MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Samuel Adams: No Such Spring

Music from Samuel Adams’s Movements (for us and them) for the Australian Chamber Orchestra

The profound impact that the pandemic has had on contemporary composition will undoubtedly continue to be felt for years. Samuel Adams points to an important shift in his own musical thinking exemplified by his new work No Such Spring, the world premiere of which Esa-Pekka Salonen is conducting in this week’s program with the San Francisco Symphony, with Conor Hanick as the piano soloist. Salonen will also conduct the symphony Anton Bruckner deemed his “boldest”: the Sixth. My program notes for No Such Spring can be found here.

Filed under: Anton Bruckner, commissions, Esa-Pekka Salonen, new music, Samuel Adams, San Francisco Symphony

Music and Justice: Dave Brubeck and Contemporary Responses

This weekend, 26-28 February, the Lowell Milken Center for American Jewish Experience at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music is presenting a series of performances and discussions to launch its new Music & Justice series. The events include a revival of Dave Brubeck’s visionary cantata from 1969, The Gates of Justice, performed in dialogue with contemporary compositions around social justice themes. There will also be a day-long public conference featuring prominent scholars and experts.

I wrote a feature on this project for Chorus America, which includes input from two of the three Brubeck sons, Darius and Chris, who will join to play the jazz trio in The Gates of Justice.

feature story

Filed under: choral music, music news, social justice

Missy Mazzoli’s Proving Up at Juilliard

At 2pm ET, Juilliard Opera is presenting the amazing opera Proving Up, with music by Missy Mazzoli and a libretto by Royce Vavrek based on the short story by Karen Russell. Mary Birnbaum is the director, and Steven Osgood conducts.

More background in my program essay here.

You can watch a livestream here — note that this performance won’t be available to stream afterward on demand.

Filed under: American opera, Juilliard, Missy Mazzoli

Benefit Concert for Earthquake Victims

Students and alumni of the Barenboim-Said Akademie, among whom are a number of musicians from Türkiye and Syria, initiated a benefit concert to be held on Monday, February 20, 7.30pm in collaboration with the Pierre Boulez Saal. Focusing on the theme “2Home,” the concert will contribute to efforts aiding those affected by the massive earthquake in these two countries.

The program includes works of Western classical music as well as compositions from the Middle East, especially from Türkiye and Syria.perform at the Pierre Boulez Saal on February 20.

In addition to the concert at the Pierre Boulez Saal on Monday, February 20, there will be three smaller concerts in the foyer of the Barenboim-Said Akademie on February 16, 17, and 18, each at 4pm. Admission to the foyer concerts is free; donations are welcome. Proceeds from all four concerts will go to the Earthquake Relief Fund of the German Red Cross. Call +49 30 4799 7411 for tickets.

more info

Filed under: music news, Pierre Boulez Saal

Saunder Choi and Seattle Pro Musica

Seattle Pro Musica presents New Colossus, the latest in its  New American Composer Series, a five-concert series celebrating the organization’s 50th anniversary with commissions and Seattle residencies by BIPOC composers from across the country. This edition features composer Saunder Choi‘s new work, Never Again, which addresses the issue of gun violence in America. Choi writes: “In the wake of the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman wrote: ‘May we not just grieve, but give: May we not just ache, but act’ in her poem Hymn for the Hurting. This call to action is the inspiration behind Never Again, a commentary about the true cost of freedom in a country where the intersection of politics, capitalism, and gun lobbies stands in the way of sensible legislation.”

The program is on Saturday, February 11, 2023 at 7:30 pm at Seattle First Baptist Church, Seattle, WA; pre-concert conversation at 7pm. Tickets here. You can also see it online but need to register before the performance begins here.

