. Interchanging Idioms: December 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Music Innovation vs Music Perfection

I think in 21st century terms. My music is 21st century music.
But am I an innovator or a perfecter of the art form?

There is an interesting anomaly in the way humans think. Concepts we consider common-place are actually elements we have been developing over centuries of thinkers and provocative thought. For example, personal faith, the concept of GOD as an individual communicator has it's roots in the Confessions of St Augustine. The very way he describes his personal relationship with GOD is unique in world literature, yet paved the way for massive tomes on the topic.

Before you get too incensed feeling as though you have always had a personal relationship with GOD and have never read the writings of St Augustine, this example is based how humans transmit concepts from one to another. Someone comes up with an original thought (rare, but it does happen), and they write it down. Someone else reads the thought, causing them to ponder and eventually accept the concept. They then write something extrapolating on the idea. Before you know it, the idea has been read and discussed by thousands (or millions) of people and is generally considered accepted practice or common-sense. So, before St Augustine wrote down his confessions, people might have had a concept of a personal relationship with GOD, but it wasn't common-place. However, the concept in the Confessions seemed so natural that now practically everyone feels as though their relationship with GOD is a personal one. The concept has been transmitted through the ages to become common-place.

Literature has similar examples. Fantasy was pretty much an unknown genre until Tolkien wrote "Lord of the Rings." JRR Tolkein didn't invent elves, or wizards, but what he did with his book was innovate a genre that is now a huge portion of modern fiction. IMHO it isn't the best example of fiction writing. Many authors have come along and written better fantasy books, but Tolkien will justifiably live on as the Father of the genre. Now, Young Adult fiction is all the rage. Before JK Rowling, it was a small segment of the literary world, a sort of bastard step-child to "real" literature. But "Harry Potter" showed what it could really do in terms of popularity and earning potential. Rowling perfected the art form.

What of music -who are the innovators and who are the perfecters? Some anonymous composer decided to write two melodies in harmony way back in the early days of written music. Someone else decided to add a third line, a fourth. Some of these composers, like Machaut, wrote in this new style better than others. They weren't necessarily innovating a new concept - other composers were writing in the same style. What composers like Machaut did was write better than any else had ever done, thereby cementing the style.

One aspect of Machaut's music is the way he approaches a cadence, generally from oblique or opposite direction in the upper and lower voice. This is pretty common practice now taught as a "rule" in basic music theory. But in the 14th Century most composers approached from the same direction. Was Machaut an innovator? No, not really. There were other composers who did the same, just not nearly as well or as consistent.

Moving forward to J.S. Bach, plenty of composers wrote counterpoint, but Bach is considered the Master. Why? because he did it better than anyone else. He wasn't first (not by a long shot --he studied the same counterpoint book Mozart did to learn the technique). What Bach did was master it, to do it better than anyone else ever had. He set the bar.

Much the same can be said of Mozart. He didn't really write in a style different than his peers, but what he wrote was so much better that he stands out as the pinnacle of the classical music era. Haydn was an innovator, developing concepts like the Symphony and the string quartet. There were styles he borrowed from to create his ideas, but Haydn is considered the Father of these musical forms. Haydn was an innovator; Mozart was a perfecter.


So, let's move to the present day. There is a lot of talk in the classical music world about "moving music forward." Ok, we're talking about innovators. Schoenberg was an innovator; Cage was an innovator. These composers did things that created new concepts in musical thought, changing the way we think about music, sound and composition. What about John Adams or Philip Glass? Are they innovators or perfecters? I think they'd both like to consider themselves innovators, creating something new in the way we think about music. Certainly both were at the cutting edge of minimalist music, but is this really a new style or a perfecting of styles already in existence?

The concept of a ground bass, or a repetitive figure carrying through the music is nothing new. Listen to Pachelbel's Canon in D for perhaps the most famous example. What Glass and Adams have done is take this concept and extend it in new directions, creating new (yes, new) ways of thinking about it. But it is really just the same thing, reworked for a modern age. I believe both of these composers will be "remembered" by future generations, much like Bach and Mozart are remembered, as being examples of what great music can be.


Thinking about myself, I'm not an innovator. Maybe I have new ideas, but what I hear in my head isn't music I think is ground breaking. It isn't innovation like what the Second Viennese school accomplished in the early 20th century. However, I do strive to perfect what I'm hearing, pulling in concepts from various music worlds into a single piece, melding them into something better than what's been done before.

Yes, I believe there is room for innovators. The world needs to have new thoughts and ideas, to ponder them and then accept or reject them as we progress. But we also need perfecters, people who will take these ideas and really hone to them to show what they can be. Both have value, both can be remembered for what they bring to our world --art.

Martin Luther King Jr. concerts & Peacemakers world premiere Jan 15-16

Distinguished Concerts International New York Presents a weekend of concert in honor of the Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Psalms & Songs for the New Year
An Afternoon of Beautiful & Inspirational Choral Works
Sunday, January 15 at 2:00pm ~ Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center
The Peacemakers
WORLD PREMIERE by Karl Jenkins
Over 300 musicians join together for the first world premiere of major work by Karl Jenkins to take place in the US, featuring text by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Monday, January 16 at 7:00pm ~ Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium

Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) presents two sublime concerts of choral music on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, inspired by Dr. King and peacemakers the world over. The concert on Sunday, January 15 at 2pm at Avery Fisher Hall welcomes 2012 with Psalms & Songs for the New Year, featuring John Rutter’s magnificent and emotionally-charged Mass of the Children, Leonard Bernstein’s colourful Chichester Psalms, and Gloria by Randol Bass, with Guest Conductor James M. Meaders. The following evening, Monday, January 16 at 7pm at Carnegie Hall, DCINY presents the world premiere of The Peacemakers by Karl Jenkins, the most performed living classical composer in the world. Over 300 musicians will come together under the baton of Mr. Jenkins to perform this new major work for adult choir, two children`s choirs and orchestra with solo instrumentalists, offering inspiration and solace for a time in need of both. The works weaves together texts from several of the greatest peacemakers throughout history, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, The Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, as well as words from the Bible and the Qu’ran.

Completed in 2003, John Rutter’s Mass of the Children features the much-loved composer’s signature flowing melodies and soaring vocal lines, opening and closing with Bishop Thomas Ken’s morning and evening hymns for the Scholars of Winchester College. Commissioned in 1965 by the Dean of Chichester, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms draws Hebrew texts from six different psalms, contrasting spiritual austerity with impulsive rhythms in a contemplation of peace. Randol Bass’ Gloria, premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1990, uses multi-metric rhythmic patterns, while combining moments of bittersweet lyricism and fanfare for brass.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Violinst Nigel Armstrong Makes LA Chamber Orch Debut - Mostly Mozart Concert-Jan 21-2

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), noted for discovering and showcasing stellar young artists early their careers, presents the dynamic and uniquely talented 21-year-old violinist Nigel Armstrong in a Mozart (Mostly) program led by LACO Principal Cello Andrew Shulman, in his LA conducting debut, on Saturday, January 21, 8 pm, at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, and Sunday, January 22, 7 pm, at UCLA’s Royce Hall. Armstrong, a finalist in the 2011 International Tchaikovsky Competition, held every four years and considered “classical music's equivalent of the Olympics” (Los Angeles Times), has been hailed as “gifted” and “blazing” (Chicago Tribune). The California native and recent graduate of The Colburn School Conservatory of Music performs Mozart’s stunning Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K. 216. This is the fist time Armstrong has performed publicly in California since being named a finalist in the prestigious competition and marks his LACO debut.

In addition, Shulman conducts Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201, and the virtuosic Sonata for Strings by British composer William Walton. Sonata for Strings, a transcription of Walton’s 1947 String Quartet in A minor, was commissioned in 1971 by Sir Neville Marriner for the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, and LACO gave the US premiere two years later under Marriner’s baton.

Regarding Walton’s piece Shulman notes, “It’s a work I’ve known since my early student days. I recorded it in its original version for string quartet in the 1990s with my Britten String Quartet. The Academy and Neville made a stellar recording of Sonata for Strings in 1972 with Walton, himself, present at the sessions. He and Neville made a few changes that have been handed down through the decades. I've gathered them all for this performance with LACO. It’s a tremendous piece. The first movement swings between gorgeous, melancholic lyricism and jagged, emotional rhythmic outbursts. The second is a fast, tense, incredibly virtuosic scherzo, incorporating jete (bounced bow) and col legno (with the wood of the bow) bowing and trills. The third is a beautiful slow movement with heart wrenching violin, viola and cello solos. The final movement is a wild ride, incorporating what were at that time mold-breaking, almost rock-like rhythmic undercurrents, ending with five 16th notes played, in a flash, by the entire orchestra in unison.”

Other Works Include Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201
and Walton’s Sonata for Strings

Saturday, January 21, 2012, 8 pm (Alex Theatre)
Sunday, January 22, 2012, 7 pm (Royce Hall – UCLA)

St. Louis Symphony Presents the Movie Music of John Williams

Music from Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark Included in Dec. 29 & 30 Concerts

His works are etched on our collective memories—now the Movie Music of John Williams is coming to Powell Hall December 29 and 30.

Williams composed such classic movie scores as Star Wars, Saving Private Ryan and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and many of his most famous works will be performed by the St. Louis Symphony during the Movie Music of John Williams concerts at Powell Hall on December 29 and 30. Music Director David Robertson will lead the Symphony in this celebration of some of the most beloved and recognizable movie music ever written.

As an extra treat for patrons, more than a dozen costumed characters from the Star Wars films will be stationed throughout Powell Hall during the concerts and will be available for photo opportunities.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

This Week's TOP TICKET in Denver: A Night in Vienna

Celebrate the final evening of 2011 with the Colorado Symphony at A Night in Vienna.

Ring in the New Year with this Viennese style concert featuring polkas, waltzes, and marches performed by the Colorado Symphony. Afterwards, take a stroll down to the 16th Street Mall for the fireworks display and still get home long before the clock strikes midnight.

