Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Portland Piano International announces new contemporary music festival

From the press release:

Portland Piano International Announces New Festival called The Clearing at Portland State University, Nov 10-13, 2016

(Portland, OR)  Portland Piano International is proud to announce a new contemporary piano festival: The Clearing. The festival was created to engage music lovers, musicians, and students in the world of contemporary music for piano. The Clearing takes place November 10-13, 2016 in Lincoln Recital Hall (Room 75) on the campus of Portland State University.

Curated by Tamara Stefanovich and hosted by Artistic Director Arnaldo Cohen, The Clearing will feature recitals, master classes, films, demonstrations and panel discussions. The theme for this first festival is “Miniatures and Etudes,” allowing audience members to experience a large number of short works over the four evenings and three days. The festival begins on Thursday night with an opening performance. Three full days follow, each ending with a performance of short works, following by discussion with the artists.

“The aim of The Clearing is to provide a space where music is presented in an open environment that takes away fear and allows listeners to find fantasy,” said Ms. Stefanovich. “The audience and performers will share in the music, taking away barriers and finding music that is ours.” Ms. Stefanovich explained that she and Mr. Cohen founded the festival in an effort to provide “a helping hand in walking through new musical territories. We welcome everyone to take a new road with us!”

There are several ticket options available:
All Access                  $150    All performances and sessions during The Clearing
Day Pass                   $  55    All day sessions and the evening performance on
            Friday, Saturday or Sunday
Individual Recital       $  25

Funding for The Clearing is provided by a generous grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust. All tickets are available now at portlandpiano.org. Lincoln Hall is located at 1620 SW Park Avenue in Portland OR 97201.

Today's Birthdays

Amicare Ponchielli (1834-1886)
Alma Mahler (1879-1964)
Ifor James (1931-2004)
Wieland Kuijken (1938)
Itzak Perlman (1945)
Daniel Harding (1975)

and

Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
William Shawn (1907-1992)
William Saroyan (1908-1981)
Alan Jay Lerner (1918-1986)

Memorable quote from William Shawn: "Falling short of perfection is a process that just never stops."

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Ernesto Cavallini (1807-1874)
George Frederick Root (1820-1895)
Buddy Rich (1917-1987)
Regina Resnik (1922-2013)
David Schiff (1945)
Simon Bainbridge (1952)
Dimitris Sgouros (1969)

and

Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825)
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851)
Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)
R Crumb (1943)
Molly Ivins (1944-2007)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Helge Rosvaenge (1897-1972)
Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)
Charlie Parker (1920-1955)
Norman Platt (1920-2004)
Gilbert Amy (1936)
Anne Collins (1943-2009)
Lucia Valentini Terrani (1946-1998)
Michael Jackson (1958-2009)
Kevin Walczyk (1964)

and

John Locke (1632-1704)
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809-1894)
Karen Hesse (1952)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Umberto Giordano (1867-1948)
Alfred Baldwin Sloane (1872-1925)
Ivor Burney (1890-1937)
Karl Böhm (1894-1981)
Paul Henry Lang (1901-1991)
Richard Tucker (1913-1975)
John Shirley-Quirk (1931-2014)
Imogen Cooper (1949)

and

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
John Betjeman (1906-1984)
Rita Dove (1952)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
Eric Coates (1886-1957)
Lester Young (1909-1959)
Ann Murray (1949)
Sian Edwards (1959)

and

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)
Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945)
C. S. Forester (1899-1966)
Ira Levin (1929-2007)
William Least Heat-Moon (1939)

Friday, August 26, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Willem de Fesch (1687-1761)
Arthur Loesser (1894-1969)
Wolfgang Sawallisch (1923-2013)
Nicholas Braithwaite (1939)
Sally Beamish (1956)
Branford Marsalis (1960)

and

Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)
Lee de Forest (1873-1961)
Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
Julio Cortázar (1914-1984)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Radiant singing brings William Byrd Festival to a close

“Hot weather doth not deter a fine choir nor doth it deter a large and devoted audience.” That was one of the main takeaways from the performance of Cantores in Ecclesia on August 20th at The Church of Saint Patrick for the final concert of the William Byrd Festival. The outdoor temperature had reached over 100 degrees that afternoon, and the sanctuary was toasty warm – defying the efforts of a couple of large floor fans to make the confines cooler. So it was no surprise when the men of the choir took their positions without their tuxedo jackets, but it was a bit of odd to see conductor Mark Williams bounce up in front of them in full regalia. Well, he is British, after all, so he is as cool as a cucumber.

