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Classical

Photo Courtesy of The Nashville Symphony

The last time Zuill Bailey played with the Nashville Symphony, he gave a Grammy-winning performance. It’s an experience the virtuoso cellist describes as “capturing lightning in a bottle.”

Nina Cardona / Nashville Public Radio

Since 1868, Americans have set aside time at the end of May to visit the burial sites of veterans. The date of what used to be called "Decoration Day" was chosen for practical reasons: If you're going to place flowers on a grave, what better time than when plenty of flowers are blooming? But it's appropriate timing on a symbolic level, too. The contrast between seasonal beauty and the ugliness of war is an apt metaphor for the bittersweet combination of fond memories and painful loss that lies at the heart of Memorial Day.

It's a complex mix of emotions that music has long explored. Here are a handful of selections that lie in the meeting place between love and loss, war and peace, beauty and discomfort.

You have a few more days to catch “The Dada Effect: An Anti-Aesthetic and Its Influence” at Vanderbilt’s Fine Arts Gallery before it closes on May 27th. The exhibit explores the rise of the artistic movement in the wake of WWI, when Dadaists gathered to forge an anti-establishment, anti-bourgeois and anti-war philosophy that rejected conventions of the past.

One of the most staggering aspects of the experience of grief is the unrelenting march of time. Your life seems to come to a screeching halt, but the outside world will continue to spin, the sun will rise and your neighbors will take out their garbage on trash day. This “inexorability of the passage of time” is an experience that preoccupied John Harbison as he worked on a requiem, the centuries-old sacred music tradition associated with loss and mourning.

Karyn Photography / Nashville Ballet

In the span of just a few days, the Nashville Ballet and ALIAS Chamber Ensemble are offering a pair of variations on a theme: exploring the way classical music can interact and interweave with other sounds and genres. 

Danny Clinch / nonesuch.com

A mandolinist, a cellist and a double bassist walk into a barn. No, this isn’t the beginning of some terribly bad joke, but it is how Chris Thile, Edgar Meyer and Yo-Yo Ma came together to record music of J.S. Bach. Their new album Bach Trios was released earlier this month. 

unknown passport photographer / King's College Library, Cambridge

This weekend, a group of Nashville ensembles will present the U.S. premiere of a work they think of not as a performance, but an invitation to activism.

British composer James McCarthy’s oratorio, Codebreaker, illuminates key moments from the life of Alan Turing. The groundbreaking computer scientist broke Germany’s Enigma Code during World War II and established the quintessential test of artificial intelligence. 

Wikimedia Commons

The tradition of writing liturgical music began centuries ago, when the main employer of European composers was the Christian church. Since then, an abundance of music has been created to commemorate the Biblical events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Composers approach musical retellings of Christianity's most important holiday from a variety of perspectives; here are just a few pieces to listen to during Holy Week: 

serafinquartet.org/vanderbilt.edu

Playing in a string quartet isn’t easy. “You hear so many stories of how it goes wrong,” says Kate Ransom, violinist for the Serafin Quartet and one of the group’s founding members. “It’s such a delicate balance, you have to work so intimately together” she continues, citing a laundry list of moving parts that keep Serafin running smoothly.

Unknown/Stanley Donwood / Wikimedia Commons/allmusic.com

What do 19th century Romantic-era composer Johannes Brahms and modern alt-rockers Radiohead have in common? A lot more that you might think, according to Steve Hackman.

The young conductor, composer and all-around musician has been making a name for himself in recent years with his orchestral “mash-ups,” which seek to synthesize well known and well loved orchestral and pop masterworks.

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