Monday, April 30, 2012

Masur Fractured Shoulder Blade in Paris Accident

Conductor Kurt Masur fractured his shoulder blade when he lost his balance and fell off the stage at a concert in Paris on Thursday night, his assistant said on Monday. He remains in Paris's Pompidou hospital and has canceled his scheduled concerts through June.

"A further scan of Maestro Masur's left shoulder has now indicated that his shoulder blade is indeed fractured," said Stefana Atlas, in a statement. Initial X-rays did not show any broken bones or other major injuries.

The statement added that doctors "are confident that he will make a full recovery" and return to conducting in September.  Read more

Friday, April 27, 2012

Young Adult Fiction Goes Dystopian, Opera Follows Suit

While the big news at Minnesota Opera this week is that the company’s November world premiere of Silent Night, an opera by Kevin Puts, just netted the Pulitzer Prize for music, this month the company also unveils its newest work, Susan Kander’s The Giver, based on Lois Lowry’s seminal, 1993 young adult novel of the same name.

And it has all the makings of a smart opera, with a dystopian society set in 2065, the coming-of-age of a twelve-year-old boy, and the mitigation of passion and emotionlessness. The plot concerns Jonas, a boy who is designated to become a messianic figure who inherits the memories and feelings of history and his path towards taking on that burdensome yet enlightening role. That Minnesota Opera is presenting this as a work for young, age-appropriate, singers is an even further incision to the heart of Lowry’s work, which won the Newbery Medal in 1994 and was often challenged and banned almost immediately upon publication.  Read More

Thursday, April 19, 2012

For Elders With Dementia, Musical Awakenings

Henry, an elderly Alzheimer's patient in an American nursing home, recently became a viral star. In a short video that has been viewed millions of times online, he starts out slumped over and unresponsive — but undergoes a remarkable transformation as he listens to music on a pair of headphones.  Read More & Watch the Video

Two Summer Festivals Arrive, Like Birds of a Feather

We may be seeing the "Angry Birds" effect on summer music festival programming. On Wednesday, two of the New York region’s signature events -- the Mostly Mozart Festival and the Bard Music Festival -- announced their 2012 seasons that will feature themes built around birds and the animal kingdom.

The Mostly Mozart Festival, in its 46th year at Lincoln Center (July 28-Aug. 25), will present an exploration of the influence of birdsong and birds on classical music. There will be performances of Messiaen – including his ornithological pieces Oiseaux exotiques and Le merle noir – as well as John Cage's Telephone and Birds, from 1977, and a number of contemporary works.

There will also be bird walks in Central Park led by the New York City Audubon Society; The Murder of Crows, a multimedia installation by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, presented by the Park Avenue Armory; and a screening of the 2001 Academy Award-nominated documentary “Winged Migration.” Only absent from the announcement is Papageno's so-called "Bird catcher's Aria" from Mozart's The Magic Flute (the composer himself owned a starling as a pet, which reportedly sang along with his Piano Concerto in C Major).  Read More

How the London Symphony Narrowly Avoided the Titanic

The centenary of Titanic's doomed maiden voyage has put a renewed focus on the bravery of the eight musicians who performed but ultimately perished during the maritime disaster.

Meanwhile, a much larger group of musicians narrowly avoided a similar fate. The London Symphony Orchestra had been scheduled to sail on the RMS Titanic in 1912, in what was the first United States tour by a British orchestra. The trip was sponsored by the instrument-manufacturing arm of Boosey & Hawkes, which agreed to give the musicians a full set of brass instruments to play if they made the journey that would span 21 days, 23 cities and 32 concerts.  Read More