Now all of the evidence is finally out – a collection of videos from the final concert in the New England Conservatory’s ambitious season-long series of thematic presentations called Truth to Power. Some absolutely cracking performances by Hugh Wolff and the NEC Philharmonia at Symphony Hall, with Yr Hmbl Srvnt as the video director/producer struggling to catch up.
We produced – and I’ve posted – the videos in reverse order from the actual concert. But now you can see how it began: With this blast of Beethoven. Enjoy!
After the posts of about the fiery Prokofiev concerto performance from Symphony Hall, thought I’d share another side of the remarkable artistry of the young violinist Xiang “Angelo” Yu. Last year we invited him into the Fraser Performance Studio at WGBH, where he not only shared the story of his Mongolian origins with host Cathy Fuller, he also played this breathtakingly beautiful version of the Meditation from Jules Massenet’s opera Thaïs…for solo violin alone.
This was the performance at the Symphony Hall concert by Hugh Wolff and the NEC Philharmonia (which happened to take place on Sergei Prokofiev’s birthday) that got the rock’n’rollers in the control all excited — this no-holds-barred performance by NEC Artist Diploma candidate Xiang “Angelo” Yu of the Violin Concerto No. 1. A piece that Prokofiev wrote around the time of the Russian Revolution (e.g., 1917), but not premiered until several years later in Paris.
The story goes that Prokofiev’s concerto took a while to catch on, particularly because despite the fact that the Paris premiere was led by no less a figure than Serge Koussevitsky, the soloist was not one of the major virtuosi of the day. As the late Michael Steinberg put it in his invariably-excellent program notes:
Marcel Darrieux, Koussevitzky’s Paris concertmaster, was a solid musician and an able violinist, but he lacked the spark to make a convincing case for the piece,
Might’ve been a different story if Angelo had played it!
Check out his thoughtful comments at the start of the piece, too, skillfully brought out by my co-conspirator James David Jacobs….
A very nice 24 hours in Vermont, first having the honor of being the inaugural speaker in the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival’s Perspectives and Contexts series, and then joining morning host (and freshly-minted Managinr Producer) Kari Anderson on the air the next morning at Vermont Public Radio‘s classical service.
The GMCF is run by old friend Kevin Lawrence of the UNC School for the Arts in Winston-Salem, whom I’ve gotten to know through his participation in the “Music and Museum” series I program at the Bechtler Museum in Charlotte. Kevin and his wife Barbara are now steering the Festival – which takes place on the UVM campus in Burlington – through its 10th anniversary season. It’s an intensive program for string students (generally ranging in age from 15 to 25), led by some first-rate faculty who also concertize a couple of times a week.
I didn’t have the chance to hear much music-making (except for the cheerful cacophony of walking past the all the practice rooms), but I was truly impressed by the smart, engaged students attending my talk, who peppered me with questions about classical music, media, and technology, which was the subject of the presentation. Truly a stimulating evening. Very nice to visit in person one of the places we featured on one of our New England Summer Festivals programs as well. You can check it out here.
Up bright and early the next morning to spin some platters with Kari, and talk up some bright young lights in the classical biz. In no particular order: Anderson & Roe (I’m already on record as being a big fan) with their own arrangement of Bizet’s Il Pergolese (“where jazz meets opera”), the stunning Montreal period-instrument band Ensemble Caprice, with one of the zippiest recordings I know of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos. As well as a new discovery: the Atlanta-based choral group called the Skylark Vocal Ensemble.
Meanwhile, there are some changes in the wind in classical radio in Vermont, as WVCT, the state’s sole remaining commercial-classical station (an increasingly endangered species), is due to format-flip on July 1.
VPR Classical host Kari Anderson behind the mic
Where else but in Vermont do you find a vegetable garden outside HQ?
The ever-interesting violinist, blogger, and musical entrepreneur Lara St. John on Wagner and Madison Avenue’s idea of what constitutes “classical” music. Okay, I admit I ranted to her about it, but i’m grateful to her for the research and the writing. C’mon Rick Rubin, you can do better than that! Rage Against the Machine