H+H Ends Three-Year Search

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The Handel and Haydn Society has invited acclaimed conductor, cellist, and keyboardist Jonathan Cohen to lead the nation’s oldest performing arts organization into its next chapter of musical excellence. At 44, he becomes the organization’s 15th Artistic Director, and one of its youngest.

Cohen made his debut with the Society in 2020 in a memorable performance of Haydn’s Symphony No. 6, Le Matin and Symphony No. 92, Oxford, along with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1. He returned in 2022 to tackle three jewels of the Baroque era, Vivaldi’s Gloria; CPE Bach’s Magnificat, and J.S. Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 1. Cohen kicked off the 2022-23 Season in October to rave reviews with H+H with Glories of Bach, He is set to return December 15th and 18th to conduct H+H’s “A Baroque Christmas” at Jordan Hall.

We had a very interesting talk with him and H+H executive director David Snead:

FLE: After three years of getting rejections from one conductor, after another [laughter], you finally chose Jonathan Cohen as the Music Director Designate.

DS: We had a very thorough and deliberate process. I always said the search will take as long as it needed to and no longer and that’s where we ended up. [continued…]

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H+H Presents the Most Human of Operas

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Raphaël Pichon will conduct.

The Handel and Haydn Society is set to take on one of anyone’s greatest works with its semi-staged interpretation of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro. Raphaël Pichon, founder and artistic director of Pygmalion Ensemble, will lead on November 17th and 18th at 7:00 PM at Symphony Hall. World-renowned soprano Ying Fang as Susanna, soprano Jacquelyn Stucker as Countess Almaviva, bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum as Count Almaviva, and bass Krzysztof Baczyk as Figaro will be joining the H+H Orchestra and Chorus. James Darrah, Grammy nominated producer and Artistic Director of Long Beach Opera, will stage-direct and design the performance. We talked with H+H Executive Director David Snead and Darrah yesterday.

FLE: David, how did this week’s Marriage of Figaro come to be?

DS: Raphaël Pichon likes doing projects. His Pygmalion Ensemble from France doesn’t do seasons, they do events projects. He loves doing things at unusual venues. He did a Brahms Requiem in a submarine base, for instance. The idea of doing Figaro was his and it’s also a new experience for our musicians. Raphael had an incredible cast to recommend, so we just thought it would be a great thing to have to in our season.

He was a discovery for me. I had never heard of Pygmalion Ensemble before you sent the press release. I was very impressed with what I heard. He’s very engaged and emotional about his conducting.

It’s been a very big, exciting project to do in two weeks. It’s not just going to be stand and bark. There’ll be interactions and a lot of blocking. There’s going to be strong acting. The singers will be in costume and off book. [continued…]

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An American in Berlin

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American-born violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley, the Berliner Philharmoniker’s principal concertmaster, will be featured soloist in Mozart’s Violin Concerto no. 1 when the orchestra appears at Symphony Hall on behalf of the Boston Celebrity Series Boston on November 13th at 8:00 [Tickets]. Joel Cohen, music director emeritus of the Boston Camerata and an occasional contributor to this publication, recently had an online, Boston-to Berlin chat with this gifted performer. A lightly edited transcript of their conversation follows.

J.C: Welcome to Boston, Noah Bendix-Balgley. Are you in fact the first American concert master of the Berliner Philharmoniker?

NBB: Yes, as far as I know. Of course, the orchestra is very international, and there are a number of Americans currently serving. [Note: The Berliner press office identifies five American-born musicians on the roster]

In any case you are a pioneer in that sense. My impression is that English is one of the working languages of the orchestra. [continued…]

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Luise Vosgerchian Centennial

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Today is the 100th birthday of a great musician who died in 2000. The renowned Luise  Vosgerchian was adored for decades as one of the most dynamic and progressive pianists and teachers ever in the entire Boston area.    [continued]

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Harmony as a Cross Section of a Life

