Issues in the Arts

Forget Wagner, Quartet Dials Up New Ring Cycles

By Kyle MacMillan

CHICAGO – Among life’s minor annoyances are cheesy ringtones, but the Spektral Quartet has just the antidote: Mobile Miniatures. It has recorded more than 60 ringtones, alerts and wake-ups by 46 composers.

CVNA Rounds Up Critics’ Coverage Of Sarasota Verdi Fest

By Members of the MCANA

SARASOTA, Fla. – Ten members of the Music Critics Association of North America headed south in March 2014 to cover Sarasota Opera’s latest installment of its ongoing Verdi cycle. We are pleased to provide links to all of these articles here, in one convenient place.

Did Dessay Say Adieu Past Manon? Mais Non, Perhaps

By George Loomis

Reports to the contrary, French soprano Natalie Dessay isn’t yet ready to abandon the opera stage. But she’s branching out by planning a monodrama and giving recitals in North America with pianist Phillippe Cassard.

Campus Concerts Rebuff Notion Of Classical Decline

Raymond Sokolov

Reports of the death of classical music ring out with the regularity of noon on a grandfather clock. Don’t worry: the safest haven for serious music in America is on campus, and this is no ivory-towered phenomenon.

Suddenly Schubert Is The Song On Everyone’s Lips

By Rodney Punt

An unusually large bounty of Schubert is to be discovered in this bicentennial year of “Gretchen am Spinnrade,” composed by the seventeen-year-old Schubert in 1814. Three wide-ranging projects focus on his influence.

Did Fleming Play Fast, Loose With Anthem? You Bet

By Arthur Kaptainis

A lot of money was riding on the outcome Sunday evening. I refer, of course, to the duration of “The Star-Spangled Banner” as sung by Renée Fleming. One popular over/under betting line was two minutes, 25 seconds.

Osmo Vänskä, In Job Limbo, Wields Traveling Baton

By Robert P. Commanday

SAN FRANCISCO – He was the beating heart of the Minnesota Orchestra. Vänskä’s recent guest conducting appearance with the San Francisco Symphony made it clear why the Minnesota musicians love and need him. A CVNA commentary.

Bassoonist LeClair Brings Back-Bench Favorite To Fore

By Gail Wein

NEW YORK – All eyes and ears will be on Judith LeClair, longtime principal bassoon of the New York Philharmonic, when she plays Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto with the orchestra Jan. 16-22. This time, she has a brand new cadenza.

Byrne Book Takes Stand for Music Without Borders

By Marvin J. Ward

BOOK REVIEW – How Music Works, by the legendary singer-songwriter and co-founder of Talking Heads, is analytical, frank, revelatory, and rich in food for thought regardless of one’s musical preference. An updated paperback was recently released.

Fun Home Shines Where Two Boys Obscures Emotion

By Heidi Waleson

NEW YORK — Jeanine Tesori’s Fun Home, currently playing at The Public Theater, isn’t actually an opera. Yet it delves deep and has extraordinary emotional resonance — in ways that Nico Muhly’s Two Boys at the Met doesn’t.

Analysis: Deconstructing Orchestra Debacle In Minnesota

By Robert Commanday

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Orchestra lockout of the past 13 months, resulting in the cancellation of the 2012-13 season and early part of the current season, shows no signs of progress.

Minnesota Cancels Carnegie Concerts, Vänskä Quits


UPDATE: Music Director Osmo Vänskä resigned today (10/1) after the Minnesota Orchestra withdrew from its Carnegie Hall concerts. In the absence of an agreement, the lockout continues.

In 1970s, Critics Saw Job as Guide For ‘Virgin’ Public

By Louise Remmey

In this blast from the past, the leading music critics of 1972 gather to talk shop. It is a different time. There are no cellphones. Newspapers flourish. Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and James Levine are emerging artists. But the critics face a still-familiar task.

Off-Beat Chicago Venues Energize Classical Music

By Wynne Delacoma

Inside the Empty Bottle, a band was tearing up the joint, playing to a SRO crowd. An encore? Absolutely. What should it be? “Bartók Four!” somebody yelled. Welcome to the newest edition of Chicago’s classical music scene.

Seals and Squeals at Syracuse University: ‘Polar Suite’ by Douglas Quin

By Barbara Jepson

Kronos Quartet tries out the K-Bow, made of graphite and Kevlar, the same synthetic material used in bullet-proof vests. Quartet member Jeffrey Ziegler: “Basically, this bow can do almost anything except make an espresso.”

Wagner, Jazz and Pop: An Alliance of Limited Success

By Richard S. Ginell

One hundred and thirty-five years since its 1876 premiere, Richard Wagner’s Ring remains the biggest operatic show on earth, and the composer’s influence… has, ever since, been immense and amply documented. Yet what influence has this irresistible force had upon the popular and jazz fields? Not a hell of a lot, if the truth be told. Upon jazz, for the most part, Wagner’s actual language has had little impact.