by Jarrett Hoffman
WHO WAS ROBBIE BURNS?
Five days before Burns Day, which celebrates that great Scottish poet of the late 18th century, Les Délices will honor Scotland’s national bard with the release of “The Highland Lassie.” The program — filmed at Dunham Tavern and premiering online on Thursday, January 20 — is a collection of Scots songs and reels from the 17th and 18th centuries ranging from folk music to art music, and evoking settings from the alehouse to the salon. Read about the life of Robert Burns in an article by Hannah De Priest here, and purchase tickets here.
Several events from the Canton Symphony previously scheduled for early 2022 have been postponed. “A Planets Odyssey” has been rescheduled for May 22, “Hey Monea Meets the Symphony” has been moved to June 9, and “Triumphant Tchaikovsky” will take place on June 25. Tickets will be honored on the new dates, or you can exchange them for other performances in the same series. Dates for “Community Jam Night” at Buzzbin and “Spirited Conversations” are still to be announced.
R.I.P. DALE CLEVENGER:
The principal horn of the Chicago Symphony for 47 years, and an accomplished horn teacher and conductor, Dale Clevenger passed away on January 5 of Waldenstrom’s disease. He was 81. Read an obituary by Frank Villella here on the CSO’s website. Upon his retirement from the Orchestra in 2013, several of his colleagues performed a concert in his honor — an event that also included a tribute video, which you can watch here.
Given the Omicron variant’s effect on live performance schedules in recent weeks, Jeff Lundlen of NPR shines a spotlight on the figures who have kept some Broadway shows afloat: substitutes, including swings, understudies, and standbys. Read the article here.
It’s always enlightening to get a variety of perspectives on an art form — from the very same people who practice it, and from those outside that circle. That’s one of the key appeals of the “Five Minutes That Will Make You Love ____” series from The New York Times, which most recently focused on mezzo-sopranos. Critics, composers, a vocal coach, and yes, several of the top living mezzos, share their two cents here.
Remaining in the vocal realm, the great American baritone Sherrill Milnes, a native of Downer’s Grove, Illinois, turns 87 today.
With over 650 Metropolitan Opera performances on his resume, Milnes is best known as one of the preeminent Verdi baritones of his time — and YouTube contains several clips of his bread and butter. Here’s one excellent example: “Ah, fu giusto il mio sospetto” from Luisa Miller in a production from the Met, led by James Levine.
For a more intimate look at his artistry, how about his wide-ranging program with pianist Jon Spong in Cleveland at Severance in 1980? Watch here.
And for a peek inside Milnes’ mind, read Daniel Hathaway’s 2018 interview with the baritone, focusing in particular on his teaching in master class settings. One of the most memorable sections delves into the subject of language and pronunciation.
“Language is a kicker,” Milnes said. “English speakers have to be able to sing in French, German, Italian, Russian, and these days, some Czech. I always tell singers first of all that we’re faking it. We’re actors, and that’s what actors do. The good ones — and who doesn’t love Tom Hanks or Robert De Niro — make us buy it. We can’t feel completely at home in a language we don’t speak, but there are certain specific sounds in every language that are peculiar to that language. Be sure those sounds get out there, because the audience’s perception is everything. It sounds like double-talk, but what the audience thinks we know is more important than what we know.”