Author Archives: Matthew Guerrieri

New England’s Prospect: Celebrating Ned Rorem @ 90 in Boston

An empty frame in the Dutch Room of the Gardner Museum

New York Festival of Song visited the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s Calderwood Hall with a program celebrating Ned Rorem’s 90th birthday. The frame—the tonality, the lyricism, the elegant hedonism—is obvious; but what’s contained within the frame, what is and isn’t there, is something considerably more elusive.

Sounds Heard: Florestan Recital Project—Early Songs of Samuel Barber

Florestan Recital Project: Early Songs of Samuel Barber

One of the more endearingly paradoxical indications of compositional success is that interest gets piqued in music that even the composer had largely forgotten about. Unpublished works, unfinished works, juvenilia—when even that becomes fair game, you know you’ve (posthumously, usually) made it. The latest recordings from Florestan Recital Project pay that tribute to Samuel Barber (1910-1981).

Hail to Thee, and Sing Out!

Microphone

Congratulations! You have made it to the end of Education Week at NewMusicBox. And, as with any educational rite of passage, for your time, trouble, and effort, you deserve that privilege of scholars everywhere: a commencement and the singing of an alma mater.

Sounds Heard (Historical Edition): Henry Brant—Young People’s Records

The Lonesome House

There is something invigorating about the diversity of Henry Brant’s career. But there is one corner of his catalog that doesn’t get mentioned much: his music for children. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Brant wrote three original scores for records produced by Young People’s Records and its successor, the Children’s Record Guild—some of the hippest children’s records ever made.

New England’s Prospect: Arlene Sierra at Yellow Barn

Sierra’s style is definitely more modernist than maverick, but her accent is a little more subtle and elusive. The music is dense, dissonant, precipitously fluid, but there’s a groundedness to the extravagance, pitch and even tonal centers anchoring the busy crosstalk.

New England’s Prospect: Babylon Revisited

American operas, apparently, can have the second acts American lives cannot. The concert performance, at Tanglewood on July 11, of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby—after the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, who famously hypothesized that particular limitation of biographical dramaturgy—was a bid for redemption.

Acknowledging the Rhino: Talking Art In a Capitalist World

With my antennae more or less permanently oriented toward music and the arts, the defining mood of this year’s commencement season has been realism. This is a year in which, it seems, society is determined not to let students of the arts out into the world without making sure they’re painfully aware of what awaits them.