Sunday, August 28, 2016
First Graham Parker quit as general manager of New York’s WQXR to head Universal’s classical labels in the US. Now Steve Robinson has quit Chicago’s outstanding WFMT after 16 years. Here’s the official version: photo: Todd Rosenberg, at Andrew Patner’s memorial CHICAGO – August 8, 2016 – WFMT, Chicago’s classical and fine arts radio station, today announced that Executive Vice President and General Manager STEVE ROBINSON will depart from WFMT, effective October 1, 2016. His last day at the station will be Friday, September 30. “It is with great regret that we bid farewell to an indispensable member of our WFMT family,” said President and CEO Dan Schmidt of WFMT and WTTW. “It is difficult to imagine the station without his unflagging energy, endless creativity, and deep knowledge of classical music and radio operations. He will be greatly missed, and I know I speak for all of us when I wish him success in his future endeavors.” “Working at WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network has been the greatest privilege and challenge of my career,” said Robinson. “When people ask, ‘Oh, you run WFMT?’ I always say, ‘No, I run after it.’ And that’s because everyone at WFMT is immensely creative, knowledgeable, and passionate about their work, and all I’ve really done is try to harness this incredible talent to move the station forward. If it has progressed at all in the 16 years I’ve been there, it’s because of them, and I will always be grateful.” Steve has led WFMT and the WFMT Radio Network since 2000. Under his leadership, WFMT diversified its programming and increased its member base, and the Network became a leading producer and syndicator of music and spoken word programs. In 2002, Steve brought to the WFMT Radio Network a live broadcast of Princess Magogo, the first indigenous South African opera and the first with a libretto in the Zulu language. Steve hosted, and the opera was heard by more than four million listeners throughout the U.S. and Europe. Steve created Exploring Music with Bill McGlaughlin in 2003, a daily series heard by more than 400,000 listeners a week, and he also instituted a comprehensive subscription website. Other popular WFMT series and programs created during Steve’s tenure include include Impromptu, a daytime showcase for local and visiting artists; Introductions, a unique weekly series that features promising young pre-college musician; and the Studs Terkel Radio Archive, which was launched in 2015 in partnership with Chicago History Museum. Last year, at Steve’s direction, the Network began exporting classical music radio concerts by American ensembles for broadcast in China and importing Chinese music performances for broadcast in the West, marking the first time a cultural exchange of this kind had happened between America and China. In 2007, the Chicago Tribune named Steve a “Chicagoan of the Year” in the arts. His many other honors include two Peter Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism; the ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award; two Westbury Awards from the Red Cross of Greater Chicago for coordinating fundraising efforts among the city’s television and radio stations in the wake of the 2004 tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake; an Award of Excellence from the Chicago Sinfonietta; a special award from the Illinois Philharmonic; the first Champion Award from the Merit School of Music; and, with Bill McGlaughlin, Dushkin Award from the Music Institute of Chicago– previous winners have included Sir George Solti, Daniel Barenboim, Placido Domingo, Yo Yo Ma, Midori, Leon Fleischer, Sir Andrew Davis, and Mstislav Rostropovich. Steve currently serves on the boards of Cedille Records, the Merit School of Music, the Chicago College of Performing Arts and the Rush Hour Concerts. His past board service includes the Grant Park Orchestra, Chicago Children’s Choir, the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and Music in the Loft. Previously, Steve worked at WBUR, WGBH, WCRB, KPFA, WVPR, WBGO, and Nebraska Public Radio.
The Bulgarian soprano missed the Munich Festival’s La Traviata last month. Now she has pulled out of Salzburg’s concert performance of Massenet’s Thais next Tuesday, opposite Placido Domingo. She is replaced by Marina Rebeka.
The soprano Angel Blue has a busy international career and a promising future. But she was almost stopped in her tracks by two rejection slips from Juilliard. What kept her going was the support of the music department at UCLA and the chance to sing for Placido Domingo, who chose her for Operalia. ‘I was thankful for the opportunity to sing for (Domingo),’ Blue tells her alumnus magazine . ‘It was a sign from God for me, as ‘This is what you’re supposed to be doing.’’ photo: Sonya Garza Read full interview here.
