Monday, September 29, 2008
The world premiere of this work, the 24th opera by Philip Glass, will honor the 75th birthday of the distinguished composer, whose association with City Opera dates back to the 1980s, when the company presented the New York premiere of his Akhnaten and recorded his Satyagraha.
Mr. Mortier has also scheduled a Philip Glass work for his inaugural 2009-2010 season when City Opera will present the landmark opera Einstein on the Beach. This will be the first staged production of the work in New York since 1992, reuniting director and co-creator Robert Wilson with the Philip Glass Ensemble and the Lucinda Childs Dance Company. Einstein on the Beach will be City Opera's first production in the newly refurbished New York State Theater, to be re-named the David H. Koch Theater.
Peter Stephan Jungk's novel The Perfect American imagines the final months of Walt Disney's life as recounted by the fictional Austrian cartoonist Wilhelm Dantine, who worked for Disney in the 1940s and 50s. Through the prism of Dantine's European sensibility, and his feelings of admiration and resentment toward his boss, the novel presents a multilayered image of the mid-20th-century American dream.
"The story of the last days of Walt Disney, American Icon and creator of perhaps the most pervasive fantasy world on our planet, is surprisingly gripping and at times disturbing. But, on the face of it, how could it be anything else? The pulse of his life has to be the pulse of our own American culture. And, like other aspects of life here, it is unimaginable, alarming, and truly frightening. I am looking forward to beginning these collaborations with Gerard Mortier at the New York City Opera," stated Philip Glass.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
This January she'll release a new cd, Furore, with Christophe Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques on Virgin Classics, take a sneak peak:
And tune in for Thursday night at the Opera, with host Ron Moore at 8 pm for the romantic and passionate Werther by Jules Massenet on KPAC and KTXI.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Some days have few musical births and others are chock-a-block with them, like the 25th and 26th of September. On those fecund days we have Rameau, Shostakovich, Colin Davis, Glenn Gould, Alfred Cortot, Charles Munch and George Gershwin. Since so many of these musicians were also pianists, the Piano programming this Sunday came together quite easily. It's call the Birthday show and I hope you tune in this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.
host, Randy Anderson
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
This new venture will begin on September 26 when the BBC Philharmonic under Gianandrea Noseda broadcast Beethoven's Symphony No 9 and Formazioni by the Italian composer Luciano Berio on Performance on 3. The concert will then be available to watch online, in what the BBC promises to be "high-quality sound and pictures", the following day.
Radio 3 Controller Roger Wright described the plans, which include not only the performance itself, but also interviews with artists and composers, as "an exciting enhancement". Interactivity is promised, with viewers able to choose which movements or sections of the concert they want to watch.
The series will feature the BBC's in-house ensembles, and will continue in October with a programme of light music performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra, and in November with Orff's Carmina Burana from the Barbican. Programmes are also planned from, amongst others, the BBC NOW, the BBC Singers and from the Radio 3 London Jazz Festival.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The evening length work deals with war and civil rights, issues that are still valid today, not just 1964.
Collaborating with Stucky is librettist Gene Scheer, known for An American Tragedy premiered at the Metrolpolitan Opera and writing songs sung by Renee Fleming, Denyce Graves, Sylvia Mcnair, Stephanie Blythe, Jennifer Larmore and Nathan Gunn.
Thursday's performance features Laquita Mitchell, soprano; Kelley O'Connor, mezzo-soprano; Vale Rideout, tenor; Robert Orth, baritone; and the Dallas Symphony Chorus and Orchestra led by Jaap van Zweden.
More on August 4, 1964:
The same night, Thursday, September 18th, the New York Philharmonic gives the U.S. premiere of Stucky's Rhapsodies, co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and BBC Proms.
Here is more about Rhapsodies:
You can listen to an in-depth conversation about Stucky's compositional process and winning the Pulitzer here with host John Clare...and the second conversation they had here about composition, creativity, LA Philharmonic and a solo cello piece, Dialoghi you can listen to here.
Listen and watch Stucky's Dialoghi with cellist Elinor Frey here.
A podcast from WRR in Dallas with Stucky and Scheer.
Read more about August 4, 1964 from the New York Times:
Two Wars, Two Presidents, One Oratorio
By DANIEL J. WAKIN
A HAUNTED tenor voice will sing out in Dallas on Thursday. It will lament that a terrible war was based on a hollow threat, and that millions might have died because of a “mistake.”
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra wanted a grand piece of music to commemorate Lyndon B. Johnson, born 100 years ago, and it may have gotten more than it bargained for: a 70-minute oratorio with implicit reverberations about another war propelled by faulty intelligence, prosecuted by another Texan.
The work, “August 4, 1964,” composed by Steven Stucky to a libretto by Gene Scheer, is based on a single day in Johnson’s presidency, and it joins a genre of classical music rife with worthy intentions and inherent risks: compositions that address current or recent events.
On that date Johnson told the American people that North Vietnamese forces had attacked a United States ship in the Tonkin Gulf, prompting retaliation and precipitating the resolution used to justify the Vietnam War. The report turned out to have been false — a result of mangled and probably falsified intelligence relayed to the president — although an actual attack had occurred two days earlier.
