The Orchestra hasn’t had a series on national radio since 1990. Now ,”starting with a broadcast Monday night and continuing three times a week for at least the next year, concerts recorded in Verizon Hall will be carried on SiriusXM radio, a paid service with a monthly fee, to listeners across the U.S. and Canada.”
Ravi’s daughter Anushka Shankar: “Here he was aged 90, not yet content to rest on his laurels but still wanting to push the boundaries to further horizons. It was simply another area in which my father was able to imagine something that hadn’t been done yet – an Indian opera. Such a thing had incredible scope for creating bridges between two wonderful traditions from the east and west.”
Right now, it feels like a work “with grand social and political reverberations. Yet, for its composer, the work arose from deeply personal motives.”
“We are used to talking about composers who live on through their music. But music teachers enjoy an almost genealogical immortality through their students, regardless of those pupils’ later fame. Because music making is practiced through the body, teachers imprint their students with the specific physical traits of their craft: gestures, tics and preferences that those students may in turn pass on to yet another generation.”
“The standing ovation shook the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoon, with confetti made from ripped-up programs cascading down from the theater’s highest balcony as a bouquet of pink roses was tossed to the stage. Renée Fleming, the star soprano, had just bid farewell to one of her signature roles — the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s ‘Der Rosenkavalier.'”
This episodic opera was created, filmed on Alcatraz, and then packaged for serial distribution. All 12 episodes drop online on May 31. Some of the plot … “In composer Lisa Bielawa’s world, cows sing, a ponytailed man plays the hurdy-gurdy in the backseat of a vintage Chrysler Valiant and an escape from Alcatraz is as simple as tossing a knotted sheet rope out a prison cell window and driving off into the night — to Sweden.”
“Young people’s brains aren’t experiencing a backward evolution. Their ability to articulate points of rhythm, melody and the flow of words in musical genres they have made or developed themselves prove that, as human beings, our urge for musical expression and facility lies deep. Young people are not afraid of things that need to be worked through. Complexity, curiosity and adventure is the new counter-culture.”
This may be as a good a time as any to offer Richard Goldstein’s confession. It isn’t anything he has tried to hide, and, in fact, he mentioned it briefly in his 2015 memoir, “Another Little Piece of My Heart.” But the revelation may be startling to Beatles fans, who have devoted their lives to interpreting every lyric, recording flourish and photograph presented by their band. The stereo Goldstein used for his review was broken. Repeat. The guy who slammed “Sgt. Pepper” in the New York Times had a busted speaker.
“In order to make music, I need three healthy relationships: with the materials of my art, with the world around me, and with the people with whom I share it. These are the building blocks of what I think of as an externally facing artistic practice. The goal of an externally facing practice is to become as complete a human being as possible, in whose life music plays a central and defining role. On the other hand, the goal of an internally facing practice — the default stance of much academic training, especially in this country — is to be the most skilled musician possible. A rich and rewarding extra-musical life is secondary. The external view is built on education; the internal one on training.”
New-music nerds of a certain age will remember Crumb’s haunting García Lorca song cycle Ancient Voices of Children or his anti-Vietnam War piece for “electric string quartet,” Black Angels. They may have been weird, but they were cool. Now the grand old man of the American avant-garde at age 87, Crumb is still composing away – most recently, Metamorphoses Book I, a cycle of piano works based on his favorite paintings. Avant-garde diva Margaret Leng Tan gave the premiere in D.C. on May 7, and David Patrick Stearns was there.
The Belgian composer-conductor, music director of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, decided to write his own, all-new take on the concept of the Mussorgsky-Ravel favorite. (Unlike George Crumb, Brossé didn’t come up with a new title.) So he took a special tour of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and ultimately chose seven paintings from the collection – from Thomas Eakins’s The Gross Clinic to Man Ray’s Fair Weather – as his inspirations. Peter Dobrin met with Brossé to talk about the artworks and how Brossé found the music in them.
“At some point, the core product DG was offering wasn’t enough to cover larger overhead and administration costs, salaries and fees, advances and marketing budgets. The label reacted to this development by distancing itself further from its core classical business and looking for new customers. And so the things that made the Yellow Label special fell increasingly away. Loyal fans began to look elsewhere for their quality records. Browse through forums for classical music obsessives today, and you’ll find few more common targets for invective than Deutsche Grammophon.”
Members of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra, along with the orchestra, chorus, and ballet company of the Teatro Municipal performed on the street in front of the opera house to draw public attention to the fact that they haven’t been paid since February – and to ask for donations of non-perishable food for the worst-off among them. The performers are yet more victims of the financial emergency in effect in Rio de Janeiro state since before last summer’s Olympic Games.
