Monthly Archives: May 2016

May Link Roundup!

I’ve been busy, but it hasn’t shown much on the blog. So I thought it was time for a link roundup. Yeehaw!

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No, not this kind of roundup, but this does make for an intriguing preview image

First off, I’ve started a series of essays for Interlude.hk about the early lives of composers, and how those early lives affected their later creative output. My first two subjects were Gustav Mahler and Rebecca Clarke.

I also wrote a major essay for Frank Almond’s “A Violin’s Life” volume 2 recording. Frank, as you surely know, is the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony, and he recently Kickstartered an amazing recording to document the history of his storied (stolen) Strad. The recording includes the ebullient violin sonata in B-major by Amanda Maier-Röntgen. Click here, then on the name Amanda Maier-Röntgen for my essay, which gives a broad outline of Amanda’s life and muses about the role women’s works (should?) have in our canon. Frank’s recording is great, and you should really check it out.

I also had the honor of giving the intermission talk at the Mother’s Day Musical Offering concert at Hamline University on May 8. The works of Germaine Tailleferre and Louise Farrenc were on the program, and they were given gorgeous performances. At intermission, co-artistic director Susan Billmeyer and I discussed why the works of women aren’t performed more frequently. Why are we still surprised to see them on programs even in 2016? Everyone in the organization welcomed me warmly into the fold. It was a heartwarming way to spend the day. Thanks to all those who came out… I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I did.

I’m booking several pre-concert talk appearances for various Minnesota ensembles for the 16/17 season, and when the time is right, I’ll share that information with y’all. It might be difficult to find an orchestra willing to program work by women, but thankfully, local chamber music ensembles are picking up the dropped baton. There’s a lot to look forward to next season. Stay tuned.

If you want me to come gab at your event, let me know, because apparently that’s a thing I’m doing nowadays.

I also learned and performed the first movement of Maddalena Laura Sirmen’s sixth violin concerto with my amateur string orchestra this month. I wrote my own cadenza and everything. I hope to get around to writing about the experience, but if I don’t, I want to give a shout-out to the String Connection orchestra in Eau Claire for being way more adventurous in their programming than the biggest American orchestras. *thumbs up*

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RIP Jane Little

Jane Little, a bass player in the Atlanta Symphony for 71 years, collapsed at a concert this afternoon. She later died. I pray that her passage was a gentle one: that in her final moments here she felt no pain, only passion burning for her art.

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I never knew Jane Little, and it feels presumptuous to say too much about her. All I can do is extend my deepest, truest, most heartfelt condolences to her friends, family, and colleagues…and listen to what they have to say about her extraordinary life and career.

That being said…

I have a ticket sitting in will-call at the Minnesota Orchestra box office.

I will be over a thousand miles from where Jane Little started, made, and ended her career.

But I will enter Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. The players will come onstage. (The concertmaster will be a woman.) (Her stand partner, too.) And I will see the Minnesota bass section, headed now by Kristen Bruya (principal) and Kate Nettleman (acting associate principal).

I will look up to Kristen and Kate as they share a stand. I will watch their eyes fiercely criss-crossing the music, their gazes snapping up intently to follow the conductor. (On Friday, the conductor will be a woman.) They will lose themselves in the sound for us. The bass section is the section that brings the orchestra to life. They will make a mighty rumble.

And even though I never met Jane Little, in that moment, I will think of Jane Little. And I will silently thank her, and celebrate the legacy she left for all of us.

Here is a profile on Jane Little from the AFM.

“I thought now why would any girl want to play that big thing, but when I started playing the bass, it was just…I just fell in love with it.” – NBC Nightly News

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