Winsor Music’s remarkably visceral works On Sunday at St. Paul’s in Brookline centered on Milad Yousufi’s My Journey to America. The first half featured six choral preludes from Alan Fletcher’s recent arrangements of selections from Bach’s Orgelbüchlein, a passionate and thrilling performance of Philip Glass’s Mad Rush, and a short Hippocratic Oath for the Spirit    [continued]

After you’ve celebrated your 75th season, what do you do for your 76th? This is a question which the Methuen Memorial Music Hall trustees had a year to ponder. Last year, 2021, they celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Hall’s acquisition and incorporation as a nonprofit community educational and cultural center. A tough anniversary to follow! [our article from last year HERE]

But this year marks another major observance for the Hall, the 75th anniversary of the rededication of the Great Organ, following its 1946-47 renovation by G. Donald Harrison and the Aeolian Skinner Organ Company. This anniversary, plus the reopening of the Hall to the public for the full 2022 summer concert season, following COVID-necessitated closures in 2020 and 2021, is something worth celebrating.

In recent years, Methuen has opened its 15-week Wednesday evening summer organ series with a Young Artists Concert, featuring emerging organ talents.  This year’s opener, on May 25, will be the Hall’s most ambitious program in that vein – a “Pipedreams Live!” concert, emceed by Michael Barone, host of American Public Media’s syndicated program, “Pipedreams.”  Six young organists, ranging from 16 to 21 years of age, will perform a variety of pieces, both well and lesser known. (complete program HERE). The concert will also be recorded for broadcast on “Pipedreams” later this summer. [continued…]

The Boston Chamber Music Society offered the String Quintet, Op. 77, of Dvořák, and the Clarinet Quintet in F-sharp Minor, Op. 10 of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) at Jordan Hall on Sunday, to conclude its season.    [continued]

The Staff and Trustees of Harvard Radio Broadcasting (WHRB-FM) invite us to join them on the afternoon of Friday, May 13th for the broadcast/livestream of a service and concert in the Memorial Church, Harvard, Yard, honoring David Elliott (1942-2020) and his 58 years of service to Harvard Radio and the greater Boston classical music community. The service will begin at 3:00pm and will include music selected by David, including the well-known hymns For all the Saints, Abide with Me, and Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, and the aria “Mary’s Prayer” from Douglas Moore’s opera The Devil and Daniel Webster, sung by Amanda Forsythe. Kathy Fay, Executive Director of the Boston Early Music Festival, will be one of the speakers.
A concert will follow immediately at 4:00 pm with the following program and performers:


Winsor Music’s “My Journey to America” features the in-person world premiere of the title work by Afghan composer Milad Yousufi. His mentor, the Grammy-nominated concert pianist Simone Dinnerstein, will be playing in three other pieces on Sat., May 14th (7 pm) and Sun., May 15th (4 pm) at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 15 St. Paul Street in Brookline, Mass. BMInt spoke with Winsor’s co-Artistic Director Rane Moore and pianist Simone Dinnerstein.

FLE: Why is this concert special for Winsor Music?

This concert is special not only because we are featuring the incredible pianist Simone Dinnerstein, but also because the programming and guests beautifully embody Winsor Music’s ideals: mentorship, service, musical excellence, healing through music.

RM: How did you first connect with Simone?

Simone, who is one of the most acclaimed interpreters of Bach in her generation, originally contacted Winsor Music after hearing our Founder and Director Emeritus Peggy Pearson’s recordings of Bach with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

Simone, you’re making two appearances this month—one at Emmanuel Music Bach Symposium, one at Winsor this weekend, and then again at Emmanuel in June.

SD: It’s strange how these things happen. Some years I play a lot in Boston, some years I don’t. This time it’s just a happy accident. After the Bach Symposium on May 13th, and Winsor on the 14th and 15th, I’m coming back on June 4th with two Bach, concertos, and an arrangement of Chorale Prelude that Philip Lasser arranged for piano and strings.

