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We Can Bring Peace, Afghanistan’s First All-Female Orchestra Tells Taliban

Says Negin Khpelwak, the 22-year-old leader of the Zohra Orchestra, “We can bring freedom, peace and honor to Afghanistan. Women can’t go back to the dark days — they can break our instruments, they can ban the music, but they never take it from our hearts.” – Bloomberg
Tags: MUSIC, 04.18.19, Sjm


Berkeley Symphony’s New Music Director Is A Conductor They Met By Chance Three Months Ago

Joseph Young, a former assistant conductor at the Atlanta Symphony and currently Director of Ensembles at the Peabody Institute, was called in as a last-minute substitute for a Berkeley Symphony program at the end of January, and the chemistry was — well, we know that story. Young will now replace Joana Carneiro in a post that was held for decades by Kent Nagano. – San Francisco Chronicle
Tags: Art, Music, Young, SJM, Joseph Young, Peabody Institute, Joana Carneiro, Berkeley Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, 04.17.19


The Singularity Is Complete: Tyshawn Sorey Glues Together Jazz And Classical (And Whatever Else Appeals To Him)

Sorey’s work eludes the pinging radar of genre and style. Is it jazz? New classical music? Composition? Improvisation? Tonal? Atonal? Minimal? Maximal? Each term captures a part of what Sorey does, but far from all of it. At the same time, he is not one of those crossover artists who indiscriminately mash genres together. – The New Yorker
Tags: Art, Music, SJM, Sorey, 04.15.19, Tyshawn Sorey Glues


Baritone Lucia Lucas Becomes First Transgender Woman To Sing Lead Opera Role In U.S.

Lucas, who is based in Germany and has her career largely in Europe, began rehearsals this week for the title role in Don Giovanni at Tulsa Opera. And this is not her first time playing Mozart’s antihero. – Tulsa World
Tags: Art, Europe, Music, Germany, Lucas, Mozart, Don Giovanni, SJM, Tulsa Opera, 04.09.19, Lucia Lucas


The Number Of Music Teachers In Scottish Schools Has Fallen 40 Percent In Seven Years. Here’s Why

The reason? Funding, of course. And more and more schools are charging for lessons, and now, even for instruments. This has decimated the number of students who sign up. It’s a vicious circle. – The Scotsman
Tags: Art, Music, SJM


After 40 Eventful Years, Gay Men’s Chorus Of Los Angeles Tries To Fight Off Bankruptcy

“Fiscal mismanagement, as well as recent sexual misconduct allegations leveled at former board chairman and former West Hollywood Mayor John Duran (accusations that Duran denies), have left the chorus on life support … The chorus has reduced its paid staff, dramatically cut production costs and promised to settle debts to vendors as quickly as possible, but the misconduct allegations have presented other challenges.” – Los Angeles Times
Tags: Art, Music, Los Angeles, West Hollywood, SJM, Duran, John Duran, 04.04.19


Who, Us? Of Course We’re All Black, Hungarian ‘Porgy And Bess’ Cast Members Tell Gershwin Estate

“The Hungarian State Opera has asked the nearly all-white cast … to sign a statement declaring that ‘African-American origin and identity is an inseparable part of my identity’ and made being in Porgy and Bess ‘a special joy.'” – Yahoo! (AP)
Tags: Art, Music, SJM, Bess, Hungarian State Opera, Porgy, 04.09.19, Gershwin Estate


Washington National Opera Commissions New Work About Black Teen Shot By White Police Officer

“With a libretto by Tazewell Thompson and music by Jeanine Tesori, Blue complicates the narrative by making the teen’s father — played by local bass Kenneth Kellogg — a police officer himself. ‘Police are placed in incredibly difficult situations,’ says [WNO artistic director Francesca] Zambello, ‘and we try to present both sides of the story rather than just saying, ‘Okay, police violence is bad.”” – Washingtonian Magazine
Tags: Art, Uncategorized, SJM, Kenneth Kellogg, Tazewell Thompson, 04.03.19, Washington National Opera Commissions New Work, Jeanine Tesori Blue, Francesca -RSB- Zambello


Canadian Indigenous Music Awards Show Disrupted Over Charges Of Cultural Appropriation

Several Inuit singers quit the awards, accusing a Cree singer of appropriating Inuit culture. “Respect for different traditions shouldn’t be impediment to cultural exchanges. That’s how cultures stay vibrant. But there’s a huge difference between sharing and stealing.” – The Guardian
Tags: Art, Music, SJM


To Increase Access, English National Opera To Reduce Lowest Ticket Prices And Introduce Early Start Times And Relaxed Performances

The London company has held its highest ticket price at £125 and cut its lowest to £10 and is expanding its free-balcony-seats-for-under-18s from Saturdays to Fridays and opening nights. In addition, the company will offer its first-ever relaxed performance (with accommodation for learning-disabled and autistic attendees), and at least one performance in each run of an opera will end by 10 pm. – The Stage
Tags: Art, Music, London, Audience, SJM, 04.03.19


Philadelphia Orchestra Hires Two Women Conductors

“Erina Yashima has been appointed the orchestra’s assistant conductor, and Lina Gonzalez-Granados conducting fellow. Both are 32 years old, both trained as pianists as well as conductors, and both take up their posts in September with concert dates yet to be announced.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer
Tags: Art, Music, SJM, 04.03.19, Erina Yashima, Lina Gonzalez Granados, Philadelphia Orchestra Hires Two Women Conductors


Philadelphia Orchestra Hires Two Female Conductors

“Erina Yashima has been appointed the orchestra’s assistant conductor, and Lina Gonzalez-Granados conducting fellow. Both are 32 years old, both trained as pianists as well as conductors, and both take up their posts in September with concert dates yet to be announced.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer
Tags: Art, Music, SJM, 04.03.19, Philadelphia Orchestra Hires Two Female Conductors, Erina Yashima, Lina Gonzalez Granados


In Minnesota, The First-Ever Opera About The Hmong

For its young people’s training program, Minnesota Opera has commissioned an adaptation of Hmong-American author Kao Kalia Yang’s The Song Poet. Hmong-American playwright/performer composer Nkeiru Okoye will write the libretto, composer Nkeiru Okoye the score; Rick Shiomi, co-founder of the Twin Cities company Theater Mu will direct the production, planned for 2021. – The Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Tags: Art, Music, Minnesota, Star Tribune, SJM, Nkeiru Okoye, 04.02.19, Kao Kalia Yang, Rick Shiomi


A Generation Of Women Conductors Is Finally Breaking Glass Ceilings

In England, the US, and elsewhere, a big group of orchestras and opera houses is looking for music directors or chief conductors — and, for the first time, there’s a sizable group of female candidates being seriously considered, “not least, “writes Norman Lebrecht, “because the talent pool has finally exploded with candidates of outstanding communicative power.” – Standpoint
Tags: Art, Music, England, US, SJM, Norman Lebrecht, April 2019


Hawai’i’s Last Monarch Was Also Its Most Important Composer

Queen Lili’uokalani steered her people through the difficult period of annexation and prevented a war — and she was also a highly trained musician who wrote some 200 songs (the most famous of them being “Aloha ‘Oe”) that became the foundation of modern Hawaiian music and a bulwark against the onslaught of mainland American culture. – Smithsonian Magazine
Tags: Art, Music, Hawai'i, SJM, Aloha Oe, 03.26.19, Lili uokalani


Bournemouth Symphony Started An Orchestra For Disabled People. A Year Later, Here’s What They’ve Learned

One of the aims of the ensemble is to show young disabled people that they can pursue a career in music. As percussion player Philip Howells said: “Don’t lost sight of who you want to be to begin with. When people say that you should be a butcher or a gymnast, just think to yourself ‘what do I want to be deep down?’, that’s my moral.” – ClassicFM
Tags: Art, Music, SJM, 03.26.19, Bournemouth Symphony Started An Orchestra, Philip Howells


The Recovery Orchestra – Service Organization For Recovering Addicts Starts Ensemble For Its Clients

“The Recovery Orchestra was set up by Bristol Drugs Project (BDP) to help individuals using their services. It encourages people to take up an instrument or use the skills they already had in a joint musical activity. The group, funded by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, will perform at a Bristol church this week.” (video) – BBC
Tags: Art, Music, Bristol, SJM, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, 03.28.19, Recovery Orchestra, Bristol Drugs Project BDP


Conductor Thomas Wilkins Works To Get Composers Of Color Into Boston Symphony’s Repertoire (And Into The Canon)

Wilkins, the BSO’s conductor for young people’s and family concerts, makes his subscription-season debut this weekend with a program of music by Florence Price, Adolphus Hailstork, Roberto Sierra, and Duke Ellington. Wilkins is aware of the charge of tokenism: “The easy observation would be to say that this is just a night of box-checking so that we can move on. In reality, it is not. It is, in fact, a launch. … And you know what? You gotta start somewhere.” – The Boston Globe
Tags: MUSIC, 03.21.19, Sjm


New Opera Gives Voice To The Forgotten Women Murdered By Jack The Ripper

“Annie Chapman, Catherine Eddowes, Mary Kelly, Polly Nichols and Liz Stride – odds are that these names won’t ring a bell. But Jack the Ripper will. The most notorious killer in this country’s history has had no name for 130 years, but remains more famous than all of his victims. Composer Iain Bell wants to change this. New ENO opera Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel turns the focus towards the women of the story.” – London Evening Standard
Tags: Art, London, Uncategorized, Jack, SJM, Jack the Ripper, Iain Bell, 03.19.19, Liz Stride


Making Music Programs Accessible To People On The Autism Spectrum: Q&A

Following up on her open letter to fellow musicians and her point-by-point guide to accessibility, autistic violinist Chrysanthe Tan selects a dozen reader questions and offers answers. – NewMusicBox
Tags: Art, Uncategorized, SJM, Chrysanthe Tan, 03.19.19


