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      “Why there aren’t more women on the podiums”

      When conductor Marin Alsop became the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2007, she was the first woman to hold this position with a major American orchestra. She’s also the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms, and the first conductor ever to receive a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. I sat down with this trailblazing conductor during rehearsals with the more... more...

      An American Dance Craze Hits Europe

      European music took root in the Americas as the colonies began to expand. But the more enthusiastic cultural exchange arguably occurred on the other side of the Atlantic. Learn more about how early American dance created a craze in Europe. more...

      Thousands Attend Chicago’s 102nd Christmas Tree Lighting

      Thousands gathered on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 to celebrate the 102nd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Previously staged in Daley Plaza, the city’s Christmas tree can now be seen at the west entrance of the park, across from the Michigan Avenue and Madison Street intersection. This year’s tree, a 63-foot Colorado blue more... more...

      Quiz: Match the Composer to His Favorite Food

      Some composers ate to live, others lived to eat. Can you match the composer to his favorite food? more...

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      Antonio Pappano: 'Cav & Pag is full of mafia cliches – but true to Italian life'

      With its tale of infidelity and revenge, Cavalleria Rusticana has become the Godfather opera. The Royal Opera’s music director explains why the passion of this double bill is still as stirring as ever

      “Of course, in some ways it absolutely reeks of cliches,” laughs Antonio Pappano, music director of the Royal Opera. “Cliches of Italy, of Sicily, of the mafia. The music has become the soundtrack for that combination of passion, violence and family. But just because something has become a cliche doesn’t mean it wasn’t once something genuine. We mustn’t forget that the opera came before The Godfather.”

      Pappano is talking about Pietro Mascagni’s 1890 one-act opera Cavalleria Rusticana, a lurid tale of peasant love, infidelity and revenge, which opens next week in a new Covent Garden production in tandem with its traditional double-bill partner, Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci. Such are the cliches summoned by Mascagni’s music that it has been used in both the much-maligned Godfather III – “A Godfather for our times and maybe a Godfather we deserved. But I liked it,” says Pappano – and the opening to Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull. “With just four notes you are transported to a world you somehow recognise, without quite knowing why you recognise it. That’s because in the hands of someone like Mascagni and his very of-the-earth music, all those cliches are genuine. Go to Italian villages even today and you’ll still see the old women dressed in black and the villagers will look at you differently if you are a stranger. The Madonna being carried in the parades at Easter might look corny on stage, but it is not an invention. It happens. And while some of these images are easy to poke fun at, they are also compelling and authentic, especially in the south.”

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      Philharmonia/Salonen review – formidable dexterity in a bizarrely uneven concert

      Royal Festival Hall, London
      The skilled conductor just about kept control of Lang Lang’s wayward piano and, despite a small chorus, actors were exquisite alongside a ravishing score

      An all-Grieg programme, this bizarrely uneven concert marked the start of Lang Lang’s short series with the Philharmonia under Esa-Pekka Salonen.

      Next week, the flamboyant Chinese pianist plays works by Mozart and Prokofiev, the latter a composer whose angular modernism suits Lang Lang’s percussive style and can also rein in his tendency towards histrionics. His performance of the Grieg Concerto, however, was an erratic effort, thunderously delivered in places as if it were by Liszt or Rachmaninov, and dramatised to the limit.

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      Readers recommend: songs that command or instruct | Peter Kimpton

      Look sharp! Get on it! Don’t stop! This week it’s time to name songs that, whether in title or lyrics, employ the imperative form. Now get started … please!

      “He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command,” said that silver-tongued back-stabber Niccolò Machiavelli. “Your power of command with simple language was one of the magnificent things of our century,” added Charles Bukowski. “Do as I say, not as I do,” floats out that ancient phrase possibly from John Heywood’s 1546 A dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of All the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue - “It is as folke dooe, and not as folke say.” Or not quoting any manufacturer of training shoes, you might just want to stick to simply “Do it”. Who said that one? Well, he’s a typically understated message from actor Shia LaBeouf:

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      Tour Vienna next May! Join Carl Grapentine in exploring some of his favorite musical sites, attending performances, and sightseeing. Then on to Salzburg!

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      Discover WFMT's Classical Italy next May! Join Peter van de Graaff on this exclusive twelve-day classical music lover's journey to "Bella Italia" next May. Imagine staying in the heart of Venice in a restored old abbey and experiencing Donizetti' opera La favorite at the historic La Fenice Opera House!

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      new releases

      Schubert: String Quintet

      Azica ACD-71304

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      Music of George Bristow

      New World Records 80768-2

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      Music of Stacy Garrop

      Cedille CDR 90000 160

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      Valentina Lisitsa: Nuances

      Decca 478 8435

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      Stephen Hough: Scriabin & Janacek

      Hyperion CDA-67895

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