Thursday, November 29, 2007


There's alot afoot in new music, especially for a dear friend of mine.
Coming up in January, the Philadelphia Orchestra is playing several new works by Jennifer Higdon:
January 10th is the World Premiere of Concerto 4-3, written for Time for Three
January 16th musicians will join for her Bentley Roses (from 2002) with Randall Scarlatta and Susan Narucki (also David Rakowski is on the program, Sex Songs)
January 17th is the World Premiere of The Singing Rooms, written for violinist Jennifer Koh - and maybe the first Violin Concerto with orchestra and chorus!
January 23rd you can hear BOTH Concerto 4-3 and The Singing Rooms and also on January 25th in the afternoon!
Jennifer's Percussion Concerto is being performed by the Harrisburg Symphony on March 8th & 9th. She'll be in attendance and is going to speak with me at WITF for a Composing Thoughts Live! on Saturday afternoon, March 8th, 2008. I just got word today that it will be supported by Meet The Composer, thanks!!!!

Jennifer is the very first composer ever featured on Composing Thoughts, and also had a followup episode earlier this year.
You can hear that episode online here.
Looking forward!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Playing with Webshop


I spent some more time with DG Webshop last night, from downloading albums to searching the site. It's easy, logical and great quality. Downloads were speedy, whether it was a single track, album covers (I captured an Anne-Sophie Mutter cover electronically that I already have on cd), or the java-based useful and easy download manager for whole albums.
Especially nice is a comprehensive tour schedule, and extensive artist information and links. All in all, DG Webshop is well thought out. It is exciting to have such a classical music resource. Get thee to - I'll quote a friend who sent me a news item about it yesterday who knew I would be interested, "I always knew DG was a cool company."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just in time for the holidaze

Great news for music fans!

Deutsche Grammophon will launch its DG Web Shop tomorrow, November 28th, enabling consumers in 40 countries to download music at the highest technical and artistic standards. This global penetration includes markets where the major e-business retailers, such as iTunes, are not yet available: Southeast Asia including China, India, Latin America, South Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe including Russia.

Michael Lang, President of Deutsche Grammophon, stated: “Our company was founded over 110 years ago, and since then, it has stood for innovation and quality. During the development of our new web shop, we remained true to these principles as we continue to expand the digital music marketplace with our range of download services.”
Almost 2,500 DG albums will be available for download in maximum MP3 quality at a transfer bit-rate of 320 kilobits per second (kbps) – an audio-level that experts agree is indistinguishable from CD quality audio; and which exceeds the usual industry download-standard of 128-192 kbps (as well as EMI’s 256 kbps on iTunes).

I'm stunned at some of the available tracks out of print, including one of my favorite Orpheus Chamber Orchestra recordings of Mozart.

The press stuff is way fun too:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Music and Video

Here's a wonderful link for Lisa Ekdahl:

It's got to be yes or no
It's either you stay or go
You can't leave me on the shelf
You gotta commit yourself
It's either you will, or you won't fall
In love with me

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Coming this week, a posting of Ernesto Tamayo in the studio @ WITF. Catch him next weekend in Baltimore @ An Die Musik.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Put the reed knife down

Okay, scary news about Blair Tindall! Read about it here.
Hang in there Bill!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Breakin up is hard to do

My friend Derek has put up an interesting post about music and break ups.
I'll contribute my rather classical selections:

Gorecki's Third Symphony - this "Sorrowful Symphony" is linked with several special moments - which when hearing always brings back memories

Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony - the horn solo in the second movement is another powerful memory inducer

Lisa Ekdahl Now or Never - a jazz song that kills me everytime

Saint-Saens Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix - conducting it didn't make it any easier

Dvorak Cello Concerto - 3rd horn call in the first movement breaks my heart like the first time an orchestral player did the same

Schubert Cello Quintet - reading this chamber work didn't help the sorrow from seeing my lover playing it in the group

Conus Violin Concerto - ah, summer love lasts only so long

Bartok Violin Duos - more summer fun in Carolina

Bach-Busoni Chaconne - I can't hear it without having one performance in mind that melted me to the quick

Vivaldi Bassoon Concerto in A minor - I always remember the loss of a friend, from breast cancer, who coached this piece

Verdi Requiem - while also not a break up, I always think about losing my grandfather as his death coincided with a performance

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Black (Angels) Friday

Celebrate the day after Thanksgiving with some great music by George Crumb!

Make it a new music "Black Angels" Friday - buy the Miro Quartet version here, or the Kronos recording here.

Also, check out the interview I did with George at his house in Media, PA here on the Composing Thoughts website.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chatting about a concert

Be hip, turn off that ringer when you're in a concert or playing music, but here are tips for your next rehearsal or concert - chat abbreviations for musicians!
404 = Not found
440 = time to tune
1drfl = wonderful, or Durufle’s Requiem first movement
A/s/l = American Symphony orchestra League
AFK = Away from Klavier
ATM = At the Measure
ASM = Anne-Sophie Mutter
BBL = Be back later, or Barenboim laut!
BFN = Bye for now, or Bassoon Faggott Nut
CRB = come right back, or Concert really boring!
CYA = See ya! Or Conductor Yelling Anyways
DGAF = Don’t give a frick, or Violinist doesn’t know how to tune their instrument, could be a violist!
DND = Do Not Disturb, Dungeons and Dragons, or Key of D and d.
FWIW = For what its worth, or Fricking watch its fast!
INAV= I am not a violist

STFM - Stay tuned for more!

