Archive for April, 2011

ma in the house

April 30, 2011

(photo by VPR's Brendan Kinney)

We’ve been planning it for months and months. As soon as it was announced that Yo-Yo Ma would be playing with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra this season, preparations got underway to hold a reception for him at the station. It happened last night.

For the first half hour or so guests of both VPR and the VSO gathered in the station’s performance studio, enjoying catering from Cloud Nine and catching up with each other. Then after a little while a short burst of spontaneous applause heralded the guest of honor’s arrival, and, beaming (as usual), Yo-Yo Ma stood at the doorway surveying the packed room.

It didn’t take me long to become impressed with his natural graciousness. He took a few moments to speak personally and genuinely with everyone who approached him. (And everyone did.) Somehow he made his way around the entire congested room within around a half hour’s time before being ushered out to make a late dinner date elsewhere.

Nearly as soon as he arrived, it seemed, he needed to leave. And I hadn’t had the opportunity to introduce myself yet as I noticed him began making his way to the door. So I cleared a path through the room and escorted him out and up the long hallway to the exit. We talked the whole time we walked – actually he did, once he found out what I did at the station. His topic? Expressing avid support for public broadcasting in the face of continuing funding threats. I just listened.

We could have talked about music, we could have talked about his concert tonight with the VSO. THIS IS YO-YO MA (I kept thinking) – he didn’t have to talk about anything at all if he didn’t want to. But there he was, taking the little time he had to share with me a passionate expression of dismay at the ongoing federal budget struggles with funding for public broadcasting, and the arts.

If you’ve ever listened to his playing and wondered about the wellspring that could produce such beautiful and heartfelt music, I can tell you firsthand it’s only possible because it comes from deep within him, it originates from a spirit that is equally genuine and empathetic and human. You simply can’t make music like that if it doesn’t come from a place that’s real.  I’ll listen to him playing the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations and Saint-Saëns’ first Cello Concerto this evening with that in mind, and be glad I could have that small insight in meeting him last night.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have tickets yet you probably won’t be able to experience the concert this evening. It’s been sold out since it was announced last September, and apparently there is an unprecedented waiting list of more than a hundred people right now. Don’t let that stop you from exploring Yo-Yo Ma’s music, though – in particular I recommend his Sony recordings of the solo Bach cello suites; his ensemble work with fellow musicians Emanual Ax, Jaime Laredo (tonight’s conductor) and Isaac Stern; his recording of the Dvořák concerto; and his sizzling 1989 recording with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic of the Shostakovich Cello Concerto #1.

And now, for some very serious ‘long hair’ (long feather?) music, Sesame Street’s own Honker and Dinger Quartet:

jazz fest: at the world tent

April 29, 2011

This week’s news from the News from the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival completed the schedule that was announced a couple of weeks ago at the press conference.

We learned that day that Toubab Krewe would be one of the groups playing at the World Tent on June 11th. But the rest of the lineup hadn’t been finalized yet – who would it be? Not surprisingly, in keeping with the Festival’s tradition (and Festival Director Brian Mital’s personal passion) for reggae at the World Tent, the acts that will join Toubab are Midnite (from the Virgin Islands), Jamaica’s Bushman, and the Jamaican roots group The Abyssinians.

Here’s a look at the lineup. Music gets underway at 3:30 that afternoon.

vso’s 2011/2012 season schedule announced

April 28, 2011

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s new season has been released. For ticket/subscription information, visit their website.

2011/2012 Masterworks series
at the Flynn Center in Burlington

October 29, 2011
Jaime Laredo, conductor
Vassily Primakov, piano

SAINT-SAENS Danse Macabre
RACHMANINOFF Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique

December 3, 2011
Anthony Princiotti, conductor
Katherine Winterstein, violin

BEETHOVEN Coriolan Overture
PROKOFIEV Violin Concerto No. 2
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2

January 28, 2012
Robert De Cormier, conductor
Soloists TBA
VSO Chorus

FAURE Requiem
MOZART Requiem

March 10, 2012
Jaime Laredo, conductor
Jennifer Montone, horn

PROKOFIEV Classical Symphony
STRAUSS Horn Concerto No. 1
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

April 28, 2012
Jaime Laredo, conductor
Alon Goldstein, piano

FALLA Nights in the Gardens of Spain

2011/2012 Sunday Matinee Series
at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland

December 11, 2011
Holiday Pops
Anthony Princiotti, conductor

January 29, 2012
Robert De Cormier, conductor
Soloists TBA
VSO Chorus

FAURE Requiem
MOZART Requiem

March 11, 2012
Jaime Laredo, conductor
Jennifer Montone, horn

PROKOFIEV Classical Symphony
STRAUSS Horn Concerto No. 1
BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

remembering peter lieberson

April 27, 2011

Peter Lieberson and Lorraine Hunt-Lieberson.

