Browsing: Interviews

Mark Adamo, in conversation with Charles Geyer It started as an idea over drinks. It became a quest to “achieve everything.” In 2002, Larry Edelson, then an assistant opera director completing his graduate degree at NYU, and Mark Adamo, the celebrated American composer-librettist of Little Women (one of the most oft-produced and critically lauded new operas of recent decades), were discussing – take a guess – American opera. Not how great it was, or how imperiled it was; not its funding nor its popularity – but something much more fundamental, and mysterious: Where it came from. The opera field was…

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OPERA REVIEW: Carlisle Floyd’s Prince of Players, presented by the little OPERA theatre of NY; and INTERVIEW: with the work’s creator, acclaimed American composer Carlisle Floyd. “You will be hearing more about Carlisle Floyd,” said Howard Taubman in 1956, writing in The New York Times of “a young composer who teaches at Florida State University,” whom Taubman deemed “meant for the lyric theatre.” And barely three years later, composer, critic, and educator Eric Salzman (also in the Times) already discerned in Floyd a voice that had “prepared the way for the burst of American works that followed.” The young man…

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Binge, n. (bɪndʒ): A bout of overindulgence; an instance of engaging in a particular activity (esp. eating) to excess Usually the practice of binging refers to unhealthy things: imbibing, eating whole bags of chips, and—since the invention of internet streaming services—watching so much of a television show that your computer has to check that you are still living. It was in the latter binge situation that Patrick Hansen, the Artistic Director of Opera McGill, came up with the concept of an opera binge. “My boys and I were binging on [History channel show] Vikings and I went, ‘We need an opera…

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Back in January, I interviewed Montréal-based composer Nicole Lizée for the cover of the February/March issue of La Scena Musicale. We had a long and involved conversation, covering many topics that simply could not make the print article due to space constraints. In light of the evening of her music last night with Standing Wave at the SMCQ’s Montréal/New Musics festival (which runs until March 4), I thought it would be interesting for my own sake to return to our original interview. But that’s when I realized that there’s a lot more in there that could be relevant to those…

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PROFILE: of celebrated contemporary classical music group ETHEL; and INTERVIEW: with Dorothy Lawson and Ralph Farris (of ETHEL) and composer Robert Mirabal. “We originally thought of calling ourselves ‘Hazardous Material,’” recollects violist Ralph Farris, one of the core four Juilliard-trained string players who formed the group in 1998. “But then we said, ‘Hey, wait! We’re not dangerous!’” What they are is ETHEL – a remarkable, and protean, music-making group. They inspire enthusiastic description, but defy easy definition – or, at least, any attempted definition will have a short shelf-life: what ETHEL was yesterday isn’t what ETHEL will be tomorrow, given…

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PROFILE: Interview with Ted Sperling, artistic director of MasterVoices (formerly the Collegiate Chorale); PREVIEW: MasterVoices’ new presentation of J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion – Carnegie Hall, February 9, 2017. He’s soft-spoken, genial, elegantly self-possessed. It’s difficult to imagine him indulging in tirades, or hurling withering invective. He’s a nice guy. He’s also brilliant, prodigiously talented, professionally indefatigable, and apparently liked by everyone. Ted Sperling is, in short, a bit of a blessed paradox: probably the most mannerly guest at any dinner party, he is also one of today’s most accomplished, versatile – and, yes, passionate – practitioners of a craft…

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“What happens when you find a ghost and you bring it into a work of music?” asks Nicole Lizée. Insofar as that question is ­answerable, her compositions that form a dialogue with the surrealist film worlds of David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick, and Alfred Hitchcock or compositions that meld outmoded and glitching gadgets with western chamber instruments unveil the eerie temporal rift between present and past as humans interact with media and technology. Sound Sources Born in small-town Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan in 1973, Lizée’s ­experiments in sound led her to pursue piano at Brandon University, Manitoba followed by a MA in composition…

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Opéra de Montréal’s production of Another Brick in the Wall, inspired by Pink Floyd’s cult album, must be one of the most eagerly anticipated arts event of the year. Composer Julien Bilodeau was given the enormous task of turning the work by Roger Waters into an opera. He spoke to us about the process. After graduating from the Montreal’s Conservatoire de musique, Bilodeau completed further studies in Paris and Frankfurt, and in 2006 received the Robert Flemming prize from the Canada Council for the Arts for most promising composer. Since then he has composed works commissioned by the Montreal Symphony…

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Beginning with a look at the role of the harp in ancient Greek and Egyptian mythology, Harpmania takes audiences through the sounds of different harps ranging from the lyra, a small ­traditional Celtic harp, to the modern-day electric harp. It’s a journey showcasing the harp’s history and repertoire, up to the role the harp plays in the music of today. For ­example, did you know that harp music is prominent in a lot of video game music? “The harp may seem like a simple instrument, but it has played a very large and important role in different countries and cultures,”…

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The opera L’Amour de loin – or Love from Afar – premiered to conspicuous plaudits in Salzburg in 2000, and has enjoyed ­numerous productions around the globe. It also signaled the beginning of a ­remarkably fertile, ongoing collaboration ­between composer Kaija Saariaho and then first-time librettist Amin Maalouf. Maalouf has since partnered with Saariaho on three more musico-dramatic works, all of them sharing certain distinctive features: strong female characters, epitomizing a ­generative, rancorless strain of feminism; an elusive, gossamer air of mysticism; a usually gentle, ultimately affirmative perception of the workings of providence; and a subtle yet dogged curiosity about the paradox of simultaneous…

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