Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two new DVD releases are a perfect pair

A painter may paint a picture, a composer may write a beautiful melody for solo piano, but in the world of the theater (and here I count motion pictures as well), one person may have a vision, but production is a collaborative art. W. S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan worked together on a total of 14 comic operas, of which “The Mikado” is far and away the most popular, and arguably the best. Two new releases from the Criterion Collection highlight the work of Gilbert and Sullivan in different ways. The 1939 screen adaptation of “The Mikado” is now on DVD and new to Blu-ray, and British director Mike Leigh’s “Topsy-Turvy” (1999) also gets a deluxe DVD and Blu-ray treatment. That film dramatizes the writing, production, and premiere of “The Mikado.”

It’s hard to explain the hold "The Mikado" had on popular culture at one point, but Gilbert and Sullivan tapped into a fascination for all things Eastern when they wrote the work. “The Mikado” was used to sell everything from lampshades to soap in the 1880s, and even into the late ‘30s, when the feature film of the opera was produced, "The Mikado" was being interpreted on stage in a myriad of different ways.

The DVD/Blu-ray release of “The Mikado” from Criterion includes several special features that enrich one’s experience of the film and the opera. Mike Leigh, whose film “Topsy-Turvy” recounts the original D’Oyly Carte production, offers his thoughts on the opera. And scholars Josephine Lee and Ralph MacPhail Jr. speak at length on the film, the history of “The Mikado,” and its comparison to what Japan was really like (answer: not much).

British director Mike Leigh, known for contemporary chamber dramas, was looking for a way to tell a story about “what we do,” he says, referring to the world of film and the theater. To do so, he turned to the famous partnership between lyricist W. S. Gilbert and composer Sir Arthur Sullivan. Leigh says on the commentary track that accompanies “Topsy-Turvy” on DVD and Blu-ray that he was amazed by how much blood and sweat they poured in to something that was so trivial as their 14 operettas, that were among the most popular works of their day. But of course they’re not entirely trivial; Gilbert and Sullivan used their fanciful settings to satirize and mock the establishment.

François Truffaut once said that movies should express either the joy of making cinema or the agony of it. In the case of “Topsy-Turvy,” agony may be too strong a word. An artist's life can be a lonely and melancholy one, even as in the midst of public adulation. And it's hard work. Agony or joy? Perhaps it’s a little of both at the same time.

Read the full reviews of "Topsy-Turvy" and "The Mikado" online here:

[Still from "Topsy-Turvy" courtesty of The Criterion Collection]

--Nathan Cone

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Masterclass from Master Teacher

This Saturday, enjoy the talents of area violinists as they learn from San Antonio Symphony guest artist Robert McDuffie.
McDuffie heads the McDuffie Center for Strings in Georgia as well as the Rome Chamber Music Festival.
A Grammy nominated artist, McDuffie has appeared as soloist with most of the major orchestras of the world, including the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics, the Chicago, San Francisco, National, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, St. Louis, Montreal, and Toronto Symphonies, the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Minnesota Orchestras, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the North German Radio Orchestra, the Düsseldorf Symphony, the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Hamburg Symphony, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala, Santa Cecilia Orchestra of Rome, Venice Baroque Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico, Orquesta Sinfónica de Mineria, and all of the major orchestras of Australia.

Russell Hill Rogers String Residency Master Class
2010-11 Guest Artist: Robert McDuffie, violin
Saturday, April 2, 2011
11 a.m. Majestic Theatre

Out of this world Debussy

NASA is exploring Mercury and images are coming back like this one:

How does this relate to a classical music blog? The large crater is named Debussy, as craters on Mercury are named after artists, musicians and writers. We also thought you might enjoy this movement from Gustav Holst's The Planets:

Ein Hundeleben

Do you have a pet who keeps you company? Here is a pooch that entertains as well!

When will we see him on David Letterman's Stupid Pet Tricks?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Music to their ears

San Antonio area music students will receive a chance to make music that they might not have had otherwise. Local non-profit organization Music In The Schools is donating 35 musical instruments this week to local band, orchestra and Mariachi school programs.

