Violinist Harumi Rhodes will join Takács Quartet; founding second violinist retires

Karoly Schranz, one of the original Takacs members, will retire May 1

By Peter Alexander Feb. 22 at 9:20 pm.

The Takács Quartet and the CU College of Music today announced the retirement of Karoly Schranz, the founding second violinist of the group. His position will be taken by current CU faculty member Harumi Rhodes, effective May 1.


As of May 1, Takács Quartet members will be (l to r) Geraldin Walther, András Fejér, Edward Dusinberre, and Harumi Rhodes.

The other members of the quartet are Edward Dusinberre, first violin; Geraldine Walther, viola; and András Fejér, the sole remaining original member of the quartet, cello.

Takacs Quartet Publicity Photo

Karoly Schranz

The original Takács Quartet, comprising Gábor Takács Nagy, Gábor Ormai, Schranz and Fejér, first came to Boulder in 1986 as artists-in-residence at the CU College of Music. In addition to maintaining a high profile international career, the quartet presents an annual concert series on the CU campus that sells out two performances of each program, and frequently collaborate with their faculty colleagues.

In an e-mail message, Dusinberre commented, “[Schranz] has sustained his career so wonderfully over 43 years, and we’re very happy to welcome Harumi in a couple of months.” He also was quoted in at CU news release: “Individually, I have learned a huge amount from Károly and will always be profoundly grateful for the support he gave me after I joined the quartet.”


Harumi Rhodes

Members of the quartet declined further interviews, saying they prefer to let the CU news release stand on its own. In the release, the quartet was quoted collectively saying “We are thrilled that Harumi has accepted our invitation to join the quartet. She is a wonderfully versatile violinist and chamber musician, and we greatly look forward to working with her.”

The Takács Quartet’s remaining programs for the 2017–18 season will be March 11–12 with guitarist Nicolò Spera; and April 29–30 with violist Erika Eckert and cellist David Requiro. (Follow the links for more information and tickets.)

The April concerts will feature both the final campus performances by Schranz as a member of the quartet, and Rhodes’ first performances. Schranz will play the second violin part for the first half of the program, featuring string quartets by Ernö Dohnányi and Shostakovich. Rhodes will then join with the other members of the Takács as second violin, along with guest artists Eckert and Requiro, to perform Tchaikovsky’s String Sextet, “Souvenir de Florence.”

Schranz plans to continue his career playing chamber music and teaching. You may read the full news release announcing the change in personnel here.
Edited Feb. 22 to clarify the personnel of the April concerts.




Colorado Music Festival features illustrious soloists during 2018 season

Fresh Fridays return, Mashups and Happy Hour Concerts do not

By Peter Alexander  Jan. 26, 2018 at 12:10 a.m.

There will be some things old, some things new, and a few things gone missing at the Colorado Music Festival (CMF) this summer.

CMF artistic advisor Peter Oundjian. Photo by Jaime Hogge.

The 2018 season, announced by the festival today, was assembled by artistic advisor Peter Oundjian in association with the CMF board of directors and the summer’s slate of guest conductors. Oundjian was appointed in place of former music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni, who stepped down after the 2017 season.

Zeitouni remains as principal guest conductor, and will lead three concerts during the summer. Oundjian will conduct eight concerts, including one pair with the same program, and guest conductors will take the remaining orchestral concerts.

A quick glance at the schedule shows that there will be fewer performances than in most recent summers. The season will largely comprise more-or-less standard orchestra programs, performed by either the full Festival Orchestra on Thursdays and Fridays, or the CMF Chamber Orchestra on Sundays. Over the summer, Saturdays will offer two family concerts, two chamber concerts performed by members of the CMF orchestra, and one vocal-piano recital. An additional “Family Fun” concert will be on a Friday (see full schedule below).

All concerts will be in the Chautauqua Auditorium, and nothing has been scheduled for Monday–Wednesday. But Oundjian has brought in a dazzling array of soloists that should attract audience interest, and there will be some hugely popular pieces along the way. The interest of variety is served by a season-long emphasis on music made in America, which brings a number of newer and less familiar works into the schedule.

Olga Kern

Pianist Olga Kern returns to the CMF Aug. 4

The six-week season opens Thursday, June 28, with Brazilian-born conductor Marcelo Lehninger, music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony, and violinist Vadim Gluzman, and ends with the Festival Finale concert Saturday, Aug. 4, featuring the return of the popular pianist Olga Kern to play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on an all-American program conducted by Oundjian.

In addition to Kern, returning soloists over the summer will be pianist Orion Weiss, who will play Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto July 1, and mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung will sing the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde July 19, Abschied from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde July 29, and a song recital July 28.


Pianist Yefim Bronfman. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Other soloists include several with illustrious careers, as well as promising younger artists. Two of the best known are friends that Oundjian invited to perform here: pianist Yefim Bronfman, who will make his CMF debut with Brahms’s First Piano Concerto July 12 and 13 on the only program to be repeated in its entirety; and violinist Robert McDuffie, who will play Philip Glass’s “American Four Seasons” July 15. The Glass piece was written for McDuffie, and premiered by him with Oundjian conducting in 2009.

