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Deceptive Cadence
Deceptive Cadence un-stuffs the world of classical music, which is both fusty and ferociously alive.
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The Kronos Quartet: Still Daring After All These Years

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7 min 20 sec   The Kronos Quartet (from left): David Harrington, John Sherba, Sunny Yang and Hank Dutt. i i

The Kronos Quartet (from left): David Harrington, John Sherba, Sunny Yang and Hank Dutt.

Jay Blakesberg/Courtesy of the artists

Kronos Quartet is celebrating 40 years of playing music together — and to mark the occasion, they're playing a celebration concert at Carnegie Hall in New York tomorrow night. Since their founding, the San Francisco-based string quartet has become one of the most visible ensembles in classical music. The players have done it by championing new and underheard music, and by coming up with a business model that was unheard of for a chamber group four decades ago.

Violinist David Harrington dreamed up the idea of a string quartet devoted primarily to contemporary music in 1973. Since then, he and his fellow musicians have commissioned and premiered new works by some of the most important composers of our time, including John Adams, Steve Reich and Phillip Glass. Violinist John Sherba, who came onboard in 1978, says the pace has been breathtaking: more than 800 brand-new works or arrangements from composers from all over the world. That's meant learning an often complex new piece every two weeks for some 40 years.

Kronos

Tiny Desk Concerts

Kronos Quartet: Tiny Desk Concert

"Every time we bring a new work, a new composition, into our rehearsal and then ultimately into a performance," Sherba says, "it's so fresh, it's a little bit like climbing a new mountain, you know. The challenges are there: Can we play it in tune? Can we play it together? Can we kind of get music out of the piece?"

They've developed very deep ties with composers they've known for almost half a century. Violist Hank Dutt has been with Kronos since 1977. "We've played many composers' works, and so there's a relationship going on," Dutt says. "And a lot of times, those composers recognize the strengths of each of us individually, and can write for that, which is terrific. But there's also the great thing about our work is that we always work with a composer."

Speaking from his home in the foothills of California's Sierra Nevada, 78-year-old composer Terry Riley, one of the fathers of minimalism, says each member of the group brings a specific personality to whatever they play: "I definitely was aware of the differences in playing between different members of Kronos. You know, if I want something really warm, I'll usually go to Hank's viola, which is I think the warmest viola sound. If I have a highly technical passage, I might give it to John, the violinist. And if I have something that is like a screaming rock-type passage, I'll give it to David."

Riley also says that their bonds proved a ripe ground for experimentation and finding new paths to communicating his ideas. "Especially early on, I was trying to create a kind of improvisational form for Kronos," Riley recalls, "and the first pieces I showed to them would have involved a lot of improvisational skills. And David told me from the beginning, 'You know, we do best when we have everything written out, details written out, and then polish those details.' And so what I realized is that the improvisational feeling in the music would kind of have to be written into it, the kind of interaction that might happen between like, say, north Indian classical musicians onstage when they tossing ideas back and forth in kind of a playful manner." His Serquent Risadome will have its world premiere at the Carnegie Hall concert tomorrow night.

Over four decades, the Kronos quartet (from left, John Sherba, Sunny Yang, Hank Dutt and David Harrington) has premiered more than 800 pieces.

Deceptive Cadence

Kronos Quartet At 40: Songs We Love

Kronos has also launched the careers of younger composers, and often nudged their work in new directions. Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, 43, began corresponding with the group when she was in her 20s. Even though she was just an undergrad at San Francisco Conservatory when she first contacted them, they were very encouraging.

"We really love the first quartet that you wrote," she says the quartet told her, "and we are very curious to see what are the next pieces you are going to write. So whatever you write, just send it to us."

"And that was the beginning," Vrebalov says, "because I did send scores that were not even for string quartet, just whatever I would write. And then three years later, they commissioned the first piece."

Vrebalov says Harrington and the other members of Kronos encouraged her to tackle themes that she wouldn't have touched on her own, especially using instruments and ideas from her native country.

"Those were the '90s, and the '90s were extremely difficult for that part of the world," she says. "So a big element in that war, an extremely negative element, was nationalism, and how it was used in those years in the '90s, in Serbia and Croatia, to promote values that were just so narrow and not good at all for that time when it was happening."

