Saturday, October 23, 2021

BroadwayWorld.com: McKee Signatures on YouTube: "the series returns to celebrate a century of contributions by African-American women pianists and composers"

 On Nov. 11, "Karen Walwyn will explore the work of  Florence Price" 


Los Angeles

Today, Nicholas Pavkovic, Executive Director of the Ross McKee Foundation, announced the upcoming season of McKee Signatures, including Piano Break and Piano Talks.

***
Streaming on the Ross McKee Foundation YouTube channel, the series returns to celebrate a century of contributions by African-American women pianists and composers, with performances and discussions by pianists Tammy L. Hall (November 4), Karen Walwyn (November 11), and Paul Cornish (November 18).

On Thursday, November 4, 2021, Tammy L. Hall gives a talk about Convergence, a jazz concert and dramatization created and conceived by Hall herself. Featured at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival in 2021, Convergence presents an imagined musical conversation between legends Nina Simone, Mary Lou Williams, Dorothy Donegan and Hazel Scott. The following Thursday, November 11, concert pianist and composer Karen Walwyn will explore the work of Florence Price, the first noted African-American woman composer to gain national status. Rounding out the celebration of Black women pianist-composers, Los Angeles-based pianist Paul Cornish will perform pieces from Geri Allen, Latasha Bundy, Julia Perry, Florence Price, and Mary Lou Williams.


Arts Engines: Aaron Dworkin Interviews Mónica Lugo, Head of Alegre Strings at Merit!


Welcome to this week's episode of Arts Engines which now reaches over 100,000 weekly viewers in partnership with Detroit Public Television, Ovation TV, The Violin Channel and American Public Media including Performance Today and YourClassical. Arts Engines seeks to share the most valuable advice and input from arts administrators who tell their stories of creative problem-solving, policy, economic impact, crisis management and empowering the future of our field.

This week's show is co-curated by our Creative Partner, the Merit School of Music  and our guest is Mónica Lugo, Head of Alegre Strings & Interim Department Chair of Strings at Merit, as she shares about inspiring young people through their culture and musical excellence.  Enjoy... and have a creative week!

Friday, October 22, 2021

RoderickCox.com: BSO.org: Roderick Cox conducts Boston Symphony Orchestra in Mozart Clarinet Concerto and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3, Nov. 11, 8 PM

Roderick Cox

Boston Symphony Orchestra

  •  
    MOZART Clarinet Concerto MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3, Scottish

    Roderick Cox conducts Mozart and Mendelssohn featuring Principal BSO clarinetist William R. Hudgins

    Boston Symphony Orchestra

    Symphony Hall - Boston, MA

    American conductor Roderick Cox, makes his BSO debut leading BSO Principal Clarinet William Hudgins in Mozart’s beloved Clarinet Concerto. One of the composer’s last major works, it was written for his clarinetist friend Anton Stadler, perhaps the greatest master of the instrument of his time. Felix Mendelssohn’s always fresh Symphony No. 3, Scottish, was inspired by a long trip to the British Isles in his early twenties, but it wasn’t until more than a decade later that he finally completed this dramatic but classically balanced symphony.

    Regrettably, Ton Koopman has had to withdraw from his upcoming appearances with the orchestra due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. We are thankful that the American conductor Roderick Cox, making his BSO debut, was available at short notice to lead the orchestra in these concerts. Please note that Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, 
    Scottish, replaces Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2.

  • Cedille Records: New Podcast Episode! Featuring Anthony McGill & Gloria Chien


     


    A conversation with

    Anthony McGill & Gloria Chien


    On this episode of Classical Chicago, Dover Quartet clarinetist Anthony McGill and pianist Gloria Chien join Cedille President Jim Ginsburg in conversation about their upcoming album.

    Here With You features German Romantic masterworks Anthony and Gloria have treasured throughout their 15 years of musical collaboration, plus the world-premiere recording of Jessie Montgomery's Peace. It’s a project that embodies, in the artists’ words, a “shared expression of beauty and friendship.”


       Here With You releases November 12!

    Thursday, October 21, 2021

    PostClassical Ensemble: The Souls of Black Folk: Rediscovering Black Classical Music, Sunday, 14 November 21, 5 PM, All Souls Church, Washington, DC


    PostClassical Ensemble (PCE), for 18 years one of the few true mavericks among American chamber orchestras, has announced its plans for the 2021-2022 season. The Ensemble's Executive Director Michelle Rathbun notes "We at PostClassical Ensemble are thrilled to be presenting live concerts once again! We're eager not only to welcome our faithful audiences back to the concert hall but to invite new communities to discover the thoughtful, cross-disciplinary programs that have been so elegantly designed by our co-founders, Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez and Executive Producer Joseph Horowitz."

