Wednesday, May 11, 2011
In 2008 Jaap van Zweden became Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, bringing years of experience as Concertmaster of the legendary Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam to Texas.
Now Jaap van Zweden and the DSO are in New York, playing a concert at Carnegie Hall as part of the inaugural Spring for Music festival, an event that draws its participants from program proposals submitted by orchestras around the country.
This evening the DSO performs Steven Stucky's August 4, 1964. Here is an excerpt of the program notes.
The Dallas Symphony commissioned this work in observance of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s 100th birthday in August 2008. August 4, 1964 explores the epic tragedy of the larger-than-life, Texas-born politician. His legacy in civil rights is admirable. His escalation of the Vietnam War remains controversial. Taken together, those two issues encapsulate the turbulent 1960s.
For complete program notes, visit Spring for Music, and as you listen below, feel free to participate in the online chat with host Fred Child and NPR Music.
Friday, March 11, 2011
During this 130th anniversary year of the birth of Béla Bartók (born March 25, 1881), 99.5 All Classical celebrates the groundbreaking Hungarian composer with a series of on demand performances and features.
New England Conservatory Philharmonia
The Concerto for Orchestra, one of Béla Bartók's most enduring and popular masterpieces, was commissioned by conductor Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Performed for the first time in December 1944, it remains a regular fixture on orchestra programs around the world, and on March 9, 2011, Benjamin Zander conducted a performance at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall, with the NEC Philharmonia.
Listen On Demand
Courtney Lewis conducts one of Boston's most exciting orchestras, Discovery Ensemble, in Bartók's kaleidoscopic Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. 99.5 All Classical host Brian McCreath talks with Lewis about the piece, with a walk-through of each of the movements, all recorded in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio.
Listen On Demand
Duke Bluebeard's Castle
In 1911, Bartók completed a one-act opera based on Charle Perrault's French fairy tale "Bluebeard," further revising it before its first performance in Budapest in 1918. A dark, pyschologically rich piece, Brian Bell offers a guided tour.
(image: Gustave Doré's Barbe Bleue, courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Hear a guided tour at Backstage with Brian Bell
Takács Quartet, Muzsikás, and Márta Sebestyén
One of the premiere string quartets on today's concert stages joins forces with a legendary Hungarian folk ensemble and equally legendary Hungarian folk singer to explore the roots of Bartók's music.
Listen On Demand
Pianist Hung-Kuan Chen
Recorded in 2008 in 99.5 All Classical's Fraser Performance Studio, Hung-Kuan Chen performs a piece that combines Bartók's fascination with folk music and his evolving perspective of the piano as a percussion instrument, the Out of Doors Suite, in a program that also includes music by Brahms and Ravel.
Listen On Demand
Violinist Lara St. John and Pianist Anton Kuerti at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival
Recorded on May 14, 2009, at St. James Church during the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, Lara St. John and Anton Kuerti perform Bartók's Rhapsody No. 2, Sz. 89, BB 96, written in 1928, part of a program that also includes music by Beethoven, Franck, Hindson, Ravel, and Liszt.
Listen On Demand
Friday, February 25, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
From the Top, based at the New England Conservatory in Boston, searches for the most dynamic and accomplished young musicians across the country. For this week's program, though, the search didn't have to go far.
The Commonwealth has a rich history of stellar music education programs, from public schools to extra-curricular college-based organizations to hundreds of private instructors, and several young people who have come through those programs are featured with host Christopher O'Riley on Saturday at 11am and Sunday at 5pm, including
18-year-old mezzo-soprano Samantha Hankey, a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award winner from Marshfield, who sings Charles Gounod's "Que fais-tu, blanche tourterelle," from Roméo et Juliette.
16-year-old cellist Jonah Ellsworth, a student at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, who performs the fourth movement from Brahms’s Trio in A minor, Op. 114, with special guest clarinetist Eran Egozy, co-founder of Harmonix Music Systems, the company that created the Rock Band and Guitar Hero video games.
15-year-old pianist Mackenzie Melemed from Paxton, who is a sophomore at Bancroft School in Worcester and performs Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No. 3 in A minor, Op. 28.
The Walnut Hill Sextet, an ensemble from the Walnut Hill School in Natick made up of 18-year-old flutist Michal Zeleny from Fort Myers, Florida, 17-year-old oboist Samuel Waring from Belmont, Massachusetts, 17-year-old clarinet player Nicholas Davies from Nantucket, Massachusetts, 18-year-old bassoon player David Cornelius from Jacksonville, Florida, 17-year-old French horn player Natasha Ramanujam from Fremont, California, and pianist Hai-Yun Song from China, who perform Poulenc's Sextet for Piano and Winds.
For more on the program, visit From the Top, and tune in on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 11am, and Sunday, Feb. 27 at 5pm.
By Brian McCreath | Sunday, February 20, 2011
Earlier this week, on Presidents Day, we offered a new set of choral pieces that pay tribute to several US Presidents through the words they spoke or wrote. They were from a project dreamed up by Judith Clurman, conductor of Essential Voices USA, who was inspired to commission the series as a result of her commitment to music, to politics, and to education.
As we talked through this project here at 99.5 All Classical, I couldn't help but be struck by the dichotomy of the character of these pieces and the character of our current political climate. The words Clurman found and the music they inspired are reminders that, in the midst of bitter political battles playing out in Washington, D.C, Madison, Wisconsin, Indianapolis, Indiana, and many other places around the country, there are and have been extraordinary people who have approached politics as a way to improve lives and create a better society.
I was also reminded of a few amazing resources about specific presidents that I've found valuable in making their impact and legacy more tangible. I've listed them below, along with five of the pieces that you can listen to on demand. See what you think, and feel free to add your own comments and suggestions for learning more about presidents.
And to hear all 16 of the pieces included in the project, on demand, along with interviews with Clurman and several of the composers, visit NPR Music's Deceptive Cadence.
George Washington - “I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.”
1st President: 1789-1797
Washington Round, by Michael Gilberston
John Adams - “I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but the wise men ever rule under this roof.”
2nd President: 1797–1801
John Adams’ Prayer, by Jake Heggie
John Adams, David McCullough's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Massachusetts's own John Adams, an incredible work in its own right, inspired HBO to create an equally incredible television biography of this vastly underrated president. The series not only includes vivid portrayals of Adams and his wife Abigail by, respectively, Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney, it also gives you a sometimes difficult to watch picture of life in colonial America. For more info, visit HBO's John Adams.
Abraham Lincoln - “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”
16th President: 1861-1865
The ballet is stronger than the bullet, by Jason Robert Brown
Garry Wills's 1992 book, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, is invaluable in many ways. The 272-word Gettysburg Address is so ubiquitous as an item of history that it may occasionally lose its power, but this illuminating book reinforces the staggering work of genius the speech is by weaving in philosophy, history, and cultural practices of the time. The number of words written about Lincoln over the decades is practically infinite, but for me, this one book is all that's needed to confirm him as our greatest president.
Dwight David Eisenhower - “History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.”
33rd President: 1953-1961
Eisenhower Round, by Paul Moravec
A recent issue of The Atlantic featured an article entitled "The Tyranny of Defence Inc.," written by Andrew J. Bacevich, in which a sobering portrait is drawn of a Dwight D. Eisenhower as he left office. More prophetic than even he himself knew, Eisenhower comes across as a man at once responsible for much of the dangerous state of our current geo-political situation, and wise enough to recognize that danger. Ultimately, it's a complexity not often credited to Ike.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy - “The best road to progress is freedom’s road.”
35th President: 1961-1963
Freedom’s Road, by Robert Beaser
Friday, February 4, 2011