Saturday, April 30, 2016

Oregon composers to travel to Cuba in musical exchange

Yesterday evening, during intermission of the Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra concert, I ran in to composer David Bernstein, who is the founding president of Cascadia Composers. He told me that a group of eight members of Cascadia Composers will be traveling to Cuba in November to have their music presented there. Then in the following year, several Cuban composers will come to Portland to have their music presented here. How cool is that! To learn more and to help contribute to the effort to underwrite this unique exchange of composers, click on this Cuba Initiative gofundme site.

Today's Birthdays

Franz Lehár (1870-1948)
Louise Homer (1871-1947)
Frank Merrick (1886-1981)
Robert Shaw (1916-1999)
Günter Raphael (1903-1960)
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich (1939)
Garcia Navarro (1940-2002)
Vladimir Tarnopolsky (1955)


Alice B. Toklas (1877-1967)
John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974)
Winfield Townley Scott (1910-1968)
Annie Dillard (1945)
Josip Novakovich (1955)

And from the New Music Box:

On April 30, 1932, the very first Yaddo Festival of Contemporary Music began in Saratoga Springs, NY. Works programmed that year included Aaron Copland's Piano Variations as well as piano works by Roger Sessions, Henry Brant, Vivian Fine and Roy Harris, songs by Charles Ives and Paul Bowles, string quartets by Marc Blitzstein and Louis Gruenberg, and a suite for unaccompanied flute by Wallingford Riegger.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Oregon Symphony's Russian program satisfies...ultimately.

Simone Lamsma
The Oregon Symphony played the final night of a Russian-heavy program at the Schnitz Monday evening, featuring Shostakovich's Symphony No. 1 in F minor  and Tchaikovsky's Concerto in D Major for Violin and Orchestra, featuring Dutch player Simone Lamsma as soloist.

The folks who were parking during the "parking overture" didn't miss much, unfortunately. Danish composer Carl Nielsen's Helios Overture was flat from the start, literally and emotionally. A sour start and continued pitch issues from the horns muddied what should have been a quivering, bracing opening, and the orchestra followed suit with an underwhelming delivery. Surprising, frankly, because this is the sort of thing at which the OSO usually excels.

Immediately following was the Shostakovich. This piece felt like it took a minute or two to get going, but because of its length it could afford an unfortunate if understandable 'warm-up' phase. With so many rapid-fire entrances and exits from so many sections, the orchestra had to be right on cue--constant attention to the conductor was key. They achieved this, and there were tasty treats from many sections and players, including second chair first violin...a solo executed with just the right blend of gusto and restraint.  The second movement featured brilliant switching between the principal themes as they were bandied about between the sections.

The opening of the Lento third movement featured an oboe solo floating gently like a bird soaring over a hushed sea of strings--lush and full bodied, the strings perfectly captured the mysterious spirit of the movement. The final movement closed in raging moments of brutal exclamations from the brass and percussion. Such rapidly and radically shifting moods throughout the piece required a steady and able hand, and resident conductor Paul Ghun Kim ably guided them through the treacherous course.

The second half consisted of the violin concerto, and Lamsma had the audience hooked right from the start. She opened with a fine, broad cantabile, featuring a rich lower range. Her technical brilliance was unmistakable from the start--she executed difficult chordal and scalar passages with exciting thoroughness and clarity. Her lengthy, spritely cadenza was intensely interesting, featuring daring harmonics and glissandi.

During the Finale: Allegro vivacissimo she played with a rapidfire saltando that seemed at times to throw down a friendly challenge to the orchestra: just try and keep up! My tongue is planted firmly in cheek when I say she was having far to much fun for a soloist in such a serious work.

Today's Birthdays

Thomas Beecham (1879-1961)
Wallingford Riegger (1885-1961)
Sir Malcom Sargent (1895-1967)
Edward "Duke" Ellington (1899-1974)
Peter Sculthorpe (1929-2014)
Willie Nelson (1933)
Klaus Voormann (1938)
Leslie Howard (1948)
Eero Hämeenniemi (1951)
Gino Quilico (1955)


Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933)
William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951)
Robert Gottlieb (1931)
Yusef Komunyakaa (1947)

From the New Music Box:
On April 29, 1969, Duke Ellington was invited to the White House to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on his 70th birthday. At the event, U.S. President Richard Nixon played "Happy Birthday" on the piano accompanied by the Duke Ellington Orchestra.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Paul Sacher (1906-1999)
Margaret Vardell Sandresky (1921)
Zubin Mehta (1936)
Jeffrey Tate (1943)
Nicola LeFanu (1947)
Elise Ross (1947)
Michael Daugherty (1954)


James Monroe (1758-1831)
Karl Kraus (1874-1936)
Robert Anderson (1917-2009)
Harper Lee (1926-2016)
Carolyn Forché (1950)

From the New Music Box:
On April 28, 2003, Apple Computer launched its iTunes Music Store and sold 1 million songs in its first week.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

PSU Opera camps it up with frothy fun-filled Fledermaus

Infectious energy combined with outstanding singing and acting to make the opening night performance (April 22nd) of “Die Fledermaus” by Portland State University Opera a veritable hit. The singing was uniformly outstanding (alles auf Englisch) and the acting had a natural and spontaneous quality that generated buckets of laughter from the audience at Lincoln Performance Hall. Director Brenda Nuckton deserved high praise for encouraging the principals to embrace the full silliness of the story without compromising any musicality. Ken Selden led a spry and spirited orchestra, which supported the entire enterprise with a generous layer of schmaltz.

Set in fin de siècle Vienna, “Die Fledermaus” is a farce in which a high-class gentleman (Dr. Falke) gets revenge on his old buddy Gabriel von Eisenstein by playing on his vanity. Falke also applies the same idea on Eisenstein’s wife, Rosalinde, their maid Adele, and the prison warden Frank, tricking them into assuming different identities at a ball hosted by the incredibly wealthy Prince Orlofsky. Among the many hilarious moments, the best of all involves Herr Eisenstein trying to seduce an Hungarian countess, who is actually his wife in disguise. The masks finally come off at the jailhouse where identities are revealed, and everyone laughs it off by blaming the champagne.

