. Interchanging Idioms: June 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Symphony on the Rocks

The Colorado Symphony plays the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, July 5th

The Colorado Symphony, led by Associate Conductor Scott O’Neil, brings favorite symphonic classics to Red Rocks Amphitheatre. This perfect summer program includes Adventures on Earth from ET by John Williams, Berlioz’ Roman Carnival Overture, Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, selections from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Elgar’s Enigma Variations, as well as patriotic favorites and Tchaikovsky’s legendary 1812 Overture. This concert is free to the public.

A $10 parking fee per vehicle applies for Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

The Colorado Symphony performs a full line-up of summer outdoor concerts in July, as well as a special concert at Boettcher Concert Hall in celebration of the Biennial of the Americas on July 24. Visit the Colorado Symphony’s website at www.coloradosymphony.org for more information or call the Colorado Symphony Box Office at 303.623.7876.

Monday, June 28, 2010

July 4th the Boston Pops Release Recording of World Premiere Performance of The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers

On July 4, the Boston Pops will release a CD featuring the live recording of the world premiere performances of The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers, which took place at Symphony Hall May 18 & 19 with guest narrators Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Cherry Jones, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, under the direction of Keith Lockhart. The album includes a new recording of the Boston Pops signature, John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. The CD will be released on July 4th in connection with the Boston Pops 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular, among the nation's largest and most historic Independence Day celebrations, and will be sold along the Charles River Esplanade, in addition to traditional CD outlets described below. The Dream Lives On will be performed during the July 4 concert with WBZ-TV’s Jack Williams and Lisa Hughes, and acclaimed local actors Will LeBow and Jeremiah Kissel.

The Dream Lives On, priced at $3.99, will be available for purchase by the general public on July 4 in various locations along the Charles River Esplanade and online at www.bostonpops.org/shop. The CD will also be available for purchase at the Symphony Shop and on Amazon.com. The CD of The Dream Lives On is now available for pre-sale at www.bostonpops.org/kennedy. The album will also be available for download as a complete CD www.bostonpops.org/digital. Music sold in HD stereo AIFF and WMA formatting will cost $3.49. Music sold in MP3 formatting will cost $2.99. The MP3 album will also be made available on iTunes, CDBaby, and Amazon.com.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra announces successful

Major progress made in ticket sales, attendance and attracting new audiences Highest ticket revenue for all concerts in a decade and largest total attendance since 2002

The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra recently concluded its 2009/2010 season. It marks the second season since implementation of the SLSO’s Building Our Business plan launched in June 2008 and targeted heavily on audience development. In key areas, significant progress was made:

Key Statistics Total ticket revenues and paid attendance for all concerts at Powell Hall for the 2009-10 Season (110 concerts) as compared with prior year - 2008-09 Season (109 concerts)

  • $6.47m – up 16% or $890,000
  • 197,107 seats sold – up 10.2% or 18,270 seats
  • 1,792 Avg. attendance per concert – up 9.2% or 151 seats
  • 35% or 39 concerts had 2,000 or more seats sold

Total ticket revenues and paid attendance for classical Orchestral Series concerts (60 classical subscription concerts) for the 2009-10 Season as compared with prior year - 2008-09 Season (60 classical subscription concerts), representing first year of classical ticket revenue growth since 2003

  • $3.99m – up 7.3% or $272,000
  • 100,485 seats sold – up 6% or 5,637 seats
  • 1,675 Avg. attendance per concert – up 6% or 94 seats
  • 25% or 15 concerts had 2,000 or more seats sold

New buyers highly prevalent in two main product lines in 2009-10 – Orchestral Series and SLSO Presents

  • 50% of SLSO Presents purchases represent new buyers
  • 43% of Orchestral Series single ticket purchases represent new buyers

Total ticket revenues and paid attendance growth over a two-year period for all concerts at Powell Hall for the 2009-10 Season (110 concerts) as compared with 2007-08 Season (109 concerts), turning around five years of sales and attendance declines

  • $6.47m – up 33.7% or $1.63m
  • 197,107 seats sold – up 18.8% or 31,242 seats
  • 1,792 Avg. attendance per concert – up 17.7% or 270 seats
“The 2009-2010 Season, the second season since the launch of our Building Our Business plan, has allowed us to build on initial progress made in 2008-09 and make even deeper inroads in audience development as witnessed by double-digit revenue growth, significant upward trends in attendance, and unprecedented acquisition of new customers while continuing to build the artistic profile of the orchestra,” said Fred Bronstein , President & Executive Director of the SLSO.

The orchestra’s 130th season included a two-week Beethoven festival and a spring focus on outstanding violinists; audience favorites like Handel’s Messiah, Holst’s The Planets, and Mozart’s Requiem, and highly innovative commissioned projects by Meredith Monk and Rollo Dilworth as well as major 20th-century works like Tippett’s monumental A Child of Our Time. SLSO Presents expanded with additional specials including movie-based performances and animation-inspired specials like The Blue Planet, The Movie Music of John William s, The Magical Music of Walt Disney, Bugs Bunny on Broadway and more including a special performance by Liza Minnelli.

During the 2009-10 Season, the orchestra’s profile outside of Saint Louis has also been enhanced by expanded touring that included the SLSO’s annual appearance at Carnegie Hall, and a major four-city, five-concert California tour including stops at LA’s Walt Disney Concert Hall and San Francisco’s Davies Hall, the first such tour for the orchestra since 1999.

Complete financial results from FY10 will be reported following the close of the fiscal year on August 31, 2010.

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

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Distinguished pianist Simone Dinnerstein performs Bach with the Aspen Concert Orchestra

“An utterly distinctive voice in the forest of Bach interpretation” – The New York Times

At 8:30pm on Saturday, August 14 2010, distinguished pianist Simone Dinnerstein will return to Aspen Music Festival to make her debut with the Aspen Concert Orchestra. Lead by Maestro Case Scaglione, Ms. Dinnerstein will perform J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052 and Keyboard Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056 and J. S. Bach’s English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808 at Harris Concert Hall (960 North Third Street). The Aspen Concert Orchestra will also perform J.C. Bach’s Grand Overture in D major, op. 18, no. 6, W. XC1.

"...her mastery of shifts in style and interpretation really held the audience captive" - Interchanging Idioms

Simone Dinnerstein recently returned from Berlin where she recorded her first album for Sony Classical. In Aspen, she will perform three pieces from the album – J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052 and Keyboard Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056 and Bach’s English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808. The recording features Ms. Dinnerstein as piano soloist with Kammerorchester der Staatskapelle Berlin (performing without a conductor) and also includes transcriptions of two Bach Chorale Preludes – Ferruccio Busoni’s transcription of “Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ,” and Myra Hess’s transcription of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” BWV 147. The CD will be released worldwide in January 2011, and will be engineered by Grammy-winning producer Adam Abeshouse.

American pianist Simone Dinnerstein has fast been gaining international attention since making a triumphant New York recital debut at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall in 2005, performing Bach's Goldberg Variations. Recent and upcoming performances include Ms. Dinnerstein's recital debuts at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Vienna Konzerthaus, the Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival, the Aspen and Ravinia festivals, in Cologne, Paris, London, Copenhagen, Vilnius, Bremen, Rome, and Lisbon, and at the Stuttgart Bach Festival; as well as debut performances with the Dresden Philharmonic, Czech Philharmonic, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Kristjan Järvi's Absolute Ensemble, the Tokyo Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra. In New York she has performed on the People's Symphony series at Town Hall, on Lincoln Center's Great Performers series, and in three sold-out recitals at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is also a frequent performer at (Le) Poisson Rouge in the West Village. In July 2009, she made her debut with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, playing Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 2.

Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 8:30pm
Harris Concert Hall 960 North Third Street Aspen, CO

Tickets: $55 at http://aspenmusicfestival.com or 970-925-9042

Program:
J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in D minor, BWV 1052
J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in F minor, BWV 1056
J.S. Bach’s English Suite No. 3 in G minor, BWV 808
J.C. Bach’s Grand Overture in D Major, op. 18, no.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Performs Gershwin’s American Classic, Porgy and Bess in Concert, July 22

Program features Indira Mahajan (Bess) and Derrick Parker (Porgy) with the Heritage Signature Chorale

Originally scheduled in February but cancelled due to inclement weather, Music Director Marin Alsop will finally lead guest vocalists Indira Mahajan, Alison Buchanan, Larry Hylton, Derrick Parker, the D.C.-based Heritage Signature Chorale and the BSO on Thursday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in Concert. Porgy and Bess, dubbed an American folk opera, features the popular, genre-crossing song “Summertime,” as well as other favorites “A Woman Is A Sometime Thing” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.” The program will open with Gershwin’s Overture to Girl Crazy, followed by another Gershwin favorite An American in Paris.

George Gershwin’s operatic masterpiece Porgy and Bess opened on Broadway in 1935. The original cast was entirely African-American, with Eva Jessye as choral director. Such a casting decision was artistically bold for the time but nevertheless well received by audiences. Critics, however, were not convinced, citing racial issues and formal construction as inherent problems in the work. It was not until 1976, when Houston Grand Opera performed the work using Gershwin’s complete score that critics were able to accept Porgy and Bess as an American folk opera and hail it as an artistic success. With her “graceful stage presence” and “amber-tinted voice” (Charles Downey, The Washington Post), Indira Mahajan joins the BSO for the role of Bess. Mahajan and fellow vocalists, Alison Buchanan (soprano), Larry Hylton (tenor), Derrick Parker (bass-baritone), as well as the Heritage Signature Chorale will team up under the baton of Marin Alsop to bring this Gershwin classic to life.

