Would that I wouldn't have to write the word "women" in front of "conductors" above, but we still must as they continue to lag far behind men on the podium of orchestras, especially major ones. And this with more women playing in major orchestras then men now -- at least I think that is the case. If it isn't, the League of American Orchestra will correct me becuase it is admirably working on the issue of the unbalance.
Its latest effort is its awarding of grants to "Four Outstanding Women
Cesa-Goje, Mei-Ann Chen, Alondra de la Parra and
Tomaro. They will each receive $10,000. It's not McArthur genius money, but it won't hurt. Neither will the attention to them and to the issue. I really can't wait until the next generation or so of women advancing in this field. Already there are many who are showing that Marin Alsop soon won't be the only woman at a major U.S. orchestra. You don't have to be a feminist to realize this imbalence is unhealthy for the industry and actually, simply wrong. We don't need affirmative action, per se, but fundamental support such as this to help overcome the lingering sexism or whatever it is that keeps half the population of talent musicians from legitimately competing for top positions here and elsewhere in the world.
Here is the presser:
York, NY] The League of American Orchestras has awarded
Grants to four Outstanding Women Conductors: Mihaela
Cesa-Goje, Mei-Ann Chen, Alondra de la Parra, and Annunziata Tomaro. The
grants, of $10,000 each, are given to women conductors who have demonstrated
that they are ready for national and international careers, committed to a
career with American orchestras, and current members of the League. The
recipients, selected by a committee of distinguished representatives from the
orchestra field, will use the grants for expenses associated with their personal
and professional development. The Women Conductors Grant Program is made
possible through the generous support of the Gabilan Foundation, The Bruno
Walter Memorial Foundation, Sage Foundation, and Argosy
"These grants are designed to provide important career
assistance to conductors who are already well on their way, and in so doing,
advance the position of women conductors in America," said Jesse Rosen, President
and CEO of the League. "The level of talent and diversity of the four
recipients bodes well for the future vitality of America's
Carnegie Mellon University composer Reza Vali, a native of Iran, is getting in the instrument building business, so to speak. With Eric Barndollar, Vali is developing a computer-based keyboard with software to reproduce sounds of traditional Persian instruments and Middle Eastern tuning systems. He calls it the Arghonoon and he will give a demonstration 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 2, in the Studio for
Creative Inquiry, Room 111, College of
Fine Arts, on the CMU campus. There will also be a performance on the santoor by master Dariush Saghafi.
"Vali's hope is that this technology will allow instruments of any
culture and tuning system to be digitally retuned and played along with
instruments of any other culture," says a release by CMU.
You must have an invitation to attend, but you can get one by RSVPing if you are interested to: Marge Myers 412-268-3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manfred Honeck, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's music director, has recently stated that he is pulling back on guest engagements because of his primary committments with the PSO, Stuttgart Opera and the Czech Philharmonic. In fact, this season he has no guest conducting engagements at all, and he is pulling out of Stuttgart. But he apparently had enough time for Alan Fletcher, the head of the Aspen Music Festival and the former head of the Carnegied Mellon University School of Music and perhaps most importantly, a composer who has had a two PSO commissions in the Honeck era. Whatever the reason, Honeck will help Fletcher fill out the gap left by the abrupt quiting of AMF music director David Zinman. Honeck will conduct July 16, when he is in the United States to led the PSO in a short run out to a Festival near Montrea. Here's guessing he feels at home among mountains as specacular as the Austrian Alps of his homeland.
I have my artistic reservations about Lang Lang, but I love how he communicates with today's audiences through the world we know. the latest example is his encore on the new iPad at a recent concert. It's from Davies Hall in San Fran and he is playing "Flight of the Bumblebee."
Read all about the fantastic new production of Mozart's masterpiece at Pittsburgh Opera.
After Mariss Jansons' heart attack in 1997 and intallation of a defibrillator (in Pittsburgh) shortly after, it's easy to see why news organizations are jumpy when it comes to the former Pittsburgh Symphony maestro's health.
He has recently undergone an "unspecified" operation that will cause him to withdraw from some orchestra concerts and a gala performance of "Carmen" at Vienna State Opera. That surgery must be something serious since it's hard to imagine Jansons making the decision lightly to cancel his debut for that esteemed house in the city he studied in years ago.
