Friday, October 20, 2017

Baldur Brönniman and the Oregon Symphony deliver a nuanced Shostakovich 5th Symphony

Baldur Brönniman
Guest conductor Baldur Brönniman led the Oregon Symphony for the first time in a riveting concert on Monday, October 16th at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. A varied program featuring works by Portuguese composer Ângela da Ponte, Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich, it was a fun and yet deep evening of music.

Da Ponte, who grew up in the Azores, wrote The Rising Sea based upon a poem called Ídilio by Antero de Quental.  An OSO premiere, the piece was a mysterious, largely atonal sound painting, with susurating entrances and exits, strange quacking mutes in the brass; densely textured and programmatic it was a worthy piece to hear.

Cellist Johannes Moser, last with the OSO for the Schumann concerto in 2014, returned as soloist for Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor.  Moser was charismatic and even dashing; holding the audience and orchestra alike in the grip of his intensity, he seemed simultaneously to be having way too much fun. Displaying a deft, even delicate touch even in the bold exposition, he interpreted the melodies lovingly--heroic when called for, yet not bombastic. In the Allegretto he made the moment feel like a strophic song somehow, leading a marvelous balancing act with the orchestra. Much of this work was high up on the instrument, yet his technique in the lower registers was affective and moving. An effortless technician, he succeeded in bringing out the very heart of this piece.

Swiss conductor Baldur Brönniman had a difficult challenge with the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in D Minor. There is a tendency to make this piece weighty and ponderous, yet all the material is there for an interpretation that is almost the exact opposite, and Brönniman elicited this from the OSO.

In the first movement, the dialogue between high and low strings was profound and direct--no equivocating here. The clarinet solo was not haunting, yet somehow austere and lonely. The ominous intrusion of the piano and brass set off a fine frenzy with the rest of the group, and later as the hubbub receded, the flute and horn duet was a moment of singular beauty.  In the second movement the bassoon solo was saucy, like a grand, grave, darkly humorous waltz, and in the third movement the trio with two flutes and harp was spare and sonorous, followed by a broad elegy from the strings.  Like a fierce Slavic folk dance, the grand arrival at the finale was the fulfillment of the long promise beforehand.

Brönniman was brilliant all evening, but especially so in the Shostakovich. There are so many gems large and small in this monumental work, and the conductor expertly picked them all out, deftly shepherding the players through this task. A deeply pensive work like this could trend toward the dull, yet it never went there; Brönniman and the OSO were constantly engaging and energetic, and the Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich were nothing short of a triumph. One hopes to see Baldur Brönniman at the helm of the OSO again soon.


Today's Birthdays

Charles Ives (1874-1954)
Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941)
Adelaide Hall (1901-1993)
Alfredo Campoli (1906-1991)
Adelaide Hall (1909-1993)
Robert Craft (1923-2015)
Jacques Loussier (1934)
William Albright (1944-1998)
Ivo Pogorelich (1958)
Leila Josefowicz (1977)

and

Christopher Wren (1632-1723)
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)
John Dewey(1859-1952)
Robert Pinsky (1940)
Elfriede Jelinek (1946)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Sidonie Goossens (1899-2004)
Vittorio Giannini (1903-1966)
Karl-Birger Blomdahl (1916-1968)
Emil Gilels (1916-1985)
Robin Holloway (1943)
Robert Morris (1943)

and

Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)
Auguste Lumière (1862-1954)
Miguel Ángel Asturias (1899-1974)
Jack Anderson (1922-2005)
John le Carré (David John Moore Cornwell) (1931)
Philip Pullman (1946)
Tracy Chevalier (1962)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Luca Marenzio (1553-1599)
Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785)
Lotte Lenya (1898-1981)
Alexander Young (1920-2000)
Egil Hovland (1924-2013)
Chuck Berry (1926-2017)
Wynton Marsalis (1961)

and

Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811)
Henri Bergson (1859-1941)
A. J. Liebling (1904-1963)
Ntozake Shange (1948)
Rick Moody (1961)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Georg Büchner (1813-1837)
Nathanael West (1903-1940)
Arthur Miller (1915-2005)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1978, President Jimmy Carter presents the Congressional Medal of Honor to singer Marian Anderson.

and from The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1933 that Albert Einstein officially moved to the United States to teach at Princeton University. He had been in California working as a visiting professor when Hitler took over as chancellor of Germany. Einstein’s apartment in Berlin and his summer cottage in the country were raided, his papers confiscated, and his bank accounts closed. He returned to Europe and handed in his German passport, renouncing his citizenship. He considered offers from all over the world, including Paris, Turkey, and Oxford. Einstein eventually decided on Princeton, which offered him an attractive package teaching at its Institute for Advanced Study — but he had his hesitations about the university. For one thing, it had a clandestine quota system in place that only allowed a small percentage of the incoming class to be Jewish. The Institute’s director, Abraham Flexner, was worried that Einstein would be too directly involved in Jewish refugee causes, so he micromanaged Einstein’s public appearances, keeping him out of the public eye when possible. He even declined an invitation for Einstein to see President Roosevelt at the White House without telling the scientist. When Einstein found out, he personally called Eleanor Roosevelt and arranged for a visit anyway, and then complained about the incident in a letter to a rabbi friend of his, giving the return address as “Concentration Camp, Princeton.” In 1938, incoming freshmen at Princeton ranked Einstein as the second-greatest living person; first place went to Adolf Hitler.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745)
Franz [Ferenc] Doppler (1821-1883)
James Lockhart (1930)
Derek Bourgeois (1941)
Marin Alsop (1956)
Erkki-Sven Tüür (1959)
Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962)

and

Noah Webster (1758-1843)
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953)
Günter Grass (1927-2015)
Thomas Lynch (1948)


And from the Writer's Almanac:

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

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Article about violinist Tomas Cotik in The Oregonian

My article about violinist Tomas Cotik and his new album of music by Astor Piazzolla has been posted online in Oregonlive here. It will be in the print edition later this week. Cotik is a professor on the music faculty of Portland State University. One of the cool things that is doing is a concert and CD presentation in which the proceeds will help to fund a scholarship for string students at the university.

