Friday, November 17, 2017

Portland Youth Philharmonic uncorks 94th season with terrific opening concert

Works by Beethoven, Chopin, and Dvořák received polished performances by the Portland Youth Philharmonic, which opened its 94th season on Saturday evening (November 11) to a fairly large audience at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. While the spotlight fell on Natalie Tan, who played Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto with grace and élan, the orchestra under music director David Hattner excelled with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and Dvořák’s “Hussite Overture.”

It was interesting to find out that this was the first time that the PYP had performed Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto, one of the most popular in the repertoire. The program notes suggested that the concerto’s heavy emphasis on the piano and its relatively light orchestration might have been the reason for the delay. In any case, Tan, winner of the 2016-2017 PYP Piano Concerto Competition, tossed off numerous runs and beautiful melodies with a keen sense for color and line. In her hands, the keyboard sang with a bel canto flourish, and the mazurka in the finale sparkled. Her artistry, aided by wonderfully sensitive accompaniment from the orchestra, swept up the listeners so much that vigorously applauded at the end of each movement. At least three bouquets were given to Tan after the piece ended.

Hattner and his forces held absolutely nothing back in its performance of Beethoven’s Fifth. They got off to a quick start that featured sharp and pinpoint attacks. Within a few bars, the musicians were rocking and rolling with the piece, and electrified the audience. The strings – including the large cello section – deftly negotiated a number of wickedly fast passages with remarkable panache! A couple of listeners in front of me had never heard the PYP before and just couldn’t believe that a youth orchestra could play so well. They were among the first people to jump out of the seats and applaud and cheer. Although there were some missed notes, the performance was exceptional for its power and energy. Playing by the principal oboist and clarinetist and the French horns highlighted the performance.

With its first-ever performance of Dvořák’s “Hussite Overture,” the orchestra also delivered a committed and thoroughly engaging performance. The stately hymn established by the woodwinds and strings was supported solidly by the French horns. Outstanding dynamic contrasts with crescendos and decrescendos coupled with a crisp series of sforzandos and a quickening pace turned the piece in an exciting Bohemian barnburner.

The concert featured a different timpanist for each piece. Each player had a different style that was fun to watch, and each of them contributed outstandingly. In general, all of the musicians played at the very high level that Hattner demanded, which made the concert a joy to hear.

Today's Birthdays

Ernest Lough (1911-2000)
Hershy Kay (1919-1981)
Leonid Kogan (1924-1982)
Sir Charles Mackerras (1925-2010)
David Amram (1930)
Gene Clark (1941-1991)
Philip Picket (1950)
Philip Grange (1956)


Shelby Foote (1916-2006)

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831)
Alfred Hill (1869-1960)
W. C. Handy (1873-1958)
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)
Burnet Tuthill (1888-1982)
Lawrence Tibbett (1896-1960)
Earl Wild (1915-2010)
David Wilson-Johnson (1950)
Donald Runnicles (1954)


George S. Kaufman (1889-1961)
José Saramago (1922-2010)
Chinua Achebe (1930-2013)
Andrea Barrett (1954)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Sir William Herschel (1738-1822)
Annunzio Paolo Mantovani (1905-1980)
Petula Clark (1932)
Peter Dickinson (1934)
Daniel Barenboim (1942)
Pierre Jalbert (1967)


Gerhart Hauptmann (1862-1946)
Franklin Pierce Adams (1881-1960)
Georgia O'Keefe (1887-1986)
Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1926, the first broadcast of a music program took place on the NBC radio network, featuring the New York Symphony conducted by Walter Damrosch, the New York Oratorio Society, and the Goldman Band, with vocal soloists Mary Garden and Tito Ruffo, and pianist Harold Bauer.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837)
Fanny Hensel (1805-1847)
Rev. John Curwen (1816-1880)
Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
Leonie Rysanek (1926-1998)
Jorge Bolet (1914-1990)
Narciso Yepes (1927-1997)
Robert Lurtsema (1931-2000)
Peter Katin (1930-2015)
Ellis Marsalis (1934)
William Averitt (1948)


Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002)
William Steig (1907-2003)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Jan Zach (1699-1773)
Louis Lefébure-Wély (1817-1870)
Brinley Richards (1817-1885)
George Whitefield Chadwick (1854-1931)
Marguerite Long (1874-1966)
Joonas Kokkoken (1921-1996)
Lothar Zagrosek (1942)
Martin Bresnick (1946)


St. Augustine (354-430)
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
George V. Higgins (1939-1999)
Eamon Grennan (1941)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1937, the first "official" radio broadcast by the NBC Symphony Orchestra took place with Pierre Monteux conducting. Arthur Rodzinski had conducted a "dress rehearsal" broadcast on Nov. 2, 1937. Arturo Toscanini's debut broadcast with the NBC Symphony would occur on Christmas Day, 1937

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Alexander Borodin (1833-1887
Jean Papineau-Couture (1916-2000)
Michael Langdon (1920-1991)
Lucia Popp (1939-1993)
Neil Young (1945)


Auguste Rodin (1840-1917)
Roland Barthes (1915-1980)
Michael Ende (1929-1995)
Tracy Kidder (1945)
Katherine Weber (1955)

From the New Music Box:

On November 12, 1925, cornetist Louis Armstrong made the first recordings with a group under his own name for Okeh Records in Chicago, Illinois. The group, called Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, recorded his original compositions, "Gut Bucket Blues" and "Yes! I'm In The Barrel" (Okeh 8261) as well as "My Heart" composed by his wife Lil Hardin who was the pianist in the band. (The flipside of the 78rpm record on which the latter was issued, Okeh 8320, was "Armstrong's composition "Cornet Chop Suey" recorded three months later on February 26, 1926.) Armstrong's Hot Five and subsequent Hot Seven recordings are widely considered to be the earliest masterpieces of recorded jazz.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Musica Maestrale features the Schneiderman- Yamaya duo playing Beethoven on guitar

Hideki Yamaya and John Schneiderman
From Musica Maestrale:

Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017; 7:30PM

Beethoven for Two Guitars

John Schneiderman, terz guitar
Hideki Yamaya, Romantic guitar, terz guitar, Milanese mandolin

MM welcomes back guitar virtuoso John Schneiderman for a program of all Beethoven for two guitars! The Schneiderman - Yamaya Duo just released a CD of arrangements of Beethoven for two guitars by the German label hänssler CLASSIC, which was reviewed very favorably by Classic Guitar Magazine (you can read it here).  The duo is presenting this same program at the prestigious Yale Collection of Musical Instruments in December.  Also included in the program is Beethoven's lesser known works for mandolin and piano, arranged for mandolin and terz guitar. Here's a look at us rehearsing the Sonatine for mandolin and piano (arranged by me for mandolin and terz guitar):

First Christian Church
1314 Park Ave.
Portland, OR 97201

In advance: $18 general; $16 senior; $8 student
At the door: $20 general; $18 senior; $10 student

Today's Birthdays

Bernhard Romberg (1767-1841)
Frederick Stock (1872-1942)
Ernest Ansermet (1883-1969)
Jan Simons (1925-2006)
Arthur Cunningham (1928-1997)
Vernon Handley (1930-2008)
Harry Bramma (1936)
Jennifer Bate (1944)
Fang Man (1977)


Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)
Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007)
Carlos Fuentes (1928-2012)
Mary Gaitskill (1955)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1898, shortly after it was finished, the painting “Nevermore” by Gaugin is purchased by the English composer Frederick Delius. The painting was inspired by Poe’s famous poem and is now in the collection of London’s Cortland Gallery.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Martin Luther (1483-1546)
François Couperin (1668-1733)
John Phillips Marquand (1873-1949)
Ennio Morricone (1928)
Graham Clark (1941)
Sir Tim Rice (1944)
Andreas Scholl (1967)


Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774)
Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)
Vachel Lindsey (1879-1931) John Phillips Marquand (1893-1960)
and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1900, Russian pianist Ossip Gabrilowitsch makes his Carnegie Hall debut in New York City during his first American tour. In 1909 he married contralto Clara Clemens, the daughter of the American writer Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Toradze elevates Vancouver Symphony concert with stellar playing

Salvador Brotons, Alexander Toradze, and Dimitri Zhgenti
Playing the piano quietly and with intense emotion and depth, Alexander Toradze had the audience at Skyview Concert Hall on Sunday evening (November 5) so focused on every note that you could have heard a pin drop. That happened while Toradze performed Scarlatti’s Sonata No 32 in D minor in honor of the victims of the massacre that had happened earlier in the day at a church in Texas. The impromptu gesture from Toradze struck a chord with listeners, and it was followed by his brilliant playing of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto.

Toradze’s mastery of the Prokofiev allowed him to sculpt each tone so that the piece sounded totally new and unique. His playing was ingeniously filled with all sorts of nuances. He would lean into a series of notes or sometimes even one note in a way that made a phrase sound more interesting. On the big screen, it was fun to watch his hands move together up and down the keyboard. Using his incredible artistry, he found something deeper in the music and brought it out. His accellerandos were lightning fast and the lyrical passages were golden.

The audience responded with thunderous applause and the orchestra joined in enthusiastically. Toradze didn’t want to take all of it for himself; so after he went backstage he put his arm around music director Salvador Brotons and dragged him to the front of the stage. Then Toradze decided to give an encore, the pulsating and exciting “Precipitato” from Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No. 7. That electrified the audience once again and more applause erupted from all over the hall.

