MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

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,

Beethoven in China

My colleague Rudolph Tang has created a film about the reception of Beethoven in the People’s Republic of China featuring an interview with conductor Liang Zhang, whose new Beethoven symphony cycle is the fourth recording of the complete symphonies to be made by musicians from Mainland China.

The documentary is available for free viewing until Friday here.

Filed under: Beethoven, classical music in Mainland China, conductors

Another Musical Exit with Brexit

The music world is still reeling from Simon Rattle’s recently announced curtailment of his tenure with the London Symphony Orchestra in favor of the Symphonieorcehster des Bayerischen Radiofunks. And now we learn that the young Lithuanian star conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will step down from her post helming the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the end of the 2021-22 season. What hath Brexit wrought?

Gražinytė-Tyla stated: “I have decided to give up my position of Music Director of the CBSO at the end of the 2021-22 season and have happily accepted the orchestra’s invitation to become Principal Guest Conductor in the 2022-23 season. This is a deeply personal decision, reflecting my desire to step away from the organizational and administrative responsibilities of being a Music Director at this particular moment in my life and focusing more on my purely musical activities.”

Filed under: conductors, music news

Simon Rattle Will Go Back to Germany

In the middle of these turbulent days, there is some major classical music news: Sir Simon Rattle is stepping down from his post heading the London Symphony Orchestra and will return to Germany to lead the  Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, effective with the 2023-24 season. (See clip above for an example of his collaboration with the BRSO.)

The official statement released from the LSO gives this explanation from Rattle: “My reasons for accepting the role of Chief Conductor in Munich are entirely personal, enabling me to better manage the balance of my work and be close enough to home to be present for my children in a meaningful way. I love the London Symphony Orchestra. I remain committed to the LSO, and we have plans for major projects in the coming years. I am thrilled that we will be making music together far into the future.”

But as Joshua Barone notes in The New York Times, Rattle “has been a vocal critic of Brexit, which was voted on after he accepted the London Symphony post in 2015. And progress has been sluggish on the Center for Music, the much-desired new home for the orchestra that was conceived alongside Mr. Rattle’s appointment.”

Barone adds: “In Munich, Mr. Rattle won’t have to contend with those Brexit woes, but he will once again find himself involved in the building of a new concert hall, in the Werksviertel-Mitte area — a modern contrast to the neo-Classical Herkulessaal in the city center. “

Filed under: conductors, music news

Conductor’s Panel

_B0A5603 Roderick Cox

Here is a link to Conductor’s Perspective, a Facebook live conversation that took place today among these four American conductors: Roderick Cox, who hosted, Thomas Wilkins, Music Director of the Omaha Symphony and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Michael Morgan, Music Director of the Oakland Symphony, and Jonathon Heyward, the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie’s Chief Conductor Designate.

It’s an inspiring, cross-generational panel discussion that frankly covers the hurdles African-American musicians have faced — and continue to face — as well as the artistic passions that drive these outstandingly talented conductors.

Filed under: African-American musicians, conductors

A Chat with Nicholas McGegan

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Nicholas McGegan conducting Juilliard415 in 2019

Ahead of his upcoming Juilliard projects, I spoke with the always delightful Nicholas McGegan.

A new year and decade: 2020 brings some major milestones for eminent conductor, harpsichordist, and flutist Nicholas McGegan…

continue

Filed under: conductors, early music, Handel, Juilliard

DSO’s New Music Director: Jader Bignamini

Congratulations to Jader Bignamini, who has been named the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s 13th music director. The young Italian conductor’s six-year contract begins this fall. He will fully take over in the 2021-22 season.

From Brian McCollum’s report for the Detroit Free Press:

DSO officials point to Bignamini’s musical knowledge, collaborative flair and dexterous leadership as traits that won them over. Most important, said Parsons, he has “the full support of our musicians,” four of whom sat on the search committee that ultimately zeroed in on the Italian.

For the New York Times, Michael Cooper observes:

Choosing a conductor who has been best known for opera — when he jumped in for Mr. Slatkin in 2018, it was for concert performances of Puccini’s “Turandot” — and who is not yet well known in the United States is something of a risk for this orchestra. The Detroit Symphony started the last decade with a painful strike and has been working to rebuild itself ever since, alongside its struggling city — in part by stressing accessibility and streaming concerts for free online.