Today's Birthdays

Bernhard Crusell (1775-1838)
Dag Wirén (1905-1985)
Harold Blumenfeld (1923-2014)
Karl Richter (1926-1981)
Barry McGuire (1935)
Suzanne Murphy (1941)
Peter Phillips (1953)

and

Virgil (70 B.C.E.- 19 B.C.E.)
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)
Friedrich Nietzsche, (1844-1900)
P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)
Varian Fry (1907-1967)
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007)
Italo Calvino (1923-1985)
Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Alexander Zimlinsky (1871-1942)
Gary Graffman (1928)
Rafael Puyana (1931-2013)
Enrico di Giuseppe (1932-2005)
La Monte (Thorton) Young (1935)
Sir Cliff Richard (1940)
Kaija Saariaho (1952)

and

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

Friday, October 13, 2017

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Conrad Richter (1890-1968)
Arna Bontemps (1902-1973)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1686-1750)
Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780)
Arthur Nikisch (1855-1922)
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Healey Willan (1880-1968)
Carlos López Buchardo (1881-1948)
Gilda Dalla Rizza (1892-1975)
Erich Gruenberg (1924)
Pilar Lorengar (1938-1996)
Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)
Daryl Runswick (1946)
Penelope Walker (1956)
Chris Botti (1962)

and

Robert Fitzgerald (1910-1985)
Alice Childress (1916-1994)
Robert Coles (1929)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Today's Birthdays

George Bridgetower (1780-1860)
Fernando De Lucia (1860-1925)
R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)
Albert Stoessel (1894-1943)
Eugene Weigel (1910-1998)
Art Blakey (1919-1990)
Ennio Morricone (1928)
David Rendall (1948)

and

Mason Locke Weems (1759-1825)
Eleanor Roosevelt (1883-1962)
Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)
Thich Nhat Hanh (1926)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today's Birthdays

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

and

Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721)
Harold Pinter (1930-2008)

And from The Writer's Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the composer Vernon Duke, born Vladimir Dukelsky, in Parafianovo, Belarus (1903). He was a talented classical musician, educated at an elite conservatory, but his family fled Russia after the revolution and he wound up playing piano in cafés in Constantinople (now Istanbul). From there, his family rode steerage class on a ship to America, went through Ellis Island, and ended up in New York in 1921. There the teenage Dukelsky met George Gershwin, who was only a few years older, and the two became good friends. Dukelsky played Gershwin what he described as “an extremely cerebral piano sonata,” and Gershwin, who was also trained in classical music, suggested this: “There’s no money in that kind of stuff, and no heart in it, either. Try to write some real popular tunes — and don’t be scared about going low-brow. They will open you up.” He also suggested that Dukelsky shorten his name, as he himself had done — Gershowitz to Gershwin. So Vladimir Dukelsky came up with the name Vernon Duke, but he didn’t use it for a while.

First, he went to Paris. There, he met and impressed the great ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev. Dukelsky wrote later about their first meeting — that Diaghilev had drawled: “‘Ah, a good-looking boy. That in itself is most unusual. Composers are seldom good-looking; neither Stravinsky nor Prokofiev ever won any beauty prizes. How old are you?’ I told him I was 20. ‘That’s encouraging, too. I don’t like young men over 25.’” And so Diaghilev commissioned him to write a ballet, and he wrote Zephire et Flore, with sets by Georges Braque, choreography by Léonide Massine, and costumes by Coco Chanel. It got a great reception, and Dukelsky was taken in by the not-quite-as-good-looking Stravinsky and Prokofiev. For a few years he divided his time between Paris, where he continued to write classical music, and London, where he wrote show tunes and used the name Vernon Duke. Then in 1929, he decided to go back to America, and he wrote some of the biggest hits of the 1930s — “April in Paris” (1932), “Autumn in New York” (1934), “I Can’t Get Started” (1936), and “Taking a Chance on Love” (1940). And he wrote the music for the Broadway show and film Cabin in the Sky (1940). By that time, he had become an American citizen and officially changed his name to Vernon Duke.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Harry Lawrence Freeman (1869-1954)
Carl Flesch (1873-1944)
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
Roger Goeb (1914-1997)
Einojuhani Routavaara (1928-2016)
Alfons Kontarsky (1932-2010)
John Lennon (1940-1980)
Jackson Browne (1948)
Sally Burgess (1953)
Roberto Sierra (1953)

and

Ivo Andrić (1892-1975)
Bruce Catton (1899-1978)
Léopold (Sédar) Senghor (1906-2001)
Belva Plain (1915-2010)
Jill Ker Conway (1934)
James Howe McClure (1939-2006)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)
Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785)
Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Will Vodery (1885-1951)
Paul V. Yoder (1908-1990)
James Sample (1910-1995)
Kurt Redel (1918-2013)
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)
Johnny Ramone (1948-2004)
Robert Saxton (1953)
Carl Vine (1954)
Tabea Zimmermann (1968)
Bruno Mantovani (1974)
and

John Cowper Powys (1872-1963)
Walter Lord (1917-2002)
Philip Booth (1925-2007)
R.L. Stine (1943)
Elizabeth Tallent (1954)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Today's Birthdays

William Billings (1746-1800)
Joe Hill (1879-1915)
Alfred Wallenstein (1898-1983)
Shura Cherkassky (1911-1995)
Charles Dutoit (1936)
John Mellencamp (1951)
Yo-Yo Ma (1955)
Li Yundi (1982)

and

James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
Helen Clark MacInnes (1907-1985)
Desmond Tutu, (1931)
Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones) (1934-2014)
Thomas Keneally (1935)
Dianne Ackerman (1948)
Sherman Alexie (1966)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

From the Writer's Almanac:

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Cyril Bradley Rootham (1875-1938)
Jürgen Jürgens (1925-1994)
John Downey (1927-2004)
Iwan Edwards (1937)
Ken Noda (1962)

and

Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
Helen Churchill Candee (1858-1949)
Flann O’Brien (1911-1966)
Václav Havel (1936-2011)
Edward P. Jones (1950)
Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958)
Maya Ying Lin (1959)

And from the Composers Datebook

On this day in 1930, The New York Philharmonic begins its famous series of weekly Sunday afternoon national broadcasts with a program from Carnegie Hall conducted by Erich Kleiber. The first-ever radio broadcast of the New York Philharmonic had occurred on August 12, 1922, when a summer-time concert from Lewisohn Stadium conducted by Willem van Hoogstraten was relayed locally over WJZ in New York.

My note: Willem van Hoogstraten was the conductor of the Portland Symphony (former name of the Oregon Symphony) from 1925 to 1938.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dausgaard appointed as next music director of the Seattle Symphony

The Seattle Times has reported that Thomas Dausgaard will succeed Ludovic Morlot as the music director of the Seattle Symphony. Dausgaard will take over in the fall of 2019 for a contract that runs four years. Dausgaard, age 54, has been the Seattle Symphony's principal guest conductor since 2014.

Today's Birthdays

Fanny Tacchinardi‑Persiani (1812-1867)
Alain Daniélou (1907-1994)
Alain Lombard (1940)
Richard Wilson (1941)
John Aler (1949)
Fransico Araiza (1950)
Marc Minkowski (1962)
David Dzubay (1964)

and

Frederic Remington (1861-1909)
Damon Runyan (1880-1946)
Buster Keaton (1895-1966)
Brenden Gill (1914-1997)
Jackie Collins (1937-2015) Roy Blount Jr. (1941) Anne Rice (1941)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1921, the American Academy in Rome awards American composer Leo Sowerby its first two-year composition fellowship. American composer Howard Hanson was awarded the second two-year composition fellowship on November 9, 1921. The third fellowship was awarded to Randall Thompson on June 6, 1922. The fellowship awards continue to this day

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Antoine Dauvergne (1713-1797)
Stanisław Skrowaczewski (1923-2017)
Steve Reich (1936)

and

Emily Post (1873-1960)
Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938)
Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993)
Gore Vidal (1925-2012)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Akiko Meyers mesmerizes audience in season opener with the Vancouver Symphony

Anne Akiko Meyers delivered an exceptional performance of works by Maurice Ravel and Camille Saint-Saëns at the Vancouver Symphony’s season opener. Her outstanding playing set the near-capacity audience at SkyView Concert Hall abuzz on Saturday afternoon (September 30), and there was quite a long line of patrons at intermission to get her autograph in the lobby where she amiably signed CDs and programs and took time to pose with her fans. They know that her performances of Ravel’s “Tzigane” and Saint-Saëns’ “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” would be something to remember for a long, long time.

