Seattle Symphony to give U.S. premiere of composer Hannah Kendall’s “Kanashibari”

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Composer Hannah Kendall (center) and conductor Jonathon Heyward (behind her) with the Seattle Symphony at the U.S. premiere of Kendall’s The Spark Catchers in 2019. Photo by James Holt/Seattle Symphony

“Hannah Kendall is a name you’ll want to remember,” writes Thomas May in Tuesday’s (2/16) Seattle Times. “It was only two years ago that the young British composer’s work was first played by an American orchestra, when Berkeley Symphony gave the world premiere of Kendall’s ‘Disillusioned Dreamer.’ … Soon after, Seattle Symphony presented the U.S. premiere of her intensely evocative and haunting ‘The Spark Catchers’ … inspired by a poetic tribute to exploited workers in a 19th-century matchmaking factory…. On Feb. 25, Seattle Symphony presents another U.S. premiere of a Kendall piece with … ‘Kanashibari.’ ‘Kanashibari’ dates from 2013 and is among the composer’s earliest pieces…. ‘Kanashibari’ achieves a marvelous array of colors with chamber forces of mostly winds and strings. ‘Kanashibari’ is the Japanese word for sleep paralysis, caused by disruption of the sleep cycles…. The hallucinations that can result inspired Kendall to imagine a musical depiction of ‘an episode of sleep paralysis.’ … ‘What I love about Hannah’s work is that her music has such a pure identity,’ says Jonathon Heyward, who will guest conduct the Feb. 25 concert. The 28-year-old maestro [led] the 2019 program that included ‘The Spark Catchers’ [and] has since become one of Kendall’s foremost interpreters.”

February 19, 2021

Carnegie Hall to remain closed to live performances through summer 2021

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“Carnegie Hall and its three stages will remain shuttered through the summer,” writes Susan Elliott in Thursday’s (2/18) Musical America (subscription required). “As per executive orders from the City of New York and the state, the hall has been closed since March 13, 2020…. A spokeswoman indicated that staff was planning an October return, with emphasis on the word planning. Streamed programming, such as Live with Carnegie Hall and Learn with Carnegie Hall, continues. Voices of Hope, announced in January of 2020 as a citywide festival with some 40 collaborating institutions, will move online. Details of the revised event ‘honoring the life-affirming power of music and the arts,’ have yet to be announced, other than moving the original dates of March 12-May 22, 2021, to April 16-30. Preparations for convening the three youth ensemble—the National Youth Orchestra of the USA, NYO2, and NYO Jazz—continue, with the usual in-person residency at Purchase College, SUNY, still scheduled, albeit under strict safety rules…. In addition to the Hall’s three auditoriums being closed, the Resnick Education Wing is as well, at least until fall 2021. In-person education and social impact details will be shared when an opening appears nigh.”

February 19, 2021

New orchestra in Macon, Georgia set to debut in fall 2021

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“Macon will once again have a symphony orchestra, thanks to a five-year, $300,000 Peyton Anderson Foundation grant that will fund a collaboration between the world-renowned Robert McDuffie Center for Strings in Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music and musicians from the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,” writes Julia Rubens on Thursday (2/18) in Mercer University’s Mercer News (Macon, GA). “The announcement was made today…. The new orchestra—to be called the Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra—will re-establish a top-tier regional American orchestra in Macon, where the Macon Symphony ended its 41-year run in 2017. The closure left not only a void for McDuffie Center students who previously played with the orchestra, but also for the Middle Georgia community. Without the MSO, local residents interested in orchestral music have had to travel to Atlanta, Savannah, Columbus or outside the state to access a season of live performances. The Macon-Mercer Symphony Orchestra will be conducted by Mercer Distinguished Artist Ward Stare, and annual spring and fall performances will take place beginning in the fall of 2021 at the Grand Opera House. Repertoire will include standard pieces by essential classical composers, as well as work by a wide range of contemporary composers from diverse backgrounds.”

February 19, 2021

California luthier crafts violin from local woods to highlight area’s music programs for youth

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“Most everyone has heard of The Red Violin, a 1998 film with a soundtrack by John Corigliano,” writes Diane Peterson in Sunday’s (2/13) Press Democrat (Sonoma County, CA). “Now there’s a new iteration: The Redwood Violin, an instrument Santa Rosa luthier Andrew Carruthers is carving, gluing and varnishing from materials sourced within 30 miles of his studio…. Through the curves and acoustics of the Redwood Violin, Carruthers hopes to paint a portrait of Sonoma County and pay tribute to its redwood forests and apple orchards, its talented artists and crafts people…. Although he normally sells his hand-carved instruments to serious music students across the country who are entering music school or the job market, the luthier plans to use the all-local violin to promote local education programs and orchestras. The Redwood Violin will debut this April in a recorded concert by the Young People’s Chamber Orchestra, part of the Santa Rosa Symphony Institute for Music Education. YPCO’s co-concertmaster Aedan Seaver will be the featured soloist in Concertina for Violin and Strings composed by high school junior Gwendolyn Thalia Przjazna of Cotati. The virtual concert will be released to the public in early May.”

