WNPR

Steve Metcalf

Contributor

Steve Metcalf.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

Steve Metcalf is an administrator, critic, journalist, arts consultant and composer. He writes the weekly Metcalf on Music blog for WNPR.org, and is the curator of the Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series at The Hartt School.

For more than 20 years, beginning in 1982, he was the staff music critic of The Hartford Courant. During that time, via The Los Angeles Times/Washington Post wire service, his feature stories, profiles, and reviews appeared regularly in more than 500 newspapers worldwide, earning a string of awards and prizes. His writings have also appeared in professional periodicals such as Symphony Magazine, Antaeus Review and Opus. In addition he served for several seasons as regular music commentator for NPR’s nationally-distributed program, “Performance Today.”

Prior to joining the Courant, Metcalf was the Assistant Dean of the Hartt School, University of Hartford, where he did his undergraduate and graduate work. The Hartt School honored him as Alumnus of the Year in 1989, and in 2004 elected him to its Board of Trustees. He recently returned to Hartt as Director of Instrumental Studies, and he founded the school’s Richard P. Garmany Chamber Music Series.

Metcalf has also been the music director for a number of regional theater companies, including the celebrated Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut. In addition, he has composed the score to the off-Broadway musical comedy "Drat!'' as well as the history-based musical, "A Woman of a Certain Age," which received its world premiere in 2005 at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

He is a contributor to the 25-volume New Grove Dictionary of Music, and to the New Grove Dictionary of Opera. He is also co-author of “Leroy Anderson, a Bio-Bibliography,” recently published by Greenwood Press.

In addition, Metcalf has served as classical music advisor to the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, and as artistic advisor to the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. He also has served as a panelist for the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. In 1995, the Connecticut Music Educators Association named Steve its Music Advocate of the Year for his writings in support of music education in public schools.

Along with the board of The Hartt School, Metcalf serves on the board of West Hartford Community Television, and recently completed his term as Arts Representative to the board of the Roberts Foundation. He also was recently elected to the honorary board of Concora (Connecticut Choral Artists).

Finally, he is the keyboardist emeritus for the needlessly loud rock band, Duke and the Esoterics.

Metcalf lives in West Hartford with his wife, Nancy. They have three grown daughters.

Ways to Connect

Brooklyn Rider / Facebook

Among the many reasons why you should plan to see Brooklyn Rider on February 4 at The Hartt School is one bittersweet one: it will be among the last opportunities audiences will have to experience the groundbreaking string quartet with its founding membership intact.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Bullet dodged.

Crisis averted.

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra has managed to pull itself back from the edge, and for that there should be quiet thanks, as opposed to loud rejoicing.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Over the long months of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra contract dispute with its players, two questions, among many others, have been heard with regularity.

Piano Piano! on Flickr.com / Creative Commons

I was literally jotting down a few thoughts about Pierre Boulez – the modernist French composer/conductor/musical tastemaker, who died last week at 90 – when the news arrived about David Bowie.

Hartford Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

So it’s down to this: the Hartford Symphony Orchestra -- which was born in the 1930s in the depths of the depression, which has weathered repeated fiscal crises and work stoppages, but which, in the end, has been our community’s shining flagship musical organization for three generations -- is declaring it will shut down if management and the musicians can’t agree on a contract in the next few weeks.

Demetri Mouratis flickr.com/photos/dmourati / Creative Commons

Last year at this time, I foolishly offered my choices for the ten best pop Christmas songs. I say foolishly because these list things are always a bad idea for so many reasons. In fact I’m working on a piece that will list the ten biggest reasons why list stories are a bad idea.

Ian Douglas Photography / Yuja Wang/Facebook

The calendar has just flipped over to December, CVS has stockpiled its ineffective windshield scrapers up near the cash registers, the newspaper food sections are starting to feature hearty soup recipes, and recently for the first time in many months I found the word “sleet” in the ten-day forecast.

Photo courtesy of Concora / concora.org

On Saturday night Christopher Shepard will, at long last, make his debut as the new conductor and artistic director of Concora.

taupupua.com

When I see a press release about a guy who started off being drafted into the NFL as a defensive end and then decided to become a professional opera singer instead, I reflexively think headlines:

"Former Gridiron Star Tackles Verdi."

"Defensive End Calls an Audible, With Vibrato."

"Now He's Holding High Cs Instead of Wide Receivers."

Please, somebody stop me.

Mark Garten / United Nations photo

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma turned 60 the other day.

That’s as good a reason as any to reflect for a moment on a life and career that seems about as well executed as that of any classical performing artist in our time, maybe ever.

Hartford Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

Maybe it's that my two older daughters have both gotten married in recent weeks. Or that my youngest daughter (married two years ago, for the record) is about to have a baby. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that Donald Trump -- Donald Trump -- is being taken seriously as a presidential candidate. 

Hartford Symphony Orchestra / Facebook

A new arts season dawns. And despite the lingering cloud of the Hartford Symphony labor impasse – it originally looked like the HSO season-opening concerts might be lost, but in fact they will go on as scheduled – the new cycle brings a reassuringly plentiful supply of music, both familiar and challenging.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The Hartford Symphony Orchestra contract impasse staggers along.

As anyone reading this is likely to be aware, the HSO musicians continue to be engaged in a dispute with management over the number of services they will be contracted for and therefore the amount of money they will earn next season.

Cuatro Puntos

When we think about the major agents of social change we don’t immediately think of classical chamber music.

Thanks to groups like Cuatro Puntos, we need to perhaps start changing our thinking.

Hugh Burkhardt / robertblack.org

Whatever airline horror story you have about lost or mishandled luggage, I’m pretty sure Robert Black can top it.

Robert, as many of you around here know, is a brilliant, nationally recognized double bass player and teacher. He is perhaps best known for being a founding member of the avant-garde music ensemble, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, a group that regularly plays all over the world. Robert has also been a faculty member at The Hartt School for many years, and is currently the chairman of the school’s string department.

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