Music Features

The Musical Growth of Patrick Williams

Jan 12, 2015

Flutist Patrick Williams’ love of music started young. Classical music was omnipresent in his childhood home, with his parents encouraging him to pursue it as a career and way of life. Williams learned how to play the piano at age five, and picked up the flute and violin a couple years later. The other instrument fell to the side when Williams decided to focus all of his talent and efforts on the flute.  It worked out well. His first public performance was at the 1998 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Japan.

Three of a Kind

Jan 10, 2015

Everything's coming up threes on Now Is the Time, Saturday, January 10th at 9 pm. Childlike simplicity is deceptive in creativity but Brian Belet achieves that goal in Drei Kinderstücke for solo piano. John Corigliano fascinatingly pairs soprano with flute for his Three Irish Folksong Settings, and for soprano with piano are settings of a Scottish poet in Three Tannahill Songs of Evan Chambers.

Philadelphia's own David Bennett Thomas comes along with Three Pieces for Clarinet and Piano, and for violin, cello, and piano is the Trio of Lera Auerbach. And to honor the memory of Fred Sturm, who just passed away in August, a saxophone quartet closes the program with one of his wonderful jazz-inspired compositions, Picasso Cubed.

Reese Revak: Pianist and Polymath

Jan 7, 2015

Too often, mother does know best. Pianist, composer and vocal studies accompanist Reese Revak never would have discovered his love of music were it not for his mom. A music teacher and multi-instrumentalist herself, Mrs. Revak placed her son in front of the piano at age four and made it clear that lessons would be mandatory until he arrived at high school.

Larry McKenna: Philadelphia's Gentleman of Jazz

Dec 31, 2014
Melissa Gilstrap

Saxophonist player and instructor Larry McKenna has instilled his love and connection with his instrument in listeners and learners alike over the course of his multi–decade long career. Despite being the consistent recipient of praise from fans and former students alike, McKenna remains humble enough to seem vaguely bewildered when confronted with it.

This reaction may result from how naturally McKenna "clicked" with his instrument. McKenna first took an interest in the sax when he was just 14 - an age when whims tend to be as fleeting as they are intense.

Taking Leave of 2014

Dec 26, 2014

The sun turns and we anticipate a new year on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 27th at 9 pm. Stephen Hartke based The King of the Sun on a Joan Miró painting, itself inspired by a much older Dutch painting by Jan Steen. Chris Campbell finds sounds and creates sounds electronically in Sunface Streams Moonface. Amplified piano and soprano join in five settings of Federico García Lorca by George Crumb; he calls his Spanish Songbook II Sun and Shadow.

Nancy Galbraith features electric Baroque flute and electric cello in Traverso Mistico, and from a live recording we'll hear the exquisite middle movement, "The Joy of Sadness." And to say goodbye to the old year we'll look to one of the piano rags of Brian Dykstra's, Taking Leave.

Carla Dirlikov: Mezzo-Soprano and Cultural Envoy

Dec 23, 2014

The title role in Bizet's Carmen is a dream role for any singer, but was particularly significant for Carla Dirlikov, who first fell in love with the opera at the age of three.

"I was mesmerized. I would watch it for hours," she says. The Mezzo-soprano has now played Carmen in more than 70 performances around the world.

We're counting down the days on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 20th at 9 pm. Less Than a Week Before Christmas is David Golub's work for chorus and orchestra: about the cold, about a friend. Morten Lauridsen contemplates the wonder of animals at the nativity manger in one of our time's most-sung pieces, O Magnum Mysterium.

Composer Jennifer Higdon becomes her own poet for Deep in the Night, pondering "this season of love with full brilliant lights." Daron Hagen combines two melodies we recognize with a beautiful one we don't—because he just wrote it—in a work for choir with cello, At Bethlehem Proper. Rounding out the choral works on the program is While All Things Were in Quiet Silence by Ned Rorem.

Two instrumental works find their way in, though. Advent has the same feeling that imbues Yearning, the lovely work for violin and strings by Shulamit Ran, dedicated to Yehudi Menuhin. For solo guitar is the suite of Rick Sowash, helping us count down the days, For an Old Friend at Christmas.

Daniel T. Peterson: Aspiring and Inspiring

Dec 18, 2014

Daniel T. Peterson’s passion for music began early, but it took a long and winding path before it manifested as his career.

As a young child, Peterson exhibited some talent - singing shyly from the backseat of the car, but mostly engaged with music as a fan. His father’s extensive record collection captivated him, and Peterson spent much of his young life digging through a veritable treasure trove of albums where he was exposed to everything from Miles Davis to Jimi Hendrix.

Putting On Good Vibrations

Dec 17, 2014

Vibraphonist Tony Miceli tells of his musical journey as if it were a love story, one filled with joy and tribulation, optimism, and sincerity.

His tale begins in 1960s New Jersey, where his family would tune in to hear Frank Sinatra over every Sunday breakfast, starting what would become a long romance with jazz, but also radio. During his teenage years he would turn again to the radio for a kind of early-musical mentorship, following the tastes of trusted deejays for guidance.

El Niño

Dec 13, 2014

It's John Adams's Nativity oratorio El Niño on Now Is the Time, Saturday, December 13th at 9 pm. We'll fit in as much as we can, since the concert-length work is too long for our one-hour show.

Adams says that the birth of his daughter in 1984 was like a miracle. "Four people were in the room, and then there were five," he says, and that became the inspiration for his take on the Christmas story. Along with Latin and English, much of El Niño is in Spanish. The director Peter Sellars, who worked closely with the composer to create this, says that it's like a triptych that cannot be seen all at once. Unfold a panel to see what's there, and you hide another.

Dawn Upshaw, Willard White, and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sing alongside chorus and orchestra in this grand Christmas-time pageant.

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