April 23, 2018

in: Reviews

Piano + String Quartet: As Good As It Gets

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Evgeny Kissin returned to Boston in the Celebrity Series, performing with the Emerson String Quartet Sunday afternoon at Symphony Hall.    [continued]

April 23, 2018

in: Reviews

Rondeau Does BWV 988

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French harpsichordist Jean Rondeau performed the complete Goldberg Variations at the First Church, Congregational, in Cambridge on Friday for BEMF.    [continued]

April 20, 2018

in: Reviews

Musto Opera First for NEC Theater

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Later the Same Evening, the first opera mounted at Plympton-Shattuck Black Box Theater in the Student Life and Performance Center at New England Conservatory, continues through Sunday.    [continued]

April 20, 2018

in: Reviews

Pianist and Conductor Debut at Symphony Hall

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With a forceful 23-year-old Canadian virtuoso and a conductor who is an exemplar of the up and coming part of the Russian musical establishment, BSO patrons could expect energy Thursday.    [continued]

April 20, 2018

in: Reviews

Fidelio in Period Style

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Hearing Boston Baroque do Fidelio in Jordan Hall, more akin to Schikaneder’s Theater an der Wien in Vienna, where it was first performed, than to a many-tiered large opera house, allowed one to appreciate its many beauties in detail.    [continued]

April 19, 2018

in: Reviews

Don’t Let This Contingent Graduate

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Hugh Wolff’s NEC Philharmonia with soloist In Mo Yang knocked Kernis, Bernstein, and Debussy over the Symphony Hall rafters last night.    [continued]

April 17, 2018

in: Reviews

21st-Century Verismo

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The North American premiere of Joachim Holbek’s The Rosenbergs to Rhea Leman’s script also constituted the Boston Playwright’s Theater’s inaugural foray into the operatic genre. This reviewer attended on Saturday night.    [continued]

April 15, 2018

in: Reviews

B-E-G Trio Big at ISG

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The Benedetti-Elschenbroich-Grynyuk [piano] Trio delivered richness and variety in works of Schubert, Brahms, Turnage and Ravel on Sunday at the Gardner.    [continued]

April 15, 2018

in: Reviews

Is the Tongue Quicker Than the Ear?

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In “Conversation Between Ear & Tongue” at Third Life Studio in Somerville, Dinosaur Annex challenged 40 attendees to savor interplay between musical and culinary delights.    [continued]

April 13, 2018

in: Reviews

Polish Pianist Plays Beyond the Physical

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Making his Celebrity Series debut, Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz sold out Longy’s Pickman Hall Wednesday, pursuing musical personalities and reveling in Steinway sound.    [continued]

April 11, 2018

in: Reviews

Heiss’s Earthly and Unearthly Delights

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Composer-flutist-teacher John Heiss picked New England Conservatory student performers and pieces they liked to curate a gut-wrenching night of music at Jordan Hall    [continued]

April 11, 2018

in: Reviews

Stile Antico: Clarity from the Shadows

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Twelve British singers rendered Tomás Luis de Victoria motets with remarkable vocal and textual clarity at St. Paul Parish Cambridge for the Boston Early Music Festival.    [continued]

April 10, 2018

in: Reviews

Armida Hot in Heavy-Duty Rep

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The Berlin-based foursome gave us a serious dose of Smetana, Prokofiev and Beethoven at All Saints Church in Ashmont  Sunday.    [continued]

April 10, 2018

in: Reviews

High Fives for Six Quartets!

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Six ensembles from NEC’s Professional String Quartet Training Program participated in a troika of concerts at Jordan Hall celebrating the program and NEC’s 150th Anniversary.    [continued]

April 8, 2018

in: Reviews

The Faerie Queen Cavorts

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Handel + Haydn period-instrument band and chorus gave a charming new adaptation of Purcell’s 1692 great masque at Jordan Hall on Friday. Repeats Sunday afternoon.    [continued]

April 6, 2018

in: Reviews

Verdi’s Joan Joins Odyssey’s Triumphs

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Odyssey Opera ends its season this weekend with Verdi’s rarely heard Giovanna d’Arco. This welcome production of a beautiful outpouring of Verdi’s music concludes Saturday at the Huntington Street Theater.    [continued]

