Frankly, Sergei Sergeyevich. . .

In an article in the NY Times* this week, we learn about an intriguing revelation: an unknown version of Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet.” It includes among other things, a new ending, in which Romeo and Juliet don’t die.

This sparked a little conversation here in the classical department, which in turn sparked some Googling, which led to another intriguing revelation: Prokofiev considered writing an opera based on “Gone with the Wind.” Novel combination — but it has the ingredients of a terrific opera: vivid characters, big emotions, glamour, spectacle, etc. What might have been. . . .

Here’s wishing a happy and safe Thanksgiving to readers of Classical Notes!

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Beer Bottle Orchestra

The composer Richard Strauss loved making musical pictures, the more detailed the better. He once said: “I want to be able to depict in music a glass of beer so accurately that every listener can tell whether it is a Pilsner or a Kulmbacher.”

With that in mind, Herr Strauss, we give you an orchestra of beer bottles. The Melbourne Symphony, playing the jingle for Victoria Bitter, on “authentic instruments,” as it were:

And if you have a few extra minutes, watch how they did it:

Abbie Betinis on the Verge

Congrats to Twin Cities composer Abbie Betinis! Yesterday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune named her one of their “Young Artists on the Verge.”

Why? The paper says: “Composers’ careers don’t cleave to Hollywood’s “breakthrough” narrative. The only thing Betinis is poised for is hard work — lots of it. But her talent and tenacity, along with a self-critical bent, should take her far.”

We agree! Abbie has been a regular guest in the Minnesota Public Radio studios, especially around Christmas, when she comes every year to premiere her annual Christmas carol. Click here for last year’s session. And here’s a video of the performance.

One for the Rose's

Big kudos to the Rose Ensemble!

This Twin Cities early music group is touring Spain, giving concerts and singing in a choral competition last weekend in Tolosa.

The contest went very well indeed, according to director Jordan Sramek:

“We sang an extremely varied program of a Renaissance motet, two pieces of Slavic chant, a 19th-century German Kyrie, David Moore’s arrangement of I Been in the Storm (featuring our own Mark Dietrich as the bass soloist) and our commissioned gem, Sergey Khvoshchinskiy’s Bogoroditse Devo Raduysia. Mark really hit it out of the ball park (the audience was forbidden to applaud between pieces, but after we finished I Been in the Storm people started to applaud), but the defining moment was our final piece. I think we had never sung that piece with such feeling and sheer power. People stood and cheered when we were finished. I don’t remember much more; I think I was just so taken by the whole experience that I only recall walking into the foyer and having a crowd of people around me. Wow. So exhilarating.”

To find out how it all turned out, read the rest of Jordan’s post, which describes a scene that’d put any “reality show” to shame.

When they get back home to Minnesota, keep an ear out for Rose Ensemble Christmas concerts and broadcasts on Classical Minnesota Public Radio.