Saturday, December 31, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Caroline Miolan‑Carvalho (1827-1895)
Ernest John Moeran (1894-1950)
Silvestre Revueltas (1899-1940)
Nathan Milstein (1904-1992)
Jule Styne (1925-1994)
Jaap Schröder (1925)
Odetta (1930-2008)
Stephen Cleobury (1948)
Donna Summer (1948)
Jennifer Higdon (1962)


Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Nicholas Sparks (1965)
Junot Díaz (1968)

Friday, December 30, 2016

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 (1919-2015)
Bo Diddley (1928-2008)
Bruno Canino (1935)
June Anderson (1950)
Stephen Jaffe (1954)
Antonio Pappano (1959)


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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

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)

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Christian Cannabich (1731-1798)
Francesco Tamagno (1850-1905)
Roger Sessions (1896-1985)
Earl "Fatha" Hines (1905-1983)
Johnny Otis (1921-2012)
Nigel Kennedy (1956)


Charles Portis (1933)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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


Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
Charles Olson (1910-1970)
Wilfrid Sheed (1930-2011)
Chris Abani (1966)
Sarah Vowell (1969)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Leopold Mannes (1899-1964)
Maurice Gendron (1920-1990)
Thea King (1925-2007)
Earle Brown (1926-2002)
Phil Specter (1940)
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)
David Sedaris (1958)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)
Jean‑Joseph de Mondonville (1711-1772)
Chevalier de Saint‑George (1745-1799)
Cosima Wagner (1837-1930)
Lina Cavalieri (1874-1944)
Giuseppe de Luca (1876-1950)
Gladys Swarthout (1900-1969)
Cab Calloway (1907-1994)
Noël Lee (1924-2013)
Noel Redding (1945-2003)
Jon Kimura Parker (1959)
Ian Bostridge (1964)


Dorothy Wordsworth (1771-1855)
Clara Barton (1821-1912)
Rod Serling (1924-1975)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Peter Cornelius (1824-1874)
Nikolai Roslavets (1881-1944)
Lucrezia Bori (1887-1960)
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)

and from The Writer'sAlmanac

Today is Christmas Eve. One of the best modern Christmas Eve stories is a true one, and it happened in 1914, in the trenches of World War I. The “war to end all wars” was raging, but German and British soldiers had been engaging in unofficial ceasefires since mid-December. The British High Command was alarmed, and warned officers that fraternization across enemy lines might result in a decreased desire to fight. On the German side, Christmas trees were trucked in and candles lit, and on that Christmas Eve in 1914, strains of Stille Nacht — “Silent Night” — reached the ears of British soldiers. They joined in, and both sides raised candles and lanterns up above their parapets. When the song was done, a German soldier called out, “Tomorrow is Christmas; if you don’t fight, we won’t.”

The next day dawned without the sound of gunfire. The Germans sent over some beer, and the Brits sent plum pudding. Enemies met in no man’s land, exchanging handshakes and small gifts. Someone kicked in a soccer ball, and a chaotic match ensued. Details about this legendary football match vary, and no one knows for sure exactly where it took place, but everyone agrees that the Germans won by a score of three to two.

At 8:30 a.m. on December 26, after one last Christmas greeting, hostilities resumed. But the story is still told, in a thousand different versions from up and down the Western Front, more than a century later.

On Christmas Eve in 1906, the first radio program was broadcast. Canadian-born Professor Reginald Aubrey Fessenden sent his signals from the 420-foot radio tower of the National Electric Signaling Company, at Brant Rock on the Massachusetts seacoast. Fessenden opened the program by playing “O Holy Night” on the violin. Later he recited verses from the Gospel of St. Luke, then broadcast a gramophone version of Handel’s “Largo.” His signal was received up to five miles away.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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


Harriet Monroe (1860-1936)
Norman Maclean (1902–1990)
Robert Bly (1926)
Carol Ann Duffy (1955)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787)
Giovanni Bottesini (1821-1889)
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)
Donald Harrington (1935-2009)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New comprehensive app for music lovers

From the press release:

 To celebrate the launch of its music history app for smartphones and iOS devices that’s taking the classical music world by storm, Informusic ( announces that it is pricing the app at just 99 cents through January 1, 2017.

