Showing posts from November, 2011

I love music... It moves me to new heights, always

I don't listen to music as much as I should (according to friends and family). Heck, I don't listen to music as much as I'd like, but partly that is due to the effect it has on me. Music creates in me a sense of wonderment, a blissful haze at the immensely marvelous world I inhabit. This includes music from the anonymous composers pre-Palestrina, to the post-Modernist composers of today. Everything from Bach's beautiful lines to the angular atonality of Webern, I love it all. The problem with loving it all is trying to decide what to listen to, what to embrace at any given moment. Because I also compose, this can be particularly problematic as anything I listen to can (and does) affect what I write. So, if I'm in the midst of a piece (or 4 as I am right now), listening to pieces in styles different from what I'm working on can reek havoc on my own composition. Yet, there are moments like tonight, when I had a particularly trying day --not a bad one, ju

Anna Netrebko Makes La Scala Debut in Season-Opening Don Giovanni on Dec 7

Following her star turn in the season-opening production of Anna Bolena at the Metropolitan Opera, Anna Netrebko – the “diva assoluta del mondo” ( Opera News ) – returns to Europe to reprise one of her most celebrated roles: Donna Anna in Don Giovanni . Having performed Mozart’s heroine to rave reviews on tour with the Met and at the Salzburg Festival, Mariinsky Theatre, Vienna State Opera, and Covent Garden (the last of which prompted Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times to praise her “melting poignancy and gleaming power”), the superstar soprano takes her signature portrayal to Milan for her eagerly-anticipated debut at the Teatro alla Scala in a season-opening new production by Robert Carsen (Dec 7–23). For her long-awaited first La Scala appearance, “the reigning new diva of the early 21st century” (Associated Press) graces a world-class cast that includes leading Mozart specialist Peter Mattei as Don Giovanni and star bass-baritone Bryn Terfel as his beleaguered servant L

The Met: Live in HD Presents RENÉE FLEMING in the title role of Handel's Rodelinda

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 3 at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT Renée Fleming returns to The Met: Live in HD in one of her greatest roles, the title character in Handel’s Rodelinda. In this Baroque showpiece, Fleming plays a queen who must fight treacherous enemies to keep her son safe and the memory of her exiled husband alive. Handel’s score gives her the opportunity to sing some of the most beautiful and challenging arias in her extensive repertoire. The all-star supporting cast includes two of the world’s most prominent countertenors, Andreas Scholl and Iestyn Davies, as the exiled king Bertarido and his friend Unulfo; versatile mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as the noblewoman Eduige; Joseph Kaiser as the usurper Grimoaldo; and Shenyang as Grimoaldo’s corrupt advisor, Garibaldo. Baroque specialist Harry Bicket, who led the 2004 Met premiere of Stephen Wadsworth’s fast-paced, fluid production, conducts. Deborah Voigt hosts the transmission. Encore screenings: Select U.S. theaters: Wednesday,

Composing something New... But is it good?

All art, music included, is subjective. So, how can a composer be certain a piece they've composed is any good? The point of this post is not to elicit compliments, to to examine the question of whether a composer can judge their own work. We know Bach's music is good because not only is it pleasant to listen to, but analysis of the music shows a series of layers to the composition. This proves Bach did more than just jot some dots on a page. Mozart, Beethoven, Mahler, Stravinsky all did the same thing. There is the sound we love, but there is also a grace, an elegance to the way the pieces are put together that make the pieces so much more than just random notes that sound good. In the past six months I've written a variety of different pieces of music, ranging from some solo flute music to a piano concerto, a string quartet to an orchestral dance. To some extent there is a common "sound" to these pieces, so that if you heard them played in the same conce