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Rachmaninoff filled his three Symphonic Dances, op. 45, (1940) with modern-Romantic harmony, including echoes of Tchaikovsky’s Russia and a spicy original tinge not like anyone else’s, not like Rimsky-Korsakov or Scriabin (second prize in composition at the Moscow Conservatory when Rachmaninoff got the first), and very unlike the surging swells of the ever-popular Second Concerto, composed four decades earlier. The first dance demonstrates the bittersweet energy as well as any. It begins in C minor, first tentatively and then confidently as a march, builds to a climax, subsides to a calm and completely different section in C-sharp minor, and eventually returns to a varied da capo of the march, followed by a short Coda-apotheosis in bell-like C major. At this point a new theme appears, a broadly expressive melody that has always struck me with an ineffable sadness, because it is stated only once, never to be heard again, and dies away into gradual pianissimo silence. Years later I learned from several different sources that Rachmaninoff retrieved this lovely melody from the wreckage of his First Symphony, which had suffered a catastrophic premiere performance in 1897, and which the stunned composer then shelved after the critics savaged it. Rachmaninoff subsequently remembered his first symphony as a failed effort, “childish, strained, and bombastic.” [continued…]

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The Miracles of Notre Dame

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The entire planet bore horrified witness as Parisians knelt and wept silently, or sang hymns. In real time, we saw the cathedral spire crumble in flames, we all feared that the mighty building, with its two towers rising to heaven, a structure medieval but also romantic and somehow eternal, might be lost forever.  

“The Miracles of Notre Dame” tells the story of the miraculous survival of the church by celebrating history vocal music sung within its walls as well as miracle tales, student songs, and minstrel turns performed in Notre Dame’s shadow, on either bank of the steadily flowing Seine. Boston Camerata collaborates with the Harvard Choral Fellows directed by Edward Elwyn Jones, and Longy School of Music of Bard College at Harvard’s Memorial Church on November 6th at 4:00. Thomas F. Kelly, and Caroline Bruzelius will lecture in the Pusey Room at Memorial Church at 2:30. Tickets HERE.But not eyes alone; if the architectural exploits of the cathedral were widely admired and emulated, the structures of musical sound as practiced withing the cathedral walls helped change forever the compositional and performance practices of Western Europe. They remain, as well, a source of inspiration today. [continued…]

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Leon Kirchner: An Animate Account

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Arriving from the presses in August came just the second major publication on this eminent American composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher, in an account from his daughter Lisa. On first glance flipping through the 375 pages, readers will seize on how editor Lisa has carefully radiused the edges and corners of the professional life of her father in this handsome tribute.  

No newcomer to what it takes to pull together such a volume, Lisa Kirchner begins her preface, “This anthology of writings by and about my father, Leon Kirchner, includes letters, analyses, interviews, and essays, interleaved with photographs, manuscripts, and art. While compiling the pre-existing materials, I wrote to many of my father’s colleagues expressing my hope that each might contribute an essay illuminating those elements of his aesthetic vision and credo that resonated in their encounters with him. My confidence was rewarded by their generosity and some 40 newly minted writings were rendered for inclusion in “Leon Kirchner and His Verdant World.”   [continued…]

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Four New Professors of the Practice

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The next installment in the Parker Quartet’s season includes the Blodgett Composition Prize performance of one of Harvard University’s graduate students Jonah Haven’s Laugh Radish at Paine Hall on November 6th at 3:00, along with Bartok’s Fifth Quartet and Korngold’s String Sextet (with cellist Raman Ramakrishnan and violist Marcus Thompson). The group’s violinist Daniel Chong has ‘… fallen absolutely in love with it. It’s just so expressive, charming, and vivid. It’s romanticism to a degree that only Korngold can really do.” The Parker Quartet, the first full-time Blodgett Quartet-in-Residence at Harvard University since the residency’s inception in 1985, recently added a distinction: status as the first to join the University’s senior faculty as Professors of the Practice. This means that in addition to presenting a four-concert series every season, teaching Chamber Music Performance, working with the composition faculty and students, and collaborating with other faculty throughout the university, the foursome will have the security to undertake longer-term projects that interest them.

This isn’t going to be tenure track, but there’s expectation that it’s for a goodly period. It’s the closest thing to tenure track that it can be seeing as though tenure track positions for string quartets do not exist. My understanding is that there’s no other quartet position in any university or conservatory quite like this.

But Harvard wants you to continue touring and wants you to continue to have a career and be in the spotlight. Performing is the equivalent of publishing for a more academic professor?

