Hans Werner Henze (1926-2012)

“The connecting thread between this vast array of works in so many disparate genres was politics, a commitment to which never left him, although varying in degree over time. Henze adhered throughout his life to leftwing ideologies, a reaction to his youth in Nazi Germany, which left an indelible mark on his creative psyche. He was not afraid of courting controversy, even as recently as last month: ‘So long as...
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Reports from Tanglewood: modern, contemporary, timeless

Reports from Tanglewood: modern, contemporary, timeless
Reviews of some mid-century modernism, the finale of the Festival of Contemporary Music, and John Williams 80th birthday celebration. Monday, July 30, 2012 Ozawa Hall, Tanglewood  There was a crisp bite and rhythmic charge to everything on Monday’s program at Ozawa Hall.  Though listed as a performance of the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra, there was never a true orchestra onstage.  The first half consisted of pieces...
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Three nights in Saratoga with YNS and the Philly

Three nights in Saratoga with YNS and the Philly
Saratoga Performing Arts Center Wednesday, August 8, 2012 The promise is being fulfilled.  Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin has got the goods and a new era is truly at hand for the Philadelphia Orchestra. It was more than two years ago that the French Canadian conductor, now 37, was named music director of the orchestra, a post that he’ll finally and officially assume in October.  What a coup for SPAC to present him on...
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Yannick Nézet-Séguin arrives

Yannick Nézet-Séguin arrives
With the arrival of its new music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in the fall, the dawn of a new era is at hand for the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Audiences at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this week will get more than a sampling of what’s in store. Starting on Wednesday (8/8/12), the 37-year old French Canadian conductor leads three consecutive nights of performances at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.  The enticing...
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DDT @ 75

DDT @ 75
David Del Tredici turns 75 on Friday and celebrations are in full swing. Here’s what’s upcoming in New York: March 15: DDT and Courtenay Budd will perform two song cycles: Lament for the Death of a Bullfighter and Miz Inez Sez (Symphony Space) March 23: Four Hand Piano recital DDT and Marc Peloquin. DDT will premiere the big new solo Ray’s Birthday Suit. (The Barge under the Brooklyn Bridge) March 25-26: American...
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Harrison documentary at Castro Theatre (3/6), prelude to MTT’s Mavericks Festival (3/8-30)

Harrison documentary at Castro Theatre (3/6), prelude to MTT’s Mavericks Festival (3/8-30)
“Lou Harrison:  A World of Music,” Eva Soltes’ documentary, will have its west coast premiere at the Castro Theatre on Tuesday March 6.  Before the screening starts, Terry Riley will improvise on the theater’s Wurlitzer organ. Then, on Thursday March 8 begins the latest and greatest installment yet of Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony’s American Mavericks program.  Concerts...
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Higdon Watch: Violin Concerto without Hillary Hahn (concert review and opera update)

“Great Music, Right Here” is the apt motto of the Glens Falls Symphony.  Since the orchestra and its music director Charles Peltz regularly venture into contemporary music, “Right Now” might be an appropriate tag. Sunday afternoon’s program featured something far better than a risky premiere.  Instead, it was Jennifer Higdon’s Violin Concerto, which was written in 2009 and received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for...
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Marin Alsop opens the Saratoga season of the Philadelphia Orchestra (concert review)

Marin Alsop opens the Saratoga season of the Philadelphia Orchestra (concert review)
It was good to actually hear the Philadelphia Orchestra, rather than hear about the Philadelphia Orchestra. When it filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, the venerable institution became a sad symbol for the fragile state of the economy and the arts in general. Only the near demise of the New York City Opera — once an annual visitor to Saratoga — has been bigger news. Meanwhile the orchestra keeps playing and...
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Soprano Hila Plitmann doesn’t tire of the high notes

Soprano Hila Plitmann doesn’t tire of the high notes
Singers never have it easy.  The volatile human body is their instrument and the change of seasons, allergies and drafty concert halls are not their friends. But some special pity — and praise — must go to the sopranos who slave over the demanding works of living composers. Over the last 10 years, soprano Hila Plitmann has become the go-to diva for composers with their grand visions.  She’ll be performing a...
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Two nights at Spring for Music

Two nights at Spring for Music
Albany Symphony Orchestra David Alan Miller, conductor Nathan De’Shon Myers, baritone Carnegie Hall, May 10, 2011 How appropriate that a festival called Spring for Music resulted in a new blossoming sound of an orchestra. It was the Carnegie Hall debut of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, a reprise of an all-American program titled “Spirituals Re-Imagined.”  A great accomplishment long in the planning, the concert should...
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