Opening Night for the Boston Symphony’s new season found Andris Nelsons leading a congeries of crowd-pleasing repertoire, a premiere, and a more-lavish-than-usual assortment of soloists, and choral participation. [continued]
Leo Abbott presided as the Holy Cross Cathedral’s Hook & Hastings Organ returned to active life after two years of silence. [continued]
Peter Freisinger recruited an international cast of DMAs, graduate students, and experienced professionals from all over the world for his 12th-annual chamber orchestra fest at Old South Church. Sunday’s bill of fare came from an Italian and two Poles. [continued]
The Maverick Concerts series extended its season Sunday afternoon in a special free concert, pianist Pedja Muzijevic’s “Bach Dialogues,” [continued]
The Jamaica Plain Saxophone Quartet took the stage at MIT’s Killian Hall last Friday, launching the its AfterDark series with contemporary classical pieces tied to Boston. [continued]
A Far Cry’s 13th season opener “…explored the conflict and connection between the virtuous and the virtuosic” at Jordan Hall on Friday. If slightly forced as an argument, in action, the concept proved worthy of reflection through a far-ranging group of works. [continued]
Concluding its two-year cycle of the complete Mendelssohn String Quartets in Calderwood Hall, the foursome ebulliently displayed not only the virtuosity of its individual players but also ensemble playing of rare sensitivity. The concert will repeat on Sunday at 1:30 pm. [continued]
The Semiosis Quartet took its “American Century” program of works by female composers to the Leslie Lindsey Chapel of Emmanuel Church on Friday evening after having offered it in Cambridge the night before. [continued]
The 2019 Maverick season ended with its first non-string-quartet Sunday concert. Trio Solisti rewarded our wait. [continued]
Bernard Haitink began the farewell tour of his 65-year career on Friday with the Wiener Philharmoniker, and pianist Emmanuel Ax at the closing concert of the 99th Salzburger Festspiele. Trachten- and Dirndl-clad music lovers filled the Großes Festspielhaus. [continued]
Boston’s Semiosis Quartet challenged themselves and their audience with “An American Century” Thursday evening at New School of Music in Cambridge. [continued]
I wouldn’t dare to evaluate the Pacifica Quartet’s performance of Elliot Carter’s String Quartet No. 2 at the Maverick on Sunday, but the foursome stimulated my cogitations on Mendelssohn and thrilled me in a Razumovsky. [continued]
Mercury Orchestra’s Brahmsfest at Jordan Hall Saturday allowed Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts concerto competition winner Zhiye Lin to show off his chops in the first concerto. Channing Yu also led a fine traversal of the second symphony. [continued]
A far-flung correspondent reports from the Brandenbug Gate. [continued]
Yesterday Adam Tendler’s sometimes frustrating piano recital preceded a satisfying chamber traversal of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. [continued]
The Boston Ballet closed the 2019 Summer Season at Jacob’s Pillow this weekend with riveting performances of works by Leonid Yakobson, four selections from William Forsythe and Jorma Elo’s dance paired with live renditions of Bach’s first and second cello suites [continued]
Conductor Yu-An Chang made an auspicious BSO debut at the Shed Friday with works by two teenage composers, Mendelssohn and Schubert, framing Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major with Conrad Tao. [continued]
Ji Yong Kim closed the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts summer music series Thursday night at NEC with powerfully projected Beethoven and Schumann. [continued]
The unshowy Peter Fang has turned into a pianist poet, as his serious, lovely ways with Bach and Brahms demonstrated Wednesday in a Chinese Performing Arts Foundation recital at NEC. [continued]
Violinist Angelo Ziang Yu and pianist Feng Niu produced a nuanced and varied recital at Monday’s Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts summer concert series at Burnes Hall [continued]
Burnes Hall resounded with muscle and charm Tuesday night as the young pianist gave the 13th installment in the 15-concert Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts summer series. [continued]
Cerise Lim Jacobs’s ambitious production company, White Snake Projects, is producing a brand new NEA-supported opera this weekend at Emerson Paramount Theater. (Tickets HERE). A song cycle created by eleven composers through community engagement and a talkback with the creators will frame the show. As producer and librettist, Singapore-born Jacobs is taking on an unusually topical subject for opera: current immigration policies in America. For I Am a Dreamer Who No Longer Dreams, which premieres on September 20-22, Jacobs teams up with Mexican-born, New York-based composer Jorge Sosa to explore immigration, dislocation, and transformation in America.
