There is a lot to like in this week’s performances of Too Hot to Handel: The Gospel Messiah. The St. Louis Symphony IN UNISON Chorus sounds stellar in rehearsal and the orchestra gets to play a work that has many openings for improvisation in the rhythm section, alto and tenor sax, and vocals, with some scat thrown in.
Another Powell Hall holiday postcard, with In Unison Chorus
If you are in need of a stocking stuffer for someone on your list with a passion for American music, the fall issue of Daedalus, the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, published by MIT Press, is focused on that very theme. Edited by Gerald Early, the “American Music” issue includes an examination of Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison album, an appreciation of composer and folk-music historian Ruth Crawford Seeger (Pete’s stepmom), a look at early concept albums produced at the birth of the LP by artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Rosemary Clooney, and a lot more.
Photo: Keith Saunders
And there is an impassioned argument for the past, present, and future of classical music written by David Robertson, “Listening to the Now.” You can read the abstract here. Click.
Powell Hall is all done up like the prettiest holiday postcard, as you can see in this photo taken during a recent rehearsal of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Come see it and hear it in person, Friday or Saturday night.
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Kate Lindsey and Nicholas Phan for the Saturday night broadcast of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio on St. Louis Public Radio. They spoke about this weekend’s program with deep intelligence, wit, humor, and charm. Kate asked Nic about how he sings a tremendously difficult aria in the second cantata. Nic told us about “ghost breaths.” Kate talked about singing a lullaby as Mary to the baby Jesus. They talked about how smart David Robertson is.
I don’t know how KWMU’s Mary Edwards will edit this. We didn’t want to stop talking. I suggested the two singers start a sit-com: Kate & Nic. I’d watch it.
Here they are in a previous incarnation, performing together in The Marriage of Figaro at the Seattle Opera.
Kate & Nic
In the midst of rehearsal for Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, David Robertson didn’t cue the flutes. Rather, he said, “Let’s invite the flutes in.”
From Nicolas Slonimsky’s Biographical Dictionary of Musicians: Bach, Johann Sebastian, supreme arbiter and lawgiver of music, a master comparable in greatness of stature with Aristotle in philosophy and Leonardo da Vinci in art….
Johann Sebastian Bach
The first sounds I heard walking into Powell Hall on Monday morning were that of an oboe playing from Scheherazade. A sound heard frequently throughout the day with oboe auditions in progress.
During the Friday mid-day rehearsal for the Thanksgiving Weekend concerts, David Robertson remarked on a passage that may have arrived a tad late in the playing of it: “It must be the tryptophan.”
This season the Happy Thanksgiving cupcake is a Happy Thanksgiving cookie, created by Mrs. Silva.Don’t forget the best way to entertain all those Thanksgiving Weekend guests is with the St. Louis Symphony, Friday and Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon concerts , featuring Joshua Bell playing the Sibelius concerto.
The Thanksgiving Weekend concerts begin with two harps, an opening cadenza played by Megan Stout and Principal Harp Allegra Lilly in Smetana’s Vysehrad (The High Castle). Allegra selected this piece as one of her top picks before her first St. Louis Symphony season started. She spoke with me about it following a Tuesday rehearsal for this week’s video blog.