Grammy-nominated cellist Matt Haimovitz is no stranger to performing in public spaces and alternative venues. Haimovitz is the first classical artist to play at the legendary punk club CBGB, he played for Occupy Wall Street, and went on a 50-state tour celebrating living American composers. On November 3rd MH will perform J.S Bach's universally beloved Cello Suites, as well as works by American composers Philip Glass and Vijay Iyer, for voters at in Des Moines Iowa, home of the first in the nation political contest. This performance is made possible by #playforthevote.
If you're familiar with composer Christopher Tin, it may be because he made history as the first composer to win a Grammy Award for music written for a video game.
"The song that I wrote a Grammy for is called Baba Yetu, and it's actually a choral setting of the Lord's Prayer in Swahili. And it was originally written for the video game Civilization IV which is a very legendary franchise in the gaming world. In 2009, I rerecorded the song and released it on my debut album, Calling All Dawns. So six years after the song was brought to the world - in this form of a video game theme - is when it was finally honored as as a Grammy winning song."
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was featured on that Grammy-winning song, and they're collaborating with Christopher once again on his latest solo recording, To Shiver the Sky. It's a grand production featuring three choir and two opera stars: soprano Danielle de Niese and tenor Pene Pati.
"I had an idea early on that I wanted to do an oratorio based on the history of mankind's quest to fly. The history of aviation, from Da Vinci's notebooks and the legend of Daedalus and Icarus all the way through John F. Kennedy declaring that we would be putting a man on the moon by the decade's end. And this started because, once again, I had written a theme song for a video game. In this case, it was Civilization VI. And that song became a bit of a hit.
And so I took that song, repackaged it, rerecorded it, wrote 10 other movements around it, and found a way to basically tell the story of aviation through the words of those who actually helped propel it forward.
The piece that was the origin for this oratorio was called Sogno di Volare and it was from the video game Civilization VI and it's the first track on the new oratorio. And it's also the main theme in that it's a recurring musical motif that comes back again and again across the course of the album. Anytime humanity suffers defeat or failure or setbacks, the dream of flight theme comes back and summons us back to that cockpit, back on our feet to to try to push forward to achieve our dream of flying."
One of the pieces that really caught my ear was Astronomy. It starts quietly, in polish with words by Capernicus. It's also kind of comforting, too.
"It was in this sort of spirit of comfort, of beholding the beauty of the cosmos and sort of reveling in it, that I thought, I want this particular piece to sound. I want it to sound peaceful and calm and tranquil, but give you the impression that you are gazing at the stars and the splendor of the universe.
If you were actually to look at the sheet music, I have actually drawn in - using notes played by the orchestra - the various constellations that relate to flight. So, Phoenix, Draco the dragon, Cygnus, the Swan... If you were to draw lines between the note heads on the conductor score, and we actually even created a little video that's on my YouTube channel to show just where these constellations just sort of magically appear in the music.
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During a concert of his works last year at the Miller Theater in New York, the composer and multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey, who has little patience with distinctions between genres and styles, described his artistic goal as working toward a model of "music that perpetuates itself." A new Sorey piece for violin and orchestra, "For Marcos Balter," receives its premiere during a 45-minute livestream from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, featuring the brilliant violinist Jennifer Koh and the conductor Xian Zhang. Florence Price's "Five Folksongs in Counterpoint," arrangements of spirituals for string quartet, opens the program.
Detroit Symphony Orchestra Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m.; dso.org; available through Nov. 22.
"Nature is always more subtle, more intricate, more elegant than what we are able to imagine." ― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
The human hand: its fingers, bones, muscles, and more give us the ability to add a pinch of salt, play any number of musical instruments, change a tire, flip a pancake, and so much else. That our hands have the capacity to perform these movements repeatedly and without thinking about them is due to muscle or motor memory.
But suppose a hand were transplanted from another body. Could it-would it-retain unthinking memories created with that original body? If you were to ask Hollywood, the answer is a very blood-curdling scream of "YES!" As Halloween approaches, let's look at a few horror films in which pianists, or at least the hands they are attached to, are the stars.
