. Interchanging Idioms: June 2011

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Maltese Tenor, Joseph Calleja's New Decca Classics Solo Album, Debuts as Vocal Bestseller on German Chart

“The Maltese-born Calleja ... has matured into one of the finest lyric tenors before the public today.” — Associated Press

Joseph Calleja’s third solo album on Decca, The Maltese Tenor, has become an instant bestseller in Germany, debuting high on its classical chart as the top vocal recording. On the new CD, 33-year-old Calleja sings some of the best Italian and French arias in his repertoire, including "E lucevan le stelle" from Tosca, the ballad of Kleinzach from The Tales of Hoffmann, and arias from La bohème, Simon Boccanegra, Faust, Manon, The Pearl Fishers and more. Many of these arias he has sung onstage at the Metropolitan Opera, performances that had the New York Times praising Calleja's "ardor, stamina and poignant vocal colorings." The Maltese Tenor debuted in the number two position on the German chart, surpassed only by crossover star David Garrett’s new release, Classic Romance. The North German broadcasting network NDR made the disc its album of the week, praising its "intelligence and taste" and the way Calleja's voice “flows freely and easily as it climbs the highest heights."

The Maltese Tenor will have its US release this fall. But music lovers across America will have a chance to see and hear Calleja before then, when he stars in “Live from Jerusalem” on July 28. In the concert, which will be beamed (with a time delay) to 480 theaters across the U.S., he stars alongside Renée Fleming, as well as Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, in a program of arias and duets with the superstar soprano; the occasion will mark Calleja’s first trip to Israel and his debut with the IPO.

My Thoughts on Greg Sandow's: A difficult discussion

Catch his post from Greg Sandow on the future of classical music here

Greg makes a series of points about the whether or not orchestras are actively trying to improve their playing. He sites several examples of orchestras who tout on one hand how important quality music is to them and yet on the other hand the near complete avoidance of how to improve this quality when the subject is brought up. The main question: are orchestras really trying to improve or are they leaving improvement up to the individual players?

For my own part I think improvement can be looked at in a variety of ways; Is the orchestra playing technically better or Is the orchestra providing more exciting concerts. Maybe this last one isn't really an internal improvement, but one of external exposure. It does still, however, signify some change in the status of an orchestras performance.

In terms of improving technical ability there is the conundrum of the war between the individual and the ensemble. Certainly the lead chairs of a major orchestra have their own agenda, solo performances, outside commitments and their own careers they have to be concerned with. Plus, they are the principle chairs because of their quality performance (one assumes), so they likely feel they have already obtained a level of excellence. Improving for them is more a personal goal, rather than an ensemble. Add to this the general feeling that musicians at this level should know what it is to improve and don't need to be told (like they were in school) where they're lacking. This is a false attitude, but one I've experienced by more than a few professional musicians. I'm not suggesting they aren't interested in improving; they are just rather resistant to anyone externally telling them how to do so. On more than one occasion I've heard grousing about one or another conductor who comments on how they wanted something done, and the performers thinking they were idiots for even suggesting something like that --because the instrumentalists knows their instrument and how to do something better than the conductor.

This struggle to improve technical ability also strikes at the struggles between administration and the talent in professional orchestras today. In even the best of situations, there is an invisible wall between these departments. No matter how much the administrative staff knows about music, they aren't considered professional musicians (otherwise they'd be playing and not administrating), so the talent are rather loathe to take direction from the administrative staff. There are exceptions to this of course: the administrative staff can offer suggestions and make requests based on feedback from donors, board members, press or patron comments. Generally this input falls into the suggestion category and is completely within the scope of whether the talent is willing to take on the suggestion(s) or not.

In terms of more exciting performances and innovation I would like to look to a trio of conductors who are making waves in terms of what their orchestras are doing. Michael Tilson-Thomas, Gustavo Dudamel and Alan Gilbert are changing the audiences perception of what it means to go to the concert hall. The results bear out in hugh numbers of new "fans."

Michael Tilson-Thomas is doing a couple of things I really admire. With the San Francisco Symphony he created "Keeping Score", a PBS series detailing the history of the composers and the music as a way of educating the wider public about the integral elements of the performances. One of the reasons we love great pieces of music is because the music is so richly layered, which can be hard to appreciate if you don't somehow get to know it. Professional musicians love the music because they've all studied it. The common punter on the street hasn't spent years in the same study, so grasping the intricate details can sometimes be difficult. This is part of the reason music of the romantic era is still so very popular and late 20th/21st century classical music struggles. The romantic music has been around long enough to have public awareness and familiarity, but the modern stuff hasn't so the common audience member isn't sure what to expect or how to appreciate it.

With "Keeping Score" Michael Tilson-Thomas has been educating people on the classics, like Copland, Ives, Berlios and this year Mahler. As popular Mahler is with audiences, his music is still difficult to grasp. By educating people on what his music is all about, Tilson-Thomas's audience have a greater appreciation for what they are listening to.

Another reason I admire Michael Tilson-Thomas is his work with the YouTube Orchestra. This is HUGE in terms of audience reach and global interaction among musicians. The concert was broadcast live onto the concert wall, so thousands more than just those within the hall could appreciate the concert. Then it was posted on YouTube so millions more would watch and enjoy, and enjoy they did. This concert wasn't just about the music, but about the musicians as well, as bios and short stories told a bit about some of the featured artists. Again, it comes down to educating an audience about what they're experiencing. A modern audience wants to feel it is somehow connected with the artists they're watching. Even through a small screen video on a computer thousands of miles away, and several days later, people can connect with the performance. The YouTube Orchestra is probably the best single mass outreach an orchestra has ever done.

Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Phil are broadcasting their performances into cinemas. Taking a page from the MET's HD LIVE book, they are reaching out to thousands more audience members than they could possibly reach limited to their hall. Why does this work, when many orchestras can't even sell out their own halls? Because Gustavo has personality!! -- he has more audience appeal than perhaps any other conductor I've seen on stage. Some of what he does seems  "showy" in the staid world of classical performance, but an orchestral performance IS a show and the focus of that show is the conductor. Centuries ago great conductors used this showmanship to sterling effect - Jean Baptist Lully, anyone? Showmanship works, vaulting the LA Phil into one of the top 5 orchestras in the US, simply based on audience appeal.

I've heard comments about how Dudamel lacks maturity, and is unable to really understand the complexities of music in the canon. Yet reviewer after reviewer of his concerts calls him a "once in a century talent." It is worth considering the positive experience his journey from young hotshot to old master will be for his fans. I believe that when Dudamel is the Grand Old Man on the podium, people will be swapping stories of when they saw him at the beginning of his career. Gustavo is showy, and that's what attracts the audience, but he's also a skilled conductor who will only improve with age and that will keep them coming back.

Alan Gilbert's foray into innovation comes fairly recently with the NY Philharmonic's performance of Leos Janacek’s "The Cunning Little Vixen." This wasn't their first staged opera; they performed Gyorgy Ligeti’s “Le Grande Macabre” the previous year with great success. That success lies in the combining of opera and orchestra around pieces that don't really fit on the huge opera stage and yet are too richly orchestrated to be chamber hall works. The reviews are glowing and the classical world set on it ear, wondering what's next. The performances were not only engaging, but captivated whole new markets of audience members. This is what classical music needs --innovation and exploration.

Are orchestras getting better? I think some of them are. These projects created by Tilson-Thomas, Dudamel and Gilbert are pushing the musicians to think different, to expand their horizons and approach music in a whole new way. They are not only providing more exciting performances and reaching new audiences, but technically improving as well. They have to in order to keep up with the talent they face on the podium.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

New York, Boston, Chicago and San Fran Get Great Marks for Cities with Classical Music

Travel & Leisure ranks cities in a variety of ways, but the Classical Music scene put these four cities at the top

For more information on what cities rank where, visit: http://www.travelandleisure.com/americas-favorite-cities.

Deutsche Grammophon & Decca Celebrate Liszt Throughout 2011

Full Scope of Liszt’s Compositional Output is Explored with Both New and Catalog Releases

October 22, 2011 will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of composer, pianist, conductor and teacher Franz Liszt. The celebrations have already started with a number of concerts and new recordings and they will continue throughout the year. Deutsche Grammophon & Decca pay tribute both with a host of new recordings as well as the revival of many catalog gems. In addition, a number of online resources will launch starting with www.Liszt200.com.

Decca started the celebration with Harmonies du Soir, Nelson Freire’s all-new recording of selections of Liszt’s solo piano music. Released on May 17th, the album has already received critical acclaim: “…what he does is so beautiful, he seems the return of some great master, someone like Josef Hoffman, in how he combines an exquisite touch — every note is a drop of gold — with great discipline and muscular solidity.” (Boston Globe) The album includes selections from eight works which span Liszt’s compositional career including Ballade no. 2 in B minor, Consolations, Valse oubliée in F sharp major and more.

Deutsche Grammophon & Decca together follow with two catalog items: Liszt: The Collection and Liszt: Wild & Crazy, both released today. The Collection is a deluxe box set of 34 CDs which surveys Liszt’s vast output. Given Liszt’s immense number of compositions this set is an overview and touches on various genres but is not a complete collection. Included are 2 CDs of works for piano and orchestra, 7 CDs of orchestral works, 12 CDs of solo piano music, 2 CDs of organ music, 5 CDs of lieder and 6 CDs of sacred choral works. In addition to the inclusion of many rarely recorded works the set offers great interpreters and benchmark recordings as only Deutsche Grammophon & Decca can. The list includes Zimerman, Barenboim, Arrau, Bolet, Kempff, Ott, Sinopoli, Solti, Haitink, Fischer-Dieskau, Fassbaender and many more.

