Classical Music News of the Week, June 6, 2020
Festival Music Director Alasdair Neale and Executive Director Derek Dean today announced that the Summer Season of the 36th annual Sun Valley Music Festival will be performed and presented via the Internet, with new programming reimagined for the online experience. These premiere webcasts will be specially created for the proceedings this summer and aired online as one-time only events over the Festival's three weeks—July 27 to August 19. Click here for the original Summer Season announcement. A further announcement of changes to repertoire and event formats will be made in late June and will include details on how to watch.
Since 1985, the Festival has brought together world-class musicians from distinguished orchestras across North America to perform three weeks of chamber and orchestral concerts free to the public each summer in the scenic, Rocky Mountain resort city of Sun Valley, Idaho. The transformation of the upcoming Summer Season into a free, online festival will allow musicians to make music, faculty to teach, students to learn, and audiences to enjoy music from anywhere, all while following local and national safety guidelines and practices.
Additionally, these digital events may be projected for viewers on the Lawn of the Sun Valley Pavilion, allowing audiences in Sun Valley to enjoy each concert outdoors with appropriate social distancing. The Festival is deeply committed to the well-being of its audiences and community, and any plans to welcome viewers on the Lawn are contingent upon being able to do so safely and in accordance with the latest health recommendations and guidelines (per rebound.idaho.gov). The Pavilion interior and seating will not be used.
For more information, visit svmusicfestival.org.
"Merdinger's Musings" on Mondays at 2pm Central Time
It is with great excitement and pleasure to announce my "Merdinger's Musings" blog has now been expanded to be a Livestream show every Monday at 2pm CDT ( Chicago, IL), in collaboration with IMMEDIA.CO (https://www.immedia.co/). The format is my own one-woman show, performing and talking, in a "Lecture-Recital" format. My past topics are already archived for your viewing on IMMEDIA.CO, and have included: "Mazurkas," "All About Brahms," "Intermezzo," "Prelude," and "Flora and Fauna."
This Monday, June 1st at 2pm CDT, I will perform a program on "Ragtime" piano music by some of the composers who have popularized this late 19th-century-early 20th century American music genre, including the "King of Ragtime"- Scott Joplin, as well as Joseph Lamb, George Gershwin, Claude Debussy, and William Bolcom.
Upcoming "Merdinger's Musings" program topics will be:
American Music from Stage and Screen, Famous Themes on Two Pianos, Introductions and Finales, Four Centuries: Variations, Liturgical Music for Piano, Music by Jewish Composers, Jazz Arrangements for Classical Piano, New Age Music, National Music Styles, Greatest Works of.???..., and much more!
See you all on Mondays at 2pm at https://www.immedia.co/
--Susan Merdinger, Steinway Artist
Student Musicians Salute Essential Workers
Students from the Music Institute of Chicago's Academy for gifted pre-college pianists and string players—along with their families and special guests—have created a tribute to healthcare and other essential workers with a video performance of the song "What A Wonderful World," made famous by jazz great Louis Armstrong.
The video was a project of the Nedvetsky family (Wilmette)—Academy cello student Jan; his sister, Academy alumna Natalie, a Juilliard graduate who begins studying toward a master's degree in piano performance at Johns Hopkins University this fall; and their mother, Yana—as a tribute to their father/her husband, Axel, a physician at Rush Medical Center.
View the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2OIul7mi7E&feature=youtu.be
--Jill Chukerman, Music Institute of Chicago
Salon/Sanctuary Concerts Responds to Racist Violence
We are devastated by the tragic death of George Floyd in police custody.
Our hearts are heavy and our souls are in pain for all the lives lost to racist violence in our own country and beyond.
We remain dedicated, as ever, to diversity and inclusion in our own series.
Every so often, we are sadly reminded that racism and intolerance tragically persist in our own field, and we ache with the knowledge of talent silenced through history by the poison of discrimination.
We will continue, as we always have, to reject any musician who embraces discrimination on social media or elsewhere, and refuse to collaborate with any organizations that embrace and promote such individuals.
We will continue to push the boundaries of conventional programming in order to confront entrenched notions of early music as an exclusively white European discipline, continuing to ask, as we always have, "Why is early music so white?"
Once live performance begins again, we will continue to expand our programmatic offerings into underserved neighborhoods whose populations are shut out from most performance venues because of systemic economic hardship.
While we are a small organization whose mission concerns music and not politics, we will continue to examine and address the political ramifications inherent in various programming choices.
Continuing to view history through the prism of music, we will, to the best of our ability, continue to address historic inequalities in our field, and in our world.
Black Lives Matter.
The Millennium Symphony Celebrates Its 20th Anniversary
June 3 marked the 20th anniversary of the Millennium Symphony premiere on the St. Joseph's Oratory site in front of more than 45,000 people! The Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) spearheaded the design and production of this historic event, unprecedented in the history of music.
On the 3rd of June 2000, at dusk, 333 performers and 2000 hand-bell ringers hit the first notes of a mega symphony lasting 90 minutes, based on the Gregorian chant Veni Creator. The public was literally surrounded by the digitalized sound of 15 sets of bell towers, 15 groups of musicians dispersed all around the audience, the Oratory's organ and 56 bell chimes and 2 "vintage" fire trucks. This was the world premiere of a collective work by 19 Quebec composers.
On location, all of Montreal's technical sound resources were deployed to ensure the broadcast of the work in what is termed "toupartouphonie" (complete surround-sound). An impressive array of lighting equipment had transformed the site into a scenic production area measuring approximately 1 square kilometre capable of accommodating tens of thousands of spectators", remembers artistic director Walter Boudreau.
La Société de musique contemporaine du Québec:
At the heart of musical creation for more than 50 years, the SMCQ dedicates itself to the appreciation of the work of our composers. Over the years, it has stood out on the cultural scene for the quality and scale of its concerts and activities, distinguished by their unifying aspect. To stay informed on all SMCQ projects, subscribe to our newsletter: http://www.smcq.qc.ca/smcq/fr/apropos/liste/.
--France Gaignard, Publicist
Orli Shaham Goes "All Out" for MidWeek Mozart
This week pianist Orli Shaham brings us the third movement of Sonata No.16, K. 545 in C Major, with her MidWeek Mozart. Available to stream for free beginning Wednesday, June 3.
"Mozart puts a lot of humor in this movement and some of my ornaments are designed to specifically add to that humor," says Ms. Shaham. " I definitely got playful with this one. Since I was recording it, I wanted to go all out!"
Orli Shaham's MidWeek Mozart gives you exclusive access to a different movement of a Mozart piano sonata, available for a whole week, FREE! Get your weekly dose of Mozart each Wednesday, and enjoy it until the following Wednesday when it will be replaced by the next installment, at OrliShahamMozart.com.
--Gail Wein, Classical Music Communications
Lady Solti Opens Indoor Voices June 5
In a salute to the legacy of Nichols Concert Hall (NCH), its highly regarded concert venue, the Music Institute of Chicago presents "Indoor Voices," a free series of weekly musical visits with musicians who have performed at NCH, including guest artists, faculty, and alumni.
Each "Indoor Voices" episode, hosted by the Music Institute's Director of Performance Activities Fiona Queen, will debut on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. and last about 30 minutes.
Artists scheduled to date include:
• June 5: Lady Valerie Solti, wife of the late maestro Sir Georg Solti and co-founder of the Solti Foundation
• June 12: jazz vocalist and Music Institute Artist-in-Residence Tammy McCann and jazz vibraphonist, composer, and bandleader Joe Locke
• June 19: award-winning violist and Music Institute Academy alumnus Matthew Lipman
• June 26: pianist and Music Institute faculty member Abraham Stokman
• POSTPONED: internationally acclaimed pianist Sergei Babayan, a Deutsche Grammophon exclusive artist who has performed at prestigious venues with the world's leading orchestras (new date TBD)
To tune in to free episodes of "Indoor Voices" each week, visit musicinst.org/nch.
For more information, visit musicinst.org.
--Jill Chukerman, JAC Communicaitons
Camerata Pacifica to Stream High School Graduate's Senior Recital
Eighteen-year-old Owen Espinosa's graduating piano recital fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic so, unable to perform in front of an audience, he and his family made arrangements to stream his concert on Facebook Live. However, a test broadcast of his program of Beethoven, Bach, Prokofiev, Chopin & Lizst failed to make it past Facebook's automaton censors and was blocked.
Invitations having already been issued, and gaining no assistance from the twilight-zone of Facebook support, Owen's mother came across the Washington Post article on Camerata Pacifica's streaming tribulations and wrote urgently seeking advice. Her pleas caught the ear of Camerata Pacifica's Artistic Director, Adrian Spence, "This is the time we're in," said Spence, "Global and national challenges combine with those thrust upon our children, some who should be celebrating their graduation to adulthood. We're all struggling to make sense of this"
A variety of options were explored but no solution found, at which point Spence offered to stream Owen's recital. "I was inspired by the similar actions of other groups. For a student, a full recital is a milestone moment invested with many hours of practice and preparation, so I'm very glad we can help. Good luck to Owen for Friday, and his college career thereafter."
Owen's performance will be streamed on Camerata Pacifica's YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/cameratapacifica
--Amy Williams, Camerata Pacifica
Alarm Will Sound Offers John Luther Adams's Immersive "Ten Thousand Birds"
Alarm Will Sound—"one of the most vital and original ensembles on the American music scene" (The New York Times)—has created a most unusual musical project under lockdown, turning the wide-open expanse of Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams's Ten Thousand Birds into an expression of loss for absent friends and communal music-making, made through one man's obsessive collection of personal electronics. The Washington Post ran a story about it today.
Circumventing "the new normal" of Zoom meetings and video-streaming, Alarm Will Sound's Artistic Director Alan Pierson—an MIT grad and lifelong techie—staged the piece on myriad screens and devices that he dug up in his Brooklyn apartment. Each screen shows a member of AWS performing their part (each musician plays the song of a bird native to or migrating through New York City, as well as sounds of wind and frogs). Pierson designed a path through the installation, and filmed the synchrony in a single 5-minute take.
The process was arduous and time-consuming, however it created for Pierson an emotional musical story that brought the members of his almost-20-year old beloved chamber ensemble into his home at this time of self-isolation.
Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEsxKxGSkg4&feature=youtu.be
For more information, visit alarmwillsound.com
--Aleba Gartner, Aleba & Co.
Second Edition of Mozaic Moments with Scott Yoo
Welcome back to Mozaic Moments, a series of video presentations looking at great performances from the past. In our second edition, Music Director Scott Yoo remembers a performance of Joaquin Turina's Piano Quintet in G minor that took place during last year's summer festival featuring pianist John Novacek, violinists Steven Copes and Jason Uyeyama, violist Caitlin Lynch, and cellist Sophie Shao.
Festival Mozaic has been a part of San Luis Obispo for 50 years, and we are proud to present the greatest musicians from throughout the world on our stages. We know that this is a pale substitute for an in-person concert, but we look forward to live performances resuming very soon.
Watch now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivvJnst2TxI&linkNum=1&campaignID=379448&patronID=1153220064&memberID=0f7e312e9448e6fed7cbc52ad891b3d9
What's Streaming: Classical (Week of June 8-14)
Monday, June 8 at 2:00 p.m. CT:
Tulsa Opera's Staying Alive series continues with tenor Aaron Blake singing Rachmaninoff's "Spring Waters"
Wednesday, June 10 as of 12:00 p.m. ET:
Pop Up Pipa with Wu Man: Episode 10: Xuefei Yang
Saturday, June 13 as of 12:00 p.m. ET:
Pop Up Pipa with Wu Man: Episode 11: Michael Berry
Wednesday, June 10 at 2:00 p.m. CT:
Tulsa Opera presents soprano Colleen Daly, singing Mozart's "Alleluia" from Exsultate, jubilate
Friday, June 12 at 3:00 a.m. ET (subsequently available on-demand for 72 hours):
Michael Tilson Thomas and New World Symphony to be featured on Carnegie Hall Fridays via Medici.TV
Friday, June 12 at 2:00 p.m. CT:
Tulsa Opera concludes the week with baritone Weston Hurt in the "Te Deum" from Puccini's Tosca
Friday, June 12 at 7:00 p.m. ET:
New World Symphony's NWS Fellows: Live from our Living Room
Saturday, June 13 at 7:00 p.m. ET:
Jennifer Koh concludes Alone Together series with new works by Kati Agócs, Vincent Calianno, Patrick Castillo, and Sugar Vendil
Tulsa Opera Cancels October 2020 Production of Rigoletto
Due to continued uncertainty surrounding the global health crisis, Tulsa Opera General Director Ken McConnell and Artistic Director Tobias Picker today announced with regret the cancellation of the company's October 2020 production of Verdi's Rigoletto at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, which was scheduled to open Tulsa Opera's 73rd season. The company is actively exploring outdoor venues to present a new, semi-staged socially distanced version of Rigoletto on what would have been the season's opening night—Friday, October 9, 2020—conditions and city regulations permitting. Any such plans will be announced at a later date.
Bang on a Can Marathon Hourly Schedule Announced
Bang on a Can announces the hourly schedule for its ALL LIVE Bang on a Can Marathon on Sunday, June 14, 2020 from 3pm-9pm ET. The 6-hour live Marathon will be hosted by Bang on a Can Co-Founders and Artistic Directors Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe.
On June 14th Bang on a Can presents six hours of nonconformist, noncommercial, boundary-smashing music from all over the globe. We kick off at 3pm with the ever-powerful Rhiannon Giddens and close off with minimalist guru Terry Riley. Don't miss a rare solo performance by the brilliant Roscoe Mitchell, 10 world premieres commissioned especially for the day, as well as performances by Conrad Tao, Don Byron, Nadia Sirota, Nico Muhly, Iva Bittova, Nik Bartsch, Pamela Z, and many more greats.
This is a free concert! But please consider purchasing a ticket! Doing so will help us to do more performances, pay more players, commission more composers, and share more music worldwide.
Bang on a Can is donating 10% of all tickets purchased to the Equal Justice Initiative in support of their "commitment to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting the basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society."
The Marathon will be streamed online at marathon2020.bangonacan.org, featuring 25 live performances with musicians connecting from around the USA, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Switzerland, Scotland, Italy, Ireland, Lithuania and more, plus ten world premieres of newly commissioned works.
--Maggie Stapleton, Jensen Artists
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.