News, Commentary on Classical Music, Jazz, Theater, Dance & More

Steve Nagel

Carnegie Hall Lobby - Dec 1, 2015 - Google Cultural Institute /

Google Cultural Institute Introduces 360-Degree Videos of Virtual Concerts >>

If front-row seating to a symphony orchestra isn’t impressive enough, the Google Cultural Institute now offers a new option: simply go inside the orchestra (virtually). Using specialized cameras, placed on stage amidst active performances, the Google Cultural Institute has released a series of 360-degree videos of virtual concerts that allow users to choose their preferred angle of appreciation, all within a YouTube window.

ACO Logo - Dec 7, 2012 - American Composers Orchestra /

American Composers Orchestra: 25th Annual Underwood New Music Reading Session >>

The chance for seven young composers to have their music read through by the American Composers Orchestra is still within grasp. Submissions for the 25th Annual Underwood New Music Reading Session are being accepted (and have been since October), but the December 11th deadline is creeping up fast.

Leonard Bernstein

Carnegie Hall @ 125: Somewhere Project Explores ‘West Side Story’ >>

Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story is perhaps the most pivotal musical of the 20th Century, pivotal not only for its timeless themes but also for its revolutionary use of music in connection with choreography. For Carnegie Hall’s 125th Anniversary, the Weill Music Institute is paying homage to this giant among musicals with a venture called the Somewhere Project. At the center of this event will be three full performances of West Side Story at the Knockdown Center in Queens, NY from March 4th-6th, 2016.

UN Climate Change Summit In Copenhagen

String Quartet Composed from 133 Years of Climate Change Data, by Daniel Crawford [WATCH] >>

Pushing the uses for music ever more diverse, the latest application of the string quartet carries some scientific implications. 133 years of climate change data have been compressed into a short piece for string quartet by geographer (and now composer) Daniel Crawford, a senior at the University of Minnesota. Visualizing the data that has been accurately collected from various parts of the world about climate changes, Daniel Crawford devised a system where the stringed instruments would represent time, latitude, and climate in the span of a short piece.

Hans Abrahamsen - Nov 6, 2012 - architectureaboutdancing /

Grawemeyer Award Goes to Hans Abrahamsen for Song Cycle 'let me tell you' >>

The Grawemeyer Award’s 2016 recipient was chosen early this year following a leak by Musical America. Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen has taken the title along with a $100,000 grant for his 30-minute song cycle for soprano and orchestra called 'let me tell you'.

Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall @ 125: Ensemble ACJW Hosts Concert for Second Graders >>

In honor of Carnegie Hall's 125th Anniversary, the iconic performance hall has been assembling an eclectic series of events, some celebrating not just the venue's past, but its future as well. In the interests of spreading the joy of classical music to a new generation (and ensuring a full house for decades to come), Carnegie Hall invited forty second graders from Hamilton Heights School for a surprise classical concert performed by members of the Ensemble ACJW.

Leo Ornstein - Mar 12, 2009 - Severo Ornstein /

REVIEW: Marc-André Hamelin & Pacifica Quartet, 'Leo Ornstein: Piano Quintet' >>

To review a recording from a highly underperformed repertoire presents a serious moral challenge. Lacking a frame of reference places an enormous burden on performers whose recordings will immediately be linked to the composer. For the listener, a leap of faith is necessary to combat any undue biases surrounding the piece itself. This very issue seemed to arise in the aftermath of September's release of 'Leo Ornstein: Piano Quintet, String Quartet No.2', recorded by Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin and the Pacifica Quartet.

Hans Zimmer and Johnny Marrr

WATCH: Hans Zimmer Releases Trailer for European Concert Tour, Johnny Marr Joining? >>

Hans Zimmer, the composer of many blockbusters, is temporarily trading in his baton for a stage piano. Having never performed a whole tour of his own music before, that will all change next spring as he gears up to go to Europe for the Hans Zimmer Concert Tour 2016 and has released a trailer video about the tour. According to Indiewire, (and suggested by the trailer promoting the tour), there's a possibility that Johnny Marr (of Smiths fame) will join Zimmer.

