Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy birthday Franz

On the 214th anniversary of Franz Schubert's birth, we thought we'd share this concert video of Philippe Entremont in Schubert's final piano sonata.

Entremont: Schubert 1 from John Clare on Vimeo.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Pro/Am this weekend

"Hell is full of musical amateurs: music is the brandy of the damned." - George Bernard Shaw
The first event for the San Antonio Symphony's Tchaikovsky Festival is this Sunday!

January 30, 2011
Sebastian Lang-Lessing, conductor
A FREE event at Municipal Auditorium, 3:00 p.m.
Come hear amateur musicians perform side-by-side in this unique concert experience with San Antonio Symphony musicians and Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing in Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy.
Music workshop and rehearsal will begin at 3:00 p.m. with the Romeo and Juliet Overture-Fantasy in full concert at approximately 4:30 p.m.

This idea falls from the Baltimore and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras, as an outreach, celebration and fundraiser.  You can read abou the BSO's Rusty Musicians here and here.  They have even gone so far to create a summer music academy!

"It is so difficult to mix with artists! You must choose business men to talk to, because artists only talk of money." - Jean Sibelius
The San Antonio Symphony announced their plans last fall for a Professional/Amateur rehearsal and concert, so KPAC Host John Clare filled out the forms, and learned in December he would be playing first violin!
Clare says, "I am looking forward to working with friends, and at the same time feel a little weird, maybe a bit nervous, having this chance to perform with the Symphony.  My most recent dealings are artist interviews and acting as Santa Claus and Jack O'Latern, not with my violin!
It will also be a chance to see the other side, literally, of Music Director Sebastian Lang Lessing."

See you Sunday at the Municipal for the kickoff of what will be a rousing Russian work! The San Antonio Symphony's Tchaikovsky Festival continues April 29th through May 8th.

"Every artist was first an amateur." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Utopia Now? Sign me up!

With the revolution of 1917 the Russian people had a lot to fix; they needed food, an army that could protect the country and a method of coordinating a vast country with the primitive communication of the time. During this period deprivation a heady optimism sprang up and there was an explosion of revolutionary art. Audacious schools of painting and music took root and flourished before state control swerved into Stalinism.

On the Piano this Sunday music of the Russian Avant-Garde and what happened to the pioneers of pushing the musical envelope in an increasingly totalitarian state. Hear music from the edge on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Classical Spotlight: Neither Rain nor snow...

We have no thundersnow delays with Classical Spotlight this week...the joy of South Texas winters brings all our performers to San Antonio this weekend.
In fact, we want to share some exclusive videos of two performers from our very own John Clare. First, Lilya Zilberstein plays some Rachmaninoff:

Then, from a concert in April 2009, the Cypress Quartet play Beethoven:

Listen to Classical Spotlight at a special time today, 12:06pm for the area's finest concerts!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dmitri's Fifth

"The government would have been delighted to execute him [Shostakovich], but it so happened that the ovations after the Fifth Symphony lasted more than 40 minutes. They had never seen such an audience success. And of course the government knew that, so they put a face on it, saying 'We've taught him and now he's writing acceptable music.'" - Mstislav Rostropovich on the official Soviet reaction of the Fifth Symphony
The San Antonio Symphony plays a monumental work by Dmitri Shostakovich this weekend at the Majestic.  We thought we'd share some background on this amazing work, the Symphony No. 5 in d minor, Opus 47.

It is scored for two flutes and piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets and E-flat clarinet, two bassoons and contrabassoon, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani, snare drum, triangle, cymbals, bass drum, tam-tam, glockenspiel, xylophone, two harps (one part), piano, celesta and strings; and written in four movements:
The symphony opens with a strenuous string figure in canon, initially leaping and falling in minor sixths then narrowing to minor thirds. The sharply-dotted rhythm of this figure remains to accompany a broadly lyric melody played by the first violins. Variants of this theme return throughout the 3rd & 4th movements. The second theme is built out of octaves and sevenths. Whereas the 1st theme is based on a sharp dotted rhythm, the 2nd relies on a static long-short-short pattern. With that, we have all the musical material for this movement—one that is tremendously varied, its climax harsh. The coda, with the gentle friction of minor in strings against chromatic scales in celesta, ends on a note of haunting ambiguity.

