Monday, August 31, 2009

More from Z

We're a big fan of Judith Lang Zaimont, and happy to share this music with artwork!

CatCerto is pretty amazing

Do you have a pet? Ever watch those shows like AFV or Animal Planet? Combine the two with some "new music" and tada!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Grand Finale

The final broadcast of last season's San Antonio Symphony is this Sunday. The program, recorded last May, features music by Richard Strauss, Felix Mendelssohn and Modest Mussorgsky. Artistic Advisor Christopher Seaman conducted with violin soloist Elmar Oliveira. The Saturday evening concert also featured a preconcert talk with Performance Today host Fred Child, interviewing Oliveira (seen right on stage @ the Majestic). Listen to their complete conversation: mp3 file

Be sure to tune in Sunday afternoon at 2pm on KPAC & KTXI, or hear it online @

Here's a preview of next month's Carmina Burana:

More wacky videos of Carmina are on Jack Fishman's blog!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

H1N1 @ the opera?

Soprano Katherine Jenkins has insured her voice against the swine flu! Read all about it here. Perhaps she should take out insurance to not fall off the stage, or her legs. And you might remember this fan who got to meet Jenkins from a shout out to the stage!

Locally, don't forget to catch Madama Butterfly coming up next month. Read about an opera convert who is all ready for it!

Tone deaf?

New research about the brain:
Some people are really bad at singing a song they've heard, and scientists are figuring out why. The phenomenon, called tone deafness, refers to people who do poorly at distinguishing between different musical tones. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, looked at images of the brains of 10 people who tested as being tone deaf, and 10 people who were not.
Read more, including losing direction and smell here on CNN.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Added drama!

Do you remember earlier this summer when mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato broke her leg during an opera?
Opera lovers at Glyndebourne were treated to rather more drama than they anticipated when soprano Ana Maria Martinez fell offstage into the orchestra pit! Read about it here.
And poor Joyce had the lights shut off during a concert in Scotland!

See and hear some drama on stage in San Antonio with Madama Butterfly next month...we hope no one is injured and the lights stay on!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer Night Concert Schoenbrunn on DVD

On the 4th of June, 2009, Daniel Barenboim and the Vienna Philharmonic presented a free open-air concert on the grounds of Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. Over 100,000 visitors were present in the audience for this charming occasion.
Recorded and filmed by Austrian Television (ORF), the concert will be broadcast world-wide in more than 50 countries and will be released on DVD tomorrow, Tuesday August 25th. The US Broadcast on PBS is currently scheduled for September 16th (KLRN in San Antonio).
In the audience that evening were composer Richard Danielpour and KPAC host John Clare (seen before the concert left) who were in Vienna for the world premiere of Danielpour's Souvenirs on Philippe Entremont's 75th birthday (June 7th).
The concert shared a theme: Night. So we heard Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik; de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain; Mussorgsky/Rimsky-Korsakov's A Night on Bald Mountain; and Strauss II's Thousand and One Nights Waltz; plus encores Josef & Johann Strauss and Mariano Mores. All in all, a wonderful 93 minutes with one of the world's greatest ensembles! Besides the concert, views of the Schoenbrunn grounds and palace are seen, as well as gorgeous shots of the moon, fireworks and eerily appropriate fog/smoke (we're sure it was artifically made via dry ice).
You also get a wonderful sense of how many folks were there, and just how large the grounds are with stunning camera work. Check out this video from that night of a large robotic crane camera in action. You can even spot Danielpour & Clare in the audience, especially just after Barenboim announces the encores! Of course, the real magic comes from the Vienna Philharmonic in music they were born to play. (Danielpour is pictured in b&w with Christian Buchmann introducing him to Barenboim after the concert).
You can purchase the DVD of the concert here, or here (after 8/25/09).
Here's an extra bonus as well, composer Richard Danielpour set the scene at the VIP party after the concert:

Next year's concert
is earlier, May 20th, 2010 with Maestro Seiji Ozawa.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We know the emcee...

We thought you might want to know about this:
Saturday August 29, 2009 at 3:00 pm
"Prelude to the Afternoons of the Fans of Festival Hill"

A sampler of the 2009-2010 August-to-April Concerts Series
James Dick, piano.
Libi Lebel, conductor of the Texas Medical Center Orchestra.
Philippe Bertaud, Guitar.
Thomas Burritt, Percussion.
Libby Lovejoy, dancer and choreagrapher, presenting some excerpts of Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker".
Chaddick Dance Theater
Chesley Krohn, actress and singer in a medley of Noel Coward's Broadway Shows.

John Clare will emcee the event.

Wine and hors d'oeuvres following the performances.

Come and enjoy a varied sampler of programs designed for all ages. Bring friends you will meet again and again in the course of the season!

Call (979) 249-3129.

1K too many?

From the Times:
When Beethoven wrote his heaven-storming Ninth Symphony he cannot have imagined that the Ode to Joy would one day be played by an ensemble of 1,000 ukuleles. The attempt at the Albert Hall on Tuesday night was as sublime as it was ridiculous.

Perhaps Beethoven would have been content with his hearing condition...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Passing of a legend

Soprano Hildegard Behrens, one of the finest Wagnerian performers of her generation, has died while traveling in Japan. She was 72.
Jonathan Friend, artistic administrator of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, said Tuesday in an e-mail to opera officials that Behrens felt unwell while traveling to a festival near Tokyo. She went to a Tokyo hospital, where she died of an apparent aneurism.
Friend's e-mail was shared with The Associated Press by Jack Mastroianni, director of IMG Artists.
Her funeral was planned in Vienna.
Organizers of Behrens' visit said she was in Japan to perform at a music festival and then give lessons at a hot springs resort.
Miyuki Takebayashi, an official at the Kanshinetsu Music Association, said Behrens was taken to a hospital Sunday night and died there Tuesday.
"Her son and daughter were at her bedside when she passed away," she said.
Behrens was among the finest actors on the opera stage during a professional career that spanned more than three decades. She made her professional stage debut in Freiburg as the countess in Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" in 1971 and made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Giorgetta in Puccini's "Il Tabarro" in 1976.
One of her breakthrough roles came the following year, when she sang the title role in Strauss' "Salome" at the Salzburg Festival in Austria.
She sang 171 performances at the Met, where she appeared until 1999.
She was most acclaimed in the late 1980s and early 1990s for her portrayal of Bruennhilde in the Otto Schenk production of the Ring Cycle, the Met's first televised staging of Wagner's tetralogy.
"She is the finest Bruennhilde of the post-Birgit Nilsson era,"
Associated Press critic Mike Silverman wrote in 1989. "Though she lacks the overpowering vocal resources of a great Wagnerian soprano, she makes up for that with dramatic intensity as she changes before our eyes from a frisky young Valkyrie to a passionate and then betrayed lover, and finally to a compassionate woman whose sacrifice returns the ring to its rightful owners, the Rhinemaidens."
A dramatic soprano, her Met career included Elettra in Mozart's "Idomeneo," Isolde in Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde," Senta in "Die Fliegende Hollander," Donna Anna in Mozart's "Don Giovanni," Santuzza in Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana," the title roles in Strauss'
"Elektra" and `Salome," and Puccini's "Tosca," and Marie in Berg's "Wozzeck."
She was injured during the final scene of Wagner's "Goetterdaemmerung"
at the Met on April 28, 1990, when Valhalla collapsed prematurely and an overhead of foam rubber landed on her. Behrens walked off the stage under her own power and was taken to Roosevelt Hospital.
She missed subsequent performances because of the injury, and later sued the Met, according to a 1995 article in The New York Law Journal.
According to Behrens' Web site, she was born in the north German town of Varel-Oldenburg. Her parents were both doctors and she and her five siblings studied piano and violin as children. She earned a law degree from the University of Freiburg, where she was also a member of the student choir.
She received Germany's Bundesverdienstkreuz (Order of the Merit Cross), Bavaria's Bayerischer Verdienstorden service medal and was honored by both the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and the Vienna State Opera.