    PCE's season consists of four concerts, to be presented in November, January, February and March. Venues for the concerts have been chosen for their relevance to the programs themselves and to the audiences PCE wishes to reach. Three of the season's offerings are devoted to the group's new initiative, The Rediscovery and Renewal of Black Classical Music, which coincides with the publication of Mr. Horowitz’s new book Dvorak’s Prophecy and the Vexed Fate of Black Classical Music by Norton in November 2021. 

    ***

    As for the primary focus of PCE's 2021-2022 season, Executive Producer Joseph Horowitz explains that "The Rediscovery and Renewal of Black Classical Music seeks to celebrate consequential composers who have too long been neglected for all their profound contributions to American orchestral music. PCE has long been a national leader in unearthing this buried history. By contextualizing this story– where the music came from, why it disappeared, and what to make of it today– we reflect on our nation’s complex cultural history and gain insight into how to nurture understanding and dialogue."

    The Souls of Black Folk: Rediscovering Black Classical Music
    In partnership with Howard University and the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts

    Sunday, 14 November 2021 at 5:00 p.m.
    All Souls Church: 1500 Harvard St NW (@16th), Washington, DC
    Elizabeth G. Hill, piano
    Melissa Constantin, soprano
    Howard University student actors
    CAAPA Chorale conducted by Music Director Greg Watkins
    PostClassical Ensemble conducted by Music Director Angel Gil-Ordóñez
    Jenn White, host

    The program highlights Black women composers Florence Price (3 compositions, including a world premiere) and Margaret Bonds (6 compositions), explores the insights of Langston Hughes and W.E.B. DuBois through letters and texts, and weaves together an illustration of their continuing legacy in shaping American culture. Featuring pianist Elizabeth Hill and the CAAPA Chorale; narrated by Jenn White. ‍This concert will be recorded and excerpts will be broadcast on NPR's program 1A, hosted by Jenn White, on Thanksgiving Day, 25 November 21.

    First Run Features presents Robert Clem's New Music Documentary HOW THEY GOT OVER Opening in Live & Virtual Cinemas October 29, 2021


     (Leammle's Royal, Los Angeles, CA)

    +++
    The story of how gospel performers helped usher in a
    musical revolution that changed the world forever

    Featured in dozens of festivals, How They Got Over tells the story of how Black gospel quartet music became a primary source of what would be known as rock and roll, and in the process helped to break down racial walls in mid-twentieth century America.

    How They Got Over features classic performance footage of the Soul Stirrers, Dixie Hummingbirds, Blind Boys of Alabama and Mississippi, Sensational Nightingales, Mighty Clouds of Joy, Highway QCs, Davis Sisters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and many more.

    Some of the greatest names in quartet music are interviewed in the film, giving vivid accounts of how they “got over” in their performances: shouting, bending over backwards, dancing, jumping off the stage – what came to be known as “gospel drama.”

    Their music was infectious, wrecking many a house on the chittlin’ circuit, then graduating in the 40s and 50s to the Apollo and other major auditoriums across the country. The success of gospel quartets inspired record labels to form “doo-wop” groups that enticed gospel singers like Sam Cooke, Lou Rawls and Wilson Pickett to cross over to greater fame. 

    Beginning in the 1920s, Black singers across the country took to the highways as the new technology of radio and records made it possible to reach a wider audience. Intense competition brought new ways to entertain, first with guitars, later with full bands, then with a performance style that would inspire Mick Jagger and a host of other rock and rollers.

    How They Got Over celebrates the spirit of gospel performers and how they helped usher in a musical revolution that changed the world forever.                                 

    Congo Square Theater announces Hit 'Em on the Blackside Season 2 free online starting Friday, October 29, 2021


     Congo Square Theatre Company presents second season of

    popular digital sketch comedy show Hit ‘Em on the Blackside

    free online starting Friday, October 29, 2021

     

    Congo Square Theatre’s radio drama The Clinic

    will remain online through October 31

    CHICAGO (October 18, 2021)—Congo Square Theatre Company (Congo Square), one of the nation’s -premier African American theatres, is proud to present the second season of its popular Hit ‘Em on the Blackside sketch comedy series. The cast and crew up the ante in season two by bringing back memorable characters from season one for an exciting crossover story that spans 12 new episodes. Plus, new characters and storylines are introduced, all with deliberate nods to social themes including justice and equality, cancel culture, and what it means to be a hero. Season two promises to be as thought-provoking and ‘in your face’ as ever.