The opening motif in this waltz-like scherzo is a variation of the first theme of the first movement; other variations can be detected throughout the movement. The music remains a witty, biting satire—gay, raucous while also nervous, its energies playfully discharged in an episode of comic relief with its roots in Prokofiev and especially Mahler.

After the assertive trumpets of the first movement and the raucous horns of the second, this movement uses no brass at all. The strings are divided throughout the entire movement (3 groups of violins, violas in 2, cellos in 2; the basses remain unison) . Shostakovich fills this movement with beautiful, long melodies—one of them again based on the first theme of the first movement—punctuating them with intermezzi of solo woodwinds. Harp and celesta play prominent roles here as well. The music is emotive and even elegiac in tone; it returns to the sober mood which the scherzo interrupts.

4.Allegro non troppo
This movement picks up the march music from the climax of the opening movement, at least in manner if not in specific material. A tense conclusion leads to the quieter section of the piece. This section ends and the short snare drum and timpani solo introduce a brief militaristic introduction to the finale of the movement—an extended and obsessive reiteration of the D major tonality.

The late 1930's were not a good time for Dmitri Shostakovich. His successful opera, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, was banned after Stalin saw it in 1936 and was offended by its veiled criticism of the Communist regime. This was no small matter; most who drew the dictator's wrath soon died in a labor camp. Shostakovich was luckier, perhaps because the young composer had already achieved some international recognition, but the attacks in Pravda turned him into a pariah who began keeping a packed suitcase beside his bed in case he were arrested in the night.
Shostakovich's next misstep came with the Fourth Symphony, which he had been composing in his mind for some time. Despite the risk of associating with an "enemy of the people,'' the Leningrad Philharmonic agreed to premiere it, but the rehearsals went badly, and it became clear to Shostakovich that a performance of such a forward-looking work would be dangerous to his life. In December of 1936, he announced that it was a failure and withdrew it, ostensibly to work on the finale. The Fourth was lost during the war, and it was only in 1961 that it was reconstructed and premiered exactly as written.
Meanwhile, Russia was undergoing what would later be called the "Great Terror.'' For his own reasons, Stalin had concocted an assassination and then responded to it with a level of repression rarely seen in human history. After he declared that five percent of the population was "unreliable,'' orders went out that the number of arrests must match this figure. Guilt was irrelevant; it was sufficient to round up ten or fifteen thousand people from a given town and send them off to Siberia. Historians disagree on the exact number of Russian citizens murdered during this time (partly because many of the deaths were later blamed on World War II), but it was certainly in the millions.
In such an atmosphere, and with a wife and two young children to worry about, it was only natural that Shostakovich would pull his head back into his shell and try to please the authorities. And so he did, at least on the surface: the Fifth Symphony's subtitle is "A Soviet Artist's Practical Creative Reply to Just Criticism.''
But throughout history, artists have thumbed their noses at authorities who were too dense to see through their parody and satire, and Shostakovich was no different. One does not need to look far beneath the surface of the Fifth to discover just what this "practical'' reply actually contains. The first movement begins with a cry of despair, a tragic lament that goes on for some time before suddenly being interrupted by a goose-stepping march led by a two-note tympani theme, a motive that musicologist Ian MacDonald calls the "Stalin theme.'' The third movement is one of the most despairing pieces of music ever written, a memorial for Mother Russia and all those sent to the labor camps. And of the finale, Shostakovich wrote in his memoirs (smuggled out of Russia after the composer's death):
What exultation could there be? I think it is clear to everyone what happens in the Fifth. The rejoicing is forced, created under threat... It's as if someone were beating you with a stick and saying "Your business is rejoicing, your business is rejoicing,'' and you rise, shaky, and go marching off, muttering, "Our business is rejoicing, our business is rejoicing.'' What kind of apotheosis is that? You have to be a complete oaf not to hear that.
The Fifth was hugely successful. The government was pleased that the rebel had knuckled under, while the Russian in the street saw the truth behind the facade. Western listeners, generally unaware of what was going on behind Stalin's mask, took the work at face value, yet were still overwhelmed by its grandeur and beauty. The symphony has become Shostakovich's most popular work, and the relatively recent revelation of its true meaning can only enhance our enjoyment of this testament to one man's struggle to express his people's anguish under a brutal tyrant.

