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...