Wednesday, August 31, 2011

St Louis Symphony Substitution for Sept. 30 Concert

The St. Louis Symphony announced today a change to the September 30, 2011 concert at Powell Hall. Schoenberg’s Five Pieces for Orchestra will now be performed in lieu of Edgar Meyer’s Double Bass Concerto No. 3. The concerto was to have had its world premiere at Powell Hall, but it has not yet been completed.

The September 30 program also includes works by Ives, Copland and Gershwin’s An American in Paris.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased on line at www.stlsymphony.org, by phone at 314-534-1700 or in person at Powell Hall’s box office, 718 North Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63103.

Alan Gilbert and NY Philharmonic Present A Concert for New York: a Free Performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” Saturday, September 10 to Commemorate Tenth Anniversary of 9/11

On Saturday, September 10 at 7:30 PM, Alan Gilbert will conduct the New York Philharmonic in A Concert for New York: a free performance at Avery Fisher Hall of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection,” given in a spirit of remembrance and renewal to commemorate the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The concert (featuring soprano Dorothea Röschmann, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, and the New York Choral Artists) will be broadcast live on Classical WQXR 105.9 FM, and rebroadcast on Sunday, September 11 at 8:00 PM on WYNC 93.9 FM. It will also be telecast in the U.S. on PBS's Great Performances at 9:00 PM on September 11 (check local listings) and internationally as well: in Germany and France on ARTE at 6:15 PM CET; and on major television channels in Brazil, Asia, and other European countries such as Austria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Switzerland. The concert will also be webcast on nyphil.org at 9:00 PM, EDT, on September 11.

Tickets for this special performance are first-come, first-serve, and will be distributed (one pair per person) beginning at 4:00 pm on the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center on Saturday, September 10, the day of the concert. There will be additional seating on the Plaza for the live projection of the concert. The Philharmonic is offering priority ticket access to the families of 9/11 victims, first responders and survivors; members of this community may request a pair of tickets in advance by e-mailing concertfornewyork@nyphil.org by September 1, 2011. Additional information is available at the New York Philharmonic website.

A Concert for New York will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in October 2011 by ACCENTUS Music. The recording will be distributed in the U.S. by Naxos of America. A Concert for New York is being produced by the New York Philharmonic and ACCENTUS Music in co-production with ZDF/ARTE and Thirteen/WNET.

A Concert of Commemoration, Honoring the 10th Anniversary of 9/11

OVER 600 MUSICIANS ON STAGE FOR PERFORMANCES OF Karl Jenkins: A Mass for Peace and For the Fallen* US Premiere René Clausen: Memorial

Sunday, September 11th at 2pm Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center

Karl Jenkins, the world’s most popular living composer, brings iconic music of war and peace to Avery Fisher Hall on September 11th this year, in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks. England’s renowned Really Big Chorus with conductor/composer René Clausen and the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra International and Distinguished Concerts Singers International will perform. This performance is presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY), whose mission is to showcase heart-stopping, innovative choral music at prestigious venues around the world.

The program includes two works by Jenkins: The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace and For the Fallen: In Memoriam Alfryn Jenkins, in its US premiere. Commissioned jointly by The Royal Armouries and Classic FM, The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace was initially inspired by the Kosovan conflict, but the clear message of hope resounds even stronger years later on this anniversary of 9/11. The piece reflects on war and peace in the global world, incorporating songs and sacred texts of a traditional Western mass along with text, instrumentation and inspiration from Muslim, Hindu and Japanese sources.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Deutsche Grammophon to Release Anna Netrebko: Live at the Metropolitan Opera on September 20

“Netrebko...is not just a Met star, but the Met star.” – New York Observer

The coming season marks the tenth anniversary of Anna Netrebko’s debut with the Metropolitan Opera, host to many of her greatest triumphs during the past decade. To celebrate this milestone, Deutsche Grammophon will release the soprano’s first live solo album, bringing together her most memorable Met moments – performances never before issued on record, most of them previously unavailable in any format – available September 20, 2011

The album, consisting of eleven tracks from nine operatic roles, includes performances with some of Netrebko’s most renowned co-stars including tenors Roberto Alagna, Joseph Calleja and Juan Diego Flórez. In addition she is supported by a starry roster of conductors including Valery Gergiev (her house debut), Plácido Domingo, James Levine, Marco Armiliato and many others. Spanning her entire Met career, from her 2002 house debut as Natasha in Prokofiev’s War and Peace to her recent appearance as Mimì in La Bohème, the excerpted performances were all recorded live on the Met stage. Arias and scenes from Don Giovanni, I Puritani, Rigoletto, Roméo et Juliette, Les contes d’Hoffmann, Lucia di Lammermoor and Don Pasquale are all infused with Netrebko’s unique vocal magnetism and irresistible on-stage charisma.


I listened to the album yesterday and was charmed by the accessibility of the music. The warmth of her voice was rich and tender, witting and expressive, intimate and inviting. I fell in love with her voice with I Capuleti e i Montecchi and charmed again with Tchaikovsky: In the still of the night. But I think she has really hit the mark with Live at the Metropolitan Opera.

The album begins with Bellini's tender "Qui la voce sua soave." The effortless control Anna has over her voice is amazing. She lightly caresses the music with such warmth one can imagine her alone in a small room, longing quietly for Arturo. Then Mozart's "Vedrai carino” shows Anna's classical grace. Verdi's "Ah, più non ragiono!" has such power it's hard to imagine this is the same woman who sang Qui la voce sua soave.


For your listening pleasure, here is Anna singing from I Puritani.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Should Artists Consider Facebook/Twitter in their Marketing Strategy?

According to the CTIA (International Association for Wireless Telecommunications) the number of wireless connections in the US Dec 2010 was 302.9million, doubling every 5 years.  One third of the cell phone accounts have a smart phone associated with them.  The Pew Internet estimates 8-10 adults have a cell phone with 1/4 of those in a house with no land line.  Blogging has actually declined from 2005 to 2010, particularly among those under the age of 30 switching to social media sites --73% of teenagers were using social media sites in 2009.  A recent Pew survey suggests over 50% of all adults use some form of social networking with 33% using multiple sites.  42% of cell phone users use their phones for entertainment. Smart phone users rely on online information via their phones for over 20% of their shopping choices, ranging from restaurants, concerts and store location.

Given all these statistics about cell phone usage, it seems business that have a Facebook page and/or a twitter account is at least open to the cellular market place.  Yet according to Facebook there were only 3.2 million business pages in Dec 2010, a small portion of the 7 Billion users.    While smart phones can access the internet for more than social networking, and online directories like yelp.com will even list businesses which don't have websites or Facebook pages, with the already established portal of Facebook and Twitter, it seems leveraging social media smart choice for businesses of all sizes.

A recent survey by MerchantCircle suggests 70% of all small businesses promote it through Facebook.  However, the survey went out to 200,000 businesses, but had only 8,456 respond.  As the survey was online there is already a skew toward Internet savvy businesses.   Still, the survey does show a strong interest in social media marketing.

In relating this to performing artists, since entertainment is a focus for many cell phone users and shopping is becoming increasingly popular via smart phones, it only makes sense users will be looking for entertainment activities via their phone.  By engaging with an artist's fan base via social media, artists not only build fan loyalty, but can notify their fans of changes in schedules, up coming events or even special deals available only online or via social media.  Not only is this targeted advertising, but an artist's message with 10k fans will be resent potentially reaching millions of people.

All major recording labels have Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Major PR companies have Facebook and Twitter accounts as well.  But is this enough?  Should the artists take control of their future by getting on the social media wave?  

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Imagining the Parts of a Whole Complete on Their Own - Philip Glass World Premiere of Duos No. 1-5

Maria Bachmann & Matt Haimovitz performed the World Premiere of Philip Glass' Duos No. 1-5 at the Days and Nights Festival

The music for Duos Nos. 1-5 are extracted from Glass' larger work Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra, 2010, similar to the Violin Concerto No. 2 where the solo violin became "The American Four Seasons." The program was followed by an early Schoenberg sextet Verklaerte Nacht Op. 4 (1899) and then Philip Glass' String Sextet (1995). The program notes suggests the music for the concert is a return to the music of Glass' youth --music he would listen to with is father during the 40's and 50's. The blend of the newly composed pieces by Philip Glass with the older Schoenberg was delightfully rich and illuminating at how subtle shifts in style can create something entirely new.

As a composer, I found it fascinating to take an existing piece apart to create something new, complete with flow and direction, without making it feel disjointed. Glass succeeded with the Duos Nos. 1-5: each movement was complete and yet part of a greater whole, with the entire work progressing through the stages unabridged.  The first movement reminiscent of Bach was slow and pensive, with wonderful interplay between the flowing lines.  The next movement was playful, blending the lines over top one another to create a thoroughly modern sound.  The 3rd movement started dark but eventually built to a fevered pitch.  The 4th had elements of the opening two movements, and the 5th wrapped up the piece with dark and soulful music hearkening to older styles, yet maintaining a sense of Glass' unique presence.  While the music is accessible in terms of being immediately enjoyable, it is also complex in the way it shifts and travels through its journey.  I suspect this piece will quickly become a popular piece for duos to perform as it provides both a challenge to the players and is completely at-home for the audience.

Maria Bachmann (pictured) and Matt Haimovitz were in complete sync through the music.  Each of their lines were very soloistic, yet each needed to be wholly aware of the other player, folding their lines together to make a complete sonic experience.  Watching and listening to the pair play the Duos was like watching a ballet pas de deux.  Each player so very in control of each moment in the music and filling the joint lines with pure passion.  If they are not a performing pair, they really should consider doing this more often.  Their connection is electric!

The connection between the players continued into the Schoenberg and extended to the additional players for the sextet.  The Verklaerte Nacht Op. 4 was dark yet lovely, melding the lines between the romantic music of Schubert and the stretched tonality of the 20th century.  Tim Fain, David Harding, Manuel Tabora and Edvany Klebla de Silva completed the sextet.  An early Schoenberg piece, the Verlaerte shows the relationship between the romantic music and his later "atonal" music.  There were sweeping themes that devolved into crunchy harmonies, intricate lines that initially appeared simple, but when combined with the other "simple" lines created complicated sonic puzzles.  The final movement was capped with a burst of enthusiasm by the audience.  The intimate performance space at the Hidden Valley Music Center allowed the audience to really connect with the music and the players --the applause echoed their appreciation.

The final piece of the evening was Philip Glass' String Sextet. In immediately recognizable style, the piece begins with flowing lines of music.  However, the interplay of these lines bringing out melodies and then subverting them into the mix was masterfully done.  The music's ebb and flow was captured with flawless crescendi and dimenuendi by the ensemble.  One line would rise, while another would fall, melding into each other so, unless you're intently watching which instrument is playing what, you'd never know whether you're hearing a beginning or an end.

Eventually, the piece presents a beautiful melody by the 1st violin, Maria Bachmann.  The melody is haunting, with a sense of longing.  Just when you think the melody has run it's course, Maria moves on to something new while Tim Fain takes on the melody.  There is a trick of the ear as the music sounds the same and yet different.  As Schoenberg suggests,  a good motive should be similar enough to its predecessor to be recognizable and yet different enough to maintain interest - the melody moved with a different sound by virtue of a different approach, a different instrument and a different accompaniment.  Threes are also charmed; just when Tim is finishing his rendition of the melody David Harding takes it on.  This time the melody played on the viola, yet in the same upper register played by the violins, the music is further sublimated into the mix.

If there was a critique of the music it would be the over-use of sound fading into nothing to end a movement. Not every movement used this technique, but it appeared often enough to question whether Glass could have found some other way to close out the movements.  Still, a really small issue in an otherwise stellar evening of chamber music.  Each piece was uniquely its own, yet held elements so familiar with the other pieces the connection between them all, and to the greater world of chamber music, was evident.

The Days and Nights Festival is half way through.  So far it has been a journey of various parts.  Tonight's concert was in a small way, a tying together some of those parts.  Not only is Duos part of a larger work, but it considers the other works performed highlighting a sense of line evident in each of the pieces performed.  The overall music from this evening blended concepts of music from the Romantic period into the modern day, connecting not only with music from over a hundred years ago (similar to the connection between last weekends Schubert and Glass pieces), but also to the lines and structure of John Moran's theatrical performance.

There are more performances today.  Chamber music by the Days and Nights Festival Players featuring Philip Glass' Company for String Octet, Bartók's String Quartet No. 1 in A minor and Mendelssohn's String Octet in E-Flat Major, Op.20. Tonight is Dance w/ Molissa Fenley and Dancers and Philip Glass on piano, with another performance tomorrow afternoon. AND yet another week...


Thursday, August 25, 2011

What's in a review...

What's the point in writing a review? Doesn't anybody really care what I think

This has been a busy week with the Philip Glass' Day's and Nights Festival. Add to it a variety of new CD's coming out in August/September getting ready for the Fall/Winter sales and I've a lot of reviews to get done. One of my friends asked me why I review music the other day, with the ancillary question, "does anyone read them?"

Studies show blog and print media reviews have little to no effect on whether audience members actually go see a performance. This last case is even truer in the classical music world where a performance is seldom repeated, so a review is really only after the performance and has no bearing on getting audience members to buy tickets – at least not to the specific performance reviewed. However, there is the potential of using cut quotes --phrases or sentences from the review in future advertising. As such, festival and performers still like to have their concerts reviewed.

This concept of future publicity is particularly important for classical music. The musicians at the Days and Nights Festival will be performing in other venues and other festivals. Anything I have nice to say may well be used to promote those performers in their future concerts. You often see artist websites showing pull quotes from various past performances to highlight their expertise. When marketing a CD there are press releases prior to the CD release, when the CD is released and concert publicity which hopes to drive more CD sales. A good review of a CD (even just a short half sentence) can make an artist seam more appealing, provide a sense of worth, particularly to a potential audience that isn’t familiar with the artist. Considering there are literally dozens of world class violinists trying to make their living as solo performers, having a few “good words” to include with their press releases can make a huge difference in both audience attendance and sales of their CD at their performances.

Having said all this, what sort of reviews do I write? If the artists need “good words” to use for publicity shouldn’t I just write a glowing review each time?


Well, no. Some of the people reading my reviews are fellow concert goers. If they saw the same concert I did and it wasn’t particularly thrilling, but I wrote a glowing review anything else I might say would also be suspect. Several newspaper reviews have been criticized for doing just this thing --oddly enough, by the artists themselves. If the reviewer is "known" for only writing good reviews than the quotes have no value. The artists themselves are also aware when a reviewer is padding the performance – so good reviews (although they might still get used in general press releases if there isn’t anything else to be had) can actually hurt an artist in the classical music community. Using too many false reviews to inflate an artist’s status can bring into question just how good the artist really is. Again, when there are so many people trying to make a living in classical music, having the quality of your performances in question is not a good thing. So, reviews need to be honest.

Do reviewers get too technical in their reviews?
Yes and no. I suppose some of my reviews do go into a bit more detail than the common person might care about, particularly since live performance reviews are of a given night and not an experience my readers will get to share. But, providing details, specific elements of the concert that I liked (or didn’t) does two things: It is evidence I was actually in attendance at the concert and not just writing a generic review, and it speaks specifically as to the why I felt something worked or didn’t. IF, as an audience member, I speak about a moment that didn’t work and I list the reason, the reason may very well be just what someone else is looking for in a performance.

Also, there is the concert for the performer. If I mention aspects of the performance that don’t work, the performers have the chance to review what they did and see if they might want to make changes. I seriously doubt if many of the world class performers are going to take what I say with too much concern – but, by providing the detail, they have the opportunity to examine and improve their performance. As a performer myself that is exactly what I want in a review – a second opinion as to what I can do to improve.
In the end, I write reviews to provide feedback to performers and fellow future audience members. I endeavor to always write the truth, but remind the performers my reviews are just my opinion. Each review takes a fair amount of time as I feel the performers spent a great deal of time preparing for the performance, the least I can do is show them respect for their effort by putting in some effort of my own in the review. Personally, I think I write pretty good reviews. As yet I have not received any comments about my reviews being off base in my judgment of the performance. I do have numerous comments and personal emails from fellow audience members who have agreed with my statements.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ACO Announces SONiC Sounds of a New Century Festival

A Bold Festival of 21st Century Music by Composers 40 and Under October 14-22, 2011

SONiC – Sounds of a New Century – a brand new festival of 21st century music by more than 100 composers age 40 and under, will take over New York from Friday, October 14 through Saturday, October 22, 2011. Events will range from a daylong marathon to a DJ/VJ night, from a free symphony concert at the World Financial Center Winter Garden to collaborations between emerging choreographers and composers. SONiC concerts will take place at ten different venues throughout New York, and will include performances by 16 extraordinary ensembles featuring at least 18 world premieres, eight US premieres, and eight New York premieres. SONiC is co-curated by composer Derek Bermel and pianist Stephen Gosling, and is a production of American Composers Orchestra and The Alice M. Ditson Fund of Columbia University. SONiC is presented in partnership with Carnegie Hall and Miller Theatre at Columbia University. New York Public Radio’s online radio station, Q2, is the media partner and digital venue.

A Second Season of St. Louis Symphony Live Broadcasts

St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU and the St. Louis Symphony announced today the renewal of their partnership to include live broadcasts of all 2011-12 Saturday night Wells Fargo Advisors Orchestral Series concerts. The concerts will be broadcast live on St. Louis Public Radio’s main channel, 90.7 KWMU and will be streamed live at www.stlpublicradio.org.

The series’ first live broadcast from Powell Hall will be Saturday, September 17 at 8 p.m. St. Louis Symphony Music Director David Robertson will present an all-Stravinsky celebration, highlighting three of his ballet masterpieces in one program. The broadcast includes Petrushka, The Rite of Spring, and the St. Louis Symphony premiere of Les Noces, Stravinsky’s musical rendition of an ancient wedding written for four pianos, percussion and chorus. Guest soloists include soprano Dominique Labelle, mezzo-soprano Kelly O’Connor, tenor Thomas Cooley, and baritone Richard Paul Fink. The St. Louis Symphony Chorus will also be featured on this program.

medici.tv Offers Eight Webcasts from France’s Annecy Festival - Today

Beginning this Wednesday, August 24, medici.tv will webcast eight concerts from the Annecy Classic Festival, set in France’s glorious Rhône-Alps region. The first concert presents works by Tchaikovsky, Liszt and Grieg, with Valery Gergiev leading his Mariinsky Orchestra and soloists Gautier Capuçon and Denis Matsuev. Among the other highlights, Capuçon and Matsuev will perform in separate concerts with Yuri Temirkanov and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, and Matsuev will give a solo recital. A full list of Annecy concerts can be found below.

Now in its fifth summer, medici.tv is the go-to venue on the web for classical music lovers to enjoy the world’s greatest artists performing at the most exclusive festivals. Earlier this month, medici.tv gave its first webcast from the world-renowned Salzburg Festival: a concert in which Renée Fleming sang an all-Strauss program with the Vienna Philharmonic under Christian Thielemann. In July, medici.tv webcast more than 20 live events from Switzerland’s Verbier Festival. medici.tv webcasts have also included concerts from other leading festivals including Aspen, Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Denis, Lucerne and Glyndebourne.

San Francisco Opera Presents World Premiere of Heart of a Soldier By Christopher Theofanidis and Donna DiNovelli

San Francisco Opera presents the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, a new opera by composer Christopher Theofanidis with a libretto by Donna Di Novelli. Commissioned by San Francisco Opera in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks, Heart of a Soldier is based on the critically acclaimed non-fiction book of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist James B. Stewart and the life stories of Susan Rescorla, Rick Rescorla and Daniel J. Hill. The cast features baritone Thomas Hampson, tenor William Burden and soprano Melody Moore.

Heart of a Soldier will premiere on Saturday, September 10, 2011—the eve of the tenth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks—as part of the Company’s 2011–12 repertory season. Six additional performances will be presented through September 30 at the War Memorial Opera House. Francesca Zambello will direct this world premiere production and San Francisco Opera Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers will lead the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and Chorus. The production team includes set designer Peter J. Davison, costume designer Jess Goldstein, lighting designer Mark McCullough, projection designer S. Katy Tucker, movement director Rick Sordelet, choreographer Lawrence Pech and Company chorus director Ian Robertson.

A tale of war, love, friendship and heroism, Heart of a Soldier reflects on the extraordinary true story of Rick Rescorla, a man trained to be a consummate soldier who gave up his own life saving thousands in the attacks on September 11, 2001. Inspired by the American soldiers he saw as a boy in Cornwall, England preparing to launch the Normandy invasion on what became D-Day, and by his adult friendship with American fighting man Dan Hill, whom he meets in war-torn Rhodesia, Rescorla emigrates to the United States in the early 1960s to become a soldier and a “Yank,” ultimately becoming a decorated platoon leader during the Vietnam War. On September 11, 2001, as head of security for Morgan Stanley at Two World Trade Center , Rescorla is thrown to the floor when United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the South Tower . Amidst the unimaginable chaos that ensues, Rescorla uses his commanding presence and booming voice to literally sing his colleagues down smoke-filled stairs and out of the building. While he successfully evacuates all of his company’s 2,700 employees from the South Tower before it collapses, Rescorla makes the ultimate sacrifice when he goes back into the building to search for stragglers. Heart of a Soldier is an opera about a hero who disdains that very term, and about his deep friendship with an American soldier, so unlike him in approach and yet so similar in dedication and bravery.

Renowned American baritone Thomas Hampson returns to San Francisco Opera as Rick Rescorla. In addition to creating the role of Valmont in the world premiere of Conrad Susa’s The Dangerous Liaisons, Hampson has previously performed with the Company as Figaro in The Barber of Seville, Ulysses in Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria and in the title roles of Hamlet and Macbeth. A great champion of American song and music, Hampson recently received the Library of Congress’s “Living Legend” award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to America ’s diverse cultural, scientific, and social heritage.

Returning to San Francisco Opera after his most recent appearance as Tom Rakewell in The Rake’s Progress, William Burden is Rick Rescorla’s best friend, Daniel J. Hill. Burden has previously created roles in two other world premiere productions—Gilbert Griffiths in Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy at the Metropolitan Opera and Dodge in Daron Hagen’s Amelia at the Seattle Opera. The American tenor made his San Francisco Opera debut as Count Lerma in Don Carlo and has also appeared as Janek in The Makropulos Case and Lindoro in L’Italiana in Algeri.

Former Adler Fellow Melody Moore creates the role of Susan Rescorla, Rick’s beloved wife. Moore has previously appeared with the Company as Mimì in La Bohème in 2008 as well as Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro and Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Career highlights include Mimì at English National Opera and Opera Cleveland; Countess Almaviva with Los Angeles Opera and Rita Clayton in the New York premiere of Stephen Schwartz’s Seance on a Wet Afternoon with New York City Opera.

“For nearly a decade I have been hoping to commission an opera from the brilliantly talented Christopher Theofanidis,” stated David Gockley. “When there finally was a window of opportunity at Houston Grand Opera, I changed jobs and preliminary plans for Heart of a Soldier had to be put on hold. Once in San Francisco, I felt the opportunity to commission this work in observation of the tenth anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11—and the commitment of Tom Hampson to create the lead role—gave the project critical mass. On the surface the piece is about what it takes to be a true hero, but what will drive the music is the passion, the suspense and the ultimate tragedy.”

Christopher Theofanidis explains: “Donna and I have spent time with Dan Hill and Susan Rescorla (Rick Rescorla’s widow) and we are honored to be involved with this project. The fact that it is a true story has made it very personal for both of us. This is fundamentally a deeply humanistic work, with an emphasis on Rick and Dan coming to understand who they are as people and then maximizing their potential. The essence of this comes from a sense of service to others and duty—the heart of a soldier. This nobility of spirit is transformed in the arc of the opera from Vietnam , where it kept Rick and Dan's troops together, to September 11th, when Rick went back into a building he knew was going to fall. Another theme resonating throughout the opera is how we honor and remember the dead, how we incorporate them into our own hearts and come to grips with great loss.”

“When I read James Stewart's true story of an unsung hero of 9/11, its epic themes of a warrior’s code of honor, intense bonds of loyalty, late-found love and overwhelming tragedy struck me as extremely theatrical,” said Francesca Zambello. “It also takes up ideas and ideals, morals and morality in the context of modern American lives. I have always wanted to create an opera based on a real life story and was very gratified when David Gockley agreed to develop this work with me.”

Massachusetts Remembers to Mark 10th Anniversary of September 11th

Boston Commemoration Event at The DCR Hatch Shell on The Esplanade

Boston Pops Brass Ensemble, Conducted by James Orent will present a program of music, readings, poetry, prayers, and reflections as be a Tribute to America, the heroes and fallen of September 11th, and American service men and women who have served and are serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world. Diverse communities will gather together to look back, and look forward, reaffirming what makes America great, united by our shared values of security, liberty, and justice for all.

Community Service Pavilion -- Embracing the spirit of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act designating Sept. 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance: Non-profit organizations created by 9/11 family members as well as other community-based non-profits, enabling the public to learn about and engage in service activities.

Sunday, September 11, 2011 3:00p.m.

The DCR Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, Boston, MA

Experience Strauss: A Space Odyssey with Yan Pascal Tortelier and the Colorado Symphony

Internationally-renowned French conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier leads Colorado Symphony in a thrilling evening of Berlioz, Mozart and Strauss in first Masterworks weekend of 2011/12 season

Internationally-renowned French conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier leads the Colorado Symphony in a thrilling weekend of Berlioz, Mozart and Strauss on Friday, September 23 and Saturday, September 24 as the Colorado Symphony presents Strauss: A Space Odyssey. Tortelier, who holds the position of principal conductor of the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, enjoys a distinguished career as a guest with the world’s most prestigious orchestras and makes his much-anticipated return to the Colorado Symphony in this Masterworks opening weekend.

Immortalized in Stanley Kubrick's epic science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra was inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical novel of the same name. It delights with powerful brass, lustrous strings and sheer, expressive musical power. Concertgoers will also enjoy a crowning jewel of Mozart's oeuvre, his Symphony No. 40 in G minor "The Great G minor Symphony." Instantly recognized for its sense of dramatic restlessness, Mozart's Symphony No. 40 reaches a level of intensity only found in his last works. This must-see concert opens with Berlioz's Le Corsaire, inspired in some measure by the poet Lord Byron, a wild sea voyage captained by a pirate, and the romance of ancient French ruins. Tickets for this extraordinary musical journey currently start at $19 and are on sale now.

