Music & Medicine

At the risk of getting the FDA involved, I wanted to point out a couple of recent articles about the health benefits of listening to music. Any kind of music, not just classical.

One study shows that listening to music can help stroke patients more quickly recover their memory and their ability to concentrate.

In another study, surgical patients who listened to music post-operatively spent less time in intensive care.

The doctor in the second study concludes, “The financial cost of utilizing music with ICU patients is relatively small compared to the potential economic benefits.” Maybe classical radio stations can get in on health care reform somehow…

Piano-e-Comp results are in

Results of the Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition were announced last night at Orchestra Hall by Alexander Braginsky, Co-Founder, Artistic Director and President of the organization. The results meant that winner Alessandro Taverna had the chance to play Chopin’s Piano Concerto #1 twice yesterday. First, at noon during the final round of the competition. Then one more time last night in the “victory round.” He appeared quite happy to be put in that position and even made time for a charming, jazzy encore by Friedrich Gulda.

First Prize: Alessandro Taverna, Italy

Second Prize: Pavel Yeletsky, Belarus

Third Prize: Helene Tysman, France

Fourth Prize, Eric Zuber, United States

Fifth Prize, Howard Na, United States

Sixth Prize, Grace Eun Hae Kim, South Korea

Pavel Yeletsky was also awarded the Schubert Prize for the best performance of a Schubert Sonata in round two of the competition.

Another Opera Mishap

From the accident-prone world of opera comes news that while singing Rossini’s Barber of Seville, mezzo-soprano Joyce Di Donato broke one of the bones in her leg — but carried on and completed the performance.

And if that suggests any plays on words. . . . well, they’ve been thought of already. Here’s her own account of that night, puns and all.

e-Competition's last day

Today at noon, the remaining finalists of the Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition will be on stage at Orchestra Hall to perform with the Minnesota Orchestra. The chance to play with a world-class ensemble is, no doubt, a wonderful opportunity. Still, there’s plenty of pressure. At 6:30 this evening, in an Awards Ceremony also on the Orchestra Hall stage, we’ll find out how the judges rated the six finalists. At 8, the 1st prize winner will play his or her concerto one more time with the Minnesota Orchestra.

The lineup for today’s noontime concert includes Italy’s Alessandro Taverna in Chopin’s Concerto #1; Howard Na of the United States plays the Concerto #2 by Saint-Saens; and Rachmaninoff Concerto #3 gets another read, this time by Pavel Yeletsky of Belarus.

For those of you who have been following the competition, I’m curious to know if you have a favorite (or two)?

Listen to my conversation with John Birge to learn more about finalists Howard Na and Pavel Yeletsky

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Is it live, or is it Memorex?

I may be showing my age by quoting that ad for a cassette tape, but it was the first thing that popped into my mind when I read a piece today about a man who sued for live music, and won.


I know, I know that’s the ad for Maxell, not Memorex…it was a good one, but I digress. The story takes place in Manchester, England with a father taking his kids to see “The Wizard of Oz.” The singers were live, but the orchestra was taped.

He felt he’d been misled into believing that all players would be live. While this fellow was the only one who filed suit, the judge in the case used the Trade Descriptions Act as precedent and ordered the theatre to refund the plaintiff’s money.

I wonder if the many ballet companies and other musical theatre companies in the United States moving towards taped performances will see similar backlash?

e-Competition Concerto Round

Tonight at 7:30, the final round of the Minnesota International Piano-e-Competition begins with the first three of our six finalists taking center stage. This time they’ll be at Orchestra Hall with the Minnesota Orchestra and conductor Mark Russell Smith. On tap are two concertos by Rachmaninoff and the Piano Concerto #2 by Chopin. The Rachmaninoff soloists, Eric Zuber and Grace Eun Hae Kim, are both students at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. Earlier this week, I asked them if that added to the tension at the e-Comp. They both said, “Absolutely not!” In fact, Eric said they’ve been inseparable and are a great support to one another. Helene Tysman is from Paris and she’ll play the Chopin tonight. Her face lit up when she told me how much she loves Chopin’s music. That was clear in the opening round when she wowed the audience with her performance of the complete Preludes, Op. 28. There’s little doubt in my mind that her concerto will be a highlight of the competition.

Listen to my conversation with John Birge to learn more about finalists Eric Zuber and Grace Eun Hae Kim

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