I had an unusually busy spate of evening activities recently... I've been sort of a homebody for the last few years, ever since the twins were born. But we're starting to figure out ways to get out more, and this last two weeks were a welcome change, especially since I enjoyed the events so much!
First was the presentation of Bach's St. Matthew Passion at the Armory, conducted by Simon Rattle and directed by Peter Sellars. I lucked into tickets at the last minute (this was a very hard ticket to score) and was so grateful to be there. It was a stunning evening of music making... two orchestras, two choruses, brilliant soloists and a very spare but effective setting within the imposing Armory space. The opening chorus alone was worth the (normally extremely high) price of admission... I was struck with how "avant-garde" Bach was in his time—this is a pretty wild piece of writing. The staging and acting of the piece was always interesting and engaging, but it was the music making that really floored me. When instrumentalists had solo moments in arias, they often stepped forward and related directly to the solo singer, from memory. One wonderful moment featured the two english horn players and the flutist, gathered around the supine figure of the evangelist and accompanying an aria all by themselves. Rattle traveled from orchestra to orchestra, and the sound design made the Armory seem like it had great acoustics, which I don't think it really does!
Second was "The Fortress of Solitude" at the Public Theater, an ambitious and multi-layered work that is still in previews. This is Michael Friedman's most sophisticated and rich work that I've heard so far, and the staging by Daniel Aukin and his collaborators is top notch.
Third was Basil Twist's Stravinsky evening at Lincoln Center's White Light Festival, presented at Rose Hall. This was only the third fully staged evening I've seen in that space, and I'm struck by how wonderful a venue it is for staged work... I understand that it is very expensive to produce there, and this production must have come close to breaking the bank, as it was extremely impressive in both its visuals and its high level of musicianship. The Orchestra of St. Luke's was at its finest under the baton of Jayce Ogren. The use of China Silk alone in "The Rite of Spring" was constantly dazzling, as was the surprise dancing solo of the virtually naked Christopher Williams. The lighting and projection design were also very beautiful and effective.
I also hosted an intimate evening at a gorgeous apartment with a spectacular view of the Hudson River on Monday... a sneak peek at THE ROAD OF PROMISE, which I'll be directing and conducting at Carnegie in the spring. Three of our soloists, Philip Cutlip, Lauren Michelle and Justin Hopkins joined me, as did Ed Harsh, the composer who edited this version of the piece. We're doing a season preview event at Alvin Ailey on Monday night which will feature this piece as well as Susanna and Not the Messiah! And I start rehearsals earlier that day for SHOW BOAT... never a dull moment!