Monday, February 27, 2006

Simon Holt's new Violin Concerto premiered

The sweet, sweet sound of suffering

BBC SO/Nott/Hagner, Barbican, London

By Anna Picard - 26 February 2006
From the Independent

Simon Holt's Witness to a Snow Miracle - premiered this week by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conductor Jonathan Nott, and violinist Viviane Hagner - tells the story of St Eulalia of Merida, a 13 year-old visionary martyred under Roman occupation in 304 AD. Torn by iron hooks, dragged by her hair and burned alive, Eulalia's violated body was covered by snowfall and a white dove was seen to fly out of her mouth at the moment of her death.

Holt has long been preoccupied with suffering women. Lorca's earthy fatalists dominated his early work. Then along came Emily Dickinson, whose opulent imagination was so at odds with her life, and the murky, murdered heroine of his opera Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm? Each has been sympathetically and cleverly drawn, but not until Witness to a Snow Miracle has Holt found so distinctive or distressing a female voice.

With a shimmering canopy of harps, vibraphone, glockenspiel and celesta, brute pizzicato, and a lowing alto flute, the seven short movements of the concerto depict not only the horror of Eulalia's martydom but also the ecstasy of her faith. The soaring, skittering, radiant figures of the solo violin speak in tongues, sob, laugh like a child and sing. Hagner's performance was technically faultless, musically mature, and doubtless aided in its dramatic impact by her girlish appearance. Though I regretted the absence of a long, reflective melody - something that only Thomas Adès seems prepared to risk now - this is one of the most delicately crafted new concertos I have heard in years.

Thomas Adès conducting

Baton Relay

Adès, Salonen, and Mehta display take their stands

By Donna Perlmutter - 02-23-06
From Los Angeles City Beat

What’s in a stick? More than you think. Thomas Adès, the gifted young Brit who is a composer, pianist, and conductor, dropped his baton. Esa-Pekka Salonen, boss of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, decided to give his up. Valery Gergiev never bothered with one; how could he, with the fingers of both hands always a-flutter? Simon Rattle, whose brain distinctly operates all the time, chooses judicious moments to put his down. And Zubin Mehta has formed a natural bond with his; it’s part of his anatomy.
All this came to mind when Adès, on location here at Walt Disney Concert Hall, took the Philharmonic podium recently – and, over several weeks, conducted his works in small ensembles and played chamber music with a select few orchestra members.
In a burst of agitated excitement that came during Tchaikovsky’s swirling fantasia on The Tempest, Adès’s baton went flying, fell to the floor, and was retrieved by a first-row string player. It can happen like that. It did to the equally excitable Bernstein. But the 35-year-old musician, not formally trained as a stick-meister and not exactly on top of his game as far as technique goes, didn’t drop a beat.
Forget that this Philharmonic bill, with Shakespeare’s play as the inspiration for all entries except Adès’s Violin Concerto (championed expertly by Anthony Marwood), looked clever enough on paper. What it turned out to be, though, was program music without a program – one discrete episode after another, connecting links unknown.
Until, that is, he got to the pièce de résistance: scenes from his opera, chronicling the travails of characters on Prospero’s stormy/serene mythical island.
Then we could hear what all the fuss was about. Adès’s Tempest, which premiered two years ago at Covent Garden, is gripping. It’s a taut, luscious amalgam of orchestral writing both clear and dense, its shards of clashing chords alternating with poignant lyricism, its melodic lines interrupted and twisted along a highly emotional narrative path – all of it delivered as a structural whole.
Adès, neither as composer nor conductor, goes the safe, careful route. On the podium, he hangs over the orchestra, rising up on his toes, reaching out his arms as though to touch someone. No thought seems given to creating a physical image on the podium. An ungainly look? So be it.
Salonen, on the other hand, is nothing if not facile and sleek, his kinetic maneuvers smoothed into an integrated whole – often mesmerizing.
At a recent concert, one in the “Casual Fridays” series, he spoke to the audience before turning to Shostakovich’s 14th Symphony. “I’m no longer going to use a baton,” he declared, surrounded by orchestra players in mufti (not in their usual black, formal garb). “Because I want to be more like a colleague than a policeman.”
He then went on to lead his reduced orchestra in an exquisitely pinpointed account of the grim, harrowing work fixed to songs on death sung by two fabulous artists: Tatiana Pavlovskaya, whose soprano powers are astounding, and Matthias Goerne, whose plush, edgeless baritone finds myriad dimension in music of heart-sick poetry by Rilke and Lorca.
A few weeks earlier, Salonen showed up at Disney as an audience member – to hear his orchestra play Bruckner’s Eighth under Zubin Mehta – and perhaps learn how this maestro would cope with the late Romantic symphonist who suffered musical logorrhea.
Mehta, who swept through the 70-minute extravaganza without a score (as per usual), gave the players their head and more. The immense pleasure they telegraphed digging into the work’s big visceral activity – its blasts of majesty, alternated with lyric warmth and tenderly turned motives – was palpable.
Afterwards, Mehta sped away in his car, license plate M8TA. Baton-wielders seem to strike all sorts of poses.

Adès ends his L.A. stay with a range of moods

The cherished conductor has already been invited back.

By Mark Swed - February 23, 2006

"NO word from Tom" is the best-known aria from "The Rake's Progress." Stravinsky wrote his end-of-the-road opera in the West Hollywood hills overlooking Sunset Boulevard between 1948 and 1951. But afterward, he could no longer sustain its neoclassical style; the powerful 12-tone method of his neighbor and nemesis, Schoenberg, was too persuasive. World War II had ended. The Atomic Age had dawned. Stravinsky desired a new direction, a word from Tom.

Half a century later, it's we who've got it. At least, Thomas Adès' two-week residency with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which concluded Tuesday night with a Green Umbrella concert in Walt Disney Concert Hall, felt like that revelatory word. No, the British Adès is not the next Stravinsky, any more than he is the next Benjamin Britten. Nor is he the first composer to successfully find a style that acknowledges the still evident pull of earlier classical music (Stravinsky's late 12-tone pieces never caught on the way his earlier music did) and everything else that is out there these days.But he has found a way to bring together a lot stylistically. His music is a celebration both of what classical music has been and of what it can be. It doesn't always smile. In fact, it can be troubled by a bittersweet, succulent melancholy and shot through with chilling, sharp attacks of anger. But when Adès does smile, the whole world seems to smile with him — or might, if more of the world paid attention to this marvelous music.

Last week, having performed chamber music by Beethoven and Schubert with Philharmonic players and then conducted the orchestra in the U.S. premieres of his effervescent new Violin Concerto and enchanted excerpts from his second opera, "The Tempest," Adès took to the piano again. He performed an enthralling program of Stravinsky's violin and piano music with Anthony Marwood (the soloist in the Violin Concerto) at the Doheny Mansion for the Da Camera Society of Mount St. Mary's College.

And Tuesday, he oversaw his Green Umbrella outing with the Philharmonic's New Music Group as composer, curator, conductor and pianist. He led one of his earliest pieces, the Chamber Symphony, written in 1991 and an odd, nose-thumbing (but not completely) homage to Schoenberg. He played in his recent neoclassical (but not entirely) Piano Quintet. He programmed Hungarian composer György Kurtág's poignant but ferociously penetrating song cycle, "Scenes From a Novel." And he conducted the first U.S. performances of Italian modernist Niccolò Castiglioni's hauntingly offbeat "Cantus Planus" along with his own fantastical, darkly sensual "The Origin of the Harp," for three clarinetists, three violists, three cellists and two percussionists.It was quite a night, full of ghosts having a heck of a party. I don't know if Stravinsky looked on. He might still have been hung over after the party given by Adès and Marwood with the violin/piano arrangements, which concluded with the "Danse Russe" from "Petrushka" as animated as I've ever heard it.But Schoenberg might have gotten a chuckle out of the way the then 20-year-old Adès brightly warmed up his Chamber Symphony, Opus 2, with a jazz drum solo before heading into darker territory. After that piece, Adès began a decade of manic deconstruction, his music finding its own highly distinctive character by pulling apart music from many different styles and centuries, always surprising but always making sense.

Lately, Adès has evinced a neoclassical bent. The 2001 Piano Quintet is a rapturous 20-minute work in Schubertian sonata form that keeps going deliriously astray.No one can say quite what Kurtág's style is. He seems to have absorbed and then condensed into something all his own much of the 20th century. Accompanied by violin, bass and cimbalom, the soprano Elizabeth Keusch (a last-minute replacement for Valdine Anderson, sidelined by the flu) conveyed Kurtág's quirky extravagances as well as the pain and sorrow of 15 short songs to existential Russian texts by Rimma Dalos. Because she was called in suddenly, Keusch could prepare only the first half of Castiglioni's "Cantus Planus," a series of tiny 12-tone songs to peculiar 17th century religious texts.Composed for two sopranos who play cat and mouse with each other in their highest registers, the vocal writing is even more outrageous than Kurtág's. Cynthia Sieden was the other soprano, and the performance was ingratiatingly flamboyant. Castiglioni was among Adès' teachers (as well as Esa-Pekka Salonen's), and from him Adès clearly learned to go beyond style, to go where no one else does.In the last two weeks, Adès has won an enthusiastic following in Los Angeles. The Philharmonic has asked him back next season. A long-range relationship appears to be developing. The word from Tom has been worth the wait.

Balada, Kirchner, Carter, Babbitt, Turnage and Rihm in Pittsburgh

Fisk, Kremer to appear with chamber group

By Mark Kanny - Wednesday, February 22, 2006
From Pittsburgh-Tribune Review

The Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society will spread the range of its musical offerings for the 2006-07 season, increasing the variety of national styles and the role of modern music.
The opening concert on Oct. 30 features the Miro Quartet with guitarist Eliot Fisk playing Leonardo Balada's "Caprichos" along with music by Hispanic composers Juan Arriaga and Isaac Albeniz.
The Orion String Quartet, which played a memorable cycles of Ludwig van Beethoven's Quartets here three seasons ago, returns on Nov. 27 to feature American composer Leon Kirchner's Fourth Quartet that it recently commissioned, as well as Beethoven's First Razumovsky Quartet.
The Berlin-based Artemis String Quartet makes its Pittsburgh debut on Jan. 29 playing Johannes Brahms Third Quartet and Arnold Schoenberg's Quartet Op. 7.
The highly honored Emerson Quartet brings contemporary German composer Wolfgang Rihm's Fourth Quartet on Feb. 26, along with the rarely heard String Quartet by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.
Franz Schubert's glorious String Quintet will be the culmination of the Pacifica Quartet's March 26 concert, for which it will be joined by Paul Katz, longtime member of the Cleveland Quartet. Music by Felix Mendelssohn and Leos Janacek complete the program.
Finally, the Chamber Music Society continues its presentation of chamber orchestras on April 24 with Kremerata Baltica, led by noted violinist Gidon Kremer. The program includes Robert Schumann's Cello Concerto arranged violin and Argentine tango master Astor Piazzolla's "Four Seasons in Buenos Aires."

Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society's 2006-07 season
Oct. 30: Miro String Quartet; Eliot Fisk, guitar
Nov. 27: Orion String Quartet
Jan. 29, 2007: Artemis String Quartet
Feb. 26: Emerson String Quartet
March 26: Pacifica String Quartet; Paul Katz, cello
April 24: Kremerata Baltica; Gideon Kremer, violin and artistic leader

Chamber Music Society's 2006-07 season

By David Patrick Stearns - Wed, Feb. 22, 2006
From the Philadelphia Inquirer

Wed, Feb. 22, 2006

Now planning its 21st season, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society announced this week its customary 63 concerts in nine venues, from the Kimmel Center's Perelman Theater to the Independence Seaport Museum, for its 2006-07 season.
Many of the most notable events - Mitsuko Uchida playing the Schumann Piano Quintet (Op. 44) with the Brentano Quartet on Nov. 9 or the Juilliard Quartet revisiting Bartok repertoire it helped popularize 50 years ago, on March 13, 2007 - are programs being performed in other cities on tour. However, several events are unique to the chamber music society, such as Philadelphia Orchestra music director Christoph Eschenbach playing piano with the Diaz Trio on Nov. 20 and Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia music director Ignat Solzhenitsyn performing with the Moscow Quartet on Feb. 11.
Return engagements by Philadelphia favorites include pianists Marc-André Hamelin on Jan. 12, Emanuel Ax on March 20, 2007, Richard Goode on April 9, 2007, and Andras Schiff on April 17, 2007. Concerts by Philadelphia-based favorites include performances by pianists Marcantonio Barone on Jan. 14 and Edward Aldwell on Feb. 21, plus clarinetist Ricardo Morales, cellist Efe Baltacigil, and pianist Natalie Zhu collaborating Feb. 12.
The season includes two complete cycles of major repertoire: Though the Juilliard Quartet's concert contains only Bartok's first, third and fifth quartets, the Brentano program will feature String Quartet No. 2 on Nov. 9, Musicians From Marlboro will play String Quartet No. 4 on Nov. 12, and the acclaimed Ysaye Quartet, in its Philadelphia debut, will play Bartok's String Quartet No. 6 on March 8, 2007. Also, Charles Ives' four violin-piano sonatas will be played by Soovin Kim and Jeremy Denk on Jan. 19.
Local premieres include the Orion String Quartet with Leon Kirchner's Quartet No. 4 on Dec. 10, Peter Serkin playing Elliott Carter's Intermittences (with Beethoven's mighty "Hammerklavier" piano sonata) Dec. 12, the Meridian Arts Ensemble with Milton Babbitt's Counterparts on Feb. 2, and the Beaux Arts Trio playing Mark-Anthony Turnage's Slow Pavane on April 4, 2007.
Vocal recitals include mezzo-sopranos Stephanie Blythe on Dec. 4 and Joan Morris on Dec. 16, baritones Thomas Allen on March 30, 2007, and Matthias Goerne (with Eschenbach) on May 14, 2007, plus soprano Angelika Kirchschlager on April 13. The most singular event is guitarists John Williams and John Etheridge (the former classical, the latter blues) playing West African music April 18, 2007.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Next season in Philadelphia

Classics Old and New

By Peter Burwasser19 Feb 2006

Christoph Eschenbach celebrates composers old and new in his concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall this season.

One of Christoph Eschenbach's first public appearances after he was named music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra--only the seventh conductor to hold this position--was at a benefit for the Network for New Music in the fall of 2002. This superb but decidedly esoteric ensemble was a surprising choice for an early meet and greet by Philadelphia's newest music director. No doubt Eschenbach had also made the obligatory round of high-roller parties, but a signal of keen interest in music of our time sent a ripple of excitement through the local contemporary-music scene.
"I found out that the audiences were very open to new things," recalls Eschenbach of that first season with the Orchestra. "I spoke to the audience and introduced them to the composers, who then explained their work. It was not a lecture, but a three- or four-minute talk, which was enough to break the ice. I am very confident that in the future this practice will continue and expand even more, to take the audience further into the land of curiosity."

Of course, Philadelphians--and indeed, music lovers in general--have been well-familiar with "the land of curiosity." Leopold Stokowski, for instance, gave the American premiere of Mahler's "Symphony of a Thousand" in 1916, cramming the stage of the Academy of Music with performers, and putting The Philadelphia Orchestra firmly on the world musical map. In the heyday of the Eugene Ormandy era, world premieres were a common occurrence as the Orchestra competed with organizations across the land to secure first performances of music by Dmitri Shostakovich, Béla Bartók, Samuel Barber, and many others. So Eschenbach's vision, in this light, represents more of a renaissance than a revolution. As the music director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra from 1988 to 1999, he followed a similar path in what is arguably a more conservative city, and left a significant legacy.

In Philadelphia, Eschenbach has lost little time in engaging the music of our time, very often in novel ways. One of his early concerts as the new music director featured a performance of the Messiaen Turangalîla-Symphonie preceded by a performance by a gamelan ensemble, in order to demonstrate the powerful influence of Asian music on the French composer.
He has brought in the orchestra's first animateur, which is a liaison between the musicians and the audience. The job went to Thomas Cabaniss, who filled the same role at the New York Philharmonic. This season The Philadelphia Orchestra has commissioned new works from Daniel Kellogg, Gerald Levinson, Jennifer Higdon, and Sofia Gubaidulina, and has also performed recent music by Henri Dutilleux, Magnus Lindberg, John Adams, George Walker, Michael Daugherty, Einojuhani Rautavaara, and Christopher Rouse. The Orchestra's February 28 appearance at Carnegie Hall will feature the New York premiere of Concerto for Orchestra, "Zodiac Tales" by Bright Sheng, described by Eschenbach as "one of the foremost composers of our time."
It is all part of Eschenbach's campaign: "Living composers are not monsters!" he proclaims. "What we get in the theater, museums, and books is new. Why should it be the opposite in music?"
On the other hand, nobody should get the impression that Eschenbach is remaking this storied orchestra into a strictly new-music ensemble. "Eighty percent of what we play is more familiar repertoire," he says. So it should not be at all surprising that in addition to world premieres, Eschenbach's third season as music director also includes a Beethoven festival and the continuation of an acclaimed, five-year Mahler cycle. Both celebrations will be included in the Orchestra's Carnegie Hall concerts this season: Beethoven's Symphony No. 6 will be performed on February 28; No. 8 follows on April 21 along with Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.
Characteristically, Eschenbach conceives of such standard repertoire as if it, too, were new. "This season we want to take Beethoven out of the 'classical' box and show him as the revolutionary and visionary he was," the maestro explains. "Mahler broke radically with the symphonic form. His music is a journey, and he managed the enormous distances with incredible craftsmanship. The Orchestra and I--and our audiences--are rediscovering these old masterworks, which appear to our minds as ever young."
While Eschenbach's programming formulas honor the Philadelphia Orchestra traditions, they are also stamped with his particular brand of artistic inquisitiveness and joy for music making. And while others continue to speculate about the imminent death of classical music, the conductor does not tend to view the situation in dire terms and is actually rather sanguine about its future.
"I don't believe at all in a crisis of classical music," he says. "The orchestras of today, especially those that perform at the highest levels, like The Philadelphia Orchestra, and youth orchestras all over the world with players who have the potential to join the great orchestras--in all of them there is tremendous positive spirit. From that alone it is impossible to believe that classical music will die. And the range of new talent has multiplied in recent years, which is an inspiration to us all. Still, orchestras have to revitalize themselves and find new ways to get their music out all over the world."

Adventurous Dutch composer Louis Andriessen presents two Eastman concerts

Dutch composer tweaks tradition

John Pitcher - February 19, 2006
From the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

In 1969, a group of young Dutch composers led by Louis Andriessen became so frustrated with the conservative programming of Amsterdam's Concertgebouw Orchestra that they decided to protest. Armed with tiny toy frogs that chirped when squeezed, the composers arrived at the theater, and before long the place began to sound more like a water-lily pond at dusk than a concert hall.
"The sounds we made were actually quite serene and nice," recalls Andriessen, who will be at the Eastman School of Music starting Monday for a three-day residency that will include two concerts. "We didn't click the frogs during performance, though, because we were all musicians and never would have done anything that would harm the music. It was more of a playful protest between pieces."
Andriessen's protest had two major and immediate effects on European music. First, it made the Concertgebouw Orchestra, which is arguably one of the two or three finest ensembles in all of Europe, reconsider a culture of programming and performance that had become stuffy and hidebound.
"Instead of just playing traditional music using a large orchestra, the Concertgebouw became more flexible about playing as both a large and small ensemble," says Andriessen. "A smaller and more flexible group was a benefit both for Baroque music and contemporary Dutch music, which often had no use for a large traditional orchestra."

Perhaps more importantly, the protests led to Andriessen's decision to abandon the orchestra altogether. From that point on he would write only for ensembles of his own idiosyncratic design. Sometimes, these groups would feature electric guitars and synthesizers, which are generally considered alien to the classical world. In at least one work, Andriessen puts an ice-cream bell to good use.
Whatever the instrumental combination, Andriessen began writing in a style that was unique in European music. His works effectively married high culture with low in an unusual mix of classical, jazz, pop and American minimalism. It made him not only Holland's preeminent composer but also Europe's most important alternative to such high-brow modernists as Pierre Boulez.
"Andriessen's music is not as much in the European mold, which is more rooted in tradition," says Brad Lubman, who will conduct Andriessen's music at Eastman this week. "His approach is more American in that it combines serious music with pop. In fact, Andriessen has said that his most important influences have been Bach, Stravinsky and boogie-woogie."

This week's Eastman concerts will feature two notable Andriessen works. On Monday at Kilbourn Hall, Lubman will lead Musica Nova in a piece called Workers Union, a melodically indeterminate piece that's scored for any combination of loud instruments. "The idea is to have music that suggests people shouting at a political rally," Andriessen says. That piece will share the program with New York City's three Bang on a Can composers (Julia Wolfe, David Lang and Michael Gordon), who all count Andriessen as an influence.
Then on Wednesday the Eastman Philharmonia will play Andriessen's La Passione at the Eastman Theatre. The performance will feature the two soloists who premiered the work in London in 2002 — violinist Monica Germino and mezzo-soprano Cristina Zavalloni. Lubman will pair La Passione with Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps (Rite of Spring), and it promises to be the hottest and most adventurous orchestral concert performed in Rochester this season.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Rihm's Will Sound Premiered

Disciplined delirium at a concert run like a party

By Justin Davidson - February 18, 2006

The message blazoned a film screen in stern gothic type: "I am very excited to write for your crazy ensemble." The sender was German composer Wolfgang Rihm and the lunatics in question go by the name Alarm Will Sound.
The piece he sent them is confidently called "Will Sound," and it did, in vibrant blots of color, brassy gashes and crosshatchings of dissonance.

Something about this crew of 20-something masters makes composers want to write wild music. Perhaps it's their disciplined approach to delirium. The chamber orchestra, which new music enthusiasts have been following since its core members barreled out of Eastman School of Music five years ago, staged a takeover of Zankel Hall Thursday night, rewriting music history, blowing away concert conventions, infiltrating the audience and even evicting the stagehands for most of the evening and rolling the piano themselves. A tongue-in-cheek sequence of projected photos and text offered a simultaneous counterpoint of commentary. If concert music has a future among the young, this is what it looks like.Rather than drape a program on the usual shaky poles - nationality, chronology, ideology or a dissertation-ready theme - the group tied theirs together by personal connections. They organized the concert the way you might a dinner party, and titled it "Odd Couples." So, for instance, Frank Zappa, the devoutly eccentric rocker and late connoisseur of strangeness, never met his idol, the oracle of avant-garde music, Edgar Varèse, who died 40 years ago, but they would no doubt have liked each other if they had. Zappa's "Dog Breath Variations" has a honky-tonk humor that Varèse's "Intégrales" lacks, yet they share a noisy ebullience, all jagged rhythms and bright, wheezing sounds. The ever-effervescent composer Derek Bermel went to Ghana to sit at the feet of Bernard Woma, a guru of the gyil, a West African xylophone, and Woma's glitteringly intricate rhythmic patterns bore an American offspring in Bermel's foaming "Three Rivers." Sometimes the planned pairings begat new relationships. John Adams' "Coast" sounded like another mutation of the Ghanaian gene. Varèse's exuberant instrumental moans might have had a cousin in John Cale's sensually meditative "Kiss." Cale came up with this blissed-out piece for two singers and thick, Velvet-y waves of sound in 1994, but it still belongs to the era of the 1965 Andy Warhol movie it accompanies, an unromantic suite of couples tongue-fencing and lip-sucking. The puckish philosopher John Cage contributed two noteless, improvisatory pieces that the group cleverly used as cover to reset the stage. The ensemble named itself for a warning: Don't go through that door. But under the leadership of Alan Pierson, a baby conductor of monstrous skill, the ensemble keeps merrily kicking down barriers. It includes a stage director, Nigel Maister, who sends the musicians on hikes around the hall. That sort of mobility demands total control and freedom from the music stand. Almost everyone played Varèse's meticulously chaotic masterpiece "Integrales" from memory. Now that's alarming.

ALARM WILL SOUND. Conducted by Alan Pierson. Thursday night. Zankel Hall.

Peter Eötvös, George Benjamin, Michel Longtin and others in Montreal

Montreal Symphony Announces 2006-07 Season, Nagano's First

By Vivien Schweitzer - 17 Feb 2006

The Montreal Symphony's 2006-07 season, the first under the leadership of music director Kent Nagano, will include a survey of Beethoven's symphonies, performances by pianists Nikolai Lugansky and Lang Lang, and a return visit by Valery Gergiev.
Nagano was named music director in March of 2004, two years after Charles Dutoit resigned abruptly when musicians accused him of autocratic behavior. His appointment, announced after more than a year of speculation that he was the orchestra's top choice, was considered a coup and was greeted with joy by musicians.

The season opens on September 6 with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Ives' The Unanswered Question, and Galina Ustvolskaya’s Symphony No. 4.
Gergiev returns to conduct the OSM in works by Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony ("Pathetique"). Conductor and composer Peter Eötvös will lead a program of works by Debussy, Bruch, and Lutoslawski, plus one of his own works, zeroPoints, written as a tribute to Pierre Boulez.

A program called “Nature and Music” will include Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony ("Pastoral"), two of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, played and conducted by the French violinist Renaud Capuçon, and a work by Canadian composer Michel Longtin called Et j’ai repris la route, an OSM commission. Nagano will conduct.
Jacques Lacombe, OSM’s principal guest conductor for the past four seasons, will lead six concerts, including Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Richard Strauss’s Bourgeois gentilhomme, with narration by Rémy Girard.

Guest conductors will include Neville Marriner, Roger Norrington, Marek Janowski, and Lawrence Foster. Soloists will include soprano Renée Fleming; pianists Maria João Pires, Nikolai Lugansky, Stephen Hough, and Lang Lang; violinists Joshua Bell, Renaud Capuçon, and James Ehnes; and tenor Ben Heppner.
Other highlights include the first OSM International Composition Prize, which will be held in the autumn of 2006, and premieres by Canadian composers Michel Longtin and Ana Sokolovic. The orchestra will also perform works by Canadians Otto Joachim, Allan Gordon Bell and Andrew Yin Svoboda.

A blueprint for Nagano's OSM

Robert Everett-Green - 17/02/06
Fromthe Globe & Mail

New composition awards, a Beethoven symphonic cycle and several collaborations with authors and actors are on the horizon for l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, which revealed plans yesterday for the 2006-2007 season, its first with incoming music director Kent Nagano.
Nagano said that music of the 19th century would be the foundation for his first year in Montreal, along with new or recent works by composers from Canada and abroad. He will conduct 22 of the 61 concerts, including several collaborative ventures with other Montreal cultural institutions, including the Musée des beaux-arts.

The OSM has rearranged its calendar to make room for three new series, one of which, the Signature Performances, may provide the best clue as to how Nagano intends to develop Canada's most celebrated orchestra. The series includes full performances of Tristan und Isolde (with Canadian tenor Ben Heppner) and Schoenberg's massive song cycle Gurrelieder, as well as a new Luc Plamondon text to accompany Schubert's incidental music for Rosamunde (with Canadian soprano Adrianne Pieczonka) and a Paul Griffiths text inspired by General Roméo Dallaire's Rwandan experience and performed with Beethoven's music for Egmont.
Nagano's other concerts feature music by Mahler, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Richard Strauss, Étienne Méhul, Mozart, Vivaldi, Charles Ives, Darius Milhaud, Luigi Nono and Olivier Messiaen.

He will take the orchestra to Ottawa and Toronto, in a three-way exchange that will also bring the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to Montreal's Place des Arts.

The OSM has commissioned new works for the season from Montrealers Ana Sokolovic and Michel Longtin, both to be conducted by the music director. There will also be music by European contemporaries, including Sofia Gubaidulina and George Benjamin, who will conduct his own works along with pieces by Sibelius and Ravel.
Preliminary judging for the OSM International Composition Prize, which Nagano initiated soon after accepting his new job, will take place in the fall of 2006, with a concerts of the four finalists' works on the agenda for January.
Guest artists next season include conductors Valery Gergiev, Roger Norrington and Peter Eotvos; sopranos Renée Fleming and Valdine Anderson; contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux; pianists Lang Lang, Maria Joao Pires and Marc-André Hamelin; violinists Joshua Bell and James Ehnes; actors Colm Feore and Christopher Plummer.
Madeleine Careau, the OSM general manager who presided over a five-month players' strike last year, said that her administration would embark on "a reflection process on objectives" for the orchestra under Nagano, who on the cover of the season brochure is pictured seated alone in the empty auditorium of Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier. No doubt one of the objectives of the OSM, which carries a deficit of $3.47-million, will be to fill all those seats by the time the music starts on Sept. 6.

Electronic compositions in March at Harvard

Fromm Festival promises cutting-edge compositions

February 16, 2006
From the Harvard University Gazette

The Fromm Foundation and the Harvard University Department of Music are proud to present this year's Fromm Festival, a free concert series running March 10-12 in the John Knowles Paine Concert Hall. Curated by composer Hans Tutschku, the concerts are part of an impetus to program work that would otherwise not be seen in the Boston area. The theme of this year's festival is "e l e c t r o n I c s."
The opening night performance (March 10) will feature an international cadre of electronic composers, including Pierre Boulez, Milton Babbitt, Earle Brown, Örjan Sandred, Luigi Nono, Jacopo Baboni Schilingi, and Alvin Lucier, who will give a pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m. The March 11 program will introduce American audiences to Ensemble für Intuitive Musik Weimar (Germany), who will perform pieces by Cage and Stockhausen. On March 12, the finalists of the 2006 live electronic competition will perform their works joined by an impressive roster of guest soloists, alongside Boston's finest new-music players. This competition - the first of its kind at Harvard - aims to encourage the creation of new instrumental pieces with live electronics. Four composers have been chosen from numerous applicants to participate in a weeklong workshop and rehearsal period to work with instrumentalists on the creation and performance of their work. A final prizewinner will be announced after the March 12 concert.

New Gubaidulina in Philadelphia

'Feast' was a rich bounty for the ears, indeed

By Peter Dobrin - Fri, Feb. 17, 2006
From the Philadelphia Inquirer

You never know quite what you're going to get when you order up a new piece of music.
You might end up with something the public loves, as was the case with Jennifer Higdon's Concerto for Orchestra. You could send the composer back to the drawing board (or just for some refinements), as the Philadelphia Orchestra did recently in postponing Bright Sheng's Zodiac Tales.
And every once in a while, if you're an orchestra that commissions often enough, you find yourself playing a role in the birth of an important piece of art, as was the case Wednesday night when the Philadelphians and Simon Rattle premiered Sofia Gubaidulina's Feast During a Plague.
Gubaidulina's 25-minute work - co-commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra with help from the Pew Charitable Trusts - is proof that great ideas transcend issues of style. The work is up there on the dissonance meter, but it is so startlingly original, so aesthetically singular, that it captures your attention solidly from its opening strident brass fanfare to an emotionally equivocating end.
The orchestra played with stunning assurance (as it did the Walton Symphony No. 1). But the glaring feature that most listeners will remember is the shimmering climax that got jolted by the sound of a car stereo driving by Verizon Hall. Its beat was so loud it punctured our safe orchestral-sound preserve. More orchestral music. More dance-club music. More orchestral music. And so on.
It wasn't a passing car on Broad Street, of course. It was a taped sound source playing through the hall's speakers, something the composer wrote into the score. Musical interlopers are hardly new. Berio did it in his Sinfonia from 1968, quoting wildly from other sources (most prominently, Mahler). Thomas Adès, the young English composer, weaves short-hand references to other music into Arcadiana (1994) for string quartet.
Composer as curator, as arranger of cultural references to make a particular point, is a recognized role.
What, then, was the 74-year-old Russian-born composer Gubaidulina trying to say? Her answer is in notes to the score - whose core idea, unfortunately, is barely hinted at in program notes. Gubaidulina's plague is "the lowering of the moral level of society and the buildup of hatred in our souls." Her feast is the "fact that a large segment of people want nothing more than to feast and make merry."
Explosion between the two forces is inevitable - the "slashes into the orchestral fabric of alien, aggressive, simplistic rhythmic interjections that have been produced using a computer." Soon after, percussion delivered in slightly slowing strikes sounds like the apocalypse.
Gubaidulina writes that it is not the artist's job to judge, just to create a realistic view. "If there is one, there is hope," she says. Regeneration has rarely been given so vivid a musical casting. It comes in the guise of upwardly slithering bass clarinet figures - quiet, bubbling, like strands of DNA looking to rebuild in a new form.
Dissonant music, yes. But far from abstract, and endlessly meaningful.

