The 2018 Classical Grammys

We’ll finish the week with an overview of last Sunday’s 60th Annual Grammy Awards in the classical categories. As you’ll see below, it was a good night for Second Viennese twentieth century composer, Alban Berg. Best Orchestral Performance This album was recorded live in June (Shostakovich) and October (Barber) of 2013. It’s the second Pittsburgh Symphony album to be honored with a Grammy. (The first came in 1992). The album was also a …

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New Release: Jennifer Higdon’s Musical Postcard, “All Things Majestic”

An awe-inspiring slice of Wyoming landscape inspired American composer Jennifer Higdon’s All Things Majestic. The four-movement orchestral suite was commissioned in 2011 by the Grand Teton Music Festival in celebration of its 50th anniversary. Music Director Donald Runnicles and the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra gave the premiere in August, 2011. Here is the composer’s description of the piece: Having grown up in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains, and having hiked many of our parks, …

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Jennifer Higdon: Summer Shimmers Across the Glass of Green Ponds

Here’s the perfect soundtrack for a lazy midsummer afternoon- the kind of music you might hear in a dream if you fell asleep in the backyard under a cool, lush, leafy canopy. Scenes from the Poet’s Dreams, a work for piano quintet written in 1999 by American composer Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962), imagines a series of divergent dreams. The dreamer becomes both a participant and observer, a paradox Higdon likens to the …

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Holly Mulcahy: A Concertmaster for the 21st Century

(photo above: from HollyMulcahy.com, Photo by Bo Huang) This week a gloomy story came out in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette following a $100,000 audience development study conducted by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Taken at face value, the study seems to have uncovered some troubling community perceptions. Despite having one of the world’s greatest orchestras in their backyard, the focus group of non-ticket buyers perceived PSO concerts as “boring” and “stuffy.” At least one commentator is pointing out the study’s …

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Hilary Hahn: In 27 Pieces

Earlier this month, violinist Hilary Hahn and accompanist Cory Smythe picked up a Grammy award for their 2013 album, In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores. The recording came in first in the Best Chamber/Small Ensemble category. Don’t be deceived by the album’s title. This isn’t yet another CD of violin showpiece warhorses. It’s a collection of completely new music born out of an intriguingly fresh idea. Hahn noticed that, while the violin repertoire …

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