Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Classical Revolution Portland incorporates as a Non-Profit

CRPDX, one of the mainstays in P-town's vibrant alternative classical music scene, has incorporated as a non-profit after much hard work. They are currently seeking Founding Revolutionaries---the first 50 people to join as a sustainer at $10/month or donate $100 outright get to be CRPDX's bff and listed as such on the website.

If you are able, please consider supporting this group that has done so much through the years to spread the gospel of classical music. By presenting chamber music in non-traditional venues and formats they have done excellent work towards the goal of reaching as many people as possible with this wonderful art-form. They are truly worth your hard-earned arts-supporting dollar, and any donation large or small is gratefully accepted. Viva la Revolucion!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Radio sound-effects guy for Prairie Home Companion dies

The great sound-effects man for Prairie Home Companion, Tom Keith, died on Sunday, October 30th died of a heart attack on Sunday at his home in Woodbury, Minnesota. He was 64 years old.

Here are some obituaries about Keith:

- Minnesota Public Radio News
- Minneapolis Star Tribune
- St. Paul Pioneer Press
- Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion (with video clips)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tenor needed for a Christmas party

Tenor needed for quartet performing Italian Christmas repertoire, about 15 minutes worth, accompanied by strings and keyboard, at a large house party on Dec. 10, beginning at 5 p.m. There will be three rehearsals (10/19, 11/16, and 12/2).

There is lots of food, drinks, and music music music (mostly strings) at these events. The setting is quite spectacular.

The rehearsals take place near Lewis and Clark.

Please contact Joan at, if interested.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mamma Mia lights up ABBA fans in Portland

If you are looking for a lighthearted story that is punctuated by the music of ABBA, then Mamma Mia is your ticket. It’s a cheesy, spandex-driven musical that will make you want to get out of your seat and start dancing. That was the scene at Keller Auditorium, when I attended Mamma Mia on Tuesday evening (August 23), which was the first night of its weeklong run in Portland as part of its North American tour.

Perhaps there is no way to explain the enduring popularity of ABBA’s music, which sold in the millions when the Swedish pop group was one of the hottest acts on the planet forty years ago. But the success of the musical, which has been playing in London since 1999, has inspired productions all over the world and a hit film version in 2008. So it is no wonder that the audience (which was predominately female) loved every second of ABBA standards like “Dancing Queen,” “Super Trouper,” “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” and “SOS.” All that was missing was a disco ball.

The musical is set on a Greek island, where a young woman is preparing to get married. She would like to be given away by her father, but she doesn’t know who her real father is. After she finds one of her mother’s old diaries, she discovers that her mother’s dalliances with three men many years ago probably means that one of them is her father. She then invites the three men to her wedding, and they actually show up. Tensions flare and a lot of dodging, singing, and dancing goes on before the final outcome.

The volume of the show on Tuesday night was turned up so high that the sound became slightly distorted at the beginning of the show. The sound crew might have been trying too hard to overcompensate for the vastness of Keller Auditorium, or they might have been trying to aid the voice of Kaye Tuckerman, who had a tough time projecting her lower range but did well in all other aspects as the mother. Chloe Tucker outstandingly conveyed the wishful naiveté of the young bride to be. The show was almost stolen by Mary Callanan as the mother’s overweight friend. Alison Ewing as the mother’s surgically-enhanced friend was also superb. The prospective fathers were expertly portrayed by Jeff Applegate, Paul De Boy, and John-Michael Zuerlen.

The exceptional comic timing, energetic dancing, and over-the-top pantomiming (while dancing and singing) made Mamma Mia delightful. But the touring version relied too heavily on one set, which depicted the outside of a hotel and courtyard (and later the nave of a church). Another set would have been refreshing.

Although the entire audience was standing and cheering at the end of the show, the bonus finale that included glitzy ABBA-inspired costumes raised the rooftop with singing from all corners. That was a great way to end the evening.

There may be some tickets left for the remaining performances of Mamma Mia on Saturday (August 27) and Sunday (August 28). Contact Broadway Across America.

Friday, August 19, 2011

How to get Schrott and Netrebko in Portland

Since Erwin Schrott and Oregon Symphony conductor Carlos Kalmar are natives of Montevideo Uruguay, it might be possible for Kalmar to appeal to his fellow countryman for an appearance with the Oregon Symphony. Of course, that would mean a duet opportunity for Schrott and his wife Anna Netrebko.

Well, it's a long, long shot, but you have to start somewhere.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

New stuff at Oregon Music News

Just a quick link to a couple of new articles up at Oregon Music News:

An interview with Bobby Ray of The Electric Opera Company
proved most enlightening! I'll be at their show with CRPDX at the Alberta Rose Theatre tomorrow night. I guarantee you won't have more of a blast anywhere in the 503 for 8 bucks on Friday.

I reviewed Hideki Yamaya's latest CD
: a recording of Roncalli's Capricci Armonici sopra la Chitarra Spagnola for baroque guitar. Hideki is one of my very favorite solo baroque stylists in a city that is absolutely crazy for early music, boasting many top-notch performers. Simply put, this CD is marvelous.

Click on the links above for the articles and further linkage.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CRPDX and Electric Opera Company team up in 'Sympathy for the Devil'

Electric Opera Company and Classical Revolution PDX Present:
Sympathy for the Devil
A classically inspired rock concert at the Alberta Rose Theater

Portland’s favorite Electric Guitar Orchestra collides with the city’s
most accessible Chamber Ensemble to show you a side of classical music you’ve never even dreamed of, but will never want to leave behind…

PORTLAND — Alternative Classical Music. You could say they’re polar opposites. The guitarists of Electric Opera Company bringing their modern instruments into classical settings play the Ying to Classical
Revolution PDX’s Yang of chamber instrumentalists playing at bars and other comfortable settings. But this is a case where opposites
attract for a common goal: Making Classical Music more accessible to
the everyday listener!

Classical Revolution and Electric Opera Company will bring their
trademark stylings of 18th century masterworks to the Alberta Rose
Theater on August 19th for a concert that won’t soon be forgotten.
The theme is “Sympathy for the Devil” and there’s a heavy helping of
“Diablo in musica” in store including the Danse Macabre, selections
from Gounod’s Faust, Chopin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and
plenty more surprises. Bring your beer drinking fists and wear
whatever you want, its classical music for the 21st century!

Classical Revolution PDX in a Nutshell
Classical Revolution PDX offers chamber music performances in highly accessible venues, such as bars and cafes. By taking chamber music out of the recital hall and making it more accessible to an audience who does not otherwise hear such music in a live context, Classical Revolution strives to make the public aware that classical music is still relevant and can be enjoyed by all.

"Will the demise of appreciation for classical music be reversed by the Classical Revolution movement? Time will tell, it's transformational, it's unforgettable and every pair of ears that hears it is going to pass the word on. Now that's the stuff of revolutions alright." - Zaph Mann, OPB Music

Electric Opera Company in a Nutshell
Electric Opera Company is dedicated to revitalizing the popularity of
opera and classical music through education and performance; and to
breaking down the barriers to these arts by presenting them in a
modern, accessible medium. This accessible medium is the Fifteen
Piece Electric Guitar orchestra, in which musicians play the exact
parts as written by the composer. But the instruments typically
associated with classical music are replaced with an army of electric
guitars, keyboards, and drums.

The orchestra has been making waves around town as both a rock band teaching adults that classical music is way more awesome than they think it is, a company that produces fully staged operas, and an educational outreach group teaching kids basically the same thing. They’ve been spotted in opera houses, rock venues, middle schools, elementary schools, music festivals, non-profits, and more, spreading
the gospel of classical music to the unsuspecting.

Calendar Listing
What: Sympathy for the Devil, a concert featuring Electric Opera
Company and Classical Revolution PDX

Who: Produced by Electric Opera Company and Classical Revolution PDX.
Arranged by Bobby Ray and Adam Goodwin. Musical direction by

When/Where: Friday, August 19th, 8:00 pm – Minors OK when accompanied
by a parent or guardian
The Alberta Rose Theater 3000 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR (503) 719-6055

Why: To bring the joy of Classical Music to those who might not
experience it otherwise, and to share a new lens through which to view
a timeless favorite.

Tickets: $8 at the door or purchased online at

Mattie Kaiser
Executive Director | Classical Revolution PDX

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Filmusik and Federale rock the house with 'The Grand Duel'

Filmusik, Portland's homegrown musical idea whose name expresses exactly what it does, delivered another bang-up performance with the live-soundtrack rendition of 'The Grand Duel,' a spaghetti western of the best (worst?) kind Thursday night at the Hollywood Theater.

Federale, a local band who specializes in the dramatic music of the kind found in this genre, performed a live version of the soundtrack. The main theme is probably better known to most audiences from its appropriation by Quentin Tarantino for the soundtrack to 'Kill Bill Vol. 1.' The iconic harmonium melody, doubled at various times by soprano or trumpet, was accompanied by a perfect high lonesome whistle from one of the band members (and quite an excellent display of whistling prowess it was.) After all, what's spaghetti western music without the whistling?

