Thursday, July 31, 2008

Talking with Stephen Marc Beaudoin and Tuesday Rupp about their upcoming recital


It’s not often that you get the chance to hear a real German Lieder recital in Portland, but on Saturday afternoon (3 pm), August 9th, two up-and-coming singers, tenor Stephen Marc Beaudoin and mezzo Tuesday Rupp at the Community Music Center. Beaudoin and Rupp will sing works by Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms, and for extra measure they will also perform songs from Kurt Weill’s “Die Dreigroschenoper” (“The Threepenny Opera”) and “Die Silbersee” ("The Silver Lake”).

Both Beaudoin and Rupp have been very active in Portland’s music scene. Beaudoin, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, recently completed performances of “Les Miserables” at the Broadway Rose Theater, and has sung with the Trinity Consort, Cappella Romana, Cantores in Ecclesia and the Portland Baroque Orchestra. Beaudoin is the founder of the male quartet FourScore and writes about the arts for many publications, including "Just Out," "Crosscut," and his blog, "From Every Corner."

Rupp is the music director at Milwaukie Presbyterian and sings with Cantores in Eccelsia, Cappella Romana, the Trinity Consort, and the Trinity Cathedral Chamber Choir. A graduate of Boston University, Rupp is pursuing a master’s degree in conducting from Portland State University. Rupp co-founded the women’s early music ensemble In Mulieribus, which has recently released its first recording, "Notre Dame de Grâce," and she does a lot of recording work for the Oregon Catholic Press.

Last week I met Beaudoin and Rupp at the BackSpace Café to find more about their upcoming concert.

Have the two of you worked together before? How did you meet?

Rupp: I first met Stephen at the William Byrd festival two years ago when we were both singing in Cantores in Ecclesia. We’ve continued to sing in several other choirs, and we’ve become good friends.

This recital was Stephen’s idea, and he invited me to be part of it.

Why aren’t there more lieder recitals in Portland?

Beaudoin: Yes, there’s a dearth of vocal recitals here. Portland has a huge pool of singers, but most work with ensembles. We’d like to open that up and work with other musicians. This concert, “Love 4 Ways,” will give us the chance to show what we can do.

Is Schumann’s song cycle “Dichterliebe” special to you?

Beaudoin: I’ve wanted to do the entire “Dichterliebe” since I was a young voice student – 16 or 17 years old. My voice teacher back then threw this work at me one day and my world shifted on its axis. The first tune in the set, “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,” is one of hardest opening songs in a song cycle that I know – in terms of the technique that it takes to sing it, the delicacy of the piano part, and in terms of setting a tone for a cycle that is very fragile and unsteady. But all of the songs in “Dichterliebe” present all sorts of emotional and technical problems that are fun to work through. Some people might know “Ich grolle nicht.” I’ve wanted to go back and do the whole thing. Ian Bostridge talks a lot about the maturity of self and intellect that it takes to approach a cycle like this one. I want to take a bite of it and see if I can get there.

What about the Brahms songs and Schumann’s “Frauenliebe und Leben.”

Rupp: I’ve been picking around the Brahms songs for a long time but I’ve never done them. But I’ve always wanted to. The “Frauenliebe” is an extremely personal set of songs. Mezzos love to do them, partly because there aren’t that many song cycles for women’s low voice.

The art of lieder is an exciting thing for audiences to discover. The themes that we are singing about have meanings for anyone who has ever fallen in love. In the Schumann’s “Fauenliebe” contains eight songs that discuss love: courtship, marriage, childbirth, and death of a spouse. The emotional content is powerful and very real. The first song says “Ever since I’ve seen him I think that I’m going blind.” And that just gets things started.

Then there’s the Weill numbers…

Rupp: Yes, the Weill section at the end that is sort of a departure. But it’s still about love, just not the type of love that was romanticized in the 19th Century.

Beaudoin: Weill was a theater composer who is finally being treated as a serious composer. I think that’s great.

Since you are singing the songs in German will the programs have and English translation?

Rupp: Yes, but it would be nice to have supertitles.

Beaudoin: Marilyn Horne's foundation tried that as a test drive for young singers a few years ago, but it got mixed reviews. Lieder doesn’t have a strong visual element like opera, so that might be why supertitles aren’t effective.

Rupp: My performance will be more conservative, although it would be fun to do something subtle in the way of movement and lighting.

Beaudoin: We’ve got the German down, except for some pattery stuff in the Weill that has tripped us up a bit. But we are looking forward to this performance.

-

What: Love: 4 Ways, a dramatic recital of 19th and 20th century German music
When: Saturday, August 9 at 3 pm
Where: Community Music Center
3350 SE Francis St. Tickets

Cost: $15 suggested donation ($10 students/seniors) at the door

Today's Birthdays

Norman Del Mar (1919-1994)
Steuart Bedford (1939)
Reinhard Goebel (1952)

and

Primo Levi (1919-1987)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Gerald Moore (1899-1987)
Meredith Davies (1922)
Moshe Atzmon (1931)
Paul Anka (1941)
Teresa Cahill (1944)
Alexina Louie (1949)
Christopher Warren-Green (1955)

and

Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929)
Henry Moore (1898-1986)
William Gass (1924)

French finale winds up Chamber Music Northwest’s summer festival

Chamber Music Northwest closed its 38th summer festival with a program of French music from Poulenc, Saint-Saëns, Ravel, and Fauré. The selection had undergone a few changes because a serious writs injury forced pianist André Watts to cancel his participation. Fortunately, Shai Wosner, was able to take the place of Watts and offered to perform pieces by Poulenc and Faure in place of the Frank Quintet in F minor for piano and string, with which he was unfamiliar. This was a wise choice, and the performance I heard at Kaul Auditorium on Sunday afternoon (July 27) sparkled like champagne.

Wosner and David Shifrin, CMNW’s artistic director and clarinetist par excellence performed Francis Poulenc’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. Poulenc wrote this piece in 1962 and finished his Oboe Sonata before he died a year later. Benny Goodman and Leonard Bernstein premiered the Clarinet Sonata in Carnegie Hall after Poulenc’s death.

