Youthful Orchestra Serves Fresh Fare To Thrilling Effect

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By John Fleming

MIAMI BEACH – The New World Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas’ developmental ensemble conducted by Jeffrey Milarsky, displayed virtuosity in a brilliant pairing of Steven Mackey’s Mnemosyne’s Pool and Magnus Lindberg’s Joy.

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Haydn’s Creation, Semi-staged In Modernist Telling

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By Mark Kanny

PITTSBURGH – In a musically rewarding production, the Pittsburgh Symphony led by Manfred Honeck used a story for the singers to act, along with ambitious video, to forge a provocative contemporary context for Haydn’s oratorio.

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Selfless Act Melts A Heart In New Christmas Opera

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By William Albright

HOUSTON – A young girl’s giving spirit overcomes her father’s grief in The House Without a Christmas Tree, by composer Ricky Ian Gordon and librettist Royce Vavrek. Houston Grand Opera is staging the world premiere.

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Vibrant Prophète Goes The Five-Act Distance (Almost)

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – A new production of Meyerbeer’s opera by French director Olivier Pye makes a strong case for performing the work more often, even if certain musical and theatrical aspects fall short of the composer’s demands.

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Spanning A Globe At Leisurely Pace With Hushed Tone

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Last spring’s Reykjavik Festival in Los Angeles was just one example of burgeoning links between the city’s new music scene and its geographically polar (pun intended) opposite, Iceland. Here comes another.

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As Hall’s Tuning Continues, Cincy Hears New Sounds

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By Janelle Gelfand

CINCINNATI – Back in its remodeled Music Hall, the Cincinnati Symphony offered the premiere of Abound by 27-year-old Emily Cooley, in a Louis Langrée program designed as an artistic reponse to injustice and oppression.

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Mining For Gold: New Adams Opera Finds Darker Veins

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By Richard S. Ginell

SAN FRANCISCO – John Adams and Peter Sellars bring out the dark side of the California Gold Rush in Girls of the Golden West, which was premiered at San Francisco Opera. The work has powerful moments but needs a trim.

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Around the U.S.

Houston Orchestra Back Home At Last After Lengthy Soak

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By William Albright

HOUSTON – In a virtuosic return to Jones Hall after historic floods, music director Andrés Orozco-Estrada and the Houston Symphony offered three works inspired by Paganini’s 24th Caprice, and an Ives hootenanny.

Grosvenor Pairings Probe Connections That Prick The Ear

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By Daniel Hathaway

OBERLIN – At 25, British pianist Benjamin Grosvenor is a deep thinker whose touring recital program this season highlights historical-stylistic contrasts between composers such as Ravel and Berg, Brahms and Brett Dean.

New Era Begins In D.C. With Noseda Invigorating NSO

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By Simon Chin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Under new music director Gianandrea Noseda, the National Symphony sounded energized, taut, and well disciplined, like dutiful students eager to please a likable teacher at the start of a new school year.

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Around Canada

Solemn Memorial Concert Reflects Afghanistan War

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By Colin Eatock

TORONTO – In its ambitious Remembrance Day program, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra featured Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation, with a libretto by Canada’s first official “war poet,” Suzanne Steele.

Premiere, Sibelius Point Up Canada’s Twin Celebrations

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By Richard Todd

OTTAWA – Pianist Angela Hewitt was the soloist for the premiere of Nameless Seas by Matthew Whittall on a concert with Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 that honored both the National Arts Centre’s 50th year and the 150th for Canada.

Conductor’s Debut Makes Statement With Daring Music

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By Bill Rankin

EDMONTON – Alexander Prior launched his tenure as chief conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra with a late-night program of contemporary works new to the orchestra, Xenakis’ Jalons and Adams’ Harmonielehre.

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International

Rattle, Berlin Aim To Tempt Appetite For Musical Tapas

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – Unsuk Chin’s 11-minute Chorós Chordón leaves the listener wanting more. Premiered by the Berlin Phil and slated for an Asia tour, it is one of the brief musical “tapas” commissioned by chief conductor Simon Rattle.

Sondheim’s Follies Once More Shown In All Its Grandeur

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By Matthew Gurewitsch

LONDON – You might say that in Stephen Sondheim’s Follies, daytime drama aspires to the condition of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung. Aspires to, and, in Dominic Cooke’s National Theatre revival, pretty well achieves it.

Wozzeck, Chamber Scaled, Still Packs Its Violent Punch

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By Rebecca Schmid

VIENNA – In Robert Carsen’s new staging of Berg’s opera starring Florian Boesch and Lise Lindstrom at the Theater an der Wien, themes of war-induced alienation and decay took on added resonance given today’s global instability.

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Issues in the Arts

Toscanini Redux: From New Sources A Fresh Biography

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By Paul E. Robinson

BOOK REVIEW – A staggering number of recently discovered letters and recordings, studied by expert Toscanini biographer Harvey Sachs, allow important new facets of the conductor’s private and public life to emerge from the shadows.

Weill Fest Explores Music’s Advocate For Social Progress

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By Rebecca Schmid

BREVARD, N.C. – Perhaps only in the current age of stylistic pluralism may it be possible to reconcile Kurt Weill’s German and American phases. In a mix of scholarly talks and performances, the Brevard Festival takes a stab.

New Opera Award Goes To Mazzoli, Vavrek For Waves

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By John Fleming

Breaking the Waves, with music by Missy Mazzoli (right) and libretto by Royce Vavrek, is the first winner of the Music Critics Association of North America’s Best New Opera Award. The presentation will be made July 19 in Santa Fe.

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Disc and Stream

Jazz Age, Harlem Renaissance, Irish Airs Mingle On CD

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – Brothers Demarre and Anthony McGill with pianist partner Michael McHale have launched a new Cedille recording that offers, among its profiles, a narrated trio inspired by eye-witness poetry of Langston Hughes.

Great 78 Project Polishes Gems Of An Era Before LP

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By Michael Gray

DIGITAL – Some 57,000 78-rpm records are already available on Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive website. But with The Great 78 Project, Kahle targeted collectors willing to share, with a goal of digitizing 250,000 more discs.

Novák’s Godiva Rides Lusciously On New Buffalo CD

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – Everyone knows the story of Lady Godiva riding naked through the center of a town. But what composer would want to write music about that? Vítězslav Novák (1870-1949) did — and did an impressive job of it.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

Fanciful Turandot Takes The Stage At Lyric Opera Of Chicago

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By Dorothy Andries: Windy City Arts

A China-that-never-was opened on the stage of Lyric Opera of Chicago, complete with a giant eye-popping dragon, which hovered with considerable menace in Puccini’s “Turandot.”

Richard S. Ginell - From Out of the The West

Muti/Chicago Play it Safe with All-Brahms at Disney Hall

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West

The CSO remains a phenomenal instrument – they never miss – yet the most phenomenal features about these performances were the little things.

More on the 60th Monterey Jazz Festival

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
 
MONTEREY, Calif: The stresses of the bebop life took so many valuable lives prematurely, but Jimmy …

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