Saturday, July 12, 2014 by Noel Morris
Tuesday at 5:45 pm
Haymarket Opera presents Handel’s La Lucrezia, a cantata on a notorious crime.
He was a prince. She was the governor’s wife. He went to stay at her house. What happened next toppled a monarchy and inspired over two thousand years of stories, art, and music.
The king’s son Sextus Tarquinius waited until all were asleep before creeping into the bedchamber of the virtuous Lucretia. She refused him. The prince pledged to kill her and a male slave – leaving their bodies entangled – unless she yielded.
Lucretia submitted to the prince. The next day, she told her father and her husband about her dishonor, begging to be avenged. Then she stabbed herself.
Lucretia’s martyrdom outraged the citizens of Rome. Her kinsmen paraded her body throughout the forum, inciting rebellion and the ouster of the Etruscan king, Lucius Tarquinius Superbus. According to legend, Lucretia’s death led to the founding of the Roman Republic.
The assault of Lucretia is the subject of dozens of works, including a poem by Shakespeare, paintings, and a cantata by George Frideric Handel (conceived as a cantata in order to skirt a papal decree forbidding opera). Opera or cantata, La Lucrezia is all drama. WFMT presents a live performance of Handel’s La Lucrezia on Tuesday at 5:45 pm.
About the Haymarket Opera Company
The Haymarket Opera Company specializes in operas from the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment – two hundred years, from 1600 to the late 18th century masterworks of Mozart. Each production is staged intimately and guided by close attention to details of the libretti and scores. HOC performers are trained in historically informed practices of sound production, diction, and ornamentation. They are also experienced actors who are schooled in baroque gesture and dance.
The Haymarket Opera Company uses a chamber orchestra of period instruments played by top experts in the field. Our instrumentalists are not only specialists on their individual instruments, they are historians who recreate the sounds 17th and 18th century composers would have heard as they wrote. Gut strings, valveless trumpets, and woodwinds with fewer keys lend a special timbre to the sound of the instruments and allow the music to breathe in a unique way.
The story of Lucretia and Sextus Tarquinis is 2,500 years old. The earliest surviving accounts date from 500 years after the crime took place. So viral was the tale, however, so enmeshed was it in Roman zeitgeist, historians struggle to separate the legend from the facts. Historians confirm the fall of the Etruscan monarchy and generally agree on the founding of the Roman Republic in 509 BC. Historical record also shows one of the two, first-elected consuls to be Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus, the husband of Lucretia.
On Tuesday at 5:45 pm, WFMT brings you a live broadcast from St. James Cathedral. This week, Rush Hour concerts presents Handel’s cantata La Lucretia.
View more works on the story of Lucretia:
Saturday, July 12, 2014 by Noel Morris
Monday at 8:00 pm
Each summer, the Monday night series Live from WFMT takes a vacation so that WFMT can bring you concerts from the Ravinia Festival. Monday’s broadcast features pianist Jeffrey Kahane, violinist Joseph Swensen, and cellist Carter Brey.
Mozart: Piano Trio in G, K. 496
Schumann: Piano Trio in d, Op. 63
Ravel: Piano Trio
Schoenfield: “Café Music”
In addition to an active solo career, Carter Brey is principal cello of the New York Philharmonic.
Pianist Jeffrey Kahane appears worldwide as a soloist and chamber player. He also conducts. Most recently he conducted a series with the New York Philharmonic.
Violinist Joseph Swensen also conducts. He is the Conductor Emeritus of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Swensen studied at Indiana University, and continues to keep a residence there and teach at his alma mater.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014 by Noel Morris
Israeli pianist Alon Goldstein returns to Chicago this week for two performances. At lunchtime on Wednesday, he is the featured artist at the annual Al Booth celebration at the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts. On Wednesday evening, he joins artists from Ravinia’s Steans Institute to perform Mozart and Brahms.
Goldstein appeared at the Ravinia Festival last summer alongside Leon Fleischer in the Mozart Double and Triple Concertos. James Conlon conducted those performances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Goldstein has taught several master classes at Ravinia’s Steans Institute.
WFMT broadcasts the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts live from Chicago’s Cultural Center each Wednesday at 12:15 pm.
Franz Schubert: Impromptu in E-flat Major, Op. 90 No. 2
Maurice Ravel: Une Barque sur L’Ocean (A Boat on the Ocean) from Miroirs
Avner Dorman: Three Etudes
I. Snakes and Ladders
II. Funeral March
III. Sundrops Over Windy Water
Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata No. 26 in E-flat Major, Op. 81a, “Les Adieux”
I. Das Lebewohl (The Farewell): Adagio – Allegro
II. Abwesenheit (Absence): Andante espressivo
III. Das Wiedersehen (The Return): Vivacissimamente
- Samuel Adams was not a successful brewer.
He was one of 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence. He struggled with his father’s business as a brewer and merchant, but eventually became governor of Massachusetts. He was the cousin of President John Adams.
- The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that Americans purchase 9 billion hot dogs per year. That’s 70 hot dogs per person.
The Declaration of Independence is dated July 4, 1776. Things that didn’t happen on July 4, 1776:
• The Continental Congress voted for independence on July 2, 1776.
