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Out of Silence

The Music Scene

Donald Sosin and Joanna Seaton have been making silent movie music for more than 30 years. “It’s a labor of love,” says Sosin, who was the previous “Music Scene” columnist for Compass. “We have a kind of mission to show audiences how much is gorgeous, emotionally powerful and visually stunning in these [silent] films.” Through their music, Sosin and Seaton interpret the film, they say, in a way that is appropriate to its period and style.

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Music Makes The Season

The Music Scene

Could it really be the penultimate week of 2011?
It seems so. And now, as we celebrate the winter holidays, music takes center stage, perhaps more than at any other time of year.
It is interesting to contemplate what makes this so.
Most obviously, music has always been central to religion, ritual and spirituality. Music gives us Christmas oratorios and carols, spirituals and the Jewish cantorial tradition. For centuries of Western history, sacred music was the dominant form. In non-Western cultures, as well, music accompanies rituals and worship.

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A Varied And Thrilling Music Scene

The Music Scene

After the carols and Messiahs have faded, the ball has dropped, and the New Year’s revelers are recovering, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Steve Earle will put in an appearance at Club Helsinki Hudson, NY.

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Smooth Sounds of the Season

The Music Scene

The renowned jazz fusion band Spyro Gyra brings its indelible and timeless brand of “adult contemporary” music to the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington for a pre-Christmas concert.
The group got its start more than 35 years ago in Buffalo, NY, still its home base, as simply “Tuesday Night Jazz Jams,” and has made nearly 30 original albums since, including one platinum and two gold, plus several “best of” compilations. Their most recent CD, released just this year, is A Foreign Affair, a blend of the band’s signature smooth sound with Latin rhythms.

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Music Ancient and Very Ancient

The Music Scene

According to retailers, we are now well into the holiday season.
The music scene says the same thing, too.
This weekend brings two opportunities to enjoy the time-honored, candlelit holiday event, lessons and carols, a blend of bible readings, traditional carols, and choral music. Hotchkiss School in Lakeville has its annual Festival of Lessons and Carols on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Hotchkiss Chapel.
Early arrival is encouraged as seating is limited.

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The Hols Are Here, And So Is the Music

The Music Scene

It seems only fitting on this holiday to reflect on the extraordinary musical riches around us. From Tanglewood to Music Mountain, the Mahaiwe to the Warner, Infinity Music Hall to the Towne Crier, Bard to the Bardavon, and many music places in between, we are awash in places to enjoy music. What makes this more noteworthy is the incredible span of musical genres available to us.
There is truly something for everyone.

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Easter, Not Christmas, and, No, George Stayed Seated (Were He There at All)

The Music Scene

Here are a few things you might not know about Handel’s great oratorio, “Messiah.”
First, despite being a Christmas tradition, it was written for Easter. The climactic Hallelujah follows Christ’s Resurrection and Ascension.
Second, King George II never did stand up for the Hallelujah Chorus ­— let alone rise at the sight of a courtesan or leave for the bathroom — and may never even have attended a performance of it. So don’t stand up when all those people who believe these tales do.

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A-Liszt at Hotchkiss

The Music Scene

Franz Liszt occupies an odd niche in music history. A charismatic, dazzlingly virtuosic pianist, at his peak, and a daring, inventive composer, he is probably less well-known today than all of his Romantic contemporaries and near-contemporaries, from Beethoven through Chopin, Schumann, Wagner, and Brahms.
I bet that a search of concert programs would find him firmly in last place compared with his overworked peers. Yet the Hungarian-born Liszt probably had as much or more influence on music than any one of them.

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Into a Time of Light

The Music Scene

As a member of Christine Gevert’s Crescendo chorus, I have a privileged view of the musical mind of our conductor, and also of the composers aired in our semiannual concerts.
The next one, “Bach: Darkness to Light,” takes place Nov. 12 and 13. It is, to use a shopworn but nevertheless apt expression, a journey, not only for the singers but for the audience, too.

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Opera Fans, Start Your Engines

Music Scene

Time was, only a few years ago, that short of a hike to the Big Apple, the only way to enjoy the Met was on WAMC radio (Alan Chartock’s animosity notwithstanding). Not that it isn’t still a most enjoyable and easy way to experience great opera; I am especially enamored of the voice of Met announcer Margaret Juntwait, who replaced the venerable Peter Allen (for those of us with a long memory of Saturday afternoons by the radio). Plus on radio you can listen to the entertaining Opera Quiz at intermissions. And no purchase is necessary.

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