Pro Musica Colorado announces 2014–15 season

Season will close with “Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc”

By Peter Alexander

Cynthia Katsarellis, director of Pro Musica Colorado

Cynthia Katsarellis, director of Pro Musica Colorado

Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra (PMCO), who consistently present some of the most interesting programs in Boulder under director Cynthia Katsarellis, have announced their 2014–15 season.

The season includes an intriguing array of American works, and not just the usual suspects. Among the pieces on the first two concerts are one of the most successful evocations of American nostalgia, Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and Philip Glass’s Second Violin Concerto, “American Seasons.” Featured soloists will be soprano Amanda Balastrieri for Barber and violinist Yumi Hwang-Williams for Glass.

The third and final concert, described in the PMCO press release as “a blockbuster, not to be missed,” will be a presentation of the silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc with the oratorio Voices of Light by American film composer Richard Einhorn performed by the orchestra and Saint John’s Cathedral Choir and soloists.

Full programs and dates are listed below. Tickets may be purchased here.

Friday, October 17, 2014 – Montview Presbyterian, Denver
Saturday, October 18, 2014 – First United Methodist Church, Boulder 

Sibelius – Rakastava 
Samuel Barber – Knoxville: Summer of 1915
     Amanda Balestrieri, soprano
Mozart Symphony No. 39 in Eb Major

Friday, February 6, 2015 – Montview Presbyterian, Denver
Saturday, February 7, 2015 – First United Methodist Church, Boulder

Vaughan Williams – Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis
CU Composition Competition world premiere
Philip Glass – Violin Concerto No. 2, American Seasons
     Yumi Hwang-Williams, violinist

Friday, March 13, 2015 – Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver
Saturday, March 14, 2015 – First United Methodist Church, Boulder

 Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc

The silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc with the oratorio Voices of Light  by Richard Einhorn. 
Joining Pro Musica Colorado is Saint John’s Cathedral Choir and soloists, Stephen Tappe, organist and director of music.

The lines between Classical and Pop continue to dissolve

By Peter Alexander

Music Mash-Up concert at the 2013 Colorado Music Festival

Music Mash-Up concert at the 2013 Colorado Music Festival

In my recent Boulder Weekly article about Music Mashup concerts at the Colorado Music Festival (CMF), I quoted Steve Hackman, the director of this summer’s series of three concerts, as saying:

“I am . . . somebody who lives in the classical and the pop worlds. I am someone who’s interested in making creative new works, who doesn’t see a huge difference between a masterwork of Beethoven and a masterwork of Coldplay.

“I just don’t see those lines.”


Not everyone will agree with Hackman that Coldplay has masterpieces comparable to Beethoven, or even that layering their songs over recomposed Beethoven is a valid artistic goal—but that is a discussion for another time. For now I am more interested in the notion of crossing and blurring musical lines. Regular patrons of the CMF probably remember the remarkable trio Time for Three, who freely mix their formal training in classical performance with their individual backgrounds playing jazz, gypsy fiddling, folk and popular styles. As they boast on their Web page, they perform “music from Bach and Brahms to their own arrangements of The Beatles, Katy Perry, Kanye West and Justin Timberlake.” This sounds just like Hackman and the Music Mash-ups at CMF.


Rachel Barton Pine with Earthen Grave, her doom-metal band

Boulder audiences also may recall Rachel Barton Pine, who offered Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto with the Boulder Philharmonic in the spring. In addition to performing virtuoso concertos of the 19th and 20th centuries and a wide variety of classical violin showpieces, Pine also plays with a Baroque original-instrument ensemble, the Trio Settecento, and a heavy-metal band, Earthen Grave. That’s a remarkable level of versatility, and would have been unthinkable to most concerto soloists of previous generations. Isaac Stern and Jascha Heifitz would not have given a moment’s thought to using original instruments, or enjoying (or—heaven forbid!— playing) heavy metal. But Pine does both in addition to her straight classical solo career.

It would not be hard to find more examples of this kind of versatility. And that is the point I want to make: The ability of musicians to perform in more than one style is one of the most notable trends in classical music today. If you visit the music schools and conservatories—from CU to Eastman and Juilliard—you will find them filled with young musicians who grew up listening to all kinds of popular music. From anodyne pop styles to all the different styles of rock, indie bands, hip hop, ska, reggae, salsa—they’ve heard it all, and it’s all part of the general musical stew.  In this environment, it’s likely that shredding means just as much to them as etudes. Like Hackman, they just don’t see the lines between styles that older musicians do.

And now, the Daily Telegraph in London is reporting exactly the same story:


Radiohead’s guitarist has done it, and so has The National’s Bryce Dessner. As Richard Reed Parry releases his classical debut, are the barriers between pop and ‘serious music’ finally crumbling? Or were they meaningless all along?  (more)

This may be surprising to some people. But in 2014 Boulder, it should not be. We have seen plenty of evidence right here at home, of which the success of the Music Mash-up concerts at the CMF is just the tip of the iceberg.

Second Time the Charm at Colorado Music Festival?

Andrew Bradford

Andrew Bradford

By Peter Alexander

After a failed first attempt, the Colorado Music Festival announced that it has hired a new executive director. Andrew Bradford, currently the executive director of the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra in Park Forest, Ill., will take the reins at CMF on Aug. 11.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.


Music Mash-Ups headline 2014 Colorado Music Festival

Festival gets under way Sunday, June 29

Candidates to replace Michael Christie will lead concerts


Steve Hackman, director of Colorado Music Festival’s Music Mash-up series

By Peter Alexander

When the Colorado Music Festival gets underway Sunday (June 29, 7:30 p.m. in Chautauqua Auditorium), many of the festival’s familiar features will be in place.

There will be family concerts, patriotic pops, orchestral showpieces, guest artists, and a mix of popular and classical styles on the “Music Mash-up” series (July 1, 15 and 29). In addition, audiences will have a chance to preview three finalists to replace former music director Michael Christie, conducting two programs each: William Boughton (July 6, 10 & 11); Carlos Miguel Prieto (July 17, 18 & 20); and Jean-Marie Zeitouni (Aug. 3, 7 & 8; festival program at

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

Colorado Music Festival

June 29–Aug. 8, Chautauqua Auditorium and eTown Hall, Boulder
Festival Details:

Opening Concert, Michael Butterman, conductor
Christopher Taylor, piano
7:30 p.m. June 29, Chautauqua Auditorium

Music Mash-Up concerts
7:30 p.m., July 1, 15 and 29, Chautauqua Auditorium