‘Biomes’: Diversifying the Classical Music Ecosystem

Dad Village Symphony Orchestra will present virtual concert Saturday

By Izzy Fincher April 15 at 1:45 p.m.

A biome is a large area characterized by its vegetation, soil, climate, and wildlife. There are five major types of biomes: aquatic, grassland, forest, desert, and tundra, though some of these biomes can be further divided into more specific categories, such as freshwater, marine, savanna, tropical rainforest, temperate rainforest, and taiga.

—National Geographic Society

Biomes need ecological diversity to thrive. Diversity makes them more healthy, stable and resilient in the long term. 

Likewise, the classical music biome needs diversity to flourish. Traditionally, it has been a fragile, old-fashioned ecosystem; however, in the last year, the biome has been revitalized, as entrepreneurial musicians have responded to social justice movements and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Jordan Halloway

One such diversifier is Jordan Holloway, a CU-Boulder senior. In March of 2020, he founded the Dad Village Symphony Orchestra (DVSO), an ensemble of more than 40 musicians from several colleges that performs new and underrepresented repertoire virtually. 

The DVSO’s second virtual concert, “Biomes,” set to premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 17, will include nature-themed works by J. Jay Berthume, Lili Boulanger, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Holloway. These works have been re-orchestrated for the DVSO by six contemporary composers, including senior Margaret Friesen and alum Brian Lambert.

“I want to bring underrepresented music in a creative way to new audiences,” Holloway says. “I want to take all of the stupid stuff with classical music and leave it at the door. This is a much easier way to do that than in person.”

The DVSO began as a one-off project for Holloway to premiere his Symphony No. 1, The Patriot, a musical protest against America’s racial and social injustice. However, as the DVSO community grew, he felt compelled to continue the project. 

“For the first project, I cast as wide a net as I was individually capable of,” Holloway says. “Then the community continued to grow way beyond what I could do myself.”

Grace Stringfellow

Holloway decided to bring in two collaborators, senior Grace Stringfellow and CU-Boulder alum Anoushka Divekar, to help manage and promote the DVSO. Together, they decided to expand the DVSO’s mission to performing diverse repertoire, as well as new music, to contribute to increased musical equity and inclusion for underrepresented communities.

“Last summer was an awakening moment for me,” Divekar says. “I think I was musically aware before but not as socially aware.”

For “Biomes,” Holloway decided to program works from two diverse composers of the early 20th century: Coleridge-Taylor (1875–1912), a British Black composer, and Boulanger (1893–1918), the sister of renowned composition teacher Nadia Boulanger and the first woman to win the Prix de Rome composition prize in 1913. Holloway chose two of their nature-themed works that are notable for their high level of energy.

Anoushka Diveka

Coleridge-Taylor’s Forest Scenes has an expressive style and depicts a mysterious love story between a lone forest maiden and her phantom lover. Boulanger’s Trois morceaux pour piano (Three pieces for piano), depicts two contemplative garden scenes and a funeral procession. Both works, originally for solo piano, have been reorchestrated for the DVSO by several different composers, each taking on individual movements.

“There is this constant power driving through all of (the program)—this energy inherent in nature that we can step back and observe,” Divekar says. 

Shifting to new repertoire, Holloway chose Berthume’s Wind in the Wood, a contemporary work for woodwind octet, to continue the theme of terrestrial biomes. The octet, which features flutes, oboes, clarinets and bassoons, depicts a windy forest with an upbeat feeling and dynamic textures.

For a brief aquatic interlude, Holloway also included his recent composition, Oceanic Scherzo. Like Holloway’s other compositions, the scherzo features musical imagery and colorful harmonies, influenced by Romantic-era French composers including Debussy and Boulanger.

“I like to write about the ocean (using) aquatic sounds,” Holloway says. “This scherzo has big wave and sea spray vibes. It sounds very jagged, fast and compound.”

“The depth and layers of the ocean are portrayed very well, especially with the brass,” Stringfellow adds. 

In addition to connecting with nature, “Biomes” has fostered human connections within the orchestra and beyond with their wider, virtual audience, which has been an impactful experience for orchestra members during COVID-19. 

“(During the pandemic), I was feeling very musically unfulfilled and unmotivated,” Divekar says. “I felt I had lost music making. But with this (project), I felt like I was playing with an orchestra again. It has been super musically fulfilling.”

“I am very proud to say I was a part of this,” Stringfellow adds. 

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Lili Boulanger

“Biomes”
Dad Village Symphony Orchestra

  • J. Jay Berthume: Wind in the Wood
  • Lili Boulanger: Trois morceaux pour piano
  • Jordan Holloway: Oceanic Scherzo
  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Forest Scenes

YouTube premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 17

Moore and the Longmont Symphony present “A Portrait of Mozart”

Program ranges from one of Mozart’s earliest to one of his last works

By Peter Alexander April 13 at 10:10 p.m.

Elliot Moore says that he needs a little Mozart right now.

“It’s been such a terrible time,” he says of the past year. “Mozart’s music is what I need. This is important to who I am.”

Elliot Moore

As conductor of the Longmont Symphony (LSO), Moore is in a position to fill that need. And we can all benefit when the LSO presents “A Portrait of Mozart,” a concert featuring works from Mozart’s very earliest years until nearly the last work he wrote. The concert stream will be available at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 17. You may purchase tickets here.

The program opens with the Overture to La finta semplice, K51, Mozart’s very first opera written when he was 12. That is followed by one of his very last completed works, the Clarinet Concerto, K622, featuring Colorado Symphony principal clarinetist Jason Shafer as soloist.

The program concludes with a symphony that falls between these works, the Symphony No. 25 in G minor, K183. Known as the “Little G-minor Symphony” to distinguish it from Mozart’s late Symphony in G minor, K550, it is the first of Mozart’s symphonies to find a permanent place on orchestral programs.

Moore has wrapped the concert into a larger project to make Mozart better known. In addition to the concert itself, there will be a pre-concert discussion about Mozart’s life on Zoom at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 15, that is open to concert ticketholders, and Moore has created a reading list for anyone who wants to go deeper into Mozart’s life. All the details of Moore’s “Mozart Mania” can be found on the LSO Web page

The concert and the project to explore Mozart’s life “is something that I feel is important to who I am,” Moore says. “It’s a way to have some kind of a shared experience that we have not had in over a year, and that’s part of the reason that I had the idea to do this.”

Mozart at age 12

The opera overture “is remarkable for a 12-year old,” Moore says. “I’m not sure it’s much more than that, but I think it’s extraordinary to see some of the first orchestral music a 12-year-old Mozart wrote.”

The overture also provides background to Mozart’s professional life. La finta semplice was written when the boy Mozart was visiting Vienna. His father, Leopold, hoped to have it produced by the court opera, but he made the mistake of overpromoting the work, which annoyed members of the royal family and some of the court musicians. Later the Empress Maria Theresa, who had relatives all over Europe, discouraged her family members from hiring Mozart, describing Leopold and other members of the family as “useless people.”

In other words, this opera, written he was 12, “set the tone for Mozart not being able to get a job” for the rest of his life, Moore says.

Moore chose K183, the “Little G-minor” Symphony, for two reasons. First, it is considered Mozart’s first fully mature symphony, and as such marks a milestone in the composer’s development. 

The other reason is more practical. “I needed to find a work where we could actually fit onstage,” Moore explains. Because Stewart Auditorium at the Longmont Museum is limited in size, the orchestra had to be limited as well. Other symphonies he might have chosen required too many players. “It’s a very tricky balance to put on these kind performances in a pandemic!” Moore says.

Anton Stadler with 18th-century clarinet

Mozart wrote his Clarinet Concerto in October of 1791, a mere two months before his death. It was written for Anton Stadler, a friend of the composer for whom the concerto, the Clarinet Quintet, and obligato clarinet parts in Mozart’s last opera, La clemenza di Tito, were written. When Mozart rushed to Prague for the premiere of the opera in September 1791, Stadler travelled in the same carriage with the composer and his wife, Constanza.

Stadler was clearly a virtuoso player. The concerto is difficult enough to play well on modern instruments; on the clarinets of his day, it would be a supreme challenge.

It was most likely written for a “basset clarinet,” a clarinet with extended range. That was a custom-made instrument that Stadler owned and played. Few players today have a basset clarinet, but the concerto is well known in a version adapted to the standard modern instrument. 

“It’s a phenomenal piece,” Moore says. “There’s something about the second movement—I ask myself, did he know that this was going to be one of the last slow movements he wrote? I don’t know if I’ll ever know the answer, but boy is it great to be onstage making music.”

Moore is delighted not only to be onstage performing Mozart, but also to share Mozart with the audience. “I have been drawn to Mozart since March 2020, because it makes me feel good,” he says. “If we can share that, and delve a little deeper into this man’s life, it will enrich all our lives.

“At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about.”

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Jason Shafer

“A Portrait of Mozart”
Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Jason Shafer, clarinet

Mozart: Overture to La finta semplice, K51 (46a)
Mozart: Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra, K622
Mozart: Symphony in G minor, K183

Stream available 7 p.m. Saturday, April 17

Tickets available here.

The concert will be preceded by a Pre-Concert Talk on Zoom at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 15 that is available to concert ticketholders. For details on this and other activities around the concert, visit the Longmont Symphony Web page

Seicento Baroque Ensemble presents “Inspire Baroque”

Series of educational sessions are open to the public

By Peter Alexander April 7 at 6:50 p.m.

Imagine that you are leading a chorus. What do you do when a pandemic prevents you from presenting concerts, or even gathering for rehearsals?

If the chorus is the Seicento Baroque Ensemble, Boulder’s chamber choir devoted to the music of the early Baroque period, you might see this as an opportunity to expand knowledge and understanding of the Baroque style of music. You could, for examle, provide educational sessions designed to “demystify ‘Baroque Performance Practice’ in classical music and dance.” 

Seicento Baroque Ensemble with their director, Amanda Balestrieri (in blue)

In fact, that is exactly what Amanda Balestrieri, Seicento’s artistic director, decided to do this spring.

This intriguing appraoch allows safe distancing, since each session only requires a single presenter, and perhaps one or two other participants. It provides insight into the often arcane matters of early Baroque performance—knowledge that will benefit both the choir’s audience and their members. It allows Seicento to stay in contact with their supporters, and might attract the attention of potential new listeners.

The first of the “Inspire Baroque” series, as it is called—a class on Baroque dance—was held in March, but four sessions remain. The first of those remaining sessions, “Cellos & Viols and Students, Oh My!” will premiere on YouTube at 6 p.m. Friday, April 9.

Sarah Biber

For that session, Baroque and viola da gamba specialist Sarah Biber will explore and explain the viol family of instruments—bowed stringed instruments of the Renaissance and Baroque periods that are similar to, but distinct to the more familiar violin and its larger relations. Assisted by colleagues and students, Biber will use the “La Folia” theme, employed by many Baroque composers and familiar to Baroque music enthusiasts.

Other sessions of the “Inspire Baroque” series and their premieres will be:

—“Historic Organs Meet 21st-Century Tech,” 6–7 p.m. Friday, April 23. Using a Virtual Pipe Organ (VPO) setup, historical keyboard specialist Wesley Leffingwell will discuss organ history and music that showcases the versatility of a virtual instrument.

—“What’s Your Temperament (and why does it matter)?” 6–7 p.m. Friday, May 7. Organist and harpsichord performer Eric Wicks will venture into the complex and deeply mystifying subject of Baroque-era intonation and systems of tuning, and explain the ways that different temperaments affect the sound and expression of early music performances.