The orchestra led off the second half of the program with a fine performance of the Divertimento from Stravinsky’s ballet “The Fairy’s Kiss.” Individual members of the orchestra negotiated the tricky passages very well. The principal trombonist and the principal horn player, in particular, gave standout performances, and the principals in the strings and woodwinds had several shining moments as well. Highlights in the fourth movement included a lovely clarinet, cello, and harp combination and the solo by principal flutist Rachel Rencher.

The Suite from Stravinsky’s ballet “The Firebird” also received an outstanding performance from the orchestra. From the ominous sounds of King Kaschei and his cohorts to the majestic glory of the magical Firebird and the final triumphant dance of the prince and princess, the orchestra wonderfully recreated the storyline of the ballet. The playing of principal oboist Alan Jurza was particularly evocative, and the woodwinds and strings, in general, were excellent throughout the piece. Brotons conducted the entire piece from memory, which was an outstanding accomplishment in itself. There are few conductors anywhere who would attempt such a thing, because Stravinsky loved to change meters all over the place.

The concert began with the “Dance of the Persian Slaves” from Mussorgsky’s opera “Khovantschina.” Kris Klavik played the English horn especially well, which may have helped the orchestra to develop a lush and full sound that embraced the lightly exotic music. I noticed that Brotons had rearranged the cellos and violas with the cellos on the outside. We will see if he keeps this arrangement in future concerts.

I spoke with Toradze during intermission, and he asked me to let readers know that he was very upset with the massacre of churchgoers in Texas. He could not fathom how such an event could happen, and the tragic event caused him to ask Brotons if he could play something before the Prokofiev Concerto began. He was very appreciative of Brotons’s willingness to let him do that. The photo at the beginning of this review was given to me by pianist and VSO board member Dimitri Zhgenti, who studied with Toradze. The following photo is also from Zhgenti, showing his students, who came to the performance on Saturday afternoon.

Today's Birthdays

Burrill Phillips (1907-1988)
Pierrette Alarie (1921-2011)
Piero Cappuccilli (1929-2005)
Ivan Moravec (1930-2015)
William Thomas McKinley (1938-2015)
Thomas Quasthoff (1959)
Bryn Terfel (1965)


Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883)
Hugh Leonard (1926-2009)
Anne Sexton (1928-1974)
Carl Sagan (1934-1996)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Oregon Symphony explores theme of "Home" with evocative new play and music

Dipika Guha’s play “Azaan” nearly stole the show at the Oregon Symphony concert on Saturday evening (November 4). Guha’s story about an immigrant who turns up in a small American town but is unable to speak or communicate much of anything with the police was absolutely spellbinding. Probing the issues of what is “home,” “Azaan” fit in seamlessly with the piano concertos of Schoenberg and Gershwin, which were outstandingly performed by Kirill Gerstein.

Accompanied by original music by Chris Rogerson, “Azaan” was a unique world premiere that expanded the boundaries of what to expect at classical music concerts. Bernard White gave a near-visceral portrayal of The Stranger who had survived a horrific attack of mustard gas on his village in an unnamed homeland. His inability to talk frustrated the local policeman (C. J. Wilson) and the interpreter (Babak Tafti), but the policeman’s wife (Anna Belknap), who had lost a son, found a way to hear the thoughts of The Stranger. Rogerson gave the thoughts an memories an evocative outlet through the orchestra with musical lines that darted and drifted into the horizon. Guha’s words combined humor and tragedy to great effect, and the stage directions of Elena Araoz were spot on.

Gerstein delivered an exceptional performance of Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto. He didn’t take any chances, though, relying on an iPad or tablet that was placed inside the piano for the score. His playing brought out the lyrical aspects of the 12-tone piece as much as possible even though much of it seemed fragmentary and even fidgety.

The oddity the Schoenberg was followed by “Rhapsody in Blue,” which put the audience at ease. The cool thing about Gerstein is that even though he grew up in the former Soviet Union, he has always studied classical and jazz. Taking the piece at an electrifyingly fast pace, Gerstein added little jazz-inflected embellishments here and there. He even improvised a bit during one of the cadenzas, putting his own stamp on the piece and having a lot of fun with it.

The life-stories of Schoenberg and Gershwin fit the concert program’s theme of “what is home” perfectly. Schoenberg immigrated to America because of the Nazi repression and made a home in Los Angeles. Gershwin, the son of Jewish immigrants, developed a love for jazz that influenced his works, many of which are the most popular “classical” pieces ever created in America.

Stretching things just a bit further, the orchestra, under its music director Carlos Kalmar (himself an immigrant by way of Uruguay and Austria) gave a wonderful performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Overture on Hebrew Themes.” Prokofiev wrote the piece for the Zimro Ensemble in 1919 and premiered it with them in New York City a year later, then followed it up with an orchestral version in 1934. The Oregon Symphony’s principal clarinetist James Shields shaded his playing in wonderfully nuanced ways with woody and edgy sounds that put the audience in a club in New York City with a lively bunch of Jewish musicians.

Today's Birthdays

Friedrich Witt (1770-1836)
Sir Arnold Bax (1883-19530
Lamberto Gardelli (1915-1938)
Jerome Hines (1921-2003)
Richard Stoker (1938)
Simon Standage (1941)
Judith Zaimont (1945)
Tadaaki Otaka (1947)
Elizabeth Gale (1948)
Bonnie Raitt (1949)
Ana Vidović (1980)


Dorothy Day (1897-1980)
Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949)
Raja Rao (1908-2006)
Kazuo Ishiguro (1954)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Ferenc (Franz) Erkel (1810-1893)
Efrem Kurtz (1900-1995)
William Alwyn (1905-1985)
Al Hirt (1922-1999)
Dame Joan Sutherland (1926-2010)
Dame Gwyneth Jones (1937)
Joni Mitchell (1943)
Judith Forst (1943)
Christina Viola Oorebeek (1944)


Marie Curie (1867-1934)
Albert Camus (1913-1960)
Benny Andersen (1929)
Stephen Greenblatt (1943)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Adolphe Sax (1814-1894)
John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)
Don Lusher (1923-2006)
James Bowman (1941)
Arturo Sandoval (1949)
Daniele Gatti (1961)


Robert Musil (1880-1942)
Harold Ross (1892-1951)
Ann Porter (1911-2011)
James Jones (1921-1977)
Michael Cunningham (1952)

From The Writer's Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the March King, John Philip Sousa, born in Washington, D.C. (1854). His father was a U.S. Marine Band trombonist, and he signed John up as an apprentice to the band after the boy tried to run away from home to join the circus. By the time he was 13 years old, Sousa could play violin, piano, flute, cornet, baritone, trombone, and was a pretty good singer too. At 26, he was leading the Marine Band and writing the first of his 136 marches, including “Semper Fidelis,” which became the official march of the Corps, and “The Washington Post March.” In addition to those marches, he wrote nearly a dozen light operas, and as many waltzes too; and he wrote three novels. But he’s best known for “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Today's Birthday

Hans Sachs (1494-1576)
Paul Wittgenstein (1887-1961)
Walter Gieselking (1895-1956)
Claus Adam (1917-1983)
György Cziffra (1921-1994)
Nicholas Maw (1935-2009)
Anthony Rolfe Johnson (1940-2010)
Art Garfunkel (1941)
Gram Parsons (1946-1973)


Ida M. Tarbell (1867-1944)
Raymond Duchamp-Villon (1876-1918)
Thomas Flanagan (1923-2002)
Sam Shephard (1943)
Vandana Shiva (1952)
Diana Abu-Jabar (1960)

and from the Composers Datebook

On this day in 1903, the first concert by a 50-member Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra (the current Minnesota Orchestra), was conducted by Emil Oberhoffer, with Metropolitan Opera soprano Marcella Sembrich as guest soloist.

On this day in 1955, Karl Böhm conducts a performance of Beethoven's "Fidelio" at the gala re-opening of Vienna Opera House (damaged by Allied bombs on March 12, 1945). During the rebuilding of the Opera House, performances had continued in two nearby Viennese halls: the Theatre and der Wien and the Volksoper.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Muehleisen oratorio expertly sung yet an unsatisfying pastiche of musical sytles

Last Sunday (October 29), the Portland Symphonic Choir declared a passionate plea for empathy and peace with its performance of John Muehleisen’s “Pietá,” a hybrid oratorio. The 120-voice choir created some massive fortes that may have been heard outside the walls of First United Methodist Church and there were many touching moments in the 90-minute work in the series of exchanges between the choir, small vocal ensembles, and the fine soloists, soprano Arwen Meyers and tenor Branden Tuohy.

But I am still puzzled by the composer’s reworking of various musical styles. Instead of developing his own musical style, Muehleisen employed a pastiche of earlier music. For a small ensemble of men, he wrote a series of chants that were a blend of Byzantine and Russian Orthodox styles. The chorale sections were drawn right from Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” and some of the instrumental music from the “St. John Passion.” One of Tuohy’s solos, “Just before the battle, Mother” was a popular song from the American Civil War. The final piece was the hymn “O God of Love, O King of Peace,” in which the listeners joined in. Where was Muehleisen’s own style in all this? It seemed that the work was basically a very skilled arrangement.

Perhaps I got off to a negative start, because Muehleisen introduced his work with a 15-minute lecture that repeated most of the content of the program notes which he had written. I think it was terrific to have the composer speak about his work, but five minutes would have been plenty. In any case, the piece consisted of six scenes (or movements) that were shaped very symmetrically with a prologue and epilogue on the outside, two movements dealing with a son (John Kipling) who dies in a war (WWI) and the sorrow of his mother followed by two movements that retell the passion of Jesus, including the resurrection.

A core group of men sang a number of chants sections convincingly with one of the men singing and conducting the group. Guest conductor Erick Lichte guided the rest of the forces, which included some fine playing by Kelly Gronlin and Alan Juza (oboe and English horn), Jeff Peyton (timpani and percussion), Grian Gardiner (percussion), and Doug Schneider (chimes and organ). Twice during the piece, an ensemble of women from the choir moved to the right side of the stage area and fashioned an pure sound with zero vibrato that was absolutely angelic.

Arwen Myers sang her solos with passion and commitment, her vibrant soprano rising above the choir in a wail of anguish during “The Passion of the Mother.” Tuohy was equally effective, using his lyrical yet powerful tenor with terrific expertise. It would be great to hear them again in another PSC program sometime in the near future.

The climatic message of the piece, “Believe in a love that conquers all – even death,” was augmented by spoken text from Martin Luther King Jr. and cemented by a series of joyous alleluias from the choir. Yet it seemed odd that the Muehleisen chose not to write a new hymn for congregational to sing at the end. To me, that could have taken his “Pietá” up a notch.

Preveiw of this weekend's Vancouver Symphony concert with Alexander Toradze

The Columbian newspaper published my preview of the Vancouver Symphony concert with pianist Alexander Toradze. He will play Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3, which is one of his specialties. Salvador Brotons will conduct

Today's Birthdays

Carl Tausig (1841-1871)
Arnold Cooke (1906-2005)
Elgar Howarth (1935)
Joan Rodgers (1956)
Elena Kats-Chernin (1957)
Daron Hagen (1961)


Will Rogers (1879-1935)
C. K. Williams (1936-2015)
Charles Frazier (1950)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654)
Vincenzio Bellini (1801-1835)
Vladimir Ussachevsky (1911-1990)


Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571)
William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878)
Ignatius Donnelly (1831-1901)
Vilhjalmur Stefansson (1879-1962)
Walker Evans (1903-1975)
Terrence McNally (1939)
Martin Cruz Smith (1942)
Joe Queenan (1950)

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer (1692-1766)
Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739-1799)
Count Andrey Razumovsky (1752-1836)
John Foulds (1880-1939)
Luchino Visconti (1906-1976)
Douglas Lilburn (1915-2001)
Harold Farberman (1929)
Guiseppe Sinopoli (1946-2001)
Jeremy Menuhin (1951)
Marie McLaughlin (1954)
Paul Moravec (1957)


George Boole (1815-1864)
C.K. Williams (1936-2015)
Thomas Mallon (1951)


From the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1979, Peter Shaffer's drama "Amadeus" premieres at the National Theatre in London, directed by Peter Hall, starring Simon Callow as Mozart and Paul Scofield as Salieri. The British composer Harrison Birtwistle acted as Music Director for this production.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Eclectic Turnage piece - scintilating Barber and Mozart highlight Oregon Symphony concert

Mark-Anthony Turnage’s newest work had a lot of snap, crackle, and pop, but to what end? I couldn’t figure it out after listening to the world premiere of his “Symphonic Movements”, which was played with vigor and precision as far as I could tell, by the Oregon Symphony at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on October 28. The 57-year old English composer already has written over 50 works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, choral ensembles, and solo vocalists, and is well known for his witty and sometimes jazz-inflected pieces. The piece that he wrote on commission for the Oregon Symphony, titled “Symphonic Movements,” was dedicated to the memory of English composer and pianist Richard Rodney Bennett, who died in 2012. But Turnage’s music had the barest of elegiac sentiment and was fairly celebratory in spirit.

Divided into five movements designated by beats per minute (quarter note = 69, 76, 96, 72, and 120), “Symphonic Movements” used the orchestra primarily as a percussion instrument. The music was sophisticated, often rhythmically propulsive, and frequently accented by slaps, whaps, and blats even during its few restive moments. In the fourth movement, one of the percussionists played an odd device called the lion’s roar harp. It created a sound that was ostensibly like a roar of a big cat, but if I hadn’t read the program notes for the instrumentation, it sounded for the world to me as if someone had a terrible case of flatulence.

Much more elegiac, at least in the traditional sense, was the “Andante” from Schubert’s Symphony No. 10 in the arrangement by Peter Gülke, the music director of the Brandenburg Symphony. The music was slightly sad, gentle, and noble at the same time. One can only wonder what Schubert would have done with that fragmentary work had he lived longer.

Pianist Garrick Ohlsson has been a frequent guest with the Oregon Symphony over the past 40 years. When his large frame settles in behind the keyboard, I am almost tempted to feel sorry for the piano, yet this bear of a man has one of the gentlest touches that any pianist could wish for. His playing of Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto was finely chiseled with impeccable technique from beginning to end. He articulated the opening phrases with verve, but they were never overstated. He captured the lyrical second movement, “Canzone,” deftly, giving it a sense of longing and elegance. The final movement veered wonderfully in the opposite direction with a wildly pulsating, spikey, and scattershot array of pyrotechnics.

The audience called Ohlsson to the stage several times and he obliged them with an encore, Alexander Scriabin’s “Poem” Opus 32, No. 1. The sound was lush and lovely, as if sculpting a poem of flowers.

The orchestra under the baton of music director Carlos Kalmar gave Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”) a crisp and energetic performance that was filled with dynamic contrast and nuance. Switching his baton to his left hand and guiding the musicians with his right, the orchestra created a delicious sense of weightlessness in the third movement. The fugue statement in the fourth with its five interwoven motifs wrapped up the piece gloriously.

P.S. The actual world premiere of the Turnage piece took place the night before in Salem. However, Turnage asked for a slight change afterwords; so the audience in Portland heard a revision of the world premiere.

MTT announces his final season with the SFO

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the 1919-2020 season will be the final one for Michael Tilson Thomas at the helm of the San Francisco Symphony.

From the SFO press release:

SAN FRANCISCO, October 31, 2017 — Michael Tilson Thomas today announced plans to conclude his distinguished tenure as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) in June 2020. The 2019–2020 Season will mark both his 75th birthday and his 25th year leading the Symphony in what is widely considered one of the most productive musical partnerships in the orchestral world. Tilson Thomas’ legacy with the SF Symphony began in 1974 with his debut at age 29, conducting Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, and was solidified by his commencement as the Orchestra’s 11th Music Director in September 1995. Following the 2019–2020 Season, Michael Tilson Thomas will assume the title of Music Director Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony, and will continue to conduct the Orchestra for a minimum of four weeks each season in addition to other special projects. In anticipation of the celebratory 25th anniversary season of the MTT/SFS partnership, the next two years will feature signature recording projects, festivals, commissioning of new ­­works, staged productions, a two-week tour of the United States in 2018–2019, and a three-week European tour in 2019–2020.

Today's Birthdays

Roger Quilter (1877-1953)
Eugen Jochum (1902-1987)
Bruno Bjelinski (1909-1992)
Victoria de Los Angeles (1923-2005)
William Mathias (1934-1992)
Lyle Lovett (1957)


Stephen Crane (1871-1900)
Grantland Rice (1880-1954)
A. R. Gurney (1930-2017)
Edward Said (1935-2003)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1830, Chopin’s friends in Warsaw throw a festival “bon voyage” dinner for the composer-pianist on the eve of his departure for Paris. As it turned out, he would never return to his native land.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Louise Talma (1906-1996)
August Everding (1928-1999)
Colin Tilney (1933)
Odaline de la Martinez (1949)
Naji Hakim (1955)


Jan Vermeer (1632-1675)
John Keats (1795-1821)
Susan Orlean (1955)

from The New Music Box:

On October 31, 1896, the Boston Symphony premiered the Gaelic" Symphony in E Minor by Mrs. H.H.A. Beach (Amy Marcy Cheney Beach), the first symphony by an American woman ever publicly performed.

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this date in 1933, Arnold Schoenberg, accompanied by his wife, baby daughter, and family pet terrier "Witz," arrives in New York on the liner Isle de France.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Peter Warlock (Philip Arnold Heseltine) (1894-1930)
Stanley Sadie (1930-2005)
Frans Brüggen (1934-2014)
Grace Slick (1939)
René Jacobs (1946)
James Judd (1949)
Shlomo Mintz (1957)


Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816)
André Chénier (1762-1794)
Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
Robert Caro (1935)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Six more composers named in Portland Piano International commissioning project

From the press release:

 Portland Piano International / SOLO is pleased to be a part of building piano repertoire for the 21st century by commissioning 12 new works for solo piano. In 2016, we announced the first six composers for this project, and we are pleased to announce the names of the six talented Oregon composers who are completing the Commissioning Project. Each new work is five to ten minutes long and must be inspired by an earlier composer’s work. Young Rising Star pianists from across the globe work closely with the composers and then premiere these new pieces in free, interactive concerts in Portland and around Oregon.

The composers who have been commissioned for the final six compositions are:
Jay Derderian, Portland, OR
Brent Weaver, Newberg, OR
David Schiff, Portland, OR
Darrell Grant, Portland, OR
Renee Favand See, Portland, OR
Kenji Bunch, Portland, OR

This past summer Rising Star Elisabeth Tsai premiered Jay Derderian’s work titled In the Tides I Break, a work inspired by Henry Cowell’s Tides of Manaunan (composed in 1917). In September, Rising Star Sam Hong premiered a composition by George Fox University professor Brent Weaver. Weaver’s work, Two Intermezzos, is inspired by the Intermezzos of Brahms, with a musical connection with American musical styles such as jazz, folk music and more recent popular styles.

“To make sure that these new pieces are documented and have a life beyond the performances, we record them at Westwind Farm Studio,” explains executive director Ellen Bergstone Wasil. “The video and audio recordings of the entire group of 12 new works will be released later in 2018. We’ll also link to where the sheet music can be purchased. The diversity of the commissions and the skill of the performers creates a rich musical landscape that highlights the breadth and depth of Oregon’s composers.”

The Commissioning Project is funded through a Creative Heights Grant from The Oregon Community Foundation. In August 2014 Portland Piano International was selected as one of only 13 organizations statewide for the first round of these new grants, which were established through the Fred W. Fields Fund.

PS: The first six composers named in the commissioning project are
David Crumb
Jack Gabel
Sarah Zipperer Gaskins
Bryan Johanson
Michael Johanson
Greg Steinke

Today's Birthdays

Harold Darke (1888-1976)
Vivian Ellis (1904-1996)
Václav Neumann (1920-1995)
Jon Vickers (1926-2015)
James Dillon (1950)
Lee Actor (1952)
James Primosch (1956)


James Boswell (1740-1795)
Harriet Powers (1837-1910)
Henry Green (1905-1973)
David Remnick (1958)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Giuditta Pasta (1797-1865)
Howard Hanson (1896-1981)
Dame Cleo Laine (1927)
Carl Davis (1936)
Howard Blake (1938)
Kenneth Montgomery (1943)
Naida Cole (1974)


Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)
John Harold Hewitt (1907-1987)
Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
John Hollander (1929-2013)
Anne Perry (1938)

Friday, October 27, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840)
Helmut Walcha (1907-1991)
Conlon Nancarrow (1912-1997)
Dominick Argento (1927)
Julius Eastman (1940-1990)
Håkan Hardenberger (1961)
Vanessa-Mae (1978)


Lee Krasner (1908-1994)
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
Zadie Smith (1975)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757)
Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758)
Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972)
György Pauk (1936)
Christine Brewer (1955)
Natalie Merchant (1963)
Sakari Oramo (1965)


Andrei Bely (1880-1934)
Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)
John Arden (1930-2012)
Andrew Motion (1952)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Arnaldo Cohen no longer artistic director at Portland Piano International

Earlier this year, Portland Piano International and its artistic director, Arnaldo Cohen parted ways. Founder and longtime artistic director Harold Gray will step into the AD role and curate the 2018/2019 SOLO Piano Series. According to executive director Ellen Bergstone Wasil, PPI's board of directors will engage a guest curator for the 2019/2020 season. The guest curator will be announced in teh fall of 2018.

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Weelkes (1576-1623)
Johann Strauss II (1825-1899)
Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
Don Banks (1923-1980)
Galina Vishnevskaya (1926-2012)
Peter Lieberson (1946)
Diana Burrell (1948)
Colin Carr (1957)
Midori (1971)


Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
John Berryman (1914-1972)
Anne Tyler (1941)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

List of Van Cliburn winners who have appeared with Portland Piano International

Two weeks ago I heard Van Cliburn winner Yekwon Sunwoo's performance at Portland Piano International. His concert was outstanding, and I wrote a glowing review for International Piano magazine. I then asked Portland Piano International's executive director, Ellen Bergstone Wasil, for a list of Van Cliburn winners who have been presented by PPI. Here is her answer:

Beginning in 1985 with pianist José Feghali, Portland Piano International has presented the Gold Medalist of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in the season following his/her win.

Vadym Kholodenko (2013)

Haochen Zhang (2009)

Alexander Kobrin (2005)

Stanislav Ioudenitch (2001)

Olga Kern (2001)

Jon Nakamatsu (1997)

Simone Pedroni (1993)

Alexei Sultanov (1989)

José Feghali (1985)

Five other Cliburn Gold Medalists performed for Portland Piano International but not during the season after they won.

Andre-Michel Schub (1981)

Steven De Groote (1977)

Vladimir Viardo (1973)

Radu Lupu (1966)

Ralph Votapek (1962)

Only two of the Gold Medalists have not graced our stage: Nobuyuku Tsujii (2009 co-winner with Haochen Zhang) and Christina Ortiz (1969).

Today's Birthdays

Ferdinand Hiller (1811-1885)
Imre [Emmerich] Kálman (1882-1953)
Conrad Leonard (1898-2003)
Paul Csonka (1905-1995)
Tito Gobbi (1913-1984)
Luciano Berio (1925-2003)
George Crumb (1929)
Sofia Gubaidulina (1931)
Malcolm Bilson (1935)
Bill Wyman (1936)
George Tsontakis (1951)
Cheryl Studer (1955)


Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879)
Moss Hart (1904-1961)
Denise Levertov (1923-1997)
Norman Rush (1933)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Albert Lortzing (1801-1851)
Miriam Gideon (1906-1996)
Denise Duval (1921-2016)
Ned Rorem (1923)
Lawrence Foster (1941)
Toshio Hosokawa (1955)
"Weird Al" Yankovic (1959)
Brett Dean (1961)


Robert Bridges (1844-1930)
Johnny Carson (1925-2005)
Nick Tosches (1949)
Laurie Halse Anderson (1961)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Sir Donald McIntyre (1934)
Elizabeth Connell (1946)


John Reed (1887-1920)
John Gould (1908-2003)
Doris Lessing (1919-2013)

From the Writer's Almanac:
It was on this day in 1883 that the Metropolitan Opera House opened with a performance of Faust. The opera was based on Goethe's German poem, and it was composed in French, but it was sung in Italian. The New Yorkers who designed the opera house wanted it to have an Italian feel, so they had it built with a palazzo on Broadway, and Italian was the language of choice.

There was already an opera house in New York, the Academy of Music, near Union Square. It was one of the main gathering places of the city's high society, who watched each other from the opera boxes as eagerly as they watched the opera itself. But there were only 18 opera boxes at the Academy of Music, and in the 1870s a whole generation of industrial millionaires were emerging in New York. These nouveau riche were not so welcome at the Academy of Music, or in any of the social circles of old money. But they wanted a place to display themselves, so they decided to build their own opera house. Seventy people got together and pooled $1.7 million to buy land and build a concert hall. They put in three levels with 36 box seats in each, more than enough for everyone.

In The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton wrote:
"On a January evening of the early seventies, Christine Nilsson was singing in Faust at the Academy of Music in New York.

"Though there was already talk of the erection, in remote metropolitan distances 'above the Forties,' of a new Opera House which should compete in costliness and splendor with those of the great European capitals, the world of fashion was still content to reassemble every winter in the shabby red and gold boxes of the sociable old Academy. Conservatives cherished it for being small and inconvenient, and thus keeping out the 'new people' whom New York was beginning to dread and yet be drawn to; and the sentimental clung to it for its historic associations, and the musical for its excellent acoustic, always so problematic a quality in halls built for the hearing of music."

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Joseph Canteloube (1879-1957)
Egon Wellesz (1885-1974)
Howard Ferguson (1908-1999)
Alexander Schneider (1908-1993)
Sir Georg Solti (1912-1997)
Dizzy (John Birks) Gillespie (1917-1993)
Sir Malcom Arnold (1921-2006)
Marga Richter (1926)
Shulamit Ran (1949)
Hugh Wolff (1953)


Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
Alfred Nobel (1833-1896)
Ursula K. Le Guin (1929)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Baldur Brönniman and the Oregon Symphony deliver a nuanced Shostakovich 5th Symphony

Baldur Brönniman
Guest conductor Baldur Brönniman led the Oregon Symphony for the first time in a riveting concert on Monday, October 16th at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. A varied program featuring works by Portuguese composer Ângela da Ponte, Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich, it was a fun and yet deep evening of music.

Da Ponte, who grew up in the Azores, wrote The Rising Sea based upon a poem called Ídilio by Antero de Quental.  An OSO premiere, the piece was a mysterious, largely atonal sound painting, with susurating entrances and exits, strange quacking mutes in the brass; densely textured and programmatic it was a worthy piece to hear.

Cellist Johannes Moser, last with the OSO for the Schumann concerto in 2014, returned as soloist for Saint-Saëns' Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor.  Moser was charismatic and even dashing; holding the audience and orchestra alike in the grip of his intensity, he seemed simultaneously to be having way too much fun. Displaying a deft, even delicate touch even in the bold exposition, he interpreted the melodies lovingly--heroic when called for, yet not bombastic. In the Allegretto he made the moment feel like a strophic song somehow, leading a marvelous balancing act with the orchestra. Much of this work was high up on the instrument, yet his technique in the lower registers was affective and moving. An effortless technician, he succeeded in bringing out the very heart of this piece.

Swiss conductor Baldur Brönniman had a difficult challenge with the Shostakovich Symphony No. 5 in D Minor. There is a tendency to make this piece weighty and ponderous, yet all the material is there for an interpretation that is almost the exact opposite, and Brönniman elicited this from the OSO.

In the first movement, the dialogue between high and low strings was profound and direct--no equivocating here. The clarinet solo was not haunting, yet somehow austere and lonely. The ominous intrusion of the piano and brass set off a fine frenzy with the rest of the group, and later as the hubbub receded, the flute and horn duet was a moment of singular beauty.  In the second movement the bassoon solo was saucy, like a grand, grave, darkly humorous waltz, and in the third movement the trio with two flutes and harp was spare and sonorous, followed by a broad elegy from the strings.  Like a fierce Slavic folk dance, the grand arrival at the finale was the fulfillment of the long promise beforehand.

