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CANCELLATIONS & POSTPONEMENTS
CABRILLO STAGE CANCELS SHOWS: Had planned to stage Kinky Boots and Candide > Click HERE ~ JEWEL THEATRE COMPANY CHANGES: Heisenberg has been pushed back to 20-21 season; Arms and the Man canceled > Click HERE ~ UPDATE FROM THE WESTERN STAGE > Click HERE ~ MUSIC IN MAY FESTIVAL POSTPONED “FOR” 2021 > Click HERE ~ WORLD THEATER AT CSUMB: All events canceled until fall > Click HERE ~ SANTA CRUZ CIVIC CLOSED: The auditorium is “closed to the public until further notice.”
ECONOMIC IMPACT GRANTS AVAILABLE
THANKS TO FUNDING from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Arts Council for Monterey County is pleased to provide Economic Impact Grants up to $5,000 to small nonprofit arts organizations who have had to cancel events or programs during the Covid-19 pandemic–deadline fast approaching. Click HERE
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR and principal conductor of the Carmel Bach Festival since 2011 will step down after the 2021 Festival. A search for his replacement will commence soon.
WORLD PIANO DAY LIVESTREAM
FROM MARCH 28, introduced by Maria João Pires
SHAKESPEARE IN A DIVIDED AMERICA
A NEW BOOK by James Shapiro lays out the conflicting interpretations the Bard always inspires. Click HERE
GHETTO BLASTERS AND POLITICS
IN UGANDA pop singer Bobi Wine is the opposition’s most popular candidate for president. Click HERE
THREE TENORS JOIN ZUBIN FROM HOME
ENLARGE image to read translations from Italian
THE HYPERTRAGIC NOTCH
IN TIME FOR EASTER, this recording of JS Bach’s St Matthew Passion was made at King’s College, Cambridge, in mid-April, 2019, and released just a week ago. The conductor, Sir Stephen Cleobury, died only last November, and had been active with the Choir of King’s College as an organist and choral director for the last 35 years. The orchestra is the acclaimed Academy of Ancient Music. For the occasion, a detailed program note was written by John Butt, a keyboard specialist and scholar who had been active with the Carmel Bach Festival during the 1990s. JS Bach arrived at Leipzig—where he would spend the rest of his life—in 1723. The Passion oratorio as he redefined it in his John and Matthew passions was new music; its operatic features had been introduced in sacred music there only five years earlier. The combination of gospel texts and newly written material derived in style from the Italian opera undoubtedly rattled the conservatives of Protestant clergy and congregations.
The gospel per se is recited by the Evangelist, sung with great focus by tenor James Gilchrist, and Matthew Rose, a powerful bass, as Jesus. The rest of the text—arias and choruses—was written by the Leipzig poet Christian Friedrich Henrici, who went by the pseudonym Picander. In recent years, productions of Bach’s Matthew Passion have swung widely from one another, several emphasizing the theatricality of the narrative and purposely intensifying the emotion implicit in the words and music. Here, however, the approach is more traditional, overall more lyrical in character. Both the John and Matthew passions are multilayered works. The arias call for a quartet unnamed of characters to express their feelings in reaction to events unfolding in the drama. (The final bass aria is sometimes meant to depict Joseph of Arimathea, the disciple who claimed the lifeless body of Jesus for burial.) The quartet consists of soprano Sophie Bevan, countertenor David Allsopp, tenor Mark Le Brocq and bass William Gaunt. Butt’s essay sorts through the historical and structural elements of the Picander/Bach telling. He singles out the otherworldly soprano aria “Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben” (Out of love my Savior is willing to die) as “arguably the most beautiful” of the entire work. Its placement, between two choruses of the crowd demanding crucifixion, and its two ethereal flutes surrounding the soprano voice is like the serene eye of the violent storm. The oratorio is in two parts—a sermon was traditionally spoken between them—and Part 1 opens and closes with large choral ‘fantasia’ movements that include a children’s chorus, in this instance the Ripieno Choir of the King’s College School. Curiously, in the opening choral fantasia the children’s voices, intoning the chorale melody in long, broken phrases, don’t stand out against the two antiphonal choruses as Bach plainly intended, but rather blend in. Just ahead of the much loved alto aria, “Erbarme dich” (Have mercy, Lord), falls the scene in which Peter denies Jesus three times “before the cock crows.” Two unnamed “maids” are witnesses. Two young trebles, Jack Bowley and Joshua O’Neill, sing those parts with beautiful purety and join the other minor character parts, Judas, Peter, witnesses and priests. Personally, my favorite recent recording of the Matthew Passion is the much more detailed production by René Jacobs, the RIAS Kammerchor and Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, on the Harmonia Mundi label. Still there is much satisfaction in Cleobury’s final recorded performance. SM
LEGENDARY HOLLYWOOD STRING QUARTET
FIRST TIME POSTED to YouTube. Violinist Felix Slatkin and cellist Eleanor Aller were the parents of conductor Leonard Slatkin.
KEN BUTLER LET LOOSE
HE MAKES INSTRUMENTS out of junk. Click HERE
RITE OF SPRING
FROM Rocco Bitondo of Rome Opera.
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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor