Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Last Day To View Grigory Pototsky's Sculptural Portrait of Leo Tolstoy At Russian Cultural Centre, Washington, D.C.

Grigory Pototsky "Icon Painting of Soul"

Photo credit: (c) Russian Cultural Centre, Embassy of the Russian Federation 2010. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Life's Shadows: American Composer Peter Lieberson On His New Song-Cycle “Songs of Love and Sorrow”

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Program Note by the Composer on occasion of the Boston Symphony Orchestra world premiere:

Following the Boston premiere of the Neruda Songs in late 2005, James Levine and the BSO commissioned another
work from me to be composed for my wife, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Lorraine died in July 2006 from breast cancer,
and shortly thereafter I too was diagnosed with a severe cancer. I had no heart for composing at that time and
wondered whether I would be able to compose any more at all, considering my condition. In the spring of 2007,
following a pretty grueling regimen of treatment, I had two months to contemplate the BSO commission before I
had to go back again for more treatment. I initially thought I might write a cycle of farewell songs as a memorial to
Lorraine and began by re-reading Neruda’s Love Sonnets. My idea was to compose a second cycle that could serve
as a companion piece to the Neruda Songs, this time to be sung by a baritone.

As a curious aside, a few months later in the fall of 2007, on the very day that I was to receive five million of my
own stem cells as a treatment for lymphoma, I heard the news that I was awarded the Grawemeyer Award for the
Neruda Songs. That day also happened to be my 61st birthday.

Receiving the award was an encouraging sign, but I still had no real desire to compose and instead busied myself
with revising a suite from my opera, Ashoka’s Dream, and orchestrating my cantata, The World in Flower, a work
that I had already completed before Lorraine died, one that was originally intended for her and Gerry Finley to
perform. ...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Life On Earth: How Can We Strenghten Satyagraha In A World In Which Terrorism And Satyagraha Are Held In Balance?

[Click on image for enlargement.]

"A Minsk court today found a youth activist guilty of taking part in an unsanctioned public gathering in support of jailed activists, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Andrey Kuzminsky, a member of the Young Belarus movement, was ordered by the court to pay a fine equal to $465.

He and several colleagues were detained for several hours on March 16 near Belarus's Supreme Court while taking part in a public demonstration of solidarity with jailed opposition activists.

Kuzminsky was detained again today and brought to the courtroom for his trial."

"Belarusian Activist Fined For Taking Part In Protest" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty March 29, 2010

Photo credit: (c) Reuters 2010. Copyright controlled.

Next Sunday: United States Premiere Of Stephen Hough's "Requiem Aeternam (After Victoria)" For String Sextet At National Gallery Of Art

National Gallery of Art String Quartet
With Henry Valoris, violist, and Marion Baker, cellist

Requiem aeternam (after Victoria)

Music composed by Stephen Hough for the exhibition:

The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600 – 1700
April 4, 2010
Sunday Evening, 6:30 pm
East Building Auditorium
National Gallery of Art

Click here for program note (upcoming)

Header credit:

Hendrick ter Brugghen
Bagpipe Player, 1624
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Paul Mellon Fund and Greg and Candy Fazakerley Fund

"Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588–1629), as no other Dutch artist, could capture the rhythms of music in the very way he composed his paintings. His musicians lean into their instruments, their bodies alive with the joy of the sounds they bring forth, whether coaxed from a violin, lute, recorder, or bagpipe. In this remarkable image a bagpipe player, seen in strict profile, squeezes the leather bag between his forearms as he blows through the instrument's pipe and fingers a tune on the chanter. Two large drones, composed of different wooden sections, rest on his bare shoulder. The interlocking rhythms of this ensemble—the round shapes of the musician's shoulder, beret, and brown bagpipe bag, the flowing patterns of folds in his creamy shirt and taupe robe, the pronounced diagonals of the drones and pipe, and the verticality of the chanter—parallel those of a musical score."

Image and text: Copyright © 2010 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

VICTOR KISSINE: Post-scriptum

VICTOR KISSINE: Post-scriptum

James Keller and the San Francisco Symphony

Photo credit: (c) Isabelle Françaix for

National Gallery To Feature Bouquet Of Classical Music Of 17th C. Spanish Composers, Bach, Hough, Glass, Leon, Szymanski, and Ung

Ignacio Prego, harpsichordist
March 24 at 12:10PM

West Building Ground Floor, Lecture Hall, National Gallery of Art
Music by Spanish composers
Presented in honor of The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600–1700

