Classical Music News of the Week, May 11, 2014
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has received a $1 million gift from The Waverley Fund to name its Conductor's Podium. The gift is timely as the organization also announced the beginning of the public phase of its Campaign for the 21st Century, an $8 million comprehensive fundraising effort and the largest effort in the organization's history to develop vital artistic projects and strengthen organizational capacity.
This extraordinary milestone gift is the largest in the Orchestra's 33-year history, and will support recordings, video, alternative concert formats, touring, and the organization's signature Bay Area concert series. This visionary gift by The Waverley Fund reflects a deep commitment to the Orchestra's continued artistic excellence and honors the tremendous contributions of Nicholas McGegan, the Orchestra's Music Director of 29 years.
"It is an honor to serve as Philiharmonia's Music Director for the past 29 years," said Nicholas McGegan. "I greatly value The Waverley Fund's devotion to the Orchestra and Chorale. Their belief that Philharmonia's music should be shared far and wide is at the heart of their gift, and I'm deeply gratified by their generosity."
Ross Armstrong, President of the Board of Directors, remarked, "The Waverley Fund has always valued the uncompromising artistic integrity of the Orchestra and Chorale. This visionary gift is intended to deepen artistic innovation and preservation at this important time in the Orchestra's history. Their passionate commitment to period-instrument performance is an inspiration and a testament to their commitment to Philharmonia's continued excellence here in the Bay Area, as well as nationally and internationally. One of the finest conductors in the world, Nicholas McGegan has put a spotlight on Philharmonia. By naming the Conductor's Podium, The Waverley Fund has recognized the impact of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and its artistic director."
In 2010, Philharmonia's Board of Directors launched the Campaign for the 21st Century to help ensure the Orchestra's ability to pursue important artistic projects, maintain its superior artistry, and build organizational capacity in a changing cultural landscape. During this time, the Campaign for the 21st Century has secured just over $6.5 million in gifts and pledges.
--Ben Casement-Stoll, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Free Lunchtime Jazz Concert May 19
Eric Sutz, jazz piano
Wednesday, May 21, 12:15–1 p.m.
Music Institute of Chicago Black Box Theater, 1702 Sherman Ave., Evanston, IL
Information: musicinst.org or 847.905.1500
The Music Institute of Chicago is offering free lunchtime concerts and conversation one Wednesday per month. Lunch is available for purchase from the Pret A Manger Kiosk, and free coffee will be served.
For the May program, "The Great Chicago Boogie Woogie Pianists," Music Institute faculty member Eric Sutz talks bout the history and performs in the different styles of artists Jimmy Yancy, Pinetop Smith, Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, and a number of others. Sutz also performs several pieces of more contemporary boogie pianists, such as Dr. John and Allen Toussaint.
--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communications
Contact! at the Biennial, at SubCulture: "An Evening of Young American Composers"
A co-presentation with the New York Philharmonic and 92nd Street Y.
This season's collaboration between 92nd Street Y and the New York Philharmonic in CONTACT!, the Philharmonic's new-music series, is one of the highlights of the inaugural NY PHIL BIENNIAL, a kaleidoscopic exploration of today's music, May 28–June 7.
The series returns to the vibrant new underground performing arts space SubCulture on Bleecker Street for a program that is "made in the USA"— works for solo instruments by six emerging American composers, including five World Premiere–New York Philharmonic Commissions and a New York Premiere, performed by New York Philharmonic musicians. Marc Kaplan, co-founder/director of SubCulture, will host the concert, briefly interviewing each composer and soloist duo before their work is performed. All audience members attending this concert are invited to meet composers and performers at the bar in SubCulture as part of the post-concert NY PHIL BIENNIAL Play Date, one of several meet-ups taking place during the biennial. Biennial Pass holders will receive a total of two free drink vouchers redeemable at Play Dates.
Tuesday, June 3, 7:30 PM
SubCulture - 45 Bleecker Street (downstairs)
"An Evening of Young American Composers," Marc Kaplan, host, with musicians from the New York Philharmonic:
Paola Prestini: Eight Takes (for solo cello), with Sumire Kudo, cello.
Eric Nathan: As Above, So Below (for solo trombone), with Joseph Alessi, trombone.
Oscar Bettison: Threaded Madrigals (for solo viola), with Rebecca Young, viola.
Ryan Brown: Four Pieces for Solo Piano, with Eric Huebner, piano.
Michael Hersch: Of Sorrow Born: Seven Elegies (for solo violin), with Yulia Ziskel, violin.
Chris Kapica: Fandanglish (for solo clarinet), with Pascual Martínez Forteza, clarinet.
Tickets $25, 40
Tickets are available at www.92Y.org/concerts or 212-415-5500.
--Katharine Boone, Kirshbaum Demler & Associates
Young People's Chorus of NYC Free Satellite Schools Concert
Thursday, May 15 at 11 a.m. - 92nd Street Y, New York City.
Every one of YPC's 12 Satellite Schools is excitedly preparing to sing with and for each other in a free concert presented by the Young People's Chorus of New York City at the 92nd Street Y. Under Satellite Schools Director Elizabeth Núñez and YPC conductors Emma Brondolo, Cara Bernard, Maria Pena, Nathan Reiff, and Sheldon Ogbourne, the children-900 strong-will sing a program of music ranging from classical and jazz to folk and pop. The children are eagerly looking forward to singing on a professional stage on this joyous occasion.
Please come. The concert for all ages is free and open to the public.
For more information, visit http://www.ypc.org/
--Katharine Gibson, YPC
Young People's Chorus of NYC Free Transmusica Concert
Saturday, May 17 at 7 p.m. - Church of the Holy Trinity (316 East 88th Street), New York City.
You won't want to miss the next concert in YPC's Transmusica series, designed to build bridges to other world cultures, when YPC and Artistic Director/Founder Francisco J. Núñez welcome three award-winning choruses from the Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, Connecticut. They will take the audience on a musical journey that circles the globe from Russia and the Torres Strait Islands, across the Pacific through the U.S. and onto Greece, Israel, and Serbia, with stops in between for two world premieres: Quatro Colores by Jim Papoulis in Spanish, English, and Yiddish and Bobobo by Douglas J. Cuomo, based on a traditional folk song from Ghana.
The concert is free and open to the public with a suggested donation of $10 at the door.
For more information, visit http://www.ypc.org/
--Katharine Gibson, YPC
England's Philip Moore to Conduct St. Charles Singers May 17 & 18
Eminent English choirmaster and composer Philip Moore will make his Chicago-area conducting debut when he leads the St. Charles Singers in an all-British season-finale program at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 17, 2014, at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division St., River Forest, Il, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, May 18, at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles, Il.
This will be the St. Charles Singers' first concert in the River Forest-Oak Park area since the mixed-voice professional chamber choir was founded three decades ago. Titled "Bouquet of Voices," the capstone program of the St. Charles Singers' 30th concert season will offer the U.S. premiere of Moore's "At the round earth's imagined corners," a choral setting of a religious sonnet by English Renaissance poet John Donne. Brass, organ, and percussion will accompany the choir in this
Judgment Day meditation. Brass will include four trumpets, French horn, three trombones, and tuba. The percussion section will comprise timpani, snare and bass drums, cymbals, glockenspiel, and xylophone.
Spanning from the English Renaissance to the present day, the program of sacred and secular music, including arrangements of British folk songs, will offer works about peace, with Memorial Day in mind, and works celebrating the joys of spring. In addition to guest conductor Moore's own composition, the program will include Edward Bairstow's "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent," Benjamin Britten's "The Evening Primrose," William Byrd's "Solve, iubente Deo," John Clements's "Flower of Beauty," Herbert Howells's "Magnificat," Gustav Holst's "I Love My Love," Peter Knight's arrangement of John David's "You Are the New Day," and Felix Mendelssohn's "Verleigh uns Freiden." (Although German-born, Mendelssohn spent a total of about 20 months in Britain, where his popularity and influence were considerable.) Also: Robert Pearsall's "Lay a Garland," John Rutter's "Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron," Charles Stanford's "Beati Quorum Via," Thomas Tallis's "Miserere Nostri," and Ralph Vaughan Williams's "Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge," "The Dark Eyed Sailor," and "The Turtle Dove."
Tickets and Information:
Single tickets for the May "Bouquet of Voices" concerts are $40 general adult admission, $30 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students.
Tickets and general information about the St. Charles Singers are available at www.stcharlessingers.com or by calling (630) 513-5272. Tickets are also available at Townhouse Books, 105 N. Second Ave., St. Charles, Il (checks or cash only at this ticket venue). Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the day of the concert, depending on availability. Group discounts are available.
--Nathan J. Silverman Co. PR
Christopher Bono's Unity Inspires New Stop-Animation Art Video by Tobias Stretch
Video artist Tobias Stretch (Radiohead, Deftones) has created a new 5-minute animated puppetry, stop-action film inspired by composer Christopher Bono's choral work, Unity. The extraordinary video, constructed from over ten thousand pictures and created largely outdoors over the long 2013-2014 winter, is streaming exclusively on Alto Riot until May 15, after which it will be available widely on YouTube. A recording of Unity paired with Bono's The Unexcelled Mantra, performed by the New York Virtuoso Singers led by Harold Rosenbaum, was released as a digital download and on 7" vinyl in October 2013 on Our Silent Canvas distributed digitally by Naxos. Watch Unity on Alto Riot: http://bit.ly/AltoRiotUnity
Christopher Bono describes Unity and The Unexcelled Mantra as contemplating the search for a modern form of spirituality. He says, "Both works explore a path to transcendence or 'true being' through union with the cosmos – The Unexcelled Mantra from a Mahayana Buddhist point of view and Unity from the Western philosophical tradition of Plato."
