Saturday, August 27, 2016
Royal Albert Hall, London Mark Elder’s take on Mahler’s song cycle was restrained, with soloists Alice Coote peerless but Gregory Kunde sounding challenged at pointsThose of us who got to know Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde through Otto Klemperer’s still unsurpassed recording will probably always think of it as a searing, almost expressionist piece of raw sonorities and even rawer emotions. It’s not the only way to approach this valedictory song symphony, though, and Mark Elder’s, the main event in his prom with the Hallé, was much less confrontational, and less involving. Related: Colin Matthews at 70 - the composer at the heart of the UK's musical life Continue reading...
The New York Choral Society (NYChoral) is a vibrant, ever-renewing musical community which believes in the power of music to impact all lives, enriches the cultural life of New York and beyond through the world-class quality and artistic creativity of our performances, and is committed to delivering excellence to our singers, our audiences, and our supporters. An essential force in the New York choral scene since its founding in 1959, the 175-voice strong NYChoral is widely known for the outstanding artistic quality of its performances and the diversity of its repertoire, which encompasses choral masterworks as well as rarely performed and new compositions. In 2012 David Hayes joined NYChoral as its fourth Music Director (MD). Under his visionary leadership, NYChoral’s performances have included Berlioz’s L’enfance du Christ, the New York premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s The Singing Rooms, John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls, Paul Hindemith’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, Mendelssohn’s St. Paul, Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum and in May 2016 a performance of Handel’s Israel in Egypt. In addition to its regular season appearances at Carnegie Hall, NYChoral has appeared at every major venue in the New York City area, including Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Metropolitan Opera House, Madison Square Garden, NJPAC, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. NYChoral is frequently in demand as guest artists and appearances have included the Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala since 1993, numerous appearances with Andrea Bocelli, Opera Orchestra of New York, New York Youth Symphony, American Ballet Theater, and many others. International concert tours have included China, Greece, Italy, France, Mexico, Austria, Hungry, Israel, and the Czech Republic. Please visit our website at www.nychoral.org for more information about NYChoral. Position Summary The Executive Director (ED), newly recast as a full-time position, is responsible for oversight and management of all administrative aspects of NYChoral, including, but not limited to, fundraising, marketing, board interaction and development, and day-to-day operations. This position reports to the Board of Trustees (BOT) and works in partnership with the MD and volunteer staff. In September 2015, NYChoral adopted a three-year strategic plan and supporting implementation plan. The ED will be expected to work in conjunction with the BOT to achieve the goals and initiatives of the strategic plan with an emphasis on fundraising and development. Since its founding, NYChoral has been primarily managed by dedicated volunteers from within the chorus membership. In order to accomplish its strategic plan and related goals, the organization has determined that a transition to professional management is now necessary, starting with the engagement of a full-time ED. The successful candidate will be flexible and sensitive to this dynamic, and will have the ability to provide leadership and guidance, yet work in a collaborative manner with both volunteer staff and Board while overseeing the transition to an operating model that reflects the organization’s mission, goals, and values. Duties and Responsibilities The ED will be responsible for directly executing or overseeing volunteers/staff in the execution of the duties and responsibilities outlined below. It is expected that some tasks will begin immediately upon the start of employment while other responsibilities will be rolled out over the first 3-5 years. Development and Fundraising Develop, coordinate, and execute a comprehensive strategy of financial development and support, including cultivating, securing, and sustaining new sources of revenue from individual, corporate, foundation, and governmental sources. Secure funding for specific projects/programs/concerts Organizing events, including the annual gala, donor cultivation, and other events. Prepare grant requests and reports. Work with the BOT to establish and support committees to implement fundraising initiatives. Governance, Management, and Finance Direct and manage all aspects of the organization’s finances, operations, budget, and administration to ensure fiscal responsibility and the most effective use of resources. Work directly with the Treasurer on budget preparation and approval, and manage financial operations in accordance with the budget and governmental regulations. Determine upcoming season with MD and administrative costs. Monitor expenses to budget line items; coordinate proper expense allocations with Treasurer. Comply with all local, state, and federal tax regulations, and prepare and file reports as needed. Prepare and present regular financial reports to the BOT and identify potential issues. Oversee short- and long-range planning while ensuring alignment with the strategic plan; engage BOT, music staff, and volunteer