Brahms’s beloved German Requiem served as conductor Jameson Marvin’s Schwanengesang with his eponymous ensemble on Friday at Jordan Hall. Marvin founded The Jameson Singers in 2010 after concluding his distinguished 32-year tenure as Harvard University’s Director of Choral Activities.    [continued]

Who could have imagined that Benjamin Zander would be co-conducting on the Sanders Theater stage yesterday with a jazz-dancing, scatting Doppelgänger? But the success the players and soloists achieved as they adventured forth under Zander’s lofty standard surprised no one.    [continued]

Violinist Soovin Kim and pianist Gloria Chien, both well-known to Boston audiences as soloists and chamber musicians, played a thoughtfully conceived program with passion and a passionate attention to detail at Jordan Hall Saturday night with many distinguished NEC faculty in attendance.    [continued]

The Boston Lyric Opera chose to perform the powerful operatic version of the novel, with music by the Danish composer Poul Ruders, on a brilliantly crafted libretto by Paul Bentley, in the precise basketball court that might have been Atwood’s inspiration for the opening scene of her novel.        [continued]

The culmination of Radius Ensemble’s 20th season this past Saturday at Longy seemed to focus on locality, and within that spirit, the important intimate connections within the ensemble and with the composers; all but Beethoven attended.    [continued]

The Boston University Opera Institute-Glimmerglass co-production of Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen at the Emerson-Cutler Majestic Theater impressed this writer as the most consistently satisfying opera he has seen this season.    [continued]

In Sunday’s Celebrity Series concert at Symphony Hall with the Bell-Isserlis-Denk Trio, we witnessed a thrilling, yet intimate conversation in works of Mendelssohn, Ravel, Rachmaninoff and Shostakovitch.    [continued]

Ives’s Third Symphony and Mahler’s Fifth made up Friday’s Symphony Hall bill in what Boston Philharmonic Orchestra founder and conductor Benjamin Zander suggested might be the first time the two pieces have appeared on the same program.    [continued]

To present the essence of Remede de Fortune in a single evening was a real tour de force for Blue Heron’s singers and the musicians of Les Délices at First Church Cambridge on Friday.    [continued]

For the second of its season’s three operas showing us Helen of Troy in various circumstances, Odyssey Opera offered a Boston premiere of Richard Strauss’s Die Aegyptische Helena in a concert performance at Jordan Hall last Friday.    [continued]

more reviews →

David Elliott, the voice of Harvard’s radio station WHRB (95.3 FM) for 58 years, is going to be featured in the station’s Spring Orgy Saturday from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. Precisely during the first four or five hours of this period, David used to oversee the broadcast of live programs from the Metropolitan Opera. After each opera, David treated the listening audience to historic recordings of opera highlights, along with insights on performance. For a while, he ran a contest in which the winner would be the fourth, or sixth, caller—a number he chose at random each week. We also heard his mellifluous, cultured voice on many advertisement and public service announcements.

Besides his many hours as DJ every week, Elliott served as president of the WHRB board of trustees. Aaron Fogelson, a senior at Harvard, is putting on the orgy to honor David, who stepped back from his many roles at WHRB) due to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, familiarly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in October 2018, noted in tributes by both Harvard Magazine  and The Harvard Gazette.

“There is much to be said about David’s 58-year career as an announcer, a mentor for students, and a pillar of Boston’s classical music community,” said Fogelson. “As one listener said, ‘David Elliott was the most important thing to happen to radio since its advent.’ While this may be a bit of hyperbole, it is easy to say he has been the most important thing to happen to Harvard Radio and possibly even, Boston radio generally. David is a great man with an enormous and loyal following that believes he deserves a bevy of public sentiments detailing his legacy.” [continued…]

Commonwealth Lyric Theater’s artistic and stage director Alexander Prokhorov has taken inspiration from Peter Brook’s La Tragédie de Carmen, which in 1983, condensed the opera to its most dramatic, action-filled moments. Prokhorov’s version, while preserving all great hits, like the lively and quintessentially Bizet quintet and the fun-filled children’s chorus (performed by the Lucky Ten Young Talent Studio), comes in at about two hours. [continued…]

Two groups that do things just a little differently team up for a collaboration that’s going to be, well, just a little bit different. Lorelei Ensemble’s artistic director Beth Willer, and Sarah Darling, A Far Cry’s program curator for Friday’s Jordan Hall show, get to relate the scoop.

What drew your two groups to collaborate with each other, and what do you hope comes out of this musical meeting? 

Beth: I have long admired the work of A Far Cry, its collaborative energy, and ability to bring both standard and forward-thinking repertoire to life. Lorelei and A Far Cry seem like a natural pairing. We are both committed to co-creative work, and contemporary programming which can shed new light on existing repertoire, and both groups love to incorporate new works that push the boundaries of classical music. Of course, we look forward to learning from each other in the rehearsal process and premiering an entire program of repertoire that exceeds either group’s independent possibilities.

Sarah: I’ve been obsessed with Lorelei’s sound and energy for years. I remember everything about my first experiences hearing the group — which, incidentally, I can also say about A Far Cry! My ears perk up whenever I hear a group listening deeply and interacting with the degree of passion that classical music needs and frankly, deserves. Individuals didn’t vanish in Lorelei’s group sound; instead, you heard the full expression of what they could do when they were at their best. So I’ve been dreaming about putting these two groups on a single stage to see what happens for a long time.

