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Schubert: Pf-Four Hands & With Cello

The two-concert series, “The Art of the Piano Duo,” which concluded Saturday at Boston First Church, left listeners wanting to hear more. [continued]
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Otherworldly Tears Flowed

Nota Bene mined great pathos from “themes of exile and separation” for SOHIP at Emmanuel Church in Boston last Thursday. [continued]
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Octetting in Pine Plains

In a surprisingly rural Duchy, the somewhat improbable home of the Stissing Center for Arts and Culture, Charles Martin Loeffler’s Octet for two clarinets, harp, string quartet and contrabass, got a local first hearing. [continued]
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Hovhaness: Reverent, Mystical, Haunting

“A Tribute to Alan Hovhaness”got us thinking about the sui generis composer on Sunday afternoon at Arlington Town Hall. [continued]
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Dover Quartet: As Good As It Gets

After a drenching rainstorm all Sunday morning, the sun returned just in time for the high-spirited, sold-out audience to enjoy the Dover String Quartet. Buoyant anticipation was palpable as we awaited the … [continued] [continued]
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Dazzling Fingerwork Plus Musical Riches

Garrick Ohlsson flew in from the West Coast (without other East Coast dates) to open this year’s Rockport Chamber Music Festival. An auspicious beginning, to be sure! [continued]
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Out With the Old Season and In With the New

Newport Classical closed out its third Chamber Series season* on Friday evening as Boston-based pianist Asiya Korepanova played a concert of her own transcriptions of works mainly for cello and piano, plus a few examples from the song repertoire. [continued]
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Carrying Bach Back to Leipzig

In anticipation of its history-making appearance at the Leipzig BachFest, Emmanuel Music performed four of the “chorale cantatas” of Bach, together with four new pieces (by Marti Epstein, John Harbison, Elena Ruehr, and Errolyn Wallen) commissioned as preludes. [continued]
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A Well-Tuned Machine and Operator

Sincere and intense conviction marked the playing of Mária Budáčová Wednesday night in her role as the highly skilled operator of Methuen’s Great Organ. [continued]
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Panacheful Two-Piano Artistry

Vyacheslav Gryaznov and Vladimir Rumyantsev rendered two Grieg-Mozart reimaginings and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances with grandeur and elegance at First Church in Boston this past weekend for Sound Ways. [continued]
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For Terror and For Play: Two Pianos

Gryaznov and Vladimir Rumyantsev’s performance of the latter’s two-piano arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances Sunday at First Church in Boston made it nearly impossible to forget about the violence and injustice currently taking place in Ukraine and other places. [continued]
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BMOP and Brandeis Collaborate

Boston Modern Orchestra Project commanded an 80%-full house, as the players filled the Jordan Hall stage to the brim on for its “Jeremiah” concert on Saturday night. [continued]
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Undaunted Singers Delivered

The Spectrum Singers’ “Time, Space, Peace, Music, God,” offered a fond farewell to their founder and Music Director of 44 years, John Ehrlich, at First Church in Cambridge on Saturday night. [continued]
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A Salubrious Immersion

Chameleon Arts Ensemble ravished with “water water everywhere… rippling, rumbling, streaming, showering….” at First Church Boston on Saturday. [continued]
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Chorus Pro Musica Runs Out to Distler

Chorus Pro Musica under Jamie Kirsch’s direction gave an hour-long concert in Distler Auditorium at Tufts University last night, enthusiastically received by an audience of about 200. [continued]
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Music and Morels

by Montie Meyer

The Mycelium Quartet rewarded a packed hall brimming with excitement and anticipation in the Music Monday series at the Scandinavian Center of Newton. [continued]
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Lexingtonian Anniversaries

The Lexington Symphony, Jonathan McPhee directing, honored its 29th season by combining with the Masterworks Chorale and Concord Chorus to fill the Carey Hall  stage and half the floor with gratifying closeness for a memorable Beethoven’s Ninth on Saturday and Sunday. [continued]
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Hamelin: Perfect Mechanics and Soul

Whenever Marc-Andre Hamelin—possessor of the universe’s most spectacular piano technique —plays, I do my best to show up…even in the wilds of Worcester. [continued]
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Halim: The Last Horowitz Pupil*

by Stephen Wigler

Eduardus Halim nailed the Hammerklavier and generally distinguished himself on April 23rd at Boston Conservatory’s Seully Hall. [continued]
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The BPYO Prepares for Europe

Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra paired Schumann’s Cello Concerto with Mahler’s Fifth at Symphony Hall on Friday. [continued]
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BSO Berlioz Catharsis

Friday’s Henry Lee Higginson Memorial Concert at Symphony Hall featured Andris Nelsons leading the BSO and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus in Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet. [continued]
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Remembering a “Choral Dean”

Recognition is 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]

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Pianists Will Compete

From June 6th-9th, Cambridge will host the 12th Boston International Piano Competition at the Longy School of Music’s Pickman Hall. From morning till evening, 40 extraordinary pianists — 20 men and 20 women — from all over the world, will pour out their hearts and souls. In the mornings they will participate in masterclasses, and in the afternoons on stage of the iconic Pickman Hall, they will compete before a five-member jury: Michael Lewin, Wayman Chin, Yukiko Sekino, Roberto Poli and Renana Gutman. They will be essaying a plethora of Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Debussy, and of course Liszt, alongside lesser-known composers like Kapustin, Shostakovich and Ligati. The 1st prize winner is invited to play in a future solo recital in Boston, and all winners receive cash prizes. 

