MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Getting to Carnegie

This afternoon at 5pm ET, tune in to the Violin Channel for the final round of the 7th annual Getting to Carnegie competition. It will be streamed live and audiences across the globe can cast their vote for the winner (after registering to vote): 50% of the vote comes from the audience, the other half from a jury of professional musicians including the past six winners (Haeji Kim, violin; Chae won Hong, cello; Emily Helenbrook, voice; Nathan Meltzer, violin; Rachel Siu, cello; Brianna Robinson, voice) and violinist Dmitri Berlinsky. The voting will be open for 48 hours and the winner will be announced Jan 14 at 5pm EST on the Violin Channel’s Facebook page.

The competition rotates annually between violin, cello, and voice. This is the year of the violin, and the four young finalists are from Spain, South Korea, Hong Kong, and the United States, respectively: Maria Dueñas (age 18), Sory Park (20), Angela Chan (23), and Sophia Stoyanovich (24).

The competition is the brainchild of pianist and composer Julian Gargiulo, whose mission is to make classical music “relevant and fun” for younger generations. For this year’s final round, Gargiulo has written a new violin sonata; each finalist will perform one movement from the sonata with him on piano via split screen, giving its world premiere performance, with commentary and interviews in between.

Filed under: competitions, music news

Simon Rattle Will Go Back to Germany

In the middle of these turbulent days, there is some major classical music news: Sir Simon Rattle is stepping down from his post heading the London Symphony Orchestra and will return to Germany to lead the  Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, effective with the 2023-24 season. (See clip above for an example of his collaboration with the BRSO.)

The official statement released from the LSO gives this explanation from Rattle: “My reasons for accepting the role of Chief Conductor in Munich are entirely personal, enabling me to better manage the balance of my work and be close enough to home to be present for my children in a meaningful way. I love the London Symphony Orchestra. I remain committed to the LSO, and we have plans for major projects in the coming years. I am thrilled that we will be making music together far into the future.”

But as Joshua Barone notes in The New York Times, Rattle “has been a vocal critic of Brexit, which was voted on after he accepted the London Symphony post in 2015. And progress has been sluggish on the Center for Music, the much-desired new home for the orchestra that was conceived alongside Mr. Rattle’s appointment.”

Barone adds: “In Munich, Mr. Rattle won’t have to contend with those Brexit woes, but he will once again find himself involved in the building of a new concert hall, in the Werksviertel-Mitte area — a modern contrast to the neo-Classical Herkulessaal in the city center. “

Filed under: conductors, music news

Metamorphosis by Third Coast Percussion

Grammy Award-winning Third Coast Percussion (TCP) presents a re-broadcast of the world premiere performance of  Metamorphosis, originally presented by La Jolla Music Society at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center on November 7, 2020. The stream is being made available free-of-charge on Friday, 8 January 2020 at 8:30 p.m. ET via TCP’s YouTube channel

Metamorphosis offers a dynamic artistic collaboration by blending street dance and percussion ensemble performance. Choreography by Movement Art Is co-founders Jon Boogz and Lil Buck is featured alongside new music composed by Jlin and Tyondai Braxton and TCP’s acclaimed arrangements of Philip Glass’s Aguas da Amazonia. Movement artists Ron Myles and Quentin Robinson joined TCP members on stage for the debut of this program, which had been in the making for more than a year.

Program:

Philip Glass (arr. by Third Coast Percussion) – Metamorphosis
Jlin – Perspective
Tyondai Braxton – Sunny X
Philip Glass (arr. by Third Coast Percussion) – Amazon River

Movement by Ron Myles and Quentin Robinson
Choreography by Movement Art Is (Jon Boogz and Lil Buck)
Lighting design by Joe Burke
Stage direction by Leslie Buxbaum Danzig

Filed under: music news, Philip Glass, Third Coast Percussion

Joseph C. Phillips Jr.’s The Grey Land

Recently released on New Amsterdam Records and performed by his ensemble Numinous, The Grey Land is a “mono-opera” by Joseph C. Phillips Jr. to a libretto by the composer. It tells the story of, in his words, “a Black mother trying to survive the reality in this land that doesn’t fully see her continued hope: that the great American experiment will one day become a belonging place where anyone can dream of ‘stillness and stars’ free from fear and want; a place where the beautiful promise of happiness, liberty, and life may yet manifest true to finally include her family too.”

Phillips, who started work on The Grey Land in 2011, incorporates texts from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Isaac Butler, Frederick Douglas, and Mothers of the Movement (founded to fight police and gun violence in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder and the acquittal of George Zimmermann).

