Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Martini (1706-1784)
Charles O'Connell (1900-1962)
Violet Archer (1913-2000)
John Williams (1941) - guitarist
Barbara Streisand (1942)
Norma Burrowes (1944)
Ole Edvard Antonsen (1962)
Augusta Read Thomas (1964)
Catrin Finch (1980)

and

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)
Willem De Kooning (1904-1997)
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)
Stanley Kauffmann (1916-2013)
Sue Grafton (1940)
Clare Boylan (1948-2006)
Eric Bogosian (1953)
Judy Budnitz (1973)

From the former Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1800, the Library of Congress was established. In a bill that provided for the transfer of the nation's capital from Philadelphia to Washington, Congress included a provision for a reference library containing "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress — and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein ..." The library was housed in the Capitol building, until British troops burned and pillaged it in 1814. Thomas Jefferson offered as a replacement his own personal library: nearly 6,500 books, the result of 50 years' worth of "putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science."

First opened to the public in 1897, the Library of Congress is now the largest library in the world. It houses more than 144 million items, including 33 million catalogued books in 460 languages; more than 63 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of films, legal materials, maps, sheet music, and sound recordings.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Robert Fayrfax (1464-1521)
Andrea Luchesi (1741-1801)
Ruggiero Leoncavallo (1857-1919)
Arthur Farwell (1872-1952)
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Jean Françaix (1912-1997)
Alicia de Larrocha (1923-2009)
Robert Moog (1934-2005)
Roy Orbison (1936-1988)
Joel Feigin (1951)

and

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
James Patrick (J. P.) Donleavy (1926)
Coleman Barks (1937)
Barry Hannah (1942-2010)
Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

From the former Writer's Almanac:

Today is the birthday of Roy Orbison (1936), born in Vernon, Texas. One day, during a songwriting session with his partner Bill Dees, Orbison asked his wife, Claudette Frady Orbison, if she needed any money for her upcoming trip to Nashville. Dees remarked, “Pretty woman never needs any money.” Forty minutes later, Orbison’s most famous hit, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” had been written.

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1993, Morten Lauridsen's "Les Chanson des Roses"(five French poems by Rilke) for mixed chorus and piano was premiered by the Choral Cross-Ties ensemble of Portland, Ore., Bruce Browne conducting.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709)
Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944)
Eric Fenby (1906-1997)
Kathleen Ferrier (1912-1953)
Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999)
Charles Mingus 1922-1979)
Michael Colgrass (1932)
Jaroslav Krcek (1939)
Joshua Rifkin (1944)
Peter Frampton (1950)
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (1956)

and

Henry Fielding (1707-1754)
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
Louise Glück (1943)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this date in 2001, the Philharmonic Hungarica gives its final concert in Düsseldorf. The orchestra was founded by Hungarian musicians who fled to West Germany after the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. For London/Decca Records the Philharmonic Hungarica made the first complete set of all of Haydn's symphonies under the baton of its honorary president, the Hungarian-American conductor Antal Dorati.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Randall Thompson (1899-1984)
Leonard Warren (1911-1960)
Bruno Maderna (1920-1973)
Locksley Wellington 'Slide' Hampton (1932)
Easley Blackwood (1933) Lionel Rogg (1936)
John McCabe (1939-2015)
Iggy Pop (1947)
Richard Bernas (1950)
Melissa Hui (1966)

and

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
John Muir (1838-1914)
Elaine May (1932)
Nell Freudenberger (1975)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1937, Copland's play-opera for high school "The Second Hurricane," was premiered at the Grand Street Playhouse in New York City, with soloists from the Professional Children's School, members of the Henry Street Settlement adult chorus, and the Seward High School student chorus, with Lehman Engle conducting and Orson Welles directing the staged production. One professional adult actor, Joseph Cotten, also participated (He was paid $10).

Friday, April 20, 2018

Bach's Mass in B Minor reaches heavenward inTrinity Music and PBO performance

Guest review by Phillip Ayers

What a joy it was to be in attendance at the first performance of the “Bach B Minor” that Trinity Music and the Portland Baroque Orchestra performed on Friday (April 13). Trinity Cathedral was packed to the brim. It would be interesting to find out from attendees what, exactly, were their reasons for being there. As Canon Matthew Lawrence remarked in his opening welcome, “This is a sacred space.” And sacred spaces are for anyone. All are welcome! So, whether or not this was a “spiritual” experience, as it certainly was for me, or not, it was an honor to be with all the others Friday.

This monumental work was presented with an intermission, which no doubt was a practical consideration; but I would have preferred an uninterrupted performance. Sure, it would be a long time in a sitting position, but the whole thing is “of a piece.” A few weeks ago, the Oregon Symphony performed Verdi’s "Requiem" without an intermission and I didn’t hear any complaints in the restroom afterwards!

The arrangement for a large-scale work such as this in a worship-space is problematical and this was coped with rather well. The soloists had to move forward from a side position when they sang, and members of the choir had to reposition themselves from their seats to where they would sing. But none of this was distracting. At first, I thought that moving the altar to one side, as it is for organ recitals sometimes, and having all the performers on the altar-level would have been better for the overall performance. But the acoustic is such that, if the choir are forward, the effect is better for the listener in the nave. Visibility of the performers was difficult as well. But, the altar stayed in place, thus emphasizing that the “B Minor,” concert-piece that it is, is very much a mystical, spiritual experience and calls for an appropriate setting.

Bruce Neswick, Canon for Cathedral Music at Trinity, introduced the performance and its conductor, David Hill, conductor of the Yale Schola Cantorum and the Bach Choir of London, as well as other distinguished positions in Leeds and Bournemouth. In doing so, Canon Neswick mentioned that it was a performance of the "Bach B Minor Mass" by the Bach Choir in 1847 that heralded the revival of this massive work.

For me, openings of large choral works always thrill and the opening of the Bach when the tenors begin the massive fugue in the Kyrie is no exception. It reminds me of the opening of the "Mozart Requiem" with the clarinet’s pungent introduction to the choral exclamations of Requiem aeternam and Kyrie. I sat mesmerized and almost in tears. The careful enunciation of the text, taken up by the altos, then the first sopranos, then the second sopranos, and finally the basses, etched an indelible impression upon me.

The care that singers and players gave to the entire production was admirable, and many things stand out. First, the singers: all five soloists were outstanding. The two sopranos, Trinity’s own Arwen Myers and Estelí Gomez sparkled especially in their duet in Christe eleison, German tenor Nils Neubert shone in the Benedictus and the bass Jesse Blumberg stood in the pulpit for Quoniam tu solus sanctus, declaiming the Most High in an expressive fashion. He also executed the wide range necessary to sing Et in Spiritum Sanctum in the Credo. Countertenor Daniel Moody’s crisp, clear (and high!) blessed instrument rang out in all of his arias. The whole ensemble alternated with the choir, providing a wonderful contrast in two places in the score.

Members of the Portland Baroque Orchestra were at their best, accompanying the Trinity Choir and the soloists, carefully tuning often. The solo violin (Carla Moore) in Laudamus te, playing 32nd notes with great ease, was a complement to the excellent singing of the soprano. Janet See, playing a wooden transverse flute, stood out in the Benedictus. But the surprise of the evening was hearing—and seeing—Andrew Clark play a corno da caccia in the Quoniam. This remarkable instrument has a bell that seems like it is a mile from the rest of the horn, and Clark played from memory using only his embouchure (lips, as there are no valves) to bring off this difficult music.

As a choir singer myself, I’m always on the lookout for how a choir works with a conductor, particularly one who is a guest, such as Mr Hill. The choir was expertly prepared by Canon Neswick and his assistants, Christopher Lynch and Arwen Myers (one of the soprano soloists) well in advance of this performance. Hill had only three rehearsals last week before the first performance to bring his particular skill and expertise to the group, and the final result was stupendous. It was noticeable that a few times the conductor pointed to his eye as though to signal the chorus to watch him more closely, and a few singers were careful about that. However, having sung this work before, I would have to say, “This is a lot of music!” It is also complex and requires the utmost in attentiveness to notes, dynamics, shaping of sound, and the conductor’s requirements. So, noses in music result! It must also be said that this choir is made up of both professional singers, many of whom are salaried, and “your regular amateur” singer. (Remember that “amateur” means “lover.”) Also, the choir had just come off of a heavy Holy Week and Easter schedule, singing for all the liturgies that go with it.

A small omission in the program was that of the organists’ names who played with the continuo: none other than Bruce Neswick and Chris Lynch.

Two outstanding moments come immediately to mind to acknowledge the choir’s hard work: (1) Crucifixus was stunningly sung, the ending quietly elegant; (2) Dona nobis pacem at the work’s conclusion was glorious. During this movement, I was immediately reminded of two recent events, one global and the other local. The global: President Trump’s announcement that very day (Friday) of the missile strikes in Syria; the local: carrying my sign at the March 24 anti-gun demonstration downtown which read: “Dona Nobis Pacem!” Give us peace, now and always!

