Monday, November 05, 2012


Joy Webster, Chair of Downtown Fort Worth Initiatives, Inc. (DFWII), has announced a public ceremony to begin at 9:00 a.m. CST on Thursday, November 8, 2012, in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, to formally open The JFK Tribute, a permanent open air exhibit built within a 1.5 acre site in Fort Worth, where President John F. Kennedy presented his last speech to the general public on the morning of November 22, 1963.
"The events of that day in 1963 have imbued the Fort Worth visit with extraordinary significance," said Taylor Gandy, JFK Tribute Co-Chair. "President Kennedy’s vision and the impact of his leadership are as relevant today as they were in 1963."
The JFK Tribute is the culmination of over a decade of work by a public-private partnership spearheaded by DFWII and Shirlee J. and Taylor Gandy to create a tribute to Kennedy commemorating his historic visit to Fort Worth and his immutable ideals of freedom, courage, discovery and leadership, which he shared in his speeches delivered here.
The Tribute exhibit was designed around an eight foot, heroic scale Lawrence Ludtke bronze sculpture, John F. Kennedy, cast in bronze in 2009 and installed in 2012. General Worth Square improvements by the City of Fort Worth set the stage for the new Tribute. The design team was led by Jacobs and included Museumscapes, the Lighting Practice, and AUI Contractors, LLC.
"Everyone involved in this project is honored to create a lasting tribute to this part of Fort Worth’s history and to present it in such a public location for all to enjoy," concluded Mrs. Gandy.
Tribute website:
The Thursday, November 8, 2012, event begins 9:00 a.m. in General Worth Square, 916 Main Street. On-street and garage parking are available nearby. Valet parking offered at the Hilton Fort Worth.
Dignitaries will include, among others:
JFK Tribute co-chairs Shirlee J. and Taylor Gandy; honorary co-chairs former Fort Worth Mayor Bob Bolen and former U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright; Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price; Fort Worth City Council representatives
The Texas Boys Choir, who also performed on November 22, 1963, for President and Mrs. Kennedy’s visit, will perform. The event is free and open to the public.
For more information, visit or

Monday, October 08, 2012

New Operas

Fort Worth Opera revealed today the names of the composers whose works have been selected for participation in the first season of the company’s exciting, annual new works program, Frontiers, making its debut May 6 – 11, 2013. The showcase will present eight unpublished works by composers from the Americas during the last week of the 2013 Opera Festival in the McDavid Studio across from Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth.
Frontiers’ selected composers will present their works in 20 minute performances sung by artists in the 2013 Opera Festival and accompanied by piano. Steven Osgood will conduct the performances. The performances will be offered in two separate showcases of four works each on Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 6:00 – 7:00 pm, and Friday, May 10, 2013 at 3:00 – 4:00 pm.
In announcing the selected composers, Fort Worth General Director Darren K. Woods, who chairs the Frontiers panel, stated, "We were incredibly excited at the response to Frontiers. Fort Worth Opera received over 80 submissions to the Frontiers showcase and the caliber of works submitted was very high and the result is eight words of top quality that we are excited to present.
The works encompass a wide range of subjects that deal with today's struggles, from terrorism on our native soil to the problems families have getting along. Each one, whether comic or dramatic, takes a global challenge and tells it through a personal story."
Kurt Howard, Producing Director and Frontier’s Curator, commented on the selection process, saying, "We received a wide range of pieces, running from preliminary sketches from novice composers to fully produced works from lauded talents. The Frontiers panelists selected these works from independent listening to samples - without any knowledge of the composers until after the scores were tabulated. These eight selections quickly rose to the top of the list, but there were many talented voices represented in the submitted works.”
Synopses of each opera (in alphabetical order by composers’ last names), and brief biographies of the composers and librettists follows below.

The Operas
Airline Icarus, by composer Brian Current and librettist Anton Piatigorsky, takes a look at the interpersonal dynamics, fears and longings of three passengers and a flight attendant on an intercontinental flight in the context of the Greek myth of Icarus.
Family rivalry, sibling jealousy, and its effects are the focus of composer Stephen Eddins’ and co-librettist Michael O’Brien’s Why I Live at the P.O., a chamber opera in one act based on the story by Eudora Welty about a young postmistress in small town Mississippi in the 1940’s.
Composer Matt Frey and librettist Daniel J. Kushner have written The Fox and the Pomegranate, an allegorical tale of love, seduction and betrayal.
A Chinese Zodiac goddess’s experience of compassion for the human race causes her to lose her place in the heavens and to share her musical powers with mankind, thereby rescuing it from the ravages of a deadly disease in composer/librettist Wang Jie’s work, From The Other Sky.
Brontë fans will want to hear the operatic interpretation of composer Louis Karchin’s and librettist Diane Osen’s Jane Eyre, based on the famous novel by Charlotte Brontë about a young orphan raised by a cruel aunt who falls in love with a man not knowing he is currently married.
The journey and final descent in to madness and suicide of the wife of Shakespeare’s MacBeth, is the focus of The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth, by composer Veronika Krausas, with librettist Thomas Pettit.
Composer Patrick Soluri, with librettist Deborah Brevoort, have written Embedded, the tale of an aging major American network anchor being pushed out by a younger rival. Tricked by a terrorist (whose last attack was foiled by her reporting) into traveling to see him for an exclusive interview, the opera takes an unexpected twist and ends with a moment of triumph in face of death.
The compelling story of the life and legacy of Negro League baseball player Josh Gibson, and the importance of his life in desegregating baseball is conveyed in The Summer King, by composer Daniel Sonenberg, with co-librettist Daniel Nester.
Frontiers composers will be in residence at the Festival from May 6 – 11, 2013. Post-performance discussions, and also open rehearsals will be part of the showcase.
The Frontiers Panel comprises, in addition to Mr. Woods, Joe Illick (Music Director), Kurt Howard (Producing Director and Frontiers Curator), and Keith A. Wolfe (Managing Director) will be joined by composer Mark Adamo, stage director and opera incubator organization American Lyric Theater founder Lawrence Edelson, stage director Candace Evans, Fort Worth Opera board member John Forestner, music critic, journalist, and author William V. Madison, conductor Steven Osgood, and Leadership FWOpera member Edward Willey.

