$100 Million Clarinetist


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…]


October Third Is the First Monday


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


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…]


BSO Opener Looks Lively


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


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


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


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…]


Music For Food Plays On


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


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


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.


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Vehemence and Tenderness with the Occasional Mambo


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


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?


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


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


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


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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Sweet Sorrow on the Esplanade


Boston Landmarks Orchestra’s  Christopher Wilkins will be leading another ambitious concert Wednesday at 7:00 at the Hatch Shell, once again offering dramatic and rewarding music that reaches out and rewards with fully fleshed-out repertoire on a theme of mutual understanding. Five works (or movements thereof) will collectively make the case: Verdi Nabucco Overture, Florence Price Ethiopia’s Shadow in America, Borys Lyatoshynsky Symphony No. 3 in B minor, Peace Shall Defeat War, Sibelius Finlandia, David Amram Symphony: Songs of the Soul, Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy.

Let this be the watchword: Playing in an orchestra intelligently is the best school for democracy, according to  Daniel Barenboim. Within his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Young Arab and Israeli musicians work together to promote mutual understanding.

BMInt offers readers Wilkins’s extensive Podium Notes which explicate a concert celebrating Music and Reconciliation. Have a read [HERE] before concert time. [continued…]

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The Maestro Opines


The Boston Landmarks Orchestra season kicks off the summer series this Wednesday with Telling Tales. It’s a big season, with lots of major works: Symphonie Fantastique, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Beethoven’s Ninth, the Mendelssohn “Italian” Symphony, Pines of Rome. Once again we talked with Christopher Wilkins, Landmarks’ esteemed music director.

Is this is a good year to bring out the big guns, and the most recognizable names?

Yes in part. Landmarks programming has always been a mix of the great classics and more adventurous repertoire. This season has plenty of both. One thing you’re probably noticing is that there are simply more Landmarks concerts than we’ve had in the recent past, so five full programs at the Hatch Shell rather than four, which is what it’s been the last few years.

It’s a truism that well-known works bring out the biggest crowds. And that works great for us. We have a top professional orchestra to deliver these cherished works, performing for free right in the heart of the city. It is a tremendously exciting thing that the generosity of people throughout the Boston area is what makes this possible. The entire enterprise is a gift to the city. [continued…]

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Bramwell Tovey Died at 69


The British conductor, who transformed a well-regarded career in front of theater orchestras to symphonic leadership, first in Canada and finally in Rhode Island, died of cancer on July 12th at his home in Barrington. He celebrated his 69th birthday with his family and died the next day.

The Intelligencer took note five years ago of Tovey’s excellent leadership of the Boston University Orchestra including a memorable performance of The Rite of Spring HERE. What a loss to BU that he didn’t stay longer. Tovey talked to us about his appointment HERE in a nearly 6,000 word interview which ended with this thought about his life as a conductor, composer and teacher

I get up very early, try hard not to complain and attempt to keep focused on what it is I’m supposed to be accomplishing. But frankly, being a musician is a marvelous vocation. I always think it’s much better than having a real job…

We remember with great pleasure several of his concerts with the BSO, especially a tremendously moving Brahms Requiem HERE, an irresistible Candide HERE, and an important Porgy and Bess at Tanglewood HERE.

The official obituary from the Rhode Island Philharmonic (RIP indeed) continues: [continued…]


Walter Pierce: 1930 – 2022


As the last of the grand impresarios in our midst, Walter Pierce strode Boston stages as a gentle colossus for 30 years until his retirement in 1996. He could always be seen in the lobbies before and after concerts to take the pulse of the crowds. And he presided over the transition from the for-profit Aaron Richmond Celebrity Series to a non-profit mode for 18 years subsidized by the Bank of Boston. Walter’s two successors comment on his role in transforming Boston’s Arts scene. The official obituary follows their essays.

Celebrity Series President and Executive Director Gary Dunning: It’s sad to lose Walter, but clearly he’s given us much to remember and celebrate.