The relationship between science fact and science fiction has always been something of a bridge, with inspiration flowing in both directions. Whether it's Leonardo da Vinci's revolutionary plans for flying machines and concentrated solar power, Jules Verne's Extraordinary Voyages series, or Star Trek's hands-free, voice-activated communicators and phasers, it's our imagination that keeps us in fear or helps us conquer it. Just as the unimaginable becomes the near-at-hand, so too do we brush aside the veils of superstition and fear. "Through the hand, human culture waves away animal nature," reflects Raymond Tallis in The hand: a philosophical inquiry into human being. Well, mostly. The ancient and universal nightmares still persist today, even, and perhaps especially, when we should know better.
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The joyful duo Shunia (Lisa Love and Suzanne Jackson) is back to infuse a bit of sanity and peace to our turbulent times with their new single "Sa Re Sa Sa"– a song based on the popular mantra
"Sa Re Sa Sa, Sa Re Sa Sa, Sa Re Sa Sa, Sa Rung
Har Re Har Har, Har Re Har Har, Har Re Har Har, Har Rung"
and if you watched the video, it will simply rub off on you–the chemistry, the colors, the vibrancy that they all have brought together make you forget the dark and uncertain period of the past few months.
I remember their last single "Akal," and whenever I hear it, I get goosebumps. It feels like the duo is on a crusade to drive out the negativity, the gloom, and the directionlessness that the world is engulfed with, and what could be more powerful than to do it with the power of sound–a sound replete with the power of mantras, variety of instrumentation, vocals, and vistas of hope and joy! It is a complete package!
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DECADES AGO at a Carmel Bach Festival solo violin recital the young man sitting next to me struck up a conversation. When he told me he had come from Fresno I asked him if it was to escape the summer heat there. "No," he said, "I wanted to hear how a fugue can be played on a solo violin." Good answer, I thought.
The fugue in question is the second movement from JS Bach's Sonata in A minor, the very work that opens this new Delos recital by the extraordinary Greek guitarist Smaro Gregoriadou. She uses Bach's own transcription for harpsichord of the sonata, to D minor, and plays it on a "high-tuned pedal guitar in scalloped frets of the Kertsopoulos Aesthetics.*"
For the rest of her program, titled "A Healing Fire," she uses a classical pedal guitar of the same aesthetics, a technical platform that expands the timbral colorations available to the performer. In her opening remarks, Gregoriadou writes, "The compositions in this collection offer encouragement and hope against today's dystopia and chaos; they explore spirituality, self-knowledge and transcendence, illuminating dark and ambiguous regions of the human psyche with a different kind of light, a different sort of fire. They are conduits for catharsis, an escape from conflicts, antinomy and traumas this world torments us with.
From Bach's ecstatic Credo to Gubaidulina's submersion into the most transparent awareness prayer can bring; and from Hétu's suspended scream to Britten's self-absorbing surrender to Sleep and Nothingness, these towering masterpieces are, above all, essays on the mystical, reflections of the sacred!" Britten wrote his circumspect Nocturnal after John Dowland for the late Julian Bream; its eight variations, ending in a large passacaglia are based on "Come, heavy Sleep, the image of true Death, and close up these my weary weeping eyes" from Dowland's First Book of Songs (1597), cast as a journey through the night, often meditative and tranquil, sometimes restless or agitated. Sofia Gubaidulina, a Shostakovich protégée who turned 89 on Saturday, is a woefully underrepresented yet hugely prolific Tatarstani composer of deep spiritual affect and a cheeky sense of humor, witness her The Unasked Answer for three orchestras, an obvious play on Ives' The Unanswered Question. Her Serenade for guitar, at just three minutes, doesn't really rectify her status in the West. Jacques Hétu's five-movement Suite for guitar of 1986 makes plain his French aesthetic. Why Gregoriadou calls it a ‘suspended scream' I cannot explain; Hétu (1938-2010) is a self-described melodist with a keen grasp of musical form, harmonic relationships and the guitar itself. Sure there are rigorous challenges for both the guitarist and the listener but ultimately a satisfying adventure. SM
Based on the events from the past two weeks, the word "midterm" likely provokes flashbacks of absent guidance from professors and feelings of dread while opening LockDown Browser. Hopefully, most of us have survived by now. The end of October is arguably one of the best times of the year; a time when orange, black, purple, and green seem to be the only appropriate colors and ghosts and jack o'lanterns thrive on front porches. Although there's nothing scarier than taking exams during an online semester, spookiness has only just arrived. For this week's column, I thought it'd be best to share some Hollywood-inspired sinister tunes, leaving midterms as a repressed memory and embracing the spirit of Halloween, which happens to be right around the corner.