April 6, 2018

in: Reviews

Outstanding Wagner from Nelsons and the BSO

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Andris Nelsons was superb in Thursday’s Siegfried Idyll, and his Tristan, with Jonas Kaufmann and Camilla Nylund, was not too far behind.    [continued]

April 6, 2018

in: Reviews

Act II of Tristan und Isolde Makes Fine Impression

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While pleased indeed to hear the BSO play Act II of Tristan und Isolde, this writer disagreed with decisions on tempi and balance last night at Symphony Hall. Brian Bell adds some history.    [continued]

April 3, 2018

in: Reviews

BU Opera Gives Debussy His Due

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The Boston University Opera Institute’s Pelléas et Mélisande last weekend at the Cutler Majestic Theater left little to be desired.    [continued]

April 2, 2018

in: Reviews

Duo That Can Melt Icebergs

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The deep and poetic kinship of violinist Angelo Xiang Yu and composer /pianist Andrew Hsu impressed at Jordan Hall Saturday night.    [continued]

April 1, 2018

in: Reviews

Programmatic Metamorphosis: “Loss – Resurrection”

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The Miró Quartet and A Far Cry collaborated with metaphysical leanings on Friday in Jordan Hall, showing how art’s elasticity lies in its fluidity of meanings.    [continued]

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April 23, 2018

in: News & Features

Cook Licks Own Fingers

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Shakespeare Concerts will give the world premiere of The lady doth protest too much, by the composer Joseph Summer, as well as works by Serge Prokofiev, Howard Frazin, Binna Kim, Benjamin Pesetsky (also a BMInt contributor), and Thomas Schnauber on Friday April 27th at 8pm at Jordan Hall. A similar program repeats the next evening at Wellesley College’s Jewett Hall, Saturday April 28th also at 8pm. Mezzo Ryu-Kyung Kim, cellist Hyun-ji Kwon, and pianist SangYoung Kim collaborate.

BMInt spoke with Shakespeare Concerts’ founder Summer, familiar for his recent opera The Tempest and for numerous other Shakespeare Concerts projects. He studied with Czech composer Karel Husa, attended Oberlin Conservatory, and taught theory at Carnegie Mellon before “coming to [his] senses” and leaving academe to pursue composition fulltime.

 JS: Our programs are about the combinations and permutations of a solo voice (in this case a mezzo), a violoncello, and a piano. The texts are primarily Shakespeare [who Summer believes was actually Edward de Vere], but not only. Besides Prokofiev, the composers are alive and well and in fact will be at the concerts, hearing their own works for the first time. Binna Kim’s Give Me Your Hand, an evocation of Lady Macbeth, is our featured world premiere. Howard Frazin’s A Wren and Benjamin Pesetsky’s in Just– will be performed for the first time in this instrumental setting; their works don’t use Shakespeare texts. Thomas Schnauber premieres two works, one about sonnets, and the other about drinking (a song from Othello.) My own pieces include several Shakespeare settings, including the world premiere of my Sonnet LI, as well as my sonata for violoncello and piano. [continued…]

April 18, 2018

in: News & Features

The Lost World of Florence Price

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Florence Beatrice Price

The modern rediscovery of the little-known African-American composer Florence Price began in 2009, when a large number of her musical manuscripts came to light in a dilapidated, abandoned house in St. Anne, Illinois. On Saturday April 21st at 8pm, the Du Bois Orchestra will perform her Mississippi River Suite in the second of a three-part series at the University Lutheran Church in Cambridge commemorating the 150th anniversary of the birth of W.E.B. Du Bois. Beethoven’s Violin Concerto featuring the internationally acclaimed, Boston-based violinist Angelo Xiang Yu, and the finale from Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, “What Love Tells Me” will fill out the concert.

The Du Bois Orchestra at Harvard, founded in 2015, is a chamber orchestra with a mission to make music a means of overcoming social exclusion. Inspired by the namesake Harvard sociologist who combined music, sociology, and philosophy to fight for social equity, the orchestra devotes itself to historically neglected composers alongside well-known works of the classical tradition. The orchestra also educates and reaches out to youth and the underserved.