In the space of three movements, Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata covers a lot of ground and a life-time of emotions. The expressivity that Shifrin can attain from his clarinet is awesome. In the first movement, Siciliano: Largo, he takes us to a place that is light-hearted. I think that I heard the mocking tone of school children (nah-nah) at one point. The slow and somber second movement, Allegro, created a sense of suspension and timelessness, that made me forget about everything around me, and that’s when someone’s cell phone went off. Gads! (Oh well, at least this shows how great of an artist Shifrin is because he can make the sound of his clarinet completely spellbinding.) The final movement, Adagio, had lots of mad dashes and leaps. That mocking, schoolyard passage returned briefly, and there were plenty of soft and smooth spaces as well. No matter, Shifrin made it all come alive. Wosner played expertly as well, and the piece was terrific.

Violinist Carmit Zori and harpist Heidi Lehwalder played the “Fantaisie” for violin and Harp (Op. 124) by Camille Saint-Saëns, which he finished in 1907 while on vacation on the Italia Riviera. Writing music was as natural as breathing for Saint-Saëns, who was said to have written his first composition at the age of six. The complimentary color in the tone of the violin and harp in his “Fantaisie” were wonderfully realized by Zori and Lehwalder. Their beautiful combination of sounds created an ethereal atmosphere that was sumptuous and satisfying.

Lehwalder really showed her superior talent in the performance of Maurice Ravel’s “Introduction and Allegro” for Harp with the Accompaniment of Flute, Clarinet, and Strings (1907). Lehwalder’s fingers seemed to be everywhere on the harp and in endless combinations, but, of course, most gorgeous were the big waves of sound that she created while strumming over all of the strings.

Joining Lehwalder in this piece was flutist Tara Helen O’Connor, violinists Steven Copes and Zori, violist Toby Appel, cellist Sophie Shao, and clarinetist Shifrin. Together they mesmerized everyone with outstanding control of the rhythm and dynamics, especially when they softened up the sound.

The concert ended with Gabriel Fauré’s Quartet No. 1 in C minor for Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello (Op. 15), which Fauré wrote in 1877 during a time when his fiancée broke off their engagement. Wosner, Shao, Appel, and Copies teamed up to give this work a sparkling performance. I especially enjoyed the silky smooth sound that the strings achieved in the second movement – it even bordered on sounding slithery. That was when Wosner accompanied them with some deft, pointillist-like playing, and the combination was marvelous. I also loved the part in the third movement when the violin and cello were playing the same notes an octave apart. The ensemble finished the piece in thrilling fashion with a dash to the finale, and the audience responded with a standing ovation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Portland Festival Symphony - off leash orchestra in the parks


Starting this Wednesday (Aug. 30) at Peninsula Park, the Portland Festival Symphony begins its 28th season of free concerts. Over the next few weeks (plus one date in September) this orchestra will perform in seven concerts in six public parks, including Laurelhurst Park, Washington Park, Foothills Park, Grant Park, and Cathedral Park. The acoustics may not be the best, but the ambience is terrific and the price is dirt cheap because it’s free. You can bring a picnic lunch, your kids, your dogs, and stay as long as you want. The concert program varies a bit at each performance, but Haydn’s “Toy Symphony” with participation for the children is always on the program and offers a fun way to introduce kids to music. (For the complete program at each venue, click here.)

The Portland Festival Symphony is the brainchild of Lajos Balogh, a Hungarian violinist who came to the United States in 1967 and began teaching at Marylhurst University that same year. For 27 years, Balogh was the principal second violinist of the Oregon Symphony. Balogh is the founder and music director of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony and continues to teach music at Marylhurst.

I talked with Balogh over the phone recently about his summer orchestra.

Why did you start the Portland Festival Symphony?

Balogh: I started the orchestra in 1981 when I became a US citizen. I wanted to celebrate and give something back to whole community. I had played with the opera orchestra in Washington Park and liked the setting in the amphitheater. So, I approached the city to ask for funding and got money from the city’s arts commission and some sponsors. The first concert was a huge success. According to the park bureau, 7,000 to 8,000 people attended. Afterwards I had many requests to do it again and keep it going. The Laurelhurst neighborhood wanted something. So, that’s how it began.

I think that this is a great way to bring music to the people. Just take it to the people. They can bring their children, their dogs, whatever.

Who are the members of the orchestra?

Balogh: Well, the first two or three years the players came from the Oregon Symphony. Most of the musicians back then were unemployed over the summer. Now it’s some from the symphony, some from the opera orchestra, and some freelancers. All are paid union scale, and we rehearse at the union hall.

I noticed that for some of the programs, your orchestra will be playing Leroy Anderson’s “Typewriter.”

Balogh: For the Leroy Anderson piece, someone a first suggested an electronic recording of a typewriter, but I want the real thing. So, we’ll have an old-fashioned typewriter on hand and Steve Lawrence, a percussionist with the Oregon Symphony will play it. I appreciate Anderson’s music a lot. In a three or four minute timeframe, he creates something special.

We’ve got a nice set of orchestra pieces that should work well. Dvorak’s 8th Symphony is one of my favorites. It has wonderful melodies and harmonies and is very upbeat. The Johann Strauss piece is the overture to his opera “The Gypsy Baron.” Back in Hungary that opera is very popular. So it is close to home.

Also, my son, Bela, is going to conduct the Kodaly number, “Intemezzo from Hary Janos” at the concert on Sunday at Washington Park and at the last concert in Foothills Park. I gave him a recording of it when he was a little boy and he listened to it all the time. It was one of his favorite pieces.

When you aren’t conducting, what keeps you busy?

Balogh: I really enjoy playing soccer. I play two or three times a week. It keeps me in shape, and it’s mentally stimulating also. One team is coed and the other is for men over 40 years old. I get to meets a lot of different people: doctors, lawyers, airline pilots. They are nice people.

Today's Birthdays

Sigmund Romberg (1887-1951)
Charles Farncombe (1919-2006)
Avet Terterian (1929-1994)
Mikis Theodorakis (1925)
Peter Schreier (1935)
Bernd Weikl (1942)
Olga Borodina (1963)

and

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)
Paul Taylor (1930)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Rudy Vallée (1901-1986)
Frank Loesser (1910-1969)
Kenneth Alwyn (1925)
Riccardo Muti (1941)

and

Ludwig A Feuerbach (1804-1872)
Beatrix Potter (1866-1843)
Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957)

Chamber Music Northwest gives a glimpse into the world of Claude Debussy

Chamber Music Northwest explored the late chamber music of Claude Debussy in a concert that drew a capacity crowd to Kaul Auditorium (Reed College) on Thursday (July 22). The music revealed a bit of Debussy’s mindset, which may have been affected by the events of WWI and the deterioration of his own health due to colon cancer. Each piece had a transitory nature that may have depicted fleeting impressions and feelings or was a reflection on the ephemeral nature of our existence… or maybe a little of both.

