Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Daryl Freedman to give Portland Opera Studio Artists recital

This coming Sunday, you can hear mezzo-soprano Daryl Freedman, one of the new Portland Opera Studio Artists, in a recital at Sherman Cllay Pianos in the Pearl District. I really liked Freedman's voice at the Stars of La Boheme concert a few weeks ago; so this recital promises to be very good.

Here are the details:

WHEN: 7:00pm, Sunday, October 4, 2009.
WHERE: Sherman Clay Pianos | 131 NW 13th Ave.
Recommended donation to support the Portland Opera Studio Artist program: $10.

Portland Opera's chorus master and assistant conductor, Robert Ainsley, will accompany Freedman.

Here is a brief bio of Freedman from the press release:

In her first season as a Studio Artist, mezzo soprano DARYL FREEDMAN comes to us from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her opera credits include Juno in Semele, Thelma Yablonski in Later the Same Evening, Olga Olsen in Street Scene at Manhattan School of Music; Sorceress and Spirit in Dido and Aeneas at Central City Opera; Aloès and Zinnia in L’Étoile at Wolf Trap Opera; and she sang Nicklausse in The Tales of Hoffmann, Soeur Cadette in Les Malheurs d’Orphee and covered the role of Meg in Falstaff at Temple University. Daryl graduated with a Masters of Music from the Manhattan School of Music. She received a Bachelor of Music from Temple University and has been a member of the Central City Opera Studio, Wolf Trap Opera Studio, Académie Internationale d’Été de Nice and Opera Theatre Music Festival of Lucca. This season she will sing Aglaonice in Orphée, Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti and Venere in Il ballo delle ingrate and cover the roles of Dorabella in Così fan Tutte and Rosina in The Barber of Seville.

Today's Birthdays

Sir Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)
Václav Smetáček (1906-1986)
David Oistrakh (1908-1974)
Dame Julie Andrews (1935)
Johnny Mathis (1935)
Alan Hacker (1938)
Jonathan Lloyd (1948)
Andrew Rindfleisch (1963)


W.S. Merwin (1927)
Elie Wiesel (1928)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Interview with Haochen Zhang, Van Cliburn Gold Medalist

(Photo Stephen Eastwood/Lynx)

Portland Piano International will feature Haochen Zhang in its first recital for this season on Sunday (October 4) at the Newmark Theatre.

In June, I heard Zhang at the Van Cliburn competition, and he shared top honors with Japanese pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii. Zhang, age 19, moved to Philadelphia from Shanghai, China five years ago in order to study at the Curtis Institute of Music. He has also won the 2007 China International Piano Competition and has performed with the China National Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai and Shenzhen Symphony Orchestras, the Krakow State Philharmonic, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

For his recital in Portland, Zhang has chosen the following program:

Beethoven: Sonata in A-flat Major, Op. 110
Mason Bates: White Lies for Lomax
Ravel: Gaspard de la Nuit
Brahms: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24
Liszt: Spanish Rhapsody, S. 254

I talked to Zhang over the phone on Sunday and asked him a few questions.

Your appearance in Portland is part of a long tour. You’ve got 12 concerts in October.

Yes, I will be performing in concerts for the next month. Many of them will be in California.

What got you to start playing piano?

I started playing piano when I was almost four years old. My mom wanted me to take piano lessons because she had read in Reader’s Digest that piano was a short cut to improve a child’s IQ. Your two hands get trained equally and there are multi-voices, so both sides of your brain develop equally. Later on it was evident that I learned piano music much faster than other kids my age. That’s when I began to think about it more seriously.

Tell us about the program you are playing in Portland.

I picked this program to get lots of contrast. From Beethoven to Ravel there’s a huge contrast – also with the Mason piece in between them.

The Beethoven sonata is considered one of the most difficult in the solo piano repertoire. It’s difficult in terms of its musicality, spirit, and the artistic value. Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit is a very challenging, virtuosic piece in an impressionistic style. It gives you a different view of what the piano can do.

The Brahms piece on a theme by Handel is very structural. It has extended variations based on a single very simple motif by Handel. It is a romantic piece in the classical style, and I found that very interesting. You can see how Brahms developed and stretched the range of tonal music.

The Liszt Rhapsody is simply a technical showpiece.

Do you have a favorite period of music?

I love it all. I love everything. If you want me to compare, I love everything from late Baroque to late Romantic. I like a lot of contemporary music, but not all of it.

Are there any Chinese pieces that you play?

Yes, I have a couple of Chinese piece that I have used for encores. The composers are not famous. The pieces are for fun. I don’t seriously study them. Some are just Chinese folk songs arranged by Chinese pianists, and they are pretty popular in China. It’s interesting to play them for Westerners, since the pieces sound exotic and fresh.

Do you have time for any hobbies?

My favorite hobby is learning about history, especially war history and Chinese history. I also love literature and science a lot. All of this helps to inform your personality and spirit and how you look at the world. And music is related in that way.

Good luck to you for your upcoming concert in Portland.

Thanks! I’m looking forward to playing there.

Today's Birthdays

Joaquin Nin (y Castellanos) (1879-1949)
Richard Bonynge (1930)
Jerry Lee Lewis (1935)
Jean-Luc Ponti (1942)
Alan Francis (1943)


Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)
Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oregon Symphony collaborates with Thile, Meyer, Fleck, and Hussain in outstanding concert

A near-capacity audience at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall reveled in an unusual gala concert with the Oregon Symphony and virtuosi of the banjo, mandolin, tabla, and double bass on Saturday evening (September 26). The orchestra welcomed Bela Fleck, Chris Thile, Zakir Hussain, and Edgar Meyer and whipped up some very new music by these guest artists. It seemed to be a gamble to center a gala on Fleck, Hussain, and Meyer’s Triple Concerto and Thile’s Mandolin Concerto (a piece that was co-commissioned by the orchestra along with other ensembles), but the audience loved every minute of the music-making.

The concert began with a robust performance of Antonín Dvořák’s “Carnival Overture.” The flashy parts in which the entire orchestra going at full throttle contrasted well with the quieter sections that featured lilting sounds from the horns, and sensitive playing by strings and woodwinds. The rousing ending of the piece caused the audience to respond enthusiastically and set the tone for the rest of the concert.

Next on the program came Thile’s Mandolin Concerto, which has the intriguing addendum “Ad astra per alia porci,” which means “To the stars on the wings of a pig.” That helped to characterize the quirky and fanciful nature of this piece. The concerto featured a brief, yet lyrical duet for the mandolin and oboe, passages in which the mandolin was climbing while the orchestra was descending, extended pizzicato playing by the strings, sharp cutoffs, and jazzy riffs plus a long solo passage for the mandolin.

The concerto’s fragmentary and episodic nature made it difficult to grasp. Just when I thought I could understand where the music was drifting, Thile and the orchestra would change directions. The emotional range of the piece seemed rather limited, but I would love to hear it again.

The audience gave the concerto a thunderous reception, and Thile responded with an incredible performance of the “Giga” movement from Bach’s D-minor partita for violin. The speed and impeccable playing that Thile put on display was astonishing. How a lanky young man who crimps himself around the mandolin played with such virtuoso flair was mind-boggling. After he finished the piece, the crowd went nuts.
After intermission, the orchestra was joined by Meyer, Fleck, and Hussain to perform “The Melody of Rhythm: Triple Concerto for Banjo, Tabla, and Double Bass.” (The tabla is a pair of hand drums that an essential part of musical culture in India.) The three soloists started fast out of the gate and, after racing around a bit, executed a smooth transition to a slower, more expansive section of music in which the orchestra created a sound that was like a very still, clear body of water.

At times in the piece, Meyer would take the lead and slide into notes and the sound became slightly more jazzy or bluesy. Meyer also showed some exceptionally fast stick work and plucking skills, and Fleck took to occasional flights of fancy as well. Yet it was Hussain’s mesmerizing solo on the tabla that really rocked the casbah in this piece. He played if he had 100 fingers and instead of just 10. He could shift rhythms and change textures on a dime, pick up speed, slow down, vary the volume, and make it all look effortless. It was stunning.

Towards the end of the piece, the orchestra took things up a notch in volume and the trio of soloists hastened the tempo until everything stopped on a fortissimo. That got the audience out of its seats with boisterous cheering and whistling.

Keeping the mood upbeat, Kalmar and the orchestra reassembled themselves for Franz von Suppé’s Overture to “Dichter und Bauer” (“Poet and Peasant”) which they played with panache. Principal cellist Nancy Ives performed her solo wonderfully and the fast pace at the conclusion of the piece was thrilling.

With the audience still applauding wildly, the orchestra launched into an encore, the “Furioso Polka” by Johann Strauss Jr. and raised the bar higher by playing with all guns blazing. This was a fun and rollicking piece to experience and a great way to end the concert, expect that the concert continued after the orchestra left the stage. This time, all four soloists: Meyer, Fleck, Hussain, and Thile came out for an impromptu jam session. I only heard the first 30 minutes of their playing, and it was very inspired. The foursome ventured all over the musical territory into jazz, blues, bluegrass, and even some funky stuff (Thile especially). Most of the audience stayed to experience the jam session and listened intently. That created the perfect night cap for one of the most unusual concerts that any orchestra can serve up.

Today's Birthdays

Florent Schmitt (1870-1958)
Vivian Fine (1913-2000)
Rudolf Barshai (1924)
Edward Applebaum (1937)
Catherine Robbin (1950)
Michaela Comberti (1952-2003)


Caravaggio (1571-1610)

Great Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha dies

The New York Times reports that Alicia de Larrocha passed away on Friday evening in Barcelona, Spain. She was 86 years old.

I'm pretty sure that she gave a concert with the Oregon Symphony sometime in the 90s.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Portland Opera dishes up wonderful La Bohème

A terrific set of young singers energized Portland Opera’s production of Puccini’s “La Bohème,” which opened on Friday night at Keller Auditorium. The opera, which tells the lives of four poverty-stricken ex-students and their friends in Paris around 1830, received exceptional performances by the principals, with Kelly Kaduce leading the way.

Kaduce created a superb Mimi, the young seamstress who has tuberculosis. Kaduce’s soprano could soar and lift an ocean of hope with its warmth. Her final aria had a sense of fragility that was memorable. This Mimi, however, was less hesitant about falling in love, and that may have taken away some of the vulnerability in her character.

In the role of the penniless poet, Rodolpho, Arturo Chacón-Cruz’s voice showed urgency and passion. His top notes added thrill to the mix. The scene on the outskirts of Paris in which he revealed his anguish over Mimi’s condition was outstanding because of his singing and acting.

Michael Todd Simpson embodied the frustration of the painter Marcello. Storming around the stage with his hands in his pockets, Marcello couldn’t control his lover Musetta, whose flirtatious nature was wonderfully sung by Alyson Cambridge.

Gustav Andreassen’s robust bass voice had plenty of depth for the philosopher Colline. José Rubio’s conveyed the musician Schaunard with élan. Ryan Allen willfully subjected himself to humorous abuse as the landlord Benoit and as the councilor of the state Alcindoro.

Effective stage directions by Sandra Bernhard enhanced the story which frequently juxtaposed the comic side of life with the tragic. The light-hearted tomfoolery of the Bohemians generated laughter from the entire audience, and the scenes that revealed the love of Rodopho and Mimi were touching. More problematic for the principals, except Kaduce, was when they sang from midway to the back of the stage area. Their voices got over the orchestra but just enough.

