Welcome to Play On, California! A daily update on how musicians here in the Golden State are keeping the music playing while they’re sheltering in place. While the concert halls are dark, tune in to KDFC weekdays at noon as we shine the spotlight on our great California musicians. We’re also updating this blog daily, highlighting in detail some of the incredible efforts taken on by our arts communities to share music on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, their own websites and more! If you have any favorites to add, let us know in the comments. Music Heals. The Arts Unite. Play on!
The audience is virtual, but the members of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Orchestra streamed a concert program this past weekend, led by conductor Michael Morgan. The masked players were spaced apart on the stage, and the number of players was reduced, especially in the winds and brass. But the program of works by Revueltas, Mozart, Adolphus Hailstork, and Ibert went on, and they were joined for Hailstork’s “Two Romances” by faculty violist Dimitri Murrath.
A short documentary that links a young composer’s love of music to his grandfather’s cross-country travels during the Jim Crow era has been shortlisted for an Academy Award. “A Concerto is a Conversation” tells of the world premiere of Kris Bowers’ violin concerto called “For a Younger Self,” which took place at Walt Disney Concert Hall at the end of January 2020. The composer, who has written the score for 2018’s Green Book and Netflix’s Bridgerton series, wanted to get to know more about the life of his 91-year-old grandfather, Horace Bowers, Sr. He built a career in the clothes cleaning business, after coming to Los Angeles to try to leave the racism he encountered in Florida behind him, and avoid the cold weather of Northern cities. It’s a loving tribute from a grandchild to the grandfather who enabled him to follow his dream.
Wotan, Siegfried, Brünnhilde, the Norns and the Rhine Maidens all return as San Francisco Opera begins a month-long Ring festival. Each weekend, they’ll be streaming the sold-out performances from the 2018 production for free, beginning this Saturday at 10am with Das Rheingold. On Friday, the Festival kicks off with the “Opening Salute” – a ticketed Zoom event with Director Francesca Zambello, conductor Donald Runnicles, and Greer Grimsley, who sang Wotan. Each week there are panel events with scholars, critics, and singers discussing the long and complicated history of the Ring. There have been seven cycles staged by San Francisco Opera, with the first in 1935, and five from 1972 to 2011. The spectacle of 16 or so hours of storytelling and music, with characters made up of powerful and vengeful gods makes for an unforgettable experience.
Longtime Los Angeles Philharmonic administrator Gail Samuel, has taken on many roles in her more than 25 years there, from being the Orchestra Manager to Executive Director; she’ll be heading east this Summer to lead the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Her most recent position in LA was as President of the Hollywood Bowl and Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. She’ll be the first woman to be President and CEO of the BSO in its 140-year history. And she’ll also oversee their performances at their summer home in Western Massachusetts, Tanglewood, as well as the Boston Pops. The new job begins in mid-June, around the time there’s a (currently) planned Tanglewood performance with Keith Lockhart and the Pops, rescheduled from last year.
Pianist Benjamin Grosvenor was just beginning a US and World Tour when the pandemic hit, forcing the cancellation of every remaining concert, beginning with an appearance in Santa Barbara. He says that it was such an upending of everything, he decided to do something he hadn’t done since he began playing piano… He took some time off, about a month and a half, the longest he’d ever been away from the keyboard. While in lockdown, once he returned to practicing and playing, he also “rediscovered the joys of simply sight-reading” random repertoire. Last September, when circumstances allowed, he was able to set up a chamber music festival where he lives in South East London, and have live performances with small audiences. He’s given some concerts – some with, and some without audiences. But he’s also just released a new album from Decca of music by Liszt, dedicated to his grandfather, who died at the beginning of last year, and was the source of all the music in the family. Grosvenor’s first teacher was his mother, but it was her father who introduced the young pianist to the music of Franz Liszt with “Liebestraum.” Here’s Grosvenor playing Liszt as part of the “Proms” in 2011.
It’s clear that in the world of Classical Music, women have historically been far less represented than men, but a British pianist and composer is claiming that she was able to conduct an experiment to show ingrained sexism. Annabel Bennett says she was being largely ignored when she’d sent her works to radio stations in the UK – until she began submitting them with the male pseudonym, “Arthur Parker,” and those works were accepted and played more frequently. The BBC denies the allegation, pointing out a number of local stations around the country had played her music under her own name, but Bennett kept up the false identity for several weeks, by communicating via email rather than telephone. Although the experiment will likely be skewed by the news coverage of her claims, she’ll have an opportunity to track the success of “Arthur Parker” soon, when she releases an album under that name later this month.
It’s a return to live performances from San Francisco Opera, gradually and carefully. They’ve announced there will be 11 “drive-in” performances of a new adaptation of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville in April and May. It will be without intermission, and sung in English, with performances at the Marin Center in San Rafael. There will also be three performances of “The Adlers: Live at the Drive-In,” a recital by the Adler Fellow resident artists, which will be held in the open-air. SF Opera also announced that they’ll be offering more digital content, with a series called “In Song” of 10-minute video profiles of six singers known to San Francisco audiences. The “Atrium Sessions” will have art songs and arias recorded in performance at the Atrium Theater. “North Stage Door” will be a new behind-the-scenes podcast. Also planned for the spring is a free stream of their 2018 sold-out production of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
A new “GPS-enabled work of public art” makes its debut in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park tomorrow, as Soundwalk becomes available. It’s a piece of music that you listen to through an app on your phone, and it changes from moment to moment… and place to place, depending on where you are. The music and sound design is by composer Ellen Reid, who is joined in parts by Kronos Quartet. Since the performance you hear is based on your position and route, no two listeners’ experiences will be identical. It’s able to be enjoyed while getting fresh air and remaining socially distant. (There are also sonic “Easter eggs” to discover.) This is the third of these projects to have been ‘installed’ – there’s one in New York City’s Central Park too. CAP UCLA commissioned the L.A. version of the piece and, with Ellen Reid, chose Griffith Park as the location.
