Exploring a new realm, Seicento offers “silly entertainment” March 16–18

Artistic director emeritus Evanne Browne returns to lead “Mad Madrigals

By Peter Alexander March 16 at 2:48 p.m.

Evanne Browne 009a Color

Evanne Browne

Evanne Browne, the artistic director emeritus of Seicento Baroque Ensemble, has returned to Colorado to conduct performances by Seicento Baroque Ensemble, the group she founded in 2011.

The program, titled “Mad Madrigals,” is one Browne had partially planned last year, before she left Seicento. After Browne moved from Boulder at the end of last season, Kevin Padworski was appointed to succeed her as artistic director.

When Padworksi was unable to conduct the concert scheduled for this weekend (March 16–18), Brown came to the rescue, flying from the east coast to take over leadership of performances scheduled in Denver, Boulder and Longmont. She will share the conducting duties with Amanda Balestrieri, Seicento’s associate artistic director.

In addition to the full Seicento chorus, members of the ensemble will be featured as soloists and in smaller groups. Additional musicians will be Paul Holmes Morton, theorbo; Sandra Miller, Baroque cello; Gerald W. Holbrook, harpsichord; Linda Lubeck, recorder; and Steve Winograd, recorder, pipe and tabor, and Morris bells.

Seicento 3

Seicento Baroque Ensemble

The program is well outside the usual repertoire of Seicento in the past, which has focused on major choral works of the Baroque period. The anchor work on the program, filling most of the second half, will be Festino nella sera del giovedì grasso avanti cena (Fête for the evening of Carnival Thursday before supper), a “madrigal comedy” by Adriano Banchieri.


Adriano Banchieri

This is the most famous of the many madrigal comedies written around the year 1600, including several by Banchieri. Like all madrigals, they were written to be sung by amateurs as informal entertainment, often after dinner, and they are generally filled with comic vignettes poking fun at social conventions and stereotypes.

“This is definitely silly entertainment,” Browne says. “I had come across Il Festino a number of years ago. To come across a set of things that are just plain silly, like the madrigal comedies are, was a way to balance what Seicento usually does. It’s very funny.”

For example. Brown mentioned one of Banchieri’s madrigals that has become popular among fans of Renaissance music: Contrapunto bestiale alla mente, or “The Animals sing in counterpoint.” Browne explains: “There is counterpoint for animal sounds. The (text) is ‘bau, bau,’ which is what the dogs say in Italy, and ‘miau, miau,’ and ‘chiu’ and ‘cucu, cucu,’ and the madrigal part is that it has a ‘fa-la-la’ chorus.”

It is the second half of the program that is filled with the silly madrigal comedies. The first half is a survey of madrigal and other informal vocal styles from around the 16th century. “There are some very, very beautiful pieces in the first half,” Browne says. “It will be musically sophisticated on the first half, very comic the second half.”

Musica TrasnsalpinaThe madrigal started as in-home entertainment in Italy but it was spread to England in 1588. In that year an important book, Musica Transalpina (Music from across the alps), was published in London containing Italian madrigals with their texts translated into English. This started a craze for madrigals in England.

“The first half of the program is a view of madrigals starting out with Thomas Morley’s “Sing we and Chant It,” and the Italian version of that (from) Musica Transalpina, which got everybody intrigued and enamored by what was happening in Italy. We’re also doing some music by Monteverdi and Barbara Strozzi, who has become much more well known recently because she’s a female composer.”

Other works on the first half of the program include Gagliarda XI and a Prelude-Passacaglia pair by Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger for Chitarone (a bass lute also known as theorbo), which will be performed by Morton; a 15th-century French drinking song; and madrigals by Giles Farnaby, Jacques Arcadelt, and Luca Marenzio.

Browne stresses that the program touches only a tiny part of the madrigal repertoire. “In one account I read, there were 40,000 madrigals published before 1630!” she says.

“This will be entertainment, in a way we don’t know how to do any more—where you’re at home and pull out your madrigal books and sing one of the 40,000 madrigals! So the audience should be prepared for a completely different concert than we have done before.

“It’s going to be lots and lots of fun”

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“Mad Madrigals”
Seicento Baroque Ensemble
Evanne Browne, artistic director emeritus and conductor
Amanda Balestrieri, associate conductor

7:30 p.m. Friday, March 16, Montview Presbyterian Church, 1980 Dahlia St, Denver
7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 17, First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder
3 p.m. Sunday, March 18, First Evangelical Lutheran Church, 805 3rd Ave., Longmont



CU Eklund Opera Brings Sondheim’s “Demon Barber” to the Macky stage

Victorian production with a twist aims to make Sweeney Todd at least human

By Peter Alexander March 15 at 1:50 p.m.