The birth of his first child in 2014 inspired him to focus on the opera, as Phillips recalls: “I was already deep into researching and thinking about what the opera was going to be when the events of Ferguson, Missouri, happened in that beautiful summer of nesting in upstate New York. My conflicting emotions—joy of anticipation married to the anxiety about the world our future child would inhabit—moved me to want to more directly address the systemic issues long plaguing the U.S., particularly for Black and Brown people.”

Phillips uses the term “mixed music” to characterize his style: “Mixed music is an organic fusing of various elements from many different influences forming compositions that are personal, different, and new.”

TRACKLIST:
1. The People Get Tired of Dying
2. Ferguson: Summer of 2014
3. Tender Sorrow
4. One Side Losing Slowly
5. We Wear the Mask
6. Don’t
7. Agnus Bey
8. Legion of Boom
9. I Should Have Been Mother****ing Black Mamba
10. Injustice
11. Liberty Bell
12. The Sunken Place
13. Streets of Sighs

CREDITS:
THE GREY LAND
by Joseph C Phillips Jr

Soprano (Mother) – Rebecca L Hargrove
Narrator (Son) – Kenneth Browning

Numinous:
Katie Cox – Flute, Piccolo
Sammy Lesnick – Bb Clarinet, Eb Clarinet
Chris Bacas – Alto Saxophone
Sara Schoenbeck – Bassoon
Alicia Rau – Trumpet, Flügelhorn
Lis Rubard – Horn
JC Sanford – Trombone
Amanda Monaco – Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Mike Baggetta – Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Sebastian Noelle – Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Magdalena Abrego – Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Deanna Witkowski – Yamaha Electric Piano
Andrea Lodge – Rhodes Electric Piano
Kate Sloat – Harp
Aubrey Johnson – Voice
Tammy Scheffer – Voice, Bells
Sara Serpa – Voice
Bogna Kicińska – Voice, Bells
Emilie Weibel – Voice, Bells
Amy Cervini – Voice, Bells
Ana Milosavljevic – Violin, Viper/Electric Violin solo (“…Black Mamba”)
Josh Henderson – Violin
Frederika Krier – Violin
Libby Weitnauer – Violin
Hannah Levinson – Viola
Brian Lindgren – Viola
Matt Aronoff – Electric Bass
Mariel Roberts – Cello Solo (“Tender Sorrow”)
Joseph C Phillips Jr – Composer/Conductor/Bells/Co-Producer
Oded Lev-Ari – Bells/Co-Producer
Michael Hammond – Electronics/Drum Programming (“…Black Mamba”)
Joseph C Phillips Jr – Electronics/Audio Collage (“One Side Losing Slowly” & “The Sunken Place”)


Filed under: African-American musicians, new opera, new release

Listening to the Future from Central Conservatory of Music

Here’s a new documentary from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing (CCOM) and just premiered on Violin Channel’s YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Titled Listening to the Future, it chronicles the Carnegie Hall debut of the CCOM Symphony Orchestra on 13 December 2019. Led by CCOM president Feng Yu, the program presented works by contemporary Chinese composers blending Chinese and Western instruments.

The documentary focuses on these eight composers —  Danbu Chen, Guoping Jia, Jianping Tang, Ping Chang, Weiya Hao, Wenchen Qin, Wenjing Guo, and Xiaogang Yealong — who discuss their pieces and share their thoughts on contemporary Chinese music. Commentary by the music critic Linda Holt assesses their achievements.

Other highlights of the film include details of the long-term partnership between Edition Peters and Central Conservatory of Music Publisher (CCMP). Together, they launched the Edition Peters Silk Road Library project in April 2019 and plan to release the international version of CCOM’s score collection in 2021. The result will make it easier for orchestras, conductors, and performers to present the works of Chinese composers outside China and forge unprecedented links between East and West.

Another topic the documentary covers is the Chinese Music Composition Center’s upcoming performance tour in Europe in 2021. Comprised of musicians from the symphony orchestras of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (MDW) and the Central Conservatory of Music, the ensemble will perform at the Grosser Saal of the Vienna Konzerthaus and Festsaal. Ulrike Sych, Rector of the MDW, explains the long and intensive collaboration between MDW and CCOM, two of the largest and most renowned music universities on opposite sides of the world.

Filed under: Central Conservatory of Music, music news

New from Byron Schenkman & Friends

Tune in for Bach & Baroque Virtuosity from Byron Schenkman & Friends on Sunday, 27 December (7:00pm PST). The concert features Rachell Ellen Wong, Andrew Gonzalez, and Byron Schenkman and will remain available for the foreseeable future on the BS&F YouTube channel.

