Inspired by her own mixed-race heritage and career-long engagement with diverse musical traditions, pianist Lara Downes creates and curates a new digital recording venture, Rising Sun Music, that sheds a bright light on the music and stories of Black composers over the past 200 years. Featuring a wide range of leading instrumentalists and vocalists (including Ms. Downes) whose work defines the creative energy of this generation and the next, the series presents a new EP of music-each exploring a different theme -to be released the first Friday of every month starting February 5. Featured performers include Nicole Cabell; Regina Carter; Anat Cohen; Lara Downes; Randall Goosby; Stewart Goodyear; Ivalas Quartet and more.
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The Violin Channel recently caught up with Grammy Award-winning violist and pedagogue, Kim Kashkashian, on her concert series "Music for Food" - a musician led initiative for local hunger relief. The "Music for Food" events are donation–based fundraising concerts, where the presenters and artists pledge to give all proceeds and fees to local food banks and pantries. The initiative was inspired by fellow violist, Carol Rodland's, Rochester–based food drive concerts entitled "If Music be the Food." Now celebrating its 11th season, "Music for Food" has provided over one million meals to cities around the U.S. and the world. We sat down with Kim to discuss this project, its beginning, and what she sees in its future.
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Violins of Hope is an artistic and educational project composed of instruments that were owned by Jewish musicians before and during the Holocaust. Violins in the collection were played in the concentration camps and ghettos, providing a source of comfort for some and a means of survival for others. The project was founded by Amnon Weinstein and his son Avshalom, Israeli luthiers who collect these instruments, refurbish them to concert quality, and bring them to communities all over the world, so that their voices can be heard again. The Violins of Hope have traveled to Jerusalem, Sion, Madrid, Maastricht, Monaco, Rome, Berlin, London, Bucharest, Dachau, Dresden, and Auschwitz. In the United States, the project has been presented in Charlotte, Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, Sarasota, Washington, D.C, Cincinnati, Nashville, Birmingham, Knoxville, Phoenix, Louisville, Fort Wayne, and San Francisco.
Niv Ashkenazi: Violins of Hope is the first solo album to be recorded on one of these instruments. Niv Ashkenazi is the only violinist in the world to hold an instrument from the Violins of Hope collection on a long-term loan, and this album was conceived as a way to create a lasting record of the voice of that violin. Ashkenazi is joined on the album by his fellow Juilliard graduate, pianist Matthew Graybil, and the duo first worked together on the project at various ‘Violins of Hope' events in Sarasota Florida in 2017. The Weinstein family commented; "Niv is the only violinist we trust absolutely to bring out the sounds of long gone horrors, with an honest sound and much love for this music and our legacy."
The music on Niv Ashkenazi: Violins of Hope was chosen to reflect the life and experiences of the violin. Many of the composers featured were directly affected by the Holocaust. Robert Dauber composed his only surviving work, the Serenade, in 1942, while he was interned in Theresienstadt. He died in Dachau of typhoid in 1945 at the age of 26. Szymon Laks was a Polish composer whose successful career in Paris was cut short in 1941 when he was arrested and sent to Auschwitz. While in Auschwitz, Laks served as the concertmaster of the Birkenau Men's Camp Orchestra. Other composers, such as Paul Ben-Haim and Julius Chajes, fled Europe in the 1930s to escape the oppressive creative and political situation they faced. Also included is John Williams's iconic Theme from Schindler's List, written for Itzhak Perlman.
The album alsoincludes a commission from award-winning Israeli-American composer Sharon Farber, an adaptation of the final movement of her cello concerto Bestemming. Bestemming tells the true story of Holocaust survivor and Dutch Resistance hero Curt Lowens in his own words. The final movement of the concerto; ‘Triumph' was arranged for violin, piano for four hands, and narrator. Farber plays one of the piano parts on the recording, and actor Tony Campisi provided the narration.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, major Violins of Hope events taking place in Los Angeles in March and April 2020 have now been tentatively postponed until January and February 2021. Once rescheduled, these events will include a day honoring Violins of Hope at Los Angeles City Hall, educational events for thousands of students, an exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, as well as scores of concerts hosted and produced by numerous partner organizations throughout Southern California, including; The Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts, the Long Beach Symphony, and others. 2020 Violins of Hope events still planned are slated for cities in Virginia and New Jersey. Additionally, the program will also be presented as a residency in Sarasota this November.
Virtuoso violinist Niv Ashkenazi has captivated audiences with his heartfelt musicianship and emotional performances. An accomplished soloist, recitalist, and chamber musician, he has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School. Pianist Matthew Graybil has performed throughout the United States and Canada since making his orchestral debut at age 14. The recipient of numerous awards and prizes, he is a graduate of The Juilliard School.