DC: Absolutely. What makes our position so unique is that there’s so much flexibility and the department is extremely supportive of our touring activities. The expectation is that we are out there continuing to be at the forefront of our field. [continued…]

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Thinking About Encores

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Jonathan Biss’s quiet, lovely encore at last Wednesday’s Boston Phil event, a true Moment musical, was no. 1 of Beethoven’s Six Bagatelles, op. 126. “Chips of marble from the workshop,” Hutcheson calls the three sets of bagatelles, and sometimes they are even substantial chunks. But many of these make ideal encore pieces. I even wondered, casually, if an encore could be fashioned out of no. 10 of Beethoven’s 11 New Bagatelles, op. 119? This must be one of the shortest actual compositions by anybody that actually ends in a double bar: eight bars repeated, with a four-bar coda. It’s marked Allegramente and lasts approximately 16 seconds — I timed it. Nothing even by Anton Webern is that succinct. I’m not saying that anyone should try to play this as an actual encore, but no doubt at some point someone will. (Perhaps adding Cage’s 4’33” in the process.) No. 11 of the Opus 119 set is a few bars longer, still less than a page, but it must be memorable; Max Reger made an enormous orchestral piece out of it, his Variations and Fugue, op. 86. [continued…]

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$100 Million Clarinetist

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Yesterday’s Boston Globe took note of a heart-warming donation of $100 million to the Boston University Medical School, which will be renamed the Aram V. Chobanian and Edward Avedisian School of Medicine. A photograph identified the donor, Edward Avedisian, “a retired clarinetist and philanthropist,” and it impressed me that the paper mentioned “clarinetist” first. “All right, so I made a few dollars,” he said, and I am sure he made the money in other enterprises than music, but “clarinet” stuck with me because I remembered Ed Avedisian from when we were students at Tanglewood in summer 1959. I didn’t know him well; I was a 19-year-old sophomore, but he had already graduated from BU, was an official in the musicians’ union, and would play from time to time with the Boston Pops. Chobanian, his close friend ever since they were children growing up in Rhode Island, later became Dean at the med school. [continued…]

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October Third Is the First Monday

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A faculty recital on steroids—with famous alums and the occasional current student collaborators all volunteering their services—that’s what New England Conservatory worthy Laurence Lesser inaugurated 38 years ago with his initial First Monday at Jordan Hall series of free concerts of great chamber music. If you want Larry to talk to you about this year’s edition rather than reading further, click HERE for his video of the October 3rd program: [continued…]

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Mimi Seen at Cafe Momus After She Died

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Seeing and hearing any classical show in the magical and inspiring Emerson Colonial Theater interests us tremendously. Witnessing Puccini’s La bohéme from the venerable Boston Lyric Opera adds another dollop. For this production, director Yuval Sharon runs Act IV first and adds a “Wanderer”/interlocutor to explain the proceedings.

Boston Lyric Opera presents the favorite opera of starving artists and thwarted lovers September 23rd through October 2nd at the Colonial Theater…except the lovers don’t end up thwarted. Love triumphs over death in this show. Purchase tickets HERE.

This feature will first discuss the venue. Our interesting interview with Lauren Michelle, the show’s Mimi, follows several paragraphs down.

The oldest Boston theater to survive intact and one of Boston architect C.H. Blackall’s (he did many important theaters in Boston as well as Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline) most gracious creations, the Colonial Theater opened on December 20, 1900, and through, war and pestilence remained a beloved venue for important premieres and tryouts of plays and musicals. It narrowly escaped conversion to a food court six years ago. Flo Ziegfeld launched his Follies there, and notable players, playwrights and composers at the house include Irving Berlin, Sigmund Romberg, Richard Rogers, and Oscar Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Ether Merman, the Gershwins, Katherine Cornell Lunt and Fontaine, Katherine Cornell Tyrone Power, Paul Robeson, Laurence Olivier, Doyly Carte Company with the great John Reed. I remember that 1973 Pinafore well, as the last musical I heard anywhere without amplification. Imagine Merman projecting to the back rows in Annie Get Your Gun…singers needed great pipes until amplification changed belting to crooning. [continued…]

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BSO Opener Looks Lively

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The BSO subscription season begins this Thursday night with a lively and celebratory program HERE which finds the orchestra toasting itself through a namesake overture by John Williams, finding its place within the Planets, and showcasing the debut of pianist Awadagin Pratt in Bach’s Concerto in A Major and in Rounds, for piano and string orchestra, a new work written for him by the young Jessie Montgomery [the orchestra included her Starburst in a 2020 “American Promise”-themed program HERE]. A review on these pages noted how the 55-year-old Pratt  delivered “old-master richness” and compared him to Horowitz and Richter.