Composer and Librettist biographies
Brian Current, composer: Airline Icarus
Brian Current studied music at McGill University and UC Berkeley. His music, lauded and performed internationally, as well as broadcast in over 35 countries, has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Barlow Prize for Orchestral Music (USA), the Italian Premio Fedora for Chamber Opera and a Selected Work (under 30) at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. Brian Current’s pieces have been programmed by all major symphony orchestras in Canada and by the Indianapolis Symphony, the New York City Opera, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, the Oakland Symphony, the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the Warsaw National Philharmonic, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the American Composers Orchestra (Carnegie Hall), Monday Evening Concerts (Los Angeles) and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. This season includes performances of his music by the Toronto Symphony, the Montreal Symphony, The Gryphon Trio, The Nouvel Ensemble Moderne and the National Symphony of Taiwan. Brian is the director of the New Music Ensemble of The Royal Conservatory in Toronto, where students are encouraged to commission and champion new works throughout their careers.
Anton Piatigorsky, librettist
Anton Piatigorsky’s plays include Breath In Between, Eternal Hydra, The Kabbalistic Psychoanalysis of Adam R. Tzaddik, Mysterium Tremendum and The Offering. He is the recipient of two Dora Mavor Moore awards for best new play, and the 2005 Elinore and Lou Siminovitch Protégé Award for playwriting. Anton’s other work includes the librettos for Airline Icarus (winner of the Primo Fedora Award) and Inventory, chamber operas by composer Brian Current. His first fiction, The Iron Bridge, a collection of short stories about 20th Century dictators as teenagers, was published by Goose Lane Editions in September 2012. He lives in Toronto.

Stephen Eddins, composer: Why I Live at the P.O.
Stephen Eddins was born in Charlottesville, VA, and started composing when he was nine. He received music degrees from Oberlin, the University of Akron, and a doctorate in composition from the University of Michigan. His teachers include Randolph Coleman, Bright Sheng, William Albright, Erik Santos, Evan Chambers, and Michael Daugherty. He has twice been a Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Much of his work involves collaboration with other artists and the interaction between music and text -- vocal and choral music, opera, music for theater and dance, liturgical music, and performance art. His stage works include Paranoia: A Psycho-Opera, and incidental music for Henry V, Macbeth, Yeats' The Only Jealousy of Emer, and Weiss' The Investigation. Three Canadian companies have mounted his opera, The Doll's House, and its Toronto production was nominated for 7 Dora (Toronto Theatre Guild) awards, including Outstanding New Musical and Outstanding Sound Design/Composition. The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance performed excerpts from his opera, Why I Live at the P.O., based on the story by Eudora Welty, in celebration of Welty's centennial year in 2009. Organized Rhythm (Clive Driskill-Smith, organ and Joseph Gramley, percussion) recently commissioned him to write Pluto, which was premiered at the American Guild of Organists' 2012 National Convention. As a teacher, he leads group seminars on the development of aural creativity and offers private composition instruction. In addition to working as assistant classical music editor for All Music Guide, he has written for The Opera Quarterly.
Michael O'Brien, librettist
Michael O’Brien is a playwright/dramatist whose works have been produced across Canada as well as in the USA and Great Britain. His works include Mad Boy Chronicle (Alberta Theatre Projects) and Restitution (Factory Theatre). Adapted works for the stage include A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist and Treasure Island (Young Peoples Theatre), The Barber of Seville (Theatre Columbus), Charles Dickens' Hard Times (Mainstage, National Arts Centre 2000) and H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man (The Shaw Festival 2006).His original dramatic works for CBC Radio include Shores of Wonder, Hearts of the World, Castle Grove and Someone Just For Me, and adapted radio works include Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid’s Tale and The Blind Assassin. Currently in progress: two original plays, God’s Wounds and The Runcible Lear, as well as a number of television projects with co-writer Christopher Marren. Mr. O'Brien is based in Toronto, Ontario.

Matt Frey, composer: The Fox and the Pomegranate
Matt Frey is a Brooklyn-based composer of contemporary concert music, both for vocal and instrumental ensembles. In 2012, Frey traveled to Auvillar, France, to work with members of Ensemble L’arsenale and the East Coast Contemporary Ensemble at the Etchings Contemporary Music Festival; just prior to that, he had earned a fellowship to participate in the 2012 John Duffy Composers Institute in Norfolk, Virginia, where scenes from his opera-in-progress The Fox and the Pomegranate were workshopped and performed. In addition to current projects – including original music for New York’s modern dance company Bodyart and a film score for celebrated Los Angeles chef Jordan Kahn – recent projects have included residencies, commissions, and/or premieres with the Jack String Quartet, the West Point Woodwind Quintet, the NYU Symphony Orchestra, and the Manhattan Wind Ensemble. A recent graduate of the Master’s program in Music Composition at New York University, where he studied with Joan La Barbara and Julia Wolfe, Frey is also known as a new music producer, performer, conductor, and advocate through his activities as co-founder of the West 4th New Music Collective, a cooperative of NYC-based composers and performers. Website:
Daniel J. Kushner, librettist
Daniel J. Kushner is a professional arts journalist and music critic whose work has been featured in such publications as Opera News, NewMusicBox, The Huffington Post, and Symphony. Selected writings by Mr. Kushner—which often focus on the contemporary classical music scene, as well as non-classical music and visual art—can be found at his website, He trained as a tenor during his undergraduate studies, and he completed his M.A. at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. The Fox and the Pomegranate is co-written with composer Matt Frey and marks Mr. Kushner’s debut as opera librettist; the opera was first workshopped at the 2012 John Duffy Composers Institute. Previous work includes the text for the song cycle A Painting of Pollock, set to music by Mr. Frey for vocalist and percussion. Pollock was premiered in September 2011 at Exapno in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Wang Jie, composer/librettist: From the Other Sky
Born in Shanghai, Wang Jie has emerged as one of the most distinctive musical voices of her generation. Elegant and elementally clear, she spins a few notes into large music forms – a rare trait in today’s composers. A scholarship from Manhattan School of Music brought her to the US where she began her composition studies under the tutelage of Nils Vigeland and later at the Curtis Institute of Music with Richard Danielpour. Her tragic opera Nannan was showcased by New York City Opera's annual VOX festival. This led to the production of her chamber opera Flown, a meditation on lovers who must separate, by Music-Theatre Group. Having won the coveted Underwood Commission, her concert opera From the Other Sky was the centerpiece of the American Composers Orchestra's season opening concert at Carnegie Hall. The Minnesota Orchestra, led by Osmo Vanska, performed her Symphony No. 1 as part of its Future Classics series. Multi-language song cycle "A Longing for Spring" was premiered at Merkin Hall for the 45th anniversary celebration of Continuum. Jie holds honors from ASCAP, American Academy of Arts and Letters, BMI, NYU, Opera America, among others. Recent commissions include a symphonic work for Detroit Symphony Orchestra, an Oboe Concerto for Orchestra of the League of Composers, a song for Opera America’s opening of the National Opera Center and Songs for Mahler in the Absence of Words for the New York Piano Quartet. The recordings of the latter two works are released in fall 2012. Website:

Louis Karchin, composer: Jane Eyre
Louis Karchin’s music has been performed world-wide, most recently at the Alba Music Festival and La Fenice, in Italy, at Mozart Hall, Seoul, South Korea, and at Tanglewood’s Festival of Contemporary Music. The British music journal, Contemporary Music Review singled out Karchin as one of twenty-five of the most exciting American composers born in the decade of the 1950's, and he was chosen as one of 53 composers selected to represent New York at the turn of the millennium in the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's "Great Day in New York" Festival at Alice Tully Hall. In 2011-12, Mr. Karchin was a recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and in the spring of 2012, he received the inaugural Andrew Imbrie Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Karchin studied at the Eastman School of Music and Harvard University; his principal teachers have included Samuel Adler, Joseph Schwantner, Fred Lerdahl, Earl Kim, and Leon Kirchner. Additional study included two summers as a Leonard Bernstein Fellow in Composition at the Tanglewood Music Center. He is now Professor of Music in NYU's Faculty of Arts and Science, teaching in an advanced graduate program in composition, which he organized in 1989. Karchin’s first opera, Romulus, received a fully-staged premiere in May of 2007, in a three-way collaboration between Works and Process at the Guggenheim, American Opera Projects, and the Washington Square Ensemble, and is now available on a much-heralded Naxos release. Other prominent vocal-instrumental works include his Masque, Orpheus, based on a poem by Stanley Kunitz (premiered by Earplay), and American Visions, on poetry of Yevgeny Yevtushenko (premiered by the Da Capo Chamber Players). Recognition for Mr. Karchin’s work has come from the Koussevitzky, Fromm and Barlow Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts (three awards), and two additional awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His music is published by C. F. Peters Corporation and the American Composers Alliance. Five CDs of his work are available on Naxos, New World, and Albany labels.
Diane Osen, librettist
Librettist Diane Osen earned a BA with honors from Vassar College and an MA in English from Rutgers University before embarking on a career as a writer, consultant and teacher. In addition to serving as a communications executive at Polaroid, Columbia Pictures and NBC, she has taught writing at New York University and has consulted for non-profit arts institutions such as the National Book Foundation, the American Museum of the Moving Image and Concert Artists Guild. Among the four books she has published is The Book That Changed My Life, a collection of interviews with prize-winning novelists, historians and poets including E.L. Doctorow, Don DeLillo, Diane Johnson, David McCullough and Philip Levine. Inspired by these writers, she adapted the book that changed her life—Jane Eyre—into a libretto for composer and conductor Louis Karchin. Her interest in opera was sparked early in life by her father David Osen, who began his career as a baritone at the New York City Opera singing in The Student Prince, Der Rosenkavalier and Der Fledermaus. She looks forward to re-introducing to 21st century opera audiences one of the most iconic figures of 19th century literature. Diane lives in Short Hills, New Jersey, with her husband Rick Covkin and their daughter Serena.

Patrick Soluri, composer: Embedded
Patrick Soluri is a New York City based composer who specializes in dramatic music for orchestra, ballet, opera, film & TV. His love of telling stories through music is evident in a large body of work for the stage, screen and concert hall. This includes five commissioned ballet scores performed and commissioned by Staatsballet Berlin, Dances patrelle and Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, the most well-known of which are Madame X (featuring American Ballet Theater principal dancer Marcelo Gomes), and Fancy Nancy, based on the popular children’s books. Additionally, numerous operatic works including a showcase by New York City Opera as part of ‘VOX Showcasing American Composers’; the one-act opera, Embedded, commissioned and workshopped by American Lyric Theater; and a series of short comic operas that have premiered annually since 2009 at sold-out shows Carnegie Hall with the Remarkable Theater Brigade. His most performed short opera is the dark comedy Figaro’s Last Hangover. He has also worked on numerous film and TV projects including the Emmy winning Wonderpets, and recently finished working with Sean Lennon on the film score for Alter Egos. His music has been featured on various shows on TLC, LOGO and DISCOVERY in the US and Europe, including America’s Got Talent. Performances of his operas during the 2012/13 season include Fort Worth Opera, Remarkable Theater Brigade at Carnegie Hall, Juventas New Music Ensemble in Boston, plus several additional performances around the country yet to be announced. For the latest news and more info, please visit
Deborah Brevoort, librettist
Deborah Brevoort is an award winning author of numerous plays and musicals and is best known for The Women of Lockerbie, which is currently being performed around the world after winning the Kennedy Center Fund for New American plays award and the silver medal in the Onassis International playwriting competition. In addition to Embedded, she wrote the librettos for: Steal a Pencil for Me, an opera about the Holocaust with Gerald Cohen; Crossing Over, a hip hop musical set in Amish Country with Stephanie Salzman; two musicals based on Alaskan children’s books, King Island Christmas and Goodbye My Island with David Friedman; and Coyote Goes Salmon Fishing, with Scott Richards. She is a two-time winner of the Frederick Loewe Award. Her plays include: Blue Moon Over Memphis, a Noh drama about Elvis Presley (published in The Best American Short Plays) The Poetry of Pizza, a cross cultural comedy about love, (Purple Rose, Mixed Blood, Virginia Stage and others); The Comfort Team, about military spouses during the surge of Iraq (Virginia Stage); The Velvet Weapon, a backstage farce about democracy; The Blue-Sky Boys about NASA’s Apollo mission (Sloan commission; Barter Theatre); and Into the Fire and Signs of Life (published by Samuel French). Deborah is an alumnus of New Dramatists and was an original company member with Perseverance Theatre in Alaska. She is a co-founder of Theatre Without Borders. She teaches at Goddard College in Vermont, and at Columbia University and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts in New York City. Website:

Daniel Sonenberg, composer: The Summer King
Daniel Sonenberg’s music has been performed by the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Momenta String Quartet, Friends and Enemies of New Music, the Portland Chamber Music Festival, the Manhattan School of Music, and many others. In 2011, he was awarded a residency at Yaddo, where he completed his opera, The Summer King, about the great Negro League baseball player Josh Gibson. Workshop and concert performances of scenes, arias and duets from the opera have taken place in New York City and Portland, Maine since 2003. Many of these have been sponsored by the New York-based company American Opera Projects. In March 2013, the Da Capo Chamber players will premiere a new work by Dr. Sonenberg while in residence at the University of Southern Maine. He has been increasingly active as a performer of his own music in recent years, having played the guitar part for numerous performances of his Seven Jarring Dances for Clarinet(s) and Steel-String Guitar (2011) and the drum part for his Takes One to Know One (2012), for bass clarinet, cello, bass, and percussion (floor tom and kick drum). He has received grants and fellowships from the Maine Arts Commission, Meet The Composer, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the New York Music Fund, and the American Music Center. Daniel Sonenberg is Associate Professor and Resident Composer at the University of Southern Maine. He lives in Portland with his wife, artist Alex Sax, and four-year-old triplet sons, Satchel, Pablo and Levi.
Daniel Nester, co-librettist
Daniel Nester is the author of How to Be Inappropriate, a collection of humorous nonfiction; God Save My Queen: A Tribute and God Save My Queen II: The Show Must Go On, collections on his obsession with the rock band Queen; and The History of My World Tonight, a collection of poems. His work has appeared in a variety of places, such as Salon, n+1, The Morning News, The Daily Beast, The Rumpus, Time Out New York, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and the Poetry Foundation website, and anthologized in such collections as The Best American Poetry 2003, The Best Creative Nonfiction, and Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll. He is an associate professor of English at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.

Veronika Krausas, composer: The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth
Composer Veronika Krausas has had her works performed internationally. She has directed, composed for, and produced multi-media events. Her chamber opera The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth, based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, was premiered at the New York Opera’s VOX 2008 festival. It was staged and won both the Best Opera and Best Performance for The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth at Goat Hall Productions Works for Opera (San Francisco - 2009). A full production was mounted in Los Angeles in August 2010. In February 2009 the Penderecki String Quartet gave the US Premiere of midaregami, her work for string quartet and mezzo-soprano at the Redcat Theater at Disney Hall. Language of the Birds, a commission for the 25th Anniversary of the San Francisco Choral Artists and the Alexander String Quartet, was released on CD with Foghorn Classics. Her chamber orchestra work analemma is an official selection of the US for the 2012 World Music Days in Belgium. Of Lithuanian heritage, she was born in Australia, raised in Canada, and lives in Los Angeles. She has music composition degrees from the University of Toronto, McGill University in Montreal, and a doctorate from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Krausas is an Assistant Professor in the Composition Department and the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Theory at the Thornton School of Music, on the advisory council of Jacaranda Music, an associate artist with The Industry, a lecturer at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and an artist with Catalysis Projects.

Librettist: Thomas Pettit
Thomas Pettit is a playwright and television writer from London, England. He moved to the United States and graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Spanish Literature; he now lives in Los Angeles. He has written numerous plays and screenplays and most recently wrote for the CBS television crime drama Cold Case; one of his episodes was the award-nominated “Forever Blue”. He is currently completing his first mystery novel, A Madman’s Notes.

Fort Worth Opera’s upcoming 2013 Festival season runs April 20–May 12, 2013, and offers Puccini’s tragic drama, La Bohème; Donizetti’s spirited switched-at-birth romantic comedy, The Daughter of the Regiment; and the company’s first-ever production of Strauss’ entertaining and comedic opera-within-an-opera, Ariadne auf Naxos, all performed in the company’s artistic home, Bass Hall. The company’s popular alternative venue series, newly-titled Opera Unbound, will feature the regional premiere of American composer Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, to be held in the McDavid Studio across from Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth. An emotion-packed, landmark work based on the bestselling book by journalist Tom Philpott, Glory Denied tells the tragic, true story of America’s longest-held Vietnam prisoner-of-war, Colonel Jim Thompson. Nine singers will make their company debuts in lead roles this spring. Please note that the company’s 67th season and seventh festival is one month earlier than previous seasons as it moves to its new time.
Tickets for the 2013 Festival can be purchased online, by phone, or in person at the Fort Worth Opera Box Office inside the Fort Worth Community Arts Center at 1300 Gendy St., Fort Worth, Texas, 76107. Season subscriptions start at $35 while single tickets start at $25. For more information, please visit or call 817.731.0726 or toll-free at 1.877.396.7372. To purchase tickets online, go to

