New Opera at the Met Fizzles, Houston Finalizes a Premiere

Questions about the Metropolitan Opera’s involvement with new opera have emerged this week after the company called off a long-planned new work by the composer Osvaldo Golijov, due to “conflicting schedules.” Meanwhile, a company 1,600 miles south of New York City has been rather quietly preparing a major new opera for its premiere this Friday. Continue reading “New Opera at the Met Fizzles, Houston Finalizes a Premiere”

Louis Andriessen: A Political Composer for the New York Philharmonic?

The New York Philharmonic this week announced that Dutch composer Louis Andriessen is the recipient of its Marie-Josée Kravis Prize, an award consisting of $200,000 and a commission for the orchestra. Something of a lifetime achievement award, the prize has previously gone to Frenchman Henri Dutilleux (2011) and Danish composer Per Nørgård (2014). Continue reading “Louis Andriessen: A Political Composer for the New York Philharmonic?”

Yoga in the Concert Hall: Not Such a Stretch?

Among American orchestras, the definitions of community outreach and engagement seem to be constantly in flux. One of the latest efforts to reach a new audience on its own terms comes from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. On November 16, the DSO will host OM @ The Max, in which a yoga instructor – who also happens to be the orchestra’s librarian – leads a group yoga session while a string trio performs. It takes place in the Cube, the orchestra’s black-box venue. Continue reading “Yoga in the Concert Hall: Not Such a Stretch?”

Halloween is Classical Music’s Most Entertaining Holiday

Halloween brings certain songs and compositions that never seem to grow old, in part because their annual moment is so fleeting and the music so evocative, colorful and hair-raising. Continue reading “Halloween is Classical Music’s Most Entertaining Holiday”

The Leeds Competition and Jury Reforms

Competitions have a long history as being classical music’s talent mills. While almost all aim to launch artists’ careers, in practice, their track record is famously inconsistent. One frequent complaint holds that interesting and idiosyncratic performers often get bypassed in favor of “consensus” candidates that win over juries. But musicians continue to compete and the biggest contests still generate a certain amount of media attention (albeit nowhere near the level of Van Cliburn’s 1958 win at the Tchaikovsky Competition, pictured above). Continue reading “The Leeds Competition and Jury Reforms”

Seven Classical Music Trends to Watch For This Season

The 2016-17 season of classical music is underway with plenty of Gershwin, a debated new production of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde at the Met, and labor crises in Pennsylvania and Fort Worth. Here are seven other things to watch and listen for in the months ahead. Continue reading “Seven Classical Music Trends to Watch For This Season”

Three Orchestra Strikes: Considering Artistic Health

As the fall 2016 concert season begins, the musicians of three big-city orchestras are on strike: the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and Fort Worth Symphony. Continue reading “Three Orchestra Strikes: Considering Artistic Health”

Lars von Trier Film Gets an Operatic Makeover

Opera composers and their librettists have always mined familiar stories for inspiration and, in the past two decades, movies have provided especially rich source material. This year alone brings the upcoming Houston Grand Opera premiere of It’s a Wonderful Life by composer Jake Heggie (whose credits also include Dead Man Walking), and the Salzburg Festival debut of Thomas Adès’ The Exterminating Angel, based on Luis Buñuel’s surrealist film.  Continue reading “Lars von Trier Film Gets an Operatic Makeover”

Gershwin in Concert: When Orchestras Prefer Jazz Pianists

During the 1990s and early 2000s, several improvised, jazz-based versions of George Gershwin’s 1924 Rhapsody in Blue arrived in concert halls. Jazz pianists, including Marcus Roberts, Herbie Hancock and Michel Camilo, unveiled deconstructed, semi-improvisatory versions of the score. There were few protests from purists – the piece is a rhapsody, after all, and it can withstand or even be enhanced by novel approaches. Continue reading “Gershwin in Concert: When Orchestras Prefer Jazz Pianists”

Daniel Barenboim Drops Some Knowledge in Video Series

For his new video series, the conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim steps off the treadmill of promoting recordings and concerts that many classical musicians find themselves on, and pontificates on some larger topics: politics, culture, society and the inner workings of music. The latest installment centers on the nature of global conflicts. Continue reading “Daniel Barenboim Drops Some Knowledge in Video Series”