Robert S. McNamara, Johnson’s secretary of defense and an architect of the Vietnam War, later acknowledged that the Aug. 4 attack had not occurred and said that if Johnson had known, he would not have ordered the retaliation.
“Had we known it was a tragic mistake,” sings the tenor portraying McNamara,
Had we known on August 4th, 1964, we were not attacked.
Had we known we would not have ordered the first bombing of North Vietnam.
Fifty-eight thousand U.S. dead.
Three point seven million Vietnamese dead.
But that is not the only historical resonance of the piece, whose premiere on Thursday looms as one of the major orchestral events of the season, and one with rare potential for controversy in this volatile political moment. On the same day as the Tonkin Gulf incident, Johnson was dealing with a more immediate tragedy: the discovery of the bodies of three civil rights workers who had been murdered in Mississippi, Andrew Goodman, James E. Chaney and Michael H. Schwerner. The killings helped galvanize support for Johnson’s civil rights agenda, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which forced Southern states to ease the path of blacks to vote, more than four decades before the nomination of a black man for president.
Using a collage of excerpts from Johnson’s official diary, transcripts of Oval Office telephone conversations, speeches and contemporary news reports, Mr. Scheer has woven the incidents together in a libretto presenting a nuanced view of a complicated man. It combines Johnson’s greatest and worst legacies and portrays him as noble and bitter, compassionate and bellicose.
The characters are Johnson (Robert Orth, baritone), Mr. McNamara (Vale Rideout), Mrs. Chaney (Laquita Mitchell, soprano) and Mrs. Goodman (Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano). The Dallas Symphony’s new music director, Jaap van Zweden, conducts.
In interviews past and present officials of the orchestra, Mr. Scheer and Mr. Stucky all said they had been aware from the outset that the work drew a parallel between two wars, Vietnam and Iraq, and two presidents, Johnson and George W. Bush. But they studiously played down the political issues.
“I think we should all, as citizens, reflect on the reality of what’s going on, and this may help,” Mr. Stucky said. “I certainly don’t want it to be seen as a statement about the present, because it is so much about the past too.”
The Dallas Symphony said that the Bush family had not been invited, and that Johnson’s two daughters had declined to attend. But others connected with the Johnson administration were expected in the audience, the orchestra said, along with officials from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, which cooperated with the project.
One historian given a copy of the libretto said he found the juxtaposition of the two issues “weird.” But then, “it must have been weird getting his mind around two such different crises happening simultaneously,” said the historian, Edwin E. Moïse of Clemson University, who wrote a book about the Tonkin Gulf incident.
“There’s a reason he looked like an old man when he got out of White House,” Mr. Moïse said. “The strain must have been terrible.”
“August 4, 1964” raises other questions. Classical music in recent times, especially in this country, seems less potent than other art forms as a means of challenging the status quo or making political commentary. But there have been powerful recent additions to the genre, including Steve Reich’s “Daniel Variations,” inspired by the 2002 murder of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan.
The Dallas work serves as a reminder of both the pitfalls and the value of such ventures. Too much relevance can lead to political schlock, like bad Prokofiev, or cornball (if sometimes endearing) hagiography, like Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait.” For the creators too much topicality may distract from the goal of making a piece of art that will endure.
Mr. Stucky said he had not thought of the work’s political implications as he was composing. “If you’re put in the position of writing polemical music or agitprop, you’re not likely do a good job,” he added. “I was concentrated on writing the best piece I could.”
Mr. Scheer agreed, saying it was “absolutely not” his intention to comment on politics; rather, he said, he wanted to depict Johnson’s “emotional reality.” “One of the worst things an artist can do is shove it down your throat,” he added.
Mr. Scheer pointed out that the McNamara lament, which occurs late in the piece, came about largely because he and Mr. Stucky felt that the tenor character did not have enough lyrical material. It also provided a sense of redemption for the character.
In the short term, topical works like “August 4, 1964” at least provoke conversation, and the attention that classical music institutions crave in a pop-ruled YouTube world.
“The Dallas Symphony hopes to make a musical and artistic statement with this,” said Mark Melton, the orchestra’s vice president for artistic operations, who was involved in choosing Mr. Stucky for the commission. “I really hope this piece will have a major life beyond Dallas.”
The man behind the idea of commemorating Johnson was Fred Bronstein, who was president of the Dallas Symphony until he moved on to the St. Louis Symphony six months ago. Mr. Bronstein said he had not seen the libretto and pointed out that the creators were given free rein about subject matter. The only stipulation was a piece for chorus, orchestra and four soloists to commemorate Johnson.
When asked about modern parallels, Mr. Bronstein answered indirectly. “History repeats itself,” he said. “How this war is judged, time will tell.”
For Mr. Stucky the task was daunting. He is a much sought-after composer, a Cornell University music professor who receives regular commissions from major orchestras. The New York Philharmonic is giving the American premiere of his “Rhapsodies,” which it commissioned, on the same night as the “August 4, 1964” performance. Mr. Stucky will be in Dallas.
But he said he had not written for chorus and orchestra since high school, which he attended in Abilene, Tex. His family moved to the state from Kansas when he was 10, and Mr. Stucky attended Baylor University in Waco. The Dallas Symphony liked the Texas connection.
After Mr. Stucky received the commission, he needed a librettist. Mr. Stucky’s publicist, Philip Wilder, had recently heard a work of Mr. Scheer’s sung by another client. He introduced the two men.
Mr. Scheer, also a songwriter, has collaborated with Tobias Picker on works including “An American Tragedy” at the Metropolitan Opera, and with Jake Heggie; their “Moby-Dick” is to be presented at the Dallas Opera next season.
Mr. Scheer immersed himself in the Johnsonian world, reading multiple biographies. Mr. Stucky, meanwhile, met with old Johnson associates and listened to anecdotes.
Mr. Scheer came up with the idea of basing the text on the confluence of events of Aug. 4, 1964. Coincidentally, he said, the Johnson library had featured the events of that day on a section of its Web site.
“Gene stumbled on this fact that we could encapsulate those two sides of America in the ’60s on that single date,” Mr. Stucky said. “That was a brilliant stroke.”
The two began meeting at a cafe near Mr. Scheer’s Upper West Side apartment in the spring of 2007. Mr. Scheer showed Mr. Stucky his first number, which begins with fictional words from Mrs. Chaney: “It was the saddest moment of my life./August 4, 1964—/The day they found my son James Chaney’s body.”
Mr. Stucky then produced an orchestral interlude, which became the seventh movement, “Elegy.” By the end of last summer Mr. Scheer had provided the first half of the libretto, and Mr. Stucky began setting it to music.
Mr. Stucky said he had made a mental checklist of what not to imitate: “Lincoln Portrait,” Britten’s “War Requiem,” John Adams’s “Nixon in China.” He described the musical grammar as somewhere between tonal and atonal, with an extroverted quality. Johnson’s lines are slower and more lyrical; the McNamara music tends to be faster, more nervous. When the chorus sings a text based on Oval Office diary entries (“7 a.m. Awake and up. 7:05 a.m. Breakfast. At 7:15 did exercises.”), the music is “strongly pulsed,” he said, with Minimalist tendencies.
Elegiac, almost devotional music accompanies lines from a Stephen Spender poem that was posted on the wall of Mrs. Goodman’s apartment. The chorus sings them quietly a cappella.
There is little hint of the music of the time — no rock ’n’ roll, no Bob Dylan — but Mr. Stucky said that attentive listeners might catch a ghost of the civil rights anthem “We Shall Overcome.”
Along with the Aug. 4 presidential material Mr. Scheer used Johnson’s powerful speech of a year later introducing the Voting Rights Act; words from a postcard by Mr. Goodman to his mother; and Mr. Schwerner’s application to the Congress of Racial Equality. His mother was not included because the commission allowed for only a quartet of soloists.
Mr. Stucky and Mr. Scheer both said they were not trying to write history.
“It’s about human emotions, hopes fears, generosity,” Mr. Stucky said. “I hope that people don’t arrive thinking that the Johnson onstage is a historical character. He’s a factor in a work of art. This is not a disadvantage but an advantage.
“Art moves us, provokes us, to think harder, more than history does. At least I hope.”
Program notes for August 4, 1964 from Laurie Shulman:
The Van Zweden era continues its inaugural month with this first major commission of the season. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky has teamed up with the acclaimed librettist Gene Scheer for August 4, 1964. The new work, which receives its world premiere performances this weekend, is a major composition for four vocal soloists, full chorus, and orchestra.
The Dallas Symphony commissioned this new oratorio in observance of President Lyndon Baines Johnson's 100th birthday, which took place three weeks ago on August 27. August 4, 1964 explores the epic tragedy of the larger-than-life, Texas-born politician. His legacy in civil rights is admirable. His escalation of the Vietnam War remains controversial. Taken together, those two issues encapsulate the turbulent 1960s.
Stucky's and Scheer's oratorio focuses on the events of a single day, August 4, 1964, with digressions that allow us to peer into the psyches of four principal characters: LBJ himself; his defense secretary Robert McNamara; Carolyn Goodman, the mother of Andrew Goodman, a murdered civil rights worker, and Fannie Lee Chaney, the mother of James Chaney, a Freedom Movement activist and Mississippi native who was also murdered. At the same time, the musical and textual digressions address the broader impact of the events that transpired that day.
With the chorus functioning sometimes as crowd and sometimes as Greek Chorus, and the orchestra as eloquent supporter and complement to Scheer's vivid text, August 4, 1964 is a proud and powerful addition to the corpus of musical works with political and historical resonance.
August 4, 1964
Born November 7, 1949 in Hutchinson, Kansas
Currently residing in Ithaca, New York
Libretto by Gene Scheer
Born April 28, 1958 in Manhattan
Currently residing in New York City
The libretto is rooted in historical events from the 1960s
Approximately 85% of Scheer's libretto is documented quotations or poetry; 15% of the text is Scheer's invention
Listen for the sharp character contrast between LBJ and McNamara, reflected in the pacing of their music
A Stephen Spender poem figures prominently, sung exclusively by the chorus
Steven Stucky recalls that, when this commission was in its infancy, he cautioned himself not to try to write another Benjamin Britten War Requiem or John Adams Nixon in China.
Benjamin Britten's 1963 masterpiece is, on the surface, an amalgam of a traditional sacred work and musical settings of poetry by Wilfred Owen. John Adams's pathbreaking Nixon in China is no hybrid, but unequivocally an opera, premiered by the Houston Grand Opera in 1987.
So why the warning? Both Britten's and Adams's works grappled with major political issues. In Britten's case it was war. He was commissioned to write the Requiem in observance of the consecration of Coventry Cathedral. After having been bombed heavily during the Second World War, the city of Coventry, in England's Midlands, had built a new cathedral to replace the 14th-century edifice destroyed by the German Luftwaffe. All Britain recognized the symbolic value of this new house of worship - and of Britten as its composer. His pacifist War Requiem remains one of the crowning glories of twentieth- century music. The work made a bold statement in its departure from the traditional Latin Requiem Mass.
Nixon in China was a different animal. Adams had taken on a modern historical topic - Richard Nixon's historic visit to Red China in 1972 - and transformed that event into the stuff of high art. Adam's opera consists of six tableaux that explore the hemispheric differences in culture, politics, and world views between the United States and Communist China.
Explosive material? Potentially, in both cases. But no more volatile than what librettist Gene Scheer and composer Steven Stucky had to grapple with in the career of Lyndon Baines Johnson. The original commission called for a major work dealing in some capacity with Johnson: his life, his presidency, his legacy, in observance of his 100th birthday in 2008. That left considerable latitude.
August 4, 1964 is neither a requiem nor an opera. It is not a sacred work (though it has a spiritual dimension), nor is it a staged drama (though plenty of drama transpires within its pages). Librettist Gene Scheer worked diligently to zero in on an appropriate topic, devouring biographies of LBJ and perusing thousands of documents at the LBJ library in Austin.
Scheer stumbled upon the remarkable historical coincidence of events on August 4, 1964 [see sidebars, "History Lesson"]. The bodies of three civil rights workers who had been missing for seven weeks were discovered the same day as the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which was the catalyst for escalation of America's military involvement in Vietnam. In one extraordinary day with major historical ramifications, the two dominant issues of LBJ's presidency -the civil rights battle and the Vietnam War - coalesced in a way that no one could have predicted or scheduled
"For the oratorio, I had to explain the events in broad strokes," says Scheer. "I wanted to make clear the fact that LBJ sent the bombing raids because he and McNamara mistakenly thought our forces had been attacked on August 4th. And of course I wanted to outline the tragic events which unfolded in Philadelphia, Mississippi at the same time. Still, the primary idea of this piece was to transcend the mere facts and to allow music to depict the emotional reality of this pivotal day, which turned out to be a significant turning point for LBJ and the nation."
Scheer's concept for the libretto made excellent sense to Stucky, who was a teenager during the events that unfold in the course of August 4, 1964. He remembers those events vividly, though he acknowledges that, like Scheer, he underwent a refresher course in these corners of American history in the process of writing this work.
Scheer's libretto does not hew strictly to that date, although several scenes in the Oval Office evoke the immediacy of the day's historic events. He opens with laments from two of the murdered civil rights workers' mothers, recalling the tragedy and horror of the day after the fact. We also meet Johnson's Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara (tenor). Juxtaposition has been established.
A poem by Stephen Spender
The chorus' initial appearance also departs from the actual events of the title date. Their text is the English poet Stephen Spender's "I think continually of those who were truly great." A contemporary and friend of W.H. Auden and Louis MacNeice, Spender (1909-1995) came to prominence in the 1930s, writing personal and political poetry that revealed a strong social conscience.
His poem found its way into the libretto when Scheer learned that Andrew Goodman's mother, Carolyn Goodman, had placed a copy of it on the wall of her New York apartment when she learned that her son had been murdered. She also had several lines of the poem engraved on her son's tombstone.
"Spender's verse is connected to the emotional experience that Carolyn Goodman had during that awful time," Scheer says. "The lines from his poem were what brought her comfort." Stucky's setting reserves the Spender poem for the chorus.
Other movements draw upon various sources: LBJ's recollection of a visit to the home of a poor family in Appalachia; Mrs. Chaney's recollection of her grandfather's refusal to sell a successful family farm and the consequences of that refusal; Michael Schwerner's application to work for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), and the famous "We Shall Overcome" speech, which Lyndon Johnson delivered to a joint session of Congress on March 15, 1965, following racial violence in Selma, Alabama. (Stucky incorporates snatches of the eponymous protest song in this movement; "We Shall Overcome" became the unofficial anthem of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.)
Reflective Moment for Orchestra Alone
Midway through August 4, 1964, the orchestra plays an instrumental Elegy.