Saori Erickson charmed everyone as Rosalinde, singing superbly throughout the evening. But she also showed excellent acting chops: melting into the arms of her old flame Alfred one moment, banishing him from the house in the next, and then fanning the skirt of her dress as wide as possible to hide him from her husband. Darian Hutchinson’s Gabriel von Eisenstein was full of bluster and amiable conceit, blundering without hesitation into Dr. Falke’s elaborate plot.

As Dr. Falke, Justin Birchell conveyed the figure of a masterminded who knew how to mix fun with gravitas. Hannah Consenz sparkled in the role of Adele, generating tons of laughs while executing all of the difficult vocal gymnastics with ease.

Ethan Reviere’s Alfred pursued Rosalinde with ringing high notes, a carefree bravado, and preening charm. Grace Skinner cut a dashing Orlofsky, the Russian prince, but her demeanor was more bemused than bored; so it wasn’t a big deal when Orlofsky finally did laugh.

Adam Ramaley created a wonderfully likeable Frank, hamming things up delightfully when he returned to the prison in a disheveled state. Jonathan Green defended himself with moral rectitude as Dr. Blind, the lawyer, and Savannah Panah backup of Adele as her loyal sister Ida. Scott Parker made the most of his role as the drunk and loveable jailer, Frosch (which, btw, means Frog auf Deutsche). In his commentary on singing of imprisoned tenor Alfred, he said “You think that’s bad. You should’ve heard him when I was sober.”

The chorus, expertly prepared by Ben España, sang with gusto, and they deftly exchanged partners while singing during the dance that was choreographed by Alexandrous Ballard.

Artistic director Christine Meadows deserved high praise for finding just the right opera for these students. She also found an exceptional English adaptation that was written by Quade Winter. All of the singers got spoken lines that included a terrific zinger or two, such as when Alfred proclaimed “It’s too late for scruples,” while dining with Rosalinde. And Rosalinde, fuming at her husband philandering intentions, said that she would “qualify him for the Vienna Boys Choir.” The audience responded with lots of laughter and a standing ovation at the end of the performance.

Finally, it should be noted that this review only covers one cast of principals. The PSU Opera program is strong enough to field a second cast, and I have the feeling that they are as remarkably trained as the one I heard.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Adam Reinken (1623-1722
Friedrich von Flotow (1812-1883)
Serge Prokofiev (1891-1953)
Nicolas Slonimsky (1894-1995)
Guido Cantelli (1920-1956)
Igor Oistrakh (1931)
Hamish Milne (1939)
Jon Deak (1943)
Christian Zacharias (1950)


Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
Samuel Morse (1791-1872)
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
Ludwig Bemelmans(1898-1962)
C(ecil) Day Lewis (1904-1972)
August Wilson (1945-2005)

And from the Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1667, the poet John Milton (books by this author) sold the copyright for his masterpiece, Paradise Lost, for 10 pounds. Milton had championed the cause of Oliver Cromwell and the Parliament over the king during the English Civil War, and published a series of radical pamphlets in support of such things as Puritanism, freedom of the press, divorce on the basis of incompatibility, and the execution of King Charles I. With the overthrow of the monarchy and the creation of the Commonwealth, Milton was named Secretary of Foreign Tongues, and though he eventually lost his eyesight, he was able to carry out his duties with the help of aides like fellow poet Andrew Marvell.

When the monarchy was restored in 1660, Milton was imprisoned as a traitor and stripped of his property. He was soon released, but was now impoverished as well as completely blind, and he spent the rest of his life secluded in a cottage in Buckinghamshire. This is where he dictated Paradise Lost — an epic poem about the Fall of Man, with Satan as a kind of antihero — and its sequel, Paradise Regained, about the temptation of Christ.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Erland von Koch (1910-2009)
Pierre Pierlot (1921-2007)
Teddy Edwards (1924-2003)
Wilma Lipp (1925)
Ewa Podleś (1952)
Patrizia Kwella (1953)


David Hume (1711-1776)
John James Audubon (1785-1851)
Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
Bernard Malamud (1914-1986)

And from the New Music Box:
On April 26, 1965, Charles Ives's Fourth Symphony, which was composed mostly between 1910 and 1916, is given its first complete performance by the American Symphony Orchestra led by Leopold Stokowski and two assistant conductors.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Ella Fitzgerald (1918-1998)
Astrid Varnay (1918-2006)
Siegfried Palm (1927-2005)
Digby Fairweather (1946)
Truls Mørk (1961)


Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903)
Howard R. Garis (1873-1962)
Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937)
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965)
David Shepherd (1931)
Ted Kooser (1939)
Padgett Powell (1952)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Giovanni Martini (1706-1784)
Charles O'Connell (1900-1962)
Violet Archer (1913-2000)
John Williams (1941) - guitarist
Barbara Streisand (1942)
Norma Burrowes (1944)
Ole Edvard Antonsen (1962)
Augusta Read Thomas (1964)
Catrin Finch (1980)


Anthony Trollope (1815-1882)
Willem De Kooning (1904-1997)
Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)
Stanley Kauffmann (1916-2013)
Sue Grafton (1940)
Clare Boylan (1948-2006)
Eric Bogosian (1953)

From the Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1800, the Library of Congress was established. In a bill that provided for the transfer of the nation's capital from Philadelphia to Washington, Congress included a provision for a reference library containing "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress — and for putting up a suitable apartment for containing them therein ..." The library was housed in the Capitol building, until British troops burned and pillaged it in 1814. Thomas Jefferson offered as a replacement his own personal library: nearly 6,500 books, the result of 50 years' worth of "putting by everything which related to America, and indeed whatever was rare and valuable in every science."

