Hartford Symphony’s online “Firebird” thanks essential workers and community groups
“With a crash of timpani, a blare of trumpets, a zing of strings, Hartford Symphony Orchestra and The Bushnell fashion the finale of Stravinsky’s ‘The Firebird’ into a rousing cheer of thanks for essential workers,” writes Christopher Arnott in Wednesday’s (5/27) Hartford Courant (Connecticut). “The video, a joint effort by the two organizations, pairs hundreds of images of front-line workers with the performances of quarantined HSO musicians. The video, nearly 4 minutes long … shows hundreds of real people at their workplaces, and acknowledges more than 20 ‘community partners’ of the symphony and The Bushnell…. HSO music director Carolyn Kuan introduces the video…. As Stravinsky’s fiery melody flows, climbs and crescendos, [there are] shout-outs to specific professions, and a long run of heartfelt thank-yous…. The video has a stunning finish, where hundreds of images combine to create one giant mosaic: of the Bushnell stage where the symphony usually performs…. Colette Hall, the symphony’s artistic operations manager, credits Ryan Glista, Digital Institute project manager at The Bushnell, with ‘visualizing the story onscreen.’ … It was important to everyone behind the video that it [be] about the Greater Hartford community…. ‘We wanted the musicians not only to be playing but sharing a message,’ says Glista.”
May 29, 2020
Colorado’s San Juan Symphony: finding creative solutions during pandemic
“Adaptation seems to be the buzzword for almost every arts organization in the Four Corners these days,” writes Mikes Easterling in Thursday’s (5/28) Farmington Daily Times (New Mexico) “The COVID-19 shutdown has impacted them all to one degree or another, but most of them seem intent on surviving, even if they have to radically alter the way they do things. The San Juan Symphony, for instance, had the end of its season disrupted when both of its April concerts were canceled. But it has wasted little time developing a plan for its next season, which traditionally begins in late September. Executive director Kathy Myrick said much of the symphony’s next season—which long ago had been planned and scheduled—will be conducted on a virtual basis employing a variety of approaches. The group usually performs shows in Farmington and Durango, Colorado. ‘It’s likely we’ll have some event each month, but I don’t know if any of them will be in person,’ she said, citing the possibility of her organization offering pay-per-view concerts and streaming lectures by music director Thomas Heuser. On the bright side, Myrick said the symphony is in a stable financial position despite the shutdown.”
May 29, 2020
Pensacola Symphony musicians and music director on value of shared musical experience
“Like so many others, members of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra wait for the return of happier times, on the other side of the pandemic,” writes Dan Sugart on Wednesday (5/27) at WEAR-TV (Pensacola, FL). “For the past quarter-century, give or take, [Music Director] Peter Rubardt has guided this polished team of gifted, professional musicians…. But the COVID-19 pandemic silenced the season and unsettled lives. ‘It’s a hard, hard time to be a musician, that is true,’ Rubardt acknowledges…. The Symphony Orchestra provides only part of their livelihood. Principal Flute Stephanie Riegle [and] principal clarinet Richard Jernigan … both still teach. But … ‘The magic is when they all come together,’ says Jernigan. ‘The instruments are uniquely designed for this group sort of experience.’ … Riegle says, ‘I think it’s especially heartbreaking not to be able to share what we do with our community when it could really benefit them, right now, when they need it the most.’ … The day the orchestra will perform again … ‘will feel overwhelmingly emotional,’ Riegle adds, ‘just to hear and feel the music resonate again.’ … Says Rubardt, ‘I think if you can zoom very far out, you recognize that music is absolutely essential.’ ”
May 29, 2020
Pianist Igor Levit to live-stream 20-hour Satie “Vexations” performance
“No stranger to performing some of the towering epics of the piano repertoire, Igor Levit will live-stream Erik Satie’s monumental Vexations on Saturday, May 30 at 2pm (Central European Time),” reads an unsigned Thursday (5/28) article in Gramophone (U.K.). “The performance will be broadcast by The New Yorker and Der Spiegel [magazines], as well as on Levit’s own Twitter and Instagram accounts…. The concert is being given to raise awareness for the plight of artists worldwide. ‘It has always been a strong wish of mine to be able to perform Erik Satie’s Vexations,’ Levit said…. ‘This piece was revolutionary thanks to its atonal harmony. The few notes—a theme and two variations—fit on just one sheet. The 840 repetitions herald early on a future of aesthetic repetitiveness. The sheer duration of over 20 hours of Vexations doesn’t feel like a ‘nuisance’ to me, as the title would suggest, but rather a retreat into silence and humility. It reflects a feeling of resistance…. It feels right to play the Vexations right now…. Vexations represents for me a silent scream.’ Igor Levit is financing the project via the funds from the Gilmore Award granted to him in January 2018.”
May 29, 2020
Composer Steve Reich, staying focused on music while isolating with family in L.A.
“Pulitzer-winning composer Steve Reich … has been keeping busy with the solitary act of writing a new piece from his winter getaway in Los Angeles,” writes Tom Huizenga on Tuesday (5/26) at National Public Radio. “Q: How are you doing, personally, since the virus hit? Reich: Well, I’m 83, so I’m following all the guidelines assiduously. My wife is 74 and she’s doing the same thing. We come every year to Los Angeles to visit our son, from January to March…. We decided it was a lot safer here than to go back on an airplane. Q: Is there something that’s sustaining you, keeping you occupied, during your stay in L.A. so far? Reich: I’ve been working on … a piece called Traveler’s Prayer.… In any traditional Jewish Hebrew prayer book there’s a travelers prayer.… I am not using the body of that prayer. But in various prayer books there are additional verses taken either from the Torah or Psalms, that seem appropriate and that are sometimes added, sometimes not…. Judaism is very adamant about worrying about what’s happening here and now. So what I’m concerned about in this piece is really getting it right.”
May 29, 2020
Prince Charles takes to the radio in support of classical music
“ ‘I’ve got Wagner-itis,’ said His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales,” writes Charlotte Runcie in Wednesday’s (5/27) Daily Telegraph (U.K.). “ ‘I’m not sure it’s a communicable disease, but it’s something like that.’ That was, thankfully, one of few mentions of diseases of any sort during the two hours that the Prince spent in conversation with Alan Titchmarsh for A Royal Appointment (Classic FM), the first of two programs this week in which the Prince shares some of his favorite pieces of music…. The Royal family are always at their most effective when they champion causes for which they have a genuine passion…. Titchmarsh invited the Prince to speculate on whether the country’s arts organizations will survive once the pandemic has passed…. ‘I hope so,’ he said, firmly, ‘because otherwise we’ve all had it. Life becomes insupportable.’ … If there was ever a time to make a case for music and arts as a central pillar … this is it, and the Prince of Wales has risen to the moment in style…. He ended the program … with Bach’s ‘Be near me, Lord, when dying’ from the St. Matthew Passion…. It felt like a movement towards consolation in an ongoing time of international grief.”
May 29, 2020
Virtual performance of Julius Eastman’s “Stay On It,” June 1
Five U.S. arts organizations—Castle of our Skins, Challenge the Stats, Contemporaneous, Kyle Marshall Choreography, and The Dream Unfinished—have created an online orchestra for a virtual performance of Julius Eastman’s Stay On It on June 1 at 11 a.m. ET. Presented by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Stay On It event is a classical-music tribute to essential workers of color in the United States, including grocery employees, public transit operators, custodians, and other professions primarily occupied by people of color. Stay On It will be available on Lincoln Center’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, and on Lincoln Center at Home. David Bloom and Vimbayi Kaziboni will conduct the performance, which will feature musicians from the Dream Unfinished Orchestra, plus narrator Terrance McKnight, vocalist Brandie Sutton, dance director/performer Kyle Marshall, and dancer Bria Bacon. The performance is produced by Eun Lee, executive director of The Dream Unfinished, a New York City-based collective of diverse musicians who promote civil rights and community organizations through concerts and presentations, and is edited by Dream Unfinished pianist Kyle Walker.
May 29, 2020
May 29 update: postponements and cancellations at orchestras, conservatories, and concert halls
From the time that COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) first impacted the performing arts, The Hub has been tracking postponements and cancellations by U.S. and international orchestras, performing arts centers, and conservatories.
The League of American Orchestras is posting resources and information about coping with the pandemic as a service to the orchestra field. These resources include information about the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security package; discussion groups and one-on-one consultations for League members; guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and other authorities; and more. Find regularly updated resources and information on the League’s coronavirus preparedness site.
The following orchestras and music organizations have recently announced postponements, cancellations, and other shifts in concerts and related activities due to the global pandemic. Many orchestras, musicians, conservatories, and others are posting videos, recordings, and educational resources online free of charge; visit the League of American Orchestras’ new, regularly updated directory of digital programming at SymphonySpot.org. Note: orchestras and music festivals are revising their plans as the situation evolves; refer to individual websites and social media pages for the most up-to-date information. (This list is not complete, and we will continue to post announcements as they arrive.)
The Adrian Symphony Orchestra (Michigan) has postponed its June 5 concert to a later date, due to the expansion of statewide stay-at-home orders. A new date will be announced. The orchestra is posting videos, stories, and other resources online.
The Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival (New York) has postponed its 2020 concerts to the summer of next year. The festival normally presents a dozen concerts for five weeks from late July to August in Bridgehampton and other East Long Island locations. Bridgehampton Chamber Music’s summer 2020 online activities will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Cincinnati Pops (Ohio) has cancelled its July 4 concert at Riverbend Music Center due to the coronavirus pandemic. In its place, the Pops will present a free livestream of musical performances, with details to be announced at a later date.
The Cliburn (Fort Worth, Texas), which produces the Cliburn Piano Competition and other programs, has delayed the start of its concert series from October 2020 to January 2021; the season will be shorter than usual. The concert series features recitals by classical musicians at Bass Performance Hall and other Fort Worth venues. The organization is exploring options for a few small live concerts this fall at alternative venues, utilizing social distancing. The summer seasons of the online Cliburn at Home, Cliburn Watch Party, and Cliburn Kids series will begin on June 15, with details to be announced. The Cliburn at Home initiative launched on March 30.
The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra (Minnesota) cancelled its April 18 and May 2 concerts. The orchestra had previously hoped to reschedule concerts and events that were suspended this spring. The organization is posting past concerts for free viewing online, with more content being added every week.
May 29, 2020