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September 2015
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Your High School Musical Memories


Heading back to school means auditions are coming up, rehearsals will be starting soon, and before you know it, you’ll be practicing music for a holiday concert even though it’s not even officially fall. For many, one of the best parts of heading back to school is performing with school ensembles. We asked four organizations more…

10 Operas About Poisonous and Medicinal Plants

The Titan Arum plant (Amorphophallus titanum), also known as the corpse flower or stinky plant, is seen in full bloom at the United States Botanic Garden Conservatory July 22, 2013 in Washington, DC.  AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER        (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

As everyone is poised for the corpse plant at the Chicago Botanic Garden to bloom, why not enjoy some music about poisonous and medicinal plants? Operas would be a lot less interesting if poison didn’t seep its way into their plots. Check out this list of 10 operas about poisonous and medicinal plants, taken largely from the research more…

5 Women on Being Modern Women in Dance


The 9th Chicago Dancing Festival presented its first ever Modern Women program, highlighting the important contributions of women in dance both past and present: Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Kate Weare, and Pam Tanowitz, Crystal Pite. I spoke with women from each of the five companies on the program about women’s roles in dance, both as dancers and as choreographers.

Barenboim and Berlin orchestra confirm Tehran concert plan


Israeli-Argentinian conductor Daniel Barenboim is hoping to take one of Germany’s top orchestras to Iran to perform a concert there, the Berlin State Opera said Thursday, drawing angry protests from Israel. Barenboim, 72, who is general music director of the German capital’s flagship opera house, the State Opera, “is in talks with Iran about a possible concert in Tehran by the Staatskapelle Berlin,” the house said in an emailed statement.

29 Composers and their Canine Companions


It’s National Dog Day! Have you ever heard the saying, “Behind every great composer is a cuddly canine?” No? Well these photos prove that every composer from Bernstein to Busoni had a four-legged friend as a constant companion.

10 Reaction Gifs of Leonard Bernstein Conducting That You Never Knew You Always Needed

08 Jul 1970, Lenox, Massachusetts, USA --- Conductor Leonard Bernstein at the climax of Mahler's  symphony performed by the Boston Symphony in Lenox, Massachusetts. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

To many, Leonard Bernstein was and always will be the great American conductor. To commemorate this modern master, we’re looking back at some of Bernstein’s most performative moments in a postmodern way – gifs!

How Gabriela Montero Uses the Piano for Political Protest


Pianist, composer, and improviser Gabriela Montero is speaking out against corruption in Venezuela, her home country, using the most powerful way she knows how: music. Montero spoke with me from Los Angeles about her political piano concerto, ‘Ex Patria,’ the role of music in politics, and more.

Why Composer Max Richter Wants to Put You to Sleep


Composer Max Richter wants people to doze off during his latest composition, SLEEP, which he calls an “8-hour lullaby.” SLEEP has its world-premiere performance this September in Berlin, Germany, coinciding with the release of a full recording of the piece (as well as a condensed, one-hour version) by Deutsche Grammophon. I spoke with Max from London to learn about this more…

VIDEO: Matthew Aucoin on his new opera “Second Nature”


Composer Matthew Aucoin, whom the New York Times called “operas great 25-year-old hope,” is about to premiere his latest work at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. His opera Second Nature was commissioned by Lyric Unlimited, a new initiative of the Lyric Opera of Chicago that brings opera to the community. I visited Aucoin during some of his final rehearsals for Second Nature at the Zoo, where we spoke about the opera and how he feels about the Wall Street Journal asking, “Is Matthew Aucoin the Next Leonard Bernstein?”

5 Salieri Operas You Should Know But Probably Don’t


Antonio Salieri. Poor Tony. Ever since Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus, Salieri’s real historical rivalry with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has been blown out of proportion. And why not? It makes for great drama on stage and on screen. We often forget that opera companies started as for-profit business ventures, even if many of today’s opera companies are not-for-profit more…