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”

Cracking the Fourth Wall Between Audiences and Performers

A noted classical soloist recently told me in an interview that there was nothing she found more terrifying than speaking to an audience, with its breach in the fourth wall between the concert stage and audience. Certainly, not every artist possesses the gift to gab. But a number of concert productions and modern pieces have made this blurring of audience-performer boundaries intrinsic to the experience. Continue reading “Cracking the Fourth Wall Between Audiences and Performers”

Pops Means Maximum Variety for Many Orchestras

LENOX, MA – Dispelling any notion that the living is easy for orchestra musicians in August, the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Sunday, Aug. 21, presented two-and-a-half-hour, Shakespeare-themed concert at Tanglewood featuring four works: Berlioz’s Overture to Béatrice et Bénédict, Saint-Saens’s Egyptian Concerto (with pianist Dejan Lazić), George Tsontakis’ Sonnets and Prokofiev’s Suite from Romeo and Juliet. Continue reading “Pops Means Maximum Variety for Many Orchestras”

‘The Girl From Ipanema,’ Opera and Olympic Comebacks

Never underestimate the power of a global sporting event – aided by a supermodel – to drive interest in a song, artist or composer.

Google Trends shows that worldwide searches for “The Girl from Ipanema” spiked dramatically after Daniel Jobim performed the bossa nova classic during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games on Aug. 5, with Gisele Bundchen strutting across the arena in Rio de Janeiro (the graphs may take a moment to appear). Continue reading “‘The Girl From Ipanema,’ Opera and Olympic Comebacks”

5 Takeaways from Classical Music Virtual Reality Projects

The classical music field has had an on-and-off relationship with online gaming and personal technology. Back in 2007, users of the Nintendo Wii could play a new virtual reality-type game called the Virtual Maestro, which turned the Wii controller (which resembled a TV remote) into a baton to manipulate a digital orchestra’s tempo. Before that, there was the Concert Companion, a pre-smartphone era device that was intended to provide realtime program notes at concerts. Continue reading “5 Takeaways from Classical Music Virtual Reality Projects”

The Olympic Piece That Received 122 Performances

The opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics on August 5 featured an assortment of the country’s musical talent, including the preeminent singer-songwriters Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil and performers from the worlds of samba, funk, hip-hop and bossa nova. Perhaps a bit of Heitor Villa-Lobos will yet appear before the games conclude. Continue reading “The Olympic Piece That Received 122 Performances”