Well-Proportioned Passion Highlights Carolina Bach Fest

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By Perry Tannenbaum

CHARLOTTE – The sound of silence during the climax of a powerful St. Matthew Passion provided what may have been the most dramatic moment of the second annual Charlotte Bach Festival. Tenor Steven Soph sang the Evangelist.

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Five Boys Wrongly Convicted, One Donald Just Wrong

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By Richard S. Ginell

SAN PEDRO, Calif. – Anthony Davis extends his string of politically charged historical operas with The Central Park Five, an incendiary piece given its world premiere by Long Beach Opera. (One big role is a certain real estate mogul.)

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Pair Of Premieres Put Bold Face On Summer Festival

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By Kyle MacMillan

CHICAGO – Along with two standard works from the 19th century, the Grant Park Festival Orchestra led by music director Carlos Kalmar offered in one night consecutive world and U.S. premieres by Kareem Roustom and Carl Vine.

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Song Cycles Honor Pride Month And Rise Of Feminism

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By Anne E. Johnson

NEW YORK – Honoring trailblazers, the New York Festival of Song premiered After Stonewall, a song cycle by six female composers, and revived Fierce Grace: Jeannette Rankin, with Heather Johnson as Congresswoman and icon.

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Last Seen In ’92, Monk Opera Atlas Is Back In Big Way

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES – Even for a space that has hosted more than its share of outsized spectacles lately, the 36-foot-diameter globe that greeted LA Phil concertgoers upon entering Walt Disney Concert Hall was one for the books.

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Hannigan Takes A Turn Steering Adventurous Ojai

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By Rick Schultz

OJAI, Cal. – As music director of the 73rd edition, Barbara Hannigan conducted and sometimes sang in works that underlined the Ojai Festival’s value as an outdoor laboratory for reevaluating 20th-century and contemporary music. 

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Extravaganza! Baroque Opera As A Vocal Spectacle

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By Keith Powers

BOSTON – In the dozen substantial roles of Agostino Steffani’s Orlando generoso, superb singers offered an endless stream of engaging recitatives and arias with the Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra led by Robert Mealy.

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Lang’s prisoner: Freedom Chained In Fidelio’s Prism

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By Nancy Malitz

NEW YORK – The first thing you notice is the fencing – the menacing kind, tall and barbed, that keeps captives in. The room is dark. This is David Lang’s prisoner of the state, spun from Beethoven. There will be other surprises.

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In A Creepy Twist, Queen Dido Goes Deep Underground

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By Anne E. Johnson

BROOKLYN – Do ghosts enjoy early Baroque opera? Hopefully they do, since any spirits lingering in the Catacombs under Green-Wood Cemetery are currently a captive audience for Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas.

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Around the U.S.

LA Phil Shebang Goes Wall To Wall, Noon To Midnight

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By Richard S. Ginell

LOS ANGELES – Its centennial season finale was a study in near-megalomania that only this orchestra could carry off – Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” plus a nonstop new-music blowout that lasted twelve extravagant hours.

Ensemble Creates Anniversary Work: It’s A Mixed Gift

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By Mike Greenberg

SAN ANTONIO – As a 25th birthday present to itself, the SOLI Chamber Ensemble hatched a new genre: The Clearing & the Forest, by composer-director Scott Ordway with designer Erica Eliot, is a “theater of music.”

Salome Is Given A Risky, Risqué Spin In Spoleto Staging

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By James L. Paulk

CHARLESTON – At Spoleto Festival USA, the directing team of Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser make a vivid, persuasive case for Richard Strauss’ biblical opera that is more crude, more violent, and more depraved than usual.

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Around Canada

Crusader, Curator: Attuned Composer Reaches Milestone

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By David Gordon Duke

VANCOUVER – In her long stint as Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s personable composer in residence, Canada’s Jocelyn Morlock, who is about to turn 50, has become an eloquent example of the new “new music.”

Wacky Yet Morbid Ghost Opera With Cast Of Puppets

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By Bill Rankin

BANFF, Alberta – Adapting an ancient Greek story, Veronika Krausas and André Alexis populated their opera with humans and puppets. Giddy laughter from the audience during Act I gave way to silence for the dark ending.

Pulling Out Stops To Spotlight Organ In Rollicking Rite

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By Arthur Kaptainis

MONTREAL – Observing the fifth anniversary of its Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique, the Maison symphonique showcased the 6,489-pipe colossus with a four-hand go at The Rite of Spring by Olivier Latry and Shin-Young Lee.

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International

Viola Concerto Has World Premiere In Beethoven Frame

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By Tim Diovanni

LONDON – Composer-conductor Thomas Adès led the world premiere of Irish composer Gerald Barry’s Viola Concerto with soloist Lawrence Power on a program by the Britten Sinfonia with two Beethoven symphonies.

Creative Fest Fare Piques Curiosity And Sensibilities

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By Xenia Hanusiak

BERGEN, Norway – At the 67th International Bergen Festival, director Anders Beyer has put together an intriguing mix of brand-name artists and experimentalists likely to leave some viewers wanting more and others overwhelmed.

China Competition Makes Debut With Philadelphians

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By Rebecca Schmid

BEIJING ‒ Canada’s Tony Siqi Yun, the 17-year-old winner of the first China International Music Competition, played Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Philadelphia Orchestra under music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

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Issues in the Arts

With Strike Ended, CSO Has Breathing Room Under Muti

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By Nancy Malitz

CHICAGO – In the aftermath of a bruising labor dispute, Chicago Symphony Orchestra music director Riccardo Muti sounded themes of tradition, continuity, and community. The first program featured Joyce DiDonato in Berlioz.

Mary Ann Feldman Left Her Mark As Musical Whirlwind

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By Michael Anthony

MINNEAPOLIS –  A gifted writer, Mary Ann turned out erudite and witty program notes for the Minnesota Orchestra for 33 years. She died Feb. 18 at age 85, perhaps the Twin Cities’ most prolific advocate for classical music.

Ensemble Project Sparks Surge Of Creative Energy

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By Nancy Malitz

CHICAGO – The recently debuted Grossman Ensemble, a contemporary sinfonietta set up with funding for 15 years, includes thirteen award-winning instrumentalists committed to work with a dozen composers each season.

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Disc and Stream

BSO Shostakovich Cycle Continues: Nelsons Adds 6 & 7

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – The Boston Symphony did not have much of a Shostakovich tradition historically on disc. But both the BSO and DG are catching up in a hurry as Andris Nelsons’ explores middle works in the canon.

Stenhammar CD: On A Path Apart From Schoenberg

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By Paul E. Robinson

DIGITAL REVIEW – Herbert Blomstedt, championing the early 20th-century output of Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar, draws attention to his music via recordings, concerts, and an upcoming Berlin Philharmonic webcast.

CD Memorializes Stucky In Works By 32 Composers

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By Richard S. Ginell

DIGITAL REVIEW – Pianist Gloria Cheng, who initiated the collection as a memorial project, performs pieces dedicated to the composer, ranging from the intensity of a work by Esa-Pekka Salonen to a little waltz by John Harbison.

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MCANA Hosted Blogs

Monterey Jazz Salutes The Year Of The Woman

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West

MONTEREY, Calif. – The 61st Monterey Jazz Festival Sep. 21-23 was billed as a salute to “The Year Of The Woman” – and they weren’t kidding. Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and alto saxophonist Tia Fuller were designated as the artists-in-residence, singer Dianne Reeves was the 2018 Showcase Artist. The schedule was loaded.

Unreleased Coltrane CDs Stir Up The Jazz World – Again

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By Richard S. Ginell: From Out of the West
Everyone in jazzland seems to be weighing in on the release this week of Both Directions …

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.”

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