Browsing: Contemporary

Samuel Hasselhorn has won the 2018 voice competition! The International Queen Elisabeth Grand Prize – Queen Mathilde Prize receives 25,000€ and numerous concerts in Belgium and abroad. The prizewinners First Prize : Samuel Hasselhorn (27, baritone) Germany Second Prize : Eva Zaïcik (30, mezzo-soprano) France Third Prize : Ao Li (30, basso) China Fourth Prize : Rocío Pérez (27, soprano) Spain Fifth Prize : Héloïse Mas (30, mezzo-soprano) France Sixth Prize : Marianne Croux (27, soprano) Belgium – France  The six unranked laureates, in alphabetical order : Germán Enrique Alcántara (30, baritone) Argentina Alex DeSocio (30, baritone) USA Yuriy Hadzetskyy (26, baritone) Ukraine Sooyeon Lee (29, soprano) Korea …

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Arvo Pärt: The Symphonies (ECM New Series) Worth buying for the booklet alone. A symphonic cycle from most composers marks a stately progress from imitative beginnings to a predictive summit. Think Brahms with all that Beethoven clutter in the first symphony and those weighty Mahler anticipations in the fourth. Well, Arvo Pärt is not quite like that. His first two symphonies, written in the mid-1960s, are set in Schoenbergian twelve-tone with a polyphonic overlay, an intentional affront to Soviet rule in Estonia. The third, dated 1971, marks his conversion to Russian Orthodoxy with voices from heaven, Bach chorales and other…

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Vera Causa Opera has announced they will be performing Julijana Hajdinjak’s first opera, titled Padajuća Zvijezda in Waterloo and Cambridge on June 22nd, 2018 and June 23rd, 2018.  Set in a celestial kingdom, Padajuća Zvijezda is a tale of two lovers in a world where love has become outlawed. Love, in the kingdom is punishable by banishment to Earth — a dishonourable world lacking the beauty of the galaxy. A story of passion, justice and optimism, Padajuća Zvijezda explores the power of human emotion and how it can change the world. The new Canadian-Croatian opera is based on the…

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PREVIEW: Of “Cycles of My Being,” Carnegie Hall, April 24, 2018 – the New York premiere of a new song cycle by composer Tyshawn Sorey and poet Terrance Hayes, performed by tenor Lawrence Brownlee; and REVIEW: Of the song cycle’s earlier world premiere at Opera Philadelphia, February 20, 2018. “Cycles of My Being” – a new art song cycle about the contemporary black male experience, is a compact, provocative, movingly confessional musical experience. Created specifically for, and in collaboration with, acclaimed operatic tenor Lawrence Brownlee, the work proves to be an eloquent and lyrical disburdening of pain and alienation –…

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Grazyna Bacewicz: Quintets, quartets (Chandos) How many times have I told you not to buy a record for its cover? Well, this one justifies the purchase. The image shows the central square of a small town in Poland in the 1960s, a place where nothing ever happens yet everything is closely watched. The image has been colourised for added artificiality. It is stifling, cloying, vividly reminiscent of the oppressive dullness of Communism. The music is made to match. Bacewicz, who lived from 1909 to 1969, was a busy violinist who kept her head down and played well within the rules.…

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Montreal International Guitar Festival and Competition Again this year, the Montreal International Guitar Festival and Competition promises to be an event to follow. The program involving artists François Fowler, Jesus Serrano Huitron, Emma Rush, Roberto Fabri, Samuel Coyle, Tariq Harb, Jeffrey McFadden and Dave Pilon guarantees a rare spectacle. The festival continues its youth competition in addition to offering many master classes. Concerts start at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The musical cocktail is a mix of musicians of different nationalities. May 25-27, D.B. Clarke Theater. www.guitaremontreal.com 21C Music Festival The 21C Music Festival celebrates its fifth anniversary with…

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As part of its 30th anniversary, the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal will delve into its second staged opera production. Hockey noir is a chamber opera built on film noir, where dark atmospheres, conspiracies, investigations and seduction prevail. The action takes place in 1950s Montreal, in the heart of hockey playoffs that see the Montreal Quabs facing the Toronto Pine Needles. ECM+ artistic director Véronique Lacroix has asked Cecil Castellucci to write the libretto and André Ristic to compose the music. This creative duo produced the comic book opera Les aventures de Madame Merveille in 2010. “Madame Merveille was memorable,” Lacroix…

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“The vision I had of ECM + 30 years ago has remained virtually intact,” says Véronique Lacroix, artistic director of the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal. Lacroix directs the ensemble, which she founded in 1987 as a graduate of the Montreal Conservatoire, with the same ardour and the same philosophy. “Our mandate was clear: to present multidisciplinary creations, to introduce today’s Canadian composers to the general public and to develop a specialist ensemble in contemporary music. It is still done verbatim, year after year.” An admiration for the “total artwork” espoused by Wagner leads Véronique Lacroix towards multidisciplinarity as the guiding…

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Gershwin: Rahpsody in Blue, concerto in F (Myrios) On first hearing, this seemed nothing special – a Russian-Jewish pianist, Kirill Gerstein, tackling the two Gershwin concertos with the all-American St. Louis Orchestra. Worthy cultural diplomacy but nothing that immediately gripped the ear. It took a second spin to grasp the truly challenging aspects of this undertaking. Gerstein takes the jazz band version of Rhapsody in Blue and bends the rhythms in such a way that they sound almost Jewish. Remember that Gershwin’s parents were, like Gerstein, Russian Jews, and that the music the composer knew as a boy did not…

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Martinu: Double concertos (Pentatone) It feels like I’ve spent half my life trying to persuade people that the next composer they should discover is Bohuslav Martinu. A Czech of limitless melodic permutations, he takes the legacies of Dvorak and Janacek forward into an early modern idiom, infused by a decade of living in Paris. I know no work of Martinu’s that outlasts my interest. He is incapable of being boring. This jam-packed recording presents three of his most scintillating works. If they don’t convert you to Martinu, nothing will. The concerto for two violins and orchestra are played blazingly by…

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