Sunday, October 21, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957)
Egon Wellesz (1885-1974)
Howard Ferguson (1908-1999)
Alexander Schneider (1908-1993)
Sir Georg Solti (1912-1997)
Dizzy (John Birks) Gillespie (1917-1993
Sir Malcom Arnold (1921-2006)
Marga Richter (1926)
Shulamit Ran (1949)
Hugh Wolff (1953)

and

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
Alfred Nobel (1833-1896)
Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Nesterowicz and the Oregon Symphony raise a glass to Finland, Poland, and Russia

The second classical concert of the Oregon Symphony’s season featured an up-and-coming conductor Michał Nesterowicz, who is the principal guest conductor of the Basel Symphony Orchestra, and violin virtuoso Karen Gomyo in a program that traversed through Finland, Russia, and Poland. The attendance at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Saturday, October 13, was rather thin, which was disappointing, considering the fact that Gomyo is a familiar artist for Portland audiences. She has appeared with the orchestra several times to great acclaim, starting in 2010 with Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto, continuing in 2011 with Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, followed by 2015 with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto.

This time around, Gomyo turned in a sterling performance of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto, conveying its wide range of dynamics and virtuosic demands and many nuances with impeccable technique. She expressed the many moods of the piece – whether brooding, frenzied, majestically soaring, or rhapsodically lyrical – with a firm commitment that delivered all of the goods. The audience loved her playing so much that it brought her back a couple of times. She complimented the applause with an encore, a “Tango Etude” by Astor Piazzolla.

In a nod to his homeland, Nesterowicz conducted music by Polish composers Witold Lutosławski and Wojciech Kilar that were grounded in folk tunes. Lutosławski’s “Little Suite,” a four-movement work inspired by melodies from the southeastern part of Poland, opened with a delightful piccolo solo that was played with Zachariah Galatis. The second movement featured a snappy, polka-esque pulse, and the third had an intense lyricism shaped initially by the woodwinds and then the embraced by the orchestra. The last movement seamlessly juxtaposed a bouncy dance tune against a rhapsodic and slightly melancholic song.

Kilar’s “Orawa” for string orchestral cast a hypnotic spell with its subtle rhythmic shifts and simple melodic lines. The piece, reflected the harvest-time music of the Polish Podhale region, suggested colors that were open and expansive then switched closed on denser textures. As the piece became faster and faster it got technically more difficult with sounds skittering in all directions. The final, striding chords was followed by a joyous “Hey!” from the musicians. The audience responded with enthusiasm and Nesterowicz signaled Concertmaster Sarah Kwak and principal cellist Nancy Ives for their solo contributions.

The orchestra concluded the concert with a robust performance of Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony. That’s the one that he wrote after WWII, snubbing the Soviet authorities who expected him to create a weighty, monumental work. Instead, the piece, even with five movements, was relatively brief and joyful.

Urged on by Nesterowicz, the musicians launched into the perky, busy, and cheerful first movement with relish. The second movement, with sensitive contributions by clarinetists James Shields and Mark Dubac and the solitary piccolo sound of Galatis was plaintively somber. The third offered a crazy quilt of drama with outstanding playing by principal trumpeter Jeffrey Work and the forceful brass. Of the fourth and fifth, I can attest to the amazingly evocative playing of principal bassoonist Carin Miller Packwood. She created a soulful sound that was unforgettable even after the orchestra wound the piece up in the galloping, spirited finale.

Because Nesterowicz is a very tall he chose not to use the podium, which allowed him a large area in which to move. His gestures were very natural and graceful, which connected well with the orchestra and soloist. I would like to hear him with the orchestra again but with a program that extends outside the boundaries of his homeland, the Baltics, and Russia. Hey!

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Friday, October 19, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

and from the Composers Datebook:

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

and from The Writer's Almanac:

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Today's Birthdays

Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745)
Franz [Ferenc] Doppler (1821-1883)
James Lockhart (1930)
Derek Bourgeois (1941)
Marin Alsop (1956)
Erkki-Sven Tüür (1959)
Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962-2017)

and

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

And from the Writer's Almanac:

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

Monday, October 15, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Friday, October 12, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

And from The Writer's Almanac:

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

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

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Monday, October 8, 2018

Guest conductor Märkl and Oregon Symphony impress with varied program

Whether the piece was Classical, Romantic, modern, or a world premiere – guest conductor Jun Märkl and the Oregon Symphony handled it all with panache. Märkl, a frequent guest with the orchestra since 2013, used his balletic style and pinpoint, to express the music of Haydn, Brahms, Copland, and Katherine Balch. It was a captivating tour-de-force program at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Monday, October 1, and it made me think that Märkl is a front-runner when the audition process opens up to replace the orchestra’s musical director, who will retire after the 2020/2021 season.

Each piece on the program was fascinating, starting with the world premiere of Balch’s “Chamber Music,” which was performed by the full orchestra. As Märkl noted in his opening remarks, the piece was like a discussion among groups within the orchestra. Quiet sounds dawdled, sliced, and slipped by in a random-like way. Now and then, the bass violins rapidly patted the sides of their instruments. The percussion section created a tinkle-like sound. The trumpets blared briefly. The woodwinds sounded like a wheezing harmonica. The piece was all very ephemeral with no melody ever emerging. It really tested my ears, and I would like to hear it again someday.

Haydn’s Symphony No. 83 (“Hen”) shifted gears (and ears) in a completely different direction with elegant and delightful melodic lines. Märkl’s fluid yet very articulate conducting elicited spot-on dynamic contrasts from the orchestra that made each movement intriguing. Among the best moments were the clucking sounds in the first movement, the subtle humor in the second, the dancing third, and the surging, perky style of fourth. Haydn just doesn’t get much better.

