Friday, September 30, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Sir Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)
Václav Smetáček (1906-1986)
David Oistrakh (1908-1974)
Dame Julie Andrews (1935)
Johnny Mathis (1935)
Alan Hacker (1938-2012)
Jonathan Lloyd (1948)
Andrew Rindfleisch (1963)

and

W.S. Merwin (1927)
Truman Capote (1924-1984)
Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Joaquin Nin (y Castellanos) (1879-1949)
Richard Bonynge (1930)
Jerry Lee Lewis (1935)
Jean-Luc Ponty (1942)

and

Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)
Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)
Enrico Fermi (1901-1954)

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Johann Mattheson (1681-1764)
Florent Schmitt (1870-1958)
Vivian Fine (1913-2000)
Rudolf Barshai (1924-2010)
Edward Applebaum (1937)
Catherine Robbin (1950)
Michaela Comberti (1952-2003)

and

Caravaggio (1571-1610)
Edith Pargeter (1913-1995)
Simon Winchester (1944)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Sir William Empson (1906-1984)
Kay Ryan (1945)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Oregon Symphony creates captivating "Bluebeard's Castle"


The Oregon Symphony broke into new territory with an impressive, operatic production of Béla Bartók’s “Bluebeards Castle” on Saturday evening (September 24th) at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for the first concert of its classical series. The orchestra has performed operas before, such as “Porgy and Bess,” but has done them in the usual concert format with stationary singers and chorus. This time, as part of its new SoundSights series, the orchestra collaborated with renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly to mount his sets on a large stage located behind the musicians. The powerful and evocative voices of soprano Viktoria Vizin and bass-baritone Gábor Bretz soared above the orchestra, conducted by Carlos Kalmar, to deliver a mesmerizing interpretation of Bartók’s dark masterpiece.

Excellent stage directions by Mary Birnbaum contributed deftly to the performance. Vizin gave a convincing portrait of Judith, Bluebeard’s newest wife, who wants to know what lies behind each door of his castle. Bretz, in the role Bluebeard, reluctantly gives in, and the secrets of his soul are exposed in a symbolic way. Depicting the seven doors were seven very tall cubes that could be turned to reveal Chihuly’s colorful glass sculptures. A thicket of red spears represented Bluebeard’s torture chamber. Long white stalactites positioned above a pool of red orbs elicited Bluebeard’s lake of tears. Each glass creation was enhanced with the lighting of designer Justin Dunlap. The final door held Bluebeard’s previous wives, who Judith joined while the orchestra wailed loudly with clashing, dissonant chords.

The orchestra deftly created all sorts of emotional states that perfectly accompanied the story. The forbidding doom and gloom at the outset laid out a fog of heaviness. The shrieking violins caused listeners to sit up straighter when the torture chamber was revealed. The massive volume of sound that announced Bluebeard’s vast kingdom was impressive as hell (figuratively). The hour-long piece surged up and down and swirled the audience in a sound-world that finally dimmed down to nothingness when all of the lights in the hall were turned off.

In the first half of the program, the orchestra sparkled with its performance of Mozart’s Symphony No. 31 (“Paris”). The strings excelled with fleet fingerwork and a silky sound in the first movement. The sweet, flowing style of the second was transported with a wonderfully relaxed (but not too relaxed) tempo. Kalmar and company kicked things up a notch or two in the third, allowing the fugue-like passage to shine brilliantly.

The concert opened with a world premiere of Chris Rogerson’s “Among Mountains” in honor of the Oregon Symphony’s 120th birthday. Rogerson, a young East-coast composer, who grew up with family vacations in Oregon, wrote the short piece (about five minutes in length) not as a fanfare, but as a strong statement of the majesty of the Cascade Range. It featured a wistful solo for offstage trumpet that was marvelously played by Jeffrey Work. The orchestra, together, also created a warm series of cascading sounds that suggested waterfalls and rivers. There was a bit of Copland-esque atmosphere in the work, but it also expressed a lovely lyrical quality that I’ve heard in Rogerson’s works that were played a summer or two ago by Chamber Music Northwest.

