April 25, 2013 |
NEW YORK - Five years in the making, star baritone Nathan Gunn's high-concept, high-style recital Wednesday at Carnegie Hall's Zankel auditorium could be heard as a precursor of his leading role in Jennifer Higdon's forthcoming Civil War-era opera Cold Mountain , co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and the Santa Fe Opera. The Anglo-American program concluded with Dooryard Bloom , a 25-minute Higdon work for baritone and orchestra that's among her best, heard here in the premiere of a new version replacing full orchestra with the Pacifica Quartet and pianist Julie Gunn, the singer's wife.
January 16, 2013 |
The supremacy of the violin and piano repertoire is such that we're taught not to expect much good solo stuff for instruments such as clarinet. Yet a musician of Ricardo Morales' caliber can't just live on the works written when Mozart, Brahms, and Debussy paid momentary attention to the instrument. So almost all of the music played by the Philadelphia Orchestra principal clarinetist and pianist Natalie Zhu Monday at the American Philosophical Society was new to seasoned ears - even to Jennifer Higdon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer who heard her 201 2 Clarinet Sonata for the first time.
January 13, 2013
Sunday Cage quartet A highlight of January's John Cage festival is a first-ever gathering of four eminent performers of the composer's works - Pauline Oliveros , Christian Wolff , Michael Pisaro , and Keith Rowe - playing 1990's Four6 . The work, scored for a quartet with "any way of producing sounds," invites the players to each choose and number 12 sounds that they are willing to make, and to begin and end them sometime during a set of fixed durations....
April 24, 2012 |
If the Curtis Institute is about achieving greatness in various forms, an essential part of that would have to be experiencing the pitfalls that are everywhere in the symphonic repertoire. Nothing dire happened when the Curtis Symphony Orchestra played Jennifer Higdon, Brahms, and Bartok under Robert Spano Monday at the Kimmel Center; the showcase element of the concert was delivered with swaggering confidence. But that doesn't mean any given masterpiece's DNA was located. The Bartok Concerto for Orchestra was most distinctive: Rather than running the movements together as so many conductors do, Spano treated them as discrete entities in ways that reminded you of the music's strangeness, how movements start in mid-thought and end in ways suggesting that there's plenty left to say. Spano pursued a great variety of string sounds.
January 24, 2012 |
After a full decade of near-annual George Crumb premieres - and with them, landscapes of sounds undreamed of - Orchestra 2001 has completely earned its latest running joke: When the players are ambushed by odd noises on the street, they say, "Don't let George hear that one!" - meaning, he might put it in his next piece. "Oh, I know," said the soft-spoken Pulitzer-winning composer, who is 82. "They kid me, too. They do. " As it is, Voices From the Heartland , the seventh set in his "American Songbook" series, will be premiered Saturday and Sunday by Orchestra 2001 with a Balinese anklung, an Afro-Brazilian berimbau, and 98 other percussion instruments that are as hard to imagine as they are to pronounce.
August 14, 2011 |
Having helped raise Jennifer Higdon's stillborn Cold Mountain opera from the dead, the Opera Company of Philadelphia also announced on Wednesday a series of like-minded new-opera projects that dramatically change the company's face - and future. In roughly five years, the company has morphed from a conservative, standard-repertoire-based organization to a haven for new opera with a speed that astounds even those who made it happen. "Think about it: We have four [operas] under active commission and two others that we're working on," said general director David Devan.
March 20, 2011 |
Sometime in the next century, as music historians study the sudden outpouring of 2011 classical recordings in Philadelphia, they may puzzle over composer Jennifer Higdon's abrupt change of course. Coming off her Pulitzer Prize-winning Violin Concerto , which fits so neatly alongside traditional concerto repertoire, did she go off the deep end with On a Wire , written for new-music group Eighth Blackbird? Theories will range from musical to medical. Did she channel John Cage?
February 16, 2011 |
Lucky for Philadelphia that Kimmel Center audiences aren't as exuberantly destructive as sports fans after a World Series victory. Otherwise, Verizon Hall might have been trashed Monday night after a similarly prestigious victory, when locally based Grammy Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon took her bows for her Violin Concerto after its Philadelphia premiere by the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Hilary Hahn. Mayhem was under control. No briefcases or cough drops were flung.
June 8, 2010 |
ATLANTA - Philadelphia composer Jennifer Higdon has perhaps never cast her net so wide. Always a seeker of extra-symphonic sounds, in the past she's trawled the aisles of Home Depot for trinkets that would give her orchestration an ethereal jingle. But for On a Wire , her new concerto premiered and recorded last week by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, she frequented sporting-goods stores for fishing line to rub across the strings of a piano, experimenting at length in her Spruce Street studio.