staff in periodic planning sessions. Collaborate with the BOT to cultivate and recruit new potential Board members. Support and advise the board in the regular review and revision of by-laws and policies. Create mechanisms for institutional memory. Operations and Concert Production/Management Oversee day-to-day operations including rehearsal management. Liaise with concert venues and producers of guest engagement. Oversee orchestral and professional soloist relations. Provide support to the tour planning and tour operations committees for periodic national and international tours. Serve as the year-round point of contact for potential new members and oversee the audition process in conjunction with the music staff. Audience Development, Marketing, Public Relations, and Community Relations Develop and implement a comprehensive marketing strategy both internally and externally for each season and individual concerts and projects. Oversee and track ticket sales with the goal of audience enhancement. Work in conjunction with external public relations firm to oversee all advertising efforts. Ensure that PR work is conducted in accordance with marketing strategy and the organization’s brand. In conjunction with the MD, establish and maintain an educational/community outreach program to increase awareness of the chorus by corporations, grant sources, and the general public. Provide oversight and maintenance of the website and social media. Develop and maintain an ongoing presence and relationship within the NYC arts community. Together with the MD, act as a spokesperson for the chorus to the media, government agencies, corporate community, foundations, donors, and represent the chorus at appropriate functions. Manage and perform data analysis of donors, membership, alumni, etc. Internal Communications Develop and maintain interpersonal relations with and be the liaison between the BOT, music staff, volunteer staff, chorus members, and alumni. Ensure chorus members stay adequately abreast of relevant information and enthusiastic about chorus. Maintain and enforce provisions of the member guide. Participate in the annual member review at end of season with music staff. Maintain roster of current singers, concert rosters, and seating charts. Act as central resource for member inquiries. Human Resources and Volunteer Management Identify, recruit, staff, and manage volunteers from within chorus; consider means of including external volunteer support. In the long-term, identify support staffing needs, obtain Board of Trustee approval to pursue, and oversee funding to initiate recruitment. Create and maintain job descriptions for all approved positions with Personnel Committee. Hire, train, and supervise support staff as needed/approved to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives. With Personnel Committee, create all human resources policies, practices, and procedures and ensure that they comply with state and federal employment laws and regulations. Create an administrative structure and decision making mechanisms that promote a productive working atmosphere and effective staff relations. Qualifications and Skills A bachelor’s degree is required; an advanced degree in an appropriate discipline may be considered a plus. A successful track record with at least 7-10 years of experience in non-profit management with an emphasis on fundraising/development experience, marketing, and audience development is required. The ideal candidate will be a seasoned, well-connected individual with an established reputation and network in the arts, preferably in choral music, and will be familiar with the philanthropic community with connections to the NYC artistic community. S/he will be a strategically minded, resourceful, and organized individual with strong attention to detail and strong communications skills (both written and verbal) with previous experience in the following: Fundraising, including program/project based financing and/or sponsorship, grant writing, donor cultivation (individual and corporate), “Grassroots” campaign Administrative skills, including supervision of staff/volunteers/recruitment and hiring, facilitation of organizations in governance transition, demonstrative collaborative and team building ability Development and implementation of budgets and financial management Cultivation/development of not-for-profit boards Knowledge of choral repertoire and related orchestra/soloists requirements Marketing, audience development, community/educational outreach program development, website and social media skills Term: Start date – as available; preferably January 1, 2017 Compensation: Competitive; commensurate with experience Application Instructions: To apply, email the following to NYChoralED@nychoral.org : Cover letter of interest. To increase your chances of success, we’d be interested in hearing about a successful development initiative you pursued or one you might be interested in investigating for NYChoral. Resume 2-3 professional references (optional for initial application package) [Please note that all submitted information, including references, will remain confidential; references will not be contacted without the applicant’s prior notification and agreement.] Priority deadline for application materials is September 15, 2016, or until the position is filled.
From Berlioz to Laura Branagan, and Seal to Stockhausen, composer David Sawer on the music in his lifeWhat was the first ever record or cd you bought? Dukas’ Sorcerer’s Apprentice, 7-inch 45-rpm. I used to try and turn the side over as quickly as possible during the bars’ silence, in time with the music. I still have it, it’s got a beautiful cover. Continue reading...
