Glimmerglass Opera

AS YOU WISH, the top classical music stories in Rochester in 2010

Let’s recall the top classical music news stories in 2010 in Rochester, New York, with a nod to the Rob Reiner film, The Princess Bride.

NOT UNEMPLOYED IN GREENLAND     RPO Music Director Christopher Seaman announced his retirement at end of the 2010-2011 season.  Norwegian conductor Arild Remmeriet will step up as RPO’s new music director in 2011. Glimmerglass Opera announced that Francesca Zambello will be new executive director in 2011.

MUCH NICER THAN THE FIRE SWAMP   Eastman School of Music opened a new wing with dramatic atrium, recital hall, rehearsal spaces, and eye-popping hanging glass sculpture.

INCONCEIVABLE!   Rochester entrepreneur Tim Enright launched Virtuoso Television, or VTV, an internet service for musicians to record and store music lessons online for reference in future practice sessions.

HELLO, MY NAME IS “GIBBS AND MAIN”     Rochester chamber ensemble Quartsemble changed moniker.

NEVER GO AGAINST A STRING PLAYER WHEN DEATH IS ON THE LINE    RPO principal violist Melissa Matson stepped on needle, performed Harold in Italy with injured foot. RPO principal cellist Stefan Reuss fell and injured ribs and wrist, missing first few weeks of concert season.

A GREAT GIFT FOR RHYME    Baritone Jonathan Beyer earned Rochester Oratorio Society’s annual Classical Idol top prize with compelling performance of aria from "Nixon on China." Composer Cary Ratcliff gets oratorio "Ode to Common Things" published. Composer Amanda Jacobs won national award for "Mass for the Living."

HER APPEAL IS UNDENIABLE    Soprano Renee Fleming released “Dark Hope,” a collection of pop covers of songs by groups such as Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie and Leonard Cohen. Rochester chamber choir Madrigalia premiered new work by Libby Larsen; Larsen visits.

NO ONE WITHSTANDS THE MACHINE  Michael Daughtery piano concerto, “Deus Ex Machina” co-commissioned by the RPO, earned 2010 Grammy nomination.  The Eastman's Ying Quartet was also nominated for a Grammy.

ANYBODY WANT A PEANUT?   Several Western New York public schools named “Best Communities for Music Education” in the United States by the non-profit NAMM Foundation; Albion Central School District, Brighton, Leroy, Pittsford, Royalton-Hartland Central School District, Rush-Henrietta, Webster, West Irondequoit.

Congratulations and Happy New Year!

What I did on my summer vacation, part 1

I whooshed past a field of goldenrod today. A blur of yellow.  The summer itself feels like a blur, a grainy Polaroid with indistinct lines and a few dabs of color. 

In July I spent four days at Glimmerglass Opera (read my review of the season here).  It’s a hobbit-y part of country, a slightly tamer, more cultivated hollow of the Finger Lakes.   The hills cradle you close, and the lake echoes the blue stillness of the skies.  I’ve been going to Glimmerglass for several years, and this time I was thrilled to discover (in addition to a newly-opened coffee shop across the road from the Young Artists’ headquarters) a small nature preserve behind the Alice Busch Opera Theater.  A trail leads to a raised boardwalk through the marsh where green dragonflies, blue herons, and flying squirrels dart through the trees. Enchanting.

There was another surprise.   I stayed in a small motel on Lake Otsego.  Across the street sat a large, grand white inn with a huge, wrap-around porch and a “For Sale” sign sticking out of the weeds.  Sumac trees jutted out of the garden beds. The roof was caving in.  The paint, peeling.  I couldn’t resist, so I walked across the road, climbed up crumbling concrete stairs and past the yawning cellar door onto the porch. It was as quiet as an Egyptian tomb. I peered into one of the front windows, into a vast room filled with light.  At first, I thought it was totally empty; no pictures on the wall, no furniture, no stuff. Then my eyes fell on a metal cage in the middle of the room and a very-much-alive black and white rabbit looking back at me, calmly munching pellets. I loved that rabbit.

Sometimes the best things happen when you peer past the facade.  Part the curtain and look.

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Summer travels

Summer gives you the chance to enjoy music in unusual settings.  Lakes. Woods. Corn fields. Festivals are popping up all over the region.  Last week I had the privilege of seeing four operas at Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown and interviewing the incoming director, Francesca Zambello.

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