One day after its NYC season opener, the New York Classical Players made a Jordan Hall debut for the Korean Cultural Society under the rubric “Rising Stars Concert 2021.” Rigor, passion and adventure ensued.    [continued]

Redressing a 20-year absence, the Cavani String Quartet ended the Maverick Concerts season on Sunday with stimulating and idiomatic playing of Beethoven, Daron Hagen, and Dvořák.    [continued]

Pianist Stewart Goodyear, a rising composer and keyboard superman, shared Beethoven’s star designation Thursday with James Ehnes, a cognoscenti’s sovereign of the violin, in the Kreutzer and Spring sonatas at Shalin Liu.    [continued]

The Boston Landmarks Orchestra finished its 2021 summer series on the Esplanade Friday with an all-American program in which Music Director Christopher Wilkins mixed familiar and beloved pieces with nearly forgotten works by 19th- and 20th-century composers and one world premiere.    [continued]

The 22-year-old Van Cliburn Bronze Medalist Daniel Hsu revealed a poetic soul and great technical chops at the Gardner Sunday. His concert for the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts comprised Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Beethoven’s op. 110, and the Liszt Sonata.    [continued]

For its welcome return engagement to the Maverick on Sunday, the Catalyst Quartet contrasted a modern first half with a 19th-century second half in partnership with pianist Daniel Gortler— all with appropriate style.    [continued]

The Berkshire Opera Festival’s thoroughly enjoyable run of Verdi’s Falstaff continues Tuesday August 24th and Friday August 27th at 7:30pm in the Mahaiwe Theater in Great Barrington. I was in comic opera heaven—and the audience, judging from its chuckles and outright laughter, joined me there.    [continued]

Friday’s Pops Movie Night at Tanglewood under John Williams and Keith Lockhart mixed familiar music with imagery from much-loved films as well as bringing out some worthy discoveries. Romance, the dark side, and adventure were musiced with appropriate gusto as the images swept us away.    [continued]

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Bach Now with Emmanuel Music: This Sunday, during the regular 10am service, Emmanuel Music kicks off its 50th-annual Bach Cantata Series at Boston’s Emmanuel Church (HERE ) with Bach’s Cantata No. 72, “Alles nur nach Gottes Willen” and Henry Purcell’s heart-wrenching Hear My Prayer. The complete schedule for all 36 performances, with program notes and Pamela Dellal’s precise, thoughtful cantata translations has just been posted HERE. Three season highlights draw from outside of Bach’s sacred music: Elena Ruehr’s new Requiem on November 7th , Principal Guest Conductor John Harbison’s 1994 Chorale Cantata on March 6th, and James Primosch’s 2014 commission for Philadelphia’s excellent professional choir The Crossing (directed by Donald Nally). Primosch follows a tradition made popular by Britten is this new Mass for the Day of St. Thomas Didymus, weaving together Latin mass texts and contemporary poems by Denise Levertov (see notes HERE and complete texts HERE). 

Ryan Turner, who sang under Emmanuel’s founding director Craig Smith from 1997-2007, continues his successful tenure as the organization’s second Music Director (history HERE). The Sunday services will continue to be live-streamed under the guidance of Emmanuel Music’s brand new executive director Jaclyn Dentino (bio HERE). [continued…]

MassOpera presents Verdi’s La Traviata to intimate effect at the Eustis Estate Museum, Milton in collaboration with Historic New England on October 17th through 24th. Tickets $75 to $35 HERE.

Katy Early, director and MassOpera’s Dan Ryan, conductor have reimagined La Traviata in a site-specific, immersive form in which audience members follow cast and players to four locations throughout the Eustis Estate as if they are inside the opera itself. It is Director Katy Early’s goal to have the audience “feel like guests at the party scenes and ‘flies on the walls’ of the moments between Violetta and Alfredo, as they grapple with how to be together through gorgeous singing.” In addition to the cast and patrons, the instrumentalists[i] will also be part of the action of the show, creating a true immersion.

The 90-minute condensed version runs for 18 performances before 25 audience members.“There are limits to how immersive a show can be given the constraints of COVID protocols and the very real concerns about consent that are being raised through the work of intimacy direction these days. Unlike some immersive plays that I’ve attended in the past, no audience members and performers will ever be touching one another, but there will be some really great eye contact à la the performance practice of Shakespeare in which the proverbial fourth wall will evaporate and everyone in the room will have to confront that they are real, live human beings sharing a space together. And that posture of really looking at one another and being witnessed is a brave thing to do! Violetta and Alfredo do it, the audience members will be invited to do so, and I think that’s what we’re all learning how to do again post lockdowns and Zoom screens,” according to Early. [continued…]

New England Conservatory announced today that pianists Jonathan Biss and Marc-André Hamelin are joining the piano faculty for one-year appointments at the start of the 2021 academic year. Both are renowned for their world-class musicianship, and bring a deep knowledge of piano technique and repertoire to the students at NEC through masterclasses, lessons, and workshops. BMInt is very pleased to share the story about these significant hires. The NEC piano department and students will benefit greatly.

“Jonathan and Marc-André are two of the towering pianists of our time, each of whom exemplifies the cross-section of extraordinary technical skill and probing, insightful artistry,” says Benjamin Sosland, Provost and Dean of Faculty, New England Conservatory of Music. “It is an exceptional honor to welcome them to our community, where they will inspire our students and build on NEC’s legacy of pianistic excellence.” [continued…]

Marcus Thompson (file photo)

After artfully telling its subscribers to hold certain dates, and that locations would be revealed later, Boston Chamber Music Society finally identified Jordan Hall as the location for the first three shows of its new season, in which they will be offering favorite works by Brahms, Mendelssohn, Mozart, as well as world premieres of BCMS commissions: Lowell Liebermann’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, Michi Wiancko’s Piano Quintet, and Joan Tower’s Viola Quintet “Purple Rain.” BCMS will also celebrate British composers and observe the anniversaries of Schubert (225th birthday) and Saint-Saëns (100th year of his death). Learn more HERE.

FLE: While concertgoing seems to be reaching tentatively for normalcy, BCMS will still not be making music as usual.

Marcus Thompson: Well, first of all, it’s really good to see you across the table, especially after more than a year in lock down. You will recall that, like so many others, we invented an online format for engaging our patrons and artists even when some who had planned to be in Boston were prevented from traveling. We started last fall with videos recorded in Fraser Studios and elsewhere, supplemented with archival live recordings to fill the time of a normal, 1.5 hour+ span. That made for a lot of content and proved tricky to navigate for everyone, so earlier this year we went for the one hour, video-only format with performances and short introductions recorded in advance. [continued…]

Perhaps because I moved away from the Boston area some 50 years ago, I had never heard of Scott Wheeler, the much-performed composer of operas and instrumental works who has long taught music theater and song composition at Emerson College. I looked around, though, and found much praise for—among other recordings—a dramatic cantata The Construction of Boston, a collection of orchestral works (Heavy Weather), and William Sharp singing some of his songs.

The present release offers the first of three mythology-drenched operas from three different composers collectively known as The Ouroboros Trilogy. The ouroboros is a mythological symbol in many cultures: a snake biting its own tail, thus representing such things as the circularity of life and history. Singapore-born Cerise Lim Jacobs wrote all three librettos. The second and third operas in the trilogy are Gilgamesh, with music by Paula Prestini, and Madame White Snake, whose composer Zhou Long won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Music for it. [continued…]

Friedrich Schiller

Would we still read Schiller’s “An die Freude” if Beethoven had not set it in the finale of his ninth symphony?

Friedrich von Schiller (1759 – 1805) was a German intellectual, remembered as a playwright, a philosopher, and a poet. Interested in theology, he was ordered to study at a military academy; he studied law, then medicine; later he professed history. Throughout it all, he wrote. His writings were not without controversy; he crossed his pen against a duke’s sword and incurred his own father’s wrath. He wrote seemingly to exorcise personal demons. Linked to the German literary movement Sturm und Drang (literally, “storm and desire” although often rendered “storm and stress”), he valued nature, the individual, and strong emotion. This early Romantic trend in literature and thought stood in opposition to classicism and the Enlightenment. The movement is exemplified in Goethe’s epistolary novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers), first published in 1774. That novel is said to have sparked a rash of young men committing suicide across the European continent. Literature asked that you feel; society preferred one not feel quite so much. [continued…]

Marin Alsop to lead Beethoven’s Ninth

The Handel and Haydn Society will bring live performances back in its new season, which in part recognizes the conclusion of Artistic Director Harry Christophers’s 13-year run. The 207th season will feature eight signature programs at Symphony Hall and H+H’s first ever performance at Carnegie Hall.

But before all that begins, and in order to do something right away to meet the pent-up demand of people bound and determined to get out and experience live concerts while they can, the H + H will be offering a free Esplanade performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on August 27th under Marin Alsop. Interestingly, Schiller’s ode “To Joy” will get a break. “Oh friends, not these tones” will take on an added meaning in new texts from the past US Poet Laureate.

BMInt invited  H+H President and CEO David Snead to engage in a discussion.

FLE: Tell us about the “joy” that the concert as a whole, and the last movement in particular, celebrate.

DS: Absolutely. We’re celebrating the joy of getting back to live performance in Boston.

Tracy K. Smith’s new poetry for the last movement, which receives its U.S. premiere, will be replacing Schiller’s celebration of joy and brotherhood in his ode “An die Freude.” Smith interestingly gives sisters equal time; “Joy, bright God-spark born of Ever Daughter of fresh paradise.” Read the complete text HERE

Her poem meditates on the meaning of joy at this at this moment. She wrote it pre-pandemic, I believe, thus it was not specifically about that, but it’s about joy of life from many different dimensions. [continued…]

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