Created by Drew Schweppe  and refined along with a select team of leading musicologists, performers, professors, and historians, Informusic is the all-in-one music history and composer resource that means that music students and classical music fans alike will now be able to access a wealth of detailed musical history facts and information with just the swipe of a finger. Now – even better – they can do so for just 99 cents (USD)! It’s the unbeatable holiday gift for classical musicians, teachers, students, and fans worldwide.

Informusic offers a huge array of detailed information on Western Art Music’s greatest composers and compositions, from the Medieval era, through the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras – and with more expansions yet to come. At the swipe of a screen, users can browse Informusic for such useful and fascinating information as composer biographies, quick facts, and complete works, along with program notes, sheet music, audio samples, and suggested further scholarship.

Informusic also features interactive timelines that enable users to scroll through the chronology of a composer’s life and greatest achievements, helping to contextualize musical events with other disciplines like art, literature, politics, and beyond. Users can also curate their searches with ease to filter by year, event type, or specific keywords. The app is constantly updated with ever-expanding content and composers as well.

The Perfect Holiday Gift for Music Fans & Music Students:
“With our special holiday pricing to celebrate Informusic’s launch, this means that anyone with a smartphone or iOS device can explore centuries of classical music history for less than a dollar, making it a fantastic gift or stocking-stuffer,” comments Informusic founder and director Drew Schweppe. “Informusic is an incredible resource for students and teachers, as it offers all of the tools a music student requires for their music history courses in a single app. But it also goes further – it’s a great gift for classical music fans, too. For instance, if you hear a particular piece by Beethoven at the symphony or on the radio, Informusic provides you with an incredible amount of instantly accessible information surrounding the piece, its composer, its influences and impacts, and more.”

Schweppe was inspired to create Informusic as a result of his intensive studies in music, while pursuing his Master’s degrees in Music and Music Industry Leadership from City University of London and Northeastern University (he also holds a Bachelor of Music in Composition degree from Ithaca College). As he became increasingly interested in music history, he quickly realized the advantages a comprehensive music history app for iOS devices might offer to performers, students and fans of classical music, and his quest to create Informusic began – a goal that would take more than five years of exhaustive research and development to achieve.

Purchase Info and Technical Requirements:
Informusic is compatible with the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and requires iOS 8.0 or later. To celebrate its launch this holiday season, it’s currently available for a limited time through the New Year for just $.99 at the Apple iTunes Store, at

While Informusic currently features only Western Art Music, expansions for other genres such as Jazz are also in the works now.

About Informusic:
Informusic is the essential classical music history app for iOS that was created and founded by Drew Schweppe. Informusic provides a wealth of music history information that was specially created by experts in musicology, history, and performance. Its advisory board of PhD musicologists chaired by Dr. Mark A. Radice (Professor, Music Theory, History, and Composition at Ithaca College) ensures the app’s quality and accuracy as an invaluable learning tool for all. Learn more about Informusic at

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)
Maud Gonne (1866-1953)
Edward Hoagland (1932)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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


Elizabeth Benedict (1954)
Sandra Cisneros (1954)
Nalo Hopkinson (1960)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Louis‑Nicolas Clérambault (1676-1749)
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)
Constance Garnett (1861-1946)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

It’s the birthday of French chanteuse Édith Piaf (1915). Piaf was born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Belleville, on the outskirts of Paris. Her mother was a café singer and a drug addict, and her father was a street performer who specialized in acrobatics and contortionism. Neither of them particularly cared for Piaf, so she mostly grew up with her grandmother, who ran a brothel. Piaf was looked after by prostitutes and later claimed that she was blind from the ages of three to seven because of keratitis, or malnutrition, though this was never proved.

Her father reclaimed her when she was nine and Piaf began singing with him on street corners until he abandoned her again. She lived in shoddy hotel rooms in the red-light district of Paris and sang in a seedy café called Lulu’s, making friends with pimps, hookers, lowlifes, and gamblers, until she was discovered by an older man named Louis Leplée.

Leplée ran a nightclub off the Champs-Élysées. He renamed Piaf La Môme Piaf, “The Little Sparrow,” dressed her entirely in black, and set her loose on the stage. Piaf was a hit, and recorded two albums in one year, becoming one of the most popular performers in France during World War II.

