Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Ernesto Cavallini (1807-1874)
George Frederick Root (1820-1895)
Buddy Rich (1917-1987)
Regina Resnik (1922-2013)
David Schiff (1945)
Simon Bainbridge (1952)
Dimitris Sgouros (1969)

and

Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851)
Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)
R Crumb (1943)
Molly Ivins (1944-2007)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Helge Rosvaenge (1897-1972)
Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)
Charlie Parker (1920-1955)
Norman Platt (1920-2004)
Gilbert Amy (1936)
Anne Collins (1943-2009)
Lucia Valentini Terrani (1946-1998)
Michael Jackson (1958-2009)
Kevin Walczyk (1964)

and

John Locke (1632-1704)
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809-1894)
Karen Hesse (1952)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Umberto Giordano (1867-1948)
Alfred Baldwin Sloane (1872-1925)
Ivor Burney (1890-1937)
Karl Böhm (1894-1981)
Paul Henry Lang (1901-1991)
Richard Tucker (1913-1975)
John Shirley-Quirk (1931-2014)
Imogen Cooper (1949)

and

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
John Betjeman (1906-1984)
Rita Dove (1952)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
Eric Coates (1886-1957)
Lester Young (1909-1959)
Ann Murray (1949)
Sian Edwards (1959)

and

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)
Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945)
C. S. Forester (1899-1966)
Ira Levin (1929-2007)
William Least Heat-Moon (1939)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Willem de Fesch (1687-1761)
Arthur Loesser (1894-1969)
Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013)
Nicholas Braithwaite (1939)
Sally Beamish (1956)
Branford Marsalis (1960)

and

Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)
Lee de Forest (1873-1961)
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
Julio Cortázar (1914-1984)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Radiant singing brings William Byrd Festival to a close

“Hot weather doth not deter a fine choir nor doth it deter a large and devoted audience.” That was one of the main takeaways from the performance of Cantores in Ecclesia on August 20th at The Church of Saint Patrick for the final concert of the William Byrd Festival. The outdoor temperature had reached over 100 degrees that afternoon, and the sanctuary was toasty warm – defying the efforts of a couple of large floor fans to make the confines cooler. So it was no surprise when the men of the choir took their positions without their tuxedo jackets, but it was a bit of odd to see conductor Mark Williams bounce up in front of them in full regalia. Well, he is British, after all, so he is as cool as a cucumber.

And, believe it or not, Williams directed the concert with élan. With an array of gestures that included pointing index fingers, arcing arm movements, quick cutoffs, and fluttering hands, Williams coaxed a gorgeous sound from the 30-voice ensemble, which responded with a superb performance of works by William Byrd, Richard Dering, Thomas Weelkes, Thomas Tomkins, and Orlando Gibbons. Williams also gave the choir a break by playing two pieces on the positiv organ, a nifty mobile pipe organ built by Portland’s own Bond Pipe Organs.

The concert began with a robust rendition of Byrd’s “Sing joyfully.” The choir excelled with excellent diction, blend, and exciting dynamic surges that mirrored the words perfectly, such as the sudden crescendo with the words “sing loud” and “blow the trumpet.” The choir then pivoted expertly to the next piece, using no vibrato and perfectly matched vowels to sing Byrd’s “Domine, secundum actum meum” with its penitential and solemn text (“Lord, do not judge me according to my deeds”).

Showing his superb talent at the keyboard, Williams made Byrd’s “Fantasia in C major” flutter like a bird. His nimble fingers deftly played the many tricky and swift ornamentations, gracing the audience with a sonic smile. That piece was followed by the “Factum est silentium” of Dering, which related St. Michael’s battle with a dragon from the book of Revelation. The choristers delivered a smashingly dramatic account of Dering’s music, and the multilayered “Alleluia” at the end was heavenly.

Byrd’s “Haec dicit Dominus” (“Thus says the Lord”) conveyed a soothing message from the book of Jeremiah in which God promised to bring the Israelites back to their homeland. The singers traversed the shifting tonalities of that piece with ease, and concluded the first half of the program with a rousing “Hosanna to the Son of David” by Weelkes.

The second half of the program brought more of the same high quality singing, starting with three pieces by Byrd. His “Exsurge, quare obdormis” was a lively setting of a passage from Psalm 44 where suffering people accuse God of sleeping and forgetting about them. Next came “Aspice Domine” (“Look down, Lord”) with its soaring lines for the sopranos and finally “Defecit in dolore vita mea” (“My life has wasted away in pain”), which was sung by the altos, tenors, and basses.

Williams turned to the positive organ to perform Gibbons “Fantasia in A minor,” which, though more subdued than Byrd’s fantasia, was lovely. Afterwards, the choir sang a joyous “O Lord, arise,” which Weelkes based on two Psalms of praise. The mood then went in the opposite direction with Tomkins’s “When David heard,” an anguish-ridden retelling of David’s lamentations over the death of his son Absalom (from 2 Samuel). The concert finished on an upbeat note with an energetic “O clap your hands” by Gibbons.

Today's Birthdays

Robert Stolz (1880-1975)
Stefan Wolpe (1902-1972)
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
José Van Dam (1940)
Keith Tippett (1947)
Elvis Costello (1954)

and

Brian Moore (1921-1999)
Charles Wright (1935)
Martin Amis (1949)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Oregon Symphony balances budget for 7th year in a row

From the press release:

OREGON SYMPHONY CONTINUES WINNING STREAK
WITH ANOTHER STRONG SEASON
 
The 2015/16 season, with its wide-ranging musical offerings and energized community engagement efforts, sets more new records.

