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Emmanuel Music’s Passion Moves to Tears

Emmanuel Music Conductor Ryan Turner artfully managed two choirs on stage, as well as the all-boys Saint Paul’s choir in the right balcony above the stage in Sunday’s signal account of Bach’s Passion According to St. Matthew. [continued]
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Festival Celebrates Julia Perry’s 100th

Today, March 25th, would have been the 100th birthday of this composer whose music is now poised on both rediscovery and discovery. [continued]
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Gaia: BSO in a Shorter Symphony

A jazz quartet with one-of-a-kind vocalist-bassist, esperanza spalding, and the BSO with Clark Rundell contributed to “Celebrating the Symphonic Legacy of Wayne Shorter” Thursday evening. The spectacular voice, and fulfilling message should not be missed. [continued]
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Composing for 37 Years at MIT

In the intimate but acoustically reassuring Killian Hall, with the cooperation of Collage New Music, the MIT Music Department hosted an evening of Peter Childs’s recent works. [continued]
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Yefim Bronfman Dazzles Groton

Yefim Bronfman’s piano recital for the Concord Chamber Music Society at the beautiful new Groton Hill Music Center impressed me deeply last Sunday. [continued]
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Mesmeric Gallicthumpery

Imagine being in a packed Symphony Hall, listening to three beloved masterpieces played by a terrific orchestra, a brilliant, very young competition winner, and a conductor (also very young), who … [continued] [continued]
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BAE: “Worlds Apart”

Fauré and Messiaen, both adventurous, both colorists, one subtle, one bold, were “Worlds Apart” in BAE’s take at St. Paul’s Church, Brookline on Sunday. [continued]
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Exuberant and Eternal: Beethoven’s 9th

Conductor Raphaël Pichon possesses a knack for the daring and dramatic. His bold direction reveals an uncommon verve from even the most familiar score. And it helps that he often … [continued] [continued]
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Exciting, Colorful, Varied

Friday afternoon’s BSO subscription concert, one of the most interesting musical events I have attended in many months, centered on a commissioned work and also contained a fine cohort of less-often-heard masterpieces, masterfully directed by a visiting expert, Sir Mark Elder, director of the Hallé Orchestra of Manchester. [continued]
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A Long Road of Remembrance and Hope

The oratorio O Lungo Drom (The Long Road) is an authentic testimony of the Sinti and Roma people, whose journey since time immemorial has been shrouded by poetic and popular imagination. It finds its voice for the first time here directly through the words of Sinti/Roma poets and writers, set to music by Roma composer Ralf Yusuf Gawlick. This oratorio will receive its joint U.S. premières on April 5th at College of the Holy Cross and the 6th at Boston College, with soprano Clara Meloni, baritone Christoph Filler, cimbalomist László Rácz and the Alban Berg Ensemble Wien, the same cast performing on the world première recording recently released on Decca Eloquence Australia. Harpsichordist Peter Watchorn, a professor at Boston College and co-founder, executive producer and CEO of the record label Musica Omnia (which hosts seven Gawlick recordings), recently spoke with the composer.

PW: In the past decade, you have shared your thoughts with BMInt’s readership on three previous occasions, each time prior to the première of a major new work: Missa gentis humanæ, Kollwitz-Konnex (… im Frieden seiner Hände) and Herzliche Grüße Bruno ~ Briefe aus Stalingrad. Why now a work on the Sinti and Roma? [continued]

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Julia Perry Fêted

The Julia Perry Centenary Celebration and Festival in New York City,  running March 13th-16th, reveals a significant composer who has been known by only a very small fragment of her … [continued] [continued]
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Saxophonist Debuts

English saxophonist Jess Gillam’s Celebrity Series debut with American pianist Thomas Weave on Tuesday evening at Pickman Hall eclectically spanned the Renaissance to the here and now. [continued]
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Celebrating Lutheran Master’s 339th Birthday

Boston’s annual celebration of all things Bach returns to First Lutheran Church of Boston on Saturday, March 23rd. Founded 17 years ago and occurring every year since (excepting only the unfortunate cancellation of the event at the last minute during the initial COVID-19 quarantine), the annual Boston Bach Birthday draws hundreds each year in celebration of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contributions to music. Held on the Saturday nearest Bach’s March 21st birthday, it is an all-day festival of concerts featuring the music of Bach, those who influenced him, and those who were influenced by him. All musical events are free and open to the public.

