by Jarrett Hoffman
TONIGHT ON THE WEB:
Three suggestions, all at 7:30 pm.
On the Rocky River Chamber Music Society series, Steven Banks will take up a variety of saxophones to play his own arrangements of works by Mozart and Schumann, as well as music written for the instrument by Carlos Simon, Saad Haddad, and Banks himself. He’s joined by pianist Xak Bjerken. Watch on YouTube or Facebook.
Les Délices continues its SalonEra series with “Stylus Fantasticus,” featuring harpist Maria Cleary, baritone Jonathan Woody, and violinists Julie Andrijeski and Tekla Cunningham. In conversation and performance, they’ll dive into “the wild, exploratory music of 17th-century Italy and Austria,” including works by Schmeltzer, Kapsberger, Ignazio Albertini, Nicolaus Bruhns, and Johann Joseph Fux. Click here at start time.
And two frequent visitors from Boston, the duo of Transient Canvas (Matt Sharrock, marimba, and Amy Advocat, bass clarinet), will present the first of two concerts as part of their residency with the University of Miami’s Society of Composers chapter. The live-streamed program includes premieres by Sammy Strent, Kyle Pearl, Kira Namiko Wales, Aidan A. Arbona, and Olivia Kieffer, as well as works by Jonathan Bailey Holland, Veronica Cator, Alicia Lopez. Watch on YouTube or Facebook.
IN THE NEWS:
Robert Spano has been appointed the next Music Director of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Having worked with the orchestra as Principal Guest Conductor since 2019, he will serve as Music Director Designate beginning on April 1 until assuming the title of Music Director in August 2022. Read the full press release here.
The Cleveland Orchestra has announced the recipients of its annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award. The thirteen honorees span four categories: community leadership, improving education, promoting social justice and racial equity, and promoting greater understanding through the arts. See the full list of recipients and learn more about the award here.
And in The New York Times, Michael Powell writes about the battle over race and free speech sparked by the musicological Journal of Schenkerian Studies, while Anthony Tommasini advocates for orchestras to change their programming, the layout of their seasons, and the way they make use of the concert hall once in-person performances return.
On Presidents Day, while it’s common knowledge that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were born around this date in history (Washington on the 22nd of February in 1732, and Honest Abe on the 12th in 1809), did you know that John Adams was born on this exact date, the 15th? Indeed. It is said that his post-minimalist composition Short Ride in a Fast Machine was inspired by none other than his one-term presidency. (Zing!)
I’ll put a stop now to this very original bit and clarify that John Adams the president was born on October 30, 1735, while John Adams the composer blows out 74 candles today.
There are of course many ways to celebrate this distinguished musician. You could choose the piece for which he won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in music: On the Transmigration of Souls, written in remembrance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. You could also follow local roots and revisit his aforementioned Short Ride and his violin concerto Scheherazade.2, both of which he conducted during a set of appearances with The Cleveland Orchestra in 2018.
But on this holiday, what could be more fitting than Nixon in China? That work received mixed reviews after its premiere in 1987 but has since been recognized as a landmark American opera. Most impressive is Adams’ extensive knowledge about the future of this country — and the world — even from his era of the 1700s and early 1800s. (And you thought that joke was done.)
Opera is of course an audiovisual medium, and fortunately, there are several clips on YouTube from the work’s Metropolitan Opera debut in 2011. Here’s one famous excerpt, “I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung,” which receives a standout performance — both emotionally intense and technically virtuosic — by soprano Kathleen Kim.
Other musical anniversaries to commemorate today include the birth of another important American composer (Christopher Rouse, 1949) and several deaths (composer and arts administrator William Schuman, 1992; conductor and composer Leopold Damrosch, 1885; composer Mikhail Glinka, 1887). One lucky figure receives the special privilege of celebrating both: composer Michael Praetorius, who died in 1621 on what was possibly his 50th birthday.