One of the best things about VSO concerts are the big screens that provide a close-up view of the featured soloist. For both the Ravel and the Saint-Saëns, they gave concertgoers a fascinating look at Akiko Meyers fingers, which raced up and down her violin like a gazelle. She demonstrated an astonishing ability to pin-point just the right note no matter how fast the music went by.

But it wasn’t just the Olympian speed and technical challenges – double stops, rapid staccatos, glissandos, stratospheric high notes, and pizzicatos placed quickly between other notes – she did all of it with a superb artistic interpretation. She conveyed the emotional depths of “Tzigane” and the charming elegance and fire of the “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.” Her “Tzigane” plunged and soared, evoking the sorrows and joys of a gypsy. She commanded a marvelous palette of tones that ranged from edgy and almost gnawing to whispery light to full-bodied yet lyrical to clear as crystalline glass. Her flawless technique and artistry was just flat out mind boggling, and generated a genuine and heart-felt standing ovation from the audience.

While both the Ravel and Saint-Saëns had dance-like moments that Akiko Meyers brought out, the orchestra, under music director Salvador Brotons, extended the dance-theme in the second half of the concert with Rachmaninov’s “Symphonic Dances.” The full-ensemble showed lots of muscle and drive with the loud, dramatic sections. The softer passages worked well most of the time, allowing the lovely alto saxophone to shine in the first movement. The strings created a lush sound with concertmaster Eva Richey spinning a beautiful sound in the second, and the French horns added luster in the third. A little more tightening up with the dynamics and clearing up a couple of intonation problems in the woodwinds would have made the piece even more enjoyable.

Filling out the dance card on the concert program were two of Dvořák’s “Slavonic Dances.” The orchestra led off with the gentle and nostalgic No. 10 and then galloped ahead with the wild and carefree No. 1. Guided by Brotons, the musicians made the music swell and subside with grace in the No. 10, but the violins weren’t always together when they executed the light and fast jumps. The orchestra dove into the bold opening statement of No 1 with gusto and seemed to have fun doing it as well.

An added feature of the concert was a brief and violent rainstorm, which pounded the roof of the concert hall during part of first section of “Tzigane” while Meyers was mining the depths of the cadenza. But the pummeling sound didn’t deter her one bit, and she captivated the audience with her incisive playing. Also the harpist played her entry very well and the orchestra followed with sensitivity to accompany Meyers.

Today's Birthdays

Frantisek Tuma (1704-1774)
Henry Février (1875-1957)
Leroy Shield (1893-1962)
Francis Jackson (1917)
Mary Jeanne van Appledorn (1927-2014)
Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988)
Michel Plasson (1933)
Phill Niblock (1933)
Peter Frankl (1935)
Ton Koopman (1944)
Jonathan Summers (1946)

and

Mahatma Gandhi, (1869-1948)
Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
Groucho Marx (1890-1977)
Graham Greene (1904-1991)
Jan Morris (1926)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Today's Birthdays

J. Friedrich Eduard Sobolewski (1808-1872)
Henry Clay Work (1832-1884)
Paul Dukas (1865-1935)
Vladimir Horowitz (1904-1989)
Sylvano Bussotti (1931)

and

Jimmy Carter (1924)
Tim O'Brien (1946)

and from the Composers Datebook:

This day in 1924 marked the opening of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, funded by a gift of $12.5 million from the American patroness Mary Louise Curtis Bok, who had inherited her fortune from the Curtis Publishing Company. The faculty, providing instruction for 203 students, includes Leopold Stokowski and Josef Hofmann heading conducting and piano departments, respectively. Polish-born coloratura Marcella Sembrich. Hungarian violinist Carl Flesch. French-born harpist/composer Carlos Salzedo. and Italian composer Rosario Scalero.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Johann Svendsen (1840-1911)
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)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Preview of Vancouver Symphony concert with Anne Akiko Meyers in Columbian newspaper

My preview of this weekend's Vancouver Symphony concert appeared in today's edition of The Columbian newspaper here. I hope that you enjoy reading it.

Brilliant playing by Hadelich and Oregon Symphony opens the season

The first concert of the Oregon’s Symphony’s classical music series opened with an immaculate performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Grammy-award winner Augustin Hadelich as soloist. Attendance at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall was pretty solid, even for the Monday night concert that I attended (September 25). Portlanders have taken a liking to Hadelich, who has appeared with the orchestra twice before and also with Chamber Music Northwest. The program included a finely tuned performance of Morton Gould’s “Stringmusic” and a fiery finish with Mily Balakirev’s “Islamey.”

Hadelich’s impeccable technique made the Beethoven look easy peasy. His intonation was amazingly spot-on throughout the piece and his playing of the Kreisler sounded wonderfully refined yet heroic. The last movement seemed to fly by too quickly so that the warmth was gone. However, he brilliantly tossed off another finger-bending, wicked cadenza with mind-boggling ease and that gave the finale some extra zip. The audience erupted with applause that brought Hadelich back to the stage several times. He obliged the audience with an elegant encore, Paganini’s “Caprice No. 21,” handling its devilish combination of double stops and fast up-bow staccatos with tremendous expression and sensitivity.

The concert concluded with two pieces that the orchestra had never played before. The first, “Stringmusic,” which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Gould, featured five movements that received a taut and highly nuanced ensemble sound under the direction of Carlos Kalmar. In the “Prelude” movement, the violas echoed a lovely and somber statement from the cellos. The violins followed with a delicate, high wire act and the double-basses created gentle throbbing tones. The “Tango” began with a zing and zip before ending with a humorous stutter and lurch. Principal bassist Colin Corner played an elegant solo during the solemn “Dirge.” Part of the “Ballad” had a lightly rocking and slightly elegiac feel, which contrasted well with the lively barnyard dance in “Strum.”

The full-sized version of the orchestra filled the stage to play Alfredo Casella’s arrangement of Balakirev’s “Islamey.” Urged on by Kalmar, the musicians conjured a swirling, exotic vision. Excellent solos by concertmaster Sarah Kwak, principal cellist Nancy Ives, principal bassoonist Carin Miller Packwood, and English hornist Kyle Mustain accented the piece wonderfully. The speed of playing in the finale went faster and faster as if rolling down a steep hill and the last chord was glorious.

Additional note: “Stringmusic” was recorded for a CD that will be issued by the orchestra sometime in the near future.