Stanford Chamber Chorale
with Chatham Baroque
March 28 at 6:30PM

West Building Main Floor, West Garden Court
"The Passion in Music and Art"
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach
Presented in honor of The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600–1700
Preconcert talk: The Passion in Art and Music by David Gariff
6:00 p.m., West Building Lecture Hall

National Gallery of Art String Quartet
April 4 at 6:30PM

East Building Concourse, Auditorium
Music by Stephen Hough
Presented in honor of The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture, 1600–1700

Del Sol String Quartet
April 11 at 6:30PM

West Building Main Floor, West Garden Court
Music by Glass, Leon, Szymanski, and Ung
Presented in honor of The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection: Selected Works

Header credit:
Mark Rothko
Untitled (Man with Green Face)
oil on canvas
71.5 x 60.9 cm (27 11/16 x 23 11/16 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of The Mark Rothko Foundation, Inc.
Copyright © 2010 National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

President Obama Signs Bill Authorizing Renationalization Of Washington National Opera And Limited Funding For Creation Of Annual New American Operas

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Washington National Opera


Photo credit: (c) Doug Mills/New York Times 2010. Copyright controlled.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Quote For The Remains Of This Impoverished Decade? ... (Paging All Remaining Librettists And Composers ...)

"If the décor-mad Franco Zeffirelli set the tone in previous decades, [Robert] Lepage — who made his Met début in 2008, with a technologically dazzling, emotionally arid “Damnation of Faust” — now seems the presiding spirit."

Alex Ross "House of Style: A bumpy season at the Met" The New Yorker March 29, 2010.


Header photo: (c) Ken Howard for the Metropolitan Opera 2008. Copyright controlled.

Is John Relyea going to wear the same costume in Gounod's "Faust", this summer in San Francisco, as he wore in Berlioz's "Damnation of Faust" in New York City?


On the Economic front:

Source: OECD

OECD contributes to G20 efforts to bring public finances under control

[Click on graph for enlargement.]

World Health Organization Statistical Information System (WHOSIS)

WHOSIS, the WHO Statistical Information System, is an interactive database bringing together core health statistics for the 193 WHO Member States. It comprises more than 100 indicators.

Image credit: James Hampton, American artist-without-portfolio (1909-1964). Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Equinox (Give Or Take A Day)

At 12 pm on Sunday, March 21, 2010, in the Nation's Capital, the Venerable Ngawang Chojor's eight-day old Tibetan Buddhist ritual mandala will be consecrated, then swept up and dispersed to signify the impermanent nature of existence.

The U.S. House of Representatives will then vote to pass the Obama health care reform bill -- the most important piece of social legislation in forty years.

(c) Aukland Museum of Art. Copyright controlled.


Institutional Development: How the G-20 May Help the World's Poor

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"Until Very Recently The Finnish National Opera Was Committed To Producing At Least One New Finnish Opera Every Year"

OK ... one new Finnish national opera every year is acceptable for the time being, given the slow and hesitant recovery from the U.S.-led global financial and economic crisis.

Olli Kortekangas: "Daddy’s Girl, for instance, is about the contrast between successive generations in one Finnish family spanning sixty years and is an attempt to express what is really important about human values, for nationality, politics and for changing ideologies. In the end, these are universal issues. Commentary like this is a very important reason for making operas, especially if you can portray real people with real emotions reacting to the kind of events which affect us all. Describing the world through “the big emotions of the little human being”, conveyed by the human voice – that’s opera at its best!"

Finnish National Opera

Washington National Opera

Header: Astuvansalmi prehistoric rock paintings in Ristiina, Finland, European Union. The rock paintings form a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A Nod To Jazz Composition For The Concert Hall

Free Public Forum
Jazz Artists in the Concert Hall

Saturday, March 27, 3:00 pm

City of Oakland Downtown Senior Center
(Veterans Memorial Building)
200 Grand Avenue, Oakland, California

Introduction & Commentary: Maestro Michael Morgan
Oakland East Bay Symphony

Keynote: Professor John Howland, PhD

Panelists: Rebeca Mauleón, Benedikt Brydern, Scott Amendola

Moderator: John Kendall Bailey

Composers Rebeca Mauleón, Benedikt Brydern and Scott Amendola will discuss the history of jazz composers making the transition to the concert hall, including Duke Ellington, George Gershwin and Darius Milhaud. Topics will include American cultural history and the stratification of popular vs. classical culture that began in the 19th century, and the split that occurred at the turn of the century.

The New Visions/New Vistas Commissioning Project is supported by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation.

Photo credit: (c) David Wakely for the Paramount Theater of the Arts 2010.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Aide Memoire -- As If Opera Mattered

Margaret D. Jacobs ''White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880-1940.''

