Browsing: Interviews

PREVIEW: of the new MasterVoices concert presentation of Babes in Toyland by Victor Herbert (Carnegie Hall, New York City, April 27, 2017 at 7 p.m.); and INTERVIEW: with MasterVoices’ musical director Ted Sperling. Long before Sondheim walked on the dark side with Into the Woods, or Disney began issuing its franchise line of tailored fairy-tale musicals, composer Victor Herbert and his Broadway posse had raided the nursery cradle, character-snatching a mother lode of Mother-Goose autochthons to populate the monumental 1903 operetta, Babes in Toyland. They’re all there – Mary Quite Contrary, Tom Tom the Piper’s Son, Little Bopeep, Jack, Jill,…

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REVIEW: of the new Simone Dinnerstein classical album Mozart in Havana; and INTERVIEWS: with pianist Simone Dinnerstein (and with pedagogue and activist Solomon Mikowsky). What happens when a nice girl from Brooklyn, a bad boy from Salzburg, and a precocious passel of Cuban children of the Revolution all get together? If the parties in question are acclaimed pianist Simone Dinnerstein, composer Wolfgang Mozart, and the members of the Havana Lyceum Orchestra, the answer is Mozart in Havana – Dinnerstein’s new album, debuting April 21 from SONY Classical, and destined to be one of the most talked-about classical recording drops of…

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INTERVIEW: with Lawrence Brownlee (and Opera Philadelphia general director David Devan). The busy life of one world-class tenor just got that much busier, and the American opera scene stands to benefit mightily by it. On March 30, Opera Philadelphia announced that renowned tenor Lawrence Brownlee will be its newest “artistic advisor” – a role in which the artist will carry an impressive brief of prerogatives for advancing the programming, outreach, and project development of a company already regarded as among the most progressive, energetic and innovative in the country. Brownlee is, of course, an international performance star, appearing regularly on…

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Samy Moussa, a young Montreal composer, will see his work premiered on the occasion of the 375th anniversary of the city of Montreal by the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. At 32 years old, Moussa has just won the 2017 Hindemith Prize, given to a contemporary composer and accompanied by an award of 20,000 euros. This is not the composer’s first collaboration with the OSM, since the soberly-titled Symphonie is his fifth orchestral commission. It is, however, his longest and most ambitious work. In a brief interview, Moussa spoke to us about the circumstances of the creation of the work and…

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When retired Concordia music professor Phil Cohen was hospitalized in early February, his piano students didn’t want to miss their lesson, so they joined him at the Richardson Hospital where he was recovering. For a brief moment the common room was transformed into a ­concert hall with a master class in progress. As patients watched TV while others listened, the old beat-up piano-in-residence, freshly tuned for the occasion, filled the space with the music of Granados, Albeniz, and Prokofiev. This is a significant year for Cohen, who turned 90 in February. It is his 50th year since joining Concordia, where…

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Many years ago, Ft. Worth, Texas was perhaps best known for its stockyards. Ranchers would organize massive cattle drives to bring their herds to its railhead and slaughterhouses. It was a “cowtown” with all the unsavoury services that went with that connotation, including gambling, drinking, prostitution, and all-out hell-raising. Bits of the stockyards are still there, now a tourist attraction rather than a collection of foul-smelling pens and meat-packing factories. Over the past 20 years, Ft. Worth has ­undergone a major transformation. Its ­population today approaches a million ­residents and it boasts such major businesses as Lockheed Martin, one of…

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“After this, what is left for us to write?” —Franz Schubert after hearing Beethoven’s late String Quartet No. 14, Op. 131 This year at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival, the Dover Quartet will be in residence to play the complete cycle of Beethoven’s 16 String Quartets and the Große Fuge Op. 133. Winners of the first prize at the 2013 Banff International String Quartet Competition (BISQC), this youthful US-based quartet recently won Avery Fisher Career Grant, the highest honour for performers at this stage of their career. The Dover Quartet—comprised of violinists Joel Link and Bryan Lee, violist Milena Pajaro-van…

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“The great problem of the concert hall is that the shoebox is the ideal shape for acoustics, but no architect worth their name wants to build a shoebox.” Fortunately for classical concertgoers, this ­remark from Harvard professor of architecture Rem Koolhaas was made tongue-in-cheek. This is particularly fortunate for the Orchestre symphonique de Laval (OSL), whose principal performance venue was successfully renovated in 2016. Originally opened in 1979, Salle André-Mathieu, located within walking distance of Laval’s Montmorency metro station, now boasts excellent acoustics for symphonic music. In recent years, the hall’s managers, patrons and performing organizations lobbied for an array…

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The museum walks forth “I believe that everyone, whether they want to or not, will find their own Treasure there.” — Malraux We might well hear the – probably ill-founded – criticism that museums are too hermetic, but the project the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts intends to launch in partnership with the McCord for the city’s 375th anniversary festivities seems like a legitimate attempt to break down conventional boundaries. Entitled La Balade pour la paix: An Open-Air Museum, the exhibition will celebrate the ideals of openness and humanism that have moulded the history of Montreal and Canada, while also…

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Dang Thai Son is a man of discriminating taste. After a swirl and a sniff and a sip, he sent back a glass of red from Burgenland at a midtown Montreal bistro. “It’s quite light,” he said in his soft and gently accented English. “Maybe something richer.” This Hanoi-born pianist and long-time Montrealer is in the business of ­making fine distinctions. Recently recognized with an Opus Prize for a 2016 recital of Chopin and Schumann at Bourgie Hall, Son is perhaps even better known as high-end consultant to young pianists from around the world and a judge on the competition…

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