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]

On Sunday afternoon, April 7, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and its conductor Gil Rose gave the last concert of its 2018-19 season, a celebration of the 80th birthday of John Harbison with featured soloists, soprano Dawn Upshaw and violist Marcus Thompson. Ed. Note: We have another review of this concert HERE.    [continued]

American music composed and performed in in these parts from the 17th century into the early 19th resounded Friday night at the First Church in Cambridge. Six well-matched voices led by mezzo Anne Azéma and three instrumentalists participated.      [continued]

In a display of singular flair and expertise, concertmaster Robert Mealy and harpsichordist Avi Stein led the BEMF orchestra of period instruments, soprano Amanda Forsythe and baritone Jesse Blumberg in a stunning performance of Handel’s Apollo e Dafne at the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational Saturday.    [continued]

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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Lying on a table, when Mahler visited a New York publisher early in 1911, was an unpublished score of a symphony by a composer he had never heard of — Charles Ives.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…]

In “Tyger Circus,” mezzo-soprano Krista River, baritone Keith Phares and pianist Linda Osborn will offer 18 musical settings of William Blake’s eponymous poem. WordSong, Boston’s singular interactive concert organization, will be marking its 10th anniversary at First Church Boston on Friday, April 26th at 8pm.

We co-founding composers [Howard Frazin and Tom Schnauber] have spent the last 10 years exploring the idea that all listeners have an intuitive musical understanding. The unique concert format presents a collection of new settings of the same poem, usually something well-known to the general public, and performs each piece in tandem with a conversation that has the audience telling musicians and composers what they hear. In the past decade, what audiences heard from us and what we heard from audiences has been the inspiration for more than 70 concerts featuring 12 different programs presented in Boston and throughout New England, as well as in New York, Washington, Minneapolis, and as far away as Vancouver and Bulgaria.

Now we present 18 musical interpretations of the same poem. Is this really a good idea? Well is it a good idea for a trapeze artist to walk a tightrope without a net? It’s certainly not safe, but it’s almost always memorable one way or another. [continued…]

The friends and colleagues of the late composer, conductor, educator and ALEA III founder (1979) will memorialize him with performances of his works, a slide show, displays of photos, music scores and other memorabilia. Theodore Antoniou embodied a selfless commitment to promoting the future of music. He contributed in extraordinary and unprecedented ways to the training of thousands of composers and performers worldwide. Gifted, charismatic and always kind, he touched and changed the lives of everyone who had the good fortune to meet and work with him.

On Saturday at 1:00 at  Annunciation Cathedral, 514 Parker Street, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios will preside over the memorial service. Yehudi Wyner, composer, pianist, professor emeritus Brandeis University; Samuel Headrick, composer, associate professor, Boston University; Apostolos Paraskevas, composer, guitarist, professor, Berklee College of Music will offer eulogies. Then some of Antoniou’s signature works will be heard: Aria from the 1986 film “The Girl from Mani,The Forgotten, suite for guitar (excerpts); Octet for flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon and string quartet.

The following will be performing: Maria La Vita, soprano, Julie Scolnik, flute; Peggy Pearson, oboe; Diane Heffner, clarinet; Janet Underhill, bassoon; John McDonald, piano; Apostolos Paraskevas, guitar; Aija Reke, violin; Jessica Amidon, violin; Scott Woolweaver, viola; Karen Kaderavek, violoncello; Tiffany Chang, conductor. Reception to follow.

ATHENS – Well-known composer and conductor Theodore Antoniou passed away on December 26th  after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 84. [continued…]

Bach is the greatest, even in China

Across the ages, the genius of Bach and the authentic mournfulness of the African American spiritual can speak together to the agony and triumph of Jesus. On Sunday, April 14th at 3:00 PM, an unusual free Palm Sunday Meditation-Concert at St. Mary’s Church in Charlestown will interleave deeply affecting songs such as “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” with Bach-Busoni piano meditations on texts such as “Ich ruf zu Dir” (I call to you, Lord Jesus Christ,… lead me from despair.) Bach’s Passion music will also figure at the meditative center of this amalgam. Peter Sykes will take the helm of the restored  1892 Woodberry and Harris tracker organ and Daniel Sauceda will direct soprano, organ and Charlestown Community chorus in the rousing closer, “Regina Coeli” from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana.

Born in Chicago, soprano Sirgourney Cook toured internationally with singer-actress Jennifer Hudson for three years. Recently, she was featured as a soloist in Duke Ellington’s “Concerts of Sacred Music.” She continues to use music as an avenue to inspire, educate and advocate for underprivileged youth. Last year she dedicated her songs to the memory of her late teacher Robert Honeysucker, once the most profoundly moving spiritual singer hereabouts. This year she looks forward to a collaboration with the pianist Claudius Tanski.

A student of Alfred Brendel, Tanksi withdrew from the concert stage to embark on a spiritual quest at St. Peters Monastery in Salzburg. His appearance here coincides with his seminar on religious encodings in the Liszt Sonata to be delivered at the New England Conservatory on April 19th at 10:00 AM at Williams Hall. New England Conservatory’s piano department invites the public to join NEC students in exploring the challenges and complexities that pianists face in the world today, through presentations and masterclasses by guest artists and NEC faculty. [continued…]

What do Emmanuel Music, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory, and UMass, Amherst have in common? Well, as it turns out, the music of Bach.  So say a couple of participants in the UMass Amherst Bach Festival and Symposium, which begins on April 13th.

In March 2014, Amanda Stenroos, a UMass graduate student in the violin studio of Elizabeth Chang, came to a lesson wearing a t-shirt from the Bach Festival at Baldwin Wallace Conservatory. When she explained to Chang how much the venerable tradition of that festival, the oldest collegiate Bach festival in the nation, meant to her, it piqued Chang’s interest. Could this be a model for an event at UMass? A series of conversations ensued, first with Chang’s colleagues William Hite and Chris Krueger, who have devoted much of their careers to Bach’s music–both have significant and deep ties with Emmanuel Music’s renowned Sunday morning Bach cantata series as well as with Emmanuel’s founder Craig Smith. Later, Tony Thornton, director of choral studies at UMass, and musicology faculty members Ernest May and Erinn Knyt joined the conversation, and the 2015 UMass Bach Festival and Symposium was conceived. The team decided that the biennial event would be a music festival taking place concurrently with a scholarly symposium. This format, which is novel in the collegiate landscape, proved to be very successful. It included a symposium of scholars of international reputation (Richard Taruskin and Christoph Wolff among them) and a remarkable performance of the St. John Passion conducted by Julian Wachner featuring students, faculty, alumni, and guest artists in front of a sold-out audience. [continued…]

The late Mary Ruth Ray

First among first violinists of the Lydian String Quartet, Wilma Smith has come from halfway around the world to join with her former colleagues and successors. Born in Suva, Fiji and raised in Auckland, New Zealand, the former concertmaster of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra will play her 1761 Guadagnini violin here for one performance only, Sunday, March 31, at 3 p.m. in an ad hoc Lydian Octet paying tribute to the memory of Mary Ruth Ray, the beloved Brandeis faculty member and founding violist of the Lydian String Quartet who died in 2013. [Click HERE for images of the ensemble through the years]. All proceeds from the Slosberg Music Center event will benefit the Mary Ruth Ray Scholarship Fund, which supports Brandeis undergraduate instrumentalists. Adults: $20; Seniors & Brandeis Community: $15; Students: $5, available in advance at brandeis.edu/tickets or (781) 736-3400; or at the door starting one hour prior to the performance.

The concert will open with Bach’s “Fugue” from Sonata No. 3 for Solo Violin, BWV 1005, arranged for nine violas by Mark Berger, featuring guest artists and former students of Ray. Described by music critic Conrad Wilson as “one of the miracles of nineteenth-century music,” Mendelssohn’s beloved masterpiece, String Octet, reunites current Lydian String Quartet members Andrea Segar (violin), Judith Eissenberg (violin), Mark Berger (viola) and Joshua Gordon (cello) with past members Wilma Smith (violin), Daniel Stepner (violin)and Rhonda Rider (cello), plus special guest violist Gillian Ansell of New Zealand. [continued…]

Telling of his excitement at the prospects of leading 15 concerts and participating in the planning for the entirety of the 139th season [complete listing  HERE], BSO Music Director Andris Nelsons sums up his retrospective and forward-looking fifth term thus:

“The list of composers, soloists, and guest conductors for 2019–20 is so impressive and extensive that I could never acknowledge them all adequately in this short message. We are very happy with the balance we have achieved between presenting many artists in their first appearances with the BSO and honoring some of our most beloved relationships with return appearances.

“An absolute dream come true is the chance to bring my two orchestras together for joint performances as part of the Boston Symphony/Gewandhausorchester Leipzig Alliance. In addition to sharing a deep musical heritage and co-commissioning several new works that speak to the future of our field, next season both orchestras are collaborating on stage for three performances, representing an absolutely unique event in the classical music world.

“I could not be prouder of my beautiful BSO and the talented engineering team who have received four Grammys in the last four years since the start of our Shostakovich cycle on the Deutsche Grammophon label. We’re thrilled to continue that cycle in the coming season with Symphonies Nos. 2 and 12. For another season highlight, we are especially fortunate to have Jonas Kaufmann with us again, and Emily Magee in her BSO debut, for concert performances of Act III from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.” [continued…]

Detail of Dido (Nathaniel Dace-Holland)

Handel and Haydn artistic director Harry Christophers will bring Henry Purcell’s deeply moving Dido and Aeneas to Jordan Hall on Friday March 29th at 7:30pm and Sunday March 31st at 3pm, and to the Metropolitan Museum of New York’s Temple of Dendur on Saturday March 30th.

Thanks a $45,000 NEA grant, H+H could expand this concert beyond its typical production values, allowing them to bring in Aidan Lang as director of the staging enhancements, to secure a cast of unsurpassed talent, and to bring the event to the Metropolitan Museum. “We are deeply appreciative of the turbocharge that the NEA grant gave to our production,” said H+H president and CEO David Snead.

Purcell’s only true opera and one of the earliest-known English ones, Dido and Aeneas recounts the love of the Queen of Carthage for the Trojan hero and her despair when he abandons her. Lang, who currently is general director of the Seattle Opera and future leader of the Welsh National Opera, will direct “concert staging.” Lang and Christophers have worked together over many years, with Christophers particularly recalling “an amazing Monteverdi Ulisse in the Teatro San Carlos in Lisbon, Handel’s Hercules in Buxton and numerous ‘enhanced concert experiences’ of Handel oratorio for the Covent Garden Festival in London.”

Award-winning mezzo-soprano Susan Bickley and acclaimed baritone David McFerrin will take the title roles. Gramophone Award-winning bass-baritone Matthew Brook will appear as the Sorceress/Sailor, countertenor Reginald Mobley as the Spirit, soprano Sarah Yanovitch as Belinda, soprano Sonja DuToit Tengblad as the Second Woman, soprano Margot Rood as the First Witch, and soprano Sarah Brailey as the Second Witch. [continued…]

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