While the present-day conflation of the arts with instruments for social justice is dangerously overdrawn, some musical experiences are unquestionably therapeutic, and some composers are more wholesome than others. My most recent “More than Music” NPR radio documentary celebrates “Lou Harrison and Cultural Fusion.” Of Harrison’s music, I observe: “In today’s terms, … [Read more...] about Lou Harrison and Cultural Fusion on NPR
George Shirley's spellbinding performance of Roland Hayes' "Lit'l Boy," filmed last July at the Brevard Music Festival, was a highlight of twin Brevard initiatives: a week-long "Dvorak's Prophecy" festival inspired by my recent book Dvorak's Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music, and the "Brevard Project," a think-tank/seminar pondering the fate of the American … [Read more...] about The Brevard Project: Orchestras, American Roots, and Appropriation
The recent Alexander Toradze Memorial Concert, featuring more than a dozen pianists, is now accessible online here. In addition to a lot of music, this event features three video clips of Lexo speaking and performing. A Toradze memorial festival will be held in Tbilisi, beginning May 30, 2023, (Lexo’s birthday) with a concert including Vladimir Feltsman performing … [Read more...] about Toradze Memorial Concert
My favorite recording of any Kurt Weill song – as I have occasion to remark at the close of my recent NPR documentary on Weill’s immigrant odyssey – is Weill’s own rendition of “That’s Him.” Re-encountering this remarkable performance, with the composer accompanying himself at the piano, I feel a need to ponder what makes it so special. As I observed on … [Read more...] about Did Kurt Weill “Look Back”?
Kurt Weill, a refugee from Nazi Germany, turned himself into one of Broadway’s leading composers – an amazing feat of assimilation. After the war, he only returned to Europe once, in 1947 – and reported: “Strangely enough, wherever I found decency and humanity in the world, it reminded me of America.” How does that sentiment play today? It’s a question posed and … [Read more...] about Kurt Weill’s Immigrant Odyssey on NPR