The big chorus scene at Café Momus generated lots of excitement. The orchestra, under Antonello Allemandi played better than ever. Allemandi showed a wonderful sense of understanding the singers. He seemed to be completely in sync with the singers and made sure that the orchestra was exactly with them.

The opera opened and closed in the spacious, yet sparsely furnished, atelier of the Rodolpho and his buddies. The huge windows of the atelier looked upwards to a sky whose heart was bleak and mottled gray. The scene at Café Momus with its splashy advertisements provided a nice contrast, and the scene at a tollgate outside Paris evoked a chilly, snowy winter morning. The scenery and sets came from the San Diego Opera and the costumes, which were traditional, were created by Seattle Opera.

Portland Opera's "La Bohème" repeats today (matinee) and Thursday, October 1 and Saturday, October 3. There are probably very few tickets available, but this is a great production; so you should see it.

Today's Birthdays

Vincent Youmans (1898-1946)
Jean Berger (1909-2002)
Igor Kipnis (1930-2002)
Dame Josephine Barstow (1940)
Mischa Dichter (1945)
Chris Merritt (1952)
Dimitry Sitkovetsky (1954)


Kay Ryan (1945)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chagall Quartet to perform in Salem on Sunday

Tomorrow (9/27) afternoon (2:30 pm) at the Salem Library, you can catch the Chagall Quartet at the Salem Library. The quartet's members are violinists Adam Lamotte and Gregory Ewer, violist Charles Noble, and cellist Justin Kagan.

The concert is free. The Salem Public Library is located at 585 Liberty St SE in Salem.

Here's the program:

Mozart – Divertimento in D major, K. 136
Haydn – Quartet in F, Op. 77 no. 2
Beethoven – Quartet in B-flat, Op. 18 no 6

Today's Birthdays

Alfred Cortot (1877-1962)
Charles Munch (1891-1968)
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Fritz Wunderlich (1930-1966)
Salvatore Accardo (1941)
Dale Duesing (1947)


T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)
Jane Smiley (1949)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vancouver Opera posts a surplus - nineth in a row

This short report states that Vancouver Opera ended last season with $54 in the black on a budget of $9.1 million. The reports notes the success of VO's production of "Carmen," and I'll bet that the blogger's night at the opera helped to stimulate the buzz. I expect that blogger's night at Portland Opera will generate the same kind of excitement and that "La Boheme" will sell out.

Videos of the principals in Portland Opera's La Boheme

You'll get a kick out of these videos with singers Kelly Kaduce, Arturo Chacón-Cruz, and Allyson Cambridge, stage director Sandra Bernhard, and conductor Antonello Allemandi. You'll find out all sorts of interesting tidbits; for example, Kaduce has sung the role of Mimi 60 times. Click here to get a glimpse of these interviews.

Today's Birthdays

Jean-Phillippe Rameau (1683-1764)
Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970)
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Sir Colin Davis (1927)
Glenn Gould (1932-1982)
Stella Sung (1959)


William Faulkner (1897-1962)
Mark Rothko (1903-1970)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Sir Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991)
Cornell MacNeil (1922)
Alfredo Kraus (1927-1999)
John Rutter (1945)
Marc Neikrug (1946)


F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Symphony Gala accents Meyer, Fleck, Thile, and Hussain

(Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, and Edgar Meyer)

(Chris Thile - photo by Cassandra Jenkins)

This year, the Oregon Symphony is presenting a different kind of gala. There will be plenty of music, but the soloists will be four of the hottest names in the classical-crossover-to-jazz-bluegrass-world-music arena: Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, Chris Thile, and Zakir Hussain. The concert program will have something old and something new, and should appeal to an audience that might be looking for a new twist what the orchestra is offering this season.

The gala with Meyer, Fleck, Thile, Hussain, and the OSO takes place this Saturday evening at 7:30 at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Carnival Overture

Mandolin Concerto (West Coast Premiere)
* Chris Thile, mandolin


Triple Concerto for Banjo, Tabla and Double Bass
* Béla Fleck, banjo
* Zakir Hussain, tabla
* Edgar Meyer, Double Bass

Overture to Poet and Peasant

There's a post concert jam session with Meyer, Fleck, Thile, and Hussain that should be a hoot. For more on the program, click here.

So, if you don't have your tickets yet, I suggest that you get them right away. Click here for details.

Bloggers at La Boheme

Portland Opera will sponsor a crop of bloggers who will be at their command posts in the lobby (where they have designated tables and laptops) before "La Boheme" starts, during its intermission, and after the final curtain falls to record their thoughts.

Here's the lowdown from the press release:

Portland Opera is pleased to announce the return of Blogger Night @ The Opera. Four prominent local bloggers will receive a back stage tour; attend the opening night performance of Puccini’s La Bohème, and then blog about the whole experience from the Keller Auditorium lobby before, during intermission and after the show. The first opera of Portland Opera’s 2009/10 season, La Bohème opens Friday, September 25, 2009.

Each blogger’s individual posts will appear on their own websites simultaneously. We are pleased to welcome back from last season’s Rigoletto blogger night Geoff Kleinman of On Portland ( We also welcome three new bloggers: Marc Acito and his blog The Gospel According to Marc (, Floyd Sklaver for Just Out ( and Portland Opera Studio Artist Daryl Freedman, a special guest blogger for the new Portland Opera Facebook Fan Page. The links to each blog will also be available at

Each of these bloggers offers a different connection to opera. Author Marc Acito has performed as a soloist in two previous Portland Opera productions; Floyd Sklaver has appeared in numerous Portland Opera productions as a Supernumerary (non-singing, non-speaking role); Studio Artist Daryl Freedman is just beginning her career and our returning blogger, Geoff Kleinman, is new to the art form. Marc, Floyd and Daryl will all appear in the second opera of the season, Philip Glass’ Orphée, opening November 6.

Today's Birthdays

Jarmila Novotná (1907-1994)
Soulima Stravinsky (1910-1994)
Ray Charles (1930-2004)
John Coltrane (1926-1967)
Bruce Springsteen (1949)
William Shimell (1952)


Euripides (ca 480 BC - 406 BC) - today is the traditional day for Greeks to celebrate his birhtday

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Operman and Bob Kingston discuss La Boheme

Operaman (Stephen Llewellyn) and Bob Kingston put their thoughts about La Boheme on video (shot in the compfy confines of Jake's) on their respective blogs: Operaman and dramma per musica. If you are going to attend Portland Opera's production of La Boheme (which opens this weekend) or want to know more about the story and the music, you will enjoy watching these videos.

Today's Birthdays

Arthur Pryor (1870-1942)
Henryk Szeryng (1918-1988)
William O. Smith (1926)
Hugh Bean (1929-2003)
Anna Tomowa-Sintow (1941)
John Tomlinson (1946)
Vladmir Ghernov (1953)
Michael Torke (1961)

Portland Cello Project to play YMA Gala Fundraiser Thursday night

Young Muscians and Artists, a program that hosts a summer camp at Willamette University for kids in grades 4-12, is holding a benefit event this Thursday night at 7pm at the Community Music Center in Southeast Portland.

The evening's festivities will include a performance by the Portland Cello Project, beer, wine and refreshments, and a silent auction, with all proceeds going to benefit the YMA, a program now in its 43rd year.

Tickets to the event are $50. More information can be found here at the YMA website.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Interview with Valery Gergiev in The Observer

Ed Vulliamy wrote about Valery Gergiev in The Observer here and posted a fascinating audio interview as well. In the audio interview Gergiev says that conducting is not just about beating time and showing entrances - if it were only about precision then the metronome would be the greatest conductor in the world. About 14 minutes into the interview, Gergiev also mentioned seeing and hearing a Russian conductor by the name of Yevgeny Mravinsky and how great this conductor was - even though it looked like he was just barely moving on the podium. Mravinsky is the conductor that Carlos Kalmar referred to in the Portland Monthly article with admiration.

Today's Birthday

Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
Jill Gomez (1942)
Andrei Gavrilov (1955)
Nina Rautio (1957)


H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells (1866-1946)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Review of Chor Anno concert

Last night I heard Chor Anno, the once a year choir, make its debut concert in Vancouver, Washington and then hurried home to write up a review. It's always a challenge to write up a review in an hour, but I did it, and it appeared in The Columbian here.

Fun with obsessive Wagnerites

This well-written article in the New York Times by Henry Alford gives a humorous glimpse into the world of Ring-cycle fans ("wing-nuts" as he likes to say). It also shows that you can write well about something that seems incomprehensible and not go negative or dismissive.

Today's Birthdays

Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton (1885-1941)
David Sheinfeld (1906-2001)
John Dankworth (1927)
Jane Manning (1938)
Laurie Spiegel (1945)
John Harle (1956)


Upton Sinclair (1878-1968)
Maxwell Perkins (1884-1947)
Donald Hall (1928)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Preview of Chor Anno concert

I wrote a preview of tonight's Chor Anno concert for The Columbian newspaper. This is a new group of singers that consists of several local choir directors. The group will be conducted by Howard Meharg. Click here if you would like to read my preview piece.

RACC awards grants

Good News! A couple of weeks ago, the Regional Arts & Cultural Council awarded grants to a number of arts organizations in the Portland metro area. Here's a blurb from the RACC web site:
he Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) has awarded $1,589,710 in unrestricted funds (“General Support” grants) to 42 local arts organizations. This sum is the highest amount of General Support awarded in RACC’s 14-year history, about 6% greater than last year. The increase is made possible due to steady levels of public investment in RACC – from the City of Portland, Metro, and Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties – plus significant growth in Work for Art, RACC’s workplace giving program.
I wanted to list the grants that were awarded to music organizations. So here they are:

Cappella Romana, Inc., $10,656
Chamber Music Northwest, $51,761
Ethos Inc., $17,544
Friends of Chamber Music, $19,454
Metropolitan Youth Symphony, $28,035
Oregon Repertory Singers, $26,085
Oregon Symphony Association, $141,066
Portland Baroque Orchestra, $20,804
Portland Chamber Orchestra, $14,525
Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra, $13,295
Portland Gay Men's Chorus, $15,096
Portland Opera Association, $137,369
Portland Piano International, $14,338
Portland Taiko, $37,264
Portland Youth Philharmonic, $27,865

For the complete list of awardees, click here.

Hilarious confession of an orchestra trumpeter

I saw this on Arts Journal and have to repost it here because it's so funny. The video stars Philadelphia Orchestra's associate principal trumpet Jeff Curnow.

I think it would be great if Jeffry Work of the Oregon Symphony would give us his rendition of "The Swinging Pendulum of Death Drenched in the Tears of the Afflicted." Maybe for the Donor Appreciation Concert next year.

Today's Birthdays

Allan Pettersson (1911-1980)
Kurt Sanderling (1912)
Blanche Thebom (1918)
Arthur Wills (1926)


William Golding (1911-1993)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Third Angle New Music Ensemble moves ahead

Third Angle just announced that veteran journalist Laura Grimes is its new managing director. Grimes wrote for The Oregonian for many years and has recently been contributing to the Art Scatter blog.

Earlier this year Third Angle released a new recording called "Chen Yi: Sound of the Five," it received a very positive review by Joshua Kosman of The San Francisco Chronicle. You can read the review here. Some of the works on this CD will be performed by Third Angle on October 22nd and 23rd at the Portland Art Museum. For more information on that concert, click here.

