MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

The Miró Quartet at 25

The November-December 2019 issue of Strings magazine is now available. I wrote a profile of the marvelous Miró Quartet and their Archive Project, which celebrates the ensemble’s quarter-century milestone.

When the Miró Quartet started out in October 1995, a prediction that it would be thriving a quarter century on must have sounded wildly optimistic. “Because we were such different personalities in terms of musical approach and demeanor, we had a lot of fights and disagreements in the first couple of years,” recalls cellist Joshua Gindele…

continue (starts p. 20)

Filed under: Beethoven, profile, string quartet, Strings

Lei Liang Wins the 2020 Grawemeyer Award


Just announced:
The Chinese-American composer Lei Liang has won the 2020 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. He was chosen on the basis of his orchestral work A Thousand Mountains, a Million Streams, commissioned and premiered by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project under Gil Rose. The new work addresses the issue of climate change and what humans can do to change the outcome.

From the Grawemeyer announcement:

“The world we live in today is dangerous,” Liang said. “Our very existence is threatened by global warming, which is causing violent disruptions to the living things on our planet and being made worse by human irresponsibility.”

The half-hour piece takes listeners on a journey through a virtual landscape that first sings and dances but later jolts and collapses into fragments. Near the end, the sound of rain emerges and resurrects nature.

“When creating the work, I wanted to convey the importance of preserving our landscapes, both physically and spiritually, to sustain a place where we and our children can belong,” he said.

Liang, 47, is a music professor at University of California, San Diego, and research-artist-in-residence at Qualcomm Institute, the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. He has composed more than 100 works, including pieces addressing other contemporary social issues such as human trafficking and gun violence.

“Xiaoxiang,” his concerto for saxophone and orchestra, was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2015.

“Liang’s piece, which explores a huge range of emotions and ends with both hope and ambiguity, has a forceful, convincing arc and wonderful orchestral colors,” said Marc Satterwhite, music award director. “Like some of our other winners, he challenges people inside and outside the field of music to ponder important things, even when it’s uncomfortable to do so.”

Schott Music, a company founded in 1770 in Germany now with offices worldwide, publishes all of Liang’s compositions. BMOP/sound record label released a recording of his Grawemeyer-winning piece in 2018.

Filed under: awards, music news

Musical America’s New Artist of the Month: Hao Zhou

Congratulations to Hao Zhou, who is featured by Musical America as New Artist of the Month. Here’s my profile of this extraordinary violinist.

More on Hao Zhou here.

Video of Hao Zhou with Viano String Quartet.

Filed under: Musical America, violinists

RIP Mariss Jansons (1943-2019)

The great Latvian conductor Mariss Jansons has died at his home in St. Petersburg. He was only 76. From his orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony:
“The news of the death of our chief conductor Mariss Jansons has filled us with deep dismay and sorrow. With his death, the music world loses one of its greatest artists. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have shared many unforgettable concerts with him over the past 17 years and treasure our close personal and artistic collaboration. The unrelenting demands he made on himself and his musicians, the treatment of his colleagues that was unfailingly full of respect, and the great dedication to music he demonstrated will forever be remembered. Mariss Jansons will occupy a place of honor in the history of our orchestra, and we will honor his memory and keep it alive.” (Orchestra Board of the BRSO)
“The news of Mariss Janson’s death fills me and indeed all those who got to know him with unfathomable sadness. As an individual and a musician alike, he made the lives of so many people richer. I will always be grateful to him for this.” (Nikolaus Pont, Manager BRSO)

Filed under: conductors, music news

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