Filed under: conductors, music news

San Francisco Opera Announces New Music Director

The big news from San Francisco Opera this afternoon: Eun Sun Kim, a native of South Korea, has been chosen as the fourth music director in the company’s history, effective August 21, 2021.

Of Maestro Kim’s SFO debut this past June conducting Dvořák’s Rusalka I wrote: “Holding it all together was the outstanding musical direction of Eun Sun Kim, who was at home not only with the score’s Wagnerian resonances but with Dvořák’s folk-inflected rhythmic energy, too. The orchestra’s vibrant responsiveness made Kim’s debut here a spectacular one for a company currently in search of a music director.”

Kim made the following statement:

From my very first moments at San Francisco Opera, I felt this was home. There was an unusual feeling of open collaboration across so many facets of the Company—a real sense of professional alchemy. I’m deeply honored to be joining the San Francisco Opera family, and helping to carry this incredible lineage forward.

From the press release:

Effective immediately, Ms. Kim is Music Director Designate, in which role she will participate in the planning of future seasons and in orchestral auditions. She will conduct the Company’s new production of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” that will be a part of the opening weekend of the 2020–21 Season. Complete information about San Francisco Opera’s 2020–21 Season will be announced in January.

As music director, she will conduct up to four productions in each season of her initial five-year contract, in addition to conducting concerts, working with San Francisco Opera’s resident artist Adler Fellows and participating in the executive leadership of the organization…

Born in South Korea, 39-year-old Eun Sun Kim conducts frequently at major opera houses across Europe and is increasingly recognized in North America as an insightful interpreter of the operatic and symphonic repertoire. She made her U.S. debut in September 2017, leading a production of La Traviata with Houston Grand Opera, and she was subsequently named the company’s first principal guest conductor in 25 years. Last month, she made her Washington National Opera debut conducting The Magic Flute, and upcoming U.S. company debuts include productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and LA Opera. She returns to Houston Grand Opera in April for a production of Salome. In the concert hall, she has conducted the Cincinnati Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Milwaukee Symphony, and future performances include subscription concerts with the New York Philharmonic and Oregon, San Diego and Seattle symphonies.

Ms. Kim began her career in Europe, where she assisted Jesús López-Cobos at Madrid’s Teatro Real and Kirill Petrenko at Opéra National de Lyon, before making her own professional debut in 2012 conducting La Bohème at Frankfurt Opera.

Another important mentor to Ms. Kim was Daniel Barenboim, whom she met while working in Europe early in her career. After hearing Ms. Kim in rehearsals, Mr. Barenboim invited her to make her debut in 2015 at the Berlin State Opera, where he is General Music Director.

Among Ms. Kim’s future European engagements is her debut at the Vienna State Opera. She has previously conducted at companies including English National Opera, Opéra de Marseille, Opernhaus Zürich, Royal Danish Opera, Royal Swedish Opera and Teatro Real. She has been particularly active in Germany, where she maintains a close relationship not only with the Berlin State Opera, but also Frankfurt Opera. She has also appeared at the Bavarian State Opera, Cologne Opera, Semperoper Dresden and Stuttgart State Opera. Her international concert engagements have included performances with Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Calgary Philharmonic, Malmö Symphony, Orchestre de Paris, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and Stuttgart Philharmonic, among others.

Ms. Kim studied composition and conducting in her hometown of Seoul, South Korea, before continuing her studies at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Stuttgart (State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart), where she graduated with distinction. Directly after graduation, she was awarded the First Prize in the International Jesús López-Cobos Opera Conducting Competition at the Teatro Real.

Filed under: conductors, music news, San Francisco Opera

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

Teodor Currentzis in North American Debut

Teodor Currentzis will make his North American debut with musicAeterna this week at The Shed in New York. On the program is Verdi’s Requiem, together with an experimental film by the late Jonas Merkas. I was asked to write a profile of Currentzis for Early Music America magazine.

Filed under: conductors, Early Music America, profile, Teodor Curentzis

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