Join the Colorado Symphony and four of Broadway's best singers for great moments from hit musicals including Phantom of the Opera, Tommy, Rent, The Lion King, Mamma Mia, Jekyll and Hyde, The Wiz, Hairspray, Chess, Jesus Christ Superstar and Dreamgirls.

Scott O'Neil, associate conductor
Starring Vocalists Susan Egan, Capathia Jenkins, Hugh Panaro and Doug LaBrecque.

Jeremy Denk Performs Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds under John Adams at New York’s Carnegie Hall on May 10

Versatile Pianist Also Joins Steven Isserlis for Family Concert at NYC’s 92nd Street Y (May 23)

“Doing the Stravinsky with Jeremy Denk was pure pleasure. He seems to be able to play anything, making it feel effortless and finding the essence of what the composer imagines.” — John Adams

Jeremy Denk has enjoyed a high-profile spring, collaborating with composer/conductor John Adams to perform Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds on both sides of the Atlantic. After their account of the work with the London Symphony Orchestra, numerous critics singled Denk’s performance out for praise, the Daily Telegraph noting his “Chopinesque grace,” and the Arts Desk admiring his “astounding sense of fantasy.” Now, as a grand finale, Denk and Adams reunite to reprise the concerto, this time with Ensemble ACJW, at New York’s Carnegie Hall (May 10). Before the month is out, the versatile pianist also makes a second, more intimate New York appearance, joining cellist Steven Isserlis and friends for a family concert – “Songs and Spectacles: The Life and Music of Schubert” – at the 92nd Street Y (May 23).

The Concerto for Piano and Winds (1923-24, rev. 1950) is one of the mainstays of Stravinsky’s neoclassical output. Having composed the concerto for his own use, he performed it more than 40 times in the five years after its premiere under Serge Koussevitzky. Of the innovative scoring, Stravinsky wrote: “The short, crisp dance character of the [first movement], engendered by the percussion of the piano, led to the idea that a wind ensemble would suit the piano better than any other combination. In contrast to the percussiveness of the piano, the winds prolong the piano’s sound as well as providing the human element of respiration.” The concerto influenced many later works, notably Bartók’s Second Piano Concerto, in a performance of which the New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini considered Denk a “brilliant soloist,” commenting:

“Hearing Mr. Denk’s bracing, effortlessly virtuosic and utterly joyous performance, one would never guess how phenomenally difficult the piano part is.”

On April 30, The Dallas Opera Presents First World Premiere in its New Winspear Opera House

Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, Starring Tenor Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab

On April 30, The Dallas Opera presents the world premiere of Moby-Dick by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer, based on Herman Melville’s iconic American novel of 1851. Tenor Ben Heppner stars as Captain Ahab.

Jake Heggie has said that Melville’s book is not only operatic in scope: music virtually rises from its pages. “There is so much music with the sea and the wind and that sort of universe that Melville created, the ship floating on the ocean just as the planet floats on the universe. There were bells on the whaling ships, the whales themselves made very percussive noises.” As he and Scheer worked to distill a huge, classic book into a two-act, three-hour operatic story, the composer felt “the musical world reveal itself” with grand orchestration and a 40-voice men’s chorus.

The six-performance premiere of Moby-Dick, to run from April 30 to May 16, will star Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab. The Canadian tenor is one of today’s foremost exponents of such heroic roles as Wagner’s Tristan, Lohengrin, and Walther, Beethoven’s Florestan, Verdi’s Otello, and Tchaikovsky’s Ghermann, and has been acclaimed for portraying them from New York’s Metropolitan Opera to the greatest stages of London, Berlin, Paris, Milan, and Madrid. Also in the cast are up-and-coming baritone Morgan Smith (Starbuck) and tenor Stephen Costello (Greenhorn), winner of the 2009 Richard Tucker Award.

Patrick Summers, music director of Houston Grand Opera, will conduct the premiere run of Moby-Dick. This is the fourth Jake Heggie opera premiere to be shepherded by Summers, following Dead Man Walking, The End of the Affair, and Three Decembers (Last Acts). Dead Man Walking has been performed more than 125 times since its 2000 San Francisco premiere, making it one of the most popular of recent American operas.

Four companies joined with The Dallas Opera to co-commission and co-produce Moby-Dick: the San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera, and the State Opera of South Australia. Following the Dallas premiere, Moby-Dick will be presented by the co-producing companies over the next three years.

Librettist Gene Scheer is a frequent collaborator with Jake Heggie, having penned the libretto for Three Decembers and the lyric drama To Hell and Back, as well as the words for two song cycles and a chamber work by the composer. Scheer also wrote the libretti for Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy (premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2005) and Thérèse Raquin (first performed at The Dallas Opera in 2001).

Moby-Dick is staged by Leonard Foglia, the Tony-nominated director of Thurgood and Master Class. The scenic designer is two-time Tony Award-nominee Robert Brill, who has also designed for operas from Berg’s to Puccini’s in San Diego, Chicago, and Minnesota. Costume design is by Jane Greenwood (nominated a record 15 times for the Tony Award), with lighting design by Tony-winner Donald Holder.

The cast of Moby-Dick also features bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu (“Queequeg”), tenor Matthew O’Neill (“Flask”), baritone Robert Orth in his Dallas Opera debut (“Stubb”), and two more newcomers to the company: soprano Talise Trevigne (the lone woman in the cast, in the trouser role of “Pip”) and baritone Jonathan Beyer (“Captain Gardiner”).

Minnesota Orchestra Tours European Festivals in August 2010

Osmo Vänskä leads Orchestra in two performances at London’s BBC Proms, as well as festival concerts in Edinburgh and Amsterdam

Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra will perform at three major European music festivals this summer, including two performances at what is generally considered the world’s most famous classical music festival: the BBC Proms in London. Featuring violinist Lisa Batiashvili and cellist Alisa Weilerstein, the tour also includes performances at the Edinburgh International Festival and in the Great Hall of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. Running from August 24 through 31, the one-week Festival Tour is entirely underwritten by an anonymous donor. Tour repertoire spans the symphonic gamut from string concertos by Berg, Elgar, Mozart and Shostakovich to Bruckner’s Fourth and Beethoven’s Seventh symphonies. In the Orchestra’s final performance at the Proms, it will perform Beethoven’s Ninth, along with the BBC Symphony Chorus and vocal soloists Helena Juntunen, Charlotte Hellekant, Eric Cutler and Neal Davies. “To be invited for two performances at the Proms is a great honor,” says Music Director Osmo Vänskä, who led the Minnesota Orchestra in its BBC Proms debut in 2006. “And to be asked to offer Beethoven’s Ninth, which is so important to the Proms, is particularly meaningful. I am very proud of the Minnesota Orchestra, and I look forward to sharing performances at all three festivals this summer.”

Minnesota Orchestra fans will be invited to follow the Minnesota Orchestra’s travels during the tour via an online “eTour” which will offer the latest photos, video, blogs and reviews at www.minnesotaorchestra.org, and Minnesota Public Radio will present both of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Proms performances on all its Classical MPR stations. These broadcasts will be hosted by the BBC and MPR ’s Brian Newhouse.

The tour is part of an ongoing strategy—along with broadcasting and recording— to share the Minnesota Orchestra sound with broad global audiences. “Earlier this year, we established a regular broadcast presence on BBC Radio 3,” says President and CEO Michael Henson. “Joining up the broadcast series with live performances at the Proms and important festivals in Edinburgh and Amsterdam allows us to maximize the Minnesota Orchestra’s international impact, even in a challenging economic environment.” In December, the Minnesota Orchestra launched a six concert broadcast series on BBC Radio 3.

