Handel’s Jephtha Comes To Life In Dramatic Staging

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By James L. Paulk

PARIS – With the chorus and orchestra of Les Arts Florissants under William Christie’s direction and tenor Ian Bostridge in the title role, Claus Guth offered an imaginative staging of the oratorio at the Paris Opera.

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Four Wild Nights In A Brooklyn Music Incubator

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By Anne E. Johnson

BROOKLYN – The 2018 Ferus Festival in National Sawdust was wild in various senses: unrefined, coming from nature, daring, and slightly magical. British-Bengali composer-performer Bishi opened the bash.

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In The Echo Drift, Singer And Moth Step Out Of Time

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By Leslie Kandell

NEW YORK – In its premiere run at the Prototype Festival, Mikael Karlsson’s high-tech opera mixes references to Barber, Poulenc and Kafka as it delves into the imagination of a convicted murderer in solitary confinement.

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Fellow Travelers: Credible Romance As Eclectic Opera

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By Susan Brodie

NEW YORK – The new opera, by Gregory Spears and Greg Pierce, at the Prototype Festival, combines sentimental and historical elements to create a compelling love story in a chilling setting with contemporary resonance.

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In Graceful Debut, Dudok Foursome Thaws Winter Fest

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By Kyle MacMillan

EVANSTON, Ill. – Unlike some modern quartets that put a premium on muscularity and punch, the fast-rising young Dutch ensemble called the Dudok Kwartet, in its North American debut, conveys more of an Old World sensibility.

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Violinist Hadelich, Seattle SO Plumb Ligeti’s Concerto

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By Jason Serinus

SEATTLE – A collaboration between soloist Augustin Hadelich and the Seattle Symphony under music director Ludovic Morlot transformed Ligeti’s Violin Concerto into a deeply moving, heartfelt journey.

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Sound, Sight Leap From The Concert Hall To The Web

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL – Video of live concerts can be costly to produce but a more compelling experience, and more effective marketing, than audio-only. Here are seven of the best orchestra websites that offer streaming video of concerts.

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New Tosca Launch At Met Survives Sweeping Exodus

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By Susan Brodie

NEW YORK – New Year’s Eve marked the Metropolitan Opera’s 951st go at Puccini’s “shabby little shocker.” There was nothing shabby about David McVicar’s grandiose production. The shock: that it came off as well as it did.

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Around the U.S.

Manze Infuses Messiah With Expressive Detail

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By Susan Brodie

NEW YORK – As offered by the New York Philharmonic and Westminster Symphonic Choir under Andrew Manze, Handel’s oratorio sounded middle-of-the-road but stylish. Ben Bliss was stellar in the tenor solos.

Springing Across Epochs And Styles On Harpsichord

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By William Albright

HOUSTON – Mahan Esfahani’s recital on the Da Camera series ranged from William Byrd to Steve Reich, with stops along the way for music by Cowell, Takemitsu, and Ralph Kirkpatrick, one of Esfahani’s early heroes.

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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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

Staging Captures L’Enfance du Christ As Living Nativity

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By Rebecca Schmid

BERLIN – The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester ushered in the holidays with a scenic arrangement of Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ that aimed to involve the choristers as witnesses and to exploit the full space of the Philharmonie.

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 Py makes a strong case for performing the work more often, even if certain musical and theatrical aspects fall short of the composer’s demands.

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.

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Issues in the Arts

Seattle’s Maestro Designate Intends To Stir Repertoire

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By Jason Victor Serinus

INTERVIEW – Thomas Dausgaard says his first love “was and is Beethoven,” but that he’s also keen to find new voices in American music for Seattle audiences. “It’s very important for me to keep the sensibilities fresh.”

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.

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Disc and Stream

Back On Record, Louisville Revives Modernist Legacy

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL – The Louisville Orchestra was down for the count not too long ago, bankrupt. Now music director Teddy Abrams is dusting off the orchestra’s historic calling card – with new recordings of American symphonic music.

Is There Nothing This Canadian Artist Can’t Do?

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – Soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan has emerged from all the challenges she set for herself not only unscathed, but triumphant. Case in point: Her new DVD mixing Berg, Berio, and . . . Gershwin?

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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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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