Boulder Phil opens their season with an outstanding soloist, great works

Pianist Jon Nakamatsu weds technique and expression for Schumann’s Concerto

By Peter Alexander

Last night (Sept. 24) conductor Michael Butterman and the Boulder Philharmonic opened their 2017–18 season with “The Boulder Phil at 60,” a successful and well balanced program that featured an outstanding soloist, two great works, and a (relatively) new piece that that was co-commissioned with 47 other orchestras around the country.

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Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra

The performance was introduced by Boulder City Council Member Jan Burton reading from a proclamation declaring Boulder Philharmonic Day, congratulating the orchestra for realizing its mission to reflect the Boulder community as well as for its longevity. While the program did not have the Boulder-centric focus of the recent seasons, it was received with enthusiasm.

The concert opened with Dreamtime Ancestors by Christopher Theofanidis. Commissioned by a consortium of orchestras in 48 of the 50 states, including the Boulder Phil for Colorado, it has been played around the country starting with its world premiere in 2015, and has now made its way to Boulder.

Dreamtime Ancestors was supposedly inspired by, and has titles reflecting, Australian Aboriginal spiritual beliefs, but you would be hard pressed to discern that in the music. The highly characteristic and mystical Aboriginal beliefs are reflected in only the most general way; about the best you can say is that Theofanidis tastefully avoids any patronizing faux-exoticism in the music.

Instead, the score is composed in a more-or-less contemporary Western orchestral style, with a discernable profile and structure that makes the music easily accessible. Avoiding any bold gestures, the music holds nothing that would disconcert a contemporary classical-music audience. Played with warmth and firm musicality by the Boulder Philharmonic, it made an unchallenging but agreeable opening for the concert.

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Pianist Jon Nakamatsu

The first of the two great works was Schumann’s familiar Piano Concerto in A minor, played by soloist Jon Nakamatsu. The pianist’s sure technique was used in service of a deeply expressive performance that clearly moved the audience. In a work of many moods, his interpretation was striking for its use of gentle lyricism in the quiet, reflective moments to contrast with the more robust portions of the concerto.

This was especially effective in the slower middle movement, which was played with great beauty and tenderness. In the first movement, however, I found the style of the quieter moments overdrawn. Nakamatsu’s lyricism was lovely, but the tempo sometimes slowed so much that these quieter passages seemed to interrupt the overall momentum and continuity of the movement.

The contrasting moods were better matched in the finale, which danced along convincingly as Nakamatsu met every expressive demand. Butterman and the orchestra provided secure support for his interpretation. A standing ovation from a nearly-full Macky Auditorium brought Nakamatsu back onstage for a lovely and touching encore performance of Chopin’s Fantasie-Impromptu.

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Michael Butterman

The orchestra came into its own for the other great work, forming the full second half of the concert: Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 in D minor. Sometimes celebrated as the composer’s greatest symphony, the Seventh is less known, and notably more somber than either the cheerful. folkish Eighth Symphony or the ever-popular Ninth Symphony, famously composed in the New World.

This symphony is a challenge for both conductor and orchestra, requiring stylistic commitment and perception, as well as musical precision and control. Butterman and the Phil met the challenges head on, with a strong conception of the work. The very beginning was a little ragged in pitch and rhythm—a reflection of the musicians having been apart for the summer?—and the orchestral sound was not initially consistent, lacking a solid core.

Happily, the players soon settled in and the performance grew stronger and stronger. Individual moments were musically expressive throughout, and the first movement ended forcefully. The second movement was stylish and well paced. The third movement, titled only “Scherzo,” has an obvious folk-dance quality throughout, a feeling that was well captured by Butterman and the Phil.

The stormy finale was the best movement, with well controlled pacing that reflected the composer’s calculated withholding of a major-key resolution until the very last measures. Individual players shone in their solo passages, including one of the best propulsive punches for a timpanist to be found anywhere in the orchestral world. Once again the audience stood, celebrating Boulder’s fine orchestra, its remarkable 60-year history, and the successful start of a new season.

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Takács Quartet and Boulder Phil deliver a classical double-header

The missing composer in both concerts? Beethoven.

By Peter Alexander

Takasc String Quartet

Takacs Quartet. Photo by Keith Saunders.

Boulder will see a classical-music double-header Sunday, Sept. 24 as the Takács Quartet and the Boulder Philharmonic both open their seasons the same day.