Yo Yo Ma And Deborah Borda: Music As A Force For Social Justice

Ma: “It’s never art for art’s sake, because even if I do it for myself in my head, I have an ideal. I’m actually trying to take something — a construct, a concept, a theory — and then I want to make it visible, I want to make it audible, I want to make it tactile. I want to make it felt.” Borda spoke of the New York Philharmonic’s efforts to engage with social issues, including gender equality. Recognizing that “all the music we play was written by men,” the organization is launching an initiat...
Tags: Art, Music, Audience, Ma, Yo Yo Ma, New York Philharmonic, SJM, Deborah Borda, Borda, 03.15.19


Afghanistan’s First All-Women Orchestra Is Now Touring Abroad

The ensemble Zohra, named for the ancient Persian goddess of music, was created five years ago for the female students at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, itself founded only in 2008. “The music performed is a combination of traditional Afghan music and western classical. For instance, their new arrangement of ‘Greensleeves'” — made for its tour of England — “contains attractive new instrumentation probably not envisaged by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1934.” – BBC
Tags: Art, Music, England, Afghanistan, SJM, Afghanistan National Institute of Music, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Zohra, 03.15.19


Graham Vick’s Opera Company, Always A Community Affair, Has Brought Refugees Into Its Chorus

“Birmingham Opera Company has traditionally cast its chorus from local volunteers. Now it’s extending a welcome to people fleeing countries such as Sudan. In the past decade, the company has seen 90,000 people take part in its productions.” (video) – BBC
Tags: Art, Music, Sudan, SJM, Graham Vick, Birmingham Opera Company, 03.13.19, Opera Company Always A Community


A Point-By-Point Guide To Making Concerts More Accessible To People On The Autism Spectrum

Chrysanthe Tan, the autistic violinist who wrote last week’s open letter to other musicians: “Today, I present you with … an organized, actionable reference guide to help you enact a permanent framework for autistic accessibility in your musical efforts. These tips aren’t just for organizations and presenters; they are also for musicians, students, teachers, and other music-adjacent allies. If you are not autistic, consider this required coursework.” – NewMusicBox
Tags: Art, Uncategorized, SJM, 03.11.19, Chrysanthe Tan


Toronto Symphony Offers Its First Concert Geared For Neurodiverse Audiences

The TSO is calling this and future concerts of this type “Relaxed Performances,” the term already in use for similar events in the UK. With specially designed changes to the concert format, accompanying materials, and the concert hall, “Relaxed Performances are designed specifically for people living with autism spectrum disorders, sensory and communication disorders, learning disabilities, or anyone who wants a more casual concert experience.” – Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Tags: Art, UK, Uncategorized, Toronto, SJM, 03.11.19


The Choirs With No Name (There Are Four Of Them)

Each of them — in London, Liverpool, Birmingham, and Brighton — really is called The Choir With No Name, and they’re all for people who have struggled with homelessness, addiction, and/or mental illness. Melanie Webb checks in with the London group as they prepare for a March 13 performance. – Bachtrack
Tags: Art, Music, London, Brighton, SJM, London Liverpool Birmingham, 03.11.19, Melanie Webb


Who Gets To Be Called A Conductor?

“Every identity comes with inherent biases, assumptions, and privileges to varying degrees. A helpful exercise is to take an identity and think of the immediate mental image that comes to mind when you invoke it. Let’s take ‘conductor.’ … You probably wouldn’t initially think of someone like Lidiya Yankovskaya, the only female music director of a multi-million dollar opera company in the United States. Or of someone like Francisco J. Núñez, founder and director of one of the world’s most accomp...
Tags: Art, Uncategorized, United States, SJM, Lidiya Yankovskaya, 02.25.19, Francisco J Núñez


The Benefits Of Young Musicians And Seniors Playing Alongside Each Other

“Intergenerational orchestras boast a unique dynamic: an eight-year old might share a music stand with an octogenarian. These avocational ensembles also foster improved self-confidence, mental sharpness and physical fitness, and wide community participation in orchestral music.” – Symphony Magazine
Tags: Art, Uncategorized, SJM, Winter 2019


An Autistic Musician Writes An Open Letter To Her Colleagues

“Allow me to introduce myself: I’m Chrysanthe Tan, a real-life, autistic violinist, composer, and recording artist, and in my near-decade of working in many music spheres, I’ve noticed an unacceptable, overwhelming status quo of autistic inaccessibility. … We are enthusiastic audience members, patrons, and guests. And so it’s time you adapted a permanent framework for improving autistic accessibility in your concerts, rehearsals, and other music organization efforts.” – NewMusicBox
Tags: Art, Uncategorized, SJM, 03.04.19


Bracing And Incendiary Questions About The Classical Music World’s New Interest In Florence Price

“Given the longstanding historical exclusion of African American composers, Price’s sudden rise to stardom might raise a few eyebrows. Is the sudden widespread interest in Price’s music a convenient fad? Are predominantly white institutions exploiting her legacy for short-term gain—what Nancy Leong ?” – NewMusicBox
Tags: Art, Uncategorized, SJM, Nancy Leong, Florence Price



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