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July 2015
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How One Man Built the Great American Orchestra

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  The names inscribed on the façade of Chicago’s Orchestra Hall – Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Wagner – are familiar to every concertgoer. But another name that is proudly displayed not once, but twice alongside this pantheon of musical masters may be less familiar to you: Theodore Thomas. Theodore Thomas founded what would later more…

Countertenor David Daniels on Finding His Voice, Finding Himself, and Being Married by Justice Ginsburg


David Daniels is “the most acclaimed countertenor of the day, perhaps the best ever,” to use the words of the New York Times. Though many know him best for portraying some of opera’s greatest heroes from Julius Caesar to Orpheus, he is also passionate about civil rights.

Our Country, ‘Tis of Thee: How Marian Anderson Broke Boundaries for Singers of Color


Younger generations of Americans take it for granted that the United States has been legally desegregated. But, before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, segregation was the norm, including in concert halls across America.

15 Queer Composers You Should Know


June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month. We celebrate the music of LGBTQ composers all year long since it’s hard to escape a concert season without hearing works by Handel, Tchaikovsky, Britten, and others. But we wanted to recognize a few notable figures, past and present, who do did not or do not identify as heterosexual. Some more…

Signifyin’ in Song: How the Sounds of Slavery Changed Music Forever


African-American spirituals are not just a cornerstone of the American choral tradition, they have impacted countless genres of music heard everywhere from saloons to symphony halls. Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, “From the New World,” borrows heavily from African-American musical traditions, and spirituals in particular.

How A Bach Minuet Got a Motown Makeover


Bach’s Minuet in G major from the Notebooks for Anna Magdalena Bach is so famous that you may have even had it as your cell phone ring tone at one point or another. The piece is so simple and elegant that it’s often one of the first pieces musicians learn to play. It can easily be played on more…

9 Living Black Composers You Need To Know


If you’re not familiar with these 9 composers, we’ve got 2 things to say:

1. You’re missing out on a lot of great music.
2. Now’s your chance to catch up! June is African-American Music Appreciation Month.

Composer Leila Adu Fights Racial Violence With Music


In what can best be described as an act of terror and a hate crime, a man shot and killed 9 members of a Bible study group in Charleston, South Carolina on Thursday, June 19, 2015. In response to racial violence against African Americans in recent years, composer Leila Adu has turned to music.

Opening Night at Grant Park Music Festival


Thousands attended the opening night concert of the 2015 Grant Park Music Festival last night, Wednesday, June 17. Despite downpours earlier in the day, the sun was shining and everyone was eager to kick off summer with food, friends, and free live music. Conductor Carlos Kalmar led the Grant Park Orchestra for a spectacular concert featuring Russian piano sensation, more…

INTERVIEW: How A Vow of Silence Earned Monks a #1 Album


Mozart once said, “The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.” Truer words could not be said about the Monks of Norcia. This group of Benedictine brothers is under a vow of silence but just released an album that debuted at #1 on the Billboard classical charts. The monks at the more…