MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

A Beacon of Hope

My latest feature in the May-June 2021 issue of Strings magazine explores how the Chicago Sinfonietta, founded by the remarkable Paul Freeman, has been pursuing the quest for diversity in the world of classical music:

From its very inception, the Chicago Sinfonietta was well ahead of the curve. Its longstanding commitment to the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion predates by a generation the present cultural moment’s demand for social justice.

Filed under: diversity, Strings

Nicholas Cords Offers Comfort and Connection with Touch Harmonious

For Strings magazine, I recently spoke with the wonderful violist and musical thinker Nicholas Cords about Touch Harmonious, his new solo album from In a Circle Records.

The story begins on p. 10 (pdf download).

Filed under: Strings

Multi-cultural Odes: Jessie Montgomery in Profile

Here’s my latest story for Strings magazine:

An unmistakable harmony holds sway in Jessie Montgomery’s creative work. Her attunement to larger cultural contexts is eloquent and persuasive. Take Banner, Montgomery’s contribution to the tributes marking the U.S. National Anthem’s bicentennial in 2014. A compact, powerful piece for string quartet and string (or chamber) orchestra, Banner confronts what she calls “the contradictions, leaps and bounds, and milestones that allow us to celebrate and maintain the tradition of our ideals”…

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Filed under: American music, Strings

YOLA: Shaping Tomorrow’s Voices Today

My story about YOLA (Youth Orchestra Los Angeles) for the new issue of Strings magazine is now online:

YOLA has become a signature of the Gustavo Dudamel era. Its creation predates his first season at the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2009 and shows the influence of the educational philosophy that shaped him…

Filed under: Los Angeles Philharmonic, Strings

The Miró Quartet at 25

The November-December 2019 issue of Strings magazine is now available. I wrote a profile of the marvelous Miró Quartet and their Archive Project, which celebrates the ensemble’s quarter-century milestone.

When the Miró Quartet started out in October 1995, a prediction that it would be thriving a quarter century on must have sounded wildly optimistic. “Because we were such different personalities in terms of musical approach and demeanor, we had a lot of fights and disagreements in the first couple of years,” recalls cellist Joshua Gindele…

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Filed under: Beethoven, profile, string quartet, Strings

A Prismatic Program from the Danish String Quartet

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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

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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

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