Kronos encouraged her to subvert that approach. In her piece ...hold me, neighbor, in this storm... she used Serbian folk instruments, church bells and even the sound of her own grandmother's voice singing a traditional song.

Vrebalov has had many works premiered by Kronos, including her piece Bubbles, which the quartet will perform with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus at the Carnegie Hall concert, as well as a collaboration with video artist Bill Morrison and Kronos about World War I that will premiere at Cal Performances in Berkeley, Calif., next month.

The quartet's influence even extends to its own members. Cellist Sunny Yang, 28, joined Kronos last June. She says long before she ever imagined being a member, she heard them play.

"I first saw them live I think my last year of high school," Yang says. "I was studying at Interlochen Arts Academy. And I remember I sat in one of the first rows, and I couldn't close my mouth! They really made a big impression on me!"

Kronos Quartet has made an impression on musicians and composers for more than its musical sensibilities. Its business structure created a new paradigm for younger groups to follow. Janet Cowperthwaite was a senior in college when she was hired to help out with their office work. She is now their managing director, and oversees a staff of eleven that serves the quartet as well as a nonprofit organization called the Kronos Performing Arts Association.

"All of us are employed by the organization, including the members of Kronos," Cowperthwaite says. "The nonprofit part is about raising money for commissions, mainly, and for other programs. I mean, we've commissioned I think it's up to 831 new works and arrangements for quartet since the quartet was founded. So that kind of output requires a lot of fundraising. There wasn't really a model for that, or if there was a model, we weren't aware of it!"

"A lot of younger groups now have seen the model that Kronos has built and have emulated it, which is something that is very gratifying for us," she continues. "Along the way, I've talked to colleagues at eighth blackbird, Alarm Will Sound, Bang on a Can, the So Percussion group. It really makes us feel good to see other groups learning from what we've done."

But what makes them feel great, according to Harrington, is looking to the future — new music in hand. "It feels like a launching point into the future," he says. "It's taken 40 years to be able to get to where we're at right now, and I want to use every day to propel our music forward and further and wider and louder and softer, and every way it can possibly go."

And at this rate, Kronos will click by 1000 commissions by their 50th anniversary.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
22 days ago | |
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Kronos Quartet At 40: Songs We Love

Partner content from:Q2

Over four decades, the Kronos quartet (from left, John Sherba, Sunny Yang, Hank Dutt and David Harrington) has premiered more than 800 pieces. i i

Over four decades, the Kronos quartet (from left, John Sherba, Sunny Yang, Hank Dutt and David Harrington) has premiered more than 800 pieces.

Jay Blakesberg

Most every Kronos Quartet fan who has followed the group through its four-decade career has a favorite Kronos moment. Mine is from around 1990 in El Paso, Texas, when a performance of Istvan Marta's powerfully evocative Doom. A Sigh caused me to hyperventilate right there in the theater. The immense power the group unleashed that night is indicative of the astoundingly wide-ranging trove of music it has engendered — more than 800 new works and arrangements by composers from all over the world.

To mark the quartet's 40th anniversary, Alex Ambrose of Q2 Music spoke to some of the group's myriad composers and collaborators, from veteran Steve Reich to newcomer Dan Visconti of the Kronos Under 30 Project. And our own Anastasia Tsioulcas talked with Terry Riley.

The celebrations don't stop here. This past Monday night, Q2 hosted a performance by the group, recorded live at The Greene Space, that you can watch online; they will also be providing an encore presentation of a 24-hour Kronos Quartet marathon online this coming Sunday, March 30.

Have your own Kronos moment? Tell us about it in the comments section and on Twitter and Facebook. — Tom Huizenga

Copyright 2014 Q2. To see more, visit http://www.wqxr.org/q2.
24 days ago | |
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John Adams' Psychedelic Oratorio Gives Voice To 'The Other Mary'

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9 min 13 sec   A moment from The Gospel According to the Other Mary, as performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2013 at London's Barbican Centre. i i

A moment from The Gospel According to the Other Mary, as performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2013 at London's Barbican Centre.