“I came (to Boulder) last summer, and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Chautauqua,” Oundjian says. “This is just such a beautiful place. And I thought the orchestra was wonderful. And so I said to everyone, ‘C’mon, you should come out here, it will be great fun!’”

Other soloists over the summer will be violinists Gluzman, Philippe Quint and Augustin Hadelich; pianist Gabriela Martinez; and cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan.

A prominent feature of the season is music by American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Samuel Barber, Philip Glass, John Adams, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Joan Tower and George Walker are all on the schedule, as is Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial is being celebrated on seven of the summer’s performances.


Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial shapes much of the festival

But as Oundjian explains, the theme is broader than that. “The 100th anniversary of Bernstein was my starting point,” he says. “Everything I’m conducting is connected in one way or another with Bernstein: music that would have inspired him, which is a lot of the American music, and then music that he inspired.

Peter Oundjian 2017-18 - 3 - credit Malcolm Cook

Peter Oundjian

“There are several pieces by European composers written on American soil. The only two pieces I’m conducting that were not written on American soil were two of Bernstein’s favorite pieces. One is the Abschied from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, which he considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time” (July 29).

The second piece is the Brahms First Piano Concerto (July 12–13), which Bernstein conducted in a notorious performance with pianist Glenn Gould in 1962. Bernstein gave a famous speech before the performance in which he stated both his disagreement with Gould’s interpretation, and support for his right to that interpretation.

The pieces written in America by European composers will be Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances (July 12), Dvořák’s “American” String Quartet (July 21) and Cello Concerto (Aug. 2), Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber (July 26) and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra (Aug. 2).


Jean-Marie Zeitouni

Each of the other conductors created their own programs apart from Oundjian’s American theme. In his one week at Chautauqua, Zeitouni continues showing his love for great vocal music with the performance of the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

There are other classical blockbusters on the guest-conductor programs. Zeitouni will conduct Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade July 19 and 20, and Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony July 21. Lehninger will conduct Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 on opening night, and Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto” with Weiss July 1, and conductor David Danzmayr has programmed Mahler’s First Symphony July 5.

There are some obvious changes from past seasons, partly on account of decisions made by the board. For example, there will be no Tuesday night performances, and the series that previously occupied those nights—Mashup concerts and their successor, Happy Hour concerts—are missing from the schedule. “Fresh Fridays,” short, informal concerts on Friday evenings that start at 6:30, will continue for a second year.

“We found last year that the sales for our Friday nights were actually higher than the Tuesday nights,” CMF executive director Elizabeth McGuire explains. “Those (‘Fresh Friday’) concerts point more directly to our core product, so we were thrilled about that. We wanted to put emphasis on these concerts.”

There will be two “Fresh Fridays” during the summer, one conducted by Zeitouni on July 20 and one conducted by Oundjian on July 27. Each will repeat one work from the full orchestral program of the preceding evening, and one work selected for its popular appeal.

Another reason McGuire cited for the decrease in the overall number of concerts was that the musicians believed the schedule had become too full. “They were concerned about (repetitive motion) injury, because we were typically offering more (rehearsals and concerts) per week than they would have in their home orchestras,” she says. “They felt that it was just too much in the span of one week.

“We wanted to listen to what the musicians were telling us. They are our greatest asset, so we tried to give them a day off during the week, and we also are increasing their pay this year. Those were ways to make our musicians know that we were listening to them and that we wanted to support them.”

Also missing this year is a “Click” Commission premiere. “The reason is, we didn’t get a lot of enthusiasm” last year, McGuire says. “If we’re going to do something like that, we want people to be engaged and interested in it.”

She does point out that there will be two world premieres during the summer, both pieces by Australian composer Tim Collins, Buch des Sängers (The singers’ book) performed by De Young and the Festival Orchestra under Zeitouni July 19, and LOVES CRUSADE performed by De Young with pianist Cody Garrison July 28.

A new feature of the CMF’s concerts for children and families is that they have been designated “sensory-friendly,” meaning they have been designed to be welcoming to families with children who have “sensory sensitivities.” The accommodations at these performances include leaving the house lights on during the concert and providing a movement area at the back of the hall. (See the full description of these concerts below.)

Season subscriptions for the 2018 Colorado Music Festival are on sale now through the Chautauqua Box Office (phone: 303.440.7666). Single tickets will go on sale March 12.

The next Music Director: No news is good news
Peter Oundjian was hired as artistic advisor to CMF, not as a permanent music director. The search for a new music director is entirely private, and none of this summer’s guest conductors should be considered a candidate for the position, according the executive director Elizabeth MGuire. “There’s no public aspect of (the search) whatsoever,” she says.
“The more we talk about it, the less chance we have of attracting who we want, so it’s all under wraps. Hopefully, people will understand why we’re so close-lipped about it.
No timetable has been announced for filling the position.

# # # # #

Colorado Music Festival
Peter Oundjian, Artistic Advisor
2018 Season

chautauqua-boulder-coloradoAll concerts at Chautauqua Auditorium



7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28: Opening Night
Marcelo Lehninger, conductor, with Vadim Gluzman, violin
John Corigliano: Promenade Overture

Bernstein: Serenade (After Plato’s Symposium)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, op. 36

2 p.m. Saturday, June 30: Family Fun Concert “Meet the Strings”

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 1
Marcelo Lehninger, conductor, with Orion Weiss, piano

Stravinsky: Suite No. 1 for Small Orchestra
Mozart: Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”)
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”)


Gabriela Martinez:Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Gabriela Martinez. By Lisa-Marie Maszucco

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 5
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Gabriela Martinez, piano

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, K466 in D minor
Mahler: Symphony No. 1

2 p.m. Saturday, July 7: Young People’s Concert: “Dances From Around the World”
Radu Paponiou, conductor

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 8
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Philippe Quint, violin

Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances
Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
Schubert: Symphony No. 3


7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12, and Friday, July 13
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Yefim Bronfman, piano

Leonard Bernstein: Overture to Candide
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances, op. 45 

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14: Chamber Music with CMF Chamber Players


Robert McDuffie. By Christian Steiner

Stravinsky: Octet for Wind Instruments
Prokofiev: Two Pieces for String Octet
Mendelssohn: String Octet, op. 20

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Robert McDuffie, violin

Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite
Barber: Adagio for Strings
Philip Glass: Concerto No. 2 for Violin, “American Four Seasons”


7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano

Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Timothy Collins: Buch des Sängers (World Premiere)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

6:30 p.m. Friday, July 20: FRESH FRIDAYS*
Conductor: Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Borodin: In the Steppes of Central Asia
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade 

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 21: Chamber Music with CMF Chamber Players

Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 2 (“Company”)
Barber: String Quartet
Dvořák: String Quartet No. 12, op. 96 (“American”)

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Ravel: Mother Goose
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”)


7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Augustin Hadelich, violin

Paul Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber
Samuel Barber: Violin Concerto
George Walker: Lyric for Strings
John Adams: “Doctor Atomic” Symphony 

6:30 p.m. Friday, July 27 FRESH FRIDAYS*
Peter Oundjian, conductor

Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony

1922 Michelle DeYoung HI RES_blur ART 1 version

Michelle DeYoung

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano, and Cody Garrison, piano

Art songs by Brahms, Richard Strauss and Samuel Barber.
Timothy Collins: LOVES CRUSADE (world premiere) 

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano

Joan Tower: Made in America
Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite
Mahler: Abschied from Das Lied von der Erde


7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Narek Hakhnazaryan, cello

Leonard Bernstein: Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free
Dvořák: Cello Concerto
Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra 

2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3: Family Fun Concert “Meet the Brass”

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4: Festival Finale
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Olga Kern, piano

Leonard Bernstein: Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free
Samuel Barber: Symphony No. 1 in One Movement, op. 9
George Gershwin: An American in Paris
George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue


*Fresh Fridays: Start at 6:30 p.m. with an hour-long, intermission free concert, leaving patrons time to go out for post-concert dinner and drinks.

Family Fun Concerts give younger children a chance to meet different sections of the orchestra, as small ensembles perform short, informal 45-minute programs.

The Young People’s Concert is designed for children ages 4 and older and includes events after the concert on the great lawn, with costumed characters, hands-on instruments, creative face painting, and other activities.

Sensory-Friendly Concerts are designed to create a performing arts experience that is welcoming to all families with children with autism or other conditions that create sensory sensitivities. Accommodations: house lights will remain on during the performance; microphone volumes will be decreased; staff will be easily accessible for any problems or questions; involuntary movements and noises are acceptable and welcomed; a designated movement area in the back of the auditorium for anyone who feels the need to move during the performance; and general admission seating, so that everyone may find a comfortable place to sit.

NOTE: Edited to correct typos, Jan. 26 at 8:48 a.m.


Musicians we lost in 2017

Classical, jazz and pop artists who will be missed

By Peter Alexander

Here is my annual sad tally of musicians we lost in the past year. The list is admittedly idiosyncratic: most classical artists, with a few jazz and pop greats as well, but reflecting my own interests and tastes. If there are people you cared about who are not on the list, feel free to add their names in comments.

Jan. 4: Georges Pretre, globe-trotting French conductor who had a second home in Vienna, musically and physically, 92


Nat Henthoff

Jan. 7: Nat Henthoff, author, journalist, jazz critic and civil libertarian who called himself a troublemaker, 91 (His son Nicholas said he was surrounded by family members and listening to Billie Holiday when he died.)

