Thursday, December 31, 2009

Seattle Symphony musicians and management nearing the crossroads

The musicians of the Seattle Symphony and its administrative people are on a collision course. Read this article in the Seattle Times and this analysis by Zach Carstensen in The Gathering Note. I recommend reading the Times article first for some basic background and then Carstensen's article for analysis and also for readers comments.
Addendum: Tim Hale, the chair of the Seattle Symphony & Opera Player's Association has written the players take on the situation here. Drew McManus, Mr. Adaptistration and one of the must astute observers of the orchestra world, posts additional commentary on his website here. It would be much better for Seattle to find the money to back its players and their vision to be a top-tier orchestra.

Vancouver Symphony (WA) deadline for young artists fast approching

The deadline for the Vancouver Symphony's Young Artist competition is coming up very soon. This Monday, January 4th, is the last day that participants can turn in their forms and recordings for consideration. Music students 18 years (by January 1, 2010) and younger - from SW Washington and the Portland metro area) compete in piano, strings or brass/woodwinds/percussion. A panel of judges selects the competition finalists and winners perform with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at its April concert. The entry fee is $25. Winners also receive a cash award: First prize: $1,000; Second prize: $500; Third prize: $250.

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra :
1220 Main Street, Suite 410
Vancouver, WA 98660
att: Douglas Peebles

For more information: (360) 735-7278

Today's Birthdays

Caroline Miolan‑Carvalho (1827-1895)
Ernest John Moeran (1894-1950)
Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940)
Nathan Milstein (1904-1992)
Jaap Schröder (1925)
Odetta (1930-2008)
Stephen Cleobury (1948)
Donna Summer (1948)
Jennifer Higdon (1962)


Henri Matisse (1869-1954)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Today's Birthdays

William Croft (1678-1727)
André Messager (1853-1929)
Alfred Einstein (1880-1952)
Dmitri Kabalevsky (1904-1987)
Paul Bowles (1910-1999)
Sir David Willcocks (1919)
Bruno Canino (1935)
June Anderson (1950)
Stephen Jaffe (1954)
Antonio Pappano (1959)


Theodor Fontane (1819-1898)
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
Sara Lidman (1923-2004)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Pablo Casals (1876-1973)
Lionel Tertis (1876-1975)
Yves Nat (1890-1956)
Peggy Glanville-Hicks (1912-1990)
Billy Tipton (1914-1989)


William Gaddis (1922-1998)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Check out Operaman for some current reviews

I've been taking a break from the reviewing scene, but my colleague Stephen Llewellyn has filed several reports from concerts he attended over the past week, including Portland Baroque's Messiah concert, the Portland Youth Philharmonic concert, and the Met's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" at the movie theater. You can read Operaman here.

Interview of the sound guy at the Schnitz

My interview with David Hoerz,the chief sound technician at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, is posted at Oregon Music News. I hope that you can take a few minutes to read it.

Today's Birthdays

Christian Cannabich (1731-1798)
Francesco Tamagno (1850-1905)
Roger Sessions (1896-1985)
Earl "Fatha" Hines (1905-1983)
Johnny Otis (1921)
Nigel Kennedy (1956)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Anne Midgette's top ten of the decade

Click this link to the Washington Post to read Anne Midgette's thoughts about classical music over the last ten years.

Today's Birthdays

Sir John Goss (1800-1880)
Tito Schipa (1888-1965)
Marlene Dietrich (1904-1992)
Oscar Levant (1906 - 1972)


Charles Olson (1910-1970)
Wilfrid Sheed (1930)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Silent Monks sing Halleluja chorus

This high school group has the silent monk schtick down!

Today's Birthdays

Leopold Mannes (1899-1964)
Maurice Gendron (1920-1990)
Thea King (1925-2007)
Earle Brown (1926-2002)
Phil Specter (1939)
Wayland Rogers (1941)
Harry Christophers (1953)
Andre-Michel Schub (1953)


Thomas Gray (1716-1771)
Henry Miller (1891-1980)
Jean Toomer (1894-1867)
Juan Felipe Herrera (1948)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Today's Birthdays

Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)
Giuseppe de Luca (1876-1950)
Gladys Swarthout (1900-1969)
Cab Calloway (1907-1994)
Noel Redding (1945-2003)
Jon Kimura Parker (1959)
Ian Bostridge (1964)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Peter Cornelius (1824-1874)
Nikolai Roslavets (1881-1944)
Charles Wakefield Cadman (1881-1946)
Sir Vivian Dunn (1908-1995)
Teresa Stich-Randall (1927-2007)
Mauricio Kagel (1931-2008)
Arnold Östman (1939)
Libby Larsen (1950)
Hans-Jürgen von Bose (1953)


Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
Dana Gioia (1950)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Un. of Cincinnati Conservatory faculty in revolt against dean

According to this report in the Cincinnati Enquirer, the faculty of the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music has given its dean Douglas Knehans a unanimous thumbs down.