Get Tickets Online

Denis Matsuev US Recital Appearances January 2012

World Acclaimed Pianist Visits Seattle, Los Angeles and New York City to Perform Repertoire of Schubert, Beethoven, Grieg and Stravinsky

“Mr. Matsuev, wielding his athletic virtuosity and steely power, gave a chiseled, hard-driving yet transparent performance.” The New York Times

In January 2012, Denis Matsuev returns to the United States as part of a massive world-wide tour reaching Europe, Asia, Israel and beyond. The pianist received critical acclaim for his sold-out Carnegie Hall recital in February of 2010 – an evening about which the New York Times noted, “he superbly offered a primal performance….atmosphere was electric.” In May 2011, Matsuev enjoyed another string of successful American solo appearances in Washington DC, San Francisco and Boston.

Matsuev begins the next leg of his US recital tour on January 22ndat Benaroya Hall in Seattle. From there he goes on to Los Angeles to appear at UCLA’s Royce Hall on January 24thand finishes the tour at New York City’s Carnegie Hall on January 27th. For these engagements, Matsuev’s program will include works by Schubert, Beethoven, Grieg and Stravinsky.

Luca Pisaroni Returns to Met Stage for All-Star Baroque Tableau Enchanted Island

Looks Ahead to Chicago Lyric Opera Debut as Argante in Handel's Rinaldo

Luca Pisaroni is coming off rave reviews for his performances as Leporello in the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Don Giovanni ("charismatic and compulsively watchable," according to the New York Observer). Next, the Italian bass-baritone will take another featured turn on the Met stage as Caliban, alongside Plácido Domingo and Joyce DiDonato, in The Enchanted Island – the company's freshly conceived Shakespearean tableau of music by Handel, Vivaldi, and Rameau, conducted by renowned Baroque authority William Christie (Dec 31-Jan 30). In the new year, Pisaroni makes his Chicago Lyric Opera debut, reprising his acclaimed portrayal of Argante for a new production of Handel's Rinaldo (Feb 29-March 24).

The Enchanted Island is the Met's version of the Baroque tradition of pasticcio – a light pastiche of operatic snippets woven into a dazzling tableau, this time with the lovers from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream stranded on his otherworldly island of The Tempest. Along with Pisaroni as Caliban, the cast features Domingo as Neptune and DiDonato as Sycorax, as well as Danielle de Niese as Ariel and David Daniels as Prospero. The new production's director and librettist is Jeremy Sams, with design by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch (who created the Met's staging of Philip Glass's Satyagraha). To Pisaroni, portraying Caliban is a unique theatrical opportunity: "Portraying the ‘bad guy’ is always satisfying, and Caliban is a monster, so I will have to push my acting skills to the limit," he says. "And even if the music is from the Baroque period, I'm excited to get the opportunity to sing in a ‘world premiere’."

When Pisaroni played another "bad guy" at Glyndebourne this summer – Argante in Rinaldo, his debut in the role – the U.K.'s Telegraph declared that the singer was "at the top of his game" as the treacherous Saracen king. Pisaroni says, "I am thrilled to make my Chicago Lyric Opera debut as Argante – it is one of the most vocally challenging bass-baritone roles in the entire Baroque repertoire. The famous entrance aria ‘Sibilar gli angui’ contains an incredible – almost disturbing – number of high notes. And the second aria, ‘Vieni, o cara’ – which happens almost immediately after the first – forces the singer to show both sides of Argante’s personality: a warrior and king in one moment, a passionate and almost insecure lover in the next."

Monday, December 26, 2011

Danielle de Niese Beauty of the Baroque out on Decca Jan 10th

Danielle de Niese’s third Decca album, Beauty of the Baroque is released as the soprano stars in the world premiere of Enchanted Island at the Metropolitan Opera

With her third solo album, soprano Danielle de Niese embodies the Beauty of the Baroque with an album of treasured arias from the English, German, and Italian traditions to be released by Decca on January 10th, 2012. She is accompanied by leading European Baroque orchestra, The English Concert under Harry Bicket, a conductor whom De Niese calls “a musician’s musician” who “gives you wings to fly.” Danielle de Niese is also joined by renowned countertenor Andreas Scholl for duets including Monteverdi’s ravishing duet “Pur ti miro.” The album, already released in the UK in summer of 2011, has garnered four star reviews, and was hailed by The Independent, The Sunday Times and The Telegraph praising de Niese’s “vivacity and fresh-toned sweetness” and describing the program as a “charming recital that shows this popular soprano at her best." Beauty of the Baroque follows de Niese’s award-winning Decca debut of Handel arias released in 2007 and the Mozart album which came out to 2009 to critical and audience acclaim.

The Australian-American soprano Danielle de Niese grew up singing Purcell and Bach and as a teenager seeking out music suited to her youthful instrument, she was attracted to the melodic beauty and the orchestral sparseness typical of the Baroque style. So this is repertoire both beloved and deeply familiar to the soprano. On this album, the most celebrated arias like Handel’s “Ombra mai fu” and excerpts from from Bach’s "Wedding Cantata" are contrasted with intimate melodies by Purcell and Dowland, as well as much loved Italian songs and sacred works by Monteverdi and Pergolesi.

On December 31st, Danielle de Niese bows at New York’s Metropolitan Opera starring as Ariel in the world premiere production of Enchanted Island, a ground-breaking new Baroque pastiche opera with music by Handel, Vivaldi and Rameau. The original libretto is drawn from Shakespeare by Jeremy Sams and the opera will be conducted by William Christie. De Niese will perform alongside Plácido Domingo, David Daniels and Joyce di Donato. On January 23rd, de Niese will perform repertoire from Beauty of the Baroque at New York’s (Le) Poisson Rouge in the West Village. After her Met engagement concludes, Danielle de Niese heads out to Southern California to make another big role debut, starring as Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale at the San Diego Opera, opening March 10th.

As Thomas Hampson’s “Song of America” Radio Series Takes Off, Baritone Returns to US for Concerts

As his 13-week “Song of America” radio series fans out successfully across the American airwaves, Thomas Hampson returns to the US for a series of high-profile concerts, recitals and a company role debut at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, all featuring signature repertoire. He begins by collaborating for the first time with Gustavo Dudamel, with whom he will perform Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (Jan 13-15). “Song of America” recitals, with pianist Craig Rutenberg, follow at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (Jan 22), and in Clinton, MS (Jan 24), Nashville, TN (Jan 26) and Sarasota, FL (Jan 30). Hampson then teams up with Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for Brahms’s Requiem and Dvorák’s Bible Songs (Feb 3-5), before heading to New York for his company role debut as Verdi’s Macbeth at the Metropolitan Opera (six performances March 15 – April 9).

Hampson’s “Song of America” project reached a new high this fall with the introduction of a 13-week “Song of America” radio series. The project – which began as a collaboration with the Library of Congress, presenting recitals and outreach activities – has taken Hampson to cities across America, presenting his explorations of both beloved and unjustly neglected music that, in his words, “says everything about the culture we call American.” Conceived and developed by Hampson, the new radio series is syndicated by the WFMT Radio Network of Chicago to public radio stations across the country. Each hour-long program – narrated by Hampson – focuses on a particular topic that sheds light on a larger theme in American history, and includes approximately 40 minutes of songs drawn from archival and modern recordings, plus stories and insights about the people and events that inspired those songs.

While many stations began airing the series in the fall, it will also be heard on many additional stations starting in 2012, including WQXR 105.9 FM in New York, which will broadcast the programs on Sundays at 9 pm, starting on January 8. The series, which was made possible by the Hampsong Foundation and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, will also be offered to members of the European Broadcasting Union and to stations in other countries around the world. A list of the 208 stations and translators participating thus far is available at www.songofamerica.net/radio, which also houses various online resources to complement the 13 programs.

Stations already airing the series have been enormously pleased with the responses they have received from listeners (some of whose comments appear under a separate heading below), and programmers have offered their own words of praise. Caitriona Bolster, Music Director for KWAX-FM in Eugene Oregon, comments: "This is a series that should be required listening for anyone interested in American social and cultural history, literature, and music. Thomas Hampson does a superb job of bringing the past to life with a directness and passion that are irresistible.”

Stephen Costello Makes House Role Debut as Alfredo in La traviata at London’s Royal Opera House on January 2

A prodigiously gifted singer whose voice makes an immediate impact.”– Associated Press

“Stephen Costello stole the show,” reported the Guardian when Stephen Costello made his 2009 house debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and Spectator magazine was moved to predict: “Stephen Costello will be a big star.” Now the American tenor returns to the fabled London venue for his company role debut as Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata. His five appearances (Jan 2–20) come in a revival of Richard Eyre’s celebrated staging, with Maurizio Benini on the podium. For the first three performances, Costello’s Violetta is Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho; for the final pair, he is rejoined by Anna Netrebko, with whom he recently made waves in the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere production of Anna Bolena.

Costello and Netrebko’s first appearance together in Donizetti’s tragedy was at the Met’s season-opening Anna Bolena this past fall. The Associated Press noted, “As the hapless Percy, Anna’s former lover – and possibly husband – tenor Stephen Costello sang with fervent lyricism and coped extremely well with the many daunting high notes in the role.” The New York Times called the tenor “gifted and game” and praised his “impetuous and ardent singing,” while the Wall Street Journal observed, “Stephen Costello has the kind of voice that sets the audience – even at a dress rehearsal – atwitter.” The singer himself comments, “Doing a production with [Netrebko] really helps you with your own character development; her high standard of performance really helps you bring more to the table.”

