Wednesday, May 04, 2011
Ever since moving to New York City for graduate school, I have tried to attend as many concerts as possible at Carnegie Hall. I can say without a New Yorker's bias that every event I have seen there has been inspiring -- from Brahms symphonies performed by the Berlin Philharmonic, to Ravel's Gaspard played by Jean-Yves Thibaudet, to new songs written and performed by Brad Mehldau and Renée Fleming, to my own father playing with the China Philharmonic on tour. But nothing was comparable to a recital I heard last week. This time, I sat on stage, merely fifteen feet away, in a recital by violist Yuri Bashmet and pianist Evgeny Kissin.
Monday, May 02, 2011
Editor's Note: On Tuesday Riccardo Muti won Spain's Asturias Arts Award.
Earlier this month, I heard two of the Chicago Symphony programs that Riccardo Muti conducted in Carnegie Hall – the concert performance of Verdi’s opera Otello, and the concert that included Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5. Both were extraordinary examples of music-making, which left me wondering: Why is this conductor different from all other conductors? I put that question to a former cellist from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, who happened to be sitting next to me at the first concert. His answer was, “Only one thousand and two hundred different ways, but it’s impossible to put into words.”
Friday, April 29, 2011
Last week, the International Contemporary Ensemble was slated to perform at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. But then the cash-strapped theater canceled the remainder of its season. The program was instead released as a videocast, available here.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
On the WQXR blog, Midge Woolsey ponders why it's important to keep creating new classical works: "After all, there’s a lot of old music out there so why not work on making good with that and forget about creating anything new?"
Friday, April 08, 2011
Who knew that Alban Berg's opera Wozzeck would be, hands down, the best all-around performance this year at the Met? (Fred Plotkin, maybe – he posted about it earlier this week on our blog WQX-Aria.) But I was totally unprepared to be blown away – by the singing, acting, staging, orchestral colors… the total package. The evening began with cheers for James Levine’s appearance in the pit at the beginning of the opera, and ended with a standing ovation. A real one.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
On the WQXR blog, Naomi Lewin is pleased with the trend of orchestras like the New York Philharmonic playing show tunes. "Some may call it crossover, but I call it great musicians giving a performance of great American music," she writes.
Sunday, April 03, 2011
In his new book, a seasoned Broadway composer and accompanist offers candid and often helpful advice that goes beyond often clichéd guidebooks on mastering the auditioning process.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
This last Wednesday I attended The Book Of Mormon, the new Broadway musical from the team who created South Park. Then on Thursday I saw the current revival of the classic musical How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying staring Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame. Just for fun I’d like to compare the two and make the case that How To Succeed is the more offensive of the two.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I had a really interesting time talking with Jake Heggie recently in The Greene Space here at WQXR. Jake is the composer who first hit the scene in a big way with the San Francisco premiere of his opera Dead Man Walking which he wrote with the playwright Terrence McNally. That was over ten years ago. Since then, the opera has played all over the world. He has written several other operas including Moby Dick, which premiered last year at the Dallas Opera with Ben Heppner as Captain Ahab.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Last night, I had the extreme pleasure of seeing Gioachino Rossini’s opera Le Comte Ory. Hard to believe that it premiered in 1828, and this is the first time it’s being done at the Met. Granted, there’s almost no plot, and what there is seems hopelessly politically incorrect. But then so are lots of opera plots, so how much does it matter when there's such delightful music involved?
Thursday, March 03, 2011
When I heard that James Levine was resigning as music director of the Boston Symphony, I felt what many people probably did: relief that he might now be able to recuperate fully from the hard few years he’s had, medically.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
It is impossible to believe that Frederica von Stade has truly left the opera stage after a 40-year career. Can it be possible that I first saw my then-new friend, Flicka in 1971 at the Metropolitan Opera? She was playing Violetta’s friend, Flora Bervoix in La Traviata. I saw her again a few days ago at the Houston Grand Opera, where she sang the role of the heartbroken mother of a condemned man in Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally’s searing and achingly painful opera, Dead Man Walking.