MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Lucerne’s 2019 Summer Festival Opening: Livestreamed

You don’t have to be in Lucerne to listen to the Opening Concert of the 2019 Summer Festival tomorrow (16 August). The program will be live-streamed KKL Concert Hall by arte here at 18:50 Swiss time. SRF 1 will also broadcast the concert with a time delay (22.25 Swiss time) and on arte concert (18.50 Swiss time).

Riccardo Chailly will lead the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in an all-Rachmaninoff program: the Third Piano Concerto (with Denis Matsuev as the soloist); Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14 (orchestral version); and the Third Symphony.

 

Filed under: Lucerne Festival, Rachmaninoff

An Enescu Discovery

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My latest piece for STRINGS magazine is on the very belated US premiere of an early string trio by George Enescu:

Fellow musicians — especially string players — have resorted to some striking superlatives to characterize George Enescu (1881–1955). Pablo Casals, a frequent chamber partner, once remarked that since Mozart, there had been no greater musical phenomenon, while Enescu’s student Yehudi Menuhin believed the Op. 25 Third Sonata (“dans le caractère populaire roumain”) represented “the greatest achievement of musical notation” he had ever known…

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Filed under: chamber music, George Enescu, Seattle Chamber Music Society, Strings

Timelessly Timely: A Dark and Damning Rigoletto at Seattle Opera

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Madison Leonard (Gilda) and Lester Lynch (Rigoletto); (c) Sunny Martini

Seattle Opera has just launched its new season under incoming General Director Christina Scheppelmann with a new Rigoletto production. Here’s my review:

Recounting one of the bleakest, cruelest narratives in the core repertoire, Rigoletto depicts a noirish world of sexual predation, misogyny, despotism, revenge, murder, and… horrifically bad luck. Should all this be approached as timeless tragedy, timely social commentary – or merely as a guilty pleasure akin to consuming a thriller?

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Filed under: directors, review, Seattle Opera, Verdi

John Luther Adams and JACK Break New Ground at Tippet Rise

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John Luther Adams (center) with the JACk Quartet: John Pickford Richards, Austin Wulliman, Christopher Otto, and Jay Campbell (left to right)
Credit: Zackary Patten 

Last weekend, at Tippet Rise Art Center, I got to experience the brilliant JACK Quartet give the world premiere of Lines Made by Walking, the latest string quartet (No. 5) by John Luther Adams (plus a foretaste of his next quartet, whose premiere is already on the horizon in spring 2020).

Thanks to his close working relationship with the JACKs, JLA has become fascinated with the medium, though he waited until age 58 to take it up. He’s now finishing his Sixth and Seventh String Quartets. My review for Musical America:

FISHTAIL, MT — The vast, roiling orchestral soundscape of the Prize-winning Become Ocean has served many listeners as an entrée into the world of John Luther Adams. But he is just as much at home within the intimate dimensions of chamber music…

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Filed under: commissions, John Luther Adams, string quartet, Tippet Rise

Xylem: A Place of Refuge

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Some shots of the new architectural installation and gathering place at Tippet Rise Art Center: Xylem,  by the internationally acclaimed architect Diébédo Francis Kéré.

A delightfully imaginative and welcoming  pavilion designed to invite moments of meditation, pop-up musical performance, and community exchange, Xylem is composed of sustainably harvested pine logs (longe pole and ponderosa).

From the artist’s website:

The logs of the canopy are assembled in circular bundles bore by a modular hexagonal structure in weathering steel, lying on top of seven steel columns. The upper surface of the canopy is carved sinuously in order to create a rounded topography that blends in the surrounding hills. At the same time massive and light, the roof is inspired by the “toguna”, the traditional most sacred space in every Dogon village, a wooden and straw shelter designed in order to protect from the sun but at the same time to allow the ventilation of the shaded space underneath.

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Filed under: architecture, art

Herman Melville at 200

Born Herman Melvill 200 years ago on this day, the writer I have idolized since I first got seriously into literature went largely unrecognized during his own lifetime, apart from his early commercial success.

“There is no knowing Herman Melville,” writes Jill Lepore in her profile in the current issue of The New Yorker. “He needed to write. He wanted to be read. He could not bear to be seen.”

She quotes Melville’s famous metaphor for the creative act:

Taking a book off the brain is akin to the ticklish & dangerous business of taking an old painting off a panel — you have to scrape off the whole brain in order to get at it with due safety — & even then, the painting may not be worth the trouble.

Here’s a motley assortment of reflections on the unknowable, unfathomably fascinating Melville:

–a trove of links and information from the Melville Society

–Melvilliana: Clement C. Moore’s blog on all things Melville

–from Deutsche Welle, a consideration of Melville’s modernity from a European perspective

–on the inspiration of Mount Greylock from his window as Melville wrote Moby-Dick

–And a nod to Melville the poet:

“Art”

In placid hours well-pleased we dream
Of many a brave unbodied scheme.
But form to lend, pulsed life create,
What unlike things must meet and mate:
A flame to melt—a wind to freeze;
Sad patience—joyous energies;
Humility—yet pride and scorn;
Instinct and study; love and hate;
Audacity—reverence. These must mate,
And fuse with Jacob’s mystic heart,
To wrestle with the angel—Art.

Filed under: literature, Melville

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