Musical artists we lost in 2021

Remembering those we lost over the past year

By Peter Alexander Dec. 30 at 2:15 p.m.

Below is my annual remembrance of musicians that we the living lost over the past year. Let us take a moment to feel gratitude for each one who touched us individually and collectively over their lives and careers. This list is of course not compprehensive. As always, it is quite personal. I may not include those whom you will miss most, and if so I invite you to add your own memories in the comments. 

Gerry Marsden

Jan. 3: Gerry Marsden, lead singer, guitarist and founder of Gerry & the Pacemakers, a Merseybeat group that was created in Liverpool, UK, in the 1950s and disbanded in 1966, and whose version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone” became the anthem of the Liverpool Football Club, 78

Jan. 6: Osian Ellis, Welsh harpist with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Melos Ensemble, who had a close musical partnership with Benjamin Britten, 92

Jan. 14: Elijah Moshinsky, celebrated Australian opera director who staged many productions at the Royal Opera House in London, as well as the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Scottish Opera, Opera Australia, Teatro all Scala and the Wiener Staatsoper, among others, 75

Sammy Nestico

Jan. 17: Phil Spector, renowned music producer who developed the “wall of sound,” producer of recordings by the Ronettes, Ike & Tina Tuner, and the Beatles “Let It Be” album; while serving a 19-year sentence for murder, 81

Jan. 17: Sammy Nestico, prolific American composer and arranger for Count Basie, the U.S. Air Force and Marine bands in Washington, D.C., and trombonist for the Tommy Dorsey, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa and other big bands, 96

Mary Wilson

Feb. 8: Mary Wilson, founding member and linchpin of The Supremes, one of the greatest and most influential of the Motown groups, from their first hit in 1963 and in all of their 12 No. 1 hits, 76

Feb. 9: Chick Corea, a virtuoso keyboard player who had great impact on the world of jazz, through both his creativity and his enjoyment of performing, and who worked with jazz artists from Stan Getz to Miles Davis before forming his own electric band, “Return to Forever,” 79

March 2: Bunny Wailer, born Neville Livingston, one of the original members of the esteemed and highly influential Wailers trio with Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, with whom he grew up as a near-stepbrother, and who won the Grammy for best Reggae Album three times, 73

Bunny Wailer

March 9: James Levine, one of the most admired conductors of the late 20th and early 21st centuries who over a 47-year tenure built the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera into one of the world’s best, until he was sidelined by health issues and fired after a long history of sexual improprieties caught up with him; loved by opera singers and Met audiences alike; also music director of the Chicago Symphony’s Ravinia Festival 1973–93, the Munich Philharmonic 1999–2004, and the Boston Symphony 2004–11; followed by accounts of abuse of younger men dating back to his student years, he was suspended and then fired by the Met when those accounts became public and subject to investigation, 77

March 13: Kenneth Cooper, harpsichordist and musical scholar, founder of the Berkshire Bach Ensemble, known for performing Baroque music with flair and creativity, 79

Christa Ludwig

April 7: Wayne Peterson, composer, professional jazz musician and professor of composition at San Francisco State University for more than 30 years who won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in composition, sparking a controversy because the Pulitzer committee had rejected the recommendation of the music jury, 93

April 24: Christa Ludwig, German mezzo-soprano known for both insightful opera and intimate art-song performances; loved by her fans and often called the greatest mezzo of her time, her diverse roles included Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, 93

April 26: Al Schmitt, multiple Grammy-winning recording engineer who produced recordings by Jefferson Airplane, Al Jarreau and Eddie Fischer, among others, and recorded Frank Sinatra, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, Diana Krall, and other artists over a span of 60 years, 91

Martin Bookspan

April 28: Paul Kellogg, a creative and imaginative opera impresario who led the Glimmerglass Opera from 1979—with no previous administrative experience—until 2006, and later the New York City Opera from 1996 until 2007, 84

April 29: Martin Bookspan, the voice of radio broadcasts of the Boston Symphony and the New York Philharmonic and announcer for “Live from Lincoln Center,” also an announcer for a soap opera and the author of books on music, among other careers, 94

Gianna Rolandi

June 20: Gianna Rolandi, American coloratura soprano known for her performances as Zerbinetta in Richard Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos and the title roles of Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen and Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, among other roles, during a career mostly centered on the New York City Opera, 68

June 20: Jeanne Lamon, violinist and for 33 years director of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra of Toronto, which became an international center for Baroque performance and brought their multi-media performance “Tales of Two Cities: the Leipzig-Damascus Coffee House” to Macky Auditorium in March 2019, 71

June 21: Mimi Stern-Wolfe, for many years a fixture of musical life on the Lower East Side of Manhattan who presented an annual concert of music by composers lost to AIDS, the founder of Downtown Music Productions, which presented concerts of music by women, music of the Holocaust, and other performances exploring lesser known realms, 84

June 26: Frederic Rzewski, composer of 36 variations on the Chilean protest song The People United will Never be Defeated, one of the great piano pieces of the past century, and himself a virtuoso pianist, known for his leftwing political convictions as well as his numerous musical works, 83

Frederic Rzewski

July 1: Louis Andriessen, Dutch composer influenced by Stravinsky, American minimalism and bebop, whose output included film music, two operas and other stage works, and what he called “big symphonic works . . . using the materials of the vernacular,” 82

