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.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Sometimes I’m slow about embracing new technology, and sometimes I’m the first one there. When I worked for Channel 13, I was the very first to buy a fax machine for the Great Performances unit. Until then, we had been using snail mail, FedEx and the Telex (remember the Telex?) to communicate with production companies all over the world.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I’ve had quite the month. For the most part, I’ve been on a bus tour of Europe with the Bedroom Community label (Iceland). This label is unique in that the organizing principle is not really style or genre so much as quality, or interest or something.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
I have a thing for bagpipes--especially Spanish ones. Last night I heard Galician gaiteira extraordinaria Cristina Pato. She's a member of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble, but this time, she was with her own ensemble, serving as ambassador to the 2010 Holy Year (Xacobeo) in Santiago de Compostela, one of the great pilgrimage sites of the world.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Do you remember when riding in a cab in New York often included either an interesting conversation with the driver or a pleasant listening experience via the car radio? These days it seems to be all about passengers on cellphones and the video screen on the back of the front seat that starts doing its thing the minute the ride begins--whether you like it or not!
Monday, May 10, 2010
A student recital I recently attended has really stayed with me. Such performances are music-school requirements, and to complete them successfully is a big relief for the performers, I’m sure. But there was a sense of exultation in the room after the senior recital of Rollin Simmons, a cantorial student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and that feeling has continued to buoy up my spirits ever since.