"We thought it would be good to break up the pacing with an orchestral movement," explains Stucky. "It occurs at an emotional point, when the horrific import of some of what you've heard begins to add up. It's business as usual at the White House, except that Johnson and McNamara are beginning to talk about bombing."
Stucky actually composed the Elegy first, adapting a choral setting of the Latin motet "O vos omnes" that he had written in 2005.
"It was actually the first part of August 4, 1964 that I wrote," he recalls. "I didn't have the libretto yet, but thought I'd better get started anyway! The principal motive from the Elegy eventually became the main motive of the whole oratorio once I composed the rest of the music."
The score calls for three flutes (second doubling alto flute, third doubling piccolo), two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bass clarinet, two bassoons, contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets (third doubling piccolo trumpet), three trombones (third doubling bass trombone), tuba, timpani, a large percussion battery [see below], harp, a quartet of vocal soloists, mixed chorus, and strings.
Stucky specifies four percussionists in addition to the timpanist, deployed as follows:
Player I: chimes, marimba, xylophone, vibraphone, bongo, 2 brake drums, and tam-tam (shared with Player II)
Player II: snare drum, tam-tam, high wood block
Player III: 5 tom toms, sandpaper blocks, whip, crash cymbals, suspended cymbal
Player IV: 5 temple blocks, bass drum, whip
Something more. . .
A new recording of Steven Stucky's Pulitzer Prize-winning Second Concerto for Orchestra is scheduled for release in early 2009 on the Bis label, with Lan Shui leading the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. That CD will also contain Stucky's Pinturas de Tamayo and Spirit Voices.
Listeners who wish to explore Stucky's other orchestral music may seek out Son et Lumière (David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony Orchestra; Albany Records); Dreamwaltzes (Lan Shui and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra; Bis), and Funeral Music for Queen Mary for Orchestra (after Purcell) (Clark Rundell and the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra; Chandos). Also: Michala Petri plays Stucky's Etudes (Recorder concerto)with Lan Shui and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Naxos).
Ann McCutchan, The Muse that Sings (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999)
The composer's web site, www.stevenstucky.com, contains a generous sampling of his writings on music, as well as a biography, discography, list of works, and audio samples. Entries about Stucky appear in all the major music reference tools, including The New Grove II, The Harvard Biographical Dictionary of Music, and Baker's.
- L.S. ©2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Montreal producer changes name after identity theft causes hassle at border
Nelson Wyatt, THE CANADIAN PRESS
MONTREAL - The head of one of the largest classical music labels in Canada has had to change his name after he couldn't get it off a U.S. customs and immigration terrorism watch list.
Mario Labbe - who now goes by Francois Mario Labbe - had major problems getting into the United States since his identity was stolen after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"Six months after, at the beginning of 2002, I tried to fly to New York and I started having problems," said Labbe, the Montreal-based president of Analekta, which records such artists as violinist Angele Dubeau and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
"Since then, interrogations every time I fly to the States," he added, noting he usually missed his flights because of the delays. "As soon as they scanned my passport the screen would become red."
He's been grabbed at airport check-ins and grilled for hours by customs agents when his name gets red-flagged as he tries to board a plane.
"When they realize I'm not a terrorist, it's fine, I can go in," said Labbe, who said he has never had a criminal record.
But the hassles proved so daunting that he gave up going to the United States in 2004.
"It was a nightmare. The waiting was between one and six hours."
He sent company staff on the business trips instead.
Oddly, his name was never on a no-fly list.
Labbe said he thinks the security lists were devised by a panicked U.S. government in the wake of Sept. 11.
He agrees security needed to be tightened after the attacks but says the way it was done is anything but foolproof.
"Right now, it's served the opposite purpose because there are too many lists," he said. "They don't target the right person."
Police have often cited identity theft as a problem, particularly relating to fraud. The 2008 report by Criminal Intelligence Service Canada says nine out of 10 Canadians worry about having their identity stolen.
Labbe said he was asked by a hotel clerk during a November 2001 visit to turn over his passport when he checked in late one night. Although he protested, Labbe was told this was a new policy since the Sept. 11 attacks.
When he checked out the next day, another clerk returned the passport to him, saying Labbe had forgotten it at the desk. When he told the clerk he had been ordered to turn it in, he was told there was no such policy.
Labbe said he eventually got a letter from U.S. authorities who said he had been the victim of misidentification. They surmised his identity had been stolen.
The thief had apparently committed a number of crimes.
"I discovered throughout many interrogations and interviews that I had that it was probably related to terrorist acts," Labbe said.
Last spring, a lawyer friend advised him to change his name because "you'll never get out of that. You'll die before you see the end of it."
Labbe did tell a reporter about his problems and he believes questions by the media, as well as his name change, helped him resolve his situation.
He said he has now been granted a Nexus pass, which allows faster entry into the United States. An earlier attempt to get the pass was refused. He also has a new passport.
Labbe said he has started an official process to get himself off the U.S. customs list but he isn't holding his breath.
