Saturday, October 1, 2022

The CMG Concert Calendar: October 2022


Owls quartet -- any group that takes headshots
with a teddy bear is one I want to see!

Friends, I'm going to keep it short this month -- I just did the math, and the number of words I'm set to write in October is....dizzying. Look our for my upcoming bylines in Early Music America, Musical America, Opera News, and more!

In between sleepless nights and due dates, here's where you'll find me:

thru Oct 28 | Metropolitan Opera House | $32.50+

thru Oct 21 | Metropolitan Opera House | $32.50+

thru Oct 8 | Corpus Christi Church | $10+

Oct 1, 6pm | Anthology Film Archives | $25
Experiments in Opera's absurdist Chunky in Heat was an early review of my 50-concert summer of 2019, and I remember loving it. (You can go look for that article if you want, I'm sure as hell not leading you to it.) Plus, I'm tracing the anthropological progression of opera-TV after reviewing Boston Lyric and Long Beach Opera's desert in last year -- so I guess I'll go walk the red carpet for science!

Oct 2, 4pm | Corpus Christi Church | $10+
The Boston Camerata medieval and renaissance Christmas albums are a holiday staple in my (Jewish) household. Their director, Anne Azéma, has been top-of-mind lately, with honors from Early Music America and the French government -- I can't wait to see her take on 19th-century American spirituals.

Oct 6, 7:30pm | St. Ignatius Antioch | $25+
Most famous for their fabulous, 16-million-view Pachelbel Canon YouTube video (among many others), Voices of Music plays NYC for the first time this month. Countertenor Christopher Lowrey (who made a hilarious MET debut as Guildenstern in last season's Hamlet) features in arias of Handel and Vivaldi. Plus, Juilliard415 grad violinists Augusta McKay Lodge and Shelby Yamin alternate concertos with their one-time teacher, Elizabeth Blumenstock, including one by Italian Mozart contemporary Maddalena Laura Sirmen.

Oct 14, 6:30 & 8pm | Church of the Intercession | $85
I'm writing about this at length for another publication, so I'll keep it brief, but this piece -- Nico Muhly's first for solo harp, with interpolations by legendary librettist-poet Alice Goodman -- is insanely cool.

Oct 15, 2 & 7:30pm | Carnegie Hall (Weill) | pretty close to sold out
I must be the one person on earth to have been a fan of Francesco Turrisi before I discovered Rhiannon Giddens. Turrisi is a keyboardist for L'Arpeggiata, the early music ensemble that ostensibly turned me on to music written before 1750. He and Rhiannon Giddens -- partners both onstage and off -- make a mighty pair for thoughtful music that treads lines between old-time, classical, and folk.

Oct 15, 8pm | Town Hall | $57+
I've had Meredith Monk's Memory Game stuck in my head since the album dropped in late March of 2020. This cast is studded with stars -- not an unexpected confluence of industry dynamos, but a hard-hitting one nonetheless.

Oct 16-Nov 12 | Metropolitan Opera House | $32.50+
Allan Clayton got a lot of great press for his Grimes in London earlier this year, including this poignant profile from The Times. He made his MET debut in Brett Dean's Hamlet last season; now I'm excited to hear him in something meatier (and better).

Oct 17 & 18, 7:30pm | Baryshnikov Arts Center | $20
The single best way to get me to a concert is to program Couperin's tender rondeau Les Barricades Mysterieuses (The Mysterious Barricades -- no one quite knows where Couperin sourced his titles). Owls is a recent project of new music's burgeoning young names: Avery Fisher Career Grantee violinist Alexi Kenney, Aizuri Quartet violist Ayane Kozasa, cellist and new music chameleon Gabriel Cabezas, and acclaimed cellist-composer Paul Wiancko. Together, the four play arrangements and commissions for the rare configuration of double-cello string quartet -- Arensky would be proud!

Oct 18, 8pm | Carnegie Hall (Stern) | $20+
On his recent recording, Igor Levit worked magic with Shostakovich's 24 Preludes and Fugues, a two-and-a-half-hour behemoth modeled after the Well-Tempered ClavierI missed Levit's recital last year -- appealing as the program was, I didn't want to take the risk during the height of Omicron. This year, I'll make no such mistake. 

Oct 22, 8pm | Church of Saint Mary the Virgin | $30+

Oct 23, 4pm | Corpus Christi Church | $10+

When Vox Luminis comes to town, I clear my schedule. It's as simple as that. Saturday night is sacred Monteverdi; Sunday is all Bach family. I urge you to pick at least one. Trust me.

Oct 25, 8pm | Carnegie Hall (Stern) | $31.50+
I'm an East Coast bunny now, but I miss my hometown orchestra something awful, especially after working closely with them for a year. Part of that homesickness is for Disney Hall specifically, but I'll take them in Carnegie -- especially to hear María Dueñas play Gabriela Ortiz's new violin concerto.

Oct 27, 7:30pm | Carnegie Hall (Stern) | pretty close to sold out
Jean Rondeau is the ittest of it-boy harpsichordists, famous for his fanciful, almost metal takes on Baroque's finest. His recent recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations got lots of fabulous press, and as part of the belated U.S. release tour, he stops in Carnegie's small recital hall. This is another of those dying-with-anticipation concerts -- I've been looking forward to seeing Rondeau live since I first heard his recordings in....2016?

Saturday, September 3, 2022

The CMG Concert Calendar: September 2022 (We're Back!)

Teatro Real Orchestra

After a busy summer of tying off loose threads and starting new ones, I'm itching to get back into the concert hall — musically, it's been a dry season in NYC absent the once-robust Mostly Mozart Festival. And of course, I had COVID straight through two of my favorite August events: the TIME:SPANS festival, a haven for the most mind-rending of contemporary music, and dell'Arte Opera Ensemble's three-show season, where the most promising artists of tomorrow's opera world make themselves known. (I did get to one TIME:SPANS show of 13, a fabulous program of works by Eric Wubbels and Catherine Lamb with the JACK Quartet. It was the same day I exited quarantine. No rest for the wicked.)

And now, September heralds the start of NYC's busy concert routine, difficult choices, FOMO, and all. Most of the big companies don't open until late in the month (or early next), but there's plenty to whet the appetite.

