Friday, December 21, 2007

"Ailey Family Celebrates One of Its Own"

Masazumi Chaya of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

The Ailey company honored Associate Artistic Director Masazumi Chaya on Tuesday evening at City Center in New York. Anyone familiar with the company and Chaya's role in it understands why they would choose to honor him, he's beyond a fixture in the company. Jennifer Dunning covered the event for today's New York Times:

"Chaya, as he is known throughout the dance world, is now its beloved associate
artistic director. On Tuesday night at City Center, the troupe honored him on
his 35th anniversary at Ailey, with film and reminiscences from the stage by
colleagues includingJudith Jamison , the 1970s Ailey star who directs the company."

Read all of Ailey Family Celebrates One of Its Own.

And did I mention that the Ailey company is coming to Boston February 7-10?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Jonathan Papelbon turns in his dog

Snowman from my yard symbolizing the coldest hot stove on record

I ask you, what's a performing arts oriented blog without a Red Sox posting thrown in every now and then? For those of you who don't care - and I know you're out there (are you listening Denver?) - Soho the Dog has some smartfunny posts on Christmas carols that are sure to please (plus, he sells t-shirts to promote his blog and gives the proceeds to charity). This won't take long.

Today's headlines brought some Papelbonia, and this time of year, with the coldest hot stove this fan can remember, I'll take it! Today's story on Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon and what happened to the final-out ball of the 2007 World Series just takes the cake. My question is, why did the Doug Mientkiewicz (men-KAY-vich, remember?) version of ballgate annoy just a little while Papelbon's antics are just funny? No, really, I'm asking...

Still, I and others agree that the mutilated baseball would make an interesting display in Cooperstown.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas card delivered 93 years late (but delivered)

It was postmarked December 23, 1914 in Alma, Nebraska and it was mailed to Ethel Martin of Oberlin, Kansas, and it just arrived.

I suppose the lesson to take from this is to "mail as early as possible."

Or perhaps, "pick up the phone because life is too short."

How about "be sure not to die because you could have mail?"

Barry Douglas on Penderecki

Barry Douglas

Pianist Barry Douglas played the world premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki's 2007 version of Resurrection (conducted by the composer) with the Cincinnati Symphony on December 7. A 2-segment video of Douglas's interview on WGUC in which the Douglas discusses a wide range of topics can be found here.

Barry Douglas makes his way to the Celebrity Series and Boston's Jordan Hall with Camerata Ireland on Friday, March 7.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bob Blumenthal on Eric in the Evening tonight


Former Boston Globe jazz critic Bob Blumenthal will be on WGBH radio's Eric in the Evening program tonight. Here's some official copy:

"Eric Jackson welcomes renowned Jazz critic Bob Blumenthal to the WGBH 89.7 studios, tonight at 8pm. They will spin some records and discuss Blumenthal new book, Jazz: An Introduction to the History and Legends Behind America's Music.

Blumenthal began writing jazz criticism in 1969 for the Boston Phoenix, where he was a contributing writer until 1989. He began writing a weekly column for the Boston Globe in 1993 and contributes to publications including the Atlantic Monthly, Village Voice, and Down Beat. Blumenthal's other projects include an ongoing affiliation with the RVG reissue series from the Blue Note label; serving as critic in residence at the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, Vt.; and serving as a permanent creative consultant for Marsalis Music, the Boston-based record label founded by saxophonist Branford Marsalis. Blumenthal received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Journalists Association in 2005.

Tune in at 8pm TONIGHT on 89.7 in New England and worldwide at"

Bob is also a remarkably skilled parallel parker. Really. You should see him in action. Bios so often leave out the best stuff...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Denk knocks 'em dead in Schenectady

Pianist Jeremy Denk wowed his Schenectady, New York, audience Tuesday evening with an unusual Beethoven/Ives program:

"Performing at Union College, the 37-year-old American offered only two sonatas, but each is a doozy: Ives' 'Concord' and Beethoven's 'Hammerklavier.' And his approach to each work was unexpected, applying a spacious romanticism to the Ives and highlighting the modern extremes in the Beethoven."

Read the complete Albany Times-Union review of Denk's recital here.

And then there's Jeremy Denk's popular blog, Think Denk.

Jeremy Denk makes his Celebrity Series debut as part of Rob Kapilow's What Makes It Great? on Saturday, May 10 at NEC's Jordan Hall. Kapilow and Denk will explore Beethoven's "Waldstein" sonata.

Audra McDonald as amoral prostitute on Great Performances

Audra McDonald as Jenny in The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Broadway star Audra McDonald, she of the golden throat plus acting chops, is already making a splash on Private Practice; which makes a nice complement to her previous specials, appearances with the Pops, etc. Now, in an apparent bid to justify her own television channel (I vote for calling it Audravision...) the fabulous Ms. McDonald will star in the Los Angeles Opera production of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny on PBS' Great Performances this Monday, December 17 (the first of several broadcasts on WGBH: schedule). On the accompanying PBS background pages you can find a dialogue with McDonald and co-star Anthony Dean Griffey, and a video clip of McDonald singing Alabama Song.

Audra McDonald will sing live for a Celebrity Series audience on Friday, May 16, 2008 at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge.

More reviews of Ailey at City Center

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Maurice Bejart's Firebird

The reviews of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's run at City Center keep coming as they always do this time of year. Ailey's annual December run is our first inkling of what is in store for the Company's Boston engagement, so they are much anticipated around the Celebrity Series offices.

Here is the latest crop:

The New York Times: Fame’s Demands, and the Flights of Fancy to Escape (Jennifer Dunning)

The Village Voice: Flaming Creatures (Deborah Jowitt)

New York Post: No 'Flowers' Power (Clive Barnes)

Gay City News: Spunk and Flight (Lori Ortiz) (tip o' the hat to Great Dance blog)

The New York Sun: Dancing on the Subway (Joel Lobenthal)

Bloomberg News: Thierree's Magic Tricks Charm at BAM; Alvin Ailey: (2nd half of article) (Tobi Tobias

Newsday: Review: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Apollinnaire Scherr)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Piano maker Bösendorfer to be sold to Yamaha

Bösendorfer Hall in Vienna

It appears that the Japanese company Yamaha has reached an agreement to purchase a controlling stake in Austrian piano manufacturer Bösendorfer from current owner BAWAG PSK. Bösendorfer is one of the world's most distinguished piano makers and their pianos are known for several key characteristics, among them are their durability (Franz Liszt is said to have preferred them as the only pianos that could withstand his virtuosic onslaughts), a rich, full sound, and unique models featuring 92 and 97-key keyboards in addition to the traditional 88-key models. Yamaha said it intends to keep Bösendorfer's manufacturing facilities in Austria.

Press release on the sale from Bösendorfer's official web site article

Playbill Arts article

BBC Music Magazine article

AFP article

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Amanda Baggs: "In My Language"

Aside from the ideas Amanda outlines in this video, and which she communicates better than I can (and which are the real point here), my discovery of her blog gave me the clearest sense I have yet had that new technologies can actually open up worlds of communication and interaction that were previously closed to us (closed to us for a number of reasons, including our own stupidity). In short, maybe internet-based web 2.0-type technology can live up to the hype. Check out more of Amanda's videos on YouTube and her blog.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stockhausen was a rock star (sort of)

Felsenmusick, the blog home of composer Daniel Felsenfeld (whose surname I can't help saying to myself repeatedly - a mellifluous mantra), contains a thoughtful item on the now deceased composer, Karlheinz Stockhausen. Felsenfeld (there it is again!) takes issue with the many obituaries, remembrances, diatribes, screeds and the like written about Mr. Stockhausen since his death that paint a picture of an under appreciated artist, in fact Stockhausen was anything but under appreciated. Read Karlheinz Fallout.

Grammy Update

I finally got around to looking at the complete Grammy Award list and found a few other Celebrity Series of Boston artists from this season (tons from other seasons, as usual...ahem).

Turns out Maria Schneider and the Maria Schneider Orchestra were nominated for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album for Sky Blue, and Maria's Cerulean Skies from the same album was nominated for Best Instrumental Composition. Maria and the Orchestra made their Celebrity Series debut November 18 at the Berklee Performance Center.

Not to be outdone, pianist Marc-André Hamelin was nominated in the Best Instumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra) for his Haydn: Piano Sonatas album on Hyperion. Mr. Hamelin makes his celebrity Series debut January 26 at NEC's Jordan Hall. Pianist and Celebrity Series regular, Garrick Ohlsson was also nominated in the category.

Bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff (who sang this past November 19 with the Berlin Philharmonic, you'll recall), whose recording The Jazz Album - Watch What Happens (Deutsche Grammophon), was nominated for Best Classical Crossover Album.

Among the many Celebrity Series alumni represented on the Grammy list, well, the ones that jumped out at me, were Eighth Blackbird, with 3 (count 'em!) nominations for Best Chamber Music Performance for their Strange Animals recording on the Cedille label, Best Classical Contemporary Composition (Jennifer Higdon, Zaka) and Best Producer of the Year, Classical (Judith Sherman).

Other nominees that once graced a Celebrity Series stage and may again are Joni Mitchell, Joe Lovano, Paquito D'Rivera, Soweto Gospel Choir, Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Sweet Honey In The Rock (Best Musical Album for Children, by the way), Renee Fleming, and Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists. The late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson received three nominations for Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Sings Peter Lieberson: Neruda Songs on Nonesuch.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Karlheinz Stockhausen, 1928-2007

Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen

Karlheinz Stockhausen, one of the 20th century's most influential composers has died. He had no specific involvement with this organization that I am aware of (usually my requirement for comment on this blog), but his influence was/is too pervasive to pass without comment, in this case, my "comments" take the form of links. Undoubtedly, Karlheinz Stockhausen had an effect on something that took place on one of our stages at some time - probably more than we realize.

Karlheinz Stockhausen official web site

Karlheinz Stockhausen Myspace page

Karlheinz Stockhausen wikipedia page

New York Times obituary (Associated Press)

Los Angeles Times obituary (Mark Swed)

Washington Post obituary (Matt Schudel)

National Public Radio obituary (Tom Huizenga)

BBC News obituary

Canadian Broadcasting Company obituary

Bloomberg News obituary (Mark Beech)

Guardian (UK) obituary (Ivan Hewett)

The Rest Is Noise obituary (Alex Ross)

Karlheinz Stockhausen interview on You Tube

List of works by Karlheinz Stockhausen (.pdf)

Ailey in The NY Times: "Highly Charged Moves from Familiar Pieces"

Alvin Ailey's Night Creature

The Ailey company's Masazumi Chaya has revived a modern classic in Tally Beatty's The Road of the Phoebe Snow from 1959. Jennifer Dunning reviewed the work for the December 6 New York Times, along with Alvin Ailey's The River and Night Creature. All three works were performed as part of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's annual run at New York's City Center.

The Road of the Phoebe Snow will make its Boston premiere on Friday, February 8, and Night Creature will be performed on Saturday, February 9 at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 10 at 3:00 p.m. Click here for tickets and information on these performances and the rest of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Celebrity Series of Boston engagement, February 7-10.

Read all of Crisscrossing the Stage, Highly Charged Moves From Familiar Pieces.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Cherryholmes earns Grammy nomination


It was announced yesterday that Cherryholmes received a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album 'Cherryholmes II Black And White' (Not that it surprised anyone).

Other Best Bluegrass Album nominees include: J.D. Crowe and The New South, Jim Lauderdale, Tony Trischka and Seldom Scene.

The Grammy Awards will air on CBS on February 10th, at 8:00 pm (est).

Tickets and information for Cherryholmes' March 2 engagement at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge can be found here.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Vienna Vegetable Orchestra, veggies on the march!

It's become clear to me, as I'm sure it will to you, that plants are making a power play. It started with the whole, "veggies are better for you" thing, and then it was hemp clothes, biodiesel and making hypoallergenic latex out of guayule. Now its extraction of lipid components from seeds of perennial and woody hibiscus species by supercritical carbon dioxide. But I digress...

Enter the Vienna Vegetable Orchestra. Vegetables aren't satisfied with dominating every other aspect of modern life, now they're coming after the performing arts! I submit this video as evidence.

It's not animation, it's not (only) a joke, they really do make and play instruments out of vegetables - and they're remarkably good at it, if you ask me.

Just so you don't think I'm mocking the hard work of others...
If you really do want to read about the Purification of Hypoallergenic Latex from Guayule, visit this link. If the Extraction of Lipid Components from Seeds of Perennial and Woody Hibiscus species by Supercritical Carbon Dioxide is more your style, visit this link.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Takacs "hair-raising" in California

The Takacs Quartet gave what The Contra Costa Times (always loved the name of that paper) called a "hair-raising, devil-may-care" performance in UC Berkeley's Hertz Hall on Sunday. The quartet will play two of the pieces reviewed (the Haydn and Bartok) this coming Sunday, December 9 at Jordan Hall, and yes, there are still tickets remaining. Here's the Takacs review.

"Twisting and chatting the Ailey way"

Matthew Rushing

Jennifer Dunning's piece on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for last Sunday's New York Times, a conversation between Ailey dancer Matthew Rushing and the company's artistic director Judith Jamison, gave a brief, intimate glimpse into the life of the company and it's people. Here's a snippet:

"Mr. Rushing, sporting an off-season beard, came prepared, carrying a notebook
full of questions. But he would prefer, he said, to have a conversation. Ms.
Jamison obliged. 'I wish you could keep that sexy beard, honey,' she told him,
adding that Ailey tradition required that it be shaved off by performance time.
“Alvin really didn’t like beards and stuff like that. But it’s fabulous.'"

Read all of Twisting and chatting the Ailey way.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater visits Boston February 7-10.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ailey company announces February program

Linda Celeste Sims of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

It's here! The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has announced the programs for its February 7-10 Celebrity Series of Boston engagement at the Wang Theatre (ahem, experienced Ailey fans will note that the engagement is not in April this season). Among the works featured are the late Maurice Bejart's Firebird, the Boston premiere of Alvin Ailey's Flowers (and you thought Boston had seen all of Mr. Ailey's work over the last 37 years...), Tally Beatty's The Road of the Phoebe Snow, Robert Battle's Unfold, and Fredrick Earl Mosley's Saddle UP!. Check out all the programs here.

Monday, December 3, 2007

"Firebird soars on Ailey troupe's wings"

Well, the reviews have begun to roll in from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's annual run at Manhattan's City Center.Today's entry is from the Newark Star-Ledger, where Robert Johnson explains the that Alvin Ailey and Firebird choreographer Maurice Bejart, though not commonly associated with each other, share a populist inspiration at their core. Read Firebird soars on Ailey troupe's wings.

The Ailey company, performing - among many other things - Maurice Bejart's Firebird, visits Boston and the Celebrity Series February 7-10.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Maria Schneider Orchestra reviewed on Visionsong blog

Here's a personal blog review of our Maria Schneider Orchestra concert on a blog called Visionsong. It didn't show up in any of my blog searches, I just stumbled across it exploring blogland.. Wonder what else I've been missing.

On a related note, Steve Schwartz of WGBH (host of Jazz From Studio 4) tells me that the pianist from Maria's band, Frank Kimbrough, will be back in Boston on January 22 for a live broadcast performance at 9:00 p.m. on WGBH 89.7 FM.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Globe: "Taylor troupe delivers sharp,vibrant program"


Thea Singer reviewed last night's opening performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Here's a sampling of her review:

"Paul Taylor may be the most ambidextrous of all choreographers. After 50-plus years of dance making, he continues to craft pieces that can just as soon make your heart sing as make darkness visible - or, in turn, have you fairly bust a gut laughing."

Read all of Taylor troupe delivers sharp, vibrant program

Want tickets? We got 'em! Visit us here.

EXTRA: Here is EDGEBoston's review of the Paul Taylor Dance Company's Celebrity Series engagement.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Beaux Arts says adieu to London

Just came across this post from the blog Nimble Tread on the Beaux Arts Trio's farewell concerts in London. Here's a bit about ours.

David Daniels orders food in South Carolina...

Looking at some videos of David Daniels on (and some
excellent performances, by the way - more on them, later) I came across
one of the oddest video segments I have encountered in this toddler
medium: world-renowned countertenor David Daniels ordering food at the
Beacon Drive-in in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The man relaying the
order, J.C., is really the star of this 13 second gem - and the star of The Beacon.

David Daniels announces January 19 program

Countertenor David Daniels has announced the complete program (he had announced only a few tantalizing composers previously) for his January 19 recital with pianist Martin Katz at Jordan Hall. You can find the program and other information about the performance here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Craig Smith, 1947-2007

Craig Smith

Craig Smith was the founder of Emmanuel Music and an artistic beacon in Boston; that is an inadequate summarization of one so devoted to music, and who touched so many lives. It is well beyond my rhetorical powers to do justice to his remarkable life and career. Others more skilled and more knowledgeable have undertaken that task, since Mr. Smith died on November 14. I have been assembling obituaries and remembrances as they have appeared.

The Celebrity Series had the privilege of presenting three performances in which Criag Smith took part. The first was as part of an evening of collaborative music-making by pianist Judith Gordon in January of 2001. Mr. Smith joined soprano Lisa Saffer, mezzo-soprano Pamela Dellal, tenor William Hite, baritone Mark McSweeney and Gordon for Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzes. A rather small part of a full evening, but it is testament to Mr. Smith on two counts, both that he was included and that he came.

The second was conducting the ensemble he founded, Emmanuel Music, in an all-Mozart program with pianist Russell Sherman at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall in January 2002.

And in 2006, Mr. Smith conducted Emmanuel Music from the orchestra pit of the Wang Theatre for our engagement of the Mark Morris Dance Group in Morris' L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato (set to Handel's music). He also conducted the work's premiere at Theatre Royal de la Monnaie where he was Permanent Guest Conductor from 1988-91.

Boston Globe (Jeremy Eichler)

The New York Times (Allan Kozinn)

Emmanuel Music remembrance

The Boston Phoenix (Lloyd Schwartz)

Los Angeles Times (Mary Rourke)

New England Conservatory

Opera News online

The Rest is Noise (Alex Ross)

Blue Mass Group

Radio Open Source (includes Smith conversation with Christopher Lydon)

Soho the Dog (Matthew Guerrieri)

The Hub Review (Thomas Garvey)

UPDATE: Composer John Harbison will become acting artistic director of Emmanuel Music. A brief announcement in a Boston Globe column can be found here.

Paul Taylor is not through yet.

In case you are one of those who regard dance as a lot of arm waving and running about, that is, not an art form with anything meaningful to say (oh, I know you're out there), consider this pithy little summary at the beginning of Paul Taylor's biography for this weekend's program book.

"In the 1950s, his work was so cutting edge that it was not uncommon to see confused audience members flocking to the exits, while Martha Graham dubbed him the 'naughty boy' of dance. In the ’60s, he shocked the cognoscenti by setting his trailblazing movement to music composed two hundred years earlier, and inflamed the establishment by satirizing America’s most treasured icons. In the ’70s, he put incest center stage and revealed the beast lurking just below man’s sophisticated veneer. In the ’80s, he looked unflinchingly at intimacy among men at war and marital rape. In the ’90s, he warned against blind conformity to authority and ridiculed the Ku Klux Klan. In the new millennium he has condemned American imperialism, lampooned feminism and looked death square in the face.

Paul Taylor is not through yet."

I recommend you come and see Mr. Taylor's company this weekend. There's no telling what he's been up to.

Whole lotta Scarlotti

Domenico X 555 = Scarlots

Know how many keyboard sonatas Domenico Scarlatti wrote? 100? 200? Give up? How about 555? Yep, that's right.

And what's more, The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England performed them all last Sunday in six venues, cramming 34 hours of music into a 12 hour period. That's an astonishing rate of 46.25 sonatas per hour. Now if we convert sonatas per hour into berceuces per hour, you see, we get...