And, believe it or not, Williams directed the concert with élan. With an array of gestures that included pointing index fingers, arcing arm movements, quick cutoffs, and fluttering hands, Williams coaxed a gorgeous sound from the 30-voice ensemble, which responded with a superb performance of works by William Byrd, Richard Dering, Thomas Weelkes, Thomas Tomkins, and Orlando Gibbons. Williams also gave the choir a break by playing two pieces on the positiv organ, a nifty mobile pipe organ built by Portland’s own Bond Pipe Organs.

The concert began with a robust rendition of Byrd’s “Sing joyfully.” The choir excelled with excellent diction, blend, and exciting dynamic surges that mirrored the words perfectly, such as the sudden crescendo with the words “sing loud” and “blow the trumpet.” The choir then pivoted expertly to the next piece, using no vibrato and perfectly matched vowels to sing Byrd’s “Domine, secundum actum meum” with its penitential and solemn text (“Lord, do not judge me according to my deeds”).

Showing his superb talent at the keyboard, Williams made Byrd’s “Fantasia in C major” flutter like a bird. His nimble fingers deftly played the many tricky and swift ornamentations, gracing the audience with a sonic smile. That piece was followed by the “Factum est silentium” of Dering, which related St. Michael’s battle with a dragon from the book of Revelation. The choristers delivered a smashingly dramatic account of Dering’s music, and the multilayered “Alleluia” at the end was heavenly.

Byrd’s “Haec dicit Dominus” (“Thus says the Lord”) conveyed a soothing message from the book of Jeremiah in which God promised to bring the Israelites back to their homeland. The singers traversed the shifting tonalities of that piece with ease, and concluded the first half of the program with a rousing “Hosanna to the Son of David” by Weelkes.

The second half of the program brought more of the same high quality singing, starting with three pieces by Byrd. His “Exsurge, quare obdormis” was a lively setting of a passage from Psalm 44 where suffering people accuse God of sleeping and forgetting about them. Next came “Aspice Domine” (“Look down, Lord”) with its soaring lines for the sopranos and finally “Defecit in dolore vita mea” (“My life has wasted away in pain”), which was sung by the altos, tenors, and basses.

Williams turned to the positive organ to perform Gibbons “Fantasia in A minor,” which, though more subdued than Byrd’s fantasia, was lovely. Afterwards, the choir sang a joyous “O Lord, arise,” which Weelkes based on two Psalms of praise. The mood then went in the opposite direction with Tomkins’s “When David heard,” an anguish-ridden retelling of David’s lamentations over the death of his son Absalom (from 2 Samuel). The concert finished on an upbeat note with an energetic “O clap your hands” by Gibbons.

Today's Birthdays

Robert Stolz (1880-1975)
Stefan Wolpe (1902-1972)
Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990)
José Van Dam (1940)
Keith Tippett (1947)
Elvis Costello (1954)

and

Brian Moore (1921-1999)
Charles Wright (1935)
Martin Amis (1949)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Oregon Symphony balances budget for 7th year in a row

From the press release:

OREGON SYMPHONY CONTINUES WINNING STREAK
WITH ANOTHER STRONG SEASON
 
The 2015/16 season, with its wide-ranging musical offerings and energized community engagement efforts, sets more new records.

 
(PORTLAND, Ore.) –  President Scott Showalter announced today the results of the 2015/16 season, his second as the Symphony President. In addition to exceeding its revenue goals, the Oregon Symphony set a number of new records, including total season subscription revenue, total classical ticket revenue, percentage of first-time ticket buyers, the highest grossing single concert, and the amount raised at the annual gala. Consequently, the Symphony balanced its budget for the seventh consecutive season.
 
The 2015/16 season, propelled by strong performances from the orchestra, continued the Symphony’s embrace of a broad musical spectrum, with 82 performances of 50 concert programs—ranging from internationally renowned classical performers like Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, and Lang Lang, to Special Concerts and Presentations featuring Patti LaBelle, Melissa Etheridge, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Lily Tomlin. The season also saw the debut of the “Popcorn Package,” a new series which included live-to-picture performances of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Home Alone, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Back to the Future
 
Artistic highlights included:
 
·         The third Grammy nomination in the last four years, with the 2016 nomination of Spirit of the American Range for the Best Orchestral Performance.
·         The first year of percussionist Colin Currie’s three-year appointment as the Symphony’s Artist in Residence.
·         A widely praised five-part broadcast series on All Classical Portland.
 
