05/23/2022

Music in wartime: Ukraine’s Lviv Philharmonic performs Mozart’s Requiem

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Ukraine’s Lviv Philharmonic performs Mozart’s Requiem, following a delay for air-raid sirens. First-aid kits are stacked at left in front of the stage. Photo: Diego Ibarra Sanchez/New York Times

“The audience members took their seats among boxes of medicine, first-aid kits and intravenous tubes. The orchestra was missing four men who are now fighting on the war’s front lines,” writes Erika Solomon in Saturday’s (5/21) New York Times. “The war in Ukraine has upended the meticulous planning that has gone into the Lviv Philharmonic’s annual summer music festival for four decades. But for musicians and the audience, the show must go on…. The [concert venue] … has become a coordination site for humanitarian supplies during the war…. The orchestra decided to open with Mozart’s Requiem … a tribute to the Ukrainians lost in three months of war…. About an hour before the concert started, air-raid sirens began to wail. [After the all-clear signal] the orchestra’s conductor, Volodymyr Syvokhip, … told the audience that as air-raid sirens sounded in Lviv, a bomb in the eastern Kharkiv region had reduced a cultural center to rubble…. When the requiem ended, members of the orchestra and their audience were in tears.” Said Liliia Svystovych, a teacher in the audience, “We understand that a requiem is about mourning, that it is sad music. But it is like a prayer. And a prayer is always a form of hope.”

May 23, 2022

Michael Abels and Rhiannon Giddens compose opera telling story of real-life Muslim scholar sold into slavery

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“Five years ago, the directors of Spoleto Festival USA asked the musician Rhiannon Giddens two questions,” writes Brian Seibert in Thursday’s (5/19) New York Times. “Had she heard of Omar ibn Said? Said was a man from what is now Senegal who was sold into slavery in 1807 and forced across the ocean to Charleston…. He lived enslaved for more than 50 years, was baptized and wrote several works in Arabic, including an autobiographical essay that would win him some posthumous fame. Giddens had not heard of Said, and because she was born and raised in North Carolina and is a serious student of slavery’s history, she was a little surprised. Not as surprised, though, as she was by the next question: Would she like to write an opera about him? Known principally as a banjo-playing folk singer and songwriter, Giddens is an artist of many accomplishments that include winning Grammy Awards and a MacArthur ‘genius’ grant…. ‘Omar,’ composed with Michael Abels, will have its … premiere at the festival on May 27 before it travels to Los Angeles Opera and Boston Lyric Opera…. ‘Opera is for everybody, so how do we reach more people?’ she asked.” Read Symphony magazine’s profile of Giddens.

 

May 23, 2022

Ohio’s ProMusica Chamber Orchestra 2022-23: Beethoven, Haydn, Reza Vali, Carline Shaw, “Naked Classics” series, Handel’s “Messiah”

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“If the new season of the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra looks—and sounds—a bit more normal than it has in recent years, that’s pretty much the idea,” writes Peter Tonguette in Sunday’s (5/22) Columbus Dispatch (OH). “ ‘We will have some tried-and-true favorites, like the full “Messiah,” and then we’re continuing to promote a new work by a living composer pretty much on every concert,’ said [CEO Janet Chen]…. [At] the opening weekend concerts … in addition to works by … Beethoven and … Haydn, Music Director David Danzmayr will lead the orchestra in a performance of the Ohio premiere of contemporary composer Reza Vali’s ‘The Girl from Shiraz.’ … Two concerts will feature contemporary musicians performing their own compositions: On March 4-5, Berlin Philharmonic concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley will perform his own work ‘Fidl-Fantazye: A Klezmer Concerto,’ and for the season finale on May 13-14, Pulitzer Prize-winning vocalist-composer Caroline Shaw will be featured in her own pieces, ‘Blueprint for String Quartet,’ ‘Is A Rose’ and ‘Entr’acte for String Orchestra.’ … Also coming back is ‘Naked Classics,’ an educational-style concert in which presenter and host Paul Rissmann does a deep-dive into classical masterpieces and the orchestra will play those same masterpieces.”

May 23, 2022

El Paso Symphony’s after-school Tocando Music Project receives cello cases for students

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“The Great Khalid Foundation gave students of the Tocando Music Project brand new, top-of-the-line cello cases,” reports Fallon Fischer in Wednesday’s (5/18) KFOX 14 (El Paso, TX). “The Tocando Music Project is an El Paso Symphony Orchestra after-school music program for second through eighth-grade students in Segundo Barrio and Tornillo, Texas. The donation of 25 cello cases will enable Tocando students in Segundo Barrio to bring their instruments home and to their site in Tornillo, which will be expanded from a violin ensemble to a full-string orchestra, according to a news release from the Tocando Music Project…. ‘I’m just so grateful and proud of these kids. These young people really show up and their families sacrifice a lot to make sure they can attend all of these concerts, we work with them six to eight hours a week and they are there,’ said Jessie O’Hara Maestas, director of Tocando Programs. Tocando students will perform at the season finale concerts of the El Paso Symphony Youth Orchestra … on Sunday…. Tocando is supported by the American Orchestras’ Futures Fund, a program of the League of American Orchestras made possible by funding from the Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation.”

May 23, 2022

Review: Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s world premiere of Ellen Reid’s “Floodplain”

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“Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra ended its season Sunday evening at Royce Hall,” writes CJ Ru in Tuesday’s (5/17) San Francisco Classical Voice. “That it has been a ‘doozy’ of change and challenge—per [Executive Director Ben] Cadwallader’s preconcert remarks—was evident in music director Jaime Martín’s pandemic-imposed absence. Guest conductor Stefan Asbury flew in with half a week to rehearse a program that, beyond Beethoven and Brahms, included the world premiere of a new piece by Creative Advisor and Composer-In-Residence Ellen Reid. Floodplain, Reid’s second LACO commission, …. was scheduled to premiere in May 2020, the composer said. The ‘lush and dangerous’ landscape she conceived certainly invites curiosity on how it morphed in the interim…. Floodplain flows vividly pictorial on this terrestrial plane…. In all three works on the program, LACO excelled in passages of fluid warmth. The word ‘lush’ proliferated…. The second movement of the Brahms wafted with the scent of soft leaf-padded soil in the May-afternoon glow of an old temperate forest. The second movement of the Beethoven radiated ruddy gold. Both seemed to cast a fond eye downstream at Floodplain’s soundscapes, unfurling past its perils, flush with fertile promise.”

May 23, 2022

National Philharmonic’s 2022-23: world premieres by Hailstork and Dehlinger, works with chorus, pops, chamber music

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The National Philharmonic and Music Director Piotr Gajewski have announced details of its 2022-2023 season, which will feature two world premieres: Henry Dehlinger’s Cosmic Cycles, presented in partnership with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and Adolphus Hailstork’s Symphony No. 5. Concerts featuring the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale will include Berlioz’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Mass in B minor, and Orff’s Carmina Burana. Featured composers will include Mahler, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Ginastera, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Louise Farrenc, Florence Price, Valerie Coleman, and Carlos Simon. Principal Pops Conductor Luke Frazier will lead two pops shows, and the orchestra will present family shows and a chamber music series curated by Concertmaster Laura Colgate. All season concerts will be held at The Music Center at Strathmore in Maryland, the Orchestra’s longstanding home, and selected concerts will also be presented at Capital One Hall in Northern Virginia.

May 23, 2022

05/23/2022