MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Emerald City Music’s Spring Online Offerings

Emerald City Music has announced a series of concerts and musical events through May. Every month features a new cast of musicians who perform, share about their craft, and provide insights into the music they perform. The series is filmed in collaboration with two New York City-based filmmakers, Tristan Cook and Zac Nicholson, who bring their own artistic merits to this unique experience of chamber music. 

All concerts will be available on Emerald City Music’s website and Vimeo platform for one month;  at which point the next performance premieres. Listeners have a choice of how to gain access: pay for each performance for $20 (which supports future listening experiences) or share it on social media to gain free access. 

Currently in rotation: The Calidore String Quartet pairs two quartets recently recorded for their newest album, Babel. These two works by Robert Schumann and Dmitri Shostakovich stem from bleak periods when each composer suffered, and overcame, depression. Their music transmits what occurs when music substitutes for language. In the case of Shostakovich, words aren’t enough to fill the void of forbidden speech. Schumann uses music to sing the name of his wife, Clara.

Filed under: chamber music, music news

Multi-cultural Odes: Jessie Montgomery in Profile

Here’s my latest story for Strings magazine:

An unmistakable harmony holds sway in Jessie Montgomery’s creative work. Her attunement to larger cultural contexts is eloquent and persuasive. Take Banner, Montgomery’s contribution to the tributes marking the U.S. National Anthem’s bicentennial in 2014. A compact, powerful piece for string quartet and string (or chamber) orchestra, Banner confronts what she calls “the contradictions, leaps and bounds, and milestones that allow us to celebrate and maintain the tradition of our ideals”…

continue

Filed under: American music, Strings

Damien Geter’s Cantata for A More Hopeful Tomorrow

Following the premiere of Damian Geter‘s short film Cantata for A More Hopeful Tomorrow last November, The Washington Chorus has now made the audio recording available to download and/or stream via multiple platforms. 

The Washington Chorus is among the first choirs in the country to release a recording that was produced 100% remotely – all choral singers along with guest soloists Aundi Marie Moore (soprano) and Seth Parker Woods (cello) recorded their parts from home during the pandemic. Complete list of streaming platforms.

Influenced by stories of hope and the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on the Black community, The Washington Chorus and Artistic Director Dr. Eugene Rogers commissioned composer Damien Geter and Emmy award-winning filmmaker Bob Berg both from Portland, Oregon, to produce a short music film that premiered in November 2020. The work features soprano Aundi Marie Moore, cellist Seth Parker Woods, and over 100 singers of The Washington Chorus.

“It was important for The Washington Chorus to step forward with musical space for reflection, healing, and hope amidst the COVID-19 global health pandemic and America’s long overdue reckoning with historic racial injustices,” says Stephen Beaudoin, TWC Executive Director.

Filed under: American music, choral music

From Easter Island, a Pianist Emerges

Here’s my latest story for The New York Times. Deeply grateful to Mahani Teave for sharing her story, as well as to David Fulton, John Forsen, Gayle Podrabsky, and Elizabeth Dworkin for their generous insights.

“From her home, halfway up the highest hill on Rapa Nui, Mahani Teave was describing the power of nature there to overwhelm….”

continue

Filed under: New York Times, pianists

RIP Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-2021)

Poetry as an “insurgent art,” the poet as storyteller, as painter: the many-faceted artist Lawrence Ferlinghetti has died at the age of 101 in his beloved San Francisco.

As a young man freshly armed with a comparative literature doctorate from Paris, Ferlinghetti arrived in San Francisco in 1951. He resembled, in his words, “the last of the bohemians rather than the first of the Beats.” See the New York Times assessment here, which adds: “San Francisco remained close to his heart as well, especially North Beach, the traditionally Italian-American neighborhood where he lived for most of his adult life” — and where he joined with Peter Martin to open the City Lights Pocket Book Shop in 1953 (each invested just $500).

“City Lights quickly became the hangout of choice for the city’s radical intelligentsia, particularly Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso and the rest of the Beats,” writes Emma Brown in The Washington Post. “The doors stayed open until midnight weekdays and 2 a.m. weekends, and even then it was hard to close on time. From its earliest years, it stocked gay and lesbian publications.”

A brave opponent of censorship and a pioneer of independent publishing, Ferlinghetti sustained his credo about art’s potential to change our world (as quoted in NPR’s appreciation): “I really believe that art is capable of the total transformation of the world, and of life itself. And nothing less is really acceptable. So I mean if art is going to have any excuse for — beyond being a leisure-class plaything — it has to transform life itself.”