But on the other hand, Jansons has extended his contract with one of his two orchestras, the
Bavarian Radio Symphony (based in Munich), and various European news services say that that orchestra is certain Jansons will return to conducting this season. So here's hoping it's not as grave as might be suggested. And let's wish him well.
OK, remember how kind I have been over the years in reviews that could've been been written more meanly when you look at "The Beat," the video feature that I do with the Post-Gazette's pop critic, Scott Mervis.
We had been on P-G Plus, the Post-Gazette's pay site, but it was moved this week to the free site, www.post-gazette.com. It's a bit embarassing being so front and center, but it is fun, too. We talk about music events and issues both local and national, and those that fit in between our beats (or at least can be discussed from a pop and classical vantage point.)
Look, it is pretty raw. We were originally asked to just sit in front of a web cam at a computer and say what we are working on, but I foolishly said we should shoot for more! But where "The Beat" lacks in production value and preperation, it makes up in passion, knowledge, behind the scenes stories and maybe even some comedy. Or at least you can laugh at us.
I have known Scott for a decade, sat next to him for years, seen his wonderful family expand and grow up and we have a good rapport together. Look, we both love music and love bringing it to people, and if this is another way (and if it helps us keep our jobs doing this as journalism changes) then it's all good. But just be aware -- we don't even have make-up people here, and no producer. It's often spur of the moment and fun, and I hope it is taken in that light. We plan to put a new one up each week, give or take vacations and other things that take our time.
Classical music needs to change its concert presentation, but aping pop formats is often not the right way to go.
I believe it, but in this case, I will let someone else say it, in this consisely stated blog.
Have you seen that Renee Fleming, probably still America's leading soprano, is stretching over to the pop realm -- and indie at that -- to sing songs by the likes of Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie, Leonard Cohen, Band of Horses and more? I never knew she was cool, but obviously seeing her new press photo she has some emo angst to her! This album, out on Decca June 8, might be a bust, but I admire her openmindedness to the notion that art exists outside the classical/operatic framework:
I've always been inspired by
artists who have shown musical and intellectual curiosity and the courage to
take risks. Because everything about the voice interests me, I felt it would be
fascinating to learn a completely different style of singing."
and its techniques:
"Singing in a small, acoustic booth, with a microphone that's
very close, in this very intimate style, is the complete opposite of how I
Interestingly, Fleming's daughters and sister also sing on the album. We'll see. She is set to open the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra season in September.
Here are the songs:
Endlessly (Muse) No One's Gonna
Love You (Band of Horses) Oxygen (Willy Mason) Today (Jefferson
Airplane) Intervention (Arcade Fire) With Twilight As My Guide (The Mars
Volta) Mad World (Tears for Fears) In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel)
Stepping Stone (Duffy) Soul Meets Body (Death Cab For Cutie)
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)
Dan Kamin the mime is at it again in Asia. He recently performed in Kaosiung, Taiwan. where the Pittsburgh Symphony played last May, to an adoring audience he says. Kamin also says he signed autographs for hundreds. The Chinese and Taiwanese can't seem to get enough of those miming moves!
Conductor Marek Janowski will not make any appearances at the Pittsburgh Symphony next season, but he will be plenty busy. He will conduct ten Wagner operas for stage with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin starting in November and running till May 2013. Yikes! That's a lot of Wagner.
It starts with "The Flying Dutchman" November 13, 2010, and then travels through "Parsifal," "Meistersinger" "Tannhauser" "Tristan" and other, and of course, "The Ring" all in honor of Richard Wagner's 200th
You may or may not be aware that Janowski's claim to fame is for his complete recording of Wagner's "Ring" with the Staatskapelle Dresden from the 1980's.
As I am sure you have already heard, the tensions at the Aspen Music Festival have again boiled over, with long-time music director David Zinman resigning abruptly a little over a week ago. I just got the mailing about its new season, and it still lists him prominently! Now comes word from that Alan Fletcher, formerly head of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Music, may get a vote of no-confidence from the faculty. He has already been fired and hired once in the last year. Too bad for Fletcher, who while he had his critics here, did a great deal of good for CMU. And too bad also for the gem that is the Aspen Music Festival. Here's hoping they come to a point where they can get back to focusing on being a, if not the, top music festival in America.
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