The Takács goes first, at 4 p.m. in Grusin Music Hall on the CU campus with a program of Haydn, Mendelssohn and Brahms. And at 7 p.m. in Macky Auditorium, the Boulder Phil will open their 60th anniversary season with the music of Dvorák, Schumann and Christopher Theofanidis. The Takács will repeat their concert on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

That Takács program, and later programs during the year, are noticeably missing one composer. There are classical works during the fall (Haydn, Mozart), Romantic works (Mendelssohn, Brahms), and one new piece (Carl Vine). But there is no Beethoven.

That’s because the Takács played the full cycle of Beethoven quartets several times last year, and they decided enough was enough. “We’re definitely taking a breather from Beethoven this year,” the quartet’s first violinist, Edward Dusinberre, says.

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Jon Nakamatsu

Music director Michael Butterman and the Boulder Philharmonic will open their 60th season with a work co-commissioned with orchestras in all 50 states, Dreamtime Ancestors by Christopher Theofanidis. Other works on the program are Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor with pianist Jon Nakamatsu, and Dvorák’s Symphony No 7. in D minor.

Nakamatsu is looking forward to playing the Schumann Concerto, even though he has played it many times before. “People say if it’s really familiar to the audience, it’s more difficult to play because everyone has an opinion,” he says. “But I find if you don’t have to win people over with the piece, you just have to play. Playing something everyone loves already, you have happy people in the hall. That’s a good place to start.”

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Takacs Quartet
Haydn, Mendelssohn and Brahms
4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24 (sold out)
7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 25
Grusin Music Hall

Tickets

Boulder Philharmonic, Michael Butterman, conductor
Jon Nakamatsu, piano
“Boulder Phil at 60”
7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24
Macky Auditorium

Tickets

 

James Bailey returns to the Dairy Saturday to open jazz series

“From Peru to Mexico” features cello-guitar duo with Alfredo Muro

By Peter Alexander

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James Bailey, former music curator at the Dairy Arts Center

James Bailey, the former music curator at the Dairy Arts Center, moved to Mexico last year, “to open myself up to whatever happens next,” he says.

What happened next included quite a bit of performing, and now he is back in Boulder to play for the opening of the “Jazz at the Dairy” series at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, in the Dairy’s Gordon Gamm Theater (tickets available here). Bailey will be the cello half of a guitar-cello duo with Peruvian guitarist Alfredo Muro. Together they will perform “From Peru to Mexico,” a program of Latin jazz and other music for their instruments.

With an extensive international career as a solo guitarist, Muro was originally booked at the Diary as part of a current North American tour. When Bailey was able to be in Boulder this weekend, they decided to add some of their duo repertoire to the program.

“Part of (the concert) will be what it was originally going to be, which is him performing alone,” Bailey says. “And then the other part will be the duo portion. There are elements of jazz to what we do, but I think the (main) jazz component will be his part of the program.”

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Guitarist Alfredo Muro

Bailey and Muro have performed together for three years. They first met when Bailey booked Muro for a concert at Dazzle in Denver. They became friends and soon formed a duo. Since then they have performed whenever they can get together, most recently this summer at the San Miguel Chamber Music Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where Bailey now lives.

“It’s a unique combination, the cello and guitar, and it really works well,” Bailey says. “Balance-wise it works out well. The thing that we’ve been surprised by is how much people like that combination, especially with Latin music. It’s just something that’s not heard very often.”

Bailey says they have not decided yet what they will play for the Dairy program, which will be announced from the stage. “I’m sure we will decide that afternoon how we’re going to do it,” he says. Very likely they will intersperse duo performances with Muro’s solo pieces.

“A good part of the concert will be music from Brazil,” Bailey says. The duo “will be playing some traditional Brazilian jazz pieces. We’ll also play two pieces from Peru, and a suite of pieces that are either written by Bach, or influenced by Bach, that will venture further off the jazz chart.”

Since moving to Mexico, “I’m being asked to perform a lot of different things,” he says. In addition to the duo performances at the chamber music festival, “I did a jazz ballad with a jazz pianist, I’m doing a Kol Nidre Jewish service, I’m putting together a repertoire of Mexican music with a jazz guitarist who lives in San Miguel, a woman who has a wonderful Bösendorfer grand in her living room wants to work on some Beethoven sonatas, and there are a couple of string players who want to put together a string quartet.”