Bass-Baritone Luca Pisaroni Stars as Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo at Glyndebourne and BBC Proms

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

Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, who has proven to be an up-and-coming vocal and dramatic draw on both sides of the Atlantic, looks forward to capping his season with a high-profile European summer schedule. He returns to the U.K.’s Glyndebourne Festival to make his role debut as Argante in Handel’s Rinaldo (July 2 – Aug 22), as well as appearing in the same production at London’s world-famous BBC Proms festival on August 25. As Leporello, Pisaroni appears on a new, star-studded EMI Classics DVD of Don Giovanni, recorded last summer at Glyndebourne; anticipating his Metropolitan Opera role debut as Leporello next season, he also plays the part this summer at Germany’s Baden-Baden Festival under Yannick Nézet-Séguin (July 18-24).

Rinaldo was the opera with which Handel made his sensational London debut, as well as being the first Italian opera written specifically for the British stage. Glyndebourne’s first staging of Rinaldo sees Pisaroni starring as “the bad guy” Argante alongside Sonia Prina in the title role of the heroic crusader and Anett Fritsch as his beloved, Almirena. The production features the period-instrument Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, conducted by Ottavio Dantone. Pisaroni offered his insights into playing Argante in an interview for the Glyndebourne Festival newsletter.

“Very much. He is the Saracen King of Jerusalem plotting with Armida against Rinaldo. He is a classic anti-hero. One of the fascinating aspects of being a stage performer is that you are able to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’ for a couple of hours. There are two kinds of roles: the ones close to your own personality – in my case that could be Figaro – or the ones completely different than you. I love to play the crazy, evil, and broken characters. In summer 2008, I had the chance to play both Figaro and Tiridate [in Handel’s Radamisto] at Santa Fe Opera. While Figaro is fun, lively, and in love, Tiridate is abusive, controlling, and violent. It was great fun to explore such different personalities simultaneously. When asked if it’s more fun to play the good or the bad guy, I would say definitely the bad guy – in life you never get away with being the bad guy! On stage, you do and everyone loves it. So, I am really looking forward to being the ‘evil’ King of Jerusalem at Glyndebourne.”

NEW Kristjan Jarvi's Absolute Ensemble Arabian Nights CD - Aug 10th

Kristjan Järvi’s Absolute Ensemble announces the release of its latest album, Arabian Nights: Live at Town Hall NYC, on Enja Records. The album will be released on August 10 in the US. A sonic journey through Middle Eastern sounds and spirits, Arabian Nights includes music written specifically for Absolute Ensemble by Marcel Khalifé, Dhafer Youssef, and Daniel Schnyder. The program was conceived by Järvi and Schnyder, and recorded live at Town Hall in New York on April 7, 2007, presented by Town Hall as part of its 2007 Not Just Jazz Series. The album was produced by Järvi and engineered by Holger Schwark.

Absolute Arabian Nights was conceived as a post-September 11 memorial concert, and the first performance took place in an airport hangar in Bremen, Germany, presented by Musikfest Bremen. The Absolute Ensemble sought to crash musical genres with the Middle East during one of the most contentious periods in recent political history. The ensemble joined forces with UNESCO Artist for Peace Marcel Khalifé, plus soloists Bassam Saba, Dhafer Youssef and Daniel Schnyder to develop an honest, apolitical statement of peace and unity in the music world.

The process of creating this new project was long and sometimes agonizing – far from a simple East-meets-West love story out of Hollywood. Balancing the mix of Western and Eastern instruments created many challenges – Arab instruments do not play a chromatic scale and use a different tuning system than Western instruments. The composers involved also come from very different backgrounds both in terms of nationality and training.

In addition, the rehearsals were a puzzling mix of Arabic, French and English. Absolute Ensemble flutist Hayley Melitta Reid describes the situation, “At one point it became clear that there were no words left to communicate. The only way was through the music. And so there was singing, and clapping, and foot stamping and even shouting. And then there was compromise. What could be a better political statement than that? To many people, the word compromise has a kind of stigma – an irritation that something was lost rather than gained. This couldn’t be less true. Only when we gave up what we had held onto for so long, were we able to find peace and eventually great music.”
Recorded live at historic Town Hall in New York, this concert brought the Absolute Ensemble back to the city where it was founded, and back to the site of the September 11 tragedy. It symbolizes Absolute Ensemble’s commitment to changing music, and breaking down the borders that exist not only between cultures but among musicians.

This week's Top Ticket in Denver: Idina Menzel

Symphony on the Rocks with Idina Menzel and the Colorado Symphony

Broadway powerhouse Idina Menzel – the Tony award-winning "Elphaba" from international blockbuster Wicked – returns by popular demand for one-night-only at Red Rocks Amphitheatre with the Colorado Symphony. With a diverse repertoire of classic pop, musical theater favorites (including hits from Wicked, Rent and Glee) as well as songs from her album "I Stand," Idina Menzel demonstrates why she is one of the great vocal performers of our time.

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

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Opens Tonight at Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival

Don't miss Conductor Jaap van Zweden and the DSO performing an all Beethoven concert with special guest soloists

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra performs tonight, 6:00 p.m. at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater with an all Beethoven concert including Egmont Overture, Triple Concerto and Symphony No. 7. Special soloists Ida Kavafian, Peter Wiley and Anne-Marie McDermott join the DSO in performing the Triple Concerto. Come early for a FREE pre-concert lecture with Author, Composer and Puzzle Master Bruce Adolphe at 5:00 p.m. in the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Tickets start at $24 and lawn seats are FREE for children 12 and under.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Getting Heard: Making Noise in a Digital World

This is part two of the #GettingHeard series

The first was posted here: Getting Heard: What it means in a Modern Digital World

Classical Music Critics used to (and to some extend still do) speak through newspapers. Alex Ross (NY Times), Anne Midgette (The Washington Post), Kyle MacMillan (Denver Post) and Mark Swed(Los Angeles Times) are just a few of the really big names across the US that publish classical music news and reviews in their regional newspapers. Newspapers used to be the only way to get heard. 50 years ago it was the primary way people got their daily updates. If you wanted to publicize your classical music event, you posted an article or a full color spread in the local paper (Orchestra's still do this, but it's not the only way they are getting the word out now). TV attempted to challenge the power of the printed press, but it never really captured the readership that newspapers held --in terms of news, particularly classical music news. Newspapers ruled the media world... until the internet.

With the advent of the internet came newsreaders and blogs. Many newspapers (these critics included) started posting their opinions in the cyberworld to gain a much larger audience --a global readership. They were joined by others around the world like Greg Sandow (East Coast US), Jessica Duchen (London England) & OperaChic (Milan Italy). Some of the newspaper critics joined in the blogsphere with their own, in addition to their newspaper articles. With newsreaders, internet access to news sources and the ease with which people could choose their own methods of delivery and sort content, the internet has taken over where the majority of people get their news - and therefore the primary place for people talking about classical music use to get heard.

Classical music organizations realized they needed to have a presence on the internet. So, they created their own web pages, announcing upcoming concerts and detailed bios on their performers. Facebook came along and many organizations jumped on that bandwagon too. As of this year, Facebook is the primary source people go to to get their daily updates. Classical music organizations started having Facebook pages too. While all these pages are good, they are only relevant and visible to the average user is there is some noise being generated about them, and so we return to the critics.

Alex Ross, "The Rest is Noise" is one of the highest ranked classical music blogs on the internet. The idea of ranking introduces another aspect to all this "noise" about classical music. Blogs and websites are ranked based on algorithms determining readership, links to the site, return visits and a host of other criteria which give the site a number hoping somehow to relate it to how effective it is as getting heard out on the internet. I feel fortunate the blog you're reading now is among the top 25 classical music blogs on the internet. It rather ranks me with the big names I've already mentioned (and in terms of classical music, these names make a lot of noise - they are getting heard).

Now there's a new tool to be utilized: Twitter, and a new way of ranking: Klout. Not only are average everyday users getting more and more of their "daily" content from twitter, but bloggers, like myself are finding it yet another way to get heard among all the traffic on the internet. The Klout score is the way one's Twitter and Facebook presence is ranked in terms of how effective you are in getting your message to your audience.

As of June 28th, my own Klout score is 43. How does that rank among some of the other's I've mentioned?

Alex Ross has a score of: 59
Jessica Duchen has a score of: 55
Anne Midgette has a score of: 49
OperaChic has a score of: 45
Greg Sandow has a score of: 43

Compare that to some classical music organizations

NY Philharmonic has a score of: 57
LA Philharmonic has a score of: 56
Dallas Symphony has a score of: 56
San Francisco Symphony has a score of: 54
Chicago Symphony has a score of: 48

What does all this really say? Well, some of the classical music organizations are as good at getting their name heard as the critics are at talking about what's going on - at least in terms of Twitter and Facebook. The top three critics I listed are among the top 10 ranked classical music blogs, so that is a factor too. Still, on the whole, the classical music world is doing a fairly good job about getting the word out.

What surprises me? How many critics, performers and composers aren't utilizing the internet effectively. I don't want to mention names, as this a "post of shame" - but there are some notable critics who don't have blogs. They publish to newspapers and are highly respected in their field, but, other than the newspapers online presence, these critics don't exist on the internet. Some that have blogs aren't using Twitter. Ok, it's only been around for a short period of time, but it is having a huge impact on how the younger generation gets their news, stays informed. If you want to get heard you really need to be using the latest tools. Chances are there will be something else in a year, and yet another way of ranking its effectiveness. Until then, at least use the tools available.