Brönniman was brilliant all evening, but especially so in the Shostakovich. There are so many gems large and small in this monumental work, and the conductor expertly picked them all out, deftly shepherding the players through this task. A deeply pensive work like this could trend toward the dull, yet it never went there; Brönniman and the OSO were constantly engaging and energetic, and the Saint-Saëns and Shostakovich were nothing short of a triumph. One hopes to see Baldur Brönniman at the helm of the OSO again soon.

Today's Birthdays

Charles Ives (1874-1954)
Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941)
Adelaide Hall (1901-1993)
Alfredo Campoli (1906-1991)
Adelaide Hall (1909-1993)
Robert Craft (1923-2015)
Jacques Loussier (1934)
William Albright (1944-1998)
Ivo Pogorelich (1958)
Leila Josefowicz (1977)


Christopher Wren (1632-1723)
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891)
John Dewey(1859-1952)
Robert Pinsky (1940)
Elfriede Jelinek (1946)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Sidonie Goossens (1899-2004)
Vittorio Giannini (1903-1966)
Karl-Birger Blomdahl (1916-1968)
Emil Gilels (1916-1985)
Robin Holloway (1943)
Robert Morris (1943)


Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)
Auguste Lumière (1862-1954)
Miguel Ángel Asturias (1899-1974)
Jack Anderson (1922-2005)
John le Carré (David John Moore Cornwell) (1931)
Philip Pullman (1946)
Tracy Chevalier (1962)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Luca Marenzio (1553-1599)
Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785)
Lotte Lenya (1898-1981)
Alexander Young (1920-2000)
Egil Hovland (1924-2013)
Chuck Berry (1926-2017)
Wynton Marsalis (1961)


Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811)
Henri Bergson (1859-1941)
A. J. Liebling (1904-1963)
Ntozake Shange (1948)
Rick Moody (1961)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998)
Rolando Panerai (1924)
Reiner Goldberg (1939)
Stephen Kovacevich (1940)


Georg Büchner (1813-1837)
Nathanael West (1903-1940)
Arthur Miller (1915-2005)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1978, President Jimmy Carter presents the Congressional Medal of Honor to singer Marian Anderson.

and from The Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1933 that Albert Einstein officially moved to the United States to teach at Princeton University. He had been in California working as a visiting professor when Hitler took over as chancellor of Germany. Einstein’s apartment in Berlin and his summer cottage in the country were raided, his papers confiscated, and his bank accounts closed. He returned to Europe and handed in his German passport, renouncing his citizenship. He considered offers from all over the world, including Paris, Turkey, and Oxford. Einstein eventually decided on Princeton, which offered him an attractive package teaching at its Institute for Advanced Study — but he had his hesitations about the university. For one thing, it had a clandestine quota system in place that only allowed a small percentage of the incoming class to be Jewish. The Institute’s director, Abraham Flexner, was worried that Einstein would be too directly involved in Jewish refugee causes, so he micromanaged Einstein’s public appearances, keeping him out of the public eye when possible. He even declined an invitation for Einstein to see President Roosevelt at the White House without telling the scientist. When Einstein found out, he personally called Eleanor Roosevelt and arranged for a visit anyway, and then complained about the incident in a letter to a rabbi friend of his, giving the return address as “Concentration Camp, Princeton.” In 1938, incoming freshmen at Princeton ranked Einstein as the second-greatest living person; first place went to Adolf Hitler.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745)
Franz [Ferenc] Doppler (1821-1883)
James Lockhart (1930)
Derek Bourgeois (1941)
Marin Alsop (1956)
Erkki-Sven Tüür (1959)
Dmitri Hvorostovsky (1962)


Noah Webster (1758-1843)
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953)
Günter Grass (1927-2015)
Thomas Lynch (1948)

And from the Writer's Almanac:

In 1882, during a tour across the US, Oscar Wilde lectured to coal miners in Leadville, Colorado, where he saw a sign on a saloon that said, "Please do not shoot the pianist. He is doing his best," and called it "the only rational method of art criticism I have ever come across."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Article about violinist Tomas Cotik in The Oregonian

My article about violinist Tomas Cotik and his new album of music by Astor Piazzolla has been posted online in Oregonlive here. It will be in the print edition later this week. Cotik is a professor on the music faculty of Portland State University. One of the cool things that is doing is a concert and CD presentation in which the proceeds will help to fund a scholarship for string students at the university.

Today's Birthdays

Bernhard Crusell (1775-1838)
Dag Wirén (1905-1985)
Harold Blumenfeld (1923-2014)
Karl Richter (1926-1981)
Barry McGuire (1935)
Suzanne Murphy (1941)
Peter Phillips (1953)


Virgil (70 B.C.E.- 19 B.C.E.)
Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)
Friedrich Nietzsche, (1844-1900)
P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)
Varian Fry (1907-1967)
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)
Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007)
Italo Calvino (1923-1985)
Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Alexander Zimlinsky (1871-1942)
Gary Graffman (1928)
Rafael Puyana (1931-2013)
Enrico di Giuseppe (1932-2005)
La Monte (Thorton) Young (1935)
Sir Cliff Richard (1940)
Kaija Saariaho (1952)


Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923)
E. E. Cummings (1894-1962)
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975)
Katha Pollitt (1949)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Art Tatum (1910-1956)
Hugo Weisgall (1912-1997)
Gustav Winckler (1925-1979)
Paul Simon (1941)
Leona Mitchell (1949)
Kristine Ciesinski (1950)
Melvyn Tan (1956)
Mark Applebaum (1967)


Conrad Richter (1890-1968)
Arna Bontemps (1902-1973)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Sylvius Leopold Weiss (1686-1750)
Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780)
Arthur Nikisch (1855-1922)
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Healey Willan (1880-1968)
Carlos López Buchardo (1881-1948)
Gilda Dalla Rizza (1892-1975)
Erich Gruenberg (1924)
Pilar Lorengar (1938-1996)
Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007)
Daryl Runswick (1946)
Penelope Walker (1956)
Chris Botti (1962)


Robert Fitzgerald (1910-1985)
Alice Childress (1916-1994)
Robert Coles (1929)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Today's Birthdays

George Bridgetower (1780-1860)
Fernando De Lucia (1860-1925)
R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)
Albert Stoessel (1894-1943)
Eugene Weigel (1910-1998)
Art Blakey (1919-1990)
Ennio Morricone (1928)
David Rendall (1948)


Mason Locke Weems (1759-1825)
Eleanor Roosevelt (1883-1962)
Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)
Thich Nhat Hanh (1926)

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Vernon Duke (1903-1969)
Paul Creston (1906-1985)
Thelonious Monk (1917-1982)
Gloria Coates (1938)
Sir Willard White (1946)
John Prine (1946)
Steve Martland (1959)
Evgeny Kissin (1971)


Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721)
Harold Pinter (1930-2008)

And from The Writer's Almanac:

It’s the birthday of the composer Vernon Duke, born Vladimir Dukelsky, in Parafianovo, Belarus (1903). He was a talented classical musician, educated at an elite conservatory, but his family fled Russia after the revolution and he wound up playing piano in cafés in Constantinople (now Istanbul). From there, his family rode steerage class on a ship to America, went through Ellis Island, and ended up in New York in 1921. There the teenage Dukelsky met George Gershwin, who was only a few years older, and the two became good friends. Dukelsky played Gershwin what he described as “an extremely cerebral piano sonata,” and Gershwin, who was also trained in classical music, suggested this: “There’s no money in that kind of stuff, and no heart in it, either. Try to write some real popular tunes — and don’t be scared about going low-brow. They will open you up.” He also suggested that Dukelsky shorten his name, as he himself had done — Gershowitz to Gershwin. So Vladimir Dukelsky came up with the name Vernon Duke, but he didn’t use it for a while.

First, he went to Paris. There, he met and impressed the great ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev. Dukelsky wrote later about their first meeting — that Diaghilev had drawled: “‘Ah, a good-looking boy. That in itself is most unusual. Composers are seldom good-looking; neither Stravinsky nor Prokofiev ever won any beauty prizes. How old are you?’ I told him I was 20. ‘That’s encouraging, too. I don’t like young men over 25.’” And so Diaghilev commissioned him to write a ballet, and he wrote Zephire et Flore, with sets by Georges Braque, choreography by Léonide Massine, and costumes by Coco Chanel. It got a great reception, and Dukelsky was taken in by the not-quite-as-good-looking Stravinsky and Prokofiev. For a few years he divided his time between Paris, where he continued to write classical music, and London, where he wrote show tunes and used the name Vernon Duke. Then in 1929, he decided to go back to America, and he wrote some of the biggest hits of the 1930s — “April in Paris” (1932), “Autumn in New York” (1934), “I Can’t Get Started” (1936), and “Taking a Chance on Love” (1940). And he wrote the music for the Broadway show and film Cabin in the Sky (1940). By that time, he had become an American citizen and officially changed his name to Vernon Duke.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Harry Lawrence Freeman (1869-1954)
Carl Flesch (1873-1944)
Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
Roger Goeb (1914-1997)
Einojuhani Routavaara (1928-2016)
Alfons Kontarsky (1932-2010)
John Lennon (1940-1980)
Jackson Browne (1948)
Sally Burgess (1953)
Roberto Sierra (1953)