Pratt became the first African American to win the Naumburg International Piano Competition. That achievement launched an active performing career (including appearances with numerous American orchestras and for the Clinton White House and Obama White House), as a recording artist, and as a professor of piano at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Recent projects include the multimedia presentation “Awadagin Pratt: Black in America” which chronicles his life, including unpleasant encounters with law enforcement as a young man. He talked with us at length and rewardingly.

FLE: So where did the name Awadagin come from?

AW: My father was from Sierra Leone.

As of late, you’ve been talking a little about your roots, but more about your personal experiences of racism. Apparently you were arrested while running late to class at Peabody…while Black. [continued…]

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A “Troika” Before the Snows

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Odyssey Opera’s “Troika,” comprising Rachmaninoff’s complete operatic oeuvre, brings his three rarely heard one-act operas together for the first time according to conductor and Artistic Director Gil Rose. At Jordan Hall, Odyssey will conjoin Aleko, Miserly Knight, and Francesca Da Rimini in a three and one half-hour extravaganza. Audition them in Neeme Järvi’s excellent recordings HERE.

The stories by Alexander Pushkin and Dante tell of an exiled Russian nobleman consumed by jealousy, an aging Baron who dies calling not for his son but for his gold, and a young couple consigned to the Second Circle of the Inferno after an illicit kiss. Presented in concert in Russian, with English Supertitles in a collective US premiere on September 25, 2022 at 3:00 PM NEC’s Jordan Hall. Tickets HERE

FLE: All three operas can be auditioned in multiple YouTube streams. Miserly Knight got done at Bard this summer, and Aleko is hardly unknown. Commonwealth Lyric Theater, specialists in Russian/Ukrainian repertoire, did it in Boston about ten years back. [reviewed HERE]

Gil Rose: Even though it was a student work, Aleko has had something of a continuous concert life on stage. It gets done, often paired with various things.

And how did you come up with the idea of this triple bill? You say, they haven’t ever been fit together, though in 1906 at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, Rachmaninoff conducted a double-bill of Miserly Knight and Francesca da Rimini. You probably are correct in claiming a first for this 3.5-hour triple header. [continued…]

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“Sweet Sorrow” on Parting from NEC

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Pianist, composer, conductor, teacher, past Longy president Victor Rosenbaum celebrates his 80th birthday and retirement from his first and last job with a free Jordan Hall recital on September 17th at 8:00 PM offering a retrospective of music he loves: Brahms: Intermezzi Opus 118, Nos. 1 and 2, Victor Rosenbaum: Elegy-Impromptu, Beethoven: Sonata in E Major, op. 109, Schubert: Sonata in A Major, D. 959, as well as the world premier of composer-pianist Lewis Warren’s second Ballade. Rosenbaum’s elegant valedictory essay follows this short interview.

Are you satisfied with how your career has unfolded?

I made a conscious decision (spoken to myself and others in so many words) many years ago never to be bitter about what I might not achieve in fame or recognition. How tiresome are those regrets of many musicians who think the world failed to give them the accolades they deserved. By contrast, I feel very lucky that I have been able to play the music I love most, often with some incredible (and world famous) collaborators (like Leonard Rose, Robert Mann, Roman Totenberg, and many wonderful NEC colleagues). And I have taught all these years in one of the world’s great schools of music. What a great privilege! If I look back on opportunities missed, there is one moment that could have changed the trajectory of my career: it was when Erich Leinsdorf saw me conduct a little kids orchestra at a summer camp in the Berkshires where his daughter was a violinist. He must have seen something in our little attempt at the first movement of Beethoven’s First Symphony, because afterwards he invited me to be some kind of assistant at the BSO. Stupidly, I turned it down because I was in the middle of my graduate studies. I mean, really, how stupid can you be?

