Thursday, September 28, 2006

Article in the Ithaca Journal's ticket

Thank you for our long time supporter Daphne Chu for alerting me about the Ithaca Journal article.
It is great to have local press support for this concert. We should also thank Loralyn Light, our concert manager for getting all the press releases out. Also Thanks to Robert Barker for the photograph.

Notes on Divertimento

Here are notes on the Bernstein Divertimento by Symphony Pianist and co president Daniel Jones.
Also a picture of a guy in a turkey suit trotting.

Leonard Bernstein has long been closely associated with the city of New York, New York, where he made his celebrated debut with the New York Philharmonic, and later went on to serve as music director of that orchestra for twelve years. His music, too, reflects that association: the 1944 musical “On The Town” recounts the adventures of three sailors on shore leave in New York, and the city also provides the backdrop for his most famous musical, “West Side Story.” Sometimes overlooked, however, is Bernstein’s equally meaningful association with New York’s sometime rival to the north, the city of Boston. Bernstein was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, outside of Boston, and grew up in the Boston area. As a child, his father took him to concerts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall, planting the seeds of a long relationship with that orchestra. This relationship deepened in 1940, when Bernstein spent the summer at Tanglewood, the BSO’s summer home in Lenox, MA. There, BSO music director Serge Koussevitzky served as mentor and teacher to the young Bernstein, and later in his life Bernstein followed Koussevitzky’s example by returning as head of the orchestra and conducting programs at Tanglewood. Indeed, Bernstein’s final public performance was a concert in which he led the BSO at Tanglewood in August 1990.
Given his deeply rooted connection with the BSO and the city of Boston, it is no surprise that the BSO commissioned Bernstein to write a piece for the orchestra’s centennial in 1980. The result was the Divertimento for Orchestra, premiered under Seiji Ozawa on September 15, 1980. As its title suggest, the Divertimento is a light-hearted, high-spirited, witty piece, full of musical allusions and in-jokes with orchestra members. The first movement, Sonnets and Tuckets, is a boisterous exploration of the possibilities of the work’s underlying motive, an alternation between the notes B and C. The “B,” of course, stands for “Boston,” while the “C” stands for “Centennial.” Along the way, he throws in references to Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel, and at one point gives the clarinets the famous trumpet lick from Stravinsky’s Petrouchka. The movement comes to an emphatic (albeit dissonant) close with the full orchestra blaring simultaneous B’s and C’s. Waltz, the second movement, is of an entirely different character: restrained, lilting, and poignant, it keeps the string players happy with some lovely writing. Of course, the Divertimento being what it is, Bernstein casts it in the offbeat meter of 7/8, instead of the usual 3/4.
While the Waltz was written primarily with strings in mind, the Mazurka provides the winds and particularly double reeds with their moment in the sun. Devotees of 19th century piano repertoire will recognize the three note descending motive lifted from Chopin, in another of the many allusions found throughout the work. It is worth noting that Bernstein’s highlighting of the various sections of the orchestra was very much intentional, and in many cases based on Bernstein’s personal relationship with the BSO players. When he wrote in a solo for a particular instrument, it wasn’t (for instance) for some anonymous oboe or horn player, but for a musician whom Bernstein knew personally, and whose personal traits he often had in mind when writing.
The Samba is a lively dance movement, reminiscent of some of the music from West Side Story, and the Turkey Trot is another dance movement, recalling a style popular in the early 1900s. The conductor Leonard Slatkin claims that “Turkey Trot” is the name of a street in Lenox, MA, the town in which Tanglewood is located. If so, the title is yet another of the many allusions and in-jokes sprinkled throughout the piece. However, independent research failed to confirm the existence of this road, so Slatkin’s claim may have to be regarded as apocryphal for now. Sphinxes is a satirical foray into the world of twelve-tone music, of which Bernstein was no enthusiast. The movement contains two twelve-tone rows before a perversely tonal cadence on A-flat major, with Bernstein getting the last laugh on the serialists. The Blues serves to highlight the brass section, and provides the principals with some nice opportunities to display their solo chops. Transferring the blues idiom to symphony orchestra always risks becoming a dull and inauthentic-sounding exercise, but here, Bernstein skillfully captures the color and spirit of the blues.
The final movement, In Memoriam and March: The BSO Forever, begins with a solemn introduction for flutes in memory of BSO members and conductors past. The boisterous music of the first movement soon returns, however, before the orchestra erupts into a full-blown, Sousa-esque march, amply seasoned (of course) with references to Sousa. The final chord brings the work full circle, with a resounding declaration of “B” and “C” simultaneously. – Notes by Daniel Jones

Magic flute notes

Here is program notes by Chamber Orchestra violist Dorian Bandy and a great picture of the set for Magic Flute by Karl Friedrich Schinkle which is in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Despite his poverty and diminishing health, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) remained prolific even during the last year of his life. Indeed, in the months immediately preceding his death he composed a piano concerto, a clarinet concerto, thirty-nine orchestral and chamber works, a Requiem mass, three cantatas and motets, and two operas. One of these, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), was completed on September 28 and premiered on September 30, 1791. Although the opera was a hit success, and played in Vienna for the next few years, its warm reception mattered little to Mozart, who died ten weeks after the initial performance.
Mozart’s long-time colleague, Emanuel Schikaneder (1741-1812), famed actor, poet, and singer, provided the story and text for Die Zauberflöte: The evil and tyrannical Queen of the Night employs Tamino, a prince, and Papageno, a bird catcher, to rescue her daughter Pamina from the evil sorcerer Sarastro. Upon entering Sarastro’s “Temple of Wisdom,” they discover the sorcerer’s benevolence, and agree to undergo extensive initiation rites (based on real Masonic rituals) so that they may join the Temple. Tamino succeeds and weds Pamina (much to the Queen’s chagrin); Papageno fails the initiation but still finds happiness with Papagena, his female counterpart. Annoyed at this collective rapture, the Queen tries to destroy Sarastro’s Temple, but to no avail: Sarastro vanquishes the Queen’s forces, and the four lovers continue to lead long and happy lives. (The magic flute itself plays an ironically small part in the opera—it appears in only two scenes and has little or no effect on the plot.)
The overture to Die Zauberflöte reflects many of the themes that Mozart and Schikaneder explore during the opera itself. The music begins slowly, with three majestic chords, reminiscent of those which herald Tamino’s entry into Sarastro’s Temple. The next section, a jovial fugato Allegro, introduces a melody in the second violins, which all of the strings successively imitate. (Here, the presence of a fugue, one of the most complex forms of composition, represents the wisdom Tamino hopes to attain in Sarastro’s Temple; the playful character of this fugue in particular resembles the lighthearted irreverence with which Papageno ignores the Temple’s initiation rites.) The strings continue to play fragments of the original melody while the winds carry a slightly more lyrical theme, possibly indicative of Papageno and Papagena’s innocent love affair. The music builds to a faux-finale, which is interrupted by a restatement of the same three chords that opened the overture. The Allegro theme then resumes, though this time with a much darker mood, a reminder of the Queen of the Night’s many attempts to prevent her daughter’s and Tamino’s happiness. As in the opera, however, the clouds soon lift, and give way to a triumphant and joyous climax. – Notes by Dorian Bandy

Program notes on Mozart by our soloist

Pianist Frédéric Lacroix has performed in the United States, Canada and Taiwan. He has most recently appeared with the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Cornell Chamber Orchestra, Ottawa Symphony Orchestra and Ensembre Fusions. He has also performed in programs of CBC Radio and NPR. While he also the privileged to premiere a number of works by American and Canadian composers, he devotes some time to his own compositions. Lacroix holds degrees from the University of Montreal and the University of Ottawa, where he studied with Marc Durand and Cynthia Floyd. He is currently a doctoral student at Cornell University, where he is studying performance practice with Malcolm Bilson.

Following his departure from Salzburg in 1781, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart settled in Vienna and embarked on a series of successful business and artistic ventures, becoming a thriving freelance musician in an era dominated by a system of patronage. The early Vienna years were marked by the prodigious composition of keyboard concertos (there were six completed in 1784, the year of the composition of the keyboard concerto K.453), most of them destined for his own performance at subscription concerts and ‘academies’; the latter being well-attended ‘epic’ concerts which Mozart would organize to showcase himself as performer and composer. The Concerto in G major K.453 was composed for an ‘academie’ given by Mozart’s pupil, Barbara Ployer, on June 10, 1784. While most concertos up to 1784 were composed somewhat pragmatically in a ‘galant’ chamber music style and with allowances for a reduced orchestra in which the wind parts would be optional, Mozart shifted his ideals early that year to create concertos ‘which would be bound to make the performer sweat’. These concertos, starting with the keyboard concerto K.450 are increasingly symphonic in nature and contain significant wind parts, creating a true battle between soloist and orchestra.