A quick personal note: this may be my last post in this space. As Blogger continues to age, I think it's time to jump ship. The plan is to start a Substack newsletter for listings, reviews, and recommendations, to be archived on my forthcoming personal website. My new-season resolution is to publicize myself for real — more posts on social media, more self-promotion, more presence in the music world's collective consciousness. It's big talk, but hopefully I'll find the time to switch!

Sept 10, 5pm | Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church | $30+
It's The Sebastians' tenth anniversary, and they've lined their eight-concert season with plenty of music by their namesake, J.S. Bach. They open with a program that features a couple of Brandenburg concerti and works by Bach sons and friends, some comfort food to start a season that includes singing, dancing, video, new music, old music, and a Louis XIV-sized string band (the largest The Sebastians have ever assembled). And they're experimenting with this new 5pm Saturday slot — if it means I can see another concert at 7:30, I'm all in favor!

Sept 14, 7:30pm | Roulette Intermedium | pay what you can ($20 suggested, students free)
Kate Soper's newest work, an infernal, self aware satire, celebrates Wet Ink Ensemble's Artists-in-Residence (drummer-composer Vicente Hansen Atria and composer-playwright Rick Burkhart) in tandem with "Alien chamber-folk" septet Orlando Furioso, who stand on the cusp of their first album release (October 9). What does "alien chamber-folk" entail? I plan to find out.

Sept 15, 8:30pm | Carnegie Hall (Stern/Perelman) | $12.50 and up
Decades of snarky comments about how "French composers write the best Spanish music" (ugh) have cheapened the masterful colors of de Falla, Albéniz and company, and I'm here to dispel that notion once and for all: turn-of-the-20th-century Spanish music is really fantastic stuff. Madrid's Teatro Real was named the best opera company of 2021 by the International Opera Awards, a conglomerate that seems powerful, if not totally objective. But hey, I'll bite, especially for an opportunity to hear pianist Javier Perianes live. And no one ever performs zarzuela — Spain's opera-adjacent heritage theatrical form — in the U.S., so I'm in it as much for the education as the enjoyment.

Sept 16 (8pm) & 18 (3pm) | Park Avenue Armory | $55
In between high-profile roles at the world's foremost opera houses, Emily D'Angelo is spending the '22-'23 season touring her October 2021 debut album, enargeia, The program includes new Hildegard arrangements. plus new works by Missy Mazzoli, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Hildur Guðnadóttir. Lately, D'Angelo has been turning heads in the early music sphere, garnering praise for her Handel and Mozart — and prowesses in early and new music often go hand in hand. (I don't know why I'm speculating, I've heard the album. It's great.)

Sept 16, 17, 23, 24, 8pm | Irondale Center | $25+
Lili Boulanger left more than 50 works when she died in 1918 aged only 24 — in my opinion, the most tragically early death of any composer in the 20th century, and one of the most tragic in music history. But short as her life was, her singular musical language stands in a distinct vein from those of her French contemporaries (think Debussy and Ravel). NCO mounts a staging of Boulanger's cantata Faust et Hélène, a loose adaptation of Goethe's Faust which garnered Boulanger the prestigious Prix de Rome at age 19. To complement, Ravel's Spain-flavored comedy L'heure espagnole.

Sept 18, 4pm | Holy Trinity Lutheran Church | $30+ ($10 students/seniors)
An actual (paraphrased) conversation I had with TENET's General Manager at their last concert in April:
CMG: So, any spoilers for next season?
GM: I can't give you much, but I can tell you we've got some great Bach on tap.
CMG: Ooh, maybe the motets?
GM: ....If I told you, I'd have to kill you.
Even though TENET is only doing five of the six motets (where's the love for Lobet?), I'm still content in both my prescience and their programming. Plus, Telemann instrumental music never disappoints.

Sept 22, 8pm | Merkin Hall, Kaufman Center | $25+
Again, the folks at Parlando are friends — doubly so this time, with harp soloist Parker Ramsay. But Parlando always puts on a show worth seeing, and this is a great intro to some great music. Debussy's double dances for harp and strings don't get played too often (I hear they're fiendishly difficult), unlike the cavatina (Op. 130) and Grosse Fuge (Op. 133) from Beethoven's later quartet oeuvre. They're popular for a reason! Reena Esmail's Teen Murti tableaux, apt representations of Esmail's signature Hindustani-Western mix, start the program.

Sept 27-Oct 28 | Metropolitan Opera House | $30+
Bummed as I am that this is Cherubini's Medea and not the Barber's (turns out that one is a ballet with vocalists, potato potahto), this should be a fascinating production. There are few opera stars who singers laud as highly as Sondra Radvanovsky, and this role — a Callas favorite — provides plenty of room for fireworks. David McVicar, a Met favorite for Italian opera, directs.

Sept 27-Oct 8 | Park Avenue Armory | $40+
The Rothko Chapel opened in 1971, one year after Mark Rothko died by his own hand; Morton Feldman wrote his Rothko Chapel to commemorate the opening. 50 years later, the Houston chapel commissioned polymath Tyshawn Sorey for another tribute, this time both to the space and to Feldman's immense output. I love Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel so much that I named my wi-fi router after it, so I'm understandably excited for the "sequel." And the performer list is a true who's-who — star violist Kim Kashkashian, avant-garde titan percussionist Steven Schick, baritone Davóne Tines (currently be among the country's most visible classical singers), and more, all presided over by director Peter Sellars and, of course, Sorey himself.

Sept 27, 7:30 & 9:30pm | The Jazz Gallery | $20+
There are only a few jazz cellists on today's scene, but Tomeka Reid reigns among them. Her gritty, delightfully erratic style produces improvisations that are quick both in wit and technique. This quartet has been garnering acclaim since they first recorded together in 2015, and includes several favorite members of avant-jazz scenes both in NYC and beyond: Mary Halvorson (guitar), Jason Roebke (bass), and Tomas Fujiwara (drums).

Sept 29, 6pm | Roulette | $20

Sept 29, 8pm | Miller Theatre | $20

I experienced Many Many Women last June, in what must have been the single stuffiest room in Brooklyn. It's six hours long, no intermissions -- a Gertrude Stein novella, start to finish. I lasted about three, with many breaks, and the music is just enchanting. I would absolutely go again, but it's the same night as Miller Theatre's opening concert, a portrait of Australian composer Liza Lim. The program includes both a commission and this fascinating piece for "solo cello prepared with violin and thread," a concept I had to explain in a sentence and a half on a social post earlier this year. That was really difficult, so I'll refer you to the video below. My decision for this evening is partially colored by the fact that Miller Theatre is close to home, so I'd encourage you to take that into account. You can't lose.

