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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Today is Riccardo Muti's 73rd birthda--born in Naples in 1941. Music Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and one of the most honored and respected conductors in the world, Maestro Muti is considered one of the leading interpreters of the music of Giuseppe Verdi. How did Maestro Muti celebrate Verdi's 200th birthday last October? Answer >>

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      David Robertson Puts Youth in Spotlight

      On Monday evening, David Robertson returns to the Chicago stage, this time with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America. It's worth acknowledging: there is the notion that some conductors work with youth orchestras while hoping to move on to professional orchestras – not so with David Robertson. He has the big career more...

      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...

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      Prom 15 BBCSO/Pons review harmonic and orchestral sophistication

      Royal Albert Hall, London
      The BBC Symphony Orchestra perform Jonathan Dove's new work confidently, but it often comes across as background music needing a voiceover

      Jonathan Dove's new work takes on the daunting challenge of celebrating the ideas of scientist James Lovelock within a 20-minute orchestral piece. The three movements of Gaia Theory - marked "lively", "very spacious" and "dancing" attempt to convey some of Lovelock's highly influential concepts in purely musical form. "Evolution," the scientist is quoted as saying in Dove's own programme note, "is a tightly coupled dance, with life and the material environment as partners. From the dance emerges the entity Gaia".

      Appropriately, the resulting score possesses considerable ongoing rhythmic vitality as well as a good deal of harmonic and orchestral sophistication. A plentiful use of tuned percussion brings splashes of vital colour to music that has a consistently high energy level in the outer movements.

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      Google Glass to be used for one-off staging of Puccini's Turandot

      'We want to communicate the art of opera hoping that it will engage and interest people who normally dont go to see performances,' says opera company's manager

      An Italian opera company will don Google Glass for an upcoming staging of Puccini's Turandot. Singers, orchestral musicians and stagehands from the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, in Sardinia, will wear the futuristic headsets at shows starting 30 July, allowing internet users to watch the opera from each unique point of view.

      "We want to communicate the art of opera hoping that it will engage and interest people who normally dont go to see performances," Mauro Meli, the opera company's general manager, told the New York Times. Watching an opera from the perspective of a soprano can be compared to the thrill of watching a football game through the eyes of a midfielder: "If a soccer player wore Google Glass, youd see the ball coming," Meli said.

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      Symphony guide: Mahler's Ninth

      It's usual to interpret Mahler's last completed symphony as a prefiguring of his death. But different conductors make the work mean very different things

      Lets begin at the end. The final page of the last, cataclysmically slow movement of Mahlers Ninth Symphony is one of the most famously death-haunted places in orchestral music, a moment in which the music slowly, achingly, bridges the existential gap between sound and silence, presence and absence, life and death. The very last bar is even marked, pianississimo, with a long pause ersterbend (dying), as if its message wasnt already clear enough.

      As musical ideas that have dominated this movement, the whole symphony, and even other works by Mahler, dissolve into the ether becoming slower, quieter, emptier, and more stunningly, breathtakingly etiolated and gossamer-thin in sound and substance it all amounts to convincing evidence to support Leonard Bernsteins view, shared by many of his conductor colleagues and listeners, too, that this music stands for a whole suite of deaths. There's Mahlers own, since this is his last completed symphony, after he had witnessed the death of his daughter and when he knew that his life would be cut short by his heart condition. There's the death of tonality, which in the musical context of 1910, this piece emblematically signals. It even heralds the death throes of the figure of the artist as hero in European culture.

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