The season drew historic ticket revenue:
 
·         Season subscription revenue up 7%.
·         20% of tickets purchased by patrons joining the Symphony for the first time.
·         22% of the season’s performances were sold out.
·         Classical subscription revenue up 5%.
 
It also saw strong performances for contributed revenue:
 
·         Contributed revenue of $8.3 million.
·         The annual gala raised $870,000, a 24% increase over last year’s record.
·         $1.87 million in contributions from the Oregon Symphony Association and Foundation Boards.
·         Support from over 25 foundations and 36 corporations, including the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Collins Foundation, the Brookby Foundation, the Oregon Community Foundation, Umpqua Bank, Jay and Diane Zidell Charitable Foundation, and Wells Fargo Foundation.
·         Receipt of $513,972 from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, which included funding from the Arts Education and Access Fund as well as ongoing operational support.
 
The Oregon Symphony continued to expand its education and community engagement efforts, with innovative programs like those in the David Douglas and Gladstone School Districts, Newberg’s Chehalem Cultural Center, St. Mary’s Home for Boys, Mary’s Woods, and Coffee Creek Correctional Facility.
 
In addition, the Symphony and its musicians performed and taught in a variety of places and venues throughout the community:
 
·         An expanded Waterfront Concert drew 18,000 attendees, with performances by Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, BRAVO Youth Orchestra, Hillsboro School District Mariachi Una Voz, Irish fiddler Kevin Burke, and Portland Taiko.
·         Months of teaching in various area schools that culminated in a “Link Up” concert with Carnegie Hall—with 2,700 Portland elementary students performing and singing alongside the Oregon Symphony in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
·         A full orchestra concert, featuring the film music of John Williams, at Rosa Parks Elementary School included a side-by-side performance with the young BRAVO Youth Orchestra for the second season in a row.
·         2,700 students in all nine grade schools within the David Douglas School District prepared for and performed with the Oregon Symphony in the concert hall as part of the Oregon Community Foundation-funded “Studio to Schools” program.
·         Through this same OCF grant, 23 Alice Ott Middle School string students received weekly private lessons by Oregon Symphony teaching artists to boost skills and encourage continued participation in the school orchestra.
·         36 Kinderkonzerts in three host schools were attended by 10,000 grade K-2 students.
·         Four Young People’s Concerts were performed at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for 7,000 students. 60 classroom visits were made to prepare students for these concerts.
·         Over 1,000 pre-schoolers enjoyed 14 Symphony Storytimes at five public libraries.
·         Five Oregon Symphony ensembles performed at St. Mary’s Home for Boys and the Coffee Creek Women’s Correctional Facility, and at many other community venues.
·         Five visiting soloists, including Joshua Bell, Pablo Villegas, and Simone Lamsma visited students in a variety of schools.
·         In a new collaboration with Earthtones Music Therapy services, Marylhurst University, and the Alzheimer’s Association of Oregon, 150 residents and caregivers at Mary’s Woods Continuing Care Retirement Center in Lake Oswego participated in a pilot series   of eight weekly music therapy-informed sessions of “musicNOW,” designed to use music to enrich the social and emotional well-being of those with age-related cognitive loss.
 
“We are all immensely proud to have added the power of music to so many lives throughout this great community of ours,” Showalter said. “And we are deeply grateful for the support the entire community has shown the Oregon Symphony.”
 
The Symphony signals the opening of Portland’s music season at the September 1 Waterfront Concert, the largest free concert in the state. The 2016/17 Oregon Symphony season—its 120th Anniversary Season—officially opens on September 10, when the renowned Renée Fleming returns.

Today's Birthdays

Alessandro Marcello (1669-1747)
Théodore Dubois (1837-1924)
Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)
Carlo Curley (1952)

and

Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Max Beerbohm (1872-1956)
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
Oscar Hijuelos (1951-2013)
John Green (1977)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1456 that the first edition of the Gutenberg Bible was bound and completed in Mainz, Germany. The Gutenberg Bible was the first complete book printed with movable type. The press produced 180 copies of the Bible. Books had been printed on presses before, in China and Korea, with wood and bronze type; but Gutenberg used metal type, and made a press that could print many versions of the same text quickly. His contributions to printing were huge: he created an oil-based printing ink, he figured out how to cast individual pieces of type in metal so that they could be reused, and he designed a functioning printing press. But others before him had come up with similar ideas. Probably the most important thing that Gutenberg did was to develop the entire process of printing — he streamlined a system for assembling the type into a full book and then folding the pages into folios, which were then bound into an entire volume — and to do it all quickly. The techniques that Gutenberg refined were used for hundreds of years, and the publication of the Gutenberg Bible marked a turning point in the availability of knowledge to regular people.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925)
Ernst Krenek (1900-1991)
William Primrose (1903-1982)
Constant Lambert (1905-1951)
Carl Dolmetsch (1911-1977)
Mark Russell (1932)
Brad Mehldau (1970)

and

William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)
Edgar Lee Masters (1869-1950)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
John Lee Hooker (1917-2001)
Ivry Gitlis (1922)
Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007)
Tori Amos (1963)

and

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)
Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)
Annie Proulx (1935)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Classsical music fall arts article in The Oregonian

