Category Archives: Classical Music News

New Chamber Series: ‘Gabriel Lefkowitz and Friends’

It doesn’t take a big music venue to make a lot of waves in the world of classical and new music–a lot of cities are discovering that that alternative locations (like Le Poisson Rouge in NYC) can fill the need for those looking for something different, energetic, and intriguing.  Clearly, this is something that the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is learning. A new series for the KSO begins in two weeks in the back room of a coffee house, of all places. But this is a series that has the potential to dramatically re-shape the Knoxville audience and its perceptions.

KSO Concertmaster Gabriel Lefkowitz

The KSO has given the responsibility for a new chamber music series to its  new concertmaster, Gabriel Lefkowitz, and titled it, appropriately, “Gabriel Lefkowitz and Friends.” The series consists of three pairs of music events at Remedy Coffee in the Old City section of downtown Knoxville. Lefkowitz has programmed the series with works appealing to him and perhaps eye-opening for a some of the intended audience.

And, this will be “chamber music” in every sense of the word. “It’s going to be really interesting for this first one,” Lefkowitz states, “the first half [of the concert] is just violin and piano, the second half is a trio, so there will be no problem fitting those on stage. But, for the second concert and third concerts, we have larger ensembles. So, it’s going to be an interesting challenge to see how we are going to situate ourselves. For the octet on the last concert, we might have the ensemble in the middle and the audience surrounding them.”

The first pair of concerts are on Wednesday and Thursday, October 3 and 4, at 7 pm. Lefkowitz has chosen three works to inaugurate the series: Ravel’s Tzigane and Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 2 in D Major (with Lefkowitz and pianist Kevin Class); and the Brahms Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major (with Lefkowitz, Class, and cellist Andy Bryenton).


Remedy Coffee, 125 West Jackson Avenue, Knoxville, TN

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2012-13 Met Opera ‘Live in HD’ Schedule

The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD series for the 2012-13 season begins Saturday, October 13. For more information and local tickets, check the Met website here. The schedule is:


Donizetti: L’Elisir d’Amore

October 13, 2012, 12:55 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Cast: Anna Netrebko (Adina), Matthew Polenzani (Nemorino), Mariusz Kwiecien (Belcore), Ambrogio Maestri (Dulcamara);  Production: Bartlett Sher;  Conductor: Maurizio Benini


Verdi: Otello

October 27, 2012, 12:55 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Cast: Johan Botha (Otello), Renée Fleming (Desdemona); Production: Elijah Moshinsky; Conductor: Semyon Bychkov


Adès: The Tempest

November 10, 2012, 12:55 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time
(Met Premiere)

Cast: Simon Keenlyside (Prospero) Director: Robert Lepage Conductor: Thomas Adès


Mozart: La Clemenza di Tito

December 1, 2012, 12:55 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

Cast: Elīna Garanča (Sesto);  Giuseppe Filianoti (Tito);  Barbara Frittoli (Vitellia); Director: Jean-Pierre Ponnelle; Conductor: Harry Bicket


Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera

December 8, 2012, 12:55 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 6:30 pm local time
(New Production)

Cast: Marcelo Álvarez (the king); Sondra Radvanovsky  (Amelia); Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Renato); Kathleen Kim (Oscar); Stephanie Blythe (Ulrica). Director: David Alden; Conductor: Fabio Luisi


Verdi: Aida

December 15, 2012, 12:55 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 6:30 pm local time

Cast: Liudmyla Monastyrska (Aida); Radamès (Roberto Alagna); Amneris (Olga Borodina); Director: Sonja Frisell; Conductor: Fabio Luisi


Berlioz: Les Troyens

January 5, 2013, 12 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 6:30 pm local time

Cast: Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Marcello Giordani, and Dwayne Croft; Director: Francesca Zambello;  Conductor Fabio Luisi


Donizetti: Maria Stuarda

January 19, 2013, 12:55 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 6:30 pm local time
(Met Premiere)

Cast: Joyce DiDonato (Mary, Queen of Scots); Elza van den Heever (Elizabeth I); Director: David McVicar; Conductor: Maurizio Benini conducts.


Verdi: Rigoletto 

February 16, 2013, 12:55 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 6:30 pm local time
(New Production)

Piotr Beczala (Duke); Željko Lucic (Rigoletto);  Diana Damrau (Gilda); Conductor: Michele Mariotti; Director Michael Mayer


Wagner: Parsifal

March 2, 2013, 12 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm local time
(New Production)

Cast: Jonas Kaufmann (Parsifal); Katarina Dalayman (Kundry); Peter Mattei (Amfortas); Evgeny Nikitin (Klingsor); René Pape (Gurnemanz); Director: François Girard; Conductor: Daniele Gatti


Zandonai: Francesca da Rimini

March 16, 2013, 12 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 6:30 pm local time

Cast: Eva-Maria Westbroek, Marcello Giordani; Conductor: Marco Armiliato


Handel’s Giulio Cesare

April 27, 2013, 12 pm ET
U.S. Encore: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 6:30 pm local time
(New Production)

