Jean-Marie Zeitouni will lead Colorado Music Festival and audiences on “a journey together”

2015 season includes expanded chamber series and “Cellobration” mini-festival

By Peter Alexander

Jean-Marie Zeitouni

Jean-Marie Zeitouni

“This will be a season to get acquainted” Jean-Marie Zeitouni, new music director of the Colorado Music Festival, told the festival’s friends and supporters last night (Feb. 26) in introducing the program for the summer of 2015.

“It will be a chance to get to know one another better, and for me and the orchestra to know each other,” he said.

The festival program that Zeitouni and CMF’s executive director Andrew Bradford laid out included features that provide continuity with past festivals, as well as elements that reflect the personality of the new music director. (The full schedule is now listed below.)

Continuity will be represented in the general layout of the festival, with weekly concerts by the Festival Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra during the season, which runs from June 26 to Aug. 9. That is a slight shift from past festivals, opening on a Friday and ending on a Sunday, rather than ending with a Friday concert by the Festival Orchestra.

There will be many elements familiar from past festivals, including Music Mash-up concerts directed by Steve Hackman; an expanded series of five chamber concerts, moved to Boulder’s First Congregational Church (1128 Pine St.); and a one-week mini-festival, this time a “Cellobration” presenting both chamber and orchestral works that feature the cello.

In introducing the mini-festival, Zeitouni joked that Bradford, a cellist, had insisted on the “Cellobration.” In fact, the programs are well chosen, and will provide audiences the opportunity to hear a foundational instrument of orchestral and chamber music in a wide variety of contexts, including solo works, sonatas with piano, concertos, and as a member of large and small ensembles.

Olga Kern

Olga Kern. Photo by Fernando Baez

There will also be some new wrinkles to the festival. One will be a solo piano recital in the Chautauqua Auditorium by Van Cliburn Competition Gold Medalist and CMF favorite Olga Kern. Another surprise will be an evening of musical humor by Igudesman & Joo. Two classically trained and exceptional performers, violinist Aleksey Igudesman and pianist Hyung-ki Joo will present their wildly popular program, “A Little Nightmare Music.”

Zeitouni’s musical personality will be reflected principally in the orchestral repertoire of the festival. One aspect is his love of vocal music, reflected in the appearance of solo singers with the orchestra; another is the inclusion of some intriguing and not always familiar bits of French music.

Marie-Nicole Lemieux

Marie-Nicole Lemieux

Those interests show up already on the Festival Opening Night (July 1). Zeitouni and the Festival Orchestra will present a program of French and Italian music—“a voyage, to start our journey together,” Zeitouni said. Like any good voyage, this one starts on the sea, with Debussy’s La Mer. Contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux will sing Ravel’s song cycle Shéhérazade, based on poems by the eccentric French poet who adopted the pseudo-Wagnerian name Tristan Klingsor. To enhance the audience’s understanding of the cycle, the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s Timothy Orr will read translations of the poems.

The second, Italian half of the program will include a number of operatic arias for contralto by Rossini, again sung by Lemieux, and conclude with Respighi’s colorful Pines of Rome.

The season will end Aug. 9 with “A Royal Finish,” featuring the chamber orchestra, soprano Sarah Coburn, and the Colorado Music Festival Chorus in vocal works by Mozart and Handel. Once again there are familiar pieces, like Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate and Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks. But there are also some great music that should be heard more often, including Mozart’s early Regina Coeli K. 108, and Handel’s splendid Zadok the Priest.

Composer Michael Daugherty

Composer Michael Daugherty

The remainder of the orchestral series will include popular works from the standard repertoire—Beethoven and Tchaikovsky symphonies, Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite—as well as some less familiar works that will appeal to Boulder’s musical adventurers. Among these, one has to mention the Colorado premiere of the Grammy-Award winning piano concerto “Deus Ex Machina” by the seriously hip pop-influenced composer Michael Daugherty; and the Colorado premiere of Opening Remarks by Lee Actor.

