MONTREAL – Benedikt Kristjánsson undertook the Herculean labor of singing Bach's recitatives of the Evangelist and the exchanges of the Passion characters, including the central dialogue of Jesus and Pontius Pilate, plus the shouts of the crowd.
NEW YORK – Founded in 1988, the New York Festival of Song occupies a unique and valuable niche. The singers at this year's event exemplified the festival's exploration of song and the recruitment and training of gifted interpreters.
SEATTLE – So much about this Seattle Symphony concert was unusual. Hannah Lash's concerto for two harps (a rarity in itself) was one of two featured works by women; the orchestra seating was new; and the conductor was a sub.
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.
SAN FRANCISCO – His characteristic erect posture unaltered by the recent physical and emotional challenges of brain-tumor surgery, MTT, who turns 77 on Dec. 21, led the San Francisco Symphony in his own music and Schumann's.
VANCOUVER – The Uzbek pianist Behzod Abduraimov, standing in for the vax-vexed Russian Alexander Malofeev, treated a Vancouver Recital Society audience to an intriguing mixed-bag program capped by potent Mussorgsky.
SEATTLE – As he re-emerges from his self-imposed hiatus, the singer-songwriter-pianist (and guitarist) performed selections from the 31 songs he wrote, one each day, during October 2020, a group that varied widely in topic and attitude.
LOS ANGELES – Defiantly back in business after a long pandemic-induced hiatus, the LA Opera took a giant step toward normalcy by staging Wagner’s Tannhäuser, the company’s first production of anything by Wagner in eight and a half years.
PERSPECTIVE – Tines, who has burst onto the world's music stages, commands a range of more than three octaves, from low D to high E-flat. He says he is neither a bass nor a baritone: “It’s a broader conception of how to think about voice.”
PREVIEW – At last, some good news! William Grant Still's opera Highway 1, U.S.A. is among the offerings this summer as Midwest opera and orchestra festivals offer their novel enticements to draw people back into the concert habit.
BOOK REVIEW – Three recent books about the composer-pianist offer rich insights into his life as man and musician. All three offer much to ponder, and time and again had this reader reaching for a score or a recording to follow up.
PERSPECTIVE – Even with some 60 works and a Pulitzer Prize to his credit, Joseph Schwantner's far-ranging sound palette and distinctive voice remain something of a hidden treasure, unfamiliar to much of the concertgoing public.
NEW YORK - In its series of site-specific operas in unconventional locations throughout the city, On Site Opera now offers The Road We Came, walking tours with streamed music recalling the richness and the trials of Black history here.
PERSPECTIVE – Terrance McKnight has always lived his life "between the two worlds" of being Black and being part of the classical music culture. He wants to bring everyone’s culture to the table, "not putting one above the other."
DIGITAL REVIEW - Echoing his prodigious, politically inspired variations The People United Will Never Be Defeated!, for solo piano, Frederic Rzewski offers a still more ambitious work, Songs of insurrection. Pianist Thomas Kotcheff nails it.
TIANJIN – Chinese students have long enjoyed a presence at The Juilliard School in New York. Now Juilliard has brought to China an impressive single-building campus with an international faculty to focus on ensemble training.
DIGITAL FEATURE – Lara Downes' recording project, called Rising Sun Music and offered on streaming platforms, explores the neglected legacy of composers ranging from Hazel Scott and Nora Holt to Benny Golson and Eubie Blake.
CHICAGO – It was a novel spin on drive-in theater: cars filing into a downtown underground parking garage for a live-with-video production of Wagner's Götterdämmerung writ small. Christine Goerke's Brünnhilde rode a crimson Mustang.
CHICAGO – Given this city's diverse musical heritage, ranging from European classicism to the Great Migration, music director Riccardo Muti's choice of an African American woman comes as a notable next step for the Chicago Symphony.
PORTLAND, Ore. – Whether singing, writing music, or giving artistic advice, bass-baritone Damien Geter has been one busy fellow despite the pandemic. His opera American Apollo debuts May 1 at the Washington National Opera.