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Articles by Jean Ballard Terepka

Jean Ballard Terepka
About Jean Ballard Terepka (112 Articles)
Jean Ballard Terepka, a native and life-long New Yorker, has been writing about music for twenty years. In addition to her continuing career as an independent educational consultant, Terepka also works as an archivist and historian with specialties in American cultural, intellectual and religious history. Terepka serves on the Executive Committee of the Harlem African Burial Ground Task Force and on the Board of National Episcopal Historians and Archivists; she is a member of the Music Critics Association of North America.

American Classical Orchestra and Chorus: Georg Philipp Telemann’s “Day of Judgment”

October 20, 2015

The American Classical Orchestra and Chorus' recent performance of Georg Philipp Telemann's "Der Tag des Gerichts" (Day of Judgment) realized the very best of their original mission of “preserving and performing the repertoire of 17th to 19th century composers, playing the works on original or reproduced period instruments.” Presented in the generously resonant space of the Church of Saint Ignatius of Antioch on West 87th Street, Telemann's brilliant piece was at once accessible and intellectually elegant. [more]

Simon Steen-Anderson and JACK Quartet: “Run Time Error”

September 29, 2015

"Run Time Error," an evening of recent and new works, including both New York and United States premieres composed by Simon Steen-Andersen, who performed with the JACK Quartet, had all the makings of a wonderful evening. Steen-Andersen, Danish born and now Berlin-based composer has received numerous accolades and awards internationally. JACK Quartet – Christopher Otto/violin, Ari Streisfeld/violin, John Pickford Richards/viola and Kevin McFarland/cello – are stunning musicians equally at home in traditional classical and contemporary experimental literature. "Run Time Error" should have been marvelous: there were all sorts of promising elements. It was meant to be a splendid opening to Miller Theatre's 27th Season. There were indeed some fun parts, but it wasn't marvelous. [more]

The Peking Opera: The Jewelry Purse

September 11, 2015

With considerable fanfare and extensive advance publicity, Chinese opera singer Zhang Juoding made her American debut at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. Performing with the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts, Zhang Huoding brought her own very modern magnetic star power and the very old, formal traditions of a highly stylized traditional Chinese art form to an exuberantly adoring, largely Chinese audience. Over two nights, the company presented "Legend of the White Snake" and "The Jewelry Purse." On both evenings, the house was packed; about a quarter of the audience came to both evenings. The atmosphere of excitement about The Jewelry Purse on the second evening was fueled in part by the audience delight with the first evening. [more]

Voodoo, A Harlem Renaissance Opera

July 5, 2015

Neglected, ignored and then forgotten, Harry Lawrence Freeman's opera "Voodoo" was brought back to the stage in a compelling production in June, 2015. The opera was last seen at what turned out to be its only production in 1928. Now, more than three-quarters of a century later, it has been brought back to life by Morningside Opera, Harlem Opera Theater, The Harlem Chamber Players and scores of named and unnamed supporters and fund-raisers in the Harlem music community. [more]

Choralfest USA 2015

June 27, 2015

Over a period of six hours, on an early summer afternoon and evening at Symphony Space, twelve choruses gave “mini-concerts” of 15 – 25 minutes, following one another with little break except an emcee's brief, efficient and entirely cheerful introduction of the next choir. Each group of singers performed pieces that, in one way or another, represented that particular group's identity. Some groups, by their very nature, commit themselves to just one kind of music – music for men, or for women; Jewish music; inspirational songs; contemporary composers' works – though a closely circumscribed repertoire rarely limits the breadth and richness from which choral directors can choose works to perform. Part of Choralfest USA's purpose, in fact, is to celebrate this richness. [more]

Chelsea Opera: Tosca

June 15, 2015

St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Chelsea was used to near perfect effect as the setting for all three acts of the opera. "Tosca"'s first act, which does, in fact take place in a church was, precisely because of the narrative, “easy” to stage, but the successful transformation of the St. Peter's Chelsea chancel into first, the emotional claustrophobia of the villainous chief of police's quarters and then, for the last act, the open air witness to revenge and tragedy resulted from the imaginative, effective stage direction and set management of Chelsea Opera's co-founders Leonarda Priore and Lynne Hayden-Findlay. [more]

Ensemble for the Romantic Century: “The Sorrows of Young Werther”

June 15, 2015

Now in its fourteenth year, the remarkable Ensemble for the Romantic Century, founded by Eve Wolf, has been presenting musical programs of intellectual coherence and imagination, examining themes and subjects central to the development and character of the “long” nineteenth century, from the Enlightenment to the end of the Victorian Era. ERC's most recent production, The Sorrows of Young Werther, represents the best of this kind of production. Rich and subtle interdisciplinary critical and creative thinking informed the careful merging of a dramatic presentation of Goethe's novella, The Sorrows of Young Werther with Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe. The result was an evening of considerable artistic beauty and intellectual rewards. [more]

