Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 4:41 pm
There are those who consider John Cage to be one of America's most important avant-garde composers, and consequently the recent flurry of celebrations and album releases honoring what would have been his 100th birthday continues. On the other hand, many conservative listeners tend to dismiss his pieces as preposterous gimmickry, rendering the performers little more than Foley artists.
After a three-year stint as a touring pianist with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, California native Aaron Embry struck out on his own. Embry wrote his solo debut, Tiny Prayers, while on the band's Railroad Revival Tour, crafting bare-bones acoustic melodies that recall the work of Embry's past collaborators, including Elliott Smith and Willie Nelson.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 9:55 am
Over the course of an exceptionally long and productive life, the late Elliott Carter was championed by many leading conductors, soloists and ensembles. Among the most prominent is pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim, who has premiered many of Carter's works.
One hundred fifty years ago today, Giuseppe Verdi first mounted his opera La Forza del Destino ("The Force of Destiny") on a stage in St. Petersburg, Russia. Today, La Forza is considered one of Verdi's masterpieces, but it wasn't always that way. The story of Don Alvaro, whose love for the aristocratic Leonora incurs the wrath of her family, is violent and chaotic, and it flopped on its first run.
The world is full of love songs. Unrequited love, romantic and lustful love, poetic and sensual love — they're all more than covered. Plenty of tunes address betrayal and broken hearts, but actual relationship aren't so black-and-white. Confusing and captivating emotions lie just beneath the surface of even the simplest smitten love, and breakups are rarely as definitive as they're often portrayed in popular music.
When you reach a certain age, big life surprises tend to come few and far between, unless you're Harold Van Heuvelen. Van, as everyone calls him, has had a blockbuster week full of dreams fulfilled. The story of his dream starts more than 70 years ago, on Dec. 7, 1941.
Van Heuvelen enlisted in the Army after Pearl Harbor. He was posted to a base in New Orleans as an instructor for recruits. He spent the war stateside, training men who were being shipped out to Europe and the South Pacific.
The saxophonist Dayna Stephens, originally of the San Francisco Bay Area, has built up an impressive educational pedigree: Berkeley High, Berklee College of Music, the Thelonious Monk Institute's masters program. But he's really flourished by backing up greats like Kenny Barron and Idris Muhammad, and being a first-call player on both the East and West Coast. Blessed with a warm, enveloping tone, he's made two records as a bandleader, including this year's Today Is Tomorrow.