The Mozarteum Argentino has a long and recurrent relationship with Daniel Barenboim. He returned to our city in 1980 after decades abroad, conducting the Orchestre de Paris, and from then on came frequently, both as pianist and conductor. It´s a curious thing that his biography in the Mozarteum hand programme doesn´t include references to that musical trajectory in our main concert institution, but it is quite explicit in the programme of the Barenboim Festival: no less than ten times, playing Bach or Beethoven, conducting the Berlin Staatskapelle and the Chicago Symphony, and in 2005 the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO). The festival is now in its third year, and each time in parallel there have been two concerts for the Mozarteum ( two cycles). When he conducts the WEDO there are inevitable duplications with the festival, a bad thing because the audience often attends both. So a chamber concert with members of the orchestra avoids that problem. The dense agenda of this musical week forced a decision on this reviewer: although part of the programme was changed for the second cycle and was more attractive than the first, I had to go on Monday, for on Wednesday there is a major event: the National Symphony revives the complete "Roméo et Juliette" by Berlioz, 43 years after its première. In both nights the composer Jörg Widmann is featured with premières, but on Monday the pieces are for violin and cello; on Wednesday they are for clarinet and piano and we have another facet of his art, for he plays that instrument. But the second concert is also longer, for added to Widmann´s Fantasy for clarinet Barenboim will play with him Schumann´s Three fantasy pieces Op.73 and Berg´s Four pieces Op.5. There was a change: the cellist was Kian Soltani, WEDO´s first desk, instead of the formerly announced Adi Tal. All was well in the first item, perfectly coherent with the start of the Festival with the three final Mozart symphonies, for his Trio in C, K.548, along with another, K.542, were written in the same period. It is beautiful music, though not innovative as the symphonies; the expansion of the Piano Trio genre will come with Beethoven and Schubert, and with stronger pianos. The playing of Daniel was light, refined and harmonious, and he was abetted by his son Michael (violin) and Sultani. Then came a selection of Widmann´s 24 Duos for violin and cello; born in 1973, he wrote them on 2008. Michael and Sultani played five of them, all very short, just seven minutes; except for a sarcastic Bavarian Waltz, I wasn´t impressed. Apparently they were played competently. And now we come to the problematic choice: Tchaikovsky´s enormous Trio, Op.50, 1882, to the memory of Nikolai Rubinstein. An Elegiac Piece in several speeds, and a Theme with eleven contrasted variations plus a final one and a lugubrious coda. It is played more often nowadays, but it remains a tough nut to crack, for although the elegiac side suits the composer, there´s a lot of virtuosic flimflam for the piano, so much so that it is as difficult as the ultrafamous First Piano Concerto but with less substance. Even the greatest artists have more affinity with certain styles, and frankly I was intrigued by this choice, for Barenboim is the man for music of deep import, not for empty display. He has an impressive technique, but not of this kind, and there were mistakes that aren´t usual in his generally impeccable playing. Also, speeds weren´t right from the very start, and his sound was too chunky in the frequent block chords. A further problem was that the piano part is very heavy; to complement it you need strings with a big rich sound: Sultani has it but not Michael, so the general balance was affected. And the charm of certain bits (the Waltz, the Mazurka), was lost. The encores atoned for this unsatisfactory Tchaikovsky: the second (slow and singing) and the third (a scintillating Scherzo) movements of Mendelssohn´s First Trio are Barenboim territory, and the interpretations were delectable.
1973, a terrible year: four presidents, turmoil. And the Colón reprograms after the well-founded resignation of Enzo Valenti Ferro (the Mayor had closed down arbitrarily the German season). Antonio Pini was the new Artistic Director, and I his assistant. Along with the conductor of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Pedro Calderón, we programmed a rich season with eminent conductors and valid premières. In August Pini was summarily fired and the successors played havoc on the Phil´s programming. But in June and July we had Serge Baudo and Vaclav Smetácek. You may wonder, why this bit of history? Because it is relevant to the purpose of this article. Years before I was bowled over by the revelation of "Roméo et Juliette" by Hector Berlioz in the splendid interpretation on record by Charles Munch and the Boston Symphony. I knew that Baudo was a specialist on this composer (he ran the Lyons Berlioz festival), so I telexed him asking if he wanted to première the complete "Roméo" (only symphonic fragments had been played here); he accepted enthusiastically, and the première became the highlight of the symphonic year. I keep as a treasure my Eulenburg score : "En toute amitié" ("With all friedship"), Serge Baudo, 28.5.73. A particular homage to Jorge Fontenla, now in his eighties: always a noble server of music as