Today's Birthdays

Nikolai Miaskovsky (1881-1950)
Lionel Hampton (1908-2002)
Christopher Robinson (1936)
John Eliot Gardiner (1943)
Robert Kyr (1952)

and

Pietro Aretino (1492-1556)
Harold Lloyd (1893-1971)
Joan Miró (1893-1983)
Sebastian Faulks (1953)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1928, in Paris, the first public demonstration of an electronic instrument invented by Maurice Martenot called the "Ondes musicales" took place. The instrument later came to be called the "Ondes Martenot," and was included in scores by Milhaud, Messiaen, Jolivet, Ibert, Honegger, Florent Schmitt and other 20th century composers.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Alexandre Pierre François Boëly (1785-1858)
Max von Schillings (1868-1933)
Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)
Ruben Gonzalez (1919-2003)
Dudley Moore (1935-2002)
Bernhard Klee (1936)
Kenneth Riegel (1938)
Jonathan Tunick (1938)
David Fanshawe (1942-2010)
Murray Perahia (1947)
Yan-Pascal Tortelier (1947)
Natalie Dessay (1965)

and

Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727)
Etheridge Knight (1931-1991)
Sharon Pollock (1936)
Stanley Fish (1938)

and from the New Music Box:

On April 19, 1775, William Billings and Supply Belcher, two of the earliest American composers who at the time were serving as Minutemen (militia members in the American Revolutionary War who had undertaken to turn out for service at a minute's notice), marched to Cambridge immediately after receiving an alarm from Lexington about an impending armed engagement with the British.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Giacomo Carissimi (1605-1674)
Franz von Suppé (1819-1895)
Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977)
Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995)
Sylvia Fisher (1910-1996)
Penelope Thwaites (1944)
Catherine Maltfitano (1948)

and

Clarence Darrow (1857-1938)
Bob Kaufman (1925-1986)
Susan Faludi (1959)

Also a historical tidbit from (the former) Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1906 an earthquake struck San Francisco. The earthquake began at 5:12 a.m. and lasted for a little over a minute. The world-famous tenor Enrico Caruso had performed at San Francisco's Grand Opera House the night before, and he woke up in his bed as the Palace Hotel was falling down around him. He stumbled out into the street, and because he was terrified that that shock might have ruined his voice, he began singing. Nearly 3,000 people died.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Johann David Heinichen (1683-1729)
Jan Václav Tomášek (1774-1850)
Artur Schnabel (1882-1951)
Maggie Teyte (1888-1976)
Harald Saeverud (1897-1992)
Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976)
Pamela Bowden (1925-2003)
James Last (1929-2015)
Anja Silja (1940)
Siegfried Jerusalem (1940)
Cristina Ortiz (1950)

and

Karen Blixen aka Isak Dinesen (1885-1962)
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975)
Brendan Kennelly (1936)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1906 - on tour in San Francisco with the Metropolitan Opera touring company, the great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso sings a performance of Bizet's "Carmen" the day before the Great San Francisco Earthquake.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Federico Mompou (1893-1987)
Mischa Mischakov (1895-1981)
Henry Mancini (1924-1994)
Herbie Mann (1930-2003)
Dusty Springfield (1939-1999)
Stephen Pruslin (1940)
Leo Nucci (1942)
Richard Bradshaw (1944-2007)
Dennis Russell Davis (1944)
Peteris Vasks (1946)

and

John Millington Synge (1871-1909)
Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)
Merce Cunningham (1919-2009)
Sir Kingsley Amis (1922-1995)
Carol Bly (1930-2007)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The magical and the idyllic evoked in Oregon Symphony concert

One of the best things about the Oregon Symphony concert on Saturday evening (April 7) at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall was how well John Corigilano’s percussion concerto, “Conjurer,” complimented Maurice Ravel’s ballet music, “Daphnis and Chloe.” The Corigliano piece, featuring the orchestra’s artist in residence, Colin Currie, was remarkably subtle and soft, which allowed the Ravel to be more expansive yet maintains its refined character.

Corigilano divided “Conjurer” into three movements defined by types of percussion instruments. The first, “Wood,” offered an array of pitched wood instruments such as the marimba, xylophone, and wood blocks that Currie tapped, struck, hammered, prodded, and scratched. The assortment of tones, separated at times by brief pauses, worked especially well against the string accompaniment.

In the second movement, “Metal,” Currie created a layered web of sounds by playing the vibraphone, cymbals, tubular bells, and tam-tams (gongs). The notes seemed to lengthen and then decay into a contemplative and almost static stance. The third, “Skin” involved several drums, including timpani and a big bass drum that Currie played with his hands rather than with drumsticks. Accented with kick drum and sporadically charged up by the orchestral brass, the music became stirred up before it all subsided and settled down with little pauses to almost mirror the beginning, as if coming out of nowhere.

Unlike previous percussion concertos, Currie didn’t have to dash between the large setups of instruments. Between the first and second movements he seemed to move in slow motion from on percussion battery to the next while Music Director Carlos Kalmar kept conducting, and that caused some chuckling from the audience.

The orchestra has performed the suite from “Daphnis and Chloe” many times, but the concert marked the first time that it chose to do the entire hour-long ballet. Because the music tells a idyllic love story of a shepherd and shepherdess (with some pirates tossed in), it would have been advantageous to have some supertitles to indicate each movement. Otherwise, it was easy to close one’s eyes and ride the sonic ebb and flow and picture a seascape with birds flying about. But Ravel did have the story in mind, and the sensuous arabesques of sound were nonetheless deftly delivered by the orchestra, including a wonderfully effective wind machine (aeoliphone) in the percussion section and choruses from Portland State University (prepared by Ethan Sperry).

Aside from the lush and gorgeous sound of the orchestra, high points included the “Grotesque Dance of Darcon,” which had a wonderfully odd wa-wa from a trio of trombones. Another point was the percussive slap that shot over the orchestra to signal the abduction of Chloe. Virtuosic playing from Concertmaster Sarah Kwak, and principals in the woodwinds and brass added to the enchantment. Overall, the strings shimmered, the myriad of ascending and descending lines flowed like a rushing stream, and the final sonic abandon brought the piece to a fantastic conclusion.

The choruses, consisting of the Portland State Chamber Choir, Man Choir and Vox Femina, were confined to the loft area behind the orchestra, which was disadvantageous, because their sound, while blending nicely with the instrumentalists didn’t have a lot of volume or intensity. More singers would have given the performance the requisite sonic weight to make the evening more memorable.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758)
Karl Alwin (1891-1945)
Bessie Smith (1894-1937)
Sir Neville Marriner (1924-2016)
John Wilbraham (1944-1998)
Michael Kamen (1948-2003)
Lara St. John (1971)

and

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Henry James (1843-1916)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1931, Copland's "A Dance Symphony," was premiered by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski. This work incorporates material from Copland's 1923 ballet"Grohg," which had not been produced. The symphony was one the winners of the 1929 Victor Talking Machine Company Competition Prize. The judges of the competition decided that none of the submitted works deserved the full $25,000 prize, so they awarded $5000 each to four composers, including Copland, Ernest Bloch, and Louis Gruenberg, and gave $10,000 to Robert Russell Bennett (who had submitted two works).

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Jean Fournet (1913-2008)
Paavo Berglund (1929-2012)
Morton Subotnick (1933)
Loretta Lynn (1935)
Claude Vivier (1948-1983)
John Wallace (1949)
Julian Lloyd Webber (1951)
Barbara Bonney (1956)
Mikhail Pletnev (1957)
Jason Lai (1974)

and

Christian Huygens (1629-1695)
Arnold Toynbee (1853-1882)
Anton Wildgans (1881-1932)
Tina Rosenberg (1960)

From the former Writer's Almanac:

It's the legal birthday of the modern printing press, which William Bullock patented on this day in 1863 in Baltimore. His invention was the first rotary printing press to self-feed the paper, print on both sides, and count its own progress — meaning that newspapers, which had until then relied on an operator manually feeding individual sheets of paper into a press, could suddenly increase their publication exponentially.

The Cincinnati Times was likely the very first to use a Bullock press, with the New York Sun installing one soon after. Bullock was installing a press for The Philadelphia Press when he kicked at a mechanism; his foot got caught, his leg was crushed, and he died a few days later during surgery to amputate. His press went on to revolutionize the newspaper business.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Felicien David (1810-1876)
William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875)
Milos Sadlo (1912-2003)
George Barati (1913-1996)
Frederic Rzewski (1938)
Margaret Price (1941-2011)
Della Jones (1946)
Al Green (1946)
Mary Ellen Childs (1959)

and

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Eudora Welty (1909-2001)
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1958, American pianist Van Cliburn wins the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the first American to do so.

Preview of Vancouver Symphony pops concert in today's Columbian newspaper

My latest preview piece of the upcoming Vancouver Symphony concert appeared in today's edition of The Columbian newspaper. It has a nifty photo of William Shatner's autograph on the bell of Greg Scholl's trombone.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Pietro Nardini (1722-1793)
Joseph Lanner (1801-1843)
Johnny Dodds (1892-1940)
Lily Pons (1898-1976)
Imogen Holst (1907-1984)
Thomas Hemsley (1927-2013)
Herbert Khaury (aka Tiny Tim) (1932-1996)
Henri Lazarof (1932-2013)
Montserrat Caballé (1933)
Herbie Hancock (1940)
Ernst Kovacic (1943)
Stefan Minde (1936-2015)
Christophe Rousset (1961)

and

Beverly Cleary (1916)
Alan Ayckbourn (1939)
Tom Clancy (1947-2013)
Gary Soto (1952)
Jon Krakauer (1954)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Jean-Joseph Mouret (1682-1738)
Charles Hallé (1819-1895)
Karel Ančerl (1908-1973)
Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
Gervase de Peyer (1926-2017)
Kurt Moll (1938)
Arthur Davies (1941)

and

Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549)
Christopher Smart (1722-1771)
Mark Strand (1934)
Ellen Goodman (1941)
Dorothy Allison (1949)

From the New Music Box:

On April 11, 1941, Austrian-born composer Arnold Schönberg became an American citizen and officially changed the spelling of his last name to Schoenberg. He would remain in the United States until his death in 1951. Some of his most important compositions, including the Piano Concerto, the Violin Concerto, and the Fourth String Quartet, were composed during his American years.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Michel Corrette (1707-1795)
Eugen d'Albert (1864-1932)
Victor de Sabata (1892-1967)
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith (1891-1971)
Harry Mortimer (1902-1992)
Luigi Alva (1927)
Claude Bolling (1930)
Jorge Mester (1935)
Sarah Leonard (1953)
Lesley Garrett (1955)
Yefim Bronfman (1958)

and

William Hazlitt (1778-1830)
Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911)
David Halberstam (1934-2007)
Paul Theroux (1941)
Norman Dubie (1945)
Anne Lamott (1954)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1868, Brahms's "A German Requiem," was premiered at a Good Friday concert at Bremen Cathedral conducted by the composer.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Best new opera article in CVNA magazine

Many readers of Northwest Reverb know that I am a member of the Music Critics Association of North America. The group, which has a roster of just over 100 classical music critics has a national online magazine called the Classical Voice of North America (CVNA). Last year, MCANA announced its inaugural Best New Opera of North America Award, and this it followed through with its second annual award. MCANA has an awards committee, which determines which opera will receive the award, and I was asked to write an article to announce the award and interview the winner. This year's winner is "The Wake World" by David Hertzberg, who wrote the music and the libretto. You can read all about it in CVNA here.