Mark Allan/Barbican Centre

For the millennium, in 2000 American composer John Adams completed a compelling, large-scale oratorio based on the nativity story called El Niño. Now he's composed a companion piece, The Gospel According to the Other Mary, a Passion oratorio mounted with his usual collaborator, the stage director and librettist Peter Sellars. A recording of the two-hour work with Gustavo Dudamel leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic was released this month.

Hear The Music

The Gospel According to the Other Mary

Mary: 'I am surprised that I am beginning to pray daily'

  • Artist: Gustavo Dudamel
  • Album: John Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary
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  • "The Gospel According to the Other Mary, opera [Act 1. Scene 2. I am surprised that I am beginning to pray daily]"
  • Album: John Adams: The Gospel According to the Other Mary
  • Artist: Gustavo Dudamel
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • Released: 2014
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Describing the work to NPR's Arun Rath, Adams says, "There is no person who plays the role of Jesus. There is no Mel Gibson. There is no Victor Mature or Burt Lancaster. Actually, everyone in the cast quotes Jesus at one time or another. He's just there as a luminous presence. To me Jesus is more an embodiment, a spirit rather than an actual living flesh-and-blood person." Hear more of their conversation at the audio link.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
25 days ago | |
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Wig Out With The Big Bach Puzzler

Match your wits against the granddaddy of composers in this big Bach puzzler. i i

Match your wits against the granddaddy of composers in this big Bach puzzler.

Wikimedia Commons

Johann Sebastian Bach, with his big white wig, might stand as the "supreme arbiter and lawgiver of music," as musicologist Nicolas Slonimsky says. But the composer, organist, choirmaster and teacher could also be surprisingly witty and irreverent. His music, as compelling today as it was centuries ago, continues to inspire artists of all stripes. So if you thought you knew a few things about the granddaddy of classical music, try this puzzler to see just how brainy you are when it comes to Bach.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
27 days ago | |
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In The First Violins — At Least For One Night

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4 min 59 sec   Conductor Jeffrey Grogan led a motley — but very happy — assembly of professional, student and amateur musicians at the New Jersey Symphony's #OrchestraYou project in Newark, N.J. Saturday. i i

Conductor Jeffrey Grogan led a motley — but very happy — assembly of professional, student and amateur musicians at the New Jersey Symphony's #OrchestraYou project in Newark, N.J. Saturday.

Fred Stucker/Courtesy of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Orchestras and classical musicians all around the country are trying to figure out new ways of reaching audiences, from playing at IKEA (the Detroit Symphony Orchestra) to hosting fantasy camps (violin legend Itzhak Perlman). The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra pioneered its own experiment Saturday night, when they invited the public to play with them, if only for a few minutes, in an initiative dubbed #OrchestraYou.

After a concert at Newark's New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) that featured Hilary Hahn as soloist in the Brahms Violin Concerto, a recent Esa-Pekka Salonen piece called Giro and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite, a group of about 75 players — ranging from professional musicians in the NJSO and the Los Angeles Philharmonic to students and amateurs of all ages, from white-haired enthusiasts to kids whose feet couldn't quite touch the floor — crowded into the lobby, along with a surprising number of spectators, to make our way through the "Toreadors" section from Bizet's Carmen Suite.

The only pre-performance requirements were BYOI — bring your own instrument — and a polite plea to please, please practice your part. And while the NJSO isn't the first to try out an experiment like this — the Baltimore Symphony did something similar (if more technically demanding) with Marin Alsop back in 2010, and the Pittsburgh and Virginia symphonies before that — this was both pretty local and low-stakes. So, summoning a little courage, I took up a violin I had at home and starting practicing positions on the fingerboard I hadn't seriously attempted in a good, ahem, twenty years.

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra/YouTube

Jeffrey Grogan is the ebullient education and community engagement conductor at the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra as well as artistic director of El Sistema-inspired programs in Newark and Paterson, N.J. He said this initiative was the brainchild of the development and education staffs: "In many respects, this is just another offshoot of the NJSO's mission." Along with its "home" performances at NJPAC, Grogan said, the orchestra performs regularly in five different major venues across the state and, over the course of a multi-year cycle, its musicians visit and perform in all of New Jersey's 21 counties.

