Classical Music Round-Up: January through March 2016

I’ve been on blogging hiatus for almost two months.  Here’s the low-down.

05maestra-master675-v2
Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic. (photo via)

It was announced that Gianandrea Noseda will take over the helm of the National Symphony Orchestra next season, while Jaap van Zweden will join the New York Philharmonic at the podium.  Two more white men in charge of major American orchestras?  No big surprise there, but Marin Alsop might have something to say.  Meanwhile, in Britain, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will be the City of Birmingham Symphony’s new leading lady, at only 29 years old.  *applause*  And another young conductor on the rise: 25-year-old Jordan de Souza will be heading up Komische Oper Berlin.

We lost some greats in recent months: business mogul turned self-taught conductor Gilbert Kaplan; pioneering composer Pierre Boulez; Pulitzer-winning composers Leslie Bassett and Steven Stucky; Dallas Symphony leader Louis Lane; conducting pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller; and — just today — maestro Nikolas Harnoncourt.

Now some feel-good stories: a Berlin horn player reflects on collaborating with Simon Rattle before the conductor relocates to London; Tafelmusik’s rendition of Beethoven 9 left one Toronto critic with nothing to criticize; bassist Jane Little just became the longest-serving orchestral musician ever, after 71 years with the Atlanta Symphony; and Ennio Morricone just won his first Oscar after working on the scores for over 500 films.

Mahan Esfahani’s harpsichord recital was interrupted by Baroque-head “rioters,” while scholars have discovered that the taxi horns in Gershwin’s An American in Paris might be pitched in the wrong key, and the Yale School of Music launched its first ever MOOC on Coursera.

As 2016 got off to an alarming start (Donald Trump, anyone?), diverse voices shone — from a powerful performance in a Harlem crypt in solidarity with Black Lives Matter; to violinist Rosemary Johnson and the UK’s Paramusical Ensemble making music through disability; to Julia Wolfe’s big-deal commission — a piece about American women in the workforce — for the New York Philharmonic’s 2018-19 season; to composer Georg Friedrich Haas’ open sexuality.

In U.S. politics, WQXR explored classical music on the campaign trail, while Bernie is, apparently, a gifted maestro.  And in the classical crime beat, an opera singer’s “screams” alerted Amsterdam police, a former St. Paul cellist was caught in a massive drug bust, and a rare French horn stolen six years ago was reunited with its owner.

In Iran, the women of the Tehran Symphony face oppression.  In Germany, an emergency refugee camp is filled with the music of a children’s choir.

Gustavo Dudamel led the Youth Orchestra L.A. at Superbowl halftime.  Grammy-winning violist Kim Kashkashian shares the woes of her name.  The Telegraph had a really interesting conversation with Renée Fleming, Anne Midgette profiled musicians who take time off from performing, and drama continues to unfold in the Buffalo Philharmonic oboe section.

A new Mozart opera was discovered and performed, while for the rest of the opera world, it’s same-old, same-old.

And finally, to end this round-up with a smile: watch a Bach duet played by a 90-year-old husband and wife.

Advertisements

Pierre Boulez: ‘Courage, innovation, creativity’

The incomparable maestro, whose compositions, texts, and interpretations sparked an entire era of musical boundary-breaking, passed away yesterday at the age of 90.  France’s prime minister Manuel Valls paid tribute to Boulez’s “audace, innovation, créativité” — traits which defined not only the man and his works, but also the weird, wild, spellbinding world that we know as New Music, in which Boulez was a trailblazing pioneer.

Boulez’s passing comes a little over three years after that of Elliott Carter, another New Music legend.  These two men were characters in my music history textbook, filling the final chapters — the late 20th and early 21st centuries — with their music, vibrant and vicious.  The fact that their lives and deaths overlapped with my own lifetime makes me wonder: if their era has ended, what era has begun?  In fifty years’ time, who will occupy the final chapters of my granddaughter’s music history textbook?

But then, in music, is there ever truly a final chapter?

R.I.P. Pierre Boulez, 1925-2016

Learn more:

Classical Music Round-Up: Star Wars Edition

Classical Conditioning presents this week’s worthwhile reads… in a galaxy far, far away…

jjabramsiphonestarwars
An ‘awestruck’ J.J. Abrams sits in on a ‘momentous’ scoring session led by John Williams, linked below. (image via)

Harrison Ford shares what it was like to hear John Williams’ music for the first time, while the composer himself discusses the “renewed energy” behind his score to The Force Awakens.

60 Minutes takes us behind the scenes at a Force Awakens scoring session, and the incomparable Gustavo Dudamel played a surprise role in bringing the score to life.

May the cute be with you: From the Top shows us what happens when a Jedi, a princess, and Darth Vader sit down at a piano, and the Boston Pops #throwback to that one time C-3PO conducted the Star Wars theme.

Classical Music Round-Up: 12/5/15

Classical Conditioning presents recent worthwhile reads.

Orchestra Updates

taylor-swift-orchestra-243x180
TSwift’s monumental gift to Seattle can’t be shaken off – link at right. (image via)

Peace & Politics

A New Approach

Learning & Growing

Just for Fun

Classical Music Round-Up: 11/13/15

Classical Conditioning presents this week’s worthwhile reads.

Money Matters

Nigerian soprano Abiodun Koya brings her unique crossover act to Atlanta, linked below. (photo via)

Diverse Voices

Interesting Reads

Just for Fun

Classical Music Round-Up: 11/6/15

Classical Conditioning presents this week’s worthwhile reads.

Orchestra Updates

The New York Times takes us inside the Kronos Quartet with 3D point capture, linked below. (image via)
The New York Times takes us inside the Kronos Quartet with 3D point capture, linked below. (image via)

Interviews & Introspection

Interesting Reads

Just for Fun