It’s an opportunity for Opera and New Music fans to have a chance to hear what life – and composing music – is like for Jake Heggie these days, as performances have been curtailed because of the pandemic. This Saturday at 2pm, the Amateur Music Network hosts a conversation called “At Home with Jake Heggie” (composer of Dead Man Walking and Moby Dick) moderated by “long time friend and self-proclaimed music wannabe”, David Landis. The Amateur Music Network is a (currently virtual) meeting place where music lovers of all abilities can come together to learn more and make connections within the musical world. The hour-long chat should be casual and an interesting perspective; among the many cancellations and postponements (in an industry that makes plans years and years ahead of schedule) there was to have been a new production of Dead Man Walking at the Met in New York this Spring. In addition to his busy composing schedule, Heggie is also in demand as a pianist and accompanist (as seen in this collaboration with cellist Matt Haimovitz and mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton):
The astronomical lunar new year is here already, but the San Francisco Symphony will be celebrating its annual musical celebration this upcoming Saturday afternoon. It’s called “Chinese New Year Virtual Celebration: Year of the Ox,” with musicians from the Symphony led by conductor Ming Luke, and joined by guest soloists playing traditional instruments. The digital concert event will be hosted by actress Joan Chen, and streaming for free on the new SFSymphony+ website, as well as on NBC Bay Area at 4pm. The program includes contemporary and traditional tunes that reflect the themes and qualities of the Year of the Ox: “prosperity, unity, and growth.”
LA Opera’s new Artist-in-Residence is getting off to a running start, as tenor Russell Thomas curated his first program in the newly returning After Hours recital series, called “Black Love.” It offers a selection of love songs by African-American composers, including H.T. Burleigh, Undine Smith Moore, and Margaret Bonds. Singers Ashley Faatoalia, Tiffany Townsend and Alaysha Fox performed in the Valentine’s Day-inspired program. Thomas will be returning to the LA Opera stage as part of his residency, with starring roles at least once per season, beginning with a performance as Radames in Aida, in May through June of 2022. There are also two training programs that Thomas will be heading up, one for singers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and another mentoring young singers from LA public high schools in underserved communities.
If you’ve ever wondered what being serenaded by an opera singer feels like, Opera San Jose is offering (as part of its ‘Unique Experiences’ program) a Valentine’s Day-inspired virtual singing telegram, with five of their resident artists singing from a selection of romantic ballads. Not, strictly speaking, operatic love songs, although tenor Carlos Santelli will be singing the song “Be My Love,” made famous by Mario Lanza. His Valentine (and wife), mezzo-soprano Ashley Dixon, will sing “La Vie en Rose.” The other tunes are “‘Til There Was You” from The Music Man, sung by Maya Kherani, baritone Eugene Brancoveanu with “As Time Goes By,” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love” performed by baritone Nathan Stark. The performances will be accompanied by pianist Veronika Agranov-Dafoe. Here she accompanies Eugene Brancoveanu in some Mozart…
The popularity of Netflix’s historical romance Bridgerton has also boosted the popularity, streams and downloads of an LA-based collective of musicians and arrangers known as Vitamin String Quartet. For more than 20 years, they’ve been taking contemporary songs, from Pop, Rock, and many more genres, and arranging them for chamber ensembles, primarily string quartet. And so when the society ladies and gentlemen are dancing in 1820’s London, don’t be surprised if the quartet in the corner is playing the 2019 song “Thank u, Next” by Ariana Grande.
California Symphony has brought back its popular “Fresh Look” program, a virtual primer in the basics of orchestral music, and some of its long history, led by Scott Foglesong. He’s been a faculty member at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for more than 40 years. The four “Fresh Look: Rewind” classes stream on Thursday evenings in February, staying available on demand through the end of March. They’ll be supplemented with new online course materials, as well as a new live Q and A with Foglesong and Music Director Donato Cabrera with the final class. The cost is $25 per household for all four lectures.
The Luna Composition Lab program was founded at the Kaufman Music Center in New York in 2018 by composers Missy Mazzoli and Ellen Reid, to provide “mentorship and performance opportunities to young composers who are female-identifying, non-binary, or gender non-conforming.” The aim is to help balance the gender inequity found in classical composers, which tends to be overwhelmingly male. This afternoon five of the East Coast fellows from the 2019-20 season, and three composer fellows from California (Anya Lagman, Chloe Villamayor, and Emily Webster-Zuber) will have their works premiered by musicians from Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in a program called Luna Lab Meets LACO. Here’s a little more background about the project, from its founders.
In past years, Chamber Music San Francisco brought soloists from around the globe to three locations in the Bay Area: San Francisco, Walnut Creek, and Palo Alto. But the five upcoming concerts between this weekend through April 24th, they’ll instead take audiences to locations around the world, for specially recorded performances. The series begins this Saturday evening with a recital by pianist Olga Kern recorded in Moscow, and is followed by violinist Mayuko Kamio from Japan on March 6th. Calefax, the Amsterdam-based “reed quintet” that shakes up expectations both in their instrumentation (with no flute or French horn, but instead oboe, clarinet, alto saxophone, bass clarinet, and bassoon) as well as in their programming. The Arod Quartet from Paris debuts on April 10th, and cellist Mischa Maisky rounds out the series with a program from Brussels (joined by his daughter Lily on piano, and son Sascha playing violin).
A $50,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts will enable the Los Angeles Master Chorale to continue finding virtual ways to make music together while the Walt Disney Concert Hall remains closed due to the pandemic. The choir has created several composite performances, and two more that will be premiering soon at their mid-May gala will show off all 100 of their singers. One is by composer Meredith Monk, “Earth Seen from Above,” from her opera called Atlas, and the other is “Ready, Bright,” commissioned by the Master Chorale from composer Derrick Spiva, Jr. Along with Reena Esmail’s “TaReKiTa” video from last November (below) they’ll make up a triptych they’re calling Shine Bright.
Timo Andres does double duty in launching San Francisco Performances’ new addition to their “Front Row” series. Despite the name, the Front Row Premium series of concerts are free, and include some longtime musical friends of SF Performances. First up, both this Thursday and also on the 25th is composer and pianist Timo Andres. The first recital will juxtapose the music of Franz Schubert and Philip Glass, and the second has repertoire that stretches from Couperin through John Adams and (jazz pianist and composer) Sir Roland Hanna. He’ll be followed by pianist Jonathan Biss with a Beethoven program on March 4th, and guitarist Jason Vieaux on March 18th. These concerts are being newly recorded for these releases – Andres and Biss had been scheduled in 2020-2021 season concerts that had to be cancelled.
