Sunday, January 31, 2010

Today's Birthdays

François Devienne (1759-1803)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Caroline Miolan‑Carvalho (1827-1895)
Ernest John Moeran (1894-1950)
Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940)
Nathan Milstein (1904-1992)
Jaap Schröder (1925)
Odetta (1930-2008)
Philip Glass (1937)
Stephen Cleobury (1948)
Donna Summer (1948)
Jennifer Higdon (1962)

and

Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Zane Grey (1872-1939)
John O'Hara (1905-1970)
Thomas Merton (1915-1968)
Norman Mailer (1923-2007)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Oregon Symphony's 2010-2011 season will feature Yo Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, and Emmanuel Ax

I attended the Oregon Symphony's special preview of the 2010-2011 season before this evening's concert and found out that some of the biggest names in the classical music biz are on tap to play with the orchestra next season. The lineup includes the virtuosos listed above as well as Stephen Hough, Yuja Wang, Jennifer Koh, Thomas Lauderdale, Colin Currie, Jeffrey Kahane, Benjamin Schmid, Baiba Skride, James Ehnes, Sanford Sylvan, and Natasha Paremski. Guest conductors include Gunther Herbig, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, Emmanuel Villaume, Alondra de la Parra, James Gaffigan, and Stephen Zopfi. The orchestra's music director Carlos Kalmar will direct most of the concerts and resident conductor Gregory Vajda will be on the podium as well.

The pops series includes four concerts to be led by Jeff Tyzik, and a young audiences series will feature Gregory Vajda, and guest conductor David Hattner.

Of course, next season will also feature the orchestra's debut at Carnegie Hall on May 12, 2011. The program details for that concert are still under wraps, and if you go to the Carnegie Hall web site, you'll find that the other orchestras that have been invited to Carnegie Hall have not announced their programs yet, also.

I'll post more information about the Oregon Symphony's next season on Oregon Music News as soon as I get the press release.

2/1/10: Okay, you can now click here for more details.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Joachim Quantz (1697-1773)
Walter Damrosch (1862-1950)
Lynn Harrell (1944)
Silvia Marcovici (1952)
Gerald Finley (1960)

and

Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989)
Richard Brautigan (1935-1984)

Lutenist Hideki Yamaya satisfies with scholasticism, musicianship

In a concert entitled 'The Ancestors of the Guitar,' Portland lutenist/guitarist Hideki Yamaya presented an insightful look into three early instruments on Friday night, January 29th at the Little Church in NE Portland. Despite a delayed start as the artist waited for latecomers (there was a mistake in The Oregonian directing listeners to the Old Church downtown), the small hall was nearly full as Yamaya played several sets, first on the vihuela, then on a Renaissance lute, and finally a Baroque guitar. Throughout the performance Yamaya put the intimate setting to good use, taking time to set the works in their historical and social contexts, frequently interpolating vignettes on the evolution of the guitar and other plucked string instruments.

He opened on the vihuela, a Spanish instrument very similar to the guitar that by and large took the place of the lute in Iberian culture, which Yamaya explained was due to the fact that the lute was a direct descendant of the Arabic oud that reminded them of their Moorish enemies of the not-too-distant past. The vihuela set was entirely by very little-known Spanish composers. Yamaya opened with three Fantasias from around 1536 by Luis de Milán, the first pensive and spontaneous, the second more exuberant and the third feeling like a dance. Luis de Narváez's entabulation of a vocal work by Josquin des Prez was tricky and satisfying, an interesting exposition of non-Spanish music in a uniquely Spanish idiom, a work with a self-accompanied feel that seemed to anticipate the upcoming stile recitativo. There was a sort of balade by Miguel de Fuenllana that dealt directly in subject matter with Moorish characters, whose influence left such a distinct, exotic stamp on the music of Iberia. The gentle sonority of the vihuela allowed Yamaya's clear articulation to shine through.

For the second set Yamaya turned to a seven-course Renaissance lute. He played a set by John Dowland, perhaps the only well-known composer of the evening. Yamaya's clean voicing allowed the contrapuntal outworking of certain themes to be clearly heard in the Fancy. He opened the second half with French lute compositions, the most striking of which was a Branles de village by Robert Ballard whose almost incessant two-note ostinato provided a framework for a beautiful, lively melody whose tricky fingering seemed to pose little problem.

On the five-course guitar, Yamaya moved forward to compositions from the middle and high Baroque in a virtuosic prelude by the only Italian of the evening, Angelo Michele Bartolotti. On this somewhat jangly precursor to the modern guitar Yamaya hit rough patches on one or two pieces, but soon found his footing for perhaps the most interesting and unusual works of the evening by the Spaniard Santiago de Murcia (1673-1739), whose 'declaration of poverty' (a precursor to bankruptcy?) provided a good long laugh as Yamaya compared it to the plight of a modern guitarist.

The manuscript for this work was found in Mexico, which has led some scholars to speculate that de Murcia may have traveled there, though Yamaya found this proposition unlikely as he was employed by the court in Spain. The Cumbees was a fascinating dance of New World origin that sounded centuries ahead of its time at points; it had a very modern, folksy feel, accompanied by a syncopated slapping, and the work ended suddenly, a chord that seemed in need of resolution hanging wistfully out in the middle of nowhere. The final number was a Tarantela that was downright exciting. Yamaya employed a rasping roulade of the right-hand fingernails across the strings when strumming chords, a technique reminiscent of the rasquedo of flamenco guitar.

