This March may find us in a similar state as the last one — socially distanced, together but alone, virtually wandering among the blossoms — but it does feel comparably more charged with hope. (Remember? The thing with feathers? That perches in the soul? And sings the tune without the words? And never stops at all?)
In that spirit, and in hopes of a thaw that extends to every frozen end of our culture, here’s a spring bunch of streams to get you through to warmer weather.
Washington Performing Arts
Washington Performing Arts forges forth with two compelling new programs in its strong and steady Home Delivery Plus series. On Friday, Steven Banks — a saxophonist and evangelist for the horn’s deserved place in the pit — is joined by pianist Xak Bjerken and Zorá Quartet for a concert recorded Feb. 25 at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City, featuring Mozart’s Oboe Quartet in F, K.370/368b, Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 73, new works by Banks and premieres of works by Carlos Simon and Saad Haddad (co-commissioned by co-presenter Young Concert Artists). That stream is free and will be available until March 11.
And on March 26, mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges will perform “Rising, Together,” a program being taped at Sixth & I, including works by Simon, Richard Danielpour, Margaret Bonds, Xavier Montsalvatge, Florence Price and a piece composed for Bridges by Shawn Okpebholo. That stream is ticketed ($20) and available through April 1. washingtonperformingarts.org.
For the Love of Opera: Celebrating RBG’s 88th Birthday
Would that Supreme Court justice and lifelong opera lover Ruth Bader Ginsburg were still with us, we’d be celebrating her 88th birthday this month. Ginsburg (who punctuated her tenure on the bench with cameos on the stages of the Kennedy Center) died in September, but the sweep of the news left barely a moment to mourn.
On March 15 at 8 p.m., Opera Philadelphia (in partnership with the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience at the University of California at Los Angeles’s Herb Alpert School of Music) will present “For the Love of Opera: Celebrating RBG’s 88th Birthday,” a streaming (and on-demand) celebration of Ginsburg’s favorite music. Tenor Joshua Blue, baritone Norman Garrett, sopranos Michelle Rice and Ashley Marie Robillard will perform arias by Verdi, Mozart, Puccini, Donizetti and more, accompanied by pianists Stephen Karr and Grant Loehnig. The program will also feature UCLA Director of Opera Peter Kazaras, WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello and tenor Lawrence Brownlee — who shared the stage with Ginsburg in WNO’s 2016 production of Donizetti’s “La Fille du Régiment.” nmajh.org.
National Symphony Orchestra
And as our minds hover around the Kennedy Center, if you listen closely, you can hear the sweet sound of maestro Gianandrea Noseda having at long last reunited with members of the National Symphony Orchestra — and it feels so good. Rehearsals and tapings are underway for a four-program series of streaming concerts to be released starting this month.
The first of these programs, scheduled for a March 19 release — and available free via Facebook or the Kennedy Center’s homepage and Digital Stage Plus platform — bookends Sibelius’s “Valse triste” with symphonies by Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, (his First) and Mozart (his 40th). Forthcoming programs in the series — featuring works by Jessie Montgomery, William Grant Still, Igor Stravinsky (“Dumbarton Oaks”), Ottorino Respighi and more — will premiere as Digital Stage Plus releases on dates to be announced. kennedy-center.org/nso/home.
Caramoor’s rows may still be empty but the Music Room at its Rosen House in Katonah, N.Y., continues to host exciting programs well worth clicking into, and just announced its spring season of live-streaming concerts ($15-$45), including Thalea String Quartet (April 11), Callisto Quartet (May 2) and Junction Trio (May 23).
The series kicks off March 21 with the pairing of bass-baritone Dashon Burton (an original member of the Grammy-winning Roomful of Teeth) and pianist David Fung. They’ll play Schumann’s complete “Dichterliebe” as well as works by Price, Bonds, John Dowland, Charles Brown, Ernest Charles, William Bolcom and a set of spirituals. An interactive Q&A with Fung and Burton will follow the program. caramoor.org.
Houston Symphony Orchestra
Spring can’t come a moment too soon for Houston, but a bright spot through the darkness of the pandemic and the devastation left by winter storms has been the stubbornly productive Houston Symphony Orchestra, which under CEO John Mangum and Music Director Andrés Orozco-Estrada has kept live performances going with a strong series of weekly concerts for small, socially distanced audiences at Jones Hall, each of which is available as part of a live stream subscription program that’s already reached over 45,000 viewers. (Individual live stream tickets are $20; series passes are also available.)
On March 5, 6 and 7, Fabien Gabel leads the orchestra into spring with Stella Sung’s Fanfare for brass ensemble, Beethoven’s “Pastoral” symphony (No. 6), and his third piano concerto in the hands of the dazzling Yefim Bronfman. On March 12, 13 and 14, clarinetist Mark Nuccio takes on Copland’s (Benny Goodman-commissioned) Clarinet Concerto on a program featuring Beethoven’s Second Symphony and works by Symphony of the New World co-founder Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson.
And on March 26, 27 and 28, composer and San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen makes his HSO debut leading concertmaster Yoonshin Song in Bach’s Prelude from Violin Partita No. 3, as well as his own “FOG” (a fantasy around that Prelude) and Beethoven’s First Symphony. houstonsymphony.org.
Correction: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect list of composers whose works will be featured in J’Nai Bridges’s upcoming program with Washington Performing Arts. This version has been updated.