Monday, October 19, 2020

Reimagined ASO

This week, a musician friend posted on social media “If I see the words ‘reimagined season’ one more time I’m going to scream.”  Yes, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has proclaimed its slate of virtual concerts as a “reimagined” season. Yet, however described, American symphony orchestras are mostly dependent on non-governmental support and they are in a pandemic environment where they must scramble to find ways to survive, in part by finding new ways to continue a connection with their donors and music-loving audiences. The ASO management and musicians have responded, not just by reposting previously recorded material, but by creating new online video productions with major artists performing in carefully designed spaces providing access to concerts. This week’s performance began with a brief interview with renowned Israeli pianist Inon Barnatan, who expressed his gratitude at being able to play again with a full orchestra, something he has not done in several months.

For the complete review go here:

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Lost Interview: Jim Cunningham, the Voice of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

The Lost Interview: In November 2015, Mr. Jim Cunningham graciously agreed to an interview with Unfortunately, the video was corrupted and could not be played. With the advent of new technology, this video is now playable and this lost interview is available. Small portions are missing, and the ending was truncated, but the richness of Jim’s knowledge still shines through.

WQED-FM's artistic director, Jim Cunningham hosts the nationally syndicated Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) broadcasts, in addition to his hosting duties at the station. Mr. Cunningham has interviewed many of the most famous musicians of our time and has had close working relationships with the distinguished Music Directors of the PSO. Jim is an outstanding raconteur. Please enjoy this most Informative “lost” interview.

Review: Tekfen Philharmonic, Istanbul

The global pandemic has brought most live musical performances to a halt or encouraged performing groups to reconceptualize how to provide something akin to a live performance to audiences mostly located in their homes. One positive outcome is that it is possible to hear ensembles in faraway places; ensembles, for example, that a patron might never experience otherwise. Yet, here I was sitting in Atlanta, Georgia, enjoying a concert from the 48th Istanbul Music Festival.

For the complete review, go here:

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Tours of concert halls across the globe...

Symphony Hall, Atlanta, GA

The Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland

Symphony Hall, Boston, MA

Three Performing Arts Venues, Pittsburgh, PA

Severance Hall, Cleveland, OH

The Concert Hall at the Kennedy Center, Washington, DC

Some good thoughts from Justin Bruns, Assistant Concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

 Justin posted this on Facebook today.  It's thoughtful and full of warmth and humanity. (Used with is permission)

One rarely sees their instrument taken apart. As it turns out, it’s a wildly emotional and vulnerable experience.
Just as my colleagues and mentors have, I’ve spent countless hours a day throughout my life looking at instructions on a page of a score trying to decipher what all of the musical directions mean to communicate. It’s not just things like loud or soft, separate or connected articulations, tempos and key signatures, but the pursuit of a greater-than-the-sum emotional statement by that manipulation of sound through time. I pour all of who I am into the process, imagining and visualizing how to create music that is genuinely personal, vivid and the most impactful to those who encounter it. But without a block of wood resting between my left thumb and index finger and between my chin and shoulder, none of those potential conceptions ever achieves a kinetic reality.
To my mind, once the violin leaves the case it really isn’t an inanimate object anymore; it breathes, physically expands and contracts, warms in my hold, adapts to the climate, and opens itself up to life. In the process of practicing, honing, and performing, an intimate relationship develops between player and instrument. I have changed from playing it and so has my playing. This is true for every violin I’ve played. It’s technically my possession, but history has loaned it to me from one point in time to another as a caretaker and safeguard from avoidable harm so it can be handed off to another capable player sometime. It could be a soulmate, or at least a bonded partner in the effort of producing art. I believe it’s the former.
I got to view close-up the imperfections in the wood, the discolorations and centuries-old wear for the first time. All of this is so fallibly human-like when juxtaposed with the quality of construction and craftsmanship. I’ve known for years how much power and malleability the violin is capable of ceding and these cumulative realizations completely overwhelm me. I’m grateful to share life and the stage with this fiddle for however long we’re together and grateful to those who help keep a watchful eye on its health and well-being.