The Crown Uses Classical Music to Dramatize Monarchy

Still from "The Crown" (Netflix)

Dec. 2017 update: This post refers to the first season of ‘The Crown.’ A season two update will be coming soon.

In the Netflix original series “The Crown,” music plays a significant role in heightening the drama and majesty of the British throne. A glance at the show’s IMDB page reveals that this is no shoestring operation: The music staff numbers some 20 editors, producers, engineers and composers, with much of the soundtrack supplied by British film composer Rupert Gregson-Williams. The cinematic title theme, by Hollywood veteran Hans Zimmer, broadly alludes to the ceremonial music of Henry Purcell. Continue reading “The Crown Uses Classical Music to Dramatize Monarchy”

New Opera at the Met Fizzles, Houston Finalizes a Premiere

Still from 'It's a Wonderful Life' by Frank Capra

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?

Louis Andriessen (photo: Francesca Patella)

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?

Yoga at the Wanderlust Festival (Credit: Flickr/The Cosmopolitan)

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?”

The Leeds Competition and Jury Reforms

Van Cliburn at the Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, 1958.

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”

Lars von Trier Film Gets an Operatic Makeover

Breaking the Waves at Opera Philadelphia, based on the Lars von Trier film (photo: Dominic M. Mercier)

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”