Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sir Simon signs on with Berlin Philharmonic until 2018

From the Los Angeles Times' Culture Monster blog:

"The classical music world is known for planning concerts and events
years in advance. But the Berlin Philharmonic takes the cake today with
its announcement that it has secured Simon Rattle's tenure as head of
the orchestra for another nine years."

Read the complete post.

Berlin Philharmonic comes to Boston November 15.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Christian Tetzlaff, sublime Bach

Christian Tetzlaff

Violinist Christian Tetzlaff's program was all J.S. Bach, all of Bach's unaccompanied sonatas and partitas, in fact, so it was not a complete representation of what Boston audiences will hear on January 31 at Jordan Hall. However, according to Allan Kozinn of the New York Times, Tetzlaff's performance (as well as the program) was sublime.

Bach's Sonata No. 3 in C and Partita No 2 in D minor, both of which were on Sunday's 92nd Street Y program and are mentioned in the review, will be played in Boston. But we will also hear Eugène Ysaÿe's Sonata for solo violin and for Paganinni caprices. Hear is a snippet of Kozinn's review to whet your appetite:

"Technique is never an issue with this violinist. The clarity and
solidity he brings to the music’s chordal writing remain among the most
striking characteristics of his Bach playing, as does the sharp
articulation he uses to suggest independent lines of counterpoint. What
has deepened is the intensity of the emotional charge he draws from
this music, in readings that match Bach’s 18th-century ingenuity with
passion and warmth in the here and now."

Read all of Emphasizing Bach's Unity.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Ask Stephen Sondheim. No, really, ask Stephen Sondheim ...

Stephen Sondheim

At the close of his onstage conversation with Stephen Sondheim at
Sanders Theater on November 14
, Frank Rich will include questions
submitted in advance by audience members and other Sondheim fans.

Please email your questions for Stephen Sondheim by Thursday, November 12 to:

will not be accepted after November 12. Questions may be presented in
edited form. There is no guarantee your question(s) will be selected.

During this live, unscripted conversation, Mr. Sondheim and Mr. Rich
will reminisce about Stephen Sondheim’s career including his
collaborations with Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins; his
predecessors, including his mentor Oscar Hammerstein II; the state of
American musical theater; and, in a very personal series of
reflections, his own creative process, speaking specifically on works
ranging from his early shows Gypsy and West Side Story to such later classics as Company, Follies and Sweeney Todd.

Note: Remaining tickets for this event are limited.

Suzanne Vega live in Wattensheid, Germany (video)

Suzanne Vega sings "Small Blue Thing" in Wattensheid, Germany. It's probably the best of the fan-submitted videos from her summer 2009 tour.

Suzanne comes to Sanders Theatre, Cambridge on November 6, courtesy of Celebrity Series of Boston (ahem).

Friday, October 23, 2009

For Maestro Slatkin and the DSO, "Change is in the Air ;-)"

Leonard Slatkin

A humorous little post from the blog of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra - a pseudo-introduction of the coming season - has confused a number of otherwise worldly and alert adults into thinking the cracks therein are to be taken seriously. Here are some rather obvious samples of Slatkin's playfulness:

On distraction:
"To begin, the orchestra will be seated with their backs to the
audience. Music Director Leonard Slatkin said at a press conference
yesterday, 'I feel that the listeners are distracted by seeing the faces
of the musicians. By turning around, people will tire of looking at
backsides and focus purely on the music.'"

On Beethoven's 5th Symphony:
"So for these performances of the overly familiar Beethoven score, the
opening five bars will not be played, since everyone knows how they go.
It will be straight into the 6th measure. In fact, every time the
four-note motto comes in and is played loudly, the passage will either
disappear or be performed softly."

Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring:
"Other emendations include orchestration changes. The opening of
Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, played by the bassoon in a high register,
will now be intoned on the tuba, two octaves lower than printed."

On formal attire:
"Finally, in keeping with the new seating arrangement, the orchestra
will perform in street clothes, but the audience is requested to come
in formal attire.