Typical of Mozart’s G major, the concerto opens with music that expresses a somewhat naive happiness or contentment. This naiveté soon dissipates as the composer turns the wheel of his kaleidoscope and reveals within this happiness hues of comedy, tenderness, passion and uncertainty. The slow movement is remarkable for its departure from the home key of C major. At first, Mozart seemingly evokes an innocent tenderness, but his use of chromaticism and his far-reaching modulations generate some of his most passionate music. The last movement is composed in variation form, a genre popular with the audiences of the time, and ends with an extensive finale section. The dramatic rhetoric of this movement recalls the operatic discourse; in particular, either by its key or by some of its volubility, it anticipates The Magic Flute. The cadenzas used in today’s performance were composed by Mozart. – Notes by Frédéric Lacroix

Iraqi National Orchestra

Here is a moving report on the Iraqi national symphony.
A few excerpt from the article;
"The musicians are running out of things like reeds and strings, and few music stores remain open in Iraq, partly because militant Islamists have bombed several. Players must worry about offending fundamentalist militiamen and Islamist neighbors."


"This orchestra represents the real map of Iraq,” Mr. Nasser, 48, said as Mr. Baban lighted a cigarette. “This man is Kurdish, there’s another man there who’s Christian. This is a real national symphony. The ties among us are unbreakable.”


“My wife says: ‘Please don’t go. Life is very bad in Baghdad. There’s a lot of death in Baghdad,’ ” he said. “She tries to prevent me from coming, but I have to come. We can’t survive without music. It’s like oxygen.”

Not being able to rehearse in Bailey Hall during concert week is an inconvenience, but it is always good to remember what others who are less fortunate must go through to play music.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Poster for the October 1st concert

Here is the poster to our first concert of the year.
The concert will feature both the Chamber Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra.
Program will include;
W.A. Mozart Piano Concerto no. 17 in G Major, K. 453
with Frederic Lacroix(Student of Malcolm Bilson), fortepiano
W.A. Mozart Magic Flute Overture
Leonard Bernstein Divertimento for Orchestra
and a surprise by both orchestras to close the concert.

classical music quiz

How well do you know classical music?
Follow the link for the quiz.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Gabriela Lena Frank with Silk Road Ensemble

One of our former guest composer, Gabriela Lena Frank is featured with the Silk Road Ensemble. We hope to include more living composers on our programs.

Richard Dyer retires

Here is a link to an article by the now retired Boston Globe writer Richard Dyer.
I am especially inspired by the following statistic;

"Richard Dyer retired this month as classical music critic for The Boston Globe. Over 33 years, he wrote more than 12,000 articles about the arts for the Globe."

That is simply one person's contributions to arts in our society.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Free Beehoven Fifth download

Philadelphia Orchestra has launched a music store. They are offering a free download of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony conducted Christoph Eschenbach.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New Architecture building

This afternoon the Architecture department will announce a new design by Rem Koolhaas.
I have included the picture here. Construction is to start 2007 for about two years.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Orchestral news from around the globe

Here are some headlines concerning music around the world.
If you find an interesting article email it to me and I will post it.

Comparing New Opera Houses In Oslo And Toronto "Where Toronto opted to build an opera house that serves its purpose and nothing beyond, Norwegians understood that such a project must address more than the narrow spectrum of opera lovers. Oslo is also in the process of burying its elevated waterfront highway and its railway tracks. The objective is to reintegrate the old harbourlands back into the city, and transform it into a mixed-use neighbourhood where people live and work. What better way to launch the regeneration than by building an opera house?" Toronto Star 09/17/06

The Met In Times Square Metropolitan Opera "General Manager Peter Gelb said on Friday the September 25 opening night performance of Puccini's 'Madama Butterfly,' directed by filmmaker Anthony Minghella, would be beamed live to Times Square on a giant screen." Yahoo! (Reuters) 09/15/06

What If Mozart Had Lived? "Mozart’s death in 1791 was probably caused by streptococcal infection, renal failure, terminal bronchial pneumonia and a matrix of other illnesses, some dating from his childhood, when the Mozart family spent years touring Europe to show off the boy genius and, to a lesser extent, his sister. Imagine how different music history would have been had Mozart lived..." The New York Times 09/17/06

Indianapolis Symphony Gets A New Contract The Indianapolis Symphony has a new contract with its musicians. It provides for wage increases in each of its three years, a contast to the previous contract, which got significant compensation concessions from the players. Indianapolis Star 09/17/06

Classical Music, The Alt Intro New To classical music and looking for a good introduction? Sure there are the classics, the greats to recommend. But Andrew Adler has an alternative list to try to tempt you. Louisville Courier-Journal 09/17/06

Runnicles Out At SF Opera David Runnicles will leave his post as music director of San Francisco Opera after 14 years. "We came to the conclusion that it was in mutual best interest of Donald and the company to maintain our relationship, but to give each party the freedom to pursue other options." San Francisco Chronicle 09/16/06

From The Top To TV From the Top has become one of NPR’s more popular programs, and is "distributed to some 250 NPR outlets and boasts some 750,000 listeners." Now it will be on TV too, in a new series broadcast from Carnegie Hall. Musical America 09/15/06

Paris Finally Gets A Home Back For Classical Music "Paris had become one of the last major western capitals without a world-class space devoted exclusively to symphony concerts and a permanent home for its orchestras. But the French government yesterday set out to reclaim the city's classical music heritage, unveiling a €30m refurbishment of the Art Deco Salle Pleyel in Paris." The Guardian (UK) 09/14/06

Robertson Gets Extension In St. Louis The St. Louis Symphony has extended the contract of popular music director David Robertson through 2010. The orchestra has enjoyed a resurgence since Robertson took over in 2005, and the new contract continues the trend of American orchestras locking up their maestros long-term, once it becomes clear that the fit is a good one. St. Louis Post-Dispatch 09/14/06

UK To Allow Instruments Back On Board In response to public outcry (and what it says is a diminished threat level,) the UK's Department of Transport says it expects to relax restrictions on airline carry-on bags by next week. "The changes are likely to mean bulky items, including musical instruments, will be allowed as carry-on baggage." Some restrictions, including bans on liquids and gels, are likely to remain in place for the time being. The Guardian (UK) 09/14/06

Conducting Comp Has Its First Female Winner The Sir Georg Solti International Conductors' Competition is only four years old, but it has already become one of the top conducting awards in the world. This year, it's also making a bit of history, handing out its top prize to a woman for the first time: 31-year-old Shi-Yeon Sung of South Korea "receives a €15,000 prize and a concert date with the Frankfurt Museum Orchestra and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony." PlaybillArts 09/14/06

Lebrecht: Why Shouldn't Musicians Have To Fly Like The Rest Of Us? Norman Lebrecht is unconvinced by British musicians' protests over new airline carry-on restrictions. "If an exception were made for concert soloists, executives would demand to carry their laptops, nursing mothers their baby kits and would-be jihadis their special-mix drinks. It is not even in the musicians’ own interest to set them apart as a special case for that would separate them from the rest of the human race at a time when their greatest need, in classics and jazz, is to be seen as integral and essential to the emotions and rhythms of the modern world." La Scena Musicale 09/13/06

Indianapolis International Violin Competition Finalists Finalists include musicians from South Korea, Italy, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, the US and Germany. would be the "survivors." They're competing for $250,000 in prizes. Indianapolis Star 09/13/06

Chicago Concertmaster To Retire After 48 years, the Chicago Symphony's long-time concertmaster is going to retire. "Samuel Magad made his debut with the CSO at 11 as the winner of the CSO youth auditions. He joined the first violin section in 1958 under music director Fritz Reiner and was named assistant concertmaster in 1966. Georg Solti appointed him concertmaster in 1972." Chicago Tribune 09/13/06

Birmingham Orchestra Launches Podcast The City of Birmingham Orchestra is launching a monthly podcast. "Members of the public will be invited to review recent concerts, and each recording will aim to explain how the musicians work together. Each free podcast can be downloaded through the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's website." BBC 09/12/06

iTunes' Classical Top Ten Classical music sells on iTunes in greater numbers than in CD stores. But what are the most popular downloads? The list is revealing, writes Marc Geelhoed. Slate 09/12/06