I have written a classic music article for The Oregonian's fall arts guide, and it is available in the online section of the paper. I think it will appear in print next week. I hope that you enjoy reading it. There is a typo (Steven Reich instead of Steve Reich) that I hope will be fixed pronto pronto.
----
Update: The typo has been corrected. Yay! (8/22/16)

Today's Birthdays

Lili Boulanger (1893-1918)
Count (William) Basie (1904-1984)
Tommy Reilly (1919-2000)
Gregg Smith (1931-2016)
Dame Janet Baker (1933)

and

X. J. Kennedy (1929)
Robert Stone (1937-2015)
Ellen Hinsey (1960)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Jacopo Peri (1561-1633)
Mario Bernardi (1930-2013)
Dame Anne Evans (1941)
Maxim Vengerov (1974)

and

Eliel Saarinen (1873-1950)
Paul Tillich (1886-1965)
H. P. Lovecraft (1890-1937)
Eero Saarinen (1910-1961)
Jacqueline Susann(1918-1974)
Heather McHugh (1948)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Georges Enescu (1881-1955)
Allan Monk (1942)
Gerard Schwarz (1947)
Rebecca Evans (1963)

and

Samuel Richardson (1689-1761)
Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
Frank McCourt (1930-2009)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Antonio Salieri (1750-1825)
Benjamin Godard (1849-1895)
Basil Cameron (1884-1975)
Ernest MacMillan (1893-1973)
Dame Moura Lympany (1916-2005)
Goff Richards (1944)
Tan Dun (1957)

and

Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809)
Margaret Murie (1902 -2003)
Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922-2008)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

Today is the birthday of Italian-born Viennese composer Antonio Salieri, born in Legnago, in the Republic of Venice (1750). Although he was quite popular in the 18th century, he probably wouldn't be well known today were it not for the movie Amadeus (1984). The movie was based on Peter Shaffer's play by the same name (1979), which was in turn based on a short play by Aleksandr Pushkin, which was called Mozart and Salieri (1830). These stories all present Salieri as a mediocre and uninspired composer who was jealous of Mozart's musical genius; Salieri tried to discredit Mozart at every turn, and some versions of the story even accuse him of poisoning his rival.

But Salieri was a talented and successful composer, writing the scores for several popular operas. He had a happy home life with his wife and eight children. And because he had received free voice and composition lessons from a generous mentor as a young man, he also gave most of his students the benefit of free instruction. Some of his pupils included Beethoven, Franz Liszt, and Franz Schubert. He was the Kapellmeister — the person in charge of music — for the Austrian emperor for 36 years. He and Mozart were competitors, but their rivalry was usually a friendly one; Salieri visited Mozart when he was dying, and was one of the few people to attend his funeral.

After the turn of the 19th century, Salieri's music began to fall out of fashion. "I realized that musical taste was gradually changing in a manner completely contrary to that of my own times," he wrote. "Eccentricity and confusion of genres replaced reasoned and masterful simplicity." He stopped composing operas and began to produce more and more religious pieces. He suffered from dementia late in his life and died in 1825. He had composed his own requiem 20 years earlier, and it was performed for the first time at his funeral.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Count Ory’s funny and wicked adventures create summer splash at Seattle Opera

Rodion Pogossov (Raimbaud), Lawrence Brownlee (Count Ory) and members of the Seattle Opera Chorus | Photo by Philip Newton
Seattle Opera’s “The Wicked Adventures of Count Ory” delivered Rossini’s comic opera with a buoyantly whimsical production on Saturday, August 6th at McCaw Hall. Australian designer Dan Potra put a refreshing spin on the medieval story by placing it in the 1970s or 80s with the characters running around a fantastically vivid landscape in hippy-dippy costumes. That helped the opening night audience to roll with laughter as the cross-dressing Count Ory was foiled in his attempts to get into bed with the beautiful Countess Adéle.

