. Interchanging Idioms: October 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

James Conlon conducts LA Opera’s Recovered Voices Series released on DVD and Blu-ray by Naxos

LA Opera’s productions of rarely performed works as part of the Company’s Recovered Voices series conducted by Music Director James Conlon were filmed for release on DVD and Blu-ray. The 2008 double-bill of Alexander Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg (The Dwarf) and Viktor Ullmann’s Der zerbrochene Krug (The Broken Jug) is available now, and the 2009 presentation of Walter Braunfels’ Die Vögel (The Birds) will be released on November 16, 2010. The videos, released on the Arthaus Musik label, will be distributed by Naxos Music.

James Conlon conducts all of LA Opera’s Recovered Voices presentations, an initiative that began when he became Music Director of the Company in 2006. “The creativity of the first half of the 20th century is far richer than generally known,” said Mr. Conlon. “We have taken an important step toward reviving the music of those composers whose lives were impacted and whose music was banned by the Third Reich between 1933 and 1945. For complex reasons much of it remained unplayed after the war and we are committed to bringing this music back into the repertory where it belongs.”

“These important video releases, recorded live in performance at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion feature productions from LA Opera’s acclaimed Recovered Voices series, which is devoted to presenting the works of composers who were affected by the rise of the Third Reich,” said Plácido Domingo, LA Opera's General Director. “The striking beauty and incredible diversity of these works has made their neglect during the last eight decades one of the great injustices in music history. LA Opera is the only major American opera company to regularly program the works of these nearly forgotten composers, so I am proud that audiences around the world will now be able to enjoy these wonderful productions.”

The double bill of Der Zwerg and Der zerbrochene Krug conducted by James Conlon and directed by Darko Tresnjak, features tenor Rodrick Dixon, soprano Mary Dunleavy and baritone James Johnson, and the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The production of Die Vögel is also conducted by James Conlon and directed by Darko Tresnjak, and features soprano Desiree Rancatore, tenor Brandon Jovanovich, and baritones James Johnson and Martin Gantner, as well as the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices are $29.99 (DVD) and $39.99 (Blu-ray).

With its racist ideology and systematic suppression—particularly, although not exclusively, of Jewish musicians, artists and writers—the Nazi regime silenced two generations of composers and, with them, an entire musical heritage. The sup press ion of these composers and musicians caused the greatest single rupture in what had been a seamless transmittal of German classical music. While the operas of Richard Strauss (1864-1949) are often thought of as the final flowering of the great German opera tradition, a number of his contemporaries also enjoyed enormous critical and popular success, but fell victim to the anti-Semitic and ultraconservative policies of Nazi Germany, and are little known today. In an effort to raise public consciousness to the significance of these works of composers, Mr. Conlon has devoted himself to extensive programming of this music in North America and Europe . The Orel Foundation (www.orelfoundation.org), which Mr. Conlon established, provides extensive background information on these composers and their music. Mr. Conlon recently wrote an in-depth article on the subject for Opera magazine: www.losangelesopera.com/production/0809/thebirds/article.02.aspx.

LA Opera’s Recovered Voices series was inaugurated in the 2007 with a concert that included operatic excerpts from works by Walter Braunfels, Erich Korngold, Ernst Krenek, Franz Schreker, Erwin Schulhoff and Viktor Ullmann, as well as a complete concert performance of Alexander Zemlinsky’s Eine florentinische Tragödie. In the 2008 season, LA Opera presented a double bill featuring fully-staged performances of Ullmann’s Der zerbrochene Krug (a U.S. premiere) and Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg. The series continued in 2009 with the U.S. premiere of Braunfels’ Die Vögel and in 2010 with Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten (The Stigmatized), the first staging of any of Schreker’s operas in the United States. LA Opera’s Recovered Voices series was made possible by LA Opera Board Member and Los Angeles philanthropist Marilyn Ziering, who has contributed $4 million to the project and has personally raised an additional $850,000 from several leaders and supporters of the LA Opera to fund the project.

Bryn Terfel's Carols & Christmas Songs out Tuesday, November 2nd

Bryn Terfel Celebrates the Holidays with Traditional Songs and Welsh Favorites out November 2nd on Deutsche Grammophon
Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera led by Tecwyn Evans with guests Rolando Villazón, Catrin Finch, Only Men Aloud and Bing Crosby
“Terfel’s powerful vocal presence is born of physical presence and he harnesses words, in any language, like few others.” Gramophone

The holidays conjure images of crackling fires, luminous trees, family gatherings and warm baked treats. This season, Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel will provide the accompaniment to this joyful time with his new release Carols and Christmas Songs available from Deutsche Grammophon on November 2nd, 2010.

The highlight of the new album is a duet of “White Christmas” with the legendary Bing Crosby. The vocals were taken from the original recording as performed by Bing Crosby With The Ken Darby Singers & John Scott Trotter & His Orchestra. Terfel then focuses on his favorite traditional songs of the season including O Holy Night, In the Bleak Midwinter and Away in a Manger. Tenor Rolando Villazón joins Terfel in a performance of El Nacimiento while Welsh harpist Catrin Finch duets on Silent Night and What Child is This.

“Music is always a constant background accompaniment, and such an integral part of the festive period,” says Terfel. “How excited I was at the prospect of recording some of these wonderful songs, especially knowing that the Welsh repertoire would also find its way onto the list.” As a bonus, Terfel recorded a bonus disc of songs from his native Wales. He invited two Welsh singers and songwriters to contribute: Gwarw Edwards sings a duet with Bryn and Caryl Parry Jones has new Christmas songs for Bryn. Also included as guests are the chorus Côrdydd and the Nidus Children’s Choir.

This release comes just as Terfel has finished his first Wotan at the Metropolitan Opera in their opening night performance of Das Rheingold. He continues to tour the US in recital with Malcolm Martineau throughout November, including performances at Carnegie Hall in New York on November 17th, Berkeley on November 20th and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on November 22nd. His US appearances conclude with three concerts of Wagner with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen November 26th-28th.

Friday, October 22, 2010

от силы в силу, Alexander Polianichko goes from Strength to Strength with the Colorado Symphony performing music by the Russian Masters

Jordan Bisch sang Bass and the Colorado Symphony Chorus, under the direction of Duain Wolfe, joined the Colorado Symphony for a powerful program of the Russian Masters

от силы в силу means from Strength to Strength

Russian music has a power all its own. With Alexander Polianichko at the podium the Colorado Symphony performed a solid concert of Russian music moving from strength to strength. As the program progressed the music and the performances kept improving.

The evening began with the "Procession of the Nobles" from Mlada by Rimsky-Korsakov. This piece features the brass and the amazing Colorado Symphony brass section were up for the challenge. Some of the rapid fanfare leaps were boldly present in the music and really set the stage for a night of immensely powerful music.

Jordan Bisch was featured as the bass soloist for Aleko's Cavatina from Aleko by Rachmaninoff. The orchestra started at a whisper to preface the first note by Mr Bisch which wasn't much louder, but the force in his voice rumbled the rafters - and he went up from there. Jordan Bisch has a voice that portrays intense emotion and overwhelming strength. The only disappointment in the performance was the lack of a standing ovation afterwards. Aleko's Cavatina is a soft piece, fraught with passion, not rousing music like the opening "Procession", but Mr. Bisch's performance deserved more from the audience.

The rest of the first half of the program was occupied by Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Much of this music is extremely familiar, yet it was nice to hear the Colorado Symphony bring it to life without the dancers, so the music can take the forefront. Highlights were when soloists from the Colorado Symphony Musicians were featured. Courtney Hershey Bress' harp is often heard in the orchestra, but tonight we were treated to an extensive solo. Yumi Hwang-Williams joined her for a lovely, melodic duet, followed by a solo by Silver Ainomäe on the Cello. Then the music turned haunting with a classic theme presented by Peter Cooper on the oboe. Again, the brass were brought in for the climax bringing the audience to their feet. Obviously the crowd loved the music and adores the musicians - there were plenty of whoops and hollers as each of the soloists were given their own bow.

After intermission we were treated to Borodin's flourid and powerful "Polovtsian Dances" from Prince Igor. Alexander Polianichko took the piece faster than I've heard it done before making the breath-taking solos by the Bil Jackson on the Clarinet and Brook Ellen Shoenwald on the flute even more amazing. Yet, at no point did the music feel out of control --quite the opposite. Through every twist and turn of the music there wasn't a moment to breathe and yet no moment to be anything but riveted to the stage.

The Coronation Scene from Boris Godonov by Mussorgsky was up next featuring both soloist Jordan Bisch and the Colorado Symphony Chorus. Jordan commanded the role and the stage with his voice, while Maestro Polianichko kept the piece in balance. It was obvious the chorus and the musicians were having a blast performing with him and the music carried that enthusiasm through Boettcher Hall.