First opened to the public in 1897, the Library of Congress is now the largest library in the world. It houses more than 144 million items, including 33 million catalogued books in 460 languages; more than 63 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America; and the world's largest collection of films, legal materials, maps, sheet music, and sound recordings.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Andrea Luchesi (1741-1801)
Edmund Rubbra (1901-1986)
Artie Shaw (1910-2004)
Jean Françaix (1912-1997)
Alicia de Larrocha (1923-2009)
Robert Moog (1934-2005)
Roy Orbison (1936-1988)
Joel Feigin (1951)


William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
James Patrick (J. P.) Donleavy (1926)
Coleman Barks (1937)
Barry Hannah (1942-2010)
Jane Kenyon (1947-1995)

From The Writer's Almanac:
Today is the birthday of Roy Orbison (1936), born in Vernon, Texas. One day, during a songwriting session with his partner Bill Dees, Orbison asked his wife, Claudette Frady Orbison, if she needed any money for her upcoming trip to Nashville. Dees remarked, “Pretty woman never needs any money.” Forty minutes later, Orbison’s most famous hit, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” had been written.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Giuseppe Torelli (1658-1709)
Dame Ethel Smyth (1856-1944)
Eric Fenby (1906-1997)
Kathleen Ferrier (1912-1953)
Yehudi Menuhin (1916-1999)
Charles Mingus 1922-1979)
Michael Colgrass (1932)
Jaroslav Krcek (1939)
Joshua Rifkin (1944)
Peter Frampton (1950)
Jukka-Pekka Saraste (1956)


Henry Fielding (1707-1754)
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
Louise Glück (1943)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Mandolin wizzard Chris Thile is new Portland resident

I heard Chris Thile say on last weekend's edition of The Prairie Home Companion that he had just moved to Portland from New York City. Now, I've found confirmation in this article from The Guardian newspaper:

"Thile will tape five or six episodes in the show’s longtime home base – the Fitzgerald Theater in Saint Paul, Minnesota – and make the rest around the country, including New York. For now, he will commute from Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, actor Claire Coffee, and their 11-month-old son, Calvin."

So, don't be surprised when you bump into Thile at a coffee shop. 

Today's Birthdays

Randall Thompson (1899-1984)
Leonard Warren (1911-1960)
Bruno Maderna (1920-1973)
Locksley Wellington 'Slide' Hampton (1932)
Lionel Rogg (1936)
John McCabe (1939-2015)
Iggy Pop (1947)
Richard Bernas (1950)
Melissa Hui (1966)


Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855)
John Muir (1838-1914)
Elaine May (1932)
Nell Freudenberger (1975)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

“The Pianist of Willesden Lane” wraps fear, pain, loss, and hope with music

Photo credit: Patrick Weishampel/
A grand piano and four huge gilded picture frames are the only props that Mona Golabek needed in order to tell the poignant, bittersweet but uplifting story of her mother’s flight from the stranglehold of Nazi-crazed Vienna to freedom in London and the solace that she found in music. Over the course of 90 minutes, Golabek delivered “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” with genuine, heartfelt emotion that connected immediately with the audience at Portland Center Stage on Friday evening (April 15). The production was directed by Hershey Felder, who adapted it for the stage from “The Children of Willesden Lane,” which was written by Golabek and Lee Cohen.

Being a classically trained pianist, Golabek interlaced her mother’s story with piano pieces that her mother had played. Stepping up to the Steinway Grand that was placed on a raised platform in the center of the stage and playing with authority, Golabek performed snippets of Debussy, Beethoven, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Bach, and Grieg. Photographic images and historic film footage effectively underscored various points of the story, helping the story to move along at a steady pace. The story resonated even more, because of Golabek’s uncanny channeling of her mother and her ability to modulate her voice to portray various characters.

The story began in 1938 in Vienna, Austria where Golabek’s mother, Lisa Jura, lived with her parents and two sisters. While Vienna descended into the madness of Nazi-inspired control, 14-year-old Jura’s world revolved around her piano lessons and the dream of playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto in the Musikverein – the gilded concert hall that is the home of the Vienna Philharmonic. But Jura’s father, after losing most of his income because of the abusive laws against Jews, turned to gambling. On Kristallnacht, he returned home from an evening of gambling – beaten up but still in possession of a ticket that would allow one of his children to go on the Kindertransport to Great Britain. That ticket was given to Lisa.

After she got to London, Jura’s worries were not over, but she preserved, living with other children from the Kindertransport in home on Willesden Lane that is run by a stern Mrs. Cohen and working as a seamstress in a factory to make clothing for the British troops. She also kept playing the piano, and was at the keyboard when German bombs fell on her home. She miraculously survived the bombing and later qualified for a scholarship to study piano at the Royal Academy of Music. Her teachers found her a job playing in the lobby of a hotel that served as the temporary quarters for soldiers. It is there that she was introduced to a French officer who later became her husband after the war. And yes, as part of her graduation, Jura plays the Grieg Piano Concerto.

Golabek’s storytelling was riveting but it never became melodramatic – even when relating moments of extreme loss and pain. She terrifically evoked scenes of Vienna in those bygone years and of London during the war, including the music that her mother knew so well and clung to in a desperate way that helped her endure the chaos and loss.

Today's Birthdays

Nikolai Miaskovsky (1881-1950)
Lionel Hampton (1908-2002)
Christopher Robinson (1936)
John Eliot Gardiner (1943)
Robert Kyr (1952)


Pietro Aretino (1492-1556)
Harold Lloyd (1893-1971)
Joan Miró (1893-1983) 
Sebastian Faulks (1953)  

From the Writer's Almanac:

It was on this day in 1939 that Billie Holiday recorded the song "Strange Fruit," which describes the lynching of a black man in the South. The song began as a poem written not by Holiday, but by a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx named Abel Meeropol (using the pseudonym Lewis Allan) who was deeply disturbed by a picture he saw of a lynching. Meeropol set the song to music with his wife, Laura, and performed it at venues in New York City. (Meeropol and his wife are also noteworthy for adopting the orphaned Rosenberg children, Robert and Michael, after their parents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, were executed for espionage.) 

Holiday met Meeropol through a connection at a nightclub in Greenwich Village. She wanted to record the song, but her record label refused to produce something so graphic and she was forced to record it on an alternative jazz label.

Holiday's recording of "Strange Fruit" is unique in American music for its unflinching look at one of the darkest periods in national history. 

