Sunday, December 26, 2010

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight is a concert pianist who is among the most talented and most highly acclaimed classical musicians of his generation. And within the traditionally closeted environment of classical music, he may also be, at least among his equally successful peers, the most openly gay classical musician working today. Today's Out Spotlight is Stephen Hough.

Stephen Hough was born on November 22, 1961 in Heswall on the Wirral Peninsula, England. He started taking piano lessons at the age of five and went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He holds a Master's degree from the Juilliard School as well.

In his late teens, he was influenced by the sound of the singing Buckhurst Abbey monks and abandoned the Methodist church, in which he was raised, in favor of the Roman Catholic Church. At that time, he also briefly considered entering the priesthood.

Hough won the 1978 BBC Young Musician of the Year Piano Award at age 17. He went on to win the 1982 Terence Judd Award, and the Naumburg International Piano Competition in 1983, afterward embarking on an international performing career.

He now regularly performs with most of the major orchestras around the globe, including the London Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. He frequently appears as a soloist in Europe, Asia, the United States, and Australia.
He has appeared at festivals worldwide including Salzburg, Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Mostly Mozart (New York), Sapporo, Ravinia, Blossom, Tanglewood, Aspen, Hollywood Bowl and Saratoga.

He has made over 50 CDs, and is the only soloist who has twice won Gramaphone Magazine's Record of the Year Award. Among his most notable recordings is a set of the four Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos and the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, recorded during live performances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to performing the standard piano repertoire, he also performs works by little known and unjustly neglected composers such as Federico Mompou, Xaver Scharvenka, Leopold Godowsky, and Johann Nepomuk Hummel and also actively promotes contemporary music, recording works by Goerge Tsontakis and Lowell Lieberman.

In addition to his accomplishments as an acclaimed pianist, Hough is also well known as a composer, chamber musician, conductor, and writer.His book, The Bible as Prayer, was released in the United States in 2007. It is a devotional publication consisting of daily meditations on selected verses from the Bible.

He also frequently contributes articles on various topics to the British Roman Catholic journal The Tablet. Hough tireless advocate for changes in Roman Catholic church acceptance of same-sex relationships, arguing that God does not intend for human beings to be alone. He forcefully challenges the Chuch's anti-gay interpretations as ahistorical and uncharitable.

In piece that he wrote that was included in the gay anthology The Way We Are Now, he wrote about the difficulties he experienced growing up as a Christian in an environment traditionally hostile to homosexuality. He also postulated a mysterious link between his musical talent and his sexual identity.

Hough's other writings include articles about piano interpretation, pianists (among them two gay pianists: Shura Cherkassky and Joseph Villa), travel journals, and several very well written texts for CD booklets. He is not only limited to prose, in 2008 he won the Sixth International Poetry Competition.

As a composer, Hough has contributed two masses ("Mass of Innocence and Experience," commissioned for the Anglican Westminster Abbey, and "Missa Mirabilis," commissioned for the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral), a cello concerto, "The Loneliest Wilderness," as well as smaller works published by Josef Weinberger, Ltd.

Hough made newspaper headlines in 2007 when his scheduled performances in Hanoi were abruptly canceled by the communist regime. Sponsors and government officials alleged that his sexual orientation might become a safety issue for him while visiting Vietnam.

In 2001, Hough received the renowned MacArthur Fellowship Award. In 2008, he received the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance from Northwestern University, an award given to "pianists who have achieved the highest levels of national and international recognition."

In 2005, Hough applied for Australian citizenship "by descent," since his father was born in Australia. Thus, he holds dual citizenship. He has explained his decision to become an Australian as stemming from the love he has for the country and for the link it provides with his family's past there, particularly with his father and grandfather.

He is an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Music in London where he is a visiting Professor, and a Fellow of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester where he is the International Chair of piano studies. Currently he is a professor at the Royal College of Music in London and International Chair of Piano Studies at his alma mater in Manchester. He lives with his partner, a music publicist, in London.

To all those who celebrate.
Happy Boxing Day!


Seaweed said...

Wonderful and uplifting.

I've been enjoying family and friends here at home and trust that all of you here; often gathered at different times... and of varying opinions, are enjoying the peace that comes with the season.

I really enjoyed Santa's elves yesterday Special!

Relaxing on Boxing Day here in N.S.

Music Lover said...

