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January 5, 2013 | By Rick Schultz
Asking some of the finest classical conductors in the world what pop, jazz or rock music they listen to seemed like a quixotic idea. Even if they had favorites, what were the chances conductors would take time out from their busy schedules to respond? As it turned out most of those queried did respond, and with gusto. Riccardo Muti, music director of the Chicago Symphony, was asked while in transit to a conducting gig at the Italian Senate for the president of Italy. When he forgot to mention another favorite, he emailed again two days later on his way to Munich because he wanted to add Celine Dion's name to his list.
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April 4, 2014 | By Randy Lewis
Chorale master Paul Salamunovich once said that the greatest moment of his life was a 1988 concert at the Vatican for Pope John Paul II with the group he had led continuously since 1949, the St. Charles Borromeo Church Choir of North Hollywood. But it was his experience with choral music as a Southern California teenager that provided the underpinning for nearly everything he did over the next six-plus decades, including his role in shaping the Los Angeles Master Chorale into one of the world's finest choirs.
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ENTERTAINMENT
May 24, 1995 | MARTIN BERNHEIMER, TIMES MUSIC CRITIC
No musician is more powerful than the conductor. And none is more mysterious. He doesn't bow a fiddle or blow a horn. Actually, he doesn't make a sound by himself. He merely waves a stick or, in a few cases, waves a hand. And yet he makes music. Sometimes he makes it out of love. Sometimes he forces others to make it for him out of fear. Sometimes he makes it virtually in his sleep. In all cases, however, he is the undisputed boss.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 14, 2014 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
We cannot escape Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. On Thursday, Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with help from the Símon Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, begin an 11-day TchaikovskyFest at Walt Disney Concert Hall that will include the Russian composer's six symphonies along with other orchestral and chamber works. But unlike other festivals - and especially the Mahler Project, Dudamel's concentrated traversal through nine symphonies with the L.A. Phil and his Bolívars two years ago - the TchaikovskyFest has no musical frame.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 27, 2012 | By Mike Boehm, Los Angeles Times
In New York next month, Gustavo Dudamel will receive the award as musician of the year for 2013 from the publication Musical America. In Los Angeles he might well have been the bargain of the year for 2010. The recent filing of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's federal tax return for 2010-11 shows that Dudamel earned $985,363 in salary and benefits for 2010, his first full calendar year on the job. In comparison, at least 12 conductors and executives earned $1 million or more from nonprofit arts organizations in the United States that year.
ENTERTAINMENT
August 20, 2000 | JUSTIN DAVIDSON, Justin Davidson is music critic and culture writer at large for Newsday
"Conducting is a bastard profession, a dishonest profession," Dimitri Mitropoulos, who was one of its legendary practitioners, once said. "The others make all the music and I get the salary and the credit for it." It's a thought that must haunt many a young conductor who stands on a venerable podium for the first time, staring at 100 pairs of merciless musicians' eyes, all of whom seem to be saying: "I could do a better job up there myself."
ENTERTAINMENT
April 19, 1998 | Daniel Cariaga
The second Tchaikovsky International Competition--Van Cliburn won the first, in 1958--ended in a draw between Ashkenazy of the Soviet Union and Ogdon of England. In recordings made shortly after the competition, both 25-year-old winners show themselves deserving of the triumph they shared.
ENTERTAINMENT
June 10, 2000 | JOHN HENKEN, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
When JoAnn Falletta came to the Long Beach Symphony as music director in 1989, the orchestra was taking its first steps after a near-death experience with bankruptcy. Its artistic and community outreach accounts also seemed nearly tapped out, and the organization was better known as a poster child of the late '80s failed-orchestra era than as a viable, exciting musical entity.