Dreamer features a cast mirroring the ethnicities of the characters and bringing their own personal varieties of perspectives on the immigrant experience. The production team is “intentionally diverse” and mostly female, reflecting the ambition of Jacobs and White Snake Projects to integrate original opera with social activism. In the story, Rosa, an undocumented Mexican immigrant and a “dreamer” develops a relationship with her court-appointed attorney Singa, an ethnically Chinese immigrant from Indonesia, while waiting in jail before being deported.
A score of years ago, a small number of dedicated volunteers joined forces with me to create a series chamber music concerts and do educational outreach in Concord. It all began, when newly tenured as a violinist in the BSO, I was relaxing over a dinner with perhaps an abundance of wine, when my then neighbor cellist Andrés Díaz and I began to muse about bringing some of our colleagues to Concord.
No one imagined what the Concord Chamber Music Society would become. Since 2000, some of the world’s most celebrated artists, including Gil Shaham, Lynn Harrell, Peter Serkin, David Finckel and Wu Han, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, the Borromeo Quartet, have played with us and for us; several will return for this celebratory season. And the wonderful musicologist Steven Ledbetter will once again be preparing us with very informative lectures.
I hope that many BMInt readers and their friends will join us. Specifics follow:
The 20th-anniversary season opened last Sunday with The Nightingale’s Sonata, a special multimedia event at the Concord Free Public Library. Tom Wolf read from his new book before, pianist Vytas Baksys and I offered Franck’s passionate Violin Sonata. A book signing and reception followed.
Acclaimed pianist Marc-Ande Hamélin, violinist Glenn Dicterow, former concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic; viola soloist, recitalist and chamber musician Karen Dreyfus; cellist Andrés Díaz, winner of the prestigious Naumburg International Competition and Avery Fisher Career Grant; and I will play works by Kodály, Paul Chihara and Dvořák on September 29th for the opener.
Since 1984, when Seiji Ozawa invited Malcolm Lowe to become the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 10th concertmaster, his glorious, impeccable musicality has inspired audiences and fellow players. Today, the orchestra announced the end of Lowe’s 35-year tenure in one of the most important positions in the classical firmament.
The second-longest-serving concertmaster in the orchestra’s 138-year history (after Richard Burgin, whose 42-year tenure started in 1920), Lowe succeeded the esteemed Joseph Silverstein, who served from 1962 to 1984.
“From the bottom of my heart, I thank my orchestra colleagues and Andris Nelsons for their dedication and their ability to delve deeply into the music and ask the unanswerable questions—to find the voice that lifts music from the ordinary to an extraordinary living poetry. I will cherish forever the shared moments of everyday work, moments striving in our artistic search, practicing, trying to perfect, to contribute, to give meaning to our efforts, the music, our team, and our orchestra. I am also forever grateful to our generous audiences and donors for their incredible passion and support year after year, concert after concert—their enthusiasm never wanes.”
FLE: Do you have any recollection of your audition? Burton Fine, then senior principal in the BSO strings, recently told me about how he set up the audition in which you spectacularly triumphed. He recalled that there had been absolutely no doubt that you were the winner. You excelled beyond everyone else who auditioned, and you had shown leadership qualities as well as beauty of tone and refined musicality. He was so pleased to be involved. Were you as brilliant all that?
A reliable denizen of the second tier of composers, Camille Saint-Saëns lacked, according to one wag, but one quality: inexperience. Musical facility and reliability aside, his wideranging intellect and long life elevated him to cult status in his day, though rarely without controversy. He sided with Dreyfus during that infamous affair and was driven from the Schola Cantorum by D’Indy for his (incorrectly) supposed Jewishness. The Nazis banned his music.
His Carnival of the Animals, Second Piano Concerto, Organ Symphony, Danse macabre, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Requiem, Christmas Oratorio, ballet Javotte, Piano Quartet, and Septet retain places in the standard repertoire, or ought to. This writer thinks highly of his chamber music for harmonium and piano. Among his 13 operas, can Samson et Dalila be the only hit?
Gil Rose, the resourceful leader of BMOP and Odyssey Opera, believes otherwise. Having discovered 51 minutes excised from the debut performance in Paris, on September 21st Rose will lead in concert form what he believes to be the US premiere of the uncut Henry VIII (1883) at Jordan Hall. Leon Botstein of Bard and the American Symphony Orchestra also set great store by this opera and revived it in concert form seven years ago, taking some judicious cuts.
The plot unfolds as Henry attempts to divorce Catherine of Aragon for the favors of Anne Boleyn. Eager for verisimilitude, Saint-Saëns researched manuscripts of Tudor music and incorporated English, Scottish, and Irish folk melodies as well as a William Byrd air collected in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (published only six years later) into Henry VIII. At the same time he embraced French grand opera expectations.
