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Metcalf on Music

Steve Metcalf has been writing about the musical life of this region, and the wider world, for more than 30 years. For 21 of those years, he was the full-time staff music critic of The Hartford Courant. During that period, via the L.A. Times/Washington Post news service, his reviews, profiles and feature stories appeared in 400 newspapers worldwide.

He is also the former assistant dean and director of instrumental music at The Hartt School, where he founded the Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series. Steve is also keyboardist emeritus of the needlessly loud rock band Duke and the Esoterics.

Reach him at spmetcalf55@gmail.com.

terceirav / Creative Commons

Over the years, I’ve scrambled to think of ways to write about Christmas music.

Overrated, Underrated, Unfairly Neglected, Ten Best, 12 Worst, Pop, Classical – I’ve just about used up journalism’s standard-issue bag of Devices We Use for Recurring Yearly Phenomena.

Asylum Hill Congregational Church

Gary Miller wasn’t primarily a musician; he was a clergyman.

As many thousands of you around here know, Gary was the senior minister at Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford for 12 years, beginning in 1999. And he was beloved by that sprawling, interestingly diverse congregation.

Xavier Badosa / Creative Commons

Bob Dylan's own reaction to winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature isn't known yet. In his first public appearance following the news, a couple of days after the announcement, he took the stage for a concert Las Vegas. He said nothing about the award.

Hartford Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

The new arts season is upon us, and two of the area’s premier music institutions get started this week.

CBS Television

Thanks to the restless and inquiring mind of Colin McEnroe, many of us have been recently thinking about the following questions: Is the rock era over? 

"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" / ABC Photo Archives

The death of Hugh O’Brian last week has put me in a nostalgic mood for the great TV Westerns of yesteryear.

Ash & James Photography / The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra

Arts administrators don’t often get the chance to communally reflect on their precarious profession, but on Saturday, September 17, the University of Hartford will host an event that is informally being billed as an arts summit.

HartfordSymphonyBlog.com

These days, just about everybody in the classical music world has an idea about how to enliven the concert experience.

Stephen Hough, the brilliant British-born pianist and composer, has just put forward what might be the single most effective one, not to mention unquestionably the least expensive: Make concerts shorter, already.

Andrew Eccles / Emerson String Quartet

I know a lot of you around here recall watching with admiration and amazement the steady rise of the Emerson String Quartet, as they moved from complete unknowns to a place at the very pinnacle of the string quartet world.

ABC Television / Creative Commons

The 2016 Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will go to William “Smokey” Robinson.

About time.

E. Bieber / Creative Commons

Earlier this week, it was reported that the autograph manuscript of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”) will be auctioned at Sotheby’s this fall.

Dc 160 / Wikimedia

After a six-month national search, The Hartt School has a new dean.

Hilary Scott

Just to get this out of the way, I have no problem calling Brian Wilson a genius.

Over the years, some of my classical music friends have clucked at my willingness to grant this designation to the man who brought us “Fun, Fun, Fun” and “Surfer Girl” and “Little Deuce Coupe.

Thomas Breitkopf / Creative Commons

Flash: The musical is back.

UpstateNYer / Creative Commons

It has always been my belief that the summer music season is so irresistible because it combines two of life’s most attractive features: (1) summer, and (2) music.

Shawn Robbins / Creative Commons

As celebrity milestone birthdays go, Dylan’s 75th passed pretty quietly last Tuesday.

Kevin Bishop

Many of you around here know Kevin Bishop, a violist and Hartt School grad who has established himself as one of the region’s most enterprising musical figures.

John Schiller / Creative Commons

When we last looked in on the Hartford Symphony Orchestra a little more than three months ago, the management and players had just settled on a new four-year contract.

YouTube / Creative Commons

Last week, Alex Ross, the great classical music critic of The New Yorker, offered a vivid recollection of a concert he saw back in 2004.

Metropolitan Opera / Facebook

If you pay any attention to the music world, you already know that James Levine announced last week that he is stepping down as artistic director of the Metropolitan Opera, an institution he has been associated with for 40 years.

Morn the Gorn / Creative Commons

I was talking to Rick Coffey the other day about Mendelssohn’s great oratorio “Elijah.” 

Bruno Tedeschi

I’ve been thinking a lot about chamber music.

Jesse Kruger via Flickr.com / Creative Commons

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

University of Salford / Creative Commons

The great Sir Peter Maxwell Davies – composer, champion of simple living, all-purpose contrarian – left us a few days ago.

Copyright 1966 Capitol Records

On a hot August afternoon in 1966, I was driving down a residential street in my hometown of Niskayuna, New York.

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