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Issues in the Arts

‘X’ At Last Marks Spot For Anthony Davis In World Of Modern Opera

EVANSTON, Ill. – When the New York City Opera premiered Anthony Davis’ first opera, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, in 1986, his career seemed poised for launch. It didn't happen. But a Met staging in 2023 has brought vindication.

Quartet Mulled Summit Before Beginning Climb To Beethoven CD Cycle

PERSPECTIVE –To record that matchless body of string quartets, said the first violinist of the Dover Quartet, stamps a group "trying to carry the torch" of great ensembles. The Dover completed its well-received cycle on the Çedille label in 2022.

Beloved Maestro, Back On Home Ground, Talks Vernacular Americana

PERSPECTIVE – Leonard Slatkin, music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra from 1979-96 and relocated to the city since 2018, will lead concerts of works displaying non-classical influences by American composers and others.

Classical Critic Found Own Way Into Craft Via Creative Portal Of Jazz

BOOK REVIEW – Mark Stryker, former classical and jazz music critic for The Detroit Free Press and author of Jazz from Detroit, says he fell in love with jazz at age 9 and progressively made his way back from new music to Mozart and Beethoven.

Japanese Orchestras, Polished And Thriving, Rival Best In The West

PERSPECTIVE – Not many music lovers outside Japan are aware of the treasure trove of great orchestras this country possesses. Virtually every concert I have heard in Japan over the past decade has been a highly gratifying experience,

Three For The Show: Spate Of Sondheim, Old And, Well…‘Here We Are’

PERSPECTIVE – Two years after his death at 91, New York offers a Sondheim trifecta that includes boffo revivals of Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along as well as the posthumous Here We Are. But ticket prices are piggy-bank breaking.

In Lenny’s Garden: ‘Maestro’ Tunnels Deep Into A Magical Persona

MOVIE REVIEW – Far better than expected, the Leonard Bernstein biopic starring, directed, and co-written by Bradley Cooper is an Oscar-baiting artwork unto itself. It's not for nothing that Carey Mulligan, as Bernstein's wife, gets top billing.

Balanchine’s NYC Ballet Leaps To 75th Year, Still Looking Bold, Brilliant

PERSPECTIVE – The works of George Balanchine, founding artistic director of City Ballet, pass from generation to generation through a lineage of dancers going back to the master himself. A fall season of Balanchine deserves a 21-gun salute.

As The Emerson Exits, Several Fine Quartets Are Poised To Ascend

PERSPECTIVE – With concerts Oct. 21 and 22 at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, the Emerson String Quartet will end its celebrated 47-year career. The Dover Quartet (right) is among younger groups displaying the potential to hit such heights.

Heggie’s Opera Bounty And Diversity Mirrored In Swell Of Productions

PERSPECTIVE – As the Met Opera unveils an impressive take on Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, other companies are cueing works by this lyrical and resourceful composer who keeps pushing to bring new perspectives to his art.

Tapping Into Music As Unconscious Chronicle Of Post-Holocaust Era

BOOK REVIEW – What do we want to remember, and how should we? What monument or artwork can appropriately perpetuate a memory? These enigmatic questions underlie Jeremy Eichler's perspective on music in the wake of World War II.

Thomas Schippers Bio Explores Art, Glamour Of A Meteoric Maestro

BOOK REVIEW – Nancy Spada's new book provides an overdue portrait of the prodigious American conductor, known as much for his movie-star looks as he was for his expertise in opera, who died of cancer in 1977 at age 47.

Portrait Of A Composer Still Living Tradition Of Elgar, Vaughan Williams

DIGITAL REVIEW – Composer-pianist Penelope Thwaites, 79, performs at the center of a CD offering a retrospective on her purposefully “retro" body of work. Her music is rightly archived here as a last vestige of a lush British sound.

His NY Years Receding, Gilbert Finds Himself In Several Happy Places

PERSPECTIVE – In the six years since his uneasy exit from the New York Philharmonic, Alan Gilbert has become chief conductor of Hamburg's NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, music director of the Royal Swedish Opera, and busy guest conductor.

Importance Of Women Composers, Conductors Focus Of Summer Fests

PERSPECTIVE – As conductor Marin Alsop features women composers at the Ravinia Festival, other high-profile summer seasons around the country are likewise paying attention to the historically notable contributions of women in classical music.

‘A Torrent Of Light,’ Tale Of Rising AI Peril, Wins Critics’ New Opera Prize

BREAKING NEWS – Evoking a world in which man-made robots threaten humanity, R.U.R. A Torrent of Light, by composer Nicole Lizée and librettist Nicolas Billon, takes the Music Critics Association of North America's 2023 Best New Opera Award.

A Violinist Reflects On The Ties Of Composers To Their Home Ground

PERSPECTIVE – Edward Dusinberre, first violinist of the Takács Quartet since 1993, has produced an excellent new book that examines works by Dvořák, Elgar, Bartók, and Britten and the connection they all felt to their native countries.

Taiwan Philharmonic’s U.S. Tour Underscored By Promise Of Passion

PERSPECTIVE – The tour April 14-23 marks the first time the orchestra has ventured east of the Mississippi River. Many of the musicians have strong connections to the United States, so excitement is high, says music director Jun Märkl.

Kirchner Letters Paint Composer As Fierce, Inspiring Intellectual

PERSPECTIVE – Leon Kirchner was a man of many talents. He was also an adroit writer who inspired others to produce intriguing letters and articles to and about him. Nearly 70 of these documents have been compiled in a fascinating new book.

Regional Orchestras 2: Blazing New Pathways In Washington, Oregon

PERSPECTIVE – While the Vancouver Symphony in Washington is poised to become the city's cultural flagship, the Eugene Symphony in Oregon reflects the vision of its music director in exploring "what a symphony can be in the 21st century."
Classical Voice North America