Theirs became one of the all-time “great” love stories in classical music, with an irresistible blend of the forbidden (he was married and had three children when he and Lorraine met), the inevitable (they fell in love), the passionate (deeply in love, so he divorced his first wife and married Lorraine), and the tragic (she died in 2006).

Unfortunately, on balance, there was much more of the latter in recent years.

Another chapter concluded over the past weekend in the story of the Liebersons, with his death after a five-year battle with lymphoma. I don’t need to get into the whole story of the Liebersons’ personal and artistic relationship here. You either know it already, or you can find it summarized in many other places such as this good article from NPR Music.

What I can speak to is the deeply affecting quality of the songs (in particular, along with many other fine non-vocal works) Peter wrote later in his life. The Rilke and Neruda song cycles are stunning pieces of music, made all the more lovely with Lorraine’s performance of them. Check this one out, it’s  the final song from the Neruda cycle – “Amor mio, si muero y tu no mueres…” :

If you don’t know Lieberson’s music, start there. A more soulful and intimate insight into his inner artistic mind you will not find. His piano concerto and horn concerto are great next steps.

This is a really nice personal remembrance of the composer from Alex Ross, Lieberson’s one-time student.

Peter Lieberson is survived by his three children and his third wife, Rinchen Lhamo.

playlist #156 (4/25/11)-art of the long song

April 27, 2011

World of Music
Pgm #156 – stretching out with some longer songs today in the regular mix
Catch the show on Mondays 3-5pm ET – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Mali Jazz: Worship Mother Earth / Fra Fra Sound / Pramisi Records 999003 – (MALI)
Malika Zarra: Mossameeha / Berber Taxi / Motéma 60 – (MOROCCO) *NEW*
Velha Guarda da Portela: Passado de Glória / Portela Passado de Glória / Biscoito Fino 902 – (BRAZIL)
Vusi Mahlasela: Say Africa / Say Africa / ATO Records 88088-21722 – (SOUTH AFRICA) *NEW*
Golbang: Ey Yaar / Setareh / 2009 – (SWEDEN)
Umalali: Nibari / The Garifuna Women’s Project / Cumbancha 6 – (NICARAGUA / GUATEMALA / BELIZE)
Deodato Siquir: Harmony / Balanço / DS 7501 – (MOZAMBIQUE)
Cheika Remitti: Mzinha Lil Ti Elbareh / L’étoile du Raï / Culture Press 5020 – (ALGERIA)
Manu Dibango: Soul Makossa / Lion of Africa / Global Mix 1 – (CAMEROON)
Emily Loizeau: La Femme a Barbe (The bearded lady) / Pays Sauvage / Opendisc/Polydor 531407 – (FRANCE)
Steel Pulse: Not King James Version / Babylon the Bandit / Elektra 60437 – (JAMAICA)
Shruti Sadolikar: Raga Bibhas / Shruti Sadolikar / Nimbus 5346 – (INDIA)
Mike Melvoin & Dan Jaffe: After Hours / Playing the Word / City Light Entertainment 732500072 – (USA)
Ricardo Lemvo & Makina Loca: Ave María / São Salvador / Putumayo 158 – (CUBA)
Chiwoniso & Vibe Culture: Handimbozorora (Spirits) / Timeless / Metro Studios 3 – (ZIMBABWE)
Luis Vargas: Tranquila / Republica Dominica / Putumayo 162 – (DOMINICAN REPUBLIC)
Ofra Haza: Galbi / Shaday / Sire 25816 – (ISRAEL)
Sergent Garcia: Ojos Inocentes / Una y Otra Vez / Cumbancha 19 – (FRANCE)

lonnnnng sonnngggss

April 25, 2011

This week’s “World of Music” is devoted to the art of the ‘long song’. Because WoM is only two hours each week we usually try to get in as much music as possible, but today we’ll stretch out with some longer selections in the regular mix.

Among the songs we’ll feature are Manu Dibango’s “Soul Makossa”; a beautifully complex half-hour Indian raga by Shruti Sadolikar, and the latest from Moroccan jazz diva Malika Zarra’s new recording, “Berber Taxi”.

World of Music is an oddly flexible, 10% spandex weave of blues, jazz, poetry, and  world music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator.  Online, or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.

holding company with major jackson

April 23, 2011

I don’t know how many poets there are in Vermont. Of course the latest census didn’t shed any light on that number, though it was confirmed that there are around 625,000 folks living here: mostly white, with an older age skew than many states.

No real revelations, in other words.

When I talked to VT Arts Council Director Alex Aldrich a while back, he did verfy that Vermont has the highest number of artisans per capita of any state in the Union. If I had to guess, I’d say we’re equally endowed when it comes to gifted poets.

Yesterday I was pleased to invite one of them on the air with me for a conversation about National Poetry Month, and life in general as a poet in today’s world. Major Jackson teaches in the English Dept. UVM and he’s recently published his third volume of poetry – Holding Company. He’s also participated in the new anthology, “Crossing State Lines – An American Renga”, with 53 other poets from around the country. (NPR’s story about it is here.)

There were a lot of areas I wanted to talk about that we never got to before our time was up. Like, the process that’s underway right now at the Arts Council to select a new state poet laureate. And Vermont’s monthlong “Poetry Alive!” project underway now in Montpelier. And the poetic influences Major’s had in his long career.

We’ll save those thoughts for the next time.

We did talk about the consistent 10-line construction of every poem in “Holding Company”. They’re not renga, Major said, he had written the poems before he was asked to participate in the “Crossing State Lines” project where every contributing poet was asked to write a renga (a traditional Japanese 10-line form). A happy coincidence, then.

Major confirmed the critical concensus that his new book is the most personal of his collections; whereas the first two (“Leaving Saturn” and “Hoops”) were more driven by external inspiration. The emotional topography traversed in “Holding Company” is no less visceral and fully realized than the actual places and people we encounter in its predecessors.

Have a favorite poet or poem? Leave a comment here, and keep on supporting our local poets – this is VT so they’re probably also one of your neighbors or friends or coworkers.

playlist #155 (4/18/11)-bits of lots of different sounds

April 18, 2011

World of Music
Pgm #155 – We’re all over the map today with a little bit of a lot of different sounds
Catch the show on Mondays 3-5pm ET – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Lucky Dube: Taxman / Long Walk to Freedom / Wrass 21 – (SOUTH AFRICA)
Soulive: Taxman / Rubber Soulive / Royal Family Records 1003 – (USA)
Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble: Taxman / Greatest Hits / Epic 66217 – (USA)
Junior Parker: Taxman / Funny How Time Slips Away / Laser Light 9038 – (USA)
Neal Pattman: Market Blues / Blues Came to Georgia / MusicMaker 23 – (USA)
Maceo Parker: Busted / Roots & Grooves / Heads Up 3134 – (USA)
Easy Star All-Stars: Money / Dub Side of the Moon / Easy Star Records 21606 – (JAMAICA)
Angélique Kidjo: Zelie / Oyo / (demo) – (BENIN) * playing at the Flynn on 4/29 *
Nawal: Musica / Aman / 2007 – (COMOROS ISLANDS)
Dengue Fever: Thank You Goodbye / Cannibal Courtship / Fantasy 32622 – (USA) *NEW*
Taketron: Laughter Club / Slavic Soul Party / Barbès Records 23 – (USA)
Dom Um Romão: Cosinha II / Sound Affects Brazil / Mr. Bongo Records 49 – (BRAZIL)
Bombino: Kammou Taliat (You, my Beloved) / Agadez / Cumbancha 20 – (NIGER) *NEW*
Ahmed Soultan featuring Afrodiziac: Achkide / Code / Sommum Records 2008 – (MOROCCO)
The Mothers: Pefumlani Kunye (Breathe Together) / Township Sessions / Mr. Bongo Records 40 – (SOUTH AFRICA)
Lila Downs: El Venadito / La Sandunga / Narada World 724345-93642 – (MEXICO)
Saban Bajramović: Djeli Mara / A Gypsy Legend / Times Square Records 9029 – (SERBIA)
Zenet: Tu Amor es Tanto (Your Love is So Much) / Todas las Calles / El Volcán 48 – (SPAIN)
Sally Nyolo: Essame Seguele (Life is a Path) / Mémoire du Monde / Pias 790032020 – (CAMEROON / PARIS)
Velha Guarda da Portela: Desengano (Disillusion) / Portela Passado de Glória / Biscoito Fino 902 – (BRAZIL)
Aricia Mess: Super Legal / Cabeça Coração / Orbita Music 109461 – (BRAZIL)
Culture Music Club of Zanzibar: Nuru (Radiance) / Shime! / World Village 468080 – (ZANZIBAR)
Grupo Lokito: Guajira / Esengo Ya Ko Bina / Malecon Records 276 – (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO / UK)
bet.e: You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To / b.coming / Rhea Music 249859732 – (CANADA)
Nouvel R: La Machine / Tout Va Bien / Discograph 2 – (FRANCE)
Matador: Xippil Xoll / Xippil Xoll / Studio Music Solutions 5 – (SENEGAL)
Mansa Sissoko & Kabarata: Ahtétingua / N’tomi / Drog 103 – (MALI)

bits of lots

April 18, 2011

Lots of different sounds on today’s World of Music, including new recordings from Niger’s desert blues singer Bombino, and “Cannibal Courtship” – the latest from Dengue Fever.

We’ll also hear a couple of bluesy sets for tax day, featuring “Tax Man” covers by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Junior Parker, and Soulive.

World of Music is an obediently compliant 1040-submitting blend of blues, jazz, poetry, and  world music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator.  Online, or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.

a bard who isn’t moved

April 17, 2011

For National Poetry Month, a visit to the Robert Frost trail near Ripton, VT:

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