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Clarke Bustard
The Virginia Classical Music Blog
1331 Entries

Penguins in Antarctica flee in alarm as man sings
“O Solo Mio.”


(The New York Times’ Gail Collins linked to this in a column about the impact of cruise ships on nature and the environment.)
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Ralph Stanley, the Southwest Virginia singer and banjoist, one of the last surviving first-generation figures who transformed Appalachian balladry and string-band music into the bluegrass style, has died at 89.

The Stanley Brothers, Ralph and Carter, led one of the most successful bluegrass bands in the 1940s and ’50s. After Carter Stanley’s death in 1966, Ralph Stanley took over as a leader of the band, the Clinch Mountain Boys, in time becoming a mentor to a new generation of bluegrass and “neo-traditional” country musicians.

Late in life, Ralph Stanley achieved mass popularity through performances in the soundtrack of the film
“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000), and was recognized as an icon of American folk music.

Among the honors he received were a National Medal of Arts, a Living Legend Award from the Library of Congress, and the Traditional American Music Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

An obituary by Terence McArdle for The Washington Post:

2 months ago | |
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June 23
3-5 p.m. EDT
1900-2100 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Holst: “St. Paul’s Suite”
Camerata Wales/
Owain Arwel Hughes

Janácek: “In the Mists”
Piotr Anderszewski, piano (Virgin Classics)

J.S. Bach: Orchestral Suite
No. 2 in B minor, BWV 1067
Ernst-Burghard Hilse, flute
Akademie für alte Musik Berlin
(Harmonia Mundi)

Beethoven: Quartet
in C sharp minor, Op. 131
Cypress String Quartet

“Symphony of Psalms”
Collegium Vocale Gent
Royal Flemish Philharmonic/
Philippe Herreweghe
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June 16
3-5 p.m. EDT
1900-2100 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Glinka: “Ruslan and Lyudmila” Overture
London Symphony
Georg Solti

Past Masters:
Mozart: Quartet
in B flat major,
K. 458 (“Hunt”)
Quartetto Italiano (Philips)
(recorded 1966)

Piano Concerto No. 4 in C minor
Stephen Hough, piano
City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/
Sakari Oramo

Jennifer Higdon:
“String Poetic”
Jennifer Koh, violin
Reiko Uchida, piano (Çedille)

Schubert: Symphony No. 5 in B flat major
Les Musiciens du Louvre, Grenoble/
Marc Minkowski (Naïve)

George Butterworth:
“On Banks
of Green Willow”
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Grant Llewellyn (Argo)
2 months ago | |
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J. Reilly Lewis, the longtime Washington choral director and organist, has died at 71.

A onetime boy chorister at Washington National Cathedral, Lewis had been director of the Cathedral Choral Society for more than 30 years. He had served as organist and choirmaster of Clarendon United Methodist Church in Arlington since 1971.

Beyond the Washington area, Lewis was best-known as director of the Washington Bach Consort, which he founded in 1977 and developed into one of the most highly regarded early music ensembles in the US.

A remembrance by The Washington Post’s Anne Midgette:

2 months ago | |
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After their July 7 concert opening the Richmond Symphony Summer Series sold out, cellist Ronald Crutcher and pianist Joanne Kong have added a second performance, 6:30 p.m. July 6 in the Gottwald Playhouse of Dominion Arts Center, Sixth and Grace streets.

Crutcher, who is president of the University of Richmond and cellist of the Klemperer Trio, will join Kong in Glazunov’s Elegie, Op. 17, and Rachmaninoff’s Sonata in G minor, Op. 19. Kong will play Scriabin’s Prelude in B major, Op. 16, No. 1, and Etude in C sharp minor, Op. 42, No. 5.

Tickets are $20 and may be ordered by calling the Richmond Symphony box office at (804) 788-1212.
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Another tweak in the WDCE summer schedule: The show moves to 3-5 p.m. Thursdays through Aug. 18.

