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Bill explores "The Curse of the Ninth," Exploring Music for October 2019

Many great composers have died after composing their 9th symphony - fact or fiction? Bill McGlaughlin explores the Curse of the Ninth the week of October 21.

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This is the start. It’s like the opening moments of a “Star Trek” episode, where you know the new young guy in the blue shirt will be the one to die at the hands of an alien, before Captain Kirk works it out. Likewise, the editors at WXXI have shot down all of my suggestions, so you can help name this column. Until then, it’s called “Your Name Here.”

It was the early 1980's and I had just begun my work at WXXI as the radio secretary (WXXI had only one radio station at the time).  Our news team had scheduled an interview with the legendary opera soprano Jessye Norman while she was in town. She came through the door near my desk in a full length fur coat, head held majestically and floated past my desk in a way that left a lasting impression on this 20-something voice major, just a few years out of college. The scene is as vivid in my mind today, as the day it happened.

News from the world of Classical Music

Sharon Isbin is the first guitarist to be named Musical America’s Instrumentalist of the Year.

You could call Isbin a trailblazer without fear of contradiction, and the description would not apply only to her imposing list of firsts. Isbin has also reconfigured the guitar’s repertoire and updated the ways classical guitarists present themselves and their instrument.

Read the full tribute article.

For many composers, getting a piece played by a single American orchestra is a major coup. A repeat in another city is a rare victory; a third outing is a miracle. So it’s not clear what one should call the run that Joan Tower’s Made in America had in the early 2000s, when it was performed by more than 65 orchestras in all 50 states.

A lifelong champion of living composers, Tower became an advocate for women composers specifically, taking stands on granting panels and fighting for compatriots like Tania León and Jennifer Higdon.

Celebrating its centennial next summer, the Salzburg Festival has been chosen Festival of the Year for the 2020 Musical America International Directory of the Performing Arts.

Despite a long history of opera playing gender games, with women singing "trouser roles" as young male characters, and both female and male roles were sometimes sung by castrati, "opera is still a very gendered profession," states Elliott Franks. 

WXXI has announced that it will expand its coverage of the arts. 

“Thanks to support from our donors, we are in a unique position to enhance our existing arts and culture services and expand arts reporting in our newsroom,” said WXXI President Norm Silverstein. “We know that the arts have widespread social impact and we believe we have an important role to bring focus to the arts community.”

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