The evening came to a close with the ever popular 1812, Overture complete with canon sounds and chorus. Often the piece is performed without the chorus. The emotions run high with the music anyway with the bold brass at the end, but to start with just a hint of strings beneath the prayer-like voices really pushed the emotional wave of the evening over the top. The music continued to build with the La Marseillaise sneaking in to represent the French but ending with the hymn God Preserve Thy People followed by God Save the Tsar! to end in triumph.

Alexander Polianichko is not a flashy conductor. He performs his task without fancy dance steps or body contortions. Yet the "love-fest" that began with the chorus and conductor on Tuesday night's rehearsal obviously wasn't a fluke. Russian music is powerful and demanding. Maestro Polianichko and the Colorado Symphony and Chorus met it head on demonstrating the strength of both the music and the musicians.

Offensive Language on Stage

When is language offensive and if Theatre and Opera are to push the bounds, to make us think when (if ever) is censorship appropriate?

When writing "Gee, Officer Krupke" for West Side Story, Stephen Sondheim attempted to be the first Broadway lyricist to say the word "fuck."

“I realized, once I thought of the title, that the song would afford me the opportunity of being the first lyricist to use a serious four-letter obscenity in a Broadway musical … [but] such language had never been heard in a musical, and here was my chance to make my mark by having a loud choral 'Fuck you!' as the punchline of a song …. All was well until we played it for the producers … I was in despair until Lenny came up with ‘Krup You!’, which may be the best lyric line in the show … ”

For those that don't know, I recently ran into the same sort of censorship.

Last Winter I wrote a short opera entitled "DINKs." The subject matter is the day in the life of a young couple, Dual Income, No Kids (DINKs). They live a busy and active life, so much so that they never seem to be able to connect (sexually).

The entire piece is designed as a parody of the lifestyle and focusing on what's really important. As the day ends they are too exhausted to culminate with their greatest desires. When they wake up the next day they realize they failed to connect, yet again. The characters shout an expletive...

Initially the piece was denied because the last word was too offensive. After some pushing I did finally get the piece performed last May. Here is an audio recording of the performance. The lyrics are available on my website. You can decide for yourself just how offensive it is.

I guess what I really wonder is, if major opera houses can put women on stage naked and/or extremely scantily dressed, why does one word become offensive.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Attend an Open Rehearsal with the Colorado Symphony

This Friday enjoy an Open Rehearsal conducted by Alexander Polianichko. Experience the Colorado Symphony as they prepare for performances!

Friday, October 22, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Alexander Polianichko, conductor

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV "Procession of the Nobles" from Mlada
RACHMANINOFF "Aria" from Aleko
TCHAIKOVSKY Suite from Swan Lake
BORODIN "Polovtsian Dances" from Prince Igor
MUSSORGSKY "Coronation Scene" from Boris Godunov
TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Overture

Tickets are available at the door the morning of the rehearsal for $5, payable by check, cash or credit card. See Education Director Nora Robinson upon arrival for admission.

Then come to the concert Friday Night!

Alexander Polianichko leads the combined orchestra and chorus forces in a varied program of Slavic chestnuts, including Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances,” and the “Coronation Scene” from Boris Godonov. This Russian extravaganza concludes with Tchaikovsky’s ever popular “1812” Overture, complete with canon sounds.

Alexander Polianichko, conductor
Jordan Bisch, Bass
Colorado Symphony Chorus · Duain Wolfe, director

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV / “Procession of the Nobles” from Mlada
RACHMANINOFF: Aria from Aleko
TCHAIKOVSKY / Suite from SwanLake
BORODIN / “Polovtsian Dances” from Prince Igor
MUSSORGSKY / “Coronation Scene” from Boris Godunov
TCHAIKOVSKY / 1812, Overture solonelle

Tickets are available online at: coloradosymphony.org.

Violinist Mikhail Simonyan to Replace Midori for Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Concerts, October 21-23

Program will remain unchanged and features Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto

Due to a sudden back injury, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra regrets to announce that violinist Midori has cancelled her upcoming engagement to perform with the BSO in the concerts on Thursday, October 21, 2010 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore and Friday, October 22, 2010 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, October 23, 2010 at 8 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. Conductor Gilbert Varga is still scheduled to lead the program.

Midori expressed her regret, “I’m so disappointed to miss the opportunity to play with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Varga! I have strained my back and have been strongly advised against physical exertion at this time. I greatly appreciate the graciousness and understanding of the BSO, and look forward to re-scheduling our collaboration at the earliest opportunity.”

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Recreates Infamous 1910 Meeting of Mahler and Freud in Analyze This, Nov. 5-6

Music Director Marin Alsop commences 2010-2011 Off the Cuff series with symphonic play illustrating the meeting of a creative genius and intelligent mind

Music Director Marin Alsop teams up with writer and stage director Didi Balle in co-creation Analyze This: Mahler and Freud to be performed on Friday, November 5 at 8:15 p.m. at The Music Center at Strathmore and Saturday, November 6 at 7 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. In Analyze This, actors Richard Pilcher and Tony Tsendeas and mezzo-soprano Kristina Lewis will reenact the 1910 meeting between Gustav Mahler and famous psychiatrist Dr. Sigmund Freud as Maestra Alsop shares historical content and interesting little-known facts, interspersed with selections from Mahler’s most famous works. The BSO’s Off the Cuff series offers a fresh take on classical music by exploring the lives of the composers, making the performances fun and engaging for music enthusiasts of any level. After two successful seasons at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the series begins its premiere season at the Music Center at Strathmore in 2010-2011.

In this program, Maestra Alsop dissects this solitary and compelling meeting of equals in a riveting performance in a similar vein to 2008’s CSI: Beethoven. She provides guidance for an in-depth understanding of selected Mahler works with an accompanying story and the history behind the music. Professional actors Richard Pilcher (Mahler), Tony Tsendeas (Dr. Sigmund Freud) and Kristina Lewis (Alma Mahler), help spin the tale.

Maestro Mahler deemed a meeting with Freud of absolute necessity. A crippling fear that his considerably younger wife, the vivacious Alma, would leave him for the ardent architect Walter Gropius, compelled him to seek help. Mahler, a man of insurmountable genius passionately loved his wife, though found it difficult to show his ardor. The death of Mahler’s eldest daughter strained his relationship with Alma, who found herself depressed in a marriage to a man with a meticulous and difficult personality.

Mahler’s wife’s unconsummated affair became known with a “Freudian slip” by suitor Gropius. In despair, Mahler requested that Freud meet and analyze Mahler’s situation and past, hoping to provide some insight and release to the Maestro. Mahler’s fears of abandonment were traced back to a childhood of poverty, violence and death. His mother, a petite, crippled woman in a loveless marriage, suffered constant abuse in witness of Mahler. Of the 14 children she bore, seven died before Mahler reached the age of 19. One beloved younger brother died in Mahler’s arms.

Mahler’s obsession with death not only fueled his terror of abandonment but also haunted his daily life and fashioned itself in his works. After his daughter’s death, Mahler made a connection of his music with death. The three hammer blows in the final movement of his Sixth Symphony foreshadowed three unfortunate events in his life: the death of his daughter, his forced resignation as Director of the Vienna Court Opera and his own imminent death. He feared for himself the fate that befell past composers, such as Beethoven, a man whom Mahler considered a father figure and himself a prodigy of. Like Beethoven, Mahler died before being able to complete his tenth symphony.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Met Mastersingers: René Pape", Oct 27 at NY's Town Hall

Star of Met’s New Boris Godunov Is Second Honoree in Metropolitan Opera Guild’s “Met Mastersingers” Series at New York’s Town Hall on Oct 27

On Wednesday, October 27, the Metropolitan Opera Guild presents the second installment of its exciting new series: “The Met Mastersingers”. This season’s honoree is star bass René Pape – soon to appear in the title role of the Met’s new production of Boris Godunov – who will join the Guild’s executive producer Paul Gruber in an informal conversation about his life and career. The event will take place at New York’s Town Hall and will feature screenings of highlights from the Pape’s most celebrated filmed performances from the Metropolitan Opera and Europe, including many never shown in the U.S., and a new video profile, especially created for the occasion. Pape will also perform some of his favorite songs, with pianist Brian Zeger. Ticket and other information for “The Met Mastersingers: René Pape” follows below.

Among the filmed performances and appearances to be screened are: highlights from Met productions (Beethoven’s Fidelio and Wagner’s Die Meistersinger and Tristan und Isolde) and Met gala concert performances; excerpts from concerts in Europe, many of which have never been seen in the United States; a scene from the Salzburg production of Strauss’s Elektra, performed just last month; and a scene from the Met: Live in HD performance of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, which will have been broadcast live just four days before the Guild event.

Robin Ticciati extends contract with Scottish Chamber Orchestra until 2015

Robin Ticciati has extended his contract as Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for a further three years until 2015. Ticciati, who opens the Orchestra’s 2010/11 Season this evening with a concert performance of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, took up the post of Principal Conductor in September 2009 for an initial three-year period. The young British conductor is already enjoying considerable international success: as well as his position with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, he is Principal Guest Conductor of the Bamberger Symphoniker and has received re-invitations to the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Filarmonica della Scala, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. He made his conducting debuts at the BBC Proms and Edinburgh International Festival this year. In the 2010/11 Season, he makes his debuts with the Wiener Symphoniker, Royal Concertgebouw, Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras.

