JPR Classics

Classical music posts.

Turn It Down: Morton Feldman's Silent Revolution

Sep 6, 2017

The intrepid pianist Marc-André Hamelin has a reputation for embracing the toughest, strangest music. His new recording of For Bunita Marcus by Morton Feldman is a fine example. For nearly 75 minutes the music never rises above a whisper and the damper pedal is always pressed down, allowing single notes to ring out into vast, silent spaces.

You never know just where Bill Murray might show up. From house parties to the White House, the actor and comedian has a penchant for crashing events and leaving everyone in his wake surprised.

The lobby of a Silicon Valley tech company is not where you would expect to hear a soprano belting out a Puccini aria, but that was exactly what happened at the first performance of Arias in the Office.

With "Ch'il Bel Sogno," soprano Katharine Gunnink kicked off the new pop-up series at Adobe's San Jose headquarters at the beginning of August. The initiative by Opera San José aims to introduce people to the very concept of opera as something that can be fun and enjoyable.

Featured Works for September – First Concert
(*Indicates September birthday)

Sep 1 F Engelbert Humperdinck*: The Royal Children

Sep 4 M Darius Milhaud*: Saudades do Brasil
Sep 5 T Johann Christian Bach*: Symphonie Concertante in B flat major
Sep 6 W Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis
Sep 7 T François André Philidor Danican*: Flute Quartet in C major
Sep 8 F Luigi Cherubini*: String Quartet No. 3

The Venezuelan government has cancelled the upcoming U.S. tour by the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela and its star conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who is also the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.

El Nacional, a major Venezuelan paper, reported yesterday that the cancellation was ordered by the presidency.

The Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra will have a guest conductor this week: Dennis Prager. He'll conduct Haydn's Symphony No. 51 at an orchestra fundraiser.

Unrest continues on the streets of Venezuela after the country’s new constitutional assembly declared itself more powerful than all other branches of government on Tuesday. But pro-democracy protesters are missing a key member of their movement — the 23-year-old musician Wuilly Arteaga, who has braved tear gas and riot police with just his violin, was detained by Venezuela’s Bolivarian National Guard on July 27.

Featured Works for August – First Concert
(*Indicates August birthday)

Aug 1 T Jerome Moross*: Suite from The Cardinal
Aug 2 W Christoph Willibald Gluck: Selections from Orphée et Eurydice
Aug 3 T Gioachino Rossini: Overture to William Tell
Aug 4 F Jan Dismas Zelenka: Capriccio No. 1

Don't bother trying to pigeonhole the music of Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist, who record under the name From the Mouth of the Sun. If their mission in this instrumental miniature is nothing more than beauty itself, they have succeeded on a disproportionate scale.

The music in "Light Blooms In Hollow Space" summons exactly what its title suggests. A simple, two-note piano figure ticks like a clock while wheezy organ chords slowly emerge and a sprinkle of ukuleles falls from above. The space may be hollow, but it's painted with impressionistic detail.

Mark Campbell is one of the most prolific and celebrated librettists in contemporary American opera. But, as he recently told an audience at the Guggenheim Museum, not everyone thought his latest project was a good idea.

So what do you do if you're a recently crowned head of state and you're already facing opposition — even from within your own family? One answer is optics. Make a big, public splash; throw a lavish party with A-list musical entertainment. That's just what happened in London — 300 years ago Monday.

Most people love to sing, but in Estonia, they take their singing very seriously. At the Estonian Song Festivals, for example, over 30 thousand singers routinely show up to form one gigantic chorus. Among the Baltic country's smaller, professional vocal ensembles, the Grammy-winning Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir is considered one of the world's best. When the group releases a new album, fans of choral music listen up.

Featured Works for July – First Concert
(*Indicates July birthday)

July 3 M Philippe Gaubert*: Trois aquarelles
July 4 T Aaron Copland: Canticles of Freedom
July 5 W Joseph Haydn: Piano Concerto No. 11 in D major
July 6 T Gaetano Donizetti: String Quartet No. 15 in F major
July 7 F Gustav Mahler*: Totenfeier

Earlier this month, the New York Philharmonic's outgoing music director Alan Gilbert said goodbye to his orchestra in a series of concerts. Today, he is saying hello to a brand new job in Hamburg, Germany.

Mozart And 'The Peanut Vendor' In Havana

Jun 22, 2017

Last month, American pianist Simone Dinnerstein was in Cuba preparing for her current North American tour with an orchestra of young musicians from Havana. She fondly recalls one very hot rehearsal.

Fame Is A Boomerang

Jun 8, 2017

As far as flashy, oversize coffee table books go, opera star Maria Callas is a fitting subject. A larger-than-life figure, she had a complicated off-stage story that played out with as much searing drama as the operas she sang. With hard work and sacrifice, Callas vaulted to the top of her art while pushing it to new levels of intensity. In her personal life, she searched for love, found it, then lost it and died young.

Renée Fleming and Francis Collins have something unexpected in common: music.

Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, plays guitar. Fleming, of course, is a renowned soprano.

Pages