. Interchanging Idioms: January 2012

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Soprano Angela Meade Receives Seventh Annual Beverly Sills Artist Award

“In the world of talented young singers, there may be none with greater promise.”— Mike Silverman, Associated Press

American soprano Angela Meade is having a momentous season. In October she caused a sensation in the title role of the Metropolitan Opera’s premiere production of Anna Bolena, delivering what the New Yorker’s Alex Ross called “as pure a display of vocal power as I’ve heard at the Met in the past few years.” A month later she was honored with the prestigious 2011 Richard Tucker Award, and now – still less than four years since her professional debut – the soprano has been named recipient of the seventh annual Beverly Sills Artist Award for young singers at the Metropolitan Opera. Muffy Greenough, Beverly Sills’s daughter, presented the award to Meade at a ceremony at the Met this afternoon.

The award, for young singers who have appeared in featured solo roles at the Met, has been given annually since 2006, and with prize money of $50,000 it is the largest of its kind in the States. Previous winners include baritone Nathan Gunn and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato.

“I am so deeply honored to be the recipient of the Beverly Sills Award,” Meade said, continuing:

“I would have loved to have met Ms. Sills. We share much of the same repertoire and her interpretations of Norma, Anna Bolena, Elisabetta in Roberto Devereux, Cleopatra, and Violetta have been an inspiration to me. I am greatly humbled and realize what an immense responsibility it will be to carry on the legacy Ms. Sills achieved. Her artistry has been something that young singers aspire to attain. I offer heartfelt thanks to the Metropolitan Opera and the Agnes Varis Trust, in memory of Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman.”

The rising young soprano returns to the Met as Elvira in Verdi’s Ernani on February 2, in the role with which she made her unscheduled “star is born” professional debut – at the Met – in 2008, when she substituted for an ailing colleague. Opera lovers worldwide can hear Meade in the role when Ernani is beamed to cinemas around the world on February 25 as part of the Met’s ever-popular Live in HD series. Her co-stars include Marcello Giordani, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and Ferruccio Furlanetto, with Marco Armiliato leading the Met Opera Orchestra. It was Armiliato who conducted Meade at the Grand Finals Concert of the 2007 Met Opera National Council Auditions, as chronicled in the documentary film The Audition.

Robin Ticciati Conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in Brahms, Strauss and Mahler w Baritone Christopher Maltman

Robin Ticciati conducts the LSO in Brahms’ 2nd Symphony and Strauss’ Tod und Verklärung on Thursday 15 March in the Barbican Hall. They are joined by baritone Christopher Maltman in a performance of Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, completing the programme.

Robin Ticciati was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain when he turned to conducting, aged 15, under the guidance of Sir Colin Davis, LSO President, and Sir Simon Rattle. He is Principal Conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Principal Guest Conductor of the Bamberger Symphoniker and from January 2014, Music Director of Glyndebourne.

Ahead of the performance, at 6pm, Guildhall School pianist Ben Schoeman will perform Brahms’ Sonata No 3 in F minor Op 5 and Variations on a theme of Paganini (Book 1), part of the Guildhall Artists at the Barbican series.

Thursday 15 March, 7.30pm, Barbican

STRAUSS Tod und Verklärung
MAHLER Kindertotenlieder
BRAHMS Symphony No 2

Robin Ticciati conductor
Christopher Maltman baritone
London Symphony Orchestra

Tickets: £10-£35

Houston Grand Opera Announces Its 2012-13 Season

Including Four New Productions: La bohème, The Italian Girl in Algiers, Show Boat, and Tristan und Isolde

Houston Grand Opera, with Music Director Patrick Summers and Managing Director Perryn Leech, announces its 2012-13 season, headlined by four new productions. The first of these is Puccini’s La bohème, which launches the new season with a new staging by award-winning British director John Caird. To honor 2013’s joint bicentennials of Wagner and Verdi, the coming season juxtaposes Tristan und Isolde – starring Ben Heppner and Nina Stemme in a new contemporary staging by Christof Loy – with a revival of Steven Lawless’s unforgettable take on Il trovatore. British conductor Trevor Pinnock leads a strong international cast in Mozart’s ensemble masterpiece Don Giovanni, while Francesca Zambello’s new production of Kern and Hammerstein’s Show Boat brings together stars of Broadway and the opera house in a celebration of America’s own contribution to the art. For a more intimate experience, Daniela Barcellona and Lawrence Brownlee star in Rossini’s dramma giocoso, The Italian Girl in Algiers.

John Caird’s brand new production of a perennial favorite, Puccini’s La bohème, opens the season on October 19. An Honorary Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and Principal Guest Director of Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theatre, Caird’s numerous honors include two Tony Awards, two Laurence Olivier Awards, and three Outer Critics Circle Awards. American soprano Katie Van Kooten stars as Mimì, the role in which she made her Covent Garden debut, impressing the Telegraph as “a major operatic talent” with “a winning stage personality.” Opposite her as Rodolfo is New York native Dimitri Pittas – “a huge talent, with a ringing, easy tenor voice…like a young Plácido Domingo” (Opera News). With designs by Olivier Award-winner David Farley, the new production will be conducted by young American Evan Rogister, former Kapellmeister of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

As HGO Artistic and Music Director Patrick Summers reveals, “Planning a season is like planning a great six-course meal, and [the company has] a lot of main courses but the one dessert – and it’s a great one, a real soufflé.” This “soufflé” is Rossini’s comic masterpiece The Italian Girl in Algiers, which opens on October 26. Making her HGO debut in the title role is Italian soprano Daniela Barcellona, a bel canto specialist whom Opera News found “perfect” in the title role of Rossini’s Tancredi. She’ll be singing opposite tenor Lawrence Brownlee, winner of both the Marian Anderson and the Richard Tucker Awards, who returns to Houston after wowing audiences in The Barber of Seville. The production comes courtesy of Spanish director-designer team Joan Font and Joan Guillén – who were last seen in Houston with witty stagings of Rossini’s La Cenerentola and The Barber of Seville – and features Italian conductor Carlo Rizzi on the podium. Winner of the first Toscanini Conductors competition, Rizzi made his HGO debut in 2007 with Aida.

Friday, January 27, 2012

James Gaffigan Returns to North America in 2012 to Lead Performances with Nine Major Orchestras

Mr. Gaffigan to make his debut with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In addition he returns to lead the Minnesota Orchestra and the Baltimore, Dallas, Milwaukee, National and Toronto symphony orchestras

American conductor James Gaffigan returns to North America in 2012 to lead nine major orchestras in engagements which include debuts with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Praised for his passionate and energetic performances as well as his ability to connect with audiences and musicians, Mr. Gaffigan has attracted international attention and has frequently been acknowledged as “one to watch”.

In the summer of 2011, James Gaffigan assumed positions as Chief Conductor of the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. This season, in addition to his ten weeks with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and four weeks in the Netherlands with the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Gaffigan made his debut with the Czech, London and Dresden philharmonic orchestras and with the Vienna State Opera where he led performances of La bohème. Following his performance of Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 "From the New World" with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Mark Haegman of Classical Net remarked, “…if the Czech Philharmonic must have played this work a zillion times, maestro Gaffigan ensured we weren't aware of this. He secured a full-blooded and electrifying reading of Dvořák's most famous work, capitalizing on the orchestra's idiomatic colors.”

James Gaffigan’s first North American concert of the season will be a return engagement with the National Symphony Orchestra (Jan 19-21), followed by concerts with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Jan 25-28). In February he conducts the Minnesota Orchestra (Feb 9-11) before returning to Baltimore to lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra on February 16 & 17 and then will make his debut conducting the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on February 23 & 25. In March 2012, James Gaffigan makes his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra (March 8-10) and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (March 30-April 1). Mr. Gaffigan will then lead performances of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (April 6-7) and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (April 12-15) before returning to Europe to conduct La Cenerentola at the Glyndebourne Festival.

Experience the majestic SAINT-SAËNS "Organ" Symphony with The Colorado Symphony

Colorado Symphony principal harpist Courtney Hershey Bress shines in rare performance of Oberthür's luminous Concertino for Harp and Orchestra

Artists: Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Mei-Ann Chen, conductor
Courtney Hershey Bress, harp


ROSSINI: Overture to L’Italiana in Algeri (“The Italian Girl in Algiers”)
OBERTHÜR: Concertino for Harp and Orchestra in G minor
SAINT-SAËNS: Symphony No. 3 in C minor, “Organ”

Performances: Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 29 at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets: Remaining tickets currently start at $19.

This weekend, prepare to be dazzled by masterworks celebrated the world over for their sheer beauty, uplifting themes and charming manner as conductor Mei-Ann Chen leads the Colorado Symphony on Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, January 29 at 2:30 p.m. at Boettcher Concert Hall. The concerts feature a rarely heard gem of the repertoire, Oberthür’s brilliant Concertino for Harp and Orchestra in G minor, featuring Colorado Symphony principal harpist Courtney Hershey Bress. A showcase for virtuosity, the Concertino is an opportunity for both soloist and orchestra to shine.

The centerpiece of this beautiful concert is Saint-Saëns' masterpiece, Symphony No. 3 in C minor, also known as the "Organ" Symphony. While not a true symphony for organ, the Symphony No. 3 features both piano and organ. It earned its moniker due to the prominent, serene and masterful role of the organ – and instrument at which Saint-Saëns personally excelled. Today, it is regarded as one of the great French symphonies and Saint-Saëns' masterwork in the genre. Conceived as a tribute to Franz Liszt, Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 is contemplative and fanciful, peaceful yet majestic. Tickets are still available for these must-attend concerts and start at $19.