Sept 29-Oct 21 | Metropolitan Opera House | $20
This opera is the reason Shostakovich feared the government every second for the remainder of his life. I know very little about the show, but here are some reviews that pique my interest:
"Pornophony" –The New York Sun, 1935
"Lamentably provincial" –Igor Stravinsky
"A justification of genocide" –Richard Taruskin

Sept 30 (7:30pm) & Oct 2 (2pm) | NYU Skirball | $50
One of the final concerts I saw before the pandemic involved Talea Ensemble and a Toshio Hosokawa opera at the 92nd Street Y. I don't remember my specific impressions of the concert (more important things to remember from that period), but I do recall enjoying myself. I just hope they have supertitles this time, I remember struggling to understand the singers.

Sept 30, 7:30 & 9:30pm | The Jazz Gallery | $20+
My best friend saw this ensemble at The Stone last month, and he said they broke out into Bach in the middle of the set. Who knows if they'll do it again, but if they do, I want to be there. I saw Peter Evans do a solo set as part of that same residency, and I've never been so enthralled by trumpet playing — he just stood there and played for, like, an hour. The stuff of legends.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

It's been a big couple of months!


This is going to be a short post. The last three months have been the busiest of my life -- exciting busy, but busy busy. Here are just a few of the exciting updates:
  • Music criticism competitions exist, and I won one! It was like extremely compressed, niche college. I wrote about the experience here. (While you're there, subscribe -- it's free!)
  • I started a new job with the fantastic Live Arts team at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Let me tell you, the Temple of Dendur hits different when the tourists aren't around.
  • I'm starting to write more! My new-concert-season resolution is to spend more time writing and less time talking about writing. We'll see where the year takes us...
Concert calendars will hopefully resume in the fall, I've just been too damn busy -- although, to be frank, I've been pretty disappointed with this summer's offerings. Oh well, there's always TIME:SPANS next month.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The CMG Concert Calendar: May 2022

I'm a few days late here -- I think the month of April is designed to kill the human race. No one I know had an easy, relaxing month, myself included. I made it to maybe half of the concerts I wrote up. Averaged maybe one a week in the latter half of the month?

Anyway, I'm in the process of bouncing back. Stress levels are still high, and convincing myself to leave the house is getting harder, especially as a current work-from-home-er.


May 2, 6, 10, 14mat, 17, 21mat (cont. from April) | Met Opera House | $30 and up
see last month

May 13, 18, 21, 26, 31 (into June) | Met Opera House | $30 and up
Several exciting debuts in this one. Hamlet is tenor Allan Clayton, whose recent Peter Grimes in London received rave reviews. Countertenors Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and Christopher Lowrey (both one-time Met competition winners) debut opposite each other as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. South African baritone (and once boy soprano) Jacques Imbrailo plays Horatio. It's even composer Brett Dean's first Met rodeo. This is going to be a powerhouse performance.

May 19, 22mat, 25, 28mat (cont. from March) | Met Opera House | $30 and up
Instead of going to the 2019 Harvard-Yale football game (the last before COVID), I decided to fly home a day early. My flight was late enough to catch the first two acts of Met's Akhnaten simulcast, but I had to leave before Act III. I still don't know how it ends. He dies, I think? This is one that you want to watch from the nosebleeds, it's about the composite spectacle -- glow-in-the-dark juggling, 40-pound costumes, nude scene and all.

May 30 (into June, only four performances!) | Met Opera House | $30 and up
I will never turn down an opportunity to see Golda Schultz, especially after her stunning Contessa Almaviva in January's Figaro run. And she heads a cast that will make my first Rake's Progress a memorable one. Ben Bliss supposedly lives up to his name (I bet I'm the first to make that joke), Raehann Bryce-Davis will make her awaited debut, and Christian Van Horn's dry humor stole January 2019's Wozzeck. At least, I think dry humor is right for Van Horn's character, Nick Shadow, but I'm basing that only on a Twitter parody account.


April 29-May 1 | 8 venues in Downtown Brooklyn | days from $95, full festival $195
see last month -- or wait for my review in Which Sinfonia!

May 13-14 | The Jazz Gallery | $25 and up
Last week, I stepped foot in the cesspit that is the Village Vanguard for the first time since 2019. In hindsight, not a great decision health-wise, but the set was fabulous: a drummer named Johnathan Blake and his new-ish quintet, Pentad. Vibraphonist Joel Ross was one of the clear stars, although Blake's approach crosses boundaries far less than Ross's, which usually fuses elements of hip-hop and other genres. I'm excited to see Ross lead a band in his own music.

May 20-21 | Roulette Intermedium | $40 online, $45 doors
I did not get to see Henry Threadgill at The Jazz Gallery a few months ago. But the same point stands: I learned about this man in my jazz history classes, and he's almost 80. Jazz was only invented a century ago, so now is the time to see the pioneers before they, uh, go the way of the dodo.


May 5 | Alice Tully Hall | $20
This already happened, but it was really lovely! Copland's In The Beginning is a nifty little piece that sounds difficult as all hell. And of all the Haydn masses, the Creation mass is definitely one of them!

May 6 | 92nd Street Y | $20 and up
The Dovers might be the best quartet in the country right now. They're here in NYC at least once a year, so I'm not going to this performance. But if you're in the area with nothing to do, you will never go wrong with a Dover evening. (I reviewed them most recently in October 2019, but I don't remember what I said. Let's find out!)

May 6 | Carnegie Hall (Stern) | $34.50 and up
I turned down the opportunity to see Igor Levit in recital due to Omicron, and I was hell-bent on seeing him this time. But alas, I'm skipping this concert for a very good reason (see immediately below). But you shouldn't. There are things I'd rather see Levit play than Brahms, like the Shostakovich preludes and fugues he's bringing to Carnegie next year. But Brahms is never a bad choice, nor is the Bartok Concerto for Orchestra.

