MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Seattle Symphony Names New President and CEO

SSO

By a unanimous vote of its Board of Directors, Seattle Symphony has named Krishna Thiagarajan, currently Chief Executive of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, as its next President and CEO, succeeding Simon Woods, who recently became CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Thiagarajan will start his tenure this September.

From the SSO press release:

Thiagarajan’s track record in his past three leadership positions encompasses strong financial management including balanced budgets and significant growth in both ticket sales and donations. He has also produced numerous acclaimed recordings and several international tours, as well as commissioned new works and created meaningful education programs for students. His past leadership has included strong community and corporate relationships, and a personal emphasis on creating an inclusive organizational culture.

Thiagarajan: “I believe the Seattle Symphony to be among the most innovative orchestras in the United States, having delivered an impressive track record of growth, artistic excellence and strong community presence. In collaboration with this outstanding group of musicians, staff and board, as well as dedicated supporters, I look forward to serving the community of the greater Seattle area as the orchestra becomes an even more prominent cultural ambassador for the Pacific Northwest.”

Thiagarajan replaces former President & CEO Simon Woods who became the CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in January after seven years of exemplary leadership in Seattle.

Complete press release

Filed under: music news, Seattle Symphony

Bye Bye Beethoven

Last night at Zellerbach Hall, Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s remarkable staged concert,Bye Bye Beethoven, opened the Berkeley edition of the programs she just curated for the 2018 Ojai Festival. One of the most creative deconstructions I’ve seen in a while, one that really achieves what it sets out to do: to shake us out of the stupor of the safe concert routine and show us what we’ve been missing.

According to Kopatchinskaja, “the concert routine around the world is so absurd,” continually replaying the same icons “with not very much imagination relevant to our time.” Bye Bye Beethoven dramatizes her concern “about petrified traditions. I don’t think Beethoven would be happy to know that in the future his music would take so much space.”

It’s not iconoclasm—ultimately, a Puritan approach—but rather a wittily inventive transformation of perceptions that motivates Bye Bye Beethoven.

This is the kind of work being done all the time in the visual arts, in poetry, in fiction, in film. Why can’t we have more of it in concert life?

Filed under: Cal Performances, directors, Patricia Kopatchinskaja

Joyce Drama

Revolutionary_Joyce_Better_Contrast

Bloomsday is around the corner, so just in time comes Jack Hitt’s fascinating story in the New York Times magazine: “The Strange Case of the Missing Joyce Scholar,” about the extraordinary case of John Kidd, Ulysses scholar and eccentric who became a literary celebrity in the Joyce Wars in the 1980s and ’90s — and then suddenly vanished.

link to story

Filed under: James Joyce, literary criticism

The “Other” Scandal Concert

Vienna, 31 March 1913 — two months before The Rite of Spring in Paris — Schoenberg programmed two songs from his student Alban Berg’s settings of five Ansichtskartentexte (“Picture-Postcard Texts”) by the poet Peter Altenberg (Nos. 2 and 3).

The rest of the program consisted of Schoenberg’s own Op. 9 Chamber Symphony (in a special version for strings alone); the world premiere of a work by another Schoenberg pupil, Anton Webern’s Pieces for Orchestra (now known as Op. 6); and Maeterlinck Songs by Schoenberg’s own mentor, Alexander von Zemlinsky, with Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder as the final work — except that the Mahler was never performed. A disturbance broke out during the Berg songs, reaching such a point that police were called in. The orchestra gave up and the show did not go on. Incidentally, those two songs last all of three, four minutes…

“One is not wrong in alleging that scenes like the one yesterday have never before happened, neither in Vienna nor certainly any other concert hall in any other cultural city,” the Neues Wiener Tagblatt observed.

Another paper, Die Zeit, even accused the organizer, Schoenberg (who himself had recently had an anomalous success with the premiere of his Gurrelieder), of engaging in vanity programming. It claimed that he “felt obliged to repay his disciples by using his influence to have a performance of their pieces, although he privately thought very little of what they had achieved.”

Fortunately young Alban Berg was at least absent from the concert itself.

