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April 2018

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Club Free Time Blog

An Early Music Spring

Gail Wein
April 02, 2018

According to the organization Early Music America, March is Early Music Month. But there are so many excellent Baroque programs happening in April, I think that we have an entire season – Early Music Spring – going on in New York City.

For early music in New York, look no further than the Music Before 1800 series. Their offerings this month celebrate the 16th century Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria. On April 8, the vocal group Stile Antico performs Victoria’s motets, and on April 22, the Choir of Corpus Christi Church performs Victoria’s “Missa O magnum mysterium” and sacred works by Guerrero and Morales. Both concerts are at Corpus Christi Church near Columbia University.

Another go-to spot for music from the Baroque era is the Morgan Library and Museum They are hosting the harpsichordist Jean Rondeau performing Bach’s Goldberg Variations on April 19, and New York Baroque Incorporated performing music for viols in a “rush hour” concert on April 24.

The long-lived group Four Nations Ensemble brings a series of intriguing programs to Merkin. On April 9, they’re joined by pianist Spencer Myer in a program of music inspired by the art of Antoine Watteau by Couperin, Rameau, Debussy, Ravel and others.

The Juilliard School has an outstanding Historical Performance program, and this month they present Rameau’s first opera, "Hippolyte et Aricie." Performances are on April 17, 19 and 21 at Sharp Theater at Juilliard.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art brings us early music programs in two very appropriate spaces this month, as part of their Met Live Arts series. "Missa Papae Marcelli" by Palestrina will be performed by The Clarion Choir and Brass Consort from The Clarion Orchestra at the Met's reverberant Medieval Sculpture Hall on April 6. And on April 15, there is a program designed specifically for the Unicorn Tapestries Room at The Met Cloisters. The concert on April 15 features the counter tenor José Lemos accompanied by lute, harp, flute and vielle. Songs by twelfth-century troubadours intertwine with Renaissance court music that dates from the time of the tapestries.

For other early music concerts this month and throughout the year in New York, check out the Gotham Early Music Scene (GEMS) website.

In addition to this abundance of early music performances, I have to also mention a few “unmissable” events this month. The Los Angeles Philharmonic comes to Lincoln Center for two programs conducted by Gustavo Dudamel on April 27 and 29. The cellist Yo-Yo Ma with the Silk Road Ensemble is worth the short trip over the river to NJPAC on April 8, and Kremerata Baltica with pianist Daniil Trifonov come to Carnegie Hall on April 25 and 26.

Happy listening!

A Parade of Pianists and other Happy Tales

Gail Wein
February 28, 2018

We’re in a Golden Age of pianists, some say. In the month of March in New York City, you’ll have an opportunity to see some of the absolute best of the superstars.

One of the hottest names in piano performance lately is Yuja Wang, and she’s performing Brahms Piano Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic February 28 through March 3. Jaap Van Zweden, the Philharmonic’s new music director who takes the reins full time next season, conducts.

Carnegie Hall is, as always, an obvious go-to venue for top keyboard players, and this month is no exception. On March 1, it’s Daniil Trifonov, who is showcased all season as part of the Carnegie Hall “Perspectives” series. He teams up with the pianist Sergei Babayan for a program featuring works for two pianos. Mitsuko Uchida, one of the grand dames of piano, brings two programs full of Schubert’s exquisite piano sonatas on February 26 and March 2. On March 8, Pierre-Laurent Aimard performs Beethoven’s towering Hammerklavier Sonata. The legendary jazz pianist Keith Jarrett brings an evening of solo improvisations to the Carnegie stage on March 21.

A number of other venues feature the ebony and ivory instrument this month. The People’s Symphony concert series brings Lise de la Salle to Town Hall on March 4, the 92nd Street Y presents Angela Hewitt in her continuing Bach Odyssey on March 14 and 18. Also at 92Y, the pianist, author and music historian Stuart Isacoff gives a talk about the pianist Van Cliburn’s triumph in Russia during the Cold War on March 13.

After all that piano music, you’ll have numerous choices for a palate cleanser. And now for something completely different: Benjamin Bagby performs his unique blend of voice, ancient harp and medieval tales at the equally medieval Cloisters on March 4. Also at the Cloisters, music from the Byzantine era in celebration of the Feast of St. Gregory, performed by the vocal ensembles Pomerium and Axion Estin Chanters on March 11. Pipa virtuoso Wu Man performs traditional music on her Chinese lute along with the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band at the NY Society for Ethical Culture on March 17. Classical music in a crypt? Why not? The violinist Lara St. John is featured in the Crypt Sessions series at The Church of the Intercession in Harlem on March 14 and 15.

Morning Star, an opera by Ricky Ian Gordan receives its first New York performances on March 21, 22 and 25 at the Eldridge Street Synagogue. The opera traces the life of an immigrant Jewish family living on the lower east side, affected by the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, World War I and the Great Depression.

As always, plenty of performances to keep you off the streets. Enjoy!

Short on Days, Long on Music

Gail Wein
January 26, 2018

The month of February is short on days, but long on concerts. There is a vast selection of live music to help chase away any winter blues you may have.

February 2 is Groundhog’s Day, the day we’ll find out - according to folklore - if we’ll have an early spring. It’s also the day of Opera Lafayette’s production at the Gerald Lynch Theater of the American premiere of Erminia by Alessandro Scarlatti, and The Enchanted Forest by Francesco Geminiani, performed as a ballet pantomime. Featured is the eye-popping dance troupe Kalanidhi Dance, all in all bringing 17th century opera to life. Tickets at Opera Lafayette’s website.

Speaking of eye-popping baroque music, the ever-energetic band from London, Red Priest, performs at the Met Museum on Feb 28. Their program considers the connections—real and imagined—between gypsy musicians and the court composers of the time, including Telemann, Handel and Vivaldi. Tickets at Met Museum.

It seems like NYC’s major arts institutions pull out all the stops in February, with drool-worthy artists and programs throughout the month. The organist Kent Tritle will literally pull the stops as soloist with the NY Philharmonic when they perform Saint-Saens Symphony No. 3, the Organ Symphony, February 8-9-10.

A few weeks later, February 28 - March 3, the spectacular pianist Yuja Wang performs Brahms with Jaap Van Zweden conducting. If you can get a ticket for NY Philharmonic’s annual Chinese New Year concert on February 20, GO. It never fails to delight.

Carnegie Hall brings in a cluster of “A-list” stars all month, and each one seems like an unmissable program. Baritone Matthias Goerne with pianist Daniil Trifonov deliver a romantic program on February 6, violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk play Mozart, Schubert and more on February 7, the Chicago Symphony performs a program that features the orchestra’s trombones and tuba on February 9 and return on February 10 to play Brahms, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Leonidas Kavakos and pianist Emanuel Ax bring us more Brahms (because, really, we can never have too much Brahms), the Vienna Philharmonic is led by Gustavo Dudamel on February 24 (Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique”) and February 25 (Tchaikovsky’s 4th) and pianist Mitsuko Uchida swoops in with two all-Schubert programs on February 26 and March 2. Whew!

To cap things off, there are a couple of free concerts that are very worthy of your time and attention. The toy piano player (yes, that’s a thing) Phyllis Chen performs in midtown on February 15, and the Harlem Quartet gives a performance in (wait for it……) Harlem on February 22.

Yes, the days are short, the temperatures are low, and we’re months away from the rejuvenating signs of spring. But these phenomenal concert offerings will keep you busy and happy every day of the month.

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Jazz | Jazz gala performance

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Play | A play about imagination

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Concert | Epic tribute concert to one of the greatest R&B singers

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