Here's quick summary from Musical America (to which you need a subscription):
The faculty of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music has written a letter to Provost Tony Perzigian, UC’s top academic officer, declaring its complete lack of confidence in Douglas Knehans, the school’s dean since fall 2008.

Previously Knehans was director of the Conservatorium of Music in Tasmania, Australia.

His lack of administrative and communication skills have led to an irreparable rift. The letter makes clear its point of view in the opening paragraph:

“It is with a united and firm conviction the Faculty Committee of CCM presents to you the conclusion that relations between Dean Douglas Knehans and the CCM faculty have reached an irreparable end. No Dean can function without the trust of his faculty and Dean Knehans has neither.”

Stocking Stuffer

If you are looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, consider purchasing a pound of Symphony! coffee from Badbeard's Coffee or Spella Cafe. $2.00 of your purchase will benefit the Oregon Symphony's concert at Carnegie Hall in 2011. Ho, Ho, Ho!

Today's Birthdays

Joseph Boismortier (1689-1755)
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) alternate date
Ross Lee Finney (1906-1997
Claudio Scimone (1934)
Ross Edwards (1943)
Edita Gruberová (1946)
Elise Kermani (1960)
Han-Na Chang (1982)


Norman Maclean (1902–1990)
Robert Bly (1926)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787)
Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924)
Franz Schmidt (1874-1939)
Edgard Varèse(1883-1965)
Joseph Deems Taylor (1885-1966)
Alan Bush (1900-1995)
Andre Kostelanetz (1901-1980)
David Leisner (1953)
Jean Rigby (1954)
Zhou Tian (1981)


Jean Racine (1639-1699)
Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Seattle Opera's Perry Lorenzo - in Memorium

Seattle Opera's director of education Perry Lorenzo passed away this weekend because of lung cancer. This is a great loss for those of us who have benefited from the lectures that Lorenzo has given over the past 20 years in his role at Seattle opera.

Here is the news about Lorenzo from Seattle Opera's press release (dated today):
Seattle Opera’s General Director Speight Jenkins announced today that Perry Lorenzo, an internationally acclaimed speaker on opera and for almost twenty years Director of Education at Seattle Opera, passed away on December 19. He fought a valiant fight against lung cancer for the past seven months. He was 51.

Dedicated to introducing everyone to opera, Lorenzo lectured widely both here and abroad. He took a fledgling Education program at Seattle Opera and expanded it exponentially, drawing to him a devoted core of speakers and discussing opera in many forums. He worked with students in many communities all over the state as well as in the Seattle area. At Woodinville High School, for example, he was well known as the “Opera Guy.”

Under his leadership Seattle Opera instituted a system of preparing the 700 high school students who attend each of the Opera’s dress rehearsals. When the Opera received a grant to bring opera to students in the kindergarten-to-sixth-grades, Perry wrote and produced a 75-minute adaptation of Mozart’s Magic Flute, which is available on CD. His lectures on the Ring are also on CD.

Perry had long advocated a Young Artists Program at Seattle Opera, and in 1998 this program began with him as the director. He wanted the program to be performance-oriented, and he was always present at the auditions for the ten to twelve young professionals who have come into the program every year. He encouraged the program’s expansion and its annual full-scale production in Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. He was very proud that over 40 percent of Seattle Opera Young Artists are now making a living singing, including such major Metropolitan and La Scala artists as Lawrence Brownlee, Brandon Jovanovich, Sarah Coburn, and Mary Elizabeth Williams.

Perhaps his most important speech was not specifically on opera. He was scheduled to speak at Seattle’s Downtown Rotary on September 12, 2001. He scrapped his planned remarks and spoke on the value of art in even the worst of times, bringing the whole audience to its feet. He made his first trip to Europe in 1994, and in later summers spoke at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth. From New York to San Francisco—and in many cities in between—he spoke on the Ring (every Seattle Opera performance of which he had attended from 1975 until he became ill), other Wagner operas, and on other opera and symphonic subjects. No speaker on opera was ever more popular or converted more people to opera. He had the knack of speaking to everyone, the lifetime opera lover as well as the neophyte. His final line in his opera lectures was always the same: “It’s a romantic story, fabulous music, and one swell night in the theater.”

A very devout Catholic, he wrote on religious matters as well as operatic. His dedication to Catholicism and his ability to introduce his religion into his lectures became a hallmark of his work. He was a great advocate of Pope Benedict and had read all of his published works. At St. James Cathedral he was very active as a parishioner and teacher. He advocated ecumenism and frequently moderated panels with members of all faiths. He also gave many popular and very well-attended lecture courses at Seattle University.

Born in Hawaii and raised in Bellingham, Washington, Lorenzo graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane. After spending a short time in the Catholic Seminary there, he decided to become a teacher. For ten years he taught at Kennedy High School in Burien prior to coming to Seattle Opera, in 1992.

He is survived by his partner, Paul Hearn, and his father, Robert Lorenzo. Funeral arrangements are not complete, but the services will take place in St. James Cathedral. Seattle Opera will hold a celebration of Perry Lorenzo’s life on January 9, 2010, at 3:00 p.m. in the auditorium of Marion Oliver McCaw Hall in Seattle. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to Seattle Opera’s Perry Lorenzo Fund for In-School Education, or to St. James Cathedral.

For Jenkin's blog posting on Lorenzo, click here.

Third Angle CD on NPR top ten list

Congratulations are in order for the members of Third Angle whose latest recording, "Chen Yi: Sound Of The Five" was just picked for the NPR's top ten Classical Music recordings for 2009. Click here for the entire list.

The wacky and werid in the classical music world

Melinda Bargreen has compiled many of the oddities that took place in the classical music world over the past 12 months in this Seattle Times article:
News of the weird, from the classical music world: Conductor David Ott fell into an orchestra pit; composer Curtis Hughes wrote an opera about Sarah Palin; and baritone Bryn Terfel forgot his pants in 2009.

Honolulu Symphony files for Chapter 11

According to this report, the Honolulu Symphony has officially filed for bankruptcy. The financial struggle of the orchestra has been very hard on the musicians, who are sticking together and trying to remain upbeat in spite of it all. That's the word in this article from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Article-interview with Gregory Vajda

You can find my interview with Gregory Vajda about his new piece, "Gulliver in Faremido," in Oregon Music News today. Vajda's latest creation involves a narrator and a chamber music ensemble. So, the interview includes David Hill, who wrote the text and David Loftus, the actor who will do the narration at the performance with the Third Angle New Music Ensemble. This piece is Vajda's first US commission, and it should be a fascinating ride when it is presented on January 22nd at Kaul Auditorium.

Today's Birthdays

Zdeněk Fibich (1850-1900)
André Turp (1925-1991)
Frank Zappa (1940-1993)
Roger Lasher Nortman (1941)
Michael Tilson Thomas (1944)
András Schiff (1953)
Kim Cascone (1955)
Thomas Randle (1958)
Jonathan Cole (1970)


Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996)
Gordon Getty (1933)
John Harbison (1938)
Roger Woodward (1942)
Mitsuko Uchida (1948)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Fritz Reiner (1885-1963)
Edith Piaf (1915-1963)
Dalton Baldwin (1931)
Phil Ochs (1940-1976)
William Christie (1944)
Marianne Faithfull (1946)
Olaf Bär (1957)
Steven Esserlis (1958)
Rebecca Saunders (1967)


Italo Svevo (1861-1928)

CRPDX to present 3rd annual Bachxing Day on Dec. 26th

Following is a press release from Classical Revolution Portland:

Classical Revolution Presents The Third Annual:
Bachxing Day!! December 26th at The Someday Lounge
WHAT: Bachxing Day
WHO: Classical Revolution PDX
WHEN: December 26th, 2009. 9 PM
WHERE: The Someday Lounge – 125 NW 5th Ave, Portland OR 97209
COST: $5

Bachxing Day has become staple Portland celebration as members of Classical Revolution PDX perform their own interpretations of Bach sonatas, cello suites, cantatas and a special performance of the Third Brandenburg Concerto in honor of their third year at the Someday Lounge.

“Bachxing Day is always one of my favorite Classical Revolution events,” says CRPDX founder Mattie Kaiser, “the evening is all about how we personally express the music of one of the greatest composers of all time. At the Someday Lounge every interpretation is valid - whether it’s Bach on baritone, bassoon or banjo!”

All are encouraged to bring their instruments and show Classical Revolution how they play Bach. Audience members can also join in on the fun by creating ridiculous Bach names, puns and haikus to win prizes.

Happy Bachxing Day!

For more information please visit

As a sidenote, I'd like to add that this event is really a blast and there's no better way to shake off thos post-Xmas blues. I'll probably even be playing a little something at this one...


Friday, December 18, 2009

Northern Sinfonia chooses Mario Venzago

Mario Venzago, the former music director of the Indianapolis Symphony has been selected to lead the Northern Sinfonia orchestra, which is based in northeastern England at the Sage Gateshead complex. Venzago was forced out of his position at Indianapolis by President and CEO Simon Crookall for reasons that have remained unclear.

Here's more from the report in Musical America (which requires a subscription):

The Swiss born artist joins a conducting roster that includes Thomas Zehetmair, music director; Simon Halsey, principal conductor of choral projects and John Wilson, also principal conductor.

The Sinfonia, based at the Sage Gateshead complex in the northeast of England, traces its origins to 1958 and lays claim to being the first “permanent” chamber orchestra in Great Britain. Simon Clugston, performance program director of the Sage Gateshead, commented that Venzago had had an “instant rapport” with the orchestra and that the conductor had “always impressed us with the depth of his musicianship and the breadth of his repertoire.”

Venzago is conductor laureate of the Basel Symphony Orchestra and principal guest of the Deutsche Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland Pfalz in Ludwigshafen, starting next season. He also guest conducts widely and is the former principal conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

Bach Cantata Choir performance this evening

My colleague here at the Verb, Lorin Wilkerson, and I are singing in tonight's performance of Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" (parts 4-6) and Vivaldi's "Gloria" with the Bach Cantata Choir. Ralph Nelson is directing the concert, which includes orchestra and several soloists, including Irene Weldon, Nan Haemer, Jacob Herbert, and Byron White. The concert is at 7:30 at Rose City Park Presbyterian Church (1907 NE 45th Avenue in Portland). I hope to see you there.

Today's Birthdays

Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)
Edward MacDowell (1860-1908)
Rita Streich (1920-1987)
William Boughton (1948)
David Liptak (1949)
Christopher Theofanidis (1967)


Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Christopher Fry (1907-2005)
Abe Burrows (1910-1985)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

PSU Piano Club to raise their voices and cast some sunshine

This evening at 7 pm, the Portland State Piano club will hold a CD release party and benefit for “My Voice Music” and “Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division” at Sherman Clay/Moe’s Pianos (131 NW 13th Ave. in Portland). The event includes live performances by Portland State University music students. All of the proceeds and donations will go directly to My Voice Music and The Sunshine Division.

My Voice Music is a non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon that engages marginalized youth in music and performance in order to promote self-esteem, social skills and emotional expression. This organization works with local schools to provide free music programs for the youth in need. All of their services are free. The funding for their services are all provided through their volunteers and partnerships.

The Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division is a non-profit emergency food relief organization. The Division has been in operation since the early 1920’s and continues to offer emergency food relief as a result of cash and food donations from public.

Seattle Symphony president to resign

According to this report in the Seattle Times, Thomas Philion has announced that he will resign from his position as president of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra when his contract runs out in June of next year. Philion has been the president of the SSO for the past couple of years, and this announcement was unexpected. Let's hope that the SSO doesn't try to hire Oregon Symphony's president Elaine Calder.

Also, Zach Carstensen at The Gathering Note has more analysis about the situation at the Seattle Symphony. Carstensen thinks that the SSO has experienced a lot of turbulence over the past years and Philion's impending exit is just another example of this.

Today's Birthdays

Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801)
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979)
Ray Noble (1903-1975)
William Wordsworth (1908-1988)
Art Neville (1937)


Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939)
William Safire (1929-2009)
John Kennedy Toole (1937-1969)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Leno vs. Chanticleer

According to this brief missive in The San Francisco Chronicle, Leno lip-synced with Chanticleer in one of his monologue. Now Chanticleer has returned the favor with a mocking - tongue-in-chin video:

Today's Birthdays

Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967)
Turk Murphy (1915-1987)
Steve Allen (1921-2000)
Dame Thea King (1925-2007)
Kenneth Gilbert (1931)
Philip Langridge (1939)
Trevor Pinnock (1946)
Isabelle van Keulen (1966)


Jane Austin (1775-1817)
George Santayana (1863-1952)
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
Sir Noël Coward (1899-1973)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Lotte Schöne (1891-1981)
Stan Kenton (1911-1979)
Ida Haendel (1924)
Eddie Palmieri (1936)
Nigel Robson (1948)
Jan Latham-Koenig (1953)


Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000)
Edna O'Brien (1930)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Vajda gets enthusiastic review in Seattle

The Seattle Times has a very positive review of Gregory Vajda appearance on the podium with the Seattle Symphony last weekend. You can catch the review here.

Interview with Classical Millennium's Michael Parsons

My interview with Michael Parsons, Mr. Classical Millennium, is posted on Oregon Music News here. Also, Oregon Music News is sponsoring a contest that gives away tickets and other cool things if you make an intelligent comment on the article. Click here to find out more details about the contest and good luck!