June 9
3-5 p.m. EDT
1900-2100 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

Wagner: “Rienzi” Overture
MET Orchestra/
James Levine
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Martinu: Symphony No. 3
Czech Philharmonic/
Václav Neumann

Chopin: Ballade in F minor, Op. 52
Lucas Debargue, piano (Sony Classical)

Mozart: Symphony No. 23 in D major, K. 181
Geneva Chamber Orchestra/David Greilsammer
(Sony Classical)

Josef Suk: Serenade
in E flat major
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/
Mariss Jansons
(BR Klassik)

Boccherini: Quintet
in D major (“Fandango”)
Rolf Lislevand, guitar; José de Udaeta, castanets
Le Concert des Nations/Jordi Savall (AliaVox)
2 months ago | |
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Phyllis Curtin, the West Virginia-born soprano for whom Carlisle Floyd wrote his opera “Susannah” and who essayed roles ranging from Salome in the Richard Strauss opera to Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata,” has died at 94.

Curtin made her debut at the New York City Opera in 1953, sang regularly at the Metropolitan Opera in the 1960s and early ’70s, and performed internationally until her retirement from the stage in 1984.

She sang in the US premieres of Benjamin Britten’s “Peter Grimes,” with the young Leonard Bernstein conducting, in Boris Goldovsky’s 1946 production at the Tanglewood Music Center; Francis Poulenc’s “Les mamelles de Tirésias” at Brandeis University in 1953; and Britten’s “War Requiem,” with Erich Leinsdorf conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra, at Tanglewood in 1963.

Curtin also was active as a concert singer in recitals and with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony and Philadelphia Orchestra.

She conducted master classes at Tanglewood for 51 years, retiring in 2015. She taught at Yale University, serving as dean of its School of Music (1974-81), and Boston University, where she was dean of its School of The Arts (1981-91).

An obituary by Andrew L. Pincus in the The Berkshire (MA) Eagle:

2 months ago | |
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Peter Shaffer, the British playwright whose “Amadeus” was one of the most popular dramatic treatments of a musical figure ever produced, has died at 90.

“Amadeus,” which dramatized the rivalry of the composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri in 18th-century Vienna and exploited the myth that Salieri was responsible for Mozart’s death, was a long-running hit on British and American stages, and in 1984 was made into a film by Milos Foreman, starring F. Murray Abraham as Salieri and Tom Hulce as Mozart.

The final encounter of the two composers “breaks all the rules that I’d ever been taught about cinema,” Shaffer said in an interview with the William Inge Center for the Arts, cited by The New York Times. The dying Mozart dictates the score of his Requiem to Salieri in “a scene about sound. The characters don’t move. . . . If you read the script, its nothing but eight pages of musical direction: ‘Bar this.’ ‘Oboe in E-flat’ and so forth. Very boring. It would give the average Hollywood producer a heart attack to read those eight pages. But they do work and they work wonderfully.”

By the time “Amadeus” was introduced onstage in 1979, Shaffer already was an established playwright. His “Equus” (1973) enjoyed long runs in London and New York theaters, and in 1977 was made into an acclaimed film, starring Richard Burton and Peter Firth.

Among Shaffer’s other plays were “Five Finger Exercise” (1959), “The Royal Hunt of the Sun” (1964), the paired one-acts “Black Comedy” (1965) and “White Lies” (1967) and “Lettice and Lovage” (1987) . His brother, Anthony Shaffer, was the author of the popular comedy “Sleuth” (1970).

The Times’ obituary of Peter Shaffer by Bruce Weber and Robert Berkvist:

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Yannick Nézet-Séguin, who has been music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012, has been named the successor to James Levine as music director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

The 41-year-old Canadian, who made his Met debut conducting Bizet’s “Carmen” in 2009, will not assume the new post immediately. He becomes the Met’s music director-designate in the 2017-18 season, leading
two operas per season;
and music director in 2020-21, conducting five productions each season. His initial contract runs through 2025.

His current contract with the Philadelphia Orchestra runs through the 2025-26 season.

Nézet-Séguin tells The New York Times that his gradual entry into Met leadership “doesn’t mean that I will be out of touch. . . . I hope it won’t feel like there’s a wait, or there’s a void.”


“In many ways, the charismatic Mr. Nézet-Séguin is an exciting choice for the Met. But challenging issues and big questions will face him when he arrives,” The Times’ chief opera critic, Anthony Tommasini, writes:


Reassuring Philadelphians of his commitment to their orchestra, Nézet-Séguin tells The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Peter Dobrin: “The conductors I have admired all my life divided their time between [symphonic and operatic] repertoires, and for me it’s a question of keeping those two poles but actually making them geographically closer. . . . So I made the choice to be a very much Northeast American.”

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