Saturday, November 17, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Ernest Lough (1911-2000)
Hershy Kay (1919-1981)
Leonid Kogan (1924-1982)
Sir Charles Mackerras (1925-2010)
David Amram (1930)
Gene Clark (1941-1991)
Philip Picket (1950)
Philip Grange (1956)


Shelby Foote (1916-2006)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831)
Alfred Hill (1869-1960)
W. C. Handy (1873-1958)
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)
Burnet Tuthill (1888-1982)
Lawrence Tibbett (1896-1960)
Earl Wild (1915-2010)
David Wilson-Johnson (1950)
Donald Runnicles (1954)


George S. Kaufman (1889-1961)
José Saramago (1922-2010)
Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)
Andrea Barrett (1954)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Bach Cantata Choir to perorm at Leipzig Bach Festival in June of 2020

The Leipzig Bach Festival has invited Portland's own Bach Cantata Choir to perform at the internationally renown festival in June of 2020. Here is the news via Facebook from the choir's artistic director, Ralph Nelson:

Last summer, the Bach Cantata Choir (of which I am the artistic director/conductor) traveled to Germany and sang in two of Bach’s great churches in Leipzig. We have been invited back to Leipzig to sing as part of the Leipzig Bach Festival in 2020 – a festival that occurs annually each June, and draws Bach enthusiasts from around the world. The theme of the Leipzig Bach Festival in 2020 will be “Bach – We Are Family,” and will feature 17 invited choirs from 5 continents around the world. The Bach Cantata is extremely honored to be one of four choirs to represent the United States – the other three are the Bethlehem PA Bach Choir (America’s first Bach choir), Trinity Wall Street (New York City) and Emmanuel Music (Boston). We will be singing three cantatas (#38, #115, and #180) in St. Nicholas Church (pictured here -- one of Bach’s two great churches in Leipzig) on June 16, 2020. We have a concert coming up this weekend on Sunday, November 18 at 2pm at Rose City Park Presbyterian Church (NE 44th and Sandy in Portland, Oregon). Admission is free – doors open at 1:30pm. See for more details.

PS: I sing in the choir and am really looking forward to a return to Leipzig in 2020!

Today's Birthdays

Sir William Herschel (1738-1822)
Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (1905-1980)
Petula Clark (1932)
Peter Dickinson (1934)
Daniel Barenboim (1942)
Pierre Jalbert (1967)


Gerhart Hauptmann (1862-1946)
Franklin Pierce Adams (1881-1960)
Georgia O'Keefe (1887-1986)
Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1926, the first broadcast of a music program took place on the NBC radio network, featuring the New York Symphony conducted by Walter Damrosch, the New York Oratorio Society, and the Goldman Band, with vocal soloists Mary Garden and Tito Ruffo, and pianist Harold Bauer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Toiday's Birthdays

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837)
Fanny Hensel (1805-1847)
Rev. John Curwen (1816-1880)
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Leonie Rysanek (1926-1998)
Jorge Bolet (1914-1990)
Narciso Yepes (1927-1997)
Robert Lurtsema (1931-2000)
Peter Katin (1930-2015)
Ellis Marsalis (1934)
William Averitt (1948)


Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002)
William Steig (1907-2003)

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Jan Zach (1699-1773)
Louis Lefébure-Wély (1817-1870)
Brinley Richards (1817-1885)
George Whitefield Chadwick (1854-1931)
Marguerite Long (1874-1966)
Joonas Kokkoken (1921-1996)
Lothar Zagrosek (1942)
Martin Bresnick (1946)


St. Augustine (354-430)
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
George V. Higgins (1939-1999)
Eamon Grennan (1941)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1937, the first "official" radio broadcast by the NBC Symphony Orchestra took place with Pierre Monteux conducting. Arthur Rodzinski had conducted a "dress rehearsal" broadcast on Nov. 2, 1937. Arturo Toscanini's debut broadcast with the NBC Symphony would occur on Christmas Day, 1937

Monday, November 12, 2018

Zhgenti shows brilliant pianism in concert with Vancouver Symphony

Dmitri Zhgenti made the most of his appearance with the Vancouver Symphony, delivering a riveting performance of Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto. This was Zhgenti’s second time with the orchestra. Two years ago, he made a smashing debut with Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto. This time around, he enthralled the near-capacity audience at Skyview Concert Hall on Saturday afternoon (November 3) with all too rarely heard piano concerto by the great Armenian composer.