Unity is based on some of the musical and philosophical concepts of Plato's Republic. The chosen text was taken from a section of the Republic in which Plato discusses the power of mathematics, but Bono immediately saw it could also be viewed as a metaphor for the phenomenon of meditation: "What is absolute unity? / This is the way, / In which the study of One / has the power / of drawing and converting the Mind / to the contemplation / of True Being."
Bono says, "This multi-dimensional observation was a key inspiration for me when writing the work, both considering the mathematical qualities of music and the esoteric concepts of achieving union with the All." In addition, Bono experimented with the power Plato claimed existed in the Dorian and Phrygian modes. According to Plato, the Dorian would "fittingly imitate the utterances and accents of a brave man who is engaged in warfare," while the Phrygian was suitable "for a man engaged in works of peace."
Of his video for Unity, Tobias Stretch says, "Unity is about the pursuit of oneness and absolute being. The biggest challenge was how to illustrate those intense abstract ideas through animation. A dream-like world unfolds where surreal beings drift towards a point of convergence, a street character is aided by otherworldly characters (perhaps real or not) towards a point of absolute oneness. Unity is about the transcendence of being to another level."
Visual artist DZO Olivier created the original illustrations for the cover art for Unity and The Unexcelled Mantra audio recordings, intimately influenced by Bono's music and the concepts it explores.
Watch the exclusive premiere on Alto Riot: http://bit.ly/AltoRiotUnity
Photos of the making of the Unity video: http://bit.ly/MakingUnity
Audio digital download & 7" vinyl available now: www.christopherbono.com
--Christina Jensen PR
Bang on a Can All-Stars Are Special Guests on PBS KIDS' Arthur, Wednesday, May 14
The Bang on a Can All-Stars are special guests on PBS KIDS's popular cartoon featuring everyone's favorite aardvark, Arthur, in an episode called "Binky's Music Madness" airing nationwide on May 14, 2014 as part of Arthur Arts Week, which celebrates the arts with three all-new episodes beginning on May 12. For the occasion, Bang on a Can is offering Arthur fans (and the public in general) a free download of the music featured on the episode, from the All-Stars 2012 album "Big Beautiful Dark and Scary" (http://bit.ly/BOACDownload). Two years in the making, the animated All-Stars lineup includes founding Bang on a Can All-Star clarinetist Evan Ziporyn, percussionist David Cossin, guitarist Mark Stewart, bassist Robert Black, cellist Ashley Bathgate, and pianist Vicky Chow. Bang on a Can co-founder composer Julia Wolfe is also portrayed and recorded her own speaking role for the episode.
In "Binky's Music Madness," the Bang on a Can All-Stars take Elwood City by storm. Everyone is intrigued by their funky brand of experimental music. It sounds like nothing they have ever heard before! Binky is skeptical though. A musical purist, he sets out to prove that their musical compositions are more noise than music. Recording everything from dogs barking to tummy gurgles, Binky composes his very own soundscape and attempts to pass it off as the work of a hot new musical group. But the joke's on him when all the kids – and even Binky – realize it's not only music, it's pretty good!
Watch a clip from the episode: http://bit.ly/ArthurAllStars
For up-to-date information regarding Bang on a Can programs, events, and CD releases, please visit www.bangonacan.org
--Christina Jensen PR
William (Bill) Heck, Contributing Reviewer
Among my early childhood memories are those of listening to my mother playing records (some even 78 rpm ones!) of both classical music and jazz tunes. I suppose that her love of music was transmitted genetically, and my interest was sustained by years of playing in rock bands – until I realized that this was no way to make a living. The interest in classical music was rekindled in grad school when the university FM station serving as background music for studying happened to play the Brahms First Symphony. As the work came to an end, it struck me forcibly that this was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard, and from that point on, I never looked back. This revelation was to the detriment of my studies, as I subsequently spent way too much time simply listening, but music has remained a significant part of my life. These days, although I still can tell a trumpet from a bassoon and a quarter note from a treble clef, I have to admit that I remain a nonexpert. But I do love music in general and classical music in particular, and I enjoy sharing both information and opinions about it.
The audiophile bug bit about the same time that I returned to that classical music. I’ve gone through plenty of equipment, brands from Audio Research to Yamaha, and the best of it has opened new audio insights. Along the way, I reviewed components, and occasionally recordings, for The $ensible Sound magazine. Recently I’ve rebuilt--I prefer to say reinvigorated--my audio system, with a Sangean FM HD tuner and (for the moment) an ancient Toshiba multi-format disk player serving as a transport, both feeding a NAD C 658 streaming preamp/DAC, which in turn connects to a Legacy Powerbloc2 amplifier driving my trusty Waveform Mach Solo speakers, supplemented by a Hsu Research ULS 15 Mk II subwoofer.