by Daniel Hathaway
In today’s edition of Not Your Grandmother’s Classical Music, Eric Charnofsky makes a nod to Easter and Spring with Benjamin Fuhrman’s Study After Hokusai, for clarinet and viola, Kenneth Leighton’s An Easter Sequence, Malcolm Arnold’s 1st symphony, and Rachmaninoff’s cantata, Spring. Also, the premiere recording of two piano pieces by Georges Mathias, French-born student of Chopin. It’s on from 2 to 4pm over WRUW from Case Western Reserve University. Click here to listen to the internet feed.
NEW CONCERTS ON THE CALENDAR:
It’s good to keep an eye out for interesting events that suddenly pop up on the Oberlin Conservatory Calendar. Like this week’s Messiaen Mini-Festival in Finney Chapel on Thursday and Friday April 21 and 22. The brainchild of conductor Timothy Weiss and organ professor Jonathan Moyer, the event includes Thursday discussions and Friday performances of two extended works by the French composer (pictured), who died 30 years ago.
Des Canyons aux Étoiles (“From the Canyons to the Stars”), a 90-minute orchestra work inspired by the American West, and the 80-minute organ suite Méditations sur les Mystère de la Sainte Trinité (“Meditations on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity”) will share a nearly three-hour long evening performance. Read a preview article by Erich Burnett here.
Some 300 Kent State University students will pack the stage of Mandel Hall at Severance Music Center on Monday May 2 at 7:00 pm for “Stories of Peace, Protest, and Reflection,” a Commemoration of the tragic Kent State shootings of May 4, 1970 through Music, Dance, and Poetry. Watch this website midweek for an interview with clarinet professor Amitai Vardi, who has been charged with organizing the event — only slightly less challenging, we think, than staging D-Day in June, 1944.
April 18 is Patriots Day, commemorating the early battles of the American Revolution in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts, summed up here in four minutes and immortalized in a certain poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow which many of us were made to memorize in grade school. Remember it? This will get you started:
Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,—
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”
Having gone to college and grad school in Boston, Paul Revere was close to my consciousness. I was organist of Christ Church, Cambridge, built in 1759, which owned a communion set made by the famous silversmith that was loaned from the Boston Museum back to the church for use at Christmas and Easter (one of the ministers picked the vessels up and stored them under his bed for safekeeping!)
And when I conducted the Harvard Medical Chorus in a concert at Old North Church, the Rector admitted in a pre-concert sidebar that there was some controversy about whether or not this was actually the church where the signal lights were displayed. But it made a good story for the tourists who flocked there and supported the building with donations. (Always eager for a fundraising opportunity, he got another opportunity when a soprano put her foot through a floorboard in the gallery during the performance.)
Also on April 18, keep in mind the runners who assembled early today in Hopkinton, MA to participate in the Boston Marathon, held on this date since 1897 with the exception of the last two years (thank you for that, COVID-19).
Back to musicians, conductor Leopold Stokowski was born on this date in 1882 in London, composers Miklós Rózsa and Tan Dun followed in 1907 and 1957, and noted singer Marian Anderson gave a farewell recital at New York’s Carnegie Hall on April 18, 1965. Click here to watch a documentary of her long career.
Stokowski, who made the Philadelphia Orchestra world-famous, began his career as an organist — his first American post was at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York — before deciding to devote himself to orchestral conducting. The organ continued to figure in his programming through his Romantic transcriptions of Bach that became popular when he collaborated with the Disney Studios on the Fantasia movies.
Click here to watch him conduct the Czech Philharmonic in Bach’s great d-minor Toccata and Fugue in Prague at the age of 90. And click here to watch an interview with composer Morton Gould where Stowkowski talks about playing the works of young composers. He died in the charmingly-named Hampshire village of Nether Wallop in 1977 (its sister villages, Over Wallop, and Middle Wallop, are nearby).