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  • richardmitnick 11:24 AM on September 6, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Classical Music, , NYT   

    From The New York Times: “5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Classical Music” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    Sept. 6, 2018
    1
    Angie Wang

    ZACHARY WOOLFE, Times classical music editor

    I posed a deceptively simple question to our writers and editors, as well as some artists we admire: What are the five minutes or so — longer than a moment, shorter than a symphony — that you’d play for a friend to convince them to fall in love with classical music?

    A bit of agonizing later, here are our selections. It’s an astonishing array: the very old and the very new; some favorites, as well as things I’d never heard before and am delighted to now have.

    Enjoy the listening, and please leave your picks in the comments. We’ll publish an assortment of them.

    Esa-Pekka Salonen, composer and conductor

    Esa-Pekka Salonen MulPix.com

    This is one of the most perfect compositions I know. There are no superfluous notes. Every phrase has been crafted with the precision of a master jeweler. Ravel creates a paradox: A miniature musical form becomes a vast space. Every time this piece ends, I feel devastated, as I do not want to return to the physical world. I would be perfectly happy to stay in this garden forever.
    Ravel’s ‘Mother Goose’: ‘The Fairy Garden’
    Pierre Boulez conducting the Berlin Philharmonic (Deutsche Grammophon)

    Nico Muhly, composer

    Nico Muhly by Samantha West

    3
    Steve Reich by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

    Steve Reich’s “Duet,” for two violins and orchestra, is a wonderful distillation of his processes. There is a clear pulse, moving through a series of chords, each lasting just a few seconds. Each chord feels like it’s finding repose from the previous one, creating a sense of release without feeling repetitive. On top of this, two violins play politely interlocking canons and patterns. A minute before the end, he lands on a sort of jazzed-up F-major chord, which, after a brief move to a minor key, resolves itself back into F — a moment of deep structural satisfaction.
    Steve Reich’s ‘Duet’

    Michael Cooper, Times classical music reporter

    I’ve always had a thing for music that can make me cry, or at least indulge some serious melancholy. Is it any wonder that the soundtrack of some of my moodiest college days was the second movement of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, with its sad and wintry string variations?

    Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7: Allegretto
    Carlos Kleiber conducting the Vienna Philharmonic (Decca)

    Caroline Shaw, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer
    5
    Caroline Shaw (Photo: Michael Skinner)

    I love the lucid textures here, and how the lines twist around each other as they climb. As a string quartet junkie and evangelist, I’m always looking to lure new fans to this world.
    Jessie Montgomery’s ‘Break Away’: ‘Smoke’
    PUBLIQuartet

    Julia Bullock, soprano

    My mouth fell open and tears welled in my eyes. I didn’t know what she was singing about; I didn’t know what harmonies were being played; I didn’t know the composer, or the poet, or the content, but I knew that it was affecting my body and mind in ways that I had yet to experience. I was overwhelmed by the power matched with the ease. I was overwhelmed by the constant and extreme, yet seamless, shifts. I didn’t understand what I was listening to, and I didn’t need to, but it made me want to listen on, and on and on and on. This album was my introduction to classical music, and the brilliance of the human voice.

    Ravel’s ‘Shéhérazade’: ‘L’Indifférent’
    Régine Crespin, singer, with Ernest Ansermet and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande (Decca)

    Daniil Trifonov, pianist
    6
    Daniil Trifonov from WQXR

    It is a piece that to me exists in its own time universe. It helps the listener learn what classical music needs: to appreciate the sounds as they are, in a boundless sonic space. It was a meditative experience when I first listened to it at a sea resort with just steady waves of the ocean and peaceful fresh breeze accompanying it.
    Messiaen’s ‘Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus’: ‘Le Baiser de l’Enfant-Jésus’
    John Ogdon, piano (Decca)

    See the full article for more

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 7:58 PM on June 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Halle Orchestra, Mark Elder, NYT   