Tell us about your history with Winsor Music [continued…]

Famed mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe channeled her alter ego, dramatic tenor, Blythely Oratonio in a one-act, autobiographical drag show for Boston Lyric Opera Friday night at the quaint Royale Boston.    [continued]

Veteran violinist Cho-Liang Lin collaborated with the experienced chamber music cellist Clive Greensmith and the young Finish pianist Juho Pohjonen in an attractive mixed program for the Foundation of Chinese Performing Arts at Jordan Hall on Saturday night.    [continued]

Opening on September 22nd with Holst’s view of our solar system in orbit, Boston Symphony Orchestra inks a season of vibrancy and variety. Eighteen works by living composers, including seven world- and American premieres will share the stage with a Nelsons-led concert performance of Act III of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, the continuation of the Shostakovich cycle, and signature repertoire works by Bach, Beethoven, Bernstein, Brahms, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky. Click HERE for the complete calendar. Subscription renewals are open now, and general ticketing beings on August 8th.

Mark DeVoto opines: “The BSO’s 142nd season includes much to admire and anticipate with pleasure: A number of new works by young and promising composers, including even a few Americans; many young guest conductors; a relatively low quotient of tired warhorses (Sibelius 5, Strauss Alpensymphonie, Enescu Rumanian 1), and a few grand old long-neglected but beloved warhorses (Planets, Rachmaninoff 2 — good to see those fellows listed again). BSO last did Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, a piece I derided as bad-taste in my callow youth but now recognize as an inspired work of genius, at Symphony Hall in 2016 and Tanglewood in 2018 Over the years it trended toward status as a Pops staple. Some unexpected rarely-heard major items are planned as well: Mozart’s B-flat Major  Piano Concerto, K. 456, which I heard with delight 30 years ago in Symphony Hall (Orpheus with Radu Lupu); Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade for violin and orchestra, a much more valuable piece than the drab Chichester Psalms with which it shares the program; Mahler’s Sixth Symphony (an entire concert!), which back in 1966 the BSO actually recorded with Leinsdorf, and stunningly; Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin Suite, of surpassing orchestral brilliance.  Stravinsky’s 1947 Petrushka (only a connoisseur recognizes it as orchestrally inferior to the original 1911 version) and Perséphone, which aesthetically is not to every Stravinskyan’s taste. We’re getting rather too much Shostakovich, as usual, but this is one of Andris Nelsons’s current fixations and we have to give in to him; at least we get both of the piano concertos on a single concert. If Rachmaninoff seems too heavily represented with three works, at least we will hear the Symphonic Dances, his last composition (and IMHO his best — remind me to tell you how it sums up his achievement). A whole evening of Wagner’s Tannhäuser! And a tribute to Lili Boulanger with her charming D’un Matin de printemps; though it should be no one else’s concern, this is gratifying to me also because I have been president, off and on for 40 years, of the struggling Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund, Inc., which has promoted her legacy. So what of the weak spots in the season? Well, Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto is pretty bad, and so is Górecki’s Symphony no. 3; and I wish management included more American classics, such as works by Copland or Piston who were performed all the time when they were alive. I suppose you can consider Bloch’s Schelomo an American classic; I remember when Samuel Mayes played it at Tanglewood in the summer of 1959 when Bloch died, so it will be good once more to hear the “voice crying in the wilderness,” like much else we hear every day. ” [continued…]

The Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra’s Symphony Hall concert of Russian masters on Friday night disclosed an ensemble fully armed artistically for its upcoming embarkation upon a tour of Greece.    [continued]

From the years of pandemic in medieval France, the touching, bittersweet story of Machaut and his impossible romance with an admiring poetess. Their ensuing epistolary relationship, recorded and recounted in Machaut’s novel Le livre du voir dit, leads to intense joy and deep sorrow, and to some of the Machaut’s most profoundly felt musical and literary works.

Camerata’s performance at First Church Boston on May 7th at 8:00 includes celebrations for Camerata Music Director Emeritus Joel Cohen’s 80th birthday and Artistic Director Anne Azéma’s elevation to Officier of the French Order of Arts and Letters.

Ticketing HERE, with on-demand streaming from May 20 – June 5.

