Archive | August, 2014

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Clementine

The eclectic, Portland-based musical group, Pink Martini is the furthest you can get from the homogeneous mediocrity of slickly marketed corporate pop music. Founded in 1994, and dubbed the “little orchestra”, it’s a group where music takes precedence over category. According to their website, Pink Martini blends “genres of classical, jazz and old-fashioned pop.” I remember performing with them […]

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Are We Forgetting How to Listen?

The world is becoming increasingly saturated with information, but arguably less thoughtful. That was the topic of a recent opinion piece in the New York Times. In Hit the Reset Button in Your Brain, Daniel J. Levitin writes about the increasing amount of information our brains are trying to process through e mails, tweets, Facebook and other technology. All […]

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Howard Hanson and the Sounds of the Wide Open Prairie

More than any other composer, Aaron Copland is credited with establishing the virtual soundtrack of the American West. Listening to Copland ballet scores such as Rodeo and Billy the Kid, or his music for the film The Red Pony, instantly evokes images of wide open prairie spaces and the rough and tumble adventure of a mythical frontier. These associations have been […]

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Beethoven

Beethoven’s Ghost

When you hear the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Trio in D Major, Op. 70, No. 1, you’ll immediately understand why this piece earned the nickname, the “Ghost” Trio. It’s some of the most eerie, strange and terrifying music ever written. It constantly keeps you off guard, taking sudden and unexpected turns, like a shadowy apparition […]

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Architect Steven Holl's Chapel of St. Ignatius in Seattle.

Arvo Pärt: Spirit in Sound and Space

In June the Metropolitan Museum of Art and St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary hosted a thought-provoking discussion, Spirit in Sound and Space- A Conversation Inspired by Arvo Pärt, in conjunction with this summer’s Arvo Pärt Project. The discussion brought together architect Steven Holl, neuroscientist Robert Zatorre, and musician and theology professor Peter Bouteneff. For Steven Holl, one of the most visionary contemporary architects, […]

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Anne Sophie Mutter's first recording of Mozart Concertos

Mutter Plays Mozart

Anne-Sophie Mutter first recorded Mozart’s Violin Concertos (No. 3 and 5) at the age of 14 with Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic (listen here). I grew up listening to this excellent recording, which features the slightly slower tempos you might expect from von Karajan, but nonetheless great sense of style and beautiful singing tone. In […]

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Lauren Bacall in "Applause"

But Alive

Lauren Bacall, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 89, will be remembered partly as the seductive, husky-voiced film star who played opposite Humphrey Bogart throughout the 1940s in films such as To Have and Have Not, Dark Passage and Key Largo. Later, she appeared on Broadway. In 1970 she won a Tony award for her role […]

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Papageno from Mozart's Magic Flute

Mozart is for the Birds

The Magic Flute, Mozart’s bizarre two act comic opera, can be seen as a fairy tale battle between the forces of darkness and light. Like all good fairy tales, at the end of The Magic Flute’s second act, love and happiness triumph. The Singspiel opera (featuring singing as well as spoken dialogue) was written in the prolific final […]

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Explore the TAFTO Archive

For many professional orchestra musicians and audience members, August offers a rare period of downtime and a chance for contemplation. Summer seasons and festivals are beginning to wind down, while subscription seasons remain just around the corner. There couldn’t be a better time to explore the newly updated Take a Friend to the Orchestra (TAFTO) resource website, […]

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Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Evening Harmonies

Franz Liszt’s Transcendental Étude No. 11,“Harmonies du Soir” is part of a set of twelve demonically difficult technical studies for piano. It appeals to a certain euphoria we feel in the presence of danger…the amusement park ride which seems to be on the verge of spinning out of control, but miraculously never does. In the case of Étude No. […]

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The Listeners' Club

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