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      “Why there aren’t more women on the podiums”

      When conductor Marin Alsop became the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 2007, she was the first woman to hold this position with a major American orchestra. She’s also the first woman to conduct the Last Night of the Proms, and the first conductor ever to receive a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. I sat down with this trailblazing conductor during rehearsals with the more... more...

      An American Dance Craze Hits Europe

      European music took root in the Americas as the colonies began to expand. But the more enthusiastic cultural exchange arguably occurred on the other side of the Atlantic. Learn more about how early American dance created a craze in Europe. more...

      Thousands Attend Chicago’s 102nd Christmas Tree Lighting

      Thousands gathered on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 to celebrate the 102nd Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Previously staged in Daley Plaza, the city’s Christmas tree can now be seen at the west entrance of the park, across from the Michigan Avenue and Madison Street intersection. This year’s tree, a 63-foot Colorado blue more... more...

      Quiz: Match the Composer to His Favorite Food

      Some composers ate to live, others lived to eat. Can you match the composer to his favorite food? more...

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      BBCNOW/Portal review – Latin feelgood factor spreads to Cardiff

      Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff
      Led by Eduardo Portal, the percussionists had a field day in this continuing celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Welsh settlement in Patagonia

      Newly returned from South America, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under the baton of Spaniard Eduardo Portal brought a Latin feelgood factor to this concert. Celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Welsh settlement in Patagonia had been the focus of their tour and, by way of souvenir, the flute concerto of Argentinian Lalo Schifrin was central to the programme.

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      Facing the music: Andreas Haefliger

      The German-born Swiss pianist on vinyl’s resurgence, unforgettable Mahler and why he’s better off singing in his head

      How do you typically listen to music?

      I still listen to CDs instead of downloading, preferably over good speakers but occasionally with headphones. I am really interested, however, in the resurgence of vinyl and plan to buy a high-end record player soon. It will be interesting building a new collection again …

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      Hirda review – a well-drawn chamber opera plays to the home crowd

      Mareel, Lerwick
      This new work from Glagsow’s NOISE, about the drama that ensues when an actor takes up with his brother’s new wife, is an appealing mix of accessible feisty

      Hirda is a Shetland term for wreckage or mess, and there’s hirda of sorts to this new chamber opera, co-composed by Gareth Williams and fiddler Chris Stout to a libretto in broad dialect by Sian Evans. The story involves an actor who comes home to the islands for his brother’s wedding and, wearing a slick suit and with Los Angeles charm, seduces his new sister-in-law. A pair of ghosts circle in the background with unfinished 19th-century business. Whisky is drunk, hirda ensues.

      As a piece of theatre, Hirda is no mess. It was commissioned by the Glasgow company NOISE, who aim to create nimble opera for new audiences. It’s as accessible as it was intended to be: Evans’s libretto is unfussy and uncluttered; and James Robert Carson directs with minimal stage faff. Carson also lets the cast shine: they’re a sparky, vocally ballsy young sextet comprising Laura Margaret Smith, Shuna Scott Sendall, Marie Claire Breen, Douglas Nairne, Andrew Dickinson and Jonathan Best. Characters are well drawn, their chemistry is believable and the accents are valiant. Premiering to a home crowd is the ultimate test, and the jokes (“If du canna get laid in Hamnavoe, du canna get laid at aw”) got genuine laughs in Lerwick.

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      Tour Vienna next May! Join Carl Grapentine in exploring some of his favorite musical sites, attending performances, and sightseeing. Then on to Salzburg!

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      new releases

      1615: Gabrieli in Venice

      Choir of King’s College KGS-0012

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      Saint-Saens: Violin Concertos

      Analekta AN 2 8770

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      Cimarosa: Overtures

      Naxos 8.573459

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      Julia Lezhneva Sings Handel

      Decca 478 6766

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      Offenbach: Overtures & Ballets

      Chandos CHSA-5160

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