Also off the beaten path will be the North American premiere of the Festive Overture by Spanish composer Benet Casablancas; the much admired if rarely heard Third Symphony by American Charles Ives; and the even more rarely heard Jazz Symphony by the self-proclaimed “bad boy of music,” George Antheil.

Continuing the focus on vocal music will be a concert performance of Bartók’s two-character opera Bluebeard’s Castle, performed in Hungarian with English supertitles. Hungarian singers Krisztina Szabo, soprano, and Gabor Bretz, bass-baritone, will be guest soloists.

Joining nature and music, “John Fielder’s Colorado” will celebrate the centennial of Rocky Mountain National Park. Fielder’s acclaimed photos will be coordinated with performances of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 5 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6.

Steve Hackman

Steve Hackman

Turning to this year’s Music Mash-Up series, Steve Hackman will once again bring a completely new score, Bartók + Bjork. The other mash-ups feature an earlier Hackman score, Copland + Bon Iver, the Colorado group SHEL, and singer/actress Storm Large with her band, Le Bonheur.

Finally, Bradford has announced the very welcome return of the “Click Commission.” This program, which gives the audience the chance to select the recipient of a commission of a new piece for the following year’s festival, will now be expanded to include a mini-residency at the CMF for the winning composer.

The commission for the 2016 festival will go to one of three composers selected by the CMF: Pierre Jalbert, Hannah Lash and Daniel Wohl. Potential contributors to the program will have the opportunity to hear works by all three, and to vote with their contributions for the composer they prefer. This is your chance to pay the piper and call the tune! Watch the CMF Web page for details.

# # #

In September of last year, I stuck my neck out by offering suggestions for the future of the Colorado Music Festival. While I do not claim any influence on the professional directors and the board of the festival, I am pleased that three of my six suggestions—reinstate the “Click Commission,” expand the chamber music series, and bring back the mini-festival—were addressed in the program for the coming year. I believe that all three are integral to the unique character of the Colorado Music Festival.

Another idea I offered—that the festival should treasure its orchestra—is honored in Zeitouni’s selection of repertoire, which will certainly give the orchestra the opportunity to shine throughout the summer. This is a season that the players will enjoy.

And my preference to hear challenging explorations of music by living composers gets some satisfaction from the inclusion of works by Michael Daugherty, Lee Actor and Benet Casablancas.

With less than one year to pull a festival together, Zeitouni and Bradford have delivered an interesting season. There’s plenty for all of CMF’s diverse constituencies, and much to relish.

# # #

Subscription tickets will be available starting early in March, with single tickets going on sale April 1. See the CMF Web page for details as they become available.

# # #

2015 Season Program
All Concerts in Chautauqua Auditorium unless otherwise indicated

Week 1

10 a.m. Friday, June 26, and Saturday, June 27
Young People’s Concerts, program TBD
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 1: Opening Night, Welcome Jean-Marie!
Festival Orchestra, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Marie-Nicole Lemieux, contralto, and Timothy Orr, speaker
Debussy: La Mer
Ravel: Shéhérazade
Rossini: Arias from Trancredi and Semiramide
Respighi: Pines of Rome
7:30 p.m. Friday, July 3: An Evening with Olga Kern
Olga Kern, piano
Beethoven: Variations on a Theme by Salieri, WoO 73
Charles-Valentin Alkan: Etude No. 3
Chopin: Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor
Rachmaninoff: Twelve Preludes

Week 2

7:30 p.m. Monday, July 6, First Congregational Church: Piano Chamber Music
Musicians of the CMF
Dvorák: Piano Quartet
Schumann: Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 7: Music Mash-Up, Bartók + Bjork
Steve Hackman, conductor, with singers TBA
Hackman: Bartók + Bjork Mash-Up (World Premiere)
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 9, and Friday, July 10: Tchaikovsky and the Grammys
Festival Orchestra, David Danzmayr, conductor, with Terrence Wilson, piano
Lee Actor: Opening Remarks (Colorado premiere)
Michael Daugherty: Deus ex Machina (Colorado premiere)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5
7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 12: An Evening in Vienna
Chamber Orchestra, David Danzmayr, conductor, with Alexandra Soumm, violin
Schubert: German Dance in D major (arr. Anton Webern)
Mozart: Violin Concerto in D major, K.218
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2

