MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Rossini at the Drive-In, as San Francisco Opera Returns

Photo: Stefan Cohen/San Francisco Opera

San Francisco Opera is presenting a fully staged opera before a live audience for the first time in 16 months. I wrote about the opening for The New York Times.

SAN FRANCISCO — It feels almost too good to be true after a pandemic closure of Wagnerian scale: an audience watching a cast of singers enter the War Memorial Opera House here to rehearse and perform Rossini’s classic comedy “The Barber of Seville”….

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Filed under: New York Times, Rossini, San Francisco Opera

From Easter Island, a Pianist Emerges

Here’s my latest story for The New York Times. Deeply grateful to Mahani Teave for sharing her story, as well as to David Fulton, John Forsen, Gayle Podrabsky, and Elizabeth Dworkin for their generous insights.

“From her home, halfway up the highest hill on Rapa Nui, Mahani Teave was describing the power of nature there to overwhelm….”

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Filed under: New York Times, pianists

Whispers of an Italian-Jewish Past Fill a Composer’s Music

Here’s a link to my latest story for the New York Times, which is about the extraordinary composer Yotam Haber. He is the recipient of the 2020 Azrieli Commission for Jewish Music — one of three biannual Azrieli Music Prizes. Haber’s new piece, Estro Poetico-armonico III, will receive its world premiere on 22 October at 8pm ET via free livestream on medici.tv and the Azrieli Facebook page.

Filed under: commissions, new music, New York Times

Clara Schumann, Music’s Unsung Renaissance Woman

The 200th anniversary of Clara Schumann’s birth is quickly approaching. Here’s a story on her legacy I wrote for The New York Times:

Schumann is among the most celebrated names in the classical music canon — for most people conjuring the poetic and intense work of Robert Schumann, the Romantic master.

But when the Schumann in question is his wife, Clara, the name should remind us most of the frustrating lack of recognition still accorded female composers.

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Filed under: chamber music, Clara Schumann, New York Times, pianists

A Composer’s Final Work Contains ‘Visions’ of an American Master

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The composer George Walker died last summer at 96. He was a close friend of the artist Frank Schramm, who documented his final years in photographs. Photo (c) Frank Schramm

My New York Times article on the late George Walker is now online and will be in the Sunday Arts section.

SEATTLE — Last fall, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery began to display, among its recent acquisitions, a photograph of the composer George Walker. It shows him close up, his right index finger and thumb bearing down on a pencil with the precision of a surgeon, at work on the manuscript score of his Sinfonia No. 5.

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Filed under: American music, George Walker, new music, New York Times

San Francisco Conservatory of Music Gets $46 Million Gift

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Students in the Technology and Applied Composition program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Credit Sewon Barrera

My latest New York Times story is now online.

Thanks to MaryClare Brzytwa, David Stull, Emily Pitts, DuMarkus Davis.

Here are some sound samples from the TAC program:

Filed under: music news, New York Times, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, women composers

An Unfinished “Phantom Opera” Is Completed with Love

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Pauline Oliveros; photo by Allan J. Cronin

Remembering the great Pauline Oliveros, one year after her death: my New York Times story on The Nubian Word for Flowers:

Pauline Oliveros, the beloved composer who died last November, spent her long career experimenting — with improvisation, with technologically enhanced sound design and with “deep listening,” her term for a kind of heightened, mindful perception of sound.

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Filed under: new opera, New York Times

Alice Goodman: New York Times Profile

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Alice Goodman in Fulbourn, England. Credit Nadine Ijewere for “The New York Times”

My New York Times story on the poet and librettist Alice Goodman is now online:

When “Nixon in China” had its premiere at Houston Grand Opera on Oct. 22, 1987, there had never been anything quite like it. No previous American opera — perhaps no opera, ever — had so boldly dealt with recent political history…

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Filed under: Alice Goodman, American literature, American opera, John Adams, librettists, New York Times, Peter Sellars, Uncategorized

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