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      Summer Migration, Payoff for Chicago

      If you've ever seen a nature documentary about the Serengeti, you might have some sense of the migratory patterns of classical musicians. There are music centers, like watering holes, to which players journey in order to refresh, commune with others, and nurture the young. The Aspen Music Festival is one of those places. One only has to read the biographies of Chicago's top musicians more...

      Chicago’s Joan Harris to Receive National Medal of Arts

      On Monday, July 28th, the President and First Lady will recognize Joan Harris for her tireless support of the arts. It was announced on Tuesday that she would be a recipient of the National Medal of Arts. The visage of Joan Harris is a familiar one around the lobbies of the Civic Opera House and Symphony more...

      From Soviet Refugee to iTunes Favorite

      When Yevgeny Kutik was a boy, his mother declared, "Enough." She packed up her family and left the Soviet Union. There wasn't any one reason. It was a series of reasons: Yevgeny was bullied in Kindergarten; she was laid off because her employers exceeded their "quota of Jews"; her older son had picked up racial slurs at school more...

      Lyric’s New Opera (Just a Peek)

      Getting beyond “The book was better” - Last week, when Lyric Opera presented a sneak peek at the opera based on Ann Patchett’s bestselling novel "Bel Canto," general director Anthony Freud quickly closed the door on comparisons to the book. Addressing a gathering of patrons and members of the media, Mr. Freud shared some of more...

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      Why it's do-or-die for classical music at the Bristol Proms

      A broken cello string at last year's Bristol Proms proved that it's possible for classical music to recover the raucous spontaneity of past centuries. Artistic director Tom Morris explains why this year's edition is looking to technology to provide the thrills

      A revolution is afoot in classical music. You can feel its pull in the concert-going world, like the irresistible gravity of a planet. People are bored of being bored in concert halls. Put another way, the classical music industry is grasping a cold reality: if it doesn't wake up to the challenge of attracting a new audiences, live concerts will end up confined to the garden parties of oligarchs, and the golden age of the classical album will die on a digital skewer.

      That's why the BBC Proms has transformed itself from a magnificent Reithian culture castle into a global-music event of dazzling range and brand impact. That's why the London Sinfonietta, the OAE and a host of other innovators have ripped up the concert rulebook in order to strip classical music of its Teflon suit of pretension. And that's why last year's inaugural Bristol Proms released a wild range of digital/classical experimentation and managed to create such a lively atmosphere that a maverick physicist felt it was appropriate to attempt to crowd-surf during the Hallelujah Chorus.

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      Don Giovanni review David McVicar offers ration over passion

      Sydney Opera House

      This cool interpretation of Mozart's classic is aloof but revelatory with a dark central performance from Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the serial seducer

      During the late 17th century, Europe saw a cultural movement that brought on not only the scientific revolution, but also the dawn of a new philosophical era. The age of enlightenment was set in motion by philosophers such as Locke, Voltaire, Bacon and Descartes, and it is during its death that the celebrated Scottish opera director David McVicar sets his new production of Don Giovanni.

      A black curtain shrouds the stage as the audience enters, revealing hints of the graveyard behind it. Reportedly inspired by a catacomb filled with 4,000 bodies beneath a cathedral in Vienna, production designer Robert Jones replicates this image with a set of moving walls and staircases behind which the actors can hide (and die). The costumes, faithful to the neoclassicism of early 19th century Europe, veil the singers with a sense of final judgment. All the main characters, save for the wedding party, remain in a vigil of black.

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      Pumeza Matshikiza: the township soprano who wooed the world

      One billion people watched her perform a freedom anthem at the Commonwealth Games launch. Will the South African singer pack the same punch at the Proms?

      Pumeza Matshikiza discovered opera as a teenager quite by accident. One day, she was switching between radio stations, and stumbled on the great Swiss soprano Edith Mathis, singing in The Marriage of Figaro. She was spellbound.

      Music lessons were, however, beyond the reach of a Xhosa child born in a township on South Africa's Eastern Cape especially in the last years of apartheid. But, as Matshikiza says, "you develop other means". A quick student, she learned African and European music by ear while singing in church choirs.

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      new releases

      Godard: Piano Concertos

      Hyperion CDA-68043

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      Prokofiev: Violin Music

      Hyperion CDA-67514

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      Beethoven: Missa Solemnis

      LPO 0077

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      Beethoven: Symphony No 9

      Deutsche Grammophon 481 0591

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      Myung-Whun Chung: Piano Encores

      ECM New Series 2342

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