Fort Smith Symphony to spotlight composer Louis Ballard with performances, recording, and school programs

Media View

Musicians of the Fort Smith Symphony and Music Director John Jeter (center).

“ ‘Volume 1 of the Florence Price series on Naxos Records was recorded by the Fort Smith Symphony and is credited as one of the catalysts in the current national and international rediscovery of the music of Florence Price,’ [Fort Smith Symphony Music Director John] Jeter says,” writes Becca Martin-Brown in last Sunday’s (5/8) Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette. “ ‘Price was born and raised in Arkansas and is recognized as the first African-American female concert composer.’… The next composer to benefit from the attention of the Fort Smith Symphony … is Louis Ballard (1931-2007), and according to Jeter, he is credited ‘as being the first Native American concert composer…. Ballard’s Quapaw and Cherokee lineages tie into the Native American history of our region…. His works are infused with Native American influences…. The Fort Smith Symphony will present … his music [next season]…. This music will then be recorded by Naxos Records … Ballard created a wonderful curriculum for elementary music education that uses Native American folk songs, [and] the symphony will be working with regional school systems to … include this Native American component into the current music curriculum.’ ” The article also reports on the Fort Smith Symphony’s 2022-23 season.

May 17, 2022

South Dakota Symphony marks 100 years with recent works, and world premiere by John Luther Adams

Media View

“The South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, the musical pride of Sioux Falls, … celebrated its centennial this season, in ambitious style,” writes Alex Ross in Monday’s (5/16) New Yorker. “The roster of composers included not only Beethoven, Grieg, and Tchaikovsky but also Stephen Yarbrough, David M. Gordon, Jessie Montgomery, Anna Clyne, George Walker, Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, and Malek Jandali…. The season ended with a program that [included] a sprawling new score by John Luther Adams…. [When] Jennifer Teisinger, the orchestra’s executive director, asked former members of the ensemble to stand up … dozens [of audience members] rose to their feet. Nothing of the sort could have happened in New York, Los Angeles, London, or Berlin…. ‘An Atlas of Deep Time’ … lasts around forty-five minutes…. The formal structure is modelled on the basin-and-range topography of western North America…. As often with Adams, I had the sense of entering a physically palpable space… My thoughts went to Willa Cather, who grew up in Nebraska…. In a famous passage in ‘My Antonia,’ Cather contemplated the unending vistas of the plains and wrote of the joy of being ‘dissolved into something complete and great.’… ‘An Atlas of Deep Time’ afforded the same uncanny pleasure.”

May 17, 2022

Manhattan School of Music selects J.T. Kane to lead new Instrumental Studies and Orchestral Performance Division

Media View

“On July 1 J. T. Kane will be joining the Manhattan School of Music as dean of the newly created Instrumental Studies and Orchestral Performance Division,” writes Sarah Shay in Monday’s (5/16) Musical America (subscription required). “Kane is currently VP for musician advancement and dean of orchestra at the New World Symphony. At the NWS, he helped design and implement the Fellows’ curriculum in the areas of musicianship and community and audience engagement; organized a roster of 120 distinguished visiting faculty each season; and served as liaison between Fellows and NWS administration…. In his new position, he will oversee the creation of a cohesive pedagogical and performance framework for the MSM’s largest division, which includes more than 80 faculty and approximately 350 students…. An active violist and teacher, Kane has played with the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Louisiana Philharmonic, Palm Beach Opera, and Palm Beach Symphony. He also serves as a senior consortium member for the National Alliance for Audition Support (NAAS). He received his Bachelor of Music degree in Viola Performance from the … the Conservatory of Music at Lynn University and a Master of Music degree in Viola Performance from the University of Miami Frost School of Music.”

May 17, 2022

Third Coast Percussion’s eclectic approach: new works with a range of composers and performers

Media View

“The style of electronic music and dance known as footwork might appear a strange bedfellow to classical music, but … Third Coast Percussion embraces the fleet-footed sound on Perspectives, a new album that pushes the notion of a percussion ensemble into fresh territory,” writes Tom Huizenga in Friday’s (5/13) National Public Radio. “The [footwork] style undergoes a mesmerizing transformation in a seven-movement suite called Perspective … by Jerrilynn Patton…. Going by Jlin, the electronic artist… did not score the work on manuscript paper, but instead brought her myriad layers of audio stems to the Third Coast musicians and together they fashioned a version that could be performed on over 30 instruments. Another unconventional partnership on the album finds Third Coast Percussion composing music with … the duo Flutronix, comprised of flutists Nathalie Joachim and Allison Loggins-Hull. Their piece, Rubix, features punchy flutes dancing over a chilled-out vibraphone, and foggy episodes where marimba, whirly tube and bowed flexatone provide an evocative backdrop of light and shadow … For the Third Coast musicians, [Danny Elfman] composed a four-movement piece simply called Percussion Quartet … leaning heavily on the warm sounds of the marimba interlocking with tinkling tubular chimes and pitched metal pipes.”

May 17, 2022

Updating the listener experience at Boston classical radio station CRB

Media View

“To get a sense of how much the environment of radio broadcasting has changed in the past half century, one only need ask CRB station manager Anthony Rudel,” writes A.Z. Madonna in Sunday’s (5/15) Boston Globe. “When Rudel took his first radio job at age 19 … the on-air announcers were all men … each boasting the mellifluous baritone voices that modern listeners associate with vintage broadcasts…. CRB … in Boston [now] aims for a friendly, let’s-listen-together vibe…. In February 2014 … the median age of CRB listeners was 74; as of this past February, it was 54…. ‘The overall attitude at the station is that everyone belongs here, because classical music belongs to everyone,’ said Edyn-Mae Stevenson, the newest addition to CRB’s weekday lineup of DJs…. The youngest [on-air hosts are] in their 20s and the oldest in their 80s…. Many hosts are engaging with listeners in different ways, and most are active on Twitter… In the station’s monthly ‘Instant Replay’ blog posts, digital content manager Kendall Todd compiles a playlist of whatever the hosts have been listening to on their own time…. April’s entry features a Bach organ concerto arranged for brass alongside tracks by Nirvana and Japanese Breakfast.”

May 17, 2022

New Music USA’s “Amplifying Voices,” multi-orchestra commissions by Contreras, Iyer, León, Montgomery, Nabors, Shekhar, Sorey, Washington

Industry Buzz

New Music USA is presenting “Amplifying Voices” programs throughout 2022, featuring orchestral world premieres by Valerie Coleman, Juan Pablo Contreras, Vijay Iyer, Tania León, Jessie Montgomery, Brian Raphael Labors, Nina Shekhar, Tyshawn Sorey, and Shelley Washington. In April, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in Little Rock presented the first performances of Tania León’s Pasajes (“Passages”); co-commissioning orchestras include the Auburn Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Orlando Philharmonic, and National Symphony Orchestra. Earlier this month, the Las Vegas Philharmonic premiered Juan Pablo Contreras’s MeChicano; co-commissioners include the California Symphony, Fresno Philharmonic, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Tucson Symphony, and Richmond Symphony. On August 20, Tyshawn Sorey’s saxophone concerto will be premiered by the Lucerne Festival Contemporary Orchestra in Switzerland; co-commissioners include the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. More than 30 U.S. orchestras will premiere new works through “Amplifying Voices,” which fosters collaboration toward racial and gender equity in new orchestral music. New Music USA President and CEO Vanessa Reed said, “Our musical canon will only evolve if these pieces are played more than once. I’m so pleased that this program gives more audiences across the country a chance to discover the power of these composers’ work as we all strive towards a more open and equitable future for classical music.” Learn more at https://newmusicusa.org/program/amplifying-voices/.

May 17, 2022