Monday, March 3, 2014 by Noel Morris
Weekdays at 4:50 PM
Everyone knows the Volga Boatman Song (video below). It’s been suggested there’s a little of the Volga Boatman in every Russian composer—but what does that mean? Does it come from Russian folk music? Is it an attitude? How does the Russian identity shape the art? How does Russia’s art shape her national identity?
The magnificence of the Jordan staircase, the bold primitivism of Le sacre du printemps, or the philosophy within the pages of Anna Karenina bespeak a highly passionate, creative and expressive people. Come along with WFMT and host Irwin Weil, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature at Northwestern University, as we explore the history of the Russian people through their art, their literature, and their music each weekday, March 3 through March 7 at 4:50 PM.
Tchaikovsky and Pushkin, Part I
Folk Music in 19th Century Jewish Communities
Stravinsky and Folklore
Tchaikovsky and Pushkin, Part II
RUSSIAN MUSIC AND LITERATURE – VOICES FOR THE PEOPLE is a presentation of WFMT, Northwestern University, Block Museum, and the Mariinsky Foundation of America. The broadcasts coincide with Music in Russian and Modernist Culture Conference at Northwestern University.
Monday, March 3, 2014 by Noel Morris
Live from WFMT (Monday at 8:00 PM) welcomes the International Chamber Artists who’ve pulled together the diverse and the diverting.
It’s the day after the Academy Award ceremony, and Oscar-winning composer Nino Rota (The Godfather II) headlines ICA’s program. Rota famously scored Fellini films, as well as Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. His name often crosses the lips, with great reverence, of Chicago maestro Riccardo Muti; Rota was the maestro’s teacher and mentor. Maestro Muti has brought some of Rota’s concert music to Chicago. The International Chamber Artists will play a concert piece (one not composed for film) as well: the Clarinet Trio from 1973.
How does bowling fit into this mix? Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio gets its name from a Viennese hall in which the game of skittles was played, sort of like a bowling alley. Mozart did claim he was playing skittles while writing a piece; in truth it was not THIS piece, but a clarinet duo from a week later. Somehow the title stuck to the trio for clarinet, cello and piano. Nevertheless, the notion of Mozart plunging into the nightlife while composing on paper or in his head is true enough to his spirit if not in this exact instance.
The ICA program continues with popular Mozart arias, composed into a set of twelve pieces for cello and bassoon by Gerald Finzi. Cellist Jocelyn Butler will also play some popular Spanish songs by Manuel de Falla.
The International Chamber Artists will be live in the studio for music and conversation with Kerry Frumkin on Monday from 8:00 PM – 10:00 PM on WFMT.
The score to a film makes a lasting impression, often lingering in the mind long after the plot begins to fade. How well people remember the music to Dr. Zhivago, The Bridge Over the River Kwai or Psycho.
Q. Can you think of a famous conductor who’s won four Oscars for Best Original Score?
A. André Previn
Being a film composer is an exclusive club. Over the history of the Academy Awards, there are a fair number of composers who’ve won more than one. It’s also interesting to note that of all the popular composers of concert music since the advent of film, almost none of them have won Oscars. John Corigliano (The Red Violin), Malcolm Arnold (The Bridge Over the River Kwai), and Aaron Copland (The Heiress) managed to do it. Tan Dun has had great success in both the concert and film arenas.
Q. What is your all-time favorite film score?
As for film composers wishing to make the leap into the concert world, that is difficult as well. John Williams mixes his concert works with film scores when he comes to the CSO. Erich Wolfgang Korngold always thought of himself as a composer of serious concert music, but lived out his career in Hollywood—writing for film got him out of Austria in 1938. Posthumously, Korngold as a composer of concert works is experiencing a revival.
Q. What concert pieces have you heard by famous film composers?
On Sunday morning at 8:00 AM, Candice Agree presents an expanded program of film music. She’ll play some past winners, plus some listener favorites.
Friday at 10:00 PM
Hymns & Hip Hop Conference ’14, “Bridging the Gap Between the Holy and Hip Hop”—that’s what’s brewing at Ebenezer Baptist Church today. Music is as central to that parish as God; it is fundamental to prayer, to the expression of faith, praise, and worship; of community and hope.
Martin Luther King, Sr. became the pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1931. He married his wife Alberta at Ebenezer; that’s where they raised their three children: Willie Christine, Alfred, and the future civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr.
On Friday, February 28 at 10:00 PM, WQXR’s Terrance McKnight presents A Beautiful Symphony of Brotherhood: A Musical Journey in the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr., “From the church songs that resonated with him to the classical music with which he wooed his wife.”
Artists include Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, Pete Seeger, and Duke Ellington; John Coltrane, Max Roach, Charles Mingus, and Bob Dylan.
View video of Mahalia Jackson singing We Shall Overcome:
Hear the Ryan Opera Center broadcast on Monday, 6:00 PM
If you pay attention, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center can allow for a rewarding experience. One can say, “I remember when…” about some of the top names in the business, including Susanna Phillips, Matthew Polenzani, and Nicole Cabell. Now J’nai Bridges, a mezzo and current Ryan member is singing Chicago Symphony subscription concerts—this is a big break for a singer in a training program.
Members of the Ryan Opera Center do a lot of behind-the-scenes training, as well as performances throughout the community (many of which are free): Rush Hour concerts, Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, etc. For Lyric’s main stage, Ryan singers cover many of the starring roles (meaning they’re ready to go on-stage at a moment’s notice). As it happened the 2013-2014 season afforded a number of medium-sized parts which could be given to Ryan singers. Still, it’s rare for a singer to headline with a major orchestra at this stage in a career.
According to Ryan Opera Center director Dan Novak, “After hearing her on a few occasions, the CSO has had ongoing conversations with J’nai about possible engagements. For this concert in particular, both the schedule and repertoire worked out, and we were all thrilled that it came together.”
Shortly after she arrived in Chicago, J’nai Bridges sang a scene from Carmen before 10,000+ people at Millennium Park, after which John von Rhein called her “promising.”
That promise is now being fulfilled. The Washington state native has been a strong presence on WFMT’s broadcast series with the Ryan Opera Center. Listen to this bone-chilling portrayal of Lady MacBeth by Joseph Horowitz; Craig Terry, piano:
Hear the next broadcast recital of the Ryan Opera Center on Monday, March 3, at 6:00 PM. J’nai Bridges sings Ravel and Stravinsky with the CSO through Saturday, March 1.
The training starts when they’re quite young. It involves years of after-school practice, Saturday practice, summer camp; lots of drilling and being shuttled around the city to go head-to-head with other schools. When the stakes are high, the kids know it comes down to either being on their game or not. It sounds like the road to varsity football, right? Actually, this is what kids do to win a spot in the Trombone Choir, or the Chamber Orchestra at Merit School of Music.
On Saturday, Chicago’s Merit School of Music presents its annual music showcase, Performathon. The day-long event is an opportunity for music students at every level to take up their instruments and play—though it’s more than an opportunity for making music, it’s an affirmation of making music.
In a special extended edition of WFMT’s weekly young musician series Introductions, Performathon goes live on WFMT radio between 9:00 AM and 11:00 AM on Saturday. Join Introductions host David Polk for two hours with some of the city’s most gifted kids playing a range of chamber music, orchestral music, solo and choral works.
Baroque&Before, Thursday at 10:00 PM
They are two of the most popular destinations in France. The first of these, the splendorous chapel of the Sainte-Chapelle was part of the early musical life of a choirboy named Marin Marais. The second, the Palace of Versailles, was home for Marais as an adult.
From 1685 on, Marais served as a soloist, playing bass-viol, in the orchestra of the Sun King, Louis XIV. This French Baroque composer played under Jean-Baptiste Lully, and studied composition with him. A number of Marias’ works will be featured on this week’s edition of Baroque&Before with host Candice Agree.
Thursday’s program features a performance from the Pyrenees Festival of Early Music, a concert of lute and viola da gamba recorded in Lleida, Spain. The performers are Luca Pianca and Vittorio Ghielmi.
Thursday at 8:00 PM
The quill has barely left the parchment since Christopher Rouse became composer-in-residence with the New York Philharmonic in 2010. In addition to writing pieces for the St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago Symphonies, Rouse will have given the Philharmonic three new pieces: Prospero’s Rooms, a 4th Symphony, and a work to be premiered in the fall called Thunderstruck. Just before he was officially their composer, they premiered a Rouse piece called Odna Zhizn. Rouse and the orchestra can comfortably say, “Oh, we go way back.”
Rouse won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for his Trombone Concerto, which he wrote for the orchestra and principal trombone, Joseph Alessi (he’s still there). Emanuel Ax premiered a Rouse work for piano and orchestra with the Philharmonic in 1999. It’s a fitting tribute to the composer that the Philharmonic will have played ten of his pieces during this official residency, which was just extended for a third season.
On Thursday’s New York Philharmonic broadcast, hear an early work, Phantasmata from 1985. The word phantasmata was invented by Swiss German Renaissance physician Paracelsus, which he defined as “hallucinations created by thought,” or as Rouse describes it in his three movements: dream images. Concerts from the New York Philharmonic air each Thursday at 8:00 PM on WFMT.
Countertenor Philippe Jaroussky is on tour with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, performing music by Nicola Porpora and others. His CD of Porpora’s works is WFMT’s New Release of the Week. Jaroussky and orchestra will be performing in Mandel Hall at the U of C on Friday evening at 7:30 PM.
In this Impromptu, Philippe Jaroussky performs with pianist Craig Terry. Lisa Flynn hosts.
More on countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, legendary castrato Farinelli, and the composer Nicola Porpora.
Like the first crocuses that pop through the icy earth, the Ravinia Festival announces a new season.
Surely, spring is coming.
The programs are set; the wall calendars are ready for shipping. The Ravinia Festival is about to launch. Fans will find this year’s Festival promises something for everyone, and even some ticket incentives for the classically curious: $10 concerts for select events.
In keeping with recent seasons, music director James Conlon reasserts his close connection to opera this Festival with three landmark works: Richard Strauss’ Salome, with a role debut by Patricia Racette, plus Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni in the Martin Theatre.
Ravinia’s Gala concert brings Joshua Bell together with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for the Bruch Violin Concerto No.1. Kiri Te Kanawa returns to Chicago to celebrate her 70th birthday (fresh off her run on Downton Abbey). This year, Midori joins the faculty at the Steans Institute, promising two recitals. Ravinia also brings round some perennial favorites, including a screening of The Lord of the Rings with the CSO doing a live film score to the last of the three films; and The Knights return, that young, virtuosic, New York-based chamber orchestra; they will be joined by Yo-Yo Ma and Dawn Upshaw.
View Ravinia’s 2014 summer festival: Season_at a Glance_2014