Today's Birthdays

Jacques-Martin Hottetere (1674-1763)
Joaquin Nin (y Castellanos) (1879-1949)
Gene Autry (1907-1998)
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)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

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

Confusius (551 BCE - 479 BCE)
Caravaggio (1571-1610)
Kate Douglas Wiggin (1856-1923)
Edith Pargeter (1913-1995)
Simon Winchester (1944)

and

from the Composers Datebook

On this day in 1951, the Sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" opens in theaters across America, featuring memorable score by Bernard Herrmann that included eerie, other-worldly sounds imitating the electronic instrument known as a "Theremin" (after its Russian-born inventor, Leon Theremin). In the movie, actress Patricia Neal's rendition of the space alien command "Gort: Klaatu barada nikto" prevents Earth's destruction by a death-ray robot from outer space.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Cyril Scott (1879-1970)
Vincent Youmans (1898-1946)
Jean Berger (1909-2002)
Igor Kipnis (1930-2002)
Dame Josephine Barstow (1940)
Misha Dichter (1945)
Chris Merritt (1952)
Dimitry Sitkovetsky (1954)

and

Sir William Empson (1906-1984)
Joyce Johnson (1935)
Kay Ryan (1945)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

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.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Marvelous ”Two Yosemites” makes a passionate plea for the environment

Campsite setting of "Two Yosemites"
“Two Yosemites” proved to be a surprisingly fine opera that resonated with a large audience at the outdoor amphitheater of the Lewis and Clark Law School on Friday, September 15th. Written by Justin Ralls and presented by Opera Theater Oregon, “Two Yosemites” marvelously conveyed the story of a transformative camping trip in 1903 involving John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt that led to the creation of one of America’s most iconic national parks. Outstanding performances by Nicholas Meyer as Muir and Aaron Short as Roosevelt, combined deftly with a taut chamber ensemble, conducted by Ralls, to create 60 minute, one-act opera that was emotionally satisfying and not preachy.

Ralls, a young composer who is pursuing a doctorate in music at the University of Oregon, really outdid himself with “Two Yosemities,” his first foray into the world of opera. The music was mostly harmonic accompanied by a deft ability for word painting. He evocatively used the piccolo to depict the song of a thrush and used a colorful pallet to paint an array of outdoor scenes on an intimate or grand scale. When Muir waxed eloquently about the beauty of nature, the music became rhapsodic but never syrupy. When Roosevelt described his love of hunting and his disdain for political wrangling, his line became punchy and aggressive. Yet, neither man was a one-dimensional cartoon. Ralls gave each man emotions and a complexity that, we, in the audience, could identify with.

Short did a masterful job of communicating the vibrancy of Roosevelt. Strutting about the campfire with a cocksure attitude of a man of action, he mesmerized the audience with an expressive tenor could be edgy when needed and then quickly transition to a legato of Mozartian elegance.

Nicholas Meyer superbly captured Muir’s dignity and vision for the great outdoors with a calm demeanor that was an excellent counterweight to Roosevelt. Meyer’s beautiful mellow baritone was at its best in the upper range, but it needed a bit more bite when Muir confronted Roosevelt.

The chorus of four women (Joannah Ball, jena Viemeister, Jocelyn Claire-Thomas, and Catherine Olson) sounded terrific except that their text (from an American-Indian language) needed supertitles. All of the singers and the orchestra were amplified because of the bucolic outdoor setting, and for the most part, that worked very well. To top off the evening, the voices of tree frogs seemed to add to the applause after the opera concluded.

“Two Yosemites” is an opera that deserves to be heard again and again. Perhaps the Astoria Music Festival might product it. Hats off to Ralls for writing such a marvelous opera on his first try. I hope that he writes another one in the near future.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Nikolaus Hanff (1663-1711)
Jean-Phillippe Rameau (1683-1764)
Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897)
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)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893-1929)
Sir Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991)
Vaclav Nelhybel (1919-1996)
Cornell MacNeil (1922-2011)
Alfredo Kraus (1927-1999)
John Rutter (1945)
Marc Neikrug (1946)

and

Horace Walpole (1717-1797)
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
Eavan Boland (1944)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1947, German-born composer Hans Eisler is questioned about his former membership in the Communist Party by the House Committee on Un-American activities. Eisler had been a member of the Party in the 1920s, left Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933, and had been working in Hollywood on film scores and as the musical assistant to Charlie Chaplin. He left the U.S. in 1948 and settled in East Germany - where he composed that country's national anthem.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Jacques Féréol Mazas (1782-1849)
William Levi Dawson (1899-1990)
Jarmila Novotná (1907-1994)
Soulima Stravinsky (1910-1994)
Alexander Arutiunian (1920-2012)
Ray Charles (1930-2004)
John Coltrane (1926-1967)
Robert Helps (1928-2001)
Bruce Springsteen (1949)
William Shimell (1952)

and

Euripides (ca 480 BC - 406 BC) - today is the traditional day for Greeks to celebrate his birthday.
Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927)
Baroness Emmuska Orczy (1865-1947)
Walter Lippmann (1899-)
Jaroslav Seifert (1901-1986)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Ear Trumpet listing of concerts featuring new music

Courtesy of Bob Priest:

EAR TRUMPET
PDX New Music Calendar
Ensembles Edition
September 2017 - May 2018 Season

---------

SEPTEMBER
19 - 21: Third Angle
20: Creative Music Guild

---------

OCTOBER
4, 8 & 18: Creative Music Guild
9: Fear No Music
14: Cascadia Composers
19 & 20: Third Angle
21: Sound of Late
30: Fear No Music

---------

NOVEMBER
1: Creative Music Guild
3 & 18: Cascadia Composers
10 & 11: Third Angle
27: Fear No Music

---------

DECEMBER
Dark

---------

JANUARY
8: Fear No Music
11 & 12: Third Angle

---------

FEBRUARY
8 & 9: Third Angle
17: Cascadia Composers

---------

MARCH
5: Fear No Music
10: Sound of Late
14: Friends of Rain
23 - 25: March Music Moderne

---------

APRIL
12 & 13: Third Angle
29: Fear No Music

---------

MAY
7: Fear No Music
19: Sound of Late

=========

All dates are current as of 19 September

Please visit individual WEBSITES to double-check dates & for more info:

Cascadia Composers
cascadiacomposers.org

Creative Music Guild
creativemusicguild.org

Fear No Music
fearnomusic.org

Friends of Rain
https://college.lclark.edu/departments/music/ensembles/friends_of_rain/

March Music Moderne
marchmusicmoderne.org

Friends of Rain
https://college.lclark.edu/departments/music/ensembles/friends_of_rain/

March Music Moderne
marchmusicmoderne.org

Sound of Late
soundoflate.org

Third Angle
thirdangle.org

=========

ET's CD PICK OF THE SEASON:
Dobrinka Tabakova
String Paths
ECM New Series
ecmrecords.com

=========

WEST COAST TRAIL FESTSPIEL OF THE YEAR:
International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM)
World Music Days
2 - 8 November
Vancouver, BC, Canada
27 Concerts in 8 Venues
128 Composers from 48 Countries
iscm2017.ca

=========

Although this edition of ET is devoted to ensembles, groups & orgs that
focus exclusively on new music, there are others in PDX that sometimes
include new music on their programs:

Oregon Symphony
Portland Youth Philharmonic
Chamber Music Northwest
Friends of Chamber Music
Classical Revolution PDX
Arnica String Quartet
45th Parallel
Portland Piano International
PSU Music Dept
Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan
PDX Jazz Composers Ensemble
Resonance Ensemble
Mousai Remix
Agnieszka Laska Dancers
Portland Chamber Orchestra
Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Cappella Romana
Opera Theatre Oregon
Portland Opera
In Mulieribus
The Ensemble
 
 

Today's Birthdays

Arthur Pryor (1870-1942)
Mikolajus Ciurlionis (1875-1911)
Henryk Szeryng (1918-1988)
William O. Smith (1926)
Hugh Bean (1929-2003)
Leonardo Balada (1933)
Anna Tomowa-Sintow (1941)
John Tomlinson (1946)
Vladmir Ghernov (1953)
Michael Torke (1961)

and

Fay Weldon (1931)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Music critic in Cincinnati gets the pink slip

Musical America has reported that veteran music critic at the Cincinnati Enquirer has been laid off. Janelle Gelfand, who has worked at the paper for 26 years, lost her job on Tuesday. Musical America is a subscription-based magazine, but you can read about it in the Facebook pages for Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Opera.

Today's Birthdays

François Francoeur (1698-1787)
Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791)
Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
Meinrad Schütter (1910-2006)
Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)
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)
Stephen King (1941)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Ildebrando Pizzetti (1880-1968)
Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton (1885-1941)
Uuno Klami (1900-1961)
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)
Stevie Smith (1902-1971)
Donald Hall (1928)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1954, Stravinsky: "In Memoriam Dylan Thomas," premiered in Los Angeles, conducted by Robert Craft. Stravinsky had met the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas the previous year, and they had discussed collaborating on an opera project, but Thomas died on November 9, 1953.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

George Takei hosts the Oregon Symphony's season opening.

George Takei
Photo: AP/Victoria Will
The Oregon Symphony opened its 2017-18 season Saturday night, September 16, with guest host and narrator George Takei introducing an evening of old favorites and American classics.

Portland seemed thrilled to have Takei in the house, known not only for his role as helmsman Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek but also as a pop culture icon and fighter for human rights. The opening piece was Beethoven's Egmont Overture; appropriately grandiose and stentorian (a suitable opening motif for an entire season), the OSO executed ably as the work graduated into a heroic gallop to the finish.

The second work was an OSO premier of Twill by Twilight, by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu.  Set in the form of a tone poem, Takei mentioned that on a personal note he considered the work an elegy for his cousin and aunt who died in the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. The work contained many harsh dissonances that were somehow rendered mellow in effect by the subdued timbre. The symphony imparted to the work a strange dream-like quality, somehow hypnotic and vaguely unsettling simultaneously.

Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks was next, and the orchestra was clearly having fun with this one. Consistently marvelous sound production from the winds throughout the work and a short but brilliant solo from concertmaster Sarah Kwak highlighted this piece, which unfortunately suffered from an out-of-balance brass choir that completely subsumed everything else during the fortissimos.

The second half started with Liszt's Les Preludes, a well-played chestnut, with a properly Jovian crescendo during the famous theme. Morton Gould's American Salute was bombastic and brassy, a spritely set of interesting variations on the folk tune 'Johnny come marching home.' With this well-known tune as the whole basis of the work it could have been dull and uninteresting; however Kalmar and the OSO managed to infuse this oddly peripatetic work with great imagination.

The highlight of the evening was Copland's Lincoln Portrait, an iconic work well known to filmgoers as the opening theme from Saving Private Ryan. This iconic composition required a keen insight into the emotional as well as acoustical dynamics--alternately bold and statesmanlike, small and folksy--and the OSO got this one just right. Takei's rich baritone in the text reading, as well as his stature as an American who has been through some of the worst and best this nation has to offer, lent the work a splendid sense of decorum and purpose, the final ingredients required to make this piece perfect.

Oregon Bach Festival mess reaches the New York Times

The New York Times has reported on the recent OBF mess here. Also Bob Hicks of the Oregon Arts Watch has written his thoughts on the matter here. The Eugene Register-Guard has printed an astute opinion piece here. Music insider Norman Lebrecht has issued his thoughts on Slipped Disc here.

Thanks to Mark Mandel and Bob Priest for forwarding some of these links.

Today's Birthdays

Gustav Schirmer (1829-1893)
Allan Pettersson (1911-1980)
Kurt Sanderling (1912-2011)
Blanche Thebom (1918-2010)
Arthur Wills (1926)
Bonaventura Bottone (1950)

and

William Golding (1911-1993)
Amalia Hernández (1917-2000)
Roger Angell (1920)

Monday, September 18, 2017

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)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870)
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)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Paul Taffanel (1844-1908)
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)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1920, Italian tenor Enrico Caruso makes his last records (selections by Meyerbeer, Lully, Bartlett, and Rossini) for Victor Records in Camden, New Jersey. He would make his last operatic appearance at the old Metropolitan Opera House on Christmas Eve in 1920 (an evening performance of Halevy's "La Juive"), and die the following summer in Naples.

On this day in 1977, opera diva Maria Callas dies of a heart attack, age 53, in Paris.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Upshot of the Oregon Bach Festival debacle

The immediate upshot of the termination of Matthew Halls as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival is that the festival's executive director Janelle McCoy is left with a chaotic mess. Now she has to find someone who is will to curate next year's festival and she has to do the fund raising. Imagine trying to rally the OBF board, which has been thoroughly run over by the U of O. This is going to be one tough act of McCoy to deal with.

Today's Birthdays

Horatio William Parker (1863-1919)
Bruno Walter (1876-1962)
Frank Martin (1890-1974)
Henry Brant (1913-2008)
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)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

U of O and Halls sign settlement

This morning's Register-Guard story states that Halls has signed a settlement with the U of O for 90k and will not sue the university in regards to his termination from the Oregon Bach Festival.

Thanks again to Mark Mandel for keeping us informed with the latest.

Today's Birthdays

Michael Haydn (1737-1806)
Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842)
Vittorio Gui (1885-1972)
Alice Tully (1902-1993)
Lehman Engel (1910-1982)
Rolf Liebermann (1910-1999)
Martyn Hill (1944)
Raul Gimenez (1950)

and

Eric Bentley (1916)
Ivan Klíma (1931)
Barbara Grizzuti Harrison (1934-2002)
Renzo Piano (1937)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1973, the Philadelphia Orchestra gives a concert in Beijing, the first American orchestra to perform in Red China. Eugene Ormandy conducts symphonies by Mozart (No. 35), Brahms (No. 1) and the American composer Roy Harris (No. 3).

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Newspaper editorial asks U of O to come clean with Halls firing

This editorial in the Eugene Register-Guard asks for the University of Oregon to tell the truth about the firing of Matthew Halls from the Oregon Bach Festival. I suspect that the UO administration will not do this and will take its chances with its new curated festival, unloading whatever the "curator" comes up with and then having to sell it like mad to an uncommitted audience.