    From NYT: “Britain’s Musical Soul, All a Flutter” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    A Critic’s First Orchestra Defines Britain’s Musical Soul

    1
    Leading inspired performances of Wagner and British classics, Mark Elder, the music director of the Hallé Orchestra since 1999, has presided over the ensemble’s revival from financial crisis.Credit Tom Jamieson for The New York Times

    June 15, 2018
    David Allen

    MANCHESTER, England — It was coming to the end of the first act of Siegfried. The hero was hammering out his sword. The Hallé Orchestra was ratcheting its way through the cranking theme Wagner fashioned for the forging of the blade. The sound was deep, detailed, an actor in its own right.

    On the podium, Mark Elder gave a satisfied smile.

    In a pair of semi-staged performances earlier this month at the Bridgewater Hall here, the Hallé, in radiant, commanding form, completed Wagner’s Ring, nine years after it began. A Ring is an achievement for any orchestra, but for the Hallé and its audience, it had a special meaning.

    Siegfried, which the orchestra will encore at the Edinburgh Festival on Aug. 8, marked the Hallé’s recovery: a slow, steady rebuilding in the two decades since it faced mortal financial peril. Long occupying a cherished place in its country’s musical psyche, with an unusually well-defined identity based in British music, it is the kind of orchestra that everyone roots for.

    It has become, once again, an ensemble with both a claim to international quality and a sense of national purpose — an orchestra vital to the north of England, which it considers its domain.

    2
    Mr. Elder rehearsing the orchestra, which has just completed its final installment of Wagner’s “Ring.” Credit Peter Warren

    I can testify to that local mission. In Nottingham, where I grew up, the Hallé was the bright light in a barren musical landscape. It was the first orchestra I heard live as a child; the first to make me cry; the first to put me to sleep; the first to give me that shiver up my spine that I have chased ever since. The Hallé convinced me of the value of a musical life.

    It convinced me of Wagner’s value, too, and this Siegfried confirmed it gives inspired performances of his work. When it eventually joins the live recordings of the other Ring operas on the Hallé’s own label, Siegfried will crown a set marked by unruffled patience, a rare commitment to details, precision of color, delicacy and grandeur in the same notes.

    The Götterdämmerung is electric; the Die Walküre, which I heard live in 2011, is bathed in tragedy, rather than fired by ardor; the Das Rheingold, released this month, is careful, darkly intense. The Siegfried will have the best playing and singing of the lot (except for a tentative, thin performance of the title role by Simon O’Neill).

    It is all exalted music drama. Barring Daniel Barenboim’s accounts from the Bayreuth Festival, there is no Ring from the last 40 years that I would rather hear.

    Why would a symphony orchestra, let alone one with a budget of only 10 million pounds ($13.5 million), take on a task that most opera houses fear? For some, a Ring is a vanity project. Here, though, Wagner has been integrated into a repertory consciously designed to develop the ensemble. Individual acts came first, then full operas, including a ravishing Parsifal at the BBC Proms in 2013.

    “Opera in its very nature is basically valuable to all musicians for at least two reasons,” Mr. Elder, the music director, said in an interview after a rehearsal. “How music must breathe, because singers have to breathe; and how music can express the psychology of character. In the normal repertoire, most symphony orchestras never get to either of those things.”

    “When you do Wagner’s major works, you’re landing yourself with yet another challenge, and that is what I call large-scale chamber music,” added Mr. Elder, an acclaimed music director of the English National Opera between 1979 and ’93 and a perpetual candidate to inherit the Royal Opera House. “If it sounds well, it’s because everybody is beginning to be aware of how their part relates to all the others.”

    Despite the attraction of a new concert hall, which helped lead Manchester’s revitalization after an Irish Republican Army bombing destroyed parts of the town center in 1996, the Hallé was mired in financial uncertainty when Mr. Elder was appointed in 1999.

