Concert with pianist Marcus Roberts Jan. 22 will also be streamed
By Peter Alexander Jan. 20 at 11 a.m.
The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra returns to Macky Auditorium Saturday (7:30 p.m., Jan. 22) for the first time in two years, with an all-Gershwin program.
Two works are featured: An American in Paris and the Piano Concerto in F, performed with the Marcus Roberts trio: Roberts, piano, Rodney Jordan, bass, and Jason Marsalis, drums. The same program will be presented Sunday at the Lone Tree Arts Center (1:30 p.m. Jan. 23). Tickets to both concerts, and for a live stream Saturday, are available through the Boulder Phil Web page.
While an all-Gershwin program is a little unusual for a symphony orchestra, “this is a nice way to get back to Macky” conductor Michael Butterman says. “A Gershwin celebration just feels festive.”
The Concerto harks back to a concert early in Butterman’s tenure with the orchestra, when Roberts and his trio played the Concerto in F. “I think it was my very first season,” Butterman says. “I remember that as one of the highlights of my time in Boulder, because it’s exciting to see the musicians of the orchestra so engaged.”
Takács Quartet, composer John Adams will be among the featured artists
By Peter Alexander Jan. 19 at 3 p.m.
The Colorado Music Festival (CMF) announced its 2022 festival season last night (Jan. 18) in an event live-streamed from the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.
During the hour-long event, music director Peter Oundjian introduced the concerts that are scheduled during the festival, planned for June 30–Aug. 7. “Every festival should be a celebration,” he said by way of introduction. “This is no exception. It’s a very eclectic series of programs.”
Also speaking remotely from his home in California was composer John Adams, who will be composer in residence during the festival. He will conduct parts of two concerts that feature his music, and he also helped Oundjian curate the “Music of Today” week, July 11–17, which will feature works by contemporary composers most of whom are still living.
The announced programs for the summer make good on Oundjian’s intention to make the festival a lively event that both honors the great works of the past and recognizes the music and composers of today. There have been times in the past when the CMF seemed unfocused and unadventurous, but under Oundjian’s leadership that has changed. Through thoughtful programming, the participation of figures like Adams and some remarkable young performers, the CMF is becoming an event worthy of broad attention.
As part of the emphasis on music of today, this year’s festival will include three premieres: the world premiere of a commissioned work by Timo Andres (July 14); the world premiere of Wang Jie’s Flying on the Scaly Backs of Our Mountains (Aug. 4); and the Colorado premiere of a work co-commissioned from Wynton Marsalis (Aug. 7).
Introducing these works, Oundjian noted that “We always love to have premieres at the festival. It’s so important for us to hear new ideas and to give opportunities to composers.”
In addition to Adams, other composers featured during the “Music of Today” series include Steven Ellison (known as Flying Lotus), Anne Müller, Philip Glass, Caroline Shaw, Stacy Garrop, Valerie Coleman, Osvaldo Golijov, John Corigliano and Christopher Rouse, among others (see the full summer program below).
In addition to the Music of Today, interest in the 2022 festival will be generated by the inclusion of composers who are outside the standard repertoire. African-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor will be represented by his Fantasiestücke for String Quartet (July 5) and Solemn Prelude for orchestra (July 21–22); and African-American composer Florence Price will be represented by her Violin Concerto No. 2 (also July 21–22). Starburst by the young American composer Jessie Montgomery will be played on July 31, outside of the Music of Today programs.
Concerts of chamber music on Tuesday nights will form the second Robert Mann Chamber Music Series, named for the founding first violinist of the Juilliard Quartet. The series will feature the Takács Quartet playing music by Haydn, Dvořák and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (July 5); the Attacca Quartet in a wide-ranging program of contemporary pieces during Music of Today (July 12); and the Danish String Quartet in a creative program that includes a collection of folk music from Britain. Other chamber concerts will feature members of the CMF Orchestra.
