Quinn Mason And Lara Downes Creating Separately and Together
Sometimes there’s a meeting of the minds and hearts between classical artists. In this case, Quinn Mason, the young and fast rising composer and conductor and the experienced pianist, and producer and Classical Woman Of The Year, Lara Downes. Mason and Downes have formed sort of a loose partnership.
The Gold Standard
Even though composer William Grant Still wrote nearly 200 compositions, many of not most of them have never been recorded. That changed with the new album “William Grant Still” performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra on the Naxos label. Conductor Avlana Eisenberg was encouraged to record this album by her mother – a violinist. Eisenberg and Still’s granddaughter Celeste Headlee curated and produced the album.
Conductor Avlana Eisenberg and Celeste Headlee with her Grandfather William Grant Still and today
Fleischmann For The Win
If you don’t know who wrote the libretto to your favorite opera, perhaps it’s time you did. Acclaimed librettist Mark Campbell feels so strongly about that, that he created and funded the prize, the Opera America Campbell Opera Librettist Prize. This year, it went to Stephanie Fleischmann who’s written the words to more than 20 musical pieces over her long career.
Backstage at the Cliburns with MC Artina McCain
The recently concluded Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth had many moving parts. To keep things running smoothly and an eager audience informed, they hired classical pianist Dr. Artina McCain. In addition to her busy touring schedule, she’s a Professor of Piano at the University of Memphis. Dr. McCain was the Mistress of Ceremonies. She says it turned out to be a tough but fun job.
And because her outfits got so much attention, here are a few photos of the many looks she wore during the competition.
Photos of Dr. Artina McCain courtesy of Culture Map Fort Worth.
The Busiest Classical Music Composer In America
The New York Times called composer Jessie Montgomery the “future of classical music”. She was gobsmacked by that, even though orchestras all over the country are clamoring to play her works. The Austin Symphony will perform one of her pieces in November. In addition, she’s on a three year assignment with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as their Mead Composer in Residence. This makes her one of the busiest classical composers in America.
New Music USA Encouraging Orchestral Collaborations
New Music USA, a group advocating for new music discoveries in the United States is upping the ante for the nation’s orchestras. Their program Amplifying Voices has 30 orchestras collaborating to co-commission works by 9 composers of color. Vanessa Reed, the President and CEO of New Music USA says they’re trying to expand the canon of classical music.
He Heard Music From Another Place And Time
A pianist who’s worked with opera singers, rock bands and jazz musicians was shocked when he heard the music of Armenian folk songs. Joel A. Martin was shocked because he’d never heard this music before and he immediately fell in love with it. So much so that he arranged some of the tunes that were written down by Komitas Vartapet nearly 90 years ago. The album is called Jazzical Komitas.
A First For KMFA: A Composer In Residence
KMFA, Austin’s classical music radio station, would like you to meet its first ever Draylen Mason Composer in Residence. He is Quinn Mason of Dallas. He already has a long resume at the age of 25. KMFA introduced him to the public last week in the Draylen Mason Studio with a performance of a few of his compositions by Invoke. Listen to the unusual story of how he got to where he is now and where he’s going.
DuBois Credo: Two Versions Set To Music
The Grammy winning choral group, Conspirare, is celebrating Black History Month with two concerts focusing on the words of African-American activist W.E.B. DuBois. He wrote his Credo in 1904. Composer Margaret Bonds put it to music. In another program, Conspirare will sing composer Benedict Sheehan’s new movement, honoring DuBois’ words, to his Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom.
Sheku & Isata Kanneh-Mason on their pandemic MUSE
There is still some music to mine from the pandemic. The brother and sister team of cellist Sheku and pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason of England, recorded a new album because they could no longer tour. It’s called Muse and includes at least one work that isn’t played very often.
Remembering Mass 50 Years Later
The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC is celebrating its 50th anniversary. With it comes memories of MASS, the Leonard Bernstein production that opened the Kennedy Center in 1971. There are at least two prominent members of the classical music community in Austin, Texas who saw the original production. Ann Hume Wilson, President and General Manager of Austin’s classical music radio station KMFA and Austin Symphony conductor Peter Bay. Both have very fond memories of the event and one of them tells some stories out of school!!
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.