Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Louise Farrenc (1804-1875)
Billy Mayerl (1902-1959)
Alfred Deller (1912-1979)
Akira Ifukube (1914-2006)
Shirley Verrett (1931)
Peter Yarrow (1938)
Bruce Adolphe (1955)
Marty Ehrlich (1955)


Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853)
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 31, 1921, emigre composer Edgard Varèse founded the International Composer's Guild in New York City to perform and promote music by contemporary composers.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Benny Goodman (1909-1986)
George London (1920-1985)
Gustav Leonhardt (1928)
Pauline Oliveros (1932)
Zoltan Kocsis (1952)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 30, 1923, 26-year-old composer and conductor Howard Hanson, who would later be one of the founders of the American Music Center, led the world premiere performance of his Nordic Symphony, the first of his seven symphonies and still one of his best-known works, in Rome during his residence as first holder of the American Rome Prize.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Oregon Symphony and Kalmar garner accolades from Ross in The New Yorker

Alex Ross, the classical music critic of the New Yorker magazine, has given the Oregon Symphony and its music director Carlos Kalmar the highest accolades for their performance in the Spring for Music Festival on May 12th. Ross's review appears in the June 6th edition of the magazine, and I've just read it online. Here are a couple of quotes:

"Such a realm seemed to materialize during a Spring for Music concert by the Oregon Symphony-the highlight of the festival and one of the most gripping events of the current season."

"Let's hope that future editions of Spring for Music-the festival will run at least through 2013-spread the news that North America posses dozens of excellent orchestras, and that on a good night any of them can outclass the so-called Big Five. The Oregonians proved the point by thoroughly upstaging the New York Philharmonic, which had played an unremarkable gala program at Carnegie a few nights earlier."

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Fanciulli (1853-1915)
Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)
Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)
Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001)
Helmuth Rilling (1933)
Michael Berkeley (1948)
Linda Esther Gray (1948)
Melissa Etheridge (1961)


G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
Oswald Spengler (1880-1936)
Steven Levitt (1967)


from the New Music Box:
On May 29, 1954, the Louisville Orchestra, under the direction of Robert S. Whitney, premiered the Eleventh Symphony of Henry Cowell. The seven-movement work, subtitled "Seven Rituals," was one of the most successful of Cowell's 21 symphonies.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kalmar receives high praise in Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun's classical music critic, Tim Smith, gives a glowing review of Carlos Kalmar in his recent appearance with the Baltimore Symphony. Guest soloist Karen Gomyo also received high marks for her performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

Also, just got wind of this very positive review in The Washington Post.

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Arne (1710-1788)
T-Bone Walker (1910-1975)
Nicola Rescigno (1916-2008)
György Ligeti (1923-2006)
John Culshaw (1924-1980)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925)
Richard Van Allan (1935)
Maki Ishii (1936-2003)
Elena Souliotis (1943-2004)
Levon Chilingirian (1948)


Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
Oswald Spengler (1880-1936)
Ian Flemming (1908-1964)
May Swenson (1913-1989)

and from the New Music Box:

On May 28, 1957, after several discussions, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. (NARAS) was born at a meeting at Hollywood's legendary Brown Derby Restaurant.

[NARAS sponsors the Grammys.]

Friday, May 27, 2011

Martin Hebert's oboe blog

Martin Hebert, principal oboist of the Oregon Symphony, has just started a blog called A Reed a Day, it concerns the vicissitudes of being an oboe player and the quest to make the perfect reed. Welcome to the blogsphere Martin!