    The board blamed the ambitions and conducting fees of his predecessor, Kent Nagano, who had increased the orchestra’s international reputation, leading it at the Salzburg Festival as the pit band for Messiaen’s immense Saint François d’Assise. But, having charged Mr. Nagano with that mission, the board tolerated mismanagement and could not curtail ruinous debts.

    3
    “The organization nearly didn’t exist,” Mr. Elder said of the Hallé‘s troubles when he was appointed two decades ago.CreditTom Jamieson for The New York Times

    “The organization nearly didn’t exist,” Mr. Elder said. Consultants declared it practically bankrupt. Nearly a fifth of the orchestra, and a third of the staff, was laid off. Morale plummeted.

    Deep crises, however, can produce stability if they force an orchestra to stop muddling along. John Summers, the orchestra’s chief executive, who joined the same time as Mr. Elder, used emergency state funding to stabilize the finances — though Britain’s austerity has since delivered savage cuts in public subsidy for the arts, so the orchestra still runs deficits.

    About 60 percent of the orchestra has been hired since 2000, and it has created its own youth orchestra — conducted by Mr. Elder’s American assistant, Jonathon Heyward — and choirs. Most of the Hallé’s players take part in its education program, which has unusually strong links with local school authorities, at a time when funding for music education is limited.

    Often called the country’s oldest orchestra, the Hallé and its choir were established in 1858 by a German pianist and conductor, Charles Hallé. By 1899, the orchestra had become prominent enough to lure Hans Richter — the conductor of Bayreuth’s first Ring — from the Vienna Court Opera. After nearly collapsing during World War II, the ensemble was resurrected by John Barbirolli, who used it as an escape from an unhappy spell at the New York Philharmonic in 1943. An inspirational figure, Barbirolli led the Hallé until his death in 1970.

    The Hallé became especially associated with British music, particularly through Barbirolli’s recordings of Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Delius. Mr. Elder has cemented its position as the guardian of British tradition, not through an unthinking celebration of the past, but a rethinking of its relevance.

    “I’m trying to define our musical soul,” he said. That commitment that has only strengthened in a fraught political moment. Mr. Elder, who was knighted in 2008, said he has tried to make the Hallé “the best orchestra in the world for playing the music of our country.”

    4
    The Hallé, established in 1858 and often referred to as Britain’s oldest orchestra, in 1893. Credit Hallé Orchestra

    So it is. Unlike so many recordings of English works from earlier generations of conductor-knights, with their whiff of patrician amateurism, Mr. Elder’s are distinguished by their preparation and refinement. They are enough to banish any clichéd thought of what the modernist composer Elisabeth Lutyens memorably called “cowpat music.”

    There is still a green thread of pastoralism, with Delius, Butterworth and Bax all represented, and Mr. Elder seems most comfortable in that idiom. An ongoing cycle of Vaughan Williams symphonies, for example, is more effective in the lush Fifth and the elegiac A Pastoral Symphony than in the violence of the Fourth and Sixth.

    Given that the Hallé gave the premiere of Elgar’s First Symphony in 1908, it is no surprise that his music dominates. His symphonies, recorded early in Mr. Elder’s tenure, would be improved on now, on the evidence of recent performances I have heard. But each of the three titanic oratorios — The Dream of Gerontius, The Apostles and especially The Kingdom — is the stuff of dreams.

    Mr. Elder’s adoration is not blind. “I believe very strongly that I have to search out really carefully which of the pieces I really want to do, so that I can say why,” he said. “You can’t just do all British music. You have to give it personality. I talk to the orchestra a lot about what it is that makes Elgar and Vaughan Williams and Bax separate sound worlds, so they know what we’re trying to achieve.”

    “It’s to do with the balance of the orchestra,” Mr. Elder said. Even without underlining Elgar’s Wagnerian ties to the Austro-Germanic tradition, one still needs “a great warmth in the strings, and the brass as in Wagner, supporting, very rarely overwhelming.”

    More important is to “spend time in the shadows of the music,” he added, to find “the 50 shades of gray in between the black and the white. That’s the reason to do Elgar, because we all know the brio, the pomp and circumstance — call it what you like.”