Sunday 24, 5 pm: the "Barenboim Festival of Music and Reflexion" starts its third edition at the Colón, and again becomes the highest point of the season, for it will also have the presence of Martha Argerich and for the first time, of tenor Jonas Kaufmann. In fact it is essentially music; reflexion will take place when Barenboim will dialogue for the third year with Felipe González, this time about "The Conflict of the Middle East, a global crisis?" (July 31, 8 pm). And of course, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO) will be at the center of the activity. The hand programme gives details of the whole programme, biographies and comments by Barenboim and Pablo Gianera. Some of Barenboim´s programming decisions are controversial, as they were in preceding Festivals, but I have no doubt that the final result will leave lasting memories. It´s worth recalling that the WEDO was founded by Barenboim and Edward Said in 1999 as a workshop for youthful musicians from Israel, Palestine and other Arabic countries, first at Weimar, then at Chicago, and finally at Seville (2003) under the sponsorship of the Junta de Andalucía. Then and now the purpose is to further understanding and intercultural dialogue between people that come from countries that are often at war. An orchestra unites them at least for a while. Currently there are also some Spanish musicians, and religions are mixed: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Protestants and orthodox. And the workshop also includes lectures and debates. The denomination of the WEDO is a reference to Goethe´s homonymous poems; they are his own, but he tried in them to develop the concept of global culture. Mind you, this orchestra doesn´t exist year-long: each Summer a new group is formed, although some come from earlier seasons, and under Barenboim they prepare programmes that will be played in different tours, although since 2014 they include Buenos Aires. I admire the project in itself, even if Barenboim knows that politically things haven´t changed. But now I have to mention a touchy issue: the WEDO doesn´t list its personnel, as other orchestras do; I was told last year that this was for security reasons, but the members of the Al-Diwan Ensemble who play Arabic music ARE listed, and other two are identified in the Mozarteum concerts. What, some are protected and others aren´t? There´s another question: the concerts are abysmally expensive here but not in Seville. The stalls at the Colón rows 1 to 14: $ 3.635. At Seville´s Teatro de la Maestranza: 45 E = $ 739. True, now we have streaming and the same programme I´m reviewing can be seen on Tuesday 26, 8 pm, for free; but to hear it live is very different. If you go to any of them, do read the curricula and particularly the detailed one about Barenboim: I believe that no other artist in the world has such a fantastic trajectory except Plácido Domingo. To be brief: main conducting posts in Paris, Chicago, Bayreuth Festival, Milan´s Scala and Berlin, plus a dazzling career as a pianist since he was eight. And at 73 he has lost none of his incredible stamina and quality. Now to the Mozart dream programme. Of course music lovers have those last three symphonies in CDs and probably have heard all three in the same evening (I did so) but to hear them in wonderful acoustics by a great conductor and his orchestra was the sort of deep artistic pleasure that seldom comes around. For although all three are quite different, they are masterpieces and they were created in the same period: Nº 39, in E flat, K.543; Nº 40, in G minor, K.550; and Nº 41, "Jupiter", in C, K.551. They were written in the space of six weeks, from late June to August 10, 1788, at a time of dire pecuniary need, and they were never played during his life! And yet (I know it´s idle speculation), had he lived to be 55, the history of the symphony would have changed profoundly, for these symphonies look forward in harmony, rhythm and dramatic impact. A Mozart writing in 1798 would have left deep marks on Beethoven. Barenboim isn´t a historicist, and the WEDO was bigger than orchestras in Mozart´s time. But all the marks of great interpretation were there: the unerring sense of form, the careful contrast of dynamics, the exact though expressive phrasing. And the WEDO is not only technically very good: the players are intense and unanimous; they vividly enjoy the music. Nº 39 is the least played of the three, perhaps because it innovates less; but it is throughout gorgeous music. Nº 40´s first movement is urgent, dramatic and famous; and the Finale has a sweeping forwardness that was ideally expressed by the artists. As to the "Jupiter", the amazing contrapuntal "tour de force" of the Finale has no paragon in Mozart and reveals that his Bach studies changed his style whilst losing nothing of his vision of the future. If I have to nitpìck, I prefer the Minuets slighly slower: they are marked Allegretto, not Allegro. And just before the coda of the "Jupiter" Finale, for once Barenboim did a big "rallentando"; it isn´t specified and I feel it inhibits the continuity. A small but important detail: the podium lacked a step and Barenboim almost fell at the start of the concert; after the interval it was fixed.For Buenos Aires Herald
The German soprano has tweeted herself out of Traviata next week at Orange, in a cast that includes Placido Domingo and Francesco Meli. @DianaDamrau Unfortunately Diana had to withdraw from the performances of “La Traviata” at Chorégies d’Orange on August 3 & 6 due to illness. Her likely replacement is Ermonela Jaho. Damrau as Violetta. photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera
Jeff Gwaltney is an operatic tenor who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. A Domingo protégé at Washington National Opera, he gets roles all over the US and frequently in the UK. At 33 people ask him: is this a living? Read on here. h/t: SexiSoprano.
Great opera singers