What was the process of putting this program together? [continued…]

Josh Jacobson, conductor

How do we celebrate such a milestone? According to a recent article in Chorus America’s journal, The Voice, “anniversary observances become most meaningful when they reinforce a chorus’s reason for being, when they inspire self-examination, and when they help to lay a foundation for the future.” For Zamir Chorale of Boston’s 50th Anniversary Concert, we will offer choral music from Jewish traditions, not just by Jewish choirs, but by all choirs across America—high school, college, conservatory, community, professional choruses, even church choirs. Most conductors know very little about our repertoire beyond a dreidel song or two. They are unaware of the significant repertoire that Zamir promotes: secular and sacred; Baroque, classical, romantic, modern, contemporary; classic compositions as well as arrangements of folksongs, popular songs, theater songs; music in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, German, English; a cappella and accompanied.

On Tuesday, June 4, at 7:30 pm, at Sanders, the ensemble will showcase some of its best repertoire and premiere commissioned works from Jeremiah Klarman, Ken Lampl, Jonathan Leshnoff, Charles Osborne, Nick Page, and Benjie Ellen Schiller. [continued…]

How many BMInt readers know anything of the history of one of our sponsors, the Harvard Musical Association? The private charitable organization founded by Harvard College graduates in 1837 maintains a longstanding tradition of commissioning new works, supporting local nonprofit musical organizations, and giving prizes and awards to young performers.

The Association announced one such award last week, a grant of $5,000 to Castle of Our Skins for a concert honoring the 100th anniversary of the women’s suffragist movement and celebrating the power of women’s voices. According to COOS president Ashleigh Gordon, “Fiber art and spoken word poetry showcases will be woven into the concert experience. Black women poets, quilters, musicians, and composers will all be elevated and celebrated.” Click HERE for the details.

The worthies of the Association encourage organizations dedicated not only to the performance and composition of serious music, especially chamber music, but also to the development of steady, attentive audiences appreciative of this kind of musical experience to apply for the annual Harvard Musical Association’s George Henschel Community Awards HERE.

More on all of HMA’s awards and grants can be found HERE.


Ralph Vaughan Williams ca 1900

Behold! the sea itself!
And on its limitless, heaving breast, thy ships:
See! where their white sails, bellying in the wind, speckle the green and blue!

Ralph Vaughan Williams, an aspiring English composer, first became aware of the poetry of Walt Whitman in 1892. Whitman, whose bicentennial is being celebrated across America in 2019, became a touchstone for Williams, who carried a pocket volume of Leaves of Grass through the trenches of World War I. Whitman beautiful verses became a touchstone for Vaughan Williams, who helped usher in a new era of British choral music after a century of compositions dominated by German influence. Each man was a powerful disruptor, a breath of fresh air for their respective forms of poetry and choral composition. In short, few pairs of artists are better suited to one another. Vaughan Williams created two choral works from Leaves of Grass, both premiered at the Leeds Festival in 1910: “Toward the Unknown Region and A Sea Symphony.”

Humanist and metaphysical, the sections of Whitman that make up A Sea Symphony describe travel across the ocean as a metaphor for the soul’s journey into the infinite. To capture the majesty of the poetry and “the sea itself,” Vaughan Williams created a massive work, ringing with the mighty sounds of a symphonic chorus and orchestra. Few truly choral symphonies had been attempted before. The seventy-minute, four-movement piece begins with a fast-paced, booming introduction that immediately situates the audience in the power of the waves. It continues at a variety of tempos and dynamics, incorporating semi-choruses and two soloists — a baritone and a soprano — as it plunges into themes of life, death, and shared humanity. [continued…]

The scene could have transpired predictably—an academic procession with the requisite stoles and speeches from worthies—but Friday’s ceremony, inaugurating the first female president of New England Conservatory, unfolded unconventionally. Wisdom, and optimism as well as self-deprecatory humor won the day for Music.

We heard no stodgy (if wonderful) Academic Festival Overture or Pomp and Circumstance. Instead the interleaved great performances of NEC faculty, students, and alumns gave evidence of the success of this most essential institution. Processional trombone fanfares (undergraduate quartet) from the balcony gave way after Board Chairman Kennett Burnes’s welcome, to three most excellent movements from Handel’s Water Music as interpreted by the subtle but brilliant NEC Faculty Brass Quintet, whose members all play in the BSO.

Then, Mark Volpe greeted us with a very funny and self-deprecatory account of how flunking Music History was a prerequisite for his office as BSO CEO. He told us about an exam in which he was asked to identify examples of 20 Phrygi’n modes. He got none.

NEC stepped up production values for this event, giving us theatrical lighting and even teleprompters. But Denyce Graves (NEC 1988) didn’t need an applied spotlight; she radiated her own. Her two songs with faculty pianist Cameron Stowe wowed us with jaw dropping and heart-rending theatricality and engagement. Her account of Michael Tilson Thomas’s Grace bestowed that quality on us like manna. [continued…]

Boston Philharmonic’s encampment at Symphony Hall on April 26th at 8:00 will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ensemble with an unusual pairing: Ives’s Third with Mahler’s Fifth.

Lying on a table, when Mahler visited a New York publisher early in 1911, was an unpublished score of a symphony by a composer he had never heard of — Charles Ives. After a quick perusal he slipped it into his briefcase with the intention of studying it on his way back to Europe and performing it the following season. However, Mahler did not return to his post as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. What Mahler must have recognized in that brief encounter with the younger American composer’s Third Symphony was a kindred spirit. He saw a composer who used the humble elements of popular culture — hymn tunes, folk songs — in the hallowed context of the European symphonic form, thereby giving renewed energy to both. An innocent Yankee sensibility resonated with his own penchant for using old Austrian folk songs and dances. [continued…]

more news & features →