Porgy & Bess
Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Marin Alsop, conductor
Indira Mahajan, soprano
Alison Buchanan, soprano
Larry Hylton, tenor
Derrick Parker, bass-baritone
Heritage Signature Chorale
Stanley J. Thurston, music director

Gershwin: Overture to Girl Crazy
Gershwin: An American in Paris
Gershwin: Porgy and Bess in Concert

Tickets for this performance range from $19 to $55 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Performs the Music of Michael Jackson, July 15

Conductor Larry Baird leads BSO and vocalist James Delisco in hits from “ABC” to “Thriller”

Conductor Larry Baird will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a Michael Jackson Tribute, joined by vocalists James Delisco, Felicia Barton and Kelli Reisen on Thursday, July 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Michael Jackson fans can enjoy an entire evening filled with music spanning the 40 years of The King of Pop’s influential and celebrated career with the power of a live orchestra.

Michael Jackson has won hundreds of awards over his lifetime including 13 Grammy Awards and 26 American Music Awards. This performance explores his early years with the Jackson 5 through his mega-hit album Thriller and beyond, featuring multi-platinum hits like “ABC,” “I'll Be There” and “Got to Be There,” “Beat It,” “Rock With You,” “The Way You Make Me Feel” and many more. Jackson’s death in 2009 brought his fame and decades of musical influence into perspective for all music-lovers. His albums continued to sell more than ever and Sony Music Entertainment agreed to release seven posthumous albums throughout the decade following his death.

Vocalist James Delisco will take the lead for the BSO’s special tribute to Michael Jackson. In 2005, Delisco won E! Network’s reality TV contest, “The Entertainer.” Sir Elton John called Delisco "great" and moved the late Peter Jennings to tell Delisco "man you rock!” Delisco has starred on Broadway in Smokey Joe's Cafe and was featured in the hit musical Ragtime. This will be his first appearance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Michael Jackson Tribute
Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 7:30 p.m. – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Larry Baird, conductor
James Delisco, vocalist
Felicia Barton, background vocalist
Kelli Reisen, background vocalist

Tickets are $23 to $50 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000, 877.BSO.1444 or BSOmusic.org.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's in Opera News for July 2010

Opera – until the advent of film, perhaps the ultimate in multisensory spectacle – has long enjoyed a special relationship with the movies, a relationship that Opera News explores in the July issue. The cover story looks into the hugely successful “Met: Live in HD” series, while additional features address such phenomena as composer biopics; Zeffirelli’s big-screen opera adaptations; behind the scenes of The Great Caruso, with Mario Lanza and stars of the Met; HD transmissions of independent opera productions in Emerging Pictures’ new “Opera in Cinema” series; and the adoption of Hollywood-style marketing techniques in L.A.’s classical music scene.

Since its first transmission, in December 2006 – a condensed version of Mozart’s Magic Flute – “The Met: Live in HD” series has gone from strength to strength, winning both Emmy and Peabody Awards and bringing superlative live Met performances to opera-lovers all over the world. The brainchild of Metropolitan Opera General Manager Peter Gelb, the project transmits high-definition video, live via satellite, to select venues, primarily movie theaters, in the United States and beyond. The success of the series, now in its fourth season, has enormous implications for opera-lovers and presenters everywhere, building a larger audience for the Met and generating excitement about opera and the arts at a local level. It is a measure of the series’ national success, for example, that audiences in Poughkeepsie, NY can once again enjoy opera performances in the Bardavon, which was originally built as an opera house in 1869 and is now returning to its roots with presentations of “The Met: Live in HD”. Overseas, the project has received a similarly warm welcome; when one patron claimed that seeing The Barber of Seville “Live in HD” in South London was even better than live at the Met, Gelb groaned, “We must be doing too good a job!” Barry Singer reports, in “Screen Tests”.

According to commentator Norman Lebrecht, “the composer biopic is a long-established Hollywood niche” whose “heyday was the mid-’40s.” It is to this period that we owe some of the most enduring examples, including Charles Vidor’s A Song to Remember (1945), a life of Chopin starring Merle Oberon as George Sand opposite Cornel Wilde as the ailing Pole. Rhapsody in Blue (1945) presents Robert Alda as George Gershwin; Night and Day (1946) offers Cary Grant as Cole Porter; in Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), Robert Walker plays Jerome Kern, while in Song of Love (1947), he portrays a young Brahms smitten by Katharine Hepburn’s Clara Schumann. More recent attempts to revive the genre include Milos Forman’s Amadeus (1984), a life of Mozart featuring F. Murray Abraham as Salieri, and Immortal Beloved (1994), starring Gary Oldman as Beethoven. Ray Sawhill, who “does the best think-pieces of anyone around,” according to legendary film critic Pauline Kael, revisits some of his own favorites, in “Movie Music”.

Since the 1950s, Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli has also been a director of major opera productions on both sides of the Atlantic. After starting out directing Rossini, he went on to collaborate with Maria Callas on La traviata (Dallas, 1959); Tosca, also starring Tito Gobbi (Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, 1964); and Norma (Paris Opera, 1964). His work for the Metropolitan Opera includes La bohème, which opened in 1981 and has gone on to have more performances than any other production in the company’s history, and Tosca, a beloved staple since 1985. In the 1980s, Zeffirelli made a series of successful films adapting opera for the screen, including La traviata (1982), starring Plácido Domingo and Teresa Stratas, and Otello (1986), with Domingo opposite Katia Ricciarelli. More recently, he directed Anna Netrebko and Renée Fleming in an episode of “The Met: Live in HD” (2008). Stephanie Zacharek, a member of the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle, takes a look at how Zeffirelli adapted his directorial style for the big screen, in “Vista Vision”.

Nearly 40 years after the release of MGM’s 1951 biopic The Great Caruso, which stars Mario Lanza as the immortal tenor, Caruso’s son reminisced: “Vocally and musically, The Great Caruso is a thrilling motion picture, and it has helped many young people discover opera and even become singers themselves.” He added, “I can think of no other tenor, before or since Mario Lanza, who could have risen with comparable success to the challenge of playing Caruso in a screen biography.” Indeed, both Domingo and José Carreras have cited the movie as an inspiration to them when they were growing up. Besides Lanza, the highly fictionalized life features Ann Blyth as Caruso’s wife Dorothy, alongside such stars of the Met as Dorothy Kirsten, Jarmila Novotná, Blanche Thebom, and Lucine Amara. In “Mass Appeal”, Eric Myers, co-author of Screen Deco and Forties Screen Style, looks into the backstory of this most influential of opera movies.

In the past few years, film marketing and distribution company Emerging Pictures has begun to focus on distributing opera films from European opera houses and festivals such as La Scala and the Salzburg Festival. Its “Opera in Cinema” series presents such productions as Aida from Austria’s Bregenz Festival, with Tatiana Serjan, Iano Tamar, and Rubens Pelizzari, and Simon Boccanegra from La Scala, starring Domingo alongside Anja Harteros and Ferruccio Furlanetto. Eric Myers screens some high-definition presentations from the series, and reports back in “Opera Indies”.

The typical mainstream Hollywood movie is promoted with a poster, trailer, TV commercial spot, press junket, premiere, schwag, and more. As the New Yorker’s Polly Frost discovers in “Market Value”, some of these Hollywood-style marketing techniques are now being adopted by Los Angeles’s classical-music scene.

Also in the July issue, in “What Dreams May Come,” New York Times contributor David Belcher investigates the lengthy gestation of Life Is a Dream by American composer Lewis Spratlan. The work’s second act won a Pulitzer Prize back in 2000, yet the complete opera’s long-awaited world premiere is only now being staged at Santa Fe Opera. Conductor Leonard Slatkin and director Kevin Newbury lead a cast that features Ellie Dehn, Roger Honeywell, James Maddalena, and John Cheek.

Santa Fe Opera also presents Canadian baritone Joshua Hopkins, who sings both Mozart’s Papageno and Sid in Britten’s Albert Herring. Winner of the 2006 Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award and the Verbier Festival Academy’s 2008 Prix d'Honneur, Hopkins is the subject of July’s “Sound Bites” column with Editor-in-Chief F. Paul Driscoll.

Finally, comic icon Madeline Kahn, Oscar-nominated as Best Supporting Actress for roles in both Paper Moon (1973) and Blazing Saddles (1974), started her career on Broadway and in fact almost chose a career in opera, as William V. Madison recalls in “Sweet Mystery”. As ever, there are special extras exclusively for subscribers and Met patrons at the substantially redesigned Opera News web site, including interviews with conductor Stewart Robertson, who paces this month’s performances of Aaron Copland’s The Tender Land at Glimmerglass Opera, and Will Pomerantz, who stages Oscar Straus’s Shaw-inspired operetta, The Chocolate Soldier, at Bard’s SummerScape.

Conductor Kristjan Järvi makes guest appearance with the National Repertory Orchestra

At 7:30pm on Wednesday, August 4, 2010, dynamic Estonian-born and American-raised conductor Kristjan Järvi will make a special guest appearance with the National Repertory Orchestra at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center (150 Adams Way). The diverse concert includes Gustav Holst’s Jupiter from The Planets; Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major, K. 364 with Karin Andreasen, violin and Elizabeth Breslin, viola; and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra.

The National Repertory Orchestra is a preeminent intensive fellowship that equips young musicians for orchestral music careers while providing the highest-level of musical experience for all stakeholders. During their summer fellowship, National Repertory Orchestra musicians also take part in the NRO's Education and Community Engagement Program, which prepares the musicians for an active role in the communities they will be serving. Career development classes such as mock auditions, contract negotiations, finance for musicians, and training in music therapy and early childhood interaction, address the often neglected extra-musical aspects of being a professional orchestra musician.