    Vaughan Williams, who studied with Ravel, poses different challenges. “Gone is the warm richness of the German bass counterpoint,” Mr. Elder said. “You need something leaner, something that is balanced acutely for the colors, and the spacing of the music.”

    On the NMC label, the Hallé has also contributed new additions to the British tradition, including music by Harrison Birtwistle, John Casken, Tarik O’Regan, Helen Grime, Simon Holt and Ryan Wigglesworth, who has served as the orchestra’s principal guest conductor.

    “The creative energy in a country is part of defining what the country is,” said Mr. Elder, whose contract runs until 2020. (He will likely stay beyond that, until a successor is in place). “A country without a rich, supported, appreciated, followed cultural energy is a very sad country.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 5:25 PM on May 29, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Lisa Gerard, No real categories fit here, NYT,   

    From NYT: “An Unlikely Union Between an ’80s Rock Star [?, hardly apt] and a Folk Choir Blossoms in Bulgaria” 

    New York Times

    [THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO S.H. OF HOS IN SF, WHO FIRST BROUGHT ME TO LISA GERARD AND DEAD CAN DANCE. I WILL ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL.]

    From The New York Times

    May 28, 2018
    Jim Farber

    1
    Boryana Dimitrova Katsarova for The New York Times

    Thirty-one years ago, a recording by an all-female Bulgarian choir singing in a thousand-year-old style somehow wound up selling a startling 500,000 copies in the United States.

    The mysterious breakthrough of the group’s self-titled album, Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices), coupled with the release of Paul Simon’s Graceland, helped usher in a “world music” movement. A follow-up album from the women bagged a Grammy in 1989, and they toured to sold-out crowds around the world.

    “The whole appeal was in their a cappella singing,” said Robert Hurwitz, who paid only $8,000 to license the original Le Mystère album in America for Nonesuch, the label he then led. “The purity of their sound was thrilling.”

    Now, after more than two decades away from the studio, the choir is returning — but with a sound that isn’t quite so pure. Their comeback release, BooCheeMish, matches the choir’s folkloric harmonies to multitudes of instruments, not all of them traditional. It also includes collaborations with a singer and songwriter who comes from a wholly different style and culture: Australian-born Lisa Gerrard of Dead Can Dance.

    Lisa Gerrard Circa 1980 by Sanvean

    Oh, and there’s a hip-hop beat boxer in the mix. (SkilleR, a.k.a. Alexander Deyanov).

    Lisa Gerard Circa 2018 by Boryana Dimitrova Katsarova for The New York Times

    The man who worked on arranging and composing the new music, Petar Dundakov, knows he’s about to face considerable skepticism from old fans, but he remains undaunted. “We want to broaden the sound to find a new audience,” he said. “We don’t want to stay in a museum. The deep question is, can you move folklore forward.”

    Ms. Gerrard emphasized that she, and the choir’s other new collaborators, took pains not to corrupt the women’s essential sound. “We’re walking toward them, not the other way around,” she said. “If anybody is changed by this, it’s me.”

    The choir actually began changing how Western listeners heard harmonies far earlier than the ’80s. In 1966, a recording from the choir, on which they performed updated arrangements of traditional folk tunes from the conductor Filip Kutev, was released on Nonesuch’s “Explorer” series and sold more than any other album on that imprint. Stars like Frank Zappa, David Crosby and Graham Nash repeatedly marveled over their vocal techniques in interviews, fueling interest in the release. Then, in 1975, the Swiss ethnomusicologist Marcel Cellier released a cassette of the choir on his own label, based on field recordings he had made since the 1950s. That’s the recording Mr. Hurwitz came across in a Parisian record store in the 1980s.

    “It took about 10 seconds to realize it was something I really adored,” he said.

    While he licensed the album for America, the edgy British label 4AD snapped it up for that country, where it promptly sold over 100,000 copies. Ms. Gerrard, who recorded for 4AD at the time, first heard the women with that release. “They were like lights, full of hope against any adversity,” she said. “They created a cathedral in the mouth.”

    While she couldn’t reproduce their complex sound (“I nearly broke my voice trying,” she said), the music influenced pivotal songs she wrote for Dead Can Dance like The Host of Seraphim. Despite all the exposure the women enjoyed at their peak, the collapse of the Communist government in Bulgaria at the end of the ’80s put them in a precarious position. Since 1952, the choir had been funded by the government, which gave them steady exposure on state-run TV and radio stations. “The government supported professional folk artists in order to build a community identity for a socialistic society,” Mr. Dundakov said.

    4
    After more than two decades away from the studio, the choir is returning with an updated sound that even includes a hip-hop beat boxer.CreditBoryana Dimitrova Katsarova for The New York Times

    Forced to compete in the free market, many of the women had to take jobs teaching singing to scrape by. While the choir continued to tour over the last 20 years, there wasn’t money for a recording until funding was found by the album’s executive producer, Boyana Bounkova. To help flesh out the music, she hired Mr. Dundakov, who has written jazz and electronic music, as well as modern classical compositions. He contacted a host of Western singers about collaborating with the choir, which includes two women from the 1980s recordings. But only Ms. Gerrard proved suitable.

    In her work with Dead Can Dance, as well as on solo releases and soundtracks for films like Gladiator, she had sung in an otherworldly style, often employing a self-created language. Even so, Ms. Gerrard says, she had “a huge learning curve.”

    “I didn’t try to copy them, because I can’t,” she said. “With Western Bel Canto singing, it’s from the diaphragm, the belly and the head. With Bulgarian singing, it’s from the chest. It’s not a voice that’s trained. It’s a natural voice.”

    While other stars have used the sound of the choir in the past — from a collaboration with Kate Bush in the ’80s on three songs (Deeper Understanding Never Be Mine, and Rocket’s Tail) to a more recent sample in a song by Jason Derulo — Ms. Gerrard feels the women had previously been used “as wallpaper.” For his part, Mr. Dundakov worked hard to write, or arrange, songs for the choir that sounded strikingly different from those created by Mr. Kutev on earlier recordings. He retained many traditional instruments, like the kaval and gadulka, and also made the decision not to have any modern drums or electric instruments. He admits “there were a lot of doubts” about adding a beat boxer, but ultimately decided that the hip-hop technique is “part of the folklore of the 21st century” Also, “it all happens in the mouth,” like the choir’s singing.

    Given all the trial and error, it took three years to complete the album, which its creators named for a local flower that grows between rocks. They view the title as a metaphor for music they believe blooms between cultures. “There is something in the heart of human beings that desires to be understood, and not necessarily through words,” Ms. Gerrard said. “Language can trap you. We want to share this music with the world to show that we’re not so far away from each other.”

    [I myself must admit that this whole story takes me way back into my musical past. I have, I just counted, 23 albums with Lisa Gerard at their heart.]

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    stem

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 9:55 AM on April 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NYT,   

    From The New York Times: “Review: American Composers Orchestra Brings Jazz to Classical, Effortlessly” 

    New York Times

    The New York Times

    APRIL 8, 2018
    SETH COLTER WALLS

    1
    The pianist Ethan Iverson performing his composition Concerto to Scale with the American Composers Orchestra on Friday at Zankel Hall. Credit Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times.

    The American Composers Orchestra takes the concept of jazz-informed classical composition seriously. That may sound like an obvious strategy for an ensemble hoping to represent its native soil. Yet this healthy attitude is not terribly common.

    In commissioning new works over the years by the saxophonist Steve Coleman or the pianist Vijay Iyer, the A.C.O. has bucked the historical trend of treating orchestrated works by sometime improvisers as mere curiosities. The orchestra’s Friday night show at Zankel Hall added to this legacy. More than half of the program was devoted to world premieres by composers with backgrounds in jazz performance. Two were by established stars: the saxophonist Steve Lehman and the pianist Ethan Iverson.

    Mr. Lehman’s piece, Ten Threshold Studies, trafficked in some of the hallucinogenic mystery of the small groups he has led. In his score, the composer instructs an oboist to switch between different fingerings, on the same pitch, producing notes “nearly identical in tuning” while remaining “extremely timbrally distinct.”

    2
    The saxophonist Steve Lehman composed Ten Threshold Studies, which had its world premiere. Credit Hiroyuki Ito for The New York Times.

    As a player, Mr. Lehman has few peers when it comes making severe changes of attack feel fluid. In the hands of the orchestra, these effects sounded more labored during the early going on Friday. But as the piece morphed from leaden, hard-struck percussive passages to a sense of weightless drift, carried by resonant vibraphone chords, the conductor George Manahan and his orchestra gradually realized Mr. Lehman’s interest in mystic change.

    Concerto to Scale, a three-movement work by Mr. Iverson, was a world away in texture: It was studded with familiar scales and ragtime riffs that were designed to take advantage of Mr. Iverson’s vivid presence as soloist, alongside the orchestra. Yet, as with Mr. Lehman’s work, Scale also managed to connect with some of its composer’s prior efforts in jazz clubs.

    Its referentiality recalled a winking approach to pop-music covers that Mr. Iverson has helped perfect, in different ensembles. And his punchy piano part — often shadowed by a thumping bass drum — drew from the same playfully complex style as some of his pieces for the Bad Plus (a trio he worked in for nearly two decades, before exiting last year).

    He also took advantage of the vintage reference points to work as a vaudevillian. At one point, Mr. Iverson allowed a theatrical sweep of the piano’s highest register to carry him up from his bench, where he then regarded the audience and waited for a laugh. (He got one.) Thankfully the piece wasn’t all jokey: A middle movement meant to reflect a “19th-century nocturne atmosphere” had a genuinely personal approach that rivaled the more boisterous movements as entertainment.

    3
    The violinist Elena Urioste, left, performing Clarice Assad’s Dreamscapes with the orchestra and its conductor, George Manahan, right. Credit Hiroyuki ito for The New York Times.

    During the premiere of the newly revised September Coming, by the young saxophonist Hitomi Oba, the orchestra did not sound as successfully attuned to the composer’s sensibility. This new piece had some of the same dramatic spacings and crisply distinguished layers as another recent work, With Bare Feet, though here the impact was smudged by some tentative-sounding entrances. Still, the piece advertised enough invention to recommend a repeat hearing.

    More persuasive was the orchestra’s presentation of two works that, while not premieres, carried a sense of novelty. The 1990 essay Bahia, Bahia came from T. J. Anderson, a veteran educator who also produced an important orchestration of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha. The episodic nature of this particular narrative occasionally seemed thin on development, though the orchestra navigated the twists confidently.

    And its way of handling Clarice Assad’s 2009 Dreamscapes, alongside the violin soloist Elena Urioste, proved riveting. In a program note, the composer said she was inspired by research into REM states, but the work didn’t sound weighed down by any clinical investigation.

    Most satisfying of all was the easygoing way that the concert moved between these styles. Since no one piece had to stand alone as the “jazz-inspired” work, the anxiety that can often be felt around this sort of programming was lessened. Simple enough, seemingly. But somehow still too difficult for most orchestras to attempt.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    John Schaefer


    For new music by living composers

    newsounds.org from New York Public Radio


    https://www.wnyc.org/
    93.9FM
    https://www.wqxr.org/
    105.9FM
    http://www.thegreenespace.org/

    For great Jazz

    88.3FM http://wbgo.org/

    WPRB 103.3FM

    Dan Buskirk Spinning Jazz Mondays 11:00AM-1:00PM
    Will Constantine Jr, Blues Bop and Beyond Thursdays 11:00-2:00 featuring Latin Jazz
    Jerry Gordon Serenade to a Cookoo Frdays 11:00AM-2:00PM with Jerry’s Room at 1:00Pm
    Jeannie Becker Sunday Jazz 10:00AM-1:00Pm