Édith Piaf died on the French Riviera at the age of 47. More than 40,000 people came to her funeral procession. Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Karachkina named a small planet after Piaf; it’s called 3772 Piaf. Her songs have been covered by Madonna, Grace Jones, and even Donna Summer.

Édith Piaf’s last words were, “Every damn thing you do in this life, you have to pay for.”

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Charles Wesley (1707-1788)
Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)
Edward MacDowell (1860-1908)
Fletcher Henderson (1897-1952)
Rita Streich (1920-1987)
William Boughton (1948)
David Liptak (1949)
Christopher Theofanidis (1967)


Saki - H. H. Munro (1870-1916)
Paul Klee (1879-1940)
Christopher Fry (1907-2005)
Abe Burrows (1910-1985)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

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)


John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939)
William Safire (1929-2009)
John Kennedy Toole (1937-1969)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

It's the day that The Nutcracker ballet was performed for the first time in St. Petersburg, Russia (1892). Czar Alexander III, in the audience, loved the ballet, but the critics hated it. Tchaikovsky wrote that the opera that came before The Nutcracker "was evidently very well liked, the ballet not. ... The papers, as always, reviled me cruelly." Tchaikovsky died of cholera less than a year later, before The Nutcracker became an international success.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Today's Birthdays

François Adrien Boieldieu (1775-1834)
Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967)
Turk Murphy (1915-1987)
Steve Allen (1921-2000)
Dame Thea King (1925-2007)
Alice Parker (1925)
Kenneth Gilbert (1931)
Philip Langridge (1939-2010)
Trevor Pinnock (1946)
Isabelle van Keulen (1966)


Jane Austin (1775-1817)
George Santayana (1863-1952)
Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
Noël Coward (1899-1973)
V. S. Pritchett (1900- 1997)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Michel‑Richard Delalande (1657-1726)
Lotte Schöne (1891-1981)
Stan Kenton (1911-1979)
Ida Haendel (1924)
Eddie Palmieri (1936)
Nigel Robson (1948)
Jan Latham-Koenig (1953)


Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof (1859-1917)
Maxwell Anderson (1888-1959)
Freeman Dyson (1923)
Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000)
Edna O'Brien (1930)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Felder magical as Irving Berlin in one-man show

A grand piano, a Christmas tree, a fireplace, two big windows and snow falling outside… it made me want to reach for an eggnog, but I was at The Armory and settling into my seat when Hershey Felder walked out on the stage to begin his one-man show about the life and music of Irving Berlin, the great American songwriter. For the next hour and forty-five minutes, Felder held the SRO audience at Portland Center Stage spellbound as he retold Berlin’s remarkable life story, singing and playing the piano with such panache that you practically thought you were watching Berlin himself.

Starting with Berlin’s humble beginnings as a refugee from Russia where his family’s home was burnt to the ground because of rampant anti-Semitism, Felder embarked on a tour of Berlin’s life that was truly astonishing. Berlin rose out of the poverty-stricken tenements in New York City, parlaying his street-corner busking into a singing waiter job that helped him to sell his first song, “Marie From Sunny Italy.” That led to his first smash hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and the rest was history. But actually it wasn’t, because Berlin, like everyone, had his ups and downs. Of course, he had more ups than downs, but still the downs that Felder recounted were major, such as the death of his first wife, Dorothy. She contracted typhoid fever during their honeymoon in Havana and died five months later. Berlin took her death very hard. His melancholy ballad, “When I Lost You” was dedicated to her, and he did not marry again for twelve years. That was when he fell in love with the heiress Ellin Mackay, whose father disowned her after she married Berlin. They had four children, but their only son died on Christmas Day in 1928.

The show included Berlin’s hits during the First World War, the Second World War, his work in musicals and films. Felder performed several of them, including “My Wife’s Gone to the Country,” “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” “What’ll I Do?,” “Blue Skies,” “Supper Time,” and “There’s No Business Like Showbusiness,” and made sure to include the audience in “God Bless America” and “White Christmas.” He showed an impeccable ear and talent for mimicry when he spoke or sang in the style of others such as Ethel Merman, but his parrot voice for the last verse of “My Wife’s Gone to the Country” was the most surprising and funniest of all.

