Thanksgiving Thursday saw the BSO unlock its second “American Promise” stream, in which Thomas Wilkins conducted Harlem Renaissance-centered works by Jessie Montgomery, William Grant Still, Duke Ellington, and chamber music by Osvaldo Golijov.    [continued]

With solo pieces for oboe, violin, and piano in compressed time-space, Radius recently livestreamed the out-of-the-ordinary by giving ear to a lesser known contemporary composer cluster.    [continued]

Guerrilla Opera has embraced online programming this season with a series of “Covid experiments.” As the final event of the Boston New Music Festival, “Dreamwalker, a month-long audio-visual production, combines a group of these experiments in a veritable feast of drama, film, and music.    [continued]

Jamaica Plain Chambermusic welcomed a small but mighty audience to the Church of the Advent on the flat of Beacon Hill on an autumnal Friday night for a currently rare occurrence: in-person chamber music    [continued]

Boston Camerata brings us a virtual confection via Vimeo: Purcell’s Dido and Æneas: An Opera for Distanced Lovers as part of its #SheToo season focused on women in opera. The show, which opened Friday, runs online through November 29th HERE.    [continued]

Thanks to excellent filmography and sound quality, the Terezin Music Foundation’s annual gala once again shared an important message in the context of a concert which melded works written by Holocaust victim-composers with pieces written before and after. A call went out for Elijah the Prophet and “We Shall Overcome” came as a reply.    [continued]

Fourteen Emmanuel Music players under Ryan Turner transmitted Bernard Labadie’s arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations on October 24th. The welcome online feast will remain available on YouTube.    [continued]

Violinist Robyn Bollinger and cellist Rafael Popper-Keizer broadcast “Alone Together: Celebrating Musical Community in Isolation” on October 19th from A Far Cry’s Jamaica Plain, covering a range of genres in nine compositions including the Four Duettos of J. S. Bach,    [continued]

Promenade Opera Project’s video-chat Fidelio is the kind of event I hope we will all look back on in a year with indulgent smiles, remembering the effort needed to make any kind of performance exist in these times.    [continued]

Imagine moving through a video-game virtual world of animated cityscapes and fantasy lands, populated by animated characters who dance and sing with beautiful human voices. Alice In the Pandemic embraces the realness of virtuality as performative vehicle for a penetratingly timely libretto. The run ends on Tuesday. Click HERE for tickets.      [continued]

A Far Cry rose above the calamitous times Saturday night with creativity, grace and a gift for conviviality, delivering a riveting and deeply satisfying soirée concertante prerecorded in Pickman Hall. “Dawn Breaks” is available for purchase HERE.

   [continued]

“BCMS@Home” leaves me in a conundrum. The ensemble’s recently produced 73-minute video and hour of archival audio from 2017 and 2019, albeit familiar and comforting, join a crowded marketplace of recordings.    [continued]

more reviews →

Last December, Renaissance Men’s Christmas gala went off without a hitch: stellar performance, cooperative audience, large consumption of homemade eggnog. More important, great raw tracks had been captured. The New England-based professional choral ensemble had hired producer Jeffrey Means (assistant professor of composition at Berklee) to record the concert for a second album, A Very RenMen Christmas LIVE!, after the success of their first, RenMen Laments (Navona Records / Naxos Direct).

Unfortunately, in February Means and RenMen discovered a technical problem with a key piece, Saunder Choi’s “Angels We Have Heard on High.” The group planned to rerecord it but Covid happened. St. Mary’s Episcopal in Newton, the venue, closed their doors. Other concert locations canceled their seasons, studios likewise suspended work, and the world embraced videoconferencing. Meanwhile, the deadline to deliver fully mastered tracks to the album producer loomed, weeks away, with postproduction work half that.

RenMen scrambled. Anthony Burkes Garza, bass and general manager: “With so many normal solutions off the table, we discussed several emerging options, such as ‘virtual choir’ recordings or multitracking with 3-4 singers performing all the parts. We even considered going forward without that track.” But “Angels” both seemed critical for the album and too complex for virtual recording solutions. “I truly began to lose hope. If we couldn’t rerecord Choi’s piece, our second album would miss its scheduled release date of November 2020, timed for Christmas sales,” pointed out Peter Schilling, baritone and business manager. “We would ultimately have to push the release to November 2021, with nothing to show for 2020.” [continued…]

Quick, can you name two composers born in Somerville, Mass? Pat yourself on the back if, in addition to Alan Hovhaness, you identified Henry Hadley (1871-1937), one of that extraordinary generation of American composers born in the 1870s (e.g. Converse, D. G. Mason, Ives, Ruggles, Carpenter, Coleridge-Taylor, Mabel Daniels, Arthur Farwell, Rubin Goldmark, E. B. Hill, Arthur Nevin, Ernest Schelling, Louis Coerne, W. C. Handy, Arne Oldberg, and the proverbial Manny Moore). And, as with virtually all of these, you probably have never heard of Hadley. To set these matters aright, at least in Hadley’s case, historian, lawyer and musicologist Daniel Breen presented a lecture (via Zoom, naturally) under the ægis of the Boston Athenæum on Tuesday.

