Brenda Tremblay's blog

Loverly

I just downloaded the new Cassandra Wilson album, "Loverly," and I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s an album of standards, morphed into Wilson’s own hypnotic creations. My favorite tune after two listens -- “Dust my Broom.”
Gary Giddins’ profile in the New Yorker omits the mention of “Blue Skies,” Wilson's first inventive album of standards. "Loverly" is natural, elegant, open. I love it.

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worse still was the prospect of an honorable mention

On Monday night, conductor Eric Townell announced that the Rochester Oratorio Society (ROS) had been invited to enter a singing contest in Beijing, a kind of Chinese Idol with four judges and prizes and everything. After hearing more about it, he decided we would not compete, since three of the judges are Chinese and the other is Polish. It seemed likely, Eric said, that politics might influence the outcome. Needless pressure.

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the mediator


Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
- Ludwig van Beethoven

Update: Due to a technical error during the broadcast, WXXI will re-air this concert Sunday afternoon, June 29th at 1:00 p.m.

Hear Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony (Symphony No. 6) played by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Monday at 8:00 p.m. on Classical 91.5 FM, 90.3 or streaming.

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Two songs, one about a radish

Composer Cary Ratcliff has graciously given me permission to post two songs for you from his new CD, “Kathryn Lewek Sings the Music of Cary Ratcliff.”

Click below to hear “Travel” and “The Radish.”

Click here to see my article about Cary in this week’s City newspaper.

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Gothic coolness

I finally made it to the Rochester International Jazz Festival last night.

It was cloudy and chilly. A few hundred people milled around Gibbs Street, and most wore jackets or sweatshirts. Smoke from vendors’ booths drifted down past Eastman Theatre, and a line snaked around the corner for David Murray's Black Saint Quartet in Kilbourn Hall. The sight of the crowds made me happy.

China trip II

We got our visas. But that wasn't all.

In less than a month, about eighty singers (including myself) will land in Beijing to sing in a Pre-Olympic Cultural Festival. On Monday night, members of the Rochester Oratorio Society finally received their passports with Chinese visas pasted in, marked in each booklet by a paper clip. Besides the visas, our conductor, Eric Townell, passed out three new pieces of music. Less than four weeks before the trip! We leave July 12th.

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Deus ex Machina

Music by black and Latino composers accounts for less than one percent of the music performed by American orchestras each year. The Sphinx Commissioning Consortium aims to boost that percentage. Last week, it announced that Puerto Rican-born Roberto Sierra has been selected to compose the first work commissioned by twelve American orchestras, including the RPO.

BTW, Monday night, June 16th at 8:00 p.m. the RPO plays the Rochester premiere of different a piece it co-commissioned in 2007, Deus ex Machina. It's not a game. Click here for a preview!

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Flute gallery


Last week, flutist Bonita Boyd came to WXXI to perform on a live, in-studio show, Backstage Pass. To promote her appearance, I pulled out her excellent CD of Niccolo Paganini’s 24 Caprices, Op. 1, a set of mind-bogglingly difficult violin solos Boyd plays deftly on the flute. Looking at the CD cover, I wondered, what’s with the old car? The expanse of leg? The sexy smile? Paganini, a randy charmer, would most heartily approve.

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Radish-struck

Next week, composer-pianist Cary Ratcliff releases a new recording of art songs. Elegant and spare, many explore the cusp of change, the breath before a new reality takes shape.

I’ve been writing a piece for City newspaper, and I got an advanced copy of Ratcliff’s songs, interpreted by soprano Katie Lewek. They’re luscious and addictive.

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Music you didn't even know you needed to know about

She does it once a week.

In her radio feature “What in the World is Music?” Eastman musicologist Ellen Koskoff takes listeners to some far-flung locale and listens to strange sounds humans make. They might be the yodels of a Bulgarian shepherd serenading the shepherdess babe in the field next door or a Balinese fisherman wailing a song about entrails. Sometimes the singers sound like cats. As the music plays, Ellen describes what’s happening in journalistic language.

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