The Bach Choir of Bethlehem surely must be one of the most extraordinary musical institutions in the world. Situated a small city with an important industrial history, now entirely in the past, the Bach Choir has a tradition connecting it with a point in the performance history of Bach's music which antedates the Mendelssohnian Bach Revival by six years. Bethlehem can also be proud that this venerable institution did not emerge from the indulgences of the city's wealthiest families, but from the religious traditions of the Moravian Protestants who settled there in the 18th century. Following the precepts of Martin Luther, they held their musical traditions in high esteem.
As the Bard Music Festival has sailed through the great names in European and American music over the past twenty-five years—although there are some people who don't like Elgar, Liszt, or Wagner, and some who doubt Saint-Saëns' or Sibelius' importance (if they attended the Festival they left with their minds changed)—the focal points of the festival have been generally unchallenged. This year, with Carlos Chávez, the first composer from south of the border, there has been more debate. Many attendees—and especially non-attendees—questioned the worthiness of Carlos Chávez as a subject. He is largely forgotten, and many of those who do remember him, do not think of him kindly. Even Leon Botstein himself expressed a critical attitude towards Chávez,
Ian Hobson's last appearance in New York was an ambitious Brahms cycle in September-October 2013. Extending over six weeks, it offered a comprehensive survey of Brahms' solo music for piano and his chamber music for piano. I praised this enthusiastically at the time not only for the intelligence and sensitivity of the playing, but for the thoughtful programming, and the outstanding program book, with extensive essays by Paul Griffiths, O.B.E. Just last week, Ian Hobson began an equally ambitious series of six recitals, even more impressively organized, on a more abstract concept, bearing the title "Preludes, Études, Variations," continuing monthly into April 2016, with this first concert, here reviewed, at Subculture, NYC, as well as the next on December 1. The rest will continue at Merkin Hall on the Upper West Side. This series is entirely solo, accompanied only by Mr. Griffiths' incisive notes. In addition to 19th- and 20th-century classics of these three musical genres, there are world premieres of new works commissioned by Hobson for the series.
Daddy Long Legs has tiptoed into the 2015-2016 New York theater season. It’s amazing that anyone knows about this show, and yet the word has gotten around: Daddy Long Legs is an enchanting chamber musical.
Paul Taylor, one of the great modern masters of dance, is in his eighties and still hard at work. This documentary takes us inside the artist's creative process. It's a fascinating journey even though I couldn't explain it (and neither, it seems, can Taylor.)
A jaded film professor and two students form a love and work triangle in Schooled, winner of the 2015 NY International Fringe Festival Overall Excellence Award for Playwriting and part of the Fringe Encore Series at Soho Playhouse. Claire (Lilli Stein) is a smart young woman marked by her hard life background, Jake (Stephen Friedrich) plays her boyfriend born into wealth and privilege, a guy to whom everything has always come easy. The play, written by Lisa Lewis and very well directed by James Kautz, delves into the lengths we go to get ahead as the students compete for the same grant to make a film.
The sixth United Solo Theater Festival has already been underway for over three weeks, but it will continue on up to November 22, offering an even greater wealth and variety of stage work than its predecessors. When its founder and artistic director, Omar Sangare, first considered the name, I was sceptical, but I'm happy to say that I've been proved wrong many times over. The name actually describes the nature of the festival to perfection, for every autumn, Dr. Sangare and his team unite the world of solo theater, bringing together over 150 fiercely independent actors, playwrights, directors, and other theater workers at Theatre Row from Canada, Australia, Ireland, the UK, Poland, Romania, all over the United State, and other countries.
Don't miss Lucas Miller's The Box Officer, a lightning-fast, side-splitting "hommage" to Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, to be premiered just before Sunshine's special midnight screening of a newly restored print of the 1976 classic Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 9 through 11. Just what happens when the dark passions of the streets of New York invade the four walls of a cinema?