Image credit: Copyright © 2000, Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association.

Civilizing Moments In The Nation's Capital

March 18, 2010, 6:00 p.m.
Leading European Composers Series
Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

Olli Kortekangas has chosen top young Finnish musicians to perform a selection of his works chamber and solo works -- the virtuosic Divertimento reflects the composer's love for the cello, while Tämä hetki -Dieser Augenblick - This Moment in Time is an outstanding example of his chamber music with voice. The opening number, Iscrizione for clarinet and cello, will be followed by the world premiere of another miniature, written for this occasion and dedicated to The Phillips Collection.

$15; free for members. Registration required

Photo credit: (c) Copyright controlled.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Call Of The Wild

[Click on image for enlargement.]

Photo credit: cc David Jordan at en.wikipedia. Some rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cloud's Break For Early Spring-Time Celebration Of 21st Century Women Composers In Nation's Capital

Oni Buchanan’s "In the Moment: Women Composers of the 21st Century" program today at noon at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. FREE

Missy Mazzoli, Orizzonte (2004, for piano and tape)
Cindy Cox, Hierosgamos III, IV, V (2003)
Joan Tower, Throbbing Still (2000)
Mei-Fang Lin, Interaction (2001, for piano and tape)
Adina Izarra, Cónclave (2003)
Annie Gosfield, The Wanton Brutality of a Tender Touch (2006)

Ms. Buchanan’s concert programming is often interdisciplinary in nature, directly engaging the intimate connections between music and the visual arts, music and poetry, music and dance. She also programs adventurous contemporary works alongside established repertoire, bringing works from disparate centuries into fascinating conversation. Her most current performance project is her ongoing concert series, “In the Moment: Women Composers of the 21st Century,” the first program of which she will premiere this spring at such venues as the National Gallery of Art and UC Berkeley’s Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT).

Header credit: Aleksandra Mir First Woman on the Moon, 1999–. Video (00:12:00), flag, publicity stills, and open-ended archive originating from the live event on August 28, 1999, produced by Casco Projects, Utrecht, on location in Wijk aan Zee, The Netherlands, . Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Purchased with funds contributed by the International Director's Council and Executive Committee Members: Tiqui Atencio Demirdjian, Ruth Baum, Edythe Broad, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, Elaine Terner Cooper, Harry David, Gail May Engelberg, Shirley Fiterman, Laurence Graff, Nicki Harris, Dakis Joannou, Rachel Lehmann, Linda Macklowe, Peter Norton, Tonino Perna, Mortimer D.A. Sackler, Simonetta Seragnoli, Cathie Shriro, David Teiger, Ginny Williams, and Elliot K. Wolk, and Sustaining Members: Linda Fischbach, Beatrice Habermann, and Cargill and Donna MacMillan 2005.62. © Aleksandra Mir

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

'Let Me Out! The Sun Is Finally Shining And I Need To Practice My Stradivarius For My Concert At The Egg Opera House!'

Photo credit: (c) Washington Post 2010. Copyright controlled.

Monday, March 08, 2010

New Humanist Roots For Contemporary Opera And Oratorio -- New Edition Of Bach's Saint Mark's Passion To Be Performed In Nation's Capital

On Friday March 12, 2010, at the Washington National Cathedral, the U.S. premiere of a new edition of the St. Mark Passion by J.S. Bach will be performed by a Cathedral music ensemble. Only a broad outline of Bach’s intention for this work has survived. However, the scholastic endeavor of musicologists has produced a number of reconstructions of this work. Tonight Cathedra will perform the most recent edition by Malcolm Bruno.

Records exist for the performance of the St. Mark Passion—Bach’fifth and final setting of the Passion text—in Leipzig on Good Friday 1731. Bruno’s edition retains the dramatic narrative of the Evangelist through text spoken by an actor, rather than resorting to musical pastiche or incorporating borrowed material. Bruno draws from Bach’s Trauer Ode, BWV 198, to arrive at this edition; Wilhelm Rust noted in the nineteenth century that both works shared a unique orchestration and that the meters’ scansion matched.


Header credit: Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto "Saint Mark Saving The Saracen"

In Memorium, Philip Langridge, Muse And Master Of Contemporary Opera And Oratorio

Friday, March 05, 2010

Unlike The Washington National Opera, The National Gallery Of Art Is Not Afraid Of 20th and Early 21th Century Musical Culture

A reason why I like the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.:

Moscow String Quartet
March 3 at 12:10
West Building Ground Floor, Lecture Hall
Music by Gubaidulina and other composers
Presented in honor of Women's History Month

Premiere of the National Gallery of Art New Music Ensemble
March 7 at 6:30
East Building Ground Level
Music by Varese, Xenakis, Roger Reynolds, and Steve Antosca
Presented in honor of The Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection: Selected Works
[Check back for link to program notes.]