You can also catch Third Angle at noon on October 8th at The Old Church. The ensemble will perform Ernest Bloch's String Quartet No. 3 and selections from Zhou Long's "Chinese Folk Songs." Admission is free.

Today's Birthdays

Lord Berners (1883-1950)
Arthur Benjamin (1893-1960)
Meredith Willson (1902-1984)
Josef Tal (1910-2008)
Norman Dinerstein (1937-1982)
Thomas Fulton (1949)
John McGlinn (1953)
Anna Netrebko (1970)


Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Alberto Ríos (1952)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Alan Gilbert gets mixed reviews with NY Phil

Three heavyweights in the music critic world weighed in with varying assessments regarding Alan Gilbert's first concert as the official new boss of the New York Philharmonic. Here's the upshot:

Anthony Tommasini of the the New York Times was enthusiastic.
Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times was mildly positive.
Anne Midgette of the Washington Post was disappointed.

Today's Birthdays

Vincenzo Tommasini (1878-1950)
Charles Tomlinson Griffes (1884-1920)
Isang Yun (1917-1995)
Hank Williams (1923-1953)
Vincent La Selva (1929)


William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
Frank O'Connor (1903-1966)
Ken Kesey (1935-2001)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Young Oregonian conductor wins award from Solti Foundation

Kelly Kuo, a native of Hermiston and a University of Oregon graduate, received an U.S. Career Assistance Award from the Solti Foundation. Kuo was one of three young conductors selected for this honor. The big prize of $25,000 went to Erik Nielsen.

Here some info about Kuo from the press release:

Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra since 2007, Kelly Kuo previously served as Assistant Conductor and Repetiteur for Cincinnati Opera, Kentucky Opera and Opera Pacific. Mr. Kuo has also served as cover conductor for Los Angeles Opera and Italy’s Festival Euro Mediterraneo. In the 09-10 season, Mr. Kuo leads La traviata for Kentucky Opera and Hansel and Gretel for Lyric Opera San Diego and returns as Music Director for Opera International’s Vocal Gala Concert. This past season, Mr. Kuo made his conducting debuts with the Lyric Opera of Chicago (Porgy and Bess) and Madison Opera (Cosi fan tutte) and returned to Lyric Opera San Diego to lead Trial by Jury and the world premiere of Nicholas Reveles’ Rumpelstiltskin, as well as performances of Porgy and Bess at Hamburg Staatsoper. Among his opera credits are performances with Tulsa Opera, Pro Cantus Lyric Opera, Rising Star Opera Theater and gala concerts for Wichita Grand Opera. Kelly Kuo began his musical studies at age five on the violin and made his debut as a piano soloist with the Walla Walla Symphony five years later. An alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, where he studied vocal coaching as well as conducting with Larry Rachleff, Kelly Kuo earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oregon where he studied piano with Horowitz pupil Dean Kramer and majored in both music and Chinese. He earned his M.M. in piano from Manhattan School of Music, where his teachers included Byron Janis and Warren Jones.

Today's Birthdays

Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)
Hans Swarowsky (1899-1975)
B. B. King (1925)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New fungus-treated violin beats a Strad

A new violin that has been treated with fungus sounded better than a Stradivarius made in 1711 in a blind-judging contest in Germany. This violin is called an Empa violin. Here's an intriguing quote from the article in Science Daily magazine:
Horst Heger of the Osnabruck City Conservatory is convinced that the success of the “fungus violin” represents a revolution in the field of classical music. “In the future even talented young musicians will be able to afford a violin with the same tonal quality as an impossibly expensive Stradivarius,” he believes. In his opinion, the most important factor in determining the tone of a violin is the quality of the wood used in its manufacture. This has now been confirmed by the results of the blind test in Osnabruck. The fungal attack changes the cell structure of the wood, reducing its density and simultaneously increasing its homogeneity. “Compared to a conventional instrument, a violin made of wood treated with the fungus has a warmer, more rounded sound,” explains Francis Schwarze.

To read the full story, click here.

A special thanks to Fred Mosedale for pointing out this interesting article.

Jun Iwasaki and Grace Fong at Town Hall in Seattle

Oregon Symphony concertmaster Jun Iwasaki will play a recital this Thursday at Town Hall in Seattle. Iwasaki will be accompanied by pianist Grace Fong. They will perform works from the Romanitic recital repertoire, For more information about the concert, click here.

Today's Birthdays

Bruno Walter (1876-1962)
Frank Martin (1890-1974)
Richard Arnell (1917)
Cannonball Adderley (1928-1975)
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (1933)
Jessye Norman (1945)
Richard Suart (1951)


James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)
Agatha Christie (1890-1976)

Monday, September 14, 2009

New concert hall in Puerto Rico

A new concert hall is scheduled to open next month in Puerto Rico as the home of the Symphony Orchestra of Puerto Rico. The new 1,300-seat Sala Sinfonica Pablo Casals will host a variety of musical performances, serving a range of symphonic, chamber, and popular music styles. Architect Rodolfo Fernández designed the hall, which is named after cellist and conductor Pablo Casals, whose mother was born in Puerto Rico. Casals founded the Symphony Orchestra of Puerto Rico in 1958, and the Musical Conservatory of Puerto Rico in 1959. Acentech's Studio A did the acoustical work. The work included a house sound system with a retractable main loudspeaker cluster that can be hoisted into the attic during symphony concerts when amplification is not required.

The Symphony Orchestra of Puerto Rico's 2009-2010 season features many international guest artists including Kirill Gernstein, Barry Douglas, and Leila Josefowicz.

