James Bennett II is a staff writer for WQXR.
Classical Music Fans, Start 2017 with a Bang
Sunday, January 01, 2017 - 12:00 AM
A new year means it's time to make some new musical memories. So you won't have waste any time looking for things to do, we've compiled a few of our favorite things to get you started. Be sure to share your suggestions in the comments below.
For the Reader:
Somehow, one the most festive 30-day periods in the entire year is followed by one long, cold, dark month. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although January does not encourage you to venture outside, it does invite you to stay in and curl up with a good book. Kick-start your reading list with some of our favorites from 2016, then make space for upcoming releases. Absolutely on Music presents a series of candid musical conversations between author Haruki Murakami and Boston Symphony Orchestra music director laureate Seiji Ozawa. If you’re looking for an intriguing story, catch up with Florence Foster Jenkins, a biography about the 20th century’s most enigmatic opera singer. In mid-January, be sure to pick up the biography Brahms: A Listener’s Guide, which is sure to give readers a deeper appreciation of the romantic’s music.
For the Watcher:
Books are cool and all, but when it’s freezing outside sometimes you just want to throw on your favorite pajamas, order Seamless, fire up Netflix and chill. If binge-watching is what you’re looking to do, there’s no shortage of film and television to scratch that musical itch. Got some wintertime blues? Maybe it’s time to catch up on the latest season of Mozart in the Jungle, Amazon’s quirky original comedy that chronicles the misadventures of a young oboist in New York. If you’re a biopic fanatic who was a tad disappointed that Mozart isn’t a central character on a show named after him, there’s good news for you: Amadeus has returned to Netflix, where you can also stream Marguerite, a film loosely inspired by Florence Foster Jenkins. Documentary junkies may want to check out Crescendo (also on Netflix), a film about Harlem and Philadelphia teenagers learning their craft in El Sistema-modeled music programs.
For the Listener:
Because you can’t stay indoors all the time. During your commute, brisk winter walks, or newly resolved gym sessions, load up your podcast-listening machine with some informative and eye-opening musical content. Getting into opera might seem like a daunting task, but Merrin Lazyan and Mike Shobe of WQXR ease you into the genre with their weekly series He Sang/She Sang. New music fans will be pleased with Q2’s LPR Live, which features interviews from contemporary musicians alongside performances from New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge. Also tune into Helga, where artists from all backgrounds discuss how social issues inform their work. Houston Public Media’s Classical Classroom, with its casual yet informative interviews from musicians and composers, is perfect for newcomers and longtime fans alike. And while it’s technically not a podcast, Spotify has a hidden gem of a playlist called Classical Music Explained, which includes audio recordings of Leonard Bernstein skillfully walking listeners through some classic masterpieces.
For those Who Brave the Cold:
There are those of us who take no breaks from going out, even if the earth just froze over. Over at the Metropolitan Opera, be sure to check out an all-new production of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (through March 18), or Puccini’s ageless La Bohème (through Jan. 14). For the first time, Carnegie Hall is presenting the complete Bruckner Symphony Cycle (Jan. 19-29), and the New York Gilbert and Sullivan players are premiering an all-new production of The Mikado (through Jan. 8). At Le Poisson Rouge, cellist Ian Raskin (Jan. 4) has crafted a unique set that involves a whole lot of Bach and a dash of rock, tossed in jazz and drizzled with Russian folk music; and the Manhattan Chamber Players (Jan. 14) take on the music of Dvořák and JP Joffre. The early music enthusiast might do well to head the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, where the New York Polyphony will be performing Palestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass (Jan. 21) as part of Miller Theater's early music series. If you’re somehow not interested in any of these performances, you can hold onto your cash and save up for the fast approaching Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience (tour begins Feb. 15). And if you really are refusing to leave your home, but desperately need live music, consider hosting a GroupMuse.
This is only a small sample of things to do this January. What are you most looking forward to?