For this concert harpsichordist Byron Schenkman is joined by violinist Rachell Ellen Wong and violoncello da spalla (“cello of the shoulder,” an unusual Baroque instrument rediscovered in recent years) player Andrew Gonzalez. The program journeys through music by Antonio Vivaldi,; Jean-Marie Leclair; Johann Sebastian Bach (the Partita in D Minor, which includes the famous Chaconne); and Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, who was one of the most-celebrated French composers of her time. In addition to music for violin and harpsichord we offer a rare opportunity to hear the violoncello da spalla (cello of the shoulder), an unusual Baroque instrument only rediscovered in recent years.

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, early music, music news, Uncategorized

Oxford Vaccine Tribute Concert

The Oxford Philharmonic  has filmed a tribute concert in recognition of the work by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca scientists on their new COVID-19 vaccine. The concert will be broadcast on the Oxford Philharmonic’s YouTube channel on Friday, 18 December at 6:30 PM GMT (1:30 PM EST), recorded in the city’s historic Sheldonian Theatre, and will stay online afterwards indefinitely.

The program features the world premiere of John Rutter’s Joseph’s Carol, written in tribute to the Oxford Vaccine Group, the Jenner Institute, and the RECOVERY team. The words, also by Rutter, recount the long and weary journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem before the birth of baby Jesus, echoing the program’s journey from struggle to hope. 

Bryn Terfel also joins the Orchestra and the Choir of Merton College, Oxford, in a program that ranges from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s You’ll Never Walk Alone (with Jette Parker Young Artist Alexandra Lowe) to Handel’s “Hallelujah” Chorus. Sir Bryn and the Orchestra are also joined in the hymn of comfort, Abide with Me, by chorister Alexander Olleson of Christ Church Cathedral Choir—winner of the BBC Young Chorister of the Year 2020. Joining the Orchestra from Russia and Germany respectively, world-renowned virtuoso violinists Maxim Vengerov (performing the Adagio from Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001) and Anne-Sophie Mutter offer their own special tributes to the program.

“I am delighted to have been invited to contribute to this celebration, which expresses in music the gratitude we all feel in our hearts,” says John Rutter. “As always, music goes beyond words.”

Marios Papadopoulos, Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director, remarks:
“We are extremely grateful to the researchers, medical staff and volunteers based at the University of Oxford for their tireless work in the search for treatment and a vaccine for COVID-19. As the Orchestra in Residence at the University, we offer this concert in celebration of their recently announced achievements and are thrilled to be joined in our message of thanks by a stellar line-up of classical musicians with whom we have worked with closely in the past.”

The concert, introduced by Classic FM presenter John Suchet, will be interspersed with footage from the lab and trials of the treatment and vaccine process, as well as interviews with performers, researchers, and special messages from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Professor Louise Richardson, as well as from the Orchestra’s Royal Patron, HRH Princess Alexandra. 

Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology and project lead for the Oxford Vaccine Trial: “On behalf of the COVID-19 vaccine trial team, I would like to thank the Oxford Philharmonic for this creative approach to celebrating our work, and look forward to the performance which should provide some welcome respite from the difficulties we have all faced this year.” 

Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group and chief investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial, Professor Andrew Pollard: “We are delighted that the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra has decided to pay tribute to the remarkable and dedicated team of inspiring individuals, at the University and Hospital, who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to assess the Oxford vaccine and show that it can protect people from the pandemic virus.We would also like to dedicate the moment to all those who came forward to take part in the trials during this uncertain time, to help in the assessment of the vaccine.” 

Filed under: COVID-19 Era, music news

Beethoven Marathon with Yael Weiss

To mark the occasion, pianist Yael Weiss presents an all-day live marathon here, with guests from around the world, including conversations and performances of Beethoven and newly commissioned works written for the project 32 Bright Clouds: Beethoven Conversations Around the World.

PROGRAM

9am
Beethoven and the Global Aspiration for Peace:
Yael Weiss and the 32 Bright Clouds Project

10am
World Premiere:
A conversation with composer Alfred Wong from Hong Kong
and the world premiere performance of his piece Passion
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no. 23 “Appassionata”).

10:30am
The Moonlight Sonata and Social Justice:
A conversation with Indonesian composer Ananda Sukarlan
and performance of his piece No More Moonlight Over Jakarta
(connected to Beethoven’s Sonata No. 14 “Moonlight”).

11am
Beethoven in Myanmar:
A conversation with composer Ne Myo Aung,
a performance of his new piece Moha
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 21 “Waldstein”)
and a discussion of the Burmese Sandaya piano style.