July 9: Gil Wechsler, the first resident lighting designer at the Metropolitan Opera whose lighting designs were featured in more than 100 Met productions from 1977 until 1996, including some of the most lavish shows in the company’s history, 79

Jean Kraft. Photo by Douglas Merriam

July 15: Jean Kraft, American mezzo-soprano who sang 784 performances at the Metropolitan Opera from 1970 to 1989, including 11 telecasts and more than 75 radio broadcasts, in addition to performances at the Santa Fe Opera, Central City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Seattle Opera and Vienna State Opera, 94

July 17: Graham Vick, British opera director known for his efforts to reach new audiences, through diverse casting and use of non-traditional performing spaces, and his founding of Birmingham Opera, where he gave performances in English and kept ticket prices low, but who also directed productions at Glyndebourne, the Met, and other major houses, 67

July 20: Jerry Granelli, jazz drummer from Halifax, Nova Scotia , who was the last surviving member of the Vince Guaraldi Trio that recorded the music for “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and who as a session drummer played with jazz artists including Bill Evans and Bill Frisell, and also with Sly Stone, the Kingston Trio and the Grateful Dead, 80

Igor Oistrakh

Aug. 14: Igor Oistrakh, Russian violinist who performed and recorded extensively in the West throughout the Cold War, a member of the Oistrakh violin dynasty along with his father, David, and son, Valery, 90

August 14: Hugh Wood, British composer of symphonic, chamber and vocal works, largely unknown outside Great Britain, where he was well respected and received many commissions, 89

August 14: R. Murray Schafer, Canadian composer known for his concept of the soundscape and a leader in the field of acoustic ecology, founder of the World Soundscape Project, 88

August 21: Don Everly, the last surviving member of the Everly Brothers vocal duo who hit peak teen stardom in the late 1950s with hits including “Wake Up Little Susie” and ”Cathy’s Clown,” but were eclipsed in the early ‘60s by the Beatles and the other mega-groups of that decade, leading to a dramatic onstage breakup in 1973, 84

August 24: Charlie Watts, for more than 50 years the solid, un-flamboyant and jazz-inflected drummer of the Rolling Stones, who as a trained graphic artist also designed some of the Stone’s album covers, 80

Charlie Watts

Sept. 2: Mikis Theodorakis, Greek composer known internationally for his film music, including scores for Zorba the Greek, Z and Serpico, who also fought a war of resistance against the Greek military junta that took power in 1967, leading to his arrest and temporary banishment from Greece, 96

Paddy Maloney

Sept. 30: Carlisle Floyd, composer-librettist from the South best known for his opera Susannah, which transferred the Biblical tale of Susannah and the elders to Tennessee, and other operatic tales of Americana, long time faculty member at Florida State University in Tallahassee, 95

Oct. 1: Raymond Gniewek, concertmaster of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 43 years, a position to which he was appointed in 1957 at the age of 25, and who was instrumental in the orchestra’s rise to a first-class ensemble, 89

Oct. 12: Paddy Maloney, Irish musician, composer and producer, founder of the traditional Irish folk group The Chieftains, noted as a player of the uilleann pipes and the tin whistle, whose career spanned nearly 60 years and included collaborations with musicians as diverse as Sir James Galway, Chet Atkins, Mick Jagger, Sinéad O’Connor, and Van Morrison, 83

Edita Gruberova

Oct. 18: Edita Gruberova, Slovak-born coloratura soprano who debuted at the Wiener Staatsoper in 1970 as the Queen of the Night, a role in which she made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1977; also known for other coloratura roles during a career that lasted until 2001 with performances at Gyndebourne, the Bayerische Staatsoper, and La Scala, 74

Oct. 21: Bernard Haitink, chief conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra for 27 years who also conducted the London Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Dresden Staatkapelle, the Vienna Philharmonic and the Chicago Symphony, among others, at Glyndebourne and other opera companies, and made more than 450 recordings, 92

Slide Hampton

Nov. 11: Graeme Edge, drummer and co-founder of The Moody Blues who fell in love with rock ‘n’ roll as a boy, author of many of the group’s “Spoken word poems” attached to songs including “Knights in White Satin,” one of the songs for which they were best known, 80.

Nov. 20: Slide Hampton, jazz trombonist, composer ,arranger and Grammy-award winner who started playing trombone in his father’s band, then played with Dizzy Gillespie and Maynard Ferguson, among others, and led “The World of Trombones,” a band of up to nine trombones and a drummer; 89

Stephen Sondheim

November 26: Stephen Sondheim, one of the very few genuine titans of the Broadway stage of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, composer and lyricist who learned at the feet of family friend Oscar Hammerstein, broke onto Broadway with lyrics for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959) and then pointed to his future path writing music and lyrics for the Tony-Award winning A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962); in the following decades he provided music and lyrics for an astonishingly varied series of shows, including Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), Sunday in the Park with George (1984), and Into the Woods (1987); in the course of this career he collaborated with some of Broadway’s best, including director Hal Prince, orchestrator Jonathan Tunick and playwright/director/librettist James Lapine; 91

NOTE: Links to performances have been added after the original posting of this article.

Santa Fe Opera announces 2022 festival season

One world premiere, one company premiere, and three favorites

By Peter Alexander Nov. 5 at 11:40 p.m.