John Adams (Composer)

REVIEW: Beethoven Influences 'John Adams: Absolute Jest & Grand Pianola Music' >>

Diving in as close to an artist's mind as possible is an obsession for most art-lovers. For musicians, our heroes of composition are especially aloof because of the language they use: a language that exists to say what words could never say. This makes it extremely difficult to get inside their head... yet we always feel like we know them. Composer John Adams seems to feel this way towards Beethoven, as he told Classical NPR's 'Deceptive Cadence'. When examining the influence of Beethoven in John Adams's latest album, 'Absolute Jest & Grand Pianola Music', the first of its two pieces (his eponymous concerto) could almost be likened to a matryoshka doll, or "nesting" doll.

Rubik's Cube

Music Theorist Michael Staff on TED Ed: ‘Play a Rubik’s Cube Like a Piano’ with Group Theory >>

Playing piano can be difficult. Although, as a pianist, I’d argue that solving the Rubik’s cube is more difficult…way more difficult! It all depends on your perspective of course, but music theorist Michael Staff on TED Ed is showing us how those two perspectives are, in fact, one and the same. In his video, “How to Play a Rubik’s Cube Like a Piano” [below], Michael Staff exhibits how each process (playing the piano and solving the Rubik's cube) relies on the same properties of mathematics, properties that make up a system called group theory.

Red Wine

Vinfonies Festival Invites Ben Houge of NewMusicBox to Write Music to Pair With Wine >>

Although synesthesia is an extreme case of experiencing one sense through another that most of us will never experience, most of us do have each sense influenced by our other senses to some degree. Taste, for instance, is a sense just as prone to interacting with our hearing as it does with our sense of smell, or with our sense of touch, or frankly, any combination thereof. The Vinifonies wine and music festival takes this a step further by inviting musicians, such as Ben Houge, to write music to be paired with wine for blind tasting events.

Jake Shimabukuro

Byron Yasui Unveils Ukulele Concerto ‘Campanella’ With Jake Shimabukuro >>

A funny thing of minor historic consequence happened back in June. An underrated instrument found new respect in the music community thanks to a brazen foray into the symphonic arena: a 25-minute ukulele concerto -- yes, a ukulele concerto called 'Campanella'. Although the ukulele has seen other attempts at orchestral integration before, it is the ambition of composer Byron Yasui that is now turning heads.

The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys

LIVE REVIEW: St. Thomas Choir of Men, Boys Pay Tribute to Mozart, Haydn >>

On Thursday, November 12th, the St. Thomas Choir of Men & Boys, performing with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, gave a stunning performance of Mozart's unfinished, but nonetheless incomparable 'Requiem in D minor', and Haydn's 'Missa in Angustiis' (the Nelson Mass) at St. Thomas church. Also joining the ensemble were four renowned soloists: Soprano Katharine Dain, Mezzo-Soprano Brenda Patterson, Tenor Dann Coakwell and Bass-Baritone Charles Perry Sprawls. The magnificent caverns of Manhattan's 1914 Episcopal church bellowed with the majesty of these perennial works in concerted memory of John Gavin Scott (1956-2015), the parish's resident organist and music director who sadly passed away this past August.

Liying Zhu - Sep 25, 2015 - Siccas Guitars /

LIVE REVIEW: Guitarists Liying Zhu, Ekachai Jearakul Serenade Carnegie's D'Addario Series >>

Classical guitar thrives in the Far East -- at least that's the impression performers Liying Zhu & Ekachai Jearakul left us with after their participation in the November 6th's D'Addario Performance Series at Weill Recital Hall (in Carnegie Hall).

Thomas Crawford ACO St John Passion

LIVE REVIEW: 'St. John Passion' Re-Lived by Rufus Müller, American Classical Orchestra (ACO) >>

The fluttering, genteel tenor of Rufus Müller, and his role as St. John the Evangelist, might be enough to ease the spirit of Easter into any autumn day. But to be accurate, it was the entirety of the American Classical Orchestra (ACO), under the helm of Thomas Crawford (cooperating with a host of vocal treasures, including that of Rufus Muller, Teresa Wakim and Paul Max Tipton) that brought out the luster of J.S. Bach's liturgical masterpiece, 'St. John Passion' on November 3rd at Lincoln Center.

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