Issues in the Arts

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."

Regional Orchestras 1: After Covid, A Renewed Commitment To Music

PERSPECTIVE – “In the midst of these seemingly endless obstacles that come our way, you have a group of musicians who play together with such a sense of community and empathy,” said Eric Garcia, music director of the Boise Philharmonic.

Tamino From The Past Recalls A Magical Trek Across Stages Of Opera

PERSPECTIVE – Gran Wilson is not in Oz anymore, or in his native Bessemer, Ala., for that matter. But after a colorful history of performances with far-flung opera companies, the 68-year-old tenor is still singing and pursuing new projects.

Missing ‘Part Of Life,’ Andsnes Returns To U.S. Concert Touring

PERSPECTIVE – An eight-year hiatus from a recital tour in the U.S. has been unprecedented for 52-year-old Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, who begins a nine-city North American swing Jan. 19 in La Jolla, Calif. He finishes Jan. 31 at Carnegie Hall.

In Chicago Symphony’s Celebration Of Women, Augury Of Sea Change

PERSPECTIVE – Julia Wolfe's fierce and exultant oratorio Her Story, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lorelei Ensemble led by Marin Alsop, capped CSO weeks that have defined the concert hall ascendancy of women.

The Everlasting Fight For Women’s Equality: An American Oratorio

PERSPECTIVE – Conductor Marin Alsop, who will lead a Chicago Symphony presentation of Julia Wolfe's Her Story, a multimedia work dealing with the generations-long struggle, reflects on the concert drama's import in politically frayed times. 

Pianist’s Autobiography Mirrors His Playing: Perceptive, Refreshing

PERSPECTIVE – Jeremy Denk’s book Every Good Boy Does Fine is a coming-of-age story: how a gifted child living in a dysfunctional family discovers music and a love of the piano and advances through his youth to a career in music.

In Generational Relay, Bright Young Maestro Takes Baton And Flies

PERSPECTIVE – Henry Kennedy, a Shropshire lad and graduate of London's Royal Academy of Music, exemplifies a promising new wave of conductors who are acquiring music's great traditions – and wisdom – from the old guard.

Resurgent Post-Covid, Opera In South America Gives Voice To Netrebko

PERSPECTIVE – The season's final operas at Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colón and Santiago’s Teatro Municipal offered a chance to assess how two iconic houses are emerging from the pandemic and to hear the widely banished Anna Netrebko.

Verdi’s ‘Don Carlo(s)’ Given Both Treatments In New York, Chicago

PERSPECTIVE – The Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago have revived one of Verdi's greatest operas. While New Yorkers got the work in its traditional Italian version (photo), Chicago heard the French libretto for the first time.

In 3 Recitals, Pianists Take Old-School Turn (With Nary An Encore) 

PERSPECTIVE – It was heartening to see three recitals in Southern California by pianists from three generations: Stewart Goodyear, 44, András Schiff, 68, and Stephen Kovacevich, 82. The fare was iconic; when they were done, they were done.

Gazing at Salome Twice, Through His Lens, Hers; One Is, Like, Really Goth

PERSPECTIVE – Two productions of Strauss' lurid opera, in Basel directed by Herbert Fritsch and in Paris directed by Lydia Steier, contrasted Alice-in-Wonderland airiness with a heavy dose of ghoulish dystopianism, bloody and grim.

As A Musical Olympian, In Sprint And Marathon, Salonen Shows Mettle

PERSPECTIVE – Esa-Pekka Salonen likens the difference between composing and conducting to "running a marathon and a 100-meter race." Concerts in San Francisco and Seattle offered a glimpse of the Finnish artist in both capacities.

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.
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