Nov. 1 concert will feature music by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel and Felix Mendelssohn
By Peter Alexander Oct. 30 at 10:50 a.m.
The next live stream of a CU campus concert by the Takács Quartet will be available to the public worldwide.
This is a change from their previous concerts this fall, which, due to contractual restrictions, were made available online only to prior subscribers to their CU performances. In this case, they will again be performing from the stage of an otherwise empty Grusin Hall in the Imig Music Building, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1.
Virtual admission may be purchased through the CU Presents Web page. The performance will remain available online to ticket purchasers through 11 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29.
The program will comprise three works by Felix Mendelssohn and his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Fanny’s String Quartet in E-flat major and Felix’s string quartets No. 6 in F minor, op. 80, and No. 2 A minor, op. 13.
The Takács Quartet will play two more online concerts from Grusin Hall this season, Jan. 10–11 and April 11–12, 2021. If conditions allow, those concerts will be performed before a live audience and single tickets will be sold as available. If live performances are deemed not to be safe, online access will only be available to previous season ticket holders.
The same will be true for a guest concert by the Jupiter String Quartet, March 7–8, 2021. Their concert was originally scheduled in October, and was postponed due to the pandemic.
The Takács Quartet has not announced their programs for the spring. The Jupiter String Quartet, which is the resident string quartet at the University of Illinois, will perform music by Mendelssohn, Schubert and Michi Wiancko.
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Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: String Quartet in E-flat Major Felix Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80 String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13
4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1: Live stream from Grusin Hall on the CU Boulder campus (program available through 11 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29)
Four operas, to be played for 30–80% capacity houses
By Peter Alexander Oct. 26 at 9:15 p.m.
The Santa Fe Opera (SFO) has an advantage these days over most other summer opera festivals: they perform outdoors.
In the time of COVID, of course, outdoors is the safest place to be. That fact made it easier for SFO to plan for the coming season.
“The single greatest advantage that we have given the challenges of the coronavirus is that that we are an outdoor venue,” Robert Meya, the SFO’s general director, says.“ Even if we have to reduce our social distancing way down, it’s still going to be a lot safer than any indoor theater.”
Meya announced the summer 2021 season in an online press conference Oct. 21. The season will be reduced—four operas instead of the usual five—to decrease crowding on the grounds of the SFO during rehearsals and work hours for backstage crews. The four operas on the schedule provide an interesting variety of styles, with one each from the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
The season will comprise Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream—ideal for an outdoor summer venue!—and the world premiere of The Lord of Cries by John Corigliano and Mark Adamo. All four had been part of the long-term plan for the coming summer.
A fifth opera that calls for a very large chorus and many extras would have been next to impossible to produce with safe distancing of cast and crew, and was dropped from the schedule.
It was important to preserve as much of the 2021 schedule as possible because of contractual commitments by the SFO. “Most of the contracts had been issued,” Meya explains. “Certainly verbally, we had agreements with all of the artists for that season.”
All of the productions planned for 2020 have been moved to 2022 or ‘23, including the world premiere of M Butterfly by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang, the return of Wagner to the SFO with Tristan und Isolde, and the company’s first production ever of Dvořák’s Rusalka. “Because we wanted to preserve all of these projects, we had to leapfrog over 2021,” Meya says.
“We were able to save all five projects by slotting them into ‘22 and ‘23. That created a little bit of a domino effect, because we had those plans laid out. We had already built three of these (2020) productions. In March [they were] almost ready to go on stage.”
The dates of those future performances postponed from 2020 will be announced later. “I’m hoping we can go forward with the season announcement for 2022 this coming spring, in the normal pattern of announcing about 14 months out,” Meya says. Stay tuned.
Of the four operas slated for 2021, the premiere of The Lord of Cries is sure to attract the most attention from the opera world. The 17th world premiere at the SFO, The Lord of Cries is based on two classic works of literature, The Bacchae by Euripides and Dracula by Bram Stoker.
According to the description in the SFO’s news release, “Separated by 24 centuries, The Bacchae and Dracula tell virtually the same timeless story, with the same subversive message: We must honor our animal nature lest it turn monstruous and destroy us. The Lord of Cries begins with a strange, androgynous god returning to earth to offer a mortal three chances to ‘ask for what you want’ or risk the consequences. He materializes in Victorian England in the guise of the eponymous ‘Lord of Cries,’ . . . the irresistible antihero of Dracula.”
The Lord of Cries is the second opera by Pulitzer Prize winner Corigliano, after his 1991 Metropolitan Opera commission, The Ghosts of Versailles. Librettist Mark Adamo is himself a composer who wrote librettos for his own operas, including the 2013 Gospel of Mary Magdalene, which was revised in 2017 for a “CU NOW” workshop production in Boulder.