YouTube Announces Launch of “YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011” Culminating in a Performance at Sydney Opera House

With Michael Tilson Thomas, London Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Sydney Symphony, and Other Leading Institutions & Figures of Classical Music World

After a sold-out performance last year at Carnegie Hall, YouTube opens online auditions for a second global collaborative orchestra to perform at a week-long summit at Sydney Opera House in March 2011.

YouTube™ today announced a collaboration with Sydney Opera House, Grammy Award-winning conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, the London Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, and many other leading institutions and figures of the classical music world, to launch the "YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011", a global online audition for a collaborative orchestra where amateur musicians can share their knowledge and experience of making music with the support of some of the world’s leading classical artists. Musicians selected for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 will be invited to a week-long classical music summit of rehearsals, concerts, and master classes at Sydney Opera House in March 2011, culminating in a performance conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.

The announcement at synchronized events at New York’s Carnegie Hall and Sydney Opera House follows the success of the original YouTube Symphony Orchestra, which, after thousands of global submissions, brought more than 90 musicians from 30 countries to play a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall in April, 2009.

The online audition period for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 opens October 12, 2010, and auditions extend through November 28, 2010. To be considered, musicians from around the world are invited to upload audition videos of designated pieces to demonstrate their musical and technical abilities. New this year, an additional search for solo improvisers brings a further dimension to the project, beyond traditional classical instruments, and invites further online collaboration. For the solo improviser audition, musicians may submit an original improvisation, on any instrument, based on the new composition “Mothership” by composer Mason Bates for the opportunity to play their own solo during the final performance. An expert panel drawn from leading orchestras around the world will narrow entries down to the semifinalists in both audition categories. The YouTube community will then be invited to vote online from December 10, 2010 through December 17, 2010. Musicians who are selected from this semifinalist group will be announced on YouTube on January 11, 2011. For official rules of entry and FAQ, consult the YouTube Symphony Orchestra channel.

In March 2011, selected musicians will be flown to the iconic setting of Sydney Opera House to participate in a week-long classical music summit with leading performers in the field, culminating in a final performance on March 20, 2011, which will be live-streamed on YouTube. The YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 will further focus on celebrating musical education, offering online master classes with orchestras around the world and classes for Australian musicians during the summit week in March. The program also works to bring the creative multi-media and collaborative qualities of YouTube into the classical music world. It aims to use the inherent democracy of the Internet to offer musicians around the world — whether professional, aspiring, or retired — an opportunity to play at Sydney Opera House.

Bryn Terfel: Carols & Christmas Songs

Bryn Terfel Celebrates the Holidays with Traditional Songs and Welsh Favorites out November 2nd on Deutsche Grammophon

The holidays conjure images of crackling fires, luminous trees, family gatherings and warm baked treats. This season, Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel will provide the accompaniment to this joyful time with his new release Carols and Christmas Songs available from Deutsche Grammophon on November 2nd, 2010.

The highlight of the new album is a duet of “White Christmas” with the legendary Bing Crosby. The vocals were taken from the original recording as performed by Bing Crosby With The Ken Darby Singers & John Scott Trotter & His Orchestra. Terfel then focuses on his favorite traditional songs of the season including O Holy Night, In the Bleak Midwinter and Away in a Manger. Tenor Rolando Villazón joins Terfel in a performance of El Nacimiento while Welsh harpist Catrin Finch duets on Silent Night and What Child is This.

“Music is always a constant background accompaniment, and such an integral part of the festive period,” says Terfel. “How excited I was at the prospect of recording some of these wonderful songs, especially knowing that the Welsh repertoire would also find its way onto the list.” As a bonus, Terfel recorded a bonus disc of songs from his native Wales. He invited two Welsh singers and songwriters to contribute: Gwarw Edwards sings a duet with Bryn and Caryl Parry Jones has new Christmas songs for Bryn. Also included as guests are the chorus Côrdydd and the Nidus Children’s Choir.

This release comes just as Terfel has finished his first Wotan at the Metropolitan Opera in their opening night performance of Das Rheingold. He continues to tour the US in recital throughout November, including performances at Carnegie Hall in New York on November 17th, Berkeley on November 20th and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on November 22nd. His US appearances conclude with three concerts of Wagner with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen November 26th-28th.

Rufus Wainwright performs the World Premiere of his Five Shakespeare Sonnets with San Francisco Symphony

Jeffrey Kahane conducts the Orchestra in Weill’s Symphony No. 2 and leads from the keyboard in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major

On November 11, 12 and 13 at Davies Symphony Hall, Jeffrey Kahane leads the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) and vocalist Rufus Wainwright in the world premiere of the singer’s SFS-commissioned Five Shakespeare Sonnets. For these concerts Kahane will also conduct the Orchestra in Kurt Weill’s Symphony No. 2 and lead from the keyboard in Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major. These concerts mark Rufus Wainwright’s debut with the San Francisco Symphony.

Rufus Wainwright composed and orchestrated Five Shakespeare Sonnets, his song-cycle of Shakespeare’s Sonnets numbers 43, 20, 10, 129 and 87. He first composed these for a small ensemble to perform as part of Shakespeares Sonette, a play directed by avant-garde theater visionary Robert Wilson. The play was staged in April 2009 at the Berliner Ensemble, the German theatre company established by playwright Bertolt Brecht and his wife, Helene Weigel, in 1949 in East Berlin . With the success of the performances, and encouragement from the San Francisco Symphony, Wainwright was further inspired to create full orchestrations for the Sonnets. Of them Wainwright enthused, “One cannot immerse themselves in Shakespeare's sonnets and not be submerged, drowned, and finally resurrected a better human being. They are, hands down, the greatest works ever written.” Solo sketches of sonnets 10, 20 and 43 with Wainwright accompanying himself on piano can be heard on his 2010 recording All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu.

Pluhar, Jaroussky and Fray: Not a Law Firm, But Three Virgin Classics Artists Bound for the Big Apple

Three remarkable Virgin Classics artists are headed this fall to New York, where they will appear in two concerts at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall. Early music maverick Christina Pluhar, leading her dynamic Baroque ensemble L’Arpeggiata, will team up with French star countertenor Philippe Jaroussky in a performance on Friday, October 29 that will feature “Teatro d’amore”, a Monteverdi-inspired program recorded previously for Virgin Classics. The concert marks their Zankel Hall debut. The following month, the charismatic young French pianist David Fray returns to New York City to perform a program of Schubert and Bach, composers who were featured on Fray’s first three much acclaimed Virgin Classics albums. The recital on Tuesday, November 16 will mark Fray’s New York recital debut.

With their singular approach combining early music performance practice with the inspiration of folk, jazz and popular music, Christina Pluhar and L’Arpeggiata present audiences with an experience that might be best described as a Baroque jam session. At its roots, L'Arpeggiata is devoted to instrumental improvisation, as well as taking a different approach to singing influenced by traditional folk music, and creating and staging attractive live shows. Reviewing Teatro d’amore, the group’s debut release on Virgin Classics, a reporter for BBC Radio 3 praised the “unusually gifted musicians who work in that grey area where art music meets folk.” The reporter continued, “Here they're exploring the simple repeated bass lines and harmonies that have formed the basis for all kinds of music, in every continent, from the earliest dance music, through folk, classical, romantic and contemporary art music, jazz, and of course pop and rock.” A review of the album in the All Music Guide noted, “These performances shimmer with vibrant energy.”

The Met Live in HD presents Boris Godunov in theaters Saturday, October 23

The Met: Live in HD continues its fifth season with Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov in movie theaters worldwide this Saturday, October 23 at 12:00 pm ET. Boris Godunov is an epic spectacle that captures the suffering and ambition of a nation; with René Pape performing one of the greatest bass roles in a new production by Stephen Wadsworth. Valery Gergiev conducts an enormous cast that also includes and Aleksandrs Antonenko, Vladimir Ognovenko, Ekaterina Semenchuk, and a chorus of 120 singers.

Boris Godunov’s intermission features will include interviews with director Stephen Wadsworth joined by Andrey Popov (Holy Fool) and Mikhail Petrenko (Pimen); Ekaterina Semenchuk (Marina) and Aleksandrs Antonenko (Grigori); and Donald Palumbo with chorus members Jean Braham & Rob Maher. Anna Netrebko and Mariusz Kwiecien will also be interviewed about their appearances in the upcoming The Met Live: in HD presentation of Don Pasquale on November 13.

Sir Colin Davis to Conduct the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra thru Bruckner Symphony No. 7

On 25th October, Sir Colin Davis takes to the platform at the Barbican Hall to conduct the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra perform Bruckner’s Symphony no. 7, the overture to Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Mozart’s Horn Concerto no. 4. The concert features horn player Lauren Reeve-Rawlings who is a student at the Guildhall School and in 2009 was finalist of the BBC Radio 2 Brass Young Musician.

