Thursday, April 29, 2010

We have a winner!

Even before the month of April is out, 2010 has already proven to be a momentous year for Kirill Gerstein. In January, the Russian-born pianist became the sixth recipient of the coveted Gilmore Artist Award – “music’s answer to the MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ grants,” according to the New York Times – made every four years to a pianist of exceptional ability and profound musicianship, deemed capable of sustaining a prominent international career. Now Gerstein, one of today’s most intriguing young musicians, has followed this coup with a second major triumph, being named the winner of a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. Worth $25,000 each, the grants have been awarded for excellence since 1976, providing recognition to outstanding instrumentalists; former recipients include Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Leila Josefowicz, Jeffrey Kahane, Edgar Meyer, Gil Shaham, and Richard Stoltzman. As the Boston Globe affirms, Gerstein is “on the fast track to a major career, and he deserves to be. ”Giving grounds for his foundation of the Avery Fisher Artist Program, the late philanthropist Avery Fisher explained, “Musicians of outstanding ability are such an important part of our culture. But they are like flowers that must bloom at a particular time. They have to be helped at the right moments.” Evidently the moment is right for Gerstein, whose recent account of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto with Dutoit and the Chicago Symphony prompted veteran Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein to write: “One could tell just from the finely graded series of chords with which the work begins why the young Russian virtuoso won the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award for 2010. Gerstein handled them like a master, and they launched a reading of rhapsodic intensity and big-hearted Russian lyricism. He wowed the audience not by indulging in cheap tricks or self-regarding sensationalism but by treating this music seriously, like the splendid Romantic masterpiece it is.”
Gerstein’s other recent North American highlights have included debuts with the Atlanta Symphony and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; re-engagements with the Detroit, Houston, and Oregon Symphonies; and a tour with cellist Steven Isserlis that included performances in San Francisco and at the Kennedy Center. Upcoming engagements include Gerstein’s Gilmore Artist appearances at the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival in May, when he will perform Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and a recital program that will include a world premiere of Oliver Knussen's Ophelia's Last Dance for solo piano. The pianist also looks forward to making his Boston Symphony debut at Tanglewood in July.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lang featured in South Texas

David Lang's the difficulty of crossing a field is being performed in Austin this week.
Libretto by Mac Wellman
Composed by David Lang
Directed by Luke Leonard
Music Directed by Lyn Koenning
Performances: April 28, 29, 30 & May 1 at 8:00 PM
May 1, 2 at 2:00 PM
B. Iden Payne Theatre
Tickets: $20 adults, $17 UT faculty & staff, $15 students available online at or by phone at 512 477-6060.

Here is a sample of opening night last week:
Removed at UT Theater request...

Early next month you can catch Lang's Pulitzer Prize winning work, The Little Matchstick Girl Passion with Conspirare:
From a mystical, stunningly beautiful requiem to a contemporary setting of a children’s fable, Conspirare explores life’s mysteries in music. Featuring David Lang’s beguiling Little Match Girl Passion, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in music.
WORKS * J.S. BACH, “O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden” from St. Matthew Passion */ *TOMÁS LUIS DE VICTORIA, Requiem (Missa pro defunctis) */* DAVID LANG, Little Match Girl Passion */* GIACOMO CARISSIMI, “Plorate filii Israel” from Jephte*
Thu, May 6, 7:30PM, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 306 W. San Antonio St., Fredericksburg, TX 78624. Tickets: 830-997-7693.
Fri, May 7, 8:00PM, Sat, May 8, 8:00PM, Sun, May 9, 2:30PM, St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, 606 W. 15th St., Austin, TX 78701

Monday, April 26, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

How soon they grow up...

It happens to children and Piano Concertos! In Ferruccio Busoni's Concerto in C the Piano is the protagonist growing, exploring and learning to master the world in which it finds itself. On the Piano Sunday Part II of Busoni's massive opus 39 which pits man against the tumult in which we find ourselves. Find out what it all means, at least as Busoni envisioned it, this Sunday afternoon at 5 on the Piano on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lee Trio - 1 +1

The Lee Trio perform this weekend in San Antonio, and two of their members talked with our friend Jack Fishman about the concert:

SA Sym in the hood

Join Maestro Ken-David Masur and the San Antonio Symphony for two exciting performances in your neighborhood! Performances will be held on Tuesday, May 11 and Tuesday, May 18 at 7:00 p.m. at Lanier High School and Highlands High School respectively. Hear the works of Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky and Grofé as well as a side-by-side performance featuring local San Antonio students in these free events for the whole community.
These free performances include movements from Dvořák’s New World Symphony and Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony as well as the folk music of Béla Bartók and Percy Grainger. Additionally, students from the Lanier High School Band and Highlands High School Orchestra will perform alone and alongside the San Antonio Symphony.
The San Antonio Symphony in finishing the second season of the AT&T Music Scholars program which provides music mentorship to three area schools throughout the school year. The band, mariachi, and orchestra programs at Lanier, Edgewood, and Highlands High Schools have received regular coachings by symphony musicians throughout the school year in an effort to not only build-up their existing music programs but to also improve graduation rates. Students from each school will get to perform alongside the San Antonio Symphony during their respective concerts with the mentors they have been working with throughout the year.
Ken Masur, San Antonio Symphony’s Resident Conductor, is a “brilliant and commanding” [from the Leipziger Volkszeitung] conductor with “unmistakable charisma” [from the Bild]. This high praise has followed Ken Masur since his conducting debut in 1998. As the San Antonio Symphony’s Resident Conductor for the 2009-2010 season, Masur will conduct twenty-four performances in the San Antonio Symphony’s Young People’s Concert Series, four performances in the Family Classics series and assorted other Pops, Educational and Community concerts.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Philadelphia Orchestra Asia Tour 2010

As the eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull Volcano continues to confound air travel throughout Europe, West to the Orient is surely the direction to travel if you are an American orchestra on tour. Read more.

New composer in town

Violinist and Composer Daniel Kobialka has recently relocated to San Antonio. He stopped by the TPR studios for a chat with host John Clare. Hear some of his music and their conversation Thursday on Classical Spotlight.
You can also see Daniel in the studio here:

No word if Cellos or violins were left in the cabs

From Bloomberg:
At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Polish opera singer Aleksandra Kurzak realized that she and her costume were separated by about 1,000 miles.
She was in Warsaw. The outfit she wears as Fiorilla in Rossini’s comedy “Il Turco in Italia” was in London at the Royal Opera House.
The Cloud separated them.
Throughout the world, performers are finding themselves in unexpected locations as the dust from a volcano in Iceland disrupts air travel. Last heard, the Dutch Nieuw Ensemble was stuck in Hong Kong, the Asko Ensemble wasn’t leaving New York anytime soon, the Ensemble Modern was still in Istanbul and the Dresden Philharmonic was stranded on the Spanish island of Mallorca trying to get home from a concert in Valencia.

A Polish mini-cab driver united the diva and her dress.
They met up in Katowice. “We picked up Joanna Wos, another soprano who had to be in London, and set off at midnight on Thursday,” Kurzak said. “At one point an agent, who thought I was in London, gave me a call asking if I could replace Joanna in case she couldn’t make her concert on Saturday. That was quite amusing.”
“We drove for 19 hours, getting to London at 5 p.m. on Friday, which left me just enough time to go home and change, before I went on stage at 7:30 p.m.”

Adrenaline Boost
Kurzak says her performance went well. “I’d been awake for well over 24 hours. I guess the adrenaline kept me going.”
The journey, including the ferry fare, cost 250 euros ($336.85). “The driver was going to London anyway, and he didn’t want to profit from other people’s misery. It was really heart-warming. I’ve asked him to drive me back to Poland after the final performance.”
At Berlin’s Staatsoper, a performance of Strauss’s “Salome” took on extra drama on Saturday. “Conductor Pedro Halffter was unable to get from Madrid to Berlin for the event, but Julien Salemkour, who should have been in Madrid, was stranded in Berlin and able to take over at short notice,” said Johannes Ehmann, head of press.
“Tenor Marcel Reijans, who sang the part of Narraboth, came from St. Petersburg,” Ehmann said. “His plane made an unscheduled landing in Budapest. From there he took a bus to Munich and a train to Berlin, arriving just in time for the performance. He had slept for just two hours. James Rutherford, singing Jochanaan, came by car and ferry from the U.K.”
“The performers were received with foot-stamping and cheers at the end,” said Ehmann. “It was a very special mood.”

Rattle’s Helicopter
Not everyone has been grounded by the volcanic ash. Cellist Anna Carewe joined conductor Simon Rattle and 22 other Berlin Philharmonic string-players in a military helicopter to play at the Cracow funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
“Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, and Nicolas Sarkozy didn’t make it to the funeral because of the ash, but we did,” said Carewe from her Berlin home. “We flew right behind (German president) Horst Koehler. It was quite an experience.”
Back in London, agent Mark Newbanks reported that he and his colleagues at Van Walsum Management Ltd. have been busy around the clock trying to move musicians from A to B.
One of Van Walsum’s artists, violinist Daniel Hope, went to lengths worthy of James Bond in his quest to get from Istanbul to Stuttgart for his concert today with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Roger Norrington. When his Istanbul flight was grounded, Hope and four others chartered a private plane which took them as far as Zagreb before it was forced to land.

Speeding Minibus
From there, Hope drove his group in a minibus as far as Vienna, where he rushed to the train station, only to be told that all tickets to Stuttgart had been sold. He subsequently tried to hire a car, but collapsed, and has been ordered by doctors to remain in Vienna and rest.
Oddly, an Icelandic mood-music collective was the only cancellation so far at London’s largest concert venue, the Barbican Arts Centre, said an amused Nicholas Kenyon, the managing director. The Bedroom Community group won’t be presenting their show from the “The Whale Watching Tour.”
“They sent a very sweet e-mail saying how sorry they were, and asking us to pause for a moment to consider how much worse it could all be.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

American Composers Orchestra awards

American Composers Orchestra (ACO) is pleased to announce the seven winners of its 19th annual Underwood New Music Readings. Just one of the many ways that ACO provides opportunities for emerging composers, the Readings are one of the country's most coveted honors for up-and-coming artists. This year, the Readings will be held on Friday, May 21 at 10am and Saturday, May 22 at 8pm at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre (Broadway at 116th Street, NYC) and, as always, are free and open to the public, giving audiences a chance to look behind-the-scenes at the rehearsal process involved in bringing a new orchestral piece to life. Seven of the nation's most promising composers in the early stages of their professional careers have been selected from more than 100 submissions received from across the country. This year's winners are Matti Kovler, Hannah Lash, Eric Lindsay, Tamar Muskal, Ricardo Romaneiro, Christopher Stark, and Wang Xi, representing a broad range of sound worlds and life experiences.
Following the Readings, one of the young composers will receive a $15,000 commission to write a new work to be performed by ACO. ACO’s 2009 winner, Wang Jie, won the top prize with her work Symphony No. 1. Her newly commissioned work, Episodes from the Other Sky, will be premiered by ACO at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall on October 15, 2010.
Writing for the symphony orchestra remains one of the supreme challenges for the aspiring composer. The subtleties of instrumental balance, timbre, and communication with the conductor and musicians are critical skills. Opportunities for composers to gain hands-on experience working with a professional orchestra are few. Since 1991 ACO’s New Music Readings have provided invaluable experience for emerging composers while serving as a vital resource to the music field by identifying a new generation of American composers. To date, more than 100 composers have participated in the Readings, including such award-winning composers as Melinda Wagner, Pierre Jalbert, Augusta Read Thomas, Randall Woolf, Jennifer Higdon, Daniel Bernard Roumain, and ACO's Creative Advisor, Derek Bermel.
The 2010 Readings are under the direction of ACO’s Artistic Director, composer Robert Beaser, and this year will be led by ACO Music Director Designate George Manahan (who begins his tenure with the orchestra in the fall of 2010) and guest conductor José Serebrier; mentor composers are Derek Bermel and George Tsontakis. The conductors, mentor composers, and principal players from ACO provide critical feedback to each of the participants during and after the sessions. In addition to the Readings, the composer participants will take part in workshops and one-on-one sessions with industry professionals on Friday and Saturday.
Since participating in ACO's Readings, composers have held important residencies and had many works commissioned, premiered, and performed by the country's prominent symphony orchestras. The New Music Readings continue ACO's emphasis on launching composers' careers, a tradition that includes many of today's top composers, such as Ellen Taaffe Zwilich and Joseph Schwantner, both of whom received Pulitzer Prizes for ACO commissions; and Robert Beaser, Ingram Marshall, Joan Tower, Aaron Jay Kernis, Christopher Rouse, Sebastian Currier, and Tobias Picker, whom the orchestra championed when they were beginning their careers.

ACO & the EarShot Network
In addition to its annual Readings in New York, ACO has expanded its efforts to reach composers and orchestras across the country through the creation of EarShot, the National Orchestral Composition Discovery Network. EarShot is a partnership among five leading new music organizations – American Composers Orchestra, American Composers Forum, American Music Center, the League of American Orchestras, and Meet The Composer – that assists orchestras around the country in mounting their own new music readings. It is the nation’s first ongoing program to identify emerging orchestral composers, and to provide professional-level working experience for those composers with orchestras from every region of the country.
Through EarShot, founded in 2008, more than two dozen composers have already been selected for programs with the New York Youth Symphony, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Most recently, EarShot presented new music readings with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra on April 7 and 8, and with the Pioneer Valley Symphony (MA) on April 17 and 18, 2010.

ACO & Playing it UNsafe 2011
Founded in 2008, ACO’s Playing it UNsafe initiative is the first professional laboratory to support the creation of cutting-edge new American orchestral music through no-holds-barred experimentation. Like ACO’s Readings and the EarShot Network, the goal of Playing it UNsafe is to provide composers with uncommon access to composing for the orchestra. Playing it UNsafe takes the process a step further, with a unique incubation process of workshops, public readings, collaborative feedback, and laboratory performances of music created especially for the program.
A nationwide call for proposals has been issued (submission deadline is April 30, 2010) for music that challenges conventional notions about orchestral music. The composers selected to participate will be chosen for their willingness to experiment and stretch their own musical sensibilities, and their ability to test and stretch the possibilities for the orchestra itself. A series of public readings and open rehearsals will commence in fall 2010, and the project culminates in a final Playing it UNsafe lab performances on March 4, 2011 at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall. More info about Playing It UNsafe is available online at
Playing it UNsafe features Orchestra Underground, ACO’s groundbreaking ensemble that seeks to redefine orchestra music by embracing the gamut of musical styles, unusual instrumentations and spatial orientations of musicians, technological innovations, and multimedia/multidisciplinary collaborations. Since its launch in 2004, ACO’s Orchestra Underground has commissioned and premiered fifty cutting-edge new works and played to sold-out houses at Zankel Hall.

About ACO
Now in its 33rd year, American Composers Orchestra is the only orchestra in the world dedicated to the creation, performance, preservation, and promulgation of music by American composers. ACO makes the creation of new opportunities for American composers and new American orchestral music its central purpose. Through its concerts at Carnegie Hall and other venues, recordings, radio broadcasts, educational programs, New Music Readings, and commissions, ACO identifies today’s brightest emerging composers, champions prominent established composers as well as those lesser-known, and increases regional, national, and international awareness of the infinite variety of American orchestral music, reflecting geographic, stylistic, and temporal diversity. ACO also serves as an incubator of ideas, research, and talent, as a catalyst for growth and change among orchestras, and as an advocate for American composers and their music.
To date, ACO has performed music by 600 American composers, including 200 world premieres and newly commissioned works. Among the orchestra’s innovative programs have been Sonidos de las Américas, six annual festivals devoted to Latin American composers and their music; Coming to America, a program immersing audiences in the ongoing evolution of American music through the work of immigrant composers; Orchestra Tech, a festival and long-term initiative to integrate new digital technologies in the symphony orchestra; Improvise!, a festival devoted to the exploration of improvisation and the orchestra; Playing it UNsafe, a new laboratory for the research and development of experimental new works for orchestra; and, of course, Orchestra Underground, ACO’s entrepreneurial cutting-edge orchestral ensemble that embraces new technology, eclectic instruments, influences, and spatial orientation of the orchestra, new experiments in the concert format, and multimedia and multi-disciplinary collaborations.
Among the honors ACO has received are special awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and from BMI recognizing the orchestra’s outstanding contribution to American music. ASCAP has awarded its annual prize for adventurous programming to ACO 31 times, singling out ACO as “the orchestra that has done the most for new American music in the United States,” and most recently awarding ACO the 2008 ASCAP Morton Gould Award for Innovative Programming. ACO received the inaugural METLife Award for Excellence in Audience Engagement, and a proclamation from the New York City Council. ACO recordings are available on ARGO, CRI, ECM, Point, Phoenix USA, MusicMasters, Nonesuch, Tzadik, New World Records, and More information about American Composers Orchestra is available online at

