Mary Beth Crain

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Transfigured LACMA

How many musicians win four gold medals in a lifetime — let alone in a single year? Here's one: Petronel Malan. In 2000, the young South African keyboard wizard walked away with first prizes at the Louise McMahon International Music Competition, the Missouri Southern International Piano Competition, the Hilton Head......
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Now Recording

Once upon a time, before computers and synthesizers became portable, tape music concerts were the only way composers who were writing music on computers and electronic instruments could get their works out to the public. As the audience sat facing a pair of speakers, a tape recorder played the compositions......
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It's His Thing

When I was growing up, one of my favorite items in my dad's collection of 2,000-plus classical albums was the 1965 Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos recording of Carmina Burana. And apparently I wasn't alone. The legendary Spanish conductor's version of Carl Orff's 1936 oratorio, or "scenic cantata," as the composer......
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The White Bird of Poston

When it comes to kids and opera, no one does it better than L.A. Opera. Every summer, they open their intensive two-week program Opera Camp to 50 area youngsters ages 9 to 17, who train to become singers. Are they successful? Well, the proof lies in the pudding, or rather,......
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On a Hopeful Note

What happens when 25 Oscar-, Tony-, Grammy- and Emmy-winning composers pool their talents to create a single work? A Symphony of Hope. This ambitious musical fundraising project was orchestrated — pun intended — to help people in Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. A beautiful, almost mystical orchestral......
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Gilles Apap

There are violinists, and then there's Gilles Apap. "He seems incapable of playing a single note in a way that isn't fascinating," raved American Record Guide. The legendary Yehudi Menuhin called Apap "a true violinist for the 21st century," the reason being that not only can he play anything on......
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Human Demolition Derby

In Philip Roth's novel The Human Stain, pianist Yefim Bronfman is featured as a performer at Tanglewood, where he makes an indelible impression on the narrator. "Bronfman the brontosaur! He is a force of nature camouflaged in a sweatshirt -- the circus strongman -- Yefim Bronfman looks less like the......
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Alaev in the Family

You could call them the Waltons of the music world. Or maybe Israel's version of the Von Trapps. They're the Alaev Family, and from Grandpa on down, they all perform the music of Central Asia, Turkey, Persia, Russia and Israel on the ancient instruments of these countries. There's 80-year-old patriarch......
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First-Rate Ravel

There are few concerti as multifaceted and downright exciting as Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major. The first movement is a continual surprise, introduced by a bouncy piccolo solo, gathering speed with the addition of trumpet and snares, the jaunty syncopation suddenly and abruptly melting into a dreamy harp-and-piano interlude......
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Homeland Insecurity

Music has gotten award-winning Syrian pianist and composer Malek Jandali into boiling hot water with the Syrian dictatorship. Last July, when Jandali — a U.S. citizen — performed one of his most popular works, Watani Ana (I Am My Homeland), at a rally in Washington, D.C., in support of the......