Jan. 8: Nicolai Gedda, Swedish tenor known for his mastery of many languages and the original Anatol in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa, 91


Roberta Peters

Jan. 18: Roberta Peters, coloratura soprano who sang for 35 years at the Metropolitan Opera and appeared frequently on TV, particularly the Ed Sullivan Show, 86

Jan. 27: Henry-Louis de La Grange, a scholar who devoted his life to studying the life of Gustav Mahler, 92

Feb. 3: Gervase de Peyer, principal clarinetist of the London Symphony Orchestra for 17 years and a founding member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Melos Ensemble, 90

Feb. 7: Svend Asmussen, Danish jazz violinist who collaborated with practically everyone of his generation, 100

Feb. 11: Harvey Lichtenestein, known for making the Brooklyn Academy of Music (“BAM”) into a performing arts center specializing in contemporary arts, 87

Feb. 12: Al Jarreau, legendary jazz singer, called “the voice of versatility” by the Chicago Tribune, 76


Stanislaw Skrowaczewski

Feb. 21: Stanisław Skrowaczewski, former conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, 93

March 5: Kurt Moll, German operatic singer known for performances as Baron Ochs and Der Rosenkavalier, among other very low bass roles.

March 18: Chuck Berry, the genre-defining rock ‘n’ roll guitarist, 90


Chuck Berry

April 16: Allan Holdsworth, British fusion guitarist and composer, 70

April 27:Eduard Brunner, Swiss clarinetist who was principal clarinet of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, 77

May 1: Erkki Kurenniemi, Finnish composer of electronic music, 76

May 2: Peter Komlós, founding first violin of the Bartók Quartet, 81

May 27: Greg Allman, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, 69

May 31: Jiří Bělohlávek, Czech conductor who gained international renown for performances of works by Dvořák and other Czech composers.

June 2: Jeffrey Tate, principal conductor in the 1980s of the English Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Opera House, in spite of having spina bifida, 74

June 6: Violinist Paul Zukovsky, a student of Ivan Galamian who premiered (among other works) Philip Glass’s Violin Concerto and appeared as Einstein in Einstein on the Beach, 73


Philip Gossett

June 13: Musicologist Philip Gossett, a genial scholar who worked tirelessly to restore Italian operas of the 18th and 19th centuries and served as general editor of the operas of Rossini and Verdi, 75

July 5: Pierre Henry, innovative composer of musique concrete and electroacoustic music, 89

Aug. 6: David Maslanka, composer of many works for wind ensemble as well as 8 symphonies and other orchestral works; 73

barbara cook

Barbara Cook

Aug. 8: Barbara Cook, the original Cunegonde in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide and Marian the Librarian in Meredith Willson’s Music Man, later renowned as a cabaret singer, 89

Aug. 8: Glenn Campbell, crooning and guitar-playing country singer, known as “The Rhinestone Cowboy” after one of his hit songs, 81

Sept. 3: Walter Becker, guitarist and co-founder of Steely Dan, 67

Sept. 27: Zuzuna Ruzickova, renowned harpsichordist and Nazi concentration camp survivor, 90

Oct. 2: Tom Petty, iconic leader of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 66

American Masters: Fats Domino and the Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Fats Domino

Oct. 24: Fats Domino, famed New Orleans R&B singer and boogie-woogie pianist, 89

Oct. 27: Ladislaw Kubík, Czech-American composer, 68

Nov. 11: Frank Corsaro, provocative and prolific director of opera productions at New York City Opera and other companies, 92

Nov. 12: Eric Salzman, composer and music critic, 84

Nov. 18: Malcom Young, guitarist/songwriter and co-founder of the Australian hard-rock band AC/DC, 64


Dmitri Hvorostovsky

Nov. 22: Dmitri Hvorostovsky, charismatic Siberian baritone who beat Bryn Terfel for the Cardiff Singer of the World award in 1989 and went on to world-wide popularity and fame, 55

Nov. 23: Carol Neblett, soprano who sang at the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan, and major opera houses around the world, 71

Nov. 30: Jim Nabors, a popular nightclub singer as well as a sitcom star of The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., 87


Typo corrected, 12/31/17

2017: The Year in Classical Music

Some outstanding concerts, and some changes of leadership in Boulder

By Peter Alexander

With the year drawing to a close, it is time to look back at 2017. It has been a tumultuous year in many realms, including some aspects of Classical music. But before that, it is good to remember the outstanding musical experiences of 2017 here in the Boulder area.

Pro Musica

The year began on an expressive high point when Pro Musical Colorado Chamber Orchestra, conductor Cynthia Katsarelis and soloists Jennifer Bird-Arvidsson, soprano, and Ashraf Sewailam, bass, presented Shostakovich’s rarely-heard Symphony No. 14.

I wrote at the time: “This somewhat gloomy meditation on death is not often given live, partly because of the difficult assignments facing the soprano and bass soloists, but mostly because of the difficult subject matter. But it is a major statement from a great composer—what Katsarelis calls ‘a piece that needs to be heard’—and so the rare performances are to be treasured.”

