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Two Fortepianos Sidle Up to a Steinway

Lec-Dem HIPster David Hyun-Su Kim, known to some of us from previous Aston Magna outings, guest curated the presenter’s “Side by Side by Side” at the Allen Center in West Newton last night. Repeats Saturday night in Great Barrington. [continued]
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A Mistress of Exhilaration

Yuja Wang set an overflowing Ozawa Hall ablaze. At the end of Wednesday’s concert one was left wondering if the venue had ever before experienced a storm of such intensity. [continued]
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Newport Adores Isidore String Quartet

On Wednesday at the Breakers, the Isidore String Quartet approached “the established as if it were brand new, and the new as if it were firmly established.” [continued]
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Two Pianos are Better than One

At Newport’s Castle Hill Inn with stunning ocean views, duo-pianists Drew Petersen and Llewellyn Sánchez-Werner impressed with bravura and panache, earing three standing ovation on Tuesday. [continued]
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Bastille Day at the Maverick

With pianist Blair McMillen, WindSync delivered a rich offering of both commonplace and avant-garde music from France and Vietnam to the Maverick last weekend. [continued]
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Hadelich Dazzles, Snider Captivates

A glorious Sunday afternoon greeted a substantial Tanglewood crowd for a novel, interesting, and varied concert including the BSO debut of composer Sarah Kirkland. The New York Philharmonic had commissioned … [continued] [continued]
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Boston Ballet and BSO’s Second Coming

Friday’s Tanglewood main event enchanted the audience with Balanchine’s Apollo, choreographed to Stravinsky’s Apollon musagète, then the shed shook with the much-loved Scheherazade [continued]
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Meyers and Levinson Sparkle

Newport Breakers Mansion resonated Sunday evening with the sparkle and romance emanating from the violin of Anne Akiko Meyers with Max Levinson, piano. [continued]
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Trio and Accordionist Give Two World Premieres

The Poulenc Trio and accordionist and composer Hanzhi Wang stirred the Breakers for Newport Classical on Sunday afternoon. [continued]
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Andris Nelsons and the BSO Were Also on Stage

The nonpareil Yuja Wang’s Beethoven did not disappoint the eager fans at Tanglewood yesterday in a concert which also included Duke Ellington and Carlos Simon works. [continued]
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Defining Home

Pianist and composer Dinuk Wijeratne along with clarinetist-composer Kinan Azmeh, and the string ensemble A Far Cry asked us to consider the meaning of home Friday evening in the Breakers Mansion. [continued]
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Nelsons, Fleming, Strauss Win Hearts at Tanglewood

Renée Fleming’s presence on a glorious Sunday afternoon with a Richard Strauss program produced a large and grateful crowd at Tanglewood. [continued]
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Boisterous Beethoven Kicks Off Tanglewood Season

The Boston Symphony Orchestra opened its summer season Friday under a beaming Andris Nelsons. With smiles and flourishes Gil Shaham soloed in a stunningly melodious Beethoven Violin Concerto before the BSO demonstrated impressive might and glorious subtleties in the Eroica Symphony. [continued]
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Central City Puccini

A Colorado Opera Company’s La fanciulla del West would reward a sojourn in the Rockies. [continued]
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Keyboard Fireworks for Newport Classical

Joyce Yang dazzled the Breakers on Saturday night with fire and power in an engaging selection of Russian piano favorite. [continued]
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Sphinx Virtuosi Resplendent In Newport Opening

The 18-member chamber orchestra, which comprises and gives voice to Black and Latinx artists and composers, came to the Breakers last night with a whirlwind. [continued]
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Emotions Articulated through Music

Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani joined the Viano String Quartet and others in Saturday’s Rockport program spanning from Baroque through Now. [continued]
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Butterflies Fluttered as Chamber Music Soared

The Manhattan Chamber Players opened Maverick Concerts’ 108th season on Sunday afternoon. The beautifully curated “Wind, Sun, and Water” featured Ravel, Harold Meltzer, Debussy, and the (regrettably!) little-known, late-19th-century Frenchman Jean Cras. [continued]
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The Felicitous Three Plus One

A trio sine nomine comprising violinist Stella Chen, cellist Brannon Cho, and violist Matthew Lipman, created larger-than-life sonorities on superb instruments at Rockport on Sunday. After the giant Mozart K. 563 Trio, guest pianist Evren Ozel made it four in a rip-roaring traversal of Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2 [continued]
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Isserlis and Shih Melt Hearts

Friday’s  Rockport concert from Steven Isserlis and his longtime collaborator pianist Connie Shih exceeded in sheer beauty much of what I have heard in 15 years of reviewing. [continued]
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Pandora Animates Hildegard

The Pandora Consort intensely shared the nearly extraterrestrial music of mystic and composer St. Hildegard von Bingen last week for SoHip at Emmanuel Church’s Lindsay Chapel. [continued]
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Previewing Landmarks’ 2024 Season

Under Music Director Christopher Wilkins, Boston Landmarks Orchestra celebrates its 23rd-anniversary season with live orchestral music on the Esplanade beginning July 24th at 7:00. Through August 21st, the orchestra and its various ensembles reaches out a variety of audiences and communities with engaged performances of solid musical materials and. This summer Wilkins once again mixers things up, creatively juxtaposing old with new works by familiar and should-be familiar composers

Once again, Wilkins begins with his hopes and dreams rather than concert previews…the latter, of course follows.

BMInt: First, can you provide some context to the season? Please describe how your programming choices relate to the Boston Landmarks Orchestra’s unique mission. [continued]

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Aston Magna Again

As Aston Magna Artistic Director for 32 years, I continue to enjoy discovering new repertoire and presenting it with old favorites in mixed thematic programs. This summer’s festival will offer Boston-area concerts at the Allen House in West Newton, on July 11th, 18th, 25th , and on August 1st – all Thursday evenings at 7pm. These programs will repeat in the Berkshires. We will also be offering lectures at 6:15 for ticketholders who want deeper background. Tickets HERE, or at the door.

On July 11th I will perform some of my favorite solo repertoire: the three Partitas by J.S. Bach for violin alone, with commentary. These masterpieces feature dances from all over baroque Europe, as well as (still surprisingly!) the New World. The Sarabande and the Chaconne are variants of dances imported from Central America, along with chili peppers, chocolate, and tomatoes. [continued]

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A Warm Homage on Randall Thompson’s 125th Birthday

I first heard the name Randall Thompson when I was 15 or 16 and a member of the A Capella Choir at Classical High School, Providence, Rhode Island. Classical music had only recently become a passion for me, and I was soaking it all up as fast as I possibly could. The choir director, Dr. Louis Picchieri, announced with great solemnity that we were about to undertake learning a difficult and monumental piece, by an important, contemporary American composer. We were given to understand that it had been composed for adult singers, and that allowing a group of adolescent voices like ours to take it on was a challenge, and something of a risk.

That piece, of course, was the Alleluia, and I and the other teenage choristers were suitably impressed by the majesty and sweep of Thompson’s writing. The slow buildup to a climax, and then the release to a pianissimo close, were, to use the argot of a later generation, awesome. We grew to love that music, as did countless thousands of other choristers and listeners, before and since. Little did I know that, only a few years later, I would come to know Thompson personally, that the author of those majestic sounds would become my teacher and mentor, guiding and encouraging me through a difficult time at Harvard University, and that we would be on a first-name basis.
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Jeremy Eichler Shares News of Transition

After 18 years at the Boston Globe, I am moving on from my position and joining the faculty of Tufts University, where I’ll be taking up a newly created professorship in music history and public humanities, beginning this fall.

I will really miss working with many wonderful Globe colleagues. I’m also very excited for a new home base where I will be able to bring my experience into the classroom, continue with my public-facing writing (including a new book project about which I hope to share more soon), and embark on a new set of collaborations including a position next season as the first Writer-in-Residence of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. [continued]

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Barnatan’s Piano Overturns the Orchestra, A Preview

Symphonics to duos being one matter, Rockport Music will see compressed orchestral works of Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff, even Rameau’s Suite in G Major from Nouvelles Suites de Piéces de Clavacin, finding their ways to a Steinway concert grand; also, on the French side of the program, Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales. Thursday evening, pianist/transcriber Inon Barnatan will solo before summering folk no doubt filling Shalin Liu Performance Center, given the performer and program.

Inevitably, with more concertizing pianists on the scene, there are necessarily more transcriptions of a finite mainstream repertoire to follow. Neither transcriptions nor disclaimers from purists are anything new. Most probably, those attending Barnatan’s recital will take the stance such as that made tunefully in Irving Berlin’s “I Love a Piano.” 

Bypassing pre-piano, the clavacin (French for harpsichord) in particular, Barnatan, one could say, might hammer home the Suite in G Major of Jean-Philipp Rameau from his Nouvelles Suites de Piéces de Clavacin from three centuries past. High velocity strikes on a single key and over sequences of keys may very well come through “sensitively,” a description often appearing in reviews of the Israeli-American’s playing. [continued]

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Remembering a “Choral Dean”

Recognition is in order of the 40th anniversary of the death of Randall Thompson, “dean of American choral composers,” which will be on July 9th, and we are now two months past the 125th anniversary of his birth in 1899. Many years ago I studied tonal counterpoint with him at Harvard, and one year later took his seminar in choral composition. It took some years afterward, but I came to recognize how much technique I gained from that study and even acquired some modest mastery in important musicianship.

I was a raw college sophomore in 1959, and I disliked Thompson then for personal reasons that I now consider immature and trivial.  I felt that neither he nor his music had ever got very far past prep school, and indeed he took pride in having never studied in Paris or Fontainebleau but rather in Rome; he remained an Italophile until his death. I remember a friend telling me of being invited to tea at Thompson’s home, drinking two cups, and being offered and accepting a third cup of tea, whereupon the master upbraided him: “Don’t you know that it is very poor manners to accept a third cup of tea?” [continued]

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Celebrating Pride Month with Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice

For two nights only, NEMPAC will collaborate with members of the Boston Festival Orchestra and Nightingale in a queer interpretation of Gluck’s famed opera Orfeo ed Euridice. We connected with NEMPAC Executive Director Sherri Snow, NEMPAC Opera Project, Artistic Director and Stage Director of Orfeo ed Euridice, Brenda Huggins, and Boston Festival Orchestra Co-Founder and Artistic Director and Conductor for Orfeo ed Euridice Alyssa Wang for an inside look at the company, the social significance of this interpretation, as well as the musical and dramatic elements expected to make this production shine!

The show will run June 13th and 14th, 7:30pm, at Dante Alighieri Society of Massachusetts. Tickets HERE. Our interview follows: [continued]

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The Jons Salute Cape Cod Summer  

The Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival’s ten performances in three weeks in five venues across Cape Cod have become one of the region’s largest cultural events, attracting thousands of concertgoers. Each week is anchored by back-to-back concerts by today’s leading string quartets: Borromeo, Ying, and Escher. Other Festival highlights include a free jazz concert, the Cape Cod debut of Tangent Winds, and more. The complete schedule is HERE.

Upon reading the brochure for the 45th-anniversary Festival season, I don’t detect any overarching theme to this season’s programming, but you are clearly true to your mission of presenting “the finest classical and contemporary chamber music by both world-class ensembles and exceptional young emerging artists to Cape Cod audiences…and to broaden and deepen appreciation of the chamber music art form. Am I missing any connective elements in the choices of works?  [continued]

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BLO Street Stage Returns

Boston Lyric Opera’s mobile performance venue resumes free live performances throughout Boston this, bringing opera and popular music performances to neighborhoods from Charlestown to South Boston; the series kicked off this afternoon on the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The next event comes on June 13th.

Conceived and created as a way to bring music to the public during COVID shutdowns,  the 26-foot-long Street Stage vehicle opens on three sides to offer a 270-degree view of performers. Audiences should bring blankets or lawn chairs. Support from HarborOne Bank and the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture subsidizes the free access. Details and registration are available HERE. [continued]

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The Backyard Bash: A Buried Lede

Aliana de la Guardis (by Timothy Gurzak)

Guerilla Opera, a Boston experimental presence for 18 years, began performing in The Zack Box at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and now has national recognition for innovation, having toured to multiple states and with live streams, films, and virtual performance festivals.

This “punk” organization embodies art that emerges from those who challenge the status quo. For them, “opera” is any work where the music acts as the catalyst for the drama and action of a story. With this spirit they now shift their focus to their community and the creative process by reviving their virtual libretto writing labs with the goal that by examining this definition in their libretto labs, they encourage artists with unique voices to tell progressive stories in new and creative ways starting with the text.

Aliana de la Guardia, Executive Director of Guerilla Opera writes: “There are only so many works we can produce. We’re still small, after all. Yet, there is still a need in the community to gather and develop stories. The LIbretto Labs and Writing Collective are our way to serve more of the community and help get their ideas into the world.” The company offers two courses to artists who are interested in exploring the art of writing through the lens of opera. The first is the “Guerilla Lab: Libretto Writing”, a short summer course that serves as an introductory-level exploration into writing for opera. Writers new to opera or writing for opera will explore techniques to generate ideas for stories. [continued]