The Transcontinental Railroad Kickstarted The Modern U.S. Concert Tour

Paderewski on tour in 1896. Photo: Paderewski Museum, Morges; George Steckel)

Until 150 years ago the West Coast was isolated behind the Rocky Mountains. Then, on May 10, 1869, a game-changer called the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, fully connecting San Francisco, Sacramento and countless small mining towns to the rest of the Union. It made way for the largest movement of orchestras, opera companies and soloists in our history.

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5 New Developments on the Summer Music Festival Scene For 2019

Filene Center at Wolftrap (Photo: Robert Llewellyn)

Because summer music festivals rely heavily on the tourist dollar, most don’t assume a lot of risk when it comes to programming. And for touring musicians, rehearsal time can be limited in the summer, leaving little room to learn new works. But as I discovered while putting together a summer festival guide for the April BBC Music Magazine, there is plenty that’s new and compelling if you look for it. Here are five trends to watch for as the summer of 2019 approaches.

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Jimmy López Highlights Dreamers in New Oratorio

Jimmy López at work. Photo: Franciel Braga

Peruvian composer Jimmy López has explored his Latin-American heritage in a number of orchestral, chamber and vocal works. Dreamers, his new oratorio created with the Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz, focuses specifically on the subject of immigration. It receives its premiere at Cal Performances in Berkeley, CA, on March 17 (the performance will be live streamed). I spoke with him for the April issue of BBC Music Magazine. Below are excerpts from the interview.

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Method Acting, Steve Jobs, and Opera

John Moore in The Revolution of Steve Jobs (Seattle Opera)

Can method acting enhance an opera performance? Should an opera singer look like the character they are portraying, down to their body weight and hairstyle? These questions came up recently in a conversation with John Moore, the baritone who is starring as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs in the Seattle Opera production of The Revolution of Steve Jobs (February 23 – March 9).

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Enjoy Messiah? Conductor Jane Glover Recommends 5 More Handel Works

George Frideric Handel by Balthasar Denner

Even as “Home Alone” screenings with live accompaniment are a growing staple of orchestra programming in December, Handel’s Messiah remains a holiday season favorite. Like the 1990 holiday hi-jinx film, with its John Williams score, Messiah was a popular success from its 1742 premiere in Dublin. Unlike “Home Alone,” Messiah, of course, didn’t have a sequel. But Handel did compose some 25 other oratorios. For the Christmas issue of BBC Music Magazine, I asked conductor Jane Glover, author of Handel in London: The Making of a Genius, about next steps beyond Messiah.

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Philip Glass on Piano Music, Memories and Motorcycles

Philip Glass (photo: Flickr/letterchen)

On a blustery afternoon in early December, Philip Glass climbed the massive staircase that leads up to the Juilliard School lobby, and barely winded, sat down for a long conversation about this music, life and career. Our talk, which formed the basis of a cover story for the February issue of BBC Music Magazine, veered from topic to topic, and one was struck by his candor on matters like the business side of his career. Continue reading “Philip Glass on Piano Music, Memories and Motorcycles”