Thursday, September 06, 2012


I love to do interviews, and have had enough experience that not only does it come naturally, but sounds that way - most recently I had a chance to talk with a professional consultant/journalist about the orchestra situation in the US. This is what he posted today:

If you’re interested in listening in on a closed door style conversation about the state of the field within the context of current labor disputes, then you’re in luck as Texas Public Radio (TPR) published an uncharacteristically casual and frank conversation I had with host John Clare on 9/5/2012. Although it was most certainly an interview recorded for the purpose of broadcasting, it comes across much more like a casual yet earnest conversation that just so happened to get recorded. The material was recorded on Labor Day, Monday 9/3/2012 so don’t forget that everything in Atlanta and Indianapolis had yet to explode.
My thanks to John Clare and TPR for providing such a luxurious amount of time to really dig into the good, the bad, and the ugly going on right now. There are two segments, one at the top of the page and the remaining interview is available at the end.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Labor Day 2012

Steven Stucky at the Great Wall of China
So what's on tap for your Labor Day? Perhaps you should listen to Einstein on the Beach? Some Amy Beach?
Relax with Michael Torke's Blue Pacific?

Why not head over to Composing Thoughts on facebook and like us, staying informed of contemporary music and creativity!

Monday, August 27, 2012

S4M tix

Single tickets go on sale for the 2013 Spring For Music Festival today, August 27, at By pricing all single tickets at $25 dollars, selling seats on a first-come/first-serve basis, and accepting orchestras on the basis of adventurous programming, Spring For Music continues to redefine the classical music experience. The festival invites New York and hometown fans alike to come hear North America's most ambitious orchestras prove themselves at one of the world's most famous concert halls. This year's festival features the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Albany Symphony Orchestra (which also participated in the 2011 festival), the Buffalo Philh armonic Orchestra, the Oregon Symphony (also appeared in 2011), the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra. The festival runs from May 6, 2013 to May 11, 2013.
Spring For Music firmly believes that great ideas and great concert programs come from open dialogue and creative collaboration. To further this conversation, Spring For Music created two web initiatives in addition to their concert activities: The Fantasy Program and the Arts Blogger Challenge.

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
Monday, May 6, 2013 
        Marin Alsop, music director
                JOHN ADAMS: Shaker Loops
                JENNIFER HIGDON: Concerto 4-3
                        Time for Three, string trio
                SERGEI PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 4 (1947 version)

Albany Symphony Orchestra
May 7, 2013
        David Alan Miller, music director
                JOHN HARBISON: Suite from The Great Gatsby
                GEORGE GERSHWIN: Second Rhapsody for piano and orchestra
                        Kevin Cole, piano
                MORTON GOULD: Symphony No. 3

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
May 8, 2013
        JoAnna Falletta, music director
                GIYA KANCHELI: "Morning Prayers" from Life Without Christmas
                REINHOLD GLIÈRE: Symphony No. 3, "Ilya Muromets"

Oregon Symphony
May 9, 2013
        Carlos Kalmar, music director
                NARONG PRANGCHAROEN: Phenomenon
                 KURT WEILL: Seven Deadly Sins
                        Storm Large, vocalist
                ARNOLD SCHOENBERG: Accompaniment to a Film Scene
FRANZ SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 8, "Unfinished"
                    MAURICE RAVEL: La Valse
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
May 10, 2013
        Leonard Slatkin, music director
                CHARLES IVES: Symphony No. 1
                CHARLES IVES: Symphony No. 2
                CHARLES IVES: Symphony No. 3
                CHARLES IVES: Symphony No. 4

National Symphony Orchestra
May 11, 2013
        Christoph Eschenbach, music director
                ALFRED SCHNITTKE: Symphony No. 6
                SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5

Friday, August 24, 2012

Classical action

These are the top ten WORST songs for a gun control classical concert:

10. Christian Ellis' Fallujah

9. Mancini: Peter Gunn

8. Berlin: Annie Get Your Gun

7. Shostakovich: The man with the gun Overture

6. Arthur Bliss: Things to Come: Attack of the Moon Gun

5. Aaron Copland: Billy the Kid

4. Antheil Ballet machanique

3. Paul Moravec's Double Action 

2. Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture
and the number one WORST piece for gun control is

Weber's Der Freishutz Overture

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

OFJ a hit

Poster outside the Teatro Degollado
There's lots to enjoy in Guadalajara - the history, food, shopping and the arts. Most recently the Orquesta Filarmonica de Jalisco named Alondra de la Parra as the Artistic Director, and the results are electric!

I spoke to the Operations Manager about the effect Alondra has had on the orchestra:

A standing ovation for Shostakovich 5
I also asked an audience member at intermission of a concert, what she thought about the orchestra and its new director:

And after the final concert of Season 2 (the third starts this October!) to Alondra de la Parra about music, working in Mexico, and teaching:

Saturday, July 14, 2012


Hay un buen refrán que dice que el todo es mayor que sus partes, lo cual no necesariamente es verdad con muchas orquestas, pero si se agrega un nuevo Director Artístico -Alondra de la Parra - a la Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco, las partes no solo se multiplican exponencialmente, sino que se electrizan de energía!

  Asistí al Programa 6 este viernes 13 de julio en el bello Teatro Degollado.  El programa orquestal abrió con Silvestre Revueltas.  Esa obra puede ser aterrorizante e hipnótica y la orquesta estuvo a la altura de ello. Es muy colorida e inventiva, no comprendo porqué no aparece más frecuentemente en los programas…… felicitaciones a Tomás Rosaleny que estuvo atinado en el solo tuba, y al excelente trabajo de la percusión que estuvo clara y firme.