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees
Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
And the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for a tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Oregon Symphony musicians and administration ratify new three-year contract

From the press release on April 15th:

Oregon Symphony Association Board Chair Jack Wilborn today announced that the Symphony and the American Federation of Musicians, Local 99, have ratified a new three-year collective bargaining agreement for Oregon Symphony musicians. The contract begins retroactively from September 2015 and runs through May 2018.
“On behalf of the entire Board, I extend my deep appreciation to our musicians, our President, and everyone involved in these negotiations for their diligence and collaborative spirit. With this agreement, we will become an ever-stronger force in our community,” he said.
Shortly after he joined the Symphony in July 2014, President Scott Showalter and the union extended the musicians’ previous collective bargaining agreement, which covered 2011 through 2014, for one year. Although that extension expired in August 2015, orchestra performances and operations have continued while this new contract was negotiated.
Under the new contract terms, musicians will receive annual cost of living increases based on the Consumer Price Index average of all U.S. cities. The musicians will continue to receive full health care coverage for themselves and their dependents, along with pension contributions of 5% each year. The contract also provides for greater flexibility in rehearsal and performance schedules. Separately, the musicians’ union also ratified a new electronic media agreement, which will allow the Oregon Symphony to invest in radio broadcasts, online streaming, and recordings.
These salary increases for musicians are the first since the 2011/12 season, ending a post-recession period during which musicians and administrative staff took salary cuts to balance the budget. The Oregon Symphony has balanced its budget in each of the last six years.
Showalter noted that this contract “recognizes the musicians for their artistry, which is drawing audiences and donations in record numbers. It is a tough climate for orchestras today, but we are building a foundation upon which this exceptional orchestra will grow. I hope that we can do even more in the future.”
Since Showalter’s arrival from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Oregon Symphony has enjoyed significant growth. The 2014/15 season set records for total tickets sold, sold-out concerts, ticket revenue, new ticket buyers, donors, gift totals, and new donors. During the current 2015/16 season, the Symphony earned a Grammy nomination and expanded its broadcasts, while diversifying its concert series and producing more community and education programs. The recently announced 2016/17 season includes a 20% increase in the total number of classical performances and a 14-60% increase in the number of concerts in classical subscription packages. Advance ticket sales are outpacing last year’s sales at this same date by double-digit percentages.

Today's Birthdays

Alexandre Pierre François Boëly (1785-1858)
Germaine Tailleferre (1892-1983)
Ruben Gonzalez (1919-2003)
Bernhard Klee (1926)
Dudley Moore (1935-2002)
Kenneth Riegel (1938)
Jonathan Tunick (1938)
David Fanshawe (1942-2010)
Murray Perahia (1947)
Yan-Pascal Tortelier (1947)
Natalie Dessay (1965)


Sarah Kemble Knight (1666-1727)
Etheridge Knight (1931-1991)
Sharon Pollock (1936)
Stanley Fish (1938)

and from the New Music Box:

On April 19, 1775, William Billings and Supply Belcher, two of the earliest American composers who at the time were serving as Minutemen (militia members in the American Revolutionary War who had undertaken to turn out for service at a minute's notice), marched to Cambridge immediately after receiving an alarm from Lexington about an impending armed engagement with the British.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Perahia frames piano recital with classical restraint

Acclaimed pianist Murray Perahia gave a brilliantly reserved performance of works by Haydn, Mozart, Brahms and Beethoven to a very large audience that filled most of the capacious Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Sunday afternoon (April 10th). Perahia’s performance, which was part of Portland Piano International’s recital series, avoided emotional excesses in favor of a more restrained, classical style that worked well for the most part, but his playing didn’t put the concert into the transcendent sphere.

Right from the start, Perahia gave a clear-eyed, refined sense of Haydn’s Variations in F minor. Crystalline passages flowed effortlessly from the Steinway grand, and the slower, sadder passages were elegantly stated. But Perahia shied away from making more of an emotional statement at the end of the piece, which made the piece oddly unsatisfying.

Perahia loosened up a bit more with Mozart’s Sonata No 8 in A Minor. His playing was playful and almost carefree. He took extra care to make the softest sections wonderfully gentle. But his immaculate playing hinted at the tragic sensibility in the dissonances of the Andante cantabile con espressione, but he kept the mood confined.

In his playing of five selections by Brahms, Perahia used his impeccable control to allow the leading lines to be heard over top of the thick textures. The Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118, No. 2 – easily the most familiar of the selections – with its beautiful, nostalgic melody, didn’t drip with sentimentality and instead flowed very naturally. His feather-light playing of the Intermezzo in E minor, Op 119, No 2 generated a quick burst of applause. The Ballade in G minor, Op. 118, No 3, Intermezzo in C Major, Op. 119, No. 3, and Capriccio in D minor, Op. 116, No 1 also received marvelous interpretations from Perahia.

The big mountain in the program was Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, known as the “Hammerklavier,” a near hour-long excursion that features some of the most demanding dynamic contrasts in the repertoire. Perahia launched fearlessly into the massive chords of the Allegro, and excelled with the blastissimo effects. He also successfully created a hot and cold atmosphere for the Scherzo in which jokey passages became briefly darker and almost sour before returning to their lightheartedness. He explored the gravitas and moody nature of the Adagio sostenuto with great success, evoking the sense of someone fighting through clouds to get to the sunshine. In the final movement (Largo; Allegro; Allegro resoluto), Perahia exhibited wonderfully delicate playing and execute the impossibly complex fugue section with terrific speed and dexterity. But the final measures were understated and anti-climactic – which was a real shame considering the length and breadth of the journey.

The audience rewarded Perahia with massively loud applause that brought him back to the stage five times. It seemed that people hoped to elicit an encore from him, but it was not to be. He looked exhausted by the end of the “Hammerklavier” and politely left the stage with a weary smile.

One odd thing that I found about the recital was that the piano and pianist were positioned in the center of the stage area, which was fairly far from the audience. It would seem that the artist would want to be closer, but the positioning gave me the feeling that Perahia didn’t want that closeness. As a result the performance atmosphere was not as warm as it could have been.

Today's Birthdays

Giacomo Carissimi (1605-1674)
Franz von Suppé (1819-1895)
Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977)
Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995)
Sylvia Fisher (1910-1996)
Penelope Thwaites (1944)
Catherine Maltfitano (1948)


Clarence Darrow (1857-1938)
Susan Faludi (1959)

Also a historical tidbit from The Writer's Almanac:

On this day in 1906 an earthquake struck San Francisco. The earthquake began at 5:12 a.m. and lasted for a little over a minute. The world-famous tenor Enrico Caruso had performed at San Francisco's Grand Opera House the night before, and he woke up in his bed as the Palace Hotel was falling down around him. He stumbled out into the street, and because he was terrified that that shock might have ruined his voice, he began singing. Nearly 3,000 people died.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Artur Schnabel (1882-1951)
Maggie Teyte (1888-1976)
Harald Saeverud (1897-1992)
Gregor Piatigorsky (1903-1976)
Pamela Bowden (1925-2003)
James Last (1929-2015)
Anja Silja (1940)
Siegfried Jerusalem (1940)
Cristina Ortiz (1950)