Stephen Sondheim’s demon barber of Fleet Street is a hard character to like. He is after all a serial killer with a dark heart, but with a production of Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, Leigh Holman of CU’s Eklund Opera Program aims to make him likable.

At least a little.


Sklyer Schlenker (Sweeney Todd) and Erin Hodgson (Mrs. Lovett) in the CU Eklund Opera production of  Sweeney Todd. Photo courtesy CU Presents.

“I don’t want him to appear already as a villain” at the beginning of the show, she says. “I want to see a human being, and it’s not until he learns what (happened) to his wife that we start to see the change” into a calculated killer.

“I want to see that arc,” she says. “He’s an anti-hero that’s cutting throats, but somehow you find yourself on his side.”

The production of Sweeney Todd by CU’s Eklund Opera program, with Holman’s semi-likable anti-hero and the rest of the gory story, will take the Macky Auditorium stage this weekend, with performances Friday through Sunday (March 16–18). The cast and orchestra of CU students will be led by guest conductor Caleb Harris, a member of the Vanderbilt University faculty who is a sabbatical replacement for CU’s Nick Carthy.

Other artistic contributors to the production include set and lighting designer Peter Dean Back, costume designer Tom Robbins, chorus master Jeremy Reger and choreographer Stephen Bertles. In addition to CU students, the cast will include CU faculty Andrew Garland as Todd and guest artist and CU alumnus Wei Wu as Judge Turpin.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Sweeney Todd
Eklund Opera Program, University of Colorado, Boulder
Leigh Holman, director
Caleb Harris, conductor

7:30 p.m. Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17
2 p.m. Sunday, March 18
Macky Auditorium


More information available here.
View the full program here.

Takacs Quartet and guest Nicolò Spera will perform music for strings and guitar

‘I cannot wait,’ the guitarist says

By Peter Alexander March 10 at 1:30 p.m.


Guitarist Nicolò Spera. Photo courtesy of CU College of Music

Nicolò Spera is excited.

The guitarist and CU College of  Music faculty member will perform Sunday and Monday with the Takacs Quartet, and he’s really pumped for the occasion. “I’m not sleeping at night, because I know it’s going to be one of the most exciting, incredible musical experiences of my life,” he says. “I cannot wait!”

The Takacs has long made it a point to include CU music colleagues on their concerts. In the words of second violinist Karoly Schranz, “it feels like a family, the College of Music. We have such a close connection with the faculty, it’s always a great feeling to play with them.”

In addition to Spera, the Takacs has already appeared this year with tenor Matthew Chellis and pianist Andrew Cooperstock from the CU faculty, and later in the spring they will also host violist Erika Eckert and cellist David Requiro as guest artists.

The program for the March 10–11 concert includes two works for the quartet alone, Mozart’s String Quartet No. 21 in D major, K575, and Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, op. 131. Both are late works of the respective composers, and are among the great treasures of the repertoire.

With Spera, they will play portions of two different works: two movements from Boccherini’s Guitar Quintet in D major, known as the “Fandango” Quintet, and a movement from Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Quintet for Guitar and Strings.


Luigi Boccherini

Spera didn’t want to play only the Boccherini on the concert because he has played it so often. But the entire Castelnuovo-Tedesco Quintet was too long to fit with the rest of the Takacs program, so he and first violinist Ed Dusinberre came up with the idea of playing individual movements from the two pieces.

“As crazy as it may seem, it sort of makes sense, because they have a lot of things in common,” Spera says of the two quintets. “Boccherini and Castelnuovo-Tedesco both loved the guitar, even though they didn’t play it. They both wrote guitar quintets, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco was inspired by Boccherini to write his own.

“The pairing of Fandango Quintet and the second movement of Castelnuovo-Tedesco Quintet works very well, for two reasons. The most important one is that they’re both very Spanish sounding. Boccherini was in Spain when he wrote the Fandango Quintet, and Castelnuovo-Tedesco was from a Sephardic Jewish family from Spain. And the keys (of the movements) work too.”


Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

The movement by Castelnuovo-Tedesco is specifically about his family’s relationship with Spain. Titled Souvenir de España, it expresses the composer’s nostalgia for Spain when he was living in America, exiled from Europe by World War II. “It has the most beautiful theme which is introduced by the viola, and then one by one by all the members of the quartet, and then last you hear the voice of the guitar,” Spera says.

Returning to the subject of performing with the Takacs, Spera has one more thing he wants to say. “They are humble people, but for me they’re superstars. It’s a very humbling and very beautiful opportunity for me.”

Incidentally, the concert will be the final full performance by the Takacs with Schranz playing second violin. He announced his retirement earlier this year, effective May 1. He will be replaced by Harumi Rhodes, a member of the CU College of Music faculty.

For the Takacs Quartet’s final concert of the 2017–18 season, April 29–30, Schranz will play with the quartet for half of the concert, with Rhodes taking over second violin for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet, “Souvenir de Florence.” Eckert and Requiro will complete the ensemble for that work.

Both performances of the coming concert are listed as “sold out,” but there may be tickets available at the last minute from the box office in the lobby of the Imig Music Building.

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Takasce SQ

Takacs Quartet. Photo by Keith Saunders

Takacs Quartet with Nicolò Spera, guitar

Mozart: String Quartet No. 21 in D Major, K.575
Excerpts from Boccherini: Guitar Quintet in D Major, G.448; and
Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco: Quintet for Guitar and Strings, Op. 143
Beethoven: String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 131

4 p.m. Sunday, March 11
7:30 p.m. Monday, March 12
Grusin Hall, Imig Music Building

SOLD OUT; last minute seats may be available

EDITED March 11 to add the full name of cellist David Requiro, whose given name was inadvertently omitted in the original article.

Boulder Chorale seeks the space ‘Between Heaven and Earth,’ March 10-11

Program brings together Western choral music and classical Hindustani music

By Peter Alexander March 8 at 7 p.m.


Conductor Vicki Burrichter with Boulder Chorale. Photo by Bob Ross.

Boulder Chorale’s next exploration of diverse musical styles will bring sacred music from the Western tradition together with Hindustani music from north India and Nepal.

This is only the latest program where artistic director Vicky Burrichter has taken the Chorale beyond the canon of western choral music. Past performances have included Dave Brubeck’s jazz setting of the mass, a bluegrass mass, a “Brazilian Carnival” concert and tangos by Astor Piazzolla.

The latest program, “Between Heaven and Earth,” will be presented Saturday and Sunday (March 10 and 11). Burrichter will lead the performance, which will feature the full Boulder Chorale, the Boulder Chorale Chamber Singers, soloists from the Chorale, and the ensemble Jam key Jam.

“I wanted to do a program that occupied the space between our earthly experience and whatever lies beyond,” Burrichter says. “I looked to find composers and musical traditions that fit that category. Bach comes to mind first, but also Indian music is something that has always spoken to me.”

Burrichter started the program with composers across several centuries of the European tradition, from the 16th– and 17th-century Englishman William Byrd, to Bach, up to living composers including Gwyneth Walker, Eric Whitacre and Philip Glass. To expand the program further, she decided to bring in traditional north Indian music.

JAMkey Jam.3

Jam key Jam

“I wanted to put these two cultures together and find a real collaboration,” Burrichter says. She approached Bijay Shrestha, a sitar player from Nepal and co-founder of a musical group in Boulder called Jam key Jam. Based on the classical ragas of North India and the traditional music of Nepal, Jam key Jam also brings contemporary elements into their performances.

The collaboration will progress over the course of the concert, starting with the simple alternation of choral composition sung by the Chorale with Hindustani classical music played by Jam key Jam. At the end, the two groups will perform together.


Eliza Gilkyson

For the Chorale alone, the heart of the program will be three pieces that fall in the middle of the concert, starting with Requiem by folk musician/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson. Written after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Indonesia, the original piece was described by the composer as “a song of comfort.” It has been arranged for chorus by Craig Hella Johnson.

“No one can hear it and not be moved,” Burrichter says.

Next will be “Prayer” by René Clausen, a setting of a text by Mother Theresa extoling service. And closing this portion of the concert will be Dona nobis pacem (Give us peace) from J.S. Bach’s B-minor mass.


Susan Olenwine

Other pieces that explore the joining of music and spiritual experiences will include “Gitanjali Chants,” Johnson’s setting of a text by Rabindranath Tagore, and “Moon Art,” Adam Waite’s choral arrangement of music by Shrestha and Jam key Jam. Boulder Chorale accompanist Susan Olenwine will play a piano etude by Philip Glass, a practicing Tibetan Buddhist who has also studied Indian drumming.