Oni Buchanan, pianist
March 10 at 12:10
West Building Ground Floor, Lecture Hall
Music by women composers of the 21st century
Presented in honor of Women's History Month


Alternative recommendations for this Sunday, also FREE of charge:

Sunday, March 7 at 3 PM
Washington National Opera Young Artists in Concert will perform semi-staged selections from American opera, including works by composers such as Argento, Weill, Barber, Susa, Bolcom, and Menotti.
Smithsonian Renwick Gallery Grand Salon, 1661 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.

Sunday, March 7 at 6 PM
The Curtis Institute of Music's Woodwind Quintet perform works by Ligeti, Messiaen, Barber, and others. In the Terrace Theater. Part of the Kennedy Center Conservatory Project.

Header credit: Mark Rothko 'Heads' 1941-42. [Not, to my knowledge, in the National Gallery of Art Collection.]
© 2010 artnet - The art world online. All rights reserved.

"What Did You Think Of Anna Netrebko At The Kennedy Center Last Night?"

"I'll tell you if you tell me what you think about contemporary artistic creativity and opera in America today."

Shostakovich's The Nose

Credit: (c) William Kentridge 2010. Copyright controlled.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Tonight, In Anna Netrebko's Shadow In The Nation's Capital

Thursday, March 4, 6:00 PM: Seminar, “Supporting Art in America”, a panel discussion to include Howard Klein (former Rockefeller Foundation Arts Officer), Joann Moser (Senior Curator, Smithsonian American Art Museum) and Steve Antosca (Artistic Director, VERGE ensemble, Washington, DC) at the University of California, Washington Center, 1608 Rhode Island Avenue, N.W. FREE


Thursday, March 4, 2010 6:00 PM: Concert, The San Francisco Conservatory of Music Students Asako Okamoto and Kevin Schlossman, marimba; Zachary Singer and Yi David Yang, vibraphone; and The Bergamo Ensemble perform works by London and Schoenberg. Part of the Kennedy Center Conservatory Project. In the Terrace Theater. FREE

Header credit: (c) Jean-Paul Bourdier 2010. Jean-Paul Bourdier is a professor of architecture, photography, design, and visual studies. His colorful images of painted bodies in a desert landscape include elements of painting, photography, sculpture, body art, land art, performance, design, gymnastics, dance, and acrobatics.

Lost To Berkeley

Toyo Ito's new Berkeley Museum of Art and Pacific Film Archive is a victim of America's two current wars, it's fragile civilization, and the recent long and deep global recession.

Photo credit: (c) Toyo Ito and Associates. Copyright controlled. All rights reserved. Via City of Sendai, Japan Archive.

What Is The Most Expensive Film Ever Made And The Most Expensive Opera Ever Staged?

On January 13, 1957, an American production of Prokofiev's opera War and Peace, conducted by Peter Herman Adler, was telecast in the United States by NBC-TV.

In August 1972, the 484 minute Sergei Bondarchuk Soviet film version of Tolstoi's War and Peace was shown in the United States in a four-part presentation on ABC-TV. Mr. Bondarchuk also starred as Count Pierre Bezukhov.

Header credit: Copyright controlled.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Lost: The Quartet, The Earthquake, And The Trio

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)

Die Sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze (1785)
(The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross)

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do
Verily I say unto thee: today shalt thou be with me in paradise
Woman, behold thy son! and thou, behold thy mother!
My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?
I thirst
It is finished
Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit
The earthquake

Sofia Gubaidulina (b. 1931)

String Trio (1988)

Three movements without titles

Sofia Gubaidulina wrote the String Trio of 1988 for the Moscow String Quartet. The work was commissioned by Radio France and is dedicated to the memory of Boris Pasternak.

The Moscow String Quartet performed today at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., at noon. The concert was free of charge.

Header image credit: © 2009 Virgin Media. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Civic Culture Raises Its Beautiful Head Above The Frozen Snow And Ice Of The Nation's Capital

The John F. Kennedy Memorial Center for the Performing Arts has commissioned a work from American composer Peter Lieberson to be based on various Kennedy speeches. It will be performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, under Christoph Eschenbach, in January of 2011 -- the 50th Anniversary of the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.

(The week before that major world premiere, the National Symphony Orchestra, led by European conductor Kirill Karabits, will perform European composer Valentin Silvestrov's 'Elegy for Strings.')