Articles by Michael Miller

Music

The Modus Opera Orchestra, Artistic Director and Conductor, Justin Bischof, after a Brilliant Debut, Carries On with Great Choral Works of the Renaissance

Following the brilliant success of their inaugural concert on November 23rd of last year, the Modus Opera Orchestra, Justin Bischof, Artistic Director and Conductor, will present a choral concert including two classics of the Mass literature, Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli and Byrd's Mass Four Voices, along with premieres of three works by Dr. Bischof on February 1, 2020 at 7:30pm. This makes this group rather unique in New York, in that it offers a cappella chorus performances by its 16-person choir in addition to orchestral concerts and works for chorus and orchestra. This concert was an inauguration of an organization formed by the merger of two pre-existing groups, the Modus Opera and the Canadian Chamber Orchestra of New York City.
Music

Alexander Kobrin, pianist, in Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms at Zankel Hall

Yamaha Artist Services take exemplary care of their protégés, and these include pianists at different stages of their careers and of many different inclinations. In Alexander Kobrin they have a pianist of the highest technical accomplishment who follows his own unique path in interpretation. Assistant Professor of Piano at the Eastman School of Music, he was trained in his native Russia at the Gnessins Special Music School and Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory with professors Tatiana Zelikman and Lev Naumov. He has achieved an outstanding record in international piano competitions, winning a gold medal at the Twelfth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. His numerous successes in competitions also include top prizes at the Busoni International Piano Competition (First Prize), Hamamatsu International Piano Competition (Top Prize), Scottish International Piano Competition in Glasgow (First Prize).
Music

Bach Two Ways: the Bethlehem Christmas Concert with Handel and Bach and a WA Concert with Webern and Bach

The Bethlehem Bach Choir and their many different spheres of activity are all about J. S. Bach, but other related composers, some of whom are internationally renowned and some still in high school, are also allowed to come in. Outside of this special community, even during the time between the end of his career and the Bach renaissance of the second quarter of the 19th century, Bach was never totally forgotten. His magnetism drew in Mozart, Beethoven and others, as well as post-renaissance composers like Brahms and Bruckner...on to the 20th century in Busoni and the composers of the Second Viennese School. A little fast driving enabled me to experience both an old tradition reaching back before Mendelssohn, as well as a newer one, in which Bach could be partnered with Anton Webern—this at one of Charles Neidich and Ayako Oshima's marvelous  WA Concerts.
HHA

Bard Music Festival 2019: Korngold and his World (REVISED)

As I return to the Bard Music Festival year after year, I notice that the spaces of Olin Hall and the Fisher Center, become more crowded and sold-out notices appear ever more frequently. I also notice that I’ve seen a good many of the attendees before. There is certainly a minority who are passionately interested in one composer or his historical and cultural context and not in the others, but I am confident in saying that the core of the Bard audience consists of recidivists. Lately the choice of focal composers has shifted from the undisputed pantheon to composers who are interesting because of their cultural position in their own time. Saint-Saëns, Chávez, and Rimsky Korsakov fall into this category. The audience keeps on growing. It’s obvious that we share a broad interest in western art music, but the way in which the individual composers are presented is exploratory, and, given the presence of musicians and musicologists, bound to take a controversial course. I always leave not only knowing something I didn’t know before, but with a profound new insight, and, most important of all, questions to mull over during the months that separate us from the next Bard Festival.
Opera

Giovanni Bottesini’s Comic Opera, Alì Babà (1871), Reconstructed and Conducted by Anthony Barrese at Opera Southwest

I have not yet embarked on the inevitable voyage through Conrad L. Osborne’s 827-page Opera and Opera, a report on the dire state of an art form many of us love as dearly as life itself, but Ralph Locke’s thoughtful discussion in these pages and Joseph Horowitz’s review in the Wall Street Journal have reinforced my awareness that performances like those cited by Mr. Horowitz, the Met performances of Verdi’s Otello on February 12, 1938 or Siegfried on January 30, 1937 are rarely even approximated today. However it does still happen, as it did the evening of April 28, 2018, when Pretty Yende joined Michael Fabiano in a thrilling Lucia di Lammermoor, also at the Met. One is even less likely to hear a performance of Siegfried or Otello of that caliber today.
Theater

DruidShakespeare: Richard III, directed by Garry Hynes at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival

Garry Hynes’ concept, which balanced respect for Shakespeare’s text with its many parallels with current events in the United States, Russia, and the UK, was, well, unimpeachable. Last year I enthusiastically reviewed a compelling, if rough and ready production directed by Austin Pendleton, which arose out of a feeling that Richard III—actually The Wars of the Roses, incorporating excerpts from Henry VI, Part 3—urgently needed to be put before an American audience for them to see the evils of contemporary politics reflected in it, no matter what limitations the situation placed on production values. The niceties of scansion and rhetoric were at times compromised by a passion to get the message across. Druid’s Richard III was impeccably, beautifully spoken, and costumed with an elegance which went against the contemporary trend towards plainness and recalled the sumptuous look of early twentieth century productions. Yet the messages were brought out with adroitness and eloquence.
Coming Up and Of Note

Only a week away! Michael Miller’s Solo Play, “Transfiguration”, at the Metropolitan Playhouse and the New York International Fringe Festival, October 12th (7:30 pm) and 13th (2 pm). Buy your tickets now!

Michael Miller's solo play "Transfiguration," winner of Best One-Man Drama at the 2018 United Solo Festival, will return to New York City on October 12th (7:30 pm) and 13th (2 pm) at the Metropolitan Playhouse as part of the 2019 New York International Fringe Festival. Gary Hilborn will repeat his award-winning performance, directed by Graydon Gund.
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