Friday, October 22News That Matters

Tag: Classical Music

Concert Halls Are Back. But Visa Backlogs Are Keeping Musicians Out.

Concert Halls Are Back. But Visa Backlogs Are Keeping Musicians Out.

LifeStyle
When the Seattle Symphony finally performed before a full audience last month for the first time in a year and half, something was missing: its music director, the Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard, who could not get a visa to travel to the United States.The New York Philharmonic had to find a last-minute substitute this week for the esteemed Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, who could not get a visa, either. The Metropolitan Opera had to replace two Russian singers in its production of “Boris Godunov.” And the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, a British chamber orchestra that has been regularly visiting the United States since 1980, had to abandon a 10-city tour.As the easing of coronavirus restrictions has allowed live performance to return, many cultural organizations are strugglin...
Louise Farrenc, 19th-Century Composer, Surges Back Into Sound

Louise Farrenc, 19th-Century Composer, Surges Back Into Sound

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“They are written in a style that is both Romantic and Classical, with a great thematic and harmonic originality, both poetic and energetic,” said the conductor Laurence Equilbey, who released recordings of the First and Third with the Insula Orchestra this summer and leads the Third with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston on Nov. 5 and 7. “Her music is not as avant-garde as that of Berlioz, for example, but it is so solidly constructed.”Craft was Farrenc’s trademark, one she honed in a strikingly supportive environment. Born Jeanne-Louise Dumont in 1804, she came from a line of court sculptors and grew up among artists resident at the Sorbonne. Her brother Auguste’s “The Spirit of Liberty” still crowns the Place de la Bastille.Farrenc learned piano and theory from 6, tutored by a godm...
Jazz and Opera Come Together in ‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones’

Jazz and Opera Come Together in ‘Fire Shut Up in My Bones’

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“Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” which opened the Metropolitan Opera’s season last week, was a milestone: the company’s first work by a Black composer. The music, by Terence Blanchard —  a jazz trumpeter also known for his scores for Spike Lee films — has earned praise from both classical and jazz critics.The New York Times’s chief classical critic Anthony Tommasini described “a compositional voice dominated by lushly chromatic and modal harmonic writing, spiked with jagged rhythms and tart dissonance.” The jazz writer Nate Chinen wrote for NPR that “the smooth deployment of extended jazz harmony, often in breathing, fleeting passages, marks the piece as modern — as does the work of a rhythm section nestled within the orchestra.”The Times sent two more critics to the second performanc...

At 75, the Ojai Music Festival Stays Focused on the Future

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OJAI, Calif. — Returning is a process. Rarely is it linear.The Ojai Music Festival, for instance, returned, Sept. 16-19, to celebrate its 75th year after a long pandemic absence. But there were setbacks among the comebacks. Compromises were made to accommodate its move from spring to the final days of summer. An artist was held up in Spain by travel restrictions. Diligently enforced safety measures slightly harshed the vibe of this storied event, a rigorous yet relaxing haven for contemporary music tucked in an idyllic valley of straight-faced mysticism and sweet Pixie tangerines.This edition of the festival is the first under the leadership of Ara Guzelimian, back at the helm after a run in the 1990s. Each year, the person in his position organizes the programming with a new music directo...

A Giant Violin Floats Down Venice’s Grand Canal

Travel
VENICE — In its 1,600-odd years, any number of phantasmagorical vessels have floated down Venice’s Grand Canal, often during regattas or elaborate ceremonies dedicated to the sea. On Saturday morning, a decidedly unusual head-turner took a spin: a gigantic violin, carrying a string quartet playing Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”The craft, called “Noah’s Violin,” set sail accompanied by an escort of gondolas, and in no time a small flotilla of motorboats, water taxis and traditional flat-bottomed Venetian sandoli joined the violin as it glided from city hall, near the Rialto Bridge, to the ancient Customs House across from Piazza San Marco, about an hour’s ride.The vessel is a faithful, large-scale replica of a real violin, made from about a dozen different kinds of wood, with nuts and bolts insi...
Jaap van Zweden to Step Down as New York Philharmonic’s Maestro

