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Karen Monson

revised by Michael Baumgartner

Ensemble. Formed in New York in 1961 by the violinist Lewis Kaplan, the Aeolian Chamber Players were the first American ensemble of mixed instruments to perform together on a permanent basis. The group, which first played at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts, in October 1961 and made its New York debut shortly thereafter (Town Hall, January 1962), originally consisted of Kaplan, flutist Harold Jones, clarinetist Robert Listokin, and pianist Gilbert Kalish. A cello was added in 1966, with the flute rarely used since 1977. The group has been the resident ensemble at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, since 1964, where the Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, co-founded and directed by Kaplan, takes place. Former members of the ensemble include Jennifer Langbaum and Ronald Thomas (cello), and Charles Neidrich and Thomas Hill (clarinet). The present group includes Kaplan (violin), André Emelianoff (cello), and Peter Basquin (piano). The group, which is recognized for its commitment to both traditional and contemporary repertoire, has toured throughout the United States and Europe. At the Salzburg Festival of ...

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Tully Potter

English string quartet. It was founded in 1926 as the Stratton Quartet by George Stratton, William Manuel, Lawrence Leonard and John Moore, and developed from the Wood Smith Quartet, in which Stratton and Moore played. It found fame after Carl Taylor and Watson Forbes took over the inner parts in 1932 and it was chosen to record Elgar's Quartet and Piano Quintet (with Harriet Cohen). The records were a great solace to the composer in his last illness. Moore remained with the ensemble until 1956 and Forbes until 1962; but Taylor was killed in the war and in all the quartet had 11 second violinists. The leadership also changed hands a few times after Stratton withdrew in 1944 and the title Aeolian Quartet was adopted. The later incumbents, all highly distinguished, were Max Salpeter (1944–6), Alfred Cave (1946–52), Sydney Humphreys (1952–70) and Emanuel Hurwitz. Many of the various formations were perpetuated on records. In particular the line-up of Humphreys, Trevor Williams, Forbes and Derek Simpson made beautiful recordings of Mozart's ‘Dissonance’ and Beethoven's last quartet in ...

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Akwid  

Elijah Wald

Musical group formed in 2002 in Los Angeles. The most successful exponents of the Southern California style known as “banda rap” or “urban regional” music, Akwid is a duo of brothers Francisco and Sergio Gómez. Born in Michoacan and raised in Los Angeles, the Gomezes made their debut in the mid 1990s as English-language rappers Juvenile Style, then switched to Spanish and renamed themselves Akwid (a combination of their deejay pseudonyms, A.K. and Wikid) in 2000.

Their first album gained only lackluster sales, but after they signed with a subsidiary of Univision in 2003, their second, Proyecto Akwid, sold a third of a million CDs. Its sound mixed traditional Mexican music—especially the West Coast brass band style known as banda—with rhythms and studio techniques adapted from gangsta rap. Other groups were attempting similar fusions, but where most had to rely on outside producers, Akwid controlled their own sound and created a particularly organic musical combination, driven by the thump of tuba samples and clever use of familiar ...

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Alabama  

David B. Pruett

Country music group. Acknowledged by the Academy of Country Music (ACM) in 1989 as the Artist of the Decade for the 1980s, Alabama is arguably the most celebrated country music group in the history of the genre. Three of the band’s members—lead vocalist Randy Owen (b Fort Payne, AL, 13 Dec 1949), multi-instrumentalist Jeff Cook (b Fort Payne, AL, 27 Aug 1949), and bassist Teddy Gentry (b Fort Payne, AL, 22 Jan 1952)—had been performing their unique blend of southern rock and country pop together throughout the American South since 1969. Beginning in 1974, the group began playing regular shows in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where drummer Mark Herndon (b Springfield, MA, 11 May 1955) became the group’s fourth and final member in 1979, one year before Alabama signed with RCA. The group’s first major label release My Home’s in Alabama (RCA, ...

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George J. Grella Jr.