Kalmar in Baltimore this week

Carlos Kalmar has seemed to conduct the Baltimore Symphony at least once every season for the past several seasons. This weekend he is conducting a concert that features violinist Karen Gomyo in the Sibelius Violin Concerto. Here's the program for this weekend's concert series:

Mahler (arr. Britten) - What the Wild Flowers Tell Me
Sibelius - Violin Concerto
Walton - Symphony No. 1

Today's Birthdays

Jacques Halévy (1799-1862)
Joseph Joachim Raff (1822-1882)
Claude Champagne (1891-1965)
Ernst Wallfisch (1920-1979)
Thea Musgrave (1928)
Donald Keats (1929)
Elizabeth Harwood (1938-1990)
James Wood (1953)


Wild Bill Hickok (1837-1876)
Isadora Duncan (1877-1927)
Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)
Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
John Cheever (1912-1982)
John Barth (1930)
Linda Pastan (1932)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 ASCAP Concert Music Awards

From the New Music Box: The 12th annual ASCAP Concert Music Awards took place on May 24, 2011 at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. Composer, conductor and radio host Bill McGlauchlin served as the host for the invitation-only event which recognized the achievements of ASCAP's 2011 Concert Music Honorees and showcased the winners of the 2011 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.

The 2011 honorees are:

- Zhou Long, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Music
- George Manahan, Music Director of New York City Opera and the American Composers Orchestra
- Le Poisson Rouge - David Handler and Justin Kantor, Co-Founders
- Music Publishers Association - Lauren Keiser, President
- Face The Music - Jennifer Undercofler, Founder, Artistic Director, and Conductor

Today's Birthdays

Al Jolson (1886-1950)
Eugene Goossens (1893-1962)
Vlado Perlemuter (1904-2002)
François‑Louis Deschamps (1919-2004)
Peggy Lee (1920-2002)
Joseph Horovitz (1926)
Miles Davis (1926)
Teresa Stratas (1938)
William Bolcom (1938)
Howard Goodall (1958)
Armando Bayolo (1973)


Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837)
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)
Alan Hollinghurst (1954)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 26, 1953, Aaron Copland appeared before the Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Thomas "Blind Tom" Bethune (1849 - 1908)
Miles Davis (1926-1991)
Beverly Sills (1929-2007)
Franco Bonisolli (1937-2003)


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)
Raymond Carver (1938-1988)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 25, 1977, the American half of the Gian Carlo Menotti's "Festival of Two Worlds"—Spoleto USA—opens in Charleston, South Carolina. The Spoleto Festival Brass Quintet played at the opening ceremonies at noon that day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Paul Paray (1886-1979)
Joan Hammond (1912-1986)
Hans‑Martin Linde (1930)
Maurice André (1933)
Bob Dylan (1941)
Konrad Boehmer (1941)
Fiona Kimm (1952)
Paul McCreesh (1960)


William Trevor (1928)
Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)
Declan Kiberd (1951)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 24, 1939, then 30-year-old composer Elliott Carter (b. 1908) had his first major performance of his music in New York. The work was the ballet Pocahontas composed in a populist style far different from the music for which Carter would later become internationally known and revered.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Andrea Luchesi (1741-1801)
Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Jean Françaix (1912-1997)
Alicia de Larrocha (1923)
Robert Moog (1934-2005)
Joel Feigin (1951)


Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Johann Schrammel (1850-1893)
Minna Keal (1909-1999)
Sun Ra (1914-1993)
George Tintner (1917-1999)
Humphrey Lyttleton (1921)
Claude Ballif (1924-2004)
John Browning (1933-2003)
Peter Nero (1934)


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
Peter Matthiessen (1927)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 21, 1893, in an lengthy article published in the New York Herald titled "Real Value of Negro Melodies," Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorak, during his three-year sojourn in the United States, prognosticated that the future of American music should be based on "negro melodies" and announced that the National Conservatory of Music, where he was serving as Director at the time, would be "thrown open free of charge to the negro race." It was to be the first of a total of seven articles in the Herald in which Dvorak espounded these ideas which provoked comments ranging from incredulity to denunciation by composers and performers around the world including Anton Bruckner, Anton Rubinstein and John Knowles Paine.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Joseph Parry (1841-1903)
Thomas "Fats" Waller (1904-1943)
Gina Bachauer (1913-1976)
Heinz Holliger (1939)
Rosalind Plowright (1949)
Linda Bouchard (1957)


Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989)
Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Hephzibah Menuhin (1920-1981)
George Hurst (1926)
Karl Anton Rikenbacher (1940)
Joe Cocker (1944)
Cher (1946)
Sue Knussen (1949-2003)
Jane Parker-Smith (1950)
Emma Johnson (1966)


Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

And from the New Music Box:
On May 20, 1846, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was performed in the United States for the very first time. That first performance, by the New York Philharmonic, set the stage for repertoire by deceased European composers overshadowing the music of living Americans, a condition that remains to this day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Nellie Melba (1859-1931)
Kerstin Thorborg (1896-1970)
Sandy Wilson (1924)
Pete Townshend (1945)
Stephen Varcoe (1949)


Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965)
Nora Ephron (1941)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Terrific piece on Mahler in the NY Times today

When Mahler took New York

Bach Cantata Choir to present final concert of 2010-11 Season with Bach, Zelenka

Here's a bit of info on the BCC's final concert:

The Bach Cantata Choir concludes the 2010-11 season with a free concert on Sunday, May 22nd at 2:00 pm. The concert will be held at Rose City Park Presbyterian Church, NE 44th and Sandy, Portland, Oregon. Ralph Nelson will conduct the 60-voice choir, soloists, and chamber orchestra in J.S. Bach’s Cantata #42, “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats”, Bach’s Motet #4 “Fürchte dich nicht”, Czech composer Jan Dismas Zelenka’s “Litaniae de Venerabile Sacramento” and a new work by choir member Elinor Friedberg, “O Magnum Mysterium”. For more information, visit http://www.blogger.com/www.bachcantatachoir.org or call 503-702-1973.

For an interview with Ralph Neslon see Oregon Music News.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Jakob Froberger (1616-1667)
Francesco Maria Piave (1810-1876)
Karl Goldmark (1830-1915)
Ezio Pinza (1892-1947)
Henri Sauguet (1901-1989)
Meredith Willson (1902-1984)
Sir Clifford Curzon (1907-1982)
Perry Como (1912-2001)
Boris Christoff (1914-1993)
Mikko Heiniö (1948)


Omar Khayyam (1048-1131)
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
Walter Gropius (1883-1969)
Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 18, 1981, the American Composers Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies premiered Joan Tower's very first composition conceived for symphony orchestra, Sequoia. Since then, Sequoia, has been performed by more than 40 orchestras around the world. The recording by Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony, which was part of the Meet The Composers Orchestra Residency Series CDs for Nonesuch Records, has recently been reissued on First Edition Music.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The importance of programming

I've just posted my review of the Montreal Symphony concert at Carnegie Hall on Oregon Music News. It points out how critical concert programming is, and upon further reflection, I think that Kalmar hit it right on the nail with the Oregon Symphony's program. Kent Nagano went a bit off the rails with the Montreal Symphony program, and it seemed that the two encores that his orchestra played were an attempt to make up for a concert that was supposed to feature the Montreal Symphony rather than fragments of the orchestra and a solo piano recital.

Today's Birthdays

Erik Satie (1866-1925)
Sandor Vegh (1905-1997)
Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005)
Dennis Brain (1921-1957)
Taj Mahal (1942)
Paul Crossley (1944)
Brian Rayner Cook (1945)
Bill Bruford (1949)
Ivor Bolton (1958)


Alfonso Reyes (1889-1959)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 17, 1846, Belgian-born instrument builder and clarinetist Adolphe Sax patents the saxophone, an instrument that would have a profound impact on American jazz. Over a century later, on May 17, 1957, a computer was used to make music for the first time.

and from the Writer's Almanac:
Beethoven’s famous Kreutzer Sonata was first performed on this day in 1803 at Augarten-Halle in Vienna, Austria. Beethoven had been asked to write a sonata by George Bridgetower, a handsome and ambitious half-West Indian violin virtuoso who wished to perform the piece with the great composer. But Beethoven hated writing custom pieces, and so he put off writing it until the last minute, leaving the pianoforte copy almost entirely blank. For the finale, a resentful Beethoven simply tacked on a finale from an earlier work.