Ticket information and full information on all four operas, including casts and synopses, is available on the SFO Web page.
The SFO’s various health strategies, for artists, staff and the public, have been worked out in partnership with CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, as well as a Reopening Advisory Group comprised of SFO Board members, staff, and public health experts. Steps to protect the health of the public during the 2021 season include seating reduced to between 30 and 80 percent of capacity, depending on conditions; ticketless entry and staggered arrival times; electrostatic disinfection of high traffic areas; and enhanced ventilation and air purification in elevators and restrooms.
The usual preview dinners and backstage tours will not take place, and the SFO Cantina, a popular gathering place before performances, will be closed. Tailgating picnics will still be permitted in the parking lot, with appropriate distancing.
Protecting the health of the artists and others working at the SFO is both a high priority and a complex challenge. Meya explains the steps that will be taken: “The musicians in the orchestra, all of the singers, and of course that includes our apprentices who comprise our chorus—[everyone] rehearsing and performing in close proximity is going to be quarantined upon arrival in the state for 14 days. During that same period they will receive the CCR test as well as the antibody test.
“Once they’re admitted to rehearse on campus, we will have frequent [testing]. All the singers, musicians and apprentices will be tested three times weekly, the backstage crew who can still socially distance to some degree will be tested two times weekly, and everyone else on campus will be tested once weekly.
“Those tests will be the rapid test. We are actually in the process of sourcing those—something like 12,000 tests. We will do the tests on site. We’ll set up a testing station [with] six machines that are going to be running approximately seven hours a day, six days a week with three operators, in order to conduct something like 1000 tests per week.”
In addition to those precautions, the SFO campus is mostly outdoors, with open air rehearsal spaces. But of course the visiting artists and their families will be out in the community as well. “We’re going to ask all of those people to sign a stringent out-of-workplace agreement about what they’re not going to do, like go to bars or restaurants.”
The Santa Fe Opera is one of the very first summer operas to announce full details for their 2021 season. Central City announced long ago that they would move their entire 2020 schedule to 2021, but details of health precautions have not been released. Opera Theater of St. Louis announced Oct. 19—two days before SFO—that they will proceed with an open-air, socially distanced 2021 season.
Considering the dangers posed by the coronavirus, Meya feels very fortunate that the SFO is operating in its unique environment. “We are in that environment that is the perfect marriage of nature and art,” he says. “We’re in such a fortunate position in so many ways. We’re determined to put on a season, and we have been able to announce with a good deal of confidence.
“I feel very positive that we can make this happen and that we can do it safely.”
Next Tuesday’s program offers works by Karol Szymanowski, György Kurtág and Fauré.
By Izzy Fincher Oct. 22 at 5:20 p.m.
CU-Boulder’s Grusin Hall is usually packed on Tuesday nights. Clusters of people gather, chatting and laughing, filling the hall with a pre-concert energy.
They are here for Faculty Tuesdays, a free concert series featuring CU faculty, which runs from September to March.
Now on Tuesday nights, Grusin Hall sits mostly empty. But the Faculty Tuesdays series continues through livestreaming. Without an in-person audience, only the performers, a stagehand and the crew of audio technicians remain.
“At CU, we have this wonderful community of people who come to Faculty Tuesdays,” Alejandro Cremaschi, professor of piano pedagogy, says. “I hope that they feel like we are back together after not having live performances for a while. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than not having anything.”
Cremaschi performed for the first Faculty Tuesdays concert on Sept. 1 with pianist Jéssica Pacheco. Their program featured female composers from the Americas.
Performing safely under social distancing protocols required flexibility. Pacheco and Cremaschi had to play four-hand works on two separate pianos, a challenging experience with fewer visual cues. For the livestream, with up-close cameras and mics rather than a distant live audience, Cremaschi had to tone down his loud announcement voice.
“I am used to speaking from the stage with a voice that projects,” Cremaschi says. “With the microphone, I was yelling so loud that the recording technicians changed the microphone to something that was less live.”
Yet, for Cremaschi, who hadn’t performed live since March at the time, his Faculty Tuesdays livestream was exciting.
“Even though we didn’t have an audience, we play differently when we are doing it for real,” Cremaschi says. “Jéssica loves being on stage, and I love that too. We sound better when we are playing for real. It was nice to have that feeling and energy coming from her. If I had been playing by myself, that would have been really hard.”
Pianist David Korevaar is also excited for his upcoming Faculty Tuesdays livestream. He will perform on the Oct. 27 concert, “Signs, Games + Messages,” which will feature works by Karol Szymanowski, György Kurtág and Fauré.