12pm
A Lullaby for Beethoven:
A conversation with Turkish composer Aslihan Keçebaşoğlu
and a performance of her piece Ninni
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 Op. 101).

1pm
African Rituals and Dedications:
A conversation with South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen
and a performance of his work
Isiko: An African Ritual for Ancestral Intercession
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no. 29 “Hammerklavier”)

2pm
Beethoven and a World Unheard:
A conversation with composer Sidney Boquiren from the Philippines
and a performance of his piece Unheard Voices
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 7 Op. 10 No. 3)

3pm
Painting Beethoven in Afghanistan:
A conversation with composer, calligrapher and painter
Milad Yousufi from Afghanistan
and a performance of his work Willow
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no. 8 “Pathetique”)

3:30pm
New from Guatemala:
A conversation with composer Xavier Beteta about his upcoming
new work for the 32 Bright Clouds project Noche Profunda
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no. 5 Op.10 no. 1)

4pm
Recordings of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, and a Bagatelles project:
A conversation with music writer, composer and critic Jed Distler
and performances of his Bagatelles

5pm
World Premiere:

A conversation with composer Bosba about music in Cambodia
and a world premiere performance of her work
Sovannaphum: Kosal’s Lament
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 11 Op. 22)

6pm
After Beethoven, from Iran:
A conversation with Iranian composer Aida Shirazi
and a performance of her piece Aprés
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no. 26 “Les Adieux”)

7pm
New from Colombia:
A conversation with composer Carolina Noguera-Palau about her upcoming
new work for the 32 Bright Clouds project, De Adoración Y Espanto
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no. 31, Op. 110)

7:30pm
Demonstrating for Peace:
A conversation with Venezuelan composer Adina Izarra
and a performance of her piece Arietta for the 150
(connected to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 32 Op. 111)

8pm
Closing remarks and Beethoven’s final piano Sonata no. 32 in c minor, Op. 111

Filed under: Beethoven, commissions, piano

This Is Beethoven

The film “ordinary grief / the people to come” from zoe | juniper will premiere at the This Is Beethoven festival. (Juniper Shuey)

My Seattle Times story on This Is Beethoven, Seattle’s citywide digital festival that will take place from 16 to 19 December.

Milestone anniversaries are supposed to be predictable events.

And since no figure in the classical music firmament looms as large as Ludwig van Beethoven, the classical music world was counting on the composer’s 250th birthday this year as a major selling point. But coronavirus started wreaking its havoc, and countless Beethoven-related events had to be scuttled — or adapted on the fly to constraints no one could have predicted….

continue

Filed under: Beethoven, Seattle Times

Seattle Pro Musica Offers Comfort and Joy

Fire up Seattle Pro Musica’s YouTube page and be treated to some Comfort and Joy on 12 and 13 December at 7:30pm and 4:00pm PST, respectively. Each concert will include an accompanying live chat.

This virtual-concert format is a first for Seattle Pro Musica. Comfort and Joy features over 60 singers who were recorded individually in their homes, the results being blended together by SPM’s expert musicians.

Seattle Pro Musica is one of my very favorite choral organizations, and artistic director, composer, and conductor Karen P. Thomas has put together a characteristically thoughtful, artful program combining traditional carols with some lesser-known pieces and a new work by the American composer Marques L. A. Garrett: My Heart Be Brave, a 2018 composition setting poetry by James Weldon Johnson that is intended as an ode to social justice.

Also on the program: Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on Christmas Carols and Fantasia on Greensleeves; Gustav Holst’s In the Bleak Midwinter in an arrangement by Karen Thomas; 16th-century Spanish composer Matheo Flecha’s Ríu, ríu, chíu; Star of Wonder by Terre Roche of the Roche Sisters; Rachmaninoff’s Bogoroditse Devo (from All-Night Vigil ); Ding! dong! Merrily on High by Thoinot Arbeau (born Jehan Tabourot; France, 1520–1595); Gloucestershire Wassail; and Franz Xaver Grüber’s Silent Night.

Comfort and Joy will close with a holiday carol sing-along led by conductor Karen P. Thomas and featuring Seattle Pro Musica singers, with Dwight Beckmeyer at the keyboard.

Also note: Seattle Pro Musica is one of the 17 Seattle-based performing arts organizations participating in the virtual This Is Beethoven Festival (16-19 December) and can be heard on the program of Thursday night, 17 December (8-10pm PST). It’s a neat program juxtaposing three composers who, like Beethoven, were overtaken by deafness in their later years: including Ethel Smyth. She is represented by her March of the Women (1911), which became an anthem of the women’s suffrage movement.

Filed under: choral music, Christmas, Seattle Pro Musica

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