There was a Random Act of Music while folks mingled, ate lunch, saw a video presentation and heard local youth who were featured on Saturday's From the Top performed with Christopher O'Riley.
(You can see one of the performances in our studio here!)
Thanks to everyone who came, and thanks to you for your support!
Read more about Saturday's From the Top performance here, and to become a member of KPAC, click here.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Violinist Jessica Mathaes' concert Sunday afternoon has been cancelled due to all activities at St. Edward’s University being cancelled in Austin. Her concert the 27th will go forward.
Learn more here.
On the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 a musical look at the "Land Down Under" with Two Ladies from Australia.
host, Randy Anderson
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Host John Clare recently spoke with Chris Brubeck about the new release at Chris' home in Connecticut.
Listen for Classified on KPAC and KTXI.
Speaking of new music and winds, Wind Visions (9 o'clock Saturday mornings) this week will feature music for smaller wind ensemble. Music of Franz Krommer, Milhaud and others. Join Don Miller for Wind Visions on KPAC.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Gerard Schwarz to step down from Symphony
By Seattle Times staff
After more than two decades at the helm of Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz announced today that he will step down when his contract expires in 2011.
Schwarz, 61, is among the longest-tenured musical directors in America and has been a towering figure on the Seattle arts scene during a period of unprecedented growth.
Upon his departure, he will be named Conductor Laureate and retain occasional conducting duties.
"As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our magnificent Benaroya Hall and our extraordinary artistic accomplishments, I believe it is a fitting time to relinquish my Music Director responsibilities of this orchestra," Schwarz said in a prepared statement. "With my new position, I will be afforded the opportunity to continue a relationship with this fine orchestra and focus on the music making I love so dearly."
Schwarz is widely credited with realizing the construction of Benaroya Hall and raising the quality of the orchestra to a world-class level. He introduced the symphony to the classical-music elite at New York's Carnegie Hall in 2004.
Under his leadership, the symphony's subscription audience has grown from 5,000 to 35,000 and its annual budget has risen from $5 million to $22 million. The orchestra has made 125 recordings under his baton — 11 of which have scored Grammy nominations. Last year, it won an Emmy for the self-produced TV special, "Seattle Symphony From Benaroya Hall."
The maestro's long reign has also been marked by some controversy.
His professional break with longtime concertmaster Ilkka Talvi in 2004 turned nasty when Talvi attacked Schwarz publicly on a blog. The incident was ultimately resolved through mediation.
The subsequent hunt for a replacement concertmaster — an important leadership position in any orchestra — was drawn out for three years, and only temporarily resolved when Schwarz decided to install four concertmasters on a rotating schedule. The plan didn't pass muster with the players' union, and earlier this year Maria Larionoff was named sole concertmaster.
Meanwhile, violinist Peter Kaman sued the orchestra in 2006, saying that Schwarz harassed and discriminated against him on the basis of a disability. The case was dismissed by King County Superior Court in January of this year.
Internecine conflict is common in any symphony orchestra, however, and Schwarz will likely be remembered for successfully leading Seattle Symphony through difficult financial times.
The orchestra board will now begin the search for his replacement, a process that could take years. Board chair Susan Hutchison stated, "We are grateful to Gerard Schwarz for building the reputation of the Seattle Symphony. The Board is confident that the legacy Maestro Schwarz has created will give us the leverage we need to attract a stellar Music Director. The transition committee is delighted to have three seasons in which to introduce a number of qualified candidates to Seattle."
Left is Host John Clare and Schwarz in Philadelphia. Hear a portion of their interview here.
Next we'll hear from Ken Freudigman (right) with Camerata San Antonio. Their program, Romantic Beginnings, takes place in Kerrville September 11 at 7:30pm, in Boerne September 12 at 7:30pm and in San Antonio September 14 at 3:00 pm. They'll play Chopin's Polonaise Brillante in C Major, Op. 3; Krasa's Three Movements for String Trio; Turina's Scene Andalouse for Viola, Piano & String Quartet; and Brahms' String Quintet in G Major, Op. 111.
Next the Texas Bach Choir led by Daniel Long performs Saturday, September 13, at 5:00 pm at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, and Sunday, September 14, 2008 at 3:00 pm at Woodland Baptist Church. They'll have Quantz's Flute Concerto in a minor with Lee Lattimore (seen left), Baroque Flute; Johann Michael Bach's Sacred Concerto, “Herr, der König freuet sich”; Schutz's “So fahr ich hin”; Johann Sebastian Bach's Cantata BWV 82a - “Ich habe genug”; Harpsichord Concerto in g minor; and Cantata BWV 45 – “Es ist dir gesagt, Mensch, was gut ist”. John speaks with Lattimore about the discovery of this Flute Concerto.
The Olmos Ensemble plays Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM, on September 16th at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Antonio. The program includes Joseph Canteloube's Trio; Philippe Gaubert's Fantasie; Shulamit Ran's East Wind; Joseph Schwantner's Black Anemones; Maurice Ravel's Jeux D’eaux; and Jean Francaix's Quintet for winds. Oboist Mark Ackerman (right) discusses the program called Autumn Winds.