Ivo Andrić (1892-1975)
Bruce Catton (1899-1978)
Léopold (Sédar) Senghor (1906-2001)
Belva Plain (1915-2010)
Jill Ker Conway (1934)
James Howe McClure (1939-2006)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)
Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785)
Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Will Vodery (1885-1951)
Paul V. Yoder (1908-1990)
James Sample (1910-1995)
Kurt Redel (1918-2013)
Toru Takemitsu (1930-1996)
Johnny Ramone (1948-2004)
Robert Saxton (1953)
Carl Vine (1954)
Tabea Zimmermann (1968)
Bruno Mantovani (1974)

John Cowper Powys (1872-1963)
Walter Lord (1917-2002)
Philip Booth (1925-2007)
R.L. Stine (1943)
Elizabeth Tallent (1954)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Today's Birthdays

William Billings (1746-1800)
Joe Hill (1879-1915)
Alfred Wallenstein (1898-1983)
Shura Cherkassky (1911-1995)
Charles Dutoit (1936)
John Mellencamp (1951)
Yo-Yo Ma (1955)
Li Yundi (1982)


James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
Niels Bohr (1885-1962)
Helen Clark MacInnes (1907-1985)
Desmond Tutu, (1931)
Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones) (1934-2014)
Thomas Keneally (1935)
Dianne Ackerman (1948)
Sherman Alexie (1966)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Today's Birthdays

William Bradbury (1816-1868)
Jenny Lind (1820-1887)
Julia Culp (1880-1970)
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937)
Maria Jeritza (1887-1982)
Edwin Fischer (1886-1960)
Paul Badura-Skoda (1927)
Dennis Wicks (1928-2003)
Udo Zimmermann (1943)
Keith Lewis (1950)


Le Corbusier (1887-1965)
Caroline Gordon (1895-1981)

From the Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1600 that the opera Euridice was first performed, at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. It is the oldest surviving opera.

Euridice was performed for the wedding celebrations of Henry IV of France and Maria de' Medici. It was written by Jacopo Peri, a beloved composer and singer. He had already written Dafne a few years earlier, which is considered to be the first opera, but that music has been lost.

Euridice is a retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which the gifted musician Orpheus falls in love with the beautiful Eurydice, but just after their wedding she is bitten by a snake and dies. Orpheus is heartbroken, and he journeys to the underworld, to Hades, to try to bring her back. He charms the king of the underworld, also named Hades, and his wife, Persephone, and they agree to return Eurydice to Orpheus on one condition: that he get all the way back to the upper world without looking back to see if Eurydice is following. He almost makes it, but right as he is walking out into the sunlight he turns back, and Eurydice is still in the underworld, so he loses her forever. Peri not only wrote the opera, but he sang the role of Orpheus. The climax of the opera came during "Funeste piagge," or "Funeral shores," when Orpheus begs Hades and Persephone to release his beloved.

Peri wrote a long preface to Euridice, in which he explained the new musical form he was working in, which we now call opera. He said that he was trying to write the way he imagined the Greeks would have, combing music and speech into the ultimate form of drama. One of the people who came to Florence to see Euridice was Vincenzo Gonzaga, the Duke of Mantua. And he probably brought his servant, Claudio Monteverdi. A few years later, in 1607, Monteverdi premiered his first opera, L'Orfeo, which was also a retelling of the legend of Orpheus. Monteverdi elevated the opera form to new heights, and L'Orfeo is considered the first truly great opera, with all of the dramatic orchestration and lyrics that are so central to the drama.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Cyril Bradley Rootham (1875-1938)
Jürgen Jürgens (1925-1994)
John Downey (1927-2004)
Iwan Edwards (1937)
Ken Noda (1962)


Denis Diderot (1713-1784)
Helen Churchill Candee (1858-1949)
Flann O’Brien (1911-1966)
Václav Havel (1936-2011)
Edward P. Jones (1950)
Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958)
Maya Ying Lin (1959)

And from the Composers Datebook

On this day in 1930, The New York Philharmonic begins its famous series of weekly Sunday afternoon national broadcasts with a program from Carnegie Hall conducted by Erich Kleiber. The first-ever radio broadcast of the New York Philharmonic had occurred on August 12, 1922, when a summer-time concert from Lewisohn Stadium conducted by Willem van Hoogstraten was relayed locally over WJZ in New York.

My note: Willem van Hoogstraten was the conductor of the Portland Symphony (former name of the Oregon Symphony) from 1925 to 1938.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Dausgaard appointed as next music director of the Seattle Symphony

The Seattle Times has reported that Thomas Dausgaard will succeed Ludovic Morlot as the music director of the Seattle Symphony. Dausgaard will take over in the fall of 2019 for a contract that runs four years. Dausgaard, age 54, has been the Seattle Symphony's principal guest conductor since 2014.

Today's Birthdays

Fanny Tacchinardi‑Persiani (1812-1867)
Alain Daniélou (1907-1994)
Alain Lombard (1940)
Richard Wilson (1941)
John Aler (1949)
Fransico Araiza (1950)
Marc Minkowski (1962)
David Dzubay (1964)


Frederic Remington (1861-1909)
Damon Runyan (1880-1946)
Buster Keaton (1895-1966)
Brenden Gill (1914-1997)
Jackie Collins (1937-2015) Roy Blount Jr. (1941) Anne Rice (1941)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1921, the American Academy in Rome awards American composer Leo Sowerby its first two-year composition fellowship. American composer Howard Hanson was awarded the second two-year composition fellowship on November 9, 1921. The third fellowship was awarded to Randall Thompson on June 6, 1922. The fellowship awards continue to this day

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Antoine Dauvergne (1713-1797)
Stanisław Skrowaczewski (1923-2017)
Steve Reich (1936)


Emily Post (1873-1960)
Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938)
Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993)
Gore Vidal (1925-2012)

Monday, October 2, 2017

Akiko Meyers mesmerizes audience in season opener with the Vancouver Symphony

Anne Akiko Meyers delivered an exceptional performance of works by Maurice Ravel and Camille Saint-Saëns at the Vancouver Symphony’s season opener. Her outstanding playing set the near-capacity audience at SkyView Concert Hall abuzz on Saturday afternoon (September 30), and there was quite a long line of patrons at intermission to get her autograph in the lobby where she amiably signed CDs and programs and took time to pose with her fans. They know that her performances of Ravel’s “Tzigane” and Saint-Saëns’ “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso” would be something to remember for a long, long time.

One of the best things about VSO concerts are the big screens that provide a close-up view of the featured soloist. For both the Ravel and the Saint-Saëns, they gave concertgoers a fascinating look at Akiko Meyers fingers, which raced up and down her violin like a gazelle. She demonstrated an astonishing ability to pin-point just the right note no matter how fast the music went by.

But it wasn’t just the Olympian speed and technical challenges – double stops, rapid staccatos, glissandos, stratospheric high notes, and pizzicatos placed quickly between other notes – she did all of it with a superb artistic interpretation. She conveyed the emotional depths of “Tzigane” and the charming elegance and fire of the “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.” Her “Tzigane” plunged and soared, evoking the sorrows and joys of a gypsy. She commanded a marvelous palette of tones that ranged from edgy and almost gnawing to whispery light to full-bodied yet lyrical to clear as crystalline glass. Her flawless technique and artistry was just flat out mind boggling, and generated a genuine and heart-felt standing ovation from the audience.

While both the Ravel and Saint-Saëns had dance-like moments that Akiko Meyers brought out, the orchestra, under music director Salvador Brotons, extended the dance-theme in the second half of the concert with Rachmaninov’s “Symphonic Dances.” The full-ensemble showed lots of muscle and drive with the loud, dramatic sections. The softer passages worked well most of the time, allowing the lovely alto saxophone to shine in the first movement. The strings created a lush sound with concertmaster Eva Richey spinning a beautiful sound in the second, and the French horns added luster in the third. A little more tightening up with the dynamics and clearing up a couple of intonation problems in the woodwinds would have made the piece even more enjoyable.

Filling out the dance card on the concert program were two of Dvořák’s “Slavonic Dances.” The orchestra led off with the gentle and nostalgic No. 10 and then galloped ahead with the wild and carefree No. 1. Guided by Brotons, the musicians made the music swell and subside with grace in the No. 10, but the violins weren’t always together when they executed the light and fast jumps. The orchestra dove into the bold opening statement of No 1 with gusto and seemed to have fun doing it as well.

An added feature of the concert was a brief and violent rainstorm, which pounded the roof of the concert hall during part of first section of “Tzigane” while Meyers was mining the depths of the cadenza. But the pummeling sound didn’t deter her one bit, and she captivated the audience with her incisive playing. Also the harpist played her entry very well and the orchestra followed with sensitivity to accompany Meyers.

Today's Birthdays

Frantisek Tuma (1704-1774)
Henry Février (1875-1957)
Leroy Shield (1893-1962)
Francis Jackson (1917)
Mary Jeanne van Appledorn (1927-2014)
Kenneth Leighton (1929-1988)
Michel Plasson (1933)
Phill Niblock (1933)
Peter Frankl (1935)
Ton Koopman (1944)
Jonathan Summers (1946)


Mahatma Gandhi, (1869-1948)
Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
Groucho Marx (1890-1977)
Graham Greene (1904-1991)
Jan Morris (1926)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Today's Birthdays

J. Friedrich Eduard Sobolewski (1808-1872)
Henry Clay Work (1832-1884)
Paul Dukas (1865-1935)
Vladimir Horowitz (1904-1989)
Sylvano Bussotti (1931)


Jimmy Carter (1924)
Tim O'Brien (1946)

and from the Composers Datebook:

This day in 1924 marked the opening of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, funded by a gift of $12.5 million from the American patroness Mary Louise Curtis Bok, who had inherited her fortune from the Curtis Publishing Company. The faculty, providing instruction for 203 students, includes Leopold Stokowski and Josef Hofmann heading conducting and piano departments, respectively. Polish-born coloratura Marcella Sembrich. Hungarian violinist Carl Flesch. French-born harpist/composer Carlos Salzedo. and Italian composer Rosario Scalero.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Johann Svendsen (1840-1911)
Sir Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924)
Václav Smetáček (1906-1986)
David Oistrakh (1908-1974)
Dame Julie Andrews (1935)
Johnny Mathis (1935)
Alan Hacker (1938-2012)
Jonathan Lloyd (1948)
Andrew Rindfleisch (1963)


W.S. Merwin (1927)
Truman Capote (1924-1984)
Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)

Friday, September 29, 2017

Preview of Vancouver Symphony concert with Anne Akiko Meyers in Columbian newspaper

My preview of this weekend's Vancouver Symphony concert appeared in today's edition of The Columbian newspaper here. I hope that you enjoy reading it.

