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Backstage And Beyond

One of the specialties of the Harriman-Jewell Series has been to present recital debuts—either world or U.S. debuts—of budding young opera stars. On March 5th at the Folly the headline-grabbing young American tenor Stephen Costello will present the 20th such debut, following in a distinguished line that has included Luciano Pavarotti, June Anderson, Carol Vaness, Ben Heppner, Sergei Leiferkus, Salvatore Licitra, […]

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How does one pay suitable homage to Henry Fogel, arts visionary, longtime orchestra executive, and current dean and distinguished professor of the arts at Roosevelt University? For the League of American Orchestras, which Henry led from 2003 to 2008, the best way to honor the man who has fought tirelessly for the continued importance of classical music […]

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When we listen to Bach’s keyboard music today, do we hear the same thing he did 300 years ago? It’s the kind of question that spurs musicians and lay music-lovers alike to ponder and explore historical practices. For example: Anyone who took a music history class in the last century was probably taught that Bach […]

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Evan Luskin, who joined the Lyric Opera of Kansas City in 1986 and has  been its general director since 1998, announced on March 15th that he would retire at the end of the 2011-2012 season, the company’s  first year in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. Luskin, who led the Lyric from a small regional company […]

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Composers have long delighted in creating elaborate narrative “programs” for their instrumental works, then instructing us not to rely on the programs too much, or even asking us to ignore them altogether. At issue is a tension over whether a piece conceived programmatically can also stand on its own as “pure” music. Avner Dorman’s new Piano Concerto […]

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Can one woman change the direction of a culture? We all know the answer is yes, but it’s still gratifying to see it when it happens. Among her multifarious other accomplishments Valerie Naranjo —a native of Colorado who has played with the Saturday Night Live band and for the Broadway hit The Lion King — is credited with having helped […]

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It’s not often that a 12-minute piece by a living American composer proves to be the musical highlight of a two-hour concert of classical favorites. Usually the “modern” piece is that cacophonous thing that you grin and bear to get through to the good stuff. But at Friday’s season-opening concert by the Kansas City Symphony, […]

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Choreographer David Parsons’ earnest new piece Remember Me takes as its ambition to do Jesus Christ Superstar and Movin’ Out one better, by creating not just rock-opera or rock-ballet but rock-opera-ballet. Its conceit seems reasonable enough: to tell a love story through dance in collaboration with singers of the East Village Opera Company, a group that in recent years has achieved fame/notoriety for creating big-boned […]

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Are you as tired as I am of country singers and demagogues telling you what it is that makes America great? Freedom, family values, guns, pickup trucks. Choreographer Paul Taylor embodies, as much as any American I know, the values that have made this country strong:  At 79, he still works like the devil every day, using […]

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