Filed under: Alban Berg, music history

Prokofiev’s Stalingrad Sonata

Early in 1943, I received the score of the Seventh Sonata, which I found fascinating and which I learned in just four days…. The work was a huge success. The audience clearly grasped the spirit of the work, which reflected their innermost feelings and concerns. (This was also felt to be the case with Shostakovich’s Seventh Symphony, which dates from more or less the same period.)

With this work we are brutally plunged into the anxiously threatening atmosphere of a world that has lost its balance. Chaos and uncertainty reign. We see murderous forces ahead. But this does not mean that what we lived by before thereby ceases to exist. We continue to feel and love. Now the full range of human emotions bursts forth. Together with our fellow men and women, we raise a voice in protest and share the common grief. We sweep everything before us, borne along by the will for victory. In the tremendous struggle that this involves, we find the strength to affirm the irrepressible life-force.

Sviatoslav Richter, In: Bruno Monsaingeon, “Sviatoslav Richter: Notebooks and Conversations,” trans. Stewart Spencer

Filed under: Prokofiev

Dausgaard and Seattle Symphony Take on an Early Sibelius Epic

84319-1617-concerts-dausgaard-0091-credit-brandon-patoc

photo: Brandon Patoc

My review for Bachtrack of Thomas Dausgaard and the Seattle Symphony in Sibelius’s Kullervo:
On 28 April 1892, when he was only 26, Jean Sibelius unveiled Kullervo to the public. Its triumph established both his career as a composer and his reputation as Finland’s musical bard…

continue reading

Filed under: review, Seattle Symphony, Sibelius, Thomas Dausgaard

Night Scenes from the Ospedale

Enjoying Night Scenes from the Ospedale by Robert Honstein, a project for the amazing Antico Moderno.

Filed under: new music with period instruments, Vivaldi

Sibelius: Kullervo

Today’s listening, preparing for this weekend’s Seattle Symphony program.

Filed under: Seattle Symphony, Sibelius

The Einstein Theory of Relativity 1923 SD

Filed under: miscellaneous

Joana Carneiro to Step Down

carneiro

From Berkeley Symphony comes this news:

Joana Carneiro announces her intent to step down as Music Director of Berkeley Symphony after nine seasons.

Joana Carneiro, whose adventurous artistic vision and leadership has garnered both critical acclaim and audience praise, has announced that she will step down as Berkeley Symphony’s music director as of the end of the 2017-2018 season and after nine seasons at its artistic helm. Carneiro will stay on as Music Director Emerita.

A committee has been formed to seek the next Music Director and to determine the best approach for the future of Berkeley Symphony.

Guest conductors Ming Luke, Jonathon Heyward, Christopher Rountree, and Christian Reif have been scheduled to conduct the four symphonic concerts planned for the 2018-2019 season. Full 2018-2019 season details will be forthcoming.

Under Carneiro’s baton, Berkeley Symphony has commissioned a total of 13 new works and co-commissioned three since 2009. As part of the subscription series, Carneiro has led 14 world premieres with the Symphony, as well as one United States premiere, and 10 West Coast premieres. Through the Symphony’s Under Construction—a new music workshopping program—she has led 41 additional world premieres, solidifying hers and the Symphony’s commitment to supporting the work of living composers and broadening the symphonic repertoire.

During her tenure, Berkeley Symphony’s programmatic offerings grew to include not just mainstage performances and Under Construction—now Berkeley Sounds Composer Fellows—but the launch and growth of the Berkeley Symphony and Friends Chamber Series, and the creation of partnerships with Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) and San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM). In addition, Music in the Schools expanded both in scope and engagement under her oversight, with increases in the number of programs, number of participating schools, and number of students engaged annually.

“We are grateful to Joana for her ability to connect and establish both trust and curiosity from our musicians and our community,” said Symphony Board Chair S. Shariq Yosufzai. “As the Symphony looks ahead to its 50th anniversary season in in 2020-2021, we know that our future is bright because Joana has made an indelible mark.”

Joana Carneiro said: “I love this orchestra and the Berkeley community. I am so proud of what I have been able to accomplish together with this extraordinary organization over the past nine years and look forward to returning to Berkeley soon.”

“Joana has been an inspirational presence on the podium and off,” said Berkeley Symphony Executive Director René Mandel. “Speaking for myself and the entire Berkeley Symphony community, we will miss her dearly, but she will be back, and we so look forward to her return to Berkeley.”

Filed under: conductors, music news

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