Opera Shorts in New York!

Well, music nerds, I know that experiments in human cloning are sort of frowned upon in most sectors, but dang it, I need more than one of me!

I’m slated to attend two concerts here in Boston this weekend: the BSO season opener Saturday, and Cantata Singers’ program of songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams on Sunday.

PhotobucketMeanwhile, I heard it through the Twittervine yesterday that New York-based group Remarkable Theater Brigade is presenting a program of 10-minute operas at Carnegie Hall tomorrow night. How cool is that? I am seriously contemplating hopping on a Bolt Bus to go see it. All I need is a couch to crash on in the NYC area… Anybody?

I just love the combination of title and graphic, too. Keep your shorts on, opera lovers – Opera Shorts is almost here!

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Not With A Bang, But A Hymn: Cantata Singers Presents Songs of Ralph Vaughan Williams

Cantata Singers Chamber Series
Vocal Solo and Ensemble Music of Ralph Vaughan Williams
Sunday, October 3rd, 2:30pm
Longy School of Music
1 Follen Street, Cambridge, MA
Admission: $20 at the door, or click here to purchase

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of getting to know Cantata Singers, a Boston choral group founded in 1964. The group began with the mission of performing Bach cantatas, which were not widely known at the time (such a state of affairs is hard to imagine now, isn’t it?). Since then, they have expanded their programming to include works from five centuries, including the present one. For the past few seasons, they have chosen one composer to focus on; last season, they changed my mind about Heinrich Schütz. This coming Sunday, the group kicks off a season-long celebration of Ralph Vaughan Williams. I won’t need any convincing here — I’m just going to bask!

PhotobucketI sat down recently with Allison Voth, Music Director for the group’s Chamber Series, to talk about their upcoming concert (among many fascinating things), which will feature selections from the composer’s extensive repertoire of songs and hymns for soloists and small ensembles. She has a very interesting and varied musical career, which includes writing supertitles for opera productions, a deeply fascinating and music nerdy topic that I plan to bring you in the near future! But for now, let’s meet Allison and talk about the fabulous concert she’s presenting this weekend.

Here’s one of the pieces you’ll hear… Then click Mr. Readmore below for the rest of the story!

Mr. Readmore says read on: Continue reading

Strange Beautiful Music in Detroit!

New Music Detroit
Strange Beautiful Music IV
Saturday, September 25 at 6 p.m.-1 a.m.
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
4454 Woodward Ave., Detroit MI

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It’s not every day that Detroit figures prominently in Arts and Entertainment media, but a random confluence of news items have recently flown over the transom here at Music Nerd Central, and I know, dear reader, that you’re counting on me to sort it all out for you. I live but to serve!

Why Detroit, you ask? Well, McDoc and I lived there for two years, so I have a soft spot for it, and being contrarian by nature, I enjoy having concrete evidence to counter the ubiquitous "Detroit sucks" meme.

I have the pilot episode of Detroit 1-8-7 on my DVR; a busy week of rehearsals for Saturday’s 30 Days Project in Concert have kept me from watching it yet. (Yes, Miss Music Nerd has a latent fondness for police procedurals. It’s just one of my many dirty secrets!)

One of my loyal informants has informed me that the Detroit Symphony players may go on strike if a contract dispute is not resolved soon. I used to live two blocks from the hall where they played, and enjoyed many wonderful concerts there, so this news saddens me. I hope negotiations go well.

Here’s the really important item that you’re less likely to have heard about, though: New Music Detroit presents Strange Beautiful Music IV!

New Music Detroit is a contemporary music group that I had the honor of meeting and working with a little bit while I lived in the D. In fact, it was quite serendipitous for me; before McDoc and I moved to Michigan, I searched online for contemporary music ensembles in Detroit and found none. I figured I’d be driving to Ann Arbor a lot. But not long after we arrived in the summer of 2007 — in fact, we were still sitting on folding chairs and living out of boxes — I heard a radio announcement NMD’s very first concert, and I delightedly hightailed it on down. Kismet!

Read here about my experience performing on their very first marathon concert back in September of ’07!

They are fantastic musicians who always put on an impressive show. The event this Saturday is their annual marathon show. Just $8 gets you as much or as little cutting-edge music as you can handle! If you’re in the Detroit area, check it out, and tell ’em Miss Music Nerd sent you!

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The 30 Days Project, Live in Concert!

I have exciting news, Music Nerds!

If you’ve been following the adventures of Miss Music Nerd for any length of time, you’ve probably heard mention of The 30 Days Project. Back in the summer of 2007, I wrote a short piece of music every day for 30 days, and posted digital recordings right here on the blog. I made the recordings using my digital piano and MIDI sounds provided by my resident ensemble, the All-Electron Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ever since I was in the thick of the project, it has been my dream to have all 30 pieces performed as a live concert at some point. It’s a logistical challenge given the number of instruments involved. But the starts and planets eventually aligned in just the right way, and I made the acquaintance of a group of talented musicians from New England Conservatory who were itching to tackle interesting new music projects. They call themselves the Inter-NEC Ensemble. Finding the musicians was the hardest part, but I also needed a venue. That’s where it helps to be involved in organizing a concert series at the church where I’m the Minister of Music!

So I am very pleased to announce that a dream three years in the making is finally coming true!

UPDATE: I almost forgot, I’m also planning to webcast this shindig, so if you’re not a local music nerd, watch this space for details! (MMN-TV is currently doing quality assurance testing!)

Here are the vital details:

Saturday, Sept. 25, 7:30 pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church
1 Roanoke Ave, Jamaica Plain (Google map link)

JP Concerts Presents:
The Inter-NEC Collective
The 30 Days Project
music by Linda Kernohan

$10 suggested donation • more info: jpconcerts.com

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Miss Music Nerd’s Fall Arts Preview: A Far Cry from Boston!

Fall really is upon us, Music Nerds! One minute I was enjoying my Labor Day vacay, and next thing I knew, the concert season was in full swing! For me, it started last night with the [plain] song, in a program being repeated Saturday and Sunday (details here).

photo: Yoon S. Byun

It continues tomorrow afternoon with A Far Cry. Fortunately for you, dear readers, you have three chances to hear this concert as well. However, I strongly recommend tomorrow’s performance, not only because it will be your chance to meet Miss Music Nerd in person, but also because the venue has marvelous acoustics and the tickets are only $10! (Said venue is the church where I am Minister of Music, so yeah, I’m biased!)

A Far Cry: “Primordial Darkness”
September 18 2010 4pm
JP Concerts, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Jamaica Plain

September 19 2010 1:30pm
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

September 24 2010 8pm
Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, Boston

A Far Cry is an exciting young string orchestra, now in its fourth season. They perform conductor-less, with the performers standing up (except the cellos!), which lends an intimacy and excitement to the playing that is very compelling. Or as they put it, “seeking the freedom and flexibility of a string quartet as well as the power and beauty of an orchestra.” In addition to their Boston area performance and outreach activities, they have recently begun taking it on the road, as an article in today’s Boston Globe relates.

The theme for their fourth season is “History of the Night,” and this first concert is titled “Primordial Darkness.” In keeping with that theme, they will play Mozart’s Serenata Notturna in D major. Here’s the full program lineup:

Xenakis: Analogique A et B
Mozart: Serenata Notturna in D major
Cornell: New Fantasias
Purcell: Suite from “The Old Bachelor”
Bartók: Divertimento for String Orchestra

The piece by Boston composer Richard Cornell was commissioned by and written for A Far Cry, so I’m very excited to hear it. I believe it is one of the pieces, along with the Xenakis, requiring the sound system the group is bringing in – I got a sneak peek today when I stopped by the venue to open the door!

So get ready to rock out in a classical kind of way, and tell ’em Miss Music Nerd sent you!

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Art Song’s Rich Palette: the [plain] song in Boston

As I sat down to hear members of the {plain] song perform the Spanish Songbook by Hugo Wolf, it occurred to me that someone not already thoroughly steeped in the classical music world might well ask, “Why should I bother going to hear a bunch of songs in a language I don’t speak, written by an Austrian who died over a hundred years ago.” It’s a fair question. What, if anything, is relevant and appealing about this music in 21st-century America?

Well, I have a few possible answers. First of all, you can’t help but admire the talent and artistry of the performers. Classical performance is not just any old hobby; it requires years of study and practice, usually starting in childhood. I think you could appreciate the sheer beauty of the music, even if you didn’t understand a word being sung.

But the best reason, I think, is that art song contains such a rich palette of expression, and hearing it live, you really get to see the performers embody it. The experience is both intimate and expansive, drawing you into an individual’s experience as recounted from the singer’s point of view, while transcending any specific story (who hasn’t been in love and agonized over it, after all?). With its mix of sacred and secular songs, the Spanish Songbook encompasses a full range of human emotion: from grief to joy, contemplation to playfulness, and especially longing, both erotic and spiritual. There is humor, too – in one song, the singer asks her headache to go away.

One quirky detail: the title of the collection is the Spanish Songbook, but it is sung in German, which seems random, but it is simply because the composer knew the poetry as translated into his native language. This is the kind of inside baseball that can make classical music seem intimidating and off-putting, I’m afraid; my friend who was at the concert with me said, “And here in my ignorance, I thought the songs would be in Spanish!” A brief explainer is necessary in such cases.

If you’re in the Boston area, you have two more chances to hear this program, on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Click here for details, and tell them Miss Music Nerd sent you!

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The Art of Song in Boston

the [plain] song is a group of ambitious young musicians whose mission is to share their passion for art song. From their website: “For centuries this intimate genre has synthesized the works of the greatest musical and literary minds in history. the [plain] song believes that the shared cultural heritage represented by the medium of the art song has continuing relevance and importance in today’s world.”

This weekend in Boston, the [plain] song launches their inaugural season with a presentation of Hugo Wolf‘s Spanish Songbook. It’s the first of a series of four concerts showcasing most of the output of one of the greatest art song composers of the 19th century. Performers include singers Ferris Allen, Katherine Growdon, Emily Quane and Jarvis Wyche, with pianists Elizabeth Avery and David Collins.

The program will be performed three times:

Thursday 9.16.2010, 7:30pm
JP Concerts
St. John’s Episcopal Church
1 Roanoke Ave.
Jamaica Plain, MA

Saturday 9.18.2010 4pm
Endicott College
Center For The Arts,
376 Hale St. Beverly, MA

Sunday 9.19.2010 2:00pm
St.Anne’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church
147 Concord Rd.
Lincoln, MA

Free admission, with with a suggested donation of $15. Tell them Miss Music Nerd sent you!

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