Today's Birthdays

Michael Haydn (1737-1806)
Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)
Vittorio Gui (1885-1972)
Alice Tully (1902-1993)
Martyn Hill (1944)
Raul Gimenez (1950)


Renzo Piano (1937)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Stars of La Boheme whip up delicious aria soufflé at Scottish Rite Center

The singers who will open Portland Opera's season with "La Boheme" made a strong case for themselves on the stage at the Scottish Rite Center on Thursday evening. The concert of popular opera arias and duets had an impromptu flair because Christopher Mattaliano, general director of Portland Opera, gave a brief introduction to each selection and the singer or singers. An audience of around 150 heard some terrific performances from the Italian repertoire with a little Mozart, Korngold, Bizet, Floyd, Gershwin, and Dvorak tossed in. I heard music from "Don Giovanni," "Rusalka," "Cosi Fan Tutti," "Tosca," "Pagliacci," "The Pearl Fishers," "La Cenerentola," "Porgy and Bess," "Susannah," "Die Tote Stadt," "Madame Butterfly," "Turandot," and the duet at the end of the first act of "La Boheme."

Because of the excessive carpeting in the Scottish Rite Center, I thought that it might be a problem for the audience to hear the singers, but their large voices overcame that hurdle easily as well as the distance from the stage (which seemed a little far away). In fact, they might not have had to have sing as loudly as they did. In any case, all of the singers were exceptional with Kelley Kaduce leading the way with a dramatic and moving aria from "Madame Butterfly." Robert Ainsley and Thomas Webb provided the accompaniment.

Mattaliano hinted that Portland Opera might try this kind of opera evening again. I would suggest that they print up a program to guide the audience through the selections - especially since no super titles are available.

Today's Birthdays

Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
Robert Ward (1917)
Maurice Jarre (1924-2009)
Mel Tormé (1925-1999)
Nicolai Ghiaruv (1929-2004)
Arleen Auger (1939-1993)
Steve Kilbey (1954)
Andreas Staier (1955)


J.B. Priestley (1894-1984)
Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Gideon Waldrop (1919-2000)
Tatiana Troyanos (1938-1993)
Barry White (1944-2003)
John Mauceri (1945)
Vladimir Spivakov (1946)
Leslie Cheung (1956-2003)


H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)
Alfred A. Knopf Sr. (1892-1984)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Oregon Symphony musician take pay cuts

Barry Johnson of The Oregonian has filed an article about the new contract that the musicians of the orchestra have accepted. The reduction in salaries and benefits has been expected because the orchestra has had to deal another seasonal deficit despite record breaking ticket sales. Administrative staff has been reduced and everyone, including conductors have taken a hit to the pocketbooks. Even guest artists fees have been renegotiated. It's a very tough time.

Thomas Lauderdale - future Oregon Symphony board member

It's pretty cool that Mr. Pink Martini, Thomas Lauderdale, has been nominated for the Oregon Symphony board. Lauderdale joins a slate of candidates who will be approved at the Oregon Symphony's annual meeting on Oct. 2nd. The meeting will be held during the noon hour in the rotunda of the PCPA building across from the Schnitz. Getting Lauderdale on board should help to give the orchestra new ideas and fresh energy. In the meantime, we can look forward to the collaborative recording that the orchestra and Pink Martini will be releasing in the near future.

Today's Birthdays

Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832)
Vally Weigl (1894-1982)
Harry Somers (1925-1999)
Sir John Drummond (1934)
Arvo Pärt(1935)
Bonaventura Bottone (1950)
Catherine Bott (1952)


O. Henry (1862-1910)
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The iceman meltith - cellist Erik Friedlander at TBA

Since Friedlander's program is called "Block Ice & Propane," the audience should experience some extremes at his multimedia concert, which he will perform three times starting this evening as part of the TBA festival. The one-hour shows begins at 8:30 at the Winningstad Theater (1111 SW Broadway). Tickets are $20 for non members and $15 for members.

Here's some background on Friedlander from the TBA web site:

Musician Erik Friedlander is widely considered a master avant-garde jazz and classical cellist. Friedlander has released nine solo albums and three albums as a member of the John Zorn-led avant-jazz group Bar Kokhba. In high demand as a session musician, he has played with a wide range of artists, from pop stars Kelly Clarkson and Courtney Love, to indie folk stars Dar Williams and Paula Cole, to fellow vanguard artists Ikue Mori (TBA:07) and Laurie Anderson (TBA:06). Friedlander’s father, Lee Friedlander, has been a MacArthur Fellow whose photographs of street scenes and jazz greats have been widely shown at galleries across the world, including the Museum of Modern Art.

Today's Birthdays

Judith Nelson (1939)
Christopher Hogwood (1941)
Sir Thomas Allen (1944)
Michael Schønwandt (1953)


Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961)
Franz Werfel (1890-1945)
Cyril Connolly (1903-1974)
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

100 best classical recordings

The three music crtics of the Telegraph newspaper in London, Igor Toronyi-Lalic, John Allison, and Michael Kennedy have compiled a list of 100 best classical recordings. The categories are

1) Opera
2) Concerto
3) Piano Solo
4) Early and Baroque
5) Choral
6) Chamber
7) 20th Century
8) Orchestral
9) 20th-Century English
10) Song

Plus 10 rules to listen by including the last one:

Names to avoid
Karajan, Ashkenazy, Kissin, Lang Lang, Maazel, Mrs Mills and Richard Clayderman. Forget you ever knew these people.

FYI: John Allison is also the editor of Opera, and I write reviews of Portland Opera productions for that magazine.

Today's Birthdays

Joan Cererols (1618-1680)
Edwin Lemare (1865-1934)
James Blades (1901-1999)
Otis Redding (1941-1967)
Miriam Fried (1946)
David Rosenboom (1947)
Adam Fischer (1949)
Rachel Masters (1958)


Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

OTO to present 'The Beggar's Opera' in October

Following is from a press release by Opera Theater Oregon:

PORTLAND – In the midst of a 21st century Great Recession, Portland drowns in homelessness, joblessness, gang violence, sexcapading politicians and booming art, music and sex industries. Drop a genre-busting chamber-pop band into the mix, and you've got Opera Theater Oregon's world premiere production of “The Beggar's Opera,” running October 22-31 in Portland.

Based on John Gay's landmark 18th century ballad opera of the same name, OTO's world premiere work – written by Portland performer and writer Stephen Marc Beaudoin (script/lyrics) and Buoy LaRue's Michael Herrman (music) – yokes the dog-eat-dog, dangerous and irreverent characters of Gay's original work right into the Portland of 2009. Major characters are inspired by Portland celebrities and politicians including Commissioner Randy Leonard and singer Storm Large, among others.

“The Beggar's Opera” plays six performances only, October 22-25 (7 pm - Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun) at the Someday Lounge, and October 30-31 (7 pm – Fri, Sat) at Sellwood's newest music venue, The Woods, a renovated funeral parlor. Tickets, $15-$17, are available by calling 503-205-0715, or online at “The Beggar's Opera” is generously supported by a grant from the Herbert A. Templeton Foundation and the support of individual donors.

For more information, visit the OTO's website.

Young opera stars to sing this Thursday

from left to right
back row: Gus Andreassen (Colline, and Portland native) Michael Todd Simpson (Marcello)
front row: Arturo Chacon-Cruz (Rodolfo), Kelly Kaduce (Mimi), Alyson Cambridge (Musetta), Jose Rubio (Schaunard)

If you'd like to hear the cast of Portland Opera's "La Boheme" close up, you'll have that chance on Thursday evening at 7 pm in a special concert at the Scottish Rite Center (709 SW 15th Ave.). The up-and-coming singers in the above photo will perform popular opera arias and ensemble pieces.

Tickets, priced at $50, can be purchased by contacting the Portland Opera Box Office at 503-241-1802 (Toll-free 866-739-6737).

BTW: Kaduce received a boost in the June 2009 edition of Opera News for her appearances with Florida Grand Opera and Opera Theatre Saint Louis. Here's the photo from Opera News:

Today's Birthdays

Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Lionel Salter (1914-2000)
Christoph von DohDohnányi (1929)
Eric Salzman (1933)
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (1934)
Dezső Ránki (1951)
Ilan Volkov (1976)


Wilhelm Raabe (1931-1910)
Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)
Ann Beattie (1947)
Michael Schermer (1954)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Soprano Angela Meade gets rave review in The New Yorker

Angela Meade, a native of Centralia, Washington, and a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University got a rave review from Alex Ross in the August 31 issue of The New Yorker magazine (pages 80-81 in "Taking Liberties"). She sang Rossini's "Semiramide" at Carmoor with Lawrence Brownlee, the amazing tenor who gave a performance of a lifetime at Seattle Opera's production of "I Puritani" a year ago. Ross, who is not given to excess, said of Meade (who sang the title role in "Semiramide") that she is "a lavishly gifted young American soprano who sings across a very wide range with uncommon beauty and strength of tone". But the last paragraph is the zinger:
Semiramide's signature aria is "Bel raggio lusinghier," which sopranos from Luisa Tetrazzini to Joan Sutherland have adopted as a glittering showpiece. The aria is in A major, and a high-flying soprano can win ovations by working her way up to a brilliant high E (not in the score). Meade, too, has easy access to that stratospheric note, yet she unleashed it not at the end of the aria but in the middle of the fast section, in a brief cadenza on the words "How sweet the thought of that moment." She then plunged to an E two octaves below, with almost frightening insouciance. And perhaps there should be something scary about the display, since Semiramide is unknowingly fantasizing a union with her son. In any case, the gesture came as a delightful shock. Caramoor draws a knowing crowd - even Opera Chic, the mystery blogger of Milan, was said to be in attendance - but Meade caught the connoisseurs off guard: a murmur of amazement ran through the audience. This fast-rising soprano will undoubtedly have many triumphs, but she may remember that little noise of wonder longer than most.
I interviewed Meade last year for "Scene," PLU's magazine, and will try to keep tabs on her, but for those who want to see what she is doing can click on her web site here. She is scheduled to sing the role of Contessa Almaviva in "Le Nozze di Figaro" at the Met this December.

Today's Birthdays

François Philidor (1726-1794)
Joan Cross (1900-1993)
Sir Harry Secombe (1921-2001)
Arthur Ferrante (1921)
Leonard Rosenman (1924-2008)
Hugh Aitken (1924)
Sonny Rollins (1930)
Buddy Holly (1938-1959)
Jean-Yves Thibaudet (1961)
Angela Gheorghiu (1965)


Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951)
Edith Sitwell (1887-1964)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Portland Monthly article about Kalmar swings and misses

This month's issue of Portland Monthly Magazine contains a article entitled "The Maestro" that poses a question as to whether Oregon Symphony music director Carlos Kalmar can lead the orchestra into a new era. But the question is purely retorical since Kalmar has been leading the orchestra since 2003. I mean, if a professional football coach has been in charge of a team for six years then you don't start talking about him as a newbie. Maybe in the first couple of years, you can do that, but after six years, come on! Maybe a different question should've been raised, such as "Is Kalmar leading the orchestra in the right direction." But to answer that question, the writer, Bill Donahue, might have talked to a half dozen people across the US who know a thing or two about orchestras. Instead, he let the opportunity pass by.

On Charles Noble's blog Daily Observations, there's quite a discussion about this article, and I would direct you to his blog for some of the finer points.