Finally, Jessica Mathaes (left), concertmaster of the Austin Symphony talks about her program at St. Edward’s University in Austin at 2pm Sunday, September 14th and Saturday September 27th at 7:30pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Austin. On the program is Brahms' Sonata #1; Beethoven's Sonata #9, Kreutzer; and Kathryn Mishell's Elegy. There's more at Jessica Mathaes.com.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
In 2007 Midori was designated an official U.N. Messenger of Peace by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who cited her community engagement work as a model of exemplary commitment to worldwide goals shared by the U.N.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Although there are a few fundamental differences between Mr. O’Riley’s approach and the rules of engagement for El Systema, there is substantial common ground. First, the most apparent differences: From the Top concentrates on solo playing and chamber music; it also invites participation of singers, pianists, composers and even aspiring conductors, in addition to players of orchestral instruments. El Systema is all about orchestral training; the focus is on teaching young people to play instruments well enough to work within the fabric of a symphony orchestra, though there is also some attention given to the training of conductors.
The similarities between our American programs of music education and “The System” in Venezuela are apparent. They both strive to teach and cultivate high levels of technical and artistic proficiency. But do both systems guide young people to the same career aspirations? I believe on this matter we may find some substantial differences.
Music education in America is under siege, or so we are told. Thankfully, there are still many dedicated band and orchestra teachers in our public schools (and let’s give thanks for the chorus directors, too, though I will say little more about this area). There are also many private instructors who give excellent guidance to aspiring instrumentalists across the country. In many ways, we still have an embarrassment of riches. Just listen to the many fine public school bands and orchestras and it is impossible to deny the results of our public school instruction. But there is some truth to the “siege” to which I earlier referred. There is such demand to answer the various measuring rods of educational success (in Texas it is TAKS – Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) that energy is drawn away from curriculum more creative in its intention (visual arts, music, creative writing). I am certain many music educators are frustrated by the time and other resources which the TAKS (and similar tests across the country) siphon from their band and orchestra programs. Again, I am frankly amazed at what many music educators continue to produce, given the current atmosphere of test, and test some more.
I suspect a program such as El Systema would not work verbatim in this country, though there is much we could learn. How often do educators in the U.S. actively recruit students from our own ghettos? How often do our educators encourage students onto an artistic path, one which is less likely to create wealth and economic standing?
As I understand El Systema, the focus is upon the underprivileged. I don’t know if this implies that the program of free music education found in Venezuela is closed to children of the middle and upper classes. It seems to me that this should be governed by something between pragmatic and ideal. But this is for others to ponder and solve. The important matter here is that we must place a very high value on educating children, young people and adults in matters creative.
As I contemplated the success of El Systema while writing and producing that particular segment of my radio show Itinerarios, I felt it imperative to remind us all that there is a value to the creative arts which cannot be measured in dollars or Venezuelan pesos. I read an interview with a young Venezuelan man who had taken advantage of the music education offered him by El Systema. He came from the ghetto, detoured from a path which would have insured for him nothing. He commented that he was the first in his family to ever aspire to meet the world outside of his squalid surroundings. He got a passport and traveled to England to further his studies as a cellist. Within the past 5 years, numerous of the student-musicians in the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela have received their passports and have traveled forth to entertain in the U.S. and across Europe. They were awarded tremendous ovations at the Proms, in England.
Impressive? Yes! But more important, in my humble opinion, is that these young people have been allowed and encouraged to express themselves in one of society’s most creative languages, the language of music. And they are being encouraged to pursue careers as orchestral players and teachers. Here we find the brightest success of El Systema, and here we learn how we ought to encourage our own youth to explore a creative path. How often as teachers, parents, and councilors have we guided our young charges toward careers where success is measured in dollars? We do it with best intentions. But maybe, just maybe, we ought to suggest to young and old alike that there is merit beyond wealth to exploring our creative sides. And we should definitely encourage, rather than discourage, a young person’s inclination to declare the artistic path over the traditionally more lucrative paths to careers of wealth and power. You are right to protest that many will find a dead end to their creative paths if we are only talking career. There just aren’t that many orchestras or, in the case of visual artists, gallery spaces. But the creative path has many destinations and we ought always to encourage that exploration. It will liberate us and show us worlds heretofore unimagined.
There is a celebration Saturday at the Kaufman Center in NYC with her music, A Singular Voice.
Joan Tower is known as one of the leading composers of our time. She was born in New York, but spent her childhood in South America where her father worked as a mining engineer. She learned to play the piano when she was a child and soon realized that she liked to perform. She returned to the US when she was 18 to study at Bennington College in Vermont. Joan went on to Columbia University, where she received her Masters and Doctorate Degrees in music.
Joan was the Composer-In-Residence of the St. Louis Symphony from 1985-1987. She has also received many fellowships and founded and was the pianist in the "Da Capo Players"- an ensemble that won many awards for their performances. The Da Capo Players also commissioned and premiered many of Joan's works.
Joan has composed a large number of pieces, some for small, chamber ensembles and others for full orchestra. Her works are known for their energy and colorful sounds. She has taught music at Bard College since 1972.
Recently the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center has recorded a new work by Tower, A Gift.Here is her This I Believe essay: After 60 plus years of composing and performing, I believe more than ever in the extraordinary power of music.
In this day of fast information and communication, music nourishes our inner souls. As tensions between nations continue, music reaches beyond borders. At weddings, funerals, inaugurations and parades, music gives us public permission to feel and share things. In fact, music has always been a shared thing -- between the creator, the performer and the audience. Music connects me to people I don't even know.
Strong music puts you in a space where you forget about yourself. It's like a good movie. It's an escape. You lose yourself. It's a license to feel, sing, shout and to dance.
Do you remember when you first fell in love? Was there a song associated with that love? When you hear that song now, don't you think of that person and actually remember what you felt? Maybe you even cry.
When I was growing up, my life largely centered around boys and sex. I was into music, but music didn't always give me the nourishment that boys did. It takes time and patience to be nourished by music. Now, I can say, without music I would be lost.
A conductor once told me that music had kept him off the streets and even out of jail. Music became a kind of "survival" phenomena for him (and for me, too). It is our drug of choice because it has given us the extraordinary lasting inner experience that has even replaced real drugs, vacations, money, fame and all the things we associate with pleasure and excitement. A friend of mine who happens to be an extraordinary pianist and still practices up to five hours a day once said to me, "The piano is my best friend. I can't think of anyone better to spend my time with."
I feel the same way about composing. I'm in the studio from 1:00 to 5:30 religiously, every day. I used to run from the studio -- I'd tell myself I had to clean or make a telephone call, anything to get out of there. Now I look forward to these hours.
Music is not just my most trusted friend. It makes me come alive, to show strength and passion and to feel useful. Music makes me feel like I'm doing something terribly important. I believe that with music I can help to change the world around me -- if just a little bit.
Read about her performance of Made in America in York, PA at ClassicallyHip. You can also read more about her Notable Women Festival here.
Music tastes link to personality
Musical tastes and personality type are closely related, according to a study of more than 36,000 people from around the world.
The research, which was carried out by Professor Adrian North of Heriot-Watt University, is said to be the largest such study ever undertaken.
It suggested classical music fans were shy, while heavy metal aficionados were gentle and at ease with themselves.
Professor North described the research as "significant" and "surprising".
He said: "We have always suspected a link between music taste and personality. This is the first time that we've been able to look at it in real detail. No-one has ever done this on this scale before."
Prof North said the research could have many uses in marketing, adding: "If you know a person's music preference you can tell what kind of person they are, who to sell to.
"There are obvious implications for the music industry who are are worried about declining CD sales.
"One of the most surprising things is the similarities between fans of classical music and heavy metal. They're both creative and at ease but not outgoing.
HAVE YOUR SAY
Don't worry about what people think of you because of the music you listen to. Music is the best thing in the world Steve Harding, Wiltshire, UK
"The general public has held a stereotype of heavy metal fans being suicidally depressed and of being a danger to themselves and society in general. But they are quite delicate things."
More than 36,000 people from all over the world were asked to rate 104 musical styles and also questioned about aspects of their personality.
The study is continuing and Prof North, who is head of the university's department of applied psychology, is still looking for participants to take part in a short online questionnaire.
MUSICAL STYLES VERSUS PERSONALITY TRAITS
BLUES High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle and at ease
JAZZ High self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease
CLASSICAL MUSIC High self-esteem, creative, introvert and at ease
RAP High self-esteem, outgoing
OPERA High self-esteem, creative, gentle
COUNTRY AND WESTERN Hardworking, outgoing
REGGAE High self-esteem, creative, not hardworking, outgoing, gentle and at ease
DANCE Creative, outgoing, not gentle
INDIE Low self-esteem, creative, not hard working, not gentle
BOLLYWOOD Creative, outgoing
ROCK/HEAVY METAL Low self-esteem, creative, not hard-working, not outgoing, gentle, at ease
CHART POP High self-esteem, not creative, hardworking, outgoing, gentle, not at ease
SOUL High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, gentle, at ease
Source: Heriot-Watt University
Thursday, September 4, 2008
To submit questions about the album for Hahn to video-answer, please e mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Twenty fan questions will be selected and posted on http://www.youtube.com/hilaryhahnvideos throughout the day beginning at midnight on September 13th.
Here's our question, do you like Schoenberg's Fantasy and will you record it in the future?
Read about Hilary's cd launch party in NYC this last April here.
The cd release also has Tartini's G minor Sonata "Devil's Trill" with harpsichordist John Constable.
Bell will be in San Antonio this January to play a recital for the San Antonio Symphony.
Host John Clare spoke with Joshua Bell about his upcoming visit, teaching at Indiana University, and the new cd.
Windows Media File MP3 File
See a mix up in Pittsburgh about what instrument Bell plays here. Hear another interview with John and Bell here, read about a recital he played in Philadelphia here, and read about his Carnegie Hall premiere of Jay Greenberg's Violin Concerto here.