February 19, 2021

In the U.K., opera singers help COVID patients with breathing issues

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“On a recent afternoon, the singing coach Suzi Zumpe was running through a warm-up with a student” named Wayne Cameron, writes Andrew Dickson in Tuesday’s (2/16) New York Times. “Zumpe usually leads [classes] at the Royal Academy of Music, or Garsington Opera, where she trains young singers. But Cameron, 56, isn’t a singer…. The session had been prescribed by doctors as part of his recovery plan after a pummeling experience with Covid-19 last March. Called E.N.O. Breathe and developed by the English National Opera in collaboration with a London hospital, the six-week program offers patients customized vocal lessons: clinically proven recovery exercises, but reworked by professional singing tutors and delivered online.… Last September … it started trialing the medical program [after] ‘long Covid’ cases started emerging: people who … still suffer effects including chest pain, fatigue, brain fog and breathlessness. ‘Opera is rooted in breath,” said Jenny Mollica, who runs the English National Opera’s outreach work. ‘That’s our expertise, I thought.’ … She contacted Dr. Sarah Elkin, a respiratory specialist at … Imperial College N.H.S. Trust…. Twelve patients were initially recruited…. ‘The program really does help,’ Cameron said. ‘Physically, mentally, in terms of anxiety.’ ”

February 19, 2021

Review: Philadelphia Orchestra and Michelle Cann in new orchestration of Price piano concerto

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“There are more than a few astonishing aspects to Florence Price and her Piano Concerto in One Movement, starting with the fact that a Black woman in 1930s America managed to get her work noticed and performed by the classical music establishment,” writes Peter Dobrin in Wednesday’s (2/17) Philadelphia Inquirer. “But the thing that strikes me … is how much it says in so short a span … moving from storm to carefree summer idyll to ecstatic joy…. The great artistic coup of this week’s Philadelphia Orchestra Digital Stage presentation of the concerto is that although the work has been recorded before, a more stirring and authoritative performance may not exist….. Much of the credit goes to pianist Michelle Cann … who is exquisite…. The concerto … was well-received at its premiere in 1934, but at some point it disappeared…. A manuscript of the original orchestration turned up at auction in 2019, and two Cornell University music professors, Tamara Acosta and Stephen Spinelli, pitched the orchestra on the idea of programming the concerto…. Comparing the newly published original score, two-piano score, and [Trevor] Weston’s [2011 reconstruction], Spinelli and Acosta found more than 100 discrepancies or errors … and, working with Philadelphia Orchestra librarian Nicole Jordan, resolved them.”

February 19, 2021

Fresno Philharmonic’s virtual concerts and chats in 2021, hosted by Rei Hotoda

Industry Buzz

The next installment of the Fresno Philharmonic’s 2021 virtual concert series will take place on February 20, with Music Director Rei Hotoda leading the orchestra in recently recorded performances of Copland’s Appalachian Spring and works by three women composers: Joan Tower, Florence Price, and Jasmine Barnes. Repertoire will include Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman; Barnes’s brass quintet Resistance, described as “a musical call to action”; and Price’s The Deserted Garden for violin and piano, with concertmaster Stephanie Sant ’Ambrogio and Hotoda on piano. Hotoda will conduct a live chat with the audience during the performance, which is being streamed at the Philharmonic’s website and YouTube channel. The first concert in the series on January 16 featured Haydn’s Symphony No. 44, William Bolcom’s Commedia for (Almost) 18th Century Orchestra, and Adolphus Hailstork’s An American Fanfare. Hotoda also has been hosting “Stay Tuned” virtual chats about each concert program, which have featured conversations with Jasmine Barnes, William Bolcom, and Adolphus Hailstork. For more information visit https://fresnophil.org/events/american-visions/.

February 19, 2021

“Black Musicians in Early Music” free livestream, Feb. 21

Industry Buzz

On February 21, Early Music America and the Handel and Haydn Society will co-present “Black Musicians in Early Music,” a live-streamed conversation with Black musicians in the field of early music and historical performance practice. Presented in conjunction with Early Music America’s Well-Tempered Musician wellness series and moderated by baritone Dana Whiteside, the discussion will feature panelists Joseph McHardy (conductor and organist), Reginald Mobley (countertenor), Patricia Ann Neely (viola da gamba and vielle), Rachel Redmond (soprano), and Jonathan Woody (bass-baritone and composer). The conversation will be streamed on February 21 at 2 p.m. ET on Early Music America’s website and on its Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter pages.

February 19, 2021

League Webinar to focus on mental health and wellness in the orchestra field

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Mental health and wellness are extremely important—yet frequently overlooked and often stigmatized. On Wednesday, February 24, the League of American Orchestras will present Mental Health and Wellness: A Conversation, a virtual session moderated by Stephanie Wagner, a trainer and program specialist at Healthy Minds Innovations (affiliated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison). The 90-minute discussion will offer first steps in normalizing conversations about mental health for those in the orchestra field, and a musician, a composer, an orchestra administrator, and a licensed therapist will discuss destigmatizing mental health issues, therapy, and medication. The panelists are: Julia Adolphe, composer; Lauren Aycock Anderson, therapist/owner, Counseling for Creatives, LLC; Aiden Feltkamp, emerging composers and diversity director, American Composers Orchestra; and Sidney Hopson, musician and arts strategist. The session will feature tips backed by science to support and nurture mental and emotional well-being during this challenging time, as well as time for Q&A with the panel.

Mental Health and Wellness: A Conversation takes place on Wednesday, February 24 at 3:00pm Eastern/12:00pm Pacific; a recording will be available after the live event for those who register. Learn more and register here. Contact League Member Services at member@americanorchestras.org with questions.

February 19, 2021