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It's the most wonderful time of the year

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

April showers bring May flowers...and the season announcements of the city's classical music organizations. 

I covered the Pittsburgh Symphony and Pittsburgh Opera in a previous post, but here's what's coming up from a few others. 

Period instrument trio Chatham Baroque has an ambitious lineup for next season. It collaborates Sept. 16-Oct. 3 with Quantum Theatre and Attack Theatre on "The Winter's Tale," a setting of Shakespeare's text to music by Handel, Vivaldi, Purcell, Bach, Lully and others, creating "a new, fully staged opera pastiche," the organization says in a recent program book. Next come "The Italians!" (Nov. 7-8), when the trio is filled out to concerto-grosso scale for works by Castello, Corelli, Veracini, Vivaldi and more. In partnership with with organist Alan Lewis, "Joyeux Noel" (Dec. 19-20) rings in the holiday season in a concert of French baroque music and selections from Praetorius' "Terpischore." Presented by the Music in a Great Space series at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, the trio will perform Vivaldi's "Stabat Mater" with countertenor Reginald Mobley (Feb. 21, 2016), followed a week later (Feb. 28-29, 2016) with "Trio Brillante," the annual trio concert of music from various European baroque traditions. If the season begins with Shakespeare, so must it end: Purcell's "The Fairy Queen," the composer's operatic take on "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Conducted by Don O. Franklin, the production is presented with Renaissance and Baroque and Pittsburgh Camerata (April 9-10, 2016). 

Speaking of Renaissance and Baroque: Vocal quartet Anonymous 4 will make a pit stop in Pittsburgh (Oct. 3) as part of its last season performing together. Dark Horse Consort will shed light on music performed at St. Mark's Basilica in Venice (Nov. 14) with works by Gabrieli and Picchi and sonatas by Castello, followed by a holiday-themed program exploring the music of Italy, Spain and Latin America by the Grammy-nominated group El Mundo (Dec. 12). New York's Aulos Ensemble with violinist Marc Destrube (Jan. 16, 2016) explore multiculturalism in the 18th century with works by Telemann and Couperin. The Sebastians will offer the solo and trio sonatas of Corelli (Feb. 6, 2016), and then FletzMusik comes to town for some good old Klezmer (March 5, 2016). The season concludes with "The Fairy Queen." 

Finally, Chamber Music Pittsburgh announced its main Carnegie Music Hall series. The Emerson String Quartet returns Oct. 5 to perform works by Haydn, Shostakovich and Brahms. PSO concertmaster Noah Bendix-Balgley and pianist Orion collaborate on sonatas by Janacek, Brahms and Strauss and short pieces TBA from the stage. (This will be a great opportunity to hear Mr. Bendix-Balgley, who likely will depart from the PSO at the end of the season for his concurrent position with the Berlin Philharmonic.) The Orion Quartet comes to town (Feb. 22, 2016) armed with guest musicians — cellist Marcy Rosen and violist Catherine Cho — for a program including works by Beethoven, Kirchner and Brahms. French quartet Quatuor Ebene returns to Pittsburgh March 21, 2016, for Mozart, Dutilleux and Beethoven, and the season concludes with the Cypress String Quartet performing works by Beethoven, Kevin Puts and Schubert; the group will be joined by cellist Gary Hoffman on the latter's String Quintet. (When you get a chance, check out this group's outstanding recording of that work, which came out last year.) 

In addition to the regularly scheduled programming, CMP is presenting the Diaz Trio (former PSO concertmaster Andres Cardenes, violist Roberto Diaz, cellist Andres Diaz) in a special event March 6, 2016. It sandwiches dinner with the artists in between two concerts that, together, will tackle the complete string trios of Beethoven. Beginning in the fall, CMP is also launching a new series, called Pittsburgh Performs, that will showcase local musicians playing in unusual spaces in and around the city — details TBA. 

Stay tuned for more to come!

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Pittsburgh Symphony announces OTPAAM Fellow

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has named its next fellow in the EQT Orchestra Training Program for African American Musicians; congratulations to percussionist Torrell Moss! The most recent fellow, horn player Adedeji Ogunfolu, was able to skip the second year of his fellowship after winning a spot in the San Antonio Symphony, and started his position with that orchestra this season. 

More from the PSO:

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra named percussionist Torrell Moss as its sixth EQT Orchestra Training Program for African American Musicians (OTPAAM) Fellow. He begins his two-year fellowship in September.

Created in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the EQT Orchestra Training Program for African American Musicians prepares a young African American musician for a career in a professional orchestra.

Moss, a Buffalo, N.Y., native, will spend two seasons immersed in the working environment of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, studying with orchestra members to train and prepare for professional auditions and performance opportunities. As a fellow, Moss' time will include practice, education and community engagement initiatives, and audition training.

Moss earned his Bachelor of Music from the State University of New York at Fredonia, studying with Dr. Kay Stonefelt. He is currently completing his master's degree at Rice University as a two-time recipient of the Provost Scholarship under the mentorship of Professor Richard Brown and Matthew Strauss. He has performed with groups such as the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, Hear & Now and the Ethos New Music Ensemble and with artists such as Joe Locke, Bernard Woma and Valerie Naranjo, among others.

