MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

A Prismatic Program from the Danish String Quartet

Danish-Quartet-759x500

Currently touring the West Coast, the Danish String Quartet paid a visit recently. I now get what the fuss is about. Here’s my review for Strings:

The Danish String Quartet‘s contribution to the Beethoven 250 celebrations this season includes a tripartite North American tour. As part of the fall segment of this tour, which is currently underway, the Scandinavian foursome made a recent stop in Seattle. On offer was the first of the Beethoven-themed programs they are presenting under the project name PRISM. The performance launched this season’s International Chamber Music series at the Meany Center for the Performing Arts of the University of Washington.

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Filed under: Bach, Beethoven, chamber music, Danish String Quartet, review, Shostakovich, string quartet, Strings

An Enescu Discovery

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My latest piece for STRINGS magazine is on the very belated US premiere of an early string trio by George Enescu:

Fellow musicians — especially string players — have resorted to some striking superlatives to characterize George Enescu (1881–1955). Pablo Casals, a frequent chamber partner, once remarked that since Mozart, there had been no greater musical phenomenon, while Enescu’s student Yehudi Menuhin believed the Op. 25 Third Sonata (“dans le caractère populaire roumain”) represented “the greatest achievement of musical notation” he had ever known…

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Filed under: chamber music, George Enescu, Seattle Chamber Music Society, Strings

Finding a Way Back to the Garden: Caroline Shaw’s Music for String Quartet

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Caroline Shaw image (c)Kait Moreno

The May-June issue of STRINGS magazine has just come out, with my cover story on Caroline Shaw and her music for string quartet.

to the issue

Filed under: Caroline Shaw, profile, string quartet, Strings

Predictably Unpredictable: John Harbison at 80

harbison

Here’s my profile of John Harbison for this month’s Strings magazine:

From large-scale works for the opera house and concert hall to intimate violin solos, John Harbison has created an abundant catalogue of music that engages in an extraordinary dialogue between past and present. His compositions are typically atypical, as he continually seeks out fresh angles through which to reconsider the traditional forms, models, and styles that inspire him. Whether his references are Henry Purcell, J.S. Bach, Stravinsky, or the idioms of jazz, the result never comes across as a facile eclecticism. Rather, these are threads of a rigorously crafted language he has made into his own.

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Filed under: John Harbison, profile, Strings

Joan Tower at 80

My profile of Joan Tower, who recently turned 80, is in the September issue of Strings magazine (starts p. 27).

Filed under: chamber music, Joan Tower, profile, string quartet, Strings

Leonard Bernstein Countdown

It’s less than a week now until the official 100th birthday. Here’s one of my contributions to the celebration, in the form of my story for Strings magazine (August 2018 issue), which takes a look at Leonard Bernstein from a somewhat different angle.

Composer. Conductor. Educator. Humanitarian. Even the official leonardbernstein.com website attempts to cope with its namesake’s oversize legacy by parceling it into categories. The music world has yet again been attempting to reassess it all throughout this centennial year—when the absence of “the next Leonard Bernstein” seems to be felt with an especially intense pang….

August 2018-ST280 (story on pp. 16-22)

Filed under: Bernstein, Strings

Leonard Bernstein, with Strings Attached

My latest for Strings magazine is coming out in the August 2018 issue: a look at Leonard Bernstein from a somewhat different angle.

Composer. Conductor. Educator. Humanitarian. Even the official leonardbernstein.com website attempts to cope with its namesake’s oversize legacy by parceling it into categories. The music world has yet again been attempting to reassess it all throughout this centennial year—when the absence of “the next Leonard Bernstein” seems to be felt with an especially intense pang….

August 2018-ST280 (story on pp. 16-22)

 

Filed under: Bernstein, Strings

Pure Imagination: The Music of Augusta Read Thomas

My profile of Augusta Read Thomas is the cover story for the April edition of Strings magazine — part of its ongoing American Masters series.

It was a genuine pleasure to have this opportunity to write about such a wonderful and engaging composer — and committed musical citizen.

continue reading (opens as PDF)

Filed under: American music, Augusta Read Thomas, Strings

John Corigliano at 80

JCJohn Corigliano turns 80 this Friday. Here’s my profile of the composer for Strings magazine:

Released in 1999, François Girard’s film The Red Violin crystallized an image of the instrument for many who don’t usually listen to classical music…

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Filed under: John Corigliano, profile, Strings

Stefan Jackiw Portrait

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Stefan Jackiw. Photo by Sophie Zhai

My profile of the violinist Stefan Jackiw is on the cover of Strings magazine’s February 2018 issue — and available online:

A sense of modesty may seem incompatible with the drive required to remain successful in the highly competitive realm of classical performance. Yet violinist Stefan Jackiw has made it central to his artistic credo..

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Filed under: profile, Strings, violinists

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