. Interchanging Idioms: May 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Appoints Two New Senior Staff Members

Beth Buck as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Carol Bogash as Vice President of Education and Community Engagement

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) today announced two recent senior-level appointments. Beth Buck has joined the BSO as its new vice president and chief financial officer and Carol Bogash will fill a newly created position in September as the Orchestra’s vice president of education and community engagement. Ms. Bogash and Ms. Buck fill two leadership roles essential to the BSO’s strategic vision: to deepen audience engagement and cultivate new audiences through effective and transformative artistic and education initiatives, and to prosper artistically within a sustainably balanced budget.

Speaking of the appointments, President and CEO Paul Meecham commented, “I am thrilled that the BSO has been able to attract two candidates so highly qualified in their respective fields. As the BSO builds towards its centenary season in 2016, we have a superb management team in place to realize the artistic and financial goals of this wonderful orchestra and cultural institution.”

Opera Colorado announces premiere of Lori Laitman's opera The Scarlet Letter

Greg Carpenter, General Director of Opera Colorado, will announce that Opera Colorado will produce the professional world premiere of the opera The Scarlet Letter created by composer Lori Laitman and librettist David Mason. The new production of the opera will debut in May of 2013 as part of Opera Colorado's thirtieth anniversary season.

"The opera first came to our attention last year," Carpenter said. "I was struck by the lyrical beauty of this work and how it dramatically reflects the piece of classic American literature it is based upon." The full-length opera in two acts was inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 romantic novel set in 17th century Puritan Boston. "The opportunity to work with a composer of Lori Laitman's stature, as well as with Colorado's Poet Laureate, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Opera Colorado. We are excited to bring this new opera to life," Carpenter continued.

"I am thrilled that Opera Colorado will be presenting the professional world premiere of The Scarlet Letter in 2013," Laitman said. "Opera Colorado's dedication to excellence and education, under Greg Carpenter's visionary leadership, is truly inspiring. I cannot imagine a more perfect home for my opera than at the beautiful Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver."

Mason agreed, commenting, "I have admired Opera Colorado for years and to have these extraordinary people and this great theatre for the first professional production of our opera is simply marvelous. I can't wait for my fellow Coloradoans to discover just how great Lori Laitman's music is, and of course the drama of The Scarlet Letter is perennially important to America at large."

Laitman is one of America's most prolific and widely performed composers of vocal music, with over 200 songs to her credit as well as two operas and an oratorio. Laitman and Mason's recent composition, Vedem, an oratorio based on writings by children from the Terezin concentration camp, received its world premiere in 2010 and was released on the Naxos label in May, 2011. Laitman's works are performed frequently in the U.S. and abroad, including in such venues as Seattle's Benaroya Hall, The Kennedy Center and Amsterdam's Concertgebouw.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Downtown Homestead seeks grant to simulcast classical music

Homestead Main Street wants to bring classical music to the city’s historic downtown area. The non-profit is one of 56 finalists, from an initial pool of 1,300, for a share of millions in grant money for the project.

by Christina Veiga

The non-profit Homestead Main Street is a finalist for a share of $20 million in the Knight Arts Challenge Miami, an annual contest through The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Main Street’s project vision: a New World in Homestead. Executive Director Yvonne Knowles wants to bring simulcasts of the New World Symphony concerts in Miami Beach to historic downtown Homestead.

Main Street is one of 56 finalists from an initial pool of 1,300 applicants. The project, if selected would serve two purposes: providing more cultural experiences to deep South Miami-Dade, and bringing life to a long-struggling downtown area, Knowles said.

With a population of about 50,000, Homestead is no longer a small town, Knowles said. The city has not only grown in numbers, but also has a “burgeoning appreciation,” for the arts, she said. Already, downtown Homestead is home to a children’s art gallery, an artist community and an art-based Montessori school.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra announces its 2011-12 season

Since the end of the epic six-month musicians strike in April, Detroit Symphony Orchestra officials have been sprinting -- rebooting spring concerts, dropping ticket prices for the future by up to 50%, rebuilding next season and hashing out ambitious programs designed to broaden the orchestra's reach.

Much of the immediate future remains under construction, but one major edifice is being announced today: the 2011-12 classical and pops seasons at Orchestra Hall.

This will be music director Leonard Slatkin's fourth season, and what's most interesting -- and rewarding -- is how consistently classical programming tracks with Slatkin's previous agenda: Roughly 20% of the works are contemporary, nearly all of them by living composers working in America, from elder statesmen like William Bolcom and David Del Tredici to up-and-comers like Mason Bates. Nearly a third of the season represents DSO premieres.

The post-strike DSO is reinventing big chunks of its operation to better relate to the lives of metro Detroiters, but it's significant that Slatkin doesn't need to gin up or water down his core programming. Musically, the DSO is already engaged with contemporary life and already values surprise.

Not that it couldn't dig deeper. Slatkin's taste in new music favors audience-friendly styles, and unfamiliar fare is obsessively balanced on every program by a beloved evergreen. The orchestra would reach a higher plane of creativity if it at least opened a dialogue with harder-edged modernism from America and abroad and truly let go of the reins once in a while. Slatkin is walking a tightrope, trying to cultivate adventure while also minimizing risk.

Next season highlights include:

• Bates' "B-Sides," which mixes orchestra and electronics; Del Tredici's "Final Alice," a polystylistic 1976 score that helped lead classical music back to tonality; John Adams' post-9/11 memoriam "On the Transmigration of Souls," and Osvaldo Golijov's "Sidereus," the first work by this important Argentine-American composer to be performed by the DSO.

• A world premiere by Chinese-born Du Yun, winner of the DSO's Lebenbom prize for female composers.

• The overdue return of music director emeritus Neeme Järvi, who will team with pianist Helene Grimaud in Brahms' Second Piano Concerto and lead an unusual 50-minute arrangement of Wagner's "Die Meistersinger." • Appearances by conductors Jerzy Semkow, Helene Bouchez and Louis Langree; pianists Emanuel Ax, Kirill Gerstein and Robert Levin; violinists Nicola Benedetti and Julian Rachlin, and saxophonist Branford Marsalis.

The DSO also is planning neighborhood and community concerts, which will take the orchestra into the suburbs, and chamber music and education initiatives made possible by the new contract.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Join me in Las Vegas at the Ultimate Haus Dance Party for Lada Gaga's New CD Born This Way

That's Right, I'm going to Las Vegas to celebrate Lady Gaga's new CD.

Join me on May 27th at the Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, the final stop on her Ultimate Haus Dance Party tour to launch her new CD Born This way.

The CD release party will be making stops in Miami, LA, San Francisco, NYC and Vegas. Guests will find themselves at the Ultimate Haus Dance Party, a fully themed environment inspired by Born This Way where guests will sip specialty Belvedere cocktails such as “The Edge of Glory” and “Heavy Metal Lover,” courtesy of Interscope.

"Like" the Belvedere Facebook page, then register for your chance to join me in Las Vegas.

Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan
3708 Las Vegas Boulevard
Boulevard Pool
Las Vegas, NV
9 PM

eighth blackbird plays Jennifer Higdon’s On a Wire with Cleveland Orchestra and Welser-Möst on May 27

On May 27, eighth blackbird presents the Cleveland premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon’s new concerto On a Wire with the Cleveland Orchestra and its music director Franz Welser-Möst. This high-profile engagement at Severance Hall crowns a season in which the concerto for sextet and orchestra has figured prominently. After giving the piece its world premiere in Atlanta last June, eighth blackbird went on to tour On a Wire with orchestras across North America, and earlier this spring an album headlined by the Grammy Award-winning group’s premiere performance of the concerto launched the Atlanta Symphony’s new CD label, ASO Media. Two days after the Cleveland performance of On a Wire – this time without the orchestra – eighth blackbird makes a second appearance in Cleveland, playing its whimsical “Still Life” program, which includes music by Missy Mazzoli, Stephen Hartke, Pierre Boulez, and Philip Glass. eighth blackbird recently recorded this repertoire for a new album, due for release next season. “Still Life” is also scheduled for the sextet’s May 20 appearance at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

Bard SummerScape 2011 Presents The Wild Duck (1884), Henrik Ibsen’s Tragicomic Masterpiece (July 13–24)

The ninth annual Bard SummerScape presents The Wild Duck (“Vildanden”), a masterpiece of poetic realism by the father of modern drama, Henrik Ibsen. Considered by many to be the Norwegian dramatist’s finest and most complex work, The Wild Duck (1884) was described by George Bernard Shaw as combining “profound tragedy” with “irresistible comedy.” The new production from returning young Irish director Caitriona McLaughlin, who staged last season’s acclaimed Judgment Day, will be presented in David Eldridge’s celebrated new translation, in ten performances between July 13 and 24. These will take place in Theater Two of the Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on Bard College’s bucolic Hudson River campus.

The great Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) is the second most widely produced dramatist in the world, eclipsed only by Shakespeare; thanks to works like Peer Gynt, A Doll’s House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, and The Wild Duck, he is widely credited with introducing modernism to the theater. This year’s Bard Music Festival, on whose theme, as in previous seasons, SummerScape is based, presents “Sibelius and His World,” celebrating the life and works of Ibsen’s fellow Scandinavian, the preeminent Finnish symphonist Jean Sibelius. Despite belonging to an earlier generation, Ibsen anticipated and embraced the modernist movement to which the composer remained resistant. Yet Sibelius was not unaware of Ibsen’s work, which was in vogue and influential in Helsinki by the time the Finn moved there in 1885. There are moreover parallels between Ibsen’s work and Sibelius’s own; as cultural historian and Scandinavian specialist Paul Binding observes: “To [Sibelius] the symphony was a humanist document, analogous perhaps to the dramas of Ibsen.”

Commonly hailed as “the master’s masterpiece,” The Wild Duck was written at the height of the dramatist’s career and, in blending the naturalism of his middle dramas with the symbolism of his late period, marked something of a departure. It portrays the tragic consequences visited by the truth-seeking impulses of its protagonist – Gregers Werle, the idealistic son of a successful but duplicitous businessman – upon the family of his childhood friend, whose peaceful existence is founded on a tissue of lies. This enables Ibsen to posit the notion that people depend on their illusions to get by: that absolute truth can be too much for the human heart to bear or, as the play’s Dr. Relling would have it, “Deprive the average man of his vital lie and you rob him of happiness.”

