Press

Mon, October 2, 2017

Opera Finds Devil Feeling The Heat, Looking To Chill
Classical Voice North America

Wachner’s endlessly creative score moved with integrity and versatility among styles, not only rock, jazz, and bluesy settings, but affecting chamber music….The opera played as one continuous act, almost two hours long.

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Opera Finds Devil Feeling The Heat, Looking To Chill

By Keith Powers

BOSTON – Hell just seems like it would be a lot more fun.

Like every depiction of the fiery pit since Milton’s Paradise Lost, the hell in Julian Wachner’s opera REV. 23, which premiered Sept. 29 at John Hancock Hall in Boston’s Copley Square, holds a lot of appeal.

Just ask Adam and Eve.

In a fanciful imagining of an unpublished final chapter of Revelation, where Lucifer and Hades make another attempt to infiltrate heaven and turn off the power, Wachner’s REV. 23 paints a picture of the frustrations of the devil, and his methods for tempting the peace-out, smiley-faced automatons who live up above.

Inspiration for REV. 23 comes partly from video games, partly from farce, and partly from romance. It’s highlighted by Wachner’s inventive score, but seriously limited by a hackneyed libretto (Cerise Lim Jacobs), full of clunky idioms and grade-school rhymes.

Lidiya Yankovskaya conducted the chamber ensemble in the pit, the music providing a welcome respite from the sing-song lyrics. The movement onstage – by dancers and singers – was also intriguing and well conceived by director Mark Streshinsky, making REV. 23 far from a total loss.

Wachner’s endlessly creative score moved with integrity and versatility among styles, not only rock, jazz, and bluesy settings, but affecting chamber music. Yankovskaya worked it assiduously, keeping a firm grip on the activities in the pit and the sometimes hectic action onstage. The opera played as one continuous act, almost two hours long.

The plot works something like this: Lucifer (baritone Michael Mayes) and Hades (a character, not just a place, sung by tenor Vale Rideout), plot to bring back winter. It’s hot down there, after all.

Hades is also motivated by love: His Persephone (the lustrous soprano Colleen Daly), who can move freely between the two realms, has left him for heaven, mostly because of the climate.

Their plan centers around blowing up the almighty power plant, and they engage the comical – in a war-like way – Sun Tze (bass David Cushing) to strategize a takeover. They need to tempt Adam (tenor Jonathan Blalock) and Eve (terrific mezzo-soprano Annie Rosen) with apples and iPads and romantic literature.

Let that suffice for a summary. The story line, like the words that detail it, has no depth anyway. Hell is hot. Three Furies dress and act like pole dancers: that kind of hot. Heaven is cool, with its underwear-sporting airheads gazing off into the bliss. When Lucifer and Hades tempt the distance-gazers, it’s easy pickings.

The effective set (designed by Zane Pihlstrom, who did costumes as well) remains largely the same throughout. A luminous globe hangs center stage from the ceiling – alternately lit up as earth hanging in the balance or glowing ominously as the heavenly power source. Movable risers work well as shifting platforms for action and arias.

The singing was first rate. Mayes and Rideout were well suited to their roles. Mayes set a fiercely nasty tone from the opening bars. Superb countertenor Michael Maniaci – cast in the curious role of Archangel Michael, who fails spectacularly to defend heaven and somehow thinks that burning books will restore innocence – was unfortunately underused in this production. Cushing’s bass-baritone was well employed as the supercilious Sun-Tze.

It was Colleen Daly’s Persephone who had arias best suited to her lyric powers. Her “Blood Rubies,” backed by a muted trumpet (Sam Thurston), set the mood for an elegant dance interlude. Her introductory aria, explaining her unique predicament, was actually touching.

A troupe of a dozen or so dancers filled out the ranks of the heaven dwellers, and their movement all evening, choreographed by former Boston Ballet soloist Yury Yanowsky, was a highlight. The dancers transitioned easily between idioms, from dub to robotic to balletic, enhancing the action without drawing attention excessively to their own supporting role.

Costumes ranged from over-the-top, biker bad-boy leather (you can guess who that was) to tidy whiteys (another reason to avoid heaven). Fig leaves, cod pieces, and other naughty-bits coverings played a role in the plot, and in the humor. In fact, if this were a straight parody, the opera might have had more integrity. The times it did seem like a mock (or rock) opera – think Queen doing Faust – were the most successful.

But even the best music needs lyrics that move, explain, or envelop the action realistically. No matter how engaging the sound, when the Furies sing “Plant the fruit, all will go kaput,” it’s hard not to giggle with embarrassment.

Rosen, in Eve’s aria “Beyond Paradise,” proved the case. Singing lyrical art-song, with piano (Julia Carey) accompaniment, about her desire to see past the Happy Valley confines of heaven, she ended up going on and on with silly postulations. When the aria climaxes with her longing to see “where butterflies go to die” – well, that about sums up the intellectual complexity of this libretto.

Keith Powers covers music and the arts for GateHouse Media and WBUR’s ARTery. Follow @PowersKeith.

Thu, September 14, 2017

Diamonds shine amid the roughness at Time’s Arrow Festival
New York Classical Review

If there is such a thing as the secret history of 20th century classical music, it is surely found in Webern’s music. One of the triumvirate of atonality—along with Schoenberg and Berg—Webern stood apart by making, in the words of composer Marti Epstein, music “that sounded . . .  like something new.”

Epstein and conductor Julian Wachner were discussing Webern Wednesday afternoon, prior to the second day of Trinity Wall Street’s Time’s Arrow Festival, which across this season and next will present all of his music and a substantial amount of what followed him.

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Diamonds shine amid the roughness at Time’s Arrow Festival

Thu Sep 14, 2017 at 11:10 am
By George Grella

Marti Epstein’s music was performed Wednesday at the Time’s Arrow Festival.

Igor Stravinsky said of Anton Webern, “Doomed to total failure in a deaf world of ignorance and indifference, he inexorably kept on cutting out his diamonds, his dazzling diamonds, of whose mines he had a perfect knowledge.”

If there is such a thing as the secret history of 20th century classical music, it is surely found in Webern’s music. One of the triumvirate of atonality—along with Schoenberg and Berg—Webern stood apart by making, in the words of composer Marti Epstein, music “that sounded . . .  like something new.”

Epstein and conductor Julian Wachner were discussing Webern Wednesday afternoon, prior to the second day of Trinity Wall Street’s Time’s Arrow Festival, which across this season and next will present all of his music and a substantial amount of what followed him.

Wednesday’s matinée was thin on Webern—the Konzert für 9 Instruments, Op. 24, and 5 Geistliche Lieder, Op. 15—and generous on those who followed him, including two works from Epstein that bookended the performance. Her music and that from Babbitt, Stockhausen, and Heinz Holliger, showed his legacy flowing down one substantial path of his legacy. As Epstein and Wachner described it, that included the obvious atonality, as well as Webern’s masterful pointillism and klangfarbenmelodie—the diamonds Stravinsky heard—and more subtly the movement away from an audible pulse.

The two Webern performances were inconsistent, the uneven quality presenting an inadequate picture of his achievements and the music’s importance. The playing in the Op. 24 Konzert from members of the NOVUS NY ensemble was surprisingly harsh, and the musicians left barely any of the fundamental, precious space that Webern scrupulously carved. It seemed they could not see the light nor hear the delicate, precise beauty within.

With mezzo Melissa Attebury conducting the ensemble while singing, the Op. 15 songs were more successful. Her singing was graceful, even though the St. Paul’s Chapel acoustics don’t flatter high voices, and the musicians followed her expressive lead. Webern does sound like something new, still, but he was also a fundamentally lyrical composer—Attebury and the musicians got this.

All the remaining performances were impressive. Babbitt’s and Stockhausen’s instrumental ensemble pieces, Composition for Twelve Instruments and the classic Kontra Punkte, were particularly well played. Even with Wachner furiously beating Stockhausen’s complex notated rhythms, the music in each performance floated free of any pulse while remaining clearly and solidly organized. Where the feeling of flow was absent from the Op. 24, in both of these the music glided along, the players sympathetic to the aesthetic and in expressive conversation with each other.

Soprano Charlotte Mundy sang Holliger’s Four miniatures for soprano, oboe d’amore, celesta and harp. This is a superb piece, honoring Webern with its precision, delicacy, and inner space, while in Holliger’s incisive, succinct voice. This was also the piece that, after Webern, made best use of klangfarbenmelodie. Oboist Stuart Breczinski equalled Mundy in expressive lyricism, and the soprano’s legato was effortless and silvery.

Epstein turned out to be the featured composer. A self-described minimalist like Webern, her opening Abraham Lincoln’s Mystic Chords of Mercy was modest and her closing Troubled Queen was the most substantial, and satisfying, contemporary work on the program.

Both shared a sense of melancholy darkness, and the juxtaposition of tonal counterpoint and tightly voiced, dissonant piano chords. Mystic Chords made for a minor overture, but Troubled Queen left a deep impression. A meditation on Jackson Pollock, the music rejected the obvious cognate of energy and dense activity for a slow, still rumination on possible ideas and meanings underneath the surface. Full of beautiful sounds, and expertly played, it held the attention and stimulated the imagination. The form itself, extended and sustained quiet music, followed by an equally quiet, and slow, repeated six note phrase, hinted at Webern’s more radical influence.

That is the story still to come, the enormous effect that Webern had on both John Cage and Morton Feldman and thus the music that has followed them, as with the current Wandelweiser movement. In one of those amazing coincidences in history, Cage and Feldman met at a New York Philharmonic concert in 1950, when both left after hearing Webern’s Symphony, Op. 21. More than his technique, it was Webern’s aesthetic of quiet, spaciousness, and gentle beauty, that set both men on their mature path—a path that one expects Trinity Wall Street to follow next season.

Wed, September 13, 2017

Time’s Arrow Festival hits the mark with launch of Webern odyssey
New York Classical Review

The composer Anton Webern once responded to public incomprehension of his music by saying his tunes would someday be sung in the street.

That day may not quite have arrived, but Tuesday afternoon twenty of his songs resounded through St. Paul’s Chapel in lower Manhattan to enthusiastic applause from an audience consisting of tipped-off Webernites and surprised tourists on a day-after-September 11 pilgrimage to the area.

The free afternoon concert, in which Webern’s songs alternated with poetic chansons by the early Renaissance masters whom the composer considered his nearest predecessors, launched a two-year traversal of Webern’s complete works by Trinity Church’s new-and-old music festival, Time’s Arrow [Julian Wachner, Director of Music and the Arts].

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Time’s Arrow Festival hits the mark with launch of Webern odyssey

Wed Sep 13, 2017 at 12:20 pm
By David Wright

The Time’s Arrow Festival kicked off its Anton Webern series Tuesday afternoon at Trinity Church.

The composer Anton Webern once responded to public incomprehension of his music by saying his tunes would someday be sung in the street.

That day may not quite have arrived, but Tuesday afternoon twenty of his songs resounded through St. Paul’s Chapel in lower Manhattan to enthusiastic applause from an audience consisting of tipped-off Webernites and surprised tourists on a day-after-September 11 pilgrimage to the area.

The free afternoon concert, in which Webern’s songs alternated with poetic chansons by the early Renaissance masters whom the composer considered his nearest predecessors, launched a two-year traversal of Webern’s complete works by Trinity Church’s new-and-old music festival, Time’s Arrow.

The concentration and brevity of Webern’s compositions can make them seem like a blip on a program of lengthier pieces, a somewhat bitter apéritif to the Tchaikovsky main course. But performed in larger doses with the commitment and assurance shown by Tuesday’s young-skewing group of artists, they impressed mightily with their inventive intensity and force of expression.

Furthermore, the selection of songs—from the five songs of Webern’s Op. 3 to the three of Op. 25, his earliest and latest acknowledged works in the genre—showed the evolution of his style from suavely Romantic epigrams to a fiery texture of sudden leaps and juxtapositions.

Four singers performed five Webern song sets, bringing spontaneous, natural phrasing to all of the composer’s varied styles, even the most furious and disjunct. Pianist Steven Beck was on board the whole way, wrapping Op. 4 in Schumann-like mellow tone and sharply etching the sudden contrasts of Op. 25.

Compared to Webern’s tiny, polished gems, the delicate lute songs of Johannes Ockeghem, Heinrich Isaac, and Ludwig Senfl—themselves a reaction against more complicated and grandiose music of the time—sounded downright long-winded as they backed up and repeated texts, with richly extended melismas on single syllables.

The chapel’s reverberant space picked up all the voices and bounced them back, putting the singers almost in dialogue with themselves. An unfortunate effect of this voice-swelling reverb was the drowning out of Arash Noori’s artful lute playing, which was heard to best advantage in two solo pieces by Isaac, La morra and La battaglia. Noori’s fine ear for singing line and tone colors no doubt enhanced the vocal performances as well.

The vocal standard remained high throughout the recital. Mezzo-soprano Melissa Attebury brought robust tone and expressive surge to the Five Songs from “Der siebente Ring,” Op. 3. Attebury and Beck successfully navigated the set’s uniformly moderate tempos and hazy texts by Stefan George, which challenge singer and pianist to find and bring out the telling detail.

Returning later in the Three Songs (Gesänge) from “Viae inviae” by Hildegard Jone, Op. 23, Attebury brought focused tone and unforced agility to the capricious, leaping vocal line.

Billed as a tenor on the program page and as a countertenor in his program biography, Ryland Angel sounded like a bit of both, floating seamlessly in and out of a delicate falsetto in his sensitive phrasing of Ockeghem’s melancholy tribute to his late master Binchois (“Mort tu as navré”) and Senfl’s glowing tribute to music (“Lust hab ich g’habt”).

Although tenor Steven Caldicott Wilson gave focused tone and a touch of vocal heft to Webern’s Five Songs on Poems by Stefan George, Op. 4, his discreet delivery pointed up the connection to the preceding Renaissance items. Again confronted with uniform tempos and Webern’s avoidance of obvious text-painting, Wilson and pianist Beck dug successfully for musical gold in the nuances.

Soprano Molly Netter colored the smooth, chant-like vocal lines of Isaac’s “Quis dabit capiti” and Ockeghem’s “Ave Maria” with expressive inflections and subtle shifts of vocal placement.

Following this Renaissance turn, Netter stuck around for Webern’s Four Songs, Op. 12. Setting four poets of different eras and nationalities, the composer seemed to cut loose a little, with contrasting moods and even some outright text-painting here and there, all duly noted by Netter and Beck.

Netter was back yet again in the penultimate segment, joining tenor Angel in two duets by Senfl. The first was the only comic number on the program, a charmer titled “Ich weiß nit (was er ihr verhieß),” or, I Don’t Know (What He Promised Her), delivered with many a smile and a nod, in case one missed the abundant double-entendres.

Angel introduced “Ach Elslein” as “Senfl’s most famous tune,” and hearing him and Netter each croon a stanza and join together on the last, it wasn’t hard to imagine this wistful ballad as the “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” of the sixteenth century.

For the last item, Webern’s Three Songs to Poems by Hildegard Jone, Op. 25, the vocal cast seemed to call up reinforcements in the person of soprano Sarah Brailey. While one had sensed the other singers singing with power in reserve, Brailey drew liberally on her reserves to hit the dramatic highs and lows of Webern’s most starkly contrasted writing. Like her colleagues on this program, she could also neatly turn a phrase and find the expressive thread in Webern’s most disjunct vocal lines.

It made a brilliant finish to a program that left one, would you believe it, wishing for still more Webern.

Fri, September 8, 2017

The New Season of Classical Music: Listings for the Fall Season and Beyond
The New York Times

Flexing its muscles in both modern and early music, Trinity Wall Street [Julian Wachner, Director of Music and the Arts] opens its season with this annual festival, formerly held in early January. The focus this year and next is the complete works of the great Austrian miniaturist Anton Webern, juxtaposed with composers both long before and after him.

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The New Season of Classical Music: Listings for the Fall Season and Beyond

By ZACHARY WOOLFE

SEPT. 8, 2017

September

Dates are subject to change.

TIME’S ARROW Flexing its muscles in both modern and early music, Trinity Wall Street opens its season with this annual festival, formerly held in early January. The focus this year and next is the complete works of the great Austrian miniaturist Anton Webern, juxtaposed with composers both long before and after him. Sept. 12-14; trinitywallstreet.org.

MATANA ROBERTS Ms. Roberts, a saxophonist and conceptual artist, has called some of her works “patchwork sound quilts,” which bring together autobiography, folklore, spoken and sung texts and visuals. Her latest piece, “breathe … ,” to be unveiled at Roulette in Brooklyn, explores the militarization of the police. Sept. 14; roulette.org.

O17 Starting this year, the ambitious Opera Philadelphia is concentrating its offerings in this season-opening festival, which sprawls across that city and includes three premieres: “Elizabeth Cree” (created by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell), “We Shall Not Be Moved” (Daniel Bernard Roumain, Marc Bamuthi Joseph and Bill T. Jones) and “The Wake World” (David Hertzberg). The company will also present an acclaimed silent-film-inspired “The Magic Flute” and “War Stories,” a Monteverdi mash-up. (And looking forward, February brings a new production of George Benjamin and Martin Crimp’s “Written on Skin.”) Sept. 14-25; operaphila.org.

JAAP VAN ZWEDEN It is another year before this exacting Dutch maestro becomes the New York Philharmonic’s music director. But he has a strong presence this season, leading the opening-night gala and first subscription program, which features Mahler’s Fifth Symphony and Philip Glass’s Concerto for Two Pianos. In February, he pairs the first act of Wagner’s “Die Walküre” (starring Heidi Melton and Simon O’Neill) with the New York premiere of John Luther Adams’s “Dark Waves,” and two weeks later conducts Prokofiev and Brahms before leading the orchestra on an Asian tour. Season opens Sept. 19; nyphil.org.

OLIVIER PY The artistic director of the Avignon Festival in France, this outspoken artist has a seductive alter ego in the seen-it-all chanteuse Miss Knife. For “Les Premiers Adieux de Miss Knife,” she will be joined in the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s intimate BAM Fisher space by a four-piece jazz band and the special guests Joey Arias (Sept. 20), Angélique Kidjo (Sept. 21), Ute Lemper (Sept. 22) and Jo Lampert (Sept. 23). bam.org.

‘BLANK OUT’ A new chamber work by Michel van der Aa, known for experimenting with technology on the opera stage, demands that the soprano Miah Persson, singing live at the Park Avenue Armory, interact with a co-star, Roderick Williams, who is present only in a 3-D film. (One of Mr. van der Aa’s previous live-film amalgams, “Sunken Garden,” comes to the Dallas Opera in March.) Opens Sept. 21; armoryonpark.org.

‘CRAZY GIRL CRAZY’ For Barbara Hannigan’s first album as both singer and conductor, she has planned a characteristically daring program of women on the verge: Berg’s “Lulu” Suite, Berio’s “Sequenza III” and a new arrangement of music from Gershwin’s “Girl Crazy.” (She also sings Salvatore Sciarrino’s “La nuova Euridice secondo Rilke” with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia at Carnegie Hall in October, and in November gives a two-night American recital debut at the Park Avenue Armory, devoting one program to the Second Viennese School and the other to Erik Satie, with Reinbert de Leeuw on piano.) Sept. 22; Alpha Classics.

SCIARRINO PIANO CONCERTO In addition to writing a piece for Barbara Hannigan, Mr. Sciarrino — the master of anxious near-silence — is the latest of the five composers from whom the pianist Jonathan Biss has commissioned concertos based on Beethoven’s. Mr. Biss will play the piece first with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (alongside Beethoven’s Fourth), and then, at the end of November, with the Cleveland Orchestra. Sept. 22-23, thespco.org.

NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Gianandrea Noseda’s first season as the music director of this talented but chronically underachieving ensemble begins with a program of Bernstein and includes, in March, John Adams’s “The Gospel According to the Other Mary” and Verdi’s Requiem. Sept. 24, kennedy-center.org/nso.

‘NORMA’ The star soprano Anna Netrebko was originally supposed to take on the formidable title role of a Druid priestess torn between love and duty in this Bellini masterpiece, a one-time showcase for Callas and Ponselle. But she decided it wasn’t for her, leaving Sondra Radvanovsky — a chicory-dark and fluent, if blunt, Norma at the Metropolitan Opera four years ago — to open the company’s season, alongside Joyce DiDonato and Joseph Calleja. Carlo Rizzi, a journeyman who led the premiere of the disastrous former “Norma” production in 2001, conducts; David McVicar, the Met’s go-to for efficient realism, directs. (Angela Meade and Jamie Barton, exciting partners in this opera, sing five performances in December.) Opens Sept. 25; metopera.org.

‘VEXATIONS’ Satie’s instruction atop the score for this short piano piece — play it 840 times — may well have been a joke at the expense of the esotericism-obsessed Salon de la Rose + Croix in late-1890s Paris. “Complete” performances are, understandably, rare. But on the occasion of “Mystical Symbolism,” its exhibition about the salon, the Guggenheim Museum will field a host of pianists in the whole marathon, all 19-odd hours of it. Sept. 26; guggenheim.org.

‘FOR/WITH’ Organized by the vital trumpeter Nate Wooley, an artist of rare integrity and artistic ambition, this two-night mini-festival at Issue Project Room focuses on four composers — Christian Wolff, Ashley Fure, Michael Pisaro and Annea Lockwood — from whom he has commissioned works. Sept. 29-30; issueprojectroom.org.

THE STONE AT THE NEW SCHOOL The Stone, a tiny but influential East Village performance space founded by John Zorn, announced earlier this year that it would move into a permanent residence at the New School in Greenwich Village next March. Until then, concerts each Friday and Saturday at the school will give a taste of what is coming, including this twofer with the stylish guitarist Mary Halvorson. Sept. 29-30; thestonenyc.com.

MARYANNE AMACHER Specializing in haunting, fleeting acoustic experiments that sprawled through multiple rooms, this composer left little behind when she died in 2009. But there have been recent attempts to revive her work, including this performance of “Adjacencies,” for two percussionists (here from the group Yarn/Wire) and electronics, at the Kitchen. (Yarn/Wire returns there on Oct. 6 with the kaleidoscopically detailed music of Enno Poppe.) Sept. 29-30; thekitchen.org.

October

SABINE DEVIEILHE Increasingly prominent in Europe, this dramatically acute coloratura soprano makes her North American recital debut with a program of French songs in the ornate environs of the Board of Officers Room at the Park Avenue Armory. Oct. 1, 3; armoryonpark.org.

‘CROSSING’ Based on the war diaries of Walt Whitman, this somber chamber opera by Matthew Aucoin was acclaimed at its premiere in 2015. It arrives at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Diane Paulus’s production; Rod Gilfry stars as Whitman. (“Orphic Moments,” a double bill of Mr. Aucoin’s “The Orphic Moment” and Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice,” will be revived by MasterVoices in May.) Opens Oct. 3; bam.org.

PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA This burnished ensemble from down I-95 has become practically a house band at Carnegie Hall in recent years under its vibrant music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin. It opens Carnegie’s season with lovable standards by Gershwin and Bernstein, then returns for three more dates, in December, March and April, including new works by Tod Machover and Michel van der Aa and a freshly expanded suite from Thomas Adès’s opera “Powder Her Face.” Bernstein is a recurring strand, too, with “Serenade (After Plato’s ‘Symposium’)” and the “Chichester Psalms.” Oct. 4; carnegiehall.org.

L’ARPEGGIATA Christina Pluhar’s ensemble plays early music with the offhand vitality of contemporary indie rock. It devotes one program at Zankel Hall to Luigi Rossi, and the next to a mélange of Cavalli, Cesti, Monteverdi and Italian folk tunes. Oct. 6-7; carnegiehall.org.

‘THE FORCE OF THINGS’ Music theater as immersive installation: This “opera for objects,” by the important young composer Ashley Fure (collaborating with her brother, the architect Adam Fure), makes sounds through unexpected connections, in a kind of vibrating stillness. Its American premiere, with the International Contemporary Ensemble, comes courtesy of the Peak Performances series at Montclair State University in New Jersey, devoted this season to works by women. Oct. 6-8; peakperfs.org.

‘RÉPONS’ A sweeping, complex amalgam of the acoustic and electronic, with the audience both surrounding and surrounded by sound, this Pierre Boulez work from the early 1980s strains the resources of traditional performance spaces. But it may well be perfect for the soaring Drill Hall at the Park Avenue Armory, where Boulez’s own Ensemble intercontemporain will play it twice at each of two performances, allowing listeners to hear the 45-minute piece from different perspectives. Oct. 6-7; armoryonpark.org.

MUSIC HALL OF CINCINNATI Everyone agrees that America’s concert halls, many built during eras of explosive interest in classical music, are now too large to fill consistently. But is there the money and the will to fix them? Cincinnati has found a way: The imposing Music Hall (from 1878), home to the meatily authentic Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, closed for a year and reduced its capacity to around 2,400 from 3,400. It reopens, those seats (it is hoped) full, with works by Scriabin, Beethoven, John Adams and Jonathan Bailey Holland. Oct. 6-7; cincinnatisymphony.org.

NEW JERSEY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA This underrated ensemble fields a particularly fine roster of piano soloists this season, opening with Jeremy Denk (and Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto) and also including Conrad Tao, Stephen Hough, George Li, Terrence Wilson, Sara Daneshpour and Robert Levin. Oct. 7-8; njsymphony.org.

PATRICIA KOPATCHINSKAJA AND JAY CAMPBELL This violinist and cellist come together in the snug Board of Officers Room at the Park Avenue Armory for a wide range of works — from early music to a premiere by Michael Hersch — that will test their shared taste for extremity. (Ms. Kopatchinskaja, a creative curator as well as an intense player, will get a more vast canvas for her talents next June as the music director of the 2018 Ojai Festival in California.) Oct. 9-10; armoryonpark.org.

‘CDMX’ FESTIVAL Boldly declaring irrelevant old distinctions between high and low art, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s immersion in the music of today’s Mexico City includes commissions from Gabriela Ortiz and Arturo Márquez; an evening of brand-new chamber works conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto; the Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel performing with Natalia Lafourcade and Café Tacvba; film music, including a screening of Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Birdman,” with live accompaniment; and organilleros (organ grinders) deployed through Walt Disney Concert Hall. Oct. 9-17; laphil.com.

AMERICAN SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Leon Botstein’s ensemble goes where others fear to tread, devoting this season at Carnegie Hall to rarely heard music with a relationship to politics. “The Sounds of Democracy” features works by Roger Sessions, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. (“Triumph of Art” follows in December; “Hollow Victory: Jews in Soviet Russia After the World War,” in January; and, in March, a performance of Luigi Nono’s anti-fascist opera, “Intolleranza.”) Oct. 11; americansymphony.org.

LEIF OVE ANDSNES A thoughtful virtuoso, this pianist opens his season-long residency with the New York Philharmonic with Rachmaninoff’s Fourth Concerto. Later he plays Britten’s Concerto and Debussy’s “Fantaisie,” as well as a recital at David Geffen Hall. Oct. 12-17; nyphil.org.

SPHINX ORGANIZATION Devoted to promoting racial diversity in classical music through competitions, grants and educational activities, this invaluable entity also presents an annual concert at Carnegie Hall featuring its flagship orchestra, the Sphinx Virtuosi; this year it includes pieces old (Vivaldi, Beethoven, Vaughan Williams) and new (the New York premiere of a Jimmy López work for violin, cello and strings). Oct. 13; sphinxmusic.org.

NEW YORK EARLY MUSIC CELEBRATION Focused this year on Holland and Flanders, this citywide festival includes respected ensembles like the Sebastians and Pomerium. The schedule also features a presentation from the treasured series Music Before 1800 (“The Musical World of Hieronymus Bosch,” with Capella Pratensis) and, at the Morgan Library & Museum, Camerata Trajectina’s “Music From the Age of Vermeer.” Oct. 13-22; nyemc.com.

‘IL GRILLO DEL FOCOLARE’ Teatro Grattacielo, devoted to the revival of little-known Italian operas, turns to this tender 1908 adaptation of Charles Dickens’s sentimental story “The Cricket on the Hearth.” It made the career of Riccardo Zandonai, today (a bit) better known for “Francesca da Rimini.” Oct. 14; grattacielo.org.

PEOPLES’ SYMPHONY CONCERTS This venerable series — one of the best deals in classical music — presents world-class performers for less than $10 a ticket. The season begins with the pianist Shai Wosner and also includes the cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan; the pianists Vladimir Feltsman, Kirill Gerstein and Lise de la Salle; the Rosamunde, Dover and Juilliard quartets; the clarinetist Jörg Widmann with the pianist Gilles Vonsattel; and, in Ives sonatas, the violinist Stefan Jackiw and the pianist Jeremy Denk. Oct. 14; pscny.org.

MONTEVERDI TRIO The opportunity to hear Monteverdi’s three pathbreaking extant operas — “L’Orfeo,” “Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria” and “L’Incoronazione di Poppea” — is rare enough, let alone all under the artful baton of John Eliot Gardiner, who founded his Monteverdi Choir in the 1960s and will open Lincoln Center’s annual White Light Festival at Alice Tully Hall. (In December, the brilliant vocal ensemble Tenet performs selections from Monteverdi’s “Selva morale e spirituale.”) Oct. 18, 19, 21; whitelightfestival.org.

WHITE LIGHT FESTIVAL With a perennially vague focus on spirituality and faith, Lincoln Center’s fall festival rightly has as its centerpiece, “The Psalms Experience,” performances of settings (some new, some old) of all 150 biblical psalms, by 150 composers. White Light also presents the Emerson String Quartet, Meredith Monk (with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City), the organist Bernard Foccroulle, the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Radio Choir, Jordi Savall and, performing Messiaen’s “Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus,” the pianist Steven Osborne. Oct. 18-Nov. 15; whitelightfestival.org.

JACK QUARTET For “Soundscape America,” a two-night celebration of the 20th- and 21st-century American string quartet at the Miller Theater, this endlessly curious group ranges from Ruth Crawford Seeger to Cenk Ergun, by way of Erin Gee, Anthony Braxton, Elliott Carter, Morton Feldman, John Zorn, Gloria Coates and more. (The JACK also joins So Percussion at Zankel Hall in March for an evening of premieres by Philip Glass, Donnacha Dennehy and Dan Trueman.) Oct. 19, 21; millertheater.com.