The Colorado Symphony Ball puts the Spotlight on the Orchestra for an evening of music and dance

For the first time in its history, this year’s Symphony Ball will feature the sounds of The Colorado Symphony for both listening pleasure and dancing. The ball, held this year on Saturday, April 28, 2012, will take place at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel and begins at 6:00 PM.

The orchestra will be front and center performing music to please ball attendees of all ages from warm pre-dinner background music to a high-energy full orchestra performance to top dance hits spanning decades. “Spotlighting our orchestra at this year’s ball couldn’t be more appropriate considering our newly adopted focus to engage and connect more in our community,” says Colorado Symphony board co-chair, Mary Rossick Kern. “It will be fun and exciting for ball patrons to be up close and personal with members of the orchestra throughout the evening.”

Symphony Ball 2012 is chaired by Colorado Symphony Association trustee and CBS4 general manager, Walt DeHaven, and his wife and president of Aiello Public Relations & Marketing, Wendy Aiello. Ed Greene, CBS4 weather and news anchor, will be the evening’s emcee. The night will begin with a silent auction and cocktails followed by dinner, live auction and entertainment by the Colorado Symphony with dancing to follow.

For more information about Symphony Ball 2012 tickets, table and corporate sponsorship, contact Melissa Muscato at (303) 308-2495.

Q2 Music and The Greene Space at WQXR Present A Preview of Merkin Concert Hall’s ECSTATIC MUSIC FESTIVAL on Wednesday, February 1 at 7pm

An Evening of Performances by Jason Treuting, Angélica Negron, and Jherek Bischoff, and Conversation with Festival Curator Judd Greenstein

Q2 Music, WQXR’s online station devoted to the music of living composers, will, for a second year in a row, serve as the exclusive digital venue for the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Concert Hall. Featuring more than 150 performers and composers from different musical backgrounds who are re-defining music today, the Ecstatic Music Festival has been hailed for putting its finger on the pulse of contemporary “post-classical” music.

On Wednesday, February 1 at 7pm, Q2 Music will kick off the festival with a live concert in The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR, the innovative multiplatform broadcast studio and live event venue. WQXR host Terrance McKnight will welcome a star-studded lineup of this year’s Ecstatic Music Festival composer-performers, including Jason Treuting, Angélica Negron, and Jherek Bischoff. The evening will also include an introductory conversation with Ecstatic Music Festival curator, composer Judd Greenstein. Tickets are available now at www.thegreenespace.org.

In addition, Q2 Music will serve as the digital destination for the festival, making all of the concerts available for audiences worldwide. Q2 Music will carry all of the New Sounds Live concerts on www.wqxr.org/q2music as live audio webcasts with host John Schaefer , and will also record all Ecstatic Music Festival concerts for on-demand streaming.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Composer's Dilemma: rhythm, bar lines and readability

I love rhythm, numbers and odd pairings of the two. They don't always make for obvious bar line choices.

A recent piece I've written is for solo violin, The Jig is Up, suggesting this is a jig and yet not.

The music starts with the right concept --a nice little jig in compound time. In the opening example the music could almost be divided into a nice 6/8 pattern, except for the 3rd and 4th measure. Perhaps I could have the G cross the bar line. The tempo is also set to an eighth note equals 252. If I divide that by 3 I could make it a dotted quarter note equals 84 --a much nicer number for most metronomes.

When we get to line 5 the compound time is shot all to hell. Is the first measure in 7 or should it be nice with the final eighth note of the previous line added to the bar? But then that breaks up the almost dividable pattern in line 4. Measure 2 in in 8 and measure 3 is in 9, with measure 4 is in 6. Wait, the piece gets better!

At rehearsal marker 'A', which is line 9 and a return to the original theme, the line can almost be divided evenly into the 6/8 patterns again. We have that nasty pair of quarter notes that "cross" the bar line --or do they? If we leave them together all the other measures have 6 beats. Measure 3 is the odd one out with 7 beats for a total of 31 in the line. Yes folks, 31 is a prime number. I've been found out or "the jig is up." The piece spends the rest of it's time with 31 beats to a line.

Line 13 puts the 7 beat measure at the opening of the line. As the "variation" progresses the bar line continues to shift as to where the 7 beats end up.

My dilemma as a composer was where to put bar lines. Should I keep changing the time signature so I could write the music into nice organized measures? Was is better to do what I ended up doing and just not put bar lines in at all. For me the line of music is a whole --a thread that runs from the opening of a line to the end. There are sections where the final note of a line is definitely a pickup note to the next line.

I'd be curious as to what musicians think of the music. How would you divide the music to make it more readable. If you'd like to see the complete score, drop me an email or write to me on twitter (chipmichael). I'd be happen to send a pdf your way.

Nicola Benedetti & Friends Residency at LSO St Luke's in March

BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concerts
1, 8, 15 & 22 March
All to be broadcast on BBC Radio 3

International violinist Nicola Benedetti curates a series of four concerts in which she features as both soloist and chamber musician, performing alongside some of her closest musical colleagues.

Nicola Benedetti is joined by Alexei Grynyuk (piano), Leonard Elschenbroich (cello), Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin) and Maxim Rysanov (viola) across four concerts featuring music by Bach, Ravel, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Shostakovich and Ysaÿe. Each concert will be recorded for later broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

2011/12 is the most ambitious BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concert season at LSO St Luke’s to date. During September, October and November, over 12 recitals six world-ranking pianists performed a complete cycle of Beethoven’s 32 Piano Sonatas, which was received to outstanding acclaim. In February 2012, Britain’s leading chamber ensemble, the Nash Ensemble, is in residence for a series focusing on some of the great chamber works of Brahms, and in May 2012, pianist Cédric Tiberghien, cellist Pieter Wispelwey, violinist Isabelle Faust and harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani perform solo recitals of music by JS Bach.

Prior to these Lunchtime Concerts Nicola will appear at:

New York

Monday 30th January, 2012
January 30, 2012 @ 7:30 pm
Venue: Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleeker Street, New York, NY, United States, 10012

Nicola Benedetti, violin with REBEL: “Italia” Decca Classics album release concert w/ music of Vivaldi and J.S. Bach

Santa Ana

February 2, 2012 @ 8:00 pm
with Pacific Symphony

Venue: Segerstrom Hall at OCPAC Mesa, CA, United States, 92626.

Repertoire: Max Bruch : Violin Concerto No 1 in G minor Op 26

Munich Germany

February 10, 2012 @ 8:00 pm
with Munich Symphony Orchestra

Venue: Prinzregententheater

Repertoire: Johannes Brahms – Double Concerto in A minor for violin and cello solos and orchestra, op.102

Ayrshire Music Festival

February 15, 2012 @ 7:30 pm
Venue: Ayr Town Hall, New Bridge Street, Ayr, KA7 1JX

Repertoire: James MacMillan : From Ayshire

Richard Strauss : Sonata for Violin and Piano in Eb Major Op.18

Sergey Prokofiev : Violin Concerto No 1 in D Major Op 19

Maurice Ravel : Tzigane

Interview with Avner Dorman

The composer discusses some of his works, among them a new encore piece for Hilary Hahn

Israeli-born composer Avner Dorman is yet another person that was a late-starter in the classically-trained world where everyone seemingly starts learning what they do at age 3 or 4, but he's now proven to us again, just as quite a few others have in our journeys here, that age is only a number in this game.

If you click on his website, you'll see that he already has a variety of great works and has been premiering even more as we speak, including one of the Hilary Hahn Encores (EDITOR'S NOTE: I couldn't not ask him about that, and believe it or not, he hasn't even heard this piece played yet. Huh?) and a narrated orchestral work titled Uzu and Muzu from Kakamaruzu premiering in March with the Stockton Symphony.
Avner had a few minutes to hang with me via Skype and discuss.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Colorado Symphony Celebrates a special evening of passion, love and lust with Valentine Classics

Just in time for the most passionate day of the year, the Colorado Symphony presents a Valentine's-inspired evening of romantic classics. Prepare to be swept away by the romance, power and ardor that only a symphony orchestra can deliver.

Valentine Classics

SAT 2/11 - 7:30 p.m.
Boettcher Concert Hall

Selections include:

TCHAIKOVSKY / Selections from Swan Lake
BIZET / Selections from Carmen
MASSENET / Thaïs: Médiation
DEBUSSY / Clair de Lune

Vladimir Spivakov and Olga Kern US Recital Appearances February 2012

Internationally Acclaimed Violinist and Pianist Visit Boston, NYC, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco to Perform Repertoire of Brahms, Stravinsky, Pärt, Franck, Schnittke and Shostakovich

In February 2012, violinist Vladimir Spivakov and pianist Olga Kern will embark on a rare joint recital tour in the United States, visiting top concert halls in Boston, New York City, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco. This is the powerful duo’s first ever joint recital tour outside of Europe, and they have created a dynamic program of works by Brahms, Stravinsky, Pärt, Franck and Schnittke. At the Carnegie Hall concert only, Spivakov and Kern will be joined by celebrated cellist and 2012 Musical America Artist of the Year, David Finkel of the Emerson String Quartet for a special performance of Shostakovich’s Piano Trio No. 2. (complete repertoire list below).

Throughout his career, spanning nearly four decades, violinist Vladimir Spivakov has been praised by critics for his deep insight into composers’ intentions, the richness and beauty of his tone, his fine phrasing and nuance, his emotional impact on his audiences, and his refined artistry and intelligence. Mr. Spivakov made his United States recital debut in 1975 and international engagements quickly followed. He has performed as soloist with the most important orchestras in the world, and collaborated with some of the 20th century’s most eminent conductors, including Svetlanov, Kondrashin, Temirkanov, Rostropovich, Bernstein, Leinsdorf, Ozawa, Maazel, Giulini, Masur, Chailly, Conlon and Abbado. In addition to performing major traditional works, Mr. Spivakov has continually treated his audiences to new and innovative repertoire, both in chamber music and orchestral works. Mr. Spivakov plays a violin by Stradivari. Spivakov is equally renowned as Conductor and Founder of the Moscow Virtuosi and as Founder, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the National Philharmonic of Russia.

Olga Kern is the striking young Russian Gold Medal winner of the 2001 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Her performance of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 made her the first woman to achieve this distinction in over 30 years. Kern made her New York debut at Carnegie's Zankel Hall in May, 2004, and eleven days later returned to New York to play again, this time on the stage of the Isaac Stern Auditorium at the invitation of Carnegie Hall. Ms. Kern is a magnetic performer with one of the most prodigious piano techniques of any young pianist. Last season, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Van Cliburn Foundation honored Ms. Kern’s Cliburn victory 11 years ago with a co-presentation of her talents in March and April of 2011. Also in 2011, Kern performed with the symphonies of Detroit, Anchorage, Nashville, Dallas, Virginia, St. Louis, Rochester, Pittsburgh, Madison, Johnson City, Syracuse and Colorado. Additionally in North America, she has been invited to perform at Longwood Gardens, the Sanibel Music Festival, the Winter Park Bach Festival, the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, and Drake University. Ms. Kern records exclusively with Harmonia Mundi, and her Chopin Sonatas CD was released in 2010.

Vladimir Spivakov and Olga Kern 2012 Recital Tour

February 17 Boston, MA - Sanders Theatre

February 18 New York, NY - Carnegie Hall

February 19 Chicago, IL - Orchestra Hall

February 25 Seattle, WA - Benaroya Hall

February 26 San Francisco, CA - Herbst Theatre


Johannes Brahms, Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, op. 108
Igor Stravinsky, ‘Suite Italienne’
Arvo Pärt, Spiegel im Spiegel (dedicated to Vladimir Spivakov)
Cesar Franck, Sonata in A Major

Program – February 18 (Carnegie Hall):

Johannes Brahms, Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, op. 108
Igor Stravinsky, ‘Suite Italienne’
Alfred Schnittke, Prelude in Memoriam Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Shostakovich, Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op.67 violin (with David Finkel)

Anne Akiko Meyers: Air - The Bach Album out on eOne Valentine's Day

Bach Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 plus Bach Concerto for Two Violins featuring Meyers on both parts

Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers’ newest recording for eOne entitled Air – The Bach Album will be released on Valentine’s Day, 2012. This is Anne Akiko Meyers’s first orchestral album for eOne and features the English Chamber Orchestra with Steven Mercurio conducting. The album includes Bach’s Violin Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, the Double Concerto for Two Violins, and arrangements of Bach’s “Air”, “Largo” from the Harpsichord Concerto in f minor, and the Bach/Gounod “Ave Maria.”

After her recent acquisition of the “ex-Napoleon/Molitor” Stradivarius violin from 1697, Meyers decided to become the first violinist to record both solo parts of the Double Concerto on two different violins. Meyers joked that this was the first time she agreed with all of her “partner’s” musical ideas.

Meyers believes the golden purity of the tone of the ‘ex-Molitor/Napoleon’ Strad, contrasts beautifully with the darker timbre of the 1730 “Royal Spanish” Strad, on which she recorded the second violin part. The distinctive voice of each violin inspired Meyers to record both parts of the Double Concerto, as she feels like she sounds like a different violinist on each instrument.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the SF Symphony release recording of John Adams' 'Harmonielehre'

Exclusive pre-release download from iTunes available February 15

Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT) and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) will release a hybrid SACD recording of works by John Adams in conjunction with its month-long American Mavericks Festival in March 2012. Self-produced on the Orchestra’s SFS Media label, the recording features the SFS commission Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine, a work commissioned by MTT. The recording will be available for pre-release by download exclusively from Apple’s iTunes Music Store beginning February 15, the composer’s birthday. The San Francisco Symphony’s e-store is currently accepting pre-sale orders for the Adams recording at sfsymphony.org/store and on February 15 it will become available at the Symphony Store in Davies Symphony Hall. National and international retail release for the recording will be March 13. On March 15, MTT leads the SFS in world premiere of Absolute Jest, a new work by Adams commissioned for its centennial season, with additional performances in Chicago, Ann Arbor and Carnegie Hall.

The SFS commissioned, premiered and recorded Harmonielehre in March 1985 under Edo De Waart during Adams ’ tenure as SFS composer in residence. Adams recalled, “I was a young composer when I wrote Harmonielehre and I had really only written two other orchestra pieces at that point and one of them was Harmonium, which was premiered by the San Francisco Symphony only a few years before that. Harmonielehre was tough coming out… I was searching for what I wanted to say. I knew that part of what I wanted to write for the orchestra was a music that would kind of strum the strings of its repertoire that would play to its strengths… [with Harmonielehre] I really confronted who I was, who I am, John Adams as a composer - somebody who grew up listening to classical music, classical orchestral music, who played in orchestras when I was younger, who conducted, who loved that repertoire, but at the same time was somebody who also grew up listening to jazz and rock and who was very influenced by minimalism. So it’s this rather strange marriage of the driving pulse of American minimalism and the sensuous and emotional and expressive world of the great European masterpieces.”

Michael Tilson Thomas, who conducted the work during his first season as SFS Music Director in 1995 and multiple times since, said of the work, “When a new piece is premiered, it can make a stunning impression. But the real story of that piece is what emerges over time. When the SFS first performed Harmonielehre in the mid-80s it was a life changing moment for everybody who heard it. I heard it first on the recording and I was drawn into the piece in so many ways, its enormous power, but also its tenderness and depth of expression. And now, decades later, the piece still stands up.”

MTT commissioned Short Ride in a Fast Machine from John Adams in 1986 for a Pittsburgh Symphony performance in Massachusetts. Adams shared, “Michael called me back in 1986 when he was opening a new music festival in Massachusetts with the Pittsburgh Symphony and he asked me to do a fanfare. The sort of traditional fanfare with blaring trumpets didn’t really appeal to me, and how do you write a fanfare when Copland has already done it so well? I thought about it and for some reason the connection with Cape Cod came to mind. Years before that I had been there with a former brother-in-law and he had asked me at about 1 in the morning if I would like to take a ride with him in his Lamborghini. I did and once he started up I wished I hadn’t because he drove very, very fast. The idea of a piece that had that combination of excitement and thrill and was just on the edge of anxiety or terror was the motivating force for [Short Ride in a Fast Machine.] The piece starts with the click of the wood block and that wood block never changes, it just keeps driving and it’s sort of like a gauntlet through which a 100-piece orchestra has to pass.”

Monday, January 23, 2012

Cellist Johannes Moser releases new CD: Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No.1 & Britten: Cello Symphony

“One of the finest among the astonishing gallery of young virtuoso cellists” (Gramophone)
On January 31, 2012, Hänssler Classic releases the latest album from the charismatic young virtuoso, Johannes Moser. Following his extraordinary recording of concertos by Martinů, Hindemith and Honegger released in May of 2011, Moser returns with a stunning new release featuring two distinguished cello concertos of the mid-20th century: Dimitri Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 from 1959 and Benjamin Britten’s Cello Symphony premiered in 1964.

Both works were originally composed for the great Mstislav Rostropovich who was the teacher of Moser’s own teacher David Geringas. “The Shostakovich is very precious to me,” Moser says, “so in a way, I feel like I am continuing the family line. The Shostakovich Concerto has been my most important musical companion since my teenage years. I played it at most of the defining, often competitive moments in my early career.” Those moments included the Jugend Musiziert competition where Moser won first-prize at age 16 and it was the piece he played when auditioning to study with David Geringas. Moser then performed the concerto with orchestra for the first time on his 18th birthday and again in the finals of the Tchaikovsky competition which he won in 2002. Moser has also performed the concerto with Mariss Janssons and the Concertgebouw Orchestra.

The Shostakovich concerto is characterized by vitality, humor and is very much an expression of the cellist’s virtuosity, but also has incredibly intimate moments. In the finale, Shostakovich quotes Stalin’s favorite song "Suliko" and turns it into a grimace. Since it had been six years after Stalin’s death, Shostakovich felt that he could be political in a sarcastic way without being deported right away.

As the title suggests, cello and orchestra are equal partners in Britten's "Symphony for Cello and Orchestra" op 68, creating what is at times the clarity of chamber music. This new recording continues Moser's exploration of 20th century cello concertos while building upon his masterful interpretations of cello sonatas by Britten.

“The Britten Cello Symphony is the total opposite of the Shostakovich,” Moser explains. “The cellist’s virtuosity and individual voice are no longer in the foreground and Britten truly turns the cello solo part into an integral element of very symphonic writing. I appreciated the opportunity not to be a counterpart to the orchestra but an integrated part of it.”

