Press

Sat, November 3, 2007

Hear the music, and then listen
HiLife

Honolulu Symphony Orchestra preview by Burl Burlingame

Sun, October 14, 2007

Music Review: Honolulu Symphony at Hawaii Theatre
The Honolulu Advertiser

...The Symphony’s Hawai’i Theatre sound was at its best in Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture and especially in Haydn’s “London” Symphony, No.104. Wachner presented clean, well-balanced, and well-thought-out interpretations that were both exciting and engaging.

Mon, October 1, 2007

Review: ‘Orphée et Eurydice,’ Glimmerglass 2007
L'Opéra

Italian review of ‘Orphée et Eurydice’ by Christine Gransier

Thu, August 16, 2007

Michael Maniaci Flies High as Orphée at Glimmerglass
Opera Today

Wachner led the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra in a fluent and pleasing reading of the score.

Wed, August 15, 2007

Review: ‘Orphée et Eurydice,’ Glimmerglass 2007
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

Gluck’s gloriously tranquil music is magnificently reflected in the quiet splendour of this intellectual utopia. The instruments are modern, but the sensibility is baroque. The orchestra under Montreal-based conductor Julian Wachner is charged with drama as Gluck intended. Wachner’s focus is on mood, and one is swept up in the grandeur of the music that so magnificently depicts place and character.

Wed, August 8, 2007

Orpheus in the opera world
The Financial Times (London)

Whether or not Berlioz would have, I regretted the absence of a continuo harpsichord, which would have given the orchestra more bite under Julian Wachner’s leadership. His tempos were well judged, however.

Tue, August 7, 2007

Four Trips to Hell and Back at the Opera
The New York Times

Julian Wachner’s conducting had poise and grace.

Thu, August 2, 2007

Historical work loses its anchor
The Boston Globe

Also on the program was a previous commission, Julian Wachner’s 2004 setting of Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” which combines music and narration far more cogently. Wachner sets up an ostinato-driven vocabulary that lets the orchestra fall into intricate, repeated vamps while text is spoken, so the musical thread remains unbroken. He also isn’t afraid to let a solo line sustain the poem’s atmosphere on the strength of instrumental color

Sun, July 8, 2007

Review: Orphée et Eurydice
Syracuse Post-Standard

Wachner had a firm grip on the shaping of line and his generally moderately-paced account emphasized the dignity of Gluck’s meditation…

Sun, July 8, 2007

“Orphee et Eurydice,” Glimmerglass Opera, 7/8/07
Albany Times-Union

GLIMMERGLASS OPERA’S new production of “Orphée et Eurydice” is like a shimmering jewel that floats on an endless horizon between worlds. The opening performance Sunday afternoon inspired awe at the placid beauty of the stage and the tender raw emotion that flowed like a river through the music…Consolation and comfort came fittingly from the orchestra, led by Julian Wachner, with velvety, undulating strings and a sweet oboe that melodically echoed and dialogued with Maniaci. …A MUST-SEE EVENT…

Fri, March 16, 2007

Review: Candide, Toronto Operetta Theatre
Opera America

Under conductor Julian Wachner, the Toronto Operetta Theatre Orchestra gave a rapid but exhilarating account of the overture. Wachner so adroitly highlighted the abundant humor of parody and exaggeration in the score that Bernstein’s wit moved repeatedly moved the audience beyond smiles to laughter.

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TORONTO — Candide, Toronto Operetta Theatre

OPERA AMERICA March 16th, 2007
By Christopher Hoile

Toronto Operetta Theatre mounted a highly enjoyable, all-Canadian production of Leonard Bernstein's Candide (seen Jan. 5), a work not staged professionally in Toronto since a Canadian Opera Company production in 1985. For this production, director Guillermo Silva-Marin chose the 1999 Royal National Theatre version of the work, featuring John Caird's adaptation of Hugh Wheeler's book (itself a replacement for Lillian Hellman's original) and a reduced orchestration for fourteen instruments. Under conductor Julian Wachner, the Toronto Operetta Theatre Orchestra gave a rapid but exhilarating account of the overture. Wachner so adroitly highlighted the abundant humor of parody and exaggeration in the score that Bernstein's wit moved repeatedly moved the audience beyond smiles to laughter.

Tenor James McLennan's boyish good looks and fresh-faced innocence made him an ideal Candide. The richness of his voice and the emotional intensity he gave "It Must Be So" and "Nothing More Than This" lent the character and the opera the depth they require so crucially. Soprano Carla Huhtanen gave a spectacular account of "Glitter and Be Gay," with joyously secure top notes and beautifully precise runs, all the while acting out Cunegonde's hilarious vacillation between conscience and materialism with aplomb. Best-known for her Carmen, Jean Stilwell was an atypically attractive Old Lady. The earnestness of her delivery of the Old Lady's most outré tales only heightened their pitch-black humor, while her radiant dark voice and vivacious performance made "I Am Easily Assimilated" a showstopper. The prime disappointment was baritone Ian Funk, who proved to be vocally and dramatically ineffective in the triple role of Voltaire, Pangloss and Martin. The chorus sang with fervor and precision throughout.