I am leaving on Wednesday to travel to Washington D.C. where MCANA will officially present the award to Hertzberg. The members of MCANA are meeting in D.C. for our annual conference and to take in the Shift Festival at the Kennedy Center. From Wednesday evening through Saturday evening, I'll hear the Albany Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the National Symphony. MCANA will also host a number of panels that will feature various critics and folks who are involved in arts administration. I am especially interested in meeting Debrah Rutter, CEO of the Kennedy Center. I will keep you posted as events progress.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Kaspar Kerll (1627-1693)
Georg Matthias Monn (1717-1750)
François Giroust (1737-1799)
Supply Belcher (1751-1836)
Theodor Boehm (1794-1881)
Paolo Tosti (1846-1916)
Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1888-1953)
Sol Hurok (1888-1974)
Efrem Zimbalist Sr. (1889-1985)
Julius Patzak (1898-1974)
Paul Robeson (1898-1976)
Antal Doráti (1906-1988)
Tom Lehrer (1928)
Aulis Sallinen (1935)
Jerzy Maksymiuk (1936)
Neil Jenkins (1945)

and

Charles-Pierre Baudelaire (1821-1867)
Gregory Goodwin Pincus (1903-1967)
J. William Fullbright (1905-1995)
Jørn Utzon (1918-2008)

From the former Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1860, the oldest known recording of the human voice was made — someone was singing Au Clair de la Lune. French inventor Edouard-Léon Scott de Martinville captured sound waves on glass plates using a funnel, two membranes, and a stylus. He made the recording 17 years before Edison made his, but he didn't invent anything to play the recording back.

When researchers discovered these recordings three years ago, they assumed the voice singing was a woman's, so they played it at that speed. But then they re-checked the inventor's notes, and they realized that the inventor himself had sung the song, very slowly, carefully enunciating, as if to capture the beautiful totality of the human voice.

You can hear the astonishing recording at both speeds at firstsounds.org.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Claudio Merulo (1533-1604)
Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770)
Sir Adrian Boult (1889-1983)
E. Y. (Yip) Harburg (1896-1981)
Josef Krips (1902-1974)
Franco Corelli (1921-2003)
Walter Berry (1929-2000)
Lawrence Leighton Smith (1936-2013)
Meriel Dickinson (1940)
Dame Felicity Lott (1947)
Diana Montague (1953)
Anthony Michaels-Moore (1957)

and

Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857)
Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)
Harvey Cushing (1869-1939)
Robert Giroux (1914-2008)
Seymour Hersh (1937)
Barbara Kingsolver (1955)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1865, American premiere of Mozart's Sinfonia Concertate in Eb, K. 364(320d) for Violin, Viola, and Orchestra took place in New York, with violinist Theodore Thomas and violist Georg Matzka (A review of this concert in the New York Times said: "On the whole we would prefer death to a repetition of this production. The wearisome scale passages on the little fiddle repeated ad nausea on the bigger one were simply maddening.”).

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Charles Burney (1726-1814)
Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846)
Robert Casadesus (1899-1972)
Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
Ikuma Dan (1924-2001)

and

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890-1998)
Donald Barthelme (1931-1989)
Daniel Ellsberg (1931)
Francis Ford Coppola (1939)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1918, the German conductor of the Boston Symphony, Karl Muck, is arrested and interned as an enemy alien after American enters World War I.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Johann Kuhnau (1660-1772)
André‑Cardinal Destouches (1672-1749)
Friedrich Robert Volkman (1815-1883)
Carlos Salzedo (1885-1961)
Andrew Imbrie (1921-2007)
Edison Denisov (1929-1996)
André Previn (1929)
Merle Haggard (1937-2016)
Felicity Palmer (1944)
Pascal Rogé (1951)
Pascal Devoyon (1953)
Julian Anderson (1967)

and

Raphael (Rafaello Sanzio da Urbino) (1483-1520)
Joseph Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936)

From the New Music Box:
On April 6, 1897, the U.S. government granted Thaddeus Cahill a patent for his Telharmonium, or Dynamophone, the earliest electronic musical instrument. Cahill built a total of three such instruments, which utilized a 36-tone scale and used telephone receivers as amplifiers. The first one, completed in 1906 in Holyoke, Massachussetts was 60 feet long and weighed 200 tons. It was housed in "Telharmonic Hall" on 39th Street and Broadway New York City for 20 years.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Louis Spohr (1784-1859)
Albert Roussel (1869-1937)
Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989)
Goddard Lieberson (1911-1977)
Richard Yardumian (1917-1985)
Evan Parker (1944)
Julius Drake (1959)

and

Thomas Hobbs (1588-1679)
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)
Arthur Hailey (1920-2004)

Today's Birthdays

Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731)
Bettina Brentano von Arnim (1785-1859)
Hans Richter (1843-1916)
Pierre Monteux (1875-1964)
Joe Venuti (1898-1978)
Eugène Bozza (1905-1991)
Muddy Waters (1915-1983)
Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)
Sergei Leiferkus (1946)
Chen Yi (1953)
Thomas Trotter (1957)
Jane Eaglen (1960)
Vladimir Jurowski (1972)

and

Robert E. Sherwood (1896-1955)
Marguerite Duras (1914-1996)
Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this date in 1954, Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini (age 87) leads his last concert with the NBC Symphony, an all-Wagner program.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Baptiste‑Antoine Forqueray (1699-1782)
Edward Elzear "Zez" Confrey (1895-1971)
Sir Neville Cardus (1888-1975)
Grigoras Dinicu (1889-1949)
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)
Louis Appelbaum (1918-2000)
Sixten Ehrling (1918-2005)
Kerstin Meyer (1928)
Garrick Ohlsson (1948)
Mikhail Rudy (1953)

and

Washington Irving (1783-1894)
John Burroughs (1837-1921)
Herb Caen (1933-1997)
Dr. Jane Goodall (1934)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Franz Lachner (1803-1890)
Kurt Adler (1905-1988)
April Cantelo (1928)
Marvin Gaye (1939-1984)
Raymond Gubbay (1946)

and

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)
Émile Zola (1840-1902)
Max Ernst (1891-1976)
Camille Paglia (1947)

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Henri d'Anglebert (1629-1691)
Ferrucco Busoni (1866-1924)
F Melius Christiansen (1871-1955)
Serge Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Dinu Lipatti (1921-1950)
William Bergsma (1921-1994)

and

Edmond Rostand (1868-1918)
Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011)
Milan Kundera (1929)
Francine Prose (1947)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1888, the eccentric Parisian composer and piano virtuoso Alkan is buried in the Montmatre Cemetery. Isidore Philipp, one of only four mourners who attend Alkan's internment, claimed to have been present when the composer's body was found in his apartment and said the elderly Alkan was pulled from under a heavy bookcase, which apparently fell on him while Alkan was trying to reach for a copy of the Talmud on its top shelf. This story has been discounted by some Alkan scholars.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Durante (1684-1755)
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Serge Diaghliev (1872-1929)
Clemens Krauss (1893-1954)
John Mitchinson (1932)
Herb Alpert (1935)
Nelly Miricioiu (1952)
Robert Gambill (1955)
Jake Heggie (1961)


and

René Descartes (1596-1650)
Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)
Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852)
Octavio Paz (1914-1998)
Cesar Chavez (1927-1993)
Marge Piercy (1936)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Tommaso Traetta (1727-1779)
Ted Heath (1900-1969)
Sandor Szokolay (1931-2013)
John Eaton (1935-2015)
Gordon Muma (1935) Eric Clapton (1945)
Maggie Cole (1952)
Margaret Fingerhut (1955)
Sabine Meyer (1959)

and

Francisco Jose de Goya (1746-1828)
Anna Sewell (1820-1878)
Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
Sean O'Casey (1880-1964)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Henri Lutz (1864-1928)
Rosina Lhévinne (1880-1976)
Sir William Walton (1902-1983)
E Power Biggs (1906-1977)
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012)
Guher Pekinel (1953)
Suher Pekinel (1953)

and

Ronald Stuart Thomas (1913-2000) 
Eugene McCarthy (1916-2005)
Judith Guest (1936)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1871, Royal Albert Hall is formally opened in London by Queen Victoria.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Joseph Weigl (1766-1846)
Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951)
Paul Whiteman (1890-1967)
Rudolf Serkin (1903-1991)
Jacob Avshalomov (1919-2013)
Robert Ashley (1930-2014)
Martin Neary (1940)
Samuel Ramey (1942)
Richard Stilgoe (1942)

and

Raphael (1483-1520)
Nelson Algren (1909-1981)
Mario Vargas Llosa (1936)
Russell Banks (1940)
Iris Chang (1968-2004)
Lauren Weisberger (1977)

And from the Composers Datebook:
On this day in 1842, the Vienna Philharmonic plays its first concert (as the "Vienna Court Orchestra") in the Redoutensaale under the director of composer Otto Nicolai, the director of the Vienna Court Opera. The program included Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, his concert aria "Ah, Perfido," and the "Leonore" No. 3 and "Consercration of the House" Overtures, along with other vocal selections by Mozart and Cherubini.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Vincent d'Indy (1851-1931)
Patty Smith Hill (1868-1946)
Ferde Grofé (1892-1972)
Anne Ziegler (1910-2003)
Sarah Vaughn (1924-1990)
Mstislav Rostropovich (1927-2007)
Paul Ruders (1949)
Maria Ewing (1950)
Bernard Labadie (1963)

and

Henri Murger (1822-1861)
Heinrich Mann (1871-1950)
Edward Steichen (1879-1973)
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969)
Budd Schulberg (1914-2009)
Louis Simpson (1923-2012)
Julia Alvarez (1950)
John O'Farrell (1962)


And from the Composers Datebook:
On this date in 1808, Franz Joseph Haydn makes his last public appearance at a performance of his oratorio "The Creation" in Vienna in honor of the composer's approaching 76th birthday. Beethoven and Salieri attend the performance and greet Haydn.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Brahms Violin Concerto, folkloric goblins, and lovely requiem fulfilled in Oregon Symphony concert

I have not heard the music used in the Oscar-winning film “The Shape of Water” yet, but I wonder if the composer might have been influenced by Antonín Dvořák’s “The Water Goblin.” Probably not, because that gem of a piece has fall by the wayside over the years after Dvorak uncorked it 1896. Perhaps that is understandable, given the gruesomeness of the folktale that the music describes. But what the heck, Bartok’s “Bluebeards Castle” is pretty gruesome and misogynistic and it is played quite a bit. Well, in any case, I heard the Oregon Symphony’s performance of “The Water Goblin” on March 17th and it was awesome.

The piece, based on a story by Karel Erben, opened with a dancelike theme that bubbled brightly, perhaps conveying the goblin in his watery abode. That faded deftly to an idyllic section that depicted a girl from the village who goes to the lake where the goblin lives. Brooding, ominous sounds followed by a silky passage from the strings suggested conflict, and sure enough, a percussive wham and descending lines gave me the feeling that the girl fell and was dragged to the bottom of the lake by the goblin. A lyrical passage conveyed a lullaby for the baby (offspring of the girl and the goblin), and a myriad of sonic textures made the rest of the story easy to imagine right down to the end with tuba and bass trombone decaying mournfully at the sight of the dead baby and the goblin returning to his lair.

Of course, after a death, there must be a requiem. So the orchestra performed Howard Hanson’s Symphony No.4, subtitled “Requiem,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1944. The orchestra performed the four-movement work exquisitely. The plaintive bassoon, the passacaglia-like passage for the trumpets, and the brass chorale highlighted the first two movements (“Kyrie” and “Requiescat”). The third (“Dies irae”) delivered a wakeup call and kept a punchy, pulsating rhythm that led to a glowing and glorious fourth movement (“Lux aeterna”) with the violins piling lovely, falling tones over and over until they decrescendo away. It was a stunningly beautiful interpretation that may end up in a CD, because the evening’s performances were recorded by engineers from the Pentatone label.

After intermission came a flawless performance of Brahms’ Violin Concerto with guest artist Vadim Gluzman. His impeccable playing cut through the orchestra perfectly – never too much, never too little – and he made the entire piece look like a walk in the park. His chose to do the cadenza that Joseph Joachim wrote, and played it with fire and brilliance that just lit up the stage. The lovely duet that Gluzman did with principal oboist Martin Hébert in the “Adagio” could not have been sweeter.

Thunderous applause and cheering followed the rousing final movement, which brought Gluzman back to the stage several times. He and the strings of the orchestra responded with an immaculate performance of “The Dance of the Blessed Spirits” from Christoph Willibald Guck’s “Orpheus and Eurydice.” It was the perfect, delicious desert to top off the evening.

Today's Birthdays

Josef Slavík (1806-1833)
Wilhelm Backhaus (1884-1969)
André Cluytens (1905-1967)
Harry Rabinowitz (1916-2016)
Pierre Boulez (1925-2016)
Kyung Wha Chung (1948)

and

Edward Bellamy (1850-1898)
A. E. Housman (1859-1936)
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Joseph Campbell (1904–1987)
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
Gregory Corso (1930-2001)

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Johann Adolph Hasse (1699-1783)
Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957)
Béla Bartók (1881-1945)
Haydn Wood (1882-1959)
Magda Olivero (1910-2014)
Cecil Taylor (1929)
Sir Elton John (1947)

and

Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964)
Gloria Steinem (1934)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1949, Shostakovich (accompanied by KGB "handlers") arrives in New York for his first visit to America, for the Cultural and Scientific Conference for World Peace, held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. His anti-Western statements and criticism of Igor Stravinsky embarrassed his American sponsors, including Aaron Copland, and later provided political fodder for the notorious Red-hunter, Senator Joseph McCarthy.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Today's Birthdays

John Antes (1740-1811)
Maria Malibran (1808-1836)
Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)
Christiane Eda-Pierre (1932)
Benjamin Luxon (1937)

and

Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990)
Dwight Macdonald (1906-1982)
Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919)
Dario Fo (1926-2016)
Ian Hamilton (1938-2001)
Martin Walser (1927)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1721, J.S. Bach dedicates his six "Brandenburg" Concertos to Margrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg, whose orchestra apparently never performed them.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Léon Minkus (1826-1917)
Eugène Gigout (1844-1925)
Franz Schreker (1878-1934)
Josef Locke (1917-1999)
Norman Bailey (1933)
Boris Tishchenko (1939-2010)
Michael Nyman (1944)
David Grisman (1945)

and

Roger Martin du Gard (1881-1958)
Louis Adamic (1898-1951)
Erich Fromm (1900-1980)
Kim Stanley Robinson (1952)
Gary Joseph Whitehead (1965)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Carl Rosa (1842-1889)
Hamisch MacCunn (1868-1916)
Joseph Samson (1888-1957)
Martha Mödl (1912-2001)
Fanny Waterman (1920)
Arthur Grumiaux (1921-1986)
Stephen Sondheim (1930)
Joseph Schwantner (1943)
George Benson (1943)
Alan Opie (1945)
Rivka Golani (1946)
Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948)
Edmund Barham (1950-2008)

and

Anthony van Dyck (1599-1641)
Louis L'Amour (1908-1988)
Edith Grossman (1936)
James Patterson (1940)
Billy Collins (1941)
James McManus (1951)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1687, Italian-born French composer Jean Baptiste Lully, age 54, in Paris, following an inadvertent self-inflicted injury to his foot (by a staff with which he would beat time for his musicians) which developed gangrene.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Modeste Moussorgsky (1839-1881)
Eddie James "Son" House (1902-1988)
Nikos Skalkottas (1904-1949)
Paul Tortelier (1914-1990)
Nigel Rogers (1935)
Owain Arwel Hughes (1942)
Elena Firsova (1950)
Ann MacKay (1956)

and

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978)
Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998)
Ved Mehta (1934)

From the New Music Box:

On March 21, 1771, the Massachusetts Gazette published an announcement for a musical program including "select pieces on the forte piano and guitar." It is the earliest known reference to the piano in America.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Beniamino Gigli (1890-1957)
Lauritz Melchoir (1890-1973)
Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997)
Dame Vera Lynn (1917)
Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918-1970)
Marian McPartland (1918-2013)
Henry Mollicone (1946)

and

Ovid (43 BC - AD 17)
Ned Buntline (1823-1886)
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1928, the New York Symphony and the New York Philharmonic Society united to form the Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York - now known as simply "The New York Philharmonic."

Monday, March 19, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Max Reger (1873-1916)
Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994)
Nancy Evans (1915-2000)
Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950)
Robert Muczynski (1929-2010)
Ornette Coleman (1930-2015)
Myung-Wha Chung (1944)
Carolyn Watkinson (1949)
Mathew Rosenblum (1954)

and

Tobias Smollett (1721-1771)
Nikolay Gogol (1809-1852)
Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890)
Philip Roth (1933)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Fantastic performance of Verdi's "Requiem" by Oregon Symphony, soloists, and choirs

Verdi’s “Requiem” received a stellar performance by the Oregon Symphony and forces at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Saturday, March 10. The combined effort of soloists, choirs, and orchestra under the baton of Music Director Carlos Kalmar unleashed a tremendously emotional experience that superbly embodied the meaning and power of the music. Even though the projected titles did not appear and no printed text was available in the program, the nearly packed house relished the committed and thoroughly engrossing performance that will remain etched in the memories of listeners.

Soprano Amber Wagner, mezzo-soprano Dana Beth Miller, tenor Dimitri Pittas, and bass Raymond Aceto went above and beyond with voices that soared – even over and beyond the triple fortissimos of the combined forces layered behind them. Yet they maintained a beautiful sound throughout with vibratos that stayed inbounds, and they added to the dramatic effect by stepping forward and singing a number of arias from memory.

Each soloist excelled individually but also in ensemble numbers, which was quite remarkable with the resonant yet emotive qualities of Wagner, Miller, Pittas, and Aceto balancing consistently throughout the evening. Considering the Schnitzer’s acoustical challenges for voices in the lower range, Miller, in particular poured out enough tonal beauty and volume to equal her colleagues, creating stunning moments, such as in the “Liber scriptus proferetur” (A written book will be brought forth”). Wagner, it should be noted, held a note so long, during the Offertoiro, that one began to worry that she might never inhale again. Yet, she made it look easy peasy. Pittas exuded a marvelous tenor line and Aceto laid out a resonating bass that could be felt in the last row of the upper balcony.

The Portland Symphonic Choir and University of Puget sound Adelphian Concert Choir, expertly prepared by Steven Zopfi, delivered an awesome performance. The diction and balance of the combined choruses was impressive right from the start with the words “Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine” (“Grant them eternal rest, O Lord”) and especially crystal clear in the a cappella passages, such as the “Te decet hymnus, Deus, in Sion” (“A hymn in Zion befits you, O God”). The singers also left everyone on the stage floor with a devastatingly volcanic “Dies irae” (“Day of wrath”) and “Rex tremendae majestatis” (“King of dreadful majesty”) that could have been heard in Clackamas County. And, wow, the “Sanctus” sparkled like angles flying about.

The orchestra, urged on by Kalmar, accompanied the vocal forces expertly, giving everyone goosebumps with the passages that spiraled downward or upward, evoking flames, judgement on the last day, angels, devils, triumph, and agony in unrelenting sonic waves. The trumpets on stage and in the balcony, along with the magnificent brass, including the exotic-looking cimbasso played by JáTik Clark, threatened to shake the rafters. During the most demonstrative moments the bass drum in the percussion battery was pummeled so hard that it looked as if it would bounce onto the stage. Yet there were quiet moments, such as during the “Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?” (“What can a wretch like me say?”) when the bassoon of Evan Kuhlmann created a plaintive lament.

Kalmar usually wields a conducting style that is animated and inspired, but in the performance, he seemed take things to a higher level. It was as if he were conducting as if his life depended on it, and that got everyone to perform as if their lives depended on the outcome as well. The cutoffs that he signaled were breathtakingly effective. No one in the hall coughed or dared to breathe after a cutoff took place. It was as if the entire hall was transfixed in a mind meld. That might sound frightening, but at the conclusion of the concert, it became a life-enhancing experience.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Christoph Vogel (1756-1788)
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
Paul Le Flem (1881-1984)
Gian Francesco Malipiero (1882-1973)
Willem van Hoogstraten (1884-1964)
Nobuko Imai (1943)
James Conlon (1950)
Jan-Hendrik Rootering (1950)
Courtney Pine (1964)

and

Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898)
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
Manly Hall (1901-1990)
George Plimpton (1927-2003)
Christa Wolf (1929-2011)
John Updike (1932-2009) 
Franz Wright (1953-2015)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729)
Manuel García II (1805-1906)
Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901)
Giuseppe Borgatti (1871-1950)
Brian Boydell (1917-2000)
Nat "King" Cole (1917-1965)
John LaMontaine (1920-2013)
Stephen Dodgson (1924-2013)
Betty Allen (1927-2009)
John Lill (1944)
Michael Finnissy (1946)
Patrick Burgan (1960)

and

Edmund Kean (1787-1833)
Frank B. Gilbreth (1911-2001)
Penelope Lively (1933)

Friday, March 16, 2018

Preview of Vancouver USA Singers concert in The Columbian

Today's edition of The Columbian newspaper featured by preview of Brahms' German Requiem,which the Vancouver USA Singers will perform with orchestra this weekend.  You can read the article here.

After the preview appeared in the paper this morning, I was notified (by the editor) of a nice letter from a reader:

Dear Mr. Bash,

As a 36 year member of the Vancouver USA Singers ( I was a member under the direction of the founder, Bill Slocum) I want to thank you for your excellent article in the Life section of today's Columbian. Your summary and primer of the work, the composer's motivation and his understanding of the universality of what he had written, were outstanding. I think the Columbian is fortunate to have you writing for them.

Thank you for your contributions to Vancouver, to the arts, and for highlighting our rapidly evolving choir and it's place in the Portland area performing arts community. As regards the choir, I think the best is yet to come.

Warm regards,

Russ Freeland
Baritone



Today's Birthdays

Enrico Tamberlik (1820-1889)
Henny Youngman (1906-1998)
Christa Ludwig (1928)
Sir Roger Norrington (1934)
Teresa Berganza (1935)
David Del Tredici (1937)
Claus Peter Flor (1953)

and

James Madison (1751-1836)
Maxim Gorky (1868-1936)
César Vallejo (1892-1938)
Sid Fleischman (1920-2010)
Alice Hoffman (1952)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Eduard Strauss (1835-1916)
Johan Halvorsen (1864-1935)
Colin McPhee (1900-1964)
Lightnin' Hopkins (1912-1982)
Ben Johnston (1926)
Nicolas Flagello (1928-1994)
Jean Rudolphe Kars (1947)
Isabel Buchanan (1954)

and

Richard Ellmann (1918-1987)
Ben Okri (1959)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1985, Italian tenor Enrico Caruso, age 22, makes his operatic debut at the Teatro Nuovo in Naples, singing the lead tenor role in Domenico Morelli's comic opera "L'Amico Francesco."

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Johann Gottlieb Goldberg (1727-1756)
Pierre-Louis Couperin (1755-1789)
Johann Strauss Sr. (1804-1849)
Lawrance Collingwood (1887-1982)
Witold Rudziński (1913-2004)
Quincy Jones (1933)
Phillip Joll (1954)

and

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
Sylvia Beach (1887-1962)
Max Shulman (1919-1988)
Diane Arbus (1923-1871)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Michael Blavet (1700-1768)
Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
Alec Rowley (1892-1958)
Irène Joachim (1913-2001)
Jane Rhodes (1929-2011)
Alberto Ponce (1935)
Lionel Friend (1945)
Julia Migenes (1949
Wolfgang Rihm (1952)
Anthony Powers (1953)
Moses Hogan (1957-2003)
Terence Blanchard (1962)

and

Janet Flanner (1892-1978)
George Seferis (1900-1971)

Monday, March 12, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Arne (1710-1778)
Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911)
Hans Knappertsbusch (1888-1965)
Ralph Shapey (1921-2002)
Norbert Brainin (1923-2005)
Philip Jones (1928-2000)
Helga Pilarczyk (1935-2011)
Liza Minnelli (1946)
James Taylor (1948)

and

George Berkeley (1685-1753)
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916)
Vaslav Nijinsky (1889-1950)
Edward Albee (1928)
Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)
Virginia Hamilton (1934-2002)
Naomi Shihab Nye (1952)
Carl Hiaasen (1953)
David Eggers (1970)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Article on March Music Moderne posted on Oregonlive Arts

My article on the upcoming March Music Moderne festival was posted on Oregonlive Arts yesterday. The printed version will appear later this week.  This year's edition of MMM offers another fascinating program; so I hope that you enjoy the article and can attend the festival, which is free!

Today's Birthdays

Carl Ruggles (1876-1971)
Henry Cowell (1897-1965)
Xavier Montsalvage (1912-2002)
Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)
Sarah Walker (1943)
Tristan Murail (1947)
Bobby McFerrin (1950)
Katia Labèque (1950)

and

Torquato Tasso (1544-1495)
Ezra Jack Keats (1916-1983)
Douglas Adams (1952-2001)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1829, Mendelssohn conducts a revival performance of J.S. Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" in Berlin.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749-1838)
Dudley Buck (1839-1909)
Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908)
Arthur Honnegger (1892-1955)
Dame Eva Turner (1892-1990)
Bix Biederbecke (1903-1931)
Sir Charles Groves (1915-1992)
William Blezard (1921-2003)
Andrew Parrott (1947)
Stephen Oliver (1950-1992)

and

Henry Watson Fowler (1858-1933)
Zelda Fitzgerald (1900-1948)
Heywood Hale Broun (1918-2001)
David Rabe (1940)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this date in 1937, Frank Capra's film "The Lost Horizon" opens at the Four Stars Theater in Los Angeles, featuring a classic film score composed by Dmitri Tiomkin (and conducted by Max Steiner).

Friday, March 9, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Josef Mysliveczek (1737-1781)
Archie Camden (1888-1979)
Dame Isobel Baillie (1895-1983)
Samuel Barber (1910-1981)
Ornette Coleman (1930-2015)
David Matthews (1943)
Kalevi Aho (1949)
Howard Shelley (1950)

and

Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512)
Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962)
Mickey Spillane (1918-2006)
David Pogue (1963)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1831, Italian violin virtuoso Nicolo Paganini makes his Parisian debut a the Opéra. Composers in the audience include Meyerbeer, Cherubini, Halvéy. and Franz Liszt (who transcribes Pagnini's showpiece "La Campanella" for piano). Also in attendance are the many famous novelists and poets, including George Sand, Victor Hugo, Alfred de Mussset and Heinrich Heine.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613)
Carl Philip Emanuel Bach (1714-1788)
Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000)
Dick Hyman (1927)
Christian Wolff (1934)
Robert Tear (1939-2011)
Barthold Kuijken (1949)
Simon Halsey (1958)

and

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935)
Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932)
Leslie Fiedler (1917-2003)
Neil Postman (1931-2003)
John McPhee (1933)
Leslie A. Fiedler (1948)
Jeffrey Eugenides (1960)

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Today's Birthdays

John Wilbye (1574-1638)
Tomaso Antonio Vitali (1663-1745)
Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Heino Eller (1887-1970)
Christopher Seaman (1942)
Uri Segal (1944)
Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997)
Nicholas Kraemer (1945)
Clive Gillinson (1946)
Okko Kamu (1946)
Montserrat Figueras (1948-2011)
Michael Chance (1955)

and

William York Tindall (1903-1981)
William Boyd (1952)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1897, Johannes Brahms attends his last concerts and hears his Symphony No. 4 conducted by Hans Richter.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Oscar Straus (1870-1954)
Julius Rudel (1921-2014)
Sarah Caldwell (1924-2006)
Wes Montgomery (1925-1968)
Ronald Stevenson (1928-2015)
Lorin Maazel (1930-2014)
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (1944)
Stephen Schwartz (1948)
Marielle Labèque (1952)
Mark Gresham (1956)
Yannick Nézet-Séguin (1975)

and

Michelangelo (1475-1564)
Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
Ring Lardner (1885-1933)
Gabriel García Márquez (1928-2014)
Willie Mays (1931)
Dick Fosbury (1947)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Alphonse Hasselmans (1845-1912)
Arthur Foote (1853-1937)
Pauline Donalda (1882-1970)
Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959)
Anthony Hedges (1931)
Barry Tuckwell (1931)
Sheila Nelson (1936)
Richard Hickox (1948)

and

Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594)
Frank Norris (1870-1902)
Leslie Marmon Silko (1948)

From The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1750 that the first Shakespearean play was presented in America. Richard III was performed by the actors of Walter Murray and William Kean’s troupe from Philadelphia. Theater was still new in the colonies. And though it was popular in Philadelphia, that city still preferred to pride itself on its scientific and literary achievements, so Murray and Kean set out for New York City.

Through the 1700s, New York’s primary form of entertainment was drinking. By the time Murray and Kean arrived in February of 1750, there were 10,000 city residents and over 150 taverns. Murray and Kean set up shop in a two-story wooden structure on Nassau Street, slightly east of Broadway.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Barry Douglas delights OSO audiences with a surprise Beethoven Concerto

Barry Douglas
Sunday February 25 saw Oregon Symphony audiences presented with a surprise performance of Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor by Barry Douglas, who flew in to Portland from Belfast 2 nights before opening night upon the illness of pianist Francesco Piemontesi, who had been slated to perform Franck's Symphonic Variations and Richard Strauss' Burleske.

Opening with Samuel Barber's Second Essay for Orchestra,  the OSO played this incredibly lush and inviting work well, changing from somber and beautiful to frenetic chasing, spritely and light, with a sure and deft hand.

The orchestral interpretation that associate conductor Norman Huynh chose for the Beethoven was a bit too polite and reserved, but Douglas was in fine form. His opening was dry, exposed and intimate, almost intentionally self-conscious it seemed, and he showed a deft, singing baritone that cut through the orchestral texture without being too pronounced. One could feel the true delight in his playing, which was almost dreamy at times.  The Largo was sleepy and yet his arpeggios were somehow quietly thunderous, gentle and yet full of character. The finale allowed Douglas to display show off his fireworks in the lightning chromatic motives. This was a performance marked by true understanding, and emotional as well as physical dexterity.

The marvelous, lengthy crescendo in the first movement of the Sibelius was built on spectral trumpet echoes and fierce tremolando from the strings, and the bassoon played a sad, baleful melody behind. There were balance issues during the fortissimos; it seemed impossible to restrain the crashing brass, and strings were at times completely subsumed though they were pounding away with all fury. Huynh however did a good job at bringing out a vague sense of menace, which could easily have been glossed over.  The Andante mosso was as pastoral as one could want, with different textures exploding from the depths of a dense sound-sea. The work closed with a grandiose blend from the brass, eliciting every ounce of emotion from the august swan theme.

Today's Birthdays

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Carlos Surinach (1915-1997)
Cecil Aronowitz (1916-1978)
Samuel Adler (1928)
Bernard Haitink (1929)
Aribert Reimann (1936)
Ralph Kirshbaum (1946)
Leanna Primiani (1968)

and

Khaled Hosseini (1965)

and

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1801,the U.S. Marine Band performed for Thomas Jefferson's inaugural. Jefferson, an avid music lover and amateur violinist, gave the Marine Band the title "The President's Own." Since that time, the band has played for every presidential inaugural.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Eugen d'Albert (1864-1932)
Henry Wood (1869-1944)
Federico Moreno Torroba (1891-1982)
Margaret Bonds (1913-1972)
Frank Wigglesworth (1918-1996)
Doc Watson (1923-2012)
Martin Lovett (1927)
Florence Quivar (1944)
Roberta Alexander (1949)
Katia Labèque (1950)

and

James Merrill (1926-1995)
Ira Glass (1959)

From the Writer's Almanac:
Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata was published on this date in 1802. Its real name is the slightly less evocative “Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Opus 27, No. 2,” and its Italian subtitle is translated as “almost a fantasy.” In 1832, five years after Beethoven’s death, a German critic compared the sonata to the effect of moonlight shining on Lake Lucerne, and the interpretation became so popular that, by the end of the century, the piece was universally known as the “Moonlight Sonata.” Beethoven himself had attributed the emotion of the piece to sitting at the bedside of a friend who had suffered an untimely death.

It was on this day in 1875 that the opera Carmen appeared on stage for the first time at the Opéra-Comique in France. When it premiered, the audience was shocked by the characters of Carmen, a gypsy girl, and her lover, Don José. The opera ran for 37 performances even though it came out late in the season, and it came back the next season, too.

Nietzsche heard Carmen 20 different times, and thought of it as a musical masterpiece. Tchaikovsky first heard Carmen in 1880. Bizet died of a heart attack just three months after the opera's debut.

It was on this day in 1931 that "The Star-Spangled Banner" became the official national anthem of the United States.

The lyrics come from a poem written by Francis Scott Key more than a century before, "Defence of Fort McHenry." He'd spent a night toward the end of the War of 1812 hearing the British navy bombard Baltimore, Maryland. The bombardment lasted 25 hours — and in the dawn's early light, Francis Scott Key emerged to see the U.S. flag still waving over Fort McHenry. He jotted the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry" on the back of an envelope. Then he went to his hotel and made another copy, which was printed in the Baltimore American a week later.

The tune for the Star-Spangled Banner comes from an old British drinking song called "To Anacreon in Heaven," which was very popular at men's social clubs in London during the 1700s. Francis Scott Key himself did the pairing of the tune to his poem. It was a big hit.

For the next century, a few different anthems were used at official U.S. ceremonies, including "My Country Tis of Thee" and "Hail Columbia." The U.S. Navy adopted "The Star-Spangled Banner" for its officialdom in 1889, and the presidency did in 1916. But it wasn't until this day in 1931 — just 80 years ago — that Congress passed a resolution and Hoover signed into law the decree that "The Star-Spangled Banner" was the official national anthem of the United States of America.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Bedřich Smetana (1824-1884)
Tom Burke (1890-1969)
Kurt Weill (1900-1950)
Marc Blitzstein (1905-1965)
John Gardner (1917-2011)
Robert Simpson (1921-1997)
Bernard Rands (1934)
Robert Lloyd (1940)
Lou Reed (1942)

and

Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) (1904-1991)
Mikhail S Gorbachev (1931)
Tom Wolfe (1931)
John Irving (1942)

and from the Composers Datebook:

Starting on this day in 1967 and continuing over the next two weeks, Russian cellist Mstsilav Rostropovich  performed 26 works for cello and orchestra at 8 concerts with the London Symphony at Carnegie Hall in New York City -- including some world premieres!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849)
Dimitri Mitropoulos (1896-1960)
Glenn Miller (1904-1944)
Leo Brouwer (1939)
Moray Welsh (1947)
Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson (1954-2006)
Galina Gorchakova (1962)
Thomas Adès (1971)

and

Oskar Kokoschka (1866-1980)
Ralph Ellison (1913-1994)
Robert Lowell (1917-1977)
Richard Wilbur (1921-2017)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Incredible performance by soloist in Brotons concerto highlights VSO program

An off-the -harts fantastic performance by guest artist David Rejano highlighted the Vancouver Symphony’s concert on Saturday afternoon (February 24) at Skyview Concert Hall. Rejano, the principal trombonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, took center stage to play the “Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra” by Salvador Brotons, the orchestra’s music director who also happens to be a terrific composer.

Written in 1995 (while he taught at Portland State University), Broton’s Trombone Concerto requires a trombonist who can handle the challenge of playing over a full orchestra while negotiating all sorts of tricky and virtuosic techniques. Rejano’sability to create a multitude of fascinating sounds was just stunning. Scattershot tones, basement rattling blasts, high-wire arches, slippery glissandos, and raspy interludes were just easily delivered by Rejano. He also played some super-rapid passages that showed terrific control and articulation. At one point, he elicited two (or maybe more) tones at the same time by playing and singing into the mouthpiece at the same time. That was sort of spooky and weird. He used mutes to sound as if far away and countered that with mellifluous lovely passages.

After the tour-de-force performance, Rejano responded to the extended applause with a beautiful encore, the “Méditation” from the opera “Thais” by composer Jules Massenet. Needless to say, Rejano played the mellifluous piece, accompanied by a few strings, with great sensitivity. His performance, in essence, was a dream.

Beethoven’s Third Symphony received a solid performance by the orchestra, conveying the heroic force of the piece with passion and verve. The strings, led by concertmaster Stephen Shepherd, propelled straight away in the first movement with a sense of purpose. Ends of phrases were well-shaped, often tapering off with a slightly softer sound. The musicians nobly expressed the funeral march of the second movement with the spotlight resting on the expressive playing of principal oboist Karen Strand, principal flutist Rachel Rencher, and principal bassoonist Margaret McShea. The French horns, woodwinds, and trumpets accented the themes with striking clarity. The third and fourth movements overcame a couple of dragging moments to drive homeward and finish the dramatic arc of the piece gusto.

Much like Beethoven’s Third, Brahms “Tragic Overture” also began with forceful blows, followed by a statement that allowed a lot of dynamic contrast. Urged on by Brotons, the musicians created a tapestry that constantly changed between the lush and rhapsodic to stormy and charged to quiet and almost serene. Some passages could have been crisper and more well-defined, but, overall, the ensemble ably conveyed the struggle between a triumphant spirit and one that was defeated.