We perform Guillaume de Machaut’s marvelous music because of its intrinsic qualities of grace, elegance, formal perfection, and (we learn, more and more) deep feeling. He is rightly remembered in our time as, above all, an inspired composer, the most gifted of his generation. Yet the musical sounds are only a part of his achievement. The story –with– songs he tells in the Livre du Voir Dit is also, despite its frequent prolixity, a literary masterpiece. By retelling this tale, basing ourselves on Machaut’s, and Peronne’s own words, along with music, much of it intended for insertion into his verse novel, we attempt to evoke a whole: musical genius, the suffering of an aging churchman, the perky élan of a young female poetess, the quest for transcendence over mortal cares and infirmities via a transcendent love. [continued…]

In the Takács Quartet’s Celebrity Series apearance with bandoneonist Julien Labro at First Church in Cambridge on Saturday, the players coaxed out subtleties — both improvised and carefully planned — that drew on a set of traditional and well-known themes.    [continued]

The Celebrity Series of Boston’s next season will mark its 84th year with 77 subscription events featuring a vast variety of artistic genres, generations of performers, and diverse performances including 25 classical concerts. Expanded programming will offer new venues to explore, artist debuts, beloved returning artists, and in-person and streaming options for both the ticketed and free Neighborhood Arts events. Click HERE for the complete classical listings. The glossy seasonal brochure is HERE.

Gary Dunning, President and Executive Director of the Celebrity Series of Boston, says, “Our commitment to support racial diversity and center equity, inclusion, and accessibility both on stage and behind the scenes constitute a continuing key strategic goal for the organization.” [continued…]

Fermata Chamber Soloists will present Carl Stamitz’s Viola Concerto and the Boston premier of Le Chevalier de St. Georges’s Violin Concerto Op. 5 No. 2 in A Major. at the Somerville Armory, 191 Highland Ave. on Sunday May 8 at 3pm. One can read a review of a recent local performance of the overture to his opera L’amant anonyme HERE.

The life of Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (ca 1739-1799) is the stuff of legends. Perhaps the most multi-talented and unique composer in all of western art music (and certainly for his time), this man was an athlete, military commander, violinist, teacher and composer. Born in 1745 on the island of Guadeloupe to a slave and George de Boulogne, a member of the French Parliament, it wasn’t until the mixed-race Joseph was 13 years old that he wound up in France. In many ways, Boulogne is a romantic hero, complete with the quintessential once-in-a-century talent, and general rejection from society at large typical of such figures. By the age of 17, Boulogne was the greatest fencer in Europe, a master equestrian, and a fine marksman with a pistol. It is a wonder that this man found any time for music, let alone enough time to completely master the violin. [continued…]

A dedicated group of musicians, mainly Rivers Conservatory faculty, gave a benefit concert on Saturday for Sunflower of Peace, a Cambridge-based organization aiding Ukraine, at the Rivera Recital Hall of Rivers Conservatory.    [continued]

(Marco Borggreve photo)

Blaise Déjardin, BSO principal cellist since 2018, makes his concerto début in next week’s subscription concerts. For the program of riveting 20th century Germanic music, including Strauss’ Eine Alpensinfonie, Déjardin’s choice of Saint-Saëns’s Cello Concerto No.1 provides a melodic 19th century French contrast.

The upcoming concerts cap a recent winning streak by our native son. In February, it was announced that Blaise was to join the illustrious faculty at his alma mater, the NEC, this coming fall. Then March saw the arrival of Déjardin’s newest Opus Cello publication: an orchestral audition-day guide, written by a cellist for cellists (or so it may seem upon first glance).

Auditions serve as the challenging entrance exams for all aspirants to seats in an orchestra. Behind the now-obligatory anonymous audition screen sit the gatekeepers: a conductor and a jury of peers and potential colleagues. Intense preparation, and what some might say a lifetime of experience, will suffice only for a very few contenders. What makes the winning difference? Blaise Déjardin’s new book “Audition Day: Your Guide for a Successful Orchestral Cello Audition” aims to provide an insider’s approach to niche success. This new guide seeks to dispel the mysteries of the screen and illuminate a methodical, logical, and psychological preparatory course of action.

