Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Beniamino Gigli (1890-1957)
Lauritz Melchoir (1890-1973)
Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997)
Dame Vera Lynn (1917)
Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918-1970)
Marian McPartland (1918-2013)
Henry Mollicone (1946)


Ovid (43 BC - AD 17)
Ned Buntline (1823-1886)
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1928, the New York Symphony and the New York Philharmonic Society united to form the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York - now known as simply "The New York Philharmonic."

Monday, March 19, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Max Reger (1873-1916)
Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994)
Nancy Evans (1915-2000)
Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950)
Robert Muczynski (1929-2010)
Ornette Coleman (1930-2015)
Myung-Wha Chung (1944)
Carolyn Watkinson (1949)
Mathew Rosenblum (1954)


Tobias Smollett (1721-1771)
Nikolay Gogol (1809-1852)
Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890)
Philip Roth (1933)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Fantastic performance of Verdi's "Requiem" by Oregon Symphony, soloists, and choirs

Verdi’s “Requiem” received a stellar performance by the Oregon Symphony and forces at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Saturday, March 10. The combined effort of soloists, choirs, and orchestra under the baton of Music Director Carlos Kalmar unleashed a tremendously emotional experience that superbly embodied the meaning and power of the music. Even though the projected titles did not appear and no printed text was available in the program, the nearly packed house relished the committed and thoroughly engrossing performance that will remain etched in the memories of listeners.

Soprano Amber Wagner, mezzo-soprano Dana Beth Miller, tenor Dimitri Pittas, and bass Raymond Aceto went above and beyond with voices that soared – even over and beyond the triple fortissimos of the combined forces layered behind them. Yet they maintained a beautiful sound throughout with vibratos that stayed inbounds, and they added to the dramatic effect by stepping forward and singing a number of arias from memory.

Each soloist excelled individually but also in ensemble numbers, which was quite remarkable with the resonant yet emotive qualities of Wagner, Miller, Pittas, and Aceto balancing consistently throughout the evening. Considering the Schnitzer’s acoustical challenges for voices in the lower range, Miller, in particular poured out enough tonal beauty and volume to equal her colleagues, creating stunning moments, such as in the “Liber scriptus proferetur” (A written book will be brought forth”). Wagner, it should be noted, held a note so long, during the Offertoiro, that one began to worry that she might never inhale again. Yet, she made it look easy peasy. Pittas exuded a marvelous tenor line and Aceto laid out a resonating bass that could be felt in the last row of the upper balcony.

The Portland Symphonic Choir and University of Puget sound Adelphian Concert Choir, expertly prepared by Steven Zopfi, delivered an awesome performance. The diction and balance of the combined choruses was impressive right from the start with the words “Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine” (“Grant them eternal rest, O Lord”) and especially crystal clear in the a cappella passages, such as the “Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion” (“A hymn in Zion befits you, O God”). The singers also left everyone on the stage floor with a devastatingly volcanic “Dies irae” (“Day of wrath”) and “Rex tremendae majestatis” (“King of dreadful majesty”) that could have been heard in Clackamas County. And, wow, the “Sanctus” sparkled like angles flying about.

The orchestra, urged on by Kalmar, accompanied the vocal forces expertly, giving everyone goosebumps with the passages that spiraled downward or upward, evoking flames, judgement on the last day, angels, devils, triumph, and agony in unrelenting sonic waves. The trumpets on stage and in the balcony, along with the magnificent brass, including the exotic-looking cimbasso played by JáTik Clark, threatened to shake the rafters. During the most demonstrative moments the bass drum in the percussion battery was pummeled so hard that it looked as if it would bounce onto the stage. Yet there were quiet moments, such as during the “Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?” (“What can a wretch like me say?”) when the bassoon of Evan Kuhlmann created a plaintive lament.

Kalmar usually wields a conducting style that is animated and inspired, but in the performance, he seemed take things to a higher level. It was as if he were conducting as if his life depended on it, and that got everyone to perform as if their lives depended on the outcome as well. The cutoffs that he signaled were breathtakingly effective. No one in the hall coughed or dared to breathe after a cutoff took place. It was as if the entire hall was transfixed in a mind meld. That might sound frightening, but at the conclusion of the concert, it became a life-enhancing experience.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Christoph Vogel (1756-1788)
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
Paul Le Flem (1881-1984)
Gian Francesco Malipiero (1882-1973)
Willem van Hoogstraten (1884-1964)
Nobuko Imai (1943)
James Conlon (1950)
Jan-Hendrik Rootering (1950)
Courtney Pine (1964)


Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898)
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
Manly Hall (1901-1990)
George Plimpton (1927-2003)
Christa Wolf (1929-2011)
John Updike (1932-2009) 
Franz Wright (1953-2015)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729)
Manuel García II (1805-1906)
Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901)
Giuseppe Borgatti (1871-1950)
Brian Boydell (1917-2000)
Nat "King" Cole (1917-1965)
John LaMontaine (1920-2013)
Stephen Dodgson (1924-2013)
Betty Allen (1927-2009)
John Lill (1944)
Michael Finnissy (1946)
Patrick Burgan (1960)


Edmund Kean (1787-1833)
Frank B. Gilbreth (1911-2001)
Penelope Lively (1933)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Preview of Vancouver USA Singers concert in The Columbian

Today's edition of The Columbian newspaper featured by preview of Brahms' German Requiem,which the Vancouver USA Singers will perform with orchestra this weekend.  You can read the article here.

After the preview appeared in the paper this morning, I was notified (by the editor) of a nice letter from a reader:

Dear Mr. Bash,

As a 36 year member of the Vancouver USA Singers ( I was a member under the direction of the founder, Bill Slocum) I want to thank you for your excellent article in the Life section of today's Columbian. Your summary and primer of the work, the composer's motivation and his understanding of the universality of what he had written, were outstanding. I think the Columbian is fortunate to have you writing for them.

Thank you for your contributions to Vancouver, to the arts, and for highlighting our rapidly evolving choir and it's place in the Portland area performing arts community. As regards the choir, I think the best is yet to come.

Warm regards,

Russ Freeland

Today's Birthdays

Enrico Tamberlik (1820-1889)
Henny Youngman (1906-1998)
Christa Ludwig (1928)
Sir Roger Norrington (1934)
Teresa Berganza (1935)
David Del Tredici (1937)
Claus Peter Flor (1953)


James Madison (1751-1836)
Maxim Gorky (1868-1936)
César Vallejo (1892-1938)
Sid Fleischman (1920-2010)
Alice Hoffman (1952)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Eduard Strauss (1835-1916)
Johan Halvorsen (1864-1935)
Colin McPhee (1900-1964)
Lightnin' Hopkins (1912-1982)
Ben Johnston (1926)
Nicolas Flagello (1928-1994)
Jean Rudolphe Kars (1947)
Isabel Buchanan (1954)


Richard Ellmann (1918-1987)
Ben Okri (1959)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1985, Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, age 22, makes his operatic debut at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples, singing the lead tenor role in Domenico Morelli's comic opera "L'Amico Francesco."

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Johann Gottlieb Goldberg (1727-1756)
Pierre-Louis Couperin (1755-1789)
Johann Strauss Sr. (1804-1849)
Lawrance Collingwood (1887-1982)
Witold Rudziński (1913-2004)
Quincy Jones (1933)
Phillip Joll (1954)


Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Sylvia Beach (1887-1962)
Max Shulman (1919-1988)
Diane Arbus (1923-1871)