—“The Flute’s Pleasure Garden,” 6–8:15 p.m. Friday, May 21. Flutist and recorder specialist Rob Turner will present Baroque music written or arranged for unaccompanied recorder and transverse flute, using his extensive personal collection of instruments. The YouTube premiere of the “Inspire Baroque” session will be followed by a Q&A session by Zoom. 

Each session is free, with a requested donation to Seicento. You may sign up for the individual sessions here.

Tickets available for Sunday’s concert by Takács Quartet

Music by Haydn, Schubert, Dutilleux: Stream available through May 10

By Peter Alexander April 7 at 12:30 p.m.

The CU-based Takács Quartet has played a series of concerts in Grusin Hall this year, but you can be forgiven if you missed them. They were played without an audience, and most of the live streams were available only to season ticket holders.

The final concert of ’20-21, at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 11, will again be in an empty hall, but tickets for the stream are available to the general public. The performance will be streamed live at 4 p.m., and the stream will remain available through Monday, May 10.

David Requiro

Cellist and CU faculty member David Requiro will join the Takács for Schubert’s much loved Quintet in C major for Strings, D956. Other works on the program will be two quartets by Joseph Haydn—Op. 42 and Op. 103, both in D minor—and the atmospheric Ainsi la nuit (Thus the night) by 20th-century French composer Henri Dutilleux.

András Fejér, the quartet’s cellist, has been with the Takács since it was founded in 1975. He has played everything on the program many times, but he never gets tired of his job. “The literature is so incredibly rich!” he says. “One can argue and counter argue on any page of any of the pieces for lifetime. It’s a joy to listen to (other players’) ideas.”

Take for example the two Haydn quartets that will open the program. “With Haydn, whenever we start learning and studying you are just swept away by his generosity of ideas—surprising key changes, character changes and trickery,” he says.

Fejér believes the “trickery,” for which Haydn is well known, was done for the composer to entertain his audience—and himself. “If you spend 40 years in a palace on the Austro-Hungarian border, however generous your patron is, you need to care about your own entertainment,” he says.

Some of the fun also comes from Haydn’s contact with the local peasants, Fejér believes. “They were full of joy, they were full of rowdiness, probably some dancing, and we can find most of it on those pages. Hopefully you will see the enjoyment in our body language, and you will be transported into the 18th-century. It’s got such spice and an earthy, primal energy. Wonderful!”

Both Haydn quartets are unusual among the composer’s works. For one thing, they are both in D minor, at a time when few works were written in minor keys. Further, both are short works that do not belong to a larger set, as most Haydn quartets do. Op. 42 is in four short movements—less than 20 minutes all together. 

One of the last pieces Haydn wrote, Op. 103 remains a fragment of two movements. Written in B-flat major and D minor, they are assumed to have been the second and third movements of a planned four-movement quartet, but even that is uncertain. Haydn was in poor health as he was writing, and was unable to finish a full quartet.

Like the Haydn Op. 103, Schubert’s Quintet in C major was the composer’s last piece of chamber music. It was completed about two months before Schubert’s death in Nov. 1828 but was not performed until 1850, and published three years after that.

Schubert added a second cello to the standard string quartet, which gives a great resonance and warmth of sound to the ensemble. This is especially true because the piece is in C major, and the two bottom string of the cello are C and G, tonic and dominant of the key. Fejér explains that “the open strings of the cello, C and G, resonate just by lightly touching the instrument. It just rolls out—wonderful!”

Henri Dutilleux

The Takács Quartet has performed the Schubert with Requiro in the past, including a performance at Lincoln Center. “We are just looking forward to (performing with) David Requiro,” Fejér says. “We already played the Quintet many times with him, and it was wonderful.”

Schubert’s String Quintet has become one of the most loved pieces of chamber music from the 19th century. Like many of Schubert’s last works, it has a warmth and benedictive quality that audiences have responded to. It is indicative of that quality, Fejér says, that “the most people I know ask for the Schubert Quintet slow movement for their own funeral.”

That is unlikely to be true for the final piece on the program, which comes from another world. Dutilleux’s Ainsi la nuit (Thus the night) is a highly atmospheric work from the late 20th century. The composer has been identified with the atonal 12-tone style of composition, although he notably rejected the more radical and intolerant aspects of musical modernism.

“The music is extremely atmospheric,” is how Fejér describes Ainsi la nuit. “Many composers were trying to give meaning for the noises of the night, and Dutilleux certainly tries it his own ways. As performers, we need to (bring out) the colors and character to give the audience some sense of within what cosmos are we moving about.

“There are clashes and supernovas and black matter and God knows what else, but the beauty and atmosphere keep recurring.”

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Takács Quartet

Takács Quartet, with David Requiro, cello

Haydn: String Quartet in D minor, op. 42
Haydn: String Quartet in D minor, op. 103
Henri Dutilleux: Ainsi la nuit (Thus the night)
Schubert: String Quintet in C major, D956

Live stream at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 11; available through 11 p.m. Monday, May 10

Tickets

Boulder Philharmonic continues exploring music for small orchestra

Streamed concert available April 3 will feature Stravinsky’s “Soldier’s Tale”

By Peter Alexander April 2 at 1 p.m.

The past year has been the year of the chamber orchestra.

To respect the need for safe distancing between players, orchestras including the Boulder Philharmonic have presented entire programs of music written, or arranged, for reduced orchestra or chamber ensembles. Each of the Philharmonic’s 2020-21 performances has been recorded and streamed for ticket purchasers to access from the safety of their homes—as most orchestras have done.

That trend continues with the Phil’s next concert, but with a twist. The one piece on the program for Saturday (April 3, available from 7:30 p.m.), Stravinsky’s theater piece L’Histoire du soldat (The soldier’s tale), is ideal for performance during a pandemic—because it was in fact written during the last global pandemic, the Spanish Flu of 1918–19.

