MEMETERIA

THOMAS MAY on the arts

John Adams at ENO: The Other Mary

Mary

The full opera staging of John Adams’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary premieres tonight at English National Opera in London, in a production directed by the brilliant Peter Sellars (recently named Musical America’s Artist of the Year).

Here’s a clip with Peter Sellars and John Adams discussing the work:

http://www.eno.org/gospel

Filed under: American music, American opera, John Adams, opera

Tere O’Connor Comes to Seattle

Thomas May:

Tonight brings the first of Tere O’Connor’s performances at On the Boards.

Originally posted on MEMETERIA:

Photo by Paula Court

Here’s my interview with the visionary choreographer Tere O’Connor ahead of his November residency at On the Boards and Velocity Dance Center in Seattle:

Tere O’Connor’s work isn’t just for lovers of dance; it’s for anyone interested in paradigm-shifting approaches to the performing arts. The radically innovative choreographer, dancer, teacher and thinker has been creating professional dance for more than three decades. This month, for the first time, the New York-based artist brings his company to Seattle to perform his work.

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Filed under: Uncategorized

Ebola Relief Concert

Ebola-relief

Every bit counts when it comes to trying to alleviate the suffering caused by crises like the current Ebola outbreak. Seattle’s Early Music Guild is presenting a special fundraiser on November 24 at Town Hall aimed at helping victims of the Ebola crisis.

Those who attend are invited to make a free-will donation in support of the great work done by Doctors without Borders and the Hope Project for Ebola relief in West Africa.

The crises caused by various plagues in human history have inspired artistic responses — art that does the work of mourning and remembering the victims and offering consolation to the bereaved. The special Early Music Guild concert will focus on the musical response of Medieval European composers such as Machaut, Landini, and Dufay to the devastating bubonic plague of the late Middle Ages. These will be juxtaposed with readings and songs from West Africa.

The concert will suggest parallels between Europeans’ reactions to plague in the 13th and 14th centuries and the ongoing tragedy in West Africa. This Ebola Relief program will feature performers including Eunice Yonly, Erin Calata, Erika Chang, and Marian Seibert, voices; August Denhard, lute; Shulamit Kleinerman, vielle; Bill McJohn, harp; and Peggy Monroe, percussion.

The evening will include also commentary from individuals dedicated to the fight to halt Ebola: Pastor George Everett of Transcontinental Ministries in Kent, Washington, will offer a personal reflection on the tragedy and how his Liberian community of faith is addressing it; Michael Nash, Executive Director of The Hope Project (based in Leavenworth, WA), will describe his organization’s work to build schools and protect communities from Ebola. And the audience will have an opportunity to participate in the music-making as Eunice Yonly lead a group performance of the anthem Africa Will be Saved.

The program will take place at 7:30 p.m. on November 24, 2014, at Town Hall Seattle. additional information, please call Early Music Guild at (206) 325-7066 or email emg@earlymusicguild.org.

Filed under: early music, social commitments

A Touch of Ghosts

I can’t wait for the new production of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles coming in January at Los Angeles Opera — part of the company’s upcoming Figaro Trilogy that will include the iconic Mozart and Rossini operas based on the plays of Beaumarchais.

The composer on style, from an extensive interview with Bruce Duffie:

I don’t write in any one style. That is important. I feel I do not approach a piece thinking of any style at all, but I evolve the style when I know what I have to write for that piece. If you listen to the “Pied Piper” and the Clarinet Concerto and the Oboe Concerto — which are three woodwind concertos — you’ll see that they’re totally and completely different from each other. I use style in a different way. I tend to think of style as a variable. I do have stylistic things that come back — certain intervals, certain kinds of progressions, certain sonorities, that I use because they’re part of me. That is an unconscious style. But as far as the idea of style as it exists in music today, in which one associates a sonority or a sound or a total piece with somebody, and he writes the next piece in that style and the next piece in that style, as Brahms did, I don’t feel I’m that kind of composer.

Here’s a little teaser of costume sketches.

Filed under: aesthetics, American opera, composers, Los Angeles Opera

Tere O’Connor Comes to Seattle

Photo by Paula Court

Here’s my interview with the visionary choreographer Tere O’Connor ahead of his November residency at On the Boards and Velocity Dance Center in Seattle:

Tere O’Connor’s work isn’t just for lovers of dance; it’s for anyone interested in paradigm-shifting approaches to the performing arts. The radically innovative choreographer, dancer, teacher and thinker has been creating professional dance for more than three decades. This month, for the first time, the New York-based artist brings his company to Seattle to perform his work.

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Filed under: dance, interview

Consuming Consumption: TB on the Opera Stage

Mimi-deathbed

On the TB angle in Puccini (for San Francisco Opera’s La bohème:

“But if she’s dying of that dreadful disease, how could she still sing such gorgeous music?” It’s a question opera-goers often get asked when trying to describe what happens at the climax of one of the most beloved works in the repertoire. In the famous scene from the film Moonstruck, the character played by Cher —who is seeing La Bohème for the first time — notices the paradox and declares, “I didn’t know she was going to die!”

But Mimì’s tragic demise isn’t a medical documentary: it’s depicted in the context of a cultural and artistic tradition in which a wide range of diseases — whether of the body or of the mind — carried powerful symbolic meanings. Influenced by the legacy of Italian opera as well as by Wagner, Puccini was intimately familiar with the sudden madness of Donizetti’s Lucia of Lammermoor, the innocent sleepwalking of Amina in Bellini’s La Sonnambula, and the mysteriously festering “wound” that torments Amfortas in Parsifal. Susan Sontag, in her landmark deconstruction of the use of “illness as metaphor,” observed that “sickness has a way of making people ‘interesting’ — which is how ‘romantic’ was originally defined.”

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Filed under: opera, Puccini, San Francisco Opera

Harp Head

harp-head

Filed under: photography

Top o’ the World

doze

Filed under: photography

Sublime Salonen from the Seattle Symphony and Jennifer Koh

Jennifer Koh; © Juergen Frank

Jennifer Koh; © Juergen Frank

My latest review:

It’s not unusual for Ludovic Morlot to offer a spirited brief introduction to a particular piece. But at the top of last night’s Seattle Symphony concert, the maestro was eager to elucidate a rationale threading together the motley menu of Samuel Barber, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and a Tchaikovsky warhorse: essentially, the proposition that all three works represented personal responses to periods of challenge or even crisis.

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Filed under: new music, review, Seattle Symphony, Tchaikovsky

Transfiguring the Night: Music of Remembrance

Rehearsal photos by Leo V Santiago photography.

Rehearsal photos by Leo V Santiago photography.

My preview of the upcoming world premiere by choreographer Donald Byrd for Music of Remembrance:

The event that Music of Remembrance (MOR) will commemorate at this Sunday’s fall concert at Benaroya Hall on Sunday, November 9, is a grim one: the 76th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” during which the Nazis fomented a wave of violent pogroms targeting Jews across Germany and the recently annexed Austria and Sudetenland. But MOR’s focus has always been on the triumphant creativity of the human spirit that defies oppression and hatred — against the most terrifying odds.

Launching its 17th season with this Benaroya concert, the organization remembers the work of composers who were silenced by the Holocaust not only by presenting their music but through a vigorous commissioning program showcasing artists of the present. The result has been to build what founder and artistic director Mina Miller calls “ a living bridge between Holocaust artists and artists today.”

The lineup here is especially attractive, featuring the world premiere of Seattle-based choreographer extraordinaire Donald Byrd’s new dances created for Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (“Transfigured Night”).

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Filed under: dance, preview

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