Musicians returning – virtually – to their alma mater. Alumni of the Colburn School are coming together in chamber configurations for a series of concerts called “Next Up” starting this Saturday. The initial program, a string trio arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations will feature Grace Park, the winner of the 2018 Naumberg International Violin Competition, Ben Ullery a Colburn alum who teaches there and is the LA Phil’s Assistant Principal Viola, and Robert deMaine, the LA Phil’s Principal Cello. There are a total of five concerts (free with registration) with eclectic programming, including the trumpet and bass trombone duo that call themselves “The Two Gabagools” playing on March 13th. There are also programs featuring clarinetist Alicia Lee (Conservatory ‘08), as well as a piano and cello duo, and a “Popular and Modern Music Jukebox” to finish the series on May 29th.
This week will mark the West Coast premiere of the filmed song cycle Breathing Free, by New York-based Heartbeat Opera. It’s presented by The Broad Stage this Wednesday and Saturday (and at the Mondavi Center on the 20th and 27th.) In 2018, they took the spirit of Beethoven’s “Prisoner’s Chorus” and brought it up to the present, by teaming with several prison choirs in the US, and recording their performances to be used in their production of Fidelio. This “visual album” includes that chorus, as well as a few arias from Fidelio, side by side with spirituals and works by African-American composers. The intersection of the fight for social justice, as well as the dangers of being incarcerated during a pandemic come together in Breathing Free, and there will be panel discussions (“Stories of Transformation – Artists share about their creative and inspiring work with prison populations” and “Advocates for Change – Local policy makers and educators discuss their work toward restorative justice”) as well as audience Q&A sessions following the performances.
Tik Tok might not be the place where you expect to find the Associate Principal Violist of the New York Philharmonic acting goofy, but Rebecca Young has been having a lot of fun doing so lately. She goes by “ry_violamom” on the site, and posts spontaneous duets (after driving to an orchestra colleague’s house, running up to their door, and playing outside with them, masked). But her tour de force was this recent attempt (and successful attempt) to tell the story of Peter and the Wolf, complete with the appropriate musical examples, in under a minute – the maximum duration of posts on the site.
@ry_violamomPeter and the Wolf, in under a minute! #nyphil #prokofiev #funny #fast #music♬ original sound – Rebecca Young
For 45 years, Robin Sutherland was the principal pianist at the San Francisco Symphony, until he retired in 2018. He died at the end of last year, and Bay Area piano players will be presenting a concert in his honor through the Ross McKee Foundation this Friday evening, as the first of their “Piano Break” series of 2021. Performers Christopher Basso, Britt Day, Elizabeth Dorman, Jeffrey LaDeur, Jeffrey Kahane, Keisuke Nakagoshi, and Marc Shapiro will present a wide selection of music, as well as share memories of their friend. This video profile of Robin Sutherland was produced by the SF Symphony a few years ago:
Lumee’s Dream is an aria from the opera p r i s m, by composer Ellen Reid and librettist Roxie Perkins. It’s from the opera’s second act, and Lumee sings it while smoking outside a nightclub. It’s the latest virtual offering of LA Opera’s ‘On Now’ Digital Short series. The video itself begins with the subjects in sharp focus, but as Lumee sings the text “I had my favorite dream last night” the images blur and become fractal and kaleidoscopic. The short will be available on the LA Opera website through February 12th.
Gustavo Dudamel, on the podium, and in conversation – as the Los Angeles Philharmonic presents Icons on Inspiration. It’s a benefit event, but the program that they’ll be streaming this Saturday evening is free. There will be musical performances, recorded recently at the Hollywood Bowl, with works by Jessie Montgomery, Duke Ellington (in an arrangement by Terence Blanchard), Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Márquez, Romero, and Mahler. Pianist Yuja Wang and soprano Liv Redpath will also be performing, and the other guests, from beyond the world of Classical Music, are Julie Andrews, Common, Katy Perry, Natalie Portman, and Grammy and Latin Grammy award-winner Carlos Vives.
Members of the National Children’s Chorus have presented their Winter Digital Concert this past weekend, including a pair of NCC commission world premieres. The program, called “Nella Fantasia” gets its title from the final work – a choral setting of Ennio Morricone’s music from the film The Mission, set with a text that begins: “In my fantasy I see a just world, where everyone lives in peace and honesty.” The commissions are an arrangement of the song Sam Cooke made famous during the Civil Rights Era, “A Change is Gonna Come,” byTehillah Alphonso, and a new arrangement for treble voices by Eric Whitacre of his “Goodnight Moon.” He says in the concert video introduction that it was a favorite of his child at bedtime, and the original version arose as melodies presented themselves while reading the story aloud.
A temporarily closed museum serves as a concert venue for a performance from The Living Earth Show’s percussionist, Andy Meyerson. Along with dancers from Post:ballet, he performed A Natural History of Vacant Lots by composer Christopher Cerrone. It’s a piece he originally wrote as a quartet for the members of Third Coast Percussion. This new arrangement, for solo vibraphone, additional percussion and pre-recorded electronics, had its premiere in the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design at the end of last week. Andy Meyerson, and his fellow TLES member, guitarist Travis Andrews have taken their performances to unexpected locations, like the Sutro Baths in 2019 for a performance of Raven Chacon’s Tremble Staves, and have used newly invented instruments, like when they played Dennis Aman’s 24 Preludes and Fugues, which included movements for amplified Jell-O.
Musicians from the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra have presented a few “popup” concerts under the banner of – or actually surrounded by – a Big Purple Square… The PVC square has delineated makeshift stages so far in Alamo Square Park (with the familiar backdrop of the Painted Ladies) as well as San Francisco’s City Hall. It also serves to remind passersby and audience members to keep socially distanced. Here’s the video of the concert they gave at City Hall, contending a bit with Civic Center traffic and hubbub as they played music from Henry Purcell’s Fairy Queen.
Friday at 6:30, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra presents another of their “Close Quarters” concert programs, this time featuring two world premieres by composer Derrick Spiva, Jr. His Mother of Bravery, for chamber ensemble and dancer (Shauna Davis) “walks the path from fear to bravery,” and celebrates the “4,096 ancestors that each person is directly descended from in 12 generations.” All of those who came before had to live long enough, and meet to combine and eventually lead to who we are. The other piece is called Mind the Rhythm, for solo amplified violin (Tereza Stanislav) and electronics. There’s a pre-broadcast conversation with the composer that starts at 5:30. The performance will premiere on LACO’s YouTube page.