As part of the Centre for Orchestra initiative, the musicians are coached by London Symphony Orchestra players prior to the performance. Centre for Orchestra is a unique collaboration between the LSO, Guildhall School and Barbican creating a forum in London for orchestral development in the 21st century.

The concert will be preceded by a free performance:
6:00 pm, Guildhall Artists at the Barbican: Mozart Lieder

Tickets £15 and £10 (£5 concessions) available from the Barbican Box Office 020 7638 8891

Monday, October 18, 2010

Legendary Sitarist Ravi Shankar Returns to the Meyerhoff for 90th Birthday World Tour, Nov. 5

Dubbed “the godfather of world music” by friend, pupil and Beatle George Harrison, the legendary sitarist Ravi Shankar returns to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall for a one-night engagement Friday, November 5, 2010 as part of his 90th birthday world tour. A renowned virtuoso, Ravi Shankar has performed throughout the world for eight decades. In addition to his mastery of the sitar, he is a writer, a teacher and his compositions for orchestra and film have won him high praise, including a Grammy Award and Oscar nominations.

Ravi Shankar is widely credited for bringing Indian classical music to the attention of the world in the 1960’s. Originally a means of spiritual meditation dating back 2,000 years to ancient Hindu scripture, the art form combines melodies and rhythms into distinct modes, ragas, each of which is associated with a specific mood and season. Performing on traditional instruments, including the sitar and tabla (drum), musicians improvise within ragas, with an aesthetic intent of conveying the performer’s inner spirit. His recording of "Tana Mana," released in 1987, brought Shankar's music into the "new age" with its unique method of combining traditional instruments with electronics. He has written three concertos for sitar and orchestra, the most recent in 2008.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Honesty in Music Education - or Getting to the Truth When Writing Music For Musicians

A few days ago several of my chamber pieces were performed at the Newman Center in Denver. While having my music performed is always a thrilling experience, there are some events around that performance that I found interesting and disturbing in terms of how student musicians responded to music written by a fellow (albeit a graduate) student.

Two specific events stand out and highlight a problem composers face in writing within the educational establishment. Both of these events illustrate the same dilemma: how do we learn to write professional level music if we're expected to write for students?

The first event took place four days prior to the performance. I received a rather frantic call from one of the performers who had been in possession of the music for weeks. "Chip, I don't know how to say this, but I can't play this, not as it's written..." The musician then went on to say just why the music I'd written couldn't be played. Unfortunately this rather lengthy message came to me via voice mail so I didn't really have a chance to respond first hand. We did end up connecting later that day to talk over the details. It seems that what I'd written was too complicated to be played with only a few days practice (the elephant in the room was the lack of review or practice that had occurred in the well over three weeks prior). The musician did attempt to apologize; "But I've been very busy and really just haven't had a chance to get to it until now."

As we talked about the problems it became clear that although the difficult element I had written was similar to elements in similar works by major classical composers, it was; "music that I'd have to study for months to really master." The more we talked the more I realized that what this musician was really saying is that they couldn't play it (well) with only a few days practice and I was being overly demanding expecting this level of commitment - I needed to simplify the piece.

As frustrating as this was, it was exacerbated by the fact that the musician had contracted pay for the gig and was still expecting to get paid for performance even though I now had to re-write and simplify the music for them.

I capitulated on both counts. I spent several hours re-writing the music so it was simple enough AND I paid them for their performance. No, I'm not happy with either of these events, but I didn't really feel I had a choice. With only 3 days notice, I would not have found another musician capable of playing music of this difficulty on short notice and pulling the piece(s) from the concert would have made a huge hole in the program and adversely affected other performers.

The second event happened after the concert, sort of a postmortem. A musician who had played in one of the ensemble pieces brought their part to go over some comments about the playability of the music. Initially I was terrified I was going to be ripped a new one, but felt I needed to face the music (and the musician) to hear what they had to say.

For the most part their postmortem comments were extremely constructive. There was one point however, "this note just doesn't sound good on this instrument," which I don't agree with. During concert the musician had opted to play something similar, but different. When I mentioned that I had seen this particular note and technique in a well known classical piece and that I had recently heard it performed really well, the musician continued to insist that it just wasn't possible to sound good due to the physical limitations of the instrument.

Ok, I understand the physics. But I also understand there are people who have taken that same note and played it beautifully --either they can overcome the physics or they are magicians. (It was a professional I had heard perform the note. so maybe one needs to be a magician to become professional.) The subtext of the student musician's comments was: "I can't play this note successfully as it's is written." --I'm ok with that statement - although I would have preferred they just come out and say it. I'm even ok with the way the student musician changed their part to make it sound better for the performance. However, I walked away thinking that maybe they wanted me to not write notes or techniques that difficult into future works...

In the first instance the (very talented) musician was telling me I had somehow failed in the way I wrote the music and that I should consider writing something less demanding in the future. The second (also very talented) musician actually felt what I'd written was fine, but not for a student performance - While I really appreciate their candid comments about the music, in both cases I felt the underlying expectation was that I should learn to write something less in the future. Why???

A difficulty composer's face in writing music in the educational environment is we're expected to have students perform the music. If you're writing in high school you're expected to write for high school musicians, in college, college musicians and in graduate school, graduate level musicians. So, if we are expected to not write at a professional level in school, when will we learn to write for professionals?

Several universities retain professional music ensembles to workshop student works. The undergraduate program at Napier University hires the Edinburgh Quartet to give a student works performance every year. This is immensely helpful in understanding what a professional ensemble can do with a piece of music. I wish my current institution had a similar program.

Unfortunately, the demands placed on a student musician's time, and the lack of support for placing new works into required recitals and boards means that players actually have very little time to spend on rehearsing a new work - basically they are doing the composer a favor. I truly appreciate the favor both these (and all of the) musicians did for me by playing my music. I really do!

I see the value in understanding how to write for a specific level of musician. When I write a piece specifically for someone I take great pains to understand their limitations and their specialties, writing the music to best show off their unique talents (while avoiding their limitations). Last year I wrote a little piece for a junior high string orchestra. For the most part it was right at their level with only a few elements beyond them. The teacher helped me iron out the difficult points and we ended up with a nice peice for the students to play. It isn't something I ever expect the New York Phil to open a concert with, but it's a nice piece that does what it was supposed to do - be playable for those at a junior high school playing ability.

I guess mainly what I am positing here is a realization that I won't be a graduate student forever. There is no magic moment when I cross the threshold from student level works to professional level works. If I want to write for professionals, then it seems reasonable that I need to push myself to that level while in my graduate studies - where mistakes can be corrected.

If I'm writing something generic (a composition written with no specific performer in mind) I want to write to the limits of my ability (as professional and demanding piece as possible). When I recruit a group of performers who are not professional to play it then I understand the performance may not be pitch perfect - and THAT's OK.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Slavic Music Comes to Denver with Mixed Results

Slava! A two week Slavic Music Festival began tonight with Peter Oundjian conducting the Colorado Symphony

Lise de la Salle on piano and Justin Bartels on Trumpet were featured in Shostakovich' Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Strings

Tonight was the opening concert of a two week Slavic Music Festival with the Colorado Symphony. With composers like Tchaikovsky, Shostakovic, Janáček and Rimsky-Korsakov the program was filled hard hitting, rich music with extensive use of brass. Much of the music is related to war and conflict, complete with fanfares and angular shifts in mood. It is powerful music stirring the emotions of the audience into a frenzy. These composers are real crowd pleasers and the audience was thrilled with every one.

The opening salvo was Tchaikovsky's March Slave, Op. 31, based on Serbian folk tunes and designed to encourage the Czar into war against Turkey. The familiar melody from God Save the Emperor, also used in the 1812 Overture had the low brass blaring away. The music is bombastic and Oundjian made sure it was over the top in that respect. It's a short piece but a great concert opener. The audience erupted with applause and even brought the conductor back for a second bow, rare for a concert opening piece.

Maestro Oundjian and the Colorado Symphony were joined for the next piece by Lise de la Salle on piano and Colorado Symphony's own Principal Trumpet Justin Bartels. Shostakovich' Concerto No. 1 for Piano, Trumpet and Strings is one of his more conservative works, but still gives lots of room for the pianist to shine. There are moments for the trumpet as well, but not as many - although some of these moments are difficult (like playing a low note with no preparation and sparse orchestration). For a young pianist (only 22), Ms de la Salle did well to demonstrate her skill on the piano. Shostakovich included typical Russian pounding of the keys, but also included soft whisper like moments which are extremely difficult to play each note evenly. Peter Oundjian guided the strings through a soft, supple passage leading into a trumpet moment creating a sense of both shadow and light in the music. The final movement provides a wonderful piano solo and then a brassy fanfare for the trumpet with the strings acting almost like percussion.

