Weekly Magazine

 

NEW THIS WEEK

HOWARD BURNHAM mutters Pshaw! as he offers his next webinar in celebration of George Bernard Shaw at 90 on Saturday, plus Q&A afterward. MORGENSTERN TRIO (pictured above) returns to Chamber Music Monterey Bay. SANTA CRUZ BAROQUE FESTIVAL continues Sunday with cellist/recorderist Ida Kühn Riegels in a big program online. VIOLIN MASTERCLASS by Addison Teng offered by Youth Music Monterey. JANA HERZEN & CHARNETT MOFFET encore online from Kuumbwa Jazz since Monday. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

COMING UP THIS MONTH

THE SANTA CRUZ CHAMBER PLAYERS have announced the first two concerts of a 2021 season. Online, they open on March 14 with Ensemble 1828 playing a French program of Debussy, Franck and Ravel. (In April “Gabriel Fauré and His Circle of Influence” will feature familiar SCCP musicians.) HOWARD BURNHAM will recount the accomplishments of Sir Henry Irving in First Night. VIRTUAL CHOREOGRAPHERS SHOWCASE from SpectorDance with new works by eight choreographers from four states. BALCONY SESSION from the Monterey Symphony: flute/cello concert online by Dawn and Mark Walker.

CABRILLO VIRTUAL FESTIVAL 2021

FROM JULY 31 THROUGH AUGUST 8. Click HERE

SYMPHONY AT HOME

SANTA CRUZ SYMPHONY hosts an outdoor concert by the Luminance Trio.

 

THE FIDDLER ON THE HILL

RECENT ARRIVAL to Corral de Tierra, violin virtuoso Cindy Wu plays short weekend concerts for everybody, for free. “Since the stay home order lifted, I want to fill the community with more music while challenging myself to turn out more repertoire in the pandemic,” she told us. “And I want to welcome anyone in the area that wants to enrich their weekend with some music so it’s free and I will vlog the project along the way.” Here is the information about them: Sunkiss’d Musical Short “Fiddler on the Hill.” Creator and violinist Cindy Wu will play a free performance of a solo violin work of 5-10 minutes every sunny weekend at 11am at her home at the top of Corte De Encanto (off Los Laureles Grade Road near Chamisal Tennis Club) while vlogging about this journey of being a performing artist in the pandemic. For more information about attending one of the shorts and follow the vlog HERE   

VIENNA PHIL SCOLDS METROPOLITAN OPERA

THE VPO has issued an open letter criticizing the Metropolitan Opera management for not cherishing its musicians. “The world is watching. 30% of the members of the MET Orchestra can no longer sustain a living in New York City due to being faced with no salary from the Metropolitan Opera since April 1, 2020. This number will likely climb higher as the crisis continues. The Met’s global reputation and the cultural landscape of New York City would be devastated by the loss of artists of this caliber—this orchestra hosts some of the best players in the world. These musicians have a cultural and economic impact beyond that of bringing great opera to the world; they are teachers and mentors too. They contribute to the communities they live in by inspiring people in all areas and stages of life.” Daniel Froschauer, Vorstand der Wiener Philharmoniker. (Pictured: Froschauer, right; MET Opera General Manager Peter Gelb, left.) Related: Met union is urging a boycott of donations. Click HERE 

WHITHER THE SAXOPHONES?

INSTRUMENTAL MAINSTAY has all but disappeared. Click HERE  

COMPOSING COMMISSIONS FOR FREE?

COMMISSION FEES in the US have gone to zero. Click HERE   

FOR SOME PERSPECTIVE we spoke with Monterey Symphony composer-in-residence John Wineglass. We wondered how much composers get paid for commissions. “It depends on what are the musical characteristics, including instrumentation, genre and duration,” he explained. “Also the demographic characteristics, such as career-stage, gender, race/ethnicity, religion, etc., of highly-paid, modestly-paid, and unpaid composers.” He adds, the range of fees may rise to include the cost of printing the score and parts. “Some composers don’t negotiate well; it’s kind of tragic. I learned in my early years in television music how to negotiate contracts.” He adds, “It’s better to say no, to protect your work. Otherwise I’d rather be home watching SpongeBob.” Because they don’t teach business skills in school, “…I enrolled at New York University (NYU) instead of Juilliard.” At the Cabrillo Festival, well-known for commissioning new works, Wineglass negotiated a rate comparable to other composers there, and credits John Corigliano, Michael Daugherty and (the late) Christopher Rouse for their example. “They are musically influential and bring business acumen to the table.” But even they are in a different league from the big names like John Adams and Philip Glass. The question that each composer must ask is “So what is going to be enough to satisfy the time and energy, including emotional energy?” Wineglass quotes a composer colleague, “I can’t compete with free.”  

THE CHART BELOW was taken from Commissioning Music: A Basic Guide by Matt Small.  

THEY DON’T MAKE ‘EM LIKE THIS ANYMORE

TOM & JERRY

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

MUCH OF THE BEST NEW MUSIC is being composed for choruses. These two new CDs feature The Crossing, a crack Grammy-winning ensemble of women’s and men’s voices that have given more than 110 commissioned premieres under the direction of Donald Nally. They range between 24 and 48 voices, more often than not in à cappella literature of extraordinary technical and expressive extremes. Those qualities are on full display in the new Navona CD dedicated to the music of Cleveland-born James Primosch, a prolific composer with an exceptional scope of creative styles and a ravenous appetite for disparate texts. For example, his Mass for the Day of St Thomas Didymus (yes, the ‘doubting Thomas’) fragments the choir into complex textures of individual voices, and the Spiralling Ecstatically to words by American poet e.e. cummings, which—forgive me—spirals ecstatically as it builds climaxes. Ecstatic in fact figures for all six Primosch works on this disc, which, but for the latter were composed since the turn of the 21st century. The other large-scale piece, the energetic Carthage, that gives the album its title, sets words describing the scorched earth of that city after the Roman siege, by Marilynne Robinson from her novel Housekeeping.

THERE’S A JOKE in the title of this New Focus CD and it’s reinforced in ironic terms by the first track, David Lang’s solemn protect yourself from infection, the text taken from a 1918 government document during the pandemic of that time, including the names of victims in Philadelphia. The next track, Joby Talbot’s Lost Forever describes commuters running to catch a train. But though the program here is nearly all of new compositions, the choristers do depart in favor of a couple of movements from Dieterich Buxtehude’s motet Membra Jesu nostri for chorus and solo voices (1680) with Quicksilver, a small instrumental ensemble. The International Contemporary Ensemble joins them for two of Lang’s the national anthems of 2014. Alex Berko, who wrote a commission for the Monterey Symphony, is represented by his Lincoln, declamatory then reflexive to a text by Francis Bowes Sayre, a dean of Washington National Cathedral. You’ll also find new music by Ēriks Ešenvalds, Paul Fowler, Ted Hearne, and Ainu prayers in musical settings by Santa Ratniece. While this program doesn’t demand the extreme virtuosity of the Navona disc it should entice professional choruses well into the future. Meanwhile, it’s a pleasure to hear such fine music sung by the outstanding The Crossing. SM

TAP: WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE

MOTHER AND SON using downtime to make a big noise. Click HERE  

FRESH REVIEW

WOMEN ON FIRE at Jewel Theatre Company. Click HERE

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor

 

Weekly Magazine

NEW THIS WEEK

LIVE BROADWAY LOVE SONGS outdoors at Monterey Fairground. WOMEN ON FIRE opens at Jewel Theatre Company (photo above by Steve DiBartolomeo). BALCONY SESSION with Monterey Symphony violinist Thomas Yee. FOR DETAILS AND LINKS, CLICK HERE

WOMEN ON FIRE

 

THE ELECTRONIC LOVER

THE PAUL DRESHER ENSEMBLE teams up with composer Lisa Mezzacappa & librettist Beth Lisick for a free ‘listening party’ on Saturday at 7pm. Click HERE

SF OPERA TO GO LIVE BY DRIVE-IN

ROSSINI’S BARBER will open at Marin Center. Click HERE

POOR VIVALDI

AND MOZART and Kurt Weill and…

 

MAURICE RAVEL’S BRAIN

BELOVED FRENCH COMPOSER suffered an irreversible decline after completing his two piano concertos. Pursuant to a brain health symposium online this Thursday, Tom Jacobs explores Ravel’s deterioration. Click HERE

KHATIA BUNIATISHVILI PLAYS LA JAVANAISE

 

THE PIANO MUSICIANS GETTING RICH TODAY

Click HERE

THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH

LISTEN UP VIOLISTS! You know how little music has been composed for your instrument. Good news: here are some 70 minutes of viola music from Chile. In her recording debut for New Focus label, Chilean viola virtuoso Georgina Isabel Rossi explains that when she and her piano partner, Silvie Cheng, entered the recording studio it was with a heavy heart; cherished composer Juan Orrego-Salas (1919-2019) had just died. Rossi’s album title, Mobili, was named after Orrego-Salas’ suite in four classical-style movements for viola and piano of 1967. In contrasting moods, the four (in English) are Flexible, Discontinuous, Recurring and Perpetual. But the first thing that hits the ear is ¿Habrá alguien que en sus manos sostenga esta caer?, (Will there be someone whose hands can sustain this falling?) a highly virtuosic solo of 11 minutes duration for amplified viola from 2009 by Rafael Díaz (b. 1962). This fiercely aggressive piece was inspired by prayer-songs of indigenous peoples of the Andes which the composer collected during fieldwork. Díaz’ Al fondo de mi lejanía se asoma tu casa (In the depths of my distance your house emerges) for viola and piano (2013) could scarcely be more different in style and expression, a lyrical reminiscence of the composer as a child walking to school in Patagonia. Other composers represented on the new CD are Carlos Botto (1923-2004), Federico Heinlein (1912-1999), David Cortes (b. 1985)—his Tololo for viola and strings of 2011 named for the Inter-American Observatory of the high Andes and arranged here for viola and piano, and the “Schubert of the Pampas” Carlos Guastavino (1912-2000) whose El Sampedrino is an art song by the native Argentine composer, here arranged for viola and piano by Kim Kashkashian and Robert Levin. SM

WHAT A GORGEOUS new release from Bridge, ‘Long Live Love’ (from the Catalan title) focusing the fabulous lyric tenor of Isaí Jess Muñoz and his Russian-born Israeli pianist wife, Oksana Glouchko in songs by six Catalan composers. Place a bet that none of these pieces, and most of these composers, have been heard outside of Catalunya until now. But Muñoz, who enjoys an international reputation, has long advocated on behalf of contemporary and underrepresented vocal music. His growing discography makes that clear. The songs on this CD appear as cycles numbering from three to six: La rosa als llavis by Eduard Toldrà (1895-1962), Cants Homèries by Ricard Lamote de Grignon (1899-1962), Haidé by Narcís Bonet (b. 1933), Combat del Somni by Frederic Mompou Dencausse (1893-1987), Imitació del foe by Elisenda Fábregas (b. 1955) and Les Paraules Sagrades by Joan Comellas (1913-2000). The last five songs are set to sacred texts. Otherwise the subject matter ranges from ancient Greek verses to yearning for lost love, from new commissions (Fábregas) to love songs. Muñoz not only presents a compelling sound but a natural instinct for the theatrical and ecstatic. Highly recommended. SM

TRIBUTE TO WILLIAM GRANT STILL

 

NIGHT OF LIVING COMPOSERS

ONE YEAR ON from New Music Works Listening Station   Click HERE

CUCURRUCUCÚ PALOMA 

 

FRESH REVIEW

HOWARD BURNHAM’S homage to John Keats. Click HERE

FOLLOW US ON TWITTER: @PerfArtsMtyBay

Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor