Remembering a “Choral Dean”

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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

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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  

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.
[continued]

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Crossing Boundaries of Geography and Genre

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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]

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Emerson String Quartet Now an Institute

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by George Tsontakis , composer

For the past eight seasons I have had the privilege of curating a local piano series in the town of Olive in New York’s Catskill Mountains, on a volunteer basis. It is a less-than-two-hour drive from Manhattan ― traffic permitting, of course ― which allows us to attract performers from New York and surrounding areas. They have been virtuoso level pianists who come to the Catskills to try out a program destined for a larger future venue. Decidedly, not for the modest honorarium which is largely based on ticket receipts.

Piano Plus! is the name I gave the series with the concept that each concert would be a solo piano recital, but that the featured soloist would bring along a “surprise” guest performer to collaborate for a short work. In effect a kind of cameo performer. In the past the Plus has been a singer, a violist, a vibe player, a flutist, etcetera. And in one fortunate instance, the Plus came in the form of another set of hands ― those of my wonderful Bard College colleague, the great Peter Serkin. Peter actually performed throughout the entire recital, offering a few of his four hands arrangements as well as a solo work. [continued]

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Rationalizing Loeffler’s Rat’s Nest

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It all began innocently enough, but detoured into a rabbit hole. When COVID started pinching off live performances, clarinetist, writer, composer, and occasional TED Talker Graeme Steele Johnson sought to pick up work writing program notes for some of the few ensembles who had not lowered their shutters. One such assignment was for a group performing, among other things, the Deux Rapsodies for oboe, viola and piano, probably the most-performed piece by the elusive, enigmatic Boston composer and violinist Charles Martin Loeffler (1861-1935). In doing his homework, Johnson, a Texas-born member of the touring wind quintet WindSync who studied under David Shifrin at Yale and Charles Neidich at CUNY, came across a reference to an octet (no, make that Octette) by Loeffler for two clarinets, harp, string quartet and contrabass that had been premiered in 1897 but has lain dormant ever since. Fascinated, (“it was curiosity and serendipity”) Johnson went hunting it down, found Loeffler’s manuscript score and a set of parts at the Library of Congress, but with and on them a rat’s nest of corrections, additions, deletions, and fugitive thoughts that made creating a performing edition anything but straightforward. Create it he did, however, and he and his “dream team” ensemble have freshly embarked on a tour to present the results, partly by way of also promoting the premiere recording of the piece to be released by Delos in June. We caught up with him via Zoom for more enlightenment. [continued]

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Remembering Brian Jones

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On Saturday Trinity Church will host a memorial service for its illustrious former music director at 10:00 AM (preludes at 9:30); this promises to be a beautiful and deeply moving celebration of the life of Brian Jones, featuring choral music pre-selected by him, sung by the present Trinity Choir, The Copley Singers, and other Trinity Choir “alumni” from his years as music director, and conducted by the current music director, Colin Lynch. A reception follows in the church’s undercroft. Livestream it HERE.

Last November the world of music lost an artist of extraordinary gifts in Brian Ernest Jones, and the larger world also lost a great humanitarian, bon vivant, raconteur, and all-around mensch. A man who cherished the English language, he was also one of the earliest writers to contribute concert reviews to the new Boston Musical Intelligencer blog started in 2008, and he recruited others (including myself) to follow his lead. The arc of his multi-faceted musical career spanned half a century, and his influence extended internationally. Having investigated colleges while studying at Phillips Exeter Academy, I was already very interested in his alma mater, Oberlin College, despite Exeter’s college placement director who could respect schools outside the Ivy League but actively discouraged students from making them their top preferences. Before meeting Brian, I had gotten to know and respect three accomplished musicians and teachers who were Oberlin alumni (one, in fact, chaired the music department at Exeter), but as the first “Obie organist” I met, Brian may well have provided the crucial reinforcement I needed in my senior year to stand my ground with that college placement director. Oberlin was then unique in the country as a college paired with a conservatory of music where one might pursue a double degree on one campus and receive twin bachelor’s degrees in liberal arts and music in five years. This cross-fertilization of world-class conservatory and college, coupled with the institution’s distinction as the country’s first coeducational and racially integrated college (well before the Civil War) seemed ideal to me.
[continued]

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A Final Flourish with Cappella Clausura

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by Cappella Clausura Board members Lawson Daves and Martha Hatch Bancroft

As Amelia LeClair’s tenure with Capella Clausura draws to a poignant close, the ensemble prepares for a grand finale this weekend: an ethereal rendition of Vespers by Chiara Margarita Cozzolani Accompanied by the celestial harmonies of the H+H Youth Choruses’ Chorus of Sopranos + Altos, this magnum opus promises to enrapture audiences with its resplendent melodies and transcendent beauty. With an ensemble comprised of an organ, gambas, theorbos, and choruses of men and women, the concert is poised to be an unforgettable performance—a fitting crescendo to LeClair’s illustrious legacy. Tickets HERE.