Karen Blixen aka Isak Dinesen (1885-1962)
Thornton Wilder (1897-1975)
Brendan Kennelly (1936)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Oregon Symphony concert a study of contrasts

Augustin Hadelich
The Violin Concerto of Thomas Ades scratched the surface of many earlobes at the Oregon Symphony concert on Saturday evening (April 9th), leaving most of us in the audience at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall feeling puzzled even though we were sure that the featured soloist, Augustin Hadelich, had done everything in his command to convey something of the piece’s subtitle, “Concentric Paths.” The concerto, conducted by Carlos Kalmar, began in the ultra-high range of the violin with some near nail-on-the-chalkboard notes. The stratospheric quality at one point was accompanied by two piccolos and later the Hadelich and the orchestra created a weird whistling effect – or perhaps my synapses were temporarily overloaded. In any case, when Hadelich finally descended to a slightly lower range, I felt a sense of relief, but that was cut off with a bang of the bass drum to conclude the first movement.

The second movement featured a herky jerky – stop/start sequence that paired Hadelich’s violin with two trumpets and a trombone. Several big whams from the percussion gradually tapered off into the distance so that Hadelich could float a wandering line that turned into a lament. Hadelich also executed a series of ascending lines stuffed with double-stops. A rambling bass trombone and tuba segment formed an odd passageway for Hadelich to show off some lightning-fast technique that later slowed down to a near harmonious center. The tone became darker and the atmosphere slightly ominous as Hadelich probed the lower register of his violin before the movement ended solemnly.

The third movement showed a lot of rhythmic drive by all of the strings and an odd melody followed by passages that were tossed into the woodwinds and other sections of the orchestra. Hadelich carved out a quixotic melody and the entire ensemble negotiated several brief stuttering pauses before the piece ended.

The audience responded warmly to Hadelich’s virtuosic performance, and, he followed it with mind-boggling performance of Niccolò Paganini’s “Caprice No. 5. He took it at a devilishly fast pace, playing every note spot on and even varied the volume. It showed that he could play something that everyone could follow – even if it was at Lamborghini-esque speed, and the audience loved it to pieces.

After intermission, the orchestra explored the contrasting elements of Edward Elgar’s First Symphony. I really enjoyed the way that the noble themes would sneak in from nowhere, and the musicians excelled with dynamics – shading phrases by turning down the volume – accelerating energetically – punctuating passages with a lump of sugar as needed. The soft, diffuse sections were sort of like a fog creeping in ever so slowly. Concertmaster Sarah Kwak expressed her solos with exceptional musicality as did guest principal flutist Martha Long. The strings dispatched the some of the speediest lines I’ve ever heard with ease and they also created graceful moments that flowed effortlessly. The piping high flute and piccolo passages, the soaring French horns, and the wonderfully forlorn sounds from principal clarinetist Todd Kuhns were memorable highlights of the evening.

The concert opened with the best piece ever written by a teenager, the Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Felix Mendelssohn (composed when he was 17). The fleet fingerwork by the strings, insistent braying of the horns, and the playful exchanges between various sections of the orchestra made this piece a delight.

Despite the exceptional playing, the orchestra looked pretty glum on the whole, and that is not an encouraging sign to those of us who sit in the audience and wonder why. Fortunately, the musicians’ professionalism and sheer talent kicked in, and they responded to Kalmar’s directions.

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Joseph Mouret (1682-1738)
Mischa Mischakov (1895-1981)
Henry Mancini (1924-1994)
Herbie Mann (1930-2003)
Dusty Springfield (1939-1999)
Stephen Pruslin (1940)
Leo Nucci (1942)
Richard Bradshaw (1944-2007)
Dennis Russell Davis (1944)
Peteris Vasks (1946)


John Millington Synge (1871-1909)
Charlie Chaplin (1889-1977)
Merce Cunningham (1919-2009)
Sir Kingsley Amis (1922-1995)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Karl Alwin (1891-1945)
Bessie Smith (1894-1937)
Sir Neville Marriner (1924)
John Wilbraham (1944-1998)
Michael Kamen (1948-2003)
Lara St. John (1971)


Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
Henry James (1843-1916)

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Jean Fournet (1913-2008)
Paavo Berglund (1929-2012)
Morton Subotnick (1933)
Loretta Lynn (1935)
Claude Vivier (1948-1983)
John Wallace (1949)
Julian Lloyd Webber (1951)
Barbara Bonney (1956)
Mikhail Pletnev (1957)
Jason Lai (1974)


Christian Huygens (1629-1695)
Arnold Toynbee (1853-1882)
Anton Wildgans (1881-1932)

From the Writer's Almanac:

It's the legal birthday of the modern printing press, which William Bullock patented on this day in 1863 in Baltimore. His invention was the first rotary printing press to self-feed the paper, print on both sides, and count its own progress — meaning that newspapers, which had until then relied on an operator manually feeding individual sheets of paper into a press, could suddenly increase their publication exponentially.

The Cincinnati Times was likely the very first to use a Bullock press, with the New York Sun installing one soon after. Bullock was installing a press for The Philadelphia Press when he kicked at a mechanism; his foot got caught, his leg was crushed, and he died a few days later during surgery to amputate. His press went on to revolutionize the newspaper business.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Today's Birthdays

William Sterndale Bennett (1816-1875)
Milos Sadlo (1912-2003)
George Barati (1913-1996)
Frederic Rzewski (1938)
Margaret Price (1941-2011)
Della Jones (1946)
Al Green (1946)
Mary Ellen Childs (1959)


Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
Eudora Welty (1909-2001)
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Today's Birthday

Pietro Nardini (1722-1793)
Joseph Lanner (1801-1843)
Johnny Dodds (1892-1940)
Lily Pons (1898-1976)
Imogen Holst (1907-1984)
Thomas Hemsley (1927-2013)
Herbert Khaury (aka Tiny Tim) (1932-1996)
Montserrat Caballé (1933)
Herbie Hancock (1940)
Ernst Kovacic (1943)
Stefan Minde (1936-2015)
Christophe Rousset (1961)


Beverly Cleary (1916) - turns 100 today
Alan Ayckbourn (1939)
Gary Soto (1952)
Jon Krakauer (1954)

Monday, April 11, 2016

VSO goes into overtime for its annual young artists concert

Sometimes you can get too much of a good thing even when it comes to music. That’s the way I felt after attending the Vancouver Symphony concert on Friday afternoon (April 9th) at the Skyview Concert Hall. The program featured solos from the three gold medalists of the orchestra’s annual young artist competition and orchestral works by Maurice Ravel, Paul Dukas, and Richard Strauss. All of pieces were tied nicely together with the theme of youthful fantasy or magic, but the very full program got underway late because of an announcement of the orchestra’s lineup for next season – which looks like the most ambitious ever for the VSO – and an intermission mix up. Consequently, two and a half hours passed before the final notes were played.

