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Another Chance To See the Great Béla Fleck . . . All the Way Through

The Music Scene

Before Mumford & Sons, and before Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, there was Béla Fleck, widely acknowledged to be the greatest virtuoso to pick up a banjo.
My wife and I first saw his touring band, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones, at the Palace Theater in Albany, NY, just a few months after our first child was born. Being the anxious parents that we were, we skipped out at intermission to get home to our baby. But that first act was still a memorable experience.

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The WSO Initiates A Grand New Mission

The Music Scene

The Waterbury Symphony Orchestra under its music director Leif Bjaland opens its 76th season this weekend with a program titled “Force of Nature.” Featured is John Williams’s harp concerto, “On Willows and Birches,” written for and performed by Ann Hobson Pilot, retired principal harpist for the Boston Symphony.
Williams was inspired to compose the piece by a passage in Psalm 137 that depicts harps hanging in trees. It is an ethereal work in which you can practically hear the wind rushing through the strings.

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Letting the Fresh Air In

The Music Scene

Last weekend, the Bard College Conservatory of Music celebrated the 75th birthday of renowned American composer Joan Tower with a gala concert.
Just days shy of her birthday, Tower sounded as feisty, buoyant and vivid as someone half her age — exactly the way her music sounds. Hardly like the “dinosaur” she described herself as.

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Spotify: A Dream Solution for Music Lovers

The Music Scene

When I was in high school, I bought a lot of music albums. I had a couple of those CD towers overflowing with cases in my bedroom, and I always had a thick binder full of discs in my car. I even burned playlists onto blank CDs and wrote clever names on them in black marker. (I thought they were clever, at least.)
Eventually I replaced that thick binder with an iPod, and my CD tower started collecting dust. Then I ditched the iPod for an iPhone, and only a few mp3s ever made it onto that.

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It’s Not Over Yet

The Music Scene

While many area music festivals have ended (Bard, Norfolk), or are winding down (Tanglewood) for the season, Music Mountain carries us through the late summer days into September. This weekend brings us two concerts with the Shanghai String Quartet full of eminently listenable masterpieces of the repertoire.
Saturday’s program begins with one of Haydn’s best-loved quartets, “The Lark” (Op. 64, No. 5) and moves onto Shosta-kovich’s String Quartet No. 6 in G Major (Op. 101). This latter work is brimming with light and playfulness, yet not without the composer’s trademark pathos.

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Bringing The Met to Us

Music Scene

The Metropolitan Opera may have decided to improve U.S.-Russian relations on its own: Three Russian operas are among the 10 works included in the Met’s 2013-2014 Live in HD series.
Opera fans will also get to enjoy two operas conducted by James Levine, the company’s music director who will be returning to the podium after a two-year absence due to medical problems.

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Celebrating a Decade of Making Music

The Music Scene

Two homegrown ensembles have benefit concerts on upcoming weekends highlighting their wide-ranging styles and abilities.
Crescendo, the group founded by German-trained keyboardist and conductor Christine Gevert, celebrates its 10th anniversary with a benefit concert titled Music in the Age of Enlightenment.

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Stravinsky and Others

The Music Scene

As the Bard Music Festival gets ready to mark “Stravinsky and His World” beginning this weekend, I found my thoughts turning to painting.
A relatively unheralded young Spanish artist completed a large canvas in the year 1907. He called it “The Bordello of Avinyó Street” (an address in Barcelona); it has come down to us as “Les Dempisellles d’Avignon.”  It depicts five women, prostitutes presumably, head-on, but in no way recognizable to us or anyone who saw it at the time.

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More Trouble for the BSO

The Music Scene

Last Monday The New York Times wondered if the Boston Symphony Orchestra should start a disabled list. After all, the prior week had been one of the most frustrating in BSO history.
First, newly hired conductor Andris Nelsons, a healthy, dynamic 34-year-old, was scheduled to make his first appearance after signing his contract conducting the Verdi Requiem last Saturday night. But he hit his head on a door, yes, a door, in Bayreuth, Germany, and suffered a concussion. He canceled.

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New Youth and Vigor at Tanglewood

The Music Scene

This weekend, in the midst of Tanglewood’s 76th season, conductor Andris Nelsons was to lead a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s masterful Requiem. Nelsons is following the great James Levine, who stepped down as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in 2011 after a troubled, decade-long tenure.
But Nelsons has had a severe concussion and will not be in the Shed with the BSO this Saturday. It was to have been his first appearance since being named the BSO’s music director this past May.

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