The concert will end with three pieces that bring the Hindustani musicians and the chorale together. The first will be the theme from Game of Thrones, which Jam key Jam has arranged for their own performances. Waite, the minister of music at Montview Presbyterian Church in Denver, has written vocal parts for the Chorale to sing with Jam key Jam.

Next, they will collaborate for Waite’s arrangement of a traditional Hindustani raga, Raga Hansadhwani. For this performance, the Chorale had to learn tradition Hindustani musical syllables, or solfège—the equivalent of the familiar do-re-mi syllables used in Western music.


Bijay Shrestha

Shrestha mapped the way for the collaboration, Burrichter says. “When we were beginning to figure out the (Hindustani) solfège, I said ‘How do you want the vocal tone to sound?’ And he said, ‘I want you to do your Western choral thing, and I want us to do what we do and let’s meet in the middle.’

“That is a true collaboration. And his openness has created a beautiful thing that neither of us has experienced.”

The final work on the program will be definitely multi-cultural. The Boulder Chorale will sing “Tambourines,” a setting by Gwyneth Walker of a Langston Hughes poem, with Jam key Jam arranging their own parts to go with the performance.

Hughes’s poem celebrates the role of the tambourine in Black churches, which Burrichter sees as similar to the sacredness of musical instruments in Hindustani culture. “So we have a piece that ends with the sacred instruments of the Hindustani tradition combined with a sacred instrument of the African-American tradition,” she says.

“What we’re trying to create with this is a connection for everyone— to the person sitting next to you, to the music itself, to something beyond all of us.”

# # # # #



Boulder Chorale

“Between Heaven and Earth”
Boulder Chorale, Boulder Chorale Chamber Choir and soloists,
Vicki Burrichter, conductor
With Jam key Jam

7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 10
4 p.m. Sunday, March 11
Boulder Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 345 Mapleton Ave., Boulder


Edited March 8 at 8:15 p.m. to correct the spellings of Eliza Gilkyson and Bijay Shrestha and other minor typos.

Boulder Bach Festival returns to its central mission with four choral works

‘Four of the greatest soloists’ will be featured March 15

By Peter Alexander March 8, 4:40 p.m.

It will be back to basics for the Boulder Bach Festival.

ZC conducts chorus May 2017

Zachary Carrettin leading the Boulder Bach Festival orchestra and chorus. Photo courtesy of the Boulder Bach Festival.

Its next concert will return to the original focus of the festival by presenting choral works by J.S. Bach with soloists and orchestra. After several concerts featuring music by composers before and after Bach, and introducing various performance styles, the program will comprise four of Bach’s church cantatas: No. 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden; No. 50, Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft; No. 61, Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland; and No. 63, Christen, ätzet diesen Tag.

“All of these works have great arias, beautiful duets, riveting choruses and gorgeous orchestral writing,” Zachary Carrettin, the festival’s artistic director, says. “I love these four works, and I thought they would be fabulous on one program.”

Carrettin will conduct the Boulder Bach Festival Chorus and Orchestra, with soloists Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano; Abigail Nims, mezzo-soprano; Derek Chester, tenor; and Ashraf Sewailam, bass. “These are four of the greatest soloists we’ve programmed,” he says. “I couldn’t think of a better quartet of individuals to collaborate with our chorus and orchestra.”

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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“Eternal Spirit”
Boulder Bach Festival, Zachary Carrettin, artistic director
Bach Festival Orchestra and Chorus\
Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano
Abigail Nims, mezzo-soprano
Derek Chester, tenor
Ashraf Sewailam, bass

Four cantatas by J.S. Bach

7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15
Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 345 Mapleton Ave., Boulder



Boulder Piano Quartet: free concerts at The Academy, March 9 and May 4

First-rate performances of interesting repertoire

By Peter Alexander March 4 at 11:30 p.m.

The Boulder Piano Quartet is hidden in plain sight.


Boulder Piano Quartet

The group is made up of four well known, highly visible professionals from the front range area: violinist Charles Wetherbee and pianist David Korevaar from the CU College of Music, with violist Matthew Dane and cellist Thomas Heinrich. They present first-rate performances of interesting repertoire not often found on other concerts, and their concerts are free, making them the best chamber music deal you’ll find.

And yet they don’t have a very high profile, possibly because they don’t perform in the usual concert venues. Instead, they play at the Academy, a former girls’ school turned retirement community, which underwrites the concerts as enrichment for their residents. Performances are held in a former chapel, a large room with excellent acoustics, and are open to the public. Parking is easy to find in the neighborhood. Refreshments such as desserts or wine and cheese are provided at each performance.