For 2015, David Robertson’s other orchestra recorded a budget shortfall of A$896,811; this past year, the group bounced back with a surplus of A$785,984.
The orchestra, where a new managing director recently joined chief conductor Andrew Davis, “post[ed] a surplus of A$761,000 for 2016. The result is significant, as the orchestra registered a deficit of A$577,653 in 2015, and the previous surplus in 2014 was only A$298,770.”
Responding to the latest study to find that people can’t hear the difference between million-dollar Strads and top-line new violins, columnist Richard Ball suggests that – well, as a cynical DC operative might put it, perception is reality.
Reporter Michael Cooper talks to Tim Guscott, chief follow-spot operator, who says “It’s really hard to follow something no bigger than a basketball that’s 135 feet away.” (He’s referring to Anna Netrebko’s head.)
The $71 million (Aus) project in the Joan Sutherland Theatre, the first part of a $273 million (Aus) plan to renovate the entire complex, will replace engines, hoists, and other backstage equipment as well as a “state-of-the-art acoustic enhancement system” (presumably electronic) to improve the auditorium’s famously poor sound quality. (And Sydney’s leading newspaper now has no arts writers to cover this story.)
Whether the player was performing solo or with an orchestra, “Listeners found that new violins projected significantly better than those by Stradivari. Moreover, listeners preferred new violins over old by a significant margin.” In addition, Paris audiences were asked “to guess whether each of seven violins was old or new. In all, just 122 of 273 (or 44.7 percent) of the guesses were correct.”
He studied and then taught with Morton Feldman; he sang with both Meredith Monk and the New York Philharmonic; at the premiere of one of his pieces, he put on a dress and served the audience soup. (The description in the headline, by the way, is by his little brother.) David Patrick Stearns has a look at this singular figure, the subject of a festival now underway in Philadelphia.
Also dished: “Anna Netrebko single-handedly upholding the grand tradition of opera as camp” and the evening as “a symbolic passing of the torch.”
The beloved Russian baritone, undergoing long-term treatment for brain cancer, has cancelled all future staged opera performances and recently had to call off a recital tour. So when Peter Gelb had the idea to invite him to sing at the gala, he kept the plan secret, in case Hvorostovsky was too ill to make it. But make it he did, and sang up a storm. (video)
The last major published study asked ten well-known soloists to play a selection of Strads and new violins, and the players solidly preferred the new ones. The latest test happened in Paris, just after the previous one, and was repeated in New York; it focused on the impressions of listeners in the concert hall. And once again …
So this is what happens when a cultural phenomenon fades. “There are about 32,000 Elvis records being sold on eBay at the moment – this number was closer to 20,000 items for all memorabilia five years ago. And it’s not even as if they are selling well.” Ouch.
The group’s Facebook page lists as one of its goals “to protect our community and neighbors from the dangers that oil and gas development poses to our health, the quality of our air and water, and our agricultural heritage.” They had already stated their opposition to contributions the BCO received from Extraction Oil & Gas, which describes itself as “a domestic energy company focusing on the exploration and production of oil and gas reserves in the Rocky Mountains.”
Conductor Deborah Wiseman: “We’re recording straight onto vinyl. As we are playing, the little grooves of vinyl are being created, so really, what you play is there forever.”
Her son conveyed the news to The New York Times to forestall speculation. “She defied so much for so long: depression, alcoholism, age. Mr. LeGrant said, on the phone and over lunch a couple of days later, that she had decided to put out the word about retirement. ‘The public hasn’t seen her in months,’ he said, ‘and somebody would go ‘Oh, my God,’ and it would be on Page Six.'”
There’s been some success – most recently, tech companies working with Adele so that perhaps only 2 percent of her Wembley Stadium tickets were scalped – but it’s ugly out there. Very, very ugly.
Responses from the company, who were putting on a concert sponsored by Extraction Oil and Gas, were pretty much like “look, taking money from private funders is the only way we get to do music; please deal with it.” The protest group did not blow their whistles during the performance, “but the whistle-blowing prompted a response from University of Colorado police, who stayed through the second movement of [Beethoven’s Ninth] symphony.”
Before conducting the heck out of Schubert’s First Symphony, written when he was of a similar age to the student who was killed, Dudamel “said the violence in Venezuela is unacceptable, and he dedicated the concert to the slain student and to all the victims of violence. ‘We play for all our children,’ he concluded, ‘to build a better future for them with peace and love.'”