The performance gave you everything you want from this genre, in which, let's face it, the music is much better than the film. And much more intense from being live and in your face. The film itself was a delicious, laughable bit of nonsense, full of hyperbole, melodrama, gratuitous nudity, stereotypes, and hatchet-faced Europeans with bad teeth somehow trying to pass themselves off as Americans, replete with oompa-loompa-cum-John-Boehner tans. Starring the iconic Lee Van Cleef as a sheriff out to save an innocent man from hanging and bent on revenge agains the cruel Patriarch, this film needed great music to save it from itself.

Federale betrayed a keen understanding of the musical needs of this genre, from gritty verismo atmospherics in which inglorious death is all around, to sinister carefully layered mood music, full of atonalism and sound-effects that also showcased the droning surf-rock origin behind much of the guitar work.

Another worthwhile endeavor from Galen Huckins and Filmusik, the final performance takes place tonight at 8 pm at the Hollywood Theater.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

John Richards - longtime Oregon Symphony member and tuba virtuoso passes

I've just received word that John Richards, former principal tuba of the Oregon Symphony for 53 years, died earlier today. Richards was a phenomenal musician and a real Mensch. He had a doctorate in psychology and taught a Lewis & Clark College while playing in the orchestra. He also had a huge collection of instruments. I interviewed him twice for articles that I wrote for a couple of publications (Sforzando and The Oregonian). I found out that he only needed about two or three hours of sleep to feel rested. He built instruments, arranged music, and founded the Portland version of Tuba Christmas. He will be missed.


I have just found out that a memorial service of John Richards will be held at the Agnes Flanagan Chapel of Lewis & Clark College on August 13th at 11 am.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Upcoming Filmusik madness: The Grand Duel

Filmusik, the unique brainchild of Portland composer Galen Huckins that combines classic cinema with all manner of live performance elements, including live original soundtracks, voice dubbing and sound effects, is at it again this upcoming week with their new project The Grand Duel.

A spaghetti western starring the inimitable Lee Van Cleef, this film marks Filmusik's first collaboration with Federale, a local alternative band who just happens to specialize in writing and performing music that, in their own words, "recapture[s] the haunting, violent atmosphere illustrated in such classic films as A Fistful of Dollars." With their ranchero-style horns and the intensely powerful soprano of Maria Karlin, Federale, besides being an extremely talented ensemble that knows exactly how to achieve their musical goals, is a plain old-fashioned kick in the pants. Marvelously fun, Filmusik and Federale are a natural fit for each other, and for this enterprise Federale composed an entirely new soundtrack and will be on hand to perform for all three shows. The showings are Thursday July 28th, Friday the 29th and Saturday the 30th at the Hollywood Theater at 8pm.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Getting a hand in on the new edition of Grove Dictionary of American Music

Because I'm a member of the Music Critics Association of North America (see, I got the opportunity to write and/or update a number of entries to the new edition of the Grove Dictionary of American Music. What started out as three or four pieces last summer ended up encompassing entries on 41 subjects. I finished the last two entires a few weeks ago.

Here's the entire lists of entries that I wrote or rewrote:

- American String Quartet
- Mark Applebaum
- Jacob D. Avshalomov
- Claude Baker
- John Barbirolli
- Mason Bates
- Thomas Beecham
- John P. Corigliano
- Helan Donath
- Brent Ellis
- Carlisle (Sessions, Jr.) Floyd
- Maureen Forrester
- Pamela Frank
- Gidon Kremer
- Kronos Quartet
- Jack Lawrence
- Robert Levin
- Keith Lockhart
- Yo-Yo Ma
- Aprile Millo
- James Morris
- Carol Neblett
- Paul Neubauer
- Yannick Nezet-Seguin
- Oregon Bach Festival
- Orion String Quartet
- Peter Oundjian
- Awadagin Pratt
- Arvo Part
- Helmuth Rilling
- Andre-Michel Schub
- Richard Sher
- Neil Shicoff
- Robert Spano
- Cheryl Studer
- Tomas Svoboda
- Carol Vaness
- Stephen Wadsworth
- Stewart Wallace

All of these are edited by academics, and almost all have been approved for print.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Oregon Arts Watch

A big welcome to Oregon Arts Watch, which debuted this week. Under music, you'll see that Brett Campbell has posted stories about the Oregon Symphony, Cappella Romana and other local music organizations.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A few extra thoughts about San Francisco's Ring Cycle

One of the things that I realized after hearing the Ring Cycle in San Francisco was how good the Seattle Opera orchestra is. Even though the orchestra of the San Francisco Opera is one of the best in the land, it stumbled and fumbled here and there during each opera in the Cycle. I have heard the Seattle Opera Orchestra play the Ring operas at a higher level. Perhaps the frequency of the Ring Cycle in Seattle has helped the musicians there to become very familiar with the extreme demands of Wagner's music.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)
Wilfred Pelletier (1896-1982)
Chet Atkins (1924-2001)
Ingrid Haebler (1926)
Eric Dolphy (1928-1964)
Arne Nordheim (1931)
Mickie Most (1938-2003)
Brian Wilson (1942)
Anne Murray (1945)
André Watts (1946)
Lionel Richie (1949)


Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948)
Lillian Hellman (1905-1984)
Vikram Seth (1952)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Today's Birthdays

François Rebel (1701-1775)
Johann Wenzel Stamitz (1717-1757)
Carl Zeller (1842-1898)
Alfredo Catalani (1854-1893)
Sergei Taneyev (1856-1915)
Guy Lombardo (1902-1977)
Edwin Gerschefski (1909-1988)
Anneliese Rothenberger (1926)
Elmar Oliveira (1950)
Philippe Manoury 1952)


Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
Tobias Wolff (1945)
Salman Rushdie (1947)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Antonio Maria Bononcini (1677-1726)
Ignaz Pleyel (1757-1831)
Sir George Thalben-Ball (1896-1987)
Edward Steuermann (1892-1964)
Manuel Rosenthal (1904-2003)
Paul McCartney (1942)
Hans Vonk (1942-2004)
Anthony Halstead (1945)
Diana Ambache (1948)
Eva Marton (1948)
Peter Donohoe (1953)


Geoffrey Hill (1932)
Richard Powers (1957)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971)
Hermann Reutter (1900-1985)
Einar Englund (1916-1999)
Galina Ustvolskaya (1919-2006)
Sir Edward Downes (1924)
Christian Ferras (1933-1982)
Gérard Grisey (1946-1998)
Derek Lee Ragin (1958)


M. C. Escher (1898-1972)
John Hersey (1914–1993)
Ron Padgett (1942)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Niccolò Vito Piccinni (1728-1800)
Helen Traubel (1899-1972)
Willi Boskovsky (1909-1990)
Sergiu Comissiona (1928-2005)
Lucia Dlugoszewski (1931-2000)
Jerry Hadley (1952-2007)
David Owen Norris (1953)


Joyce Carol Oates (1938)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Franz Danzi (1763-1826)
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
Ernestine Schumann‑Heink (1861-1936)
Guy Ropartz (1864-1955)
Robert Russell Bennett (1894-1981)
Sir Thomas Armstrong (1898-1994)
Otto Luening (1900-1996)
Geoffrey Parsons (1929-1995)
Waylon Jennings(1937-2002)
Harry Nilsson (1941-1994)
Paul Patterson (1947)
Rafael Wallfisch (1953)
Robert Cohen (1959)


Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Simon Mayr (1763-1845)
John McCormack (1884-1945)
Heddle Nash (1894-1961)
Rudolf Kempe (1910-1976)
Stanley Black (1913-2002)
Natalia Gutman (1942)
Lang Lang (1982)


Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
John Bartlett (1820-1905)
Ernesto (Che) Guevara de la Serna (1928-1967)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Elisabeth Schumann (1888-1952)
Carlos Chavez (1899-1978)
Alan Civil (1929-1989)
Gwynne Howell (1938)
Sarah Connolly (1963)
Alain Trudel (1966)


William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
William S. Burroughs (1914-1997)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Vanni Marcoux (1877-1962)
Leon Goossens (1897-1988)
Maurice Ohana (1913-1992)
Ian Partridge (1938)
Chick Corea (1941)
Oliver Knussen (1952)


Egon Schiele (1890-1918)
Anne Frank (1929-1945)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Antonio Bonporti (1672-1749)
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Shelly Manne (1920-1984)
Carlisle Floyd (1926)
Antony Rooley (1944)
Douglas Bostock (1955)
Conrad Tao (1994)


Ben Jonson (1572-1637)
William Styron (1925-2006)
Athol Fugard (1932)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900)
Frederick Loewe (1904-1988)
Ralph Kirkpatrick (1911-1984)
Bruno Bartoletti (1925)
Mark-Anthony Turnage (1960)


Gustave Courbet (1819-1877)
Saul Bellow (1915-2005)
Maurice Sendak (1928)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Otto Nicolai (1810-1849)
Carl Nielsen (1865-1931)
Cole Porter (1891-1964)
Dame Gracie Fields (1898-1979)
Ingolf Dahl (1912-1970)
Les Paul (1915-2009)
Franco Donatoni (1927-2000)
Charles Wuorinen (1938)
Ileana Cotrubas (1939)