Stravinsky sat out World War I in Switzerland. As the war was coming to an end, the production of large-scale works, such as his previous ballets The Firebird, Petrushka and The Rite of Spring, was no longer possible. Instead, Stravinsky thought of creating a theater piece for a small group of musicians and actors that could be toured to Swiss villages. 

Stravinsky and the Swiss writer C.F. Ramuz collaborated to write L’Histoire du soldat, based on a Russian folk tale and written for seven players (violin, string bass, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone and percussion), three actors and a dancer—ideal numbers for safely distanced performances. In the end, the flu defeated Stravinsky’s plan for a tour, but L’Histoire was premiered in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 1918. The music has retained a place in the chamber orchestra repertoire, and the score is important as a bellwether of the transition from the massive musical works of the pre-war period to the neo-classicism of the late 19-teens and ‘20s.

The folktale that provided the plot is one that Stravinsky knew from Russia, but it is found in many different cultures: A lonely soldier engages in a contest with the devil. This is a well known story, from legends of Paganini selling his soul for unnatural fiddle skills, to Blues musicians being in league with the devil, to the Charlie Daniels Band’s “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”

C.F. Ramuz and Stravinsky

In the story worked up by Stravinsky and Ramuz, the soldier trades his fiddle—representing his soul—to the devil for knowledge that will make him wealthy. The soldier prospers and marries a princess, but the devil returns and triumphs in the end. 

“I think it’s a confusing story to follow,” Michael Butterman, conductor of the Boulder Phil, says. “It helps to have some frame of reference. I’m going to give a brief outline of what’s happening, so that people understand that the devil keeps coming back in different guises and disguises.”

The basic moral of the story, Butterman says, is that the soldier gets lots of stuff, but stuff doesn’t make him happy. “It’s all nothing without the fiddle—that’s your soul,” Butterman says. This is essentially the message of a passage from the Gospel According to Mark, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Butterman suggests.

Although 20th-century modernist in style, the music is easily grasped by listeners. “We have marches,” Butterman explains. “Although they are not totally regular in their march rhythm, they still feel like left, right, left, right. You have three dances that are stylized, but clearly identifiable. And there’s chorales that sound like chorales.”

The dances are a tango, a waltz, and one titled “Ragtime”—but, Butterman observes, “it’s not going to remind anybody of Scott Joplin.” Stravinsky had never heard American jazz performed, although he had some printed copies. He used the rhythms as he saw them on the page and listeners will likely recognize the syncopations.

Michael Butterman. Photo by Rene Palmer.

“Stravinsky sees everything through his own unique prism,” Butterman says. “What’s interesting about the piece to me is that it sounds less complex that it appears on the page. It’s a very complicated piece to put together and to conduct, just technically speaking. Much of the music does not line up at all with the meter that he’s [notated].”

Those are complications for the performers, but not necessarily for the listeners. “There’s enough familiar both in terms of the story and in terms of the musical forms that you know where to glom onto it” Butterman says. “The music is accessible, it’s not highly dissonant, it’s downright tuneful, quite clever, and always given to you in digestible chunks.”

The performance is presented in collaboration with the CU Department of Theater and Dance and the Boulder Ballet. The performance, which has already been recorded, was staged by Bud Coleman, department chair. Theater students fill the roles of four actors—a narrator, the soldier, and two actors to portray the devil. Boulder Ballet has provided the dancer and choreography.

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Members of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra
Michael Butterman, conductor
Staged by Bud Coleman with actors from the CU Dept. of Theater and Danc
Dance from the Boulder Ballet

Stravinsky: L’Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale)

Available at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 3 (through April 17)

Pre-concert discussion at 7 p.m.

Tickets

2021 Colorado Music Festival will include in-person and live streaming options

Season will offer 22 performances at Chautauqua Auditorium July 1–­Aug. 7

By Peter Alexander March 29 at 10 a.m.

The Colorado Music Festival’s 2021 summer season will include both live in-person performances at the Boulder Chautauqua Auditorium, and live streams you can view from home.

Chautauqua Auditorium

These will be the first in-person CMF performances at Chautauqua since the end of the 2019 season. Last year, the planned summer season was cancelled and replaced with a series of intimate performances featuring selected guest artists and interviews by the CMF Music Director, Peter Oundjian.

In a release from the festival, CMF executive director Elizabeth McGuire is quoted saying “After moving to a virtual festival in 2020, we look forward to offering safe, socially-distanced concerts, alongside streaming options for several of this season’s concerts. We want these performances to be available to as many people as possible.”

CMF Music Director Peter Oundjian

Oundjian is quoted in the same news release: “In our 2021 season, we wish to commemorate the challenges of the pandemic, while celebrating the return to live, communal music-making.”

The summer’s schedule will parallel previous summers in many ways: Major orchestra concerts will be played on Thursdays at 7:30 (July 1–Aug. 5); four of the six Thursday concerts will be repeated on the following Friday, this year at 6:30 p.m.; chamber concerts featuring renowned guest artists and CMF musicians, will be Tuesday nights (July 6–Aug. 3); and there will be concerts on Sunday evenings featuring smaller orchestral forces (July 11–Aug. 1). 

The annual family concert, this year with Really Inventive Stuff performing Francis Poulenc’s Story of Babar, will be at 11 a.m. on the opening Saturday of the season, July 3. And the season will conclude at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7. Oundjian will lead orchestra concerts the first week of the festival, and weeks three through six, with guest conductors David Danzmayr and Ludovic Morlot picking up weeks two and three (see full schedule below).

Joan Tower. Photo by Bernie Mindich

There will be some notable innovations this year. The Tuesday chamber concerts will be known as the Robert Mann Chamber Music Series. Named for Robert Mann—composer, conductor, founding first violin of the Juilliard String Quartet and mentor to CMF Music Director Peter Oundjian—the series will feature CMF orchestra members, as well as three string quartets making their CMF debut appearances.