Wonderful Spotlight today, as always. Hope everyone had a great holiday! Thanks to ROMA for her great gift of the cocktail recipes, and I loved the Places quilts from the earlier post, Special. :)

destiny said...

Bliss is a bowl of chicken green chile, a coffee infused oatmeal stout called PC Breakast, and the Jets on the tv. In a great brew pub because the are not broacasting the game here in Colorado where I am visiting family.

I LOVE green chile, and it is so hard to find outside of Colorado and NM.

And lol, how funny is it that the first thing I noticed is the Jets green shirt in the first photo. Great spotlight as always.

tweet said...

Got a tip that Jake Gyllenhaal was just spotted @unionmarket loading up on snowpocalypse provisions #parkslope about 1 hour ago via TweetDeck - effedparkslope

Special K said...

Feeling a little guilty that I am not in the thick of the blizzard.

Sounds like Jake was laying in supplies for the family to hunker down with for the storm.

the real m said...

Wow. Incredible talent. I am left speechless just watching him play.

prairiegirl said...

I know that song, I know that song!!!! It's killing me. What is that song? Josh Groban sings that. Huh, well that's not what the music player says it is, though. It sure sounded like that song Josh Groban sings.

Well, all of a sudden, the big holiday vacay is over. **sniff**. It's back to the ol' salt mines tomorrow. I'm so depressed. Just when my foot is sooooo much miraculously better, it's time to go back to the ol' sledgehammer.

Swallowed up by family the last several days, it's back to reality. **sigh**.

So is the northeast supposed to be getting a storm? I haven't watched the weather all weekend. I know that we were lucky enough to dodge it - I'm so glad. I'm sure Jake isn't a fan of big snow & cold but if he were back in L.A., he'd be getting rained on like crazy.

Boy, is it going to be hard to get up in the morning. Yuck.

prairiegirl said...

Hey Tom, the Chiefs won!! How 'bout that?

prairiegirl said...

Oh, and my avatar? That is mexican bread. Mmmm mmmm mmmm. I wish I had some right now.

All right, back to writing. Gotta get the guys home and started cooking.

Special K said...

Big storm all the way up the East Coast. Flights canceled, airports closed. Blizzard conditions.

Power is out for 50,000 in MA already. Boston is expecting 20 inches with 45-65 mph winds.

Jersey Tom said...

Yeah Chiefs, Eagles and Pats all. division champs. I wish those Jets could have pulled that game off today it sure would have helped them and the Eagles chances at higher seedings.

PG it is so bad here in Philadelphia that the Eagles game has been canceled till Tuesday.

prairiegirl said...

Wow, whaaaaa?? That's awful.


Yeah, I'm just now turning on the Weather Channel and thank goodness Al is back. Although I like Stephanie fine. But she's better with Al there. They are talking about these winds. That means snow drifts. Too bad about the game, Tom. That's rare to see a game postponed like that.

That's those cobwebs sometimes, lol. I should be heading for the ol' shower. I'm so depressed about going back to work. And my big buddy is off today and tomorrow. OOOOOH, so is the big boss, I just remembered.


I just know this song is one that Josh Groban sings but that's not the title. You Raise Me Up!! That's the name of it. Doesn't this song sound like You Raise Me Up?

It just hit me like that. Isn't it funny how the name of someone or something escapes you and then when you least expect it, here it comes.

prairiegirl said...

Okay, I get to be the blabbermouth because I'm bustin', I'm bustin'.

Spooky has posted!!!!

Spooky has posted!!!! Twice!!!

Everyone go say hi to spook. It is indeed an awesome day, even for a Monday.

I love being the first one up, lol. The early bird gets the worm!!

prairiegirl said...

So do you reckon the Jakester has his big Polartec, Gortex Arctic coat on at this very moment with the hood drawn and everything? Heat warmer ankle no-show socks? Walking around in one of those big Snuggies?

LOLLLLLL!!!! Jake in a snuggie. And I'm not talking about Austin either. lol. Jake in a big cashmere Snuggie. With no room for Austin, Atticus, nor a tiny Texan. Nope, that snuggie is alllllll his. Fixed in the LaZBoy and he's not moving until it hits 49 degrees.

Okay, well, gotta get going. Everyone enjoy the day off. Tell me how it goes. lol.

a Snuggie. LOL. oh, man. That's a killer thought.

People said...

Natalie Portman Is Engaged and Pregnant!