Felder related fun facts about Berlin, such as how he wrote all of his pieces in the key of F sharp and relied on his staff to transcribe them to other keys. He loved to work at night and into the early morning, thriving under pressure to find just the right words and create a new song. But his genius was not the center-point of the show, rather it was the wonderful embrace of humanity that embodied Berlin. He took care of his family, his friends, and others (for example, since 1940, all royalty payments from “God Bless America” have been directed to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.” He was not arrogant or disdainful of others, and he supported civil rights, giving Ethel Waters star billing in 1933 for his musical revue “As Thousands Cheer.” She became to first black woman to star in a white show on Broadway.

In his final years, Berlin became a recluse. He had been such a part of the nation’s life and breath that it was difficult for him to fathom the popularity of rock and roll. Felder had an excellent quip that summed it up: “I lived beyond my expiration date.” Well, Felder’s superb performances as Irving Berlin at The Armory are due to expire at the end of the month. Be sure to see this amazing show. It is life-enhancing.


PS: Felder directed “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” which will return to Portland Center Stage in June. For more information on that show, click here.

Today's Birthdays

Maria Agata Szymanowska (1789-1831)
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)
Amy Hempel (1951)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Alexis de Castillon (1838-1873)
Josef Lhévinne (1874-1944)
Eleanor Robson Belmont (1879-1979)
Samuel Dushkin (1891-1976)
Victor Babin (1908-1972)
Alvin Curran (1938)


Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882)
Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)
James Wright (1927-1980)
Lester Bangs (1948-1982)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Oregon Symphony creates superb "Turangalîla"

For the second of its SoundSights concerts, the Oregon Symphony uncorked an intense performance of Olivier Messiaen’s “Turangalîla-Symphonie” on Monday (December 5) at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. One could hardly expect anything less after seeing the stage packed with musicians, a vast array of percussion instruments along the back left wall, a grand piano and an ondes martenot arranged in the front. The concert probably marked the premiere Portland appearance of the ondes martenot, a piano-like electronic instrument that can make sliding glissandos and other unusual sounds that are rarely heard live. Yet as part of its SoundSights presentation, the concert also featured special video animation created by Rose Bond and the Pacific Northwest College of Art to accompany the music. The undertaking of such a task was admirable, but in the imagery was mostly a distraction from the music which had plenty going on to engage the senses.

Inspired by the legend of Tristan and Isolde, Messiaen wrote “Turangalîla” as expression of various aspects of love – carnal, passionate, idealistic, tender, romantic, you-name-it – and death. Its ten movements take almost 80 minutes, and the Oregon Symphony with pianist Steven Osborne and ondes martenot specialist Cynthia Millar collaborated marvelously under the baton of Music Director Carlos Kalmar to deliver the myriad of sonic textures with integrity. But the softest passages were covered unfortunately by the sound of the video projector, which was positioned at the lip of the balcony.

Osborne’s fearless and impeccable playing of knuckle-crunching notes that often cascaded down the keyboard was one of the many highlights of the performance. Millar deftly added tones from the ondes martenot, but it was indeed strange to hear the high-pitched whistling sounds. The trombones and tuba created an imposing presence with the “Statue” theme. The trumpets hit dizzying high notes spot on. Oddly enticing woodwind combinations drifted in and out. The strings created a lush background when they were not zigging and zagging across the musical landscape (Nancy Ives even broke a string on her cello). The percussion battery made the most of gongs, cymbals, drums, chimes, woodblocks, xylophones, triangles, and other beatable items.

The video animation tried to match the tempo of the music. When things got faster, the imagery increased. When the tempo slowed down, so did the pace of images. The colors scheme started with white and gradually moved to vibrant colors at the end of the piece. The images of nuts, bolts, and screws seemed way out of context, but the plant-tendril silhouettes were appealing, and at the end of the piece there was a riot of colors. I found myself closing my eyes at times so that I could hear the music more closely. For me, the visual aspect didn’t enhance the music, but it seemed that the audience, in general, enjoyed the two together. The grandest impression I was left with at the end of the piece was the shimmering sound of the cymbals during the fire-alarm-level of forte in the final measures. That was one of the loudest finales I have ever heard anywhere.