Schools receiving donated instruments are:
McNair Middle School (South West ISD) – 2 Flutes, 1 Trumpet, 1 Xylophone
Jackson Middle School (Northeast ISD) – 1 French Horn
Stahl Elementary School (Northeast ISD) – 5 Guitars, 1 Percussion Kit
Foster Elementary School (San Antonio ISD) – 5 Keyboards
Boerne Middle School (Boerne ISD) – 1 Cello, 1 Violin
Wrenn Middle School (Edgewood ISD) – 2 Trombones, 1 Alto Saxophone
Harlandale Middle School (Harlandale ISD) – 1 Flute, 2 Trumpets
Harris Academy (San Antonio ISD) – 1 Trumpet, 3 Clarinets
Ed White Middle School (Northeast ISD) – 2 Trumpets
D’Hanis High School (D’Hanis ISD) – 2 Clarinets
Irving Academy (San Antonio ISD) – 3 Trumpets

Area public school music teachers have requested over 480 musical instruments for their music programs. Music In The Schools is working to collect new and used instruments from the community and distribute to young musicians. All instrument repairs are courtesy of Alamo Music Center.
Contact Music In The Schools at 210-386-8065 or

Classical Green Thumb?

Keeping KPAC & KTXI on for your pets is a great idea, but it might be just the extra something your plants will enjoy!
Check out this unusual concert:
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed a three-hour recital in Cadogan Hall in London last week, with 33 musicians playing pieces including Mozart's Symphony Number 40, it announced Thursday.
In front of them were more than 100 different varieties of plants and bulbs including geraniums, fuschias and perennials.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mapping out a Strategy

Serious Music got big and very philosophical at the end of the 19th century. Mahler's Symphonies are just one example. A friend of Gustav, the piano virtuoso Ferruccio Busoni also wanted to try the waters of big, serious minded compositions with his Concerto in C Op. 39. This massive work stretches more than an hour and has the pianist work hard just about all the time. The music starts before one's birth and takes us through head strong youth, a growing maturity and success, to finally old age and the recognition of the infinite and a dream of existence in the afterlife. To help explain the path of the concerto Busoni sketched out an architectural drawing that shows us a symbolic map of this musical journey.

On the Piano this Sunday hear the second part of this amazing work, with one of the great performances of this highly challenging work when John Ogden takes on one of the supreme high water marks of Romanticism this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

March: Composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich

"There are not many composers in the modern world who possess the lucky combination of writing music of substance and at the same time exercising an immediate appeal to mixed audiences. Zwilich offers this happy combination of purely technical excellence and a distinct power of communication."
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, is widely considered to be one of America's leading composers. She studied at the Florida State University and the Juilliard School, where her major teachers were Roger Sessions and Elliott Carter. She also studied violin with Richard Burgin and Ivan Galamian and was a member of the American Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski.
Zwilich is the recipient of numerous prizes and honors, including the 1983 Pulitzer Prize in Music (the first woman ever to receive this coveted award). She was elected to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame and the American Academy of Arts and Letters and, in 1995, was named to the first Composer's Chair in the history of Carnegie Hall. Musical America designated her the 1999 Composer of the Year. A prolific composer in all media except opera, Zwilich has produced four symphonies and other orchestral essays, numerous concertos for a wide variety of solo instruments, and a sizable canon of chamber and recital pieces. Her works are commissioned and played regularly by the leading orchestras and ensembles throughout the world.
Zwilich marked the beginning of her 70th birthday season – featuring two major premieres, recordings, and performances of her work across the country – with the world premiere of Symphony No. 5, commissioned by the Juilliard School, and performed October 27, 2008, by the Juilliard Orchestra conducted by James Conlon at Carnegie Hall, New York, NY. The new symphony’s premiere launched a season that concluded with the world premiere of another major work, the Septet for Piano Trio and String Quartet, performed by the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio and the Miami String Quartet. In addition, a disc of three of Zwilich’s works performed by artists from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center was released by Koch Records, the Claremont Trio is released a new disc titled American Trios which will include Zwilich’s Piano Trio, and a half-hour television program of her work Peanuts Gallery, which has been broadcast over local PBS stations nationwide almost 700 times, recently received an award from the National Educational Telecommunications Association.

Host John Clare spoke to Zwilich at her home in Riverdale, NY about composition, awards and creativity.
Listen to the interview in two parts:

Part 1 [mp3 file]
Part 2 [mp3 file]

You might also enjoy this selection of the Boston Trio:

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Mahler Piano concerto?

