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Around the Horn: Music News From All Over

Mar 24, 2016

Over his career, Robert Carl has composed a large and cheerfully eclectic body of work.

A quick early spring roundup of musical milestones from hither and yon.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters has announced that one of the four recipients of its annual Arts and Letters Award in Music is our own Robert Carl of Hartford. 

This is a very big deal. The award carries a $10,000 cash prize, as well as an additional $10,000 to be used for a recording of one of Robert's works.

The award will officially be conferred at a ceremony in May in New York.

Over his career, Robert has composed a large and cheerfully eclectic body of work, including four symphonies, chamber music for a variety of configurations, solo piano music, choral works, a piece for electric guitar and large ensemble, and much else. 

He has received awards for the National Endowment, Chamber Music America, and in 1998, the Charles Ives Fellowship from the Academy. He has also been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, among many others.

Robert is, in addition, the author of “Terry Riley’s In C,” published by Oxford University Press. For more than 20 years, he has contributed reviews, mostly of recordings of new music, to Fanfare Magazine.

He is a longtime member of the Hartt School faculty, and is currently chair of the composition department.

Congratulations, Robert – drinks are on you.

The Road Less Traveled

Scott Yoo, a violinist and conductor whose still-unfolding career has been a model of both success and unorthodoxy, has just been named artistic director of the Mexico City Philharmonic. 

Many of you may remember Scott – he grew up in Glastonbury, and performed often as a violin prodigy in these parts. And prodigy is the right term. He began his violin studies at three, and when he was 12, he performed the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

But after graduating from Glastonbury High School, he took an unusual detour and went to Harvard, where he majored in physics.

Yoo with students in Colombia.
Credit MDE Ciudad Inteligente / Creative Commons

Nevertheless, he found time to keep up his violin chops, and eventually won the Avery Fisher Career Grant, possibly the most important award available to a rising classical performer.

Since then, his career has increasingly been devoted to conducting, a passion that first manifested itself in the early 1990s, when he founded and led the widely admired Boston-based chamber orchestra Metamorphosen.

Now 44, Scott is currently the artistic director of Festival Mozaic in California, as well as Medellin Festicamara, a chamber music festival serving disadvantaged young people in Colombia. He also guest conducts regularly throughout the United States and abroad.

Remembering the Rockville Rocket

The Gene Pitney Commemorative Committee – a group that honors the late singer by awarding scholarships to students planning to pursue music as a profession – has announced that it is donating a memorial granite bench to the town of Somers. The bench will be placed outside Piedmont Hall at 604 Main Street.

Pitney grew up in the Rockville section of Vernon, but lived most of his adult life in nearby Somers. He died of a heart attack at age 66 in 2006, while on tour in Cardiff, Wales.

Pitney in 2006.
Credit Chris Boland via Flickr.com / Creative Commons

Pitney, whose impassioned, clarion tenor voice produced a string of major hits including “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa,” “Half Heaven, Half Heartache,” “I’m Gonna Be Strong,” “Town Without Pity,” “Only Love Can Break a Heart” and – my personal favorite – “I Must be Seeing Things,” married his high school sweetheart in 1967. Despite Pitney’s worldwide fame, the couple lived and raised three sons in an atmosphere is deliberate suburban normalcy.

You Can Lead a Horse to Water…

Obtuse Classical Music quote of the month: A few years ago, the Russian conductor Yuri Temirkanov, who had gained prominence as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, among other high-profile positions, made headlines by saying he didn’t think women should be orchestra conductors. 

Temirkanov performing with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra.
Credit Quincena Musical / Creative Commons

He cited, among other things, their insufficient physical strength. As he so gracefully put it:  “The essence of the conductor’s profession is strength. The essence of a woman is weakness.”

A couple of weeks ago, Baltimore Sun music critic Tim Smith, in an interview, asked Temirkanov if he still felt that women were unsuited to be conductors. The 77-year-old maestro, thus thrown about as easy a softball as one gets in this life, booted it:

… I simply don't like it. There are women boxing and weightlifting; they can do that, but I don't like watching. It is only my taste. We all have different tastes. For example, I don't eat fish.

Temirkanov, of course, was succeeded in the Baltimore music director position, in 2006, by Marin Alsop, who continues to hold the job.

Laying aside any private concerns they may have had about Alsop's strength, the members of the Baltimore Symphony board recently voted to extend her contract through the 2020-2021 season.

Reach Steve Metcalf at spmetcalf55@gmail.com