Alessio Bax: on the radio, on disc, and with the Dallas Symphony

"I'm awfully glad to have met Alessio, and I can't wait to hear what he'll bring to the music he plays in the future," wrote Performance Today host Fred Child in "The Poetry and Power of Pianist Alessio Bax," his most recent "Favorite Sessions" blog post for NPR Music (Nov 10). Child isn't Bax's only admirer. In its review of the pianist's new album, Rachmaninov: Preludes & Melodies , the Gramophone magazine praised "the wondrously gifted Alessio Bax," saying, "You would have to have a heart of stone not to be beguiled by Bax's romantic warmth." American Record Guide proclaimed, "This is an outstanding Rachmaninov program... . Bax conquers all with plenty of technique to spare." In September, the pianist returned to the Dallas Symphony to play Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 1 with music director Jaap van Zweden. Styling him "the eloquent pianist Alessio Bax," the Dallas M

Deutsche Grammophon & Decca Classics Victorious in 2011 Diapason d’or awards

France’s most prestigious recording prizes — the Diapason d’or de l’année — for 2011 were awarded on Thursday in Paris. The Diapason d’or de l’année , honoring the year’s finest CDs and DVDs, are voted by a jury composed of critics from Diapason magazine and broadcasters from France Musique. Among the victors were Universal recording artists Jonas Kaufmann and Pierre Boulez as well as I Fagiolini’s recording of Alessandro Striggio’s Mass in 40 Parts. This is just the latest in a list of outstanding critical and commercial plaudits for I Fagiolini’s Striggio release on Decca – the world premiere recording of the 40-part mass, which is said to have inspired Tallis’ Spem in alium, after the work was lost for almost 450 years. As well as winning Gramophone ’s “Early Music Award” last month, The Observer described it as “a masterpiece”. Jonas Kaufmann also recently received an award from Gramophone for his recital album, Verismo . For the Diapason d’or de l’année Kaufmann wi

Danças do Coração (Dance of the Heart) -a new orchestral dance by Chip Michael

Using contemporary composition techniques, the music creates a sense of anticipation found in passionate Latin style dance music. This first completed work of the set, entitled Dança apaixonado (Passionate Dance), is one part of a set of orchestral dances entitled Danças do Coração (Dances of the Heart). Each piece is an exploration of dance music and the way some indigenous forms create subtle shifts in the meter with hesitations or anticipations.For these pieces, these "shifts" are written in for the orchestra. Dança Apaixonado begins in 15/16 with an anticipation of the beat.That anticipation becomes even more slight as the music moves into 31/16, although it feels like the orchestra is playing in 4/4.The point of the music is to create the illusion of dance and yet capture the essence of what dance musicians have known for centuries: good music doesn't fit into a square box. The music is also heavy in terms of percussion use. While it only requires a timpan

2011 Holiday Pops Season with Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Opens Wednesday, December 7

One of New England’s most beloved holiday traditions, the Holiday Pops season, under the direction of Keith Lockhart, opens on Wednesday, December 7, and runs through Saturday, December 24, at Symphony Hall. On Saturday, December 3, at noon on the Christian Science Plaza, Keith Lockhart will celebrate the opening of Holiday Pops with a pre-season kick-off event, inviting the greater Boston community to a holiday carol sing-off in an attempt to achieve a new Guinness Book world record for the most carolers gathered in one place. Among the celebrities and performing artists visiting Symphony Hall this season, comedian/actor/musician Jim Belushi and pop vocal act Rockapella will join Keith Lockhart and the Pops at “Company Christmas” on Wednesday, December 14. New Kid on the Block’s Joey McIntyre will also appear as a guest vocalist with members of the Pops to raise the holiday spirits of patients at the Boston Pops Annual Children’s Hospital concert on Tuesday, December 20. Each of the

René Pape Takes His Méphistophélès Back to Met on Nov 29

CD Signing at Met Shop on Dec 9 and Worldwide HD Broadcast of Faust on Dec 10 “You can't get much better as Méphistophélès than René Pape.” — Opera Brittania Few singers bring Méphistophélès to life like bass René Pape, who reprises his portrayal of the charming devil at the Metropolitan Opera in a November 29-January 19 run of Gounod's Faust , staged by Des McAnuff. Pape launched his season in the highly esteemed all-star David McVicar production of Faust at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The glowing reviews included this from the UK's Daily Telegraph : "René Pape was simply magnificent as Méphistophélès , his vocal power, histrionic authority and sly wit putting him in the Chaliapin league." During the Met run, to celebrate his internationally lauded new Deutsche Grammophon release, Wagner, Pape will meet his New York fans at 3 pm on December 9, when he signs CDs at the Met Opera Shop. The following day, opera lovers worldwide can revel in Pape'