There was a big buzz in the lobby of the Schnitz after the conclusion of “Bluebeard’s Castle.” It was a veritable hit. For readers who might wonder where the Chihuly sculptures go after the final concert on Monday night. I found out from Jim Fullan, the orchestra’s Vice President for Communications, Marketing, and Sales, that they will be transported in special crates to one of Chihuly’s warehouses for subsequent rentals. The production has been used by a few other companies. They originally debuted with the Seattle Symphony a few years ago.

Today's Birthdays

Alfred Cortot (1877-1962)
Charles Munch (1891-1968)
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Yvonne Levering (1905-2006)
Fritz Wunderlich (1930-1966)
Salvatore Accardo (1941)
Dale Duesing (1947)

and

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

and from The Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1957, 20 years after George Gershwin died, Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. It was not immediately successful. It only became famous when it was turned into a film in 1961 and won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It’s based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, but it is set in the gang-ridden streets of New York.

During the weeks leading up to the opening of West Side Story, the news was full of stories of gang violence and racial confrontations. At the end of August, Strom Thurmond filibustered for more than 24 hours to try to prevent passage of the Voting Rights Act. The day before the show’s opening, federal troops forcibly integrated Little Rock High School.

In general, critics responded favorably to West Side Story, but all the major Tony Awards went instead to The Music Man, a bubbly, nostalgic musical about a small town in Iowa.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Johann Nikolaus Hanff (1663-1711)
Jean-Phillippe Rameau (1683-1764)
Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970)
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Sir Colin Davis (1927-2013)
Glenn Gould (1932-1982)
Stella Sung (1959)

and

William Faulkner (1897-1962)
Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Sir Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991)
Cornell MacNeil (1922-2011)
Alfredo Kraus (1927-1999)
John Rutter (1945)
Marc Neikrug (1946)

and

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

Friday, September 23, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Jacques Féréol Mazas (1782-1849)
Jarmila Novotná (1907-1994)
Soulima Stravinsky (1910-1994)
Ray Charles (1930-2004)
John Coltrane (1926-1967)
Bruce Springsteen (1949)
William Shimell (1952)

and

Euripides (ca 480 BC - 406 BC) - today is the traditional day for Greeks to celebrate his birthday.
Baroness Emmuska Orczy (1865-1947)
Jaroslav Seifert (1901-1986)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
Meinrad Schütter (1910-2006)
Leonard Cohen (1934)
Jill Gomez (1942)
Andrei Gavrilov (1955)
Nina Rautio (1957)

and

Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498)
Sir Edmund Gosse (1849-1928)
H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells (1866-1946)
Sir Allen Lane (1902-1970)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Article on Joel Bluestone and his final concert with Fear No Music in The Oregonian

The Oregonian posted an article here that I wrote about percussionist Joel Bluestone and his final performance with the Fear No Music ensemble.  It is in the online here and will be in the print edition this weekend.

Today's Birthdays

Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton (1885-1941)
David Sheinfeld (1906-2001)
John Dankworth (1927-2010)
Jane Manning (1938)
Laurie Spiegel (1945)
John Harle (1956)

and

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

Monday, September 19, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Allan Pettersson (1911-1980)
Kurt Sanderling (1912-2011)
Blanche Thebom (1918-2010)
Arthur Wills (1926)
Bonaventura Bottone (1950)

and

William Golding (1911-1993)
Roger Angell (1920)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748)
Lord Berners (1883-1950)
Arthur Benjamin (1893-1960)
Meredith Willson (1902-1984)
Josef Tal (1910-2008)
Norman Dinerstein (1937-1982)
Thomas Fulton (1949-1994)
John McGlinn (1953-2009)
Anna Netrebko (1970)

and

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Jean-Bernard-Léon Foucault (1819-1868)
Paul Zimmer (1934)
Alberto Ríos (1952)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Friday, September 16, 2016

Today's Birthday

Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)
Hans Swarowsky (1899-1975)
B. B. King (1925-2015)

and

John Gay (1685-1732)
Henry Louis Gates Jr. (1950)
Elizabeth McCracken (1966)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Article on Portland Opera in The Oregonian

I wrote an article about Portland Opera and how it has done after finishing its inaugural summer season. The article is online here, and I think it will be in one of the print editions this weekend.
---
Postscript: The article appeared in today's (Sunday, Sept.18th) edition of The Oregonian.

