05/18/2022

Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Chorale to perform Joel Thompson’s “Seven Last Words of the Unarmed”

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Adrian Davis leads a choral rehearsal for the Minnesota Orchestra’s performance of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed. Photo: Minnesota Orchestra

“Death after death drove each step of ‘Seven Last Words of the Unarmed,’ ” writes Jenna Ross in Friday’s (5/13) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “Eric Garner’s death … is part of what moved [composer Joel Thompson] to write the piece in 2014. News of Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal cord injury in police custody, pushed Thompson to get the piece performed. Then, George Floyd’s death brought the work to stage after high-profile stage. This coming week, the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minnesota Chorale are performing the multimovement, 15-minute piece. A smaller group will perform it May 28 at George Floyd Square. The work—which sets to music the final words of Garner and six other unarmed Black men killed during encounters with police or authority figures—launched Thompson’s composing career. But its performance always leaves him uneasy. ‘It’s the one piece I’ve written that I hope becomes irrelevant,’ Thompson said recently via Zoom. A conversation in Minneapolis shifted that view, though. Meeting with Jeanelle Austin, lead caretaker at George Floyd Square, she assured Thompson that there’s power in memory, power in memorial.”

May 18, 2022

Richmond Symphony to partner with Virginia Opera for new opera about “Loving v. Virginia” Supreme Court case

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“Virginia Opera, along with the Richmond Symphony, announced Monday that it has co-commissioned ‘Loving v. Virginia,’ an operatic retelling of the groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court case centered on the interracial marriage of Mildred and Richard Loving,” writes Bill Lohmann in Monday’s (5/16) Richmond Times-Dispatch (VA). Composer Damien Geter and librettist Jessica Murphy Moo’s opera “will be premiered in venues across Virginia in 2025…. ‘This is a story that is very important, not only to Virginia but important to our nation and quite frankly to the world,’ said Geter. [Murphy Moo] said the Lovings made her own marriage possible and she happily noted her oldest daughter was born on June 12, so-called Loving Day, the anniversary of the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia that struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in the nation…. The [1967] Supreme Court [decision] served as a basis for the court’s 2015 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, in which it ruled the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples. Virginia Opera’s [artistic director Adam] Turner said that ruling made his marriage to his husband two years ago possible. ‘It’s a testament to Loving v. Virginia,’ he said.”

May 18, 2022

What it takes to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within organizations

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‘To understand how associations can sustain and improve their DEI -diversity, equity, and inclusion] initiatives over the long term, we spoke with Simon Woods, president and CEO of the League of American Orchestras … and David Acosta … chief diversity and inclusion officer at the Association of American Medical Colleges,” writes Rasheeda Childress in last Monday’s (5/9) Associations Now Magazine. “The two offered some key tenets that help sustain DEI programs so that they achieve their goals year after year.” Woods: “Leadership is critical. We have a board which is very progressive and very much behind this change, and I am deeply committed to it. So it starts at the top…. Organizations that are diverse are much richer places. They have a diverse range of views. They have diverse ideas. They behave in ways that are likely to build diverse audiences and diverse constituencies…. There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t actively work to recruit and hire a diverse staff. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from really thinking deeply in your organization about what inclusion means and how you welcome all voices.”

May 18, 2022

Artosphere Music Director Corrado Rovaris on the festival’s music this season

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“The Artosphere Festival Orchestra returns to the Walton Arts Center this spring to showcase the talents of 90 young musicians in three very different performances,” writes Becca Martin-Brown in Sunday’s (5/15) Arkansas Democrat. Artosphere Music Director Corrado Rovaris: “When I learned the theme of the festival this year was the sun, I tried to tie my selections to that theme…. I chose the Italian Symphony by Mendelssohn, because it radiates with Mediterranean light and the exuberant joy of life. At the same time, I wanted to present the opposite, so I chose Notturno by Martucci, which is a short gem that presents an intimate melancholic space. We always present something outside the usual repertoire, and this season we chose to present ‘Aconcagua’ Bandoneón Concerto by Astor Piazzolla, who brought tango to the classical music world … [For] the third program … I chose ‘Don Juan’ by Richard Strauss for its swagger and energy, and also, because it matches the virtuosity of our orchestra…. The second work in the program is Four Last Songs by Richard Strauss…. They lift the listener to a different, metaphysical dimension. Finally, we end with The Firebird Suite by Stravinsky … an ideal closing piece for our festival.”

May 18, 2022

At the Springfield Symphony, contract talks continue, season announcement planned for 2022-23

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“The Springfield Symphony Orchestra is planning to start a 2022-2023 season in the fall and to do it with its unionized musicians on the Symphony Hall stage,” writes Jim Kinney in Monday’s (5/16) Republican (Springfield, MA). “The union … and … SSO management have been without a contract since August 2020. At a concert on Friday evening, [Interim Executive Director Paul] Lambert said the SSO was close to announcing a full season of concerts. It was the second of two shows the symphony played with the unionized musicians under a settlement both sides reached with the National Labor Relations Board back in January…. The two concerts were the first time the SSO had taken the Symphony Hall stage in more than two years. Lambert said Monday he is looking forward to a positive outcome with the union, but he cannot discuss details. Likewise, musician Beth Welty said the union cannot comment…. Welty is also chair of MOSSO, the Musicians of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, a union-backed ensemble that’s been hosting its own concerts. MOSSO will perform its Salute to Sondheim on June 23, and longtime SSO music director Kevin Rhodes is returning to Springfield to conduct a benefit concert July 21.”

May 18, 2022

Albany Symphony’s 2022 American Music Festival: TrailBlaze NY

Industry Buzz

This year, the theme of the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s annual American Music Festival, a month-long new-music event in New York’s Capital Region and Upper Hudson, is “TrailBlaze NY.” The festival will celebrate the completion of New York State’s new Empire State Trail, “the incredible 750-mile walking and cycling rail trail that now connects all residents of New York State to one another,” said Music Director David Alan Miller. Free outdoor orchestra concerts will take place in June and July across the region, and include local food and drinks, health and wellness events, and children’s activities. The festival will be preceded by a week of performances (June 2-5) by the Albany Symphony at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall and by the Dogs of Desire, the orchestra’s chamber music group, at the Cohoes Music Hall. Festival performances (June 11-July 3) are planned in Schuylerville, Kingston, Hudson, Schenectady, Albany, and Amsterdam. Repertoire will include John Corigliano’s new saxophone concerto (“Triathlon”) with soloist Timothy McAllister; Gabriella Smith’s Field Guide, which celebrates birdsong; and Steven Stucky’s Radical Light. For more information visit albanysymphony.com/trailblazeny.

May 18, 2022

05/18/2022