James Galway: practice is the only way / ejinsight


Renowned flautist Sir James Galway, studied at, but never graduated from, two of the most prestigious music schools in England – the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has played with the most distinguished orchestras in the world, from the Royal Philharmonic to the Berlin Philharmonic where he was principal flutist. Mr. Galway has established an online flute education center which strives to change the lives of the next generation of primary and second level students in fields of Engineering, Science, Math, and in the Arts. The flutist advises pupils learning to play the instrument to practice and listen more, saying - "There's no way other than practice. I practice every day and composers always bring me inspiration through their music."   READ THE FULL ejinsight PIECE
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Helene Grimaud - Water / Deutsche Welle video


Hélène Grimaud's latest album for Deutsche Grammophon, produced by Nitin Sawhney, was inspired by her abiding fascination with Nature's most precious gift. Water is set for worldwide release on February 5, 2016 and conveys imaginative responses to everything from mighty oceans and great lakes to raindrops and snowflakes as well as inviting listeners to contemplate the mounting threats to the safety, security and supply of this essential resource.  "What inspired the idea to record this album is really the fascination that so many composers of the 19th and 20th centuries seem to have had with the element of water," Grimaud states. Not only did this sow the seed for a recording, it also grew into a collaboration between the pianist and Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon. Their site-specific installation tears become… streams become… was created for the Wade Thompson Drill Hall at New York's Park Avenue Armory in December 2014. Described by the New York Times as a "compelling, boldly original work", the project blended elements of art, music and architecture, with Grimaud's water-themed programme located at its core. Gordon transformed the cavernous Drill Hall by slowly flooding its vast floor to create the impression of what he described as an endless "field of water," entirely surrounding the grand piano at which Grimaud performed.  WATCH THE Deutsche Welle VIDEO
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Ron Davis - Pocket Symphronica / fyi Music News


"D'Hora" (Really Records): This is the opening track on the just-released Pocket Symphronica, the 10th recording from acclaimed Toronto jazz pianist/composer/bandleader Ron Davis. His fluent playing meshes perfectly with the string section on a tune that mashes up jazz and world music with both exuberance and elegance. Davis describes Pocket Symphronica as "the pocket sized recording of my 2013 album Symphronica with The Windsor Symphony Orchestra." Ace accompanists here include Mike Downes, Roger Travassos, Kevin Barrett and Andrew Downing.  SEE THE fyi Music News PAGE
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Grigory Sokolov: Schubert | Beethoven / theguardian review


One year ago, Deutsche Grammophon inaugurated its exclusive contract with Grigory Sokolov by releasing a recital of Mozart and Chopin he gave at the Salzburg festival in 2008. This follow-up includes part of another Salzburg recital: Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata, and the Rameau and Brahms encores following it come from the 2013 festival, while the Schubert was recorded in Warsaw three months earlier. It's a less consistent collection than the earlier one, but still with enough moments of pianistic magic to make it thoroughly memorable. The Hammerklavier is certainly different from the norm – the outer movements are classically restrained, almost relaxed, with miraculously transparent textures, and the emotional centre of gravity is rooted in a radiant account of the slow movement, though the sense of wholeness and scale of the sonata are unmistakably retained. Some of the Schubert is more problematic, though. Sokolov emphasises the emotional and dynamic extremes of the D899 Impromptus with a sometimes exaggerated rubato that can be uncomfortable, and he turns the three posthumous pieces of D946 into major statements too, so that the first of them in E flat minor lasts longer than his opening movement of the Hammerklavier. Perhaps best of all is the final encore, the second intermezzo from Brahms' Op 117, in which every tiny nuance, every fleck of colour, seems perfectly placed.   SEE theguardian PAGE
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Lang Lang and Hans Zimmer come together to score 'Ku Fu Panda 3' / Los Angeles Times


When Lang Lang was planning to visit L.A. about 12 years ago, he asked his label to arrange a meeting with composer Hans Zimmer, who at the time was scoring "The Last Samurai." Zimmer asked Lang whether the score sounded "Asian enough." "I'm like, 'I don't know where you got it, but you have an Asian heart,' " Lang recalled, laughing. Lang had been a "superfan" of Zimmer's from the moment he saw "Gladiator." The pianist was 18 when Ridley Scott's epic came out featuring Zimmer's popular, Oscar-nominated score. They've remained friends since that first meeting. So it shouldn't be too surprising that Lang, now 33, would lend his fingers to Zimmer's latest soundtrack - even if it is for the kid flick "Kung Fu Panda 3." READ THE FULL Los Angeles Times ARTICLE
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Yanni - a solution to global stress? / PRI - The World


Call his music what you will: New Age, jazz, classical, soft rock, global. Since the 1980s, this has been Yanni's stock in trade. He was born in Greece, raised in the US and has managed to grace historic stages around the globe. And in the process, he has planted himself right next to some politically dicey situations. Need an example? Take July 2014. Tunisia. He performed at the International Festival of Carthage just a week after an attack led by terrorists that killed 14 Tunisian soldiers. Yanni's concert appearance was like a Band-Aid. Thousands received with him open arms. "I have never been more loved or more touched," he says, almost in tears when he relayed the story to us. "The country was in mourning and they stopped that, so that I could be there."  After this and many other concert appearances in places in the midst of turmoil, you would think Yanni has placed himself as sort of a political figure. But he wants to make it very clear that he is NOT! "I am not political. I am a humanist. I cannot stand to watch people suffer ... I am not a politician and I will never become one."  Music is what Yanni does best. "We all need to do our part and I do believe I am doing mine." He brings people joy to those who are suffering.   LISTEN TO THE PRI - The World FEATURE
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Cecilia String Quartet - Mendelssohn, op. 44 / Gramophone review


The Cecilia Quartet came to international attention when they won the 2010 Banff Quartet Competition. These days they combine an international touring schedule with a position as ensemble-in-residence at the University of Toronto. For their first Mendelssohn recording they refreshingly choose two of the lesser-played middle quartets. Lesser-played but in no way lesser masterpieces, and from the opening upwards-sweeping arpeggio of Op 44 No 1, the Cecilia prove to be compelling advocates. They find a fine balance between the composer's skittish qualities and his tenderer side, resulting in notably open-hearted readings. Their tremolos – such a favourite device of Mendelssohn – seem to come in 57 varieties, while even at fortissimotextures remain open and airy, thanks to their minutely considered voicings, conveyed via a sympathetic recording. READ THE FULL Gramophone REVIEW
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Joshua Bell and Sam Haywood play Spivey Hall / ArtsATL review


Last Sunday afternoon Joshua Bell and pianist Sam Haywood gave a recital of Vitali, Beethoven and Fauré on the Spivey Hall stage, a gilded "frame" with superb acoustics that provided just the ideal circumstance for Bell's artistry and Haywood's crystalline sound. Spivey Hall only accommodates 400 audience members, but on this day all seats were claimed and everyone was paying close attention. Bell and Haywood opened with the Chaconne in G minor, a technical tour de force by Tomaso Antonio Vitali that was later arranged by 19th century German violinist Ferdinand David. Beethoven's Violin Sonata in A major; Op. 47 was the centerpiece of the program. The Spivey Hall audience was able to relish the obvious musical dialogue between Bell and Haywood, particularly within the third movement which boasts brisk tempos and sharp dynamic contrasts. Before dazzling his audience with three well-chosen encores that included Johannes Brahms' "Hungarian Dance No. 1" and an adaptation of Frederic Chopin's "C# Minor Nocturne," Bell offered Gabriel Fauré's Sonata No. 1 in A Major. A composer whom Maurice Ravel believed came closest to genius within his mélodie, Fauré excelled at composing intimate musical forms including over 100 songs that exude elegance and economy of means.   READ THE FULL Arts ATL REVIEW
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Raul Midon feature / Guitar World


This past month, cyber-savvy guitarists rejoiced in yet another exciting guitar video gone viral, this one featuring blind acoustic picker Raul Midón ripping though John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," ( in all 12 keys ) playing chords beneath his trademark "mouth trumpet" one moment, and the next dropping the jaws of jazz connoisseurs with his unaccompanied single-note lines, unleashed on his Traugott Model BK ax. Not your first visit to Raul Midón's world? Perhaps it was this one-man band's mind-blowing network television debut, on The Late Show with David Lettermanin 2005, where his signature song, "State of Mind," an infectious mix of percussive slaps, harmonics and quasi flamenco techniques, supporting unique vocal improvisations, brought the audience to their feet, including members of the Letterman band.  READ THE FULL Guitar World FEATURE       WATCH THE Giant Steps VIDEO
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Brooklyn Rider joins Gabriel Kahane for - The Fiction Issue / New York Times review


