MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

John Harbison Comes to Seattle

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If you’re in Seattle over the next few days, don’t miss the chance to experience John Harbison in person, who will perform at the keyboard with his wife, violinist Mary Harbison at Octave 9 tonight. AND Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony give the West Coast premiere on Thursday and Saturday of Harbison’s new work for organ and orchestra What Do We Make of Bach?. The program also includes a Stokowski Bach transcription and the last of Shostakovich’s 15 symphonies.

For more background on John Harbison, here’s my profile for a recent edition of Strings magazine:

Filed under: American music, Bach, John Harbison, Seattle Symphony

Seattle Symphony’s Octave 9

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Derek Bermel, left, and Seth Parker Woods perform in Octave 9, Seattle Symphony’s new performance venue. Parker Woods is curating… (James Holt / Seattle Symphony)

My Seattle Times story on the newly launched Octave 9 space and the upcoming 24-hour contemporary music marathon:

Octave 9, the name of Seattle Symphony’s new performance venue, hints at the sense of potential yet to be tapped: The modern concert grand piano is limited to a standard range below eight octaves. Designed for artists who want to reach for that metaphorical extra octave and beyond, the space has been outfitted with cutting-edge digital acoustic and visual technology.

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Filed under: new music, programming, Seattle Symphony

World Premiere of Dreamers

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If you can’t make the world premiere of Dreamers this weekend by composer Jimmy López and playwright Nilo Cruz, don’t miss the live stream of Sunday afternoon’s concert (3pm West Coast time). Esa-Pekka Salonen is the conductor.

For more background, here’s my preview of a work that could not be more timely.

Filed under: Cal Performances, Jimmy López, new music

Der Kindheit Verzauberung

Tonight was the final performance of Berlin Staatsoper’s new Zauberflöte production, directed by Yuval Sharon. Very happy to have been able to catch this — report forthcoming for Musical America.

Filed under: Berlin Staatsoper, directors, Mozart, Musical America, Yuval Sharon

Liszt Meets Dante

“It is hard to say what the characteristics of Dante’s Hell are. Turmoil, hurry, incessant movement, fire, roaring wind, and utter discomfort are there; but so they are also in a London house when the kitchen chimney is on fire.” — George Bernard Shaw on Liszt’s “Dante” Symphony — an amusing but facile put-down.

Filed under: Franz Liszt, music criticism

San Francisco Symphony’s 2019-20 Season

Here it is: Michael Tilson Thomas’s farewell season with the San Francisco Symphony has just been announced.

MTT concludes his quarter-century tenure with the orchestra with a season that features a notably more diverse lineup of contemporary composers than has been the case with his usual programming. The season will include commissions and world premieres of works by John Adams, Julia Wolfe, MTT, Ghiannon Giddens, Mason Bates, Camille Norment, Adam Schoenberg, Pamela Z, and Aaron Zigman. There will also be first SFS performances of music by Tania León, Allison Loggins-Hull, Wynton Marsalis, Jessie Montgomery, Steven Stucky, and MTT. All of this is folded into a programmatic theme called “celebrating the American Sound.” MTT’s beloved Mavericks will also be heard from again: Copland, Ives, Ruggles …

Also exciting is the announcement of season-long artist residencies by soprano Julia Bullock, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter (which include not only at SFS concerts but events such as recitals, SoundBox shows, and community initiatives).

Of course there will be Mahler: MTT will conduct the ultra-bleak Sixth, Des Knaben Wunderhorn (with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny), and — as the grand finale to the MTT era, leading us upward: the Faustian Eighth.

Oh, and did you forget it’s the “Beethoven Year”? Which means, for SFS, the Second, Fifth, and Seventh Symphonies and the Second Piano Concerto and the Violin Concerto, plus some all-Beethoven recitals (Yefim Bronfman, Igor Levit, and Anne-Sophie Mutter).

And Esa-Pekka Salonen will give a foretaste of his upcoming directorship over two weeks of concerts.

Complete press release here.

Filed under: programming, San Francisco Symphony

Derek Bermel at Octave 9

This afternoon, in Seattle Symphony’s new Octave 9 space, Derek Bermel and friends present Brooklyn to Ballard. The program, featuring cellist Seth Parker Woods, pianist Ethan Iverson, and Seattle Symphony musicians, will focus on the permutations of jazz and its inspiration on a wide range of composers. Bermel additionally collaborates with Seattle-based visual artist Barbara Earl Thomas.

Filed under: American music, new music, Seattle Symphony

Richard Wernick

Filed under: chamber music

Poetry and Politics: Sir András Schiff Does Double Duty with Seattle Symphony

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Sir András Schiff © Nadia F. Romanini

Sir András Schiff began a remarkable weekend of music with his appearance as guest conductor of the Seattle Symphony. My review:

For a long time, Seattle audiences have made clear their admiration for the artistry of Sir András Schiff whenever he comes into town for solo recitals – including one occasion 17 years ago, when his Bösendorfer had an unfortunate encounter with black ice while being transported across the continent and a replacement had to be found at the last minute.

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Filed under: András Schiff, Bach, Bartók, Beethoven, review, Seattle Symphony

Frank Gehry at 90

The brilliant architect Frank Gehry turns 90 on 28 February. He has had an indelible impact on the world of music, and at one of his recent masterpieces, the Pierre Boulez Saal — which he designed pro bono — the occasion will be celebrated with a concert of Boulez and Schumann. Honored to have written the program notes for this concert.

Filed under: Frank Gehry, Pierre Boulez

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