Press

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.

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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.

Fri, May 19, 2017

Concert Review: Let Me Drown
Superconductor

St. Paul’s Chapel, located in the long shadow of the World Trade Center is one of the oldest and most historic churches in New York. On Thursday afternoon, the last matinee concert of the annual music series sponsored by Trinity Church featured another historic occasion: the second New York pperformance of Become Ocean, the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning composition by John Luther Adams. This concert, featuring contemporary orchestra Novus NY under the baton of Trinity Church maestro Julian Wachner, paired Mr. Adams’ creation with works by contemporary composers Luna Pearl Woolf and Jessica Meyer. All three composers were in attendance.

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FRIDAY, MAY 19, 2017

Concert Review: Let Me Drown

Novus NY plays Become Ocean.

by Paul J. Pelkonen

(This review is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell.)

The composer John Luther Adams who won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Become Ocean.

St. Paul's Chapel, located in the long shadow of the World Trade Center is one of the oldest and most historic churches in New York. On Thursday afternoon, the last matinee concert of the annual music series sponsored by Trinity Church featured another historic occasion: the second New York pperformance of Become Ocean, the 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning composition by John Luther Adams. This concert, featuring contemporary orchestra Novus NY under the baton of Trinity Church maestro Julian Wachner, paired Mr. Adams' creation with works by contemporary composers Luna Pearl Woolf  and Jessica Meyer. All three composers were in attendance,
The concert was the penultimate entry in a spring series that conductor Julian Wachner has dubbed “ Sunken Cathedral, a festival exploring compositions centered around the element of water. Mr. Wachner and the Novus forces were arrayed lengthwise in the nave of this small church, with the conductor’s podium facing the glass windows to the north and the altar on his right. The first two works on this program were prefaced with introductory remarks and interviews with their composers.

The concert opened with After the Wave by Ms, Woolf. It started with a lone, faraway trumpet, answered from a seemingly great distance by oboe and English horn, that most desolate sounding of wind instruments. These solo parts formed a four-note row (A-C-E-B natural) from which Ms. Woolf germinated the entire piece. Swelling surges of strings and brass crashed and broke on the senses, at turns meditative and anguished, moaning of irredeemable loss.

It was not loss but transfiguration that inspired composer-violist Jessica Meyer to write Through This We Flow. This is a tone poem for multiple solo string players in the manner of Richard Strauss’ Metamorphosen. However, Ms. Meyer used half toned, diminish nets and strange chords to create a series of unsettling effects. Her low strong players ground their bows, rotating them hard against the the strings of their instruments to create a harsh mechanical sound. She also instructed the players to work their strings, scratching, plucking and snapping them hard in the Bartók style. Arrhythmic col legno taps using the backs of the players bows added to the sense of unease.

These phantasmagorical textures emerged slowly with the growling low strings answered by keening shrieks in th the little squads of violins. An expressive solo for viola (Ms. Meyers own instrument) provided a kind of narrative drive and the work ended on a quiet, fading diminuendo. This was spoiled by the sirens and klaxons of a nearby fire truck, a normal hazard when playing concerts just off Wall Street. Mr. Wachner calmly had his players repeated the last section from the “K” marker in the score. There were no further interruptions.
Mr. Adams' composition took the world by storm two years ago when the Seattle Symphony gave its New York premiere at Carnegie Hall. Here, the piece was performed in a spatial arrangement, with brass players confined to the choir loft and the woodwind ensemble in the apse. The string players remained seated in the middle of the nave. Mr. Wachner sum he'd the three ensembles, working with the benefit of headphones for optimum synchronization.

It is too easy to write of Become Ocean with words like “flooding,” “surging” or “billowing." None of those adjectives do it justice. The effect of this piece is a like 45 minutes in a primitive diving bell, plunging deep into an aquatic sound-world where the sheer weight of volume rushing in from the choirs of brass wind and strings make it impossible to breathe, even as timpani, gran casa and piano batter at the senses, The work is overwhelming and inexorable as the sea, lifting, crashing, and finally dwindling into a pulse of cellos and bass, exactly where isn't started. 

Fri, May 19, 2017

Intoned Absurdity: This Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments
The New York Times

Julian Wachner conducted Novus NY in the final program of its water-themed series at St. Paul’s Chapel on Lower Broadway on Thursday afternoon, and I attended mainly to rehear “Become Ocean,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning work by John Luther Adams. The performance was excellent, but I was also struck by “Through Which We Flow,” a new 15-minute work for strings by Jessica Meyer, a Novus violist. Its departure point was the lovely sound of works like the Dvorak and Tchaikovsky serenades, which Ms. Meyer quickly complicated, by dividing and redividing lines, and roughed up with astringent effects, like a creaking and croaking among the double basses midway through, which was then offset by squealing violins.

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Intoned Absurdity: This Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments

MAY 19, 2017

In addition to reviews, features and news during the week, our critics and reporters collect the best of what they’ve heard: notes that sent shivers down their spines, memorable voices, quotations that cut to the heart of the story.

LEONIDAS KAVAKOS, MAY 18 

Reaching for the Sky

The New York Philharmonic’s artist in residence this season, the violinist Leonidas Kavakos, plays Brahms’s Violin Concerto this weekend. In a Facebook Live concert and interview, he walked us through the first movement: a theme delivered in unison by the orchestra, then developed in typical sonata form in a 24-minute journey full of drama, contemplation and beauty. After the cadenza — a long, virtuosic solo passage written by the great 19th-century violinist Joseph Joachim — there is what Mr. Kavakos calls “a magical moment.” The violin, with a soulful vibrato, reaches higher and higher until it settles on heavenly C-sharp. Brahms, Mr. Kavakos said, “sends the violin up to the sky as the voice of an angel.” JOSHUA BARONE 

Our review of Mr. Kavakos at the Philharmonic will be online Sunday evening and in Monday’s print newspaper.

NATE WOOLEY AND KEN VANDERMARK, MAY 16

Abrasive Yet Sensual

In a somehow both low-key and ferocious evening at Issue Project Room, Mr. Wooley, on trumpet, and Mr. Vandermark, on saxophone and clarinet, made music of casual extremity. When they came together for duos after separate solo sets, Mr. Wooley produced an eerie, memorable moment: Picking up a sheet of metal as he produced a low moan on his trumpet, he scratched it against his instrument. It was a mix of nails on a chalkboard and a whale’s keening call — abrasive yet sensual ZACHARY WOOLFE

METROPOLITAN OPERA, MAY 16

A Met Role, By the Skin of His Teeth

It may well have been the weirdest audition in Met history: The British director Phelim McDermott was looking for a strongman, to be part of the carny milieu of his Coney Island “Così Fan Tutte” next season. Enter Titano Oddfellow, who in a sublime moment asked Mr. McDermott, “Have you ever been bound in leather before?” Muscleman proceeded to lift opera auteur, using only his teeth. ZACHARY WOOLFE

SCHNEIDER CONCERTS, MAY 14

Intoned Absurdity

Luciano Berio, in his seminal 1960 work “Circles” for soprano, harp and two percussionists, explored unusual ways of setting words to music, eerily prolonging syllables and turning verbal sounds into skittish lines that dart and weave. The soprano Tony Arnold gave a mesmerizing performance of the piece at the New School. The moment that grabbed me, though, came when the game percussionists Daniel Druckman and James Baker, while playing various instruments, intoned words from the E.E. Cummings poems Berio sets. And give them credit for making sense of phrases like “starT birDs(lEAp) Openi ng.” ANTHONY TOMMASINI

YOUNG CONCERT ARTISTS GALA, MAY 16

Russian Melancholy, No Show-Off

Young Concert Artists, which has long fostered the careers of emerging talents, ended its 56th season with three exceptional performers as concerto soloists with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Last was the 22-year-old Korean cellist Sang-Eun Lee, who gave a graceful, stylish and subtle account of Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme.” Though her handling of the piece’s difficult passagework was impressive, I was particularly affected by her melting way with the opening of the ruminative sixth variation. Suddenly, this show-off piece for cello had an unexpected moment of Russian melancholy. ANTHONY TOMMASINI

CALIDORE STRING QUARTET, MAY 18

A Cello’s Musical CPR

In the closing stretch of the Calidore Quartet’s atmospheric reading of Ligeti’s String Quartet No. 1, the cello suddenly seemed to malfunction. After a line wilted downward with an exhausted slide, the cellist Estelle Choi allowed her tone to flatline. Then, gradually, the held note seemed to revive through little pulsating additions of vibrato that sounded like musical CPR. Sure enough, the work’s opening motif came back to life; soon after the whole ensemble rallied and carried the piece over the finish line. CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM

KYUNG WHA CHUNG, MAY 18

A Challenge Redoubled

The veteran Korean violin virtuoso, who retired in 2005 because of a hand injury, has been attempting a comeback in recent years. “To this day, I can’t practice, so all my work is done in my head,” Ms. Chung told The Juilliard Journal this month. You could appreciate her bravery in a marathon presentation of all six of Bach’s sonatas and partitas for unaccompanied violin at Carnegie Hall, but not entirely ignore the obvious difficulties involved. Still, trouper that she is, she rose impressively to the biggest moment of all with a stirring reading of the towering Chaconne that concludes the D minor Partita, decidedly more Romantic than Baroque in style yet persuasively delivered. JAMES R. OESTREICH

‘SUNKEN CATHEDRAL,’ MAY 18

Appealing Astringency

Julian Wachner conducted Novus NY in the final program of its water-themed series at St. Paul’s Chapel on Lower Broadway on Thursday afternoon, and I attended mainly to rehear “Become Ocean,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning work by John Luther Adams. The performance was excellent, but I was also struck by “Through Which We Flow,” a new 15-minute work for strings by Jessica Meyer, a Novus violist. Its departure point was the lovely sound of works like the Dvorak and Tchaikovsky serenades, which Ms. Meyer quickly complicated, by dividing and redividing lines, and roughed up with astringent effects, like a creaking and croaking among the double basses midway through, which was then offset by squealing violins. JAMES R. OESTREICH

Fri, May 19, 2017

This week: concerts in New York (May 15, 2017 – May 21, 2017)
I Care if You Listen

The contemporary music orchestra of Trinity Church, NOVUS NY, conducted by Julian Wachner, premieres Jessica Meyer’s Through which we flow as part of the church’s “Sunken Cathedral” series. The series features diverse arrangements of Debussy’s classic and haunting prelude La Cathédrale engloutie, alongside a variety of newer compositions focusing on climate change and water. The program also features John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer and Grammy-winning Become Ocean and Luna Pearl Woolf’s After the Wave.

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This week: concerts in New York (May 15, 2017 – May 21, 2017)

by SAM REISING on May 15, 2017 at 6:00 am

MICHAEL RIESMAN AND ENSEMBLE SIGNAL CELEBRATE PHILIP GLASS | POP-UP CONCERTS

Joined by Doug Perkins and Lauren Radnofsky of Ensemble Signal, Michael Riesman takes to the Miller stage for a program surveying Glass’s legendary opera and film music.
Monday, May 15 at 6:00 PM
Free
Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway, New York, NY

RADICALS IN MINIATURE | AIN GORDON WITH JOSH QUILLEN

Radicals in Miniature is a series of textual-sonic odes to personal icons of 20th century “alternative” culture that lost their toehold on immortality and (in the pre-Internet era) their place in public memory. Radicals is performed by 3-time Obie Award winner Ain Gordon and So Percussion’s Josh Quillen.
Tuesday, May 16 to Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 PM; Sunday, May 21 at 2 PM
Tickets $20
Baryshnikov Arts Center, Howard Gilman Performance Space, 450 West 37th Street, Suite 501, New York, NY

FOR THIS FROM THAT WILL BE FILLED | CLARICE JENSEN AND JONATHAN TURNER

This first-time collaboration between cellist Clarice Jensen and artist Jonathan Turner presents three world-premiere compositions and explores the variable differences between acoustic and electronic sound, and between simulation and the unconscious, through repetition and layering.
Wednesday, May 17 at 7:30 PM
Tickets $15
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street, New York, NY

CONCERTS AT ONE: SUNKEN CATHEDRAL

The contemporary music orchestra of Trinity Church, NOVUS NY, conducted by Julian Wachner, premieres Jessica Meyer’s Through which we flow as part of the church’s “Sunken Cathedral” series. The series features diverse arrangements of Debussy’s classic and haunting prelude La Cathédrale engloutie, alongside a variety of newer compositions focusing on climate change and water. The program also features John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer and Grammy-winning Become Ocean and Luna Pearl Woolf’s After the Wave.
Thursday, May 18 at 1:00 PM
Free
St. Paul’s Chapel, Broadway and Fulton Street, New York, NY

TERRY AND GYAN RILEY

Terry Riley and Gyan Riley come to National Sawdust for a special performance. Longtime music collaborators, this father-son duo of pianist + classical guitarist draws influences from their studies and experiences around the world.
Thursday, May 18 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $35
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

DAY 1 | LOOK + LISTEN FESTIVAL

Helping to usher in the festival’s Opening Night at Pratt Manhattan Gallery is Ione from the Deep Listening Institute who will lead Pauline Oliveros’ The Heart Chant. Hosted by Bill McGlaughlin, the evening’s program features violinist and violist Miranda Cuckson, septet ensemble yMusic performing selections from their latest album, First, composed by Son Lux; and tenor sax quartet Battle Trance is performing an excerpt from Blade of Love.
Thursday, May 18 at 8:00 PM
Free
Pratt Manhattan Gallery, 144 West 14th Street, 2nd floor, New York, NY

DAY 2 | LOOK + LISTEN FESTIVAL

Day 2 of the festival at BRIC is hosted by Lara Pellegrinelli and features So Percussion performing the New York premiere of Paul Lansky’s Springs, as well as Michael Gordon’s Timber, joined by Yarn/Wire percussionists. Yarn/Wire then takes the stage to perform Žibuoklė Martinaityte’s Look + Listen commission, Unique forms of continuity in space. Jen Shyu presents excerpts from her newest solo work, Nine and Look + Listen’s Composer’s Competition winner, Nina C. Young’s Spero Lucern, will be performed by Ensemble Échappé.
Friday, May 19 at 8:00 PM
Free
BRIC, 647 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY

REVOLUTION X3

A concert featuring Sexmob, Jaimeo Brown Transcendence, and the premiere of Beats Per Revolution by Martha Mooke and Rahzel. Featuring a performance of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and an all-star ensemble.
Friday, May 19 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $35-$65
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, New York, NY

PHILIP GLASS’S SYMPHONY NO. 5

The Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Downtown Voices, and NOVUS NY join forces to perform Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5.
Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20 at 8:00 PM
Free
Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street, New York, NY

AERIALITY | ANNA THORVALDSDOTTIR

The New York Philharmonic premieres Anna Thorvaldsdottir’s Aeriality on a concert that also includes the New York premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Wing on Wing featuring sopranos Anu Komsi and Piia Komsi and Brahms’s Violin Concerto performed by Leonidas Kavakos.
Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $19-$104
David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, New York, NY

MARIEL ROBERTS: CARTOGRAPHY, WORKS FOR SOLO CELLO+

Cellist Mariel Roberts explores the outer limits of her instrument as she celebrates the release of her second solo album, Cartography, out May 19 on New Focus Recordings. The program features music by Davi∂ Brynjar Franzson, Cenk Ergün, George Lewis, and Eric Wubbels (who guests on piano).
Friday, May 19 at 7:00 PM
Tickets $25
National Sawdust, 80 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY

IL TRAMONTO: MUSIC OF RESPIGHI, TAKEMITSU, MAHLER, IVES + LASH

Guest soloists Sarah Heltzel (mezzo-soprano), Catherine Gregory (flute), and Melanie Genin (harp) join the String Orchestra of Brooklyn to perform works by Hannah Lash, Respighi, Ives, Takemitsu, and Mahler.
Saturday, May 20 at 8:00 PM
Tickets $16, $11 students/seniors
St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, 157 Montague Street, Brooklyn, NY

DAY 3 | LOOK + LISTEN FESTIVAL

The festival concludes with a program curated and hosted by Terrance McKnight, in partnership with The Studio Museum in Harlem. L+L is delighted to have Craig Harris and The Saints and Aint’s Brass Choir performing selections, along with Carman Moore’s Skymusic Ensemble performing several of his own works, including the gospel themed Think In An New Way.
Sunday, May 21 at 3:00 PM
Free
The Studio Museum, 144 West 125th Street, New York, NY
 

Fri, May 19, 2017

10 Things to Do in NYC Now
The New York Times

Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5 is music of Mahlerian scale, a 100-minute work requiring five solo singers, a choir and a children’s chorus. Mr. Glass doesn’t stint on philosophical ambition in the piece, either, its 12 movements aiming high with titles like “Joy and Love,” “Judgment and Apocalypse,” and “Evil and Ignorance.” Julian Wachner conducts Trinity’s new-music ensemble, with arrayed voices. If you’re feeling brave, the performances, at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, are free.

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10 Things to Do in NYC Now

It’s a big city, with plenty to do, see, hear and watch. Here’s a sampling of cultural highlights this weekend and over the week ahead.

Compiled by LOUIS LUCERO II

MAY 19, 2017

JAZZ

A Steady Vision on Shifting Ground
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah at Zankel Hall

For over a decade, Mr. Scott, 34, has carried his precise and restless vision across shifting terrain. Most recently, he’s been fusing new developments in hip-hop with the linguistics of contemporary jazz and the West African-derived music of New Orleans. All the while, he has maintained a core group of musical associates, working up a productive tension between his fastidious vision and the will of his allies. This year, Mr. Scott will release three albums (“Ruler Rebel” is already out), and on Saturday night he’ll perform some of that new material alongside the flutist Elena Pinderhughes, the alto saxophonist Logan Richardson, the keyboardist Lawrence Fields, the bassist Luques Curtis, the drummer Corey Fonville and the percussionist Themba Mkhatshwa. GIOVANNI RUSSONELLO

DANCE

A Sugar Rush, Then Candied Fever Dreams
American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera

The company continues performances of its first full-length production of the season, “Don Quixote,” staged by Kevin McKenzie and Susan Jones, through Saturday. (Saturday’s evening performance will feature Christine Shevchenko and Thomas Forster in debuts as Mercedes and Espada.) But the spring gala on Monday heralds a new treat: Alexei Ratmansky’s “Whipped Cream,” set to music by Richard Strauss, with whimsical scenery and costumes by the acclaimed pop-surrealist artist Mark Ryden. In the ballet, a young boy samples too many pastries and dreams of Princess Praline and her court. This New York premiere will also be the return of the principal David Hallberg, who has — for too long — been absent from the stage because of injury. He takes on Prince Coffee. GIA KOURLAS

THEATER

Slinking Through Paris, Receding Onstage
‘Amélie’ at the Walter Kerr Theater

This musical about a French gamin finding love, adapted by Craig Lucas, Daniel Messé and Nathan Tysen from the Jean-Pierre Jeunet movie, will steal its final garden gnome on Sunday. Ben Brantley described the production, which stars Phillipa Soo of “Hamilton,” as “pleasant to look at, easy to listen to and oddly recessive. It neither offends nor enthralls.” ALEXIS SOLOSKI

FOR CHILDREN

Tiny Wings in Small Hands
‘Meet the Fledglings With the Wild Bird Fund’ at the New-York Historical Society

Two sets of fledglings will be involved in this adventure: birds, and young humans who may be trying their wings, too. On Saturday, from 2 to 3:30 p.m., the Wild Bird Fund, a Manhattan nonprofit that functions as a wildlife E.R. and rehabilitation center, will show juvenile ducks, starlings, sparrows and pigeons at the society’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum, along with Cal Vornberger’s photographs of some of the more exotic species that call New York home, like the glossy ibis and the snowy egret. Held in conjunction with the society’s exhibition “Big Bird: Looking for Lifesize,” the program will teach visitors about the birds, including the difference between nestlings and fledglings — it’s like that between toddlers and teenagers — and how to rescue one that’s injured. All museumgoers are welcome, but only those 5 and older can take part in this annual event’s biggest attraction: helping to hold and feed some of the young birds. LAUREL GRAEBER

