Two time Emmy winning composer Michael Whalen sits down for an in depth interview to discuss music production, his new album, and the music biz with Rob Mullins. They covered a lot of ground in 50 minutes. Music. Life. Rhodes pianos. Advice for young composers. Duran Duran. Quincy Jones. David Foster. The "three questions" that every young musician asks me and much, much more. Enjoy the attached wide ranging conversation.
Data Lords is the new double-album by Grammy Award-winning composer and bandleader Maria Schneider. Inspired by conflicting relationships between the digital and natural worlds, the recording features Schneider's acclaimed orchestra of 18 world-class musicians.
"No one can deny the great impact that the data-hungry digital world has had on our lives. As big data companies clamor for our attention, I know that I'm not alone in struggling to find space – to keep connected with my inner world, the natural world, and just the simpler things in life," says Schneider. "Just as I feel myself ping ponging between a digital world and the real world, the same dichotomy is showing up in my music. In order to truly represent my creative output from the last few years, it felt natural to make a two- album release reflecting these two polar extremes."
Here and Now host Robin Young speaks with Schneider about "Data Lords." (Photo by Briene Lermitte)
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When the coronavirus forced concert halls and opera houses to close in March, a flood of music came online. The livestreams proved especially gratifying, offering a jolt of you-are-there excitement. Many of these programs were offered for free.
But musicians and institutions have to make money. Will the public pay for music online?
The answer is just beginning to emerge. The artists and organizations who can draw sizable numbers of paying customers may be those who already had globally prominent brands before the pandemic. The Metropolitan Opera, for example, has recently begun a series of livestreamed recitals featuring star singers, sophisticated camerawork and vibrant audio. The tenor Jonas Kaufmann's recital last month, tickets for which cost $20, was viewed by 44,000 people - not a bad gross.
The second program in the series took place on Aug. 1, with the soprano Renée Fleming and the pianist Robert Ainsley performing live from Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C. (The film is available through Friday, and Sunday afternoon brings a new livestream featuring Roberto Alagna and Aleksandra Kurzak.)
Ms. Fleming was in splendid voice, singing with honeyed tone and elegant phrasing. She delivered some favorites, like "O mio babbino caro." But she also included novelties, like a coquettish aria from Leoncavallo's - not Puccini's - "La Bohème" and lesser heard arias from operas and oratorios by Handel and Korngold. And she began with a premiere composed for her: John Corigliano's eloquently understated "And the People Stayed Home," a setting of a poem written by Catherine M. O'Meara that went viral at the start of the pandemic.
Prerecorded offerings might seem less fulfilling to music lovers who are longing for the live concert experience. Yet if the content is substantive and the quality of the video high, these programs can be rewarding. Caramoor, in Katonah, N.Y., is streaming the four musicians of Sandbox Percussion and the pianist Conor Hanick, through Sunday, for $10.
Caramoor, usually a summer favorite just north of New York City, has this year presented a series of livestreams, with tickets for purchase, from its intimate, elegant Music Room. The programs have been adventurous and excellent, including a recent one featuring members of the Knights, a chamber orchestra, playing a premiere by Anna Clyne and a Brahms sextet.
The Sandbox Percussion program had to be filmed in advance, since the works being performed utilized an enormous array of unusual and cumbersome percussion instruments. The concert included inventive pieces by Andy Akiko, Juri Seo, Amy Beth Kirsten and David Crowell, variously complex and demanding contemporary scores.
But the premiere of Christopher Cerrone's "Don't Look Down," an 18-minute concerto for prepared piano and percussion quartet, was the highlight. As he explained in an interview before the performance, Mr. Cerrone began composing the score just as the shutdowns started in March, and finished it only recently. So it's a piece written in lockdown. The piano is prepared similarly to John Cage's innovative techniques, but with fewer screws and pieces of metal inserted between the piano strings, and more materials like putty - which dampens and distorts sounds - and fishing wire, which allows the strings to be bowed to create eerie, whining tones.
