Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Concert at San Fernando Cathedral

Annual event offers somthing for everyone
by Valerie Cowan

Thursday evening’s (12/1/11) Holiday Concert at San Fernando Cathedral in the San Fernando Cathedral (115 Main Plaza) is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. With the ambiance of the downtown area and Riverwalk during the Christmas season, the chilly weather, and the beautiful acoustics of the San Fernando Cathedral filled with familiar holiday tunes, who could ask for more?

Presented by the San Fernando Cathedral Historical Centre Foundation, the evening’s lineup includes performances by the University of Texas at Austin Butler School of Music Chamber Singers and Concert Chorale alongside members of the orchestra at the University of Texas. The concert will take place at 7:00 p.m. and a reception will follow at 8:15.

The holiday concert has been a tradition at San Fernando Cathedral for six years. The Executive Director of the Historical Centre Foundation, Amy Nieto, said it is well-liked by audiences of all ages.

“It’s just a wonderful way to kick of the holiday season,” Nieto said.

The vocalists will perform a variety of songs including familiar holiday tunes, both secular and sacred.

Nieto said the concert serves as a fund raiser for various ministries of the cathedral, which includes a clinic and assistance to the needy.

Tickets are $35 each and include an invitation to the reception, and complimentary valet parking. Tickets may be purchased at the event or ahead of time over the phone at 210-576-1365 or via email (

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hall o Famer

The Grammys have announced albums for 2012 that will enter the Hall of Fame. Highlighting diversity and musical excellence, the collection acknowledges both singles and album recordings of all genres at least 25 years old that exhibit qualitative or historical significance. Through a tradition established nearly 40 years ago, recordings are reviewed annually by a special member committee comprising of eminent and knowledgeable professionals from all branches of the recording arts, with final approval by The Recording Academy's National Board of Trustees. With 25 new titles, the list currently totals 906 and is displayed at the GRAMMY Museum®.

The sole classical album this year is:
Serge Koussevitzky, cond.
Boston Symphony Orchestra
RCA Victor (1940)
Classical (Album)

I also thought it was cool living in South Texas, seeing this song make it this year:

Gene Autry
(June Hershey & Don Swander)
Decca (1942)
Country (Single)

Monday, November 28, 2011

RIP Ken Russell

Sad news about film maker Ken Russell. He was known for his pioneering work in television and film and for his controversial style. Russell was criticised as being over-obsessed with sexuality and the church. His subject matter was often about famous composers, or based on other works of art which he adapts loosely. Russell began directing for the BBC, where he did creative adaptations of composers' lives which were unusual for the time. He also directed many feature films independently and for studios.
Russell died in a hospital on Sunday, November 27th following a series of strokes, his son Alex Verney-Elliott said Monday. "My father died peacefully," Verney-Elliott said. "He died with a smile on his face."

The opening of his Mahler film:

And the full version of his movie on Tchaikovsky:

Here is an interview with Russell about Lisztomania coming out on DVD back in 2009:
-host John Clare

Sunday, November 27, 2011

EPS wins Grawemeyer!

With all the musical controversies in Louisville, it's great to have some good news come from Kentucky - the 2012 Grawemeyer Awards are announced this week!
The Grawemeyer Awards are five annual prizes given in the fields of music, political science, psychology, education and religion. They were founded by H. Charles Grawemeyer to help make the world a better place.
The Prize for Music Composition goes to Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto. Read a review of it's premiere here, first performed in LA in 2009.
Listen to an interview host John Clare had with the Director of the Music Panel, Marc Satterwhite from the University of Louisville, about how the awards are decided, a little history and an official announcement: mp3 file

Salonen wrote these notes about the concerto:
I wrote my Violin Concerto between June 2008 and March 2009. Nine months, the length of human gestation, a beautiful coincidence.
I decided to cover as wide a range of expression as I could imagine over the four movements of the Concerto: from the virtuosic and flashy to the aggressive and brutal, from the meditative and static to the nostalgic and autumnal. Leila Josefowicz turned out to be a fantastic partner in this process. She knows no limits, she knows no fear, and she was constantly encouraging me to go to places I was not sure I would dare to go. As a result of that process, this Concerto is as much a portrait of her as it is my more private narrative, a kind of summary of my experiences as a musician and a human being at the watershed age of 50.
Movement I
The violin starts alone, as if the music had been going on for some time already. Very light bell-like sounds comment on the virtuosic line here and there. Suddenly we zoom in to maximum magnification: the open strings of the violin continue their resonance, but amplified; the light playfulness has been replaced by an extreme close-up of the strings, now played by the cellos and basses; the sound is dark and resonant.
Zoom out again, and back in after a while. The third close-up leads into a recitative. Solo violin is playing an embellished melodic line that leads into some impossibly fast music. I zoom out once again at the very end, this time straight up in the air. The violin follows.
Finally all movement stops on the note D, which leads to…