Five Things about Adele Anthony

I heard the violinist Adele Anthony Saturday night at Gretna Music in Elizabethtown, PA.
1. It was a larger crowd than I thought, and a very appreciative group - very few distractions in the room - which was odd but somehow worked. Normally concerts are in the main hall, but for the solo violin, it was in a side room.
2. Adele came out and played the E major Partita with brilliance, if not with complete confidence. Musically it was rapturous and captivating, while technically not as stunning.
3. The A minor Sonata followed with more confidence, and with the same musical depth. Her sound is glorious and is perfect for a soloist.
4. After intermission, the D minor Partita was spot on. Anthony shone in every movement, and moment - from a thoughtful conversational Allemande, a speedy and energetic Courante, a sentimental and delightful Sarabande, and flashy and flighty Gigue. The Chacconne was engaging and mesmerizing, with each variation handled with care and conviction. I'm more of a dramaticist in the middle section, wanting somehow for the sun to burst forth and the Heavens to open for the major section, which seemed to just carry on in her phrasing, but was still touching.
5. The evening started with a preconcert talk about the works, including trivia questions with prizes! There were also sound examples and demonstrations on the violin by yours truly.

Adele Anthony performs the other three sonatas and partitas in February - I would buy my ticket now! And for the preconcert talk I've heard rumors of the entire score being displayed around the room, Bach madlibs and more prizes!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Outstanding link

Interesting stats with sure to click on the week, day, and now links:

Good Public Radio News

The Open Source conversation is reborn at the Watson Institute at Brown University.
Please check in on what we've been up to at .
Thomas Watson of IBM fame, who'd been Jimmy Carter's ambassador to Moscow, founded the Institute in 1981 to address the most urgent global risks of that day: nuclear hazards of the Cold War. Today the mission of the Watson Institute encompasses poverty, hunger, war and culture. My fellowship here commits me to keep exploring and innovating in the interactive new media - at the intersection of pod- and broad- casting where the new discourse of a global age is taking shape.
Brown and Watson overflow with blessings for Open Source, starting with the brilliant Rafael Vinoly building that both nestles and goads us to think anew. Nikita Khrushchev's son Sergei is upstairs writing, as is the exiled Zimbabwean novelist Chenjeria Hove, and former presidents Ricardo Lagos Escobar of Chile and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil. Geoffrey Kirkman of the Watson Institute was right when he told me years ago: the same swath of visiting stars that pass through New York and Harvard come also to Brown, but here they stay longer and they talk more. Brown students keep knocking on my door - this new rainbow generation of "millennials," most of them with digital media skills and native confidence in the expanding universe of the Web.
Not least, my Watson fellowship and the combination of avid Brown students and first-class recording facilities have let us cut radically into the "nut" cost of producing Open Source. So, not for the first time in human history, adversity has forced us into a precious opportunity to get lean, cheap and experimental again.
"An American conversation with global attitude" could be the motto of the revived Open Source. As always, we need your partnership here to locate the topics, guests and angles that will keep it richly distinctive. All we want to be, as we keep growing up, is - as many of you suggested, and producer Mary McGrath distilled the message - "the best damn podcast" on your computer or your Nano. But how long should the conversation run? And how often? What new features do you want on the site? How do we keep it making it more interactive with "the people formerly known as the audience" and with the world beyond our shores?
What we learned in two years on the last round is that "open source" works as well for public conversation as well as it works for advancing software. We announced a "conspiracy of the curious," and people joined it - with an unending flow of show suggestions and witty, critical, often impassioned extensions of the on-air conversation.
We learned also that podcasting works. The proto-blogger Dave Winer and I claim together to have done the first podcast in human history just a little more than four years ago. Between us, at Harvard's Berkman Center, we were the Neil Armstrong of the podcast moon, and now everyone's going there. For good reason. Podcasting is the cheap, democratic, speedy, listener-friendly universal means of sharing and archiving original sound files of every kind. Can we keep it new, or newish?
To begin, we've fired up the podcast feed of our summer gab which went from the Oscar Wao novelist Junot Diaz to the late John Coltrane, from the cyber prophet William Gibson to the unheeded prophets of our quagmire in Iraq. And there is tasty talk ahead with another of the "global" novelists, Ha Jin, on his first fiction set in America - with "The War" documentarian Ken Burns, and with the canonical critic Harold Bloom at Yale, among many others.
Let us end by saying again: Thank you. We couldn't and wouldn't be embarking in these Open Source conversations without the community of you -- that is, without the yeasty, resilient, generous, hungry, faithful, world-wide community that built and sustained Open Source from the beginning.
As always, coming and going, Emerson speaks to a great deal of what we're feeling. This comes from the end of his marvelous essay "Circles."
"Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit. No love can be bound by oath or covenant to secure it against a higher love. No truth so sublime but it may be trivial to-morrow in the light of new thoughts. People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them."
Thank you for passionate, engaged, listenership and commentary these last two years. Now let us all together keep this "community of the curious" alive and growing.
So send us your news, your dreams and expectations, please, for the next ride on Open Source and reload your podcast here: . Are you aware that you can subscribe (free) to the Open Source Podcast at the iTunes store? Go to iTunes, then the store, enter "open source podcast" in the search box, and then click on the Open Source icon and "subscribe" to get every episode.
In the spirit of Emerson: Onward, ever onward!
Christopher Lydon and Mary McGrath

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Falletta First - ten years ago

In December 1997, the Wichita Symphony welcomed its first woman as guest conductor. Joann Falletta, Music Director of the Long Beach (CA) and Virginia Symphonies, took the podium. During her stay in Wichita, she took time from her schedule for an interview with KMUW-FM's John Clare. You'll have to imagine the music that was played, and the music in their voices as they discussed their mutual love of classical music. The live interview was originally broadcast on 12/3/97 during The Music Room on KMUW-FM 89.

JC: I'm John Clare. I'm joined today by Maestro - is it Maestro or is it Maestra Joann Falletta? We'll start off with a hard question. (laughter)
JF: Either one is ok, and I've been called both, and it doesn't matter. I've never exactly figured out myself which is really correct. (laughter)
JC: Maestro, Maestra, Concertmaster, Concertmistress. It's a hard question. Doesn't really matter except that you're here to lead the Wichita Symphony Orchestra this weekend. We picked the Hailstork to play because you've had some workings with him.
JF: Yes, I know Dolph very well because he lives with us in Virginia, and the Virginia Symphony has played a lot of his music, a lot of premieres of his music, and we're very proud of him. I was just delighted to hear that you knew of his music as well!
JC: Yeah, it's a work on the Albany-Troy label. They certainly put out a lot of contemporary music, especially American music. I wanted to ask you about Carnegie Hall. The Virginia Symphony, of which you're Music Director (as well as the Long Beach Symphony in California we'll talk about each a little later,) made their Carnegie Hall debut earlier this year. I have a quote here that says, " The New York Times says about Joann Falletta "She brought a lovely sweep to the Elgar and enlisted not only a rich, warm string sound but also superbly detailed wind and brass playing.'" Pretty high mark for the New York Times.
JF: We felt very lucky. (laughter)
JC: Why is Carnegie Hall such a mecca for classical music?
JF: Well, I think it's the history of the hall and you're right, it is a mecca because for us in Virginia, the idea that we'd go to Carnegie for the first time after being an orchestra for 75 years, was the very biggest arts news that we could have, going to Carnegie Hall. And I think the sense we had when we were on the stage was that we were joining the spirits of the great musicians who had been there before. And that was an incredible sense! To be on the same stage as Tchaikovsky, and Mahler, and Toscanini � it was fabulous. And for us it was a night I guess that we will never duplicate again. It was a wonderful night and very successful, especially in terms helping our community in Virginia realize where their orchestra had come and that's really why we went, not so much for the New York audiences but to let our hometown know about us.
JC: How about balancing two coasts and conducting two orchestras? California and Virginia obviously aren't close.
JF: They are so different. The communities are so different. Southern California and southern Virginia- they're polar opposites I guess! But I find it very stimulating, you know I've gotten used to the travel back and forth and it's not so bad. The stimulation of being in different communities has been wonderful, very challenging and I've learned a great deal. So I really love the mix of those two places.
JC: And guest conducting, is that something that fits into your schedule?
JF: I spend probably a quarter of my year guest conducting and I like it. It's something very refreshing in a way. Because when you're a music director you have in addition to the musical responsibilities, lots of other responsibilities to worry about: whether we're meeting payroll, and if the tickets are selling and all kinds of extraneous problems that come along with music directorship. When you guest conduct, you have a wonderful artistic week, you know you go in and for that week you're able to just concentrate on the music and not so much of the other problems that we deal with. Plus I find that every orchestra I work with, I learn a great deal and that's true with the Wichita Symphony. My being on the podium in front of an orchestra like that, helps me learn a lot. I don't know if the musicians are always aware of that, but listening to them play the Eroica Symphony is a wonderful experience and a very enriching one.
JC: I have friends who are music teachers and they'll substitute, and have kids who are on questionable behavior; does it ever happen that a guest conductor shows up and the musicians are on their best behavior, or they're trying to get away with something, or that there is a second violinist in the back, slacking off?
JF: You know, I always find that they're actually on their best behavior and I think its because you're someone new to them and they're new to you, and we all want to make a good impression. Frankly, I want to make a good impression with them and vice versa. So, it's usually a delightful experience and I certainly found that with the Wichita Symphony, they're superb and willing to work very, very hard.
JC: I found another quote. I'm a "web-head" and found this on one of the orchestra webpages. It says "One of my goals has been to have the orchestra achieve it's own unique personality. The Virginia Symphony has become the leading musical force in the region, acclaimed for drama, virtuosity, color and finesse. Our musicians play a wide variety of repertoire with flair, excitement and depth." Those are certainly striking words and how does one achieve a unique personality? I know with recordings you can say, "Oh, that's Cleveland and George Szell or that's Montreal and Charles Dutoit." How does one achieve that on the podium?
JF: Well, you need to spend a lot of time with the orchestra, and I think we don't always see that with music directors. But if you can spend time, you can help them really blossom into an orchestra with a unique personality and I think in Virginia they have. We have very talented musicians working together and encouraging risk taking, which for me is very important. Encouraging them always to go for it, you know, not to take the easy way but to try. But I think they've developed a very dramatic sense, they've expanded their dynamic parameters, where they can play great dynamic contrasts - they've become very flexible in tempo changes and rubato. All of this takes time. It takes trust on both of our parts, I have to trust them, they have to trust me, so that the wonderful thing about being music director, is that you really feel you can build something and that that you can create something and help something become better and better for your community and thats a tremendous satisfaction.
JC: You brought in a stack of recordings, and I had known of some. You had worked with the Women's Philharmonic, and not only were they critically acclaimed, but widely talked about. Where does one learn about women composers?
JF: You know, when I first started to work with the Women's Philharmonic I'm embarassed to say, I knew almost nothing about women composers because my training was traditional. You know, I studied at Juilliard and learned a great wealth of music, but none of women. Much of it is contemporary but also women of the past. I think the Women's Philharmonic has really tried to spread the word about that; tried to get the word out to other orchestras in the country because our hope is that they will learn about this repertory and play it. And the recordings have certainly helped that.
JC: I want to talk about a little about a scary topic, new music. Folks may not know, I consider Piazzola sort of a Vivaldi, there's a wealth of works: tangos, chamber works, and just all types. Can you talk about the piece you'll perform of his? [Tangazo]
JF: I'm so glad you asked about him, because I would hate for people to think that this was going to be one of the wild contemporary pieces that they don't want to hear, it's extraordinary tango music. Piazzola, who died in 1992, was in his time, the creator of the Neauvo Tango or the New Tango. He took the form of tango, which is the sort of quintessential Argentine music, and breathed new life into it, brought it into the 20th century with more complicated rhythms and some dissonances. It's still very much a tango and for him the tango was the poor people of Argentina. It was sad and tragic, music people who were disenfranchised, immigrants who had left South America, left their families and homes, and that sort of, kind of tenderness and sadness is what makes the tango so exquisite.
JC: It's sort of an elegant passion. I like to consider that it has that South American touch, it takes you back to the 1920's Paris.
JF: Yes, exactly! It's gorgeous. And of course, most of his music is not for symphony orchestra, rather including pieces for small ensembles, including the Bandeon, which was his instrument, a sort of accordion, which was so much the sound of the tango. But Tangazo, the piece we're playing, is the only one of his pieces for orchestra alone. So it's a little gem that we can now work into the orchestra repertoire, and most people wouldn't have heard it. I think they'll come away just delighted with, as you say, the "elegant passion" of his music.
JC: During the break we talked about Morton Gould and I wanted to talk about commissioning new works. Now you've commissioned Hailstork for the Piano Concerto?
JF: Yes, we took that to Carnegie Hall. But we've done a lot of commissioning, especially in Long Beach, where one of our missions there is to promote American music. So we've done a lot of new music and our audience has really come along with us, and I think they've become very sophisticated. Of course we do a lot of traditional music as well. But I like the mix of combining something new with something like Beethoven, because I think it gives a sense that the symphony is constantly evolving, it's not a musuem of the 18th and 19th century. It's an ongoing beautiful instrument that composers are writing great music for today.
JC: How does one get out of the overture, concerto, symphony mold?
JF: Well, it's hard, you know, but the mold isn't so bad, works! There is something very good about tradition. But we must try to vary what we do, so that it's not always the same thing. And we've found our audiences have enjoyed that and they've come to listen to Piazzola, even if they haven't heard him before.
JC: I read that you're a guitarist and that you went to school at Juilliard. And recently you've made some transcriptions for guitar of some Schubert songs?
JF: It was just released, last week in fact - a guitar transcription of Schubert Winterreise. Schubert was a guitarist, I don't know how many people knew that, a pianist and guitarist. He did a lot of his composing, for the much suited instrument, since that was his inspiration. And so I brought them back, I think, to the guitar that might have been in his mind when he was composing Winterreise. It's a very intimate cycle as well. I think it works very well, Schubert songs are a very special kind of music and the closeness, the gentleness and intimacy of the guitar really gives them a different quality.
JC: Do you still perform guitar?
JF: I still do. Especially chamber music, and for me its a nice foil to conducting, which involves a lot more people and different repertoire.
JC: What about playing and conducting? Have you played the famous Rodrigo while on the podium?
JF: I haven't tried the Rodrigo that way, I've done Vivaldi that way. It seems a lot easier, you know, you can sort of conduct by nodding and body motion...(laughter)...but it's fun. We've got so many years of great music.
JC: While there are many women composers, women conductors are just starting to appear more frequently. What advice would you give to somebody, male or female, who would want to pursue conducting?
JF: Well, it's the kind of profession that requires a lot of study. I'd advise them to work on every other aspect: piano, analysis, score reading, ear training, music history; all of those are very critical. And conducting is the kind of profession that developes very slowly because you learn as a conductor when you practice your instrument - and that instrument is a very expensive instrument you don't always have. I think conductors learn as they go on. I myself am looking at Beethoven Three now, I feel very differently about it and hopefully see a lot more in it than I saw in it at school in Juilliard. So you learn more about a piece and in a way, you get closer to the core of what the piece means. But some people say a conductor isn't a full fledged conductor until he or she is fifty, because it takes that much life experience and musical experience to really come to understand what these pieces are about.
JC: I'd like to thank you very much for coming in today and spending a little time with us.
JF: Thank you. It was a pleasure, thank you!

This interview was broadcast at 2 p.m. Friday, March 13th, 1998 as part of Wichita In Performance, along with the selections Falletta conducted with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, on KMUW-Wichita, FM-89.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

You whippersnappers!

From ArtsJournal:
Why Pick On Older Musicians? "There is a perennial sense of battle in British music culture, the new pitched against the old, as if anyone who makes music a lifelong pursuit somehow occupies space better ceded to the young and thrusting. The underlying implication is the only musical values deemed important are freshness, innovation and adventure." The Telegraph

Here's a classic of age and the arts, Tim Conway!

Thank a music teacher

And support the arts! Commission a composer!

Music lessons pay off in higher earnings: poll

Those hours practicing piano scales or singing with a choral group weren't for nothing because people with a background in music tend to have a higher education and earn more, according to a new survey.
The poll by Harris Interactive, an independent research company, showed that 88 percent of people with a post-graduate education were involved in music while in school, and 83 percent of people earning $150,000 or more had a music education.
"Part of it is the discipline itself in learning music, it's a rigorous discipline, and in an ensemble situation, there's a great deal of working with others. Those types of skills stand you well in careers later in life," said John Mahlmann, of the National Association for Music Education in Reston, Virginia, which assisted in the survey.
In addition to the practical skills gained from studying music, people questioned in the online poll said it also gave them a sense of personal fulfillment.
Students who found music to be extremely or very influential to their fulfillment were those who had vocal lessons and who played in a garage band. Nearly 80 percent of the 2,565 people who took part in the survey last month who were still involved in music felt the same way.
"That's the beauty of music, that they can bring both hard work and enjoyment together, which doesn't always happen elsewhere," Mahlmann added in and interview.

Enter to win

Long Time Syndicated Radio Wine Show Loses Its Name

After over six years of broadcasting Les’ Wines & Vines into all 50 states and around the world on six different internets I received a letter from a San Rafael, California company that sells to the wine industry ordering me to discontinue using my show’s name Les’ Wines & Vines.

Wines & Vines is their registered trademark and with that they have certain propriety rights. This includes the right to restrict the use of the trademark, or a confusingly similar trademark, in association with confusingly similar products or services. State and federal law supports their position that confusingly similar trademark, or references to, may cause confusion among customers. They demand that I cease and desist in any further use of Wines & Vines in association with the marketing, sale, distribution, or identification of publication, websites, radio shows, events, products, or services. They are the “Authoritative Voice of the Grape and Wine Industry Since 1919.”
That means, simply, that we will change the name of this most popular world-wide wine radio show.

Hence, this contest is allowing you, the listeners and supporters, an opportunity to name the show. Check out the information and create a name you think I should be using. Prize information to the lucky winner will be announced on the air this Thursday. It will also be online in the next few days. Check it out...Go to and follow instructions.

Les Kincaid always presents his listeners with stimulating, pro-vocative information and great interviews or discussions with interesting, intelligent, knowledgeable guests all within the wine industry. Whether they are vintners, winery owners, Sommeliers, Master Sommeliers or Master Wine educators and they can all talk about wine with authority but NO snobbery is aloud during the show. Every broadcast offers interesting invited guests that taste and discuss the three featured wines along with pairing food during the show. There is no non-sense or snobbish attitude when you listen to Les Kincaid and discuss wines from anywhere around the world. Always offering information you want to and should know. The list of provocative topics goes on and on.

Dancing with the cigars

Okay, I haven't watched the ABC show since I had first seen Rachel Hunter on it. I'm a sucker for supermodels...but my schedule was busy, and it became a megahit and my interest waned. I will admit all the talk/hype this season with Marie Osmond, another boyhood crush, tempted me. But in seeing entertainment headlines this morning, I was delighted and surprised the gorgeous Jenny Garth is on the show. I just may have to tune in and even vote.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not just wavin his arms

Perlman to be artistic director of Westchester Philharmonic!
Violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, one of the world's best known classical musicians, has been appointed artistic director of the Westchester Philharmonic.
Perlman, 62, will conduct most of the orchestra's programs for the three years beginning next September and will perform occasionally, the orchestra said Monday.
Attracting an artist of Perlman's prominence is a coup for the 25-year-old Westchester, which holds its principal concerts at the Performing Arts Center on the campus of Purchase College. Its outgoing music director, Paul Lustig Dunkel, is a longtime friend of Perlman.
Neil Aaron, president of the Board of Directors, said Perlman 'is a great gift to our audience and the entire Westchester community.'
Perlman, who lives less than 30 miles from Purchase in New York City, praised Dunkel, the orchestra members and the acoustics at Purchase and said the programs he is planning will 'surprise, stimulate and ultimately satisfy Westchester's demanding and sophisticated audiences.'
Perlman, born in Israel, has appeared with every major orchestra in the world and has conducted many of them. He has won four Emmy awards for his television appearances, which include 'Sesame Street,' late-night talk shows and a recent documentary about his work with the educational Perlman Music Program. His recordings have won 15 Grammy awards and he was the violin soloist on the Oscar-winning movie 'Schindler's List.'

Breakfast cigar

Sunday morning in Medford

Feathered friends enjoy coffee and a cigar with me.

Enjoying a Hemingway in Boston

Saturday evening...

The Best

I was lucky to hear the Boston Symphony Saturday night, in a concert I was excited about - Berg's Violin Concerto (although I could never remember who the soloist was supposed to be) and Mahler's Ninth Symphony with James Levine conducting.
It turns out I'll never forget the violinist, Christian Tetzlaff, ever again. It was stunning music making - sublime, passionate and beautiful. The orchestra rose to the challenge and was coaxed, inspired and put through the paces by Levine, who showed the energy of a man half his age, and an interpretation of a maestro twice his age.
Tetzlaff danced, shook, and encouraged the notes of Berg's concerto with skill, panache and sometimes ugliness - not in a bad musician way, but an harshness that certain moments needed. It was stellar. And his solo Bach encore was to die for.
After intermission, Mahler's final complete symphony was in the hands of an orchestra who played as if their life depended on it. Pianissimos were soft yet clear, fortissimos were heavy but passionate and again, Levine was almost cartoonlike, again in the best sense, for this powerful and touching work. Levine took charming liberties with the tempos, allowing long phrases to make their full impact.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

On the road

I had a very nice drive up to Boston, and even had some snow in the Poconos!
It was fun to see. Now off for some seafood and chowda!

Wait til the guy analyzes Seurat!

Music in DaVinci's Last Supper? Check out the story here.
I would have guessed there was a strolling shofar player...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Gift Selections

ClassicallyHip Holiday Gift Selections 2007
By John Nasukaluk Clare

Ten great selections for you and your loved ones for the holiday season! Tell 'em ClassicallyHip sent you!

10. Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker Suite, Op 71a
Live From The Lugano Festival - Martha Argerich And Friends
EMI Classics #76871
(Also killer chamber music by Shostakovich, Schumann, Prokofiev and Schubert!)

9. Higdon: Impressions
Cypress String Quartet
Naxos #8559298
(Also a Piano Trio & another great quartet!)

8. Harbison: The most often used chords
David Alan Miller, Albany Symphony Orchestra
Albany #390
(Also the 3rd Symphony & Flute Concerto)

7. Stravinsky: Violin Concerto
Jennifer Frautschi, Robert Craft, Philharmonia Orchestra
Naxos #8557508
(Also The Rite of Spring & Symphonies of Wind Instruments)

6. A Christmas Treasure
Julie Andrews/Andre Previn
RCA #67971

5. Stucky: Etudes (Recorder Concerto)
Michala Petri, Lan Shui, Danish National Radio Symphony
DaCapo #6220531
(also concerti by Joan Albert Amargós & Daniel Börtz)

4. Rachmaninov: Variations on a theme by Corelli
Hélène Grimaud
Teldec #84376
(Also the 2nd Piano Concerto & Etudes-Tableux)

3. Joyce DiDonato: Pasion!
Julius Drake, piano
Eloquentia #608

2. Elliott Carter: String Quartets 1-4
Arditti String Quartet
Etcetera Records #2507
(also Elegy)

1. JS Bach: Partita #2
Janine Jansen, violin
Decca #000990502
(also 2 & 3 Part Inventions)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A look at Bach

Take a look at Bach's solo violin Sonata and Partitas as a pdf file.


While looking into Bach's violin music for my upcoming concert talk:

“Practicing Bach for me is like meditation, a daily prayer that connects me with higher spheres.” - Sigiswald Kuijken


This article reminded me that the Clarely Classical Awards aren't far off, and the Woman of the Year award is wide open.

Five Things About the Dubrovnik Symphony

I heard the Harrisburg performance of the Dubrovnik Symphony's US tour Wednesday night at the Whitaker Center.

1. The program opened with Pero Šiša's Konvale Svita (Konavoska Suite), written for the DSO. Its a charming overture, a single movement of impressions from the area in Croatia where Pero grew up. It is masterfully orchestrated.

2. Boris Papandopulo's Xylophone Concerto was next, featuring Jan Lotko and the strings of the DSO. It is exciting and brilliant! Again, tailor made for this soloist and orchestra, the work was well balanced and filled with skill and wit, from both the composer and the soloist. The waltz movement allowed concertmaster Elvira Galioulline to shine as well.

3. The second half was Mozart's final Symphony, Number 41 "Jupiter." Tempos were crisp and clean - outstanding ensemble and pitch throughout this classical era masterpiece. Especially touching was the second movement, with a very poetic and stirring interpretation from Maestro Zlatan Srzic.

4. The group brought one more work for an encore, Mozart's Overture to the Marriage of Figaro. Again, it was a perfect upbeat, crisp interpretation, and I heard new colors I hadn't before in this score - kudos to the winds!

5. It was a real treat to hear this group, and I'll be adding Dubrovnik to my destinations in Europe to visit after hearing and meeting these charming musicians. The only black mark on this concert was the horrendous lighting the Whitaker Center provided. I was embarassed as a Harrisburg resident that a more professional presentation of this splendid group couldn't have allowed them to clearly see the soloist, musicians on the fringe and front of the stage!

Best wishes and safe travel for the group as they go to New York Thursday and back home to Croatia. Let's hope its not another 30 years before they come back!

You can hear an interview with the concertmaster, maestro and composer here. Also enjoy them from the Millenium Stage at the Kennedy Center on tour, here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tables turned

Usually I'm the one interviewing, but I recently answered a bunch of questions for WITF's Spotlight, read about me here.

Anna Anna fo fanna


Anna Netrebko has been named “Musician of the Year 2008” by the editors of the Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts. Only a few short years after her Metropolitan Opera debut in Prokofiev’s War and Peace, the Russian soprano – now an international critical and audience favorite – graces the cover of the 2008 Musical America, the bible of the classical music business.
Ms. Netrebko, who is currently performing Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater at the Musikverein in Vienna, commented: “I am honored and humbled to be chosen as Musical America’s ‘Musician of the Year’ for 2008. It is such a great privilege to join the list of amazing artists who have received this award.
On a personal level, this award has a very special meaning to me as the United States has long been an artistic home for me. I spent many wonderful seasons with the San Francisco Opera, beginning there when I was only 24 years old. I have sung many of my roles for the first time with American opera companies, including the Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia. Now, of course, the Metropolitan Opera has become an artistic home for me in particular [and I am proud to call myself a New Yorker since I now have an apartment here!].
To be recognized now with such a prestigious award in an artistic environment where standards are of the highest quality allows me a special moment to reflect on the work I have done in America, and reminds me how fortunate I am to be working in this country for many years to come.”
Anna Netrebko will accept the award in a ceremony at the Kaplan Penthouse in Lincoln Center's Rose Building on December 13, 2007.
Anna Netrebko, born in the southern city of Krasnodar, not far from the Black Sea, studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory and soon came to the attention of Valery Gergiev, Artistic Director of St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater and Kirov Opera. Maestro Gergiev became her mentor and introduced her to audiences in Russia, Europe and the United States. She made her international breakthrough appearances at the Salzburg Festival, and has sung in most of the world’s best-known opera houses. Netrebko’s being named “Musician of the Year” follows on the heels of several noteworthy successes in the US and abroad. Her latest recording, Duets, with tenor Rolando Villazón, claimed the top spot on the Billboard classical chart shortly after its release in the US; and in Europe Duets set a record for the best debut ever for a classical album, climbing to the top of the pop charts in several countries. Anna Netrebko was also recently named to the TIME 100 list—Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Later this month, Netrebko makes her Deutsche Oper Berlin debut as Violetta Valery in Verdi’s La Traviata – a role that she will reprise at Covent Garden in January. This December she returns to New York for more performances of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette at the Metropolitan Opera, including a live high-definition broadcast in movie theaters around the world on December 15. During the remainder of her season Netrebko sings Massenet’s Manon in Vienna; she makes her debut in May at the Opéra national de Paris in Vincenzo Bellini’s version of Romeo and Juliet, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, with Joyce DiDonato as Romeo; and she returns to the Salzburg Festival in summer 2008 to sing Gounod’s Juliette.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Catch them

Check out my interview and report on these fab musicians coming to Harrisburg Wednesday night!


This may indeed be the way to go camping. Recommended by a potter of course!

Prepare for excitement

Well, Bernard Holland has got my goat again. (No, I'm not talking about my parent's farm either!) In his latest article in the NY Times, Holland bellyaches about new music, specifically world premieres.

I wonder what prompted this topic with Holland...was an assignment not taken well at work? Colleagues ribbing him about new pieces?

One of the most offending sentences comes midway, calling Haydn and Mozart "purveyors of the most profound and original music ever written." Evidently Holland has never heard Steven Stucky's music, more or less composers like Ellen Zwilich, John Harbison, or Augusta Read Thomas. These modern masters are incredibly original AND profound. Again, why are you calling them (composers over 200 years ago) out Mr Holland? Is it a comfort zone?