FILM SERIES

New to the Nation, and Sometimes the Planet
Immigrant Songs at the Quad Cinema

This series ventures well beyond the usual coming-to-America stories, like “The Godfather Part II” (Saturday and May 29) and “Moscow on the Hudson” (Tuesday and June 1), in which a Russian circus performer (Robin Williams) defects after visiting Bloomingdale’s. The immigrants here come also from other planets (“Superman,” Tuesday and May 27, and “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” May 27 and 31), though the decision to include fugitive war criminals in the definition might have taken things a step too far. In “The Stranger,” showing on Monday and Wednesday, Orson Welles plays a Nazi in hiding who tips off Edward G. Robinson to his identity when he claims at dinner that Karl Marx was not a German — because he was a Jew. BEN KENIGSBERG

CLASSICAL MUSIC

From Creation to Apocalypse in 100 Minutes
Novus NY at Trinity Wall Street

Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5 is music of Mahlerian scale, a 100-minute work requiring five solo singers, a choir and a children’s chorus. Mr. Glass doesn’t stint on philosophical ambition in the piece, either, its 12 movements aiming high with titles like “Joy and Love,” “Judgment and Apocalypse,” and “Evil and Ignorance.” Julian Wachner conducts Trinity’s new-music ensemble, with arrayed voices. If you’re feeling brave, the performances, at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, are free. DAVID ALLEN

MUSEUMS & GALLERIES

Artifacts That Offer a Fresh Look at Dickinson
‘I’m Nobody! Who are you? The Life and Poetry of Emily Dickinson’ at the Morgan Library & Museum

This is the second-largest gathering ever, anywhere, of prime Dickinson relics, and as such it comes with an aura the size of a city block. It instantly turns the Morgan into a pilgrimage site, a literary Lourdes, a place to come in contact with one aspect of America that truly can claim greatness. And the show, which closes on May 28, has a mission, to give 21st-century audiences a fresh take on Dickinson. Gone is the white-gowned Puritan nun, and the Belle of Amherst, that infantilized charmer. At the Morgan, we get a different Dickinson, a person among people: a member of a household, a village dweller, a citizen. HOLLAND COTTER

POP & ROCK

Anxieties Aired in an Arena
The xx and Sampha at Forest Hills Stadium

You won’t hear bombast from these artists: They make anguished pop that transports solitary anxiety to the dance floor. Their moody restraint has had an influence extending far beyond their own music, influencing the output of acts as varied as Drake and the Chainsmokers. And while their lyrical thrusts are quite different — the xx fights for communal uplift, whereas Sampha wallows in grief — their music is similarly textured and gorgeous. Sampha will open for the xx at these 6:30 p.m. shows on Friday and Saturday. ANDREW R. CHOW

COMEDY

Wordless Antics With an Adhesive Shtick
Tape Face at Gramercy Theater

Tape Face, the alter ego of the New Zealand comedian and mime Sam Wills, was a finalist on the most recent season of “America’s Got Talent.” With tape over his mouth all performance long, he mimes full scenes using props pulled from his messenger bag. Although entirely free of speech, his one-of-a-kind shows — he performs at 8 p.m. on Monday — are far from silent, as he uses musical cues and sound effects to great effect. Tape Face is also known to pull audience members onstage to participate in elaborately goofy and joyful games. ELISE CZAJKOWSKI

MUSEUMS & GALLERIES

Making Mountains Out of Less Than Molehills
‘The Mysterious Landscapes of Hercules Segers’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This exhibition, closing on Sunday, is the largest yet devoted to Segers, an under-known Dutch master whose printmaking innovations, talent for contrasting textures and predilection for rendering each sheet a unique artwork resulted in images that are tantamount to small paintings. They influenced Rembrandt, may qualify as some of the world’s first Process Art, presage Surrealism, and still look strange and radical. Segers loved mountains: It probably helped that he never actually saw one. ROBERTA SMITH

Wed, May 17, 2017

NOVUS NY: Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5
The New Yorker

An ambitious run of spring programming at Trinity Church wraps up with a performance of one of Glass’s grandest works, a hopeful, evening-length piece for voices and orchestra (subtitled “Requiem, Bardo, Nirmanakaya”) that draws on religious texts from several world traditions. In a smaller-scale midday event on Thursday, at St. Paul’s Chapel, Julian Wachner and his outstanding players offer a welcome performance of John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, “Become Ocean,” in addition to works by Jessica Meyer (a world première) and Luna Pearl Woolf.

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GOINGS ABOUT TOWN

CLASSICAL MUSIC ORCHESTRAS AND CHORUSES

NOVUS NY: Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5

Photograph by Eamonn McCabe / Camera Press / Redux

An ambitious run of spring programming at Trinity Church wraps up with a performance of one of Glass’s grandest works, a hopeful, evening-length piece for voices and orchestra (subtitled “Requiem, Bardo, Nirmanakaya”) that draws on religious texts from several world traditions. In a smaller-scale midday event on Thursday, at St. Paul’s Chapel, Julian Wachner and his outstanding players offer a welcome performance of John Luther Adams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning piece, “Become Ocean,” in addition to works by Jessica Meyer (a world première) and Luna Pearl Woolf.

May 18 at 1; May 19-20 at 8.

Trinity Church

Broadway at Wall St.

Downtown

212-602-0848

Mon, May 15, 2017

The Shimmering Nebulae of Paola Prestini’s ‘Hubble Cantata’
WQXR

And the project’s other collaborators are no less – and there is no other word for them – stellar. The libretto is by Royce Vavrek, the wordsmith behind the 21st-century’s most acclaimed American operas (Breaking the Waves, Dog Days), and soprano Jessica Rivera’s passionate solos transmute the scientific stuff of the text into pure theater. Baritone Nathan Gunn’s voice reminds you why he is one of opera’s biggest names, and Julian Wachner steers not only his own Washington Chorus and Novus NY but also the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Norwegian string ensemble 1B1 through Prestini’s shimmering nebulae of sound.

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Q2 Music Album of the Week

The Shimmering Nebulae of Paola Prestini's 'Hubble Cantata'

May 15, 2017 · by Daniel Stephen Johnson

Paola Prestini is more than a composer. Co-founder of the production company VisionIntoArt (VIA) and its recording offshoot VIA Records, her latest institutional triumph is National Sawdust, the audiophile listening venue in Williamsburg that instantly became Brooklyn's not-just-classical hotspot.

And her new VIA Records release, The Hubble Cantata, is a more than a piece of music. It is a new kind of collaboration: a nexus of art and science. 

On the scientific side, the piece features spoken narration by astrophysicist Mario Livio, exploring the place of Earth and its passengers among the stars and generally asking the Big Questions provoked by our view of the heavens. A stereo recording, unfortunately, cannot fully convey the 3D virtual reality sound – designed by Arup, the same firm that created the acoustics of National Sawdust and, among other high-profile projects, New York's new Second Avenue Subway – that accompany live performances of the work, but vestiges of the experience remain in the atmospheric electronic elements of the score.