Movement II
Pulse I
All is quiet, static. I imagined a room, silent: all you can hear is the heartbeat of the person next to you in bed, sound asleep. You cannot sleep, but there is no angst, just some gentle, diffuse thoughts on your mind. Finally the first rays of the sun can be seen through the curtains, here represented by the flutes.

Movement III
Pulse II
The pulse is no longer a heartbeat. This music is bizarre and urban, heavily leaning towards popular culture with traces of (synthetic) folk music. The violin is pushed to its very limits physically. Something very Californian in all this. Hooray for freedom of expression. And thank you, guys!

Movement IV
This is not a specific farewell to anything in particular. It is more related to the very basic process of nature, of something coming to an end and something new being born out of the old. Of course this music has a strong element of nostalgia, and some of the short outbursts of the full orchestra are almost violent, but I tried to illuminate the harmony from within. Not with big gestures, but with light.
When I had written the very last chord of the piece I felt confused: why does the last chord – and only that – sound completely different from all other harmony of the piece? As if it belonged to a different composition.
Now I believe I have the answer. That chord is a beginning of something new.

Alex Ross wrote this in the New Yorker:
...Salonen offered a big new work of his own: the Violin Concerto, written for the fearless young virtuoso Leila Josefowicz. When Salonen announced that he was giving up the Los Angeles job, he said that he wanted to devote more time to composing, and the strength of his latest pieces suggests that he has not made a foolish choice. (His other conducting gig, at the Philharmonia Orchestra, in London, takes less of his time.) Salonen the composer is more openly expressive than Salonen the conductor...

Anthony Tommasini wrote this in the NY Times about Salonen's Violin Concerto:
In a program note about his new Violin concerto, a 30-minute work for in four movements, he writes that it is in some ways a "summary of my experiances as a musician and a human being at the watershed age of 50." If that sounds like a big agenda for one piece, the concerto comes across as a rhapsodic, inspired and restless work, too immediate to weigh down listeners with philosophical musings.

Josefowicz has a rich history with Salonen, here she is playing part of a solo violin work, Lachen verlernt, Salonen wrote for her:

You can see a list of previous Grawemeyer Composition winners here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

French Connections…

Your friends are the literary glitterati of Paris and you know the piano and little else - so what do you do? Self improvement is an important part of becoming a well rounded individual and if you were Franz Liszt in the 1820's he started a massive campaign of self education, reading every book he could find and it worked too, not only in educating a young man, but providing a wealth of new vistas for musical exploration.

On the Piano this Sunday a look at Liszt in those important years in Paris where as a young man he strived to complete himself and by doing so provided himself with projects for decades to come.

Find out about the Literary Liszt this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, One From the Heart

Musicologist point out that the works of Beethoven's last period are a final reckoning in the aftermath of a time of crisis. Besides dealing with the question of supporting his nephew there was the reality of his increasing deafness. This meant he could neither competently conduct nor play the piano, in fact he was now a page turner at many of his own concerts; associates informed musicians to ignore his time keeping as he could hear neither the performance nor the applause.The lucrative days of the performer were now a thing of the past.He was getting older and he was suffering from diminished capacities of performance but greater competency of composition. These tensions reach a peak in the final phase that begins with the late sonatas and the Diabelli Variations,then comes the Missa Solemnis.

Beethoven had asked friends and associates to rummage through their great libraries for works of the choral past,especially the music of Palestrina. He had an opportunity and a great occasion in the elevation of his friend, pupil and patron Archduke Rudolph to archbishop of Olmutz.The work took much longer than Beethoven ever intended and like many compositions of this period grew to gigantic proportions, negotiations with multiple publishers were ongoing over the four years of composition. Beethoven was pressed for cash and seriously in debt,but did not allow this to alter his rigorous and time consuming compositional method.Finally,so anxious were friends and patrons to hear this new work that they sent him an open letter in the winter of 1823-24, literally begging him for a public performance of the new sacred work.By spring of 1824 it was completed bearing the inscription " From the heart- may it return to the heart."