That sentiment was reflected and amplified by James Roe, the orchestra's new president and CEO — and also its former acting principal oboist. He received his promotion after the NJSO took a bad bet on disgraced former Brooklyn Philharmonic administrator Richard Dare, who resigned after nine days on the job. Roe took his new position in July.

NJSO president and CEO James Roe addresses the musicians and audience. i i

NJSO president and CEO James Roe addresses the musicians and audience.

Fred Stucker/Courtesy of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

"Our aim," Roe told me, "is not to have a 'broadcast' mentality, but to find ways to enjoy music together, really side by side. And this seemed like a perfect way to help accomplish that."

Before Grogan began conducting us — with a brief, three or four-minute "rehearsal" preceding the performance — Hilary Hahn was invited to speak to the assembled musicians and audience members. She noted that among her own most cherished teachers is the composer Jennifer Higdon, who taught a class on modern music while Hahn was a student at Philadelphia's Curtis Institute of Music. "She opened my ears to 20th-century music," said Hahn, who has gone on to collaborate closely with Higdon. The undercurrent? You never know where a shared love of music might lead.

"Les Toreadors" is a piece that offers obvious benefits: one page long, not too hard, very well-known and a surefire crowd pleaser. (While I was making my way through the crowded lobby toward my seat with violin and bow in hand, a couple of concertgoers stopped me to ask what we would be playing. When I told them, they replied, without irony and in absolute unison: "Ooooooooh!") And it was amazing to see how much of the audience stayed after the concert to cheer on the assembled forces.

To the relief of all present and for the historical record, you can't see or hear me at the back of the first violin section, at least in the video that's up on YouTube. Note to the nice young woman who was my stand partner: You're a talented musician with wonderful tone and excellent articulation — and you covered up my faking very gracefully and graciously. Thank you. And to the lady who won the benefit auction at intermission to play the triangle part: Your $550 was well spent.

After the last notes sounded, I wandered through a sea of stands to chat with a trio of beaming bassoonists: 19-year-old Jessica Hughes, who also studies clarinet with NJSO clarinetist Andy Lamy; 15-year-old Natangel Robinson, who has been playing bassoon for all of seven months; and Cecilia Sweeney, an older amateur. ("Let's just say that unlike Natangel, I'm not in high school.")

Robinson told me that playing with this group, even for literally just a few minutes, was simply amazing. "I got such a feeling of ... euphoria," he told me, searching for just the right word. "There's nothing like this. There's so much energy here, so much of a sense that you're part of something much bigger than yourself."

If this kind of effort catches fire either in New Jersey or nationally, all the better. Not only was it incredibly fun, but it served as a good reminder that music-making shouldn't be divided into producers and consumers, with most people locked into a passive experience. After the performance, I was talking with Lamy when Charlene Green, the assistant head usher at NJPAC, came over to us, smiling. She turned to the clarinetist and said, "This makes me want to dust off my clarinet."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
28 days ago | |
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For Opera Powerhouse Dolora Zajick, 'Singing Is Connected To The Body'

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39 min 5 sec   When hitting a high note, mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick says, i i

When hitting a high note, mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick says, "You have to have support. You have to have resonance. People have to understand what you're saying."

David Sauer/Courtesy of the artist

Dolora Zajick discovered opera as a 22-year-old pre-med student. "That's when I discovered I had a voice," she tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross, "and I actually had a crack at a singing career. And I decided to take the chance."

That leap landed the mezzo-soprano at the Metropolitan Opera, where she's been for 25 years. Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Met, says she has "one of the greatest voices in the history of opera."

Zajick is best known for singing in Verdi's operas, including Il Trovatore, Un Ballo in Maschera and her signature role of Amneris in Aida. Offstage, she's the founder and director of the Institute for Young Dramatic Voices, a program designed to encourage young singers with big or unusual voices to develop healthy, expressive instruments for the stage.


Interview Highlights

On how operatic singing feels

"Singing is connected to the body. So there's a depth in the body that's necessary to perform this kind of music and a lot of the expression comes from a kinesthetic awareness and that's one thing that I think people identify with — you don't have time to think, you don't have time to dwell on anything because you're in the moment. You have to be concentrating on what's happening right then and there."