The Santa Fe Opera (SFO) has announced their 65th summer festival season, scheduled for July 1 through Aug. 27, 2022.

Robert Meya announcing the Santa Fe Opera’s 65th season

The festival will feature a world premiere and a company premiere, as well as three operatic favorites. The announcement was made by SFO general director Robert K. Meya on Thursday, Nov. 4. 

Following last year’s reduced season of four productions, the company returns to a full season of five different operas, played in repertoire throughout the summer.

The first of the operatic favorites to be performed in 2022 will be Bizet’s Carmen, opening the season on July 1. That will be followed by Rossini’s Barber of Seville on July 2 and Verdi’s Falstaff on July 16. A co-production with Scottish Opera, Falstaff will be presented in Sir David McVicar’s production, which is set in a wood structure resembling an Elizabethan theater of Shakespeare’s time.

Next in the summer’s rotation will be the company premiere of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. This will be the first piece by Wagner to be presented at the SFO since The Flying Dutchman in 1988, and the only Wagner to be presented other than Dutchman. Some performance start times at the SFO shift over the summer season, due to changing times of sunset, but due to length, all performances of Tristan und Isolde will begin at 8 p.m.

Rounding out the summer season will be SFO’s 18th world premiere, M. Butterfly, based on the 1988 Tony Award-winning play by David Henry Hwang, who is also the librettist, with music by Huang Rao. The play and opera were inspired by the true story of a French diplomat who carried on a 20-year affair with a star of the Peking Opera without discovering his lover’s remarkable secret. The production of this new work will recall the SFO’s productions of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, the opera that has opened all three of the company’s theaters, in 1957, 1968 and 1998.

Promotional art for the Santa Fe Opera/Scottish Opera production of Verdi’s Falstaff

Further information and the full calendar of performances are available at the Santa Fe Opera Web page. Both season subscriptions and individual performance tickets are now on sale through that portal, or by calling the box office at 505-986-5900 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (toll-free 1-800-280-4654). Currently, the SFO plans to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for all patrons 12 or older. Full details of the SFO health and safety policies and any updates can be found here.

CORRECTIONS: Typos corrected 11/6.

Central City Opera announces 2022 summer festival season

90th season is planned to be back in the beautiful Central City Opera House

By Peter Alexander Oct. 6 at 5:40 p.m.

Central City Opera has announced three delicious offerings for the 90th summer season in 2022, scheduled to be back in  the exquisite but small Central City Opera House in Central City, after last year’s outdoors performances at Hudson Gardens in Littleton.

Opening Night at Central City Opera. Featured in Central City Opera’s 75th anniversary book, “Theatre of Dreams, The Glorious Central City Opera—Celebrating 75 Years.”

The 2022 season will open on July 2 and run through July 31. The two works scheduled for mainstage performances in the Central City Opera House will be Die Fledermaus, the frothy Viennese operetta by Johann Strauss, Jr., and  The Light in the Piazza, a 2005 Broadway show by Adam Guettel—Richard Rodgers’s grandson—based on a novella by American writer Elizabeth Spencer. The third production will be Two Remain, a two-act opera by Jake Heggie and Gene Scheer based on the true stories of Holocaust survivors Krystyna Zywulska and Gad Beck. Two Remain will be performed in the Martin Foundry in Central City.

The mainstage productions promise lighter fare for next summer, with no murder-for-hire plots (Rigoletto, 2021), suicides (Carousel, 2021, and Madame Butterfly, 2019), hangings (Bully Budd, 2019), or burnings at the stake (Il Trovatore, 2018). This may be just what audiences need after the COVID pandemic; I for one look forward to a summer without operatic death. I also look forward to all three works: one I love (Die Fledermaus) and two that I am eager to discover (The Light in the Piazza and Two Remain).

Central City Opera has provided the following descriptions of the works in the 2022 season:

  • The light comic operetta Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss Jr. premiered in 1874 and continues to be treasured by audiences today. Gabriel von Eisenstein playfully tosses his friend Doctor Falke out of a carriage en route home from a lavish costume party. Dressed in a ridiculous bat disguise, Falke is now known about town as Doctor Bat, or Die Fledermaus. Later, Eisenstein is attempting to dodge a short jail sentence for yet another overture of mischief. Under the guise of one final night on the town, Falke launches a champagne-soaked prank with the help of Eisenstein’s wife Rosalinde, determined to entertain the evening’s dinner party host Prince Orlofsky.
  • A 2005 Broadway premiere by composer Adam Guettel (grandson of Richard Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein), The Light in the Piazza sees strong-willed Southern housewife Margaret Johnson and her charming daughter Clara vacationing in Italy in the summer of 1956. Margaret hopes the magic and memories of Florence will sweep her off her feet, but it’s Clara and earnest inamorato Fabrizio who fall in love at first sight. Torn from their guidebooks, mother and daughter must brave blossoming love, buried secrets and a startling cultural clash to uncover the hopeful new chapters they didn’t know they’d been searching for.
  • Two Remain tells the powerful true stories of Holocaust survivors Krystyna Zywulska and Gad Beck. Premiering in 2016 under the title Out of Darkness, the two-act opera was commissioned by Music of Remembrance at Benaroya Hall in Seattle and composed by Jake Heggie. The libretto by Gene Scheer is based on documents and journals found in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Central City Opera’s production will be the Colorado regional premiere of this stunning piece.

New subscriptions to Central City Opera will be available in January, 2022. Single tickets will go on sale April 1, 2022. More information and access to tickets sales can be found on the Central City Opera Web page.

NOTE: Typo corrected 10/7.

Takács Quartet recording wins Gramophone award for 2021

Piano Quintet recording with pianist Garrick Ohlsson winner in chamber category

By Peter Alexander Sept. 28 at 11:30 a.m.

The London-based classical music monthly Gramophone recently announced the winners of their Classical Music Awards for 2021, including a recording by the Takács Quartet and pianist Garrick Ohlsson in the chamber music category.

Primarily a magazine devoted to reviews of new recordings, Gramophone annually selects the recordings it considers to be the best in a variety of categories. For 2021, the winner in the Chamber Music category is Ohlsson and the Takács’s recording of piano quintets by Sir Edward Elgar and Amy Beach. This CD was reviewed on this site earlier this year.

Jeremy Dibble’s Gramophone review, which is included in the announcement of the winner, states “Ohlsson and the Takács are to be congratulated for the warmth of their interpretation and for their ability to encompass the challenging range of Elgar’s complex moods.”

You may see the full list of 2021 Gramophone Classical Music Awards winners here. The winners are all automatically in contention for Gramophone’s award for Classical Music Recording of the Year. That award will be announced at the Gramophone Awards ceremony, which will be available online at 12 noon MDT (7 p.m. BST) Tuesday, Oct. 5, on the Gramophone YouTube channel.

Joining a growing trend, Boulder Chamber Orchestra plans return to the stage

2021-22 season will celebrate heroes and mourn victims of the past year

By Peter Alexander June 25 at 5:24 p.m.

Bahman Saless, music director of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra (BCO), can hardly wait to get back in front of a live audience

Bahman Saless and the Boulder Chamber Orchestra.

“Oh my god yes, I’m dying!” he says.

The BCO recently announced their 2021–22 season, which will feature a mix of orchestra concerts and mini-chamber concerts through the coming year—very much the pattern of previous seasons. “People want to feel that normalcy is back, and that was the whole plan,” Saless says. “We haven’t gone anywhere, we’re here, and we’re going to have a super season!”

For those who prefer to retain some social distancing in public situations, Saless points out that the current location of most of their concerts, Boulder’s Seventh-Day Adventist Church, had a large space that does not usually sell out. 

“We never filled all the seats, because Seventh Day Adventist is pretty big.” He says. “I think the same number of people will want to come back, in which case they would still be OK. They could occupy the entire place, sitting  every other seat. We’re all crossing our fingers that things will get even better and they will get back to normal by October. I’m pretty confident we should be OK.”

Saless says the programs were chosen to fit the timing, of opening up again after a pandemic. “We’re going to celebrate heroes, the people that were in the front line with COVID,” he says. “That’s the first concert, with the Beethoven “Eroica” (Symphony). And then (we remember) the victims, which is the last concert.”

Howard Goodall

The major piece on that closing concert is Eternal Light by British composer Howard Goodall, a piece that Saless says recalls his years in a British boarding school. “I was homesick for so long about English hymn tunes,” he says. “When I heard this piece I was like ‘Oh my God, this is what I’ve wanted to do!’ I thought it would be very fitting to dedicate that concert to the people who lost their lives to COVID. And it’s absolutely gorgeous.”

Most of the rest of the season is music that Saless had originally planned for the “lost” season of 2020-21.

A discounted season ticket for the 2021–22 season is available here. You may purchase tickets to the individual concerts by clicking through from that page to the listing of each concert.

# # # # #

Mini-Chamber Concert
Members of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra performing string quintets

  • Dvorak: String Quintet, Op. 97
  • Mozart: String Quintet in G Minor, K. 515

8 PM, Sept. 23, 2021, Boulder Seventh-Day Adventist Church

“Celebrating the Heroes”: All-Beethoven Concert
Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Bahman Saless, conductor, with
Jennifer Hayghe, piano

  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major (“Eroica”)
  • Beethoven: Concerto for Piano No. 4 in G major

7:30 PM, Oct. 23, 2021, Boulder Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Maxime Goulet

“A Gift of Music”: Celebrating the Season with BCO Stars
Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Bahman Saless, conductor, with
Joey Howe, cello, and Kellan Toohey, clarinet

  • Maxime Goulet:  Symphonic Chocolates
  • Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme
  • Mozart: Clarinet Concerto

7:30 PM, Dec. 11, Boulder Seventh-Day Adventist Church

“Diversions in History”
Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Bahman Saless, conductor, with
Andrew Staupe, piano, and Sam Dusinberre, trumpet

  • Johann Christian Bach: Concerto for Piano in E-flat
  • Dimitri Shostakovich: Concerto for Piano No. 1
  • Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings.

7:30 PM, Jan. 29, 2022, Boulder Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Mini-Chamber concert
Program TBA
Feb. 12, 2022.

“Eternal Light”
Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Bahman Saless, conductor, with
Boulder Chorale, directed by Vicki Burrichter

  • Vladimir Martynov: Come in! (Colorado premiere)
  • Howard Goodall: Requiem Eternal Light (in memory of the lives lost due to the pandemic; Colorado premiere)

8 PM. April 1, 2022, First United Methodist Church

Colorado Music Festival expands ticket availability

Danish Quartet replaced with Brooklyn Rider

By Peter Alexander June 11 at 4 p.m.