David Shifrin, artistic director of CMNW, and pianist Shai Wosner, began the concert with “Premiere Rhapsodie” for Clarinet and Piano, which Debussy wrote in 1909. As a preface to the piece, Shifrin told the audience that he had played this work over twenty times with Andre Watts. That remark might have intimated most pianists, but Wosner didn’t blink an eye and proceeded to support Shifrin with an impeccable accompaniment. Shifrin played the work from memory and used his superior breath control to create all sorts of sounds – from smooth, expansive legatos to fluttery, buttery staccato runs. Overall, this was a pleasant piece that ended by looking forward on a note of hope.

Cellist Sophie Shao teamed up with Wosner to perform the next piece on the program, Debussy’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, which he wrote in 1915. Together, Shao and Wosner interpreted Debussy’s improvisatory style with élan and took us on a journey that covered a changing landscape of moods. Highlights included the eloquent opening of the first movement (“Lent”), the quixotic pizzicato and dance-like moments of the second movement (“Modérément animé”), and the seamless tempo changes in the third movement (“Final: Animé”). Shao, in particular, seemed to know this technically difficult work like the back of her hand and was totally immersed in the music. Wosner, a last minute replacement for an injured André Watts, seemed very comfortable with the piece as well.

Debussy finished his Sonata for Violin and Piano in 1917, and it became his final composition, because he died the following year. Although it is regarded as a short work, this sonata covers a lot of ground, and its episodic nature was given the full treatment by violinist Carmit Zori and pianist Wosner. I loved the Zori’s ardent and emotive playing, and she handled the virtuosic finale with panache. The singing tone of Zori’s violin was matched by Wosner, who could impressively change dynamics on a dime.

After intermission, Tara Helen O’Connor played “Syrinx” for Unaccompanied Flute. Debussy wrote this piece in 1912. The title was imposed in 1927 upon the publication of the piece and refers to an ancient Greek story in which the nymph Syrinx escaped Pan by being transformed into a reed by her sisters. Of course, Pan takes the reed and fashions a flute from it.

In the hands of O’Connor, the ephemeral qualities of Debussy’s “Syrinx” came to the forefront. The many arresting sounds – some of which flitted here and there, others of which evoked someone in distress – that I would’ve enjoyed hearing this short piece a second time.

The final piece on the program was the Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp, which was written by Debussy in 1916. O’Connor was joined in the performance of this work by violist Toby Appel and harpist Heidi Lehwalder. Lehwalder, by the way, was the first recipient of the Avery Fisher Career Grant and teaches on the music faculty of the University of Washington in Seattle.

The trio gave Debussy’s Sonata a wonderful performance, but the music is not easy to grasp. Like the other works in the program, this sonata had harmonic twists and turns. The music seemed very episodic with no particular destination in mind. The tempo did pick up dramatically at the end with a passage that reminded me of a snowball rolling downhill, gathering in size before it stops.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Enrique Granados (1867-1916)
Ernő Dohnanyi (1877-1960)
Igor Markevitch (1912-1983)
Mario del Monaco (1915-1982)
Carol Vaness (1952)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Serge Koussevitsky (1874-1951)
Tadeusz Baird (1928-1981)
Alexis Weissenberg (1929)
Anthony Gilbert (1934)
Roger Smalley (1943)
Angela Hewitt (1958)
Mick Jagger (1943)

and

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
Carl Jung (1875-1961)
Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973)
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

New music by Sierra Sierra shares stage with Janáček and Schumann at Chamber Music Northwest concert

Since 1990 Chamber Music Northwest has commissioned 27 new works, a remarkable feat for any arts organization, and according to Linda Magee, executive director of CMNW, “more commissioned works are in the hopper.” That great news, because CMNW sponsorship gives today’s composers an opportunity to create new pieces and hear them performed. On Tuesday evening (July 22) at Cabell Center (Catlin Gabel School) I heard the world premiere of the latest CMNW-sponsored work, Roberto Sierra’s “Concierto de Cámera” for woodwind quintet and string quartet.

Sierra, a native of Puerto Rico, has many works that have been performed world-wide by ensembles ranging from the Kronos Quartet to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. He has also won numerous awards and since 1992 teaches composition on the music faculty of Cornell University.

Sierra’s “Concierto de Cámera,” co-commissioned by Chamber Music Northwest and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, is a lively, five-movement work with no pause between the first two. As the program notes pointed out, this work begins as a nonet, then is directed toward two separate ensembles, and ends up presenting the musicians as virtuoso soloists. So, in the way, the music gradually fragments in the way that it is played, yet it all sounded as a whole. That, of course, can be accomplished when it is played by two virtuoso ensembles, the Imani Winds and the Miami String Quartet. They displayed a wonderful way of transcending this difficult work and giving the audience an exciting journey into a new soundscape.

I really liked the second movement which seemed, for an extended passage, to evoke the flight of birds and ended with statement that seemed to question everything that had been played up to that point. The third movement had a quick-footed, agitated state and lots of aggressive sounds with sharp edges. The fourth movement juxtaposed an arresting legato from the winds and first violinist with pizzicato from the other strings. The last movement was jaunty and dance-like. All of the musicians from both ensembles really got into the work and the resulting applause was very enthusiastic.

The Imani Winds with David Shifrin on bass clarinet began the concert with Leoš Janáček’s “Mládí” (“Youth”), a sextet that he wrote in 1924 at the age of 70. In this four movement piece, Janáček recalls the exuberance of his childhood, and, indeed the music from the get-go chrips along at a fast clip. The blasts from Jeff Scott’s French horn, were wonderfully echoed by others in the ensemble. The second movement seemed to have a more serious tone, which at one pointed became almost sultry. It also contained some intriguing passages for the clarinet, which were played wonderfully by Mariam Adam, and somewhere in this movement the group of musicians seemed really gel and take the music to a higher level. The happy, chirpy sounds returned in the third movement before there was an abrupt shift to a more lyrical style. The fourth movement was energetic and ended joyously, which the audience embraced wholeheartedly.

After intermission, The Miami String Quartet teamed up with pianist Shai Wosner to give an outstanding performance of Robert Schumann’s Quintet in E-flat major for piano and strings, Op. 44. Their collaboration was superb, due in part to the wonderful sense of communication. Everyone in the ensemble was looking and listening to each other so intently that they got the utmost out of this piece. You can hear a great recording of this work, but to hear it live like this goes beyond what any recording can do.