Kristjan Järvi is a unique musical personality pushing classical music borders with fresh ideas, charisma, and technical prowess. In addition to being a celebrated conductor, Mr. Järvi gives back to the music community with his innovative approach to youth outreach. He is founding conductor and music director of the Baltic Youth Philharmonic (BYP), which brings together young musicians from the ten countries that surround the Baltic Sea. With the support of former German Chancellor Schröder, Valery Gergiev and Esa-Pekka Salonen, the Baltic Youth Philharmonic aims to become an education and performance hub for the Baltic region. In 2009 the BYP opened Bremen Musikfest and Usedom Music Festival and toured the Baltic Sea nations. In 2010 it will return to Usedom, and will perform in Gdansk, Copenhagen, Pärnu, St. Petersburg, Riga, and Berlin.

Kristjan Järvi's name has become synonymous with artistic and cultural diversity, illustrated in his roles as artistic advisor to the Basel Chamber Orchestra and founder and music director of Absolute Ensemble. He has combined his classical roots and affinity for traditional repertoire with an infectious enthusiasm for creating original programs, and his imaginative programming has been embraced by leaders of classical, jazz, and world music spheres alike. Mr. Järvi's authentic commitment to all genres is reflected in his collaborations with Arvo Pärt, Tan Dun, John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, H.K Gruber, Renee Fleming, Joe Zawinul, Benny Andersson, Goran Bregovic, Paquito d'Rivera, Eitetsu Hayashi, and Marcel Khalife.

This year, Mr. Järvi will record Arvo Pärt's newly-commissioned orchestral and choral version of Stabat Mater with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra for Sony Classical. The culmination of a lifelong friendship between Kristjan Järvi and Arvo Pärt, the disc also includes Pärt’s Symphony No. 3 and his Cantique des degrès for choir and orchestra. Entitled Cantique, the album will be released in September 2010 in celebration of Pärt’s 75th birthday.

In 2009, Mr. Järvi released Mahler's little-known arrangement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra on Preiser Records, as well a highly praised recording of Bernstein's epic Mass on the Chandos label. In March 2010 he released Absolute Zawinul – the late Joe Zawinul's last studio recording – with the genre-bending ensemble he founded in New York in 1993, Absolute Ensemble. Other recent releases include Haydn's Paris Symphonies on Preiser and Schmidt's Das Buch mit Sieben Siegeln on Chandos. Mr. Järvi has more than 25 albums to his credit, and a list of accolades that includes a Swedish Grammy for Best Opera Performance, the German Record Critics Prize for Best Album and a Grammy nomination.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010 at 7:30pm
Riverwalk Center | 150 Adams Way | Breckenridge

Program:
Gustav Holst’s Jupiter from The Planets
Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat Major, K. 364 with Karin Andreasen, violin and Elizabeth Breslin, viola
Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra

When does a Composition become a Composition?

This is a great questions, originally posted by David Smooke of NewMusicBox. David discusses the process of writing a piece over a year ago, getting it performed, revised, performed again and eventually recorded (there is a YouTube video of the piece in his post). Reading through his process I thought of my own concept of when does a composition become a composition.

In some respects there is a realization of the piece at conception. I have a notebook that I keep with me and jot down ideas for pieces. Some of these are fully formed, while others are only basic concepts. Of these ideas, only 20-30% ever get moved beyond this stage (or at least that's the current rate). This is because I get too many ideas to realize them all. Even though I don't work on an idea, I keep it because I never know when I might come back to it or envelope it into another idea.

If I start to take a piece beyond the notebook stage, this is generally because I have someone interested in performing it. There is no guarantee of a performance, just the interest. This means I need to create something on paper (with little black notes) that the performer can see and consider. Should this get enough interest (in either them or me), the piece continues. However, I often find the initial idea didn't evolve the way I thought it should and the concept dies - or rather is laid to rest for potential future resurrection.

When a piece has moved beyond the first draft (which generally isn't even a complete working of the piece or even a rough piano reduction) I get energized to the point I feel I have to complete it. It is at this point a composition becomes real (for me). This point where I have to see a piece to the end is when I feel it has a life of its own - worthy of a title (whether it already had one or not) - and when I move it from "compositions in progress" to a folder all its own.

However, even when I'm finished with a piece, it's been handed over to the performers (and performed), I still ponder it. Should I do this or that, change this note, add (or subtract) this section??? The symphony I wrote three years ago is still undergoing this process, because I am still learning new things, techniques and ideas. This doesn't mean I feel the piece is incomplete or somehow not finished. I don't let a piece get performed unless I feel it the best it can be (for where I'm at at the moment). But, just because it's performed doesn't mean it can't still be improved. How many great composers edited their works after the initial performance???

So, when does a composition become a composition? For me, this is when I feel it has to be completed, which is long before it is performed (or even finished being composed). However, when is a composition completed? For me none of them will be truly completed until I'm dead and can no longer ponder potential changes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

WQXR Names Graham Parker, Executive Director of Orpheus Chamber, New Vice President

Tapped to Innovate WQXR’s Classical Programming for the Digital Age

Graham Parker, an innovative arts administrator, has been named to the newly-created role of Vice President of Classical 105.9 WQXR, announced New York Public Radio President and CEO Laura Walker today.

In this new role, Mr. Parker, will be responsible for envisioning and executing WQXR’s brand as a New York-rooted classical music destination with global relevance and reach. He will lead the efforts to create distinct, innovative content on multiple platforms, build strategic business relationships and cultural partnerships, and grow audience and create community among on-air, online and live audiences on WQXR 105.9, www.wqxr.org, and in the station’s Jerome L. Greene Performance Space.

“Graham’s reputation as an innovative content producer, a champion of artists, and a collaborative manager is a dazzling match for our ambitions to make WQXR a vibrant classical music platform for 21st century audiences on-air and online, in New York and around the globe,” said Ms. Walker. “We are fortunate to have found a leader who possesses such rich experience in both the artistic and business sides of classical music, as a producer of content for live and broadcast audiences, and who values both the artistic integrity of composer/ musician and the experience of the audience. I’m excited to welcome Graham to the formidable WQXR team.”

"This is an extremely exciting time to be joining WQXR, working to extend and deepen the critical place classical music radio has in New York and around the world,” said Mr. Parker. “WQXR has become, in eight short months, the most listened-to public radio station in the country, and my goal is to build on this success by bringing quality classical music to an ever expanding audience of all types and ages, on multiple platforms in distinctive and original ways.”

Mr. Parker will join WQXR on September 1, 2010, reporting to Ms. Walker and working closely with Dean Cappello, Senior Vice President of WNYC Programming and Chief Creative Officer, and the rest of the New York Public Radio senior management team. Parker will be the first Vice President for WQXR since its acquisition by New York Public Radio in Fall 2009 and its transformation from a commercial into a public radio station. Christopher Bannon, who, in addition to his role as WNYC’s Program Director, has overseen the programming on WQXR with a transition team from across the station, will continue to do so until Mr. Parker’s arrival.

Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Close Out Season with Free Concert on Boston Common, Sept 26

As part of its 125th Anniversary Celebration, Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops will give a free concert on Boston Common at 3 p.m. on September 26. This concert will be held in partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and is sponsored by Fidelity Investments and the Friends of the Public Garden with support from Normandy Real Estate partners.

The orchestra is also partnering with the Emerald Necklace Conservancy to offer Pops in the Parks, a three-part series featuring the Boston Pops Brass Quintet performing outdoors at two of Boston’s most picturesque locations—Pinebank at Jamaica Pond (June 27 and July 11) and Allerton Overlook at Olmsted Park (August 8). Concert repertoire for these three concerts ranges from Renaissance brass music to ragtime and early 20th century jazz.

In addition, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department will host Mayor Menino’s Wednesday Night Concert Pops Dance Party on Wednesday, July 21, at 7 p.m. on City Hall Plaza. This free concert, complete with a parquet dance floor, will feature Bill Elliott and the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra.

June 27, 6 p.m. – Pinebank at Jamaica Pond
Boston Pops Brass Quintet
A Program of Threes
This concert includes three works by Baroque master Johann Sebastian Bach, three colorful medieval songs specially adapted for brass quintet, three captivating chansons by Claude Debussy originally written for a cappella chorus, a three-movement modern brass quintet by British film composer Malcolm Arnold, and three jazz standards.

July 11, 6 p.m. – Pinebank at Jamaica Pond
Boston Pops Brass Quintet
A Renaissance Evening
This program features a variety of Renaissance brass music—lively dances, lyrical canzoni, and gentle ayres by long-forgotten composers. The program’s second half features show tunes from 20th century Renaissance men with works by Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, Leroy Anderson, and Henry Mancini.

July 21, 7 p.m. – City Hall Plaza
Bill Elliott and Members of the Boston Pops
Mayor Menino’s Wednesday Night Concerts’ Pops Dance Party
Bill Elliott and the Boston Pops Swing Orchestra come to City Hall Plaza for a memorable concert on July 21. Elliott has been called “the most dancer-friendly bandleader out there” for the swinging full-bodied arrangements and distinctive sound of his Los Angeles-based orchestra. He brings his energy and expertise to the Pops’ own swing band musicians for an evening of light-hearted, witty, and romantic feel-good music.

August 8, 6 p.m. – Allerton Overlook at Olmsted Park
Boston Pops Brass Quintet
Old-Time Brass
This old-time brass band concert will feature works written specifically for the unique sound of the brass band, including Gustav Holst’s classic Second Military Suite in F. The concert also includes ragtime, early 20th century jazz, and selections from the American Brass Band Journal, including marches, ballads, and quick-steps that were played by bands in the Civil War Armies.

September 26, 3 p.m. – Boston Common
Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops
The Boston Pops concludes its free parks concert series in September on the Boston Common, presenting a full orchestra concert with conductor Keith Lockhart and celebrating the orchestra’s 125-year history. The concert will be preceded by performances from the winners of the Fidelity Futurestage® Music Competition.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What is it to be a Fluff Composer (verses a serious Composer)???

There is an ongoing discussion between my friends and I --one that obviously is discussed in other musical circles as well. In "A conversation with John Adams", an article by Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post, the conversation turns toward a book Adams is writing, a novel, about how we listen to music.

Adams says. "I realized that the best way to do this was through fiction. My character is a kind of composer, but he's not a composer like me. He's very much the image of what a serious composer should be."

You have to know classical music to understand this remark. By "serious" composer, Adams means someone who writes stringently mathematical and intellectually "rigorous" music, the kind of composer who reigned supreme over the tiny audiences gathered in academe 30 or 40 years ago. By this standard, Adams would be a composer of fluff, even though his music is beautifully crafted, endlessly engaging and has won over audiences throughout the world.

It's this last line that tends to really be the defining point, "won over audiences." We tend to think of "popular" music as something less crafted, more "fluffy." Philip Glass and the minimalist movement wasn't particularly popular when it first arrived on the classical music scene. As mentioned in a previous post about recent articles by Kyle Gann, the academic world tends to want their composers to be less popular, more avant-garde, more "serious" - and yet much of the compositional language currently encouraged in academia comes from composition styles of 50 years ago. How is this avant-garde?

There are new music groups, like "Bang on a Can" which are striving to create new music that reaches a broader audience. They also tend to get labeled as "popularist" composers/performers. Maybe it's just 'sour grapes' by the academic community griping because these "popular" composers have found a way to gain an audience where numerous other "serious" composers are still struggling to perform for anyone outside their university circle of friends.

Beethoven was extremely popular during his life time, as was Liszt and Brahms. Their music is anything but "fluffy." Their music is held up as the standard of great music of their time. Dvořák, on the other hand, is considered one of the top twenty composers to have ever lived by some polls and yet his music is generally not considered scholarly. Why - because he is popular? Having spent time studying his music I find it has all of the same qualities of these other master composers including that appeal which keeps Dvořák's music returning to the concert stage.

Composers like Elliott Carter and George Crumb are favored by the academic crowd because of the intricate interconnection of motives, yet their pieces struggle to gain the devotion of concert goers. Dvořák has similar traits in his music in terms of motivic development, but tends to be more overt in the presentation - and thus easier for the novice listener to grasp basic elements. Philip Glass spent years working as a taxi driver while attempting to gain acceptance for his music, even though he'd studied with the likes of Milhaud and Boulanger. While he has reached wide acceptance for his "minimalist" music, it wasn't over night. John Adams was a teacher and composer in residence with the San Francisco Symphony for year before winning the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for his Transmigration of Souls.

Another winner of this illustrious prize was Aaron Copland for his Appalachian Spring, 1945, a very popular classical piece. While there are also numerous other composers and pieces selected for this prize which fit nicely into the complex academic model - Carter and Crumb to name a few - popularity doesn't preclude the quality. What popularity offers that obscurity does not is the possibility of audience appeal and therefore repeat performances.

I seriously doubt if John Adams spends much time thinking about whether an audience will accept his music -- quite the opposite, he focuses on tying the various elements of the music together. In a post on his blog earbox.com he comments about the anxiety of listening to one of his pieces being performed and how part of the process is understanding the difference a live performance brings to the music. John Cage believed the performance is part of the music and thus 4'33" was created.

While George Crumb said, "It is easy to write unthinking music," I believe music that appeals isn't always unthinking music. IMHO Glass, Adams and Dvořák prove that point. Their music is rich and intelligent with a depth that may never be fully understood by the casual audience. These are composers are popular with audiences, even in the current classical music climate.

The point here is not that I think composers ought to write "fluff" music to gain audience appeal. Nor do I think composers who do not write "fluff" music are somehow missing something. What I do think is that it is possible to write music that has audience appeal is well crafted and complex. Some post-tonal composers felt insulted if the audience found their music enjoyable on first hearing. However, if the audience will never get a second chance to hear a piece, there is no benefit to forcing them through it the first time (IMHO).

I seriously doubt whether I'll ever convince the academic world of the value of music that has audience appeal (although composers like Corigliano, Larson and Higdon all write appealing music and are at least part of the academic community). Whether my own music gains wide audience acceptance or academic approval isn't necessarily on my agenda (although I must admit I'd rather have audience attendance than academic acceptance). I write what I like. If that makes my music it "fluffy" so be it. The music is crafted to the best of my ability, continues to grow and change as I do, and freely explores the techniques of generations of composers who came before me. That is all I can ask of myself.

New York City Ballet’s “Architecture of Dance: New Choreography and Music Festival” Culminates with World Premiere of Mirage

New Ballet Set to Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto and Choreographed by Peter Martins

Hailed by the New York Times as an “ambitious festival of modern music,” the “Architecture of Dance” festival has brought new music and architecture to the forefront of dance this spring. Following world premieres of three new scores by Thierry Escaich, Jay Greenberg, and Bruno Moretti and six new ballets choreographed by Melissa Barak, Mauro Bigonzetti, Wayne McGregor, Benjamin Millepied, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon, the New York City Ballet’s “Architecture of Dance: New Choreography and Music Festival” culminates on June 22 with its final premiere: Mirage, set to Esa-Pekka Salonen’s powerful Violin Concerto, with choreography by New York City Ballet’s ballet master-in-chief Peter Martins and scenic design by Santiago Calatrava. The Violin Concerto, a co-commission of the NYCB, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will receive its New York premiere with the composer conducting the New York City Ballet Orchestra with violin soloist Leila Josefowicz, the concerto’s dedicatee. When Salonen and Josefowicz premiered the work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in April, Mark Swed described it as “pure, euphoric poetry with a singular sound and voice” (Los Angeles Times).

Commissioned score by Esa-Pekka Salonen; new ballet (Mirage) by Peter Martins
World premiere: Tuesday, June 22 at 7:30pm
Wed, June 23 at 7:30pm
Sat, June 26 at 2pm and 8pm

Ticket purchases
Tickets are available through Center Charge at (212) 721-6500, through the NYCB web site, www.nycballet.com, and at the theater’s box office. Ticket prices range from $15 to $125.

The Boston Pops and Keither Lockhart Perform at McCoy Stadium with Special Guest Kenny Loggins on September 4

Tickets are Priced from General Admission Grandstand seats at $35 to VIP Field Seats at $100 with Options in-between.

The Boston Pops, featuring Keith Lockhart and the orchestra, will continue the celebration of its 125th anniversary season by performing at McCoy Stadium, home of the Pawtucket Red Sox in Pawtucket, RI on Saturday, September 4 at 7:30 pm. The Pops will be joined by singer/songwriter Kenny Loggins, whose hit songs include “Footloose,” “I’m Alright,” and “This Is It.” This concert is Loggins’ only New England area performance this year.

Though members of the Boston Pops have been featured in performances at many of the country’s leading sporting events, including those of the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics, the concert at McCoy Stadium marks the first time the full orchestra complement has ever performed in a baseball stadium and the first time they have performed an outdoor concert in the Providence area.

Portions of the proceeds from tickets sales will benefit the Hasbro’s Children’s Hospital. The Boston Pops concert at McCoy Stadium is the marquee event of the Pawtucket Arts Festival, August 27-September 26. This concert is a Boston Pops/ESI Concerts, Inc Production.

“I can’t think of a better marriage between the worlds of music and sports than that between America’s Orchestra and America’s favorite pastime,” said Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart. “The concert at McCoy Stadium on September 4, along with the Pops concert on the Boston Common later in September, gives us a chance to bring the Boston Pops 125th celebration to a wider live audience throughout the region—and it’s icing on the cake to have an opportunity to perform with the legendary Kenny Loggins in Pawtucket.”

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Bernadette Peters performance with the Saint Louis Symphony is Rescheduled

Broadway and film star Bernadette Peters’ upcoming concert with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra has been rescheduled to Friday, May 13 2011 at 7:30 p.m. Peters has recently been engaged to return to Broadway as Desiree Armfeldt in the critically-acclaimed and Tony Award-winning revival of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music. Peters joins the production this July.

Peters was previously scheduled to perform with the SLSO on September 10, 2010. Tickets purchased for this date will be honored on May 13. For more details contact the Powell Hall Box Office: 314-534-1700.

San Francisco Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas Perform Five-Concert European Tour September 2010

September 11-16 tour includes concerts in Milan and Turin and coincides with release of Orchestra’s final Mahler cycle recording, Songs with Orchestra

Soloists are mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, violinist Christian Tetzlaff, and organist Paul Jacobs

Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the

San Francisco Symphony (SFS) perform five concerts on a tour of Europe September 11-16, including three appearances at the Lucerne Festival and concerts in Milan and Turin , Italy . As acclaimed interpreters of the music of Gustav Mahler, and as part of the 2010-11 global commemoration of Mahler’s life, the Orchestra has been invited to perform the composer’s Symphony No. 5 at both the Lucerne Festival and in Turin .

On this tour, their ninth of Europe together, MTT and the Orchestra will also perform Aaron Copland’s Organ Symphony, featuring organist Paul Jacobs, and Berg’s Violin Concerto with frequent collaborator Christian Tetzlaff, both in Lucerne . Mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, lauded internationally for her mastery of French music, joins Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra for Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été in Lucerne and Milan. The Orchestra will also perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, Suite No. 2 and Valses nobles et sentimentales, Berlioz’s Roman Carnival Overture, and Wagner’s Overture to Der fliegende Holländer. These are the Orchestra’s first concerts in Europe since 2007 and their first appearance in Milan since 1987. Their last visit to Turin was in 2004.

