MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

George Walker at 100

Today would have been the 100th birthday of George Walker. His legacy remains far too little known. In his honor, I’m reposting my story for The New York Times on this extraordinary American composer.

A Composer’s Final Work Contains ‘Visions’ of an American Master

Last fall, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery began to display, among its recent acquisitions, a photograph of the composer George Walker. It shows him close up, his right index finger and thumb bearing down on a pencil with the precision of a surgeon, at work on the manuscript score of his Sinfonia No. 5…


Filed under: American music, anniversary, George Walker

Seattle Chamber Music Society Concert Truck

To tee off the 2022 Summer Festival, which starts on 5 July, Seattle Chamber Music Society is introducing the Concert Truck: a mobile concert hall equipped with piano and professional lighting and sound. The Concert Truck will be giving free chamber concerts at stops around the Seattle region in the days leading up to the opening of the Festival.

The Schedule:

Thursday, June 23/Program A

1:00pm: Wedgewood Presbyterian Church

5:00pm: Lake City Farmers Market

Friday, June 24/Program B

1:00pm: Westlake Park

7:00pm: Magnuson Park (near Kite Hill)

Saturday, June 25/Program B

12:00pm: Bellevue Botanical Garden

 5:00pm: Gasworks Park

Sunday, June 26/Program A

10:00am: Ballard Farmers Market

 5:00pm: Madison Park North Beach

Tuesday, June 28/Program C

6:00pm: Seattle Chinese Garden

Wednesday, June 29/Program C

11:00am: Freeway Park

5:30pm: Columbia City Farmers Market

Thursday, June 30/Program C

11:00am: Bridge Park Retirement

5:30pm: Central Park (in Columbia City)

Friday, July 1/Program C

11:00am: Pier 62

4:00pm: Ashwood Park (Bellevue)

Saturday, July 2/Program C

11:00am: Pike Place Market (Victor Steinbrueck Park)

7:00pm: Volunteer Park

And the programs:

Thursday June 23 & Sunday June 26

Felix Mendelssohn Piano Trio No. 1

Gabriel Fauré Après un rêve

William Grant-Still Mother and Child

George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

Eleanor Alberga 3-Day Mix

Friday June 24 & Saturday June 25

Sergei Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata in g minor

Gabriel Fauré Après un rêve

George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

Eleanor Alberga 3-Day Mix

June 28 through July 2

Antonín Dvořák Piano Quintet in A major

William Grant-Still Mother and Child

Henri Vieuxtemps Souvenir d’Amerique

Beethoven Eyeglasses Duo

George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

Eleanor Alberga 3-Day Mix

Filed under: music news, Seattle Chamber Music Society

Don Giovanni Completes the “Mozart-Da Ponte Trilogy” at San Francisco Opera

Etienne Dupuis as Don Giovanni;
Photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

I wrote about Michael Cavanagh’s production of Don Giovanni currently being presented by San Francisco Opera.

SAN FRANCISCO  — The flames are already flickering as the overture begins in the new production of Don Giovanni directed by Michael Cavanagh at San Francisco Opera. Set and projection designer Erhard Rom’s accompanying visuals establish a scenario of civilizational destruction as the backstory for what we’re about to see transpire onstage. 

Filed under: Mozart, review, San Francisco Opera

Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? Comes to San Francisco Symphony

Quite looking forward to tonight’s San Francisco Symphony concert, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, which brings John Adams’s most-recent piano concerto to Davies Hall. Vikingur Ólafsson is the soloist, and on the basis of this morning’s open rehearsal, this should be a performance to remember.

We had a good one in January with the Seattle Symphony and Jeremy Denk, Adams himself guest conducting.

The rest of the program includes a beautiful work by the late Steven Stucky, Radical Light (also an SFS premiere), and Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony.

Filed under: Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Adams, San Francisco Symphony

Solstice Celebration

Celebrate the Summer Solstice on Tuesday evening with the musical program Vibe Check at the Chapel Performance Space at the Good Shepherd Center (4649 Sunnyside Ave N) from 6 to 10pm.

Anchoring the evening on amplified five-octave marimba, Eric Jorgensen will be joined by Rachel Nesvig (Hardanger fiddle), Leanna Keith (flute), Aaron Michael Butler (sound manipulation), and Steve Peters (field recordings) for an evening of meditative sounds created in real time and shifting to correspond with the changes in natural light for this longest day of the year. The audience is encouraged to bring pillows or blankets for maximum meditation and is can come and go at will.

Donations will be accepted at the door. All ages welcome. 

Filed under: music news

2022 Ojai Festival

The 76th edition of the Ojai Music Festival begins today and runs through Sunday. I was honored to write the notes for the inspiring, original, “discipline-colliding” program curated this year by AMOC* (the American Modern Opera Company) and featuring its unparalleled team of artists. That a collective is serving in the role of music director/curator is one of the unique features of this summer at Ojai.