The February visit of Deborah (Call Me Debbie) Voigt to Macky Auditorium will be a cherished memory for fans of the classical voice. Voigt Lessons, the superstar soprano’s candid retelling of her struggles with relationships, substances, and weight that clouded her career not only showed some realities of life at the top of the opera world, it also revealed the very human person beneath the superstar image. For both reasons, this was a meaningful event.

Takasce SQ

Takacs Quartet

The Takacs Quartet always provides some of the year’s best performances. It’s hard to chose just one, but for 2017 I would single out their February concert including Beethoven’s Quartet in G major, op. 18 no. 2—performed while the Takacs was in the midst of a full Beethoven cycle at several venues—and CU music faculty Daniel Silver, clarinet, playing the Brahms Quintet in B minor, op. 115. An especially beautiful rendering of this beautiful work had at least one audience member in tears by the end.

March saw the arrival of another superstar in Boulder when Sir James Galway played at Macky Auditorium, and the departure of an important member of Boulder’s classical music community when Evanne Browne gave her farewell concert with Seicento Baroque Ensemble, the organization she founded in 2011.


Boulder Phil at Kennedy Center

One of the biggest events of the year for Boulder performing arts was the visit in March of the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Michael Butterman and Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance Company to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for the first annual Shift Festival of American Orchestras. The Phil repeated a concert they had given in Boulder a few days earlier, including the world premiere of All the Songs that Nature Sings by Stephen Lias and Copland’s Appalachian Spring, performed with Frequent Flyers.

An audience favorite of the festival, the Boulder Phil played to a sold out house. Butterman wrote the next day, “It was a peak experience for me, and, I think, for all of us at the Phil. . . . To be there with our orchestra, with that crowd and with that repertoire—it was something I shall never forget. We had a great sense of pride in representing our hometown.”

Several important changes of personnel were announced for Boulder classical scene in the spring. In April, Jean-Marie Zeitouni announced that he was stepping down as music director of the Colorado Music Festival. He will remain with CMF as principal guest conductor, and conductor/violinist Peter Oundjian will serve as artistic advisor for the 2018 season. Later the same month, James Bailey left his position as music curator of the Dairy Arts Center, to be replaced by Sharon Park.

Elliot Moore at Lake McIntosh - credit - Photography Maestro (1)

Elliott Moore

In May, Seicento Baroque Ensemble announced the appointment of Kevin T. Padworksi as artistic director, succeeding Browne, and the Longmont Symphony announced the appointment of Elliot Moore to succeed long-time music director Robert Olson.

The same month, the Boulder Chamber Orchestra wrapped up its 2016–17 season with its largest performance to date, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony presented in Macky Auditorium. The performance under conductor Bahman Saless was unfortunately the occasion of a protest by the anti-fracking group East Boulder County United. Seven members of EBCU blew whistles, shouted slogans and left flyers before the concert to voice their opposition to the orchestra having accepted a contribution from Extraction Oil & Gas.

Olga Kern

Olga Kern, photographed by Chris Lee at Steinway Hall.

Zeitouni proved to be anything but a lame duck conductor at the Colorado Music Festival. The 2017 season started at the end of June with an all-Russian program featuring exciting performances of Shostakovich’s Festive Overture and Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. On the same concert, one of Boulder’s favorite guest artists, pianist Olga Kern, gave scintillating performances of Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto and Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Other high points over the summer included the return of CMF’s founding director Giora Bernstein to lead a concert of Mozart, Zeitouni conducting Beethoven’s Ninth as the CMF centerpiece, and the visit of violinist Gil Shaham at the end of the summer season. Up in the mountains, Central City Opera’s Downton-Abbey-inspired Victorian-era production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte was one of the year’s highlights for opera lovers.

Another delight for the opera crowd came in the fall, with the CU Eklund Opera Program’s serio-comic production of Lehar’s Merry Widow. In November, Saless and the Boulder Chamber Orchestra returned to its core repertoire with a lively concert featuring two youthful works for smaller ensemble: the Concerto for piano, violin and strings by the 14-year-old Mendelssohn, with violinist Zachary Carrettin and pianist Mina Gajić, and Janáček’s Idyll for Strings.

Zachary & Mina

Carrettin and Gajic

Carrettin and Gajić were featured performers in December when the Boulder Bach Festival gave one of its most intriguing and adventurous concerts in its increasingly adventurous schedule. With guest artist Richie Hawley, the program offered insight into the instruments and performance practices of the early 20th century, performed on Hawley’s 1919 Buffet clarinet, Gajić’s 1895 Érard piano, and Carrettin’s violin set up with strings typical of the period.


# # # # #

For the classical music world outside of Boulder, the biggest news was certainly the intrusion of a long-overdue reckoning for sexual misconduct that is going on in our society generally. The first bombshell, not unexpected by people in the business but a bombshell nonetheless, landed Dec. 3 with the suspension of conductor James Levine from the Metropolitan Opera and other organizations, including the Boston Symphony and the Ravinia Festival. Accusations against Charles Dutoit, artistic director and principal conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London, surfaced later in the month.


