May Day

The new month has snuck up on me, but I’ve still been collecting recommended highlights of what’s happening musically, and sometimes otherwise, in New York City and through the wires:

The Russian Stravinsky festival continues through May 8, still with great programming, including all the old favorites (Petrushka, Le Sacre), the great and too little heard score for the ballet Orpheus, Alec Baldwin narrating A Soldier’s Tale and great symphonies.  The festival has so far exceeded high expectations.

Sticking with the New York Philharmonic, at the end of the month they are giving a staged performance of Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, which may turn out to be the opera event of the season.  This will actually be the New York premiere of this great, scatological, scabrously funny anti-opera.  It’s anti only in the sense that it was made to offend those who think opera is all about divas and tuxedoed patrons and Franco Zeffirelli productions.  It’s a great work, and to my mind a mischievous bit of cultural provocation on behalf of the Phil towards the other Lincoln Center institutions.  I’d like to see some more fights, with music as the ammunition.

Sticking with geography, there are some more excellent events at Lincoln Center in May.  The incomparable Jordi Savall is presenting two of his finest recent projects, Orient-Occident and Jerusalem on the 2nd and 3rd.  On the 22nd and 23rd, Gustavo Dudamel, world’s hottest conductor, brings the LA Philharmonic in for programs that include the local premiere of John Adams new City Noir.

As an adjunct to the Stravinsky festival, and an astoundingly beautiful and fulfilling art form in it’s own right, the New York City Ballet schedule begins in May.  They will be presenting a generous helping of the works of Balanchine and Stravinsky, perhaps the greatest achievements in human culture, as well as an extensive program of other works.  While all arts aspire to music, personally I feel all music aspires to ballet.

Further afield, and easier on the wallet (because that matters too), there are some intriguing events:

May 28 – The Dream Brothers, in conjunction with American Opera Projects, present their original songs to words by Walt Whitman.  This is for everyone who considers themselves an American, or even just a Brooklynite.  In Fort Greene, by donation, no one turned away.  Go.

May 12 – Dedicated music blogger Feast of Music has organized his own concert series.  The next event features Kyklos and The Kontraband.  A great example of being a free fucking agent, a bargain and something you’ll feel good about supporting while you dig the music.

And free, May 21 and 22, the American Composers Orchestra is offering new music in the 19th annual Underwood New Music Readings series.  You’ll hear brand new music essentially at the moment it’s first being played.

In new recordings, the month has releases of CDs on New Amsterdam from Matt Marks and Corey Dargel (listen to samples of Dargel and Marks).  I’ll be reviewing these before they come out, but they are highly recommended by The Big City.  Also, the excellent jazz couple of Frank Carlberg and Christine Correa each have recordings coming out (also to be reviewed) and they are terrifically strong.  There’s a new Mahler set from Naxos collecting their previous recordings, and it’s solid to excellent, at a good price.  And on the local front, stay tuned for live blogging from Vox on May 1, a long form article on City Opera with an interview with George Steel, an exploration of the media success of the San Francisco Symphony, a LOT of classical/jazz/new music CD reviews, continued Treme blogging and, once the drilling on my building stops, The Big City Podcasts will debut!  Stay thirsty, my friends . . .