The first movement, "Hammerspace," begins with the whooshing of a bike pump and droning gongs. In time, restless riffs played with mallets burst forth. Amid rushes of rhythmic, spiraling figures on the prepared piano, fragments for the percussion instruments coalesced into fleeting almost-melodies.
The second movement, "The Great Empty," is more elemental, with music gurgling and heaving over ominous bass tones in the piano. The final movement, "Caton Flats," is named for the mixed-use development in Brooklyn where Mr. Cerrone lives. As he said in the interview, the music recalls the metallic noise of construction crews at work in his neighborhood this summer.
Tanglewood, perhaps America's most eminent summer music festival, has opted for offering only prerecorded online programs - some from its archives, but many filmed earlier this summer. One, recorded in June, was put online on Saturday evening: the pianist Daniil Trifonov playing Bach's "The Art of the Fugue" in one of the studios of Tanglewood's new Linde Center. (The program is available for $12 through Saturday, when a recital by another pianist, Conrad Tao, goes online.)
Mr. Trifonov played this work, Bach's final piece, at a recital at Alice Tully Hall in early March, one of the final concerts in New York before the lockdown. His performance then was magnificent, combining youthful inventiveness, crisp articulations and, for a performer still in his 20s, profoundly insightful musicianship. The Tanglewood performance was even better, though the chance it offered to see Mr. Trifonov up close - to watch as a finger on his right hand gave extra pressure to a crucial note - may have made it especially absorbing.
Though he was not required to do so, Mr. Trifonov performed wearing a mask, which came across as a gesture of solidarity with those watching from home. Playing these complex and compelling fugues, Mr. Trifonov displayed an unusual kind of virtuosity - not flashy, but precise, nuanced and subtle. Rippling passagework was not like filigree but substantive: Each note mattered.
For Fugue 14, which Bach died before finishing, Mr. Trifonov, who is also a composer, dared to do the job and played his own completion. Good for him that, rather than feeling intimidated, he paid homage to Bach by adding his own personal take. The intricate contrapuntal lines unfolded effectively, the music taking a quasi-mystical turn and becoming harmonically elusive delicate and gentle, with a cushioned landing at the end instead of a full stop.
Worth paying for? Worth waiting for? I'd say yes, on both counts.
Australian violin virtuoso Ray Chen has established himself as one of the most prodigiously talented and captivating instrumentalists to emerge internationally. A graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Aaron Rosand, Ray is a former 1st prize winner at the Menuhin and Queen Elisabeth International Violin Competitions.
His debuts include solo engagements with major international orchestras – including ongoing collaborations with the San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony and the London Philharmonic. Ray was announced as one of Forbes Magazines' 30 Under 30 recipients, an ambassador for Sony Electronics – and a collaborator and consultant on a number of film score and video game projects.
Last week, he released his new ‘Solace' album on the Decca Classics label – recorded professionally from his home during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Ray currently performs on the 1735 ‘Samazeuilh' Stradivarius violin, on generous loan from the Nippon Music Foundation – and is under world-wide general management with CAMI Music, in New York.
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Intimate original chamber music John Finbury – AMERICAN NOCTURNES/FINAL DAYS OF JULY: In June of 2020, I reviewed producer/arranger John's wonderful "Quatro" album, which got near perfect marks… on this new album, John and his players give you some of the most intimate original chamber music you will ever listen to… here's a video clip for the album…
…since you're there already, I strongly recommend that you SUBSCRIBE to John Finbury's YouTube channel, so you can watch many more exciting performances.
The players on this new excursion are Tim Ray – piano; Eugene Friesen – cello; Roni Eytan – harmonica; and Roberto Cassan – accordion… Produced and arranged by John Finbury and Bob Patton… though the album is partially classified as New Age, John's music is always unique and different… the beautiful "Winter Waltz" even has some strong elements of jazz, and will be a favorite among DJ's, I believe.
