Monday, April 9, 2012

The Other Mary, The Grim Reaper, and SuBo fans

Hopefully you all enjoy the new layout of my blog!  It is simple and should be quick and easy to use.  Last week I started my annual Opera World Premiere Reviews.  And boy did I get some nasty responses!  First of all, I am jealous of Susan Boyle.  She is one lucky person.  But leave it to Susan Boyle fans to write me some horrible and hilarious hate mail!  If you are one of the multitude that criticized me, thank you for providing legitimacy to my egocentricity.  I wonder why people understand if Mozart would annoy me, but not Susan Boyle or...(sigh)...Josh Groban.

Oh well, hopefully I can continue my controversy with this next World Premiere!

"The Gospel According to the Other Mary"
John Adams

I cannot fully express my excitement for this piece.  John Adams is one of the most influential and most important composers in music history.  He is most famous for Nixon in China, but has had several incredible works like Dr. Atomic (opera about the making of the atomic bomb) and Transmigration of Souls (Pulitzer Prize-winning composition).  As Adams describes, this piece is a reaction to his piece on the nativity of Jesus, which is called El nino.  It is designed like a Passion oratorio - something Bach was very famous for.  A Passion restates the events of Christ's death.

This initial production will be performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and everybody's favorite conductor, Gustavo Dudamel (who is only slightly older than I am!).  It is actually an Oratorio, but Peter Sellers will stage the production beginning next year in a style reminiscent of the traditional Mexican funeral rites.  Staged oratorio - opera...eh, what's the difference?

Besides the bible stories of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus, the libretto is completely based on the poetry of prominent female writers including Dorothy Day, June Jordan, Louise Erdich, and Rosario Castellanos.  The narrators are three countertenors!  (which already implies that only the biggest houses in the world may be able to afford to stage this)  Of course there are other soloists, including Mary Magdalene, orchestra, and a large chorus.  The piece is only 90 minutes long!

Now, if you don't know much about Minimalism, this piece may be a shock to you.  But unlike other minimalist or post-minimalist composers like Glass or Reich, Adams generally composes with great excitement and with HUGE bombastic complexity.  It is kind of like the excitement of John Williams (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) if he were only able to work with 5 chords and a car alarm going off.

Fortunately for us, the Mary Magdalene in this premiere is making a couple of video blogs - they aren't followed by many, so we're going to give her a little boost!  Take a listen to a couple of them, you get to hear two 5 second clips of the music...



As for the rating - this one definitely gets my highest rating of 2 Pav hankies!  I am so excited to hear it!


Last week, I sang the National Anthem at the US Olympic Volleyball Championships.  It was quite incredible.  They had 48 courts, end to end, with bleachers and all - several thousand competitors!  I was honored to sing!

Also, I went to a Sporting KC soccer game FOR FUN!  I don't normally do things just for fun, so I had a great time tailgating with my wife and her cousins.

Shameless promotion for Bud Light
(I will promote other brands if I get free stuff, by the way!)

I cannot help but mention the incredible music I was a part of at the Easter services at Village Presbyterian Church.  Giant choir, brass orchestra, organ reed stops, Celtic Alleluia, Lift High the Cross, Hallelujah Chorus, several thousand people in the congregation, etc., etc. I feel so lucky to be a musician there; the largest church in the entire denomination!  If you love music and live in Kansas City, you MUST experience Village Presbyterian Church sometime!

Next week, we premiere The Little Match Girl Passion at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art - one of the world's greatest art museums.  It is post minimalist and the saddest thing that you have ever heard - but beautiful.  I have a solo in it;  believe it or not, my part is to sputter the word "come" as fast as I can for about 5 minutes.  It is intended to be the voice of a freezing little girl dying on the street corner.  Like I said, it is horrifically sad, but absolutely beautiful.

Finally, here is the last of John Mueter's Three Volga German Songs - Der Zecher.


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