Note 1: Every critic or artist mentioned in this post is someone I follow with some regularity. They wouldn't have been mentioned if they weren't worth listening to. I just hope they're listening to me - because they all deserve to Get Heard! If you're not reading what they have to say, take a moment and follow the above links. It's worth your time.

Note 2: If your name or organization is NOT here and you think it should be, comment, post a link to your blog/online presence and let me know what your Klout score is. If you're getting the word out about Classical Music, I'd like to know about you and hear what you have to say.

Note 3: If your name or organization is NOT here and you checked your online presence to find it lacking (i.e., your klout score isn't above 30), send me an email. I'd like to help.

Note 4: This post is just scratching the surface in terms of Getting Heard!

Dallas Symphony Orchestra at Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival with all Beethoven Concert - June 29

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra opens its six concert residency at Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival with Beethoven's beautiful Egmont Overture. Going from strong to stronger, with Ida Kavafian on violin, Peter Wiley on Cello and the new music director of the festival Anne-Marie McDermott on piano, Maestro Jaap van Zweden is tackles the brilliant Triple Concerto. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra then continues the Beethoven theme, "Architect of Humanity: Great Works for Orchestra" for the opening concert with Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92.

Conductor Jeff Tyzik will lead the Dallas Symphony on July 1st with "Three Broadway Divas," featuring Debbie Gravitte, Jan Horvath and Christiane Noll. You'll experience the glitter of Broadway as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and three incredible Broadway Divas dazzle you with a spectacular blend of Broadway favorites.

Jaap van Zweden then returns to the podium on July 2nd for the "Hammer Blows of Fate" and Mahler's Symphony No. 6.

"To those who better understand Mahler, our world and, perhaps, themselves, the work as a whole is exhilarating, not depressing. It is preeminently cathartic, just as the greatest tragedies of Ancient Greece are cathartic." - Jack Diether, New York Times

And that's just the beginning of a month long music festival in the beautiful Vail Valley.

For more information on these and many other wonderful concerts (or to get tickets) visits the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival Website.

The Golandsky Institute’s 2011 Summer Symposium and International Piano Festival Takes Place from July 9th – 17th in Princeton, N.J.

The Golandsky Institute has announced the performers for its 2011 International Piano Festival, to be held at Princeton University for its eighth consecutive summer, July 9th – 17th. The Festival will feature six recitals by acclaimed professionals from the classical and jazz piano music worlds. The Festival celebrates the bicentennial of the birth of Franz Liszt with performances of his music and lectures by scholars, Scott Burnham of Princeton and Elena Sorokina of the Moscow Conservatory.

On Sunday, July 10th at 8:00 p.m., From Moscow, pianist Pavel Nersessian, widely acknowledged to be one of the most remarkable Russian pianists of his generation, will perform for the opening night of the festival. Program includes Chopin Waltzes, Mauzurkas, 4th Ballade, Tchaikovsky: The Seasons, Op. 37, and Liszt: 12th Hungarian Rhapsody. Performance will be held at Taplin Auditorium, Fine Hall, Princeton University.

Monday, July 11th at 8:00 p.m., Richardson Chamber players, Anna Lim, violin and Tom Kraines, cello, join pianist Ilya Itin, in an evening of Piano Trios and more! Program includes Schubert’s famed B Flat Trio. The concert will take place at Nassau Presbyterian Church, 61 Nassau Street.

On Tuesday, July 12th at 8:00 p.m., also at the Nassau Presbyterian Church, Bach expert and distinguished artist Father Sean Duggan presents a recital entitled “Spirituality at the Keyboard.” This program includes religious music of Franz Liszt, Bach and Messiaen.

Thursday, July 14th, 8:00 p.m. at Taplin Auditorium, Logan Skelton performs the piano transcription of Bartok’s famous “Concerto for Orchestra,” his specialty, along with Franz Liszt’s epic Piano Sonata.

Friday, July 15th, 8:00 p.m., Jazz superstar Bill Charlap, performs a solo concert at Taplin Auditorium and gives a public masterclass in the afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in McCormick Hall, Princeton University.

Internationally acclaimed, Leeds Gold Medalist, Ilya Itin returns to Princeton with the finale to the Festival on Saturday, July 16th at Taplin Auditorium, 8:00 p.m. His program will include Beethoven’s great final Sonata, Opus 111, music of Bach and Pulitzer Prize winning composer Yehudi Wyner.

Admission for the concerts is $30. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online at the Golandsky Institute’s website, www.golandskyinstitute.org.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Gabriel Kahane to Perform at Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival on July 19 and 20, named Composer-in-Residence

Much has been made over Gabriel Kahane's ability to transcend rigid genre classifications. His compositions--which range from probing classical song cycles to joyous theater pieces to raucous indie hits--are far more concerned with exploring his musical potential than fitting in with a particular market niche. This summer, Kahane will be featured as the Composer-in-Residence at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival, a six week long concert series known for its diverse programing and wide range of musical offerings. The two are a perfect fit.

As the Composer-in-Residence, Kahane will perform two nights of music and premiere a new commission, a short cycle of songs called Come on All You Ghosts. On July 19, he will present one of the Festival's four "Soirées", at which audience members can enjoy food and drink while Kahane entertains from the piano. The program, entitled "An Evening with Gabriel Kahane: Music for the Ear, Intellect and Soul", will highlight in an intimate setting Kahane's lieder/songs shaped by wry stories and direct personal emotions. The following night, July 20, he offers "The Artistry of Gabriel Kahane", supported by an ensemble that comprises the Calder Quartet and seven New York-based instrumentalists, complete with the world premiere of Come on All You Ghosts. The piece is based on poems by San Francisco poet Matthew Zapruder.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

'Lady Blunt' Strad Fetches $15.9 Million

The first time the 1721 Strad violin, named 'Lady Blunt' was sold at auction, in 1971, it fetched 84,000 pounds. But yesterday, auctioned online by Tarsio, it broke the world record for a Strad violin by fetching 9.8 million pounds, or $15.9 million.

The owner of the instrument was the Nippon Foundation, which bought it just three years ago for about $10 million.The new owner wishes to remain anonymous. Nippon will pass the full $16 million on to Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami left almost 23,000 dead or missing and destroyed more than 200,000 homes, according to a National Police Agency statement. The government has estimated the disaster's cost in damages to be as high as 25 trillion yen ($312 billion).

For more on this violin read: Lady Blunt Reuning

Award-Winning Documentary Film Pianomania, featuring Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Now Playing in US Theaters

“A captivating film, not just for pianomaniacs!”– Time Out London

Grammy Award-winning pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is one of the stars of Pianomania, a new film that has captivated audiences and film festival juries in Europe and the US – including the San Francisco International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Gate Award for Best Feature Documentary. Directed by Lilian Franck and Robert Cibis, Pianomania is a must-see for music-lovers, revealing a world where passion and the pursuit of perfection collide with artistic obsession and a touch of madness. The film arrives in the United States this summer, opening at selected theaters in Boston and Chicago on June 24; it then heads to other cities around the country, including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

Widely heralded as a key figure in the music of our time and as an important interpreter of piano repertoire from every age, Pierre-Laurent Aimard has been described as “one of those rare pianists who can make us feel that, yes, there are musicians now whose work is as true, as vital, as individual as the performances we can hear on treasured old recordings” (Paul Griffiths, New York Times). By following piano tuner-to-the-stars Stefan Knüpfer, Pianomania offers rare, behind-the-scenes footage of several extraordinary musicians, including Aimard, Alfred Brendel, Lang Lang, Till Fellner, and others.

Violinist Christian Tetzlaff’s Performance at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival to be Broadcast On Live From Lincoln Center, Tuesday August 2

Mr. Tetzlaff will perform Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in E-flat major for violin and viola
with Antoine Tamestit and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra conducted by Louis Langrée

German violinist Christian Tetzlaff will perform in the opening night concert of Lincoln Center ’s Mostly Mozart Festival at Avery Fisher Hall, to be broadcast nationwide on PBS’s Emmy award-winning Live from Lincoln Center Tuesday, August 2 at 8:00 pm (check local listings for date and time).

Led by conductor and Festival Music Director Louis Langrée, Mr. Tetzlaff will perform Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante in E-flat major for violin and viola with French violist Antoine Tamestit, who will make his Mostly Mozart debut, and the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. The all-Mozart program also includes the Overture to Le nozze de Figaro, Donna Anna’s aria “Crudele?...Non mi dir, bell’idol mio” from Don Giovanni and the concert aria “Bella mia fiamma…Resta, o cara,” both sung by soprano Susana Phillips, and Symphony No. 36 in C Major (“ Linz ”). Since its debut in 1976, Live From Lincoln Center has brought the best of the performing arts to millions across the country. Now in its 35th season, it is the only live performing arts telecast in the United States .

Mr. Tetzlaff has been a frequent guest artist at the Mostly Mozart Festival since his debut in 1994. Following his 2007 performance of Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 5, the Financial Times remarked that Mr. Tetzlaff “played with passion that never precluded precision, with poise that never precluded propulsion.”

Best Of Beethoven with the Colorado Symphony

Colorado Symphony Summer Seasonings presented by PCL concerts open with Best of Beethoven; enjoy alfresco dining before the concert

The Colorado Symphony's Summer Seasonings at Boettcher Concert Hall presented by PCL concerts open with the return of Best of Beethoven at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 8. Summer Seasonings presented by PCL, a trio of concerts showcasing both popular music and composers, also offers the opportunity to dine alfresco on the Galleria before heading indoors to enjoy the concert. Best of Beethoven is an encore performance of one of the Colorado Symphony's most popular Inside the Score concerts of the 2010/11 season.