By Friday evening the list of 40 will be whittled down to 20, and by Sunday to just five, each of whom will play a 30-minute final round. For a detailed schedule, click HERE. [continued]

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BSO Announces Next Concertmaster

Nathan Cole will take the Charles Munch chair at the start of the BSO’s 2024 Tanglewood season in July, becoming the orchestra’s 11th concertmaster since its founding in 1881. Cole succeeds Malcolm Lowe, who retired in 2019 after serving for 35 years (1984–2019) in the prestigious role. Cole will be only the fourth BSO concertmaster in the past 104 years. Andris Nelsons opines that “The BSO and I are very happy to warmly welcome Nathan Cole as the next concertmaster of our great orchestra. We had immense pleasure collaborating with Nathan last January on Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, and we look forward to embracing his leadership within the orchestra, exploring our joint musical values, and partnering on our artistic journey together to serve the great music both within and beyond our Boston community.”

According to the BSO, Cole will play a central role in focusing the orchestral ensemble and achieving unity of artistic approach. He will sustain and help develop the unique qualities of the BSO’s string section—qualities which have been the orchestra’s hallmark for decades. In selecting Nathan Cole for one of the most coveted positions in the orchestral world following an exhaustive process of auditions, Andris Nelsons and the BSO believe they have found an outstanding leader who will carry the orchestra to even higher levels of achievement. [continued]

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Remembering the Schwann Catalog

There’s a lot of information online about the history of the monthly Schwann Catalog, which started out as a listing of classical  records. We now refer to “vinyl” when we’re talking about LPs, but shellac was the medium in 1949 at the catalog’s debut. “By April 1973, the catalog numbered a robust (one might even say obese) 256 pages, listing a staggering 45,000 currently available disks by 814 labels, plus 8‐track tape cartridges and cassettes made by nearly 300 companies.”

He had sold it but continued to edit it until 1985. It operated into the late 90’s when the internet and record companies’ own websites rendered it obsolete.

William Joseph Schwann owned The Record Shop in Cambridge MA 1939-53; but in the 1950s I bought records so often from the nearby Briggs & Briggs in Harvard Square that they sometimes would give me a free expired copy of the catalog. Schwann was the first American publication I ever saw that gave abbreviated key designations with single letters, upper case for major, lower for minor (Grieg, “Piano Concerto in a,” Beethoven, “Piano Concerto no. 4 in G”), a practice I like, but the BMInt house style insists on redundancy: “Piano Concerto in A Minor” and “G Major”). The catalog itself had a funky air. I can remember one issue, around 1972, I think, that had a pastel portrait of Milton Babbitt on the cover. It amused us was to read all the listings for Vivaldi concertos during the years of Vivaldi mania: “Concerto for violin and orchestra” (two pages), “Concerto for two violins and orchestra” (one page), “Concerto for three violins and orchestra,” “Concerto for four violins and orchestra,” “Concerto for two violins, cello and orchestra,” “Concerto for violin, two cellos and orchestra” (half a column each), and, climactically, “Concerto for violin and two orchestras.” [continued]

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YouTube Phenom Coming This Way

Paul Fey, the young German concert organist, composer, and YouTuber will play a concert at Saint John’s Seminary, 127 Lake St., in Brighton  on Wednesday at 7:00 PM.  The program will feature works by J.S. Bach, Joseph Rheinberger, and several of Fey’s pieces, including his recently composed Variations on “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Admission is free but due to the chapel’s limited seating capacity, tickets should be obtained in advance HERE.

Born in 1998 near Leipzig, at 15 Fey discovered the pipe organ at a local church. He went on to study organ performance and sacred music at the Evanglische Hochschule für Kirchenmusik in Halle (Saale). He has also served as an assistant organist at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, working with the choir and playing both the 2000 “Bach organ” and the 1889 Sauer organ in the church.
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Crossing Boundaries of Geography and Genre

The Orchestra Without Borders returns to the stage on May 18th at the First Unitarian Society in Newton for a concert aimed at building bridges across continents and musical styles. The performance features soprano Hannah Shanefield in Odaline de la Martinez’s rarely performed Four Afro-Cuban Songs, a tribute to the humor and heart of Afro-Cuban culture, alongside a set of music from the Middle East, including a suite of Afghan songs by Boston-based Afghan composer Arson Fahim. These works will be presented in dialogue with jazz compositions by the acclaimed saxophone and piano duo of Jonathan Fagan and Michael Rosen. Together, jazz and classical ensembles forge a path across musical boundaries and diverse folk traditions, culminating in a performance of American composer Adolphus Hailstork’s contemplative work for strings, the Sonata da Chiesa. The concert was inspired by ― and will be accompanied by ― an art show whose proceeds benefit Communities Without Borders, a group known for its humanitarian work in Zambia.

Conductor Luca Antonucci sat down with both Fagan and Shanefield to discuss the appeal and the challenges of the unusual program, which aims to create a concert experience that opens new avenues to facets of classical music rarely encountered in the concert hall. [continued]