The evening was punctuated by Yamaya's often drily humorous observations. This, coupled with impassioned scholasticism and an intense, sensitive musical performance, yielded a delightful concert of the type that early music afficionados love: very informative and chock-full of good music; sort of like a live version of a History Channel program about music. He will reprise this performance tonight (January 30th) in Bend, OR at The Beckman House at 7 pm.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Seattle Symphony musicians reach agreement with management

Members of the Seattle Symphony have a new contract with the administration. You can read the details on the musicians web site here. David Brewster at Crosscut has his analysis here, and Zach Carstensen of The Gathering Note posts his thoughts here.

Today's Birthdays

Georg Christoph Wagenseil (1715-1777)
Frederick Delius (1862-1934)
Havergal Brian (1876-1972)
Blanche Selva (1884-1942
Luigi Nono (1924-1990)
Myer Fredman (1932)
Malcolm Binns (1936)
Cho-Liang Lin (1960)

and

Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Oregon Symphony on Carnegie Hall calendar

It's official, the Oregon Symphony is on the Carnegie Hall calendar for May 12, 2011!

Click here to link to the Carnegie Hall calendar for 2010-2011.

Then scroll down to May 12th. The orchestra is appearing as part of the Spring for Music festival.

Ken Selden and others blog from the American Orchestras Summit

The American Orchestras Summit has been underway at the University of Michigan, and Ken Selden, conductor of the Portland State University Symphony, is participating in the conference and has registerd his thoughts in a blog entry on this page. Selden has also posted comments to other posting on the page as well.

Garrison Keillor wryly observes life in two-hour monologue

Garrison Keillor, the writer and radio personality, showed off his awesome ability for spinning story after story without stopping for a sip of water on Tuesday evening (January 26th) at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. This was the first of two one-man shows that were sponsored by the Oregon Symphony, and Keillor easily kept the audience engaged with his finely honed, amusing and ironic tales of life in the fictional town of Lake Woebegon, Minnesota and some autobiographical stories as well.

After Keillor, a tall and lanky fellow, came out on the stage, he launched into a ballad-song that consisted of a series of poems (or perhaps sonnets - as he claimed). In his light baritone (he used a microphone), he made many unusual rhymes: "Oh Lord, please exist" with something about an atheist, Fred Allen and Magellen. I think that Keillor extended his attempt to be a troubadour a little too long, though, because its repetitive melody became boring.

He had much more success with his regular storytelling, weaving one story into another, taking a detour but also coming back to the main thread. He combined terrific timing with a minimum of movement and gestures to make his points. One of the central themes involved his stoic upbringing in a harsh climate ("winter is nature's attempt to kill you") so that you can learn to overcome adversity. In fact, you should be grateful for adversity and suffering. There were humorous stories about a farmer who punched a cow that had farted in his face, about taking a leak on an extremely cold winter evening in the middle of nowhere, and about a man who shovelled snow off his roof and then fell asleep - only to wake up and find that he was stuck to the roof. The funniest stories involved a female cousin hiding from an irate schoolteacher and a man with a bowling ball of cremains para-glided nude above a bunch of Lutheran pastors.

Keillor also reflected humorously on turning 67 years old and the stroke that he experienced a few months ago. He also talked about making peace with a relative who had been carrying a grudge. According to Keillor, a peace offering has to be something homemade and you don't bring up whatever caused the rift in the first place. Instead, you just pretend that it never happened.

Today's Birthdays

Antonio Bartolomeo Bruni (1757-1821)
Ferdinand Herold (1791-1833)
Alexander Mackenzie (1822-1892)
Arthur Rubinstein (1887-1982)
Michael Head (1900-1976)
Ronnie Scott (1927-1996)
Acker Bilk (1929)
Sir John Tavener (1944)
Richard Danielpour (1956)

and

Colette (1873-1954)
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
Claes Oldenburg (1929)
Susan Sontag (1933-2004)
David Lodge (1935)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Edouard Lalo (1823-1892)
Jerome Kern (1885-1945)
Jack Brymer (1915-2003)
Helmut Zacharias (1920-2002)
Fritz Spiegl (1926-2003)
John Ogdon (1937-1989)
Jean-Philippe Collard (1948)
Emanuel Pahud (1970)
James Ehnes (1976)

and

Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948)
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Will blog Portland Opera's Cosi fan tutte

On Friday, February 5th, Portland Opera will present Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte," and I'll be one of the bloggers who will be writing on a laptop in the lobby before the show, during intermission, and after the final curtain. I'll be joined by some other bloggers, as well: Grant Butler, Courtenay Hameister, Byron Beck, Sheryl Stewart, and possibly one more keyboard artist.

More later.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732-1795)
Maria Augusta von Trapp (1905-1987)
Jimmy Van Heusen (1913-1990)
Warren Benson (1924-2005)
Jacqueline du Pré (1945-1987)
Frédéric Lodéon (1952)
Mikel Rouse (1957)
Gustavo Dudamel (1981)

Monday, January 25, 2010

David Buck playing with the Pittsburgh Symphony

I attended the Oregon Symphony concert Saturday evening (my review in Oregon Music News is here), and noticed that principal flutist David Buck was missing in action. It turns out that he has been subbing as the principal flutist with the Pittsburgh Symphony. Charles Noble has the scoop.

Today's Birthdays

Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954)
Witold Lutoslawski (1913-1994)
Etta James (1938)
Russell Peck (1945-2009)

and

Robert Burns (1759-1796)
W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Farinelli (Carlo Maria Broschi) (1705-1782)
E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776-1822)
Evelyn Barbirolli (1911-2008)
Norman Dello Joio (1913-2008)
Gottfried von Einem (1918-1996)
Leon Kirchner (1919-2009)
Neil Diamond (1941)
Yuri Bashmet (1953)
Warren Zevon (1947-2003)

and

William Congreve (1670-1729)
Edith Wharton (1862–1937

Saturday, January 23, 2010

American Orchestras Summit to start this week

I talked with Ken Selden, who conducted Gregory Vajda's piece last night at the Third Angle New Music Ensemble, and he mentioned that he will be attending the American Orchestras Summit later this week (January 26-28). Participants at the Summit will discuss all sorts of issues large and small relating to orchestras.

Ken will be blogging on the American Orchestra Summit web site. Other boggers who will be participating are Drew McManus (Mr. Adaptistration) and Joe Horowitz, orchestra scholar and producer. Joe was Artistic Director of the NEA's Music Critics Institute at Columbia University and one of my teachers when I was a fellow in the 2008 version of the institute.

Today's Birthdays

Muzio Clementi (1752-1832)
Rutland Boughton (1878-1960)
Django Reinhardt (1910-1953)
Milton Adolphus (1913-1988)
Eli Goren (1923-2000)
Cécile Ousset (1936)
Teresa Zylis-Gara (1936)
John Luther Adams (1953)
Mason Bates (1977)

and

Stendhal (1783-1842)
Edouard Manet (1832-1883)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Charles Tournemire (1870-1939)
Rosa Ponselle (1897-1981)
Henri Dutilleux (1916)
William Warfield (1920-2002)
Aurèle Nicolet (1926)
Uto Ughi (1944)
Myung-whun Chung (1953)

and

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781)
August Strindberg (1849-1912)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Henri Duparc (1848-1933)
Huddie 'Leadbelly' Ledbetter (1885-1949)
Alexander Tcherepnin (1899-1977)
Webster Booth (1902-1984)
Placido Domingo (1941)
Richie Havens (1941)
Edwin Starr (1942-2003)
Suzanne Mentzer (1957)

and

Louis Menand (1952)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Daltrius ascends to a higher plane in Seattle Opera’s Il Trovatore

Photo by Rozarii Lynch

A strong cast of singers made sure that Seattle Opera’s presentation of “Il Trovatore” on opening night (Saturday, January 16) would ooze with melodrama and memorable tunes. Led by soprano Lisa Daltirus, who gave a performance of a lifetime, the principals conquered the challenges of Verdi’s music even though the tempos were on the slow side.

Daltrius, in the role of Lenora, sang with the utmost passion and delivered a totally convincing portrait of a young woman who gives up her life to save her lover. Daltrius hit every high note gorgeously and had power to spare. She also had plenty of volume and veracity with the low notes that Verdi threw in her way. Her acting was palpable, especially in the final scene when she had poisoned herself.

As Manrico, the rebel commander and Lenora’s lover, tenor Antonello Palombi filled the hall with his resonant voice. All of Palombi’s arias were stunning, except the “Di quella pira,” which had vigor but needed more voltage.

Mezzo-soprano Malgorzata Walewska embraced the wickedly complex character of the gypsy Azucena with gusto. Although her upper range started out a bit on the brittle side, Walewska scaled the wild vocal demands, and swept the audience into the gypsy’s dark mindset.

Gordon Hawkins, whose baritone raged with emotion, created an imposing, love-sick, and vengeful Count di Luna. Yet, Hawkins sang the beautiful aria, “Il balen del suo sorriso,” so slowly that it lost some of its luster.

Arthur Woodley cut a demonstrative Ferrando, a captain in Count di Luna’s army. Again, the slow pace of his ballad “Di du figli” in the first scene reduced its dramatic content.

In lesser roles, Vira Slywotzky as Inez and Leodigario del Rosario as Ruiz sang and acted superbly. The chorus sang robustly as gypsies and soldiers, while actors and dancers portrayed a grim life: in the gypsy camp, kids staged mock battles and in the solder’s camp, blindfolded prisoners were abused.

The orchestra, under the baton of guest conductor Yves Abel, stressed the lyrical side of the music over the bombastic, and the tempos, as noted previously, were mostly slow.

The scenery, provided by Minnesota Opera, placed the opera firmly in the realm of melodrama of the days of yore. An enormous, guilded frame provided a border for the action, which took place on a raked stage. Tilting and slanting castle walls suggested a sense of impending doom. The story was further enhanced by traditional costumes, made by Seattle Opera.

Those who find “Il Trovatore’s” story line too ridiculous should count how many over-the-top Hollywood chase scenes they have seen. They could stand to hear the memorable music of this “Il Trovatore. The production runs through January 30th.