Led by resident conductor Scott O'Neil, Best of Beethoven presents an emblematic banquet of Beethoven's greatest works – each introduced by O'Neil in a welcoming and relaxed setting. Delve into Beethoven's world and learn about his "Titan-esque" struggles with the limitations of aristocratic society, the impact of failed love affairs and progressive hearing loss. Enjoy a selection of the greatest delicacies of Beethoven's body of work – his oeuvre – including the powerful Overture to his only ballet, The Creatures of Prometheus. Highlights of the concert include excerpts from his Ninth Symphony, "Moonlight Sonata," Third Symphony ("Eroica") and more, all peppered with discussion from the stage about the inspiration and impact of these masterworks.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why are Classical Music Concerts so Relaxed in the Summer (and so Stuffy in the Winter)???

A look at what "dressing for success" really means in the classical music world

Did you ever notice the general mode of dress of concert goers at Tanglewood, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Colorado Music Festival, Olympic Music Festival, Ojai Music Festival, Cabrillo New Music Festival and ... the list goes on? The general public is dressed down, relaxed and comfortable. There are some (I've noticed anyway) in the more expensive seats at Bravo & Aspen who are dressed expensively, but the style of clothing (albeit Ralph Lauren, or Calvin Klein) is more relaxed than the dress coat and tie, or evening gown, which is what they'd be wearing if the concert were in Boettcher, Carnegie, or Symphony Hall. The orchestras also dress more casual, wearing white coats, rather than white tie and tails.

Yes, it's Summer time, and the rule of the day is to wear more casual clothing. But have you noticed the patrons who are attending the events? They're not just more relaxed, they tend to be younger. Maybe it's because there are "lawn" seats at Bravo, Tanglewood and Quilcene (Olympic). However, I'll wager it has more to do with the relaxed atmosphere of the players and the concerts.

Colorado Symphony is performing a series of concerts out at Red Rocks this Summer. Of the available 9000 seats, some of their concerts are nearly sold out! Wow - that's amazing! Boettcher Concert Hall can't hold 9000 people and Colorado Symphony did have a banner year in terms of ticket sales at Boettcher, but very few of their concerts were anywhere close to the same percentage of tickets sold compared to seats available this year. And (again) they did better in terms of ticket sales than they ever have before. Bravo estimates that the festival brings anywhere from 60,000 to 70,000 visitors to the valley each summer. Tanglewood up'd their prices this year because of their popularity. This is all GREAT news ... for the Summer Seasons.

So, why are the Summer Concerts doing so well? IMHO - Attitude! The concerts are fun and relaxed. The music is still spectacular, Colorado Symphony is featuring Beethoven, John Williams and the Russian Masters, Boston Symphony is featuring Berlioz, Higdon, Bruch, Dvorak, Sibelius and more, Bravo is featuring Mozart, Mendelssohn, Weber, Beethoven, Liszt, Strauss, Dvorak, Mahler, and too many more to list them all. It's going to be a great Summer no matter where you are. The halls (or parks, outdoor venues and lawns) are going to be heaving with people, people who love classical music - And the attitude is going to be relaxed, comfortable and inviting.

There was a wonderful article in the Globe and Mail earlier this month about the age of Toronto's concert goers. Toronto Symphony Orchestra is enjoying packed houses with an average age under 50. In a climate where orchestras are struggling and the average age of concert goers continues to increase, this trend in the other direction is heartening. Again, what's the difference - Attitude! They introduced Tsoundcheck which is a series of events targeted toward a younger audience with events more like what you'd expect in a club atmosphere, or a rock concert setting.

If we compare that to the Summer concerts that seem to do so well, you'll find the same sort of atmosphere. At Bravo, Red Rocks, Tanglewood and Olympic patrons are encouraged to bring picnics, to make a day of it, to enjoy more than just a couple of hours in stayed formality. These concerts are fun!

What's most interesting to me is the music isn't really that much different than the regular season of these same orchestras. The same great music performed with a eye toward atmosphere and relaxed enjoyment. We don't need to get rid of all the high formality of the regular concert season, because occasionally dressing up in a tux and having a "night out" can be fun. But, so can wearing jeans, standing for most of the concert (because you're too excited to sit) and cheering your face off at the outstanding moments.

For all those orchestras out there... I hope you're listening. The audience wants you; you just have to provide the kind of environment in which they feel comfortable.

2011-12 Season Celebrates Curtis’s Rich Heritage, Forward Momentum, Global Influence, and Local Relationships

The Curtis Institute of Music announces a season-long celebration, “Appassionato,” highlighting the renowned conservatory’s storied past, its innovative future, and its indelible impact on music in Philadelphia and the world. As Curtis carries its rich musical traditions into the future, it remains a magnet for the finest international talent. Frequent student performances are at the heart of the school’s unique, time-tested “learn by doing” philosophy, which has produced so many leading musicians. In more than 130 public performances each season, Curtis annually offers Philadelphians an unmatched gift of music. In 2011-12, the “Appassionato” celebration ventures further, with an expansion of international touring, new and ongoing collaborations with cultural partners in Philadelphia and beyond, and a stepped-up schedule of artist residencies and faculty recitals. Curtis hosts guest artists and composers from the uniquely eminent body of Curtis alumni, and offers frequent celebratory surprises for the audience at ticketed performances.

“Appassionato” extends beyond public performance to encompass Curtis’s curriculum and special events throughout the year. It celebrates the landmark opening of Lenfest Hall, which expands the school’s facilities for the first time in decades, as well as the numerous strategic initiatives launched in the last three years. It occasions an Alumni Reunion expected to bring hundreds of the world’s most eminent musicians back to Philadelphia for a reminiscence-packed fall weekend. The annual all-school project – in which performances, classes, and academic projects focus on a central theme – will highlight Curtis’s unique heritage and its influential role in Philadelphia’s cultural landscape and the classical music world.

More than 70 volunteer ambassadors and an honorary committee of over 20 eminent artists are offering their support to celebrate the Curtis story during the “Appassionato” season. The honorary committee includes luminaries from the music world, many of them Curtis alumni, including Meredith Arwady (’04), Charles Dutoit, eighth blackbird, Richard Goode (’64), the Guarneri Quartet, Jennifer Higdon (’88), Leila Josefowicz (’97), Jennifer Koh (’02), Robert Levin, Midori, Eric Owens (’95), John Relyea (’96), Ned Rorem (’44), Wolfgang Sawallisch, and Robert Spano (’85).

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Announces New BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellow: Lee Mills

Lee Mills to conduct FREE BSO concert as part of Artscape festivities, July 16

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra announced today that Lee Mills, 24, a talented American conductor will be the third recipient of the BSO-Peabody Conducting Fellowship. This one-year program is designed to support the musical and leadership development of today’s young conductors. Beginning in September 2011, Mr. Mills will begin a one-year artist diploma program, receiving a full tuition scholarship to the Peabody Institute at the Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Mills will also receive personal instruction from BSO Music Director Marin Alsop, who actively shapes the program.

A native of Montana, “promising young conductor” (The Baltimore Sun) Lee Mills recently completed a graduate performance diploma from the Peabody Institute. During that time, he served as the assistant conductor of the Peabody Concert Orchestra, the Peabody Singers and the Peabody-Hopkins Chorus. A new music enthusiast, he has premiered several works by today’s rising composers, including Sketch for Orchestra by Fang Man in 2008 at the Cabrillo Festival, of which Marin Alsop is Music Director. Mr. Mills will have his first opportunity to conduct a public concert of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Orchestra’s annual free Artscape concert on Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 2 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sarah Mclachlan To Make Orchestral Debut With Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks

Multi-platinum recording artist and singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan debuts new orchestra show with Colorado Symphony, led by Scott O'Neil

GRAMMY® Award winner and multi-platinum recording artist Sarah McLachlan will make her symphony orchestra debut on Sunday, July 10, 2011 with the Colorado Symphony at the majestic Red Rocks Amphitheatre. McLachlan joins the Colorado Symphony, led by resident conductor Scott O'Neil, for a captivating night under the stars as she celebrates her orchestral debut and latest CD release, Laws of Illusion.

All-new orchestra charts are commissioned for this extraordinary concert showcasing McLachlan's artistry and beautiful vocals, seamlessly blended with the power and splendor of the 79-member Colorado Symphony. Many of McLachlan's most recognized songs are included in the set list, including the GRAMMY® Award-winning "Building a Mystery" and "I Will Remember You." Concertgoers can also look forward to McLachlan's performance showcasing new orchestra charts of unforgettable hits including "Good Enough," "Hold On" and "Ice Cream." And, McLachlan's fans will not be disappointed: Songs such as "Adia" and "Sweet Surrender," as well as "Forgiveness" and "Rivers of Love" from Laws of Illusion, are also included in the set list.

Soprano Nino Machaidze Releases Debut Album of Romantic Arias

Available June 28th

Sony Classical is proud to announce the release of the debut solo recording from young Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze on June 28, 2011. Romantic Arias includes Ms. Machaidze's personal selection of music she describes as “my world, my successes to date and my hopes for the future.”

Gounod's great lyric role of Juliette is among the highlights of the new recording. The part, in which Ms. Machaidze made her career-defining Salzburg debut in 2008, is represented by the two beautiful arias, “Ah! je veux vivre” and “Amour, ranime mon courage,” popularly known as the “Poison Aria.” Manon, a more recent addition to the singer's repertoire, is represented with the melancholy “Adieu, notre petite table.”