The first, on July 13, will be the Juilliard Quartet, which retains Mann’s legacy. The St. Lawrence String Quartet, once coached by Mann, will perform July 20, and the Danish String Quartet will present a strikingly original program, including a collection of dances, loosely modeled on the Baroque dance suites and assembled by the quartet from works by different composers, on Aug. 3.

The 2021 Festival will include four world premieres: commissions from Hannah Lash (July 22), Joan Tower (July 25) and Joel Thompson (Aug. 5), and a new work from Aaron Jay Kernis on opening night that will commemorate victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. The concert on July 25 will be devoted entirely to works by Tower, who plans to attend the performance.

Summer artist-in-residence will be violinist Augustin Hadelich, who appeared at the festival in 2018, and was scheduled for the 2020 Festival. When the latter was canceled, he made a solo appearance from Oundjian’s home as one of the summer’s online presentations. This year he will play Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with Oundjian and the Festival Orchestra on opening night, Thursday, July 1, and Friday, July 2; and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto Thursday, July 29, and Friday, July 30.

Olga Kern, pianist, photographed by Chris Lee at Steinway Hall.

There will be other Beethoven performances through the summer: Symphony No. 7 on the opening concert (July 1 and 2); an orchestration of String Quartet No. 14, op. 131 (July 22); the Quintet for piano and winds, op. 16 and the Septet, op. 20 (July 27); Symphony No. 3 (Aug. 5) and Symphony No. 5 on the final concert (Aug. 7). Other traditional Classical repertoire will be represented through works by Haydn, Mozart, Brahms and Mendelssohn scattered through the summer.

Other solo artists during the summer will include CMF favorite Olga Kern (July 15–16), pianist Stewart Goodyear, violinist Angelo Xiang Yu, pianist Conrad Tao, marimbist Ji Su Jung, pianist Christopher Taylor, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and saxophonist Steven Banks. Boulder resident and longtime CMF supporter Chris Christoffersen will narrate Copland’s Lincoln Portrait (Aug. 1).

Tickets for the 2021 season will be for sale on the CMF Web page beginning April 20. The CMF release also noted that “guidance for safe social distancing practices will be observed closely in the months to come and will most likely include limiting the number of orchestra members on stage.“The event’s venue, Chautauqua Auditorium, will implement a COVID-19 safety plan throughout the 2021 season, including the latest guidelines for spacing between seats, distance between performers and audience members, and mask requirements for all.” Information and updates to the Chautauqua safety plan will be posted on the venue’s Web site.

CMF is offering a remote viewing experience for the 2021 Colorado Music Festival with a selection of the performances available via live streaming. For a full list of live-streaming performances and to purchase tickets beginning April 20, click here.

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Colorado Music Festival 2021
Season programs
All performances in the Chautauqua Auditorium

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 1
6:30 p.m. Friday, July 2
Opening Night
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Augustin Hadelich, violin

Aaron Jay Kernis: Elegy (to those we’ve lost) (world premiere)
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, op. 64
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A major, op. 92

11 a.m. Saturday, July 3
Family Concert: The Story of Babar
Really Inventive Stuff, Erina Yashima, conductor

Leopold Mozart: Toy Symphony
Francis Poulenc: The story of Babar, the Little Elephant

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 6
String Quintets
CMF Orchestra Members

Mozart: Viola Quintet in G minor, K516
Brahms: Viola Quintet in G major, op. 111

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 8 
6:30 p.m. Friday, July 9
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Stewart Goodyear, piano

Jessie Montgomery: Strum
Saint-Saëns: Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, op. 22
Brahms: Symphony No. 4 in E minor, op. 98

6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 11
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Angelo Xiang Yu, violin

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Novelleten for string orchestra, nos. 3 and 4
Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K216
Haydn: Symphony No. 104 in D major (“London”)

Juilliard String Quartet

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 13
Juilliard String Quartet

Ravel: String Quartet in F major
Henri Dutilleux: Ainsi la Nuit (Thus the night)
Dvořák: String Quartet No. 12 in F major, Op. 96 (“American”)

7:30 Thursday, July 15
6:30 Friday, July 16
Ludovic Morlot, conductor, with Olga Kern, piano

Dvořák: Legends, op. 59 (6, 7 and 9)
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 1, op. 25 (“Classical”)
Haydn: Piano Concerto in D major, Hob. XVIII:11
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor, op. 35

6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 18
Ludovic Morlot, conductor, with Conrad Tao, piano

Mozart: Ballet Music from Idomeneo, K367
Mozart: Piano Concerto in A major, K488
Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K550

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 20
St. Lawrence String Quartet

Haydn: String Quartet in D major, op. 20 no. 4
John Adams: String Quartet No. 1
Debussy: String Quartet in G minor, op. 10

Ji Su Jung

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 22
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Ji Su Jung, marimba

Hannah Lash: Forestallings (world premiere)
Kevin Puts: Concerto for Marimba
Beethoven: String Quartet No. 14, op. 131 (orchestrated by Peter Oundjian)

7:30 p.m. Friday, July 23
“Kaleidoscope”
CMF Orchestra strings and percussion, with 
Christopher Taylor, piano, and Ji Su Jung, marimba

Nebojsa Zivkovic: Trio per Uno
Nico Muhly: Big Time for String Quartet and Percussion
Peter Klatzow: Concert Marimba Etudes
Derek Bermel: Turning
Keith Jarrett: The Köln Concert (Part IIC)
Leigh Howard Stevens: Rhythmic Caprice
William Bolcom: Piano Quintet No. 2

6:30 p.m. Sunday, July 25
Music of Joan Tower
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Alisa Weilerstein, cello

Joan Tower: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 5
Joan Tower: Made in America
Joan Tower: Duets
Joan Tower: Cello Concerto (world premiere)