Monday, November 26, 2007

A few recollections of our Berlin Philharmonic concert

There were many superlative musical moments at the Berlin Philharmonic's Celebrity Series concert on November 19. Here are just a couple of moments that caught my attention:

One that will remain with me is the beatific expression on Ben Heppner's face as he listened (and occasionally mouthed the words) to Thomas Quasthoff singing Der Abschied, the sixth and final song in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. Heppner appeared to be as moved as the audience (and why not? it was moving stuff) by the performance. Heppner, of course, sang beautifully himself; and being no fool, he chose to thoroughly enjoy the confluence of Philharmonic, Rattle and Quasthoff.

Following the completion of the Mahler - after which there was, rightly, no encore - before going back on stage for yet another series of bows, Sir Simon Rattle turned to Quasthoff and in reference to Quasthoff's recent forays into jazz singing, suggested an encore, "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered? I'll be bewildered if you don't mind."

Extra: I almost forgot how pleased and proud many of us on staff were of the prolonged, cough-free silence that followed the end of Das Lied von der Erde; not only because hacking, cell phone rings, talking, and even snoring are apparently a pandemic in concert halls these days, but because noise became an issue on this very tour. So the silent Celebrity Series audience conjured a mixture of feelings, from "Way to go, Boston!" to "Thank God I didn't cough!"

Globe: A Quartet returns, with musical chairs

Jeremy Eichler reviewed the St. Lawrence String Quartet's November 18 performance at Jordan Hall for The Boston Globe. It was, as Eichler points out, the first Boston performance by the Quartet's current lineup:

"How many personnel changes can a string quartet endure while preserving its essential identity? The question came to mind on Sunday afternoon as the St. Lawrence Quartet took the stage of Jordan Hall for its first local performance with its current roster. Any doubts were assuaged by the forceful, nuanced, and well-grounded reading of Beethoven's Quartet (Op. 130) that closed the program."

Read all of A quartet returns, with musical chairs.

Extra: Thomas Garvey, of The Hub Review, offered his thoughts on the St. Lawrence concert.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!


Boston Globe's Eichler reviews Berlin Phil

Jeremy Eichler reviewed last night's Berlin Philharmonic concert for today's Boston Globe. Here is his neat summary of Gyorgy Kurtag's Stele:

"'Stele' is a trio of connected musical tombstones. Enormous orchestral forces are required; the writing is fiercely expressive. Picture a Mahler symphony placed to simmer all day long on a low flame, producing an Austro-German concentrate of great potency. This is the world of Kurtag, and this orchestra knows it well."

Read all of Berliners return to Symphony Hall.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Taking stock of Kurtag's "Stele"

Composer György Kurtág

Much has been made - and rightly so - of the centerpiece of tonight's Berlin Philharmonic program, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. But there has also been much discussion of Gyorgy Kurtag's Stele, the program's other entry.

In case you are wondering what Kurtag's work is doing on tonight's Symphony Hall program, I refer you first to Bernard Holland's review of the Berlin Philharmonic's Friday evening concert at Carnegie Hall, which includes the following bare-bones outline:

"'Stele' updates the spiritual darkness yet great beauty of the Austro-Hungarian Empire into which Mahler was born. We were reminded that Budapest, Vienna and the Bohemia of Mahler’s birth are, on the map, only a few hours apart. The quality of 'Stele,' which was written for the Berlin Philharmonic in 1994, is clear from the start. Mr. Kurtag has not composed much orchestra music, but here the fineness of the textures and the originality of the colors advertise the poise of a master."

Read all of Notes on Mortality and Darkness

Alex Ross, in his new book, The Rest Is Noise, Listening to the Twentieth Century, connects Stele directly to Beethoven:

"At the beginning, octave Gs make an unmistakable reference to the opening of Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3 - a representation of the topmost step of the staircase that goes down to Florestan's dungeon. Kurtag, too, leads us into a subterranean space, but we never get out. The final movement, muted and maximally eerie, fixates on a sread-out chord that repeatedly quivers forth in quintuplet rhythm. At the very end the harmony shifts to the white-key notes of the C-major scale, all seven of them sounding in a luminous smear."

But Stele's (and Kurtag's?) world, as heard by Ross, is not entirely hopless, and Stele's ending has "the rhythm of a gaunt figure staggering on."

And then there is Jeremy Eichler's portrait of Kurtag for The Boston Globe. Eichler spoke with Sir Simon Rattle, who will conduct Stele tonight:

"Speaking recently by phone from Berlin, Simon Rattle was rhapsodizing about 'Stele,' the work he is about to perform with the Berlin Philharmonic. 'It's like a gravestone on which the entire history of European music is written,' he said. 'I just find it one of the most profoundly moving pieces. And my experience has been that audiences take to it absolutely immediately, because they can tell how genuine it is.'"

Eichler also went to the source, discussing Stele with Kurtag himself, in-person, earlier this fall:

"Sitting at his desk, looking down at the score, Kurtag grasped for words to explain this sudden congregation of otherworldly flutes. Whatever it was, it seemed to be of vital importance and personal resonance. He ultimately leaned on an image from Russian literature.

This is music, he said, of someone lying wounded on a battlefield. 'The fighting rages all around him, but he sees only a very clear, very blue sky.' Kurtag paused, again searching for words. 'His feeling is that nothing is as important as this sky.'"

Read all of The Purist.

Buy tickets for the Berlin Philharmonic at Symphony Hall.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Globe on St. Lawrence String Quartet

Geoff Nuttal

David Weininger spoke to Geoff Nuttal, 1st violinist for the St. Lawrence String Quartet for Friday's Boston Globe about professional football, his quartet's lengthening history, and traveling like the Partridge Family. Here's a taste of their conversation:

"I've got my coffee and I've got ESPN in the background," he said in a
mellow, affable voice. Nuttall is a serious football fan, and having
played an afternoon concert the day before, he'd missed most of the
gridiron action, especially the matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and
New York Giants. "They embed a chip in your brain when you grow up in
Texas," he joked, explaining his Cowboys fandom.

Read all of For quartet, change is constant.

Friday, November 16, 2007

NPR/WNYC audio links on Berlin Philharmonic in New York


Once the smoke from the A-Rod coverage cleared, I discovered that The Berlin Philharmonic is in New York this week (ok, so I knew that, and so did you). NPR, in cahoots with WNYC (or vice versa), has cooked up a series of audio excerpts of the Berlin in Lights Festival. A Feast for those with reasonably fast connection speeds and decent speakers:

Landing page for NPR's November 13 webcast of the Berlin Philharmonic

New Yorker critic, author, and blognosticator (The Rest Is Noise) Alex Ross discusses the Berlin Philharmonic with Performance Today host Fred Child

Tenor Ben Heppner describes the songs he sings in Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde

Bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff talks with WNYC's music director, George Preston

Simon Rattle talks with WNYC's John Schaefer

From November 13 Carnegie Hall concert, 'Tevot' by Thomas Ades

And then there is the running commentary on the Festival - with a little bit of Gustavo Dudamel thrown in - from The New York Times blog, ArtsBeat.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Maria Schneider Orchestra: the many links of Maria

Check out Maria Schneider and the Maria Schneider Orchestra playing Boleria, Solea y Rumba. The ensemble is almost identical to the one Boston will hear this Saturday night at the Berklee Performance Center - minus Luciana Souza on vocals (sorry, not this time).

