Before we look ahead to the next decade, the Ether Game Brain Trust is going to look back on the year that was for a show we're calling "Year In Review."
Turn back the clock with us as we explore some of the big musical events from the last calendar year:
- Raymond Leppard passes away in October at age 92 – The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is often hailed as one of the most renowned American orchestras, thanks in part to its fifth music director, Reymond Leppard, who passed away in October at the age of 92. Leppard was responsible for several of the ISO’s key accomplishments, growing the institution to international acclaim and the largest arts organization in Indiana when he became director in 1987. He also revitalized the orchestra’s relationship with public radio. Under Leppard, the ISO began providing nationally syndicated concerts for broadcast, as well as appearing regularly on American Public Media’s Performance Today with Fred Child. Leppard was a native Londoner, but he made Indianapolis his permanent residence when he stepped up to the ISO podium and lived in the city for over thirty years. He was the first conductor to stage operas by Monteverdi in the United States and was knighted in both Britain and Italy for his many contributions to classical music. We just listened to his recording of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake with the ISO from the Koss Classics recording series. Leppard began working with Koss to record the ISO in 1992, five years after becoming the full-time conductor for the orchestra. He would go on to conduct seven more recordings with the ISO, and completed his tenure in 2001.
- Plácido Domingo faces sexual harassment allegations – If we’re looking back on big stories that rocked the musical world this year—unfortunately—we have to talk about Plácido Domingo. This year, the famed Spanish opera star, once a member of the Three Tenors, was accused of sexual harassment by several women describing incidents that spanned decades. Many people in the opera world described Domingo’s behavior as an “open secret,” similar to the accusations that surrounded James Levine and Charles Dutoit. Domingo was set to star in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of the piece we just heard, Verdi’s Macbeth, but amid the accusations, the opera company cut ties with him just before the premiere in September. The scandal also caused Domingo to resign from the Los Angeles Opera, where he was the general director. However, not all in the opera world have shunned Plácido Domingo. Many opera singers have come to his defense, and just this month, he was even greeted with a standing ovation at the opera house La Scala. Despite all of the accusations, Plácido Domingo, like the operatic character Don Giovanni, refused to repent.
- John Williams has one last hurrah with The Rise of Skywalker – John Williams’ score for George Lucas’s Star Wars in 1977 helped put symphonic film scores back into the public mind after they had been virtually replaced by pop music soundtracks in the sixties. Since then, symphonic music has become synonymous with films that portray epic and fantastical events, and Williams’ work has been dubbed the most influential movie scoring in history. Last week, a milestone was achieved for Williams as the final film of nine Star Wars movies featuring his music was premiered. Over the course of 40 years, Williams has written over 20 hours worth of music for the Star Wars franchise and has stated that this last film, titled The Rise of Skywalker, will feature musical nods to every memorable theme from the previous movies. Just as The Rise of Skywalker is expected to close the book on the beloved characters from the original trilogy, Episode IX will also be Williams’ last Star-Wars related project. At 87 years old, he intends to retire from film composing in 2020 but will continue conducting performances of his vastly popular works.
- Angels Hewitt wins the Bach Medal – Since 2003, the city of Leipzig has presented a prestigious porcelain medal during its annual Bach Festival to a musician in recognition of that performer’s efforts to promote the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Over the past two decades, conductors and instrumentalists that have been heard numerous times on the airwaves at WFIU have received the medal: John Elliot Gardiner, Helmut Rilling, and Nikolaus Harnencourt to name a few. But in November of 2019, it was announced that Angela Hewitt will receive the Bach medal. She will be the first woman to receive it. Though Hewitt wrote on her website that the award came as a complete surprise, the recognition is completely deserved. Since 1994, she has recorded every major keyboard work by J.S. Bach, concluding in 2018 with his Six Partitas for Harpsichord. Hewitt will formally receive the medal at the next festival in 2020, but when her award was made public in November, she said of J.S. Bach, quote, “ well, I guess there’s no other person with whom I have spent so much of my life, and yet every minute has been worth it!”
- André Previn passes away at