Pittsburgh Symphony returns for more digital concerts, led by Honeck and Stripling

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The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Music Director Manfred Honeck rehearse for the orchestra’s March 13 virtual concert. Photo by Ed Dearmitt/Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

“The sounds of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra have resonated for 125 years,” writes JoAnne Klimovich Harrop in Sunday’s (2/21) Trib-Live (western PA). “Feb. 27 will mark its first performance this year. The original plan included a year-long celebration culminating with a gala. But the pandemic crashed that party. ‘We definitely still want to celebrate,’ said Melia Tourangeau, president and CEO of the symphony.… The symphony produced a special performance in the fall that will air virtually at 7:30 on Feb. 27…. In addition to the gala, the orchestra will offer new performances for the ‘Front Row’ [virtual] series [beginning] on March 13. Music director Manfred Honeck, who recently returned to the U.S., will be part of the performances.… Each episode is 60 minutes and includes a solo performance by a wind or brass musician…. Principal Pops conductor Byron Stripling has created a program of early folk classics and ballads, along with blues and soul that followed…. Mary Persin, vice president of artistic planning … said … ‘This virtual programming will be a vivid musical celebration of this milestone.’ ” The article includes a list of events that have recently been cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic.

February 22, 2021

League’s Heather Noonan on latest COVID-19 relief package and its impact on arts industry

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“In her new One to One interview, Heather Noonan, vice president of advocacy for the League of American Orchestras, explains how the latest COVID-19 relief package, including Save Our Stages (SOS) legislation, will impact presenters, venues, and independent contractors in the arts,” states Susan Elliott in a video segment in Thursday’s (2/18) Musical America. The interview is part of Musical America’s One to One: How Leaders Are Managing the Crisis series of video interviews. “Updating her One to One [interview] of last April, when she unwrapped the CARES Act provisions for us, Noonan here explains the new support options, from a PPP loan to a Shuttered Venue Operator (aka Save Our Stages) grant to retroactive tax credits, and more. She also urges us to keep the pressure on our local representatives to support the arts, made easy via now-familiar FaceTime and Zoom. Physical distance is no longer an excuse—’You don’t have to fly to Washington to have a meeting with your member of Congress,’ she notes.”

 

February 22, 2021

Kev Marcus and Wil B on changing perceptions of Black artists and classical music

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“When Kev Marcus and Wil B met in a high school music class they shared their desire to disrupt people’s impressions of what classical music should be. Together they formed a group called Black Violin,” reports Judy Woodruff in Wednesday’s (2/17) PBS Newshour. In a video interview, the musicians speak about the inspiration for their duo. “I went to the class my first day [in high school], and I noticed all these wood instruments,” says Wil B. “I was looking for the cool instruments, the saxophones and the trumpets. And they told me that I got put in this class. And we were stand partners.” Kev Marcus says, “We have always just made good music…. My college professor [gave] me a tape back in 1999…. It’s like a violin on fire, like a violin with soul.… When I listened to it, I could tell it was a Black guy playing it…. I gave the tape to Wil. And he was vibing it too. Many years later, we named ourselves after the inspiration, the [album] that changed our entire perception…. That album [Stuff Smith’s ‘Black Violin’] changed the way we perceived the violin, so now … Black Violin continues to change and challenge people’s perceptions.”

February 22, 2021

Santa Barbara Symphony continues work with local students during pandemic

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“The Santa Barbara Symphony has announced its continued partnership with the Santa Barbara Unified School District to present BRAVO!, the popular after-school music education program,” writes Gerry Fall in Wednesday’s (2/17) Santa Barbara News-Press (CA). “This year, the free program is being offered virtually to fifth- and sixth-grade students.…. BRAVO! was developed five years ago to supplement the district’s in-school music programs by offering two additional, free music lessons each week. Students work with school district teachers and local professional musicians….. The BRAVO! music program provides a pathway for students to enroll and be successful in junior high and high school music ensembles.” Kristine Pacheco-Bernt, the orchestra’s director of music education, said that during the pandemic, “Disparities in education have become apparent, and the symphony’s mission to provide music education to the community is more important now than it has ever been.” Sierra Loughridge, the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s director of elementary education, said that the district “is thrilled to be partnering with the Santa Barbara Symphony again this school year…. We recognize that the benefits of playing a musical instrument … include an increase in students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, art, expression and mathematics skills.”

February 22, 2021

Wheeling Symphony names Bryan Braunlich executive director

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“Changes are coming to the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra,” writes Aaron Tyler in Friday’s (2/19) WTRF-TV (Wheeling, WV). “Bryan Braunlich was named the new Executive Director of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. His first responsibility in this new role will be to continue finding ways to adapt to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Braunlich previously held the marketing director and general manager positions. That’s where he produced the WSO On-The-Go program which brought the symphony to more neighborhoods in the area. ‘Building on that community is one of the things that I look forward to doing as executive director,’ said Brunlich. ‘Just really making the Wheeling Symphony a place where people can come and feel comforted, and feel alive with our incredible musicians and led by our music director John Devlin.’ … Braunlich said he wants the symphony to be a place of pride for everyone in the community.” Braunlich succeeds Bruce Wheeler, who served as executive director from 2010 to 2020; since March 2020, WSO board member Betsy Delk had been serving as interim executive director.

February 22, 2021

Plans for major London music venue tabled, due to pandemic

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“An ambitious £288m concert hall that was supposed to be ‘the Tate Modern of classical music’ has been scrapped by the City of London Corporation, which said the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic made the plan impossible to complete,” writes Lanre Bakare in Thursday’s (2/18) Guardian (U.K.). “The Centre for Music was billed as being an acoustically perfect 2,000-seat concert hall for the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and would have had restaurants, commercial space and a smaller venue for jazz performances. The City of London confirmed on Thursday, however, that the project had been axed…. The loss of the venue will be a blow to those who feel London is still without a venue to rival those in cities such as Paris and Hamburg, which have spent heavily on controversial and over-budget concert halls. It will also leave classical musicians and technical staff without crucial work, as many struggle with post-Brexit visa rules when applying for work in the EU. The City of London also announced it would invest in the Barbican Centre and ‘upgrade the 40-year-old complex.’ It said the search for a world-class architect-led team to lead the project would be launched later this year.”

February 22, 2021

ASCAP’s $5,000 Nissim Prize goes to Nina Shekhar

Industry Buzz

Composer Nina Shekhar has received this year’s ASCAP Foundation Rudolf Nissim Prize for her eleven-minute work Lumina. The prize, which comes with a $5,000 award, is presented annually to an ASCAP concert composer for a work requiring a conductor that has not been performed professionally. A jury of three conductors selects the winning score; Teddy Abrams, JoAnn Falletta, and Michael Morgan served on this year’s jury. Shekhar, who is pursuing a doctorate in music composition at Princeton University, is a composer teaching artist fellow for Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and is on the faculty at Idyllwild Arts Academy and Brightwork newmusic’s Project Beacon initiative. Among those who have commissioned her music are Eighth Blackbird, International Contemporary Ensemble, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Youth Symphony, JACK Quartet, ETHEL, violinist Jennifer Koh, and Music from Copland House. She is currently working on commissions for the Albany Symphony, Alarm Will Sound, The Crossing, 45th Parallel Universe, saxophonist Timothy McAllister, and cellist Matt Haimovitz. The ASCAP jury also awarded a special distinction to Ross S. Griffey of Houston, Texas, for Essay, a nine-minute work for full orchestra.

 

February 22, 2021

Share your thoughts about League’s programs and member benefits in fieldwide survey

Help Yourself

In these changing times, it’s more essential than ever that the League of American Orchestras continues to meet the needs of the orchestra field. Everyone in the orchestra field—orchestras, businesses, individuals, and other institutions—is encouraged to take a short survey, rate League programs and member benefits, and share their thoughts about possible future directions for League work. The survey closes on Thursday, February 25, so now is the time to participate in the survey and help the League help today’s orchestra field. The survey takes no longer than ten to fifteen minutes to complete. Everyone who completes the survey by February 25 will be eligible to enter a drawing to win one of three $100 Amazon Gift Cards. Take the survey here.

February 22, 2021