As someone who hears alot of those premieres, I have this advice, for any audience member (or idiotic critic):

1. Come with an open mind. If you say I won't like this new piece, you probably won't.
2. Be honest with yourself and your ears - you may or may not like the piece. Take the performance in the moment - the musicians may be as excited or as fearful as you are - the beauty of hearing a piece for the first time is special, especially live.
3. If you liked it, tell the composer; if you didn't like it, also let the composer know that. In each case give them something specific. 9 times out of 10 the composer is at the premiere.
4. Prepare for a premiere the same way you would for attending any other concert - if you normally go get 3 recordings of Hilary Hahn out to hear before hearing her, go get 3 recordings of Chris Rouse before hearing his new work. If you read every sentence about a work in the program for a Mahler Symphony, make sure you read everything about Jennifer Higdon's new work. But if you go out to dinner, have a drink with friends normally before a concert - do the same before a premiere!

5. Take the new piece of music as a piece on the program, not as a tablet from Mt Sinai. I can point you to thousands of examples in the Lexicon of Musical Invective that Haydn, Mozart and all of the standard repertoire works were panned by someone (like you Mr. Holland!) in the past. There is no good reason to think that a work by John Corigliano has to be compared to the Schubert Symphony on the second half of the work - although that Corigliano will stand just fine thank you. Its like comparing the steak you have at dinner to the cigar and scotch afterwards - its fine to do so but why? Live in the moment, whether its steak tartar or filet mignon, we all have different tastes and you could go for days comparing them, in the end it boils down in opinion and trust.

I know as a "Critic" one judges, makes these comparisons...but this article serves no good service. Ultimately asking help finding a good restaurant, I want to know when I ask someone, if they have been there and liked it. In this article you basically say, I haven't been to a good restaurant in 20 years and you should only go to those old closed down places who used to have good service - forget any pan asian or new restaurant.

In fact Mr. Holland, I think you should limit yourself to read only books from the 1700-1800, and see only plays from 1650-1800, and no more movies (so modern and so many world premieres!) they might be too modern and certainly they don't consult you.

Trust is what you continue to threaten me and your readers Mr. Holland. I trust writing for the Times that you can do a reasonably decent article or review of music, old or new. This latest article is as awful and immoral as your colleagues plagarizing, or revealing confidential sources. Shame on you Bernard.

Friday, November 02, 2007

5 x 5

Five questions from Steve Hicken:
1) What five operas would you most like to see performed?
Moran's Night Passage
Penderecki's Paradise Lost
Messiaen's St Francis of Assisi
Hindemith's Harmonie die Welt
Hindemith's Mathis der Maler

2) What five pieces would you most like to hear performed?
Panufnik's Violin Concerto
Lutoslawski's Symphony #4
Walter Mays' Rhapsody
Dan Welcher's Violin Concerto
Steven Stucky's Son et Lumiere

3) What five living performers would you most like to meet?
Anne-Sophie Mutter
Helene Grimaud
Gabriela Montero
Martha Argerich
Anna Netrebko

4) What five living composers would you most like to meet?
Elliott Carter
Margaret Brouwer
Chen Yi
Carter Pann
Oliver Knussen

5) What five living musicians (composers, performers, writers, scholars, etc) would you most like to play three-on-three basketball with/against?
My team: Chris Rouse and Mark Adamo
Them: George Walker, Dick Strawser and Joan Tower

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Winter Journey

The Old-Man's Head
The frost has spread a white sheen
All over my hair;
I thought I had become an old man
And was very pleased about it.
But soon it melted away,
And now I have black hair again
So that I am horrified by my youth -
How long still to the grave!
From the sunset to the dawn
Many a head turns white.
Who can believe it? And mine
Has not on this whole journey!

Bring a Friend for Bach and Save

J.S. Bach’s complete sonatas and partitas for solo violin are among the most glorious and virtuosic works ever penned for the instrument. On November 17th, Adele Anthony, wife of the great Gil Shaham and a world class fiddler in her own right, pays her first of two visits to Elizabethtown College’s Leffler Chapel, during which she’ll tackle all six of these epic and demanding pieces.
You can share the experience with a friend and save by presenting a pre-purchased ticket at the box office on November 17th and purchasing tickets for up to two friends at 50% off the regular price...
Tell them John sent you!
Bring a Friend tickets are available only at the box office on the day of the event. The Bring a Friend offer is available only to current ticket holders, and a pre-purchased ticket must be presented in-hand to take advantage of the offer. Will-call tickets and full-price tickets purchased at the box office on the day of the event are not eligible for Bring a Friend discounts. The last day to order qualified, pre-purchased tickets for Adele Anthony’s November 17th concert and have them mailed to you is Friday, November 9th. For tickets, call 717-361-1508. Qualifying, pre-purchased tickets can also be purchased in person at the Gretna Music offices in Leffler Performance Center through Friday, November 16th. The Bring a Friend offer cannot be combined with other discounts or offers.