A principal dancer in the Boston Ballet, an honored Candidate for Important Intangible Cultural Property No. 23, a boundary-crossing cellist, and a singer whose repertoire draws from ancient shaman ritual — all walk up to the barre….
No, this is not a spin-off of that classic joke, but an invitation to attend what will surely be one of the most enthralling, exuberant and flat-out gorgeous concert experiences of 2019, when the Korean Cultural Society of Boston presents “Festival of Dance and Gugak” at Jordan Hall on Sunday, September 29th at 3:00 PM. Details HERE.
Gugak, Korean traditional music is one of the great classical musics of the world (see Michael Church’s inspirational volume “The Other Classical Musics: Fifteen Great Traditions” for some other examples). If you listen far enough back to any classical music, you will find two purposes for the extraordinary sound worlds we humans create: a desire to connect with the divine, and a desire to connect with one another. This is true of ‘my’ classical music, and it is also certainly true of the great repertoire of gugak.
Singer, voice teacher, and impresario Richard Conrad died peacefully at home in Eliot, Maine on August 26th after a long illness. His brother Howard, sister-in-law Susan, and longtime friend and colleague Ellen Chickering were at his side. The dynamic performer, insightful voice teacher, and brilliant operatic interpreter ranged from Monteverdi to Brel, touching countless lives with his singing gifts and distinctive ability to teach his craft to others.
Eldest son of Lester and Mildred, Conrad grew up in Larchmont, NY. He graduated from New York State University and Boston University where he studied commercial and fine arts. Conrad began his vocal studies in Boston as a baritone under Harry Euler Treiber. Here he studied Lieder and German operatic repertoire with famed conductor and composer, Felix Wolfes, who is noted for his piano-vocal scores of operas by Strauss and Pfitzner, as well as his achievements at the Metropolitan Opera and teaching at New England Conservatory. Conrad pursued additional repertoire studies with art song champions, Aksel Schiøtz and Pierre Bernac.
During these early studies, Conrad developed exceptional skill in managing the “head” register, and was encouraged to emulate baritones of the 18th and the early 19th centuries, many of whom sang as tenors. As a result, in 1961 he debuted as a tenor in Boston in the American premiere of Mozart’s La finta semplice, following which came his recital debut in Washington, DC.
Twenty-six years ago, Leo Abbott, the organist of Boston’s Cathedral of the Holy Cross, gave a benefit recital to raise money for badly needed repairs to the cathedral’s legendary 1875 Hook organ. The organ was big — some claim it to have been the largest American-made organ in the country when it was built — and the maintenance needs were big as well. With few other sources of funding in sight, Abbott made his benefit recital an annual tradition.
This fall, Abbott, now Organist Emeritus, will give the 26th annual benefit recital on Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 3 p.m.. This one, however, will be different in one important respect: not only is the organ in better shape, buts its acoustical environment has been restored to a state very near that for which the organ was voiced.
The pipe organ benefits enormously from the resonance of the room it occupies. Thus the recent restoration of the cathedral interior, which included removing carpeting in favor of a light-grey marble floor, is as meaningful to the sound of the organ as it is to the architecture.
Abbott’s unbroken string of 26 annual recitals is remarkable enough, but it’s not all he has done to overcome decades of deferred maintenance and bring back to instrument to good playing condition. He assembled a dedicated band of volunteers and carefully supervised them as they helped with various tasks. He sought and found other sources of funding. And he tirelessly drew attention to the organ’s unique character.
Postponed to Thursday
The Boston Landmarks Orchestra will take inspiration from Terpsichore during its annual Dance Night next Wednesday on the Esplanade. Programs featuring dance groups provide an opportunity to showcase the depth of talent that runs through Boston’s diverse cultural communities. In recent seasons, dance collaborations have represented traditions from West Africa, Armenia, Colombia, Cuba, Ireland, Korea, Puerto Rico, Syria, and Venezuela.
Johannes Brahms was still a teenager in Hamburg when he met the exiled Hungarian violinist Ede Reményi. Reményi had been active in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, and came to Hamburg in 1851 to evade capture by the Habsburg military authorities. He soon fled to the United States, returning to Hamburg in 1853. There, he invited Brahms to serve as his piano accompanist on a European tour. It was Brahms’s first extended trip outside of his native city. While touring in Weimar, Brahms played for the most famous of all Hungarian musicians, Franz Liszt. Liszt then returned the favor, reading Brahms’ Scherzo Op. 4 at sight. In Hanover, Brahms met Joseph Joachim, who arranged for Brahms to pay a visit to Robert and Clara Schumann, a visit that changed the course of his career and his life.