Plainly an enthusiast for his subject, Breen recounted that Hadley came from a musical family of some local renown, being the son and grandson of music directors of the Somerville school system. By way of a tiny acknowledgment, a plaque commemorates composer Hadley in Somerville’s Symphony Park. Would that there had been even that in some of the other locations in which he made his mark, which was a large one in his lifetime, though obviously not an indelible one. Hadley began music studies at home, but eventually turned to George Chadwick (the two formed a friendship that lasted until Chadwick’s death in 1931, and the two were even neighbors in West Chop on Martha’s Vineyard in the summers). After his Chadwick period, Hadley hied himself to Eusebius Mandyczewski’s studio in Vienna, where he could also soak up the musical culture. On a second trip to Europe a few years later, he sought out Ludwig Thuille, as a teacher, probably on the recommendation of Richard Strauss, whom he also met on that journey. [continued…]

David Elliott died last night after a two-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I saw him a few hours before he died, and can say that his end came peacefully and without pain.

David was enormously important to WHRB, to the Boston classical music scene, and to many of us personally.  His leadership, his dedication, his enthusiasm, and his tireless insistence on excellence inspired generations of students and listeners alike. 

I am deeply saddened by this loss, and with the Elliott family will be coordinating with on David’s wishes for his remembrance.  Our hearts and sympathies go out to all who knew and admired David.                          James C.S. Liu

Bettina A. Norton’s article from 2017 celebrates David’s life admirably. [continued…]

Detail of Dido (Nathaniel Dace)

Way before any intimations of Covid 19 floated in the air, I had already planned the Boston 2020-2021 season, with a focus on Woman, hashtaged #SheToo. Dido and Aeneas, Henry Purcell’s only opera, indeed figured in this planned cycle of three productions, for several compelling reasons. For starters, presenting a superb early opera, dedicated to the fate of an abandoned woman, powerfully embodied the season’s theme. 

But by reviving this chamber piece [begins online November 14th HERE], we were also marking an important in-house anniversary: the first period instrument Dido in modern times. Joel Cohen directed the 1979 concert production, released on Harmonia Mundi LP ca 1980. The recording caused a big stir, catapulting Camerata onto the international scene, and heavily influencing later interpretations. 

I was also keen to continue our ongoing explorations of stagecraft. Music theater now forms a regular part of Camerata’s mission. Finally, we were ready to field a very strong cast of Camerata long time regulars, new invitees, and a high-achieving student ensemble from my ‘home’ teaching institution, the Longy School of Music of Bard College. 

Then the pandemic hit. [continued…]

Reginald Mobley elucidates his new role.

H+H’s new programming consultant Reginald Mobley will guide members of the Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra and Chorus through works by American female composers in the online Every Voice concert for peace and justice. A tribute to female composers including queer women and women of color features the Venite, laetantes, Op. 20 no. 12, by Isabella Leonarda, and works by Mari Esabel Valverde’s Prelude for Piano in A-flat Major and  Zanaida Stewart Robles’s Kuumba. Florence Price and Amy Beach works will also appear on the bill. Readings will precede each section. “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” closes the prerecorded show. Handel and Haydn alto Emily Marvosh will then offer a live Q&A. Tickets for the November 8th 3pm event are HERE.

FLE: Since Handel and Haydn’s bicentennial, in 2015. you have been working as curator and conductor, director, whatever. Last April the organization created the role of programming consultant for you and expects you to reach out, both among underserved communities and unjustly ignored repertoires. So how much of each of those is important to your role? [continued…]

Pixelated flautist

In late February, as most Americans remained blissfully unaware of the looming change that coronavirus would bring to their lives, Su Lian Tan, a flautist and professor of composition at Vermont’s Middlebury College, travelled down to Tufts University to sit in on a composition seminar taught by composer and pianist John McDonald, on Tan’s just-completed Piccolo Concerto. Italian piccoloist Nicola Mazzanti had commissioned the piece and was flying in that day from Europe to play the concerto for the first time during McDonald’s class.

Tan naturally felt excited. Mazzanti texted Tan as he landed in Logan airport. He was on the ground. So far, so good. Tan arrived at Tufts, score and piccolo in hand in case she needed to clarify anything. McDonald worked through some passages of the accompaniment with the composer as the students filtered in. As the start time arrived, all still waited patiently for Mazzanti’s arrival.

Twenty increasingly worrisome minutes passed. Tan, understandably concerned, honored her commitment to McDonald and his students. In Mazzanti’s absence, she played through the concerto herself. [continued…]

more news & features →