    As in season one, season two of Hit ‘Em on the Blackside features Congo Square’s award-winning African American ensemble. The series is created and directed by Congo Square Ensemble Member Anthony Irons and stars Ensemble Members Ronald L. Conner, Alexis J. Roston and Kelvin Roston Jr. along with friend of Congo Square Tiffany Addison. Malcom Banks is director of photography. This season’s guest stars include Congo Square Ensemble Member Daniel Bryant, Lili-Anne Brown, Kasey Foster, Jeff Kursys, Ron OJ Parson, Xavier L.G. Irons, and Xaiden Irons, with original music by KayB Studios.  

    The online series posts weekly webisodes for free viewing on the company’s social media and YouTube pages and Hit ‘Em on the Blackside webisodes are compiled into a full show on Congo Square’s website. Watch parties will enable fans to enjoy the entire series together, virtually, on December 10, 2021.

    The first six episodes of Hit ‘Em on the Blackside season two will be released starting on Friday, October 29 with a new episode dropping every week on Nov. 5, Nov. 12, Nov. 19, Nov. 26, and Dec. 3. On December 10, all the new episodes will be compiled into a single video for the virtual watch party, hosted on Congo Square’s YouTube page. An additional six episodes will start airing in May 2022 to complete the second season.

    Episodes from season one of Hit ‘Em on the Blackside are being re-released on Congo Square’s YouTube channel; check out all twelve episodes of Hit ‘Em on the Blackside season one on YouTube.

    In other Congo Square news, its 2021-22 season opener, the old-fashioned radio-drama, The Clinic, will continue streaming online through October 31. The Clinic follows the journey of Dr. Latisha Bradley who is changing the world with a life-altering discovery that was meant to help all but only helps some. Dr. Bradley not only has to deal with changing the future of medicine but betrayal and matters of the heart. Directed by Ensemble Member Daniel Bryant, the cast includes Ensemble Members Aimee K. Bryant, Aaron Todd Douglas, Tracey N. Bonner, Will Sims II, and guest artist Jonathan Perkins. The Clinic can be streamed by visiting congosquaretheatre.org/audio-series; suggested donation is $10.

    For more information on Congo Square’s 2021-22 entire season, visit www.congosquaretheatre.org.

    About Congo Square Theatre Company

    Congo Square Theatre Company is an ensemble dedicated to producing transformative work rooted in the African Diaspora. We are a haven for artists of color to challenge and redefine the theatrical canon by amplifying and creating stories that reflect the reach and complexities of Black Culture. Congo Square is one of only two African American Actors’ Equity theatre companies in Chicago. Founded in 1999, Congo Square aimed to provide a platform for black artists to perform and present classic and new work that exemplified the majesty, diversity, and intersectionality of stories from the African Diaspora.

    Congo Square has risen to become one of the most well-respected African American theatres in the nation. Previously mentored by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, Congo Square would go on to cultivate talents such as playwright Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), who penned the 2006 Jeff nominated play Deep Azure, and playwright Lydia Diamond, who penned the massively successful Stick Fly, a critically acclaimed play that explores race, class, and familial friction. Stick Fly ultimately ran on Broadway and is currently being developed into a full-length series for HBO with Alicia Keys serving as a producer. Congo Square also produced the widely praised Seven Guitars, which would eventually go on to win top honors for best ensemble, best direction, and best production at the 2005 Joseph Jefferson Awards. This would earn the theatre company the distinction of being the first African American theatre company to receive such an honor.

    Congo Square’s Educational Programs bring the impact of theater to young audiences. Its outreach programs, CORE (Curriculum Objectives Residency Enrichment), and CAST (Congo After School Theatre), present and teach theater arts by providing classroom and after-school residencies that provide Teaching Artists to build upon already established Chicago Public Schools literature and art curriculums. CORE and CAST impact students and schools located on the South and West sides of the city

    For more information about Congo Square Theatre Company, please call 773-296-1108 or visit www.congosquaretheatre.org.

    Wednesday, October 20, 2021

    Dallas Black Dance Theater: Internationally Acclaimed Choreographers featured in Director's Choice

    LIKE WATER
    (photograph by Jamie Kraus)
     

    The Edge of My Life....So Far
    (photograph by Sharen Bradford - The Dancing Image)

    Absolute Rule 
    (photograph by Amitava Sarkar)
     

    Dallas Black Dance Theatre and

    Internationally Acclaimed Choreographers

    Make Magic in Director’s Choice

    Dallas, TX –  Dallas, Texas –  Dallas Black Dance Theatre (DBDT) celebrates its 45th anniversary as a Catalyst for Change with internationally acclaimed works. The Director’s Choice series features the classic works of five master choreographers: Milton Myers,  Elisa Monte and David Brown, Darrell Grand Moultrie, and the late Bruce Wood®. Texas Instruments is the presenting sponsor for the series and The Kaleta A. Doolin Foundation is the sponsor for female choreographers during the season. The performance takes place November 5-6, 2021 at 7:30 pm CDT in the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in the Dallas Arts District. The Saturday performance can also be viewed in real-time via live stream and on-demand until Monday at 11:59 pm CST.

