classical Archive

Best Music of 2016: Concerts

There’s a bit of overlap where my best albums and best concerts of 2016 are concerned. And there are some old favorites, too. John Mayall Neighborhood Theatre, Charlotte NC March 11, 2016 It was only around this time that I pivoted to writing as a full-time job (in other words, how I make my living).

Album Mini-review: Mike Mills and Robert McDuffie – Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra

File next to: R.E.M., E.L.O. Hybridizing rock ‘n’ roll and classical is nothing new: arguably, the Beatles did it in 1965 with “Yesterday.” And many others have attempted since, including E.L.O. Yet there’s something fresh and new about this, the latest project from R.E.M. Bassist Mike Mills. Working with lifelong friend, Juilliard-trained violinist Robert McDuffie

Mike Mills Bridges the Gap Between Rock and Classical

Most people know Mike Mills as the bassist in R.E.M.; he was a founding member of the band and remained with them until their 2011 breakup. Since that time, he’s been a key player in the series of “Big Star‘s 3rd” concerts. But behind the scenes, Mills has been working on an even more ambitious

Brevard Music Center: Celebrating 80 Years with 80+ Shows

There’s something for most every musical taste during Brevard Music Center‘s 2016 season. Less than an hour’s drive southwest from Asheville, the center not only mounts an impressive array of performances, but centers all its activities around the teaching of more than 425 students in classical symphony, opera, chamber music and other disciplines. “We’re both

Mark and Maggie O’Connor: Life Influences Art

“In music of the 1700s, 1800s and the early part of the 20th century, the violinist or fiddler carried the weight of the group,” says virtuoso violinist/fiddler Mark O’Connor. “Everybody else kept playing and just went with it. But as musical literature for bands became more sophisticated, the violin somehow lost some ground. So with

Roomful of Teeth: Putting Music Where Their Mouths Are

“It’s all about the voice,” says Brad Wells, founder of Grammy Award-winning Roomful of Teeth, a nine-person modern classical vocal ensemble dedicated to “min[ing] the expressive potential of the human voice.” Through use of a wide array of supremely challenging and/or obscure vocal techniques, the group creates a sound like nothing else. “Pretty much all

Album Review: Craig Leon et. al. — Bach to Moog

During a press conference held amidst the April 2014 Moogfest – the last time that festival would be held in Asheville, NC, home of Moog Music and the adopted hometown of the late Dr. R.A. (Bob) Moog – Moog personnel and famed musician/composer Keith Emerson unveiled a new build of Emerson’s classic “beast,” the modular

Album Review: Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia

On one hand, the existence of this album makes perfect sense. Among many Who fans (myself most assuredly included), Quadrophenia ranks among the most celebrated work from Pete Townshend and/or The Who. While Tommy was arguably more groundbreaking – often (and incorrectly) cited as the first “rock opera” – Quadrophenia remains a more musically and

Festival Review: Big Ears Festival 2015, Part 2

Continued from Part One… Next, it was drone time. The minimalist work of the duo A Winged Victory for the Sullen (joined by three additional musicians) was delivered in the bright, daylit room at the Knoxville Museum of Art. The hypnotic vibe of the group’s work lent itself to simply sitting back and closing one’s

Festival Review: Big Ears Festival 2015, Part 1

Typically, I don’t make a point of attending “kickoff events” at the start of music festivals. My thinking is that they’re generally an opportunity to spotlight the event sponsors and so forth. That’s all well and good, but it’s not, strictly speaking, entertainment. But since I had gone to Moogfest 2014‘s opening event and enjoyed