The recording also includes arias from two signature roles that have showcased Ms. Machaidze's outstanding talent for comedy: Marie from Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment, which she will perform at the New York Metropolitan Opera in the 2011/2 season, and Fiorilla in Rossini's Il Turco in Italia, in which role the Los Angeles Times recently described her as “a magnetic comedian.” Two rarer arias included are “O luce di quest'anima” from Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix and “Dopo l'oscuro nembo” from Bellini's opera Adelson e Salvini.

Ms. Machaidze's debut recording also features two of the most challenging bel canto roles in the whole of opera: Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor,” and Bellini's “La sonnambula,” whose great closing scene tests every facet of a singer's ability, from the gentle, lyrical lines in the opening aria to the dazzling vocal fireworks of the closing “Ah, non giunge.”

Baltimore Symphony’s Star-Spangled Spectacular Kicks-off Independence Day Celebrations, July 2-3

BSO to perform at Germantown Glory in Montgomery County on July 4

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra continues its tradition of performing the all-American holiday celebration Star-Spangled Spectacular with conductor Bob Bernhardt and featuring baritone Daniel Narducci on Saturday, July 2, 2011 and Sunday, July 3, 2011 at 8 p.m. at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Md. The patriotic program opens with the winners of this year’s “O, Say Can You Sing?” competition singing the National Anthem and also features other patriotic classics, such as Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes. The evening will culminate in a display of fireworks. For more than 20 years, the BSO at Oregon Ridge has been a Baltimore‐area summer tradition, drawing tens of thousands for family fun, music and fireworks in the wooded enclaves of Oregon Ridge Park. Patrons are invited to arrive early with lawn chairs, blankets and picnic dinners or purchase food and drink from onsite venders for a full evening of entertainment with the BSO.

New this year, the BSO will be the featured performer at Germantown Glory, Montgomery County’s free annual July 4th celebration at South Germantown Recreational Park. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. with children’s activities hosted by the BlackRock Center for the Arts. At 8 p.m., the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform a musical salute to America, made possible through the generous sponsorship of Hughes Network Systems and the Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union. Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:15 p.m.

The BSO announces three winners for its fourth annual “O, Say Can You Sing?” competition: Christian Hoff (July 2) from Towson, Md., Christian Stewart (July 3) from Waldorf, Md. and Rosanna Turchi (July 4) from Frederick, Md. These three exceptional young singers competed against more than 30 of the region’s best vocalists for the chance to sing the Star-Spangled Banner at the opening of the BSO’s Independence Day holiday programming.

Party "All Night Long" With Lionel Richie When He Performs On Cbs's "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular," Monday, July 4

Academy Award And Grammy® Award-Winning Superstar Lionel Richie To Perform On The "Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular," An Entertainment Special Hosted By Emmy Award Winner Michael Chiklis Andfeaturing The Boston Pops Led By Keith Lockhart, To Be Broadcast Live
Monday, July 4, On The Cbs Television Network

The BOSTON POPS FIREWORKS SPECTACULAR, now in its 38th year, is the orchestra's annual free outdoor Fourth of July concert and is sponsored by Liberty Mutual Group, one of America's leading insurers, offering auto, home and life insurance for individuals and families, as well as a variety of insurance products and services for businesses. The entire concert will be broadcast in HD (high definition), courtesy of Liberty Mutual Group. In addition, the final 20 minutes of the broadcast, featuring the spectacular fireworks display, will be presented commercial-free by Liberty Mutual Group.

An international superstar whose career has spanned more than 40 years, Lionel Richie is a music legend whose recorded legacy includes timeless classic hits and multi-platinum best-selling albums. His many career accomplishments include five GRAMMY® Awards, an Academy Award, 11 American Music Awards, five People's Choice Awards and a "World Music Lifetime Achievement Award," as well as a much-deserved Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The co-founder of The Commodores at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute in 1967, Richie experienced his first taste of success after the group signed to Motown Records in 1971, becoming one of the most popular U.S. funk bands with "Machine Gun" and "Brick House," before creating a slew of future slow jam Richie-penned classics with "Easy," "Three Times a Lady" and "Sail On." Richie began working outside the Commodores in 1980, after Kenny Rogers' hit version of "Lady" led to him producing the singer's 1981 album, Share Your Love. The list of accolades goes on....

Amazing Performance, Amazing Composition: Cellist Maya Beiser & Steve Reich's Cello Counterpoint

In March, cellist Maya Beiser had the privilege of appearing at the prestigious TED conference in Long Beach, California, which brings leading artists and thinkers together to exchange "ideas worth spreading." Other presenters included Bill Gates, Bobby McFerrin, Julie Taymor, Morgan Spurlock, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and Roger Ebert. Maya's presentation consisted of two pieces for multi-tracked cello and video: Steve Reich's Cello Counterpoint with video by Bill Morrison and David Lang's World to Come with video by Irit Batsry, with remarks by Maya in between the works.

Her performance was captured in a stunning three-camera video produced by TED, which was streamed live to conference attendees around the world. It's by far the handsomest and most sophisticated video document of Maya in concert to date. I hope you'll take a few moments to watch, and post it to your site or feed. FYI, the above image and others from her performance are available on request.
On the horizon for Maya: a Nov. 11 performance in LA at UCLA's Royce Hall, sharing the bill with percussionist extraordinaire Evelyn Glennie. After playing individual sets, they will jointly perform a short, as-yet-untitled work written for the occasion by David Lang. Meanwhile, Maya is working on developing Elsewhere, a new project described as "a CELLoOpera." Elsewhere is an imaginative retelling of the Biblical legend of Lot's wife, created by the "dream team" of Maya, director Robert Woodruff, composers Missy Mazzoli and Eve Beglarian, writer Erin Cressida Wilson, and choreographer Karole Armitage.

Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival Free Recital Sunday! Wine, Appetizers and Beethoven Monday, Tuesday

Artistic Director Anne-Marie McDermott performs a free recital to open the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail, Colorado, Sunday, June 26th. This complimentary concert is presented free of charge as a gift from Anne-Marie to the community. The recital program includes works by Bach, Gottschalk, Chopin, Schumann and Grunfeld.

Then on the 27th & 28th discover Beethoven's brilliance with two exclusive pre-concert receptions with presentations by composer, author and puzzle-master Bruce Adolphe. Enjoy cocktails and passed appetizers from Vail Catering Concepts accompanied by a discussion with renowned composer Bruce Adolphe. Each evening includes a half hour presentation about Beethoven and his work followed by performances of Beethoven's Trios for Violin, Cello and Piano: Parts I and II.


June 27 & 28

5:00 p.m. - Reception, Wine and Passed Appetizers

5:30 p.m. - Lecture

6:30 p.m. - Concert

Monday, June 27



Adolphe will speak on The Notes and Bolts of Beethoven's Musical Architecture. Explore the nitty-gritty of Beethoven's approach to composition. How does the "architect of humanity" design a sonata form for a piano trio? Bring your Hammer (klavier) and take a lesson in classical composition in the style of Beethoven. This will also be featuring some piano puzzlers.

Tuesday, June 28



The Beethoven festival continues with Adolphe speaking on Beethoven the Improviser. At social gatherings of the aristocracy, Beethoven was often called upon to improvise at the piano - whether he wanted to or not. What can we know about his improvisations? Can we hear the mind of the spontaneous keyboard improviser in the music of this most self-critical composer?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Getting Heard: What it means in a modern digital world

or a composers quest to be performed

Recently, I've been writing a series of posts entitled "What kind of Classical Music Should I Write?" Part of the reason for this series is to better understand the quest to be heard. Putting black dots on a piece of paper isn't music unless those dots get transformed into something audible.

In this digital world, where anyone can post a YouTube video, or put their music up on a music sharing website it's easier than ever to get music into the hands (or ears) of listeners. Classical Music is seeing a boom in online sales by virtue of the virtual world.  There are few composers I know that don't have some sort of musical presence on the internet - and justifiably this is just one way for them to market themselves. My own website, chipmichael.com, has gotten me more than one performance by allowing a way to get samples and pdf scores into the hands of potential performers as part of the consideration process. But before any of that can happen, the music has to first be performed.

Libby Larsen and Stephen Paulus founded the Minnesota Composer's Forum, which has become American Composers Forum. Bang on a Can, which recently had a hugely successful Marathon in New York, was formed by composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. Their idea was simple - instead of sorting music by style or genre or venue it would be more powerful to sort music by innovation, finding the rebels in each musical community, the restless creators not content to leave conventions unchallenged. Putting all these fresh voices next to each other on one gargantuan concert would let an audience feel the excitement of innovation itself. The real key was composers who didn't wait for commissions to come, but rather created their own avenue for success.

Other composers are composer/performers, performing their own works or getting together with friends to collaborate. Certainly this has been a major element in jazz composition --musicians getting together to jam resulting in something worthy of recording. Electro-acoustic composers have the advantage they need no one but a microphone and their computers (or tape decks) to generate their unique sound. A number of urban artists are using software tools to create their beat tracks complete with effects.

What can orchestral composers do? Midi realizations are a glimpse at what a full orchestra might sound like but pale in comparison to the real thing. So, ultimately we need to get our music into the hands of an orchestra. To do that we need the people who make the decisions, music directors, conductors and the like, to see (and hear) what we've written.

Related to what I said in part 2 of the "What sort of Classical Music Should I Write?" music directors and conductors are busy people. Marin Alsop herself has commented she's likely to only give a new score 2 mins worth her time. "If you haven't captured my attention in 2 minutes, I'm not likely to continue to listen." In our sound-byte world, orchestral composers are faced with making a GREAT first impression --a two minute segment that can excite our listeners on first hearing. We don't have the luxury of extended development of an idea or theme, or even if that occurs in the music, some part of the music needs to be immediate and visceral.

