BMInt has just republished J.W. Elliot’s beloved 1870 National Nursery Rhymes and Songs. Many of the tunes remain in our collective subconscious as the versions of songs our parents and grandparents sang to us and we now sing to our children and grandchildren. Others rise to the level of through-composed art song. Our slavish facsimile of the original is replete with more than 100 illustrations by the brothers Dalziel and also includes a potpourri of carefully chosen recorded examples starring an 1870 Chickering concert grand, pianist Artem Belogurov, tenor Daniel Hershey, mezzo-soprano Thea Lobo and baritone Robert Honeysucker. Unlikely profits from sales of this book will go toward reducing the Intelligencer’s inevitable deficits.
The price of the clothbound standard edition is $45. A special limited edition bound in leather and marbled paper will give supporters a chance to make a real difference by making a $500 purchase.
A better present for musical new parents and grandparents is hardly imaginable. If you don’t have a piano, then sing along with the included CD. [continued]
BSO under Andris Nelsons treated us to early Haydn, early Tchaikovsky, and not-late Bartók on a pre-Thanksgiving Tuesday at Symphony Hall . [continued]
Mourning, nostalgia, and regret permeated a kaleidoscope of works by Schubert and Brahms at the Boston Chamber Music Society’s third concert of the season at Sanders Theater on Sunday. [continued]
Boston University Symphony Orchestra and Chorus brought Fauré’s Requiem and Stravinsky’s Perséphone to Symphony Hall on Monday. [continued]
Spectrum Singers’ “Praises and Prayers” presented a wonderfully varied selection of 20th-century American and British praise pieces, most notably a choral triptych Many Ways to Pray from Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz at First Church Cambridge on Saturday. [continued]
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project under the direction of Gil Rose celebrated the life and music of Gunther Schuller in a fitting tribute, especially as the concert took place in Jordan Hall, in the heart of the New England Conservatory, where Gunther as President led the school for 10 of its most adventurous and abundantly creative years. [continued]
A full King’s Chapel, including formally dressed members of the H+H board, witnessed Harry Christophers leed a fleet professional chorus of 26, accompanied by cellist Guy Fishman and organist Ian Watson in a slender program of anthems and choruses inspired by the foundational Christmas 1815 performance. [continued]
An eclectic an enthusiastic celebration for the extraordinary Gunther Schuller came Thursday in Jordan Hall. Arranged by John Heiss, the event reminded us how much richer we are for Gunther’s life. [continued]
On Sunday at Calderwood Hall, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center gave us singularly beautiful works by Mozart, Debussy and Fauré. [continued]
Currently at the Met, a lulu of a Lulu, and our man in Manhattan was there. [continued]
A new relationship between the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge and the Cantata Singers began Tuesday with a strong program of American vocal music in an auditorium rarely, if ever, used for public concerts. [continued]
Apollo’s Fire packed First Church in Cambridge Friday in a program with soprano Amanda Forsythe built around six arias from Handel’s Italian operas. [continued]
The ultimate love-him-or-hate-him figure in the Western canon found an ardent and articulate champion in conductor Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra in their all-Wagner program on Wednesday night at Sanders Memorial Theater in Cambridge. Repeats on Saturday evening at 8pm (Jordan Hall) and Sunday afternoon at 3pm (Sanders Theater.) [continued]
Master violinist Isabelle Faust joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for a revelatory program. The orchestra delivered tragedy, transcendence, and inspiration in abundance. [continued]
Jonathan Dove’s opera Flight featured a strong cast in an engaging performance on Thursday evening at the BoCo Theater. Running through Sunday. [continued]
A large audience turned out to hear William Porter inaugurate the newly restored E. M. Skinner chancel organ of All Saints, Ashmont. The Skinner complements a larger C. B. Fisk tracker organ of 1995 in the nave gallery. Porter performed repertoire that suited each well. [continued]
Cappella Clausura opened its season on Saturday evening in Emmanuel Church’s Lindsey Chapel with taut performances of works by Rebecca Clarke and Aaron Copland followed by Elena Ruehr’s Cassandra in the Temples. [continued]
The Boston Symphony Chamber Players opened their Sunday afternoon Jordan Hall concert in royal fashion. Expectations were fulfilled and then some. [continued]
The London-based Elias String Quartet brought an astonishing quiet intensity to three Beethoven quartets in a rapt Shalin Liu Center on Saturday. [continued]
Circa, Australia’s ‘new circus’ troupe, opened of “Opus”, a deep, rich collaboration with Quatuor Debussy in three quartets (and an early Adagio) of Shostakovich at the Shubert Theater on Friday. Final performance this afternoon at 3:00. [continued]
Last Thursday, the innovative Ampersand concert series at Bartos Theater MIT featured multimedia artist Asha Sheshadri (Isolde Touch) and sacred-music duo Ariadne, and a uniquely forward-looking experience was had by all. [continued]
“Anne Sofie von Otter and Friends” filled Paine Hall to capacity for the Boston Early Music Festival Concert Series on Sunday. No vanity project this, for the musically omnivorous Swedish mezzo-soprano, but rather an intimate colloquy among three supremely gifted colleagues. [continued]more reviews →
Yes, we remember the excitement in Boston when the Metropolitan Opera commissioned our own John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby in 1999. Revivals have followed sporadically in San Francisco, at the Aspen Music Festival, and in concert performances in Boston and at Tanglewood Music Center.