• The start of the American Revolution – the first shot was fired on April 19, 1775.
• Paul Revere’s ride – April 18, 1775.
• Thomas Jefferson composed the first draft of the Declaration in June 1776.
• The signing of the Declaration of Independence began on August 2, 1776.
• The Declaration was delivered to Great Britain in November of 1776.
• The United States Constitution was signed on September 17, 1787.
- John Hancock is suspected of having participated in the Boston Tea Party, after his sloop was impounded by British customs agents in Boston Harbor. He went on to become President of the Continental Congress and was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence.
- According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, consumers outspend professional presenters on the purchase of fireworks, two to one.
- In the TV series The Simpsons the Springfield Town Hall bears a striking resemblance to the home Thomas Jefferson designed for himself, Monticello.
- George Washington did not attend college.
Like his half-brothers, the family planned to send George to England for schooling, but his father died when he was only 11. Washington was self-conscious about the omission and became a voracious reader.
- John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, the Fourth of July, 1826.
John Adams was the first Vice President and the second President. He worked closely with Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence. Adams lost to Jefferson in his re-election bid. Jefferson became the 3rd President of the United States. Jefferson and Adams kept a lively correspondence with one another to the end of their days—the 50th anniversary of American independence (called the quinquagenary).
- Stephen Foster was born on the 4th of July, 1826. That was also the day that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died.
- John Philip Sousa, the “March King,” had a Portuguese father (born in Spain) and a Bavarian mother. After leaving the marine band, Sousa formed his famous “Sousa Band.” The Sousa Band toured Europe and had its own baseball team.
- James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, had financial woes and went to debtors’ prison while serving as an associate justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It’s become one of Chicago’s most hallowed 4th of July traditions: the Grant Park Orchestra’s Independence Day Salute. WFMT’s live broadcast of that concert draws one of the largest audiences of the year. In recent years, the honor of presenting that concert has fallen on the baton of Grant Park Chorus Director Christopher Bell, who has much to say about this tradition. Here he is in a Q and A with WFMT:
You will be performing for one of the largest crowds of the year. In the days leading up to this concert, what keeps you up at night?
If you mean what worries me…nothing particular, except perhaps a concern about the weather. So far this summer, we’ve seen both misty evenings and storms, as well as spectacularly calm and balmy evenings. So I’m hoping for a good day on Friday, the 4th, 2014.
Growing up in the U.K., what did you learn about American independence? What was that war called over there? What did you discover about the 4th of July upon your arrival in the United States?
It’s referred to as the American War of Independence and it is featured in history lessons taught in school, though only in the most general terms. I came to Chicago for the first time in 2000 and became Choral Director of the Grant Park Music Festival in 2002. Since then, I have learned a lot more about American history, including the Civil War. The 4th of July celebrations at the Festival have been a moveable feast over the past years, originally on the 3rd when we were at Petrillo, and moving from 3rd to 4th and back again, over the years that we have been at Pritzker. I miss the huge fireworks display that went along with the concert on 3rd July.
Where do you shop for your onstage outfits? What kind of look will you be going for with this year’s 4th of July concert?
I spot things throughout the year and try and source the main items early so that its not a last minute panic. Last year it was a red kilt with a stars and stripes vest and I had those already. But I was looking for trainers (sneakers?) with a stars and stripes pattern and couldn’t find them anywhere so ended up with red, white and blue Nike ones. This year I keep seeing them in shops but I’m going a different direction in 2014. I’m forbidden to tell you much about this year’s outfit, but let’s just say flag (its the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner).
Are Copland, Sousa, Gershwin, and Bernstein played very often in the U.K.? Is there a style or musical approach to that repertoire that one learns by living here?
These composers are very well known in the UK. Appalachian Spring, multiple Sousa marches, American in Paris, the piano concertos, and the songs of Gershwin, and many pieces of Bernstein, including West Side Story which will be featured in the 2014 concert. In fact I have been preparing the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony for performance at the Edinburgh Festival later this year.
One gets the impression you hold your chorus to very high standards. It sounds like you also share some laughs together. How would you characterize that working relationship? Does it get easier, and what are some of your favorite memories?
It’s important that the chorus realizes that I do want a high standard, and we work hard to achieve that …but when you are rehearsing together four evenings a week (and in a concert week there can be up to seven services), laughing and occasional lighter moments are a crucial balance to the intensity there can be.
Over the years we have developed a way of working, so singers know what I expect in certain places but there are always new people in the room (regular choristers sometimes have other singing/family commitments), so these guests need to be brought into the Grant Park Music Festival sound world.
It’s a great thrill when a section sings a crucial line and it’s musical, technically well sung and nicely blended. I then feel I have chosen the right singers for the group and that’s very satisfying. Favourite concerts over the years would be Britten’s War Requiem, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Sea Symphony, Glagolitic Mass and many, many a cappella concerts sung in some of the city’s fine churches (particularly Our Lady of Sorrows on Jackson - amazing building).
