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Classical News & Reviews

Review: Philadelphia Orchestra Is In ‘Superb Form’ Under Nézet-Séguin’s Baton

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, December 11, 2017 The Philadelphia Orchestra’s latest Carnegie Hall appearance under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin began exhilaratingly with the New York premiere of Thomas Adès’s newly expanded Suite from Powder Her Face, an orchestral suite ...

Things Are Running AMOC In Boston (And If All Goes As Planned, It Will Be Spreading)

By Doug Hall, Contributing Writer, December 8, 2017 Looking for the re-invention of opera’s traditional image? Look no further, as Boston is becoming a hot-bed of boundary-pushing, inventive, chance-taking artists. Witness the launch of the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) introducing its ...

Review: Brilliant Programming Leads the Way With The Brentano String Quartet At 92nd Street Y

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, December 5, 2017 In the wonderfully warm acoustics of the 92nd Street Y, the exceptional Brentano String Quartet and beloved soprano Dawn Upshaw presented a satisfying Sunday feast that probed the depths of human expression with a few helpings of the First ...

Grand Rapids Symphony Brings More Than Great Music to Carnegie

By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, April 17, 2018 The Grand Rapids Symphony arrives in New York this week for its first Carnegie Hall appearance in thirteen years with 85 players, a 135-member chorus, the world-renowned pianist Nelson Freire and its dynamic conductor Marcelo Lehninger. But according to ...

Review: Martha Graham Dance Company Continues Its Legacy and Ensures ...

By Bethany Hopta, Contributing Writer, April 17, 2018 The Martha Graham Dance Company, the oldest dance company in America, continued its 92nd season with performances of their Scared/Profane program at New York City Center this past weekend. On Saturday evening Janet Eilber, the artistic director of ...

Review: Basil Twist's Aquatic 'Symphonie Fantastique' Is Visually and Sonically ...

By Sheila Kogan, Contributing Writer, April 17, 2018 Twenty years ago, third-generation puppeteer, Basil Twist, decided to create a totally abstract work based on the music of Symphonie Fantastique by Hector Berlioz. This year, HERE, the Off-Broadway theater, has revived the work as part of their 25th ...

Review: The Drama of Mozart's Music (and Life) Fills Geffen ...

By Joanne Sydney Lessner, Contributing Writer, April 16, 2018 The New York Philharmonic’s April 14 screening of Milos Forman’s Oscar-winning movie Amadeus, with the musical score performed live, was bittersweet; Forman died the day before, at eighty-six. Conductor Richard Kaufman dedicated the presentation to Forman, and ...

Jazz Notes: On April 20, Jazz Foundation of America Returns to ...

By Dan Ouellette, Senior Editor ZEALnyc, April 16, 2018 Every year, New York’s nonprofit the Jazz Foundation of America—whose motto is “Saving jazz and blues…one musician at a time”—helps to be a key factor for helping musicians who have faced natural disasters and ...

Review: An Expurgated ‘Carousel’ Nonetheless Thrills

By Christopher Caggiano, Contributing Writer, April 16, 2018 Each year, when I cover Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel in my musical-theater history course at the Boston Conservatory, we have a lengthy discussion about what I call “The Elephant in the Room.” Carousel barker Billy Bigelow hits his ...

Art Break: Freud at the Center for Book Arts, Mixed ...

By A. E. Colas, Contributing Writer, April 16, 2018 Humans and their place within the community, landscape, and the planet in general, is a topic of fascination to artists throughout the centuries. Art Break is looking at several shows opening this week that examine and discuss how ...

From Rio With Love — Grand Rapids Symphony Returns To Carnegie ...

By Joanne Sydney Lessner, Contributing Writer, April 12, 2018 The Grand Rapids Symphony takes the stage at Carnegie Hall on Friday, April 20 for the second time in the orchestra’s 88-year history. Having celebrated its 75th anniversary there in 2005, the orchestra returns with the 140-member Grand Rapids ...