Today's Birthdays

John Alden Carpenter (1876-1951)
Sergueï Bortkiewicz (1877-1952)
Guiomar Novaes (1895-1979)
Geraldine Farrar (1882-1967)
Roman Maciejewski (1910-1998)
George Malcolm (1917-1997)
Joseph Rouleau (1929)
Osmo Vänskä (1953)
Markus Stenz (1965)

and

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)
Linus Pauling (1901-1994)
Stephen Spender (1909-1995)
Zero Mostel (1915-1977)
Frank Gehry (1929)
John Fahey (1939-2001)
Stephen Chatman (1950)
Colum McCann (1965)
Daniel Handler (1970)

and from the Composers Datebook

On this date in 1882, the Royal College of Music is founded in London.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Sir Hubert Parry (1848-1918)
Lotte Lehmann (1888-1976)
Marian Anderson (1897-1993)
Elizabeth Welch (1904-2003)
Viktor Kalabis (1923-2006)
Mirella Freni (1935)
Morten Lauridsen (1943)
Gidon Kremer (1947)
Frank-Peter Zimmermann (1956)

and

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
John Steinbeck (1902-1968)
Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990)
Ralph Nadar (1934)
N. Scott Momaday (1934)

Monday, February 26, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Anton (Antoine) Reicha (1770-1836)
Alfred Bachelet (1864-1944)
Emmy Destinn (1878-1930)
Frank Bridge (1879-1941)
Witold Rowicki (1914-1989)
Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino (1928)
Lazar Berman (1930-2005)
Johnny Cash (1932-2005)
David Thomas (1943)
Guy Klucevsek (1947)
Emma Kirkby (1949)
Richard Wargo (1957)
Carlos Kalmar (1958)

and

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
Victor Hugo (1802-1885)
John George Nicolay (1832-1901)
Elisabeth George (1949)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Paremski and Oregon Symphony deliver spectacular Prokofiev

Natasha Paremski’s playing of Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 took everyone’s breath away at the Oregon Symphony concert on February 10th. She captured the quirky nature of the piece marvelously, bringing a sense of lyricism and whimsy to the rhapsodic passages and fearlessly letting her fingers fly across the rapid portions (such as the second movement), and driving to the finale with room to spare. Paremski demonstrated superb control from beginning to end, bringing out emphatic fortes one moment and then shifting to ultra-soft pianissimos the next. The intoxicating blend of sheer pianism came to a head in the helter skelter fourth movement with its willy-nilly combinations of dynamic twists and turns. The virtuosic candenza in the finale – with its knuckle-crunching sections paired against tender and poignant ones – was brilliantly played by Paremski. To think that she learned the piece in a few months after being asked by Carlos Kalmar, the orchestra’s music director, and then played it so brilliantly from memory is astonishing. The nearly full house at the Arlene Schnizter Concert Hall erupted with applause and cheers.

While Paremski’s memorable performance was tremendously impressive, it was equaled by the orchestra’s scintillating performance of Walter Piston’s Symphony No. 7. Piston won his second Pulitzer Prize (in 1961) with the three-movement work. The orchestra handled the entire piece incisively from its thick and complex opening statement to the powerfully sharp ending with its three decisive blows. The second movement (“Adagio pastorale”) offered lovely solos by principal oboist Martin Hébert and principal flutist Martha Long as well as intriguing pairings with their colleagues in the woodwind section. Lyrical string passages clashed wonderfully against the brass before ending quietly. In the third movement (“Allegro festevole”), the orchestra roared back to life with a section that was like a fast sonic stutter step before gradually building to an emphatic conclusion.

The other large-scale work on program was Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony (“Pathétique”), which received an awesome performance from the orchestra. The musicians dug into each passage, each phrase with terrific passion and sensitivity. They explored the depths of despair; they created moments of joy that were tinged with nostalgia; they marched enthusiastically uphill, downhill, and into oblivion; they plumbed every nook and cranny and found a way to make the music exciting and relevant even though probably everyone in the hall had heard the piece a thousand times. It was a mind-melding performance with the orchestra, urged on by Kalmar, delivering all of the goods and then some.

Impeccable playing by all sections of the orchestra contributed to make the performance emotionally fulfilling. Still the French horns played like all stars as did principal timpanist Sergio Carreno. It was mesmerizing to watch the speed and accuracy of mallets as he pummeled the drums.

Overall, this was one of the best concerts of the 2017-2018 season, and many in the audience were left to wonder when Paremski will return and what she will play.

Today's Birthdays

Armand-Louis Couperin (1727-1789)
Antoine Reicha (1770-1836)
Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)
Dame Myra Hess (1890-1965)
Victor Silvester (1900-1978)
Davide Wilde (1935)
Jesús López-Cobos (1940)
George Harrison (1943-2001)
Lucy Shelton (1944)
Denis O'Neill (1948)
Melinda Wagner (1957)

and

Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841–1919)
Karl Friedrich May (1842–1874)
Anthony Burgess (1917-1993)
John C. Farrar (1896-1974)

And from the New Music Box:
On February 25, 1924, the first issue of the League of Composers Review was published. Under the editorial leadership of Minna Lederman, this publication—which soon thereafter changed its name to Modern Music (in April 1925)—was the leading journalistic voice for contemporary music in America for over 20 years and featured frequent contributions from important composers of the day including Aaron Copland, Elliott Carter, John Cage, Marc Blitzstein, Henry Cowell, Lehman Engel, and Marion Bauer. Its final issue appeared in the Fall of 1946.

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1682,Italian composer Alessandro Stradella, age 37, is murdered in Genoa, apparently in retaliation for running off with a Venetian nobleman's mistress.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Article on retiring Club Mod radio host Robert McBride

This morning, the Oregonian published my interview/article with Robert McBride, longtime radio announcer, who is retiring from the airwaves at All Classical (KQAC FM) with his last Club Mod show on March 3rd.  Here is a link to the article.

Today's Birthdays

Antoine Boësset (1587-1643)
Samuel Wesley (1766-1837)
Arrigo Boito (1842-1918)
Luigi Denza (1846-1922)
Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940)
Michel Legrand (1932)
Renato Scotto (1934)
Jiří Bělohlávek (1946)

and

Wilhelm (Carl) Grimm (1786-1859)
Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
George Augustus Moore (1852-1933)
Mary Ellen Chase (1887-1973)
Weldon Kees (1914-1955)
Jane Hirshfield (1953)
Judith Butler (1956)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1955, Carlisle Floyd's opera "Susannah" received its premiere at Florida State University in Tallahassee. According to Opera America, this is one of the most frequently-produced American operas during the past decade.

Preview of Vancouver Symphony concert in The Columbian

Yesterday's edition of The Columbian newspaper published my preview of the Vancouver Symphony concerts that will take place this weekend. Here is the link to the article.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Today's Birthdays

John Blow (1649-1708)
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Sir Hugh Roberton (1874-1952)
Albert Sammons (1886-1957)
Dave Apollon (1897-1972)
Elinor Remick Warren (1905-1991)
Martindale Sidwell (1916-1998)
Hall Overton (1920-1972)
Régine Crespin (1927-2007)

and

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) - blogger of the 17th Century
W. E  B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
Karl Jaspers (1883-1969)
William L. Shirer (1904-1993)
John Camp (1944)

Tidbit from the New York Times obit: In the early 1930s, Shirer and his wife shared a house with the guitarist Andres Segovia.

From The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1940 that Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics to “This Land Is Your Land."

The melody is to an old Baptist hymn. Guthrie wrote the song in response to the grandiose “God Bless America,” written by Irving Berlin and sung by Kate Smith. Guthrie didn’t think that the anthem represented his own or many other Americans’ experience with America. So he wrote a folk song as a response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” a song that was often accompanied by an orchestra. At first, Guthrie titled his own song “God Blessed America” — past tense. Later, he changed the title to “This Land Is Your Land,” which is the first line of the song.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Video competes with music in Portland Opera’s “Winterreise”

With a stage papered snow-white and a singer clad in all-white garb, Portland Opera’s presentation of Schubert’s “Winterreise” had an edginess that could be felt throughout the Gregory K. and Mary Chomenko Hinckley Studio Theatre. But the production on opening night (February 9) would have made more of a lasting impression if it were not for a surfeit of video projections that competed with the superb singing of David Adam Moore. Yet Moore, a New York-based baritone who is also a multimedia artist, designed the video projections, which often overwhelmed the music.

Schubert’s song cycle does have operatic elements that are heightened by the evocative text from the poems of Wilhelm Müller. So the monochromatic projections that Moore and his colleagues at GLMMR (Giving Light Motion + Memory + Relevance) developed were an attempt to go deeper, as demonstrated with the flow of ice cubes that were matched with the “Gefrorne Tränen” (“Frozen Tears”) and the tombstones that were paired with “Das Wirtshaus” (“The Inn”). With the exception of the relatively static images in the final song “Der Leiermann” (“The Hurdy-Gurdy Man”), most of the images were in constant motion, including the comical one of a smart phone that was shot, hammered, and set on fire while Moore sang “Die Post” (“The Post”).

Moore’s singing was top notch from beginning to end. He used little vibrato and created wonderfully soft tones on the highest and lowest notes, which added to the forlornness of several songs. He also had plenty vocal heft to express anger and frustration, such as in “De Wetterfahne” (“The Weathervane”) and “Der Stürmische Morgen” (“The Stormy Morning”). Whether he was squatting, lying supine, or lunging forward, Moore terrifically conveyed a man who wandered outdoors into the indoors of his soul.

Pianist Nicholas Fox, who is also Portland Opera’s assistant conductor and chorus master, accompanied Moore impeccably, helping him to shape the mood and guide listeners along the introspective journey. Towards the end of the piece, the sound of the piano became more and more seductive, drawing the listeners into an almost hallucinogenic experience.

The all-white stage and costume(right down to the tennis shoes), designed by Victoria “Vita” Tzykun, provided a blankly cold canvas. Yet it would have been more effective with slower-moving video projections.