The tour opens on Friday, August 27, with a BBC Proms performance at Royal Albert Hall featuring Barber’s Music for a Scene from Shelley, Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with American cellist Alisa Weilerstein and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4. The Orchestra returns to the Proms the next day, showcasing performances of the Berg Violin Concerto with violinist Lisa Batiashvili, who comes from the Republic of Georgia , and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. On Sunday, August 29, the Orchestra appears at the Edinburgh International Festival, opening its program with Barber’s Music for a Scene from Shelley. Alisa Weilerstein rejoins the ensemble to perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto, and Vänskä concludes the performance with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7. The final tour concert is slated for Monday, August 30, at Amsterdam ’s Concertgebouw with performances of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5 with Lisa Batiashvili and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony.

René Pape Chats about Becoming Wotan, King of the Gods

Pape Debuts as Wotan at La Scala Milan in May, in New Production of Wagner’s Rheingold under Daniel Barenboim

René Pape is just settling down in his Berlin hotel room to talk about becoming King of the Gods, when he is interrupted by the Devil. The malevolent cackle gets too insistent to ignore, but luckily it’s just the ring tone of Pape’s cell phone, set to a bit of Gounod’s Méphistophélès – one of the German bass’s signature roles. Pape is a creature of the stage, so having a little ironic theatricality follow him around is only right. But the singer is also a man grounded in regular life. When not thrilling audiences the world over, he relishes time spent at home by the river in Dresden, cooking to relax.

Pape has been a member of the Berlin State Opera since 1988, and – as he turns off his phone to discuss the King of the Gods, aka Wotan, his latest Wagnerian challenge – he is in the German capital for runs as Prince Gremin in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and as King Marke in Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. The latter role is woven into the fabric of Pape’s life, with the expressive power and dramatic truth of his interpretation having devastated listeners for the past decade – in Berlin and Paris, at England’s Glyndebourne and New York’s Metropolitan Opera (his stage home away from home), as well as on record for EMI.

The bedeviled Wotan of Der Ring des Nibelungen is a role Pape was born to play. Having sung several Ring roles over the years, the 45-year-old singer’s voice and dramatic sensibility are now perfectly seasoned for Wotan. Pape makes his role debut in Das Rheingold at Milan’s Teatro alla Scala (May 13-29), the kickoff of a 2010-13 Ring cycle co-produced by La Scala and the Berlin State Opera, with Guy Cassiers as director and Pape’s longtime podium mentor Daniel Barenboim conducting. In the fall, after making his Metropolitan Opera role debut as Boris Godunow, Pape will return to La Scala as Wotan for Die Walküre.

Q: What does Wagner’s Ring mean to you, as a singer, as a German?

RP: This music is very close to me, of course – before Wotan, I was a Giant in Das Rheingold and Hunding in Die Walküre. The Ring is one of the world’s great masterpieces; it belongs to everyone. But as a German, it does feel special to sing in my native language. Wagner’s German is not the German you speak every day – it’s a unique Wagnerian language. He was his own librettist, and he wrote in a very Romantic, poetic style. It’s extremely rich, and I love expressing myself in this kind of language.

As for Wagner the person, I don’t spend time judging him. That is, I don’t interpret his lifestyle or his craziness. I just interpret his music. That is enough.

Q: Who is Wotan?

RP: Wotan is a leader with a lot of problems! He wants power; he wants love. But he can’t have it all. In Das Rheingold, he gives his power away. So, he is sad and lonely and unfulfilled – something I identify with. I’m kidding, but there is something about Wotan’s plight, wanting control and love, that I think most of us recognize; we see how hard it is, perhaps impossible, to have both. Vocally, the part lies perfectly within the compass of my voice, and in terms of my career, 45 is the ideal age to sing Wotan. I can express him with my voice and with my view of his character. But I'm still rehearsing, still studying the role. Once we start stage rehearsals, more will come to mind.

Q: Which Wotan interpreters influenced you most?

RP: George London, Hans Hotter, Theo Adam, John Tomlinson – Tomlinson was always the Wotan when I was a Giant or Hunding. Hotter’s voice was wonderful and his interpretation was too, but it was his pronunciation that really stood out. You could understand every word Hans Hotter sang. I listen to various recordings while preparing for a role, but I am not just listening to that specific role. Issues of timing, tempo, and diction are important, but I don’t want to copy. I am trying to absorb the overall atmosphere. The subtleties of atmosphere in these recordings fascinate me.

Q: George London has been a key inspiration for you – your Deutsche Grammophon solo recital recording, Gods, Kings, & Demons, which includes a Wotan aria, was in part an homage to his Gods and Demons album.

RP: Yes, George London was an amazing artist. He was able to sing so well in so many languages. He was a great Boris, a fantastic Méphistophélès, a superb Wotan. I’m friendly with his widow in New York, and he really is an idol of mine. I've always admired the way you could follow him no matter if he was singing in Russian, French, or German. It is always vital to deliver the text and the story, not just the sounds. Opera is drama above all.

Q: Has Plácido Domingo been an influence in a different way?

RP: Yes. I have sung Wagner with Domingo in Berlin, Munich, and New York. He is great. Perhaps you can’t always quite understand his German, but he never shouts or barks, as some do with Wagner. Domingo always sings beautiful, lyrical lines. I strive to sing lines like that but with the diction of a native German speaker. It’s funny. I remember listening to my grandfather’s cassette tapes of Domingo back in East Germany. My grandfather was such a fan. He would’ve thought it was incredible for his grandson not only to meet Domingo but actually to work with him. I think it’s incredible.

Q: Is the physical challenge of singing Wagner – not only the parts themselves but the sheer time you spend on stage – daunting?

RP: Well, you don’t just push a button and have Wagner come out, that’s for sure. We singers are not machines. And voices are changing as humans evolve. The keys are going up – orchestras are playing higher. You have to tune yourself in to Wagner, so to speak. You also need a certain measure of endurance to be onstage as long as you have to be for, say, Parsifal. But ideally I want to sing Wagner like Mozart and Mozart like Wagner. That is, I want to sing Wagner with more cantabile, and I want to sing Mozart with more, shall we say, testicles.

Q: You started out singing Wagner with a legendary Wagner conductor, Georg Solti, and you have since sung the composer’s music with Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Valery Gergiev, and James Levine. But you have been especially close with Daniel Barenboim. How is he special as a Wagnerian?

RP: Like Levine, Barenboim is one of the greatest Wagner conductors you could ever hope to work with. He understands the works forward and backward – and in eight different languages. He knows every single note from memory, so at every turn he is with you on stage and with the musicians in the pit, creating something new every night, like an artist. He offers both deep support and a constant challenge. He and I have worked together since 1991. At this point, we understand each other almost without thinking.

It’s true that Barenboim has a deeply philosophical view of Wagner’s music, but he’s very much a musician. He knows that everything is in the score and the text; they tell you everything you need to know, the style, the emotions, the motivations. Daniel also realizes that although you have to travel back to Wagner’s time in a sense, it’s also just as important to come to the music with a sense of today.

Q: Do you think Wagner audiences are different from other opera audiences?

RP: Wagner audiences are special, I think. It’s their music – but in a positive way; it’s a passion. Everyone feels expended – musically and physically – after five hours or whatever of a Wagner performance. So people tend to, how shall I put it? – well, freak out at the end. After Tristan in Berlin recently, the people didn’t want to go home – they wanted to express their feelings, to shout and cry with emotion and in appreciation. People go to the opera house after their office lives and after the stresses of the day, and the opera makes them feel good – it is a release for them. That is why it is an honor to sing for them. And I am very excited to be singing my first Wotan at La Scala – it will also be my first time singing in Milan. There is so much history on that stage. It’s an honor to be part of that, too.

Q: Was there a special musical atmosphere where you grew up, in Dresden, behind the Iron Curtain?

RP: I grew up singing in Kreuzchor, the boys’ choir there, from the age of 8. So music was always important to me. And, yes, Dresden has so much musical history – including the world’s oldest orchestra, the Staatskapelle. It’s such a rich place musically. We should remember that the Iron Curtain was only up for 40 years or so, which is such a short period in the city’s history. Music was an essential part of Dresden’s character for hundreds and hundreds of years before that. It always will be.

Q: With all the intensity of opera, what do you do to decompress off-stage?

RP: When we are preparing seven days a week for a new production, it is a very intense period. During times like this, it is important to relax, even do nothing. I will spend time alone in the hotel with a book or sit in a coffeehouse for hours not really speaking to anyone. After opening night, it’s easier. I will spend off-days at museums and galleries – or playing golf, if I have time.

I moved back to Dresden last year from Berlin. It was 20 years of travel, basically – living in hotels and bad apartments, going back lonely after a big performance. So having a nice home now outside of town with a lovely view of the River Elbe is important to me. It’s a fantastic place to live, and I like to cook there all day, a little of everything – pasta, fish, schnitzel. And I have my little dog there, a dachshund. His name is Wotan.

Composer John King's 10 Mysteries CD Release at Roulette NYC - May 15th

String quartet Crucible (Cornelius Dufallo and Chris Otto, violins; John King, viola; and Alex Waterman, cello) will perform music from composer John King’s new CD “10 Mysteries” at NYC’s Roulette on Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 8:30 pm.

Earlier this year, John King released his second CD, “10 Mysteries” on John Zorn’s Tzadik label. King has 2 previous CD releases of music for string quartet; AllSteel (Tzadik) and Ethel (Cantaloupe). Featuring passionate and inspiring performances by the remarkable quartet Crucible with King himself on viola, the music on 10 Mysteries jumps from moment to moment with lightening speed and an organic sense of form. In his second CD on Tzadik he again embraces rock, jazz, blues and other popular styles in an energetic and colorful program for string quartet.

Roulette (www.roulette.org) is located at 20 Greene Street, NYC, between Canal and Grand. Tickets are $15/$10 and can be reserved at 212.219.8242. Admission is free to Roulette members.

21st Annual Bard SummerScape Festival: “Berg and His World” Takes Place over Two Weekends, August 13–15 and August 20–22

In-Depth Survey of Music by Great Viennese Modernist Alban Berg and His Contemporaries is Centerpiece of Seven-Week 2010 Bard SummerScape Festival

“Part boot camp for the brain, part spa for the spirit” – New York Times

Described by the Los Angeles Times as “uniquely stimulating,” the world-renowned Bard Music Festival returns for its 21st annual season, to fill the last two weekends of Bard SummerScape 2010 with a compelling and enlightening exploration of “Berg and His World.” Twelve concert programs over the two mid-August weekends, complemented by pre-concert lectures, panel discussions, expert commentaries, and a symposium, make up Bard’s examination of Alban Berg, the composer whose enduring impact on the hearts and minds of post-war audiences is unique among the modernists of his generation. The twelve concerts present Berg’s complete orchestral oeuvre, all of his published chamber, instrumental, and vocal works, and Berg’s own suites from his operas, Wozzeck and Lulu, alongside a wealth of music from more than 40 of his contemporaries. Weekend One—“Berg and Vienna” (August 13–15)—contextualizes Berg within the cultural melting pot he shared with Schoenberg, Mahler, and Freud, while Weekend Two—“Berg the European” (August 20–22)—takes stock of the diversity of music between the wars, including the backlash against modernism.

The Bard Music Festival has won international acclaim for its unrivaled, in-depth exploration of the life and works of a single composer and his contemporaries, offering, in the words of the New York Times, a “rich web of context” for a full appreciation of that composer’s inspirations and significance. Leon Botstein, co-artistic director of the festival and music director of the resident American Symphony Orchestra, will conduct the orchestral programs; these, like many of the other concerts and special events, will take place in the beautiful Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on Bard’s glorious Hudson Valley campus. As in previous seasons, choral programs will feature the Bard Festival Chorale directed by James Bagwell, while this year’s impressive roster of performers includes the Daedalus and FLUX Quartets, pianist Jeremy Denk, violinist Soovin Kim, and soprano Christiane Libor.

Through the prism of Berg’s life and career, the 2010 festival will explore the origins, varieties, and fate of modernism in music. Listeners will encounter music ranging from the familiar Viennese waltzes of Berg’s youth to the most avant-garde experiments of the 1920s and ’30s, by way of serialism, the conservative reaction against it, neo-classicism, and jazz. Usually hailed as a pioneer of the modernist movement along with his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, and fellow student Anton Webern, here Berg will be considered in a richer and more nuanced context as a contemporary of Mahler, Zemlinsky, Pfitzner, Reger, Busoni, and Karl Weigl, and as one who engaged the new music of Bartók, Debussy, Stravinsky, Ravel, Gershwin, Casella, and Szymanowski.

The twelve musical programs, built thematically and spaced over the two weekends, open with a pair of chamber concerts. “Alban Berg: The Path of Expressive Intensity” traces Berg’s stylistic development from early works like the Seven Early Songs (1905-08), composed while under Schoenberg’s tutelage, to the maturity of his Lyric Suite (1925-26), a twelve-tone string quartet dedicated to Zemlinsky, from whose Lyric Symphony it quotes. Also featured is Berg’s 1921 arrangement of Wein, Weib, und Gesang (“Wine, Women, and Song”) by Johann Strauss II, Vienna’s “waltz king,” whose music was highly regarded by the Schoenberg circle. Program Two presents “The Vienna of Berg’s Youth,” coupling selections from Berg’s early piano pieces and songs with other works, also from the early 1900s, which share the same preoccupation with extending tonality without yet breaking the bounds of Romanticism. Webern’s Piano Quintet of 1907, for example, is predominantly Brahmsian, despite the extremity of its chromaticism. Like Berg, Webern was at the time taking lessons from Schoenberg, who in turn studied counterpoint with Zemlinsky, two of whose works are featured.

Tickets for all Bard SummerScape events are now on sale.
For tickets and further information on all SummerScape events, call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900 or visit www.fishercenter.bard.edu.

Tribeca New Music Festival - cutting Edge Music in New York

The New York Art Ensemble moves its Ninth Annual Tribeca New Music Festival, a 4-concert series of cutting-edge new music, to a new location, Merkin Concert Hall, 129 West 67th Street, NYC, with performances on June 5, 7, 8, 9, at 8PM. The Festival will highlight important trends and artists affecting today’s vibrant new music scene.

