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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Later this morning we will hear Ferde Grofe's Grand Canyon Suite. Initially titled "Five Pictures of the Grand Canyon," it had its first performance November 22, 1931 at the Studebaker Theatre in Chicago (!) The composer, Ferde Grofe, was a master orchestrator and arranger. It was he who arranged and orchestrated another American classic which had its premiere in February of 1924 in New York. What is the name of that work? Answer >>

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      Composer-Pianist Plays “Super” Music on Nintendo Themed Piano

      It’s a truth universally acknowledged by music students around the world that at any given moment in any conservatory, there’s at least one person in the practice rooms playing Bach, Beethoven, and the songs from Nintendo’s classic game Super Mario Bros. The video game, released in 1985, has some pretty memorable music: six songs composed by Koji more... more...

      Vic Firth, Who Revolutionized Drumstick Manufacture, Dies at 85

      Vic Firth, the long time principal timpanist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra who revolutionized the manufacture of percussion sticks and mallets, passed away Sunday at age 85. Seiji Ozawa, one of many illustrious conductors with whom Firth worked throughout his career, once said Firth was, “the single greatest percussionist anywhere in the world.” Firth was more... more...

      6 of Muti’s Most Memorable Moments in Chicago

      Riccardo Muti, the celebrated conductor from Naples, Italy, came to Chicago in 2010 when he became the 10th music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Since, Chicagoans have enjoyed many magical moments with the maestro both in Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center and beyond, as the CSO extends its reach with performances in the community. more... more...

      From YouTube to Lyric: Composer Jimmy López on his Operatic Debut

      Composer Jimmy López never could have imagined that uploading some of his music on YouTube could have landed him his first opera commission, and at Lyric Opera of Chicago, no less. Read more about the creation of this new opera before it has its world-premiere this fall in a behind-the-scenes interview with the composer during tech rehearsals. more...

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      Why you won’t catch a British politician at the opera | Martin Kettle

      Unlike Angela Merkel, our leaders rarely flaunt their cultural tastes. It’s to the detriment of national life

      Last Saturday I sat in something very close to rapture just a few feet away from Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel. But Merkel wasn’t making a speech. She wasn’t giving a press conference. And, although I live in hope, she wasn’t giving me an exclusive interview for the Guardian about Britain and the EU either.

      Merkel was doing the same thing I was doing. She was at the opera house, listening to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. And not just in any old opera house. We were at the Bayreuth festival theatre, the legendary Wagner shrine in Bavaria. It was the opening night of the 2015 festival. Merkel was the guest of honour there, as she often is.

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      Schumann: Piano Concerto, Piano Trio No 2 CD review – Melnikov's steely playing is hard to love

      Melnikov/Faust/Queyras/Heras-Casado/Freiburger Barockorchester
      (Harmonia Mundi)

      This is the second in a three-part series exploring Schumann’s concertos and piano trios on gut strings and a period piano, and as the slightly creepy cover photo spells out – shadows of violinist Isabelle Faust and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras flank Alexander Melnikov like lurking henchmen – it is the pianist’s turn to shine. Melnikov is a steely player with plenty of ideas and charisma, but even in the finessed company of the Freiburg Baroque and conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, his bracing account of the Piano Concerto is hard to love. The first moment opens with a dry punch and hurtles ahead hell-for-leather; the second movement is breezy and borderline trite, and the finale digs in its heels with laboured earthiness and a self-conscious ping at the top of each phrase. All affectations evaporate in the Trio, though, where Faust’s sound is so silvery and expressive, so simultaneously commanding and questioning, that she risks blowing the rest of the disc out of the water.

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      Why kids have sprinted to see our opera Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

      The secret to children’s opera? Assemble a team who will take it as seriously as any main stage production, writes Opera Holland Park’s James Clutton

      Anyone who falls into the preconception that children won’t or don’t like opera is missing one key thing: kids love a strong story, good music and well-drawn characters just as much as adults. Probably more so.

      If anyone of any age is entertained by a production they will enjoy it. That’s the driving force behind producing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at Opera Holland Park – and why I’ve always wanted to produce quality children’s theatre.

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      new releases

      Music of Gaspard Fritz

      Musiques Suisses MGBCD-6283

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      Eschenbach: Romantic Piano Music

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 4624 (6 CDs)

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      Vadym Kholodenko: Concertos

      Harmonia Mundi HMU-907629

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      I have set my hert so hy

      Avie AV-2286

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      Shostakovich: Under Stalin’s Shadow

      Deutsche Grammophon 479 5059

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