Previous month:
March 2024
Next month:
June 2024

May 2024

The Knights Perform New and Classic(al) Music at Zankel Hall

The Knights, Zankel Hall, 5/16/24

Zankel Hall was abuzz Thursday night where The Knights performed their final concert of the season as part of their new Carnegie Hall residency. Never content to just be a chamber orchestra, The Knights and their founder brothers, Colin and Eric, offered a little something for everyone: from (Jessie) Montgomery, to Mozart, to a searching new work for cello and orchestra by Anna Clyne, played with deep expression by Karen Ouzounian. But, what l’ll remember most was Gabriel Kahane appearing under his multiple guises: first as composer of the brilliant new piano concerto “Heirloom” written for and played by his father, Jeffrey Kahane. Then, picking up a guitar, Gabriel turned Zankel into “a Bushwick basement rock show” (his words) by performing “Where Are the Arms” and, later, “Little Love”. I’m sure Gabriel would say this kind of cross-genre mastery is no big deal - look at Terence Blanchard or Bryce Dessner - but even those guys never tried to pull off both things in the same concert. Impressive.

If you missed it, The Knights will be around this summer as the house band at the Naumburg Concerts in Central Park, along with appearances Caramoor and Tanglewood. And, they return to Carnegie next season with three more concerts that feature pianist Aaron Diehl and singer songwriter Aiofe O’Donovan

More pics on the photo page

The NY Philharmonic Performs John Williams' "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" in Concert at David Geffen Hall

E.T. at the New York Philharmonic, David Geffen Hall
Last year, The Late Show host Steven Colbert did an interview with director Steven Spielberg and composer John Williams from Spielberg's office in L.A., where they reflected on their more-than five decade collaboration. 

Colbert: “Is there a favorite score that you’ve done for Steven?”

Williams: “Probably E.T., at least in totality.”

Colbert: “Is there a reason why that one has a special place in your heart?”

Williams: “I think it's the development of the music in structure with the story. If you remember the scene when the bicycles take off, prior to that you would hear two or three notes of the theme, and that’s all. And the next time you may hear three or four notes, and it’s beginning to form in your memory. And then as the bicycles take off, you hear all twelve notes of the theme, and the melody is realized and finished...Something has been made aurally that has created that very moment (of resolution).”

Sound familiar?

When I first saw E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) in the movie theater, I was about the same age as Elliott, the film's red-hoodied protagonist (played by Henry Thomas). As such, it was hard not to feel personally connected to the story of a boy who befriends a stranded alien and helps him return home. But when the film reached its highly-emotional climax, I remember being surprised by my uncontrollable crying, a waterworks unlike any I'd ever experienced at the movies. I couldn't understand why this simple, almost silly sci-fi story had gotten so under my skin. 

In that same interview with Colbert, Spielberg explained what we now all know to be the case. "I've always said: I can get the audience to the brink of crying, but Johnny's music makes the tears fall. He takes it the rest of the way."

Continue reading "The NY Philharmonic Performs John Williams' "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" in Concert at David Geffen Hall" »

Sound On at the NY Philharmonic with Kwamé Ryan

NY Phil Sound On 5/10/24As the 2023-24 season winds down, the NY Philharmonic held its last Sound On new music concert of the season Friday night with a program of unsettling, multimedia works led by guest conductor Kwamé Ryan, incoming Music Director of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Although the Phil tried to connect the works on the program with the blanket title "Music of Connection and Displacement", this felt more like an after-the-fact justification for four distinct pieces best appreciated on their own merits. 

If the ensemble of 20 or so musicians seemed visually swallowed up by the main stage of Geffen Hall - Sound On used to be held at the more intimate Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center - the music had no problem filling the space. Ligetidyll (2022) by Ryan’s former teacher Peter Eötvös was a rollicking circus of metronomes, maracas, snare drums and cowbells written for the centenary of Eötvös’ own mentor - and fellow Hungarian - György Ligeti. Afterwards, Ryan requested a moment of silence in recognition of Eötvös' recent passing on March 24, which the audience obliged. 

Michael van der Aa‘s Masks (2008) seamlessly blended acoustic, electronic and extra-musical elements like metronomes and gaffer tape to create a haunting, otherworldly atmosphere. This was music of intricate, almost pointillistic construction, requiring some deft playing on the part of the Philharmonic.

Continue reading "Sound On at the NY Philharmonic with Kwamé Ryan" »