Today's Birthdays

Georges Thill (1897-1984)
Spike Jones (1911-1965)
Rosalyn Tureck (1914-2003)
Dame Ruth Railton (1915-2001)
Ron Nelson (1929)
Christopher Parkening (1947)
Thomas Albert (1948)
John Rawnsley (1949)


Shirley Jackson (1919-1965)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Josef Lhévinne (1874-1944)
Eleanor Robson Belmont (1879-1979)
Samuel Dushkin (1891-1976)
Victor Babin (1908-1972)
Alvin Curran (1938)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A brief talk with Grammy nominee Gonzalo X. Ruiz

Acclaimed Baroque oboist Gonzalo X. Ruiz is featured with Monica Huggett in a new recording by the Ensemble Sonnerie of Bach’s Orchestral Suites For A Young Prince. This recording has just received a Grammy nomination in the category for Best Small Ensemble Performance.

Ruiz was in town last weekend to play with the Portland Baroque Orchestra, and I got to do a brief interview with him.

Congratulations on your Grammy nomination!

Ruiz: Thanks! This nomination feels really great! We do make a lot of recordings, and each time we feel that that each recording should get noticed. But this one, in particular, I had hoped would get noticed, because this had been my baby. It had been years in planning. It’s my version of the four Bach suites – what I think are the original versions – including a brand new reconstruction of the second suite. So, I really put myself out there, and it’s extremely gratifying that this recording was nominated.

So you did a lot of research for this music?

Ruiz: I had access to high-quality photo reproductions of all the original materials.

Is this the first Grammy that you’ve been nominated for?

Ruiz: Yes, I’ve been on orchestra recordings that have been nominated for Grammys, but this one is more personal, and I’m much more involved with my name on the front cover and all that.

When did you do the recording?

Ruiz: About a year ago. It typically takes about six months to get a CD to market after you recorded the music. It got some nice reviews after it came out, and then I got the email that it’s on the Grammy list.

Are you still based in Boston, because I thought that you now teach with Monica Huggett at Juilliard in New York City?

Ruiz: Yes, I’m still in Boston, but I’ll probably move to New York this summer. That’s the current plan. My wife and don’t want to make the move now because we have two elementary school kids.

Congratulations again on the nomination and best of luck to you.

Ruiz: Thanks!


For a detailed description of Ruiz’s contribution to the Bach recording, go to the ArchivMusic website. Also, this music will be performed in Portland Baroque Orchestra concert series featuring Ruiz and Huggett on May 14-16.

Today's Birthdays

Frank Sinatra (1915-1998)
Sir Philip Ledger (1937)
Donald Maxwell (1948)
Margaret Tan (1953)
Jaap van Zweden (1960)
David Horne (1970)


Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880)
Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
John Osborne (1929-1994)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
Elliott Carter (1908)
David Ashley White (1944)
Neil Mackie (1946)


Grace Paley (1922-2007
Thomas McGuane (1939)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mattaliano gets a nice mention in The New Yorker

Alex Ross, the classical music critic of The New Yorker, commented positively on the recent production of "Esther" at the New York City Opera and mentioned Christopher Mattaliano specifically.
And the production came off handsomely. Christopher Mattaliano's 1993 staging, a sleek affair that relies on projections rather than hulking sets, has aged well."

- from page 86 of The New Yorker magazine, November 30, 2009

Today's Birthdays

César Franck (1822-1890)
Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
Morton Gould (1913-1996)
Sesto Bruscantini (1919-2003)
Nicholas Kynaston (1941)
Julianne Baird (1952)
Kathryn Stott (1958)
Sarah Chang (1980)


Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Adolf Loos (1870-1933)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Young talent sought for fellowship at Chamber Music Northwest

Every year Chamber Music Northwest chooses a few extremely talented musicians for its Young Artists Fellowship. Those who are selected benefit from the program in many ways, including coaching from top-tier pros who come to CMNW's summer festival. Anyone string player, wind player, or pianist who has the chops and is between the ages of 12 and 22 can apply. For details about the program, click here.

Today's Birthdays

Joaquin Turina (1882-1949)
Conchita Supervia (1895-1936)
Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (1915-2006)
Dennis Eberhard (1943-2005)
Christopher Robson (1953)
Donny Osmond (1957)
Joshua Bell (1967)


John Milton (1608-1674)
Ödön von Horváth (1901-1938)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Review of Tallis Scholars concert

Last night I heard the Tallis Scholars give one of the best choral concerts I have ever heard. My review of the concert is in Oregon Music News.