Ensemble. Originally a group of students performing in new music concerts at the Eastman School of Music, Alarm Will Sound was formed professionally by artistic director Alan Pierson and managing director Gavin Chuck in 2001. The group made its debut in May of that year at Miller Theater, Columbia University, with Desert Music and Tehillim by Steve Reich. After giving several programs, each devoted to a single contemporary composer, the group began to both commission new works—including John Adams’s Son of Chamber Symphony, Wolfgang Rihm’s Will Sound, and David Lang’s Increase—and to perform arrangements of other music, notably Varèse’s Poeme Electronique, by the composer Evan Hause, and the rhythmically complex electronic dance music of Aphex Twin, Mochipet and Autechre, and the Beatles’ “Revolution 9,” all arranged by ensemble musicians. The group also began adding staging and other theatrical elements to their live performances, developed with director Nigel Maister. These took a range of forms, from stage blocking to the musical theater piece ...

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Tully Potter

Austrian string quartet . It was founded in 1970 by Günter Pichler (b Kufstein, Tyrol, 9 Sept 1940), Klaus Mätzl, Hatto Beyerle and Valentin Erben (b Pernitz, 14 March 1945). Mätzl was replaced in 1978 by Gerhard Schulz (b Linz, 23 Sept 1951) and Beyerle in 1981 by Thomas Kakuska (b Vienna, 25 Aug 1940; d 4 July 2005). In 1969 the original members heard the LaSalle Quartet play virtually all the quartet music of the Second Viennese School at the Vienna Festival; and for the 1970–71 season they studied in Cincinnati with the LaSalle. In the autumn of 1971 they made their joint début at the Konzerthaus in Vienna, becoming the first full-time string quartet in that city's history – previous ensembles had combined chamber music with orchestral playing. In 1972 Berg's widow gave them permission to use his name. From the start the Alban Berg Quartet tried to include a contemporary work in every recital: its premières have included works by Leitermeyer, Einem, Wimberger, Rihm, Schnittke and Berio, and two each by Urbanner and Haubenstock-Ramati. Its playing, combining warmth and precision in a recognizably Viennese manner, has consistently reached the highest level of accomplishment, although its style has altered slightly. A change of second violinist made little difference but the substitution of Kakuska for Beyerle caused a noticeable switch of emphasis; a fine Mozart ensemble became a fine Haydn ensemble instead. Its homogeneity of tone – partly attributable to the fact that all except the cellist studied with Franz Samohyl – has remained constant throughout. The group's recordings have won many prizes. Berg's Quartet and Lyric Suite have been documented twice, as have the mature works by Mozart and Schubert and the Beethoven cycle – the second Beethoven set was recorded live. The individual members are professors at the Vienna Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst and the Cologne Hochschule für Musik, and all have musical interests outside the quartet: Pichler is a conductor, Schulz plays in other ensembles such as the Waldstein Trio, and Kakuska and Erben are soloists. Their instruments include a ...

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Deena Weinstein

Both an American Detroit-based hard rock band and the adopted name of its singer and main creative force Vincent Damon Furnier (b Detroit, MI, 4 Feb 1946). Cooper was the son of a minister and the nephew of the storyteller Damon Runyon, after whom he was named. He moved to Arizona, where he attended high school and formed the Nazz. This band eventually took the name Alice Cooper and developed an over-the-top, theatrical shock-rock style that influenced a host of other rock performers.

With snide and clever lyrics, Alice Cooper’s style was mainly hard rock, but some tunes were psychedelic and others would be suitable in a Broadway musical. After moving to Michigan, the band scored numerous hits in the early 1970s. Many of the songs were rebellious youth-focused anthems, including “Eighteen” (Warner, 1971) and “School’s Out” (Warner, 1972). Others centered on ghoulish menace or mere gothic gruesomeness like “Dead Babies” (Warner, ...

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Ronald D. Cohen

Singing group and political activists. In late 1940 Pete Seeger met Lee Hays, a preacher and labor organizer from Arkansas, and his New York roommate, Millard Lampell, a writer from New Jersey. By February 1941 they had launched the Almanac Singers, a loose collection of musicians devoted to performing original and traditional folksongs, many with a hard political edge. Soon joined by Bess Lomax (sister of Alan), Baldwin (“Butch”) and Peter Hawes, Josh White, Woody Guthrie, Agnes (“Sis”) Cunningham, and others, they performed before various labor and left-wing groups. Their first album of peace songs, Songs for John Doe, appeared in early 1941. This was followed by two albums of traditional songs, Sod Buster Ballads and Deep Sea Chanties, and the pro-labor Talking Union. Their final album, Dear Mr. President, which consisted of pro-war songs, was released in 1942. Their left-wing politics led to much negative publicity, and with the start of World War II the group began to fragment. Seeger joined the Army, Guthrie entered the Merchant Marine, and the others went in various directions, but their creative songs and folk style would live on....