Leif Ove Andsnes Gives His First U.S. Performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto With Pittsburgh Symphony Nov 25/27

The celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes gives his first U.S. performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Manfred Honeck on November 25 and 27, followed soon after by a performance of the work with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Roger Norrington (Nov 30 and Dec 1). Early in 2012 he plays it again with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Zinman (Jan 12–14, 17), before turning to the Third Concerto, which he performs with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Herbert Blomstedt (Jan 19-21). Beethoven’s music figures prominently throughout Andsnes’s 2011-12 season and beyond, with numerous concerto performances and recitals across Europe, North America, and Japan, along with his debut recording for Sony Classical. “Preparing myself for my first performance of Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto this past summer, when I performed it with La Scala Philharmonic and Maestro Gianandrea Noseda, I came to understand why th

Deutsche Grammophon Releases Soprano Patricia Petibon’s New Album – Melancolía: Spanish Arias and Songs

The soprano fulfills a lifelong dream of recording songs from not only Spain but also Cuba, Brazil and France OUT NOW After two recitals on Deutsche Grammophon featuring works by Mozart, Haydn, Handel and their contemporaries, French soprano Patricia Petibon turns her attention to Spain and then other countries for songs and arias. This unique and personal collection of works all revolve around the idea of melancholy. According to Petibon, “at the center [of the idea] is the character of Salud in Falla’s La vida breve . She embodies the melancholy of the title, the loss of hope. Melancholy is a balance in life, a sadness that binds us to death. Salud represents the darkest side of melancholy that tends toward tragedy. But this sort of melancholy can also depict the radiance of childhood, of joy and laughter. What I wanted to explore through this disc was the journey between these two poles.” Throughout her life Petibon has been attracted to Spain and its music. Early on she adde

This week's Top Ticket in Denver: Too Hot To Handel

Join Colorado Symphony December 16-17 for Marin Alsop conducting the ever popular Too Hot to Handel This R&B, jazz, and gospel reworking of Handel’s “Messiah” has audiences rocking in the aisles. Join Marin Alsop, the Colorado Symphony, the Colorado Symphony Chorus and special guest vocalists for the 14th annual jazzy retelling of Handel’s great classic. HOLIDAY SERIES Too Hot To Handel FRI 12/16 - 7:30 p.m. SAT 12/17 - 7:30 p.m. Boettcher Concert Hall Marin Alsop, conductor laureate Colorado Symphony Chorus Mary Louise Burke, associate director Cynthia Renee Saffron, soprano Vaneese Thomas, mezzo-soprano Lawrence Clayton, tenor Clifford Carter, piano Dana Landry, organ Clint de Ganon, drums

Opera Colorado Announces Chorus Auditions for 2012 Season

Opera Colorado will be holding auditions for chorus members on Sunday, December 11 from 12 pm to 3 pm at the Robert and Judi Newman Center for Theatre Education in the Historic Tramway Building. The Opera Colorado chorus is currently seeking tenors, baritones & basses for the 2012 Season productions of The Marriage of Figaro (Italian), Florencia en el Amazonas (Spanish), and Il Trovatore (Italian). In addition, we have limited audition slots available for sopranos and mezzo-sopranos. Singers who have auditioned for the chorus in the past two years do not need to re-audition at this time. Applicants who are being considered will be contacted and given an audition time. The Opera Colorado Chorus is a largely volunteer group. Participants are paid a stipend for each production to cover parking and transportation costs. To request an audition slot, interested singers should send - VIA E-MAIL - their résumé, or a simple list of previous experience to Brad Trexell at btrexell@operacol