Grammy® Award-winner Sandi Patty sings songs from the Great American Songbook in a night of uplifting music for the whole family - Jun 3rd in Denver

Gospel Music Hall of Fame inductee Sandi Patty joins the Colorado Symphony and Colorado Symphony Chorus for an inspirational night of Americana on Friday, June 3 at Boettcher Concert Hall. This one-night-only event features the five-time Grammy® Award-winner as she celebrates American music with such classics as "America the Beautiful," "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Winner of 39 Dove Awards, Patty is the most-awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music history with album sales in excess of 11 million, garnering her three platinum and five gold recordings. In her evening with the Colorado Symphony led by Scott O'Neil, and the Colorado Symphony Chorus under the direction of Duain Wolfe, Patty shines the spotlight on the Great American Songbook: music that is part of our cultural fabric. The evening features Patty in performance of unforgettable songs such as "Can't Help Lovin' That Man of Mine" from the 1927 musical Show Boat, and "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Disney's Pinocchio. Patty promises to delight concertgoers with "You'll Never Walk Alone" from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from Disney's Cinderella, and "Our Love Is Here To Stay," written by George and Ira Gershwin for the film The Goldwyn Follies and featured in the 1951 blockbuster, An American in Paris.

Colorado Symphony
Scott O'Neil, resident conductor
Colorado Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director
Sandi Patty

Performances:
ONE NIGHT ONLY!
7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 3. Tickets on sale now!

2011 Tribeca New Music Festival—Triple Play


Six New Concerts at Three Great Venues


Merkin Concert Hall, Galapagos Art Space, and The Cell

The New York Art Ensemble celebrates its 10th annual Tribeca New Music Festival—a series of six cutting-edge new music concerts at three great music venues, Merkin Concert Hall near Lincoln Center (May 23 & 26), Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO Brooklyn (May 31 & June 5), and the The Cell in Chelsea (June 9 & 10).

“We continue to grow!” said Festival curator Preston Stahly. “Last year, in order to accommodate a bigger audience, we moved from our original home at the Flea Theater in Tribeca up to Merkin Concert Hall where we presented four concerts. This year we’re expanding to six shows, and spreading them out over three wonderful new music venues in order to reach more people. Starting at Merkin Concert Hall, concerts #1 and #2 will present the string quartet ETHEL and their HomeBaked series of world premieres (May 23), followed by a double bill with the guitar quartet Dither and Stephen Griesgraber’s new-music band Redhooker (May 26). Then we swoop down to Brooklyn for concerts #3 and #4 at the Galapagos Art Space featuring our Tribeca Monsters led by violinist Mary Rowell and pianist Geoff Burleson (May 31), and Anti-Depressant with violinist Jennifer Choi and pianist Kathleen Supové along with composer/violinists Gregor Huebner and Jonathan Zalben (June 5). Last but not least, we take over The Cell in Chelsea for the final two concerts featuring the Gyan Riley Quartet (June 9) and the San Diego-based avant-pop band SWARMIUS (June 10). It’s a fantastic lineup with world premieres by Andy Akiho, Rick Baitz, Anna Clyne, Corey Dargel, Judd Greenstein, Stephen Greisgraber, Gregor Huebner, Matt Marks, Tristan Perich, Gyan Riley, Joseph Waters, Randall Woolf, Jonathan Zalben and recent works by Lisa R. Coons, Stewart Copland (The Police), Marc Mellits, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Preston Stahly, and Jacob TV, along with our 2011 Young Composer winner, Dylan Mattingly. We’re extremely proud to present such a wonderful variety of great new works!”

Tickets to all shows are available at their respective venue websites: 

Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center, www.kaufman-center.org or call 212-501-3330 

Galapagos Art Space, www.galapagosartspace.com or call 718-222-8500 

The Cell, www.thecelltheatre.com or call 800-838-3006

Gramophone Lauds medici.tv for "Treasures Aplenty," and Mobile App Is Named One of Top Five Classical Apps by WQXR

The freshly redesigned, ever-deepening medici.tv has reaped acclaim as one of the web's leading classical music experiences. In Gramophone’s June issue, editor-in-chief James Jolly details the medici.tv experience at length, marveling over the "treasures aplenty" on the site. The medici.tv app for iPads, iPhones and other digital devices – available for free at the Apple app store – was just named one of the top five apps for classical music by WQXR, the classical music station of New York City. WQXR points out that the medici.tv app "has classical music videos – lots of them. The library of 600 performances allows you to peek inside great European concert halls. Not all the videos are available on the free app, but you can access several hundred recent concerts, including the Louvre’s chamber music series featuring the Pacifica and Takács string quartets."

Among this month's live offerings on medici.tv is star violinist Janine Jansen and pianist Itamar Golan performing sonatas by Debussy and Ravel, plus Schubert's "Grand Duo" and an early Messiaen gem, his Theme and Variations. The Jansen recital will be filmed at the Salle Pleyel in Paris, and debuts live via medici.tv on May 12. Another must-see concert features violinist Renaud Capuçon performing with the Orchestre National de Lyon and conductor Jun Märkl in an all-French program on May 26.

Deutsche Grammophon Releases Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with Wunderlich and Fischer-Dieskau for the First Time on CD

Archival Recording Features Josef Krips Leading the Wiener Symphoniker in a Live Recording

2011 is a Mahler anniversary year celebrating the 100th anniversary of the composer’s death (May 18th). In honor, Deutsche Grammophon has uncovered a treasure from the archive: this live recording of a sold-out concert from the Vienna Festival given at the Musikverein on June 14, 1964. With incomparable soloists at the height of their individual powers, this was an unforgettable performance. Now released for the first time on CD, this faithfully restored recording presents a marvel of singing and orchestral playing and will be available in the US on May 24, 2011.

Josef Krips was an exceptionally gifted conductor and was recognized early for his innate ability with opera and singers. At the age of 24 he became Germany’s youngest general music director in Karlsruhe and had already led performances of Tristan und Isolde and Siegfried. Of course, Krips conducted much more than opera and, even as a child, had felt drawn to the music of Mahler. As soon as Krips began to conduct concerts he regularly programmed Mahler’s works, performing Das Lied von der Erde for the first time in Karlsruhe in 1928 and for the last time in Vienna in 1972. Among the other cities where he conducted it were London, Buffalo, New York and San Francisco, always with famous singers such as Anton Dermota, Richard Lewis, Jess Thomas, Kathleen Ferrier, Maureen Forrester and Dame Janet Baker. Yet, he conducted only one performance with a baritone soloist: this was the present performance with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

This performance took place during the 1964 Vienna Festival and was also the first time Krips worked with Wunderlich. The tenor and conductor would go on to work together at the Vienna State Opera in a number of Mozart’s operas and it was always an occasion of great joy and memorable performances. It was also a good time for Fischer-Dieskau who later recalled in a letter to Krips that this particular performance was his “…finest performance of Das Lied von der Erde”.

Interactive Website Allows Users to Stream Mahler Recordings and Explore Deutsche Grammophon Catalog at No Cost

Deutsche Grammophon & Decca Honor the 100th Anniversary of Mahler’s Death

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Gustav Mahler. Today, Mahler’s works are performed and recorded frequently and enjoy an esteemed place in any orchestra’s standard repertoire. In 2010 Deutsche Grammophon & Decca celebrated the 150th anniversary of Mahler’s birth with the Mahler150.com website, and the site continues to honor Mahler this year. In addition, DG will release a rare archival recording of the composer’s Das Lied von der Erde featuring Fritz Wunderlich and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau in a performance led by Josef Krips.

The Mahler 150 website, www.mahler150.com, is devoted to the composer and his music and offers full-track streaming of the complete Deutsche Grammophon and Decca Mahler catalogs featuring some 180 symphony recordings. Additionally, the comprehensive out-of-print section of over 60 albums includes important recordings that have become virtually unobtainable and legendary performances that are being made available for the first time digitally via the DG Web Shop. Simply select a symphony at the top of the site and then enjoy listening to a wide variety of recordings, both historic and recent. Listeners can compile their favorite playlist of Mahler recordings or simply sample DG and Decca’s library of great recordings.

As part of last year’s celebrations, DG & Decca asked listeners to vote for their favorite performances of the nine symphonies and unfinished 10th. The votes were tallied and the results were then turned into a box set, Mahler: The People’s Edition. Fully programmed by the general public, this unique box set allowed fans to make their voices heard as part of the Mahler celebration.

Deutsche Grammophon pays special honor to the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s death with a rare recording of Das Lied von der Erde. This live recording, taken from a sold-out concert during the Vienna Festival at the Musikverein on June 14, 1964, features Josef Krips leading the Wiener Symphoniker with soloists Fritz Wunderlich and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Released for the first time on CD, this recording comes from a unique source in the Krips family archive: a copy of the original ORF (Austrian Radio) tape which is no longer to be found. Saved from the vaults and lovingly restored by the expert engineers at the Emil Berliner Studios in Berlin, it is a marvel of singing from two great soloists and a great conductor who were all closely associated with this work. The album will be available May 24, 2011.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May-June: Kristjan Jarvi's new album of Reich's The Desert Music & Three Movements, by Chandos

Kristjan Järvi’s last album recorded as Music Director of the Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich will be released by Chandos on June 28 in the US and May 31 in the UK. A recording of Steve Reich’s The Desert Music and Three Movements, the Super Audio disc also features Austria’s Chorus sine nomine. The Desert Music was recorded at ORF Radio Kulturhaus in Vienna in October 2006 and Three Movements was recorded at the Musikverein in Vienna in November 2007.

The Desert Music is perhaps iconic American composer Steve Reich’s most ambitious orchestral score to date – a setting of texts by the American poet William Carlos Williams (1886 – 1963) for chorus and large orchestra. It is a highly symphonic piece which is inspired by Reich’s own travels in California’s Mojave Desert, the White Sands – and perhaps in particular the Alamagordo in New Mexico, which carries sinister associations with secret weapons of mass destruction and suggests a geographical link with the poet’s somber warning to mankind in the work’s central movement.