The gentle guitar on "Black Tea" melds seamlessly in with the other instruments, giving you the gift of pleasant (yet stirring) memories… the relaxed pacing makes the tune a total winner.
I had no trouble (at all) in making my choice for personal favorite of the eleven enchanting songs offered up… the title track, "Final Days Of July", will touch your heart deeply with its' beautifully crafted tones!
I give John and his musical partners a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an "EQ" (energy quotient) score of 4.98 for this fine album. Get more information on the Green Flash Music page for the release. Rotcod Zzaj
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Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette is set to release; 'Blackbirds,' on August 28 via Verve Records. Blackbirds features songs primarily popularized by some of her peers, other iconic women in music, who she personally respected and admired. The album finds LaVette in top form delivering powerful renditions of songs that touched her personally. It also re-unites her with producer Steve Jordan.
From Dinah Washington's "Drinking Again," Nina Simone's "I Hold No Grudge," Nancy Wilson's "Save Your Love For Me" and more, all delivered in LaVette's rich and raspy tone with a touch of the blues.
Bettye LaVette is a native of Detroit. Her first recording in 1962, at the age of sixteen, was on Atlantic Records. She later charted with such singles as "He Made A Woman Out Of Me" and "Do Your Duty," Since then she has recorded ten albums. Her most recent album Things Have Changed, also produced by Steve Jordan (John Mayer, Keith Richards), was released on Verve in 2018 and received two GRAMMY nominations, which brings her total Grammy nominations to five.
WPFW: Wash DC, Tim Masters spoke with BL about the new recording and her amazing career. Listen to the attached interview.
From Poetry to Song: A Russian Poet's Work Makes a Debut
A new album by classical composer Mark Abel features four musical adaptations of Tsvetaeva's poetry- a first for the English-language genre. Mark Abel
For most in the English-speaking world, the name Marina Tsvetaeva is obscure. While often revered as one of the greatest Russian poets of the early Soviet period, Tsvetaeva's work has by-and-large failed to garner an international audience.
One American artist, however, has recently completed a project putting Tsvetaeva's work to music in English – reportedly the first time her poetry has been adapted to classical music in English.
In his new album, The Cave of Wondrous Voice, California-based journalist-turned-musician Mark Abel focuses his talents on creating a masterful chamber-music sound, including a groundbreaking song cycle of four of Tsvetaeva's poems.
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The first-time teaming of Poland's dynamic Marcin Wasilewski Trio and big-toned US tenorist Joe Lovano brings forth special music of concentrated, deep feeling, in which lyricism and strength seem ideally balanced.
Sony Music Masterworks today releases Not Our First Goat Rodeo, the long-awaited follow-up album to the GRAMMY Award-winning The Goat Rodeo Sessions, with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile.
Blues Hall of Famer Bettye LaVette has decided to release her stirring rendition of "Strange Fruit" ahead of schedule as it says as much about the history of American racism and the state of the country today.
Milan Records announces the Friday, August 21 release of I Am Woman (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), an album of music from the biographical film surrounding Australian singer Helen Reddy as performed by Chelsea Cullen.
Praised by The Washington Post for playing with "an easy warmth, drawing the orchestra after him like a halo around a candle flame," cellist Kian Soltani follows his DG debut album, Home, with a Dvořák album centered on the famous cello concerto.
Sharon Isbin's 'Affinity' has textural clarity and a perfect balance / musical america
Posted: July 6, 2020 12:00 AM
| By: Admin
Sharon Isbin has been a tireless commissioner of new work and her latest album Affinity is no exception with several recent compositions set alongside some old friends. It's Chris Brubeck's 18-minute Guitar Concerto-the longest and most colorful work here-that gives the album its title and opens proceedings. The concerto's name alludes to a shared "affinity" between composer and soloist, two musicians who thrive on exploring different styles. Like his father jazz legend Dave Brubeck, Chris Brubeck has his roots in jazz, but despite its plentiful toe-tapping syncopation, Affinity is most definitely a classical work. At its atmospheric heart the composer manages to incorporate one of his father's loveliest tunes-"Autumn in Our Town"-before a lilting Renaissance dance section ups the tempo to end with something akin to a wriggling Brazilian samba. Highly energetic, melodically infectious, and colorfully scored, Affinity is a real crowd pleaser, and with her immaculate and fleet-footed technique Isbin does it proud. The Maryland Symphony Orchestra under Music Director Elizabeth Schulze has just the right feel for this music and the excellent engineering ensures both textural clarity and a perfect balance.
It's 40 years since Leo Brouwer wrote his solo guitar work El Decameron Negro for Isbin, and although she's recorded it previously, her interpretation has only deepened with time. The three evocative instrumental "ballads" are inspired by African love stories infused with the musical sensibilities of Brouwer's native Cuba. Isbin is a natural storyteller and is in her element here, putting on a virtuoso display full of light, shade, and manual dexterity. Ditto Tan Dun's Seven Desires, an intriguing solo work that straddles-and fuses-the seemingly disparate worlds of the Chinese pipa and Spanish flamenco guitar. Antonio Lauro's charming Waltz No. 3 is here arranged for two guitars by former Isbin student and now regular duet partner Colin Davin. The disc concludes with Richard Danielpour's Of Love and Longing, three contrasting settings for voice and guitar of the Persian poet Rumi. Performed here with great warmth and sensitivity by Isabel Leonard, it crowns an album that should please fans of Isbin and of contemporary guitar music in general.
On this historic ZOHO release, legendary guitarist Sharon Isbin performs multi-faceted and virtuosic new works for guitar, written for her by four leading composers. From the Africa-influenced El Decameron Negro by iconic Cuban guitarist/composer Leo Brouwer, through the Chinese and Spanish-inspired Seven Desires for Guitar by Tan Dun, to Richard Danielpour's sensual song cycle Of Love and Longing (with multiple Grammy winner Isabel Leonard) and the jazz and world music-influenced Affinity: Concerto for Guitar & Orchestra by Chris Brubeck with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra/Elizabeth Schulze, Sharon Isbin gives her inimitable imprint to, and vastly enriches major new repertoire for guitar. The four world premieres also include a two-guitar arrangement for her by Colin Davin of Antonio Lauro's Waltz #3 Natalia. The recording will be available May 22, 2020 on the ZOHO label (ZM 202005).
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Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin's new recording, Strings for Peace, with sarod master, Amjad Ali Khan, and his virtuoso sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash, is a groundbreaking release steeped in the tradition of ragas and talas of North Indian classical music. Available May 22, 2020 on the ZOHO label (ZM 202004), it was recorded in New York following a successful joint 2019 tour in India. Strings for Peace features four Khan compositions based on popular ragas specifically written and arranged for Sharon Isbin: By the Moon - Raga Behag, Love Avalanche - Raga Mishra Bhairav, Romancing Earth - Raga Pilu and Sacred Evening - Raga Yaman. The four artists are joined on the tabla by Amit Kavthekar, a disciple of Indian drumming giants, Alla Rakha and his son Zakir Hussain. They will tour across the US in 20/21 beginning in Tanglewood and Caramoor festivals this July.
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Bach for Guitar is now available at retailers nationwide – including Amazon, Arkiv Music, Barnes & Noble – on the Erato/Warner Classics label (cat. #2564617518). Ms. Isbin calls the Suites "among the most challenging and musically rewarding works in the classical guitar repertoire." The first classical guitarist to perform and record Bach on guitar with baroque performance practice techniques, Isbin collaborated with noted Bach scholar and keyboard artist Rosalyn Tureck on the editions performed on the disc. The CD includes all four lute suites by Johann Sebastian Bach, including Suite in E Major, BWV 1006a, Suite in G Minor, BWV 995, Suite in E Minor, BWV 996, and Suite in C Minor, BWV 997.