Beyond the music, this concert serves as a heartfelt farewell to a trailblazer whose passion and perseverance have reshaped the contours of classical music. It is a tribute to a luminary who dared to defy convention, carving a path for future generations of female musicians to follow. As attendees gather to witness the culmination of LeClair’s tenure, they are not merely spectators but participants in a historic moment. This concert is an ode to the enduring power of artistry and the boundless possibilities of the human spirit.

Cappella Clausura is the creation of Amelia LeClair. She was inspired by the disturbing lack of attention given to the music of women composers and formed an ensemble and an organization to fill this need. I have been a part of it since 2006. [continued]

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BSO To Drop Archora on Expectant Listeners

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Hrafn Asgeirsson photo

Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s latest major orchestral work, ARCHORA, will receive its Boston premiere performances in BSO subscription concerts (April 18th , 19th, 20th ) in which Andris Nelsons also will lead violinist Mozart’s Symphony No. 33 and, with Hilary Hahn,  Brahms’s Violin Concerto. The composer is one of ten recent winners of the generous Chanel Next Prize, which every other year recognizes ten international contemporary artists who advance the new and the next.

According to the NY Times, Thorvaldsdottir possesses “seemingly boundless textural imagination…Thorvaldsdottir is incapable of writing music that doesn’t immediately transfix an open-eared listener.” Our conversation with the composer follows.

FLE: You’ve provided very interesting notes which don’t really interfere with listening. Some composers tell us more than we need to know about the music and I think in general you like to let them use speak for itself.

AT: From my perspective, the music completely stands on its own when it is ready; it’s my job to communicate the music clearly via the score so that others can carry the music onwards. I really enjoy being at rehearsals and performances when it is possible, but there are so many performances all over the world that it is not possible to be at all of them, and people play the music wonderfully. My notation is very detailed and there are also recordings of my pieces that performers can listen to beforehand if they wish to.

Is there any freedom built into the Archora score? [continued]

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 Okeghem Takes Flight

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Blue Heron is at present very likely the only ensemble in the world to have sung every piece written by the great Johannes Okeghem. Building on this unique expertise, the ensemble will offer a selection of the master’s very best in the context of music by his contemporaries & colleagues at First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, 11 Garden Street, Cambridge on April 13th at 3:00. Tickets HERE. Music Director Scott Metcalfe self-interviews.

How did you first dive into the music of Okeghem and why did you want to perform all of his vocal music? What criteria did you employ to determine the authenticity and completeness?

Okeghem has been an important part of Blue Heron’s repertoire since our very first season in 1999-2000, when we sang a program featuring two of his four motets and a selection of his Mass settings. I always found his music wonderful (not to mention extraordinarily difficult), but it took a while for me to fall completely in love with it. [continued]

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BSO Announces Subscription Season

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Today’s announcement of the BSO’s 144th season raises expectations for many scores of both new and reawakened interests, as well as accommodating desires for a goodly provisioning of comfortable warhorses. The complete calendar is HERE. Though I would always regard any of Beethoven’s symphonies as welcome at any time, it’s somewhat surprising to see that the 2025 season includes all nine. That’s happened here only four of five times before, and only once consecutively—by Serge Koussevitzky in March 1927. 

We had no Mahler this season, but the coming one promises his enormous and inscrutable Eighth Symphony; this year’s Stravinsky lacuna will be remedied with the Violin Concerto, Symphony of Psalms, and Symphony in Three Movements, as well as the familiarly thrilling Firebird Suite. HIs first opera. Die tote Stadt (1920), instantly established the 23-year-old prodigy Wolfgang Korngold. Its many fine moments, such as the immortal “Marietta’s Lied,” convey the emotional wallop of his later Hollywood scores. 