The Takács Quartet will also be featured on opening night, marking their return to the Chautauqua stage for their first live performances at CMF since 2004. They will be soloists with the CMF Orchestra in a performance of Adams’s Absolute Jest. Other works on the opening night program are Fate Now Conquers by Carlos Simon and Dvořák’s Symphony “From the New World.”
Other featured soloists during the summer will include pianist Jan Lisiecki performing all of Beethoven’s piano concertos in programs that also honor the 150th birthday of English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (July 7, 8 and 10); pianist Jeremy Denk playing Adams’s Must the Devil have all the Good Tunes? (July 17); violinist Randall Goosby playing Price’s Violin Concerto No. 2 (July 21–22); pianist Simone Dinnerstein on an all-Mozart program (July 24); pianist Gabriela Montero playing Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor (July 28–29); and clarinetist Anthony McGill (Aug. 4).
Conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni, former music director of CMF, returns to lead two programs (July 28–29 and 31). The award-winning young American conductor Ryan Bancroft will also lead the orchestra in two programs (July 21–22 and 24).
Reverting to past patterns, there will be three pairs of Festival Orchestra concerts with the same program on Thursday and Friday nights, with the Thursday performance at 7:30 p.m. and the Friday performance at 6:30 p.m. (June 30–July 1; July 21–22; July 28–29). The annual Family Concert will be Sunday, July 3, with Tubby the Tuba and Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
The 2022 Festival ends on Sunday, Aug. 7, with the Colorado premiere of a fanfare by Wynton Marsalis and Mahler’s massive Fifth Symphony, which Oundjian described last night as “virtuosic for the orchestra, incredibly entertaining for all of us.
“The final moments of Mahler 5 are as exuberant as music can possibly get. There is no greater way to witness a symphony orchestra than to come and listen to a Mahler symphony!”
Single tickets to the 2022 Festival will be available for purchase on the CMF website beginning March 1. You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 303-440-7666. At this time, CMF states that they will follow recommended and required COVID guidelines during the 2022 festival. Any specific rules have not yet been announced.
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Colorado Music Festival 2022 All performances at Chautauqua Auditorium
7:30 pm. Thursday, June 30: Opening Night 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 1 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with the Takács Quartet
Carlos Simon: Fate Now Conquers (2020)
John Adams: Absolute Jest (2012)
Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 in E minor (“From the New World”)
11 a.m. Sunday, July 3: Family Concert Maurice Cohn, conductor, with Really Inventive Stuff
George Kleinsinger: Tubby the Tuba
Benjamin Britten: Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 5 Takács Quartet
Joseph Haydn: String Quartet in F Major, op. 77 no. 2
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Fantasiestücke for String Quartet
Dvořák: String Quartet No. 13 in G Major
7:30 pm. Thursday, July 7 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jan Lisiecki, piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major —Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor
6:30 p.m. Friday, July 8 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jan Lisiecki, piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Overture to The Wasps
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major —Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 10 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jan Lisiecki, piano
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5 in D major
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major (“Emperor”)
——-Music of Today——-
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 12 Attacca Quartet
John Adams: selections from John’s Book of Alleged Dances
Flying Lotus: Clock Catcher —Remind U —Pilgrim Side Eye
Anne Müller: Drifting Circles
Louis Cole: Real Life
Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 3, “Mishima”
Caroline Shaw: The Evergreen
Gabriella Smith: Carrot Revolution
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14 Peter Oundjian and John Adams, conductors With Samuel Adams, composer; Tessa Lark, violin; and Timothy McAllister, saxophone
Timo Andre: world premiere commission
Samuel Adams: Chamber Concerto
John Adams: City Noir
7:30 p.m. Friday, July 15: Kaleidoscope Timo Andres, piano; Tessa Lark, violin; Timothy McAllister, saxophone; and members of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
David Skidmore: Ritual Music
Stacy Garrop: Reborn in flames (from Phoenix Rising)
Osvaldo Golijov: Last Round
Valerie Coleman: Red Clay & Mississippi Delta for Wind Quintet
Timo Andres: Honest Labor
Roshanne Etezady: Recurring Dreams
John Corigliano: STOMP
Philip Glass: Etude No. 6
John Adams: Road Movie
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 17 Peter Oundjian and John Adams, conductors, Jeremy Denk, piano
Gabriella Smith: Tumblebird Contrails
John Adams: Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?