“Since our first Tribeca New Music Festival in 2001 we have a had a great run with our good friends at The Flea Theater. But, after two sold-out seasons in a row downtown, the New York Art Ensemble wants to reach more people and will present its four-concert series at the beautifully renovated Merkin Concert Hall near Lincoln Center,” said Festival curator Preston Stahly. “Concerts one and two will single out some brilliant newcomers making their presence felt including the JACK Quartet and the Ted Hearne Band, while concert three will feature the NYAE Monsters and concert four will highlight two of the most important female composer/performers on the American new music scene, Bora Yoon and Pamela Z, with video artist Luke DuBois. It’s going to be awesome.”

Concert #1
The JACK Quartet—music of Lisa Bielawa, David Crowell, Shawn Jaeger, Jeff Myers, Chris Rogerson, and Mick Rossi
Saturday, June 5 at 8 PM This concert presents one of the most important new contemporary groups, the JACK Quartet, performing works from an exciting collection of composers who are making an important mark in today’s new music arena.

Concert #2
NextGen—Andy Akiho, Timothy Andres, Leah Coloff, and the Ted Hearne Band
Monday, June 7 at 8PM Join us as we explore the work of four very unique emerging composers who are making an impact on the newest generation of young artists. The concert will move from cerebral peace into a raucous climax over the course of the evening.

Concert #3
Monsters!—music of Eve Beglarian, Victoria Bond, Douglas Cuomo, Philip Glass, Gregor Huebner, Preston Stahly and Scott Wheeler
Tuesday, June 8 at 8PM This will be an evening of fantasy, storytelling, and new music as the New York Art Ensemble Monsters (pianists Geoffrey Burleson and Kathleen Supové, and violinist Mary Rowell) are joined by composer/narrator Eve Beglarian and actor Oleg Dubson in a collection of new works written for these performing artists.

Concert #4
Bora Yoon and Pamela Z—with video artist Luke DuBois Wednesday, June 9 at 8PM Two of the most original composer/performers who have taken vocal improvisation, audio sampling, looping and sound design to a new artistic level are Pamela Z and Bora Yoon. They will be joined by celebrated video artist Luke DuBois as they draw from their vast repertoire of sounds, sights and experience to present a new evening of works for this final Tribeca New Music Festival concert.


The New York Art Ensemble, under Artistic and Executive Director Preston Stahly, believes that cutting-edge new music composed by living artists plays a vital role in the creativity, inspiration, and the very survival of our culture. Therefore, we present eclectic concerts that reflect the energy and diversity of America's contemporary musical environment and feature professional musicians of the highest caliber.

Our mission is to challenge, inspire, entertain, educate, and thereby connect the public to the best of new American music. Our vision is to re-invigorate the public's concert-going experience through a fresh and interactive approach to concert programming and through educational initiatives, which include workshops and an annual national young composers competition.

Cellist Danjulo Ishizaka Joins Conductor Vladimer Jurowski with the London Philharmonic for Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto April 28th

Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski offers a rare opportunity to hear Myaskovsky's Symphony 6, a moving choral work of Mahlerian proportions, which alludes to the distressing circumstances surrounding the death of his aunt. Myaskovksy was great friends with Prokofiev throughout his life, and it is the latter composer's Symphony-Concerto, a large scale work for cello and orchestra, that opens the evening concert.

Wednesday 28 April 2010 | Royal Festival Hall | 7.30pm
Prokofiev Symphony-Concerto
Myaskovsky Symphony 6

Vladimir Jurowski conductor
Danjulo Ishizaka cello
London Philharmonic Choir

Symphonies of the North: world premiere of new symphony by Erkki-Sven Tüür

Also the SCO Chorus joins the Orchestra for rarely performed Schumann Mass
Intimate Chamber Concert of late Romantic music and
Renowned pianist Maria João Pires makes a rare Scottish appearance

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra pairs Sibelius’ Symphony No 3 with the world premiere performance of Erkki-Sven Tüür’s Symphony No 8, a work commissioned by the SCO and conducted by Tüür’s fellow-Estonian Olari Elts in Glasgow (City Halls, 30 April) and Edinburgh (Queen’s Hall, 1 May). The Orchestra last performed a work by Tüür – Oxymoron – in November 2007 to considerable critical acclaim and audience approval. The concert opens with Concerto Romanesc, a rip-roaring work by György Ligeti which vividly evokes the world of Romanian folk music. Ticket holders will have the opportunity to hear Tüür discuss his new symphony, its themes and influences at a free pre-concert talk.

The SCO Chorus will be joining the Orchestra for a rare performance of Schumann’s Mass, as part of Schumann 200 – a short series celebrating the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth. John Storgårds, an SCO regular, will be conducting the performance with soloists Rachel Nicholls, Benjamin Hulett, and Stephan Loges. The concert will open with two pieces from Brahms, Serenade No 2 and Serious Songs and will take place in Edinburgh (Queen’s Hall, 6 May) and Glasgow (City Halls, 7 May).

The last Chamber Concert of the Season will feature late Romantic music on Sunday 9 May in Edinburgh. The SCO String Ensemble will perform Wolf’s Italian Serenade, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht, and Brahms’ Sextet in G, contrasting pieces that nevertheless share emotional and dramatic themes.

The SCO’s Season closes with a treat. Renowned Portuguese pianist, Maria João Pires, makes a rare Scottish appearance with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4. An expressive and eloquent musician, she has performed with orchestras throughout the world and is celebrated for her poetic tone and the depth of her interpretations. Trevor Pinnock makes a welcome return to the SCO to conduct the programme, which includes Mendelssohn’s The Fair Melusine and Mozart’s Symphony No 39 in Edinburgh (Usher Hall, 13 May), Glasgow (City Halls, 14 May) and Aberdeen (Music Hall, 15 May).

SYMPHONIES OF THE NORTH
LIGETI Concerto Romanesc (12’)
TÜÜR Symphony No 8 (30’), world premiere
SIBELIUS Symphony No 3 (29’)

Olari Elts conductor

Friday 30 April, 7.30pm GLASGOW City Halls
Saturday 1 May, 7.30pm EDINBURGH Queen’s Hall

Pre-concert talk: 6.30pm Erkki-Sven Tüür talks about his new symphony

SCHUMANN 200 – SCHUMANN MASS
BRAHMS Serenade No 2 (29’)
BRAHMS Serious Songs (20’)
SCHUMANN Mass in C minor Op 147 (42’)

John Storgårds conductor
Rachel Nicholls soprano
Benjamin Hulett tenor
Stephan Loges bass baritone
SCO Chorus

Thursday 6 May, 7.30pm EDINBURGH Queen’s Hall
Friday 7 May, 7.30pm GLASGOW City Halls

CHAMBER CONCERT
WOLF Italian Serenade
SCHOENBERG Verklärte Nacht
BRAHMS Sextet in G

SCO String Ensemble

Sunday 9 May, 2.30pm EDINBURGH Queen’s Hall

PIRES PLAYS BEETHOVEN
MENDELSSOHN The Fair Melusine (10’)
BEETHOVEN Piano Concerto No 4 (34’)
MOZART Symphony No 39 (29’)

Trevor Pinnock conductor
Maria João Pires piano

Thursday 13 May, 7.30pm EDINBURGH Usher Hall
Friday 14 May, 7.30pm GLASGOW City Halls
Saturday 15 May, 7.30pm ABERDEEN Music Hall

Monday, April 26, 2010

Paavo Järvi Conducts the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra in New Recordigns of Bruckner Symphonies No. 7 & 9

Both Albums available at ArkivMusic.com

Following his critically acclaimed Beethoven symphony cycle, Grammy Award®-winning conductor Paavo Järvi presents the first two installments of his Bruckner symphony cycle. Järvi leads the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, whose strong association with Bruckner was cemented with their recordings of his original scores in the 1980s. The new Super Audio CD recordings of Bruckner Symphony No. 7 and Symphony No. 9 are both available on April 20, 2010.