One of the highlights of the first movement included the way that violist Yu Jin finished the phrases that cellist Keith Robinson began. The sweet tone of Benny Kim’s violin during second theme of the second movement was delicious to the ears. The melancholy themes, the dreamy sections, the parts that sounded like a beehive at work: they were all outstanding. The way that Wosner kept the piano in balance with the strings was fantastic! I loved the way that he crouched at the keyboard and looked at Kim in anticipation of the first note of the last movement before pouncing on it. The audience got completely swept up in the music and went bonkers at the end. It was a great way to end the evening.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Alfredo Casella (1883-1946)
Maureen Forrester (1930)

and

Elias Canetti (1905-1994)

Oregon Symphony still in precarious financial situation

The Portland Business Journal today gives an updated accounting of the Oregon Symphony's continuing struggle to remain financially viable. The good news is that Elaine Calder, the president of the OSO and the board have done an excellent job to trim the deficit and are on the right track. The tough news is that there's still a long ways to go.

Note: David Stabler and Charles Noble in their blogs have pointed out several errors in this article (including a deficit of $549,00 instead of $671,000).

Also, last year, I attended the annual meeting of the Oregon Symphony, and the big emphasis focus on corralling the big deficits and balancing the budget after the 2008-2009 season. Looking at the final tally of the deficit from the 2007-2008 season, I would have to say that Calder and company have taken great strides and may very well achieve the balanced-budget goal next year.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Adolphe Charles Adam (1803-1856)
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959)
Robert Farnon (1917-2005)
Ruggiero Ricci (1918)
Guiseppe de Stefano (1921-2008)
Wilfred Josephs (1927-1997)
Peter Serkin (1947)
Philippe Hurel (1955)

and

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)
Robert Graves (1895-1985)
Frank Wedekind (1864-1918)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Franz Berwald (1796-1868)
Francesco Cilea (1866-1950)
Leon Fleisher (1928)
Bernard Roberts (1933)
Maria João Pires (1944)
Susan Graham (1960)

and

Robert Graves (1895-1985)

Article on Portland Piano Festival in Crosscut

Last week, I attended several concerts at Portland Piano International's Summer Festival and then wrote an article for Crosscut. You can read it here.

Although I did not attend Fredric Chiu’s concert, I did hear him present an unusual demonstration-lecture (July 19) in which he explained techniques for practicing without a keyboard. Chiu handed out a short piece by Mendelssohn (Opus 72, No. 1) to thirteen people in the audience. They studied the dynamics, rhythm, ornamentation, harmonic structure, and other elements of the piece before coming up on the stage and playing it. Each person only played a couple of measures and thereby completed the work from memory. It seemed to be a positive experience for all of the participants, though I think that most pianists would be careful to correct any mistake as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Hans Rosbaud (1895-1962)
Licia Albanese (1913)
George Dreyfus (1928)
Ann Howard (1936)
Nigel Hess (1953)

and

Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Raymond Chandler (1888-1959)
Alexander Calder (1898-1976)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sing Faure's Requiem this Wednesday

Join members of the Portland Symphonic Choir this Wednesday evening in a special summer rehearsal of Gabriel Faure's "Requiem" and "Cantique de Jean Racine." Anna Song, the assistant director of the Portland Symphonic Choir will conduct. All singers of any level are welcome and scores will be provided. The cost for anyone who is not a member of the Portland Symphonic Choir is $7. Tickets available only at the door.

When: July 23rd at 7 pm
Where: Moriarty Arts and Humanities Building on the Cascade Campus of Portland Community College (Corner of North Killingsworth and Albina)
Cost: $7

Extra note: Last weeks rehearsal of Verdi's "Requiem" drew over 150 singers and went very well.

Today's Birthdays

Anton Kuerti (1938)
Isaac Stern (1920-2001)
Cat Stevens (1948)

and

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Garry Trudeau (1948)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Vilém Tauský (1910-2004)
Michael Gielen (1927)
Nam June Paik (1932)
Hukwe Zawose (1938-2003)
Carlos Santana (1947)

and

Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374)
Pavel Kohout (1928)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Boyd Neel (1905-1981)
Louis Kentner (1905-1987)
Robert Mann (1920)
Nicholas Danby (1935-1937)
Dominic Muldowney (1952)
David Robertson (1958)
Carlo Rizzi (1960)
Mark Wigglesworth (1964)
Evelyn Glennie (1965)
Russell Braun (1965)

and

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Portland Opera on KBPS

Starting this weekend, KBPS (FM 89.9) will broadcast Portland Opera's season that concluded in May with "Aida."

Here is the schedule:

July 19 Carmen (Bizet)
July 26 Cinderella (La Cenerentola) (Rossini)
August 2 Rodelinda (Handel)
August 9 Albert Herring (Britten)
August 16 Aida (Verdi)

In preparation for Portland Opera's upcoming season, KBPS will also broadcast these commercial recordings:

August 23 La Traviata (Verdi)
August 30 Fidelio (Beethoven)
September 6 The Turn of the Screw (Britten)
September 13 La Calisto (Cavalli)
September 20 Rigoletto (Verdi)

Today's Birthdays

Pauline Viardot (1821-1910)
Julius Fučík (1872-1916)
Kurt Masur (1927)
Screamin' Jay Hawkins (1929-2000)
R. Murray Schafer (1933)
Ricky Skaggs (1954)

and

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)
Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979)
Harry Levin (1912-1994)
Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933)
Hunter S. Thompson (1937-2005)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seattle Opera honors Lawrence Brownlee and Thomas Lynch

In a recently issued press release, Seattle Opera announced that tenor Lawrence Brownlee and set designer Thomas Lynch as its Artists of the Year for their outstanding contributions to the success of Seattle Opera over the past season.

Brownlee gave the performance of a lifetime as Arturo in Seattle Opera’s production of I Puritani just a few month's ago. I heard the brilliant and beautiful high F above high C that Brownlee hit with ease on the evening that I attended (and wrote a review here). It was astounding!

Lynch created an dark and moody set for Gluck’sIphigenia in Tauris. (My review is here.) This was Lynch's fifth set design for Seattle Opera. His first set design for Seattle Opera was Gluck’s
Orphée et Eurydice, and his other designs include Handel’s Xerxes, and Wagner’s Lohengrin, Fliegende Holländer, and Ring des Nibelungen.

Today's Birthdays

Isaac Watts (1674-1748)
Sir Donald F. Tovey (1875-1940)
Eleanor Steber (1914-1990)
Peter Schickele (1935)
Michael Roll (1946)
Dauwn Upshaw (1960)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931)
Goffredo Petrassi (1904-2003)
Bella Davidovich (1928)
Bryden Thomson (1928-1991)
Geoffrey Burgon (1941)
Pinchas Zukerman (1948)
Joanna MacGregor (1959)
James MacMillan (1959)
Helmut Oehring (1961)

and

Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792)
Roald Amundsen (1872-1928)
Ginger Rogers (1911-1995)

Interview with ArtsJournal's Douglas McLennan on Crosscut

An interview I did with Douglas McLennan, the Juilliard-trained pianist, who is the editor and publisher of ArtsJournal.com, is now available in Crosscut. McLennan is probably the most knowledgeable person in the area of online arts journalism. I hope that you enjoy the reading the interview.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Talking with pianist Simone Dinnerstein


Simone Dinnerstein, a featured artist at Portland Piano International’s Summer Festival, has taken a most unusual route to become one of the hottest pianists on the planet. Just three years ago at the age of 33, Dinnerstein raised enough money to record Bach’s “Goldberg Variations” and produce a recital debut at Carnegie Hall. The resulting acclaim from the New York Times and other publications catapulted Dinnerstein into the limelight, landing her an agent and major contracts for concerts around the world.

I recently talked with Dinnerstein over the phone about her career.


It is just astounding that you to have a terrific artistic career without having won a piano competition.

Dinnerstein: I’m not the type of musician who excels in a competition setting. For a time, I thought that this would prevent me from having a career. Growing up as a pianist, I thought of winning competitions and following the regular kind of magic that happens.

Did you have a plan for all of this to happen?


Dinnerstein: Looking back on it, it looks as if I had a plan, but I didn’t. I was playing concerts a lot, and most of them were in small venues. Then I started to think that my career would continue in this sort of way, and that sort of thinking actually helped me to mature as an artist. Then I was accepted to an organization called Astral Artistic Services, which is based in Philadelphia. They help artists who are in transition between being students and having full professional careers. They wanted to present me in a big debut recital in Philadelphia. Then I found that I was pregnant. It was great but unexpected.

So, for the recital, I wanted to learn a piece of music that would be meaningful to me during my pregnancy. So I decided on the “Goldberg Variations.” After my son was born and after my recital in Philadelphia, I began to play a lot in alternative types of venues. Then I decided that I’d like to record the “Goldberg Variantions.” I raised the money for the recording from a few friends who had been supportive over the years. They all pitched in, and I made the CD, which I then sent to a few different people to get their feedback. Everyone was excited about it. Then we thought that it would be best if I played a recital of this music at Carnegie Hall. I had another sponsor who paid for the recital, and got signed by Columbia Artists Management, then a year later Telarc decided that they wanted to release the Goldberg CD, which I had originally recorded in 2005.

There are so many pianists out there. It is really hard to make a difference. But your playing has been lauded as something unique.


Dinnerstein: I think that I’m becoming more mature in my playing and try not to think of other people expectations of how something should be played. I just think about the music itself and what it means to me. Whenever I listen to other musicians who I admire, I find that they have a personal response to the music, and they have internalized the music – not necessarily following a certain tradition, but finding the way the music works for them. When I made that recording, that’s what I had in mind – how the music sounded to me.

The Telarc recording of your recital in Berlin last year will be released to the public on August 26th. How do you go about determining where or when a recording should be done?

Dinnerstein: I was scheduled to play a recital at the Berlin Philharmonie, and that’s considered one of the great concert halls of Europe. I had never played there before, but I knew that it’s an amazing acoustical space. With Berlin’s history and all, I thought that it would be a great place for a recording, especially with the fact that I was playing a program of German and American music. Telarc decided that it would be a great idea to record that recital. So the CD is of that recital in Berlin.

In that recording, you play Philip Lasser’s 12 Variations on a Chorale by J. S. Bach “Nimm von uns, Herr, du treuer Gott” (“Take from us, Lord, Thou faithful God”).

Dinnerstein: Yes, Philip’s piece is very beautiful and very deep. He has taken one of Bach’s very dark chorales. Phillip has a unique voice. You can hear strains of French impressionism in this piece. You also hear wide-open American harmonies and a little bit a jazz as well.

How did you discover Philip Lasser’s music?

Dinnerstein: I discovered him when I played a cello sonata that he wrote for my friend Zuill Bailey. We played it together, and then I met Phillip Lasser, and Phillip said that he had written these twelve variations and he gave the score and I looked at it and could tell right away that they were right up my alley. I loved them and could hear them in my head – how I would want to play them. So I started performing them about a year ago and thought that they would be perfect my recital. It’s great to have some new music in your repertoire.

Philip’s music is pretty tonal; so a lot of people can relate to it well. I just premiered set of variations that he wrote for me and a violinist. People were really involved in the music. Some contemporary music has a lack of beauty, but Philip’s is wonderful.

In your upcoming concert at the Portland Piano International Summer Festival, you will be playing some music by Aaron Copland and Anton Webern.

Dinnerstein:
Yes, I’m starting the concert with an early work of Copland, his “Piano Variations,” which is from his atonal period. That piece will sound different to some people who are not familiar with this period of his music. Some of it is very jazzy and foreshadows some of the popular music that he wrote later on.

After that I play the Webern “Variations,” a short, incredibly beautiful piece. Even though it’s a 12-tone piece, it’s very romantic and it almost comes out of Brahms.

Then I’ll play Bach’s French Suite No. 5, which will be followed by the Lasser Variations, and then the Beethoven Sonata No 32, Opus 111. All in all, this is the same program that I played in Berlin, but I couldn’t fit all of the pieces on one CD, so I had to leave out the Copland and Webern. The Beethoven has a lot of dissonances in it and is very contemporary sounding. Starting with the Copland and ending with the Beethoven works very well.

How do you fit being a touring artist and a mom at the same time?

Dinnerstein: It’s very challenging, but many women in other careers have similar challenges. If I were a lawyer it could be even more challenging, every day I would be gone for most of the day. In my career, I do travel, and I might be away from home for half of the month, but then when I’m home, I’m home all the time. It’s really nice that my husband, Jeremy, and son, Adrian (who is six years old) can travel with me sometimes. My husband is a teacher at my son’s school, so they are on the same schedule. They aren’t going on this trip because I’m playing at too many places. This past mid-winter break, they came with me when I toured with the Dresden Philharmonic in Florida and Puerto Rico. That was wonderful.