Work For Art - funds that match your donation

Here's a great way to stetch your donation to the arts: contribute to Work for Art. This is a non-profit organization that will double your donation and forward it to a local arts group. Also, if you donate $60 or more, you will receive a handy Arts Card that will give you some great 2 for 1 ticket deals!

Here are more details from the web site:
Donations to Work for Art support more than 80 vital arts and culture organizations every year—encompassing dance, visual arts, music, film arts, theater, cultural arts, and arts education. Donors can be confident that their dollars are supporting well-run groups that have undergone a rigorous grant application process. Any 501(c)(3) arts and culture organization based in Clackamas, Multnomah, or Washington Counties is eligible to apply for these grants. A full 100% of donations that Work for Art receives goes straight to our funded arts organizations.

In appreciation of your gift of $60 or more to Work for Art, we’ll send you an Arts Card. This offers you 2-for-1 tickets at hundreds of arts and culture events for a full year at more than 50 organizations. We’ll also send you an e-newsletter that tells you where you can use your Arts Card each month.

Today's Birthdays

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
Manuel Ponce (1882-1948)
Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Gérard Souzay (1920)
Sir James Galway (1939)


Horace (65-8 B.C.)
Diego Rivera (1886-1957)
Mary Gordon (1949)
Bill Bryson (1951)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Review of the Oregon Symphony concert with Yefim Bronfman

My review of the Oregon Symphony concert with Yefim Bronfman is in Oregon Music News here.

Review of Portland Baroque and interview with PBO concertmaster Carla Moore

You can find my review of this past weekend's Portland Baroque Concert with Alexander Weimann in Oregon Music News. Also I interviewed Carla Moore, PBO's concertmaster in Oregon Music News as well.

Today's Birthdays

Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945)
Ernst Toch (1887-1964)
Rudolf Friml (1879-1972)
Daniel Jones (1912-1993)
Helen Watts (1927)
Harry Chapin (1942)
Daniel Chorzempa (1944)
Tom Waits (1949)
Kathleen Kuhlmann (1950)


Willa Cather (1873-1947)
Joyce Cary (1888-1957)
Noam Chomsky (1928)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Review of PSU Symphony's Destinies and Destinations concert

By guest reviewer Stephen Llewellyn (aka Operaman)

As any of you who read my weekly Operaman’s blog will know by now I am no musicologist. Furthermore, let me tell you right off that I was Northwest Reverb’s fourth-string option to review last Friday evening’s concert given by the Portland State University Symphony Orchestra. So your reading this is a bit like you going to a Minnesota Vikings game expecting to see Brett Favre and getting Sage Rosenfels. You may just catch him on a day that he's great of course, but that's unlikely and he’s not what you paid good money for. That having been said, I did attend that concert and have some moderately cogent thoughts about what I saw and heard so try and stay with me here, okay?

If your idea of a wonderful orchestral concert includes going into the intermission with memories of a grand Beethoven overture still sounding in your head but fighting with the sparkling tunes of the Mozart Piano Concerto that followed it, then the first half of Friday’s concert afforded you a great opportunity to stay home in the warm, pour yourself a scotch and watch a rerun of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or, perhaps, World Wrestling’s Friday Night Smackdown. If, however, you did go to Saint Mary’s Cathedral you would have found the first half of the gig opened with Heiner Goebbel's Surrogate Cities Sampler Suite which segued into Ernest Bloch’s Concerto Grosso Number 2. And if you went, then I hope you had as splendid a time as I did.

I should begin by mentioning the venue. I have been to only one concert previously in this church and was very disappointed by the sound. Not so on Friday evening. The sound was warm without being mushy and from my seat (about a half of the way back and on the aisle,) I was able to hear every note as clear as a bell. I attribute this to conductor Ken Selden having paid very close attention in rehearsal to matters such as balance within the orchestra and vis-à-vis the audience. Thank you, Maestro. It made a huge difference to my level of enjoyment.

One of the problems with giving a piece a lengthy and somewhat curious title, and then naming all of the 'movements' after baroque dances, is that it induces expectations in the audience. In this case, one might well have looked at the programme and said to ones self "Ah. Somehow this work is going to make me think of a city within the context of pieces of music that will remind me of 18th century dances." Well, I think Mr Goebells is having a little private joke here. Alternatively, while listening to Lully and Rameau and reading the record sleeve that referred to things such as Menuet and Gavotte, he was doing some really wicked acid. Not for a moment, however, did that detract from my enjoyment of the work which I found to be quirky, whimsical and imaginative. But the movement marked Bourée? I know Bourées, Mr Goebbels and that was no Bourée. The imaginative orchestration includes a sampler, a computer-programmed instrument that produces synthesized sound in accordance with instructions 'written in' to the machine ahead of the performance. Lisa Marsh was a fine soloist on this instrument.

I am somewhat ashamed to have to admit that I came very late to the Ernest Bloch musical party in celebration of the 50th anniversary of his death. It has been going on all year, largely without me, but I finally showed up at the door and brought a good bottle of wine so they let me in. I am very happy. My first exposure to Bloch was Elmar Oliveira’s stunning performance of Baal Shem at Chamber Music Northwest’s Summer Festival, which James Bash reviewed here. More recently I heard the Portland Youth Philharmonic perform two interludes from his opera Macbeth. I have also taken the opportunity to listen to some recordings and I no longer need to be persuaded that Bloch wrote music of the highest order and that Oregon is justly very proud that he chose to make it his home.

Bloch’s Concerto Grosso Number 2, written in 1952, is scored for just sixteen string players. Now, if you are designing a concert for an amateur orchestra that is a bold choice because with such small forces, every instrumental part is, at some point, very exposed, and matters such as faulty intonation are laid bare for all to hear. Maestro Selden played a brilliant card by bringing in some ringers – in this case four string players from the Third Angle New Music Ensemble. This seeding of the strings had two excellent results. Firstly, of course, the Third Angle players provided a solid base in support of the other instrumentalists. Additionally, though, their presence raised everyone else’s game. What we got as a result was string playing that was disciplined, virtually pitch-perfect and displaying remarkable ensemble. The piece itself is just gorgeous! It put me very much in mind of the works for string orchestra of Vaughan Williams. I do not mean this in the sense that Bloch was ripping off VW’s style or that he was displaying himself as a Vaughan Wannabee. I mean that he wrote a piece that is lush, romantic, dense and complex while being melodic and charming. It also demonstrated what you can do with strings if they are not fighting to be heard over a brass section. I liked it so well I have just purchased if from And had there been a recording of what I heard on Friday, that is the one I would have bought. That's how well I liked it.

After the intermission we were treated to a brilliant performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto with soloist Hye Jun Yang. Ms Yang won first prize in the 2009 PSU Symphony Concerto Competition. It's not hard to see how she did that. From the opening notes of the first movement she showed technical command and emotional restraint which combination allowed us to sit back, comfortable in the knowledge that she was up to the physical demands of the piece, while letting the music move us without her trying to superimpose dramatic effect. There were one or two minor problems of intonation in the first movement. I put them down to nerves. When set against the gorgeous overall effect she achieved they were inconsequential. I mention them not to nit pick, but because she knows they were there and to omit any mention of them would be to deny the attention I paid to her playing and the degree to which she drew me in to her first-rate performance. In the lento section of the second movement, Ms Yang gave us ravishing tone and the virtuoso passages of the final movement's allegro were presented in a fluid and unaffected style. Throughout, Maestro Selden had his orchestra provide exemplary support. I should make specific mention of the woodwind section which was crisp and very well balanced. This was a totally captivating performance and it was received with the enthusiasm it deserved.

Addendum and clarification from James Bash: I did contact Stephen because I and my colleague Lorin Wilkerson and regular guest reviewer Aaron Barenbach were not available to review this concert. Stephen might say that he is fourth-stringer, but he is a first-rate writer.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703)
Ira Gershwin (1896-1983)
Dave Brubeck (1920)
Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929)
Henryk Górecki (1933)
Tomas Svoboda (1939)
John Nelson (1941)
Daniel Adni (1951)
Bright Sheng (1955)
Matthew Taylor (1964)


Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Gregory Vajda nominated for MIDEM Classical Award

Oregon Symphony's resident conductor Gregory Vajda is the conductor on a recording of music by Péter Eötvös that has been nominated for a MIDEM Classical Award 2010. The recording is of Eötvös's "As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams." It is among three recordings nominated for MIDEM Classical Award 2010.

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Geminiani (1687-1762)
Little Richard (1932)
José Carreras (1946)
Krystian Zimerman (1956)
Osvaldo Golijov (1960)


Christina (Georgina) Rossetti (1830-1894)
Joan Didion (1934)
Calvin Trillin (1935)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tallis Scholars concert almost sold out

Monday night's concert by the Tallis Scholars is almost sold out. That's the news I just received via email from Linda Magee, executive director of Chamber Music Northwest. CMNW is sponsoring this concert by the Tallis Scholars as part of its Encore Series. This vocal ensemble is the ne plus ultra when it comes to Renaissance music. For more information, click here.

Food Banks and Music Making

Two performances this weekend will help to stock up the shelves at the Oregon Food Bank. The Oregon Symphony concerts with pianist Yefim Bronfman are gasking patrons to write a check for the Oregon Food Bank, because Bronfman is a big supporter of food banks. He gave a concert for the Food Bank for New York City at Grand Central Station, and you can read about it here.