In the book publishing world, there is a standard format for approaching an agent or a publisher with a new book idea --the query letter. Beyond this, there are books that list the various addresses with details as to what the agents or publishers are specifically looking for. So, if you've written a theory text book, you don't waste your time sending a query letter to a young adult publishing house. There is nothing like this for the music world.

Continuing to use Marin as the example -- If you want to send something to Marin Alsop for consideration, you have to do a lot of homework to find who her agent is, and how they want to receive your material. And then, you have no idea what (if anything) she's looking for specifically. Maybe she's into "new music" - her Cabrillo Festival has received numerous ASCAP Adventurous Programming Awards- but maybe she's looking for a specific something right now. There is no direct way to find out.  It's possible to find the information out (I've done it), but it can be very time consuming and with no guarantee of success.

So, composers have to do their homework (which has nothing to do with composing music), find a variety of conductors and/or musical directors that will review their work, print the score (which isn't cheap), produce a midi realization (of the best 2 mins), put it in the mail (again, not cheap) and pray --pray it lands on their desk at a time when they're looking for something and in a good mood. In the end, the likelihood the composer's score will get anything other than stuffed in a pile is pretty rare. Certainly feedback won't be forthcoming, not unless the recipient is actually considering the work.

If we don't get feedback, do we continue to submit scores? Did they even get the score in the first place? Did they like what they heard, but already have completed their program for the year, or was it not quite what they were looking for?

Other important questions: What format do they want, full score or just the 2 min section? Do they accept pdf's so they can review the score on their laptop (while traveling) or do they prefer printed scores? Are they even looking?

Right now, getting performed is all a matter of who you know. Marin Alsop likes Kevin Puts. Kevin is a good composer. As such one of his scores is more likely to get considered than someone she doesn't know. Daniel Barenboim knows Elliott Carter (another good composer), so Elliott gets commissions where as an unknown composer doesn't. Jeffery Kahane likes working with Kenji Bunch.  Kenji wrote a piano concerto that recently premiered under the baton of Jeffery Kahane, but was it exceptional? (Not in my personal opinion --more like a theme and variations on the Love Boat theme).  I'm not suggesting Kevin, Elliott or Kenji isn't worthy of consideration. I am suggesting their are other composers out there (myself included) who also write music worth consideration (and commission... hint, hint). Nor am I suggesting people ignore their friends. We just need to find some way to get the right material into the hands of the people interested in it --at the right time.

YouTube is a great way for an unknown artist to become known --but there is a lot of luck involved. I'd like to find a way to help reduce the amount of luck one needs to get their music considered.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Radical New Social Music Service Gives the Listener Complete Control

Radical.FM, Inc. (http://www.radical.fm) announced today the invitation-only private beta launch of Radical.FM, it’s new, personal internet radio service. Building and expanding on experience gained from Tomsradio.com, an early 21st century Swedish/American pioneer of internet radio, Radical combines user tailored music radio stations (like Pandora™ and Slacker™) with on-demand playlist functionality (like Rhapsody™ and Spotify™), and adds social networking and personal broadcasting capabilities. For the first time all of these functions will be available in one integrated service. Radical.FM will initially offer free personal radio services, with full Play-On-Demand functionality for a paid Premium subscription tier available at a later date. In addition, the patent pending LiveShare™ feature permits personal music streams to be shared in real-time and DeeJay™ allows a user to speak to all who are listening to their LiveShare stream. Bona fide music and technology journalists & bloggers as well as music industry professionals who have not yet received Radical’s private beta invitations, should contact 'Maria(at)radical.fm'. A public beta launch for the United States will follow soon, with international expansion planned for later this year. For the public beta sign up, go to Radical.FM.

In addition, Radical Indie™, a similar service for independent artists (not signed to the Big Four), is expected to launch later this year.

Radical harnesses the Cloud to make all the world’s licensed music available to anyone, anywhere. Its new Player improves on personalized radio stations like Pandora, adds on-demand playlists like Rhapsody and Spotify, incorporates advanced social media functionality, and offers personal broadcasting abilities to usurp terrestrial radio on its own terms. Radical’s Player is currently web browser based only, development for mobile devices is underway.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What Sort of Classical Music Should I Write? - Part 2.1

There's a wonderful article in the LA Times by Chloe Veltman, Eric Whitacre soars beyond world of choral music. Chloe quickly talks about the "popularist" stance of Eric Whitacre with a focus on ear pleasing sounds, although he definitely has a style all his own.

This article brings to mind my concept of accessibility in music. Whitacre's music has melody and often recognizable chords, but doesn't always move in traditional ways. There is something about the various lines that feel familiar and yet seem new and fresh.

Accessibility doesn't mean popularist. It means audiences can understand the music, grasp a sense as to what the music is attempting to do, even though a deeper sense of the music may take years to really understand. Britten's Cello Symphony is one such piece, beautifully written and on first hearing able to grasp elements of the structure and flow of the music. But only through analysis can the heart of the music be understood. Beethoven's Große Fuge is the same and then some. First hearing can be a bit daunting, but still there is something to appreciate. But only after serious analysis and performance can the depth in the music be appreciated --and I'm not sure anyone still really understands the full complexity of this piece.

Film Composers John Williams and James Newton Howard are often criticized for their neo-romantic styles and yet, they are some of the most widely performed living composers. Phillip Glass and John Adams are not film composers, but their minimalist style is all about accessibility (at least initially). But if you've ever listened to Adam's City Noir you know his music is not at all simple (or trite).

Even the most recent Bang on a Can Marathon was comprised mostly of accessible music and SURPRISE widely popular from all segments of the classical music world and beyond. I've listened to a number of the pieces available on the net and again, there is a sense of accessibility, something listeners can grasp on first hearing.

side note: Maybe I need to move to NY and get involved with this collection of composers!!!

I'd also like to thank twitter friends @janetbxyz @CraigMarksMusic @JACKQuartet @anastasiat @marcgeelhoed @Mariatchy for their continued dialog on this topic!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Welcome Dr Nick Vasallo to Interchanging Idioms

Dr Nick Vasallo has joined interchanging idioms! (loud applause)

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Nick Vasallo began music in high school where he picked up the electric guitar and eventually formed Antagony, an influential extreme metal band in the underground. At the ripe age of 23, Vasallo decided to begin formal music training at Cal State East Bay where he obtained his Bachelor degree in 2007. As a Chancellor's Fellow at University of California Santa Cruz, Vasallo completed his Masters in 2009 and subsequently went on to finish his Doctorate in 2011 as a President's Fellow.

His music reveals an eclectic array of influences: Metal, Ambient, Taiko, Gamelan, Noise and has been internationally performed by world renowned groups such as Contemporary Music Ensemble Korea, Del Sol String Quartet, San Francisco Choral Artists, Atlanta Schola Cantorum, and Watsonville Taiko just to name a few.

In 2010, Vasallo was the recipient of the President's Dissertation-Year Fellowship Award - the first arts student to ever receive that honor. Other honors and awards include: 2011 MACRO Composition award, 2009 San Francisco Choral Artists New Voices Award, The Seattle Pianist Collective 2008 selection, 2008 UCSC Student Orchestral Composition winner, 60x60 project - Pacific Rim Mix 2008-2009 selection, The 2008 David Cope Award for Music Composition Excellence, 2005 New Jersey International Film Festival Selection "Sinful" musical score, and 2007 CSUEB Student Composers Competition winner.

Milton Babbitt: an elegy gone awry pt. 1

New Music Lover #1: Milton Babbitt, a giant in American classical music passed away today. 1916-2011 - RIP.

New Music Lover #2: To describe Babbitt, a lovely man indeed, who was very tiny, as a "giant" made me smile. He was not a giant in any way, but a charming, provocative, and puckish elf of a man who was very kind to his students and more open-minded than most people assumed. NMM#1, "giants" are all too often pompous bores, but Babbitt was never a bore and never pompous.

New Music Lover #1: By "giant" I meant dominant figure...is that more representative?

New Music Lover #2: Well, he was never that either, NMM#1, outside of New York and Princeton -- he had virtually no influence on the West Coast avant-garde, and the Europeans scarcely knew who he was. He had a decided influence as a theorist, and wrote that one essay, "Who Cares if You Listen," but he can't be compared to Elliott Carter, for example, whose influence has been much more pervasive and profound. Literally none of Babbitt's music is in the standard repertory, and it is very little played even in New York. He was a lovely, generous, smart man, however--but Aaron Copland was a giant. Carter is a giant. Babbitt was an influential figure who composed one masterpiece, Philomela.

New Music Lover #1: Good points NMM#2, but I still think that he was a very influential and dominant force in American music. His roster of students became prominent forces in their own right: Davidovsky, Sondheim, and Lerdhal just to name a few. While I agree that Carter has been more influential as a composer, Babbitt's life work (teacher, writer, and composer) will also influence generations of scholars, performers and, of course, composers. If Carter is the "giant" in American classical, I would place Babbitt close to him as well.