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

Directed by Arin Arbus in Her Opera Debut “The most gifted new director to emerge this year.” – The New York Times [2009] Houston Grand Opera’s new production of Benjamin Britten’s intimate but intensely gripping chamber opera The Rape of Lucretia takes place on February 3–11, 2012 and features the young American theatre director Arin Arbus in her operatic debut. Arbus is the associate artistic director of Theatre for a New Audience, a classical off-Broadway company. She has made headlines in past seasons with her compelling direction of three Shakespeare productions, including her 2009 Othello , which received six Lortel nominations. In early 2010 she was featured in the New York Times , which spotlighted her work leading a theatre company of inmates at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison in upstate New York; according to Arbus, it was her work there that re-ignited her passion for directing and storytelling. Mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, last heard at

Luca Pisaroni Reaps Universal Praise as Leporello in the Metropolitan Opera's New Don Giovanni

"Charismatic and compulsively watchable.” –New York Observer on Pisaroni's Leporello In the first of several high-profile appearances this season, Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni earned universal acclaim for his star turn as Leporello in the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Mozart's Don Giovanni , which ran from October 13-November 11. The New York Observer deemed Pisaroni "charismatic and compulsively watchable," while the New York Times enthused: "The bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni was a dynamic Leporello, singing with a muscular voice, rich colorings and agility." He sang alongside such talents as Peter Mattei and Mariusz Kwiecien (as Don Giovanni), Barbara Frittoli (Donna Elvira) and Ramón Vargas (Don Ottavio), led by Met principal conductor Fabio Luisi. The Financial Times singled out his Leporello for special praise, saying, "Pisaroni ignored buffo clichés as Leporello, making the servant eminently serious, eminently sonorou

John D. Goldman to step down as San Francisco Symphony President effective October 2012

Goldman’s decade of accomplishments includes Centennial season celebration, completion of Second Century campaign, Keeping Score multimedia project, 10-year Gustav Mahler recording project and expansion of education programs ohn D. Goldman, President of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) since 2001, has announced he will step down in October 2012, completing eleven years of distinguished accomplishments central to raising the artistic profile, expanding education programs, and strengthening the use of media and technology at the 100-year-old arts institution. Sakurako Fisher has been named President-Elect and will be officially elected to the office of President at the Board of Governors’ Annual Meeting on October 27, 2012. Upon the end of his term, John Goldman will remain a member of the SFS Board of Governors. John D. Goldman’s many accomplishments in 10 years to date as Board President include the launch and completion of the Symphony’s Second Century campaign to support the Orche

Colorado Symphony Presents "Messiah by Candlelight"

The breathtaking "Messiah by Candlelight" returns to the intimate setting of Montview BoulevardPresbyterian Church Messiah by Candlelight – the Colorado Symphony's breathtaking production of Handel's Messiah – will return to the intimate setting of Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church this holiday season for three inspirational performances on Tuesday, December 13, Wednesday, December 14 and a sold out performance on Sunday, December 18. Presented for the first time in 2010, the Colorado Symphony's Messiah by Candlelight is one of the most memorable and poignant performances of the holiday season. For 2011, the Colorado Symphony, led by resident conductor Scott O’Neil, is joined by the Colorado Symphony Chorus and celebrated guest soloists including soprano Suzanne Ramo, mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala, tenor Steven Sanders and baritone Robert Gardner. Concertgoers will cherish the opportunity to experience this inspirational choral favorite in a traditional se

St Louis Symphony in Unison® Chorus Airport Performance

Chorus Rehearsing at Lambert Monday, November 20 to help ease holiday travel stress Thanksgiving is the busiest, and perhaps most trying travel time of the year. The St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON® Chorus hopes to alleviate some of that transportation stress through the power of music. On Monday, November 21, conductor Kevin McBeth and the entire IN UNISON Chorus will take their rehearsal on the road, performing for airline passengers at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. The group, comprised of 125 singers from churches across the St. Louis region, will rehearse its upcoming A Gospel Christmas concert at the airport’s new Meet and Greet area, located by the baggage claim carousels. It’s hoped the rehearsal will help get Lambert travelers in the holiday spirit as they head out for Thanksgiving. The group will begin its rehearsal at 7pm; it’s expected to last about an hour. Special programs are planned at Powell Hall throughout the month of December and include: ·

Tenet Honors St. Cecilia’s Day with Music of Henry Purcell at Trinity Wall Street on Nov 22

On November 22, Trinity Wall Street presents “Odes”, a concert celebrating St. Cecilia’s Day to be given by Tenet, one of New York’s preeminent vocal ensembles (Trinity Church: Broadway at Wall Street). Led by artistic director Jolle Greenleaf, Tenet welcomes violinist and conductor Scott Metcalfe as guest music director for the program. Metcalfe will conduct a stellar ensemble that includes sopranos Jolle Greenleaf and Molly Quinn, countertenors Geoffrey Williams and Ryland Angel, tenors Sumner Thompson and Scott Mello, and basses Jesse Blumberg and Mischa Bouvier. Their program features music by celebrated English composer Henry Purcell, alongside music for Baroque trumpet performed by Kris Kwapis. A preview performance of “Odes” will be given the preceding day, on Monday, November 21, in Trinity Wall Street’s St. Paul’s Chapel (Broadway at Fulton Street). The program, an invigorating mix of odes, arias, and trumpet-based instrumental works, showcases the range of Henry Purcell’s

Decca Releases Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig in an All-New Complete Beethoven Cycle

All Nine Symphonies and Eight Overtures, Recorded in the Gewandhaus, Available November 21, 2011 In 1825 the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig performed the first complete cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies in the history of music under the direction of Johann Philipp Christian Schulz. This momentous occasion began a tradition in Leipzig, one that has been embraced by all succeeding music directors including Riccardo Chailly, the present principal conductor. For the maestro’s first recording of Beethoven’s symphonies Decca will release a comprehensive cycle of all nine symphonies paired with eight overtures – all recorded at the Gewandhaus in stunningly realized performances. The full set will be available November 21, 2011. Over the last three years Chailly and the orchestra have presented the symphonies and overtures in concert and then set about recording each. To celebrate this monumental occasion, Chailly and the Gewandhaus Orchestra have just completed four critically acclaime

WQXR presents Beethoven sonata marathon Nov 20 at The Greene Space

WQXR, New York’s sole dedicated classical music station, offers an extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime experience with a twelve-hour marathon of all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas on Sunday, November 20 at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, the station’s downtown venue. Hosted by WQXR’s Midge Woolsey and Terrance McKnight, this unique event highlights the station’s Beethoven Awareness Month, and will be streamed live at . Performing the 32 piano sonatas – including such masterpieces as the “Moonlight,” “Appassionata,” and “Hammerklavier” – are some of today’s most promising young Beethoven interpreters, including Inon Barnatan, Alessio Bax, Jonathan Biss, Jeremy Denk, Benjamin Hochman, Valentina Lisitsa, Natasha Paremski, and Joyce Yang, as well as rising stars from the Juilliard School. The milestone marathon will be presented in six two-hour parts. All-day passes are available at, and links for tickets to individual segments are provided below.

WNYC to Celebrate John Schaefer's 30th Anniversary on the NYC Airwaves on Friday, Dec. 2 at 8pm

JS 30: Three Decades of John Schaefer Angelique Kidjo to Emcee Celebration of WNYC’s Pioneering Music Host, with guests including Steve Reich, Laurie Anderson, We Are Augustines, and Simone Dinnerstein In 1981, a young radio host from Brooklyn came to WNYC. JOHN SCHAEFER was hired to read newscasts and introduce classical music, but soon found himself hosting a new music show that quickly became the on-air hub of the fertile downtown music scene. Thirty years later, Schaefer is a singular force at WNYC – a host who retains his street cred, but can often be found emceeing broadcasts from the New York Phil or Carnegie Hall. NEW SOUNDS continues to champion new music, international voices, and obscure artists; the highly-regarded NEW SOUNDS LIVE concert series presents commissioned works and unexpected pairings of artists; and SOUNDCHECK is the city’s only multi-genre, multiplatform source for smart conversation and live music. The only thing that hasn’t changed? Schaefer’s pe

Colorado Symphony Adds Concerts in 2012 Spring Season

New offerings include Valentine Romance, Gershwin and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble The Colorado Symphony announces several new additions to the 2011/12 concert season, as well as the addition of extra performances and new dates for several of its most popular concerts. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to fill open dates in the Spring with new concerts and added performances,” states Interim CEO Jim Copenhaver. “These concerts create revenue-generating opportunities for us.” Leading the series of concert announcements is Valentine Classics, an evening of the romantic era's most passionate and dreamy works on Saturday, February 11 – just in time for Valentine's Day. Music and dance lovers will also be thrilled to learn new concert dates for "Cleo Parker Robinson Dances Romeo and Juliet:” Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31. “We are very pleased to be able to continue this long-time partnership with one of Denver’s finest arts entities,” states Cope

Marin Alsop returns to Colorado for Too Hot To Handel

Experience the one-and-only R&B, jazz, rock and gospel reworking of Handel’s Messiah with the Colorado Symphony! Colorado Symphony conductor laureate Marin Alsop returns to Colorado for a 14th straight year to conduct the one-and-only Too Hot to Handel – the incomparable reinterpretation of Handel’s Messiah – in two spectacular performances on Friday, December 16 and Saturday, December 17 at Boettcher Concert Hall. Called “the jazziest, most soulful reinterpretation of Handel's Messiah you'll ever hear” by the New York Post, Too Hot to Handel features the Colorado Symphony and Chorus, joined by acclaimed soloists including soprano Cynthia Renée Saffron, mezzo-soprano Vaneese Thomas and tenor Lawrence Clayton. Heralded as "a crossover project that really works" by the St. Petersburg Times and "Handel with flair" by BBC Magazine, Too Hot to Handel takes the timeless brilliance of Handel’s classic oratorio and infuses it with a blend of jazz, gospel, rock

The Agony and the Ecstasy - and such honesty too from the Elias String Quartet!

“Up until recently, I’d always found op.130 (and its last movement op.133) the hardest Beethoven quartet to understand. It’s the first, 3rd, 4th and last movements (the Grosse Fugue) that were particularly enigmatic to me. I didn’t understand the connections between movements, the tonality relationships, what the characters are, and the meaning of this 15 minute relentless fugue that ends it. The fugue seemed an intellectual tour de force to me, but without the incredible depth of emotion there is in all of Beethoven’s other music. However I was convinced that this must be from my own lack of understanding rather than Beethoven’s fault! We’ve just had a week of rehearsals to really get to grips with it, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to immerse myself in the op.130 world and find my way into it….” Such honesty comes from Elias String Quartet cellist, Sara Bitlloch, doing exactly what The Beethoven Project website and blog was set up to do – share thoughts, ideas, doubts -

Tanglewood Announces Their New Season Nov 17 at 1:15 EST

Press Conference, Thursday, November 17, at 1:15 p.m EST

Streaming Live From the Academy: A 40th Anniversary Screening of "The Last Picture Show" Hosted by Luke Wilson

The Academy celebrates the 40th anniversary of “The Last Picture Show” with the L.A. premiere of the digitally restored “Definitive Director's Cut” and an onstage discussion with members of the cast and crew. Watch live at Please note: The movie will not be streamed.

London Symphony Orchestra Continues Nielsen Symphony Cycle with Sir Colin Davis

The London Symphony Orchestra and LSO President Sir Colin Davis continue their cycle of Nielsen symphonies with performances of the Symphony No. 2 on 4 & 6 December and Symphony No. 3 on 11 & 13 December. The four movements of Nielsen’s Symphony No. 2 were inspired by a caricature of ‘The Four Temperaments’ which the composer came across in a country pub; Choleric, Phlegmatic, Melancholic and Sanguine. Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3, ‘Espansiva’, refers to ‘the outward growth of the mind’s scope’ and features influences from Nordic folk music. In addition to the Nielsen cycle, Mitsuko Uchida completes her survey of Beethoven’s piano concertos with the Piano Concerto No. 4 on 4 & 6 December and Piano Concerto No. 5 (‘Emperor’) on 11 & 13 December. Beethoven was the soloist at the premiere of his Fourth Piano Concerto, his last public concert before deafness prevented him from performing. Beethoven’s fifth and final concerto was first performed in 1811, and was nicknamed the

