Sunday, October 31, 2010

Today's Birthdays

August Everding (1928-1999)
Colin Tilney (1933)
Odaline de la Martinez (1949)

and

Jan Vermeer (1632-1675)
John Keats (1795-1821)
Susan Orlean (1955)

from The New Music Box:

On October 31, 1896, the Boston Symphony premiered the Gaelic" Symphony in E Minor by Mrs. H.H.A. Beach (Amy Marcy Cheney Beach), the first symphony by an American woman ever publicly performed.

CD Review: Portland Opera's 'Orphee'


This year saw a milestone in the Portland Opera's history with their first-ever commercial recording, a complete rendering of Philip Glass's Orphee. Recorded during Orphee's run in November of 2009, the surprise hit of Portland Opera's last season transfers admirably to this disc from Orange Mountain Music. Not only is this CD a first for the PO, but it is doubly important in that it is also the first complete recording of this opera, the last of Glass's triptych based on films by Jean Cocteau to be put to disc.

The production benefited from the previous experience with this work brought to the fore by conductor Anne Manson and principals Philip Cutlip (Orphee) and Lisa Saffer (La Princesse), all of whom performed this previously with the Glimmerglass Opera. The recording succeeds brillantly in capturing the crispness and concision of the dialogue, which was adapted by Glass from the script for the 1949 Cocteau film of the same name. Cutlip's rich, expressive baritone and soprano Lisa Saffer's moody Princesse seem to leap out from the recording with their sincerity and intensity. The dialogue moves along as in a film; i.e. no long expressive arias, so the singers have the challenge of both continuously advancing the plot while delivering enjoyable listening from a musical standpoint.

The oft-mysterious framework provided by Glass's orchestral underpinning comes through in delicious color, from the hurly-burly French cafe music to be found in the opening scene to the dark mystery of the journey to the underworld, and the ceaseless movement of the music seems to command rapt attention. Particularly poignant are the tender moments between tenor Ryan MacPherson as Heurtebise and Georgia Jarman as Eurydice, Orphee's sometimes-scorned wife, as well as Orphee's obsessive madness with the cryptic radio broadcasts that he takes to be the finest poetry in the world. The heart-rending decision by Heurtebise and La Princesse to defy the will of the underworld and return their loves to their former lives after the harrowing journey beyond the doors of death is as inspiring and beautiful as one could hope opera to be. As a side-note, the French diction is marvelously clear throughout.

Portland Opera has distinguished itself by releasing such a meaningful, high-quality recording by one of the world's most important living composers. In short, this is a brilliant recording of a brilliant work. It is one that will bear repeated listening, with new facets to be discovered at each turn.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Today's Birthdays

André Messager (1853-1929)
Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge (1864-1953)
Alfred Einstein (1880-1952)
Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
Sir David Willcocks (1919)
Bruno Canino (1935)
June Anderson (1950)
Antonio Pappano (1959)

and

Theodor Fontane (1819-1898)
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
Robert Caro (1935)

From the New Music Box:

On October 30, 1935, the Composers' Forum-Laboratory, designed to provide an outlet or American composers during the Great Depression, opened in New York with a program of music by Roy Harris. The Forum was an outgrowth of the Federal Music Project, a division of the Work Projects Administration, which was established as a national agency on May 6, 1935, by an executive order of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. At its peak in 1936, the FMP, which began as a distinct division of the WPA on August 1, 1935 as a means to provide work for unemployed American musicians, involved a total of 15,000 musicians.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Harold Darke (1888-1976)
Vivian Ellis (1904-1996)
Václav Neumann (1920-1995)
Jon Vickers (1926)
James Dillon (1950)
Lee Actor (1952)
James Primosch (1956)

and

James Boswell (1740-1795)
David Remnick (1958)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Giuditta Pasta (1797-1865)
Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
Dame Cleo Laine (1927)
Carl Davis (1936)
Howard Blake (1938)
Kenneth Montgomery (1943)
Naida Cole (1974)

and

Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)
John Harold Hewitt (1907-1987)
Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
John Hollander (1929)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The newest performance space

Even though the newly renovated Lincoln Recital Hall is getting all the raves, it's actually not the newest improvement in Portland's performance landscape. The latest addition in performance spaces belongs to Rose City Park Presbyterian Church (1907 NE 45th Avenue), which has dramatically altered its sanctuary so that its acoustics are much, much better for concerts. I got to experience that first-hand when I sang with the Bach Cantata Choir in its first concert of the season on Sunday afternoon. The choir could hear each other and the orchestra way better than before, and the audience thought that our sound was much better as well. In any case, other groups should consider looking at this space for future performance opportunities.

Today's Birthdays

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840)
Helmut Walcha (1907-1991)
Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997)
Dominick Argento (1927)
Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Håkan Hardenberger (1961)
Vanessa-Mae (1978)

and

Lee Krasner (1908-1994)
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972)
György Pauk (1936)
Christine Brewer (1955)
Natalie Merchant (1963)
Sakari Oramo (1965)

and

Andrew Motion (1952)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623)
Johann Strauss II (1825-1899)
Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
Galina Vishnevskaya (1926)
Peter Lieberson (1946)
Diana Burrell (1948)
Colin Carr (1957)
Midori (1971)

and

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
John Berryman (1914-1972)
Anne Tyler (1941)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Ferdinand Hiller (1811-1885)
Conrad Leonard (1898-2003)
Paul Csonka (1905-1995)
Tito Gobbi (1913-1984)
Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
George Crumb (1929)
Sofia Gubaidulina (1931)
Malcolm Bilson (1935)
Bill Wyman (1936)
George Tsontakis (1951)
Cheryl Studer (1955)

and

Moss Hart (1904-1961)
Denise Levertov (1923-1997)
Norman Rush (1933)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Works by Bach, Schütz, and Graupner on tap for Bach Cantata Choir

This Sunday (October 24) at 2 pm, the Bach Cantata Choir will perform two Bach cantatas plus works by Heinrich Schütz and Christoph Graupner. The choir’s artistic director, Ralph Nelson, will conduct the concert, which will features soloists and chamber orchestra. The performance will be held at Rose City Park Presbyterian Church (1907 NE 45th Avenue). During intermission and after the concert a silent auction will also take place.

Featured works on the program are:

Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672): Cantate Domino, SWV 81
Christoph Graupner (1683-1760): Cantata: “Also hat Gott die Welt geliebet”
J.S. Bach (1685-1750): Cantata #78: “Jesu, der du meine Seele”
J.S. Bach: Cantata #192: “Nun danket alle Gott”


I will be singing in this performance as will fellow-NW Reverber Lorin Wilkerson.

---

BTW: Today at our dress rehearsal, Ralph Nelson asked the choir to sing the Graupner with a lighter voice, and said something like "the Graupner sounds too heavy!" One my tenor colleagues, Josh Kadish, whispered to me "He ain't, he's my Graupner."

Today's Birthdays

Albert Lortzing (1801-1851)
Denise Duval (1921)
Ned Rorem (1923)
Lawrence Foster (1941)
Toshio Hosokawa (1955)
"Weird Al" Yankovic (1959)
Brett Dean (1961)

and

Robert Bridges (1844-1930)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Sir Donald McIntyre (1934)
Elizabeth Connell (1946)

and

John Reed (1887-1920)
Doris Lessing (1919)

From the Writer's Almanac:
It was on this day in 1883 that the Metropolitan Opera House opened with a performance of Faust. The opera was based on Goethe's German poem, and it was composed in French, but it was sung in Italian. The New Yorkers who designed the opera house wanted it to have an Italian feel, so they had it built with a palazzo on Broadway, and Italian was the language of choice.

There was already an opera house in New York, the Academy of Music, near Union Square. It was one of the main gathering places of the city's high society, who watched each other from the opera boxes as eagerly as they watched the opera itself. But there were only 18 opera boxes at the Academy of Music, and in the 1870s a whole generation of industrial millionaires were emerging in New York. These nouveau riche were not so welcome at the Academy of Music, or in any of the social circles of old money. But they wanted a place to display themselves, so they decided to build their own opera house. Seventy people got together and pooled $1.7 million to buy land and build a concert hall. They put in three levels with 36 box seats in each, more than enough for everyone.

In The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton wrote:
"On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.

"Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances 'above the Forties,' of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendor with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy. Conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the 'new people' whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to; and the sentimental clung to it for its historic associations, and the musical for its excellent acoustics, always so problematic a quality in halls built for the hearing of music."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957)
Howard Ferguson (1908-1999)
Alexander Schneider (1908-1993)
Sir Georg Solti (1912-1997)
Dizzy (John Birks) Gillespie (1917-1993)
Sir Malcom Arnold (1921-2006)
Hugh Wolff (1953)

and

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
Alfred Nobel (1833-1896)
Ursula K. Le Guin (1929)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Charles Ives (1874-1954)
Alfredo Campoli (1906-1991)
Adelaide Hall (1909-1993)
Robert Craft (1923)
Jacques Loussier (1934)
William Albright (1944-1998)
Ivo Pogorelich (1958)
Leila Josefowicz (1977)

and

Christopher Wren (1632-1723)
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)
Robert Pinsky (1940)
Elfriede Jelinek (1946)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Take a seat!

I recently attended a Portland Baroque Orchestra concerts (see my review in Oregon Music News) and noticed that principal second violinist Rob Diggins's chair had a cushion atop a dual-stack of hymnals. It looked sort of uncomfortable, but it didn't seem to hinder Diggins's playing at all. Still, it might be better for him, if the right kind of chair could be used.

Today's Birthdays

Sidonie Goossens (1899-2004)
Karl-Birger Blomdahl (1916-1968)
Emil Gilels (1916-1985)
Robin Holloway (1943)
Robert Morris (1943)

and

Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)
Miguel Ángel Asturias (1899-1974)
Philip Pullman (1946)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998)
Rolando Panerai (1924)
Reiner Goldberg (1939)
Stephen Kovacevich (1940)

and

Georg Büchner (1813-1837)
Nathanael West (1903-1940)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745)
James Lockhart (1930)
Derek Bourgeois (1941)
Marin Alsop (1956)
Erkki-Sven Tüür (1959)
Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962)

and

Noah Webster (1758-1843)
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Eugene O'Neill (1886-1953)
Günter Grass (1927)
Thomas Lynch (1948)

In 1882, during a tour across the US, Oscar Wilde lectured to coal miners in Leadville, Colorado, where he saw a sign on a saloon that said, "Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best," and called it "the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across."

Friday, October 15, 2010

Problems at the University of Washington School of Music

Melinda Bargreen in Musical America has written a report on the troubles at the University of Washington School of Music. A $230,000 deficit has caused the school to trim staff. Bargreen states that "many are part-time, including those held by internationally known Wagnerian soprano Jane Eaglen and noted trumpeter Allen Vizzutti. A third departure, a resignation last month by assistant voice professor Joyce Guyer (a 16-year veteran of the Metropolitan Opera), came in the wake of Guyer’s belief that the new School of Music Director Richard Karpen would not recommend her for tenure. Vizzutti and Guyer made their dismay known in letters that have been widely circulated on the Internet."

This news item in Musical America may be available only to subscribers. I have a subscription to Musical America (discounted through my membership in the MCANA).

Today's Birthdays

Dag Wirén (1905-1985)
Harold Blumenfeld (1923)
Karl Richter (1926-1981)
Barry McGuire (1935)
Suzanne Murphy (1941)
Peter Phillips (1953)

and

Virgil (70 B.C.E.- 19 B.C.E.)
Friedrich Nietzsche, (1844-1900)
P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)
Varian Fry (1907-1967)
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007)
Italo Calvino (1923-1985)
Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Alexander Zimlinsky (1871-1942)
Gary Graffman (1928)
Rafael Puyana (1931)
Enrico di Giuseppe (1932-2005)
Sir Cliff Richard (1940)
Kaija Saariaho (1952)

and

Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923)
E. E. Cummings (1894-1962)
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975)
Katha Pollitt (1949)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Art Tatum (1910-1956)
Hugo Weisgall (1912-1997)
Gustav Winckler (1925-1979)
Paul Simon (1941)
Leona Mitchell (1949)
Kristine Ciesinski (1950)
Melvyn Tan (1956)
Mark Applebaum (1967)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1686-1750)
Arthur Nikisch (1855-1922)
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Carlos López Buchardo (1881-1948)
Gilda Dalla Rizza (1892-1975)
Erich Gruenberg (1924)
Pilar Lorengar (1938-1996)
Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)
Daryl Runswick (1946)
Penelope Walker (1956)
Chris Botti (1962)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Today's Birthdays

George Bridgetower (1780-1860)
Fernando De Lucia (1860-1925)
Albert Stoessel (1894-1943)
Eugene Weigel (1910)
Art Blakey (1919-1990)
Ennio Morricone (1928)
David Rendall (1948)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Vernon Duke (1903-1969)
Paul Creston (1906-1985)
Thelonious Monk (1917-1982)
Gloria Coates (1938)
Sir Willard White (1946)
John Prine (1946)
Steve Martland (1959)
Evgeny Kissin (1971)

and

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684–1721)
Harold Pinter (1930)

From the New Music Box:

On October 10, 1940, Virgil Thomson began a 14 year stint as chief music critic of the New York Herald Tribune, arguably the most visible journalistic position ever held by a prominent American composer.

With his first published review, titled "Age Without Honor," Thomson set the tone for an agenda that put American composers first, excoriating the New York Philharmonic for a program that "was anything but a memorable experience." In this first of his many pronouncements against the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, he denounced as "vulgar, self-indulgent, and provincial beyond all description." His most biting prose, however, he saved for the orchestra itself: "As a friend remarked who had never been to one of these concerts before, "I understand now why the Philharmonic is not a part of New York's intellectual life.'"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Harry Lawrence Freeman (1869-1954)
Carl Flesch (1873-1944)
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
Einojuhani Routavaara (1928)
Alfons Kontarsky (1932)
John Lennon (1940-1980)
Jackson Browne (1948)
Sally Burgess (1953)
Roberto Sierra (1953)

and

Ivo Andrić (1892-1975)
Bruce Catton (1899-1978)
Léopold (Sédar) Senghor (1906-2001)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785)
Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Will Vodery (1885-1951)
Paul V. Yoder (1908-1990)
James Sample (1910-1995)
Kurt Redel (1918)
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)
Johnny Ramone (1948-2004)
Robert Saxton (1953)
Carl Vine (1954)
Tabea Zimmermann (1968)
Bruno Mantovani (1974)

and

Philip Booth (1925-2007)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

David Buck mentioned in LA Phil gala broadcast

I only got to hear the end of tonight live broadcast of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's gals - carried on KQAC 89.9 - and I heard David Buck's solo passages in Márquez's "Danzón No. 2." You may recall that Buck was the principal flutist of the Oregon Symphony from 2005 through the end of last season. Now Buck is Mr. Dudamel's number 1 piper, and he sounded really terrific over the radio. The broadcast commentators noted that at the end of the Danzón, Dudamel signaled special attention for several members of the orchestra and Buck was mentioned. Bravo!

Today's Birthdays

William Billings (1746-1800)
Joe Hill (1879-1915)
Alfred Wallenstein (1898-1983)
Shura Cherkassky (1911-1995)
Charles Dutoit (1936)
Yo-Yo Ma (1955)
Li Yundi (1982)

and

James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones) (1934)

Never-performed Vivaldi concerto discovered in Scotland


Exciting news from Scotland: a Vivaldi flute concerto called "Il Gran Mogol," which was known only by its reference in the catalog of an 18th-century Dutch bookseller, was discovered in the National Archives in Scotland. It was missing only the second violin part, which has been reconstructed. Its first-ever performance will be in Perth in January. Read more about it here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

In Mulieribus to give CD release concert at Classical Classical Millennium


From the press release:
Classical Millennium, Portland's classical-only CD store, is pleased to present In Mulieribus in live performance. Join this early music choir of seven women at the store, 3144 East Burnside in Portland, on Saturday, October 9, from 2:00 - 3:00 P.M. to hear them perform excerpts from their new album, A December Feast. All In Mulieribus recordings will be specially sale priced for the event.

This new CD, A December Feast, is the third in the group's series of self-released discs, and will feature music for the various feasts in December, including of course, Christmas. The two previous recordings were featured as Critics' Picks in The Oregonian newspaper. The first, Notre Dame de Grâce, presents conductus compositions from the late twelfth century, and the second, In Mulieribus: LIVE, is a compilation of live recordings from concerts between 2004-2008.

Founded in 2004, In Mulieribus (the Latin phrase meaning “amongst women”) is a female vocal ensemble that focuses on works written primarily before 1750, without instrumental accompaniment. In Mulieribus (IM) presents its own annual concert series in Portland, Oregon, and has also appeared as guest artist at the Portland Art Museum, the University of San Diego, and the Multnomah County Library. Upcoming performances include the 2011 Abbey Bach Festival at Mt. Angel Abbey in St. Benedict, Oregon, and the Linfield Lively Arts Concert Series at Linfield College. From its inception, the mission of In Mulieribus has included both an artistic and philanthropic component. Unique among performing arts groups, a portion of all concert proceeds goes to benefit another non-profit organization that serves the community.

