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      Chicago Classical Calendar

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      Top Stories

      CSO at Millennium Park: Allegro con Muti

      Update: 7:43 pm CDT Friday's crowd is estimated at over 20,000 people. Hundreds more are being turned away at the park entrance. Riccardo Muti brings the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to Millennium Park on Friday for a free, all-Tchaikovsky concert. It's been four years to the day since Maestro Muti gave his inaugural concert in the park's more...

      Documentary Filmmaker Phil Grabsky at WFMT

      When Phil Grabsky looks out into the world, he sees stories that need to be told. As an independent filmmaker, he's followed his passion from Brazil to Angola, from Chernobyl to Afghanistan. He also has a fascination for great composers. Phil Grabsky is in Chicago to introduce his new film In Search of Chopin more...

      CSO Will Roll Out with a Bang

      The Chicago Symphony Orchestra makes a joyful noise this weekend, performing to capacity crowds. Riccardo Muti opens the concert season with four sold-out performances of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and a free Tchaikovsky concert at Millennium Park. With orchestra and chorus declaring Friedrich Schiller's Ode to Joy more...

      Winners of Genius Grants “Inspire us all”

      People who win don't even know they've been considered, but on Wednesday they were identified by international news agencies as "21 extraordinarily creative people who inspire us all." Some are scientists; others are historians, poets, or lawyers. There's an artist, a jazz musician, and a cartoonist. They are the 2014 MacArthur Fellows, recipients of what's often called the genius grant, a $625,000 cash prize – no strings attached more...

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      Paul Morley: Pop belongs to the last century. Classical music is more relevant to the future

      For years, this rock critic viewed classical music as pompous art of the past. Now, tired of pop, he explains why classical is the truly subversive form - and selects six favourite pieces to convert the unbeliever

      During the 1970s and 80s, I mostly listened to pop and rock music, when even the likes of Captain Beefheart, Henry Cow and Popul Vuh were filed under pop. However far out I went as a listener, though, classical music seemed connected to a dreary sense of uninspiring worthiness that was fixed inside an ideologically suspect status quo, lacking the exhilarating suggestion of new beginnings, a pulsating sense of an exciting, mind-expanding tomorrow. There was something monstrous about it, as if in its world there were lumbering dinosaurs and toothless dragons, refusing to accept they were extinct. Next to Iggy and the Stooges and the Velvets, it sounded frail; next to Buzzcocks and Public Image, it sounded pompous. While I wrote for the NME between 1976 and 1984, interviewing stars from Lou Reed and John Lydon to Sting and Mick Jagger, I didnt think about classical music it was from the past, back when the past stayed where it was and wasnt as easy to access as it is now.

      I owned hundreds of albums and thousands of singles by the early 1980s, and then replaced them with thousands of CDs, many of them the same rock albums. Now I am rebuilding once more as compact discs become as anachronistic as 78s. I have a rapidly expanding virtual library in my head as much as inside the cage of Google that might date as much as the vinyl and CD libraries did, or might last me for ever.

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      Otello; Rigoletto; Macbeth review

      Coliseum; Royal Opera House; Barbican theatre, London
      ENOs new Otello sidesteps an old problem, while the ethnic tension is viscerally felt in an African Macbeth

      When Laurence Olivier played Othello he studied the mannerisms of Sammy Davis Jr to give the noble Moor what he called negritude. Not everyone was impressed. Those days are long gone. In a spirit of liberal optimism we might hope that we can sidestep the question of Othellos colour or race entirely. Yet it indelibly shapes text and action, whether in Shakespeare or in the shorn libretto version for Verdis penultimate opera nearly 300 years later.

      Our own multicultural times may be closer to the Venetian-Ottoman melting pot of the play, but our sensibilities are entirely different. The issue, with all its unanswerable variables, is as alive as ever. Verdi, significantly, does not give his Moor any distinctive stylistic music to sing to set him apart (as Mozart or Rossini did with their exotics). Yet he codenamed the work Chocolate or African, which gives pause for thought.

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      Bach Cantatas: Recreation for the Soul review in the best traditions of period playing

      Magdalena Consort/Harvey, Elin Manahan Thomas, Daniel Taylor, James Gilchrist
      (Channel Classics)

      Buoyant and agile in performance, small in scale and steeped in the best traditions of period playing putting musicality over scholarship the Magdalena Consort was founded in 2008 by bass/director Peter Harvey. He and his musicians have grown up with the pioneering work of the Monteverdi Choir and John Eliot Gardiner, many having worked with him. The Magdalenas are the next generation, heading out alone. if you dont know them, try this brilliant disc. The three cantatas here the earliest surviving BWV 150, Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich; BWV 78, Jesu, der du meine Seele and BWV 147, Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben are linked by numerical and musical symbolism, acrostics and similar devices so often explored by Bach. On the other hand, just listening is reward enough.

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      new releases

      Kraus: Arias & Overtures

      Naxos 8.572865

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      Stile Antico: From the Imperial Court

      Harmonia Mundi HMU-807595

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      Organ Polychrome

      Reference Recordings RR-133

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      Works of Saint-Saens

      Warner Classics 0825646281442

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      Wagner Without Words

      Signum Classics SIGCD-388 (2 CDs)

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