A native of Peru, Muro performs a wide variety of styles, many based in South American folk idioms, as well as jazz and classical guitar. He has a particular interest in many varieties of Brazilian music, including choros, frevo and bossa nova, but he also has an extensive repertoire of classical guitar and has performed with the Boulder Chamber Orchestra.

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Jazz at the Dairy: From Peru to Mexico
Alfredo Muro, guitar, and James Baily, cello
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16
Gordon Gamm Theater

Tickets

 

From ‘Bachtoberfest’ to Carnival in Brazil, Boulder’s musicians plan celebrations

Boulder Bach Festival, Boulder Chorale announce 2017–18 seasons

By Peter Alexander

The Boulder Bach Festival and Boulder Chorale have announced their 2017–18 seasons, with globe-trotting celebrations from “Bachtoberfest” to Brazil to Venice.

imageOf the two, the Boulder Bach Festival (BBF) gets underway first with the “Bachtoberfest” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday , Oct. 12 in Boulder’s Seventh Day Adventist Church. The program will be repeated at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, in Longmont’s Stewart Auditorium.

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Soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg

The concert—which actually has nothing to do with beer—will feature four guest soloists: violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock from the faculty of the Juilliard School; Guy Fishman, principal cellist of the Handel-Haydn Society of Boston; Chris Holman, historical keyboardist of the Bach Society in Houston; and Dutch soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg, who has appeared with the BBF several times in the past.

Violinist Zachary Carrettin, artistic director of the BBF will also play on the concert of 18th-century chamber music. The program includes trio sonatas and arias by Handel, Vivaldi, J.S. Bach and Telemann.

A particularly interesting item on the program that continues the BBF’s exploration of historical rarities is listed as a “Keyboard Concerto in G major” by Johann Christian Bach, arranged by Mozart. Known as “The London Bach” for having had a very successful musical career in that city, Johann Christian was the youngest of J.S. Bach’s sons. Mozart visited London while on tour with his family during the years 1763–66, when he was seven to 10 years old. He became friends with Bach, around 30 at the time.

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Johann Christian Bach, portrait by Thomas Gainsborough

In order to learn how to write concertos, the young Mozart arranged three of Bach’s solo sonatas as concertos by adding passages for orchestra. These arrangements were originally included in Mozart’s works under the listing K107 nos. 1–3; the Concerto in G major is the second of the three. Rarely performed, because they are not strictly “by” either J.C. Bach or Mozart, they are nonetheless fascinating historical documents, revealing the young composer’s learning process.

There are two new scheduling features for BBF’s 2017–18 season: Boulder performances will all be on Thursdays, to avoid conflicts with other performing organizations; and the performances will be split between Boulder’s Seventh-Day Adventist Church and Longmont’s Stewart Auditorium. Some concerts will be presented in both venues, and others only in one or the other.

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1895 Érard piano

For example, the second event on the season, a concert titled “A World Transformed,” will only be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, in the Stewart Auditorium in Longmont. The performance will feature Mina Gajić performing on her 1895 Érard grand piano together with Richie Hawley performing on a 1919 Parisian clarinet and Carrettin playing a  gut-string violin. They will play music of the early 20th century by Bartók, Ives, Berg and Antheil.

Likewise, the major Bach performance of the year will only be presented once, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15, in Boulder’s Seventh Day Adventist Church. Titled “The Eternal Spirit,” the program comprises four of Bach’s great sacred cantatas. Zachary Carrettin will lead the BBF Chorus and Orchestra with vocal soloists Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano; Abigail Nims, mezzo-soprano; Derek Chester, tenor; and Ashraf Sewailam, bass-baritone.

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Flutist Ismael Reyes

The final concert of the season will honor the musical heritage of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, with music by  prominent Venetian Baroque composers: Antonio Lotti, Giovanni Gabrieli, Tarquino Merulo and Antonio Vivaldi. The concert will end the season with one more piece by J.S. Bach, the Orchestral Suite in B minor with Ysmael Reyes playing the flute solos.

You can see the full Boulder Bach Festival season here.

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Dec-2014-BC-adults

The Boulder Chorale (BC) opens its 52nd season with “Carnival Brazil,” at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, in Boulder’s First United Methodist Church. Titled “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” this will be BC’s ninth season combined with the Boulder Children’s Chorale and the third with artistic director Vicki Burrichter.

