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Articles by Jean Ballard Terepka

Jean Ballard Terepka
About Jean Ballard Terepka (124 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.

Composer Portraits: Alex Mincek with Yarn/Wire and Mivos Quartet

March 14, 2016

In the compositions of New York composer Alex Mincek (b. 1975), music is explored by means of separating out its constitutive elements: as indicated in Miller Theatre program notes for his Composer Portrait concert, Mincek examines “sound worlds,” music states and the “sense of interconnectivity that reveals underlying qualities of coherence and unity.” These principles were on full display as two stellar contemporary groups, Yarn/Wire and Mivos Quartet, presented four recent Mincek works, including two world premieres. [more]

American Classical Orchestra: “L’Isola Disabitata”

March 3, 2016

The most psychologically complex role is Silvia's. Over the course of the opera, she moves from childlike naïveté to loving generosity of heart. Energetic and intelligent, she unlearns her sister's morbid lessons about men's wickedness so completely that as a newly emerged adult, she falls in love without reservation or fear. Sherezade Panthaki's Silvia was marvelous: the full evolution of her character was reflected in singing that moved from light sweetness to exuberant, vigorous sensuality. In her artistry, Panthaki made her Silvia a young woman with neither inhibition nor fear; Panthaki took every possible risk with Haydn's music and made it all feel like happiness in the process of being discovered. [more]

The Carnival of the Animals, featuring the poetry of Ogden Nash

December 29, 2015

The gifted puppeteer-dancers – Kristen Kammermeyer, Brendan McMahon, Justin Perkins, Rachael Shane – were barefoot and dressed in black; they moved with graceful economy of movement and made themselves into a fantastic combination of invisibility and magisterial artistry. They manipulated more than two dozen every-day-object puppets in gorgeous worlds of sky for birds, water for fish, field and forest for all sorts of creatures large and small. All these animals – made of sticks, brooms, mops, feather-dusters, cardboard-cut-outs, fabric scraps, familiar bits of this-and-that, and unexpected parts of who-knows-what – were right there in front of us. They leapt and loped, swooped and soared; they teased and pleased, tested, tormented and befriended each other and the narrator; they made each person in the audience – old and young, big and little – feel individually included in the menagerie's movements. [more]

Rudresh Mahanthappa: “Bird Calls”

December 22, 2015

Mahanthappa's elegant and exciting compositional voice is well established. His jazz combines the full development of the genre since its inception with the idiom of South Indian classical music which is his personal inheritance. Mahanthappa – among other jazz artists featured in recent years in the Jazz at Miller Theatre series, such as Anat Cohen and Miguel Zenon – has already contributed to an expanded vision of jazz as an American art form that can incorporate global influences; Mahanthappa has indeed been both exemplar and participant in the necessary and welcome twenty-first century examination of the fluid meanings of “American” and “global.” [more]

Matthew Welch Music: Three Residency Concerts

December 18, 2015

At the 10:00 show on Wednesday, December 9, Welch played bagpipes with Brendon Randall-Myers on electric guitar and Brian Chase on drums and electronics performing "The Library of Babel," a 35 minute piece Welch composed in 1999. In a subsequent post-concert conversation, Welch indicated that the work of Jorge Luis Borges had been a foundational inspiration in his composing early in his career. This piece, titled to pay homage to Borges' astonishing 1941 story of the same name, is an immediately recognizable child of Borges. It is also, however, strong enough to stand on its own, meaningful and effective, even for listeners unfamiliar with the works of the Argentinian writer. [more]

The Tallis Scholars: “Christmas Across Centuries”

December 14, 2015

The program itself was a masterpiece of artistic and theological integrity. Pieces by three composers – contemporary Estonian Arvo Part (b.1935), and Renaissance Englishmen John Sheppard (c.1515-1558) and Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585) – carried the full chronological account of the earthly life of the Word made Flesh, from conception in the Virgin's womb to emergence as the salvation-bearing Lamb of God. The order of the program essentially replicated the Nicene Creed, each piece providing an illumination of a particular narrative or liturgical moment. [more]

Chelsea Opera: Glory Denied

November 21, 2015

Launching its twelfth season with a revival of its 2010 production of Tom Cipullo's widely acclaimed "Glory Denied," Chelsea Opera made clear once again the reasons for which it has become and continues to be a leader among small regional opera companies here in the Northeast: presenting a varied and ambitious repertoire, it maintains consistently high standards of both music and theatrical direction. Both the fine complex score of "Glory Denied" and the first rate musicianship of the singers and instrumentalists who performed it were enhanced by the staging and direction of the company's co-founder and co-executive producer Lynne Hayden-Findlay. [more]

The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys with Orchestra of St. Luke’s: Mozart’s Requiem & Haydn’s Missa in Angustiis

November 18, 2015

Nethsingha's reading of Mozart's Requiem was richly nuanced and widely expressive, and the success of his reading was established within the first three movements. The opening Requiem was graceful, nearly pensive: the treble voices were sweet and pure, and soprano Katharine Dain's brief opening solo was at once eloquent and ethereal. The swift Kyrie, with its tight runs, quarter and sixteenth notes, was a completely clear, crisp introit, an urgent summons of the clergy to their sacraments. The ensuing Dies Irae – one particularly pure exemplar of Mozart's genius – made beauty and terror inseparable. [more]

Modern Art Orchestra

November 18, 2015

Founded in 2005 and led by Kornel Fekete-Kovacs, trumpeter and composer, the Budapest-based Modern Art Orchestra is a marvel. Its twenty musicians – five in the rhythm section (piano, percussion, guitar, double bass) and fifteen on horns of all sorts (saxophones, trombones, tuba, French horn, trumpets and flugelhorn) – form a tight, cohesive group, sharing features of big band brash and a chamber group's intimate connectedness. Many of the musicians played more than one instrument, even within the span of a single piece; in a few pieces, individual musicians had extended solos. At any given moment, if one or more players weren't playing, they were watching their colleagues with delight, bobbing the rhythms with their heads and tapping out the complicated syncopations with their feet. [more]

Experiments in Opera:  “The Travel Agency Is On Fire: Burroughs Cuts Up the Great Bards”

October 26, 2015

The evening consisted of two sets; the first six pieces lasted from 8:00 to 9:05 PM, were then followed by a between-set break of almost an hour for last-minute rehearsals and sound checks, and the concluding five pieces lasted from 10:00 to 11:15 PM. Before each piece was performed, a pre-recorded introduction was provided. These were fairly conversational in tone; some contained useful contextual information about the piece while others were more wandering; unfortunately, these recorded introductions were often difficult to understand. [more]

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]
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