Clean Bandit’s Electronic-String Fusion

If you haven’t heard the British fusion band, Clean Bandit, take a moment and listen. Founded in 2009, the band has hit on an interesting blend of string quartet and electronic dance music. The group, which includes violinist Milan Neil Amin-Smith and cellist Grace Chatto, grew out of an undergraduate string quartet at Cambridge University. This article describes how Clean Bandit developed almost by accident-the result of experimentation with pre-recorded string quartet tracks. Dust Clears was released last June: …

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MTT’s Old Gershwin Recording

Once in a while I accidentally run across a great old recording which makes me stop and listen. While I love new releases, these old recordings offer a captivating snapshot of a unique time, place and style of playing. Recently I had this experience with an exciting compilation of George Gershwin works, which a young Michael Tilson Thomas (popularly known in hip circles as “MTT”) released in the mid-1970’s. The recording features …

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Mozart’s Wordless Operas

Listening to Mozart’s symphonies, concertos and chamber music, you might get the sense that you’re hearing wordless operas. Even without a libretto, we can sense distinct characters, musical conversations and dramatic situations unfolding in the music. It’s as if the innovative and prolific composer of The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute couldn’t shut off the flood of opera arias and duets entering his mind. As a musician I have found that approaching …

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Next Stop, Berlin For Noah Bendix-Balgley

Last Friday we learned that Noah Bendix-Balgley, concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony, won an audition for the position of first concertmaster with the Berlin Philharmonic. The news shows just how global the classical music world has become. Over the last decade, English conductor Simon Rattle has brought a fresh new approach to tradition-bound Berlin. When Rattle leaves in 2018, it will be interesting to see how the organization again attempts to balance …

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The Road to Happiness in Music

Violinist Holly Mulcahy has written an interesting and insightful post about finding happiness and keeping perspective while pursing a competitive career in music. Holly is the concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony and the author of the popular blog, Neo Classical. If you’re a young musician enduring the rigors of the audition circuit in the hopes of winning the “big job,” Holly’s post is a must read. Even if you’re not a musician, you’ll find …

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Prokofiev’s Cinderella

I spent the weekend in the orchestra pit. The Richmond Symphony accompanied Richmond Ballet in five performances of Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella. Written between 1940 and 1944, Prokofiev’s lushly romantic and virtuosic score captures perfectly the drama and atmosphere of the famous fairy tale  story. Here is what Prokofiev said about the score: [quote]What I wished to express above all in the music of Cinderella was the poetic love of Cinderella and the Prince, the …

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My Funny Valentine

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, here is Joshua Bell and Broadway singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth performing Rodgers and Hart’s ballad, My Funny Valentine. The song was originally written for the 1937 musical, Babes in Arms. It has become a jazz and pop standard with notable performances by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and others. The melody by Richard Rodgers is unusual for a Broadway ballad. Set in an atmospheric minor key, it conveys a beautiful sense …

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