Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Linda Holt provides insights into contemporary Chinese music in new Beijing documentary

There is no doubt about it: the future of Western classical music is closely linked to the growth and great success of "art music" in China and other Asian countries.

This topic is discussed in an exciting new video produced by the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. I was privileged to discuss my own views on this revolutionary culture shift from counter 16:40 to 22:00 on this video, which appears on YouTube, Facebook, and the Violin Channel. Please share with your friends and colleagues interested in all forms of music as well as Chinese culture and practices.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mv2zjKS6IYk

https://www.facebook.com/theviolinchannel/videos/2811575689090788

 


Monday, November 9, 2020

My review in Backtrack.com this week: Tabita Berglund conducted works by Sibelius and Beethoven in a concert of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, November 6, 2020. Boris Giltburg performed the Beethoven Third Piano Concerto and, as an encore, dazzled with the final movement of Beethoven's Sonata No. 30. Review link follows:

Masterful direction: Tabita Berglund conducts the RSNO in Beethoven and Sibelius


Saturday, October 31, 2020

I Sing Silicon Valley Medley; Picasso Celebration Favorites

Here are two separate recordings I reviewed recently for ConcertoNet.com : "Here I Stand" with I Sing Silicon Valley (choir) and Les Musiques de Picasso:

I Sing Silicon Valley:  https://concertonet.com/scripts/cd.php?ID_cd=4604

Les Musiques de Picasso:  https://concertonet.com/scripts/cd.php?ID_cd=4593



Bruckner's E Minor Mass, Aliya Turetayeva's Debut

Here are links to my recent reviews for ConcertoNet.com of two separate CDs :Bruckner's E Minor Mass and Motets, and Aliya Turetayeva's debut album of Schumann favorites:

https://concertonet.com/scripts/cd.php?ID_cd=4614

https://concertonet.com/scripts/cd.php?ID_cd=4616






Monday, August 17, 2020

The Bargain (a poem in honor of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth)

 

The Bargain

 

The pianist sat worried at the keys.

It was that moment when the sun emerges from the night.

Or was it dusk, and had the sun just set?

I forget.

 

Whatever time it was, whatever day,

The man, not a religious sort,

Began to pray.

 

“I have no music,” was the young man’s cry.

I have no songs to give. Lord, say

The word, unloose what’s pent up in my heart.

I’ll change my ways, live only for my art.

 

“How I regret my misspent days.

Let my soul sing again, and You

Alone will be the object of my endless praise.”

 

Prayers from these swaggering self-centered fools,

Who usually God deny, intrigue the Deity.

And so He stopped the sun’s descent (or rise)

And brushed His hand across the pianist’s eyes.

 

It was a spell,

And so it fell upon the sad man’s soul.

Near blinded by the Light

That sat beside him on the quilted bench,

He blinked, too stunned to gasp.

Every finger in his fists unclenched, unclasped.

 

The pianist saw no form or face,

But heard resounding in his bones

An unmistakable deep voice the words intone:

“Be silent. Listen carefully to what I say.

I have a deal to make with you today.”

 

Tears welled in the young man’s eyes.

Who would have thought that prayers

So easy and immediately could yield

Spectacular results like these. 

“I'll go church more often,” he briefly mused,

“And not make fun of nuns and rosaries.”


“What is this deal?” the musician asked,

“Will I compose again? Will thousands thrill

To bagatelles and variations without end,

To fugues, and trills, and lilting rounds, and

Choruses and songs? Will my creative power,

once-inexhaustible, return ere long?

 

“You shall, it will,” the Master said,

“if you agree to terms I offer you

So light and free. All I will restore to you

And more, if you make one small sacrifice

For me.

 

“I’ll give you all the music that Heaven can embrace.

I’ll yield the murmurs of My Heart,

The swirling stars in space.

The wing beat of a hummingbird

The crimson of the dawn, the lion’s roar,

I’ll fill your soul with sound that never has been heard before.”

 

The young man was transfigured,

He almost would have glowed,

Except the thought of one small thing,

Unknown, his ardor slowed.

 

“That all sounds quite enticing,” he said

With some control. “But I can’t help feeling

The price will weigh too heavy on my soul.”

 

The Light dimmed briefly, then flared bright.

“There is a cost,” He said. “I’ll give you all my music.

But your hearing take instead.”

 

“My hearing!” The pianist was silent. Then, bending from the waist,

He fell upon the keyboard. The keys crashed in their place.

A terrible discord filled the room. The sun’s reflection on the floor,

Quivered, then was no more.

 

“It is the law of Nature I created,” the Mighty One whispered in his ear.

“For any force of Nature, an opposite reaction must appear.

 

“Humanity, potentially my greatest feat, hungers for art to lift them from defeat.

There is no other mortal, save yourself, who can deliver them from grinding strife.”

 

“But how could I endure, not hearing my own work?

This is my life!”

 

“You will see it in the faces of those who do

And in their lives, transformed, because of you.

You will see it in the changes you have rent:

breeze-lifted seedlings, heaven-sent.”

 

The musician sat up straight, then looked away. 

He could not tell if it were night or day. 

But as time passed, the strain

Of sorrow on his face did not stay long.

 

“I never could resist a song,” he said at last, 

with a hint of a wink, looking back at the Light

which already had begun to shrink.

“Perhaps it’s fair.“

 

“You’ll never know unless you take my dare.” 

The Wise One paused.

“I know the pain of sacrifice. But never mind. 

You’ll be glad when it is over,

but it still hurts at the time.”

 

And so the Light receded, and the day began.

(You see, it was a rising sun, as Franklin knew.)

At the keyboard, fresh improvisations flew

From the fingers of the sad young man. Unfurled,

 

They rose into the air

And through the window's light,

In the direction of the sun

And the shepherd's silent pipe.

                                                                                                                                             --L.L.Holt, 2020



            Christmas Pianist, a painting by James Nyika