Déjardin’s publication goes beyond the mere technical tips and rudiments of orchestral playing; rather, it speaks to an organized and structured musicianship at its most effective. While the excerpts are concrete, what is less-so is the preparation process that a musician may implement before enduring such a professional feat. The first and most unique section of this book deals with this regimen. The second section discusses the often-required orchestral excerpts from the standard repertoire. [continued…]

The superlative Romanian pianist Radu Lupu died April 17, in Switzerland, following long illness. He was 76. In his 20s, after winning several of the major competitions of the later 1960s, Radu Lupu began an international career with intensely focused recordings of repertory — late Brahms, “late” Schubert — which was not then at all overplayed.

Unlike the case with most others of his cohort, everything Lupu produced was imbued with a grave, long thought-about stillness and deep intention. It sounded unshowy and largely straightforward, at least this repertory, but also was above all quite consciously colored: Lupu felt that tone production was a “matching process for which [one] practices” and the physical contact of the keyboard was “a very individual thing determined by the color or timbre you hear and try to get, the piece you are playing, the phrase.” (His teachers had taught Lipatti and Richter.) [continued…]

Anthony Leon (Boxer) rehearses

A triple header of three one-act operas will place ten performances on the Plympton-Shattuck Black Box infield over the four days spanning April 22-24. Faculty Stage Director Joshua Major will be joined by his father, Leon, to direct NEC Graduate Opera Vocalists, and Robert Tweten will conduct: Jack Perla’s An American Dream, a contemporary account of the displacement of Japanese-Americans during WWII; Purcell’s haunting tale of love and sacrifice, Dido and Aeneas, and Ravel’s magical and joyous L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. The conservatory will be asking $10 per show or $25 for all three. Details appear at the end of this feature.

BMInt had an interesting conversation with Joshua and Leon Major.

FLE:  Tell us why you are playing three one-act operas separately over several nights.

JM: It has to do with COVID, the number of students, the level of students and the kind of singers we have. Bottom line, we’re constantly programming for the singers we have. So in this case we planned for our singers last Fall under the COVID NEC protocols:  Under 90 minutes, no intermission and time for the rooms to ventilate.

Last year our singers got almost no live performing experience and we wanted to catch up a little and give these students a little more stage time, but we had to work with the conditions already mentioned. So we came up with this plan to do three-one act operas, but we had to do it so that each opera had its own time window. We couldn’t do an evening of two one-acters or three one-acters without violating the rules

And so we have 10 performances in four days, and two, of the three are double cast.

I was going to direct all of them, but it became apparent that might not have been the smartest idea. So I dragged my father out of retirement. That’s Leon. You’re my father, right? [continued…]

Symphony Hall resonated Thursday with instrumental singing. Under guest conductor Alan Gilbert, La Mer chanted, swept with sensations and brushed colors, Bernard Rands echoed Debussy obliquely, and Joshua Bell “sang” in Beethoven.    [continued]

Ten years ago cellist-composer Sebastian Bäverstam began a compositional journey which will reach a significant waypoint on Saturday, May 28th at 3:00 at Church of the Covenant, Boston with the premiere of his cello concerto, once upon a time dubbed “Superman” (after Nietzsche).

Not only will the concert mark the premiere of the 40-minute concerto, it will also debut the 60-piece Vangarde Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble* slated to offer many more Bäverstam works, including a symphony and opera. Max Hobart has agreed to lead the orchestra in this inaugural concert. His willingness to champion this work “is a huge honor and privilege for me, both personally and professionally.” Bäverstam tells the quixotic  genesis saga:

My professional life during the pandemic has alternated regularly between utterly inactive and completely overloaded. The scheduled premieres for the cello concerto I finished composing in 2019 were cancelled, with no rescheduling in sight. The first few months of 2020 were subsequently quite difficult for me. I had just returned from studying composition at the Royal Conservatory of Stockholm with Per Mårtensson, where I finished composing this cello concerto. The final movement theme acted as a sort of personal mantra during the nine months it took me to complete while I was bustling about Stockholm, attending classes on electronic music, renaissance counterpoint, orchestration, and teaching private students. Though I had to cut my studies short for personal reasons, I was excited to come home and play my heroic piece of music for American audiences right away. [continued…]

BMOP painted a well-received musical portrait of its resident composer Ellen Taaffee Zwilich at Jordan Hall on Friday evening. Her compositional voice relies heavily on contrasts among different instruments, rhythms, dynamics, and styles in a melodic yet refreshingly modern manner.    [continued]