Hear Shostakovich's Fifth live this Friday and Saturday at the Majestic. Also on the program are Wagner's Rienzi Overture and Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 with Lilya Zilberstein.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar music

This year, several great composers up for an Oscar:
Music (Original Score)
“How to Train Your Dragon” John Powell
“Inception” Hans Zimmer
“The King's Speech” Alexandre Desplat
“127 Hours” A.R. Rahman
“The Social Network” Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)
“Coming Home” from “Country Strong” Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
“I See the Light” from “Tangled” Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
“If I Rise” from “127 Hours” Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
“We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3" Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Nathan Cone and John Clare will preview the scores in February, and keep an ear out for a special NPRMusic feed curated by Nathan about Oscar nominated and winning music!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Classical Spotlight: Lilya

Lilya Zilberstein is appearing in San Antonio twice in as many weeks - this weekend for Musical Bridges Around the World and next weekend with the San Antonio Symphony.
She spoke with KPAC Host John Clare about her stay: interview (mp3 file)
She also performed some Rachmaninoff, a Moment Musical:

Classical Spotlight: Zilberstein Rachmaninoff from John Clare on Vimeo.

The best time is the worst time?

It is often said that someone's marriage was the best thing that could have happened to them. In the case of Robert Schumann this may no be true on all levels. Before Clara he drank too much, smoked cigars until he was dizzy, chased girls and made up invisible friends to give him company. He was clearly lonely and largely miserable and yet, he composed the most dynamic and original piano music of this career.

On the Piano this Sunday, we examine Schumann the Poet were his string of masterpieces is unrivaled. Consider this, Papillion, Carnaval, In der Nacht, Kinderscenzen and  Davidsbundlertanze all come from this troubled period. Hear them on the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Turning 70, Coming to Town

Tomorrow, January 21, 2011, Plácido Domingo, one of the greatest living tenors today, will celebrate his 70th birthday. With a career that has spanned nearly 50 years and the entire globe, it is no wonder that he is justifiably beloved the world over. Deutsche Grammophon has recorded Domingo since 1970 and celebrates these 40 years not only with new releases of both his existing recordings and an all-new complete opera, but also with the comprehensive website The website encourages the public to sample audio and video clips from the Deutsche Grammophon and Decca catalogs, as well as personally wish Domingo “Happy Birthday” on the artist’s Facebook page. has been specially built by Deutsche Grammophon to give the public access to the amazing recorded legacy Domingo has on the various Universal Music labels and encourage the exploration of audio and video clips of this vast archive. From the 1970 recording of Weber’s Oberon to the all-new recording of Giordano’s Fedora, which is just now being released, the site streams clips from all currently available video and audio opera- and compilation-album recordings from DG & Decca. In addition to highlighting material from “The Plácido Domingo Story” (more information below), the site attempts to be as inclusive as possible. Such a rarity as his recording of Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with Barenboim is also included.
Starting today, fans can leave Domingo a personal birthday wish or note on his Facebook page and will be automatically entered into drawings which will take place every two weeks with the prize of a gift certificate redeemable in the
The statistics alone are astonishing: nearly 3,500 performances of more than 130 major tenor roles; a repertoire that includes operas by Handel, Gluck, Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, Meyerbeer, Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Berlioz, Wagner, Verdi, Mercadante, Gounod, Offenbach, Saint-Saëns, Bizet, Ponchielli, Gomes, Tchaikovsky, Boito, Massenet, Leoncavallo, Puccini, Albéniz, Mascagni, Charpentier, Giordano, Cilea, Alfano, Zandonai, Montemezzi, Moreno Torroba, Menotti, Tan Dun, Daniel Catán – the list goes on and on; recent incursions into the lyric baritone repertoire; more than 100 live and studio-made recordings of complete operas and countless other recordings as well; seven Grammy awards and three Latin Grammy awards; honorary doctorates and governmental honors all over the world; nearly 500 performances as a conductor; the general directorship of two major American opera ensembles; the creation of Operalia, an international opera competition, and three young artist programs (Washington, Los Angeles and Valencia); humanitarian work on behalf of flood and earthquake victims in Mexico and the United States and for other causes… One can only marvel at the range, density and depth of the activities of this human dynamo, this many-sided musician and man of the theater, who shows no sign of slowing down as he approaches his eighth decade.
This June, Domingo comes to San Antonio to perform for San Antonio Opera.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Classical Spotlight: DiDonato

Mezzo Soprano Joyce DiDonato appears in the HGO production of Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie starting Saturday! Joyce also has a new cd coming out on January 25th, Diva Divo. An old college friend of host John Clare, DiDonato met up him recently to talk about the opera and new release.
Their interview is here (mp3 file).
Clare & DiDonato
Sample the new cd until January 24th here on NPRMusic.
There are also some great videos about her new cd Diva Divo here:

Check out John's interview with composer Jake Heggie here:

Decca debut!

Decca Classics has signed an exclusive recording contract with the young Polish soprano, Aleksandra Kurzak, who, as one of the most exciting young singers on the international opera stage, has been thrilling press and public alike with performances in Europe and the US.
Aleksandra Kurzak’s debut recording with Decca – which will be released in Autumn 2011 – will be a showcase of contrasting lyric and coloratura arias. Just recorded with the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana, conducted by its dynamic young Music Director Designate Omer Wellber, the album will focus on roles which she has either performed or is preparing to sing on stage: Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, bel canto roles from Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia, Bellini’s I Puritani and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, plus the First Act scena from La Traviata, which showcases Kurzak’s effortless agility as well as the full, warm intensity of a Verdi lyric soprano. The disc also acknowledges the soprano’s roots with the key soprano aria from Straszny Dwór (The Haunted Manor) – perhaps the greatest Polish opera of the 19th Century.
Aleksandra Kurzak will also feature on the latest Decca album from Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja – to be released in Fall 2011 – in which she sings duets from Puccini’s La Bohème and Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de perles.
Aleksandra Kurzak first came to international attention in the 2004-05 season, with debuts at the Met (Olympia) and Royal Opera (Aspasia in Mitridate), followed by notable appearances at the Royal Opera in L’elisir d’amore (Adina) and Don Pasquale (Norina). She rose to international prominence in 2008 when she triumphed in the title role of Rossini’s Matilde di Shabran, also at the Royal Opera, opposite Decca tenor star Juan Diego Flórez. As The Guardian critic wrote “Flórez’s sparring partner here is Aleksandra Kurzak, his equal in technique and vocal glamour.” She returns to Covent Garden on January 18th, singing Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) with the Royal Opera.
Decca’s Paul Moseley said, “It is always a big moment when we welcome a new soprano to Decca, the singers’ label. I am convinced that Aleksandra is the new star we were seeking. Her warm, flexible voice records beautifully and above all she is a true musician as well as a phenomenal actress and singer.”
Aleksandra Kurzak said, “For me to sign a contract with a record company is a dream come true. And to be the part of the Decca family with such great singers as Pavarotti, Freni, Sutherland, Tebaldi, Bartoli and Fleming is a huge honor and happiness for me. It makes me particularly proud to be the first Polish singer to sign an exclusive contract with such a legendary company.”
In the current season Aleksandra Kurzak recently triumphed in her debut as Lucia in the new production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in Seattle, sings Violetta (La Traviata) in Hamburg, Warsaw and Turin, Adina (L’elisir d’amore) in Valencia and Vienna (Staatsoper), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) at Covent Garden and Susanna in the new production of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro in Madrid. She will also give a recital at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan.
Established over 80 years ago, Decca has long been the label of the world’s greatest singers, with a roster of exclusive artists which has included Luciano Pavarotti, Dame Joan Sutherland and Renata Tebaldi, as well as current stars of the opera stage such as Cecilia Bartoli, Renée Fleming, Jonas Kaufmann and Juan Diego Flórez.

Classical Spotlight: Upcoming SOLI

Next Monday and Tuesday SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents Middle East Journey. Here is a video from their last concert, For the Record.

Middle East Journey will feature David Mollenauer and Carolyn True again in Elegy by Bezhad Ranjbaran. SOLI will also premiere a new work by San Antonio composer Jack Stamps. Find out more on their website, and tune in to Classical Spotlight Thursday afternoon at 1pm for an interview with Stamps!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Love might have something to do with it…

Normally Alexander Scriabin composed his music without emotional fanfare, but as a 25 year old in Paris and spending time with a beautiful Russian girl, his fiancée, maybe there is a link to his infatuation and music.

Find out on the Piano this Sunday when we hear two transitory pieces of the Russian composer, his only Piano Concerto and the Third Sonata on the Piano at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


About a year ago, artists and musicians were invited to the White House to discuss the arts and perform.  These performances are now available to watch free online.  Enjoy musicians like Alyssa Weilerstein, Sharon Isbin, Joshua Bell and Awadagin Pratt:

There are more videos from the White House here with musical performances: Hulu

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

YouTube Symphony with SA Bassist!

Congrats to bassist David Milburn - who will fly to Australia this March to play a new work by Mason Bates in the YouTube Symphony Orchestra!!!

Dave plays with the San Antonio Symphony and teaches privately in the area.

YouTube today announced the 101 musicians who have been selected to form YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 at Sydney Opera House. The announcement was made after a global audition held online at The winning musicians will be flown to Sydney for a week of rehearsals and concerts from March 14-20, 2011, with a final performance on March 20 that will be live-streamed around the world.
The 97 members of YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 come from more than 30 countries, and range in age from 14 to 49 years old. They include amateur and professional musicians, students and teachers, and include some who have never set foot outside their home country. In addition, four soloists have been selected to perform an improvisation to a piece composed specifically for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra by American composer Mason Bates. Invited to audition on the instrument of their choice, the selected soloists performed on electric guitar (Brazil), violin (USA), the guzheng (China), and electric double bass (Australia). For more information on the orchestra members and soloists, visit
“The applicants for this year’s YouTube Symphony Orchestra have been truly outstanding,” noted Michael Tilson Thomas, Conductor and Artistic Advisor. “It has been inspiring to listen to such excellent music-making by people from all over the world, and to see the great reaction from the online community to the auditions. I am looking forward to getting together with everybody in March and creating a fine orchestra.”
After an online audition period on YouTube last fall, a panel of experts selected more than 300 finalists from 46 countries based on skill and technique. Nine orchestras around the world participated in the judging, including the London Symphony Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, and Sydney Symphony. During a week of online voting in December, the YouTube user community gave their input on the finalists. Online votes were then taken into consideration by Michael Tilson Thomas in selecting the final orchestra.
In March, 2011, the musicians will be flown to the iconic setting of Sydney Opera House to participate in a week-long classical music summit with Grammy Award-winning conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and leading performers in the field, culminating in a final performance on March 20, 2011, which will be live-streamed on YouTube. The YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 focuses on celebrating musical education, offering online master classes with orchestras around the world and classes for Australian musicians during the summit week.
YouTube Symphony Orchestra is one of several collaborative efforts by YouTube to push the boundaries of music, art, and film. Along with the film project Life in a Day, and YouTube Play, a collaboration with the Guggenheim Museum, YouTube Symphony Orchestra is an example of the convergence of online video with more traditional art forms.
US Winners, by location: Scottsdale, AZ; Irvine, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Palo Alto, CA; San Francisco, CA; Denver, CO; New Haven, CT; Boca Raton, FL; Miami, FL; Naples, FL; Orlando, FL; Evanston, IL; Bloomington, IN; Ann Arbor, MI; New York, NY; Rochester, NY; Oberlin, OH; Cleveland, OH; Mingo Junction, OH; Wayne, PA; Austin, TX; Sugar Land, TX; Dallas, TX; Fort Worth, TX; San Antonio, TX; Woodinville, WA; Spokane, WA; Milwaukee, WI. Bayamon, Puerto Rico.

Classical on Hulu

Having a little time off host John Clare stumble upon some great classical movies and performances are two wonderful examples on Hulu:
The entire War Requiem by Benjamin Britten, with a film by Derek Jarman

Also, this classic 1939 movie featuring Jascha Heifetz (including music by Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens and more!) They Shall Have Music

Wild to see Walter Brennan as a conductor (he doesn't do too bad!) instead of a cowboy!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Bach's Christmas Oratorio concludes this Sunday

Johann Sebastian Bach composed a great deal of sacred music and these works were to lead the congregation into the spirit of the church year. To incorporate the six Sundays of Christmas, Bach took cantatas dealing with the Holiday season and combined them into his Christmas Oratorio. This Sunday KPAC broadcasts the last part of this work which takes its text from the book of Matthew and tells the story of Herod's scheming to destroy the coming Messiah. This cantata features a new recording with Riccardo Chailly and the Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Join Ron Moore this Sunday afternoon at 2 for this spirited performance of this Holiday classic on KPAC & KTXI.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Success in the Music Industry!

Not a headline we see nowadays, but during the golden age of the piano, students were flocking to the best teachers and their conservatories. An out and out success would describe the careers of Franz Xaver and Phillip Scharwenka. It doesn't matter if you are speaking about their teaching careers, concerts given, or their compositions. On the Piano this Sunday hear music from these Polish pianist/ composers from the best of the Good old days.

The Piano broadcast at 5 Sunday afternoon on KPAC & KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Classical Spotlight: SLL and tangos

Classical Spotlight focuses on two concerts this weekend, Tango Buenos Aires and the San Antonio Symphony!
Friday night at 8pm at the Carver Cultural Center, see and hear Tango Buenos Aires.

Also Friday night, the San Antonio Symphony celebrates the 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt's birth.
Here is Sebastian Lang Lessing talking about the concert repertory:

Hear Dvorak's New World Symphony and Liszt tone poems Friday and Saturday night at 8pm at the Majestic. More at

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Game on!

Lang Lang comes to San Antonio this next Wednesday, January 12th to play Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto.  He also has recorded the soundtrack for Sony Playstation's blockbuster video game Gran Turismo® 5. The soundtrack features famous piano works by Chopin, J.S. Bach, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Joplin, Holst and Beethoven throughout various parts of the game. Prokofiev's Precipitato appears prominently in its entirety in the first half of the opening sequence of Gran Turismo® 5. To see the performance, click here:
Lang Lang says: "Gran Turismo is the most exciting racing game in the world and I have been a fan of it for many years. I feel honored to have this opportunity to connect with people who have never been in a concert hall before and show them that classical music is not just a part of history, but is actually very present and relevant today."
Lang Lang, Brand Ambassador for Sony Corporation, is known for his affinity for new technologies and his constant endeavors to bring classical music to the largest possible audience. His involvement in the official soundtrack for Gran Turismo® 5 marks a new chapter in the artist's synergetic approach to combine classical music with new technology.
In celebration of the holidays, Lang Lang also recorded a song called "A Sony Christmas Carol" which serves as the music bed for the UK Sony Christmas TV commercial for the ‘VAT-back' campaign. The commercial features actor Sir Derek Jacobi as Ebenezer Scrooge in a modern day portrayal of the Christmas classic "A Christmas Carol" and includes an epic 2-minute "mini-movie" version. The score includes a virtuosic piano part written especially for Lang Lang by leading young film composer Ilan Eshkeri, whose credits include Stardust, Kick-Ass and The Young Victoria. It was supported by a 35 piece orchestra and recorded at the legendary Abbey Road studios.
About the score Lang Lang says "Recording the music for this advertisement was hugely enjoyable, Ilan's score perfectly complements each part of the storyline, and the uplifting ending is a great moment. So much is communicated in the two minutes that you almost feel as though you have watched an entire movie!"
To view the commercial please click here:

You can view behind the scenes footage of Lang Lang performing the music for the commercial at:

Recently, Lang Lang released his Sony Classical debut CD Live In Vienna on LP, various CD and DVD formats including a Blu-Ray Disc featuring "Lang Lang – The Third Dimension" filmed in 3D.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dudamel on the screens

The LA Phil's music director Gustavo Dudamel appears on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno this evening. Watch part 1 of the interview here.
This weekend the LA Phil hits the silver screen in a concert program. Find out more information here.
January 9: Dudamel conducts Beethoven 7
During this LIVE broadcast, Dudamel leads a program of passionate, vigorous music by three different composers, each of whom expresses that passion in a highly individual style. The highlight is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 – his ebullient, life-affirming symphony that achieved instant popular acclaim lasting to this day. Also featured is the Stravinsky-inspired Slonimsky’s Earbox written by acclaimed American composer John Adams (Nixon in China), and Leonard Bernstein’s powerful First Symphony, "Jeremiah," a profoundly personal account of the Book of Lamentations.

March 13: Dudamel conducts Tchaikovsky
This all-Tchaikovsky program features his three Overture-Fantasies inspired by Shakespeare plays – Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and The Tempest. Interspersed between these wonderful symphonic poems will be readings from the Bard’s immortal works by a cast of leading actors.

June 5: Dudamel conducts Brahms 4
Power and beauty can be heard throughout Brahms’ Fourth Symphony, from the tragic first movement – the composer at his most dramatic and passionate – through the requiem-like second and surprisingly joyful third, to the climactic final chords of the forceful last movement. Dudamel also is joined by brothers Renaud and Gautier Capuçon for Brahms’ towering Double Concerto, Brahms’ final orchestral work.

In San Antonio, there are five theaters you can go and see these concerts:

Tailor made for Karr

This was sent from Jose Serebrier about an upcoming Bass World article on his concerto written for Gary Karr:
Garr Karr on being in two places at once?
How would you like to record Nueve with the Bournemouth Symphony in June of next year? - Before giving my answer to José Serebrier, several thoughts popped into my mind. I had to tell him that I no longer traveled anywhere by plane with my bass and that I had retired in 2001. Also, it had been several decades since I last performed Nueve, and I couldn’t remember the music. I hated saying “no” to Serebrier, but I couldn’t come up with a polite response that would reflect my joy in having been asked. So, after telling him about my retirement, I said, “give me a few days to think about it, and I’ll get back to you.” I then pulled out my score of the aleatoric, twelve-tone-like piece, and was struck once again, after all these years, by its inherent lyricism and long phrases—which is my cup of tea! I really wanted to be involved in the project, but the thought of traveling all the way to England with my bass was a strong deterrent. The increasing problem of flying with my instrument was one of the main reasons why I took early retirement.

Since Nueve was written specifically for me, Serebrier had my sound in his mind, and it was that soloistic double bass sound that he wanted on the recording. He urged me to think about it some more. So, for several weeks I gave the matter considerable thought. Then the phone rang. It was Serebrier and I never heard him so excited! My first thought was that in his inimitable style he had found a way to bring the entire Bournemouth Symphony to Victoria, Canada (where I live), to record Nueve. He said, “I was talking to Carole who had a great idea.” Carole Farley, his wife (I played at their wedding!), is a Metropolitan Opera star who became famous in her soprano roles in Salome and Lulu. Carole said to José, “Since much of the solo bass writing is without orchestra accompaniment, perhaps Gary would be willing to record the solo line in the comfort of his own private studio?” I was trapped. How could I say, “No” to such a logical and easy solution? “OK,” I said to José. “I’ll record my part, send it to you for your expert opinion, and then you can decide if it’ll work. This is what Serebrier later had to say:

“After discussions with the production team, we agreed that it was a great idea for this particular work. By the way, my friend Thomas Shepard, ex-CEO of RCA/BMG, and a producer of some 500 recordings (mostly with the Philadelphia Orchestra including Ormandy) recently made an opera recording (Naxos) with the London Symphony Orchestra, and added all the singers later in NY! You cannot tell the difference. What matters most in recording are the final results.”

He also told me that the recording engineer would be Phil Rowlands, with whom I worked before, and who is regarded as one of the top men in the business.

There were still two problems that I wanted Serebrier to address. I suggested that a real actor instead of me should read the Shelley poems included in Nueve. His response was, “You recited the words wonderfully in many of our concerts together in Cleveland, Cape Town etc., but I’ll ask Simon Callow, the great British actor, if he’ll consider doing it.” Fortunately for me, since I was a big fan of his, Callow loved the idea and eventually recorded, in London, six versions of the poems from which Serebrier could choose for the recording. My other concern was the short pizzicato sections that I felt should be done by another bassist at the recording session who can work in conjunction with the drums. To my delight, Serebrier said, “It’s a brilliant idea because the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is blessed with one of the best bass players I have encountered.” He then later emailed me, “I am delighted to tell you that the wonderful, brilliant solo bass of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, David Daly, is quite happy to record the jazz passages in Nueve. I know you will be pleased.” And indeed I was!

This is what José Serebrier wrote about the music:
“I wrote Nueve for and in homage to Gary Karr, commissioned by the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra for their 50th anniversary. Gary Karr was living in Plainfield, New Jersey at the time. We premiered it there, and played it in Cleveland and even in South Africa among other places.
I wrote it during my two seasons as composer-in-residence of the Cleveland Orchestra, as a companion piece to my harp concerto "Colores Mágicos." Both concertos have much in common: aleatoric writing, distance between the musicians, and most disturbing for conductors: no bar lines at all. Conductors can’t do what they do basically: beat time. The harp piece became a ballet with the Joffrey Ballet, and toured the United States. In it, the only musician on the stage was the harp soloist, with the orchestra in the pit, like in an opera. In Nueve, the solo bass is surrounded by the string orchestra, while the only woodwinds, two clarinets, are ‘incognito’ in the audience. During one of the variations, a jazz segment, the two clarinetists stand up and play along, surprising the unsuspecting audience. At the climax of the jazz variation, the brass erupts in the balcony. All along, the soloist also reads poetry, a poem by Shelley. While in the concerts Gary Karr did the poetry reading beautifully, for the recording he suggested an actor do it, and we had the great fortune to have the incomparable Simon Callow. At the end of Nueve, while the orchestra reaches a tremendous climax on one note in unison, a choir emerges from the distance and can be heard in an ethereal chant, adding an element of timelessness and perhaps eeriness. This is in direct contrast to the noisy jazz variation in which two opposite jazz drummers have a sort of ‘combat,’ alternating and finally joining in the game. The work has nine variations, and uses mostly nine notes. The reason for the title and the concept was that my New York apartment was, and remains, on 99th street, on the 9th floor. Nueve, of course, is Spanish for nine. While it may be a ‘period piece,’ unsurprising at the time it was conceived, something about its concept remains close to me, and is not different in its ultimate message to previous or later works, regardless of the different language used.”

As they say in the UK, I’m “gobsmacked” and absolutely delighted with the finished product. It’s an engineering and musical tour de force.

Take a look at the cd here. Listen for it on KPAC & KTXI!

Monday, January 3, 2011


This month, Lang Lang joins the San Antonio Symphony for Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto. Music Director Sebastian Lang Lessing discusses meeting Lang Lang years ago:

There's more information, including tickets for the San Antonio Symphony and Lang Lang here:

Happy Horn New Year

Here's to a bright new shiny year, 2011! Enjoy the latest from Genghis Barbie, a modern horn quartet:

They also have a new website,
and will be live on radio January 12th here: on WFMU 91.1FM, Jersey City, NJ & 90.1FM, Mount Hope, NY.