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Martin Frost, star clarinetist, will work with the SPCO on tours, recording and some concerts here at home through the 2018-19 season.
When Martin FrÖst performed a weekend of concerts with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in October, audiences were so excited they looked as if they might turn cartwheels in the aisle. This week, the SPCO announced that FrÖst will be the next in a line of impressive artistic partners, with plans for recording, international tours, new commissioned works and involvement with the star clarinetist's current passion, his" Genesis Project," which will trace the development of classical music from its earliest folk and religious roots to modern compositions.
FrÖst, 43, also recently signed a contract with Sony Classical, and hopes to record with the SPCO as both soloist and conductor on that label during his partnership. He said he's branching out beyond just performing now because "I didn't want to look back on my life and say, oh, I did [Mozart's] Clarinet Concerto 900 times. I'd like to be able to say I was brave enough to try new things, to open new doors for classical music."
FrÖst waxed enthusiastic about his upcoming collaborations with the orchestra (to last through the 2018-19 season). He described the chamber orchestra’s members as musicians who “don’t just sit there. They sit on the edge of their chairs. They're very flexible to work with and can play some extremely hard stuff. They are offering a wonderful musical home for me, a perfect pairing to try new things.” One of those new things, he hopes, will be performances of his original conceptual work “Dollhouse,” which combines music, dance and special lighting effects, with musicians taking cues from his choreographed movement onstage. The work premiered in Stockholm in 2013 and was performed last month in Gothenburg, Sweden.
"I call it 'conductography,' " he said."It's about liberation, in both physical and symbolic form.". Okay, SPCO -- prepare to be liberated.
The Minnesota Orchestra will perform a short piece by composer Stephen Paulus at all three weekend concerts. Paulus, who died Oct. 19, was a former composer in residence at the orchestra. He enjoyed a long relationship with the organization. In 2011, the orchestra opened its season with "Timepiece," a jazz-inspired work by Paulus and his son, Greg.
The orchestra will play "Veil of Tears," which is a selection from the large work "To Be Certain of the Dawn." Commissioned by the Basilica of St. Mary's, this Holocaust Oratorio was recorded by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Chorale and the Minnesota Boychoir in 2008.
"Veil of Tears" is a short, instrumental piece. Described as a tribute to Paulus, the composition will open the concerts this weekend at Orchestra Hall.
At right, Paulus reviewed the score of "To Be Certain of the Dawn" with music director Osmo Vanska in 2008. Photo by Sharolyn Hagen.
Women composers remain almost entirely unrepresented in the concert programs of major U.S. orchestras, including the Minnesota Orchestra.
That is among findings of a new study by a writer attached to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Ricky O'Bannon pooled the 2014-15 classical concert seasons of 21 orchestras and looked at ages of composers, whether composers were living or dead, and the countries of origin of composers being played.
Female composers represent 1.8 percent of the works performed. When looking at works by living composers, those by women increases to 14.8 percent. The current season at Minnesota Orchestra includes one work by a woman composer in its regular subscription season (Polina Nazaykinskaya's "Winter Bells," Nov. 13-15 ). Two women composers will be played in the Jan. 16 Future Classics program.
The BSO study determined that the average date of all compositions performed is 1886, and that 9.5 percent of all music performed was composed since 2000. American composers made up less than 11 percent of pieces performed. Additional details are illustrated below.
Minnesota Opera opened its season in September with Puccini's "La fanciulla del West." / Photo by Michal Daniel
Minnesota Opera has posted a small deficit for fiscal 2014. The institution reported a shortfall of $173,000 on a $9.8 million budget. The report is noteworthy because it marks the second annual consecutive deficit for the Opera after many years of balanced budgets.
Kevin Ramach, president and general director, said the company had cut costs in the fiscal year when it became obvious that revenue was not keeping pace with expenses. The departments of fundraising, marketing and communications were streamlined and Ramach said in a news release that a consultant has been hired to examine productivity and efficiency.
The Opera reported a 14-year high in subscription sales and a bump of $250,000 in contributions from fiscal 2013. The company is in the midst of an ambitious initiative to bring new work to the opera stage. "Silent Night," "Doubt" and the upcoming "Manchurian Candidate" are three pieces in that effort.
The full financial audited report is here.
Since making her Met debut in 2009 in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor," Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has sung regularly on the Met stage, and on the popular livecasts from the Metropolitan Opera.
This Saturday (noon, Oct. 11), Netrebko will appear as Lady Macbeth live in "Macbeth," Verdi's opera based on Shakespeare's blood-soaked tragedy. Her Macbeth is Željko Lucic in a production that also stars Joseph Calleja as Macduff and René Pape as Banquo. Fabio Luisi conducts this revivial of Adrian Nobles' modern-dress 2007 production.
Netrebko gave a "riveting performance dispatched with artistry and fearless intensity," said the critic at Bloomberg news. In a recent interview, Netrebko talked about the challenges she faces as she takes on more dramatic opera roles.
In recent years, Netrebko has sung in such Met operas as "Lammermoor" (2009), "Don Pasquale" (2010), "L'Elisir d'Amore" (2012) and "Eugene Onegin" (2013).
For these events, crowds gather at movie theaters across the United States on Saturday afternoons to watch and hear big-name singers in big-deal operas, without having to pay for trips to New York City and tickets to the Opera House at Lincoln Center. The live telecasts are usually repeated in the evening on the following Wednesday.
To get tickets for this Live in HD event, which is beaming to seven metro-area movie theaters on Saturday, go here. Next up, on Oct. 18, is Mozart's "Le Nozze di Figaro," conducted by James Levine.
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