Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NY Phil's new maestro

Alan Gilbert, a favorite guest conductor of the New York Philharmonic in recent seasons, has been named the orchestra's new music director. He will succeed Lorin Maazel in 2009.

The appointment of Gilbert marks the latest generational shift among American orchestra directors. When he takes over the NY Phil, he will be 42; the departing Maazel will be 79.

Gilbert also will be the first New York native to lead the orchestra and only its third American-born conductor, after Leonard Bernstein and Ureli Corelli Hill, who led the orchestra's first concert in 1842.

The son of two NY Phil violinists, Gilbert currently is chief conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and was music director of the Santa Fe Opera and assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra.

The New York Times story on his appointment:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


My profile of Amy Scurria, a composer lately based in Richmond, is in print in Style Weekly, online at:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Sousa's day

Louis Armstrong liked to claim he was born on the Fourth of July. He wasn’t, but didn’t need that distinction anyway. The American musician to whom this day really belongs is John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), whose marches will figure prominently in most every orchestra and band (and, for all we know, bluegrass) concert staged today.

The marche du jour, of course, is Sousa’s "The Stars and Stripes Forever," introduced in 1896. (Congress declared it the official march of the United States in 1987.)

The 1890s were the decade in which American music really began to get a sense of itself and convey a sense of the country. It was the decade of Antonin Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony, Charles Ives’ Second Symphony, Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag," Katherine Lee Bates' "America the Beautiful," Henry Dacre's "Bicycle Built for Two." Blues, jazz and gospel music were germinating into recognizeable styles. Roving scholars were collecting Anglo-Celtic ballads from Appalachia. Vaudeville and the modern American musical were taking shape, and with them modern popular song.

Sousa was keenly attuned to that blossoming musical culture. Although he was best-known as the bandmaster of the U.S. Marine Corps and composer of march tunes, he also wrote concert and theater music. March-time or otherwise, Sousa’s music is consistently extroverted and it consistently swings. That’s why it has kept its immediacy and relevance.

Many of Sousa’s marches were occasional pieces. One of those was "Powhatan’s Daughter," written in 1907 for the 300th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement. Rarely heard, it will be revived in the July 11 opening concert of the Wintergreen Music Festival. (Details in the July calendar.)

Choice recording: Keith Brion, who has made a career of researching Sousa and impersonating him in concerts, leads modern performances, alongside Sousa's early electrical recordings from the late 1920s, on a set that hits the greatest hits and ventures beyond (Delos 3102).

2007-08 Richmond overview

Here’s a thumbnail calendar of art-music events in Richmond next season. Program and ticket details are in roundups of each presenter’s season in the blog archives.

Events, you’ll notice, are unhelpfully clustered on seven fall and winter weekends. (The Richmond Symphony box office can expect to hear from a lot of subscribers asking to switch nights.)

I’ll add to this list as other presenters report in.

5 – Virginia Tech faculty musicians (VCU).

14, 15, 17 – Richmond Symphony (Masterworks)/Mark Russell Smith, David Bilger.
15 – Brentano String Quartet (VCU).
16 – Anne Guthmiller, Dmitri Shteinberg (UR).
19 – Geoffrey Haydon (UR).
20 – Ayman Fanous & Mark Feldman (VCU).

26 – Shanghai Quartet (UR).
28, 29, 30 – Alexander Paley Music Festival (VCU).
30 – Paul Hanson (UR).

1 – Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet (UR).
4 – Lynn Musco (VCU).

7 – Richmond Symphony (Kicked Back Classics)/Erin Freeman.
7 – John Marcellus (VCU).

9 – Katz-Shteinberg Duo (VCU).
10 – Patrick Smith (VCU).
12, 13, 15 – Richmond Symphony (Masterworks)/Mark Russell Smith.
13 – Carol Wincenc (VCU).
14 – Sonia Vlahcevic (VCU).

19, 20 – Third Practice Electroacoustic Festival (UR).
19, 21 – Virginia Opera "Tales of Hoffmann."
19, 21 – Richmond Symphony (Bach Festival)/Mark Russell Smith, Curtis Opera Ensemble (Bach, Mozart).
26 – Richmond Symphony/Mark Russell Smith, Stephen Prutsman (50th anniversary concert).
27 – Timothy Olbrych (VCU).

28 – Russell Wilson (VCU).
29 – Taylor Barnett (VCU).
29 - Oberon Quartet, et al. (St. Christopher's School).
30 – Trombones de Costa Rica (VCU).

4 – Richmond Symphony (Kicked Back Classics)/Erin Freeman.
4 – Richard Becker & Doris Wylee-Becker (UR).
4 – Rex Richardson (VCU).
5 – Lionheart (UR).
7 – eighth blackbird (UR).
9 – Richmond Symphony (Bach Festival)/Mark Russell Smith.
11 – University Choir & Schola Cantorum/Jeffrey Riehl (UR).
12 – Shanghai Quartet, Yuja Wang (UR).
16, 17, 19 – Richmond Symphony (Masterworks)/Jacques Houtmann.
16, 18 – Opera Theatre VCU.
17 – Baltimore Consort (VCU).
23, 25 – Virginia Opera "Pirates of Penzance."
26 – Bruce Stevens (UR).
28 – Barry Salwen (UR).
30 – Richmond Symphony & Chorus/Erin Freeman ("Messiah").

2 – Kevin Lawrence (VCU).
3 – Richmond Symphony & Chorus/Erin Freeman ("Messiah").
7 - VCU Holiday Gala.
9 – Candlelight Christmas Concert (UR).

14 – Jeffrey Riehl, Kenneth Merrill, Jennifer Cable (UR).
16 – David Daniels, Martin Katz (UR).
18 – Interpreti Veneziani Baroque Orchestra (UR).
18, 19, 21 – Richmond Symphony (Masterworks)/Mark Russell Smith.
25 – Ana Vidovic (VCU).

2 – Roberto Diaz (VCU).
3 – Richard Becker (UR).
4 – Matt Albert, et al. ("An Evening of Bartók") (UR).
13 – Piotr Anderszewski (UR).
22 – Dawn Upshaw, Orquesta los Pelegrinos (Golijov "Ayre") (UR).
22, 23, 24 – Richmond Symphony (Masterworks)/Mark Russell Smith.
24 – Jeremy McEntire, Charles Hulin (UR).
25 – Washington Symphonic Brass (UR).
27 – Richmond Symphony & Chorus (Kicked Back Classics)/Erin Freeman.
27 - Oberon Quartet (St. Catherine's School).

28 – Kris Keeton (VCU).
29 – Richmond Symphony & Chorus (Bach Festival)/Erin Freeman.
29 – Virginia Opera "Eugene Onegin."

1 – Pascal Rogé (VCU).
2 – Richmond Symphony & Chorus (Bach Festival)/Erin Freeman.
2 – Virginia Opera "Eugene Onegin."
2 - VCU Scholarship benefit concert (Cathedral of the Sacred Heart).
14, 15, 17 – Richmond Symphony & Chorus (Masterworks)/Mark Russell Smith (Verdi Requiem).
19 – Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky/"Rebirth of a Nation" (UR).
26 – eighth blackbird (UR).
27-29 – "Experiencing Villa-Lobos" (VCU).

5 – Beaux Arts Trio (VCU).
8 - Richmond Festival of Music.

8 - Patrick Smith (VCU).
11, 13 – Virginia Opera "Lucia di Lammermoor."
12 - Richmond Festival of Music.

14 - Commonwealth Singers & VCU choirs ("Carmina Burana").
25, 26, 28 – Richmond Symphony (Masterworks)/George Manahan, Karen Johnson (Stravinsky).
26, 28 – Opera Theatre VCU.
29 - Richmond Festival of Music.

