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
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
WOMEN ON FIRE at Jewel Theatre Company. Click HERE
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Scott MacClelland, editor; Rebecca CR Brooks, associate editor