Gustav Mahler didn't compose a piano concerto, but his friend, Ferruccio Busoni, who often joked about Mahler's gigantic Symphonies, created a heaven storming work of his own, the Concerto in C. Spanning 70 minutes Busoni explores the human experience from before birth to our dying wish. A musical conception even Gustav Mahler would proud of.

Hear the first half of this mind expanding musical experience this Sunday at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St Patrick's Day

On this seventeenth of March, we wanted to share an interview with John O'Conor about his album of Irish music: [mp3 file] (Originally recorded and aired in March 2010)
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

iCello? Uccello!

Matt Haimovitz is a world class cellist - who is in San Antonio, today, Tuesday March 15th to play at San Antone Cafe (formerly Casbeers) with his group, Uccello.

They stopped by the TPR Studios to talk with host John Clare about their SXSW tour: New Orleans, San Antonio and Austin. Listen to John and Matt here. [mp3 file]

Here is video of the cellists playing at TPR:

YOSA pwned Lonely Heart

We're big fans of YOSA, and after traveling around the world with them last summer to China we knew that they were capable of many things.  This fall they shared the artistry of Sharon Robinson and Jamie Laredo and hosted the Monterrey Youth Orchestra in a world class celebration on Mexico...but last night they rocked! Really.
Take a look and listen to Troy Peters with the YOSA Philharmonic and rocker Jon Anderson:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Blarin' o the green!

On behalf of President and Mrs. Obama, the White House has extended an invitation to the National Chamber Choir of Ireland, to perform at the St. Patrick’s Day reception at the White House in Washington DC this year. The program will include the world premiere performance of Gné na Gaeltachta by Irish composer Bill Whelan which was written specially for the occasion.
The National Chamber Choir of Ireland (left) is the country’s premier vocal ensemble and has received plaudits from audiences and critics alike from around the world. The conductor for this very special performance will be young Irish choral director Orla Flanagan.
The Choir is currently on the crest of a wave with an exciting diary of national events for the year, a recent CD release (One Day Fine) on lyric fm, another to follow in the autumn on harmonia mundi and international work involving two visits to the US – the first being this Washington trip.
On March 17, the Choir will perform at the St. Patrick’s Day Reception at the White House in the presence of President and Mrs. Obama. The St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations at the White House will also involve the Taoiseach presenting the U.S. President with a Waterford crystal bowl filled with shamrock, in a longstanding tradition celebrating the friendship between Ireland and America.

March: Composer Augusta Read Thomas

"Augusta Read Thomas's impressive body of works embodies unbridled passion and fierce poetry. Championed by such luminaries as Barenboim, Rostropovich, Boulez, and Knussen, she rose early to the top of her profession. Later, as an influential teacher at Eastman, Northwestern and Tanglewood, chairperson of the American Music Center, and the Chicago Symphony's longest-serving resident composer, she has become one of the most recognizable and widely loved figures in American Music."
Augusta Read Thomas is one of the most outstanding younger generation American composers. Augusta has had her work conducted by everyone from Boulez to Barenboim to Knussen and was Mead Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra 1997-2006. She was the Wyatt Professor of Music at Northwestern University and in 2005, was the Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Music Center. Her work is published exclusively by G. Schirmer.
Thomas has been appointed as University Professor of Composition in the Department of Music and the College at the University of Chicago. University Professors are selected for internationally recognized eminence in their fields as well as for their potential for high impact across the University. Thomas will become the 16th person ever to hold a University Professorship, and the fifth currently at the University. Thomas is widely considered to be among the world's most accomplished and original contemporary composers. She has won acclaim for the dramatic, spontaneous quality of her work and her masterful use of instrumental color. Her extensive body of work has won praise from conductors, performers and music critics worldwide.
Clare and Thomas
Augusta will be in residence at Trinity University, sponsored by the Stieren Arts Enrichment Series. Her residency will include meetings with student composers and a lecture and performance (by the Walden Chamber Players) of her music on Friday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall. The closing concert by the Walden Chamber Players will feature some of her music as well as works by Turina and Brahms on Sunday, March 27 at 3 p.m., also in the Ruth Taylor Recital Hall.
Host John Clare spoke with Thomas in early 2010 as she prepared a new work for the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Listen to their conversation here. [mp3 file]
You might also enjoy her talk filmed by the Boston Symphony:

