The progressive-minded Belgian impresario, who gave strong support to such diverse artists as Kaija Saariaho, Mark Morris, Pierre Boulez, and Peter Sellars, died yesterday in Brussels, at the age of seventy. Ultimately, administrators prove their worth through their commitment to new work, and in this respect Mortier deserves enduring thanks: each time L'Amour de loin, The Death of Klinghoffer, or L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato is performed, he will be remembered.
The Talea Ensemble, injecting contemporary life into Carnegie's "Vienna: City of Dreams" festival, just gave a riveting performance of Pierluigi Billone's 2001 work Mani.Long. The Talea will play it twice more this month, at East Carolina University on March 21 and at Brandeis on March 29. Above, video of a more recent Billone piece, Δίκη Wall.
Japan's oldest orchestra is celebrating its centennial with a world tour. It will make its American debut at Alice Tully Hall on March 11, playing two twentieth-century Japanese works — Toshiro Mayuzumi's Bugaku and Kiyoshige Koyama's Kobiki-uta — alongside the Rite of Spring. Eiji Oue conducts. Other highlights of the coming week at Night After Night.
Yuri Temirkanov, on tour with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, inspired a protest last night in San Francisco. The activist Michael Petrelis describes the incident and links to a video. Temirkanov seems to find it all very amusing. Evidence of the conductor's attitude toward women can be found here.
The master of experimental opera died yesterday, at the age of eighty-three. Kyle Gann, author of a brilliant short book about Ashley, remembers him. Much of Ashley's work can readily be seen on YouTube and, especially, Vimeo, which has recent live renditions of Dust and That Morning Thing.
Back in 2004, in one of the first posts on this blog, I noted that Leif Segerstam, the merrily volcanic Finnish composer-conductor, was about to surpass Haydn by writing his 105th symphony. Segerstam is now celebrating his seventieth birthday, and, Vesa Sirén informs me, he is at work on Symphony No. 270 — a number unlikely to be challenged in the record books. Here is a Finnish-language interview by Sirén, with fun photos, and an accompanying video, in which Segerstam says, "I can see an eye, and a camera, but they are on the other side. That's why 'border crossing' is needed."