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January: Focus! Goes Latin, Berlin does Bruckner and More


Gail Wein
December 28, 2016



In the dark and chilly days of January, there are some festivals to liven us up.

What better way than to start out with six free concerts? Juilliard's Focus! 2017 presents "Our Southern Neighbors: The Music of Latin America," with programs January 20 - 27. The New Juilliard Ensemble, Julliard Orchestra, chamber ensembles and soloists perform 20th and 21st century works by a compendium of composers from Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina Brazil and more. Most of the concerts are at Juilliard, the final one is at Alice Tully Hall. Free admission, tickets are required, available at Julliard's box office, website and at the door.

Staatskapelle Berlin comes to Carnegie Hall for an extended run January 19 - 29. Each of the nine concerts features a Bruckner Symphony and a concerto by Mozart. Daniel Barenboim conducts and is piano soloist in the Mozart concerti. This is a Big Deal. Tickets via Carnegie's box office and website.

Bundle up and trundle down to the Brooklyn waterfront for stunning views of Manhattan from a barge-turned-concert hall at the Bargemusic Here and Now Winter Festival, January 4, 5 and 6. The program features world premieres of works by some of New York's most beloved living composers, including David Del Tredici, David Leisner and Harold Meltzer. Good to know: the venue is indoors and is comfortably heated. Tickets at Bargemusic's website.

The Prototype Festival - a whirlwind of provocative opera and music-theatre - runs January 5 - 15. Six productions include the New York premieres of David Lang's Anatomy Theater and Missy Mazzoli's Breaking The Waves. Venues include HERE, BRIC and FIAF. Tickets available through Prototype's website.

Also running this month is New York City Opera's Candide by Leonard Bernstein. I thoroughly enjoyed NYCO's 2008 production, and I'm glad to know they have revived this fanciful work. Harold Prince directs. Performances on selected dates January 6 - 15 at Jazz at Lincoln Center; tickets at Jazz at Lincoln Center's box office and website.


'Tis always the season for live music.


Gail Wein
December 06, 2016

Some outstanding early music artists are in town in December: The Tallis Scholars perform A Renaissance Christmas program at Church of St. Mary the Virgin on December 10 (presented by Miller Theatre, tickets via Miller's website), the Waverly Consort weaves medieval traditions into The Christmas Story at the Cloisters on December 10 and 11 (tickets available via Met Museum website), and there are Byzantine Pop-Up concerts at the Met Museum's Medieval Sculpture Hall on December 9 and 16 (free with museum admission).

Messiah by Georg Friedrich Handel is also early music (he was born in 1685, the same year as Bach). You can hardly toss a candy cane and not hit an outstanding performance of this holiday favorite. Naming just a few of the notable presentations of this masterpiece in New York: The New York Philharmonic led by Alan Gilbert with the Concert Chorale of New York at David Geffen Hall on December 13-17; the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra perform at Trinity Church (Wall Street) on December 15 and 18, and at Alice Tully Hall on December 19 (tickets via Trinity Wall Street's website); and Kent Tritle conducts back-to-back performances of Messiah at Carnegie Hall: the Oratorio Society of New York on December 21 and Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra on December 22.

Speaking of holiday traditions, the Guggenheim museum gives its annual, colorful presentation of Prokofiev's beloved Peter and the Wolf. Ensemble Signal performs this classic for children narrated by Isaac Mizrahi on December 3, 4, 9, 10, 11.

For a festive alternative, check out Unsilent Night on December 18 (free). The music is by Phil Kline, and the event is equal parts procession and interactive concert. The audience gathers at Washington Square Park, and with boomboxes in hand (bring your own or borrow one from the composer), and then strolls across town, carrying the music to Tompkins Square Park. Information, instructions and downloadable audio is at Unsilent Night's website.


Noteworthy November


Gail Wein
October 28, 2016


The month of November starts out in a big way with an 80th birthday bash for the American composer Steve Reich on November 1 at Carnegie Hall. The program features Three Tales, a video opera Reich created with his video artist-wife, Beryl Korot, and the world premiere of Pulse.

Carnegie also plays host to a couple of great bands this month: Berlin Philharmonic led by Simon Rattle (November 9 and 10) and the Philadelphia Orchestra with its music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the violin soloist Benjamin Beilman, and the Westminster Symphonic Choir on November 15.

Lincoln Center's annual White Light Festival continues through mid-November. Highlights include the Mark Morris Dance Group on October 29 and November 3 and 5, and pianist Jeremy Denk performing his "Medieval to Modern" program on November 16.

The East Coast Chamber Orchestra (ECCO) brings its youthful exuberance to the fabulous and free Music Monday series at Advent Lutheran Church, Broadway at 93rd Street on November 14. Have you ever heard a flute and marimba duet? You can quell your curiosity on November 16 and 17 when Lawler + Fadoul (flutist Zadie Lawler and marimbist Paul Fadoul) perform at The Cell on West 23rd Street.

Thanksgiving week is typically a quiet time, but the New York Philharmonic helps fill the void after you've filled your tummy. Iván Fischer conducts Beethoven's Violin Concerto with soloist Nikolaj Znaider and Dvorak's Symphony No. 8. Performances are on November 23, 25 (matinee and evening) and 26. The Philharmonic has some other great programs this month, including an east-meets-west program featuring the sitar player Anoushka Shankar performing her father Ravi's concerto (November 3, 4, 5) and the highly touted young pianist Danil Trivonov performing Mozart on November 9-12.


Complimentary Tickets

to shows, concerts ... (CFT Deals!)

Classical Music | Life and music of a Russian Romantic composer

Regular: $30; Member: $0.00

Classical Music | Art songs by

Regular: $25; Member: $0.00

Classical Music | Piano works by Schumann, Beethoven and more

Regular: $25; Member: $0.00

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