Another concert that will benefit the Oregon Food Bank will take place on Sunday afternoon (4 pm) at St. John Fisher Catholic Church (7106 S.W. 46th Avenue, Portland). This is a collaborative choir concert that features the choirs of First Immanuel Lutheran Church, St. John Fisher Catholic Church, and St. Luke Lutheran Church. The program consists of the Magnificat" of Pergolesi, the cantata "In Dulci Jubilo" by Buxtehude, "And the Glory of the Lord" by Handel, and other shorter works and hymns of the season. Conductors Dan Hibbett and Ralph Nelson direct the 80-voice combined choir and string orchestra in this one-hour celebration of music for the Advent season. There is no admission charge, but an offering of cash or checks will be collected to benefit the Oregon Food Bank. (PS. I'll be singing in this concert.)

Today's Birthdays

André Campra (1660-1744)
Sir Hamilton Harty (1879-1949)
Alex North (1910-1991)
Yvonne Minton (1938)
Lillian Watson (1947)
Andrew Penny (1952)


Thomas Carlyle (1795-1891)
Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

John Richards to take final bow with MYS band

Dr. John Richards will conduct the Metropolitan Youth Symphonic Band this Friday at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for the last time. Richards played principal tuba with the Oregon Symphony for over 50 years and is one of the most remarkable and energetic people I have ever met. He can play almost any instrument, has a collection of tubas that stretches back to the earliest kinds of tubas, has extensively travelled the globe, grew up on a farm in Idaho, served with military bands during WWII, has a doctorate in psychology and taught at Lewis & Clark College for many years. Richards has also rescued many tubas and other brass instruments from schools that were shutting down their music programs. He started the Tuba Christmas event and was the director of the MYS Symphonic Band.

Richards will conduct the "March of the Belgian Paratroopers" at the concert on Friday.

Huggett and Bronfman nominated for Grammys

The Grammy nominiations are in.

Monica Huggett has been nominated for her conducting of Bach's Orchestral Suite for a Young Prince with the Ensemble Sonnerie.

Yefim Bronfman, who is in town to play with the Oreogn Symphony, has been nominated for his playing of Salonen's Piano Conccerto.

Here are the details:

Category 104, Best Small Ensemble Performance
(Award to the Ensemble (and to the Conductor.)

Bach: Orchestral Suites For A Young Prince
Monica Huggett, conductor; Gonzalo X. Ruiz; Ensemble Sonnerie
[Avie Records]

Category 101, Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra)
(Award to the Instrumental Soloist(s) and to the Conductor.)

Salonen, Esa-Pekka: Piano Concerto
Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor; Yefim Bronfman (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
Track from: Salonen
[Deutsche Grammophon]

Today's Birthdays

Nicolo Amati (1596-1684)
Anton Webern (1883-1945)
Halsey Stevens (1908-1989)
Nino Rota (1911-1979)
Irving Fine (1914-1962)
Charles Craig (1919-1997)
Paul Turok (1929)
José Serebrier (1938)
Matt Haimovitz (1970)


Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday music

There's no question that Christmas brings an opportunity for music groups to make some money. Just like the "Nutcracker" in the ballet world, Handel's "Messiah" is almost a sure bet to fill all of the seats in the house. There is usually plenty of people who either want to sing this piece or hear it. The Portland Baroque Orchestra has done very well with their "Messiah" concerts over a number of years and have added a "Messiah" singalong concert. For those of you who missed that singalong, you have another chance at Central Lutheran (1820 Northeast 21st Avenue) on December 18th. (The Central Lutheran singalong is not a PBO event.)

But aside from the Messiah concerts, there are many other holiday concerts. One of the best places to find out about them is to look at the PDX Choral Calendar. This calendar contains dates, times, and links in a simple format. Please take a look at this calendar, and you'll find a concert that will help you to get into the holiday spirit.

Today's Birthdays

Harry T. Burleigh (1866-1949)
Harriet Cohen (1895-1967)
Sir John Barbirolli (1899-1970)
Robert Moevs (1920-2007)
Maria Callas (1923-1977)
Irina Arkhipova (1925)
Jörg Demus (1928)


Georges-Pierre Seurat (1859-1891)
T. Coraghessan Boyle (1948)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today's Birthdays

Agathe Grøndahl (1847-1907)
Gordon Crosse (1932)
Lou Rawls (1933-2006)
Bette Midler (1945)
Rudolf Buchbinder (1946)
Leontina Vaduva (1960)


Dame Alicia Markova (1910-2004)