NEW YORK – Ian Niederhoffer wants classical music to survive and flourish. That's why he founded the string orchestra Parlando, now in its fourth season, an ensemble that uses historical narrative to ensure connection with its audience.
TORONTO – When Daniel Barenboim could not lead Staatskapelle Berlin on its North American tour, subs were summoned, two of them famous. But on the podium here was an obscure 34-year-old Lithuanian, Giedrė Šlekytė. She was brilliant.
VANCOUVER – In two provocative concerts, the Turning Point Ensemble, a musical collective, lived up to the mission of composer-conductor Owen Underhill to promote works by current composers while sustaining the legacy of the 20th century.
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.
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.
NEW YORK – Just before the Met Opera premiere of Florencia en el Amazonas, someone shouted, “¡Viva l’ópera en español!” – a first at the house in nearly a century. The audience responded with cheers. In the end, approval came with a roar.
MADRID – The Teatro Real lived up to its splendid reputation as an innovative, important company. After a stimulating week, one might even argue the renovated theater has surpassed Barcelona's Gran Teatre de Liceu as Spain's opera showplace.
CHARLESTON, S.C. – An imaginative revival of Barber's Vanessa was the 2023 festival highlight, but the offerings around town also included edgy and outré works along with standards like The Rite of Spring and the New World Symphony.
PORTLAND, Ore. – This city has become a busy hub for new music. Its vigorous creativity ranges from chamber ensembles dedicated to contemporary music to companies that explore the latest operas. The place is jumping.
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.
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.
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.