Watch the premiere of Time of Our Singing, featuring Saxophonist Mark Turner

Belgian composer and jazz pianist Kris Defoort premiered a new opera last month, The Time of Our Singing. This opera is based on Richard Powers’ 2003 novel of the same name which tells the story of a mixed raced family growing up during racial segregation in America. This production is staged by the Belgian operaContinue reading “Watch the premiere of Time of Our Singing, featuring Saxophonist Mark Turner”

The publisher Edward B Marks Music Company is now in the database, home to Darius Milhaud and William Bolcom

As I keep searching, new works by notable composers get added to the database. The publisher Edward B Marks is home to American composer William Bolcom and includes Bolcom’s collaborations with Darius Milhaud. Milhaud’s output for this publisher is unique, as it includes new arrangements of existing operas and plays. The first work in thisContinue reading “The publisher Edward B Marks Music Company is now in the database, home to Darius Milhaud and William Bolcom”

How opera is instrumental to the “Évolution” of vibrato

For saxophonists, playing with vibrato is second nature in classical performance. But up until the 1920s, most saxophonists played with an even tone. Vibrato on the saxophone was limited to jazz saxophonists and vaudeville stars. In 1928, Marcel Mule was in rehearsal for Edouard L’Enfant’s ballet, Évolution and he had a breakthrough. What if heContinue reading “How opera is instrumental to the “Évolution” of vibrato”

The Jazz Problem: the shifting image of the saxophone in the 1920s

A couple of years ago, I picked up an old copy of The Etude from July of 1924. The editorial in that issue promised the next issue would be dedicated to jazz. I was one month too early. Luckily, the August 1924 issue is archived online. This issue is a great resource for jazz andContinue reading “The Jazz Problem: the shifting image of the saxophone in the 1920s”

Musica Brasilis is now added to the database

Brazilian music publisher, Musica Bralisis is now listed in the database. Musica Brasilis documents the long rich history of Brazilian music beginning in the 1500s. The website includes downloadable scores, videos, and soundclips documenting over 100 years of Brazilian recorded music. Searching for operas, I was listening to choros, tangos, bossa novas, and sambas listedContinue reading “Musica Brasilis is now added to the database”

Duke Ellington’s lost opera, Queenie Pie is now in the database

In the 1930s, Duke Ellington started working on an opera about Madame C.J. Walker, the first African American woman millionaire. These sketches became the basis for the opera, Queenie Pie. Queenie, one of New York’s finest beauticians, is challenged by a rival, Cafe O’Lay a lighter skinned Creole. Cafe O’Lay sells skin-whitening concoctions to residentsContinue reading “Duke Ellington’s lost opera, Queenie Pie is now in the database”

Sidney Bechet’s ballet “La Nuit Est Une Sorcière” is now listed in the database

Soprano Saxophonist and New Orleans native Sidney Bechet (1897-1957) is now listed in the database. Bechet wrote the ballet, La Nuit Est Une Sorcière, while he was living in Paris in the 1950s. The ballet received mixed reviews when it premiered in 1953. The mixture of classical and jazz themes confused the audience. Even moreContinue reading “Sidney Bechet’s ballet “La Nuit Est Une Sorcière” is now listed in the database”

One of the first Operas with the saxophone, Meyerbeer’s 1849 Le Prophète

When I started this project, I was researching all Romantic operas that were orchestrated for the saxophone. 800+ works of operas and ballets later, I am still finding early Romantic operas, including Giacomo Meyerbeer’s (1791-1864) 1849 grand opera, Le Prophète, which makes it the second oldest opera in the database after George Kastner’s 1844 opera,Continue reading “One of the first Operas with the saxophone, Meyerbeer’s 1849 Le Prophète”

Hamlet: Streaming on Met on Demand, 5/5-5/6

One of the first operas to feature the alto saxophone, Ambroise Thomas’s 1868 opera, Hamlet is streaming tonight on Met on Demand. You can watch it here until Thursday, May 6th: https://www.metopera.org/season/on-demand/opera/?upc=811357013625 Here is the Metropolitan Opera’s description of this 2010 production. “After over a century out of the Met’s repertoire, audiences were thrilled toContinue reading “Hamlet: Streaming on Met on Demand, 5/5-5/6”

William Grant Still is now in the Database

Composer William Grant Still (1895-1978), long considered “Dean of African-American Classical Composers” is now listed in the database. Still is known for inserting African-American folk songs and spirituals into his compositions. Two ballets are listed in the database, 1937’s Lenox Avenue and 1941’s Miss Sally’s Party. In Lenox Avenue, Still called for 3 saxophonists, Alto, Alto/Bari,Continue reading “William Grant Still is now in the Database”