May 6 | Carnegie Hall (Zankel) | $38 and up
General rule: in my house, we support our friends. One of my besties designed the projections for this premiere, and her work is always stunning. It's a great ensemble, too -- I've been absolutely dying to hear Nora Fischer live after her album of electric guitar-accompanied Baroque airs (it works, trust me!). I confess, I usually am not a Golijov fan. But I am willing to be converted.

May 8mat | Carnegie Hall (Stern) | $19 and up
The English Concert has been touring operas in concert for the past few years, always to great acclaim. For sopranos Lucy Crowe and Mary Bevan, Handel is their bag. Emily D'Angelo seems to do a bit of everything -- I'll be interested to read her reviews.

May 8mat | Corpus Christi Church | $10 and up
I grew up in a nerdy world where Ockeghem (think 15th-century Flanders) came up in conversation relatively often. I thus assumed that Ockeghem gets performed relatively often. Not the case, at least in this country. This may be the first (and last) major Ockeghem concert of the NYC concert season, and no way am I missing it.

May 9 | Advent Lutheran Church | FREE
Guys. It's a free Mendelssohn Octet. And one of Florence Price's gorgeous quartets. And some fun new music. And it's FREE. There is no downside.

May 11 | Roulette Intermedium | $35 online, $40 doors
God, I wish I didn't have orchestra rehearsal on May 11!!!! John Zorn aligns himself with only the best musicians in the NYC avant-garde scene. The people he trusts to give his premieres are the demigods, the ones who simply don't know how to make mistakes. Buckle up, kids, this one's going to be wild.

May 17 | Park Avenue Armory | $55
When I don't know what I want to listen to, I put on Ensemble Correspondances. They have their French Baroque niche, but they've started to branch out -- their 11th album, released in March 2021, features a German (and Swedish!) program they've been touring around the US. But here in NYC, it's comfort food: their Plaisirs du Louvre program, one that I count among my comfort albums. I requested my tickets in mid-April, never got a reply, and now it's sold out. I will show up the day of and pout as much as I need to, so help me god.

May 18 | National Sawdust | $30
I saw these projects in their first iteration, at Roulette in [September? October?], and they're so fabulous I'm considering seeing them again. In reality, I'm probably not going to schlep to Williamsburg on a Wednesday to see this again, especially considering it's coming out on twin CDs five days earlier. I also really dislike National Sawdust -- it's sort of cold and dank and unwelcoming, especially compared to Roulette's kitschy coziness -- but in this rare case, it's worth it, I promise.

May 19 | Carnegie Hall (Weill) | $38 and up
Carnegie needs to quit putting up such great concerts at the same time. This album made me smile, a rare ray of hope right around the beginning of the pandemic -- it's some of the nicest, most profound, best-though-out Schubert on the market. Yi-heng Yang is a name I'm surprised I don't see more often around here, considering the fabulous playing on this album. I think she's based in New Jersey?

May 19 | Carnegie Hall (Stern) | $45 and up
I finally got to chat with Julia Wolfe a bit at the Bang on a Can Long Play -- we were randomly seated next to each other at the finale. I will probably end up seeing Karim Sulayman this date, but it's only because I've gone out of my way to see most every other performance of Wolfe's music this year. This is the piece that won her a Pulitzer, a cantata about coal miners in eastern Pennsylvania. It's probably the best primer on Wolfe's incredible music that you're going to get.

May 20 | National Sawdust | $25
I've mentioned my friend Jimmy Reese here before, usually in conjunction with TENET Vocal Artists. He's a founding member of this mostly-new-music sextet in Philadelphia -- already a hotbed of avant-garde vocal music thanks to The Crossing. They release their first album this month, and this Friday performance is the release performance. Again, worth a trip to the venue that tries too hard.

May 21 | Miller Theatre | $20 and up
Next month, I'll be a fellow at the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism in San Francisco. They've kindly sent us a list of all the concerts we'll have to review, and one of them is a huge Miguel Zenón premiere at SFJAZZ. Call this research! Fun, enjoyable research.

Sunday, April 3, 2022

The CMG Concert Calendar: April 2022

I think I'm in a rhythm now. Last month, I felt myself burning out. Not this month. I held my off days sacred. I didn't go to concerts for the sake of having plans. And I'm still exhausted, but I'm more happy exhausted and less cranky exhausted (though I do not regret napping instead of seeing Rodelinda last Sunday).

Between Holy Week and all these amazing concerts, April might kill me. But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.


April 1, 5, 9, 12, 16mat, 20 | Met Opera House | $30 and up
This will be my first Elektra, but after reading the synopsis, it makes last month's Wozzeck look like Sesame Street. The Met's Wagnerian queen, Lise Davidsen, is back for this production after stealing March's run of Ariadne auf Naxos. She's in a secondary role this time around, but that's still reason enough to come -- as if Nina Stemme and Greer Grimsley weren't already. I think I'm shooting for opening night on this one.
EDIT: This was probably the best cast I've seen this season. Nina Stemme was perhaps the weakest of the leads, and she was still absolutely phenomenal, especially considering that Elektra comes onstage in the first minute and never leaves. The amount of fire that Michaela Schuster puts into Klytämnestra alone justifies the ticket price. Run, don't walk.

April 2mat, 7, 10mat, 14 (cont. from March) | Met Opera House | $30 and up

April 2, 6, 9mat, 13, 16, 21 | Met Opera House | $30 and up
I saw this in January, so you won't see me there this month. But if you didn't, now would be a great time. Ying Fang is famous for her Mozart, Sasha Cooke never disappoints, and Gerald Finley and Christian Van Horn will probably be hilarious playing off of each other.

April 23, 26, 29 (into May) | Met Opera House | $30 and up
This updated Lucia has caused a stir in the few boomer opera-nerd Facebook groups where I lurk (how about that for niche?). Of course, I have a dirty secret: I've never seen Lucia in the first place. Maybe I'll watch a traditional production first. Maybe I won't, and my first Lucia will take place in the modern-day Rust Belt. Either way, I'm expecting a barn-burning mad scene from Nadine Sierra and one of the Met's two principal flutes -- and after seeing Matthew Rose step into a Don Carlos lead on a couple hours' notice last week, I want to hear more.


April 7-10 | The Prince George Ballroom | $50
Last time I saw On Site Opera, they were telling of the African slave trade on the big ship Wavertree in the South Street Seaport -- a moving and extremely well-executed production, even in sub-optimal conditions. Now, it's time for Gianni Schicchi in an ornate East Side ballroom -- something about wood paneling and bronze purfling makes any concert sound better (as I learned with TENET's cheeky Les plaisirs de Versailles in the gorgeous House of the Redeemer reading room last month).

April 14-15 | Park Avenue Armory | $45
New York has a lot of phenomenal new music ensembles, but seeing them perform is a crapshoot when you don't live in the city -- many of them only perform five or six one-off concerts a year. Now, it's time to make my way down the missed connections list. I've been listening to Alarm Will Sound since high school, and an hour of John Luther Adams is just the live introduction I was hoping for. 

April 29-May 1 | 8 venues in Downtown Brooklyn | days from $95, full festival $195
I'm covering this one for Which Sinfonia, where I do the bulk of my serious writing, and I'm so excited -- avant-garde classical Coachella! I'm still looking for the right companion -- or, let me rephrase. I know who the right companion would be, but he won't be around. I'm looking for the right Sam substitute.


April 2 | Weill Recital Hall | $38 and up
Rule number one of concert planning: if you can, see people performing music they own. Padmore's Schubert. Bang on a Can's Wolfe. Jeanine De Bique's set of traditional Trinidadian songs. I've never encountered De Bique outside of a Handel context (a comment on me, not her), but early music specialists so often excel at mid-to-late-Romantic lieder. I'm excited.
EDIT: There are simply no words.

April 3mat | Morgan Library | $50
Yes, I'm trying to see three concerts this day. First up, at 3pm: among the world's best sopranos and fortepianists on tour with their fantastic new album of Haydn, Mozart, and contemporaries. I haven't met a soul who doesn't think Carolyn Sampson is a deity incarnate, and after hours of listening, I hold the same view of Kristian Bezuidenhout. Two of those artists I've been waiting to see for years, and the weekend is finally upon us!!!

April 3mat | Merkin Hall, Kaufman Center | $20
Next, at 5pm: one of my good friends is making his NYC debut as a pianist for this art song collective run by a former professor of mine. Another of those instances where the program looks wacky at first glance -- Mozart, Barber, and Sondheim on the same program? -- but Richard Lalli and Tobé Malawista always, always make it fit.

April 3 | Advent Lutheran Church | $25
And finally, at 7pm: NYC's foremost period instrument quartet, whose Haydn-Seven Last Words-plus-commissions project was one of my favorite performances of [November? December? time is a construct]. Here, they present their first installment in a ten-year project of Haydn's 68 quartets, alongside responsive commissions from today's up-and-coming voices -- this time from American composer Alexandra du Bois.

April 6 | Roulette Intermedium | $20
Based on Emmanuel Iduma's reflective travelogue of the same name, Sara Serpa's Intimate Strangers is perhaps one of the most technically pieces I've seen in the past few months -- the evening-length work served as one night of her February residency at The Stone. The work is as stunning live as it is recorded, the close-harmonied vocal trio dancing around and intermingling with (but never overpowering) poised, well-considered narrations directly from the text. I have a rehearsal that conflicts with this performance (and besides which, I've already seen it), but I highly, highly recommend you make the trip.

April 7 | Carnegie Hall (Stern) | $14.50 and up
I don't recommend Bach on modern instruments often, but at very least go to this performance for the soloists. Julian Prégardien brings a coarse drama to his Evangelists, less smooth than some of his counterparts but with a compelling honesty. Philippe Sly has a rich voice that fits into any period -- the early music scene is so, so lucky to have him. A quartet at the forefront of the British Bach scene -- Carolyn Sampson, Hugh Cutting, Andrew Staples, and Matthew Brook -- take all of the arias, strategically saving poor choir members from double duty in the marathon, three-hour piece.

April 13 | Carnegie Hall (Zankel) | $35
Ensemble Signal is another of those new music ensembles that I've never had the fortune to see -- and after the transformative Steel Hammer that started Julia Wolfe's Carnegie residency, I'll see as many of these performances as I have time for. Plus, I remember being impressed with Tessa Lark at an informal concert she gave at the Rubinstein Atrium with her partner, Michael Thurber (of vintage YouTube fame), and this sort of repertoire seems to be among her specialties.

April 21 | Miller Theatre | $20 and up
I had the pleasure to review Yarn/Wire's performance at last year's TIME:SPANS festival -- they're a group with monstrous musicality and even more intimidating brainpower. I thought I remembered Meadowcroft on that program, but it seems I'm mistaken. But Miller's composer portraits never steer wrong.

April 21 | Merkin Hall, Kaufman Center | $25
God, I wish I could be in two places at once on April 21. The JACK Quartet has that Midas touch -- they can do no wrong. The first time I saw them (at Miller Theatre, funnily enough), I haphazardly reoriented my plans to see them again the next night. So what do I see, fantastic new music about 25min from my apartment or....fantastic new music about 25min from my apartment?

April 22 | Carnegie Hall (Weill) | $57 and up
Il Pomo d'Oro has been around for a while, but they shot into the mainstream somewhat recently as the ensemble behind one of Joyce DiDonato's highly-acclaimed 2016 album In War and Peace. Since then, they've become prolific -- there have been months where they release two or three albums in a row, and they always sound in top shape (especially under wild-child Maxim Emelyanychev). Time to see them shine.

April 23 | Carnegie Hall (Stern) | $65 and up
I will be very frank: my first reaction to this program was less "Ooooooh!" and more "What is THIS clusterfuck?" I love Joyce, but it's not like she's never misstepped -- my opinions on her Songplay album remain unchanged, Grammy win notwithstanding. But this hodgepodge of Mahler, Ives, Gluck, a world premiere by Rachel Portman, and plenty of furious early-classical actually flows quite well. I'm interested to see how the staging contributes.

April 23 (late) | Carnegie Hall (Zankel) | $65 and up
If there's any time to hear George Crumb's (may he rest in peace) Black Angels, now would be the time: so much of the world ravaged, so many spirits down, so many hopes dashed. The piece, centered on the Vietnam War, is at once haunting and downright terrifying. And who better to hear play it than the Kronos Quartet, who included the work on their first concerts in the '70s? Other newer works (about which I know very little) follow, but suffice it to say that if it passes through the collective Kronos consciousness, it's bound to be good.

