Brenda Tremblay's blog

A conversation with composer Cary Ratcliff

Congratulations on an incredibly prolific year!   You’ve released several new albums including a new recording of your opera "Eleni" and "For Better, For Worse, Songs About Marriage" and "On This Day, Earth Shall Ring."  How did you do it all? 

Yep, the year was like an all-out Triple Jump. You get a good running start, keep your eye on the last jump, and hope you land on your feet, not your behind. The two Madrigalia albums were based on the first two concerts I have done with them, and it was satisfying capturing the great sounds they have been making. My opera recording has been a dream for several years, and when Katie Lewek, my lead singer, gave me eight months' notice that she would have two weeks to come to Rochester last summer to record, I set out orchestrating the material for an 'affordable' size orchestra. I trained the choruses, and rounded up and rehearsed with the many solo characters. Finally we added 30 RPO colleagues, which brought it all to life.  I conducted the sessions, which was very satisfying as things came together. Everyone brought such dedication to it, and I am pleased that we got so much challenging music done well, so that listeners may know what this opera sounds like. 

O sweet spontaneous

About two weeks ago I woke up and found that I couldn’t keep anything down.  Since I know so much about medicine (NOT), I diagnosed myself with a stomach bug and curled up into a ball, waiting for the pain to go away.  It didn’t.  It got worse, in fact, and so after another day I called a nurse friend and asked for advice.  She suggested that I was suffering from something far more dangerous than the flu -- appendicitis -- and she made me promise to go to the local emergency room.   So I did.  She was right.  She probably saved my life.

This Women's World

A few years ago, pianist and professor Sylvie Beaudette conducted an experiment.

In her music history class at Eastman, she played pieces by male and female composers from each major era side by side without revealing the composers' gender. She paired an opera excerpt by Monteverdi with a cantata excerpt by Francesca Caccini. She compared music of Couperin (a man) with that of Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre (a woman). She contrasted a German lied by Robert Schumann with Josephine Lang's, and she paired chamber music by Ernest Bloch with a piece by Rebecca Clarke.

The 2015 Rochester Classical Idol Vocal Competition

It's a pleasure to support the choral arts in Rochester by listening to inspired singing in the Classical Idol Competition, an annual fundraiser for the Rochester Oratorio Society.  I've been honored to served as the emcee for several years. This year I took a few pictures from the stage.  Enjoy!

Found object

Look what I found backstage the other day when I was hosting "Live from Hochstein." It's a diagram of the set up for a performance of the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610 at the Hochstein Performance Hall on Sunday, April 19th at 4:00 p.m.

Big Ears

What does "avant-guarde" mean in 2015?  Good question.  This piece on The Newshour caught my attention for a couple of reasons. First, it involves the Kronos Quartet still being amazing.  Second, Rochester is absolutely ready for a music festival like this.

The many facets of David Diamond

This morning I sat down to talk with Peter Elliot, a friend and former neighbor of the late composer David Diamond.  At Jines on Park Avenue (with the fabulous mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe eating breakfast only a few tables away!) Peter pulled out a white plastic bag stuffed with treasures: a whimsical letter from David to his kid brother (see picture below), the first Diamond LP he owned, and a fistful of old photos of the composer spending time with the Elliot family on Edgerton Street.

"This is Mr. Copland's House"

During my sojourn to Copland House, I talked with pianist and Artistic and Executive Director Michael Boriskin. In this podcast, you'll hear the story of how a grassroots movement saved Aaron Copland's house, how the composer thought to honor his favorite teacher in his garden, and how the house serves to promote the creation of new music. 

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Aaron Copland

I recently made a pilgrimage to the Copland House north of New York City.  It's pretty much as he left it: simple, rustic, and woodsy.  A little musty.  Watch this space for more, including an interview with the composer-in-residence, Stephen Snowden, and enjoy this scrapbook.



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