ARCHI Magazine reviewed the recording which appears as this story's cover image
York Daily Record - Mike Argento writes......Robin Spielberg was looking forward to a good 2020. The pianist and composer was working on her 19th record and had a tour scheduled with legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb, who penned such iconic songs as "By the Time I Get to Pheonix," "Galveston," "Wichita Lineman," "Up, Up and Away" and countless other timeless tunes.
She had toured with Webb before – her husband, producer and talent agent Larry Kosson represents Webb, among other artists – and it was always a great time. "I'm Jimmy's driver, shoe-shiner, everything," Spielberg said. "I always joke with him in the car, telling him, ‘You're an icon." And he would say, ‘Say that one more time and I'll slap you in the face.' So then, I'd have to say it over and over again."
She was also eager to get back on the road to promote her new record, "Love Story," released Feb. 7, her 19th record and first to be pressed on vinyl - bright red vinyl at that.
They played one date of the 20-city tour and were scheduled to play in her adopted home, York County, on March 28. Then the pandemic began. And everything changed.
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The Korea Times - Kwon Mee-yoo writes.....Pianist Cho Seong-jin will premiere an unheard piece by Mozart in Salzburg on the occasion of the classical composer's 265th birthday. Cho will play Mozart's "Allegro in D K626b/16" at the Great Hall of the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation, Wednesday, which mark's the Austrian composer's birthday as well as the opening date of the first-ever virtual edition of Mozartwoche, or Mozart Week, festival. "It is a great honor to be invited to give the premiere of a formerly unknown work by Mozart in the city of Salzburg, where the composer was born," Cho wrote on his Twitter, Friday.
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From a deeply stirring Mass to hauntingly re-imagined Leonard Cohen masterpieces, composer LUNA PEARL WOOLF: Fire and Flood encompasses 25 years of vocal and choral works by the innovative American- Canadian composer. The composer-portrait album features new and compelling performances from The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and NOVUS NY conducted by Julian Wachner, cellist Matt Haimovitz, soprano Devon Guthrie, mezzo-soprano Elise Quagliata, and Broadway actress Nancy Anderson.
In her penetrating album notes, The New York Times contributing writer Corinna Da Fonseca- Wollheim comments, "Luna Pearl Woolf trains a zoom lens on the collective experience, sometimes plunging us right into the midst of destruction and anarchy only to pull back, in one swoop, to a clear-eyed plane of compassion." These arresting works include her frequently-performed cello- choir concerto, Après moi, le deluge, which emerges from the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; and the dramatic, low-voiced To the Fire, with its prophetic, Old Testament text. In One to One to One, "three female singers reflect and refract the male gaze in an uproar of vocal virtuosity" (Da Fonseca-Wollheim); while Missa in Fines Orbis Terrae journeys to the ends of the earth in search of revelation, mercy, peace.
Released by Pentatone/Oxingale Series, LPW discusses 'Fire and Flood' with Pennsylvania's WVIA Public Media host Erika Funke for 'Arts Scene.' LISTEN
Multi Grammy & Emmy nominated recording artist, TV star and activist Jon Batiste announces a new single "I Need You" from his forthcoming ‘black pop' album WE ARE. The album is set for worldwide release on March 19 (Verve Records). On "I Need You" Batiste showcases his vocal range, accompanied by his once-in-a-generation musicianship. Produced and written in collaboration with songwriter Autumn Rowe and producer Kizzo, the song is communal and deceptively sophisticated. It fuses the sound of early 20th century black social music, with modern pop production and a hint of hip-hop storytelling. He expertly alternates between belting high notes in full voice, to singing harmony with himself on the choruses, to delivering the verses in a ‘farm rap' style. Batiste then dives into two killer instrumental breaks on both piano and saxophone - all in less than 3 minutes. Says Batiste, "This song is a vibe cleanse. After 2020, this is like a warm hug," says Batiste. "Let's bring the vibes back!"
Watch Batiste Lindy Hop his way through new single on the attached video. About the video, boingboing's GARETH BRANWYN writes.... "Jon Batiste everybody." One of the upsides of COVID-19 isolation has been getting to know Stephen Colbert and his musical director, Jon Batiste, a lot better. During the Trump Virus shit-show, Jon has been a little nightly dose of heartfelt music and unwavering positivity. In this video, the single to his forthcoming record, We Are, a group of Lindy Hoppers in a gallery photograph come to life and dance with him and another female patron. Sadly, upon seeing this, my first thought was: Where are their masks?
SEE THE boingboing PAGE & WATCH THE VIDEO
An ensemble that attracts rave reviews and sell-out crowds at prestigious venues everywhere from Vienna to New York, the sensational SIGNUM saxophone quartet are now set to present their first Deutsche Grammophon album.
Including passages adapted from the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, VOICES is inspired by the document's opening statement "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights", which provides the starting point for a musical reflection on the state of the world today.
A decade in the making, the piece received its world premiere in London in February. Its uplifting message of community particularly resonates as the world faces further months of uncertainty. It is here presented in a new version for 24-piece ensemble including strings, 4-member choir, electronics, solo soprano and narrator.
Following a previous Richter-focused collaboration with the European Broadcasting Union in April, when the composer's eight-hour long piece Sleep was heard by audiences in 20 countries at the start of world-wide lockdowns, 35 EBU-associated radio stations around the world join this unique broadcast of VOICES, providing listeners across the globe with a renewed moment of hope and a message of peace in unprecedented times.
Recorded on Friday 4 December at BBC Maida Vale studios – in strict compliance with all relevant health and safety guidelines – and presented by Elizabeth Alker, the BBC Radio 3 broadcast of VOICES features violinist Viktoria Mullova as soloist, soprano Grace Davidson, members of London-based vocal ensemble Tenebrae, the Max Richter ensemble – with Richter himself on keyboards and electronics – and British actor Sheila Atim as the narrator.
VOICES is co-conceived by Max Richter and his creative partner Yulia Mahr.
Max Richter and Deutsche Grammophon are set to release a brand-new orchestral composition to mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birthday. Beethoven – Opus 2020 was commissioned by the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, birthplace of the composer and now a museum, cultural institution and research centre. The British composer's new work will be available on all digital streaming platforms from 17 December, the day on which Beethoven was born. Its world premiere performance is scheduled to take place at the Beethoven-Haus on 16 December and will be streamed live on Deutsche Grammophon's Facebook page. Andante Loops, a piece for solo piano derived by Richter from his Opus 2020 score, meanwhile received its premiere on 11 December in Apple Music's Beethoven Room. The two works will be paired together on a digital EP, available from 18 December.
Over a decade after its inception, ground-breaking composer Max Richter announces the release of VOICES – a major new recording project inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The first single from his uplifting new work, which he describes as "a place to think and reflect", is out today via Decca Records. It is the latest album from the innovative, billion-streaming artist behind landmark 2015 composition SLEEP, which continues to evolve five years on with the launch of a new app. Available to download now, the app enables listeners to reimagine the 8-hour Deutsche Grammophon recording in custom-made musical sessions to help with focus, meditation and sleep. At the heart of both VOICES and SLEEP is a profound sense of global community, born out of Richter's career-long view of music as activism and his desire to unite audiences worldwide.
Max Richter's score for the 2018 drama Never Look Away is released on DG. The latest from director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarch (Lives of Others), Never Look Away is inspired by the life of artist Gerhard Richter through the story of an art student in post-war East Germany. The film was selected as the German entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the Academy Awards and stars Tom Schiling, Sebastian Koch and Paula Beer.
Composer Max Richter has written a compelling and dramatic score for the upcoming historical drama, Mary Queen of Scots. Directed by Josie Rourke and starring Margot Robbie and Saoirse Ronan, the movie explores the turbulent life of the charismatic Mary Stuart and her attempt to overthrow her cousin, Elizabeth I, Queen of England. The lavish orchestral score features a full orchestra and eclectic vocal pieces.
Max Richter wrote the score for White Boy Rick, the story of teenager Richard Wershe Jr., who became an undercover informant for the FBI during the 1980s and was ultimately arrested for drug-trafficking and sentenced to life in prison. Directed by Yann Demange and starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Jason Leigh, the film arrives in theaters September 14.
DG releases a new, deluxe edition of Max Richter's The Blue Notebooks to celebrate its 15th anniversary with brand new artwork as well as new arrangements, remixes and a previously unreleased new track. Written in 2003, The Blue Notebooks was originally composed in protest to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and features readings by Tilda Swinton of selections from Kafka's The Blue Octavo Notebooks and Czesław Miłosz's Hymn of the Pearl and Unattainable Earth.
The latest film from director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), Hostiles stars Christian Bale as a legendary Army captain in 1892 who reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) and his family through dangerous territory. The Hostiles soundtrack features music by composer Max Richter (The Leftovers, Sleep). Richter has received both Grammy and Emmy nominations for his work in film and television. Recent awards include The European Film Academy Award for Waltz with Bashir, the International Film Music Critics Award for The Leftovers, and a German Film Award and Australian Film Critics Award for Lore.