A CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL BROFMAN, FOUNDER AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF THE BROOKLYN ART SONG SOCIETY

Rick Perdian spoke with Michael Brofman, founder and artistic director of the Brooklyn Art Song Society, about the impact of the pandemic on the organization and its plans for the future

Michael Brofman © Meg Goldberg

In the midst of its tenth anniversary season, the Brooklyn Art Song Society (BASS) had to cancel everything when New York became the global epicenter of the novel coronavirus in March. For its 2020-21 season, BASS is going digital and will celebrate the legacy of Franz Schubert, the first and arguably the greatest composer of German Lieder, with five programs of more than 100 of his songs. In addition, BASS will launch the New Voices Festival, which seeks to reimagine the art song for the twenty-first century.

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We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm

CBSO perform Mahler’s ‘Symphony of a Thousand’ (c) Andrew Fox

On 4 March 2020 I went to Symphony Hall, Birmingham to hear the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the CBSO Chorus give a fine performance of Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem conducted by the orchestra’s charismatic Osborn Music Director, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla (review). Though the Coronavirus alarm bells were ringing ever more loudly by that point, little did I imagine that this would be the last time that I would be able to hear the CBSO during their 2019/20 season. I had plans to review several more of their concerts, most notably their planned performance of Britten’s War Requiem on 20 June. Not long after that Brahms concert, though, the UK was put into lockdown and the orchestra was obliged to cancel future concerts on an incremental basis, including a 12-concert tour of Germany and Austria. Eventually, on 30 April, they bowed to the inevitable and cancelled the remainder of the season.

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ACCOMPANIST OR PARTNER? PIANIST SUSIE ALLAN IN CONVERSATION WITH JOHN QUINN

Susie Allan talks to John Quinn

Susie Allan (c) Bill Wyatt

A little while ago I read two online reviews of the same Lieder recital. The singer and pianist involved were both highly distinguished musicians in their own right and, in addition, have worked together in recital quite frequently in the past. Both reviews were written by experienced and knowledgeable reviewers but there was a significant difference between them. One, admittedly the longer of the two, commentated on both the singer and the pianist in almost equal measure. The other addressed the work and the performance of the singer but the contribution of the pianist was covered in a final short paragraph which consisted of just two sentences.

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APOLLO FIRE’S JEANNETTE SORRELL DISCUSSES O JERUSALEM!

Jeannette Sorrell of Apollo’s Fire talks with Mark Sebastian Jordan about ‘O Jerusalem!’

Jeannette Sorrell addresses an audience

In its first quarter century, Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland baroque orchestra, has made creative programming a cornerstone — a key part of engaging and building a dedicated public throughout northeast Ohio and beyond. In 2018, the ensemble unveiled a program entitled O Jerusalem! Crossroads of Three Faiths, which I reviewed in concert at that time. Now the group is bringing the program back for a second look and taking it on tour to New York City and Chicago. I spoke with harpsichordist and conductor Jeannette Sorrell as she was returning to her hotel from a rehearsal for the group’s current tour.

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PIANIST JONATHAN BISS IN CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHER SALLON

Jonathan Biss and His Promethean struggle with Beethoven

Jonathan Biss (c) Benjamin Ealovega

 

The 250th anniversary of the birth of the irrepressible Ludwig van Beethoven late last year has unleashed ceaseless commemorative celebrations across the world’s concert halls and classical radio stations. It has also triggered a plethora of new recordings by some of the world’s greatest artists, not least the last of a nine-volume set of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas by the renowned Philadelphia-based pianist, teacher, musical thinker and writer, Jonathan Biss. He has dedicated many of his 39 years to interrogating the sonatas and has embarked on a punishing worldwide programme of Beethoven concerts and talks, including a series of seven recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall.

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YAN PASCAL TORTELIER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE

Conductor Yan Pascal Tortelier talks to Gregor Tassie

Yan Pascal Tortelier is a French musician who can reflect on a tradition going back to the nineteenth century. He began playing the violin when he was four and studied at the Paris Conservatoire winning the First Prize in Violin at the age of fourteen. Following many years as a solo and concert violinist, and as a member of his father’s Piano Trio, Yan studied conducting with Franco Ferrara at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Sienna. He was principal conductor of the Ulster Orchestra from 1989 to 1992, and the BBC Philharmonic from 1992 to 2003, of which he is Conductor Emeritus, additionally he has been principal conductor of the São Paolo Symphony Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, since 2011 he has been principal conductor of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra.

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A Q&A WITH SARDINIAN TENOR PIERO PRETTI

Late in 2019 Sardinian tenor Piero Pretti impressed many with his Met debut as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Bachtrack said ‘He has a fine lyric Italianate sound with plenty of squillo and dead centre pitch. He strikes one as a very musical singer; he clearly knew the arc of his phrases and the entire role. Pinkerton is a hard part in which to impress and it will be interesting to hear him as other, more sympathetic leads.’

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