Two hundred years ago this week, Giuseppe Verdi was born in an Italian town midway between Bologna and Milan. On the occasion of his bicentennial, All Things Considered wanted to know what makes the great opera composer so enduring â€” why his work is still so frequently discussed and performed these two centuries later. The answer, says conductor and arranger John Mauceri, is that Verdi had a knack for making thorny topics accessible.
The San Antonio Symphony debuted its new season last weekend and Musical Director and sometimes Conductor Sebastian Lang-Lessing predicts a lot of sizzle for their Friday and Saturday night performances at the Majestic.
"Itâ€™s going to be a very exciting performance for me," he said. "Schumann is something Â thatâ€™s very personal for me. Iâ€™m very close to his music. Iâ€™ve recorded all of his symphonies and always feature him when I can."
Lang-Lessing is also looking forward to playing Rachmaninoffâ€™s "Symphonic Dances."
This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Celeste Headlee. Michel Martin is away. They call it The People's Opera, but after this month, the New York City Opera will exist only in the history books. The renowned company is closing after 70 years. The New York City Opera failed to raise the $7 million it needed to cover its debts and will file for bankruptcy protection.
San Antonioâ€™s SOLI Chamber Ensemble is about to begin its new season and violinist Ertan Torgul said their selections will include what he calls "classics of today" -- selections of such quality that time will eventually render them classics.
"Weâ€™re always very innovative," he said. "We do a lot of multimedia and we do a lot of mixed ensemble things, and brand new pieces of course. Every season features at least four or five brand new works."
Cellist and composer Erik Friedlander lost his wife of many years, dancer and choreographer Lynn Shapiro, to breast cancer in 2011. She'd been diagnosed a decade earlier, and Friedlander says music became a place of vital release for him as her condition worsened.
"During the difficult years, I did take refuge in working," he says. "It was a place where I could make the rules; where I could control what I could control."
The San Antonio Choral Societyâ€™s 49th performing season starts October 15, so Music Director Jennifer Seighman dropped by the studio with a preview.
â€śWe will have four major concerts," she said. "The first one is 'The Hills Are Alive: Music of Bavaria and Austria' and this is in anticipation of our choir tour to Bavaria and Austria, and also to help us get started celebrating Octoberfest this month."
Seighman said the "Hills Are Alive" performance will contain selections from "The Sound of Music."