In contrast to my love for "Psycho," I think one of my biggest regrets in life is seeing "Hereditary." The fact that sleep, an activity I was quite fond of prior to watching the film, had become impossible during the full week it took me to recover only serves as a testament to Ari Aster's talent at scaring audiences out of their wits. There are many aspects of the movie that contribute to its spine-chilling abilities, but it'd be fair to give its score some credit. "Reborn" is probably the most well-known piece from the score, partly due to its loud use at the end and its popularity as a sound on TikTok. The best (or worst) part about it is its unnatural celebratory undertone, which makes sense in the context of the scene. On the other hand, objectively hearing it makes me want to rip off my toes. Despite my love-hate relationship with the film, I can't help but admit the music is a premier feature. While watching "Hereditary" on Halloween night is quite the opposite of what I endorse, I can condone listening to "Reborn."
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To commemorate what would have been the 92nd birthday of iconic Italian composer Ennio Morricone, his home label Decca joins forces with CAM Sugar to present Morricone Segreto, a brand-new collection featuring seven previously unreleased tracks.
WaterTower Music is pleased to announce today's release of the 62-track Lovecraft Country (Soundtrack from the HBO® Original Series), featuring music from the first season of Lovecraft Country, which airs on HBO/ HBO Max, and is Based on Matt Ruff 's novel of the same name.
Inspired by the ground-breaking mission of NASA's Juno space probe and its ongoing exploration of Jupiter, Juno to Jupiter is a multi-dimensional musical journey through electronic, progressive, ambient, techno, orchestral, and vocal music.
Milan Records today announces the release of Luca Guadagnino's WE ARE WHO WE ARE (ORIGINAL SERIES SCORE) featuring music by producer, multi-instrumentalist, composer, songwriter and vocalist DEVONTÉ HYNES.
NPR Music and Lara Downes announce the launch of AMPLIFY With Lara Downes, a new bi-weekly series of intimate and deeply personal video conversations with visionary Black musicians who are shaping the present and future of the art form, premiering Saturday, October 17 on NPRMusic.org, YouTube, and social media platforms.
Created and hosted by pianist and artist Lara Downes, and co-produced by NPR Music's Tom Huizenga, this series invites viewers to experience raw, revealing, and open-hearted conversations reflecting on how artists are responding and creating in this time of profound challenge and change. Downes and her guests-initially including MacArthur Fellow vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, 2020 Avery Fisher Prize-winning clarinetist Anthony McGill, multidisciplinary artist Helga Davis, and vocalist Davóne Tines, with other guests such as Sheku Kanneh-Mason and family to follow-connect and reflect on highly relevant themes ranging from music and mission, legacy and lineage, to transformation and change.
Guests to include Rhiannon Giddens, Anthony McGill, Helga Davis, Davóne Tines, and Sheku Kanneh-Mason and family.
Series premieres today!! Saturday, October 17 on NPR Music.org and NPR's YouTube and social media platforms.
Says Downes of the series: "In this time of our collective reckoning about historical inequities in American life and art, I'm excited to amplify the voices of extraordinary artists of color, shining a bright light on a diverse and rich future that is, in the words of James Weldon Johnson, 'full of the hope that the present has brought us.'"
On March 1, 2019, American pianist Lara Downes releases her new album, Holes in the Sky, on Portrait, an imprint of the Sony Music Masterworks label.
Holes in the Sky is a genre-fluid collection of music written and performed by today's leading female artists, celebrating the contributions of phenomenal women to the past, present, and future of American music.
The music of Holes in the Sky tells the story of what women and girls can contribute to the world when they are given a chance - their dreams can make holes in the sky. Lara collaborates with an extraordinary multi-generational group of female guest artists on this album, including the iconic singer / songwriter Judy Collins, boundary-breaking violinist Rachel Barton Pine, pianist Simone Dinnerstein, fast-rising cellist Ifetayo Ali-Landing, and the urban youth vocal ensemble Musicality.
The album is presented in direct support of PLAN International Because I Am A Girl, bolstering the rights and empowerment of girls and young women around the globe; Women's Empowerment in Sacramento, ending homelessness one woman - and one family - at a time; the Downtown Women's Center in Los Angeles, a permanent and supportive housing and healthcare provider for women; Girls on the Run in Spokane, teaching life skills through fun, engaging lessons that celebrate the joy of movement; and the Lower East Side Girls Club, breaking the cycle of poverty by training the next generation of ethical, entrepreneurial, and environmental leaders.
Lara Downes' new album For Lenny celebrates the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein with a special friends-and-family tribute to the man behind the music. The recording features Bernstein's aptly-named Anniversaries for Piano, new arrangements of his songs, and world premieres of works dedicated to Bernstein by leading American composers including Stephen Sondheim, John Corigliano, and Stephen Schwartz. The album is introduced by an essay from acclaimed writer Adam Gopnik.
Pianist Lara Downes releases a solo album, America Again, worldwide on Sono Luminus on October 28, 2016. The album's title is taken from Langston Hughes' poem, Let America Be America Again, written in 1938. America Again features twenty pieces selected by Downes that explore the elusive but essential American dream, written by composers including Duke Ellington, Lou Harrison, Morton Gould, Amy Beach, George Gershwin, Angélica Negrón, Dan Visconti, Leonard Bernstein, Scott Joplin, Irving Berlin, Florence Price, Aaron Copland, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and more.
26 NEW 67 TOTAL
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In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday's birth, Lara Downes releases: A Billie Holiday Songbook on Steinway & Sons Records, A personal tribute to this sensitive, timeless icon of American music.Radiant. Intimate.
Lara Downes grew up listening to Holiday's recordings with her father, born and raised in Harlem. Trained in the conservatories of San Francisco, Paris, Vienna and New York, Downes acknowledges that Holiday's singing has been a lifelong influence. "As a musician, I learned from Billie Holiday to make something completely personal when you make music," she says. "something that is completely your own - maybe something unexpected, something indefinable, perhaps complicated, but beautiful. To take a chance. As the song says: "But beautiful to take a chance, and if you fall, you fall. And I'm thinking I wouldn't mind at all."
20 NEW 49 Total
SYND: PRI/Classical 24 Direct: Music Choice Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Houston, Austin, St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Madison WI, Canada Online: Taintradio, Classical Candor, AXS, Party934
In June of 1955, Glenn Gould made his groundbreaking recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations for Columbia Records, rescuing the Goldbergs from obscurity in one of the most significant classical recordings of a generation. Critically acclaimed pianist Lara Downes will be breaking ground of her own when Tritone Records releases her new CD 13 WAYS of Looking at the Goldberg, a fascinating new take on Bach's masterpiece. In an extraordinary coincidence of fate and timing, Lara's recording of her new Goldberg project took place over the same four days in June as Gould's historic 1955 sessions.
11 New 'ON' this week: 93 Total
Synd: NPR/Sunday Baroque, The Romantic Hours, PRI/Classical 24, Harmonia, Galaxy
Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Seattle, Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis, Houston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, Berkeley CA, San Antonio, Louisville, Purto Rico
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Pianist Lara Downes is known for her fusing of rare pianistic sensitivity and evocative, thought-provoking concepts. Her latest album, Exiles' Café-released on the Steinway & Sons label  -- is the result of a moment of inspiration after hearing a lovely little piece entitled Tango from the Exiles' Café. Downes fantasized about this café and created a narrative around it, which she describes as "both real and metaphorical." This album captures the pain, nostalgia, and freedom that are indelibly tied to this state of being-in exile. Featuring miniature works by composers such as Chopin, Milhaud, Bartok, Weill, and including a premiere work by Mohammed Fairouz, Exiles' Café goes beyond an examination of what is to be in exile, to consider the inspiration exiled composers drew from the musical communities they found in their new homes. Because in this sense, the exiles cafes were actual places – there were indeed such locations throughout history to which composers and musicians gravitated and found each other, and they and their music were influenced accordingly.
17 New 'ON' 183 Total
SYND: PRI/Classical 24, The Romantic Hours Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, MOOD, Spafax Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Dallas, Houston, Cleveland, Atlanta, St. Louis, Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Denver, New Orleans, San Antonio, Memphis, Columbus OH, Buffalo, Louisville, Madison WI, Honolulu Online: Taintradio, RadioIO, WGOE