And the project's other collaborators are no less – and there is no other word for them – stellar. The libretto is by Royce Vavrek, the wordsmith behind the 21st-century's most acclaimed American operas (Breaking the Waves, Dog Days), and soprano Jessica Rivera's passionate solos transmute the scientific stuff of the text into pure theater. Baritone Nathan Gunn's voice reminds you why he is one of opera's biggest names, and Julian Wachner steers not only his own Washington Chorus and Novus NY but also the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Norwegian string ensemble 1B1 through Prestini's shimmering nebulae of sound. 

For a piece that explicitly takes as its subject the seeming insignificance of mankind against the sublime and infinite expanses of outer space, The Hubble Cantata's focus is very much on the human. This studio recording is not awash in reverb but as raw and clear as a live recording, allowing us to hear the minutest details of these terrestrial voices as they lead us on a voyage through the stars.

Paola Prestini: The Hubble Cantata
VIA Records | Released May 19, 2017 | Available on iTunes

Mon, May 15, 2017

Julian Wachner leads his last concert as music director of Washington Chorus
The Washington Post

Wachner brought a somewhat different approach to D.C.’s choral landscape. Rather than seeking a life partner in an ensemble, he made no secret of wanting to continue his career as a composer and conductor of other orchestras and operas. His innovations included a series devoted to new music, a series on prominent composers not mainly known for their choral works (Bernstein, Wagner, Mahler) and significant contemporary works. He also had a populist flair, manifest in his exuberant carol arrangements for the chorus’s popular Christmas concerts. But partway through Wachner’s Washington Chorus tenure, a new post at New York’s Trinity Wall Street emerged as an even better vehicle for his disparate interests. In New York, he has become a darling of the new-music scene and early-music scene at the same time, while marrying and starting a family. His official departure from D.C. is a natural step.

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Julian Wachner leads his last concert as music director of Washington Chorus

Julian Wachner is leaving the Washington Chorus after 10 years as its music director. Replacing him is Scotland-based conductor Christopher Bell.

By Anne Midgette May 15, 2017

When Julian Wachner arrived in Washington to head the Washington Chorus, he was seething with unfocused energy: a man with a lot to prove. On Sunday, nearly 10 years later, he led his valedictory performance as the chorus’s music director. It was in many ways a typical Wachner performance — big and ambitious, pairing two 20th-century works with roots in the distant past, Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex” and Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” But Wachner has less to prove now, and this was an amicable parting. The chorus announced his successor, the acclaimed Scotland-based conductor Christopher Bell , earlier this week.

Wachner brought a somewhat different approach to D.C.’s choral landscape. Rather than seeking a life partner in an ensemble, he made no secret of wanting to continue his career as a composer and conductor of other orchestras and operas. His innovations included a series devoted to new music, a series on prominent composers not mainly known for their choral works (Bernstein, Wagner, Mahler) and significant contemporary works. He also had a populist flair, manifest in his exuberant carol arrangements for the chorus’s popular Christmas concerts. But partway through Wachner’s Washington Chorus tenure, a new post at New York’s Trinity Wall Street emerged as an even better vehicle for his disparate interests. In New York, he has become a darling of the new-music scene and early-music scene at the same time, while marrying and starting a family. His official departure from D.C. is a natural step. 

Wachner leaves the chorus in good shape. It sounded fine Sunday, joining with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington in Stravinsky’s pounding, archaic lines, while the exuberant orchestra — Wachner is never too quiet — often all but drowned out the soloists. Margaret Lattimore was a clean, silvery Jocasta, firm and clear of tone in contrast to the men: Vale Rideout, who sang the tough role of Oedipus; Christopher Burchett, in several roles; and Morris Robinson, as a stentorian and deluxe Tiresias, all sounded a little furry.

“Oedipus” offers dark austerity; “Carmina Burana,” bright austerity. Wachner brought a fluidity and verve to this familiar piece, emphasizing less the work’s powerful sound than its sensuality and theatricality. The Children’s Chorus of Washington and the boy and girl choristers of Washington National Cathedral sang angelically from the top balcony at the back of the hall, while the tenor Robert Baker rose from a side box and moved around the stage, singing plangently in the role of a roasting swan. The soprano Colleen Daly showed a mezzo-tinted lower register rising to a wonderful warm top.

Wachner takes up a lot of space, drawing the spotlight; Bell, his successor, may offer a more conventional approach. But the chorus was perhaps able to snare someone of Bell’s international stature because Wachner has elevated its profile. Sunday’s farewell was a happy goodbye between two parties looking forward to new beginnings — as smooth a transition as an organization can have. In a few days, Wachner will be back at the Kennedy Center, conducting a multimedia new-music project from New York, “The Hubble Cantata.” Washington won’t lose sight of him in the years ahead. 

Fri, May 12, 2017

A Valiant Return to the Met Opera: This Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments
The New York Times

“It will look sloppy but sound cool,” Julian Wachner said in remarks before the music began. Because of an unexpected demand for seats, Mr. Wachner’s performance of Monteverdi’s magnificent “1610 Vespers” on the composer’s 450th birthday with this excellent choir and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra had been relocated a day before from tiny St. Paul’s Chapel on lower Broadway to Trinity Church, and quick adjustments had to be made for the new space. One was to mingle the singers cheek by jowl among the instrumentalists and push the whole to either side to achieve the proper antiphonal effect in “Nisi Dominus.” Like so much else in the performance, it was not only cool but also captivating.

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A Valiant Return to the Met Opera: This Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments

MAY 12, 2017

JENNIFER ROWLEY, MAY 5

The Other Mathilde

One soprano’s illness is another soprano’s shot at a breakthrough. Jennifer Rowley was originally an understudy for Patricia Racette as Roxane in Franco Alfano’s “Cyrano de Bergerac” at the Metropolitan Opera, but Ms. Racette withdrew because of an abdominal hernia. Ms. Rowley didn’t get the same opportunity last fall as the understudy for Marina Rebeka, who never missed a performance as Mathilde in Rossini’s “Guillaume Tell.” But in a Facebook Live concert and interview with us, Ms. Rowley sang “Pour notre amour,” a challenging aria from that opera, to offer a glimpse of the Mathilde we could have seen. JOSHUA BARONE

ISRAELI CHAMBER PROJECT, MAY 9

Diplomatic Harp

The harp is a diplomatic instrument: There is something about its sound, so clear in its attack and so graceful in its decay, that suggests an openness to other points of view. As such it should be a prized chamber-music companion, a point eloquently made by the harpist Sivan Magen in a sparkling concert of music for mixed ensembles. Some of the most beautiful moments found him at his most self-effacing, like in the gorgeous first Interlude for Harp, Clarinet and Cello by Jacques Ibert, in which Mr. Magen’s pealing chords supported a soaring line in the cello with the clarinet — less heard than felt — adding just a hint of a draft in the melody’s sails. CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM

MET OPERA GALA, MAY 7

A Valiant Return

The Met’s gala concert to celebrate 50 years in its Lincoln Center home was a five-hour cavalcade of stars, hence a long lineup of musical moments, many of them thrilling. The most emotional one, by far, was the surprise appearance of the great baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky. Despite looking shaky from treatments for a brain tumor, he summoned fervor, passion and his distinctively smoky sound in a valiant performance of “Cortigiani” from “Rigoletto.” I was especially moved as well when Pretty Yende joined Eric Owens for a poignant account of the love duet “Bess, you is my woman now” from Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess.” Bring this great work back to the Met! ANTHONY TOMMASINI

ORATORIO SOCIETY OF NEW YORK, MAY 8

Population Explosion

You did not need to be a dogmatic one-voice-per-part minimalist when it comes to Bach choruses to worry that 203 choristers on the Carnegie Hall stage for the Mass in B minor would inevitably inject some chaos into music in which clarity of line and rhythm is all-important. And superb conductor that Kent Tritle is, his amateur chorus suggested the worry was well-founded on Monday evening. Still, in the relatively straightforward and measured “Gratias agimus” (“We give thanks”) of the Gloria. Mr. Tritle elicited a cushioned warmth within a coherent sound that often eluded him elsewhere. JAMES R. OESTREICH

CHOIR OF TRINITY WALL STREET, MAY 9

Cool Becomes Hot

“It will look sloppy but sound cool,” Julian Wachner said in remarks before the music began. Because of an unexpected demand for seats, Mr. Wachner’s performance of Monteverdi’s magnificent “1610 Vespers” on the composer’s 450th birthday with this excellent choir and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra had been relocated a day before from tiny St. Paul’s Chapel on lower Broadway to Trinity Church, and quick adjustments had to be made for the new space. One was to mingle the singers cheek by jowl among the instrumentalists and push the whole to either side to achieve the proper antiphonal effect in “Nisi Dominus.” Like so much else in the performance, it was not only cool but also captivating. JAMES R. OESTREICH

ARTEK, MAY 5

The Dark Fantastic

This early-music group offered an enticing program, “Stylus Fantasticus: The Genius of Biber,” at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, highlighting the unrestrained virtuosity of the violinist Cynthia Freivogel. But what would the “fantastic style” of the time be without a few outlandish quirks, as when the string players put down their bows and strummed along with the bass-baritone Peter Becker, lurking in the background and proclaiming the late hour, in a movement of Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s serenade “The Night Watchman”? (“Bank the fire, bank it well, and praise the Lord God and Our Lady so beloved.”) JAMES R. OESTREICH

MET OPERA GALA, MAY 7

Mezzo’s Melancholy Fog

The Met’s 50th-anniversary gala was nothing but moments: I’ll find it hard forgetting the glowing ping of Javier Camarena’s high Cs, the bronzed nobility of Piotr Beczala, the worn-velvet ease of Stephanie Blythe and David Daniels’ Handel duet, the fearless molasses-y depths of Anna Netrebko’s low notes. But coming at a difficult point in the program — just after Dmitri Hvorostovsky roused the crowd with his dramatic surprise return to the stage — Joyce DiDonato provided a fittingly mellow coda, her voice a melancholy fog in an aria from “Werther.”  ZACHARY WOOLFE

CHIARA STRING QUARTET, MAY 11

Gritty Yet Soulful 

Pierre Jalbert runs through a series of effects In his “Canticle (String Quartet No. 6),” written for the adventuresome Chiara players and given its New York premiere at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: violinists doubling on crotales (small bells), struck or bowed; the cellist caught up in harmonics; violinists and violist using small glass rods as bouncing bows. The work is alternately contemplative and gritty, Mr. Jalbert said from the stage, “reflective of the time we currently live in,” but it ends in utter serenity, in a movement headed “Soulful, mysterious,” with the first violinist bowing a bell and the other players bowing their instruments in a fading pianissimo. JAMES R. OESTREICH

Thu, May 11, 2017

Washington Chorus names new music director
The Washington Post

Just in advance of the final concert of the season on Sunday, the Washington Chorus has named its next music director — and it appears to be an excellent choice. Christopher Bell, 56, a highly esteemed conductor based in Scotland who has led Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival chorus since 2002, will arrive in the fall to replace Julian Wachner, who, as previously announced, will step down at the end of the current season.

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Washington Chorus names new music director

By Anne Midgette May 11 

Just in advance of the final concert of the season on Sunday, the Washington Chorus has named its next music director — and it appears to be an excellent choice. Christopher Bell, 56, a highly esteemed conductor based in Scotland who has led Chicago’s Grant Park Music Festival chorus since 2002, will arrive in the fall to replace Julian Wachner, who, as previously announced, will step down at the end of the current season.

Bell, born in Northern Ireland, has a fairly high-profile career in Scotland, where among other activities he is the artistic director of the National Youth Choir of Scotland, which he co-founded, and chorus master of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus. He has also conducted a raft of major orchestras, particularly in Britain and Northern Ireland, including the London Philharmonic and the Ulster Orchestra. This makes him a fitting successor for Wachner, who also brought orchestral and choral experience to the table.

Bell will move to Washington to make the Washington Chorus a focus. In addition to leading the chorus’s regular-season concerts, he hopes to create something akin to the Project Inclusion initiative he developed with Grant Park, targeting underrepresented youth — in tandem with an educational program in partnership with D.C. Public Schools.

In a laudatory write-up in 2012, the late Chicago critic Andrew Patner reported the kinds of praise that Bell was receiving at Grant Park. Patner said that two of the chorus’s singers said, “He has the best ears in the business. … He misses nothing and knows how to communicate what he hears and what he wants to reach his goal.” Washington audiences may be in for a treat in the months ahead.

Thu, May 11, 2017

Classical Music in NYC This Week
The New York Times

If your John Luther Adams cravings are not fulfilled by the Crossing’s concert on Friday and Alarm Will Sound’s on Sunday, here’s a free lunchtime opportunity to hear “Become Ocean,” his symphonic masterpiece of tone painting, compositional process and ecological awareness, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014. Alongside it, Julian Wachner conducts a premiere from Jessica Meyer and Luna Pearl Woolf’s “After the Wave.”

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Classical Music in NYC This Week

By DAVID ALLEN

MAY 11, 2017

Our guide to the city’s best classical music and opera.