Dallas Composer gets reading

2010 Underwood New Music Readings Composers & Their Works

Matti Kovler: Unsung Serenade
For more information and audio:
Matti Kovler (b. 1980) is a doctoral candidate at the New England Conservatory, and a recipient of the America-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship for study in the US. Born in Moscow and educated in Israel and the US, Kovler wrote his first opera at the age of 17. Among his awards are fellowships at the Tanglewood and the Aspen Music Festivals, first prize in the Dorfman International Composers Competition (Germany), and the Theodore Presser Award. His music has been described as “graceful” (New York Times), and “notable for its pacing and bold orchestral colors” (The Boston Globe). Recent projects have included a monodrama commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the Upshaw/Golijov Professional Training Workshop, Here Comes Messiah! for soprano and chamber ensemble, premiered in 2009.
Kovler’s Unsung Serenade is inspired by Shakespeare’s sonnet number 73. His musical influences include “third stream” improvisation, a deep fascination with Janácek and Bartok polymodality, Kurtag’s subtlety, and the cult writings of the French theatre philosopher Antonin Artaud. His works include solo and chamber music for winds, strings and piano, symphonic poems, musical theater pieces and a children’s opera based on Hansel and Gretel. Recent compositions have been inspired by a range of Jewish traditional sources, from Sephardic liturgy to contemporary Israeli poetry.

Hannah Lash: Furthermore
For more information and audio:
Hannah Lash (b. 1981) completed her undergraduate degree in composition from the Eastman School of Music. Currently she is a candidate for a Ph.D. in composition at Harvard University and will be enrolled in the Artist Diploma program at Yale School of Music in composition in the fall. Her composition teachers have included Augusta Read Thomas, Robert Morris, Steven Stucky, Bernard Rands, and Martin Bresnick. Her music has been performed at the Tanglewood Music Center and on the American Opera Project’s stage in New York City. She has written pieces for such ensembles as the Arditti Quartet, the JACK Quartet, and Alarm Will Sound. Lash’s honors and prizes include the Barnard Rogers Prize in Composition, the Bernard and Rose Sernoffsky Prize in Composition, and Honorable Mention in BMI’s International Women’s Music Commission. In April 2008, her string quartet Four Still was performed in Kiev in the Ukraine’s largest international new music festival, Musical Premieres of the Season.
Of her work Furthermore, she says, “It is a deep expression of my love for rich orchestral sonorities and textures in evolving characters and shapes. The opening three-note motive begins as the main driving force of the piece: the source of harmonic material as well as motivic/melodic material, undergoing various transformations and extensions.”

Eric Lindsay: Samba Koocho Hairy Boocho
For more information and audio:
Eric Lindsay (b. 1980) is a composer, pianist, and teacher. His scores are published and distributed through Peermusic Ltd. and the Theodore Presser Company, making him the youngest composer to be published in Peermusic’s New Voices Series. Lindsay holds composition degrees from Indiana University-Bloomington and the University of Southern California, and also studied at King’s College in London. He is the recipient of several national honors, including a 2009 commissioning grant from the Serge Koussevitsky Music Foundation, as well as awards from ASCAP, The Society of Composers Inc., the Aspen Music Festival, Volti’s Choral Arts Laboratory, and the Truman State/MACRO Competition.
Lindsay’s work, Samba Koocho Hairy Boocho, is influenced by New York City’s role as the birthplace of both salsa and hip hop, as well as a thriving home for jazz, rock, and blues. Of the work, he says, “New York’s Brazilian population, concentrated largely in Astoria and Manhattan’s Rua 46, is one such community that is becoming an increasingly vital part of New York’s cultural landscape. With Brazilian Day reportedly drawing over 1 million people into the city last year, many can identify with the impromptu formations of an intricate, ebullient samba batucada on the corners of city blocks, where amateur musicians create grooves enviable by many professional bands in other parts of the world.” Samba Koocho Hairy Boocho illuminates the samba genre – itself a result of five centuries of Portuguese, African, and Amerindian rhythms, dances, and harmonies working together – to symbolize the powerful results of shared ideas.

Tamar Muskal: Water Colors
Educated both in Israel and the United States, Tamar Muskal’s (b. 1965) music harmonizes the unique cultural aspects of both places. Her music is always in a counterpoint style, carefully structured, and with great attention for details. She was born in Jerusalem, Israel, and is a 2009 Guggenheim Foundation fellow. She studied viola, music theory, and composition at the Rubin Academy for Music and Dance in Jerusalem and earned her B.A. in 1991, having studied with Mark Kopytman. Muskal came to the United States in 1994 and subsequently earned her Master’s degree from Yale University, where she studied with Jacob Druckman and Martin Bresnick. She continued her studies at the City University of New York, where she studied with David Del Tredici and Tania Leon. She has written music for eighth blackbird, cellist Maya Beiser, oud player Bassam Saba, 2009 GRAMMY-winning soprano Hila Plitmann, soprano Lucy Shelton and the Colorado String Quartet, pianist Lisa Moore, among others. Muskal has been the recipient of many awards and fellowships, from institutions such as ASCAP, Meet The Composer, the Jerome Foundation, American Music Center, the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and the Academy of Arts and Letters.
Muskal’s piece, Water Colors, is inspired by the act and art of painting. It is based on two alternate themes: The first is played by the strings section and occasionally is accompanied by chords in the piano and harp. Like a painter who lets his brush move freely on the canvas, the melodic line moves freely up and down. The second theme is in complete contrast and is very rhythmic, loud, and played by the brass.

Ricardo Romaneiro: Sombras
For more information and audio:
Composer Ricardo Romaneiro (b. 1979), in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and currently lives in New York City. He earned his undergraduate degree in composition at the Manhattan School of Music under the tutelage of Richard Danielpour. Following private studies with Mexican composer Samuel Zyman, he completed his Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School, studying with Pulitzer-Prize composer Christopher Rouse. His music has been commissioned and performed from such ensembles and institutions as Museum of Modern Art’s Summergarden Series, Wordless Music, Metropolis Ensemble, Alvin Ailey, Maya, New Juilliard Ensemble, Quintet of the Americas, Colorado Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, and New York Miniaturist Ensemble.
Recent premieres include The Rite: Remixed (2008), a re-imagination of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring for brass ensemble, percussion, and live electronics, commissioned by Wordless Music Series. This concert was performed in Prospect Park for an audience of 10,000 and nationally broadcast live on WNYC and NPR. Also featured in this performance was Two Part Belief, a new vocal commission performed by GRAMMY winner soprano Hila Plitmann and the Metropolis Ensemble. Combining his electronic and classical technique, Storm King (2008), composed specifically for the Museum of Modern Art’s Summergarden Series, further explored his electro-classical style and performance. Romaneiro’s composition process and music was featured in Esquire Magazine’s annual issue of America’s Best and Brightest in 2007.
Of his new piece, Romaneiro says, “Sombras means ‘shadows’ in Portuguese – the conceptual inspiration for the work. Sombras depicts multiple, colored shadows as orchestral textures, motifs, and gestures. Light is represented through time; as the piece progresses, shadows overlap and transform, sculpting the structure of the composition.”

Christopher Stark: Ignatian Exercises
For more information and audio:
Christopher Stark (b. 1980) is a composer deeply rooted in the American West. Having spent his formative years in rural western Montana, his music is always seeking to capture the expansive energy of this quintessential American landscape. He currently studies music composition as a doctoral student at Cornell University with Roberto Sierra and Steven Stucky. Stark has previously studied at the Freie Universität Berlin, the Cincinnati Conservatory, and the University of Montana. At these institutions and abroad in Vienna, he studied with notable composers Samuel Adler, Michael Fiday, Joel Hoffman, David Maslanka, Charles Nichols, Wolfram Wagner, and Patrick Williams. Stark’s music has been performed in venues around the world from the Neue Synagoge Berlin to Carnegie Hall. He has worked with ensembles such as Brave New Works, the Momenta Quartet, the Israeli Chamber Project, Janus Trio, NeXT Ens, the Tipping Point Saxophone Quartet, and Juventas.
Ignatian Exercises is a reference to two things: The famous Catholic Spiritual Exercises penned by the Basque saint and founder of the Society of Jesus, Ignacio de Loyola, and the town of Stark’s birth, St. Ignatius, MT. Stark found the Spiritual Exercises while researching the early cultures of western Montana. He discovered the dark history of St. Ignatius, and more specifically, the heartbreaking and disgraceful conflict between the early Catholic settlers and the Bitterroot Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Oreilles tribes. He decided to write a work drawing inspiration from memories of St. Ignatius, his Catholic upbringing, and the pan-tribal culture of the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Xi Wang: Symphony No. 1
For more information and audio:
Xi Wang (b. 1978) received a B.M. from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and a M.M. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She finished her doctoral degree in Music Art at Cornell University in 2009. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at the Meadow School of Arts at Southern Methodist University. Her orchestral music has been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the Shanghai Philharmonic, and the Spokane Symphony. Xi Wang has received five prizes from ASCAP, and her music has been spotlighted on Minnesota Public Radio, Aspen Public Radio, and Radio-China. Xi Wang was also one of the eight young composers featured in the project New Voices from China at Bard College. She is also a conductor as well as a pianist.
Symphony No. 1 is an homage to the earthquake victims in Sichuan Province in May 2008. Xi Wang says, “On May 12, 2008, the Great Sichuan Earthquake killed around 70,000 people in China. About 380,000 people were injured and more than 18,000 were missing. The deadly earthquake left thousands and thousands of orphans, widows, and widowers. Homes were gone and hearts were broken. I was living in Manhattan at that time. I could not help watching the news with watering eyes. The beautiful May and bustling Manhattan aggravated my grief of the lives lost in the earthquake.”

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Run for it Ludwig!

From the Fairbanks Daily News, via James Baker:

Jason Walker was among the most surprised people on Saturday morning in the Beat Beethoven Run. He was also the fastest person in the 5-kilometer race.
The 32-year-old engineer finished in 16 minutes, 13.4 seconds in his first entry in the race, which has participants move around the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus while Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony is being played through various means — live musicians, boom boxes and car stereos.
The object of the race, which is a fundraiser for the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra, is to complete the course before the final chord of the symphony, which lasts 30 minutes, 47 seconds, according to Eduard Zilberkant, the orchestra’s music director and conductor.
Anyone who finished before the symphony ended received a free pass to a Fairbanks Symphony concert during the upcoming season.
Approximately 774 people finished the race and a record 820 entered the 16th edition of the event. It was 153 more entries than the previous registration high of 667 in 2008, according to John Estle, the race’s timing contractor.
Several people were still registering Saturday, five minutes before Zilberkant stood on a ladder and waved his baton to signal the start of the race.
“They’re still signing up. You’ve got to love it!,” exclaimed Steve Bainbridge, a race director who has annually dressed up as Ludwig van Beethoven. Bainbridge’s outfit featured a top hat, gray wig, black coat with tails and a tuxedo.
Matthew Scerbak was the overall runner-up Saturday in 17:01.1, and Werner Hoefler finished third in 17:08.1. Jane Leblond earned the women’s title with a finish of 19:36.8, and Melanie Nussbaumer was second among the women in 20:12.5. Katie Moerlein took third in 20:37.7.
Walker was introduced to the race last March when he and his wife, Riva, came up for a visit from Anchorage, where they lived until moving to Fairbanks in October. His wife is a fine arts graduate student at UAF.
“We saw flyers for it when we came up here, and it looked kind of fun,” he said, “but I didn’t know that Beethoven was played for the entire race.”
Walker enjoyed the symphony while posting the fastest time on the course that ran up Tanana Loop toward the University of Alaska Museum of the North and later finished in the parking lot of the Patty Center.
“It was great because I didn’t get any songs stuck in my head,” Walker said.
“Usually when you’re running, you get a song stuck in your head and it’s ‘ahhhh!,’ and you just want to kill yourself,” he added jokingly.
Walker was alluding to “Shipoopi” from the movie “The Music Man,” which the Walkers watched last week.
“I was so happy that Beethoven was playing,” Walker said, “because that’s (Shipoopi) been rolling through my head on all my (training) runs since we watched that and that’s been driving me nuts.”
Walker drove himself to the overall title because he said he didn’t do much training during the winter.
“I didn’t expect to run that time because I haven’t been running as much as I normally do,” said Walker, who competed for Humboldt State University in California from 1998-2003, and briefly ran with the Team Eugene club in Oregon during the 2000s.
“I haven’t done any speed work this year, and it’s hard running in negative 20 weather all winter,” he said. “I just go out and run and do what I can, and I was surprised I had anything left in me at the end of the race.”
Walker also overcame a stomach cramp during the race.
“I love the course, it has a nice hill,” he said. “When you’re coming downhill, it’s nice to have some uphill to back you up because I had a big fat stomach cramp, but the uphill pushed it out.”
After Walker crossed the finish line, Scerbak got a push from three runners who were within 18 seconds of him.
After Hoefler finished, Mike Kramer came in at 17:15.7 and David Apperson followed in fifth place at 17:19.8.
Jana Benedix was the fourth-fastest woman in 20:40.4 and Krista Heeringa took fifth in 20:55.3.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Gustav Mahler's Piano Concerto?

Imagine a piano concerto by Mahler, the gigantic fortissimos and surging
rhythms all in service to a universal ideal of one's quest through life. Sounds exciting except Mahler never wrote a concerto, but his friend Ferruccio Busoni did and we explore this path from before one's birth to the end of days on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ax's generosity

A touching story from Philadelphia:
Despina Thomas tried her best, but couldn't get the Kimmel Center attendant to bend. Her son, she pleaded, was an aspiring pianist who worshiped Emanuel Ax.
The attendant shook his head.
But five minutes with Mr. Ax would make a lifetime of difference for her son.
So they started to walk away, mother and 10-year-old son, when the boy turned and made a pitch of his own. To this day she doesn't know what her son said that night in 2002, just that it worked, and soon the boy was sitting with the renowned musician, being asked whether he liked to practice.
"Tony came out glowing," his mother recalled. "Since that day he never complained about practicing."
Antonios S. "Tony" Thomas was an only child. "He was everything to us," his mother said, four years after his death at 13 from leukemia. "Everything."
He was a seventh grader at William Penn Charter School when he got sick - a swimmer, a Boy Scout, a baseball and tennis player, a pianist and trumpeter, an A student who told his parents not only that he would go to Harvard but also that he'd win a scholarship so they would not have to pay.
"He said he was going to be president," said his father, Sotirios "Steve" Thomas, owner of Fiesta Pizza in Roxborough. "He told me that."
Tony died in 2006, before his parents could honor their promise to him: that once they moved into a bigger house they would buy him a grand piano. "He worked so hard," his mother said.
When it came time to honor his memory, the Thomases decided to do so with music.
A new arts center was rising in the middle of Penn Charter's campus in East Falls. It needed a piano. Tony had always dreamed of owning a Steinway. So that's what his parents bought for the school.
When there was talk of a concert to honor the building and its benefactors, Despina shared her designs for the Steinway's premiere.
"Don't you think Emanuel Ax would like to come and play Tony's piano?"
She asked that of the school's development director, who knew better than to refuse her. He knew an alum who was an executive at Sony who knew how to reach the pianist's people.
Despina sealed the deal over the winter, when Ax returned to the Kimmel Center. With the spirit of Tony giving her the courage, she worked her way backstage and made her case in person. She thanked Ax for his generosity, and wrapped her arms around him. "You could feel his compassion," she said.
And that is how Emanuel Ax wound up playing Tony's piano Tuesday night at Penn Charter.
The recital in the new building was free, in a sense. Ax had donated his time - he was already to be in town for a benefit with the Lyra Society and concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra. The school gave tickets to donors of the performance center, which was dedicated in January.
Earlier Tuesday, Ax told me that when he had heard the family gave a $55,000 concert piano in honor of their son, he was moved to come and perform. He's been showcasing pieces by Chopin and Schumann on his tour - "that's very emotional and touching music, and so that's what I'll play," he said before the memorial.
That piano is a rare and lasting gift, he said. "I think the more people that experience music the better. . . . I think it should be part of everyone's experience, like reading, painting, math, TV, iPhones. We have so many different possibilities, and I think kids should be exposed to everything."
That was Tony, his parents say, exposed to everything, enthused about everything.
Darryl J. Ford, head of school, told the audience Tuesday night how in Tony's first conversation with him back in lower school, the boy had said, "I'm Greek, you know."
Aidan Ryan, Tony's friend since kindergarten, nodded at the story.
He was "so proud," recalled Ryan, now a senior. "I will always remember him with a smile on his face."
That smile lit the dozens of photographs that fill the Thomases' house in Roxborough - five pictures of Tony on the keyboard of his old Baldwin upright, nine others on the music rack.
His mother sat, dressed in a black pantsuit, talking for hours while her husband listened but said little, getting up and walking outside when he could no longer bear to stay in the room.
"He was my right arm in the house," she said. "He was even handy. He loved to cook, to bake. He loved athletics and music, and he was good at everything. If I had to choose one word, he was a giver. Even when he was sick he was looking after us."
She told the story: the cold that wouldn't go away, the aches in his shoulder, the red spots, the diagnosis, the treatment, the remissions, the months at Sloan-Kettering in New York. She portrayed her son as a fighter who protected her feelings until the end.
"The last time the leukemia came back," she said, "he knew, but he didn't want to upset us."
Tony Thomas is buried in Athens, Greece, next to Despina's mother. For a year and a half she couldn't bear to leave Greece, but she is better now, she said, with Tony's help. She thinks of him and has the strength. The thought of generations of students playing the piano that bears his name on a small plaque helps, too.
"It will bring joy to many," said the boy's mother. "That's my hope."
Said the boy's father, "It's so his name will be forever."

Music Business

The Concord Music Group today announced the acquisition of storied Massachusetts-based independent music label Rounder Records. Rounder, celebrating its 40th year as the world’s leading American roots music label, is a major force in a broad range of musical genres including bluegrass, Americana, singer-songwriter, Cajun & Zydeco and children’s music. Rounder possesses an extraordinary recorded catalog and current artist roster including bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss, singer-songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, actor/musician Steve Martin, jazz singer Madeleine Peyroux, the iconic Robert Plant, notable children’s artist/activist Raffi and country legend Willie Nelson, to name just a few. The acquisition of Rounder and its essential collection of over 3,000 masters combined with Concord Music Group’s rich catalog of more than 10,000 master recordings strengthens Concord’s status as one of the world’s most significant independent record companies, with a leadership position in multiple genres.
Rounder’s creative and marketing functions will continue to be based in Boston and its owners and founders Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin and Marian Leighton Levy will remain active with the company in a creative and advisory capacity. The company’s senior management will also remain in place: John Virant will continue as the President of Rounder; Sheri Sands will stay on as General Manager. Operating synergies will be achieved by combining the sales, administrative and support functions of the two companies.
Rounder, founded in 1970 by Cambridge folkies, Irwin, Nowlin, and Leighton Levy, has been at the center of nearly all of the American roots revivals that have reshaped the music world in the last 40 years. The self-titled 1975 record by J.D. Crowe and the New South (featuring future stars Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice and Jerry Douglas) revitalized bluegrass and inspired such modern superstars as Rounder’s own Alison Krauss, who is the most decorated female artist in the history of the Grammy® Awards and has also sold over eight million albums and DVDs. Her collaboration with Led Zeppelin front-man Robert Plant on the album Raising Sand emerged as one of 2007’s major critical and word-of-mouth sales success stories. The album was RIAA certified platinum in early 2008 and won five Grammy® Awards including Album and Record of the Year in 2009. An unequaled leader in the preservation and re-release of precious historic recordings, Rounder has brought the music of Jelly Roll Morton, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers and Mississippi John Hurt back to vibrant life. In addition, their dazzling work on the epic anthologies from the Library of Congress and the Alan Lomax Collection has been universally respected and admired.
Glen Barros, President and CEO of the Concord Music Group, said, “The combination of Concord and Rounder makes so much sense on a creative, strategic and cultural level. With the addition of Rounder, Concord is gaining a magnificent catalog of recordings, the opportunity to work with more of the world’s most amazing artists and a company filled with some great people. Plus, Rounder’s uncompromising commitment to authenticity and intense independent spirit is perfectly in line with everything that Concord is about.”
Norman Lear, Concord Music Group Chairman and co-owner added, “We couldn’t be more honored to join together with Rounder in our collective mission to deliver great, timeless music.”
Marian Leighton Levy, co-Rounder Founder, concurs and adds, “For us, it’s always been about the music. We have long been aware of Concord’s commitment to great catalogue labels within a vibrant and contemporary independent context, and feel the Concord Records Group provides not only a great home for our music and artists, but also a stronger and more secure position going forward.”
John Virant, President of Rounder, said “We’ve always been the little label that could, and our new affiliation with Concord – another fiercely independent organization that shares our core values -- ensures that we can remain true to our central calling: discovering and nurturing quality musical talent.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Jazz Meets Classical 18

Tonight is the final performance of Musical Offerings' Jazz Meets Classical - the 18th year! They played last night at the San Antonio Museum of Art:

They will play at the Witte Museum tonight at 6:30pm. There's more on their website, and you can hear an interview with Joan Christenson and Jim Ballentine on Classical Spotlight!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Higdon wins!

Congrats to Jennifer Higdon, who has won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto. Earlier this year Jennifer won a Grammy for her Percussion Concerto.
Enjoy this interview with Higdon with John Clare:

Higdon's Violin Concerto will be performed in Dallas in May 2010, and is also scheduled to be recorded by Hilary Hahn for DG.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pistols at 10 paces?

One of the most famous feuds in Classical Music occurred between Tchaikovsky and his one time teacher Nicholas Rubinstein. The composer causally asked what Rubinstein thought of his first piano concerto and Rubinstein responded as if Tchaikovsky were a student asking for advice. That story is well known, but what happened afterwards? Find out on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, April 8, 2010

TPR Exclusive: Walden Chamber Players

Enjoy a performance of the Waldens in Brahms 3rd Piano Quartet:

Classical Spotlight: Walden Chamber Players from Classical Spotlight on Vimeo.

Guitarist in studio

Tune in this afternoon to learn more about the latest from Kevin McCormick, Songs of the Martin. Kevin came to the TPR studios and talked about his new cd and played for us!

Hear the entire interview on Classical Spotlight, this afternoon at 2pm on KPAC & KTXI.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Walden on Sunday

This Sunday the Walden Chamber Players perform works by Mozart, Dvorak, Previn and Shostakovich at Trinity University. Here are a few of the players and Carl Leafstedt speaking with KPAC host John Clare:

The concert is Sunday, April 11th, 3pm at Ruth Taylor Recital Hall.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Concerto Aria @ UTSA

Join TPR host John Clare at UTSA Recital Hall tonight at 7:30pm as he emcees for the 16th Annual Concerto Aria Competition concert. Eugene Dowdy leads the orchestra & soloists in Brahms, Bowen, Donizetti, Weber, and Puccini.
Hear the Classical Spotlight interview with Dowdy & Clare here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Young Composers Win!

ASCAP Foundation President Paul Williams has announced the recipients of the 2010 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Awards. The young composers will be recognized at the annual ASCAP Concert Music Awards at The Times Center in New York on May 27, 2010.
Commenting on the awards, Paul Williams said, “The ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Awards program provides recognition and cash awards to gifted young composers of Concert Music. There were 730 submissions this year and our dedicated jury selected 37 composers between the ages of 13 and 29 years of age. We congratulate the recipients and thank our ASCAP composer judges for their efforts to select these talented young creators, who represent the bright future of American Concert Music.”
The ASCAP composer/judges were Kathryn Alexander, Steven Burke, Chen Yi, Daniel Felsenfeld, Kamran Ince, Philip Rothman, Christopher Theofanidis,and Aleksandra Vrebalov.
Established in 1979, with funding from the Jack and Amy Norworth Memorial Fund, The ASCAP Foundation Young Composer Awards program grants cash prizes to young Concert Music composers up to 30 years of age whose works are selected through a juried national competition. These composers may be American citizens, permanent residents, or students possessing US Student Visas.
Morton Gould, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, served as President of ASCAP and The ASCAP Foundation from 1986 – 1994. Gould, an eminent and versatile American composer, was a child prodigy whose first composition was published by G. Schirmer when he was only six years of age. To honor Gould’s lifelong commitment to encouraging young creators, the annual ASCAP Foundation Young Composer program was dedicated to his memory, following his death in 1996.
The award-winning composers share prizes of approximately $45,000, including the Leo Kaplan Award, in memory of the distinguished attorney who served as ASCAP Special Distribution Advisor, the Charlotte V. Bergen Scholarship for a composer 18 years of age or younger, and grants from The ASCAP Foundation Jack and Amy Norworth Fund. Jack Norworth wrote such standards as "Shine On Harvest Moon" and "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." The Awards are also sponsored by Avid, the company who creates technology that people use to make the most listened to, most watched and most loved media in the world, which generously awards the recipients with a complimentary copy of Sibelius software.
The 2010 Morton Gould Young Composer Award recipients are listed with their current residence, and place of origin: Samuel Carl Adams of New Haven, CT (San Francisco, CA); Travis Alford of Watertown, MA (Rocky Mount, NC); Preben Antonsen of New Haven, CT (Seattle, WA); Karl Blench of Houston, TX (Providence, RI); Stephen Cabell of New York, NY (Owensboro, KY); Christopher Cerrone New Haven, CT (Huntington, NY); Louis Chiappetta Cleveland, OH (White Plains, NY); Henry L. Dorn, III of Little Rock, AR; Ted Goldman of New York, NY; Takuma Itoh of Ithaca, NY (Hiratsuka, Japan); Adrian Knight of New Haven, CT (Stockholm, Sweden); Matti Kovler of Boston, MA (Moscow, Russia); Visnja Krzic of Los Angeles, CA (Belgrade, Serbia); Wlad Marhulets of New York, NY (Minsk, Belarus); Missy Mazzoli of Brooklyn, NY (Abington, PA); Eric Nathan of Ithaca, NY (New York, NY); Garth K. Neustadter of Manitowoc, WI (Green Bay, WI); Nicholas S. Omiccioli of South Kansas City, MO (Scott AFB, IL); Aaron Severini of New York, NY (Greenfield, MA); Jonathan Sokol of Bloomington, IN (Cleveland, OH); Christopher Stark of Ithaca, NY (St. Ignatius, MT); Wang Lu of New York, NY (Xi’ an, China); Conrad Winslow of New York, NY (Homer, AK); Daniel Wohl of Brooklyn, NY (Paris, France); Peiying Yuanof Kansas City, MO (Singapore); and Zhou Juan of Kansas City, MO (Xinjiang, China).
The youngest ASCAP Foundation Composer Award recipients range in age from 13 to 17 and are listed by state of residence: Tim Callobre, age 16 (CA); Thomas Feng, age 15 (CA); Phillip Golub, age 17 (CA); Peng-Peng Gong, age 17 (NY); Saad Haddad,age 17 (CA); Molly Joyce, age 17 (PA); Yeeren I. Low, age 13 (PA); Thomas Reeves, age 15 (NY); Conrad Tao, age 15 (NY); Daniel Valentine, age 17 (NV); and Robert Yaman, age 16 (MI).
The following composers received Honorable Mention: Carolyn Chen of La Jolla, CA (Redbank, NJ); Stephen Feigenbaum of Winchester, MA (Cambridge, MA); David Kirkland Garnerof Durham, NC (Atlanta, GA); Aaron Gervais of San Francisco, CA (Edmonton, Canada); Polina Nazaykinskaya of New Haven, CT (Togliatti, Russia); Elizabeth Ogonek of Garfield, NJ (Anoka, MN); Gitty H. Razaz of New York, NY (Tehran, Iran); Peter Thompson of Severna Park, MD (St. Paul, MN); and Feinan Wang of New Haven, CT (Zhejiang, China).
In the youngest category, the following composers received Honorable Mention: Yihan Chen, age 15 (IN); Graham Cohen, age 11 (AZ); Andrew Hsu age 15 (PA); Timothy Laciano, age 16 (NJ); Siddarth Viswanathan, age 17 (NJ); and Seho Youngage 12 (MA).

Friday, April 2, 2010

It was the Best of Times and the.....

Before his marriage to Clara Wieck in 1840 Robert Schumann was miserable and ecstatic. Fuelled by Champagne, loneliness and his unmatched imagination, Schumann's music from this period is startling, otherworldly and deeply poetic. Explore that Poetic World this Sunday afternoon at 5 on the Piano.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Fanfare for the Common Violist

For your first day of April 2010, we thought you might enjoy this performance:

New premium

Become a member of Texas Public Radio, and today only, receive a dvd of Baby Stockhausen!

Baby Stockhausen from John Clare on Vimeo.