But when Beethoven and Bridgetower began to play at the 8:00 a.m. concert, both performed beautifully, and Beethoven was so impressed with Bridgetower’s performance — Bridgetower improvising much of it — that he jumped up and hugged the violinist midway through the performance.

Later, however, Bridgetower and Beethoven quarreled (scholarly opinion differs on the nature of the argument — some say it was about a man they both knew, some say it was about Beethoven doing such a last-minute job on the original composition) and Beethoven angrily undedicated the sonata to Bridgetower and rededicated it to Rudolph Kreutzer, a prominent Parisian violinist who had recently traveled to Vienna. It is rumored that when Kreutzer first saw the composition, he proclaimed the part written for violin too difficult to play. He is believed to have never played the sonata that now carries his name.

What became of Bridgetower after the Augarten concert is lost to history.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Richard Tauber (1891-1948)
Ivan Vishnegradsy (1893-1979)
Jan Kiepura (1902-1966)
Woody Herman (1913-1987)
Liberace (1919-1987)
Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000)
Betty Carter (1930-1998)
Donald Martino (1931-2005)
Robert Fripp (1946)
Monica Huggett (1953)
Andrew Litton (1959)


Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866)
Louis "Studs" Terkel (1912-2008)
Adrienne Rich (1929)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 16, 1907, Miller Reese Hutchison filed an application at the U.S. Patent Office for his invention, the motor-driven Diaphragm Actuated Horn and Resonator, for use in automoblies. The patent was granted on May 3, 1910. The carhorn would later be used as a musical instrument by numerous composers ranging from George Gershwin in An American in Paris (1928) to Wendy Mae Chambers who developed a Car Horn Organ in 1983.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Michael William Balfe (1808-1870)
Lars-Erik Larsson (1908-1986)
Arthur Berger (1912-2003)
John Lanchbery (1923-2003)
Ted Perry (1931-2003)
Brian Eno (1948)


L. Frank Baum (1856-1919)
Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931)
Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)
Peter Shaffer (1926)
Jasper Johns (1930)

and from The New Music Box:
On May 15, 1972, the Concord Quartet premiered George Rochberg's String Quartet No. 3 at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Rochberg, an established serialist composer, shocked the compositional scene by returning to tonality in this composition. Many cite this premiere as the birth of neo-romanticism.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Otto Klemperer (1885-1973)
Sidney Bechet (1897-1959)
Lou Harrison (1917-2003)
Aloys Kontarsky (1931)
Peter Skellern (1947)
Maria de La Pau (1950)
Helen Field (1951)
David Byrne (1952)


Mary Morris (1947)

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Yorkers love the Oregon Symphony

Reveiws are starting come in:

Alex Ross of The New Yorker says that the OSO concert at Carnegie was "pretty extraordinary" here.

Allan Kozinn of the New York Times also gives the orchestra high marks here.

Today's Birthdays

Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)
Constantin Silverstri (1913-1969)
Gareth Morris (1920)
Jane Glover (1949)
Stevie Wonder (1950)
David Hill (1957)
Tasmin Little (1965)


Bruce Chatwin (1940–1989)
Kathleen Jamie (1962)

and from The New Music Box:
May 13th seems to be a good day for John Harbison. On May 13, 1987, Herbert Blomstedt conducted the San Francisco Symphony in world premiere performance of Harbison's Symphony No. 2. Then on May 13, 2001, Harbison's North and South received its world premiere in the Windy City by the Chicago Chamber Musicians.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Viotti (1755-1824)
Jules Massenet (1842-1912)
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989)
Burt Bacharach (1928)
Anthony Newman (1941)
Dalmacio Gonzalez (1945)
Doris Soffel (1948)


Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Alma Gluck (1884-1938)
Irving Berlin (1888-1939)
William Grant Still (1895-1978)
Robert Johnson (1911-1938)
Ross Pople (1945)
Judith Weir (1954)
Cecile Licad (1961)


Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Francisco "Paco" Umbral (1932-2007)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

CD Review: Hideki Yamaya, 'The Mandolino in 18th- Century Italy'

Portland-based plucked strings expert Hideki Yamaya recently released a CD entitled The Mandolino in 18th-Century Italy, performing with lutenist John Schneiderman. The recording is of the Dalla Casa Manuscript, a mid-18th century compilation of mandolino music by amateur musician Filippo Dalla Casa.

The mandolino in this recording is very different from the modern mandolin; it is small and downright dainty, strung with nylon strings and plucked with fingers instead of a plectrum. The instrument has a delicate tone--the upper registers can be tinny and affect the pitch, which is off-putting at first but actually grows endearing as the music plays on, and the unique timbre becomes a joy to hear.

A peppery, virtuosic little sonata by Antonio Tinazzoli (1650-1730) opens the CD, barrelling forward in one whirlwind movement, showcasing the range of the instrument. The rest of the CD is very much in the galante style, with sonatas/concertos by Giuseppe Vaccari and Ludovico Fontanelli (1682-1748). Yamaya’s accurate and judicious ornamentation can’t be easy to effect on this feathery instrument. The compositions themselves are delightful, warm and fetching; Yamaya’s enthusiasm for playing these gems is obvious and infectious. His own variations on the menuet themes by an anonymous composer are virtuosic, and in one of these variations the mandolin switches to accompaniment and the lute takes the solo; other than that the lute is continuo throughout. The final Giga of the closing Vaccari concerto is particularly enjoyable, featuring surprising, modern-feeling syncopations.

This release is authentic and satisfying; samples of the work can be found here.

Travelling to the Big Apple

I will be travelling to New York City tomorrow evening to hear the Oregon Symphony make its historic debut in Carnegie Halll. I'll be at the Met on Friday evening to hear Ariadne auf Naxos (PSU's Audrey E. Luna is one of the principals in the show and is receiving stellar reviews), and I'll attend the Montreal Symphony concert at Carnegie on Saturday evening. I'll post my reviews of each event on Oregon Music News.

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Marie Leclair (1697-1764)
Max Steiner (1888-1971)
Dmitri Tiokin (1894-1979)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Richard Lewis (1914-1990)
Milton Babbit (1916-2011)
Maxim Shostakovich (1938)
Lori Dobbins (1958)


Karl Barth (1886-1968)

and from The New Music Box:
On May 10, 1987, David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe produced the first-ever Bang on a Can Marathon, a twelve-hour concert at the SoHo gallery Exit Art combining music by Milton Babbitt, Steve Reich, John Cage, George Crumb, Lois V Vierk, Lee Hyla, Aaron Kernis, Phill Niblock and others.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)
Carlo Maria Giulini (1914-2005)
Nigel Douglas (1929)
Billy Joel (1949)
Michel Beroff (1950)
Joy Harjo (1951)
Linda Finnie (1952)
Anne Sofie von Otter (1955)
Alison Hagley (1961)


James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937)
Alan Bennett (1934)
Charles Simic (1938)

and from The New Music Box:
On May 9, 1967, avant-garde cellist Charlotte Moorman gets a suspended sentence from a criminal court judge in New York City for appearing topless during a performance of Nam June Paik's Opera Sextronique on February 9, 1967.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chanters of St. Panteleimon transport Cappella Romana Audience

Cappella Romana welcomed some very special guests to St. Mary's Cathedral on the evening of Saturday, May 7th. Hailing from the Church of St. Panteleimon in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, the four men who sang for the gathered crowd demonstrated unique and advanced styles and techniques that must surely be of the utmost rarity in this part of the world.