The spotlight on the young and talented fell first on cellist Richard Lu (age 18), who played the first movement of Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto. In addition to conveying the wistful sentiment at the core of the movement with fine legato lines and an occasional sad slur, Lu commanded the fast passages deftly, including a few series in which his bow quickly skipped over the strings ever so lightly. Pianist Lauren Yoon (age 16) excelled with her playing of the first movement from Frederic Chopin’s Second Piano Concerto. Yoon created a refine and elegant atmosphere that was well-balanced yet also allowed the leading tone to be slightly louder. Pianist Anthony Zheng (age 18) raised the energy and volume level with a scintillating performance of Franz Liszt’s “Totentanz.” Zheng contrasted the massive fortes and delicate pianissimos with panache, and he also excelled with the fleetest passages that featured an extended series of repetitive, close-knit notes. The flashy arpeggios and racehorse finale got everyone out of their seats for a loud standing ovation.

As if to underscore the youthful soloists, the orchestra gave an inspired performance of Dukas’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” The snappy trumpets and the perky bassoons helped to create a hubbub of mischief while the sound of the strings swirled about. Contrabassonist Nicole Buetti was especially deserving of praise for her evocative playing.

The light-hearted mood continued with Strauss’s “Till Eulenspiegel” with principal clarinetist Igor Shakhman taking the lead role as the mocking, ant-establishment prankster. Superb playing by the French horn section (especially principal Allan Stromquist) and the woodwinds added to the merriment, which contrasted well with the serious demeanor of the strings and brass. Music director Salvador Brotons revved up the brass and percussion for Till’s execution and made sure that the prankster’s whimsical spirit lingered afterwards.

The concert began with Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite,” which the orchestra played well, but a shorter, perhaps livelier piece might have worked better. Principal oboist Karen Strand stood out for her clear and focused playing as did concertmaster Eva Richey. The third movement, with its Oriental leanings, needed more dynamic contrast, but the fourth, which dealt with the “Beauty and the Beast” story, had a wonderfully pensive quality. Brotons conducted the piece without a baton, ensuring the music’s soft and delicate nature.

Next season looks like a promising one, with pianist Orli Shaham (return engagement) and clarinetist David Shifrin being two major artists who will be featured. The orchestra will also add a concert, playing a pops concert in early December, and that is a very savvy move.

Today's Birthdays

Charles Hallé (1819-1895)
Karel Ančerl (1908-1973)
Alberto Ginastera (1916-1983)
Gervase de Peyer (1926)
Kurt Moll (1938)
Arthur Davies (1941)


Marguerite de Navarre (1492-1549)
Christopher Smart (1722-1771)
Mark Strand (1934)
Dorothy Allison (1949)

From the New Music Box:
On April 11, 1941, Austrian-born composer Arnold Schönberg became an American citizen and officially changed the spelling of his last name to Schoenberg. He would remain in the United States until his death in 1951. Some of his most important compositions, including the Piano Concerto, the Violin Concerto, and the Fourth String Quartet, were composed during his American years.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Michel Corrette (1707-1795)
Eugen d'Albert (1864-1932)
Victor de Sabata (1892-1967)
Fiddlin' Arthur Smith (1891-1971)
Harry Mortimer (1902-1992)
Luigi Alva (1927)
Claude Bolling (1930)
Jorge Mester (1935)
Sarah Leonard (1953)
Lesley Garrett (1955)
Yefim Bronfman (1958)


William Hazlitt (1778-1830)
Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911)
David Halberstam (1934-2007)
Paul Theroux (1941)
Norman Dubie (1945)
Anne Lamott (1954)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sarasota Opera's Aida

Photo by Rod Millington
A couple of weeks ago, I visited Sarasota, Florida to observe and write about Sarasota Opera's final productions in a 28-year-long-effort to perform every opera that Verdi wrote (27) plus the alternative variations (6) and every song, choral work, orchestral work, piano piece, chamber work, you-name-it piece (including fragments). Because of other writing assignments, I'm just now getting around to writing a review of the company's production of "Aida," which took place on March 19th.

The cast was exceptional across the board with Michelle Johnson in the title role, Jonathan Burton as her lover Radames, Leann Sandel-Pantaleo as Aida's rival Amneris, and Marco Nisticò in the role of Aida's father Amonasro. Johnson displayed a strong, clear tone that revealed the emotional conflicts of her character's situation. Burton held forth with terrific heroic singing that matched up well with Johnson. Sandel-Pantaleo almost stole the show, becoming completely caught up in the frustration of Amneris in her quest of win the love of Radames.
Photo by Rod Millington
As Ramfis,Young Bok Kim conveyed ample gravitas chief priest, and Jeffrey Beruan, a graduate of Portland Opera's young artist program, created a stalwart King of the Egyptians. The Sarasota Opera Chorus, expertly prepared by Roger L. Bingaman, kept the energy high with superb contributions throughout the performance. Artistic Director Victor DeRenzi paced the enterprise very well.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Sarasota Opera house seats 1,100; so the singers don't have to strain their vocal chords to the limits in order to be heard. But with a smaller house comes a smaller stage area, which could cause traffic jams especially with productions like "Aida" that require a lot of singers for the big scenes. Stage director Stephanie Sundine did an outstanding job of keeping all of the bodies in a flow was natural (including six on stage performing trumpeters during the triumphal march scene) and made the story easy to follow. Choreographer Miro Magloire deftly managed the big scene that involved the march of the Ethiopian slaves and a ballet at the same. Despite the limited space, onstage trumpets were used to great effect.