The performance of “Signs, Games + Messages” has been postponed for years. In 2016, Korevaar, David Requiro, Harumi Rhodes and Geraldine Walther, former violist of the Takács Quartet, planned to play this program for Faculty Tuesdays, but that concert fell through.
Now in 2020, the concert will finally happen with three original collaborators, Korevaar, Requiro and Rhodes, plus Richard O’Neill, the Takács Quartet’s new violist in place of Walther. Korevaar calls it “long postponed, joyful music-making.”
Korevaar will play on two of the three pieces: Szymanowski’s Mythes, op. 30, and Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, op. 45. Mythes is a virtuosic duet for violin and piano, filled with symbolism, extended tonalities and rich harmonies.
While isolated in Poland during World War I, Szymanowski turned to ancient Greek culture and drama for inspiration. Composed in 1915, Mythes shows this influence in the three movements: “I. La Fontaine d’Aréthuse,” “II. Narcisse” and “III. Dryades et Pan.”
“It’s an extraordinarily beautiful piece that isn’t done a lot in public because it is also extraordinarily difficult,” Korevaar says. “It’s a scary score to read, but it’s fun to play with a great musician. I am having a wonderful time.”
Korevaar also looks forward to Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2. The quartet, premiered in 1887, is a somber, complex work, marking a departure from Fauré’s First Piano Quartet, which was pleasantly simple and conventional. Cyclical themes, filled with rhythmic and melodic development, build and return throughout the later work. Aaron Copland described it as “mature work [that] shows the composer less carefree, less happy, more serious, more profound.”
For Korevaar, the rehearsal process has been largely the same as pre-COVID-19, though with increased distance between players. Masks are a bit more of a challenge—without facial expression cues, the musicians must rely on each other’s movements and gestures.
“(In chamber music,) we do a lot with eyes, with body motions, with the sense of breathing, which doesn’t mean we have to see the breathing apparatus,” Korevaar says. “It’s a whole-body thing.”
This will be Korevaar’s third livestream this fall, after a solo livestream and a duo livestream with violinist Charles Wetherbee in mid-October. He is still getting used to the experience. He says he feels more self-critical in front of cameras and misses the live audience’s energy. However, he finds the energy from other musicians makes the livestream more comfortable, and he looks forward to next Tuesday’s performance.
“It’s a new adventure,” Korevaar says. “In a livestream, you don’t have the opportunity to fix stuff, but you get the same self-consciousness about the bloopers. With chamber music, it’s easier because there is mutual energy, and everybody is working together.”
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Signs, Games + Messages Harumi Rhodes, violin, Richard O’Neill, viola, David Requiro, cello, and David Korevaar, piano Streamed from CU-Boulder’s Grusin Hall
Karol Szymanowski: Mythes, Op. 30 György Kurtág: Signs, Games and Messages Fauré: Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, Op. 45
7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27, on CU Presents
See all remaining Faculty Tuesday performances here.
The Boulder Philharmonic successfully launched their 2020-21 season of online concerts, “2020-21 Reimagined,” last night (Oct. 17).
Or should I say the season took flight, since the performance was recorded in an airplane hangar at boulder Municipal Airport? The stream, which premiered at 7:30 p.m., will remain available for the next two weeks to people who hold tickets.
To allow for responsible safety precautions, the program was entirely music for strings—string players can wear masks—and a small ensemble—if too many are spaced too far apart, the players cannot see and hear one another. Music director Michael Butterman lead the group in three pieces: Strum by Jesse Montgomery; the Simple Symphony of Benjamin Britten; and Max Richter’s recomposition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,
In addition to being written for strings, the pieces have another feature in common: like the season, each work has been reimagined in some way. Strum was first written for string quintet, then string quartet, and lastly for string orchestra. Britten mined pieces he wrote as a child for the themes of his Simple Symphony. And post-minimalist composer Richter has created a striking tapestry of music taken from one of the most popular works of the Baroque era, sometimes played as Vivaldi wrote it, sometimes manipulated rhythmically, harmonically, or in other more subtle ways.
The performances were what we would expect from the Boulder Phil: all at a professional level, played with commitment and expression. I don’t want to go much beyond that in reviewing the performance, however, since so much of what you hear depends on the equipment you use. Just like a play that is turned into a film, this product represents a separate medium from a live concert, one that that meets the viewer/listener on both the visual and aural levels.
I experienced the concert from a desktop iMac with Logitech Z4 speakers, including a woofer. These are moderately good speakers, certainly much better than what you will hear from built-in sound sources on most desktop or laptop computers, much less tablets or (God forbid!) your smartphone.
I was surprised that the lower pitches came through very well. A short passage by principal cellist Charles Lee was the richest and warmest sounding solo of the program. The sound of the violins, and particularly concertmaster Charles Wetherbee as soloist for Richter/Vivaldi, thinned out as it got higher on the instrument. While not precluding full enjoyment of the music, this does point to the limits of the online concert medium.