April 24 | Merkin Hall, Kaufman Center | $25 and up
Parlando's last concert, centered around the tensions between Hollywood and the American concert scene, was a stunner -- I've never been surer that every note would sound perfectly as I was in Tai Murray's Bernstein Serenade. Now, it's new music time: four premieres that explore different facets of Americanism and American identity, capped off with Copland's peak-Americana Appalachian Spring.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

The CMG Concert Calendar: March 2022

A screencap from the virtual rework of Steel Hammer

February was a month of some great shows, some mediocre shows, and a lot of shows that were just...fine. I'm still reeling from an eight-show-in-seven-day week where most of the concerts fell into that last camp, I may need to reconsider my strategy -- I've always had trouble balancing quantity and quality. This month, I'm going to be a little more prudent about my nights off, and maybe that will let me get my April calendar online a few days earlier...


February 28, March 3, 6mat, 10, 13mat, 18, 22, 26mat | Met Opera House | $30 and up
These next few years are the time to refine my opera tastes -- embarrassingly, I still haven't made it through much of the canon, simply because I will never opt to see Traviata on a night when, say, International Contemporary Ensemble is playing down the street. But the Met has shows six nights a week, and now is the time for an open mind. I couldn't quite talk myself into trying the six-hour Meistersinger earlier this season, (which I regret having skipped now that I've seen soprano Lise Davidsen in action, see Ariadne below), but four and a half hours of interesting French Verdi with what looks like a star cast seems like a good way to spend an evening.

March 1, 5mat, 8, 12mat, 17 | Met Opera House | $30 and up
I got to see this on opening night. Run, don't walk. Easily one of the best things I've ever seen at the Met. I'd pay another $30 just to hear Lise Davidsen sing the opening sequence of Act II over again -- and I very well might, especially considering someone's phone chime went off every five minutes through the entire 85-minute act. (The rest of the cast sounded good too, although with such a small orchestra, if you're getting covered up, it's probably your fault...) Ariadne is a comedy at its heart, but the opera-within-an-opera format allows for these long, drawn-out sections of almost-plotless meander where you can just lose yourself in the music. During one of those chunks, take a few minutes to admire Strauss's orchestration -- that orchestra of 30 is far greater than the sum of its parts.

March 2, 5, 9, 12 | Met Opera House | $30 and up
An oldie, a goodie. I've seen it twice and I remember so little of it that I want to see it again. I mean, it's Puccini, the opera isn't going to blow my mind. But I always love seeing married couples play star-crossed lovers on stage, so I'll go see Aleksandra Kurzak and Roberto Alagna if I have a serendipitous free evening. And Željko Lučić is never bad.

March 25, 29 (into April) | Met Opera House | $30 and up
I'm not a Tchaikovsky fan, but I saw Onegin during undergrad and I had fun! This isn't a Saturday night headliner for me, but like, sure I'll go see Onegin on a random Tuesday night! Ailyn Pérez is going to be a fantastic Tatiana, Ain Anger always stuns, and I'm curious about Igor Golovatenko, who's playing Onegin. Piotr Beczała....whatever.


March 2-5 | The Stone at The New School | $20 (cash at the door)
My way through the vast world of jazz is very, very slow. I start with an artist I know I like, listen to a couple of their albums. Then I focus on to one of their bandmates, selected at random, and listen to a couple of their albums. Rinse and repeat. It's like a snail's game of six-degrees. Drummer Tomas Fujiwara was my first-degree foray from guitarist Mary Halvorson, and I'm kind of hooked -- not just on them, but also on their bandmates: cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum, violist Jessica Pavone (who I got to profile earlier this year), the list goes on. I'll be at The Stone on Friday 3/4, when Fujiwara celebrates his Triple Double ensemble's (2x trumpet/cornet, guitar, drums) new album, and for his Thumbscrew trio with Halvorson and bassist Michael Formanek on Saturday 3/5.
EDIT: We got turned away at the door for Triple Double -- apparently The Stone's online signup is just to get your contact tracing info into the system and doesn't count as a reservation. Not my favorite system, but I'd expect nothing else from an avant-garde jazz venue. Tonight, I show up half an hour early.

Part I: March 9, 10, 11, 12 | Alice Tully Hall | $52 and up (limited availability)
Part II: March 17, 18, 19, 20mat | Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center | $59 and up
I have an immense amount of pride in my native arts scene, and so much of the greatness that comes out of LA stems directly from Dudamel and the LA Phil. Now, he brings some of his innovative programming to NYC. Premieres by Gabriela Ortiz and Andreia Pinto Correia spread Dudamel's Pan-American Music Initiative's beyond Los Angeles, flanked on either side by Schumann's four lovely symphonies. I'm on the waitlist for this series, but I'm praying to the concert gods...

March 22-30 | Park Avenue Armory | $45
Michel van der Aa's Upload opened last fall at Dutch National Opera to unilaterally rave reviews. The show exists somewhere on the cusp of analog and digital, film and live. General rule of thumb: if Julia Bullock is in it, it's probably going to be insanely cool -- her programming ranks among the classical world's most imaginative. And Roderick Williams is a classical music superhero, I would rush equally fast to see him in Bach as Brahms as Vaughan Williams as van der Aa.

March 25, 26mat&eve, 27mat | Neidorff-Karpati Hall, Manhattan School of Music | $30
I'm not going to turn down a Sunday in the Park. Especially not one with $15 student tickets. The MSM opera I saw a few months ago was pretty laughable, but I've been assured the musical theatre students are better actors...

March 29, 31 | St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue (29), Trinity Wall Street (31) | $20 and up
I mean, it's a St. Matthew Passion with NYC's foremost baroque ensemble and choir. I can imagine what it's going to sound like in my head -- most of NYC's professional baroque ensembles share the same pool of freelancers, so they all sound somewhat similar. It's going to sound like a St. Matt should: reliable, tight, very pretty, and a great way to spend a Tuesday or Thursday night.


March 3 | Carnegie Hall (Zankel) | $35 and up
One of my last papers of undergrad was a six-page profile of Julia Wolfe. The only caveat: we couldn't interview our subjects. I spent hours and hours on that assignment, and now I feel invested in her Carnegie Hall residency. Steel Hammer centers around divergent accounts of the John Henry folktale, and this particular group of performers premiered a stunning virtual rework of the piece through Berkeley's Cal Performances last year.
EDIT: This performance was SUPERHUMAN. Make sure you get to Anthracite Fields, Steel Hammer's Pulitzer-winning sequel-of-sorts, which Carnegie is putting up in May.