Update: Today, the U of O has made an official response in the Register-Guard here, but it contains no real explanation of Halls' dismissal.

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)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Karl Doppler (1825-1900)
Herbert Lincoln Clarke (1867-1945)
Ernst Pepping (1901-1981)
Gideon Waldrop (1919-2000)
Tatiana Troyanos (1938-1993)
Phillip Ramey (1939)
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)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1910, Mahler's Symphony No. 8 ("Symphony of a Thousand") received its premiere in Munich, with the composer conducting.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cathartic moment missing in Steve Jobs opera

Edward Parks | Photo credit: Ken Howard
The buzz from a standing-room-only crowd charged-up the atmosphere at Santa Fe Opera with heightened anticipation on the opening night (July 22) of “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs,” the first-ever opera written by American composer Mason Bates. Blending electronic and acoustic styles, Bates told the story of one of the most iconic figures in modern technology in a way that was engaging and easy to digest but still came up short. Sure the 90-minute, one-act opera succinctly conveyed that Jobs was a prime mover in the technological revolution, especially in regards to the smart phone, but I was not totally convinced that he evolved all that much from a hard-driving jerk to a real person. The opera didn’t have a big cathartic moment, so the emotional impact at the end – when Jobs accepted death – was stunted.

With a libretto written by Pulitzer-prize-winner Mark Campbell, “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” effectively used a series of scenes to jump forwards and backwards in time to relate the life of the brilliant and complex man. The first vignette took channeled back to Jobs’s childhood when his father gave him a tool box to make things. The next scene travelled to the 2007 product launch of the iPhone (called “one device” in the opera in order to avoid trademark litigation) and later scenes took place at Reed College, an apple orchard, the Los Altos Zen Center, Apple offices in Cupertino, Yosemite National Park, and the Stanford University Chapel. Along the way, we learned how Jobs drove himself and others ruthlessly, got married, became ill with cancer, and accepted his mortality, reconciling it all with his Buddhist faith.
Garrett Sorenson and Edward Parks | Photo credit: Ken Howard
Edward Parks portrayed Jobs exceptionally well, singing with vigor that you would expect from a Silicon Valley mogul. The audience – which had a lot of Apple enthusiasts – gave him thunderous applause when he stepped out on stage to promote the “one device” – almost as if he were the real Steve Jobs. Sasha Cooke in the role of Jobs’s wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Wei Wu in the role of Jobs’s spiritual mentor, Kōbun Chino Otogawa, created a steadying, warm, and thoughtful presence that became a counterweight to Jobs’s high-octane drive. Garrett Sorenson added some humor yet packed plenty of gutsy punch as Steve Wozniak, who co-invented the original Apple products with Jobs. Jessica Jones had all too brief a turn as Chrisann Brennan, the girlfriend of Jobs, and Kelly Markgraf had just the right amount of depth in voice and presence as Paul Jobs, the father of Steve Jobs.

Bates took full advantage with this opera to demonstrate his prowess in merging electronic and acoustic sounds. That meant, of course, that the voices would be amplified in order to be heard over the loudest sections. I am not a fan of voices that have been boosted artificially, but I have to admit that Santa Fe Opera did an outstanding job with the mics. Bates, himself, took a position in the orchestra, as master-on-the-fly mixer of the electronica. Michael Christie managed to conduct the musical enterprise outstandingly. The music was tinged with minimalism, especially whenever technology was described, but whenever the story tackled human relationships, Bates found his lyric side, which was refreshing.
Edward Parks and Jessica Jones | Photo credit: Ken Howard
Kevin Newberry’s stage directions worked well to reveal some truth of each character so that the audience didn’t get lost with all of the scene and time changes. It seemed that Newberry was limited by the libretto since there was no dramatic way to convey the evolution part of the story. The scenes, designed by Victoria “Vita” Tzykun were superb – with the best ones that depicted the “one device” launch and situations in the high tech world.
Wei Wu and Edward Parks | Photo credit Ken Howard
Bates and Campbell did fairly well with boiling down the story of a complex and driven man to create the opera, which was not meant to be a documentary, but in doing so, they had to leave out a lot of information about Jobs (such as the paternity lawsuit that he lost over the child that he had with Brennan) that might have helped to generate a bigger emotional lift or descent at the end. As an extra note of interest, after the opera, I talked with some Apple workers and found out that they revered Jobs to this day because he returned to Apple and saved the company. They were disappointed that the opera didn’t mention that. For them, he would always be a hero.
Edward Parks and Sasha Cooke | Photo credit: Ken Howard
In any case, because Santa Fe Opera co-produced “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” with San Francisco Opera and Seattle Opera, it will surely be tweaked and presented again by those opera companies.

Today's Birthdays

William Boyce (1711-1779)
Friedrich Kuhlau (1786-1832)
Eduard Hanslick (1825-1904)
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)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Henry Purcell (1659-1695)
Niccolò Jommelli (1714-1774)
Tor Aulin (1866-1914)
Mikolajus Ciurlionis (1875-1911)
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)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Univesity of Oregon gave Halls more money and new contract before firing him

This Eugene Register Guard report states that the U of O gave Matthew Halls a pay raise and a new four-year contract in June before firing him in August. So something went very sour in a hurry.

And now this report from The Telegraph in the UK. If that is true, then the matter should be cleared up and Halls reinstated.  Note that Bob Keefer in the Eugene Weekly had mentioned the same gossipy incident as a possible reason.

A thank you to Mark Mandel for alerting me of these articles (including the earlier ones in the Eugene Weekly).

Today's Birthdays

Joan Cererols (1618-1680)
Edwin Lemare (1865-1934)
Edward Burlingame Hill (1872-1960)
James Blades (1901-1999)
Olly Wilson (1937)
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)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1995 was the premiere of Michael Torke's "Telephone Book" for chamber ensemble (consisting of "The Yellow Pages" from 1985 and two new pieces: "The Blue Pages" and "The White Pages" composed in 1995), at the Milwaukee Art Museum by the Present Music ensemble, Kevin Stalheim conducting.

Friday, September 8, 2017

More views on OBF and the Matthew Halls firing

You can area two of the latest opinion pieces in the Eugene Register Guard here and here.  Both pieces raise serious questions about the future of the Oregon Bach Festival in light of the dismissal of Matthew Halls.

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)

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Today's Birthdays

François Philidor (1726-1794)
Joan Cross (1900-1993)
Sir Harry Secombe (1921-2001)
Arthur Ferrante (1921-2009)
Madeleine Dring (1923-1977)
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)

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

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)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Brenda Rae in her element in Santa Fe’s Lucia di Lammermoor

Brenda Rae | Photo credit Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera
Santa Fe Opera’s production of Donizetti’s “Lucia de Lammermoor” (July 21) received a stellar performance from Brenda Rae in the title role. The Grammy-nominated soprano sang with superb control, relying on coloring and shading of vocal lines, yet always having plenty of power to create astounding dramatic moments. The best was Lucia’s mad scene, eerily enhanced by the wonderfully nuanced playing of the glass harmonica by Friedrich Heinrich Kern, which brought down the house. In addition to Rae, the production featured a very strong cast but seemed pushed a little far afield by the stage directions of Ron Daniels.

