The Music Borne Of Wildfires And Melting Glaciers
This year, for the second year in a row, the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, California went virtual. It means that if you missed any of the new music at last month’s festival, you can still see it online. One composer, Sean Shepherd, premiered his new work about the environment. It was sort of a sequel to an earlier work that took a dark view of our days ahead. There is also an “artist rendition” of Shepherd’s pieces, Melt and Sprout.
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!!
It’s A Very Special Season For Texas Performing Arts
Texas Performing Arts on the University of Texas – Austin campus is celebrating 40 Years On The 40 Acres and a $3 million dollar renovation with a variety of programs for its 40th year. The new Executive and Artistic Director Bob Bursey curated his first season with the 40 year old presenting organization. He says he wanted to fill the calendar with returning performing arts groups and those who are new.
Variations, Reflections and Responses to America The Beautiful
The Independence Day holiday is often the kickoff for family vacations, road trips and the like. Especially this year. One pianist, Min Kwon, decided to celebrate the holiday with a premiere of works composed on the theme of America The Beautiful. She marshaled 75 composers to write their own take on the patriotic tune in what she called the America/Beautiful Project, now on You Tube.
Something For The Kids To Do On The Long Holiday Trip
This may very well be the first time families can celebrate the July 4th holiday week, together, in over a year. Those traveling with children may need something to keep them occupied during a long trip. Two animated programs may help. Let’s Make An Opera from the Bergen National Opera in Norway is a fun music drenched animated program all about making an opera. There’s also Classics Explained, a simple telling of the lives and music of classical composers like Igor Stravinsky.
It’s been a tough year and a half for just about everyone. Classical music organizations are no different. The League of American Orchestras recently held its 2021 virtual conference to take a look at the orchestral landscape after the trials of 2020. So how does it look for the Austin, Texas Symphony?
Out Of Depression – A Win
Many people suffer from depression, made worse by the pandemic. One young composer from Mexico used it to propel her to write a piece naming her mental illness and putting it to music. Jimena Palma de Gyvés’ work, Distimia, won the 2021 String Quartet Smackdown from Golden Hornet.
Music On The Moon
When astronauts return to the moon in a few years, they won’t be alone on Earth’s barren satellite. There will be a disc of music there created by The Earthling Project from SETI. The creator of the project, composer and conductor Felipe Perez Santiago calls it the sounds of humanity. He’s also looking for more voices to join the project.
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.