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Backstage And Beyond

Verdi’s Rigoletto rings true because, like much great art, it deals in subject matter that most of us can relate to. A loving father smothers his teenage daughter with overprotective zeal, and the sheltered girl falls for the first guy who gives her the time of day. (The guy, naturally, turns out to be a jerk.) Old […]

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For about the first 20 years of my acquaintance with Joseph Flummerfelt’s artistry, I had no idea what he looked like. He was the silent presence behind great recordings of choral-orchestral works by the New York Philharmonic and other orchestras that I and many Americans cut our classical teeth on. As director of the Westminster College Choir […]

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Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is a restless soul. When he plays a piece like Schubert’s “Arpeggione” Sonata, which he has no doubt played hundreds of times, you can feel him struggle to take a new look at each phrase and gesture, each dynamic shading, each mood shift — so that the piece can remain fresh not just for […]

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Verdi’s Rigoletto is like a Lifetime Movie Network potboiler, complete with contrived crises, gratuitous violence and a cast of inexplicably mean characters who only occasionally seem like real people. The Lyric Opera’s current production rarely flinches from the work’s unseemly tawdriness, and that is, in some measure, its strength. It leaves us feeling even ickier than we […]

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It’s not often you get to attend a standing-room-only classical concert in Kansas City. So many choral fans showed up for the thrilling rendering of Brahms’ German Requiem at the UMKC Conservatory’s White Hall, featuring mega-conductor Joseph Flummerfelt and Conservatory forces, that the house managers left the entrances open so that the throng of overflow audience could hear the […]

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In 1975, Cynthia Siebert had a dream. She began by holding concerts in local homes, inviting top musicians to perform music of Bach, Beethoven, Schumann and others. But these were not just social soirees, Cynthia says. “The vision was always to make a fine chamber music series.” That’s exactly what she did. Over the last 35 years, […]

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Orchestra musicians love Mahler’s music because it’s fun to play. Hard work, yes. But what other music of the Austro-Germanic repertoire has the clarinetists raise their bells and point them straight at the audience, or lets the concertmaster play a solo on a mistuned violin, or asks the timpanist to come down hard on the […]

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Europeans have a different concept of the passage of time than we do. The “New College” at Oxford and the famous choir associated with it were founded in the 14th century (imagine how old the oldcollege was!). Six centuries later the Choir of New College continues to sing services six days a week at one of […]

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We have a fascination with tales of man-made things that come to life — whether to fascinate us (Pinocchio), hurt us (Frankenstein) or steal our hearts (Tales of Hoffmann, the Pygmalion of Greek mythology). In ballet, the favorite doll-come-to-life-(but-not-really) story is Coppélia, the tale of a mysterious inventor who creates a beautiful doll that is so lifelike […]

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