“A Concert for Healing” in Longmont Friday, Boulder Saturday
By Peter Alexander Jan. 31 at 5 p.m.
Cynthia Katsarelis planned the next concert for Pro Musica Colorado (PMC) Chamber Orchestra as an opportunity for healing for the Boulder community—from the March 2021 King Sooper’s Shooting and from the pandemic.
In planning the 2021-22 season over the summer, she says, “I’m thinking about our response to the pandemic and all our losses there, and the King Soopers shooting.” In that context, she decided that the first concert program of 2022 would be devoted to healing, with music that seemed suited for that purpose.
“Mozart: A Concert for Healing” will be performed in Longmont at 7:30 Friday (Feb. 4) at the Stewart Auditorium and in Boulder at 7:30 Saturday (Feb. 5) at the First United Methodist Church (see concert details below).
“Something I think always works medicinal magic in the hearts of human beings is Mozart,” Katsarelis says. And so two of Mozart’s symphonies became the bookends of the program: Symphony No. 15, chosen in honor of the orchestra’s 15th season to open the program, and the “Jupiter” Symphony to round it off with a masterpiece.
The rest of the program fell into place through a collaboration with flutist Christina Jennings from the CU Music faculty. Last summer Katsarelis and Jennings were talking about what they could do together, and Jennings said, “Maybe Carter (Pann, a CU composition professor) will write something for me.”
“She must have texted him,” Katsarelis says, because in less than half an hour, Jennings had Pann’s agreement. “Of course we’ll do a world premiere,” Katsarelis says. “The idea was born via text in about 30 minutes!” And completing the program Jennings will play one of the flute’s most lively pieces, Vivaldi’s Concerto for Flute known as “The Goldfinch.”
It should be remembered that at the time she planned this program, Katsarelis had no idea that a third disaster would strike in the middle of the orchestra’s season. “Of course we didn’t know the Marshall Fire was going to happen,” she says. “I’m glad that we planned this concert as we had.”
Katsarelis was looking around for pieces numbered 15 to fit the PMC’s anniversary, and since Mozart is always a good programming choice she decided to look at his 15th Symphony. Written when Mozart was 16, it is not a well known work, but Katsarelis says “he’s pretty mature actually by that point.
“The symphony has a lot of witty details. In the recapitulation, when you expect the scale to go up as it had before, it goes down—things like that. It’s four movements, but they’re really short. It makes a good opener—it has wonderful energy, and these wonderful ideas. It’s a dynamite piece.”
At the opposite end of the program and of Mozart’s career is his last symphony, the “Jupiter.” “It marks Mozart’s progression as a composer,” Katsarelis says. “It marks [the transition] of the early classical to the high classical style, and Mozart is in dialog with Bach with contrapuntal and fugal writing.
“Mozart’s always loaded with ideas, and they’re always beautiful and balanced and have incredible variety and different kinds of energies and characters. But this [symphony] goes beyond. This is just astonishing.”
As familiar as the “Jupiter” Symphony has become, the key for performers and listeners, Katsarelis says, is to approach it like a new piece, “like it’s the freshest idea ever. That’s how you have to present it. That’s (PMC’s) approach to Mozart—doing it like we’re composing it ourselves. That’s what we bring to it, and I think that the aspect of familiarity done really beautifully in this way is part of healing.”
Of the two pieces that Jennings will play, the Vivaldi concerto is bright, cheerful and showy. It was written for girls at a famous orphanage in Venice, the Ospedale della Pietà, where Vivaldi taught. The girls’ orchestra was internationally famous, with people coming from all across Europe to hear their performances. With music as their main activity, the girls were renowned for their virtuosity.
Carter Pann’s piece creates a strong contrast with Vivaldi, and it fits the concert theme very well. “It’s beautiful and evocative,” Katsarelis says. “Christina (Jennings) was really into the theme about healing, and wanting a beautiful , cantabile kind of work—something that was more soulful and more cantabile. That’s what we thought would be really nice in this program, and I think it works out really well.
As she talks about the concert, Katsarelis keeps reflecting on subject of healing and the triple challenge Boulder has had to face in the past year, with a pandemic, a shooting and then a fire. “I just never thought I would see that level of devastation,” she says. “It seems to me that the arts have to respond. All of us in the arts need to think deeply and ponder our role, what do we need to say, who do we need to be for the community.
“That’s been on my heart a great deal.“
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“Mozart: A Concert of Healing”
Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra, Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor
With Christina Jennings, flute
- Mozart: Symphony No. 15 in G major, K. 124
- Vivaldi: Concerto for Flute in D major, op. 10 no. 3, “The Goldfinch”
- Carter Pann: My Cross for solo flute and chamber orchestra (world premiere)
- Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C major, K. 551 (“Jupiter”)
7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 4
Stewart Auditorium, Longmont Museum
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5
First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder
NOTE: All Pro Musica musicians have been vaccinated. Audience members must show proof of vaccination at the door. Audience members age 2 and up will be required to wear a mask. Audience capacity will be limited to allow for approhripriate distancing, and patrons are asked to observe social distancing in the hall and the lobby. If you cannot receive the vaccine for medical or religious reasons, you will be asked to show a negative COVID test taken 72 hours before the performance.