A word about the visual presentation: as the Phil’s first online production, I thought the concert was very successful. There were strategically placed cameras giving good visual variety, with closeups of individual players as well as longer shots that made good use of the props available in an airplane hangar (pun intended; I promise, no more aviation jokes).
For the Britten performance, there were closed captions available with information about the piece being played. This was presented as an experiment; I hope it is one that will be repeated with more sophisticated captions. Perhaps a little more explanation of the musical terms would be useful for the many members of the audience who do not have the advantage of years in music school. How many, for example, know the significance of the relative major key? Maybe online music theory lessons will be next.
The introductions by Butterman, a conversation between Butterman and Wetherbee, and an introduction to her piece by composer Jesse Montgomery were nice supplements to the performance. Here, the video medium has the advantage over the concert hall: the communication seems more intimate and more personal than in Macky Auditorium.
Montgomery opened the program by introducing her piece, which is, as she said, full of rhythmic drive and clear melodies. Strum is enjoying a run of popularity, likely because it is a well crafted and enjoyable piece to hear, because it can be played by the kind of small ensemble that is easily featured in streaming concert, and—let’s be honest—because as an African-American woman, Montgomery is a composer that orchestras are happy to add to their repertoire in 2020.
Britten’s Simple Symphony—which is not, as Butterman said in spoken program notes, all that simple to play—is infrequently played on symphony programs. It was refreshing to hear it instead of the usual orchestral fare.
Richter/Vivaldi is both familiar and disorienting. There is much pure Vivaldi, or almost-Vivaldi. But then there are sudden turns, with unexpected harmonies, or most fun to hear, uneven meters. Wetherbee seemed too have mastered his part, although he said it takes extra concentration, because it is often so close to music that is familiar to his fingers.
This concert was definitely up my lonely little alley. I’m the kind of listener who would rather hear something new and unexpected than another familiar classical piece. I am looking forward to both the repertoire, and the visual production of the remainder of the Boulder Phil season.
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Season listing with links to purchase tickets can be found here.
Program features works by Vivaldi/Richter, Britten and Jesse Montgomery
By Izzy Fincher Oct. 14 at 3 p.m.
A reimagined season for the Boulder Philharmonic will begin with a night of reimagined music, recorded in a hangar at the Boulder Municipal Airport.
The first concert, “Vivaldi Recomposed,” will feature modern composers’ reworkings of iconic compositions and their own works. The concert will be available beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.
“[This concert] is really emblematic of everything we are doing this year,” Michael Butterman, music director of the Boulder Phil, says. “We have an unusual season that is reimagined, reinvented and adapted.”
The program is centered around Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons,a 13-movement work inspired by Vivaldi’s famous set of concertos. Using about one-quarter of Vivaldi’s original material, Richter develops short, iconic motifs through looping and phasing, showing his minimalistic and postmodernist style. The re-composition is “very familiar but with a twist that is new and fresh,” Butterman says.
“Richter takes the same music, but he rescores it and repeats it with different harmonies and accompaniment,” concertmaster Charles Wetherbee says. “Sometimes he takes blocks of music that we know very well and suddenly throws in a bar of 7/8. That can be really mind-bending. It is very familiar yet completely not.”
The rest of the program also links to the theme of reimagining. Jesse Montgomery expanded her own composition Strum, originally written for the Catalyst Quartet, to a version for string orchestra. In Strum, the orchestra builds dynamic textures through pizzicato, layered rhythms and ostinatos.
“Strum is really attractive. It’s rhythmically driven with just enough tunefulness to be very listenable and fascinating,” Butterman says.
In his Simple Symphony, Britten expanded eight short themes, which he composed as a child, into a piece for string orchestra. The four movements, “Boisterous Bourrée,” “Playful Pizzicato,” “Sentimental Saraband” and “Frolicsome Finale,” have nostalgic titles, reminiscent of childhood. Simple Symphony is one of Britten’s more conservative works stylistically, showing his early neoclassical influences.
Vivaldi Recomposed was the first concert the Boulder Phil recorded at the airport in late September. After two rehearsals the first day, they had a dress rehearsal and recording session the next day. Over the next two weeks, they recorded five more concerts with equally quick turnaround.
“You just got through this recording session, but you know you need to be back the next morning with a brand new program that would be recorded in less than 48 hours,” Butterman says. “It was a lot to stay on top of.”
“It was not easy to have that many programs in your fingers, in your brain, in your heart,” Wetherbee says. “It takes a lot to assimilate that much all at once and to play it with conviction. It was a very compressed way to work.”
