by Daniel Hathaway
Locally-sponsored events you can enjoy from the comfort of your domicile include a choral concert from the University of Akron, an International Series recital by Raphael Feuillatre from the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society (read Jarrett Hoffman’s preview interview here), the first collaboration between BlueWater Chamber Orchestra and Verb Ballets (read my conversation with BlueWater Artistic Director Daniel Meyer here), an Oberlin Stage Left concert by the Oberlin Orchestra, Sinfonietta, and Contemporary Music Ensemble, and a concert by the Lunaris, the University of Akron’s graduate woodwind quintet. See the Concert Listings for details
Moving to the southern end of the state, on Saturday evening at 8:00 pm, the Cincinnati Symphony will stream a free digital concert featuring New York Philharmonic principal Anthony McGill in the premiere of You Have the Right to Remain Silent, a new clarinet concerto by Anthony Davis, who won this year’s Pulitzer Prize in music for his opera The Central Park Five. (Rehearsal photo above.) It’s part of a program led by Louis Langree that also includes Schubert’s Symphony No. 8 and Julia Perry’s Homunculus C.F. In a preview article in WVXU News, Julie Coppens writes
Seasoned as he is, “You Have the Right to Remain Silent” handed McGill some new challenges: it’s his first major performance on the super-sized (and much deeper-voiced) contra-alto clarinet; his first time improvising a solo against a Kurzweil synthesizer, which lends some otherworldly effects; and a rare musical exploration of racism in the American criminal justice system. He’s certainly never been Mirandized on stage before—but this weekend’s free “Live From Music Hall” streaming concert will take viewers deep into all those experiences and more, combining the gritty intimacy of a TV police drama with the transcendence of symphonic creation and collaboration.
MORE COVID-19 UPDATES:
Following the announcement of a new, statewide public health advisory, Apollo’s Fire has announced that its December performances, originally planned to be hybrids offering patrons the choice of in-person attendance or high-quality videos to be available the week after the live concerts, will now go entirely digital.
And the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage is closed to the public beginning on November 20 for an indefinite period of time. For information about online programs and other services, visit the museum’s website.
November 22 marks the feast day of Cecilia, a Roman Empire-era virgin martyr who has somehow become the patron saint of musicians, and in whose name celebratory odes have been penned by poets and composers over the last few centuries.
Both Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten — England’s most celebrated composers — had the honor of being born on St. Cecilia’s Day, as did Arthur Seymour Sullivan of Gilbert & Sullivan and D’Oyly Carte Opera fame.
Purcell straddled the old era of viols and the new age of violins at the British royal court, steeping himself in the long tradition of viol consort music before continuing his career as a church and theater composer who wholeheartedly embraced the new instrumental tastes imported from the French court, and managed to jam as much music into his brief lifespan as Mozart did — both died in their mid-30s.
Before her recent retirement, Oberlin viola da gamba and cello professor Catharina Meints gathered a consort of guests to present an entire concert devoted to Purcell’s Fantasias for viols on September 13, 2019. Read about it here, and watch the concert on the June 18, 2020 episode of Oberlin Stage Left here. (The viols segment begins at 20:48.)
Purcell served as organist of Westminster Abbey, where he wrote and performed such modern works as his verse-anthem Rejoice in the Lord Alway, sung here with organ accompaniment in Cleveland’s Trinity Cathedral on October 5, 2015 on the program “The Remarkable Mr. Henry Purcell.” David Acres conducts Contrapunctus Cleveland.
Benjamin Britten wrote his Hymn to St. Cecilia in 1942 on the high seas while returning from a sojourn in America, setting a striking poem by W.H. Auden. Listen to a performance by Britain’s Voces 8 here.
Previously unreleased works by Britten have regularly shown up since his death in 1976, among them his Gerard Manley Hopkins settings in A.M.D.G. (“Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam”, the motto of the Jesuit order to which Hopkins belonged). One of the most beguiling movements is “Rosa Mystica,” sung here by Cleveland Chamber Choir under the direction of Scott MacPherson in March, 2019.
And for listeners who only know the theater music of Arthur Sullivan, here are two little gems to enjoy (we’ll spare you The Lost Chord!)
His solo song, Orpheus With His Lute, from a suite of Shakespeare settings, celebrates another patron saint of music, the god who could make mountaintops and trees “bow their heads when he did sing.” Dame Janet Baker sings it here with Gerald Moore at the piano.
Then there’s Sullivan’s The Long Day Closes, a quintessentially Victorian meditation on death composed in 1868 that was often sung at funerals for members of the D’Oyly Carte Company. The King’s Singers perform it here on the BBC Proms in 2008.