    Please visit The Jazz Loft Project based on the work of Sam Stephenson
    Please visit The Jazz Loft Radio project from New York Public Radio

     
  • richardmitnick 7:48 AM on March 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bringing the Sistine Chapel to Life With the Vatican’s Blessing, Multimedia Extravaganza, NYT, With the Vatican’s Blessing   

    From NYT: “Bringing the Sistine Chapel to Life, With the Vatican’s Blessing” 

    New York Times

    The New York Times

    MARCH 12, 2018
    ELISABETTA POVOLEDO

    1
    The character of Michelangelo floats as he paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in “Universal Judgment: Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel.” Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times.

    3
    The Sistine Chapel Goes Full Cirque Du Soleil

    An impresario known for his ceremonies at Olympic Games is recreating one of
    the world’s great masterpieces. Will the spectacle appeal to tourists and Romans?

    ROME — The music swelled, heavenly clouds began to fade and impossibly bright rays of light began to cut through the theater.

    And then it stopped.

    The spectacle’s artistic director, Marco Balich, waited patiently. “What’s going on?” he asked his creative producer.

    “Power outage,” responded the producer, Stefania Opipari. Later, she explained that it was the first time that all of the lasers, projectors and special effects of the multimedia production, Universal Judgment: Michelangelo and the Secrets of the Sistine Chapel, had been turned on at the same time. “It was a minor problem,” she said. “We fixed it.”

    The debut of “Universal Judgment” was just over a week away, but if Mr. Balich, who is also the show’s producer, was nervous, you’d never have known it.

    2
    Marco Balich, the show’s artistic director, has had to counter many critics. “When they say ‘Oh, but we don’t want to make a Disney kind of thing,’ I say, ‘But Disney was a genius — what’s wrong with that?’” Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times.

    He has a lot at stake on the production, which is set to debut on March 15. He has booked the capital’s former symphony hall for at least a year. If it’s successful, it would become Rome’s first permanent theatrical production along the lines of Broadway in New York or the West End in London.

    The Vatican has approved the project, on the condition that it would respect the artistic, religious and spiritual values that the Sistine Chapel embodies. Mr. Balich has to live up to that promise.

    The Vatican Museums, which house the Sistine Chapel, provided high-definition digital reproductions of the frescoes in the hall at a reduced rate because they acknowledged the educational value of the project. Experts from the museum consulted on historical and other questions. “This I liked, because it showed that they were serious,” said Barbara Jatta, the director of the Vatican Museums. At the same time, Mr. Balich had to create something that will enchant Romans (who, surrounded by beauty, are reluctant to pay for it), tourists, cardinals and teenagers. He’s got a private investment of 9 million euros, or around $11 million, and years of planning riding on it.

    Mr. Balich also has to convince Italy’s traditionally skeptical art conservators that he’s not out to circumvent visits to the real chapel with a glitzy concoction that includes theater, ballet and many, many bells and whistles. “Italy has all these very conservative art critics, and they are against the idea of ‘spettacolarizzazione,’” he said, using an Italian expression for putting on a big show.

    “They hate that word; I love that word,” Mr. Balich said. “When they say ‘Oh but we don’t want to make a Disney kind of thing,’ I say, ‘But Disney was a genius — what’s wrong with that?’”

    3
    The characters of Michelangelo and Pope Julius II in “Universal Judgement.” Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times.

    One of Italy’s most respected cultural critics, Tomaso Montanari, described the over-the-top effects as “visual Viagra,” wondering outright whether they were “more of a mirror of the present than a means to better understand the past.”

    “It’s like all the buzz over virtual sex — but what’s wrong with the real thing?” said Mr. Montanari, who teaches art history at the University of Naples. “It’s based on the notion that Michelangelo no longer speaks to modern sensibilities.”

