Arts

Arts and culture

'Kinshasa Symphony': An Ode To Musical Joy In Central Africa

Mar 7, 2012

An amazing new documentary film is a must-see not just for music lovers, but for anyone who needs to see the nourishing power of the arts and human connections.

Kinshasa Symphony takes us into the everyday lives of the members of a most unlikely ensemble: the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, located in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place ravaged by war, endemic poverty and corruption.

My first grown-up show: Oliver! Mom and me way up high in the upper balcony, watching all those kids down below.

One older character, Nancy, who looked a little like my mom, died in the second act — a development that I found pretty shocking — and by the time for the curtain calls, it still hadn't occurred to me yet that the actress hadn't died.

So everybody else comes out for applause, reprising the songs they'd sung earlier, which was the custom in musicals back then, including little Oliver, who sang a verse of a song that Nancy had taught him earlier.

It wasn't always easy for Polish composer Witold Lutosławski to find his musical voice.

His Symphonic Variations, which opens this third disc in a series of Lutosławski's music, was shunned by a Warsaw Conservatory professor in the late 1930s. Not understanding the young student's score, the teacher, Witold Maliszewski, said, "For me your work is ugly."

Parabéns, Heitor Villa-Lobos!

Mar 5, 2012

Around The Classical Internet: March 2, 2012

Mar 2, 2012
  • The Detroit Symphony Orchestra booked an unexpected guest artist, and his name is: Kid Rock. They're doing a benefit concert together May 12 to raise $1 million for the struggling symphony, with tickets from $100 to $1500. Says the singer: "As a musician, and of course a Detroiter, I am proud to be supporting this longstanding cultural institution.

Kickstarting Classical Musicians, One Pledge At A Time

Mar 2, 2012

One of the founders of the website Kickstarter, Yancey Strickler, made a startling statement recently: His company, which allows individuals and groups to post ideas for new creative projects and then solicit donations, will distribute $150 million in 2012.

The Vienna Philharmonic At Carnegie Hall

Mar 2, 2012

Lorin Maazel leads the revered orchestra in Mozart's Symphony No. 40 and his own 'Ring Without Words' — Wagner's 'Ring' whittled down to 70 singer-free minutes.

As opera left its toddler years behind, it grew more restrictive and extravagant at the same time. Around 1700, a new style called opera seria began to dominate. It was, as the name implies, "serious opera," and was driven by two main forces: formulaic librettos and flamboyant singers.

Maurice André, who elevated the status of the solo trumpet, has died at age 78. Celebrated for his clarion tones, especially from his piccolo trumpet, André touched off a resurgence of interest in the trumpet and music from the Baroque era.

Several years after he wrote his massive and existentially searching Second Symphony, Gustav Mahler withdrew the three separate sets of notes he had issued about it, on the grounds that the music should be able to stand on its own, its meaning instantly clear. And the poetry Mahler assigned to the chorus and vocal soloists in this sprawling work is incisive and illuminating. As Mahler wrote in his text for the concluding movement, "Sterben werd' ich, um zu leben!" (I will die, that I might live!).

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