George Axelrod (1922-2003)

and from the New Music Box:
On June 9, 1836, the Styrian Musik-Verein sponsored a concert in Vienna devoted to the American landscape-inspired music of emigré composer Anthony Philip Heinrich, the self-described "Beethoven of Kentucky" who is often cited as a precursor to the contemporary American maverick tradition. Although Heinrich claimed that there were not enough musicians available to properly perform his work, which often features up to 40 independent compositional lines, the concert was his greatest success in Europe and the earliest international success of an American-based composer.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Tomaso Albinoni (1671-1750)
Nicolas Dalayrac (1753-1809)
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942)
Reginald Kell (1906-1981)
Emanuel Ax (1949)


Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)

and from the New Music Box:
On June 8, 2002, Meet The Composer presented The Works, a 12-hour hour marathon concert of MTC commissioned music from Noon to Midnight at the Southern Theatre in Minneapolis.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Leopold Auer (1845-1930)
George Szell (1897-1970)
Ilse Wolf (1921-1999)
Philippe Entremont (1934)
Neeme Järvi 1937)
Sir Tom Jones (1940)
Jaime Laredo (1941)
Prince (1958)
Roberto Alagna (1963)
Olli Mustonen (1967)


Paul Gaugin (1848-1903)
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
Nikki Giovanni (1943)
Orham Pamuk (1952)
Louise Erdrich (1954)

and from the New Music Box:
On June 7, 1984, Arthur Weisberg conducted the New York Philharmonic in the world premiere performance of George Crumb's A Haunted Landscape. The performance was part of the Horizons Festival organized by Jacob Druckman. The festival, which featured music ranging from Charles Wuorinen to Diamanda Galas, posited that since 1968 there has been a new romanticism in music.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Aram Khachaturian (1903-1978)
Vincent Persichetti (1915-1987)
Iain Hamilton (1922-2000)
Serge Nigg (1924)
Klaus Tennstedt (1926-1998)
Louis Andriessen (1939)


Pierre Corneille (1606-1684)
Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837)
Thomas Mann (1875-1955)
Maxine Kumin (1925)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Arthur Somervell (1863-1937)
Robert Mayer (1879-1985)
Daniel Pinkham (1923-2006)
Peter Schat (1935-2003)
Anna Reynolds (1936)
Martha Argerich (1941)
Bill Hopkins (1943-1981)


John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946)
Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936)
Alfred Kazin (1915–1998)
David Hare (1947)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Jan Peerce (1904-1984)
Valerie Masterson (1937)
Curtis Mayfield (1942-1999)
Greg Sandow (1943)
Lynne Dawson (1956)


Josephine Baker (1906-1975)
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
Larry McMurtry (1936)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Evgeny Mravinsky (1903-1988)
Alan Shulman (1915-2002)
Robert Merrill (1917-2004)
Irwin Bazelon (1922-1995)
Anthony Braxton (1945)
Cecilia Bartoli (1966)


Josef Sittard (1846-1903)
Karl Valentin (1882-1948)
Robert Anderson (1917-2009)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chamberfest Ottawa - later this summer

I'll be reviewing concerts and reporting from Ottawa, Canada later this summer, attending Chamberfest Ottawa from July 29th through August 1st. Because I belong to the MCANA (Music Critics Association of North America), I occasionally get the chance to attend a music festival where the festival picks up the tab for airfare, hotel, and meals. Well, this is one of those wonderful opportunities. It will be my first time to Ottawa, and I am looking forward to it. I'll do most of my reporting in Oregon Music News.

Today's Birthdays

James Cutler Dunn Parker (1828-1916)
Felix Weingartner (1863-1942)
Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Jozef Cleber (1916-1999)
Marvin Hamlisch (1944)
Mark Elder (1947)
Neil Shicoff (1949)
Michel Dalberto (1955)


Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)

and from The New Music Box
On June 2, 1938, Amy Beach begins work on her Piano Trio while in residence at the MacDowell Colony. She finished the composition fifteen days later (June 18th) and published it as her Op. 150. It was to be her last major work.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Georg Muffat (1653-1704)
Mikhail Glinka (1804-1857)
Werner Janssen (1899-1990)
Percy Whitlock (1903-1946)
Nelson Riddle (1921-1985)
Edo de Waart (1941)
Richard Goode (1943)
Frederica von Stade (1945)
Arlene Sierra (1970)


Charles Kay Ogden (1889–1957)
Naguib Surur (1932-1978)

and from the New Music Box:
On June 1, 1925, Swiss-American composer Ernest Bloch conducted the premiere of his Concerto Grosso No. 1 for strings and piano in Cleveland. That work was a pivotal composition of neo-classicism and foreshadowed subsequent concertos for orchestra written and premiered in the United States by his student Roger Sessions (Pulitzer Prize 1982) as well as Béla Bartók (1943), Elliott Carter (1970), and Steven Stucky (#1 - Pulitzer Prize Finalist 1989, and #2 - Pulitzer Prize Winner 2005).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Louise Farrenc (1804-1875)
Billy Mayerl (1902-1959)
Alfred Deller (1912-1979)
Akira Ifukube (1914-2006)
Shirley Verrett (1931)
Peter Yarrow (1938)
Bruce Adolphe (1955)
Marty Ehrlich (1955)


Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853)
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 31, 1921, emigre composer Edgard Varèse founded the International Composer's Guild in New York City to perform and promote music by contemporary composers.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Benny Goodman (1909-1986)
George London (1920-1985)
Gustav Leonhardt (1928)
Pauline Oliveros (1932)
Zoltan Kocsis (1952)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 30, 1923, 26-year-old composer and conductor Howard Hanson, who would later be one of the founders of the American Music Center, led the world premiere performance of his Nordic Symphony, the first of his seven symphonies and still one of his best-known works, in Rome during his residence as first holder of the American Rome Prize.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Oregon Symphony and Kalmar garner accolades from Ross in The New Yorker

Alex Ross, the classical music critic of the New Yorker magazine, has given the Oregon Symphony and its music director Carlos Kalmar the highest accolades for their performance in the Spring for Music Festival on May 12th. Ross's review appears in the June 6th edition of the magazine, and I've just read it online. Here are a couple of quotes:

"Such a realm seemed to materialize during a Spring for Music concert by the Oregon Symphony-the highlight of the festival and one of the most gripping events of the current season."

"Let's hope that future editions of Spring for Music-the festival will run at least through 2013-spread the news that North America posses dozens of excellent orchestras, and that on a good night any of them can outclass the so-called Big Five. The Oregonians proved the point by thoroughly upstaging the New York Philharmonic, which had played an unremarkable gala program at Carnegie a few nights earlier."

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Fanciulli (1853-1915)
Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)
Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)
Iannis Xenakis (1922-2001)
Helmuth Rilling (1933)
Michael Berkeley (1948)
Linda Esther Gray (1948)
Melissa Etheridge (1961)


G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)
Oswald Spengler (1880-1936)
Steven Levitt (1967)


from the New Music Box:
On May 29, 1954, the Louisville Orchestra, under the direction of Robert S. Whitney, premiered the Eleventh Symphony of Henry Cowell. The seven-movement work, subtitled "Seven Rituals," was one of the most successful of Cowell's 21 symphonies.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kalmar receives high praise in Baltimore

The Baltimore Sun's classical music critic, Tim Smith, gives a glowing review of Carlos Kalmar in his recent appearance with the Baltimore Symphony. Guest soloist Karen Gomyo also received high marks for her performance of the Sibelius Violin Concerto.

Also, just got wind of this very positive review in The Washington Post.

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Arne (1710-1788)
T-Bone Walker (1910-1975)
Nicola Rescigno (1916-2008)
György Ligeti (1923-2006)
John Culshaw (1924-1980)
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (1925)
Richard Van Allan (1935)
Maki Ishii (1936-2003)
Elena Souliotis (1943-2004)
Levon Chilingirian (1948)


Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
Oswald Spengler (1880-1936)
Ian Flemming (1908-1964)
May Swenson (1913-1989)

and from the New Music Box:

On May 28, 1957, after several discussions, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. (NARAS) was born at a meeting at Hollywood's legendary Brown Derby Restaurant.

[NARAS sponsors the Grammys.]

Friday, May 27, 2011

Martin Hebert's oboe blog

Martin Hebert, principal oboist of the Oregon Symphony, has just started a blog called A Reed a Day, it concerns the vicissitudes of being an oboe player and the quest to make the perfect reed. Welcome to the blogsphere Martin!