Today's Birthdays

Bruno Walter (1876-1962)
Frank Martin (1890-1974)
Richard Arnell (1917-2009)
Cannonball Adderley (1928-1975)
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (1933)
Jessye Norman (1945)
Richard Suart (1951)

and

Robert Benchley (1899-1945)
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)
Agatha Christie (1890-1976)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Renée Fleming thrills audience at Oregon Symphony gala

Photo credit: Decca/Andrew Eccles

A standing room only at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall greeted superstar soprano Renée Fleming at the Oregon Symphony’s gala concert on Saturday night (September 10) with cheers and enthusiastic applause. The “people’s diva” graced the stage - looking smashing in elegant dresses – yet conveyed a down-home familiarity when she talked about the music. Fleming’s remarkably rich and expressive voice enhanced each selection on a program that traveled from heavier faire of Richard Strauss’s “Four Last Songs” to lighter pieces from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I.” Each set of works was framed by a number that deftly showed off the orchestra under its music director, Carlos Kalmar.

Fleming gave a sensitive performance of Strauss’s “Four Last Songs.” Now and then it was a bit too sensitive because her voice got lost in the wash of orchestra sound. Still, her radiant singing and impeccable diction plumbed the depths of Strauss’s masterpiece, including the lowest notes which were firmly in the mezzo range. With “Spring,” Fleming evoked a renewed hopefulness, tickling the notes while singing the words “du lockst mich zart” (“you entice me tenderly”). She imbued “September” with a sense of one who has acknowledged that time is drifting beyond her grasp. “Going to sleep” continued the wistful enchantment with long, lush phrases and a lovely solo by concertmaster Sarah Kwak. Fleming then guided the audience to the great beyond with a beguilingly restful “At sunset,” which featured exceptional birdlike playing from the flutes and piccolos.

In the second half of the concert, it was much easier to hear Fleming’s remarkable voice, because she sang several French arias that had a soft, light orchestration. Her singing of “C’est Thaïs, L’idole fragile” from Jules Massenet’s opera “Thaïs” had a beguilingly liquid tone. Her performance of “Allons! Adieu notre petite table” from Massenet’s “Manon” pleaded and trembled with a soul-searching quality. With Camille Saint-Saëns “La Soirée en mer,” Fleming elicited the waves of the ocean – wonderfully aided by the strings and harp of the orchestra. She topped off the French set with a coquettish rendition of Oscar Strauss’s “Je t’aime quand même.”

Using the microphone, Fleming sang three selections from “The King and I,” crowdsourcing from the audience to fill in the whistling part of “I Whistle a Happy Tune,” because – as she readily admitted – she can’t whistle. She followed that with radiant singing of “Something Wonderful” and a carefree “Shall We Dance?”

Ecstatic applause from the audience gave way to a few encores numbers, starting with a heartstopping signature performance of “O mio babbino caro” from Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi,” a sing-along version of “I Could Have Danced All Night” from “My Fair Lady,” and a poignant rendition of Lenard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Finally, the Fleming and the orchestra sang an entertaining arrangement of Happy Birthday by local composer Dave Miller.

The non-vocal selections included the dramatic Overture to Carl Maria Von Weber’s “Der Freischütz,” Emmaneul Chabrier’s “Joyeuse Marche,” and the sweeping “Carousel Waltz” from Richard Rodgers’s “Carousel.” The “Joyeuse Marche” especially crackled with laughing woodwinds and extreme fortes and pianissimos. Overall, the gala kicked off the orchestra’s season in a marvelous way, and audience members could go home and tell their friends and family that they had sung with Renée Fleming.

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Eric Bentley (1916)
Renzo Piano (1937)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

On this date in 1814, a lawyer named Francis Scott Key wrote his poem “Defense of Fort McHenry.” The fledgling United States was two years into its second war with Great Britain. Things were going all right for the Americans early in the war, because the British were distracted by their concurrent war with France. But when Napoleon was defeated in April 1814, the British turned their full attention on their former colony. Americans were shocked and appalled when the British marched into Washington, D.C., and burned the Capitol and the White House. “Every American heart is bursting with shame and indignation at the catastrophe,” one Baltimore resident said.