While recording Vivaldi Recomposed, Wetherbee found it challenging to maintain the energy of a live performance without an audience, in the middle of an airport hangar.
“We didn’t have the energy of being in the hall like a live concert,” Wetherbee says. “You hear the audience move around in their seats, applaud or draw their breath in at the end of an exciting movement. When you are playing for cameras, there is none of that energy.
“I had to guard against the feeling that it is sterile, that you are just in a studio. In a recording, you worry about every note being perfect. In a live performance, you don’t have to worry about every note. You have to worry about the energy and about what you want to say.”
For the Boulder Phil’s first virtual concert, Butterman and Wetherbee hope the audience will enjoy the visual experience, which will be more immersive than a live concert. “I am pretty excited about the visuals,” Butterman says.
“The setting of the airport with the different camera angles and close ups is going to be fun. Through the use of the cameras, people are going to feel like they are in the mix. I hope they feel that they are drawn into the concert.”
“There’s no way [a virtual concert] replaces the live experience,” Wetherbee adds. “Yet, we are moving toward slightly different art form, to be enjoyed for its own ends.”
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Vivaldi Recomposed Michael Butterman, conductor Charles Wetherbee, violin
Jesse Montgomery: Strum Benjamin Britten: Simple Symphony Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons
Stream available from 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 You may purchase access here.
Solo piano and violin-piano duo programs will be free online
By Peter Alexander Oct. 13 at 11:30 p.m.
It has become a streaming world for musicians and audiences alike. As the summer of COVID turns into fall, pianist David Korevaar and violinist Charles Wetherbee from the CU Boulder College of Music are keeping the stream flowing.
Over the summer the duo did a series of four concerts under the auspices of the Snake River Music Festival, and Korevaar did a celebrated series of streamed performances from his home of all 32 piano sonatas and other works by Beethoven. And now they will add new chapters, both Korevaar individually and the two together.
Korevaar will play a solo recital at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct 15, which will be livestreamed from Schmitt Music in Denver. The program will be all works by Black composers from the early 20th century, starting with Cameos by the English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Korevaar will also play three works by African-American composers: In the Bottoms Suite by R. Nathaniel Dett, the Piano Sonata in E minor by Florence Price, and the Spiritual Suite by Margaret Bonds.
The streamed concert by Korevaar and Wetherbee has already been recorded and will be available on Wetherbee’s YouTube channel starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16. The works on their joint program are all based on folk sources from different parts of the world, as organized into traditional Western concert forms: Three pieces from Ruralia Hungarica by Ernst von Dohnányi, the Violin Sonata No 3 by George Enescu, Sueños de Chambi by Gabriela Lena Frank, and the Romanian Folk Dances by Béla Bartók.
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Korevaar’s program comes entirely from outside the canonical European repertoire of concert pianists. “What we’re looking at [during the pandemic] is an opportunity—an opportunity to expand,” Korevaar says. “For me, it’s a beginning of something bigger in terms of my own explorations of repertoire that I don’t know.”
Korevaar finds unique qualities in each of the composers and works on the program. “The Coleridge-Taylor miniatures represent something that’s typical of English music of the period. The pieces are called ‘Cameos,’ and the title gives you a sense of the atmosphere. He wrote a lot of shorter piano pieces, and these are typical of that. They are charming,”
Dett was a Canadian-born composer who immigrated to the U.S. “He ends up settling in the South and absorbing the culture, as an outsider,” Korevaar says. “He’s a good composer and a person of amazing curiosity. I’m excited because it’s new to me. I knew his name, I didn’t know his music.
“In the Bottoms Suite is probably his best known piano work. The last movement, the ‘Juba Dance,’ was one of his great hits and was arranged for every possible combination.”
As a composer Price was strongly influenced by Dvořák and his visit to America, although her musical roots were in the Black community where she grew up. “The Sonata [uses] spirituals and the music of the Black church that she was very familiar with, putting that into this very European container, the sonata,” Korevaar says. “It’s really interesting.
“Margaret Bonds was a protege of Price [who] ended up being very much associated with the Harlem Renaissance. The piece I’m playing, Spiritual Suite, is a set of fantasy variations on three different spirituals or traditional songs, which she does a beautiful job with.”
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Friday’s duo recital is a continuation of a series of performances that started over the summer as part of the Snake River Festival. In all of their performances this year, Korevaar says, “we’re really trying to work with composers from underrepresented groups.”
In this case the composers are slightly better known than in Korevaar’s solo program, although most of the works are not. In fact, all but one—the Bartók Romanian Folk Dances—were new to Wetherbee.
“The program was built around two pieces that I wanted to learn, the Enesco Third Violin Sonata and Sueños de Chambi by Gabriela Lena Frank,” he explains. “Although they are different in many ways, they are both built firmly on the foundation of folk music.