Cast: David Daniels, Natalie Dessay Director: David McVicar; Conductor: Harry Bicket

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Rachmaninoff Revisited

Limelight magazine of Australia is currently featuring on its website an article “The 10 Greatest Pianists of All Time” by Melissa Lesnie. The article is the result of an opinion poll taken of a number of artists including Alfred Brendel, Stephen Hough, András Schiff, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Piotr Anderszewski, Imogen Cooper, Denis Matsuev, Jonathan Biss, David Fray, Paul Lewis, Till Fellner, Pascal Rogé, Freddy Kempf, Gerard Willems, Konstantin Scherbakov, and Lars Vogt. While any such list is both fun and cheerfully meaningless, I thought it would be interesting to mention that Sergei Rachmaninoff made the cut in a rather prominent position.

 “Rachmaninoff’s Last Performance” , a post in this blog from August 2010, describes the circumstances of the pianist/composer’s last public performance in Knoxville, Tennessee, on February 17, 1943, a month prior to his death. (Since that article appeared, I have added additional information and photographs.) Sculptor Victor Bokarov created a statue (“Rachmaninoff, The Last Concert”)  that occupies the Sergei Rachmaninoff Walk in Knoxville’s World’s Fair Park. For visitors looking for the statue, the walk and statue are near the southwest corner of the park, just south of the large South Lawn.

Articles in this blog related to Rachmaninoff’s last performance:

Read information here and here on the Evgheny Brakhman concert honoring the 70th anniversary (February 17, 2013) of the last performance.

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New on the Scene: the Stiletto Brass Quintet

You can probably expect to run into this relatively new ensemble sometime in the near future. The Stiletto Brass Quintet consists of five women from around the U.S. — Amy Gilreath (trumpet), Cathy Leach (trumpet), Kelly Langenberg (horn), Jeannie Little (trombone), and Velvet Brown (tuba). I caught them at the Gatlinburg-Pittman Chamber Music Series in Gatlinburg, TN, on their way to perform at the  37th Annual Conference of the International Trumpet Guild. Their program was heavily weighted toward the contemporary brass quintet literature, although they intersperse that with some nice arrangements of jazz and pop standards. Attire-wise, they arrived on stage in black outfits with bright red stilettos–quite a visual statement.

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Mondays: New Opera by Theodore Wiprud – ‘My Last Duchess’

This notice came in of new operas by Theodore Wiprud and Robert Sirota performed on two successive Mondays, April 23 and 30, in the Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theatre in the Peter Norton Symphony Space, 95th & Broadway, NYC. My review of the premiere of Wiprud’s Violin Concerto from October 2011 is here.

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2012 Metropolitan Opera Auditions Grand Final Winners

Here are the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions Grand Finalists:

  • Janai Brugger, soprano
  • Anthony Clark Evans, baritone
  • Matthew Grills, tenor
  • Margaret Mezzacappa, mezzo-soprano
  • Andrey Nemzer, countertenor

left to right- 2012 National Council Audition Winners Andrey Nemzer, Margaret Mezzacappa, Janai Brugger, Matthew Grills, and Anthony Clark Evans. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.

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Trombonist Jeremy Wilson To Leave Vienna Philharmonic

Trombonist Jeremy Wilson, who has held the 2nd chair position with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera Orchestra since 2007, is returning to his home state of Tennessee and an Associate Professor of Trombone position at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music in Nashville. His position begins there with the Fall Semester of 2012.

In Wilson’s blog Back Row Perspectives, he details his reasons for leaving Vienna — which seem to fall into three categories not necessarily in this order: a bit of homesickness for the U.S., pressures on his family life from the Vienna Phil’s arduous touring schedule, and his interest in teaching at the university level combined  with cultivating a solo career.

Wilson hails from McMinnville, TN, and began his trombone studies with Tom Lundberg before entering the University of Tennessee in Knoxville as student of Don Hough. In 2005, he received a dual Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Trombone Performance. After UT, he attended the University of North Texas to pursue a master’s degree, where he studied with Vern Kagarice, Jan Kagarice, and Tony Baker. He joined the Vienna organizations in 2007 after winning what was his first ever orchestral audition.

In February of 2011, Wilson made a return guest appearance with the UT Symphony Orchestra in Launy Grøndahl’s Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra that I reviewed in this blog. The performance was also one of my “Best of …” picks for 2011.

But, can you ever go home again after performing in one of the world’s great orchestras? We’ll see.

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The King’s Singers in Nashville March 24th

In the music industry where perseverance generally refers to anything that lasts longer than a year, the King’s Singers stand at the top. The original ensemble of six male vocalists was formed in 1968 at King’s College Cambridge by choral music students. Forty-four years later, the sextet has had only 24 total members, with baritone Christopher Bruerton being the most recent enlistee.