March 10 | Carnegie Hall (Weill) | $57 and up (but actually sold out)
You're not going to get tickets to this show. Hell, I'm probably not going to get tickets to this show -- I'm deep on the waitlist after saying for months that, if I didn't act fast, I probably wouldn't get a ticket. Words to live by, words to die by. But let this be your cue to listen to the two fabulous albums of Jupiter, a baroque ensemble founded by it-boy lutenist Thomas Dunford and his friends. Their Vivaldi album is perhaps among the most spirited takes on the often-dialed-in composer's works, and their more recent Amazone is full of underheard French Baroque gems and moments that make you say "Aaaaahh..."

March 10 | Carnegie Hall (Stern) | $15 and up
So then, the cardinal question: if not seeing Jupiter, where will I be on March 10? In all likelihood, I'll be just a few flights upstairs, seeing MasterVoices. Anyone Can Whistle is one of Sondheim's less good musicals, but that means it comes around less often than the others -- I'd like to pounce on this opportunity to see it, even if only in concert(?). And the cast looks great, from what little I know about musical theatre casts. I can toss opera singers into conversation all day, every day, but ask me a single thing about a Broadway actor and my mind goes blank.

March 10 | Roulette Intermedium | $20 
Part of my consideration for March 10: the commute. Carnegie is half an hour from me, Roulette is double that. This is going to be a fascinating concert -- Thomas Buckner was a close collaborator of Robert Ashley, who's theatre-opera-poetry-performance art pieces are delightfully wacky. (I got to see his eL/Aficionado earlier this year, read my editor/companion's response here.) Here, he's joined by synthesist Earl Howard, avant-garde violin duo String Noise, and others, for a program of new works. If I lived in Brooklyn, I'd be there. But sometimes, you just have to consider how much your time is worth.

March 13mat | Carnegie Hall (Weill) | $54 and up
There's not a whole lot to say here. Mark Padmore is one of the great light tenors of our time, perfect for Bach, early Lieder, and anything else where the tenor needs to float above rather than cutting through. Mitsuko Uchida, a titan pianist whose careful touch matches that timbre perfectly. And a program of music I adore -- most notably, Schubert's Schwanengesang, the song not-cycle that so often gets overlooked in favor of its programmatic counterparts.

March 15 | Carnegie Hall (Stern) | $22.50 and up
Wozzeck is freaky. It's this weird psycho horror story -- I won't ruin it, because it plays so seamlessly with the music that you'll want to preserve the surprise. Bo Skovhus is well-renowned for his Wozzeck, but Goerke is relatively new to the role; upon cursory search, it looks like this program's October performances in Boston were one of, if not her first run. But she's just an all-around badass, I'm quite sure it'll be great.

March 18 | Jalopy Theatre | $20 
No shame, I discovered these guys on TikTok, singing Corsican polyphony that I've dabbled in but never studied. They do folk music from all around the world, although their internet presence mostly shows Corsican, Sardinian, and American traditions. This one's a schlep -- Carroll Gardens, 15min walk from the F train -- but it's a Friday night adventure, and a much-needed change of pace. For the record, I would absolutely attend a Windborne workshop on Corsican polyphony....

March 26 | Merkin Hall, Kaufman Center | $25
A few years ago, Anthony de Mare released a three-plus hour album of living composers' solo-piano takes on Sondheim -- everyone from Steve Reich to Nico Muhly to Wynton Marsalis to Tania León. I listened to a bit of it, and it's perhaps one of the most interesting albums I've come across this year. Because Sondheim balances the elements of his music just so (reductively: rhythm, harmony, melody, etc.), every composer zeroes in on a different aspect, each focus as valid as the last. Now, he's commissioned another handful of composers for a new cycle. I want to see it really badly, but...

March 26 | St. Luke in the Fields | $35
...I promised a friend I'd go with her to this. A few weeks ago, one of my friends texted me: "It's almost time for TeneSchütz!!" I knew exactly what she meant -- TENET canceled a Schütz concert (for which I had tickets) on March 20, 2020, and this is the replacement. Said friend and I were supposed to go together in 2020 as well. This is the first time this month that I'm truly torn, it might have to be a coin toss.

March 31 | Merkin Hall, Kaufman Center | $25
Holland Andrews was my first artist profile ever -- they put on this virtual telephone performance that was innovative, calming, and oh so lovely. Now, their name won't leave my newsfeed. I led that first artist profile with, "Holland Andrews has had a big year," but this year has been so much bigger. Major symphony orchestra debuts. Headshots on posters outside of the Kaufman Center. Touring with Anna Meredith, who I gather is a big deal in the electronica world. I owe them a text. And maybe another article...

Sunday, February 6, 2022

The CMG Concert Calendar: February 2022

Thanks to our dear friend Omicron, I took a prolonged concert break over the winter holidays -- I basically spent Christmas week shuttling between my church gig and home, where I did nothing but watch 30 Rock in bed. But I've decided that, for the sake of my own mental health, it's time for me to go back to the concert hall. I just wish that had been the case for the night Igor Levit played Carnegie...anyway, here are some of my picks for the month.

Horszowski Trio

EDIT: I've already seen a few concerts this month, I was just a little slow on the publishing side. Life is busy, shit happens. One, the Horszowski Trio, was phenomenal -- their Feldman-and-friends set managed to hush an audience full of noisy 70-somethings. Impressive. (That said: I still believe that Dvořák's Second Piano Quartet is among the stupidest pieces of chamber music known to man. They played it very well. I'm not budging on this.)

Neither of the others was phenomenal on the whole, though the NY Phil's performance of Julius Eastman's Second Symphony -- the new edition's professional premiere -- was astounding, and convinced me that the contrabass clarinet is a badass instrument.

February 10 | Roulette Intermedium | $20
As a historical performance enthusiast (a.k.a. biiiiiiig nerd), I love a good historical organ (like this biiiiiiig prelude). But I never considered the early 20th-century organ, obviously a huge part of American popular culture -- the organ-grinder on the side of the road! I've also heard great things about both Schrey and Olencki. Color me intrigued.