The Colorado Music Festival has announced that seats in the first five rows of Chautauqua Auditorium are now available for all festival concerts.

Those seats had previously been withheld from sale in order to maintain a safe distance between musicians and audience members. However, it is has now been determined that those seats may be occupied safely. Those rows are now being sold at full capacity.

Brooklyn Rider. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano

Furthermore, the planned “bubble seating” to maintain distance between concert patrons in the auditorium has been removed. This means that you may purchase less than a full bubble, and you may end up sitting next to another patron who is not part of your party. You may read the full health and safety plan for the summer at Chautauqua here.

Those are not the only changes that have been announced for the CMF 2021 season. The Danish String Quartet, previously scheduled for the Robert Mann Chamber Music Series for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3, has now been replaced by Brooklyn Rider. Due to COVID, the Danish String Quartet was unable to travel to the United States. 

Brooklyn Rider will play three works: Schisma (2019 by Caroline Shaw, Tenebrae (2002) by Osvaldo Golijov, and Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14, (“Death and the Maiden”). Known for collaborations with artists from differing musical traditions , Brooklyn Rider appeared at CMF during last year’s virtual festival.

Tickets to the Danish String Quartet performance will be valid for the Brooklyn Rider performance on the same date. If you prefer to exchange your tickets or request a refund, you may contact the Chautauqua box office by email (boxoffive@chautauqua.com) or at their walk-up tickets kiosk at Chautauqua by June 23.

Boulder Phil appoints new executive director

Collaborative pianist Sara Parkinson uses her musical skills in administration, too

By Peter Alexander June 3 at 2:30 p.m.

The new executive director of the Boulder Philharmonic credits her musical training for her success in administration.

Sara Parkinson

Sara Parkinson was recently appointed the Phil’s executive director, following nearly a year as interim director. Before that, she was director of education and community engagement for the orchestra. 

But she was trained in collaborative piano—including what you might call “accompanying”—a field in which she holds a doctorate from CU Boulder.

The job of the collaborative pianist is to solve problems. Whether accompanying a single soloist or playing in a chamber group, they must listen to and respond to the other players. If their collaborators skip a beat or lose their place, they must seamlessly make things right—which is not all that different from the job of directing an artistic organization.

“Absolutely, I have transferred all of my skills that I use as a pianist into the boardroom,” Parkinson says. “Stepping into this role during the pandemic year, seeing an organization through a crisis—I was cut out for situations like that. (As a collaborative pianist) you make things work. And beyond that, you see how to make it better.”

As for the responsibility she has been given to lead the organization, “It’s beyond an honor to see Boulder Phil through a crisis, and now to head into the future that is so bright,” she says.

“This is an exciting time, with (music director) Michael Butterman’s 15th season upon us, and my first season in this role, but we are a team and we are already talking about three years into the future. We have exciting plans in the works.”

One particular challenge for Parkinson was that she steeped into the interim director role during the pandemic. There was literally no guidance for running an orchestra at a time when they couldn’t play for an audience.

“There was no playbook,” she says. “I blazed my own path by bringing people together, which I have done throughout my career. That allowed me to lead in a way that I never had before, and to see the possibilities in the crisis. We continued to connect with our patrons, to build a full virtual season, not only with our main series concerts but with our education program. 

“Our discovery program, a highlight of the year for local schools—we pivoted online and we have reached over 16,000 students throughout the world. That includes 23 states and four different countries. Who knew that we could expand our reach that far?”

Parkinson has made it a priority to support Butterman and facilitate his goals. “My collaborative approach to everything really helps that relationship,” she says. “And I want to focus on our musicians. So many of the musicians in the orchestra are colleagues of mine. I’ve made music with so many of them, and they are the reason why I go to work every day.”

If moving into administration makes use of her skills as collaborative pianist, Parkinson is not giving up her life as performer. “Keeping that passion [for performance] alive—that’s not something I’ll leave behind,” she says.

Parkinson has served on the staff and faculties of University of Colorado at Boulder, Cornell College in Iowa and Metropolitan State University of Denver. She performs with the Colorado Ballet Orchestra and members of the Colorado Symphony, and she is a founding member of the tango ensemble Grande Orquesta Navarre. She made her operatic conducting debut in 2018 leading Mozart’s Così fan tutte for Boulder Opera, and she served as music director at St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church in Boulder 2015–2020. She holds degrees in piano performance from the University of Iowa and the New England Conservatory of Music, in addition to her doctorate in collaborative piano from CU. 

Q and A about the proposed Longmont Performing Arts Center

A conversation with Bob Balsman of the Longmont Performing Arts Initiative and Longmont City Councilman Tim Waters

By Peter Alexander May 25 at 4:35 p.m.

Members and advocates of the Longmont arts community have proposed a new Performing Arts Center for the city, to be built in conjunction with a Convention and Events Center. With the support of Visit Longmont and the City of Longmont, private funds were raised for a feasibility study conducted by Johnson Consulting, a real estate and consulting firm with experience in the planning of performance venues. Their feasibility study was recently submitted to and accepted by the Longmont City Council. If carried through, this project would have enormous impact on performing arts organizations and audiences in Longmont and throughout Boulder County. 

Bob Balsman

To clarify some of the questions surrounding the project, I sat down—virtually—with Bob Balsman, president of the Longmont Performing Arts Initiative (LPAI, pronounced l’PIE) and Longmont City Councilman Tim Waters, who is one of several supporters of the project in city government. Here is a lightly edited version of our conversation.

Bob Balsman, you are president of LPAI, which played a role in the proposed project from the very beginning. Exactly what is LPAI?

BB: The Longmont Performing Arts Initiative is an association made up of several of Longmont’s major non-profit performing arts groups: The Centennial State Ballet, the Longmont Chorale, the Longmont Concert Band, the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, the Longmont Youth Symphony, and the Long’s Peak Chorus. Together we have hundreds of people that participate directly in the performing arts, and we all perform before thousands of people in the greater Longmont area.

Tim Waters

Tim Waters, I assume most people reading this will know what the City Council is. But I believe politics is relatively new for you.

TW: My professional life put me at the nexus of research and leadership and policy and politics, without ever running for elective office. I turned the page from retirement into a new chapter and started attending City Council meetings so [city councilor Marcia Martin] would have somebody to process the issues with. The more I attended, the more interested I got in the issues. When Brian Bagley was elected mayor, the seat for Ward 1 opened up, and since I had been attending meetings, I thought, you know, this is kind of interesting.

Please describe the project that we’re talking about. 

BB: We’re working towards the construction of a performing arts facility in Longmont. Our overall hope is to see Longmont have a new venue in the range of somewhere between 1000 and 1500 seats, and later that we would also have a smaller venue of about 500 seats. 

And the plan is to combine the performing arts facility with a convention and events center?

BB: Event space is desperately needed in Longmont ever since the Plaza closed a couple of years back and now has been sold. There is no suitable space for gatherings of 200 or more people—even a large-scale wedding reception, not to mention conventions and trade shows. Visit Longmont has estimated that in the past couple of years alone they’ve lost out on 2.6 million dollars worth of business. So these are significant needs in the community.

Where do we stand now on the project?

BB: We first started work on this publicly back in 2018, I believe it was, when we spoke before City Council about the needs for such a center. Since then, members of LPAI have formed into a nonprofit, raised more than half the cost of a feasibility study. That study [performed by Johnson Consulting] has now been completed with a presentation to the City Council, so we’re looking forward to the next steps as soon as those numbers are finalized and validated by city staff.

With the two facilities together, what is the cost of the proposed facility?

BB: According to the feasibility study, that is estimated to be up to $158 million. That’s a pretty big price tag, but we were encouraged when the consultants said those were high estimates, and that they had seen quality venues constructed for 25% less.

Where will that money come from?

TW: We’ve seen the estimates of $105 to $158 million, and I think the City ought to have an investment in that. I think the private sector ought to have an investment in that. LPAI will have to organize a capital campaign to raise private sector money. But I don’t think a project like this can or should be accomplished without an investment by the city. How big a bite that will be is going to depend on a whole lot of variables. With today’s interest rates, we could probably generate $65 million or so of city revenue without having to raise taxes. It’s not simple, but there’s a way to get there. 

Also, the projected site is in an opportunity zone. There may be an investor out there who would like to move some money to avoid capital gains taxes somewhere else into a project like this. The City could aggregate the land and then lease it to a developer. That could substantially lower the top-line cost, on a 30-year lease in a public-private partnership. So there are a variety of funding mechanisms to get it done.

Where is the projected site for the facility?

BB: In the feasibility study, there were five different locations that were identified, and a couple were ruled out for various reasons, including that they’re not even in the City proper right now. The prime location that was identified was in southern downtown near the First and Main intersection, what’s called the “Building Steam” area. That area was identified because of certain advantages, which include the overlap of a few different incentive zones, to help make the financing easier. And there’s also mention of transportation that’s going to be there, nearby parking that will help the facility.

What does it mean that the consultant’s reports was ‘accepted’ by the City Council?

TW: It’s a great question. We accepted the report, and tasked the staff with investigating it.

BB: That was a unanimous acceptance, and then they directed again unanimously for City staff to investigate the numbers, which means double-check everything. Then will be the next steps, how do we get from ‘OK, we know what’s recommended’ to we open the doors some time down the road.

What will those next steps look like?

TW: In terms of steps going forward, if the city is going to invest, then LPAI, in partnership with others, needs to come back with decisions that have to be made. These aren’t problems, they’re just areas where we need to make decisions, like how to we think about governance of the facility, what does the business plan look like, what are the assumptions that have to be made such as if you’re going to have a successful business plan, then you need to have this number of performances and this kind of occupancy—which gets into some of the numbers the consultants had.

On that question, who will be responsible for operating the facility?

BB: You know, one of the better models that we have seen is the formation of a nonprofit governing entity that can make all of these decisions for the facility, while another entity actually operates it.

TW: So LPAI as a nonprofit contracts with a manager—there are people out there in the business of managing these kinds of facilities, booking talent and implementing a business plan. I would assume what you do is contract a pro.

BB: None of us in LPAI operate our own venues. We can see what looks like a good decision or a bad decision, but the hands-on, day-to-day work is not something that we are accustomed to. So you have a governing body making policy decisions, LPAI or some other group, and then you have operational staff.