Zachary Nelson’s stentorian voice embraced the character of Lucia’s wicked brother Enrico with obsessive determination. His visceral expressiveness was matched equally well by Mario Chang in the role of Lucia’s lover Edgardo. Christian Van Horn’s basso profundo terrifically anchored the countenance of Chaplain Raimondo. Sarah Coit wonderfully conveyed steadfast yet cautionary advice as Lucian’s companion Alisa. Stephen Martin’s Normanno supported Enrico with loyal fervor. Carlos Santelli fulfilled the role of the bridegroom who was murdered by Lucia on their wedding night. Because of the excellent casting, all of the ensemble numbers, including the famous sextet at the ill-fated wedding, were stunning.
Mario Chang and Zachary Nelson| Photo credit Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera
The oddities in this production began in third scene, which was set in Lucia’s bedroom rather than in Enrico’s apartment at Lammermoor Castle. This heightened the idea that Enrico was in charge of Lucia’s body and sexuality and therefore her marriage. But it had a strain of creepiness, especially when Enrico sat on Lucia’s bed as if it were his. Somehow, it seemed a stretch that Lucia would have allowed him to prowl around her chambers with that kind of familiarity. Enrico’s obsessiveness boiled over at the end when he kills Edgardo. So Edgardo does not kill himself as the story states.

Also under Daniels’ direction, the chorus seemed completely disengaged when the blood-stained Lucia appeared in front of them. No one showed any sign of shock or surprise even briefly. It was as if they expected her to join them in a merry glass of brandy.

The scenic design of Riccardo Hernandez featured high walls on three sides of the stage, which conveyed the imposing yet prison-like confinement of the castes. But projections designed by Peter Nigrini that should have presented the outdoor scenes were not effective. Lighting designed by Christopher Akerlind deftly evoked a fountain of blood when Lucia related her dream of a murdered young woman.

The orchestra, led by Corrando Rovaris, sounded terrific, balancing deftly the voices throughout the evening, The star of the orchestra, though, was Kern, who is a magician with the glass harmonica.

Bottom line, Brenda Rae was in her element as Lucia. She has been making a name for herself in European opera houses and hopefully she will be back in the States soon.

Christian Van Horn and Opera Chorus | Photo credit Ken Howard for Santa Fe Opera

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

Frank Yerby (1916-)
Justin Kaplan (1925-2014)
Ward Just (1935)
Jonathan Kozol (1936)

Monday, September 4, 2017

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)

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Adriano Banchieri (1568-1634)
Pietro Locatelli (1695-1764)
Marcel Grandjany (1891-1975)
Francesco Mignon (1897-1986)
Robert Thurston Dart (1921-1971)
Rudolf Kelterborn (1931)
Valerie Coleman (1970)

and

Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909)
Louis H. Sullivan (1852-1924)
Sally Benson (1897-1972)
Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)
Alison Lurie (1926)
Loren Eiseley (1907-1977)
Malcolm Gladwell (1963)
Kiran Desai (1971)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Santa Fe's "Golden Cockerl" still has a pointed message

Gimadieva and Mix | Photo by Ken Howard
Using a humorous approach and vibrant imagery, Santa Fe Opera’s production of “The Golden Cockerl” (July 19) showed that a fairly obscure opera can pack a punch, especially in regards to today’s political scene. Written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1909 to a libretto by Vladimir Belsky after a tale by Pushkin based on stories by Washington Irving, the “The Golden Cockerl” was not some insignificant fantasy. It was meant by the composer to be protest the Tsar and the direction of Russia following a disastrous war with Japan in 1905. Rimsky-Kosakov, in fact, as the director of the St. Petersburg Conservatory (Russia’s most prestigious musical academy) had protested the arrest of students during the 1905 Revolution and was consequently fired. As the Santa Fe Opera’s program notes (written by Inna Naroditskaya) pointed out, Rimsky-Korsakov wrote “The Golden Cockerl” because he was embittered with the imperial authority and its censors demanded revisions, but he refused any alteration. As a result, the premiere of his opera was banned and it was staged a year after his death (in 1908).

In the Santa Fe production of “The Golden Cockerl,” it was easy to interpret Tsar Dodon as Donald Trump – a self-declared autocratic, narcissistic ruler – who must climb-crawl like a child onto his oversized throne-chair. Baritone Tom Mix wonderfully conveyed the ineptness and bone-headedness of the Tsar. Tsar Dodon was matched by his sons: Prince Guidon (Richard Smagur) and Prince Afron (Jorge Espino) who managed to kill each other in an attempt to defeat the army of The Queen of Shemakha (Venera Gimadieva). And you could read Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. into the roles of Prince Guidon and Prince Afron if you wanted.

Although she started with slightly wayward intonation, Venera Gimadieva’s singing became very secure and enticing – as was her visual presence in the role of The Queen of Shemaka. She was accompanied by ten of the most comely attendants (apprentice singers of Santa Fe Opera) that I have ever seen. Mix’s voice needed a little more Russian heft in the basement department, but Meredith was absolutely golden as the housekeeper Amelfa, singing with a big, busty tone and acting with impeccable comic timing.

Kevin Burdette exhibited a terrific sense of military earnestness and a humorous bravado as General Polkan. Barry Banks created a stunningly effective Astrologer, handling all of the punishing tenor altino passages with élan. After Tsar Dodon dies, his character gets the queen who elegantly wears sunglasses and a modern white pants suite a la Melania Trump.

Kasia Borowiec’s high cries of warning in the role of The Golden Cockerl were spot on, but she had to sing from off stage. That’s because The Golden Cockerl was an image that was projected onto a slightly curved wall on the left side of the stage. The projected design, created by Driscoll Otto, worked pretty well but fell short during the scene when the Cockerl killed Tsar Dodon, because Dodon had to fall against the wall. That limitation marred the outstanding direction of Paul Curran a bit. Gary McCann’s slightly garish costumes – a blend of traditional and modern – and the scenic design worked well for the most part.

The Santa Fe Opera orchestra responded well to the expressive baton of Emmanuel Vilaume. The chorus was well prepared by Susanne Sheston and sounded terrific.

It should be noted that The Golden Cockerl” was co-produced by Santa Fe Opera and The Dallas Opera where Villaume is music director. It will be presented in Dallas in the near future. Perhaps it will still have some political zing. Time will tell.

Today's Birthdays

George Böhm (1661-1733)
Alphons Diepenbrock (1862-1921)
Laurindo Almeida (1917-1995)
David Blake (1936)
Greg A. Steinke (1942)
John Zorn (1953)
Paul Goodwin (1956)

and

Eugene Field (1850-1895)
Joseph Roth (1894-1939)
Grady Nutt (1934-1982)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Oregon Bach Festival debacle updates

In this article, Bob Keefer of the Eugene Weekly has dug deeper to find out why Matthew Halls was fired as the artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival. It seems that the firing came through someone on the University Oregon side of things and not from the OBF board. In the meantime, in this Eugene Weekly article, Thomas Morris, the artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival, has openly questioned the OBF's new direction to have a festival that is curated by different people each year, stating that you still have to have an artistic director for overall vision.