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Ginga

Carnival Brazil (Oct. 28) will see the BC sharing the stage with the Brazilian-music band Ginga and the Bateria Alegria, the percussion ensemble of the Boulder Samba School. That is only the beginning of the collaborative performances in a season that the BC is describing as “an adventurous exploration of different genres.”

The BC will be joined by JAMkeyJAM, a duo of Nepalese musicians who aim to combine ancient traditional music with contemporary sounds, March 10 and 11. The joint program, “Between Heaven and Earth,” will include a performance of Eliza’s Gilkyson’s Requiem, written in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

© Glenn Ross | www.glennrossphoto.com

Vicki Burrichter

Later the same month, the chorale will appear with the Boulder Chamber Orchestra for a performance of Mozart’s Requiem (March 30 in Broomfield and 31 in Boulder), and they will close out the season May 19 and 20 with Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts, performed with a jazz combo.

 

The full Boulder Chorale season, including ticket information and performances by the Boulder Children’s Chorale not mentioned in this article, can be found here.

NOTE: Typos corrected 9.8.17

 

 

 

Mozart, movies and more at the Dairy

2017–18 concert season gets underway at the Dairy Arts Center

By Peter Alexander

Some of Boulder’s best musicians want to see you at the Dairy.

Korevaar

Pianist David Korenaar

That’s the punning implication of the new series CU@The Dairy, presented jointly by the Dairy Arts Center and University of Colorado College of Music. That concert series opens Thursday, Sept. 7 with “Miraculous Mozart,” a program of Mozart piano concertos with David Korevaar, the Helen and Peter Weil Professor of Piano, doubling as soloist and conductor, and continues eight days later, Friday, Sept. 15, with a screening of the 1918 film The Yellow Ticket with live music performed by klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals and pianist Marilyn Lerner.

“Miraculous Mozart” will feature two of Mozart’s piano concertos, K449 in E-flat major and K450 in B-flat major, with Korevaar leading and playing with a chamber orchestra.

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Alicia Svigals and Marilyn Lerner performing for a screening of ‘The Yellow Ticket’

A silent film from 1918, The Yellow Ticket is of great historical interest for several reasons: It was filmed in the Warsaw Ghetto; it features a teenaged Pola Negri, who went on to great fame as a femme fatale in Hollywood; and it was reconstructed from various partial sources after the Nazis tried to destroy all traces of the film in the 1940s.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

 

September music events at the Dairy:

CU@The Dairy: Miraculous Mozart
David Korevaar, piano, and chamber orchestra.
7:30 p.m. Sept. 7

The Yellow Ticket
Film screening with live music
Alicia Svigals, violin, and Marilyn Lerner, piano.
8 p.m. Sept. 15 [note corrected time]

Jazz at the Dairy: From Peru to Mexico.
Guitarist Alfredo Muro with former Dairy music curator James Bailey, cello.
7:30 p.m. Sept. 16

Soundscape: Women in Classical Music.
2 p.m. Sept. 20

One Night Only: Shake, Schimmel, and Shout!
7:30 p.m. Sept. 27

Other fall dates and ticket information here.

NOTE: The time of the screening of The Yellow Ticket has been corrected to 8 p.m. An earlier version of the story listed the time as 7:30 p.m.

CU Faculty Tuesdays, free and live-streamed, offer a fascinating potpourri of repertoire

With several performances on the calendar, pianist David Korevaar’s plate is full

By Peter Alexander

The summer has ended and fall has arrived.

It may not seem like it when it reaches 90°, but you can be certain. Not only is it Labor Day Weekend, the official end of summer, but the fall music has season has, in fact, already begun. The first of the CU College of Music Faculty Tuesday concerts was already last week, when pianist David Korevaar and violinist Harumi Rhodes played a program of sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven, Janáček and Schumann.

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Grusin Hall, home of “Faculty Tuesdays”

That series continues tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 5, with a Faculty Tuesday debut by baritone Andrew Garland performing a program titled “The Quest” with pianist Jeremy Reger. Future Faculty Tuesday events, listed here, will feature guests from the Cleveland Orchestra Sept. 12, Korevaar and violist Geraldine Walther performing “Chopin on the Viola” Sept. 26, and a fascinating potpourri of other topics and programs through the fall.