“In the case of the Enescu, [it’s] this Romanian Gypsy style that Enescu grew up playing himself. The musical language, the gestures, the harmony and the mannerisms are drawn from Romanian folk traditions.”
Wetherbee and Korevaar both find the sonata to be a serious challenge, reflecting the fact that Enesco himself was a virtuoso pianist and violinist.
Frank grew up in Berkeley, Calif., but she often draws on the music of her mother’s native Peru. Her Sueños de Chambi (Dreams of Chambi), subtitled “an Andean photo album,” was inspired by the work of photographer Martín Chambi who documented the customs and festivals of 20th-century Peru.
“What’s very interesting is that [Frank] often has the violin imitate indigenous instruments, including the flutes,” Wetherbee says. “You get some really unusual and beautiful sounds.”
To frame the two major works of the program, Wetherbee and Korevaar selected two collections of shorter pieces that take eastern European folk music—Hungarian in the case of Dohnányi and Romanian in the case of Bartók—and create easily accessible concert music.
“I do hope that people will not be scared off by works that are all unfamiliar,” Wetherbee says. “ It’s a really beautiful and compelling program.
“These are works that I’d like to play many, many times.”
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6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 David Korevaar, piano Livestream from Schmitt Music, Denver
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Cameos R. Nathaniel Dett: In the Bottoms Suite Florence Price: Sonata in E Minor Margaret Bonds: Spiritual Suite
Concert will introduce new concertmaster and associate concertmaster
By Peter Alexander Oct. 8 at 1:05 p.m.
The Longmont Symphony opens its fall 2020 half season of online concerts, “(Re)Sounding,” Sunday, Oct. 11. Music director Elliot Moore will conduct a program of music for strings, featuring Bach’s popular Concerto in D minor for two violins and orchestra —widely known as the “Bach Double Concerto.”
The soloists will be orchestra’s new concertmaster and associate concertmaster, Benjamin Ehrmentraut and Kina Ono. Other works on the program are three string serenades by Mozart, written when the composer was 16.
Because of limitations imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic, Moore says, “I decided to pick music that I felt could be rehearsed and performed in one day. To this end, I’ve picked some of my favorite Mozart divertimenti that I listened to during quarantine. They’re also called his Salzburg symphonies.
“I wanted to also feature our new concertmaster and associate concertmaster as soloists. So they will be performing the Bach Double Violin Concerto.”
The concert will be recorded in the Longmont Museum’s Stewart Auditorium for later broadcast on the LSO’s YouTube channel and on Longmont’s Public Media (LPM) channel. The recording will be engineered by LPM. The premiere broadcast of the first concert will be shown at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, and will be available for a period of time afterwards.
Ehrmantraut, a native of Bismarck, N.D., began musical studies at age 9. He received a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and a master’s degree from CU, Boulder, studying with violinist Károly Schranz, who played second violin tin the Takács Quartet for 43 years. Before moving to Colorado, Ehrmantraut played with the Fargo/Moorhead and Bismarck/Mandan symphony orchestras.
He currently plays with the Boulder Symphony. Chamber music is another part of his career, including performing in at Dakota Chamber Music in North Dakota, in Vermont at the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, and in Texas at the Round Top Festival Institute.
Ono has played in professional orchestras in and near her home state of Minnesota. Since moving to Colorado, she has joined the Boulder Philharmonic, Boulder Symphony and the Cheyenne Symphony. In Minnesota she has performed at the Ordway Music Theater and Concert Hall, Orpheum Theater, Target Center, and Xcel Energy Center, and placed first in the 2016 Schubert Club Competition. She is currently a master’s of student at CU, Boulder. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, where she studied with Sally O’Reilly.
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Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor With Benjamin Ehrmantraut and Kina Ono, violins 4 p.m. Sunday, Oc. 11—online only
J.S. Bach: Concerto in D minor for two violins and orchestra, S1043 (“Double Violin Concerto”) Mozart: Divertimento in D major, K136 (“Salzburg Symphony No. 1”) Divertimento in B-flat major, K137 (“Salzburg Symphony No. 2”) Divertimento in F major, K138 (“Salzburg Symphony No. 3”)
Other concerts of the fall 2020 half season
“Los Angeles to Longmont” Caroline Campbell, violin Program tba 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25
“Seattle to Longmont” Nathan Lee, piano Program tba 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25
Handel’s Messiah, Solo Sections Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore, conductor With four vocal soloists to be named later Handel: Messiah solo pieces “Hallelujah” Chorus 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13
Half-season subscriptions and access to individual concert streams may be purchased here.
The hybrid season will offer livestream and limited in-person tickets.
By Izzy Fincher Oct. 7 at 4:50 p.m.
Amidst the turmoil of 2020, we can turn to music for comfort.
“Music has such a capacity to heal,” Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor of Pro Musica Colorado, says. “It has the capacity to comfort. It has the capacity to connect us, to remind us of our humanity, and to remind us of who we are.”
Katsarelis planned Pro Musica’s 2020-2021 season in response to the grief and suffering of 2020, hoping to offer comfort and healing to the audience through music.
“Usually we program a year or more in advance,” Katsarelis says. “But now with this season we can respond to what is going on in the world. We decided this season needed works that were healing, comforting and joyful discoveries.”
Katsarelis’ original plans for the season dissolved mid-summer. To comply with COVID-19 social distancing requirements, she had to find repertoire for strings without winds or vocalists. This reduced her options and forced her to look for local soloists on short notice. At that time, she also decided to offer the season as both a virtual and limited in-person experience.
The December program, originally planned to be Handel’s Messiah with the Boulder Chorale, was scrapped in favor of an all-strings program and a new soloist—Yumi Hwang-Williams, concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony. Katsarelis decided to open the concert with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Novellette No. 1 for string orchestra,a lesser-known work for musical discovery, before moving to familiar works by Vivaldi, Corelli and Dvořák to heal.
For February’s concert, “Rainbow Valentine,” Katsarelis also wanted to begin the program with new discoveries. First, Pro Musica will premiere a new work by Jordan Holloway, the winner of CU-Boulder’s Composition Competition. Then they will play Joseph Bologne’s Violin Concerto No. 9 with soloist Harumi Rhodes, the second violinist of the Takács Quartet, and finish with the comforting Serenade for String Orchestra by Tchaikovsky.
Katsarelis is most excited for the Bologne violin concerto and feels grateful that Rhodes agreed to perform it on short notice. “This violin concerto is swashbuckling,” she says.
“Harumi sets the room on fire when she opens her violin case, let alone when the bow comes to the string. The combination of this swashbuckling concerto and Harumi will be electric. It will pass through the internet to all those tuned in.”
For the final concert in May, aptly named “Springtime,” Pro Musica will collaborate with Nicolò Spera, director of CU’s classical guitar program, on a concerto (currently TBA). The program will also include Carter Pann’s Three Secrets in Maine and the chamber version of Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Katsarelis feels the works by Pann and Copland are distinctly American and will offer familiar sounds as the season’s final comforting gesture.
“Appalachian Spring is such a quintessential American piece,” she says. “It’s a good piece to play at this time. It’s a piece that reminds us who we are. It is an American work that speaks to the best of American culture.”
For those listening to concerts virtually, Katsarelis recommends working on a high-quality audio setup.
“People might want to get in touch with their inner audiophile,” Katsarelis says. “If they haven’t experimented with connecting their computer to decent speakers, now is the time. It would really enhance the listening experience.”
Beyond the three concerts, Pro Musica will also stay engaged with the Boulder community, particularly in local elementary schools, during the season. They will collaborate with Boulder MUSE, a non-profit organization that provides free music lessons for underprivileged children. Pro Musica’s string quartet will perform music by diverse composers, especially composers of color, from their previous season for young musicians at Columbine Elementary School and University Hill Elementary School.
For Pro Musica, issues of diversity and representation have always been important. Since their conception in 2007, Pro Musica has aimed to share “new voices from ethnically and racially diverse cultures,” according to their mission statement. This perspective is important with 2020’s focus on diversity. This season includes works by two black composers, Coleridge-Taylor and Bologne.
For Katsarelis, diversity in classical music is personally important. She is currently the only female conductor of a professional orchestra in Colorado.
“This is something I have done my entire career, going back to the mid-1990s,” she says. “It’s not new for me or for Pro Musica. We have been presenting music by female composers, composers of color and underrepresented voices. We have a mission of bringing forward voices that have been silenced unjustly.
“Artistic grounds alone are enough to bring this music forward. This is great music that has a lot to say to us and can really speak to our hearts.”
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Pro Musica Colorado 2020-2021 Season Limited tickets available for live performances Live-stream tickets available for Saturday night of each program
“Holiday Moods” Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with Yumi Hwang-Williams, violin
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Novellette No. 1 Corelli: Christmas Concerto Vivaldi: “Fall” and “Winter” from The Four Seasons Dvořák: Serenade for Strings
*7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, Broomfield Auditorium, Broomfield 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, First United Methodist Church, Boulder
“Rainbow Valentine” Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with Harumi Rhodes, violin
Jordan Holloway (CU Composition Competition winner): World Premiere Joseph Bologne: Violin Concerto No. 9 Tchaikovsky: Serenade for String Orchestra
Performance with Ivalas Quartet will be available online to prior Takács subscribers
By Peter Alexander Oct. 2 at 3:20 p.m.
