Litton Shapes The Sound Of The New York City Ballet
The New York Times offers a look at Colorado Symphony Music Director Andrew Litton as he settles into his new role at the New York City Ballet.
The Colorado Symphony in September announced Litton would step down as music director at the end of the 2015-16 season. After that, he’ll serve as artistic adviser and guest conductor for another two years.
The New York Times article offers insights on how hearing and conducting ballets inspired him throughout his career:
And when, as a young man, he dated a City Ballet dancer, Mr. Litton found himself watching the company nearly every night at what was then called the New York State Theater, experiencing for the first time many pieces that he later went on to play and record, including Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G and Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F.
“I actually learned these pieces as a pianist because I experienced the works as ballets, which is crazy — totally the wrong way around,” he said, with a laugh. “The relationship went south, but my love of these pieces never did.”
The story also covers Litton’s recording plans with City Ballet, plans for collaborating with composers on new ballets and a funny moment in which the conductor offers a new approach to music in Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker" ballet.
“This is a bit like telling the Vienna Philharmonic how to play Strauss,” he told the Times.
Litton conducts the Colorado Symphony on Feb. 19 and 20 in performances of Gustav Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony.
In Case You Missed It: Cantus on 'A Prairie Home Companion'
Did you hear who stopped by Lake Wobegon last weekend? Cantus, the Minneapolis-based male vocal ensemble paid a visit to Garrison Keillor and sang "There's a Meeting Here Tonight" and "MLK" on A Prairie Home Companion.
Yeah, it was technically a rerun from 2012. But it still sounded great. Hear the episode for yourself:
Remembering David Bowie's Coolest Orchestral Moments
Music fans are mourning David Bowie, who died Sunday at 69 after releasing a well-received new album and video last week. Bowie's music straddled genres for nearly 50 years, and some of his best work boasts gorgeous orchestral arrangements.
To take an early example, an orchestra adds a powerful sonic layer to his breakthrough single "Space Oddity" from 1969.
Strings add a dramatic backdrop to "Starman" from Bowie's 1972 album "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars." (The song turned up again in the recent blockbuster "The Martian" starring Matt Damon.)
Then there's composer Philip Glass's "Low Symphony," a piece that reworked music from Bowie's 1977 album "Low." Glass said he loved taking Bowie's powerful melodies and placing them in a symphonic setting.
"The difficulty was there was a lot of material I never got to," Glass said. "One theme could become a 15-minute symphonic movement."
A String of Shostakovich Performances By Colorado Classical Ensembles
The music of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich turns up on the programs for several upcoming concerts in the Denver area.
Shostakovich wrote 15 symphonies, 15 string quartets and many more orchestral and chamber pieces before his death in 1975. Here's what Colorado ensembles are performing by Shostakovich in the coming weeks:
CPR Classical offers its own exploration of Shostakovich and his music each weeknight at 7 this week. Hear recordings by the Pacifica Quartet, Colorado Chamber Players, Trio Con Brio Copenhagen and the Takacs Quartet -- which recently landed on CPR Classical's roundup of 2015's best releases.
As a conductor, he had an uncanny ability to take charge of an orchestra and shaping its sound using only his hands. This video of the New York Philharmonic playing Claude Debussy's "La Mer" is a great example:
As a composer, he created intricate music that explored serialism and other innovations of 20th century classical music.
Those compositions often left listeners cold. But here's a doorway into one of his more important pieces. A 20-year-old Boulez wrote 12 Notations for piano in 1945 after studying as a favorite student of composer Olivier Messiaen. Explore the Score offers an interactive look at the piece with insights from Boulez himself.
Finally, here's a quick nod to one of Boulez's unique collaborations. To many music fans, he's probably best known for conducting orchestral and chamber music by avant-garde rock guitarist Frank Zappa. Here's a taste of the results, captured on the 1984 album "Boulez Conducts Zappa: The Perfect Stranger:"