classical music

Chris Hartlove

The celebrated American pianist, conductor and teacher Leon Fleisher died Aug 2 at the age of 92. Cara Lieurance asked Pierre Van Der Westhuizen, the executive director of the Gilmore Keyboard Festival, to share his thoughts on one of the century's greatest musicians in the world of classical music. Fleisher performed at the Festival several times, notably premiering the Piano Concerto For the Left-Hand by Michigan composer C. Curtis-Smith.


John Lacko/Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

It may seem like a conductor's job is to spend all their time rehearsing musicians and conducting concerts, but according to Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra resident conductor Daniel Brier, that's only 10% of the work. The other 90% is studying and interpreting the scores. So when the COVID-19 crisis prevented Brier from conducting, he found new ways to be productive.


Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra

In Beethoven's ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, Prometheus transforms "not-quite-living" people into fully alive humans with the gifts of art, science, and music. After the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the symphony's season, that story gave Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra music director Julian Kuerti the inspiration to direct and edit a short film of the Kalamazoo Symphony musicians playing their parts from their homes. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Kuerti "pulls back the curtain" on how he took on the challenge of editing individual sound and video files into a cohesive film, which would pay tribute to Beethoven's message and the musicians of his orchestra.  


Elizabeth Start's many plans collapsed in March with the COVID-19 shutdown. An active soloist, chamber music player, symphony player and composer, she also lost opportunities to have her own music performed locally and beyond.

But when the reality of the situtation sank in, Start didn't sink: she swam in new directions. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, she talks about how long-delayed projects, big and small, got the attention they deserved when all the immediate deadlines went away.

Courtesy of The Stulberg Competition

189 musicians from around the world applied to the Stulberg International String Competition by the deadline in February. Then the new executive director, Megan Yankee,  had to think fast when the coronavirus pandemic hit. This Saturday, May 16, the semifinalists won’t be waiting in the wings of the Dalton Center Recital Hall to hear the winners announced. They’ll be at home, watching online like everyone else. In an interview with Cara Lieurance, Yankee explained that she consulted with the Stulberg board, the adjudicators, and the semifinalists to see if they would agree to putting the competition online. 

The 12 semi-finalists will be judged on videos they already submitted when they applied for the competition. Each will also create a video of music by Bach. The videos will stream online beginning at noon Saturday, and the final results should be announced sometime after 3:30 pm. 

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