Ehnes takes his Tchaikovsky seriously.
Here’s my review, from today’s Globe and Mail, of Canadian violinist James Ehnes with the TSO.
On Thursday evening, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and music director Peter Oundjian played Tchaikovsky, Tchaikovsky and more Tchaikovsky.
Such a concert carries with it the temptations of emotional excess – of wallowing in romantic extravagance and artistic indulgence. Yet that’s certainly not how events unfolded, for a variety of reasons.
The most obvious reason was James Ehnes, on hand at Roy Thomson Hall to play Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto.
Stardom beckons at the Metropolitan Opera.
Here’s something I recently wrote for Toronto’s Globe and Mail that appeared in print yesterday.
In a college auditorium in Buffalo, the scene is set for the district finals of the annual Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Three distinguished judges and nearly 50 young singers are ready to get started. A clutch of hard-core opera fans sits in the audience; a well-worn baby grand piano sits on the stage. Off to one side stands the American flag.
But the flag might as well be that red-and-white one with the maple leaf: Most of the contestants here are Canadians. From British Columbia to Nova Scotia, they came to Buffalo last Saturday for a shot at the big time. Although a third to a half of contestants always come from Canada, says Dianne Rubin, one of the volunteer organizers, “This year, we have a larger percentage of Canadians than usual.”
Whitacre and others are changing new music.
Here’s something I wrote for today’s Houston Chronicle.
A bum rap is a hard thing to beat. That’s the problem “contemporary classical” music faces today, thanks to the audience-unfriendly composers of the post-World War II decades.
But those composers – Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez, Milton Babbitt and many others – who did such a fine job of alienating audiences half a century ago, have pretty much faded from the scene. More and more, composers today are writing with a sympathetic understanding of what people really want to hear.
Inspiration for a new opera?
Here’s a YouTube video of the Occupy Wall Street protest at Lincoln Center protest just after a performance of Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha at the Met on December 1. After the performance, Glass, in a show of solidarity, addressed the crowd.
I’m glad I wasn’t there – not because I disapprove of the OWS movement, but because the “human microphone” thing they do doesn’t seem to work very well. It’s hard to make out much of what Glass is saying.
The Lafayette Quartet: together for 25 years.
Today, over in the “Writing about music” section of my website, I posted a lengthy article that I wrote for last month’s Strad magazine about the Lafayette String Quartet. (You’ll find it here.)
I had the pleasure of meeting with the Victoria, British Columbia-based quartet this summer at the Festival of the Sound, in Parry Sound, Ontario. The four women in the quartet – violinists Ann Elliott-Goldschmid and Sharon Stanis, violist Joanna Hood and cellist Pamela Highbaugh Aloni – have now been playing together for a quarter-century, with no changes in personnel. That’s pretty impressive!