December 26, 2013 |
It has been a number of years since the members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic pulled New Year's Eve duty, and none of them seem to be complaining about having the likes of Pink Martini, or this year, Sergio Mendes, take over at Walt Disney Concert Hall for the evening. Most orchestra musicians find a light-hearted holiday celebration a thankless chore when they'd rather be celebrating themselves. But the St. Louis Symphony does it differently, with music director David Robertson having turned New Year's Eve into a surprise party for the last seven years.
December 18, 2013 |
As records pressed in 1969 go, it's an obscure one - far from "Abbey Road" or "Let It Bleed. " But however many copies remain of it, two found their way recently into a quiet room in UC Irvine's music department. With one of the discs on the turntable, the needle touched down and crackled before a soaring baritone rang from the speakers. Seconds later, a full chorus joined, its harmonies vivid beneath the surface gravel. With the record sleeves spread out in front of them, James Dunning and Rita Major listened closely and sometimes smiled and nodded in recognition.
December 16, 2013 |
Though to her it's probably just pocket change, singer Taylor Swift has donated $100,000 to the Nashville Symphony, which in recent months has experienced a financial crisis that has threatened its existence. Swift, the 24-year-old country-music crossover star, is currently in Australia as part of a tour. The singer -- who hails from Pennsylvania but who moved to the Nashville area at an early age to pursue her music career -- made the $100,000 donation on her birthday on Friday.
November 29, 2013 |
It's the busy season for dance. Ballet schools, local companies and touring troupes present variations of "The Nutcracker" in late November and December. Some productions are fully staged, while others are excerpts. The classic ballet to Tchaikovsky's beloved music is more than a holiday mainstay. It's populated with an abundance of roles, giving stage time to young and eager dancers with visions of becoming the ultimate ballerina, the Sugar Plum Fairy. In Santa Monica, the Westside School of Ballet is celebrating the 40th-anniversary production of its "Nutcracker.
November 28, 2013 |
"Judas Maccabaeus" is the Hanukkah "Messiah. " Or it would be if choral groups had an equal-oratorio policy with Handel. Such a policy, in addition, would give us regular airings of another 23 Handel oratorios, all late works (the composer turned to oratorio when the opera business in London went bust) and all of exceptional quality. This year, though, the Pacific Symphony and Chorale, conducted by John Alexander, are offering a major "Judas Maccabaeus" on Sunday, the fourth day of the eight-day holiday that celebrates the victorious Maccabean revolt by 2nd century Judean Jews against the Seleucid Empire.
November 21, 2013 |
It's hardly surprising that Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, with its soaring "Ode to Joy" final movement, has had a worldwide influence as a musical expression of community and personhood. Kerry Candaele's documentary "Following the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven's Final Symphony" aims to show the piece's inspirational power through its role in the social movements of four countries: as a regular New Year's anthem in Japan; a message of liberation for Chinese students in Tiananmen Square in 1989; a choral cry of hope from Chilean women singing outside Pinochet's torture centers; and a symphony of regained freedom for East Berliners when the Wall came down. PHOTOS: Billion-dollar movie club It's a lot of artistic and political symbiosis - not to mention 20th century history - to cram into one movie.