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February 2015

Preview: The "Big" Concert with Ives and Ginastera at Carnegie Hall

Trinity Choir Big Concert

You might want to bring earplugs for this one. 

On Saturday night, Trinity Choir director Julian Wachner brings some 300 musicians uptown with him to Carnegie Hall for what is being billed as "The Big Concert", pairing Alberto Ginastera's modern-day Passion setting Turbae ad passionem gregorianam with Charles Ives' monumental Symphony No. 4. Neither of these massive works get performed very much around these parts, mostly due to the massive forces required: two full choirs, two children's choirs, full orchestra and soloists. Fortunately, Wachner has all of these at his disposal: in addition to the Trinity Choir, he leads The Trinity Youth ChorusThe Washington ChorusThe Washington National Cathedral Choir of Boys and Girls, and NOVUS NY
Tickets, which range from $15-$120, can be purchased at the Carnegie box office or online
(Hint: Use the code TWS20847 to get a 50% discount.)

Simon in New York

Simon Rattle(3/3/15): As nice as it was to think about, Rattle has accepted the London Symphony Orchestra's offer to become their next music director, starting in 2017. 

It's almost unbelievable to think about, but speculation has been been slowly building that Simon Rattle, Chief Conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic, could actually become the next music director of the New York Philharmonic, replacing Alan Gilbert who has already announced his departure at the end of his contract in 2017. Aside from being one of the world's most engaging and dynamic conductors, Rattle's arrival in New York would be a major game changer, completing the balance shift of leading music directors to this side of the Atlantic and establishing New York as the go-to city for classical music in this country (as if it wasn't already.)

Still, there are almost as many reasons why Rattle wouldn't accept the NY Phil job as why he would. Among them:

Reasons Why He Would:

Reasons Why He Wouldn't:

What do you think? Will Rattle embrace the opportunity of putting his stamp on America's oldest orchestra - much as Seidl, Mahler, Toscanini, and Bernstein did before him - or will he balk at the too-numerous obstacles? Share your thoughts below.  


Herbert Blomstedt and the San Francisco Symphony Perform Sibelius and Mozart

San francisco Symphony, Peter Serkin
SAN FRANCISCO, California -  Who knew that I'd have to fly 3,000 miles west to hear yet another extension of my Scandinavian musical saga? It's not why I was there, but when I heard the San Francisco Symphony was going to perform Sibelius' 2nd symphony last weekend with their 87 year old Conductor Laureate Herbert Blomstedt, I dropped everything and got a ticket. Make that two tickets, as Saturday night was Valentine's Day (among other holidays).

As you might expect, Davies Hall was filled with couples out on date night, many of whom seemed to be there for the first time. Sitting in the foyer beforehand, it was a constant stream of red dresses, red ties, and long-stemmed red roses. Even the food concession had chocolate covered strawberries and heart-shaped cookies. Cute, if a bit awkward.

Before getting to the Sibelius, the concert opened with Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 19, played by Peter Serkin. It was pleasant, elegant - and not at all memorable. Serkin, one of the most incisive and cerebral pianists of our time, seemed to be wasting his talents on such fluff. Still, the crowd - which eagerly applauded after each movement - ate it up, gracing him with what felt like an obligatory standing ovation.

Continue reading "Herbert Blomstedt and the San Francisco Symphony Perform Sibelius and Mozart" »

Nielsen and Sibelius (Again) with Anne-Sophie Mutter and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall

DSC01087I rarely, if ever, see the same concert program twice, but in this case, I simply had to make an exception. Two weeks after witnessing their epic Sibelius and Nielsen program in their home concert hall in Copenhagen, I got to hear the Danish National Symphony Orchestra perform nearly the same program again last night at Carnegie Hall. And, if anything, they - and especially Anne-Sophie Mutter - were even better the second time around. Don't just take my word for it: New York Classical Review's George Grella claims that last night's concert was one of the half-dozen-or-so great musical experiences of his life. Far be it from me to disagree.

More pics from last night's concert on the photo page