Ecstatic Music Festival Features Diverse Programming and Collaborative Performances

By Leonard Bopp, Contributing Writer, April 12, 2018 Kaufman Music Center’s Ecstatic Music Festival, now in its eighth year, presents collaborative performances from a broad, diverse range of musical groups. As Kaufman Music Center Executive Director Lydia Kontos notes, “since Kaufman Music Center launched the pioneering ...

Review: 'Children of a Lesser God' Continues To Provoke Discussion ...

By Diana Mott, Contributing Writer, April 12, 2018 The much anticipated revival of Children of a Lesser God is a testament to the timelessness of a story about the human struggle to connect and to communicate. Mark Medoff’s Tony, Drama Desk and Olivier Award-winning play made ...

Review: Chanticleer In Concert—Very Pleasant, But Not Entirely Satisfying

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, December 4, 2017 Chanticleer, the award-winning all-male vocal ensemble based in San Francisco, kicked off the national tour of its annual Christmas program this past Friday evening at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue. It was all very ...

Tanglewood Prepares For A Centennial Summer Celebrating Lenny

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, November 21, 2017 New York City is enjoying a season bursting with Leonard Bernstein, as befitting his hundredth birthday, with everything from rare performances of art songs to various interpretations of the great “Kaddish” Symphony. But Bernstein had a ...

Review: Benjamin Grosvenor Dazzles In Recital at 92nd Street Y

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, November 17, 2017 Hailed as a child prodigy who has gone on to a promising solo career, British concert pianist Benjamin Grosvenor dazzled New York audiences on Wednesday at the 92nd Street Y with an ambitious program both rangy and highly rewarding. He is a ...

Review: The Mariinsky Orchestra With Its Massive Sound Is A ‘Marvel’ At Carnegie Hall

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, November 17, 2017 At least three things emerge from the Mariinsky Orchestra’s back-to-back concerts at Carnegie Hall this week. First, the Mariinsky is a world treasure. Second, Sergei Prokofiev is arguably the finest writer of music for orchestra ...

Review: The Swedish Chamber Orchestra Presents A Magnificent ‘Missa Solemnis’ That Transcends At Geffen Hall

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, November 14, 2017 Nearly two centuries after its completion, people still pretty much fall into two camps about Beethoven’s Missa solemnis: they think it’s either one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, or the chaotic leavings of a man who ...

Music In the Digital Age Sparks Creation of the Open Source Music Festival

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, November 10, 2017 Virtuoso pianist Joel Fan, a celebrated champion of new music and member of Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, is launching the Open Source Music Festival at the Lower East Side’s Abrons Art Center on November 16—18. This is a ...

Review: BLO Presents a Historically Hair-Raising and Highly Entertaining World Premiere

By Doug Hall, Contributing Writer, November 10, 2017 For Boston Lyric Opera’s latest production, The Nefarious, Immoral but Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare, the mood is set immediately upon entering the circular rotunda of the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the ...

Review: The American Composers Orchestra Celebrates a Milestone With Successful Premieres

By Joshua Rosenblum, Contributing Writer, November 8, 2017 The American Composers Orchestra took a well-deserved victory lap on November 7, the occasion of their 40th anniversary gala concert. As the only orchestra in the country that is dedicated solely to the creation and performance of new ...

Elizabeth Ogonek Discusses ‘Sleep and Unremembrance’ Which Debuts with ACO This Week

By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, November 6, 2017 This week the American Composers Orchestra celebrates its 40th anniversary. With a mission to broaden the profile of American classical music previously underrepresented, The ACO has chosen a program of established and up-and-coming American ...

Review: New York Philharmonic Continues Its Bernstein Tribute With Mixed Results

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, November 3, 2017 The second installment in the New York Philharmonic’s contextualized survey of Leonard Bernstein’s symphonic output features The Age of Anxiety, Bernstein’s second symphony, inspired by W.H. Auden’s eponymous poem, which it ...