Please tune in to this season's final broadcast of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera as we head into the Met opera season on Dec 3 with this special holiday feature of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis with Leonard Bernstein conducting and the heaven storming soprano of Edda Moser.That's this Saturday at noon on KPAC and KTXI and Happy Holidays.

host, Ron Moore

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Daniel Catan's Il Postino on Great Performances

It was early 2011 when John Clare first asked me about contact information for the Mexican born composer Daniel Catan. John wanted to approach Daniel about writing a short piece for San Antonio based Soli Chamber Ensemble. Fast forward a few months, to April, and I saw the opportunity to introduce John to Daniel, face to face. Daniel had been in Austin on a special project at UT, doing some teaching while working on a commission from the UT Opera Theatre. At this same time, the University of Houston Opera was mounting a performance of Daniel's adaptation of the film Il Postino. Postino had premiered in Los Angeles in September of 2010 to rave reviews.

I had known Daniel Catan for a number of years, but had only recently met him in person for an interview. We hit it off immediately, "like old friends" as Daniel said. Thus I was not surprised that Daniel was eager to get me tickets for the Houston performance of Il Postino. I picked up John the afternoon of April 8 for the drive over to Houston. As we entered the foyer to Moores Opera House, on the campus of the University of Houston, I half expected to see Daniel. He wasn't there, but the tickets were. As John and I entered the theater, I continued to scan the crowd for the familiar faces of Daniel and his wife, harpist Adriana Puente. No luck, nor was Daniel present at the post-performance reception. I supposed he had been detained in Austin for one reason or another, that his busy schedule had kept him from Houston on that Friday evening.

"Next time," I told John. "Next time you will get to meet him." Sadly, there would be no next time. My phone rang the following day with news that Daniel was missing. The next day's news was devastating. Daniel had passed away on April 8, the same day we were to have met him in Houston.

This personal connection makes all the more poignant the broadcast this Friday evening of the Los Angeles Opera's performance of Il Postino. If you love opera in the grand tradition, with soaring melodies and lush harmonies, this is for you. Il Postino will appeal to your heart, your soul, and your intellect. Need another reason to tune in to KLRN November 25 at 8 o'clock? Here it is:

Speaking of Catán after his death, Placido Domingo (who plays the role of Pablo Neruda in the opera) remarked, “To have lost a composer of his stature at the very height of his powers is a devastating loss to the world of classical music. Daniel Catán was one of the great opera composers of our time, beloved by audiences and especially by the musicians who had the privilege of performing his incredible work.”

Top Ten Thankful Classical Songs

We love Top Ten lists just as much as the next guy, so here goes our Thanksgiving Edition! (click on the title to hear an example!)
#10. Leonard Bernstein: Turkey Trot (Divertimento)
#9. Trad, arr Carmen: Turkey in the Straw
#8. The Cranberries: Zombie (performed by the Poteet Orchestra)
#6. Philip Glass: The American Four Seasons
#4. Samuel Barber: First Essay
#3. Ralph Vaughan-Williams: March of the Kitchen Utensils (The Wasps)
#2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Shepherd's Song: Happy and thankful feelings after a storm (Symphony #6 "Pastorale")

and the Number One Classical Thanksgiving Song

Monday, November 21, 2011

Check out Charles

You might have heard him on From the Top (or seen him on the first TV show of FTT!) or heard Charles Yang last year play the Four Seasons with the Mid Texas Symphony.
He's recently recorded a video of Queen:

and previously covered Michael Jackson:

Now see CHARLES YANG - “classical violinist with the charisma of a rock star” - playing in a unique, one-time performance, at KIDS' CLUB – New Braunfels, Tuesday, November 22, from 3:30 – 4:30.
The Kids' Club is located at 169 South Hickory in New Braunfels. Thanks to our friends at Mid Texas Symphony for making this performance possible!

Cello remains

Music is magical. Besides artists studying music, scientists actually study how music changes the world. There are accounts of it making us smarter, healing and then there are mysteries:

But when it came to playing previous concertos, and learning new pieces of music, he had such no problem leaving doctors stunned.
Discussed at the Society for Neuroscience conference for the first time this past weekend, scientists say this case study suggests memory is more complex and autonomous than previously thought and that music could be the key to helping people with memory problems learn new skills in life.

How does music affect you? Are there memories you have with musical performances or performing? What music are you looking forward to over the holidays?

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Mahler was that?

Our friends at Tone Deaf Comics have done it again, this time with a funny but accurate Mahler Map!

Éljen a Magyar!

It is hard to believe that Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, long associated with lighthearted entertainment like children's cartoons could be thought of as an act of defiance.

Franz Liszt lost touch with his homeland in his youth, but when he heard of the disastrous floods of 1838 he made sure to help as best as he could and in doing so he reestablished a connection to Hungary that would last the rest of his life.

To explore this transformation from Lion of the Parisian salons to Hungarian Hero tune in to the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Verdi's Don Carlo , Power and Passion

There are essentially two Don Carlo's (if you'll allow me) of Giuseppe Verdi. I don't mean that one is in French and the other Italian. Historians and musicologist are manic about the fact that this is untrue, there is a work," Don Carlos " (francophone's are insistent on this) originally written in French for the Paris Opera that was so vast (5hrs and change, they say) it's richness so prodigal it obscured the works greatness. It was then" translated into Italian " and cut to various shapes and sizes, depending on opera house, singers available and appreciation of or boredom with ballet. It was a Behemoth, a lumbering monster. Variant openings, duets and trios and choruses to burn, ballet music that was insisted on at the time and now exist largely as a separate concert work and most importantly a great psychological/ musical narrative frame, the reason for all this elaboration and development. History, written very large indeed, and turned into gorgeous music. A combination of Schiller's stage drama and European history in the Spanish Golden Age. What most of us know runs between two and a half to three hours, does not have a ballet, does not start in a forest in France but a tomb in Spain. In the background to all this is a subtext at once old and new of European history, the battle of reactionary politics and the spirit of the Reformation, this background then weaves this ideological struggle into a love story of great power and the reason for the courageousness of the speeches of Posa and Carlo/Carlos.

In all the combinations that followed (between 1867 and 1884) in whatever language, what remained and the reason for the operas growing fame, long or short, was that the passion and power of the essential human drama shone through. Hypocrisy, jealousy, reaction and revolutions of thought; the inevitable wars of generations, court intrigue, threats of murder and blackmail - the human condition and music of breathtaking scale and inspiration.It is the longest and most ambitious music that Verdi would ever write.

Join us this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera presentation of a new and very special interpretation of Don Carlo, live from the Met with Franco Corelli and Leone Rysanek this Saturday at noon on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Ron Moore

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ft Worth Taxi Drivers take note!

Another Stradivari violin is in Fort Worth, to be played by the Associate Concertmaster of the Ft. Worth Symphony - read more here. Here's to it not being left in a cab, smashed by accident or left outside to be made into a cd cabinet!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Twelve tone commercial

There's nothing to be afraid of this weekend at the San Antonio Symphony...don't be frightened by the name Alban Berg. Here's a video to watch about the Second Viennese School to set your mind at ease:

Just a few years ago, Hilary Hahn recorded Schoenberg's Violin Concerto, that really did become an iTunes hit. She made this video:

She also did a whole series on Schoenberg:

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Worst News Imaginable…

What would that be for you? For Ludwig van Beethoven it was confirmation that his hearing, "the one sense which should have been more perfect in me than in others, a sense which I once possessed in highest perfection" was now eroding. How could this supreme master of sound be reduced to shouting "speak louder for I am deaf" and still have the respect of those around him?

In his Heiligenstadt Testament, Beethoven agonized about his self-exile from humanity and the misunderstandings of those who perceive him as stubborn, haughty or misanthropic. The searing nature of this confession is so personal and discouraging that some experts thought of it as a first draft of a suicide note to those that would have found him. As reduced as Beethoven was by his illness he did find a way out that was more positive for humanity, music.