Jaap van Zweden to Step Down as New York Philharmonic’s Maestro

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Jaap van Zweden, the New York Philharmonic’s hard-charging music director, announced on Wednesday that he would leave his post at the end of the 2023-24 season, saying that the pandemic had made him rethink his life and priorities.Van Zweden, 60, said in an interview that the upheaval of the pandemic had prompted him to reconsider his relationship with the orchestra, which he has led since 2018, as well as with his family, which he rarely got to see during his globe-trotting days before the Covid crisis. He said he felt it would be the right moment to move on, with the orchestra set to return to the newly renovated David Geffen Hall next fall, a year and a half ahead of schedule.“It is not out of frustration, it’s not out of anger, it’s not out of a difficult situation,” he said. “It’s jus...
Review: For 9/11 Tribute, the Met Opera Returns Home

Review: For 9/11 Tribute, the Met Opera Returns Home

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What it meant to be in the audience at the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday evening — for the first indoor performance there since March 2020 — was clear even before the music began.The theater’s doors had been closed to listeners for 18 months, almost to the day. After standing on lines that extended out into the Lincoln Center plaza and showing proof of vaccination, it felt almost unreal to me to be back in the gilded auditorium for Verdi’s Requiem, the company’s commemoration of the 20th anniversary of 9/11.As the audience entered, the orchestra musicians were already seated onstage. Then the members of the chorus, wearing face masks, started filing onto the raised rows of seats behind the players.It began slowly, with some claps here and there. Then built into vigorous applause and bravo...
The Met Opera Races to Reopen After Months of Pandemic Silence

The Met Opera Races to Reopen After Months of Pandemic Silence

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Tera Willis was backstage at the Metropolitan Opera, painstakingly adding strand after strand of salt-and-pepper hair to a half-finished wig — one of dozens she and her team were racing to finish in time for opening night later this month after the pandemic had kept performers from getting measured until mid-August.“I would love about six months,” Ms. Willis, the head of the company’s wig and makeup department, said. “We have six weeks.”In the Met’s underground rehearsal rooms, chorus members were straining to project through the masks they must rehearse in, a few pulling the fabric a couple of inches from their face for a moment or two. Just outside its gilded auditorium, which has been empty since the pandemic forced the opera house to close a year and half ago, stagehands were reupholst...
The Changing American Canon Sounds Like Jessie Montgomery

The Changing American Canon Sounds Like Jessie Montgomery

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The history of classical music in the United States is one long identity crisis: the search for a homegrown sound, free from European influence. That anxiety has manifested itself time and again as self-sabotage, with some composers — almost always white men — exalted as pathbreakers, while truly original work coming from artists of color has been overlooked.That has changed in recent years: in fits and starts, then suddenly, with the wave of Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Classical institutions en masse have made earnest, if sometimes clumsy, efforts to rise to the moment and grant overdue attention to the marginalized composers who have always had answers to the question of America’s musical identity.One composer the field has especially turned to...
5 Minutes That Will Make You Love the Trumpet

5 Minutes That Will Make You Love the Trumpet

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In the past we’ve chosen the five minutes or so we would play to make our friends fall in love with classical music, piano, opera, cello, Mozart, 21st-century composers, violin, Baroque music, sopranos, Beethoven, flute, string quartets, tenors, Brahms, choral music, percussion, symphonies and Stravinsky.Now we want to convince those curious friends to love the trumpet. We hope you find lots here to discover and enjoy; leave your favorites in the comments.◆ ◆ ◆Javier C. Hernández, Times classical music and dance reporterThe musical term “intrada” suggests a fanfare, music to mark an entrance. This one, written in 1947 by the Swiss composer Arthur Honegger, captures the many personalities of the trumpet: noble and bombastic, mischievous and meditative. Hakan Hardenberger seamlessly glides b...