BackStage

Amy Iwano's blog

Going National

Apr 6, 2006

We are very excited that, beginning next spring, the WFMT Radio Network will syndicate a 13-week series of The Chicago Chamber Musicians  performances!  We expect that the series will be picked up by 140 stations across the country.  CCM’s series will be preceded by music from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and followed by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival to constitute a wonderful year of chamber music for listeners around the U.S.Also, tune in to WFMT this Saturday morning from 9 am to noon for CCM’s 20th anniversary subscription drive for the 2006-2007 season.  CCM’s founding artists, Larry Combs, Joseph Genualdi, Deborah Sobol and Gail Williams, will share stories and talk with host Lisa Flynn, and we’ll air some terrific music and offer special premiums and giveaways. Some highlights of next season include an all-Schubert concert, a set of concerts with the fabulous clarinetist Eddie Daniels, the charming Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes, the world premiere of a work by John Harbison for the entire CCM ensemble, and an all-Hungarian program.Speaking of Schubert, John Gibbons is offering a class on “Schubert and the Rise of Romanticism” through the U of C’s Graham School.  He seems to be extremely popular among his students and will also offer a course on Brahms this summer.

The Power of Radio

Fri, 3/31/2006 - 5:10pm — Amy Iwano
Mar 31, 2006

Several people have mentioned to me recently that they were exposed to or learned about classical music by listening to the radio.While there is no substitute for a real performance, radio has brought much music to people and also brought many people to music who would not otherwise have a chance to explore the breadth and wealth of classical music. Recordings, iPods and downloads are wonderful once you’ve chosen what you want to hear, but radio can help you discover a composer, artist or work that you might not have come to on your own.It’s unfortunate that Chicago does not receive National Public Radio’s daily classical music show, Performance Today, which provides both news and performances from the music world. Though we can’t hear it locally, Performance Today will broadcast CCM’s performance of Gounod’s Petite Symphonie from one of our concerts last fall. When PT broadcast a work of CCM last month, a listener in Montana called our office asking for more of our music!This Monday, April 3, WFMT will broadcast, as it does each month, CCM’s First Monday concert from the Chicago Cultural Center. These free performances happen live on the first Monday of each month in Preston Bradley Hall, with the artists introducing each work. If you can’t make it in person, please tune in!CCM has recently announced its 20th anniversary season in 2006-07. That listener in Montana – as well as many others across the country – will have a chance to hear more CCM performances beginning next spring when the WFMT Radio Network will syndicate a 13-week series of CCM concerts, as announced in the season release. We’re very pleased to be extending our city’s reputation as a music capital through this series.

Perfection is...

Mar 16, 2006
It’s sort of curious to me to read all of the announcements about next season that are appearing in the papers these days when there is still so much of the current season left!

I’m particularly looking forward to The Chicago Chamber Musicians’ upcoming performances of one of my favorite chamber works – Schubert’s gorgeous Shepherd on the Rock, for soprano, clarinet and piano, the text telling a tale of a shepherd boy longing for his love.

Perfection is Benita Valente’s recording of the piece (along with Harold Wright and Rudolf Serkin) – an output of the Marlboro Music Festival. The soprano for CCM’s March 26 and 27 concerts will be Hyunah Yu, who has also participated in the Marlboro Festival, making her Chicago debut, with CCM ensemble artists, Larry Combs and Deborah Sobol. Ms. Yu recently performed the work earlier this month on the Metropolitan Museum’s concert series in New York.

The Marlboro Music School and Festival in Vermont is an institution for advanced musical studies, founded by Rudolf Serkin, that has fostered the development of chamber music in this country for more than 50 years.

Musicians who have participated speak almost reverentially about Marlboro, where junior and senior artists play and learn together side by side. And where else can a presenter not publicize its concert programs ahead of time and yet still have full houses at the performances?!

What's on your iPod?

Thu, 2/23/2006 - 3:38pm — Amy Iwano
Feb 23, 2006

I was probably one of the last people in the world to get a cell phone. And I know I was truly one of the last to get an iPod Mini.

A few weeks ago, my husband was shopping for one for me and didn’t see any on the shelves at Best Buy. However, he saw just a few in a shopping cart and asked a salesperson about them. He was told they were just about to send them back to Apple, since Apple wants to leave only its more expensive Nanos on the shelves, but he let my husband take a Mini, which became my birthday present.

How glorious to hear Schubert’s great cello quintet (Alban Berg Quartet with Heinrich Schiff) in my ears while walking down Michigan Avenue!

What’s on your iPod?

Beethoven

Feb 16, 2006

In my last entry, I mentioned how chamber music is often the most personal work of a composer, and that’s evident in Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Opus 132. Beethoven had just recovered from a serious illness, and his emotional state during the illness and joyful recovery can be heard in the music of this beloved quartet.

The Chicago String Quartet, The Chicago Chamber Musicians’ resident quartet, recently performed the Opus 132 quartet to wonderful kudos on its touring programs for two venerable chamber music presenters in late January in Downers Grove and early February in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The Chicago Chamber Musicians' upcoming program on Sunday and Monday here in Chicago (“String Theory”) also features that quartet by Beethoven, one by Alban Berg (his opus 3), and one by Gioacchino Rossini in an unusual format. The Italian composer’s quartet is written for two violins and cello, but a double bass takes the place of the usual viola in a traditional string quartet configuration. Come hear for yourself how it sounds!

I know we’re all thinking about audiences and how to balance programming with audiences’ and artists’ needs and desires (not to mention balancing budgets!). In case you missed it, here’s the NYT piece on the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and how they are thinking about these things.

I attended the first of the three Ligeti concerts mentioned – and was amazed by the full house (1,100 seats) of very enthusiastic audience members of all ages. Ligeti? - Who would have thought…?!