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Tully Potter

British string quartet. It was founded in London in 1947 by Norbert Brainin (b Vienna, 12 March 1923; d Harrow, Middx, 10 April 2005), Siegmund Nissel (b Vienna, 3 Jan 1922; d London, 21 May 2008), (Hans) Peter Schidlof (b Mödling, 9 July 1922; d Bassenthwaite, Cumbria, 15 Aug 1987) and Martin Lovett (b London, 3 March 1927). The violinists and viola player came to Britain from Austria just before the war and were pupils of Max Rostal. Lovett, who had studied with his father and at the RCM with Ivor James, was also of immigrant stock and was in Rostal's orbit as a member of his chamber orchestra. Brainin, who had previously studied with Riccardo Odnoposoff and Rosa Hochmann (and briefly with Carl Flesch), and Schidlof were both brilliant violinists; but the latter agreed to take the viola part and became a leading exponent of that instrument. As the Brainin Quartet, the four gave their first concert at the Dartington Summer School on ...

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Mark Alburger

Instrumental ensemble. Founded in 1986 in San Francisco by Stephen Schultz (principal flutist with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Musica Angelica), its members include Gonzalo X. Ruiz (oboe), Elizabeth Blumenstock (violin), Roy Whelden (viola da gamba), and Katherine Shao (harpsichord). The ensemble has performed in Europe and America, and been featured on National Public Radio. The group’s repertory includes 18th-century music and new works by American composers. American Baroque has recorded 14 CDs, beginning with quartets by Telemann—the “Paris” and Fourth Book sets (Amon Ra, 1989/Koch, 1990). In 1991, the group issued French Cantatas of the 18th Century, with soprano Julianne Baird, also on Koch. Galax (New Albion, 1993) followed, with music by Whelden (Quartet After Abel/Gamba Quartet), and Carl Friedrich Abel. Another collaboration with Whelden yielded Like a Passing River (1995), featuring poet/reader Rudy Rucker, on the same label. After albums of sonatas by Boismortier and Telemann (Naxos ...

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Ellen Highstein

Brass quintet, formed by trombonists Arnold Fromme and Gilbert Cohen in 1960; its present members are Chris Gekker and Raymond Mase, trumpets; David Wakefield, horn; Michael Powell, tenor trombone; and John D. Rojak, bass trombone. The group gave its first public performance at the 92nd Street ‘Y’ and made its official New York début at Carnegie Recital Hall in 1962. At that time the brass quintet was little heard in the concert hall, and the ensemble played a major part in introducing audiences to brass instruments in the chamber context. Its commitment to the expansion of the brass chamber literature and its renowned virtuosity, precision, and stylistic accuracy have resulted in the composition of more than 100 new works by such composers as Carter, Thomson, Druckman, Schuman, Starer, Sampson, Bolcom and Schuller. The group's concerts usually include premières and the performance of ‘rediscovered’ older pieces. The quintet has also explored performance practice on older instruments, and its many recordings include two of 19th-century American brass music played on period instruments. The group became ensemble-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival in ...

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E. Douglas Bomberger

Concerts consisting exclusively of works by American composers. The practice of promoting American composers by segregating their music has recurred often since the middle of the 19th century and was especially in vogue in the late 1880s, during World War II, and in the years around the Bicentennial of American independence in 1976.

The American Music Association was founded in 1855 by C.J. Hopkins to counter the assertion that American composers had not written enough compositions to present an entire concert. It presented ten concerts of works by native composers and resident foreigners in three seasons before succumbing to the financial panic of 1857. In May 1877, Russian pianist Annette Essipoff performed American Composers’ Concerts in Boston and New York on stages decked with red, white and blue.

The fad for American Composers’ Concerts in the 1880s was a reaction to inequities in the copyright laws of the era. Because the United States did not have an international copyright agreement, publishers could reprint foreign works without paying royalties. Even the best American composers—who were entitled to royalties—found it difficult to compete against cheaply produced foreign compositions flooding the American market. In addition to lobbying for copyright protection, composers and performers were determined to introduce their works to the public through performances....

