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A Pekka Kuusisto Playlist

Shapes and Sounds Title Image KAAPO KAMU · Date 07/28/2016 “Hi VANdals,” Pekka Kuusisto writes to us in the email with this playlist. The Finnish violinist, experimenter, and artistic director of the Meidän Festivaali (“Our Festival”) in Järvenpää, will visit his home country on tour with the Minnesota Orchestra this August, playing Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto; […]

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A Graham F. Valentine Playlist

Voices of the Past and Present Title Image © Werner Buechler · Date 07/21/2016 “Your voice…is attracting the most discerning audiences.” In the 1994 film “Farinelli,” the actor and performer Graham F. Valentine looks down at the kneeling castrato, delivering faint praise in a nobleman’s reedy French. His normal speaking voice is a bass-baritone with […]

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Chains Are My Reward

While awaiting his execution by firing squad, the painter Cavaradossi sings, “I die in despair, and never before have I loved life so much!” It’s an aria of reverie, lament, and implicit protest against his captors. In this opera, Puccini’s “Tosca” (1900), power and evil aren’t abstractions: the chief of secret police has arrested and […]

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A JACK Quartet Playlist

This playlist, by JACK Quartet cellist Kevin McFarland, emphasizes darkness—a fitting counterpoint to the group’s recent and upcoming concerts (on March 4 at San Francisco Performances) of Georg Friedrich Haas’ String Quartet No. 3, “In iij Noct.” Here is McFarland’s introduction to the compilation. “In putting together this playlist, I struggled with the seemingly infinite […]

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An Olga Neuwirth Playlist

Malaria! – “Geld/Money” In the 1980s, I was a punk living in the Austrian countryside, and I couldn’t wait to trade alpine meadows for a big, rough city. This all-girl band from Berlin made provocative, social-political, tough-as-nails songs; they inspired me to be loud, and ironic, and stir things up in my uptight environment.  Besides […]

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A Barbara Hannigan Playlist

On February 4, 5, and 6, the soprano Barbara Hannigan will perform Hans Abrahamsen’s “let me tell you,” with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons, conductor. Here is her introduction to this playlist, which she uses to inhabit her role of Shakespeare’s Ophelia. “For many of the major pieces I perform, I make a […]