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Laurence Vittes

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Clap Between Movements: Classical Music With No Past

Posted: 10/17/11 02:19 AM ET

Sunday, October 23, San Francisco
Time to Put Back Orchestras Into Your Classical Music Portfolio

Beginning October 23 and continuing throughout the year, the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) will host a season-long, "nationwide dialogue on the 21st century American orchestra." Six "major American orchestras" will celebrate the SFS's Centennial 2011-12 season: Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and SFS.

In addition to their conducting duties, Michael Tilson Thomas, Gustavo Dudamel and Alan Gilbert will deliver keynote speeches before free events in SF's Davies Symphony Hall. SFS has launched an American Orchestra Forum websitet. Its purpose is to serve "as a hub for the ongoing conversation, with perspectives from leaders in and outside the orchestra world, as well as the general public, via blogs, podcasts and videos of the discussions."


Jacques Pepin sings with Michael Tilson Thomas

This expansionary enterprise heralds a brave new era for the classical music industry. When American orchestras are hot, the classical music industry thrives. A few questions that might be posed: How do the top American orchestras compare to each other? Will Gustavo's El sistema address gender imbalance on the conductor's podium?
 
If you can go with some friends and then party after, SF is a great place to do it. Reserve your seats early, because when Gustavo opens the project with your LA Philharmonic on the 23rd, everyone in LA will want to be there, showing off to their SF friends.

Friday, October 28, Moscow
Egg Whites, Vodka and Gold: Moscow's Bolshoi Reopens Its Doors

After seven years of work, Moscow's iconic Bolshoi Theatre will reopen with a gala featuring Natalie Dessay, Violetta Urmana, Dmitri Hvorostovsky and the Bolshoi's famed ballet company.


A young Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings Dark Eyes

During World War II the Bolshoi was hit by a bomb, but swiftly repaired. However, inappropriate changes and years of neglect during the Soviet era had left their mark. The renovated hall promises better acoustics, a revolving stage, and 500 fewer (but better) seats. The restoration of the ceiling's historic fresco alone, depicting Apollo surrounded by ten muses against a blue sky backdrop, took ten months to complete. More than 10 pounds of mosaic gold were used for the gilding of the theatre and its massive chandelier.

The "secret formula" for the renovation's finishing touches is concocted from egg whites, Russian vodka and gold. To bring back the imperial sheen the medieval recipe specified that the egg whites be kept in a warm room for 40 days before being mixed with clay and other ingredients. Finished off with vodka, it is then used to apply gold leaf onto the curved ceilings and decorative features.

Once the house is up and running, the first productions will be Glinka's Ruslan and Ludmilla directed by Dimitri Tcherniakov, a new production of Der Rosenkavalier and a rare production of Tchaikovsky's The Enchantress.

If you can't be there for the gala, it will be shown live on Arte TV and more than 600 movie theaters around the world.


Monday, November 7, Los Angeles
MUSE/IQUE Unveils four Dorics in Pasadena

On November 7, the Doric String Quartet will occupy legendary Castle Press in Pasadena, playing while sitting on stacks of paper and printing machines. This is the first time in LA for the Dorics who won first prize in the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition.


The Doric String Quartet performs the last movement of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Third String Quartet at Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, November 19, 2010.

MUSE/IQUE artistic director Rachael Worby says that she, Knell and the Dorics will "go wild in a complete mash-up as they shed any classical starch that remains on them." The Quartet will narrate the birth of a new piece by Knell, and also play movements from quartets by Haydn, Schubert and Bartok. A day before the concert, the Dorics will conduct a master class at the Pasadena Conservatory of Music.
 
If MUSE/IQUE is a vehicle for Worby to recreate the concert experience for the 21st century audience, it is a job for which she is uniquely qualified. She has attempted the most impossible goal for a woman in any performing major art form, to become a top level conductor. Her determination and ambition has led her into a series of positions and ventures which bespeak someone of the kind of enormous energy, imagination and resourcefulness which often break down barriers and create new frontiers.