WXXI Classical Blog

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.

»

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!

»

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.

»

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.

»

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.

»

Weekend Update


Monday night, June 9th, the RPO plays Métaboles (Metamorphoses) by the living French composer Henri Dutilleux.

“In the conception of this work,” Dutilleux wrote, “the composer never ceased to dream of the mysterious and compelling realm of eternal metamorphosis. The spirit and the form of the music find their origins in an intense contemplation of nature.”

Hear it Monday at 8:00 p.m. on Classical 91.5 FM, 90.3 or streaming.

»

Good for her

Dramatic soprano Deborah Voigt lost a ton of weight and ran into an old flame. There's video!

»

Total Re-Carmina

I was just delivered a copy of the RPO’s performance of Carmina Burana! I’m almost afraid to listen to it.

RPO principal flutist Rebecca Gilbert once told me she put off hearing recordings of herself in live performances, especially ones that went well. Said she’d rather hold onto her memory.

I think I know what she means. But I'll listen anyway and report back.

»

ER Symphony

Just nights ago I had the unexpected experience of spending about six hours in a hospital emergency room (no worries - everything ended up fine). However, while I was there, alone, awaiting test results, and desperately wanting to sleep, I found myself somewhat comforted by the ER Symphony I began to hear.

»

Three quotes from Debussy

Claude DebussyClaude Debussy
I love music passionately. And because l love it, I try to free it from barren traditions that stifle it. It is a free art gushing forth — an open-air art, boundless as the elements, the wind, the sky, the sea.

The century of airplanes has a right to its own music.

The colour of my soul is iron-grey and sad bats wheel about the steeple of my dreams.

Tags:
»