Another opportunity to write for large orchestra came when the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra commissioned Reich to write his Three Movements. This work was premiered in St. Louis under Leonard Slatkin in April 1986. As in The Desert Music, the sizeable string section is divided, here into two subsections which are placed to the left and right of the conductor to create the alternating antiphonal effect that is so characteristic of Reich’s style. Hearing the performances on this recording, Steve Reich described them as “incisive, focused, and intense,” and said, “this recording of Three Movements is the best I have ever heard. The Desert Music is full, rich, yet full of detail. Kristjan Järvi, the Tonkünstler-Orchester, and Chorus sine nomine perform with a relaxed rhythmic precision that perfectly fits the music. Bravo and thanks to all.”

The American composer Steve Reich pioneered the style of minimalism in music. He has been hugely influential on contemporary composers such as John Adams, but also on the progressive rock movement of the 80s with bands such as King Crimson and rock musicians such as Brian Eno. The Guardian has described him as one of “a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history.”

This is the third SACD recording on Chandos by the Vienna-based Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich under Kristjan Järvi, its Chief Conductor and Music Director from 2004 to 2009. They are joined by Chorus sine nomine, one of Austria’s leading vocal ensembles.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Receives Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

$100,000 grant will support the BSO’s 2011-2012 season programming and touring

Yesterday the National Endowment for the Arts honored the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with a grant of $100,000 to support the Orchestra’s upcoming November East coast tour and Spring 2012 West coast tour. Tour repertoire and educational activities all showcase the Orchestra’s 2011-2012 season programming theme that celebrates women as leaders. The BSO is one of 1,145 not-for-profit national, regional, state and local arts organizations recommended for a grant as part of the federal agency’s second round of fiscal year 2011 grants. In total, the Arts Endowment will distribute more than $88 million to support projects nationwide, with $100,000 being the largest grant awarded in this funding cycle.

In the 2011-2012 season, the fifth under BSO Music Director Marin Alsop’s direction, the BSO will bring its reinvigorated artistic vision and community outreach ethos to audiences on the East and West Coasts. Excluding select Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center engagements, this will mark the Orchestra’s first tour under Marin Alsop and the most recent West coast tour since the last tour in 1988. The 2011-2012 season is a year-long celebration of “Women as Leaders,” highlighting programs that feature works by female composers and that honor or depict women in varying roles throughout history, from religious martyr to humanitarian activist.

Michael Feinstein, May 31 & June 1, and Ellis Hall, June 3 & 4 with the Boston Pops

The Boston Pops and Keith Lockhart usher two enormous talents to the Symphony Hall stage for an exploration of the American Songbook and the American Icons who have transformed its tunes into cultural cornerstones. First up is Michael Feinstein, a performer whose vocal acrobatics are matched with an archivist’s instinct for a century of great American music. This two-part American Songbook program, first features a Boston Pops performance of light classical pieces, such as selections from Aaron Copland’s cowboy ballet Rodeo. The spotlight then shifts to Mr. Feinstein, as he croons tunes from the Frank Sinatra Songbook, with his irresistible Rat Pack charm, on Tuesday, May 31, and Wednesday, June 1. The June 1 concert also features performances by the up-and-coming musicians who topped the 2011 Young Artists Competition at the Boston Pops presented by Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund®.

The Pops next welcome Ellis Hall, the former lead singer of Tower of Power, for an evening of Motown magic and the icons of soul. As the first and only artist to sign to Ray Charles’s personal record label, Ellis Hall is arguably the best living artist to recall the Charles legacy and other legends of rhythm and blues on Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4. Boston Pops cellist Mihail Jojatu also takes center stage during these concerts to perform Gulda’s Concerto for Cello.

30th Annual Presidents at Pops, June 8 - Katharine McPhee joins the Boston Pops to celebrate 30th Anniversary of Presidents at Pops

Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops celebrate the 30th annual “Presidents at Pops” concert Wednesday, June 8, at 8 p.m., with special guest vocalist Katharine McPhee. Katharine McPhee, an American Idol finalist who appears with the Boston Pops on the 2009 Chris Botti in Boston CD and DVD, lends her supple voice and lush melodies to a program of classic Pops tunes as well as a set list of her own. Eight-voice a cappella sensation The Swingle Singers will join Ms. McPhee and the Boston Pops Orchestra for what has become one of the most anticipated fundraisers of its kind in Boston.

The 2011 “Presidents at Pops” committee, chaired by Peter Palandjian, has already raised $940,000, surpassing last year’s fundraising effort which raised $900,000. Since its inception in 1982, “Presidents at Pops” and its sister event “A Company Christmas at Pops” have raised nearly $43 million dollars, making the events among the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s most important annual fundraisers, and widely acclaimed as some of the largest and most successful corporate benefits for the arts in the United States. These generous donations, in part, help to fund the BSO’s youth and community outreach programs throughout the year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teaching Classical Music Composition: Taking Chances but Understanding the Purpose of Music

Where is the line between creating something new and just making noise?

There are probably multiple school of thought on the role education takes in training new classical music composers. To one side of the room are those educators who feel the safety and security of the educational environment is a great place for students to explore/experiment without fear of failure or rejection. Another side are those instructors attempting to teach the long established traditional methods of composition. Perhaps there are still other's who have a personal agenda, to create a series of clones of composers just like themselves. And then there is another corner where instructors haven't any idea what they're doing, and fumble along without really having any sort of plan. I'm sure there are other types as well - but this is enough to muddy the waters.

I'm not sure I really need to discuss the crime of instructors who haven't a plan (or haven't a clue). They are doing a disservice to their students by not really guiding them. IF, by some luck, a student ends up becoming a great composer, it's of no real credit to the instructor. Music composition isn't luck; it's craft. As such it needs a solid set of skills to achieve an end. Just randomly putting notes to paper won't necessarily create anything worthwhile, so just randomly providing instructor has no more chance of producing quality students.

Those instructors who want to make clones of themselves are likely doing so because no one has accepted their "style" of music composition. By creating a series of clones, these instructors hope to create an "army" of composers that history will look back and say, "Ah, he/she was the genesis of this style." Unfortunately, it's going to take a lot more people than just a few students to create a lasting style. So clone wars don't work.

There is some merit to teaching based on the methods of the past. It is how Bach was taught. How Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms were taught - and these are masters, without question. However, classical music has moved into new areas that traditional methods can't always replicate. How much more music would Mozart have written if he'd had computer software to make edits and changes? While hand copying music is a great way to really learn the notes, intervals and phrases of a given piece of music, there are thousands of pieces to learn from now. So, which ones should be used as examples and from what styles? If students tried to learn them all they'd be in composition school from the time they're four until their late forties. We also don't start children as early as Bach and Mozart started, which means the process would take even longer.

Perhaps there is a way to incorporate some of this style, to give students the idea of how to learn from the masters, without taking the long road of hand copying everything. That's what analysis classes are for. They do a great job of examining the music of the masters and identifying the elements that make them great. When it comes to 20th century music, there is some question as to what pieces do you opt to study. But even then this process works for really learning how the music works.

Unfortunately, analysis classes aren't composition classes and at some point composers have to translate what they've learned into re-creating the notes on the page. There is some "pastiche" work done - but not near enough (IMHO). Students may learn to write an invention like Bach in a counterpoint class, or four part choral writing like Haydn. They may even work on replicating later romantic music like Mendelssohn or Schubert, but I've not seen any examples of schools that teach using short examples of the hundreds of different techniques available to composers of the early 20th century. Again, theory and analysis classes discuss the techniques, but composition is not just understanding the technique; it is being able to put it into practice.

So we get to the next style of instruction, exploration and experimentation. This is great at allowing students to really use their imagination. Through guided instruction, it can even serve to teach late 20th century techniques through discovery. Students can explore musique concrete, or electronics, 12-tone techniques or pitch class sets, serialism or minimalism and a vast array of other techniques to learn what works for them. With a solid knowledge of classical techniques, this sort of instructor can yield a broad spectrum of styles within a small class of students.

However, where this system falls down is that it also tends to teach students that what they imagine and hear, everyone in their audience will imagine and hear as well - and that simply is not the case. A complex piece like those of Ferneyhough are difficult to grasp by those who have studied him, let alone an audience hearing the music for the first time (which is what composition students are facing). If a piece of music needs time to settle, several hearings for the listener to really begin to appreciate what it is they're hearing, then student works are destined to fail, because they're only going to get one hearing before the student needs to move on to the next project. The students playing these new works aren't going to spend any more time honing a piece either as they have their own agendas.

This problem extends to the performance feedback. "New Music" concerts at the university level are poorly attended. Recitals by the same students performing at the "new music" concerts are much more successful in getting an audience. It can't be because of the performers, because they're the same people. It might be the performance quality as new music concerts don't tend to get the same level of preparation as recitals - but I suspect it's the music. The music is so adventurous that the non-composition students aren't interested in sitting through the program.

When trying to teach a new generation of composers we need to look at teaching them tried methods and established practices for the common practice styles. We also need to provide them guidance in exploring new avenues and techniques for more modern styles of music. But something that isn't happening is teaching composition students the relationship between the audience and music. We need to adequately express that music is nothing if there is no audience and an audience's reaction to music is valid and worthy of consideration. NO, we don't need to just write what the public wants, but there has to be some consideration of the public's response or we've lost the plot. Music is a performance art and for a performance there must be an audience.

Now, if what the educational establishment wants is to create a series of intellectual composers who can then perpetuate the system - continue on their current course. But if they honestly want to create composers who are interested in taking music to new directions, they need to be more aware of the effect of an audience --and translate that awareness to their students.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Michael Chiklis will be July 4th Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular host

BOSTON POPS FIREWORKS SPECTACULAR, the annual event featuring the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra's annual Fourth of July concert, will be broadcast live from the Charles River Esplanade in Boston on Monday, July 4 (10:00-11:00 PM, live ET/delayed PT). This year's event is hosted by Emmy Award winner ("The Shield") and Boston native Michael Chiklis. Guest performers will be announced later.