ALARM WILL SOUND at Merkin Concert Hall (May 13, 8:30 p.m.). Alarm Will Sound is one of those ensembles that you simply trust to have put together an interesting and fulfilling concert, whatever it is they are playing. This one, part of the Ecstatic Music Festival, is made up entirely of New York premieres and includes music by Valgeir Sigurdsson, Brian Reitzell, Tyondai Braxton, Matt Rogers and Chris Thompson.
212-501-3330, kaufmanmusiccenter.org

THE CROSSING at St. Michael’s Church (May 12, 7:30 p.m.). “Canticles of the Holy Wind” is one of two major works that this committed contemporary-music choir from Philadelphia has commissioned from John Luther Adams, a composer uncommonly concerned with the relationships between music, nature and humanity. This performance, celebrating a worthy new recording to be released on Cantaloupe Music in June, is part of an Adams series sponsored by Symphony Space. Another notable attraction will be Alarm Will Sound giving the New York premiere of “Ten Thousand Birds,” in Morningside Park at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
212-864-5400, symphonyspace.org

KYUNG WHA CHUNG at Carnegie Hall (May 18, 7:30 p.m.). Something of a cult star, this violinist has been in and out of the public eye of late after a succession of injuries. Here she takes on a challenge that might make lesser violinists sweat: in a single evening, a solo performance of all three of Bach’s violin sonatas, as well as all three of his partitas.
212-247-7800, carnegiehall.org

‘NEW MUSIC, THEN AND NOW’ at the New School (May 14, 2 p.m.). The affordable Schneider Concerts remain a solid deal for more intrepid classical music lovers, and this is a particularly intriguing program. On the first half, the inimitable soprano Tony Arnold sings in two works, Luciano Berio’s “Circles” and Matthew Ricketts’s “Song Cycle.” On the second, the excellent Calidore String Quartet plays Caroline Shaw’s “First Essay: Nimrod” and the premiere of Hannah Lash’s “How to Remember Seeds.”
212-229-5873, newschool.edu

NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC at David Geffen Hall (May 12, 7 p.m.; May 13, 1 and 7 p.m.). The Philharmonic is back on film duty this week, playing John Williams’s famous score to accompany showings of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.” David Newman, the distinguished film composer and conductor, is on the podium.
212-875-5656, nyphil.org

NOVUS NY at St. Paul’s Chapel (May 18, 1 p.m.). If your John Luther Adams cravings are not fulfilled by the Crossing’s concert on Friday and Alarm Will Sound’s on Sunday, here’s a free lunchtime opportunity to hear “Become Ocean,” his symphonic masterpiece of tone painting, compositional process and ecological awareness, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014. Alongside it, Julian Wachner conducts a premiere from Jessica Meyer and Luna Pearl Woolf’s “After the Wave.”
212-602-0800, trinitywallstreet.org

CAROLYN SAMPSON at Alice Tully Hall (May 14, 5 p.m.). “Fleurs” is the title of this soprano’s recital with the pianist Joseph Middleton, and the bouquet blooms with myriad composers: Schumann, Britten, Fauré, Schubert, Strauss, Poulenc, Hahn, Chabrier and more. There are even a couple of rarities in the bunch, namely songs by Roger Quilter and Lili Boulanger.
212-721-6500, lcgreatperformers.org

Tue, May 9, 2017

Washington Chorus Plans Epic Send-Off for Julian Wachner
On Tap Magazine

After about a decade at the helm of the Washington Chorus, music director Julian Wachner will conduct his last official performance with the group on May 14 during their season finale concert at the Kennedy Center.

Wachner will go out with a bang, however, as the Washington Chorus will be joined onstage by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, the Children’s Chorus of Washington, and the Washington National Cathedral Boy and Girl Choristers. The program will feature Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Igor Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex.

“It’s going to be an incredible performance with so many forces onstage, and another 80 extra men up there,” Wachner says. “Carmina Burana is such a popular and well-known piece, and doing Oedipus Rex on Mother’s Day brings sort of a primitive feel to it. I think it’s a great combination of pieces.”

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Washington Chorus Plans Epic Send-Off for Julian Wachner

May 9, 2017/in Music /by Keith Loria

After about a decade at the helm of the Washington Chorus, music director Julian Wachner will conduct his last official performance with the group on May 14 during their season finale concert at the Kennedy Center.

Wachner will go out with a bang, however, as the Washington Chorus will be joined onstage by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, the Children’s Chorus of Washington, and the Washington National Cathedral Boy and Girl Choristers. The program will feature Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Igor Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex.

“It’s going to be an incredible performance with so many forces onstage, and another 80 extra men up there,” Wachner says. “Carmina Burana is such a popular and well-known piece, and doing Oedipus Rex on Mother’s Day brings sort of a primitive feel to it. I think it’s a great combination of pieces.”

Featured singers in the concert include soprano Colleen Daly, mezzo soprano Margaret Lattimore, tenor Vale Rideout, tenor Robert Baker, baritone Christopher Burchett and bass Morris Robinson. NPR’s Ari Shapiro will serve as guest narrator. The secret to conducting so many voices at one time, Wachner says, is maintaining a zen-like calm.

“When you add the orchestra into it, it’s really several hundred people, and you have to get everybody around a singular artistic vision,” he says. “There’s the basic, practical aspect of how you get people to start and stop together, but then you have to move on to how to get everyone to make an artistic statement together. It’s mostly through gesture and coercion and will.”

The show starts at 5 p.m. at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

“The reason I chose Carmina Burana as my finale is I had never conducted it before, which is a weird thing for a conductor because it is so popular, and I wanted my chance,” Wachner says. “It’s secular in nature and helps us fill the hall with ticket sales because it’s a piece everyone loves.”

And although the season will officially end with that performance, a 100-person choir from the group will gather once more on May 24 to sing in the Hubble Cantata, a new work of music by New York-based composer Paola Prestini. The performance features opera stars Nathan Gunn and Talise Travigne, plus a 20-piece instrumental ensemble.

Wachner says it combines a narrative of a couple experiencing loss with the life and death of a star, and audience members will be given cardboard virtual reality headsets so they can view actual images of a voyage through the universe (as long as they download an app first).

“It’s about an astronomer and his wife, and is the tale of two lovers all wrapped up in life’s discoveries and the universe,” he says. “It’s a very forward-looking piece; very lyrical and is scored for two soloists, a child choir, an adult choir and then adds the VR experience, which is mind-blowing. It’s something truly special.”

In addition to conducting the Washington Chorus, Wachner is music director of Trinity Wall Street in New York and leads the church choir, the Trinity Baroque Orchestra and the contemporary music ensemble Novus NY. He also has an incredibly busy schedule of guest-conducting appearances, which all combined led to his exiting the choir.

“I will miss the energy and vitality that volunteer music making can offer. It’s been an incredible turn, and I’ve been very pleased with the process. We knew this was coming for awhile. We are all parting as friends, and I’m looking forward to continuing relationships with the people here as I move away.”