I know that the facility is intended not only for LPAI members and other local groups, but for touring acts as well.

BB: The intention is not to just provide the six LPAI groups with a home. To make it work economically, and to benefit the community, the intention is to bring in outside groups that right now, everybody goes out of Longmont to see because they just do not come to town. You see an awful lot of touring acts that really have nowhere to go in Longmont. For example, you could think of jazz artists like Michael Bublé or Diana Krall. Why don’t you see these people come to Longmont? Because in Longmont, the only places which are large enough to hold an audience for any performer of this caliber, to make it economical, are churches and schools.

People might ask about the school auditoria. Can they accommodate touring shows?

BB: There are some that were built for performances, but you run into many scheduling conflicts for their intended purposes, which is education. Hosting performances is not their deal, and that’s not why people pay taxes to support the schools. There’s another obstacle in that only three of them, I’m told, have dedicated tech staff. The others are operated largely by volunteers.

When you talk about touring shows, that raises the possibility of bringing in audiences from outside Longmont. 

BB: I see a performing arts hall drawing from all of the surrounding communities.

That should have an economic impact on Longmont as well.

BB: In the feasibility study the consultants identified an annual impact to Longmont of, a positive impact of $8 million injected into the local economy just by having these facilities. If the project is built in phases, that’s $6.5 million per year for Phase I, and then hotel stays go up by about $21,000 some, plus sales and hotel taxes coming back to the city of about $621,000 per year. And then jobs, just Phase I, it’s an estimated 173 new jobs, or $5.6 million per year in increased earnings.

By the time you get to Phase II, you get taxes that come back from sales and hotel taxes of $872,000 per year, and 245 total jobs. That’s some pretty impressive statistics. When you first see that big price tag, you think how are we going to get to there and this is nothing but a expense, but no, it’s not just an expense. The reason that these things get built is that they are a catalyst. Yeah, it costs something to build them, but then you get an annual return back into the economy

Are there other benefits to the community that we should talk about?

TW: We currently have no place in Longmont to bring kids who might aspire for, if not a career at least a lifetime in the arts. There is no venue to take them to say ‘imagine yourself here.’ I can imagine in a performing arts facility like we’re talking about bringing world-class entertainment to town, with an educational outreach task that goes with every one of them. That expands the horizons and the education experience of all the kids in this community, in ways that we simply don’t get a chance to do right now. So, let’s imagine that we could bring Hamilton here. What an educational opportunity for every kid in this town, whether you aspire to be an artist or not, to look at American history thorough the arts. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways that the lives of our children can and should be enriched that simply aren’t options for us today in Longmont.

Are there misconceptions about this project that should be corrected?

TW: Right off the top is, ‘If you do this there’s a bunch of other things we can’t do. If you do this, we won’t serve well our most disadvantaged residents.’ That’s a misconception that somehow we either lack the resources or the capacity to do this. The argument, if you do this you can’t do something else, I think is a bogus argument. I think it’s a scarcity mentality and a view of the world as a zero-sum experience,. I just don’t see it that way.

I think another misconception is that that ultimately it will serve an elite constituency in Longmont. On the contrary, we have a bunch of people in this town, children in particular. This serves the entire community.

BB: I’d say it’s definitely not elitist. Longmont’s performing arts scene does include more than the LPAI organizations. We have other groups, such as Bario E’ in town that’s from Puerto Rico, for example. And other groups that represent other ethnic groups. And aside from that, none of these people are paid to do what they do. This is all a grass-root effort. What you’re looking at when you see LPAI and the other groups around town is a large-scale volunteer effort. People want to be involved in these groups. It’s certainly not just for the advantaged.

Thank you both for spending some time with me and answering my questions.

You may access the feasibility study that was presented to the Longmont City Council and other documents here.

A statement on the Longmont Center by City Council Member Marcia Martin is here.

Boulder Philharmonic announces 2021–22 season

Live concerts again at last, and a return to CU Macky Auditorium in January

By Peter Alexander 8 a.m. May 22

The Boulder Philharmonic is taking cautious steps back to the future.

In other words, they will return to full orchestral concerts in Macky Auditorium, suspended for the COVID-19 pandemic, but not all at once. In announcing their 2021–22 season, they have revealed a schedule that will feature four small orchestra concerts in a smaller space in the fall, followed by a return to Macky in January, 2022.

Boulder Philharmonic and conductor Michael Butterman in Macky Auditorium

Those will not necessarily be full capacity concerts. According to a statement from the orchestra, they have “developed health and safety protocols to ensure a safe environment for performers, audience members, staff, and volunteers. Measures will include adjusting venue capacity and seating plans, and wearing masks. Plans will adjust in response to public health measures as they evolve in the coming months.”

The fall portion of the season will take place in Mountain View United Methodist Church in Boulder (355 Ponca Place). There will be two programs, each presented twice without intermission (see full schedule below) and led by the orchestra’s music director, Michael Butterman. The first will be a program of music for chamber orchestra, including Haydn’s very first symphony, composed in 1759, and the second a program of 20th-century music from Europe influenced by jazz, featuring works by the Russian Shostakovich, the French composer Darius Milhaud and the German Kurt Weill.