Additional concerts: "Feast During a Plague" is repeated tonight and tomorrow night at 8 - but paired with Brahms' "Symphony No. 4" (rather than the Walton "Symphony No. 1," which was previously reviewed in these pages; see review online at

Rattle's Brahms: Sound of things to come?

By David Patrick Stearns - Sat, Feb. 18, 2006
From the Philadelphia Inquirer

The perpetually youthful conductor Simon Rattle isn't someone you'd think to associate with grand-old-man performances. He's the ever-inquisitive, let's-try-this musician, with results that can feel brilliant but provisional.
This was not the case with Rattle's Thursday performance of Brahms' Symphony No. 4. That piece dominated the final program of his Philadelphia Orchestra guest-conducting residency at the Kimmel Center and was a preview of what might be regularly in store for Rattle admirers in years ahead.
Though full of his characteristic probing energy, the interpretation grasped hands with tradition, both validating and transforming it. That rare quality was most apparent in the midst of the first movement's development section. Every motif had a sense of consolidated insight that gave the impression Rattle had been directly conferring with the composer and knew what to do with a certainty that's seldom found anywhere in this world. Usual points of discussion (tempo, loudness, etc.) were irrelevant.
Rattle reminded you that this particular Brahms symphony is a monumental marriage of ultimate formal rigor and ultimate creative freedom. No matter how neatly the preestablished forms bring things full circle, Rattle's way of touching the symphony's molten core came with a sense of progression that kept the piece moving into new emotional ground. Though thematic transformations arrived with unshakable logic, their destinations seemed perpetually unknown, even if you'd heard the piece hundreds of times. Formal outlines ceased to be sentries of correctness; instead they were but musical launching pads.
Having happily encountered Rattle with his regular orchestra, the lustrous though high-turnover Berlin Philharmonic, I'd bet that his chemistry with the Philadelphians is more fruitful. Though a New World orchestra, the Philadelphia and its tenures under Germanic paragons such as Christoph Eschenbach and especially Wolfgang Sawallisch may help place Rattle that much closer to a history he could embody with his rich personality.

The Brahms was heralded by Sofia Gubaidulina's new, single-movement Feast During a Plague; I'm not the first critic to love it and won't be the last. Though Gubaidulina's apocalyptic message can all but dissolve typical methods of musical construction, this unusually direct piece has numerous references to classic symphonic format with specifically colored, often-repeated groups of themes. Once development was under way, new elements arrived (an old Mozart technique) in the form of extreme treble sounds that infected the rest of the orchestra.
With those kinds of formal expectations, the arrival of a mechanized, prerecorded rhythm track
uncoordinated with the rest of the piece was all the more arresting. The recapitulation was similarly penetrating because the bass drum, which initially projected the measured beat of a funeral train, made feeble attempts to ape the mechanized rhythm track. Ultimately, the piece inhabited the oddest of zones between sensual delirium and spiritual transfiguration. What other composer can do - or has done - that?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Osvaldo Golijov: Composing the soundtrack for a Coppola movie

A little-known Argentinian composer is writing the music for Francis Ford Coppola's next film.

By Michael Church - 14 February 2006
From the Independent

Osvaldo Golijov is not a name that pings off the rooftops in Britain, though anyone who saw The Man Who Cried - Sally Potter's tenebrous film about Jewish refugees in Nazi Paris - may have registered Golijov as the composer responsible for the score. Indeed, with his deft interweaving of Purcell, Puccini and Billie Holiday, and with his delicate musical suffusion of cinematic events, he almost upstaged Johnny Depp and Cate Blanchett.
Celebrated in America, where he now resides, he is being showcased at the Barbican, in London, where audiences are joining the club of those who regard his passionate eclecticism as one of classical music's most hopeful routes to the future.
He'll use anything to hand - for him a laptop is as much a musical instrument as a violin or cello - and when I meet him he is immersed in two parallel tasks: writing a cello concerto, and "something" for the Kronos Quartet to perform with the Inuit singer Tanya Tagaq.

But what he most wants to talk about is a project that will shortly consume all his energies: composing a score for Francis Ford Coppola's forthcoming film of Mircea Eliade's philosophical novella Youth without Youth. A mediocre book, he says, but a wonderful script.
The project sprang from Coppola's 20-year ambition to make a film based on the life of Robert Moses, the official who tore down half of New York in the Fifties to free up space for brand-new highways. The film, to be called "Megalopolis", also drew on the Catiline conspiracy in ancient Rome.
"It would be set in New York in the near future, but it would also reflect Rome in its decadence," Golijov explains. "It would be an epic, with an intermission, like an opera. But Francis's father had been a composer, and had written some of the music in The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, and Francis didn't want to use a Hollywood composer.
"He asked around, heard my stuff and liked it, and sent me a beautiful handwritten letter. And we agreed that I would write a symphony for 'Megalopolis', previous to the shoot. If it worked for him, he would take his cues from it: the symphony would dictate the rhythm of the film, which is something almost unheard of these days."
The project was abandoned when Coppola didn't get the backing. But he remained fascinated by a character in "Megalopolis" who had the power to freeze time, and he found a novel based on the same idea. Youth without Youth is about the nature of time and consciousness. "My immediate response was that I must make something haunting," says Golijov. "And I wanted to do so with just a zither, but unfortunately The Third Man already exists. However, I think we will end up doing something similar."

The Barbican programme began with a night of premieres led by Golijov's new song-cycle, Ayre, performed by his muse, the soprano Dawn Upshaw. This piece is an electrifying meld of Christian, Jewish and Arab songs from medieval Spain, plus two he wrote himself. Instrumentation ranges from oud to klezmer clarinet to many varieties of percussion. Ayre is, Golijov admits, autobiographical: "It's the piece that is closest to who I am. A Jew raised in a Catholic country, who moved to Jerusalem, where he was mesmerised by the Arab culture. The songs deal with the matters that are the most important in life: love and the possibility of the existence of God."

Golijov's first inspiration was the music of the Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla. After the military junta took power, he left for Jerusalem, and later studied under the composers George Crumb and Oliver Knussen. What put Golijov on the map was an invitation from the conductor Helmuth Rilling to compose a Passion for Latin America. "I said, 'No, I'm Jewish - I can't write that', and he said, 'You can simply do your reaction to the Passion.'" La Pasion segun San Marcos, with its black Jesus, will be sung at the next Barbican concert, later this month.
Golijov wanted to focus on the contrast between the church hierarchy and people in the time of Jesus, who was a low-rank priest. "For me the parallel with my own country lay in the way the archbishop of Buenos Aires blessed the weapons of [General] Videla, and in the way low-rank priests who worked in the slums were being 'disappeared' and killed."

'La Pasion Segun San Marcos', Barbican, London EC2 (020 7638 8891) 24 February. 'Ayre' is on Deutsche Grammophon

Golijov under attack and defended

Osvaldo Golijov programme

By Andrew Clements - Friday February 3, 2006
From the Guardian

Osvaldo Golijov's cheerfully eclectic style has been hailed as the future of contemporary music, a future in which stylistic boundaries will be abolished and world music, pop, rock and the classical avant garde can come together in life-affirming union. Let's hope not. The Barbican's lavishly assembled all-Golijov programme was the first of two there showcasing his music - the second, in three weeks' time, will be the British premiere of the multimedia St Mark Passion - but it raised more questions than it answered.

Perhaps one of the problems was the unvaried diet of Golijov's music; in the context of a mixed programme, one of these glossily packaged pieces might have offered a welcome change of focus. A composer who lists both Astor Piazzolla and Gyorgy Kurtag among his musical heroes ought to have something going for him, but Golijov's music is so keen to wear all its stylistic badges at once that you to wonder where his affiliations really lie. His 2004 song cycle Ayre, for instance, commissioned as a companion piece to Berio's Folk Songs, reworks a collection of songs and poems from the Sephardic culture of medieval Spain into a freewheeling stylistic mix skilfully enough, but hardly touches any of the cultural issues involved.

Golijov certainly seems to inspire commitment from his interpreters. Dawn Upshaw, for whom Ayre was written, always puts heart and soul into everything she sings, and with the Andalucian Dogs, an ensemble put together by Golijov specifically for that work, her performance had style and panache. Upshaw was joined by soprano Jessica Rivera and mezzo Kelley O'Connor for the premiere of Aindamar Arias and Ensembles, a suite of extracts from the opera Aindamar, built around the violent deaths of the 19th-century Spanish revolutionary Mariana de Pineda and the poet Lorca. These samples suggest that the opera is another Golijov patchwork of styles - music that relies on its cultural baggage to make an effect rather than on any intrinsic expressive power or beauty.

Right of reply

By Robert van Leer, head of music at the Barbican - Wednesday February 15, 2006
From the Guardian

The composer Osvaldo Golijov has been described as "the future of contemporary music", Andrew Clements wrote in the Guardian on February 3, adding: "Let's hope not." Clements felt that Golijov's music, performed at the Barbican, was too "unvaried", and that "it relies on its cultural baggage to make an effect".

Robert van Leer, who programmed the concert, responds:
Osvaldo Golijov admits drawing strongly from his personal history, which begins in Argentina and ends in the US via Israel. His teachers are indeed eclectic, ranging from George Crumb to Oliver Knussen. In lesser hands, this almost over-diverse set of cultural and pedagogical influences might well have ended in an unidentifiable pastiche. However, what becomes clear as one listens to more of Golijov's compositions is the unmistakably first-person voice identifiable throughout his works.