pianist, composer and conductor, some months before the Baudo event Fontenla premièred "Roméo" in Argentina with the Cuyo University Symphony; and he had the bonhomie of lending the orchestral parts to the Phil for the Baudo preformances. We had to wait 43 years before an artist and a programmer decided that it was high time to let this generation hear live one of the great works of Romanticism. Facundo Agustín, an Argentine working in Switzerland, showed his mettle last year in Britten´s "War Requiem", so we knew that he was technically capable of the arduous commitment, for "Roméo" is very difficult; and Ciro Ciliberto, the National Symphony´s programmer, has proved his knowledge of the repertoire many times. A big thanks to both. "Roméo et Juliette" was called by the composer "dramatic symphony"; with words by Émile Deschamps derived from the Shakespeare tragedy, Berlioz conducted it at the Paris Conservatory November 24, 1839. The dedication is to Nicolò Paganini. It is, in words of its creator, "neither an opera in concert form nor a cantata, but a symphony with chorus" (and soloists). "The symphony has a general plan of four movements with a Prologue as a vocal introduction to the first" (John Burk). Berlioz, the quintessential Romantic, mixed life with creation and nowhere was it more evident than in "Roméo et Juliette", for he fell in love with actress Harriet Smithson playing Juliet and married her! A Shakespeare fan, he also wrote the overture "King Lear" and his opera "Béatrice et Bénédict" based on "Much Ado About Nothing". "Roméo et Juliette" is his Op.17 and lasts about 95 minutes. There´s nothing like it in the repertoire: Berlioz was a true visionary, with no antecedent and no followers. Many believe that giantism in symphonic music is a thing of the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, but they forget Berlioz: he asks for 250 performers, including three choirs, and his orchestration is ample and innovative. His aural imagination is limitless and the intensity of his expression has no rivals in French music. Each piece has titles that explain their content; thus, the Introduction at the very beginning depicts in fugato form the combats of Capulets and Montagus, the ensuing tumult and the intervention of the Prince. The soloists are a contralto that sings of the vows of the lovers, a scintillating Scherzetto for the tenor (Mercutio´s Queen Mab speech), and especially Friar Lawrence with his strong plea in the Finale for reconciliation. The choirs can be recitatives, light revelry in the distance, or powerful vocal battles. The jewels are purely symphonic: the Introduction, "Romeo alone- Sadness- the Capulets´ Ball", the "Love scene" (the composer´s favorite), the marvelous Queen Mab Scherzo with uncanny orchestral effects, and the huge contrasts of "Romeo at the Tomb of the Capulets". French orchestral music won´t produce scores of this quality until the arrival of Debussy and Ravel. Fortunately the work was presented twice at the Blue Whale, July 27 and 29; I went to the first date; it was a success with the packed audience. Agudín got a notable performannce out of a concentrated National Symphony, with close respect for every indication in the score; his temperament is contained and I missed the whitehot intensity of Munch, but it was clean and precise. Not only some soloists were fine (the oboist Andrés Spiller) but, e.g., it was a pleasure to hear the first violins play with such unanimity in perfect tune. The Coro Polifónico Nacional was this time prepared by an Argentine who lives in France, Ariel Alonso; he distributed the choirs at the back of the orchestra and at the laterals, and a small group was with the orchestra on the right side. The results were uneven but the best moments were satisfactory. Hernán Iturralde was a first-rate Friar Lawrence, sung with magisterial command and fine French. Alejandra Malvino did her "Strophes" musically and Ricardo González Dorrego negotiated his tricky Scherzetto with skill. A serious blot: no comments on the score in tha hand programme, and no supertitles! For Buenos Aires Herald
The UK's Edexcel A Level Music set works list has been revised to better reflect women composers. Here is the new list for the academic year 2016/17: Vocal Music ● J. S. Bach, Cantata, Ein feste Burg ● Mozart, The Magic Flute ● Vaughan Williams, On Wenlock Edge Instrumental Music ● Vivaldi, Concerto in D minor, Op. 3 No. 11 ● Clara Wieck-Schumann, Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 17: movement 1 ● Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique Music for Film ● Danny Elfman, Batman Returns ● Rachel Portman, The Duchess ● Bernard Herrmann, Psycho Popular Music and Jazz ● Courtney Pine, Back in the Day ● Kate Bush, Hounds of Love ● Beatles, Revolver Fusions ● Debussy, Estampes ● Familia Valera Miranda, Caña Quema ● Anoushka Shankar, Breathing Under Water New Directions ● Cage, Three Dances for Two Prepared Pianos ● Kaija Saariaho, Petals for Violoncello and Live Electronics ● Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring With Kaija Saariaho's music in schools all is not lost. Here is her Petals for Violoncello and Live Electronics: Header photo was taken by me at a 2012 Sistema England and Britten Sinfonia education event. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.
Great composers of classical music