There are many fascinating tangents to AMOC*’s program: a focus on the legacy of Julius Eastman, whose music begins and ends the festival; perspectives on Minimalism, especially from Eastman, Hans Otte, and the young generation of composers emerging today; adventurous juxtapositions of music, dance, and theater; and the exciting convergence of early music sensibilities (on the part of today’s performers, that is) and “new music.”

Also in the lineup are several anticipated premieres: AMOC* co-founder Matthew Aucoin’s new cycle of “mini-concertos,” Family Dinner; Bobbi Jene Smith and colleagues’ intriguing latest dance-theater projects, Open Rehearsal and The Cello Player; Carolyn Chen’s music-dance work How to Fall Apart; and Anthony Cheung’s poetry-song cycle, the echoing of tenses. Also part of this cornucopia of premieres was to have been a new staging by AMOC* co-founder Zack Winokur of Olivier Messiaen’s song cycle Harawi (part of his “Tristan trilogy”), but this will not be able to happen because Julia Bullock is unable to travel from her home in Germany due to Covid. Harawi has been a long-in-the-making collaboration between the soprano and Winokur — it’s a major loss not to be able to present it at the festival. But such is the extraordinary team ethic and resilience of this company that member Davóne Tines and colleagues agreed to step in at the last minute to offer an entirely different program for the Friday night slot: Tyshawn Sorey’s For James Primosch and Tines’s own curated program Recital No. 1: MASS.

Filed under: new music, Ojai Festival

Ascending To The Stars On Messiaen Trek From The Canyons, Illustrated

Former Seattle Symphony music director Ludovic Morlot returned to conduct Messaien’s ‘Des canyons aux étoiles…‘ (Photos by James Holt / Seattle Symphony)

I reviewed an extraordinary (and rare) performance of Messiaen by Ludovic Morlot and Seattle Symphony for Classical Voice America:

SEATTLE — For their recent reunion, Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony put aside the familiar repertoire to offer a program devoted entirely to Olivier Messiaen’s vast, 12-movement work inspired by the landscape of the American West, Des canyons aux étoiles…. The experience was blissfully unique, reminiscent of similarly rare outings during Morlot’s eight-year tenure as music director (2011-19) that have not faded from memory: a riotous Varèse Amériques early on, the collaborations with John Luther Adams, semi-staged Ravel and Stravinsky — and, indeed, other Messiaen performances, including the orchestra’s first encounter with the Turangalîla Symphony….


Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, Olivier Messiaen, Seattle Symphony

Seattle Pro Musica’s The Way Home

Friday night at 7.30 pm, Seattle Pro Musica will stream its final concert of the season, The Way Home, which they performed live on 21 and 22 May.

From SPM’s description: “The Way Home honors America’s multicultural heritage with music that seeks to foster respect for all persons and groups, especially immigrants and refugees. Through these performances, we hope to enrich audiences with a greater understanding of and compassion for those who seek shelter from harm.

Music from trailblazing young composers Saunder Choi, Caroline Shaw, Derrick Skye, and Chris
Hutchings explore the peril and helplessness faced by many refugees. Songs from the 14th and 15th
centuries remind us that the refugee experience resonates across human history. Works by Melissa
Dunphy, Reginald Unterseher, and Stephen Paulus express the hope that our hearts will open to
welcome those in need of refuge.”

Electronic program available here.

Filed under: music news, Seattle Pro Musica

Morlot and SSO Together Again for Epic Messiaen

Ludovic Morlot conducts the Seattle Symphony in The Mayors’ Concert for Ukraine and Refugees Worldwide earlier this year. (James Holt / Seattle Symphony)

Tonight Ludovic Morlot rejoins the Seattle Symphony for the first of two performances of one of Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles… I spoke to the conductor about the program for The Seattle Times:

A new chapter in Ludovic Morlot’s relationship with the Seattle Symphony is underway.

Now holding the title of conductor emeritus, Morlot has chosen some unusual fare for his concerts on June 2 and 4: the orchestral epic “Des canyons aux étoiles …” (“From the Canyons to the Stars …”) by Olivier Messiaen, which will be presented in a multimedia presentation accompanied by video projections by Deborah O’Grady.


Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, Olivier Messiaen, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Times

RIP Ingram Marshall (1942-2022)

The news of Ingram Marshall‘s passing hits hard. His music was wonderfully imaginative and rich in personality, and his generosity and warmth as a mentor made an enormous impact well beyond the experimental-music scene. I will be forever grateful for Ingram’s kindness and support in participating in The John Adams Reader. He shared so many evocative stories about the culture he and his friend experienced in the Bay Area in the 1970s and early ’80s.

From Frank J. Oteri has reposted an extensive interview he conducted in July 2001 for NewMusicBox.

And here is a series of linked articles and interviews from Ingram’s own website.

Filed under: Ingram Marshall, music news

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