Thursday, April 26, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Erland von Koch (1910-2009)
Pierre Pierlot (1921-2007)
Teddy Edwards (1924-2003)
Wilma Lipp (1925)
Ewa Podleś (1952)
Patrizia Kwella (1953)

and

David Hume (1711-1776)
John James Audubon (1785-1851)
Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
Anita Loos (1889-1981)
Bernard Malamud (1914-1986)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Gottlieb Muffat (1690-1770)
Ella Fitzgerald (1918-1998)
Astrid Varnay (1918-2006)
Siegfried Palm (1927-2005)
Digby Fairweather (1946)
Truls Mørk (1961)

and

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Howard R. Garis (1873-1962)
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937)
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965)
David Shepherd (1931)
Ted Kooser (1939)
Padgett Powell (1952)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1841, at a fund-raising concert in Paris for the Beethoven monument to be erected in Bonn, Franz Liszt performs Beethoven's "Emperor" Concerto with Berlioz conducting. Richard Wagner reviews the concert for the Dresden Abendzeitung. The following day, Chopin gives one of his rare recitals at the Salle Pleyel, and Liszt writes a long and glowing review for the Parisian Gazette Musicale.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Report from the SHIFT Festival of American orchestras

Three colorful handkerchiefs from the SHIFT Festival

The SHIFT festival, a celebration of American orchestras at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., just completed its second year with four orchestras taking part in the weeklong festivities. I got the opportunity to hear three of the orchestras, because Music Critics Association of North America (MCANA) held its annual meeting during the festival period (April 9-15). So I enjoyed three concerts at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall by the Albany Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra (I missed the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, which performed earlier in the week).

The SHIFT festival, co-presented by the Washington Performing Arts and the Joh F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is very similar to the Spring for Music festival, which was held at Carnegie Hall from 2011-2014 in that the participating orchestras must fund their own way to the festivals and the main concert has a flat fee of $25 for all tickets. However, there are a couple of differences. The Spring for Music festival required that each orchestra sell 800 tickets for the concert whereas the SHIFT festival makes no such requirement. Also, the SHIFT festival asks that each orchestra give two or three “residency” performances in the Washington D.C. community. That does not mean that the entire orchestra has to play. It means that ensembles from the orchestra can do so.

On Thursday, April 12th, I heard the Albany Symphony’s new music ensemble, Dogs of Desire, give a residency performance at the Bind Whino SW Arts Center. The 18-member ensemble teamed up with vocalist Theo Bleckmann for an amplified jazz-blues-rock-pop-inflected cycle of songs by Kate Bush, Andrew Norman, Ted Hearne and others. Albany’s music director, David Allen Miller, conducted that sonic exploration as well as the entire orchestra on Wednesday, April 11th, at the Kennedy Center in a program of new works by Joan Tower, Michael Daugherty, Dorothy Chang, and Michael Torke. Pianist Joyce Yang was the featured soloist in Tower’s “Still/Rapids” and Torke’s “Three Manhattan Bridges.” Carol Jantsch, principal tubist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, took the spotlight in Daughtery’s “Reflections on the Mississippi” and three children’s choir collaborated with the instrumentalists to present Chang’s inspiring “The Mighty Erie Canal.”

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra took the stage at the Kennedy Center on Friday (April 13th) under the baton of its music director Krzysztof Urbanski, who chose a program of works from his native Poland. He started with a mesmerizing “Orawa” for string orchestra, based on Polish folk dance by Wojciech Kilar. Then things got deeper with an amazing performance by Alisa Wellerstein in Witold Lutoslawski’s Cello Concerto, followed by Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Credo.” The Penderecki piece took up almost all of the real estate with a large orchestra, five soloists, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. The soloists, soprano Erin Wall, mezzos Renee Tatum and Alyssa Martin, tenor Thomas Cooley, and bass Liudas Mikalauskas, sang with commitment, but Cooley pushed his voice out of bounds on some high notes.

One of the best things about the National Symphony Orchestra’s concert was the number of youth in the audience. It looked like at least a third of those in attendance were in college or high school. Music director Gianandrea Noseda put together a tribute to the great Russian baritone, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who had been originally scheduled for the concert. Each of Noseda’s selections had a strong Russian-Italian connection. First was Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella” after Pergolesi with soprano Madison Leonard,tenor Rexford Tester, and bass Andrew Bogard. Next came Balakirev’s “Islamey” in the arrangement by Casella with a very-full-sized orchestra (8 bass violins) that sort of blurred the tones when the full contingent was going a top speed. That was followed by five of Rachmaninov’s “Etudes-Tableaux” in an arrangement by Respighi. The musicians excelled the most with the Rachmaninov, conveying sounds from the soothing seashore, a lively fair, a funeral march, a lively Little Red Riding Hood and a howling wolf, and a high-stepping march to wind things up.

For the reviews of these concert, I gladly refer you to those posted by my colleagues in the Classical Voice of North America.

In the meantime, the SHIFT Festival is going to take a year off and resume in 2019. Hmm... maybe the Oregon Symphony could make an appearance in the near future...



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.