“The piece, ‘Lied vom weissen Käse‘ (‘Song of the White Cheese’) – which was written for a Weimar-era musical revue and sung by the actress Lotte Lenya, Weill’s wife – was recently found in an archive unrelated to Weill at the Free University of Berlin and is the most significant discovery of the composer’s music since the early 1980s. The song previously existed only in Lenya’s memory and was written off as chimerical.” (includes video)
Just a couple weeks after the jam company gave $1.1 million to the Akron (Ohio) Art Museum, the company’s executive chairman and his wife have pledged the second largest donation in the Cleveland Orchestra’s history. That executive, Richard Smucker, is the new chairman of the ensemble’s board of directors.
“The Grammy Music Education Coalition has launched a fund-raising initiative aimed at benefiting music programs in the school districts of Philadelphia, New York City, and Nashville. … GMEC hopes to raise $5 million over three years for Philadelphia, with that money going toward both the district as well as programs run by partner education and outreach organizations.”
“Music therapists often recommend songs with a personal association: the first dance from the patient’s wedding, a song their mother used to hum. When Joey Ramone left us in 2001, he was listening to U2’s In a Little While. A professional psychic in Florida has provided a list of songs “people seem to universally enjoy”. They range from Celine Dion to Enya to Susan Boyle – so it might also be worth specifying what music you don’t want to hear on your deathbed.”
“I get feedback along three themes,” said Brian Newhouse, when asked why MPR continues to do these live broadcasts. “First is the person from Warroad, who says they’ll never be able to get to downtown Minneapolis. Second is the listener who says they attend the concert on Saturday night but love to hear the interviews with artists and the inside information they pick up on the Friday broadcast. “The third is the person who says, ‘I listen on Friday night to see if I want to go on Saturday.’ ”
Some 332 violins, 76 violas and, 73 cellos and 19 double basses are available to view, along with hundreds of other stringed instruments from around the world, and thousands of wind, keyboard, percussion and electronic examples, spanning 5,000 years of human history.
Stepping into the newly-created position is jazzman and Late Show with Stephen Colbert bandleader Jon Batiste, who will work “on a range of projects, from writing, to video, to live events.” His first project: an essay on and “reimagining” of The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
RTÉ, the national broadcaster, has let 20 positions in its two ensembles – the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra – remain vacant, and sources say one in five posts will be unfilled by next summer. Critic Michael Dervan is one of many observers wondering if the RTÉ is trying to merge its orchestras without admitting to it.
“Brief as it is, the A above high C that the soprano Audrey Luna reaches in Thomas Adès’s new opera, “The Exterminating Angel,” is so high, it has never been sung in the 137-year history of the Metropolitan Opera.”
“The roster of tasks facing the next San Francisco Symphony music director will be daunting and varied. It includes finding new ways of making the standard repertoire speak directly to a younger and more diverse audience, including many for whom the music of Mozart or Brahms is terra incognita. It includes embracing a broader range of contemporary music — including works by women and composers of color, a point on which this orchestra has lagged woefully behind organizations like the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Music Director Gustavo Dudamel.”
“When listening to sad (as opposed to) happy music, people withdraw their attention inwards, and engage in spontaneous, self-referential cognitive processes,” reports a research team led by Liila Taruffi of the Free University of Berlin. “Our study suggests that the multifaceted emotional experience underlying sad music, often described by listeners as melancholic yet pleasant, shapes mind-wandering in a unique way.”
The audience laughed and cheered. It was an odd feeling sitting in that concert hall with a press ticket in my pocket and knowing that nearly everybody around me was laughing at a critic’s alleged narrow-mindedness. (Aside: Is something bad but historically “relevant” worth performing?)
“BSO founder Henry Lee Higginson poured all of his soul and much of his fortune into seeing the orchestra flourish. But his ambition for it to rival the best European orchestras remained out of reach until he lured the German Kaiser’s favorite conductor to Boston” in 1912. Five years on, no less than Teddy Roosevelt declared, “Muck ought not to be allowed at large in this country!”
“And this is key: [Yasuhisa] Toyota” – known for Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Hamburg’s new Elbphilharmonie – “played a leading role in choosing the team that will make it possible, as [former Edinburgh International Festival director Jonathan] Mills puts it, ‘to build from the inside out rather than the outside in.'”
Marin Alsop, JoAnn Faletta, Simone Young and others have broken many barriers in the orchestra world. Anne Midgette looks at the generation of women behind them ready to take the podiums.
Also, can there be such a thing during a time of tenuous and not at all secure employment, if employment there is at all? “Mid-career generally seems to refer to someone who has spent a good number of years pursuing their vocation following their formal studies, but is not yet approaching old age and retirement. This can be a somewhat confusing designation for many of us.”