Week 3: Cellobration Mini-Festival

4 & 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 14, First Congregational Church: Complete Bach Suites for solo cello
Bjorn Ranheim and Guy Fishman, cello
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 16, and Friday, July 17: Impossible Dreams
Festival Orchestra, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Desmond Hoebig, cello
Wagner: Prelude to Tristan und Isolde
Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet Suite No. 2
Richard Strauss: Don Quixote
4 & 8 p.m. Saturday, July 18, First Congregational Church: Complete Beethoven cello sonatas
Musicians of the CMF
7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 19: Monday July 20 in Estes Park
Chamber Orchestra, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Julie Albers, cello
Mozart: Overture to The Marriage of Figaro
Haydn: Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
Mozart: Symphony No. 31 in D major (“Paris”)

Week 4

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 21: Music Mash-Up, Copland + Bon Iver Featuring SHEL
Steve Hackman, conductor
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 23, and Friday, July 24: Beyond Fairy Tales
Festival Orchestra, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Krisztina Szabo, soprano, and Gabor Bretz, bass-baritone
Stravinsky: The Firebird Suite (1919 version)
Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle (In Hungarian with English supertitles)
7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 26; Monday July 27 in Estes Park: Sounds of the Mediterranean
Chamber Orchestra, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Ana Vidovic, guitar
Benet Casablancas: Festive Overture (North American premiere)
Joaquin Rodrigo: Concierto d’Aranjuez
Vivaldi: Guitar Concerto in D major, RV.93
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4 (“Italian”)

Week 5

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, First Congregational Church: Chamber Music for Strings
Musicians of the CMF
Brahms: Sextet for Strings in G major
Schoenberg: Verklärte Nacht
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 30, and Friday, July 31: John Fielder’s Colorado
Festival Orchestra, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5
Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”)
Performed with projected images by photographer John Fielder
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1: A Little Nightmare Music
Igudesman & Joo
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2; Monday, Aug. 3 in Estes Park: Nature’s Tableaux
Chamber Orchestra, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Calin Lupanu, violin
Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Boreades
Charles Ives: Symphony No. 3
Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
Haydn: Symphony No. 73 in D major (“The Hunt”)

Week 6

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4: Music Mash-Up, The Crazy Arc of Love with Storm Large
Steve Hackman, Storm Large & Le Bonheur
7:30 pm. Thursday, Aug. 6, and Friday, Aug. 7: Trading Places
Festival Orchestra, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Marc-André Hamelin, piano
Bernstein: Overture to Candide
Ravel: Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
George Antheil: Jazz Symphony (1955 version)
George Gershwin: An American in Paris
Darius Milhaud: A Frenchman in New York
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 8, First Congregational Church: Chamber Music for winds and piano
Musicians of the CMF
Samuel Barber: Summer Music
Walter Piston: Wind Quintet
Beethoven: Quintet for piano and winds
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9: A Royal Finish
Chamber Orchestra, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Sarah Coburn, soprano, and the Colorado Festival Chorus
Mozart: Ave Verum Corpus
Mozart: Exsultate Jubilate
Mozart: Regina Coeli K.108
Handel: Zadok the Priest
Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks
Handel: Excerpts from Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day

Edited Feb. 27 for minor corrections in the program, consistency between the program listing and the text of the article, and to insert the date of the announcement.

Edited March 1 to correct the title of Milhaud’s Frenchman in New York.

One thought on “Jean-Marie Zeitouni will lead Colorado Music Festival and audiences on “a journey together”

  1. Pingback: New CMF music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni: “Don’t call me maestro!” | Sharps & Flatirons

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