Two time Emmy winning composer Michael Whalen sits down for an in depth interview to discuss music production, his new album, and the music biz with Rob Mullins. They covered a lot of ground in 50 minutes. Music. Life. Rhodes pianos. Advice for young composers. Duran Duran. Quincy Jones. David Foster. The "three questions" that every young musician asks me and much, much more. Enjoy the attached wide ranging conversation.
Data Lords is the new double-album by Grammy Award-winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider. Inspired by conflicting relationships between the digital and natural worlds, the recording features Schneider's acclaimed orchestra of 18 world-class musicians.
"No one can deny the great impact that the data-hungry digital world has had on our lives. As big data companies clamor for our attention, I know that I'm not alone in struggling to find space – to keep connected with my inner world, the natural world, and just the simpler things in life," says Schneider. "Just as I feel myself ping ponging between a digital world and the real world, the same dichotomy is showing up in my music. In order to truly represent my creative output from the last few years, it felt natural to make a two- album release reflecting these two polar extremes."
Here and Now host Robin Young speaks with Schneider about "Data Lords." (Photo by Briene Lermitte)
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When the coronavirus forced concert halls and opera houses to close in March, a flood of music came online. The livestreams proved especially gratifying, offering a jolt of you-are-there excitement. Many of these programs were offered for free.
But musicians and institutions have to make money. Will the public pay for music online?
The answer is just beginning to emerge. The artists and organizations who can draw sizable numbers of paying customers may be those who already had globally prominent brands before the pandemic. The Metropolitan Opera, for example, has recently begun a series of livestreamed recitals featuring star singers, sophisticated camerawork and vibrant audio. The tenor Jonas Kaufmann's recital last month, tickets for which cost $20, was viewed by 44,000 people - not a bad gross.
The second program in the series took place on Aug. 1, with the soprano Renée Fleming and the pianist Robert Ainsley performing live from Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. (The film is available through Friday, and Sunday afternoon brings a new livestream featuring Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak.)
Ms. Fleming was in splendid voice, singing with honeyed tone and elegant phrasing. She delivered some favorites, like "O mio babbino caro." But she also included novelties, like a coquettish aria from Leoncavallo's - not Puccini's - "La Bohème" and lesser heard arias from operas and oratorios by Handel and Korngold. And she began with a premiere composed for her: John Corigliano's eloquently understated "And the People Stayed Home," a setting of a poem written by Catherine M. O'Meara that went viral at the start of the pandemic.
Prerecorded offerings might seem less fulfilling to music lovers who are longing for the live concert experience. Yet if the content is substantive and the quality of the video high, these programs can be rewarding. Caramoor, in Katonah, N.Y., is streaming the four musicians of Sandbox Percussion and the pianist Conor Hanick, through Sunday, for $10.
Caramoor, usually a summer favorite just north of New York City, has this year presented a series of livestreams, with tickets for purchase, from its intimate, elegant Music Room. The programs have been adventurous and excellent, including a recent one featuring members of the Knights, a chamber orchestra, playing a premiere by Anna Clyne and a Brahms sextet.
The Sandbox Percussion program had to be filmed in advance, since the works being performed utilized an enormous array of unusual and cumbersome percussion instruments. The concert included inventive pieces by Andy Akiko, Juri Seo, Amy Beth Kirsten and David Crowell, variously complex and demanding contemporary scores.
But the premiere of Christopher Cerrone's "Don't Look Down," an 18-minute concerto for prepared piano and percussion quartet, was the highlight. As he explained in an interview before the performance, Mr. Cerrone began composing the score just as the shutdowns started in March, and finished it only recently. So it's a piece written in lockdown. The piano is prepared similarly to John Cage's innovative techniques, but with fewer screws and pieces of metal inserted between the piano strings, and more materials like putty - which dampens and distorts sounds - and fishing wire, which allows the strings to be bowed to create eerie, whining tones.
The first movement, "Hammerspace," begins with the whooshing of a bike pump and droning gongs. In time, restless riffs played with mallets burst forth. Amid rushes of rhythmic, spiraling figures on the prepared piano, fragments for the percussion instruments coalesced into fleeting almost-melodies.
The second movement, "The Great Empty," is more elemental, with music gurgling and heaving over ominous bass tones in the piano. The final movement, "Caton Flats," is named for the mixed-use development in Brooklyn where Mr. Cerrone lives. As he said in the interview, the music recalls the metallic noise of construction crews at work in his neighborhood this summer.
Tanglewood, perhaps America's most eminent summer music festival, has opted for offering only prerecorded online programs - some from its archives, but many filmed earlier this summer. One, recorded in June, was put online on Saturday evening: the pianist Daniil Trifonov playing Bach's "The Art of the Fugue" in one of the studios of Tanglewood's new Linde Center. (The program is available for $12 through Saturday, when a recital by another pianist, Conrad Tao, goes online.)
Mr. Trifonov played this work, Bach's final piece, at a recital at Alice Tully Hall in early March, one of the final concerts in New York before the lockdown. His performance then was magnificent, combining youthful inventiveness, crisp articulations and, for a performer still in his 20s, profoundly insightful musicianship. The Tanglewood performance was even better, though the chance it offered to see Mr. Trifonov up close - to watch as a finger on his right hand gave extra pressure to a crucial note - may have made it especially absorbing.
Though he was not required to do so, Mr. Trifonov performed wearing a mask, which came across as a gesture of solidarity with those watching from home. Playing these complex and compelling fugues, Mr. Trifonov displayed an unusual kind of virtuosity - not flashy, but precise, nuanced and subtle. Rippling passagework was not like filigree but substantive: Each note mattered.
For Fugue 14, which Bach died before finishing, Mr. Trifonov, who is also a composer, dared to do the job and played his own completion. Good for him that, rather than feeling intimidated, he paid homage to Bach by adding his own personal take. The intricate contrapuntal lines unfolded effectively, the music taking a quasi-mystical turn and becoming harmonically elusive delicate and gentle, with a cushioned landing at the end instead of a full stop.
Worth paying for? Worth waiting for? I'd say yes, on both counts.
Australian violin virtuoso Ray Chen has established himself as one of the most prodigiously talented and captivating instrumentalists to emerge internationally. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Aaron Rosand, Ray is a former 1st prize winner at the Menuhin and Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competitions.
His debuts include solo engagements with major international orchestras – including ongoing collaborations with the San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony and the London Philharmonic. Ray was announced as one of Forbes Magazines' 30 Under 30 recipients, an ambassador for Sony Electronics – and a collaborator and consultant on a number of film score and video game projects.
Last week, he released his new ‘Solace' album on the Decca Classics label – recorded professionally from his home during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Ray currently performs on the 1735 ‘Samazeuilh' Stradivarius violin, on generous loan from the Nippon Music Foundation – and is under world-wide general management with CAMI Music, in New York.
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Intimate original chamber music John Finbury – AMERICAN NOCTURNES/FINAL DAYS OF JULY: In June of 2020, I reviewed producer/arranger John's wonderful "Quatro" album, which got near perfect marks… on this new album, John and his players give you some of the most intimate original chamber music you will ever listen to… here's a video clip for the album…
…since you're there already, I strongly recommend that you SUBSCRIBE to John Finbury's YouTube channel, so you can watch many more exciting performances.
The players on this new excursion are Tim Ray – piano; Eugene Friesen – cello; Roni Eytan – harmonica; and Roberto Cassan – accordion… Produced and arranged by John Finbury and Bob Patton… though the album is partially classified as New Age, John's music is always unique and different… the beautiful "Winter Waltz" even has some strong elements of jazz, and will be a favorite among DJ's, I believe.
The gentle guitar on "Black Tea" melds seamlessly in with the other instruments, giving you the gift of pleasant (yet stirring) memories… the relaxed pacing makes the tune a total winner.
I had no trouble (at all) in making my choice for personal favorite of the eleven enchanting songs offered up… the title track, "Final Days Of July", will touch your heart deeply with its' beautifully crafted tones!
I give John and his musical partners a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) score of 4.98 for this fine album. Get more information on the Green Flash Music page for the release. Rotcod Zzaj
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Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette is set to release; 'Blackbirds,' on August 28 via Verve Records. Blackbirds features songs primarily popularized by some of her peers, other iconic women in music, who she personally respected and admired. The album finds LaVette in top form delivering powerful renditions of songs that touched her personally. It also re-unites her with producer Steve Jordan.
From Dinah Washington's "Drinking Again," Nina Simone's "I Hold No Grudge," Nancy Wilson's "Save Your Love For Me" and more, all delivered in LaVette's rich and raspy tone with a touch of the blues.
Bettye LaVette is a native of Detroit. Her first recording in 1962, at the age of sixteen, was on Atlantic Records. She later charted with such singles as "He Made A Woman Out Of Me" and "Do Your Duty," Since then she has recorded ten albums. Her most recent album Things Have Changed, also produced by Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Keith Richards), was released on Verve in 2018 and received two GRAMMY nominations, which brings her total Grammy nominations to five.
WPFW: Wash DC, Tim Masters spoke with BL about the new recording and her amazing career. Listen to the attached interview.
From Poetry to Song: A Russian Poet's Work Makes a Debut
A new album by classical composer Mark Abel features four musical adaptations of Tsvetaeva's poetry- a first for the English-language genre. Mark Abel
For most in the English-speaking world, the name Marina Tsvetaeva is obscure. While often revered as one of the greatest Russian poets of the early Soviet period, Tsvetaeva's work has by-and-large failed to garner an international audience.
One American artist, however, has recently completed a project putting Tsvetaeva's work to music in English – reportedly the first time her poetry has been adapted to classical music in English.
In his new album, The Cave of Wondrous Voice, California-based journalist-turned-musician Mark Abel focuses his talents on creating a masterful chamber-music sound, including a groundbreaking song cycle of four of Tsvetaeva's poems.
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The first-time teaming of Poland's dynamic Marcin Wasilewski Trio and big-toned US tenorist Joe Lovano brings forth special music of concentrated, deep feeling, in which lyricism and strength seem ideally balanced.
Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.
Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.
Milan Records announces the Friday, August 21 release of I Am Woman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), an album of music from the biographical film surrounding Australian singer Helen Reddy as performed by Chelsea Cullen.
Praised by The Washington Post for playing with "an easy warmth, drawing the orchestra after him like a halo around a candle flame," cellist Kian Soltani follows his DG debut album, Home, with a Dvořák album centered on the famous cello concerto.
Pacific Conservatory Theatre kicks of 54th season with Freaky Friday / Santa Ynez Valley News
Posted: June 22, 2017 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
PCPA plans a 54th season of world-rocking plays and musicals from November 2017 through September 2018. PCPA's Artistic Director Mark Booher says, "We're thrilled to be bringing a season of plays that we trust will engage our audience in new ways, through stories of genuine transformation and electrifying discovery. This is our time to use great theatre to reflect, connect, and illuminate the path forward. As we all encounter the unprecedented trials and possibilities of modern life, we'll be presenting new-fashioned classics to ground us and sizzling new work to help us soar. We're counting on the Central Coast community to rise up with us."
Launching the season November 9, and playing through December 23, in the Marian Theatre is the Disney musical Freaky Friday. When an overworked mother and her contrary teenage daughter magically swap bodies, they have just one day to put things right again before mom's big wedding. In this hilarious modern day fairytale based on two Disney hit movies, a mother and daughter really see what it is to be a family and experience each other's lives first-hand, if only for a day. Freaky Friday is a delightfully entertaining musical for anyone with a perfectly imperfect family.
PCPA has announced its slate of plays and musicals for its 54th season, from November 2017 through September 2018. Four of the shows are getting runs at the Solvang Festival Theater. "We're thrilled to be bringing a season of plays that we trust will engage our audience in new ways, through stories of genuine transformation and electrifying discovery. This is our time to use great theater to reflect, connect, and illuminate the path forward. As we all encounter the unprecedented trials and possibilities of modern life, we'll be presenting new-fashioned classics to ground us and sizzling new work to help us soar," said PCPA Artistic Director Mark Booher.
Launching the season Nov. 9 in the Marian Theatre is the Disney musical "Freaky Friday." When an overworked mother and her contrary teenage daughter magically swap bodies, they have just one day to put things right again before mom's big wedding. Based on two Disney movies, a mother and daughter really see what it is to be a family and experience each other's lives first-hand.
In 1943, Decca Broadway released the first-ever cast album of all time. The musical was Rodgers and Hammerstein's groundbreaking Oklahoma!. Fast forward 76 years, the newly-relaunched Decca Broadway, part of Verve Label Group, announces the release of the new cast recording for the revival of Oklahoma!
The 2019 revival of Oklahoma! is making history as the first time the Rodgers and Hammerstein estate has allowed new arrangements of the original score. The New York Times said of these new versions, "The well-known melodies have been reimagined – by the brilliant orchestrator and arranger Daniel Kluger – with the vernacular throb and straightforwardness of country and western ballads." Daniel Fish's reimagined revival of Oklahoma! officially opened April 7 at Circle in the Square Theatre. The cast is led by Rebecca Naomi Jones as Laurey and Damon Daunno as Curly and the cast album will be produced by Dean Sharenow and Daniel Kluger.
In 1943, Decca Broadway released the first-ever cast album of all time. The musical was Rodgers and Hammerstein's groundbreaking Oklahoma!. Fast forward 76 years, the newly-relaunched Decca Broadway, part of Verve Label Group, announces the release of the new cast recording of the hit musical Tootsie.
The new comedy musical Tootsie, adapted from the 1982 film, began previews on Broadway March 29, following an acclaimed out-of-town tryout in Chicago last fall. Variety called Tony-winner David Yazbek's score "strikingly over-the-top: You know something's right when the music itself feels witty." Meanwhile, The Chicago Tribune commented, "The sound has a movie-score quality… many of his tempos are arrestingly up – so much so…that they keep amping the pleasures of the piece." Tootsie officially opens at the Marquis Theatre April 23. Tony nominee Santino Fontana leads the cast as Michael Dorsey, a talented but difficult actor who struggles to find work until one show-stopping act of desperation lands him the role of a lifetime – as the star of a new Broadway musical.
TOOTSIE features an original score by Tony Award-winner DAVID YAZBEK (The Band's Visit, The Full Monty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), a book by ROBERT HORN (13; Dame Edna, Back with a Vengeance), choreography by Tony Award nominee DENIS JONES (Holiday Inn, Honeymoon in Vegas), and musical direction by ANDREA GRODY (The Band's Visit). TOOTSIE will be directed by eight-time Tony Award nominee and Olivier Award winner SCOTT ELLIS (She Loves Me, On the Twentieth Century).
Sony Masterworks Broadway announces today's release of RENT – ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK OF THE FOX TELEVISION EVENT, featuring music from the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical RENT, as performed by the star-studded cast of FOX's television event, the soundtrack is produced by Stephen Oremus, executive-produced by Marc Platt and co-produced by Derik Lee.
The soundtrack features performances by actress and singer Vanessa Hudgens (Maureen Johnson), singer/songwriter Jordan Fisher (Mark Cohen), recording artist Tinashe (Mimi Marquez), actress Kiersey Clemons (Joanne Jefferson), newcomer and singer/songwriter Brennin Hunt (Roger Davis), R&B/Pop superstar Mario (Benjamin Coffin III), performer Valentina (Angel Dumont Schunard) and Emmy nominee and Tony Award winner Brandon Victor Dixon (Tom Collins). Additionally, Keala Settleperforms the iconic solo from "Seasons of Love."
THE PROM – ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING is available on from Sony Masterworks Broadway. Produced by Scott M. Riesett and Tony Award Nominee Matthew Sklar, with music by Sklar and lyrics by four-time Tony Award Nominee Chad Beguelin, the album is also available to stream and download everywhere now. The Prom cast celebrated the release with two CD signing events – at the annual BroadwayCon fan convention and at Theatre Circle.
The producers of Head Over Heels, the new musical comedy featuring the iconic songs of The Go-Go's – the most successful female rock band of all time, and Sony Masterworks Broadway today release The Original Broadway Cast Recording. Included in the 20-track cast album is a true bonus from The Go-Go's themselves: an exclusive new recording of one of the band's most popular songs, "This Town," which marks their first studio recording in more than 17 years since their album God Bless The Go-Go's (2000). The track, produced by Scott Sigman, was recorded exclusively for the Broadway collection by members Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine and Jane Wiedlin. The album is produced by Scott M. Riesett and Tom Kitt with co-producers Louise Gund and Christine Russell, engineered by Isaiah Abolin and Lawrence Manchester, and was recorded at the DiMenna Center in New York City on August 26-28.
The Original Cast Recording from the hit musical comedy Desperate Measures is now available digitallyfrom Masterworks Broadway, with the CD set for release August 10. With music by David Friedman (Listen to My Heart) and lyrics by Peter Kellogg (Anna Karenina), the album is produced by 7 time Grammy and Tony NomineeRobert Sher (Patti LuPone's Gypsy, Daniel Radcliffe's How To Succeed…) with liner notes by Peter Filichia. The album is Executive Produced by Mary Cossette (The Will Rogers Follies; Woody Sez; Carol Welsman'sWhat'Cha Got Cookin'?) and Willette Klausner (The Band's Visit; Smokey Joe's Café; Latin History For Morons). Described by the Huffington Post as "a good old-fashioned musical comedy… a happy surprise of a show filled with enjoyable songs," Desperate Measures is currently playing at New World Stages in New York City and tickets are on sale at: www.DesperateMeasuresMusical.com
The Original Cast Recording of SpongeBob SquarePants – The New Musical - album features a score of original songs unlike anything Broadway has ever heard and is produced by Scott Riesett and Tom Kitt, with executive producers Scott Farthing, Doug Cohn and Susan Vargo. A special two-LP vinyl version of the recording will be released November 3, in anticipation of the show's Broadway performances which begin November 6 at the Palace Theater in New York City.
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