Sarah Coburn (Countess Adèle) | Photo by Philip Newton
“The Wicked Adventures of Count Ory” is a slyly updated title to the original “Le Comte Ory,” but it is an accurate one because Ory’s single objective is to bed the beautiful Countess of Formoutiers (Countess Adéle). Set in Middle Ages, the men of Formoutiers are gone on the Crusades, and the women have taken a vow of chastity. To gain entrance to the castle and woo the Countess, Ory disguises himself as a religious hermit who specializes in the affairs of the heart. Just when Ory is on the verge of success, his page, Isolier, and his tutor reveal his true identity. Ory resolves to try again, and in the second half of the opera, he and his men take on the garb of nuns who are in need of shelter because of a violent storm. Ory’s plans go awry when his men become drunk after discovering the wine cellar. Under the cover of darkness, Ory makes his way to Adéle’s bedroom, but she has hides behind Isolier and Ory unwittingly mistakes his page for the Countess. All goes for naught as trumpets announce the return of the Crusaders, and Ory and his men hastily vacate the castle tower. 
Lawrence Brownlee as Count Ory | Photo by Jacob Lucas

Part of the comic charm of the opera is the twist in gender roles. In the first act, Adéle feels attracted to the page, Isolier, which is a pants role sung by a mezzo-soprano. Things get crazier in the second act when Ory dresses as a woman (Sister Colette) to pursue the Countess, but he mistakes Isolier for her.
Sarah Coburn (Countess Adèle) and Lawrence Brownlee (Count Ory) | Photo by Philip Newton
In Seattle’s production Ory’s hermit disguise looked like a reincarnation of the Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh, and the women of the village wore hippie outfits while fawning over him. In the second half, Ory and his men wore outlandish getups that were sort of a cross between Liberace and Paul Revere and the Raiders before changing into their nunnery clothing.
Patrick Carfizzi (The Tutor) and Hanna Hipp (Isolier) | Photo by Philip Newton
Set designs by Dan Potra worked better in the first half of the opera than the second. A bright florescent green carpet covered the stage, gracing a hillside and a tower in the distance. Cutout likenesses of Countess Adéle and Ragonde descended the tower caused chuckles. A tree with branches that resembled a hand and glowing berries at the finger tips was a fanciful creation. The second half of the opera revealed three stories of the tower, but the restrictive space of the second level severely restricted the movement of the women, which hampered the stage directions of Australian Lindy Hume. One of her best devices was to have the townspeople enter from the aisles on the main floor, and that duplicated in the second half by Count Ory’s men.

In the title role, Lawrence Brownlee hit all of the high notes and then some with breathtaking ease and elicited laughter as the lascivious yet slightly inept womanizer. Sarah Coburn sang brilliantly and generated barrels of laughter when she shook like a leaf while being enthralled by Ory’s Bhagwan-hermit. After intermission, Colburn deftly created a flummoxed Countess who had to repel the advances of Ory’s Sister Colette. Hanna Hipp’s animated Isolier was fun to watch and her singing was superb. Rodion Pogossov created a rousing Raimbaud, and Patrick Carfizzi’s Tutor had world-weariness to spare. Maria Zifchak gave a solid performance as the rightfully suspicious Lady Ragonde.
Rodion Pogossov (Raimbaud) with members of the Seattle Opera Chorus | Photo by Philip Newton
The music scampered along briskly under the direction of Giacomo Sagripanti. The men and women of the Seattle Opera Chorus sang lustily, and the men, in particular, had a terrific esprit de corps when belting out the drinking songs.
Members of the Seattle Opera Chorus | Photo by Philip Newton
Super titles created by Jonathan Dean appeared on clouds that drifted above the opening scene. An animated cartoon of Count Ory riding a sheep across the clouds added a witty edge and caused applause to break out from the audience. That was the first time, in attending hundreds of operas, that I have heard applause for super titles. Kudos to Dean.

Today's Birthdays

Henri Tomasi (1901-1971)
George Melly (1926-2007)
Edward Cowie (1943)
Jean-Bernard Pommier (1944)
Heiner Goebbels (1952)
Artur Pizarro (1968)

and

Oliver St. John Gogarty (1878-1957)
Mae West (1893-1980)
Ted Hughes (1930-1998)
V. S. Naipaul (1932)
Ted Hughes (1930-1998)
Jonathan Franzen (1959)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

On this date in 1982, the first compact discs for commercial release were manufactured in Germany. CDs were originally designed to store and play back sound recordings, but later were modified to store data. The first test disc, which was pressed near Hannover, Germany, contained a recording of Richard Strauss's An Alpine Symphony, played by the Berlin Philharmonic. The first CD commercially produced at the new factory and sold on this date was ABBA's 1981 album The Visitors; the first new album to be released on CD was Billy Joel's 52nd Street, which hit the stores in Japan — alongside the new Sony CD player — on October 1. The event is known as the "Big Bang of digital audio."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Heinrich Marschner (1795-1861)
Gabriel Pierné (1863-1937)
Jacinto Guerrero (1895-1951)
Ralph Downes (1904-1993)
Bill Evans (1929-1980)
Sarah Brightman (1959)
Franz Welser-Möst (1960)

and

Catharine Trotter Cockburn (1679-1749)
William Maxwell (1908-2000)
Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Musica Maestrale prepares to kick off its first Summer Festival in Astoria

Hideki Yamaya
Musica Maestrale Artistic Director
In the midst of a beehive of preparations for early music collective Musica Maestrale's first Summer Festival, to be held this week and weekend in Astoria, MM artistic director (and festival director) Hideki Yamaya had time to answer a few questions about this upcoming venture.

LW: So, the first MM Early Music Fest is this week. The schedule is posted here at the website. Anything interesting you can tell us about it?

HY:  Hopefully everything will be interesting!  We have 4 concerts planned on Friday and Saturday.  On Friday, there will be a noontime concert (for which we encourage people to bring their lunches, BTW) by yours truly, on four different plucked early string instruments.  The evening concert (7PM) will feature Phil and Gayle Neuman and myself for a program entitled 'Songs of the Sea: 16th- and 17th-century music for voice and early instruments'.  It'll be a light-hearted, rollicking program with a whole bevy of early instruments.  On Saturday, there will be a noontime lecture/demo concert featuring Phil and Gayle entitled 'Extreme Early Instruments', which will involve even more rare and bizarre instruments that most of us have never seen or heard.  The evening concert is entitled 'Songs from the Era of the Birth of Opera' and will feature Arwen Myers, soprano, Christine Beckman, violin, Gwendolyn Toth, harpsichord, and myself on theorbo and Baroque guitar.  Some of this music has been featured in programs presented in town in July in a paired down version with just Arwen and me.  It will be a whole new experience with violin and harpsichord added... a very rich texture and musical experience!

For musicians, the festival will offer 4 different workshops.  Friday is Renaissance day, and there will be 2 workshops led by Phil and Gayle, one in the morning, and another in the afternoon (both 2 hours long).  Saturday is Baroque day, led by Arwen, Christine, Gwen, and myself.  In the morning, there will be masterclasses for both singers and instrumentalists.  In the afternoon, there will be ensemble playing for all participants, and we will prepare pieces that will be performed at the student recital on Sunday at noon!

LW: What about details on some of the performers? There are some who are well-known here in the Pacific Northwest early music scene...anyone new to the area?

HY: The Neumans are well-known and beloved early music figures here in Portland.  Phil and Gayle are multi-instrumentalists who make most of their own instruments.  Arwen Myers if fairly new to town, but everyone should know her.  She is part of the music faculty at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and sings with many prominent vocal groups in town, including In Mulieribus and The Ensemble.  She is a fantastic early music soprano, as you have heard.  Christine Beckman might be somewhat unknown in Portland, but she won't be for long.  She has played with PBO, and she played with MM for the first time in May.  Amazing Baroque violinist!  Gwen Toth is not very well known in the West Coast, but she is a very prominent figure in the New York early music scene.  Great organist/harpsichordist and director, she directs ARTEK, a very well-established group in New York.  We are very lucky to have her come all the way out here! 


LW: What's the process been like putting this thing together?

It's been a huge ordeal, at least for me.  It's my first time putting something like this together, and the amount of logistics that one has to deal with, even with a mere 2.5 day festival, is huge.   Our limited budget didn't help!  It's been a learning process for me, and I have learned a lot.  I am hopeful and confident that it will be a success; all the musician participants will surely go home with newly acquired knowledge, and audience members will enjoy all four of the scheduled concerts.

LW: Thanks for taking time out to answer some questions, and I'm really looking forward to the festival!

Today's Birthdays

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912)
Albert Spalding (1888-1953)
Jaques Ibert (1890-1952)
Leon Theremin (1896-1993)
Lukas Foss (1922-2009)
Aldo Ciccolini (1925-2015)
Oscar Peterson (1925-2007)
Rita Hunter (1933-2001)
Anne Marie Owens (1955)
James O'Donnell (1961)

The Woodstock music festival began on this day in 1969.

and

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859)
Edna Ferber (1885-1968)
T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935)
Julia Child (1912-2004)
Benedict Kiely (1919-2007)
Stieg Larsson (1954)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876)
Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (1892-1988)
Pierre Schaeffer (1910-1955)
Jan Koetsier (1911-2006)
Ferruccio Tagliavini (1913-1995)
Georges Prêtre (1924)
Yuri Kholopov (1932-2003)
Cecilia Gasdia (1960)
Beta Moon (1969)

and

Ernest Thayer (1863-1940)
John Galsworthy (1867-1933)
Russell Baker (1925)
Danielle Steel (1947)
Gary Larson (1950)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Portland Festival Orchestra's Lajos Balogh to pass the baton to Gregory Vajda

Lajos Balogh, founder and music director of the Portland Festival Orchestra will hand over the reigns of the orchestra to fellow Hungarian Gregory Vajda at the orchestra's final concert this Sunday (6 pm) at Washington Park. Balogh started the orchestra and its free summer concert series 36 years ago, in part, to celebrate his love of the United States and as a way to give everyone a chance to hear great music. Vajda, who was the resident conductor of the Oregon Symphony before taking over the podium job at the Huntsville Symphony. He is also the Principal Guest Conductor of the Hungarian Radio symphony and the Artistic Director of the International Armel Opera Festival. Congratulations to Balogh for doing such outstanding work for so many, many years and to Vajda, who is one of the best young conductors around.

Today''s Birthdays

Sir George Grove (1820-1900)
John Ireland (1879-1962)
Luis Mariano (1914-1970)
George Shearing (1919-2011)
Louis Frémaux (1921)
Don Ho (1930-2007)
Sheila Armstrong (1942)
Kathleen Battle (1948)
Gregory Vajda (1973)

and

Nikolaus Lenau (1802-1850)
Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980)

Friday, August 12, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690)
Heinrich Biber (1644-1704)
Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929)
Porter Wagoner (1927-2007)
Buck Owens (1929-2006)
Huguette Tourangeau (1940)
David Munrow (1942-1976)
Pat Metheny (1954)
Stuart MacRae (1976)

and

Robert Southey (1773-1843)
Edith Hamilton (1867–1963)
Cecil B. DeMille (1881–1959) 
Donald Justice (1925-2004)
William Goldman (1931)
Anthony Swofford (1970)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Today's Birthdays

J. Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954)
Ginette Neveu (1919-1949)
Raymond Leppard (1927)
Alun Hoddinott (1929-2008)
Tamás Vásáry (1933)

and

Louise Brogan (1897-1970)
Alex Haley (1921-1992)
Andre Dubus (1936-1999)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Alexander Glazunov (1865-1936)
Douglas Moore (1893-1969)
Leo Fender (1909-1991)
Marie-Claire Alain (1926)
Edwin Carr (1926-2003)
John Aldis (1929-2010)
Alexander Goehr (1932)
Giya Kancheli (1935)
Bobby Hatfield (1940-2003)
Dmitri Alexeev (1947)
Eliot Fisk (1958)

and

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
Joyce Sutphen (1949)
Mark Doty (1953)
Suzanne Collins (1962)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947)
Solomon Cutner (1902-1988)

and

Izaak Walton (1593-1683)
John Dryden (1631-1700)
P. L. Travers (1899-1966)
Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

Monday, August 8, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944)
Adolf Busch (1891-1952)
André Jolivet (1905-1974)
Benny Carter (1907-2003)
Josef Suk (1929-2011)
Jacques Hétu (1938-2010)

and

Sara Teasdale (1884-1933)
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1896-1953)
Valerie Sayers (1952)
Elizabeth Tallent (1954)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Henry Litolff (1818-1891)
Sir Granville Bantock (1868-1946)
Karel Husa (1921)
Felice Bryant (1925-2003)
Rahsaan Roland Kirk (1936-1977)
Garrison Keillor (1942)
Ian Hobson (1952)
Christian Altenburger (1957)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677)
Mary Carr Moore (1873-1957)
Karl Ulrich Schnabel (1909-2001)
Udo Reinemann (1942-2013)

and

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Friday, August 5, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Leonardo Leo (1694-1744)
Ambroise Thomas (1811-1896)
Hans Gál (1890-1987)
Erich Kleiber (1890-1956)
Stoika Milanova (1945)
Mark O'Connor (1961)

and

Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893)
Conrad Aiken (1889-1973) 
Wendell Berry (1934)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Henry Berger (1844-1929)
Albert W. Ketèlbey (1875-1959)
Louie "Satchmo" Armstrong (1901-1971)
William Schuman (1910-1992)
Arthur Butterworth (1923-2014)
Jess Thomas (1927-1993)
David Bedford (1937-2011)
Simon Preston (1938)
Deborah Voigt (1960)
Olga Neuwirth (1968)

and

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Raoul Wallenberg (1912-1947?)

