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.

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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.

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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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Oratorio Sounds The Alarm About Lake Erie’s Health

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By Mike Telin

CLEVELAND – Margaret Brouwer’s “environmental oratorio,” Voice of the Lake, was inspired by an algae bloom in Lake Erie that caused a water crisis in 2014. Its premiere makes an urgent case that the lake is in trouble.

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Spaced-Out Opera Lifts Off With Martian Help

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By Rick Schultz

LOS ANGELES — Yuval Sharon’s War of the Worlds features Annie Gosfield’s riveting score, soprano Hila Plitmann’s tour-de-force portrayal of a Martian, and actress Sigourney Weaver of the Alien films as narrator.

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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.

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This New Opera Wins Points For Esprit De Corpse

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By Keith Powers

BOSTON – Burke & Hare, by Julian Grant and Mark Campbell, draws on history to relate an entertaining tale of a grim, thankfully abandoned practice – the creation (by any means necessary) of cadavers for sale to a medical school.

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Psalms Encounter Covers Wide Field Within NY Chapel

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By Barbara Jepson

NEW YORK – The Choir of Trinity Wall Street offered the first segment of a compelling project – part of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival – that takes in settings of all 150 Psalms by as many composers, including new commissions.

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Around the U.S.

In Revival, Cyrano Shows Fresh Face At Opera Carolina

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By Perry Tannenbaum

CHARLOTTE – David DiChiera’s opera Cyrano was directed by the librettist, Bernard Uzan, in an emotional, satisfying revival of the opera seen first in 2007 at Michigan Opera Theatre, a company DiChiera founded and led.

Ring At Midpoint: Love Is Reflected In A Harsh Mirror

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By Nancy Malitz

CHICAGO – Despite musical glories on stage and in the pit, David Poutney’s concept for Die Walküre militates in some ways against the great strengths at the opera’s core: the romantic, sacrificial, and filial forms of love.

Adès’ Angel Blazes In Party From Hell: No One Can Leave

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By David Shengold

NEW YORK  – Thomas Adès won vociferous cheers from an industry-heavy Metropolitan Opera crowd as he led the North American première of his powerful if inscrutable The Exterminating Angel, about a party that goes strangely awry.

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Around Canada

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.

A String Quartet Competition Spawns A Festival

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By Bill Rankin

BANFF, Alberta – Three laureates of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, including 2016 winner the Rolston String Quartet, anchored the inaugural festival over the Labor Day weekend.

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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

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.

Minnesota Mahler Fifth: Transparent But All Too Cool

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – The Minnesota Orchestra and music director Osmo Vänskä bring fine playing to the Fifth Symphony, and the BIS production is an audiophile’s delight. What’s lacking is Mahler’s sense of drama.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

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
When Riccardo Muti and the mighty Chicago Symphony last came to Southern California in 2012 – the …

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 …

Monterey Jazz Festival celebrates its 60th edition

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
 
MONTEREY, Calif.: Defying the odds, even in a field as precarious as jazz, the Monterey Jazz …

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