Begun in 2008 as a celebration of “Boston’s Bach Organ,” the Richards, Fowkes & Co. opus 10 pipe organ traditionally features prominently at the Bach Birthday, and 2024 is no exception. Three organists will play recitals, beginning with FLC Kantor Jonathan Wessler at 9:00am. Continuing his series of “sets” of organ works by Bach (the Great Eighteen organ chorales in 2021, the Orgel-Büchlein in 2022, and the Six Trio Sonatas in 2023), this year FLC Kantor Jonathan Wessler starts off the day with the complete chorale partitas of Bach. The four authentic Bach partitas will be preceded by three earlier partitas attributed to Bach. Wessler returns to the bench for the prelude to Vespers begins at 4:15pm, offering chorale preludes by Bach, Sweelinck, and Reincken on Lutheran chorales for Lent. At 11:25 Fred MacArthur will play smaller-scale Bach organ favorites. Fred is one of Boston’s most revered organists, having studied with the legendary Boston organist and pedagogue George Faxon. And finally, organist Jerrick Cavagnaro is a new face to the Boston organ scene, albeit one with a deep résumé: not only is he the new associate director of music at Trinity Church, but he was also a competitor in the most recent Boston Bach International Organ Competition, and has just been announced as a semifinalist in the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance. His 1:30 program features music in the keys of E, F, and G. [continued]

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Dancing on the Edge of Tonality

The Grammy-nominated JACK Quartet performed six virtuosic works―four by living composers—Sunday afternoon at a sold-out Calderwood Hall. [continued]
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Musica Sacra Warms to Minimalism

Musica Sacra’s Danish modernist guest conductor Heinrich Christensen put together a very well-engineered and very well sung Pilgrim’s Progress of minimalism last night at First Church in Cambridge. [continued]
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Summiting a Keyboard Everest

Minsoo Sohn gave stunning accounts of Liszt’s Consolations and Transcendental Etudes in the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts concert series at Jordan Hall on Friday. [continued]
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BSO Does Theatrical Peer Gynt

The Boston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Dima Slobodeniouk, presented Edvard Grieg’s complete incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt in a theatrical adaptation conceived, written, and directed by Bill Barclay. Soprano Georgia Jarman, eight actors (playing 18 roles), and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus shared the stage. [continued]
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45, 85: A Triumphant Celebration

What a hallmark event for the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra! Sunday’s concert celebrated partentBPO’s 45th anniversary and the “life and legacy” of the beloved Music Director-Founder over that span. [continued]
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Civic Voicings

On the verge of its centennial, a full-size Boston Civic Symphony thundered through Carl Nielsen’s Inextinguishable, dreamed Claude Debussy’s Faune, and introduced 16-year-old competition winner violinist Dana Chang in Henri Wieniawski’s second concerto on Sunday afternoon. [continued]
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Nordic Mythos and Majesty at the BSO

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s “Music of the Midnight Sun” cycle concluded this past Saturday with sonic glimpses of Nordic mythos and majesty. John Storgårds helmed and violinist Pekka Kuusisto soloed. [continued]
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Together and “At Odds”

Conductor-less but not rudderless, A Far Cry’s “At Odds” celebrated the concerto grosso, which pits a small group of soloists against the forces of the ensemble at-large, at Jordan Hall on Friday night. [continued]
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Psychopomp Evokes Germanians’ Lighter Side

Duo-pianists Xiaopei Xu and Chi-Wei Lo carefully winnowed, rearranged, and improved 19th-century favorites and forgettables from the library of the Harvard Musical Association. [continued]
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Cleaving Eurydice from Orpheus

Carolyn Abbate opens “In Search of Opera” (2001) linking the genre of opera with the butchery that severs Orpheus’ voice from his dismembered body. Sarah Ruhl, in her 2003 play … [continued] [continued]
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The Odesa Boys Connect

The mesmerizing duo of acclaimed clarinetist Julian Milkis and virtuosic pianist Maxim Lubarsky ranged widely across a diverse repertoire for the Ballets Russes Arts Initiative sponsored event at Congregation Kehillath Israel on Thursday. [continued]
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Visiting Aucoin’s Underworld

Boston area favorite-son composer Matthew Aucoin reached a pinnacle of recognition in November of 2021 at the Metropolitan Opera, where his opera Eurydice (book and libretto by Sarah Ruhl) vividly and artfully retold the Orpheus-plus myth from the tragedienne’s perspective. The underworld has never since been the same.