You might also want to hear some of Gusty's incredible music, played here by Rachel Barton Pine:

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tale of Feathers, Fur, and Fins

Recently host John Clare joined the Symphony of the Hills to narrate Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens with poetry by Ogden Nash.  Here is their performance:

Top of the World, Ma

When Franz Liszt started his Opus 1 of 48 etudes he was following in the tradition of Bach and his teacher Karl Czerny, when he revised the 12 etudes in 1838 he was considered the greatest pianist alive and he peppered the works with extra notes and difficulties. Years later, retired from concert life, the works were revised again, tightened up and to help inspire those struggling to learn the works, some helpful titles.

On the piano this Sunday Randy Anderson compares the three different versions of Liszt's Transcendental Etudes 9 through 12 and if there is enough time a listen to some of the composer's Concert Etudes.

Hear the Virtuosic Liszt on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Soundtrack review: "Jane Eyre"

“Jane Eyre” has been filmed for the screen 18 times over the past century of film. I must confess, I have not seen any of them (though I have seen “I Walked With a Zombie,” which is loosely based on “Jane Eyre”). But listening to Dario Marianelli’s soundtrack for the newest version, starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender, may at last lure me to an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s most famous work.

Marianelli, whose previous work includes the Oscar-winning score for “Atonement,” writes in the liner notes to the soundtrack disc that he wanted to make the presence of the imprisoned Bertha Mason known musically in the film. The score opens on a note of melancholy, and harmonies that reminded me just a little of early music, but with the complexity and musical development of John Corigliano’s work. Jack Liebeck’s violin is the featured instrument throughout the score. Early on, it cries, but as Jane begins to free herself from the past, it begins to sing instead.

There’s a heavy emphasis on strings; I don’t remember hearing much in the way of brass or percussion throughout the score, though there are moments of solo piano. Sometimes that’s a dangerous road to travel on too long, as there can be a kind of mind-numbing sameness about the music throughout. But Marianelli develops his themes enough to keep one interested. “Jane Eyre” provides a nice “soundtrack” for working, driving, or perhaps – if I decide to find out – a story by Charlotte Brontë.

--Nathan Cone

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Journey the silk road

There's a great chance to hear one of the most creative and unique ensembles - The Silk Road Ensemble - later this month at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio.
Founded in 1998 by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Silk Road Project is a nonprofit arts and educational organization that takes inspiration from the historic Silk Road trading routes as a modern metaphor for multicultural and interdisciplinary exchange.
The Project presents performances by the acclaimed Silk Road Ensemble, develops new music, engages in cross-cultural exchanges and residencies, leads workshops for students, and partners with leading cultural institutions to create a wide variety of educational programs and materials.
Watch an interview with Yo-Yo Ma here on youtube about the ensemble. This is a live recording just a few years after the group had formed:

The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma performs Thursday, March 31st at 7:30pm.  More information, including tickets, is here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