Bottom line: things look very shaky for the OBF right now.

PS: Those who want to learn more about Halls can read my interview with him here.

Today's Birthdays

Emanuel Schikaneder (1751-1812)
Engelbert Humperdinck (1854-1921)
Othmar Schoeck (1886-1957)
Conway Twitty (1933-1993)
Seiji Ozawa (1935)
Júlia Várady (1941)
Leonard Slatkin (1944)
Reza Vali (1952)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

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."

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Ernesto Cavallini (1807-1874)
George Frederick Root (1820-1895)
Buddy Rich (1917-1987)
Regina Resnik (1922-2013)
David Maslanka (1943-1917)
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)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Oregon Bach Festival terminates the contract of artistic director Matthew Halls

The Eugene Weekly and the Register-Guard report that Matthew Halls has has been fired from his position as the artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival. Halls was only in the second year of a four-year contract with the festival; so the news is quite stunning. In a press release, the OBF states that it is switching to a programming that will be guest-curated.  Guest-curators can certainly be less expensive than an artistic director, but they can also be very hit-and-miss with no real vision for the festival and its future. The departure of Halls must surely be a blow to the Berwick Academy, a high-level period-music-institute for young professionals, especially in light of the fact that the Academy will be opening the doors to its new building in October.

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)

Monday, August 28, 2017

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)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
Eric Coates (1886-1957)
Lester Young (1909-1959)
Barry Conyngham (1944) 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)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Willem de Fesch (1687-1761)
Luis Delgadillio (1887-1961)
Arthur Loesser (1894-1969)
Humphrey Searle (1915-1981)
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)

Friday, August 25, 2017

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)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Alessandro Marcello (1669-1747)
Théodore Dubois (1837-1924)
Bernhard Heiden (1910-2000)
Niels Viggo Bentzon (1919-2000)
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.

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1968, Czech conductor and composer Rafael Kubelik launches an appeal to world musicians to boycott performances in the five nations which invaded Czechoslovakia on August 20-21 until their military forces evacuate the country. The appeal was joined by Igor Stravinsky, Arthur Rubinstein, Yehudi Menuhin, Otto Klemperer, Bernard Haitink, Claudio Arrau, and others.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1934, the Berkshire Symphonic Festival in was founded in Stockbridge, Mass., by American composer and conductor Henry Hadley, with the participation of the New York Philharmonic. The Festival later became associated with the Boston Symphony under Serge Koussevitzky.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Josef Strauss (1827-1870)
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)

Monday, August 21, 2017

List of reccommended concerts in The Oregonian

My article on recommended concerts for the fall is can be read on Oregonlive here. It will be in the printed edition this weekend.

Review in Opera magazine

My review of Monteverdi's madrigals as produced by Portland Opera in "Songs of Love and War" from February appeared in the August edition of Opera magazine (page 1043).

Today's Birthdays

Lili Boulanger (1893-1918)
Count (William) Basie (1904-1984)
Tommy Reilly (1919-2000)
Willhelm Killmayer (1927)
Gregg Smith (1931-2016)
Dame Janet Baker (1933)

and

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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Today's Birthdays

William Henry Fry (1881-1864)
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)

Friday, August 18, 2017

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.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival - this weekend

From the press release - note that the concert on Sunday is already sold out -

Portland, Ore. – July 5th, 2017 – After its sold out inaugural 2016 season, the Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival is pleased to announce its second season in August of 2017. This year, the festival features world-renowned composer, Gabriela Lena Frank, as composer-in-residence, and will highlight several of Frank’s works alongside masterpieces by Beethoven, Corelli, Mozart, Dvorak, Brahms and acclaimed Oregon composer Kenji Bunch.

By bringing world class chamber music into one-of-a-kind, intimate winery spaces, the Festival is bringing together extraordinary wine and music, creating a unique concert experience that enhances the beauty and craft of both. In 2017, the Festival is again partnering with J. Christopher Wines and Elk Cove Vineyards to present performances and wine pairings that celebrate the creativity and beauty of each.

Performance Details
• Friday, August 18th at 8pm at J. Christopher – we’ll feature music of Corelli, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Dvorak
• Saturday, August 19th at 4pm at J. Christopher – we’ll include music of Mozart, Frank, and Beethoven followed by an added bonus of food, wine and an evening jazz performance in the winery’s newly completed tasting room and beautiful terrace featuring J. Christopher owner and wine maker Jay Somers on guitar with his jazz trio.
• Then, on Sunday August 20th at 2pm, we’ll be nestled back into the gorgeous hillside vistas of Elk Cove to bring you vibrant works by Gabriela Frank and Kenji Bunch, and Brahms’ gorgeous G Major string sextet.

Programming Inspiration
This year’s programming explores the connections between time and place, evoking the many
ways winemakers draw on vintage and terroir to shape fine wines. From the Italian Baroque of Corelli to the romanticism of Dvorak’s “American” Quartet and the Peruvian-spiced innovations of Gabriela Lena Frank, listeners (with glass in hand) will be taken on a moving journey of sight, sound and taste.

Performances will showcase internationally acclaimed musicians, including violinists Sasha Callahan, Greg Ewer and Megumi Stohs Lewis; violist Kenji Bunch; and cellist Leo Eguchi. Tickets and more details are available now at www.wvchambermusic.org. $40 general admission and $20 for members of each hosting winery’s wine club. Tickets for each concert include a three-wine tasting paired with each program.

“Oregon is a special place, one that sparks incredible creativity and craft in countless places and forms,” said Sasha Callahan, violinist and festival co-founder. “In no place is that more evident than in the Willamette Valley, one of the most fertile and beautiful parts of Oregon. Our vision is to complement and add to the incredible wine and food that’s grown here with a series of concerts that allow people to experience wine and music in informal, intimate settings.”

“Music, like wine, comes to life in unique ways when enjoyed live, in the company of others,” said Leo Eguchi, cellist and festival co-founder. “Yet it’s not often that audiences are given an opportunity to savor them together. That special sense of community inspired this festival and we’re excited to bring world-class music and performances to Oregon wine country again this summer.”

Today's Birthdays

Henri Tomasi (1901-1971)
Abram Chasins (1903-1987)
George Melly (1926-2007)
T.J. (Thomas Jefferson) Anderson (1928)
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."

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

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)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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)
Denise Chávez (1948)
Stieg Larsson (1954)

and from the Composers Datebook:

Today Johannes Nepomuk Maelzel (1772-1848), German inventor credited with the creation of the metronome, was born in Regensburg. For a time he was the friend of Beethoven and collaborated with him on various projects.

Monday, August 14, 2017

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)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

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)

Friday, August 11, 2017

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)