Listen: Life With Music & Culture Releases Its Winter 2014 Issue

Isabel Leonard, Kristine Opolais, Andris Nelsons, Choir Competition in Riga, Opera in China, Kung Fu in Vienna and a return to Twin Peaks

The winter 2014 issue of Listen: Life with Music & Culture offers a cold-weather cocktail equal parts down-home comfort and exotic escapism with a twist of history.

On the cover is rising Metropolitan Opera star Isabel Leonard who talks with Listen Editor-in-Chief Ben Finane about raising the bar on acting in the opera world, finding a way in to contemporary music, Frozen vs. La bohème, and her love of Mozart recitative.

In a candid conversation with Robert Levine, her fellow singer Kristine Opolais disagrees on that final point, admitting that she has "no passion" for Mozart (although she does love Tina Turner). This unpretentious egalitarianism and discerning musicality is also a major component of her husband Andris Nelsons’ new role as music director of the Boston Symphony, according to Rebecca Schmid’s profile of the maestro. Nelsons and Opolais are the international ambassadors of their home country of Latvia, a country that, according to Marcia Adair’s report from the 2014 World Choir Games in Riga, is in the midst of a musical and cultural renaissance.

Across the world, Western classical music is taking China by storm. Ken Smith stops short of calling the influx of Western operas a "boom" but there’s no denying that the 50 new opera houses and performing arts centers across the country demand programming that goes beyond Turandot. Shanghai’s new hall has been cheerfully nicknamed "the wonton wrapper," and Ben Finane reports on a recent visit by New York Philharmonic principal players to the city to share secrets of good ensemble playing with young Chinese. Meanwhile at Vienna’s Shaolin Kung Fu Center, Jens F. Laurson survived to tell about a mind-opening practice session with pianist Andreas Haefliger.

Back stateside, Thomas May reports on a new opera company that has miraculously sprouted in San Antonio and that has, of all things, a composer as its artistic director, and Amanda MacBlane talks to 32-year-old conductor Ward Stare about becoming music director of his hometown orchestra in Rochester, New York. Mark Mobley asks why the return of the cult American television series Twin Peaks should "matter to any non-nerd" and looks for an answer in the show’s intrinsically musical DNA.

Plus: A survey of high design in music hall construction covering England, Spain, South Korea, Azerbaijan, China and Norway delivers enticing eye candy à la Dwell; Ben Finane visits with Kent Nagano in Montréal; Violinist Arnold Steinhardt wrestles with his conscience over taking his therapeutic annual break from practicing; Atlanta-native Mark Mobley reminisces of Robert Shaw’s legendary tenure at the helm of the now dishearteningly beleaguered Atlanta Symphony; Brian Wise traces violinist Stefan Jackiw’s atypical trajectory from Korean classical boy band to sought-after recitalist via Harvard; Jed Distler and Damian Fowler dig into monstrous new biographies of critic and composer Virgil Thomson and playwright Tennessee Williams, respectively; Up-and-coming pianist Christian Sands talks jazz with Ben Finane; and Jens F. Laurson pays tribute to Loren Maazel.

Our critics listen their way through 15 new recordings including Benjamin Grosvenor’s danceable sophomore release from Decca, soprano Joyce Di Donato’s enchanting new bel canto collection, early Schubert that "goes for the jugular" from the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, a surround sound edition of John Luther Adams’ Pulitzer-winning Become Ocean, and Anna Netrebko burning it up in Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arca.

Plus, much, much more in the winter 2014 issue of Listen: Life with Music & Culture.

About Listen Magazine
A multi-award-winning print quarterly hailed by Library Journal as one of the best new magazines of 2009, Listen Magazine is the voice of music and culture, delivering interviews with the world’s top musicians, feature articles, think pieces, festival coverage, insight into the masterworks and unsung works, as well as recommendations for the best in music on record, on screen, in print and online. No one covers the breadth and depth of music and culture with greater elegance and enthusiasm than Listen.

The magazine is available at Barnes & Noble and other fine bookstores throughout the US and Canada or by subscription to anywhere in the world.

About Steinway & Sons
Since its founding in New York in 1853, Steinway & Sons has been considered the world's premier piano manufacturer. Known for their exceptional craftsmanship, Steinway & Sons pianos are built in one of two company-owned and operated factories: Astoria, New York and Hamburg, Germany. Steinway & Sons pianos are still constructed primarily by hand, using many of the techniques developed over 160 years ago. Today, Steinway & Sons also offers the Boston and Essex piano lines, Listen, a magazine for music and culture lovers, and the Steinway & Sons record label. For more information, visit

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(718) 204–3116

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