Thursday, November 4, 2021

The CMG Concert Calendar: November

I should disclaim: I may not actually be at every single one of these concerts. There will be a few with overlapping times. This is my perfect-world list -- if I didn't have to obey the laws of space and time, I would make sure to be at every single one of these performances.

RECURRING

MET OPERAS (all month, I'm too lazy to write out the dates)

Met Opera House | $37 and up
cond. Robertson; Blue, Brugger, Moore, Graves; Ballentine, Owens, Walker
I had a phase with this show, but I only got to see the Broadway version in LA. I'm sure it'll live up to the reviews -- I'm a huge fan of both Angel Blue and Eric Owens.

Met Opera House | $30 and up
cond. Kim; Hartig, Lombardi; Castronovo, Ruciński, Birch Elliott, N. Brownlee
I'm taking a good friend of mine to this. She's never seen an opera. Really, is there a better first opera than the Zeffirelli Bohème? I can't give away any of the plot -- my friend is going to be reading this. I chose this cast very deliberately: Charles Castronovo is supposed to be fabulous. Plus, Nick Brownlee is an old studio member from LA Opera, I remember being very impressed every time I saw him -- it must have been three or four times.

Met Opera House | $30 and up
cond. Nézet-Séguin; Morley; Orliński, Banks, Hopkins, Berg
My best friend and I saw a few snippets of a Eurydice-in-progress at Caramoor a few summers ago. We liked it. I couldn't be in LA for the premiere, but I've only heard good things. It'll be my first time hearing Jakub Józef Orliński live -- that's been a long time coming.

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A FEW PERFORMANCES

November 5 & 6 | The Lab at Alchemical Studios | $20
The folks over at Pleiades Project are friends, but don't let my insistence on ethical disclosure mitigate my actual excitement for the event. I haven't seen a work of musical theater (not counting opera) in at least a year, likely more. And this performance falls into my favorite genre: exhaustively researched, politically charged historical comedy. In my opinion, laughing pairs best with thinking and learning. At time of writing, this is tomorrow, and I'm psyched.

November 10, 12, 14mat | Peter Jay Sharp Theater | $40
An obscure baroque opera that seems to follow me around, Rossi's L'Orfeo is a delightful piece, if not as earth-shattering as Monteverdi's. The only CD of the full opera is garbage, so I always appreciate an opportunity to refresh my memories. I'm going with another friend who played in the pit with me in college -- and she's getting me in for free 😊
EDIT 11/11: I'm seeing this tomorrow, and I just found out that Julie Roset -- a superstar French soprano whose light, clear voice I've gushed about since her first solo album dropped in 2020 -- is playing the lead role of Euridice. Turns out she's finishing up a degree at Juilliard. I couldn't be more excited.

November 6, 7mat | St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church | $15 and up
It was Meistersinger or this. I can't choose Wagner over Monteverdi, it's against my moral code. I don't know the sixth book as well on the whole -- I'm more of a four-and-five person -- but I'm never not excited for Monteverdi. Bring on the ohimès.

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ONE PERFORMANCE

November 6 | Alice Tully Hall | $20
A couple of my best friends are playing in this concert, but it would be on my radar even if that weren't the case. Nothing hits me quite like historically informed early Classical music -- done right, its energy is contagious. I'm not sure exactly when Pablo Heras-Casado got into early music, but he does it now and he does it well.

November 6 | Good Shepherd - Faith Presbyterian Church
Okay, I'm going to be very frank: I can't make this one, I have to support my friends over at Juilliard. But as I said in the last post, I'm a very, very big fan of The Sebastians. They have ideas, interesting ones. This program celebrates newly-400-year-old French poet Jean de la Fontaine and intersperses music and story. I really, really wish I could be in two places at once -- this will be a recurring theme.

November 11 | Church of St. Luke in the Fields | $25
Sherezade Panthaki, soprano
Sherry Panthaki is my former voice teacher, so of course I'm going to this. But again, I'm really, really, really excited. Hearing one's teacher sing is one of life's simple joys -- teachers teach their own technique, and thus are the closest to a perfect example any struggling student will get.