“All music exists on some kind of spectrum, from something that involves nothing you’ve ever heard before to music that sounds exactly like everything you’ve ever heard before. I think all great music exists somewhere along that. In music, you’re speaking a language of things heard already. You’re just rearranging it in a way that is unique. You use sonorities that have been heard before, like I use major chords. But even if you don’t use major chords, everything is along the lines of some kind of reference.”
It finished the season in the black to the tune of $7,123. The period orchestra also reported a record-breaking year in donations, with more than 1,000 members and donors giving more than $975,000: a 63 per cent increase over the previous record set during the 2015/16 season.
“The past few decades of work in the cognitive sciences of music have demonstrated with increasing persuasiveness that the human capacity for music is not cordoned off from the rest of the mind. On the contrary, music perception is deeply interwoven with other perceptual systems, making music less a matter of notes, the province of theorists and professional musicians, and more a matter of fundamental human experience.”
And that’s not exactly common in opera. So which work is this? The Mother of Us All, Virgil Thomson’s and Gertrude Stein’s fantasia about Susan B. Anthony and the fight for women’s suffrage in the U.S. (The description is Anthony Tommasini’s.)
The layoff notices anticipate the sale of the entire college next spring to an undisclosed buyer, or the school’s potential closure. The potential buyer is described publicly only as an Asian corporation that runs for-profit K-12 schools. The buyer has no accreditation in higher education.
“This year’s honorees – conductor William Christie, mezzo-soprano Fiorenza Cossotto, tenor Vittorio Grigolo, soprano Hei-Kyung Hong, and soprano Sonya Yoncheva – will be celebrated at a black-tie gala celebration on April 22nd, 2018 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.”
“The Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association posted an operating deficit of $1.4 million for fiscal 2017, compared to deficit of $1.1 million the year prior.” It’s the CSO’s seventh consecutive year in the red. On the other hand, endowment and investments are up more than 6% to $373.4 million, and the subscription renewal rate is 90%. (For a more optimistic take on the same fiscal news, see the Chicago Tribune report here.)
The local authority hopes to save as much as £383,000 through the closure of the school, which helped launch the early musical careers of Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson and Celtic fusion star Martyn Bennett.
It is rare enough with American orchestras to appoint a principal guest. The reason for the post more often than not is to fill in something lacking in a music director. The last time the L.A. Phil had principal guests was three decades ago, when it brought in the especially versatile and tuned-in young conductors Michael Tilson Thomas and Simon Rattle to complement an old master, Carlo Maria Giulini. In the case of Mälkki, the natural first reaction may be that she’s a woman. While American orchestras have begun hiring female music directors, this is the biggest crack, thus far, in the increasingly fragile glass ceiling about to crash down on top-tier orchestras.
For all a director’s authority, film is the most collaborative art form, and Glass is surely the most collaborative artist in history. His dozens of movies are only a small part of his prolific output, which includes music for well over 50 operas, dance works and music theater pieces; 11 symphonies; hoards of concertos and other orchestra and chamber pieces. All that and the reams of music for the Philip Glass Ensemble, which he founded 49 years ago and is still going strong, as it demonstrated at the Ace on Sunday.
In Part II of an extended profile of the new-music powerhouse (see Part I here), Allan Kozinn gives an overview of the now-renowned composers and ensembles that Bang on a Can spawned and/or nurtured – not to mention a record label, a summer festival (popularly referred to as “Banglewood”), an educational program, and an avant-garde marching band – and considers the changes that the Bangers wrought in the entire U.S. musical ecosystem.
“For most of the work’s duration, twenty-four subwoofers, placed with their cones pointed upward, emit electronic tones that vibrate at a frequency of 10.67 hertz, or around ten oscillations per second. … Human ears can’t detect sounds much below twenty hertz, but you register their presence all the same. … The body is listening even when the ears tune out.” Alex Ross checks out Ashley Fure’s “opera for objects,” The Force of Things.
“The move … is scheduled to coincide with both the end of Thomas’ 25th season at the organization’s helm [in the summer of 2020] and his 75th birthday in December 2019. He will remain with the Symphony in the newly created post of music director laureate, conducting at least four weeks each year and undertaking a variety of special programming projects.”
“Almost my entire adult life I’ve been the music director of some organization or another. I have volumes and volumes of almost-completed compositions and stories and poems and collections and all sorts of things. For years I’ve been thinking that if I’m going to be able to devote time to making sure that these things are in good shape before I’m outta here, this would be a kind of good moment to think about doing that.”