“It’s not surprising that a tale about the greatest musician in history, a man who could make the very stones weep when he performed, keeps appealing to his descendants. The scenario offers composers a wedding party, a tragic death, an evocation of what lies beyond, an attempt at resurrection, a plangent lament — opportunities to shine, and to place themselves in a grand tradition.”  NYT 2021

For the Boston Lyric Opera’s production, Aucoin reduced the orchestration demands considerably, but according to our interview subject, award-winning bass-baritone Mark S. Doss*, who plays the newly added role of Eurydice’s father, “…the sound is quite incredible.”

The show runs March 1st through the 10th at the Huntington Theater. Tickets HERE.

FLE: Mark, I didn’t know there was a father in this legend. [continued]

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NEP Piques Our Interest

New England Philharmonic’s “New Music New England” [tickets HERE] celebrates our region and features Grammy-winning organ soloist Paul Jacobs on Sunday March 3rd at 3:00 pm at the Boston University Tsai Performance Center. In a concert which also includes, Wang Lu’s Surge (2022), Ives’s Three Places in New England (1935), David Sanford’s Thy Book of Toil (2014), a pair of works by composers we know, Kati Agócs and John Harbison, particularly piqued our interest.

John Harbison’s What Do We Make of Bach? for orchestra with organ obbligato  premiered in October 2018 with the Minnesota Orchestra, conductor Osmo Vänskä, and organist Paul Jacobs.  Agócs summarizes her Perpetual Summer (2010) for BMInt readers below, and our interviews with Perpetual Summer with Harbison and Jacobs follow. [continued]

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Will Symphonies Survive?

 Jared Hackworth

What barriers bar the uninitiated from classical concerts? Could the BSO maintain its Big Five prestige and remain accessible to new audiences? To investigate, I attended all three of the BSO’s January concerts: a sold-out presentation of León, Ravel, and Stravinsky; a concert production of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mitsensk District; and a “Casual Friday” concert of Stravinsky. I found dwindling audiences entirely enraptured by the music of one of the world’s best orchestras.

Covid had placed performing arts in freefall. Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, said this week that “For most people, the pandemic is over. For arts institutions, we’re still in it,” reporting the need to “withdraw $40 million in additional emergency funds” due to a capacity rate of around “73%.” The New York Philharmonic’s audience is 62% over 55. During the pandemic, these attendance rates plummeted—in 2019, the Pittsburgh Symphony sold around 70% of tickets; in 2022, that fell to 37%. The Cleveland Orchestra still hovered between 54% sales in the fall of 2022 and 67% in 2023. These data suggest that not only are classical music audiences often older, but they are also, in large numbers, not returning to the concert hall after Covid. [continued]

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Zander & BPO Realize Composers’ Visions

Saturday night’s Boston Philharmonic concert at Symphony Hall commenced with Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte. The resulting enchantment, reinforced by the BPO’s cool and self-assured execution, opened a gripping evening. [continued]
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For the Love of It

My first hearing of the 29-year-old New Philharmonia Orchestra left me wondering why I waited so long. The relaxed yet expectant, ambience furthered the feel of “a community,” as the Philharmonia envisions itself. [continued]
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H + H Keeps Tradition Alive with Harry

Over the weekend the Handel & Haydn Society welcomed back Conductor Laureate Harry Christophers to Symphony Hall for its yearly portion of Mozart and Haydn. Predictable selections of those two composers capped the ends of event, but the addition of music from Hildegard von Bingen and Raffaella Aleotti gave the audience a rewarding exploration of nearly 700 years of composition. [continued]