Milwaukee Symphony’s renovated concert hall and offices expected to be ready by year’s end

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Renovation of Bradley Symphony Center, the Milwaukee Symphony’s concert hall and offices, is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

“The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s transformation of the former Warner Grand Theater … into its new concert hall and headquarters has been a long road,” writes Bobby Tanzilo in Tuesday’s (11/17) OnMilwaukee magazine. “Though the timeline for completion of the Bradley Symphony Center has shifted for a variety of reasons, including most recently basement water damage, the work is now nearly done and MSO Operations Director John Roloff expects that the city will inspect the building and issue an occupancy permit before we next sing ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ … ‘It’ll be ready to be used long before COVID is ready for it to be used,’ says Roloff. While the 2021 MSO in-person season has been canceled … MSO will host a 16-performance classical and pops virtual season, beginning in January…. The theater … is greatly expanded from the previous stage footprint, which was too small to fit a symphony orchestra and for the proper acoustics…. The stage itself has three sections, two of which can be raised and lowered…. A raised U-shaped ‘Choral Terrace’ sits above the stage … providing performance space for a chorus [and] a few rows of seating … that will offer an unrivaled view of the orchestra and especially the conductor.”

 

November 19, 2020

Kennedy Center cancels live performances through April 2021, expands digital presence; Kennedy Center Honors to move to virtual platform

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“The Kennedy Center is canceling all scheduled live performances through April 25 as well as next summer’s slate of Broadway touring shows,” writes Peggy McGlone in Wednesday’s (11/18) Washington Post. “The annual Kennedy Center Honors … will be produced in late spring using a hybrid format of virtual tributes and live performances. The cancellations will result in the permanent layoffs of 38 employees who had been furloughed, adding to the 64 who were laid off in July…. Although it remains mostly closed, the arts center has presented a few events, including … outdoor sunset concerts on the lawns of the Reach, which reopened this summer. It plans to offer about 20 in-person events through the spring, if conditions allow.… The Kennedy Center has dramatically expanded its virtual offerings…. A platform launching this month, Digital Stage+, will provide donors, members and subscribers access to original programming, including … concerts by the National Symphony Orchestra…. ‘We are going to be more dependent on relationships with donors and patrons.… That is the only way we are going to get through this year,’ Kennedy Center president and chief executive Deborah Rutter said.”

November 19, 2020

San Diego Symphony’s associate principal bass—and pro-tem video editor

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“Susan Wulff’s life was profoundly impacted when the San Diego Symphony had to cancel its 2020 spring, summer and fall concert seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic,” writes George Varga in Sunday’s (11/15) San Diego Union-Tribune. “The orchestra’s associate principal bassist … has kept … busy exploring new creative vistas, in particular video editing.… Like San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare and CEO Martha Gilmer, Wulff is hopeful The Shell—the orchestra’s yet-to-open $45 million outdoor concert venue—will give it a major advantage in adapting to safe, socially distanced performances…. ‘I’m on the symphony’s social media team, which has been curating projects and putting them together to keep us valid and in the public eye,’ she said. Wulff … produced and edited [a] video featuring performances by bassists from 16 U.S. orchestras, including her…. It was created to fuel support for … Defend Arts Workers Now, [a] proposed $43.85 billion government relief fund.” Said Wulff, “The video has been shared over 20,000 times.… I want to help remind people of the joy music brings to their lives and also give them a platform to help arts organizations of all sizes.”

November 19, 2020

Curtis Institute appoints Michelle Cann as chair of piano studies, position named in honor of Eleanor Sokoloff

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“The Curtis Institute of Music has created a position in honor of Eleanor Sokoloff, the legendary piano professor who taught at the school for more than eight decades, and the school has named Philadelphia pianist Michelle Cann to fill the spot,” writes Peter Dobrin in Tuesday’s (11/17) Philadelphia Inquirer. “The 2013 Curtis graduate takes up the inaugural Eleanor Sokoloff chair in piano studies with duties she expects to begin in the new year. Sokoloff died in July at age 106. Cann will teach private lessons as well as coach chamber music, and said Tuesday that she hopes her role will be even more expansive…. She envisions making mentorship connections between Curtis students and young musicians in the city [and] hopes to broaden the career-soloist mind-set with which some students enter Curtis…. Cann, 33, has performed with the Florida Orchestra and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and in early 2021 is slated as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in … Florence Price’s Concerto in One Movement…. Eleanor Sokoloff … frequently spoke about the hurdles facing female pianists…. The chair newly named in her honor is intended to be held … ‘only by an exceptionally gifted and forward-thinking female pianist,’ according to Curtis’ announcement.”