    The Boston Globe described LIKE WATER by award-winning choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie as “the ensemble’s spectacular, virtuosic style of contemporary movement…” as it ebbed from “waves of grief” to “bubbles with joy.” LIKE WATER was commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow as the inaugural recipient of the Joan B. Hunter New Work Commission, making its world premiere at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival on August 4, 2021. Grand Moultrie explains, “This work is created in celebration of our resilience. LIKE WATER, we can’t survive without love, compassion, and human connection. Moultrie added, “I want the audience to walk away feeling there is more hope, that there is love, that there is vitality. I wanted them to feel the energy of these dancers.”

    DBDT’s own Nycole Ray will reprise her signature solo, The Edge of My Life… So Far” by Bruce Wood®. Ray collaborated with Bruce Wood® in creating the intense, emotionally charged work. The setting of this audience favorite is ‘every woman’ sitting at the table where a lot of her life unfolds, and she becomes overwhelmed. “I had the opportunity to work with Bruce in the past in full company works, but the time we spent together during the creation of The Edge of My Life …So Far changed me,” said Nycole Ray. “The bond we fortified has guided me throughout the years in my decision making and my approach to life and dance.”

    In the collaborative duet Absolute Rule, choreographers Elisa Monte and David Brown, investigate the coming together and going apart of various emotions during the course of a relationship. Elisa Monte describes the work as a look into the “push and pull of emotional forces that surround the interaction of two people.”

    It takes the mathematical magic of a math major and the wisdom of an international choreographer like Milton Myers to combine contrasting grounded African and airy Eurocentric movements into a unified masterpiece. The artistic equation of Pacing envelopes the addition of Asian-inspired melodies.

    PERFORMANCE INFORMATION

    Director’s Choice

    November 5-6, 2021, 7:30 pm

    Dee & Charles Wyly Theatre

    In-person, live streaming, and on-demand

    NO SUBSCRIPTIONS OR GROUP DISCOUNTS FOR THE 45TH SEASON

    Dallas Black Dance Theatre is limiting seating capacity to allow for social distancing in accordance with CDC guidelines. Because of limited ticket availability, DBDT will not be able to give discounts on groups or subscriptions this year. 

    In-person tickets range from $45 to $65.

    Live streaming and on-demand tickets are $25 per household. Watch the live stream broadcast in real-time beginning at 7:30 pm CDT on Saturday, November 6, 2021. Or watch it starting at 11 pm CDT Saturday on-demand through Monday, November 8, 11:59 pm CST. 

     For more performance details visit www.DBDT.com.

    2021 - 2022 | DBDT Season Media and Travel Sponsors

    NBC 5, Texas Metro News, The Dallas Morning News, American Airlines, DART, The Dallas Weekly.

    2021 - 2022 | DBDT Season Media Supporters

    Elite News, FYI-50+, The Dallas Examiner, The Dallas Post Tribune, Trendy Africa, Arts+Culture.

    ABOUT DALLAS BLACK DANCE THEATRE: Dallas Black Dance Theatre is an internationally recognized professional dance company that engages the cross-cultural community through contemporary modern dance presented from the African American experience. The National Endowment for the Arts designated the 45-year-old company as American Masterpiece Touring Artist in 2008. The company also received the Texas Medal of Arts Award for Arts Education in 2017.

    As a result of COVID closures, Dallas Black Dance Theater’s 44th season was entirely virtual, with many of its stage performances reimagined on film across the Dallas landscape. During the summer of 2020, Dallas Black Dance Theatre became the first professional dance company in the world to present its entire season as paid-only virtual performances, a new business model developed after the closing of live performances during the pandemic. 

    In 2021, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival commissioned Darrell Grand Moultrie to choreograph the new work LIKE WATER for Dallas Black Dance Theatre as the inaugural recipient of the Joan B. Hunter New Work Commission in a world premiere at the prestigious dance festival. 

    As Dallas’ oldest and largest professional dance company, Dallas Black Dance Theatre ranks as the 10th largest minority arts organization in America and the fourth largest black dance company in the nation. 

    Ann Williams founded Dallas Black Dance Theatre in 1976. Melissa M. Young took the helm as Artistic Director in 2018 after starting at the company as a dancer in 1994. Zenetta S. Drew has led the administrative side of the company since 1987 as Executive Director following a volunteer assignment for the dance company.

