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Friday, June 20, 2008

Classical Preview

PianoArts of Wisconsin has come a long way in the eight years since its first competition. With the 2008 National Biennial Piano Competition and Music Festival running this week June 20-24 in the Milwaukee area, PianoArts has attracted some serious young talent. The 10 finalists hail from six states, including homelands of China, Singapore and Japan to compete for over $18,000 in prize money including scholarships. But as stiff as the competition is to make the Top Ten, so are the requirements, which this year include raising the contestants’ ages to 15-19 to allow for college students to compete. In addition, the Competition’s three finalists will perform . . .
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Classical Review

The automatic, meaningless standing ovation has been out of control in the U.S. for years. Does it come from the American need to overstate everything? Maybe it indicates a lack of standards. It is refreshing to attend performances in Germany and Austria, where knowledgeable audiences applaud appreciatively at length, but never stand up. I am accustomed to being the only one sitting during applause, and am familiar with the resulting looks I get. It is a ridiculous situation. A good performance does not merit a “standing O.”
Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Classical Review

I have thought about violinist Hilary Hahn more than any other musician who works the concerto circuit. She has played here often, nearly every season for many years now, returning last weekend to play with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. I certainly am intrigued by her phenomenal technique and the clarity of her musicality. Beyond that, she has a mystery about her that I find both fascinating and frustrating. I never feel as if I know her when she leaves the stage. At 28 this formerly waifish prodigy now understandably wants to be seen as a young woman. One only needed to look at her concert dress, black and decidedly adult, with a plunging neckline, to get the message. Hahn played the iconic Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, which she is performing with several orchestras through the coming fall . . .
Sunday, June 1, 2008

Today @ the Marcus Center - 2:30 p.m.

Munich-born guest conductor Jun Markl oversees the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s latest program, From Germany to Russia, which features violinist Hilary Hahn. The program kicks off with a timely performance of Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major, “Spring,” and concludes with Tchaikovsky’s striking . . .
Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tonight @ the Marcus Center - 8 p.m.

Munich-born guest conductor Jun Markl oversees the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s latest program, From Germany to Russia, which features violinist Hilary Hahn. The program kicks off with a performance of Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 in B-flat major, “Spring,” and concludes with Tchaikovsky’s striking Violin Concerto . . .
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Classical Preview

Describing a piece of music that combines Russian folk music and Asian-inflected themes as “the peace-loving songs of the conquered and their conquerors joined in harmony” may be an almost alien thought to our 21st-century ears, but such was the thinking of many composers during the 19th . . .
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Classical Review

The Mass in B minor by Johann Sebastian Bach is one of the marvels of musical accomplishments. Its composer seemed to believe that God is, among other attributes, the ultimate intellect. This music achieves its exaltation through rigorous depth, exploring the expansion of every Baroque musical form and compositional device. The Mass in B Minor, performed by Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra last weekend, is a mountain Andreas Delfs obviously wanted to climb with the orchestra and chorus. It was an inspired journey. There are certain trade-offs that are givens when a traditional symphony orchestra and chorus present a major Baroque work such as this.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Classical Preview

When Johann Sebastian Bach set himself to work on a new composition, it was normally just a matter of days, at most a week or two, before it was finished. Such was certainly not the case with his Mass in B Minor, BWV 232. The fourth part (Sanctus) dates from 1724; the first two parts (Kyrie and Gloria) were completed in 1733; the third part (Credo), as well as the work’s final autograph score, date from 1748, just two years before . . .
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Violinist Hilary Hahn at the MSO

Violinist Hilary Hahn is an artist who seems to have emerged on the classical scene like a rare plant fully grown—an entity so perfectly and unobtrusively developed that the effortless maturity of her craft belies her youthful years. Born in Lexington, Va., 28 years ago, she began playing the violin shortly before her fourth birthday, studied for years under Russian teacher Klara Berkovich and made her first major orchestral debut with the Baltimore Symphony in 1991, when she was 12. Soon after, she appeared with the Philadelphia Orchestra, then the Cleveland, followed by the Pittsburgh and the New York Philharmonic, all by the tender age of 15. Next she would debut in Germany, playing Beethoven with the Bavarian Radio Symphony under Lorin Maazel.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Dance Preview

Eclecticism will be emphasized at the season finale of the Milwaukee Ballet, according to Artistic Director Michael Pink. "We try to showcase a number of different styles,” he says. “My aim throughout the year is to find a balance between audience expectations, what everyone is used to and would like to see, and the production of challenging, fresh material."

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