For a composer known of because of his 67 symphonies and seven operas this disc presents Hovhaness the miniaturist.
2011 was a very fruitful year for recording projects by members of the Department of Music. Eric Moe, Nathan Davis, Bryan Wright, Donna Amato, and IonSound Project all released new CDs.
Boston Modern Orchestra Project released a CD of music by composition professor Eric Moe on the new BMOP Sound label. Kick and Ride takes its title from the Moe's concerto for Drum Set and Orchestra with Robert Schulz as soloist. The CD also contains earlier Moe works Superhero and Eight Point Turn.
Imagined Armenias. Undoubtedly, Alan Hovhaness stands as an American original. He has taken from very few. He sounds like nobody else. You can tell a Hovhaness work within a few seconds. Others have even made use of his innovations without, of course, his unique poetry or giving him any credit at all. Hovhaness composed music easily -- like writing a letter, as he put it. Forget Mozart and the Marriage of Figaro overture. Hovhaness, dissatisfied with a symphony in rehearsal, did turn out an entirely new movement in a night.
Andrew Norman '09AD has been named the new Composer-in-Residence for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP).
BMOP is dedicated to commissioning, performing, and recording new orchestral music. It was one of five orchestras nationwide selected for an extended Music Alive residency, a program of Meet the Composer and the American Symphony Orchestra League. Andrew Norman will be the 2011–2013 Music Alive Composer-in-Residence.
In making the announcement, BMOP cited Norman's "wit, clarity and vigor, as evident in his music."
Geographically, Canada is not that far away from Boston. Some of the Canadian music heard Sunday afternoon at Jordan Hall, however, sounded like it was coming from a much greater distance.
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project began its subscription season Sunday with "True North," featuring four composers with ties to our neighbor country. Conductor Gil Rose led his solid ensemble in works by Kati Agócs, Colin McPhee, Michael Colgrass and Claude Vivier, which may not have uncovered any cohesive national identity, but certainly offered much artistic creativity and informed musicianship.
"It's funny. When it started, I really thought that after a while it would change," says Gil Rose, artistic director of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.
"It's been fifteen years, and producing concerts and making recordings has become an always and forever state. It's fun for me personally, but I really thought that it would get easier over time."
"Sangita: The Spirit of India’’ was the title of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project’s season-ending concert Friday night at Jordan Hall. And the program was as dense as the hot, humid, subcontinent-like weather outside, with world premieres by three New England-based composers and a North American premiere by early-20th-century English composer John Foulds.
Indian music in the classical world seems somehow out of place. With some exceptions, notably Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha or John Harbison’s Mirabai Songs, and after Ravi Shankar and George Harrison, the advent of Bollywood and — most recently — the huge success of Slumdog Millionaire (Jai Ho seems to be on infinite repeat at almost every wedding I’ve been to, Indian and non-), India seems to have pervaded pop culture more than anything else. So the Boston Modern Orchestra Project concert at NEC’s Jordan Hall on the evening of May 27 raised intrigue.
I had been looking forward to this concert ever since I saw an earlier misprint last September claiming Sangita would be performed in November. The BMOP site finally posted the right date. Ever since I heard the Modern Jazz Quartet's “Music From the Third Stream” album, I've always held my breath, anticipating the performance of the next composition embracing cultural or aesthetic fusion. Would I be treated to a work of great beauty, depth and complexity, or assaulted by a failed attempt that crashed on the shoals, maybe near something deep, but drowning nonetheless?
The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) will present the final piece in its three-part series on campus this Sunday.
BMOP is dedicated to playing American music composed in the 20th and 21st centuries. The orchestra presents contemporary interpretations of traditional forms of music, geared toward a new generation of listeners. Under the direction of Gil Rose, BMOP has gained renowned popularity and national praise.
The performance will commemorate the historic but little-known rescue of Bulgaria’s 49,000 Jews from the Holocaust by ordinary citizens who rose up in civil disobedience and demanded that Bulgaria’s Jews be spared from Nazi extermination.
Combining all of the art forms as it does in a live setting, opera is the ultimate human creation. A cursory look at the history of the genre reveals that, at its best, opera remains a step ahead of culture whether in the form of the cutting-edge eighteenth-century operas of Mozart, or the nineteenth-century “music dramas” of Wagner, which even managed to foresee much of what became twentieth-century cinema.
The future of opera is a hotly debated topic these days with the Metropolitan Opera’s general manager Peter Gelb taking to the op-ed pages of the New York Times to defend his company’s new emphasis on cinematic-style stagings and HD broadcasts to theaters around the country. Others have questioned what this means for the role of the human voice as opposed to production values and what movie-priced broadcasts do to performance troupes in smaller cities.
When the eleven robots glide gracefully out on the stage of the Harris Theater to take their curtain call with the cast, composer and conductor of Death and the Powers—and bow their triangular heads in unison—-it’s hard to maintain any lingering objection to Tod Machover’s envelope-pushing, thought-provoking and brilliantly executed opera, a work that raises serious contemporary themes while mostly refusing to take itself too seriously.
Our wondrous technology could conceivably evolve to the point that it will enable us to shed this mortal coil and achieve a kind of digital immortality. But is living beyond the corporeal world really worth it if we’ve left our souls, our humanity, indeed other people, behind?
Lisa Bielawa is a major new voice in music, and this two-disc set contains some of the most blindingly beautiful and original works I have heard in a while. Time Out New York describes Bielawa as possessing a “prodigious gift for mingling persuasive melodicism with organic experimentation,” and that well captures my feelings. Her In medias res (Concerto for Orchestra) combines traditional harmonies with shifting tonalities.
It’s not every opera that has its origins in a visit by a wealthy Iraqi widow from Monaco to a computer lab near Boston.
If you missed American Repertory Theater (ART) and MIT’s FAST Arts Festival one-act, 90-minute production of “Death and the Powers:The Robots’ Opera,” I hope it returns, for your sake. You won’t see the likes of it again. Writers Tod Machover, Robert Pinsky and Randy Weiner, with ART Artistic Director-Director Diane Paulus have struck theatrical gold with this innovative, futuristic opera that makes every minute on stage breathtaking.
Remember “CNN opera”?
In the 1980s and 1990s, when John Adams was producing works like Nixon in China and The Death of Klinghoffer, that became the go-to label for new operas based on stories drawn from the day’s headlines.
“CNN opera’’ isn’t used much any more, now that many stage directors update productions, turning even centuries-old operas–from Monteverdi’s Orfeo to Berlioz’s The Damnation of Faust, Handel’s Hercules to Mozart’s Don Giovanni–into compelling, contemporary stories.