MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Musical America’s New Artist of the Month: Lee Mills

For this month’s column, I had the privilege of writing about this very talented young conductor:

When he was still in college, Lee Mills had a dream job of becoming a roller coaster designer. But the unexpected career path he ended up following has given the young conductor another way of providing some very memorable thrills—especially during the current season of turbulent twists and turns….

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Filed under: conductors, music news, Musical America, Seattle Symphony

George Crumb: An Appreciation

George Crumb’s final work: Kronos — Kryptos

Reflecting on George Crumb for Musical America:

The American composer George Crumb, whose innovative, theatrically charged soundscapes explored a new kind of musical poetry, has died after a long and far-reaching career. He was 92. 

Filed under: American music, George Crumb, music news, Musical America

Christina Scheppelmann Makes the List

Congratulations to Seattle Opera’s Christina Scheppelmann for being ranked among Musical America’s Top 30 Professionals of the Year:

“In January 2020, when Seattle Opera announced its next season, it was the first to be programmed by the company’s new general director, Christina Scheppelmann. She had arrived eight months earlier as one of only a few women to lead a major opera company, but after the pandemic lockdown set in, the season might have been lost entirely if not for her determination. ‘I don’t like to stick my head in the sand,’ said Scheppelmann, previously artistic director of Barcelona’s Fundació del Gran Teatre del Liceu. ‘Doing nothing and waiting out the pandemic was not an option. I wanted to deliver the season we promised, and I saw an opportunity to get it done within public health restrictions we needed to follow.'”

Filed under: music news, Musical America, Seattle Opera

Lee Mills Steps in to Conduct the Seattle Symphony in a Rare Program of Hannah Lash and Amy Beach 

Lee Mills with soloists Hannah Lash and Valerie Muzzolini and the Seattle Symphony (photo: James Holt / Seattle Symphony)

I reviewed Seattle Symphony’s latest program: a world premiere of a new double harp concerto by Hannah Lash and Amy Beach’s “Gaelic” Symphony:

SEATTLE — An unexpectedly last-minute round of musical chairs reshuffled the lineup for one of the most unusual and original programs of the Seattle Symphony season. As a double harp concerto, Hannah Lash’s The Peril of Dreams, an SSO commission, in itself represents a rarity in the orchestral literature. That it was paired with the seldom-programmed “Gaelic” Symphony by Amy Beach made the occasion all the more remarkable….

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Filed under: Musical America, new music, review, Seattle Symphony

Jesús Rodolfo: Musical America’s New Artist of the Month

I wrote about the remarkable young violist Jésus Rodolfo for Musical America’s New Artist of the Month column:

At heart, Jesús Rodolfo is a storyteller who uses four strings and a bow to give voice to his restless imagination. The young Spanish violist constantly returns to the model of narrative—even when discussing music as formally abstract as Paul Hindemith’s sonatas for the instrument, which rank among his favorites. Two of his albums to date are devoted to the composer’s sonatas (those with piano accompaniment and the solo viola sonatas). 

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Filed under: Musical America

Fidelio at San Francisco Opera

A scene from Act One: image (c) Corey Weaver

There was a lot of excitement in the air at the opening of San Francisco Opera’s new production of Fidelio, which had been delayed for a year for obvious reasons. Here’s my review for Musical America:

Filed under: Beethoven, Musical America, review, San Francisco Opera

New Artist of the Month: Liza Stepanova

Musical America’s New Artist of the Month for November is Liza Stepanova. Here’s my story on this fascinating pianist.

See Stepanova performing Reinaldo Moya’s Rain Outside the Church with the video she commissioned from Kevork Mourad:

Filed under: Liza Stepanova, Musical America

Opera in San Francisco

H&G-SFO-1

Act III of Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” with Heidi Stober as Gretel and Sasha Cooke as Hansel, production by Antony McDonald; photo: Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

The last few weeks have been so busy I forgot to post my coverage of a trip last month to the Bay Area. Here are links to my reviews for Musical America of two productions at San Francisco Opera (Hansel and Gretel and Manon Lescaut) and of a concert performance of the first act of Die Walküre by San Francisco Symphony.

Filed under: Engelbert Humperdinck, Musical America, Puccini, review, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, Wagner

Musical America’s New Artist of the Month: Hao Zhou

Congratulations to Hao Zhou, who is featured by Musical America as New Artist of the Month. Here’s my profile of this extraordinary violinist.

More on Hao Zhou here.

Video of Hao Zhou with Viano String Quartet.

Filed under: Musical America, violinists

Review of San Francisco Opera Season Closers

Orlando-Sasha Cooke as Orlando and Christian Van Horn as Zoroastro in Handel's Orlando.

Sasha Cooke as Orlando and Christian Van Horn as Zoroastro in Handel’s “Orlando.” Photo (c) Cory Weaver/San Francisco Opera

In addition to the wondrous Rusalka that was — by consensus, it seems — the highlight of the 2019 summer season — I wrote for Musical America about the company’s productions of Carmen and Orlando here

Overall, I found the Carmen deeply disappointing on account of misguided direction — direction that also worked against the cast. Orlando, on the other hand, was engaging and beautifully produced. Despite some miscasting, it offered an insightful interpretation of one of Handel’s richest scores.

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Opera made a bold move when it last presented Carmen only three years ago, at the end of the David Gockley era. It marked the first-ever North American platform for the highly controversial Catalan director Calixto Bieito, and — in spite of some flaws (the revival was actually directed by a longtime Bieito associate) — offered genuinely fresh perspectives.

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Filed under: directors, Georges Bizet, Handel, Musical America, review, San Francisco Opera

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