Could Beethoven compose with such weighty matters depressing him? The answer is yes, his dear art and its alchemy turned base anger and frustration into art. Hear Beethoven's unique piano sonata in d minor "the Tempest" this Sunday afternoon at 5 on the Piano. Along with a sterling performance, we will give a listen to several musicians and their approach to this masterwork.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Classical Spotlight: Peter Lieuwen

This next week SOLI Chamber Ensemble presents Quantum Change at Gallery Nord and Trinity University. On the program is Peter Lieuwen's Overland Dream.
John Clare had a chance to speak with Peter about the new work in his studio outside College Station:

Clare was also on hand this summer at the world premiere this summer in Arlington:

The Perils of Young Goethe

--- the Story ---
The German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe had recently finished his law studies and was committed to visit a relative in the small town of Wetzlar. Previous to his travels he fell in with a circle of like minded young men of great promise, but no particular direction, among them a K.W. Jerusalem, destined to be for a while,secretary to a nobleman. Arriving in the town Goethe was invited to a ball at which he met and fell desperately in love with Charlotte Buff, only to discover that she was already promised to another. This commenced a long and desperate agony of youthful introspection, brooding,communions with nature, a deluge of letters and thoughts of suicide. Goethe at intervals fled the city fearful that he would do harm to himself if he were too long near the young Charlotte.

From what would for endless generations of young lovers be no more a rite of passage in their sentimental education for the poet became emblematic of the travails, confusions and 'sorrows' of an entire generation of romantics. While considering these thoughts Goethe is informed that his one time dinner companion Jerusalem, like himself, had suffered just such a loss of love. But, Jerusalem found no outlet for his despair and committed suicide. Combining his own romantic failure, Jerusalem's fatal end and the psychological/ romantic trials of his own life, Goethe fashioned one of the greatest romantic novels ever written. In doing so (as he wrote) "saved" his own life, exorcised his obsession, discovered his vocation and won a world wide reputation with the publication of The Sorrows of Young Werther.

---the Music---
In 1886 Jules Massenet went to Bayreuth to see a performance of Parsifal and there was a stopover in the town of Wetzler. Massenet's publisher was accompanying on the return to Paris and on the stopover purchased and presented him with a copy of the novel by Goethe. The result was one of his most passionate, lyrical and popular creations for the theatre. Please tune in to this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera presentation of Massenet's Werther, featuring Jose Carreras and Frederica von Stade as the doomed lovers,this Saturday at noon on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Ron Moore

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


On Tuesday, November 8, the American Music Center and Meet The Composer officially completed their merger to become New Music USA.

Though the opportunities and challenges of 2011 could not have been imagined in 1939 at the time of AMC’s founding, nor even in 1974 when Meet The Composer first appeared on the scene, the core principles of both great organizations still ring clear and true. AMC was founded on a belief that access to information and active promotion could unlock the inherent power and promise of American music. A similar conviction guided MTC: that by giving creators of new work the opportunity to engage with their communities—and compensating them in a fair way—the landscape of new music could be changed forever.

At this moment we truly feel the energetic legacy of the people who have acted on these principles over the decades, beginning with Aaron Copland (above) and his colleagues in the 1930s and John Duffy and his colleagues in the 1970s. We honor their dedicated work, knowing the greatest tribute we can offer them is a commitment to look forward as they did to the possibilities of a new day.

And it is a new day. We have the fortune to be living in a time of explosive creativity and lightning-quick change. The kaleidoscopic range of music-making all around us defies labels and categories, both in terms of the way it sounds and the way it reaches listeners. As the spectrum of that kaleidoscope broadens, it reveals more and more ways to get people involved and excited by what we do. Let’s be clear: that public connection is the pathway to our bright collective future.

New Music USA is designed to build upon the combined and interconnected strengths of AMC and MTC. Its mission to increase opportunities for composers, performers, and audiences will be realized through two basic kinds of activity: Support and Promotion. By providing financial and other support it will enable composers and other musical artists to create the new work that is the beating heart of our musical culture. And through its strong and evolving new media dimensions it will seek relentlessly to bring more attention and engagement from a broad audience of potential listeners. We trust that the synergy between these two dimensions will evolve in powerful new ways over the coming months and years.

An institution is only as strong as the people who join together to carry out its mission. New Music USA is fortunate to be governed by a committed Board, activated by a supremely talented staff, and advised by two councils of stellar professionals from the artistic and media worlds respectively. Beyond those institutional borders, though, we see New Music USA as a trust held on behalf of the entire community, the thousands and thousands of us who create, perform, produce, support and listen to new American music. If we can tap into the collective power of that community, the possibilities can be endless.