Tero Saarinen Company Opens Bard SummerScape 2011 with Dance Triple Bill on July 7

Ninth Annual Bard SummerScape (July 7 – August 21) Presents Dance, Opera, Theater, Film, the Spiegeltent, and 22nd Season of Bard Music Festival, “Sibelius and His World”

The ninth annual Bard SummerScape festival opens on Thursday, July 7, at 8 pm with the first of four performances by Tero Saarinen Company, comprising a triple bill of the Finnish choreographer’s finest dances: Westward Ho! (1996), Wavelengths (2000), and HUNT (2002). As the Globe and Mail (Toronto) put it, “The evening is more than three wonderfully provocative dance pieces. ... The build, from one dance to the next in terms of mood and impact, is architectural perfection.” The performances will take place in the Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on Bard College’s stunning Hudson River campus. Three additional performances are on July 8 and 9, also at 8 pm, and on Sunday, July 10 at 3 pm. This season’s SummerScape Gala Benefit precedes the July 9 performance.

A significant dance performance has opened SummerScape each year since 2005; last season’s offering from the Trisha Brown Dance Company prompted the Star-Ledger to comment: “If any dance event is worth a quick run out of town, it’s this one.” SummerScape 2011 is keyed to the theme of this year’s Bard Music Festival, “Jean Sibelius and His World.” Like the great symphonist, Tero Saarinen Company is one of Finland’s leading cultural exports. The “outstanding contemporary dance troupe” (Globe and Mail) has performed in nearly 40 countries, and Saarinen’s daring and innovative choreography, whose influences range from Japanese butoh and martial arts to classical ballet and Western contemporary dance, has been incorporated into the repertoire of such prominent dance groups as Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT1), the Batsheva Dance Company, Lyon Opera Ballet, and the Finnish National Ballet.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Boston Symphony Orchestra Announces Program Changes for Next Year

With James Levine stepping down as Boston Symphony Music Director as of September 2011 to focus on his continuing recovery from a series of back procedures, Maestro Levine will not conduct the BSO during its 2011-12 season, which, in addition to the orchestra’s 2011-12 season at Symphony Hall in Boston, also includes five West Coast performances in California, December 6-10, and three concerts at Carnegie Hall in New York, March 6, 7, and 9. Changes to the previously announced programming for the BSO’s West Coast tour and Carnegie Hall concert series are available on the BSO website.

Following his two weeks of programs with the BSO, November 17-29, at Symphony Hall in Boston, French conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Boston Symphony Orchestra travel west December 6­-10, 2011, for a four-city tour of California—to include San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Palm Desert, and Los Angeles—that brings highlights of the BSO’s Symphony Hall subscription programs to the West Coast of the United States. An assistant conductor of the BSO from 2004 to 2007, Maestro Morlot has since appeared with major orchestras on both sides of the Atlantic, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Royal Concertgebouw, and is now Music Director Designate of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pops Conductor Laureate John Williams Reunites with the Boston Pops for World Premiere of his Concerto for Oboe

Featuring Pops Principal Oboist Keisuke Wakao

Legendary film composer John Williams makes a welcome return to Symphony Hall to reunite with the Boston Pops for the world premiere of his Concerto for Oboe, featured in the Hollywood-themed concerts on May 25, 26, and 28. Written expressly for principal Pops oboist Keisuke Wakao, Concerto for Oboe is the latest John Williams work to showcase the talented musicians of the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops. The Hooray for Hollywood concerts, a perennial favorite with Boston fans, are highlighted this year by a tribute to the heroes of film, including the Suite from Casablanca, and music inspired by the villains of the silver screen including selections from Dracula, and the “Imperial March” from The Empire Strikes Back. Maestro Williams will conduct his cherished movie scores in sync with film footage to play above the stage throughout the Pops performance. The celebrated conductor will lead a tribute to Audrey Hepburn, featuring Boston Pops concertmaster Tamara Smirnova in the theme from Sabrina, as well as tributes to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

Trinity Wall Street Launches New-Music Ensemble NOVUS NY at May 19 Performance of Elena Ruehr’s Complete Works for Chorus and Orchestra

Trinity Wall Street launches its new-music ensemble NOVUS NY on May 19. The newly formed group joins the Trinity Choir in an evening concert showcasing the complete works for chorus and orchestra of Boston-based composer Elena Ruehr, conducted by Julian Wachner, Trinity Wall Street’s director of music and the arts. The program includes Ruehr's cantata based on American poet Louise Glück’s Averno, which Wachner premiered with the Washington Chorus in early April. Ruehr, born in 1963 and raised in rural Michigan, has been declared "a composer to watch" by Opera News; her music is written "with heart and a forceful sense of character and expression," according to the Washington Post. Gramophone magazine called her music "unspeakably gorgeous." Earlier in the day, at 1 pm, there will be a free preview concert.

Wachner, a longtime friend and colleague of Ruehr's, will also lead Trinity performances of Ruehr's Cricket, Spider, Bee (on texts by Emily Dickinson) and Gospel Cha-Cha (text by Langston Hughes). The soloists on the program include baritone Stephen Salters, a close Ruehr collaborator, and soprano Marguerite Krull.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Marin Alsop conducts Mahler's Ninth Symphony with the Colorado Symphony

Conductor laureate Marin Alsop will lead the Colorado Symphony in performance of Mahler's great masterpiece, the Symphony No. 9 in D major, for two nights only on Friday, May 27 and Saturday, May 28 at Boettcher Concert Hall. A testament to the ebbing of a great man's life, the art he cherished, and even the society in which he lived, Mahler's Ninth Symphony is among the most poignant works ever composed. The Ninth Symphony also proved to be an enormous influence on Mahler's younger Viennese colleagues, who followed its lead in creating a new musical style for the new century. It received its premiere in Vienna on June 26, 1912, thirteen months after the composer's death. Known in the symphony orchestra world to "bring out the best in conductors and orchestras," Mahler's Ninth remains a milestone in each concertgoer's lifetime experience.

On Friday, May 27, Colorado Symphony fans across the state will also have the opportunity to listen to a real-time, live broadcast of Mahler's Ninth conducted by Marin Alsop on Colorado Public Radio (CPR). Beginning at 7 p.m., listeners can tune in to their local CPR station or listen online at www.CPR.org. The CPR broadcast starts 30 minutes before the concert begins. During the prelude, CPR hosts will introduce the music to be heard during the live broadcast, and interview musicians and artistic leadership backstage. The final Colorado Symphony – CPR broadcast of the season, it offers thousands of listeners the opportunity to experience a live performance of Mahler's Ninth from virtually any location in Colorado.

Luca Pisaroni Enjoys Success in Houston Debut as Almaviva, Before Heading to Dallas for Beethoven and Glyndebourne for Rinaldo

“Pisaroni exudes complete authority and magnetism.” – Houston Chronicle

The fast-rising Luca Pisaroni was a hit at Houston Grand Opera in his house and role debut last month as Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro. After opening night, the Houston Chronicle reported: “With his dashing looks and proud manner, Pisaroni exudes complete authority and magnetism. His potent bass-baritone unfurls with such grandeur and resoluteness that one can easily believe this is a fellow who has spent his entire life getting his way.” The singer has another engagement in the Lone Star State this month, singing in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (May 19-22). His next operatic engagement is another key role debut, when he returns to the U.K.’s Glyndebourne Festival to sing Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo (July 2 – Aug 22). Pisaroni also appears in a newly released EMI Classics DVD of Don Giovanni, starring as Leporello alongside the Don of Gerald Finley, Donna Elvira of Kate Royal, and Donna Anna of Anna Samuil. The DVD documents Glyndebourne’s first new production of Mozart’s iconic opera in ten years, with stage direction by Jonathan Kent and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. Pisaroni reprises his Leporello in a live Don Giovanni at Germany’s Baden-Baden Festival conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin (July 18-24).

More praise for Pisaroni’s debut as Count Almaviva for Houston Grand Opera came courtesy of CultureMap Houston, which echoed the Chronicle, declaring that the singer’s performance made for “a definitive, vastly funny interpretation.” Pisaroni sang the Count in Houston’s Le nozze after more than 100 performances in the opera as Figaro. The bass-baritone made a name for himself in the latter role, being the Figaro of choice for three new music directors this season: Nicola Luisotti at San Francisco Opera, Philippe Jordan at Opéra de Paris, and Franz Welser-Möst at the Vienna State Opera. Switching parts in Mozart’s subversive comic masterpiece – from working-class hero Figaro to his upper-crust nemesis – was a “thrilling opportunity,” Pisaroni explained, adding: “I see this debut as the first stone in my process of building the bridge between roles like Figaro, Leporello, and Guglielmo – which are closer to my personality – and the ultimate goal, which is Don Giovanni.”

After appearing with the Dallas Symphony under Jaap van Zweden in Beethoven’s Ninth this month, Pisaroni sings in Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst on May 26 and 28. And before reprising his Leporello at the Baden-Baden Festival, Pisaroni returns to Glyndebourne on July 2, when he unveils his portrayal of another new “bad guy,” Argante in Rinaldo.

Bruce Coppock Named Managing Director of The Cleveland Orchestra Miami Residency

Bruce Coppock will become the next Managing Director of The Cleveland Orchestra Miami Residency. The announcement was made today by the Orchestra’s Executive Director, Gary Hanson. Mr. Coppock will begin his role with The Cleveland Orchestra on June 27, 2011. He was formerly President and Managing Director of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and previously Executive Director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra.

As Managing Director of the Miami Residency, Bruce Coppock will be the executive leader of The Cleveland Orchestra Miami Residency, responsible for all of the Orchestra’s activities in South Florida . The Residency’s Managing Director is a member of the Orchestra’s senior management team and works closely with the Board of the Musical Arts Association of Miami (MAAM), the not-for-profit institution that governs and funds the Miami Residency.

In making the appointment, Gary Hanson said, “Bruce Coppock is the ideal person to lead the Residency. As an admired leader in the orchestra industry, and as an experienced music educator, Bruce will be the catalyst for significant growth in the Orchestra’s community impact. I have great respect for his instincts and integrity, his capacity and energy to get things done, and his love of great music, especially as performed by The Cleveland Orchestra.”

Bruce Coppock will succeed Sandi Macdonald who has been named President and CEO of the North Carolina Symphony. Ms. Macdonald has served in leadership roles at The Cleveland Orchestra since 2003, becoming Miami Residency Director in 2007.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Denver's Top Ticket: The Firebird & Crouching Tiger

Magical glowing birds and ancient Chinese warriors make for a fanciful program led by guest conductor Scott Yoo. Tan Dun's Concerto is drawn from colorful themes found in his score to the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The concerto is a perfect match for Stravinsky's ballet score to The Firebird, a work so popular that its themes are found in Star Trek movies and songs by the Beastie Boys.