James Levine

Both conductors are in the twilight of long careers. Rumors about Levine have been widely known in the classical music world; indeed I first heard them in the 1980s. Every music journalist I know has heard the same stories, but so far as I am aware, no one who experienced Levine’s assaults was previously willing to speak publicly. In the case of Dutoit, I had not heard the rumors, but I do know one of the women who spoke publicly about what happened to her, and I believe her unquestioningly.

As the controversy has swirled about the subject of sexual abuse, harassment and assault in classical music, several critics have written powerfully about the subject: Anne Midgette of the Washington Post, Jennifer Johnson of the Guardian, Andrew Riddles of Classical Ottawa to name three. Singer Susanne Mentzer has written about her personal experiences in the opera world for the Huffington Post, as has Dan Kempson for Medium.

There are certain to be more revelations. One major journalist has more first-hand information, with names including some of the of the most famous classical artists, and is preparing an article. I have no doubt that several men are nervously awaiting that story, or some other revelation that reveals past misdeeds.

Will this tidal wave reach Boulder?

It’s hard to say with certainty. I have spoken with many on the classical scene here, and the only rumor I have heard, from several sources, has been of inappropriate comments and behavior by one person, none of which reached the level of abuse or assault. “He might not have been hired today,” one person speculated, but as so often happens, the people who heard the comments preferred not to make an issue of it.

Another person told me he had never heard any rumor from the College of Music, so Boulder may escape the worst of this necessary but unhappy process. In the meantime, it is my wish for 2018 that society in general and the music world specifically create a safe environment, where powerful men do not feel free to behave like adolescent boys.


Edited for clarity 12.31.17

LIVESTREAM: You can see Jake Heggie’s opera that was workshopped at CU

It’s a Wonderful Life available Friday–Saturday, Nov. 10–11, from Indiana University

By Peter Alexander

It’s a Wonderful Life, the opera by Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer based on the beloved film of the same title, was workshopped in Boulder as part of the CU New Opera Workshop (CU NOW) in June, 2016. The world premiere followed at the Houston Grand Opera.


CU NOW workshop of Jake Heggie’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” June 2016. Heggie is at the far right, in blue. Photo by Peter Alexander

Now Boulder audiences will be able to see that original production, in a revised version of the score, through livestreaming from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Performances will be available live at 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time (7:30 p.m. EST), Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10 and 11. The performances will be streamed from the Musical Arts Center on the IU campus in Bloomington.

All live streams and archived performances from the Jacobs School of Music are available here.


Houston Grand Opera production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Photo by Brian Mitchell.

It’s a Wonderful Life was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera, with the Jacobs School of Music and the San Francisco Opera, all of whom will share the original production. The world premiere was in Houston Dec. 2, 2016. Indiana performances will be Nov. 10, 11, 16 and 17, with the first two streamed live.


Jake Heggie (left) with librettist Gene Scheer. Photo by Brian Mitchell.

The San Francisco Opera will present It’s a Wonderful Life during the 2018–19 season. After that, the next scheduled performances, and the first new production will be presented in Boulder by the CU Eklund Opera program in 2019.

Since the Houston opening, Heggie and Scheer have made a number of revisions to the opera. Heggie is currently in Bloomington observing rehearsals, to make sure that the changes work well on stage.

“The spots where it needed revision seemed very clear to me and to Gene, once we saw the production [in Houston],” Heggie says. “We cut a lot of material but we also rewrote, and I added new material where it was needed.”

Compared to the version performed in Houston and the workshop performances in Boulder, there are some major changes. “The whole prologue is cut way down so we get right into the story,” Heggie says. “We’ve tightened things up to make sure that we’re always telling the story.”


Houston Grand Opera production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Photo by Brian Mitchell.

Heggie has also written some new material. “I expanded two arias, one for George and one for Mary in Act I that really help them open their hearts, and then I’ve added a beautiful—I think—duet between Mary Bailey and Claire the angel in Act II,” he says.

While Heggie has made revisions in earlier operas, he says these are the most extensive changes he’s ever made. “We cut an entire character—Mr. Gower, the pharmacist,” he explains. “We realized that we actually didn’t miss anything. We got all of the information we needed elsewhere, and the thing is that in opera you’ve got to move things along so that there’s time for the music to tell the story.”

The result of all these changes is that the opera has been tightened to a total running time of less than two hours. Heggie expects that these will be the last changes he will make, meaning that the version livestreamed from Bloomington will be the same for both San Francisco and the CU production. “My hope is that we’re really set after IU, and that we don’t have to do any more tinkering or trimming,” he says.

Indiana University’s other performances online

The Jacobs School of Music livestreaming site is a broad resource for classical music audiences, and especially opera fans. The school has a long and distinguished history of high-quality opera productions and other performances, dating back more than 50 years. Past opera productions and concert performances of both classical music and jazz from the Jacobs School of Music are available on demand.