The Shostakovich has lots of wonderful moments, but seemed to lack clarity and drive. According to the program notes, one critic described the concerto as "conservative" and perhaps that would be a good way to describe the performance. The soloists were determined to make each note perfect while the conductor coaxed the orchestra through each movement to create a good performance -just not a great one.

The music of Leoš Janáček is hard to compare to any other composer. There are aspects of romantic music, but other moments where he leads the way into future generations of Slavic composers like Shostakovich. Janáček tends to be dense and richly layered, but also filled with tender, lyrical moments. Taras Bulba, Rhapsody for Orchestra is no exception. The theme is dark, based on a episodes from a novel by Nikolai Gogol, it tells the story of a brutal Cossack and his two sons.

What could have been the highlight of the evening was luke warm. The density of the music kept any particular theme from creeping out. The softer, more delicate moments were beautiful. Solos by Yumi Hwang-William on violin, Brook Ellen Schoenwald on Flute, Courtney Hershey Bress on Harp, Bil Jackson on Clarinet and Silver Ainomae on cello were wonderful. The quality of playing was certainly evident; yet somehow the music failed to emotionally charge the hall. The audience applauded the quality of playing, but stopped short of really being enthusiastic with the overall performance.

The final piece of the night was Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio espagnol, featuring Yumi Hwang-Williams on violin. Like the Tchaikovsky, this piece is a crowd pleaser; it's hard to go wrong. The music dances with Spanish rhythms, while capturing the richness of Rimsky-Korsakov's masterful orchestration --a great way to close out the night!

Had the entire concert had the same energy and vitality of the opening and closing numbers it would have been an exceptional concert. Unfortunately it sagged in the middle.

New Music by Chip Michael

A chamber concert of some of Chip's music was performed at the Newman Center in Denver on October 12th, 2010.

The pieces performed:

  • Quattro Canzoni Degli Umori – Hannah Barton, Lotti Dorkota - Violin, Erica Green – Viola, Keith Kroesen - Cello
  • A Minus – Reggie Berg - Piano
  • Trusting – Drew Rackow - Baritone, Reggie Berg - Piano
  • Vikingr Harmr - Traci Nelson, Arthur Camargo Zanin - Trumpet, Brittany Binder - French Horn, Drew Rackow – Baritone, Jameson Bratcher - Tuba

Here is the recording of that concert

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Remembering Leonard Bernstein

Leonard Berstein was both a great composer and a great conductor. His influence in the world of music is still being felt by people who watch his Norton lectures for the first time (or the 5th which is what I'm on and still amazed by what I learn from them), or listen to recording of his performances or his music performed live by orchestras around the world. There are numerous conductors, such as Marin Alsop, who still comment on how influential he was in her career as a mentor. Personally, I feel his music is still teaching me things about where modern classical music is headed.

It's been twenty years since he passed and still he is very present in the world of music.

As a music blogger I get emails from all different sources, requesting I write about this or that, publicize this artist or promote this new album. As a graduate student I don't always have time to get to every request... but every so often one comes in that has to take a moment of my time - and should take a moment of yours.

I received an email from Elliot Tomaeno highlighting this letter on dot429.com. It's a beautiful letter by Alexander Bernstein speaking about his father, Leonard Bernstein.

If it's been a while since you've re-established your relationship with Leonard Bernstein I suggest you visit the website www.leonardbernstein.com or listen to any of the hundreds of videos on YouTube, or pull out that old collection of LP's (or CD's) of his music and re-introduce yourself to one of the greatest musical minds of the twentieth century.

dot429 was specifically designed to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professionals connect with other LGBT professionals. Providing a unique on and offline platform for the LGBT business community and its supporters to connect and expand their business network, further their careers and stay current with the business world.

Thank you Elliot for bringing this letter to my attention.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sir Colin Davis To Conduct The Guildhall Symphony Orchestra

Performing Bruckner Symphony No. 7 And Mozart Horn Concerto No. 4

On 25th October, Sir Colin Davis takes to the platform at the Barbican Hall to conduct the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra perform Bruckner’s Symphony no. 7, the overture to Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Mozart’s Horn Concerto no. 4. The concert features horn player Lauren Reeve-Rawlings who is a student at the Guildhall School and in 2009 was finalist of the BBC Radio 2 Brass Young Musician.

As part of the Centre for Orchestra initiative, the musicians are coached by London Symphony Orchestra players prior to the performance. Centre for Orchestra is a unique collaboration between the LSO, Guildhall School and Barbican creating a forum in London for orchestral development in the 21st century.

The concert will be preceded by a free performance:
6:00 pm, Guildhall Artists at the Barbican: Mozart Lieder
The Guildhall School is provided by the City of London.

Tickets £15 and £10 (£5 concessions) available from the Barbican Box Office 020 7638 8891

Legendary Singer Judy Collins Performs in Concert, Nov. 4 in Strathmore

The Grammy Award-winning performer of “Send in the Clowns” brings her solo show to the Music Center at Strathmore for one night only

Grammy Award-winning singer Judy Collins will perform her solo show on Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. Judy Collins has thrilled audiences worldwide for more than 50 years with her unique blend of interpretive folksongs and contemporary themes.

Collins began playing music at the age of 13, making her public debut on piano with teacher Antonia Brico at her side. Soon after, Collins developed an interest in folk music and left the world of classical music. Elektra Records signed Collins when she was just 22 years old and produced her first album, A Maid of Constant Sorrow. In the early 60’s, she sang traditional folk songs or music written by others, such as Bob Dylan. In 1966, her musical style began to change, and she began drawing from influences such as the Beatles, Jacques Brels and Kurt Weill. In 1967, Collins began to write her own compositions and received a Grammy award for her album Wildflowers.

Judy Collins is still entertaining audiences around the country, performing as many as 100 times a year. According to the New York Times, Collins has an “icy-sweet voice and classical approach to phrasing and intonation. [She] occupies a stylistic middle ground between folk and so-called art song.”

Please note the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will not appear in this performance.

Tickets for this concert range from $28-$88 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 877.BSO.1444, 410.783.8000 or BSOmusic.org.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Opera Colorado presents five performances of Puccini classic La Bohème

Saturday, November 6, 7:30 pm
Tuesday, November 9, 7:30 pm
Friday, November 12, 7:30 pm
Sunday, November 14, 2:00 pm
Tuesday, November 16, 7:30 pm

A chance meeting between a young poet and the beautiful young woman next door ignites one of the most romantic love stories of all time in Opera Colorado's upcoming production of La Bohème. Puccini's classic opera has enchanted generations of opera-lovers and introduced millions to the art form over the years. Due to the popularity of the opera, Opera Colorado has added an additional fifth performance to the schedule.

La Bohème will be performed at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Performing Arts Complex at the corner of 14th and Curtis in downtown Denver. The opera opens on Saturday, November 6 at 7:30 pm with additional performances on Tuesday, November 9 and Friday, November 12 at 7:30 pm and a 2:00 pm Sunday matinee on November 14. The additional fifth performance is scheduled for Tuesday, November 16 at 7:30 pm. Tickets start at $30 and go up to $165 and are available online at OperaColorado.org or by calling Ticketmaster at 800.982.ARTS.

The team that created Opera Colorado's production of The Pearl Fishers in 2009 will return to create La Bohème. Conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing will lead the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Lang-Lessing is the chief conductor and artistic director of Australia's Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and was recently named Music Director Designate of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra. Australian Stage Director Andrew Sinclair is a staff director for Royal Opera House Covent Garden and has staged numerous productions across the U.S.

René Pape is Boris Godunov at the Met, in new production opened Monday

René Pape will make his house role debut as Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov in a new production at the Metropolitan Opera (Oct 11-30, with October 23 "Live in HD" broadcast).

The press is eagerly anticipating Pape’s first Met portrayal of the Russian tsar, giving the ‘glorious and powerful’ bass star coverage in several notable publications. Pape graced the cover of Opera News’s September issue, and in the New York Observer Zachary Woolfe writes about what New York audiences can expect to see and hear when the singer assumes his crown:

“The sheer beauty of the voice can make you forget how thoughtful the portrayals really are, how carefully each word is considered. He does the thing that great operatic voices do so well, particularly in his repertoire of conflicted gods and wounded kings: combining authority with vulnerability and tenderness. There are no broad effects, no yelling or sobbing, just a truthfulness that makes his characters' emotions seem, in the way opera makes possible, simultaneously individualized and archetypal.”

After a production of Mussorgsky’s opera at Dresden's Semper Oper in 2008, Pape’s performance in the title role was acclaimed for its theatrical power and technical sophistication. A critic for the Frankfurter Rundschau described how he "is not just a glorious and powerful voice planted on the stage, but also [he] succeeds as a figure driven to madness by stress, tension and despair. … Pape sings Boris with a voice beautifully modulated in every register and at every volume – tender, nuanced in the expression of his self-doubt, his urge for power, being an attentive father and the awareness of own guilt. There is no better performer of this role in the world today." The Met's production of Boris Godunov is directed by Stephen Wadsworth. After the opening fall run, Pape will return as Boris to the Met in March 2011.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

SEVEN IS THE MAGIC NUMBER - Aronowitz Ensemble and chamber music in the heart of London's Camden Town

The Borletti-Buitoni Trust is supporting a series of four concerts this season at The Forge in London’s Camden Town, From One To Seven, created to showcase the adaptability of this highly-praised ensemble of seven very individual musicians and its range of repertoire, including new, neglected and familiar works about which they are especially passionate. The programmes begin with a lone musician and build to the full septet on stage. October’s concert adds another factor of seven by featuring composers from seven different countries.