Fri, May 5, 2017

A Chorus Ball: Julian Wachner Fêted by The Washington Chorus
PatrickDMcCoy.com

There are certainly many galas on the DC arts scene with some of the most amazing venues in the city to choose from.  But The Washington Chorus took it to the next level as they honored music director Julian Wachner in the entire nave of Washington National Cathedral.  From the impressive lightening to the elegant place settings that lined the center of the cathedral it was truly an evening of opulence that was certainly well-deserved…

...Julian Wachner will leave a rich choral legacy in the fabric of Washington. Innovative programming, creative performances and accessibility has all been hallmarks of his tenure.  So what’s next?  We eagerly await to see what’s next on the horizon for this brilliant Maestro.  But we also bid a bittersweet farewell in a few months to a breath of fresh air on the DC music scene.

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A Chorus Ball: Julian Wachner Fêted by The Washington Chorus

May 5, 2017 

10th and Final Season:  The extraordinary 10 year tenure of music director Julian Wachner was honored in grand style by The Washington Chorus with a spectacular gala in the entire nave of Washington National Cathedral.

by Patrick D. McCoy

There are certainly many galas on the DC arts scene with some of the most amazing venues in the city to choose from.   But The Washington Chorus took it to the next level as they honored music director Julian Wachner in the entire nave of Washington National Cathedral.  From the impressive lightening to the elegant place settings that lined the center of the cathedral it was truly an evening of opulence that was certainly well-deserved.

Ardent supporters of The Washington Chorus packed the gala event themed “A Chorus Ball.”  The evening featured a cocktail reception, seated dinner and ended with a dance party.  It was an amazing journey down memory lane as Wachner was ‘roasted’ by friends including Executive Director Emerita Dianne Peterson,  the Honorable Jan Lodal and Elizabeth Lodal and longtime friend Beth Morrison.

A stunning evening certainly in gala fashion, music was at the core.  The composer Paola Prestini curated a special excerpt from her “Hubble Cantata” sung by members of the chorus with organist Janet Yieh, who was recently named among the 20 under 30 by The Diapason, a respected publication devoted to the pipe organ and sacred music.  In the midst of the celestial projections, the beautiful lighting and the grand space, the music was certainly transportive and ethereal in nature.

Executive Director Chase Maggiano set the stage in regards to Wachner’s role in the chorus’ present education initiatives that foster music in the public schools.  Those programs include the Junior Washington Chorus, the Side by Side program which allows a talented high school choir to perform alongside the choir on the stages of The Kennedy Center and the Music Center at Strathmore.  Most recently was The Washington Chorus’ partnering with DC Public Schools to form the DC Honors Chorus and to have an pivotal role in the choral music curriculum of DC  Public Schools.  A touching moment was when Maggiano invited all of those who teach or mentor to stand and be recognized.  In Wachner’s remarks of thanks and gratitude, he likened his own relationship with his singers in The Washington Chorus to a proud teacher, especially as he recalled his late teacher and friend Lukas Foss, with whom he enjoyed a similar relationship.

Julian Wachner will leave a rich choral legacy in the fabric of Washington. Innovative programming, creative performances and accessibility has all been hallmarks of his tenure.  So what’s next?  We eagerly await to see what’s next on the horizon for this brilliant Maestro.  But we also bid a bittersweet farewell in a few months to a breath of fresh air on the DC music scene.

Fri, May 5, 2017

Singing ‘Happy 450th Birthday’ to Monteverdi
The New York Times

The 105-minute “Vespro Della Beata Vergine” (“Vespers of the Blessed Virgin”), to give its full title, was long a musicological minefield, rife with conflagrations over its origin, nature and purpose. “To perform it is to court disaster,” the pioneering Monteverdi scholar Denis Arnold once wrote of the many interpretive decisions and conjectures that have to be made before a sound is even produced.

Yet performers have championed the work as never before in the seven years since its 400th anniversary, and none of the musicological disputes (which have in any case cooled a bit) need deter listeners if the work is in trusted hands. It will be on Tuesday, when Julian Wachner conducts the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the Trinity Youth Chorus and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra at St. Paul’s Chapel on lower Broadway, and on Wednesday, when the same forces take the performance to the Cathedral Basilica in Philadelphia.

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MUSIC | CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK
Singing ‘Happy 450th Birthday’ to Monteverdi

By JAMES R. OESTREICH

MAY 5, 2017

It seems logical and simple enough: a performance of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers on Tuesday, the composer’s 450th birthday. Logical, yes; simple, not entirely.

The 105-minute “Vespro Della Beata Vergine” (“Vespers of the Blessed Virgin”), to give its full title, was long a musicological minefield, rife with conflagrations over its origin, nature and purpose. “To perform it is to court disaster,” the pioneering Monteverdi scholar Denis Arnold once wrote of the many interpretive decisions and conjectures that have to be made before a sound is even produced.

Yet performers have championed the work as never before in the seven years since its 400th anniversary, and none of the musicological disputes (which have in any case cooled a bit) need deter listeners if the work is in trusted hands. It will be on Tuesday, when Julian Wachner conducts the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, the Trinity Youth Chorus and the Trinity Baroque Orchestra at St. Paul’s Chapel on lower Broadway, and on Wednesday, when the same forces take the performance to the Cathedral Basilica in Philadelphia.

The work was originally published along with a Mass and dedicated to Pope Paul V, perhaps in a vain bid for a job at the Vatican. The conductor Andrew Parrott called it a sort of “do-it-yourself Vespers kit” for choir directors.

Its main body consists of five polyphonic psalm settings — each, evidently, to be preceded by a chanted antiphon devoted to Mary or appropriate to the liturgical season, and each followed by a so-called sacred concerto or sonata. The work ends with a hymn, “Ave Maris Stella,” and a canticle, “Magnificat.” But it is never more striking than at its beginning.

Monteverdi showed in his first surviving opera, “Orfeo” (1607), that he knew how to grab an audience by its collective lapels with a brilliant Toccata, a fanfare twice repeated.

He opens the Vespers with a versicle and a response that draws on the same fanfare material, and he sets the full chorus over it, singing the text almost entirely on a single pitch, until he adds a slightly more elaborate “Alleluia” at the end.

The score is stunning in its variety, in both solo and polyphonic writing. Monteverdi adds another theatrical touch in “Audi coelum,” a sacred concerto for one voice and an echoing partner.

And after the final psalm setting, he breaks the repeating pattern, with what he calls a sonata, rather than a concerto.

Here, again, he places a vocal overlay, this time occurring at irregular intervals and in shifting, sometimes syncopated rhythms. The text, scored for soprano, consists entirely of a repeated sentence: “Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis” (“Holy Mary, pray for us”). It is sometimes sung solo, or in unison by a small group of sopranos, and sometimes by massed sopranos, whether women or boys.

And this is indeed one of the great joys of the Vespers, that with so much left to the imaginations of the performers, virtually every rendition differs substantially from every other. The excerpts included in the version of this article online are from a 2014 performance at Versailles by John Eliot Gardiner and his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists. Mr. Wachner’s choices in a small chapel will — count on it — prove radically different.

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