Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 7:35 pm
Tuesday night the rising R&B star Frank Ocean did something important. At first, however, few observers agreed on what he'd done. Headlines varied on quickly assembled gossip reports, from the measured to the hyperbolic.
This album contained music composed for clarinet and wind orchestra by David Loeb a contemporary composer of Japanese music. The CD spans 16 years in three separate compositions, and not until I had started listening to the album did I expect to hear the growth and confidence that Loeb now has in composing for wind orchestra.
The barn reeked of mildew, wet wood in 90 degrees, an odious perfume with which I was familiar from a childhood in a Long Island canal town peppered with planked houses. I opened my instrument's case to see the hygrometer's needle stuck on the highest humidity level: assurance that my first professional-grade violin would not crack, or, to the great aural pleasure of Katja, my radiant Austrian stand partner with superb pitch, remain in tune.
A black arm band is a gesture of mourning around the world. But for aboriginals in Australia it has come to mean something else.
The "black arm band view of history" is a version of history that takes a critical — some would say militant — analysis of Anglo-Australia's mistreatment of indigenous people. Much like American Indians, indigenous Australians — who've lived on their continent for at least 40,000 years — have had their land stolen, treaties broken, and children taken away.
Aaron Copland is considered one of America's greatest composers. Among his most famous works is a tribute to an iconic figure in American history. In 1942, Copland wrote A Lincoln Portrait, which features a full orchestra playing while a narrator reads excerpts from Lincoln's speeches and other writings.
It's so rare for a new opera — let alone a new American opera — to be recorded even once. But few new operas have been so rapturously received as Jake Heggie's Dead Man Walking, which recounts the true story of a Catholic nun, Sister Helen Prejean, and the convicted rapist and double murderer Joseph De Rocher before he was executed by the state of Louisiana.
This summer, while athletes prepare for the Olympic Games in London, music lovers are getting ready for the "Olympics of Choral Music." Officially called the World Choir Games, this Herculean singing competition features hundreds of choirs from around the world. This year is the first time it will be held in the U.S. — in Cincinnati, starting Wednesday.
Catherine Roma, conductor of women's choir MUSE, says her philosophy is more about musical excellence than competition. After witnessing the 2010 Choral Olympics in China, she saw something that surprised her.
Originally published on Wed September 26, 2012 12:39 pm
Brooklyn-born Aaron Copland was an American original in more ways than one. It's not just his music, with its openness and simple elegance. It's that he expected ballet dancers to act like cowboys, pianists to play blues and orchestra players to accompany political speechmaking. His Lincoln Portrait, composed during World War II, matches words from our 16th president with symphonic music.