The Faculty Tuesday concerts are all at 7:30 in Grusin Music Hall, and all are free. Even better, you can watch from home and avoid the parking free-for-all around campus: the College of Music will provide live streaming of these events, available through the “CU Presents” button on the Faculty Tuesdays Web page listing of each event.

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Pianist David Korenaar, Helen and Peter Weir Professor of Piano at CU, Boulder

None of the music faculty will be busier this fall than Korevaar, who shows up on four more Faculty Tuesdays in addition to his series-opening recital with Rhodes last week: “Chopin on the Viola” with Walther Sept. 26; “Finnish Celebration” with eight other faculty members Oct. 24; “Schubert and More” with violinist Charles Wetherbee Oct. 31; and “Signs Games+Messages” with Rhodes, Walther and cellist David Requiro Nov. 28.

Not letting any grass grow under his feet or on his keyboard, Korevaar also inaugurates the new CU@The Dairy series at the Dairy Arts Center on Thursday, Sept. 7, playing and conducting two of Mozart’s piano concertos. And as if that weren’t enough, he will be performing Beethoven’s Fantasy for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra, op. 80, with the Boulder Philharmonic at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 in Macky Auditorium (tickets here).

“Yeah, there’s a lot on the plate,” Korevaar admits.

Thursday’s concert at the Diary, titled “Miraculous Mozart,” will feature two of Mozart’s piano concertos, K449 in E-flat major and K450 in B-flat major. They were both written in the same year, 1784, and of the two Korevaar identifies the second as the more difficult. “Mozart wrote a letter to his father,” he says, “and he said [K450] is the hardest thing he’s ever written. I might not disagree—it’s a tough piece, so obviously virtuoso.”

You will be able to read more about Korevaar, the Mozart concertos, and CU@The Dairy on this Web page and in the next issue of Boulder Weekly on Thursday, Sept. 7.

CU music faculty will appear on a new concert series at the Dairy Center

“CU at the Dairy” opens Sept. 7 with “Miraculous Mozart”

By Peter Alexander

Two of Boulder’s eminent arts organizations have joined together to inaugurate a promising new collaborative music series this fall.

The University of Colorado College of Music and the Dairy Arts Center have announced a series of concerts jointly sponsored by both organizations, to be held during the year in the Dairy’s Grace and Gordon Gamm Theater. “CU at the Dairy,” featuring music faculty members in collaboration with one another and other local artists, will supplement the free Faculty Tuesdays series of recitals in Grusin Hall.

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The lobby of the Grace and Gordon Gamm Theater at the Dairy Arts Center

Based on early listings, the Grusin Hall Faculty Tuesday events will be more traditional recitals, while the CU at the Dairy will be more exploratory, collaborative, and in some cases will be multi-media events. In a news release from Aug. 16, the Dairy’s music curator, Sharon Park, says that the CU faculty “have such great ideas and projects they want to present. The Gordon [Gamm Theater] gives them an intimate venue to pair visual art, silent film, dance or any other art form with music.”

Korevaar

David Korenaar

The series gets underway Sept. 7 with “Miraculous Mozart,” featuring Helen and Peter Weil Professor of Piano David Korevaar playing and conducting Mozart’s piano concertos K449 in E-flat major and K450 in B-flat major. The small orchestra for these performances will include violinist Charles Wetherbee from the music faculty along with other faculty and alumni of the College of Music.

Yellow_Ticket_in_Vancouver_2

Alicia Svigals performing “The Yellow Ticket” in Vancouver

The following week a multi-media event will bring together representatives of the College of Music, CU’s Program in Jewish Studies and International Film Series. Yonatan Malin, faculty in the music theory area of the College of Music, will host the screening of “The Yellow Ticket” a silent film from 1918. The film, about a young Jewish woman studying medicine in Tsarist Russia, will be accompanied by Klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals and jazz pianist Marilyn Lerner performing Svigals’s original score live. Malin will also moderate a panel discussion with the performers and CU faculty members about film, music and cultural awareness.

“CU at the Dairy” will continue in the spring with a performance by Thompson Jazz Studies director John Gunther and friends. More details about these performances will appear on this Web page and in the pages of Boulder Weekly.

Tickets for all “CU at the Dairy” performances are available through the Dairy Center Box Office.