From Washington, the British moved on to Baltimore, intending to destroy as much of the major port city as possible. The city’s harbor was defended by Fort McHenry, and the British navy began firing on it on September 13. They attacked Baltimore throughout the day, and that night they sent more than 1,500 bombs, rockets, and cannon balls across the water at Fort McHenry. Francis Scott Key, a lawyer who had been sent to negotiate the release of an American prisoner, was on a British boat behind the lines for the duration of the battle. Suddenly, in the middle of the night, the British stopped firing. From their boat, Key and the other men had no idea whether the British had succeeded or given up and retreated, and they could no longer see the harbor now that the sky was dark. So they had to wait all night, until the sky was light enough to see which flag was flying over the fort. The sunrise revealed that the American flag still held its place. Key scribbled down some ideas for a poem, and later that day, after his release, he wrote the poem in a room at the Indian Queen Hotel. Within days it had circulated, and was being sung to the tune of a drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven.” It became a huge hit, but didn’t become our official national anthem until 1931.

The flag in question had been commissioned in 1813 by Major George Armistead, the commander of Fort McHenry, and it was sewn by Baltimore seamstress Mary Pickersgill, assisted by her 13-year-old daughter, two teenage nieces, and an indentured servant. They constructed the 30- by 42-foot flag by sewing together strips of English wool bunting that were 12 to 18 inches wide. Each of the 15 stars was two feet wide between the points, and the stripes were two feet wide as well. They laid the flag out on the floor of a local brewery to stitch it together.

The Star-Spangled Banner remained in the Armistead family for several generations before they donated it to the Smithsonian Institution. It was in pretty bad shape by the time the Smithsonian got it; the Armisteads had snipped away several bits of it to give away as souvenirs, and Louisa Armistead (George’s widow) cut out an entire star to give away. That star has never been tracked down, and that’s why visitors to the Smithsonian see only 14 stars rather than 15.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Clara Schumann (1819-1896)
Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951)
Bill Monroe (1911-1996)
Robert Ward (1917-2013)
Maurice Jarre (1924-2009)
Mel Tormé (1925-1999)
Nicolai Ghiaruv (1929-2004)
Werner Hollweg (1936-2007)
Arleen Auger (1939-1993)
Steve Kilbey (1954)
Andreas Staier (1955)

and

Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941)
J.B. Priestley (1894-1984)
Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Herbert Lincoln Clarke (1867-1945)
Gideon Waldrop (1919-2000)
Tatiana Troyanos (1938-1993)
Barry White (1944-2003)
John Mauceri (1945)
Vladimir Spivakov (1946)
Leslie Cheung (1956-2003)

and

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

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832)
Vally Weigl (1894-1982)
Harry Somers (1925-1999)
Arvo Pärt (1935)
Catherine Bott (1952)

and

O. Henry (1862-1910)
D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
Reed Whittemore (1919-2012)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ear Trumpet: Portland New Music Calendar for Sept-Dec 2016

Courtesy of Bob Priest, aka Mr. March Music Moderne:

++++++++++++++++

SEPTEMBER

14
Opera Theater Oregon
Two Yosemites
Justin Ralls
operatheateror.wordpress.com

15
Patrick McCulley
Music for Saxophone
patrickmcculley.com

23
Portland Columbia Symphony
A Night at the Movies
John Williams
columbiasymphony.org

24
Huun Huur Tu
New & Old Tuvan Music
albertarosetheatre.com

25
Portland Chamber Orchestra
The Diary of Anne Frank
Grigory Frid & Shostakovich
portlandchamberorchestra.org

26
Oregon Symphony
Rogerson & Bartok
orsymphony.org

30
Fear No Music
Joel's Greatest Hits
Satoh, Miksch & Golijov
fearnomusic.org

------------------------


OCTOBER

1
Third Angle
Steve Reich
thirdangle.org

7
Brian Wilson
Pet Sounds
aladdin-theatre.com

8
Chamber Music Northwest
Akropolis Reed Quintet
Doest & Biedenbender
cmnw.org

9
Portland Piano International
Denis Kozhukhin, piano
Gyorgy Ligeti
portlandpiano.org

12
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
with Wynton Marsalis, trumpet
orsymphony.org

