MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Hip To Be HIP

This was one of my favorite projects to research in 2018 — and one of many assignments that helped me to keep my sanity during a dark year.

MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Cracked Orlando Enraged Alcina (Jacqueline Horner-Kwiatek, mezzo-soprano) casts a curse on the love of Angelica (Sharon Harms, soprano) and Medoro (Brian Jeffers, tenor); from Jonathan Dawe’s Cracked Orlando: dramma per musica e fractals at Juilliard, 2017; photo by Nanette Melville

My story on the creative connections between early music performers and contemporary composers is the current cover story in Early Music America Magazine‘s fall 2018 issue:

When early and new music intersect, alliances are opening up a sense of fresh potential for both sides …

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Filed under: early music, new music

Revolution No. 9

I was considerably more optimistic when I wrote this two years ago. It’s going to be a while before I can attend a performance of the Ninth again.

MEMETERIA by Thomas May

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It was premiered almost two centuries ago. And Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 still feels as urgently needed today as ever.

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Filed under: Beethoven

RIP Amos Oz (1939-2018)

The literary giant and peace activist has died at 79 — another terrible loss of 2018.

Filed under: literature

A Fuller Monty: Christmas Vespers by Monteverdi

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David Fallis and colleagues

Early Music Seattle presented this remarkable concert over the weekend: and it was just what the doctor ordered in these jaded times.

Even if he hadn’t composed a single opera, Claudio Monteverdi would still belong to the greatest of the great for his achievements as a master of sacred music. His Vespro della Beata Vergine, published in 1610, is hailed as a landmark of the literature – and is the work instantly conjured whenever you hear the phrase “the Monteverdi Vespers.” But it was an altogether different setting of the Vespers service that Early Music Seattle presented at this concert, the most recent installment in the ongoing Northwest Baroque Masterworks Project.

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Filed under: Monteverdi, review

Kinan Azmeh and His CityBand

My piece for Boulez Saal on Kinan Azmeh as he completes an incredibly creative year with stops with his CityBand and friends in Berlin and Amsterdam:

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Filed under: Kinan Azmeh, Pierre Boulez Saal

Predictably Unpredictable: John Harbison at 80

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Here’s my profile of John Harbison for this month’s Strings magazine:

From large-scale works for the opera house and concert hall to intimate violin solos, John Harbison has created an abundant catalogue of music that engages in an extraordinary dialogue between past and present. His compositions are typically atypical, as he continually seeks out fresh angles through which to reconsider the traditional forms, models, and styles that inspire him. Whether his references are Henry Purcell, J.S. Bach, Stravinsky, or the idioms of jazz, the result never comes across as a facile eclecticism. Rather, these are threads of a rigorously crafted language he has made into his own.

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Filed under: John Harbison, profile, Strings

Nydia

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Randolph Rogers: Nydia, sculpture inspired by Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Last Days of Pompeii

Filed under: photography

At BAM: An Early Turnage Opera Still Packs a Punch

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Photo: Richard Termine


My Musical America review of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s debut opera Greek, given its belated New York premiere at BAM in a visiting production directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins:

NEW YORK–Raw rage and political engagement were the driving forces behind Mark-Anthony Turnage’s debut opera Greek. Familiar enough for a young artist just setting out, such motivations can make a powerful initial impact but tend to give the art they inspire a rapidly expiring shelf-life. And yet Greek has not staled in the three decades since its premiere.

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Filed under: Mark-Anthony Turnage, Musical America, review

Plaudits

IMG_0080Gianni Schicchi accepts the applause.

Filed under: photography

John Adams on the Yin and Yang of His Musical Life

My story for the Juilliard Journal on John Adams as he returns to conduct the Juilliard Orchestra next week at Alice Tully Hall. Program details here.

“What does it take to move us from our customary place?” John Adams asked in his commencement speech to the Juilliard class of 2011. “That is what we want when we confront a work of art, whether it’s a completely new creation or an impassioned performance of a masterwork from the past.” The acclaimed composer returns to Juilliard December 10—this time to conduct the Juilliard Orchestra in a program that pairs the Brahms Fourth Symphony with two 21st-century pieces: Ciel d’hiver by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and Adams’ own Doctor Atomic Symphony.

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Filed under: Brahms, conductors, John Adams

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