MA Bloggers Span the U.S.

by Sedgwick Clark

First New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert as a Musical America blogger and now Los Angeles Opera Music Director James Conlon. Welcome Maestro Conlon!

His blog, entitled “A Rich Possession,” made its debut last Thursday, February 16, and demonstrated that those who love the arts really can make a difference. All of us have seen government funding for the arts tank during the current money crunch. But when the L.A. School Board proposed cutting all arts instruction in elementary classes, Conlon writes, “The public outcry against these cuts was loud and clear—and effective.”

The elementary school years are the most impressionable time for introduction to the arts. Thank goodness for Mrs. Kirk, the music teacher at Westview Elementary in Muncie. She taught me clarinet in second grade, and every Halloween she played a recording of Saint-Saëns’s Danse macabre, which fired my imagination and a love for classical music that burns unabated.

Read Conlon’s eloquent letter to the superintendant of the L.A. Board of Education and watch for his further contributions in the list of blogs on the right side of the Web site home page.

Copland House Comes to Manhattan

For years I’ve been tempted by Music from Copland House concerts, at Aaron Copland’s National Historic Landmark home in New York’s lower Hudson Valley, but they always seemed out of reach. On Monday (2/20), however, the Mountain came to Mohammed when several of the ensemble’s artists played a tasty program of mostly lightish American music at a dual benefit concert at Christ and St. Stephens Church on West 69th Street.

Following a performance by students and teachers of UpBeat NYC, a “grassroots organization” in the South Bronx modeled after El Sistema, the Copland House portion began with a world premiere by Rob Smith of Chaw, followed by works by Pierre Jalbert, Paul Schoenfield, Derek Bermel, Copland, and Grainger. All were executed winningly, especially Copland’s Vitebsk, which was given a stunning reading by violinist Harumi Rhodes, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and pianist Michael Boriskin.

Music from Copland House next performs in Manhattan at the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall on March 28.

Callas in My Dotage

This being the video and audio age, it seems asinine that people would watch films on computers, in the air, or, god forbid, on a cell anything. Lincoln Center to the rescue!

LC has been offering live-performance and documentary films for many years at Walter Reade Theater. I’ve attended numerous screenings even when I own the DVDs for the same reason I go to old movies in a theater: They were made for each other. I have a lot of Bernstein videos, but I still go to the Reade when they are shown. (How about his Verdi Requiem, Jane?) I hope that one of these days a Carlos Kleiber video festival will pop up. But I especially go for the artists I never experienced live, and this year it’s Maria Callas.

I often say that I’m saving such-and-such for my dotage, when there are no performers around anymore capable of producing what I want to hear in, say, Mahler, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, et al.—and that’s happening with alarming rapidity! Most music before Haydn, Schubert, and grand opera fall into my dotage category. Of course I have Callas’s irreplaceable 1954 recording of Tosca but none of her bel canto efforts. (Tristan, Otello, Pelléas, Bluebeard’s Castle, and Lulu are my favored operatic speed.)

So I’m looking forward to the first two Callas on Film presentations at the Reade on March 17. There’s one on the 18th too, but I can’t resist another of Leon Botstein’s last-chance-in-a-lifetime concerts over at Carnegie at the same hour—this time of Franz Schmidt’s opera Notre Dame.

Looking Forward

My week’s scheduled concerts:

2/22 Alice Tully Hall. Britten Sinfonia/Thomas Adès (conductor and piano); Pekka Kuusisto (violin). Couperin: Les baricades mistérieuses. Couperin (arr. Adès): Les baricades mistérieuses. Adès: Three Studies After Couperin. Ravel: Le tombeau de Couperin. Stravinsky (arr. Dushkin): Airs du rossignol et March chinoise; Suite Nos. 1 and 2. Adès: Violin Concerto, Concentric Paths.

2/24 Carnegie Hall. Berlin Philharmonic/Simon Rattle. Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 (completed performance edition by Samale-Phillips-Cohrs-Mazzuca, rev. 2011).

2/25 Carnegie Hall. Berlin Philharmonic/Simon Rattle; Camilla Tilling, soprano; Bernarda Fink, mezzo; Westminster Symphonic Choir. Wolf: “Elfenlied”; “Der Feuerreiter”; “Frühlingschor” from Manuel Venegas. Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”).

2/26 at 3 p.m. Avery Fisher Hall. Pittsburgh Symphony/Manfred Honeck; Hilary Hahn, violin. Stucky: Silent Spring. Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5.

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