On 'kinesthetic awareness' and connecting to the audience

"The audience hears something entirely different than what you feel. Well, the singer is listening for focus. You're being expressive. There are sensations that you're feeling physically that the audience isn't feeling. There is a kinesthetic, sympathetic awareness that audience has if you are really using your body when you sing that they are feeling at the same time. A lot of the times the audience doesn't realize that's what's happening. Some of them do. It's a very visceral thing."

On teaching 'kinesthetic empathy'

"One of the tests we use for younger singers when we're testing their ability to absorb a vocal technique — it involves putting a blindfold on them and you sing a vowel and see if they can duplicate it. Perhaps you sing an E and then you do something different. You tighten the upper lip or you jut your jaw out and you go 'E.' Somebody with kinesthetic empathy is going to tell that there was a difference. You'll see an almost imperceptible flicker on their upper lip and then it's almost subconscious, and then they'll make the new sound. The more you have of that, either as an audience member or as a singer, the more you're going to connect in that way. There's always some amount of it that we do that we don't even realize that we do, but it's all done through sound."

YouTube

On how to hit high notes

"You have to have support. You have to have resonance. People have to understand what you're saying. You have to be expressing the music. And you have to find a way to technically achieve that. There are some basics. The jaw has to be relaxed. The tongue has to be relaxed. Your mouth has to be in the right position. That just comes from doing it with the right person, the right teacher at the beginning, and then it becomes a habit and then you don't have to think about it anymore."

On singing in different languages

"The biggest chunk of operatic training is in linguistics and musicianship. It's not in vocal training. [I have to understand] not only what I'm singing, but what everyone else is singing. I sing Italian, Czech, Russian, French, German, English."

On why the Institute of Young Dramatic Voices focuses on 'unusual' voices

"I think they're often the most misunderstood during their development and we've got more people on the planet than we've ever had, why do we have fewer dramatic voices? Something is happening that's cutting them off at the pass somewhere and I've discovered where some of those places are. One of them — I think we lose the largest amount at the high school level and I think the reason for that is because they don't sing classical music as much as they used to, and the other reason is that when they do, the voice that matures and has a big sound usually does not fit into a high school chorus, a cappella choir ... Some a cappella choirs make room for [big voices], but most don't. If they're going for a choral sound, that voice is just going to be shut down to try and fit in."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
29 days ago | |
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Bless You!

We've all been there: You try (and try, and try) to hold back a sneeze, and nature prevails.

When this happened recently to a trombonist in the Salvation Army's amateur London Central Band, the results were sheer slapstick — the unnamed musician wound up letting loose through his horn during a particularly quiet moment in a performance at a church in Tiptree, Essex. The epic, elephantine sound was as the ensemble's conductor, Julian Bright, told the BBC, "lethal."

LC Fellowship Band/YouTube Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
30 days ago | |
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Pitch Perfect: 3 Must-Hear Vocal Albums

A late 15th-century icon of St. Sergius of Radonezh with the Saints of Rostov adorns the cover of a new album of Russian Orthodox Church music by the vocal ensemble Conspirare. i i

A late 15th-century icon of St. Sergius of Radonezh with the Saints of Rostov adorns the cover of a new album of Russian Orthodox Church music by the vocal ensemble Conspirare.

Harmonia Mundi

The human voice, the true original instrument, is still the most expressive and personal of all. It's one reason more than 42.5 million Americans sing in choirs, and why we seem to be hardwired to tell our stories through song. It also probably explains why I'm a vocal music junkie, eagerly pawing over the operas, recitals and choir albums that land on my desk and in my download folder. Below are three recent releases well worth repeated listening — an evocative glimpse of traditional Russian Orthodox choral music, a blistering account of Beethoven's Solemn Mass and a perfectly ripened example of the kind of post-Romantic opera that blossomed in early 20th-century Vienna.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
31 days ago | |
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How Irish Are You? A St. Paddy's Day Puzzler

Hoist a pint for this St. Patrick's day. But first take this quiz! i i

Hoist a pint for this St. Patrick's day. But first take this quiz!

iStock.com

With St. Patrick's Day upon us, it's hard to escape the allure of the Emerald Isle, with its rolling heaths, swirling jigs, frothy beer and curious legends. While we can't afford to fly you to Dublin we can offer this humble St. Paddy's Day puzzler. Score high and be rewarded with the pot 'o gold at the end of the rainbow. Mess up and yours is a sad bowl of soggy Lucky Charms.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
1 month ago | |
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Gerard Mortier, A Polarizing Impresario Who Transformed Opera

Belgian opera impresario Gerard Mortier in Germany in 2003. He died Saturday at age 70. i i

Belgian opera impresario Gerard Mortier in Germany in 2003. He died Saturday at age 70.

Volker Hartmann/AFP/Getty Images

One of the most active and influential figures in the opera world, Belgian impresario Gerard Mortier, died Saturday at age 70 at his home in Brussels. His death was announced by Madrid's Teatro Real, which he had served as artistic director. The cause was pancreatic cancer.

Whether or not opera fans could identify this behind-the-scenes figure by name, Mortier was a tremendously important and influential administrator. In posts across Europe, he disrupted audience expectations in favor of productions that often took operas out of their historical settings and placed them squarely in the present. Mortier also championed the work of not just a host of vanguard composers, but talents like director Peter Sellars and choreographer Mark Morris as well.

Born Nov. 25, 1943 in Ghent to a family of bakers, Mortier fell in love with opera as a child. After earning graduate degrees in law and communications, he took a job at the Festival of Flanders as an assistant. There he met conductor Christoph von Dohnanyi, tho took him on as his own assistant in Germany. Mortier went on to the Paris Opera, where he first served as the assistant to the house's director, Rolf Liebermann — just as the tides rose in favor of Regietheater (director's theater), in which a director freely updates a work's geographical setting, time period or additional elements to reflect current concerns, in stagings popularly derided as "Eurotrash."

Mortier injected that kind of energy into all of his work from then on, starting with his own first major position as the director of Brussels' then-sleepy Théâtre de la Monnaie in 1981. There he premiered John Adams' Death of Klinghoffer and mounted operas by Janácek. In 1987 Mortier hired as the theater's dance director American choreographer Mark Morris, who staged Purcell's Dido and Aeneas and Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato:

Mark Morris Dance Group/YouTube

Three years later, Mortier left Brussels for the equally — if not more — conservative stronghold of Austria's Salzburg Festival, where he succeeded the revered conductor Herbert von Karajan. There Mortier managed to overturn the proverbial apple cart not just by commissioning works like Kaija Saariaho's L'Amour de Loin and Sellars-directed productions of Messiaen's St. François d'Assise and Ligeti's Grand Macabre, but also with updated stagings of operas by the city's most beloved native son, Mozart.

In 2004, Mortier brought his ideas to the Paris Opera, where he remounted the Messiaen St. François and introduced several other now iconic projects to Europe, including Wagner's Tristan und Isolde as produced by Peter Sellars, conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and video artist Bill Viola:

Philharmonia Orchestra/YouTube

In 2007, Mortier was hired as general manager and artistic director of the New York City Opera. Instead of continuing his run as a polarizing figure based on his aesthetic ideas, he became a lightning rod for another kind of controversy altogether. The already financially faltering company approved Mortier's plan to close its former Lincoln Center home, the State Theater, for renovations during the 2008-09 season, with the expectation that the company's endowment would largely cover the resulting gap in income.

But when Mortier was presented with a $30 million budget for his first season in New York — about half of what he had previously agreed to — in the shadow of the country's financial crisis, he quit before coming to New York for the 2009-10 season. Whether or not the Mortier chapter foretold or contributed to City Opera's eventual demise, the company shut its doors in October.

Yet as the City Opera crisis was building to a boil, Madrid's Teatro Real signaled that they would be interested in bringing Mortier aboard. Three weeks after he officially stepped down from the City Opera post, he agreed to become artistic director in Madrid. In short order, the Spanish audience benefited from a number of provocative commissions and productions that Mortier had originally planned for New York. These included the world premieres of Philip Glass' rumination on the inner life of Walt Disney, The Perfect American, and Charles Wuorinen's Brokeback Mountain (which is still available for free streaming on Medici.tv). In typical fashion, Mortier got into a very public fight with the Spanish house this past fall, when he criticized management's search for his successor; they downgraded Mortier's title to "artistic adviser."

Euro Arts/YouTube Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
1 month ago | |
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