  La Bella Durmiente de Tchaikovsky fue la siguiente pieza del programa que estuvo totalmente vendido (efectivamente, tres días antes del concierto ya no se podían encontrar boletos!).  Puede que no haya nada más bello que Alondra de la Parra en el podio – es poético que esta joven directora la brinde a la orquesta justo lo que necesita en términos de ritmo y, al mismo tiempo, le de al público un espectáculo fabuloso.  Para esa suite de cinco movimientos, gozamos de toda una gama de sonidos, desde valses con pegajosos ritmos a escenas introspectivas, ejemplificadas en el popular Vals del Acto 1.


Alondra de la Parra in Shostakovich

Después de un breve intermedio, el programa terminó con la Quinta Sinfonía de Dmitri Shostakovich, una de las obras más dramáticas y bien estructuradas del repertorio orquestal, la cual juega con dos notas “ba-bum” y su inverso a través de los cuatro movimientos.  Quizá siendo viernes 13 afectó a algunos de la orquesta, como el corno principal fuera de tono (que tampoco estaba bien en los ensayos de esa mañana, que pena) y el batón de Alondra de la Parra que salió volando hacia las violas (he visto que eso le pase a muchos otros directores, pero nunca había visto que tuvieran uno de repuesto – ella sí y siguió dirigiendo como sin nada!).  Fuera de eso, Shostakovich hubiera estado fascinado con los tempos rápidos, líneas fogosas y genuina excitación en esa ejecución.  Muy atinados fueron los solos del primer violín, Bryan Lee, la arpista Guadalupe Pérez y el tecladista que tocó el piano y la celesta (no nombrado en el programa pero estuvo excelente!).  También tuvimos una fabulosa ejecución del xilófono (tantas notas lúcidas que se repetían en consonancia con los violines y las flautas), así como un soberbio final con el tímpano y el tambor bajo en perfecta sincronía con de la Parra (en los ensayos fue igualmente excitante ver cómo se perfeccionó eso!).

  El público se puso de pié al final del programa y, después de la reverencia por de la Parra y su aceptación de flores, los miembros de la orquesta no se levantaron con la solicitud de Alondra para en lugar aplaudirle a su Director Artístico en conjunto con el público.

  No puedo expresar suficientemente lo encantador que estuvo este concierto y la maravillosa música que emanó del mismo. Sala de primera: palomita. Director de orquesta fuera de este mundo: palomita. Orquesta deseosa de colaborar: palomita.  Público energizado: palomita.  Esa es la receta para un gran entretenimiento y el éxito de la Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco y de Guadalajara. Bravissimo!

  Este programa se repite este domingo en la tarde a las 12:30 y parece que está totalmente vendido, pero vale la pena checar en taquilla por hay algunas cancelaciones – y asegurarse de comprar boletos para los siguientes conciertos en

Traducción por Luis Catán

Orchestra on the rise

There's a great saying about the sum being more than its parts - which isn't necessarily true for all orchestras, but add the new Artist Director Alondra de la Parra to the Orquesta Filarmonica de Jalisco and not only do things multiply exponentially, they electrify!
I heard the Programa 6 on Friday, July 13 in the beautiful Teatro Degollado. Silvestre Revueltas' Sensemaya opened the all orchestra program. This work can be terrifying and hypontic, and the OFJ was up to the task. It's colorful and inventive, I don't know why it doesn't appear on more programs than it does...kudos to Tomas Rosaleny who nailed the tuba solo and the excellent work of the percussion section which was crisp.
Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty was next on the sold out program (yes, three days before the show, you could not find tickets!) There may not be anything more beautiful than de la Parra on the podium - it is quite poetic that this young leader gives her orchestra just what they need in terms of rhythm, and at the very same time, gives the audience a breathtaking show. For Tchaikovsky's five movement suite, it ran the gamut of toe tapping waltzes to introspective scenes, best heard in the popular Valse of Act I.
Alondra de la Parra in Shostakovich

After a short intermission, the program finished with Dmitri Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony - one of the all time dramatic and wellcrafted orchestra works, playing with two notes, "bah bum" and the reverse "bum bah" through all four movements. Perhaps Friday the 13th struck some in this performance, with a complete left field solo from the principal horn that was clearly off (which had not improved from the open rehearsal in the morning, sad.) and a flying baton from de la Parra that landed in the violas (I've seen that happen lots to conductors, but never have I seen them have a backup baton - she did, and continued without a blink!) Other than that, Shostakovich would have rejoiced in brisk tempos, fiery lines and geniune excitement of this performance. Especially touching were solos from concertmaster Bryan Lee, harpist Guadalupe Perez, and the keyboardist playing piano and celesta (not named in the program, but she was spot on!) There was also delightful, bone chilling percussion work from the xylophone (so many great repeated notes right along with the violins and flutes) as well as the stunning finale with timpani and bass drum in perfect sync with de la Parra (in rehearsal it was equally exciting to see this be put together!)
The audience was on its feet and after solo bows, de la Parra was presented flowers and as orchestras can do, refused to stand when Alondra motioned, allowing their Artistic Director warm applause from the audience and them.
I cannot express enough how delightful this concert was, and what music making was shared. World class hall, check. Out of this world conductor, check. Orchestra willing to work, check. Excited audience, check. This is the recipe for great entertainment and success for the OFJ and Guadalajara.
This program repeats Sunday afternoon at 12:30, and was reported sold out, but I would check at the box office for any cancellations, and be sure to get season tickets for the next concerts at

Lea esta revisión en español:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Top Ten Composers needing healthcare

Today's decision makes me think of composers and healthcare, so here goes a Top Ten list of who might have benefited from better healthcare in their day!

10. Robert Schumann
9. Frederic Chopin
8. Ludwig van Beethoven
7. Lili Boulanger
6. Bedrich Smetana
5. Hugo Wolf
4. Alban Berg
3. Vincenzo Bellini
2. Giovanni Pergolesi
and the number one composer who needed better healthcare is...
1. Jean Baptiste Lully

Monday, June 25, 2012

Out of this world

Tom Servo
I was reading this morning some great things on the net, and thought you might be interested too!

There is a great new exhibit up in London, about the solar system. It also focuses on the orchestra, with insights from Esa-Pekka Salonen!

There is also a great article on the sound of the universe from Tom Service here.  Of course, that author's name made me think of one of my favorite MST3K characters (seen right)!

Right now, San Antonio young musicians are on tour in London, you can read about their adventures here, complete with photos and video!

Besides Holst, there is actual sound from Saturn:

Thursday, May 31, 2012


Caregivers gathered in San Antonio today to tackle issues faced nationwide by those caring for our nation’s wounded, ill or injured. The 3rd annual USO Caregivers Conference, brought together spouses, moms, dads, brothers, sisters and loved ones caring for wounded, ill and injured troops from the San Antonio area as well as national experts to address topics such as communicating with your loved one after injury, helping children cope with reintegration and rehabilitation, making marriage work after the battlefield and accessing military caregiver benefits.
Attendees were asked to share the joys and the challenges associated with being a caregiver. They also participated in various exercises like communicating with only numbers, and stress-busting breathing techniques. “You as a caregiver are an integral part of our soldier’s success. They can’t succeed if you can’t take care of yourself,” said LTC Brian Almquist, Commander, Warrior Transition Battalion, Brooke Army Medical Center. Ed and Karen Matayaka knew first-hand what everyone in the room was going through. They were both deployed to Afghanistan last summer where Ed was severely wounded after being struck by an IED. “I had to go from being a soldier to caregiver as well as a spouse. That’s a really hard transition and it’s also very hard for the warrior to allow that to happen,” said Karen. “I’m not back to a normal life yet. It never goes back to being normal,” said Ed. “That line in the sand is gone. Now, the struggle for us is finding out what the new normal is.” “We interject laughter into every situation in life,” said Karen. “There is nothing you can’t laugh at,” continued Ed.
Mike Martinez traveled from El Paso to participate in today’s conference. As a spokesperson for soldiers living with PTS, Martinez was featured in the USO’s Spanish PSA “Portraits” educating Americans about the invisible wounds of war. Speaking to CNN in March Martinez said: “I tell my brothers that are still serving, don’t let pride get in the way. Pride’s going to kill you. Take that warrior mask off and if you need to, get help. Get it in the beginning stages, and not later.” Award winning children’s author and entertainer Trevor Romain worked with local caregiver couple Shilo and Kathreyn Harris to answer the participant’s questions about raising children when one parent suffers from invisible or visible wounds. “I didn’t have answers for her (daughter Elizabeth),” said Kathreyn. There are some days we still don’t have the answers. We listen to her. We validate her. It’s OK to have these feelings. It is OK to be mad, scared, frustrated.”
The conference was free and open to caregivers, wounded service men and women and military medical personnel from the local San Antonio area. Five scholarships were also provided to those living outside San Antonio. A resounding theme throughout the day was said best by Gabriele Dias, Ft. Sam Houston Soldier Family Assistance Center (SFAC) Director: “Learn something about yourself…because if you can’t take care of yourself then you don’t have anything left for anybody else.”
-from a press release

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

War Requiem

I fell in love with Britten's powerful War Requiem while in college. I remember listening to an lp with the score - and not long after, watching a laserdisc of a filmed version:

Now, you can browse Britten's notebook on the work:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Great reason to walk!

The Audie L. Murphy Division of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System is hosting a 2K walk and roll May 16 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. in support of employee wellness month. The event also encourages employee and local community support of homeless Veterans and will take place at the University of Texas Health Science Center of San Antonio track, located in front of the Spectrum Athletic Center at the corner of Babcock and Merton Minter.
VA's employee wellness program, known as WIN (Wellness Is Now), empowers employees with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to create a culture of health and wellness. Further, the group encourages employees to use their appreciation of wellness to inspire Veterans to live healthier lifestyles.
While there is no registration fee for the VA2K, employees and volunteers participating in the event are asked to donate to support homeless Veterans. Participation is open to the community, donations are optional and participants who wish to donate are asked to provide gift cards, phone cards, and cash to help support the homeless Veteran community.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Help the SA Symphony

It is a great challenge given to the San Antonio Symphony, to levy $25,000 by the Symphony League when an additional $25,000 is raised. You can make a secure donation by going here: or by calling Emily Brandesky in the Symphony office at (210) 554-1052.
The deadline for the symphony to raise $25,000 is May 31st! Make your contribution now, and let's meet and EXCEED this goal!

In the Fall of 1950, a group of symphony supporters organized The Women’s Committee of the San Antonio Symphony with Mrs. Henry Catto as founding president. In the Spring of 1979, the Women’s Committee of the San Antonio Symphony changed its name to The San Antonio Symphony League. In 1966, The Junior Committee of the San Antonio Symphony was organized for women under the age of 40. After 25 years, in the Spring of 1991, the Junior Committee merged with the San Antonio Symphony League to create a stronger circle of support for the Orchestra. In 2004, the San Antonio Symphony League became a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, non-profit organization, incorporated, allowing fundraising to have a greater financial impact for the Symphony. Since its inception, this organization has directed its energies toward service, educational efforts and financial support of the San Antonio Symphony. Today the San Antonio Symphony League proudly continues in the dedication and traditions set forth by its founders. The San Antonio Symphony League encourages a diverse membership which reflects and appreciates the rich multi-cultural heritage of San Antonio. For more information, please contact the Vice President for Membership Agnes Lowe at (210) 216-0729. There is more information about the group here:

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Mozart from the keyboard

This weekend the SA Symphony has a conductor who is a pianist - and will play Mozart's powerful and dark d minor concerto. Here is one of my favorite versions with Philippe Entremont leading the Vienna Chamber Orchestra at a rehearsal:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


The South Texas Veterans Health Care System (STVHCS) will host the annual motorcycle rally “Fiesta de los Veteranos” in conjunction with the 12th Annual “To Hell and Back” Biker Run, Saturday, April 21, 2012, noon – 4 p.m. This is a Fiesta sanctioned event in support of our Warrior Veterans. With the support of the local community the event will be a resounding success for our Veterans. Our motorcycle rally and “Warrior Veteran Block Party” proceeds benefit the STVHCS VA Fisher House. The celebration will include live music, food booths, and fun family activities (moon bounces/face painting). Anyone who wants to participate in the motorcycle rally can get further information by contacting the Voluntary Service office at (210) 617-5107, via email at, or find the event on our website at: The public is invited to attend this free admission and free parking Fiesta event which will the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital, located at 7400 Merton Minter Blvd., San Antonio, Texas, 78229-4404. Come join us with your friends and family for great food, music and family fun, but most of all to give a heartfelt thanks and show of appreciation to our nation’s Warrior Veterans.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The prize

I was delighted to hear my friend Kevin Puts won this year's Pultizer in Music. I asked if he was the youngest, and he immediately said, "No, I'm 40! There have been younger, oh no, not me. Copland or someone." And it made me wonder WHO was the youngest.
Charles Wuorinen (and kitty)
Turns out, back in 1970, Charles Wuorinen was only 32 years old when he was awarded the prize (for Time's Encomium, an electronic composition written on commission from Nonesuch Records).
Next is Wynton Marsalis at age 36, and when they were 38, composers Gail Kubik (in 1952) and Aaron Jay Kernis (in 1998) were awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
There you have it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Contribute to SOLI

There is still time to make a difference with SOLI Chamber Ensemble and their commission, Prelude to the End, by Steven Mackey. But there are just nine days to go!

Here are "the top ten" reasons to become a Sound Investor! (from the home office in San Antonio)
10. Limited Edition T-shirt (Limited edition, folks, limited edition!)
9. It's a SOUND investment! (double entedre!)
8. Bragging rights that you helped the 25th commission for SOLI!
7. Tax deductible - and it's never too early to start for taxes, this year the deadline for 2011 is April 17th!
6. Still three chances to get Ertan to cook and Dave to pair vino, THREE chances!!!
5. Helps expand the mixed quartet repertory!
4. Multimedia baby!
3. Meet SOLI, Steven and Mark!
2. It's "shot of energy, wave of euphoria, spiritual transcendence, transported beyond yourself as a human being!"
and the number one reason to give to SOLI's kickstarter campaign...
1. You will make a difference and help with the creation of a new work!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Exclusive Listen

Check out the latest from Roxanna Panufnik, and her new project, Love Abide.

You might remember our first encounter back in Philly a few years ago.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Big Cultural Apple

“New York has long been considered the cultural capital of America. Is it still? If not, where?”
View from the old WNYC bathroom
The simple answer is yes. "The Muppets took"? Manhattan. "How do you get to _______ Hall? joke" - Carnegie (deli too, there is no Disney Deli [of fame anyway!]) is the answer...and The Horowitz Nail wasn't in the Kennedy Center or Sydney Opera House (although I am sure they were accommodating if and when the famed pianist had played there).
New York City happens to have a lot of great musicians, writers, dancers, chefs, performers, etc. Certainly in the past Vienna and Leipzig were musical capitals for a long time, and I might even argue that the Berlin Philharmonic may be the greatest orchestra on earth, but dollar to donuts - bagels if you will - New York is America's cultural capital.
I've written about some of my time in NYC, and certainly interviewed quite a few folks there. I love it, and have to admit I am a bit biased. When Paris, je t'aime came out, I said, you know, that last clip is how I feel about New York! Woody Allen of course did a great job in this clip:

John in "Upstate Manhattan" Inwood
I have lived in NYC for two short stints - in college I took a break and stayed 3 months in midtown Manhattan and split a sublet, and more recently in late 2007/early 2008, renting a room in what I called "Upstate Manhattan" - Inwood is the official title. (See me at a famous corner there on the right side of this column.)
I treasure my time there and look forward to returning again and again, perhaps one of these days to actually reside.

I will play devil's advocate for just a second and say that with the internet, and technology, having a geographical "cultural" capital is a bit old fashioned. Europe has a cool project where the city changes every year, and with equality in funding from the NEA and NEH, there are cities just as worthy as NYC to be called the cultural capital - San Francisco, Chicago, LA are easily part of this fabric!
(This is my first entry for the Spring4Music Blogger Challenge!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why I love Thursdays

This is my week so far:

10:30am Ruth Moreland

10am Vadim Gluzman
10:15am Alexandre DaCosta
11am Ryu Goto
11:30am Mark Richter Opera Piccola
12:30pm Allison Balsom

11:45am Mariko TAO

Still waiting on two more potential interviews - for this week!
I love talking to musicians. But could they spread out their concerts a little here in South Texas?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Soloist change

LH-R is not coming
Following her doctor’s advice, violinist Latica Honda-Rosenberg is unable to travel to San Antonio for her solo appearances with the San Antonio Symphony on March 2 and 3, 2012. Violinist Vadim Gluzman will perform in her place, and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto will replace the Shostakovich Concerto originally programmed. He will also teach the Russell Hill Rogers Strings Master Class on Thursday, March 1 at 7 p.m. at the Majestic Theatre.

The complete Symphony program is now:
March 2 and 3, 2012 at 8 p.m. Majestic Theatre
Sebastian Lang-Lessing, conductor Vadim Gluzman, violin
Wagner Overture to The Flying Dutchman 
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35 
Britten Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes, Op.33a 
Debussy La Mer
You can hear my interview with Gluzman the last time he was in town here.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I was talking with friends last night at the final Beethoven Festival concert of Piano Sonatas and somehow I mentioned Dennis Moore to them - neither of them had heard of this Monty Python sketch! (and I could not for the life of me remember what the flowers were called - Lupins!)