Photo by Rod Millington
The scenic designs of David P. Gordon evoked an ancient Egyptian wonderland of temples and columns with a hodgepodge of hieroglyphics and human figures. Traditional costumes by Howard Tsvi Kaplan perfectly matched with the sets, and all was lit admirably by designer Ken Yunker.
Photo by Rod Millington

Today's Birthdays

Johann Kaspar Kerll (1627-1693)
François Giroust (1737-1799)
Supply Belcher (1751-1836)
Theodor Boehm (1794-1881)
Paolo Tosti (1846-1916)
Florence Beatrice Smith Price (1888-1953)
Sol Hurok (1888-1974)
Efrem Zimbalist Sr. (1889-1985)
Julius Patzak (1898-1974)
Paul Robeson (1898-1976)
Antal Doráti (1906-1988)
Tom Lehrer (1928)
Aulis Sallinen (1935)
Jerzy Maksymiuk (1936)
Neil Jenkins (1945)


Charles-Pierre Baudelaire (1821-1867)
Gregory Goodwin Pincus (1903-1967)
Jørn Utzon (1918-2008)

From the Writer's Almanac:
On this day in 1860, the oldest known recording of the human voice was made — someone was singing Au Clair de la Lune. French inventor Edouard-Léon Scott de Martinville captured sound waves on glass plates using a funnel, two membranes, and a stylus. He made the recording 17 years before Edison made his, but he didn't invent anything to play the recording back.

When researchers discovered these recordings three years ago, they assumed the voice singing was a woman's, so they played it at that speed. But then they re-checked the inventor's notes, and they realized that the inventor himself had sung the song, very slowly, carefully enunciating, as if to capture the beautiful totality of the human voice.

You can hear the astonishing recording at both speeds at

Friday, April 8, 2016

Young artists to perform with Vancouver Symphony (WA) this weekend

My most recent writing for The Columbian newspaper is a preview of the Vancouver Symphony's concerts this weekend. The performances will feature three talented teenagers: pianists Lauren Yoon and Anthony Zheng, and cellist Richard Lu. Yoon will play the second movement from Chopin's Second Piano Concert. Zheng will play Liszt’s “Totentanz,” and Lu will perform the fourth movement of Edward Elgar’s “Cello Concerto.” The program also includes Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice," Ravel’s “Mother Goose Suite,s" and Strauss'“Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks.”

Today's Birthdays

Claudio Merulo (1533-1604)
Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770)
Sir Adrian Boult (1889-1983)
E. Y. (Yip) Harburg (1896-1981)
Josef Krips (1902-1974)
Franco Corelli (1921-2003)
Walter Berry (1929-2000)
Lawrence Leighton Smith (1936-2013)
Meriel Dickinson (1940)
Dame Felicity Lott (1947)
Diana Montague (1953)
Anthony Michaels-Moore (1957)


Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)
Robert Giroux (1914-2008)
Seymour Hersh (1937)
Barbara Kingsolver (1955)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Haydn-inspired OSO concert ends with windmill-twirling Don Quixote

Guest review by Nan Haemer

I enjoyed the programming of the Oregon Symphony concert performed at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Saturday, March 19th immensely. In the introduction to the concert, Conductor Carlos Kalmar explained his theme of “School of Variations,” and the program lived up to that.

First up was Johannes Brahms's “Variations on a Theme by Haydn" played with no pause between movements. I lost count of the variations at some point, but just trying to keep track of them kept me more aware of the movement of the theme and the color shifts. The opening was stately and gracefully done, the sound well-balanced between the winds and strings. This was a great introduction to the rest of the piece. The orchestra showed off terrific musicality throughout: subtle and soft when needed, beautiful gentle horns and bassoon, and lovely unisons of flute and clarinet with well-shaped phrases. Variation 7 especially had sweet low celli and basses playing an almost Viennese sounding dance with stretched beats that breathed like a lover’s catching breath. Very poignant. I heard all voices clearly in the Brahms, when soft or fuller as in the Finale where all the instruments re-proclaimed the theme clearly before fading out to a last trumpet call.

Next on the program was a smaller ensemble for Haydn’s Symphony #90 in C Major. The transparency of the sections reminded me of the first time I heard Glenn Gould play Bach. I could hear every part, every counter-melody clearly and equally. The tuning of the winds in the opening struggled, but eventually gelled. The flute solo and the brass ensemble was great. The lower string pizzicato section shifted into a more muscular Haydn in the middle with the other strings, then back to a dance! Principal bassoonist Carin Miller rocked the second movement with trills and register key flips done lightly. This was followed by a clear and warm flute solo by principal Martha Long with easy and confident grace notes. The strings' decrescendos on upward ending phrases were amazing. At some point it did sound like someone’s string peg loosened or a string broke, but it was fixed quickly. Horns and brass in the third "Menuet" movement were super. The fourth movement, an "Allegro Assai," had some intonation problems in upper strings. The orchestra took a BLISTERING pace, especially well played by the bassi and celli as the orchestra raced to … a few false endings! The audience, though perhaps forewarned via a hint in the program notes, could not figure out if the piece was truly ending. Yet another musical joke by Mr Haydn, well done by the OSO.

There were some Baroque improvisations by the oboe and flute in the second movement and perhaps in the final false endings as well, but it wasn’t completely clear when and where they were happening. I think they started with their best and most complex improvs first, instead of building. But they DID improv, not something you hear everyday from the OSO!

Third up was Richard Strauss's “Don Quixote." Have you ever seen a Tuba mute? “Now that’s a MUTE!” was all I could think. Also on stage was a windmill/storm machine in the percussion battery. So you know it’s going to be fun. And it was!

This piece had the most forces onstage, including the featured solo cellist, Christian Poltéra. The opening was drunk. Clearly Don Quixote had been sampling some Spanish wine. Let me clarify: Don Quixote is what is called a tone-poem. I’ve been asked “what’s a tone-poem?” by a lot of my friends. I think of it as music that is so composed as to portray a story line, the music making pictures in your head of the action in the story. Strauss was a master at it, and the opening of Don Quixote put me immediately on the plains of Spain, slightly inebriated! In keeping with the "School of Variations" theme of the concert, the middle movement of the Strauss is entitled “Theme and Variations”. Strauss also wrote some of the most difficult orchestra music to play. Most was very well played, but I think I have heard tighter playing overall in past concerts by the OSO.

One of the standouts in the Strauss was the principal clarinetist Bharat Chandra. I’m a recovering clarinetist -- playing the low register without over-blowing and sounding blatty is HARD. He played with a rich, round, and beautiful tone throughout, both in his opening solo and again at the end when he played with tenderness in his higher register. Fantastic!