Kalmar in Baltimore this week

Carlos Kalmar has seemed to conduct the Baltimore Symphony at least once every season for the past several seasons. This weekend he is conducting a concert that features violinist Karen Gomyo in the Sibelius Violin Concerto. Here's the program for this weekend's concert series:

Mahler (arr. Britten) - What the Wild Flowers Tell Me
Sibelius - Violin Concerto
Walton - Symphony No. 1

Today's Birthdays

Jacques Halévy (1799-1862)
Joseph Joachim Raff (1822-1882)
Claude Champagne (1891-1965)
Ernst Wallfisch (1920-1979)
Thea Musgrave (1928)
Donald Keats (1929)
Elizabeth Harwood (1938-1990)
James Wood (1953)


Wild Bill Hickok (1837-1876)
Isadora Duncan (1877-1927)
Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)
Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
John Cheever (1912-1982)
John Barth (1930)
Linda Pastan (1932)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 ASCAP Concert Music Awards

From the New Music Box: The 12th annual ASCAP Concert Music Awards took place on May 24, 2011 at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. Composer, conductor and radio host Bill McGlauchlin served as the host for the invitation-only event which recognized the achievements of ASCAP's 2011 Concert Music Honorees and showcased the winners of the 2011 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards.

The 2011 honorees are:

- Zhou Long, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Music
- George Manahan, Music Director of New York City Opera and the American Composers Orchestra
- Le Poisson Rouge - David Handler and Justin Kantor, Co-Founders
- Music Publishers Association - Lauren Keiser, President
- Face The Music - Jennifer Undercofler, Founder, Artistic Director, and Conductor

Today's Birthdays

Al Jolson (1886-1950)
Eugene Goossens (1893-1962)
Vlado Perlemuter (1904-2002)
François‑Louis Deschamps (1919-2004)
Peggy Lee (1920-2002)
Joseph Horovitz (1926)
Miles Davis (1926)
Teresa Stratas (1938)
William Bolcom (1938)
Howard Goodall (1958)
Armando Bayolo (1973)


Aleksandr Pushkin (1799-1837)
Dorothea Lange (1895-1965)
Alan Hollinghurst (1954)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 26, 1953, Aaron Copland appeared before the Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Thomas "Blind Tom" Bethune (1849 - 1908)
Miles Davis (1926-1991)
Beverly Sills (1929-2007)
Franco Bonisolli (1937-2003)


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)
Raymond Carver (1938-1988)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 25, 1977, the American half of the Gian Carlo Menotti's "Festival of Two Worlds"—Spoleto USA—opens in Charleston, South Carolina. The Spoleto Festival Brass Quintet played at the opening ceremonies at noon that day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Paul Paray (1886-1979)
Joan Hammond (1912-1986)
Hans‑Martin Linde (1930)
Maurice André (1933)
Bob Dylan (1941)
Konrad Boehmer (1941)
Fiona Kimm (1952)
Paul McCreesh (1960)


William Trevor (1928)
Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996)
Declan Kiberd (1951)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 24, 1939, then 30-year-old composer Elliott Carter (b. 1908) had his first major performance of his music in New York. The work was the ballet Pocahontas composed in a populist style far different from the music for which Carter would later become internationally known and revered.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Andrea Luchesi (1741-1801)
Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Jean Françaix (1912-1997)
Alicia de Larrocha (1923)
Robert Moog (1934-2005)
Joel Feigin (1951)


Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Johann Schrammel (1850-1893)
Minna Keal (1909-1999)
Sun Ra (1914-1993)
George Tintner (1917-1999)
Humphrey Lyttleton (1921)
Claude Ballif (1924-2004)
John Browning (1933-2003)
Peter Nero (1934)


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
Peter Matthiessen (1927)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 21, 1893, in an lengthy article published in the New York Herald titled "Real Value of Negro Melodies," Bohemian composer Antonin Dvorak, during his three-year sojourn in the United States, prognosticated that the future of American music should be based on "negro melodies" and announced that the National Conservatory of Music, where he was serving as Director at the time, would be "thrown open free of charge to the negro race." It was to be the first of a total of seven articles in the Herald in which Dvorak espounded these ideas which provoked comments ranging from incredulity to denunciation by composers and performers around the world including Anton Bruckner, Anton Rubinstein and John Knowles Paine.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Joseph Parry (1841-1903)
Thomas "Fats" Waller (1904-1943)
Gina Bachauer (1913-1976)
Heinz Holliger (1939)
Rosalind Plowright (1949)
Linda Bouchard (1957)


Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989)
Robert Creeley (1926-2005)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Hephzibah Menuhin (1920-1981)
George Hurst (1926)
Karl Anton Rikenbacher (1940)
Joe Cocker (1944)
Cher (1946)
Sue Knussen (1949-2003)
Jane Parker-Smith (1950)
Emma Johnson (1966)


Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

And from the New Music Box:
On May 20, 1846, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony was performed in the United States for the very first time. That first performance, by the New York Philharmonic, set the stage for repertoire by deceased European composers overshadowing the music of living Americans, a condition that remains to this day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Nellie Melba (1859-1931)
Kerstin Thorborg (1896-1970)
Sandy Wilson (1924)
Pete Townshend (1945)
Stephen Varcoe (1949)


Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965)
Nora Ephron (1941)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Terrific piece on Mahler in the NY Times today

When Mahler took New York

Bach Cantata Choir to present final concert of 2010-11 Season with Bach, Zelenka

Here's a bit of info on the BCC's final concert:

The Bach Cantata Choir concludes the 2010-11 season with a free concert on Sunday, May 22nd at 2:00 pm. The concert will be held at Rose City Park Presbyterian Church, NE 44th and Sandy, Portland, Oregon. Ralph Nelson will conduct the 60-voice choir, soloists, and chamber orchestra in J.S. Bach’s Cantata #42, “Am Abend aber desselbigen Sabbats”, Bach’s Motet #4 “Fürchte dich nicht”, Czech composer Jan Dismas Zelenka’s “Litaniae de Venerabile Sacramento” and a new work by choir member Elinor Friedberg, “O Magnum Mysterium”. For more information, visit or call 503-702-1973.

For an interview with Ralph Neslon see Oregon Music News.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Jakob Froberger (1616-1667)
Francesco Maria Piave (1810-1876)
Karl Goldmark (1830-1915)
Ezio Pinza (1892-1947)
Henri Sauguet (1901-1989)
Meredith Willson (1902-1984)
Sir Clifford Curzon (1907-1982)
Perry Como (1912-2001)
Boris Christoff (1914-1993)
Mikko Heiniö (1948)


Omar Khayyam (1048-1131)
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
Walter Gropius (1883-1969)
Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 18, 1981, the American Composers Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies premiered Joan Tower's very first composition conceived for symphony orchestra, Sequoia. Since then, Sequoia, has been performed by more than 40 orchestras around the world. The recording by Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony, which was part of the Meet The Composers Orchestra Residency Series CDs for Nonesuch Records, has recently been reissued on First Edition Music.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The importance of programming

I've just posted my review of the Montreal Symphony concert at Carnegie Hall on Oregon Music News. It points out how critical concert programming is, and upon further reflection, I think that Kalmar hit it right on the nail with the Oregon Symphony's program. Kent Nagano went a bit off the rails with the Montreal Symphony program, and it seemed that the two encores that his orchestra played were an attempt to make up for a concert that was supposed to feature the Montreal Symphony rather than fragments of the orchestra and a solo piano recital.

Today's Birthdays

Erik Satie (1866-1925)
Sandor Vegh (1905-1997)
Birgit Nilsson (1918-2005)
Dennis Brain (1921-1957)
Taj Mahal (1942)
Paul Crossley (1944)
Brian Rayner Cook (1945)
Bill Bruford (1949)
Ivor Bolton (1958)


Alfonso Reyes (1889-1959)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 17, 1846, Belgian-born instrument builder and clarinetist Adolphe Sax patents the saxophone, an instrument that would have a profound impact on American jazz. Over a century later, on May 17, 1957, a computer was used to make music for the first time.

and from the Writer's Almanac:
Beethoven’s famous Kreutzer Sonata was first performed on this day in 1803 at Augarten-Halle in Vienna, Austria. Beethoven had been asked to write a sonata by George Bridgetower, a handsome and ambitious half-West Indian violin virtuoso who wished to perform the piece with the great composer. But Beethoven hated writing custom pieces, and so he put off writing it until the last minute, leaving the pianoforte copy almost entirely blank. For the finale, a resentful Beethoven simply tacked on a finale from an earlier work.

But when Beethoven and Bridgetower began to play at the 8:00 a.m. concert, both performed beautifully, and Beethoven was so impressed with Bridgetower’s performance — Bridgetower improvising much of it — that he jumped up and hugged the violinist midway through the performance.

Later, however, Bridgetower and Beethoven quarreled (scholarly opinion differs on the nature of the argument — some say it was about a man they both knew, some say it was about Beethoven doing such a last-minute job on the original composition) and Beethoven angrily undedicated the sonata to Bridgetower and rededicated it to Rudolph Kreutzer, a prominent Parisian violinist who had recently traveled to Vienna. It is rumored that when Kreutzer first saw the composition, he proclaimed the part written for violin too difficult to play. He is believed to have never played the sonata that now carries his name.