ENTERTAINMENT
May 16, 1999 | JUSTIN DAVIDSON, Justin Davidson, Newsday's music critic, was a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize in criticism
The orchestra has been summoned, the instruments tuned, Beethoven's Eighth Symphony has been ranged on music stands, and still the conductor has not arrived. The rehearsal begins anyway. The Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique is a period-instrument ensemble, well-versed in historical practice, and the concertmaster stands to lead a run-through the way many conductors did in Beethoven's youth, late in the 18th century--playing and marking the tempo with his shoulders, head and bow.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 27, 2014 | By Mike Boehm
The Philharmonic Society of Orange County will offer a hat-trick of sorts in the 2014-15 season it announced Monday: Audiences can hear programs led by the music directors of three of California's top orchestras. Gustavo Dudamel will conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carl St.Clair will lead the Pacific Symphony's chamber music sections, and the San Francisco Symphony's music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, will also be accounted for - although on this occasion he'll marshal the London Symphony Orchestra as one of its principal guest conductors in a program featuring piano star Yuja Wang.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 30, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
Valery Gergiev is the major conductor today for whom the most superlatives apply. He is commonly hailed as Russia's greatest living conductor. As the general and artistic director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg - which includes Russia's leading opera and ballet companies and symphony orchestra - he is his country's most powerful, prominent, celebrated, decorated and highly paid musician. He is also the cultural figure with the closest ties to the Kremlin. Gergiev and President Vladimir V. Putin are longtime friends.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 27, 2013 | By Susan King
Marvin Hamlisch was a 6-year-old prodigy when he was accepted into the Juilliard School of Music. He went on to train intensively with the goal of becoming the next great classical pianist. But Hamlisch ultimately decided to play a different tune, a popular one. He wrote, among others: "The Way We Were" (with lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman), "Nobody Does It Better" (lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager), "What I Did for Love" (lyrics by Edward Kleban) and "Through the Eyes of Love" (again with Bayer Sager)
ENTERTAINMENT
December 6, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
"Papa" Haydn is often called, rightfully and wrongly, the father of the symphony. The Los Angeles Philharmonic demonstrated the rightful part Thursday night with clear, crisp, clever and ever-delightful performances of Haydn's first and 100th efforts at the genre he didn't invent but unquestionably made feasible. The actual origins of the symphony are hard to pin down. A new recording by the Academy of Ancient Music in London titled "Birth of the Symphony" finds the roots of the modern symphony in the Death March from Handel's oratorio "Saul" - written in 1738, two decades before Haydn's First - and moseys through forgotten scores by Franz Xaver Richter and Johann Stamitz before arriving at Haydn.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 2, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
After Christian Zacharias had conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in plush, punchy, skillfully proportioned yet not always stirring performances of works by Stravinsky, Bach, Schubert and Schumann, I turned to the Marx Brothers. Groucho had answers for many of life's predicaments. The 1946 screwball entertainment "A Night in Casablanca" happened to be especially relevant. Friday's program in Walt Disney Concert Hall began with Stravinsky's "Danses Concertantes" in its first complete performance by the L.A. Phil, even though the antic 20-minute ballet score, also intended as a concert work, was written in Los Angeles and had its premiere at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in 1942.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 12, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
On the weeks when the Los Angeles Philharmonic puts on a Casual Fridays concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall, it leaves something out of the full program, usually the first work, so the concert can proceed without intermission. Last Friday, Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" got the ax, probably without much regret. The chestnut might have seemed too much like kids' stuff when targeting an audience of young urban professionals. So the bill was guest conductor Bramwell Tovey's own trumpet concerto, "Songs of the Paradise Saloon," inspired by, no kidding, a mass murderer - followed by Shostakovich's blockbusting Fifth Symphony.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 12, 2000 | JUSTIN DAVIDSON, Justin Davidson is the chief classical and culture writer at large at Newsday
The pianist Andras Schiff appears to be the incarnation of diffidence. A small, soft man with a pink flush in his cheek and a thinning aureole of curls, Schiff could be mistaken for the bookish curate of a country church. He speaks genteel, Hungarian-accented English, which he delivers in a series of shy sighs. As he talks, he doles out thin smiles and clutches to his lap a gray woolen lump that only later reveals itself to be a threadbare cardigan.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 5, 2013 | By Rick Schultz, Special to the Los Angeles Times
Ever wonder what longhairs listen to when they let their hair down? Once upon a time, when conductors were regarded as remote intellectual titans, no one would have thought to ask. Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony, once described the archetypal image of a conductor as "this inaccessible person with an accent and an ascot. " All that has changed. At least since the 1960s, when Leonard Bernstein praised the Beatles and other pop groups, budding conductors have taken seriously the popular music of their day. And today's conductors don't care who knows it. One reason for the change in attitude is the Internet, which gives busy conductors easy access to different musical genres.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 5, 2013 | By Mark Swed, Music Critic
Estonian is a language dominated by overlong phonetic sounds. Double letters and umlauts are common. The Estonian name of the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, which appeared at the Soka Performing Arts Center in Aliso Viejo on Sunday afternoon, is Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester. It was led by its artistic director and principal conductor, Neeme Järvi. The first piece was by Arvo Pärt. These are not names meant to trip off the tongue but to be allowed to resonate generously in the vocal cavity.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 3, 2013 | By Jamie Wetherbe
Conductor Vasily Petrenko has caused a stir in the classical music world, telling a Norwegian newspaper that orchestras "react better when they have a man in front of them" and a woman wielding the baton could make for a sexual distraction. "A cute girl on a podium means that musicians think about other things," Petrenko, the principal conductor of the Oslo Philharmonic, told Aftenposten. He added that "when women have families, it becomes difficult to be as dedicated as is demanded in the business.
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