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September 2014
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Winners of Genius Grants “Inspire us all”

Public artist Rick Lowe

People who win don’t even know they’ve been considered, but on Wednesday they were identified by international news agencies as “21 extraordinarily creative people who inspire us all.” Some are scientists; others are historians, poets, or lawyers. There’s an artist, a jazz musician, and a cartoonist. They are the 2014 MacArthur Fellows, recipients of what’s often called the genius grant, a $625,000 cash prize – no strings attached

Nicholas Phan: a Tenor with a Mission

Tenor Nicholas Phan, artistic director of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago

“…to make Chicago a world home for the study and performance of art song and vocal chamber music.”

That is the goal of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago. They’ve recruited tenor Nicholas Phan as artistic director, and are hosting the 2014 Collaborative Works Festival this week with Susanna Phillips, Michelle DeYoung, Kelley O’Connor, Joshua Hopkins, and Nicholas Phan.

Tenor Nicholas Phan is giving a WFMT Impromptu

In the Studio with Jason Vieaux

Jason Vieaux

His name appears alongside Usher, Rosanne Cash, and Beyoncé on NPR’s list of “50 Favorite Songs of 2014 (so far).” Jason Vieaux is definitely a man of the 21st century. He tweets, he’s on iTunes, and though he makes appearances all over the world, manages a full teaching schedule online.

Vieaux’s answer to a culture obsessed with playlists

Carlos Kleiber, A Reclusive Genius

CarlosKleiber

“Carlos has a genius for conducting, but he doesn’t enjoy doing it. He tells me, ‘I conduct only when I’m hungry’. And it’s true. He has a deep-freeze. He fills it up and cooks for himself and when it gets down to a certain level, then he thinks ‘Now I might do a concert’.” That

Champion Plays Ravinia

DenisMatsuevCollage

He calls Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin “a big friend of mine.” His heroes are Vladimir Horowitz and star hockey center Sergei Fedorov. Russian pianist Denis Matsuev, who has “epic technique” according to the Boston Globe, is not shy about talking sports. In a 2009 Impromptu, he told WFMT that as a youth in Siberia, he could hardly be kept indoors. He played either soccer or ice hockey “about seven hours a day. Music was second.” Speaking with a gentle Russian growl, he laughs

Passings: Licia Albanese, Carlo Bergonzi

Licia Albanese as Cio-Cio-San in "Madama Butterfly"

He gave more than 300 performances at the Metropolitan Opera. She exceeded 400. Two Italian-born, 20th century opera stars passed away in recent weeks: tenor Carlo Bergonzi and soprano Licia Albanese. Bergonzi in particular had a long performance history in Chicago, making his American debut at Lyric Opera in 1955; while Albanese worked primarily in New York

Why You Should Hear this Composer

Christopher Theofanidis

The glass ceiling between living composers and those of a hundred years ago seems to be splintering. One of the principal agents is Dallas-native Christopher Theofanidis. He is one of the most sought-after composers today, with performances by over seventy orchestras worldwide. While he’s had plenty of attention

CSO Principal talks Elgar and Muti

CSO Principal Cello John Sharp, Madrid, c. Todd Rosenberg

Anyone who has seen Riccardo Muti catch air on the podium, might be hard-pressed to think of him as an old dog. Last spring, the youthful, now 73-year-old conductor demonstrated his willingness to learn new tricks: he led the CSO in his first-ever performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto.

Spanish Fever at Grant Park

Flamenco Dancer

February-March 1875, Paris – Within the span of one month, the Parisians saw the premieres of Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole and Bizet’s Carmen. For the audience, there was something different, something exotic about those pieces – eventually people would be whistling them in the streets.

David Robertson Puts Youth in Spotlight

Conductor David Robertson

On Monday evening, David Robertson returns to the Chicago stage, this time with the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America.

There is the notion that some conductors work with youth orchestras while hoping to move on to professional orchestras – not so with David Robertson. He has the big career