Classical Beat: Eugene Watanabe, Scorpions, Berlin Philharmonic ...

Scorpions recently composed the theme for Germany's Expo 2000.

Salt Lake City-born Eugene Watanabe returns home Thursday (Aug. 17) to close out the Utah Symphony's summer season. The versatile Watanabe will perform Mozart's D Minor Concerto, K466, which he first performed with the orchestra 10 years ago. "There are many things I see in it that I don't think I was mature enough to see back then. Hopefully that will be reflected in my playing," Watanabe told the Salt Lake Tribune. Also on the program, conducted by Utah Symphony music director Keith Lockhart, are Mozart's Symphony No. 35 ("Haffner") and two pieces written as tributes to Mozart: Jacques Ibert's "Hommage Mozart" and Tchaikovsky's Suite No. 4 ("Mozartiana"). ...

Rock band the Scorpions, known for their anthem "Rock You Like a Hurricane," recently composed a new anthem for Germany's Expo 2000, which they recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic. The band will tour the United States with a full orchestra — but not the Berlin Philharmonic — in support of its recently released album, Moment of Glory. Scheduled concerts are Phoenix (Sept. 21), Las Vegas (Sept. 23), Los Angeles (Sept. 28) and San Francisco (Sept. 30). Producer Christian Kolonovits arranged the orchestrations for the band. When the album was first released, some members of the Berlin Philharmonic protested the song's explicit lyrics. ...

Seattle Opera conductor Armin Jordan will not take the podium for two of the company's productions of Die Walküre because of a bout with pneumonia. Replacing him will be Franz Vote, who has worked with a majority of the singers in the company and also has conducted at the Metropolitan Opera and the Bayreuth Festival. Performances of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre will run until Aug. 25. ...

Pianist András Schiff will be in Lucerne, Switzerland, from Aug. 30 until Sept. 12, performing the music of J.S. Bach. Schiff will present selections from the Well Tempered Klavier on Aug. 30 and Sept. 12; selections from the Partitas on Sept. 3; the French Suites and French Overture on Sept. 5; the English Suites on Sept. 8 and the Goldberg Variations on Sept. 10. The Internationale Musikfestwochen will conclude Sept. 16 with performances of Anton Bruckner by the Vienna Philharmonic. ...

An article in the China Daily has reignited an intense debate over the construction of the Beijing Opera House, just a few days before authorities are expected to make a final decision on the disputed architectural endeavor. French designer Paul Andreu hopes he will receive approval this month; however, the Chinese newspaper suggested no final decision has been made. The paper's full-page summation of the project devoted a significant amount of space to petitions signed by about 150 Chinese architects and intellectuals who said the project would clash with Beijing's aesthetic. The project's design, a giant bubble covered in titanium and resting in a man-made lake, has been severely criticized by Chinese architects. ...

Violin maestro Giuliano Carmignola and the Venice Baroque Orchestra have signed exclusive contracts to record for Sony Classical. Their first recording for the label is due internationally this fall and will feature three world premiere recordings of the Italian Baroque master Antonio Vivaldi's concerti, in addition to a new interpretation of The Four Seasons. Carmignola, an Italian violinist whose style spans the whole spectrum of classical music, has received recent praise for his period performances of Italian Baroque music, specifically the works of the Venetian school. ...

The Korean Opera Group will present its own commissioned opera, Hwangjinie, Aug. 24–25 in Beijing. The story is based on the life of a famous 16th-century "kisaeng" (female entertainer) who passed through the social circles of kings and philosophers of the era. Some of Korea's greatest modern artists, poets and choreographers collaborated on the project, which made its debut in April 1999. After performances in China, the Korean Opera Group will take the production to Japan in April. ...

Amid the onslaught of CD releases from a variety of labels celebrating baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's 75th birthday, Milan's Myto Records jumps into the fray with what is being billed as his "first operatic appearance." The recording features the German baritone as the Marquis of Posa in Guiseppe Verdi's Don Carlos, performed by the Stadtische Oper Berlin (now the Deutsche Oper) in 1948. Fischer-Dieskau sang his first recitals in 1945 while held as a prisoner of war in Italy. ...

The Manchester based BBC Philharmonic has launched an e-mail club as a reward to those who visit its Web site. Conductors, soloists, orchestral members or administrative personnel will pen the biweekly e-mails sent to subscribers, giving a fresh perspective to the duties and rigors of life in a major symphonic orchestra. The e-mails also will serve as a basis for launching sneak previews, recent recordings and personal behind-the-scenes views from Manchester and on extensive tours. ...

Lou Harrison has won this year's Edward MacDowell medal, making him the 12th composer to receive the award. Composer Chester Biscardi was chairman of this year's selection committee for the MacDowell Colony, which also included music historian Vivian Perlis and composers Meredith Monk, Alvin Singleton and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Harrison is the first experimental composer to receive the medal. "In choosing Lou Harrison," Biscardi said in a statement, "the search committee recognizes his gentle and generous spirit, as well as the very personal and multifaceted way in which he is and will continue to be a major presence in American and world music." Harrison's works have been commissioned by such notables as Lester Horton, Jean Erdman, Merce Cunningham, the Cabrillo Music Festival, the Mark Morris Dance Company and the Louisville Orchestra. He also played a large role in the introduction of the Indonesian gamelan to American audiences. The award ceremony will be held Aug. 20 at the MacDowell Colony in Petersburgh, N.H.

— sonicnet.com staff report