TPR's own John Clare served on the AMC board from 2010 and is now on the New Music USA media advisory board.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

From Mark Richter

It was announced yesterday that Mark Richter is retiring. Today he has sent this note:

Dear Friends of the San Antonio Opera,
Effective, November 15, 2011, I will be stepping down as General/Artistic Director of San Antonio Opera. My life has been rich these past 16 years. Helping to build San Antonio Opera from an idea into a major regional opera in the country has been the most gratifying experience in my life. There comes a time when the parent has done all it can do and must let go to follow other passions, as with so many other founders of organizations. After producing 61 operas, my fondest memories have been working with not only the exceptional talent that has performed in San Antonio, but the people who continue to make it all happen. Your opera staff is small, but powerful. They work hard, do many different tasks and receive very little pay and recognition. These professionals are the heroes of the organization.
It has been my great fortune to learn and work with some of our city’s most iconic leaders such as Lila Cockrell, Phil Hardberger, Edith McAllister, Nelson Wolff, Bruce Bugg and Jeanie Wyatt. I support them as they have supported me. My admiration goes out to all patrons and members of past boards that have supported and continue to support the opera through the years. This has always been your opera company and my work helping the company succeed is but a reflection of the generosity you have shown during these 16 years. Please continue this support as I join your ranks as an enthusiastic patron of the opera.
Things have certainly come full circle these past years, evidenced by watching adults that were introduced to opera through the company’s education programs, now returning to San Antonio as accomplished opera singers, as well as opera supporters and season tickets holders. All of my goals and wishes for the company have come to fruition, including finding a permanent home for the opera. Knowing that this will happen in 2014 at The Tobin Center fills my heart with pride. Most importantly, the goal of making San Antonio a regional spotlight for opera, again, after a 50 year tradition set by the San Antonio Symphony, has also been accomplished. My concentration has always been on finding the best voices to sing for our dedicated patrons. Many of these operatic talents are tomorrow’s superstars, such as the mega talent we have been fortunate in presenting in our city, such as Placido Domingo, Andre Bocelli and Jose Carreras. Concerts such as these have garnered national acclaim for San Antonio.
My emotions and respect run very deeply for the incredible musicians that accompany each opera, some of whom have played in the opera orchestra for 15 years. The opera is extremely fortunate to have such loyal talent in the pit. It has been my great honor of working with some of our city’s fine vocalists through the years, especially the opera’s very talented and hard working chorus. These passionate singers give so much and do it entirely for the love of the art. There have been friendships made with agents, artist managers and fellow opera associates through the years. My greatest hopes are they remain strong and productive, as new leaders of the opera continue to enhance the reputation of producing with high standards of excellence.
The decision to leave the San Antonio Opera was a difficult one to make, but the desire to pursue other passions and avenues in my life is a powerful calling. At 26, my ambition chose a door to enter which has led me to a treasure of filled with music and friends. Now at 43, there is an excitement hoping that the next door in my life will be as wonderful as the last. I may be leaving San Antonio Opera, however it will always and forever be close to my heart.

Best Wishes,
Mark A. Richter
Founder Emeritus

Big Sing

Ready, set, sing! The season’s first Conspirare Big Sing (where the audience is the choir) is coming up next week! Vocalists should start warming up those pipes now - sing in the shower, the car, on the trail. Clear your schedule for 6pm on Thursday, November 17 and go to downtown Austin and join the ensemble. Remember, no experience is needed for this FREE opportunity to make truly beautiful music together with several hundred singing friends. Conducted by Craig Hella Johnson and hosted by the Conspirare Symphonic Choir.

Vote on Facebook for the song you’d most like to sing on November 17, choosing from several suggested by Craig Hella Johnson. Like their Facebook page (if you haven’t already) and watch for voting instructions in the next few days. Make your voice heard in more ways than one!

Conspirare - we sing together
Thursday, November 17, 6:00 pm
First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity St., Austin
FREE admission

Listen to an interview with Craig Hella Johnson about Conspirare's latest cd, Sing Freedom! with John Clare.

Monday, November 7, 2011

O'Riley Radiohead tour conspiracy

Coincidence? We think not!