Both concerti are very personal statements of the composers, who were both outcasts in their society: Shostakovich being on the edge of deportation because of his controversial writing, and Britten because of his homosexuality. Both composers longed to be part of the society that was rejecting them in such a cruel way.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lyric Opera of Chicago Announces Its 2012-13 Season

Lyric’s 58th Season Features Nine Operas: Elektra, Simon Boccanegra, Werther, Don Pasquale, Hansel and Gretel, La bohème, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Rigoletto, and A Streetcar Named Desire, October 6, 2012 Through April 6, 2013

Anthony Freud, general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, announced yesterday the repertoire, principal singers, conductors, directors, and designers for Lyric’s 2012-13 season. This was Freud’s first news conference since becoming Lyric’s general director on Oct. 1, 2011. Joining Freud for yesterday’s announcement was Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric’s music director, and Renée Fleming, Lyric’s creative consultant (via Skype).

Lyric’s 58th season features 68 performances of nine different operas: Elektra, Simon Boccanegra, Werther, Don Pasquale, Hansel and Gretel, La bohème, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Rigoletto, and A Streetcar Named Desire. The season runs from October 6, 2012 through April 6, 2013 at the Civic Opera House, an art deco landmark in Chicago. Lyric is staging new productions of Elektra, Werther, and Die Meistersinger, as well as a special presentation of Streetcar. Oklahoma!, the American musical-theater classic by Rodgers and Hammerstein, is scheduled for the spring of 2013, following Lyric’s regular season. Subscribers will get first choice of seats and special pricing for this production. The on-sale date and production details of Oklahoma! will be announced later.

Major artists making their Lyric debuts in the 2012-13 season include Christine Goerke (Elektra), Krassimira Stoyanova (Simon Boccanegra), Sophie Koch (Werther), Anna Netrebko and Dimitri Pittas (La bohème), Andrzej Dobber, Željko Lučić, and Albina Shagimuratova (Rigoletto), and Teddy Tahu Rhodes (A Streetcar Named Desire). Two young conductors make their Lyric debuts on the podium: Ward Stare (Hansel and Gretel) and Evan Rogister (Rigoletto, Streetcar); and chorus master Martin Wright is new to the company this season.

Lyric’s website (www.lyricopera.org) is a comprehensive source of information, handsomely designed and easy to navigate. Videos about each opera are available for viewing throughout the season, including highlight reels introduced by Sir Andrew Davis and Renée Fleming, commentaries by Anthony Freud, and interviews with other artists and directors. In early February, Lyric will post Anthony Freud’s 2012-13 season overview video.

98.7WFMT will air locally and stream live (on wfmt.com) the opening-night performance of each opera in Lyric’s 2012-13 season. The WFMT Radio Network will rebroadcast eight of the nine operas nationally and internationally in May and June of 2013.

Michael Tilson Thomas featured in two PBS Great Performances on March 29 & 30


Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT), Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony and Artistic Director of the New World Symphony, will be featured in two new Great Performances presentations in March to be broadcast nationally on PBS. Both programs are productions of THIRTEEN for WNET , one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.

On Thursday, March 29 Great Performances will present The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater at 8:00PM (check local listings). Recorded in April 2011 at the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center in Miami Beach , the performance of The Thomashefskys is written and hosted by Michael Tilson Thomas and stars Judy Blazer as Bessie Thomashefsky and Shuler Hensley as Boris Thomashefsky. It also features Ronit Widmann-Levy and Eugene Brancoveanu and the New World Symphony, and is directed for television by Gary Halvorson.

Following the national broadcast on PBS Great Performances on March 29, The Thomashefskys: Music and Memories of a Life in the Yiddish Theater will be released on DVD by New Video (newvideo.com) on April 24 with extras including additional music performances, an interview with MTT about the Thomashefskys and a feature on the New World Symphony, America's Orchestra Academy. The New World Symphony was founded in 1987 by Michael Tilson Thomas and Ted Arison, and has launched the careers of over 800 musicians. Pre-orders for the DVD are currently being accepted at Amazon.com and at the San Francisco Symphony e-store at sfsymphony.org/store and will be shipped immediately following the April 24 release date. The program will also be available for digital download from iTunes, and for sale on the New World Symphony website at nws.edu/shop.

In September, the San Francisco Symphony and MTT launched the Orchestra’s milestone Centennial Season with a celebratory gala concert dubbed “Fanfare for a New Century” at Davies Symphony Hall. The gala concert will be presented as a two-hour special, San Francisco Symphony at 100, by Great Performances on PBS on Friday, March 30 at 9PM (check local listings). The broadcast is hosted by Bay Area author Amy Tan and directed for television by Gary Halvorson and features MTT conducting the Orchestra and two of the leading artists of our time, violinist Itzhak Perlman performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor and pianist Lang Lang performing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major. The concert opens with Aaron Copland’s vivid portrayal of American prairie life, the Billy the Kid Ballet Suite and concludes with Britten’s orchestral showpiece The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra of which the San Francisco Chronicle said: “…as Thomas led his colleagues, section by section and soloist by soloist… the listener could only marvel at the level of individual excellence and communal artistry on display.” Capping off the concert is an encore of Bay Area composer John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine featuring moving images of San Francisco projected throughout Davies Symphony Hall. (An audio recording of this performance of Short Ride in a Fast Machine, a work commissioned by MTT in 1986, will also be available on an upcoming all-John Adams recording on the Orchestra’s own SFS Media label along with their 2010 performance of Adams’ Harmonielehre, a work SFS commissioned and premiered in 1985. The recording will be available on March 13, with a special pre-release on iTunes and in the San Francisco Symphony store in Davies Symphony Hall beginning on February 15, the composer’s birthday.)

San Francisco Opera Announces 2012-13 Season


San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley today announced the Company’s 2012–13 repertory season, guest artists and performance schedule, in addition to three world premiere commissions slated for 2013 by Nolan Gasser and Carey Harrison (The Secret Garden), Mark Adamo (The Gospel of Mary Magdalene), and Tobias Picker and J.D. McClatchy (Dolores Claiborne). Gockley also announced the extension of his contract to lead San Francisco Opera through the 2015–16 Season along with the extension of contracts for the artistic leadership team of Music Director Nicola Luisotti, Principal Guest Conductor Patrick Summers and Resident Conductor Giuseppe Finzi.

The Company’s 90th season opens Friday, September 7, 2012 with a gala performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto. Maestro Luisotti leads an international cast of singers, including acclaimed Serbian baritone and Verdi specialist Željko Lučić in the title role, and the Company debuts of Polish soprano Aleksandra Kurzak as Gilda and Italian tenor Francesco Demuro as the Duke of Mantua. Opera Ball, the Company’s celebrated signature benefit event, co-produced with the San Francisco Opera Guild in support of the San Francisco Opera and Opera Guild education programs, will precede the opening night performance at the historic War Memorial Opera House.

In addition to Rigoletto, which features two international casts of singers, San Francisco Opera’s 2012–13 Season offers Vincenzo Bellini’s bel canto gem I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues); the Bay Area premiere of Jake Heggie’s Moby-Dick, commissioned and produced by San Francisco Opera, The Dallas Opera, San Diego Opera, Calgary Opera and the State Opera of South Australia; Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin; Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca, interpreted by two casts of widely acclaimed singers; Jacques Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann (The Tales of Hoffmann); Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Così fan tutte; the world premiere of Mark Adamo’s The Gospel of Mary Magdalene; and the world premiere of Nolan Gasser and Carey Harrison’s The Secret Garden, a co-production with Cal Performances.

Delve into Mozart's fascinating world as Inside the Score returns to the Colorado Symphony

Join resident conductor Scott O'Neil and the Colorado Symphony for an intimate look at Mozart's life, relationships and music. If you think you know Mozart, think again!

Think you know Mozart? Think again. The Colorado Symphony and resident conductor Scott O'Neil will unveil a different, lesser-known side of Mozart at this weekend's Inside the Score concert, simply titled Letters From Mozart. The concert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, January 20 won't simply showcase a "greatest hits" of Mozart. Rather, it aims to explore his early life before his days in Vienna, through both music and letters: Letters both to, and from, his closest friends and relatives, including his father, wife and sister. According to O'Neil, there is a surprising amount of humor and spice that comes through in the letters, which prove that Mozart's father was indeed the master of guilt trips.

Letters From Mozart presents a poignant selection of music from Mozart's oeuvre and features soprano Christie Hageman, pianist Katie Mann and members of the Colorado Symphony Chorus. Highlights of the concert promise to be the Second Movement of Sinfonia Concertante, one of the few works in the repertoire for both violin and viola soloists, as well as the Third Movement of Serenade No. 10 ("Gran Partita") that calls for basset horns, an instrument seldom heard in symphony halls because many orchestras substitute modern instruments. But this weekend, Denver concertgoers can anticipate this beautiful "operatic aria for woodwinds" – just as Mozart intended.

Letters From Mozart offers newcomers and seasoned concertgoers a new approach to the works of Mozart. Beginning with the First Movement of Symphony No. 1 and concluding with the Fourth Movement of Symphony No. 41, the last symphony he composed, the concert delves into Mozart's world and explores an aspect of his life overlooked in the film Amadeus. Through the narration of Mozart's own letters, concertgoers will gain a deeper understanding of his world. Since much of Mozart's life was spent on the road, there is a wealth of letters – the only form of communication available during his era – to explore.

Many of Mozart's most beloved works are featured in the concert, and audiences will delight in how Mozart's letters directly relate to the compositions in both a personal and historical context. Audiences will learn how the First Movement of the String Quartet in C earned the nickname of "Dissonance," why the Piano Concerto No. 20 is one of O'Neil's personal favorites, and how Mozart's relationship with his older sister Nannerl influenced his career. There is so much more to Mozart than you may have imagined! Join the Colorado Symphony at Letters from Mozart to discover aspects of Mozart's world that will shine new light on music that millions around the world cherish and love. Tickets are on sale now and start at $15.

Artists: Colorado Symphony Orchestra
Scott O’Neil, resident conductor
Christie Hageman, soprano
Katie Mahan, piano

Members of the Colorado Symphony Chorus
Duain Wolfe, chorus director


Symphony No. 1, First Movement
Exultate jubilate
Symphony No. 31, First Movement
Sinfonia Concertante, Second Movement
Serenade No. 10 ("Gran Partita"), Third Movement
Overture to the Abduction from the Seraglio
Piano Concerto No. 20, First Movement
String Quartet in C ("Dissonance"), First Movement
The Marriage of Figaro, Aria: "Dove sono"
Requiem, Lacrimosa
Symphony No. 41 ("Jupiter"), Fourth Movement
Performance: Friday, January 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: Remaining tickets currently start at $15.

Tickets are on sale now at www.coloradosymphony.org, the Colorado Symphony Box Office: (303) 623-7876 or (877) 292-7979 or in-person in the lobby of Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex. Hours are Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday, January 20, 2012

There is a Reason I don't Use Apple Products

Apple's new iBookstore is a nightmare waiting to happen to the music industry

Holly Lisle recently blogged about the new Apple iBooks on her blog "Holly Lisle: Official Author Homepage." She removed her books from iBookstore because of a little clause: "if they reject your work you cannot sell it in the format the software created anywhere else."

Whoa! WTF? If you use their software to create your "book" then you have to sell it on their bookstore - and if they don't like it you can't sell it anywhere??? Ah, NO!

There are a lot of great things Apple has done for the computing industry. Put an iPhone next to an Android phone and the functionality, speed and operation is faster, slicker and all around smoother experience. Put a Mac next to a PC and generally what you attempt to do will be more intuitive (although, I find Mac OS frustrating as I'm used to the bass-akwards way Windows works). Music applications (my life's blood) interface better with the hardware than PC's do. So, you'd think, being a composer/musician I'd be all over getting a Mac into my house and syncing it with my iPad and iPhone (I own none of these).

But, Apple has for a very long time been proprietary. If their hardware breaks you have to take it to an authorized Apple dealer or you void your warranty. That Apple dealer will charge you an arm and three toes just to look at it. My friend had an iPhone and the screen stopped working. Apple wanted to charge $80 to investigate and if it was the "known" issue, repair would be another $100. A local tech fixed the same phone for $30 and he came to her. Now, her phone is out of warranty, so if anything else goes wrong she's screwed.

My understanding about the new Apple "free" software is that it is Amazing. Authors are going to LOVE it! However, it sets a dangerous precedent. According to an article in the Telegraph, Apple doesn't want to "own" your book -- no, they just want to control it. Will Apple then say, "If you created your music on our hardware you MUST give iTunes the right to sell it. And if we don't like it you can't sell it elsewhere..."???

With all the talk about SOPA and PIPA and the infringement of rights, piracy and free use, Apple is making yet another play at controlling the industry. I don't buy that, so I don't buy or use their products.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Los Angeles Master Chorale Presents First Major Bruckner Choral Work Ever Performed at Walt Disney Concert Hall

Sunday, February 12, 2012, 7 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall
Music Director Grant Gershon Conducts Brucker’s Mass in E minor
and Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms

Los Angeles Master Chorale continues the season with Bruckner’s full-scale choral masterpiece Mass in E minor on Sunday, February 12, 2012, 7 pm, at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The concert marks the first time any of Bruckner’s major choral works have been performed in Disney Hall. To complement the expressive and poignant masterwork, Music Director Grant Gershon also conducts Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, a contrasting but equally compelling piece filled with both ritual and fireworks, and Brucker’s motet Os Justi.

Bruckner, born to Austrian peasants and a musical protégé from an early age, completed the Mass in E minor for eight-part chorus and wind orchestra in 1866. It is a work that illustrates more than any of his others the composer’s unique style – a mix of romantic fully Brucknerian harmony with blending and contrasting vocal and instrumental textures, and the restrained and austere power of Renaissance polyphony.

“It is one of my favorite Bruckner pieces and is such an important part of the choral literature,” Gershon says. “I’m very pleased to be the first person to conduct this seminal work in Disney Hall.”

Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms was commissioned by the Boston Symphony on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary in 1930. The composer eschewed the traditional 19th Century symphonic structure common at the time, using as the root of the piece a pair of interlocked thirds that forms the base of an opening chord so unusual and striking that it is recognizable from the first sound. The work, whose mighty choruses and stunning softness create a cathedral of sound, “celebrates that most ancient form of communal music making -- one with a healing, even redemptive overtone” (Los Angeles Times). Esa-Pekka Salonen tapped the Los Angeles Master Chorale to perform Symphony of Psalms with the LA Philharmonic for his emotional farewell program in April 2009 to conclude his 17-year tenure with the orchestra, the longest of any music director in the organization’s history.

Tickets range from $19 - $134. Group rates are available. For tickets and information, please call (213) 972-7282, or visit www.lamc.org. (Tickets cannot be purchased at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office except on concert days starting 2 hours prior to the performance.) The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue at First Street in downtown Los Angeles.

LA Chamber Orchestra's Baroque Conversations featuring Violinist Allan Vogel

Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s (LACO) enlightening five-concert “Baroque Conversations” series showcasing exceptional Baroque music launches its sixth year with a program of Bach and Biber on Thursday, January 26, 7 pm, at Zipper Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Special guest Elissa Johnston, soprano, joins LACO Principal Oboe Allan Vogel, who leads the program in celebration of his 40th anniversary with LACO, Concertmaster Margaret Batjer, Principal Cello Andrew Shulman, Principal Flute David Shostac, Flute and Soprano Janice Tipton and Principal Keyboard Patricia Mabee. The concert opens with Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber’s Courente from Mystery Sonata No. 12, “The Ascension,” and also features pieces by Bach, ranging from Toccata in D minor, BWV 913, and Trio Sonata in G major, BWV 1038, to such arias as “Schafe können sicher weiden” (“Sheep may safely graze”) from Cantata No. 208 and “Bist du bei mir” (“If you are with me”), BWV 508, a work lost in the Second World War and rediscovered in the Kiev Conservatory in 2000. In signature LACO style, the artists share their insights into the music from the stage and invite questions from the audience. LACO's “Baroque Conversations” explores the genesis of orchestral repertoire from early Baroque schools through the pre-classical period. A pre-concert reception, beginning at 6 pm, is free to all ticket holders.

Tickets ($50) are on sale now and may be purchased online at laco.org, by calling LACO at 213 622 7001, or at the venue box office on the night of the concert, if tickets remain. Student rush tickets ($10), based on availability, may be purchased at the box office the day of the concert.


LACO Principal Oboe Allan Vogel Leads the Program,
Which Features Concertmaster Margaret Batjer, Principal Cello Andrew Shulman,
Principal Flute David Shostac, Flute and Soprano Janice Tipton
and Principal Keyboard Patricia Mabee

Thursday, January 26, 7 pm, at Zipper Concert Hall, Downtown Los Angeles

Following Two Years of Exponential Growth, Mark O'Connor's Third Instructions Book of "The O'Connor Method" out Feb 14

Mark O'Connor will unveil the third book in The O'Connor Method, his original and rapidly growing new approach to string instrument instruction, in February. Method Book III will teach students the traditional songs and O'Connor compositions found on the accompanying CD, 'American Classics,' a collection of new recordings arranged for violin and piano and performed by O'Connor and pianist Rieko Aizawa. 'American Classics' will also be released February 14 as a stand-alone album on O'Connor's own label OMAC Records. This is O'Connor's first collection comprised solely of traditional American tunes and songs he has released since 'Soppin’ the Gravy,' from his teenage years.

The O'Connor Method, which The New Yorker calls, "an American grown rival to the Suzuki method," includes great folk songs, fiddle tunes and classic themes culled from 400 years of traditional American violin playing. It pulls from all regions of North America and from diverse musical styles including classical, folk, Latin, jazz, rock and ragtime.

Since launching in 2009, the growth of The O'Connor Method has been astonishing. Some of the most prestigious music schools around the country have adopted it including the Third Street Music School in New York City, and the Berklee College of Music, which will host an O'Connor Method Camp in summer 2012. Over the past two years, 300+ violin teachers have been certified to teach the O'Connor Method, and teacher training continues to take place at a growing rate across the country.

Following O'Connor's hit holiday album, 'An Appalachian Christmas,' on which great musicians from varying genres came together around the centerpiece of the American violin, this new installment of The O'Connor Method reinforces the concept of American music as inclusive of diverse styles.

Writing for an Audience: composing music on request

Part 2 (?) of "Commercial Music"

I wasn't really planning on writing a series for this topic, but I've been working on a project for my daughter --a theme song for her "late night" television show project she's doing at work. The idea of the show is to create a 'talk show' like episode to illuminate what their department does. They needed an opening theme so I wrote one.

Living This Life by Chip Michael

However, my daughter and her boss wanted it to be more up-beat, less "minor mode." Interesting request since I wrote the piece in Dorian mode, not really major or minor. But, I gathered what she meant, so I made some minor edits.

Did I sell out? While I like the first version better, the music wasn't written for me. It was written for a specific audience. They wanted to hear something which the first version didn't quite capture. They like the second version much better. In terms of music complexity, the first version has more of what I'd consider "crunchy" chords, finding that place between sweet and tangy.