Today's Birthdays

Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817-1890)
York Bowen (1884-1961)
Benno Moiseiwitsch (1890-1963)
Joseph Kerman (1924-2014)
George Zukerman (1927)
Steven Lubin (1942)
Lowell Liebermann (1961)
Rolando Villazón (1972)

and

George Washington (1732-1799) Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
Edward Gorey (1925-2000)
Gerald Stern (1925)
Ishmael Reed (1938)
Terry Eagleton (1943)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
Leo Delibes (1836-1891)
Charles Marie Widor (1844-1945)
Kenneth Alford (1881-1945)
Nina Simone (1933-2003)
Elena Duran (1949)
Simon Holt (1948)

and

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977)
W. H. Auden (1907-1973)
Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)
Ha Jin (1956)
Chuck Palahniuk (1962)
David Foster Wallace (1962-2008)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Johann Peter Salomon (1749-1815)
Charles‑Auguste de Bériot (1802-1870)
Mary Garden (1874-1967)
Robert McBride (1911-2007)
Ruth Gipps (1921-1999)
Toshiro Mayuzumi (1929-1997)
Christoph Eschenbach (1940)
Barry Wordsworth (1948)
Cindy McTee (1953)
Riccardo Chailly (1953)
Chris Thile (1981)

and

Russel Crouse (1893-1966)
Louis Kahn (1901-1974)
Ansel Adams (1902-1984)
Robert Altman (1925-2006)
Richard Matheson (1926-2013)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)
Louis Aubert (1877-1968)
Arthur Shepherd (1880-1958)
Grace Williams (1906-1977)
Stan Kenton (1912-1979)
Timothy Moore (1922-2003)
George Guest (1924-2002)
György Kurtág (1926)
Michael Kennedy (1926-2014)
Jean-Pierre Ponnelle (1932-1988)
Smokey Robinson (1940)
Penelope Walmsley-Clark (1949)
Darryl Kubian (1966)

and

André Breton (1896-1966)
Carson McCullers (1917-1967)
Amy Tan (1952)
Siri Hustvedt (1955)
Jonathan Lethem (1964)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Battista Vitali (1632-1692)
Pietro Giovanni Guarneri (1655-1720)
Gustave Schirmer, Jr. (1864-1907)
Marchel Landowski (1915-1999)
Rolande Falcinelli (1920-2006)
Rita Gorr (1926-2012)
Yoko Ono (1933)
Marek Janowski (1939)
Marlos Nobre (1939)
Donald Crockett (1951)

and

Sholem Aleichem (1859-1916)
Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957)
Wallace Stegner (1909-1993)
Jack Gilbert (1925-2012)
Len Deighton (1929)
Toni Morrison (1931)
George Pelecanos (1957)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713)
Henri Vieuxtemps (1820-1881)
Sr. Edward German (1862-1936)
Leevi Madetoja (1887-1947)
Andres Segovia (1893-1987)
Marian Anderson (1893-1993)
Paul Fetler (1920)
Ron Goodwin (1925-2003)
Fredrich Cerha (1926)
Lee Hoiby (1926-2011)
Anner Bylsma (1944)
Karl Jenkins (1944)

and

Ronald Knox (1888-1957)
Jack Gilbert (1925-2012)
Chaim Potok (1929-2002)
Ruth Rendell (1930-2015)
Mo Yan (1955)

From the New Music Box:

On February 17, 1927, a sold-out audience attends the world premiere of The King's Henchman. an opera with music by composer, music critic and future radio commentator Deems Taylor and libretto by poet Edna St. Villay Millay, at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The New York Times review by Olin Downes on the front page the next morning hailed it as the "best American opera." The opera closed with a profit of $45,000 and ran for three consecutive seasons. It has not been revived since and has yet to be recorded commercially. 

Friday, February 16, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Charles Avison (1709-1770)
Willem Kes (1856-1934)
Selim Palmgren (1878-1951)
Maria Korchinska (1895-1979)
Alec Wilder (1907-1980)
Machito (1908-1984)
Sir Geraint Evans (1922-1992)
Eliahu Inbal (1936)
John Corigliano (1938)
Sigiswald Kuiljken (1944)

and

Nikolai Leskov (1831-1895)
Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918)
Van Wyck Brooks (1886-1963)
Richard Ford (1944)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Michael Praetorius (1571-1621)>
Jean‑François Lesueur (1760-1837)
Friedrich Ernst Fesca (1789-1826)
Heinrich Engelhard Steinway (1797-1871)
Robert Fuchs (1847-1927)
Marcella Sembrich (1858-1935)
Walter Donaldson (1893-1947)
Georges Auric (1899-1983)
Harold Arlen (1905-1986)
Jean Langlais (1907-1991)
Norma Procter (1928-2017)
John Adams (1947)
Christopher Rouse (1949)
Kathryn Harries (1951)
Christian Lindberg (1958)

and

Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)
Art Spiegelman (1948)
Matt Groening (1954)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Pietro Francesco Cavalli (1602-1676)
Alexander Dargomizhsky (1813-1869)
Ignaz Friedman (1882-1948)
Jack Benny (1894-1974)
Wyn Morris (1929-2010)
Steven Mackey (1956)
Renée Fleming (1959)

and

Frederick Douglass (1814-1895)
Carl Bernstein (1944)

and

On this day in 1895, Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest opened in London. He wrote the first draft in just 21 days, the fastest he’d ever written anything.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Fernando Sor (1778-1839)
Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938)
Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938)
Tennessee Ernie Ford (1919-1991)
Eileen Farrell (1920-2002)
Yfrah Neaman (1923-2003)
Colin Matthews (1946)
Peter Gabriel (1950)
Raymond Wojcik (1957-2014)
Philippe Jaroussky (1978)

and

William Roughead (1870–1952)
Ricardo Güiraldes (1886-1927)
Grant Wood (1891-1942)
Georges Simenon (1903-1989)
Elaine Pagels (1943)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1914, ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) is formally organized in New York City, with composer Victor Herbert as its first director.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Campion (1567-1620)
Jan Ladislav Dussek (1760-1812)
Roy Harris (1898-1979)
Franco Zeffirelli (1923)
Mel Powell (1923-1998)
Paata Burchuladze (1951)

and

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
Max Beckmann (1884-1950)
Judy Bloom (1938)

And courtesy of the New Music Box:

On February 12, 1924 at New York's Aeolian Hall, self-named 'King of Jazz' Paul Whiteman presented An Experiment in Modern Music, a concert combining "high art" and "hot jazz." The concert featured newly commissioned works from Victor Herbert, Jerome Kern, Edward MacDowell, Irving Berlin, Ferde Grofé, and Rudolf Friml, but the highlight of the program was the world premiere performance of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Rudolf Firkušný (1912-1994)
Sir Alexander Gibson (1926-1995)
Michel Sénéchal (1927)
Cristopher Dearnley (1930-2000)
Jerome Lowenthal (1932)
Gene Vincent (1935-1971)
Edith Mathis (1938)
Alberto Lysy (1935-2009)
Christine Cairns (1959)

and

Thomas Edison (1847-1931)
Philip Dunne (1908-1992)
Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993)
Pico Iyer (1957)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1841, was given the first documented American performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 at the New York's Broadway Tabernacle, by the German Society of New York, Uri Corelli Hill conducting.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Johann Melchior Molter (1696-1765)
Adelina Patti (1843-1919)
Jean Coulthard (1908-2000)
Joyce Grenfell (1914-2001)
Cesare Siepi (1923-2010)
Leontyne Price (1927)
Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004)
Roberta Flack (1937)
Barbara Kolb (1939)

and

Charles Lamb (1775-1834)
Boris Pasternak (1890-1960)
Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956)
Åsne Seierstad  (1970)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1921, Charles Ives hears Igor Stravinsky's "The Firebird" Ballet Suite at an all-Russian program by the New York Symphony at Carnegie Hall. Also on the program were works of Glinka, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and Rachmaninoff (with Rachmaninoff as piano soloist). Walter Damrosch conducted.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841)
Franz Xaver Witt (1834-1888)
Alban Berg (1885-1935)
Harald Genzmer (1909-2007)
Hildegard Behrens (1937-2009)
Ryland Davies (1943)
Paul Hillier (1949)
Jay Reise 1950)
Marilyn Hill Smith (1952)
Amanda Roocroft (1966)

and

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)
James Stephens (1882-1950)
Brendan Behan (1923-1964)
J.M. (John Maxwell) Coetzee (1940)
Alice Walker (1944)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1893, Verdi's opera, "Falstaff," was first performed in Milan at the Teatro alla Scala. This was Verdi's last opera.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Jacob Praetorius (1586-1651)
André Grétry (1741-1813)
Osian Ellis (1928)
John Williams (1932)
Elly Ameling (1933)
Gundula Janowitz (1937)
Margaret Brouwer (1940)
Stephen Roberts (1948)
Irvine Arditti (1953)

and

Jules Verne (1828-1905)
Kate Chopin (1850-1904)
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)
Neal Cassady (1926-1968)
John Grisham (1955)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
Ossip Gabrilovich (1878-1936)
Eubie Blake (1883-1983)
Claudia Muzio (1889-1936)
Quincy Porter (1897-1966)
Lord Harewood (1923-2011)
Maruis Constant (1925-2004)
Stuart Burrows (1933)
Wolfgang van Schweintz (1953)

and

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957
Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)
Gay Talese (1932)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Henry Litolff (1818-1891)
Karl Weigl (1881-1949)
Andre Marchal (1894-1980)
Claudio Arrau (1903-1991)
Stephen Albert (1941-1992)
Paul Esswood (1942)
Bob Marley (1945-1981)
Bruce J. Taub (1948)
Matthew Best (1957)
Sean Hickey (1970)

and

Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
Eric Partridge (1894-1979)
George Herman "Babe" Ruth (1895-1948)
Mary Douglas Leakey (1913-1996)
Deborah Digges (1950-2009)
Michael Pollan (1955)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Ole Bull (1810-1880)
Christian Gottlob Neefe (1748-1798)
Ricardo Viñes (1875-1943)
Grazyna Bacewicz (1909-1969)
Jussi Björling (1911-1960)
Sir John Pritchard (1921-1989)
Luc Ferrari (1929-2005)
John Poole (1934)
Ivan Tcherepnin (1943-1998)
Josef Protschka (1944)
Phylis Bryn-Julson (1945)

and

Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron (1934)
John Guare (1938)
William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)
Christopher Guest (1948)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1887, Verd's: opera "Otello" premiered in Milan at the Teatro all Scala, with the composer conducting (and cellist Arturo Toscanini in the orchestra).