When I’m at home, I practice during the day while my son is at school, then I practice again when he is asleep at night – usually from 8 to 10 in the evening. But I also volunteer at his classroom. So, I’m busy. There’s not a lot of down time. I get to rest on the airplane.

After you finish your West-coast tour, what else do you have coming up?

Dinnerstein: Later in the summer, I’m playing at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago. Then I’ll be in Germany at the Stuttgart Bach Festival, and then at Bremen Festival to play with Kristjan Järvi’s Absolut Ensemble. We are doing this thing called Bach Re-invention, which is a newly written concerto that takes Bach through several different kinds of genres. There’s a dj who is part of the orchestra, then we do a tango, then some Arabic-influenced music, but it’s all based on Bach’s inventions. I’ve never done anything like this before, and it involves improvisation, which is very new for me.

After that I’ll do my third Telarc recording. It’ll be Mozart’s Piano Concertos 21 and 23 with a fantastic new orchestra called The Knights. It’s a New York-based orchestra, and we’ll do the recording without a conductor. They are a very young and vibrant ensemble, and I’m very excited about the project. I want the concertos to sound like chamber music. One of the things about this orchestra is that they are incredibly good at listening to each other. I saw them do Beethoven’s “Pastoral Symphony” and they all knew what the other orchestra members were playing, because they were looking at each other.

I’m playing some nice recitals. I’ve got one at the Kennedy Center, another at Wigmore Hall in London, and playing at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. I’m learning Chopin’s first piano concerto for a concert with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony and Beethoven’s second with the New Jersey Symphony.

Wow, you are busy! Thanks for giving us your time!

Dinnerstein: You are most welcome. See you in Portland.

------------------------------------------------------

Simone Dinnerstein plays at the Portland Piano International Summer Festival on Saturday, July 19th at 7:30 pm at the World Forestry Center. Dinnerstein will also give a masterclass on July 20th at 2 pm.

For more information, see Portland Piano International or call 503-228-1388 for tickets.

Today's Birthdays

Ronald Binge (1910-1979)
Jack Beeson (1921)
Julian Bream (1933)
Sir Harrison Birtwistle (1934)
Linda Ronstadt (1946)
John Casken (1949)
Richard Margison (1954)

and

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
Walter Benjamin (1892-1940)
Dame Iris Murdoch (1919-1999)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sing Verdi’s Requiem this Wednesday!

Join members of the Portland Symphonic Choir in an air-conditioned hall this Wednesday to read through Giuseppe Verdi’s “Requiem,” one of the great master works in choral literature. In a program called Summer Sings! the Portland Symphonic Choir welcomes choral singers of all ages and abilities and provides the scores so that you knock the dust off of your vocal chords. Stephen Zopfi, the artistic director of PSC, will conduct. Parking is free.

Here are the details:

When: Wed. July 16th at 7 pm.
Where: PCC Cascade Campus – Moriarty Fine Arts Building
N. Killingsworth at Albina

Cost: $7 at the door

For more information, click here.

Today's Birthdays

Gerald Finzi (1901-1956)
Woody Guthrie (1912-1967)
Unsuk Chin (1961)

and

James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
Frank Raymond Leavis (1895-1978)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fred Sherry and friends shine - critic gets hit with vomit

I know that some folks have a problem with Arnold Schoenberg's 12-tone pieces, but projectile vomit is not something that I usually associate with his music. Yesterday evening (Saturday, July 12th at Kaul Auditorium), I attended a special Chamber Music Northwest concert that celebrated the 30 years of performing that cellist extaordinaire, Fred Sherry, has given at the summer festival. Sherry and his ensemble were deep in the waters of Schoenberg's "String Quartet No. 3" when I heard a noise and felt something warm and wet on my back. I couldn't quite believe it at first and sat stunned for a few seconds before turning around to see who could have spewed their supper all over the back of my shirt. I saw a woman who seemed to have collapsed towards the back of her seat - perhaps in relief of having delivered a direct hit on a music critic who was poised to pen something profound about Schoenberg's music. Right after I got up out of my seat another woman got up to wave me away from the scene, so I - plastered with the residue of an oatmeal dinner - made my way as quietly as I could to the bathroom. I thought of going home directly, but I had a meeting with David Brewster, the publisher of Crosscut.com, set up during intermission. Fortunately, a savvy CMNW team member gave me a CMNW polo shirt to wear and a plastic bag for my shirt. That was good enough for me, so I laughed off the situation and heard the rest of the concert with no more fuss.

Back to the music!

The first piece on the program was the "Fantasias Nos. 3 and 4 for String Sextet" by Orlando Gibbons, one the foremost composers of Jacobean England. The Fred Sherry Quartet (Sherry plus violinists Jennifer Frautschi and Jesse Mills and violist Richard O'Neill) collaborated with violist Paul Neubauer and cellist Michael Nicolas to apply a silky tone to this Renaissance-early Baroque piece. The music was very pleasant, especially when the sextet down-shifted to delicate and soft passages. But pleasantness aside, this kind of music had no climax and didn't seem to go anywhere in particular.

Next came the Schoenberg "String Quartet No. 3," which Sherry prefaced by remarking that Schoenberg had connected this piece to a picture that used to hang above his bed when he was a child. The picture was of a pirate captain who had his head nailed to the mast of his ship. That got some chuckles from the audience.

This four-movement work started off with some intriguing sounds in which part of the quartet would pluck all sorts of seemingly random notes while the other players skittered about. From one moment to the next the instruments were like a scramble of disconnected voices in a dark forest. I recall the second movement ending with a brief and eloquent question and the third movement contained some interesting pairings of the violins versus the viola and cello.

Well,up until I was disrupted, I would have to say that the Sherry Quartet nailed this number.

After intermission, I got to hear Charles Wuorinen's "Sextet for Two Violins, Two Violas and Two Cellos." This works completed in 1989 as a commission from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and dedicated to Sherry, who was at that time the artistic director of the CMSLC.

The ensemble played this work with thrilling conviction. There were lots of stinging attacks, sudden stops, slightly languorous moments, and furious swells. Sherry seemed to enjoy every minute of the music making. He tore some horsehair from his bow, because he was playing so hard. Then ensemble won over the audience, which responded with tremendous applause.