Because “Turangalîla” draws on the legend of Tistan and Isolde, it was highly appropriate for the concert to open with the “Prelude and Liebestod” from Richard Wagner’s opera “Tristan und Isolde.” The unhurried pace and slowly building tension was just delicious to the ears. The woodwinds excelled with their contributions (special kudos to Todd Kuhns, bass clarinet) as did the horns. Now if Kalmar and company could only have more strings to add to the rich and beautiful sound!

Today's Birthdays

Andrey Schulz‑Evler (1852-1905)
Frank Sinatra (1915-1998)
Philip Ledger (1937-2012)
Donald Maxwell (1948)
Margaret Tan (1953)
Jaap van Zweden (1960)
David Horne (1970)
Evren Genis (1978)


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

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
Joseph Jongen (1873-1953)
Leo Ornstein (1893-2002)(br> Elliott Carter (1908-2012)
David Ashley White (1944)
Neil Mackie (1946)


Grace Paley (1922-2007
Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006)
Grace Paley (1922-2007)
Jim Harrison (1937-2016)
Thomas McGuane (1939)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

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)
Melvil Dewey (1851-1931)
Adolf Loos (1870-1933)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Today's Birthdays

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


John Milton (1608-1674)
Joel Chandler Harris (1848-1908)
Léonie Adams (1899 - 1988)
Ödön von Horváth (1901-1938)

From the Writer's Almanac:

Milton coined more than 600 words, including the adjectives dreary, flowery, jubilant, satanic, saintly, terrific, ethereal, sublime, impassive, unprincipled, dismissive, and feverish; as well as the nouns fragrance, adventurer, anarchy, and many more.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Vancouver Symphony goes to the movies with gusto

Young audience member with the Star Wars tribe in the lobby before the VSO concert
On Sunday (December 4) Skyview Concert Hall was packed with kids, young adults, and folks who were geared up for an evening of movie music delivered by the Vancouver Symphony. Many of them had already posed in the lobby with characters from the Star Wars movies, including Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and several Imperial Stormtroopers. It was the perfect prelude for Salvador Brotons and his forces who presented a program of movie music classics, marking the first time that the VSO has given a pops concert during its regular season.

The orchestra opened the concert with the extremely brief fanfare that always precedes a 20th Century Fox movie and followed it with “Star Trek through the Years” by Alexander Courage and Jerry Goldsmith in an arrangement by Calvin Custer. Besides the impeccable contributions of pianist Michael Liu, the brass and percussion distinguished themselves with their responsive and enthusiastic playing.

The “Tribute to Henry Mancini” (also in an arrangement by Custer) that juxtaposed the loosey goosey “Baby Elephant Walk” from “Hatari,” the snappy theme from the “The Pink Panther,” and wah-wahing brashness from “Peter Gun” with expansive and lush theme music of “Charade” and “The Days of Wine and Roses.” Monty Norman’s “James Bond Theme” in an arrangement by John Barry included familiar strains from “Dr. No” and “Live and Let Die.” Next came James Horner’s “Titanic Suite” in an arrangement by John Moss that featured a lovely solo for principal flutist Rachel Rencher that invoked the Scottish Highlands.

Music that John Williams wrote for “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in an arrangement by Jerry Brubaker was highlighted by woven textures from the violins and foreboding French horns. Hans Zimmer’s music from “The Gladiator” in an arrangement by John Wasson contrasted a relentlessly driving theme with a lovely melody for cellos and violas as well highlighted passages for Rencher and Dunn.

After intermission, the trumpets led the way in John Williams’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” which was followed by the soaring “Star Wars Suite,” which had separate movements for Leia’s Theme, T e Imperial March, Yoda’s Theme, and the Throne Room. The audience got swept away by the shear wash of sound and erupted in a standing ovation after the very grand finale. This was followed by a delightful encore, Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride” with Dunn creating the neighing horse sound at the end.

Many European conductors are rather stilted when it comes to conducting pops or music that is jazzy, such as Gershwin, but Broton handled all of the piece with panache and let the orchestra play out. The orchestra members seemed to have as much fun as the audience and got into the photo action with the Star Wars characters during intermission. It was a smooth ride for all and, because of the large crowd, it looks like another pops concert might be on the horizon for next season.