The late 60s and early 70s saw a broad sea-change in how the performing arts functioned in the United States. Up until then, arts patrons could largely carry the burden of keeping arts organizations afloat. When I started in the business (1978), you could still feel the remnants of that old model where lead patrons like Eleanor Belmont at the Metropolitan Opera, Lucia Chase at ABT and Lincoln Kirstein at New York City Ballet could almost single-handedly handle financial challenges. [continued…]

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Richard Taruskin, 1945-2022


The world of musicology, but even more the music-reading public generally, has suffered an immeasurable loss in the death of Richard Taruskin, professor emeritus at U. California at Berkeley, but known to everyone in the profession as a peerless expert on Western music through ten centuries, but also as the most vivid and penetrating writer on music of his time, indeed, of the past half-century. I have no hesitation in referring to him as the most brilliant and authoritative musicologist of my generation. He had even been, at one time, a performing musician (cello, viola da gamba, conducting). Now, at the end of his struggle with esophageal cancer, he had hoped to see the early press copies of his latest book; but it was not to be. [continued…]

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Publishing at the Fading Fringes


Pendragon Press, publishers of choice monographs on musical subjects since 1977, will soon cease operations. Knockdown prices up to 70% off obtain on the remaining inventory. Details HERE. Orders must be made directly through the website, and will be fulfilled only up to July 8th, so act with dispatch lest you be disappointed.

Pendragon Press was established jointly by Barry Shelley Brook (1918-97), professor of music at Queens College of CUNY and founder of its graduate program in musicology; his wife Claire (1925-2012), vice-president and music editor at W. W. Norton; and her brother, Robert Kessler (1933-2021), a composer of musicals and songs; all of them shared editorial responsibilities for the growing list, and Bob served as day-to-day managing editor until his death last year at 87. [continued…]

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Four Boston Organists Rededicate Methuen


Distinguished Boston organists Richard J. Clark, Mark Dwyer, Ross Wood, and Leo Abbott will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the rededication of the Methuen Memorial Music Hall’s Great Organ this Wednesday. Henry Vaughan designed the auditorium in 1899 as Edward F. Searles’s private concert hall to house the Walcker organ from the old Boston Music Hall*. After the Hall was incorporated as a nonprofit cultural center in 1946, G. Donald Harrison and the Æolian-Skinner Organ Company restored and revised the instrument. On June 24, 1947 Arthur Howes (Phillips Andover Academy), Carl Weinrich (Princeton University), and Ernest White (St. Mary the Virgin, NYC), who had all served as consultants for the organ’s renovation, played the re-inauguration. [continued…]

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Recognizing a Toiler in the Musical Vineyards


I had the pleasure of talking with James Busby on occasion of his retirement after nearly 30 years of service as Organist and Choirmaster of S. Stephen’s Church, an Anglo-Catholic parish in Providence, Rhode Island, which sits on the edge of ivy-league Brown University’s campus quadrangle. [Bostonians and organ aficionados may also want to read Busby’s recollections on the early Fisk organ he helped procure for Old West Church1]

The church held a special service and luncheon on May 22nd in honor of James, of whom The Rev’d Benjamin Straley, Rector of S. Stephen’s, remarked “everything that the Church does…flows out of our worship of the Living God — a God who comes to us in the Mass in the beauty of holiness. James has selflessly offered himself to this cause. The great drama of the Mass has been accompanied by his stirring improvisations and sensitive timing. The choir has been shaped in countless ways by his leadership, and he is a devoted and fierce advocate for our parish.”

The music for that day’s service consisted of Juan Gutièrrez Padilla (1590-1644) Missa Ego flos campi, Psalm 67 – Deus misereatur by Bertram Luard-Selby (1853-1918), and the anthem by John E. West (1863-1929) The woods and every sweet-smelling tree. Busby played  “La Cour de Lys” from Le Martyre de Saint-Sébastien (Claude Debussy 1862-1918) and the Choral and Toccata Op. 104 (Joseph Jongen 1873-1953) as voluntaries .

SM: So, James, you are lauded not only for your beautiful music but also for who you are as a mentor and an inspiration for so many people.

JB: I love it; it’s all I know how to do, and I’m still learning how, that’s the sad part of deciding to do something else, because I’m not done with the job yet. Maybe that’s a good thing.

So, what’s the something else that you are envisioning? [continued…]

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Bostonian Musicians Make News in Canada


New England Conservatory composer Kati Agócs, having just returned from Winnipeg, where the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra performed the new Horn Concerto she recently wrote for BSO Principal Horn James Sommerville, shares news that a streamed version of the concert with Somerville playing and conducting is available (free) HERE. The concerto’s instrumentation of solo horn, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, and strings mirrors that of Mozart’s Third Horn Concerto K 447. Agócs wrote:

My piece extends the range lower with the addition of Bass Clarinet and Contrabassoon doublings, adding rich, dark woodwind colors to the sonic palette. Eighteen minutes in duration, cast in three movements, my concerto highlights the lyrical properties of the horn and also provides opportunities for the wind and string players in the orchestra to shine.

The co-commission of Symphony Nova Scotia, Sioux City Symphony Orchestra, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, and Prince Edward Island Symphony had premiered in Sioux City on November 14, 2021; the music critic Bruce Miller then wrote: [continued…]

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