Finally, the first European staged performance of the full grand opera Gatsby comes at the historic at Semperoper Dresden from December 6th through 21st. According to the company, “The opera blends modern classical music with jazz and swing to paint a thrilling portrait of a debauched and decadent society, where double standards clash with idealism.”
Wayne Marshall serves as music director, Keith Warner essays stage direction, with dramaturgy by Stefan Ulrich, and set design by the late Johan Engels. In this staging, Director Keith Warner avoids the directorial conceits often plaguing recent European productions. Instead he goes directly where we would expect—to the excesses, excitements, and impending doom of Fitzgerald’s mid-20s America. [continued…]
Running from July 3rd (Prairie Home Companion warmup June 25th) to August 28th, the Tanglewood-to-be promises an abundance of deeper challenges among its harvest of crowd-pleasers. The information received thus far presents preliminary and incomplete teasers of events numerous and varied.
Summertime on the lawn or in the Shed implies a certain relaxation and dolce far niente, in addition to serious concentration. So while I have railed in the past about too many performances of works of lesser quality, I can be sympathetic if a Tanglewood performance is involved. And some of the programming is inspired. Friday July 22nd sees two outstandingly dull warhorses, Vaughan Williams’s Tallis Fantasia and Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony, but sandwiched between them is Dvorák’s Violin Concerto, with Lisa Batiashvili. On Saturday, the high point is the complete Sombrero de tres picos of Manuel de Falla, one of the more sparkling creations of Diaghilev’s later years, but to hear it you have to endure Tchaikovsky’s overplayed Piano Concerto no. 1, the consolation being that soloist Garrick Ohlsson is one of the best pianists alive. One BSO program features Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé Suite no. 2—it’s hard to get tired of either—but winds up with Carmina Burana, vulgar albeit good-natured fun. [continued…]
Groupmuse, the Boston-founded startup that organizes classical music house concerts, has announced a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to raise $100,000 to grow its operations and staff. The donor tiers range from “keep Groupmuse close to your heart” for $1, to “be like an emperor or something” for $10,000.
BMInt spoke with Sam Bodkin, the Founder and CEO of Groupmuse, about the organization’s past successes and future plans.
SB: Boston was the birthplace of Groupmuse and Boston made Groupmuse possible because it has the ideal conditions for something like this. It’s a city with a deep and honest love of great culture, it has world class institutions, and there’s a bone-deep commitment to the life of the mind and the life of the soul. I mean, look at the Boston Music Intelligencer! It grew straight out of the Harvard Musical Association, which was once in talks with Wagner to produce Parsifal! That’s heavy duty stuff! And to top it off, it was one of the first outlets to cover Groupmuse, when we were in our absolute infancy!
But even with all of that pedigree, Boston also has this new-fangled innovation streak, and it’s a small city. So something like Groupmuse was really able to take root. I’m hoping in Boston we have a strong showing of people to come out and support this Kickstarter. I think Groupmuse is essential for our culture, which is on a precipice, and cities like Boston can show the way.
Some 1000 people showed up on Christmas Day of 1815 to hear the first installment of what has become the longest running show in town. Handel and Haydn Society’s inaugural concert, at King’s Chapel came as a response to a pair of successful presentations earlier in the year led by Gottlieb Graupner, a musician who had arrived from London in 1797 and who had once played oboe under Haydn there. His musical miscellanies had aroused enough interest to inspire the founding of the Society.