Gabriel Kahane poses a timeless rhetorical question in "The Fiction Issue," his finely wrought new album: "What's a day without a doughnut?" He's singing in the guise of someone headed out for coffee, bathed in bright morning light. But the darkening shivers of his arrangement for string quartet, played by Brooklyn Rider, set up an emotional pivot: He's still numb from a wrenching loss, and his daily routine provides only meager distraction. Mr. Kahane is deeply in his element here, sketching vignettes with ruminative grace. He wrote "The Fiction Issue," the six-part song cycle at the heart of his album, as a Carnegie Hall commission for voices and strings. Shara Worden (who records as My Brightest Diamond) is the other vocalist, her chamber operatic soprano offset by Mr. Kahane's conversational baritone, singing a series of art songs that can just as readily evoke Robert Schumann as Paul Simon.   READ THE FULL New York Times REVIEW
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Tift Merritt returns to NPR's Mountain Stage


Tift Merritt returned to NPR's Mountain Stage, recorded live on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Minn. Born in Texas and raised in North Carolina, Merritt rose to the top of the alt-country singer-songwriter scene back in 2002, with the release of Bramble Rose. With an assist from fellow North Carolinian Ryan Adams, Merritt released the Grammy-nominated Tambourine in 2004.The decade since has seen a full and varied career, a recent highlight being Traveling Alone, which includes songs that have remained a staple of her live performances since its release in 2012. And just this year, The Eagles' Don Henley chose her "Bramble Rose" as the leadoff track for his album Cass County. For her special trip to Mountain Stage in northern Minnesota, Merritt performs a few old favorites and previews new songs that won't see studio release until at least sometime later this year. She performs here both solo and backed by the Mountain Stage house band, featuring Michael Lipton on lead guitar.

Her SET LIST included: "Traveling Alone"
"Proclamation Bones"
"Small Talk Relations"
"Bramble Rose"
"My Boat" LISTEN TO THE FEATURE
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Snarky Puppy - Family Dinner Volume Two / theartsdesk review


With everything they touch seemingly transforming into artistic gold, shapeshifting US collective Snarky Puppy are currently on a roll. Following their 2014 Grammy win for Family Dinner Volume One, they've since chalked up ‘Best Jazz Group' in the 2015 Downbeat Readers Poll, plus a Grammy nomination in the ‘Best Contemporary Instrumental Album' category for last year's Sylva. This purple patch looks set to continue with the arrival of Family Dinner Volume Two. Serving up another appetizing smorgasbord of songs that range from the hyperventilated funk of "I Remember" (take a bow, LA duo Knower and reeds player Jeff Coffin) to the glorious sound of Malian icon Salif Keïta revisiting his breakthrough album with "Soro (Afriki)", Volume Two tweaks the format of its predecessor, incorporating not only guest vocalists, but guest instrumentalists as well. Album opener "I Asked" pairs NYC-based singer-songwriter Becca Stevens with Swedish folk pioneers Väsen to create a haunting sound-world in which nycklharpa, muted trumpets, parlor guitar, charango, frame drum and a heavy-duty Moog bass coalesce around the unaffected beauty of Stevens' vocal.  READ THE FULL artsdesk REVIEW
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Top 10 Albums for February

Bill Frisell :

When You Wish Upon A Star

When You Wish Upon A Star, the latest project from legendary guitarist/composer Bill Frisell features music from iconic film and television scores. Conceived not only as an homage, but as a celebration of music-making with longtime collaborators and their collective commitment to refined interpretation of material. Produced by Lee Townsend (Loudon Wainwright III, John Scofield, Carrie Rodriguez), the LP brings together an all-star "dream team" of musicians including; violist Eyvind Kang, drummer Rudy Royston, bass player Thomas Morgan and vocalist Petra Haden.  31 NEW  96 Total SYND: NPR, Westwood One, CBC, Sixty Second CD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Detroit, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Louisville, Wichita, Honolulu, Toronto Online: Taintradio, Jazz From Gallery 41, Dirty Dog, all about jazz, WSJ 26 Jazzweek ADD's
Ibrahim Maalouf :

Kalthoum

KALTHOUM is a celebration of women who overturned the course of history, women whose artistic influence has had an impact that reaches all the way down to our lives today. So I chose an emblematic figure, a genuine monument in the history of Arab people, and incidentally someone whose voice is the one I've listened to the most, ever since I was a child: Oum Kalthoum. 40 Total SYND: CBC Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Baltimore, Albuquerque, Boulder, Knoxville TN, Honolulu, Canada Online: Taintradio, Jazz Weekly, MOJA, GURU
Daniela Mercury :

Virtual Vinyl

Daniela Mercury is a Brazilian singer, songwriter and record producer. Since her breakthrough, Mercury has become one of the best known Brazilian female singers, selling over 20 million albums worldwide.  She is also the Brazilian female performer with most #1 hits in the country, with 14. Mercury's self-titled debut album was released in 1991 through independent record company Eldorado. The lead single of the album, "Swing da Cor", which features Olodum, became a number-one hit in Brazil, and the album was soon known as Swing da Cor. Another song from the album, "Menino do Pelô", which also features Olodum, became Mercury's second top-ten hit in Brazil, charting at number four. Daniela Mercury has had been on an amazing career path spanning 3 decades of Brazilian/World Music creativity, and now with the release of her new album Virtual Vinyl she is once again poised to reach the Top of the Charts. 32 NEW  37 TOTAL Direct: MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland, Houston, Berkeley, Albuquerque Online: Taintradio, BestOfBrazil, GURU
Cast Albums :

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Studio Cast Recording of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the only stage collaboration from two masters of the American musical, Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz, is the first ever studio recording of the acclaimed American stage score based on the Academy Award-nominated film. Featuring a 25 piece orchestra, a choir of 32 and some of Broadway's most formidable talent: Michael Arden (Big River) as Quasimodo, Patrick Page (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) as Dom Claude Frollo, Ciara Renée (Pippin) as Esmeralda, Andrew Samonsky (The Mystery of Edwin Drood) as Captain Phoebus de Martin and Erik Liberman (Lovemusik) as Clopin Trouillefou, The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a dramatic retelling of the famous love story on a grand scale, with a lush, emotionally rich score. The musical features a score by Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast) and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Pippin). 23 Total SYND: The Bill Miller Show, CBC Direct: Music Choice, MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Cleveland, New Orleans, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Seattle, Baltimore, Hartford CT, Madison WI, Canada Online: Humboldt 101, Taintradio
Milos :

Blackbird - The Beatles Album

After delighting audiences with the classical heritage of the guitar on his three previous albums, acclaimed guitarist Miloš Karadaglić returns with a pleasantly surprising departure; Blackbird – The Beatles Album.  Performing delicate new arrangements of iconic songs by The Beatles, the "charismatic, sensitive player" (The New York Times) collaborates with celebrated artists from the varied worlds of pop, jazz and classical, including Tori Amos, Gregory Porter, Anoushka Shankar, Sergio Assad and Steven Isserlis.  The album will be released on January 15, 2016 on Mercury Classics/UMC. 26 Total SYND: CBC Markets include: Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Albuquerque, Raleigh NC, Toronto Online: Taintradio, Jazz From Gallery 41 9 Jazzweek ADD's
Soundtracks :

Downton Abbey: The Ultimate Collection

Coinciding with the U.S. premiere of the final season of the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning series Downton Abbey, Decca Records/Universal Music Classics releases Downton Abbey: The Ultimate Collection. The 2-CD set features musical highlights from all six seasons of the show. BAFTA and Ivor Novello Award nominee and 2-time Emmy award winner John Lunn composed the music that is such an integral part of the show, as well as played piano on soundtrack.The instrumental score is performed by the Chamber Orchestra of London, conducted by Alastair King, and features three vocal tracks. 36 NEW  38 Total SYND: C24, The Score, Sixty Second CD Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, Stingray, MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Detroit, Baltimore, Denver, Portland, St. Louis, Detroit, New Orleans, Canada Online: CinemaScore, Taintradio
Vocalosity :

self-titled

From the creative mind of artistic producer and music director Deke Sharon (Pitch Perfect, NBC's The Sing-Off) comes Vocalosity, an all-new a cappella experience that is both a live concert event and a new album. Releasing their debut record on Universal Music Classics, Vocalosity came together through the passion and vision of Sharon, dubbed the "father of contemporary a cappella."  Having built a career in a cappella as a singer, arranger, director and producer,Vocalosity is the culmination of everything he has accomplished over the past twenty years in this genre. Sharon explains, "Working with these all-star singers in VOCALOSITY and getting them ready to go on the road and connect with audiences through the power of music is the most important thing I can be doing right now."
Laura Karpman :

ASK YOUR MAMA

"Ivesian collage with club-culture remixing"- The New York Times "Carnegie Hall reaches a climax with Laura Karpman's new work"- The New Yorker "Fevered, restrained, super-lush in turns...always impressive."- Vanity Fair "Audacious, mesmerizing… Karpman has the skill to shift musical gears with ease." - Gramophone ASK YOUR MAMA - Setting of  Langston Hughes' 1961 epic poem by Emmy Award-winning composer Laura Karpman A Carnegie Hall commission & RELEASED via AVIE RECORDS. A plural vision of the American dream deferred, ASK YOUR MAMA bursts the boundaries of time, place and expression, tracing the currents and tributaries of cultural diasporas, from African to the Americas, the South to the North, cities to suburbs. The prophetic voice of Langston Hughes echoes throughout, "ONE'S COUNTRY IS YOUR MAMA." Commissioned by Carnegie Hall and released by Avie records. 11 New  106 Total SYND: PBS: NewsHour, Classical 24, TRH Direct: MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, New Orleans, Albuquerque, Orlando, Madison WI, Montreal Online: Variety, Huffington Post, examiner.com, Gramophone, Smithsonian.com, Taintradio, Thought Catalog, KUHS, Rainbow Times, The Music Matters, Radio Phoenix, Jazz From Gallery 41, Fainfaire, AccuRadio, Jazz Weekly
Julia Wolfe :

Anthracite Fields

Haunting, poignant and relentlessly physical, Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields is a lovingly detailed oratorio about turn-of-the-20th-century Pennsylvania coal miners, and a fitting recipient of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music. NPR Music's Tom Huizenga describes the piece as "...almost a public history project and a music project at the same time," which hints at the work's universal appeal. Weaving together personal interviews that she conducted with miners and their families, along with oral histories, speeches, rhymes and local mining lore, Wolfe sought to honor the working lives of Pennsylvania's anthracite region. "It's not necessarily mainstream history," she told NPR shortly after she received word of winning the Pulitzer. "The politics are very fascinating-the issues about safety, and the consideration for the people who are working and what's involved in it.  9 NEW  22 Total Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, New Orleans, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Portland, Austin, Baltimore Online: The New Yorker, Second Inversion, Taintradio, Audiophile Audition
Helene Grimaud :

Water

Hélène Grimaud's latest album for Deutsche Grammophon, produced by Nitin Sawhney, was inspired by her abiding fascination with Nature's most precious gift. Water is set for worldwide release on February 5, 2016 and conveys imaginative responses to everything from mighty oceans and great lakes to raindrops and snowflakes as well as inviting listeners to contemplate the mounting threats to the safety, security and supply of this essential resource.  "What inspired the idea to record this album is really the fascination that so many composers of the 19th and 20th centuries seem to have had with the element of water," Grimaud states. Not only did this sow the seed for a recording, it also grew into a collaboration between the pianist and Turner Prize-winning artist Douglas Gordon. Their site-specific installation tears become… streams become… was created for the Wade Thompson Drill Hall at New York's Park Avenue Armory in December 2014. Described by the New York Times as a "compelling, boldly original work", the project blended elements of art, music and architecture, with Grimaud's water-themed programme located at its core. Gordon transformed the cavernous Drill Hall by slowly flooding its vast floor to create the impression of what he described as an endless "field of water," entirely surrounding the grand piano at which Grimaud performed.
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