2 - Richmond Festival of Music.
3 - Richmond Festival of Music.
4 – Richmond Symphony (Kicked Back Classics)/Erin Freeman.
9, 11 – Richmond Symphony (Bach Festival)/Mark Russell Smith, Karen Johnson, Madison Vest.
16, 17, 19 – Richmond Symphony (Masterworks)/Mark Russell Smith, Mason Bates, Edgar Meyer.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Beverly Sills (1929-2007)

Beverly Sills, the Brooklyn-born soprano who died July 2 of lung cancer, was regarded highly as a leading voice in the revival of bel canto opera, especially the works of Rossini and Donizetti, and later as one of this country’s leading arts administrators and advocates for the performing arts.

One of the few singers of her generation to build a career almost entirely in the United States – notably at the New York City Opera – Sills began in 1979 to shift to administration, serving as general director of the City Opera, then chairwoman of Lincoln Center, and finally in recent years as chairwoman of the Metropolitan Opera. She also became of the most vocal and persuasive arts advocates in the country.

Sills' obituary, by Anthony Tomassini, in The New York Times:

Modlin Center 2007-08

Soprano Dawn Upshaw in "Ayre," the song cycle by the contemporary Argentine-American composer Osvaldo Golijov, countertenor David Daniels in a song recital, pianist Piotr Anderszewski in a program of Bach, Mozart and Chopin and performances by the Brerlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet and the Interpreti Veneziani Baroque Orchestra highlight classical programming next season at the University of Richmond’s Modlin Center for the Arts.

UR’s resident new-music sextet eighth blackbird will give premieres of works by Steve Reich and a group of composers affiliated with the Bang on a Can troupe, and a program with composer Stephen Hartke.

The Shanghai Quartet will perform in two fall programs, one with the young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang.

The early music consort Lionheart will present "A Wayfaring Stranger," and the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra will stage "Pincus and the Pig," Maurice Sendak’s adaptation of "Peter and the Wolf," along with a concert of klezmer music from Eastern European Jewry.

Violinist Matt Albert and percussionist Matthew Duvall of eighth blackbird will lead a troupe of UR faculty musicians in an all-Bartók program, and visiting pianist Barry Selwen will devote a program to music of Roger Sessions. UR’s Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival will feature Gusti Putu Sidarta in an experimental work based on Indonesian shadow puppet plays and a new piece inspired by shakuhachi music, played by eighth blackbird.

The Modlin Center’s Great Performances series of music, theater and dance also will include concerts by Bobby McFerrin, Pat Metheny, Arlo Guthrie, Regina Carter, the Turtle Island String Quartet with Stefon Harris and an all-star band celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Monterey Jazz Festival; and productions of "One Nation Under Blog" by the Second City Touring Company, "1984" by The Actors’ Gang, "Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers" by L.A. Theatre Works and "Rebirth of a Nation" by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky.

UR’s jazz program will present the premiere of the documentary "Cuba: Rhythm in Motion," and the Modlin Center’s music and dance series will feature performers from Bali, Mexico, India and the Celtic and Afro-pop musical genres. UR’s Balinese Gamelan orchestra will give two concerts of music and dance.

All events begin at 7:30 p.m. unless listed otherwise. For a season brochure, call the Modlin Center box office at (804) 289-8980 or visit


Sept. 6 – Second City Touring Company in "One Nation Under Blog" (Jepson Theatre).

Sept. 9-10 – Jim Cullum Jazz Band with pianist Dick Hyman (Camp Concert Hall).

Sept. 14-15 – Diavolo dance troupe (Jepson Theatre).

Sept. 16 (3 p.m.) – Soprano Anne Guthmiller and pianist Dmitri Shteinberg in Fauré, Poulenc, Schubert and Brahms (Camp Concert Hall).

Sept. 19 – Pianist Geoffrey Haydon in Beethoven, Liszt and Debussy (Camp Concert Hall).

Sept. 26 – Shanghai Quartet in Mozart, Dvořák and Ligeti (Camp Concert Hall).

Sept. 28 – Department of Music Family Weekend concert (Camp Concert Hall).

Sept. 30 (3 p.m.) – Pianist Paul Hanson in Liszt, Schoenberg and Carter (Camp Concert Hall).

Oct. 1 – Berlin Philharmonic Woodwind Quintet in Mozart, Danzi, Nielsen and Ligeti (Camp Concert Hall).

Oct. 3 – David Esleck Trio in jazz (Camp Concert Hall).

Oct. 7 (3 p.m.) – Balinese Wayang Kulit shadow theater (Cousins Studio Theater).

Oct. 9-10 – The Actors’ Gang in "1984," Michael Gene Sullivan’s adaptation of George Orwell’s novel (Jepson Theatre).

Oct. 19-20 – Third Practice Electroacoustic Music Festival, with eighth blackbird, Gusti Putu Sudarta and others (Camp Concert Hall).

Oct. 22-23 – Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (Jepson Theatre).

Oct. 25 – Gamelan Çudamani in "Odalan Bali: an Offering of Dance and Music" (Jepson Theatre).

Oct. 28 – Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández (Landmark Theater).

Nov. 3 – Bassist Edgar Meyer, mandolinist Sam Bush and dobro player Jerry Douglas (Camp Concert Hall).

Nov. 4 (3 p.m.) – Pianists Doris Wylee-Becker and Richard Becker in Russian music for two pianos (Camp Concert Hall).

Nov. 5 – Lionheart in "Wayfaring Stranger" (Camp Concert Hall).

Nov. 7 – eighth blackbird with composer Stephen Hartke (Camp Concert Hall).

Nov. 9 (7:30 and 9:30 p.m.) – Pat Metheny Trio with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Antonio Sanchez in jazz (Camp Concert Hall).

Nov. 11 (3 p.m.) – University Choir and Schola Cantorum, Jeffrey Riehl directing, in hymns, folk songs and motets from the early 17th century (Camp Concert Hall).

Nov. 12 – Shanghai Quartet with pianist Yuja Wang in Chopin and Schumann (Camp Concert Hall).

Nov. 15-17 (7:30 p.m.), Nov. 18 (2 p.m.) – University Players and Dancers, Walter Schoen directing, in Shakespeare’s "Macbeth" (Jepson Theatre).

Nov. 18 – University Wind Ensemble, David Niethamer directing (Camp Concert Hall).

Nov. 19 – UR Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo, Mike Davison directing (Camp Concert Hall).

Nov. 26 – Organist Bruce Stevens in Rheinberger and other German composers (Cannon Chapel).

Nov. 28 – Pianist Barry Selwen in works by Roger Sessions (Camp Concert Hall).

Nov. 30 – UR Jazz Combo and premiere of documentary "Cuba: Rhythm in Motion" (Camp Concert Hall).

Dec. 1 – Shirim Klezmer Orchestra (Camp Concert Hall).

Dec. 2 (3 p.m.) – Shirim Klezmer Orchestra and narrator Susan Watts in "Pincus and the Pig," Maurice Sendak’s adaptation of "Peter and the Wolf" (Camp Concert Hall).

Dec. 3 – University Chamber Music Ensembles (Camp Concert Hall).

Dec. 5 – University Orchestra, Alexander Kordzaia conducting (Camp Concert Hall).

Dec. 6 – University Balinese Gamelan and Dance, Andrew McGraw directing (Camp Concert Hall).

Dec. 9 (5 and 8 p.m.) – Annual Christmas Candlelight Concert: University Choir and Schola Cantorum, Jeffrey Riehl directing, in "A Jamestowne Christmas" (Cannon Chapel).

Dec. 10 – Eilen Ivers & Immigrant Soul in "An Nollaig – an Irish Christmas" (Camp Concert Hall).

Jan. 14 – Tenor Jeffrey Riehl and pianist Kenneth Merrill, with soprano Jennifer Cable, in Fauré, Debussy and Poulenc (Camp Concert Hall).

Jan. 16 – Countertenor David Daniels with pianist Martin Katz in Handel, Brahms, Reynaldo Hahn and Richard Hundley (Camp Concert Hall).