ÉLIANE RADIGUE This French composer, who combined her skills at synthesizer composition and her Tibetan Buddhist spiritual practice into hypnotic music, began working with acoustic instruments about 15 years ago. For a performance at Issue Project Room, part of the Austrian Cultural Forum’s Moving Sounds Festival, two recent pieces will be heard alongside a classic recording of “Mila’s Song in the Rain.” Oct. 20; issueprojectroom.org.

ORCHESTRA DELL’ACCADEMIA NAZIONALE DI SANTA CECILIA Antonio Pappano, the conductor of this healthy-voiced ensemble, has lured the elusive pianist Martha Argerich to Carnegie Hall for Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3, part of a two-night stand that also includes works by Verdi, Respighi, Sciarrino and Mahler. (Mr. Pappano also makes a rare appearance with the New York Philharmonic in February with a keyboard fest: Britten’s Piano Concerto, with Leif Ove Andsnes, and Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony, with Kent Tritle.) Oct. 20-21; carnegiehall.org.

BERNSTEIN AT 100 If you think you’re hearing more “West Side Story” dances in concert halls than usual this season, you’re not crazy: It is part of the two-year celebration of the centennial of this quintessential figure of American music, born in August 1918. The New York Philharmonic’s “Bernstein’s Philharmonic” festival (Oct. 25-Nov. 14), including all his symphonies, is among many local and international tributes. leonardbernstein.com/at100.

‘THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL’ Thomas Adès conducts the Met premiere of his seething 2016 opera, based on the surreal Luis Buñuel film about an elegant dinner party whose guests find it — first oddly, then ominously — impossible to leave. Tom Cairns, who wrote the libretto, directs; the large ensemble cast includes Audrey Luna, Amanda Echalaz, Sally Matthews, Alice Coote, Iestyn Davies, Joseph Kaiser, Rod Gilfry and John Tomlinson. (On Oct. 15 at Zankel Hall, a few of the singers and Mr. Adès will perform songs by him and others.) Opens Oct. 26; metopera.org.

DANIIL TRIFONOV This dazzling pianist releases a Chopin album on Oct. 6, and that composer is a thread running through his Perspectives series this season at Carnegie Hall, which opens with “Hommage à Chopin,” a demonstration of the master’s influence. (He also performs his own concerto with the Mariinsky Orchestra; lieder with the baritone Matthias Goerne; piano duos with Sergei Babayan; more Chopin with Kremerata Baltica; and, in May, “Decades,” a solo program featuring a work from each decade of the 20th century, from Berg to Adès.) Oct. 28; carnegiehall.org.

November

MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN As technically accomplished as any pianist, Mr. Hamelin doesn’t rest on those laurels. He delves deeply into dusty corners of the repertory, and emerges, in this recital at Carnegie Hall, with rarities by Samuil Feinberg and Leopold Godowsky, alongside works by Liszt and the first book of Debussy’s “Images.” Nov. 1; carnegiehall.org.

92ND STREET Y Yet more choice pianists are the prime attractions next season at the Y, including Angela Hewitt, who continues her four-season survey of Bach’s complete keyboard works on Nov. 8. Benjamin Grosvenor, the 24-year-old British dynamo, will make his Y debut a week later, with works by Bach and Brahms, and Shai Wosner will play Schubert’s six final sonatas in three concerts. Nikolai Lugansky, Jeremy Denk, Alessio Bax and Inon Barnatan also appear. 92y.org.

‘THE MOTHER OF US ALL’ Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s quirkily heart-rending pageant-opera about Susan B. Anthony and the struggle for women’s suffrage will be staged by the searching young director R. B. Schlather in a site-specific production at the 19th-century Hudson Hall in Hudson, N.Y. (Schlather completists will want to check out his staging of a new piece, “Film Stills,” based on Cindy Sherman’s photographs, in the spring at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, alongside a new opera by Anna Clyne based on Eva Hesse’s diaries.) Opens Nov. 11; hudsonhall.org.

‘WAR OF THE WORLDS’ “Fake news” isn’t new: In 1939, Orson Welles co-opted the form of the radio news bulletin for a panic-sowing adaptation of H. G. Wells’s novel about an alien invasion. Bringing it into the 21st century, the composer Annie Gosfield, whose work has often been inspired by old transmissions, collaborates with the director Yuval Sharon, who plans to involve both the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s audience at Walt Disney Concert Hall and unsuspecting listeners in the streets; Christopher Rountree conducts the LA Phil New Music Group. Nov. 12, 18; laphil.com.

PAUL LEWIS Eloquent and restrained, this British pianist has provided some of New York’s most memorable concerts in recent years, with late sonatas of Schubert and Beethoven. He returns, to Zankel Hall, with more late Beethoven (the Opus 126 Bagatelles) as well as Brahms’s “Klavierstücke” (Op. 118) and two Haydn sonatas. (In April, he joins a frequent collaborator, the moving tenor Mark Padmore, at Alice Tully Hall for songs of Brahms and Schumann.) Nov. 15; carnegiehall.org.

COMPOSER PORTRAITS Miller Theater’s signature series of dives into one artist’s work at a time begins with the reactive music of Marcos Balter, with evenings of Chen Yi, Raphaël Cendo, Ann Cleare, Christopher Cerrone and Frederic Rzewski to follow. Nov. 16; millertheater.com.

CHAMBER MUSIC SOCIETY OF LINCOLN CENTER The New York premiere of John Luther Adams’s “… there is no one, not even the wind” is part of this concert of ensemble music focusing on the flute, a highlight of the society’s season at Alice Tully Hall, full of fine performers and staid programs. Nov. 19; chambermusicsociety.org.

‘GIRLS OF THE GOLDEN WEST’ The most eagerly anticipated new opera of the season, drawn from texts by the Forty-Niners of the California Gold Rush — particularly women — opens, appropriately, at San Francisco Opera, bringing together two longtime collaborators, the composer John Adams and the librettist and director Peter Sellars. Grant Gershon conducts a cast that includes Julia Bullock, Davóne Tines and J’Nai Bridges. Opens Nov. 21; sfopera.com.

VERDI REQUIEM Something of a lemonade-out-of-lemons situation: This year the Met canceled, for what it said were cost reasons, a planned new production of Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino” by the daring director Calixto Bieito. Taking its place are these four performances of the composer’s crushing choral work, conducted by James Levine and featuring a fine quartet of soloists in Krassimira Stoyanova, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Aleksandrs Antonenko and Ferruccio Furlanetto. Opens Nov. 24; metopera.org.

TALEA ENSEMBLE At the Italian Academy at Columbia University, this fearless ensemble takes on “Face,” a new evening-length work by the savage composer Pierluigi Billone that closely intertwines a vocalist (here, the soprano Anna Clare Hauf) with instrumentalists in a sound world that can be rough, even violent. Nov. 30; taleaensemble.org.

‘THE NUBIAN WORD FOR FLOWERS’ As a tribute to the composer Pauline Oliveros, who died last year, Experiments in Opera and the International Contemporary Ensemble present the premiere, at Roulette in Brooklyn, of her music-theater collaboration with her spouse, the writer and performance artist known as Ione. Called a “phantom opera” by its creators, the work is a kind of meditation on colonialism, loosely based on the story of Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, a brutal British Army commander in Africa; Ione directs. Nov. 30; roulette.org.

December

ALEXI KENNEY This gifted young violinist plays with a precision and purity of tone that are ideally suited to Bach. He comes to Weill Recital Hall with a program that includes the Partita No. 3 and works by Schubert, Respighi, George Crumb and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Dec. 1; carnegiehall.org.

JANINE JANSEN A few days later, another superb violinist arrives at Carnegie to start a Perspectives series: This one begins with two programs of chamber music, featuring the clarinetist Martin Frost and the cellist Torleif Thedeen. A concert with the pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the Dover Quartet follows in January, as do concertos with expert orchestras: the Royal Concertgebouw (Bruch’s First) and Philadelphia (the New York premiere of a work by Michel van der Aa). Dec. 7, 9; carnegiehall.org.

‘MESSIAH’ Every December brings a wave of performances of this Handel favorite, and many (even the singalongs) have their charms. But those in the know seek out one in particular: Trinity Wall Street’s, led by Julian Wachner at Trinity Church with a sure sense of drama, and soloists drawn from its riveting chorus. Dec. 15-17; trinitywallstreet.org.

JAMIE BARTON Though her generous voice easily cuts through a Wagner orchestra, this mezzo-soprano can rein it in, too, as a potent recitalist. A new work by Iain Bell shares the program, at Zankel Hall, with pieces by Haydn, Ravel, Debussy, Schoenberg, Strauss and Libby Larsen. Dec. 18; carnegiehall.org.

‘TOSCA’ The Met’s much-anticipated new production of this Puccini classic lost its star tenor (Jonas Kaufmann) and its married soprano and conductor (Kristine Opolais and Andris Nelsons) to a variety of personal issues. An effort to replace a grim 2009 Luc Bondy staging that never caught on with audiences, it now fields Sonya Yoncheva and Vittorio Grigolo — dynamic singers, both new to their roles — and James Levine, returning to the work he conducted in his first Met outing, in 1971. David McVicar directs, on naturalistic sets that look more or less the same as the Franco Zeffirelli ones that were stalwarts for decades. (Ms. Yoncheva and Mr. Levine then collaborate on Verdi’s “Luisa Miller,” opening on March 29 and also starring Plácido Domingo and the classy tenor Piotr Beczala, who has a solo recital at Carnegie Hall on Feb. 28.) Opens Dec. 31; metopera.org.

January

PROTOTYPE: OPERA/THEATER/NOW Now in its sixth year, this festival of contemporary chamber opera and performance has become New York’s most dependable home for intriguing music theater. Presented by Beth Morrison Projects and Here Arts Center, this season’s offerings, a mixture of full productions, song cycles and works in progress, include Michael Gordon and Deborah Artman’s “Acquanetta”; “The Echo Drift,” a collaboration among Mikael Karlsson, Elle Kunnos de Voss and Kathryn Walat; and Gregory Spears and Greg Pierce’s “Fellow Travelers,” much praised at its premiere in Cincinnati last year. Jan. 9-20; prototypefestival.org.

ROOMFUL OF TEETH This vocal ensemble, specializing in a grab bag mixture of exotic approaches, comes to Zankel Hall for the premiere of a work by (and performed with) the jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan, as well as a new piece by Ambrose Akinmusire, and “Partita,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning contemporary classic by Caroline Shaw, one of the group’s members. (The Teeth join the New York Philharmonic in May, under Semyon Bychkov, for a rare revival of Berio’s teeming “Sinfonia,” which he wrote for that orchestra in the late 1960s.) Jan. 11; roomfulofteeth.org.

BUDAPEST FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA Don’t be fooled by the sleepy repertory (standards by Bach, Beethoven and Rachmaninoff) in this program at David Geffen Hall. There are always tricks up the conductor Ivan Fischer’s sleeve, be they rearranging the sections of this crack ensemble or embedding a chorus in an innocent audience. Jan. 14; lcgreatperformers.org.

FOCUS! FESTIVAL The director of the New Juilliard Ensemble, Joel Sachs, acts more generally as the Juilliard School’s new-music magus and organizes this annual dive into slivers of the contemporary landscape. This year’s theme is “China Today: A Festival of Chinese Composition.” Jan. 19-26; juilliard.edu.

CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA Celebrating its centennial in 2018, this peerlessly refined ensemble — perhaps America’s best — arrives at Carnegie Hall under Franz Welser-Möst for a pair of programs that include a broad span of music, from Haydn’s oratorio “The Seasons” to a new work by Johannes Maria Staud, by way of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. No flashy concertos here: The orchestra is the star. Jan. 23-24; carnegiehall.org.

‘HERE BE SIRENS’ Kate Soper’s funny, poignant music-theater work, a dazzling exploration and explosion of myth, finds room to include, as Steve Smith wrote in The New York Times, “stark chant, Baroque extravagance, modernist dissonance and pop-tune directness in collision and collusion.” National Sawdust hosts the premiere of its newest iteration. Jan. 28; nationalsawdust.org.

February

‘PARSIFAL’ Yannick Nézet-Séguin, a major presence in New York this season with his Philadelphia Orchestra, also has an extended residency at the Met, where he will be the next music director. First comes this meditative Wagner opera, in François Girard’s evocative production, with a stellar cast that includes Klaus Florian Vogt, Evelyn Herlitzius, Peter Mattei and René Pape. (Strauss’s raw “Elektra,” staged with restraint by Patrice Chéreau, follows on March 1, and boasts Christine Goerke, Elza van den Heever and Michaela Schuster.) Opens Feb. 5; metopera.org.

PHILIP GLASS Carnegie Hall celebrates this prolific artist, who holds its Debs Composer’s Chair this season, with a series of concerts. Most intimate may be a selection of Glass songs, arranged by Nico Muhly and performed by him and some close collaborators. Other programs feature the Philip Glass Ensemble (“Music With Changing Parts”), the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra (“Days and Nights in Rocinha” and the Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra) and the Pacific Symphony (“The Passion of Ramakrishna”). Feb. 8; carnegiehall.org.

CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA Over the past few years, Riccardo Muti has shaped an ensemble both powerful and lyrical. He brings it to Carnegie Hall in works by Stravinsky, Britten, Chausson (the “Poème de l’Amour et de la Mer,” with the juicy mezzo-soprano Clémentine Margaine), Verdi and Brahms, and new pieces by Jennifer Higdon (a concerto for low-brass quartet) and Samuel Adams. Feb. 9-10; carnegiehall.org.

‘SEMIRAMIDE’ Not revived at the Met since 1993, this grand Rossini opera returns with Angela Meade, who sang the title role at the Caramoor Festival a few years ago, alongside Elizabeth DeShong, the essential tenor Javier Camarena, Ildar Abdrazakov and Ryan Speedo Green; Maurizio Benini conducts. Opens Feb. 19; metopera.org.

ST. PAUL’S CHAPEL ORGAN The installation of a Noack pipe organ, rescued from a church in Boston and renovated, is a belated present for the 250th birthday, celebrated last season, of Trinity Wall Street’s intimate chapel. A week of concerts will put the instrument through its paces, as will a springtime Pipes at One series on Friday afternoons. Feb. 19-25; trinitywallstreet.org.

ANNA CATERINA ANTONACCI From a singer of exhilarating intensity, a characteristically sophisticated program of Nadia Boulanger, Respighi, Britten, Poulenc and Debussy for this recital with the pianist Donald Sulzen at Zankel Hall, presented by New York City Opera. Feb. 20; nycopera.com.

VIENNA PHILHARMONIC Gustavo Dudamel, a frequent partner of this storied orchestra, hews mostly to Vienna favorites — Brahms, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, even Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique” — in these three concerts at Carnegie Hall. But he has one wild card, too: Ives’s Symphony No. 2, not new to these players but a rarity for them. Just imagine the warm urgency those strings will find in this music, and the joy of hearing bits of “Turkey in the Straw” from the Viennese. Feb. 23-25; carnegiehall.org.

MITSUKO UCHIDA The queen of pianistic subtlety delves into Schubert with a pair of Carnegie recitals devoted to his sonatas — three each night. Feb. 26, March 2; carnegiehall.org.

March

SIMON KEENLYSIDE After a long stretch of health-related cancellations, this energetic baritone has been returning to opera — and to recital, too: This program at Alice Tully Hall, with the pianist Malcolm Martineau, includes Sibelius, Schubert and Poulenc, with a set of songs from his native Britain by Vaughan Williams, Arthur Somervell, Peter Warlock and Percy Grainger. March 1; lcgreatperformers.org.

ANDREW NORMAN A composer whose turbulent works echo the way we live now — technological overdrive and political strife — will have two West Coast showcases: The first American performances of his children’s opera, “A Trip to the Moon,” come to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and a new cello concerto, for Johannes Moser and the Seattle Symphony, follows in June. March 2-3; laphil.com.

‘COSÌ FAN TUTTE’ The Met’s last production of this Mozart opera, a study of love and betrayal, was merely decorative; this new one, directed by Phelim McDermott and conducted by David Robertson, sets the action in the seedy carnival that was Coney Island in the 1950s. Amanda Majeski, Serena Malfi, Ben Bliss and Adam Plachetka are the young lovers, with Christopher Maltman and the Broadway star Kelli O’Hara (game in the Met’s “The Merry Widow” a few years ago) setting the plot in motion. Opens March 15; metopera.org.

JENNIFER KOH One of our most probing artists, and a keen collaborator, presents “Limitless: On Stage Together,” two programs at National Sawdust of works commissioned by (and some performed in duo with) an enviable slate of composers: Zosha di Castri, Missy Mazzoli, Qasim Naqvi, Lu Wang, Lisa Bielawa, Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey, Nina Young and Du Yun. March 15, 31; nationalsawdust.org.

ALARM WILL SOUND An intriguing notion: This intrepid ensemble says that this program at Zankel Hall, a journey through the dramatic life and work of Gyorgy Ligeti, will blend music and recorded sounds into “a concert that resembles a live podcast.” March 16; carnegiehall.org.

‘RINALDO’ Harry Bicket, leading the latest installment in what has happily become an annual series of Handel operas in concert at Carnegie Hall with his English Concert ensemble, fields a superb cast in this exquisite score: Iestyn Davies, Jane Archibald, Joélle Harvey, Luca Pisaroni, Sasha Cooke and Jakub Józef Orliński. March 25; carnegiehall.org.

BAVARIAN STATE ORCHESTRA New York will get to take the measure of Kirill Petrenko, the next conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, when he brings this ensemble, the exceptional house band of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, to Carnegie Hall. Sure, go to the first night for Brahms’s Double Concerto (with Julia Fischer and Daniel Müller-Schott) and Tchaikovsky’s “Manfred” Symphony. But don’t miss the next: a concert performance of Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier,” starring Adrianne Pieczonka, Angela Brower, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller and Peter Rose. March 28-29; carnegiehall.org.

‘BECOME DESERT’ John Luther Adams’s patiently surging “Become Ocean,” from 2013, was both beautiful and ominous, a grandly eerie glimpse at our ecological future. It won a Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy Award, and spurred a $50,000 donation from Taylor Swift to the orchestra that commissioned it, the Seattle Symphony. That ensemble and its music director, Ludovic Morlot, now present the sequel. March 29, 31; seattlesymphony.org.

April

AMERICAN COMPOSERS ORCHESTRA This crucial contemporary-music ensemble’s 40th-anniversary season includes “Dreamscapes,” a concert at Zankel Hall that features the premiere of “Concerto to Scale,” by and for the outstanding jazz pianist Ethan Iverson; and Steve Lehman’s “Ten Threshold Studies,” alongside works by Clarice Assad, T J Anderson and Hitomi Oba. April 6; americancomposers.org.

SHIFT: FESTIVAL OF AMERICAN ORCHESTRAS After a successful inaugural run, this showcase for ensembles thinking outside the box — modeled on the Spring for Music festival at Carnegie Hall a few years ago — returns to the Kennedy Center in Washington. This time the featured orchestras, presenting both concerts and community events, will be the Fort Worth, Albany and Indianapolis symphonies, as well as Washington’s own National Symphony Orchestra. April 9-15; washingtonperformingarts.org.

BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA After he canceled on the Met’s new “Tosca,” it became clear that Jonas Kaufmann’s opera engagements in New York might well be attenuated in coming years by family obligations. That ups the ante on his appearance with this pristine ensemble at Carnegie Hall in the lovelorn second act of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde,” a work he has not yet sung onstage, with the soprano Camilla Nylund and the conductor Andris Nelsons. The Bostonians and Mr. Nelsons play Bernstein, Shostakovich, Mozart, Strauss and Jörg Widmann in their other two programs at Carnegie (where Mr. Kaufmann will have appeared in recital in January). April 11-13; carnegiehall.org.

‘CENDRILLON’ Massenet’s plush take on the Cinderella fairy tale has long been a star vehicle for the silky-voiced mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. She brings the work to the Met for the first time in Laurent Pelly’s charming, much-traveled production, with Bertrand de Billy conducting and a cast that also includes Alice Coote, Kathleen Kim and Stephanie Blythe. (A far rarer “Cendrillon” will have already hit the city in December, when the Manhattan School of Music gives what may be the American premiere of Nicolas Isouard’s 1810 version.) Opens April 12; metopera.org.

‘HIPPOLYTE ET ARICIE’ The vast resources of the Juilliard School’s historical-performance program have had a transformative effect on the early-music scene in New York. The school’s Juilliard415 ensemble collaborates with singers and dancers from the school in this Rameau opera, one of the French Baroque masterpieces heard too rarely here. Stephen Stubbs conducts; Stephen Wadsworth directs. April 17, 19, 21; juilliard.edu.

JULIA BULLOCK A deeply communicative singer in a range of styles, this young soprano unites classic lieder and a set of jazz and blues songs at Weill Recital Hall, joined by the pianist John Arida. April 20; carnegiehall.org.

LAWRENCE BROWNLEE This tenor, who spins out bel canto lines with controlled eloquence (and has a cameo as the Italian Tenor when the Bavarian State Orchestra performs “Der Rosenkavalier” in March), takes the night off from opera for a recital at Zankel Hall with the pianist Myra Huang, featuring a new work by Tyshawn Sorey and Schumann’s “Dichterliebe.” April 24; carnegiehall.org.

LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC Those who can’t make it out to California for this ensemble’s sensational season at Walt Disney Concert Hall will have to settle for this pair of programs at David Geffen Hall, led by Gustavo Dudamel and featuring a new work by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Edgard Varèse’s “Amériques,” Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” and two symphonies: Shostakovich’s Fifth and Beethoven’s Ninth. April 27, 29; lcgreatperformers.org.

May

GERALD FINLEY An artist of palpable intelligence and feeling, this baritone has been memorable at the Met in recent years as Stravinsky’s Nick Shadow and Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, and adds Athanaël in Massenet’s “Thaïs,” alongside Ailyn Pérez, in November. For a recital at Alice Tully Hall with the sensitive pianist Julius Drake, he ties a set of folk songs to a program of Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. May 2; lcgreatperformers.org.

LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA A few months after the Cleveland Orchestra brings Mahler’s Ninth Symphony to New York, this extroverted ensemble repeats it at David Geffen Hall under Simon Rattle, alongside its composer’s two other final masterpieces: “Das Lied von der Erde” (with Christian Gerhaher and Stuart Skelton) and the completed version of the Symphony No. 10. May 4, 6, 7; lcgreatperformers.org.

SOL GABETTA A cellist of style and focus, Ms. Gabetta appears at Alice Tully Hall with the pianist Bertrand Chamayou in a program of sonatas by Beethoven, Britten and Chopin. May 12; lcgreatperformers.org.

CHIARA STRING QUARTET Disbanding after 18 years so that its members can pursue their own projects, this adventurous group will play the New York premiere of a new piano quintet (with the pianist Paul Barnes) by Philip Glass at its last performance in the city. The program, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, also includes works by Beethoven and Nico Muhly. May 12; metmuseum.org.

YUJA WANG Fiery and clever, this pianist had not yet announced her Carnegie Hall recital program when these listings went to press. But no matter the repertory, even if she’s not always successful, she’s always interesting. May 17; carnegiehall.org.

MET ORCHESTRA Returning for its customary post-opera-season stand at Carnegie Hall, this ensemble, buffed by James Levine over decades, will be led by Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla (in Debussy, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky); Gianandrea Noseda (Mozart and Mahler); and Mr. Levine (Mozart, Mahler and the premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s “Eros and Nemesis”). May 18, 30, June 5; carnegiehall.org.

FREIBURG BAROQUE ORCHESTRA One of Europe’s finest early-music ensembles arrives at Alice Tully Hall with its new director, the excellent, understated keyboardist Kristian Bezuidenhout, who will lead two Mozart concerts from the fortepiano, as well as symphonies by Haydn and Johann Christian Bach. May 19; lcgreatperformers.org.

‘BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN’ New York City Opera commissioned this Wuorinen opera more than a decade ago, but the company went bankrupt and closed before it could give the premiere. (The opera ended up opening in 2014 in Madrid.) The revived City Opera will now finally present the thornily noble piece at the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center, as the culmination of a season that also includes Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West”; a mariachi opera, José Martinez’s “Cruzar la Cara de la Luna”; and Montemezzi’s “L’Amore dei Tre Re.” Opens May 31; nycopera.com.

Fri, September 1, 2017

The Gemlike Music of Webern
BestTours.com

“This is a song for you alone”: such is the invitational opening line of the first of five songs set to Stefan George poems (Op. 3) by Anton Webern (1883-1945). It’s one of thirty-one works in which the Austrian composer distilled his musical inheritance—an odd combination of post-Wagnerian Romanticism and medieval polyphony—into a bracing new style of crystalline compression that exerted a towering influence over modern composition after the Second World War. That influence has since waned, but this is no deterrent to the conductor Julian Wachner, whose annual “Time’s Arrow” festival, at Trinity Church Wall Street, is mounting a two-season traversal of Webern’s complete works. It begins with three days of concerts (Sept. 12-14) featuring the superb Choir of Trinity Wall Street and its associated new-music ensemble, NOVUS NY.

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The Gemlike Music of Webern 

“This is a song for you alone”: such is the invitational opening line of the first of five songs set to Stefan George poems (Op. 3) by Anton Webern (1883-1945). It’s one of thirty-one works in which the Austrian composer distilled his musical inheritance—an odd combination of post-Wagnerian Romanticism and medieval polyphony—into a bracing new style of crystalline compression that exerted a towering influence over modern composition after the Second World War. That influence has since waned, but this is no deterrent to the conductor Julian Wachner, whose annual “Time’s Arrow” festival, at Trinity Church Wall Street, is mounting a two-season traversal of Webern’s complete works. It begins with three days of concerts (Sept. 12-14) featuring the superb Choir of Trinity Wall Street and its associated new-music ensemble, NOVUS NY.

If the idea of Webern’s “complete works” sounds daunting, it’s not a matter of duration: even those who know little of Webern’s compositions are aware that most of them are extremely short, haikulike in their gnomic concentration. It is, rather, in the style of the music that the gauntlet is thrown down, for both performers and audience. The melodic lines are jagged and disjunct, the language is proudly atonal, and the textures can take canonic counterpoint to a fetishistic extreme. The series of small-scale vocal works (Opp. 12-18) in which Webern gradually adapted the strict system of twelve-tone technique that he virtually co-invented with his revered teacher, Arnold Schoenberg—all of which are included in Wachner’s first batch of concerts—reach a dizzying height of abstraction. These gleaming compositions fulfill the high-modernist beau ideal; they exist for themselves alone.

And yet there are many pieces that, within their rigorous confines, yearn for intimacy. Gestures of gentleness and warmth keep breaking into works like the First Cantata, with texts by the poet Hildegard Jone, who shared with Webern, an alpine enthusiast, an intense love for nature at its most pure; carefully chosen timbres of strings and percussion with solo brass and woodwinds caress as often as they collide. The Symphony has an Apollonian benevolence worthy of Satie; the Concerto for Nine Instruments and the Variations for Orchestra have drama and excitement to spare. Wachner’s concerts, which also feature works by such Webern-loving kindred spirits as Sebastian Currier and Sofia Gubaidulina, will be difficult to ignore. 

Thu, August 31, 2017

REV. 23 premiere: new opera from Julian Wachner & Cerise Jacobs, the sequel to Revelations
In Tune

On September 29, a new opera from Cerise Jacobs and Julian Wachner, Rev. 23, premieres at Boston’s John Hancock Theater. The premiere kicks off the Boston New Music Festival and features White Snake Projects production company, who shares new, relevant opera based on the stories of Cerise Jacobs. Rev. 23 will be available soon from E.C. Schirmer.

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REV. 23 premiere: new opera from Julian Wachner & Cerise Jacobs, the sequel to Revelations

AUGUST 31, 2017

On September 29, a new opera from Cerise Jacobs and Julian Wachner, Rev. 23, premieres at Boston’s John Hancock Theater. The premiere kicks off the Boston New Music Festivaland features White Snake Projects production company, who shares new, relevant opera based on the stories of Cerise Jacobs. Rev. 23 will be available soon from E. C. Schirmer.

Plot
Rev. 23 is the sequel to the Book of Revelations. It is told from the perspective of St. John the Divine and “transcribed” by Cerise Lim Jacobs. The opera narrates the last battle to recapture Paradise-on-Earth and restore the balance of good and evil to our world. Persephone, the only being able to pass freely between Hell and Earth, is recruited by Lucifer in the fight against the rulers of Paradise-on-Earth. No one is exempt from this battle. The opera transcends the Biblical narrative, and pulls characters from mythology and Chinese history.

Librettist/Creator
Cerise Lim Jacobs has earned a place as one of the most creative and imaginative thinkers of our time. Born in Singapore, Jacobs eventually moved to Massachussetts where she worked as a trial partner at one of New England’s largest law firms, practicing law for more than two decades. Three years into her retirement, a song cycle written for her husband turned into her first, full-length opera Madame White Snake. The music by Zhou Long won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011.

Jacobs writes, “I dreamed up REV. 23 one day as I was thinking of where I would meet my husband Charles again since he passed from this world. It amused me that my incorrigible, irascible and impossible husband wouldn’t be caught dead (pardon the pun) in Paradise (not that he’d be entirely welcome there) as some of the most interesting people seem to be consigned to that other place. This led to more musing about what Heaven was like and concomitantly, what that other place was like.

I was aided in these musings by the fact that I was a Singaporean Methodist, a product of an American Methodist Missionary school and deeply steeped in biblical lore. So I turned, naturally, to the most detailed account of Paradise-on-Earth familiar to me, the divine visions of John of Patmos, author of the Book of Revelation.

Poring over the Book of Revelation over and over again (it’s a very short book), I couldn’t shake away the sense of unease that grew stronger with each read, that perhaps I wouldn’t be perfectly happy in a place of perfect happiness. As I began to explore why I felt uneasy, the framework for Rev. 23, the final chapter of the Book of Revelation, began to take shape.”

Composer

Julian Wachner, Grammy-nominated composer, is one of North America’s most exciting and versatile musicians, sought after as composer, conductor, educator and keyboard artist. He is currently Director of Music and Arts at Trinity Wall Street and Music Director of the Grammy award winning Washington Chorus.

With over 80 works in his catalog, Wachner’s music has been variously described as “jazzy, energetic, and ingenious” (Boston Globe), having “splendor, dignity, outstanding tone combinations, sophisticated chromatic exploration…a rich backdrop, wavering between a glimmer and a tingle…” (La Scena Musicale), being “a compendium of surprises” (Washington Post), and as “bold and atmospheric”, having “an imaginative flair for allusive text setting” and noted for “the silken complexities of his harmonies” (New York Times.) The American Record Guide noted that “Wachner is both an unapologetic modernist and an open-minded eclectic – his music has something to say.” In 2010, He made New York City Opera history when he was selected as both conductor and composer at the company’s annual VOX festival of contemporary opera leading to the invitation to be the sole conductor of this Festival in 2012.

Thu, August 31, 2017

Classical Notes: A New Recording of “Threni” and Ted Hearne’s “Sound from the Bench”
The New Yorker

But “Threni” benefits from Herreweghe’s heightened sense of beauty, magnifying the way Stravinsky used his idiosyncratic twelve-tone technique—shaped by the work of two deceased contemporaries, Schoenberg and Webern—to insert daubs of ravishing tonal harmony (chanted intermittently by the chorus, in the letters of the Hebrew alphabet) within a larger canvas of dissonant counterpoint (the prophet’s yearning words of condemnation and forgiveness), emerging like flowers from cracks in a concrete surface. The piece will never join the general repertory, but it will never go away. Julian Wachner’s committed live performance of the piece with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, in 2013, proved that it can always impress an audience.

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Culture Desk

Classical Notes: A New Recording of “Threni” and Ted Hearne’s “Sound from the Bench”

By Russell Platt

August 31, 2017

On “Sound from the Bench,” Ted Hearne, a composer with a passion for social justice, offers fierce and timely pieces.

When Igor Stravinsky wrote “Threni,” a musical setting of the Lamentations of Jeremiah for chorus, orchestra, and vocal soloists, in 1957-58, the United States was a confident place: abundantly prosperous at home while holding the line against Communism abroad. Los Angeles, where the composer was living, would have been a secure base from which to explore ancient truths—Judeo-Christian religiosity, the mysteries of Renaissance counterpoint—and to throw them as a lance into the future. Something of this serenity can be sensed in a new recording (on the PHI label) of “Threni,” along with the composer’s “Requiem Canticles” and two smaller sacred works, by the Collegium Vocale Gent and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic; they are led by Philippe Herreweghe, a veteran conductor who largely made his name by conducting the kind of music that Stravinsky, in this late stage of his career, was drawing deeply from.

When conducting music of the modern era, Herreweghe’s signature style is still intact. He does on the podium what Khnopff or van Rysselberghe did with the easel: in the manner of a good Belgian Symbolist painter, he clarifies intricate textures while bathing them in a luminous sheen. Those who know the original recording, on Columbia, of “Threni,” made by some expert and very hardworking musicians under Stravinsky’s not always elegant baton, will be amazed by the sheer beauty of this new album; those who love Oliver Knussen’s recording of “Requiem Canticles,” on Deutsche Grammophon, might miss Knussen’s keen balancing of contrasting timbres and his more urgent sense of drama. But “Threni” benefits from Herreweghe’s heightened sense of beauty, magnifying the way Stravinsky used his idiosyncratic twelve-tone technique—shaped by the work of two deceased contemporaries, Schoenberg and Webern—to insert daubs of ravishing tonal harmony (chanted intermittently by the chorus, in the letters of the Hebrew alphabet) within a larger canvas of dissonant counterpoint (the prophet’s yearning words of condemnation and forgiveness), emerging like flowers from cracks in a concrete surface. The piece will never join the general repertory, but it will never go away. Julian Wachner’s committed live performance of the piece with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, in 2013, proved that it can always impress an audience.

Today, Ted Hearne, one of the brightest compositional talents of the millennial generation, makes his home in Los Angeles, where he teaches at the University of Southern California. Hearne can write postmodern instrumental works to an international standard, but he has made his reputation with music involving voices—most notably “Katrina Ballads,” a blues-and-rock-drenched oratorio that made blunt yet brilliant use of texts from news reports and interviews documenting the George W. Bush Administration’s shambolic bungling of the humanitarian crisis that came with the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, in 2005.

Hearne is at one with his American generation’s passion for social justice, a movement which—aside from the eternal vigilance of the black church—no longer seems to need religion for its fire or foundation. But choral music, over the centuries, has been a primarily religious idiom, and Hearne’s pieces burn with an ecclesiastical fervor. “Sound from the Bench”—which gives Hearne’s new album, on Cantaloupe, its title—and the other works collected here deal with several manifestations of modern oppression: economic, sexual, corporate (the travesty of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision), and military (a lethal incident of confusion in the Iraq War, laid out in a text gleaned from a WikiLeaks release).

Hearne’s music, like that of most of his contemporaries, leaves the complexity of counterpoint, in which Stravinsky revelled, behind, but the chanting simultaneities of Hearne’s writing are enriched by clashes of style and texture. These qualities are enhanced by Hearne’s unerring performers, the superb Philadelphia choir the Crossing, directed by Donald Nally. In “Consent,” words taken from Catholic and Jewish wedding ceremonies are mixed with fragments of Hearne’s own love letters, and text messages (written by high-school students) that were used as evidence in the Steubenville rape trial; in a movement from “Sound from the Bench,” the disk’s most ambitious work, soaring lines of choral ecstasy coexist with a klaxon-like electric guitar. (In another movement, Hearne saucily summons the presence of an L.A. goddess, Joni Mitchell.) In each case, Hearne’s varied harmonies, propulsive drive, and savvy timing carry the day. The album’s final selection, “Privilege,” has its stodgy spaces: Hearne is not always his own best librettist. But the work’s powerful finale, “We Cannot Leave,” its words taken from a Xhosa anti-apartheid song, melts away in a heartrending cloud of softly dissonant tones. From the timeless echoes of injustice, Hearne has forged a fierce and timely grace.

Mon, August 28, 2017

Fall Classical-Music Preview
The New Yorker

The crystalline music of Anton Webern, the most controversial of the three great composers of the Second Viennese School, is often ignored. Leave it to the adventurous conductor Julian Wachner to take up the cause, leading the musical forces of Trinity Church Wall Street in the first phase (Sept. 12-14) of a two-season retrospective of Webern’s complete works. Wachner’s superb Choir of Trinity Wall Street plays an important role in “The Psalms Experience,” a sequence of twelve concerts (Nov. 2-11), presented by Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, which highlights the spiritual expressions of composers from the medieval era to the present day.

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Fall Classical-Music Preview
Centenary celebrations for Leonard Bernstein, and the White Light Festival, which highlights the spiritual expressions of composers.

By Russell Platt

In a fall season bustling with innovation, musical titans of the past cast looming shadows. Most familiar to New Yorkers will be that of Leonard Bernstein, for whom centenary celebrations will begin this year. During Bernstein’s lifetime, the sheer force of his powers as a conductor, an educator, and a media personality outshone his music, but, as time passes, it is his music we treasure most. Carnegie Hall’s opening-night concert (Oct. 4), an evening with the Philadelphia Orchestra and its music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, features the Symphonic Suite from the film “On the Waterfront” and the Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story.” Lenny’s old band, the New York Philharmonic, will go deeper, offering a survey of Bernstein’s three symphonies in a trio of programs (Oct. 25-Nov. 14) conducted by Alan Gilbert and Leonard Slatkin. Even the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center takes part, presenting the composer’s uninhibited late song cycle “Arias and Barcarolles” (Oct. 29).

The crystalline music of Anton Webern, the most controversial of the three great composers of the Second Viennese School, is often ignored. Leave it to the adventurous conductor Julian Wachner to take up the cause, leading the musical forces of Trinity Church Wall Street in the first phase (Sept. 12-14) of a two-season retrospective of Webern’s complete works. Wachner’s superb Choir of Trinity Wall Street plays an important role in “The Psalms Experience,” a sequence of twelve concerts (Nov. 2-11), presented by Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, which highlights the spiritual expressions of composers from the medieval era to the present day. But the reigning deity of White Light will be Claudio Monteverdi, whose three extant operas will be presented, in matchless style, by the conductor John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists (Oct. 18-21).

The Metropolitan Opera’s opening-night production will be a new staging (by David McVicar) of Bellini’s “Norma,” featuring two of the company’s power divas, Sondra Radvanovsky and Joyce DiDonato (Sept. 25-Dec. 16). But the Met will also innovate, presenting the American première of Thomas Adès’s “The Exterminating Angel,” a work based on the 1962 film by Luis Buñuel (Oct. 26-Nov. 21). New York City Opera strikes a similar balance, opening its season with Puccini’s “La Fanciulla del West” (Sept. 6-12) but also presenting chamber operas by Tobias Picker and Dominick Argento. bam, as ever, champions the new: its fall season includes the New York première of the composer-conductor Matthew Aucoin’s opera about Walt Whitman, “Crossing” (Oct. 3-8), and “Road Trip,” a burst of fresh material from the composers of Bang on a Can which celebrates the collective’s thirtieth anniversary (Oct. 27-28). 

Thu, August 24, 2017

Critic’s Choice for the 2017-18 season
New York Classical Review

Trinity Wall Street’s music director Julian Wachner has a notably ambitious season planned, and it begins with this three-day, six-concert exploration of Anton Webern, his music and its antecedents and descendants. This year (nine concerts will follow in 2018) presents much of Webern’s vocal music, and instrumental works that include the Five Pieces for Orchestra Op. 10, and the Op. 30 Variations. Intriguing context will come via Ockeghem, Tallis, Stockhausen, Sebastian Currier, Kati Agócs, and others old and new.

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Critic’s Choice for the 2017-18 season

Thu Aug 24, 2017 at 11:23 am
By George Grella and Eric C. Simpson

Time’s Arrow festival. September 12-14 at Trinity Wall Street.

Trinity Wall Street’s music director Julian Wachner has a notably ambitious season planned, and it begins with this three-day, six-concert exploration of Anton Webern, his music and its antecedents and descendants. This year (nine concerts will follow in 2018) presents much of Webern’s vocal music, and instrumental works that include the Five Pieces for Orchestra Op. 10, and the Op. 30 Variations. Intriguing context will come via Ockeghem, Tallis, Stockhausen, Sebastian Currier, Kati Agócs, and others old and new. trinitywallstreet.org (GG)

Pierre Boulez’ Répons. October 6-7 at the Park Avenue Armory.

One of Boulez’ most creatively adventurous compositions, Répons can be heard on recordings, and occasionally in halls, but only rarely as it was designed and created–in a multi-dimensional aural space. The Park Avenue Armory is the ideal venue for spatial music, and these performances will realize the composer’s vision, with the audience surrounding Ensemble Intercontemporain and conductor Matthias Pintscher. armoryonpark.org (GG)

“Monteverdi: The Birth of Opera.” October 18-21 at Lincoln Center.

For all practical purposes, Claudio Monteverdi is the first opera composer and among the greatest, though productions of his works are frustratingly infrequent. Into that gap comes John Eliot Gardiner, the English Baroque Soloists, and the Monteverdi Choir, who will deliver semi-staged performances of Orfeo, The Return of Ulysses, and The Coronation of Poppea. This is to celebrate the composer’s 450th anniversary, and appears to be the first such event in New York since BAM’s “Full Monte” in 2002—a true must-see series. lincolncenter.org (GG)

JACK Quartet: Soundscape America. October 19 & 21 at Miller Theatre.

A great American string quartet playing great American String Quartets. Across these two nights JACK has curated a program of classic old and new pieces, many difficult to hear in concert or even find on recordings. There will be John Zorn’s thrilling Necronomicon and music from the last few years by Cenk Ergün, Natacha Diels, and others. There will also be Carter’s String Quartet No. 2, Feldman’s Structures, and (if one can pick only one of the concerts) String Quartet No. 8 from the important Gloria Coates and Ruth Crawford Seeger’s extraordinary String Quartet, both on the 21st. millertheatre.com (GG)

Wagner’s Parsifal. February 5-27, 2018 at the Metropolitan Opera.

Parsifal as an opera needs little introduction: Wagner’s last opera is arguably the greatest example of his ideal of Gestamtkunstwerk, the complete work of art; through its combination of text, theater, and sublime music it keeps audiences in its spell for six timeless hours.

The Metropolitan Opera in February will revive the acclaimed François Girard production that premiered in 2013, with a strong cast that features Klaus Florian Vogt in the title role, Peter Mattei as Amfortas, Evelyn Herlitzius as Kundry, Evgeny Nikitin as Klingsor, and René Pape as Gurnemanz. The company’s music director elect, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, will lead the epic work, following up on his well-received Wagnerian debut in Der Fliegende Holländer last season. metopera.org (ES)

Matthias Goerne and Daniil Trifonov. February 6 at Carnegie Hall.

A recital with either Matthias Goerne or Daniil Trifonov would be a major event: to get the two together is an embarrassment of riches. The pair will perform Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Brahms’s Four Last Songs, plus songs by Berg, Wolf, and Shostakovich. carnegiehall.org(ES)

“Schubert: Epic and Intimate.” February 16-June 8 at the 92nd Street Y.

Neither 220 years since his birth nor 190 years since his death seems like platinum anniversary, yet Schubert cycles and mini-festivals are popping up everywhere this season. That’s not a complaint: drink in as much of the master as you can. The 92nd Street Y gets in on the act this spring with a 5-concert series, “Schubert: Epic and Intimate,” featuring a Winterreise with Christoph Prégardien and Julius Drake, three recitals of the late piano sonatas with Shai Wosner, and a program of part songs with New York Polyphony. 92y.org (ES)

Brahms trios with Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos and Yo-Yo Ma. February 22 at Carnegie Hall. 

Brahms’s three piano trios are among the most treasured items in the chamber music repertoire, and they offer a sort-of snapshot of the composer’s career, written in 1854, 1880, and 1883, respectively (the wise master returned to the first in 1889 to for revisions). We hear in these three the ardor of young Brahms and the brilliant technique of the elder statesman. Presenting all three in concert this February will be three of today’s leading instrumentalists: Emanuel Ax, Leonidas Kavakos, and Yo-Yo Ma. carnegiehall.org (ES)

Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier performed by the Bayerische Staatsoper. March 29 at Carnegie Hall.

New York just had a new Rosenkavalier last year, in a stunning set of performances at the Met, and we’re about to get another. This spring, the Bavarian State Opera comes to Carnegie Hall for a concert performance of Strauss’s romantic masterpiece. Adrianne Pieczonka leads the cast as the Marschallin, with Angela Brower as Octavian, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller as Sophie, and Peter Rose as Baron Ochs. Kirill Petrenko conducts. carnegiehall.org (ES)

Daniil Trifonov. May 4 at Carnegie Hall.

Daniil Trifonov’s performing career already hints that he will take his place among the all-time great pianists. The main thing missing has been time in which to hear his thinking and playing across the large-scale repertoire. His Perspectives Series at Carnegie Hall will have him exploring new territory, most acutely in this concert where he will survey the 20th century with music from each decade, from Alban Berg’s Piano Sonata, Op. 1, to Traces Overhead by Thomas Adès, with intriguing visits with Copland, Ligeti, Stockhausen, John Adams, and more. carnegiehall.org (GG)

Fri, August 18, 2017

Choral Featured Album: ‘The Hubble Cantata’
Minnesota Public Radio

For this week’s Choral Featured Album, we present “The Hubble Cantata.” Set against the backdrop of space, the cantata takes the listener on a journey through the cosmos and explores themes of life and loss. The collaborative work of composer Paola Prestini and librettist Royce Vavrek, the cantata is brought to life in this recording by over 100 performers from the Washington Chorus, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and the contemporary music ensemble Novus NY [directed by Julian Wachner].

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Choral Featured Album: 'The Hubble Cantata'

Classical Music FeaturesSeiji Cataldo · St. Paul, Minn. · Aug 18, 2017

Hear selections from new releases with our weekly Choral Featured Album every Friday at 11 a.m. central on the Choral Stream.

For this week's Choral Featured Album, we present "The Hubble Cantata." Set against the backdrop of space, the cantata takes the listener on a journey through the cosmos and explores themes of life and loss. The collaborative work of composer Paola Prestini and librettist Royce Vavrek, the cantata is brought to life in this recording by over 100 performers from the Washington Chorus, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, and the contemporary music ensemble Novus NY.

Fri, August 18, 2017

America’s Quintessential Maverick Composer, at 100
The New York Times

When Trinity Wall Street [Julian Wachner, Director of Music and the Arts] presented a Harrison centennial concert in April featuring a chorus and percussion ensemble from Rutgers University performing “La Koro Sutro,” I was knocked out by the music’s sheer inventiveness: the allure of its component parts; the instrumental colorings; the intricate choral writing that shifts from stretches of elegiac melodic lines sung in unison to intense passages where choristers alternate phrases antiphonally.

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America’s Quintessential Maverick Composer, at 100

By ANTHONY TOMMASINIAUG. 18, 2017

Many of the musical and philosophical characteristics that defined Lou Harrison, who would have turned 100 this year, as a quintessential American maverick composer come through in “La Koro Sutro” (“The Heart Sutra”).

Harrison’s early fascination with Eastern spiritual thought and culture culminated in pieces like this 1971 choral work. The text is one of the most beloved Buddhist scriptures, describing the pathway to attaining nirvana.

He purposefully chose a version of the sutra that had been translated into Esperanto, a synthetic language created in the late 1880s in an attempt to facilitate universal communication. This ideal appealed deeply to Harrison, a pacifist with an embracing view of diverse cultures and a pioneer in the gay rights movement, who died in 2003.

“La Koro Sutro” is ambitious and large-scale, lasting nearly 30 minutes, yet somehow personal and modest, too, with a kind of innately American directness. The musical language is steeped in Asian elements, ancient modes, pentatonic scales, chantlike choral writing and systems of “just” (what Harrison considered the more natural) tuning, rather than the tempered intonation common to Western music for centuries.

The chorus is accompanied by what Harrison called an American gamelan, his attempt to replicate the Indonesian gamelan orchestra (the “most sensually beautiful musical ensemble on the planet,” as he described it) by assembling all manner of percussion instruments invented by him and William Colvig, his partner in life and work. During the early 1940s, when many American composers were exploring the latest developments of Modernism or writing in a Neo-Classical style, Harrison and his fellow maverick John Cage were presenting all-percussion concerts, often using instruments fashioned from materials they rescued from junkyards.

When Trinity Wall Street presented a Harrison centennial concert in April featuring a chorus and percussion ensemble from Rutgers University performing “La Koro Sutro,” I was knocked out by the music’s sheer inventiveness: the allure of its component parts; the instrumental colorings; the intricate choral writing that shifts from stretches of elegiac melodic lines sung in unison to intense passages where choristers alternate phrases antiphonally.

The technical command alone in the score reveals that this American maverick was also an American master. There are certainly positive aspects to the maverick label, which suggests a composer of flinty individuality unbound by protocols and conventions. Indeed, a comprehensive and engrossing new biography of Harrison by Bill Alves and Brett Campbell is subtitled “American Musical Maverick.”

Still, there’s a trace of condescension in relegating Harrison (along with Cage, Henry Cowell, Harry Partch and other iconoclasts) to the maverick category. The subtitle of a 1998 Harrison biography by Leta E. Miller and Fredric Lieberman, also excellent, better encapsulates the goals of his life and work: “Composing a World.”

The Trinity concert included Harrison’s mesmerizing Suite for Violin with American Gamelan (1974), another revelation. Then there was the unabashedly eclectic Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra (1973). How can this exhilarating concerto not be played all the time? The organist sometimes uses a small wood bar to depress blocks of keys to produce punchy cluster chords, surrounded by bursts of chimes, gongs and mallet percussion. The slow second movement, a Siciliana in the form of a double canon, unfolds in skillfully written counterpoint. Yet the lines creep up and down and overlap with impish freedom.

Performing that concerto requires assembling a battery of percussion, including some exotic instruments, which may account for its rarity in performance. But what explains the neglect of, say, Harrison’s 1988 Grand Duo for violin and piano? This 35-minute suite is infused with the sound world of the gamelan, but scored traditionally (though the pianist also uses a padded bar for clusters). The aptly named Stampede movement races along like some combination of Asian dance and American hoedown.

A rhapsodic Air begins with an ominous piano solo, thickly chromatic and dissonant, roiled by heaving outbursts. Soon, the violin spins out a pensive, restless solo line that keeps taking surprise turns, yet somehow sounds inevitable.

The duo ends with a deceptively jaunty Polka, at once giddy and a little dangerous.

Harrison’s gravitation toward things Eastern started early. He grew up in a house in Portland, Ore., reflecting the taste of his mother and decorated with Japanese lanterns, Persian rugs and artifacts from Asia. He remembered Hawaiian music playing all the time on the radio, that “sliding, waving thing,” as he later described it to Mr. Campbell.

On moving to San Francisco in 1934, he took lessons with Cowell, who become a crucial mentor, and attended productions of Chinese opera. He also worked as accompanist to dancer-choreographers including Bonnie Bird and Lester Horton, often using percussion instruments. The Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939 proved a revelation: It was his first time hearing gamelan music live, an ensemble from Bali.

In 1943, he studied with Arnold Schoenberg in Los Angeles. Seeking lessons from this imposing composer, who had devised the 12-tone technique, might have seemed a mismatch. But Harrison was fascinated by 12-tone music, with its systematic ordering of all 12 notes of the chromatic scale into tone rows. The “Air” from “Rapunzel,” Harrison’s 1952 opera in six short scenes, intriguingly blends Cowell-like clusters with jagged Schoenbergian writing for voice. Performed in 1954 by the young Leontyne Price at a contemporary music conference in Rome, the piece won a 20th-century masterpiece award, conferred by Stravinsky.

After working with Schoenberg, Harrison followed Horton and his dance troupe to New York. He was soon tapped by Virgil Thomson, the influential music critic of The New York Herald Tribune, to join a roster of fellow composer-reviewers, including (briefly) Cage. (Thomson simply thought composers knew the most about music.) Harrison was initially wary, since he had a spotty knowledge of the standard repertory. To Thomson, this was an advantage that would give Harrison’s takes on core works some freshness. And he admired Harrison’s deep knowledge of non-Western music.

It was from attending concerts as a critic that Harrison really learned the classical repertory. “I was terribly happy,” he said, “when I could review [Beethoven’s] ‘Waldstein’ Sonata as though I’d heard it more than once.”

Harrison’s vivid reviews hold up well today. Artur Schnabel’s serene approach to the slow movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D minor suggested, to Harrison, “a classically cultured Chinese gentleman” sitting down “to convey to those attentive a few choicely turned phrases of counsel and reflection.” In a rave review, he described a new piano concerto by Alan Hovhaness as modern in its “elegant simplicity and adamant modal integrity,” adding that the brilliance and excitement of the piano part were “due entirely to vigor of idea.”

Harrison remained grateful for Thomson’s support during a period of mental instability. Once, in 1947, Harrison went to work feeling shaky. Thomson gave him a talking-to about guardian angels. There aren’t enough to go around, he said. So one of Harrison’s angels must be off caring for someone else. For now, Thomson said, “you must sit quietly” and not panic. Completely credulous, Harrison asked if there were some people without any guardian angels.

“Yes,” Thomson said emphatically, “but you are not one of them.” Harrison left, carried by thoughts of comforting angels. But in time he had a breakdown that required hospitalization.

This episode confirmed Harrison’s growing feeling that New York was not his place. He returned to California in 1953. In 1991, while working on a biography of Thomson, I went to interview Harrison at the home he shared with Colvig in Aptos, near Santa Cruz. Wall hangings and small statues from Asia and the Middle East were everywhere, along with shelves stuffed with books and stacks of scores. In one large room, Colvig, with help from Harrison, designed, built and maintained instruments.

Though he wasn’t prone to complaining, one sore spot for Harrison was the neglect over decades from his hometown orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony. This situation changed completely when Michael Tilson Thomas became the ensemble’s music director in 1995. The first piece on Mr. Thomas’s first program was a Harrison commission, “A Parade for MTT,” scored for the largest orchestra of any Harrison work, including six percussionists, Javanese gongs and the Davies Hall organ.

In its evocation of exuberant parades and bustling crowds, the piece paid homage to a hero of Harrison’s youth, Charles Ives. Harrison was a pivotal Ives advocate who conducted the premiere of the composer’s then-unknown Third Symphony in 1946, a score he had edited from manuscripts.

When Colvig died in 2000, after they spent 35 years together, Harrison built a dream house the couple had long contemplated, a winter retreat in the California desert, near Joshua Tree National Park. Today, the Harrison House provides a residency program for artists and thinkers — an ideal way to honor an all-embracing creator.

Mon, August 7, 2017

Snow Lay on the Ground receives rave reviews
ECS In Tune

Julian Wachner and the Grammy-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, The Trinity Youth Chorus, and the NOVUS NY orchestra collaborated to create The Snow Lay on the Ground (CD 180). A stunning recording of nine brilliant carol settings and three organ improvisations performed by Wachner, the album continues to garner widespread enthusiasm from critics.

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Julian Wachner and the Grammy-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, The Trinity Youth Chorus, and the NOVUS NY orchestra collaborated to create The Snow Lay on the Ground (CD 180). A stunning recording of nine brilliant carol settings and three organ improvisations performed by Wachner, the album continues to garner widespread enthusiasm from critics.

“Julian Wachner continues to do fantastic work with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, as their atmospherically recorded The Snow Lay on the Ground: Festive Carols from Trinity Wall Street (Arsis) shows. Together with the Trinity Youth Chorus and Novus NY, these renditions of Wachner ‘s arrangements, along with his four unedited, first-take organ improvisations, score a 10. Dynamics are excellent for CD, with the beginning of ‘Joy to the World’ strong enough to bolster a crumbling empire.”– Jason Victor Serinus, Bay Area Reporter

“Julian Wachner — composer, arranger, conductor, organist — is the director of music and the arts at New York’s historic Trinity Episcopal Church on Wall Street.  The Snow Lay on the Ground: Festive Carols from Trinity Wall Street shows off all his talents, with the assistance of the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the Trinity Youth Chorus and Novus NY, the church’s resident contemporary music orchestra. Wachner often takes a maximalist approach to familiar carols but brings something new and thoughtful to others, and his organ improvisations are creative and enlightening.”– Sarah Bryan Miller, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2016

Mon, July 24, 2017

This Real World ‘Space Opera’ Lets You Become the Hubble Telescope
Gizmodo

Fistful of Stars is a five minute-long virtual reality experience that takes the viewer on a tour through the vast star-forming region known as the Orion Nebula. Its hauntingly beautiful images, accompanied by The Hubble Cantata—which includes a 30 piece ensemble, a 100 person choir, and two singers from the Metropolitan Opera [directed by Julian Wachner]—gives the film a 2001 feel without the murderous robots.

“It’s a combination of science and magical realism,” director Eliza McNitt told Gizmodo. “We wanted to give users the feeling as if they were a star floating on stellar winds through the Orion Nebula. That could take billions of years but we wanted to give you the experience of that spectacular journey through five minutes.”

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This Real World 'Space Opera' Lets You Become the Hubble Telescope

Rae Paoletta
7/24/17 4:30pm
Filed to: SPACE

It’s easy to feel small and insignificant in the grandiose scope of the universe, because we are. At the same time, as Carl Sagan once reminded us, we’re made of the same “star stuff” as the cosmos. All too often, we forget how random, ridiculous, and resplendent it is to part of the stellar sorority of the universe. That’s why art, specifically movies like Eliza McNitt’s Fistful of Stars, is important—it reacquaints us with humanity’s small and stupid and somehow very special place in the cosmos.

Fistful of Stars is a five minute-long virtual reality experience that takes the viewer on a tour through the vast star-forming region known as the Orion Nebula. Its hauntingly beautiful images, accompanied by The Hubble Cantata—which includes a 30 piece ensemble, a 100 person choir, and two singers from the Metropolitan Opera—gives the film a 2001 feel without the murderous robots.

“It’s a combination of science and magical realism,” director Eliza McNitt told Gizmodo. “We wanted to give users the feeling as if they were a star floating on stellar winds through the Orion Nebula. That could take billions of years but we wanted to give you the experience of that spectacular journey through five minutes.”

Humans have never ventured into the Orion Nebula, because it’s roughly 1,500 lightyears away. Peering into its cloudy heart, Hubble has found some of the most beautiful chaos of star birth ever captured. As its name suggests, Fistful of Stars masterfully captures the beauty within our otherwise bellicose universe. I still can’t decide whether the whole thing is a cause or cure for an existential crisis.

“The Orion Nebula is a place thousands of lightyears away where no human has ever been,” McNitt said. “Fistful of stars offers humans an experience...where you get to become the eyes of the human telescope.”

Though the film originally premiered back in March at SXSW, it’s finally available on Vice’s Samsung VR channel. If you don’t have VR gear, you can check still check it out without a headset right here, in 360 video.

Fri, July 21, 2017

Sacred Song Service to celebrate Christmas in July
The Chautauquan Daily

One of the anthems the Chautauqua Choir will perform is “The Snow Lay on the Ground,” arranged by Julian Wachner for the Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City, which Jacobsen said is one of the most experimental churches for music. He said the piece was “dazzling” and wanted to perform it because not many Chautauquans would hear it in their home churches.

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Sacred Song Service to celebrate Christmas in July

by DELANEY VAN WEY on JULY 21, 2017  

Don’t be alarmed by the sounds of Christmas carols coming from the Amphitheater on Sunday evening. Yes, it is still July.

But that won’t stop Chautauquans from celebrating the holiday they won’t be able to spend all together. At 8 p.m. Sunday in the Amp, the Chautauqua Choir and Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, will perform a Sacred Song Service program titled “Mary, Mother of God: Christmas in July.”

“Chautauquans love to sing Christmas carols because they’re not usually together at Christmas time,” Jacobsen said. “And there’s something extra special about singing Christmas carols when it’s like 85 degrees outside.”

Jacobsen said while he creates a Sacred Song Service program based on Christmas nearly every year, he tries to bring a new focus to it to keep it fresh. This season, he is concentrating on Mary, the mother of Jesus, who he said is featured in much more Christmas music than Joseph is.

The song that will set the theme for Sunday’s performance is “Annunciation Story” by Richard Dirksen, who wrote it for the Washington National Cathedral in 1975. It is the story of Mary learning of her pregnancy from an angel, which sets the stage for the rest of the Christmas narrative.

“The musical language is very spare,” Jacobsen said. “The focus is on the story.”

One of the anthems the Chautauqua Choir will perform is “The Snow Lay on the Ground,” arranged by Julian Wachner for the Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City, which Jacobsen said is one of the most experimental churches for music. He said the piece was “dazzling” and wanted to perform it because not many Chautauquans would hear it in their home churches.

Although Jacobsen noted that it is unclear if there was snow on the ground when Jesus was born, there definitely is plenty of it at Chautauqua during the winter season. While Jacobsen said he’s only been at Chautauqua during the holidays a few times, he tries to check in on the Bestor Plaza livestream at least once to see the snow twinkling in the light of the beautifully decorated trees on either side of the plaza.

“It really is like a fantasy-land Christmas,” Jacobsen said.

There will also be numerous carols for the congregation to perform, including “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “O Come All Ye Faithful,” which Jacobsen said is one of his favorites.

Thu, July 20, 2017

Colorado Music Festival offers ‘Beyoncé-Beethoven,’ other mash-ups
Boulder Daily Camera

Wachner knew that he would have a large orchestra to work with. The anchor work on the concert is Gustav Holst’s “The Planets,” which uses a gargantuan ensemble. The 10-minute work he wrote is in homage to Leonard Bernstein, whose birth centenary will be celebrated in 2018. “I wanted to bridge the serious and popular, like he did,” Wachner said. “I looked at music like the film score to ‘On the Waterfront,’” he explained.

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Colorado Music Festival offers 'Beyoncé-Beethoven,' other mash-ups

Clarinetist Boris Allakhverdyan, now with Los Angeles Philharmonic, returns to Boulder

By Kelly Dean Hansen

Camera Classical Music Writer

POSTED:   07/20/2017 05:35:03 PM MDT 

The fifth of the Colorado Music Festival season's six weeks is possibly its most full and diverse. The return of "mash-up" master Steve Hackman — whose unique creations became a CMF staple for three years, from 2013-2015 — closes the Tuesday "Happy Hour Series." A full orchestra concert with a multimedia element and a commissioned work is followed by a weekend featuring a former CMF player, Boris Allakhverdyan, who has gone on to a high-profile career.

Classicalapalooza widens scope of mash-up

When Steve Hackman takes the podium in front of the CMF orchestra on Tuesday, he will lead a mash-up that goes beyond his previous full-length combinations of a specific classical work with several songs by a single current popular artist.

"For my return after a year's absence, I wanted to do something grander in scale that used several different artists and composers," Hackman said. "The previous pieces were very specific, and the audience had to trust that there was a compelling reason to combine this composer with that artist."

[The Colorado Music Festival orchestra will perform an original composition by Julian Wachner during its concert on Thrusday.]
The Colorado Music Festival orchestra will perform an original composition by Julian Wachner during its concert on Thrusday. (Courtesy Colorado Music Festival)

His Classicalapalooza program takes on a series of smaller combinations with multiple composers and artists, and adds a narrative element to explain the reasoning. "It's like the music festival of my dreams," Hackman said. "I imagine a time machine where the composers and artists could interact at the same event. I'd like to speculate what kind of music they would make together."

The smaller segments have titles like "Lady Gaga-Brahms," "Bruno Mars-Bach," "Adele-Wagner" and "Beyoncé-Beethoven." Hackman said that each of these is a self-contained piece of music, and the narrator will both explain the pairings and lead between them. "There is a large arc," he said. "Adele-Wagner" is very much a slow movement. As usual, Hackman has engaged a trio of his favorite singers to present the popular songs.

The artists chosen would headline the biggest shows today, and the composers are the all-time greats. Sometimes, Hackman said, the combinations wrote themselves. The finale of Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony is combined with Muse's "Uprising," both pieces having the theme of resistance to oppression, for example. The 90-minute show is divided into two acts with intermission, each act consisting of four or five numbers.

"I'm excited to come back and do yet another original piece with the CMF," Hackman said. "I think the orchestra and I really came to understand each other and learned to make great music together."

Commissioned work and 'The Planets'

The Thursday full festival orchestra concert does not have a guest soloist, but the work commissioned from last year's Click! competition winner will begin the program. Click! is a long-running CMF initiative where audience members listen to music by four selected composers and vote on one to write a new piece for the next season.

This year's winner is Julian Wachner, who has worked with CMF music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni in Montreal. "He really is a musicians' composer who writes accessible, pleasing things," Zeitouni said.

Wachner knew that he would have a large orchestra to work with. The anchor work on the concert is Gustav Holst's "The Planets," which uses a gargantuan ensemble. The 10-minute work he wrote is in homage to Leonard Bernstein, whose birth centenary will be celebrated in 2018. "I wanted to bridge the serious and popular, like he did," Wachner said. "I looked at music like the film score to 'On the Waterfront,'" he explained.

Wachner referred to a series of photos in the Maestro Suite at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., depicting the conductors who have worked there. "All of them have a serious face, doing things like shushing the orchestra — except Bernstein. His mouth is open, and he is looking to the sky. The photo just expresses pure joy." He used the Latin word for "joy" — gaude — as the title for his piece. "Joy" just happens to be the 2017 CMF theme.

The piece is framed by a low brass chorale, Wachner said, and a faster, jubilant middle section. "It could be reasonably programmed at any large orchestra concert," Wachner said. He didn't go as far as Holst with woodwinds and brass, but the work includes a large percussion section, as contemporary composers generally do.

As for "The Planets," it will be accompanied by visual projections, as is often the case with performances of the work, but it will be different from the commonly-used versions produced by NASA. Zeitouni said that planetary images and CGI animations by visual artist Adrian Wyard are designed to follow the music in real time, the operator responding to Zeitouni's pace. This is similar to what was done with Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" last year. The images are designed to accompany a specific portion of the music, but the musicians are not beholden to anything like a "click track."

Coming between Wachner's piece and "The Planets" is Alexander Scriabin's "Poem of Ecstasy." Another work with a massive orchestra, it also fits the "joyous" theme of the program. Zeitoni described it as a "passionate, orgasmic explosion from the soul." The final "Fresh Friday" encore performance at 6:30 p.m. on July 28 will include only "The Planets."

Clarinetist returns after hitting it big

Zeitouni has had interest in inviting back a former CMF musician who has gone on to a high-profile position. The obvious choice was Azerbaijan-born clarinetist Boris Allakhverdyan, who was CMF principal from 2008-2012. Since then, Allakhverdyan served a stint as one of two principal clarinetists for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in New York, and is now principal for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the orchestra led by superstar conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

Allakhverdyan performs with CMF musicians on a chamber music program Saturday, July 29, and then with the chamber orchestra in a "Classically Jazz" concert on Sunday, July 30. The solo clarinet part in Leonard Bernstein's "Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs" is something he has been playing recently. Zeitouni had wanted to do a jazz-inspired classical concert, and this presented an opportunity. Because the Bernstein piece is short, Allakhverdyan will also play Aaron Copland's Clarinet Concerto, another heavily jazz-influenced work.

"The Copland is one of the great clarinet concertos," Allakhverdyan explained. "I've played it in many places, including Armenia, where it was well-received." He noted that both pieces were written for the famous American clarinetist Benny Goodman.

Zeitouni surrounds the clarinet works with other classical pieces that have become "jazz standards." They include the wind band suite from Kurt Weill's "Threepenny Opera" (which features "Mack the Knife"), George Gershwin's "Lullaby for Strings," and orchestrations of two Scott Joplin piano rags, "The Entertainer" and "Maple Leaf Rag." French composer Darius Milhaud's "La Création du monde," a 1923 ballet score that was one of the first serious orchestral works to use jazz idioms (but reflected through a Parisian lens), fills out the program.

The Saturday chamber concert includes the Brahms Clarinet Quintet, in which Allakhverdyan joins four CMF string players (including the orchestra's longest-serving player, violinist Mary Ellen Goree). That group also plays Tchaikovsky's "Autumn Song" arranged by Toru Takemitsu. Then, pianist Vivienne Spy and CMF wind players present Mozart's Quintet for Piano and Winds.

Mon, July 3, 2017

CDA’s best classical albums of 2017 (so far)
Classical Dark Arts

The Kennedy Center staged an astounding performance of The Hubble Cantata in May that included solo singers, an instrumental ensemble, the Washington Chorus [all directed by Julian Wachner], narrator Mario Livio (astrophysicist, director of the Hubble project), and a virtual-reality film. Paola Prestini composed the music and Royce Vavrek the libretto. While this recording won’t have quite the same impact — for obvious format reasons — it gets close. Turn off the lights, put on headphones, lie back and blast off.

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CDA’s best classical albums of 2017 (so far)

ON JULY 3, 2017 BY DUBUQUECELLO

Welcome to the halfway point of the year.

Typically critics and fans announce their favorite albums at the end of each year. It’s a fine tradition, but wouldn’t it be nice to get a head start? By looking at the best classical albums released thus far we can preempt some of our December binge-listening.

The ground rules: No reissues and no re-recordings. If your group recorded a Mahler symphony cycle I’m not recommending it. We reward originality, we patronize living composers. Second, this list ain’t exhaustive. I’m only one listener. I’m open to additions because the list will change over time. Finally, your mileage may vary. If you’re gonna buy something, preview it first lest you get burned. Click on the titles to buy the albums.

Paola Prestini ‘The Hubble Cantata’
The Kennedy Center staged an astounding performance of The Hubble Cantata in May that included solo singers, an instrumental ensemble, the Washington Chorus, narrator Mario Livio (astrophysicist, director of the Hubble project), and a virtual-reality film. Paola Prestini composed the music and Royce Vavrek the libretto. While this recording won’t have quite the same impact — for obvious format reasons — it gets close. Turn off the lights, put on headphones, lie back and blast off.

Ars Nova Copenhagen ‘First Drop’
Ars Nova Copenhagen are a vocal group formed in 1979. These Danes program centuries-old music and cutting-edge new music. Standouts on their latest album, called First Drop, include Michael Gordon’s He Saw a Skull (straight wizardry), Pablo Ortiz’s Five Motets, and a remix of Steve Reich’s Clapping Music by group leader Paul Hillier that’s arguably better than the original.

Bearthoven ‘Trios’
Does it help your chances to get on this list if your group name’s slightly punny? Hell yes my friend. Bearthoven are a piano-bass-drums trio that at first blush might be mistaken for a jazz group. Truthfully they might be that, but as Bearthoven note in their official bio they don’t put much stock in labels or expectations. Trios includes Brendon Randall-Myers’s dirty, twisting groove called Simple Machine, Fjóla Evans’ thick, ethereal Shoaling, and an opener (Undertoad) and closer (The Ringing World) that flirt with orchestrated, Gil Evans-style writing.

New Vintage Baroque, Oracle Hysterical ‘Passionate Pilgrim’
This is wild. Oracle Hysterical call themselves “half band, half book club.” They’re comprised of composer-performers Doug Balliett, Brad Balliett, Majel Connery, Elliot Cole, and Dylan Greene. Passionate Pilgrim pairs Oracle Hysterical with period orchestra New Vintage Baroque. They take “discredited” verses once thought to be Shakespeare’s and weave them into a 19-song cycle. It goes by fast, the reason being that the idea is fresh. Passionate Pilgrim is beautifully original, if you’re open to it.

Alvin Lucier ‘Two Circles’
All right I know I said no reissues but I’m banking on few people having heard of Alvin Lucier. You might’ve caught Lucier’s music on the current season of Meet the Composer, when Nadia played his beguiling I Am Sitting in a Room. Two Circles includes that work along with others in a similar vein: all feature repeated figures, long, drawn-out notes, absolutely zero haste. Screw all you short attention-span-having millennials (of which I am one).

Jasper String Quartet ‘Unbound’
From Caroline Shaw’s jangly opener Valencia to Ted Hearne’s Law of Mosaics, this program from the Jasper is a treat. Sometimes string quartet writing doesn’t allow the format’s best characteristics — distinct voices, ability of all four players to lead, unity of timbre, wide expressive range — to shine through. Another way of saying it is that inferior composers have as much chance of succeeding in the string quartet format as a Perkins pie-maker on The Great British Bake Off. It don’t end well, bruv. Luckily, Unbound is quality music top to bottom. If you’re not impressed by the one-two punch of Annie Gosfield’s The Blue Horse Walks on the Horizon and Judd Greenstein’s Four on the Floor, then we’re done here.

​ACME ‘Thrive on Routine’
The American Contemporary Musical Ensemble is a shape-shifting new music group started in 2004 and led by cellist and artistic director Clarice Jensen. Their performance roll reads like a who’s who of NYC classical luminaries, and their catalog features heavy hitters: an eight-hour recording of Max Richter’s Sleep; Carolina Eyck’s Fantasias for Theremin and String Quartet (a CDA 2016 album pick); and enough New Amsterdam records to build your week around. This year’s Thrive on Routine is an ACME family affair, with pieces by group members Caroline Shaw, Caleb Burhans and Timo Andres. Bonus fun fact: Andres’ “Potatoes” was inspired by the morning routine of Charles Ives, who listened to Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier while working in his potato patch.

Iceland Symphony Orchestra ‘Recurrence’
Iceland is having a moment. What Atlanta is for rappers, New Orleans is for jazz, Silicon Valley is for douchey tech broflakes, and Florida is for uniformly shocking news headlines, Iceland is for contemporary classical music. We’re talking about a country with an equivalent population to Corpus Christi, Texas, built on lava fields and “geologically active” terrain, that endures months of either constant light or enveloping darkness. (Thinking.) Okay, maybe that’s a fertile musical breeding ground. Recurrence by the Iceland Symphony Orchestra features pieces by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, María Huld Markan Sigfúsdóttir and similarly white-hot Icelandic composers. Don’t hesitate to ride this wave.

The Knights, Yo-Yo Ma, Osvaldo Golijov et al. ‘Azul’
You have to hand it to Yo-Yo Ma — the guy won’t sit still. Ma has racked up more travel miles than a US Secretary of State. The worldwide projects he’s undertaken are more impressive when you consider he doesn’t have anything left to prove. He’s a performer for the ages. So then, how about a new collabo between Ma, the NYC chamber ensemble The Knights, composer Osvaldo Golijov, and um, Sufjan Stevens? Yes please. Like Postmates when you’re too lazy or too lit up to drive, this one delivers.

Brian Eno ‘Reflection’
This is an electronic album from Mr. Eno that has me scratching my head over the distinction between classical composition and whatever this is. Do the musical implements of execution matter? Is Eno a composer, or “just” a music programmer? Weirdly, Reflection has been a staple of airline in-flight entertainment, so I’ve listened to it in the air (back to back) as often as on terra firma. It’s good both ways. Reflection is an accomplishment, and a strong contender for our year-end list.

Tue, June 20, 2017

150 Psalms, 150 Composers at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival
The New York Times

For a concert called “Justice” that will be held at St. Paul’s Chapel in Lower Manhattan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Mr. Lang was commissioned to write a setting for Psalm 101 (“I will sing of your love and justice”). It will be performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street [under the direction of Julian Wachner], part of a program featuring psalms set by Bruckner, Ned Rorem and Hildegard von Bingen.

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150 Psalms, 150 Composers at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival

By MICHAEL COOPER JUNE 20, 2017

A veritable Psalm-athon will be the centerpiece of Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival this fall. Organizers said Tuesday that the festival would feature performances of settings of all 150 biblical psalms, by 150 different composers, in “The Psalms Experience.”

This seems a natural fit for White Light, which has made transcendence and spirituality its central themes. Other highlights of the festival — which will run from Oct. 18 through Nov. 15 — include John Eliot Gardiner conducting Monteverdi’s three surviving operas; the Mark Morris Dance Group performing the New York premiere of “Layla and Majnun,” a Middle Eastern opera; and the choreographer Jessica Lang staging Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater.”

But the psalms bonanza, for which the festival will spread out across the city to present a dozen concerts featuring 1,000 years of music by composers including Bach, Handel, Telemann and Arvo Pärt, will be the most unusual offering. Here is a sampling of some of the newly commissioned settings.

David Lang: Psalm 101

For a concert called “Justice” that will be held at St. Paul’s Chapel in Lower Manhattan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Mr. Lang was commissioned to write a setting for Psalm 101 (“I will sing of your love and justice”). It will be performed by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, part of a program featuring psalms set by Bruckner, Ned Rorem and Hildegard von Bingen.

Mohammed Fairouz: Psalm 14

Mr. Fairouz was commissioned to set Psalm 14, which grapples with questions of faith, for a concert called “The State of Humankind” that will be performed by the Netherlands Chamber Choir at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. The concert is also to feature a new commission by Michel van der Aa and settings by Tallis, Bach, Purcell and Monteverdi.

Evelin Seppar: Psalm 129

For a concert called “Pilgrimage of Life,” Ms. Seppar, an Estonian composer, has been asked to set the so-called “song of ascents,” which will be sung by the Norwegian Soloists’ Choir. The program, which will be held at Union Theological Seminary on Broadway at 121st Street, will also include music by Palestrina, Brahms and Mr. Pärt.

Nico Muhly: Psalm 63

Mr. Muhly, a composer with a particular fondness for choral church music, has been commissioned to set this psalm, which explores the thirst for God, for a concert called “Gratitude” that will be performed by the Tallis Scholars at the Ethical Culture society. (William Byrd, Haydn and Schubert settings are also on the program.)

Fri, June 2, 2017

Review: New York’s Early-Music Scene Is Having a Moment
The New York Times

The fast-growing vitality of the early-music scene in New York has seldom been more clearly on display than in the closing days of this season.

Last week the instrumentalists of Acronym offered “From Venice to Vienna,” a motley program of almost wholly unknown works from the 17th century. And on Thursday New York Baroque Incorporated added a grand finale of sorts, performing Bonaventura Aliotti’s 1687 oratorio “Santa Rosalia” at Trinity Church on lower Broadway [hosted by Julian Wachner, Director of Music and the Arts], in what it was probably safe to call a United States premiere.

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Review: New York’s Early-Music Scene Is Having a Moment

By JAMES R. OESTREICHJUNE 2, 2017

The fast-growing vitality of the early-music scene in New York has seldom been more clearly on display than in the closing days of this season.

Last week the instrumentalists of Acronym offered “From Venice to Vienna,” a motley program of almost wholly unknown works from the 17th century. And on Thursday New York Baroque Incorporated added a grand finale of sorts, performing Bonaventura Aliotti’s 1687 oratorio “Santa Rosalia” at Trinity Church on lower Broadway, in what it was probably safe to call a United States premiere.

What the groups share (with at least one other, the Sebastians) is a strong representation of alumni from the Juilliard School’s historical-performance program, which was founded just eight years ago but is already a major force in the field. It is probably no coincidence that these groups also share impeccable musicianship and a venturesome approach to repertory.

But in contrast to Acronym, which is hard put to corral its dozen busy members for an occasional concert, NYBI, as Baroque Incorporated is known, maintained a steady presence in the city this spring as part of Trinity Wall Street’s ambitious music program. (Juilliard and Trinity, between them, drive much of the early-music energy here.) In particular, Baroque Incorporated took over Trinity’s “Bach at One” series at St. Paul’s Chapel, plying repertory that extended far beyond Bach.

Bonaventura Aliotti — a priest and organist who was born in Palermo, Sicily, and spent most of his life there — merits a mere two paragraphs and a modest work list in the 29-volume New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. The 12th-century Rosalia (rhymes with Maria), the patron saint of Palermo, is said to have been a descendant of Charlemagne and was born to aristocracy and wealth, which she renounced to become a hermit, devoted to God and living in a cave.

“Santa Rosalia,” presented in a rudimentary semi-staging directed by Marc Verzatt, is an interior allegorical drama enacted by Rosalia’s better self, Repentance, and her lesser ones, Ambition and Sense, who try to steer her off her saintly course. Lucifer joins that unholy alliance in a final bid for Rosalia’s soul, but Mary Most Holy has the last word, as she bestows a crown of roses on the retreating Rosalia. (“Roses grown in heaven/Have no thorns.”)

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The music, tuneful yet sophisticated, consists largely of a smooth flow of dialogue with mere continuo accompaniment, broken by arias wrapped more lavishly in strings, and occasional ensembles. Aliotti’s style recalls the operatic Monteverdi at times, without ever reaching a similar level of sustained inspiration.

The fine cast was led by the soprano Johannette Zomer, as a sympathetic Santa Rosalia, but the real standout was another soprano, Molly Netter, playing both Repentance and Mary Most Holy with clear, beautiful tone and vivacious personality. The estimable bass-baritone Dashon Burton more than filled the relatively small role of Lucifer. Owen McIntosh was suitably brash as Sense, and Kate Maroney was somewhat aloof as an arrogant Ambition.

The instrumental ensemble, studded with stars in the making, was truly excellent, with the lead violinist, Lorenzo Colitto, as music director, and the double-bassist, Wen Yang, as artistic director. Ezra Seltzer, a stalwart cellist in New York’s new old-music scene, was superb in his solos.

Mon, May 22, 2017

Kennedy Center’s JFK Centennial culminates with final week of events
WTOP

On Thursday, “The Hubble Cantata” salutes the Hubble satellite on the anniversary of Kennedy’s Moon Shot. Metropolitan opera star Nathan Gunn will join acclaimed soprano Talise Trevigne, music director Julian Wachner, a 20-piece orchestra, and a 100-person choir from The Washington Chorus.

“A fantastic female composer Paola Prestini has written this work,” Rutter said. “It has a virtual reality component to it. It is so cool! And it is on the day of the anniversary of his Moon Shot speech, so we’re delighted to have this brand new work. There’s been a lot of excitement about it, there’s a lot of buzz.”

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Kennedy Center’s JFK Centennial culminates with final week of events

By Jason Fraley | @JFray

WTOP May 22, 2017 2:23 am

WASHINGTON — Have you noticed the Kennedy Center bathed in red, white and blue lights lately? Or the bold letters “JFK 100” stenciled atop the building?

It’s all for the JFK Centennial, a yearlong celebration that culminates this week with a final string of events building up to what would have been President John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday on Monday, May 29.

“We’re taking this centennial to remind people that we are the memorial to John F. Kennedy,” Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter told WTOP.

“Some people forget; they think it’s the name of a place like Kennedy Airport or Kennedy Space Center. … [First lady Jackie Kennedy] knew his memory could live on through a living memorial. So, every day we celebrate John F. Kennedy. … It gives us an inspiration when we are programming things at the center.”

It was certainly a unique task putting together the lineup of events for “JFK 100.”

“When you have an anniversary in a performing arts center, you can celebrate a composer, you can celebrate a performer or choreographer very easily because they created performingworks,” Rutter said. “What do you do when you’re a performing arts center honoring a president? We spent a lot of time thinking about it [and] decided we would focus on what he stood for [particularly] on five ideals: Service, Courage, Justice, Freedom and — after we spoke with his family — we added Gratitude.”

The week of events kicks off Tuesday with “Rebirth of a Nation,” as Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky will reinterpret D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking yet racially offensive movie “The Birth of a Nation” (1915).

“It’s a multimedia event with music, a little bit of video, a little bit of spoken word … to take this really iconic work and have a new perspective on it with a new voice to the Kennedy Center,” Rutter said. “The art of our day — in terms of having music from hip-hop artists — has been a really important addition to the Kennedy Center. We’ve had Nas, Common, and Q-Tip is now our artistic adviser.”

On Wednesday, get ready for renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma with the National Symphony Orchestra, performing a collection of John Williams, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland and Mason Bates.

“Yo-Yo Ma helped raise money for the nation’s cultural center before it was the Kennedy Center,” Rutter said. “He performed for John F. Kennedy when he was 7, his sister played the piano and Leonard Bernstein was the host of a fundraising event that the Kennedys graced with their presence. … So, Yo-Yo is really our lead on all things ‘JFKC,’ our way of referring to the centennial.”

On Thursday, “The Hubble Cantata” salutes the Hubble satellite on the anniversary of Kennedy’s Moon Shot. Metropolitan opera star Nathan Gunn will join acclaimed soprano Talise Trevigne, music director Julian Wachner, a 20-piece orchestra, and a 100-person choir from The Washington Chorus.

“A fantastic female composer Paola Prestini has written this work,” Rutter said. “It has a virtual reality component to it. It is so cool! And it is on the day of the anniversary of his Moon Shot speech, so we’re delighted to have this brand new work. There’s been a lot of excitement about it, there’s a lot of buzz.”

Similarly, The Washington Ballet presents its “Frontier” space ballet from Thursday though Sunday.

“What’s been really great is the number of arts organizations across the city who’ve been connected to this centennial,” Rutter said. “We’re really proud that The Washington Ballet is in residence that week and are a part of our celebration. … We’re really pleased the ballet is performing that week.”

On Saturday, check out the Kennedy Center Open House with free activities from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“The Open House is something that’s been really popular at the Kennedy Center,” Rutter said. “It will be an all-day celebration … all kinds of events, inside, outside, inside the performance spaces, some really unexpected stuff and some more traditional …. a lot of family activities. Please come on down.”

Sunday brings the annual National Memorial Day Concert, featuring the NSO on the National Mall.

“This is, of course, filmed live on PBS, but it’s better to be in person,” Rutter said. “[It’s] a wonderful program, their traditional concert. You can’t have [Memorial Day] weekend without it.”

It all culminates Monday with the JFK Centennial Celebration on Kennedy’s actual 100th birthday.

“The fact that Memorial Day is his birthday is really special, it was just all meant to be,” Rutter said. “We have a lot of spoken word, music and dance, but this is not a musical variety show; it’s more about reflecting on who he was. … So, we have some fantastic actors, dancers, performers, Martin Sheen will be there, one of the prima ballerinas of our day Tiler Peck will be there, Renee Fleming will be singing, we have some surprises along the way, but it’s intended to be open and affordable to all.”

Of course, if you have a little cash to spare, you can donate to the Kennedy Center’s arts mission with its “35 Days of Giving” program, named after Kennedy’s place as 35th president of the United States.

“Everybody refers to the president by the number [’35’], so we have built a program for giving [over] 35 days leading up to May 29,” Rutter said. “We have a challenge grant from a wonderful D.C. family, Shelley and Allan Holt, who will match every gift 2-to-1. … The idea being that people can give back to their cultural center in honor of his birth at any level. We have a $5 gift, a $5,000 gift, even larger gifts. … Any gift makes a difference and you can feel like you’re helping celebrate John F. Kennedy.”

That celebration will continue beyond the centennial, thanks to the Kennedy Center’s enduring work.

“Kennedy was not just a young, inspirational, optimistic politician, he also really thought about the world in a different way,” Rutter said. “He was the first politician to use television, he was the first to speak to our society in a different way. He was aspirational. He was the one who encouraged us to think about our role as citizens in a different way. … He was always pushing us to think differently about our role in society, so I really believe that this whole week of programming is about that.”

Mon, May 22, 2017

Vast, Intricate, Awe-Inspiring Oceans of Sound Downtown
Lucid Culture

What’s the likelihood that the two opening works on a program featuring John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean would hold their own alongside that epically enveloping, meticulously churning, playfully palindromic masterpiece? It happened yesterday at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, where Novus NY delivered a mighty coda to this season’s program of music on themes of water justice, staged by Trinity Church.

The pervasive cynicism that still exists at corporate rock concerts has roots in the classical world: “Let’s warm up the crowd with something short and random and then get down to business.” From the first few stark, distantly enigmatic notes of Luna Pearl Woolf’s After the Wave, a portrait of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and its aftermath, it was clear that Julian Wachner’s fearlessly eclectic ensemble had come to deliver a message.

Read Full Text

Vast, Intricate, Awe-Inspiring Oceans of Sound Downtown

What’s the likelihood that the two opening works on a program featuring John Luther Adams’ Become Ocean would hold their own alongside that epically enveloping, meticulously churning, playfully palindromic masterpiece? It happened yesterday at St. Paul’s Chapel downtown, where Novus NY delivered a mighty coda to this season’s program of music on themes of water justice, staged by Trinity Church.

The pervasive cynicism that still exists at corporate rock concerts has roots in the classical world: “Let’s warm up the crowd with something short and random and then get down to business.” From the first few stark, distantly enigmatic notes of Luna Pearl Woolf’s After the Wave, a portrait of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami and its aftermath, it was clear that Julian Wachner’s fearlessly eclectic ensemble had come to deliver a message. With just the hint of foreshadowing, the methodical pulse of daily routine gave way to a flood of low tonalities and bracing close harmonies as haunting as anything in Adams’ work. From there the orchestra made their way through an unexpectedly triumphant latin-tinged fanfare of sorts, up to a conclusion that signaled triumph and recovery over an ocean of devastation.

The world premiere of violist/composer Jessica Meyer’s string orchestra piece Through Which We Flow was  even more consistently riveting. Introducing the work, Meyer explained how she’d been inspired by Masuru Emoto’s book The Hidden Messages in Water, which claims that human thought directed at water can affect the shape of its ice crystals. Considering that we’re 85% water, if science can validate Emoto’s thesis, this would be paradigm-shifting to the extreme.

Meyer has made a name for herself with her intricate, solo loopmusic, its intertwining themes and atmospheric electronic effects. That influence was apparent in the work’s subtle thematic shifts, intricately circular motives and rhythmic persistence, not unlike Julia Wolfe. But freed from the confines of the loop pedal, Meyer’s mini-suite flowed carefully and methodically from rapt, mantra-like permutations, through grim insistence to a peacefully hypnotic ending. All this demanded plenty of extended plucking and percussive technique, and the ensemble rose to the challenge. It’s the best thing Meyer’s ever written: there isn’t a string orchestra on the planet that wouldn’t have a field day playing this.

So it’s fair to say that Become Ocean wasn’t just the piece de resistance, but a fitting coda.  Performed by three separate segments of the orchestra – strings and percussion facing the church’s south wall, brass on the back balcony, with winds, harp and vibraphone under the nave of the church, Wachner (wearing headphones) led the groups through a seamless morass of tidal shifts, endlessly bubbly chains of rivulets and a titanic wall of sound that evoked dread and deadly power as much as awestruck wonder.

It’s easy to describe the early part of the work as orchestral Eno (and just as difficult to play: try pedaling the same note for ten minutes, nonstop, maintaining perfectly unwavering tone and timbre!). But that womb-like reverie gave way to a wall as menacing as anything depicted in Woolf’s piece – at five times the volume. As themes made their way slowly back and forth between the three groups of musicians, it was as if the audience had become part of the orchestra, literally immersed in the music. In an era where the Seventh Continent continues to expand – plastic springwater bottles no doubt being part of it – and the Fukushima reactors continue to leak their lethal toxins into the Pacific, it’s hard to think of a more relevant concert being staged in New  York this year.

Trinity Wall Street’s orchestra conclude this spring’s season with a performance of Philip Glass’ similarly rapturous if not necessarily water-themed Symphony No. 5 there tonight, May 19 and tomorrow, May 20 at 8 PM. Admission is free; early arrival is advised.

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