“I love Bruckner,” says Järvi about his decision to make these recordings. “I have an affinity for his music. Every symphony is absolutely unique…long journeys that take very careful planning and pacing. You can lose yourself in this music. It can take you some place very special.”

The first to receive unequivocal admiration for Bruckner as a great composer, Symphony No. 7 in E Major was also the most beloved with audiences of the time and remains popular today. Geoff Brown of the Times writes, “A tingle is summoned right at the start, and it continues throughout this first installment of Järvi’s Bruckner cycle. Järvi shades dynamics very sensitively and firmly grips the epic structure.”

Bruckner famously did not succeed in finishing his Symphony No. 9. Although he did compose the whole of the fourth movement, he did not complete its orchestration. After his death, parts of the movement were lost. This recording is based on the critical new edition compiled by Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs in 2000 as part of his complete works of Bruckner.

Conductor Juanjo Mena Leads Pianist Louis Lortie and Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Schumann’s Piano Concerto, May 13—15

Program also includes Romantic works by Brahms and Strauss

Spanish Conductor Juanjo Mena will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a program celebrating the Romantic Era on Thursday, May 13 at 8 p.m. and Friday, May 14 at 8 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, May 15 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. The BSO will perform Schumann’s Piano Concerto featuring internationally acclaimed pianist Louis Lortie, Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 and Richard Strauss’ Don Juan.

Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor features celebrated pianist Louis Lortie, who London’s Daily Telegraph praises as “one of the half a dozen pianists worth dropping everything to hear” and who is known for his interpretations of Romantic piano repertoire. The first movement’s lilting melody illustrates Schumann’s abiding love for his wife Clara Wieck Schumann. The joyfulness continues into the second movement, despite being written four years after the first movement and following Schumann’s period of serious mental illness.

While most of his works were composed while in the serenity of rural Germany, Brahms chose to write his Third Symphony in a sheltered studio in the German city of Wiesbaden. He could not bear to leave the city that inspired him to write the piece nor could he abandon his new love Hermine Spies. Symphony No. 3 relies on the F, A-flat, F three-chord pattern to represent Brahms own personal motto—frei aber froh, meaning “free but glad.” The piece emphasizes the melodic clarinet and bassoon, and in the last movement, the two unite in a dramatic duet adding a serene element to a feverishly passionate performance.

Richard Strauss’ tone poem Don Juan premiered in Germany in 1988 and is regarded as the inception of his legendary career. Just before writing the piece, Strauss had fallen in love with soprano Pauline de Ahna. Feeling overwhelmed with romance, he consulted German poet Nikolaus Lenau’s poem “Don Juan,” that tells the infamous story of Don Juan’s search for female companionship and his antagonism towards anyone hindering his quest. While at first he is full of boldness and enthusiasm in his never-ending pursuit of new loves, his determination weakens after losing a duel against the wrath of one young woman’s father.

COMPLETE CONCERT DETAILS
Classical Concert: Three Romantics
Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Friday, May 14, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall
Saturday, May 15, 2010 at 8:00 p.m.—The Music Center at Strathmore

Juanjo Mena, conductor
Louis Lortie, piano

R. Strauss: Don Juan
Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Minor
Brahms: Symphony No. 3

Tickets for these performances range from $25 to $80 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Broadway Sensation and "Glee" star Idina Menzel Headlines with other Artists to Open Boston Pops 125th Season - May 4th

Menzel to Step Into the Spotlight as Featured Guest Artist on May 5 and 6, Performing a Variety of Repertoire from Musical Theater Favorites to Classic Pop

Broadway sensation and Tony Award-winning actress/vocalist Idina Menzel will join Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops for three performances during the first week of the orchestra’s 125th season, including a cameo appearance at the “Opening Night at Pops” gala concert on Tuesday, May 4. For the opening night program, Ms. Menzel joins Doc Severinsen and pianist Michael Chertock for a special opening night program that honors the distinctive legacies of its most famous conductors—Mr. Lockhart, John Williams, and Arthur Fiedler. Ms. Menzel, who can currently be seen on the hit television show ”Glee,” returns to the Pops stage on May 5 and 6, when she will be highlighted performing a full set list of repertoire ranging from musical theater favorites to classic pop, including new arrangements of hits from two of her most famous shows, Rent and Wicked, as well as songs from her recent album I Stand. Opening Night at Pops is sponsored by Fidelity Investments.

The May 5-7 programs will also include a performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, with piano soloist Michael Chertock, and a segment showcasing music from three of Mr. Williams’s most beloved film scores—ET, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. The concert’s grand finale is The Beatles: Rock Band Sing-Along, which invites the audience to sing along to some of The Beatles’ iconic songs synched to film projections of Harmonix’s groundbreaking video game The Beatles: Rock Band.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Musicians Help Patrons Choose Subscription Packages through Musicians’ Concierge

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra introduces Musicians’ Concierge—a new service for BSO patrons in which BSO musicians help them customize their subscription packages. Now through May 15 after each concert at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, patrons can attend BSO Fan parties to participate in the Musicians’ Concierge. BSO musicians will be present at every party to assist subscribers in selecting their subscription package for the upcoming season, based on each patron’s favorite musical styles and solo instrument. BSO Fan parties also include free drinks and desserts. Concerts held at the Music Center at Strathmore will have BSO musicians present at intermission only.

For patrons unable to attend a BSO Fan party before May 15, an online version of the Musicians’ Concierge will be available. Patrons can visit BSOmusic.org, fill out a short form and within one week, a BSO musician will contact the subscriber with suggestions for selecting his or her customized subscription package.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

OperaColorado ends the Season with Championship Production of Tosca

Sondra Radvanosky and Greer Grimsley capture the dark passion of Tosca

Photographer: Matthew Staver

 

Tosca at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House –where do I begin? I rather feel like the fan watching a game that is practically hopeless only to see my team score in the final seconds and win! But the score was not just any score; it was one of those amazing feats that will be played over and over again on the late night sports recap. I don’t mean to suggest that OperaColorado is facing certain defeat, or that opera in Colorado is on the decline. But classical arts are suffering in the current economic climate. Colorado Symphony musicians, who also play for OperaColorado, is just one of many orchestras that took a voluntary pay cut to keep the books balanced.

Last night OperaColorado, against the odds of current economic trends, scored not only a game winner but capped off their season with a stellar production; took home the trophy, so to speak. From the opening of the curtain in Act I when the audience gasped at the beyond grand sets by Thierry Bosquet to the 5 minutes of applause for leading lady Sondra Radvanosky’s rendition of Vissi d'arte OperaColorado shows it is a championship opera company. The sets from the San Francisco production of Tosca for the re-opening of the War Memorial Opera House in 1997, literally take your breath away! Sondra’s talent filled the house and outshined her stunning red dress of the final two acts.

Putting Sondra in the role of Tosca was a huge risk, not that she is a risky talent –quite the opposite. Before her debut with OperaColorado last night she has performed at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Paris Opera Teatro all Scala, Vienna State Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and calls the Met her home. Getting her to play Tosca in Denver is rather like making your number one draft pick the Heismann Trophy winner. However, what it did for OperaColorado was step up their game and put them in the same league as the above mentioned opera houses. We may not get the world wide recognition these other opera houses have, but OperaColorado showed they can certainly provide comparable performances. The risk paid off with a definite game winning production!

Sondra’s performance was brilliantly lyrical, performing the title role of Tosca, an opera singer in Rome June 17th, 1800 with the intimate passion of a world class diva. Her voice held both the affectionate tenderness of a shy lover and the strident fear of a woman threatened with rape. One of the most endearing moments of her performance came in her opening scene with her lover Cavaradossi, when Sondra was singing with her head bowed toward her lover. The smile on her face and the affection in her voice made the scene almost embarrassing to watch as we listened in on these intimate moments of professing love. Yet, her voice carried to the back of the house. It is not just Sondra’s powerful voice but her all around ability to capture the nuances of the character that made Tosca come alive on stage. Sondra was the gleaming star for both Cavaradossi and the audience.

Tosca’s nemesis, Baron Scarpia, was performed by Greer Grimsley who’s critical acclaim in Wagnerian roles proves he has the chops to command a world class stage. Greer did it again with Scarpia. At the end of Act I, the chorus comes out to sing in celebration the Te Deum. The orchestra is pounding away with celebratory music and above this we hear Scarpia’s voice, ”Tosca, mi fai dimenticare Iddio!” (Tosca, you make me forget God!). Power is not enough for Scarpia and Greer wasn’t willing to just coast through the role with the power of his voice. Scarpia is a menace and Greer captures this perfectly in Act II. He gloats and glowers, threatens and insinuates; Scarpia is the Iago of Tosca and Greer makes the audience disgusted and angry, on the verge of storming the stage with the depths of his depravity. Greer was booed when he came out for a curtain call; his performance was just that intense.

Antonello Palombi in the role of Cavaradossi was lyrically a perfect match for Sondra’s Tosca. Their voices blended beautifully and yet retained a sense of their individual characters to breathe life into each scene. There was mention that Antonello was suffering from allergies, but it was in no way evident. His rendition of the famous E lucevan le stele in Act III was tender, passionate and heartbreaking. His acting was not quite on a par with the other leads, feeling a bit overly melodramatic at times. Yes, this is Puccini and yes, it is opera, but that doesn’t mean it has to be exaggerated, particularly when he appears in Act II after being tortured, the performance was a bit over the top.

Philip Cokorinos debuted with OperaColorado with his portrayal of Sacristan. He was funny and poignant, a nice foil for Antonello in the first act. Matthew DiBattista as Spoletta and William O’Neill as Sciarrone lent their rich voices to this amazing production. While their characters are not featured roles, they did make their presence felt on stage with every appearance and definitely were a strong addition to the cast. The only point of frustration in the cast was the voice of the Shepherd Boy. Donata Cucinotta’s voice from back stage could not be heard over the orchestra and was lost. This is unfortunate as she was delightful in The Tales of Hoffmann earlier this year.

Ron Daniels as the director returns after his successful production of Madama Butterfly last year. He deserves the standing ovation the production received on its opening night as it was beautiful, rich and certainly world class. While there were moments when the action on stage seemed at a loss as to what to do with the immense amount of non-vocal music, these moments were rare enough to not detract from the remarkable performances of the entire cast. I sincerely hope OperaColorado considers bringing Daniels back for future productions.

In an era where the arts are suffering I feel like writing a personal letter of thanks to Susan and Jeremy Shamos who are season sponsors, to Merle Chambers and Hugh Grant, Joy and Chris Dinsdale, Jilja K. Herfurth and Dr. and Mrs. William Maniatis of the Colorado Trust. These were the stars of last night’s production. These were the people who stepped up to the plate and really put one in the bleachers. No, they weren’t on stage – they were the sponsors that made the evening possible. If you know them, thank them for me. I am going to be comparing other opera productions to this Tosca for a very long time.


Remaining Performances:
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm
Friday, April 30, 2010 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival Appoints Next Artistic Director, Third In Festival’s History

The Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival announced this week that pianist Anne-Marie McDermott will be its artistic director beginning with the 2011 season, the Festival’s 24th. McDermott will assume artistic leadership in October succeeding Eugenia Zukerman who, after holding the position for 13 years, announced last fall she would step down. Zukerman will complete her stellar tenure with the Bravo! Festival this summer of 2010.

"Annie-Marie McDermott is a superb pianist and a dynamic and compelling person," says Zukerman. "Having often performed with Anne-Marie, I know that her musical insights and creative ideas will be great assets to Bravo! I have complete confidence that Anne-Marie McDermott will be a remarkable artistic leader for the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival."

Bravo's search committee, comprised of board members, staff and an artistic consultant, began an extensive search for a new artistic director last September. More than 80 candidates were vetted to the committee. Alan Kosloff, chairman of Bravo's Board of Trustees, spearheaded the search committee. Kosloff, who has a long-standing relationship with the Festival, became the chairman just a few months prior to beginning the search and says that he is very pleased that McDermott has accepted the position.

"Anne-Marie brings a wealth of experience, musical talent, and great passion that will continue the success of the Festival and take us to new heights," says Kosloff. "We look forward to working with her."

McDermott is no stranger to the Vail Valley and the Bravo! Festival. She has performed at numerous Bravo! Festivals during the last 23 years as a soloist with several of Bravo's resident orchestras and has performed in many of Bravo’s chamber music concerts and soirées.

McDermott is a consummate artist who balances a versatile career as a soloist and collaborator. She performs more than 100 concerts a year in a combination of solo recitals, concerti and chamber music. Her repertoire choices are eclectic, spanning from Bach and Haydn to Prokofiev and Scriabin to Kernis, Hartke, Tower and Wuorinen. McDermott is a member of the renowned piano quartet Opus One, and has been the artistic director of the Ocean Reef Chamber Music Festival in Key Largo, Florida for the last four seasons and artistic director of the Avila Chamber Music Celebration in Curacao for the last five seasons.

As a soloist, McDermott has recorded the complete Prokofiev Piano Sonatas, Bach English Suites and Partitas (which was named Gramophone Magazine’s Editor’s Choice), and most recently, Gershwin Complete Works for Piano and Orchestra with the Dallas Symphony and Justin Brown.

Bravo's Executive Director John Giovando says McDermott has been a long-standing Festival favorite and he looks forward to working with her in this new capacity. "She will bring great energy, enthusiasm and dedication to the Festival and the Vail community,” says Giovando.

Following founding Artistic Director Ida Kavafian and Eugenia Zukerman, McDermott becomes the third artistic leader in the Festival's history. Eclectic and compelling programming, continuing Bravo’s tradition of juxtaposing old and new orchestral and chamber works--both light-hearted and serious, and expanding Bravo's already immense educational efforts, are just some of her ideas that she plans to implement when she assumes the position.

“Not only do I feel humbled to carry the torch of my great colleagues and predecessors, I also feel a sense of duty to inspire Bravo’s music-loving public with a continued commitment to excellence and a bold look at the future,” says McDermott. “Music has the power and the depth to shed light on our present, past and future. I am thrilled to add this new facet to my musical journey and I greatly look forward to this new adventure.”

The Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival celebrates its 23rd season this summer from June 25 through August 3 opening with a recital by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and pianist Kathryn Stott, followed by concerts with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Repertory Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and Bravo's chamber musicians. Relish the artistic excellence of the Festival and its many musicians in the reserved seating sections or relax on the lawn with friends, family, a picnic basket and wine at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. Enjoy the inspiring sounds of chamber music at the intimate Vail Mountain School, Vilar Performing Arts Center and other venues throughout the Vail Valley. From instrument petting zoos to intimate soirées; from Tchaikovsky to Broadway Pops and Blues, the Festival has it all in the glorious setting of the Rocky Mountains. For a Festival lineup and to purchase tickets visit www.vailmusicfestival.org or call 970.827.5700

Friday, April 23, 2010

Experience Music From the Golden Age of Hollywood with the Colorado Symphony April 23rd

From The Alamo to The Philadelphia Story, this program captures the very best music of Hollywood's Golden Age of Movies in a program dedicated to the musical creations of Franz Waxman and the films of John Wayne. Richard Kaufman conducts the music that made the movies you love – the movies you love! From Sunset Boulevard to The Comancheros and Bride of Frankenstein – this program has it all!

Richard Kaufman, conductor
Boettcher Concert Hall
April 23rd

Live Webcast of Alisa Weilerstein's Berliner Philharmoniker Debut April 27

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein’s Debut With The Berliner Philharmoniker And Daniel Barenboim Tuesday, April 27 Webcast Live Through The Digital Concert Hall

Cellist Alisa Weilerstein’s debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker and conductor Daniel Barenboim on Tuesday, April 27 will be webcast live through the Orchestra’s Digital Concert Hall enabling audiences worldwide to watch her debut performance.

Ms. Weilerstein will perform Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor at the Berlin Philharmonie. The sold-out concert will also include the Prelude to Act 3 of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor. Tickets to watch the concert live online cost 9.90 EUR (approximately $14) and are available from www.berliner-philharmoniker.de/dch. The concert begins at 8 p.m. in Berlin , which will be 2 p.m. EDT/1 p.m. CDT/11 a.m PDT. A few days after the concert, it will also become available in the video archive of the Digital Concert Hall.

On Saturday, May 1st the Berliner Philharmoniker, Mr. Barenboim and Ms. Weilerstein will present the same program at the Sheldonian Theatre at the University of Oxford in England . This concert is the Orchestra’s annual European Concert that is held in a different European city each year to commemorate the founding of the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1882. This concert will be televised worldwide ( U.S. network and air date to be confirmed) and also released on DVD by the Berliner Philharmoniker.

Following her Berliner Philharmoniker concerts, Ms. Weilerstein will return to the U.S to make her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and music director Gustavo Dudamel on Thursday, May 6 at 8:00 p.m. performing the Dvorak Cello Concerto. The program will be repeated on Friday, May 7 at 11:00 a.m. and Saturday, May 8 at 8:00 p.m. These concerts will also mark Ms. Weilerstein’s Walt Disney Concert Hall debut. In December 2009 Ms. Weilerstein and Gustavo Dudamel performed this concerto together with the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra on a tour of Venezuela .

Ms. Weilerstein will then embark on a busy summer season that includes performances at the Spoleto Festival USA, the Virginia Arts Festival, Tanglewood and the Aspen Music Festival. She will return to Europe in July for performances at the Bad Kissengen Festival in Germany , the Delft Festival in the Netherlands and the Edinburgh Festival with the Minnesota Orchestra among other European festivals.

Twenty-eight-year-old Ms. Weilerstein has attracted widespread attention for playing that combines a natural virtuosic command and technical precision with impassioned musicianship. In November 2009 Ms. Weilerstein was invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to take part in the White House Music Series Classical Music Student Workshop and Concert. She is also a Celebrity Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

San Francisco Symphony's Keeping Score Website Nominated for Best Education Site in 14th Annual Webby Awards

Fans can vote online to help KeepingScore.org win the Web’s top honor

The San Francisco Symphony’s Keeping Score website has been nominated for Best Education Site in the 14th Annual Webby Awards. Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, the Webby Award is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Web.

The KeepingScore.org website was launched in 2006 and redesigned in 2009 to accompany the SF Symphony’s PBS-TV Keeping Score documentary series, hosted by Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas. KeepingScore.org explores the music and stories of some of the world’s most groundbreaking composers. Designed to appeal to high school and college age students and their teachers, KeepingScore.org also appeals to music lovers of all ages who want to learn more about classical music. Composers Ludwig van Beethoven, Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Hector Berlioz, Charles Ives and Dmitri Shostakovich are featured on the site.

The richly interactive site enables users to follow scores for Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, as explanatory text and graphics unfold in time with the recordings. Exercises and games on the site allow the visitor to manipulate melody, balance, and other musical elements of a particular piece, or to play a simple conducting game led by Tilson Thomas to Stravinsky’s music, among other highlights. KeepingScore.org also makes use of extensive audio and video to explore the composers’ pertinent musical techniques as well as their personal stories. An historical timeline takes users deep into the composers’ political, social, and cultural worlds. KeepingScore.org is also a free, deep resource for teachers, and offers free downloadable lesson plans created by educators who have experienced the Keeping Score Education program. The website was developed by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony staff, with the guidance of musicologists and educators, and web development firm Rolling Orange of San Mateo, CA.

Other education sites nominated are Unit 9’s Simple Machines for the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry; Aol’s We Choose the Moon; Your Life, Your Money by WNED/PBS.org; and the National Film Board of Canada’s Waterlife.nfb.ca. The YouTube Symphony Orchestra website was also nominated in the Music category. Tilson Thomas was deeply involved in that project, helping choose musicians who auditioned through video on the site, and leading the orchestra’s performance at Carnegie Hall last April.

Webby winners will be announced on May 4 and honored at a star-studded ceremony in New York City on June 14, where they will have an opportunity to deliver one of The Webby Awards’ famous five-word speeches. Past Webby Award winners—and their speeches—include Al Gore (“Please don’t recount this vote.”), Stephen Colbert (“ Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. ”), and Michel Gondry (“Keyboards are full of germs.”).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What is Wrong With Opera...

...and by extension Classical Music in general.

This is from the Blog of a cousin of mine. She is 30 years old.

Then, I got all gussied up and went to the opera with another friend. It was a medley of opera arias. Given that it was my very first opera experience, I did enjoy it and I thought it was entertaining. It was in direct contrast to the mountain biking movie from the night before :-} It was really cool to see all the elderly people out and about enjoying life. I want to be one of those old people {someday, not right now, but someday}.
Yep - the young people look at opera as something to do when they are OLD!

Why you may ask?

Because we constantly re-hash old music and old productions. Because the new music bears little or no relation to the rest of the 'modern' music world. Because story has changed - the average scene in a film in 1940 was 4 minutes long - it is now 40 seconds. Because the audience is old, young people may feel out of place - manners, social customs and behaviors can all feel stiff and too reserved for the young.

Solution?

It is tough, because those older patrons are the lifeblood of any opera or symphony so you cannot push them away by mucking too much with tradition. We have a 75 year old acquaintance who attends every production but recently threatened to never return because the company had the nerve not to use the Zeffirelli production!

Opera companies and symphonies should make a sincere effort to perform more new music. Just to clarify my stance I need to mention that the moniker 'New Music' has been apprehended by the atonal and experimental crowd and the majority of musicians that are dedicated to 'New Music' are focused on chamber works that may not find broad audience acceptance.

