Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Music News Up-Dates

Just some news links, this post, while I work on a more detailed but non-musical post about my having finished (finally) Tolstoy’s War & Peace this past weekend as well as a future post about progress on the new violin and piano piece I've been working on (slowly) all summer, the Aria & Chaconne.

British conductor Vernon Handley died on Tuesday at the age of 77, having conducted concerts just this past August. He was a conductor whose recordings, many of them on the Chandos label, featured frequently in playlists at WITF-FM when I was music director there. Especially cherished were his recordings of English composers, Elgar and Bax perhaps foremost but Vaughan Williams’ symphonies especially come to my mind, though some of these have been supplanted by more recent fare from Richard Hickox (especially the 5th).

Another conductor makes an exit – though this one under the category, “long-range planning.” Gerard Schwarz plans to step down at the end of the 2010-2011 season when his contract expires at the Seattle Symphony. As Handley was best known for his recordings of British composers, Schwarz’s greatest contribution, outside of Seattle, might easily be his many recordings of American composers, especially Howard Hanson’s and David Diamond’s music.

In the Continuing Career Moves Department: Joyce DiDonato, an amazing mezzo whom many of you may have discovered during the Metropolitan Opera HD Movie Broadcast of Rossini’s Barber of Seville, blogs about her experiences while getting ready for a new role, singing Donna Elvira in Mozart's Don Giovanni. for the first time ever. In London. Not just for the first performance of the run but for the Opening Night of the whole opera season. With a continent-wide broadcast beamed into movie theaters across Europe. Not much pressure...

She’s not at the Met this season but she will be joining the New York Philharmonic in May ‘09 to sing the world premiere of Peter Lieberson’s The World in Flower, which he had begun composing for his wife, mezzo Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, prior to her death from breast cancer and before he was himself diagnosed with cancer. I certainly hope to be there – I think John Clare may already be checking his advance schedule to see if he can make it in from San Antonio!

Oh, and I want to point out a new link in the blog-bar on the right, Scanning the Dial, especially for those interested in questions about “Classical Music on the Radio.” I’ve been getting lots of comments and questions about this since mid-June, so this would be a good site for people to check in with. Here’s a link to Wednesday’s post about radio station music blogs, but they also cover a variety of broadcast issues ranging from news about individual stations to broader issues like how stations are dealing with new “post-iPhone” technology, and commentary about research that is affecting the programming of classical music on radio stations across the country, including WITF-FM here in Central Pennsylvania.

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I’ll be posting soon about some concerts in the area coming up NEXT week – the Cypress Quartet will be returning to the mid-state for a residency at Lebanon Valley College which will include some master classes and a free public performance Thursday evening, September 18th, with works by Haydn, Beethoven and Debussy.

And then Concertante’s season begins that Saturday, the 20th, at Harrisburg Area Community College’s Rose Lehrman Arts Center in a performance that will include chamber music with oboe by Mozart and Britten plus Johannes Brahms’ String Sextet in G, Op. 111. I’ll be doing the pre-concert talks for all their concerts this season, so stop by and say hello.

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