Today's Birthdays

Ernest Chausson (1855-1899)
Józef Hofmann (1876-1957)
Walter Piston (1894-1976)
Eva Jessye(1895-1992)
Yvonne Loriod (1924)
David Tudor (1926-1996)
Antonio de Almeida (1928-1997)
Iván Fischer (1951)

and

Alexandra Danilova (1903-1997)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Fritz Reiner (1885-1963)
Erwin Nyíregyházi (1903-1987)
Edith Piaf (1915-1963)
Dalton Baldwin (1931)
Elliott Schwartz (1936)
Phil Ochs (1940-1976)
William Christie (1944)
Marianne Faithfull (1946)
Olaf Bär (1957)

and

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
Italo Svevo (1861-1928)
Julian Barnes (1946)
Edwidge Danticat (1969)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Area Classical Musicians to present Haiti Aid concerts this week

Many Portland area musicians are marshaling their forces this week to raise money for disaster relief in Haiti, where the recent earthquake has left a humanitarian disaster of unimaginable magnitude. Here are press releases for two of the upcoming concerts, one this Thursday night at the Aladdin Theater and another this Sunday evening, January 24 at the Kennedy School at 7 pm. Please consider supporting either or both of these events to help our neighbors who are in desperate need. Both of these events are posted on Facebook.

"SONGS FOR HAITI"

a benefit concert to support the Haiti earthquake disaster relief efforts
100% of money raised goes to Mercy Corps

Thursday, January 21, 2010
7:30 pm - Aladdin Theater, 3017 SE Milwaukie Avenue, Portland

$30 all tickets - available through Ticketmaster - tickets go on sale 10 am MONDAY, January 18!!

Major performances by...
pianist Thomas Lauderdale (of Pink Martini)
Cool Nutz
Portland Cello Project
Grammy nominated pianist Janice Scroggins
Holcombe Waller
Oregon Symphony concertmaster Jun Iwasaki, with pianist Grace Fong
Broadway veteran, baritone Douglas Webster, with cellist Elizabeth Byrd and singer-actress Erin Charles
Flash Choir, PHAME and the Grant High School Royal Blues
... and Portland sensation Storm Large!

- hosted by longtime Oregonian columnist Margie Boule, and KOIN 6 Portland reporter/meteorologist Tim Joyce -

with additional musical guests from genres including classical, indie rock/pop and hip-hop

Portland's musicians respond to the Haiti crisis the best way we know - with music. Join us!

Stephen Marc Beaudoin and Tom Sessa, event co-producers



Classical Revolution Haiti Benefit Concert

On January 24th at 7pm at the Kennedy School, Classical Revolution PDX and friends will perform a free benefit concert to raise funds for relief in Haiti. 100% of donations received will go to Partners in Health. Classical Revolution is delighted to be joined by Matt Sheehy, Opera Theater Oregon, The Dimes, James Faretheewell and many other special guests for a very eclectic and fun night of chamber music.

A silent auction will occur during the performance, with products and services donated by local artists and businesses. Items for auction include event tickets, fine photography, haircuts, massages, and many of the performers are donating private lessons.

Briana Ratterman, a member of Classical Revolution, has been working around the clock to help with the search for her father, Walt Ratterman, who has been missing since the earthquake. Ratterman is CEO and co-founder of SunEnergy Power International. He was in Haiti working on a project to improve the delivery of energy to health care facilities run by Partners in Health. “Our thoughts and love are with Briana and her family,” says Mattie Kaiser, Executive Director of Classical Revolution PDX. “We found it fitting to donate to the incredible work that that Walt and Partners in Health do to contribute to a better life in Haiti.”

Classical Revolution will perform chamber music by Dvorak, Schubert, and Barber’s “Adagio for Strings”. Opera Theater Oregon will perform music from Verdi’s “Requiem” with two of it’s finest soloists, Beth Madsen Bradford and Katie Taylor. OTO will also perform movements of Mozart’s “Requiem” with a full choir and string orchestra.

Portland singer Matt Sheehy, hailed as “a great uniter, with songs that can reach just about anyone with a keen melodic ear” by the Willamette Week, jumped at the chance to join forces with Classical Revolution. The Dimes, James Faretheewell, members of Portland's Bach Cantata Choir, and many other local Portland musicians will donate their musical art to the relief of the people of Haiti.

For more information please visit
www.classicalrevolutionpdx.org
www.standwithhaiti.org
www.sunepi.org

Seattle Symphony musicians reject latest offer

The musicians of the Seattle Symphony rejected the latest offer from the orchestra's management. The proposal had demanded reductions in salary, and the musicians have felt that they have already given up enough ground in that area. There are other complications as well, involving contract length, unfilled p;ositions, and possible revenue-sharing. The musicians of teh Seatlle Symhon & Opera Players' Organization have spelled out their reasons for the unanimous rejection of this contract offer on their website.

The management at the Seattle Symphony has said in a recent press release that they are dissapointed by the musicians decision, and that they will return to the bargaining table. Meanwhile, the orchestra will continue to play its scheduled concerts.

Today's Birthdays

César Cui (1835-1918)
Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894)
John Laurence Seymour (1893-1986)
Berthold Goldschmidt (1903-1996)
Anthony Galla-Rini (1904-2006)
John O'Conor (1947)
Anthony Pople (1955-2003)
Christoph Prégardien (1956)

and

A. A. Milne (1882-1956)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

45th Parallel wows in a rousing debut

Saturday night, January 16th, marked the inaugural concert of a new Portland chamber music group that goes by the name of 45th Parallel. Its goal is to make a home for chamber music by talented local musicians, to “bring Portland’s rich chamber music culture out of the living room and onto the stage.” Last night’s concert at the Old Church was rich indeed, featuring a sort of A-list of some of Portland’s finest string players, in this case all members of the Oregon Symphony (and other groups). The evening featured three works, by de Bériot, Verdi and Tchaikovsky, all of which works were influenced by opera or ballet.

