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Club Free Time Blog

A New Year’s Resolution

Gail Wein
December 27, 2018

This year, I’m making a resolution to hear as much live music as possible. I like to make resolutions that are easy to keep.

New Yorkers can get a jump on 2019 concert-going with Clarion Choir’s performances of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (Vespers) at Church of the Resurrection on East 74th Street. Performances are at 5 pm on both December 31 and January 1, and include ancient Slavonic chants interspersed between Rachmaninoff's settings.

January is a good time to pay tribute to the old and the new. Brooklyn Art Song Society celebrates composer Ned Rorem’s 95th birthday on January 4 at Brooklyn Historical Society. Soprano Sarah Brailey, baritone Steven Eddy, bass-baritone Dashon Burton and others perform the American composer’s tuneful music. Mozart’s Symphony No. 33 and Piano Concerto No. 27 (Javier Perianes, piano) are on Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s January 12 concert at Carnegie Hall, along with a new work by James Matheson.

Met Museum artist-in-residence Julia Bullock embodies the singer, activist and cultural icon Joséphine Baker at the Met Museum’s Great Hall on January 16 and 17. Poet Claudia Rankine and composer/percussionist Tyshawn Sorey created Perle Noire for Bullock. Theater director Peter Sellars staged the work, which will be performed by Bullock, Sorey and the new music collective International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

My Favorite New York Philharmonic Musician, Anthony McGill, is featured soloist with the Philharmonic. He performs Copland’s Clarinet Concerto on January 24, 25 and 26; Jaap van Zweden conducts. Julia Wolfe’s multi-media Fire in My Mouth, co-commissioned by the NY Philharmonic, receives its world premiere on this program. The tale of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, which killed over 100 young immigrant factory workers in New York City, is enhanced by video projections and the chamber choir The Crossing along with the Philharmonic.

Slightly less intense programs this month: The award-winning Argus String Quartet performs 21st century works in the beautiful environs of Wave Hill in Riverdale on January 13, and the young firebrands Stefan Jackiw, violin, and Conrad Tao, piano perform at 92Y on January 25.


Violin key

Gail Wein
November 29, 2018

It’s the time of year when we feel bound to tradition, and many people find that music connects them to fond memories and experiences from years past.

In classical music, there is no greater holiday tradition than Handel’s glorious oratorio, Messiah and there is a full complement of performances all over the city. New York Philharmonic delivers its version on December 11-15 with big-time soloists and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. New York Baroque Incorporated presents its rendition December 4 and 6 at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue. Downtown at St. Paul’s Chapel, The Choir of Trinity Wall Street and Trinity Baroque Orchestra with conductor Julian Wachner perform the great oratorio on December 13, 14, 16 and 17. December 19 brings the Musica Sacra Chorus and Orchestra, Kent Tritle conducting, to Carnegie Hall. And if you can’t help but sing along, The National Chorale invites you to bring your own Messiah score and join in with the choruses on stage for Messiah Sing-In on December 9 at Lincoln Center.

The Guggenheim Museum has made an annual tradition of performances of Prokofiev’s fanciful Peter and the Wolf, this year on December 1, 2, 7, 8, 9. Isaac Mizrahi narrates the classic tale, Ensemble Signal supplies the instrumental music, and a cast performs choreography by John Heginbotham.

The New York String Orchestra, comprised of talented teens cherry-picked from all over the United States under conductor Jaime Laredo, has appeared every December at Carnegie Hall for fifty years. Their program on December 24 includes Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture and Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, with soloist Yefim Bronfman. Joshua Bell is the soloist in Brahms Violin Concerto on December 28.

All six of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos performed by the musicians of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center are another longtime December tradition. Performances are December 14, 16 and 18 at Alice Tully Hall.

And if all this tradition is a bit much for you, you can escape to Venice– virtually, that is – with St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble in a program called Vivaldi’s Venice. December 4 at Merkin Hall, December 5 at The Morgan Library & Museum, and December 7 at Brooklyn Museum.

Enjoy the music, and happy holidays to you!

Armchair Travelogue

notes and flower

Gail Wein
November 06, 2018

One of the greatest aspects of the New York concert scene is that it’s a mecca for accomplished performers from all over the globe. This month we are graced with a number of outstanding visiting artists.

The Hungarian State Opera and Hungarian National Ballet bring their considerable talents to Lincoln Center with performances through November 11. Concurrently, the celebrated Hungarian conductor, Ivan Fischer, leads the New York Philharmonic in works by Schubert and Beethoven, November 7, 8 and 10.
The Hungarians aren’t the only Eastern Europeans to bring their wealth of culture to New York this month.

The Silesian String Quartet from Poland performs works by their landsmen, Lutosławski, Szymanowski and others on November 6 in the intimate hall at The Morgan Library and Museum. Also from Poland, “Voices of the Mountains”, an enormous multi-genre program at Carnegie Hall on November 14. The Polish National Opera (aka Teatr Wielki), along with jazz, folk and other classical musicians perform music by their fellow Poles, including Gorecki, Kilar and Szymanowski. And on November 30, Downtown Voices, an excellent New York City group, brings a program of Estonian choral music to our fair city. Some of the most exquisite sounds ever heard is vocal music from Estonia; I have always found this music to be an ethereal and moving experience.

In addition to the wealth of talent from Eastern Europe: A homegrown performance of Benjamin Britten’s eerie chamber opera “Turn of the Screw” is not to be missed, it’s at Juilliard on November 14, 16 and 18. The Danish String Quartet performs at 92Y on November 17, and if you can get a ticket, you’ll hear why the foursome is in such hot demand.

The Dover Quartet – an exceptional young ensemble - performs at Washington Irving High School on November 10. The recital is on the high-quality low-price Peoples’ Symphony Concerts, and the group has been designated the first Resident Ensemble of the series.

Enjoy the music!

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