MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

In Memoriam Paul Taub

Today at 4:00 pm PDT, LoudSwell will stream a memorial concert for the irreplaceable flutist and musical visionary Paul Taub.  You can access the performances at Loudswell.com and on The Royal Room Facebook page.

Both sites will have a link to donate to the artists. Performed live on The Royal Room stage, following all Washington State Department of Health guidelines.

The lineup of performers includes:

Members of Seattle Chamber Players
Seattle Modern Orchestra
Laurie DeLuca
Dave Sabee
Mikhail Schmidt
Byron Schenkman
Angelique Poteat
Kin of the Moon (Heather Bentley, Leanne Keith, Kaley Eaton)
Cristina Valdes
Beth Fleenor
Chuck Deardorf
Wayne Horvitz
Jarrad Powell
Jovinos Santos Neto
Michael Partington
Agata Zubel
Claire Chase
And many more…

The obituary I wrote following Paul’s untimely death on 13 March is here.

Filed under: memorial, music news, new music

Pity These Ashes: Tulsa 1921-2021

Among the commemorations of the Tulsa Race Massacre — the horrible events of 31 May-1 June 1921 that took place in Tulsa’s Greenwood District — here’s a concert scheduled for 19 June/Juneteenth by the Harlem Chamber Players and featuring the world premiere Adolphus Hailstork’Tulsa 1921 (Pity These Ashes, Pity This Dust), an operatic retelling of the massacre.

The mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges will sing in this digitally streamed concert on Juneteenth at 7pm, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the massacre. She will be joined by the violinist Jessica (Lady Jess) McJunkins, WQXR host and author Terrance McKnight, harpist Ashley Jackson, and conductor Amadi Azikiwe leading the Harlem Chamber Players.

Also on the program are pieces by Jessie MontgomeryAlice Coltrane, and Trevor Weston.

COMPLETE PROGRAM:

Jessie Montgomery Starburst
Alice Coltrane Prema for Harp and Strings arranged by Tom Cunningham of Urban Playground Orchestra
Adolphus Hailstork TULSA 1921 (Pity Theses Ashes, Pity This Dust) for Mezzo-Soprano and Chamber Orchestra
*World Premiere – libretto by Herbert Woodward Martin
Trevor Weston The People Could Fly for Violin Solo, Narrator and Strings (based upon an African-American folktale by Virginia Hamilton; featuring dancers from Harlem School of the Arts)

FEATURING
Amadi Azikiwe, Music Director and Conductor
Terrance McKnight, Host and Performer
J’Nai Bridges, Mezzo-Soprano
Lady Jess, Violin
Ashley Jackson, Harp
With an orchestra comprising members of The Harlem Chamber Players
Also featuring dancers from Harlem School of the Arts

And here is J’Nai Bridges in  Daniel Bernard Roumain’s aria about the massacre, They Still Want To Kill Us:

Filed under: American music, music news

Thomas Adès at 50

Hard to believe that (as of 1 March) Thomas Adès has now crossed the 50 milestone. For this birthday concert with the London Symphony Orchestra, he takes to the podium to compose Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony and his own In Seven Days for piano and orchestra, with Kirill Gerstein as the soloist.

Filed under: Thomas Adès

The No One’s Rose at Stanford

Here’s my preview of a remarkable collaboration between American Modern Opera Company and the Philharmonia Baroque, reshaped by the pandemic interruption:

After nearly a year of postponement, Stanford Live prepares to present the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale‘s collaboration with the American Modern Opera Company. The No One’s Rose, a project created in a moment of prevailing uncertainty about the identity of art, uses the poetry of Holocaust survivor Paul Celan as a framework to reflect on creating art as a community in the face of overwhelming loss and despair…

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Filed under: commissions, new music, poetry

Inon Barnatan with Seattle Symphony


Tonight’s Seattle Symphony program presents guest soloist Inon Barnatan, who also conducts, in a pair of early Mozart and early Beethoven concertos: K. 271 and the B-flat major Concerto, respectively (Beethoven’s first complete work in the genre, though known as the Second).

Livestreaming begins at 7.30pm PST.

Above is a clip of the stream from last week’s concert, with guest conductor Nicholas McGegan conducting Schubert’s sunny, Mozartean Fifth Symphony.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Yuri McCoy, Symphonic Roar

My latest review for Gramophone, in the May issue, is of organist Yuri McCoy’s debut album, Symphonic Roar:

The impetus for this debut album by Yuri McCoy was to celebrate the French Romantic organ and the gloriously rich, ‘symphonic’ sonority associated with it. But the American organist has set about doing so with a bracingly original programme of pieces…

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Filed under: CD review, Gramophone, organ

Nicholas McGegan with Seattle Symphony

The wonderful Nicholas McGegan pays a visit to the Seattle Symphony podium in this live concert of Bach and Schubert. (Video above is from the April 26 concert, with Farkhad Khudyev conducting Schumann.) The program (available to watch through May 20):

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH    Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066

Overture
Courante
Gavotte I & II
Forlane
Menuet I & II
Bourrée I & II
Passepied I & II

FRANZ SCHUBERT    Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major, D. 485

Allegro
Andante con moto
Menuetto: Allegro molto
Allegro vivace

Filed under: Nicholas McGegan, Seattle Symphony

Seattle Opera Announces Its 2021-22 Season

Seattle Opera has announced its return to live, in-person performances on 16 October, when it launches its 2021-22 season.

