Upcoming and Noteworthy

What's ahead on The Classical Network? Catch some of these great programs coming your way. Information on evening concert broadcasts of the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and other nationally broadcast performances can be found on our home page.

Photo courtesy of Curve Theatre

What has often been regarded in the United States as “hack work,” in England has been accepted as just another aspect of what it means to be a working artist. There is no disgrace in a composer earning a living, and some of the nation’s greatest musicians have contributed finely-crafted scores to its body of cinema.  Take note of music from the documentaries “The People’s Land” (Ralph Vaughan Williams), “The King’s Stamp” (Benjamin Britten), “The Green Girdle” (William Alwyn), and “The Royal Palaces of Britain” (Sir Arthur Bliss), this Saturday at 6 pm.

Over the past six months, the halls of Lincoln Center's various performance venues have stood mostly silent, as its partners have sought virtual ways to reach audiences and share music. But one day in August, 15 brass players representing the Metropolitan Opera Musicians, Jazz at Lincoln Center, New York Philharmonic, Mostly Mozart Festival, The Juilliard School and New York City Ballet Orchestra arranged themselves - socially distanced - around the plaza to perform and record a new work, "Invictus," by composer Anthony Barfield.

Host Steven Sametz, artistic director of The Princeton Singers, shares selections from more than three decades of recordings by the ensemble, featuring music ranging from the Renaissance to 20th-century works. Tune in to Sounds Choral Sunday (9/27) at 2 pm.

Hector Armienta’s adaptation of “Bless Me, Ultima” from Opera Southwest is the featured production on this week’s Sunday Opera (9/27 3:00 p.m.).  Mexican-American composer Armienta based his libretto on the award-winning coming-of-age novel by Rudolfo Anaya which deals with Antonio’s spiritual transformation against the changing backdrop of the American Southwest during WW II through his contact with Ultima, a traditional healer who knows both the ways of the Catholic faith into which Antonio was born as well as the indigenous beliefs of the generations of people who came before them.  Through her help, Antonio overcomes the pull between his mother’s faith and the nature-driven faith of Ultima, and Antonio becomes a man who is not one or the other but a better product of both.  

When looking at the Gershwin brothers, the attention is most often focused on George, but on this week’s Dress Circle (9/27 7:00 p.m.), we’ll be sampling the lyrics of Ira in a program we’ve titled “Ira Beyond George.”    Ira became a recluse after George’s death, and he was brought out of his forced retirement by Kurt Weill and Moss Hart who convinced him to work on “Lady in the Dark,” a musical about psychoanalysis.  We’ll be sampling some of these songs as well as songs he wrote with other composers such as Vernon Duke, Burton Lane, Harry Warren, and Jerome Kern.  

Henry Purcell wrote his short one act opera Dido and Aeneas in the late 1680's. Nahum Tate wrote the libretto for this, one of the first English operas. The first known performance was at a girl's school in London in 1688, probably with students and some imported male singers in the cast. The musical provenance is somewhat murky.

The Lost Chord: September 27 - Schmitt Happens

Sep 24, 2020

Florent Schmitt was one of the most successful French composers of the early 20th century.  However, as fashions changed, his characteristically opulent music became marginalized, only to experience something of a revival, in recent years, mostly on recordings.  We’ll mark the sesquicentenary of Schmitt’s birth (on September 28, 1870) with selections from his incidental music for a production of Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” and his grandiose setting of “Psalm XLVII.”  Bring your appetite for overegged Florentine.  Schmitt happens, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Photo courtesy Olney Theatre Center

Paws for a litter of music from films with catty titles and characters, including selections from “Cat People” (Roy Webb), “The Wind and the Lion” (Jerry Goldsmith), “To Catch a Thief” (Lyn Murray), and “The Leopard” (Nino Rota).  It’s a stretch for feline tails, as purr the theme.  We’ll let the cats out of the bag, this Saturday at 6 pm.