After their London engagement, the two return to the Met to reprise their starring roles in Anna Bolena for two performances in February.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jurowski's Mahler Symphony No. 2 on the LPO Label receives Praise from Gramophone

"Jurowski wipes the floor with the recent Rattle and Jansons accounts and is probably now the prime recommendation, the "library" choice, that has for so long eluded us." Gramophone Magazine Recording of the Month, August 2011

"As engaging as it gets" BBC Music Magazine *****

2012 Arts in Society Conference, Art and Design Academy, Liverpool, UK, 23-25 July - Call for Papers

23-25 July 2012
Art and Design Academy, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK

Art and Design Academy announces the Call-for-Papers for the Seventh International Conference on the Arts in Society. The conference and its companion journal provide a scholarly platform for discussions of the arts and art practices, enabling an interdisciplinary conversation on the role of the arts in society. They are intended as a place for critical engagement, examination and experimentation of ideas that connect the arts to their contexts in the world - in studios and classrooms, in galleries and museums, on stage, on the streets and in communities.

In addition to an impressive line-up of international plenary speakers, the conference will also include paper presentations, roundtable discussions, workshop and interactive presentations, poster or exhibit sessions, and colloquia submitted by practitioners, teachers and researchers. Please refer to the Call-for-Papers for proposal submission guidelines and descriptions of sessions. Presenters may also choose to submit written papers for publication in the fully refereed International Journal of the Arts in Society. If you are unable to attend the conference in person, virtual registrations are also available which allow you to submit a paper for refereeing and possible publication in this fully refereed academic journal.

The host city of Liverpool celebrated its 800th birthday in 2007 and, throughout its history, has stood at the center of many of the world's trades, inventions, and cultural innovations. As a world port city, Liverpool boasts a diverse population, drawing from its many peoples, cultures, and religions, and in celebration of this history, Liverpool was named a European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Amadeus Press publishes "Michael Rabin: America’s Virtuoso Violinist" by Anthony Feinstein

Michael Rabin: America’s Virtuoso Violinist (Amadeus Press, $22.99) by Anthony Feinstein is the poignant story of the life and career of one of history’s greatest violinists.

As a child prodigy, Rabin had the classical music world at his feet. Notable successes included a coveted EMI contract, recording the soundtrack for an Elizabeth Taylor movie, and guest appearances on “The Milton Berle Show” and “ The Bell Telephone Hour.” But, no sooner had Rabin taken his place alongside such illustrious contemporaries as Heifetz, Milstein, and Stern than he abruptly and inexplicably disappeared from the concert stage. For three years, the public saw and heard little of him. In the mid-1960s, Rabin resurfaced and painstakingly began rebuilding a once-great career. Then one morning, in January 1972, the music world awoke to news of his sudden, mysterious death at age 35.

For the first edition of this biography, Feinstein had unprecedented access to Rabin’s private papers and medical history. In this revised and updated edition, he draws on additional material obtained from recent interviews with Rabin’s colleagues, friends, and management. The result is an added appreciation of Rabin’s remarkable family, his cloistered upbringing, and his micromanaged career that ensured not only great success, but also periods of great despair.

More than the story of a great violinist, Michael Rabin: America’s Virtuoso Violinist is also the moving account of a man of rare talent who never stopped battling to find personal happiness on that fragile journey from wunderkind to adulthood.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Houston Grand Opera Brings Recognition to UNESCO-Protected Mariachi with Opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna

"A tremendous and moving work of exceptional melodic beauty." — Classical TV

After last December's premiere run in Houston of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, the world’s first mariachi opera, the Houston Chronicle called the piece "a bold first-time fusion" that "succeeded on all fronts." With the November announcement by UNESCO that mariachi has been added to its World Heritage List, Cruzar is now at the forefront of the effort to gain international recognition for this vibrant genre of music. Those who were not able to see the September performances of Cruzar at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris will be able to experience the work stateside, in performances to be announced soon. More immediately, the Albany Records album of Cruzar is available on CD and in digital form.

Commissioned by Houston Grand Opera through its "Song of Houston: Mexico 2010" project (in celebration of the anniversaries of Mexican independence and revolution), Cruzar la Cara de la Luna chronicles three generations of a family divided by countries and cultures, depicting the emotional-spiritual connection to one’s country of origin; the challenges of being a stranger in a strange land; and the very nature of home that is at the heart of the immigrant experience. Acclaimed Broadway director Leonard Foglia wrote the libretto, and the score is by José “Pepe” Martínez. The CD of Cruzar features Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán – the world's top mariachi ensemble, led by Martínez – along with mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte as Renata (praised by the Houston Chronicle for her "intensity and conviction") and baritone Octavio Moreno as Laurentino (hailed as "warm and sympathetic").

Scottish Chamber Orchestra in January - Emannanuelle Haim, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Ticciati & Ligeti

SCO welcomes in the New Year in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care
Handel Water Music and Rameau with Emmanuelle Haïm
Pierre-Laurent Aimard performs Brahms Piano Concerto No 2
Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati celebrates the music of György Ligeti, with associated study day

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra welcomes in 2012 with a traditional Viennese New Year concert, in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. A Night in Old Vienna is conducted by Nicholas McGegan, a favourite with SCO audiences. The programme includes much-loved waltzes, polkas and marches by the Strauss family, including The Blue Danube, Champagne Polka and the Radetzky March. Young soprano Elena Xanthoudakis, recipient of a 2011 Borletti-Buitoni Award and already a regular at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, joins McGegan and the Orchestra to perform arias from Viennese operetta. The concert takes place on 1 January 2012 at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall, before heading to Dumfries, Ayr and Perth (3, 4 & 5 January).

Baroque specialist Emmanuelle Haïm returns to the SCO to direct a programme of music by Handel and Rameau, including suites from the former’s popular Water Music and a work he wrote in Italy in his youth: his showpiece cantata about classical love, Delirio Amoroso, with Swedish soprano Camilla Tilling. Haïm and Tilling join the SCO at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall on 12 January, Glasgow’s City Halls on 13 January, and Aberdeen Music Hall on 14 January.

Robin Ticciati gives his first SCO concerts of 2012 in two consecutive weeks in late January; both featuring a work by Hungarian György Ligeti, a seminal figure in 20th century music – regarded by Ticcciati as “one of the most influential composers of the 20th century; a voice we believe in, who creates an extraordinary sound world.” On 20 January (Glasgow City Halls) and 21 January (Edinburgh Queen’s Hall), Ticciati conducts the composer’s Hamburg Concerto, which pays tribute to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, with SCO Principal Horn Alec Frank-Gemmill as soloist. In this concert, Ticciati frames Ligeti’s work with popular favourites from Central Europe by Kodály and Dvořák.

The following week in Edinburgh (Usher Hall, 26 January) and Glasgow (27 January), the great French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard performs Brahms’ mighty Second Piano Concerto, which the composer teasingly described as "quite a little piano concerto”. It follows a performance of Ligeti’s Chamber Concerto for 13 instruments, each movement of which has a contrasting sound world and explores a range of different compositional techniques. Its finale is a technical tour-de-force for the players, so much so that it was not attempted at the work’s UK premiere.

A study day, Explore: Ligeti, led by Dr Michael Searby, author and Principal Lecturer in Music at Kingston University, offers an opportunity to take a more in-depth look at the composer’s music. Searby will be joined by Robin Ticciati and SCO musicians for the event. Dr Searby also gives pre-concert talks before the performances on 20 and 21 January.

This Week's TOP TICKET in Denver: Limited View Seats - $35 for Bugs Bunny at the Symphony

Colorado Symphony has limited and obstructed view seats left for Bugs Bunny at the Symphony. While you may not see the movie screens, you'll still get a view of the musicians and will delight in hearing your favorite Looney Tunes!

Warner Bros. presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, the celebrated sequel to Bugs Bunny on Broadway, features a new fusion of on-screen Looney Tunes with live Colorado Symphony accompaniment. Spotlighting original classics and an enlarged “cast” of Warner Bros. animated characters and cartoons, this is a great opportunity to expose the younger generation to the classical music and classic animation you treasured as a child.

Warner Bros. Presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony

FRI 12/30 - 7:30 p.m.
Boettcher Concert Hall

Monday, December 19, 2011

On December 26, medici.tv Offers a Free Full Day of Viewing – Plus Holiday Gift Cards Are Available Now

“A seismic shift in the world of classical music.” – Toronto Star on medici.tv

The go-to site for experiencing world-class classical performances on the Web – medici.tv – will be offering all music lovers in the U.S. an unlimited free day of viewing on December 26 of the myriad programs in the site's pay-per-view library. Much of the live programming on medici.tv is available free throughout the year, but on the day after Christmas, the pay-for-view archival programs will be free, too – as a gift to the site's fans and new friends. What's available on medici.tv now includes more opera than ever before – including acclaimed productions from the UK and Paris with such top stars as Jonas Kaufmann, Natalie Dessay, and Gerald Finley. There are also live Webcasts of top-tier orchestral concerts, vocal performances, and chamber recitals, along with vintage documentaries and music films – including the much-lauded Christopher Nupen catalog. For the holiday season, medici.tv is also offering subscription gift cards; for three months (at $39), six months ($69), or 12 months ($119). The cards will be available for online purchase at medici.tv, to be mailed directly as gifts.

Two live Webcasts just announced for this month present Russian classics and the French Baroque. On December 15 at 2 pm EST, France's Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse makes its debut on medici.tv, with Music Director Tugan Sokhiev. The nascent, rising star conductor will lead the orchestra in Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture, as well as Mussorgsky's Songs and Dances of Death with the great Russian mezzo-soprano Olga Borodina (in her first collaboration with the Toulouse orchestra). Rounding out the program is Brahms's Symphony No. 1. On December 16 at 2 p.m. EST, Paul Agnew will lead Les Arts Florissants in Monteverdi's Madrigals, Book II as part of this peerless Baroque ensemble's complete Monteverdi madrigal series.

Houston Grand Opera Commissions Two Chamber Operas in Its East + West Initiative for Premieres in 2012

One Focusing on City's Vibrant Iranian Community, Another on Its Cambodian Community

As part of HGOco's cross-cultural East + West initiative, Houston Grand Opera has commissioned two chamber operas to be premiered in spring and summer 2012. The first, The Bricklayer, focuses on Houston's vibrant Iranian community, with a libretto by Iranian-American writer Farnoosh Moshiri and music by composer Gregory Spears. This piece will debut March 15, 2012, with a run of three to five performances at the Wortham Center's Cullen Theater. The second East + West commission, New Arrivals, centers on Houston's Cambodian community, with a libretto by playwright Catherine Filloux and music by composer John Glover. HGO plans to perform this work four times in June 2012.

For its East + West programs, HGOco spotlights communities and cultures having vital, active presences in Houston. The Iranian community is just such a community, with Persian culture in Houston widely celebrated. Librettist Farnoosh Moshiri is a renowned author of award-winning novels, short stories, and anthologies. Moshiri's personal journey from Iran to the United States – and particularly, Houston – makes her voice a prime mover of The Bricklayer. The opera tells the story of an aging couple who choose exile following the execution of their son by the theocratic regime in Iran. Shattered by grief, they begin to heal and find hope in a new life with their daughter and granddaughter in Houston. Composer Gregory Spears, an innovative young composer whose catalog includes several works relevant to the scope of East + West, will draw on both Western and Iranian styles of music for the score.

Spears says that "the dramatic juxtaposition of ‘East + West’ is a theme that dominates my favorite 20th-century operas. Madama Butterfly and Nixon in China immediately come to mind... I love that our idea is both a response to Houston's Asian community and yet rooted in operatic tradition. I find articulating a sensibility of cultural ‘in-between-ness’ or ‘both-ness’ (i.e., Iranian-American) musically and intellectually inspiring – it’s both operatic and intrinsically American. In a sense, our collaborative process itself models how people from different cultures work together to build common ground artistically. And the East + West project seems to underline the fact that opera, at its heart, is about bringing people together – artists, audiences, traditions."

The subject of HGOco's Cambodian-themed chamber opera, New Arrivals, by Catherine Filloux and John Glover will be Houston’s own Yani Rose Keo, a Cambodian refugee who heads the Alliance for Multicultural Community Services. The Alliance helps refugees, immigrants, and low-income residents become self-sufficient and improve the quality of their lives. A 2000 Houston Press article stated: “Yani [Rose] Keo flies under the radar of most Houstonians. But if you’re a refugee or an Asian-American leader, you know how important she is.” The libretto tells of Yani Rose Keo sitting on a plane, haunted by the empty seats around her. “How will I survive?” she asks. When a Nepalese farmer, a Nigerian orphan, and a lost boy from Sudan join Yani on the plane, her desire to help refugees like herself catalyzes, and they all soar toward a new life in Houston.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Interview with pianist Alice Sara Ott

The soloist talks about Liszt, Beethoven, audiences, and her choice of footwear

German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott is sort of a dark-horse among the classical stars (At least here in the US), but she does have a few things going that allow for her to get a bit more exposure. For starters, she was tapped to step in and replace Lang Lang for a concert at London's Barbican with Daniel Harding and the LSO last year. The Guardian's Tim Ashley describes it so sweetly:

Liszt's Concerto plays fast and loose with form, jettisoning traditional movements in favour of evolving thematic development. The soloist, replacing Lang Lang at short notice, was Alice Sara Ott, who gave the kind of gawp-inducing bravura performance of which legends are made. The heft of her playing contrasts with the elegance of her platform manner. Harding's conducting was all monumentality and fire – it felt a bit superhuman, as Liszt always should--Tim Ashley, The Guardian

This plus the lady performs barefoot with symphony orchestras! Now that's a scoop!

CM: Alice, can you please talk about your musical upbringing? What age did you start and when and where did your musical identity begin to truly take hold?

ASO: When I was three years old my parents took me to a piano recital and the only thing I can remember is that I was so impressed by the expression of the music. At that age I couldn't express myself the way I wanted because of my poor vocabulary and I thought that music is a language which even a little girl like me could understand, and I thought with speaking this language I could make everybody understand my feelings. So I told my mother after the concert that I want to become a pianist. She didn't want that, so I had to fight for my dream until she finally gave in one year later and I got my first piano lesson at the age of four. I don't know when exactly my musical identity began to truly take hold, but from the first moment I felt that music was the only language which gave me the ability to express everything I want.

CM: Your interpretations of Liszt are quite remarkable. I noticed that in one particular interview you said you had been playing Liszt's music since you were 8 years old, and you explained that many people in Europe don't understand Liszt because they think he's all about virtuosity and no depth, but you believe his depth is "between the notes and behind the notes". I just want to say I'm really glad that you said this! Do you think that once people have heard something of his in its entirety that they somehow have a change of heart?

ASO: If the audience leaves the hall with the feeling that Liszt's music is only based on superficiality and virtuosity, in my eyes the performer has failed. I believe that if we artists understand the message of his music and are able to transmit it to the audience, [they] will also understand it.

CM: I love the Transcendental Studies and the Piano Concerto #1 as well. Any plans to record/perform the other Liszt Concertos?

ASO: I will play both piano concertos and the Totentanz next year, but so far there are no plans to record them.

CM: Is it true that playing the piano in the dark relieves stress?

ASO: This is actually funny, because I have said this once in an interview and since then everybody is always asking me about it! :) It sounds a bit cheesy, but yes, sometimes it is nice to play in the dark, because I only can concentrate on listening without getting visually distracted.

CM: Your current CD is Beethoven, and those interpretations are just as wonderful. Do you find that Beethoven continues to reveal something new to you to this day as an artist?

ASO: I think that every pianist comes to a point when he needs to deal with Beethoven's music. I have spent half of my (so far short) life with those two sonatas and I thought it would make sense to leave them as a "fingerprint". they just express my way through the past ten years. I am sure that already now I am playing many things different, but I am also sure that there will be things I will doing exactly the same way in twenty years.

CM: I haven't had the pleasure of seeing you perform live yet, but of course, I've been reading about the fact that you perform barefoot in concert--Something that is actually quite normal in the rock and roll world (I used to perform this way as a singer/songwriter quite a few times--It seemed to spur a more confident performance for me), but perhaps not so much for classical, (but I'm not complaining). In this country, the press seemed to get all excited about Yuja Wang's wardrobe for its shortness. What is your take on this? Would you say in the end it doesn't matter what people say about dresses or shoes (or the lack of them), and it's just people getting bent out of shape?

ASO: I respect and adore Yuja a lot as a musician. I think everybody needs to know what [one] does and what not, where your limits are, and to feel comfortable. I play barefoot because I am always barefoot at home and it just feels good on stage. Anyway in the end it only matters if you are able to express something in the music--otherwise you get replaceable, since nowadays millions of young good looking people can play an instrument.

CM: So, you are of both German and Japanese descent, and you speak both of those and the English language quite fluently! Are there any other languages you are interested in learning?

ASO: I was trying to teach myself Russian for a while, but after about half a year I unfortunately gave up...now I am learning French. Let's see how far that goes :)

CM: Any dream projects you would like to share?

ASO: One day I want to have my own music festival in Kyoto…. :)

Nick Vasallo to release new CD Momuments Emerge with Innova Recordings

Kick Starter Campaign started to help fund the project

Innova Recordings is planning on releasing a CD of my new works entitled Monuments Emerge (nearly 70 minutes of music composed between 2007 and 2011). This is not only a rare and wonderful opportunity for me but all the musicians involved as well. With the state of classical music today, not to mention new art music, this is not intended as a lucrative endeavor. This is purely from a let's get the music heard standpoint. Although Nick is a relatively unknown composer, this recording will help get his music to more listeners than he might otherwise reach.

Even a single dollar will help tremendously! Please consider being a part of this meaningful project.

Your contribution will not only nurture the growth of American New Music - which is an integral aspect for the progress of art, but it will also help promote the idea of cross pollination and the beauty which stems from combining different entities; a truly American ideal of a heterogeneous mixture melting into a harmonious whole. In Monuments Emerge, you will hear musical eclecticism - elements from modern art music combined with my love for taiko, metal, noise, post-rock, and math.

Listen to some excerpts from the album

Don't be Afraid of the Word No. Artists prefer NO to Nothing

For those organizations, ensembles or performers who receive unsolicited scores, don't be afraid of giving a negative response.

This week I ran a little survey on Twitter asking three simple questions:
    How often do you send unsolicited scores to ensembles in a year
    If you send an unsolicited score, would you prefer to hear back if the ensemble does not choose to perform your work?
    Have you ever had an unsolicited score performed?

The results weren't really surprising to me, as they fell in line with what I personally felt. They also coincide with another survey done of authors about rejection notices by Janet Reid. Artists would rather hear a "no" response than nothing at all.

In my own survey, the number of composers who send scores out once or twice a year is about the same as those who send there more more. Half of the respondents don't send out unsolicited scores. I didn't ask why, but suspect composers who don't send scores out either don't feel confident in getting a response back or feel the process is a waste of time and money. Because...

92.3% of those responding would prefer to have a response even if the ensemble doesn't want to play the work. Yet, 77% of those who responded have never had an unsolicited score played. This means, the odds of getting an unsolicited score performed is not very likely and yet, half of the composers still do it.

I didn't ask the question, how often do you hear back from sending unsolicited scores. But in my own experience, a response is rare. Most organizations only provide a response if they are interested in performing the work. Great! But, as a composer, I don't know if the right person has seen it, when the person who did look at it, or if the score just ended up in the dead letter office.

It took me 3 seconds to write the words, "Thank you, but we are not interested at this time." Add another 30 seconds to type in someones email address and press the enter key and you have less than a minute to provide a simple response to a composer who spend countless hours preparing their work for your consideration.

Don't be afraid of the word "No." Composers would rather hear that than nothing at all.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Enjoy a Different Holiday Concert This Year: “Naughty & Nice,” featuring the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles Dec 17

Featuring Special Guest Melissa Manchester

The renowned Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles (GMCLA) spices up the season with two performances of its annual holiday spectacular, “Naughty & Nice,” featuring the 200-voice chorus and special guest Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, actress and composer Melissa Manchester – hailed as an “icon” (Huffington Post) and a “heart-on-her-sleeve singer-songwriter (Toronto Sun) – Saturday, December 17, 8 pm, and Sunday, December 18, 2010, 3 pm, at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. Artistic Director E. Jason Armstrong conducts a sleighful of beautifully arranged holiday classics, sing-alongs, hand bells, and special holiday fare both humorous and poignant – replete with dazzling choreography. The family-friendly concert opens GMCLA’s 2011-12 season, its 33rd.

In addition, GMCLA returns to an old tradition of holding a “Community Prelude” – a fully staged dress performance (without the guest star and fewer numbers) – on Saturday, December 17, 3 pm, at the Alex Theatre. Community Prelude tickets are $15 general admission for all seats.

Holiday spirit reigns from the first note to last with a range of classical and pop selections. Works include Jason Robert Brown’s Chanukah Suite, Albert Hague’s Mr. Grinch, Irving Berlin’s I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm, and Joyful, Joyful from the film Sister Act as well as such beloved carols as Santa Claus is Coming to Town and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. Manchester performs her hits Whenever I Call You Friend, Cradle in Bethlehem and A Mother’s Prayer. The program also features the humorous Hanukah in Santa Monica and a tongue-in-cheek take on Handel’s Messiah delivered by GMCLA’s “Malibu Monks.”

Manchester, celebrating four decades of performing, has released 16 CDs, appeared in concert halls around the world and, as an actress, has graced the silver screen and small screen as well as the stage. Among her extensive credits, Manchester wrote the musical I Sent A Letter To My Love, based on the acclaimed Bernice Rubens novel of the same name. Manchester also co-starred with Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”), in Stephen Sondheim’s musical masterpiece Sweeney Todd at The Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles, and starred in the Chicago premiere of HATS!, a new musical that contains several songs she co-wrote with Sharon Vaughn. She also composed for Disney's The Great Mouse Detective, co-wrote the score for Lady And The Tramp II, and released her sixteenth CD, When I Look Down That Road. Recently, nine of her songs were highlighted in the feature film Dirty Girl. Manchester was nominated for a Grammy in 1978 and 1979 and received the Grammy Award in 1982 for Best Female Vocalist. In 1980 she became the first artist in the history of the Academy Awards to have two nominated movie themes in a given year -- "Through The Eyes Of Love" and "The Promise" -- and made Oscar history by performing both songs during the worldwide telecast.

Saturday, December 17, 8 PM
Sunday, December 18, 2011, 3 PM
at Alex Theatre in Glendale

Christine Brewer Sings Wagner, Strauss, & Beethoven with Orchestras in San Francisco, St. Louis, & Boston

Dominant as ever in the concert hall this winter, Christine Brewer – styled “the ideal modern Wagnerian soprano” by the Los Angeles Times – joined the San Francisco Symphony and guest conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen for three concert performances of excerpts from Götterdämmerung, the closing chapter of Wagner’s monumental Ring cycle (Dec 8-10). Following her recent account of the German composer’s Wesendonck Lieder with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony, “a performance that was a model of vocal allure and musical intelligence” (South Florida Classical Review), Brewer reprises the work – coupled with Beethoven’s “Ah! perfido” – with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Ward Stare (Jan 20 & 21). She returns to Beethoven for four performances of the Missa solemnis with the Boston Symphony led by Kurt Masur, first at the orchestra’s Boston home (Feb 23-25) and then at New York’s Carnegie Hall (March 6). Early in the new year, the “superlative Strauss singer” (New York Times) assays the great late Romantic’s Four Last Songs with the St. Louis Symphony under David Robertson (Jan 13 & 14).

It was with the Missa solemnis that the Grammy Award-winning soprano helped the New York Philharmonic close out the 2009-10 season, prompting the New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini to report: “Brewer sang splendidly, floating the soaring solo lines yet bringing some Wagnerian intensity even to hushed pianissimos.” With the Boston Symphony – at both Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall – Brewer will be joined by mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, New Zealand tenor Simon O'Neill, and bass-baritone Eric Owens.

A week after her Carnegie Hall appearance, the soprano will make her much-anticipated Los Angeles Opera debut (March 14 & 17), starring in the hit Santa Fe Opera production of Albert Herring, which she headlined last season. In Santa Fe Opera’s new staging, Benjamin Britten’s comic opera proved to be “the hit of the season,” and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch praised the production’s “first-rate cast,” naming Brewer the standout star who “gave a terrific performance in every particular.” The Santa Fe New Mexican confirmed that although “Santa Fe Opera fills the leading roles with a cast that spills into the realm of the starry … the show is stolen by the soprano Christine Brewer.” At LA Opera, Brewer will be joined, as in Santa Fe, by tenor Alek Shrader in the title role, under Paul Curran’s direction. James Conlon, the company’s Music Director, will conduct.

Trinity Wall Street Takes Messiah Uptown for Debut at Lincoln Center, Then Launches Twelfth Night Festival

When Trinity Wall Street’s Director of Music and the Arts, Julian Wachner, led the resident Trinity Choir and Trinity Baroque Orchestra in Handel’s Messiah last season, the New York Times praised the performance’s “juxtaposition of serene introspection and ebullient release.” Now the same forces reprise this holiday favorite for their Lincoln Center debut at Alice Tully Hall on December 19. Trinity Wall Street’s seasonal offerings continue with the launch of the first annual Twelfth Night Festival, created in collaboration with many of New York City’s leading early-music ensembles: the Green Mountain Project, TENET, Les Sirènes, and the Sebastian Chamber Players. The festival’s inaugural season (Dec 26 – Jan 6) is framed by the six cantatas that make up J.S. Bach’s exuberant Christmas Oratorio and also includes the Vespers of 1640 by Monteverdi.

Today, Handel’s Messiah is a perennial holiday favorite that reliably draws sellout crowds. In the United States, Trinity Wall Street was instrumental in pioneering the oratorio: Trinity Wall Street presented the second American performance in 1770, and also played a part in the New World premiere, given eight months earlier and just blocks away as a fundraiser for a former Trinity Church employee. Now Wachner keeps the venerable tradition alive, supported by the Trinity Choir, with its “voices so pure they suggest a seraphic chorus beyond the human sphere” (New York Times), and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra, one of New York’s finest period-instrument ensembles. Last season, the New York Times observed:

“In his first Messiah with the superb Trinity Choir and the newly-established Trinity Baroque Orchestra, [Wachner] began to put his stamp on the work.… He succeeded admirably, drawing a crystalline texture from his 24-voice choir, which is notable for its bright, pure soprano sound…. As in years past, the soloists in the Trinity Messiah were drawn from the chorus, and…there were affecting solo performances…. The orchestra, filled with well-known period-instrument players …performed commandingly.”

Given Trinity Wall Street’s long and rich association with the work, crowned by this recent success, it is fitting that it is Messiah with which Trinity is due to make its first Lincoln Center appearance on December 19.

Celebrating its commitment to early music, Trinity Wall Street launches the first Twelfth Night Festival this season. Punctuating the festival are the six cantatas of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, performed by Wachner, the Trinity Choir, and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra. The New York Times reports that “musical and acoustical forces had combined to transcendent effect” earlier this year, when Wachner led a “moving performance” of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Trinity Choir, Trinity Youth Chorus, and Trinity Baroque Orchestra, with “spine-tingling” results. The six Christmas Oratorio cantatas will be presented in Trinity Wall Street’s “Bach at One” series, which – in historic St. Paul’s Chapel – returns the Baroque master’s sacred vocal music to its original liturgical setting, and is free and open to the public (Dec 26 & 27; Jan 2 & 6). Part I, on December 26, will be coupled with Bach’s uplifting motet Magnificat, complete with Christmas interpolations.

Young American Theater Director Arin Arbus Discusses Her Operatic Debut

Her New Production of Britten’s Rape of Lucretia Opens at Houston Grand Opera, Feb 3, 2012

A brief conversation with Arin Arbus:

Q: How did the opportunity to direct Britten’s Rape of Lucretia at Houston Grand Opera – your debut opera production – come about?

AA: HGO’s previous General Director, Anthony Freud, contacted me. He came to New York City and saw my production of Othello at the Theatre for a New Audience, and later he came and saw my production there of Measure for Measure. He called and suggested I consider doing Britten’s Rape of Lucretia in Houston, knowing that I had never directed an opera before. I listened to the music, which I was hearing for the first time, and quickly came to love it. Lucretia has a reputation for being a problematic piece dramaturgically. Some people find the ending unsatisfying. After Measure for Measure, which is commonly thought as one of Shakespeare’s “problematic” works, perhaps he thought I was a good match for the piece.

Q: What about the opera first struck you and made you decide to accept the invitation?

AA: I responded to the music and to the characters of course. I also responded to the male/female conflict in it – that’s of great interest to me. Anthony convinced me that directing an opera wouldn’t be as terrifying as it first seemed.

Q: What kind of background did you have in music? Did you ever direct a work of musical theater, or any other works with a strong musical component?

A: I sang in a choir for eight years, and all of the straight plays I’ve done always have music in them. But I’ve never done an opera or musical, so this is totally new to me.

Q: Did you have classical music in your background?

AA: Well, I sang in high school and college choirs. I went to an all-girls’ Catholic high school and would go to an all-boys’ school to sing because they needed girls for their productions. I went to Bates College in Maine and was in a choir there as well. In both choirs we did mostly religious music. (After that I went to the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture in Greenwich Village, which was in Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s original studio on West 8th Street.)

Q: And was classical music something you heard in your household growing up?

AA: Well, my dad used to play the piano and his room was underneath mine, so I grew up listening to him play many different things. I loved being in a choir and wish I had time to sing in one now. There’s something about choral music that really touches me. It’s like the most civilized activity that man is capable of: it has tremendous beauty, coordination, discipline, and the need for people to be unified. Singing Mozart’s Requiem, one of my favorite works, was an unforgettable experience, but in no way at all am I an expert on classical music.

Q: New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini recently wrote that even the most accomplished theater directors sometimes get intimidated when working in the realm of opera, thus blunting the impact of their productions. Do you find yourself feeling any more trepidation, or special anxiety, preparing for your work on your first opera than you might be feeling if you were getting ready for some other theater project?

AA: Well, I feel nervous about everything – so I’m used to that! Sure, doing an opera makes me nervous because I’ve never worked in this form before. But there’s no doubt something very daunting about doing Shakespeare’s plays! Those works have been interpreted many, many times by great people, so I guess there’s actually a similar level of intimidation for me in taking on an opera.

Q: Your work with a theater company of inmates at Woodbourne Correctional Facility – a medium security prison in upstate New York – has gotten some attention. In a feature by Kate Taylor in the New York Times, you said, “It’s while making theater with this group of prisoners that I feel the most free.” How might your work in a prison impact this Britten project?

AA: I just finished a workshop on King Lear in Woodbourne, so I’m not currently working on a project there, but there’s more of this kind of work for me in the future. I’ve learned a lot about Shakespeare from the men in prison, and while that work might not specifically relate to this Britten work, to me it’s all the same sort of thing: I like going into new places and working with people that I don’t usually come in contact with. So I feel very lucky to work with prisoners, and then to come in touch with classical actors, and now with opera singers. In each place I learn a great deal from the people I meet, and all of that goes into my work.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pianist Jonathan Biss & Onyx Classics Release the 1st Volume of a Nine-Disc Survey of the Complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas Jan 9

First CD features Piano Sonatas Nos. 5, 11, 12 & 26

Pianist Jonathan Biss has described the task of recording all 32 of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata’s as a pianist’s “Mount Everest”. He has begun his own ascent with the first volume of Piano Sonatas Nos. 5, 11, 12 and 26 to be released on Onyx Classics today, January 9. The cycle of sonatas will be spread over nine CDs to be released over the next nine years.

In his liner notes for the inaugural recording, Mr. Biss describes the 32 sonatas as “32 masterpieces, 32 distinct structures, 32 fully realized, often awe-inspiring, always unique emotional universes. As individual works, each is endlessly compelling on its own merits; as a cycle, it moves from transcendence to transcendence, the basic concerns always the same, but the language impossibly varied.”

Thirty-one-year-old Mr. Biss says the project’s lengthy span is due to him being reluctant to record the sonatas until he has performed each of them live, giving him the opportunity to study and live with them for a period of time before committing a performance to a recording. To date, he has performed 18 of the sonatas live. Mr. Biss says he doubts that a pianist ever feels truly ready to embark on recording, or performing, the complete Beethoven Piano Sonatas, but he feels that at this stage in his career, he is ready to begin the journey: “No matter when I started, recording the complete Beethoven Sonatas was always going to be daunting. But given that I've now been working on this music for 20 years, and that not a day goes by when its beauty, grit, and sheer force of personality fail to take hold of me, I felt that now was as good a time as any. The challenge remains enormous, but the elation in playing Beethoven is like no other feeling and makes the challenge well worth it.

The first volume in the cycle was recorded with Grammy Award-winning producer David Frost at Purchase College , New York in May 2011. Throughout the nine-year project, Mr. Biss will post videos about the project and his thoughts on each of the sonatas and where they fit in the Beethoven canon on his Web site, www.jonathanbiss.com.

Violinist Nicola Benedetti Makes Her Decca Classics Debut with Italia, Available Jan 24

“…a lively celebration of Benedetti’s Italian roots, shot through with some laser-sharp pyrotechnics…” – BBC Music Magazine

For her Decca Classics debut album, violinist Nicola Benedetti makes her first recording of baroque violin repertoire. Recorded in Edinburgh, Italia celebrates Benedetti’s Scottish-Italian heritage as she plays virtuoso Italian masterpieces, accompanied by the leading chamber orchestra of her native Scotland, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Italia will be released on January 24, 2012.

The album includes both popular highlights of the baroque repertoire as well as some overlooked gems. Benedetti includes one concerto from Vivaldi’s enduring masterpiece, The Four Seasons, as well as Tartini’s Devil’s Trill. In addition the generous selection ranges from the sparkling virtuosity of the opening Vivaldi Concerto Grosso Mogul, to the poignant lament of the Veracini Largo and the lyrical beauty of the two arrangements of Vivaldi vocal works, including the haunting Nulla in mundo pax sincera, and an additional concerto by Tartini.

In her previous recordings Benedetti has concentrated principally on mainstream Roman­tic concertos. Turning to the baroque era involved a new way of thinking, not just about the music, but also about the violin technique appropriate to play it. The issue of baroque style has evolved dynamically over the past three decades or so, and for Benedetti it was essential to find an approach that would feel true to her inner convictions, as well as suiting current trends regarding historical accuracy.

“I started studying baroque playing about three years ago, mostly in Bach,” she says, “and to get to grips with the style I played a few early Italian and French sonatas, but at first I felt I needed more time. ‘Early music’ is such a difficult world to enter – for a long time it seemed that there were so many rights and wrongs: ‘This style is correct, that style isn’t’ ... But today this is one of the areas of performance that is in fact the most free. There has been so much diversity in the way people have performed the music that we’ve almost arrived at a point – at least in the UK – where many different approaches are accepted.”

Nicola Benedetti will be performing:
    Cork Ireland on Dec 15th with City of Cork Symphony Orchestra
    City Hall, Cork, Ireland
    Ludwig van Beethoven : Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61

    San Francisco on Dec 31st with San Francisco Symphony
    Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA, United States, 94102
    Pablo de Sarasate : Zigeunerweisen Op. 20

    Amsterdam Netherlands on Jan 8th with Mantova Chamber Orchestra
    Het Concertgebouw, Concertgebouwplein 2-6, Amsterdam, Netherlands, NL 1071 LN
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart : Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219

    Santa Ana on Feb 2nd thru 4th with Pacific Symphony
    Segerstrom Hall at OCPAC Mesa, CA, United States, 92626
    Max Bruch : Violin Concerto No 1 in G minor Op 26

    Tuerkenfeld Germany on Feb 8th with Munich Symphony Orchestra
    Herkulsessaal ohannes
    Brahms : Double Concerto in A minor for violin and cello solos and orchestra, Op. 102

Grammy Award-winning eighth blackbird scores new Grammy nods for Lonely Motel

eighth blackbird enjoys a happy relationship with the Grammys, having won a nomination and two awards, including the one for “Best Chamber Music Performance,” in 2008. Now nominations for the 54th Grammys are in, revealing that the new-music sextet has drawn away from the pack once again with a full three nods – one for “Best Small Ensemble Performance” among them – for Lonely Motel: music from “Slide.”

Released in September by Cedille Records, Lonely Motel features music from Steve Mackey and Rinde Eckert’s Slide, the genre-defying new music-theater piece that eighth blackbird commissioned and premiered as the centerpiece of the 2009 Ojai Music Festival*. As Tim Munro, the sextet’s flutist, explains:

“This project has been a decade-long labor of love for eighth blackbird, and we are excited that the Grammy Academy members love Steve Mackey and Rinde Eckert’s crazy, fascinating, passionate work as much as we do. What an honor!”

The three nominations for the disc are in the following categories: “Best Small Ensemble Performance,” “Best Contemporary Classical Composition,” and “Best Engineered Album, Classical.” (David Frost also received a nomination as “Producer of the Year, Classical”, acknowledging his work on several projects including Lonely Motel.)

Iestyn Davies Caps High-Profile U.S. Season with Carnegie Hall Debut on December 15

A widely anticipated debut recital at Carnegie Hall on December 15 is among the highlights of countertenor Iestyn Davies’s remarkable autumn, which saw the U.S. release in October of his most recent recording, Porpora Cantatas, a solo album on the Hyperion label that is already a sensation in Europe, and rave reviews for his Metropolitan Opera debut in Rodelinda in November. Named 2010’s Royal Philharmonic Young Artist of the Year and described as having “one of the most glorious countertenor voices in the world today” (Independent – UK), the British singer will perform at Carnegie Hall with pianist Kevin Murphy, recreating much of their Phillips Collection program in Washington, DC, on December 4. At Carnegie Hall they will add the world premiere of folksong arrangements by New Yorker Nico Muhly, alongside works by Britten, Purcell, and Bach. Muhly’s opera, Two Boys, was recently given its debut at English National Opera, consolidating his reputation as an “important artist” (New York Times). The Washington Post raved about the December 4 recital: “It was clear from the first notes, that Davies has an absolutely superb voice – supple, agile, beautifully controlled and effortless throughout its entire range.”

In 2012, Davies will make his first Lyric Opera of Chicago appearance in another Handel role debut, portraying Eustazio in Rinaldo. Directed by Francisco Negrin and co-starring David Daniels, the production opens on February 29.

Davies’s Met debut was a landmark both for him and the company: it was the first time a British countertenor had graced its stage. He brought a “potent and beautifully balanced voice to Unulfo in Handel’s Rodelinda,” said The New Yorker. The Classical Review praised him as “a winning actor … and a beautiful musician, too, negotiating the never-ending runs in Sono I colpi della sorte and the tricky intervals in Fra tempeste funeste with both precision and a delectable lilt.”

The New York Times explained the absence of British countertenors on the Met stage until Davies: “The countertenor movement was born in England, where historically castrati were a high-priced import and [Baroque] composers like Handel were obliged to be fairly flexible.” More recently, a resurgence of interest also originated in Britain, with 20th-century legends like Alfred Deller and James Bowman bringing the male falsetto voice back from church choir obscurity and once more onto the concert platform. In 1988, the American Jeffrey Gall became the first countertenor to sing a major role at the Met, understudying for Marilyn Horne in Handel’s Orlando. Subsequent productions have featured other exponents of the countertenor’s art, yet to date the nation that founded the tradition still remains unrepresented at the Met.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

London Symphony Orchestra Performs music by Thomas Ades Conducted by Antonio Pappano and Thomas Ades

The London Symphony Orchestra performs two concerts in January featuring music by Thomas Adès, one of Britain’s leading composers. On 10 January the LSO, conducted by Antonio Pappano will perform dances from his chamber opera Powder Her Face, which Adès conducted with the LSO at the Barbican in 2006. Following the exploits of Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, Powder Her Face was written in 1995 and has been performed worldwide. The work is part of an all-British programme which also features Walton’s Viola Concerto with soloist Antoine Tamestit and Elgar’s Symphony No. 1.

There is a free pre-concert performance of music by Sir William Walton at 6pm in the Barbican Hall given by artists from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama.

Adès himself conducts the London Symphony Orchestra on 15 January in a performance of his own ‘In Seven Days’ for piano and orchestra (performed by Nicolas Hodges), and the orchestral work Tevot. Premiered in 2007 by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Tevot is a one movement symphony scored for an enormous orchestra, whose name comes from the Hebrew word for ‘ark’ or ‘vessel’.

‘In Seven Days’ follows the story of creation in the book of Genesis and was originally performed as a multimedia piece with accompanying moving images by video artist Tal Rosner. Mahler’s song cycle Des Knaben Wunderhorn with tenor Toby Spence completes the programme.

There will also be an LSO Discovery Day from 10.00am-5.30pm on Sunday 15 January exploring the music of contemporary British composers. The event will begin at Barbican Hall in the morning and move to LSO St Luke’s in the afternoon.

Tuesday 10 January 2012, 7.30pm, Barbican
THOMAS ADÈS Dances from 'Powder her Face'
WALTON Viola Concerto
ELGAR Symphony No 1

Antonio Pappano conductor
Antoine Tamestit viola
London Symphony Orchestra
Tickets: £10 £15 £19.50 £27 £35

Tuesday 10 January 2012 6pm, Barbican
Guildhall Artists at the Barbican
WALTON A Song for the Lord Mayor’s Table
WALTON Piano Quartet

Ellie Laugharne soprano
Raphaela Papadakis soprano
Peter Foggitt piano
Bartosz Woroch violin
Adam Newman viola
Brian O’Kane cello
Thomas Besnard piano

Macy's Decorators "Deck the Halls" at Powell Hall St. Louis

St. Louis Symphony’s Holiday Celebration Concerts December 16-18

The St. Louis Symphony will have some expert help getting its home ready for the rest of the holiday season. Expert decorators from Macy’s Visual Department will come to Powell on Wednesday, December 14 at 1pm to help transform the hall into a true winter wonderland. As part of a special holiday partnership, a window featuring the St. Louis Symphony is also included at the downtown St. Louis Macy’s store.

The halls will be fully decked at Powell just in time for the St. Louis Symphony’s four Holiday Celebration concerts on December 16-18. The program features fantastic music from the St. Louis Symphony, favorite carols and even a special surprise or two from Santa. The holiday fun is presented by Macy’s.

Tickets may be purchased on-line at www.stlsymphony.org or by phone at 314-534-1700.

In addition, the St. Louis Symphony is offering “gift packages” for Mom, Dad and families. These special ticket deals offer some of the season’s most popular concerts at great prices and are perfect for holiday gift-giving. For more information on the ticket gift packages, visit www.stlsymphony.org

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I don't go to the concert hall enough

My life has been in upheaval for the past 6 months. After graduating my post graduate studies, getting to the "next thing" took some time, during which I haven't really gotten much chance to get into the concert hall.

That changed yesterday (thank heaven!). I went to see Pacific Symphony perform Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" along with Corelli's "Christmas Concerto" last night. Wow, what a joy it was to actually sit and listen to classical music live!

I work for Pacific Symphony, so it is not appropriate for me to provide a review. What I can say is I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Live music has a way of connecting performers with their audience in a manner that's just not possible any other way.

Vivaldi, Corelli and Greig --the three composer's of the night, aren't really composers I would typically pay to hear performed. I'm more of late 20th, early 21st century music lover. There is a lot of great music from the common practice period, Bach through Mahler; it's just not my preference in terms of music. The further back you go the less likely it is for me to put it on the stereo.

Still, sitting in the concert hall last night was thrilling. It's not like listening to a recording. First of all, live performances are less perfect than recordings, because there are no chances to go back and fix them in the mix, or retake sections that didn't quite go they way they should. Still, professional musicians are professional because they take the time to ensure a quality performance every time. Depending on the concert hall, the acoustics might be off, less than what you might achieve with a 5.1 Dolby surround sound system in your living room. Yet, listening to music in a large room (i.e., concert hall) has an effect that even the best reverb can't quite recreate. Last, but most important, live performances carry with them an energy which mechanical recordings cannot capture. Musicians put their hearts into the music, and that energy floats through the concert hall; a stereo system just can't recreate that magic. It is this mixture of imperfection, experienced with live artists creating a connection that makes the concert hall so amazing.

Whether you're a baroque fan or more a late Romantic, lover of the avant-gard or high classical, prefer intimate chamber music or the full orchestra experience, there is no substitute for a live performance. If you haven't been to a concert in the last month, find a concert hall near you and go! You won't regret it.

Better yet, take someone you know who isn't a classical music fan, or perhaps likes classical music, but hasn't yet gone to a concert - TAKE THEM TO ONE! Change their life, for the better! Show them what they're missing.

Note: I was supposed to attend a concert of the LA Chamber Orchestra tonight. Unfortunately, because I'm still trying to get settled in, I was unable to attend. So, there is a mix of joy and sorrow this weekend. I did get to go to a concert, but not as many as I'd like!

Note 2: After the concert last night, my wife and I stopped to get a bite to eat. We left the restaurant at 11:30 only to discover buses in Orange Country stop around 11. There were a couple of late night buses we were able to catch getting us within a mile of our home, but it was a cold night for an after-midnight stroll. Even with the less than desirable transportation difficulties, I'm glad I went!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams to Serve as Music Consultants for the 84th Academy Awards®

Oscar® -winning composer Hans Zimmer and Grammy® Award-winning songwriter and producer Pharrell Williams will serve as music consultants for the 84th Academy Awards, telecast producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer announced today. This will be the first time the composers have worked on the Oscar show.

"Hans is one of the most accomplished and creative film composers of our time, and Pharrell is a phenomenal songwriter with an amazing list of credits," said Grazer and Mischer. "This is an exciting and prestigious collaboration that promises to take the audience on a musical journey."

"It is a great privilege to serve the Academy in this role and to help celebrate and honor this year's incredible artistry," stated Zimmer.

"I am honored to work with my mentor and teacher, Hans Zimmer and I have wanted to collaborate with Brian Grazer on something for years," said Williams. "I cannot believe I will be joining them and their teams on the most prestigious show of the year, the Academy Awards."

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2011 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®, and televised live by the ABC Television Network. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.

Colorado Symphony Board Appoints Gene Sobczak President and CEO

Six New Members elected to Board of Trustees

The Colorado Symphony Board of Trustees announced today that it has appointed Gene Sobczak as its new President & CEO. In addition, six new trustees have been elected to the board.

Gene Sobczak currently serves as Executive Director of the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities and has held the position since 2007. Previously, he served as Executive Vice President for the Colorado Symphony from 2002-2007. While at the Arvada Center, Sobczak has increased market recognition, centralized business operations, and developed successful programming, sales and marketing strategies. At the Colorado Symphony, he was instrumental in building and growing online ticket sales, plus generated an overall 47% increase in ticket sales. Sobczak serves on the Arts for Colorado Board of Trustees and the Colorado Task Force for Arts Education in Workforce Development, among other board positions.

“I am honored to have been asked by the musicians and board of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra to serve as their next President and CEO,” stated Sobczak. “With my roots to the CSO dating back to 2002, I'm excited to be working again with this extraordinary organization and in continuing my service to the region's arts and cultural community in this new capacity.”

Sobczak is expected to begin his tenure January 17, while Interim President & CEO Jim Copenhaver will stay on during the transition on a project basis.

“We’re excited to have Gene join our team,” says board co-chair, Jerome Kern. “He has proven success working for the CSO in the past. He brings extensive experience and knowledge in the orchestra field, and also in the performing arts community of Denver and Colorado.”

Six new board members have also recently been elected to the board of trustees.

Sueann Ambron – Dean, Business School, University of Colorado Denver
Terry Biddinger, RN, BSN - Director, External affairs, College of Nursing, University of Colorado Denver
Walter DeHaven – VP and GM, Channel 4 KCNC
Michael G. Gundzik, Ph.D, CLU, Ch.F.C – Founder of Gundzik & Associates, Inc.
Chad McKeehan - Director of the Denver, Colorado Tiffany & Co. retail store, Cherry Creek Mall
Julie Rubsam – Community Volunteer
For more information about the Colorado Symphony, visit www.coloradosymphony.org.

New Year's Eve at the Colorado Symphony features A Night In Vienna

This New Year's Eve, let the Colorado Symphony transport you to the ballrooms of Vienna

This New Year's Eve, take a beautiful musical journey with the Colorado Symphony and "A Night in Vienna," Denver's iconic New Year's celebration that will transport you to the magical world of 19th century Europe. On Saturday, December 31 at 6:30 p.m., join resident conductorScott O'Neiland the Colorado Symphony for an evening of the music that madeVienna's ballrooms famous – music that continues to thrill audiences worldwide.

The centerpiece of this special celebration is the music of the "Waltz King," Johann Strauss Jr., and his legendary waltzes and polkas, such as the Kaiser-Walzer (Emperor Waltzes) and Unter Donner und Blitz (Thunder and Lightning Polka). The evening would not be complete without concertgoer favorites such as On the Beautiful Blue Danube, plus new surprises that make this New Year's Eve concert a treasured ritual for many music lovers. Thanks to the concert's early start time of 6:30 p.m., concertgoers will have plenty of time later in the evening to stroll down the 16th Street Mall for fireworks and revelries. Tickets are on sale now and start at $37.