Baltimore Symphony Contract Talks Going Well? "Both sides negotiating a new contract for Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians have maintained a media blackout, but, with the current contract set to expire Saturday night after the annual BSO gala, there are a few favorable signs - and also potential concerns. ... As the orchestra's management aims to balance a budget after a string of annual deficits, negotiating points may include the orchestra's size and the length of its season - factors that can affect the BSO's reputation and ability to attract and retain talent." Baltimore Sun 09/12/06

Paris' Salle Pleyel Reopening After four years of renovation, Paris' Salle Pleyel reopens this week. The theatre is the Carnegie Hall of Paris. "The acoustics used to be a weakness of the Salle Pleyel. To improve them, architect Francois Ceria and Artec Consultants Inc., the acclaimed New York sound gurus, have encircled the platform with a wooden wall and added four narrow side balconies and a number of rows behind the orchestra, replacing the old Cavaille-Coll organ with a human reflector." 09/11/06

Claim: New UK Airline Carry-on Restrictions Killing Musical Life "Restrictions on hand luggage, intended to reduce the volume of baggage going through cabin security checks, have had a devastating impact on performers. Musicians who were used to stowing their Stradivarius in the cabin fear that irreplaceable instruments will be smashed by a careless baggage handler or wrecked by freezing temperatures in the hold. Instead, they are cancelling concerts or enduring exhausting train journeys." The Guardian (UK) 09/11/06

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ocean Symphony with Jack Black

Hilarious video.
I especially like Henry Wrinkler's expression as the cymbal is hit behind him.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Classical music news roundup

Here are some interesting news from around the world.

Compleat Mozart For Pennies On The Disk A new set of 170 CDs contains the complete music of Mozart. It costs about 70 cents per disk. "The complete recorded works of composers are nothing new, but this issue is rare for its low cost and popularity, at least in Europe. And there is something compelling about its compactness: your fingers can walk through Mozart�s entire output in a few minutes." The New York Times 09/04/06

The UK's Top 10 Orchestras - A List Richard Morrison makes a list, ranking Britain's major orchestras. At the top? Halle... The Times (UK) 08/31/06

Two Bach Manuscripts Discovered The earliest-known manuscripts to be written by JS Bach have been discovered in a fire-damaged library. "The two manuscripts date from around 1700 and contain copies Bach made of organ music composed by Dietrich Buxtehude and Johann Adam Reinken. Researchers found the documents in the archives of the Duchess Anna Amalia library in Weimar, where a previously unknown aria by Bach was discovered last year." Yahoo! (AP) 08/31/06

Can The World Get Excited About A Haydn Birthday? The world has been awash in Mozart this year. Three years from now it's a major Haydn birthday. "While just about everyone alive has been exposed to Mozart if only on a ring-tone or a lonely bus station, you could play Haydn seek all day long on Oxford Street without finding a single shopper who can name one of his works or whistle a theme. In the Classic FM Hall of Fame, that rough guide to middlebrow taste, Haydn does not rank at all in the top 100 and even at the BBC Proms he gets just three nods in eight long weeks. How, demand the marketing men, do we sell something so resolutely obscure?" La Scena Musicale 08/30/06

Why Seattle's Musicians Are Leaving "Over the past couple of years, significant members of Seattle's music community have been drifting south, drawn by Portland's inexpensive cost of living and vibrant creative community. Scott McCaughey, Michael Maker, Chris Walla, Tucker Martine, and Laura Veirs are my neighbors. That you might not have noticed can be partially attributed to our somewhat nomadic lifestyles, but it also speaks volumes about how disconnected the once-cohesive Seattle music scene has felt lately. In a lot of respects, Portland has become Seattle's hot new neighborhood." The Stranger 08/31/06

Early Music Heaven The Utrecht Early Music Festival offers 100 concerts in a week. "About 55,000 people will attend. More than half of the concerts are free; most of the rest have ticket prices around 15 euros, or a little under $20. About 25 concerts are broadcast live. Seen from the United States, where classical radio is courting extinction, you wonder whether this is utopia." Philadelphia Inquirer 08/31/06

Orchestra On The Move (Literally) How do you move a large symphony orchestra around Europe? It's a ballet of trunks and containers. "The payload has its own itinerary, flying from Toronto to Rome to Athens to begin the tour, while the musicians flew through Frankfurt. The cargo has its own seating arrangement, with each case holding multiple instruments stacked like a Tetris game on pallets loaded into the plane. It also has its own strict program -- an important customs document called the carnet that is as strictly adhered to as any concert personnel chart." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 08/30/06