The program the chamber group called Ensemble for These Times will be live streaming this Saturday evening is called “Rhapsody: Music by Women Composers,” and eleven of them will be represented. It was to include ten living composers, with an additional work by the late Grażyna Bacewicz, but just this month, Claudia Montero died. The concert, and her piano trio called Buenos Aires in Tres will be performed in her memory. The instrumentation of the Ensemble is soprano Nanette McGuinness, cellist Anne Lerner, the season’s guest pianist Margaret Halbig, and guest violinist Ilana Blumberg. There are works by Jessie Montgomery, Jennifer Higdon, Missy Mazzoli and Caroline Shaw, as well as Anna Clyne, Tania León, Marti Epstein, Elinor Armer, and Vivian Fung. The program will be streamed at the Center for New Music’s YouTube channel, and you can RSVP to the free concert here.
For Mozart’s 265th birthday, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra is doing what they like to do every year – celebrate it! They’ve got a musical program that includes a Duo for Violin and Viola, the 12 variations for piano on “Ah vous dirai-je, Maman” (the same melody as “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”) and the Flute Quartet in D Major. Music Director Benjamin Simon will be joined by SFCO All-Stars Liana Bérubé, Tod Brody, Michael Graham, and Keisuke Nakagoshi. There will be a Mozart Trivia Contest, and the appearance of more than a powdered wig or two.
Wednesday is the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This past weekend, Seattle-based Music of Remembrance presented a virtual concert of works by composers whose music lives on, despite having been victims of the Nazi camps. The concert is called “Art From Ashes,” with works by better-known composers like the Czechoslovakian Hans Krása (whose children’s opera, Brundibár was performed at the Terezin concentration camp during the war) and Erwin Schulhoff, who was on the faculty of the Conservatory of Prague. There’s also David Beigelman, from Poland, who directed the Lodz Yiddish Theater, Dutch composer Dick Kattenburg, and Hungarians László Weiner and Paul Hermann. The chamber works on this program were written as early as 1921, and up to 1944. The players for MOR are members of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
The projects that have won Music Academy of the West’s Alumni Enterprise Awards this year have in common musicians using their knowledge and artistry to help others discover, learn, and enjoy music in new ways. They include a South America-based program called Music to Breathe 24/7, which arranged individual musical performances for patients with COVID-19 and their relatives. There’s also a mentorship program called “Composition of a City” on the South Side of Chicago run by the non-profit called LYNX, that introduces young people to Classical music in a curriculum that also includes rap music. Rich Coburn has received funding to create an online library of music for voice and orchestra by Black, Indigenous, and other Composers of Color. Tubist Cristina Cutts Dougherty’s “The Resilience Project” will chronicle pioneering orchestral brass players and teachers from the 1940s through today, and Red Light Arts and Culture will create a series of pop-up and walking tour concerts that are socially distanced throughout Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Over the past four years, 26 alumni have received a total of 320 thousand dollars for their initiatives from Music Academy of the West.
If you’ve ever wondered what’s going through the head of a soloist playing a violin concerto, or what it sounds like without the orchestra, Rachel Barton Pine is offering a unique opportunity to find out. In a program she’s calling “24 in 24,” the violinist is taking on a different concerto each week, and livestreaming an introduction to the piece – how she approaches and prepares for it, how she got to know it – and then she’ll play it through, unaccompanied. This is the way she first plays it for a conductor before rehearsing with an orchestra. The series began earlier this month with the Mendelsson, (previous episodes are available to ticket buyers on-demand) and runs through June. This Sunday afternoon at one, she’ll be taking on the Tchaikovsky, with upcoming weeks including the concertos of Samuel Barber, and Beethoven.
The San Francisco Symphony has announced its new season of Digital Concerts, which will be available on its new video streaming service, called SFSymphony Plus. They’ll be offering seven SoundBox programs, which build on their popular series that brought curated music outside of Davies Symphony Hall. Esa-Pekka Salonen will program three of them, joined by some of his “Collaborative Partners” (soprano Julia Bullock, composer Nico Muhly, flutist Claire Chase) as well as harpist and singer Destiny Muhammad. There will also be more episodes in the “Currents” series that they began this summer, exploring musical traditions from around the world that help shape the cultural landscape of the Bay Area. There are five episodes, about the influence of Indian Classical, Native American, Zimbabwean, Persian, and Klezmer music. The first concert, which premieres on February 4th is curated and conducted by Esa-Pakka Salonen, and is called “Nostalgia,” with chamber works by Freya Waley-Cohen, Missy Mazzoli, and Caroline Shaw.
“The Atterbury House Sessions” is a free concert series of chamber music that violinist Lara St. John is launching this weekend, with a variety of ensembles, quartets, duos and solos… the first concert features the string quintet Sybarite5. The home for the series is a mansion on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which has been described by the New York Times as “a charming, idiosyncratic collection of copper bays, oriels, greenhouses and other projections… plastered on to an old brownstone.” The house is celebrating its 150th anniversary, and St. John wanted to help fellow musicians (both financially and artistically) who have been unable to perform for live audiences during the pandemic. The concerts have been funded by private donations, so they’ll stream for free on St. John’s Facebook and Youtube pages.
Brass and percussion players from across the United States have teamed up for an Inauguration Day virtual performance of a pair of celebratory works: Aaron Copland’s classic Fanfare for the Common Man, and a piece inspired by it decades later, from 1987, Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman. The group of 14 musicians, led by conductor Marin Alsop, is called the Hope and Harmony Ensemble. It includes two California players, John Lofton, bass trombone of the LA Phil, and Barry Perkins, principal trumpet of the Pacific Symphony. The project was put together by the organization called Classical Movements, which arranges tours and travel (in safer times) for musical groups around the country.
It’s a flute-fest tonight on the PSO [email protected], when the Peninsula Symphony’s Music Director Mitchell Sardou Klein is joined by flutist Emi Ferguson. Her last appearance with the orchestra had her playing two concertos, one by Carl Reinecke, and a Vivaldi concerto nicknamed “The Goldfinch” which she both soloed, and reimagined as a composer (bringing into the mix many more birdcalls than originally written by Vivaldi). She has a varied background as a performer, having appeared with Yo-Yo Ma and the Handel and Haydn Society, but also James Taylor and Paul Simon. She also has her own group called “Ruckus.” She and Klein will have a discussion, and she’ll play several solo works by Bach, Debussy, John Williams and others. The stream, on the PSO YouTube channel, begins at 8pm on Tuesday the 19th.
There’s a certain symmetry in a recent recording of the work called “Equal Time” by composer Gernot Wolfgang. It’s a duet for bassoon, and both parts are played by Judith Farmer. She’s on the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music, and is the former principal bassoonist of the Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra. The piece is near and dear to her too, since she’s married to Wolfgang. The video of one of the movements shows her sharing a music stand with herself, differently outfitted and hairstyled, standing ‘side by side.’
A turbulence in the flow of blood provides the title of the upcoming album from the ensemble Imani Winds. A piece written for them (and piano) by pianist and composer Vijay Iyer is called Bruits, the sound that can be detected by a doctor with a stethoscope, which signals that there’s an abnormality, like an obstructed artery. Iyer used that medical metaphor as a critique of the US justice system; he was inspired to write the piece by the trial in the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012. The controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ law that led to the death of the young man is read as text in one of the movements, and the words of Lucy McBath, a Georgia congresswoman whose son was also shot and killed ends another of the movements. In the liner notes for the upcoming album, the ensemble says “Speaking our truths can help clear the pathways to unity… Important art leads to radical change.”
The Bay Area’s chamber orchestra One Found Sound has increased its efforts toward racial diversity in its programming this season, committing to programming a majority of the works in their concerts works by composers who are Black, Indigenous, LatinX, Asian, Pacific Islander, or other person of color. In addition to that, there are two separate efforts to create new works by those composers, both experienced and new. A New Music Commissioning Fund will have a $10,000 yearly commission from an established composer, and an Emerging Composer Award seeks scores from composers under the age of 25. The winning composer will be awarded a thousand dollars, and have their piece performed in the following season. Applications for the first Emerging Composer Award are open through March 15, and more information can be found at One Found Sound’s website. One of the composers of color that was represented this season was Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, who wrote the Sinfonietta that this Rondo is from.
Showing pride for its hometown daughter, the Oakland Symphony will be streaming a “virtual inaugural ball” program called “Oakland Salutes Madame Vice President” this Sunday afternoon at 3. (It will then be available on demand) There will be musical performances and words of congratulations in honor of incoming Vice President Kamala Harris, who was born in Oakland and grew up in the East Bay. Among the many organizations that will be taking part are the Oakland Symphony and Music Director Michael Morgan, their chorus and Youth Orchestra, the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Chorus, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Chorus, as well as the Chitresh Das Institute of traditional Indian dance, soloists like Van-Anh Vo and cellist Emil Miland, along with many others.
Nebraska of the 1870s is the setting for Missy Mazzoli’s opera Proving Up, which tells of the hardships of pioneering homesteaders. One reviewer described the work as “Little House on the Prairie Meets The Shining.” They had to create farms and homes that would meet the stipulations of the Homestead Act in order for them to obtain the deed to the land that they had settled. And one of the hardest of those hurdles was to have windows with panes of glass in them, something almost impossible to acquire and maintain in the harsh and unforgiving environment. The next “digital short” from LA Opera is inspired by that opera, and is a scene called The West Is a Land of Infinite Beginnings, which is sardonically sung by a sodbuster who’s been driven mad by the challenge. The short is streaming for free (with registration) through LA Opera’s site through January 29th.
Lou Harrison’s music, played where he lived, by the soloist he wrote it for… A new video released by the New York-based chamber orchestra called “The Knights” takes a movement of Harrison’s Concerto for Pipa and Strings, and brings it to the Lou Harrison House in Joshua Tree. The video (and the movement) is called ‘Bits and Pieces,’ and is divided into several different parts. The performance has five members of The Knights playing their western classical stringed instruments as Wu Man plays the chinese lute called the pipa. She worked with Lou Harrison as he was writing the piece for her, and is the best known player of the instrument today. In the final section of the movement, she makes her pipa sound like a Neapolitan mandolin. They’re all joined by dancer/choreographer Maile Okamura, who has close associations with Harrison’s music as a longtime dancer in the Mark Morris Dance Group.
The star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet fall in love on the San Francisco Opera stage again this weekend, with a free livestream of the 2019 season opening production of Gounod’s retelling. Tenor Pene Pati and soprano Nadine Sierra made their role debuts in those performances, both alumni of the Merola and Adler programs. As part of SF Opera’s “Opera is On” program, the stream will be available from 10 in the morning on Saturday through midnight Sunday. On the 23rd and 24th, there will be a stream of Saint-Saens’ Samson and Delilah, and the weekend after that, Verdi’s La Traviata.
At a time when there’s less light than other times of the year, a musical note of optimism: the LA-based new music collective called Wild Up is presenting its second ‘Darkness Sounding’ festival starting this Friday, running through Valentine’s Day. It includes a variety of performances, and performance experiences. On Sunday the 17th, Richard Valitutto will be presenting a concert of contemplative and long solo piano music that runs from local sunrise at 6:58 to sunset at 5:08. There are some events that audiences will experience through Zoom or Soundcloud, and others that will include more direct communication. Holland Andrews’ There You Are involves the artist creating an individualized piece and calling a series of audience members on the telephone. Odeya Nini’s I see you will have her come to outside an audience member’s house, and perform a five minute piece by appointment. There’s also a moving installation of large chimes that will take residence around the LA area for a week at a time during the run of the festival. Admission and access is through Wild Up’s Fan Club, their Patreon community.
Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal has announced that they’re going to have a new Music Director starting in 2022, and he’s known to San Diego audiences: Rafael Payare, the Venezuelan conductor who’s became the Music Director of the San Diego Symphony in July of 2019. He’ll be continuing in that role in both cities. Payere steps into the job left by Kent Nagano at the end of this past season, and already he’s getting a jump on the appointment, by being an Artist-in-Residence with OSM this season. This past weekend he led them in a performance of Brahms’ First Symphony in a free webcast. While young, charismatic Venezuelan conductors brought up in the ‘El Sistema’ program of immersive music education may be familiar to Southern California audiences, Payare is only the ninth music director for the Montreal Symphony, and the first from South America. In 2013, he married cellist Alisa Weilerstein.
Among the varied repertoire Julia Bullock will sing in her “Cal Performances at Home” recital with pianist Laura Poe, will be three arias from John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West, including one for the role she created at its premiere a few seasons ago. There are also art songs by Schumann and Wolf, songs from theater by Kurt Weill and Rogers & Hammerstein, and works by William Grant Still and Margaret Bonds. The concert will premiere this Thursday evening, and will be available on demand to ticket-holders through the middle of April. Bullock is one of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s “collaborative partners” at San Francisco Symphony, and has recently presented a “Tiny Desk” (home) concert for NPR with her husband, conductor Christian Reif accompanying her. Here are the two of them with a ‘song of comfort’ from Franz Schubert:
Memorable highlights from performances from years past return to the TV airwaves this Friday, with a PBS series called In Concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The series of six programs runs through February 19th, beginning with one dedicated to “Musicals and the Movies,” with Broadway stars Kristin Chenoweth and Audra McDonald. Other shows are called “Made in Mexico,” “Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl,” “Gustavo and Friends,” “Music Without Borders,” and “Fireworks!” The LA Phil is led by Gustavo Dudamel and others, including John Williams conducting his score from Star Wars, and other guests like Vin Scully narrating Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait.
Helgi Tómasson, who has been the Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer of San Francisco Ballet for more than 35 years, has announced that he’s going to be stepping down by June of 2022. He’s created more than 50 works for the company, commissioned many others from established and rising choreographers, and helped to expand the reputation and influence of San Francisco Ballet. This past year, he’s reimagined the season for the digital world, and shepherded new works for film into the world. Before coming to San Francisco in 1985, he had been a dancer with the Joffrey and New York City Ballet companies. In 2018, he created a showcase for new works from emerging artists, the “Unbound Festival,” which is planned to return in 2023.
In a room that once was part of the Beverly Hills Post Office, violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and pianist Fabio Bidini will give a “Sorting Room Session” recital of music from France. The Lovelace Studio Theater at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts goes by that apt nickname, and the concert, with works by Gounod, Massenet and Ravel will premiere this Saturday evening, with a 24-hour window for ticket holders. The other star of the performance will be the 1741 Guarneri violin that was once owned by Belgian composer and virtuoso performer Henri Vieuxtemps. The more-than-16 million dollar instrument has been on a lifetime loan to Meyers since 2013, and is so valuable because it’s remained in such excellent condition all these centuries.
Last February, pianist Angela Hewitt lost her “best friend” – the beautiful Fazioli grand piano that she’d been playing and recording with for 17 years – when movers dropped the instrument, and damaged it beyond repair. It had been specially built for her, with four pedals, and was the only one of its kind. She recently opened up about the experience of finding its replacement, which she was able to choose from a selection of five new pianos at the Fazioli factory near Venice. She had to wait until the Summer, when a travel ban had been lifted. She played each instrument, ruled a few out right away, and narrowed the choice to two very similar pianos. The first time she played the new one in public was for this livestream concert in November. She described the successor this way: “Playing it made me feel I had the world of sound at my fingertips… I have a new piano and a whole new world. Everything I give to it, it gives back and more, so I can really play the way I want to. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
The Santa Rosa Symphony will be continuing its new approach to concertizing in five more editions of its “@Home” series into the Spring. And they’ll be doing it with the company of composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for composition. She’ll be the Artistic Partner for the series, which Francesco Lecce-Chong will again lead with reduced forces in an empty Weill Hall. The performances will be streamed live on YouTube, available to the public for free, and subscribers have the opportunity to watch for up to a month, as well as having access to additional recitals by guest artists. The repertoire will include a work by Zwilich on each program, and there will be other women composers represented, from Mozart contemporary Marianna Martines to Jessie Montgomery and Caroline Shaw (the fifth woman to win the Pulitzer, 30 years after Zwilich). The first concert, on January 24th includes an arrangement of Bach by Anton Webern, as well as Mozart’s 39th Symphony.
LA Opera premieres 13 short newly commissioned works in a co-production with New York’s Prototype Festival this weekend. The program is called Modulation, and includes works by a diverse group of young composers and sound artists. Audiences will be able to navigate their way through the pieces virtually, as they take on subjects that include isolation, identity and fear. The “baker’s dozen” composers include Sahba Aminikia, Carmina Escobar, Jimmy López Bellido, Angélica Negrón, and Daniel Bernard Roumain. Ticket-holders will be able to stream the program from Friday the 8th through the 16th at the LA Opera website.
For most of the time, in conversation, when there’s a delay during a Zoom, FaceTime or Skype call, it’s not critical, or might not even be noticed. But that changes if you’re trying to do anything that involves being in sync with a person or people on the other end – like play or sing music. The JackTrip Foundation’s Virtual Studio allows musicians who are rehearsing remotely to cut that delay or lag down to the point where it’s almost imperceptible. It uses a combination of a hardware interface, software, and dedicated servers, which they’re trying to make as available as possible. The software is open-source, and the interface box can be built (by the adventurous or skillful) using instructions they provide. The speed of the signal is helped if all the users are within a few hundred miles of the server, and right now there are dedicated servers in both the LA and Bay Area. The beta testers for the technology were the singers of the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, who continue to use it as the word spreads.
The tradition of celebrating Christmas Eve with “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” goes back to 1918 at King’s College Chapel at Cambridge, and the radio broadcasts began in 1928. They were able to continue the practice with a congregation in attendance almost every season since then, but this year, for the first time, the vast Gothic church that dates from the mid-1400s will only have the singers, readers, and the recording technicians onsite. The only way to experience it is through the radio broadcast, even in the UK. We’ll be carrying the special as it happens, at 7am Pacific time on the 24th.
When you think of Artificial Intelligence, it might be as part of science fiction, or perhaps many of the devices and pieces of software that we encounter every day. But a new organization is interested in seeing how AI can give a boost to composers and musicians – and how they in turn can help create better AI in the future. DeepMusic.ai is a project that brings together violinist Hilary Hahn and Carol Reiley, the roboticist who’s one of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Collaborative Partners at the San Francisco Symphony. They commissioned composers to work with AI tools: introducing the software to their musical language, and then seeing what might be generated in response. In this piano piece by Michael Abels, the software’s material was then used and improved by the composer, leading him to new places. The hope is that by involving musicians in the process as AI technology improves, they can build creativity into the software more organically, and not as an afterthought.