EQT OTPAAM is part of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's Diversity Plan, which through leadership recruitment, professional development and programming promotes diversity in orchestra settings to better reflect the diverse communities and audiences that orchestras serve. OTPAAM is made possible in part by the generosity of Milton and Nancy Washington, and EQT Foundation.

 

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Liner Notes Vol. XV

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Be sure to check out the long read at the bottom, from the New Republic, about the strange story of Mamoru Samuragochi.

From the L.A. Times, a profile of the president and CEO of the L.A. Philharmonic, Deborah Borda http://graphics.latimes.com/la-phil-1/ 

From the Cincinnati Enquirer, the recent financial success of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra http://www.cincinnati.com/story/entertainment/arts/2015/01/31/cso-sees-audience-grow-budget-balances/22545887/ 

From the Washington Post, the departure of Christoph Eschenbach at the NSO http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/music/eschenbach-to-leave-nso-kencen-music-directorship-in-2017/2015/02/18/27da243a-b79d-11e4-aa05-1ce812b3fdd2_story.html 

And from the Journal Sentinel, another MD departure, this time in Milwaukee http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/arts/milwaukee-symphonys-edo-de-waart-to-step-down-after-2016-17-season-b99441467z1-291656791.html 

From the Washington Post, the return, in 2017, of a reimagined Spring for Music festival (yay!) http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/style/wp/2015/01/13/kennedy-center-washington-performing-arts-to-collaborate-on-new-orchestral-festival-in-2017/ 

From the Wall Street Journal, the closure of New York's last classical sheet-music store http://www.wsj.com/articles/nycs-last-classical-sheet-music-store-to-close-1425345520?mod=trending_now_1 

From the New York Times, the impact of Thomas Adès on young American composers http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/arts/music/theyre-always-borrowing-his-stuff.html?referrer=&_r=0 

From the New Republic, an in-depth story of Japan's composer-conman http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121185/japans-deaf-composer-wasnt-what-he-seemed 

 

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Summer's getting closer...

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Summer's getting closer – can you feel it? With weather like this, maybe not, but local music organizations have started announcing their summer offerings, and there's plenty to look forward to besides warmer temperatures.

Last night, at a terrific concert by the Jerusalem Quartet (more on that later), the folks at Chamber Music Pittsburgh announced the lineup for the third Just Summer series, which pairs food and drink with multi-genre music at the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater in East Liberty. The Sean Jones Quartet, featuring the locally-beloved trumpeter Sean Jones, will make a stop here on June 18. That's followed on June 29 by the excellent string trio Time for Three, whose music veers into bluegrass and folk. The series ends with a recital on July 9 by Spanish guitarist Pablo Villegas, who made an excellent debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony this fall (and will return again to play with the PSO next season). Tickets will come on sale soon; more at www.chambermusicpittsburgh.org

Opera Theater of Pittsburgh also recently announced its summer lineup, featuring Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro," Strauss' "Capriccio," Adler and Ross' "Damn Yankees" and the world premiere of Gilda Lyons' "A New Kind of Fallout." As always, there are plenty of other events, from a children's opera to vocal recitals, to keep concertgoers entertained throughout the summer. More at www.otsummerfest.org.

The Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble has posted some hints of its upcoming season on its website, including a recital by PNME cellist Norbert Lewandowski, a performance of slam poetry by William Langford, music by Ligeti, Roger Zahab and Kevin Puts, and more. Check out some goodies here: http://www.pnme.org/news/2014/5/31/40th-season-announced 

 

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William Thomas McKinley, 1938-2015

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

The composer and New Kensington native William Thomas ("Tom") McKinley died on Feb. 3 at the age of 76. Born on Dec. 9, 1938, Mr. McKinley is best known for concert music composed in the jazz idiom but had forays into neo-classicism, atonality and electronic music. He attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1956, where he met his longtime friend and colleague David Stock, a local composer and the founder of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, who describes him as "one of our most important Pittsburgh artists of any kind."

His other collaborators included clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, conductor Gerard Schwartz, composer Gunther Schuller, vibraphonist Gary Burton, drummer Roy Haynes and many others. Check out this YouTube playlist of just a handful of his hundreds of works.

Mr. McKinley started to play piano in local clubs when he was 11, said his son, Elliott Miles McKinley. "During his audition [for Carnegie Tech, he] wowed the faculty with his ability to improvise in about any style and was then pulled into composition by then-faculty member, composer Nikolai Lopatnikoff," he said.

"Tom had been a jazz piano prodigy, the youngest member of our musicians union," Mr. Stock wrote.

"Very few composers have been so completely versed in jazz and concert music, completely bi-cultural."

Mr. McKinley's works were commissioned locally by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and PNME, with which Mr. Stock conducted several McKinley premieres. In one biography, he was quoted as saying that he composed from about 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. "Holidays? My life is a holiday! Composing is being alive," he said. 

"He will be sorely missed by all of us who knew him, but his enormous catalogue of music will be part of his legacy," Mr. Stock said.

He was living in Reading, Mass., at the time of his death. He is survived by his wife, Marlene Marie McKinley, five sons (Joseph Thomas McKinley, Derrick Scott McKinley, Jory Damon McKinley, Gregory Sean McKinley and Elliott), his sister Karen Lee Ranson of New Kensington and 12 grandchildren. 

 

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