There's a point to all this. As a composer, I need to be aware of my audience. I need to know who they are. Yes, I do write music just for me - but that doesn't pay the bills. As working composers, we need to make room for both types of music composition and for a place where they meld. Is the 2nd piece worthless because it was written to spec? Not at all.

I'm curious as to what you think.
Which piece do you like better?
How should composers handle commercial demands versus artistic desires?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

London Philharmonic Orchestra offers more Prokofiev plus a live broadcast tonight and free concert streaming

Prokofiev: Man of the People?
13 January - 1 February 2012
Our Prokofiev festival is underway and the next performance, featuring his Fifth Piano Concerto with soloist Steven Osborne, will take place at London's Royal Festival Hall this evening. If you're unable to join us in person, tune in to BBC Radio 3 for a live broadcast of the concert from 7.30pm.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra's April Highlights

Following a performance in Bilbao, Spain (26 March), the SCO and Principal Conductor Robin Ticciati head into the studio to make their second all-Berlioz recording together. Sessions begin on 2 April, just two weeks before the release of their first collaboration on Linn Records. Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique was recorded following the Opening Concerts of the Orchestra’s 2011/12 Season, which included performances of the work, and is released on 16 April. The second disc features the composer’s Les Nuits d’été and La Mort de Cléopâtre, and reunites Ticciati and the SCO with Scottish mezzo soprano Karen Cargill, who has performed both of these works with the Orchestra in live performances during the 2009/10 and 2011/12 Seasons.

Richard Egarr, recently announced as Associate Artist with the SCO, returns following his popular performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Orchestra in December 2011. He takes the dual roles of conductor and harpsichordist in a programme featuring music from some of the greats of the Baroque period - Bach, Vivaldi, Telemann and Heinichen - in St Andrews (11 April), Edinburgh (12 April) and Glasgow (13 April). SCO horn players
Alec Frank-Gemmill and Harry Johnstone are soloists in Heinichen’s Sonata (Suite) in F for two horns and strings, which is framed by Telemann’s Water Music Suite in C ‘Ebb and Flow’ and Bach’s Suite No 4 in D.

Speaking about his appointment as Associate Artist, Richard Egarr said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be forming a closer relationship with the SCO. I have always felt very at home with this orchestra, and love the fact that the whole organisation is filled with fantastically flexible and exciting musicians which so easily allows the planning of all sorts of repertoire. I look forward to creating some special and unique juxtapositions of music both familiar and unfamiliar, old and new.”

The SCO offers more Baroque music later in April when Scottish star violinist Nicola Benedetti performs Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons and Concerto in D ‘Il Grosso Mogul’ RV 208. These live performances (25 - 28 April) in Ayr, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen follow the release in October 2011 of Italia, Benedetti’s CD of Italian baroque concerti and sonatas recorded with the SCO. Both ‘Il Grosso Mogul’ and ‘Summer’ from The Four Seasons feature on the disc. Christian Curnyn directs from the harpsichord. The concert at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall on 26 April is sponsored by SCO Principal Sponsor, Virgin Money.

Between the two baroque concerts, Oliver Knussen spans the centuries with a programme on 20 April (Glasgow) and 21 April (Edinburgh). He conducts the premiere of his own composition, written specially for renowned American pianist Peter Serkin, who will also play Stravinsky’s Movements for Piano and Orchestra. Serkin's rich musical heritage extends back several generations: his grandfather was violinist and composer Adolf Busch and his father pianist Rudolf Serkin. The concerts also include Helen Grime’s A Cold Spring, originally commissioned by Aldeburgh Music, and Beethoven’s Symphony No 8.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

London Symphony Orchestra and Valery Gerfiev are joined by Soloists Denis Matsuev and Sarah Chang in Performances of Russian Music

The London Symphony Orchestra performs an all-Russian programme with its Principal Conductor Valery Gergiev on 21 February. Acclaimed Russian pianist Denis Matsuev is the soloist in Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto, written during a summer trip to Brittany. Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture and Shostakovich’s Symphony No 5 complete the programme.

On 23 February violinist Sarah Chang will perform Shostakovich’s First Violin Concerto with the LSO. The concert opens with Britten’s ‘Four Sea Interludes’ from his opera Peter Grimes, and Gergiev conducts the orchestra in Tchaikovsky’s Sixth (‘Pathetique’) Symphony as part of his cycle of the complete symphonies.

The LSO follows its concerts at the Barbican with a tour to China, in partnership for the first time with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd with four concerts in Beijing and Shanghai in March 2012. The orchestra also travels to Korea for two concerts in Seoul in February 2012.

Tuesday 21 February 7.30pm, Barbican
TCHAIKOVSKY Overture: Romeo and Juliet
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No 3

Valery Gergiev conductor
Denis Matsuev piano
London Symphony Orchestra
Tickets: £10-£35

Thursday 23 February 7.30pm, Barbican
BRITTEN Four Sea Interludes from ‘Peter Grimes’
SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto No 1
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No 6 (‘Pathétique’)

Valery Gergiev conductor
Sarah Chang violin
London Symphony Orchestra
Tickets: £10-£35

Thursday 23 February 6pm, Barbican
Guildhall Artists at the Barbican

SHOSTAKOVICH 2 Pieces for Octet
TCHAIKOVSKY Souvenir de Florence

Giovanni Guzzo violin
Roberto Gonzalez violin
Viktor Stenjems violin
Pablo Hernan violin
Adam Newman viola
Tetsuumi Nagata viola
Brian O’Kane cello
Timothy Lowe cello

Free entry

Monday 27 February 8pm, Seoul Arts Centre
TCHAIKOVSKY Overture: Romeo and Juliet
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No 3

Valery Gergiev conductor
Denis Matsuev piano
London Symphony Orchestra

Tuesday 28 February 8pm, Seoul Arts Centre
BRITTEN Four Sea Interludes from ‘Peter Grimes’
SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto No 1
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No 6 (‘Pathétique’)

Valery Gergiev conductor
Sarah Chang violin
London Symphony Orchestra

Thursday 1 March 7.30pm, Beijing National Centre for the Performing Arts
BRITTEN Four Sea Interludes from ‘Peter Grimes’
SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto No 1
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No 6 (‘Pathétique’)

Valery Gergiev conductor
Sarah Chang violin
London Symphony Orchestra

Friday 2 March 7.30pm, Beijing National Centre for the Performing Arts
TCHAIKOVSKY Overture: Romeo and Juliet
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No 3

Valery Gergiev conductor
Denis Matsuev piano
London Symphony Orchestra

Sunday 4 March 7.30pm, Shanghai Grand Theatre
BRITTEN Four Sea Interludes from ‘Peter Grimes’
SHOSTAKOVICH Violin Concerto No 1
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No 6 (‘Pathétique’)

Valery Gergiev conductor
Sarah Chang violin
London Symphony Orchestra

Monday 5 March 7.30pm, Shanghai Grand Theatre
TCHAIKOVSKY Overture: Romeo and Juliet
PROKOFIEV Piano Concerto No 3

Valery Gergiev conductor
Denis Matsuev piano
London Symphony Orchestra

Secure online booking at lso.co.uk
Box office: 020 7638 8891, open Mon–Sat 10am–8pm, Sun 11am–8pm
In person at the Advance Box Office in the Barbican Centre
(Mon–Sat 10am–9pm; Sun 12pm–9pm)

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

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, followed by a concert at New York’s (le) poisson rouge on January 30th where she will be joined by New York-based baroque ensemble, REBEL.

"...a journey into the very heart and soul of the Italian Baroque." - Interchanging Idioms
Benedetti’s all-encompassing musical curiosity has led her to become one of the most versatile performers today. Not only does she regularly perform with orchestras and give solo and chamber recitals, but she frequently travels specifically for the purpose of music education, especially for El Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise project, which is partnered with Venezuela’s famous program. In addition, Benedetti recently joined Andrea Bocelli for his concert with the New York Philharmonic in Central Park (click here to view) which was immediately followed by performances of Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 5 “Turkish” with the Cincinnati Symphony. Of the concerto performances, the Cincinnati Enquirer stated: “From her first note, it was clear that Benedetti's artistry is impressive. She projected a sweet, stunning sound on her Stradivarius, played with a fresh spirit and clearly had something to say.”

For this album Benedetti decided to explore something new to her: baroque music. Much of her previous repertoire was based on Romantic classics and lesser-known 20th century works, so this repertoire was a new experience for her. 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.

“I started studying baroque playing about three years ago, mostly in Bach,” Benedetti 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.”

“The sound is ringing and brilliant … beautifully shaped and with a tasteful use of vibrato … She plays all the concertos with a sense of freshness and a kind of happy vitality, ably abetted by the SCO … It’s a delightful CD, with a warm and bright recording.” – Record Review, The Strad

Following the release of Italia and concert in New York, Benedetti will travel to the west coast to perform the Bruch’s Violin Concerto no. 1 with the Pacific Symphony.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Soprano Danielle de Niese Triumphs with her new Decca Album and with Performances at the Metropolitan Opera

The “brilliant” (New York Times) soprano Danielle de Niese has triumphed again at the Metropolitan Opera in the new Baroque pastiche The Enchanted Island. The Associated Press describes de Niese as “a live wire whose extroverted show-biz personality perfectly suits the production. She deservedly stops the show with her final aria, a rapid-fire celebration of her newly gained freedom sung to music from Vivaldi's ‘Griselda.’” Performances continue throughout January at the Met including a Live in HD broadcast on January 21.

