May 24, 2017

in: Reviews

Maternal Mortality and Small Forces

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Lifetime Learning Sounds of Music Performance Series showcased works by Debussy and Brahms last Monday at Temple Shalom in West Newton, with violinist Edward Wu, hornist Peter Kronheimer, and pianist Noam Elkies bringing depth and polish to the two pieces.    [continued]

May 24, 2017

in: Reviews

Expiation and Organs

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“Hell and Reason” at Old West Church Boston on Sunday joined a timely and topical lecture by writer Laura Sewell Matter with a recital on the C. B. Fisk organ by Christa Rakich.    [continued]

May 23, 2017

in: Reviews

Last Conductor Tryout

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Sunday at All Saints Parish the Brookline SO was led by another MD candidate, and the results again were top-drawer.    [continued]

May 22, 2017

in: Reviews

Puccini’s Swallow Soars and Circles

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Boston Opera Collaborative’s thrifty “remixed” La Rondine, itself an operetta-style jam-up of Butterfly and Bohème plus something of La Marseillaise, concluded its run of nonstop swirling stage business at the Central Square Theater Sunday.    [continued]

May 21, 2017

in: Reviews

Chameleon Paints With Music

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Chameleon Arts Ensemble delivered a stirring, multi-faceted concert of works on the theme “from the painter’s hand” for its season closer on Saturday at First Church, Boston.    [continued]

May 21, 2017

in: Reviews

Mysterious Goings-On at N-1

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The budding musicians of Trio Notturno filled Room N-1 with Debussy and Tōru Takemitsu. The Trio also commissioned a work by Boston composer Andy Vores, who was on hand to introduce it.    [continued]

May 19, 2017

in: Reviews

Essential Demon Beckons

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You really need to see the Commonwealth Lyric Theater’s take on Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon when it repeats at the Majestic on Saturday.    [continued]

May 19, 2017

in: Reviews

Bohemian Girls Have Fun

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A new all-femme take on Puccini’s opera enlivens the Metrowest mounting which continues at the Mosesian Center through Sunday.    [continued]

May 19, 2017

in: Reviews

Gramercy Close Up

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Gramercy Trio tendered short and French at the Community Music Center of Boston. Saint-Saëns and Fauré trios gleamed with consequence in the cozy space of Allen Hall.    [continued]

May 19, 2017

in: Reviews

Eureka Finds It

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With underperformed, brand-new, and standard offerings, the new Eureka Ensemble got off to a fine start last Sunday at St. Paul’s Cathedral.    [continued]

May 17, 2017

in: Reviews

Back Bay Chorale: From Chaos to Bliss

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Filling the stage of Sanders Theater on Sunday, the Back Bay Chorale of some 118 singers, along with a 44-member orchestra, gave a rousing performance of Haydn’s much-loved masterpiece, The Creation.    [continued]

May 14, 2017

in: Reviews

19-Year-Old Lu in Chopin to Prokofiev

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By the end of pianist Eric Lu’s Jordan Hall concert yesterday, little doubt remained as to his extraordinary facility, power, and lightning speed.    [continued]

May 13, 2017

in: Reviews

Fons et Origo with Cantata Singers

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Following a shared Sabbath meal of candlelight, bread and wine, the Cantata Singers treated us to a vast range of religious sentiment by means of beautifully interlinked Honegger and Wyner at Jordan Hall on Friday.    [continued]

May 13, 2017

in: Reviews

In Sight and Sound, E.T. Hits Home

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To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, conductor Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops accompanied the movie performing the score in its entirety last night (repeating this afternoon), with some additional material composed for live performance.    [continued]

May 12, 2017

in: Reviews

Anniversary Fanfare Before Organ Goes Silent

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Holy Cross Cathedral’s Hook & Hastings marked its 141st year on Sunday as four organists channeled Buxtehude to Krasinski.    [continued]

May 9, 2017

in: Reviews

Euro-Latin Confluence Flows

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Rumbarroco’s benefit in early May at Brookline’s United Parish seriously gratified by introducing the Baroque to Venezuela, and vice-versa.    [continued]

May 8, 2017

in: Reviews

Hamelin, and Dancing Rhinos!