Unlike Robert Carsen in his recent Paris production, Silva-Marin did not update the work. Played on a bare stage overhung with flags and banners, the piece clearly became, through Mireille Vachon's costume design, a journey toward self-realization through experience of the world's excesses. The cast first appeared in simple whites and natural colors, in styles cleverly blending the eighteenth century with the 1950s. As the action progressed, all the characters except Candide changed into increasingly elaborate, more colorful costumes, culminating in the visually riotous Venice carnival scenes when Candide, untrue to his trusting nature, finally donned a mask and scarlet gown for his denunciation of Cunegonde. Then, in a masterstroke during the heart-catching finale, "Make Our Garden Grow," the cast one by one divested itself of masks and trumpery to face the world again in the simpler, humbler garb it first wore.

Wed, March 14, 2007

Modeste Vanessa, immense Finley
La Presse

‘Vanessa,’ Opéra McGill review by Claude Gingras

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Modeste Vanessa, immense Finley
Claude Gingras, La Presse, mercredi 14 mars 2007

J'allais à Vanessa lundi soir, quitte à manquer Gerald Finley que j'avais entendu à quelques reprises. Rare produit du «mariage musical» de Samuel Barber et d'un autre compositeur, Gian Carlo Menotti, librettiste pour son ami comme il le fut pour ses propres opéras, Vanessa est une oeuvre dont l'atmosphère rappelle le Onieguine de Tchaïkovsky.??Vanessa attend depuis 20 ans son ancien amant Anatol. L'homme qui arrive enfin s'appelle bien Anatol, mais il s'agit du fils de l'autre, maintenant décédé. Le soir de son arrivée, le nouveau venu séduit la nièce de Vanessa, Erika, qui, enceinte, tentera de se suicider. Tombée amoureuse du «deuxième» Anatol, Vanessa part avec lui et Erika annonce qu'elle l'attendra, comme sa tante a attendu l'autre.??La modeste présentation de McGill réduisait l'orchestre à l'accompagnement d'un piano (à gauche sur scène) mais comportait des costumes et suffisamment d'accessoires (table mise pour un repas, fauteuils, draperies, chandeliers) pour situer le spectateur. Malheureusement, la réverbération d'un Pollack à peine rempli rendait le texte incompréhensible et, partant, le scénario difficile à suivre.?

Bien jeune pour quelqu'un qui attend un amant depuis 20 ans, la blonde Lara Ciekiewicz a de la voix et joue avec conviction. Bonnes compositions aussi chez la nièce et la baronne, mère de Vanessa. Mais une heure de réverbération ne mène nulle part et, pis encore, l'Anatol n'a pas de voix et joue mal. Je pars donc «attraper» Finley à Redpath où c'est l'entracte. J'ai manqué le cycle Dichterliebe mais j'entends la seconde moitié, exclusivement américaine : Ives, Rorem et, coïncidence, Barber encore. Nos amateurs de chant sont là, en force.??Le baryton natif de Montréal est manifestement au sommet de sa forme. La voix large et timbrée, contrôlée dans l'éclat comme dans le plus doux murmure, articule avec une rare intelligence des textes parfaitement assimilés, signés Walt Whitman ou James Joyce, et prend des couleurs qui suggèrent lieux ou états d'âme.??Immense interprète, Finley sait être tour à tour tragique, émouvant ou comique. Le pianiste est parfait et l'ovation est telle que les artistes accordent trois rappels.

Sun, February 4, 2007

A bold, brash McGill double bill
Montreal Gazette

Opéra McGill’s latest run, which finished last night, was a bold and spirited double bill of 20th-century one-act gems, and one of the outfits most successful productions of recent years.

Fri, February 2, 2007

McGill-opéra : petite soirée
La Presse

Opéra McGill review by Claude Gingras

Tue, January 9, 2007

Providence Singers establish their first endowment
Providence Business News

The Providence Singers today announced the establishment by its board of trustees of the group’s first endowment, The Wachner Fund for New Music. “Julian Wachner is a superb musical leader and educator who took The Providence Singers to unprecedented levels of musical growth and artistic achievement during his tenure,” said Allison McMillan, executive director of the chorus.

“As a composer and advocate for new music, he enriched and broadened the group’s repertoire by including 20th- and 21st-century works and new commissions.”

“With this fund,” McMillan said, “we commemorate Julian’s time with us and permanently honor all that he has done for the organization.”