The lineup includes La bohèmeThe Marriage of Figaro, Orpheus and Eurydice, and Blue. In addition to the mainstage productions, tenor Lawrence Brownlee will give a recital on 29 April 2022 at McCaw Hall with pianist John Keene.

General Director Christina Scheppelmann: ““The theater, where music, storytelling, lights, performers, and audiences meet, is a space of magic and impact. This past year has been difficult and challenging on so many levels. As we process all that we’ve been through, we can come here to enjoy ourselves. We can rediscover the positive moment and outlook we are seeking. Through opera, we can reconnect with our deepest emotions and our shared humanity.” 

Production info:

This season begins with a long-awaited La bohème (Oct. 16–30, 2021, at McCaw Hall) featuring Seattle Opera favorites, debuts, and artists who had been scheduled to sing in the cancelled 2020 bohème. Performers include Ginger Costa-Jackson (Carmen ‘19, Cinderella ‘19), John Moore (Eugene Onegin ‘20, The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs ‘19), Brandie Sutton (Porgy and Bess ‘18), Michael ChioldiTheo HoffmanBarry JohnsonYosep KangFederico De MichelisAshraf SewailamTalise TrevigneEugene Villanueva, and Kang Wang. An audience favorite for more than a century, this tale of young Bohemians who dedicate their lives to art and love is told through Giacomo Puccini’s lush, romantic score. For the full cast and creative team list—and to purchase tickets—go to seattleopera.org/boheme.  

Christoph Willibald Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice (Jan. 12–30, 2022, at Tagney Jones Hall, The Opera Center) will blur the line between fantasy and reality. Set in the company’s intimate glass-box theater, audiences will have a front-row seat to the action as Orpheus descends into the underworld to rescue his beloved wife Eurydice. Chía Patiño, former head of Ecuador’s National Theatre, creates an all-new production with three principal singers and a small orchestra. Returning artists include Stephen Stubbs, a Grammy-winning conductor and respected authority on early music, plus Sharleen Joynt, whose recent performance as The Controller in Flight was praisedby Bachtrack: “We know we’re in for an acting treat when we see Joynt’s impeccably turned-out Controller … we see her arched eyebrows and penetrating stare in close-up as she delivers stratospheric coloratura.” Two countertenors make their debuts: Christopher Ainslie “A Rockstar of Baroque Opera” (New York Times) and Key’mon W. Murrah, an artist with “unreal,” “expressive,” and “effulgent vocal acrobatics” (Schmopera). Full production details and ticket information is available at seattleopera.org/orpheus.  

The season continues in February with Blue, (Feb. 26 – March 12, 2022, in McCaw Hall) the 2020 winner of Best New Opera by the Music Critics Association of North America. This portrait of contemporary African American life is the creation of librettist Tazewell Thompson (five NAACP Awards, plus two Emmy nominations) and composer Jeanine Tesori (Tony-winner known for Fun Home). A story of love, loss, church, and sisterhood, Blue depictsa young couple celebrating the joy of family with the birth of their son. Later they lean on close-knit community in the wake of their son’s death at the hands of a police officer.

”Unfortunately, the themes in Blue have no expiration date,” wrote Thompson in The New York Times. “I add my voice to those of the characters singing in the opera, and to those of the real families suffering great losses. Our eyes will never be free of tears.” 

The opera will include three cast members from the original, 2019 Glimmerglass festival production: Seattle Opera veterans Gordon Hawkins (Aida ’18, Nabucco ‘15) and Kenneth Kellogg (Don Giovanni ‘21), plus mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter in her company debut. Seattle Opera will center the voices of its Black American community partners to guide conversations surrounding the work. More information is available at seattleopera.org/blue.    

Rounding out the season is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (May 7‒21, 2022, in McCaw Hall). From exuberant overture to uplifting finale, this beloved comedy based on the radical Beaumarchais play comes alive with rich commentary on social class and gender roles. The first woman to lead St. Petersburg’s historic Mikhailovsky Theatre, Maestro Alevtina Ioffe makes her company debut with this traditional production, to be directed by Peter Kazaras (The Turn of the Screw ’18, An American Dream ’15 and ’17), leader of Opera UCLA. In the title role stars Grammy-winning bass-baritone Ryan McKinny whose “powerful voice drips with gold” (Opera News) and Michael Sumuel, whose vocals are “smooth and ingratiating” (Daily Camera). Complete cast, creative team, and ticket information is at seattleopera.org/figaro.

Filed under: Seattle Opera

Lucerne Festival’s “Crazy” Summer

Lucerne Festival today presented its new plans for an expanded season and also introduced the programming for the 2021 Summer Festival. The theme is inspired by the “crazy” times we’ve been living through. In German, the usual for crazy (verrückt) also carries the connotation of “dislocation” — as in a revolutionary artist shifting and upending conventional paradigms.

Filed under: Lucerne Festival

Jonathon Heyward’s Tenure Begins

Jonathon Heyward begins his tenure with Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie: this gifted young conductor will go far!

Program: Igor Strawinsky — Symphonie für Blasinstrumente

Edward Elgar – Introduktion und Allegro für Streicher

Joseph Haydn – Sinfonie Nr. 100 G-Dur “Militär”

Filed under: conductors,

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