The Lucerne Festival concerts cap the Orchestra’s multi-year residency at one of the most important classical music festivals in Europe. The residency began in 2006 with three concerts, including performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (Symphony of a Thousand), and continued with three more in September 2007, with performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 7. MTT and the Orchestra’s recordings of both Mahler symphonies won multiple Grammy Awards in 2007 and 2009, including Best Classical Album.

During the 2010-11 season, Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra are also marking the anniversaries of Mahler’s birth and death with performances of his music at home in Davies Symphony Hall, and with the September 2010 international release of Songs with Orchestra, the final recording of its Grammy Award-winning Mahler cycle, featuring Susan Graham and baritone Thomas Hampson. The Symphony’s new third season of its Keeping Score PBS Television series, hosted by MTT and scheduled to air in spring 2011, is devoted to Gustav Mahler. In May 2011, the Orchestra returns to perform Mahler Symphonies Nos. 2, 6, and 9 on tour throughout Europe , including a rare four-concert engagement at the famed Vienna Konzerthaus as part of the city’s commemoration of the Mahler anniversaries.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Movie "I Am Love" features music by John Adams

While John Adams is known for composing music for many different forms, films is not a genre he is familiar with. "I Am Love", featuring Tilda Swinton first appeared at the Venice Film Festival in Italy September last year and in limited release in the US as of today. A tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan. The film follows the fall of the haute bourgeoisie due to the forces of passion and unconditional love.

Director Luca Guadagnino is a fan of John Adams conceiving the film with Adams' music in mind. He also turned his collaborators into fans, including Swinton.

"When I first worked on the script, I wasn’t acquainted with John Adams. Then in 2005, a friend brought to me a CD of Adams' 'Naive and Sentimental Music.' I came home and the second the music came out of the stereo, it was an emotion I will always remember. There was something incredibly new but also familiar and then I became obsessed." - Luca Guadagnino

Rather than compose music specifically for the film, this project went in reverse. Adams music was used as an influence in creating the film, often using the music during the filming process. The composer gave his blessing for the filmmakers to use his music and saw the film in a rough-cut version in London last year.

"It's strange to hear your own music used in a context you didn't create," said Adams. "It's kind of disorienting at first and it takes some time to get used to it." He is pleased with the film overall as it made excellent use of his music.

"I Am Love" features a variety of Adams' compositions including "The Chairman Dances", "Century Rolls," "Fearful Symmetries," "Light over Water," "Shaker Loops," "Lollapalooza" and the Desert Chorus from the opera "The Death of Klinghoffer."

Hilary Hahn releases new album featuring Jennifer Higdon's Pulitzer Prize-winning Violin Concerto

Violinist Hilary Hahn will release her latest album, Higdon & Tchaikovsky Violin Concertos, on Deutsche Grammophon on September 21, 2010, demonstrating her commitment to exploring new music while embracing the masterworks of the past. The disc features the world premiere recording of Jennifer Higdon's Pulitzer Prize-winning Violin Concerto, which was written for Hahn. Higdon developed an intimate familiarity with Hahn's impeccable artistry after serving as the virtuoso's twentieth-century music professor at the Curtis Institute. The concerto, hailed by the Baltimore Sun as "tailor-made to the violinist's unflappable technique and musical depth," appears along with Hahn's fresh take on the monumental Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto.

Regarding the combination of two seemingly disparate works on the same disc, Hahn writes, "I believe that these full-scale, grandly conceived concertos...illuminate each other. While they come from different centuries and compositional worlds, they share a great many qualities: lyrical delicacy, a brooding gentility, energetic abandon, and a fine maturity of spirit." This album is not the first time that Hahn has explored the connections between two concertos that come from dramatically different origins; Barber & Meyer Violin Concertos (2000), Paganini & Spohr Concertos (2006), and the Grammy Award-winning Schoenberg & Sibelius Violin Concertos (2008), which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard classical charts and was featured in Time Magazine, have all demonstrated Hahn's brilliant playing and her keen sensitivity to the violin repertoire.

Gramophone magazine’s 2008 Artist of the Year, Hahn is a two-time Grammy Award-winning soloist celebrated for her probing interpretations, technical brilliance, and compelling presence on stage. Thirty years old in November of 2009, Hahn has toured extensively for over a decade, and her acclaimed performances and recordings have made her one of the most sought-after artists on the international concert circuit. Hahn appears regularly with the world’s elite orchestras and on the most prestigious recital series in Europe, Asia, and North and South America. She appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien on January 14, 2010, days before the show was taken off the air. During the 2010-11 season, she tours the U.S. and Canada on a solo recital tour and performs the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto and other works in performances throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Composing Music is the Only Option

I'm half way through my Masters in Music (Composition) and will complete this course in madness the proud owner of a degree and school loans totaling over $150k. I'm 47 and you might consider this a midlife crisis (although crisis hardly seems the right term). Why would I leave a rather high paying career as a software engineer (where I was making over $100k/year before the dot com bubble burst) to get a degree in music - and continue that course into a Masters degree? Because I have to... there is no other option that makes any sense (to me personally).

Kyle Gann, a fellow composer, wrote on his blog PostClassic a nice article about The Economics of Composing, a follow-up article of his Almost All Is Vanity. He does a nice job of describing the futility of being an "older" composer in the classical music market.

"We have three markets. There's a commercial market, entirely determined by huge corporations whose sole interest is money. We're never going to make a dent in that one. There's an orchestra-music circuit that you have to enter young, and it's all about who you know, and the music sucks. And there's an academic market, which demands a healthy respect for the Schoenberg line and a suspicion against anything populist."

Part of the commercial market is film. Unfortunately, a majority of modern films are composed by people who play on a keyboard to create rough sketches which are then mass-market arranged into generic scores, trumped up synth sounds and serious effects. Much of this is because the industry doesn't give composers much time to create the music (often only a few weeks before the film is released in theaters). Composers who can "play in" tracks of music on the piano tend to be cheaper than getting someone who is going to spend the time scoring it by hand. There are a few film composers who still write scores by hand in an attempt to create unified themes - but those composers are rare and often very expensive. Coincidentally, they also tend to be the ones to win the awards at the end of the year, but an Oscar for Best Score is not tempting enough in general to allow for more time in the film release schedule.

In the orchestral music circuit it's all about who you know. I've met a lot of people through this blog and with the concerts/CD's I've reviewed. But so far nothing has come from those introductions that will help me as a composer. It would be better if I actually played in an orchestra (or conducted one), but that's not likely to happen at my age - not unless I can gain some notoriety for a piece I've written.

I'm in the academic world right now and Kyle is right when he said the focus is on post-Schoenberg style music. So much of what I'm expected to write is some form pan-tonal music. I can accomplish this easily, but it is not really I style I enjoy, nor a music that has any financial viability outside the academic circle. I don't know why the academic world of music is so restrictive stylistically - it is as if a painting teacher instructs the students to only paint in cubism - but, in order to graduate I comply. (What harm if I just bin the scores after graduation?)

Knowing these facts, why am I striving for a Masters degree? Because Kyle has a nice job as a teacher. John Adams (who is doing very well as a composer now) taught at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. John Corigliano teaches at the Juilliard School of Music as does Eric Ewazen. Jennifer Higdon, who just won the Pulitzer Prize this year for her Violin Concerto, teaches at The Curtis Institute of Music. Being an instructor doesn't preclude success as a composer, but it does help prevent starvation (and keeps debt collectors at bay). It order to even be considered for teaching at an institution of higher education, one really needs to have a degree from one.

Do not mistake my quest for a degree as simply a means toward a better job (although I seriously doubt it will ever match my high-tech days). I am learning a great deal and the music I am writing now is considerably better than what I wrote even two years ago. The Piano Preludes and Symphony No. 1 which were written in the last year of my undergraduate degree (2008) are still pieces I'm proud of. But the Trumpet Concerto and Cantilenas - a lyric orchestra piece which were finished this academic year are both better compositions due to what I have learned over the past year. That learning continues.

Earlier this year I received my first commission (for $200) which comes out to be $2 per minute of music - and I think this is a WIN! Later this year I'm arranging 50+ mins of music for a guitarist who wants an orchestra to back his band in a concert of his blues rock pieces. While I have been promised pay, I estimate the actual income to be about $3/hr of work I'll spend on transcribing and arranging his music - not even minimum wage. I am also working on an oboe concerto for a dear friend (at Uni), as well as a solo piano work for yet another friend. Neither of these will earn me any money, but they are projects I am honored to be asked to do.

While none of my current compositions are going to provide enough to live on, I wake every day excited about each and every project. My blog (interchanging idioms) earns enough to keep it cost free, but as of yet has not made anything extra (even to take my wife to dinner). I've also taken on a position as an Intern (read: unpaid position to gain experience) with a professional orchestra. The unpaid part is tough, but the experience (in just two weeks so far) has been incredible. I'm not making a living with music (yet), but I'm having the time of my life!!!

Money isn't why I chose to become a composer. Or better put, I am not a composer because I make money doing it and money isn't why I decided to finish my education at this stage in my life. I simply can't do anything else; composing is the only thing that really makes me happy - well, that and my wife [of 30 years].

I resonate with Kyle's words. Writing music is not something anyone does with the idea of becoming wealthy. Some do, but that's not why they started. Maybe, just maybe something I write will live beyond our years... maybe not. I don't really think about it when I'm writing a piece of music. For me there isn't a choice. I do this because there is no other option.

Money isn't what makes the music - the music is what makes the composer.

Cellist Joshua Roman to Premiere Two New Works

This month cellist Joshua Roman is getting a jump on the Fourth of July, with both the world premiere in Seattle and the New York City premiere of a piece composed for him by fellow Cleveland Institute of Music graduate Dan Visconti. The five-movement composition, entitled "Americana," is based on lines of texts from patriotic folk songs, combining elements from American hymns, sea shanties, civil rights marches, and even Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix. "It's refreshing to see somebody who is able to present such a new, yet familiar side of what classical music can be," said Roman. "Visconti captures folk themes in a very traditional manner, without it being too hokey. It's a great celebration!"

Bard’s Beloved Spiegeltent Returns for SummerScape 2010

For Fifth Consecutive Season, Bard’s Authentic Spiegeltent Provides Dazzling Venue for Entertainment – From Family Fare to Edgy Cabaret, Live Music, and Late-Night Dancing – Plus Refreshments

“Enter the Spiegeltent – the tent of dreams – and you will never be the same again.”– Edinburgh Fringe magazine

The opening of the 2010 Bard SummerScape festival on Thursday, July 8, signals the return of the authentic, one-of-a-kind Belgian Spiegeltent, the luxurious “tent of mirrors” that has proved such a sensation since 2006, when its introduction to Bard marked the first time one of these fabled old-world structures appeared in America; the New York Times pronounced it “agreeably funky,” while the Village Voice praised its “wooden floors, mirrored walls, stained-glass panels, and red velvet ceiling.” Conveniently situated near the Frank Gehry-designed Fisher Center, the Spiegeltent affords a sumptuous and magical environment to enjoy cutting-edge cabaret and musical performances – almost all of which sold out last year, plus family fare, late-night dancing, and tasty refreshments, throughout the seven-week festival (July 8 – August 22).

Back for its fifth SummerScape season, Bard’s glittering “Mirror Tent” was originally from Europe, where such tents and the special entertainment they host have been a beloved tradition for the past century. The Spiegeltent is a marvel of engineering, comprising 3,000 detachable parts, with a spellbinding interior of carved wood surfaces, parquet floor, beveled mirrors, stained-glass windows, and splendid velvet canopies. On weekend afternoons and evenings all summer long, the theater-in-the-round – encircled by audience members seated at booths and tables – is the stage for a variety of performers, from cabaret acts and musicians to dancers and jugglers. Before and after performances, the Spiegeltent provides the ideal setting to enjoy light fare, meals, and drinks chosen from the best offerings of the Hudson Valley’s rich array of farms, orchards, dairies, wineries, and breweries.

Friday and Saturday nights are for adults only, with Evening Cabaret featuring colorful entertainment with a downtown edge, for hip audiences. Returning this year is the award-winning John Kelly, with his “worshipful and lovingly devastating” (New York Times) homage to Joni Mitchell; the seductive slapstick of the Wau Wau Sisters; and the ever-popular Bindlestiff Family Cirkus. The majority of Evening Cabaret shows sold out last summer, so early booking is advised!

Friday and Saturday nights continue with the SpiegelClub, which offers a late-night bar and dance floor with New York City and local Hudson Valley DJs spinning a variety of tunes on a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system. It’s an exhilarating summer setting where audiences and artists gather under the disco ball to enjoy a range of dance music from pop to hip-hop, funk, and jazz, as well as the occasional theme night (swing, 80s, and more). Drinks and snacks are available throughout the evening.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin Named Next Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra

Chief Conductor Charles Dutoit becomes Conductor Laureate of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2012-13 season

Philadelphia Orchestra Association Chairman Richard B. Worley and President and CEO Allison Vulgamore announced today that Yannick (Yah-NEEK) Nézet-Séguin (NAH-zay SAY-gahn) has been named as the Orchestra’s next Music Director. His seven-year contract begins immediately, with Mr. Nézet-Séguin assuming the title of Music Director Designate for two seasons and taking on the full role of Music Director in the 2012-13 season. Mr. Nézet-Séguin will come to Philadelphia this Friday, June 18, 2010, to celebrate his appointment with The Philadelphia Orchestra and the City of Philadelphia .

With his appointment, Mr. Nézet-Séguin joins a distinguished history inclusive of young Music Directors of The Philadelphia Orchestra. When he assumes the Music Director title full time at the age of 37, Mr. Nézet-Séguin will join the ranks of Leopold Stokowski who was 30 years old when he became Music Director of the Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy who assumed the position at age 38, and Riccardo Muti who became Music Director at age 39.

Mr. Nézet-Séguin made his acclaimed debut with The Philadelphia Orchestra in December 2008 conducting Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist André Watts and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (“Pathétique”), and most recently led the Orchestra in Vivier’s Orion, Franck’s Symphony in D minor, and Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Nicholas Angelich in December 2009. In addition to his position in Philadelphia, Mr. Nézet-Séguin will also remain Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal).

A captivating leader, Mr. Nézet-Séguin was chosen as the Orchestra’s next Music Director for his musicianship and diverse repertoire that ranges in both style and scope. Whether leading chamber, choral, symphonic, or large-scale operatic works, he applies his broad array of interpretive ideas to music spanning from the Baroque to the contemporary.

Forthcoming guest appearances include conducting the Vienna Philharmonic for the 2010 Salzburg Festival production of Don Giovanni; regular productions for the Metropolitan Opera; debuts with the Berlin Philharmonic, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Bayerischer Rundfunk Orchestra, and the Chicago Symphony; and first productions for La Scala Milan and London’s Royal Opera House.

As The Philadelphia Orchestra’s Music Director Designate, Mr. Nézet-Séguin will lead two weeks of subscription concerts in Philadelphia during the 2010-11 season. On October 29, 30, and 31, 2010, he will conduct Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 (“Military”) and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, and on January 6, 7, and 8, 2011, he will lead Debussy’s Nocturnes and the Orchestra’s first performances of Mozart’s Requiem in 20 years. In the 2011-12 season, Mr. Nézet-Séguin will lead a total of five weeks.

In his first season as Music Director (2012-13), Mr. Nézet-Séguin will lead up to seven weeks of concerts; and in his second and third seasons (2013-14 and 2014-15) he will conduct 15 weeks. His fourth and fifth season (2015-16 and 2016-17) will increase to 16 weeks of concerts. His weeks each season will be inclusive of subscription concerts, special events, tours, and summer activities.

John Adams Conducts the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 20th & 21st Century Music for “West Coast, Left Coast”

Deutsche Grammophon Releases the Live Recording as Download-only from iTunes

Last December, John Adams led an intriguing concert with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Walt Disney Concert Hall of music thematically centered on California, and specifically Los Angeles. From a Hollywood film score to a 21st century violin concerto, the concert, entitled West Coast, Left Coast, demonstrated the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s remarkable virtuosity and daring program choices. Deutsche Grammophon was on-hand to record the concerts and is proud to release the entire evening as part of the DG Concert Series of download-only digital releases, available from iTunes on June 15, 2010.

The concert was constructed so as to build to a performance of John Adams violin concerto, The Dharma at Big Sur. The work, commissioned for the inaugural gala of Walt Disney Concert Hall, was directly inspired by architect Frank Gehry’s design. The “sweeping, silver-toned clouds and sails of its exterior and…its warm and inviting public spaces” touched Adams and from there he pondered the idea of creating something distinctly California is nature. With Jack Kerouac as additional inspiration, Adams proceeded to compose a work for solo electric violin in two movements.

For this concert, violinist Leila Josefowicz took up the solo part and soared through the many technical difficulties of the score with John Adams leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic in support. Before Ms. Josefowicz took the stage though, another concerto was included on the concert. William Kraft’s 1983 Timpani Concerto no. 1 received its first Los Angeles Philharmonic performances with these concerts. Kraft has served as the LA Phil’s Principal Timpanist, assistant conductor and composer-in-residence. This rarely performed piece is a true workout for the soloist, here Joseph Pereira the current Principal Timpanist of the LA Phil, and emerges as a full-force rhythmic powerhouse of a piece.

Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard Returns to England’s Aldeburgh Festival for Second Season as Artistic Director (June 11-27)

“Ferociously Intelligent Musician” Also Performs at Tanglewood and “Mostly Mozart” Festivals in U.S. (Aug 10-16)

“Protean keyboard personality”* Pierre-Laurent Aimard kicks off his summer festival season in June, when he returns to England’s Aldeburgh Festival for the second year of his tenure as Artistic Director (June 11-27). His first was a resounding triumph: “Even his critics are heralding this year’s Aldeburgh Festival...as one of the best programs for years,” reported the Economist last summer, and in Aimard’s hands the festival has remained true to its fabled heritage while reflecting his own musical passions. The coming season embraces a wealth of repertoire from Bach and Beethoven to Boulez and Berio by way of festival founder Britten himself, and programming highlights include a world premiere from Elliott Carter, a celebration of Peter Pears’s centenary, and artistic collaborations with Pierre Boulez and George Benjamin. As a performer, Aimard’s contribution will be substantial, ranging from solo and duo recitals to ensemble work and directing from the keyboard. Later in the summer, he continues his festival commitments on this side of the Atlantic, joining the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for a program of Bach, Elliott Carter, and Ligeti, first at the Tanglewood Festival (Aug 10) and then for the first of his four “Mostly Mozart” Festival appearances, which also feature works by Benjamin, Birtwistle, Boulez, and Lachenmann (Aug 13-16).

When Aimard made his debut as Aldeburgh’s Artistic Director last season, it was, as the Daily Telegraph’s Ian Hewett suggested, “on the face of it…an unlikely match.” The “deeply English” Aldeburgh Festival, founded on the atmospheric Suffolk coast by Britten and Pears in 1948, was characterized by “thermos flasks and draughty village halls,” whereas the French pianist “started life in the modernist bunker” of Paris’s Ensemble Intercontemporain and IRCAM. Yet the partnership soon proved a fruitful one, as Hewett was the first to acknowledge; he styled Aimard the “Aldeburgh alchemist” and depicted the 2009 festival as a “lofty two-week symposium where Haydn, Birtwistle, Schumann, and Stockhausen converse[d] across the centuries.” The pianist’s inspired curatorship impressed other critics equally favorably, the Economist considering last year’s festival “one of the best programs for years,” and France’s Figaro marveling that the “Aldeburgh Festival, 33 years after Britten’s demise, [was] more active and inventive than ever.” As for Aimard’s own performances, the Financial Times praised the “characteristic panache” of his Elliott Carter interpretations, and after the UK premiere of George Benjamin’s Duet, the Times Literary Supplement judged that “Benjamin’s efforts…were rewarded by a first-class performance” from Aimard, “the limits of whose playing no composer has yet managed to find.”

At the 2009 festival, MusicWeb International singled out Aimard’s opening performance, a chamber concert that “provided a full session of intelligent musical enquiry and performance. Put together by Aimard, and entitled ‘Collage-Montage’, the concert explored the possibilities arising from the juxtaposition of unrelated musical works – both within the overall program, and by playing them alongside and simultaneously on top of each other,” which made for “an imaginative and provocative evening” – and, according to Figaro, “dislodged some preconceptions and led to many questions.” On Sunday, June 20, Aimard will repeat the experiment: in “Collage-Montage 2010”, a mash-up of music by Beethoven, Boulez, Mussorgsky, Ligeti, Bartók, Janácek, Messiaen, Kurtág, Schumann, and Ravel, he will offer a sampling of the formidable talent that inspired the New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini to describe one of his recital appearances as “one of the most astounding displays of technical virtuosity, musical insight, sheer brilliance, and stamina in [Tommasini’s] concertgoing life.”

Canadian Brass Stars & Stripes for the 4th of July!

I'm not sure how I feel about this one... The Canadian Brass, one of the finest brass ensembles in the world, playing a host of "American" (read: United States) patriotic tunes. The original press release said the new CD is "chock full of patriotic songs" but patriotic to whom? I like the tunes of Stars and Stripes Forever, America the Beautiful, Battle Hymn of the Republic, Hail Columbia, Shenandoah and You’re A Grand Old Flag, but I think it's more of a marketing ploy than a show of patriotism.

There are getting some great reviews, such as:

“Wow, who knew the Canadians felt this way about us? Here are 16 over-the-top tracks, featuring replica drums from the Colonial and Civil War eras, all toasting America. The themes all get impressive, imaginative treatment with their dashing fanfares and imaginative touches. The flat-footed “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” gets a burst of panache from a few bars of Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”Hmm. All this is making me uneasy. They must want something from us. ★★★ 1/2 (out of 4.) – Buffalo News

You can hear some tracks on their website and decide for yourself if this is an album you want to add to your collection. They are a great ensemble and undoubtedly play the music extremely well. Just don't confuse patriotism for marketing...

Final Three Weeks of Alan Gilbert’s Inaugural Season as Music Director of New York Philharmonic Feature Three June Programs

Including Performances by Gilbert as Violist in Brahms’s String Sextet No. 2 (June 12), and Beethoven’s Monumental Missa Solemnis, Paired with World Premiere of Al largo by Magnus Lindberg (June 23-26)

Following a trio of triumphant sold-out performances of György Ligeti’s opera, Le Grand Macabre, Alan Gilbert turns to the final concerts of his inaugural season as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. Highlights of his three upcoming programs at Avery Fisher Hall are an appearance by Gilbert as violist in Brahms’s Sextet No. 2 with musicians of the New York Philharmonic (June 12 at 2pm), and season-ending performances of Beethoven’s monumental Missa Solemnis, paired with the world premiere of Al largo, a new work by Magnus Lindberg – the orchestra’s Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence – commissioned by the New York Philharmonic (June 23, 24, and 26). Detailed information on each program, including an additional concert by Gilbert and the Philharmonic at Newark’s NJPAC, follows below.

The first program (June 10-12 and 15) pairs music by two Finns – Sibelius and Lindberg – along with Brahms’s ebullient Symphony No. 2. Lisa Batiashvili will be the soloist in Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, and Gilbert will also conduct Lindberg’s 1995 work Arena, which the conductor describes as “an amazing tour-de-force for the orchestra.” Brahms’s Second Symphony will also be heard on the Saturday Matinee on June 12, which will feature Gilbert as one of the two violists in Brahms’s String Sextet No. 2. Gilbert has performed chamber music with members of the orchestra many times, including at an earlier Saturday Matinee concert this season.

In the second program (June 17-19), Gilbert will lead the orchestra in Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll; H.K. Gruber’s trumpet concerto Aerial; Mozart’s Symphony No. 25; and Wagner’s Prelude and “Liebestod” from Tristan und Isolde. Joining the orchestra for Aerial is Swedish trumpet virtuoso Hakan Hardenberger, for whom the work was written, and who is making his New York Philharmonic debut. Gilbert calls Aerial “phenomenally difficult for the trumpet and incredibly fun to listen to.”

Three concerts at Avery Fisher Hall (June 23, 24, and 26) end the season in suitably grand and celebratory fashion. The program features Al largo, a world-premiere New York Philharmonic commission by Magnus Lindberg, paired with Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. Along with Ligeti’s opera, Le Grand Macabre, Gilbert has long considered this famously challenging work by Beethoven as one of the touchstones of his inaugural season. Few works for chorus and orchestra impose as many technical and physical demands on its performers, especially to the massed singers, who sing for much of the work’s approximately 80-minute duration. Bass Eric Owens, whose lead performance as Nekrotzar in the Philharmonic’s staging of the Ligeti opera was so widely hailed, returns as one of the four soloists in the Missa Solemnis.

Emmanuel Villaume To Step Down as Spoleto Festival USA Music Director for Opera and Orchestra

Emmanuel Villaume, the Christel DeHaan Music Director for Opera & Orchestra for Spoleto Festival USA, announced yesterday that he will leave his position after the current season. “I love this Festival deeply and I have always said that if I could not give the organization what I consider to be the necessary time, I would step down from my position,” said Villaume at the Spoleto Festival USA’s board meeting yesterday morning. Recently appointed Chief Conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, Maestro Villaume also serves as Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra and is a highly sought-after guest conductor worldwide.

Maestro Villaume is the longest serving Music Director for Opera & Orchestra for Spoleto Festival USA having taken up this post in 2001. Prior to that, he made his 1990 American debut with the Festival’s acclaimed production of Le nozze di Figaro directed by Gian Carlo Menotti in which Renée Fleming first sang the role of the Countess.

“Emmanuel will be deeply missed. He did brilliant work developing the quality of our orchestra,” said Spoleto General Director Nigel Redden. “We have already talked about his returning to the Festival in future seasons as a guest conductor,” Mr. Redden added.

“Emmanuel has been a wonderful music director and an important presence here at the Festival. We are grateful that he is leaving the orchestra and the Festival in such good shape,” said Spoleto Chairman Martha Ingram.

Mr. Villaume has conducted many celebrated productions over the last ten years. The production of Don Giovanni, directed by Günther Krämer, was described in The New York Times as a “triumph.” The success of that production led to the innovative renovation of Memminger Auditorium in which it was staged. Maestro Villaume chose to open the newly renovated Memminger with the premiere of Anthony Davis’ newly revised Amistad. Opera Today declared the production “a coup of music theater for Spoleto – an experiment in opera grand and intimate and timely in its content.”

Perhaps Maestro Villaume’s major achievement at the Festival was his work with the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. The orchestra, made up of young musicians chosen from some 800 candidates who audition throughout the United States , has been described as “one of the best orchestras in America ” by Tim Page of The Post and Courier ( Charleston ). "The orchestra is truly the star of this show…” declared James Oestreich of The New York Times on their work in 2008’s Faustus, the Last Night.

During the current 2010 season, Maestro Villaume will conduct the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra in two orchestral concerts, on Monday, May 31, and Sunday, June 6. The Spoleto Festival USA opened on May 28 and runs through to June 13.

The Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Urban Voices: A Choral Music Initiative

This spring, New York City elementary, middle, and high school students who participated in the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s “Urban Voices” program will showcase their skills by performing choral works for their school communities. As the culmination of a year-long choral-music program, in which students work with Guild-trained Choral Artist partners once a week, these concerts celebrate the accomplishments of Urban Voices students as well as the joy of singing together. Featuring a wide variety of repertoire purposefully tied to other areas of each school’s curriculum, these spring concerts bring together parents, teachers, and students for festive community occasions.

The Urban Voices program is designed for under-resourced schools with large low-income student populations – often schools that have no music program of their own. It introduces its participants to a variety of repertoire from different cultures, genres, and time periods. Students learn to listen to themselves and others, to articulate and comprehend lyrics, and they become familiar with basic musical notation. According to Jesse Cohen, the Guild’s Director of Development and Communications, “Thanks to the popularity of Glee, there’s more awareness about the joy of singing in groups and in harmony, and we are excited to provide an opportunity – at every grade level – to those who want to participate in this marvelous activity but may not otherwise be able to do so.”

The Metropolitan Opera Guild actively pursues its mission to foster an engaged audience for opera. The Guild’s Education Department provides innovative music and arts education programs to a broad community of learners. These programs include rehearsals as well as performances at the Metropolitan Opera; family education programs to introduce children to opera; a lecture series for adults; school residency programs; professional development courses for teachers; and research collaborations with institutes of higher learning and other arts organizations.

Richard Galliano Brings Bach’s Music to the Accordion for His Debut Deutsche Grammophon Recording, Available June 29, 2010

Richard Galliano, surely one of the most recognizable names associated with the accordion, has crossed musical boundaries collaborating with top jazz musicians, giving solo recitals and performing as soloist with orchestras. His wide-ranging interests and career have finally led him to record Bach, though he has practiced and performed the music for many years. Deutsche Grammophon is proud to release this all-new recording of Bach as performed on the accordion, available June 29, 2010.

