Pianist Cédric Tiberghien will open the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Reveries and Passions” festival of French music with a solo recital of music by Debussy, Ravel and Szymanowski at Symphony Center on Sunday, May 3 at 3:00 p.m. This Symphony Center Presents program, inspired by the Festival's overall themes of beauty, fantasy and the darkness of night, will open with one of the most challenging solo piano pieces in the repertoire: Ravel's 'Gaspard de la nuit.'
Iceland's BAFTA-winning producer Ólafur Arnalds has always appreciated the intricacies and depth of Frédéric Chopin, even when he was pounding out blast beats from behind his throne in metalcore outfit Fighting Shit. But the stolid tradition of "classical recording," not surprisingly, that seemed especially flat for the Broadchurch composer. An iconoclast, perhaps, Arnalds (not to be confused with his singer-songwriter cousin, Ólöf Arnalds) wanted to put a finer point on Chopin's music here in his own digi-age.
For all the bogus boilerplate about how classical music is dead or even well-intentioned words regarding how she can stay breathing, precious few--performers, ensembles and institutions--are actually doing anything to change both conversation and prognosis. Moreover, when it comes to remounting baroque opera in our digi-epoch, fewer still have the informed perspective, due diligence and, well, cojones to really make a difference. Save for one R.B. Schlather, of course.
The one, true guitar hero, Loren Connors is nothing if not prolific: 50-plus records as far flung as Drag City to Ecstatic Peace/Father Yod to Table of the Elements, as well as countless more via his own imprints (Daggett, St. Joan, Black Label, etc.) under at least as many aliases (Loren MazzaCane Connors, Loren Mattei, Guitar Roberts, ad inf.). Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson's in the early 1990s, live and in-person, Connors continues pretty much unabated (cf. with Keiji Haino at the Whitney, with Tim Hecker at the Wick, that sold-out show at ISSUE Project with girl-in-a-band du jour Kim Gordon). Faster than Derek Bailey, more powerful than Rhys Chatham and Glenn Branca combined, able to leapfrog over Ry Cooder with a single, boundless bar of blues, his 65-year-old l'éminence grise answered some of Classicalite's none too pressing queries via e-mail.
Banjo player Jake Schepps sure is opening up the possibilities for his instrument: contemporary classical bluegrass? Yes, a thousand times so. In fact, his latest album, Entwined (Fine Mighty), is the perfect manifestation of a seemingly non-existent genre. Featuring new compositions from the likes of Marc Mellits, Gyan Riley, Matt McBane and Matt Flinner, Schepps' traditional, five-band string band sounds anything but trad here. Curious how Schepps & Co. got wise, Classicalite got on the horn with this Scruggs-slash-Stravinsky to talk process, commissioning and what's next for him, instrument and ensemble.
It's been more than two decades since we first heard from Lisa Loeb. And while I need not mention that certain song of hers by name, if you still see Mrs. Loeb as that impossibly twee twentysomething in those tortoiseshell frames pining at the center of Ethan Hawke's continuous shot, well, you're only hearing what you want to. Nine more stories later, Lisa Loeb's become a bona fide polymath. Singer, songwriter, child lit author, burgeoning eyewear magnate, two-time reality TV star (on two different networks, no less), as a mother of two, too, she's proof that you can indeed have it all. Latest case in newest point: Loeb's musical, 'Camp Kappawanna.'
Upon earning her undergrad in opera from the University North Texas, like so many others before and since, a doe-eyed Shara Worden packed up her scores and moved to New York City. Studying privately with Australian composer/violinist Padma Newsome, palling around with people like the Dessner brothers, she was determined--perhaps destined, even--for their kind of "crossover." And, indeed, just like Clogs and The National did, Worden struck gold first with the indie-r stuff. Cases in point: a gorgeous slew of remarkably baroque records--Bring Me the Workhorse (2006), A Thousand Shark's Teeth ('08), All Things Will Unwind ('11), last year's This Is My Hand--on Asthmatic Kitty Records, ground zero for through-composed indie rock.
'Mozart in the Jungle,' the hit TV series about love, ambition and jealousy backstage at the symphony, was recently renewed for a second season on Amazon Instant Video. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Tindall about her book, the series, and life after 'Mozart in the Jungle.'
It’s not every day that you see two cello players opening up for Elton John. Or playing on a hit TV show like Glee. But I guess Luka Šulić and Stejepan Hauser aren't your ordinary cellists. Together, they make up 2CELLOS--one, singular stringed sensation bridging the gap between musics classical and pop. You'll recall, Šulić and Hauser rose to fame at the frog of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” Some 9 million YouTube views later, yeah, 2CELLOS (2CELLI?) is a household name. Recently, I had the pleasure to speak with the duo about their new album 'Celloverse,' just how they come up with their music video ideas and, most importantly, bananas. Lotsa bananas.
Multi-Grammy winner, head of the studio at both Juilliard and Aspen, responsible for more new works than any other player, yes, Sharon Isbin is the very model of a modern, major guitarist. Not only does Ms. Isbin reign supreme as thee international heavyweight of the classical guitar, clearly, she's a woman--the XX-chromosomed champion of, regrettably, an all too often hyper-masculinized instrument and repertoire. To boot, Sharon Isbin is also gay.
No, Rachel Barton Pine is not a stranger to Mozart. In fact, you may even call her an expert. On January 13, for Avie Records, the acclaimed violinist released 'Mozart: Complete Violin Concertos and the Sinfonia Concertante K364'--accompanied by Sir Neville Marriner's Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Ever the scholar, and well before any mics were placed, Pine spent a lot of time reading, listening and absorbing as much as she could about that celebrated son of Leopold
Founded and curated by Kristin Marting and Kim Whitener of HERE with Beth Morrison of her own Beth Morrison Projects, PROTOTYPE is a lavish showcase of the startling breadth of underground live performance--across the globe.
In the spirit of the season, we snagged a few minutes on the horn with Trans Siberian's prodigious keyboardist Mee Eun Kim to chat about the Christmas tour season, her start with TSO and just what's next for the ensemble year-round.
Ian Williams, erstwhile guitarist in math rock pioneers Don Caballero, has been busy as of late--working on a new Battles record, writing his first piece for the American Composers Orchestra to perform at Carnegie Hall, fathering his first child. With Classicalite favorites George Manahan behind the podium, Theo Bleckmann on vocals and members of the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble lending support, Williams debuted his Clear Image work during the ACO's Orchestra Underground: Monk's Sphere, opening night of that storied ensemble's 38th season. We recently caught up with Williams to chat about his rocker past, the ACO collaboration, having a daughter and even his cameo in High Fidelity.
In 1933, John A. Rice left Rollins College amid controversy and created Black Mountain College--a liberal arts scene in North Carolina based on John Dewey's principles of progressive education. Enlightened scholars, poets and artists to come down from the mountain would include: Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Josef and Anni Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Cy Twombly, to name but a few.