November 14mat | Merkin Hall at Kaufman Center | $25 and up
Another conflict of interest -- the conductor is one of my best friends from school. But he conducts a mean orchestra, and his programming beats the shit out of that of most other ensembles in this city -- and he knows that I wouldn't say that if I didn't mean it from the bottom of my heart.

November 15 | Alice Tully Hall | $30
Nicholas Swensen, viola
Heldenleben is a guilty pleasure. It's big, and loud, and bombastic, and yet so well-constructed. Probably too big for Alice Tully Hall, but the much of the beauty of the piece comes from having your eardrums blown to bits. Also, since I'm not seeing Meistersinger, this is my chance to see Antonio Pappano before he takes another 25-year hiatus from New York (please don't, Tony). 

November 18 | The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture | $30
November 21 | Flushing Town Hall | $25
Most of these concerts have been on my radar for a while. I found out about this performance approximately an hour ago, and it may be the one I'm most excited for this entire month. The Cramer Quartet get rave reviews everywhere they go. The Haydn Seven Last Words are among the finest quartet pieces ever written. That lineup of composers is so New York -- plus, bonus points on new music for old instruments, the Cramer Quartet play on classical setups. Plus, one of my dearest friends and collaborators is designing projections. Camilla, if you read this: why didn't you tell me about this sooner???

Monday, November 1, 2021

Some October Highlights and Beyond

New York's "leading young early-music ensemble"
perhaps looking a touch younger than they do today
(God, I'm going to get myself killed one of these days...)

For someone who insisted that he was re-taking the classical criticism world by storm, I've been pretty quiet these past five or so weeks. Time, it stops for no one. Motivation has been hard to come by. I know I'll never have more time for personal projects than I do right now, and yet every time I think about, say, writing a full-length article, my stomach turns. I feel somewhere on the cusp of too busy, burnt out, and just plain lazy -- but some of those things are constants in my life.

I've still been going to concerts -- it's not like I have so many other hobbies. A few highlights from the past month:

  • The Sebastians performing music by Bach and friends with live-produced paintings. Embarrassingly, I actually still owe them a review -- they were kind enough to give me a press ticket. A lovely program, lovely playing, lovely conversation after. You'll read more on them soon, but for now: Daniel, Nick, Ezra, Jeff, and Karl, if you're reading this, consider me your biggest fan.
  • Terence Blanchard's Fire Shut Up In My Bones at the Met -- standing room only. Absolutely destroyed my lower back, but well worth the pain.
  • Voces8 later that same day. My first time seeing them live. Left me conflicted, but satisfied.
  • Robert Ashley's eL/Aficionado at Roulette in Brooklyn. My date, editor, friend, and once review topic Anna Heflin wrote a phenomenal review that followed the strange format of the piece.
  • Brahms chamber music with Garrick Ohlsson and the Tákacs Quartet. Tákacs plays Brahms in a way that makes me think they excel at Bártok (they do). Slightly choppy, but hey, Brahms is comfort food -- a slightly soggy French fry is better than no French fry at all.

And then, all of a sudden, it was November. Spooky, huh?

Clearly, I'm a little tired of the conventional review. I mean, the joy of reviewing comes from some idea that one's opinion matters. I've asked myself this question for the the last eighteen months -- why does it matter what I think? -- and I still can't figure it out.

So instead, I'm going to approach the concert from the other side: looking forward. I'm in the process of assembling a list of the concerts that I'm most excited for this month. Think of it as the Classical Music Geek concert calendar, a curated selection from other NYC-area lists, highly targeted Facebook ads, and things my friends are performing. (Just because I'm quick to disclose a conflict of interest doesn't mean I'm not also super excited.) Hopefully, I can provide some value to the reader, not just to the performer -- although, every time a performer quotes me in the Press section of their website, my heart does sing a little bit.

But that's too many words for right now -- first, sleep. Look out for that calendar in the next couple days.