Michael Butterman ads another contract extension to his resumé

Shreveport Symphony follows Boulder Philharmonic by extending the maestro’s contract

By Peter Alexander

Michael Butterman

Michael Butterman

Last month the Boulder Philharmonic announced that Music Director Michael Butterman had extended his contract with the orchestra for five years, through the 2018–19 season.

Now the Shreveport, La., Symphony Orchestra has announced they have extended Butterman’s contract with that orchestra an additional four years, through the 2017–18 season. Butterman has been music director in Shreveport, where he lives with his family, since 2005.

“Michael has become a celebrity in our community,” Elizabeth (Libby) Siskon, president of the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, said. “He is extremely well regarded and well-loved throughout the Shreveport area.” Butterman is credited with helping resolve a labor dispute at the orchestra during the 2008–09 season.

“I am extremely proud of the work we’ve accomplished together during my years with the Shreveport Symphony,” Butterman commented.

In addition to his positions with the Boulder and Shreveport orchestras, Butterman is the resident conductor of the Jacksonville (Fla.) Symphony Orchestra and the principal conductor for education and community engagement for the Rochester (New York) Philharmonic Orchestra, the first position of its kind in the United States. And he recently conducted his first performances as music director of the newly formed Pennsylvania Philharmonic.

Read the full news release from the Shreveport Symphony Board of Directors here.

Inbal Segev Brings Bach and Gulda to Boulder

Irsraeli-American cellist hopes audiences have fun

By Peter Alexander

Inbal Segev (Photo by Dario Acosta)

Inbal Segev (Photo by Dario Acosta)

Inbal Segev brings a “tasting menu for the cello” to Boulder this weekend.

The Israeli-American cellist is the soloist with the wind players of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra (BCO) and conductor Bahman Saless for “Allure,” the third concert of BCO’s 2014–15 season (7:30 p.m. Friday in Broomfield, Saturday in Boulder).

In addition to Friedrich Gulda’s Concerto for cello and wind orchestra—Segev’s “tasting menu”—the program features a Serenade for winds by Mozart and Stravinsky’s rarely performed neo-classical gem, the Octet for wind instruments.

Segev will also have some Bach in her luggage: The First, Second and Fourth suites for solo cello, which she will play on a recital Sunday afternoon in Boulder. Billed as a “CD Prerelease Recital,” that performance is the outgrowth of an ongoing recording project that, when completed later this year, will encompass all six Bach solo cello suites.

Pianist/composer Friedrich Gulda

Pianist/composer Friedrich Gulda

Gulda’s Concerto, written in 1980, combines influences from the composer’s training as a classical pianist and his love for American jazz. “The concerto has five movements, they are very varied in style,” Segev says. “There’s jazz, there’s Baroque, there’s one movement I call the ‘Ricola!’ movement because of the horns. And the third movement, which is like the heart of the piece in some ways, is a huge cadenza.”

The cadenza movement is a particular challenge from the composer, who included “two spots where the star cellist must improvise,” he wrote.

“That was a big challenge to me,” Segev says. “Back in the days people used to write their own cadenzas all the time, especially violinists and pianists, but cellists—we’re not used to it! I didn’t write it note by note. I wrote a road map to remind myself what I want to do, so I change a little bit” in each performance.

Inbal Segev. Photo courtesy of ME Reps

Inbal Segev. Photo courtesy of ME Reps

Even more difficult for the soloist is the final movement. When I spoke to Segev earlier this week, she said “I’ve been practicing (that movement) this afternoon, and it’s really fast sixteenth notes, very virtuosic, all over the place. It took me quite a long time to find out the right fingerings for it—you play it slowly and it sounds great, and then it doesn’t work fast, because all the times you leap and change!”

Fortunately Gulda himself solved what Segev thinks would have been an even greater challenge. “There’s just no way you can compete against a brass band going full throttle,” she says. “Luckily the cello is amplified, and he did really well by doing that.” She will in fact be playing the same 17th-century cello she uses for the Bach suites, but with a contact microphone mounted on the cello’s bridge.

For the remainder of the BCO program—actually the first half of the concert—Saless decided to pair two relatively short pieces, a Mozart Serenade and the Stravinsky Octet. “It’s very different to put three pieces for wind instruments (on a concert, rather) than having an entire Mahler symphony, because with a Mahler symphony all the winds at some point take rests,” he says. “To put (a long piece for winds) next to the Octet, you would kill them. There is just not that much wind in a human being!

“So one of the things we have to do is we have to play the Mozart at a little bit of a snappy tempo.”

Bahman Saless. Photo by Keith Bobo

Bahman Saless. Photo by Keith Bobo

Saless originally was not sure about programming the Stravinsky, because it is not particularly well known or popular. Then he suggested it to the players.

“The orchestra was really excited about doing Stravinsky, so I said, ‘OK, let’s just do the Stravinsky,’” he recalls. “I’m really enjoying it through my musicians because I can tell they’re having a blast doing it.”

Although Mozart and Stravinsky sound very different, Saless wants you to know that the Octet—written during Stravinsky’s “neo-classical” period in the early 20th century—is actually very classical in conception and structure. “The first movement is a sonata form, the second movement is variations, and the third movement is a rondo with fugue-like themes,” he says.

“Because the Mozart also has a variation movement, I’m going to draw this parallel between the two pieces. One is Mozart 250 years ago, and the other is the same form, but 20th century. I feel like it’s part of my obligation to explain it to the audience before we perform it, because it’s much more modern sounding than it really is.”

Looking ahead to Sunday, Segev’s recital of Bach suites and the Bach recording project are central to her identity as a cellist. “I’ve been preparing for this basically since I’m six,” she explains. “I started working on the First Suite when I was 6 years old. This my life’s work.

“We call it Bach Everest around the house, and it’s not really a joke. It’s really a certain time in a cellist’s life, it’s the pinnacle of our works and it’s a journey to do it well. (When playing the suites,) I try to be honest to who I am as a musician, and bring the best of me.”

In the meantime, Segev likes the Gulda Concerto as a break from working so intensely on Bach. “I just thought it was a really fun concerto,” she says.

“I think it’s something that audiences everywhere can dig, whether they are relating to the Beethoven and the Brahms or they like lighter fare. I just hope people are going to have fun.”

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Cellist Inbal Segev

Cellist Inbal Segev

“Allure”
Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Bahman Saless, conductor
Inbal Segev, cello

Mozart: Serenade for winds
Stravinsky: Octet for winds
Friedrich Gulda: Concerto for cello and wind orchestra

7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, Broomfield Auditorium
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, First United Methodist Church, Boulder

Solo Recital
Inbal Segev, cello

Bach: Suite No. 1, 2 and 4 for solo cello
1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 9
Grace Lutheran Church, Boulder

TICKETS

NOTE: This article has been edited 11/6 to correct punctuation.

Experience music, and glimpse culture from a world away

World music concert invites rethinking of the meaning of music

By Peter Alexander

CU Balinese Gamelan and dancers (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

CU Balinese Gamelan and dancers (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

The University of Colorado College of Music won’t quite take you around the world in 80 minutes, but in one concert of that length they can take you into musical cultures from the other side of the globe.

The occasion is the World Music Concert presented by CU’s Japanese Traditional Music Ensemble and Balinese Gamelan, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8 in Grusin Music Hall.

The College of Music offers several world music ensembles, giving students the opportunity to learn a different musical culture from the inside. In addition to the Japanese and Balinese ensembles, there is West African Highlife ensemble, which will perform Saturday at 7:30 p.m., also in Grusin Hall; and in the spring semester there will be a Mexican Mariachi band.

CU Japanese Traditional Music Ensemble (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

CU Japanese Traditional Music Ensemble (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

The Japanese Traditional Music Ensemble will perform what co-director Jay Keister identifies as “a combination of folk music and theater music.” While he was trained in Japan in classical Japanese music, his wife and co-director of the ensemble, Mami Itasaka-Keister, was trained in Japanese folk music.  Together they cover a variety of Japanese musical styles.  The 14 CU students in the ensemble will sing and perform on the shamisen, a three-stringed lute; the shinobue, a side-blown flute; Japanese taiko drums; and other drums.

The gamelan is a traditional orchestra common in villages on the islands of Bali and Java. It consists of hanging gongs and instruments that are something like xylophones, with resonant metal chimes for the individual notes. The group is led by a drummer, which in this case will be I Made Lasmawan, a Balinese master musician who lives in Colorado and teaches the gamelan at CU and other schools on the Front Range.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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CU World Music Concert

CU Balinese Gamelan (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

CU Balinese Gamelan (Photo by Glenn Asakawa/University of Colorado)

Japanese Traditional Music Ensemble,
Jay Keister and Mami Itasaka-Keister, directors; and

Balinese Gamelan, I Made Lasmawan, director

2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8
Grusin Music Hall, CU Imig Music Building
Free and open to the public