3-7 Delancey Street, Camden Town, London NW1 7NL

Sunday 24 October 2010
Concert starts 8.30pm

Tickets £12 at www.forgevenue.org.

Christine Rice Performs Russian Songs With The Nash Ensemble At The Wigmore Hall

Mezzo-soprano Christine Rice joins the Nash Ensemble at the Wigmore Hall on Saturday 6 November in a programme of Russian Songs. Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky songs are performed alongside Borodin’s songs with obbligato cello. Arensky’s string quartet with two cellos, written in memory of Tchaikovsky, is paired with Tchaikovsky’s own much-loved slow movement from his String Quartet No. 1, and Beethoven’s String Quintet in C Op. 29.

The Nash Ensemble’s 2010/11 Wigmore Hall season, its first as official Chamber Ensemble in Residence at the prestigious London venue, explores Beethoven’s links to Russia, and his influence on Russian chamber music. Music by Beethoven is combined with works from the rich Russian tradition, presenting well-known masterpieces and lesser-known gems.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

“Two Performances In Honor of Judson” To Celebrate Avant Garde Dance Pioneers Oct. 29-30

Two Performances In Honor of Judson with work by choreographers, composers and performers Toby Armour, Arthur Aviles, Remy Charlip, Malcolm Goldstein, Aileen Passloff, Yvonne Rainer, Carolee Schneemann, EmmaGrace Skove-Epes, and Elaine Summers will take place Friday and Saturday, October 29 and 30, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. at Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, in New York City. Tickets are $20 (students/seniors $10) and can be purchased at www.judson.org or by calling 917-727-0431.

    The program (in process of finalization) will include: • Welcome, by Toby Armour • Dance for Corola (excerpt), choreography by Elaine Summers, music by Malcolm Goldstein • Sounding, by Malcolm Goldstein • Trio A (excerpt), choreography by and performed by Yvonne Rainer • Falling Dance, based on the drawings of Remy Charlip, interpreted by Arthur Aviles and Aileen Passloff • A Lesson in French, choreography by EmmaGrace Skove-Epes • Nocturne, choreography by Aileen Passloff • Lateral Splay, choreography by Carolee Schneemann
The Artistic Director of the performance is renowned choreographer Aileen Passloff, who was instrumental in the founding of Judson Dance Theater. Ms. Passloff is the L. May Hawver and Wallace Benjamin Flint Professor of Dance at Bard College. According to Passloff, “illustrious artists who had their beginning at Judson Church will be returning to perform or speak about their memories and about the meaning of these absolutely unique collaborations in Greenwich Village during a period of political and social ferment.” Two Performances In Honor of Judson is produced by Nicole and Michael Bloom.

These performances are held in conjunction with the exhibition “A Sanctuary for the Arts: Judson Memorial Church and the Avant-Garde, 1954-1977”, which opens at the Fales Library in the NYU Library on October 28. This groundbreaking exhibition, curated by Joanna Steinberg, will explore the synergies between the artists who performed at Judson Memorial Church in the 1960s and 70s and the church ministry and congregation. While the arts movements that took shape at Judson Church have enjoyed prominence, this exhibition re-examines the church’s involvement in the downtown arts scene, giving the church a stronger presence in the narrative.

A Roundtable Discussion, moderated by famed Village Voice critic Deborah Jowitt, launches the exhibition, focusing on the reverberations of Judson’s history, both for the church and the arts. Participants will include Essie Borden (former member of the Judson Poet’s Theater and congregant), and renowned members of Judson Dance Theater Malcolm Goldstein, Carolee Schneemann, and Yvonne Rainer. The roundtable discussion will be at Judson Church at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 28th, and the exhibition opening and reception will follow directly at 7:45 p.m. at Fales Library on the 3rd Floor of the NYU’s Bobst Library (one block east of Judson).

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pianist Jonathan Biss to Tour 10 U.S. Cities with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Oct 22-Nov 6

Mr. Biss to lead the ensemble from the keyboard performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto Nos. 9 & 12

Pianist Jonathan Biss will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat Major, K271 & Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, K414 with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields in 10 North American cities in October and November 2010, directing these works from the keyboard.

The all-Mozart tour programs will include: Symphony in D Major, K196/121, La finta giardiniera; Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K201; Divertimento in D Major, K136; and Cassation No. 1 in G Major, K63; led by director Kenneth Sillito. (See below for program details for each city.) The tour begins on Friday, October 22 in Austin, TX and then travels to Spring, TX (10/23), Waco, TX (10/25), Dallas, TX (10/26), Conway, AR (10/28), Fayetteville, AR (10/29), Thomasville, GA (11/1), North Bethesda, MD (11/3), Selinsgrove, PA (11/4), and Greenvale, NY (11/6).

Mr. Biss says these concerts will reacquaint him with a familiar and beloved Mozart concerto and also see him venture into new territory: “The Piano Concerto K271 is the first of a long line of miracles Mozart created in the genre. In it, he takes a form which had previously been primarily an outlet for his fluency and charm, and imbues it with an imagination, drama, and above all, depth which is astonishing. This is one of the Mozart concerti I've played most, and yet it continues to offer revelations every time I come back to it,” says Mr. Biss. “The Concerto K414, on the other hand, is new to me, and it has been pure pleasure to get to know. People often talk about Mozart's ‘simplicity’ and this concerto would be the perfect example - it has a beauty which is extremely pure, even naive, and its perfection of proportion is impressive even by Mozart's own impossible standard. Its total lack of ostentation also makes a beautiful contrast with the other concerto on the program, which has plenty of brilliance to go with its profundity.”

The ASMF tour is one of many highlights of Mr. Biss’s 2010-11 season which includes performing Beethoven concerti with the New York Philharmonic and Boston , Chicago and San Francisco Symphony Orchestras. Mr. Biss, who turned 30 in September, will also make his Carnegie Hall recital debut in the Isaac Stern Auditorium on January 21, 2011. The program includes the New York premiere of Three Pieces for Piano, a new work written for him by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Bernard Rands, which he will premiere in Europe and also perform elsewhere in the U.S.

Friday, October 22, 8:00 PM
Bass Concert Hall, Austin , TX
Tickets: www.texasperformingarts.org
Phone: 512 471 1444

Saturday, October 23, 8:00 PM
The Centrum, Spring, TX
Tickets: www.cypresscreekface.org
Phone: 281 440 4850

Monday, October 25, 7:30 PM
Jones Hall, Waco , TX
Tickets: www.baylor.edu/music
Phone: 254 710 3571

Tuesday, October 26, 8:00 PM
Meyerson Center , Dallas , TX
Tickets: www.dallassymphony.com
Phone: 214 692 0203

Thursday, October 28, 7:30 PM
Reynolds Auditorium, Conway , AR
Tickets: www.uca.edu
Phone: 866 810 0012

Friday, October 29, 8:00 PM
Baum Walker Hall, Fayetteville , AR
Tickets: www.waltonartscenter.org
Phone: 479 443 5600

Monday, November 1, 8:00 PM
Thomasville Cultural Center, Thomasville , GA
Tickets: www.tefconcerts.com Phone: 229 226 7404

Wednesday, November 3, 8:00 PM
Tickets: www.strathmore.org/eventstickets
Phone: 301 581 5100

Thursday, November 4, 7:30 PM
Degenstein Center , Selinsgrove , PA
Tickets: www.susqu.edu/arts
Phone: 570 372 2787

Saturday, November 6, 8:00 PM
Tilles Center , Greenvale , NY
Tickets: www.tillescenter.org
Phone: 516 299 3100

Rehearsing a New Work

Way back in May of 2008, I remarked on the first night of rehearsal with the Edinburgh Symphony. Well, last night I was treated (if that's the right word) to yet another rehearsal of my music (as conductor) with the Boulder Symphony Orchestra. Interesting how similar and yet very different these rehearsals were. I learned from that first rehearsal to write in reminder accidentals. My string writing in Exchanging Glances is much stronger than when I first wrote "You Can't Catch Rabbit's With Drums." Phrases, bow marking and use of divisi is much better.

However, my music is more rhythmically intense now. "Rabbit's" is pretty strong rhythmically, but Exchanging Glances is quite a bit more difficult. The way the rhythms shift within the meter is more subtle and thus much more difficult to handle both as a conductor and as a performer.

It was the musicians first glance at the music last night and they did extremely well handling all the off rhythm elements --much better than I did with the shifting meter. I handle a quick 5/8 pretty well, but ask me to slow it down to a Largo tempo and I hopeless.

