Friday Afternoon Miscellany

  • through November 30, listen to the Minnesota Opera’s production of Paul Moravec‘s latest opera, The Shining, here.
  • Hear the U. S. premiere of Richard Wernick‘s … and a time for peace, with Katherine Kracht, mezzo-soprano, and the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leon Botstein on November 18 at Carnegie Hall.
  • The NY Times is planning to cut its writing on the arts, according to a deadline.com piece linked to by ArtsJournal. This is terrible news for classical music in general and new music in particular. The latter will be especially hard hit by the paper’s apparent preference to avoid covering one-night alone performances. The point of music criticism is not so much to provide information about date night options, but to contribute to a conversation around the art and the artists. Perhaps sites like this can help, but even such sites tend to cover the big institutions, which are not always where the greatest – or at least not the only – musical interest may be found.

Piston’s Harmonies

For certain generations of musicians, the words “Piston Harmony” were synonymous with the study of tonal harmony because composer Walter Piston‘s textbook dominated the field. That’s no longer the case, and I should not be surprised when grad students don’t even recognize the composer’s name, either for the textbook, or for his role as one of the more important American composers of the mid-20th century. Leon Botstein and the American Symphony Orchestra will address the neglect of Piston’s music with an all-Piston concert at Carnegie on March 29. There will be two symphonies, the 2nd and 4th, and two concerted works, with superb soloists: Miranda Cuckson will play the Violin Concerto #1 and Blair McMillen plays the Concertino for piano and chamber orchestra. Do check out the “Dialogues and Extensions” on the concert page linked above – there are worthwhile essays on Piston by Maestro Botstein and Carol Oja. Many more essays related to ASO concerts here. A Mark DeVoto talk on Piston here.