Claude Debussy at 150: We take his musical revolution for granted

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy, one of Western music’s revolutionaries.

As with the varying styles of Impressionist paintings, the long view represents something defined, but the closer you get, the more his compositions start to fall apart into the individual components that our minds work imperceptibly to piece together into meaningful shapes.

The long view is so sleek and seductive that listeners long ago began taking Debussy’s art for granted.

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A real performance: “You don’t just have to nail it, but show us that you’ve nailed it”

Mid-August marks the end of summer festivals, academies, workshops and camps where music performance students get a chance to grow artistically (and usually personally, as well) outside of their regular environment. Continue reading

Meditation: Music is a means of enjoying the ephemeral

I sat on the balcony for a few minutes this morning as the rising sun began to illuminate passing grey clouds, turning them a peachy-orange from below and creamy yellow from above. Continue reading

The Valentina Lisitsa phenomenon: Some things that glitter on YouTube may actually be gold

YouTube phenom Valentina Lisitsa performs live on YouTube at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Ukrainian-born pianist Valentina Lisitsa is here to prove that the phenomenon of YouTube celebrity does not have to be a case of social media puffery. Continue reading

Pittsburgh Symphony rejects online concerto competition finalists

YouTube has done it for symphony musicians and composer-conductor Eric Whitacre uses it regularly for his virtual choirs. But holding online auditions is not so easy when it comes to finding a professional-grade soloist.

On Feb. 9, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra launched an online concert-soloist competition. The organization and its music director Manfred Honeck thought they would discover a brilliant, underappreciated young violinist, pianist, cellist or other solo musician who does not have a manager or agent. Continue reading

Preview: Poor Liza mixes Russian ballet and theatre in modern, multidisciplinary show

Dancer Andrei Merkuriev and actor Chulpan Khamatova star in multidisciplinary show Poor Liza, at the John Bassett Theatre on June 13.

Toronto’s two-dozen largest ethnic communities enjoy vibrant cultural scenes that don’t often spill over to reach a broader audience. Show One Productions, anchored on the GTA’s roughly 100,000-strong population of ethnic Russians, is different. Continue reading