MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

Cellist Jan Vogler and His Trio Venture into “New Worlds” with Bill Murray

Mira-WangBill-Murray-Jan-Vogler-New-Worlds-Tour-Photo-by-WP-Photography-Taken-at-Napa-Valley-Festival-August-2017My latest for Strings magazine (October issue):

Chamber music is all about knowing how to forge close partnerships. For the world-renowned cellist Jan Vogler, that instinct includes connecting to artists beyond the classical-music sphere. But he didn’t expect a serendipitous encounter with Bill Murray to lead to one of the most innovative projects he has ever undertaken.

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Filed under: cello, chamber music, programming, Strings

Profile of Cellist Seth Parker Woods

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Seth Parker Woods; photo by Michael Yu

My profile of the cellist Seth Parker Woods is the cover story for the August issue of Strings magazine:

“Question authority” isn’t just a political slogan. This quintessentially Socratic imperative is also characteristic of visionary artists who are drawn to challenge cultural assumptions that put a damper on the power of the art they practice. For Texas-born cellist Seth Parker Woods, pushing boundaries and definitions comes naturally—both for his own creative development and for his overall sense of mission.

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Filed under: American music, cello, profile, Strings

The Unstoppable George Walker

Tomorrow is the 95th birthday of George Walker. This American musical treasure remains creatively productive and full of insight and deserves to be far better known.

I was incredibly fortunate to be able to spend some time interviewing him for the profile in Strings magazine’s July issue.

It’s currently available to subscribers, so I can post only a brief teaser:

When he published his memoirs in 2009, George Theophilus Walker chose the title Reminiscences of an American Composer and Pianist. It was at the keyboard that he first formed his musical identity, starting when he was five. Precocious musically and intellectually, Walker graduated from high school at 14 and in the yearbook announced his intention to become a concert pianist — which is precisely what he proceeded to do, in characteristic Walker fashion.

Filed under: American music, George Walker, Strings

A Visit with Composer Jennifer Higdon

Higdon-ComposingMy story on Jennifer Higdon is now out in the current issue of Strings magazine:

Jennifer Higdon is not only stunningly prolific but one of the most-performed American composers at work today. Her style offers an appealing balance of the accessible and the imaginative, and it attracts top-flight soloists, orchestras, and chamber ensembles—like Trio Solisti, which just premiered the composer’s Second Piano Trio, Color Through. Higdon, who turns 55 in December, also contributes to musical life through her teaching and residencies at such institutions as the University of Missouri–Kansas City, where she is currently the Barr Institute Laureate…

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Filed under: American music, feature, Jennifer Higdon, Strings

David Del Tredici at 80

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Photo by Susan Johann

In honor of the unmatchable David Del Tredici as he celebrates his 80th birthday on March 16, here’s my new profile for Strings magazine:

The tradition of the composer-performer underlies some of the cornerstones of the repertoire. Think of Vivaldi the violinist. Mozart the keyboard phenomenon. Mahler the conductor—his instrument being the orchestra itself. But sometimes it’s actually the distance between composers and the instruments for which they write that adds a special flavor to the creative act.

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Filed under: American music, David del Tredici, Strings

Generations Ahead: Steve Reich

My latest feature for STRINGS magazine is now online:

Composer Steve Reich’s Three Generations series will illustrate the sea change in compositional language ventured by Reich and his peers and carried forward by younger generations

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Filed under: programming, Steve Reich, Strings

Alan Gilbert’s Legacy

gilbert-e1482347799819My cover story for the February 2017 issue of Strings is now online:

Two years ago, in February 2015, Alan Gilbert announced his surprising decision to step down from his position as music director of the New York Philharmonic

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Filed under: New York Philharmonic, Strings

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