    The mission of Dallas Black Dance Theatre is to create and produce contemporary modern dance at its highest level of artistic excellence through performances and educational programs that bridge cultures and reach diverse communities.

    The virtuosic dancers of Dallas Black Dance Theatre have mesmerized 5 million arts patrons across 16 countries, including two Olympic Cultural events. Five performing companies comprise Dallas Black Dance Theatre and its training Academy. Dallas Black Dance Theatre consists of 14 full-time salaried dancers performing a mixed repertory of modern, jazz, African, and spiritual works by national and international choreographers. DBDT: Encore! features 10 artists of rising excellence from across the nation who support Dallas Black Dance Theatre's growing local and regional educational outreach. 2.7 million students, grades K-12, have experienced the dance company's performances and educational outreach programs. 

    Dallas Black Dance Academy, the official school of Dallas Black Dance Theatre, celebrates 48 years of delivering dance instruction to a community of diverse backgrounds. The academy was the first in the nation to train a student who received the Presidential Scholar Award in Dance in 1980. More than 500 students participate weekly in 50 dance classes, including ballet, jazz, tap, modern, and African. Classes are held at Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s studios and are open to students ages four to adult. The academy has three performing ensembles: Allegro Performing Ensemble, Dallas Black Dance Theatre's premier academy ensemble, Senior Performing Ensemble, and Junior Performing Ensemble.

    Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s permanent home in the historic Moorland YMCA building in the Dallas Arts District includes dance studios, training facilities, and administrative offices. Dallas Black Dance Theatre is a resident company of the AT&T Performing Arts Center, and its performance home is the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre.

    For more details, visit www.DBDT.com and www.dbdt.com/academy

    BMOP and Odyssey Opera announce performing/recording of operas by five Black composers


    The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) and Odyssey Opera Perform the Work of Black Composers with a New, Five-Year Opera Series

    Anthony Davis | X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X

    Libretto by Thulani Davis
    New England premiere - June 17, 2022
    The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer’s revised version of his seminal 1986 opera 
     

    Nkeiru Okoye | Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line to Freedom 
    Full orchestra premiere – 2023
    Guggenheim Fellowship winner Okoye’s first opera
     

    William Grant Still | Troubled Island
    Libretto by Langston Hughes
    75th anniversary New York performance and New England premiere – 2024
    The resurrection of Still’s grandest opera, with performances in New York and Boston in partnership with New York City Opera
     

    Ulysses Kay | Frederick Douglass

    Libretto by Donald Dorr
    New England premiere – 2025
    An operatic gem, not performed since 1991, that Kay considered his magnum opus 
     

    Jonathan Bailey Holland | The Bridge 
    World premiere – 2026
    A new opera commissioned by BMOP about Martin Luther King Jr.’s years in Boston, with the narrative framed by the journey to Selma and the crossing of the Edmund Pettis Bridge

    Boston, MA (For Release 10.20.2021) — Yesterday, at a press conference hosted at Roxbury Community College, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) and Odyssey Opera, two of today’s leading innovators on the classical musical scene, unveiled a new five-year initiative to elevate opera by Black composers. As Told By: History, Race, and Justice on the Opera Stage will feature neglected repertoire, current masterpieces, and new operas by Black American composers that depict vital figures of Black liberation and Black thought across 250 years of history. Supported in part by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, As Told By includes New England and world premiere performances of five operas, along with commercial recordings. The initiative is one of the most extensive and ambitious presentations of opera by Black composers to take place in Boston and in American opera.

    According to Gil Rose, Founder and Artistic Director of both BMOP and Odyssey Opera, As Told By represents a new dimension of BMOP’s mission to celebrate new and underperformed music of the 20th and 21st centuries: “We hope that elevating the voices of Black composers will build momentum for a long-overdue shift to a more inclusive and representative classical music canon.” 

    The initiative celebrates the significant contributions made by Black artists and composers to American operatic repertoire, and aims for a lasting impact through its combination of performances and recordings. As Anthony Davis, one of the composers featured in the series, noted: “Black composers writing opera is nothing new, there’s a history there, and I’m honored to be part of that history.” Similarly, composer Jonathan Bailey Holland, whose opera The Bridge will receive its world premiere in 2026 as the fifth opera in the series, commented, “Especially after hearing about the history of the other works that are a part of this collection, and the sparse performance history that there’s been, it feels even more of an honor to be a part.”

    As Told By is designed not just to elevate the voices of Black composers but to celebrate contemporary Black creativity in Boston and nationally. Says Rose: “This project constitutes the best possible platform on which to forge relationships with Black-led organizations, Black artists, and communities. Just as we hope to build a more inclusive canon through As Told By, this initiative marks the start of a commitment to build a more inclusive organization—one whose audiences, partners, and supporters see themselves and their interests reflected in our programming and our work.”

