Gearing up for the UCI in RVA

My hometown, Richmond, Virginia, is gearing up to host the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) Road World Championships bike race. The event begins this Saturday, September 19 and concludes on the 27th. On Friday at 6:30, the Richmond Symphony will be playing for a crowd of 10,000-plus spectators at the opening ceremonies on Brown’s Island, near the James River in downtown Richmond. In celebration of the UCI World Championships, here is a historical curiosity: Daisy …

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Bring on the Wascally Wabbit

The Richmond Symphony season is winding down. But this weekend we’ll be busy performing the popular touring show, Bugs Bunny at the Symphony II with conductor George Daugherty. The show is a tribute to the music of classic Warner Brothers’ cartoons. Generations of viewers gained an exposure to classical music through these zany cartoons, which included: Schoenberg Meets Looney Tunes Cartoons had an interesting influence on John Adams’ Chamber Symphony, written in 1992. Here is an excerpt …

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Highlights from La Traviata

This month, the Richmond Symphony has been spending a lot of time in the orchestra pit performing La Traviata with Virginia Opera. Beyond the obvious vocal acrobatics, Giuseppe Verdi’s score is full of musical drama and characterization. The introspective orchestral Prelude to Act 1 foreshadows the tragedy which follows. Soon after the curtain goes up, we hear one of opera’s most recognizable drinking songs, Libiam ne lieti calici.   The plot of La Traviata centers around the emotionally lost …

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Music Beyond the Holocaust

  Yesterday was the seventieth anniversary of the allied liberation of Auschwitz at the end of the Second World War. Orchestras around the world, including the Richmond Symphony, commemorated the event by playing often neglected music by Jewish composers who were affected by Nazi atrocities. Music was performed frequently in the concentration camps. At Terezin, near Prague, prisoners defiantly performed Verdi’s Requiem sixteen times as a veiled condemnation of the Nazis. The conductor Raphael Schächter taught his …

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Remembering James Erb

James Erb, a beloved member of Richmond’s music community, passed away last week at the age of 88. He will be remembered as a composer, arranger, conductor and musicologist, who specialized in the works of Renaissance composer, Orlando de Lassus. In 1971, Dr. Erb founded the Richmond Symphony Chorus. He also served as director of choral activities at the University of Richmond. Those who knew James Erb will remember his youthful energy …

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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 when they appeared with the Richmond Symphony about seven years ago. The song Clementine comes from their 2004 album, Hang …

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Benjamin Zander in RVA

Charismatic conductor, educator, writer and music enthusiast Benjamin Zander is coming to Richmond. At 7:00 on April 28 he will join the Symphony Musicians of Richmond (the musicians’ association of the Richmond Symphony) for a concert/talk which will benefit the United Way. Learn more details here and listen to this radio interview with Zander. Zander conducts the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and Youth Orchestra. He is also the author of The Art of Possibility. As …

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