February 10, 12-13 | The Met Fifth Avenue (Rogers Auditorium) | $25 and up
Ten or fifteen years ago, the executive team of Heartbeat Opera was sitting on the board of my undergraduate opera company -- the same company with whom I conducted, played, sang, administrated (administered?) and most importantly, partied. This overhauled and largely rewritten Fidelio has received its share of good press since it premiered in 2018, and I'm excited to finally experience it.

February 11 | Holy Trinity Lutheran Church | $30 ($15 fixed income, $5 students)
This season is the first for Gotham Early Music Scene's Open Gates Project, an initiative which helps to promote diversity on early music stages as well as access to early music for underserved communities. Five countertenors share this performance, which features favorite consort songs of Byrd and Purcell, a few selections both Italian and Italianate (here's looking at you, Ombra mai fu), and a new Ave Maria by local composer Trevor Weston -- I sang his Magnificat and Nunc dimittis for a virtual choir, I remember it being fantastic music, if exceptionally difficult.

February 12 | Good Shepherd - Faith Presbyterian Church | $30 and up
I try not to miss The Sebastians if I can help it. This month, Bach obbligato sonatas and some Frenchy harpsichord music -- really hard to go wrong there, especially with Daniel Lee and Jeff Grossman, two performers I see often and yet still go out of my way to hear. This is the kind of performance I'm always in the mood for.

February 17 | Willow Place Auditorium | Free?
On May 28, 2019, I reviewed the S.E.M. Ensemble playing, among other things, a work by composer Anna Heflin. Anna is now a dear friend and colleague, one of very few people who I trust to edit my work. So, in a way, S.E.M. director Petr Kotik unknowingly introduced us. We think he'll find that story very funny. Plus, I love Willow Place -- YMCA basketball court vibes, toddler gymnastics mats haphazardly shoved in a corner, equal parts performance venue as sporting center, kiddie social hub, and reception room.

February 17-19 | Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center | $49 and up
I haven't listened to Tchaik 5 since high school -- really, I'm not the biggest Tchaikovsky fan. But sometimes, you get an undeniable hankering for something you don't love. For me, it's all youth orchestra nostalgia. Anyway, I figure if I'm only going to listen to the symphony once every few years, I may as well go see it live when the craving hits. And not only live, but with a conductor I adore (Santtu-Mathias Rouvali) alongside a soprano I adore (Golda Schultz) singing songs I adore (Strauss's Brentano-Lieder) and watching one of my close friends play as a substitute bassist.

February 19 | Miller Theatre | $30 and up
My very first musical thought piece began with a Stile Antico anecdote (before launching into an anti-establishment tirade -- god, 19-year-old Emery really didn't know when to shut up). They're one of few groups that truly embraces the idea of vocal chamber music. They don't have a director; everyone pitches in both musically and administratively. Stile Antico is one of my dream jobs, and their Victoria Tenebrae, which I saw live at Music Before 1800 (see below) in 2018, changed my life. And as I've said before: if it happens in the four walls of Miller Theatre, it's going to be good. Full stop.
Last time I saw Jordi, his continuo team stole the show. He's quite a fine player -- he was, after all, the OG gamba player -- but lately, he's a bandleader first and foremost. I'm hoping to go to the Monteverdi performance, though I'll pass on Versailles (I think that was his program last time I saw him a couple years ago). For small-ensemble vocal music, Jordi Savall tends to surround himself with Spain's brightest and best young singers, a demographic we usually don't hear unless they cross over into the French market as well. Spanish early music recordings are few and far between, and 80% of them come from Jordi -- he has his own record label, so it's not really a fair fight.

February 23 | Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium) | $30
David Robertson, conductor | Yan Liu, clarinet
This is where I'll be on February 23. I'm often anti-Wynton Marsalis because my favorite jazz doesn't fall under his narrow conception of the genre, but I feel it's unlikely I'll get to hear his Swing Symphony again anytime soon. If you take one thing away from this, let it be: always see the concert that is hardest to reproduce.

February 24 | Peter Jay Sharp Theater | $20
Ever since I discovered last year that Julie Roset, one of my favorite young early-music sopranos on the scene today, was finishing a master's at Juilliard, I've been looking forward to this concert. The program is Handel's first oratorio, Il trionfo del tempo e del disinganno, which ends with one of the most wrenchingly beautiful soprano arias in the Baroque repertoire. Roset's professional recording doesn't release for some months, but I keep returning to this one-minute snippet from the recording session, it's that good. The featured tenor, Richard Pittsinger -- who played the Orpheus to Roset's Eurydice in Rossi's Orfeo earlier this year -- is also a tremendous early music up-and-comer.

February 26 | House of the Redeemer | $55
My Spotify Wrapped last year was basically just a who's-who of French Baroque. It's the music I default to when I don't know what I want, and some of the music that I want most often. I may have listened to Les Plaisirs de Versailles -- one of Charpentier's many opera-like items -- once on the subway, but I'm so excited to see it live. TENET will do it justice, I know. Plus, Ensemble Caprice provides a rare glimpse into the insular, but thriving Baroque scene of North America's most underrated historical performance mecca: Montreal.

February 27 | Corpus Christi Church | $25 and up (cheaper for blocked/partial view and students)
Renaissance winds are notoriously hard to wrangle, but those who do it best do it really, really well. I'm well-acquainted with the folks over at Piffaro -- in fact, I've peddled their CDs at the Met Cloisters -- and I know not to miss a performance. The musicianship is haute, but I really go for the curation. For instance, this program centers around the life and legacy of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Duke of Austria, from his youth in Flanders, through Netherlands and Spain, and on to the New World. Expert music-making is one thing, but that's expert scholarship.

February 28 | Roulette Intermedium | $20 online, $25 doors
I'm trying to remember how old I was when my best friend sent me Eric Wubbels's Katachi...senior year of high school, I want to say? Anyway, that album hooked me on Wet Ink, as well as all the members individually -- I have an extremely specific memory of listening to the group's 20th anniversary album while walking to class on a crisp spring day. (That sounds made-up, but I swear I remember exactly where and when I stood when that first bout of static hit. Scared the shit out of me.) And now, it's Eric Wubbels's turn for an album. I'll listen to it recorded, sure. But why not have it both ways?