'Let them learn how long it takes to put on white tie and tails.'"

And finally:
"Season tickets, subscription renewals and cancellations can be taken care of directly with the DSO box office."

If the Schikele-esque notions above were not adequate proof of mirth, the post even goes so far as to include the winking emoticon, ;-), in the headline, but still there were those who remained unsure if they were witnessing a joke or not. That tells this reader that the classical community in general could use a bit more of this sort of thing ...

DSO blog post, with comments

Leonard Slatkin's web site

Mind the Gap blog on

Daily Observations blog, with comment

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ingrid Fliter on Chopin, Argerich and piano competitions

Ingrid Fliter

Pianist Ingrid Fliter is definitely at the point in her career in which people are beginning to know her music and want to hear her story. She spoke to The Times (UK) recently on a range of topics, including Chopin, pianist Martha Argerich, and winning the Gilmore Artist Award:

"Her big break was a once-in-a-lifetime chance — the intervention of
her all-time idol, the Argentine piano legend Martha Argerich, many of
whose best qualities she shares, though she would never admit the
comparison. 'A friend of mine told me that she was coming to Argentina
and that she wanted to listen to some young pianists — in four days’
time. So I practised 12 hours, 14 hours, on the one piece I wanted to
play, Chopin’s Sonata No 3.' After she had finished, Argerich told her
to pack her bags and go to study with Vitaly Margulis in Freiburg,
Germany. Then she gave her the keys to her flat in Geneva."

Read all of How Chopin came to the rescue of Argentine pianist Ingird Fliter.

Boston gets its first chance to hear Ms. Fliter on November 1 at NEC's Jordan Hall.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mark Morris talks with The Guardian

Mark Morris

Entertaining, incisive, smart, honest - the only problem with Mark Morris' answers for interviewer's questions is that there are never enough of them:

"The Guardian: Who would you most like to work with?

Morris: This is
worrisome. If I say somebody who's around today, then I'll get a phone
call from their agent. So I'll have George Frideric Handel, because he
taught me everything I know, but isn't around to take the credit."

Read all of Portrait of the Artist: Mark Morris, choreographer.

The Mark Morris Dance group will perform Mozart Dances with the orchestra of Emmanuel Music, conducted by Jane Glover with piano soloists Russell Sherman and Minsoo Sohn January 29-31 at the Boston Opera House.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Berlin, Germany and the Celebrity Series

Several things have us meditating on Germany in general and Berlin in particular this season (no, not Berlin, New Hampshire, watch the video!). For one we are presenting a remarkable and somewhat coincidental array of German performers and works in 2009-2010. And many of them are indeed from Berlin. So, Bostonians, once you finish watching Berlin in 3-D, take a look at Germany coming to your own back yard:

1. The Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, make their return visit to Symphony Hall within a week of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. (November 15, Symphony Hall)

2. Violinist Christian Tetzlaff, though he was born in Hamburg and lives near Frankfurt, is certainly German. Tetzlaff will perform an unaccompanied violin recital that will feature works by J.S.  Bach, among others. (January 31, NEC’s Jordan Hall)

3. The Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet, as the name implies, is made up of first chair players from their venerable parent ensemble. The orchestra has been here before, of course, but this concert is the Wind Quintet's Boston debut. (February 5, NEC’s Jordan Hall)

4. Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra will play an all-Beethoven program under the baton of Maestro Riccardo Chailly and featuring Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire. (February 25, Symphony Hall)

5. The Berlin-based Artemis String Quartet makes its Boston debut with an all-Beethoven program (March 5, NEC’s Jordan Hall)

6. Max Raabe & Palast Orchester capture the elegant decadence of pre-war Berlin of the 1920s and 30s in a program called “A Night in Berlin.” (March 6, Paramount Theatre, 2 shows)

7. German-born bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff, in addition to being a truly gifted singer and profound communicator, is also  a teacher at Berlin’s Hans Eisler School of Music. His May 2 recital will feature works by German composer Johannes Brahms, among others.(May 2, NEC's Jordan Hall)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Flicka's "Goodbye without tears"

Mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade - "Flicka" as she has long been known - called it quits this past weekend, at least as far as Boston recitals are concerned. At her Farewell Recital (and Celebrity Series 09-10 season opening performance) with her friend Dame Kiri Te Kanawa on Sunday she seemed to be serious about retiring, but it was not a sad occasion. As farewells go, this one was mostly about smiles, lightness and a fun afternoon with good friends: remarkable perhaps for its unremarkableness. But Flicka has always known how to put audiences at ease; melodrama is not her style. David Perkins, reviewing for the Globe, put it well:

"The afternoon ended, as it should have, with von Stade by herself, in a
favorite encore, "La Vie en Rose." She sang it with a perfect blend of
tonal warmth, expansive phrasing, and fine guttural French. It was a
goodbye without tears."

Read all of Von Stade bids farewell to Boston.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Small Town Hall, Kids on Money

From the good people at Marketplace (American Public Media) comes Small Town Hall, videos of kids talking about money, saving, investing, recession and the deficit.

Flicka & Kiri's additions & encores

The "TBA" selections and encores have all been sung and a good time was had by all. The two illustrious singers may have had the best time of all ...

Additional selections announced from the stage:

Ambroise Thomas

"Me voici dans son boudoir" from Mignon

Daniel Schmitt & Marc Berthomien

from Jardins de Paris

Jardin d'Albert Kahn

Bois du Boulogne


George Gershwin



Cole Porter

By Strauss


Carol Hall

Jenny Rebecca


Jake Heggie

A Route to the Sky 

Gioachino Rossini

Duetto buffo di due gatti


Cole Porter

True Love



La Vie En Rose

Friday, October 2, 2009

Celebrity Series of Boston on Twitter

Now you can follow the Celebrity Series of Boston itself via Twitter. Yup.

Look for us at:

I will be letting you, the regular readers, know what we're up to on Twitter from time to time, but go check it out yourself anyhow.

P.S. - You all know (surely) that this blog can be followed on Twitter ( OK, just checking...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

National Summit on Arts Journalism live feed, 10/2/09, 12pm-3pm

Live video by Ustream

The National Summit on Arts Journalism is taking place today at the USC Annenburg School for Communication. Their will be a live feed of the summit starting at 12pm today (10/2/09). Among the events featured will be two roundtable discussions about the art and business of arts journalism (see below).

1:25 pm
(EST) Roundtable: The Art of Arts Journalism

  • Moderator: Laura Sydell, Reporter, NPR

  • Guests: Jeff Chang, author and journalist; Seth Schiesel, Reporter, The New York Times

3:20 pm (EST) 
Roundtable: The Business of Arts Journalism

  • Moderator: András Szántó, Director, NEA Institute in Classical Music

  • Guests: Richard Gingras, CEO,; Deborah Marrow, Director, The Getty Foundation

UPDATE: I made a classic mistake and posted the Pacific time start as the Eastern time start. This feed is scheduled to begin at noon today, EST. Anyone have a fork? I need to get started on my humble pie....

Greg Pierotti on 'Laramie Project' & interview with convicted killer McKinney

Actor-playwright Greg Pierotti talks about 'The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later' and his interview with convicted killer Aaron McKinney, the person responsible for the death of Matthew Shepard in 1998.

The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later ... An Epilogue will be performed in Boston (Cutler Majestic Theatre) and around the country on October 12.

Glenn Close to host The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later Pre-Show

Glenn Close

Actress Glenn Close will serve as host for the pre-show webcast for The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later ... An Epilogue, on October 12. Matthew Shepard's mother, Judy Shepard, will give the welcoming remarks and a post-production Q and A
moderated by National Public Radio Arts and Culture correspondent Neda

Over 150 theaters will participate in the event on October 12, including, in Boston, a presentation by the Celebrity Series of Boston and Emerson College at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. Tickets are free, you can reserve yours on the Celebrity Series web site.

Emerson College Laramie Project blog

Tectonic Theater Project