Augustin Hadelich

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 27
Colorado Music Festival Orchestra members

Beethoven: Quintet for piano and winds in E-flat major, op. 16
Beethoven: Septet in E-flat major, op. 20

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 29
6:30 p.m. Friday, July 30
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Augustin Hadelich, violin

Carl Maria von Weber: Overture to Oberon 
Zoltán Kodály: Dances of Galánta
Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D major, op. 61

6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 1
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Steven Banks, saxophone, and
Chris Christoffersen, narrator

Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
Florence Price: String Quartet No. 2 (Movement 2)
Alexander Glazunov: Saxophone Concerto in E-flat major, op. 109
Jacques Ibert: Concertino da Camera
Copland: Lincoln Portrait

Danish String Quartet

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3
Danish String Quartet

Henry Purcell: Chacony in G minor (arr. Benjamin Britten)
A curated suite of dances:
—Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Prelude
—John Adams: Pavane, “She’s so fine”
—Traditional: Polska 
—Felix Blumenfeld: Sarabande
—John Adams: “Stubble Crochet”
—Charpentier: Gigue Française
—John Adams: “Toot Nipple”
Schubert: Quartet No.15 in G major, D887

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5
Peter Oundjian, conductor

Joel Thompson: World Premiere commission
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, op. 55 (“Eroica”)

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 7
Festival Finale
Peter Oundjian, conductor

Giovanni Gabrieli: Canzon septimi toni à 8, arr. R.P. Block
Dvořák: Serenade for Wind Instruments in D minor, op. 44
Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, op. 67

Conductor Peter Oundjian with the CMF Orchestra (2019)

Tickets on sale beginning April 20 on the CMF Web page

CU Faculty Member wins “Best Classical Instrumental Solo” Grammy

Violist Richard O’Neill, newest member of the Takacs Quartet, wins first Grammy award

By Peter Alexander March 22 at 3:51 p.m.

Violist Richard O’Neill, member of the CU College of Music faculty and the Takacs Quartet, has won the Grammy award for “Best Classical Instrumental Solo.”

His recording of Christopher Theofanidis’ Concerto for Viola and Chamber Orchestra with David Alan Miller and the Albany Symphony (Albany Records TROY1816, released August 2020) was nominated along with these recordings: 
• pianist Kirill Gerstein playing the Thomas Adès Piano Concerto, with Adès and the Boston Symphony; 
• pianist Igor Levit playing the complete Beethoven piano sonatas; 
• violinist Augustin Hadelich playing “Bohemian Tales,” a collection of music by Dvořák, Janáček and Josef Suk, with Jakub Hrůša and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks; and
• pianist Daniil Trifonov playing the Second and Fourth piano concertos of Rachmaninov with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

O’Neill was caught by surprise last year when the nominees were announced. This time, of course he knew that he was in the running for the award and when the awards would be announced, but he nearly got caught by surprise again. For one thing, he looked at the distinguished list of other nominees, and thought, ‘OK, we’re going to lose’.”

For another, the streamed Grammy ceremony was held Sunday, March 14, the same day that Boulder was under a heavy blanket of snow. O’Neill had arranged to attend the ceremony online, but Sunday morning his internet kept going out. “I was like, ‘How am I going to be able to Zoom if I don’t have internet?’” he says. He even planned to walk to his studio in the CU Imig Music Building if he had to—since he couldn’t get out of his driveway.

Finally, the internet came back on just in time, but the ceremony was running ahead of schedule. “There was supposed to be 30 minutes buffer, and then you’re on,” he says. “I tuned in and it was basically five minutes to go! So I was like, ‘Holy, bleep!’ 

“And when they said ‘the Grammy goes to,’ I almost burst into tears. I just wasn’t expecting it.”

Richard O’Neill

To keep the ceremony on schedule, each recipient is allowed just 30 seconds to thank everyone. “There’s a very conspicuous clock, and it started right as they announced my name. Basically, they’ll just cut you off! It’s very, very short, but I tried my best to get everybody thanked. It was a really great, great moment, and then my phone was going crazy with all my friends who were watching.”

After than, O’Neill was asked to enter the virtual press room to take questions, and later he had several interviews with press from South Korea, where he is very well known. He took a quick break to step outside and gather his thoughts and chat with his neighbors, who were all out clearing their driveways and had no idea that he had just won a Grammy.

This was O’Neill’s third nomination for a Grammy and his first win. He also has won an Emmy Award and an Avery Fisher Career Grant. He has an extensive record of working with living composers, including the premieres of works written for him. Theofanidis’s Concerto was written for the distinguished violist Kim Kashkashian in 2002 and revised for O’Neill in preparation of his performances and recording.

O’Neill joined the Takacs Quartet in June of 2020, replacing Geraldine Walther as the group’s violist. He has appeared in streamed performances by the quartet, and in a handful of concerts before small, distanced audiences, but has not yet appeared onstage before a live Boulder audience.

Reflecting on the past year, O’Neill says it has been tough. He moved to Boulder, he joined the Takacs Quartet and the CU faculty, planned tours as solo artist and with the Takacs were interrupted by the pandemic, and his mother has had breast cancer—“This has been a long haul,” he says. 

“It feels good to have something nice happen.”

Central City Opera moves 2021 mainstage productions to Hudson Gardens

Outdoor venue will host socially-distanced RigolettoCarousel

By Peter Alexander March 19 at 1:50 p.m.

Central City Opera has announced that due to COVID precautions, their 2021 mainstage productions—Verdi’s Rigoletto and Rogers and Hammerstein’s Broadway hit Carousel—will not be performed in their intimate theater in Central City.

Hudson Gardens Concert Amphitheater

Instead, CCO has partnered with Hudson Gardens in Littleton to present both productions in an open-air theater. The summer’s third production, Henry Purell’s Dido and Aeneas, will be presented outdoors in Central City, in the Opera House Gardens, as will the CCO AL Fresco concert series. All three operas were postponed from the planned 2020 season, which was canceled.

In a media release sent out in early March, Central City Opera’s general/artistic director Pelham “Pat” Pearce was quoted saying, “We had hoped that by now it would be safe to return to the Opera House and resume normal operations.

“In order to prioritize the health and safety of our patrons, performers and company members, we determined it was necessary to secure an outdoor venue in order to return to live, in-person performances this summer. We are thrilled to partner with Hudson Gardens to host our 2021 Festival in their beautiful outdoor amphitheater.”

CCO will release tickets in phases, in accordance with the State of Colorado and CDC guidelines for capacity in the Hudson Gardens Concert Amphitheater. Subscribers to the 2020 season will be contacted b the CCO Box Office about tickets options for the 2021 season. Single tickets will go on sale in late April. Free parking will be available at Hudson Gardens, and subscribers will have priority access to purchase reserved parking. Other policies for the summer—including weather policies and the opera bus—are currently under review and will be announced in coming days. For more information, access CCOs 2021 Festival Frequently Asked Questions here

# # # # #

Central City Opera
Summer Festival 2021

Carousel
Music by Richard Rogers, book by Oscar Hammerstein

7 p.m. Saturday, July 3; Friday, July 9; Tuesday, July 13; Thursday, July 15; Saturday, July 17; Friday, July 23; Tuesday, July 27; Thursday, July 29
3 p.m. Wednesday July 7; Sunday, July 11; Sunday, July 25; Thursday, July 29; Sunday, August 1

Hudson Gardens, Littleton, Colo.

Rigoletto
Music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave

7 p.m. Saturday, July 10; Friday, July 16; Tuesday, July 20; Thursday, July 22; Saturday, July 24; Wednesday, July 28; Friday, July 30
3 p.m. Wednesday, July 14; Sunday, July 18; Tuesday, July 27

Hudson Gardens, Littleton, Colo.

Dido and Aeneas
Music by Henry Purcell, libretto by Nahum Tate

1 p.m. Saturday, July 17; Tuesday, July 20; Thursday, July 22; Wednesday, July 28

Central City Opera House Gardens

Information and tickets

“A CELLO-BRATION”: THE CELLO TAKES THE SPOTLIGHT

Soloist Zuill Bailey joins the Boulder Phil for an intimate, cello-centric program. 

By Izzy Fincher March 11 at 9:35 p.m.

“Why write for violin when there is cello?” Rachmaninov asked. 

There is something particularly captivating about the cello, with its sonorous tenor and subtle grandeur. It is wildly expressive—lyrical, passionate and romantic, yet also mournful and solemn, and profound in a way that captures the heart and soul.

Zuill Bailey

To celebrate this instrument, the Boulder Phil will present “A Celebration of Cello” with soloist Zuill Bailey, streamed from 7:30 p.m., on Saturday, March 13.

The cello-centric program includes a reduced instrumentation of Schumann’s Cello Concerto and a double-cello concerto by contemporary Italian composer Giovanni Sollima. Other works on the program are a violin trio by the Phil’s own Paul Trapkus, plus works by Debussy and Wagner.

Bailey, a Grammy-award winning cellist, will lead the “cello-bration.” He will appear on two contrasting concertos, which displays the cello’s multifaceted personality. In Schumann’s Concerto in A minor, the cello’s sensitive lyricism is shown, while Sullima’s double- concerto, to be performed with Boulder Phil principal cellist Charles Lee, exhibits more of the cello’s boldness and virtuosity.

“In Schumann’s concerto, the cello is refined and elegant,” Boulder Phil conductor Michael Butterman says. “Whereas in Sollima’s (double concerto), the cello is an outgoing, extroverted rebel. The cadenza feels like rock’n’roll—it shreds. It’s crazy, with a lot of flash, energy and edginess.”

Lee believes the energetic double-cello concerto, titled “Violencelles, Vibrez!” (Cellos, vibrate!), will be a highlight of the program. Sollima, an Italian cellist and post-minimalist composer, juxtaposes the cello’s different moods, moving from brooding, dark echoes to a sweet, lyrical duet to a brisk, vivacious cadenza. 

Charles Lee at rehearsal with the Boulder Phil

“It starts very mysterious and lyrical with long, romantic lines, using lots of vibrato, sustaining sounds,” Lee says. “The added element of two cellists alternating gives it a special effect, like an echoing cave.” 

In the opening, the two cello lines weave together, nearly indistinguishable from each other. “At first, it’s not so striking that there are two cellos when you don’t focus on the visuals,” Lee says.

Later, the distinct cello parts emerge in captivating musical dialogue, riffing off each other’s energy in a virtuosic display. Lee described the cadenza with Bailey as exciting but very challenging to play. 

The rest of the program focuses on orchestral works, adapted for a smaller chamber setting, including Debussy’sPrelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll,” an intimate musical love letter to his wife Cosima. 

Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun has been arranged for chamber orchestra, created by Schoenberg’s student Benno Sachs during World War I. It was first played for Schoenberg’s Society for Private Musical Performances, a chamber concert series held in Vienna from 1918 to 1921. 

During the war and the 1918 Flu Pandemic, chamber series like this one were popular in Europe due to limited financial resources and available musicians. Now, in our current pandemic, the reorchestration is once again ideal for a smaller, socially-distanced orchestra. 

Though the cello isn’t directly in the spotlight in either work, it still plays a more prominent role than usual. “When you adapt a large work for a smaller ensemble, the cellos become even more noticeable and exaggerated,” Lee says.

“We usually aren’t the go-to melody instrument (in larger works). When the cellos take the melody, it’s a treat.”