The Academy in Boulder

In other words, there is no downside.

For the current season the BPQ has prepared four programs of which two remain, at 7 p.m. Fridays March 9 and May 4. The performance Friday of this week features music by Joaquin Turina, Pierre Jalbert and Dvořák. In May the program will comprise two large-scale late Romantic works by Zdenek Fibich and Richard Strauss.

Formed in the early 2000s, the quartet originally performed under the auspices of the Boulder Public Library. “We performed fairly regularly for a number of years, but around eight or nine years ago the library’s relationship with the performing arts was changing and things slowed down (for the quartet),” pianist David Korevaar explains.

ruth shanberge

Ruth Shanberge

More recently Ruth Shanberge, a patron of the arts and an Academy resident who passed away in 2017, arranged for Korevaar and violinist Charles Wetherbee to present chamber music at the Academy. That became the impetus to re-start the quartet.

“Ruth was all about music and its role in culture,” Korevaar says. “Bringing music to the Academy was an important mission for her. That’s why we are now in our third season of presenting concerts (there). This has been a wonderful arrangement for us, because the Academy has been very welcoming and supportive of what we do.”

The repertoire for piano quartet (violin, viola, cello and piano) is less well known than that for piano trio (violin, cello and piano). “It’s nothing like as rich as the trio repertoire,” Korevaar says, “but the quartet repertoire is extremely good. One of the things we’ve been trying to do is get outside of what would be standard for the piano quartet.”

The central works for piano quartet are two quartets by Mozart, plus three works by Brahms, one by Schumann and two by Dvořák. But as you move into the 20th century there are many more works to chose from, some of which are on the upcoming concerts.


Composer Pierre Jalbert

Of the works on Friday’s concert, Turina’s Piano Quartet was written in 1932, and Jalbert’s Secret Alchemy was premiered in 2012. The former is “a wonderful typical Turina piece, filled with Spanish bullfighter music,” Korevaar says. “It’s a wonderful piece. It’s not complex, it’s very attractive, and it’s beautifully put together and beautifully written for the ensemble. It’s quite fresh and it’s beautiful music.”

Jalbert currently teaches composition at Rice University and is known for his creative use of musical colors. The atmospheric movements of Secret Alchemy have suggestive titles, including “Mystical,” “Timeless, mysterious, reverberant” and “With great energy.”

The third piece on the program Friday is Dvořák’s First Piano Quartet. Even though it is one of the standard pieces for piano quartet, it is rarely performed. “A very beautiful piece, it does have some structural oddities,” Korevaar says. “The last movement is quite eccentric, but the music is beautiful, and it’s texturally very inventive. He does remarkable things in terms of each instrument and how he puts them together.”

The BPQ’s final concert of the spring will feature two works form the end of the 19th century, the Piano Quartet in E minor by Fibich and the Piano Quartet in C minor, an early work by Strauss. “That’s a very friendly program,” Korevaar says. ”It’s all this very central European kind of music. The gemütlickeit (warmth, or geniality) is very real, in the case of both of those pieces. So I think it’s an easy listening program.”

Of the two, the Strauss is the more difficult for the players. “Strauss likes to write to the extremes of all the instruments,” Korevaar says “As in his orchestral music, he’s interested in virtuosity. Everybody’s got a lot to do, and that makes it difficult to put together. But the music is wonderful.”

Although the Academy is a non-traditional location for concerts, Korevaar likes to play there. “It’s a slightly unconventional concert space, this former chapel in what was a girls’ school,” he says. “But it’s a wonderful space for chamber music. It’s a perfect large salon with a very high ceiling. The acoustics are very warm, and the strings sound great in that room.

“It’s a rewarding place to play, and there’s always a great ambience there.”

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Boulder Piano Quartet
Charles Wetherbee, violin
Matthew Dane, viola
Thomas Heinrich, cello
David Korevaar, piano

7 p.m. Friday, March 9
Chapel Hall, The Academy, 970 Aurora Ave. (entrance off 10th St.), Boulder
Joaquin Turina: Piano Quartet
Pierre Jalbert: Secret Alchemy
Antonin Dvořák: Piano Quartet No. 1 in D major
Admission is free, but audience members are asked to RSVP at 303-938-1920.

7 p.m. Friday, May 4
Chapel Hall, The Academy, 970 Aurora Ave. (entrance off 10th St.), Boulder
Zdenek Fibich: Piano Quartet in E minor
Richard Strauss: Piano Quartet in C minor
Admission is free, but audience members are asked to RSVP at 303-938-1920.