Inon Barnatan joined the orchestra for a scintillating performance of Copland’s Piano Concerto. The piece has elements of jazz and ragtime that often got jagged and jangly. Barnaton showed remarkable precision and expressivity at the keyboard, interacting with the orchestra with verve. There were soft sections, of course, and the clarinets snuck into the piece once or twice so quietly, it was as if their sound was perched on pillows.

Thunderous applause brought Barnatan back to the stage several times, and he indulged the listeners cooking up a very complex, fast, yet loosey-goosey version of Gershwin’s “I’ve Got Rhythm,” which brought down the house once again

After intermission Märkl led a very the orchestra in a marvelous performance of Brahms’s Fourth Symphony. The dynamics and choice of tempi gave the piece a compelling direction that never lagged was overly sentimental. Although the French horns had a couple of minor blips, the orchestra played it all at an extremely high level, and the audience responded with cheers. Märk shook hands with many members of the orchestra and seemed to be enjoying it all immensely. The third time he appeared, the orchestra refused to stand, allowing him to soak up the acclaim. It was a genuine musical love-fest.

Before the concert began, the orchestra’s president and CEO, Scott Showalter announced that the orchestra’s latest CD, “Aspects of America,” has been released on the Pentatone label. The CD contains music by Sean Shepherd, Sebastian Currier, Christopher Rouse, Kenji Bunch, and Samuel Barber. It is only available through Pentatone (a Dutch company) at the moment, but should be in the U.S. soon.

Correction: "Aspects of America" is available through Amazon. (Thanks to Elaine Calder's comment.)

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

From the Writer's Almanac:

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 5, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

And from the Composers Datebook:

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

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

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

And from the Composers Datebook:

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Vancouver Symphony kicks off 40th season with lively all-American concert

The Vancouver Symphony kicked off its 40th season on Saturday (September 29) with solid performances of works by Samuel Barber and Leonard Bernstein plus a world premiere by local composer and contra-bassoonist Nicole Buetti. Japanese virtuoso Mayuko Kamio, who opened the orchestra’s concert season a couple of years ago with Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, returned to Skyview Concert Hall to dazzle the audience this time with Barber’s Violin Concerto. Her appearance was all the more remarkable, because a problem with her visa almost caused her to cancel. Fortunately, Senator Maria Cantwell was able to stepped in and rescue the situation.

Kamio played the first two movements of the Barber with a warm, sweet sound and a graceful expressiveness that created a lyrical tapestry. The textures were imbued with a lush and romantic atmosphere that were almost nostalgic. The orchestra accompanied her playing with excellent dynamics, and Alan Juza set the pastoral tone of the second movement with a lovely solo.

The whirling dervish of sound in the third movement caught everyone’s attention as Kamio whipped through the fast-moving notes with incisive eloquence. Kamio’s fingers seemed to move at a speed that was humanly impossible, but the big screens on either side of the stage allowed everyone to follow along. The strings of the orchestra expertly caught fire alongside of her – earning kudos for their tight ensemble playing. As Kamio took her bows, they were applauding her vigorously – just like the listeners – with smiles everywhere.

Music Director Salvador Brotons invited Buetti to center stage to tell listeners a bit about her piece, called “Odyssey.” She explained how the piece came about through her interest in science and science fiction, which was promoted by her father.

“Odyssey” had cinematic feel that was very approachable. The opening salvo offered snarling glissandi from the brass that segued into a mysterious and slightly ominous theme for the entire orchestra. The piece grew quieter, and we could hear a melancholy duet that featured the contra-bassoon (Buetti) and tuba (Mark Vehrencamp). A flock of skittering violins interrupted the mood, which took on a new direction with a perky trio of bassoons leading the way. The rest of the orchestra became swept up into a dance-like melody, which gradually took on a more heroic flavor with all of the brass and timpani playing a prominent part. The piece ended triumphantly, and the audience responded with genuine enthusiasm and a standing ovation for the composer. It seems very likely that she will have to write another piece for the orchestra in the near future.

The Suite from Bernstein’s “Candide” in an arrangement by Charlie Harmon was performed with enough pizzazz to convey the major themes of the opera (or operetta or musical – depending on your point of view). The orchestra performed “I Am Easily Assimilated” with a snappy groove, the “Best of All Possible Worlds” percolated along, and “Make Our Garden Grow” carried plenty of emotional weight to wrap up the piece in an uplifting way. But the violins had an intonation problem on the high note at the beginning of the piece and there were some fumbled notes by the trumpets. Still, the music tickled my ears, and made me think that it would be wonderful to hear the orchestra do a concert version someday.
In similar way, the orchestra’s playing of the “Symphonic Dances” from Bernstein’s “West Side Story” got the main themes across but was a tad disjointed. The ensemble conveyed “Somewhere and “Mambo” and “Maria” with conviction, but sometimes the balance got warped, such as when the xylophone became too dominant during “Maria.” The “Rumble” section was wild enough to cause the audience to applaud, and Brotons wisely stiff-armed the noise so that the finale, the tragic “Somewhere” theme could be heard. Timpanist Forian Conzetti did an impressive amount of double duty with multiple instruments, and the percussion battery (with Diana Hnatiw on the drumset) deserved kudos for its many contributions to the underlying pulse of the piece.

Concertmaster Eva Richey serving refreshments during intermission

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

Monday, October 1, 2018

Today's Birthdays

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

and

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

and from the Composers Datebook:

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