He also said: “Everyone is a poet at 16, but how many are poets at 50? Generally, people seem to get more conservative as they age, but in my case, I seem to have gotten more radical, Poetry must be capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this means sounding apocalyptic.”

Here’s a group of photos taken outside City Lights showing an impromptu memorial on Tuesday.

Filed under: poetry

Stringing and Singing

Attention choral music fans: on Saturday evening 20 February at 5pm PST Seattle Pro Musica, led by Karen Thomas, will inaugurate the series Choral Tapas: Bite-Size Concerts online at youtube.com/seattlepromusica. Broadcasts available for free, donations welcome. No registration required.
Each episode features two choral works (one old, one new), an appetizer demo by Erica Weisman (both a very fine SPM alto and the chef and co-owner of Seattle Cucina Cooking School), and a cocktail recipe by SPM Executive Director and cocktail aficionado Katie Skovholt. Recipes are available here so you can “play along”: Patas Bravas snackRestless Amadeus cocktail
The inaugural event on February 20th features music by Marques Garrett and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

And the Orchestra Now, directed by James Bagwell, will offer a free livestreamed concert on Sunday, 21 Feb. (2pm EST). This program of works for strings includes the world premiere of Falling Together by composer Sarah Hennies, who was recently profiled in The New York Times; and the 2005 piece Popcorn Superhet Receiver by Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood, which was used in the film There Will Be Blood. The program also includes Grieg’s Holberg Suite and Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams.

Access: RSVP at theorchestranow.org starting on January 27 to receive a direct link to the livestream on the day of the concert. This concert will be available for delayed streaming on STAY TŌNED starting on February 25.

AND

On Sunday February 21 at 7pm PST, Byron Schenkman & Friends presents Piano Songs and Fantasies: music by Mozart, Teresa Carreño, Florence Price, Johannes Brahms, Margaret Bonds, Water Hale Smith, and Franz Schubert. William Chapman Nyaho, Joseph Williams, and Byron Schenkman will perform.

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, music news, Seattle Pro Musica

Beethoven in China

My colleague Rudolph Tang has created a film about the reception of Beethoven in the People’s Republic of China featuring an interview with conductor Liang Zhang, whose new Beethoven symphony cycle is the fourth recording of the complete symphonies to be made by musicians from Mainland China.

The documentary is available for free viewing until Friday here.

Filed under: Beethoven, classical music in Mainland China, conductors

Hannah Kendall Returns to Seattle Symphony

My latest story for The Seattle Times:

Two of the most famous names in the classical canon — Beethoven and Ravel — appear on the program for Seattle Symphony’s upcoming livestream on Feb. 25. But the concert’s opening work was written by a composer, currently 36 years old, whose boldly individual, exquisitely crafted music sounds completely at home in their company…

continue

And some excerpts that got cut from the published version:

 In addition to her orchestral music, Jonathon Heywqrd conducted the Royal Opera House production of “The Knife of Dawn” and has been entrusted with the premiere of her opera-in-progress “Tan-Tan and Dry Bone.” The new opera is based on an Afrofuturist story and is being written for the experimental vocalist and movement artist Elaine Michener.  

Heyward points out that Kendall’s gifts as a storyteller echo Ravel and his ability in the Mother Goose Suite “to encapsulate vivid worlds through texture.” With Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, which will feature Seattle favorite Conrad Tao as the soloist, he emphasizes the role of the very short slow movement and its powerful contrast with “this gargantuan first movement and jubilant finale.The sense of stillness, of time stopping here, is another thing that Hannah does amazingly in her work.”

Filed under: Hannah Kendall, new music, Seattle Symphony

Yuja Wang in Conversation with Michael Haefliger

New from Lucerne Festival:

Filed under: Lucerne Festival, pianists

Winter Festival: Seattle Chamber Music Society

Week 2 of Seattle Chamber Music Society’s 2021 Winter Festival continues on Saturday with a program of Schumann, Sibelius, Massenet, and Prokofiev. And since the performance is streamed online, no worries about how the coming winter storm will shape up.

Every concert is available to stream on demand from its release through March 15. Subscriptions for all 6 concerts are $100.

Filed under: chamber music, Seattle Chamber Music Society

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

RSS Arts & Culture Stories from NPR