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November 2014
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On WFMT

She’s One in Forty Million; Yuja Wang Comes to Chicago

Chinese-American pianist Yuja Wang

When pianist Yuja Wang comes to Chicago this weekend, she will meet the NCPA Orchestra in the morning; rehearse and perform that afternoon. That’s pretty normal for this 27-year-old artist, who is fast becoming one of the hottest pianists today.

She admits not having personal time, and commits herself to a large swath of repertoire in short order. “I think I like that, lot’s of variety, old and new.

Lyric Opera Timeline: the First 60 Years

The interior of Chicago's Civic Opera House

In 1952, a student singer named Carol Fox got to chatting with her vocal coach, Nicola Rescigno, and insurance man Lawrence Kelly about ways to sustain an opera company in Chicago – a series of previous attempts had ended in bankruptcy. They agreed, if they were to attempt such a venture, they would need to marshal community support – and what better way to recruit supporters than to show them an opera? In February 1954

WFMT’s Lyric Opera Weekend

Stars gather at the Civic Opera House to celebrate Lyric's 60th in an unforgettable concert

In February of 1954, Lyric Opera founders Carol Fox, Nicola Rescigno, and Lawrence Kelly launched the first production, hoping it would inspire opera lovers to step forward and offer financial and community support for an opera company in Chicago – it did. Rescigno conducted two performances of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with Nicola Rossi-Lemeni as the Don, and Eleanor Steber

Playing Playfully on WFMT’s Impromptu

Trio

The seriousness with which the Brown-Urioste-Canellakis Trio performs Shostakovich or Ravel belies the fun and laughter they’re sharing when they work together. Make no mistake, they can play, but one gets the sense they’re modeling both meanings of the word “play.” A notion which seems to spill into other aspects of their lives.

“Il trovatore,” An Operatic Thrill Ride

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Combine a searing love triangle, an odious count, a long lost child, some gypsies, a civil war, a haunting, and a witch burned at the stake, and you’ve got Giuseppe Verdi’s “Il trovatore,” an opera stuffed with devices to delight theater-goers and ruin the opera’s protagonists. “Il trovatore” is designed to feel like the fastest two hours and forty-five minutes in theater, with sword fights, shocking cruelty, and tender

Show Boat’s Voyage into the Opera House

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When Lyric Opera of Chicago added the music theater piece Show Boat to its schedule in February of 2012, it seemed like a departure to some, a reconciliation to others. Many felt the gesture was long overdue: opera companies should produce American musicals.

Lyric’s production was soon staged by the Houston Grand Opera and the San Francisco Opera. American director Francesca Zambello

Utrecht Early Music Festival on Baroque&Before

A hand carved scroll on a period instrument from the Utrecht Early Music Festival

This week, Baroque&Before offers early music in settings steeped in history and tradition.

Each year, the Utrecht Early Music Festival draws top performers for a season of concerts set in locations that, in some cases, are as old as the music. Specializing in repertoire from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque, the festival hosts nearly 100 concerts, spanning 1,000 years of music in churches and castles throughout the

Esa-Pekka Salonen, iPads, and Turning 50

Esa-Pekka Salonen, c. Benjamin Suomela

He was hailed as a wunderkind when he seized the reigns of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at 34, half the age of other prominent conductors. Many observed that his boyish good looks made him seem even younger, but the people of Los Angeles quickly discovered this much-hyped maestro to be an intense and serious musician.

Stephen Paulus (1949-2014)

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Fans are mourning the loss of American composer Stephen Paulus who died on Sunday at the age of 65. Paulus wrote works for many American artists and ensembles, including Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestras, and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Singers were particularly drawn to his treatment of the human voice, which garnered commissions from Deborah Voigt, Samuel Ramey, Thomas Hampson

Shostakovich as a “Calling Card”

Atrium

The pairing of performers and compatriot composers is such a satisfying notion (like having a French meal at l’Ecole Le Cordon Bleu Paris) that in a field crowded with artists carving out an identity, it happens a lot. It almost seems cliché for a Russian quartet to focus on Shostakovich – except so many reviewers