MASTERWORKS SERIES
The Firebird & Crouching Tiger
5/14 - 7:30 p.m.
5/15 - 2:30 p.m.
Boettcher Concert Hall

Scott Yoo, conductor
Betti Xiang, ehru

TAN DUN / Crouching Tiger Concerto
BORODIN / In the Steppes of Central Asia
STRAVINSKY / Suite from The Firebird

Tickets are available online at coloradosymphony.org or call the box office at 303.623.7876.

Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain and Edgar Meyer join Jeffrey Kahane and Colorado Symphony

Conductor Jeffrey Kahane returns to the Colorado Symphony for three groundbreaking all American concerts on May 20, 21 and 22 as concertgoers experience the thrills of a world premiere piano concerto by Kenji Bunch, as well as the artistry of banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, tabla legend Zakir Hussain and double bass master Edgar Meyer in performance of their triple concerto, The Melody of Rhythm. Tickets are on sale now for this must-experience concert that also features Copland's Suite from Appalachian Spring and Gershwin's An American in Paris. These exciting performances kick off a series of concerts celebrating American composers and artists that continues in June with Celebrate America featuring Sandy Patti, a glamorous evening with Pink Martini, and night with R&B stars Boyz II Men.

Once again under the baton of former music director Jeffrey Kahane, the Colorado Symphony presents the world premiere of Bunch's first piano concerto featuring pianist Monica Ohuchi. Heralded as "a composer to watch" by The New York Times, Bunch has quickly emerged as one of the most prominent American composers of his generation, appealing to audiences and performers alike with a distinctive, vibrant voice in contemporary American music.

This thrilling evening continues with a rare performance of The Melody of Rhythm, Triple Concerto for Banjo, Double Bass and Tabla featuring the three composers: Fleck, Hussain and Meyer. These masterful genre-benders are the leading virtuosos on their respective instruments and move with ease among the worlds of classical, bluegrass and world music.

Instantly recognized as "unique and incomparable," the dazzling, expressive concerto creates something stylistically unique from the influences of bluegrass, folk, classical, Indian, Oriental, blues and jazz. The Melody of Rhythm is essentially an exploration of the vast range of musical experiences available in today's global culture as filtered through the distinct but interlocking sensibilities of three master musicians.

Alan Gilbert Takes NY Philharmonic on European Tour, May 12 – 24, Making His First Appearances as Music Director in Nine Cities

Alan Gilbert leads the New York Philharmonic on its EUROPE / SPRING 2011 tour, May 12 - 24, 2011. This tour — the fourth with Gilbert as Music Director — will take the Philharmonic to the music capitals of Central Europe, with eleven concerts in nine cities: Basel, Switzerland; Baden-Baden and Munich, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; Berlin, Dresden, and Leipzig, Germany; and Prague, Czech Republic. Although Gilbert has a long history of conducting concerts across Europe – his most recent performances there were with the Berlin Philharmonic in early April – and has taken the New York Philharmonic on two previous European tours, this excursion marks his first appearances in all nine cities as Music Director of the orchestra.

Continuing the New York Philharmonic’s multi-year focus on the rich legacy of former Music Director Gustav Mahler, Gilbert will conduct an all-Mahler program at Vienna’s Musikverein on May 15, three days before the 100th anniversary of the great composer-conductor’s death. (The 2010 – 2011 season also marks the 100th anniversary of Mahler’s final New York Philharmonic season and the 150th anniversary of his birth.) The program includes two pillars of the orchestral repertoire: Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, featuring baritone Thomas Hampson — one of the great exponents of this work, and a decades-long champion of Mahler — and the Symphony No. 5, which will be performed five times throughout the tour. In addition to the May 15 performance in Vienna, Hampson will also appear in Basel, Baden-Baden, Berlin, Dresden, and Leipzig. Violinist Lisa Batiashvili will perform works by Bartók and Sibelius with the Philharmonic in Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Dresden, and Prague.

Thomas Hampson Wins Concertgebouw Award while Preparing for Final Leg of 2010-11 “Mahler Odyssey”

This month, Thomas Hampson – recently named the recipient of the 2011 Concertgebouw Prize – returns to Europe for an extensive series of concerts and recitals, bringing his season-long “Mahler Odyssey” to a grand conclusion. Following performances of an all-Richard Strauss program with Renée Fleming and the Berlin Philharmonic under Christian Thielemann (May 5-7), Hampson joins the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert on tour for the second consecutive season, this time taking an all-Mahler program to six major Central European music capitals (May 12-23). The program, featuring Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Kindertotenlieder, will be given in Basel, (May 12), Baden-Baden (May 13), Vienna (May 15), Berlin (May 19), Dresden (May 21), and Leipzig (May 23); the Vienna and Berlin dates bookend the centenary, on May 18, of Mahler’s death. The tour will be followed by a string of Mahler recitals with pianist Wolfram Rieger, including appearances in Zurich (May 29), Amsterdam (May 31), Brussels (June 4), Vienna (June 6), and London (June 13).

Hampson will receive his Concertgebouw Award at a gala dinner in the Great Hall of Amsterdam’s famed Concertgebouw on Wednesday, June 8. The American baritone is only the sixth artist to be awarded the prize, which is given to “a musician or ensemble that, over time, has contributed significantly to the artistic profile of the Concertgebouw.” Previous laureates were mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli (2004), the Beaux Arts Trio (2006), conductor Bernard Haitink (2007), the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (2009), and Maurizio Pollini (2010).

EMI Classics signs trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth

EMI Classics is pleased to announce that Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth has signed an exclusive recording contract with the label. Forthcoming recordings will capture Helseth both as a classical soloist and as leader of her all-female Norwegian brass ensemble, tenThing. Her first recording, a collection of songs arranged for trumpet in orchestral and chamber settings, will be released in October 2011.

Just 23 years old, the dynamic Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth is one of the leading trumpet soloists of her generation. She is already a sensation in her homeland, winning the 2007 Norwegian Grammy Award for Best Newcomer (she was the first classical artist even to be nominated); her 2009 Christmas disc, My Heart Is Ever Present, went “gold” within three weeks of release. Helseth is a unique and innovative artist dedicated to expanding the reach of core classical trumpet repertoire and exploring alternative soundscapes, both as leader of the all-female tenThing and in collaboration with artists from other genres.

On joining EMI Classics as an exclusive artist, Helseth said, “I am extremely excited to sign my agreement as I have long had a great admiration for all the artists who have recorded with EMI Classics. It is a huge honor to join such a prestigious list and I’m really looking forward to developing a great artistic collaboration with all the team.”

Bernard Haitink Conducts the London Symphony Orchestra with Pianist Murray Perahia in London & Paris

Bernard Haitink will conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in three concerts at London’s Barbican on 14, 16 and 23 June. Pianist Murray Perahia joins the Orchestra as soloist in Schumann’s Piano Concerto on 14 & 16 June; Bruckner’s Symphony No.4 is also performed. On 23 June, Haitink conducts the LSO in Ravel’s Mother Goose and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The London Symphony Orchestra will tour Bruckner’s Symphony No.4 and Schumann’s Piano Concerto with Haitink and Perahia to Paris’ Salle Pleyel, on 18 June. The London Symphony Orchestra is the International Resident Orchestra of La Salle Pleyel.

Haitink last conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Mahler’s Symphony No 9 in July 2009 at the BBC Proms to outstanding critical and popular acclaim.

Tuesday 14 & Thursday 16 June, Barbican Hall, London, 7.30pm
Saturday 18 June, Salle Pleyel, Paris, 8.00pm
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto Op 54
BRUCKNER Symphony No.4
Bernard Haitink conductor
Murray Perahia piano

Thursday 23 June, 7.30pm, Barbican Hall
RAVEL Mother Goose Ballet
MENDELSSOHN A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Bernard Haitink conductor

Barbican Season Tickets: £7- £32
Secure online booking at www.lso.co.uk
Box office: 020 7638 8891 open Mon-Sat 9am – 8pm, Sun 11am-8pm
In person at the Advance Box Office in the Barbican centre
(Mon-Sat 9am – 9pm; Sun 12pm – 9pm)


Salle Pleyel Tickets: €10-€110
Secure online booking at www.sallepleyel.fr
Salle Pleyel, 252 rue du faubourg Saint-Honoré, 75008 Paris
Tel: + 33 (0)1 42 56 13 13

Riccardo Muti Gets Another Accolade

Italian conductor Riccardo Muti has been named winner of Spain's Prince of Asturias arts award for 2011. The Prince of Asturias Foundation said Wednesday that Muti was "one of the best classical music directors in the world" and highlighted "the passion and virtuosity with which he has conducted the most prestigious orchestras."

Muti also won the $1 million Birgit Nilsson Prize earlier this year.

Eight Asturias prizes are awarded each year covering the arts, human rights, sciences and sports. They include a €50,000 ($74,000) cash award and a sculpture by Joan Miró. They are presented by Spain's crown prince each autumn in Oviedo.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 with Franz Welser-Möst – DVD and Telecasts

The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst’s live DVD recording of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 is being released in the United States on May 31.

The Cleveland Orchestra in Performance: Bruckner Symphony No. 8 will be telecast in Northeast Ohio on WVIZ/PBS ideastream® on June 16 at 9 p.m., and in Europe on ORF TV on June 23.

The DVD includes a bonus concert preview discussion by Franz Welser-Möst and video director William Cosel hosted by ideastream® producer Dee Perry.

Recorded during concerts on August 11 and 12, 2010 by WVIZ/PBS ideastream® at the Orchestra’s home, Severance Hall in Cleveland, this performance of the 1887 revised version of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8, edited by Leopold Nowak, is the fourth DVD in a series featuring the Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst performing Bruckner’s music in historic venues. Previous releases feature Bruckner Symphony No. 5 recorded at St. Florian Cathedral in Linz , Austria and Bruckner Symphony No. 9 recorded at the Musikverein concert hall in Vienna . Bruckner Symphony No. 7 was also recorded at Severance Hall.

Herbert G. Kloiber produced the Bruckner Symphony No. 8 recording for CLASART, to be distributed by Arthaus and Naxos . The video sound was produced by Elaine Martone and Robert Woods of Sonarc Music, engineered by Michael Bishop of Five/Four Productions, Ltd., and edited by Thomas Moore of Five/Four Productions. The Cleveland Orchestra acknowledges both Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich and CLASART for their generous support of the DVD release. The Cleveland Orchestra, CLASART, and Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich have had a long-term partnership resulting in DVDs of Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 5, 7, 8, and 9.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sony Classical Continues its Series of Metropolitan Opera Archival Broadcast Recordings

Four new Multi-Disc Sets on CD for the First Time

Sony Classical, in partnership with the Metropolitan Opera, continues its hit series of releases drawn from the storied Met archives with four multi-disc sets that represent the first official release on CD of these historic Saturday afternoon radio broadcasts, which date from 1960 to 1972. On May 3, 2011, Sony Classical issues complete live performances – freshly remastered from the original sources – of Beethoven's Fidelio (1960), Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro (1961) and Wagner's Die Walküre (1968) and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1972).

The four sets feature such vintage vocal greats as Jon Vickers, Birgit Nilsson, Cesare Siepi, Roberta Peters, Leonie Rysanek, Christa Ludwig, Theo Adam and James King – all at the height of their careers. On the podium for these historic broadcasts were such top conductors as Karl Böhm, Erich Leinsdorf and Thomas Schippers.

New York Art Ensemble's 2011 Tribeca New Music Festival-May 23, 26, 31, June 5, 9 & 10

The New York Art Ensemble celebrates its 10th annual Tribeca New Music Festival—a series of six cutting-edge new music concerts at three great music venues, Merkin Concert Hall near Lincoln Center (May 23 & 26), Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO Brooklyn (May 31 & June 5), and the The Cell in Chelsea (June 9 & 10).

“We continue to grow!” said Festival curator Preston Stahly. “Last year, in order to accommodate a bigger audience, we moved from our original home at the Flea Theater in Tribeca up to Merkin Concert Hall where we presented four concerts. This year we’re expanding to six shows, and spreading them out over three wonderful new music venues in order to reach more people. Starting at Merkin Concert Hall, concerts #1 and #2 will present the string quartet ETHEL and their HomeBaked series of world premieres (May 23), followed by a double bill with the guitar quartet Dither and Stephen Griesgraber’s new-music band Redhooker (May 26). Then we swoop down to Brooklyn for concerts #3 and #4 at the Galapagos Art Space featuring our Tribeca Monsters led by violinist Mary Rowell and pianist Geoff Burleson (May 31), and Anti-Depressant with violinist Jennifer Choi and pianist Kathleen Supové along with composer/violinists Gregor Huebner and Jonathan Zalben (June 5). Last but not least, we take over The Cell in Chelsea for the final two concerts featuring the Gyan Riley Quartet (June 9) and the San Diego-based avant-pop band SWARMIUS (June 10). It’s a fantastic lineup with world premieres by Andy Akiho, Rick Baitz, Anna Clyne, Corey Dargel, Judd Greenstein, Stephen Greisgraber, Gregor Huebner, Matt Marks, Tristan Perich, Gyan Riley, Joseph Waters, Randall Woolf, Jonathan Zalben and recent works by Lisa R. Coons, Stewart Copland (The Police), Marc Mellits, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Preston Stahly, and Jacob TV, along with our 2011 Young Composer winner, Dylan Mattingly. We’re extremely proud to present such a wonderful variety of great new works!”

Tickets to all shows are available at their respective venue websites: 

Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center, www.kaufman-center.org or call 212-501-3330 

Galapagos Art Space, www.galapagosartspace.com or call 718-718-222-8500 

The Cell, www.thecelltheatre.com or call 800-838-3006

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Cleveland Orchestra releases three new recordings

The Cleveland Orchestra will have three new commercial recordings available worldwide in May: a new DVD recordings of Franz Welser-Möst leading Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 recorded at Severance Hall; Pierre Boulez leading the Adagio from Mahler’s Symphony No. 10 and Des Knaben Wunderhorn with vocal soloists Magdalena Kožená, mezzo-soprano, and Christian Gerhaher, baritone; and a CD of Mitsuko Uchida leading and performing Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 20 and 27.

With these new releases, The Cleveland Orchestra continues its distinguished history of nearly 600 recordings, broadcasting the Cleveland sound around the world.

Deutsche Grammophon Releases Daniel Barenboim’s New Recordings

Releases Come as Barenboim and the Orchestra for Gaza Perform in Gaza

Daniel Barenboim, known around the world for his work as both a pianist and a conductor, has entered into a far reaching affiliation with Deutsche Grammophon and Decca and will record and release a number of albums over time. The first two releases, both on Deutsche Grammophon and both showcasing Barenboim as pianist, focus on Chopin.

Early in April Barenboim captivated London with a surprise concert and talk at the Tate Modern. “The standing ovation began before Daniel Barenboim had played a note,” reported The Guardian. A crowd of 1,100 who had only learned of the impromptu event three days earlier gathered to hear the great artist and humanitarian as he celebrated 60 years of performing with an all-Chopin recital in Tate Modern’s cavernous Turbine Hall. 8,000 people had applied for the 400 seats while 700 more watched a live relay in the hall below, where an installation by the detained Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is on show.

EMI Classics’ and Virgin Classics’ Releases for May 2011 Include Kate Royal in New Don Giovanni from Glyndebourne on DVD

A DVD of Jonathan Kent’s Fellini-esque Glyndebourne Festival production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni – with Gerald Finley in the title role, soprano Kate Royal as Donna Elvira, Luca Pisaroni as Leporello and Vladimir Jurowski on the podium – headlines EMI Classics’ releases this month. Other May highlights from EMI Classics include a “terrific” (Los Angeles Times) set of Schumann’s complete (and unjustly neglected) works for Piano Trio, featuring pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, violinist Christian Tetzlaff, and cellist Tanja Tetzlaff, and three special releases – including a legendary recording of Wagner’s complete “Ring” cycle – celebrating the 125th anniversary of the birth of Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954), one of the truly legendary conductors of the 20th century. From Virgin Classics this month, a transcendent recording of Brahms’s German Requiem, performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, led by Paavo Järvi and featuring soprano Natalie Dessay, to mark the ensemble’s 80th birthday; plus, Fabio Biondi and his dynamic Europa Galante add to their burgeoning and celebrated Vivaldi discography with a recording of John Walsh’s 1728 edition of the Venetian composer’s concerto collection known as “La stravaganza.”

Decca to Release Nelson Freire’s New Recording of Liszt, May 17, 2011

“…the Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire offers a gentle reminder that decorous piano playing and interpretive depth have an irresistible power all their own.” – New York Times

2011 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of pianist-composer Franz Liszt, and Nelson Freire now offers his own recording in tribute. This very personal selection of works spans Liszt’s highly varied musical styles and also highlights a few of his lesser-known compositions. Grammy®-nominated pianist Nelson Freire continues his exclusive association with Decca with Liszt: Harmonies du Soir, available May 17, 2011.

Liszt’s reputation has fluctuated wildly (unlike that of his contemporaries such as Chopin and Schumann), and it is only in relatively recent times that his true stature has been fully realized. Though he was possibly the greatest and certainly the most charismatic of pianists, his compositions embraced many areas of music. But if his symphonic poems, Masses, oratorios and songs are often musically revolutionary, his piano music takes precedence both for its quantity and its quality. There was a time when Liszt was considered mostly a flashy showman (and indeed, audiences came to see if he had more than ten fingers), but today the situation could hardly be more different. As Nelson Freire’s wide-ranging program shows, Liszt was a true master of an ever-varying style and his works point to the future of music in numerous ways.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Boulez Conducts Mahler – DVD and Telecasts

A 90-minute high-definition DVD of Pierre Boulez conducting The Cleveland Orchestra in works of Mahler, produced by WVIZ/PBS ideastream® with international production partners CLASART Classic, ARTE, Accentus Music, and Deutsche Grammophon, has just been released. The world premiere telecast took place on Sunday, May 1, at 4:30 p.m. on WVIZ/PBS ideastream®, with a prime-time rebroadcast on Saturday, May 7, at 9:30 p.m. The program will be aired in Europe on ARTE TV on May 15.

The program, produced and directed by William Cosel, was taped during live performances presented in February 2010 at Severance Hall. It includes Mahler’s Adagio from Symphony No. 10 in F-sharp major, and his Des Knaben Wunderhorn (“The Youth’s Magic Horn”), Songs for Voice and Orchestra, with vocal soloists Magdalena Kožená, mezzo-soprano, and Christian Gerhaher, baritone.

An audio recording of this program was released by Deutsche Grammophon in 2010. It was cited as “Disc of the Month” by BBC Music Magazine, that said, “Energy and quality of imagination shine throughout this disc.” The Plain Dealer’s review said, “Kozena is every bit the star she was before, animating her roles with intense vocal and theatrical character. Gerhaher, meanwhile, sounds even better on record, delivering dramatic, full-bodied performances. No less a keepsake is the Adagio from Mahler's Tenth, a cool and insightful reading marked as before by overwhelming softness, piercing dissonance, and throat-grabbing peaks.”

The television program and recording celebrate several milestones, including Pierre Boulez’s 85th birthday and the 45th anniversary year of his debut with The Cleveland Orchestra; the 150th anniversary of Mahler’s birth (2010), and the 100th anniversary of his death (2011). This release marks Boulez’s 24th recording with The Cleveland Orchestra.

Richard Tognetti & Australian Chamber Orchestra Perform at 65th Ojai Music Festival June 11-12

On June 14th the ACO perform at Ojai North, the newly launched collaboration with Cal Performances UC Berkeley

This June, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Artistic Director and Lead Violin Richard Tognetti, will make their debut at the 65th Ojai Music Festival. They appear at the invitation of the festival’s 2011 Music Director Dawn Upshaw with whom the ACO has toured extensively in recent years throughout the US, Europe and Australia. One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be the premiere of a new work written for Upshaw, Tognetti and the ACO by jazz composer and big band leader Maria Schneider.

The ACO will perform in two concerts at Ojai on June 11th and 12th and one on June 14th at Ojai North, a new multi-year residency project in partnership with Cal Performances in Berkeley launching following this year’s Ojai Music Festival.

