Author: bfc-admin

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec accumsan vitae felis at condimentum. Nunc at consectetur arcu, quis pretium ipsum.

December 15, on television and live in Miami Beach: Tilson Thomas at the Kennedy Center Honors

Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas was among the artists celebrated for their lifetime achievements at the 42nd annual Kennedy Center Honors Gala on December 8, which will be televised on CBS on Sunday, December 15, at 8 p.m. ET. The other 2019 honorees are Earth, Wind & Fire; Sally Field; Linda Ronstadt; and Sesame Street. The tribute to Tilson Thomas included a performance by more than 40 alumni of the New World Symphony, conducted by NWS alumnus and Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams, and also featured Audra McDonald and Yuja Wang as well as Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, who recently collaborated with Tilson Thomas as part of Metallica and San Francisco Symphony’s S&M2 concert. Tilson Thomas co-founded NWS 32 years ago as a training ground for emerging classical musicians. In Miami Beach, New World Symphony and CBS4 Miami will host a free viewing party in SoundScape Park, where the telecast will be projected onto the 7,000-square-foot eastern façade of the New World Center. The outdoor event will include brief on-site performances by NWS Fellows and interviews with CBS4 Entertainment Reporter Lisa Petrillo. Visit the CBS website for more information.

Posted December 13, 2019

New Haven Symphony’s “Christmas Carol in Concert,” with Kathleen Turner, James Naughton

From December 8 to 15 at locations throughout the New Haven area, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra is performing “A Christmas Carol in Concert,” featuring actors Kathleen Turner (in photo) as Ebenezer Scrooge and James Naughton as the Ghosts. Producer and classical radio host Elliott Forrest directs the production, which features original music by John Forster and a book by Arthur Yorinks based on the Charles Dickens story. The first performances took place at the Ivoryton Playhouse (Dec. 8 and 9), with additional performances at Southern Connecticut State University (Dec. 13), First Congregational Church of Madison (Dec. 14), and Sacred Heart University (Dec. 15).

Posted December 13, 2019

New initiative aims to make Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall “the most autism-friendly” classical venue

“Drake Music Scotland, Hebrides Ensemble and The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, are collaborating on a project which aims to see the Hall become one of the UK’s most autism friendly classical music venues,” writes Melissa Bradshaw in Tuesday’s (12/10) (U.K.). “Composer Ben Lunn, who is himself autistic and is currently trainee artistic director with the Hebrides Ensemble, is leading the project…. As part of the project, a member of Drake Music Scotland’s Digital Orchestra, Joseph Cox—who also has autism—has been filmed walking through the experience of arriving at/using The Queen’s Hall. ‘I hope that the film will help people to know it’s fine, it’s ok—you don’t have to worry about coming to The Queen’s Hall, anyone can feel anxious about coming to a concert, not just people with autism,’ says Cox…. Drake Music Scotland’s Digital Orchestra and Hebrides Ensemble give the world premiere of Lunn’s work Symphonies of Instruments at the Hall on 12 December…. ‘By introducing initiatives such as the film and making accessibility information more widely available, we hope to make The Queen’s Hall the most autism friendly music venue in Scotland, if not the UK,’ says Emma Mortimore, marketing manager of The Queen’s Hall.”

Posted December 13, 2019

Orchestrating inclusion at the music conservatory

“More conservatories and orchestras are getting serious about becoming as diverse as the cities they serve,” states Amanda Rabinowitz on Thursday (12/12) at radio station WKSU (Kent, Ohio). “The Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) more than doubled its African American and Latinx population in three years to 15%…. When Paul Hogle came on as president and CEO…. [he started a program] with the Sphinx Organization, a Detroit nonprofit that offers scholarships, performance opportunities and other initiatives [for musicians of color]. Sphinx President Afa Dworkin says CIM is one of three schools where they’ve established … full-scholarship summer programs for middle and high school string musicians.… These types of programs can’t be the only way to address diversity, says Jesse Rosen, the president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras…. ‘There has to be some deep and hard conversation about diversity and equity and inclusion and what those terms mean.’ That’s where the students themselves come in. CIM freshman Philip Williams says he’s often the only African American in his classes and performances. So, he decided this year to form a Black Student Union … for any student who wants to have an open discussion about the future of classical music.”

Posted December 13, 2019

Sheboygan Symphony, year 101: change and tradition

“Dawning a new century of melody and harmony, the Sheboygan Symphony Orchestra looks to grow on its rich history with a fresh focus,” writes AnnMarie Hilton in Wednesday’s (12/11) Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, WI). “ ‘We are closing a great 100-year history and opening the next 100 years,’ said [board president] Scott Kuehn…. Entering its 101st season, the SSO brought in a new orchestra manager, choir director and office manager. It also created an executive director position. And with a 10-year contract set to expire, the symphony is seeking a new music director and conductor [to replace] Kevin McMahon, outgoing music director…. To fill the open position, the symphony will go through applications and interviews during the rest of this season, and then the four finalists will guest-conduct concerts next season. Josh Hernday, executive director of SSO, said this will allow the other musicians and audience members to directly engage in the selection process.…. SSO is responsible for not only providing a service to the community, but making that service accessible to everyone. To increase access to music education, he said the musicians will be spending more time in schools, and [Hernday] hopes to also start an adult education program.”

Posted December 13, 2019

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra ends fiscal 2019 in the black, despite decline in corporate support

“Thanks partly to an uptick in donations, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra ended fiscal year 2019 with a small surplus—about $143,000—that it’s saving for tougher times,” writes Jenna Ross in Wednesday’s (12/11) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “The SPCO balanced its $10.8 million budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30…. Donations from individuals hit a high: to $2.9 million, up 2.7%…. Like other Minnesota arts organizations, the SPCO has been grappling with shifts in funding from corporate foundations. In May, it announced that … changes to grant programs would result in the loss of $230,000 to $300,000 annually. To make up that difference, the nonprofit eliminated three positions and cut loose its Liquid Music series…. The loss of foundation funding … will show up in next year’s fiscal results. Despite that challenge, [SPCO’s Managing Director and President Jon] Limbacher is optimistic…. More and more, the SPCO is relying on donations, rather than tickets, to make its bottom line…. The number of households that saw at least one show … hit a record. The SPCO counted about 13,424 households, an increase of 51 from last year. ‘To me, this is the most important number in classical music,’ Limbacher said.”

Posted December 13, 2019

Composer Joel Thompson on music prompting conversations about race and social injustice

“Does classical music still have a voice in social issues of today? Can it speak for marginalized communities?” writes Daniel Goldberg on Wednesday (12/11) at Chicago radio station WFMT. “Joel Thompson’s 2015 work The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed brings to light an issue that hits close to home here in Chicago and countrywide: the killing of unarmed African American men. In the choral work, Thompson uses the last words of seven different men and parallels those words with Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ.… The piece is meant to prompt conversation about race and social injustice.” The Seven Last Words of the Unarmed was premiered in its orchestral version in 2017 by the Sphinx Symphony and University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club in Detroit and performed by the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra in March 2019. In the interview, Thompson speaks about why he wrote the work in a liturgical format, the importance of “people of color in classical music writing about things that are important to them,” and the new opera he is writing. Read about Thompson’s score and other orchestral works addressing social justice in Symphony magazine.

Posted December 13, 2019

In photo: The Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, led by David Morrow, performs Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed with the Florida A&M Concert Choir and the Morehouse College Glee Club.

Recordings news, December 2019

A new Naxos recording features the Boston Symphony Orchestra in works commissioned and premiered by the orchestra in the early years of Music Director Andris Nelsons’s tenure at the orchestra; repertoire includes Eric Nathan’s the space of a door, George Tsontakis’s Sonnets—Tone Poems for English Horn and Orchestra, Timo Andres’s Everything Happens So Much, and Sean Shepherd’s Express Abstractionism. The Minnesota Orchestra has released the digital version of its recording of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, led by Music Director Osmo Vänskä, on the BIS label; the recording comes out on CD in the U.S. on January 3. Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra will release the first in a series of four recordings of music by Clara Schumann in spring 2020 on the Analekta label, led by Music Director Alexander Shelley. The recording cycle will explore connections between Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms. The North Carolina Symphony is featured in Brahms’s Concerto for Violin and Cello in A minor, with cellist Zuill Bailey and violinist Philippe Quint, on a new Steinway & Sons release; the recording also features Bailey and the U.K.’s Philharmonia Orchestra in Schumann’s Cello Concerto, Bloch’s Prayer, and Bruch’s Kol Nidrei. The Miami Beach-based Nu Deco Ensemble has released a self-titled debut album with music by Nicholas Omicioli, Andy Akiho, and other living composers, plus arrangements of songs by artists including Outkast and Daft Punk. Jacomo Bairos and Sam Hyken are co-founders of Nu Deco Ensemble. The Seattle Symphony and Music Director Thomas Dausgaard have released Rued Langgaard’s Prelude to Antichrist and Richard Strauss’s Alpine Symphony on the Seattle Symphony Media label. The String Orchestra of Brooklyn will release its debut album, afterimage, on January 27, 2020 on the Furious Artisans label, conducted by Eli Spindel. The recording will feature Christopher Cerrone’s High Windows, Jacob Cooper’s Stabat Mater Dolorosa, Paganini’s Caprice No. 6 in G minor, and the first movement of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater; performers include the Argus Quartet, violinist Rachel Lee Priday, soprano Mellissa Hughes, and mezzo-soprano Kate Maroney. The Utah Symphony and Music Director Thierry Fischer have released Saint-Saëns’s Symphony No. 1, Symphony in A Major, and Carnival of the Animals on Hyperion Records, the final recording in the orchestra’s Saint-Saëns recording series.

The classical/hip-hop violin-viola duo Black Violin has a new album, Take the Stairs, on Di-Versatile Music Group label; the duo’s musicians are violinist Kev Marcus (Kevin Sylvester) and violist Wil Baptiste (Wil B). Violinist Rachel Barton Pine and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are featured on a new Avie recording of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto in A minor and Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto in D minor, conducted by Teddy Abrams. Fourteen-year-old composer Alma Deutscher has released an album of her own piano compositions, From My Book of Melodies, on Sony Classical. Sony Classical has released Zubin Mehta: The Complete Columbia Album Collection (recordings from 1965-2015) on 94 CDs and 3 DVDs, featuring orchestras of Vienna, New York, Los Angeles, Israel, and Berlin. Daníel Bjarnason conducts Concurrrence, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra’s new recording of music by Anna Thorvaldsdóttir, Haukur Tómasson, Maria Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir, and Páll Raagnar Pálsson on the Sono Luminus label; performers include pianist Víkingur Ólafsson and cellist Saeunn Thorsteinsdóttir. Ted Hearne’s Hazy Heart Pump, an album of solo and chamber works, has been released on New Focus recordings; performers include cellist Ashley Bathgate, Argus Quartet, Mivos Quartet, violist Diana Wade, violinist Miki-Sophia Cloud, and percussionist Ron Wiltrout. The label Bright Shiny Things has released Ring Out, an album of works by composer violist-composer Jessica Meyer; performers include vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, violinist Miranda Cuckson, pianist Adam Marks, countertenor Nicholas Tamagna, and cellists Caleb van der Swaagh and Andrew Yee.


New opera, “Mila,” about Hong Kong’s domestic workers

“Anyone who has been watching the news lately is aware of the cultural and political complexity of Hong Kong, and in a way, the city itself is a character in the 70-minute chamber opera Mila,” writes Lisa Houston in Sunday’s (12/8) San Francisco Classical Voice. The opera, by Hong Kong playwright Candace Chong Mui Ngam and composer Eli Marshall, was performed December 7 in Manhattan and will be performed December 12 in San Francisco, with the Hong Kong New Music ensemble conducted by Neal Goren. “Mila tells the story of a Filipina woman named Mila … one of the thousands of so-called ‘domestic helpers.’…. ‘In Hong Kong, we don’t have daycare, so a lot of us will have a domestic helper, if we can afford it, otherwise the elderly take care of the kids,’ says Chong…. The story was [also] drawn from … the book Strangers at Home, which depicts some of the struggles of domestic workers…. The characters include Mila and the couple she works for, Sir and Ma’am, as well as the couple’s son. Ma’am is Chinese, Sir is an English speaker, and Mila, as are the majority of domestic workers in Hong Kong, is Filipina.”

Posted December 12, 2019

Review: La Jolla Symphony premiere of Celeste Oram’s concerto for violin and three voices

“Most composers sit in the hall to experience their premieres, but not Celeste Oram,” writes Christian Hertzog in Tuesday’s (12/10) San Diego Union Tribune. “On Saturday, Oram sang from a wing of UC San Diego’s Mandeville Auditorium, part of an offstage vocal trio designated as Teen Angels. It was the world premiere of her commission for the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, ‘a loose affiliation of alleluias’ … subtitled a ‘concerto for violin and three voices’ [with violinist] Keir GoGwilt…. Most of his part consists of verbal directions, with a few sections in which Oram gave him harmonies over which to create his own melodies…. GoGwilt and conductor Steven Schick made their entrances, and as the applause died down, a minor key harmonic progression from the offstage vocalists was revealed, a six-chord loop on top of which GoGwilt soloed. Two percussionists stage left and right snapped their fingers on beats 2 and 4…. Lyrics from Paul Simon’s song ‘Boy in the Bubble’ turned up [and Oram] quotes [from] Giovanni Gabrieli’s partial setting of the Requiem…. The music is an intriguing collage, and its theatricality mysterious yet convincing.” John Adams’s Harmonium and Schumann’s Violin Concerto with GoGwilt also were on the program.

Posted December 12, 2019