The Israeli music festival at Keshet Eilon will dedicate its concert this weekend to the memory of Ivry Gitlis, who died last December.

The kibbutz auditorium is a converted chicken coop. The cowshed is being reconfigured and the silo is a music library.

Ivry spent his 90th birthday on the kibbutz and loved being there.

Report here.

 

The Dutch are organising a festival in honour Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, who died on 16 October 1621.

The press release is rather discouraging for living composers:

The greatest composer ever born in the Netherlands: Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621) lived in Amsterdam. The Sweelinck Festival will commemorate the 400th anniversary of his death by organizing a week full of concerts, workshops, and other activities between 16 and 24 October, to take place at several Amsterdam locations. The Sweelinck Festival will remind listeners in an open and accessible way how a musician who lived four centuries ago can still hold an important place on the illustrious list of Dutch composers. Performers will include such international musicians and ensembles as the Swiss choir Lamaraviglia, Doulce Mémoire with Denis Raisin Dadre, Kathryn Cok, and the Caecilia-Concert.

Sweelinck Festival 2021
According to artistic leader Simon Groot, “Vocal music is a marriage between two art forms: literature and music. Nowhere is that marriage as harmonious as in the music of Sweelinck. The Sweelinck Festival unites the past and the present. Sweelinck’s iconic music is at the heart of the festival, which will offer new perspectives—for visitors who would like to participate by singing and making music. But also for guests who prefer to immerse themselves in Sweelinck’s works.”

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck: the Amsterdam Orpheus
Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, born in 1562 in the eastern Dutch city of Deventer, moved to Amsterdam at a young age. Sweelinck was a prominent citizen of Amsterdam: he served as the municipal organist in the Oude Kerk (Old Church) for more than forty years, and he led the Amsterdam Collegium Musicum. His legacy includes a musical oeuvre of poignant beauty worthy of international recognition. No wonder his contemporaries called him the “Amsterdam Orpheus,” referring to the mythological Greek musician and poet.

Sweelinck’s works: improvisations, keyboard music, and pieces for vocal ensemble
Much of the music Sweelinck played started out as improvisations. The keyboard music Sweelinck notated sometimes evolved from improvisations, or was used as a preliminary sketch, or written down for his pupils as part of their studies. In addition to compositions for organ and harpsichord, Sweelinck wrote more than 250 works for vocal ensemble.

Without Sweelinck, there would have been no Bach
From a musical point of view, Sweelinck is the forerunner of Johann Sebastian Bach. He had a direct link with Bach via his students. Sweelinck was a well-respected musician with international appeal, and students came from far and wide to study with him in Amsterdam. Those students, in turn, often grew to become important musicians in their own right, such as the German composers Praetorius and Scheidemann, thus forging a direct link between Sweelinck and Bach.

 

The Odyssey – Jermyn St Theatre
Click here for tickets

Each segment is separately charged.
 £15 per segment, £20 more than one viewer. Aug 1
Now, just in case you have nothing to do on Sunday, Jermyn Street Theatre has the answer. And if, like me, you’re obsessed by Ancient Greece, in myth or fact, Homer, translated by Emily Wilson and directed by Jermyn Street’s Artistic Director Tom Littler, will entertain you for the entire day.

The play will be presented in six chunks, starting at 9.30am.
They are:
9.30am: The Boy and the Goddess
12.30pm: The Songs of a Poet
2.45pm: The Winds and the Witch
5.30pm: Father and Son
7.45pm: The Queen and the Beggar
10.00pm: The Olive Tree Bed

Some pretty fancy actors will be taking part. James Purefoy stars as Odysseus, the Greek hero whose ten-year journey home from Troy is the heart of Homer’s epic poem. Purefoy is joined by Susannah Harker as his wife Penelope, Chirag Benedict Lobo as his son Telemachus, renowned Shakespearean actor Michael Pennington as his father Laertes, Clare Perkins as Athena, the goddess who guides his journey, and Marion Bailey as his devoted nurse Eurycleia. The ensemble cast is full of Jermyn Street regulars including Jim Findley, Sam Crerar, David Sturzaker and Robert Mountford.