As Houston Grand Opera reimagined its Fall season for a virtual platform, it transformed its Cullen Theater at the Wortham Theater Center into a production studio, recording three opera productions for digital distribution and presenting a recital series. The opera company also invited other arts organizations in the area to use the studio as a possible venue. In addition, HGO is partnering with other opera companies to create a virtual audition process for its Young Artists Program.

The Sunday Opera is headed back to the Royal Opera at Covent Garden this week (9/20 3:00 p.m.) for Beethoven’s only opera, “Fidelio” which was their last mainstage production before closing for the pandemic.  The opera was a difficult task for Beethoven, going through three versions and incorporating music from a previously unfinished opera along the way.  It would take eleven years for the final version to be staged in Vienna in 1814.  The story of personal sacrifice and heroism centers around Leonore (Lise Davidson) who disguises herself as the jailor Fidelio to rescue her husband Florestan (Jonas Kaufmann) from a political prison where he is destined to die in an act of revenge by the cruel prison governor, Don Pizarro (Michael Kupfer-Radecky).   They are joined by Georg Zeppenfeld as the kindly jailor Rocco, Amanda Forsythe as Rocco’s daughter Marzelline, Robin Tritschler as Jaquino, Rocco’s assistant who is in love with Marzelline, and Egils Silins as Don Fernado, the King’s minister.  Antonio Pappano conducts. 

We tend to have tunnel vision when it comes to musicals, thinking mainly of Broadway being the center of all action, but on this week’s Dress Circle (9/20 7:00 p.m.), we’ll remedy that with a look at the lyrics of a major force in the German-language musical scene, Michael Kunze.  His catalogue is truly impressive as he has translated many of the blockbuster musicals that have transferred to Germany, musicals such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Les Miserables,” “Wicked,” “Cats,” and “Sunset Boulevard.”  

This week we have samples from two contrasting Verdi operas, his very first work, Oberto, with its influences of Bellini, Rossini and other composers of his day, and then from his next to last work 48 years later, Otello, a work of unquestioned original genius. Giuseppe Verdi was 26 when La Scala premiered Oberto in 1839. He had worked on it for 4 years, and the reception was mixed, but promising enough for La Scala to commission two more operas from the composer. Performances in other Italian cities followed, and in Barcelona as well.

Shana tova!  Welcome the year 5781 with music for the Jewish High Holy Days, including Herman Berlinski’s “Shofar Service,” David Stock’s “Yizkor,” and John McCabe’s “The Chagall Windows” – luminous, strange, and beautiful impressions of stained glass tableaux from the synagogue of Hadassah Medical Center.  It’s a fresh start, from toot to atonement, this Sunday at 10 pm.

Take flight with music from movies about airports and airplanes, including selections from “The V.I.P.s” (Miklós Rózsa), “The Terminal” (John Williams), “Airport” (Alfred Newman), and “North by Northwest” (Bernard Herrmann).  Rush more to Rushmore.  Departure is this Saturday at 6 pm.

Join us on a trip to the Royal Danish Opera on this week’s Sunday Opera (9/13 3:00 p.m.) and their recent production of Claudio Monteverdi’s “L’Orfeo” to begin an afternoon of music based on the Orpheus legend.   Marc Mauillon is the legendary singer and Sofie Lund-Tonnesen his beloved Eurydice.  They’re joined in this production by Ellen Larsson, Philippa Cold, Mia Berstrom and Thomas LIchtenecker with Concerto Copenhagen conducted by Lark Ulrik Mortensen.   

Some performers become legends because of their larger-than-life personalities, and we’ll be celebrating one such artist on this week’s Dress Circle (9/13 7:00 p.m.) as we remember Elaine Stritch.   Of course, we’re including the song for which she’s probably best known, “The Ladies Who Lunch” from Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” but we’ll also be looking at her work in two of her forgotten musical outings: Noel Coward’s “Sail Away” (both the New York and London cast recordings) and the Leroy Anderson, Walter & Jean Kerr parody of the silent film era “Goldilocks.”  

