Archive pour November, 2011

A cookbook for opera lovers

30 November 2011

Your loved one listens to opera while he (or she) prepares dinner? You are constantly on the lookout for new recipees and would like a musical twist to them as well? I’ve got the perfect book for you. (After all, Christmas is just around the corner, right?)

The Opera Cooks is a collector’s item, as it features photos and recipes from today’s greatest opera stars. The book was only available in German until recently but you can now order this 280-page hardcover online (or ask your bookstore to order it in for you). The look and feel is truly glamourous and capture divas and divos in very humorous poses .

Some behind the action footage here:


28 November 2011

The snowfall we had a few days ago reminded you that Christmas is just around the corner but you are not ready quite yet for “traditional” Christmas music?

Why not listen to an album of Provencal Noels, as performed by Strada et Miquèu Montanaro. Entirely sung in Occitan, Colinda is based on a 17th century manuscript kept at Avignon Cathedral in Provence, the Noëls de Notre-Dame des Doms, as well as some noels by Nicolas Saboly (1614-1675).

To discover the album…

Are critics useful?

26 November 2011

Good reviews can be as harmful as bad ones. Or so this is what American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim (winner of numerous Tonys and Grammys) believes. He writes in his new book, Look, I made a hat:

“It takes a long time to learn not to pay attention to critics, or at least not to let them distract you. For the young writer, critics have a number of destructive effects. If they praise you, you suffer afterwards by disappointing them; few writers who have a smash hit the first time out survive to be more than one-trick ponies. When the critics pan you, your confidence is shattered, but you gain a certain resilience, if for no other reason than there’s nowhere to go but up. It isn’t necessarily the criticism that hurts, of course, because you can choose not to believe it; it’s the fact that it’s out there in public, that thousands of people are witnessing your humiliation.”

You can read an excerpt from the book here…

Voices of hope

24 November 2011

Maison du Parc is marking its 20th anniversary of assisting individuals living with HIV/AIDS with a concert to be held tomorrow night, 7:30 p.m., at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul.  Mozart’s magnificent Requiem and Exultate hubilate will be performed to mark this special occasion.

Guest artists are musicians from the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, soprano Marie-Ève Munger, countertenor Daniel Taylor, tenor Isaiah Bell and baritone Sanford Sylvan, and the choir of the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, all placed under the direction of Jordan de Souza.

The concert pays tribute to those who have lost their battle with HIV/AIDS and brings attention to those living with it, including the need for ongoing health care, education and prevention initiatives as well as continued support and understanding.

Admission is $25 at the door or tickets can be bought at 514.523.6467 or Funds raised will support the initiatives and residents of Maison du Parc.

Saint Cecilia

22 November 2011

November 22 is Saint Cecilia’s Day. Several composers have written music inspired by the musicians’ patron saint, including Purcell and Haydn. You can discover  some of those works in this documentary.

Happy day to all musicians and music lovers!

The challenges behind the acoustics of the Maison symphonique

21 November 2011

In September,  music lovers were enthusiastic to finally hear the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s full potential, in a hall that has had to overcome many obstacles before being built. More than 20 000 people, most of which had never set foot in a concert hall before flocked en masse to take the grand tour during the Open House events held the first week. Nevertheless,  Tateo Nakajima, partner in charge and lead acoustics designer of the project, is convinced that the inauguration of the hall should not be perceived as a finish line, but as the starting point for the orchestra to learn to work under new conditions. I met with him, Richard Roberts, Concertmaster of the orchestra since 1982, Paul Merkelo, Principal Trumpet since 1995 and Marianne Perron, Director of Music Programming, to discuss where do we go from here, for an article published in the November 5 issue of Classical Music, a British trade magazine.

Here is an excerpt: (more…)

Classical music well represented at the GG

18 November 2011

Winners of this year’s Governor General’s Literary Awards 2011 were announced three days ago and the author George Leroux was saluted in the “French essay” category for his book: Wanderer : essai sur le Voyage d’hiver de Franz Schubert (Wanderer: an essay on Franz Schubert’ Winterreise), a book published by Éditions Nota Bene. The jury stated that the book was “pretext to a beautiful white requiem”. The book mixes essay, poetry and photo in a somptuous literary object.

The author’s previous book was also noticed, this time in the “translation” category. The jury explained: “Partita for Glenn Gould, Donald Winkler’s translation of Georges Leroux’s brilliant essay, shines with the musicality of language that reflects Gould’s life and creative discovery. Winkler expresses the depth of feeling and baroque complexity of the original text with impressive sensitivity, dexterity and precision. A masterful performance, at once learned and lyrical, it is a tour de force.”

Georges Leroux will be signing books at the Salon du livre de Montréal tomorrow from 2 to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 2 p.m.


16 November 2011

Paul Hindemith was born on November 16,1895 in Hanau (near Francfort-on-the-Main). Composer and conductor, he was also a violist who played at the Francfort Opera and, from 1921 to 1929, as violist for the famous Amar Quartet, which championed the avant-garde repertoire. He thaught composition at the Berlin Conservatory and then in Switzerland, from 1938 on, following conflicts with Nazi authorities. In 1940, he left for the United States and taught composition at Yale University. In 1951, he came back to Europe and became head of the musicology departement at the Zurich University.  He died on December 23, 1963, in Francfort.

His rhythmic way of approaching music is called Motorik (motorism), and intended to represent the industrial era in sound. His music is also referred to as Gebrauchsmusik, utilitarian music. Hindemith wrote more than100 works. You can discover his beautiful Harp sonata on Révélation, Valérie Milot’s recital.

Zum Geburstag Fanny

14 November 2011

If I say Mendelssohn, of course, you will automatically think of Felix, a child prodigy and prolific composer who wrote numerous works in the course of his too short life span. But we all should also think of Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn, his older sister, born on November 14, 1805, in Hamburg.

Raised in a family in which culture and learning played essential roles (her grand-father was philosopher Moses Mendelsssohn), she received the same education her brother did, including piano and composition lessons. Despite her obvious talent, her father nevertheless cut short a possible carreer in the field. As he wrote to her on July 16, 1820: “Music will perhaps be for him (Felix) a profession but for you, it can be only considered a hobby.”

Fanny married in 1829 painter Wilhelm Hensel, organised Sunday morning concerts in Berlin’s Elternhaus from 1843 on, but never stopped composing. She wrote more than 450 works, including a Piano Trio and numerous lieder and works for solo piano. Six of the first songs attributed to her brother Felix are in fact by her, including Italy, a favourite of Queen Victoria.

She died in Berlin from apoplexia on May 14, 1847.  You can learn more about her here…

New album for the OSM

11 November 2011

Yesterday morning was launched, at the foyer Allegro of the Maison symphonique de Montréal, the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal’s latest album Human Misery – Human Love, devoted to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and its “Ode to Joy.” This mythical work of the repertoire was recorded live, last September, during the festivities surrounding the inauguration of the new home of the Orchestra

“Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a singular work with a unique place in the history of European culture and music,” explained Kent Nagano, music director of the OSM. “The idea that emerges is permeated by the desire and effort to view the world and life as it were holistically, and subordinate one’s conception of the work accordingly.”
The work possesses a unique status in music history, but also it affected the way in which concert experience was to be perceived from that moment on.”No other musical work has exerted such far-reaching influence as Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has upon the subsequent development of symphonic music and the cultural practices of middle-class society,” says Nagano. “No work has had to stand its ground as this composition has done in the clash of opinions and judgments. Nevertheless it has shown an unbroken topicality which continues to this day.”

The album is offered at a special introductory price…