Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lowenthal at Rutgers Piano Forum

NOTE: I'm removing this post from my archives in February. For some reason (that appears to have nothing to do with this blog) it has been attracting a steady drumbeat of robo page views and its skewing my stats.

Rutgers University's Nicholas Music Center will host regular piano forums featuring distinguished guest artists in recital and master classes. The hall sports a new Steinway and is eager to start showing it off. I don't know yet how often the forums will happen and the info isn't yet posted on the Nicholas website. When I know more, I'll update.

The first installment will be 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 30. Pianist Jerome Lowenthal, will perform and give a masterclass. Lowenthal is a living piece of piano history having been coached by Artur Rubinstein and appearing with the world's great conductors, including, among the living, Barenboim, Ozawa, Tilson Thomas, Temirkanov, and Slatkin, and, among those relegated to history books and vinyl recordings, Bernstein, Ormandy, Monteux and Stokowski. Lowenthal is a teacher at Juilliard and is planning a recording this year of the complete book of Liszt's "Annes de pelerinage."

Lowenthal will give an hourlong recital of work by Liszt followed by a two-hour master class with Mason Gross pianists. A great opportunity to see and hear some of the best of the great piano tradition as it is transmitted from one generation to the next. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.

Also, according to the press release: "PIZZA will be provided between the recital and the master class, for all those who attend." That's their capitalization. The only other words in all caps are "JEROME LOWENTHAL" at the start of his bio. Don't underestimate pizza as a marketing tool.

Nicholas Music Center is located 85 George St., New Brunswick on Rutgers Douglass campus.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Axelrod Classical Music Festival

The first of what is projected to be an annual Axelrod Classical Music Festival starts this evening (Sat., March 20) with an 8 p.m. performance by pianist Julia Zilberquist and singers from Pacific Encore Performances. The performance is at the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in the Jewish Community Center, 100 Grant Ave., Deal. Tickets are $15 and available through the Axelrod Box Office.

The festival continues tomorrow with several other events. I'll be there at 10 a.m. for the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra's Young Artist Concerto Competition judging. We have a fine roster of talent and I'm looking forward to spending the morning listening to them play beautiful concerto movements. The competition is free and open to the public.

You can also see my column in last Sunday's Asbury Park Press for more info.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Why Health Care Reform Matters to Musicians

This part is dead easy: Musicians typically either don't have health care insurance or they have to buy it out of their salary at retail. If they teach part-time at a large-enough school, they can sometimes buy into the school's health plan out of their salaries. Some orchestras and other companies offer insurance, but those are few.

How much do musicians typically make? Not much. How much do part-time teachers make? Even less. Neither makes enough to buy health insurance out of pocket at today's prices.

If you don't have health insurance and you're subsisting on a musician's wages, you're at risk of being slammed by the one-two punch:
  1. inadequate treatment through free and low-cost clinics and
  2. the extraordinary retail costs of treatment at hospitals and more reputable private offices. These costs are often higher for those without insurance. (When you're paying out of pocket, ask your doctor if there is a way he can lower the cost.
    Sometimes they will.)

Lacking health insurance, the average musician is likely to wind up delaying appropriate treatment, making the illness worse and then having to pay out of pocket for what might have been more easily treatable. If the musician gets treated in the emergency room and can't pay, the rest of us pick it up. Medical bills rise, our premiums go up.

The health care reform that the House is considering takes steps to try to insure the uninsured, control health costs and regulate the increases insurance companies can make to premiums. For all three reasons, musicians should be asking their representatives to support the legislation. If you have insurance now through an organization, please remember your colleagues who are not so lucky and raise your voice.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Princeton Symphony Orchestra

Always nice to see three 20th Century works on the same program. In this case, it's doubly daring since all three works have a similar character, even if they are starkly different in harmonic language.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra is performing Schoenberg's "Transfigured Night," Barber's "Adagio for Strings" and John Tavener's “The Protecting Veil” in a concert this Sunday, March 21, at Princeton University's Richardson Auditorium. The latter is a work commissioned by cellist Steven Isserlis and will be performed here with former PSO principal cellist Qiang Tu as soloist. The group will be led by guest conductor Andrew Grams.

Tavener's work takes its inspiration from the Feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, a celebration of the Byzantine church recalling the Blessed Virgin’s appearance to the Greeks in Constantinople in the 10th century. Like the more famous Barber and Schoenberg works, the mood is both meditative and transcendent.

The program is in cooperation with the Princeton University Art Museum, located a short walk across campus from Richardson. Concertgoers are invited to tour the exhibit of Byzantine art, "Architecture as Icon" following the performance. The exhibit addresses the role of architecture in Byzantine art, particularly the role of architectural designs as religious icons.

Tickets are available by calling the Richardson Auditorium box office, 609-258-5000, or by visiting For more information visit the PSO's website,


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Haydn's "Creation"

Perfectly timed for the beautiful spring weather, the Garden State Philharmonic and the Shrewsbury Chorale perform Haydn's "Creation" oratorio 4 p.m. Saturday at Christ Episcopal Church, 415 Washington St., Toms River. GSP director Anthony LaGruth conducts the joint ensemble. Soloists are Elizabeth Andrews Roberts , soprano, Kevin Radtke, tenor, and Christopher Dickerson, bass.

Tickets are $20 to $10, available at 732-255-0460. More information is available at the GSP website,


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Two New Brunswick Concerts Sunday

Two concerts coming up, but you'll have to flip a coin to choose between them as they are both 4 p.m. this Sunday, March 7.

Heads: The New Brunswick Chamber Orchestra in a concert of Hungary-inspired music at the Hungarian American Athletic Center, 233 Somerset St., New Brunswick. Featured composers include Kálmán Imre, Leo Weiner, Johannes Brahms, Zoltan Kodaly, Ferenc Erkel and others.

Along with the orchestra will be soloists Lilla Heinrich, soprano, Giulia Utz, contralto, Jack Zamboni, tenor and Brandon Gaines, bass. Mark Trautman conducts.

Tickets are $20 with discounts for students and seniors. Call 732-249-6999 or buy your tickets at the door. Visit the group's website, for more information.

Tails: Chamber trio, Tripleplay Winds, will perform a free concert of contemporary flute, clarinet, and bassoon music at Christ Church, 5 Paterson St., New Brunswick. The program, part of the church's free Evensong series for Sunday Vespers, includes work by Paquito D'Rivera, who I mention in a separate Asbury Park Press article that will be published later this week. D'Rivera is on a kind of mini-tour of the city, performing the following weekend with the Rutgers University Orchestra in New York and the Spelman Jazz ensemble at Nicholas Music Center. His Habanera from Aires Tropicales will be performed by Tripleplay on Sunday.

Other composers on the program are 20th century figure Ernst Toch, Luis F. Rodriguez Morales and Robert Mucynski.

You can visit the church's website or call the Music Office at 732.545.6262 ext. 3 for directions and information.