BLO’s ‘Mr. Burke & Mr. Hare’ Digs Deep Into the Darker Side of History For Its Inspiration

By Doug Hall, Contributing Writer, November 1, 2017 As traditionally dark and tragic as opera can be, there’s a new addition to the repertoire—with an irreverent twist—in Boston Lyric Opera’s upcoming production of The Nefarious, Immoral But Highly Profitable Enterprise of Mr. ...

Review: Dinner Goes Deliciously Wrong And Opera Soars As ‘The Exterminating Angel’ Arrives At The Met

By Joshua Rosenblum, Contributing Writer, November 1, 2017 In Luis Buñuel’s surrealist classic 1962 film The Exterminating Angel, the upper-crust guests at a formal dinner party inexplicably find that they are unable to leave the room at evening’s end, even though they are not physically ...

American Composers Orchestra Celebrates 40th With an Exciting Gala Concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, October 31, 2017 It is true, the American Composers Orchestra has been “innovating right before your ears” for four whole decades. Yup, it’s true: this essential cutting-edge-of-everything organization, which justifiably bills itself as “the only ...

Review: Trifonov Presents An ‘Enormously Satisfying’ Perspective At Carnegie

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, October 30, 2017 At twenty-six, Daniil Trifonov is already one of the world’s most exciting and successful pianists, and this season he became the youngest artist ever invited to create a Carnegie Hall “Perspectives” series. He gave the first of ...

Review: A ‘Brilliantly Rendered’ Bernstein Tribute By the New York Philharmonic

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, October 26, 2017 Of all the events marking Leonard Bernstein’s centennial, surely the most authentic, and to my mind the most intrinsically moving, is the Philharmonic’s three-week festival, aptly titled Bernstein’s Philharmonic, which opened last ...

Bang on a Can’s ‘Road Trip’ Finds Its Way To BAM This Weekend

ZEALnyc, October 24, 2017 The Bang on a Can Festival celebrated its impressive thirty year history this summer at their regular festival venue of MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. To commemorate this landmark occasion, the three founding members, Michael Gordon, David Lang, and Julia Wolfe came ...

Review: NYCO’s Chamber-sized Thriller ‘Dolores Claiborne’ Suffers

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, October 24, 2017 A new production of Tobias Picker’s Dolores Claiborne, adapted from Stephen King’s psychological thriller, opened last Sunday in “a scaled-down version for use in smaller venues,” commissioned and produced by New York City Opera, ...

The New York Philharmonic Hosts Centennial Festivities Honoring Its Former Leader Leonard Bernstein

Don Adkins, Managing Editor, October 23, 2017 This year the New York Philharmonic celebrates its 175th anniversary with various concerts commemorating this auspicious occasion. A milestone of this magnitude would provide most organizations with more than enough reason to celebrate, but not the New ...

Review: Violinist Maxim Vengerov is Both Fierce and Tender as Montréal Symphony Plays Carnegie

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, October 20, 2017 The Montreal Symphony made a flying visit to Carnegie Hall this past Wednesday night—literally; they’d played the same pieces the night before in their stunning new concert hall back home—bringing a recent piece by Samy Moussa, a ...

Review: Bill Murray Blurs the Lines of Literature, Classical Music, and Comedy, with Jan Vogler & Friends

By Mercedes Vizcaino, Contributing Writer, October 18, 2017 Comedian, actor, writer, and now singer: Is there anything Bill Murray can’t do? Not likely. A chance encounter on a plane brought Murray and acclaimed cellist, Jan Vogler to the stage at Carnegie Hall this past Monday evening. While ...

Canadian Composer Samy Moussa Makes Carnegie Debut with Montréal Symphony Orchestra

By Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, October 16, 2017 This week the Montréal Symphony Orchestra plays Carnegie Hall with a program of Bartók, Brahms and the Canadian composer Samy Moussa. Moussa, who is 33, was born and studied in Montreal, and has a long history with the Montréal Symphony. His ...

