MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Happy Birthday, Philip Glass

Already a year beyond the Big 8-0!

Filed under: Philip Glass

Jennifer Higdon’s Latest Grammy

Warmest congratulations to Jennifer Higdon for winning the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Classical Composition for her Viola Concerto, written for Roberto Díaz. I had the privilege of writing the liner notes for this recording, which also garnered Nashville Symphony under Giancarlo Guerrero a Best Classical Compendium Grammy.

And here’s my profile of Jennifer Higdon from last spring for Strings magazine:

Jennifer Higdon is not only stunningly prolific but one of the most-performed American composers at work today…

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Filed under: awards, Jennifer Higdon

Thomas Dausgaard and Seattle Symphony in an All-Brahms Concert

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Thomas Dausgaard conducts the Seattle Symphony in a Brahms program at Benaroya Hall. (Brandon Patoc)

My review of last night’s program for The Seattle Times:

For a glimpse of the music of the future in Seattle, head down to Benaroya Hall this weekend to experience Thomas Dausgaard in action….

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Filed under: Brahms, review, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times, Thomas Dausgaard

Gottfried von Einem at 100

Gottfried von Einem was born exactly 100 years ago today. Boosey & Hawkes has a useful introduction: Einem at 100 

Also from Boosey & Hawkes:
Gottfried von Einem was son of a military attaché and educated abroad in Germany and England * Studied composition with Boris Blacher in Berlin * First ballet, Princess Turandot, won him post of composer to the Dresden State Opera * Radical use of jazz elements in the Concerto for Orchestra led to conflict with the Nazi authorities * After the war, closely associated with the rejuvenation of the Salzburg Festival * Operas, including Dantons Tod, Der Prozess, Der Zerrissene and Der Besuch der alten Dame, soon brought recognition as Austria’s leading composer, and rapidly attracted international performances * Orchestral music conducted by the twentieth century’s leading maestros including Karajan, Furtwängler, Böhm, Ormandy, Sawallisch, Giulini, Dohnányi, Ozawa and Mehta.

Gottfried von Einem believed that it is only possible to experience the unexpected as new when it is presented against the background of music which seems familiar to a listener. If exclusively new elements are employed, this leads to a dulling of receptiveness to what is new and may even result in boredom. And to be boring – according to Gottfried von Einem – is the greatest sin an artist can commit. All his life, Gottfried von Einem knew how to avoid and avert this transgression. –Harald Kunz, 1998

New York Times: “Saving Konrad Latte”

profile by Tobias Sedlmaier (in German)

Filed under: anniversary, Gottfried von Einem

Simone Dinnerstein: Glass + Schubert

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Sorry not to be in town to be able to attend Simone Dinnerstein’s program tonight at Miller Theatre. She talks about her thinking behind this pairing of Glass and Schubert in my essay for the program:

Affinities and Alliances: Simone Dinnerstein Performs Glass + Schubert

By happy coincidence, this month ends with a double birthday: January 31 is the day on which Philip Glass and Franz Schubert were born. And while, chronologically speaking, 140 years separate the two composers, the affinities between them are striking. Glass grew up surrounded by classical music in heavy rotation in his father’s record store in Baltimore and found himself drawn to Schubert in particular.
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Filed under: Philip Glass, piano, Schubert, Simone Dinnerstein

Prokofiev Festival

Coming up at Seattle Symphony, in two parts, conducted by Pablo Rus Broseta:
Part One: Piano Concertos 1 and 2, Violin Concerto 1
Part Two: Piano Concerto 3, Violin Concerto 2, Symphony 1 (“Classique”)

No, Yuja Wang is not taking part — I couldn’t find a video of Conrad Tao in PC 2, which is what I’m most looking forward to.

Filed under: Prokofiev, Seattle Symphony

Seattle under Construction

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Filed under: photography, Uncategorized

Meet the Flintstones

Remarkable work by Ilan Rechtman. I need to find out more about him.

Filed under: miscellaneous, piano

Stefan Jackiw Portrait

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Stefan Jackiw. Photo by Sophie Zhai

My profile of the violinist Stefan Jackiw is on the cover of Strings magazine’s February 2018 issue — and available online:

A sense of modesty may seem incompatible with the drive required to remain successful in the highly competitive realm of classical performance. Yet violinist Stefan Jackiw has made it central to his artistic credo..

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Filed under: profile, Strings, violinists

Igor Levit Is the 2018 Gilmore Artist

Igor Levit

Congratulations to Igor Levit for winning the 2018 Gilmore Artist Award, a distinction conferred to recognize “extraordinary piano artistry with some of the most generous financial support given in the musical arts. The $300,000 award is conferred every four years to an international pianist of any age and nationality following a rigorous and confidential selection process.”

The Gilmore Artist Award “is made through a non-competitive process. Pianists are nominated by a large and diverse group of international music professionals.” Past recipients include Rafał Blechacz (2014), Kirill Gerstein (2010), Ingrid Fliter (2006), Piotr Anderszewski (2002), Leif Ove Andsnes (1998), Ralf Gothóni (1994), and David Owen Norris (1991).

I met Levit when the Republican presidential primaries were still in progress and the idea of Donald Trump winning the election seemed absurd, but even then I recall his very serious concern about the awful possibility. As Michael Cooper puts it in this first-rate New York Times profile, Levit “has stood out by emerging as the de facto pianist of the resistance.”

My profile of Levit for Steinway & Sons from 2016:

It’s early February, over lunch before his Seattle debut later in the evening, and Igor Levit can’t stop talking about how thrilled he is to be touring the United States.”

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Filed under: music news, pianists

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