On, Saturday morning, June 11th, Richard Tognetti performs in recital with pianist Gilbert Kalish, in works by Leos Janáček, Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe, Sergei Prokofiev (along with Australian Chamber Orchestra assistant leader violinist Satu Vänskä) and Beethoven’s “Kreutzer” Sonata. On Saturday evening, June 11th, the orchestra presents an unconventional program of classics by J.S Bach and Schoenberg and newer works by Giacinto Scelsi, and Alfred Schnittke. Also on the program is Mr. Tognetti’s own work Deviance -- a “pre-packaged arrangement” of Paginini’s Caprice No. 24. The Festival concert on Sunday, June 12 features a new work by Grammy-winning composer Maria Schneider for Dawn Upshaw and the Australian Chamber Orchestra entitled Winter Morning Walks, inspired by poetry by poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser. Unable to be in the sunlight because of his cancer treatments, Mr. Kooser took early morning walks, during which he wrote a series of postcards to a friend in which he transforms common things and daily events into well-timed and expertly sculpted poems. The postcards – poems no longer than a page, and mostly much shorter than that – form a diary of sorts is not only a response to and a subtle record of his battle with cancer, but a testimony to his joy in the heartbreaking beauty of existence. Orchestrated for the Australian Chamber Orchestra, this piece features two guest soloists long associated with Maria Schneider in her own orchestra, Frank Kimbrough on piano and Scott Robinson on woodwinds. In addition to the new Maria Schneider work, Sunday evening’s concert intertwines music by Webern, George Crumb, Mr. Tognetti’s own arrangements for string orchestra of works by Bartók and Grieg. This performance will be repeated on Tuesday, June 14th at Ojai North! at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Hall.

Brazilian Symphony Orchestra Fires Nearly Half of its Musicians

The Brazilian Symphony Orchestra fired nearly half of its musicians after they refused to take part in assessment auditions as required by conductor Roberto Minczuk, the organization said Wednesday.

The dismissals of 36 of the orchestras 82 musicians were confirmed in a statement from the OSB Foundation, after negotiations failed to resolve a three-month dispute. "(The management) always believed in a positive outcome and made the utmost effort to comply with the requests of the group of musicians, but unfortunately no consensus was reached," the Foundation said in a statement.

The sacked musicians had demanded Minczuk's dismissal, which the OSB management refused.

Joyce Yang makes Lincoln Center recital debut May 5

Pianist Joyce Yang had only finished her freshman year at Juilliard when she snared the silver medal at the 12th Van Cliburn International Competition, becoming the youngest prizewinner in the competition's history. Between classes, she toured the world, performing on multiple occasions with the New York Philharmonic, and the Chicago, San Francisco and Houston symphonies, among many others. In 2010 she received an Avery Fisher Career Grant. Now, Juilliard has given its celebrated alum the William Petschek Piano Recital Award: a recital at Alice Tully Hall. Previous Petschek recipients have included Jeremy Denk, Jon Kimura Parker and Orion Weiss.

Yang will perform works by Scarlatti, Debussy, Chopin-Liszt and Schumann, along with related contemporary pieces: Sebastian Currier's Scarlatti Cadences and Brainstorm and Lowell Liebermann's Gargoyles. The program is designed "to have each piece illuminate the one that follows," says Yang.

The 25-year-old Korean American heads into the studio at the end of May to record a solo album. Global audiences were able to enjoy her recent performance of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Sydney Symphony under Edo De Waart. The April 11 concert was streamed live via a new Android and iPhone mobile app, and touted as the debut of the world's first series of orchestral concerts to be streamed live through mobile applications, according to the Sydney Symphony and Telstra BigPond.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Flute Toys: musicals toys for the discerning flautist

Flute Toys: A challenging new work for flautist Rachel Perez Tetreault

The music is just in the opening stages, but it's looking very promising. The opening movement provides lots of opportunity to showcase the talents of Ms Tetreault, including flourishes, flutter and double tonguing and leaps like only a flute can do. The theme is tender, almost childlike, but anything but simple.

The 2nd movement (not yet ready for public viewing) will be soft and cuddly, like a stuffed animal. The 3rd movement will be on the extreme side (and probably very short) indicative of a spinning top. I hope there will be 2-3 more "toys" included in this collection with a final "toy box" to round out the piece - a collection of all the themes melded together.

While I'm working on the piece as a flute and piano work, ultimately the music will be scored for orchestra. However, having both versions gives the performer options as it isn't always possible to have an orchestra on hand.

Note: I am in need of a good picture for this piece, something that invokes the playful nature of the music. Claude Bolling's album cover for his Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano comes to mind as an image that was perfect for his music.

Things are heating up at the Colorado Symphony

Sarah McLachlan, Idina Menzel and Chicago concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre; Independence Eve at Civic Center Park; Beethoven; John Williams and Russian masterpieces at Boettcher Concert Hall; plus two nights at Arvada Center

This July, the Colorado Symphony presents a remarkable array of classical masterpieces and new orchestral collaborations, including three riveting concerts under the stars at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Highlights at Red Rocks include the symphonic debut of multiple Grammy® Awardwinning singer/songwriter Sarah McLachlan, the return of Broadway powerhouse Idina Menzel of Wicked fame, and an unforgettable night with pop/rock legends Chicago.

“The Colorado Symphony is thrilled to partner with Sarah McLachlan in her first-ever symphony concert and we can’t imagine a better place for this momentous debut than under the stars at Red Rocks,” said James W. Palermo, President & CEO, Colorado Symphony. “In programming the Colorado Symphony’s summer series, we endeavored to offer a rich variety of concert experiences that will engage new audiences and continue to inspire our most dedicated patrons. The series will accomplish exactly that, while making summer 2011 an extraordinary time for live symphonic music in Colorado.”

At Summer Seasonings at Boettcher Concert Hall presented by PCL Construction, concertgoers will enjoy al fresco dining and the beauty of a summer’s eve before making the short trip indoors to their concert seats. Summer Seasonings features an evening of Russian Masterpieces and the return of Best of Beethoven, as well as a John Williams Spectacular featuring music from movies such as Harry Potter and Star Wars. Plus, music lovers won’t want to miss Mozart Under Moonlight and a light classics tribute to legendary Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler at CenterFest at the Arvada Center.

Classical 105.9 FM WQXR and Arup Partner to Present Carnegie Hall’s “Spring for Music” Series Live in 3D Sound

May 6 – May 14 at www.wqxr.org

Innovative audio technology allows webstream listeners to experience the performances as if they were present inside Carnegie Hall

For its live audio streams of Carnegie Hall’s “Spring for Music” concerts running Friday, May 6 through Thursday, May 14, WQXR – New York City ’s sole all-classical station – is working in collaboration with the consulting, design and engineering firm Arup to bring innovative 3D sound live to the WQXR.org audience.

Working closely with the WQXR broadcast engineers, the Arup acoustics team – which has worked with artists including Nick Cave and Lou Reed – will add a special 3D microphone to the usual array of microphones WQXR uses for its live broadcasts and audio webcasts. Using a range of proprietary software, Arup will combine the sounds from all of the microphones in real time, creating an auditory environment that recreates the acoustics inside Carnegie Hall.

The result will be a mix that gives the listener an audio experience of hearing the concert as though he or she were sitting in the middle of the orchestra section.

Classical 105.9 FM WQXR and Arup Partner to Present Carnegie Hall’s “Spring for Music” Series Live in 3D Sound

May 6 – May 14 at www.wqxr.org

Innovative audio technology allows webstream listeners to experience the performances as if they were present inside Carnegie Hall

For its live audio streams of Carnegie Hall’s “Spring for Music” concerts running Friday, May 6 through Thursday, May 14, WQXR – New York City ’s sole all-classical station – is working in collaboration with the consulting, design and engineering firm Arup to bring innovative 3D sound live to the WQXR.org audience.

Working closely with the WQXR broadcast engineers, the Arup acoustics team – which has worked with artists including Nick Cave and Lou Reed – will add a special 3D microphone to the usual array of microphones WQXR uses for its live broadcasts and audio webcasts. Using a range of proprietary software, Arup will combine the sounds from all of the microphones in real time, creating an auditory environment that recreates the acoustics inside Carnegie Hall.

The result will be a mix that gives the listener an audio experience of hearing the concert as though he or she were sitting in the middle of the orchestra section.

Kirill Gerstein Plays Solo Beethoven and Liszt in San José, More Beethoven at 92nd St Y, and Tchaikovsky with NY Philharmonic

“Gerstein shows that virtuosity and soulfulness can go hand in hand.”– Chicago Sun-Times

Kirill Gerstein – winner of the 2010 Gilmore Artist Award – has played milestone event after milestone event this season; his ever-upward trajectory continues this spring and summer, from intense solo recitals to high-profile concerto engagements. Reviewing a concert last spring, the New York Times described Gerstein’s interpretation of the B-minor Sonata as “spellbinding,” as it balanced “a big, torrential sound in the work’s thunderous sections with crystalline – but still assertive – phrasing in the more introspective passages.” On May 7, Gerstein reprises Beethoven’s Opp. 111 and 119 at New York’s 92nd Street Y, on a program shared with the august Tokyo String Quartet. Following recital and concerto dates, and a tour with the Hagen Quartet across Europe to the Middle East, the pianist returns to Manhattan to play Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic and conductor Bramwell Tovey at Lincoln Center on June 28-30.

Gerstein’s latest solo album, released in November 2010 by Myrios Classics, features Liszt’s B-minor Sonata along with Schumann’s Humoreske and the debut recording of contemporary British composer Oliver Knussen’s Ophelia’s Last Dance, which Gerstein premiered at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in May 2010. The New York Times lauded the disc, praising his “exquisite technique, refined musicianship, and engrossing imagination.” A National Public Radio feature singled out the pianist’s take on the Schumann: “Gerstein explains that the Humoresque portrays an ‘intimate tracing of Schumann’s emotional states.’ Throughout the five-movement work, Gerstein deftly interprets those emotions, ranging from light tenderness to virtuosic strength.” The Los Angeles Times described his Liszt rendition as “thoughtfully lyrical” and his Knussen as “haunting.”

The present season has seen Gerstein perform high-profile concerto engagements across Europe and the Americas, from Shostakovich’s Second with Esa-Pekka Salonen in Wales to Brahms’s Second with Gustavo Dudamel in Venezuela. A celebrated interpreter of Rachmaninoff, Gerstein wowed critics and audiences throughout North America with his performances of the composer’s works. Of his account of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto earlier this month, the Ontario Record reported: “One of the great young pianists in the circuit, Kirill Gerstein was thoroughly up to the monumental task, not afraid to probe the depths of Russian expression – evoking the deepest of rumbles and crisp, clean upper-register chord clusters in rapid-fire succession – while remaining technically circumspect… . A raucous audience bound to its feet, sad that the pianistic wonder had ended all too soon.”

Jurowski conducts at Royal Festival Hall: 4 May

Principal Conductor Vladimir Jurowski is joined by soprano Christine Brewer for Richard Strauss's Four Last Songs alongside a programme of Wagner's Overture to Die Meistersinger and Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony.

By the late 1880s, Tchaikovsky had at last found some solace and relief from the catastrophes which carved a tragic path through his earlier career. This peace can be heard throughout the Fifth Symphony with bright shafts of melodic optimism bursting through the troubled orchestral shadows.

Like Tchaikovsky, in periods of darkness Richard Strauss turned to music. By 1949, after witnessing the destruction of his beloved Germany from within, he wrote his final goodbye in a set of four touching songs, sung this evening by soprano Christine Brewer.

World Premiere of Christopher Rouse Symphony No. 3 this week

St Louis Symphony to Perform World Premere of Christopher Rouse's Symphony No. 3 May 5-8, 2001

Christopher Rouse’s Symphony No. 3 will receive its world premiere with the St. Louis Symphony, led by Music Director David Robertson, at Powell Hall on Thursday, May 5 at 8:00 p.m. The premiere will be followed by repeat performances on May 6-8, all paired with Orff’s Carmina Burana.

The concert on Saturday, May 7 will be broadcast live on St. Louis Public Radio (90.7 KWMU) at 8:00 p.m. CT, and will be available via live internet stream. David Robertson and Christopher Rouse will be interviewed at intermission during the live broadcast.

In his Symphony No. 3, Christopher Rouse uses Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 2 as a compositional stepping-off point, taking central aspects of the work and considering them anew. In the words of the composer, “Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 2 furnishes the old bottle into which I have tried to pour new wine.” From the two-movement form—an allegro followed by a set of variations—to its aggressive and uncompromising tone, Rouse looks to Prokofiev for the work’s structural foundation, and then recasts those very elements with his own unique compositional voice. Rouse’s Symphony No. 3 is co-commissioned by the St. Louis Symphony.

Program Information:
Thursday, May 5 at 8pm
Friday, May 6 at 8pm
Saturday, May 7 at 8pm
Sunday, May 8 at 3pm

David Robertson, conductor
Cyndia Sieden, soprano
Richard Troxell, tenor
David Adam Moore, baritone
St. Louis Symphony Chorus
   Amy Kaiser, director
The St. Louis Children’s Choirs
   Barbara Berner, director

CHRISTOPHER ROUSE Symphony No. 3 (World Premiere)
ORFF Carmina Burana

Monday, May 2, 2011

Decca to Release Mozart: Piano Concertos No. 20, K.466 & No. 27, K.595 – Mitsuko Uchida and The Cleveland Orchestra May 3

Mitsuko Uchida, who recently won a Grammy® Award this year for her previous Mozart concerto recording with The Cleveland Orchestra, is soloist and conductor in Mozart Concertos Nos. 20 in D minor and 27 in B-flat major in Cleveland Orchestra performances that were recorded live in Severance Hall. The album was exclusively released through the Cleveland Orchestra Store on April 19 and receives full distribution in the United States on May 3, 2011.

Of Mitsuko Uchida’s performances of Mozart, The Independent writes: “No pianist conveys the rapture of Mozart quite like Mitsuko Uchida does.” Though Ms. Uchida has previously recorded all the Mozart piano concertos, she has chosen to re-visit them with The Cleveland Orchestra in performances, recorded live, during which she acts as both soloist and conductor with a new and fresh conception of these masterpieces.

Of the performances in April 2010 recorded for this release, the Plain Dealer wrote: “Back at Severance Hall this week revisiting two concertos from her recent Mozart cycle, Uchida turns in readings of such eloquence, one has no trouble understanding why they’re also being recorded for posterity…. The slow middle movement proves one of those experiences none but Uchida can mastermind, a stroll through some heavenly musical garden, where time and gravity hold no sway. Happily, it’s also an experience listeners will soon be able to repeat at home.”

Sunday, May 1, 2011

OperaColorado: Cinderella has the Audience Laughing 'til Their Sides Hurt!

OperaColorado provided an endless source of laughter with their latest production, Rossini’s Cinderella (La Cenerentola). This is a farce of the first magnitude, yet this performance under the direction of Grischa Asagaroff was off the Richter scale in terms of comedic timing. I can’t remember when I've heard an opera audience laugh so much.

The opening began with a long, but luscious overture under the baton of Timothy Long and the musicians of the Colorado Symphony. The audience grew a bit restless with the length of the overture, but it was beautifully played. The curtain rose to show the dilapidated house of the Baron Don Magnifico in trompe o’lieo design, black etchings depicting three dimensional architecture on a white (or cream) canvas. Immediately we are transported into a fairytale story (or book).

La Cenerentola requires amazing flexibility and control for all the vocalists. The music is filled with vocal fireworks, from the opening “Cenerentola vien qua” where the two sisters are ordering Angelina about, “Cinderella come here, my shoes, my bonnet, my pen, my necklace…” the rapid fire lyrics and impeccable timing of the three vocalists allow Rossini’s music to dance about the hall. Time and time again we are treated to solo or multi-voiced moments of extreme velocity. The stunning cast captures each note with amazing precision.

Angelina (Cinderella), played by Daniela Mack is placed center stage in brown rags, with her sisters, Clorinda, played by Christie Hageman, and Tisbe, played by Julia Tobiska, in their rooms to either side. The sisters are gaudy and over done in terms of makeup and costume, setting the feeling of farce before they even begin to sing.

Daniela Mack as Angelina was wonderful. Her rich, lyrical voice swept the stage with tenderness. We immediately felt a sense of compassion for her with the longing in her voice for “Una volta c'era un re.” In the end there is a transformation from popper to princess. Angelina’s final aria “Nacqui all'affanno, al pianto” provides Daniela with the perfect opportunity to show off her power, range and emotional control as she asks her husband, the Prince, to pardon her step-father and sisters.

Christie Hageman as Clorinda was delightfully funny and even spent some time on point, not something you expect from a lyric soprano. But then again, neither is impeccable comic timing and Christie has both. Julia Tobiska as her sister Tisbe was delightfully funny. As a pair they were ideal as the evil step sisters, accentuating the sympathy we have for Angelina.

Dale Travis as Alidoro, both the old tutor and the beggar man, brought his rich lyric bass voice to the role, giving a sense of stateliness and poise to a production rich in farce –a great foil to offset the comedy. In opposition to this is Philip Cokorinos as Don Magnifico, the perfect combination of old statesman and buffoon. He is an ass, as his character puts it in “Miei rampolli femminini,” and portrayed the high farce of his role perfectly.

Michele Angelini as Prince Ramino was striking. His power and versatility were impressive, particularly so for a young man. In the second act, “Si, ritrovarla io guiro” is when the Prince declares he will no longer be disguised and will find his love. The amount of sound he is able to produce is stunning. He has quite a career ahead of him.

Daniel Blecher as Dandini the Prince's valet, who gets to masquerade as the Prince, was excellent. He sang “Come un'ape ne' giorni d'aprile” in the first act delighting the audience with his comedic acting and his amazingly flexible baritone voice.

The set, by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle was wonderful, a delightful setting of a fairytale with a collection of pockets that open revealing surprise after surprise. The sepia tone of the backdrop set in sharp contrast to the bold colors, particularly those of the gentlemen in red coats! At no point was the set a distraction even though it was wholly ornate and filled with imagination.

The costumes, however, were confusing. Don Magnifico was dressed in classic pantaloons and coat, which would fit an older baron, perhaps out of style. The Prince, when dressed as a valet, also wore pantaloons, which sort of set him apart. But, in the final scene he was still in pantaloons, which is not what the actual valet, Dandini wore when pretending to be the Prince. The gentlemen were in white tie and tails reminiscent of the fin de siecle, which matched Dandini as the Prince and Alidoro as the tutor. Putting the Prince in an older style in the end seemed incongruous. Add to that Angelina’s final dress was Spanish 19th century large hoops, which didn’t match anything.
The costumes of the two step sisters were delightful in their renditions of Little Bo Peep and a Peppermint Candy, as were the gentlemen chorus in their white tie and tails or formal hunting red coats.
The lighting design by Chris Maravich was invisible except for the rain scene, which means it was perfect. It never detracted from the scene and yet everything was always visible when it needed to be. The baron’s home felt dusty and run down, due to the muted brown hues, where as the Prince’s lodgings were bright and colorful, adding to the brilliance of the step-sisters gaudy gowns.

The chorus was impeccable. They were well directed and their timing beautifully choreographed so at no point did they steal the scene from someone singing and yet, when they did move it was sharp and to the point. Grischa Asagaroff did an amazing job getting the farce just right. Often times farce productions let the actors run wild, and when this happens too much activity goes on during any given scene. However, in Cinderella, the action was always under control to such a degree that it never felt that way - the hallmark of success in directing farce. No actor stole the spotlight during another actor’s moment, and with an abundance of movement as was on stage, that’s a minor miracle. In the opening scene Clorinda danced on point while Tisbe powdered her face. Neither of these actions was overt when Angelina was singing, so our focus was solely on her voice and not the comedy of her sisters. Yet, when they needed to pull focus, they did. A brilliantly subtle scene and set the stage for an entire opera filled with that sort of precise crafting of action.

What a delightful production. The music is stunning, and so is everything else. Whether you are a long fan of opera, or a newcomer to its delights, Opera Colorado presents a full evening of entertainment with laughter for everyone.

There are 3 more performances at the Ellie Caulkin Opera House
Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 7:30 pm
Friday, May 6, 2011 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm
For tickets online: www.operacolorado.org
or call: 303.778.1500