100 years of Hovhaness

Today marks the 100th birthday of Alan Hovhaness. Hovhaness is one of America's most idiosyncratic musical pioneers who sought a musical reconciliation between East and West - spiritual and mundane. Born near Boston, to an Armenian father and a mother of Scottish ancestry, his upbringing was more or less conventionally American. As a boy he composed in secret, once remarking "My family thought writing music was abnormal, so they would confiscate my music if they caught me in the act." An early musical mentor and personal friend was Sibelius.
The composers receptivity to Armenian culture was reignited around 1940 when he became organist at Boston's Armenian cathedral. Here he was exposed to early liturgical Armenian music as well as the works of the composer-priest Komitas Vartabed. In 1944 a series of works with Armenian titles or subject matter. Essentially comprising Hovhaness's "Armenian period", these bold works have huge monodic melodies over static drones somewhat foreshadowing the Minimalists of the late 1960s. Hovhaness himself described this music as "giant melodies in simple and complex modes around stationery or movable tonal centres". From 1944 too, he introduced his spirit murmur, where musical phrases are repeated over and over by each player independently to produce a buzzing textural blur. This so called ad libitum technique was later used by the European Avant Garde (beginning with Lutoslawksi and Ligeti in the 1960s). The Armenian phase reached its zenith with the 24-movement(!) St. Vartan Symphony.
In the 1950s, Hovhanesss style became more Westernised, but some Armenian (and Indian) influences remained. Noteworthy is his pioneering use of Indian cyclic rhythm concepts. In this decade he achieved widespread recognition, particularly with his Symphony Mysterious Mountain, premiered by Leopold Stokowski and recorded by Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony - ironically one of his less exotic-sounding scores.
Following extended visits to India, Korea and Japan during 1959-62 to study the ancient Karnatic, Ah-ak, and Gagaku musical traditions, Hovhaness embarked on musical style incorporating Indo-Oriental idioms throughout the 1960s, a period when his music was at its most distant from Western models. For example, his Symphony No.16 is scored for both a Western orchestra and a Korean traditional ensemble including a solo part for kayagum, a sort of zither. As always, his music remained tonal, or more correctly, modal.
From the 1970s Eastern influences receded somewhat, though Hovhaness remained very prolific, reaching around Opus 450 by the time of his death. His output comprises music in almost every conceivable genre, from large scale oratorios, operas and symphonies down to piano sonatas and solo works for Oriental instruments.
Broadly speaking, Hovhaness wrote highly communicative music which is contemplative, rarely harsh, and often with an implied or explicit mystical theme. Such ideas were very unfashionable in the 1950s and 60s, but since the dawn of mainstream cross-cultural and new age trends in the 1970s he has acquired a growing band of devoted admirers, an audience not dissimilar in its musical tastes to the many admirers of later spiritual minimalists such as Arvo Part and John Tavener.

I first heard Hovhaness' music when I performed his And God Created Great Whales in a region orchestra for high school. I immediately started searching for his music and found the Prayer of St. Gregory, Mysterious Mountain and more on LPs. I was so happy that many of his works were out on Crystal Records, and started collecting them. - TPR Host John Clare

You can read an interview with Hovhaness and Bruce Duffie here.

YOSA rocks!

The YOSA Philharmonic and Troy Peters are getting ready to rock - yes, rock, and by YES we mean singer Jon Anderson!
Monday, March 14th, YOSA will perform at the Majestic starting at 8pm with the rock legend.  Check out the kids playing Owner of a Lonely Heart:
KABB Fox San Antonio :: Top Stories - YOSA to Perform with Rock Band Yes

We'll talk with Troy about the concert this Thursday (1pm on KPAC and KTXI) on Classical Spotlight.  YOSA is also featured on GrouponSA for ticket savings. (Today and through this Thursday only, you can purchase Jon Anderson tickets for only $20 ((a $45 value)) [Groupon is a free e-mail coupon service. You can signup online at to start receivnig daily coupons in your area.] After you purchase your Groupon, you will be able to redeem your coupon at the Majestic Theatre box office, starting on March 14 at 5:30 p.m.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

March: Composer Judith Lang Zaimont

Judith Lang Zaimont’s music is internationally acclaimed for its drama and expressiveness and has been programmed around the globe by major ensembles such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore and Mississippi Symphonies, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Czech Radio Orchestra, Kremlin Chamber Orchestra, Women’s Philharmonic, Connecticut Opera, New York Virtuosi, Pro Arte Chamber Orchestras (New York and Boston), American Guild of Organists, Harlem String Quartet, International Double Reed Society, World Viola Congress, Norway’s Bergen Wind Quintet, Zagreb Saxophone Quartet and others.
Her 100+ works cover almost every genre: three symphonies, chamber opera, music for wind ensemble, works for solo voice and choral ensembles, and solo instrumental and chamber pieces. Zaimont has been widely honored through composer prizes (including the Gottschalk International Competition First Prize: Gold Medal and International McCollin Competition First Prize), and awards (including a Guggenheim Fellowship, 2003 Aaron Copland Award, and 2005 Bush Foundation Fellowship); two of her works were named to Century Lists: Doubles – 1993 (oboe and piano: Chamber Music America), and Sonata – 1999 (Piano & Keyboard magazine); and her pieces have been selected and commissioned as required repertoire for international performance competitions in voice, piano and conducting. Her music is widely recorded (Naxos, Koch Classical, Harmonia Mundi, MSR, Albany, Leonarda, Arkiv Music, and 4-Tay ) and her principal publisher is Subito Music Corp.
Zaimont is a distinguished teacher, formerly a member of the faculties of Queens College and Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory of Music, where she was named "Teacher of the Year" in 1985. She held the post of Professor of Music and Chair of the Music Department at Adelphi University from 1989-91, and from 1992 to 2005 she served as Professor of Composition at the University of Minnesota School of Music, as well as division chair and Scholar of the College of Liberal Arts. Since retiring from full-time college teaching in fall 2005, she continues to be active as clinician, frequent adjudicator and masterclass presenter across the US and abroad. Zaimont is also the creator and editor-in-chief of the critically acclaimed book series, The Musical Woman: An International Perspective (3 vols., Greenwood Press). For the books, she received a research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1989) and the 1993 First Prize in the international musicology awards, the Pauline Alderman Prizes.
In late 2009, John Clare met up with Zaimont in Baltimore where the Peabody Conservatory was preparing the world premiere of her piano concerto.
Listen to their discussion here. [mp3 file]

See and hear the world premiere of her piano concerto, Solar Traveller with the Peabody Wind Ensemble, Dr. Harlan D. Parker conducting and soloist Timothy Hoft. Filmed by John Clare October 7th, 2009 on location in Baltimore, MD.

Movement 2

Movement 3

JLZ: Piano Concerto 3 from John Clare on Vimeo.

Arts come to light!

We're looking forward to this Saturday and a celebration of the arts in San Antonio with LUMINARIA 2011! Follow them on twitter @LuminariaSA or find them on Facebook.
Listen for another wonderful collaboration with The Source and Classical Spotlight this Thursday at 12:30pm on KSTX and 1pm on KPAC & KTXI for an indepth look at Luminaria!
Here is San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro speaking about Luminaria:

Friday, March 4, 2011

How hard can it be?

OK, so you are the greatest pianist in Europe, what do you play? A 15 year old Franz Liszt started a set of extraordinary etudes to tax even his mighty powers.

On the Piano his Sunday, a listen to the many pianists brave enough to tackle the different versions of Liszt's Transcendental Etudes; hint: most pianists today play the third and easiest edition. Hear musical mayhem and thousands of notes on the Piano, this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Levine leaves BSO

BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe announced today that as of September 1, 2011, James Levine will step down from his current role as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a position he has held since 2004. Discussions between the BSO and Maestro Levine are underway to define an ongoing new role for Mr. Levine. Mr. Volpe has also announced that the BSO will immediately form a search committee to begin the process of appointing the next Boston Symphony Music Director.

“The BSO has been incredibly fortunate to have had one of the greatest conductors of our time at its helm since 2004,” said BSO Managing Director Mark Volpe. “That being said, given Maestro Levine’s health issues, this has been a challenging time for all of us in the Boston Symphony Orchestra family, especially our beloved orchestra and devoted audiences.”
“We wish Maestro Levine the absolute best as he steps down from his role as BSO Music Director to tend to the health issues that have forced him to be away from the music-making he so profoundly loves,” continues Mr. Volpe. “We look forward to continuing our conversation with Jim about defining a new role where he can focus solely on the music and defining artistically stimulating projects that would be meaningful to him and the orchestra, building upon his BSO legacy thus far. As we begin the search to appoint the next BSO Music Director, it is imperative that we take this time to express our deepest gratitude to Jim for the extraordinary performances that have inspired his loyal listeners in Boston and around the world.”
“Given the challenges regarding my health and the ensuing absences they have forced me to take from my work with the BSO, I believe it is best for everyone, but especially the orchestra and our wonderful audiences, for me to step down as music director,” said James Levine. “I make this decision knowing that I need to focus more of my attention on getting back to better health, so when I do return to the BSO podium I can continue the important work the orchestra and I have done together during the period of my music directorship. As the BSO and I define a new relationship that I hope will benefit all involved, I wish the orchestra the very best in the search for the next Boston Symphony Music Director. It has been an honor and a privilege to have served in that role these past seven years.”
“With his many accomplishments during his seven years as BSO Music Director, there is no doubt that James Levine will join the ranks of the greatest conductors in the BSO’s 130-year history," said Stephen B. Kay and Robert P. O’Block, co-chairmen of the BSO Board of Trustees. "On behalf of the BSO’s Board of Trustees and Overseers, we want to express our enormous gratitude and deep respect to Maestro Levine for sharing his brilliant musicianship with our orchestra and all of us who cherish the music of the Boston Symphony. We wish him the very best in his continued recovery and look forward to his return to the BSO in a new role that is beneficial to all involved."
“We’ve experienced some of the most meaningful and endearing musical work of our lives under the leadership of James Levine,” said BSO concertmaster Malcolm Lowe. “On behalf of all the musicians of the BSO, our heartfelt best wishes go out to Maestro Levine as he continues to focus on recovering from the health issues that have forced him to take time away from his BSO schedule. We look forward to continuing our very important work and influential collaboration with Maestro Levine when he is able to return to the BSO podium.”
For further information about the BSO 2010-11 season, program details, photos, and artist bios, click here:

Now in his seventh season as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, James Levine is the BSO’s 14th music director since the orchestra’s founding in 1881 and the first American-born conductor to hold that position. In September 2011, he will step down as Boston Symphony Orchestra Music Director. James Levine made his BSO debut in April 1972 and became music director in the fall of 2004, having been named music director designate in October 2001. His wide-ranging programs balance orchestral, operatic, and choral classics with significant music if the 20th and 21st centuries, including newly commissioned works from such leading American composers as Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, John Harbison, Leon Kirchner, Peter Lieberson, Gunther Schuller, and Charles Wuorinen. Mr. Levine and the Boston Symphony Orchestra made their first European tour together following the 2007 Tanglewood season, performing in the Lucerne Festival, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival (in Hamburg), Essen, Dusseldorf, the Berlin Festival, Paris, and the BBC Proms in London. At Tanglewood in 2008 he was Festival Director for the Elliott Carter Centenary Celebration marking the composer’s 100th-birthday year. Mr. Levine and the orchestra recently released a two-disc set of Mozart symphonies (Nos. 14, 18, 20, 39, and 41, Jupiter) on the orchestra’s own label, BSO Classics, following upon their previous releases of Brahms’s German Requiem, and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. Digital releases include Mahler’s Symphony No. 6, and William Bolcom’s Eighth Symphony and Lyric Concerto. All of these recordings were taken from live performances by Maestro Levine and the orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston.
James Levine is also music director of the Metropolitan Opera. Also a distinguished pianist, Maestro Levine is an active chamber music and recital collaborator, especially in Lieder and song repertoire with the world’s great singers.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March: Composer Ursula Mamlok

March is Women's History Month and we'll be celebrating Women composers on KPAC and start, here is a profile on Ursula Mamlok by host John Clare.

"My main concern is that the music should convey the various emotions in it with clarity and conviction. It interests me to accomplish this with a minimum of material, transforming it in such multiple way so as to give the impression of ever-new ideas that are like the flowers of a plant, all related yet each one different."

The American composer Ursula Mamlok is a distinguished representative of the Central European Jewish intellectual culture that was transplanted to the United States as a result of the Holocaust. Mamlok was born in 1928 in Berlin and came to the U.S. in 1941. She studied with George Szell at the Mannes College of Music, and received her B.M. and M.M. from the Manhattan School of Music, where she was a pupil of Vittorio Giannini. Among her other teachers were Roger Sessions, Stefan Wolpe, and Ralph Shapey, who exercised a particularly strong influence on the development of her com-positional technique. Her study of twelve tone music afforded her to employ Arnold Schönberg‘s system, however modified to suit her own work.
Ursula Mamlok taught composition at New York Univer sity, Temple University, City University and over 40 years composition at the Manhattan School of Music. Her work list encompasses over 60 works: for orchestra, chamber music, vocal music, compositions for solo instruments as well as music for children. Her works are published by C.F. Peters New York, Mc Ginnis and Marx, Theodore Presser and Furore. Since 2006, Ursula Mamlok lives at her birthplace, Berlin.

John Clare spoke with Mamlok about her music and the first volume of her music on Bridge Records. Listen to their conversation here. [mp3 file]
Volume Two has now been released on Bridge Records!