I’m looking forward to the Chorus’ two upcoming a cappella concerts – at the South Shore Cultural Center on July 17 at 7:00 pm, and the Columbus Park Refectory on July 20 at 3:00 pm. We performed there last year and they were terrific settings for the group.
July 3rd/4th has always been fun, and its a privilege that y’all let an Irishman conduct on your Independence Day. This is the first time in recent memory that the chorus has joined us, so this one will be particularly special.
After more than ten years of tedious record-keeping and documentation, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Principal Violist Carol Cook became an American. At her swearing-in ceremony, she made a musical offering for herself and dozens of other candidates taking the Oath of Allegiance: a solo performance of the Star-Spangled Banner (video below).
For years Carol Cook stacked her schedule, taking few vacation days and cataloging the printed program of every performance. Even as a member of the Lyric Opera viola section, she had to demonstrate to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services that her employment status would be unchanged for another two years – a standard requirement for an O-visa, a permit for non-immigrants who possess extraordinary ability. After several rounds of submitting her performance history and re-qualifying for the O-visa, she was eligible for a green card.
For Cook, the only bit of unfinished business was becoming an American. Chicago is home to this Scottish musician. Already active in the community, she wanted to be a full-fledged member. Thus, the minute she was eligible (after having lived for five years as a “permanent resident”), Carol Cook applied for citizenship. On Monday, July 22, 2013, she took the Oath of Allegiance and became a United States citizen.
See video of Carol Cook performing the Star-Spangled Banner at her swearing-in ceremony.
On Wednesday, July 2 at 6:30 pm, tune into WFMT for a live broadcast from the Grant Park Music Festival. Wednesday’s program features a work by American composer Richard Danielpour, Darkness in the Ancient Valley.
According to the composer, Darkness is of a personal nature. Though he grew up in New York, he comes from a family of Persian Jews who left Iran during World War II. The composer said he had always distanced himself from his family history. That changed in 2009 when the shooting of a young Iranian woman made headlines around the world.
The young woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, had gone with her voice teacher to witness an anti-government protest. She was shot dead as she stepped out of the car. The scene went viral and deeply effected the composer. He decided to write Darkness in the Ancient Valley in tribute to Agha-Soltan.
“The voice of this woman is, for me, a metaphor for the voice of the people of Iran, who have endured much under the present regime, but who nonetheless refuse to retaliate with violence.”
Hear this work by American composer Richard Danielpour played by the Grant Park Orchestra. Giancarlo Guerrero conducts this concert with Chicago-native Gabriel Cabezas playing the solo cello in the Saint-Saens Cello Concerto in A minor. The Ryan Opera Center’s Tracy Cantin will also be appearing in music by Francis Poulenc. WFMT’s live broadcast begins at 6:30 pm.
See a video of music by Richard Danielpour:
Live from Grant Park, Wednesday at 6:30 pm
Gabriel Cabezas played his first WFMT broadcast in 2008. The show was Introductions, a WFMT production that showcases Chicago’s young musicians (pre-college). At the time, Cabezas was a sophomore at New Trier High School.
Now, six years later, Cabezas has soloed with major orchestras and plays chamber music at the Marlboro Festival.
Wednesday evening Gabriel Cabezas performs a free concert for his hometown crowd at the Grant Park Music Festival. WFMT will broadcast the concert live, starting at 6:30 pm.
If you’re curious to hear this soloist, back when he was but a high school kid, check out Gabriel Cabezas in this early edition of Introductions.
Steans Institute at Hess, Wednesday at 12:15 pm
For most of us, the Ravinia Festival means picnics and great music. For a lucky few – a lucky and hard-working few – the Ravinia Festival is an excellent place to train for a music career.
Teaching isn’t exactly a day job for faculty at the Steans Institute. Many of the teachers have themselves been headliners at Ravinia’s pavilion, including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Pamela Frank, and James Conlon.
Founded in 1988, Ravinia’s Steans Institute operates three programs: jazz, piano and strings, and voice. This year’s voice faculty includes Heidi Grant Murphy and Malcolm Martineau. The piano and strings division includes Menahem Pressler, Joseph Kalichstein, and composers Bernard Rands and Shulamit Ran.
Young musicians from Ravinia’s Steans Institute will perform on Wednesday’s weekly broadcast of the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concerts. Violinist Stella Chen, from Palo Alto, California, will perform music by Bach, Paganini, and Chopin. She’ll be joined by Israeli pianist Renana Gutman for a Sonata for Violin and Piano by Mozart.
Stella Chen is enrolled at the Harvard/New England Conservatory Dual Degree Program where she studies music and math with a secondary focus in psychology.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014 by Noel Morris
Whenever one digs into American music, it’s worth remembering that this is a nation of immigrants. People cross into the United States with heads and hearts full of music. They share, and they innovate, and they create new music together.
Listen to this program excerpt as Bill McGlaughlin tells the story of one composer, Ernst Toch, who moved to the United States and became the teacher of André Previn and film composer Alex North.
This week Bill McGlaughlin presents “American Masters,” the fourth installment in a survey of American music.
Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin airs weekdays at 7:00 pm. This week only, the Wednesday and Friday programs will air at 5:30 pm in order to bring you live concerts from the Grant Park Music Festival.