What I walked away feeling was simply the music was possible. There isn't anything striking that seemed impossible, although there are certainly a few places that the musicians are going to need to work on to make sure they are played correctly. Perhaps a major orchestra would have done with a first reading, but I'm not convinced even they would grasp the shifts in rhythm right out of the gate. Exchanging Glances is a deceptively difficult piece. It requires the musicians and conductor to be constantly thinking through out the 10 minutes, yet it sounds so delightfully simple to the ear.

Here's hoping Boulder Symphony Orchestra and Devin Hughes can translate that simplicity to their audience on November 13th.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Elīna Garanča releases new CD Habanera available Oct 26th

Released October 26th in time for Carmen performances at the Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall appearance with Alagna

Deutsche Grammophon releases Elīna Garanča’s Habanera. On this album, Garanča’s supple, seductive mezzo is aflame with the neon hues and rhythmic dash of Romany in excerpts from beguiling Gypsy roles from opera, operetta and song. With gorgeous pieces eliciting every gift Garanča boasts as a musician, Habanera's instrumental accompaniments – whether RAI’s full orchestra, small ensemble or guitar – add to the sultry atmosphere. Conductor Karel Mark Chichon contributes taut yet elastic leadership that enhances the charm and variety of Elīna Garanča’s selections.

On this album, the dialects derived from Gypsy musical language include Bizet’s Carmen, Bernstein’s Candide, Lehar’s Zigeunerliebe and little-known gems like Obradors’ El vito making for a musically enlightening and delightful program.

Every generation has its “must see” Carmen. In 2010, the list of definitive gypsy seductresses – glittering with names like Baltsa, Bumbry, Farrar, and Stevens – was enriched by the addition of Musical America’s 2010 Vocalist of the Year and Opera News cover artist Elīna Garanča. After her triumphant success as Carmen in Riga, London, and Munich, Elīna Garanča became “the most convincing Carmen in a long time” (New York Magazine) at the Metropolitan Opera where she made her role debut in January 2010 in a stunning new production by Richard Eyre (to be released on Deutsche Grammophon DVD on September 21st). Garanča returns to the Met for nine more performances in the role on November 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 27, 30 and December 4. Additionally, Elīna Garanča will appear with her co-star in the Carmen DVD, Roberto Alagna, at Carnegie Hall on October 25 in a concert performance of Massenet’s La Navarraise with the Opera Orchestra of New York.

New Release from Cecilia Bartoli "Sospiri" On Decca

Decca Releases Cecilia Bartoli’s Sospiri – A Collection of her Most Beautiful Recordings, Available November 2, 2010

Last year Cecilia Bartoli released Sacrificium which immediately topped charts around the world (#1 debut on Billboard’s Classical Chart, platinum in France, Belgium and the Netherlands and gold in Switzerland) and became her fast-selling album ever. This year, Decca pays tribute to the mezzo’s art with Sospiri, a 2-CD collection of her most beautiful recordings including two never-before-released tracks. Presented in deluxe packaging, this truly collectible edition will be released on November 2, 2010.

Cecilia Bartoli is loved the world over for vocal fireworks and spectacular coloratura, but she is also adored for her spine-tingling pianissimi and her ability to shape endless, velvety phrases. It is this softer, more sensual side to her singing that Decca celebrates with the release of Sospiri. Bartoli’s remarkable technical ability and breath control are put on display to dazzling effect with selections that span from Handel and Vivaldi through Rossini and Bellini to Fauré and Duruflé.

For fans of Cecilia Bartoli there is the added bonus of a new interpretation of Rosina’s aria Una voce poco fa from Il Barbiere di Siviglia. This aria of young love has been a calling-card for Bartoli since her professional debut and she infuses this new interpretation with all her knowledge of the baroque and classical tradition on which Rossini’s music was founded, her experience of period practice and critical reading of manuscripts together with a playfulness and variety of colors which she has acquired over the years. In addition, Sospiri includes the previously unreleased aria and world-premiere recording of Vinci’s Cervo in bosco, one of Farinelli’s most often performed arias.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Decca to Release All-New Recording of Eric Whitacre’s Choral Music with Whitacre Conducting for the First Time on Recording

Album Includes Three World-Premiere Recordings and Guest Appearances by the King’s Singers and Other Artists

In May 2010, Eric Whitacre joined a handful of composers to have secured an exclusive, long-term recording contract with a major label when he agreed to a global deal with Decca. Whitacre recorded his debut Decca album Light & Gold in London at the beginning of August with a choral group including the Eric Whitacre Singers and Laudibus (“It truly feels like driving a Ferrari” Whitacre said of working with the choir of elite professional choral singers). The album, to be released on October 19th, includes some of Whitacre’s best-loved choral works as well as three world-premiere recordings. This will be the first time Whitacre has both recorded and conducted his own music.

The Five Hebrew Love Songs will feature the excellent Pavao Quartet, and The Stolen Child will feature the incomparable King’s Singers. All of the soprano solos will be sung by Grace Davidson.

Whitacre, a charismatic Californian, is already a well-known name in choirs across the world, admired for his beautifully paced and richly harmonized works. He has also become a powerful spokesperson for music, having followed in the footsteps of Bill Gates and President Obama as guest speaker at the TED conference. His unique combination of accessibility and musical integrity are appreciated by an eclectic fanbase. Here is someone who is truly bridging the gap between the traditional concert hall and the 21st Century virtual world.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sony Music Entertainment Launches Groundbreaking Classical Music Store Ariama.com

One-stop shopping solution for classical CDs and digital downloads from more than 50 major and independent labels

Sony Music Entertainment today launches the public beta for Ariama.com, a new online store dedicated to classical music that revolutionizes how fans can discover and conveniently acquire classical music on the web. Offering music from more than 50 major and leading independent labels, Ariama is an elegant one-stop destination for CDs, high-quality MP3s and lossless digital downloads. Ariama optimizes the online buying experience by combining this unrivaled convenience and choice for purchasing recordings with powerful new search and discovery tools designed specifically for the needs of classical music shoppers.

The site’s rich search function extends beyond the limited track/artist/album filter options and offers users the ability to browse and filter music by important elements like composition, period, instrumentation, conductor, ensemble, and soloist. “We are thrilled to announce the beta launch of Ariama.com,” said Thomas Hesse, President, Global Digital Business, US Sales, and Corporate Strategy, Sony Music Entertainment. “We think classical consumers are an important under-served segment of the music buying population, and we have designed Ariama as the answer for fans experiencing an increasingly difficult time finding compelling retail options for classical CDs and downloads.  As a company that is home to one of the world’s richest classical music libraries, Sony Music understands the unique requirements of the classical music consumer, and we have tailored Ariama to meet them.”

In the coming weeks, as Ariama further develops the service, additional content and features will be added  to the site. Major brand partnerships within the classical music world also will be announced. Already Ariama features exclusive editorial features, record recommendations and artist interviews, as well as content from partnerships with leading publications including Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine Ariama.com represents the new standard for classical music commerce online. With its deep selection of music, compelling search tools and valuable recommendations, Ariama is an ideal shopping environment for everyone from the new classical fan to the knowledgeable collector.

Castleton Festival Announces National & International Partnerships & Expanded Program

2011 Festival to open Friday, June 25 and run through to Sunday, July 24

Opening night gala to feature a new production of Puccini's La Bohème conducted by Lorin Maazel and directed by William Kerley in an unconventional, intimate staging.

New productions of Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins and Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges to be featured at the 2011 Castleton Festival in Rappahannock County, Virginia

The Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas , Virginia to host three Castleton Festival performances

A new partnership with China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) to begin in 2011 with two concerts by the Castleton Festival Orchestra in Beijing July 29 & 30

The Castleton Festival & NCPA to co-produce a new staging of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville to be premiered in Beijing November 2011 and to open the 2012 Castleton Festival

Castleton Festival productions of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and Albert Herring to be presented by Cal Performances in Berkeley, California in 2011 The 2011 Castleton Festival to feature guest instrumentalists and singers including mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves and violinist Jennifer Koh

Artistic Directors of the Castleton Festival, conductor Lorin Maazel and Dietlinde Turban Maazel, today announced that the third festival to be held Friday, June 25 through Sunday, July 24, 2011 will open with a distinct new production of Puccini’s La Bohème conducted by Lorin Maazel and will also feature new productions of Kurt Weill’s The Seven Deadly Sins and Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. The Castleton Festival will continue to expand, with Maestro Maazel leading three performances at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas, VA, and concerts by the Castleton Festival Orchestra and Maestro Maazel presented by China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Beijing on July 29 and 30, heralding the beginning of a new partnership. The roster of performers at the 2011 festival will also expand, with instrumentalists and singers including mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves and violinist Jennifer Koh to perform alongside and mentor the young artists taking part in the Castleton Residency Program. The Castleton Festival Orchestra will continue to bring together talented young musicians from around the world.

