Arts and culture

Arvo Pärt was saved by the bell. The Estonian composer, who turns 80 in September, hit a creative roadblock in 1968. After a hiatus of eight years he returned with a new sound inspired by the simple triad (a stack of three notes, an essential building block of Western music) and by bells. He called his new style tintinnabuli (from the Latin for bells).

Does the name Jan Antonín Koželuh mean anything to you? It doesn't register even to most classical music geeks. But Albrecht Mayer would like to change that.

Ethan Hawke might strike you as an unlikely guide to classical music. But in directing his first documentary, Seymour: An Introduction, he created an intriguing and ultimately profoundly moving tribute to a largely unknown artist, 86-year-old pianist Seymour Bernstein.

There's a kind of little village of artisans on Manhattan's West 54th Street. In a couple of plain looking office towers, there are a bunch of rehearsal studios, violin makers' workshops and other music businesses. Behind one of those office doors on the 10th floor sits Frank Music Company — Frank's, as everybody calls it.

It was supposed to be a celebratory occasion, a high-profile performance of a piece given life by the orchestra that commissioned it — a young composer's music played by other young musicians.

Instead, the performance scheduled for Sunday of Jonas Tarm's music at Carnegie Hall by the highly regarded New York Youth Symphony (NYYS) has been canceled after it came to the attention of the ensemble's administration that the piece contains a quotation from the Nazi "Horst Wessel Lied."

The Bachelor, the reality TV show poised to close out another nail-biting season (which young woman will Chris Soules choose Monday?), has nothing on opera. Over the past 400 years, composers have placed onstage any number of hot-blooded Romeos, sensible gentlemen and conniving psychopaths all looking for the perfect mate.

Pavarotti, roll over. There's a new king of the high Cs. His name is Bryan Hymel and he pops off no fewer than 10 of them in "Asile héréditaire," the Rossini aria that opens his new album Héroïque, released Tuesday.

By some measures, China is now the world's largest economy. It's also a gigantic market for American brands, from Hollywood blockbusters to KFC and Pizza Hut. But one Chinese conductor, Long Yu, would like these cultures to hear each other a little more clearly. He's launching a new project to do just that, and it's starting tonight with the New York Philharmonic.

SU Cultural Calendar Week of March 2nd,  2015

SU Cultural Calendar Week of Feb. 23th,  2015

Music lexicographer Theodore Baker, in his biographical dictionary of musicians, labeled J.S. Bach as the "supreme arbiter and lawgiver of music." And while Bach may have blanched had he read such a description, there is absolute power to much of his music.

When Amit Peled was 10, his parents gave him a gift: a cassette of music by cello master Pablo Casals. Peled had no classical background; his parents were not musicians. He says his own budding interest in the cello was a scam, a way of getting close to a girl in his town who happened to play the instrument. And yet, every night, he would fall asleep with the tape playing from a boombox beside his bed. The music made an impression.

SU Cultural Calendar Week of Feb. 16th,  2015

Even trailblazing composers like Steve Reich sometimes look to the distant past for inspiration. His 1993 Duet for two violins and strings is music in which minimalism reaches back to its ancient roots. These six minutes of mesmerizing sunshine recall both the rigorous counterpoint of J.S.

The Cold Wrath Of Nature, Given Operatic Voice

Feb 7, 2015

While many music series explore the works and dedications of Composers, Kara Dahl Russell used this idea to focus on the lives of the (mostly) women who inspired the dedications and the compositions.  The many possible "Immortal Beloved" of Beethoven became part of the mix, and Kara offered her own compelling solution to the mystery based on the comments of the women involved.

Kara Dahl Russell presented a weekday after-the-news-at-noon series on the development of the "portable" piano from virginals and claviers to today's concert grand.  The series explored how the development of the instrument itself influenced the music of composers, and how their musical explorations expanded and changed the instrument itself and how it was played.

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York's Greenwich Village. A riot broke out, sparking successive nights of protest and, many say, the emergence of the modern gay rights movement.

SU Cultural Calendar Week of Feb. 8th,  2015

Christina Pato, master of the Galician bagpipe, brings her Migrations Band to Delaware on Friday, January 30th.  Event details are here.

Delmarva Public Radio's Chris Ranck had a brief chat with Christina  earlier this week.

SU Cultural Calendar Week of Feb. 2nd,  2015