 
(PORTLAND, Ore.) –  President Scott Showalter announced today the results of the 2015/16 season, his second as the Symphony President. In addition to exceeding its revenue goals, the Oregon Symphony set a number of new records, including total season subscription revenue, total classical ticket revenue, percentage of first-time ticket buyers, the highest grossing single concert, and the amount raised at the annual gala. Consequently, the Symphony balanced its budget for the seventh consecutive season.
 
The 2015/16 season, propelled by strong performances from the orchestra, continued the Symphony’s embrace of a broad musical spectrum, with 82 performances of 50 concert programs—ranging from internationally renowned classical performers like Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, and Lang Lang, to Special Concerts and Presentations featuring Patti LaBelle, Melissa Etheridge, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Lily Tomlin. The season also saw the debut of the “Popcorn Package,” a new series which included live-to-picture performances of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Home Alone, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Back to the Future
 
Artistic highlights included:
 
·         The third Grammy nomination in the last four years, with the 2016 nomination of Spirit of the American Range for the Best Orchestral Performance.
·         The first year of percussionist Colin Currie’s three-year appointment as the Symphony’s Artist in Residence.
·         A widely praised five-part broadcast series on All Classical Portland.
 
The season drew historic ticket revenue:
 
·         Season subscription revenue up 7%.
·         20% of tickets purchased by patrons joining the Symphony for the first time.
·         22% of the season’s performances were sold out.
·         Classical subscription revenue up 5%.
 
It also saw strong performances for contributed revenue:
 
·         Contributed revenue of $8.3 million.
·         The annual gala raised $870,000, a 24% increase over last year’s record.
·         $1.87 million in contributions from the Oregon Symphony Association and Foundation Boards.
·         Support from over 25 foundations and 36 corporations, including the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Collins Foundation, the Brookby Foundation, the Oregon Community Foundation, Umpqua Bank, Jay and Diane Zidell Charitable Foundation, and Wells Fargo Foundation.
·         Receipt of $513,972 from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, which included funding from the Arts Education and Access Fund as well as ongoing operational support.
 
The Oregon Symphony continued to expand its education and community engagement efforts, with innovative programs like those in the David Douglas and Gladstone School Districts, Newberg’s Chehalem Cultural Center, St. Mary’s Home for Boys, Mary’s Woods, and Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.
 
In addition, the Symphony and its musicians performed and taught in a variety of places and venues throughout the community:
 
·         An expanded Waterfront Concert drew 18,000 attendees, with performances by Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, BRAVO Youth Orchestra, Hillsboro School District Mariachi Una Voz, Irish fiddler Kevin Burke, and Portland Taiko.
·         Months of teaching in various area schools that culminated in a “Link Up” concert with Carnegie Hall—with 2,700 Portland elementary students performing and singing alongside the Oregon Symphony in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
·         A full orchestra concert, featuring the film music of John Williams, at Rosa Parks Elementary School included a side-by-side performance with the young BRAVO Youth Orchestra for the second season in a row.
·         2,700 students in all nine grade schools within the David Douglas School District prepared for and performed with the Oregon Symphony in the concert hall as part of the Oregon Community Foundation-funded “Studio to Schools” program.
·         Through this same OCF grant, 23 Alice Ott Middle School string students received weekly private lessons by Oregon Symphony teaching artists to boost skills and encourage continued participation in the school orchestra.
·         36 Kinderkonzerts in three host schools were attended by 10,000 grade K-2 students.
·         Four Young People’s Concerts were performed at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for 7,000 students. 60 classroom visits were made to prepare students for these concerts.
·         Over 1,000 pre-schoolers enjoyed 14 Symphony Storytimes at five public libraries.
·         Five Oregon Symphony ensembles performed at St. Mary’s Home for Boys and the Coffee Creek Women’s Correctional Facility, and at many other community venues.
·         Five visiting soloists, including Joshua Bell, Pablo Villegas, and Simone Lamsma visited students in a variety of schools.
·         In a new collaboration with Earthtones Music Therapy services, Marylhurst University, and the Alzheimer’s Association of Oregon, 150 residents and caregivers at Mary’s Woods Continuing Care Retirement Center in Lake Oswego participated in a pilot series   of eight weekly music therapy-informed sessions of “musicNOW,” designed to use music to enrich the social and emotional well-being of those with age-related cognitive loss.
 
“We are all immensely proud to have added the power of music to so many lives throughout this great community of ours,” Showalter said. “And we are deeply grateful for the support the entire community has shown the Oregon Symphony.”
 
The Symphony signals the opening of Portland’s music season at the September 1 Waterfront Concert, the largest free concert in the state. The 2016/17 Oregon Symphony season—its 120th Anniversary Season—officially opens on September 10, when the renowned Renée Fleming returns.

Today's Birthdays

Alessandro Marcello (1669-1747)
Théodore Dubois (1837-1924)
Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)
Carlo Curley (1952)

and

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Max Beerbohm (1872-1956)
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
Oscar Hijuelos (1951-2013)
John Green (1977)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1456 that the first edition of the Gutenberg Bible was bound and completed in Mainz, Germany. The Gutenberg Bible was the first complete book printed with movable type. The press produced 180 copies of the Bible. Books had been printed on presses before, in China and Korea, with wood and bronze type; but Gutenberg used metal type, and made a press that could print many versions of the same text quickly. His contributions to printing were huge: he created an oil-based printing ink, he figured out how to cast individual pieces of type in metal so that they could be reused, and he designed a functioning printing press. But others before him had come up with similar ideas. Probably the most important thing that Gutenberg did was to develop the entire process of printing — he streamlined a system for assembling the type into a full book and then folding the pages into folios, which were then bound into an entire volume — and to do it all quickly. The techniques that Gutenberg refined were used for hundreds of years, and the publication of the Gutenberg Bible marked a turning point in the availability of knowledge to regular people.