One of the most prolific, yet largely unrecognized composers in American music history, Florence Price had been a significant figure in the Chicago Renaissance, and corresponded with many of the leading black intelligentsia, including Du Bois and Langston Hughes, whose poetry she set to music. [continued…]

April 16, 2018

in: News & Features

Moving Right Along at 150

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We’re all used to hearing fine New England Conservatory performances of all sizes in its Jordan Hall. Next Wednesday, as part of the celebration of the conservatory’s 150th birthday, the NEC Philharmonia will move down the street to Symphony Hall. Stanford and Norma Jean Calderwood director of orchestras Hugh Wolff, marking his 10th anniversary at NEC, leads a 7:30pm program that includes the world premiere of an NEC 150th anniversary co-commission by Aaron Jay Kernis, plus music of Bernstein and Debussy. At 5pm in Pierce Hall, Kernis will give a seminar on his works and writing style.

The evening opens with Kernis’s Symphony No. 4, Chromelodeon, co-commissioned (with the Nashville Symphony); its movements are titled “Out of Silence,” “Thorn Rose | Weep Freedom (after Handel),” and “Fanfare Chromelodia.” Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade for Violin and Orchestra after Plato’s Symposium (movements “Phaedrus, Pausanias;” “Aristophanes;” “Eryximachus;” “Agathon;” “Socrates, Alcibiades”) will mark the composer’s centenary. Multiple competition prizewinner and former Miriam Fried student In Mo Yang, who will play solos part on the Joachim-Ma Stradivarius.

The April 18th concert concludes with Claude Debussy’s La Mer (“De l’aube à midi sur la mer”, “Jeux de vagues”, “Dialogue du vent et de la mer”). [continued…]

April 16, 2018

in: News & Features

John Oliver (1939–2018): An Appreciation

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One of the great figures in American choral music, John Oliver, died Wednesday April 11th after a long illness. He founded the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, in 1970 and led it until his retirement in 2015.

Before the formation of the TFC, the BSO had worked with a variety of local groups for performances of choral–orchestral repertoire. This had long been a problem for the summer season at Tanglewood, when college and community-based choruses in Boston were out of season and thus unavailable, and it was difficult to build an adequate chorus out in the Berkshires.

Oliver, who had been a graduate student of Lorna Cooke deVaron at the New England Conservatory, became connected with the BSO by training a children’s chorus for Wozzeck and the Mahler Third under Leinsdorf in the 1960s. When he proposed creating a Boston-based chorus for Tanglewood, the idea was accepted for the 1970 season. Originally a group of about 60, it was supplemented by other choruses for each Tanglewood concert weekend. [continued…]

April 15, 2018

in: News & Features

Tristan and Iseult Entangle at Longy

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The mythical couple emerges from the misty past next week at Longy in Boston Camerata’s “Tristan & Iseult: A Medieval Romance in Poetry and Music.” This iteration of the ancient love story, drawn entirely from authentic medieval sources, proposes a powerful and surprising rendition of the tale for modern audiences. The internationally acclaimed scenario and score by director emeritus Joel Cohen will be newly staged by artistic director Anne Azéma, who will also reprise her award-winning role as Iseult la Blonde.

Pickman Hall resounds with these tone on April 21st at 8pm and April 22nd at 4pm. Tickets are $10-$60 and may be purchased HERE.

BMInt: Your Tristan & Iseult is, to put it mildly, an unusual artifact. As we understand the history of this show, you were both immersed it from day one. So what was day one?

Joel Cohen: It was a 20th-century morning in the Marais of Paris, at a meeting with the A and R head, in the offices of Erato Records. This guy, who was a 19th century symphony-concerto-opera maven all the way, asked me if there was a way to make a Tristan and Iseult CD using medieval music instead of Wagner’s. Without a clue as to what we would be getting into over the next year, I said yes, or perhaps oui. [continued…]

April 13, 2018

in: News & Features

Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Announces 2018 Winner

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Lili Boulanger

At its annual meeting, the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund board unanimously chose as its 2018 competition prizewinner the 25-year-old pianist Jean Sélim Abdelmoula, from Switzerland, granting him a prize of $5000. Judge András Schiff had nominated Abdelmoula. “An uncommonly poetic musician”, according to The New York Times, Abdelmoula received first prizes at the 2012 Edvard Grieg International Composer Competition in Oslo, 2013 Lausanne Concours d’Interprétation Musicale, and 2016 Premi de Musica de Cambra Montserrat Alavedras, and his works have been played by ensembles the Orchestre de Chambre de Toulouse, the Swiss Chamber Soloists, the Camerata Bern, the Zürcher Kammerorchester, the Sine Nomine Quartet, and the Ensemble Séquence.