Performances by In Mulieribus have been broadcast on nationally syndicated radio shows such as Performance Today and Millennium of Music. The ensemble has recently reached beyond its focus on early music, to highlight works by women composers and to support new music.

Today's Birtrhdays

William Bradbury (1816-1868)
Jenny Lind (1820-1887)
Julia Culp (1880-1970)
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
Maria Jeritza (1887-1982)
Edwin Fischer (1886-1960)
Paul Badura-Skoda (1927)
Dennis Wicks (1928-2003)
Udo Zimmermann (1943)
Keith Lewis (1950)

and

Le Corbusier (1887-1965)
Caroline Gordon (1895-1981)

From the Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1600 that the opera Euridice was first performed, at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. It is the oldest surviving opera.

Euridice was performed for the wedding celebrations of Henry IV of France and Maria de' Medici. It was written by Jacopo Peri, a beloved composer and singer. He had already written Dafne a few years earlier, which is considered to be the first opera, but that music has been lost.

Euridice is a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which the gifted musician Orpheus falls in love with the beautiful Eurydice, but just after their wedding she is bitten by a snake and dies. Orpheus is heartbroken, and he journeys to the underworld, to Hades, to try to bring her back. He charms the king of the underworld, also named Hades, and his wife, Persephone, and they agree to return Eurydice to Orpheus on one condition: that he get all the way back to the upper world without looking back to see if Eurydice is following. He almost makes it, but right as he is walking out into the sunlight he turns back, and Eurydice is still in the underworld, so he loses her forever. Peri not only wrote the opera, but he sang the role of Orpheus. The climax of the opera came during "Funeste piagge," or "Funeral shores," when Orpheus begs Hades and Persephone to release his beloved.

Peri wrote a long preface to Euridice, in which he explained the new musical form he was working in, which we now call opera. He said that he was trying to write the way he imagined the Greeks would have, combing music and speech into the ultimate form of drama. One of the people who came to Florence to see Euridice was Vincenzo Gonzaga, the Duke of Mantua. And he probably brought his servant, Claudio Monteverdi. A few years later, in 1607, Monteverdi premiered his first opera, L'Orfeo, which was also a retelling of the legend of Orpheus. Monteverdi elevated the opera form to new heights, and L'Orfeo is considered the first truly great opera, with all of the dramatic orchestration and lyrics that are so central to the drama.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Jürgen Jürgens (1925-1994)
John Downey (1927-2004)
Iwan Edwards (1937)

and

Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
Flann O’Brien (1911-1966)
Václav Havel (1936)
Edward P. Jones (1950)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Frajola sings and plays at the same time!

Every year, the Oregon Symphony opens its first regular classical music concert with the national anthem, and I noticed at the opening concert on Saturday evening that associate concertmaster Peter Frajola was singing the national anthem and playing it at the same time! I took a quick look at other members of the orchestra, but I didn't see anyone else doing this (of course, wind and brass players cannot do this feat), and perhaps Frajola has been doing this for years. In any case, kudos to Frajola!

Today's Birthdays

Antoine Dauvergne (1713-1797)
Fanny Tacchinardi‑Persiani (1812-1867)
Mikolajus Čiurlionis (1875-1911)
Alain Daniélou (1907-1994)
Alain Lombard (1940)
Richard Wilson (1941)
John Aler (1949)
Fransico Araiza (1950)
Marc Minkowski (1962)
David Dzubay (1964)

and

Frederic Remington (1861-1909)
Damon Runyan (1880-1946)
Roy Blount Jr. (1941)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Today's Birthdays

Frantisek Tuma (1704-1774)
Henry Février (1875-1957)
Francis Jackson (1917)
Mary Jeanne van Appledorn (1927)
Michel Plasson (1933)
Phill Niblock (1933)
Peter Frankl (1935)
Ton Koopman (1944)
Jonathan Summers (1946)
Stig (1951)

and

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
Graham Greene (1904-1991)
Jan Morris (1926)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Today's Birthdays

J. Friedrich Eduard Sobolewski (1808-1872)
Paul Dukas (1865-1935)
Vladimir Horowitz (1904-1989)
Sylvano Bussotti (1931)

and

Tim O'Brien (1946)