The Musical Arts Center at Indiana University, the venue for the Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater performances.

All but the very oldest of the archived opera streams include subtitles throughout. According to Philip Ponella, the Leonard Phillips and Mary Wennerstrom Director of the William and Gayle Cook Music Library at IU and director of Music Information Technology for the Jacobs School of Music, performances are generally archived if copyright restrictions allow, and left on the site for as long as practical. The project is still being developed, and policies may change.

The current site has performances archived, available on demand, from the past eight seasons. Opera performances on the site include standard repertoire, including Don Giovanni, Carmen and La Bohéme; less familiar rarities including Puccini’s La Rondine and L’Étoile by Emmanuel Chabrier; new works including The Tale of Lady Th Kính by P.Q. Phan; and several operas by Handel.


Philip Ponella

Ponella says that it is important for the school to provide public access to their performances, and they encourage access to their streams from around the country. “First of all, many of us are concerned about the future of classical music and opera and the kind of things that we do here,” Ponella says. “One thing [Jacobs School of Music] Dean Gwyn Richards says that resonates with many of us is, how can we be more relevant to more people.

“The other part is, we like to think that this is one of the best music schools in the United States, and when you’re not located in New York or Boston or Los Angeles, sometimes that’s a hard sell. This gives us the opportunity to walk the walk, and not just say this is a really great school.”

Ponella points out that the livestreamed performances also include a pre-performance presentation given by a musicology Ph.D. student in the school, presented 30 minutes before the livestream is scheduled to start. “As Dean Richards says, whenever we can, we show that we’re not just about performance but our academics are of equal quality. And the fact that we stream at this high level of quality points to the kind of institutional resources that we’re drawing upon as well.

“We’ve got a very large pipe out to the internet that many institutions don’t have access to, and (we have a) recording arts program and audio engineers.”

Classical Music Livestreamed from Indiana, Boulder, and around the World

IU is only one source of livestreamed performances available from around the world. In addition to the performances from the Jacobs School of Music, in Boulder faculty Tuesdays and other performances from the CU College of Music are available online.


Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

Opera is available from many different sources, mostly by subscription but with occasional free performances. Livestreaming from individual companies include the Metropolitan Opera, The Vienna State Opera, and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich . There are also sites that bring operas from many different companies, such as OperaVision with productions from several European countries. A careful Google search will turn up other sites.

With so many different sources of performances that you can watch live from home, wearing your PJs and enjoying a bowl of popcorn or a glass of wine, for the classical music lover it really can be a wonderful life.

I’ll meet you at the computer!


Houston Grand Opera production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Photo by Brian Mitchell.

From ‘Bachtoberfest’ to Carnival in Brazil, Boulder’s musicians plan celebrations

Boulder Bach Festival, Boulder Chorale announce 2017–18 seasons

By Peter Alexander

The Boulder Bach Festival and Boulder Chorale have announced their 2017–18 seasons, with globe-trotting celebrations from “Bachtoberfest” to Brazil to Venice.

imageOf the two, the Boulder Bach Festival (BBF) gets underway first with the “Bachtoberfest” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday , Oct. 12 in Boulder’s Seventh Day Adventist Church. The program will be repeated at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, in Longmont’s Stewart Auditorium.


Soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg

The concert—which actually has nothing to do with beer—will feature four guest soloists: violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock from the faculty of the Juilliard School; Guy Fishman, principal cellist of the Handel-Haydn Society of Boston; Chris Holman, historical keyboardist of the Bach Society in Houston; and Dutch soprano Josefien Stoppelenburg, who has appeared with the BBF several times in the past.

Violinist Zachary Carrettin, artistic director of the BBF will also play on the concert of 18th-century chamber music. The program includes trio sonatas and arias by Handel, Vivaldi, J.S. Bach and Telemann.

A particularly interesting item on the program that continues the BBF’s exploration of historical rarities is listed as a “Keyboard Concerto in G major” by Johann Christian Bach, arranged by Mozart. Known as “The London Bach” for having had a very successful musical career in that city, Johann Christian was the youngest of J.S. Bach’s sons. Mozart visited London while on tour with his family during the years 1763–66, when he was seven to 10 years old. He became friends with Bach, around 30 at the time.


Johann Christian Bach, portrait by Thomas Gainsborough

In order to learn how to write concertos, the young Mozart arranged three of Bach’s solo sonatas as concertos by adding passages for orchestra. These arrangements were originally included in Mozart’s works under the listing K107 nos. 1–3; the Concerto in G major is the second of the three. Rarely performed, because they are not strictly “by” either J.C. Bach or Mozart, they are nonetheless fascinating historical documents, revealing the young composer’s learning process.

There are two new scheduling features for BBF’s 2017–18 season: Boulder performances will all be on Thursdays, to avoid conflicts with other performing organizations; and the performances will be split between Boulder’s Seventh-Day Adventist Church and Longmont’s Stewart Auditorium. Some concerts will be presented in both venues, and others only in one or the other.