Review: American Symphony Orchestra Brings ‘Sounds of Democracy’ to Carnegie Hall

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, October 13, 2017 During these tumultuous times, it is a comfort to know that the arts are responding with bold examinations of current events. In fact, the classical music scene in New York has some important voices that are presenting programming relevant to ...

A Memorial Concert For Violinist Paul Zukofsky Features Two Pianists

By Joshua Rosenblum, Contributing Writer, October 13, 2017 American violinist Paul Zukofsky (1943-2017) was especially renowned for his commitment to contemporary music; he premiered works by the likes of Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Elliott Carter, Philip Glass, and many others. A few months before ...

Review: Orchestra Moderne NYC is Moving and Relevant at Carnegie Hall

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, October 9, 2017 The world of live classical music faces existential challenges, as ticket-buying audiences dwindle, and orchestras across the country face financial hurdles. Evenings of film music abound in programming and orchestral tours are built around, of ...

Matthew Aucoin, Diane Paulus and Rod Gilfry Bring Walt Whitman to Life in ‘Crossing’ at BAM

By Brian Taylor, Contributing Writer, October 6, 2017 Contemporary opera can be a tough sell in today’s world, if tonight’s fitful audience at BAM is any indication. But wünderkind Matthew Aucoin, who wrote and composed Crossing at the age of twenty-five, and conducted this ...

A Timely Exploration of the Immigrant Experience Makes Debut at Carnegie Hall

By Joanne Sydney Lessner, Contributing Writer, October 5, 2017 Peter Boyer’s Grammy-nominated Ellis Island: The Dream of America, for full orchestra, seven actors, and visual projections, is the centerpiece of Orchestra Moderne NYC’s October 7 concert at Carnegie Hall. Those unfamiliar with the ...

A ‘Rhapsody’ for the Ages as Carnegie Hall Opens Season with Philadelphia

By Joshua Rosenblum, Contributing Writer, October 5, 2017 The publicity for Carnegie Hall’s Opening Night Gala featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra under music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin was slightly confusing: we were told that jazz-fusion icon Chick Corea and classical superstar Lang Lang ...

Orchestra Moderne NYC Is Ready To Tackle Social and Political Issues; First Stop—The Immigrant Experience

By Joanne Sydney Lessner, Contributing Writer, September 29, 2017 When Amy Andersson returned to New York after several years conducting concerts across Europe and North America, she founded Orchestra Moderne NYC with a very clear mission: to create an orchestra that is fully integrated into the ...

Review: Radvanovsky and DiDonato Sparkle in a Dim New ‘Norma’ at the Metropolitan Opera

Mark McLaren, Editor in Chief, September 26, 2017 It’s hard to believe that Norma has opened the Metropolitan Opera season only three times. Bellini’s bel-canto masterpiece, flush with vocal fireworks, an interesting and concise book, and a title role that defines greatness seems just ...

Review: NY Philharmonic Opens Its Season With Mahler and Glass Under the Sure Baton of Van Zweden

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, September 25, 2017 The New York Philharmonic opened its new season last week with a double-watershed: first, Jaap van Zweden made his first full-tilt ceremonial appearance as the orchestra’s Music Director Designate, playing a piece written by one of ...

An Operatic Sequel to the Bible, ‘REV. 23’ Makes Its World Premiere in Boston

By Doug Hall, Contributing Writer, September 22, 2017 Biblical references are not usually a librettist’s guide to a narrative of cutting-edge inventive modern opera. But in premiering REV. 23, creator and librettist Cerise Jacobs, whose Ouroboros trilogy produced last September, was “the most ...

Review: American Classical Orchestra Excels in a Revelatory Concert at Alice Tully Hall

By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, September 18, 2017 Let’s cut right to the chase: the American Classical Orchestra is one terrific outfit, and their concert this past Saturday evening at Alice Tully Hall was a mind-blower. This is a “period-instrument ensemble,” using ...

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