“The Castleton Festival Orchestra has grown into a world symphony of young talent,” says Maestro Maazel. “As in previous years, we will have top-flight musicians from many countries and organizations and in addition to players from Qatar , England , Europe, South America and the United States , in 2011 the Castleton Festival will welcome new aspiring talent from Korea and China .”

“Our festival is about the future. Our goals are vibrant and are being achieved and I look forward with confidence and joy to more years of mentoring and nurturing talented young artists at Castleton.”

The heart of the Castleton Festival will remain at the Maazels’ 550-acre property, Castleton Farms, in Rappahannock County, VA with performances of operas and orchestral concerts. In addition to the new productions and four orchestral concerts, revivals of previous Castleton Festival productions of Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale and Manuel de Falla’s Master Pedro’s Puppet Show will be presented at Castleton Farms during the 2011 festival. All of the Castleton Festival productions are directed by Castleton’s Resident Stage Director, William Kerley, with sets and costumes by Nicholas Vaughan and lighting by Rie Ono.

The opening night gala on Friday, June 25 will feature a new production of Puccini’s La Bohème that Maestro Maazel describes as taking a fresh and different approach in terms of staging, an approach that has become a hallmark of Mr. Kerley’s festival productions. La Bohème will be performed four times at Castleton Farms throughout the festival.

The 2011 Festival will expand eastward into Virginia – and closer to Washington , DC – with three performances held at the Hylton Performing Arts Center located on George Mason University ’s Prince William campus in Manassas , VA. A concert version of Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess will be held on Thursday, July 3 and a concert of American music commemorating the 150th anniversary of The Battle of Bull Run featuring mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves will be held on Thursday, July 21. A performance of Il Tabarro & Gianni Schicchi from Puccini’s Il Trittico that was presented at the 2010 Castleton Festival will be held on Thursday, July 14. All three performances will be led by Maestro Maazel in the 1,121-seat Merchant Hall, almost three times the size of the Castleton Festival tent.

“In 2011, the new partnerships that have been forged will place the Castleton Festival squarely upon the international stage,” says Maestro Maazel. “Our new partnership with the Hylton Performing Arts Center will give the Festival a splendid venue for its repertoire and provide the HPAC with the highest quality of performance. Washingtonians can enjoy selected fruits of the Castleton Festival in Manassas , a short ride down the pike from DC. Of particular interest to me, who resides in a 1857 Castleton manor house which served as a hospital to both Confederate and Union forces during the Civil War, is the 150th anniversary of The Battle of Bull Run that we celebrate in Manassas on July 21.”

A new international partnership between the Castleton Festival and China ’s National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) will begin at the conclusion of the 2011 festival when Maestro Maazel and the Castleton Festival Orchestra will perform two concerts on July 29 and 30 at the state-of-the-art concert hall in Beijing . A co-production between the NCPA and the Castleton Festival of a new staging of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville directed by Mr. Kerley will be premiered in Beijing in November 2011 and will open the 2012 Castleton Festival.

“Since the opening of the spectacular facility in Beijing sporting a state-of-the art opera house, a recital/chamber opera space plus a concert hall all operated under the aegis of the NCPA, some 450 performances of classical music, drama and opera are given in Beijing each year,” says Maestro Maazel. “I am delighted that the Castleton Festival Orchestra has been invited to give two performances in the splendid concert hall and that we will work with the NCPA on The Barber of Seville. We are also discussing future projects that will further entwine the two institutions over the years to come.”

The Castleton Festival will also expand nationally during the 2010-11 concert season with Maestro Maazel leading Castleton productions of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and Albert Herring at the University of California in Berkeley presented by Cal PerformancesMarch 24-27, 2011.

“One of the most imaginative and comprehensive performing arts presenting and commissioning programs in the United States is unquestionably Cal Performances located on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley . The variety and quality of the performances is inspiring and at the cutting-edge of healthy innovation,” says Maestro Maazel. “The Castleton Festival is immensely proud to have its productions of The Rape of Lucretia and Albert Herring showcased in Berkeley this season and honored that ours will be an ongoing relationship for many years to come.”

The inaugural Castleton Festival was held in 2009 and grew out of the Castleton Residency Program for young artists run by The Châteauville Foundation, founded by Maestro Maazel and Mrs. Turban Maazel in 1997. The Castleton Festival brings around 200 young artists including singers, conductors, instrumentalists, directors, costume designers and lighting designers to live on the property for eight weeks to work with professional mentors and prepare the performances of the operas and concerts.

At the previous Festivals Maestro Maazel led Rolex Master Classes for conductors and three graduates from this program have been appointed Associate Conductors for the 2011 Castleton Festival. Han-Na Chang will return to lead the revival performances of Manuel de Falla’s Master Pedro’s Puppet Show and Levi Hammer, Assistant Conductor of the Akron Symphony Orchestra and Music Director of the Akron Youth Symphony, will lead the performances of The Seven Deadly Sins. Blake Richardson, who has recently taken part in residency programs with the Vienna Philharmonic and Barcelona Symphony, will be the third Associate Conductor.

Off-stage, the Castleton Festival has formed a new partnership with distinguished Virginia-based French chef, Gérard Pangaud, to enhance the Castleton experience for visitors. From the beginning, the Castleton Festival has worked with local farmers, wineries and restaurants to bring world-class locally-produced food to visitors to Castleton Farms. In 2011, Mr. Pangaud, who is the consultant for the Blue Rock Inn in Little Washington, will create fine dining menus for the Festival and guests will be given the option of pre-ordering food and wine when they purchase tickets. Dining options will range from sit-down, full-service meals to gourmet picnic boxes.

“One of the added attractions of the Castleton Festival experience next year will be the expanded dining opportunities provided by Gérard Pangaud who will make supper after the performances well worth waiting for,” says Maestro Maazel.

Full program and artist information for the 2011 Castleton Festival will be announced in January 2011. Tickets for the 2011 Castleton Festival, including Weekend Passes, will be available November 1st from www.castletonfestival.org.

Gilmore Artist Kirill Gerstein Plays Rachmaninoff with Semyon Bychkov at Cleveland Orchestra and San Francisco Symphony

It’s no secret that 2010 Gilmore Artist Kirill Gerstein has a way with the music of Rachmaninoff, consistently drawing raves for his “rhapsodic intensity and big-hearted Russian lyricism” (Chicago Tribune).  In conductor Semyon Bychkov it seems Gerstein has found a kindred spirit; like the pianist, Bychkov is an “eloquent champion” (Sunday Times) of Rachmaninoff’s work, and when the two performed the composer’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in Cologne, Gerstein “made the piano sing” (Kölner Rundschau).  Now pianist and conductor reunite to take their rendition of the Rhapsody to two of America’s top orchestras, making multiple appearances with both the Cleveland Orchestra (Oct 7-10) and the San Francisco Symphony (Oct 14-17).  This fall also sees the release on Myrios Classics of Gerstein’s new solo recital disc, which presents the premiere recording of Ophelia’s Last Dance by Oliver Knussen.

Gerstein has cemented his reputation as a Rachmaninoff interpreter with a number of key works for piano and orchestra.  His recent account of the composer’s Second Piano Concerto with the Chicago Symphony prompted Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein to write:

“One could tell just from the finely graded series of chords with which the work begins why the young Russian virtuoso won the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award for 2010.  Gerstein handled them like a master, and they launched a reading of rhapsodic intensity and big-hearted Russian lyricism.  He wowed the audience not by indulging in cheap tricks or self-regarding sensationalism but by treating this music seriously, like the splendid Romantic masterpiece it is.”

Likewise, in Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto with the Cleveland Orchestra, Gerstein “proved to be a bold, sensitive soloist, with an ability to send piano sound vibrantly into the summer night. … [He] made the lyrical material sing, and his fingers appeared to be unstoppable amid Rachmaninoff’s torrent of notes” (Plain Dealer).  As for the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini itself, the Houston Chronicle reports: “His approach was fast, virtuosic, and intellectually strong. …The last [variation] was particularly exciting as pianist and orchestra slowly ratcheted up the energy and intensity.”

The first big break for fellow Russian-American Semyon Bychkov came when he won the 1973 Rachmaninov Conducting Competition.  Like Gerstein, Bychkov is known for the high esteem in which he holds the Russian composer, making what the Financial Times describes as “the strongest possible case” for his music on “a knock-out disc” with Cologne’s WDR Symphony Orchestra, which Bychkov formerly served as chief conductor.

For Gerstein’s appearances with Bychkov at the Cleveland Orchestra, the Rhapsody forms the centerpiece of a program titled “Rhapsodic Rachmaninoff” in Severance Hall (Oct 7-10).  Gerstein and the conductor reprise the work with the San Francisco Symphony for the opening of the South Bay season at Cupertino’s Flint Center (Oct 14), before taking it to the orchestra’s home in Davies Symphony Hall (Oct 15-17).  Patrons will also have the opportunity to meet the pianist at CD signings after most of the performances.