The composers heard in the stone church that night included by the namesakes of the ensemble well as lesser composers whose stars have faded. A special event—again at King’s Chapel—on this Saturday night at 7 pm, re-creates, and in various ways, celebrates the founding and early history of this most senior of American concert-giving organizations. And it does so in what is surely the one gathering place in Boston that is least changed in the last 200 years.
Saturday evening will not literally repeat that founding moment, though it will, naturally, close with what must count as the two most famous and popular choral numbers to have been performed over the period stretching from the founding to today: the close of Part I of Haydn’s Creation, “The Heavens are telling the glory of God,” and the close of Part II of Handel’s Messiah, “Hallelujah.” [continued…]
Though an amazing 50 other concerts seem to be happening between Monday and Sunday, six celebrations planned in celebration of Gunther Schuller’s 90th birthday may constitute the major events for many of us. Schuller’s death five months ago inspired extended looks at his considerable legacy.
Gunther’s weekend starts a day early, on Thursday. At NEC, John Heiss has curated a November 19th concert that spans his 70 years of composing, as well as the tremendous range of genres and ideas encompassed in his output. Free at 7:30pm at Jordan Hall, Gunther Schuller: A Musical Celebration features Quartet for 4 Double Basses; Sandpoint Rag (pianist Veronica Jochum); Headin’ Out, Movin’ In; Grand Concerto for Percussion and Keyboards; and Ran Blake’s Gunther. At 8pm at BU and also free, David Martins leads the Boston University Wind Ensemble in Schuller’s Symphony for Brass and Percussion, and other works.
On Friday evening November 20th at 8pm, free recitals continue, with organist Aaron Sunstein giving the world premiere of Schuller’s (1981) Organ Symphony, with other works, at Church of the Advent; co-sponsored by NEC and the Boston chapter of the American Guild of Organists. [continued…]
With nary a dog and pony act or whitefaced clown, Circa’s 19 circassians (acrobats) will illustrate three Schostakovich string quartets at Schubert Theater this weekend . . . if you can believe it. Some may remember Circa’s dark and edgy appearance in 2012. This time their unlikely partners are four blindfolded members of the Quatuor Debussy. The acrobats promise to defy gravity with dangerous hand to hand stunts, including a woman walking on the heads of her male counterparts, and dropping into a full split with her feet on the heads of two men. They will also do some aerial stunts with ropes and satin. You can see a short trailer of the performances here.
The edgy show created by Circa’s artistic director Yaron Lifschitz begins with a solo performer suspended on a rope serenaded by musicians, then moves through rapidly alternating scenes of dislocated stillness and violent explosions into geometries of acrobats intersected by extreme physicality to arrive at exquisitely detailed and nuanced choreographies of acrobats flying, balancing and landing. Opus apparently explores the complex relationships between the individual and the group, between the march of history and the dictates of the heart and between the tragic and the comic.
BMInt asked Quatour Debussy’s violinist Christope Collette what’s the point of the blindfolds? [continued…]
Capella Clausura is nothing if not ambitious. Elena Ruehr (composer) and Gretchen Henderson (poet/librettist) wrote their Cassandra in the Temples, (described variously as a poetic opera and a choral opera) for performance by the hip New York-based vocal ensemble Room Full of Teeth. The “Teeth” premiered it at M.I.T. almost exactly a year ago. While Capella Clausura’s Director Amelia LeClair did not hear that performance, she did hear Ruehr’s Eve, performed by The Cantata Singers BMInt review here]. That powerful experience moved LeClair to approach Ruehr about a work for Capella Clausura. Ruehr seized the opportunity to suggest another performance of Cassandra, this one with staging so that the opera could be performed with the multiplicity of media that defines the genre.
A panel representing several divisions of the music biz debated the future of classical music in Boston and beyond. The Learning Community event at the First Church in Boston (possessor of thriving Sunday music program and host of many of the city’s musical offerings in its acoustically superb sanctuary) voiced guarded optimism.
FCB director of music Paul Cienniwa posed questions to pianist and Longy Conservatory Dean Wayman Chin, Emmanuel Music Executive Director Patricia Krol (formerly with the BSO); baritone William Thorpe, publisher at Thorpe Music Publishing Company; and Berklee College composition professor Francine Trester. All were optimistic. [continued…]more news & features →