This Week in Classical Music w/Randy Kinkel 02/10/18










NYP celebrates 19th Amendment with 19 commissions from Women

Millo wants Chance at Met Comeback;



It’s “This Week in Classical Music; an update on what’s happening in the classical music world; I’m Randy Kinkel.”

Jaap van Zweden’s has big, bold plans for the New York Philharmonic now in it’s second year under his leadership.

There will be lots of new music, with Mr. van Zweden giving premieres by Philip Glass, Tania León, Nico Muhly, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Nina C. Young and Ellen Reid; And a few experiments — as when he conducts Renée Fleming in Björk songs.

To mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which barred states from denying voting rights based on gender, the Philharmonic has commissioned new works by 19 female composers, eight of which will be performed next season. Besides celebrating what Deborah Borda, the orchestra’s president and chief executive officer, called a “tectonic shift in American culture,” the project sends a statement to the classical music field at a moment when female composers still struggle to be heard.

Unsuk Chin’s 2009 concerto for sheng, a Chinese mouth organ, is scheduled for October, and later in the season it’s veteran New York composer Joan La Barbara, who’s experimentally minded, but still includes traditional melodic structures, too. Her commission will be part of the contemporary chamber music series “Sound On” alongside new works by Nicole Lizée and Paola Prestini .

It was her voice that thrilled the Metropolitan Opera through the 1980s and ’90s, when Aprile Millo was among the house’s reigning divas: she sang opposite Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti.

Then, at what should have been the height of her career, things petered out. Her Met performances grew less frequent; she hasn’t appeared with the company since 2007. Over the past decade, she has barely sung in public at all.

“There was a general feeling that her career had wound down at that point,” Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said.

But not if Millo has something to say about it. At 60, she has her heart set on returning to the Met.  “the voice has been functioning,” she said, “But when you go through a lack of confidence, you’re not going to want to be anywhere.”

The Met premiere of Verdi’s “I Lombardi” in 1993 was when it all started to fall apart. A deviated septum temporarily changed her hearing, making her “uncharacteristically cautious” and leading to rumors of vocal problems.  “and I got heavy,” Millo said, fearing there was no place for her in an operatic culture increasingly focused on HD cinema broadcasts. She grew perilously indecisive about engagements. the calls stopped coming.

Millo wants to redeem herself with the Met. “I don’t want it to end with: ‘She was great and she was on the scene; where’d she go?’” she added. “I want to end nicely. I want to have a good last act. The first act was so good; it would be nice to have a good last act.”


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