New Music Lover #2: NMM#1, when Roger Sessions died, there was similar rhetoric about his being a "great" composer and dominant figure. Now Sessions is played rarely if at all, recorded not at all, and thought about even less, even by most of his former students (with the exception of a very few loyal ones such as Leon Botstein, the conductor and President of Bard College). I must say, however, that Babbitt was a far more ingratiating person than Sessions, and that Babbitt taught Davidovsky and, especially, Sondheim are very good points. Lerdhal is an influential theorist, of course. I would argue that Babbitt's most important role in American music was as a negative example -- how he rued to the day that he was led to publish "Who Cares if You Listen"! (The essay was chopped up by the editor and the title is not Babbitt's original, which was far less sensationalistic.) This essay has been argued against so much that I don't know what the detractors of it, and serialism, will do now that Babbitt is dead. Poor man! He had a first-rate mind and a good heart, but he will always be known as Mr. Serialism USA, which will hardly win him many new listeners, posthumously speaking, for that style is as dead as a dodo. Another problem is the nature of music based on technology that rapidly goes out of date. His painstakingly created tapes for Philomela, for example (a very haunting score that was jaw-dropping when I first heard it in the 70s), now is as much of its period as the electronically generated sounds in the Maxwell House Coffee commercials of my childhood -- it creates nostalgia--actually nostalgic charm--rather than awe as it did over thirty years ago. This was scarcely Babbitt's fault, however. But the idea of "progress" in music is also as dead as the dodo, so I do wonder how his music will be placed in the grand continuum of Western music history.

New Music Lover #1: I can see that happening to his (and more than armload) of other 20th century electronic pieces. Sad, but those pieces existed for a microcosm of listeners anyway. What is important is that Babbitt is in western music's lineage as an important figure, mainly as a theorist and serialist. His name will be forever associated with serial music, however derogatory the term may sound now or 100 years from now. Sessions is a good example of what may become of many great composer/teachers, his roster of noteworthy students is top notch. We only see Sessions music in 20th century theory books, I think this has more to do with his contemporaries (overshadowing his music). In the end, how do we know what will remain or enter into the canon? Carter is a tough listen for the average listener, Babbitt is no different. Is it a safe bet that Adams will remain the canon because the level of concentrated listening is markedly less?

(to be continued)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Applause to Magdalena Kozená and her performance at the Aldeburgh Festival on June 10

Sir Simon Rattle came out on stage to announce to the audience at the 64th Aldeburgh Festivalhis wife, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozená will ill. She still intended to sing, but should her voice give out an alternate was driving down from North England, over 250 miles away --just in case.

Kozená was able to finish Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. While there was an evident struggle in her voice, but the performance was still amazing, creating a night the people of Birmingham will not soon forget.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What Sort of Classical Music Should I Write? - Part 2

Should be it be Innovative (or avant-garde) or Accessible

a follow up for What Sort of Classical Music Should I Write?

An on going series of posts into what sort of composition is "good" classical music

As I mentioned in the previous post, there are numerous styles of Classical music, and camps of people who favor one over another. In this week's post I want to talk about innovative music vs accessible music, or music that pushes the bounds of what music is as opposed to music "joe blow" on the street might be willing to listen to - more than once.

There are plenty of quotes from major composers of the 20th century who take the camp of "I don't care what the audience thinks" or "It's better if they don't like my music at first. It means I'm really doing something new." (both paraphrased, but you get the idea.) The attitude of these avant-garde composers implies the audience has no real value to them. Music is the higher goal. Milton Babbitt said, "I dare suggest that the composer would do himself and his music an immediate and eventual service by total, resolute and voluntary withdrawal from this public world to one of private performance and electronic media," suggesting that a composer is better served by not responding to the public, but rather withdrawing into his own world of music.

It is this lack concern for the audience that always surprises me. Art, by its very nature, is to be experienced. Music is an auditory experience, meaning it has no purpose without an audience to experience it. If composers write music that has no concern or interest in the audience and their auditory experience, then IMHO, it isn't music. It doesn't fit the primary function of music.

That said, it is possible to create music in a cave or as a hermit and then present it to the world; but eventually it takes an audience to realize the potential of a composition as music. If, the audience doesn't respond to it, or rather chooses to never want that experience again, the composer may have created a moment of music, but failed at creating lasting art.  Besides, living in a cave how is one suppose to understand the current of modern thoughts and ideas, which music should reflect?

Arnold Schoenberg said, "Great art presupposes the alert mind of the educated listener." To me this suggests that great art(music) is only great art(music) if and when the listener is educated as to what they should be listening to. Hmmmm, again, that seems to miss the point. Children who are exposed to Bach or Mozart for the first time can still experience a sense of wonder about the music. In Bruno Nettl's book "The Study of Ethnomusicology: thirty-one issues and concepts" he discusses the effect of aboriginal children on hearing Mozart for the first time, their wonder and appreciation for music that is in no way similar to what they grew up hearing. Does this mean Mozart's music isn't great art to them because they are uneducated as to what they should be hearing? Of course not!

On the flip side, Anton Webern wrote while writing his "Six Bagatelles for String Quartet" Op. 9 (1913), "While working on them I had the feeling that once the twelve tones had run out, the piece was finished." This work has been studied and discussed in numerous books, dissertations and papers. So, we can therefore assume (based on Schoenberg's quote), it must be great art because so many educated people have studied it. Nearly 100 years later, these pieces aren't performed anywhere close to the same amount as either Beethoven's string quartets (100 years prior to Webern's) or Shostakovich's string quartet's (written after Webern's). Why? Because the general audience (no matter the state of their education) still has no connection to the music. After 100 years of the educational community trying to gain an audience for Webern's "Six Bagatelles" that audience still doesn't exist. Therefore I suggest, Webern's "Six Bagatelles" might be interesting intellectually, like a puzzle, but they are not great art. Music needs something more than just intellectual stimulation for musicologists and theorists to ponder over.

I'm not suggesting that Webern wasn't a great composer, or we should stop studying him. His Passacaglia for orchestra Op. 1 (1908) is a beautiful piece. The Second Viennese School and the 12-tone technique are hugely influential in later 20th century music. All of these are extremely important to study. But to say the pieces that are intellectually stimulating are great art is simply false --one does not equate to the other.

Another quote from Babbitt, "As for the future of electronic music, it seems quite obvious to me that its unique resources guarantee its use, because it has shifted the boundaries of music away from the limitations of the acoustical instrument, of the performer's coordinating capabilities, to the almost infinite limitations of the electronic instrument." Ok, I understand that creating music that is beyond the limitations of the performer has certain appeal. I certainly spoke about wanting to write acoustic music that pushes the bounds of what performers can do last week. But, just writing music that can't be performed by live musicians doesn't make it great art.

If you go out to YouTube, you can find thousands of budding artists creating music with their home computers. The whole point of House Music is to take pre-recorded sounds and mash them together to create something new. Predecessors to this like Luc Ferrari and Steven Reich used reel to reel tape machines to create a new sonic world. The work they did in their early careers paved the way for a host of electronic gadgets which digitally create reverb, chorus, delay or other effects. These are common tools for artists like Imogen Heap whose albums are heavily effected to create a whole new sonic world that is still very much music, albeit in the pop genre.

Ferrari's Hétérozygote (1963-4) borders on the realm between music and sound design, which is to say, the listener is taken on a journey of recognizable and unrecognizable sounds, but no clear form or structure is apparent  if a sense of narrative is present, it doesn't come across in either a rhythmic or melodic way.  His "Plaisir-desir" is on the same album (2001) as his "Far West News, Episode No. 1." The first, "Plaisir-desir," is very musical and performed by Orchestre National De France; the second falls into the realm of sound design. The difference is one has rhythmic pulse and a sense of movement which seems to propel the "sound" forward. The sound design pieces are interesting auditory experiences, but take the listener on a different type of journey, speaking to the listener through recognizable and unrecognizable sounds to create a sense of place or images. Music (IMHO) can have sound design, but doesn't necessarily expect the listener to recognize the sounds as that specific sound, rather as an impression of the sound, an illusion or analogy.

Steven Reich recently won the Pulitzer Prize in Music for his "Double Sextet" --which is BTW an acoustic piece. However Reich's Come Out (1966) is an interesting exploration of sound and tape delay. Again, like some of Ferrari's pieces, I don't consider Come Out necessarily music, and yet, part way into the piece it's hard to describe exactly what it is. Interesting yes ... music .... ???

The difference between sound design and music is nebulous at best. Certainly pieces like Beethoven's 6th Symphony have elements of sound design (the peal of thunder in a distant storm), and elements of sound design can be musical. What I disagree with is labeling all sonic experiences as music. In a pair of previous articles, Film and Music Acousmatique & Tonal Music and Atonal Music - what are they really? I discuss how sound-scapes (or sound design) has become a field of its own in the film industry, worthy of its own awards and artistic merit. In my opinion, to combine music with sound-design is to lessen both categories. The reason the Grammy's have so many different categories for awards is because what it takes to create a great Classical Ensemble Recording is vastly different that making a great Rhythm & Blues CD. In this case, both are music, but can't (and shouldn't) be compared with the same criteria. I believe the same is true of sound-design and classical music.

Ok, I've ranted enough about what is or is not music... but what sort of Classical Music should I write? I don't believe I should live (or compose) in a cave. The music I write should be understandable to those who get the chance to listen to it. Jennifer Higdon comments that few composers today get the luxury of having their pieces heard by an audience more than once. Just getting a piece performed in today's classical music world is difficult at best if you're not one of the few elite composers out there. So, if the audience is only going to hear your music once (as opposed to the hundreds of times they will listen to their favorite pieces on iTunes), it has to be something the audience will want to hear again.

Ensembles are struggling to find enough audience to make a living. If they program a piece and the audience doesn't like it, it's likely to have an adverse effect on their ticket sales - particularly if they try and program that same composer again. I feel very fortunate the Boulder Symphony asked for yet another work of mine for their 2011-12 season. They performed two of my works last year and could easily have said, "thanks, but we'll go with somebody else this year." They certainly have plenty of composers to choose from. The fact they came back to me says they not only liked playing the music, but their audience gave positive feedback --want to hear me again.

This is what I am striving to achieve --music that is both fun (and challenging) to play, but has audience appeal. One of my most popular pieces is the 3rd movement from my Symphony No. 1, "You Can't Catch Rabbits With Drums." It is highly rhythmic and while it has melodic elements, it is almost 3 minutes into the piece before you really get a sense of melody beyond just snatches. In another work (yet to be performed) Chasing Dark Dwarf Galaxies I definitely had a sense of sound-design in mind when creating the piece and yet a melody is quickly present. There is no specific narrative to Dark Dwarf but there is a sense of what the theme might sound like.  Oddly enough, "Rabbits" is written in a very classical tonal style, whereas Dark Dwarf was done using pitch class sets in a more modern "atonal" approach --although atonal doesn't really fit. Insecta, like Dark Dwarf doesn't have a specific narrative, but did have a sense of sound-design in the composition process. The key for me, in these pieces, as with anything I write, is to make it accessible for an audience on first hearing while giving enough depth of compositional structure and voice to reward multiple listenings.

I would like to create great art.  I believe in order to do so, it must be something listeners respond to and desire to hear again.

Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival Opens on June 26 with a Free Solo Recital by Newly Appointed Artistic Director Pianist Anne-Marie McDermott

On Sunday, June 26, the Vail Valley Music Festival opens with a free solo recital played by the festival’s newly appointed Artistic Director, the beloved pianist Anne-Marie McDermott. For six weeks from June 26 to August 3, three world-class orchestras – the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Dallas Symphony Orchestra – will set up residence in the magnificent Colorado Rocky Mountains. Programming highlights for 2011 include explorations of the musical titans Beethoven and Mahler; two thematic series respectively showcasing American music and programmatic orchestral works; chamber music, jazz, and pops; and New York’s Gabriel Kahane as this season’s composer-in-residence. The impressive guest-star roster presents such conductors as Alan Gilbert, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Stéphane Denève, Jaap van Zweden, and Bramwell Tovey, and more than 50 soloists, including pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yuja Wang, and Kirill Gerstein; violinists Gil Shaham, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and Augustin Hadelich; and double-bassist Edgar Meyer. As in previous seasons, chamber concerts will be held in the intimate Vail Mountain School and Vilar Performing Arts Center, while large-scale concerts take place in Vail’s spectacular Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater, which accommodates 1,260 guests in covered seating and an additional 1,500 on the expansive grassy hillside, with its breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains. Kyle MacMillan of the Denver Post observes: “The Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival gives classical-music fans something that no summer series anywhere else can match—the chance to hear multiple concerts by three top-drawer orchestras.”

Anne-Marie McDermott, a regular performer at the festival, is just the third artistic director in Bravo! Vail’s 24-year history. The duo partner of Salerno-Sonnenberg and a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, McDermott has been called “one of the great pianists of her generation” (Philadelphia Inquirer). She succeeds flutist Eugenia Zukerman, who explains: “Having often performed with Anne-Marie, I know that her musical insights and creative ideas will be great assets to Bravo!” The festival’s founder and executive director, John Giovando, confirms that this has already proved to be the case, observing: “What a season she has designed for summer 2011: exciting, innovative, fun, and all to be performed by world-class artists!” McDermott’s season-opening solo recital (June 26) is the first of her ten festival appearances, which comprise both orchestral and chamber concerts, and the “Two-Piano Extravaganza” with which the summer concludes (August 3).

Mozart Under Moonlight With The Colorado Symphony

Sparkling, luminescent Mozart masterworks create enchanted evening with Colorado Symphony at the Arvada Center

The Colorado Symphony presents Mozart Under Moonlight at the Arvada Center for one-night-only on Thursday, July 7, 2011. Resident conductor Scott O'Neil leads the orchestra, joined by oboist Peter Cooper, in delightful program including the Oboe Concerto in C Major, Overture to Don Giovanni, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, and Symphony No. 29 in A Major. Tickets are on sale now.

The great Austrian conductor Karl Bohm is attributed with saying that Mozart's music "has the effect of a fountain of youth." While the accuracy of this quote is uncertain, there can be no doubt that it perfectly captures the feelings that Mozart's music inspires in all listeners. The works featured in Mozart Under Moonlight embody this sentiment and without a doubt, will inspire concertgoers to dance in their hearts and minds throughout the evening.

The Oboe Concerto is among the lesser known of Mozart's works, in part because it was lost for more than 170 years. Its serene yet cheerful ambiance highlights the soloist's "operatic" role in the singing quality of the instrument. Since its rediscovery in 1920 in the archives of the Salzburg Mozarteum, the Oboe Concerto has increasingly gained in popularity, affection and esteem.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Colorado Symphony will perform at 7:30 p.m.

Outdoor Amphitheater Gates open at 6:00 p.m.

Franz Welser-Möst To Receive Bruckner Medal Of Honor

At a recent meeting, the Board of Directors of the Bruckner Society of America chose Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra and the General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera, to receive the Julio Kilenyi Medal of Honor.

The Kilenyi Medal of Honor was created by Julio Kilenyi (1885-1959) especially for the Bruckner Society of America. The first medals were given out in 1933 to Arturo Toscanini, Serge Koussevitsky, and Bruno Walter. Ever since those first awards were presented, the Society has continued to present them to conductors, scholars, and musicologists who have helped to further the understanding and appreciation of Anton Bruckner’s life and work.

It is for Franz Welser-Möst’s understanding, advocacy, and dedication to Bruckner’s music that the Board of Directors has chosen to present this special recognition to Franz Welser-Möst during his upcoming series of performances with The Cleveland Orchestra at the Lincoln Center Festival. The award will be presented on July 13th at Avery Fisher Hall immediately following a rehearsal on stage.

Franz Welser-Möst was singled out for recognition due to his long-standing advocacy for the music of Bruckner. In 1996, Franz Welser-Möst began conducting Bruckner symphonies with The Cleveland Orchestra and has released video recordings of Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 5, 7, 8, and 9 with the Orchestra in three historic venues: the Abbey of St. Florian in Linz , the Musikverein in Vienna , and at Severance Hall in Cleveland . During the 2010-11 season, Mr. Welser-Möst led the Vienna Philharmonic in Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9 at Suntory Hall in Japan . From August of 2010 through July of 2011, Mr. Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra will have performed a total of 17 Bruckner symphony performances in Ohio , Scotland , Switzerland , and Japan , as well as in New York City at the Lincoln Center Festival. The Cleveland Orchestra debuts at the festival in a series of performances of Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 5, 7, 8, and 9, which will be presented in a single week of concerts from July 13-17, 2011.

Glad Tidings From Glyndebourne: Critics Praise Stephen Costello’s Debut

Philadelphia-born tenor Stephen Costello made his Glyndebourne Festival debut on June 9 as Nemorino, the love-crazed country bumpkin in Donizetti’s brilliant bel canto comedy L’elisir d’amore. Critics have widely praised the “glowing revival” (Guardian), both for its “appealing staging” (The Stage) and “as fine a cast as you could wish for” (The Arts Desk), with one critic from The Express calling Costello’s Nemorino the “truly outstanding” performance of the evening and “a revelation.” Audiences will have the chance to hear Costello and his colleagues sing 14 more performances of Glyndebourne’s hit (June 17 – August 4). Opera-lovers lucky enough to be in Vienna this fall will hear Costello reprise the role when he returns to the Vienna State Opera for his second consecutive season.

The Arts Desk praised the singing of all of Glyndebourne’s principals but gave Costello’s Nemorino its highest marks: “The central quartet etched out their relations and respective psychologies economically and swiftly. Stephen Costello (whose Royal Opera House debut impressed our Edward Seckerson last year) was a revelation as the lovestruck electrician Nemorino, thumbs hooked into his dungarees, his tousled head digging into his chest. His many attempts to get into Adina’s knickers (first by actually trying to get into her knickers, then by trying not to) elicited tip-top deliveries, sweetly phrased and powerfully sung.”

The Stage noted, “Tall, good-looking and youthful, Costello charms in the role, acting with considerable skill and wit, his focused tenor making a graceful highlight out of ‘Una furtiva lagrima,’ his famous showpiece aria.” The Express lauded Costello’s “nicely judged comic performance,” adding that “his singing proved to be the real revelation of the night. The way his beautiful tenor voice rang out through the Glyndebourne auditorium should earn him a place in any list of the world’s great tenors.”

Friday, June 17, 2011

LLŶR Williams Living Music and Breathing Beethoven

“… Williams is a consummate Beethovenian…For all the verbiage about the trace elements of Mozart and Haydn, every note, every phrase, and every turn of mood are authentic Beethoven.”
The Herald/Michael Tumelty

Authenticity, acute sensitivity and intellectual rigour are qualities that Welsh pianist Llŷr Williams brings to all his work as soloist, accompanist and chamber musician. Fast becoming one of the great Beethovenians of his generation, he embarks this August on an epic two-week season at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh (12-26 August) where he will play the complete cycle of
Beethoven’s piano sonatas in daily concerts, beginning with the Pathétique and ending with the Hammerklavier. This marathon follows his rather more leisurely, and highly acclaimed, performance of the same cycle during 2010 in Scottish and Welsh concert halls; after the last three Sonatas in Cardiff The Guardian wrote: ‘his commanding technique, cool grasp of the vast intellectual span of the music and sense of wisdom beyond his years make for a stunning combination’.

Recordings of the Perth Concert Hall performances in 2010 are being produced by Signum Classics as a double CD of selected Beethoven Sonatas and will be available in Edinburgh
for the concerts and released commercially in 2012.