Christopher Rouse: Symphony No. 6
7:30 Tuesday, July 19: Flavors of Russia Members of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
Borodin: String Sextet in D minor
Mikhail Glinka: Trio Pathétique in D minor
Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence Sextet in D Minor, op. 70
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 22 Ryan Bancroft, conductor, with Randall Goosby violin
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Solemn Prelude
Florence Price: Violin Concerto No. 2
Saint-Saëns: Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, op. 28
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D major
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 24 Ryan Bancroft, conductor, with Simone Dinnerstein, piano
Mozart: Serenade in C minor for winds, K388 —Piano Concerto B-flat major, K595 —Symphony No. 39 in E-flat major, K543
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 26 Members of the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra
Mozart: Flute Quartet in D Major, K285
Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson: Movement for String Trio
Dvořák: Terzetto in C Major, op. 74
Brahms: Clarinet Quintet in B minor, op. 115
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28 6:30 p.m. Friday, July 29 Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Gabriela Montero, piano
Mussorgsky, arr. Rimsky-Korsakov: Night on Bald Mountain
Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major
6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 31 Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor with Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson and Abigail Nims, sopranos; John de Lancie and Marnie Mosiman, actors
Jessie Montgomery: Starburst
Georges Bizet: Symphony No. 1 in C major
Felix Mendelssohn: Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2 Danish String Quartet
Henry Purcell, arr. Benjamin Britten: Chacony in G minor
Folk Music from the British Isles, arr. Danish String Quartet
Schubert: String Quartet No. 15 in G major, D. 887
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4 Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Anthony McGill, clarinet
Wang Jie: Flying On the Scaly Backs of Our Mountains (world premiere)
Carl Maria von Weber: Clarinet Concerto No. 1 in F minor
Debussy: Première Rhapsodie for clarinet and orchestra
Stravinsky: Suite from TheFirebird (1919)
6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7: Festival Finale Concerto Peter Oundjian, conductor
“Music for Change,” cancelled in 2020, comes back in revised form Jan. 13
By Peter Alexander Jan. 11 at 1:30 p.m.
The Kronos Quartet has some unfinished business in Boulder.
The path-breaking string quartet was scheduled to perform at Macky Auditorium in March of 2020, but like most performances around that time, their concert was cancelled. Now they will return to Macky with a revised version of that same program scheduled for Jan. 13, and—fingers crossed!—so far the visit is still on.
The original 2020 program, titled “Music for Change: The ‘60s, the Years that Changed America,” was organized around protest songs from the 1960s, arranged especially for Kronos. The centerpiece was to have been a celebration of Pete Seeger’s music for his 100th birthday.
Many of the same pieces are on the program for this year, although the Pete Seeger celebration has been replaced. Music that has survived the transition include arrangements of the “Star Spangled Banner” inspired by Jimi Hendrix‘s famous 1969 performance at Woodstock and “Strange Fruit” inspired by Billie Holliday; “Glorious Mahalia” by Stacy Garrop which features the recorded voices of Mahalia Jackson and Studs Terkel, and “Peace Be Till” by Zachary James Watkins, which incorporates the recorded voice of Clarence B. Jones, Martin Luther King Jr.’s speechwriter.
Added to the program for 2022 are another Mahalia Jackson arrangement, “God Shall Wipe All Tears Away”; an arrangement of John Coltrane’s “Alabama”; “Colonizer (Remix)” by Tanya Tagaq arranged for Kronos; and Michael Gordon’s “Campaign Songs #1,” one of a series of short pieces recorded by the Kronos players separately during the height of the pandemic.