But, you know, even though that could have led to something very different and wonderful (and I always have loved conducting), I am rather happy that I have had a not too shabby career. I’ve traveled for concerts and teaching in many parts of the world (even to Iraq, believe it or not), and have had the admiration of my students and musical colleagues. A life in music is a pretty great thing, regardless of the degree of fame or fortune it brings. [continued…]

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A 40-Year-Old Society Takes Stock

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Marcus Thompson (file photo)

On September 18th at Sanders Theater BCMS begins its 40th season with what its fans like, great chamber music: Brahms’s Piano Trio in C minor, Op. 101, Poulenc’s Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano, and Beethoven’s Septet in E-flat major, Op. 20 in the company of Romie de Guise-Langlois, clarinet; Adrian Morejon, bassoon; Jason Snider, French horn; Yura Lee, violin; Marcus Thompson, viola; Clancy Newman, cello; Thomas Van Dyck, double bass. Tickets HERE.

Alongside its nine member musicians*, this season BCMS brings 16 familiar and exciting guests to 3 concert stages and adds nine works to its repertoire, including the premiere of an anniversary commission by Scott Wheeler. I enjoyed a very pleasant talk with Artistic Director Marcus Thompson about how the ensemble began, responses to recent challenges, the upcoming season, and beyond. 

FLE: Over nearly 40 years the Boston Chamber Music Society has maintained the appearance of being an exclusive club as the word  ‘Society’ implies. And maybe for roster of distinguished Member Musicians, it is something of a club which admits listeners to its fold. Long before so many other groups, series and venues got started, this Society has had quite impact on how and where chamber music is presented around town. Even though you weren’t a member in its first season, at some point ‘you made the cut,’ ‘paid the fee,’ got to be a member, and, for the last 12 years you’ve served as Artistic Director. What is BCMS’s origin story? [continued…]

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Music For Food Plays On

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Because one in three adults in Massachusetts experiences food insecurity, Music for Food gives concerts whose entire proceeds go to food providers. Last year MFF’s $22,918.12 contribution helped Women’s Lunch Place serve 111,009 healthy meals. MFF’s four concerts in Boston this year take the theme “Music From Across the Sea.” In the first installment, “Voices    [continued]

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White Snake Spawns Cosmic Cowboy

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Creator and librettist Cerise Lim Jacobs tells us that the ninth (or so) of her “diverse, timely, and relevant operas based on her original stories … Traverses the mysteries of time, space and love, through wormholes and black holes, in this sci-fi opera that blends live staging and virtual reality. Inspired by both the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock and the historic landing of the space probe Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Cosmic Cowboy meditates on both the power of human imagination and the consequences of our colonizing impulse.

The opera is an eclectic romp through the universe that ranges from the formation of the cosmos by the mating of the Sumerian gods Tiamat and Apsu to a touching pas de deux between Cooper, a robotic space probe, and Tiamat’s daughter, Tia.”

Cosmic Cowboy runs September 16 -18 at the Emerson Paramount. Tickets HERE Synopsis HERE. Cowboy composer Elena Ruehr, often reviewed on these pages, answers a few of our questions:

FLE: Humans have always explored, thus Cerise Jacobs’s making the connection between space travel and the Mayflower is not as bizarro as it might seem, though the connections with Magellen’s voyages might have been more apt. Sumerian gods, Tiamat and Apsu also apparently come into the picture in this sci-fi, fantasy mix. Wagner figures too with strange Tarnhelmisch nets. Have you dabbled in these occult spheres either as a reader or a composer before this commission? [continued…]

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These Three Bs All Spell Beethoven

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The Mercury Orchestra presents “an odyssey of the individual against the forces of fate through the revolutionary music of Beethoven” Saturday night at Jordan Hall. Conductor Channing Yu will be on the podium as he has been since founding the surprisingly rewarding volunteer ensemble orchestra in 2008. The concert begins at 7:30 and management suggests $10 for admission. Alone on our calendar for Boston, this event constitutes the best of all possible concerts for Saturday night.

