John Luther Adams’s In the Name of the Earth, which premieres on August 11 in New York’s Central Park, may rank among the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer’s most logistically ambitious works to date: It calls for 800 singers, divided into four groups and perched around the Harlem Meer, the lake at the park’s northern tip bordered by bluffs and rocky outcroppings.
The text, says Adams, draws on the names of North American rivers, lakes, mountains and deserts. The singers are a mix of amateurs and professionals, and their parts coalesce in the final bars, suggesting rivers flowing downhill and converging in the ocean.
Continue reading “John Luther Adams, With 800 Singers, Takes on Central Park”
On May 25, I attended the first of three final programs that Leonard Slatkin had programmed for his 10th and final season as music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. But Slatkin wasn’t there. The 73-year-old conductor was forced to withdraw from the concerts in order to undergo a heart-bypass operation (he’s reportedly recovering well). Continue reading “Leonard Slatkin on His Final Bow at the Detroit Symphony”
One of the more striking design aspects of the New World Center, the performance and educational facility in Miami Beach, FL, is the capacity for its resident New World Symphony to beam concerts to the surrounding community via its 7,000-square-foot projection wall. Continue reading “New World Symphony, Witnessed Indoors and Out”
The ongoing craze among orchestras to present films with live soundtracks has split into separate creative strands. One is focused on recent blockbusters where music is of a more secondary appeal: that’s arguably the case with the “Home Alone” franchise or the later “Harry Potter” films. On the flip side are films that place music at the forefront, including “On the Waterfront” (music by Leonard Bernstein), “The Red Violin” (John Corigliano), and most significantly, “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Continue reading “2001: A Space Odyssey Turns 50 and Its Soundtrack Endures”
As the centennial of Debussy’s death approaches (March 25, 1918), appraisals of his work and career are turning up, including a new biography by Stephen Walsh, newspaper coverage (see Stephen Hough’s New York Times piece), and recordings (Warner Classics has issued a 33-CD box set of his complete catalog). It’s also a chance for scholars and musicians to ponder Debussy’s innovations, with his painterly approach to harmony and use of non-Western classical sounds like the Javanese gamelan and American jazz. Continue reading “For Debussy Anniversary Year, A Fresh Look at His Violin Sonata”
As in the first season of the Netflix original series “The Crown,” Season Two uses classical music at key moments to heighten the drama, while also deftly mixing in 1950s pop songs and the original score by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Lorne Balfe. Continue reading “The Crown and Classical Music: Season Two Recap”
The recent news that Sears is closing 103 more of its namesake and Kmart stores this year is the latest symptom of the difficult times for brick-and-mortar retailers, especially those whose fortunes are tied to traditional shopping malls (or once operated as a catalog business). Continue reading “How Musical Instrument Stores Are Vying with Online Retail”
In 2017, classical music mirrored aspects of the turbulent world around it. Hurricanes, Brexit, the Trump administration, and allegations of harassment all left their mark on the field. Classical music also did what it often does best: providing a haven in these restless, plugged-in times. That being said, here are ten stories that rose to the surface in 2017. Continue reading “The Top 10 Classical Music Stories of 2017”
The demise of the Lincoln Center Festival, reported last week in the New York Times, was not entirely surprising given the recent departure of its founding director, Nigel Redden. But it was nonetheless disappointing to those who savored its wide-ranging mix of cross-cultural fare each July. Continue reading “Lincoln Center Festival, R.I.P.”
In a widely-circulated column in The Guardian, dated Oct. 14, writer Howard Jacobson argues that opera audiences have become too casual, and that men should wear suits and ties to performances in an effort to “commemorate the specialness of an occasion.” He recounts attending a performance of a Mozart opera in London recently and being the only man in his row wearing a formal suit, while others wandered in sporting gym shoes, jeans and polo shirts. Continue reading “Formal Attire at the Opera? Here’s What Some Opera Houses Say”