Strauss Jr. (1825-1899) composed more than 500 works in his lifetime, including many of the waltzes and polkas that dancers – and music lovers – still adore today. While he became known as a composer of "light music," his significant output of compositions also included operettas and ballets. Of course, Strauss Jr. earned the title "Waltz King" due to the sheer popularity of his waltzes. Once considered an "indecent" and shocking dance, the waltz grew to be wildly popular in his lifetime. Today, Strauss Jr.'s On the Beautiful Blue Danube holds the position of "unofficial Austrian anthem." It is broadcast by most radio and television stations across the country each year on New Year's Eve at midnight.

For centuries, the ballrooms ofViennahave been the centerpiece of New Year’s celebrations as dancers young-and-old sweep across the floor, reveling in polkas, waltzes, and the promise of new beginnings. From the cafés and concert halls to the Imperial Ball inHofburgPalace, these celebrations have branded the city ofViennaas the town of "bon vivants." The romantic, uplifting music ofVienna’s ballrooms has such universal appeal that music lovers now enjoy it on New Year’s Eve at concerts around the world. In fact, the Neujahrskonzert (New Year's Eve concert) by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is broadcast around the world to an estimated audience of 50 million people in more than 70 countries.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Trey Anastasio announces first-ever orchestral tour

Guitarist/singer Trey Anastasio will launch his first-ever orchestral tour on February 9, 2012, performing with the Atlanta Symphony at the Atlanta Symphony Hall. The Trey Anastasio Winter Symphony Tour will also include performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony (2/14), the Colorado Symphony (2/28) and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (3/10). The programs, conducted by Scott Dunn in all four cities, will feature orchestrations of classic Phish songs and solo Anastasio compositions.

A founding member of the GRAMMY®-nominated, genre-melding rock band Phish, Anastasio has also released eight solo albums, A curious and constant composer, he draws inspiration from experimental jazz, classical, pop, reggae, metal and barbershop music. In 2009, Anastasio made his debut with the New York Philharmonic and Baltimore Symphony in programs that featured his concerto for electric guitar and orchestra, Time Turns Elastic, as well as original compositions.

The New York Times hailed Anastasio’s Carnegie Hall performance with the New York Philharmonic as “that rarest of rarities, a classical-rock hybrid that might please partisans from both constituencies. Set amid a generous group of popular Phish songs — gentle, string-cushioned ballads like “Brian and Robert” and “Let Me Lie,” as well as the audacious, intricate instrumentals “Guyute Orchestral” and “You Enjoy Myself” — the new piece [Time Turns Elastic] could hardly have gone wrong.”

Tickets Go On Sale To General Public December 8

Warner Bros. Presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony with the Colorado Symphony

Conducted by Emmy Award™ winner George Daugherty, Bugs Bunny at the Symphony celebrates the world's favoriteLooney Tunes characters on-screen with live symphony orchestra accompaniment

Timed perfectly for holiday celebrations, this concert celebrates the most famous animation in the world – and its equally famous music – on Friday, December 30 at 7:30 p.m. Warner Bros. Presents Bugs Bunny at the Symphony stars all your favorite Looney Tunes® characters on-screen with live, full symphony orchestra accompaniment by the Colorado Symphony. It's a rare opportunity for adults to enjoy the cartoons they loved as children while introducing the magical world of animation and classical music to children. Conducted by creator George Daugherty, the concert showcases the music ofHollywood composers Carl Stalling and Milt Franklyn, as inspired by the extraordinary classics of Wagner, Rossini, Smetana, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Grieg, Donizetti, Offenbach, Liszt, and many others. Only obstructed view tickets remain. Call the Colorado Symphony box office at 303.623.7876 for details.

As the composers and orchestrators behind the Looney Tunes®, Stalling and Franklyn expertly composed scores that borrowed from classical music icons, as well as the popular songs of the day. They created some of the best-loved and most adventurous American symphonic compositions of the last century, while introducing classical music to new generations through their sharp but loving re-enactments of Rossini's The Barber of Seville and, amazingly, Wagner’s entire Ring Cycle.

"Their Looney Tunes® film scores are not only unforgettable and irresistible to audiences of all ages, but were composed with such skill and expertise that they are also irresistible to the most discerning symphony orchestra musicians in the world," said Daugherty. "There are very, very few composers in our musical world who cross all those boundaries so brilliantly."

Grammy Nomination for Composer Jefferson Friedman - Chiara Quartet Album on New Amsterdam Records

Jefferson Friedman’s String Quartet No. 3 Nominated for a GRAMMY for “Best Contemporary Classical Composition”
Recorded by the Chiara String Quartet New Amsterdam Records

Composer Jefferson Friedman's String Quartet No. 3, part of the Chiara String Quartet's Jefferson Friedman: Quartets album released in April on New Amsterdam Records, has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Contemporary Classical Composition category (#76). The 54th Grammy Awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012, at 8pm EST on CBS.

Jefferson Friedman: Quartets also includes the composer’s String Quartet No. 2 and two remixes of the quartets by electronica duo Matmos. Grammy-winning engineer Judith Sherman (who is also nominated this year in the Classical Producer of the Year category) produced the recording.

The album has drawn significant praise since its release. The Boston Globe reports that String Quartet No. 3 shows “astonishing imaginative breadth,” while The San Francisco Chronicle raves, “It's a rare thrill to come across new music as exciting, vivacious and downright gorgeous as these two string quartets by young New York composer Jefferson Friedman.” Gramophone states, “Both in concept and in content, this CD of American composer Jefferson Friedman’s music breathes fresh new life into the string quartet genre. . .”

Friedman’s String Quartet Nos. 2 and 3 were commissioned by the Chiara, and are the result of a near fifteen-year friendship with the composer. They met in 1996 at the Aspen Music Festival, where the Chiara premiered Friedman’s first string quartet. They crossed paths again as graduate students at Juilliard and had a casual conversation that resulted in the composition of String Quartet No. 2 in 1999. In 2005, Friedman’s third string quartet was commissioned by the Brooklyn Friends of Chamber Music on behalf of the Chiara. The world premiere took place that spring at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

Of a performance of No. 3, Allan Kozinn, writing in The New York Times reported it to be, “a vital, imaginative 30-minute score, packed with unusual timbres, unabashedly rich melodies and carefully worked-out themes. Mr. Friedman’s quartets are finding plenty of performances; they already deserve to be heard as classics of this decade.”

First violinist Rebecca Fischer remarks, “Jefferson describes his string quartets as abstract diary entries and the act of writing them as pure expression. Because we are such good friends, his music reflects our combined experiences; he writes for the Chiara Quartet as a unit and for each of our individual strengths and personalities. Parts of String Quartet No. 3 directly reflect this: ‘Epilogue/Lullaby’ is dedicated to my first daughter’s birth, and the love duet in ‘Act’ between the second violin and cello was written at the time of Julie and Greg’s engagement.”

The remixes by Matmos sprang from a more recent musical friendship, which began when Jefferson Friedman created the string arrangements for the duo’s 2006 album, The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast (Matador). For Friedman’s album, Matmos responded in kind and contributed two remixes which sample the Chiara’s recordings of String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3. Matmos Remix No. 1 (A Bruit Secret Mix) is an addictive dance track, while Matmos Remix No. 2 (Floor Plan Mix) is an enigmatic and haunting three-dimensional exploration of sound.

TriPlay Launches Custom MyMusicCloud App to Conduit's Network of 260,000 Publishers and 250 Million Users

New MyMusicCloud App, Powered by Conduit, Enables Users to Play Music Collections Directly from their Browsers

Enjoy your music collection directly from your browser! The new MyMusicCloud app enables users to listen to their music continuously, via Conduit-powered Community Toolbars, while surfing the web without locking them to a single website.

MyMusicCloud uniquely addresses the needs of users who want to access and play music – online or offline – on any mobile device, tablet, or personal computer from anywhere in the world. MyMusicCloud enables users to synchronize their iTunes and other media players across virtually every type of device including BlackBerry, Samsung, Android phones, HTC, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Apple's iPhone or iPad. For example, users can listen to all of their Apple iTunes collection and other media players on an Apple iPad together with an Android, BlackBerry or Nokia phone.

“I've tried numerous cloud and online music services and MyMusicCloud stands apart as truly one of the best music solutions out there,” said Aviad Rabinovitch, Content Manager for Conduit and former Head of Music at Orange. “We’re thrilled to be able to offer the app both to publishers and users in the Conduit Network.”

Existing users of MyMusicCloud can enjoy the convenience of fast access to new express features without having to login to their MyMusicCloud accounts. New users can explore MyMusicCloud using the app and can then sign up for the full MyMusicCloud service.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Joseph Calleja Headlines 2011 Nobel Prize Concert on Dec 8

Joseph Calleja is the latest world-class artist to be chosen as the featured soloist at the Nobel Prize Concert, held annually in Stockholm on December 8 in honor of the year’s Nobel Laureates. For the 2011 concert, Calleja – “one of the finest lyric tenors before the public today” (Associated Press) – will perform a selection of favorite Italian and French opera arias with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic under Marcello Mottadelli. It was with a similar program that the singer’s most recent solo album, The Maltese Tenor, debuted last month in the number one spot on the Billboard Classical Traditional Chart in the US, having already topped similar lists in the UK and Germany. The disc includes an aria from Gounod’s Faust, and it is in the title role of a new production of this grand opera that Calleja returns to New York’s Metropolitan Opera in January 2012.

Held annually before an audience that includes the Nobel Laureates and the Swedish Royal family, the Nobel Prize Concert plays an important part in the official Nobel Week program. Only artists of the highest caliber are showcased; most recently, these were violinist Joshua Bell (2010) and pianist Martha Argerich (2009). As this year’s guest star, Calleja will sing arias by Verdi, Puccini, Massenet, Saint-Saëns, Pietri, Mascagni, and Leoncavallo in Stockholm’s Concert House.