The entire viola section had numerous soli sections that were very well played. Assistant principal cellist Charles Noble substituted at the last minute as the solo violist and played confidently, accurately, with a handsome tone that was clearly audible. Concertmaster Sarah Kwak had the solo violin parts, and while spot on with feeling, speed, and accuracy, her playing was for the most part barely audible which was a shame.

The featured soloist, Mr. Poltéra, also was buried more often than not, especially in the first movement. When I could hear him, the tone was harsh and at times not in tune. I preferred his lower register and his more melodic playing in the later movements.

Tenor tubist Demondrae Thurman excelled with gorgeous playing. The trumpet and french horn passages that were an octave apart were also excellently done.

The storm section with the windmill/storm machine was flat-out terrific and thrilling. Huge and noble, dark and sad at the same time. The pizzicato section with Poltéra and the bassoon solo was fabulous as well, then moved into all seven french horns and three trumpets playing simultaneously. Wow! The low strings were tender, then combative, then menacing. All of this texture wound from sublime to drunk, to madness and eventually to peaceful resignation at the Finale. All in all, it was an enjoyable journey through variations via Austria and Germany to Spain!
Nan Haemer is a professional singer and voice teacher.

Today's Birthdays

Charles Burney (1726-1814)
Domenico Dragonetti (1763-1846)
Robert Casadesus (1899-1972)
Billie Holiday (1915-1959)
Ravi Shankar (1920-2012)
Ikuma Dan (1924-2001)


William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890-1998)
Donald Barthelme (1931-1989)
Daniel Ellsberg (1931)

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Portland Concert Opera's Iolanta: Big Big voices in a small Old Church

Kimberly Giordano
Sunday April 3 saw the second concert of Portland Concert Opera's inaugural offering, Tchaikovsky's one-act opera Iolanta.  Performing at Portland's Old Church, the group delivered an exciting rendition that heralds a promising future.

Consisting of active professional opera singers, the level of talent in this one small building was staggering. Kimberly Giordano sang the title role with a warm and remarkably polished voice. She invested the role with true emotion that only added to her vocal performance; when toward the end Iolanta could finally see, there was nothing lacking for a sense of wonder and amazement in her rendering.

Bass Damien Geter's King Rene was amazing to listen to. Possessed of a rolling, resonant voice even at the lowest register, both his performance in ensembles and as a soloist was compelling. Zachary Lenox sang the role of Ibn Hakia, and his Monologue was driving and pointed--one could feel the tension crackling between Ibn Hakia and the king. Also of note was Aaron Short, singing the role of Vaudemont. It's always a pleasure to hear a tenor singing completely full-voiced and have it sound so effortless, natural and powerful.

It wasn't just the principals evincing an incredibly high caliber of singing. A number of voices familiar to Portland opera fans were among the group as well. Erik Hundtoft sang the role of Robert with gusto, singing a passionate and robust aria. Beth Madsen Bradford was Marta, and it was a sheer pleasure to hear the quality and richness as she sang deep into her modal voice early on. There were fine ensemble pieces, including a swooning trio with Marta, Brigitta (Jocelyn Claire Thomas) and Laura (Rebecca Sacks.)  The final chorus with the entire cast was epic, with a quiet a cappella moment after a spectacular fortissimo that was arresting in both effect and execution.

The small orchestra was full of excellent players as well, and artistic director Lance Inouye (also wielding the baton) clearly has a vision for this ensemble, a vision that should excite Portland opera goers and fans of downright excellent singing. If there was any problem at all it was that the voices were so large for such a small hall...but if that's a problem, it's one I'll gladly endure.

Today's Birthdays

Johann Kuhnau (1660-1772)
André‑Cardinal Destouches (1672-1749)
Edison Denisov (1929-1996)
André Previn (1929)
Merle Haggard (1937-2016)
Felicity Palmer (1944)
Pascal Rogé (1951)
Pascal Devoyon (1953)
Julian Anderson (1967)


Raphael (Rafaello Sanzio da Urbino) (1483-1520)
Joseph Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936)

From the New Music Box:
On April 6, 1897, the U.S. government granted Thaddeus Cahill a patent for his Telharmonium, or Dynamophone, the earliest electronic musical instrument. Cahill built a total of three such instruments, which utilized a 36-tone scale and used telephone receivers as amplifiers. The first one, completed in 1906 in Holyoke, Massachussetts was 60 feet long and weighed 200 tons. It was housed in "Telharmonic Hall" on 39th Street and Broadway New York City for 20 years.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Louis Spohr (1784-1859)
Albert Roussel (1869-1937)
Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989)
Goddard Lieberson (1911-1977)
Evan Parker (1944)
Julius Drake (1959)


Thomas Hobbs (1588-1679)
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)

Monday, April 4, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731)
Bettina Brentano von Arnim (1785-1859)
Hans Richter (1843-1916)
Pierre Monteux (1875-1964)
Eugène Bozza (1905-1991)
Muddy Waters (1915-1983)
Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004)
Sergei Leiferkus (1946)
Chen Yi (1953)
Thomas Trotter (1957)
Jane Eaglen (1960)
Vladimir Jurowski (1972)


Marguerite Duras (1914-1996)
Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Baptiste‑Antoine Forqueray (1699-1782)
Edward Elzear "Zez" Confrey (1895-1971)
Sir Neville Cardus (1888-1975)
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (1895-1968)
Louis Appelbaum (1918-2000)
Sixten Ehrling (1918-2005)
Kerstin Meyer (1928)
Garrick Ohlsson (1948)
Mikhail Rudy (1953)


Washington Irving (1783-1894)
Herb Caen (1933-1997)

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Franz Lachner (1803-1890)
Kurt Adler (1905-1988)
April Cantelo (1928)
Marvin Gaye (1939-1984)
Raymond Gubbay (1946)


Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)
Émile Zola (1840-1902)
Max Ernst (1891-1976)
Camille Paglia (1947)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Today's Birthdays

Jean‑Henri d'Anglebert (1629-1691)
Ferrucco Busoni (1866-1924)
F Melius Christiansen (1871-1955)
Serge Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
William Bergsma (1921-1994)


Edmond Rostand (1868-1918)
Milan Kundera (1929)
Francine Prose (1947)