NEW YORK – Keyboardist and conductor Kristian Bezuidenhout presided over a concert by the student period-instrument group Juilliard415 that cross-referenced works by Mozart and two of his contemporaries, Joseph Kraus and J.C. Bach.
LOS ANGELES – An early victim of the pandemic was the LA Philharmonic premiere in April 2020 of Thomas Adès’ then-new Piano Concerto led by the composer with soloist Kirill Gerstein. Finally, this classically built virtuoso romp had its local day.
DALLAS – In the title role of Strauss' grisly opera, soprano Marjorie Owens swung her ax with joy and displayed a voice equal to the musical and dramatic demands, though the audience couldn't always hear her in this Dallas Opera production.
NEW YORK – I wanted to like Arvo Pärt's setting of the Passion according to St. John, but an hour and a half of its stately, non-contrapuntal, gorgeous sonorities, with the Experiential Orchestra and voices led by James Blachly, sapped my energy.
NEW YORK – “I don’t want to be part of any movement I didn’t start!” Thus spake Scott Johnson, whose work for soprano and string quartet received its premiere at a tribute event for the composer, who died in 2023 at age 70.
SEATTLE – Steven Mackey's Memoir, which received its Pacific Northwest premiere, extends a thread of tributes to his parents. The work for narrator and chamber group also continues his pursuit of links between music and remembrance.
CHICAGO – The all-star ensemble of pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Leonidas Kavakos, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma have been performing and recording the symphonies arranged for three. The brash First retained that spirit in a lithe, agile new form.
PORTLAND – The Oregon Symphony program exploring fortitude featured Hans Abrahamsen's piano work for the left hand as well as music by Louise Farrenc and Schumann. Unscheduled on the podium was German conductor Markus Stenz.
NEW YORK – The Egyptian Temple of Dendur, housed at the Metropolitan Museum, inspired Lebanese musician Hamed Sinno's Westerly Breath, a psycho-political memoir on the personal odyssey of this charismatic LGBTQ+ activist.
SAN FRANCISCO – Michael Tilson Thomas, the longtime music director of the San Francisco Symphony, made his debut here at 29 with the Ninth Symphony. Fifty years later, now battling brain cancer, he led notably measured Mahler.
PRINCETON, N.J. – The trumpeter materialized in different parts of the virtual room before simply disappearing. Flutists sprang up and vanished. This immersive, illusory concert by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra reset the idea of closeness.
BOSTON – Strangulation, sex, betrayal, suicide. The incendiary opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk brings it all. But in a Boston Symphony account led by Andris Nelsons, the only visible action came when soprano Kristine Opolais shed her nylons.
NEW YORK – From the start, Prototype sought out creative artists doing nontraditional work. Three new works bespoke a quest to tell stories that resonate deeply within contemporary society, even if they go beyond the viewer's comfort level.
LOS ANGELES – How do you turn a concert hall into an opera house? The LA Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel had a "fully staged" answer at Disney Hall. It helped that venue architect Frank Gehry was also the Rheingold scenic designer.
NEW YORK – It’s rare that the stage setting for a recital looks like the tropical greenhouse at the botanical gardens. Rarer still, the plants are the primary instruments. That was the scene for the premiere of a song cycle by Angélica Negrón.
PHILADELPHIA – The Tchaikovskian blood that flows through the Philadelphia Orchestra helped 26-year-old Polish conductor Anna Sułkowska-Migoń, winner of the 2022 La Maestra competition, achieve a knockout Fifth Symphony.
NEW YORK – In El Niño: Nativity Reconsidered, a condensed version of the 2000 opera-oratorio El Niño, soprano Julia Bullock teamed with countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and bass-baritone Davóne Tines for a visceral performance.
NEW YORK – In this 18th-century Game of Thrones, the men scheme for power, betray each other, and try to use the women as pawns. The English Concert's take on the opera, with Lucy Crowe as Rodelinda, merited crowns all around.
NEW YORK – At the Museo del Barrio, near the hospital on Fifth Avenue where the soprano was born to Greek parents in 1923, musicologist Will Crutchfield led a symposium tied to his Teatro Nuovo project "Callas: Past and Future."
SEATTLE – For its novel retelling of the Christmas story, Early Music Seattle united the Boston Camerata and the Medieval Women’s Choir in massive St. James Cathedral. The beauty of the presentation transcended its tricky logistics.