Vince Mendoza: Olympians

Diane Reeves performs with Vince Mendoza (Photo credit: Rick Swig)

Jazz, pop and classical musicians may not always be best friends, but they undoubtedly are when playing the music of Vince Mendoza.  His latest album is named after the very genre-multiplying musicians that bring his pen’s notes soaring to life.  The Olympians, as he calls them, make up the world’s only fulltime jazz orchestra, the Metropole Orkest.  Dianne Reeves is but one of the Orkest’s featured guests on this powerhouse collection of nine compositions that makes the orchestras of Beethoven, Berlioz and Mahler pale in comparison.  Come welcome Vince Mendoza to our show and let’s glimpse at a symphony of modernity.

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The Olavinlinna Castle

The small, picturesque Finnish city of Savonlinna is an international heavyweight in European culture & arts.  Since 1912, the Savonlinna Opera Festival welcomes the globe’s most sought-after singers, stage designers and highest-level diplomats to the Olavinlinna Castle.  The Olavinlinna Castle is the northern-most medieval castle in the world.  Beside hosting the Summer Opera Festival, it is part of the National Museum of Finland and open to the public year-round.  Anne Paulasuo, the Castle’s General Coordinator joins Vienna Live to give us an exclusive tour of this extraordinary museum.  Furthermore, Chieko Okabe-Silvasti, Director of Opera at the Savonlinna Secondary School of the Arts and Jorma Silvasti, Former Director of the Savonlinna Opera Festival will be there with two of Savonlinna’s next-generation opera talent, singer Maxim Ogay and pianist Aleksei Rybakov, who will serenade us with Mozart and Schumann!

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(Photo: The Olavinlinna Castle on Lake Saimaa [Photo credit:])

The Merola Opera Program

There are many opera training programs around the world, but few are Merola’s peers.  The Program’s alumni – called “Merolini” – include Patricia Racette, Dolora Zajick & Rolando Villazón and form the singer class most sought after by the renown post-War opera houses in Vienna, Berlin, Milan, Paris, London and New York.  But the opera scene is changing and the days of the Three Tenors are past.  New centers of opera excellence are prospering in the East – namely, in China – and those centers are fostering talent pools of depths that the traditional opera centers could only dream of.  Come welcome to our show the Merola Opera Program’s Executive Director, Jean Kellogg and Sahel Salam, a tenor and Returning Artist, as well as their Eastern counterparts, Professors Niels Muus and Shi of the Central Academy of Drama Beijing.  These extraordinary administrators, Professors and artists will give us a look at the future of opera.

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(Photo: San Francisco War Memorial Opera House [Photo credit: Andrew Mager])

The Arianna String Quartet: “DEI” Starts with Chamber Music

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The string quartet genre may define classical music better than any other.  Its four musical parts are played by two violins, one viola and one (violon-)cello.  Together, those parts can perform both monophonic music (i.e. all parts play the same rhythm in unity – like a church chorale) and polyphonic music (i.e. each part performs independently of the others).  Most string quartets we love are considered inspired combination of the two.  “Well, those terms are a bit out-of-date, just like the word classical!” you are probably thinking to yourself.  Maybe, but the social construct the string quartet is founded on is as contemporary as it gets: offices to institute diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging have sprung up in every sector of American commercial and non-commercial industry and are directed by fancy-named officials who oversee million-dollar annual budgets.  New name, old problem: those offices have been created to figure out the age-old Enlightenment quandary of how to appreciate difference and bring the excluded into the fold to share wisdom.  Joseph Haydn – considered the Father of the String Quartet, and most other classical music genres – experienced this Enlightenment issue firsthand, during the chamber music salon concerts he attended and he eventually developed the string quartet to show off an impressive “DEI” strategy.  Whereas the first violin dominates in his string quartets, Op. 20, and the other parts mostly nod in agreement, the four parts become equal discursive partners in his Op. 33 quartets, all the to the benefit of an enriching musical conversation.  The Arianna String Quartet is in its 30th year now and the Quartet – the resident chamber music ensemble of the University of Missouri-Saint Louis – joins our show to discuss the extraordinary string quartet genre with us and why it is so relevant to our current moment. 

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The Otto Edelmann Society

A monumental voice or simply a monumental moment?  The twenty-year-old Otto Edelmann debuted as a bass-baritone in Germany in 1937 and continued his singing career until he was called for duty just three years later.  Surviving conditions as a Russian prisoner of war that few ever mentioned thereafter, Edelmann made his way home to a devastated Austria and used his voice to uplift those living in the newly formed Second Austrian Republic.  He soon became a leading voice in the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera, where he sang four hundred thirty performances, thirty-six roles and thirty operas and represented Austria a star opera singer in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Milan and New York.  When he took his final bow, he dedicated the rest of his life to training young singers at what is today the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna and giving masterclasses.  It only make sense that, since 2006, the Otto Edelmann Society was founded in Vienna in his honor.  The Society keeps the memory of the late Kammersänger alive by producing concerts that allow young singers to introduce themselves to critical audiences and network with established singers, by hosting discussion rounds about critical issues concerning the classical music industry and by organizing the flagship International Otto Edelmann Singing Competition together with the University for Music and Performing Arts Vienna, his alma mater.  Let’s speak to Sylvia Saavedra-Edelmann, Managing Director of the Otto Edelmann Society and get to know what happens when a monumental voice meets a monumental moment! 

(Photo credit: Diego Delso,, License CC-BY-SA)

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