The first half of the program consisted of sacred works. They took the stage dressed in simple white robes with red trim, and began with Shen khar venakhi (You are a vineyard), a hymn to the Theotokos that was breathtaking in its hushed reverence. It began with the most delicate intonation imaginable, barely heard yet incredibly powerful. A pure, almost boy-soprano tone floated gently above ethereal drones that continued quietly after each cadence, sustaining the forward momentum as the chant paused. A different setting of the text followed later, radically different with startling, almost modern sounding harmonies.

A number of chants filled the first half. An interesting technique was the crescendi, so gradual and subtle that they were scarcely perceived at first and took time to manifest themselves to the listener. Many of the vowels were sung through lips all but closed, and the aura was one of breathless mystery--everything was a masterful economy of diction, breath and phrasing.

The hymn K'riste aghdga (Christ is risen) exploded like dynamite from the curtain of stillness that had been drawn over the cathedral since the first notes were intoned. Using a throaty technique more akin to the style found in Georgian folk song, the chanters filled St. Mary's with deep, reverberating power. The final sacred selection, Up'alo ieso (The Jesus Prayer) featured the tenor rising above the consonant, halo-like drone chords in the most plaintive supplication, crying for mercy across years uncounted and miles unnumbered. (Click the link to hear this work at Cappella Romana's website.)

The folk selections of the second half were electrifying. The switch to bold black riding attire, replete with high leather boots, long kilts and bejeweled short swords at the belt of every man, left no doubt that the second half would be very different from the first. For all the restrained, contemplative quietude of the first half, the second was full of boisterous, raw energy.

The singers routinely shifted positions as they moved in and out of bass and treble roles. The myriad of styles and techniques was astonishing; even within the space of one song the variation of structures and motives left one never sure what was to come next. From funereal chants to wild, ululating yodels, exotic counterpoint and complex ornamentation, restrained shouting, clapping and accompaniment by a three-stringed folk instrument that looked like a diamond-shaped balalaika, the songs told stories of hunting and courting, bravery and death, love, weddings and even wrestling.

Daigvianes was a story about a knight "hiding among sheep, and in deliberation" according to the program. About what he is contemplating we are never sure (unless one speaks Georgian I suppose) but that knowledge could not have increased the joy in listening to this song. In this lengthy work the deft tenor told a sad tale above a bed of sound that never once ceased, with the three drones all alternating breathing so the tone never faded and a slow, barely perceptible pulse animated the drone.

Listening to songs like these that bare the soul of peoples and cultures from faraway lands is a rare treasure. The ability of Cappella Romana to bring such distinct, master stylists all the way across the world is to be lauded, and as such CR's contribution to live performances of both early music and world music in Portland cannot be overstated.

Today's Birthdays

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869)
Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981)
Heather Harper (1930)
Carlo Cossutta (1932-2000)
Keith Jarrett (1945)
Felicity Lott (1947)


Edmund Wilson (1895-1972)
Gary Snyder (1930)
Thomas Pynchon (1937)
Roddy Doyle (1958)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Carl Heinrich Graun (1704-1759)
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Piotr Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Edmond Appia (1894-1961)
Elisabeth Soderstrom (1927)
Philip Land (1950)
Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981)
Robert Spano (1961)


Robert Browning (1812-1889)
Archibald MacLeish (1892-1962)
Angela Carter (1940-1992)
Peter Carey (1943)

and from The New Music Box:
On May 7, 1946, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering is founded with about 20 employees. The company, later renamed Sony, would eventually invent the home video tape recorder, the Walkman and the Discman, as well as take-over Columbia Records, later CBS Records, who under the leadership of composer Goodard Lieberson (1956-1973) released numerous recordings of music by American composers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

CD Review: 'Brooklyn Rider Plays Philip Glass'

The innovative and exciting NYC string quartet Brooklyn Rider has a new CD from In a Circle Records in which the group records Philip Glass's entire string quartet oeuvre, which is the 5 numbered quartets plus the world premier recording of the Suite from "Bent" for String Quartet.