The last work on the program was a world premiere of "A Set of Arrangements for Two Violins, Two Violas and Two Cellos" by Jesse Mills. Members of Sherry's Quartet chose four selections from this diverse set. The "Russian Maiden's Song" contained a sweet, yet melancholy melody that ended very poignantly. "Moving Past" featured Mills with some bluesy/jazzy sounds. I loved the thick viola parts in "The Stormy Morning" and "The Inn." And "Funiculi, Funicula" had the perfect zing to end the evening.

Still, the next time I hear some music by Schoenberg, I'll have to bring an extra shirt.
-----
PS:
At noontime today I received a sympathetic phone call from Linda Magee, executive director of CMNW. I asked her if the woman who spilled her beans on me was ok. Magee replied that her staff offered to get a doctor for the woman, but she didn't want one and told them that she felt fine and would ride her bicycle home.

Today's Birthdays

Sir Reginald Goodall (1905-1990)
Carlo Bergonzi (1924)
Jeanne Loriod (1928-2001)
Per Nørgård (1932)
Albert Ayler (1936-1970)
Jennifer Smith (1946)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Hanna Lintu scores in Chicago with obscure program

Hanna Lintu, the Finnish conductor who has done very well as a guest director of the Oregon Symphony, recently conducted a challenging program at the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. Lintu teamed up with the Grant Park Chorus to perform two rare works: Jean Sibelius' "The Captive Queen" (in Finnish) and Karol Szymanowski's "Stabat Mater" (in Polish). Here are the reviews:

in the Chicago Tribune

and

in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Today's Birthdays

Anton Arensky (1861-1906)
George Butterworth (1885-19116)
Kirsten Flagstad (1895-1962)
Oscar Hammerstein II (1895-1960)
Van Cliburn (1934)
Gerd Albrecht (1935)
Richard Stolzman (1942)
Roger Vignoles (1943)

and

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
George Eastman (1854-1932)
Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Maria Larionoff appointed as concertmaster of the Seattle Symphony

Yesterday, the Seattle Symphony issued a press release stating that Maria Larionoff has been named its new concertmaster. This ends the rotation of four concertmasters that music director Gerard Schwarz used during the past season.

I first spotted this bit of news on The Gathering Note.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Radio station in Seattle picks up critic Melinda Bargreen

The Gathering Note reports that Melinda Bargreeen, the former classical music critic at the Seattle Times, is now reviewing concerts for King FM 98.1. You can read her review of Seattle Chamber Music's Summer Festival here.

Today's Birthdays

Liza Lehmann (1862-1918)
Nicolai Gedda (1925)
Herbert Blomstedt (1927)
Hermann Prey (1929-1998)
Liona Boyd (1949)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Get ready for Portland Piano International's summer festival

This weekend Portland Piano International launches its annual summer festival with a wonderful selection of concerts, master classes, movies, and art exhibits. Featured artists include Jon Nakamatsu, Anthony de Mare, Steven Mayer, Marino Formenti, Simone Dinnerstein, Frederic Chiu. The festival runs from July 12 to the 20th. For more information click here.

Today's Birthdays

Henri Weiniawski (1835-1880)
Carl Orff (1895-1982)
Ljuba Welitsch (193-1996)
Ian Wallace (1919)
Josephine Veasey (1930)
Arlo Guthrie (1947)
Graham Johnson (1950)

and

Marcel Proust (1871-1922)
Saul Bellow (1915-2005)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936)
Dame Elizabeth Lutyens (1906-1983)
David Diamond (1915-2005)
David Zinman (1936)
John Mark Ainsley (1963)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Percy Grainger (1882-1961)
George Antheil (1900-1959)
Billy Eckstine (1914-1993)
Susan Chilcott (1963-2003)
Raffi Cavoukian (1948)

and

Philip Johnson (1906-2005)

Ron Blessinger posts his frustration regarding the demise of the Cascade Festival of Music

Ron Blessinger, the concertmaster of the CFM for the past several years, vents some of his frustration with the way that musicians were handled by the Cascade Festival of Music. Folks don't realize that musicians buy plane tickets and turn down other gigs in order to make the festival a reality. You can read what Blessinger has to say here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Seattle Opera launches LGBT Night

Following is a press release from the Seattle Opera:


Seattle—In an initiative intended to attract diverse audience bases, Seattle Opera is launching LGBT Nights, designed especially for Seattle’s Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender community. Seattle Opera has designated one Friday performance of each of three popular operas as evenings when members of the LGBT community can gather at McCaw Hall and enjoy all that Seattle Opera has to offer. The first three LGBT nights will take place during Aida (August 22), The Pearl Fishers (January 23), and The Marriage of Figaro (May 15).

The kickoff event on August 22 will be hosted by Seattle Opera Board of Trustees member and noted Man about Town JJ McKay and Washington State Senator Ed Murray. These events are priced at $100 per ticket and include discounted main floor orchestra seating, private intermission receptions including complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres during the first intermission and coffee and dessert during the second intermission, and free admission to “Overtures to the Opera” (regularly priced at $7.00), an informative and fast-paced pre-opera lecture.

“We are delighted to welcome friends and family from the LGBT community to three unforgettable evenings of entertainment and merriment for an affordable price,” said Alvin Alexander Henry, Seattle Opera’s Director of Marketing and Communications. “Our guests will be able to socialize, make new friends, and network with other opera goers while attending performances at one of the premier opera companies. Opera is for everyone.”

Tickets may be purchased in two ways—online by going to seattleopera.org/tickets or via mobile phone by going to mobile.seattleopera.org. Use the Promotion code: LGBT to purchase tickets.

Today's Birthdays

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
Gian Carlo Menotti (1911-2007)
Cor de Groot (1914-1993)
Doc Severinson (1927)
Ringo Starr (1940)
Michaela Petri (1958)

and

Lion Feuchtwanger (1884-1958)
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Hans Eisler (1898-1962)
Dorothy Kirsten (1910-1992)
Ernst Haefliger (1919-2007)
Maurice Hasson (1934)
Vladimir Ashkenazy (1937)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

On-demand broadcast of world-class organ music from Trinity Church in NYC

Although opera aficiondos can now experience the Met, San Francisco, and Chicago Lyric operas at their local movie theaters, organ enthusiasts right off the internet via concerts that can be streamed on demand from Trinity Church in New York City. Trinity Church is sponsoring a series of concerts on its Marshall & Ogletree American Classic virtual pipe organ. The first concert, held on July 3rd featured Italian concert organists and recording artists Federica Iannella and Giuliana Maccaron, who used both chancel and gallery consoles during their concert, perform four-hand works by Morandi and Rossini. The concerts then continue with performances by Germany’s Barbara Dennerlein (July 10), England’s Jane Watts (July 17), America’s Joyce Jones (July 24), Russia’s Ludmila Golub (July 31), and Korea’s Ahreum Han (August 7). The catchy name of this series is Pedals & Pumps, A Festival of Organ Divas.

To hear and see the concert by Iannella and Maccaron, click here. then click the watch now button.

Today's Birthdays

Wanda Landowska (1879-1958)
Jan Kubelík (1880-1940)
Gordon Jacob (1895-1984)
János Starker (1924)
Matthias Bamert (1942)
Alexander Lazarev (1945)
Isabelle Poulenard (1961)

and

Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)
Barbara Frischmuth (1941)

Friday, July 4, 2008

After 27-year hiatus, OBF returns to Portland for Bach's B-minor Mass

I knew that Friday, June 27th would be a good night at the Schnitz when the line was stretched all the way down the block in front of the Heathman hotel just five minutes before the concert was set to start. The reason for this excitement was that Eugene's world-renowned Oregon Bach Festival was about to give its first Portland performance since 1981, and was in fact launching this year's festival here in the Rose City. And what a way to return: the stage was set for J.S. Bach's colossal Mass in B-minor under the baton of Grammy-winning Bach scholar Helmuth Rilling. Fortunately I had gotten my tickets the first day they went on sale, so I didn't need to stand in that long line in the sweltering summer heat. Another reason the line was so promising was that, in order to draw a performance of this caliber to Portland again next year, the PDX arts community would need to deliver a strong show of support for this enterprise. It was heartening to see that support materialize as if before my very eyes. We did our part, and during the pre-concert hoopla, OBF Executive Director John Evans assured the enthusiastic, near-sellout crowd that the OBF would most definitely be returning to Portland next year.

This was my first time witnessing Rilling at work, and from the solemn intonation of the opening Kyrie on, I was struck by the methodical precision with which the maestro drew music from his group. There was no excessive movement or showy gesticulation; like clockwork and with serious intent, he brought forth a stupendous, seamless wall of sound. What struck me immediately was the almost uncanny blend: with the entire chorus singing the Kyrie, they were yet at balance with the mournful obbligato of one single oboe.

After the long, contemplative meditation of the Kyrie, the exuberant Gloria shone forth like brilliant rays of sun from behind a wall of dark clouds. The diction was superb throughout, and this was noticeable from the first lines of the Gloria. While all of the soloists were wonderful to hear, contralto Ingeborg Danz, affiliated with Rilling's Internationale Bachakademie of Stuttgart, was simply magnificent. During the Qui sedes I felt completely entranced, and could have gone on listening to her all night long. She possesses a richness of tone coupled with a supple timbre and unimstakeable power. I could definitely hear the qualities in her voice that make her so sought after as a lieder singer. For the final Cum Sanco Spiritu Rilling employed a sort of mezzo-staccato on the melismatic sections that made the work crisp and bright.

There was no intermission as such; just a brief respite during which Rilling sat down for five minutes or so, only to rise and launch right into the Symbolum Nicenum that formed the second half. While the performance as a whole was magnificent, I noticed a certain 'politeness' in the many of the choral movements of the first half that seemed to somehow mute the overall power of the work. The accuracy was perfect, all the notes were there; it was more of an emotional fire that was sometimes absent.

This problem was non-existent in the second half; it seemed as though the choir began to infuse their singing with the meaning behind the text, thus lending the Symbolum more emotional heft than was present during the first part. That's not to say the first half was not enjoyable in any way, only that when the choir seemed to suddenly spark during the second half, I felt drawn into the mysteries about which they were singing more fully. This was especially noticeable during the Resurrexit and later in the Osanna. By the time the serene Dona Nobis Pacem closed the work out, I felt that I had gone on a powerful journey indeed. It was a joy to hear Rilling and this magnificent ensemble perform such a towering work here in Portland, and it will be a great pleasure to have them back next year.

Today's Birthdays

Louis-Claude Daquin (1694-1772)
Stephen Foster (1826-1864)
Roy Henderson (1899-2000)
Louis Armstrong (1900-1971)
Flor Peeters (1903-1986)
Mitch Miller (1911)
Tibor Varga (1921-2003)

and

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
Lionel Trilling (1905-1975)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Today's Birthdays

Leoš Janáček (1854-1928)
Carlos Kleiber (1930-2004)
Brigitte Fassbaender (1939)

adn

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) * and died on June 3rd
Sir Tom Stoppard (1937)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Portland native, Anne Midgette hired as staff classical music critic for Washington Post

Finally, some positive news for classical music critics!

Accoring to a report in Musical America, Anne Midgette has been hired by the Washington Post as the staff classical music critic. Midgette has been the interim critic since Tim Page took a buyout a couple of months ago.

Midgette is a native of Portland, Oregon.

Today's Birthdays

Christoph W. Gluck (1714-1787)
Frederick Fennell (1914-2004)

and

Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock (1724-1803)
Hermann Hesse (1877-1962)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Classical Revolution Portland fires up P-town's Classical Underground.

There's been a movement building for quite some time now in various cities around the world, a movement that seeks to bring live classical music out of the concert halls and play it where different types of audiences might hear it: clubs, lounges, pubs etc. Since Portland is often on the cutting edge when it comes to music, it's no surprise that Classical Revolution Portland is fast becoming a staple for P-town music lovers who are in the know as far as our city's burgeoning 'underground' classical music scene. Another example of Portland's place in the forefront of this movement was a pair of concerts by the highly-regarded Wordless Music project from NYC here last April, with more to come later this summer.

I attended CRPDX's Chamber Jam last week at the Someday Lounge, and was very impressed with both the level of musicianship displayed by the performers as well as with the enthusiastic reception by a younger and radically different crowd of classical music fans. I've written at length (see the WM article linked above) about my support for this type of endeavor, and CRPDX makes it happen month after month, over and over.

I believe this movement will play a big part in ensuring a healthy future for classical music. If you want to get in on the ground floor and years from now say 'oh yes, I went to underground classical music shows back in the day,' attending a CRPDX performance is a great way to do that, as well as provide another avenue of support for some of the fantastically talented, entrepreneurial artists here in Portland.

Today's Birthdays

Hans Werner Henze (1926)
Philip Brunelle (1943)
Sioned Williams (1953)
Nikolai Demidenko (1955)
Paul Daniel (1958)

and

George Sand (1804-1876)
Twyla Tharp (1941)