MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Musical America’s New Artist of the Month: Nina Shekhar

Nina Shekhar; image (c) Shervin Lainez

I wrote about the fantastically talented composer Nina Shekhar for this month’s Musical America column:

Questions involving identity have fascinated Nina Shekhar since she can remember. Coming of age as a first-generation Indian American has meant learning to navigate different cultural expectations not only in her personal life but also in her priorities as an artist. “A lot of my work is identity driven,” the composer explained in a recent conversation via Zoom. “Music was always a way of understanding my relationship to myself and to my environment.”

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Nina Shekhar: rockabye-bye (2020), commissioned by Lyris Quartet and the HEAR NOW Music Festival

Filed under: composers, Musical America

Zlatomir Fung: Musical America’s New Artist of the Month

Congratulations to cellist Zlatomir Fung, Musica; America’s New Artist focus for November. I had the pleasure of hearing his New York Philharmonic debut last summer at the Bravo! Vail Festival. Here’s my profile:

Competing with nature’s own surround-sound orchestra, open-air performances aren’t the optimal context in which a soloist can shine. But Zlatomir Fung kept me riveted at this past summer’s Bravo! Vail Festival, eager not to miss a single nuance from the moment…

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Filed under: artist profile, cellists, Musical America

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

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