The evening opened with a Duo Concertante in G minor (Op. 57 no. 1) by Charles de Bériot (1802-1870). 45th Parallel Artistic Director Gregory Ewer and OSO Concertmaster Jun Iwasaki delivered an amazingly full-bodied sound, one belying the fact that there were only two violins playing. The opening Moderato (there was nothing moderate about this work) featured dramatic multi-stops and a see-sawing melody that felt at times like a Donizetti overture. Ewer and Iwasaki displayed magnificent synchronicity and unity of purpose in this virtuosic exposition. The Adagio opened like a barcarolle, the players reveling in the unashamed sentimentality of the work. At one point Iwasaki leapt into the air and thumped down onto the stage, highlighting an intense moment in the third movement.

The String Quartet in E minor by Verdi followed, and Iwasaki and Ewer were joined by Charles Noble on viola and Justin Kagan on cello. Before the work started Ewer cautioned that even though the work was composed by Verdi the audience shouldn’t expect an operatic sound…that Verdi composed it as a work for four equal strings, not a serenade with accompaniment. Nevertheless, Verdi’s genius as a melodist couldn’t long be contained, and the opening Allegro was broken by sublime, beatific moments that spoke out from the dense texture and then were gone again, like sudden, brief sunbursts on an otherwise gray day. However, there were times during the maniacally-paced middle section of the movement where the intonation didn’t always hold up, especially among the upper three voices.

An animated, oft-mysterious Andantino was next, alternating between an extremely spare palate and thick layering. The sudden, difficult transitions between these ideas were seamless and exciting to hear. Given the breakneck pace of the Allegro, the idea of a closing Prestissimo seemed almost scary. It featured delightful pizzicato sections where Ewer and Iwasaki managed a delicate plunking that sounded almost like an African thumb piano. A dizzyingly difficult Scherzo-Fuga closed out the Verdi; the entire work was a study in radical contrasts and these musicians were definitely up to the task.

After the intermission the group was joined by cellist Trevor Fitzpatrick and violist Viorel Benjenaru for a sextet by Tchaikovsky (Op. 70) called Souvenir de Florence that bore no resemblance to Florentine music. The work opened with a full promise of bombast and romantic brashness, and the group delivered in spectacular fashion. Iwasaki on first violin was magnificent, bringing a glorious, singing tone to bear. The swooping Russian string sound was affecting and cantabile, and there was an incredible swelling-receding effect initiated by extreme hairpin dynamics that was redolent with excitement. There were moments that felt like a vision of impending peril worthy of Francesca da Rimini.

The duet between violin and cello in the Adagio cantabile came off nicely, with Kagan exploring an especially full sonority on the cello. These dialogue moments were interrupted by verdant, homophonic interludes that were broad and nuanced, never lapsing into the dull or monolithic which would have been easy to do. The closing movements were based on Russian folk themes; the Alegretto was especially memorable, taking the form of a lively dance based on a beautiful yet scowling folk tune with tricky imitative entrances.

45th Parallel obviously set out to make a statement last night. If that statement was: we are here, we are bold, we can play with the best of them, then the message came across loud and clear. It would be hard to classify this concert as anything other than a smashing success, and judging from the audience reaction it seems like there will probably be large and enthusiastic crowds accompanying any future endeavors by this group.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Gottfried Müthel (1728-1788)
François‑Joseph Gossec (1734-1829)
Oscar Morawetz (1917-2007)
Annie Delorie (1925)
Jean Barraqué (1928-1973)
Dame Gillian Weir (1941)
Anne Queffélec (1948)
Augustin Dumay (1949)
Nancy Argenta (1957)
Gérard Pesson (1958)

and

William Stafford (1914-1993)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Spray tan, swimwear and horns: big opera gets Baywatched


Following is a press release from Opera Theater Oregon:

Brass blazing, electric guitars wailing, here comes OTO's 'Das Rheingold,' Feb 17-28 at the Portland home of Rocky Horror, Clinton Street Theater, where the beer flows and the pizza is cheap and tasty.

PORTLAND– Is pop culture ready for Wagner? Opera Theater Oregon thinks so. The daring young company's newest production, a Baywatchified version of Richard Wagner's 'Das Rheingold,' takes the biggest of big operas out of the misty wilds of German myth and lands it smack on Malibu Beach, circa 1994. Think 'Lord of the Rings' with David Hasselhoff as Frodo.

The company's quirky 16-piece orchestra features special guests Electric Opera Company, who make up the entire string section with electric guitars, and Festival Brass, who will deliver Wagner's trademark big, rich brass sound. "Like most of my ideas, this one started out as a joke," says OTO Artistic Director, Katie Taylor. "Then I got all excited and tracked down ["Baywatch" series creator] Greg Bonnan's email. I never expected him to write back." But Bonnan did write back, with the surprising news that he loves opera and would be happy to grant OTO permission to use an episode he and Deborah Bonnan wrote in 1994 as the basis for the opera's new story.

Taylor would spend the next two years painstakingly editing down the monster 3-hour score to its tastiest 80 minutes and changing the story from dark, tortured Bavarian treachery to the sun-kissed, wave-washed California variety.

OTO Music Director Erica Melton reduced and arranged the score, originally orchestrated for 100+ instruments (including seven harps, 18 tuned anvils and a thunder machine) to fit the company's 16-piece chamber orchestra (six electric guitars, electric bass, drum kit, brass quartet, two clarinets, harp and piano). She was assisted in this mammoth task by Bobby Ray (guitar arrangements, Electric Opera Company), Ben Landsverk (score preparation, Holcombe Waller, Fourscore, Rachel Taylor Brown), and Brad Bleything (Festival Brass). "The prospect of using electric guitars is thrilling," Melton says. "In the right hands, the sound can be agile, powerful, even sweet, and when I saw Electric Opera Company perform, I knew that they had the skill and creativity to pull it off."

Taylor has written, edited and directed six other shows for OTO since she started with the company in late 2006, three of them conducted and arranged by Melton, who has worked with the company since its founding in 2005 and officially came on board as music director in 2008.

THE PLOT: The story follows the mad career of deejay Larry Loomin' Large (Alberich, the dwarf, in the original), whose lifelong Napoleon complex has driven him to a dark obsession with obtaining the Perfect Tan and, with it, ultimate control over everyone and everything. Can Mitch (Wotan, king of the gods) stop him in time, or will he too succumb to the unholy allure of the magical Tanhelm? CJ, Matt, Hobie, Stephanie and Caroline join in a race against time to stop the Perfect Tan, once enjoyed in innocence, from becoming the destroyer of all.

LEITMOTIF BINGO: One of Wagner's most groundbreaking inventions was the theme song (leitmotif), which most people today take for granted. Listen to almost any movie soundtrack and you'll catch a recurring love theme, villain's theme, fight theme, etc. etc. "Most people don't realize that Wagner was the first one to do that in the way we think of it now - - making the orchestra remind the audience who a character is, and what feelings are driving that person along," says Taylor. The audience is invited to come a half hour before every show for a rousing round of Leitmotif Bingo, designed to give everyone a fighting chance to catch all the theme songs in the opera and learn what they stand for. Tasty German prizes will reward the winners. "Obviously, this is a little different from the original," says Taylor. "Instead of Loge's Theme, we have Knuckle Sandwich, but a lot of the leitmotifs make the jump as-is."

THE CREATIVE TEAM: OTO's 'Das Rheingold' stars baritones Michael Miersma (Larry "Loomin'" Large/Alberich) and Benjamin Bell (Mitch Buchannon/Wotan), soprano Emily Kinkley (CJ Parker/Freia), tenor David Simmons (Matt Brody/Loge), mezzo soprano May Winner (Kay Morgan/Fricka), mezzo soprano Claire Craig Sheets (Hobie Buchannon/Flosshilde/Erda), tenor Ian Timmons (Basil Frankenkos/Mime), soprano Helen Funston (Stephanie Holden/Woglinde) and mezzo soprano Eva Wolff (Caroline Holden/Wellgunde)...and features the glamorous girls and boys of the Opera Theater Oregon Chorus and Orchestra, with special guests Electric Opera Company and Festival Brass. Loosely adapted from the "Baywatch" Season 5 ep "KGAS The Groove Yard of Solid Gold" by Gregory J. Bonnan and Deborah Bonnan. Written, edited and directed by OTO Artistic Director Katie Taylor, with musical direction by OTO Music Director Erica Melton and arranged by Melton with Ben Landsverk (Holcombe Waller, Fourscore, Rachel Taylor Brown), Bobby Ray(Electric Opera Company)and Brad Bleything(Festival Brass). Technical direction by Robin Greenwood.

THE NUTS AND BOLTS: Tickets, $15 (general admission), are available by calling PDXTix at 503-205-0715, or online at http://www.operatheateroregon.com/. All shows are all ages (not appropriate for kids under age 10, including babies, who are usually terrified by the noise). Beer, pizza and snacks are allowed in the auditorium and available throughout the evening. Group rates are available. Call 503-234-4515 for details. This world premiere production of OTO's “Das Rheingold” is generously supported by a grant from THE AUTZEN FOUNDATION and the support of individual donors.

ABOUT Opera Theater OregonOpera Theater Oregon's mission is to bring opera back into pop culture through creative editing and adaptation. Affordable, entertaining, and commonly available (bars, movie theaters, online), OTO helps more people connect with classical music in a way that feels relevant to their lives. OTO is a 501c(3) tax exempt organization, IRS Section 170b(2)iii for both federal and state tax purposes.

Today's Birthdays

Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967)
Turk Murphy (1915-1987)
Steve Allen (1921-2000)
Dame Thea King (1925-2007)
Kenneth Gilbert (1931)
Marilyn Horne (1934)
Richard Wernick (1934)
Philip Langridge (1939)
Trevor Pinnock (1946)
Isabelle van Keulen (1966)

and

Jane Austin (1775-1817)
George Santayana (1863-1952)
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
Sir Noël Coward (1899-1973)
Anthony Hecht (1923-2004)
William Kennedy (1928)
Susan Sontag (1933-2004)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Vancouver Symphony (WA) preview

I've written a preview of the Vancouver Symphony concert, and it appears in today's Columbian newspaper here. The concert has two double concerts: one for violins (Bach) and the other for pianos (Mozart). The article has some quotes from violin soloists Fumino Ando and Eva Richey as well as from the piano soloists Cinda Goold Redman and Lena Vozheiko-Wheaton. The concerts take place this weekend.

Today's Birthdays

Ivor Novello (1883-1951)
Elie Siegmeister (1909-1991)
Malcolm Frager (1935-1991)
Don "Captain Beefheart" Van Vliet (1941)
Aaron Jay Kernis (1960)

and

Molière (1622-1673)
Franz Grillparzer (1791-1872)
Andreas William Heinesen (1900-1991)

Also, the British Museum opened today in 1759.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gilmore Young Artist winner from Centralia, Washington

Harold Gray, the artistic director of Portland Piano International, notes in his blog that in addition to Kirill Gerstein's winning the coveted Gilmore Artist Award, it turns out that a young pianist from Centralia, Washington won a Gilmore Young Artist Award.

Here are the details from Gray's missive:
Twenty-one year old Centralia, Washington pianist, Charlie Albright, is not only one of the 2010 pianists named as a Gilmore Young Artist, but he has also recently won the important Young Concert Artists Competition in New York City.

Charlie is a remarkable young man. How many people his age can say they have scholarships named after them? Read about this and more at his website here. And the press release from Young Concert Artists is here. Congratulations to his teacher, Nancy Adsit, for knowing just how to mentor this young man over the years.

Charlie performed Menotti’s Ricercare and Toccata at a Portland Piano International summer master class several years ago, blowing everyone away. You can view Albright playing the Menotti piece here.

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PS: There must be something in the water in Centralia. Angela Meade is another young native of that town, and she's been singing at the Met.

Today's Birthdays

Ludwig von Köchel (1800-1877)
Jean de Reszke (1850-1925)
Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
Louis Quilico (1925-2000)
Zuzana Ruzickova (1927)
Siegmund Nimsgern (1940)
Mariss Jansons (1943)
Kees Bakels (1945)
Nicholas McGegan (1950)
Ben Heppner (1956)
Andrew Manze (1965)

and

John Dos Passos (1896-1970
Maureen Dowd (1952)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Christoph Graupner (1683-1760)
Vassili Kalinnikov (1866-1901)
Richard Addinsell (1904-1977)
Daniil Shafran (1923-1997)
Renato Bruson (1936)
Paavo Heininen (1938)
William Duckworth (1943)
Richard Blackford (1954)
Wayne Marshall (1961)
Juan Diego Flórez (1973)

and

Horatio Alger (1832-1899)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739)
Jacques Duphly (1715-1789)
Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948)
Pierre Bernac (1899-1979)
William Pleeth (1916-1999)
Morton Feldman (1926-1987)
Salvatore Martirano (1927-1995)
Anne Howells (1941)
Viktoria Postnikova (1944)
Lori Laitman (1955)

and

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Jack London (1876-1916)
Haruki Murakami (1949)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Article about John Vergin

My profile about the versatile John Vergin appeared today in Oregon Music News. I hope that you get a chance to read it.

Today's Birthdays

Christian Sinding (1856-1941)
Reihold Glière (1875-1956)
Maurice Duruflé(1902-1986)
Mark DeVoto (1940)
York Höller (1944)
Drew Minter (1955)
Alex Shapiro (1962)

and

William James (1842-1910)
Alan Paton (1903-1988)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Jean Martinon (1910-1976)
Sidney Griller (1911-1993)
Dean Dixon (1915-1976)
Max Roach (1924-2007)
Sherrill Milnes (1935)
Rod Stewart (1945)
James Morris (1947)
Mischa Maisky (1948)
Rockwell Blake (1951)
Charles Norman Mason (1955)

and


Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)
Philip Levine (1928)
Stephen E. Ambrose (1936-2002)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Review of Haochen Zhang concert in American Record Guide

My review of the Haochen Zhang concert in Portland (sponsored by Portland Piano International) is in the current issue (January/February) of the American Record Guide on pages 22 and 23. The ARG mostly contains reviews of recordings, but the first fifty pages are devoted to reviews from all over the world.

Paavo Järvi announces that he intends to leave the Cincinnati Symphony

Paavo Järvi, who has conducted the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra for the past ten years, will resign after the 2010-2011 season. Next year Järvi becomes the music director of the Orchestre de Paris, and he is already the music director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie in Bremen and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony. Juggling four orchestras is a bit too much! Read this article in the Cincinnati Enquirer for the details.

Today's Birthdays

Rudolf Bing (1902-1997)
Herva Nelli (1909-1994)
Henriette Puig‑Roget (1910-1992)
Pierre Pierlot (1921-2007)
Joan Baez (1941)
Scott Walker (1944)
Jimmy Page (1944)
Waltraud Meier (1956)
Hillevi Martinpelto (1958)
Nicholas Daniel (1962)

and

Karel Čapek (1890-1938)
Kurt Tucholsky (1890-1935)
Brian Friel (1929)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Overflow crowd at Lutheran Choral Association concert

Last Sunday afternoon the Lutheran Choral Association gave a concert to an overflow audience at Peace Lutheran Church in North Portland. Over 650 people attended in the concert, and the number was so unexpected that members of the congregation had to pull many extra chairs into the sanctuary. The choir, around 100 voices, had expected about 100 people or maybe a little more; so they were completely surprised. The only advertising that had been done for this concert was a large sign in front the church and a notice in The Oregonian. I have asked some concertgoers why an extra 550 people showed up for this concert. They replied that it was a standard Christmas concert, and that the listeners wanted Christmas to last a little longer. Maybe everyone is so busy around Christmastime, that they didn't have a chance to take in a concert until after Christmas and New Years had gone by. In any case, the Lutheran Choral Association plans to make this an annual event (it started last year because the choir's regular concert before Christmas was snowed out; so they moved the concert to the first Sunday after the New Year). Congratulations to the choir for maxing out the seating at the church! This was a real SRO concert.