Clements implied that the event suffered from an "unvaried diet" of Golijov's music and that a mixed programme of composers might have improved the experience. To this I must plead guilty. When we began to programme these concerts two years ago, virtually no one recognised the name of Osvaldo Golijov - much less knew how to pronounce it. In this context I felt it essential to provide an introduction without apology. To hear a new creative voice for the first time is obviously an unrepeatable opportunity and I wanted to ensure that all those present, either in person or via the Radio 3 broadcast received a full opportunity to experience this already iconic voice. Golijov and the listening public deserve nothing less.

Let me not be mistaken: I agree with Clements on a number of issues raised. Golijov's work does indeed raise many questions, not all of which have yet been answered; a composer of 45 years has not yet fully realised his potential and therefore a tendency "to wear all his stylistic badges at once" does exist. But this speaks to me of a professional creative force that is still not yet fully resolved and therefore promises much for the future.

LaJolla premieres works from Leon Kirchner, Magnus Lindberg, Bright Sheng and Bruce Adolphe

The 'new boy on the block' is excited to be part of a local institution: SummerFest

By Valerie Scher - February 12, 2006
From (Union Tribune)

At the La Jolla Music Society, life's a Beach – as in Christopher Beach, the organization's new boss.
Having assumed the post of president and artistic director in December, the former Manhattan resident is preparing for his first La Jolla SummerFest, which will celebrate its 20th year in August with an array of events in La Jolla, North Park and downtown.
“I'm the new boy on the block,” says the effusive and articulate Pittsburgh native whose enthusiasm is nearly boyish, despite the flecks of gray in his beard. Beach, 54, has been busy making contacts, planning events and getting to know the music society's staff, board members and supporters – all in an effort to learn how he can best serve the organization.

The La Jolla Music Society's new president and artistic director, Christopher Beach, is an East Coast administrator adjusting to West Coast wonders.“When I was first called about the job, I was told that the music society was looking for someone to continue the growth and expansion. I said 'I'm your guy,' ” recalls the former director of the Performing Arts Center at New York's Purchase College, where he worked for 16 years. “The opportunity to build on the music society's strengths is really exciting to me.”
That involves presenting “great orchestras, world-class soloists and chamber music ensembles” as part of a varied mix that also includes jazz, world music and dance.
“Our mission is to bring the world of the performing arts to San Diego,” says Beach, whose musical tastes range from Bach to pop, Evgeny Kissin to Aretha Franklin.

As a newcomer to SummerFest, slated for August 3-20, he has a fresh appreciation for its blend of classical and contemporary music, dance and jazz. The 20th edition will include new works by resident composers Leon Kirchner, Magnus Lindberg, Bright Sheng and Bruce Adolphe as well as by Grammy-winning jazz innovator Wayne Shorter.
In addition, local choreographer Allyson Green will set works to music by Bach and Tan Dun. And the festival – which will honor the 100th anniversary of Shostakovich's birth and the 250th anniversary of Mozart's – will bring together two generations of festival participants to honor its own heritage.

The major planning was done by festival director and violinist Cho-Liang Lin in conjunction with Beach's predecessor, Mary Lou Aleskie, who left the music society to run Connecticut's Arts & Ideas New Haven. (She earned approximately $204,000 a year here; Beach's salary has not been disclosed.)
“I had never met Christopher until his appointment,” says Lin, now in his sixth year heading the festival. “I briefed him about SummerFest. He's a very fast study – very much up to speed on so many of the festival's aspects.”

Yet Beach has yet to adapt to other aspects of San Diego, including its relaxed approach to fashion. On a recent afternoon, he looked like a model for elegant East Coast office wear, from his custom-made monogrammed shirt to his sleek leather shoes.
“He's always dressed immaculately,” says Lin. “I feel like a homeless person next to him.”
Resident composer Bruce Adolphe presided at a SummerFest master class last year that included violinist Andy Leu. More such events are expected this summer. Beach is also adjusting to the availability of fish tacos (“they're so strange I haven't had one yet”) and the sight of palm trees from the music society's downtown La Jolla headquarters. He even went so far as to describe La Jolla as “Greenwich with palm trees” in the New York Times.
Considerably more familiar to him are the posters and memorabilia that decorate his office. They're reminders of other places he has worked, including New York's Metropolitan Opera, where he served as an administrative assistant to director of production John Dexter in the late 1970's and returned in 1985 for a three-year stint as director of operations. There's also a framed composition – a “musical portrait” of Beach composed by the late composer-critic Virgil Thomson, whom Beach considered a friend.

Ask Beach what made him want to come to San Diego and he cites his experience last fall at a La Jolla cocktail party with music society board members and donors.
“I thought it was going to be easy,” he recalls. “But no – they stood me up and fired questions at me for 45 minutes. That was when I realized that the organization is committed to quality and that I wanted this job.”

Music – if not the music society – has long been integral to his life. The eldest of seven children from various marriages, he compares his mother to Katharine Hepburn and his late father to Frank Sinatra, saying that's why they divorced. The arts were highly valued in his large, blended family, and Beach began piano lessons at age 3.
“I can't even remember how many years I studied,” says Beach, who spent his formative years living on Cape Cod. “Countless piano teachers spent untold hours trying to find a grain of talent in me and failed.”
No matter. He began working backstage at area theaters as a teenager and, after graduating from Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, he gained valuable experience at such performing arts institutions as Baltimore Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, and Santa Fe Festival Theatre, which he founded in 1980 as New Mexico's first professional theater company.
After serving as managing director of PepsiCo Summerfare, the festival that took place on Purchase College's campus outside New York City, he became head of the college's Performing Arts Center in 1989 – a post he held until December.
During his 16 years there, the number of performances grew from 21 to 144 and ranged from classical music and jazz to dance and theater. At the same time, the center's budget expanded from $1.5 million to $5.2 million – making it larger than the music society's $3.2 million budget for the fiscal year that began July 1.
“I learned how to patiently make something grow,” says Beach.

He'll apply those lessons at the music society, which continues to expand the range of SummerFest, both geographically and artistically. No longer simply a La Jolla chamber music festival featuring visiting musicians in venerable repertoire, SummerFest actively champions contemporary works.
But finding an audience-pleasing balance between new and old music isn't easy. Beach found that out a few months ago at a social gathering when he met a married couple who are music society donors.
“The woman said she just loved Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms. The contemporary stuff – forget it,” Beach remembers. “About a half-hour later, I spoke to her husband. He said he didn't care about Mozart, Beethoven and the others. He loved the contemporary work!”

Both Beach and Lin hope to build on last year's successes. That included strong turnouts at downtown concerts by cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road project as well as Lalo Schifrin's tango-influenced “Letters From Argentina.” Meanwhile, most of the seats were filled at SummerFest's primary venue, La Jolla's 492-seat Sherwood Auditorium in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, where attendance was approximately 95% of capacity.
“We really want this year's SummerFest to be festive in the way it looks at what it has accomplished and what it will continue to do,” says Lin.

In a bow to the past, the opening night repertoire includes Martinu's “La Jolla Sinfonietta,” commissioned in 1950 by the Musical Arts Society of La Jolla, a forerunner of the La Jolla Music Society. And former artistic director Heiichiro Ohyama, the conductor-violist who guided the festival from 1985-1997, is on the performance roster, which also features such accomplished musicians as pianist Yefim Bronfman, violinist Gil Shaham and violist Cynthia Phelps.
This year's list of venues includes the recently renovated Stephen and Mary Birch North Park Theatre, which is new to the festival, along with downtown's Copley Symphony Hall and Sherwood Auditorium.
Sherwood is only about a mile from the cozy La Jolla house that Beach is renting. He shares it with his partner of 27 years, Wesley Fata, a former Martha Graham dancer who's on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama.
And Beach – long accustomed to Manhattan traffic – looks forward to the ease of driving from home to Sherwood Auditorium during the festival.
“I'll have no excuse to say I was stuck in traffic and late to a performance,” he says with a smile.

La Jolla Summerfest 2006 schedule

Valerie Scher - February 12, 2006
From (Union Tribune)

Concerts will be held in Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B St., downtown; Stephen and Mary Birch North Park Theatre, 2981 University Ave.; and Sherwood Auditorium in the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 700 Prospect St., La Jolla. The SummerFest gala will be held Aug. 12, with program, ticket prices and venue to be announced.
Subscriptions are $100 to $695. Single tickets – priced from $10 to $75 ($5 for children at the Family Concert) – go on sale May 15. Information/tickets: (858) 459-3728 or
Still to be announced are dates, times and locations for the following free programs: Coaching workshops, roundtable discussions (“Encounters”), National Public Radio's “Performance Today” sessions (“Perf-Chats”) and Guided Open Rehearsal Tours.

Copley Symphony Hall

7:30 p.m. Aug. 3: “SummerFest 20th Anniversary Opening Night Celebration.”
Martinu's “La Jolla Sinfonietta”; Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-Flat Major, K. 482; Beethoven's “Triple Concerto” in C Major. With conductor-pianist Jeffrey Kahane, violinist Chee Yun, cellist Lynn Harrell and pianist Jonathan Biss.

Stephen and Mary Birch North Park Theatre

7:30 p.m. Aug. 7: “Modern Composers at SummerFest – Mavericks and Movement Across the Pacific.”
Bright Sheng's “Three Fantasies” for violin and piano (West Coast premiere co-commissioned by La Jolla Music Society for SummerFest); Steve Reich's “Nagoya Marimbas”; Lou Harrison's Suite for Violin & American Gamelan; Tan Dun's “Elegy: Snow in June.” With conductor Jahja Ling, pianist Andre-Michel Schub, violinists Cho-Liang Lin and Chee Yun, cellist Felix Fan, percussionists David Cossin and Steven Schick, and choreography by Allyson Green.

7:30 p.m. Aug. 17: “Jazz at SummerFest – Wayne Shorter Quartet,” North Park Theatre.
Featuring saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade.

Sherwood Auditorium

7:30 p.m. Aug. 4: “Encore.”
All-Mozart program consisting of the “Piano Trio” in C Major, K. 548; “Clarinet Quintet” in A Major, K. 581; Violin Sonata in G Major, K. 379; String Quintet No. 6 in E-Flat Major, K. 614. Includes violist Cynthia Phelps, violinists Miriam Fried and Lin, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, pianist Jonathan Biss, and the Orion String Quartet.

7:30 p.m. Aug. 5: “All-Alumni Jam Session Hosted Nationwide by NPR.”
SummerFest's first artistic director, violist Heiichiro Ohyama, joins performers from throughout SummerFest's 20 year history. Includes Mendelssohn's Octet for Strings in E-Flat Major, Golijov's “Last Round” and an adaptation of “Dueling Banjos” for dueling violins by Andy Stein.

3 p.m. Aug. 6: “Heritage of Vienna.”
Mozart's String Quartet No. 16 in E-Flat Major, K. 28; world premiere of Kirchner's String Quartet (co-commissioned by La Jolla Music Society for SummerFest); Schubert's String Quintet in C Major. Includes violinist Sheryl Staples and Chee Yun, violist Phelps, cellist Ben Hong and Orion String Quartet.

7:30 p.m. Aug. 8: “Scandinavian Romance.”
Lindberg's “Piano Etude,” “ ..... de Tartuff, je crois” and world premiere of work co-commissioned for SummerFest; Grieg's Cello Sonata in A Minor; Sibelius' String Quartet No. 2 in D Minor ( “Voces Intimae”). Includes composer/pianist Magnus Lindberg, cellist Anssi Karttunen, pianist Schub and Orion String Quartet.

7:30 p.m. Aug. 11: “Gypsy Songs & Dances.”
Brahms' “Piano Trio” No. 3 in C Minor and selections from “Hungarian Dances”; Bartok's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion; selections from Dvorak's “Ciganske Melodie” (“Gypsy Songs”). Includes pianist Joseph Kalichstein and Schub, percussionist Schick, soprano Dina Kuznetsova and cellist Gary Hoffman.

3 p.m. Aug. 13: “Memories of Russia.”
Rachmaninoff's “Vocalise” and other songs; Shostakovich's “Piano Trio” No. 2 in E Minor; Tchaikovsky's “Piano Trio” in A Minor. Includes pianist Jon Kimura Parker, violinists Akiko Suwanai and Lin, and cellist Hoffman.

7:30 p.m. Aug. 15: “A Virtuoso Gathering.”
Shostakovich's “Piano Quintet” in G Minor; Schubert's “Piano Trio” in E-Flat Major. Includes violinists Gil Shaham and Adele Anthony, violist Paul Neubauer, cellist Carter Brey and pianist Yefim Bronfman.

7:30 p.m. Aug. 16: “Dancing at SummerFest – Bach Cello Suite.”
Choreographer Allyson Green creates a new work to Bach's Cello Suite No. 6.

7:30 p.m. Aug. 18: “An American in Paris.”
Poulenc's “Piano and Wind Sextet”; Ravel's “Piano Trio” in A Minor; Faure's “Piano Quartet” in G Minor; world premiere of Wayne Shorter's wind quintet for Imani Winds, co-commissioned for SummerFest. Includes pianists Shai Wosner and Helen Huang, cellist Fan, violist Neubauer, cellist Brey, and Imani Winds.

2 p.m. Aug. 19: Family Concert
Bruce Adolphe's “Zephyronia” – Imani Winds. World premiere of composer Adolphe's work for the Imani Winds based on a story by Louise Gikow.

7:30 p.m. Aug. 19: “Shakespeare at SummerFest – With Vivaldi, Monteverdi and Bach.”
Vivaldi's “Concerto alla Rustica”; “Love Past Cure” (Monteverdi madrigals with Shakespeare sonnets); Bach's Concerto in D Minor for Violin and Oboe and Concerto in C Minor for Two Pianos. Includes pianists Huang and Wosner, soprano Jennifer Aylmer, and the International Sejong Soloists.

3 p.m. Aug. 20: “SummerFest 20th Anniversary Finale.”
Elgar's “Serenade for Strings”; Mozart's Divertimento in E-Flat Major, K. 563; Schubert's “Death and the Maiden.” Includes violinist Lin and the International Sejong Soloists.

Thomas Adès concuts Adès and the Tempest in LA

Wielding a magic wand

Conductor Thomas Adès lives up to lofty expectations in a showcase at Disney.

By Mark Swed - February 13, 2006
From the LA Times

There is much to say about Thomas Adès, the brilliant British composer who is spending some time with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. But it sometimes seems that there has been too much said about this man who is also a conductor, pianist and festival director and is still only in his mid-30s. It's a dilemma.

Fortunately, Adès — who appeared as a pianist playing chamber music with Philharmonic members in Walt Disney Concert Hall on Tuesday night and then conducted the orchestra in his own works, along with pieces by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, over the weekend — is already well known to many Southern Californians. He's been on the Philharmonic's radar screen for years, participating in Green Umbrella concerts as he will do again next week as part of his residency.
In addition, Simon Rattle conducted the orchestra in Adès' best-known orchestral work, "Asyla," at the Ojai Festival in 2000. And the next year, Long Beach Opera was the first American opera company to produce his sexually bold, irresistibly mischievous first opera, "Powder Her Face." Both works have been star-making.

In England, Adès is not just known — he's a major force in the country's musical life. Critics deemed him the next Benjamin Britten before he had even found his voice, and then they acted disappointed when he turned out to be something far more distinctive. He further perplexed a pigeonholing press by never repeating himself. Rather than applying more "Powder" or re-creating the Ecstasy-driven raves of "Asyla," he wrote a slew of arresting pieces, both big and small but always unpredictable. You never knew if he might take his cue from Couperin, Brahms, Kurtág or a bit of pop culture. For instance, "America: A Prophecy," a supposedly celebratory New York Philharmonic millennium commission, had a far different tone than the rapt "Asyla." Premiered at the end of 2000, it is dark, chilling, important music, replete with a warning of an impending attack on a self-indulgent nation that New Yorkers didn't appreciate at the time and resented even more a year later. In contrast, the uncontroversial neoclassical conventionality of Adès' second opera — a grand-scaled adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" commissioned by the Royal Opera to celebrate the renovation of Covent Garden — left some of us scratching our heads at its tame premiere in 2004.

At Disney Hall on Friday night, selections from "The Tempest" were heard in the U.S. for the first time, along with the American premiere of Adès' new Violin Concerto, his first major post-"Tempest" orchestral work. He included "Tempest" context too. Tchaikovsky's fantasy-overture inspired by Shakespeare's magical last play began the program, and Adès preceded his opera scenes with the second suite that Sibelius compiled from his incidental music for the play. So much goes on in Adès' music and his musical mind. His music is not hard to listen to. He is a flamboyant composer with a highly evolved dazzle gene. He gets bright, unusual, quirky, alluring sounds that, on a very immediate level, tickle the ear. Like Stravinsky, he has an original instinct for harmony and melody, which can be almost traditional but sound like nothing you've heard before. He delights in virtuosity and sensuality.

The Violin Concerto, a Philharmonic co-commission that premiered in Berlin late last summer, is a bright, flashy score. The solo is fiendishly fast, flighty music with barely a moment's rest. Anthony Marwood, for whom it was written, emanated radiance in a white suit and standing on a platform at the front of the stage. He played like a spirit, an Ariel, never touching ground whether in the rapid filigree inventions of the first movement, the ghostly, highflying lyricism of the second or the leaping happy dance of the finale. My first impression of the work itself was one of slenderness. But I've come not to trust first reactions to Adès' music. Much of what felt slight or disappointing at the "Tempest" premiere was, I now suspect, a combination of an uncertain first night in the opera house and music that doesn't reveal its depth right away. If time spent with a score and a recording of a more secure later performance hadn't finally convinced me of the opera's worth, I'm sure that hearing selected scenes from the first and second of its three acts in Disney's acoustic would have done the trick. Adès focuses here on Prospero's relationships between his daughter, Miranda, and the spirit Ariel, both of whom he will lose. The writing for Ariel is breathtaking. This is surely the highest and fastest coloratura writing in all opera, and Cyndia Sieden, who sang the premiere, must be heard to be believed. Adès' Prospero is anguished and only sometimes warm. Simon Keenlyside, who also created this part at Covent Garden, made him a compelling tortured tyrant. Adès concluded with the love duet between Miranda (Patricia Risley) and Ferdinand (Toby Spence), melodically lush and rhapsodic yet with just enough harmonic eccentricity not to seem neo-Romantic slush.

The Sibelian and Tchaikovskian context emphasized, as did Adès, storm, love and Prospero's predicament. On the podium, Adès had a firm grip on Tchaikovsky and a sense of Sibelius' shifts between ferocity (Adès added the opening storm music, not in the suite) and delicacy. He is an emotive conductor with much to say about this music. His big-boned and sociable piano playing in Beethoven's "Ghost" Trio and Schubert's "Trout" Quintet on Tuesday night must have helped him gain the Philharmonic players' respect. But Friday's long and difficult program did sound as though it needed more time to settle in.

Lastly, a tip for anyone who happens to be Internet savvy, curious about Adès' Violin Concerto, and a night owl: ABC Classic FM, an Australian radio station, will broadcast the London premiere (from last summer's Proms) Wednesday at 1 a.m. PST. You can stream it at .

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Thomas Adès kicks off residency with new Violin Concerto

A difficult concerto? Yes. Impossible? Not for him

Violinist Anthony Marwood survived a plunge into an icy pond -- and mastering a tricky piece written for him by Thomas Adès.

By Chris Pasles - February 10, 2006
From (LA Times)

Anthony Marwood is a tall, handsome, affable British violinist who took a tumble last week that could have cost him his life. Leaving a performance in Belgium, he stepped onto what he thought was a path but was actually a frozen pond covered by snow."It was one of those unbelievable things where something happens and it takes you several seconds to catch up with reality," he says. "My first reality was, 'I can't breathe,' and the second was, 'I'm underwater, and I'm cold!' "Fortunately, a fellow musician was able to pull him to safety."I was completely sopping," he says. "It was also a little miracle. I was all right. The violin was all right. Even my nice winter coat I'm very fond of was fine."

Marwood, 40, is reminiscing over coffee at Walt Disney Concert Hall, where tonight he'll play the U.S. premiere of Thomas Adès' 2005 Violin Concerto ("Concentric Paths"). The performance, conducted by Adès, will be part of the acclaimed British composer's two-week residency with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The concerto was composed for Marwood, but he says that doesn't mean he found learning it easy. In fact, as Adès faxed the score to him page by page, he realized it was fiendishly difficult. "There was one passage at the end of the first movement which is one of the most stupendously hard things, and he said, 'Is this possible?' And I didn't really want to answer the question because so often in history you can point to people being asked that question and saying no, and I thought, 'I'm not going to be that person. I'm not going to be the idiot who said such-and-such a thing's not possible when 50 years from now, everyone's playing it.' "The passage in question leaps from the very highest to the very lowest notes of the violin, at a super-fast tempo. To play it, Marwood says, "I found that I had to do compensating things with the rest of my body. In order to make myself not have a sense of vertigo, I almost had to think literally about my feet going into the floor. "Later, when he asked the composer why he had written such difficult music, Adès told him, "Well, I know you. I know you can do that."

As it turns out, the two have been working together for years. They will also collaborate in a chamber music program Wednesday at the Doheny Mansion at Mount St. Mary's College. "We've always just somehow hit it off incredibly well," Marwood says. "We have incredible fun, but both of us, when it comes down to it, are very serious. We're both very picky and incredibly specific about what we're after. We have that in common."Born in London, Marwood was the youngest of four children who all grew up to be professional musicians. His sisters play oboe and viola. His brother is a cellist.Although he recalls as a boy being eager to learn the violin, he was also drawn to acting, and that precipitated a crisis in his adolescence."I felt that I had to decide, and yet I couldn't," he says. "It was too painful to make a decision, but just the way circumstances were, I got pulled into violin. For years after that, going to the theater was quite a dreadfully painful experience because I felt terrible, wanting to be on the other side." Last summer, though, he was able to bring the two interests together when he played and acted the title role in Stravinsky's "The Soldier's Tale" — an infantryman who is also a fiddler. Almost always the role is performed by different people because most actors can't play the difficult violin part and most violinists can't act or dance." It was always important for me to be multifaceted and not necessarily say, 'I'm only going to do one thing and I'm not going to let go of it,' " Marwood says. "That really wasn't for me, that kind of path. "Hence it's not surprising that, in addition to pursuing a solo career, he plays regularly in the highly regarded Florestan Trio, collaborates with the British bharata natyam dancer Mayuri Boonham and recently became artistic director of the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Marwood thinks such multi-tasking is the future of classical music. "Prophets of doom talk about 'Oh, classical music is all dying out.' And I don't believe that at all, actually. But I do think we're having to be a lot more imaginative and resourceful. "Such busyness has its price: "I don't do very much sitting on the train looking out the window. I'm usually very occupied. "For relaxation, he steals far away from London."I've developed this complete love affair with South Africa," he says. "It is just breathtaking, and it's so fascinating, this unbelievable journey that that country is on. It's already changed hugely in the last 10 years, and there are many, many problems still. But it's so exciting to be in a place that has a sense of a journey, a sense of purpose and change."In England, you don't get that so much because our history is so rich and our traditions have been so strong, and things have been so stable for such a long time. You don't get that sense of excitement in the air that things are moving. I love that."

*Los Angeles Philharmonic
Where: Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave., L.A.
When: 8 tonight and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
Price: $15 to $129

Turnage Embarks on Chicago Residency

Chicago Symphony Announces 2006-07 Season, Launching Post-Barenboim Era

By Ben Mattison - 09 Feb 2006

The Chicago Symphony has announced its plans for the 2006-07, the first season after the departure of longtime music director Daniel Barenboim. Lacking a music director, the orchestra will turn its podium over to principal guest conductor Pierre Boulez, who will spend three weeks with the ensemble in Chicago and New York, and a long list of prominent guest conductors, including Christoph von Dohnányi, Charles Dutoit, Riccardo Muti, Kent Nagano, David Robertson, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.

As previously reported, the entire season will feature cellist Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project, which is the subject of a yearlong citywide festival hosted by the CSO and the Art Institute of Chicago. Ma will be a part of the CSO's free Marshall Field's Day of Music on September 16 and its opening-night gala on September 30 (Miguel Harth-Bedoya will conduct), and he and the Silk Road Ensemble will visit Chicago for a week-long residency in April 2007, to include three subscription concerts and other events.
In addition, the CSO will play music inspired by the project throughout the season. These include works by Asian composers, including Toru Takemitsu; works by Western composers on Eastern themes such as Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin; and other works connected to the Silk Road "historically, geographically, and metaphorically."

Other highlights include performances of Wynton Marsalis's All Rise in collaboration with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra; season-closing performances of the Verdi Requiem and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; and a pension fund benefit featuring mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves.

Among the new music on the schedule is Christian Lindberg's Trombone Concerto, which will get its world premiere in Chicago; a new work by composer-in-residence Mark-Anthony Turnage (who, with Osvaldo Golijov, begins his tenure in 2006-07); and the American premiere of conductor and harpsichordist Ton Koopman's arrangement of Bach's Concerto for Three Harpichords for flute, oboe, and violin.
Guest soloists include pianists Hélène Grimaud (making her CSO debut), Lang Lang, and Mitsuko Uchida (who will conduct the CSO from the piano); violinists Gil Shaham, Hilary Hahn, and Pinchas Zukerman; and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Gubaidulina, Schafer, Yi, Sallinen, Turnage in Winnipeg

Edge of the World

WSO expanding its horizons with 15th International New Music Festival

By David Schmeichel - February 8, 2006
From The Winnipeg Sun

At least a dozen different countries will be represented at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's 15th anniversary fest, which features cutting-edge compositions from some of the globe's gutsiest composers.
"We've tried to represent the different points on the compass," says festival co-curator T. Patrick Carrabre. "We've got composers from Asia, composers from Europe, Cuba, Australia, Canada, America ... we tried to cover as much ground as we could."
With all that continent-crossing, the festivals' planners found it a bit difficult to settle on just one theme this year. Co-curator Andrey Boreyko -- the WSO's outgoing composer-in-residence and maestro -- scrapped his initial plan to focus on nature's four elements, opting instead to include multiple pieces by the same composer.

This year's featured composers include Phillip Glass -- whose upcoming local appearance Feb. 21 is ironically not part of the festival -- along with Guido Lopez Gavilan, Chen Yi, Glenn Buhr, Sid Robinovitch, R. Murray Schafer and Carrabre himself. Instead of one guest composer as in past years, at least five will attend.
In addition to the evening concerts, the festival's program will once again include free lunchtime concerts at Millennium Centre, industry workshops, pre-concert lectures and post-show discussions. All evening performances take place at Manitoba Centennial Concert Hall, with the exception of Sunday's show, which will be held at Westminster United Church.
Passes are $69 ($59 for students and seniors), and are available at the WSO box office, 949-3999.
Here's our pocket guide to the festival. For more details, go online to

- Earth to Heaven (Sat, 8 p.m.)
Celebrating the elements earth and air, this year's opening program includes Olga Victorova's Rhythms of the Earth, solo flautist Wang Xiao Nan trilling on Jim Hiscott's North Wind, and special guest Sofia Gubaidulina (Russia), composer of And: The Festivities at Their Height.

- From the Dark Reaches (Sun., 8 p.m.)
A night of chamber and choir music, Sunday's show at Westminster United features the Winnipeg Chamber Music Society, the Winnipeg Singers, the world premiere of R. Murray Schafer's 9th String Quartet, and David R. Scott's Tranquility and Order, commissioned by the CBC in the wake of 2004's Asian tsunami.

- Melting Pot (Mon., 7:30 p.m.)
Combining fire and water, Monday's roster includes Tec Voc teacher Gerry Semchyshyn (The Approach), performed with dancers from the school, the world premiere of 85-year-old Manitoba composer Robert Turner's House of Shadows, and Chinese composer Chen Yi's Burning, written for the firefighters who died on 9/11.

- The Four Corners of the Earth (Tue., 7:30 p.m.)
A multi-cultural Valentine's Day program for strings, featuring Ruth Cansfield Dance, Cuba's Guido Lopez Gavilan, and Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen's take on a funeral march for the fiddle.

- East Meets West (Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m.)
"Smaller" chamber music, including Andrew Waggoner's Livre (for cello), Glenn Buhr (the NMF's original composer-in-residence) and Commedia (string quartet, musical saw and drum kit) and Calgary's Vincent Ho, winner of the Prairie Region Young Composers Competition.

- Higher and Louder (Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m.)
The WSO's wind, brass and percussion players are joined by musicians from the U of M and Vincent Massey Collegiate Bands on Sid Robinovitch's West of Bali, Roger Bergs' Attractive Metal, and Michael Daugherty's Superman-inspired Bizarro.

- Kick it Up (Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m.)
After all that new music, the festival closes with some old favourites: Repeat performances of music from past festivals, including Phillip Glass's Violin Concerto (with Gwen Hoebig), Osvaldo Golijov's The Night of the Flying Horses (with soprano Valdine Anderson) and Mark-Anthony Turnage's Momentum.

Salonen, Read Thomas, Druckman, Saariaho, Henze at the NYPO

New York Philharmonic Announces Recording Initiatives and 2006-07 Season

By Ben Mattison - 08 Feb 2006

The New York Philharmonic has reached recording agreements with Universal Music Group and the independent New World Records, orchestra president Zarin Mehta said today at a Philharmonic press event. Mehta and music director Lorin Maazel also outlined the Philharmonic's 2006-07 season, which will include the world premieres of works by Melinda Wagner and Esa-Pekka Salonen; extended visits from conductors Riccardo Muti, David Robertson, and Alan Gilbert; and a semi-staged performance of Stephen Sondheim's Company.
The three-year agreement with Universal calls for the annual release of one CD and four recordings to be sold only through digital download. All will be recorded live at Avery Fisher Hall.

While not completely unprecedented—the Milwaukee Symphony announced last fall that it would sell digital downloads of live performances—the agreement is notable for the involvement of a major record label and one of the world's leading orchestras.
New World, which focuses on new American music, will release two live CDs per year, all of contemporary works commissioned by the Philharmonic. The first release, scheduled for May, will include Stephen Hartke's Symphony No. 3, Augusta Read Thomas's Gathering Paradise, and Jacob Druckman's Summer Lightning.
Both record deals were made possible, Mehta said, when musicians agreed, in their 2004 contract, to accept royalties in lieu of up-front payments for recordings.
"The musicians and we know that this is important to the future of the New York Philharmonic and of classical music," Mehta said of the foray onto the Internet.
Though the Philharmonic has made occasional recordings in recent years—including the Grammy-winning CD of John Adams's On the Transmigration of Souls—it has not recorded regularly since the tenure of music director Kurt Masur, who had his own contract with Teldec.

The 2006-07 season marks the first year of the guest-conducting arrangement with Muti, Gilbert, and Robertson that the Philharmonic announced in 2004, when Maazel extended his contract through 2009. At the time, Mehta suggested that all three would be candidates to succeed Maazel.
Muti will lead four weeks of programs, including Scriabin's rarely heard Le Poème divin; Robertson, who will conduct the U.S. premiere of Kaija Saariaho's Adriana Songs, and Gilbert will each appear for two weeks.
Salonen, who last conducted the Philharmonic in 1986, will lead the world premiere of his own Piano Concerto, with Yefim Bronfman as soloist. Maazel will conduct Melinda Wagner's Trombone Concerto, commissioned for the Philharmonic's Joseph Alessi.
Other premieres on the schedule include the American debuts of Hans Werne Henze's Sebastian im Traum and Daniel Börtz's Parados, and the New York premiere of Hindemith's recently rediscovered Piano Music with Orchestra for piano left hand. Leon Fleisher, who performed the world premiere of the Hindemith work in 2004 and the American premiere in San Francisco last fall, will be the soloist.