Beethoven’s overture to Heinrich Joseph von Collin’s 1804 drama Coriolan juxtaposes the stirrings of war with a mother’s pleas for peace. His fifth piano concerto (Emperor), which he dedicated to his patron, the Archduke Rudolf, epitomizes Beethoven’s middle or heroic period, defining a new relationship between soloist and orchestra. The soloist Nan Ni 倪楠, has just won the first Fou Ts’ong International Piano Competition, sponsored by the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts. The Fifth Symphony, universally known for its opening fate motif, “not only towers as a symphonic edifice but also provides an intimately sublime portrait of individual struggle,” according to the conductor.

Channing Yu talked with BMInt about founding the orchestra and forks in his personal journey.

FLE: I know you don’t like to talk much in the musical context about your life in the medical arts but nevertheless I’m curious about your attitude as to whether music can be enjoyed for its own sake or whether it needs to be viewed as healing or something beyond especially for somebody with your dual background.

[continued…]

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Vehemence and Tenderness with the Occasional Mambo

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In advance of Boston Landmarks Orchestra’s concert at the Hatch Shell on Wednesday at 7:00,  Christopher Wilkins conductor shares his thought on Bernstein’s Candide Overture, William Dawson’s Negro Folk Symphony (Boston premiere), Enesco’s Romanian Rhapsody in A major, and Respighi The Pines of Rome.

To render my works properly requires a combination of extreme precision and irresistible verve, a regulated vehemence, a dreamy tenderness, and an almost morbid melancholy.  Hector Berlioz

A lot has to come together for great orchestras to do what they do.It starts with the composers. Many of the greatest composers learned what orchestras can do by conducting them: Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Mahler. Leonard Bernstein—conducting composer or composing conductor—belongs on that list too. [continued…]

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Ohlsson To Reveal Brahms From Beginning to End

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Over four Ozawa Hall concerts between August 16th and 25th, Garrick Ohlsson will be traversing the complete solo piano works of Brahms. Each of the four concerts will include examples from all periods of the composer’s life rather than unfolding chronologically. The breakdown and ticket information is HERE. BMint had a very pleasant conversation with the grand master

G.O.: I decided eight or nine years ago to do this project; I played program number one in New York, San Francisco, Montreal and London. And in the spring of 2019, I played program two. It was a way of organizing my own life and playing in beautiful, wonderful cities, but Covid intervened. Tanglewood originally expected this series to begin in 2020. Ultimately Tony Fogg asked me to do all four programs this summer at Tanglewood.

Last summer in Ravinia, I did almost all of it, but the recitals had to be shorter without intermission for sanitizing reasons, so I had to make each program 75 minutes long. So then this is kind of a culmination and this will be the first time I’ve played the four shows together from start to finish for the public.

FLE: You clearly decided to do each of these four concerts as complete representations of Brahms rather than four chronological surveys. Each recital has something of every period, but is there some organizing principle to the four? [continued…]

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Symphonic Folk’s Music: Who Gets Credit?

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Boston Landmarks Orchestra has inked six border-crossing pieces for Wednesday’s Thursday’s free 7:00 PM concert at the Hatch Shell: Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, excerpts from Bizet’s L’Arlésienne , Carlos Chávez Sinfonia india, Traditional Seis Chorreao, Florence Price Folksongs in Counterpoint (Selections), Traditional Aguinaldo Orocoveño, Mendelssohn’s  Italian Symphony, and Fabiola Méndez’s Bomba pa’ la diaspora with the composer on hand to play her guitar-like cuatra. Once again BMInt shares Music Director Christopher Wilkins’s Podium Notes.  

There’s so much about the cuatro that represents who Puerto Rico is, and Puerto Ricans are, and who I am.    Fabiola Méndez

Music carries its own genetic code. It reveals who we are, and where we come from. It holds the identities of entire communities. And it has no respect for political boundaries.

