April 2014



Free Music For You!

Dec 5, 2008

In the spirit of the holidays, I am delighted to share a link with you that will get you free music downloads from one of the greatest orchestras in the world. 

These are outstanding recordings of recent performances by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra are absolutely free! The offer expires at the end of December. Grab 'em now!

Franz Schubert - Symphony no. 8 'Unfinished'
Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony no. 2
Felix Mendelssohn - Symphony no. 4 'Italian'
César Franck - Symphony in D minor
Gustav Mahler - Symphony no. 1
Antonin Dvorák - Symphony no. 8
Camille Saint-Saëns - Symphony no. 3 'Organ'
Jean Sibelius - Symphony no. 2
Anton Bruckner - Symphony no. 8
Johannes Brahms - Symphony no. 2

Click here and enjoy.

Thanks to Sinfonietta violinist and webmaster Dave Belden for passing this on to me.


CSO best in US

Nov 25, 2008

No one has written about this yet on so I get to do it.  Gramophone Magazine, a British publication, has named our very own Chicago Symphony Orchestra as the number one ranked orchestra in the United States, and the fifth highest ranked orchestra in the world.  Congratulations to our friends and colleagues at the CSO.  It’s nice to see others recognize what we in Chicago have known for a long time – this band rocks!  I am including the full list for those of you who haven’t yet seen it.

Is Barack Obama

Nov 11, 2008
Like most everyone I know, I was glued to the television on the evening of Tuesday, November 4th. It probably won’t surprise anyone that I was pretty happy about the outcome. After all, I proudly work for our nation’s most diverse orchestra, the Chicago Sinfonietta, and have spent a good deal of my career working on promoting inclusiveness in the arts. But before anyone gets upset with me about bringing politics onto a classical music website, please note that this post in not about politics. This post is about what Barack Obama’s election might mean to the arts in general, and orchestras in particular. Here are a few of my thoughts, but as always, I’m much more interested in hearing what you think.

In the short-term I suspect we won’t see much in the way of discernable impact. The economy will dominate the new administration’s agenda for the first 6-12 months, and if successful, might help orchestra’s institutional donors maintain their current levels of support. The tax changes proposed during the campaign might encourage high-wealth individuals to contribute at higher levels if they are enacted, but we won’t feel those for a while. I would also guess that the National Endowment for the Arts will be funded at its current level, and gradually increase if the economy improves.

This is really about people’s perception of the economy and our country. If we feel optimistic, we will buy tickets and contribute more. I think Barack Obama will help on this front.

Okay, it’s your turn.

Crystal Ball Time

Oct 27, 2008

At the end of May I wrote a blog entitled, “It’s the Economy, Stupid”, that posed some questions about how the economic downturn might affect ticket sales and fundraising.  One respondent suggested that I was letting the media “blow the downturn out of proportion”, while another recommended that I should be careful about whom I call stupid.

Today, an exceptionally astute reader noted that my May blog was “a premonition of sorts” and asked how I thought the economy might affect the arts looking forward.  I should probably quit while I’m ahead, but what fun would that be?  Here are some observations, opinions, and thoughts.

Perpetual Evolution

Oct 13, 2008

Today's guest blog is written by Stefan Lano who will conduct the Chicago Sinfonietta during the upcoming performances of the opera Margaret Garner at the Auditorium Theater beginning November 1st.

As we prepare for the production of Margaret Garner at the Auditorium Theater, I am pleased to share some thoughts with you about this important opera. 
Although, the commissioning venues of Michigan Opera Theater,  the Cincinnati Opera and The Opera Company of Philadelphia were most generous in alotting ample time and funding for workshops prior to the world premiere here in Detroit, both hindsight and the experience gained through repeated performances will inevitably color subsequent re- visitations to this score.  That this is now the case, became evident at our first rehearsals and run-throughs of the
opera this past week.   The goals and priorities set by production teams of most any opera, play  or film are pretty
much the same:  1.  tell the story clearly and with dramatic efficiency; 2.  entertain the public while, hopefully, simultaneously edifying them;  3.  try to achieve a sense of closure at evening's end such that the public feels that they have been 'taken somewhere.'

An example of point number 3, would be the ambience in the public when the reprise of the Aria is reached in Bach's Goldberg Variations; or the sense of tragic inevitability at the end of Verdi's Otello as opposed to the comic inevitabiltiy at the end of his Falstaff.  Point number 2 is a bit more subtle.  In some opera, such as Mozart's Magic Flute, the moral of a given scene is presented as an aside in the form of the ensembles  where the characters address the public more directly rather than each other.  In an opera such as Margaret Garner, the message of Toni Morrison is, as one would expect from a literary national treasure, inherent in her story.    Thus do we arrive at the conundrum articulated by Madeleine in the final scene of Richard Strauss'  Capriccio: do the words or the music take precedence?  

Rather than argue for one or the other, I have always found that if the notion of effective theater is well-served, then both words and music are better clarified.  In the case of this run of Margaret Garner, this notion dictates our modus operandi perhaps moreso than the first time around. The care taken in the preparation of any first performance  is, more often than not, devoted to 'getting it right', especially when composer and librettist may be present.  There is, however, more to theater than merely getting it right.  One can get the words and the notes right while missing their element of dramatic marriage.  From the resonance of the opening productions of Margaret Garner, it seems that most would agree that we 'got it right.'  

It bespeaks the vision of David Di Chiera in his mounting a reprise of Margaret Garner relatively soon after the premier.  His decision is now the more felicitous as we approach an historic Presidential election in which an African-American could well become our next President.  That our country evolve as to embrace change. 

In the spirit of opera being an art form in perpetual evolution, Kenny Leon and I intend to greatly expand upon that which we presented some years ago and are especially thrilled that we will do so in the architectural landmark of the Roosevelt Theatre about which one can only echo George Ballanchine's comment: 'Why don't they build them like this any more...?"  Amen.

All best wishes to you,

Stefan Lano