The Lost Chord: September 13 - Home Sweet Homer

Sep 10, 2020

Homesick for Homer?  Trace Odysseus’s return to Ithaca, in two works inspired by “The Odyssey”:  Ernst Boehe’s symphonic poem “Departure and Shipwreck,” from the cycle “From Odysseus’ Voyages,” and Benjamin Britten’s radio play “The Rescue of Penelope,” narrated by Dame Janet Baker.  There’s no place like Homer, this Sunday at 10 pm.

In 1938, Leonard Warren, then in his late twenties, went to his boss, the chorus master of the Radio City Music Hall where Warren had sung for three years. Warren wanted time off to prepare for the Metropolitan Opera Auditions of the Air. The boss agreed, and added that Warren didn't need to come back. (This may or may not be true). Thus encouraged, Warren selected one of the five opera arias he knew and did the audition. The Met was stunned. The judges had never heard such a magnificent voice at the Auditions of the Air, or anywhere else for that matter.

Photo by Paul Kolnik

I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody – instead of a bum, which is what I am.  “Picture Perfect” has been moved to a new time, SATURDAY AT 6PM.  This Labor Day weekend, hear Leonard Bernstein’s original cues, long believed lost, for “On the Waterfront;” also Aaron Copland’s original recordings for “The Red Pony,” some dances from Virgil Thomson’s “Louisiana Story” – so far, the only film score to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music – and Elie Siegmeister’s “They Came to Cordura,” which provides the now-familiar “Picture Perfect” signature tune.

Courtesy of Gravitas Ventures.

A concert version of Verdi’s “Aida” from June of 2019 presented by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is the performance on this week’s Sunday Opera (9/6 3:00 p.m.)   This beloved story of forbidden love and sacrifice features Krassimira Stoyanova as Aida and Frencesco Meli as her Radames.   Anita Rachvelishvili is the vengeful Amneris, Kiril Manolov is Amonasro, and the High Priest Ramfis is sung by Ildar Abdrazakov.   Ricardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus.   

Help us celebrate September, the month of morning glories and chickens, on this week’s Dress Circle (9/6 7:00 p.m.) as we look at a few of the shows covering over 100 years of theatre history that opened in New York this month.  From our earliest opening, Victor Herbert’s popular “The Red Mill” from 1906, we’ll sample songs from shows such as “Rose Marie,” “Fine and Dandy,” “Flying Colors,” “The Boy Friend,” “The Vagabond King,” and “The Student Gypsy or The Prince of Liederkranz” before our latest opening, 2012’s “Chaplin.”   

Cabinets of curiosities, also sometimes referred to as “wonder rooms,” were small collections of extraordinary objects, strange and often fanciful precursors of today’s museums, which attempted to categorize and explain oddities of the natural world.  We’ll hear three examples of musical equivalents: Dmitri Tymoczko's “Typecase Treasury,” Michael Colina’s Violin Concerto “Three Cabinets of Wonder,” and a selection from Robert Moran’s “Cabinet of Curiosities.”  Satisfy your curiosity, this Sunday at 10 pm. 

YouTube screen shot

Picture Perfect: August 28 - Latin Swords

Aug 27, 2020

Feeling a little out of shape?  Boxed in?  Blue?  Put some swagger back into your step with an hour of audacious music from Latin swashbucklers.  Thrill to selections from “Captain from Castile” (Alfred Newman), “The Mask of Zorro” (James Horner), “Puss in Boots” (Henry Jackman), and “The Adventures of Don Juan” (Max Steiner).  A cape, a plume, and seven-league boots are guaranteed mood-elevators.  Forget your cares!  We ride hell-for-leather, this Friday at 6 pm.

We stay in Los Angeles on this week’s Sunday Opera (8/30 3:00 p.m.) with their production of Puccini’s “La Boheme” from last season.   The cast for this beloved opera includes Marina Costa-Jackson as Mimi and Samir Pirgu as her Rodolfo.  The tempestuous Musetta is Erica Petrocelli and Marcello, Kihun Yoon, and the final two “Bohemians” are Nicholas Brownlee as Colline, Michael J. Hawk as Schaunard.  James Conlon Conducts.