Music moves freely across borders, even when people cannot. The Caribbean is a perfect example. There, as political alliances and borders have shifted drastically over the centuries, the international sharing of music has been a constant. Over hundreds of years of musical give-and-take between key port cities in the New World—San Juan, Havana, Port-au-Prince, New Orleans, Miami, New York —it is often impossible to determine what started where, who gets the credit, and whose tradition it is. [continued…]

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FCPA Kicks Off Summer Series

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Since 1989 the Foundation for Chinese Performing Arts has been promoting Asian musicians and the Eastern musical heritage through performing arts and has presented over 147 concerts in Boston’s Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall, Harvard’s Sanders Theater, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Calderwood Hall, and New York’s Carnegie Hall featuring renowned Asian musicians like Yo-Yo Ma, Fou Ts’ong, Tan Dun, Hung-Kuan Chen, Bion Tsang, Nai-Yuan Hu, Dang Thai-Son, The Shanghai Quartet, Ning An, and Haochen Zhang… to critical acclaim. For 30 years, the FCPA had also hosted its Annual Music Festival at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, attracting students from all over the world and included students like Lang Lang, George Li, Yeol Eun Son, Eric Lu and Kate Liu

Its Summer Free Concert Series at the New England Conservatory, resuming after a two-year hiatus, kicks off in a week and will feature 15 concerts between August 11th and August 27th including violinists, violists, cellists, pianists, and vocalists. The calendar can be found HERE. Founder Catherine Chan is “…very proud to present such magnificent artists. They should be heard more on the world stage.” [continued…]

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Festive Debut with Fandangos

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In her BSO debut on August 6th, Grammy-winning conductor and Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra JoAnn Falletta will share the stage with violinist Joshua Bell, a Tanglewood mainstay since 1989. Tchaikovsky’s beloved Violin Concerto and the symphonic poems Fountains of Rome and Pines of Rome, of Ottorino Respighi will follow Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra’s Fandangos, an engaging, exploratory riff on one of the most characteristic Spanish dance forms. Sierra blends a classical approach with elements of Afro-Caribbean, South American, Central American, and Spanish musical traditions. Brian Bell interviewed on August 1st.

Brian Bell: You are the first person I’ve interviewed since the pandemic began. And I am curious as to how you and the Buffalo Philharmonic and all the other activity that you had, how have you dealt with the pandemic? And what have you learned from this experience?

 Joann Falletta: I’m glad you asked me that, because for us it was an eye opening and artistically very valid time. Like everyone else, in March of 2020, we thought we’d be out for a couple of weeks until they straightened this out, and if we had known what was ahead of us. So for the first few months, we didn’t do much. The musicians and I made a lot of solo videos where we talked to the audience, and they played something, that they were thinking about you. But then we realized that it wasn’t going to be, it wasn’t going to go away soon. So we started to play. Now, in New York, we had strict requirements. We could only have 25 people on our stage. They had to be six feet apart. They had to wear masks. We had to have plexiglass for the wind players and the brass players. So it wasn’t easy. But when we started to play, when we started to play that first concert in September of 2020, with a lot of trepidation, it was one of the happiest days of our lives, because we realized we could do this. [continued…]

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Beethoven’s Many Mansions Include the Hatch Shell

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Boston Landmarks Orchestra conductor Christopher Wilkins’s 4,240-word Podium Notes can serve to illuminate brave readers about Saturday night’s concert at the Hatch Shell. He will be raising his baton at 7:00 for Rossini’s William Tell Overture’ Strauss’s To America: Fair Columbia Waltzes, Diane White-Claytons Many Mansions (world premiere performance), and Beethoven Symphony No. 9; he and the orchestra will be sharing the stage with Sirgourney Cook, soprano; Tichina Vaughn, mezzo-soprano; Ethan Bremner, tenor; Phillip Bullock, baritone; David Hodgkins, chorus master; One City Choir; Coro Allegro. Wilkins begins:

At a certain place in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, one might have the sensation of floating above the earth in a starry dome, with a dream of immortality in the heart; all the stars seem to glimmer around, with the earth sinking ever deeper downwards. (Friedrich Nietzsche: Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, 1878 )

When Beethoven unveiled his ninth and final symphony to an eager Viennese audience in 1824, he had not written a symphony in nearly 12 years. Many of the leading figures of Viennese society attended, even though public taste had long-since turned away from the complexities of Beethoven’s music toward the more easy-to-digest style of Gioachino Rossini, far and away the most popular composer of the day. Beethoven was not on board with the trend: “You do not know how to deal with real drama,” Beethoven reportedly told Rossini to his face when they met in 1822. [continued…]

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