The Collegiate Chorale: The Road of Promise

May 30, 2015

On May 6 and May 7, 2015 at Carnegie Hall, presenting a concert version of Franz Werfel and Kurt Weill's 1937 The Road of Promise, (Der Weg der Verheissung), The Collegiate Chorale conducted and directed by Ted Sperling undertook a near-daring project … and failed. The performance was uneven at best. The work was more interesting for its problems than its ultimate beauty or success. [more]

Parthenia: The Art of Persuasion, An Afternoon and Evening of Rhetoric, Music and Poetry

May 13, 2015

In both concerts, eight artists played and performed together in the sort of flexible, happy collaboration which is possible only among colleagues of equal discipline, excellence and experience on the one hand and extended, mutually respectful friendship on the other. The Parthenia quartet members – Rosamund Morley/treble viol, Lawrence Lipnik/tenor viol, Beverly Au/bass viol and Lisa Terry/bass viol – were joined by theorbist Richard Stone, soprano Amy Burton, actor Paul Hecht and conductor Gary Thor Wedow. [more]

American Classical Orchestra: Caldara, Handel, Torelli, and Allegri

May 8, 2015

The program consisted of three fairly short works, an intermission, and then the complete, relatively unknown Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo by Venetian Baroque master Antonio Caldara (1670-1736). The Church of St. Mary the Virgin provided an especially marvelous venue for this concert: the organic warmth of the American Classical Orchestra's period instruments and the singers' felicitous precision were exceptionally clear and clean in the high, mysteriously golden American Gothic space of The Church of St. Mary the Virgin in the Times Square area. The concert suffered only one difficulty: it was too long. Some people left starting around the middle of the second half; fortunately, their furtive, tip-toed departure did not disrupt the concentration of the musicians or compromise the performance. [more]

Anna Clyne: Composer Portraits at the Miller Theatre

May 5, 2015

Clyne's music is a combination of electronic and recorded material on the one hand and live performance on the other. In both process and product, Clyne incorporates and is inspired by other creative media; her works can “stand alone” or in conjunction with their original collaborators. Two works originally conceived in collaboration were performed on April 23 “on their own.” Fits + Starts for amplified cello and tape (2003) was performed without dancers; Rapture for clarinet and tape (2005) was presented without the visual components that accompanied its original performances. [more]

Nordic Fiddlers Bloc

April 27, 2015

The Nordic Fiddlers Bloc consists of Olav Luksengard Mjelva from Norway (hardanger and octave fiddles), Kevin Henderson from Shetland (fiddle) and Anders Hall from Sweden (fiddle and viola); the three met informally through mutual friends and colleagues and have been playing together seriously for some five years. Each artist has an extensive and stellar career apart from and in addition to Nordic Fiddlers Bloc. They live their professional lives in overlapping spheres of teaching and composing as well as collaborating, recording and performing with other artists and groups. As the competently English speaking Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, they have developed a congenial performance style that alternates humorously self-deprecating but helpfully informative banter with individual “tunes.” The evening had the feel of both formal concert and calmly funky gig. [more]

Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan: An Evening of Indian Music

April 23, 2015

Shahid Parvez Khan comes from a long line – seven generations – of musicians and sitar masters. This fact is emphasized in both the musician's own and the World Music Institute publicity materials. Shahid Parvez Khan's ancestry is critically important for those who are well versed in both historical and contemporary Indian culture and music, but for those who know little about Indian music, it figures only as an interesting biographical fact. What is much more relevant to the listening experience is Shahid Parvez Khan's assertion that “the Sitar and Self are identical entities,” a statement confirmed by the experience of simultaneously watching and listening to the sitar player as well as his colleagues. [more]

New York Choral Society and The Mannes Orchestra: For Those We’ve Loved 

April 16, 2015

The Hindemith was beautifully performed and the second half of the concert was successful. But the first half, the Adams, was not a success. It was not an abject failure – Hayes wouldn't permit that – but the performance did not produce the kind of considered satisfaction that New York Choral Society concerts typically do. The reasons for this lay in the nature of Adams' piece and in particular features of the performance itself. [more]

Handel and Haydn Society Bicentennial in Boston: A Distinguished Past Inspires a Bold Future

April 14, 2015

The Handel and Haydn Society – sometimes called the H + H Society, for contemporaneity's sake – is celebrating its Bicentennial with a number of special short-term and long-term events and programs. One of these, most recently, was the sponsorship of a Music Critics Association of North America Institute, a two-day long immersion for eleven MCANA members in the current life of the H + H Society. The informative, intelligent and extremely well-organized Institute was conceived primarily by Marie-Helene Bernard, H + H's Executive Director since 2007, and administered with graceful, quietly effective attention to detail by Matthew Erikson, H + H's Public Relations and Communications Manager. The MCANA Institute provided opportunities for learning and robust exchanges of insights and ideas; it was an affirmation of the H + H Society's place in the contemporary world of classical music. Though the purposes of the MCANA Institute were primarily musical, it also provided access to information about the Society's positive, effective engagement in the cultural life of Boston as a whole. [more]

Handel and Haydn Society: Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion”

April 7, 2015

As part of their splendid yearlong Bicentennial Celebrations, the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston have been presenting major choral works that have figured prominently in the Society's long distinguished history. In March 2015, in the very depths of Lent, the featured work was Bach's extraordinary "St. Matthew Passion." Any successful performance of this monumental work demands elegant artistic discipline and a coherent intellectual and creative vision; the Handel + Haydn Society's Artistic Director and Conductor, Harry Christophers, the Handel + Haydn Society Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus, the six wonderful soloists, and the Vocal Arts Program Young Women's Chamber Choir and Young Men's Chorus all effectively brought the necessary rigorous musicianship and artistic clarity to this performance. The result was indeed wonderful. [more]

Parthenia Viol Consort: Harp & Viols – Early Works, Plus a World Premiere by Eleonor Sandresky

March 31, 2015

Eleonor Sandresky is not the first composer to be attracted to Parthenia's affinity for collaboration with contemporary music-writers. Her new piece, “John Donne Songs Without Words,” was written for and with Parthenia and Patton, as Sandresky herself explained in her brief introduction of the piece to the March 22 audience. Sandresky builds on these musicians' ability to make their instruments accomplish everything that Baroque composers expected them to as well as much that their seventeenth century sensibilities would never have imagined. Sandresky assumes, as well, these musicians' wide-ranging intellectual literacy, their willing ability to stretch their performance skills and purposes, and their exceptionally good-willed, down-to-earth lack of pretense. [more]

American Classical Orchestra: “As the Masters Heard It, Music by Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert”

March 22, 2015

The pieces chosen by Crawford for this concert represented the very best of the Viennese Classical period: each piece in the evening's repertoire was a unique marriage of deep drama and expansive beauty. On this evening, the particular mission of the American Classical Orchestra – to play European masterpieces of orchestral music on period instruments – was brilliantly clear in both purpose and effect. Designed to enable audiences to hear what composers, their musicians and their audiences actually heard two or three centuries ago, this orchestra transported contemporary audiences back in time, revealing what the edginess and innovation of the past first sounded like. [more]

Composer Portraits: Augusta Read Thomas, with JACK Quartet and Third Coast Percussion

March 15, 2015

Recently, as part of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University's Composer Portrait series, Augusta Read Thomas was briefly interviewed between performances of recent and new works for string quartet and percussion. The first half of the program featured the world premiere of Capricci for violin and viola (2014) and of Selene for percussion quartet and string quartet (2015) as well as “Invocations” from Sun Threads for string quartet (1999). The second half of the program began with an informal interview between Thomas and percussionist David Skidmore and then concluded with the New York premiere of Resounding Earth. [more]

Stile Antico: “From the Imperial Court”

March 12, 2015

Stile Antico's February 28 concert, part of the Miller Theatre at Columbia University's Early Music series, at the Times Square Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, was marvelous. Stile Antico sang thrillingly; their choice of repertoire – sixteenth century Renaissance a cappella music associated with the Hapsburg imperial court … the core content of the 2014 CD – was artistically exciting and intellectually rewarding. [more]

JACK Quartet: Georg Friedrich Haas’ Quartet No. 8, U.S. premiere

March 9, 2015

The structure of the early evening concert was simple, sensible, intimate … and exhilarating. The JACK Quartet was seated on the stage, as were several rows of spectators; more spectators were in the auditorium proper. The concert consisted of three parts: first came the world premiere of the new twenty-minute quartet, then an informal discussion by the composer, then the second performance of the new quartet. What a treat, to hear a new work … twice! [more]

The New York Virtuoso Singers: “The Many Faces of Love”

February 22, 2015

Leading The New York Virtuoso Singers with characteristic wit, panache and artistic integrity, Harold Rosenbaum presented an a cappella evening of a songs about love – from its first beginnings to its very end, with every bit of flirtation, fun, fornication, fancy and foolishness in-between – at Merkin Concert Hall, bringing considerable warmth to a happy audience on a cold, cold February night. [more]

Voices of Ascension: Fauré Requiem and Music from the Russian Orthodox Tradition

February 20, 2015

The second half of the concert consisted of Fauré's Requiem. This familiar, deeply loved work – an examination of requiem themes that is more about interior considerations of mortality than about cosmic confrontations with hell or pleas for salvation – depends for its success on clear, clean musicianship. The shimmery delicacy and complex harmonic richness of Fauré's music were brilliantly served on this evening by the Voices of Ascension … as they always have been: the Fauré Requiem has been a signature piece of this chorus since its creation twenty-five years ago. In this performance, soprano Sarah Shafer and bass-baritone Evan Hughes both brought a deeply personal sense of prayer to their singing. Shafer's “Pie Jesu” was intimate without being sentimental, and ethereally beautiful. Hughes sang with unrestrained and eloquent passion. [more]

