MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Joy and Sorrow Across the Waters

Byron Schenkman & Friends launch their ninth season on Sunday, 17 October, with the program Joy and Sorrow Across the Waters. It promises to be a fascinating program, presenting traditional music and stories of the Coast Salish People alongside 17th-century European Baroque music for violin and harpsichord from Spain, Italy, Germany, and the Netherlands. The performers include Native American flutist Paul Chiyokten Wagner, Ingrid Matthews, and Byron Schenkman.

This free digital premiere will launch at 7:00 PM, Pacific Time, and remain available on the BS&F website (www.byronandfriends.org) and the BS&F YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/c/ByronSchenkmanFriends). Free access; donations welcome here.

The program lineup:

Bartolomeo de Selma y Salaverde: Canzona III (for violin and continuo)
Maddalena Casulana: Amor per qual cagion (for harpsichord)
Paul Chiyokten Wagner: Elk Spirit Calls (for flute and drum)
Jan Pieterszon Sweelinck: Unter der Linden grüne (for harpsichord)
Johann Schop: Lachrymae Pavan (for violin and continuo)
Paul Chiyokten Wagner: Skitu: story of a merwoman
Paul Chiyokten Wagner: Gentle Crystalline Waters (for solo flute)
Paul Chiyokten Wagner & Byron Schenkman: Salish Sea Improvisation (for flute and harpsichord)
Andrea Falconieri: La Monarca (for violin and continuo)
Giovanni Battista Fontana: Sonata III (for violin and continuo)

Filed under: Byron Schenkman, music news

Two Pianos, 40 Fingers: Judith Cohen & Friends

The beloved Seattle-based pianist Judith Cohen will be joined Jill Timmons, Terry Spiller, and Dean Williamson for an intriguing edition of the Governor’s Chamber Music Series on Sunday, 10 September, at 3pm at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA. Titled Two Pianos, 40 Fingers, the eight-hands program includes music by Liszt, Debussy, Ravel, Piazzolla, and more.

Filed under: music news

Elena Dubinets, Russian Composers Abroad

Russian Composers Abroad

The much-anticipated new book by the eminent musicologist and artistic programming genius Elena Dubinets has just been published: Russian Composers Abroad: How They Left, Stayed, Returned. I had the honor of contributing one of the cover blurbs for this study of a century of Russian émigré composers (especially from the 1970s on) and diasporic identities.

As Vice President of Artistic Planning and Creative Projects for Seattle Symphony, Elena Dubinets not only played a decisive role in shaping that institution — its international profile grew significantly under her tenure — but left a mark the American orchestral field generally.

To Seattle’s loss, Dubinets left the SSO just before the pandemic and has only recently embarked on a new path as Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic. The LPO is going through an exciting period of transition as it returns to live performances under its new Chief Conductor, Edward Gardner.

Highly recommended!

Filed under: book recs, music news

RIP Carlisle Floyd (1926-2001)

From NPR:

Composer Carlisle Floyd, widely viewed as a founding father of American opera, died Thursday at age 95 in Tallahassee, Fla. His death was announced by his publisher, Boosey & Hawkes, which did not share the cause of his death.

Filed under: music news

What’s Happening to Seattle Symphony’s Thomas Dausgaard?

Seattle Symphony just announced that Thomas Dausgaard, who was reportedly unable to join his orchestra for last weekend’s much-anticipated gala concert and comeback to live performance, has been “further delayed due to pandemic restrictions.” As the official press release phrases it: “Due to continued and unavoidable governmental delays, the Seattle Symphony’s Music Director Thomas Dausgaard is unable to join the orchestra for his originally scheduled Delta Air Lines Masterworks Series concerts in October.”

Why the “continued and unavoidable governmental delays” when other artists have successfully managed the paperwork and roadblocks? Are they really unavoidable?

Here’s the complete wording of the press release:

Seattle, WA — Due to continued and unavoidable governmental delays, the Seattle Symphony’s Music Director Thomas Dausgaard is unable to join the orchestra for his originally scheduled Delta Air Lines Masterworks Series concerts in October.

As Dausgaard’s work visa process continues to be severely stalled due to COVID-19-related travel issues, the Seattle Symphony has confirmed two renowned guest conductors as substitutes. Eight-time Grammy winner Giancarlo Guerrero will take to the podium on October 7 and 9 for vibrant concerts that include Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances and Arturo Márquez’s Fandango, a new violin concerto featuring revered soloist Anne Akiko Meyers. Meyers will be performing instead of the previously announced violinist, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, who also encountered pandemic travel restrictions. Music lovers can also stream the October 7 concert on Seattle Symphony Live. Then, on October 14 and 16, Stefan Asbury will make his Seattle Symphony debut for a performance featuring soprano and composer Adeliia Faizullina and her Tatar Folk Songs, which won the Seattle Symphony’s 2020 Celebrate Asia Composition Competition.

Filed under: music news, Seattle Symphony

Rebecca Saunders World Premiere at Lucerne Festival

The British-born, Berlin-residing Rebecca Saunders is this summer’s composer-in-residence at Lucerne Festival. Tonight brings the culminating event of her residency: the world premiere of her piano concerto to an utterance. She wrote it while working closely with the soloist Nicholas Hodges, in her signature fashion, to explore aspects of the instrument’s sound potential.

The premiere was originally to have taken place last summer and had to be postponed because of the pandemic. In another twist, Ivan Volkov, who was originally scheduled to conduct, had to bow out just last week for reasons of health. Composer-conductor Enno Poppe will lead the newly named Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra. They will then take the work to Musicfest Berlin.

“The solo piano within this concerto was conceived as a disembodied voice,” explains Saunders. “It seeks to tell its own story, wavering, almost painfully, inevitably failing to sustain its uncertain striving. It seeks to attain the silence of its end through its own excessive speaking: an incessant, compulsive soliloquy on the precipice of non-being.” 

The clip above is from a piece titled “Study,” based on the solo part, that Saunders presented last year at the Musikfest Berlin.

to an utterance is the tenth in the series of Roche Commissions sponsored by the pharmaceutical giant Roche. The latest composer to be commissioned has also been announced: Thomas Adés, who will write a violin concerto for Anne-Sophie Mutter to be unveiled in the summer of 2022.

Filed under: Lucerne Festival, music news, Rebecca Saunders, Roche Commissions, Thomas Adès

2021 George Enescu Festival

The 25th annual George Enescu Festival is now underway in the composer’s native Romania. This year’s edition, held between 28 August and 26 September 26, is presenting over 3,500 international and Romanian artists. Most of the performances take place in Bucharest, but some are planned for other cities around Romania.

Paavo Järvi conducted the George Enescu Philharmonic Orchestra in the opening night concert–Ensecu’s Romanian Rhapsody Op. 11, no. 2, the Sibelius Violin Concerto, and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 on Saturday, with Hilary Hahn as the soloist. A complete listing of events programmed for this ambitious festival can be found here.

Filed under: George Enescu, music festivals, music news

Seattle Opera Returns with an Abridged Concert Walküre

Saturday evening, 28 August, at Seattle Center, starting at 7pm, Seattle Opera returns to performance with a live audience with a “Welcome Back Concert” consisting of highlights from Die Walküre. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend this special outdoor opera performance, which I’m chagrined I will have to miss.

It’s sold out but jumbo screens will allow anyone who strolls down to the Seattle Center Campus to enjoy the performance at various non-ticketed areas.

The cast: Angela MeadeEric OwensAlexandra LoBianco (most recently Seattle Opera’s Tosca), Raymond Aceto, and Brandon Jovanovich. The Seattle Symphony Orchestra will be led by the group’s former leader Maestro Ludovic Morlot.

Filed under: Ludovic Morlot, music news, Seattle Opera, Seattle Symphony

Houses of Zodiac: Poems for Cello

I’m looking forward to Houses of Zodiac: Poems for Cellothe first album collaboration between Paola Prestini and former Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Zeigler (her husband).

Zodiac presents Zeigler’s performances of Prestini’s solo cello works, along with poetic interludes featuring the writings of Anaïs Nin (which are read by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings fame), Pablo Neruda, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Natasha Trethewey. The album also includes Prestini’s score for We Breathe Again, an award-winning documentary performed by musicians Tanya Tagaq and Nels Cline and others.

Filmmaker Murat Eyuboglu has additionally created a full-length film featuring dance and choreography by Butoh master Dai Matsuoka and New York City Ballet soloist and “Rogue Ballerina” Georgina Pazcoguin.

Filed under: music news, new music

Michael Morgan RIP (1957-2021)

It’s heartbreaking to learn of the death on Friday of Michael Morgan, a much-loved conductor and generous colleague who devoted three decades to his work with the Oakland Symphony. “Our entire organization is grieving a profound loss,” Jim Hasler, the Symphony’s Board Chair said. “Michael’s impact on our community and the national orchestra field cannot be overstated – and he has left us too soon.

Writes Joshua Kosman in his touching tribute: “Michael was an excellent conductor, but more than that, he was a superb music director. His overall ambition was less to perform the symphonies of Beethoven or Schubert well — though naturally that was also part of the plan — than to find ways for the Oakland Symphony to be a force for good, in both the artistic and the civic arena. That’s why his programming was so restless and innovative, so devoted to championing the work of the underrepresented and the little-known.”

“In the manner of an older generation of conductors who came to an area and stayed put, Mr. Morgan spent the last 30 years of his life mostly in the Bay Area and its environs,” according to Tim Page in his Washington Post obituary.

Here’s a sample of Michael Morgan’s artistry — a clip of him conducting the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra in John Corigliano’s 1977 Clarinet Concerto:

Filed under: conductors, music news

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