Renee Fleming

2013 IN REVIEW: CLASSICAL MUSIC’S YEAR OF EXTREMES

We started 2013 in conflict, and we ended the year in grief, processing two senseless deaths.

But in between, Rochester's music lovers witnessed great triumphs.

2013: A YEAR OF HIGHS

Legato

Legato    adv. & adj. Abbr. leg.

The Doctor and the Diva

Nutritionists will tell you it’s dangerous to shop for food when you’re hungry and more likely to wander into Twinkieland.  For me, the real peril lurks in Wegmans’ book aisle, where on a recent Friday afternoon, I picked up The Doctor and the Diva, the debut novel by Adrienne McDonnell.   “Some books just naturally enslave you,” read the Washington Post blub on

La ci darem la mano - Variations on Sinatra and Mozart

Which is stranger: Danny Kaye conducting the New York Philharmonic or Frank Sinatra singing opera?

Check it out here in the movie “It Happened in Brooklyn” (1947), Sinatra sings in “La ci darem la mano” – a duet from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, where the Don seduces Zerlina.


News and views

Let’s talk image.  This week, two leading critics offered harsh assessments of the deadly blandness of classical musicians’ wardrobes.

News and views

You may see less arts coverage in the Democrat and Chronicle. The daily paper’s classical music, jazz and dance reporter and critic, Anna Reguero, is leaving to pursue her doctorate in musicology.  (You can hear our conversation about changes she’s seen in Rochester by clicking here.)  She will not be replaced.  In a city with a widespread affinity for music of all kinds, the decision by Rochester’s daily paper to not hire a new music writer is troubling but not surprising.

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!

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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Friday's Mystery piece was a song to the moon

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Breathing lessons

Since resigning my post as the organist and choirmaster for an Episcopal church, I’ve been singing for mere pleasure. But lately (maybe because I have more time for self-reflection) I’m noticing a couple of troubling things about my voice. After practices lasting more than two hours, I sound half an octave higher when I speak. That can’t be good. I must be tense.

The other issue is my ability to sustain a phrase. I run out of breath too quickly. 

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