14
Choral Arts Ensemble of Portland
Requiem for the Living
Moravec & Forrest
portlandschoir.org

15
Cascadia Composers
To Cuba With Love
Preview of the Havana concert
cascadiacomposers.org

18
Friends of Chamber Music
Danish String Quartet
Rolf Wallin
focm.org

22
Creative Music Guild
Extradition Series
Lucier, Pisaro & Ecklund
creativemusicguild.org

23
Cascadia Composers
with The Ensemble
Love, Laughter & Truth
Koon, Winslow & Brahms
cascadiacomposers.org
theensembleoregon.org

24
Oregon Symphony
Rouse & Norman
orsymphony.org

28
PDX Jazz
Dave Douglas
with The Westerlies
pdxjazz.com

29
Oregon Symphony
Janacek & Barber
orsymphony.org

30
Fear No Music
New Music in Disguise
Stockhausen & Daugherty
fearnomusic.org

-----------------------------

NOVEMBER

2
Arnica String Quartet
Webern & Beethoven
arnicaquartet.com

3
Third Angle
World of Ideas: solo piano
Lang, Andres & Johanson
thirdangle.org

4
Crazy Jane Composers
Crazy Jane in Technicolor
crazyjanecomposers.wordpress.com

5-7
Oregon Symphony
Frank Martin
orsymphony.org

10-13
FESTIVAL - 17 Events
Portland Piano International
The Clearing
Benjamin, Ligeti, Kurtag, Boulez,
Messiaen, Abrahamsen, Carter,
master classes, films & more . . .
portlandpiano.org

18
Portland Columbia Symphony
Trail of Tears
Daugherty & Bernstein
columbiasymphony.org

20
Cascadia Composers
with The Ensemble
My Sweetest Life
Mittelstaedt, Safar & Gesualdo
cascadiacomposers.org
theensembleoregon.org

28
KBOO-FM Radio
A Different Nature
MMMessiaen Festival Preview
with The Free Marz String Trio
hosted by Andy, Daniel & D-Bob
Messiaen, Gorecki & MMMore . . .
kboo.org

----------------------------------

DECEMBER

2-5
FESTIVAL - 5 Events
MMMessiaen Melange de Musique
Messiaen, Salonen, Saariaho, Gorecki,
Stockhausen, Harley, Priest, Schnittke,
FFF & Messiaen Remix Projects and
Live Concert Broadcast on Club Mod
marchmusicmoderne.org

5
*** ET PICK ***
Oregon Symphony
Turangalila-Symphonie
Olivier Messiaen
orsymphony.org

7-8
PSU Orchestra
Piazzolla & Glass
thepsuorchestra.wordpress.com

14-17
Cult of Orpheus
Viva's Holiday
Christopher Corbell
cultoforpheus.org

18
Portland Chamber Orchestra
Holiday Postcard
Avner Dorman
portlandchamberorchestra.org

26
Portland Youth Philharmonic
Riegger & John Williams
portlandyouthphil.org

==========================

RADIO:

All Classical-FM (89.9)
Club Mod with Robert McBride
Saturday: 8-10 pm
allclassical.org

KBOO-FM (90.7)
A Different Nature
Monday: 8-10 pm
kboo.org

=========================

BLOGS:

Oregon Arts Watch
orartswatch.org

Northwest Reverb
northwestreverb.blogspot.com

Noble Viola
nobleviola.com

Experimental Portland
experimentalportland.com

Alitisa
alitisa.com

=========================

ET PICKS:

Compact Disc
Tierkreis
Zodiac for music boxes
Karlheinz Stockhausen
stockhausencds.com

West Coast Trail Concert
19 November - Los Angeles
Simon Rattle & The Berlin Phil
Boulez & Mahler
laphil.com

Book
The Tuning of the World
R. Murray Schafer
patria.org

Today's Birthdays

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
Niccolò Jommelli (1714-1774)
Judith Nelson (1939-2012)
Christopher Hogwood (1941-2014)
Sir Thomas Allen (1944)
Michael Schønwandt (1953)

and

Hanna Webster Foster (1758-1840)
Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961)
Franz Werfel (1890-1945)
Cyril Connolly (1903-1974)
Mary Oliver (1935)
Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
Paul Goodman (1911-1972)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Nicolas de Grigny (1672-1703)
Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)
Ninon Vallin (1886-1961)
Lionel Salter (1914-2000)
Christoph von Dohnányi (1929)
Eric Salzman (1933)
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (1934-2016)
Dezső Ránki (1951)
Ilan Volkov (1976)

and

Wilhelm Raabe (1931-1910)
Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)
Grace Metalious (1924-1964)
Ann Beattie (1947)
Michael Schermer (1954)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Today's Birthdays

François Philidor (1726-1794)
Joan Cross (1900-1993)
Sir Harry Secombe (1921-2001)
Arthur Ferrante (1921-2009)
Leonard Rosenman (1924-2008)
Hugh Aitken (1924-2012)
Sonny Rollins (1930)
Buddy Holly (1936-1959)
Jean-Yves Thibaudet (1961)
Angela Gheorghiu (1965)

and

Sinclair Lewis (1885–1951)
Edith Sitwell (1887-1964)
Joe Klein (1946)
Jennifer Egan (1962)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Fanny Wright  (1795-1852)
Jane Addams (1860-1935)
Robert Pirsig (1928)
Alice Sebold (1963)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Catherine Lee’s “social sounds” CD explores new sonic territory for the oboe


Earlier this year, oboist Catherine Lee released her debut solo album, fearlessly probing unusual sonic textures of new works. Entitled “social sounds,” the recording contains pieces for solo oboe by Dorothy Chang, Jerome Blais, Tawnie Olson, Emily Doolittle, and Lee that venture off-road into unusual tonal landscapes. The exploratory nature of the music on the CD plays well in Lee’s hands, because she has a lot of experience with the improvisation, having performed in ensembles led by noted improvisers, such as John Gruntfest, Gino Robair, and Tatsuya Nakatani. Lee has an extensive background as a freelance oboist and teaches at Willamette University, Western Oregon University and George Fox University.

The album’s title, “social sounds,” refers to Emily Doolittle’s “Social sounds from the whales at night” (2007). It features Lee playing the oboe d’amore to tape recordings of humpback, grey seal, and sperm whales. The whale sounds start out in the background as Lee casts a plaintive obbligato into the foreground. It is not long before her phrases and those of the whales seem to play with each other – a sort of communion in the midst of the ocean.

Lee’s performance of “Still” by Dorothy Chang (2006) creates a contemplative yet abstract mood in which tonality shifts back and forth as if from exterior to interior. Notes seem to sag and then leap forward in a spontaneous way that finally ends with a strange, mircrotonal buzz.

Lee gives Jerome Blais’s “Rafales” (2007) a wonderfully unhurried pace that allows notes to linger. Some of the notes have a long hang time and blur harmonically into the oncoming melodic line. A perky series of notes briefly gains enough momentum to contrast well with the predominantly forlorn sounds, including the eerily hollow tone at the end of the piece.

In Tawnie Olson’s “Plainsong” (2004), Lee offers a contemplative atmosphere that reflects the chants of medieval monks – although the piece has no direct quotes. Lee’s use of the English horn evokes a vocal quality that fits the music extremely well.

For the "Ten Tiny Dances South Waterfront Project" in 2008, Lee wrote “a tiny dance,” and, in this recording, she strikes a delicate balance between small movements and larger ones. Overall, the piece has an introspective nature that must have worked well for the dancers, who (according to the liner notes) “were restricted to moving within a space of four square feet that also contained a cement ledge, a banister, and a section of a small waterfall.

So if you are feeling adventurous, try "social sounds," which is available through CD Baby,Teal Creek Music, and the Canadian Music Centre.

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Justin Kaplan (1925-2014)
Ward Just (1935)
Jonathan Kozol (1936)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Mary Renault (1905-1983)
Richard Wright (1908-1960)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909)
Sally Benson (1897-1972)
Alison Lurie (1926)
Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)
Malcolm Gladwell (1963)
Kiran Desai (1971)

Friday, September 2, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Eugene Field (1850-1895)
Joseph Roth (1894-1939)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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