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      Carl's Morning Quiz

      Carl Grapentine

      Carl's Morning Quiz: Today is the 105th anniversary of the birth of the American composer William Schuman. He was born in New York City--and died there 81 years later. Schuman won the very first Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1943. He later became the president of the Juilliard School, and later the first president of Lincoln Center. His best-known orchestral composition is New England Triptych, based on music by William Billings. What are the three Billings songs included in the New England Triptych? Answer >>

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      15 Summer Music Festivals You Should Visit

      Though the ‘regular’ performance season has ended, you don’t have to stop enjoying live performances. Summer festivals across the globe allow you to experience great performances with the artists you love all year long. Here are 15 festivals you should check out this summer. Can’t hop on a plane to Provence? Don’t worry. WFMT is taking you to more... more...

      6 Unforgettable Composer Friendships

      Today is International Friendship Day! Click to read more about some of the most famous friendships among composers in music history. Whether bosom buddies like Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams, or something more complicated like Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler, there’s no doubt that these composers enjoyed genuine friendships that would influence their personal and professional lives. more...

      Music for a Blue Moon

      Tonight, July 31, is the second full moon of the month, or what we call a blue moon. Of course, a blue moon doesn’t really appear blue; rather, it’s their rarity that makes them special. According to numbers crunched by Western Michigan University, blue moons happen about 8 months out of 228, meaning there’s a 3.5% more... more...

      Tap Dancing Steps into the Future

      The Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) is currently presenting its 25th festival celebrating American tap and contemporary percussive arts, Rhythm World. I sat down with Lane Alexander, CHRP’s artistic director and co-founder, as well as several Rhythm World instructors and guest artists, to learn more about this unique festival, which honors tap’s past while helping it step into the future. more...

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      Musical activism: Greenpeace is not the first

      Greenpeace is using music and a string quartet to protest against Arctic drilling. Plenty of other composers have written works that make meaningful connection between soundscape and landscape. Here are six of the best

      Greenpeace this week began what they’re calling “a month-long run of Titanic-themed orchestral protests against Arctic drilling”. “Orchestral” might be overstating and also underselling it, since this isn’t really about full orchestras playing for Greenpeace, and although classical musicians are involved, there are also bagpipers and brass bands and many other musicians.

      Related: Greenpeace performs Arctic requiem in effort to touch hearts over Shell drilling

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      L’enfant et les sortilèges review – bright ideas and remarkable singing from the Samling Academy

      Sage, Gateshead
      Ravel’s 45-minute opera parable works perfectly for the young singers of the Samling Academy

      For nearly 20 years, a Samling scholarship has been a significant point of departure for young singers at the start of their professional careers. The Samling Academy is a more recent development – a form of operatic S Club Juniors whose intake is even younger, ranging from 14-21 years of age.

      It’s a fine initiative, though it must be a nightmare finding something for them all to do, given that most operas feature a handful of highly taxing principal parts and a smattering of subsidiary roles. Ravel’s “lyric fantasy” could have been written with the Academy in mind, being a succinct, 45-minute parable about putting away childish things in which, as the composer himself noted, “the roles are numerous and the phantasmagoria constant”.

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      BBCSSO/Runnicles review – MacMillan premiere and the raw power of Mahler

      Royal Albert Hall, London
      James MacMillan’s dense and complex Fourth Symphony was conducted with affection and dignity; Mahler’s Fifth felt like being locked into someone else’s nervous breakdown


      Donald Runnicles’s second Prom with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra opened with the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Fourth Symphony, written to celebrate Runnicles’s 60th birthday, which fell late last year. MacMillan describes the symphony as “essentially abstract” rather than programmatic, though it also anchors itself within traditions of Scottish sacred music by paying tribute to the Renaissance polyphonist Robert Carver, whose 10-part Missa Dum Sacrum Mysterium – MacMillan sang it while a student – is liberally quoted in the score.

      Lasting around 40 minutes, the symphony is effectively a single-movement variant on traditional sonata form built round a cluster of ideas heard in succession at the outset: ritualistic timpani throbs; a fanfare-like chorale; thickening string dissonances; and spiky, aggressive rhythmic figurations from woodwind and piano. Carver’s Mass is then introduced by low solo strings, and the development weaves its way through and over it, the textures alternately clotting and clearing, the mood turning increasingly tense.

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      new releases

      Shen Lu: Watercolor

      Steinway & Sons 30039

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      Italian Opera for Winds

      Naxos 8.573259

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      Paolo Bordogna: Tutto Buffo

      Decca 481 1685

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      Bach for Mandolins

      Adventure Music AM1094-2

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      Music of John Adams

      SFS Media 0063

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