    BMOP has been applauded for a 25-year commitment to resurrecting forgotten works and casting a spotlight on rarely performed composers. “Much of the most interesting work is being done by groups led by the conductor Gil Rose, whose Boston Modern Orchestra Project continues to shine in overlooked music.” (Gramophone). According to The Wall Street Journal, “BMOP has long been neutral ground in contemporary music’s style wars, offering itself as a safe haven for, and champion of, virtually every ism, and every genre- and era- mixing hybrid that composers’ imaginations have wrought.”

    Odyssey Opera, who will partner with BMOP in the production of each performance, has been praised by the New York Times as “one of the nation’s most intriguing opera companies.” Anchored by a commitment to eclectic, adventurous programming that champions new or forgotten works beyond the familiar, Odyssey Opera has been hailed for “consistently top-drawer performances of rarely mounted yet worthy operatic repertoire” (American Record Guide).

    Performances + Recordings          
    Rose notes, “These five exceptional works span eight decades, and were selected to showcase a wide variety of dramatic and musical styles. They offer an exciting cross-section of the dynamic landscape of modern and contemporary opera.” From 2022 to 2026, BMOP will present concert, semi-staged, or staged performances, with production partner Odyssey Opera collaborating on semi- and fully-staged productions. 

    The series begins with a performance of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis’s (b.1951) seminal opera X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X (1986) on June 17, 2022, at Boston’s Strand Theatre, a short distance from the house where Malcolm X lived in his teenage years in Roxbury. Bass-baritone Davóne Tines, Musical America’s 2021 Vocalist of the Year, appears in the titular role. Sadly, Davis’ masterwork, though originally recorded, is no longer available on a commercial label. Davis is now working on a revision of this seminal American opera, and his updated thoughts on this opera will be reflected on BMOP/sound’s release. 

    BMOP’s performance of Guggenheim Fellow Nkeiru Okoye’s (b.1972) Harriet Tubman (libretto by Okoye; first performance 2014) will mark the premiere of the full orchestra version of the composer’s first opera. William Grant Still’s (1895-1978) Troubled Island (libretto by Langston Hughes; first performance 1949)the first opera by a Black composer to be performed at a major American opera company, is a depiction of Jean Jacques Dessalines (1758–1806) and his leadership in the Haitian revolution. BMOP will partner with New York City Opera, the company that produced the work’s premiere, for a 75th anniversary performance in 2024. 
     
    Ulysses Kay (1917-1995), the first African American to win the Rome Prize, considered his opera Frederick Douglass (libretto by Donald Dorr; first performance 1991) his magnum opus, and yet it has not been performed in full since its premiere, and has not been recorded. Concluding the series is the world premiere of a BMOP commission, The Bridge,by Boston-based composer Jonathan Bailey Holland (b.1974). An opera about Martin Luther King Jr.’s years in Boston, the narrative is framed by the journey to Selma and the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
     
    Educational Programming 
    To complement these performances and recordings, BMOP is partnering with the Boston-based, Black-led chamber music ensemble Castle of Our Skins to bring an extensive suite of education programs to students across Boston. These varied programs will engage students with the history behind the operas and guide them through the process of creating companion works of art such as film, musical anthems, and modern-day spirituals. By engaging students and their families with Black creativity in opera through these programs, BMOP and Castle of our Skins will help to increase inclusion of Black composers not only in concert repertoire, but in arts education as well. 
     
    Castle of Our Skins’ Artistic and Executive Director Ashleigh Gordon says, “As a concert and education series dedicated to celebrating Black artistry through music, this collaboration with BMOP is right up our alley. Over the next five years, we look forward to working closely with different educational partners throughout Boston.”
     
    Advisory Council
    “This initiative’s success is dependent on our ability to listen—both to the music and more importantly to Black communities in Boston,” explains Rose. Committed to an initiative built on the input from and support of the Black community, As Told By is being guided by an Advisory Council comprised of 16 members of Black communities and communities of color across Boston, with representation from different neighborhoods and sectors, including education, youth development, arts, civic engagement, and business. The Advisory Council serves as a sounding board throughout the initiative, ensuring that this multi-year collaborative and creative experience has meaningful impact for Boston audiences and Black communities as well as the American opera landscape.

    About BMOP           
    The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) is the premier orchestra in the United States dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. A unique institution of crucial artistic importance to today’s musical world, BMOP exists to disseminate exceptional orchestral music of the present and recent past via performances and recordings of the highest caliber. Founded by Artistic Director Gil Rose in 1996, BMOP has championed composers whose careers span nine decades.
     
    Each season, Rose brings BMOP’s award-winning orchestra, renowned soloists, and influential composers to the stage of New England Conservatory’s historic Jordan Hall in a series that offers orchestral programming of unrivaled eclecticism. Musical America’s 2016 Ensemble of the Year, BMOP was awarded the 2021 Special Achievement Award from Gramophone Magazine as “an organization that has championed American music of the 20th and 21st century with passion and panache.” The musicians of BMOP are consistently lauded for the energy, imagination, and passion with which they infuse the music of the present era. For more information, please visit BMOP.org.
     
    About BMOP/sound          
    BMOP/sound, BMOP’s independent record label, was created in 2008 to provide a platform for BMOP’s extensive archive of music, as well as to provide widespread, top-quality, permanent access to both classics of the 20th century and the music of today’s most innovative composers. BMOP/sound has garnered praise from the national and international press. It is the recipient of a 2020 Grammy Award for Tobias Picker: Fantastic Mr. Fox as well as eight Grammy Award nominations, and its releases have appeared on the year-end “Best of” lists of The New York TimesThe Boston Globe, National Public Radio, Time Out New YorkAmerican Record GuideDownBeat, WBUR, NewMusicBox, and others. Admired, praised, and sought after by artists, presenters, critics, and audiophiles, BMOP and BMOP/sound are uniquely positioned to redefine the new music concert and recording experience. Launched in 2019, BMOP's digital radio station, BMOP/radio, streams BMOP/sound's entire catalog and airs special programming. BMOPsound.org
     
    About Odyssey Opera       
    Founded in 2013 by artistic director/conductor Gil Rose, Odyssey Opera presents adventurous and eclectic works that affirm opera as a powerful expression of the human experience. Its world-class artists perform the operatic repertoire from its historic beginnings through lesser-known masterpieces to contemporary new works and commissions in varied formats and venues. Odyssey Opera takes its audience on a journey to places they’ve never been before. odysseyopera.org

    About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
    Founded in 1969, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation seeks to strengthen, promote, and defend the centrality of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the wellbeing of diverse, fair, and democratic societies. To this end, its core programs support exemplary and inspiring institutions of higher education and culture. For more information, visit www.mellon.org.
     

    Kevin Scott: Conducting Opera on Halloween in New York City at the National Opera Center, located at 330 7th Avenue at 3:00 p.m.

    Kevin Scott

    Maestro Kevin Scott writes:

    Hello Family, Friends and Other Fine Folk!

    This letter will be somewhat brief, but while I am in the midst of composing and re-grouping myself to get preparations underway to start raising funding for two recording projects, yours truly will be back on the podium to conduct a preview performance on Halloween in New York City at the National Opera Center, located at 330 7th Avenue at 3:00 p.m.

    OperAvant, a new company founded by Tamara Cashour devoted to bringing a combination of old operas being staged anew as well as rare, unknown and new works in the genre, will be presenting "Tricks and Treats" which will present the first acts of two operas: Act 1 of Giuseppe Verdi's Macbeth and the first performance of the first act of The Bird Lady, a new opera composed by Timothy Lee Miller to a libretto by Germaine Shames. This performance is to raise awareness of Tamara's company so that a full production of both works can be realized, beginning with The Bird Lady sometime in the spring of 2022, with Macbeth Deconstructed following in the 2022-23 season.

    Both productions boast two fabulous casts that I guarantee will warm your ears and hearts.

    A warning in advance: The performance venue is quite small, so if you do wish to come down to midtown Manhattan to see the performance and find yourself unable to get in either because the place is filled to capacity (I believe it only seats about 60, so try to come early), or you don't meet the requirements to attend (You have to present ID and proof of vaccination and be masked - no exceptions!), do not worry as I will keep everyone posted on when complete performances of these two productions will occur in larger spaces. Hopefully by that time we should have the pandemic controlled.

    Thank you, folks, and hope to see you!

    Sincerely,
    Kevin Scott

    Tuesday, October 19, 2021

    Bard.edu: Bard’s Acclaimed Production of Ernest Chausson’s Opera, King Arthur, Returns for Week-Long Encore Streaming on World Opera Day (Oct 25) 9:00 AM


     Chausson’s opera, first performed in 1903, richly deserves to be rescued from obscurity.” – Wall Street Journal

    ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY — One of the crowning glories of the 2021 Bard SummerScape season, the festival’s lauded production of Ernest Chausson’s only opera, King Arthur (“Le roi Arthus”), will be available for on-demand viewing from October 25 to November 1 on the Fisher Center’s streaming service, UPSTREAMING. Coinciding with World Opera Day (Oct 25), this release will be accompanied by a recorded talk with conductor and Bard SummerScape founder and co-artistic director Leon Botstein, an interview with celebrated mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke, who sang Guinevère, and other bonus material. Viewers can pay what they wish and registration is required. This summer’s production – the first fully staged American treatment of the opera – featured Cooke and charismatic baritone Norman Garrett along with tenor Matthew White in an original staging by Princess Grace Award-winner Louisa ProskeIn addition to viewing King Arthur, UPSTREAMING audiences will be able to access all Bard’s archived opera productions free of charge and on demand here

     

    Bard SummerScape’s signature dedication to resurrecting operatic rarities and giving them their rightful due has earned the festival and its founder singular praise; OperaWire noted in its review of King Arthur, “Leon Botstein is what a lot of artists should aspire to. A man with a vision who stays true to it.” (A video of Botstein and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe discussing their love of rarely performed operas can be found here.) King Arthur continued Bard’s long history of successful opera presentations, garnering glowing reviews: “This show came across as high theater and absolute music,” declared the Boston Musical Intelligencer, and the New York Times proclaimed, Superb singers and a clear production make a strong case for Ernest Chausson’s seldom heard ‘Le Roi Arthus.’” Indeed, Bard’s latest rediscovery was an essential, exhilarating experience (Parterre). The encore streaming event from October 25 to November 1 will allow the work to reach a richly-deserved wider audience.

     

    While SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival are among the most visible events produced by the Fisher Center on Bard’s bucolic campus, the center is a year-round venue producing and presenting a wide variety of concerts and events. Upcoming live-streamed events available via UPSTREAMING include: Mahler’s magisterial Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection (Oct. 23-24), performed by the Bard Conservatory Orchestra with members of The Orchestra Now (TON), soloists from the Bard Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Program, Bard College Chamber Singers, and the Bard Festival Chorale, with choral director James Bagwell. On November 23 and 24, The Orchestra Now, conducted by Leon Botstein, will be joined by violinist Gil Shaham and mezzo-soprano Briana Hunter in a program featuring a world premiere by Scott Wheeler, Julia Perry’s Stabat Mater, and George Frederick Bristow’s rarely performed Symphony No.4, ArcadianOn December 11 and 12, TON will be joined by soloists from Bard’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program, the Bard Festival Chorale and Bard College Chamber Singers for performances of Handel’s Messiah. On November 6, the Bard Conservatory Vocal Arts Program will present Songs from the Real World: The French Cabaret, with versatile, internationally heralded mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and members of Bard’s Vocal Arts Program. The program will explore the beginnings of the French cabaret scene, in a benefit for the Bard Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Scholarship Fund. More information about the Fisher Center’s Fall Season can be found here.

     

    About UPSTREAMING

    Launched in 2020, the Fisher Center’s streaming service UPSTREAMING offers new content, including digital commissions, and beloved performances from the Fisher Center archives. Featured works highlight a different aspect of the breadth of programming the Fisher Center offers, including performances from the Bard SummerScape opera and Bard Music Festival archives, lectures, and artists in conversation, all streamed on the Fisher Center’s website and social channels. UPSTREAMING broadens the Fisher Center’s commitment to reaching audiences far beyond its physical walls, and offers new ways of engaging with artists.

     

    The 2021 SummerScape season was made possible in part through the generous support of Jeanne Donovan Fisher, the Martin and Toni Sosnoff Foundation, the Advisory Boards of the Fisher Center at Bard and Bard Music Festival, and Fisher Center and Bard Music Festival members, as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.


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    King Arthur encore streaming event

     

    King Arthur (“Le roi Arthus,” 1886–95)

    Music and libretto: Ernest Chausson (1855–99)

    Available to stream on Upstreaming

    October 25 to November 1

     

    American Symphony Orchestra

    Conducted by Leon Botstein

     

    Bard Festival Chorale 

    Chorusmaster James Bagwell 

     

    Director:  Louisa Proske

    Set designer: Matt Saunders

    Lighting designer: Scott Zielinski

    Costume designer: Kaye Voyce

    Movement director: Zoe Scofield

    Fight director: Thomas Schall

     

    Arthur: Norman Garrett

    Guinevere: Sasha Cooke

    Lancelot: Matthew White

    Merlin: Troy Cook

    Mordred: Justin Austin

    Lyonnel: Andrew Bidlack

    Allan: Wei Wu

    The Laborer: Andres Acosta

     

    *Patrons may pay what they wish; registration is required

     

     

    PHOTO CAPTION: Sasha Cooke as Queen Guinevère; Norman Garrett as King Arthur; Matthew White as Lancelot (photos: Maria Baranova)