Susan Graham’s “Commanding Performance” Makes San Francisco Opera’s Xerxes a “Genuine Triumph”

Susan Graham – “America’s favorite mezzo” ( Gramophone ) – has just scored another major triumph, this time in the title role of Handel’s Xerxes at San Francisco Opera. As Mercury News reports, “hers was a commanding performance,” with Nicholas Hytner’s revival of the Olivier Award-winning staging already looking to be “the hit of the season.” The San Francisco Chronicle concurs: “It only took about five minutes on Sunday afternoon for the San Francisco Opera’s first production of Handel’s Xerxes to establish itself as a genuine triumph. …For vocal allure, theatrical dexterity, and visual inventiveness, this Xerxes proved to be a complete delight from beginning to end.” As for the Grammy Award-winning mezzo herself, “In the title role, Graham added to her long catalog of San Francisco successes with a performance of vocal majesty and vigor – her delivery of Xerxes’ big Act II showpiece aria was a tour de force – as well as a comic gift that has rarely been called into evidence

Ads on the Blog and their affect on my thought process

Every so often I stop by my blog to check on how things look, mostly after posting an article or publishing a comment.  On the side bar of the blog posts are tidbits of information and advertisements.  No, these don't really pay me anything, much more than the occasional dinner out (about once or twice a year), but I keep ads there because they're focused on music (or suppose to be).  So, if once in a while one of my readers sees something they like, then the blog has done it's job and brought you information you didn't have.   Today the ad I saw was for San Francisco Symphony "Holidays with the Symphony." It made me smile.  I'm a sucker for the holidays, to the point my wife & I watched an older holiday film last night just for something different.  It wasn't a great film, but it certainly put me in the mood to start thinking about Christmas. Is this too early?  Well, not if I want to get Christmas presents to distant people in a timely manner

Thinking about time in music

Much of my composing searches for answers in a never-ending quest: What is time in music? The majority of my compositions have some sort of intense rhythmic element, the most recent being a 19/16 journey for a string quartet. The quartet is entitled Atmospheres  tangentially inspired by Ligeti's orchestral piece of the same name.  Rather than create a sonic journey as he did, I use each movement as a glimpse at various cloud formations, using their shapes as impetus. The first movement is entitled Cumulonimbus  and therefore has numerous different elements popping out all over the place and covers a broad range for the instruments.  The second movement is entitled Stratus, a low lying cloud formation with less shape than other forms.  By using different cloud formations as the genesis of the idea, each movement will have it's own character, expressing not only the shape of the clouds, but their movement through the sky, through time. In the researching what to do and how to

Stephen Costello Returns to Vienna State Opera for Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore

Following a highly successful run of performances in the Metropolitan Opera’s season-opening production of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena , Stephen Costello returns to the Vienna State Opera for a second consecutive season, singing the role of Nemorino in another (and far more light-hearted) Donizetti opera, L 'elisir d'amore . The four performances take place November 8–18. Costello made his company debut last season with the Vienna State Opera when, in the opening weekend, he substituted for an ailing Rolando Villazón as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème . This fall, Costello will also give concert performances as Leicester in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda with the Munich Opera Orchestra (Dec 2 & 5), before heading to London for his company role debut as Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (Jan 2–20). As he prepares for another production in Vienna, Costello looks forward to returning to a role that he is especially fond of doing: “Nemorino

Evan Shinners to release new CD @bach

Unconcerned with preconceptions of how Bach should be played, or with conventions of what a finished recording should sound like, the wildly talented pianist and 2010 Juilliard graduate Evan Shinners releases @bach (new cull records), a compilation of two live, unedited performances recorded at Juilliard and Rockefeller University. Bursting with raw musicality, spontaneous and calculated virtuosity, and an ebullient energy, Shinners connects with today’s audiences in a way that has seldom been seen for a classical artist. “I use the music of Bach to create a modern experience, a spectacle which resembles a classical music concert, but is, instead, about living in the current year,” says Shinners, “I improvise, change notes, rescore, re-harmonize -- not out of disrespect for the composer, but to bring an air of unexpectedness and spontaneity that I feel the traditional classical music concert has lost.” - Evan Shinners The release of @bach follows several all-Bach recitals by Shinner

The Met: Live in HD Presents Satyagraha

PHILIP GLASS’S INSPIRATIONAL OPERA OF SOCIAL CHANGE IN A VISUALLY SPECTACULAR PRODUCTION SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 19 at 12:55 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT Philip Glass’s 20th-century masterpiece is an inspirational retelling of Gandhi’s formative philosophical experiences as a young man in South Africa . The minimalist score, sung in Sanskrit, features lyrics drawn from the Bhagavad Gita. Phelim McDermott’s visually extravagant production uses large-scale puppetry, acrobatics, and supertitles to create a moving, life-affirming theatrical experience. Richard Croft portrays Gandhi, a role he first sang to critical acclaim in the 2008 Met premiere of the work. The cast also includes Rachelle Durkin as Miss Schlesen, Kim Josephson as Mr. Kallenbach, and Alfred Walker as Parsi Rustomji. Contemporary music specialist Dante Anzolini conducts; rising bass-baritone star Eric Owens hosts the transmission.

Are All Good Composers Moody or Simply (insert derogatory word here)

There is a fine line    between artistic license and being a jerk       between genius and irritating I should apologize to my kids; for the 18 years they lived with me while growing up, I attributed my moods to their behavior. If that was the case, then, now that they're out of the house (and have been for over 10 years) the moodiness should have stopped. *sigh*, no such luck. BTW - this is not an apology.  I'm not in the mood! I should apologize to my wife who has put up with it all these years. Occasionally she'll tell me living with me is a constant sense of wondering what's next to which I bristle and complain,"I'm not that bad." This isn't an apology either, but I will proffer one once this is posted. Well, it came clear to me today that yes, sometimes I am that bad! Life comes with a certain amount of stress. Some people have more than others and it isn't limited to one income bracket or another. My life, in compari

Iestyn Davies Is First British Countertenor to Sing at Met

On November 14, Iestyn Davies – named 2010’s Royal Philharmonic Young Artist of the Year – makes his house and role debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, singing Unulfo in Handel’s Rodelinda. This is an important milestone, not only for the singer but also for the company: the occasion marks the first time in the Met’s 131-year history that a British countertenor will have graced its stage. What makes this all the more remarkable is that Britain is the home of the countertenor. As the New York Times explains, 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.” In more recent decades, a massive 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 cou

This week's TOP TICKET in Denver - Drums Of The World: Nov 27th

Purchase a Family 4-Pack (2 adults, 2 kids) for only $52.80 during Denver Arts Week - November 4-12. Travel with the virtuoso percussionists of the Colorado Symphony on a musical journey of discovery to learn all about fantastical drums of the world.

Confessions of a Confounded Composer

I love music - all sorts of music.  This is my biggest problem. You might think that loving music is necessary as a composer and I suppose all composers love music to some degree. Most composers have favorites, styles of music they gravitate toward.  I do too, to some extent.  However, there is so much available sound to choose from in the world today - compliments of the radio stations, Musak, iPod, mp3 players, downloads, Napster, Naxos... we are, as a society, inundated with new music. Commercial music has their top 10 or top 40 or top 100 of practically every genre.  Satellite radio has hundreds of stations, and internet radio allows you to pick and choose your style down to the composer and/or band.  Yet, if we limit our choices we ultimately find, as we sit on the bus, someone is playing something we've never heard before on their phone. Advertisements bombard us with new jingles and film and TV composers are frantically writing new scores for the thousands of hours of en