The LA County Holiday Celebration is a longstanding Christmas Eve tradition, with the three hour special broadcast on PBS SoCal annually. This year things will (of course) be a bit different, but the show will go on. It will just be pre-recorded, which will give them the opportunity to have interviews and profiles of some of the participating groups. Included among them will be the Southern California Brass Consortium, the Opera Company from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and the American Youth Symphony. Suzanna Guzman will be the host, and the program premieres on Thursday from 3 to 6, on TV and livestream, followed by encore broadcasts from 7-10 and Noon to 3 on Christmas Day.
Augustin Hadelich demonstrates his chops as both a violinist and piano player in a video performance of a jazz tune called “Black Gypsy.” It was written by Eddie South, a virtuoso violinist who turned to jazz because, as an African-American in the first half of the 20th Century, he wasn’t allowed to have a professional classical career. South played in Vaudeville, and travelled, including to Hungary in the 1920s, where he heard and fell in love with the music of the Roma people, which inspired his playing and compositions. He also played with Stephane Grappelli in Paris. Augustin Hadelich is joined here by Quartet San Francisco, in an arrangement by the quartet’s founder Jeremy Cohen. Don’t let the calm opening fool you – there are some pyrotechnics ahead!
Earlier in the pandemic, the 180-voice Angel City Chorale created a video for the song “Sogno di Volare,” (The Dream of Flight) by composer Christopher Tin. It cut between members of the choir singing close to home by themselves, and sweeping drone shots of Los Angeles, with empty streets, and closed with the message “we will fly again”. That video gave them the confidence to try to recreate virtually their annual seasonal concert, which they’ve called “It’s Not the Holidays ‘til the Angels Sing.” Hosted by Artistic Director and founder Sue Fink, there are new selections with singers performing holiday songs from their homes, as well as concert video from years past.
It won’t be the big group march that it’s been in years past, but the organizers of Unsilent Night are hoping that families might take part in their own celebrations, more subdued and safe, around their own neighborhoods. The event dates to 1992, when composer Phil Kline, who had gone caroling when he was a kid, wanted to recapture that feeling of sharing music in outdoor spaces in winter. He was also a collector of boomboxes, so he decided to write a piece of music that was 45 minutes long (so it would fit on one side of an audio cassette) and have people carry boomboxes playing one of four parts that when played together, created the piece. Many years later, the music can be downloaded or streamed to phones. The organized march won’t be happening, but masked household members can recreate the event in miniature. “We can still celebrate by bringing music and light to the streets separately, but together.” Here’s a look at a pre-Covid era Unsilent Night:
This week has rightly focused a lot of attention on Beethoven, but the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra is going to be shining a spotlight on Bach in the next “Close Quarters” concert, which takes place at 6:30 Friday on their YouTube and Facebook pages. Also featured will be Jaime Martín and his flute. The Music Director will be leading the ensemble in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto Number 5, as well as being the flute soloist. He’ll also play Debussy’s work for solo flute called Syrinx.
The choral ensemble called Volti has commissioned several new works specifically for this first virtual season, and they’re going to be premiering one called Singing Puzzles this Saturday early evening. It’s by Bay Area composer Danny Clay, who wrote a work that should be performed and recorded over Zoom. The score leaves much room for improvisation and there’s also a bit of game playing involved. Clay has described the piece as “an experimental musical variety show.” The ensemble, led by Artistic Director and founder Robert Geary, is more than 40 years old, and has commissioned more than 100 new works, living up to their motto of “singing without a net.”
Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra presents its first livestream concert this Saturday, with a program that they recorded over a two day period. The dozen or so musicians were playing in masks, physically distanced, and tested for Covid, and played works by Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, led by Associate Artistic Director Gonzalo Ruiz, who plays both baroque oboe and guitar in the performance. The livestream will be on YouTube and Vimeo, and ultimately be a part of their educational outreach series for the Long Beach School District. You can see a sneak preview here.
The worlds of music-making and medicine might not seem to be likely bedfellows, but there’s a long history of doctors turning their attention to music as a means of relaxation or inspiration. Not so long after the pandemic began, a new ensemble was formed, which has never played together in person. The National Virtual Medical Orchestra is made up entirely of talented medical professionals. They’ve released several performances online, but this week they’ll have a chance to have a much bigger platform, when they’re playing in a free concert presented by Live with Carnegie Hall called “Music as Medicine”. Violinist Joshua Bell will make a guest appearance, and the concert will be streamed on Carnegie Hall’s YouTube and Facebook pages.
For the past three years, Bard College Conservatory of Music has hosted a “China Now” music festival, meant to foster the relationship between musicians in the US and China. This year’s online celebration, underway now, and coinciding with the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth, is on the topic of China and Beethoven. His music and life story – composing even as his deafness grew worse – has led to a great popularity and renown in China. But it wasn’t always that way. Artistic Director of the festival, Jindong Cai (who was Director of Orchestral Studies at Stanford for more than a decade) got his introduction by listening in secret to records that belonged to the father of one of his friends. In the late 1960s, Western classical music was prohibited as part of the Cultural Revolution, and was a punishable offense. Showing how much things have changed, on the 15th, there’s a concert of performances by the Shanghai Symphony of some of Beethoven’s best known chamber and symphonic works, and on the 17th, there’s a roundtable discussion called “Building Bridges Through Music: Beethoven in Beijing.”
The L.A. Master Chorale is hosting its Holiday Karaoke celebration again, this time online, live on the 17th at 7pm (although the video will remain on-demand through the end of the year. They’ve got some videos to help you learn the repertoire, guided by individual singers (some part by part, and then together, like this tutorial for the “Hallelujah” Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. There are some newly recorded works, as well as archived performances from past seasons. Grant Gershon and Jenny Wong will lead the evening, which is a mix of works for the choir, as well as many seasonal “Sing-Along” tunes.
There will also be pre-recorded performances during this weekend’s Ragazzi Boys Chorus concert called “Beyond the Stars,” but thanks to technology, the boys will be singing from their respective homes. They’ll be using the “Virtual Studio” which reduces the delay that is generally experienced during video calls to the point where it’s negligible, and they can be together, musically. The concert repertoire this Sunday at 4 will include a mix of holiday songs, as well as pieces with the themes of endurance and optimism.
The story of the indigenous peasant Juan Diego and his miraculous visions of the Virgin of Guadalupe is retold in music and dance in La Virgen de Guadalupe, Dios Inantzin, traditionally the largest theatrical holiday production in Los Angeles. This year, the Latin Theater Company will be streaming an archival performance of the pageant from 2009, recorded at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, and starring mezzo-soprano Suzanna Guzmán, along with more than 100 actors, singers, and dancers (including many members of the community). Juan Diego’s visions occurred near Mexico City in the 16th Century, and remain an important cultural part of the history of Mexico and Catholicism. The stream premieres at 7pm Friday night, and will remain available on demand through December 20th.
The Dover Quartet began when the members were 19-year-old students at the Curtis Institute of Music. During their studies, they worked with the Guarneri Quartet, who they’ve already been compared to. They got a Grammy nomination last month for their recording of Robert Schumann’s quartets, and they’ve recently been made faculty at Curtis, as the first in a new Ensemble-in-Residence program. That residency is multi-pronged, including teaching, performing around the world, and perhaps most importantly during the time of COVID, working with new technology to increase their digital presence. Tonight they’ll be streaming a concert especially recorded for Cal Performances’ “At Home” series of concerts, with a program of works by Haydn, Ligeti, and Dvorak. After the premiere, it will be available on-demand for ticket holders through March the 10th.
A holiday tradition continues at L.A.’s Skirball Cultural Center, as it presents its Hanukkah Celebration online this year, with a virtual Festival of Lights. There will be a community candle lighting and sing-along, with musical guests ‘Mostly Kosher’ playing Klezmer music, as well as the Ethiopian/Israeli singer Gili Yalo. For kids there will also be a retelling of the Hanukkah story with puppets, and (during the realtime stream on Sunday at 3) there’s a virtual game to win prizes. The celebration is free, although RSVPs to their website are recommended, and the video will remain available to watch on demand.
The most recent group of singers on the NBC TV show “The Voice” includes one contestant unlike any other they’ve had before. Countertenor John Holiday applied for the show after it became clear that the performances he’d been planning for his season were going to be cancelled because of COVID. (In February, he had sung in the premiere production of Matthew Aucoin’s Eurydice at L.A. Opera). Instead of singing Handel arias like “Ombra mai fu,” he’s astonished audiences with covers of standards like “Misty” and “Fly Me to the Moon,” as well as the pop songs “Summer Soft” and “All By Myself”. He was selected by John Legend to be on his team, and has made it to the top 17, thanks in part to the TV audience voting to “save” him last week, allowing him to continue without fear of being eliminated by any of the judges. The competition will continue Monday night.
The Israel Philharmonic is hosting a Pre-Hanukkah Global Celebration this Sunday (at 11 am Pacific time, when it’s evening in Israel). The two stars are film composer Hans Zimmer, and the young conductor Lahav Shani, who was named their Music Director to begin in the 2020-21 season. In 2018, he became the youngest ever Chief Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. The event, which will include performances by musicians of the Israel Philharmonic, will include messages of hope for the season, songs, and more celebrity guests, like Bette Midler and Israeli actress Rona-Lee Shimon. It will be streamed internationally for free, and is made possible by the American Friends of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Israel Philharmonic Foundation.
Composer Brian Baumbusch has spent the past five years writing music that’s very difficult to play in a live performance. He combines parts that are playing in very precise, but different tempos at the same time. When the pandemic forced performances to be recorded remotely, he realized that a larger work would be possible – and the UC Santa Cruz Wind Ensemble commissioned the work that became Isotropes. All the players would record their parts while listening to an individual click track, in more than a thousand fragments of different lengths, to be assembled by Baumbusch. Later this month, their recording of Isotropes (which plays on the word trope as a short musical gesture, as well as the “iso-” in isolation) will be released on Other Minds records, and CSU Fullerton’s Wind Symphony is in the process of recording their version, and Baumbusch hopes they’ll get a chance to play the piece live next year. They had an online premiere during the summer of an earlier mix of the UCSC Wind Ensemble performance:
At the beginning of the pandemic, L.A.-based composer Richard Danielpour was told by his doctor that his asthma put him into the higher-risk category, and that he should keep entirely at home. He spent the early days with frequent insomnia, finding himself waking up at 2 a.m. each night. He did write the libretto to an opera during those night hours, but he really needed to be able to sleep. He began listening to the recordings of Simone Dinnerstein, and found they were able to help him calm down and finally get rest. He had already begun thinking of a work he wanted to write – an hour-long solo piece of gratitude for the heroes of the pandemic: nurses, doctors, first responders, teachers, scientists, as well as those who didn’t survive. Oregon Bach Festival had earlier commissioned his The Passion of Yeshua, and when he was talking with them about this new project, they suggested Dinnerstein as a perfect match. The result is An American Mosaic, which will have its premiere this Sunday afternoon. She recorded the 15 movements at her Brooklyn home, and they’ll be streamed at 2 p.m. Here’s a conversation with Danielpour and Dinnerstein about the new work, which he says will have to take the place of the hug he wishes he could give us all:
Noe Music presents its last Mainstage virtual performance of the year this Sunday night at 7, with guests Rob Kapilow and the Horszowski Trio exploring Beethoven’s landmark work, the “Archduke” Trio. For years, conductor and composer Rob Kapilow has been presenting a series he calls “What Makes It Great?” – looking at the decisions made by composers that elevate a piece of music to masterworks. They’re calling this evening a lecture, demonstration and concert all in one, with the trio illustrating Kapilow’s talk with samples of the music, along with a complete performance. Kapilow says this work was written at a time in Beethoven’s life when he had retreated from society because of his worsening deafness – and looking at the music through the lens of that isolation is all the more powerful in these days of social distancing. Here’s Rob Kapilow explaining how his series began:
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s series “Close Quarters” continues with Appalachian Spring this Friday, in a performance of the Suite that has the sparse orchestration that was used by Aaron Copland when the full ballet premiered in 1944. The Suite is better known in its scoring for full orchestra from 1945, but the limited number of players is more conducive for these COVID times. The ensemble will be led by Music Director Jaime Martín, and will include on the piano LACO’s Conductor Laureate, Jeffrey Kahane. It will premiere on their YouTube channel and Facebook page, and then be archived on their website.
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