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For the Boston Celebrity Series at Jordan Hall on Saturday night, pianist Marc-André Hamelin once again showered us with aristocratic and joyous musicmaking.    [continued]

May 8, 2017

in: Reviews

Felicitous Mendelssohn Rarities Delivered

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On an amber alert night of flash-flood warnings, an intrepid audience trekked to Sanders Theater to hear the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus join forces with period-instrument orchestra Grand Harmonie for two under-performed but fine choral works of Felix Mendelssohn.    [continued]

May 8, 2017

in: Reviews

BSCP Bewildering and Beautiful

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The Boston Symphony Chamber Players’ offering at Jordan Hall Sunday encompassed a bewildering variety in approach and style; only the final movement of the closing piece roused the somewhat sleepy audience.    [continued]

May 6, 2017

in: Reviews

Panting, Pining and Fireworks from Handel

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Friday night’s vicious wet gale fanned the Avenue of the Arts glade, pelting patrons arriving for Handel+Haydn’s transparent traversal of Handel’s Semele. Enthusiasts of the form should consider attending Sunday afternoon’s reprise.    [continued]

May 5, 2017

in: Reviews

BSO’s Masterfully Muted Closer

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The orchestra ended its season with a sell-out (reprises remain for this afternoon and Saturday night) featuring Mahler 4, Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 4 and Shostakovich’s Lear.    [continued]

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May 24, 2017

in: News & Features

Island Musical Mentality

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Following an opening night gala by Renaissance Men, Boston’s acclaimed male vocal chamber ensemble on June 2nd, at 7:30 in the Village Church, the Nahant Music Festival has inked three concerts and associated masterclasses during the subsequent 7 days and nights. The complete schedule is here.

Artistic director/baritone Don Wilkinson, a Boston fixture for 30+ years, and his festival are herein profiled in a first person-styled account by executive director Eric Christopher Perry.

I was born in Salem, and so I’ve always been a North Shore guy! I’ve lived in the Boston area my whole life. My mom was very instrumental in getting me piano lessons when I was age 6. I was in the children’s choir at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Salem. Throughout my time at Beverly High School, I had a wonderful musical education there. I wanted to study music in college, but I was reluctant because I heard that it was very difficult to make a living, especially in the beginning. So, I chose Lowell University and did electrical engineering, but I also studied voice with Ivan Oke. [continued…]

May 22, 2017

in: News & Features

Sharpening La Rondine

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Reworking or remixing opera classics constitutes one of the hot current trends in American opera circles. Such transformations require more than a matter of rushing tempos and trimming dead space: in most operas, this requires significant rearrangements to the score and changes to the libretto, with choruses, duets, and even arias on the cutting room floor. These changes open the door to reworking classics to try and make them more interesting or relevant to modern audiences, recapturing their resonance with the opera’s original audience.

To some, editing an opera in this fashion is disrespectful to the composer. The practice, however, is actually rooted in historical practice; Verdi and Donizetti regularly revised old works to try and keep pace with changing fashions and local tastes, with whole scenes and arias sometimes on the cutting block. Even the short-lived Mozart revised his operas based on the context — in Don Giovanni, for example, Don Ottavio’s “Dalla sua pace” and “Il mio tesoro” are alternate arias for the same occasion in the moment (while both are beautiful, doing both is generally excessive). Traveling productions often ran afoul of provincial censors demanding changes — some of which were highly specific as to the maximum duration when using their theater.

Across the country, Boston Opera Collaborative, an unusual opera company in which all singers also participate in creative and administrative work, is staging its new “remix” of Giacomo Puccini’s La Rondine. The Twin Cities Arts Reader’s Basil Considine spoke with Patricia-Maria Weinmann, the Co-Artistic Director of Boston Opera Collaborative, about updating this rarely performed gem.

Excluding the two operas that Puccini wrote in his 20s, La Rondine is probably the least-performed of his operatic works. What drew you to this one? [continued…]

May 16, 2017

in: Reviews

Refugee Orchestra Project and the Artist as Activist

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Lidiya Yankovskaya

Conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya’s Refugee Orchestra Project will bring together hundreds of performers—instrumentalists and singers whose friends and families have fled to this country to escape violence and persecution—for a single, large-scale performance that loudly proclaims these individuals’ importance to our culture, at First Church, 11 Garden Street in Cambridge on Monday at 8PM.

The benefit features a full symphony orchestra and soloists—including award-winning sopranos Amal El-Shrafi and Zhanna Alkhazova – performing works by refugee composers such as Iranian composer Gity Razaz, Bela Bartok, and Irving Berlin, as well as music that involves refugee themes written by Verdi and Puccini, among others. The concert will showcase, through music, the positive impact those who have come to this country seeking safety and a better life have had on American culture and society. More on the event is here.

Yankovskaya responded to our invitation to speak her mind.

In recent years, American classical music artists have largely shied away from politics. We rely so heavily on donations and ticket sales that the risk of alienating a supporter has become our greatest fear. Besides, given our propensity to perfect every skill before we perform, we tend to be (wisely) cautious when stating strong opinions in an area outside our expertise. However, any art is an expression of the world around us, and our world has changed dramatically. [continued…]

May 7, 2017

in: News & Features

A French-American Nexus at Le Lab

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Composer John Aylward

In the May 19th conclusion of ECCE Ensembles’ two-year residency at Kendell Square’s Le Laboratoire, cross-cultural influence and dialogues will permeate. Ecce has already explored French composers Jean-Baptiste Barriére and Frank Bedrossian, as well as the excitingly imaginative opera by ECCE’s own John Aylward. Rather than simply contrasting the somewhat disjunct ideals of American and French artists, the ensemble has emerged with a connection-filled community which plans to offer musics of a  fearlessly cross-disciplinary and exploratory nature.

On May 19th, ECCE’s pairing of compositions by Philippe Hurel and John Aylward will further offer a clear exposé on influence and homage. Hurel’s Pour Luigi and In Memoriam a Berio showcases his admiration for the iconic champions of contemporary European music, Luigi Nono (1924-1990) and Luciano Berio (1925-2003). The world premiere of Aylward’s homage to mentor and guide Lee Hyla, Angelus Novus, plays a central role in concluding this residency. Aylward’s Daedalus (2014) rounds off the program.

For BMInt, Aylward elucidates ECCE’s residency and the French-American connection, while providing a sneak peek into its spring concert.

D.S.: In your two-year residency at Le Laboratoire in Cambridge, you have been able to put on a variety of projects of both a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary scope. What was your focus this year? [continued…]

April 20, 2017

in: Reviews

Celebs Ink Hub Gigs

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Perlman to sell out
(Lisa Maria Mazucco photo)

The Celebrity Series of Boston’s next season, going on sale [here] this week, will include 49 music, dance, and entertainment engagements, including: a 5-performance debut series, 2 orchestras, 13 ensembles, 4 piano recitals, 5 instrumental recitals, 3 vocal recitals, 12 jazz and popular song performances, 7 dance companies, and three spoken word performances.

Classical highlights of the 2017-2018 Season include: Los Angeles Philharmonic with Gustavo Dudamel, Orchestra dell Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, with conductor Sir Antonio Pappano & piano soloist Martha Argerich, Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma, Pianist Evgeny Kissin with the Emerson String Quartet, tenor Lawrence Brownlee and bass-baritone Eric Owens, mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, and Daniil Trifonov, joining his esteemed teacher Sergei Babayan in a two-piano performance.

A rundown of the shows most likely of interest to BMInt readers is HERE.

Gary Dunning, the fourth leader of the Celebrity Series over its 73 history, shared some thoughts:

FLE: From the press release it’s not easy to figure out how many of the Series’s presentations are classical. Please tell us what the mix is and how it has changed over the years. [continued…]

April 17, 2017

in: News & Features

CLT Conjures Majestic Demon

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Three weeks from now Commonwealth Lyric Theater mounts, they tell us, the nearly 150-year-late Boston premiere of The Demon, the 1871 Russian operatic masterpiece telling of the immortal Demon falling in love with a mortal beauty in the mountains of Georgia. The Demon will tread the Cutler Majestic Theater boards on May 18th and 20th.

Artistic Director Alexander Prokhorov brings to the stage Anton Rubinstein’s romantic drama, based on a famous poem by Mikhail Lermontov, which portrays a protagonist dwelling in isolation and weary with the weight of immortality. Wandering the earth, he encounters the princess Tamara, who overwhelms him with emotion. In his greedy passion, the Demon destroys Tamara’s fiancé and claims her for himself. Tamara returns compassion toward the Demon and his tortured spirit, and they embrace—but his kiss is fatal.

The fully staged and costumed production, with orchestra under Lidiya Yankovskaya, will feature great Russian-born soloists (Alexey Bogdanov and Zhanna Alkhazova), folkdance ensemble from Georgia (PESVEBI), spectacular design including visual elements by artists from Moscow and Vienna, authentic Georgian Dance Ensemble with their notorious sword dancing, an international cast of other soloists, and choruses of adults and children.

BMInt interrogated a couple of the CLT principals as follows: [continued…]

April 13, 2017

in: News & Features

‘Soir des Femmes’ Bigger and Better

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Charlotte McKechnie

Nine months ago I reported on an enterprising group of young musicians who performed scenes from operas by historic female composers. However, the venue had only an electric piano, not what the enterprise deserved. So now Charlotte McKechnie and her “Soir” is back, and the Brookline Public Library Hunneman Hall venue has a Steinway baby grand. This revived and expanded event, including music of four centuries, is set to soar artistically. Selections from two works have been added: Justine F. Chen’s 2007 Jeanne and the little-known Cabildo by Boston’s own Amy Beach, being fêted this year to celebrate her 150th birthday.

Over two evenings of rehearsal I saw the concert take shape. McKechnie, soprano and impresario—also organizer, instigator, producer, and stage director—will be leaving the area to start a master’s program in Glasgow. With these six varied works, all of them underappreciated, she promises to make an artistic mark on the landscape. She is joined for the ‘Soir’ by music director Maxwell Phillips and remarkable accompanist Stephanie Mao, as well as the singers discussed below. It’s time to further acknowledge women’s history of achievement in music, through the recovery of underexposed works. [continued…]

April 12, 2017

in: News & Features

Crying With Teeth

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Sarah Darling

Getting ready for our Celebrity Series concert tomorrow at Sanders, I’m standing with a violist and a singer to my left, a cellist to my right, and another singer just behind us. Across the stage, the 18 musicians of A Far Cry and the 8 singers of Roomful of Teeth have interspersed themselves into a single space. We’re about 10 seconds into our first pass at Caroline Shaw’s arrangement of Josquin des Prez’s lament Nymphes des Bois, and frankly, we haven’t found our way quite yet. Our individual polyphonic strands are trying to match up with the others, and to be in sync across the stage. Waves of sound and intention collide, unintentional dissonances form and subside, glances shoot up from the score as we try to right ourselves. It seems like we’ll need to stop and try a new strategy when suddenly, the feeling of shared pulse just clicks into rightness, and like that, we’re good.  Instrumental lines and vocal lines merge into a single intention, harmonies bloom, and we move forwards through the piece, suddenly dancing together in what T. S. Eliot would call “a formal pattern.”

[continued…]

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