The Philharmonic will present Sondheim's seminal musical Company in March 2007, directed by Lonny Price and with Paul Gemignani on the podium. The semi-staged performances follow well-received stagings of Sondheim's Follies in 1985 and Sweeney Todd in 2000.
Other highlights include an opening-night gala, broadcast on PBS's Live From Lincoln Center, featuring Emanuel Ax and Yefim Bronfman in Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos. The Philharmonic's New Year's Eve gala will feature Broadway and classical star Audra McDonald; Broadway veteran Ted Sperling will conduct.

In March 2007, former principal guest conductor Colin Davis will celebrate his 80th birthday with two weeks of concerts focusing on Mozart. (Davis was actually born in September, but, Mehta said, "like Mozart, we will celebrate his birthday year-round.")
The Philharmonic will open a three-year collaboration with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with side-by-side performances of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and Duke Ellington's arrangement of the work. Mehta is also "going to try to convince" LCJO director Wynton Marsalis to write a new work for a future Philharmonic season, he said.
Maazel will conduct a cycle of Brahms, to include the four symphonies, four concertos, Ein deutsches Requiem, and other works, over six concerts. He will also lead performances at the new Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on October 31 and November 1 and tours to Asia and Europe in November and May 2007.
Maazel prefaced a discussion of the star soloists on the schedule by recalling his experience conducting a performance featuring the great English pianist Solomon Cutner, known simply as "Solomon," in the 1950s. The pianist, he said, did not look at him or speak to him once through all of the rehearsals and performances. Finally, Maazel said, after the final note was sounded, Solomon turned to him in the wings and asked where the exit was.
By contrast, Maazel said, the soloists he chooses for the Philharmonic, including violinist Itzhak Perlman, Bronfman, and cellist Lynn Harrell, are great friends and collaborators: he has performed chamber music as a violinist with Perlman and Bronfman. Harrell, he said, is a close friend, but "he tells me in no uncertain terms what he wants."
Other soloists include violinists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Gil Shaham, pianists Lang Lang and Peter Serkin, and soprano Deborah Voigt, who will sing Strauss songs.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Cleveland Orchestra in 2006-07: Pintscher and Kyburz

Schedule features premieres, Dohnanyi

Donald Rosenberg - Thursday, February 09, 2006
From The Plain Dealer

Franz Welser-MÖst will lead 11 weeks of concerts at Severance Hall during his fifth season as music director of the Cleveland Orchestra. Music director laureate Christoph von Dohnanyi will return for a single concert, his first appearance since the end of his 18-year tenure in 2002.
The orchestra's 2006-2007 season, to be announced in full in Sunday's Arts section, will contain two world premieres, a U.S. premiere and four Cleveland Orchestra premieres. Welser-MÖst's repertoire includes Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Mahler's First Symphony, Haydn's Mass No. 14 and concert performances of Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier."

Dohnanyi will appear Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007, conducting Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony and Schumann's Fourth Symphony. Conductors making debuts are Philippe Jordan, principal guest conductor of the Berlin State Opera; Sakari Oramo, music director of England's City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; and Nicholas McGegan, music director of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

Also on the conducting roster will be Matthias Pintscher, Mitsuko Uchida (ending her five-year cycle of Mozart's complete piano concertos), Andrew Grams, Michael Stern, Ivan Fischer, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Kurt Masur, Alan Gilbert, Kirill Petrenko and Paavo Järvi.
The orchestra will give the world premieres of works by Julian Anderson and Richard Sortomme and the U.S premiere of a piece by Hanspeter Kyburz. Other living composers represented next season are Osvaldo Golijov, Christopher Rouse, Gyorgi Ligeti and Pintscher.
Among the season's soloists are bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff; bass René Pape; pianists Leif Ove Andsnes, Emanuel Ax, Horacio Gutierrez, Angela Hewitt and Stephen Hough; cellist Truls Mork; violinists Hilary Hahn, Sergei Khachatryan, William Preucil, Gil Shaham and Frank Peter Zimmermann; violist Robert Vernon; clarinetist Franklin Cohen; and hornist Richard King.

Orchestra mixes new, old

Season ends Mozart Piano Concerto cycle, picks up new works

By Elaine Guregian - Thu, Feb. 09, 2006
From The Beacon Journal

Beginnings, endings and an intriguing combination of new and standard repertoire mark the Cleveland Orchestra's 2006-07 subscription season, announced today.

It will be the first chance since 2002 to hear Music Director Laureate Christoph von Dohnanyi leading the Cleveland Orchestra. The last chance to hear Mitsuko Uchida conducting and performing in her Mozart Piano Concerto cycle, which has been five years in its execution. And probably the first time for most people in the audience to hear the Cleveland Orchestra perform a concert performance of Richard Strauss's opera Der Rosenkavalier, since the group last performed it in 1935.

Music director Franz Welser-Moest will conduct just 11 weeks of the concerts at home. The orchestra has not yet announced its final touring schedule, but the multiweek residency in Miami that the orchestra has been planning, plus any domestic or overseas tours, would raise Welser-Moest's total number of weeks of conducting.
Carnegie Hall last week announced that the Cleveland Orchestra will open its 2006-07 season with Welser-Moest conducting. And the orchestra has said it plans to perform under Welser-Moest at the Lucerne (Switzerland) Festival in September 2006.

When Welser-Moest is not in Cleveland, guest conductors including Ivan Fischer, Alan Gilbert, Paavo Jarvi, Philippe Jordan, Kurt Masur, Nicholas McGegan and Kirill Petrenko will lead the orchestra. Repertoire ranges from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Brahms' Violin Concerto to newer works including Last Round by the enormously in-demand composer Osvaldo Golijov.
The orchestra will continue a series of four Sunday afternoon concerts, called ``Musically Speaking,'' intended to appeal to new concertgoers by having conductors and performers speak about the music they are performing.

In the arena of contemporary music, there will be chances to get to know some new names. The orchestra will give the world premieres of works it commissioned from Julian Anderson, a British composer who is the Daniel R. Lewis Young Composer Fellow for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons; and by Richard Sortomme. The work by Sortomme is a viola concerto written specifically for the Cleveland Orchestra's principal viola, Robert Vernon.
A new work by the Swiss composer Hanspeter Kyburz is the third Roche Commission, created in partnership by the Cleveland Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival and Carnegie Hall. Another featured composer is the German conductor/composer Matthias Pintscher, who will conduct his Cello Concerto.

Returning soloists include the pianists Emanuel Ax and Stephen Hough; violinists Hilary Hahn, Sergei Khachatryan and Gil Shaham; and bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff.
Soprano Measha Brueggergosman and bass Rene Pape will make their Cleveland Orchestra debuts, while tenor Frank Lopardo will make his Severance Hall debut. These three appear together, along with returning mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor and the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (``Choral'').

Christoph von Dohnanyi's appearance on Feb. 28, leading Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 and Schumann's Symphony No. 4, is a nonsubscription concert, as are two matinee programs of Holst's The Planets led by guest conductor Michael Stern on Dec. 9 and 10.

Gubaidulina, Knussen, Turnage, Anderson, Bainbridge and Kulesha in Toronto

TSO reveals plans for new season

Concerts to feature Beethoven, Mozart and array of international musicians

Robert Everett-Green - 09/02/06
From The Globe and Mail

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra has seen its future, and it includes much more Mozart and Beethoven. Yesterday, the orchestra announced its plans for the 2006-2007 season, which include a complete tour of Beethoven's symphonies and the third edition of what has become an annual Mozart festival.
Music director Peter Oundjian, who unveiled the season at Roy Thomson Hall, will devote more than half of his podium time to concerts focused on the two composers. His 13 weeks of performance will also include three concerts in a Russian festival, two shows in the annual New Creations festival and visits with the orchestra to Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City.
The season opens with all nine Beethoven symphonies, interspersed with songs and symphonic excerpts by Mahler. All four Brahms symphonies and several of his concertos will also be offered next year, some of them in unusual pairings with the music of Stravinsky.
A Russian festival of mostly familiar works will include the North American premiere of Sofia Gubaidulina's The Rider on the White Horse, with the composer in attendance. The celebrated Russian conductor Valery Gergiev will also appear for a program of music by Stravinsky and Debussy.
The TSO also announced that Abigail Richardson and Andrew Staniland be its first Affiliate Composers, under a new program apparently meant to encourage young composers to write pieces that orchestras will want to play.
"The concept of their works will be discussed at programming committee meetings," according to a media release, "they will observe, up close, the real workings of the orchestra; visit marketing meetings to discuss audience development; and ultimately, develop a clearer picture of the "reality" of composing music for modern-day orchestras."
Oundjian said that one important goal of the initiative is "to prepare young Canadian talent for composer-in-residence positions." The TSO, however, has no such position.
A three-concert New Creations festival in late winter will have a British focus, with works by Oliver Knussen, Marc-Anthony Turnage and Julian Anderson, as well as by Canadians such as Alexina Louie and TSO composer-adviser Gary Kulesha. A site-specific commissioned piece by Simon Bainbridge will be performed at the Royal Ontario Museum's new Michael Lee-Shin Crystal.
Two other novelties on the agenda include Robert Levin's new performing edition of Mozart's unfinished Mass in C minor, and Mozart's own edition of Handel's Messiah, directed by period-performance specialist Nicholas McGegan.
Guest conductors next year include Andrew Davis, Gunther Herbig, Leonard Slatkin, Gianandrea Noseda, Jiri Belohlavek, Itzhak Perlman and Julian Kuerti, whose father Anton will appear during the season as piano soloist. Other soloists include pianists Leif Ove Andsnes, Louis Lortie, Hélène Grimaud, Yefim Bronfman and Angela Hewitt; violinists Isabelle van Keulen, Leila Josefowicz, Pinchas Zukerman, Joshua Bell and James Ehnes; singers Measha Brueggergosman, Susan Platts, Michael Schade and Russell Braun.
The TSO plans to travel to North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie before the season begins and will host concerts at Roy Thomson Hall by the National Arts Centre Orchestra, l'Orchestre symphonique de Québec and l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, in a four-way exchange. The MSO has not visited Toronto since 1990.
The TSO also announced yesterday that membership in its tsoundcheck program, which offers $12 tickets to people under 30, had surpassed 25,000. The program has helped to increase average attendance to 85 per cent, though the low ticket prices also contributed to a $2.19-million loss for 2005.