“I wanted to play a concert like we’re going to do in Boulder, years ago,” David Harrington, Kronos’s first violinist and guiding spirit says. “It’s taken many, many years to arrive at the kind of work that we’re able to do now.”
The program opens without Kronos playing a single note, with Steve Reich’s Pendulum Music featuring four microphones swinging freely above speakers, creating feedback as they cross directly over the speakers. Eventually all four microphones stop above the speakers, creating a bed of constant feedback from which the Hendrix-inspired “Star Spangled Banner” emerges.
“It’s audacious, the idea that we can start a program with microphones,” Harrington says. “I love that! It sounds like fog to begin with, and then slowly it gets more and more together, to the point where there’s a fabric of pulsating feedback. From that is going to be the ‘Star Spangled Banner’.”
Other works on the program stand out for their impactfulness. One of these is certainly the arrangement of Abel Meerepol’s “Strange Fruit.” Famously sung at the height of the Civil Rights struggle in the 1940s and ‘50s by Billie Holliday, the song describing a lynching became a tortured anthem for the anti-lynching movement. Rejected by Columbia Records, Holliday’s recording on the Commodore label was later entered in the National Recording Registry.
“’Strange Fruit’ is at the solar plexus of American music and American culture,” Harrington says. “The quality of (Holliday’s) voice is definitely in my ear. When we play that piece, her voice is singing inside of me.”
Another piece that came from the Civil Rights struggle is an arrangement of John Coltrane’s “Alabama.” Coltrane wrote the piece as a response to the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four African-American girls. “The way certain musicians are able to respond to events, and attempt to create a counterbalance, to me is so inspiring,” Harrington says.
Reflecting the breadth of Kronos’s interests, both musically and politically, is “Colonizer (Remix)” by Tanya Tagaq. An Inuk throat singer from Iqaluktuuttiaq (Cambridge Bay) in Nunavut, Canada, Tagaq wrote the song as a response to performing in what she characterizes as “symbolically colonial spaces.”
“’Colonizer’ is a statement,” Tagaq has written. “There is guilt in complacency. Accountability means taking action.”
The political implications of the program are not accidental, but come out of Harrington’s thoughts about his family. “In 2003 I had just become a grandfather for the first time, and I was thinking about the world (my granddaughter) was going to grow up into,” he says. Historian Howard Zinn told him that political leaders are actually afraid of artists like Kronos, because they know the artists cannot be controlled.
“I thought to myself, if those types are actually afraid of people like me that use violins to communicate, then I am doing what I can do,” Harrington says. The desire to make the world a better place for the coming generations through Kronos’s programming grew from that thought.
Another quality that characterizes Kronos’s is adventurousness. Their repertoire has ranged over the world and across many musical styles. “I’m so glad that we’ve had the years that we’ve had to explore,” Harrington says. “The only thing that happens when you explore is you find things, and then you want to find more.”
That adventurousness is fueled by Harrington’s curiosity. “How could anybody not be curious?” he asks. “I want to do the most (I can to) ensure that I keep curiosity alive. Learning new things is humanity at its best.”
Not that he thinks he has found all the answers. “People think I know something about music, but I don’t know how it works,” he admits. “As listeners, we’re all in the same boat. You never know when something in music is going to penetrate to the deepest possible place within yourself.
“It’s almost incalculable.”
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“Music for Change” Kronos Quartet David Harrington and John Sherba, violins; Hank Dutt, viola; Sunny Yang, cello Brian H. Scott, lighting designer, and Scott Fraser, sound designer
Steve Reich: Pendulum Music
“Star Spangled Banner” (inspired by Jimi Hendrix, arr. Stephen Prutsman and Kronos)
Michael Gordon: “Campaign Songs #1”
Stacy Garrop: Glorious Mahalia, featuring the recorded voices of Mahalia Jackson and Studs Terkel
Antonio Haskell, arr. Jacob Garchik: “God Shall Wipe All Tears Away” (inspired by Mahalia Jackson)
Tanya Tagaq (arr. Tanya Tagaq, Kronos Quartet, and Joel Tarman): “Colonizer (Remix)”
Abel Meeropol, arr. Jacob Garchik: “Strange Fruit” (inspired by Billie Holiday)
John Coltrane (arr. Jacob Garchik): “Alabama”
Zachary James Watkins: Peace Be Till featuring the voice of Dr. Clarence B. Jones
Live performances Jan. 9 and 10 in Grusin Hall also available online
By Peter Alexander Jan. 6 at 11:25 a.m.
So far this year, COVID has not stopped the music. The Takács Quartet will begin their spring 2022 series of concerts on the CU campus as planned, with performances Sunday and Monday (Jan. 9 and 10) in Grusin Hall.
They will not, however, play the program that was originally announced. Pianist David Korevaar was scheduled to perform the Schumann Quintet in E-flat major, op. 44, but he is unavailable due to possible exposure to COVID. Korevaar reports that he feels fine, and he will perform the Schumann Quintet with the Takács Quartet later in the semester.
To fill his place on the January program, the quartet turned to members Harumi Rhodes and Richard O’Neill, violin and viola, who will play the Mozart Duo in G major, K423. The full ensemble will finish out the concert with the new String Quartet No. 1 by Stephen Hough, subtitled “Les Six rencontres” (The six encountered), and the String Quartet in F major by Maurice Ravel.
Both the Sunday and Monday performances will be open to an in-person audience, and will also be available for streaming from 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon until 11 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17. In-person and online tickets can be purchased from CU Presents.
At this time, face masks are required in all buildings on the CU campus.
Widely celebrated as a pianist, Hough is also active as a composer of works for a variety of media including chamber music, piano solo and choral works, among others. The Takács Quartet asked him to write a piece for string quartet to fill out a recording of Ravel’s String Quartet and Ainsi le Nuit (Thus the night) for string quartet by Henri Dutilleux, which the Takács played in Grusin last fall.
The title of Hough’s quartet—“Les Six rencontres”—refers to a group of composers known as “Les Six” (The six) who were a prominent part of French musical life between Ravel in the early years of the 20th century, and Dutilleux in the second half of the century. The six composers—Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc and Germaine Tailleferre—are not quoted directly in the score but occur “as an echo,” Hough wrote.
The title is also a pun, as the quartet is in six movements. Hough wrote in his program notes that the work “evokes a flavor more than a style. . . . seeing life through a burlesque lens is one recurring ingredient.” The titles of the six movements evoke places in Paris where one might have encountered the composers of “Les Six”—the boulevard, the park, the theater and so forth.
Ravel composed his one string quartet in 1902–03, when he was 28. Largely classical in form, it was inspired by, and in some ways modeled on, the String Quartet of Debussy that had been written a decade before. It remains one of Ravel’s most popular works.
Mozart wrote two duos for violin and viola in 1783 during a visit with his family in Salzburg. They were written as a favor for Michael Haydn, the brother of Joseph Haydn, who was court composer to the Archbishop of Salzburg and a friend of the Mozart family. Haydn was supposed to write six duos for the Archbishop but had fallen ill, and Mozart agreed to finish the set for him.
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Takács Quartet Edward Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes, violin; Richard O’Neill, viola; András Fejér, cello
Mozart: Duo for Violin and Viola, K423 Harumi Rhodes and Richard O’Neill
Hough: String Quartet No. 1, “Les Six rencontres” (The six encountered)
Ravel: String Quartet in F Major
In-person performances: 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9 7:30 p.m. Monday. Jan. 10 Grusin Hall, CU Imig Music Building