Richard Galliano feels no need to change Bach’s music to suit the accordion: he plays everything as written. “Bach’s music is universal,” says Galliano. “When I play it, I don’t change a note, not a breath, not a rest . . . I play the text complete, without any adaptation . . . In the prelude from the Cello Suite, I use only the left hand’s keyboard to play the cello part. At first I tried to harmonize it, to play it as on an organ, with the right hand at the octave . . . Ultimately, each time I tried to touch anything in Bach’s music, I realized that what he had written was perfect.”

For this recording he is joined by a quintet of strings which acts as the orchestra on a number of tracks. The balance and acoustic of this newly formed sextet proves to be the ideal setting to allow the accordion to speak and at times soar over the orchestra.

Richard Galliano has collaborated with many musicians from all backgrounds including Chet Baker, Ron Carter, Enrico Rava, Charlie Haden, Michel Portal, Jan Garbarek, Martial Solal and others. With his exceptional versatility he appears in solo shows, big bands, small jazz ensembles and even classical orchestral concerts. Galliano’s complete immersion in music as an idiom has led him to present the Bach without alteration or fuss. Many transcriptions can lose sight of the original source, but Galliano maintains an unwavering focus on Bach and a celebration of his works. Though the sound is new to many, the music is timeless and has received a refreshing new interpreter with Richard Galliano.

Marin Alsop conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra with Doctor Atomic Symphony

Icarus at the Edge of Time Saturday 3 July, 7.30pm | Sunday 4 July, 2pm & 4pm | Royal Festival Hall

The worlds of music, film and science collide in a performance based on Brian Greene's acclaimed children's book. Philip Glass has written the music, played live by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, alongside a cutting-edge film by duo, Al and Al.

Marin Alsop conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which also plays John Adams's Doctor Atomic Symphony at Saturday evening's performance.

Sunday 4 July - Family performances, suitable for children aged 8 and above.

Tickets £10 - £30
50% off for under 16s.
Southbank Centre Ticket Office: 0844 875 0073

New York Philharmonic in Vail, July 23 - 30, 2010

Beginning on July 23rd, the marvelous New York Philharmonic will be back in Vail for what promises to be six unforgettable evenings of music. With works by Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Schoenfield and more being performed, the Philharmonic will entrance you with their magnificent sound.

JULY 23RD, 2010
New York Philharmonic's opening night with Jonathan Biss
An opening night with the New York Philharmonic never disappoints, and this evening will carry on that tradition. Jonathan Biss has appeared with every major U.S. orchestra as well as numerous European ensembles. "He is impetuous but aware. No gesture is out of control, no matter how deeply felt. No sound color is harsh, regardless of the technical difficulty." - New York Times.

JULY 28TH, 2010
An evening of Festive Classics - Elixir of Love, featuring Soprano Nicole Cabell
"Its a voice that wraps itself around you... long, sinuous phrasing, warm tone and a sophistication that touches everything she sings", says The Times of Nicole Cabell. Cabell will be singing with the New York Philharmonic and programming includes Bizet, Rossini, Mozart, and more.

JULY 30TH, 2010
Internationally renowned pianist Alexander Gavrylyuk joins the New York Philharmonic
"The technical difficulties that Brahms put into his Paganini variations seemed mere child's play to Gavrylyuk. I have rarely heard them played so pure, light and colorful, with a warm expression in the slower variations." - Christo Lelie. Bramwell Tovey conducts closing night of the New York Philharmonic. Works by Reznicek, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, and Enesco will be performed.

Deborah Voigt Tames Wild West in San Francisco Opera’s Fanciulla!

“Winning” Minnie Portrayal Is Hit as Soprano Adds Important New Role to Repertoire, Impressing Critics with “Radiant Voice,” “Theatrical Vibrancy,” and “Sensitivity to Detail”

“Voigt, singing Minnie for the first time, brought theatrical vibrancy and considerable personal charm to the role – it was no stretch to imagine an entire troop of miners eating out of her hand.” – San Francisco Chronicle [Joshua Kosman]

On June 9, Deborah Voigt, America’s top dramatic soprano, marked another milestone in her career when she returned to San Francisco Opera and made her title role debut as the pistol-packing, poker-playing barmaid in Puccini’s Gold Rush extravaganza, La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West). Running through July 2, the new San Francisco production is the first North American staging to celebrate the opera’s centenary.

The Associated Press summarized the impact of Deborah Voigt’s role debut, with Mike Silverman enthusing: “Both vocally and dramatically, the role is almost ideally suited to Voigt’s strengths – large, gleaming high notes (most of which hit their mark squarely), and a stage presence that radiates an endearing charm, whether she’s teaching Bible class to the miners, cheating in a poker game against Sheriff Jack Rance or riding in on a white horse to save her man.”

Voigt will give additional high-profile performances as Minnie in the upcoming season, starring in the Metropolitan Opera’s centenary production (Dec 6 – Jan 8). La fanciulla del West was commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, and premiered there on December 10, 1910. Following her Met performances, Voigt will sing the same role at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, beginning January 22 (nine performances through Feb 21). Her other summer 2010 performances are both as Richard Strauss’s Salome: at the Verbier Festival with Valery Gergiev (Aug 1) and at Japan’s Saito Kinen Festival (Aug 22, 25, 28, & 30).

Alice Sara Ott "Liszt: 12 Études d' exécution transcendante" On Deutsche Grammophon

Deutsche Grammophon Releases All-New Album on July 20, 2010

In January of this year, Deutsche Grammophon released pianist Alice Sara Ott’s international debut album, Chopin: Complete Waltzes. The album debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Classical Traditional chart and has earned Ott praise from critics and audiences alike. As a follow-up to the Chopin disc, Ott releases Liszt’s 12 Transcendental Etudes – a formidable challenge for any pianist and a true test of technique and stamina. Deutsche Grammophon will release the album on July 20, 2010.

Liszt’s Transcendental Etudes started as a simpler set of etudes from 1826 written when Liszt was a teenager. Years later Liszt expanded the score and added incredibly difficult passage work. This second edition, which was dedicated to Liszt’s teacher Carl Czerny (a prolific composer of etudes as any young pianist can attest), was so fiendishly difficult that Liszt decided to revise the etudes again in 1852. It is this third and final version that Alice Sara Ott has decided to record because “of the three versions, the last is the best for both pianist and listener. Here, unlike the awkward and ungrateful 1838 version, you are made aware that the Etudes are never merely technical, but a cycle of unlimited range, sound and color. They mirror every possible aspect of Liszt's multi-faceted personality: his joy, irony and desolation. Only a performance of the complete cycle captures his immense quasi-orchestral and symphonic vision.”

It is this “quasi-orchestral and symphonic vision” that Alice Sara Ott, though small of frame, seeks to convey in each etude. With wide-ranging leaps up and down the piano and intricate passagework that stymies even gifted pianists, Liszt’s etudes are certainly a testing ground, but they are also works that demands a lyrical touch and much more than just brilliant technique. Though Mazeppa might be the most famous etude, Paysage is a lyrical and gorgeous etude which tests the pianist’s expressive legato playing.

Alice Sara Ott has made an unusual specialty of performing Liszt’s 12 Transcendental Etudes and has already won extraordinary praise for her live performances of the daunting cycle in Germany and Switzerland. Her triumphant recital at Munich’s Herkulessaal in January 2007, playing Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata and the Liszt Transcendental Etudes, elicited the following response in the Süddeutsche Zeitung: “Ott lends a personal, almost overwhelming poetic charm to this splendid music, transporting her listeners into ecstatic delight.” In May 2007 at the Ruhr Piano Festival, her performances of Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata and the Liszt Etudes met with similar acclaim. Two months later, at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, she was awarded both the festival’s own special prize and the audience prize. In 2008, she made her New York debut, playing a Liszt program at the Yamaha Artist Center and performed the Liszt Etudes several times in Germany and Austria again. In May 2008 she stepped in for Murray Perahia in Basle, playing the “Waldstein” Sonata and Transcendental Etudes and again elicited glowing reviews.

Alice Sara Ott made her US orchestral debut this past January in Cincinnati performing Liszt’s Concerto no. 1 and was described as a pianist with “immense talent who effortlessly tackled cascades of glittering runs and was able to summon beautiful sonorities as she did it.” (Cincinnati Enquirer) Ott returns to the US October 28-30, 2010 for performances of Liszt’s Concerto no. 1 with the San Francisco Symphony. Her appearances will coincide with the release of her next recording featuring the first concertos of Liszt and Tchaikovsky performed with Thomas Hengelbrock and the Münchener Philharmoniker which is scheduled for October 26, 2010.

Celebrating Juneteenth on "Q2 with Terrance McKnight" this Saturday, June 19th at 10pm on Classical 105.9 WQXR

This Saturday, June 19th at 10pm, Q2 with Terrance McKnight will be highlighting the music of Tom Wiggins. Wiggins, also known as “Blind Tom,” was born blind into slavery on the Bethune plantation, where his family was enslaved. He demonstrated extraordinary musical talent at an early age and, when James Bethune recognized his potential, was granted a life of “freedom” in order to work as a traveling showman.

Most African Americans were not able to live a life of freedom, but Blind Tom was not free in many respects. He was marketed as a circus-style freak and was never paid for his performances, despite being one of the highest earning entertainers in the country – his earnings went to the Bethune family.

Terrance will explore Blind Tom’s music and story on Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day. You can tune in to Q2 with Terrance McKnight at 10pm this Saturday at Classical 105.9 FM or by logging on to www.wqxr.org.