Words AND Deeds
Many classical music organizations have voiced support and change because of last summer’s racial reckoning. Opera Theatre Of St. Louis acted fast to put action in their words with their Clayco Future Leaders Fellowship. Three people, including Texan Lyanne Alvarado, (Photo above left) were chosen and are learning how to manage an opera company. General Director of Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Andrew Jorgensen (Photo above right) says applications will be out soon for next year’s fellows.
February 19, 2021
The Catalyst Quartet, a Grammy Award-winning group founded by the Sphinx Organization 11 years ago, is on a mission. They’ve just released the first of four volumes of music written by Black composers. On Volume one of Uncovered, they focus on the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. They’re also getting heavy assists from pianist Stewart Goodyear and clarinetist Anthony McGill, the first African-American to be named the principal clarinet of the New York Philharmonic. The members say this is not a reaction to the events of 2020 because they’ve been working on performing this work for almost 3 years.
Celebrating Today’s Black Composers
February 14, 2021
Every year the Austin Chamber Music Center presents a Black History concert. This year, it’s called Celebration. A title, the curator and pianist Artina McCain says reflects a program featuring some fresh new composers and musicians of color.
Change Comes Only If
February 6, 2021
The 9th year of the Colour of Music Festival comes amid a promised change in the classical music community. Lee Pringle, the Founder and Artistic Director of the festival says this year, he was especially proud to present the works of African-American composers and musicians performing some of the standard repertoire. He’s wondering what may come in the wider classical music community in the years ahead.
Dreams Of A New Day
January 31, 2021
Sometimes closing our eyes and listening, rather than looking at a screen can be the better choice. In this particular Black History Month, Baritone Will Liverman releases an album of songs by Black composers. Dreams Of A New Day features the works of some contemporary composers of color along with the work of an older generation.
The Uplifting Message Ending A Terrible Year
2020 is extremely similar to another tough year that ended 52 years ago with an uplifting and spiritual message from space. The astronauts aboard Apollo 8 delivered their Christmas message while orbiting the moon. A message heard in the historic re-telling of the mission in the documentary First to the Moon: The Journey of Apollo 8 with a soundtrack composed by Alexander Bornstein.
Why Not Create a Personal Music Playlist For Your Loved One?
It is entirely possible that you won’t be able to spend the holidays with a loved one who’s in a nursing home or otherwise being treated for cognitive decline. Music and Memory, a group dedicated to helping these patients re-engage by using music, says you should create a playlist just for your special person as a gift. Here is a link to the video of the Prima Ballerina with Alzheimer’s listening to Swan Lake and starts to dance in her wheelchair.
As we move deeper into the difficulties 2020 has brought us, one New York based opera company is doing a deep dive into its programming. Heartbeat Opera has produced a 6 part visual album highlighting the music of Black composers. It’s called Breathing Free.
Opera Starts With Oh!
One Washington, DC and New York based opera company, Opera Lafayette, is introducing pre-schoolers to the basics of opera. The program, Opera Starts With Oh! was originally an in person program but the pandemic forced them to move it online. Now it’s more popular than ever. Everywhere.
The Met, The Van Cliburn And Artist Relief
Citing health concerns, at least two classical music organizations have made a difficult decision about their programming. The Met Opera and The Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. There is some some good news from the Artist Relief Fund.
The Light Bulb Went Off In The Wrong Brain
While we’re being told to wash our hands as often as possible, there’s an opera that tells the tale of the 19th century doctor who could not convince his colleagues to lather up to protect their patients. It’s called Semmelweis and it’s about Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis of Hungary who’s revolutionary idea landed him in an insane asylum. In this extended version of Staccato, hear from the composer Raymond Lustig.