A Grieg-Sibelius event, all warhorses except the Sib Seventh, comes in November. Executive director Chad Smith’s first complete season schedules embraces: plentiful Ravel and Tchaikovsky, including the latter’s less-often-heard Francesca da Rimini; copious Shostakovich, to help Andris Nelsons fill out his namesake cycle; some fine Haydn and Mozart to match Beethoven, one Schubert, the charming Rossinian Sixth Symphony; one Berlioz (Waverley); one Schumann (Piano Concerto with Jonathan Biss, welcome back!); and some lesser-known Russian works, including Rachmaninoff’s striking Symphony No. 3 (his best); and a lovely ancestor, The Enchanted Lake by Anatol Liadov. [continued]

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“What’s Going On” at Trinity

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Can you believe it? Berklee College musicians and the choir of Trinity Church, Boston, perform Motown hits, Sunday, April 7th at 5pm, free and open to all.  

Marvin Gaye’s groundbreaking 1971 album, What’s Going On? is full of loving outrage, asking questions—about injustice, poverty, drugs, violence, the environment, and war—that are every bit as timely now as they were a half century ago. The incomparable jazz singer Gabrielle Goodman, joined by a cadre of virtuoso Berklee colleagues and the Trinity Choir will perform works by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, and other Motown stars. Featured Berklee artists include longtime Nashville recording artist Donna McElroy, Berklee’s executive dean the drummer Ron Savage, renowned musicologist Emmet Price, and vocalist Larry Watson, who imparts to his ensembles the African axiom of Ubuntu, “I am because we are.”

As early as four years old, Marvin Gaye began singing in his Washington, DC, Pentecostal Church, with his father at the piano. By the 1960s he had achieved success, first in a gospel quartet and then with popular R&B love songs, singles, and duets with Tammie Terrell. Her early death from cancer sent Gaye into deep depression and disillusionment, about himself and the record industry. As he said to an interviewer: [continued]

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Beethoven’s Ninth Conference at BU

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Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony needs no tribute on its 200th birthday, but is being honored with repeat performances everywhere, including several nearby; on May 12th Lexington Symphony will essay it in a matinee.

Retired professors are often the only ones who have time to present research findings at conferences; thus a small cohort of Beethoven experts and their friends (even a few graduate students) gathered on Wednesday in Hillel House at Boston University to honor the forthcoming (on May 7th) bicentennial in “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony: a 200-year Perspective.” Organized by the founding co-directors of the Boston University Center for Beethoven Research, Jeremy Yudkin (Boston University) and Lewis Lockwood (Harvard), whose “Beethoven’s Lives: The Biographical Tradition” Boydell & Brewer recently published, the festival heard from six scholars including one visitor from overseas. Beate Angelika Kraus of the Beethoven Archive in Bonn has just prepared and published, based on dozens of different manuscript sources, what will likely be the definitive orchestral score of the Ninth Symphony for years to come. [continued]

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Atmospheric But Not Dreary

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Odyssey Opera, in partnership with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), presents the New England premiere of Dominick Argento’s opera The Voyage of Edgar Allan Poe, on Friday, April 5, 2024, ay the Huntington Theater in Poe’s birthplace of Boston. For one-night only, the Grammy Award-winning conductor Gil Rose leads a formidable cast including tenor Peter Tantsits as Poe, the Odyssey Opera chorus, the acclaimed BMOP orchestra in a semi-staged version. A world premiere studio recording will follow on BMOP/sound. Synopsis and history HERE. Tickets HERE  An interview with the conductor follows.

FLE: We’ve talked many times, but I’ve never actually delved into your biography at all. So what guru or mentor formed your interest in looking up unjustly neglected works?

GR: Oh, Wow, it’s a good question. You stumped me right out of the gate.

One person that had a big effect on me was the author Joe Horowitz. The arguments he made in some of his books like “Understanding Toscanini” and “Wagner Nights and other ones. “The Ivory Trade”…  they just resonated with me about something unhealthy about the systems under which our orchestras and opera companies operate. That’s where it all came from. [continued]

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A Long Road of Remembrance and Hope

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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

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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 creative output, although she had a recognized period of success in the 1950s and early ‘60s and kept writing through a prolonged illness. It’s a [continued]

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Celebrating Lutheran Master’s 339th Birthday

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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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Visiting Aucoin’s Underworld

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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

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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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