MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Plagues and Passions: Lamentation Back before Bach at the Ravenna Festival

174991-la-peste-di-amburgo-lucaconcas-c5a2617-copia

My first official review in quite some time — albeit of a live stream:

Quite by accident, early music groups and chamber ensembles have turned out to have a natural advantage during the current pandemic. Their compact size can more easily accommodate distancing requirements as presenters gingerly proceed to reintroduce public performances. Even more, Il Suonar Parlante pointedly homed in on the theme of plague itself for their choice of programme at the Ravenna Festival…

continue

Filed under: early music, music festivals, Ravenna Festival, review

Life Is Live

One sign of hope at least in the music world with regard to live performance: Lucerne Festival, after having to cancel its meticulously planned Summer Festival, has announced a short festival of 10 days that will take its place. Unlike the United States, Switzerland has a functioning government that has actually taken the coronavirus pandemic seriously and is thus in a position to start carefully relaxing restrictions on audience gatherings.

Titled Life Is Live, the short festival includes Martha Argerich and Herbert Blomstedt with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in the opening concerts, as well as a pair of recitals by Igor Levit, who continues his complete Beethoven sonata cycle.

Filed under: COVID-19 Era, Lucerne Festival, music festivals, music news

Opera at the 2019 Beijing Music Festival

Another installment in my reporting on the 2019 Beijing Music Festival. There was a strong emphasis on opera this year, which I looked at in this story for the January 2020 edition of Opera Now.

Filed under: music festivals, new music, opera

Lucerne Festival Teasers


You can get frequent glimpses of the happenings at this summer’s Lucerne Festival — where “Psyche” is the leitmotif theme for the programming — on their YouTube channel. Some recent samples:

–Andris Nelsons and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in the Brahms Third Symphony

–Barbara Hannigan

–Unsuk Chin

Filed under: conductors, music festivals

Nike Wagner on Talking Germany

Nike Wagner, the third of revolutionary director Wieland Wagner’s four children and the great-granddaughter of Richard, headed the Weimar Festival for a decade before being named new director of the Beethoven Fest Bonn.

Here’s an interview (in English) she recently gave host Peter Craven for Deutsche Welle’s Talking Germany program. Craven gets Nike to talk about what it was like growing up after 1945 as a Wagner, her relationship to the family (and especially her father), and its connections to Hitler.

There’s not very much about great-grandpa himself, though she attempts a capsule summary of the essence of Wagner’s genius. And Nike discusses some of her ideas about the Beethoven Festival, including the importance of dramaturgically thoughtful programming.

On his blog, Craven offers a few more glimpses of his guest:

Our initial encounter is very warm. She offers me a hand and, while I’m thinking that I like this lady, I’m also registering just how small her hand is, how thin her bones, and how frail and delicate she seems. It’s certainly a light frame, I reflect, to shoulder the heavyweight history of her family and the role it has for the better part of two centuries played here in Germany.

Eventually he gets Nike Wagner to share this:

“You know, everybody has a specific weight. I’m light. I love to jump, to run, to swim. And … what do you call it in English? … to hover. Not in a moral way. They always think I’m strict. I can be strict. I’m not a moralist: but any kind of injustice drives me mad. I change planes, trains, apartments. But I’m faithful. When I love a person, I love a person. And I love to go dancing. Waltzing. Discotheques. Well, not any more. Private parties these days. I love to move!”

As a descendant of Richard and Cosima Wagner, Nike is also the great-great-granddaughter of Franz Liszt. Here’s an interview (in German) on her planning while she was still heading the Weimar Festival:

Filed under: Beethoven, music festivals, Wagner

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

RSS Arts & Culture Stories from NPR

  • Bob the Drag Queen
    Bob the Drag Queen discusses his wig-filled basement drag closet and his HBO docuseries We're Here. Then, Bob takes on a quiz tailored specifically to his interests, from Kesha to Whoopi Goldberg.
  • Funky Stuff, Part 2
    Cristin Milioti and Camila Mendes join house musician Jonathan Coulton for a game where funky songs are rewritten to be about things that smell funky.
  • Hallmark Holidays
    Cristin Milioti and Camila Mendes (Palm Springs) compete to see who can identify holidays based on the text of Hallmark cards.
  • In A Hurry
    Comedians Erin Jackson and Laurie Kilmartin work together to answer questions about some of the world's fastest things.
  • Foley Moley
    Comedians Laurie Kilmartin (writer for CONAN) and Erin Jackson (Last Comic Standing) face off in a game about the strange noises that go into creating movie sound effects.
  • Actor André Holland Explores: 'Where I Fit, How I Fit, If I Fit'
    Best known for his roles in Moonlight and Castle Rock, Holland has a starring role in a new radio version of Shakespeare's Richard II. Originally broadcast in 2018.
  • You May Be In Sweatpants, But COVID-19 Hasn't Stopped Haute Couture
    In a fashion first, this season's collections were presented digitally, rather than in-person, in-Paris. The virtual venue was an opportunity for designers to experiment in the online space.
  • World War II Naval Drama 'Greyhound' Charts A Trim, Efficient Course
    Tom Hanks stars in, and wrote the screenplay for, this familiar but effective tale of a Navy captain leading a convoy of merchants ships through U-boat-infested seas.
  • Dawn Wacek: How Can Libraries Be A Path Toward Inclusivity And Forgiveness?
    Are overdue library book fines necessary? Librarian Dawn Wacek wants all libraries to do away with overdue fines to make library services more inclusive and welcoming to all readers.
  • No Reading, No Peace: The Power Of Black Stories Out Loud
    The difference between owning a book by a Black author and experiencing its power lies in reading it aloud — particularly for kids' books, which can help kids speak up about their own experiences.