Brilliant playing by Hadelich and Oregon Symphony opens the season

The first concert of the Oregon’s Symphony’s classical music series opened with an immaculate performance of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Grammy-award winner Augustin Hadelich as soloist. Attendance at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall was pretty solid, even for the Monday night concert that I attended (September 25). Portlanders have taken a liking to Hadelich, who has appeared with the orchestra twice before and also with Chamber Music Northwest. The program included a finely tuned performance of Morton Gould’s “Stringmusic” and a fiery finish with Mily Balakirev’s “Islamey.”

Hadelich’s impeccable technique made the Beethoven look easy peasy. His intonation was amazingly spot-on throughout the piece and his playing of the Kreisler sounded wonderfully refined yet heroic. The last movement seemed to fly by too quickly so that the warmth was gone. However, he brilliantly tossed off another finger-bending, wicked cadenza with mind-boggling ease and that gave the finale some extra zip. The audience erupted with applause that brought Hadelich back to the stage several times. He obliged the audience with an elegant encore, Paganini’s “Caprice No. 21,” handling its devilish combination of double stops and fast up-bow staccatos with tremendous expression and sensitivity.

The concert concluded with two pieces that the orchestra had never played before. The first, “Stringmusic,” which won the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Gould, featured five movements that received a taut and highly nuanced ensemble sound under the direction of Carlos Kalmar. In the “Prelude” movement, the violas echoed a lovely and somber statement from the cellos. The violins followed with a delicate, high wire act and the double-basses created gentle throbbing tones. The “Tango” began with a zing and zip before ending with a humorous stutter and lurch. Principal bassist Colin Corner played an elegant solo during the solemn “Dirge.” Part of the “Ballad” had a lightly rocking and slightly elegiac feel, which contrasted well with the lively barnyard dance in “Strum.”

The full-sized version of the orchestra filled the stage to play Alfredo Casella’s arrangement of Balakirev’s “Islamey.” Urged on by Kalmar, the musicians conjured a swirling, exotic vision. Excellent solos by concertmaster Sarah Kwak, principal cellist Nancy Ives, principal bassoonist Carin Miller Packwood, and English hornist Kyle Mustain accented the piece wonderfully. The speed of playing in the finale went faster and faster as if rolling down a steep hill and the last chord was glorious.

Additional note: “Stringmusic” was recorded for a CD that will be issued by the orchestra sometime in the near future.

Today's Birthdays

Jacques-Martin Hottetere (1674-1763)
Joaquin Nin (y Castellanos) (1879-1949)
Gene Autry (1907-1998)
Richard Bonynge (1930)
Jerry Lee Lewis (1935)
Jean-Luc Ponty (1942)


Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616)
Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)
Enrico Fermi (1901-1954)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Johann Mattheson (1681-1764)
Florent Schmitt (1870-1958)
Vivian Fine (1913-2000)
Rudolf Barshai (1924-2010)
Edward Applebaum (1937)
Catherine Robbin (1950)
Michaela Comberti (1952-2003)


Confusius (551 BCE - 479 BCE)
Caravaggio (1571-1610)
Kate Douglas Wiggin (1856-1923)
Edith Pargeter (1913-1995)
Simon Winchester (1944)


from the Composers Datebook

On this day in 1951, the Sci-fi classic "The Day the Earth Stood Still" opens in theaters across America, featuring memorable score by Bernard Herrmann that included eerie, other-worldly sounds imitating the electronic instrument known as a "Theremin" (after its Russian-born inventor, Leon Theremin). In the movie, actress Patricia Neal's rendition of the space alien command "Gort: Klaatu barada nikto" prevents Earth's destruction by a death-ray robot from outer space.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Cyril Scott (1879-1970)
Vincent Youmans (1898-1946)
Jean Berger (1909-2002)
Igor Kipnis (1930-2002)
Dame Josephine Barstow (1940)
Misha Dichter (1945)
Chris Merritt (1952)
Dimitry Sitkovetsky (1954)


Sir William Empson (1906-1984)
Joyce Johnson (1935)
Kay Ryan (1945)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Alfred Cortot (1877-1962)
Charles Munch (1891-1968)
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Yvonne Levering (1905-2006)
Fritz Wunderlich (1930-1966)
Salvatore Accardo (1941)
Dale Duesing (1947)


T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)
Jane Smiley (1949)

and from The Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1957, 20 years after George Gershwin died, Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story opened at the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. It was not immediately successful. It only became famous when it was turned into a film in 1961 and won 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It’s based on the story of Romeo and Juliet, but it is set in the gang-ridden streets of New York.

During the weeks leading up to the opening of West Side Story, the news was full of stories of gang violence and racial confrontations. At the end of August, Strom Thurmond filibustered for more than 24 hours to try to prevent passage of the Voting Rights Act. The day before the show’s opening, federal troops forcibly integrated Little Rock High School.

In general, critics responded favorably to West Side Story, but all the major Tony Awards went instead to The Music Man, a bubbly, nostalgic musical about a small town in Iowa.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Marvelous ”Two Yosemites” makes a passionate plea for the environment

Campsite setting of "Two Yosemites"
“Two Yosemites” proved to be a surprisingly fine opera that resonated with a large audience at the outdoor amphitheater of the Lewis and Clark Law School on Friday, September 15th. Written by Justin Ralls and presented by Opera Theater Oregon, “Two Yosemites” marvelously conveyed the story of a transformative camping trip in 1903 involving John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt that led to the creation of one of America’s most iconic national parks. Outstanding performances by Nicholas Meyer as Muir and Aaron Short as Roosevelt, combined deftly with a taut chamber ensemble, conducted by Ralls, to create 60 minute, one-act opera that was emotionally satisfying and not preachy.

Ralls, a young composer who is pursuing a doctorate in music at the University of Oregon, really outdid himself with “Two Yosemities,” his first foray into the world of opera. The music was mostly harmonic accompanied by a deft ability for word painting. He evocatively used the piccolo to depict the song of a thrush and used a colorful pallet to paint an array of outdoor scenes on an intimate or grand scale. When Muir waxed eloquently about the beauty of nature, the music became rhapsodic but never syrupy. When Roosevelt described his love of hunting and his disdain for political wrangling, his line became punchy and aggressive. Yet, neither man was a one-dimensional cartoon. Ralls gave each man emotions and a complexity that, we, in the audience, could identify with.

Short did a masterful job of communicating the vibrancy of Roosevelt. Strutting about the campfire with a cocksure attitude of a man of action, he mesmerized the audience with an expressive tenor could be edgy when needed and then quickly transition to a legato of Mozartian elegance.

Nicholas Meyer superbly captured Muir’s dignity and vision for the great outdoors with a calm demeanor that was an excellent counterweight to Roosevelt. Meyer’s beautiful mellow baritone was at its best in the upper range, but it needed a bit more bite when Muir confronted Roosevelt.

The chorus of four women (Joannah Ball, jena Viemeister, Jocelyn Claire-Thomas, and Catherine Olson) sounded terrific except that their text (from an American-Indian language) needed supertitles. All of the singers and the orchestra were amplified because of the bucolic outdoor setting, and for the most part, that worked very well. To top off the evening, the voices of tree frogs seemed to add to the applause after the opera concluded.