When I say new music I mean music that is being written now, no matter the style or genre. The soundtrack for the film Up is just as much new music as the latest composition being played by The Playground.

Maybe somebody needs to create a new young opera company that performs only new works targeted towards younger viewers composed of music they can identify with and story-lines that speak to the problems of their times.

Chip and I are writing just such an opera. It will require a tenor with a fully developed bottom end who can sing with a rock and roll edge. It will require a mezzo with fashionista appeal. It will require the orchestra to cope with driving rhythms and to welcome electric guitars and drum kits into the pit. It will be told in story segments familiar to film lovers and the characters will speak in the vernacular. (To hear some of this work in progress click here and listen to It Must Be Fate)Does this mean that our opera will be relegated only to adventurous amateur companies that do not rely on older patrons. I hope not.

I hope that out there are some adventurous program directors who want to attract a younger audience. I hope there are others who can envision a future for big chorus opera to rival the greats of the past. I hope that we can convince the young ones they do not have to wait til they are old to truly enjoy opera.

First we have to get them to the opera house.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Grammy Award-Winning Mezzo-Soprano Susan Graham Returns to Her Native Texas for Role Debut as Handel’s Xerxes at Houston Grand Opera

So far this season, Susan Graham has triumphed in Berlioz’s Damnation de Faust at Lyric Opera of Chicago, in Strauss’s Rosenkavalier at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, in Mahler’s Rückert-Lieder with the San Francisco Symphony, and in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas on a West Coast tour. Now the Grammy Award-winning mezzo returns to her native Texas for a climactic challenge: singing the tyrannical, flamboyant title role of Handel’s Xerxes at Houston Grand Opera, from April 30 to May 14.

A renowned Handelian, Graham enjoyed tremendous success in her 2008 performances of Handel’s Ariodante in San Francisco. The Wall Street Journal wrote of her Ariodante: “There can be few living singers who can do such spellbinding justice both to Handel’s stark emotions and his heavenly music as Susan Graham… . She was totally compelling both in romantic ecstasy and in abject dismay.” The San Francisco Chronicle joined in the praise, adding that her performance “was marked by nobility and technical bravura. Her coloratura execution was flawless, and the expressive depth of her ‘Scherza infida’ was, if anything, even more astonishing.”

For Xerxes at Houston Grand Opera, Graham will star in Nicholas Hytner’s Laurence Olivier Award-winning production – lauded during its original English National Opera run as “London’s most successful Handel staging ever” (Guardian, U.K). The Times of London called the production “a revelation.” Graham will portray the Persian “king of kings”, the love-struck Xerxes (Serse in the Italian), who opens the opera with what is probably the most famous non-religious aria in Handel’s vast output. Sometimes known as a love song to a tree, “Ombra mai fù” is the melody long referred to in instrumental arrangements as Handel’s “Largo”.

eighth blackbird presents world premiere of Five Memos by Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez at NYC’s Look & Listen Festival on May 7

Grammy Award-winning sextet also reprises two celebrated programs:
“The Only Moving Thing” for Minneapolis debut at Walker Art Center (May 1) and “Meanwhile” at People’s Symphony Concert in New York City (May 8)

“Given the ferocious virtuosity of the group’s members, … there seems to be nothing they can’t do, musically or otherwise.” – Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

eighth blackbird gets a flying start in May with three important new music events, reprising “The Only Moving Thing” for its Minneapolis debut at the prestigious Walker Art Center on May 1; unveiling the world premiere of Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez’s Five Memos at New York City’s innovative Look & Listen Festival on May 7; and presenting the playful “Meanwhile” program at the People’s Symphony Concert series, also in Manhattan, the following night.

The Grammy-winning sextet makes its first Minneapolis appearance at the Walker Art Center, one of the nation’s “big five” modern art museums, on Saturday, May 1 at 8pm. “The Only Moving Thing”, eighth blackbird’s kinetic program of newly commissioned works, features five of today’s most prominent names in music and dance, juxtaposing Steve Reich’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Double Sextet with another eighth blackbird commission, the music/theater piece singing in the dead of night by Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, with stage direction by Susan Marshall.

Double Sextet (2007), Steve Reich’s new work for the group, represents a return to the rhythmic intensity and drive that is synonymous with his most venerated works. On learning that it had won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize, Reich admitted: “I’m very glad that this particular piece got [the award], because I do think it’s one of the better pieces I’ve done in the past few years.” He was not alone; Tim Munro, eighth blackbird’s flutist, explained: “The piece is a skillful, imaginative, and engaging distillation of Reich’s work over the past 40 years, featuring funky riffs, soulful lyricism, and playful banter. The adrenalin rush we get performing this piece is very intense, and it leaves us wired for the whole night. It’s certainly as close as I’ll ever get to being a rock star.” He added, “We’re not surprised by the award, given the overwhelmingly positive reception with which the piece has been received around the world.” One such enthusiastic response came from Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed, who described the work as a “kind of explosion of fractured rhythms that never ceases to amaze the ear” and pronounced eighth blackbird’s interpretation “a really good, rocking, rollicking performance.” Pulsing with energy and life, Double Sextet, which is scored for twelve musicians, will feature eighth blackbird in tandem with Minneapolis’s own new music ensemble Zeitgeist.

“The Only Moving Thing” couples Reich’s masterpiece with another of the sextet’s commissions, singing in the dead of night (2008), an intrepid collaboration between New York mavericks David Lang, Michael Gordon, and Julia Wolfe – the three-composer collective who founded Bang on a Can – and groundbreaking choreographer and MacArthur Fellow Susan Marshall. Inspired by eighth blackbird’s signature predilection for memorization and the embodiment of music through movement, singing in the dead of night is a continuous weave of music and motion that was described in the UK’s Guardian as “mesmerizing.” The group’s “virtuosic, polished” performance won praise from Allan Kozinn in the New York Times, who confirmed how effectively Marshall’s stage direction “reflected the music’s energy.”

The May 1 performance will be recorded by American Public Media’s Performance Today for broadcast and streaming later in May; this will mark the premiere concert broadcast of Reich’s prize-winning work.

On Friday, May 7 at 8pm, eighth blackbird headlines a program of premieres at New York’s annual Look & Listen Festival. Presenting new music in the intimate setting of local modern art galleries, Look & Listen “stands out, even in a very crowded field, as a genuinely innovative series” (John Schaefer, WNYC), while “exemplif[ying] the Lower Midtown sound at its best...[and] offer[ing] a cross-section of freethinking New Yorkish music” (Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise). This season, the festival presents its first commission, Five Memos (2010) by Dr. Carlos Sánchez-Gutiérrez, which was written expressly for eighth blackbird. The Mexican-born composer, a recipient of the Mozart Medal and awards from the Guggenheim, Fulbright, Barlow, Rockefeller, Bogliasco, and Koussevitzky Foundations, also won a 2008 Fromm Music Foundation commission from which Five Memos results. On May 7 at Chelsea Art Museum, against a backdrop of art by French abstract painter Jean Miotte, eighth blackbird will present the work’s world premiere, coupled with another piece written especially for the group: Missy Mazzoli’s Still Life with Avalanche (2008). Still Life was influenced by indie rock, and Mazzoli describes it as “a pile of melodies collapsing in a chaotic free fall, sketching out a strange and evocative sonic landscape.”