der Auszug

Marko Letonja conducts Cédric Tiberghien and the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Listener falls into Paroxysms of Joy

I was in France last night hearing Cédric Tiberghien play Ravel’s Concerto pour piano et orchestre en sol majeur with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, Marko Letonja conducting (I can’t find a satisfying link for him, but he’s conducted all over the planet, mostly opera, mostly in excellent houses), and it was a revelation. Delicious. The first movement caused me to lose control over my eyes, and the hall melted away. The second movement made me cry. The third movement found me just sitting, senseless, twitching in my seat, mouth agape. He played several encores, which apparently is unheard of in this house. I wish I knew what pieces they were, but I forgot to ask when I bought a Brahms CD in the break for the artist to sign. He was simply lovely, kindly asking everyone where they’re from, exhausted but exhuberant. He said he’s playing New York in the spring, but no plans for Berlin any time soon. I told him to talk to his agent. He laughed and said “he knows, he knows.”

Definitely go see this guy play if you have a chance.

Next on the program was “Eclipse for Orchestra,” a piece by Eric Tanguy written in 1999, played without pause directly before Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, Suite Nr. 2. I found this confusing. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I was too exhausted after the first half of the program. I watched as the musicians hurriedly changed from the blue colored scores to the buff ones, mid-note, and I’d even read about the string trio marking the end of the Eclipse piece that symbolizes… something… some musical device miles beyond my understanding… and still, I did not get it. The music shifted seamlessly from “Mars Attacks” to “Lovely Birds Tweeting During Sunrise” and wondered when in the hell this piece was ever going to end.  I should have gone to the ladies room at the break. Why o why did I not do that, when this piece is so long. But we moved straight into “Romantic Boat Ride With My Darling” and then, either before or after the boat ride, there was “Villans Scheme To Do Nasty Things” and then “Cowboys Arrive to Save the Day” and then applause. And it was such an applause, with the audience members rising and sighing so satisfied, with their coats, and adjusting their scarves, than it was obviously now Over.

The music itself was not to blame, only the fact that I am an idiot and a cretin was the issue. The music was actually quite lovely, and the conducting, I thought, really really excellent. I imagined that his extensive operatic experience made his conducting all the more richer, though perhaps this sort of thing happening is not possible, or is silly, if you actually happen to know what you are talking about. The orchestra stole the show, however, with their massively beautiful playing, clean, precise, but with heart. Ahhhh it was great. One of the best nights of music I can remember, from all my days.

Tinkering with repertoire (one of my favorite pastimes)

This was a busy summer! I just returned last week from a fantastic program in Berlin with John Norris, Ann Rodiger, plus a whole bunch of other great coaches and teachers, called Performance Practices. I got some excellent repertoire advice and have made a few little adjustments away from the mopey girls (I’m looking at you, Rusalka, Mimi and Amina) and towards the flirty crazies (hello, Lulu, Violetta, Fiordiligi and Musetta… eventually maybe getting a little more dramatic).

I’m thrilled. This rep feels great anyway, the music is fabulous, I have plenty of voice for it and then some, and I love being able to bring power and energy more like my own to my singing. It’s the right step. The experts agree.


Got back Sunday from having a LOT of fun singing in the Elblandfestspiele. We’ll see if my solo made the cut on the final show, I know they did have to leave a lot out of the final broadcast and I was probably the lowest man on the totem pole there, what with artists like Eva Lind, Stefanie Schaefer, Yma América, Erkan Aki, Renis Mendoza, Eduardo Villegas, Radoslaw Rydlewski, Christian Grygas, the whistler (amazing) Geert Chatrou, sax player Tina Tandler, and, my personal favorites, the Comedian Harmonists Today. Best earworms ever.

Oh and the absolutely stunning RBB moderator, Madeleine Wehle. Oh! And the MDR Deutsches Fernsehballett and how could I forget Heinz Walter Florin leading the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg! Every single one of these artists, amazing, and lovely people to boot.

I think we had something over 4,000 audience members together for the two nights, which is pretty cool.

If you happen to be in Berlin or Brandenburg, you can watch the show tomorrow (Wednesday) at 8:15pm. It’ll be shown again several times on (I think) RBB and 3Sat.