Today's Birthdays

Claude Balbastre (1724-1799)
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
Manuel Ponce (1882-1948)
Bohuslav Martinů (1890-1959)
Gérard Souzay (1918-2004)
James Galway (1939)


Horace (65-8 B.C.)
Diego Rivera (1886-1957)
James Thurber (1894-1961)
James Tate (1948)
Mary Gordon (1949)
Bill Bryson (1951)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Live music at Club Mod a real hit

Club Mod uncorked a special live show at the studios of All Classical Portland on Saturday evening (December 3) that was delightful, informative, and extremely well played. The show was part of the Messiaen Mélange Musique festival that celebrated music created by or connected with Olivier Messiaen. Composer/impresario Bob Priest, who studied with Messiaen in Paris, created the MMM festival. Priest was a special guest of the Club Mod show, which was emceed by Club Mod host Robert McBride. McBride, who has one of the smoothest radio voices that you’ll ever hear, interviewed Priest before each set of pieces were played, which added tremendously to the context of the program. To top that off, Ronnie Lacroute read poems in French and English that related to theme of the music.

Amelia Lukas started the concert portion with a lyrical and blithe performance of Debussy’s “Syrinx” for the alto flute. Also lovely were a series of descending notes that she played with a pillowy softness. Next came “Le Merle Noir” (“The Black Bird”), Messiaen’s first piece based on bird song. This time, Lukas played the typical C flute and created all sorts of sounds that reminded me of fluttering birds that pecked about now and then. Pianist Monica Ohuchi supported Lukas with a forest of notes and the piece had a wonderful, improvised feel.

Kaija Saariaho is one of today’s preeminent composers, and her “Cendres” (“Cinders”) for piano, flute, and cello received its Portland premiere with Ohuchi, Lukas, and cellist Valdine Mishkin. The music in this piece ranged far and wide. The players used several extended techniques: Ohuchi reached inside the piano to fashion a harpsichord-like sound. Lukas and Mishkin produced a shimmer of half-tones. One passage for cello sounded like a squeaky door. It had lyrical and crystalline moments as well, and it ended quietly – just as ashes usually do.

Because Messiaen’s father was a scholar of Shakespeare’s work, Priest commissioned five pieces – each lasting one minute – inspired by Ariel’s song from “The Tempest.” Entitled the “Full Fathom Five”project, each piece was written by a different composer, beginning with Nancy Ives chant-like “Sea Change” for cello. That was followed by Linda Woody’s somber “The Bells Are Rich and Strange” for flute and cello. Next came Ken Selden’s questioning “Full Fathom 5.5” for flute, cello, and piano, which was followed by Antonio Celaya’s enigmatically lyrical “Something Rich and Strange” for flute and piano, and finally a wild and demonstrative “Sea-Changed” for piano by Jeff Winslow.

Bob Priest’s arrangement of Messiaen’s “Le Sourire” (“The Smile”) for flute, cello, and piano was delicate and lovely. I wish that it could have been extended somehow. Messiaen’s “Louange a l’eternite de Jesus” from his “Quartet for the End of Time,” received a wonderfully evocative performance by Mishkin and Ohuchi. Ohuchi played Messiaen’s “Ile de Feu I” (“Island of Fire”) with passion and élan. It was an excellent segue to a fine recording of “Turangalîla-Symphony” that closed out the evening.

McBride mentioned that Club Mod was in its ninth year. So it was high time to present a live concert, and this one was exceptional. Maybe we could hear more compositions from Northwest composers in the near future done in this kind of live format.

Today's Birthdays

Bernardo Pasquini (1637 - 1710)
Pietro Mascagni (1863-1945)
Ernst Toch (1887-1964)
Rudolf Friml (1879-1972)
Daniel Jones (1912-1993)
Helen Watts (1927-2009)
Harry Chapin (1942-1981)
Daniel Chorzempa (1944)
Tom Waits (1949)
Kathleen Kuhlmann (1950)
Krystian Zimerman (1956)


Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680)
Willa Cather (1873-1947)
Joyce Cary (1888-1957)
Noam Chomsky (1928)
Susan Isaacs (1943)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703)
Ira Gershwin (1896-1983)
Dave Brubeck (1920-2012)
Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929-2016)
Henryk Górecki (1933-2010)
Tomas Svoboda (1939)
John Nelson (1941)
Daniel Adni (1951)
Bright Sheng (1955)
Matthew Taylor (1964)


Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529)
The Encyclopedia Brittanica (1768)
Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898-1995)

Monday, December 5, 2016

University research shows the listening to classical music successful again dementia

Research at Colorado State University has shown that classical music listening has actually reversed cognitive decline in people with dementia. Click here to read about this study.