“Two Yosemites” is an opera that deserves to be heard again and again. Perhaps the Astoria Music Festival might product it. Hats off to Ralls for writing such a marvelous opera on his first try. I hope that he writes another one in the near future.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Nikolaus Hanff (1663-1711)
Jean-Phillippe Rameau (1683-1764)
Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897)
Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970)
Dmitri Shostakovich (1906-1975)
Sir Colin Davis (1927-2013)
Glenn Gould (1932-1982)
Stella Sung (1959)


William Faulkner (1897-1962)
Mark Rothko (1903-1970)
Shel Silverstein (1930-1999)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893-1929)
Sir Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991)
Vaclav Nelhybel (1919-1996)
Cornell MacNeil (1922-2011)
Alfredo Kraus (1927-1999)
John Rutter (1945)
Marc Neikrug (1946)


Horace Walpole (1717-1797)
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
Eavan Boland (1944)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1947, German-born composer Hans Eisler is questioned about his former membership in the Communist Party by the House Committee on Un-American activities. Eisler had been a member of the Party in the 1920s, left Germany when Hitler came to power in 1933, and had been working in Hollywood on film scores and as the musical assistant to Charlie Chaplin. He left the U.S. in 1948 and settled in East Germany - where he composed that country's national anthem.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Jacques Féréol Mazas (1782-1849)
William Levi Dawson (1899-1990)
Jarmila Novotná (1907-1994)
Soulima Stravinsky (1910-1994)
Alexander Arutiunian (1920-2012)
Ray Charles (1930-2004)
John Coltrane (1926-1967)
Robert Helps (1928-2001)
Bruce Springsteen (1949)
William Shimell (1952)


Euripides (ca 480 BC - 406 BC) - today is the traditional day for Greeks to celebrate his birthday.
Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927)
Baroness Emmuska Orczy (1865-1947)
Walter Lippmann (1899-)
Jaroslav Seifert (1901-1986)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Ear Trumpet listing of concerts featuring new music

Courtesy of Bob Priest:

PDX New Music Calendar
Ensembles Edition
September 2017 - May 2018 Season


19 - 21: Third Angle
20: Creative Music Guild


4, 8 & 18: Creative Music Guild
9: Fear No Music
14: Cascadia Composers
19 & 20: Third Angle
21: Sound of Late
30: Fear No Music


1: Creative Music Guild
3 & 18: Cascadia Composers
10 & 11: Third Angle
27: Fear No Music




8: Fear No Music
11 & 12: Third Angle


8 & 9: Third Angle
17: Cascadia Composers


5: Fear No Music
10: Sound of Late
14: Friends of Rain
23 - 25: March Music Moderne


12 & 13: Third Angle
29: Fear No Music


7: Fear No Music
19: Sound of Late


All dates are current as of 19 September

Please visit individual WEBSITES to double-check dates & for more info:

Cascadia Composers

Creative Music Guild

Fear No Music

Friends of Rain

March Music Moderne

Friends of Rain

March Music Moderne

Sound of Late

Third Angle


Dobrinka Tabakova
String Paths
ECM New Series


International Society of Contemporary Music (ISCM)
World Music Days
2 - 8 November
Vancouver, BC, Canada
27 Concerts in 8 Venues
128 Composers from 48 Countries


Although this edition of ET is devoted to ensembles, groups & orgs that
focus exclusively on new music, there are others in PDX that sometimes
include new music on their programs:

Oregon Symphony
Portland Youth Philharmonic
Chamber Music Northwest
Friends of Chamber Music
Classical Revolution PDX
Arnica String Quartet
45th Parallel
Portland Piano International
PSU Music Dept
Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan
PDX Jazz Composers Ensemble
Resonance Ensemble
Mousai Remix
Agnieszka Laska Dancers
Portland Chamber Orchestra
Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Cappella Romana
Opera Theatre Oregon
Portland Opera
In Mulieribus
The Ensemble

Today's Birthdays

Arthur Pryor (1870-1942)
Mikolajus Ciurlionis (1875-1911)
Henryk Szeryng (1918-1988)
William O. Smith (1926)
Hugh Bean (1929-2003)
Leonardo Balada (1933)
Anna Tomowa-Sintow (1941)
John Tomlinson (1946)
Vladmir Ghernov (1953)
Michael Torke (1961)


Fay Weldon (1931)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Music critic in Cincinnati gets the pink slip

Musical America has reported that veteran music critic at the Cincinnati Enquirer has been laid off. Janelle Gelfand, who has worked at the paper for 26 years, lost her job on Tuesday. Musical America is a subscription-based magazine, but you can read about it in the Facebook pages for Cincinnati Symphony and Cincinnati Opera.

Today's Birthdays

François Francoeur (1698-1787)
Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791)
Gustav Holst (1874-1934)
Meinrad Schütter (1910-2006)
Leonard Cohen (1934-2016)
Jill Gomez (1942)
Andrei Gavrilov (1955)
Nina Rautio (1957)


Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498)
Sir Edmund Gosse (1849-1928)
H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells (1866-1946)
Sir Allen Lane (1902-1970)
Stephen King (1941)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Ildebrando Pizzetti (1880-1968)
Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton (1885-1941)
Uuno Klami (1900-1961)
David Sheinfeld (1906-2001)
John Dankworth (1927-2010)
Jane Manning (1938)
Laurie Spiegel (1945)
John Harle (1956)


Upton Sinclair (1878-1968)
Maxwell Perkins (1884-1947)
Stevie Smith (1902-1971)
Donald Hall (1928)

And from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1954, Stravinsky: "In Memoriam Dylan Thomas," premiered in Los Angeles, conducted by Robert Craft. Stravinsky had met the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas the previous year, and they had discussed collaborating on an opera project, but Thomas died on November 9, 1953.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

George Takei hosts the Oregon Symphony's season opening.

George Takei
Photo: AP/Victoria Will
The Oregon Symphony opened its 2017-18 season Saturday night, September 16, with guest host and narrator George Takei introducing an evening of old favorites and American classics.

Portland seemed thrilled to have Takei in the house, known not only for his role as helmsman Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek but also as a pop culture icon and fighter for human rights. The opening piece was Beethoven's Egmont Overture; appropriately grandiose and stentorian (a suitable opening motif for an entire season), the OSO executed ably as the work graduated into a heroic gallop to the finish.

The second work was an OSO premier of Twill by Twilight, by Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu.  Set in the form of a tone poem, Takei mentioned that on a personal note he considered the work an elegy for his cousin and aunt who died in the aftermath of the bombing of Hiroshima. The work contained many harsh dissonances that were somehow rendered mellow in effect by the subdued timbre. The symphony imparted to the work a strange dream-like quality, somehow hypnotic and vaguely unsettling simultaneously.

Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks was next, and the orchestra was clearly having fun with this one. Consistently marvelous sound production from the winds throughout the work and a short but brilliant solo from concertmaster Sarah Kwak highlighted this piece, which unfortunately suffered from an out-of-balance brass choir that completely subsumed everything else during the fortissimos.

The second half started with Liszt's Les Preludes, a well-played chestnut, with a properly Jovian crescendo during the famous theme. Morton Gould's American Salute was bombastic and brassy, a spritely set of interesting variations on the folk tune 'Johnny come marching home.' With this well-known tune as the whole basis of the work it could have been dull and uninteresting; however Kalmar and the OSO managed to infuse this oddly peripatetic work with great imagination.

The highlight of the evening was Copland's Lincoln Portrait, an iconic work well known to filmgoers as the opening theme from Saving Private Ryan. This iconic composition required a keen insight into the emotional as well as acoustical dynamics--alternately bold and statesmanlike, small and folksy--and the OSO got this one just right. Takei's rich baritone in the text reading, as well as his stature as an American who has been through some of the worst and best this nation has to offer, lent the work a splendid sense of decorum and purpose, the final ingredients required to make this piece perfect.

Oregon Bach Festival mess reaches the New York Times

The New York Times has reported on the recent OBF mess here. Also Bob Hicks of the Oregon Arts Watch has written his thoughts on the matter here. The Eugene Register-Guard has printed an astute opinion piece here. Music insider Norman Lebrecht has issued his thoughts on Slipped Disc here.

Thanks to Mark Mandel and Bob Priest for forwarding some of these links.

Today's Birthdays

Gustav Schirmer (1829-1893)
Allan Pettersson (1911-1980)
Kurt Sanderling (1912-2011)
Blanche Thebom (1918-2010)
Arthur Wills (1926)
Bonaventura Bottone (1950)


William Golding (1911-1993)
Amalia Hernández (1917-2000)
Roger Angell (1920)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Johann Gottfried Walther (1684-1748)
Lord Berners (1883-1950)
Arthur Benjamin (1893-1960)
Meredith Willson (1902-1984)
Josef Tal (1910-2008)
Norman Dinerstein (1937-1982)
Thomas Fulton (1949-1994)
John McGlinn (1953-2009)
Anna Netrebko (1970)


Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Jean-Bernard-Léon Foucault (1819-1868)
Paul Zimmer (1934)
Alberto Ríos (1952)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Saverio Mercadante (1795-1870)
Vincenzo Tommasini (1878-1950)
Charles Tomlinson Griffes (1884-1920)
Isang Yun (1917-1995)
Hank Williams (1923-1953)
Vincent La Selva (1929)


William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
Frank O'Connor (1903-1966)
Ken Kesey (1935-2001)

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Today's Birthdays

Paul Taffanel (1844-1908)
Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979)
Hans Swarowsky (1899-1975)
B. B. King (1925-2015)


John Gay (1685-1732)
Henry Louis Gates Jr. (1950)
Elizabeth McCracken (1966)

and from the Composers Datebook:

On this day in 1920, Italian tenor Enrico Caruso makes his last records (selections by Meyerbeer, Lully, Bartlett, and Rossini) for Victor Records in Camden, New Jersey. He would make his last operatic appearance at the old Metropolitan Opera House on Christmas Eve in 1920 (an evening performance of Halevy's "La Juive"), and die the following summer in Naples.

On this day in 1977, opera diva Maria Callas dies of a heart attack, age 53, in Paris.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Upshot of the Oregon Bach Festival debacle

The immediate upshot of the termination of Matthew Halls as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival is that the festival's executive director Janelle McCoy is left with a chaotic mess. Now she has to find someone who is will to curate next year's festival and she has to do the fund raising. Imagine trying to rally the OBF board, which has been thoroughly run over by the U of O. This is going to be one tough act of McCoy to deal with.

Today's Birthdays

Horatio William Parker (1863-1919)
Bruno Walter (1876-1962)
Frank Martin (1890-1974)
Henry Brant (1913-2008)
Richard Arnell (1917-2009)
Cannonball Adderley (1928-1975)
Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (1933)
Jessye Norman (1945)
Richard Suart (1951)


Robert Benchley (1899-1945)
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)
Agatha Christie (1890-1976)