Over those 44 years, the ensemble has made over 150 recordings, with their studio album, Simple Gifts, receiving a Grammy® in 2009. During their current North American tour, the group will be stopping in Nashville for another CD project on the Naxos label, this time outside the studio in a live concert recording. “Pater Noster – A Choral Reflection on the Lord’s Prayer” will be performed in concert on Saturday, March 24th at Nashville’s Cathedral of the Incarnation. The program will explore a myriad of treatments of the Lord’s Prayer in music from composers through the ages: Byrd, Palestrina, Stravinsky, Bernstein, Tavener, Duruflé, and Poulenc et al.

For the project, Naxos has brought in producer John Hill who won a Classical Grammy® for “Best Engineered Album, Classical”  last year for his work on the Nashville Symphony’s  recording of Michael Daugherty’s Metropolis Symphony. MTSU grad Kevin Edlin will be the engineer for the recording.


Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 7:30pm in Cathedral of the Incarnation, 2001 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN. Tickets are $30.00 and are available online  or by telephone 1-800-838-3006.

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Filed under Choral Performance, Classical Music News

Anthony Clark Evans Advances to 2012 Met Finals

Update 3/18/2012: List of Grand Final Winners

The 2012 winner of the Mid-South Region in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, baritone Anthony Clark Evans, has advanced to the finalist round. The finals competition concert will be held on Sunday afternoon, March 18, on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. Tickets and Info here.

The list of finalists competing are:

Janai Brugger, soprano, Western Region

Anthony Clark Evans, baritone, Mid-South Region

Matthew Grills, tenor, Gulf Coast Region

Will Liverman, baritone, Eastern Region

Margaret Mezzacappa, mezzo-soprano, Middle Atlantic Region

Andrey Nemzer, countertenor, Great Lakes Region

Kevin Ray, tenor, Midwest Region

Lauren Snouffer, soprano, Southwest Region

Michael Sumuel, bass-baritone, Rocky Mountain Region

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2012 Mid-South Region Met Opera Audition Field Takes Shape

Updated February 7, 2012 

The 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the Mid-South Region takes place at the Germantown Performing Arts Centre in the Memphis, TN area on Saturday, February 11, and the field of singers for that competition is now complete. The final district in that region to hold their auditions was the West Tennessee district on February 4. The district winners competing in the Mid-South region:

Kentucky District
Rachel Sterrenberg, 22, soprano, from Madison, GA
Thomas Gunther, 28, baritone, from Muscatine, Iowa
Vincent Turregano, 24, baritone from Alexandria, LA

Middle/East Tennessee District
Edward Hanlon, 27, bass-baritone, from Port Washington, NY
Lauren K. Frey, 24, soprano, from Pittsburgh, PA
Linda C. Brimer, 26, soprano, from Greenville, TN

Arkansas District
Jacob Watson, tenor, Wynne, Arkansas
Kristin Lassiter, soprano, from Dallas, Texas

West Tennessee District
Allison Sanders, soprano from Memphis, TN
Vanessa Isiguen, soprano from Charlotte, NC
Anthony Clark Evans, baritone from Elizabethtown, KY

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Coming This Week

In this week’s print Metro Pulse, look for my review of last weekend’s Knoxville Symphony Orchestra All-Mozart concert featuring guest conductor Edward Cumming and pianist Yeol eum Son who performed the Piano Concerto No. 21.

In this blog, I’ll have a review of the new Joshua Bell/Jeremy Denk CD on Sony Classical, French Impressions, that contains violin and piano sonatas of Saint-Saens, Franck, and Ravel. I’ll also have my impressions of the Metropolitan Opera’s new pastiche The Enchanted Island via the HD broadcast of Saturday, January 21.

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Metropolitan Opera HD Schedule for 2011-12

There are eleven Metropolitan Opera Hi-Def broadcasts scheduled for the 2011-2012 season, including the remaining new productions of the Wagner Ring Cycle–Siegfried in November and Götterdämmerung in February. Check the Met website for cast and ticket information.

October 15 — Donizetti, Anna Bolena, 12:55 pm ET
Re-broadcast: November 2, 2011 6:30 pm local time

October 29 — Mozart, Don Giovanni, 12:55 pm ET
Re-broadcast: November 16, 2011 at 6:30 pm local time

November 5 — Wagner, Siegfried, 12:00 pm ET
Re-broadcast: TBA

November 19 — Philip Glass, Satyagraha, 12:55 pm ET
Re-broadcast: December 7, 2011 at 6:30 pm local time

December 3 — Handel, Rodelinda, 12:30 pm ET
Re-broadcast: January 4, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

December 10 — Gounod, Faust, 12:55 pm ET
Re-broadcast: January 11, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

January 21 — The Enchanted Island 12:55 pm ET
Re-broadcast: February 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

February 11 — Wagner, Götterdämmerung, 12:00 pm ET
Re-broadcast: TBA

February 25 — Verdi, Ernani, 12:55 pm ET
Re-broadcast: March 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

April 7 — Massenet, Manon, 12:00 pm ET
Re-broadcast: April 25, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

April 14 — Verdi, La Traviata,  12:55 pm ET
Re-broadcast: May 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm local time

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