Today's Birthdays

Francesco Geminiani (1687-1762)
"Little" Richard Wayne Penniman (1935)
José Carreras (1946)
Krystian Zimerman (1956)
Osvaldo Golijov (1960)


Christina (Georgina) Rossetti (1830-1894)
Joan Didion (1934)
John Berendt (1939)
Calvin Trillin (1935)
Lydia Millet (1968)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

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)
Cornell Woolrich (1903-1968)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Nicolo Amati (1596-1684)
André Campra (1660-1744)
Antonio Soler (1729-1783)
Émile Waldteufel (1837-1915)
Anton Webern (1883-1945)
Halsey Stevens (1908-1989)
Nino Rota (1911-1979)
Irving Fine (1914-1962)
Charles Craig (1919-1997)
Paul Turok (1929-2012)
José Serebrier (1938)
Matt Haimovitz (1970)


Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)
Anna Freud (1895-1982)
Zlata Filipović (1980)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cabaret songs survive the din of the Waypost

It was still Happy Hour when I stepped up to the bar at the Waypost to order a draft IPA. Besides libations, the Waypost, located on North Williams Avenue, has an intimate concert space with seating that is barely separated from the bar area. It’s definitely a non-traditional venue for musicians who don’t plan to use amplification. That was the intent of the cofounders of Northwest Art Song – soprano Arwen Myers, mezzo Laura Beckel Thoreson, and pianist Susan McDaniel – who bravely tested the cozy confines of the Waypost with baritone Deac Guidi on Sunday (November 27) for an evening of cabaret songs.

The professionalism of the performers was of the highest order, because they gave an outstanding performance in spite of the constant din of noise from the patrons near the bar. Anyone who sat in the first four rows probably heard most of the words, but it was difficult beyond that arc – especially when the music was mezzo piano or quieter.

Still there was much to be enjoyed, starting with Thoreson’s singing of four William Bolcom numbers, including a sultry “At the Last Lousy Moments of Love” and an enticing “Amor.” Myers didn’t miss a beat in her set of Britten tunes, excelling with the witty “Tell me the Truth about Love” and the pell-mell “Calypso.” Guidi brought down the house with his terrific singing of Cole Porter’s “The Tale of the Oyster.” All three collaborated in singing Bolcom’s “Minicabs,” with its delightful non-sequiturs.

The second half of the show began with several arrangements of popular numbers by Bob Kingston, who served as Portland Opera’s historian and lecturer for many years. Thoreson delivered the bitter sweet vibe of “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most.” Guidi put a light touch on “The Way You Look Tonight.” Myers sang “Somewhere over the Rainbow” with heartfelt poignancy that actually got the people in the bar to stop talking and listen. Rounding out Kingston’s offerings – all premieres – were lovely arrangements of “I’ll be Around,” “A Foggy Day,” and “Lush Life.”

To conclude the concert were three numbers from Bernstein’s “Candide.” Myers positively bubbled with “Glitter and Be Gay,” touching all of the high notes with a delightful élan. She teamed up with Thoreson to give a wonderfully funny “We are Women,” and Thoreson and included some sly gestures. With Guidi and an unnamed tenor, Thoreson and the ensemble did a smashing job with “I Am Easily Assimilated.” That got the crowd off their feet, so Myers and Thoreson topped it off with the “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” with a hilarious alternative text that riffed on music like “You say staccato and I say legato.” It was a great way to end the evening with ovations for all, including McDaniel, who provided masterful accompaniment for each piece.

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)
Jörg Demus (1928)


Georges-Pierre Seurat (1859-1891)
T. Coraghessan Boyle (1948)
George Saunders (1958)
Ann Patchett (1963)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Today's Birthdays

François‑Xavier Richter (1709-1789)
Agathe Grøndahl (1847-1907)
Gordon Crosse (1932)
Lou Rawls (1933-2006)
Bette Midler (1945)
Rudolf Buchbinder (1946)
Leontina Vaduva (1960)


Alicia Markova (1910-2004)