November 19, 2020

Ohio teen, combining violin and skateboarding

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“If you listen closely, the sound of classical music fills Hills and Dales Park, and it’s coming from a Kettering [Ohio] 13-year-old,” writes Kelley King in Monday’s (11/16) WDTN-TV (Dayton, OH). “Thomas Bussen is a self-taught violinist, and even more impressive is that he also skateboards while playing…. ‘I thought … it would probably be fun to ride the skateboard and play my instrument and see if I could do it,’ says Thomas. Thomas started playing the viola at 9 years old. A teacher first showed him correct posture and taught him the names of notes. He [taught] himself how to play … violin. While he was initially learning to play the viola, he also took up skateboarding. Just last year, he combined his two talents, practicing in his neighborhood and the park. In doing so, he’s attracted some attention…. Thomas says balance is key. ‘When you’re playing the violin, it’s hard enough to try and keep the pressure, the weight of the bow balanced to make an even sound. And when you’re riding the skateboard a lot of times the road is very rocky,’ … [says] Thomas. Thomas has dreams of becoming a soloist someday.”

November 19, 2020

Obituary: David Elliott, longtime programmer and host at Harvard’s WHRB-FM radio, 78

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When he arrived at Harvard University as freshman in fall 1960, “David Elliott tuned in to WHRB-FM and visited the station before attending a single class,” writes Jeremy Eichler in Thursday’s (11/19) Boston Globe. “Mr. Elliott never really left, for the next 58 years. He became a … beloved announcer for classical and opera programming with deep ties to the local arts community; mentor to countless students … staunch advocate for the station’s fate across a shifting broadcast landscape; and dry-witted yet unfailingly rigorous keeper of standards who insisted that WHRB [be] a robust, community-oriented radio station that happened to be run by college students. Mr. Elliott died in his Cambridge home Nov. 12 of complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He was 78…. WHRB … became an essential FM destination known for its bracing mix and its exploratory zeal…. WHRB’s studio became a refuge for creative-minded students…. WHRB’s alumni include The New Yorker’s Alex Ross; former New York Times critic and editor John Rockwell; Chris Wallace of Fox News; and Scott Horsley of NPR…. After illness forced Mr. Elliott to step back from his numerous roles, WHRB honored him with the station’s own ultimate gesture of tribute, a seven-hour David Elliott Orgy. It will be rebroadcast on Dec. 24.”

November 19, 2020

Southwest Florida Symphony’s youth orchestras resume activities

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The Southwest Florida Symphony announced that its youth orchestras have resumed activities, beginning with auditions on November 16, followed by Monday rehearsals three times a month in downtown Fort Myers, Florida. The Southwest Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra Ensembles had cancelled rehearsals and concerts in March due to the pandemic; in reconvening the youth ensembles, the orchestra’s education department is following guidelines set by Lee County Schools and the CDC. “I am so happy that we are safely taking steps to resume and restore our Youth Orchestra activities,” says Southwest Florida Symphony Education and Community Outreach Director Kara Griffith. “The cognitive, social and emotional benefits of studying music are numerous and well-documented, and I look forward to offering all of these much-needed benefits to our students and community in the near future.” The Southwest Florida Symphony originally planned to begin its 60th year on October 26, but alternative performance plans are currently being developed. Additionally, the Southwest Florida Symphony’s music-director search has been paused until it is safe for large groups of musicians and patrons to convene. In the interim, the orchestra’s programming will be guided by Nir Kabaretti, who stepped down as music director at the end of the 2019-20 season.

 

November 19, 2020