Also an acclaimed recording artist, Tortelier holds the position of principal guest conductor at the Royal Academy of Music in London in addition to his role in Sao Paulo. He served as chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic from 1992 to 2003 and led the orchestra's successful tour of the United States to celebrate its 60th anniversary season. He began his musical career as a violinist, and at 14, won first prize for violin at the Paris Conservatoire and made his debut as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Deutsche Grammophon Releases All-New Box Set of Gustavo Dudamel Leading the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Includes Symphonies by Bruckner, Sibelius and Nielsen, Available September 13th

One of the many milestones in Gustavo Dudamel’s career was his appointment as Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra on April 12, 2006, a position he assumed with the start of the 2007–08 season. Outside of Venezuela this was Dudamel’s first appointment and his first long-term collaboration with a single ensemble. The collaboration has produced many exciting concerts and elicited high praise from the press and public alike. To celebrate Deutsche Grammophon will release a 3-CD box set of live recordings which includes symphonies by Bruckner, Sibelius and Nielsen, available September 13th.
I listened to this album over the weekend. It was on my list of things to do, which typically means I'd get through it once while I was occupied with other things. Then my playlist would move on to other albums and I'd not notice. Boy was I wrong.
The CD captured my attention 2'38" into the first track, Feirlich, Misterioso from Bruckner's 5th Symphony, with the bold statement of the full orchestra. I love this symphony and have several recordings of it. How I missed the sumptuous opening horn is still a mystery. Dudamel captures the intensity of the music - the passion. The power of the orchestra reaches out and grabs you, then disappears to hide behind a veil of woodwinds. Pull back the veil and be caressed with the rich melody in strings and woodwinds. It's as if you're walking through the fairytale world of the German countryside.
The Sibelius is a very different piece of music.  The third movement Vivacissimo is frantic with sweeping strings and brash exclamations by the brass..  The Nordic world has both Hans Christian Andersen and Jean Sibelius who bring to life very different way.  Through stories, Andersen paints a world of mystery and wonder, steeped in emotion.  Often called the "Symphony of Independence", Sibelius paints a world filled with possibilities, yet also fraught with emotion.  The subtleties are beautifully captured in this recording bring the music to life, the possibilities to the forefront.  
Perhaps I should give a full review... but I'd rather sit back and listen to a wonderful recording where both the conductor and orchestra understand the intimacy of the music they play. They invite you into their world and you're so very glad they did.

Deutsche Grammophon Releases All-New Box Set of Gustavo Dudamel Leading the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra

Includes Symphonies by Bruckner, Sibelius and Nielsen, Available September 13th

One of the many milestones in Gustavo Dudamel’s career was his appointment as Principal Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra on April 12, 2006, a position he assumed with the start of the 2007–08 season. Outside of Venezuela this was Dudamel’s first appointment and his first long-term collaboration with a single ensemble. The collaboration has produced many exciting concerts and elicited high praise from the press and public alike. To celebrate Deutsche Grammophon will release a 3-CD box set of live recordings which includes symphonies by Bruckner, Sibelius and Nielsen, available September 13th.

I listened to this album over the weekend. It was on my list of things to do, which typically means I'd get through it once while I was occupied with other things. Then my playlist would move on to other albums and I'd not notice. Boy was I wrong.

The CD captured my attention 2'38" into the first track, Feirlich, Misterioso from Bruckner's 5th Symphony, with the bold statement of the full orchestra. I love this symphony and have several recordings of it. How I missed the sumptuous opening horn is still a mystery. Dudamel captures the intensity of the music - the passion. The power of the orchestra reaches out and grabs you, then disappears to hide behind a veil of woodwinds. Pull back the veil and be caressed with the rich melody in strings and woodwinds. It's as if you're walking through the fairytale world of the German countryside.

Perhaps I should give a full review... but I'd rather sit back and listen to a wonderful recording where both the conductor and orchestra understand the intimacy of the music they play. They invite you into their world and you're so very glad they did.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Milton Babbitt: an elegy gone awry pt. 2

Continued from Milton Babbitt: an elegy gone awry pt. 1

New Music Lover #2: Do you mean John Adams? Oh, I think that both Babbitt and Carter, even Sessions, who composed several good pieces, "The Black Maskers" and a thorny but dramatic Violin Concerto, will have minor but secure places in music history, and somewhat larger places in the history of American art music. John Adams, after the current fashion dies down, will have next to no place whatsoever, as there is no real intrinsic merit in that music as far as I can detect. "Nixon in China" may be remembered for its superb libretto and as a period piece. No, John Adams will be placed somewhere below both John Harbison (whose work I admire), Steve Reich (a wonderful composer), and Alan Hovhaness (an underrated composer). Very far below, I should think, not on Karl Marx's "ash heap of history," but somewhere in the dark, unvisited recesses of the basement.

Grad Student #1: Wrong. Adams name, due to an inertia that has nothing to do with my opinion or your name, will be around long after we are dust. Harmonielerhe will continue to be performed because, in addition to being an informed retrospective commentary, people actually pay to hear it and walk out feeling like they got their money's worth. Furthermore, as it was commissioned by Exxon, who will most likely be around long after the oil dries up, you can bet that they will continue to milk the investment for every drop that it is worth.

New Music Lover #2: No, GS#1, wrong. The problem with John Adams' music is that orchestras simply hate playing it, even more than they hate Bruckner. "Harmonielehre" (note the spelling, please, if you like it so much) will be played for a space and then put on the shelf, along with such pieces as the "Naturesymphonie" of Hausegger and the "Rustic Wedding" Symphony of Goldmark, and a whole host of other big, pretentious, audience-pleasing but meretricious works that pandered to the public of their day. John Adams is no different: a bourgeois composer for bourgeois audiences. Indeed, suddenly, Babbitt is looking better and better -- at least his work is concise, well-make, and, in its way, unpretentious.

Grad Student #2: Funny thing about history: if enough people propagate the music of Babbitt, Adams, Carter, etc, it will "survive." It seems to me that Babbitt is discussed in many circles; his death may regenerate a new generation of listeners and academics. It also seems to me that, if history has shown us anything, it is almost impossible to predict who will or will not be remembered. To be honest, it also seems a little blasphemous to speak ill of the dead on the day they died...but this is all just opinion.

New Music Lover #2: The dead do not know or care who talks about them after that last breath is taken, my dear. Neither will you or I when we, too, are dead. I liked Babbitt as a person, admired him as a teacher, respected his music without liking it at all. I just don't think that the pious hyperbolic apostrophes to his putative massive stature actually do his posthumous reputation any favor. Honor him, yes, but to call him a great composer whose music will live in eternity is going a bit far. (Which, in fairness, Nick did not do above when this thread began.) In fact, your point is precisely my point: it is almost impossible to predict who will or will not be remembered. Spohr and Bruch were considered great composers when they died -- Bruch lives on because of, at most, four pieces (admittedly two are very good indeed), but when was the last time you heard a piece of Spohr? On the other hand, both Bach and Schubert died in obscurity. Gesualdo was forgotten for centuries, as was Vivaldi. I am not saying that this is "fair" at all, as life is famously unfair, but history makes some strange turns.
(to be concluded)

Colorado Symphony Brass Quintet to perform Free Concert Aug 27th

Pack a picnic basket and get ready for an evening of jazz, Dixieland standards and light classics at a free concert in Central Park at Stapleton

Join members of the Colorado Symphony Brass for a free concert at Central Park on Saturday, August 27 and enjoy a wonderful evening of jazz, Dixieland standards and light classics. Be sure to pack a picnic for this free event, which begins at 7 p.m. as a quintet of the Symphony’s brass players, including principal trumpet Justin Bartels, perform a lighthearted selection of audience favorites. Everyone is welcome at this family-friendly, community event. This event is generously sponsored by the City and County of Denver.

A few tips on picnicking in the park:
  • Glass of any kind, including bottles, is not permitted.
  • Alcohol is not permitted.
  • Bring a blanket or low beach chair. Seating is "first come first served."

Inspiration, Limitation, Collaboration and what it takes to create a piece of "My" Music

The great thing about coming out to California is the chance to catch up with very dear friends. My wife & I lived on the Central Coast for over 15 years, so we've made some strong connections to the area. Along with those connections are people who are willing to be brutally honest and ask some really difficult question, just when we need a swift kick. These same friends also provide insight into who we are better than anyone else on Earth. If we ever succeed in our endeavors (for me: a working composer, for my wife: a published author) it will be in large part to the role our friends have played in keeping us honest, true to ourselves.

The other night I was engaged in a conversation about what it takes to make "my" music, music that I thrill to rather than just something that someone else wants and/or needs. Wow, difficult question. Initially my response was to say options in music are so vast some form of limitation is necessary or else projects just meander about and never accomplish anything. Planning, form and organization are all necessary aspects to creating a good piece of music.  As the discussion progressed, it became clear that much of what I was taking on as limitation were all created by other's. I have a host of projects I'm working on right now, all of which I very much enjoy, but all of these projects are commissions for other's with a sense of what they want - and not so much of what I want. While there is always some aspect of the music I write created within my head, some part inspiration, what my friend wanted me to discover was what sort of music would I write if left completely to my own devices.

