Why Was BPYO Tour So Special?


The three-year-old Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra returned a few weeks ago with 120 players and 15 adults from a 17-day tuitionless tour to some of the cultural centers of Europe. Their critically acclaimed performances of demanding programs in Prague, Berlin, Berne, Basel, and Lucerne deserve our notice, and incidentally our next chance to notice them    [continued]


Celebrating and Supporting Essential Voices


“The sedge is wither’d from the lake, / And no birds sing,” lamented Keats in “La Belle Dame sans Merci.” Imagine a silent Boston spring in which no songs rang forth from local stages, and in which no singers appeared to pour out their souls for us. Such emotive generosity cannot always extend through careers    [continued]

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On Playing the Harmonium with Odyssey Opera


When Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Die tote Stadt sweeps into Jordan Hall for its first performance in Boston in anyone’s memory, it will be thanks to Odyssey Opera’s presentation under Gil Rose of a concert version of the extravagant score with a large orchestra and excellent soloists. Tickets to the single performance on Saturday at 7:30pm can be    [continued]

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Radnofsky in Great Form at Jordan Hall


Saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky brought off his NEC faculty at Jordan Hall on Monday with deftness and spirit. Of the seven works on the program, three were written for Radnofsky through his World-Wide Concurrent Premieres and Commissioning Fund.    [continued]

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Pleasing Concerts, Harmonious Sounds


Soprano Dominique Labelle joined 16 instrumentalists led by violinist Daniel Stepner in Aston Magna’s 41st summer festival on Thursday night at Brandeis. The program will be repeated Friday at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, and Saturday at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington.     [continued]

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Reaching Far Inside For Gubaidulina


Sofia Gubaidulina is a composer from the inner reaches of the far out. International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) presented works dating from between 1980 and 1993: a narrow slice of the 81-year-old’s six decade career, but nonetheless an exciting and enlightening look at her chamber music, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum on Thursday night.     [continued]

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Wind Exhilarations at Kresge


In the Kresge Auditorium at MIT, a sizable crowd was on hand for a world premiere of a new work Saturday. Evan Ziporyn with the MIT Wind Ensemble gave an exhilarating first performance of Don Byron’s Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble.     [continued]

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Dead Men Walk Lively


Jake Heggie’s first opera, Dead Man Walking (2000), tells the story of a nun who becomes the spiritual advisor to a death row inmate. Last night’s performance by the Boston Opera Collaborative (with help from Boston City Singers) at The Somerville Theatre was far beyond thrilling. Further performances on  March 16, 17, and 18      [continued]


BYSO Provides Sound Beginnings


The performances on October 23 in Symphony Hall celebrated the beginnings of a new group of musicians in the inaugural concert of the BYSO’s 54th season. The Junior Repertory Orchestra under Adrian Slywotzky’s was up to the challenge of Mendelssohn’s incidental music for Athalia; of particular note was excellent work by the brass. Mark Miller and the Repertory Orchestra approached Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture with a steady diligence and commitment culminating in a vivid picture. BYSO Music Director Federico Cortese expected no less than the attention and abilities of a professional ensemble for the suite from Bartók’s Miraculous Mandarin and Beethoven’s “Pastoral.” We are privileged not only to be able to hear these concerts, but to witness these wonderful beginnings.     [Click title for full review.]    [continued]

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Students Spirited in NEC Candide


Bernstein’s Candide, a semi-staged production of the New England Conservatory Opera Department on February 28 at Jordan Hall, was one ebullient treat. Stephen Lord’s direction was masterful, first for his sure pacing. Chorus, orchestra and principals delivered spirited, inspired performances, con brio, with conservatory orchestra players largely recruited from the more junior of NEC’s full ensembles. Students Kuhn as Candide and Caraluzzi as Cunegonde matched their senior colleagues, guests Raines, Bybeek, and Meraw. We also nod approvingly to Tafone, Brand, and Miller.“Capture,” roughly five rows back, was only about 70%; Candide being so exceptionally funny, one regretted even the single lost word. Last night’s printed program was, on the contrary, lamentable.           [Click title for full review.]    [continued]


Boston Conservatory’s Mixed Seasonal Offerings


On Dec 10, the Boston Conservatory choruses and orchestra gave their Christmas season concert at Northeastern University’s Fenway Center. The concert showcased a high level of technical proficiency of the Conservatory students, although these aspiring professionals also displayed certain musical shortcomings frequently found among younger performers — successful performance within an ensemble as well as awareness and execution of melodic and harmonic shapes not found on the written page. Works included Michael Praetorius’s brief motet, Ecce Maria genuit, Randall Thompson’s cantata, The Place of the Blest, Daniel Pinkham’s Sinfonia Sacra, J.S. Bach’s Magnificat, and John Rutter’s Gloria, in which chorus and orchestra displayed a great deal of power and control, with a much stronger consideration of musical line and tonal contrast.         [Click title for full review.]    [continued]

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Austerity Felt at Good, though Tame, Glimmerglass Opera Festival


Austerity made its presence felt at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival this summer; but it nonetheless proved a good though somewhat tame festival: there was nothing inherently exciting about seeing Traviata, Cenerentola, Dido and Aeneas or even the nominal novelty, The Consul, nor — despite some baffling decisions in Sam Helfrich’s production of the Menotti — much new in the way they were presented. What made August 14’s performance of Traviata memorable was its lead, Mary Dunleavy, and her touching, romantic chemistry with Ryan MacPherson’s Alfredo. Malcolm MacKenzie, a highly competent Germont, exhibited a fine, substantial baritone but limited dynamic and expressive shading. Rebecca Jo Loeb made a sonorous, committed Annina. The next afternoon, Joseph Colaneri’s crisp, detailed conducting welcomely brought the orchestra up to a different level in Cenerentola. The palm went to Keith Phares’ Dandini, dapper as Clark Gable, channeling his high-quality lyric baritone with bracing agility. Jessica Jahn’s spot-on costumes merit praise. High musical values continued for that evening’s Consul, tautly led by Music Director David Angus. Sam Helfrich directed this uneven but enduringly timely “Broadway opera” as if to impress industry insiders already bored with the piece. In the third act Helfrich threw out Menotti’s carefully plotted stage directions altogether, so  that Magda remained in the waiting room, John was not dragged away, no oven was seen or heard: Menotti’s heroine apparently died of a willed excess of anomie. Kaye Voyce somehow had located the most hideous 1970s garments still extant. The four leads excelled, with Melissa Citro a major find. Dido and Aeneas (August 16), aptly sung by fine young voices, proved a treat despite some initially scratchy string playing under Michael Beattie and Dr. Miller’s having undercut any sense of stature or tragedy. Tamara Mumford looked and sounded beautiful as Dido, her mezzo boasting both sheen and impact. David Adam Moore gym-chiseled Aeneas combined power and sensitivity. Lovely-voiced Joélle Harvey and clarion countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo made a world-class Belinda and Sorceress. Cockney accents did not amuse. But, thanks to the strong soloists and wonderful choral singing, Purcell triumphed. [Click title for full review.]    [continued]

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Stimulating Presentation of Underplayed Repertoire


Despite a dubious use of the word “contemporary” (the newest piece dated from 1972), the recent program at the Goethe-Institut on November 13 was a stimulating presentation of underplayed repertoire. Surprising as it may sound, Floyd’s piece was the truly the most peculiar on the program. The passage of time has placed us in a world where Webern sounds like Schubert and avant-garde shock tactics are met with delight. Who in their right mind today would set out to write an extended soliloquy on the hardships of being Queen? [Click on title for full review]    [continued]

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