1895 Érard piano

For example, the second event on the season, a concert titled “A World Transformed,” will only be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, in the Stewart Auditorium in Longmont. The performance will feature Mina Gajić performing on her 1895 Érard grand piano together with Richie Hawley performing on a 1919 Parisian clarinet and Carrettin playing a  gut-string violin. They will play music of the early 20th century by Bartók, Ives, Berg and Antheil.

Likewise, the major Bach performance of the year will only be presented once, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15, in Boulder’s Seventh Day Adventist Church. Titled “The Eternal Spirit,” the program comprises four of Bach’s great sacred cantatas. Zachary Carrettin will lead the BBF Chorus and Orchestra with vocal soloists Josefien Stoppelenburg, soprano; Abigail Nims, mezzo-soprano; Derek Chester, tenor; and Ashraf Sewailam, bass-baritone.


Flutist Ismael Reyes

The final concert of the season will honor the musical heritage of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, with music by  prominent Venetian Baroque composers: Antonio Lotti, Giovanni Gabrieli, Tarquino Merulo and Antonio Vivaldi. The concert will end the season with one more piece by J.S. Bach, the Orchestral Suite in B minor with Ysmael Reyes playing the flute solos.

You can see the full Boulder Bach Festival season here.

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The Boulder Chorale (BC) opens its 52nd season with “Carnival Brazil,” at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, in Boulder’s First United Methodist Church. Titled “All Things Bright and Beautiful,” this will be BC’s ninth season combined with the Boulder Children’s Chorale and the third with artistic director Vicki Burrichter.



Carnival Brazil (Oct. 28) will see the BC sharing the stage with the Brazilian-music band Ginga and the Bateria Alegria, the percussion ensemble of the Boulder Samba School. That is only the beginning of the collaborative performances in a season that the BC is describing as “an adventurous exploration of different genres.”

The BC will be joined by JAMkeyJAM, a duo of Nepalese musicians who aim to combine ancient traditional music with contemporary sounds, March 10 and 11. The joint program, “Between Heaven and Earth,” will include a performance of Eliza’s Gilkyson’s Requiem, written in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

© Glenn Ross |

Vicki Burrichter

Later the same month, the chorale will appear with the Boulder Chamber Orchestra for a performance of Mozart’s Requiem (March 30 in Broomfield and 31 in Boulder), and they will close out the season May 19 and 20 with Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts, performed with a jazz combo.


The full Boulder Chorale season, including ticket information and performances by the Boulder Children’s Chorale not mentioned in this article, can be found here.

NOTE: Typos corrected 9.8.17




CU music faculty will appear on a new concert series at the Dairy Center

“CU at the Dairy” opens Sept. 7 with “Miraculous Mozart”

By Peter Alexander

Two of Boulder’s eminent arts organizations have joined together to inaugurate a promising new collaborative music series this fall.

The University of Colorado College of Music and the Dairy Arts Center have announced a series of concerts jointly sponsored by both organizations, to be held during the year in the Dairy’s Grace and Gordon Gamm Theater. “CU at the Dairy,” featuring music faculty members in collaboration with one another and other local artists, will supplement the free Faculty Tuesdays series of recitals in Grusin Hall.


The lobby of the Grace and Gordon Gamm Theater at the Dairy Arts Center

Based on early listings, the Grusin Hall Faculty Tuesday events will be more traditional recitals, while the CU at the Dairy will be more exploratory, collaborative, and in some cases will be multi-media events. In a news release from Aug. 16, the Dairy’s music curator, Sharon Park, says that the CU faculty “have such great ideas and projects they want to present. The Gordon [Gamm Theater] gives them an intimate venue to pair visual art, silent film, dance or any other art form with music.”


David Korenaar

The series gets underway Sept. 7 with “Miraculous Mozart,” featuring Helen and Peter Weil Professor of Piano David Korevaar playing and conducting Mozart’s piano concertos K449 in E-flat major and K450 in B-flat major. The small orchestra for these performances will include violinist Charles Wetherbee from the music faculty along with other faculty and alumni of the College of Music.


Alicia Svigals performing “The Yellow Ticket” in Vancouver

The following week a multi-media event will bring together representatives of the College of Music, CU’s Program in Jewish Studies and International Film Series. Yonatan Malin, faculty in the music theory area of the College of Music, will host the screening of “The Yellow Ticket” a silent film from 1918. The film, about a young Jewish woman studying medicine in Tsarist Russia, will be accompanied by Klezmer violinist Alicia Svigals and jazz pianist Marilyn Lerner performing Svigals’s original score live. Malin will also moderate a panel discussion with the performers and CU faculty members about film, music and cultural awareness.

“CU at the Dairy” will continue in the spring with a performance by Thompson Jazz Studies director John Gunther and friends. More details about these performances will appear on this Web page and in the pages of Boulder Weekly.

Tickets for all “CU at the Dairy” performances are available through the Dairy Center Box Office.