The violin, however, does snatch back the orchestral spotlight with Trapkus’ Trio for 3 Violins. Trapkus, a former violinist for the Boulder Phil, is also an active composer, who has written four works for string quartet and string ensemble. “Trio for 3 Violins,” written in 2012, features the three violins as equal soloists, and its energetic, minimalistic aesthetic is similar to Sullima’s Violencelles, Vibrez!.  

Paul Trapkus

Butterman is excited for the Boulder Phil to perform Trapkus’s trio for the first time. He believes the Boulder Municipal Airport’s hangar, where the concert was filmed last fall, is an ideal setting for the trio, far more intimate than Macky Auditorium.  

“(The trio) is a work that I found interesting, tuneful and appealing on first hearing,” Butterman says. “It uses a lot of repeated, minimalistic patterns. There’s a lot of interplay, exchanges of ideas and taking turns between the three equal violin parts.”

Despite the brief violin interlude, the concert is still a “cello-bration” through and through. For cello lovers, it should be a special treat—a musical extravaganza with two talented soloists.

As Bailey comments, “I always say the only thing better than a cello is two cellos.”

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“A Celebration of Cello”
The Boulder Philharmonic, Michael Butterman, conductor. with
Zuill Bailey and Charles Lee, cellos

Debussy, arr. Schoenberg: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Schumann, arr. Philip Lasser: Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129
Paul Trapkus: Trio for 3 Violins
Giovanni Sollima: Violencelles, Vibrez!
Wagner: Siegfried Idyll

Tickets can be purchased for $40 here. The concert can be streamed starting at 7:30 p.m., on Saturday, March 13. 

‘Exploring Cultural Identities’: Mosaic or Melting Pot?

March 9 CU Faculty Tuesday performance takes a look at identity in music

By Izzy Fincher March 4 at 11:55 p.m.

Is our cultural identity more of a mosaic or a melting pot?

With a cultural mosaic, individuals retain their distinct ethnic identities, while coexisting as a greater whole. With a melting pot, ethnic identities mix together, assimilating to create a singular culture.

Alexandra Nguyễn

In “Exploring Cultural Identities,” three CU Boulder professors, pianist Alexandra Nguyen, violinist Claude Sim and cellist David Requiro, will tackle this dichotomy of cultural representation versus assimilation by exploring Asian and Slavic cultural identities in classical music. The program will include compositions by Zoltan Kodaly from Hungary, Alexina Louie from Canada and Antonín Dvořák from Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic).

“Exploring Cultural Identities” will be streamed on CU Presents at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9, as part of CU Boulder’s Faculty Tuesday concert series.

“Presenting music through the lens of cultural identity is a fascinating exploration,” Sim says. “I believe that we truly play as we are. In other words, our artistry is a result of our diverse backgrounds, heritage and upbringing.”

Nguyen curated the program for “Exploring Cultural Identities” to pay tribute to her diverse heritage, later choosing her collaborators Sim and Requiro. As a Vietnamese Canadian, Nguyen often doesn’t see her identity reflected in the music she plays. 

“As an Asian woman, I am playing music by dead white men a majority of the time,” Nguyen says. “How can I relate to this music?”

To represent her own cultural identity, Nguyen has decided to champion Asian composers, particularly Louie, a Chinese Canadian. She feels very connected to Louie, who shares her Asian-Canadian heritage.

Alexina Louie

“In Canada, your heritage is a substantial part of your identity,” Nguyen says. “But in the U.S., the approach is very different. You want to blend in. No one wants to be the ‘other’.”

Nguyen will be playing Louie’s most famous work for solo piano, Scenes from a Jade Terrace, written in 1988, as the second piece on the program. The suite is filled with references to Chinese culture and folklore, while the harmonic language is colorful and complex, similar to contemporary composers George Crumb and Olivier Messiaen. 

David Requiro

Overall, the suite is aggressive in its texture and timbre. The first movement, “Warrior,” depicts the ghost of an ancient warrior and combines aggressive virtuosity with vulnerability. The second movement, ”Memories in an Ancient Garden,” feels eerily peaceful. Louie’s written direction on the score reflects this poetic, dreamy feeling, as she tells the performer “to play as if intoxicated by the scent of a thousand blossoms.” In the final movement, “Southern Sky,” the music depicts a dynamic starry night, as fast notes explode from the piano with sudden dynamic changes and intense dissonances. 

To complement Louie’s suite, Nguyen wanted to pivot toward exploring cultural identity through a European lens. She decided to program chamber music written by two Slavic composers, Kodaly and Dvořák, and to explore the role of Slavic nationalism in 19th and 20th century classical music. “Kodaly and Dvořák are two composers who felt strongly about their cultural identity and national heritage and (wanted to) reflect it in their music,” Nguyen says. 

Claude Sim

The program will begin with Nguyen and Requiro performing Kodaly’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 4, which incorporates harmonies and dance forms from Hungarian folk music. To finish the concert, Requiro and Sim join Nguyen for Dvořák’s Piano Trio No. 4, Op. 90, nicknamed the “Dumky.” The trio uses elements of Bohemian folk music. The six-movement work is a “dumka,” a form used by Slavic composers to indicate a brooding, contemplative lament interspersed with cheerful, rhythmic, dance-like moments.

For her next Faculty Tuesday concert, Nguyen aims to go even further with her exploration of cultural identities with an all-Asian program with Asian performers. She wants to represent distinct cultural mosaics in CU Boulder’s concert hall, as her personal contribution to more diversity and inclusivity in classical music.  

“If we want to represent all voices, then we have to perform all those voices,” Nguyen says. “If we want to respect all voices, then we have to hear them all.” 

# # # # #

“Exploring Cultural Identities”
Alexandra Nguyen, piano; Claude Sim, violin; and David Requiro, cello 

Zoltan Kodaly: Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 4
Alexina Louie: Scenes from a Jade Terrace
Dvořák: Piano Trio No. 4, Op. 90 (“Dumky Trio”)

Streamed here at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 9 

Free or pay what you can.