Yungchen Lhamo

February 9, 2015

Though Lhamo has absorbed all sorts of Western musical idioms and made them her own, her voice is distinct in its range of octaves and volumes and in its gorgeous ability to make both human and nature sounds that Western singers wouldn't permit themselves to attempt. Lhamo's musical origins are identifiably Tibetan, but the accumulation of her human and artistic experience has made of both her voice and her intentions something entirely her own. [more]

New York Choral Society and Orchestra: Felix Mendelssohn’s “St. Paul” 

February 3, 2015

Led by David Hayes, Music Director, the New York Choral Society and Orchestra, together with first rate soloists and the Princeton Girlchoir, presented a magnificent performance of Felix Mendelssohn's magisterial 1836 oratorio "St. Paul" on January 25, 2015 in Carnegie Hall. Mendelssohn's oratorio is a huge work; on this afternoon, the work's sweeping monumentality was fully realized without any loss of musical subtlety, nuance or detail. From beginning to end, chorus and orchestra alike presented the music they cleared loved with unflagging energy and endlessly renewed, fresh passion. [more]

The Cecilia Chorus of New York: Poulenc’s “Gloria” & Vaughan Williams’ “Hodie, A Christmas Cantata”

December 22, 2014

Singing to a happily packed Carnegie Hall, the Cecilia Chorus of New York, led by music director and conductor Mark Shapiro, presented two masterpieces of mid-twentieth century choral music. Francis Poulenc's "Gloria" (1960), though not written explicitly for the Christmas season, is a perfect celebration of it. Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Hodie, A Christmas Cantata" (1954), in contrast, is an anthology-style oratorio about Christmas itself, the very day of Jesus' birth. Different in style and national origin, the two works nonetheless complement each other, presenting Christmas joy from a variety of perspectives. [more]

Reflections on New York Festival of Song’s “Harlem Renaissance” Concert: Ferguson, Staten Island and What the Songs Teach

December 19, 2014

The enduring power of the Harlem Renaissance songs comes from their truth telling and historical testimony. Their accessibility and quality of invitation, their universality of human experiences of love, family, hope and loss, and their indomitability all make us adore these songs, and forget that they were initially the products of a devalued and segregated community. [more]

New York Festival of Song: “Harlem Renaissance”

December 18, 2014

The Merkin Concert Hall of the Kaufman Music Center was packed on a recent cold December evening; the audience, happily anticipating two hours of fabulous music, was not disappointed. Five musicians – pianists Steven Blier and Michael Barrett, soprano Julia Bullock, tenor Darius de Haas and baritone James Martin – presented 24 carefully chosen pieces of music from the Harlem Renaissance in a concert of marvelous music-making. The singers inhabited their songs so completely that their singing was not about interpretation, but identity. The pianists were equal partners in the music, not mere accompanists. The audience applause, together with their Ohhs and Ahhs and slowly expelled breaths of marveling gratitude, created an atmosphere of receptivity that greeted and thanked the musicians before and after every song. [more]

American Classical Orchestra and Chorus: Mass in B Minor

November 22, 2014

One of the strengths of this performance was in fact the clarity with which the many elements of Bach's music could be heard: without any compromise to tempo and without favoring any theme, instrument or voice over any other, Bach's music was unpacked. Because of the period instruments – and the skill of the musicians – even the most densely monumental passages, including the final movements, were powerful not because they were monolithic but because they were revelatory. Subtleties were not lost but illuminated. [more]

Chelsea Opera: The Face on the Barroom Floor & Emperor Norton

November 15, 2014

Since its composition and premiere in 1978, "The Face on the Barroom Floor" has been a familiar piece in the repertoire of small American and European opera companies for good reason: it is an accessible, well-conceived and lovely work. "Emperor Norton," written just four years later, is even stronger than The Face: it is more substantive musically, artistically and intellectually. This performance was "Emperor Norton"'s New York premiere. [more]

Sichuan Opera Theater of Chengdu: Raging Waves in the Sea of Desire

November 1, 2014

Acclaimed playwright Xiu Fen – one of China's most influential contemporary women writers – takes Eugene O'Neill's setting and opening plot elements, transforming Puritan New England into a small Chinese village, and focuses on the cruel, miserly old man, his new, very young and beautiful wife, and the young son who enters into an adulterous affair with his father's bride. O'Neill himself, writing stunningly innovative plays in the early twentieth century, looked to ancient Greek tragedies for his inspiration and to tragedy's archetypal figures. [more]
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