The Takács Quartet will be entering familiar territory Sunday (Oct. 4) when they step onstage in Grusin Music Hall for one of their campus concerts.
But there won’t be an audience in the hall. The concert, and one scheduled for Nov. 1, will be streamed live for prior Takács season ticket holders. The concert will feature the Takács Quartet playing alone; the Ivalas Quartet, the current graduate quartet-in-residence at CU, playing alone; and the Takács and Ivalas players joining together as a string octet.
This will be only the Takács’s second campus concert since Richard O’Neill joined the quartet as violist, replacing the retired Geraldine Walther.
The program opens with the Takács playing Five Fantasiestücke, op. 5, by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a piece they have not played before. The Ivalas Quartet will play several short numbers: Strum by Jessie Montgomery; An Elegy: A Cry from the Grave by Carlos Simon; and two movements from Daniel Bernard Roumain’s String Quartet No. 5, “Rosa Parks.” Concluding the program will be a string octet arrangement of Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas brasileiras No.9.
The most notable feature of the program is the ethnic and racial diversity of the composers: African-English—Coleridge-Taylor; African-American—Montgomery and Simon; Haitian-American—Roumain; and Spanish-Brazilian— Villa-Lobos.
In this regard, the program also reflects the diversity of the Ivalas Quartet. One violinist is of mixed Danish/German and Ethiopian heritage and grew up in Des Moines, Iowa; the other violinist has American and French-Caribbean/African ancestors and grew up in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma; the cellist is Venezuelan; and the violist is from Southern California but has an Argentinian mother.
Members of the Takács Quartet are busy working to pull the program together, but first violinist Ed Dusinberre shared his thoughts by email. “This has been a time of reflection for us,” he wrote. “Over the summer we’ve been exploring works such as Coleridge Taylor’s extraordinary Fantasiestücke that to our shame we didn’t know previously.
“We always like to showcase our graduate quartet in different ways throughout their residency here. We can’t wait to play the Villa Lobos together and to hear Ivalas perform a variety of wonderful works that they feel passionately about.”
Not widely known today, Coleridge-Taylor was prominent in English musical life early in the last century. Known in the U.S. as “The African Mahler,” he had several successful tours of the U.S. before he died at 37.
In his program notes, Simon wrote that A Cry from the Grave, written in 2015, “is an artistic reflection dedicated to those who have been murdered wrongfully by an oppressive power; namely Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown.”
Roumain’s String Quartet No. 5 is dedicated to Rosa Parks, whose refusal to move to the back of a bus set off the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1956. Roumain, whose Haitian parents lived through the Civil Right movement in the U.S, wrote that he created the quartet “as a musical portrait of Rosa Parks’ struggle, survival and legacy. The music is a direct reflection of a dignified resistance.”
The Bachianas brasileiras are a series of nine suites by Villa-Lobos written for varying performance media. Each work aims to join Baroque compositional techniques to Brazilian musical material. Most of then are not well known in this country, although No. 5, for soprano and eight cellos, has achieved widespread popularity with classical audiences. The ninth of the series was originally written for chorus and string orchestra, and will be performed in an arrangement for string octet.
Performing into an empty hall might seem discomfiting, but Dusinberre says it is not that difficult for the players. “Of course it is an adjustment but compared with the challenges most people face during the pandemic, we feel very fortunate to have projects to work on at all,” he wrote. “We have become experienced at recording CDs over the years and to creating performance energy without a present audience.
“We hope our audience are staying safe. We are extremely grateful to CU Presents in being both sensible and innovative to find means by which we can still communicate with our loyal audience here.”
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Takacs and Ivalas string quartets Full program
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Five Fantasiestücke, op. 5 I. Prelude II. Serenade III. Humoresque IV. Minuet V. Dance
Jessie Montgomery: Strum Carlos Simon: An Elegy: A Cry from the Grave Daniel Bernard Roumain: String Quartet No. 5, “Rosa Parks” I. “I made up my mind not to move.” II. Klap Ur Handz
Heitor Villa-Lobos: Bachianas brasileiras No.9, W449, arranged for string octet I. Preludio, Vagaroso e Mistico II. Fuga (Pouco apressando)
Takács Quartet and Ivalas Quartet
The shared Takács/Ivalas concert will be live streamed at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, and will remain available through 11 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12. A second all-Mendelssohn program by the Takács alone will be live streamed at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, and will be available through 11 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9. These performance will be available online only to prior Takács subscribers. A decision is pending on Takács Quartet performance arrangements for the spring. ——————— NOTE: Subhead changed 10/3 to include Ivalas Quartet.