Today's Birthdays

Jean Gilles (1668-1705)
Hans von Bülow (1830-1894)
Jaromir Weinberger (1896-1967)
Giacinto Scelsi (1905-1988)
Giorgio Tozzi (1923)
Robert Starer (1924-2001)
Benjamin Lees (1924)
Elvis Presley (1935-1977)
Zdeněk Mácal (1936)
Evgeny Nesterenko (1938)
Elijah Moshinsky (1946)
Paul Dresher (1951)
Vladimir Feltsman (1952)

and

Bronislava Nijinska (1891-1972)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Kirill Gerstein receives Gilmore Artist Award

Kirill Gerstein, who has appeared with the Oregon Symphony a couple of times (most recently in October) and with Portland Piano International (2004 season) has just been given the Gilmore Artist Award and chunk of cash, $300,000 actually. The New York Times has an excellent article on Gerstein and his latest achievement. I hope that we can get back to Oregon for another concert soon.

Today's Birthdays

Clara Haskil (1895-1960)
Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
John Brownlee (1900-1969)
Nicanor Zabaleta (1907-1993)
Günter Wand (1912-2002)
Ulysses Kay (1917-1995)
John Lanigan (1921-1996)
Jean-Pierre Rampal (1922-2000)
Tommy Johnson (1935-2006)
Iona Brown (1941-2004)
Richard Armstrong (1943)

and

Hugh Kenner (1923-2003)
Nicholson Baker (1957)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Seattle Symphony musicians - latest update

Over the last few days the musicians of the musicians of the Seattle Symphony have made some progress in their contract with Seattle Opera, for which they also provide services. But their efforts with the management at the Seattle Symphony remain at a standstill. David Brewster's article in Crosscut gives a succinct account of the latest developments.
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Also, Drew McManus has recorded his latest thoughts in Adapistration on the situation in Seattle and a bit on the current problems at the Cleveland Orchestra.

Today's Birthdays

Max Bruch (1838-1920)
Georges Martin Witkowski (1867-1943)
Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)
Karl Straube (1873-1950)
Earl Kim (1920-1998)
Alexander Baillie (1956)

and

Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
Khalil Gibran (1883-1931)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Stabler interview with cellist Justin Kagan

David Stabler has a fine article on cellist/micro-coffee-roaster Justin Kagan in today's Oregonian here.

Today's Birthdays

Constanza Mozart (1762-1842)
Frederick Converse (1871-1940)
Nikolai Medtner (1880-1951)
Reginald Smith-Brindle (1917-2003)
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli (1920-1995)
Laszlo Heltay (1930)
Alfred Brendel (1931)
Maurizio Pollini (1942)

and

Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990)
Umberto Eco (1932)
Charlie Rose (1942)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Interview with Ron Blessinger

My interview with Ron Blessinger, Mr. Third Angle, has been posted in Oregon Music News here.

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Pergolesi (1710-1736)
Josef Suk (1874-1935)
Frank Wess (1922)
Grace Bumbry (1937)
Joseph Turrin (1947)
Margaret Marshall (1949)
Ronald Corp (1951)
Peter Seiffert (1954)

and

Sir Issac Newton (1642-1727)
Jacob Grimm (1785-1863)
Louis Braille (1809-1852)
Augustus John (1878-1961)
Doris Kearns Goodwin (1943)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Victor Borge (1909-2000)
Ronald Smith (1922-2004)
Sir George Martin (1926)
HK Gruber (1943)
David Atherton (1944)

and

William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A cure for ringing in the ears - tinnitus

According to this report in Scientific American, individually designed music therapy might help reduce noise levels in people suffering from tinnitus, or ear ringing. The research has been done in Germany and an abstract with links to the the full study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists of the United States of America.

Today's Birthdays

Sir Michael Tippett (1905-1998)
Barbara Pentland (1912-2000)
Alberto Zedda (1928)
Peter Eötvös (1944)
Janet Hilton (1945)
Vladimir Ovchinnikov (1958)
Tzimon Barto (1963)
Robert Fertitta (1970)
Eric Whitacre (1970)

and

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Stats from the past year

During 2009 Northwest Reverb received 38,168 visits from 21,474 visitors. The month of October received the highest number of visits with 3,968. The most read posting was a review of the Portland Youth Philharmonic that I posted in March.

Today's Birthdays

Charles Racquet (1598 - 1664)
Frederick William Gaisberg (1873-1951)
Artur Rodzinski (1892-1958)
Erich Schmid (1907-2001)
Trude Rittmann (1908-2005)
Richard Verreau (1926-2005)
Maurice Béjart (1927 - 2007)
Bernard Greenhouse (1916)
Alberto Portugheis (1941)

and

E. M. Forster (1879-1970)
J. D. Salinger (1919)