Zhgenti showed complete command of the piece right away, articulating arpeggios with precision and feeling, leaning into some notes to bring out the emotion of the music, and playing with plenty of power to be heard over the full-sized orchestra, which was under the baton of music director Salvador Brotons.

His expressed the first big cadenza with elegance, creating a slightly mysterious mood. After the orchestra rejoined him, he executed passages that seemed to leap about wildly – augmented by a fast filigree of notes.

In another extended cadenza, Zhgenti’s sound emerged out of the depths, followed by a rhapsodic theme that raced high and low on the keyboard. He executed crunchy chords a series of complex sounds, which separated into another speed-braking segment that was very exciting. Zhgenti wonderfully brought out the pensive qualities at the beginning of the second movement. He expressed the big stentorian themes and incisively ran the tables on a massive run that seemed to use all of the keys. The accompaniment of the wiggly-high-pitched flexatone and the ruminating bass clarinet created an oddly appealing vibe with the piano and orchestra.

The third movement with its very fast tempo was handled with panache by Zhgenti and wrapped up the piece with a grand enthusiasm that brought the audience to its feet.

For an encore, Zhengti replayed some of his parts from the concerto, demonstrating how the dissonance and some of the sadness in the music reflected the anguish of the Armenian people, which the composer was well-aware of. After contrasting a passage that he felt was more playful with another that was very serious, he told us that he felt the composer was trying to convey that children should pay attention to what their parents.

With his outstanding performance, Zhgenti is carving out a name for himself as one of the premiere pianists in the area. It would be great to hear him again, perhaps with a little Mozart or something in a completely different style.

After intermission, the orchestra launched into Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 (“Scottish”) with Brotons impressively conducting it from memory. Some flight intonation problems in the violins and a bobble or two from the French horns were minor quibbles in this very spirited performance. Dynamic contrast and good tempos made the piece very enjoyable with the Scottish-dance theme in the second movement a highlight. The clarinet duet in the third movement and the celebratory ending in the fourth, led by the horns, rounded off the piece joyously.

The “Roman Carnival Overture,” which began the concert, needed a quicker tempo to convey its festive atmosphere. Alan Juza’s English horn solo was a highlight with its melancholic and dreamy quality. But the joyful passages were sluggish. A little more zip would have given the piece more uplift.

Today's Birthdays

Alexander Borodin (1833-1887
Jean Papineau-Couture (1916-2000)
Michael Langdon (1920-1991)
Lucia Popp (1939-1993)
Neil Young (1945)


Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Roland Barthes (1915-1980)
Michael Ende (1929-1995)
Tracy Kidder (1945)
Katherine Weber (1955)

From the New Music Box:

On November 12, 1925, cornetist Louis Armstrong made the first recordings with a group under his own name for Okeh Records in Chicago, Illinois. The group, called Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, recorded his original compositions, "Gut Bucket Blues" and "Yes! I'm In The Barrel" (Okeh 8261) as well as "My Heart" composed by his wife Lil Hardin who was the pianist in the band. (The flipside of the 78rpm record on which the latter was issued, Okeh 8320, was "Armstrong's composition "Cornet Chop Suey" recorded three months later on February 26, 1926.) Armstrong's Hot Five and subsequent Hot Seven recordings are widely considered to be the earliest masterpieces of recorded jazz.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Bernhard Romberg (1767-1841)
Frederick Stock (1872-1942)
Ernest Ansermet (1883-1969)
Jan Simons (1925-2006)
Arthur Cunningham (1928-1997)
Vernon Handley (1930-2008)
Harry Bramma (1936)
Jennifer Bate (1944)
Fang Man (1977)


Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
Carlos Fuentes (1928-2012)
Mary Gaitskill (1955)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1898, shortly after it was finished, the painting “Nevermore” by Gaugin is purchased by the English composer Frederick Delius. The painting was inspired by Poe’s famous poem and is now in the collection of London’s Cortland Gallery.