KPAC & KTXI will honor Behrens singing today at 2pm with some Wagner.

Chalk one up for the interns!

Unpublished scores by Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) were found at the Rio de Janeiro School of Music library, according to the school's director.
"I hired three interns to inventory the manuscript section of the library with our team and we found these invaluable works," Andre Cardoso told reporters, adding that the handwritten scores were dated 1921.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Villa-Lobos, who combined European influence and traditional Brazilian music in his work.
The library where the manuscripts were found was established in 1848, also the date of the founding of the School of Music, which is currently housed at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. It boasts a collection of scores from across the world obtained through donations or acquisitions.
"The Villa-Lobos scores that were found were very well preserved,"
said Cardoso, adding he would send a copy to a museum dedicated to the composer in southern Rio de Janeiro.

Tune in Sundays @ 7pm for Itinerarios to hear music just like this!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Release: Cypress Quartet

The San Francisco based Cypress String Quartet is about to release their Beethoven String Quartet cycle (August 25th) with volume 1 containing Opus 131 and Opus 135.
Cecily, Tom, Ethan and Jennifer recently spoke with host John Clare about the new recording.
Listen to their discussion {mp3 file}
Here's a hd video of the quartet in concert last April, celebrating 10 years of Call and Response, that also included Beethoven's Opus 135.

You can get the new Cypress cd or download here.

Of course, we also love the "Moose Quartet" by PDQ Bach, who will visit South Texas next April with Peter Schickele, seen here:

Had to share that since the finale of the Beethoven asks the question, Muss es sein? (Must it be?)

What a way to go

There's a theory new that Mozart could have died of strep throat!

So ill he could not move, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart supposedly sang parts of his final masterpiece, "Requiem," from his deathbed. Two centuries later, the exact cause of the Austrian composer's premature death, in December 1791 at age 35, is still a mystery.
Theories abound. It's known that his entire body was so swollen he couldn't turn over in bed; some say jealous rivals poisoned him, while others suggest scarlet fever, tuberculosis, or lethal trichinosis from undercooked pork.
Now, new evidence points to an altogether different conclusion: Mozart may have died from kidney damage caused by a strep infection, possibly strep throat. Can't stop coughing? 8 causes of chronic cough
Dr. Richard H.C. Zegers and his colleagues at the University of Amsterdam analyzed data from Vienna's death registry. Researchers had not previously analyzed the daily death registry -- begun in handwritten script in 1607 and maintained until 1920 -- for clues to Mozart's death.

The whole story is here. Thanks CNN!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Farewell review

Jack Fishman caught a classical concert last night and writes:
"Marilyn de Oliveira wanted to say farewell to San Antonio, her friends at Laurel Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church and the San Antonio Symphony before departing for Portland and her new position as Assistant Principal Cello with the Oregon Symphony. She wanted to present two hours of very difficult solo and duo cello music. She wanted to play an entire recital without piano. According to her excellent and very personal program notes, she said she wanted to "pay tribute to my time in San Antonio." And, it goes without saying; she wanted to offer her final San Antonio audience a moving and entertaining performance."
His whole review is here, enjoy!

Comment on Journalism

What's the next great thing in covering the arts? You can comment now on the USC Annenberg School of Journalism Arts Summit and the proposals. Deadline was today, announcements coming up in September and the actual summit is October 2.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Is the phone ringing?

Composers used to better relate to listeners by incorporating familiar sounds and imitations into their music. The man that premièred Beethoven's Violin Concerto, Franz Clement used to imitate chickens and geese in his performances. As music got more abstract and cerebral these handy connections were lost; or where they?

On the Piano this Sunday we have Clocks, Bells and What-not. Music where the composer actively imitates everyday noises or uses familiar patterns and intervals we listeners will relate to, giving their music an added dimension.

The Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on Texas Public Radio.

host Randy Anderson

Friday, August 7, 2009

Incredible, Part Two

One thing about a recording of a great performance is that you can hear it again and again. The unfortunate part is you can memorize and anticipate the recording and the thrill is diminished. This is where live music excels, every performance is slightly different. One of the great performers of the twentieth century, Vladimir Horowitz privately recorded his Carnegie Hall concerts in the forties and fifties. These recordings are just now coming out and this gives us fans of the Blockbuster Performance School a chance to hear multiple recordings of Horowitz, in his element, at the peak of his technique.

On the Piano this Sunday Horowitz playing his amazing edition of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition and also music of the English/ French composer Georges Onslow - on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on Texas Public Radio.

host, Randy Anderson

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Offcoloratura Soprano?

And who said the Proms is the only relaxed music summer venue in jolly ol' England?
From the "Recorder":
A CLASSICAL music fan has told how a cheeky chat– up line led to him getting up close and personal with stunning opera diva Katherine Jenkins.
Having the courage to compliment the Welsh songstress led to Keith Moore fulfilling his dream of sharing the stage with the singer.
Keith of Fieldway, Pitsea, was one of 4,000 revellers at the soprano’s recent open air concert at Lake Meadows in Billericay.
Fun–loving Keith, 47, was dressed up as Italian tenor Pavarotti, and had been knocking back glasses of Pimms and Champagne when his night suddenly got a lot better.
He explained: “At one point during the show Katherine got a fly in her eye and she had to stop singing. She asked the conductor to get it out for her.
“It was quite a funny moment and it was totally silent. You could hear a pin drop.
“She had her arm around the conductor and I yelled out ‘you lucky bugger!’ “Everyone laughed and Katherine asked ‘who said that?’.
“I said it was me and she saw me standing there in my Pavarotti mask and she told me to get up on stage.”
Keith couldn’t believe his luck when he clambered up and got to “conduct” the orchestra as Katherine belted out an beautiful aria.
“I can’t even remember what she sang I was so excited,” added Keith.
“Afterwards I went back stage and was talking to her for five minutes.
“She really amazed me. She was incredibly funny and laid back. There were no airs and graces she was just a lovely Welsh lass having a good time.”
Keith, who loves to pay tribute to his hero Pavarotti, added: “I bought my Pavarotti mask in London years ago. I always take it to classical events now. “We always have a great time, but this was extra special.
I think every man in that audience envied me, but it goes to show he who dares, wins!”

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Soloist on DVD

By Nathan Cone
In 2005, a Los Angeles Times reporter stumbled upon a unique sight in the middle of downtown L.A. on his way back to the office. There was a lone man, in his mid fifties, playing a violin with two missing strings. Something about the man intrigued Lopez, and after some conversation and a little digging, Lopez found out the man, Nathaniel Ayers, was a former Julliard student whose schizophrenia led him to life on the streets for over 30 years. Through a series of columns in the Los Angeles Times, Lopez told Ayers’ story, and how the two men developed a friendship that went beyond the typical journalist/subject relationship.

Sounds like a great idea for a movie, right? In a special feature included on the DVD of the film “The Soloist,” Lopez himself talks about how Hollywood producers came knocking on his door soon after the story began to develop in the paper. But what works well on the page doesn’t always translate to the screen.

Robert Downey Jr. plays Lopez in the film “The Soloist,” and Jamie Foxx stars as Ayers. Both men deliver solid, compassionate performances. But even though it seems like all cylinders are firing in “The Soloist,” there’s a curious lack of emotional connection to the story and characters. I’ve tried to think what it is that is keeping this story at arm’s length. Downey Jr. does well in portraying the determination to get the story that feeds the reporter’s soul, and nothing about Foxx’s role as Ayers is syrupy or over-the-top as one might fear. Maybe it’s something about the disease itself. Ayers’ schizophrenia led him to distance himself from family and friends, fearful of the voices in his head. And if even family members had a hard time connecting to Ayers, that means there’s an extra challenge in store for the filmmakers when all you have is a two-hour movie.

I haven’t read Lopez’ columns or the subsequent book that “The Soloist” is based on, but I suspect that the story reads better than it plays on screen. The printed word may be better at conveying the emotional heft of Ayers’ relationship with Lopez (and Beethoven); or, at least it may allow for more time for the audience to develop an understanding of Ayers and schizophrenia in general.

“The Soloist” is not without its merits, though. By illustrating that Nathaniel Ayers’ story is one of many on L.A.’s Skid Row, this movie fulfills an important mission. In another of the DVD’s special features, volunteers and staff members from LAMP (Los Angeles Men’s Project) and Midnight Mission in Los Angeles speak in plain truths about the homeless problem in L.A. Casey Horan, LAMP’s Executive Director, points out the astonishing statistic that Los Angeles has more homeless persons than New York City, Chicago, Houston, Portland, San Francisco and Philadelphia combined. If the only thing “The Soloist” does is raise greater awareness of the homeless population, and the need for humanitarian and financial aid, then it has succeeded.

Related story: “The Soloist” featured on NPR’s News & Notes.

Z video

Judith Lang Zaimont is a wonderful composer, who you may remember from The Piano on KPAC & KTXI. Did you know that her husband is an artist and that they have collaborated? Take a look and listen here:

Much more to come!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Classical music & Iron Chef America

The Grammy Award-winning pianist Yefim “Fima” Bronfman continues his juggernaut tour of American and European music festivals at the opening of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s 2009 season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on August 5. In Saratoga, Bronfman joins maestro Charles Dutoit for Brahms’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Fima’s appearance at Saratoga follows a whirlwind tour of American music festivals, which included performances at the openings of Ravinia and Tanglewood, a recital, and orchestral concerts at the Aspen Festival.
Following his concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Fima makes a return to the Tanglewood Music Festival (Aug 14) before moving on to Europe for the Edinburgh and Helsinki Festivals, and to the Lucerne Festival, where he is in residence as this year’s Artiste Étoile. “This is a summer that I have been planning and looking forward to for a long time,” the pianist comments. “I will be visiting top festivals around the world and collaborating with many of my favorite conductors and orchestras. It’s a summer I will remember for many years to come.”
On Sunday, August 9, Fima makes his Food Network debut as the first classical music celebrity to judge the popular cooking competition Iron Chef America on the Food Network. A connoisseur of food and wine, Fima enjoyed the opportunity to witness two great chefs battle for the winning spot using the show’s top-secret ingredient. “I have always been an enormous fan of Iron Chef America as well as many other Food Network shows, so it was a great thrill for me to sit at the judge’s table for an Iron Chef battle,” said Bronfman during another great meal at this summer’s Aspen Music Festival. “Great food and wine has become a hobby of mine as I travel around the world playing concerts. It was a great honor to be invited to experience meals created by an Iron Chef and challenger in Kitchen Stadium.”


The Moritzburg Festival under the artistic direction of cellist Jan Vogler was founded in 1993 by Kai Vogler, Peter Bruns and Jan Vogler. All three artists had been participants in the famous Marlboro Festival in the USA several times and were looking for an opportunity to establish a similar concept in the German federal state of Saxony—Moritzburg Castle near Dresden appeared to be the ideal setting to carry out this ambitious project. The Moritzburg Castle now welcomes one of the world’s most prestigious chamber music festivals. This year John Harbison will be composer in residence and amongst others Fanfare and Reflection, Abu Ghraib and Piano Trio will be performed on August 18 and 19 2009 in the presence of the composer.

The festival takes place every year in August. During two weeks soloists from all over the world concentrate on works of chamber music and perform them in concerts at the end. The number of artists amounts to 25 every year, from countries like USA, Japan, China, Canada, Israel, England, Russia, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Covering the whole range of chamber music literature, the programmes of the festival deal with contemporary music on an extensive scale as well. Since 1997 resident composers have included Wolfgang Rihm, Thomas Adès, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Steven Stucky, Gustavo Beytelmann, Jörg Widmann, Helmut Oehring, Iris ter Schiphorst, Steffen Schleiermacher, Chen Yi and Zhou Long.