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George J., Jr. Grella

[ACME]

Ensemble founded in 2004 by the cellist Clarice Jensen, the conductor Donato Cabrera, and the manager Christina Jensen. Cabrera left in 2005 for a post with the San Francisco Opera. The group made its debut on 7 November 2004, at the Tenri Cultural Institute in New York. In 2008 ACME performed a month-long residency at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, and in March 2009 it appeared at Carnegie Hall for the first time, performing the premiere of Timothy Andres’ Senior with the New York Youth SO. The following year the ensemble toured with the pianist Simone Dinnerstein playing chamber arrangements of J. S. Bach’s keyboard concertos BWV 1052 and 1056, and participated in Louis Andriessen’s Carnegie Hall residency. It has also programmed and presented Composer Portraits at the Miller Theater, Columbia University. Through 2010, ACME had given 75 public concerts, performing music by John Adams, John Cage, Elliott Carter, George Crumb, Charles Ives, Phil Kline, Steve Reich, Neil Rolnick, Frederic Rzewski, Arnold Schoenberg, Toru Takemitsu, Kevin Volans, and Iannis Xenakis. The group’s repertoire, which also includes music by Henryk Gorecki and John Luther Adams, suits their musical artistry, precision, and flexibility; this last enables them to break down into a separate, highly capable string quartet. Members through ...

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Dee Baily

Opera company. It was founded in 1885 by Jeannette Thurber, whose policy was to engage competent, if unknown, American singers for productions of grand opera sung in English. Thurber appointed a board of eminent directors with Andrew Carnegie as president, and engaged theodore Thomas, who had his own touring orchestra, as music director. Among the fully staged operas presented by the troupe were W.A. Mozart’s The Magic Flute, C.W. Gluck’s Orpheus and Euridice, Richad Wagner’s Lohengrin and The Flying Dutchman, Victor Massé’s Galatea, Verdi’s Aida, Karl Goldmark’s Queen of Sheba, and the American premiere of Anton Rubinstein’s Nero; the repertory also included the ballets Sylvia and Coppélia by Léo Delibes. The first season opened on 4 January 1886 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the company’s ensuing six-month tour of the United States (mainly the Northeast) was hailed as an artistic success and a commendable effort in spite of poor management. After the first season, the company was reincorporated: Thomas became president, and it began its second season in ...

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Tammy L. Kernodle

Founded by Everett McCorvey in 1995, the ensemble defines its mission as the preservation of the spiritual tradition. McCorvey, a native of Montgomery, Alabama and Professor of Voice and Director of Opera at the University of Kentucky, founded the group because he felt that the arranged spiritual tradition was not being celebrated in the same manner as other forms of African American sacred music, especially gospel music. The group’s membership, which ranges from 25 to 50 performers depending on the performance requirements, consists of singers who have performed on the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, the Houston Grand Opera, and concert halls throughout Europe. Although he traveled the world as a tenor soloist and has served as artist faculty at the American Institute of Musical Study in Graz, Austria, McCorvey has made a considerable contribution to the American concert tradition through the group. The group’s repertory includes not only arranged spirituals in the ensemble and art song format, but also jazz and Broadway tunes. It has traveled extensively around the world. In ...

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[ASOL]

Organization founded in 1942 to provide artistic, financial and organizational support for American orchestras. In 1999 its members included nearly 900 symphony, chamber, youth and university orchestras. In addition to offering seminars and workshops for orchestra managers, staff and volunteers, the league sponsors an Orchestra Management Fellowship Program and provides scholarships for black American student musicians. In ...

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Lori Burns and Jada Watson

[Myra Ellen]

(b Newton, NC, Aug 22, 1963). American alternative-rock singer-songwriter, pianist, and record producer. She emerged in the early 1990s amid a resurgence of female singer-songwriters and has been one of the few well known alternative-rock artists to use the piano as her primary instrument. She attended the preparatory division of the prestigious Peabody Conservatory but left the school at the age of 11. She began to play her own music in nightclubs at 14, chaperoned by her father, who was a preacher. After Amos moved to Los Angeles in her late teens to pursue a recording career, her band Y Kant Tori Read released a self-titled album (Atl., 1987). Although this was unsuccessful, Atlantic Records retained her six-album contract.

Amos’s debut solo album, Little Earthquakes (Atl., 1992), earned her critical acclaim for her vocal expressivity, pianistic virtuosity, and fearless exploration of a wide range of personal themes, notably female sexuality, personal relationships, religion, sexual violence, and coming of age. The album ...