Some of my most prolific moments take place late at night or when I'm driving with the rest of the car sound asleep. I like humming to myself, partly to keep awake, but partly just to allow the constant stream of music in my head an outlet. After 20 mins or so the initial theme, which is generally based on someone else's music, has mutated into ideas new and fresh and nearly always some obtuse rhythm. If I'm smart I'll pull out my voice recorder and take down some of these ideas.

When I start working on a project (for someone else) I look at what they're asking and go through some of my existing ideas to see what fits. Of course, this tends to lead to some amalgamation of ideas/concepts that are part what was asked for and part something created in my head in the wee hours of the morning.
The next step is crafting the ideas into something cohesive. There is very little inspiration to this part of the process (IMHO). Taking themes and ideas through their variations into something that makes sense according the form is work - fun, but work none-the-less.

Getting back to the conversation from last night, my friend questioned how much of my recent compositions have been all me, rather than limitations from outside sources. Ultimately where my friend was leading me was an attempt to get me to write my own sound.

So, I've taken the past few days to go over what I've written in the last couple years to find "my sound."  There are a couple of pieces which stand out as music written completely from within.  The Violin Concerto is probably the best example as it not only is music I thrill to hear time and again, but there is an emotional attachment to what I wrote.  The subtitle, "Living Through the Worst" comes from living through a difficult time in my life.  The concerto captures the emotions I went through.    While the music is not as difficult as I might write now with more knowledge of how to write a challenging violin piece, the music, with its complex rhythms, is very much me throughout.  Thinking outside the "me box" I feel the music allows for the soloist to shine in ways not found in any other concerto (that I know of).


Another piece, written on the heals of the Violin Concerto, is my Trumpet Concerto. In some respects I think this is a better piece of music; it utilized the trumpet in three different forms much better than the Violin Concerto uses the violin. However, it falls down in the aspect of having no emotional thrust to guide me through the process. Still, I think the piece works and is certainly a demanding challenge for any trumpet player. Not only the the rhythms intense, but the final movement on the piccolo trumpet runs the full range, from very bottom of the instrument to the very top. The Trumpet Concerto isn't as long, but then it's already demanding enough without asking a trumpet players lips to hold out for 30 mins.



Oddly enough both of these pieces were written over two years ago. I don't have anything since that really captures who I am as a composer without also suffering the effects of outside influence. I think the next few months/years will be a rediscovery of that self.

Thanks to good friends for keeping me focused...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Philip Glass Taking New Roads with New Days and Nights Festival - review

Day Two of the Days and Nights Festival brings Chamber Music to new Heights

Philip Glass has written operas, symphonies and chamber music capturing the hearts of classical music lovers since in the sixties. While his style of repetitive structures has been dubbed "minimalist" there is nothing minimal about his music. His early works immersed the listeners in waves of subtle changes like a sonic weather storm sweeping across the sky.

Last night the Days and Nights Festival presented an evening of chamber music featuring both the music of Philip Glass and Franz Schubert. You might think these two composers are an odd mix, but the combination not only featured each of the composers well, but highlighted how Glass reaches back to previous forms of music to create something new and how forward seeking Schubert was with his music.

The concert opened with Pendulum by Philip Glass - a work for violin and piano with Tim Fain on violin and Philip Glass on piano. The piece premiered in September 2010 as a piano trio, but re-written in 2011 for violin and piano. In the beginning there is the subtle shifting motives we have come to love from Philip Glass. But as the pendulum swings the violin gets more and more wildly frantic. I half expected the bow of Tim Fain to fly out into the audience at several points. Still, he was in complete control the entire time through the undulating figures and extensive double stops. The piano oscillated from being underpinning and accompaniment to sections of featured performance. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the piece is the complete blend of the two instruments. There were moments of featured points for each instrument, but the music is so complex and thoroughly integrated the two instruments stopped being two and became one intricate, composite instrument, a single pendulum shifting through the music.

Pendulum was followed by the Fifth String Quartet by Philip Glass. The work is in five movements, but was performed as a steady stream --demanding a great deal of extended focus from the musicians. Written in 1991, this is not an early work of Philip Glass, but it does harken back to an early style. There is more of the extended repetitive structures Glass became famous for, and yet there were also points of sweeping melody, strong passages by the entire quartet alternating with soft, delicate progressions. Tim Fain and Maria Bachmann on violin, David Harding on viola and Matt Halmovitz on cello did an amazing job of shifting through the various colors of the piece, watching each other to highlight moments of unison while each was able to capture the power of their individual lines. Often times Tim, Maria and David were gallivanting through rich melodic sections while Matt pinned the music to an often manic bass line. There were passages when the entire ensemble attacked their instruments with angry passion and immediately shifted to tender passages when the quartet seemed to weep together. By the end of the music the audience is elated, exhausted, amazed and enthusiastic, sweeping enmasse to their feet for an extended standing ovation for the composer and the players. The concert could have ended on that piece, but it was only intermission.

The second half of the concert was treated to Franz Schubert's Piano Trio No. 1 in B-flat performed by Maria Bachmann, Matt Halmovitz and Jon Kilbonoff. Typically music of this period (late 19th-century) is harmonically rich and filled with sweeping melodies. Here Schubert does not disappoint. Some might think putting Romantic era music opposite Philip Glass to be a bit off-putting: typically the shifting colors are dramatically different, Glass taking slow shifts in color, whereas the Romantics tended to make sharp shifts; undulating patterns in Glass whereas Romantics tend to mutate the motives in clearly defined ways. I, however, felt the programming of the Schubert opposite the two Glass pieces was effective. Maria and Matt often alternated the romantic motives over the subtle piano of Jon, but the colors and harmonic shifts were in many ways similar to what we heard from Glass. The motives were more clearly defined in the Schubert bouncing between the trio, but there were also similarities which illuminated the roots of Philip Glass are based in a deep tradition of great music, while also highlighting the forward thinking of Schubert in grasping the possibilities for a piano trio.

The performers had their work cut out for them and they succeeded without hesitation, diving headlong into the music and capturing every nuance. A lesser performance of any of these works would have failed to realize the connection in the program. The Days and Nights Festival have brought world class musicians to bring to life world class music. They are setting an incredibly high bar for their first year. Somehow, I think the vision of the future is considerably higher still.

Deutsche Grammophon and Archiv Produktion release a 10-CD Box Set of Tomás Luis de Victoria to coincide the 400th anniversary of his death, Available September 27

While Tomás Luis de Victoria ranks as one of the greatest Spanish composers of all time, his renown in recent decades has often been eclipsed by his Renaissance contemporaries Palestrina and Lassus. Seizing the opportunity of this year’s Victoria centenary, Michael Noone and his Ensemble Plus Ultra shine the spotlight on this unique Spanish genius revealing him as the equal of any composer of the High Renaissance—a towering composer whose works glow with the passion and vibrant tonal palette of El Greco.

Ensemble Plus Ultra has newly recorded 93 works by Victoria to commemorate this anniversary, and Deutsche Grammophon & Archiv Produktion are proud to release this monumental 10-CD box set on September 27, 2011. Ensemble Plus Ultra’s thorough reassessment of these works confirms in sound what James Michener so perspicaciously observed in his classic travelogue Iberia:

“He [Victoria] was the equal of Palestrina…the richness of his construction and the dramatic manner in which he interweaves as many as six threads of sound, uniting them occasionally in majestic chords, form one of the joys of sixteenth-century music and I would suppose that for many who know music generally, the discovery of Victoria will be one of the few remaining delights … Victoria died in 1611, on August 27, a day held in reverence by mystics throughout the world as the anniversary of Santa Teresa's vision of being struck in the heart by a lance of fire held by an angel. He left Spanish music the equal of any being composed in Europe.”

World premieres by a lush and vibrant range of living American composers

NYC’s Avian Orchestra presents: Vegetative States

Five World Premieres of new music and video inspired by the world of botany in Greenville, Delaware (Sept. 24) and at The Cell in New York City (Sept. 26).


New York City’s Avian Orchestra (www.avianmusic.com) returns this fall with a new program touching on the growth of vines, carnivorous plants, psychedelic gardens, and more. The concerts will feature world premieres by a lush and vibrant range of living American composers, including Bret Battey, Max Duykers, Peter Flint, and Jonathan Newman, as well as arrangements by Michael Gandolfi from his symphony The Garden of Cosmic Speculation. The orchestra will be performing against a backdrop of video created by composers Bret Battey and Peter Flint with collaborator Katie Flint.

Pre-show will include a audio/video installation piece by Peter Flint involving long term time lapse video of one of the last stands of old growth forest in Delaware.

The Avian Orchestra is: Ann Sterman, flute; Andrew Sterman, woodwinds; Cyrus Beroukhim, violin; Arash Amini, cello; Blair McMillen, piano; Chris Nappi, percussion; and Peter Flint, accordion

PERF. # 1:      Saturday, September 24, 8pm
VENUE:         The Barn @ Flint Woods, 205 Center Meeting Road, Greenville, Delaware

INFO:             Admission is $15. www.peterflintmusic.com
                                 
PERF. # 2:    Monday, September 26, 8pm
VENUE:          The Cell, 338 W. 23rd Street, New York City

INFO:             Admission is $20. www.thecelltheatre.org

Audra McDonald Returns to Theater & Concert Stages This Season, Starring in Broadway-Bound The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess at ART


21C Media Group is thrilled to announce that it now represents singer and actress Audra McDonald for press and public relations. With four Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and a long list of other accolades to her name, the Juilliard-trained soprano returns to performing live full-time this month following four seasons playing Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s hit television series Private Practice. First, she makes her role debut as the title character in a new musical adaptation of the Gershwins’ folk opera, Porgy and Bess. The production – co-starring Norm Lewis as Porgy and David Alan Grier as Sportin’ Life, and directed by the Tony-nominated Diane Paulus – begins previews today, August 17 and opens on August 31 at the American Repertory Theater’s home base of the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In December the production is slated to begin previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City, marking McDonald’s first Broadway appearance since 2007, when she received a Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination for her performance in 110 in the Shade. Between the runs in Cambridge and New York of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, McDonald embarks on a 20-city concert tour across North America, presenting her trademark mix of show tunes, classic songs from movies, and pieces written expressly for her by leading contemporary composers. Performing with a wide range of ensembles, from solo piano to full orchestra, tour highlights include season-opening concerts at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia (Oct 1) and the Celebrity Series in Boston (Oct 2), as well as performances at Washington, DC’s Kennedy Center (Oct 4) and New York’s Carnegie Hall (Oct 22).

Born into a musical family, McDonald grew up in Fresno, California. One year after graduating with a degree in classical voice from the Juilliard School, she won her first Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical for Carousel at Lincoln Center Theater, directed by Nicholas Hytner. She received two additional Tony Awards in the Featured Actress category over the next four years for her performances in the Broadway premieres of Terrence McNally’s play Master Class (1996) and his musical Ragtime (1998), earning her an unprecedented three Tony Awards before turning 30. In 2004 she won her fourth Tony, starring alongside Sean “Diddy” Combs in A Raisin in the Sun. Her other theater credits include The Secret Garden (1993),Marie Christine (1999), Henry IV (2004), 110 in the Shade (2007), and, most recently, her Public Theater “Shakespeare in the Park” debut in Twelfth Night alongside Anne Hathaway and Raúl Esparza (2009).

McDonald made her opera debut in 2006 at Houston Grand Opera, which featured her in a double-bill of Poulenc’s monodrama La voix humaine and the world premiere of Send, a companion-piece to the Poulenc written by one of her frequent collaborators, composer Michael John LaChiusa. She made her Los Angeles Opera debut in 2007 starring alongside Patti LuPone in John Doyle’s production of Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. The resulting recording won McDonald two Grammy Awards, for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Album.

On the concert stage, she has premiered music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams and sung with virtually every major American orchestra – including the Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony – and under such conductors as Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Leonard Slatkin. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in 1998 with the San Francisco Symphony under the baton of Michael Tilson Thomas in a season-opening concert that was broadcast live on PBS. Internationally, she is a returning guest at the BBC Proms in London (where she was only the second American in more than 100 years to solo on the famed “Last Night of the Proms” at the Royal Albert Hall) and at the Théatre du Chatelet in Paris, as well as with the London Symphony Orchestra and Berlin Philharmonic.

McDonald was first introduced to television audiences as a dramatic actress in the Peabody Award-winning CBS program Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years. She went on to co-star with Kathy Bates and Victor Garber in the lauded 1999 Disney/ABC television remake of Annie, and in 2000 she had a recurring role on NBC’s hit series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. After receiving her first Emmy nomination for her performance in the HBO film version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Emma Thompson, McDonald returned to network television in 2003 in the political drama Mister Sterling, produced by Emmy Award-winner Lawrence O’Donnell, Jr. (The West Wing) and starring Josh Brolin. In early 2006 she joined the cast of the WB’s The Bedford Diaries, and over the next season she had a recurring role on NBC’s television seriesKidnapped. In 2008 she reprised her Tony Award-winning role in A Raisin in the Sun in a made-for-television movie adaption, earning her a second Emmy Award nomination.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Art (and music) of John Moran…and his neighbor, Saori.

What was it like that first week with Adam and Eve? Was the world quiet and serene with no tasks but the naming of animals? Were the sunrises slow and majestic? In many respects I feel the First year of the Days and Nights Festival has that same atmosphere - the world just unfolding with possibilities.
This afternoon's performance of John Moran…and his neighbor, Saori was a theater piece thoroughly composed. Taking elements from several of John's operas', The Manson Family and The Book of the Dead, interspersed with a piece entitled "John's Opening" you get a glimpse at his style --crafted theater set to a tempo like a composition, but far more encompassing than any musical piece could convey. There are bits of dialog to the audience which at first seem disjointed and out of place, even to the point of making the audience uncomfortable. However, these bits eventually come around again, like a theme in a piece of music, to where we begin to understand the dialog is staged, the repetition a form of understand how parts of life seem to play over and over again.
Saori Tsukada is an actress, dancer, mime... force of nature. As each of John's pieces unfold there is no explanation as to what any of Saori's movements or recorded dialog mean. However, in a scene from The Book of the Dead, Saori portrays a worker in a McDonald's restaurant, floating through life dead. Yet, she then plays another co-worker where we catch glimpses of the other part of the dialog, still as lifeless in her existence - yet, Saori's performance is riveting, electric. Eventually we are treated to Saori replaying the scene as both characters adding nothing to the depth of their life existence and yet, reflecting on our own existence and its repetitive nature.
The final scene has John playing a record of him playing a Bach piece, except it's not a recording, but a recording that sounds like a record complete with all the sound effects of him opening the player, placing the needle and the scratches on the album. This moves into a scene with Saori playing a role as part herself and part someone else, over and over and yet the music continues. Add another layer of John playing a song on an electric guitar and singing in the background. Suddenly the Bach becomes a backing track, with John's song the emotional thrust to what Saori is performing. Each time she goes through the movements we feel as if John is perhaps responding to her action organically. Yet, they are so well timed, and occasionally repetitive we realize we're listening, watching, experience a piece of music, of theater unfold for us.
John Moran…and his neighbor, Saori. will be performed again on on Sunday, 2:30 out at the Hidden Valley Music Center in Carmel Valley. A continuation of this story will take place on Tuesday. Come, experience music and theater unfold as an examination of the disjointed nature of life and yet so well crafted it's impossible to walk away without being immersed into John and Saori's world.

Philip Glass' Day and Nights Festival in Monterey is Underway

After a rousing opening night, the Days and Nights Festival is now in full swing and all the preparation has paid off! The excitement of the gala event is propelling us forward into an action packed weekend of wonderful chamber music as well as the inimitable John Moran + Saori.

I had a chance to chat with John and Saori yesterday. The relax atmosphere felt like the perfect place to discuss the experience of being at the festival. With the remote location nestled in the hills of Carmel Valley, the fresh air and natural surroundings created a sense of openness to the conversation. We were joined by Tim Fain, violinist of the festival players to find out Tim and Saori are neighbors in New York.

It's a small world and the Days and Nights Festival has just that sort of feel, intimate, welcoming with a air of accessibility to the music you just don't find anywhere else.

But wait, the musicians performing here are world class. John Moran is a critically-acclaimed and enigmatic composer and choreographer. Tim Fain electrified audiences at his New York concerto debut at Alice Tully Hall with Gerard Schwarz and the New York Chamber Symphony, and at Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. YOA Orchestra of the Americas will be lead by Plácido Domingo. The festival also has the Molissa Fenley Dance company, poets Eleni Sikelianos, Jerry Quickley, Francesco Levato and Maria Teutsch.

In any other setting these stars in the art world might seem daunting, or aloof. But here at the Days and Nights Festival there is a sense of approach-ability that draws you in - makes you part of the experience.

I'm here all week, so there will be lots more updates and experience from the FIRST Days and Nights Festival

Friday, August 19, 2011

Clothing Doesn't Make the Music, the Artist Does!

Mark Swed's Review of Yuja Wang at the Hollywood Bowl Continues to be the topic of the day
WHY???

The furor over Yuja's dress amazes me. I've seen Yuja in concert three times. She is amazing... not just a little bit. If you aren't stunned by her ability at the piano, you're dead. This being the case, why is the outfit she wore at the Hollywood Bowl such an issue?
Mark Swed does talk about her playing saying, "...there Wang was, projected in leering close-up on the Bowl’s video screens playing a superhuman concerto with unabashed cool." IMHO - 'nuf said. There is no reason to talk about her dress, no reason to say, "Her dress Tuesday was so short and tight that had there been any less of it, the Bowl might have been forced to restrict admission to any music lover under 18 not accompanied by an adult."
Classical music artists are competing for audiences with popular music artists as well as other classical music artists. They struggle to make their performance style unique and yet still display their amazing talent for performance of music that is exceptionally difficult. Lang Lang has been criticized for being too flashy, yet reviews also comment on how talented a performer he is. Lang Lang is also attracting a new and young audience to his concerts because of this flash. Well, Yuja is competing for the same concerts, the same audiences, the same orchestras as Lang Lang. She needs to present herself in a way a younger audience will connect. Her dress was nothing out of the ordinary for what women wear in other arts industries aimed at that same younger audience range.
She was no where even close to being as provocative as Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey or Pink. . These are all artists young (i.e., under 18) listen to and are familiar with their mode of dress.

We complain on the one hand that the audience of classical music concerts are aging and the youth don't appreciate "good music," then we put a double standard on our artists asking them to conform to a style that simply doesn't resonate with that same younger audience. If we want the youth to listen to classical music we need to be open to presenting classical music in a way that appeals to an younger audience, something they can relate to. Yuja IS young and dressed very much in a style appropriate for her age.

Clothing doesn't make the music, the artist does. Yuja Wang, Lang Lang, Joshua Bell, Nicola Benedetti, Hilary Hahn and many more are young aritists showing the old classical world just how creative classical music can be. They are also reaching a new, younger audience - which is great for artists young and old alike. Let's stop talking about what they're wearing and starting focusing on their amazing ability. Yes, they all happen to be young, vibrant and even sexy "stars" - but it's the music that matters.

On 10th Anniversary, Trinity Wall Street Remembers Tragic Events of 9/11 with Week of Free Concerts

Observances Include Full Day of Concerts on Sep 9 with Choirs from Regions Forever Linked by 9/11: New York, Washington DC, Pennsylvania & Boston

After September 11, 2001, it was in Trinity Wall Street and St. Paul’s Chapel – just a stone’s throw from Ground Zero – that many sought spiritual refuge. Now, ten years on, the 300-year-old Episcopal parish presents a wealth of musical offerings – all free, and open to the public – in its weeklong observance of the tenth anniversary of the attacks (Sept 4–12). Opening on Sunday, September 4 at 9am, when Trinity Wall Street’s Director of Music and the Arts Julian Wachner leads the resident Trinity Choir in an all-Fauré service, the week builds to a climax on Friday, September 9, with a full day of concerts featuring celebrated choirs from New York City, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, and Boston – regions forever linked by the tragic events of 9/11. After taking turns to give hourly performances throughout the day, the five adult choirs come together for a final, stirring concert at 8:30pm, with guest star appearances by Grammy Award-winning violinist Gil Shaham and Metropolitan Opera singers Angela Meade, Anthony Roth Costanzo, and Luca Pisaroni. The week’s highlights also include a recital by the Chiara String Quartet and six performances by Wachner, the Trinity Choir, and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra in their popular “Bach at One” series, showcasing the motets of J.S. Bach (Sept 5–8, 10, 12). The same forces make their debut recording of the complete motets on the Musica Omnia label; due for release on September 1, the album is offered as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks.

One of the oldest, largest, and most vibrant of all Episcopal parishes, Trinity Wall Street is located in the heart of New York’s financial district, where it has created a dynamic home for great music. Informed by the theme “Remember to Love,” the week of commemorative concerts is designed to honor the memory of those tragically lost, and to mark the unparalleled efforts of the first responders, recovery workers, and volunteer community by offering contemplation, solace, and the embrace of a hopeful future. As the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, 17th Rector of Trinity Wall Street, observes:

“Ten years ago, the final act of many 9/11 victims was one of love. Facing the unthinkable, their parting gesture was to reach out to their families, friends, and colleagues. Ten years later, let us ‘Remember to Love’ those who are gone, those who remain, and those to come. Let us further remember and honor those who perished by generating a post-anniversary community committed to reconciliation and peace.”

Except where noted, concerts take place at either Trinity Church, on Broadway at Wall Street, or St. Paul’s Chapel, on Broadway and Fulton Street. Having survived intact both New York’s Great Fire of 1776, which destroyed the original Trinity Church, and the annihilation of the World Trade Center across the street, St. Paul’s has come to be known as “the little chapel that stood.”

Classical 105.9 FM WQXR Reports: New York Philharmonic Signs Partnership with Shanghai Orchestra

Announced at a signing ceremony in Shanghai last Sunday, the New York Philharmonic has signed an agreement with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra to collaborate on a new orchestra training institute in Shanghai, as well as a series of touring exchanges and joint commissioning of new works.

The training institute, set to launch in 2013 in conjunction with the opening of a new concert hall for the Shanghai Symphony, will provide a graduate-level music instruction for 20 to 30 students. Every two to three months, groups of New York Philharmonic musicians and staff will travel to Shanghai where they will provide master classes and other intensive sessions, said Anastasia Boudanoque, a manager at Columbia Artists Management, which represents the Shanghai Symphony's touring activities.

Is a Background in Music Theory AND History Still Necessary for Classical Music Performance?

When we start removing music history & theory courses and replacing them with more "popular" choices we are doing our future musicians a disservice.

I'm probably preaching to the choir, but I have noticed a slow decline in the emphasis on music theory and history for young musicians. Other teachers have commented that class times for these subjects have been cut and there are threats to cut them even more. This is not a good trend, so I'm speaking out.

Performers of today (and tomorrow) need to be well versed in a broad variety of styles, even if they plan to focus on only one era or on only contemporary music. The audience of today is vastly different than that of even 20 years ago, and as such, they listen differently. For an example of changing musical tastes, listen to a recording of Bernstein's Mahler and then to Tilson-Thomas or Boulez; the interpretations are very different. Part of the difference is due to an individual conductor’s style, but part of it is that newer conductors are approaching the same music in a more modern way. I believe performers as well as conductors need to understand the music in its historical context as well as how it will be perceived by the audiences of today.
Understanding the theory behind the music is important for the best possible performance of any common practice period piece. While the composers may have used theory subconsciously rather than mechanically when composing the music, the performers need to have a mechanical sense of the organization of a piece - the way it flows - in order to understand how to effectively perform it. Music theory gives a performer the tools for understanding the bones of a piece and for interpreting the subtext of the music.

History of music goes hand in hand with any theory understanding. If a musician is to perform a piece of Haydn, they should understand the style of the music surrounding the period in which Haydn wrote his music. Haydn's music is very different in style than Schubert and thus requires a different approach. Even if the performer doesn't choose to play the music in period style, approaching the music requires an understanding of the framework for the original piece before any variation will sound true.

Learning the theory and history behind common practice pieces can also influence how performers approach modern pieces. If a piece has never been performed, or the performer is unfamiliar with the composer's work, there is nothing on which to establish what the composer intended other than what is written in the music. With historical composers there is a vast array of articles on how to interpret the music, how to play phrases and what constitutes a phrase in music. With new music, there is none of this background information.

Does this mean a performer of new music doesn't need to study theory or history? No. Schoenberg said there is no composer who doesn't rely heavily on the past in order to write something new (paraphrased). A solid understanding of what styles influenced the modern composer can provide invaluable information when approaching a new work. Modern composers can be influenced by the entire scope of music history (from plainchant to pitch class sets), a performer interested in new music needs to be conversant with the scope of music history, at least to some degree.

For example, recently a group of composers where chatting about rhythms they like in their new pieces - 6+4+6+6 or 3+3+2+3. These poly-rhythmic pieces are not necessarily new, but are very different than what you might find in a piece by Haydn or Mozart. An understanding of Stravinsky, Copland and Bernstein would help understand how to approach poly-rhythms.

In terms of harmonic language, some of these same composers like counterpoint, to which the rules Bach applied are still relevant. Other composers may choose more atonal forms of harmonic language, therefore studying Schoenberg becomes important for grasping how to phrase atonal lines. Rich melodic lines might be similar to Tchaikovsky or Beethoven, yet harmonized more like Debussy or Scriabin. Jazz idioms might be in play, so understanding the difference between Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk could help.

Music, like all languages, is a living form of expression, constantly evolving and changing. To be fluent musically, students need to understand the grammar (theory) and common usage (history) as a basis for creating new and exciting performances.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bang on a Can Celebrates 25th Anniversary in 2011-12


The “relentlessly inventive” (New York Magazine) new music institution Bang on a Can will celebrate its 25th anniversary season in 2011-2012 with performances around the world, featuring a broad selection of brand new musical adventures alongside a recommitment to acclaimed projects from past years. Bang on a Can performances this season take place in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Amsterdam, Bordeaux, London, Moscow, Glasgow, and in many other places throughout the U.S. and internationally.

Projects for the 2011-2012 season include the Bang on a Can All-Stars in a dizzying array of collaborations with friends old and new – joining forces with Norwegian superstars Trio Mediaeval (in Julia Wolfe’s Steel Hammer); with percussion legend Steven Schick (in an evening of music by Steve Reich in Los Angeles’s Disney Hall, featuring 2x5 and Music for 18 Musicians); with an all-new expanded live tour of Brian Eno’s ambient classic Music for Airports; and with a host of composers, visual and sound artists (in the premiere of a new evening-length touring project, Field Recordings – a collaborative program created from found sounds, images, and voices). The season also includes the premiere of a newly staged show featuring the avant marching bandAsphalt Orchestra, new CD releases on Bang on a Can’s sister-label Cantaloupe Music, and more.

Since its creation by composers Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe, Bang on a Can has grown from a one-day New York-based Marathon concert (on Mother’s Day in 1987 in a SoHo art gallery) to a multi-faceted performing arts organization with a broad range of year-round international activities. In addition to the 25th anniversary of its founding, Bang on a Can is also celebrating the 20th anniversary of its electric chamber ensemble, the Bang on a Can All-Stars; the 15th anniversary of its membership-based commissioning arm, the Peoples’ Commissioning Fund; and the 10th anniversary of the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA, a professional development program for young composers and performers which connects the pioneers of experimental music to the next generation. Each new program evolved to further expose innovative music as broadly and accessibly as possible to new audiences worldwide.

“When we started Bang on a Can in 1987, in an art gallery in SoHo, we never imagined that our one-day, 12-hour marathon festival of mostly unknown music would morph into a giant international organization dedicated to the support of experimental music, wherever we would find it,” write Bang on a Can Co-Founders Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe. “But it has, and we are so gratified to be still hard at work, all these years later. The reason is really clear to us – we started this organization because we believed that making new music is a utopian act, that people needed to hear this music and they needed to hear it presented in the most persuasive way, with the best players, with the best programs, for the best listeners, in the best context. Our commitment to changing the environment for this music has kept us busy and growing for the last 25 years, and we are not done yet.”

The 2011-2012 Bang on a Can season in the U.S. kicks off on September 25, 2011 with a performance by Bang on a Can’s latest creation – the radical street band Asphalt Orchestra, bringing ambitious processional music to the mobile masses. Asphalt hits the streets of Brooklyn at the DUMBO Arts Festival with music by Brazilian iconoclast Tom Ze, Zimbabwean provocateur Thomas Mapfumo, Swedish metal band Meshuggah, and commissioned works written especially for the group by David Byrne, St. Vincent, Goran Bregovic, and more. On


October 5, 2011 Asphalt heads to the Redfern Arts Center in Keene, New Hampshire to premiere a brand new
staged indoor show with original choreography by Mark DeChiazza and Andrew Robinson. Asphalt performs throughout the U.S. during the season, and in May 2012 embarks on its first European tour.

On November 5, 2011 the Bang on a Can All-Stars take the stage at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall to perform the New York premieres of Louis Andriessen’sLife (postponed from last season due to the unpronounceable volcano in Iceland) and David Lang’s Sunray, plus Michael Gordon’s For Madeline, Kate Moore’s Ridgeway, three pieces commissioned by Bang on a Can from David Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors, and Lukas Ligeti’s Glamour Girl. Recordings of these works and more will be released on the All-Stars’ first studio album in five years: a two-CD set titled Big Beautiful Dark and Scary, to be released on Cantaloupe Music in January 2012.

Throughout 2011-12, Bang on a Can continues its three-year residency at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Last season, with MIT as a leading partner, the Bang on a Can All-Stars anchored two critically acclaimed Boston-area performances: Evan Ziporyn’s enchanting opera A House in Baliat the Cutler Majestic Theater and MIT’s New Music Marathon. Fueled by the creative energy that resulted, MIT will host the Bang on a Can All-Stars from October 2011 through April 2012 in monthly visits by the ensemble to the MIT campus for a wide range of artistic, educational, and performance activities.

The residency includes two landmark concerts at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. The Boston-area premiere of Julia Wolfe’s folk ballad Steel Hammer, featuring the All-Stars with the Norwegian vocal ensemble Trio Mediaeval, will be on November 12, 2011. Premiered to critical acclaim, Steel Hammer is a new setting of numerous competing versions telling the story of the timeless Appalachian legend of John Henry and his struggle against the steam engine. The work was runner-up for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize and stretches the standard instrumentation of Bang on a Can All-Stars with wooden bones, mountain dulcimer, banjo, and more, to evoke the rich instrumental colors of Appalachia. The concert will also include the Boston-area premiere of Timber, an explosive new percussion work by Michael Gordon scored for six graduated wooden Simantras – Greek liturgical percussion instruments introduced originally into the concert world by composer Iannis Xenakis. On March 10, 2012, MIT and Bang on a Can will offer a program of new works including Steve Reich’s recently composed double rock quintet, 2x5, scored for two sets of two electric guitars, electric bass, piano, and drums.

On January 17, 2012 at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, presented as part of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella series, the Bang on a Can All-Stars will join forces with percussionist Steven Schick (one of the original members of the All-Stars) and his group red fish, blue fish on a program titled “2x5+18” featuring the West Coast premiere of Steve Reich’s 2x5 alongside the all-time Reich classic, Music for 18 Musicians. Reich’s Clapping Music(performed by the composer himself with the All-Stars’ percussionist David Cossin) and Piano/Video Phase, Cossin’s video-enhanced arrangement of Piano Phase for electronic percussion and video, will complete the concert. Music for 18 Musicians also anchors the All-Stars’ performance the following night,January 18, at the University of California, San Diego.

Bang on a Can’s newest project Field Recordings is set to premiere in March 2012 (venue to be announced shortly), featuring specially commissioned music by Tyondai Braxton, Mira Calix, Michael Gordon, David Lang, Christian Marclay, Julia Wolfe, Nick Zammuto of The Books, and Evan Ziporyn. Each composer has been asked to find and interact with material recorded before – found sound, images, ideas, and voices. Field Recordings is about memory, the ghosts of sound and voices from the past, and is a new touring and recording project for the Bang on a Can All-Stars for the 2012-13 season and beyond.


Summer 2012 brings Bang on a Can’s signature Bang on a Can Marathon at the World Financial Center Winter Garden in New York in June, and its three-week Summer Music Festival at MASS MoCA in North Adams in July. (Details will be announced in the spring.)

Lincoln Trio Spotlights Six Female Composers on Debut CD Notable Women to be released on Cedille on August 30th

August 19th Ravinia Performance to Launch New Album Live performance on Chicago's WFMT Impromptu on August 17th

On August 30th, the Cedille label will release Notable Women, the Lincoln Trio’s first full-length CD with a program of works by six contemporary female composers — rising stars as well as established names. The trio, international ambassadors of the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL, will perform the repertoire on the recording at Ravinia in Bennett Gordon Hall at 6pm on Friday, August 19th. After this concert the Lincoln Trio will participate in a post-concert CD signing where concertgoers can purchase the album prior to the public release date.

On the album, the Lincoln Trio, presents the world-premiere recordings of Lera Auerbach’s Trio for violin, cello, and piano; Stacy Garrop’s Seven for piano trio; Laura Elise Schwendinger’s C’è la Luna Questa Sera?; and Joan Tower’s Trio Cavany. Rounding out the program are Augusta Read Thomas’s Moon Jig and Jennifer Higdon’s Piano Trio.

Founded in 2003, the Lincoln Trio are ensemble in residence at the Music Institute of Chicago. Members of the trio are violinist Desirée Ruhstrat, cellist David Cunliffe, and pianist Marta Aznavoorian.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Deutsche Grammophon Presents the Debut Recording of Austrian Pianist Ingolf Wunder, Available September 13

A Prize-Winner at the Recent International Chopin Competition, Wunder Gives an All-Chopin Recital

The International Chopin Piano Competition has a long history of awarding prizes to pianists who go on to have major international careers. In addition, record labels have always shown interest in the competition and an award has many times helped propel an artist into the recording studio. Austrian pianist Ingolf Wunder is just such an artist having placed second at the most recent competition in 2010 and who now makes his Deutsche Grammophon debut with a recital of Chopin works for solo piano, available September 13 on CD, LP and as a download.

Ingolf Wunder’s refined playing and extraordinary technique has been recognized in concerts and at competitions around the world. Prior to the Chopin Competition, Wunder had taken top prizes in Turin (European Music), Hamburg (Steinway), Feldkirch (“Prima la musica”), Asti (Concours Musical de France), Casarza (“VI Trofeo Internazionale”) and Budapest (Liszt) and he had already given concerts around the world. Wunder took second prize at the 2010 Chopin Competition as well as the audience award and prizes for the best performance of the Polonaise-Fantasy op. 61 and of a Concerto. In reviewing the competition, The Telegraph stated that “Wunder produced the most exquisitely poised Chopin sound, characterised by bel canto elegance, and it is hard to imagine a finer account of the Polonaise-Fantasie than his in Warsaw.”

Deutsche Grammophon eagerly signed Wunder as an exclusive artist and now, like many of his predecessors, presents his debut recital of all-Chopin works. Previous second prize winners of the Chopin Competition who have also recorded for Universal include Vladimir Ashkenazy and Mitsuko Uchida – impressive company which Wunder has now joined. Other prize winning artists who have recorded for Universal’s labels include Adam Harasiewicz, Maurizio Pollini, Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Yundi Li and Rafał Blechacz.

Wunder, who is not a fan of competitions, had decided that after intensively studying with Adam Harasiewicz he would enter the competition not in order to win but because he had worked so hard on Chopin. The outcome of that decision changed the course of Wunder’s career and has brought his performances to a wider audience.