Brooklyn Rider, whose CD Dominant Curve was included in the Washington Post's list of top ten classical albums from 2010, was the right choice to premiere this important work. Bent, winner of the 1997 Cannes 'International Critics Award' tells the story of doomed relationships between gay men in Nazi Germany. The first of its 8 movements opens with a plaintive cello melody wending its way through a forest of suppurating strings, and one can feel the danger, the flight, the violence of the film. There are rays of hope in this work, however slim they may be. Brooklyn Rider understands how to perform this music from an intuitive, gut-level standpoint; one misplaced accent, one slightly shifted emphasis and the meaning of the whole structure is lost; the repetitive nature of Glass's motives both vertically and horizontally amplifies the importance of each little change, and without attention to every minute detail both technically and emotionally there will be nothing left. From the terrifying cello chords exploding from the smooth texture in the fourth movement to the forlorn wailing of the solo viola which is the only instrument heard in the final movement, the power of the composition shines through.

Some of the other quartets also come from film scores, including #3 which came from the 1983 film Mishima about the life of the quixotic Japanese author who committed seppuku in the early 70s. Very different in character from the Bent, there is less of the ceaseless in and out arpeggiation and more homophonic movement and stark chordal textures. String Quartet #1 was composed in 1966 but not first recorded until more than 20 years later. It is more experimental: its atonal warbling that at times veers toward a pizzicato almost completely lacking in pitch requires very different techniques of the group, and they render the ceaseless pulse with painful exactitude.

There is wondrous variety to be found in this release, each quartet with its own unique character, and Brooklyn Rider has the relentless energy required to sustain interest in the somber, often haunting sound world through which Glass's compositions wander. This release represents another big win from an unconventional and visionary group, and is an important contribution to both string quartet and Philip Glass discography.

Today's Birthdays

Jascha Horenstein (1898-1973)
Godfrey Ridout (1918-1984)
Murry Sidlin (1940)
Ghena Dimitrova (1941-2005)
Nathalie Stutzmann (1965)


Robert Peary (1856-1920)
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Gaston Leroux (1868-1927)
Randall Jarrell (1914-1965)

And from The New Music Box:
At the second of the Copland-Sessions Concerts of Contemporary Music, which was held at the Edyth Totten Theater in New York City on May 6, 1928, pianist John Duke premiered the first three movements of Roger Sessions' First Piano Sonata. Although the program announced a fourth movement, it was not finished in time for the concert. Also on the program were premieres of works by Copland (Two Pieces for String Quartet), Quincy Porter (Piano Quintet), Robert Delaney (Sonata for Violin and Piano) as well as solo piano pieces by Aldoph Weiss, Dane Rudhyar and Ruth Crawford.

In his review of the concert for the Boston Evening Transcript (published on May 11, 1928), Nicolas Slonimsky praised Copland as a "poet" who "works wonders" and Sessions as "a persistent and scholarly searcher for a new style" and one its "chief masons." But he called Rudhyar's music "a Naught to the Nth power." He was somewhat critical about Crawford as well but conceded that "there may be a chance for her in the future." Slonimsky also pointed out that the concert was nearly sold-out, claiming it proof that "there are several hundred persons actively interested in modern music."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gregory Vajda to be the new MD of the Huntsville Symphony

The Huntsville Symphony has announced the about of Gregory Vajda as its music director and conductor. Oregonians know Vajda as the outstanding resident conductor of the Oregon Symphony. It was only a matter of time before he would find a music director's position. I wrote a small piece about this appointment in Oregon Music News, and I'll have to do another interview with him in the near future.