Each of the six parts features a guest narrator: Dona Croll narrates The Boy and the Goddess at 9.30am; Dame Janet Suzman leads The Songs of a Poet at 12.30pm; Lisa Dwan plays Circe in The Winds and the Witch at 2.45pm; Miranda Raison narrates Father and Son at 5.30pm; Hattie Morahan narrates The Queen and the Beggar at 7.30pm; and Rachel Pickup closes the story with The Olive Tree Bed at 10pm.

Read more here

QS has issued its authoritative annual rankings.

Apparently, London is best, Munich second, Seoul and Tokyo joint third and Berlin fifth.

That seems astonishing given the very high cost of living on London, but the stats don’t lie.

 

Here are some geeky notes:
Seoul achieves a higher score than London’s 98.2/100 in QS’s Rankings indicator, which
measures the number and quality of universities in a given city. Though London is home to two
of the world’s ten best universities – as per the most recent QS World University Rankings –
Seoul is home to 21 ranked institutions, to London’s 18.
 London ranks 2 nd (98.4/100) in QS’s Student Voice metric. Acting as an authoritative source of
peer review on the student experience, the results are based on the opinions of over 95,000
students regarding their time spent in a given city. Only Berlin receives more positive feedback
than London from students that have studied there.
 London falls to 4 th in the Employer Activity indicator (92.9/100), which measures youth
unemployment rates and graduate employer recognition for each city. Tokyo is the global #1 for
this indicator, bolstered by minimal youth unemployment rates.
 London has risen to 5 th (95.9/100) in QS’s Student Mix metric. This captures the size and diversity
of a city’s student population. Australian cities – with Melbourne as the global leader – excel in
this indicator.
 London has also benefitted from a slight improvement in QS’s Affordability indicator. However,
this metric remains London’s only metric-level weakness; it ranks 95 th for Affordability. The top-
ranked cities in the overall table typically perform poorly for Affordability due to high costs-of-
living and elevated tuition fees. For example: Kuala Lumpur and Kazan (joint-31 st and joint-102 nd
in the overall table) are the top two for this indicator.
 

Daniel Poulin has retrieved a recording of Beethoven’s third piano sonata to illustrate time well spent in studio with his friend Glenn Gould:

All the evenings spent with Glenn Gould in his studio at the Hotel Inn on the Park in Don Mills (20 minutes from downtown Toronto), the very place where he was going to suffer the stroke three years later, are well and truly anchored in my memory. One of them remains particularly rich emotionally.

It was in the fall of 1979, a gray and rainy evening as he loved them so much. As usual, I had taken a few records with me (vinyl, obviously – compact disc was not yet invented) including a rather rare version of the Concerto in E flat major written by Beethoven when he was only 12 or 13 years old. Gould had never heard it before and he was curious to find what it sounded like. After having listened to the entire concerto Glenn contented himself with a single comment, brief and definitive: “Without interest”!

Then, to my surprise, he spontaneously asks me: “Would you like to hear my last recording? I just finished editing it”. You can imagine that I was not going to refuse such an offer. Without telling me what it was, he gets up and installs the quarter inch tape on his beautiful professional Studer machine. He then invites me to sit in the middle of the room to hear the stereo sound emanating from his two large speakers. The work lasted a good half an hour and it was a Beethoven Sonata.

Believe it or not, I was not familiar with this sonata but I dared not admit it to a convinced Glenn Gould that I knew for a fact it was the very beautiful Sonata op.2 no 3. At the end of the audition in which no words were spoken -Gould had fixed his gaze on me from the corner of the studio where he had settled, near the long black draperies, making the mood so dark and almost sad, a typical setting of the Gouldian environment, Glenn asks me candidly: “So, what do you think?” What could I answer to such a question coming from the pianist I admired the most in the world and who had just given me an absolutely transcendent, almost surreal experience. “Just superb,” ​​I simply said.

“I’m glad you liked it”, said Gould. Adding: “You know, Daniel, that Beethoven Sonata goes way back in my life”. Indeed it did. It was the very first one he played in public. As a teenager he had played the final movement in a mini-recital for his fellow students at the Conservatory in 1946 (Oct.28). He then played the whole sonata six months later in a complete recital including works by Haydn, Bach, Chopin and Mendelssohn. And that’s it. Never again, until the recording he just made me listen to before it was released by Columbia months later. To this day, whenever I listen to it, I still get goose bumps thinking of that autumn evening spent with a man that so inspired my life.
Here it is, in its original version, not remastered.

Just the way we heard it, Glenn and I.

 

The Erfurt Philharmonic Orchestra tonight named Alexander Prior as its next Generalmusikdirektor, starting a year from now.

Prior, 28, is already chief conductor of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra in Canada.

A former child prodigy composer who studied in St Petersburg, he has four symphonies and several stage works to his name. In his 20s he has gravitated more to conducting.

 

 

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

…If Bruckner married Mahler and hired Wagner and Brahms to tutor their backward child, the infant might have doodled something like Furtwängler’s B-minor symphony. This work is not so much composed as collaged. Trademarked themes of other composers are pasted onto a vast canvas of almost ninety minutes, each movement opening with a tune you know you’ve heard before.

The wholesale theft of classical treasures becomes so blatant that, six minutes into the Adagio, Furtwängler starts churning out chunks of Beethoven’s ninth symphony, as if we’d never know…

Read on here.

And here.

En francais ici.

More languages follow.

The University of Iowa has announced the death of former director of Jazz Studies Ira “John” Rapson. John was 68, a jazz trombonist and composer.

To say that we announce this news with profound sadness is not enough; John was a pillar of the University of Iowa School of Music community, among many others. The influence he had on his students, colleagues, and the world around him was tremendously positive, and he will be dearly missed. 

We understand that Graham Parker ceased on Tuesday to be President Universal Music classics & jazz in the US and has left the company.

There are no other changes to the team.

If there’s more to report, you’ll read it here first, as usual.

Parker, who is English, was previously General Manager of WQXR, the New York classical music radio station. He became US head of Universal just over five years ago.

Last Saturday in Tanglewood, Anne-Sophie Mutter gave the first performance of a violin concerto by John Williams, the second he has written for her.

The concert was streamed by her record label.

Williams and Mutter had previously combined on a topselling release.

This ought to have been newsworthy.

Yet neither the New York Times nor the Boston Globe has apparently published a review.

Why is that?

Too lowbrow?

Here’s a review from Limelight magazine in Australia, which watched the performance on livestream:

The new concerto’s Prologue has a late Mahlerian feel at the start, with a slow solo harp over sustained lower strings. Mutter’s entry on the lower string has a yearning sense, building to a Bartókian intensity with rapid anxious broken runs and the orchestra at full volume. This dies away to a peaceful interlude with harp arpeggios accentuating Mutter’s warm and sensual tone…

It has been announced that Will Gompertz and Sandeep Dwesar will share leadership of the Barbican Centre when managing director Nicholas Kenyon leaves prematurely at the end of the summer.

Gompz,55, was parachuted into the BBC from the Tate, where he had been head of media. Although he lacked journalism exeperience and perspective, he was made BBC News arts editor, one of several dubious appointments under the feckless Tony Hall. In that role, he did very little for long periods. When he showed up it was with soft, unremarkable reporting.

Last month, with exquisite timing, Gompz flipped over to the Barbican as Director of Arts and Learning, a role that had not previously existed. When Kenyon went, he got rapid promotion up the greasy pole.

There seems to have been no proper search process to replace Kenyon. They just bumped up two insiders.

 

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, not a paper prone to strong language, has launched a brutal assault on the calculated eccentricities of the Greek-Russian conductor Teodor Currentzis, who was selected by the Salzburg Festival to conduct Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

In an exceptionally colourful polemic, the veteran commentator and author Jürgen Kesting lets rip:

… After an aesthetic terrorist attack like the Salzburg “Don Giovanni” staged with a mallet, it is not easy to organize one’s thoughts. I found the performance, with ideas and punch lines propelled like grapeshot, a nuisance…. Was it the director or the conductor, both sacred cows?

… Strange that visitors to “Don Giovanni” feted the shameless ego trip of the conductor Teodor Currentzis, who heaved himself onto the stage with his orchestra and was celebrated as the real protagonist in a  blaze of strobe lights. While the public may no longer flock to the former priests of high art, it now harkens to the call of a sect leader, cheering an egomaniac radiated by media fame without suspecting or feeling that it is despised by him.

That’s telling ’em. Read on here.