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Issues in the Arts

Reich In Many Words: Images Of The Artist, Still Awaiting The Man

BOOK REVIEW – The pioneers of minimalism are getting on in years, and memoirs have been flowing. John Adams wrote one. Philip Glass wrote one. Now Steve Reich has added another, but as is his habit for music, he did it his own way.

Confessions (And Tips) From An Unrepentant Collector Of Toscanini

PERSPECTIVE – There was a time in my life when I thought I would be happy to have all the commercial Toscanini records. Then I dreamed of hearing all the conductor's broadcasts (and rehearsals!) at the New York Public Library'.

A Pianist Transcribes Her Polytonal Life As Mesmerizing Memoir

BOOK REVIEW – Montreal-born pianist Janina Fialkowska's memoir A Note in Time is a skillfully drawn portrait that will appeal not only to music lovers and industry insiders but also to anyone who responds to a story well told.

Like Hymns To Ukraine: Music’s New Meaning In Time Of A Personal War

PERSPECTIVE – Every concert I’ve heard since the Ukraine invasion has been about the war, no matter what was being played. We all know Ukrainians and will come to know many more as refugees arrive. Rarely has war been so personal.

Composer, Conductor: This Couple Rhymes In Shakespeare Couplets

PERSPECTIVE – Hungarian conductor Henrik Nánási will lead the premiere in Fort Worth of a Shakespeare sonnet set by his wife, Veronika Ágnes Fáncsik. It's for two characters: a bass singer as lover and, as the beloved, a clarinet.

Fresh From Recording Studio, A Pianist At 97 Recalls Prodigious Life

PERSPECTIVE – "A life in music is a life of imagination," says pianist Ruth Slenczynska. "Nothing in the world was created without imagination." Her new CD My Life in Music just released, she reflects on an extraordinary career.

Von Stade Recalls Life With Cherubino, Role She Owned For Decades

PERSPECTIVE – "I loved Cherubino and loved every time I was able to perform in Marriage of Figaro," said Frederica von Stade, 76. "It was always fun." She made her Met debut in what would become her signature role 50 years ago this month.

Shaking The Dustbins Of Neglected Operas, And Gathering Treasure

PERSPECTIVE – Are obscure operas and operettas unjustly forgotten gems or cultural roadkill found on the wayside? Both kinds of discoveries surface constantly, and making those distinctions can mean sharpening one's listening skills.

Rising Maestro Leaves That ‘Woman’ Thing In Stardust Of Her Ascent

PERSPECTIVE – Elim Chan, a 36-year-old Hong Kong native and in-demand conductor across Europe and the U.S., epitomizes the future for women on the podium: "I don’t want my gender to take away from what I can bring to the music."

Richard Freed, Noted Music Journalist And Annotator, Dies At 93

PERSPECTIVE – Richard Freed, who achieved distinction writing and broadcasting on music for six decades, including stints with The New York Times and Washington Post, died at his home in Rockville, Md., on New Year's Day.

A Ring Of Authenticity: ‘Das Rheingold’ Played On Period Instruments

PERSPECTIVE – Kent Nagano led the early-music ensemble Concerto Köln in a version based on lengthy research by a special committee that sought the sound Wagner might have hoped for when composing the piece in the 1850s.

Remembering Steve: The Sky-Filling Giant That Was Sondheim

PERSPECTIVE – As a writer in the early 1980s, I had heard that Steve had no time for the likes of us. My first encounter with him, at a party, seemed to bear that out. Evidently, he knew my byline, and I lost him at hello. Then we became friends.

Black Music Project Bolsters Case For Shift In Concert Repertoire

PERSPECTIVE – The African Diaspora Music Project, created by opera singer and scholar Louise Toppin, has amassed a database of works by Black composers with the goal of moving concert programmers away from old formulas.

Bernard Haitink: Master Of Mahler And Bruckner Left Indelible Memories

PERSPECTIVE – Bernard Haitink, who died Oct. 21 at age 92, was responsible for some of the most memorable performances I have attended. Objective and insightful, he was that rare maestro with an affinity for both Mahler and Bruckner.

Under Diversity Banner, Sphinx Virtuosi Concert To Celebrate Progress

PERSPECTIVE – The Sphinx Organization, which has helped to develop a plethora of skilled young classical musicians of color, will present a gala concert Oct. 15 at Carnegie Hall. Artistic director Afa Dworkin reflects on Sphinx's impact.

Opera Is Back – Hooray! As For The Rude Voice That Booed: Back Atcha

PERSPECTIVE – In Macduff’s aria mourning his murdered children, at Lyric Opera of Chicago's new Macbeth, tenor Joshua Guerrero offered his heart and soul. Then, amid the cheering, one loud boo. Really? After all we've been through?

Bernstein’s Mass, Once Written Off, Now Enjoys Embrace Of A New Era

PERSPECTIVE – The stylistic cross-pollination that runs through Bernstein's Mass, derided as "cheap and vulgar" five decades ago, has become familiar language. The work will see several performances during this anniversary year.

From Music’s Dim Past, Rediscovered Songbook Casts Telling New Light

PERSPECTIVE – The Leuven Chansonnier, a tiny 600-page volume of 50 secular songs that turned up in a 2014 auction in Belgium, has sharpened our sense of what early music means, how it should be performed, and what it says to us.

Ormandy Philly Legend: Outsized Image Forged From Undersized Gifts

PERSPECTIVE – Eugene Ormandy's record 44-year tenure with the Philadelphia Orchestra (1936-1980) stretched over sleepy seasons marred by his faulty conducting technique. Some musicians say he wouldn't have a major career today.

1921 Tulsa Massacre Memorialized In Music By 4 Black Composers

NEW YORK – The concert titled Pity These Ashes: Tulsa 1921-2021 featured works by Adolphus Hailstork, Jessie Montgomery, Trevor Weston, and Alice Coltrane, whose Prema, transcribed from piano to harp, drew on the jazz tradition.
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