March 22, 2014
Colin Currie

The Cleveland Orchestra season closed with bravura. One doesn’t think of Mozart as mellow, but, in truth, the Overture from The Abduction from the Seraglio that opened the concert was but an amuse-gueule, given what followed.     Jennifer Higdon‘s Percussion Concerto, written for Colin Currie, who performed it, is nothing but dazzling. After his performance, I asked Currie if he was into Afro-Cuban percussion, and he said there was some of it in the piece, though, of course, it was a very deep subject. It had occurred to me that the Cuban-Americans in the audience might have been stirred by … Continue reading


The ghost of Igor Stravinsky hovered, in a friendly way, over MOCA, the North Miami art museum, Thursday evening as The Cleveland Orchestra and the Frost School of Music presented an evening of chamber ensembles. The works included two works by Frost composition students, and before the second presentation, Apollonian Echo, composer Peter Learn, who was introduced by Frost School professor Lansing McLoskey, told the audience that by coincidence he and the other Frost composer of the evening, Richard Yates, had written works that quoted Stravinsky. Learn said it had to do with 2013 marking the centennial of the (raucous) premiere of … Continue reading

March 20, 2014
weather on Jupiter

Forget Peter and the Wolf. I can’t think of a better work for introducing young people to the symphony orchestra than Gustav Holst‘s The Planets, particularly when enhanced with a projection of NASA imagery. 4th graders from 33 Miami-Dade public schools were treated to a concert of most of that piece, performed by The Cleveland Orchestra Thursday at Knight Hall, under the baton of Giancarlo Guerrero. The conductor burst onto the stage in his usual energetic manner and led the orchestra on a brief passage, after which the auditorium full of young students applauded and cheered. He then began to … Continue reading

March 18, 2014
Man Who Knew Too Much pic 3

As a kid, I always got a big thrill from the percussion section of a symphony orchestra. Maybe it was the memory of the beating of my mother’s heart or simply a child’s love of hitting things and making a big noise. Perhaps it was having watched the second version of Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much which leads up to that tense moment when the cymbals will mask the firing of an assassin’s gun. Or that I grew up in a culture of percussion: claves, maracas, cowbell, gourds, drums, drums, drums. It still thrills me. Those musicians up … Continue reading

March 14, 2014

A long, but not too long, time ago in our own solar system . . . a composer set out to capture that very solar system in music. Gustav Holst‘s The Planets — along with much of Wagner, quite a bit of Stravinsky and a good share of Schoenberg– is the fountainhead of sci-fi music. And Holst’s inspiration having been more astrological than astronomical is fitting for this birth; after all, what is astrology but the original science fiction? Holst first wrote most of it for two pianos, but it’s the full orchestral treatment that best projects the big cosmic … Continue reading