Jan. 18 – Interpreti Veneziani Baroque Orchestra in Vivaldi, Corelli and Bach (Camp Concert Hall).

Jan. 22-23 – L.A. Theatre Works in "Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers," starring Stacy Keach (Camp Concert Hall).

Jan. 26 (2 and 7:30 p.m.) – Pianist Neal Berg with singers Rob Evan, Danny Zolli, Rita Harvey, William Michals, Erick Buckley and Carter Calvert in "100 Years of Broadway" (Camp Concert Hall).

Jan. 28 – Turtle Island String Quartet with vibraphone player Stefon Harris in "The Divine Duke" (Ellington) (Camp Concert Hall).

Feb. 2 – Broadcaster Ira Glass in "Radio Stories and Other Stories" (Camp Concert Hall).

Feb. 3 (3 p.m.) – Pianist Richard Becker in Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy and Arthur Berger (Camp Concert Hall).

Feb. 4 – Violinist Matt Albert, pianists Paul Hanson and Joanne Kong, percussionists Matthew Duvall and Ray Breakall and soprano Jennifer Cable in "An Evening of Music by Béla Bartók" (Camp Concert Hall).

Feb. 10 – Arlo Guthrie in "Solo Reunion Tour – Together at Last" (Camp Concert Hall).

Feb. 13 – Pianist Piotr Anderszewski in Bach, Mozart and Chopin (Camp Concert Hall).

Feb. 17 – Monterey Jazz Festival 50th Anniversary Tour, with Terrence Blanchard, James Moody, Benny Green, Nneenna Freelon, Derrick Hodge and Kendrick Scott (Landmark Theater).

Feb. 18 – Monday Night World Theater in "By the Bog of Cats" (Cousins Studio Theater).

Feb. 22 – Soprano Dawn Upshaw and Orquesta los Pelegrinos in Osvaldo Goljov’s "Ayre" (Camp Concert Hall).

Feb. 24 (3 p.m.) – Flutist Jeremy McEntire with pianist Charles Hulin in Bach, Fauré and others (Camp Concert Hall).

Feb. 25 – Washington Symphonic Brass, Milton Stevens directing, in Phil Snedecor’s brass arrangements of Orff’s "Carmina Burana" and Stravinsky’s "The Rite of Spring" (Camp Concert Hall).

Feb. 28-March 1 (7:30 p.m.), March 2 (2 p.m.) – University Dancers, Myra Daleng directing, in "Leap" (Jepson Theatre).

March 2 – Bobby McFerrin & Voicestra (Camp Concert Hall).

March 4-5 – Nrityagram Dance Ensemble in Indian classical and contemporary dance (Jepson Theatre).

March 6 – Celtic fiddler Natalie MacMaster (Jepson Theatre).

March 8 (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.) – "If You Give a Pig a Party" by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond (Jepson Theatre).

March 19 – Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky in "Rebirth of a Nation" (Jepson Theatre).

March 26 – eighth blackbird in "The Only Moving Thing," premieres of Steve Reich’s Double Sextet and "singing in the dead of night" by composers Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe and choreographer Susan Marshall (Camp Concert Hall).

March 29 – Afro-pop singer Angélique Kidjo (Camp Concert Hall).

April 2 – Music Department jazz and Brazilian combo concert (Camp Concert Hall).

April 4 – Jazz violinist Regina Carter & quintet (Camp Concert Hall).

April 6 (3 p.m.) – University Choir and Schola Cantorum, Jeffrey Riehl directing (Camp Concert Hall).

April 7 – University Balinese Gamelan and Dance, Andrew McGraw directing (Camp Concert Hall).

April 9 – University Orchestra, Alexander Kordzaia conducting (Camp Concert Hall).

April 12, 16-19 (7:30 p.m.), April 13 (2 p.m.) – University Players & Dancers, Chuck Mike directing, in "The Meeting" by Jeff Stetson (Jepson Theatre).

April 14 – UR Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo, Mike Davison directing (Camp Concert Hall).

April 16 – University Wind Ensemble, David Niethamer directing (Camp Concert Hall).