Radiohead March 1 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena

Christopher O’Riley 2 March, 2012 -- Out Of My Hands recital, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Here's SOLI in one of O'Riley's arrangements of Radiohead - SOLI Chamber Ensemble performs next Monday and Tuesday!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The pianist behind the curtain…

There are extroverts and then there are the rest of us. Adolph Henselt was a great pianist in a time of great performers and yet we know little about him because of an unfortunate accident, he had a memory slip. This happens to pianists and when it happened in Henselt's debut recital he tried to find his way, could not and fled the stage and this traumatized the artist. It is unfortunate because the pianist had a lot to offer. Liszt spoke of Henselt's "velvet paws" and said he would have to work to develop what Henselt already achieved. Other artists were amazed by the stretches in the composer's music and wondered if Henselt was a freak of nature. He wasn't, but few pianists worked as diligently on their technique as this German who would sit at a piano with damped strings playing Bach's fugues while talking to friends for hours at a time.

For a glimpse of what all this hard work accomplished tune to the Piano this Sunday afternoon at 5 on KPAC and KTXI and let music from one of the quiet geniuses of the Romantic movement sweep you away.

host, Randy Anderson

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Donizetti & Mary Stuart's Great Drama

Whether you believe that Mary Stuart was the most amoral, conniving and ruthless female of Elizabethan England or the most tragic victim of overwhelming and relentless circumstances and doomed to tragic grandeur, her life is one of the great historical dramas. It was the kind of life that was perhaps made even more interesting because of the contradictions and controversies that rage to this day. It was a story made for opera (and later film,with Glenda Jackson as Liz and Vanessa Redgrave as Mary) and has been dramatized for the stage most famously by Schiller(1800) then the musical theatre by Donizetti (1835) and into our own with Thea Musgrave's 1977 composition .

To be tied to three great kingdoms such as France, Scotland and England by marriage or birthright.To marry three times with mounting and catastrophic results. To live in an unending enmity with a powerful sister always wary of the dangers that haunted her reign; to be the focus of religious fanatics, to be pursued by men both bewitched by her beauty and grace and even more enthralled with power. It was inevitable perhaps that she was marked for both exceptionalism and martyrdom. From the unceasing fear of Queen Elizabeth's advisors,afraid she would spark rebellion or the Scots nobles terrified of a triumphant return. It speaks volumes that neither exile nor impoverishment (she left Scotland literally with nothing and had to barter for clothes with the family silver), nor the forging of the Casket Letters to implicate her in the murder of her second husband or finally even the strategic abandoning her to the wilderness of Bolton Castle followed by almost 19 years of virtual imprisonment. None of this was enough, only her death would suffice.

Tune in to this Saturday Afternoon at the Opera presentation of Donizetti's Maria Stuarda,with Beverly Sills as the tragic heroine and Eileen Farrell as Elizabeth, this Saturday at noon on KPAC and KTXI.

host, Ron Moore

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Paul Moravec

Today composer Paul Moravec turns 54 years young. He'll have a world premiere this January in San Antonio with SOLI Chamber Ensemble, basing a quartet on Beethoven's Grosse Fuge - part of the Beethoven Festival.
Moravec is also the commissioned composer for the San Antonio International Piano Competition in October 2012 and will be in town to judge.
Host John Clare has interviewed Moravec numerous times and shares this insightful talk from 2006: mp3 file
We'll have more coverage with Paul this January and October, but wish Paul a very happy birthday!
From WQXR a live performance of Moravec's Pulitzer Prize winning Tempest Fantasy:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cadenzas at ten paces

We thought we'd put the cadenzas to Mozart's Piano Concerto #23 through the paces as it has been in the news lately with Hélène Grimaud and Claudio Abbado.

First, you can see the musical scores in is the musical score of Mozart's cadenza (the one Abbado preferred) [pdf]
The one Hélène preferred, by Busoni [pdf]
An alternate cadenza by Muller [pdf]

Next, take a listen to the passages in question with host John Clare [mp3 file]

The New Yorker has a great profile of Grimaud here, and be sure to check out the last time Grimaud was in Houston and spoke with Clare.

Here's some fun, a mashup of three cadenzas of Grimaud, Abbado and Lubin for the 23rd Piano Concerto, first movement, listen to an mp3 created by John Clare here.

After all this, the 2nd movement is stunning and beautiful: