100 years ago, Richard Strauss premiered An Alpine Symphony, "a majestic, musical depiction of a dawn-to-dusk hike up the Alps," his final symphonic poem. For this recent anniversary, NPR brought together Semyon Bychkov, who conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in their performance of the tone poem, and David Hurwitz, the author of Richard Strauss: An Owner's Manual (Google books preview), to provide guidance and reviews of the symphony. You can take your own musical journey with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Bernard Haitink, for the BBC Proms in 2012.
Pet Shop Boys, still going strong after over 30 years, and still as inventive as ever, debuted their "orchestral pop biography in eight parts for electronics, orchestra, choir, and narrator" at the BBC Proms last night. A Man From The Future [audio only, BBC3 recording, available for 4 weeks, 1h55m] is an exploration of the life of Alan Turing. The performance includes Chrissie Hynde performing classic PSB accompanied by a full orchestra in the first half, and the premiere of AMFTF as the second half.
Written for the dedication of The John F. Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts in 1971, Leonard Bernstein created MASS: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers as a memoriam for John F Kennedy and as a thoroughly modern theater musical piece to reflect both its current times and universal questions of faith and existence. A recasting of the Tridentine Mass (in Latin), featuring additional lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a brilliant lyric quatrain from Paul Simon, the full staging requires multiple choruses, a full stage performance company (including ballet cast), a marching band, a rock band, and many others. The 2012 BBC Proms featured a concert performance [1h56m, including introduction sequences]. MASS has had very few full theatrical stagings since its premiere, although now, over 50 years after its creation, it is beginning to find new acclaim and appreciation. [more inside]
To celebrate John Cage's centenary, 10 pieces of music by 10 different composers have been created, inspired by 10 places close to the Royal Albert Hall. [more inside]
The BBC Proms season is underway, and this year also they are running some 'late night Proms', second concerts held after the first concert of the evening is over. A couple of days ago, the Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires (Wikipedia) took over the cavernous Royal Albert Hall at ten in the evening for an all-Chopin, all-Nocturnes late night recital, attended by nearly 6,000 people. That may sound like a recipe for disaster, but she pulled it off wonderfully; it was an unforgettable experience, and you have until next Wednesday to hear it, on the BBC iPlayer. [more inside]