Tue, January 2, 2007

Bonnes surprises dans un bel écrin
Le Devoir

Opéra McGill review by Christophe Huss

Sun, October 1, 2006

Opening Gala Concert:  2006 National AGO Convention
The American Organist

Formidable, prodigious, extravagant—adjectives that define the sum and substance of this auspicious event in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center. The combined talents of conductor, orchestra, organists, and composers were phenomenal. Offered was an abundance of riches, one might say an overabundance, in a program that lasted three hours and 20 minutes.

Julian Wachner is a master at the podium with clarity of beat and a complete command of the intricate scores; the pickup ensemble called Metropolis Symphony Orchestra responded with splendid playing. Each of the soloists, Philippe Bélanger, David Schrader, Maxine Thevenot, and Thierry Escaich, displayed exceptional technique and consummate musicianship. The opening work, Triptych for Organ and Large Orchestra, composed by conductor Julian Wachner, was commissioned by the Oratory of St. Joseph of Montreal and was completed in 2004. This performance marked the world premiere of all three movements: “Logos,” “Agape,” and “Angelus.” Conceived for a space with ten seconds of reverberation, the work suffered somewhat in the relatively dry acoustic of Orchestra Hall.

“Logos” is a sonic tour de force, making full use of colors, dynamics, and rhythmic energy characteristic of organ and orchestra. Philippe Bélanger, titular organist of the Oratory in Montreal brought to the score of each movement a dazzling facility and a sensitive ear. “Agape,” which opens with an organ solo in which one feels bathed in love, is a welcome contrast to the surrounding movements. The concluding section, “Angelus,” demanding the utmost from all the players, is filled with complex rhythms and textures and brings the extended work to a stunning climax.

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The American Organist
Chicago Orchestra Hall
By Morgan Simmons, October issue, 2006

Opening Gala Concert
2006 NATIONAL CONVENTION AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS

Formidable, prodigious, extravagant—adjectives that define the sum and substance of this auspicious event in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center. The combined talents of conductor, orchestra, organists, and composers were phenomenal. Offered was an abundance of riches, one might say an overabundance, in a program that lasted three hours and 20 minutes. Julian Wachner is a master at the podium with clarity of beat and a complete command of the intricate scores; the pickup ensemble called Metropolis Symphony Orchestra responded with splendid playing. Each of the soloists, Philippe Bélanger, David Schrader, Maxine Thevenot, and Thierry Escaich, displayed exceptional technique and consummate musicianship. The opening work, Triptych for Organ and Large Orchestra, composed by conductor Julian Wachner, was commissioned by the Oratory of St. Joseph of Montreal and was completed in 2004. This performance marked the world premiere of all three movements: “Logos,” “Agape,” and “Angelus.” Conceived for a space with ten seconds of reverberation, the work suffered somewhat in the relatively dry acoustic of Orchestra Hall. “Logos” is a sonic tour de force, making full use of colors, dynamics, and rhythmic energy characteristic of organ and orchestra. Philippe Bélanger, titular organist of the Oratory in Montreal brought to the score of each movement a dazzling facility and a sensitive ear. “Agape,” which opens with an organ solo in which one feels bathed in love, is a welcome contrast to the surrounding movements. The concluding section, “Angelus,” demanding the utmost from all the players, is filled with complex rhythms and textures and brings the extended work to a stunning climax. 

Another world premiere commissioned for ChicAGO 2006, Aaron David Miller’s Sleepy Hollow—A tone poem for organ and orchestra, followed intermission. Stunningly performed by David Schrader, this evocative work in five sections is based on the story of Washington Irving’s headless horseman. Miller’s musical skill coupled with a vivid imagination brings the narrative alive as he takes the listener on a picturesque, if unsettling journey, making use of a full array of colors from the orchestra and organ. Schrader and Wachner were masterful in their interpretation of the complex score.

The concluding work for the gala was the three movement Concerto pour Orgue et Orchestre composed (1995) and performed by Thierry Escaich. A brilliant work marked by relentless energy reflects the chaotic world in which we live, a hint of Apocalypse Now! It was most unfortunate that this feat of ingenuity came at the end of a long, long evening of exceptional music making. Having heard the work performed under different circumstances, I can attest to its power and effectiveness. That aside, Escaich played magnificently with the highest degree of musical integrity and skill.

Tue, September 26, 2006

Pureté soporifique
La Presse

En accord, ce que les choristes de Julian Wachner font de cette musique est d’une pureté absolue.

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Pureté soporifique
By Claude Gingras
La Presse, 29 September, 2006

 

Reste la partie chorale. Les quelque 40 choristes chantent le Festival Te Deum de Britten et le Magnificat de Howells dans le jubé, accompagnés - et fort professionnellement - par l'organiste montréalais Jonathan Oldergarm, puis descendent dans le choeur, en beaux costumes rouges, pour un autre Howells, le Requiem chanté en bonne partie en anglais et a cappella. Le Britten est une oeuvre de jeunesse annonçant déjà le novateur, alors que les deux Howells s'inscrivent dans la tradition chorale anglaise très correcte, très en place et... divinement soporifique. En accord, ce que les choristes de Julian Wachner font de cette musique est d'une pureté absolue.

Wed, August 16, 2006

Cinderella Sweeping Up
Santa Barbara Independent

The two musicians who impressed me the most this year were violinist Kathleen Winkler and the man who conducted the newly formed Academy Chamber Orchestra, Julian Wachner…As for Wachner, he showed the enthusiasm and the interest of a really great teacher, and he conducted brilliantly as well.

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Cinderella Sweeping Up
By Gerald Carpenter
Santa Barbara Independent, August 16, 2006

 

THE SUN SETS ON THE WEST : The Music Academy of the West’s 2006 Summer Festival has now joined the foundation of the City of Rome, the Battle of Hastings, and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Shakespeare’s “dark backward and abysm of time.” It is over. The studios and concert halls are silent, the last note of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 has provoked the last outburst of thunderous applause, and the burning summer romances have dissolved in tears of farewell and promises to keep in touch via cell phones and the Internet. Plans for next year are already being made.

If Lotte Lehmann, Otto Klemperer, Efrem Zimbalist, Maurice Abravanel, Ernest Bloch, Darius Milhaud, Arnold Schönberg, Gregor Piatigorsky, or any of the other musical luminaries who made their contributions — material and/or spiritual — to the Music Academy in its formative years were able to revisit this section of Earth this summer, would they recognize it? Would they approve? 
I think they would most certainly recognize it, although they would be impressed by the exponential increase in the scale of the summer event. And given the quality and number of the musical performances, added to the influence of the articulate and accomplished faculty, they could only approve. “What’s not to like?” is a legitimate question, under the circumstances.

If they felt any disappointment, it would probably stem from the fact that the vibrant baby of 1947 never grew into a year-round music school to rival Juilliard, Curtis, Eastman Rochester, or New England Conservatory, for that was the original plan. (However, just up the road at UCSB, the music department has evolved into just such a world-class music school, whose schedule is almost exactly complementary to that of the Academy.) Instead, it has become a mere semantic scruple to distinguish between the Music Academy, as an academy, and the annual Summer Festival.

The two musicians who impressed me the most this year were violinist Kathleen Winkler and the man who conducted the newly formed Academy Chamber Orchestra, Julian Wachner. Winkler has been a star for years, of course, but something in me just started tingling the first time I heard her this year, and every time after that. As for Wachner, he showed the enthusiasm and the interest of a really great teacher, and he conducted brilliantly as well.

Thanks to President NancyBell Coe, Chairman John Burgee, the entire faculty of the Academy, and to the irreplaceable students for another outstanding festival. Thanks, also, to the usual suspects on the Academy staff, and Susan Hodges, for making things so easy for me.

Thu, August 10, 2006

Always Leave ’em Weeping
Santa Barbara Independent

No doubt a good deal of the credit for the group’s amazing polish must go to the brilliant and enthusiastic Julian Wachner…

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Always Leave ’em Weeping
By Gerald Carpenter
Santa Barbara Independent, August 10, 2006

Academy Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Julian Wachner

Here was an event as extraordinary as the annual rebirth of the Festival Orchestra, and without precedent. There was no Academy Chamber Orchestra last year, and here it was, a contender, inviting favorable comparison with the greatest ensembles of its size in the world. Whose idea it was, I don’t know, but as soon as they thought of it, it must have seemed inevitable. After all, these gifted young instrumentalists, poised on brink of their professional careers, are at least as likely to find themselves playing in just such an ensemble as in a full-sized symphony orchestra.

No doubt a good deal of the credit for the group’s amazing polish must go to the brilliant and enthusiastic Julian Wachner , and the rest of it to the remarkable young musicians.

The program was exquisitely balanced and guaranteed to please. They opened with Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Strings in G Major, RV 151, “Alla Rustica,” and the Venetian’s powerful enchantment transfixed us for the entire evening. The great disciplined volume of sound belied the number of musicians playing.

Few modern works would have fit into this program as neatly as that which came second, Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto in E-flat Major, “Dumbarton Oaks.” Although it didn’t get the biggest hand of the evening, I found it the most impressive performance, an homage to the baroque for 15 virtuosos, all of whom played as if they were channeling Stravinsky’s subtlest intentions. Vivaldi’s Concerto in C Major for Two Trumpets, which turned the sanctuary into a Venetian cathedral, brought the first half to a glorious finish.

fter the intermission, the mood shifted gears to lush romanticism, with Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s famous and beloved Serenade for Strings in C Major, Opus 48­: lovely, but somewhat superficial — one might say maudlin — after the inspiring first half.

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