What became of Bridgetower after the Augarten concert is lost to history.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Richard Tauber (1891-1948)
Ivan Vishnegradsy (1893-1979)
Jan Kiepura (1902-1966)
Woody Herman (1913-1987)
Liberace (1919-1987)
Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000)
Betty Carter (1930-1998)
Donald Martino (1931-2005)
Robert Fripp (1946)
Monica Huggett (1953)
Andrew Litton (1959)


Friedrich Rückert (1788-1866)
Louis "Studs" Terkel (1912-2008)
Adrienne Rich (1929)

and from the New Music Box:
On May 16, 1907, Miller Reese Hutchison filed an application at the U.S. Patent Office for his invention, the motor-driven Diaphragm Actuated Horn and Resonator, for use in automoblies. The patent was granted on May 3, 1910. The carhorn would later be used as a musical instrument by numerous composers ranging from George Gershwin in An American in Paris (1928) to Wendy Mae Chambers who developed a Car Horn Organ in 1983.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
Michael William Balfe (1808-1870)
Lars-Erik Larsson (1908-1986)
Arthur Berger (1912-2003)
John Lanchbery (1923-2003)
Ted Perry (1931-2003)
Brian Eno (1948)


L. Frank Baum (1856-1919)
Arthur Schnitzler (1862-1931)
Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)
Peter Shaffer (1926)
Jasper Johns (1930)

and from The New Music Box:
On May 15, 1972, the Concord Quartet premiered George Rochberg's String Quartet No. 3 at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. Rochberg, an established serialist composer, shocked the compositional scene by returning to tonality in this composition. Many cite this premiere as the birth of neo-romanticism.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Otto Klemperer (1885-1973)
Sidney Bechet (1897-1959)
Lou Harrison (1917-2003)
Aloys Kontarsky (1931)
Peter Skellern (1947)
Maria de La Pau (1950)
Helen Field (1951)
David Byrne (1952)


Mary Morris (1947)

Friday, May 13, 2011

New Yorkers love the Oregon Symphony

Reveiws are starting come in:

Alex Ross of The New Yorker says that the OSO concert at Carnegie was "pretty extraordinary" here.

Allan Kozinn of the New York Times also gives the orchestra high marks here.

Today's Birthdays

Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900)
Constantin Silverstri (1913-1969)
Gareth Morris (1920)
Jane Glover (1949)
Stevie Wonder (1950)
David Hill (1957)
Tasmin Little (1965)


Bruce Chatwin (1940–1989)
Kathleen Jamie (1962)

and from The New Music Box:
May 13th seems to be a good day for John Harbison. On May 13, 1987, Herbert Blomstedt conducted the San Francisco Symphony in world premiere performance of Harbison's Symphony No. 2. Then on May 13, 2001, Harbison's North and South received its world premiere in the Windy City by the Chicago Chamber Musicians.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Viotti (1755-1824)
Jules Massenet (1842-1912)
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924)
Sir Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989)
Burt Bacharach (1928)
Anthony Newman (1941)
Dalmacio Gonzalez (1945)
Doris Soffel (1948)


Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Alma Gluck (1884-1938)
Irving Berlin (1888-1939)
William Grant Still (1895-1978)
Robert Johnson (1911-1938)
Ross Pople (1945)
Judith Weir (1954)
Cecile Licad (1961)


Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Francisco "Paco" Umbral (1932-2007)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

CD Review: Hideki Yamaya, 'The Mandolino in 18th- Century Italy'

Portland-based plucked strings expert Hideki Yamaya recently released a CD entitled The Mandolino in 18th-Century Italy, performing with lutenist John Schneiderman. The recording is of the Dalla Casa Manuscript, a mid-18th century compilation of mandolino music by amateur musician Filippo Dalla Casa.

The mandolino in this recording is very different from the modern mandolin; it is small and downright dainty, strung with nylon strings and plucked with fingers instead of a plectrum. The instrument has a delicate tone--the upper registers can be tinny and affect the pitch, which is off-putting at first but actually grows endearing as the music plays on, and the unique timbre becomes a joy to hear.

A peppery, virtuosic little sonata by Antonio Tinazzoli (1650-1730) opens the CD, barrelling forward in one whirlwind movement, showcasing the range of the instrument. The rest of the CD is very much in the galante style, with sonatas/concertos by Giuseppe Vaccari and Ludovico Fontanelli (1682-1748). Yamaya’s accurate and judicious ornamentation can’t be easy to effect on this feathery instrument. The compositions themselves are delightful, warm and fetching; Yamaya’s enthusiasm for playing these gems is obvious and infectious. His own variations on the menuet themes by an anonymous composer are virtuosic, and in one of these variations the mandolin switches to accompaniment and the lute takes the solo; other than that the lute is continuo throughout. The final Giga of the closing Vaccari concerto is particularly enjoyable, featuring surprising, modern-feeling syncopations.

This release is authentic and satisfying; samples of the work can be found here.

Travelling to the Big Apple

I will be travelling to New York City tomorrow evening to hear the Oregon Symphony make its historic debut in Carnegie Halll. I'll be at the Met on Friday evening to hear Ariadne auf Naxos (PSU's Audrey E. Luna is one of the principals in the show and is receiving stellar reviews), and I'll attend the Montreal Symphony concert at Carnegie on Saturday evening. I'll post my reviews of each event on Oregon Music News.

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Marie Leclair (1697-1764)
Max Steiner (1888-1971)
Dmitri Tiokin (1894-1979)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Richard Lewis (1914-1990)
Milton Babbit (1916-2011)
Maxim Shostakovich (1938)
Lori Dobbins (1958)


Karl Barth (1886-1968)

and from The New Music Box:
On May 10, 1987, David Lang, Michael Gordon and Julia Wolfe produced the first-ever Bang on a Can Marathon, a twelve-hour concert at the SoHo gallery Exit Art combining music by Milton Babbitt, Steve Reich, John Cage, George Crumb, Lois V Vierk, Lee Hyla, Aaron Kernis, Phill Niblock and others.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594)
Carlo Maria Giulini (1914-2005)
Nigel Douglas (1929)
Billy Joel (1949)
Michel Beroff (1950)
Joy Harjo (1951)
Linda Finnie (1952)
Anne Sofie von Otter (1955)
Alison Hagley (1961)


James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937)
Alan Bennett (1934)
Charles Simic (1938)

and from The New Music Box:
On May 9, 1967, avant-garde cellist Charlotte Moorman gets a suspended sentence from a criminal court judge in New York City for appearing topless during a performance of Nam June Paik's Opera Sextronique on February 9, 1967.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Chanters of St. Panteleimon transport Cappella Romana Audience

Cappella Romana welcomed some very special guests to St. Mary's Cathedral on the evening of Saturday, May 7th. Hailing from the Church of St. Panteleimon in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, the four men who sang for the gathered crowd demonstrated unique and advanced styles and techniques that must surely be of the utmost rarity in this part of the world.

The first half of the program consisted of sacred works. They took the stage dressed in simple white robes with red trim, and began with Shen khar venakhi (You are a vineyard), a hymn to the Theotokos that was breathtaking in its hushed reverence. It began with the most delicate intonation imaginable, barely heard yet incredibly powerful. A pure, almost boy-soprano tone floated gently above ethereal drones that continued quietly after each cadence, sustaining the forward momentum as the chant paused. A different setting of the text followed later, radically different with startling, almost modern sounding harmonies.

A number of chants filled the first half. An interesting technique was the crescendi, so gradual and subtle that they were scarcely perceived at first and took time to manifest themselves to the listener. Many of the vowels were sung through lips all but closed, and the aura was one of breathless mystery--everything was a masterful economy of diction, breath and phrasing.

The hymn K'riste aghdga (Christ is risen) exploded like dynamite from the curtain of stillness that had been drawn over the cathedral since the first notes were intoned. Using a throaty technique more akin to the style found in Georgian folk song, the chanters filled St. Mary's with deep, reverberating power. The final sacred selection, Up'alo ieso (The Jesus Prayer) featured the tenor rising above the consonant, halo-like drone chords in the most plaintive supplication, crying for mercy across years uncounted and miles unnumbered. (Click the link to hear this work at Cappella Romana's website.)

The folk selections of the second half were electrifying. The switch to bold black riding attire, replete with high leather boots, long kilts and bejeweled short swords at the belt of every man, left no doubt that the second half would be very different from the first. For all the restrained, contemplative quietude of the first half, the second was full of boisterous, raw energy.

The singers routinely shifted positions as they moved in and out of bass and treble roles. The myriad of styles and techniques was astonishing; even within the space of one song the variation of structures and motives left one never sure what was to come next. From funereal chants to wild, ululating yodels, exotic counterpoint and complex ornamentation, restrained shouting, clapping and accompaniment by a three-stringed folk instrument that looked like a diamond-shaped balalaika, the songs told stories of hunting and courting, bravery and death, love, weddings and even wrestling.

Daigvianes was a story about a knight "hiding among sheep, and in deliberation" according to the program. About what he is contemplating we are never sure (unless one speaks Georgian I suppose) but that knowledge could not have increased the joy in listening to this song. In this lengthy work the deft tenor told a sad tale above a bed of sound that never once ceased, with the three drones all alternating breathing so the tone never faded and a slow, barely perceptible pulse animated the drone.