And here is a clip of the Orchestra playing Journey Home from the same gig.

Jon Garelick's Boston Phoenix preview of the Maria Schneider Orchestra: Rare Birds

Francis Davis on Maria Schneider in The Village Voice: A Composer Ascendant

Maria Schneider interviewed on

Maria Schneider official web site

Maria Schneider's internet radio

Maria Schneider's wikipedia page

Bill Falconer's review of Maria's new CD, Sky Blue, for

Rifftides (Doug Ramsey) on Maria, Sky Blue and the band's Jazz Alley performance in Seattle

Maria's 2006 interview with

Fred Kaplan's Stereophile blog review of Sky Blue

Marketplace (American Public Media) story on Maria and Concert in the Garden from 2006

The Maria Schneider Orchestra plays at Berklee Performance Center this Saturday evening, November 17 - click here for more info and to buy tickets

Maria is scheduled to be a guest on Eric Jackson's "Eric in the Evening" program on WGBH radio 89.7 FM tonight at 9:00 p.m.

Siddhartha Mitter's Boston Globe article on Maria, From a simple start, a sophisticated style.

Bob Young's Boston Herald article on Maria, 'Sky' is the limit for jazz composer.

Listen to Maria Schneider on WBUR's syndicated public radio program Here and Now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sir Simon Rattle on Charlie Rose in 2003

Hope you enjoy this clip of Sir Simon Rattle on Charlie Rose in 2003 (Renee Fleming is also on this clip, which is why her image is staring back at you now). Included is a rather dramatic clip of Sir Simon conducting in addition to the usual thoughtful Rose dialogue.

You know (ahem), you won't get to hear Sir Simon engage in thoughtful conversation like this on say, MONDAY, NOVEMBER 19 AT SYMPHONY HALL...

Then there is this clip of Sir Simon playing a bit of piccolo (excuse me, I'm having too much fun):

Monday, November 12, 2007

Globe's Guerrieri on Measha Brueggergosman

Matthew Guerrieri reviewed soprano Measha Brueggergosman's Boston debut recital for today's Boston Globe:

"The first two encores, a spirit-moved "Ride On, King Jesus" and the
sweet-to-sour romance of Harnick and Baker's "Someone Is Sending Me
Flowers," were trumped by the last, an impishly, iridescently sweet
rendition of Tom Lehrer's "The Old Dope Peddler": With Vignoles in
serene complicity, Brueggergosman delicately wreathed the hall in her
own expressive, addictive gregariousness."

Read all of Candian soprano's sizeable voice put to sumptuous use.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Measha's encores

Click here for Measha's encores. That last encore was a first for me.

Berlin Philharmonic is NOT SOLD OUT...yet.


Boston Globe readers will no doubt enjoy Jeremy Eichler's in-depth profile of composer Gyorgy Kurtag - The Purist - in today's Arts & Entertainment section (or, for readers, at this link). The Berlin Philharmonic will play Kurtag's Stele as part of its November 19 program at Symphony Hall.

There is, however, one inaccuracy in the article's print version: the Berlin Philharmonic's Boston performance is NOT SOLD OUT as the article states. Tickets may be purchased in the following ways:

1. Online here (Symphony Hall web site) or

2. Here (Celebrity Series web site) or

3. By calling Celebrity Charge (617) 482-6661 (M-F 10-4) or

4. By calling SymphonyCharge (888) 266-1200 (M-Fri, 10am-7pm; Sat, 10am-6pm)

So, we do have Berlin Philharmonic seats available - very good seats, as a matter of fact.

UPDATE: Okay, so it's getting close to sold out, now. Don't delay!

FURTHER UPDATE: It did sell out, so no need to inquire about this one any longer. Anyone for Academy of St. Martin in the Fields?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Measha, Measha, Measha!

Soprano Measha Brueggergosman

Measha Brueggergosman is not your average Canadian soprano who hails from New Brunswick. Heck, she's not even the average soprano hailing from Toronto - there's her fine voice and interpretive skill, her taste for cabaret songs and other interesting recital fodder, her travels to
war-torn Uganda with AMREF Canada, her unique hair, her unique surname, and her unique personality. There are many ways and places to learn about Measha. I've created this little link farm to show you just a few...

What’s up with Measha’s name?

Produced video of Measha singing Jules Massenet’s 'The Final
Slumber of the Virgin'

Measha’s official web site

Measha’s visit to Uganda with AMREF Canada

Measha Brueggergosman, a friend’s take

Measha’s MySpace page

Measha’s wikipedia article

Web site for Measha’s new CD “Surprise!"

Performance page for Measha’s Celebrity Series recital (psst, it's tomorrow at 8)

Walter Pierce Remembers Igor Moiseyev

Moiseyev in 1996

Remembering Igor Moiseyev

The recent death of the Russian choreographer-dance company director Igor Moiseyev brings to mind the extraordinary impact his company of folk dancers had on the American public when they first appeared in this country in 1958.

Who could not be impressed by ‘The Partisans’ gliding across the stage on horseback; or not be dazzled by the chorus line of female dancers in their colorful Ukrainian village costumes in ‘Gopak,’ and the surprising leap over the chorus line by a catapulted male dancer in the company’s rousing finale. No one had ever seen folk dancing with such flair, such panache, and such athletic ability.

When the Moiseyev Dance Company opened its American tour at the old Metropolitan Opera House on April 14, 1958, it was a stunning success, selling out the 4000-seat Opera House at every performance; dance critics were ecstatic in praise.

The dance company met with similar response as it toured the U.S. and Canada. When it visited Boston, I was in my second season at the Celebrity Series and given the task of managing an engagement of a company of 100 dancers performing on a huge makeshift stage erected at one end of an ice hockey arena with a capacity of close to 13,000. The demand for tickets for the Boston Garden engagement was unprecedented as was the crowd enthusiasm. All three performances sold out in record time -- hundreds of would-be ticket buyers were turned away at the box-office.

The Moiseyev dancers were so popular with the American public that Ed Sullivan, who then hosted “The Toast of the Town” on television, devoted his whole hour-length program to the company. The dance troupe closed its American tour with another New York engagement, this time in Madison Square Garden.

This ‘Soviet Cultural Invasion’ changed the landscape of music and dance presentations in this country in the mid 1950’s; a similar invasion of American artists took place in the Soviet Union at that time as well.

During the Stalinist era, Soviet authorities routinely denied artists any request to leave the Soviet Union to perform in the West. Conversely, there was a great deal of resistance in this country to allowing Soviet artists the opportunity to perform here. One has only to recall the McCarthy era when the House Un-American Activities Committee was convinced that there was a Communist hidden behind every bush, and every writer or performer with a liberal bent was or had been a member of the Communist Party.

With the death of Stalin and the passing of McCarthyism, thaw was in the air, a cultural exchange agreement was promulgated between the two powers and signed in 1958.  The first music personalities to visit the U.S. were pianist Emil Gilels and violinist David Oistrakh, who attracted capacity audiences wherever they played, including their Symphony Hall recitals in the Celebrity Series. An interesting note: another Soviet artist touring at that time did not have as successful a tour as his compatriots – it was the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, but his days of success were soon to follow.

In turn, the U.S. sent a company of Porgy and Bess to tour the Soviet Union, and violinist Isaac Stern and tenor Jan Peerce gave recitals in a score of Soviet cities. Stern was to remark about the Cultural Exchange: “We send them our Jewish violinists from Odessa, and they send us their Jewish violinists from Odessa.”

Impresario S. Hurok had been negotiating with the Soviet cultural agency that represented Soviet attractions to present the Bolshoi Ballet in this country as part of the Cultural Exchange Agreement; he was informed that the first major dance company allowed out of the Soviet Union would be The State Folk Dance Ensemble of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Hurok was initially disappointed, but when he saw a company performance, he knew it would be a success; he never envisioned the colossal impact the folk dancers would make on the American public.

To make the company’s name more palatable in this country, it became the Moiseyev Dance Company, named after its founder-director, Igor Moiseyev. Moiseyev had been a dancer and choreographer with the Bolshoi Ballet. In 1936, Moiseyev was appointed director of the Moscow Theatre of Folk Art, from which emerged the Soviet Union’s first folk dance ensemble. The company was initially comprised of amateurs, but Moiseyev soon employed professional dancers. He embarked on a trek through the Soviet Union seeking folk dance inspiration.  He would then recreate and ‘theatricalize’ the dances making them more interesting to audiences.

Moiseyev attributed his dancers’ virtuosity and versatility to their training in classical ballet, which he described as “the grammar of movement.”

The Moiseyev Dance Company was but the first of many folk dance companies and ballet companies (like the Bolshoi Ballet and the Kirov Ballet) that toured the U.S. as part of the Cultural Exchange Agreement. The Celebrity Series is pleased to have been the primary presenting organization in Boston of the Moiseyev Dance Company and the many other visiting artists from various parts of what had been the Soviet Union.

I have fond memories of Moiseyev Dance Company engagements; I will always remember Mr. Moiseyev, often seated backstage at performances playing chess with one of his company assistants -- wearing his ‘signature’ beret.

I look forward to being in the audience when Igor Moiseyev’s celebrated company returns to Boston for a performance in Symphony Hall on Sunday, January 20 at 3 p.m., an event in this season’s Celebrity Series.

-Walter Pierce

Walter Pierce was Executive Director of the Celebrity Series of Boston for 40 years. He retired from the post in 1996.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Boston Herald chats with Measha Brueggergosman

Soprano Measha Brueggergosman talked with The Boston Herald's Keith Powers in advance of her Boston debut this Saturday evening at Jordan Hall:

"Working with a great composer like William Bolcom,” Brueggergosman said, “re-creating that work, makes me feel like a tiny spoke in the wheel of music history. There’s a depth to what Bill Bolcom is doing. There’s more than just a recording happening, there’s a documentation for future generations."

Read all of Canadian superstar soprano loves a cabaret.

Boston Globe: "Ax lets Beethoven's music do the talking"

"You need a lot of technique to take Ludwig van Beethoven at his word. On Sunday afternoon, pianist Emanuel Ax tackled the familiar yet formidable "Waldstein" Sonata in C Major (Op. 53), and he achieved the not inconsiderable feat of letting the music speak for itself, in all its stubborn, maddening glory."

Thus begins Matthew Guerrieri's Boston Globe review of Emanuel Ax's recital this past Sunday. I hope I don't come off as a sycophant (or something) when I say I really, enjoy reading Guerrieri - especially when he, you know, writes the stuff I want to hear, like how good one a Celebrity Series concert was. But it's more than that. Take this sentence from Wednesday's Emanuel Ax review:

"In between the sonatas was music by Robert Schumann, whose mercurial, protean forms were well-served by Ax's direct, robust phrasing: He immediately found the core of each new mood, making vibrant and entrancing what, in lesser hands, could be merely attention-deficient."

Read the full review, it won't substitute for Ax's concert, which was every bit as remarkable as described, but it is a good read, which is an end in itself.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A Gustavo Dudamel video bonanza

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel interviewed at the 2007 Proms

Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar National Youth Orchestra play Bernstein's Mambo at the 2007 Proms

Dudamel and the SBNYO play second movement from Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10

Conductor/rock star Gustavo Dudamel and the SBNYO play tomorrow night, Wednesday, November 7 at Symphony Hall.

Igor Moiseyev, 1906-2007

Igor Moiseyev

The venerable Russian choreographer Igor Moiseyev has died at age 101. Using Russian folk dance as his choreographic inspiration, Moiseyev became synonymous with the Russian folk dance tradition.

Though it has been some time since Igor traveled with his Moiseyev Dance Company, and we did not expect to see Mr. Moiseyev at the Company's engagement this coming January 20 at Symphony Hall, Moiseyev's passing is somehow a surprise, as if he would go on forever.

The Celebrity Series of Boston presented the Moiseyev Dance Company in 1958 (as the Moiseyev Dancers), '61, '65, 70, '74, '86, '88, '89, '91, '99. And at least once more in 2008.

Igor Moiseyev obituary from

Playbill Arts obituary

Long Beach Press-Telegram obituary

Los Angeles Times obituary

New York Times obituary

Washington Post obituary

RIA Novosti obituary

UPDATE: Walter Pierce remembers Igor Moiseyev

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Measha Brueggergosman sings Massenet (music video)

This video is not from Ms. Brueggergosman's new CD (Surprise!), but from her previous one (Extase). Here, she sings Jules Massenet's 'Le dernier Sommeil de la Vierge' ('The Final Slumber of the Virgin') from La Vierge - an uncommon musical selection, the sort of thing at which Measha excels. The video was produced and directed by Nigel Hunt.

Measha Brueggergosman makes her Boston debut with pianist Roger Vignoles at NEC's Jordan Hall on Saturday, November 10.

Emanuel Ax's encore

Emanuel Ax played one encore Sunday afternoon: Chopin's Waltz in A minor, B. 150.

The Herald on Sedaris

Jenna Scherer reviewed David Sedaris' Friday evening reading for the Celebrity Series at Symphony Hall for today's Boston Herald:

"Friday night’s performance rang with all the bizarre observations ('It is not unpleasant to hold someone else’s warm teeth in your hand'), descriptions of everyday activity ('I take dried-up bees and dress them in suits of armor made of tinfoil') and quotables ('Nothing irritated my father quite like the sound of his children’s happiness') we’ve come to expect from Sedaris."

Read all of Sedaris' hilarious tales shift perfectly from page to stage.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Craisin cravin' with David Sedaris


One of the revelations at David Sedaris's reading last night was a revelation not for the audience, but for Sedaris. Karen Brown, our Associate Director of Performance Operations, made oatmeal cookies for the backstage crew using craisins (that is to say, dried cranberries). Craisins were a completely new idea for Sedaris and it popped up throughout the evening: "You leave the country and things happen," he said.

Here's a report from Karen about the signing after the show:

"Sedaris asked about every third person in line at the signing tonight a Craisin related question. Recipes. Horror stories. Love stories. All about the dried cranberries. But, the very best part of the night was when 3 people from the marketing firm for Ocean Spray came up to the signing and had 3 bags of Craisins and got them signed by David Sedaris. One of the bags is now going home with David as a gift to Hugh."

UPDATE: "Can you sign our Craisins?" - one of the folks who brought Craisins for David Sedaris to sign lets us peer into the marketing bunker...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Boston Phoenix: Marcia Siegel on the Sean Curran Company

Members of the Sean Curran Company in Aria/Apology

Marcia Siegel's review of the Sean Curran Company for The Boston Phoenix was on newstands, er, in boxes today. Here is a wee bit of her closing remarks:

"I don’t know whether Curran was creating a portrait of a specific person or conveying the experiences of many persons. Maybe he was remembering the Holocaust; maybe he was reminiscing about a life as a Main Street mediocrity. Whoever he was, I recognized him."

Read all of Social Settings.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Globe: Perlman "Slow off the bat, but worth the wait"

Matthew Guerierri of The Boston Globe and Soho the Dog reviewed Itzhak Perlman's recital from last Sunday:

"The grandiose finale was vintage Perlman, extroverted and spontaneous, as was a ravishing reading of Schumann's opus 73 "Phantasiestücke" ("Fantasy Pieces"): Perlman spun out an intimate tone, gold leaf rubbed onto every corner of the music, with the performers in a synergy of attentive detail and quicksilver flow."

He is always a pleasure to read.

Read Slow off the bat, but worth the wait.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Everything Typepad: A short interview with Alex Ross

The good people at Typepad, or more specifically, the Everything Typepad blog (I use their service for this blog, as you may have noticed) recently posted a short interview with author/blogger Alex Ross. In it he talks a bit about writing his very popular blog, The Rest is Noise (also the name of his new book, which I just looks terrific), and about some other music-related blogs he reads. The post also features a link to his New Yorker article, The Well Tempered Web, The Internet May be killing the pop CD, but it's helping classical music.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Champs, again!


Nicely done, gentlemen.

Theodore Bale reviews the Sean Curran Company

The Boston Herald's Theodore Bale reviewed Friday evening's Tsai Performance Center program for today's edition: Sean Curran pulls powerful strings. This afternoon's performance by the Company is a family matinee, featuring this weekend's world premiere work, Social Discourse, plus Metal Garden and Amadinda Dances, which were not performed on Friday or Saturday. Today's family matinee performance also includes commentary on the works by Curran.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Boston Globe reviews Sean Curran Company

Thea Singer reviewed the Sean Curran Company's opening night performance at the Tsai Performance Center for The Boston Globe. The company performs tonight at 8pm and tomorrow at 3.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Herald: "Curran strikes up discourse with Radiohead's Yorke"

As a preview to this weekend's Tsai Center engagement by the Sean Curran Company, Theodore Bale talked with Sean Curran for yesterday's Boston Herald about his young dancers, Radiohead's Thom Yorke, growing older as a dancer and becoming more mature as a choreographer. Here's a taste:

"'In my day we were mad on going to ballet class,' he said. 'These dancers take yoga and Pilates and go to the gym. They are very concerned with how they look. They are not so interested in stretching feet and making lines. In a way they are the grandchildren of (postmodern choreographer) Trisha Brown. Street and club dance really informs how they generate movement.'"

Read all of Curran strikes up discourse with Radiohead's Yorke.

Boston Globe: Sean Curran, "stepping to a new level"

Members of the Sean Curran Company in Aria/Apology

Valerie Gladstone surveyed what's new with Belmont, Mass. native Sean Curran and his Sean Curran Company for today's Boston Globe. The Company opens tonight for a run through Sunday at the Tsai Performance Center. Here's a smidge to whet your appetite:

"I'm moving into a new period," Curran says. "I'm no longer a colleague of my dancers; I'm the boss. I look kind of funny when I dance with them, so now I only do solos. My new pieces are also very different than the older ones. They're more contemplative, without being any less vigorous and athletic. I jokingly call my new style postmodern Baroque."

Read all of Stepping to a new level

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ax makes a change, but it's not a competition...

(L to R) Pianists Emanuel Ax and Jeremy Denk: despite Ax's program change, the two are not competing

Pianist Emanuel Ax has decided to make a small alteration to his November 4 recital program. Instead of Beethoven's Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Opus 57, the “Appassionata” sonata, Mr. Ax will play Beethoven's Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Opus 53, otherwise known as the "Waldstein" sonata.

Veteran Celebrity Series watchers will note that the "Waldstein" sonata is also the subject of Rob Kapilow's What Makes It Great? program on May 10, 2008 (a mere 7 months from now). The pianist for that program will be noted pianist and blogger Jeremy Denk, whose name is worth remembering for both his erudition and his musicianship.

It has been said that music is not and should not be a competitive enterprise, but undoubtedly there will be some among you who cannot resist the temptation to compare the two performances.

"In lane 1, wearing number 8..."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fall back for Ax


It's enough to make you think Emanuel Ax is testing us. His piano recital is happening on November 4 at Jordan Hall which just happens to be the day that Daylight Savings Time takes effect. So let me remind all of you - officially - not to show up at 2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon thinking it's 3.

If you do show up early and you have a web connection handy, here are some restaurants in the area so you can grab a cup of coffee or something: Jordan Hall Restaurant List.

Friday, October 19, 2007

This just in from the Tsai Center...

For those headed to the Tsai Performance Center in the near future (Sean Curran Company anyone?) this note from the Tsai Performance Center General Manager might be of interest:

"As you may remember from last year, the City of Boston began the Comm. Ave Beautification Project ( Please refer to their website for more specific details, but the project is just what it says - beautify the street that runs through BU. All related construction has been on other parts of Comm. Ave since it started last September, but I've just received notice that they will begin on the portion of Comm. Ave that runs in front of the Tsai Center beginning on Wednesday, October 24.

There will always be access to our building and both BU Police and Boston Police maintain a presence on the sidewalks during construction to assist with pedestrian traffic. Thus far, the work has been isolated to weekdays from approx. 6am-4pm, so I don't anticipate any issues with performances for Sean Curran. I will keep you posted if I receive updated information, but please feel free to ask me any questions."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Wear it with pride


You need to wear it today. No, it isn't Friday and caps are casual, but you need to wear it today. If they win tonight or if they win it all, you'll find the peace that comes with knowing you helped make it happen, just as surely as if you turned a double-play. If they lose, you will have gone down with your cap on. Never mind the shame of hat-shaped hair, wear your cap, it's what fans do.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Globe gets around to Kiri Te Kanawa

A typically erudite review of Kiri Te Kanawa from Matthew Guerrieri turned up in today's Boston Globe. Here's a taste:

". . . the familiar gilt-edged timbre still gleamed, while
Warren Jones, the superb pianist, judiciously reduced the dynamic
without sacrificing tonal depth. In a near-flawless 'Morgen,' Jones's
pearly luminescence and Dame Kiri's silken line were in magical,
crystalline confluence."

Well that's just fun to read no matter what its about. I ask you, Is there anyone that doesn't enjoy contemplating magical, crystalline confluences?

In case you missed my link above, you can read the whole review here. Two links? Yes, good writing deserves no less (he said, watching for typos).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Moment of Reflection

Aisle Be Seeing You, the blog trough at which you are currently dining, just reached 60,000 page views. Please join me in a moment of silence.

Dame Kiri said farewell

The second half of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's program on Sunday was clearly focused on the "farewell" aspect of her visit, with songs chosen largely for the specific content of their lyrics. Dame Kiri made sure no one missed the point. After a set of Poulenc came Jake Heggie's "Final Monologue" from Master Class - the piece to which she referred readers in her Globe preview - which includes the following stanza:

The sun will not fall down from the sky
if there are no more Traviatas.
The world can and will go on without us
but I have to think that we have made this world a better place.
That we left it richer, wiser
than had we not chosen the way of art.

and the line:

Besides, it's all there in the recordings.

To make sure no one missed the point, she reminded us in her introduction that Heggie had turned pages for her once upon a time and that "As soon as I heard [the song] I knew it was absolutely appropriate for a woman of my age..."

And when introducing Benjamin Britten's "Evening" she reminded us that was from a set of songs entitled "On the Way to the Tomb."

On the title page of the program was the phrase, "Thank you for holding your applause until after the completion of each set of songs." The polite reminder was entirely and appropriately ignored by the audience throughout the evening. After all, it was also our farewell to her.

EDGEBoston and The Hub Review on Dame Kiri

Ed Tapper reviewed Kiri Te kanawa's Sunday afternoon/evening recital for EDGEBoston (Review: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa) and Thomas Garvey reviewed for his blog, The Hub Review (Review: Song of Experience).

Monday, October 15, 2007

Boston Herald reviews Kiri Te Kanawa concert

Keith Powers reviewed Dame Kiri's performance yesterday evening for today's Boston Herald. Here's a clippet:

"Bravery is a big part of being a great artist. At one point, after finishing off a song, she confessed, 'You know, there was a big fly buzzing around my head, and I messed up the last page. Let’s do it again.' And she did, with aplomb."

Read all of There is Nothing Like a Dame Kiri.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kiri Te Kanawa's encores

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's encores at Symphony Hall tonight (October 14) were as follows:

Alberto Ginastera, Song of the Olive Tree

Carlos Guastavino, La Rosa Y El Sauce

Richard Rodney Bennett, Goodbye For Now

Puccini, O Mio Babbino Caro

Friday, October 12, 2007

Kiri Te Kanawa in BostonNOW

John Black of BostonNOW had a brief chat with soprano Kiri Te Kanawa which touched on Sunday's recital program:

"'The first piece is a bit of Mozart that's rarely heard and I wanted people to hear it,' she said. 'And I added one called 'Hôtel' by Poulenc that's just a bit naughty in a very French way.'"

Read the full article.

Dame Kiri talks about the big "R" with the Globe

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Those of us that assumed that Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was "retiring" from singing to pursue her twin hobbies of fishing and clay pigeon shooting (as far as I know, not mentioned during her Globe chin wag, but true nonetheless) must think again. The Boston Globe's David Weininger spoke with Dame Kiri by phone about the "R" word:

"'I think it's been unfortunate that [it's being presented as though] this will be the last note I'll sing in my entire life,' she continues, adding that she's leaving the door open to doing charity and fund-raising concerts. Nevertheless, she's firm that these are her last appearances on US stages. 'I'll never be back to America except to see my friends,' she says, 'and to shop.'" Read the full article.

Aside from opening the 2007-2008 Celebrity Series season (hooray!), I would say her words clarify the significance of the New Zealand born soprano's appearance in Symphony Hall on Sunday nicely. The concert begins at 5pm. I think you need to be there, don't you?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Itzhak Perlman announces program

Violinist Itzhak Perlman has announced the program for his Symphony Hall recital on Sunday, October 28 at 3pm. Composers represented are J.S. Bach, Richard Strauss and Schumann, and the ever popular "additional works to be announced from the stage." That last one always makes for delicious speculation during the concert. Get the Perlman program specifics - minus the delicious variables - here.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Emanuel Ax announces November 4 recital program

Pianist Emanuel Ax has announced the program for his Sunday, November 4 recital at Jordan Hall. Not to prod you, gentle reader, but not many tickets remain for this recital . . . Also, it's worth mentioning that Mr. Ax has pulled together a rather advanced web site - worth a look.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A jazz dispute

Jazz legends Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie work out their differences on Leap Frog, apparently by inhabiting the body of an anonymous jazzophile. Chilling? Silly? You decide.

Thanks and happy birthday to Hans.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Rest Is Noise, the book

Advance congratulations to critic/blogger Alex Ross on the impending publication of his book, The Rest Is Noise, Listening to the Twentieth Century. The books' release is scheduled for October 16. You need this book. In the meantime, you can read Alex Ross' blog of the same name.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Pianist Marc-André Hamelin Announces January 26 Program

Marc-André Hamelin holding piano hammers

Pianist and now Bostonian (!) Marc-André Hamelin will play his first ever (it's about time!) Celebrity Series recital on January 26 at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall. We're talking Haydn, Alexis Weissenberg, Chopin, Schubert and Villa-Lobos, and, of course, those Hamelin encores. Peruse the entire program, performance details and a link to buy tickets here.

Make Ink Like a Monk

Now you know what to do with all that acorn gall...

Ever wanted to write like Leonardo da Vinci or J.S. Bach? I mean write the same way they wrote? (I'm sure you're already writing brilliant things) Follow this link and learn how to make medieval ink using things like acorn gall. Really.

Thanks for the umpteenth time, to