    The Vatican followed the process step by step. While it did not interfere with the creative aspects of the production, Vatican officials kept tabs to make sure that the show’s content and references were historically accurate and did not stray too far from the righteous path.

    “We have been very, very, very obedient and careful and precise because that was our insurance policy. To have them on board was to be sure that everything will be exact and appropriate,” Mr. Balich said of the Vatican’s support during a break in the rehearsal. “Obviously this comes with a price,” he said conceding that if he’d had his way, he would have “probably added more special effects.”

    The musical merger between the Vatican Museums, the keepers of one of the greatest artistic troves of humanity, and Mr. Balich, best known as the designer of over-the-top spectacles — among them the closing ceremony of the Sochi Olympics in 2014, both ceremonies for the Turin Games in 2006 and the 550th anniversary celebration of Kazakhstan — wasn’t an obvious match.

    4
    The multimedia extravaganza features lasers and video projections. Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times.

    Pope Francis is known for his casual, avuncular style, but the Vatican is not accustomed to sharing top billing with Sting, who wrote the main theme of the show, as they do on the playbill.

    But Mr. Balich believes that his past experience with the Olympics played in his favor. “The Vatican understood that our work is always celebrating values,” he said. “In the Olympics, you don’t go in with a cynical approach.”

    Mr. Balich said he wanted “to put the grammar of the big Olympics at the service of the Sistine Chapel, which is one of the milestones of humanity.” The Vatican, he added, understood “that we were well intentioned.”

    It took some time. Mr. Balich first began discussing his idea with the Vatican in 2015. He laughed when it was pointed out that it took Michelangelo four years to paint the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, between 1508 and 1512, about the same time as it took to complete the project.

    The Roman Catholic Church has a long history of embracing technological advancements, however. The Vatican was at the forefront of astronomical research for centuries.

    6
    Brother Guy Consolmagno, the director of the Vatican Observatory, looking through the “Carte du Ciel” telescope. Credit Nadia Shira Cohen for The New York Times

    Pope Pius XI championed Guglielmo Marconi to establish Vatican Radio in 1931. Several popes were intrigued by photography in its nascent years, and Leo XIII was the first pope to be filmed giving a blessing in 1896.

    Leo XIII “understood that through the camera, he was blessing the audience. A pope who was confined reached the world through the new medium,” said the Rev. Dario Edoardo Viganò, the prelate responsible for the Vatican’s communications division, which approved Mr. Balich’s project. With the show, the Vatican is embracing a language that appeals to young generations, Father Viganò said.

    The hourlong performance does not seek to evangelize, Mr. Balich said, adding, “The Vatican never suggested it should.” Instead, the production is more like a meditation on Michelangelo’s relationship with his creation, and on creation in general. “It’s about capturing the spirit between the artist and his masterpiece,” said Lulu Helbek, the co-director of the show.

    “We can’t do anything bigger than Michelangelo, it’s like committing a sin to suggest that,” added Fotis Nikolaou, the show’s choreographer, and another Olympics alumnus. “We’re dialoguing with this masterpiece in the new forms of art, video, dance, theater. It’s like saying thank you to a masterpiece like the Sistine Chapel.”

    As most sightseers to the real Sistine Chapel know, the visit isn’t always edifying. The hall, though large, is almost always packed, and even though silence is mandatory it can be noisy experience. Ensuring that visitors have a positive experience there “is constantly on my mind,” said Ms. Jatta, the Vatican director — and a problem that still has to be resolved.

    Last week, Ms. Jatta saw a rehearsal of the “Universal Judgment” and gave it a thumbs up. “It’s a delicate way to tell a beautiful story of faith, art and history,” she said. “And it’s a way of communicating the Sistine Chapel in a way that many generations can understand.”

    Asked whether she thought it could replace going to see the real thing, she blinked.

    “No, sorry,” she said, and smiled.

    See the full article here .

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