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Issues in the Arts

When Opera Orchestras Take To Concert Halls, Lyric Energy Abounds

PERSPECTIVE – Opera orchestras, whose players are possibly the hardest-working instrumentalists in show biz, don't often enjoy prestige among Beethoven and Brahms audiences, but wide listening experience brings surprising rewards.

With Virus In Retreat, Music Bug Is Back At Southeastern Festivals

PERSPECTIVE – After two years of canceled or severely curtailed performances, summer music festivals in the Southeast are roaring back at 100 percent capacity. Offerings include the opera Stinney: An American Execution in Greenville, S.C.

In Sea-Change Summer Of U.S. Music Festivals, Women Rule The Waves

PREVIEW – After decades when women were all but absent from concert podiums, the American orchestral world is racing to bring some gender equilibrium to its choices of conductors. Marin Alsop will preside as music director at Ravinia.

Maestro, Adored Mentor Putting Down Baton For Retirement’s Adventure

EVANSTON, Ill. – Bernstein, Kondrashin, and Oistrakh all factored in the remarkable life of conductor Victor Yampolsky, but his hundreds of former students at Northwestern University will tell you he made his biggest impact leading them.

Adroit Pianist Of Parts Arranges Life Between Stage, Transcriptions

PERSPECTIVE – Pianist Vyacheslav Gryaznov has built a formidable reputation for both his technical and creative abilities. Besides concertizing all over the world, he carries on the transcription legacy of Liszt and Rachmaninoff.

David Schiff’s Complex Musical Lines Lead To Friendly Guy Next Door

PORTLAND – The composer's rigorous work ranges all over the musical map, but Schiff, who has two world premieres pending, remains a guy with whom you can sit down and chat about everything except sports. His favorite sport: piano.

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.
Classical Voice North America