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Festivals & Concerts: April 2008 Archives

Richard Wagner's Family Legacy

Katharina Wagner, Richard Wagner's Great Granddaughter

Wagner's grandson steps down as Bayreuth director


Richard Wagner's grandson is resigning after 57 years as director of the Bayreuth Festival, officials said Tuesday, but the long-running family feuds over who will succeed him are set to continue.

"Wolfgang Wagner has announced his resignation," Markus Gnad, spokesman for the Bavarian culture ministry, told AFP.

Officially, it was not yet known who will succeed Wagner as director of the prestigious annual festival nor when he would formally step down, Gnad said.

However, observers see it as a done-deal that his two daughters, Eva, 63, and Katharina, 29, will run Bayreuth jointly.

Wolfgang has always insisted that his appointment was for life, and stubbornly refused to step aside, despite pressure from the festival's decision-making body, the Stiftungsrat. But earlier this month he indicated that he might compromise and allow Eva and Katharina to take over.

Read more about this at the AFP website:

Paul Hindemith's "Lost" Piano Concerto


Local premiere, first recording of the elusive Hindemith

By David Patrick Stearns
Philadelphia Inquirer

Piano concertos by major composers don't disappear quietly and aren't easily hidden.

Though Paul Hindemith's Klaviermusik mit Orchester was silenced for more than eight decades by the illustrious Austrian family that paid for its creation, it dangled just out of reach of those who knew of its existence, locked up in a Bucks County farmhouse, with access blocked intractably and repeatedly whenever anyone – whether Hindemith's estate or Philadelphia conductor Jonathan Sternberg – came close.

Finally discovered in 2002, Klaviermusik had an acclaimed 2004 world premiere in Berlin, and will be recorded for the first time, live in concert, at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Kimmel Center with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.

Not just another Hindemith work, Klaviermusik quickly has become one of the composer's most-played concertos, performed by the New York Philharmonic and San Francisco Symphony, and garnering musical satisfaction that almost justifies the exasperating Viennese intrigue surrounding it.

Read more about this at the Philadelphia Inquirer website:

Building an Audience at the Barbican

Barbican Arts Centre, voted London's 'ugliest building'

'Ugly' Barbican Arts Center in London Gets Stripe-Clad New Boss

By Farah Nayeri

Nicholas Kenyon brightens his wardrobe in unexpected ways.

The 57-year-old director of London's Barbican Centre – Europe's largest multidisciplinary arts complex – pairs a gray Paul Smith suit with socks bearing a red, green, blue and black grid design.

"I like a flash of color now and again," he says with a chuckle, flipping over his jacket sleeve to reveal similar lining. "I just like not to be totally drab."

Six months into the job, Kenyon is making sure the Barbican isn't totally drab, either. After 11 years running the BBC Proms – the world's largest classical-concert festival, where 272,000 tickets sold last year for as little as 5 pounds ($10) – he hopes to lure a similar broad-based audience to the cavernous Barbican, where conductor Valery Gergiev, musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson and sitar master Ravi Shankar are on the slate.

Read the Interview at the Bloomberg website:

Best Concert in the Solar System

Planets fo the Solar System

Classical tribute to the planets

By Michael Cameron
Chicago Tribune

It is a conundrum often faced by passionate music lovers. How does one proselytize on behalf of a noble obsession without dumbing down the subject for the sake of the uninitiated?

Chicago Symphony Orchestra's "Beyond the Score" series has been an exemplar of musical outreach, moving past the eat-your-vegetables lectures that can leave a bitter aftertaste on the palate of would-be enthusiasts.

Sunday the series continued with Gustav Holst's "The Planets," a work of grand cinematic scope and arguably a better channel for aural-to-ocular sensation than the touchstones of French Impressionism.

Led by conductor Charles Dutoit, the multimedia spectacle included images from ancient astrological documents, Holst's handwritten score and photographs from the Hubble space telescope. Series director Gerard McBurney wove elements from a number of disciplines into his captivating narrative, with astronomical, astrological and historical references, served up with expert timing even a theater critic would admire.

Read more about this at the Chicago Tribune website:,1,631528.story

Top European Music Festivals

Ensemble L'Aura Soave performing at the Monteverdi Festival, Cremona 2001

Europe's top classical music festivals

By Alexandra Ferguson
The Telegraph

Time your holiday to tie in with one of Europe's classical music festivals. Alexandra Ferguson picks 10 of the best.

The final notes of a Bach partita reverberate in the still air of the Thomaskirche. A string quartet plays beneath flamboyant frescoes in an Austrian palace. And in Bayreuth, Brünnhilde charges once more into the flames.

Soon the summer music festival season will be upon us, and the world's top orchestras and conductors, soloists and chamber groups will converge on the towns and cities where the great composers lived and worked, to perform in palaces and churches, town halls and theatres.

From obscure suites played on period instruments to familiar orchestral works, there is music to suit the casual listener as well as the connoisseur. And with ticket offices open for advance bookings, if you are thinking of combining a holiday with some of the best classical concerts in Europe, you should be making plans already.

Read more about this at the The Telegraph website:'s-top-classical-music-festivals.html

Montreal in New York

Kent Nagano by Hanya Chlala/Erato

Supercharged Solo Followed by a Cosmic Energy Riot

By Anthony Tommasini

That the Montreal Symphony Orchestra sounded so terrific at Carnegie Hall on Saturday night should reassure longtime admirers of this top-tier ensemble. The orchestra has had a rough few years.

In 2002 Charles Dutoit, the music director who had taken the orchestra to new realms of excellence, abruptly resigned over what he asserted were challenges to his artistic authority. In response, many players went public with stories of longstanding animosity between Mr. Dutoit and orchestra members. In 2003 it was announced that Kent Nagano would become the new music director, but not until 2006. Then in 2005, for the second time in a decade, the players went on strike, staging a five-month work stoppage.

But the musicians seem very content with Mr. Nagano, who began Saturday's program with a glowing, refined yet urgent performance of symphonic fragments from Debussy's "Martyre de St. Sébastien." This 20-minute, four-movement suite was drawn by the composer André Caplet from an elaborate score, including choruses and dance music, that Debussy composed for a play by Gabriele d'Annunzio in 1911.

Read more about this at the New York Times website: