Thursday, June 17, 2010
Merriam-Webster defines diva (Italian for "goddess") as a prima donna (Italian for "first woman"). The dictionary gives two English definitions for prima donna: (1) a principal female singer in an opera, and (2) a vain or undisciplined person who finds it difficult to work…as part of a team.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Now in its 15th year, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas is a music, theater, and dance festival that takes place in New Haven, CT's historic courtyards, auditoriums and theaters. Festival highlights include a performances by Brooklyn's Electric Junkyard Gamelan, a percussion ensemble that builds its own instruments from found objects, Phillip Glass' performance of his solo piano music and a concert featuring the chamber ensemble repertoire of Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Christopher Rouse. With the festival's "arts and ideas" theme in mind, EJG founder Terry Dame describes the path that led her toward green instrument building.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Xenakis expert and contemporary music heavyweight Douglas Perkins will be a participating percussionist for Persephassa, part of the sprawling Make Music New York: Xenakis in Central Park happening on Monday, June 21 at the Central Park Boating Lake. It's a full afternoon of outdoor performances by the trailblazing Greek composer, featuring the bombastic Persephassa, for six percussionists, who will surround audience members experiencing the piece in floating rowboats on the lake!
Friday, June 11, 2010
This week at a dinner party I met Pam, who left the get-together early. I'm a night owl myself (on the air weekend evenings, after all), but Pam told us that she regularly gets up at 4 am each day. She feels that rising early lets her "own the day," and gives her invaluable time to think and get things done.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
This week marks the 200th anniversary of Robert Schumann's birth, which we've been celebrating all week long on WQXR. Robert Schumann was well known for writing music and prose--in addition to being a composer, he was also a music critic and journalist. But it's clear that Robert Schumann would not have had nearly the success he did if he hadn't married Clara Wieck, a highly talented pianist and composer who served as his partner and muse.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
ISSUE Project Room's Darmstadt Institute curators, Nick Hallett and Zach Layton, lift the cloak off of their musical and non-musical inspirations for this June festival.
Monday, June 07, 2010
I have a few musical guilty-pleasures--the accordion, the musical saw and certain kinds of close harmony singing among them. But I’m sure the one that most marks me as, shall we say, a bit odd, is--I’m hesitating to say it, actually--the theater pipe organ.
Friday, June 04, 2010
For the first time after two sold out seasons, the Tribeca New Music Festival moves to uptown host Merkin Hall with a series of performances presented by the New York Art Ensemble. But the festival will keep its downtown feel, featuring the JACK Quartet performing an eclectic concert of six composers, New York Art Ensemble Monsters! performing a work by Phillip Glass, new media artist Luke Dubois collaborating with vocal quartet New York Polyphony, Pamela Z and Bora Yoon and a night of exciting composer/performer acts.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Lots of composers put the sounds of Nature into their compositions. Think of Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons, or Ludwig van Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. In the 20th century, composers started putting outdoor sounds of a different nature into their work. György Ligeti's opera Le Grand Macabre (which the New York Philharmonic performed so brilliantly last week--you can hear the broadcast June 10 on WQXR), features not one, but two “Car Horn Preludes.” They're scored for twelve bulbed horns (like the kind on a bicycle), each one tuned to a specific pitch. Some of the Ligeti horns were so big and heavy that the percussionists had to stomp on them to play them!
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Throughout June, Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room will host its annual Darmstadt Institute festival, which takes part of its name from the German festival and city Darmstadt. The Brooklyn festival's concerts, talk-backs, lectures and film screenings all offer a varied look into the avant-garde. Darmstadt Institute performer Allison Loggins-Hull of the composer/performer flute duo, Flutronix, talks about the group’s musical upbringing and discusses the internet’s role as a musical matchmaker.
Monday, May 31, 2010
It’s Memorial Day, the traditional start of the summer season. Elsewhere on this website is a guide to great summer music festivals in New York City, the surrounding area, across the country and around the world. But today I’d like to highlight a few specific performances here in town this week which have the added attraction of being free of charge.
Friday, May 28, 2010
When my mother was a young woman living in New York in the early 1950’s, she was on a very tight budget. Oftentimes, she would venture down to Battery Park on a hot summer night and ride the Staten Island Ferry for entertainment. In those days it cost five cents. Today, it is free. She also has wonderful memories of buying standing room tickets for Broadway shows. I seem to recall that seeing Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence in The King and I is one of her favorite memories.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
I’m really looking forward to the New York Philharmonic’s production of Le Grand Macabre, by György Ligeti. Ligeti wrote some wonderful, innovative music. When I was in college, I got to sing his Lux Aeterna (which also put in an audio appearance in "2001: A Space Odyssey"). It was one of the most memorable choral experiences of my life.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Just like I expected Lebron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers to knock off the Boston Celtics, I was hopeful that Gustavo Dudamel and his Los Angeles Philharmonic would knock Bernstein out of the park during their East Coast tour last week. Over consecutive weeks, both superstars appeared mortal.
Friday, May 21, 2010
I have only a few rules in my life and one of them is when asked to host at Carnegie Hall, I always say yes. Such was the case many years ago when I was asked to appear for a few minutes, mid concert, with The New York Youth Symphony. After hearing everything from 1st graders to high schoolers play, I was not sure what to expect. But within minutes of hearing these remarkable young people, I was blown away.