Complete Program:

Spark by Eric William Barnum (b. 1979)

New Colossus by Saunder Choi (b. 1988)

My spirit sang all day by Gerald Finzi (1901-1956)

Never again by Saunder Choi (world premiere)

Earth teach me by Rupert Lang (b. 1948)

Welcome Table by Saunder Choi

Leron, Leron Sinta: traditional Filipino song, arr. by Saunder Choi

A Journey of Your Own by Saunder Choi

Filed under: choral music, commissions, Seattle Pro Musica

Purcell’s King Arthur

Juilliard415 is teaming up with students from the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts and Juilliard Drama to give a rare performance of a new version of Henry Purcell’s “semi-opera” King Arthur at Alice Tully Hall on Saturday 11 February at 7.30pm NYC time. Lionel Meunier directs this interdisciplinary collaboration.

More background in my program essay here. .

You can watch a livestream here — note that this performance won’t be available to stream afterward on demand.

Filed under: early music, Henry Purcell, Juilliard

Lee Mills Returns to Seattle Symphony: Beethoven, Corey, and Ripper

Lee Mills and Seattle Symphony in Beethoven’s Seventh

UPDATE: This is a fantastic program and well worth seeking out this weekend. I was completely enchanted by João Guilherme Ripper’s touching, witty, sophisticated, and deliciously melodic song cycle based on the poetry of the legendary Vinicius de Moraes. Mills does a great service introducing this prolific Brazilian composer to U.S. audiences — and this is just one peek into the wealth of creativity south of the border that is routinely ignored here. Filling in at the last minute, lyric soprano Tess Altiveros brings passion and humor to her interpretations.

And Mills inspires the SSO to a refreshingly buoyant account of Beethoven’s Sixth. He closely follows the composer’s metronome markings but without sounding rushed or hectic., The result really is akin to breathing in the invigorating freshness of the countryside — and above all elicits the joyful elation of this score.

Two more chances to hear the program: Saturday at 8:00pm and Sunday at 2:00pm.

Lee Mills, who finished his tenure as Seattle Symphony Associate Conductor last season, returns this week to lead the band in what promises to be an interesting program of Beethoven and contemporary composers. We’ll hear the world premiere of Charles Corey’s Together, This Journey, commissioned and composed in collaboration with members of Northwest Center and Best Buddies (originally as part of the 2020 Beethoven Festival) and Brazilian composer João Guilherme Ripper’s Cinco poemas de Vinicius de Moraes. Written for soprano (Tess Altiveros) and orchestra, Ripper’s piece sets five poems by Moraes to sketch out the story of the poet’s life. And Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony will complete the program.

I wrote a profile of Mills just about a year ago for Musical America.

Performance times:

Thursday 9 February at 7.30 pm

Saturday 11 February at 8.00 om

Sunday 12 February at 2.00 pm

Tickets here.

Filed under: Beethoven, conductors, Seattle Symphony

West-Eastern Divan Ensemble Tonight in Berlin

Here’s a video of the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble performing Mendelssohn’s Octet at Boulez-Saal in 2021.

On the agenda at the Boulez-Saal in Berlin tonight is this program by the West-Eastern Divan Ensemble. It’s an interesting mix of Jörg Widmann, Dvořák, Hindemith, and Enescu. My program notes here.

Filed under: chamber music, Pierre Boulez Saal

Abdullah, Hadelich, and the Seattle Symphony Offer a Winter-Conquering Musical Feast

Augustin Hadelich, Kazem Abdullah, and the Seattle Symphony; photo (c) Brandon Patoc

Kazem Abdullah’s Seattle Symphony debut included Sibelius, Britten, and a brand-new work by Dai Fujikura. Here’s my review for Bachtrack:

Framed by early and late Sibelius, this luminous program pushed the pause button on dank winter anxieties. A warm bond developed between debuting guest conductor Kazem Abdullah and the Seattle Symphony musicians during the course of the concert, reaching incandescence in their cloud-busting account of the Finnish composer’s Seventh Symphony.


Filed under: Britten, commissions, conductors, Seattle Symphony, Sibelius

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