Brian Lindgren: New Explorations with the Electronic Viola

The story goes that Paganini commissioned Berlioz to write him a concerto.  Rather than a composition filled with the violin fireworks he expected, Berlioz handed him Harold en Italie, an introspective lyrical work for viola and orchestra.  After a cursory glance, Paganini refused to perform it.  Then, upon hearing its premier, he recognized an extraordinary artistic value in it and apologized to Berlioz.  Brian Lindgren’s exploration of the viola’s expressive potential seems to follow a similar narrative: after a career of performing the celebrated viola parts of concerti, symphonies and string quartets, unknown expressive possibilities unleashed by the digital revolution led Brian to build an electric viola and write/record his own music for it as a researcher and PhD student in the Music Composition and Computer Technologies program at the University of Virginia.  Come welcome Brian to our show, together with special guest, composer, performer & electronic instrument luthier, Reyes Oteo,  and get to know a whole new world of expressive possibilities!

When: Wednesday, November 10th, 2021, from 19:00-20:00 Central European Time (1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time)

Where: on Zoom and Facebook Live

Rundfunkchor Berlin: The World to Come  

THE WORLD TO COME (Picture: Rundfunkchor Berlin & Moor Mother; ©Lucie Jansch)

A professional “radio choir” might seem like a performing arts organization far removed from daily reality.  Not so: Rundfunkchor Berlin has been at the forefront of every major development in modern Germany’s history.  Among the first choirs heard in family living rooms, Rundfunkchor Berlin premiered Kurt Weill’s music during the progressive interwar years and surely fought bitter culture wars against the ascendant National Socialists until the choir was renamed Reichssenders Berlin in 1933.  In a sadly-walled city, the radio choir sang the premiers of Shostakovich’s “Babi Yar” Symphony and Prokofiev’s Ivan the Terrible.  Then, as the city reconciled the First and Second Worlds, the radio choir premiered music by Pierre Boulez, Michael Tippett, Hans Werner Henze, György Kurtág and Xiao-song Qu.  So, it should surprise no one that the Rundfunkchor Berlin would “broaden choir music” by creating a “concert installation” – an interactive live-concert museum tour – to explore the future with invited guests, world class musicians from different genres such as Moor Mother, Mohammad Reza Mortazavi, Planningtorock, Colin Self and Birke Bertelsmeier. Come welcome Rundfunkchor Berlin and Tilman Hecker, the “concert installation’s” creator, as well as composer Birke J. Bertelsmeier, to our show for a socially-distanced walk through our shared human experience.

When: Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021, from 19:00-20:00 Central European Time ([Exceptionally] 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time / 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Pacific Time)

Where: on Zoom and Facebook Live

Julio Mendívil: How to be an Antiracist Musician 

Photo: Universität Wien/Barbara Mair

Often, musicians are thought of as super-women and men who have the ability to turn hate into love and transform the coldest, most insensitive heart into the warmest and most feeling (just think about the biblical story of Saul’s violence being pacified by David’s magical serenades).  If that be the case, then converting a racist mindset into one in which people are “not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” should be a breeze.  But what if the musician in question is unaware that her/his own perspective is innately, yet unconsciously, racist?  That, ironically, rather than inspiring society to greater harmony, her/his undetected racist outlook strengthens divisive structural racism in society?  Yes, even gender-conscious ethnomusicologists can be racist, as Julio Mendívil, Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Vienna, will tell us.  Come welcome Julio to our show for a special roundtable about an elite form of racism only found in academia! 

When: Wednesday, October 27th, 2021, from 19:00-20:00 Central European Time (1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time)

Where: on Zoom and Facebook Live

Cicely & Madalyn Parnas: Practice Does Not Make Perfect 

Today’s professional music instrumentalists (pianists, violinists, cellists, etc.) may be surprised to read William Deresiewicz’ introductory comments to his book Excellent Sheep – a critique of elite American families’ academic objectives – about “the ability to engage in introspection” as “being the essential precondition for living the life of the mind, and the essential precondition for introspection [being] solitude.”  That’s not news: those professionals spend hours of their day in an introspective solitude that would probably give even an ascetic pause.  And their “practice” regime doesn’t need to be scheduled: it is pre-programmed to happen each and every day (including the seventh).  Anecdotes about Freud report that he didn’t believe creative artists were meant to develop healthy and happy lifestyles (then, again, the music he grew up listening to might have been categorized as Sturm und Drang).  Psychology has evolved since then, of course, as have musicians and their concepts of “best practices.”  What is the outlook of today’s elite professional musicians?  Is any semblance of “work-life balance” their lot?  Cellist Cicely Parnas and violinist Madalyn Parnas-Möller – two sisters at the top of their game, both as renown instrumental soloists, in their own right, and as the award-winning chamber ensemble, “Duo Parnas” – invite us for an intimate discussion about musicians’ faithful and multi-faceted relationships with their instruments.  

When: Wednesday, October 20th, 2021, from 19:00-20:00 Central European Time (1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time)

Where: on Zoom and Facebook Live

Akiko Nakajima: The Soprano Identity 

Akiko Nakajima knows all about departing: she is constantly leaving to meet her opera and concert engagements the world round.  She also knows all about staying: she audaciously built – brick by brick – a career that bridges Japan and Europe and, today, is General Director of the Noura Opera Foundation in Gunma, Japan, Music Director of the Österreichisch-Japanische Gesellschaft in Vienna, Austria, and Professor of Voice & Opera at the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna.  Come welcome Akiko to our show and get ready for a redefinition of the soprano identity.

When: Wednesday, October 13th, 2021, from 19:00-20:00 Central European Time (1:00-2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time)

Where: on Zoom and Facebook Live