Today's Birthdays

Anton Diabelli (1781-1858)
Sir Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941)
William Kraft (1923)
Arthur Oldham (1926-2003)
Evgeny Svetlanov (1928-2002)
Joan Tower (1938)
Cynthia Haymon (1958)
Detlev Glanert (1960)
Shih-Hui Chen (1962)


Robert Pirsig (1928)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782)
Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864)
Amy Beach (1867-1944)
John Cage (1912-1993)
Peter Racine Fricker (1920-1990)
Karita Mattila (1960)
Marc-André Hamelin (1961)
Lars Vogt (1970)


Jonathan Kozol (1936)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)
Darius Milhaud (1892-1974)
Frederic Curzon (1899-1973)
Rudolf Schock (1915-1986)
Irwin Gage (1939)
René Pape (1964)


Richard Wright (1908-1960)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Today's Birhdays

Pietro Locatelli (1695-1764)
Robert Thurston Dart (1921-1971)
Rudolf Kelterborn (1931)
Valerie Coleman (1970-)


Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Oregon Symphony's Waterfront Concert program

The Oregon Symphony will perform its annual free concert at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park tomorrow night at 7 pm, but if you get there early, you can hear even more music from the Portland Taiko ensemble and the Portland Youth Philharmonic.

Here's the overall schedule (from the Oregon Symphony web site:

4:30 PM Portland Taiko
5 PM Portland Youth Philharmonic
7 PM Oregon Symphony

No tickets are required. Bring chairs or blankets for lawn seating. Concertgoers are also invited to bring school supplies to donate for use in Portland public schools. Volunteers from the Portland non-profit group Schoolhouse Supplies will be on hand with collection barrels to receive the donations. Complete information on the web:

Portland Taiko - starts at 4:30 PM
Japanese drum emsemble

Portland Youth Philharmonic Program - starts at 5 PM
David Hattner, conductor

Gioacchino Rossini - Passo a Sei from William Tell

Giacomo Puccini - Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut

Giuseppe Verdi - Overture to Nabucco

Edvard Grieg - Suite No. 2 from Peer Gynt

Solveig's Song

Leroy Anderson - Plink, Plank, Plunk

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4 in F minor

Finale: Allegro con fuoco

Oregon Symphony Program - starts at 7 PM
Carlos Kalmar, conductor
Gregory Vajda, conductor
with the Oregon Ballet Theatre

John Stafford Smith (arr. Leyden)- The Star Spangled Banner

Mikhail Glinka - Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmilla

Antonin Dvořák - Slavonic Dances
Allegretto scherzando

Giuseppe Verdi - Overture to The Sicilian Vespers

Edvard Grieg - Lyric Suite
Norwegian Rustic March

Ernesto Lecuona (Arr. Gould) - Andalucia

Edward Elgar - Pomp and Circumstance: No. 1
Gregory Vajda, conductor

Johann, Jr. Strauss - Egyptian March
Gregory Vajda, conductor

John Williams - March from Superman
Gregory Vajda, conductor


George Whitefield Chadwick - Symphonic Sketches

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Serenade in C major for Strings
Piece in the form of a sonatina: Andante non troppo
Dancers from Oregon Ballet Theatre
Choreography: George Balanchine
Staging: Francia Russell
Costume Design: Karinska

Emmanuel Chabrier - Slavonic Dance from The King in Spite of Himself

Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture

Today's Birthdays

George Böhm (1661-1733)
David Blake (1936)
Greg A. Steinke (1942)
John Zorn (1953)
Paul Goodwin (1956)


Joseph Roth (1894-1939)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pops conductor Erich Kunzel dies

The Grammy award winning pops conductor, Erich Kunzel, passed away at the age of 74. He suffered from cancer (liver, colon, and pancreatic), yet still managed to conduct the National Symphony for its July 4th concert. Kunzel's loyalty to the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra was legendary. He could've left it years ago for more lucrative work.

For a complete story, click here.

GoClassicalPDX offers free concert tickets at the Waterfront Concert

GoClassicalPDX will offer you the chance to get some free concert tickets at the Waterfront Concert this Thursday. Just stop by the GoClassicalPDX booth. Also, take note of the GoClassical Cheerleaders!

Here are the details from the press release:

On September 3rd, 2009, the classical music advocacy collective GoClassicalPDX offers a chance to experience the joy of classical music for free. The group raffles concert vouchers from their booth on the grounds of the Oregon Symphony’s annual Waterfront Concert. Participants in the no-cost raffle are eligible for vouchers donated by the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Portland Symphonic Choir, Portland Opera and Cappella Romana, all participants in GoClassicalPDX. The Grand Prize is an entire year’s worth of music instruction for one person, offered through Portland’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Andrea Murray, All Classical FM facilitator for the 2-year-old group, said, “At a time when Portlanders are reluctant to spend money on concerts, we’re glad to give people a chance to experience the joy of music lessons and live classical music.”

In addition to the raffle, GoClassicalPDX presents the debut of the Go Classical Cheerleaders, a group of local musicians and supporters who perform actual cheers about classical music. “It’s a lighthearted way to remind people that classical music can be playful and even silly, despite its sometimes stuffy image,” says Murray.”

GoClassicalPDX was created as a community service by All Classical FM, the Portland-based radio station that broadcasts classical music 24 hours a day. The group’s mission is to raise the profile and increase the vitality of Portland’s Classical music scene. Collective members include representatives from the Portland Opera, The Oregon Symphony Orchestra, The Portland Youth Philharmonic, Opera Theatre Oregon, Cappella Romana, Portland Symphonic Choir, Portland Chamber Orchestra, Friends of Chamber Music, Portland Piano International, Chamber Music Northwest, Marylhurst University, The Oregon Cultural Trust and the Community Music Center.

Today's Birthdays

Emanuel Schikaneder (1751-1812)
Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921)
Conway Twitty (1933-1993)
Seiji Ozawa (1935)
Júlia Várady (1941)
Leonard Slatkin (1944)