From The Writer's Almanac:

Today is the birthday of jazz musician Louis Armstrong (1901), who earned the nickname “Dippermouth” as boy singing for pennies on the streets of New Orleans. He would scoop up the coins and stuff them in his mouth so the bigger boys couldn’t steal them. Later, his effusive style of playing, in particular the way he blew high C’s on his trumpet, would earn him the name “Satchelmouth,” later shortened to “Satchmo.”

Armstrong was born in Storyville, the poorest neighborhood of New Orleans. He worked for a family of Russian Jews delivering coal to prostitute’s rooms. The Karnovsky’s were kind to him, helping him buy a tin trumpet. Because of them, he wore a Star of David pendant for the rest of his life. At 11, he was sent to a boys home, where he was given a cornet and taught to read music. He said: “It sure was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. Me and music got married in that home.”

As a teenager, he honed his skills playing dances, funeral marches, and riverboats. He met jazz greats like Bix Beiderbecke, Sidney Bechet, and King Oliver, who welcomed him to Chicago in 1924, when scores of jazz and blues musicians began an exodus from the South, changing the landscape of music forever. Armstrong was known for his ebullient playing style and the intense charisma he displayed from the stage. He’s largely responsible for the shift in jazz from collective improvisation to solo performance. From 1925 to 1928, he and his band, Louis Armstrong and The Hot Five, made more than 60 records, which influenced everyone from Wynton Marsalis to The Beatles, whom he displaced in 1964, when his rendition of “Hello, Dolly!” knocked them off the number-one spot on the Billboard Charts. Armstrong’s most famous, and enduring, song is “What a Wonderful World” (1967), and claimed as his favorite.

About the song, he said: “Seems to me it ain’t the world that’s so bad but what we’re doing to it, and all I’m saying is: see what a wonderful world it would be if only we’d give it a chance. Love, baby, love. That’s the secret ...”

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Louis Gruenberg (1884-1964)
Antonio Lauro (1917-1986)
Tony Bennett (1926)
James Tyler (1940-2010)
Simon Keenlyside (1959)

and

Juliana Horatia Ewing (1841-1885)
Ernie Pyle (1900-1944)
P. D. James (1920-2014)
Hayden Carruth (1921-2008)
Diane Wakoski (1937)
Marvin Bell (1937)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Arthur Bliss (1891-1975)
Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905-1963)
Marvin David Levy (1932-2015)
Anthony Payne (1936)
Gundula Janowitz (1937)
Richard Einhorn (1952)
Angel Lam (1978)

and

Irving Babbitt (1865-1933)
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
Isabel Allende (1942)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Number of NW Reverb visits goes over 14,000

July was the best month ever for Northwest Reverb. According to Google Analytics, the blog attracted 14,506 visits last month. For some reason, there has been a lot of traffic from France and Russia lately, and it looks like August is starting off well. Since the beginning of the year, traffic has increased to an average of 7,000 visits a month. So the surge in July is a surprise. You never know how things travel in the classical music world, but in any case, I am grateful to all who drop in.

Robert Ainsley to become young artist program director at Washington National Opera

Robert Ainsley is moving up the ladder once again. Since leaving Portland Opera three years ago he has been the head of music staff, chorus master, and coach at both the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Minnesota Opera. Now, the St. Louis Post Dispatch has reported that Ainsley has been appointed the position of director of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at Washington National Opera. Minnesota Opera has already announced that it will conduct a nationwide search to replace Ainsley. Ainsley served for six years as the assistant director of music and chorus master for Portland Opera.

Today's Birthdays

Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)
Morris Stoloff (1898-1980)
William Steinberg (1899-1978)
Lionel Bart (1930-1999)
Ramblin' Jack Elliott (1931)
Jordi Savall (1941)
André Gagnon (1942)
Jerry Garcia (1942-1995)

and

Maria Mitchell (1818-1889)
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
Ernst Jandl (1925-2000)
Madison Smartt Bell (1957)