Music News & Info: Classical

The Oscar moment that didn’t happen for soprano Sumi Jo and composer David Lang

David Lang and Sumi Jo - Oscars 2016

“Mommy would explain to us:  ‘Quiet, Daddy’s composing.  Quiet, Daddy has Stravinsky coming to the house tonight.’ ” — Lena Ballinger (Rachel Weisz), Youth

“Molto triste.” — Sumi Jo, the Oscar’s red carpet

If you watched the 88th Academy Awards last night, you may have noticed that only three of the five songs nominated in the “Best Original Song” category were performed during the ceremony.  While this isn’t the first time this has happened, it certainly goes against tradition.

More notably for classical music fans, one of the songs not performed was “Simple Song #3” (from the movie Youth), composed by David Lang and sung by coloratura soprano Sumi Jo.

The official reason for the omission as Variety reported last week: “time constraints.”

In my humble opinion, that’s — [cough] —  bullsh!t — [cough cough].  I’m guessing it had more to do with the genre of the song and the lack of popularity of the principals.  If the two songs left out of the show were instead performed by Rihanna and One Direction, you could bet your golden statuette that time would have magically been found.

Here are comments from the red carpet by Mr. Lang and Ms. Jo: 


Youth follows Fred Ballinger, a retired orchestra conductor played by Michael Caine, who is on holiday in the Alps with his daughter (Rachel Weisz) and his film director best friend Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) when he receives an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to perform for Prince Philip’s birthday. Paolo Sorrentino, the film’s director, chose the Pulitzer prize-winning composer because “he is a contemporary musician, able to compose both sublime and accessible music.  I thought he would be the best composer for this type of film and for the character of Fred.”

Below are three more videos:  a featurette on the music for Youth, the film’s red band trailer, and “Simple Song #3” itself sung by Ms. Jo and featuring violinist Viktoria Mullova and the BBC Concert Orchestra.


Photo credit:  courtesy of Askonas Holt




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.