Today's Birthdays

Hans Pfizner (1869-1947)
Maria Caniglia (1905-1979)
Kurt Böhme (1908-1989)
Charles Rosen (1927)
Mark Ermler (1932)
Tammy Wynette (1942-1998)
Bunita Marcus (1952)
Cédric Tiberghien (1975)


Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Nellie Bly (1864-1922)
James Beard (1903-1985)
Kaye Gibbons (1960)

From the New Music Box:
On May 5, 1891, Walter Damrosch led the New York Philharmonic in the very first concert in the large auditorium at Carnegie Hall, now called Stern Auditorium. The program consisted entirely of European repertoire: Beethoven’s "Leonore Overture No. 3," Berlioz’s "Te Deum," Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky "Festival Coronation March" (with the composer making a guest appearance on the podium), the hymn "The Old One Hundred" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee" (then America's unofficial national anthem although the tune is that of the British anthem "God Save The Queen").

This was not actually the first concert in the building, however. On April 1, Liszt-pupil Franz Rummel had already given an all-European solo piano recital in the space that now holds Zankel Hall. The oldest known program for the third of Carnegie's stages, what is now called Weill Recital Hall, a chamber music concert produced by the Society for Ethical Culture, dates back to October 31, 1891 and included the song "At Twilight" by the American composer Ethelbert Nevin.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731)
Mátyás Seiber (1905-1960)
Tatiana Nikolayeva (1924-1993)
Roberta Peters (1930)
Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (1931)
Marisa Robles (1937)
Enrique Batiz (1942)
Peter Ware (1951)


Horace Mann (1796-1859)
Frederick Church (1826-1900)
Graham Swift (1949)
David Guterson (1956)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Alessandro Stradella (1639-1682)
Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844-1901)
Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Bing Crosby (1903-1977)
Sir William Glock (1908-2000)
Léopold Simoneau (1916-2006)
Pete Seeger (1919)
James Brown (1933-2006)
Jonathan Harvey (1939)


Niccol Machiavelli (1469-1527)
Jacob Riis (1849-1914)
May Sarton (1912-1995)
William Inge (1913-1973)

From the New Music Box:
On May 3, 1943, William Schumann received the very first Pulitzer Prize for Music for his Secular Cantata No. 2 - A Free Song, a work published by G. Schirmer and premiered by the Harvard Glee Club, the Radcliffe Choral Society, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Serge Koussevitzky on March 26, 1943. (Despite this accolade, to date, there has never been a commercial recording of this composition.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Jean‑Baptiste Barrière (1707-1747)
Lorenz Hart (1894-1943)
Alan Rawstorned (1905-1971)
Jean‑Marie Auberson (1920-2004)
Arnold Black (1923-2000)
Philippe Herreweghe (1947)
Valery Gergiev (1953)
Elliot Goldenthal (1954)


Jerome K Jerome (1859-1927)

From the New Music Box:
On May 2, 1984, Sunday in the Park With George, a musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine starring Many Patinkin as the painter Georges Seurat and Bernadette Peters as his mistress Dot, opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre. The work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama the following year.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Sophia Dussek (1775-1831)
Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960)
Leo Sowerby (1895-1968)
Walter Susskind (1913-1980)
Gary Bertini (1927-2005)
Judy Collins (1939)


Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)
Joseph Heller (1923-1999)

And from the Writer's Almanac:
It was on this day in 1786 that Mozart's first great opera, The Marriage of Figaro, premiered in Vienna. It was based on a French play, and it tells the story of a single day in the palace of Count Almaviva. The count spends the day attempting to seduce Susanna, the young fiancée of the court valet, Figaro. Susanna and the Countess conspire to embarrass the count and expose his infidelity.

It was a light-hearted, comic opera, but the musicians and singers could hardly believe the quality of the music. One singer, an Irish tenor named Michael Kelly, later wrote: "I can still see Mozart, dressed in his red fur hat trimmed with gold, standing on the stage with the orchestra at the first rehearsal, beating time for the music. ... The players on the stage and in the orchestra were electrified. ... Had Mozart written nothing but this piece of music it alone would ... have stamped him as the greatest master of his art."