14 NEW 135 TOTAL
SYND: Classical 24, CBC, TRH, Sunday Baroque Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, MOOD, Stingray, AccuRadio Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Denver, Baltimore, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Sacramento, Albuquerque, Columbus OH, Madison WI, Honolulu Online: Taintradio, The Washington Post, pancakesandwhiskey.com, IDOLATER, Consequence Of Sound, Stereogum, Billboard
Sharon Isbin - Troubadour is a one-hour documentary portrait of the world's premier classical guitarist, shows us a trailblazing performer and teacher who over the course of her career has broken through numerous barriers to rise to the top of a traditionally male-dominated field. The film, produced by Susan Dangel, explores what it takes to nurture a dream against all odds to become a world class musician. It will be presented by American Public Television for broadcast on nearly 200 public television stations throughout the US this November-December 2014, and released on DVD/Blu-ray by Video Artists International.
In coordination with the documentary broadcasts, Warner Classics will release five of Isbin's most popular albums in a single box. The set brings together cornerstones of the guitar concerto repertoire by Rodrigo and Villa-Lobos, arrangements of perennial Baroque favorites, concertos by Christopher Rouse and Tan Dun that were written for Isbin herself (and featured in the documentary) and two imaginatively-programmed recital discs including the GrammyTM Award-winning Dreams of a World.
20 NEW - 93 Total
SYND: Classical 24, CBC Direct: SiriusXM, Music Choice, MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Dallas, Atlanta, St. Louis, Seattle, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Portland, Detroit, Baltimore, Denver, Pittsburgh, Austin, New Orleans, Memphis, Albuquerque, Louisville, Columbus, Madison WI, Honolulu, Canada Online: Huffington Post, Taintradio, MusicGuy
Recognized as "the pre-eminent guitarist of our time" The Boston Globe and "the Monet of the classical guitar" Atlanta Journal Constitution, Grammy Award-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin makes her Sony Masterworks debut with Journey to the New World. The extraordinary recording follows a musical progression from 16th century England, Ireland, and Scotland to the shores of America, with the music of the New World represented by Joan Baez, Isbin's first music hero, and violin virtuoso and composer Mark O'Connor.
13 New ON this week: 124 Total
Synd: NPR/ATC, APM/PT, PRI/Classical 24, Sunday Baroque, Sixty Second CD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Wash DC, Philadelphia, Seattle, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Portland, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Long Is. NY, Indianapolis, Berkeley CA, Orlando Online: Taintradio, Folk Image, Guru, RadioIO/Classical Favorites, io4business/Piano Guitar, MusicGuru
Renowned classical guitarist Sharon Isbin, whom critics have acclaimed as "the pre-eminent guitarist of our time" (Boston Magazine) and "the Monet of the classical guitar,"(Atlanta Journal) is following her Grammy-winning 2009 Sony Masterworks debut album Journey To The New World with another extraordinary musical exploration, Sharon Isbin & Friends: Guitar Passions. Available August 30, the new album has a definite Latin American flavor, but the journey this time is focused more on her musical mentors. "I'm paying tribute to my guitar heroes," Isbin says. "These are artists whom I admire greatly, who are also heroes in their own realms." The artists include fellow guitar greats who are also great friends with whom she has collaborated. "Steve Vai has been a dear friend and duo partner for years," Isbin says, singling out the rock guitarist/composer, who improvises with her on La Catedral by famed Paraguayan composer Agustin Barrios Mangore. "Stanley Jordan is another hero and great friend," she adds, and the innovative jazz guitarist joins her in his stunning arrangement of Sonidos de aquel dia, by the Argentinean guitarist/composer Quique Sinesi.
4 New 'ON' this week 118
Synd: PRI/Classical 24 & Jazz After Hours Direct: SiriusXM Markets include: New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Dallas, Minneapolis, Seattle, St. Louis, Baltimore, Detroit, Denver, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Memphis, Tampa, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Canada Online: KING FM Evergreen, Taintradio