“Mademoiselle” and Her Pet Project

Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979), reverently called “Mademoiselle” by her students, wrote a few short pieces in her life, but early on, abandoned that pursuit for a world-renowned career as a teacher of composition and harmony. She also encouraged her musically gifted younger sister, “Lili” (Marie-Juliette Olga), born in 1893. She started out studying with Nadia before entering the Conservatoire, where she studied with Paul Vidal; at age 19 she became the first woman to receive the Prix de Rome (First Grand Prize in Music jointly with Claude Delvincourt), for her cantata Faust et Hélène. Five years later, she fell ill and died, devastating Nadia. Extremely productive in the short time allotted to her, Lili left behind a choice oeuvre. In addition to several excellent short choral works, based often on Christian themes, she also wrote for chamber ensembles and solo instruments. Resolving to keep Lili’s memory alive through her music, Nadia started the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund in 1939. [continued…]

April 9, 2018

in: News & Features

Operatic Immersion at JP Brewery

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Thought about being young, penniless, and in love? Ever wanted to share a drink with the denizens of Café Momus? Did you like Rent?  If the answer is yes to two out of three of these questions, then by all means plan to experience Boston Opera Collaborative’s site specific La Bohème, where industrial racks will serve as a garret, and the audience will move with singers among the fermentation tanks during scene changes.

The four-act opera will be sung in Italian with English supertitles. A seven-piece ensemble led by conductor Beatrice Affron will play an arrangement including piano strings, clarinet and accordion by Matthieu D’Ordine. Scott Ballantine, Junhan Choi, Sarah Cooper, Carina DiGianfillipo, Mitch Fitzdaniel, Celeste Godin, Seth Grondin, Abigail Krawczynska, Andrew Miller, Fausto Miro, Fran Rogers, and Ryan Stoll constitute the alternating casts.  Greg Smucker sets the show in 2018 Jamaica Plain at. Turtle Swamp Brewery, JP.

The show runs for 60 patrons over each of 10 nights from April 12th to the 22nd. Tickets are $30-$60 in advance and at the door Interviewed  at Turtle Swap, Boston Opera Collaborative’s stage director and co-artistic director Greg Smucker, Musetta Abigail Krawczyńska, Marcello Andrew Miller, and Rodolfo Fran Rogers sang out from their beers with gladful news. [continued…]

April 5, 2018

in: News & Features

BSO’s Economic Muscle Grew 40% in the Last Decade

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Henry started it all.

Beyond the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s benefits (tangible, musical, spiritual) to the 1.2 million people who attended its concerts in the past year, the organization’s activities led to $261 million in “economic impact” in our Commonwealth. An analysis the BSO commissioned from Williams College economics professor Stephen Shepard shows the impact to have grown 40% over a similar study 10 years ago.

Shepard credits the rise to a 13% increase in the BSO’s operating budget (this after factoring in inflation) and a significant increase in visitor spending, particularly at Tanglewood, where, since 2008, the number of visitors has increased by 11% and their average spending by 51%. It also adds approximately $4.5 million the BSO spent for the Boston Pops Fourth of July beginning in 2017.

The Symphony’s activities, including 327 concerts and 340 tour performances, lectures, educational, and other events on average each year, generate a live audience exceeding 1.2 million annually. To put these figures in a larger context, after adding the annual attendance of 1.1 million of BSO neighbor the MFA to the BSO’s 1.2 million, you approach the level of the 2.9 million tickets sales of the Red Sox for last year. Of course, the BSO and the MFA don’t sell as much beer.

Over year 2008 figures, BSO patrons from outside of Massachusetts numbering 270,475 have generated $45 million in additional economic activity within the Commonwealth. Furthermore, the Boston Symphony Orchestra Inc. contributes 2,385 jobs to the state’s labor force in a variety of sectors, generating more than $94.4 million in labor income within the state and at least $48 million in federal, state, and local tax revenues. [continued…]

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