Listening to songs like these that bare the soul of peoples and cultures from faraway lands is a rare treasure. The ability of Cappella Romana to bring such distinct, master stylists all the way across the world is to be lauded, and as such CR's contribution to live performances of both early music and world music in Portland cannot be overstated.

Today's Birthdays

Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869)
Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981)
Heather Harper (1930)
Carlo Cossutta (1932-2000)
Keith Jarrett (1945)
Felicity Lott (1947)


Edmund Wilson (1895-1972)
Gary Snyder (1930)
Thomas Pynchon (1937)
Roddy Doyle (1958)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Carl Heinrich Graun (1704-1759)
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Piotr Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Edmond Appia (1894-1961)
Elisabeth Soderstrom (1927)
Philip Land (1950)
Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981)
Robert Spano (1961)


Robert Browning (1812-1889)
Archibald MacLeish (1892-1962)
Angela Carter (1940-1992)
Peter Carey (1943)

and from The New Music Box:
On May 7, 1946, Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering is founded with about 20 employees. The company, later renamed Sony, would eventually invent the home video tape recorder, the Walkman and the Discman, as well as take-over Columbia Records, later CBS Records, who under the leadership of composer Goodard Lieberson (1956-1973) released numerous recordings of music by American composers.

Friday, May 6, 2011

CD Review: 'Brooklyn Rider Plays Philip Glass'

The innovative and exciting NYC string quartet Brooklyn Rider has a new CD from In a Circle Records in which the group records Philip Glass's entire string quartet oeuvre, which is the 5 numbered quartets plus the world premier recording of the Suite from "Bent" for String Quartet.

Brooklyn Rider, whose CD Dominant Curve was included in the Washington Post's list of top ten classical albums from 2010, was the right choice to premiere this important work. Bent, winner of the 1997 Cannes 'International Critics Award' tells the story of doomed relationships between gay men in Nazi Germany. The first of its 8 movements opens with a plaintive cello melody wending its way through a forest of suppurating strings, and one can feel the danger, the flight, the violence of the film. There are rays of hope in this work, however slim they may be. Brooklyn Rider understands how to perform this music from an intuitive, gut-level standpoint; one misplaced accent, one slightly shifted emphasis and the meaning of the whole structure is lost; the repetitive nature of Glass's motives both vertically and horizontally amplifies the importance of each little change, and without attention to every minute detail both technically and emotionally there will be nothing left. From the terrifying cello chords exploding from the smooth texture in the fourth movement to the forlorn wailing of the solo viola which is the only instrument heard in the final movement, the power of the composition shines through.

Some of the other quartets also come from film scores, including #3 which came from the 1983 film Mishima about the life of the quixotic Japanese author who committed seppuku in the early 70s. Very different in character from the Bent, there is less of the ceaseless in and out arpeggiation and more homophonic movement and stark chordal textures. String Quartet #1 was composed in 1966 but not first recorded until more than 20 years later. It is more experimental: its atonal warbling that at times veers toward a pizzicato almost completely lacking in pitch requires very different techniques of the group, and they render the ceaseless pulse with painful exactitude.

There is wondrous variety to be found in this release, each quartet with its own unique character, and Brooklyn Rider has the relentless energy required to sustain interest in the somber, often haunting sound world through which Glass's compositions wander. This release represents another big win from an unconventional and visionary group, and is an important contribution to both string quartet and Philip Glass discography.

Today's Birthdays

Jascha Horenstein (1898-1973)
Godfrey Ridout (1918-1984)
Murry Sidlin (1940)
Ghena Dimitrova (1941-2005)
Nathalie Stutzmann (1965)


Robert Peary (1856-1920)
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Gaston Leroux (1868-1927)
Randall Jarrell (1914-1965)

And from The New Music Box:
At the second of the Copland-Sessions Concerts of Contemporary Music, which was held at the Edyth Totten Theater in New York City on May 6, 1928, pianist John Duke premiered the first three movements of Roger Sessions' First Piano Sonata. Although the program announced a fourth movement, it was not finished in time for the concert. Also on the program were premieres of works by Copland (Two Pieces for String Quartet), Quincy Porter (Piano Quintet), Robert Delaney (Sonata for Violin and Piano) as well as solo piano pieces by Aldoph Weiss, Dane Rudhyar and Ruth Crawford.

In his review of the concert for the Boston Evening Transcript (published on May 11, 1928), Nicolas Slonimsky praised Copland as a "poet" who "works wonders" and Sessions as "a persistent and scholarly searcher for a new style" and one its "chief masons." But he called Rudhyar's music "a Naught to the Nth power." He was somewhat critical about Crawford as well but conceded that "there may be a chance for her in the future." Slonimsky also pointed out that the concert was nearly sold-out, claiming it proof that "there are several hundred persons actively interested in modern music."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gregory Vajda to be the new MD of the Huntsville Symphony

The Huntsville Symphony has announced the about of Gregory Vajda as its music director and conductor. Oregonians know Vajda as the outstanding resident conductor of the Oregon Symphony. It was only a matter of time before he would find a music director's position. I wrote a small piece about this appointment in Oregon Music News, and I'll have to do another interview with him in the near future.

Today's Birthdays

Hans Pfizner (1869-1947)
Maria Caniglia (1905-1979)
Kurt Böhme (1908-1989)
Charles Rosen (1927)
Mark Ermler (1932)
Tammy Wynette (1942-1998)
Bunita Marcus (1952)
Cédric Tiberghien (1975)


Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
Karl Marx (1818-1883)
Nellie Bly (1864-1922)
James Beard (1903-1985)
Kaye Gibbons (1960)

From the New Music Box:
On May 5, 1891, Walter Damrosch led the New York Philharmonic in the very first concert in the large auditorium at Carnegie Hall, now called Stern Auditorium. The program consisted entirely of European repertoire: Beethoven’s "Leonore Overture No. 3," Berlioz’s "Te Deum," Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky "Festival Coronation March" (with the composer making a guest appearance on the podium), the hymn "The Old One Hundred" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee" (then America's unofficial national anthem although the tune is that of the British anthem "God Save The Queen").

This was not actually the first concert in the building, however. On April 1, Liszt-pupil Franz Rummel had already given an all-European solo piano recital in the space that now holds Zankel Hall. The oldest known program for the third of Carnegie's stages, what is now called Weill Recital Hall, a chamber music concert produced by the Society for Ethical Culture, dates back to October 31, 1891 and included the song "At Twilight" by the American composer Ethelbert Nevin.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731)
Mátyás Seiber (1905-1960)
Tatiana Nikolayeva (1924-1993)
Roberta Peters (1930)
Gennadi Rozhdestvensky (1931)
Marisa Robles (1937)
Enrique Batiz (1942)
Peter Ware (1951)


Horace Mann (1796-1859)
Frederick Church (1826-1900)
Graham Swift (1949)
David Guterson (1956)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Alessandro Stradella (1639-1682)
Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844-1901)
Marcel Dupré (1886-1971)
Bing Crosby (1903-1977)
Sir William Glock (1908-2000)
Léopold Simoneau (1916-2006)
Pete Seeger (1919)
James Brown (1933-2006)
Jonathan Harvey (1939)


Niccol Machiavelli (1469-1527)
Jacob Riis (1849-1914)
May Sarton (1912-1995)
William Inge (1913-1973)

From the New Music Box:
On May 3, 1943, William Schumann received the very first Pulitzer Prize for Music for his Secular Cantata No. 2 - A Free Song, a work published by G. Schirmer and premiered by the Harvard Glee Club, the Radcliffe Choral Society, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Serge Koussevitzky on March 26, 1943. (Despite this accolade, to date, there has never been a commercial recording of this composition.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725)
Jean‑Baptiste Barrière (1707-1747)
Lorenz Hart (1894-1943)
Alan Rawstorned (1905-1971)
Jean‑Marie Auberson (1920-2004)
Arnold Black (1923-2000)
Philippe Herreweghe (1947)
Valery Gergiev (1953)
Elliot Goldenthal (1954)


Jerome K Jerome (1859-1927)

From the New Music Box:
On May 2, 1984, Sunday in the Park With George, a musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine starring Many Patinkin as the painter Georges Seurat and Bernadette Peters as his mistress Dot, opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre. The work was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama the following year.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Sophia Dussek (1775-1831)
Hugo Alfvén (1872-1960)
Leo Sowerby (1895-1968)
Walter Susskind (1913-1980)
Gary Bertini (1927-2005)
Judy Collins (1939)


Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)
Joseph Heller (1923-1999)

And from the Writer's Almanac:
It was on this day in 1786 that Mozart's first great opera, The Marriage of Figaro, premiered in Vienna. It was based on a French play, and it tells the story of a single day in the palace of Count Almaviva. The count spends the day attempting to seduce Susanna, the young fiancée of the court valet, Figaro. Susanna and the Countess conspire to embarrass the count and expose his infidelity.

It was a light-hearted, comic opera, but the musicians and singers could hardly believe the quality of the music. One singer, an Irish tenor named Michael Kelly, later wrote: "I can still see Mozart, dressed in his red fur hat trimmed with gold, standing on the stage with the orchestra at the first rehearsal, beating time for the music. ... The players on the stage and in the orchestra were electrified. ... Had Mozart written nothing but this piece of music it alone would ... have stamped him as the greatest master of his art."

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Franz Lehár (1870-1948)
Louise Homer (1871-1947)
Frank Merrick (1886-1981)
Robert Shaw (1916-1999)
Günter Raphael (1903-1960)
Willie Nelson (1933)
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (1939)
Garcia Navarro (1940-2002)
Vladimir Tarnopolsky (1955)


Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967)
John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974)
Winfield Townley Scott (1910-1968)
Annie Dillard (1945)
Josip Novakovich (1955)

And from the New Music Box:

On April 30, 1932, the very first Yaddo Festival of Contemporary Music began in Saratoga Springs, NY. Works programmed that year included Aaron Copland's Piano Variations as well as piano works by Roger Sessions, Henry Brant, Vivian Fine and Roy Harris, songs by Charles Ives and Paul Bowles, string quartets by Marc Blitzstein and Louis Gruenberg, and a suite for unaccompanied flute by Wallingford Riegger.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Beecham (1879-1961)
Wallingford Riegger (1885-1961)
Sir Malcom Sargent (1895-1967)
Edward "Duke" Ellington (1899-1974)
Peter Sculthorpe (1929)
Klaus Voormann (1938)
Leslie Howard (1948)
Eero Hämeenniemi (1951)
Gino Quilico (1955)


Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933)
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951)
Yusef Komunyakaa (1947)

From the New Music Box:
On April 29, 1969, Duke Ellington was invited to the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his 70th birthday. At the event, U.S. President Richard Nixon played "Happy Birthday" on the piano accompanied by the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Paul Sacher (1906-1999)
Margaret Vardell Sandresky (1921)
Zubin Mehta (1936)
Jeffrey Tate (1943)
Nicola LeFanu (1947)
Elise Ross (1947)
Jeffrey Tate (1948)
Michael Daugherty (1954)


James Monroe (1758-1831)
Karl Kraus (1874-1936)
Harper Lee (1926)
Carolyn Forché (1950)

From the New Music Box:
On April 28, 2003, Apple Computer launched its iTunes Music Store and sold 1 million songs in its first week.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Johann Adam Reinken (1623-1722
Friedrich von Flotow (1812-1883)
Serge Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Nicolas Slonimsky (1894-1995)
Guido Cantelli (1920-1956)
Igor Ostriakh (1931)
Hamish Milne (1939)
Jon Deak (1943)
Christian Zacharias (1950)


Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)
Samuel Morse (1791-1872)
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
C(ecil) Day Lewis (1904-1972)
August Wilson (1945-2005)

And from the Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1667, the poet John Milton (books by this author) sold the copyright for his masterpiece, Paradise Lost, for 10 pounds. Milton had championed the cause of Oliver Cromwell and the Parliament over the king during the English Civil War, and published a series of radical pamphlets in support of such things as Puritanism, freedom of the press, divorce on the basis of incompatibility, and the execution of King Charles I. With the overthrow of the monarchy and the creation of the Commonwealth, Milton was named Secretary of Foreign Tongues, and though he eventually lost his eyesight, he was able to carry out his duties with the help of aides like fellow poet Andrew Marvell.

When the monarchy was restored in 1660, Milton was imprisoned as a traitor and stripped of his property. He was soon released, but was now impoverished as well as completely blind, and he spent the rest of his life secluded in a cottage in Buckinghamshire. This is where he dictated Paradise Lost — an epic poem about the Fall of Man, with Satan as a kind of antihero — and its sequel, Paradise Regained, about the temptation of Christ.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

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)


William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
David Hume (1711-1776)
John James Audubon (1785-1851)
Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
Bernard Malamud (1914-1986)

And from the New Music Box:
On April 26, 1965, Charles Ives's Fourth Symphony, which was composed mostly between 1910 and 1916, is given its first complete performance by the American Symphony Orchestra led by Leopold Stokowski and two assistant conductors.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


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

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)
Willem De Kooning (1904-1997)
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)
Stanley Kauffmann (1916)
Clare Boylan (1948-2006)
Eric Bogosian (1953)

From the 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.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

CD Review: 'L'Infidele' by Jon Mendle

Archguitarist Jon Mendle recently released his first CD, entitled L'Infidele after a lute sonata of the same name by the master baroque lutenist Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1687-1750). This release, from Brooklyn's In A Circle Records and produced by the great Sergio Assad, showcases Mendle's incredible artistry and deep musicianship through the interesting dichotomy of playing ancient music on an instrument invented only in 1980, by guitarist/lutenist Peter Blanchette.

The archguitar is an eleven-stringed instrument that looks rather like a mutant classical guitar. According to Mendle's website, "the Archguitar is a hybrid of the Renaissance and Baroque lutes, 19th century guitar, and modern guitar, making it ideal for a large cross section of early music, as well as certain modern and impressionist works."

On to the CD however; it contains Mendle's own transcriptions of the Weiss lute sonata as well as one by Adam Falckenhagen (1697-1761) and CPE Bach's Prussian Sonata V which was originally written for clavier.

The CD opens with the deep and weighty Largo at the head of the Falckenhagen sonata. In the subsequent Allegro un Poco Mendle's technique is revealed in the fantastic roulades and turns that he throws out in a manner sounding seamless and almost effortless, which is as it should be, the ornamentation feeling like a perfectly natural and unobtrusive outgrowth of the musical stuff whence it came. The finale contains a mischievous recurring staccato theme that Mendle draws out insightfully and plays with obvious delight.

The CPE Bach is redolent with nascent classicism, and Mendle's playing makes the distinction between this style and the High Baroque of Weiss and Falckenhagen very clear. Again the fantastically difficult ornaments, this time in the middle Andante, are all realized smoothly and yet not monochromatically, alternately bold and delicate as called for. Throughout this CD the spectacular ornamentation is one commonality linking all of the compositions together; Mendle has a natural feel for it and isn't afraid to express himself through everything from filigreed and almost non-existent mordants to lengthy and substantive turns and doppelt-cadences. The Allegro Assai of this piece features voice-leadings taking off on various flights of fancy all their own.

The L'Infidele sonata, really a baroque dance suite, finishes out the CD. The Entree was exquisite, the Courante danceable and pulsing, and the Menuet featured terraced dynamics that yielded a fetching echo effect. Mendle explores a wide variety of tone colors in this suite; saucy mezzo-staccato phrases give way to sere, almost harsh plucking and muted, other-worldly legatos. The grumbling drone strings in the Musette present yet another delight to be savored.

If there were any flaw with this CD, it would only be that I wanted more after listening to it, and I immediately played it over from the beginning. Look for more great things to come from this brilliant emerging artist, who has already played with the likes of Yo Yo Ma and his teacher Sergio Assad.

Today's Birthdays

Ignaz Moscheles (1794-1870)
Ruggiero Leoncavallo (1858-1919)
Albert Coates (1882-1953)
Henry Barraud (1900-1997)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Roy Orbison (1936-1988)
Barry Douglas (1960)


William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Joseph Turner (1775-1851)
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
George Steiner (1929)

And from the Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1635, Boston Latin School, the first public school in the United States, was founded. It is also the oldest school still in existence in this country, and still requires its students to study four years of Latin. Inspired by the Free Grammar School in Boston, England, the Reverend John Cotton was instrumental in establishing this repository for the sons — and later daughters — of Boston's elite. In its 376-year history, the school has produced four Harvard presidents, four Massachusetts governors, and five signers of the Declaration of Independence. It names among its dropouts Benjamin Franklin and Louis Farrakhan

Friday, April 22, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709)
Dame Ethel Smyth (1856-1944)
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)


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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Actors and musicians and the question of auditioning

A couple of years ago, I interviewed Robin Goodwin Nordli, a veteran actor of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, for an article that I wrote for the Oregon Arts Commission. I asked her if the actors had some sort of tenure at the festival. She replied that they did not have any tenure. Every actor has to reaudition every year.

I know that some of the actors have purchased homes and raised families in the Ashland area. They are the ones that are good enough to keep getting roles at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or they have to find a job somewhere in the community or maybe they got a few good gigs doing commercials or films in Hollywood and returned to the Ashland area. In any, case none of the actors at OSF have tenure.

I raise this matter, because some people still seem unable to get over the fact that some longtime members of the Oregon Symphony lost their jobs. Orchestras are run differently than acting companies, and continuity of sound is an important thing to consider. You could try to reaudition all of an orchestra every year, but that would be maddening. As per the comment below, from the Oregon Symphony's principal violist, Charles Noble, that orchestra's musicians do have tenure. It is granted after a two-year probationary period. After tenure is granted, there is a formal process for non-renewal of a contract that must be followed for a musician to be dismissed. I had originally thought that none of the orchestra members had tenure and that any orchestra member can be replaced, abiding by the musician's contract and union rules. So, I stand corrected in that matter.