Danielle de Niese continues to explore Baroque music with her third solo album for Decca, Beauty of the Baroque, accompanied by leading European Baroque orchestra, The English Concert under Harry Bicket. The album, released on January 10, features de Niese in arias and songs by a range of composers including Dowland, Handel, Purcell, Monteverdi, Pergolesi and JS Bach. She is joined by fellow Decca recording artist countertenor Andreas Scholl for ravishing duets from Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea and Handel’s Rodelinda.

The album, already released in Europe, has gained critical attention and The Daily Telegraph (London) says that the album “shows this popular soprano at her best.”

To celebrate this new album de Niese will give a special album release concert on January 23 at New York’s (le) poisson rouge. After the conclusion of her engagements in New York the soprano will travel to Southern California to make her role debut as Norina in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale at the San Diego Opera.

Ebène Quartet Is Named NPR “Best of 2011” and Returns to North America for Nine-City Tour in March

“France’s Ebène Quartet has fast become one of the hottest chamber groups in the world, with excellent reason: The youthful group’s warmth, vitality, deep curiosity and musical intelligence has carried it far already.” – NPR Music

The thrilling, young, and award-winning Ebène Quartet – described by the New York Times as “a string quartet that can easily morph into a jazz band” – added more accolades to an already impressive list when NPR named Fiction, the quartet’s 2011 Virgin Classics release, one of their 10 Favorite Classical Albums of 2011 as well as one of their overall 50 Best Albums of the year. Ebène takes repertoire from that album as well as from September’s all-Mozart album Dissonances on the road in the United States and Canada in March. Performances begin in San Diego (March 2), and include stops in San Francisco (March 8), New Orleans (March 14), and New York City, where they will make their Carnegie/Zankel Hall debut (March 18). Ebène continues its devotion to music education with three master classes at the Colburn School in Los Angeles (March 5-7).

Autumn 2011 has been a banner season for Ebène, with live performances, master classes, and the release of two new recordings from Virgin Classics. The first, Dissonances – described by the Los Angeles Times as “exquisite” – takes its name from the strikingly modern harmonies that open the first movement of the C-major “Haydn” quartet (K. 465); that album also features the composer’s K. 421 “Haydn” quartet and the Divertimento (K. 138).The second recording, Fiction – Live at Folies Bergère, is a concert DVD filmed at one of Paris’s most famous music halls and spotlights music the quartet describes as being performed by “the other Ebène,” including pieces by the Beatles (“Come Together”), Wayne Shorter (“Footprints”), and the quartet’s already talked-about spin on “Misirlou,” a tune made famous by its inclusion in the film Pulp Fiction. After an October performance in California, the Los Angeles Times’s Mark Swed raved, “Ebène is a quartet to catch sooner rather than later.” Mozart’s “Dissonance” Quartet and music from Fiction will be featured on Ebène’s concert programs this season in the United States. During their upcoming tour, Ebène will also perform quartets by Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Mendelssohn, Ravel, Schubert, and Tchaikovsky.

North American 2012 tour dates:

March 2, 2012
San Diego, CA
UC San Diego
Mozart: String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Borodin: String Quartet No. 2
Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80

March 3, 2012
Costa Mesa, CA
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
Mozart: String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Borodin: String Quartet No. 2
Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80

March 4, 2012
Eugene, OR
Mozart: String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Schubert: Quartet in A minor, Op. 29, No. 1, D. 804, "Rosamunde"
Tchaikovsky: Quartet in D Major, Op. 11, "Accordion"

March 5-7, 2012
Los Angeles, CA
Colburn School
Master classes

March 8, 2012
San Francisco, CA
Herbst Theater
Mozart: String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Borodin: String Quartet No. 2
Ravel: String Quartet in F major

March 10, 2012
Edmonton, Canada
Convocation Hall
Mozart: String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Borodin: String Quartet No. 2

March 11-12, 2012
Calgary, Canada
Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall
Mozart: String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Borodin: String Quartet No. 2

March 14, 2012
New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Friends of Music
Mozart: String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Borodin: String Quartet No. 2
Jazz improvisations

March 18, 2012
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall debut)
Jazz improvisations
Mozart: String Quartet in D minor, K. 421
Beethoven: String Quartet in C-sharp minor, Op. 131

Commercial Music: Is it Selling Out or a Different Kind of Talent

Writing Commercial Music, music that sells well in today's market place is tougher than you think

Charlie Brooker recently posted an article in the Guardian, "How to save the British film industry, David Cameron style." It's all about how David Cameron thinks the British film industry ought to focus on commercial movies (according to Mr Brooker). Add to this a recent CD I received for review which is the soundtrack for a web based television show and you'll understand why this is the topic of my post today!

Commercial music is music which focuses on what an audience wants and delivers it. "Serious" composers often put down commercial music as selling out, trying to make money rather than writing music - but I'm not sure they are presenting an honest picture of what it takes to write commercial music. Yes, there is certainly a fair amount of derivative crap in commercial music; bubble gum pop is churned out by the thousands because it's so formulaic. Yet, writing for film where the composer is trying to capture the mood of the moving images as well as kindle something that connects with the audience isn't particularly easy. If you focus on the action, proving accents for the movements you're "Micky Mousing" the music. And if you just rip off some one else's stuff it doesn't play as original.

John Williams has been hammered because his music sounds so very much like other great composers. Well, yes, he's drawing on their connection with audiences to provide music which takes that connection and heightens the experience with the film. Think of the Marconi spaghetti Westerns and the iconic flute and guitar. It's hard to not use flute and guitar when composing for a Western now, because it has that audience connection the music needs to succeed. If you write sweeping orchestral themes based on shifting tri-tone harmonies you end up giving the audience the feeling the whole film is taking place in outer space (shifting tri-tones have been popular for space film music since the beginning).

The CD I'm currently listening to is filled with fairly straight forward music, most of it in common time and I've yet to notice anything particularly challenging in terms of harmonic progression or even striking tonal color. It does capture the essence of the video extremely well. When I watched the episodes on my computer, I was blown away by how effective the music was at creating the mood of the (dare I say) B-grade filming. It's not great cinema, but the music does well to elevate it to more than perhaps it deserves. Even with that the episodes have a sizable fan base and they LOVE the music. Of course they do! It was written with them in mind.

Commercial music isn't just film music. There are numerous other composers who are not writing for film which are writing accessible, audience pleasing works, music which connects with people on first hearing. This isn't easy to do. If you sound too much like Brahms or Schubert you get passed over, plus the music won't have a 21st century sound. The key is to take what is happening in the current trends of classical music, find ways to incorporate that which still maintains audience appeal and package it together into something the musician will want to play, to find challenging --not an easy task.

So, for all of you who find writing commercial music as a sell out - have you ever tried writing it? Maybe, if you did AND it sold well, you have enough money to write the stuff you really want. I rather suspect one reason more composers don't try to do this is because writing commercial music is tougher than it sounds.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Colorado Symphony offers 72-Hour Sale from January 16-18

Discounted tickets available for all regular series concerts

The Colorado Symphony is offering discounted tickets to all of their remaining 2011/12 regular series concerts in a special 72-Hour Sale from January 16-18. Tickets to all Masterworks and Pops concerts are $29, Inside the Score concerts are $19 and Family concerts are $9. The sale begins Monday, January 16 at 12:00am and ends Wednesday, January 18 at 11:59pm. Tickets can be purchased online at www.coloradosymphony.org, by phone at 303.623.7876 and in person at the Boettcher Concert Hall box office. Box office hours are Monday-Friday from 10am-6pm and Saturday from 12pm-6pm.

“This sale is a great way for people to try out the symphony at a low cost,” stated Samantha Teter, the Symphony’s Director of Marketing & Sales. “We have some really exciting concerts coming up yet this season that should interest just about everyone – from Mozart to Beethoven, from Flamenco to Mariachi Cobre, from Jim Brickman to DeVotchKa. This truly is the best time to attend the Symphony.”

The sale does not include the One-Night-Only special concert with Renee Fleming on March 10. Regular ticket service fees apply to all online and phone sales. The sale is not valid on price level 5 seating or previous purchases. There is a limit of 6 tickets per concert per household.

Friday, January 13, 2012

CoLABoratory: Playing It UNsafe Call For Submissions

Submission Deadline: March 15, 2012, 5 PM

ACO announces CoLABoratory: Playing it UNsafe, a research and development laboratory for the creation, development, workshopping, and performance of experimental new music by American composers. The goal of the program is to encourage composers to experiment and stretch their own musical sensibilities by developing new works (or works-in-progress) that expand the range of possibilities for orchestral music. The program will include an extended series of rehearsals and public workshop/readings over a six-month period during the 2012-13 season, culminating in a performance in Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall on Friday, April 5, 2013, conducted by ACO music director George Manahan. ACOs artistic staff members Robert Beaser and Derek Bermel, as well as Morton Subotnick, serve as mentor-composers.

For more information, submission guidelines and form click here.

USB Soundscapes: LSO Artist Portrait - Anne-Sophie Mutter Continues with André Previn, Daniel Müller-Schott and Yuri Bashmet

Feb 19-21 UBS Soundscapes: LSO Artist Portrait Anne-Sophie Mutter

Anne-Sophie Mutter performs André Previn’s Concerto for Violin, Viola and Orchestra with violist Yuri Bashmet and the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer, on Sunday 19 February in the Barbican Hall. John Harbison’s Symphony No 3 and Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite complete the programme.

On Monday 20 February, André Previn and Anne-Sophie Mutter are joined by cellist Daniel Müller-Schott for a chamber recital in the Barbican Hall. They perform Mozart’s Piano Trio No 2 in B-flat major, Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No 1 in D minor and Previn’s own Piano Trio. The following day there is the rare opportunity to witness students from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in a masterclass with André Previn, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Daniel Müller-Schott at LSO St Luke’s at 2pm. The masterclass is part of Centre for Orchestra, the ground-breaking initiative in orchestral training which is part of a unique educational collaboration between the London Symphony Orchestra, Guildhall School and the Barbican.

Sunday 19 February, 7.30pm, Barbican Hall
COPLAND Appalachian Spring – Suite
ANDRÉ PREVIN Concerto for Violin, Viola & Orchestra

Monday 20 February, 7.30pm, Barbican Hall
Chamber Recital
MOZART Piano Trio No 2 in B flat major
MENDELSSOHN Piano Trio No 1 in D minor

Tuesday 21 February, 2-4pm, LSO St Luke’s, 161 Old Street, EC1V 9NG

An inspiring masterclass given by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, conductor and pianist André Previn, and cellist Daniel Müller-Schott with students from the Guildhall School.

Secure online booking at lso.co.uk
Box office: 020 7638 8891, open Mon–Sat 10am–8pm, Sun 11am–8pm
In person at the Advance Box Office in the Barbican Centre
(Mon–Sat 10am–9pm; Sun 12pm–9pm)

Boulder Symphony concert “Heroism Reborn”, featuring the World Premiere piece Invisible Heros by composer Chip Michael

Boulder Symphony, the Community Orchestra of Boulder County, is proud to present our fourth concert of the 2011-2012 season, “Heroism Reborn” at 7:00 pm Friday, February 17 at First Presbyterian Church, Boulder. Boulder Symphony music director Devin Patrick Hughes will conduct the orchestra in the World Premiere piece Invisible Heros by composer Chip Michael; Handel’s "Ch’io mai vi possa" from Siroe; Gabrieli’s Sonata piano e’ forte; Shostakovich’s Concerto no. 2 in F Major featuring the winners of the Colorado State Music Teachers Association Concerto competition; and the magnificent "Eroica" Symphony No. 3 by Beethoven.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students and seniors. Additional information is available at www.bouldersymphony.org or at 970-577-1550.

BBC Radio 3 To Premiere Newly Discovered Brahms Piano Piece

We wanted to share with you some very interesting news about the discovery of a rare, unpublished piece of music:

BBC Radio 3 has uncovered a fragment of new music by Johannes Brahms which is being unveiled in a short film to be broadcast on Saturday 21 January at 12:15 (GMT), with celebrated pianist András Schiff playing the piece and discussing it with music journalist Tom Service.

We are hoping you can help spread the word on this exciting news, covering it on your website and posting it to your social media channels.

Further details in the press release below. Additionally, embeddable video content will available from Radio 3’s YouTube channel next week.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

LA Chamber Orchestra performance features Violinist Nigel Armstrong

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.”

Tickets ($24 – $105) are on sale now and may be purchased online at laco.org, by calling LACO at 213 622 7001, or at the venue box office on the night of the concert, if tickets remain. Discounted tickets are also available by phone for seniors 65 years of age and older and groups of 12 or more. College students may purchase rush tickets one hour before curtain; also available for students is the $25 “Campus to Concert Hall All Access Pass” – good for all seven of LACO’s Orchestral Series concerts at either the Alex Theatre or Royce Hall and for all three Westside Connections concerts at The Broad Stage, plus other benefits.

Mozart's romantic comedy The Marriage of Figaro Opens just in time for Valentine's Day

Mozart's comedy The Marriage of Figaro has been praised by critics for centuries as "the perfect opera." An extraordinary balancing act between a screwball comedy and a touching drama of redemption, the masterpiece opens Opera Colorado's 2012 season with four performances at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House, February 11 through 19.

Maestro John Baril makes his debut as conductor of the production as he leads the Opera Colorado Orchestra and Chorus. Baril's other conducting credits include many productions with Central City Opera where he is Music Director as well as Opera Delaware, Nashville Opera, and many others.
Stage director David Gately returns to Opera Colorado to lend his comic hand to the staging. Gately's direction of the Rossini opera The Barber of Seville was a smash hit at Opera Colorado in 2009. The Rossini opera is "prequel" to the Mozart opera and includes all the same characters, so hopes are high that Gately's staging will strike another chord with Denver audiences this time around.

The cast stars Italian baritone Simone Alberghini in the title role of Figaro. Alberghini last appeared with Opera Colorado in The Elixir of Love in 2007. Alberghini is a native of Bologna, Italy and has performed with many leading opera companies across Europe.

Four performances:
Saturday, February 11 at 7:30 pm
Tuesday, February 14 at 7:30 pm
Friday, February 17 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, February 19 at 2:00 pm

Where: All performances take place at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Performing Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis Streets in downtown Denver.

Ticket prices start at $20 and go up to $165
Tickets available online at www.operacolorado.org or by phone at 800.982.ARTS

Deborah Voigt's Acclaimed Brünnhilde Returns to the Met for Götterdämmerung, the Climax of Wagner’s Ring Cycle

"Style, gutsiness and passion" – New York Daily News on Voigt's Brünnhilde

Reigning American dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt once again brings Wagner's warrior-goddess Brünnhilde alive at the Metropolitan Opera when she stars in Götterdämmerung, the climactic chapter of the composer's epic Der Ring des Nibelungen tetralogy. The January 27-February 11 run of Götterdämmerung, in the new Robert Lepage production, follows her acclaimed performances as Brünnhilde in the cycle's preceding operas at the Met, Die Walküre and Siegfried. This Götterdämmerung will be transmitted to movie theaters worldwide on February 11 as part of the Met's popular Live in HD series. The four Ring operas return to the Met in April for three complete cycles (April 7-May 12), with Voigt’s Brünnhilde taking center stage.

Impressed by Voigt as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times said that he had "seldom heard the role sung with such rhythmic accuracy and verbal clarity," while the Huffington Post raved that the power of Voigt's portrayal meant that "you could never take your eyes off her." And The Classical Review enthused at length over Voigt's Brünnhilde in Siegfried: "No special effects were offered to visualize the transformation of Brünnhilde from formerly feisty warrior-goddess to incandescent lover, but then, Deborah Voigt didn't need any. As it was, her performance felt more like a solo flight, her voluptuous high notes soaring over the orchestra."

Conducted by Fabio Luisi, the Met's Götterdämmerung also includes in the cast Waltraud Meier (Waltraute), Wendy Bryn Harmer (Gutrune), and Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried). Following her turn on stage at the Met, Voigt will join the Hamburg Symphony in Germany to sing the opera's "Immolation Scene" in concert (Feb 18-19).

Prior to her star turn in Götterdämmerung, Voigt hosts the Live in HD broadcast of the Met’s new Baroque pastiche, The Enchanted Island, on January 21.

American Composers Orchestra Releases Second Digital Album - 5 World Premiere Recordings

World Premiere Recordings by Kati Agócs, Michael Gatonska, Fang Man, Clint Needham, and Gregory Spears
Release date: February 14, 2012

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) announces the February 14 release of its second digital download album, Emerging Composers Series: Vol. 1. Following the March 2011 release of the orchestra’s inaugural digital album (Playing It UNsafe), this new album features world premiere recordings of music by rising-star composers performed between 2006 and 2009 as part of Orchestra Underground, ACO’s cutting-edge orchestral series at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. By making available never-before-recorded orchestral music, ACO goes beyond the concert hall, reaching new listeners and gaining greater exposure and visibility for the young composers it showcases in this series. ACO will release two additional digital albums this spring – an album of new works for extended instruments with the orchestra, and an album of multimedia works.

Emerging Composers Series: Vol. 1 includes music by Kati Agócs, Michael Gatonska, Fang Man, Clint Needham, and Gregory Spears. Gregory Spears’s Finishing was first developed as part of ACO’s Readings and Lab at University of Pennsylvania in 2007 – a sublime work that uses dog whistles (which are audible) and tape recorders within the orchestra. Kati Agócs deftly strings together a series of exquisite, intimate sonorities in her ACO-commissioned Pearls. Clint Needham’s Chamber Symphony explores themes of personal and universal transformation; the composition was the result of his winning ACO’s prestigious Underwood commission. Fang Man, also an alumna of the Underwood program, combines clarinet soloist (ACO’s own Creative Advisor, virtuoso clarinetist Derek Bermel) and electronic techniques (performed by the composer and Alexis Baskind) with melodies from Chinese opera in Resurrection. Michael Gatonska, another Underwood commissionee, uses the ever-shifting configurations of birds in flight as the organizing principal behind his After the Wings of Migratory Birds, creating music that migrates through space with dynamic energy. Four of the five works on this album are ACO commissions.

Creating opportunities for emerging composers is central to the mission of American Composers Orchestra, which seeks to be the leading research and development laboratory for American composers, orchestras and the wider cultural community. All too often it is the case that up-and-coming composers are excluded from professional orchestra programs, as better-known music is programmed. Yet, writing for orchestra remains one of the supreme challenges and rewards for most composers. The instrumental possibilities, the timbral nuances, the dynamic range, and the raw energy of dozens of talented instrumentalists unified in their musical execution is still, even in the 21st century, a singular and powerful sound experience. It is what has drawn these fine young composers to the orchestra, and it is the opportunity to see and hear what these composers might do with these possibilities that has drawn ACO to them.