Even though the Portland Symphonic Choir is not a full-time professional arts organization like the Oregon Symphony or the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, its members have to reaudition every two years. I think that this re-auditioning process helps to make the choir sound better.

Today's Birthdays

Randall Thompson (1899-1984)
Leonard Warren (1911-1960)
Bruno Maderna (1920-1973)
Locksley Wellington 'Slide' Hampton (1932)
Lionel Rogg (1936)
John McCabe (1939)
John Williams (1941) - guitarist
Iggy Pop (1947)
Richard Bernas (1950)
Melissa Hui (1966)


Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
John Muir (1838-1914)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


Pietro Aretino (1492-1556)
Joan Miró (1893-1983)

From the Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1939 that Billie Holiday recorded the song "Strange Fruit," which describes the lynching of a black man in the South. The song began as a poem written not by Holiday, but by a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx named Abel Meeropol (using the pseudonym Lewis Allan) who was deeply disturbed by a picture he saw of a lynching. Meeropol set the song to music with his wife, Laura, and performed it at venues in New York City. (Meeropol and his wife are also noteworthy for adopting the orphaned Rosenberg children, Robert and Michael, after their parents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were executed for espionage.)

Holiday met Meeropol through a connection at a nightclub in Greenwich Village. She wanted to record the song, but her record label refused to produce something so graphic and she was forced to record it on an alternative jazz label.

Holiday's recording of "Strange Fruit" is unique in American music for its unflinching look at one of the darkest periods in national history.

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Alexandre Pierre François Boëly (1785-1858)
Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)
Ruben Gonzalez (1919-2003)
Bernard Klee (1926)
Dudley Moore (1935-2002)
Kenneth Riegel (1938)
Jonathan Tunick (1938)
David Fanshawe (1942)
Murray Perahia (1947)
Yan-Pascal Tortelier (1947)
Natalie Dessay (1965)


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.

Monday, April 18, 2011

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)


Clarence Darrow (1857 - 1938)

Also a historical tidbit from 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.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Artur Schnabel (1882-1951)
Maggie Teyte (1888-1976)
Harald Saeverud (1897-1992)
Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976)
Pamela Bowden (1925-2003)
James Last (1929)
Anja Silja (1940)
Siegfried Jerusalem (1940)
Cristina Ortiz (1950)


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

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Opera Theater Oregon celebrates a new partnership with 'Sordid Lives'

OTO rolls out the red carpet at the Mission Theater on Friday, May 6 with a wild night of audience participation soap OPERA. 'Sordid Lives' borrows from '80s daytime television, tabloid journalism and the works of the great composers to create a truly demented, all-musical choose-your-own-story opera adventure.

When Wall Street banker Archibald Shackles casts off his scheming first wife Amber for a younger man/woman/man, Amber will stop at nothing to get her revenge: not even framing Archibald's new squeeze for impregnating their daughter. But did he/she/he do it? And if not...who did?

Two teams of opera singers and the OTO Technicolor Orchestra and Chorus battle it out at the audience’s command. Shrieking diva fights, hot, passionate clinches, evil twins, amnesia and intrigue abound! Special guest appearances by members of the Flash Choir and Electric Opera Company.

‘Sordid Lives’ is written by Pat Janowski (Livewire!), Katie Taylor (OTO Producing Artistic Director), John Dover (Alien Baby), and a host of helpless dead composers who will probably be writhing in their graves. Electric Opera Company takes the stage at 9:00pm. Imagine 12 shredding Angus Youngs playing Rossini and Wagner, only cuter, and you’ve got the picture.

‘Sordid Lives’ is a benefit and housewarming party for OTO at the Mission Theater, where the company is now resident. Audience members will be invited to bid for their plot choices and participate in a raffle for fabulous prizes, with all proceeds benefitting OTO’s expanded programming at the Mission. The event is the culmination of a $10,000 fundraising drive to raise funds to help the company develop new performance and educational programming. This event is dedicated to the McMenamin brothers, with thanks for taking OTO on as a resident company.


“McMenamins contacted us last year after our offer for the Guild Theatre fell through,” said OTO Producing Artistic Director Katie Taylor. “I can’t imagine a happier ending to that story!” OTO made headlines last summer for its lease offer on downtown’s Guild Theatre, dark since 2006 when the demolition of its restrooms put an end to NW Film Center’s residency there. The ambitious effort sparked the imaginations not just of film buffs and the Portland arts community, but of local architectural, engineering, construction and law firms who all offered pro bono services to bring the Guild back as a mid-sized live performance hall and retro movie house.

OTO’s effort was ultimately unsuccessful, but it attracted the interest of brew pub king Mike McMenamin, who read about it in The Oregonian. McMenamin asked Corporate Music Director Jimi Biron to contact Taylor, and after several meetings and conversations, they came up with a plan for OTO to use the Mission Theater as its home venue and office. The Mission also houses the Film, Music, and Event booking departments for McMenamins.

“We couldn’t be more delighted to have such a creative and progressive group as OTO share space with all of our event programmers,” Biron said. “We look forward, not only to some great performances in our venues, but to the energy and excitement that may be born of this creative brain trust.”

OTO’s plans for its residency at the Mission include a radio opera, movie musical sing-along nights with the planned OTO Community Choir, and the continuation of 'Sordid Lives' as a 12-episode online series.


OTO’s mission is to bring opera back into pop culture through creative editing and adaptation. Affordable, entertaining, and commonly available—online, in movie theaters, at bars, OTO helps more people connect with classical music in ways that feel relevant to peoples’ lives. OTO is resident at the Mission Theater.

WHAT: SORDID LIVES, A Choose Your Own Adventure Soap OPERA, featuring the Opera
Theater Oregon Technicolor Orchestra and Chorus. Special guests Electric Opera Company.

Benefit and housewarming for OTO’s new residency at The Mission Theater.
WHEN: Friday, May 6 - ONE NIGHT ONLY!
WHERE: The Mission Theater - 1624 NW Glisan St, Portland, OR 97209
WHO: Produced by Opera Theater Oregon
TICKETS: $15, on sale Friday, April 15:

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Joseph Mouret (1682-1738)
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)


John Millington Synge (1871-1909)
Merce Cunningham (1919)
Sir Kingsley Amis (1922-1995)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


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

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Jean Fournet (1913)
Paavo Berglund (1929)
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)


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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


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

And a quote from Virgil Thomson (courtesy of Terry Teachout's blog):

"Teachers tend to form opinions about music, and these are always getting in the way of creation. The teacher, like the parent, must always have an answer for everything. If he doesn't he loses prestige. He must make up a story about music and stick to it. Nothing is more sterilizing."

Virgil Thomson, The State of Music

Virgil is right (to some degree), but this also describes the plight of a critic. One has to weigh the costs of writing criticism, and its value - in the end.
- JB

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

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)
Herbert Khaury (aka Tiny Tim) (1932-1996)
Montserrat Caballé (1933)
Herbie Hancock (1940)
Ernst Kovacic (1943)
Stefan Minde (1936)
Christophe Rousset (1961)


Beverly Cleary (1916)
Alan Ayckbourn (1939)
Jon Krakauer (1954)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549)
Christopher Smart (1722-1771)
Mark Strand (1934)
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.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

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)


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

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Johann Kaspar Kerll (1627-1693)
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)


Charles-Pierre Baudelaire (1821-1867)
Jørn Utzon (1918-2008)

From the 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

Friday, April 8, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)
Seymour Hersh (1937)
Barbara Kingsolver (1955)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Donald Barthelme (1931-1989)
Daniel Ellsberg (1931)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Johann Kuhnau (1660-1772)
André‑Cardinal Destouches (1672-1749)
Edison Denisov (1929-1996)
André Previn (1929)
Merle Haggard (1937)
Felicity Palmer (1944)
Pascal Rogé (1951)
Pascal Devoyon (1953)
Julian Anderson (1967)


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.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


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

Monday, April 4, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731)
Bettina Brentano von Arnim (1785-1859)
Hans Richter (1843-1916)
Pierre Monteux (1875-1964)
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)


Marguerite Duras (1914-1996)
Maya Angelou (1928)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


Washington Irving (1783-1894)
Herb Caen (1933-1997)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


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

Friday, April 1, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


Edmond Rostand (1868-1918)
Milan Kundera (1929)
Francine Prose (1947)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


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

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


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

Pointer to writings in Oregon Music News

Since October of 2009, I've been posting almost all of my interviews, reviews, previews, and news items on Oregon Music News. I keep running into folks who don't realize that. So, I'll try to keep this information posted at the top of Northwest Reverb. Lorin also posts from time to time on Oregon Music News and here in the Reverb, of course.

I'll still be posting important birthdays and other items of note here. This blog still gets around 1200 visits every month (believe it or not).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Today's Birthdays

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


Raphael (1483-1520)
Mario Vargas Llosa (1936)
Iris Chang (1968-2004)