December will see a return of the evergreen Nutcracker ballet, performed by the Boulder Phil with Boulder Ballet in Macky Auditorium. CU music prof. Gary Lewis will conduct. Tickets to Nutcracker will be available in the fall.

The Marcus Roberts Trio will join the Boulder Phil for their first concert back in Macky Auditorium

After the holidays, the Phil will present a subscription series of six concerts, January through May. These concerts will feature guests soloists and collaborations, starting with the “Opening Weekend” concert Jan. 22, a “Gershwin Celebration.” Renowned jazz pianist Marcus Roberts and his Trio will join the Phil for a performance of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F on a program that also features An American in Paris. This program will be repeated at the Lone Tree Arts Center Jan. 23.

Violinist Rachel Barton Pine returns to Boulder Feb. 12 to play the world premiere of the Violin Concerto by Grammy-winning jazz pianist Billy Childs. Pine was in Boulder in 2014, when she played the Berg Violin Concerto with the Philharmonic. Other soloists through the spring will be pianist Terence Williams, who will play Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto March 19; Philharmonic concertmaster Charles Wetherbee, who will play The Butterfly Lovers Concerto on a program that will also feature Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance, April 30; recent Grammy winner violist Richard O’Neill, who will play William Walton’s Viola Concerto May 14; and ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, who will appear with the Phil and his trio, May 28.

Subscription packages of the six concerts in 2022 go on sale Monday, May 24. Subscription purchasers can add any of the concerts at Mountain View Methodist Church at a discounted price. Any remaining single tickets will be available in September, along with Nutcracker tickets. Information and, starting on Monday, subscription purchases will be available on the Boulder Phil Web page

# # # # #

Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra
Michael Butterman, music director
2021-22 Season Schedule

Michael Butterman. Photo by Shannon Palmer

“Together Again”
Michael Butterman, conductor

  • Haydn: Symphony No. 1 in D Major
  • —Sinfonia concertante in B-flat Major
  • Frank Martin: Petite symphonie concertante, op. 54

4 & 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3 (no intermission)
Mountain View United Methodist Church, 355 Ponca Place, Boulder

“The Art of Jazz”
Michael Butterman, conductor

  • Shostakovich: Jazz Suite No. 1
  • Darius Milhaud: The Creation of the World, op. 81a
  • Kurt Weill: Little Threepenny Music

4 & 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30 (no intermission)
Mountain View United Methodist Church, 355 Ponca Place, Boulder

The Nutcracker with Boulder Ballet
Gary Lewis, conductor

2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26, Saturday Nov. 27 and Sunday, Nov. 18
7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27
Macky Auditorium

Opening Weekend: “Gershwin Celebration”
Michael Butterman, conductor
Marcus Roberts Trio: Marcus Roberts, piano; Rodney Jordan, bass; Jason Marsalis, drums

  • Gershwin: An American in Paris
  • —Piano Concerto in F

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022 
Macky Auditorium

1:30 p.m. Sunday Jan. 23, 2022
Lone Tree Arts Center

Rachel Barton Pine. Photo by Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Michael Butterman, conductor, with Rachel Barton Pine, violin

  • Billy Childs: Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (world premiere/co-commission)
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12
Macky Auditorium

Michael Butterman, conductor, with Terrence Wilson, piano

  • Cindy McTee: Circuits
  • Alan Hovhaness: Symphony No. 2, “Mysterious Mountain”
  • Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3

7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19, 2022
Macky Auditorium

The Firebird & Frequent Flyers
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Charles Wetherbee, violin
Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance

  • Mason Bates: Undistant
  • He Zhanhao/Chen Gang: The Butterfly Lovers’ Violin Concerto
  • Rimsky Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture
  • Stravinsky: Firebird Suite (1919)
Richard O’Neill

7:30 pm. Saturday, April 30, 2022
Macky Auditorium

Michael Butterman, conductor, with Richard O’Neill, viola

  • Anny Clyne: Sound and Fury
  • William Walton: Viola Concerto
  • Elgar: Enigma Variations

7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, 2022
Macky Auditorium

Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele, and trio, with the Boulder Phil
Michael Butterman, conductor

7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 28, 2022
Macky Auditorium

Boulder-area summer festival tickets go on sale

Central City Opera, Colorado Music Festival tickets now available for purchase

By Peter Alexander April 21 at 10:15 p.m.

Two area organizations have now put tickets on sale for their summer festival seasons. Both Central City Opera and the Colorado Music Festival had announced their summer seasons earlier, but now tickets to individual events may be purchased for both. Both festivals will take place more or less as in past years, but with some important changes in access and ticketing brough about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central City Opera will present all of its performances this summer at outdoor venues. Two mainstage productions—Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel and Verdi’s Rigoletto—will be presented at Hudson Gardens in Littleton, Colorado. There will be three differently-priced seating sections: a “VIP Section” closest to the stage, with seats provided; and two areas on the lawn farther back from the Hudson Gardens Concert Amphitheater where patrons can bring their own chair or blanket. 

Concert Amphitheater at Hudson Gardens

A smaller production of Henry Purcell’s Baroque-era opera Dido and Aeneas will be performed in the Central City Opera House Gardens. Relatively few seats are available for these performances.

For more information and dates of performances, see the previous article on Central City Opera on this blog, or the Central City Opera’s 2021 Festival listing. 

Tickets for all three productions may be purchased through the Central City Web page or or by phone through the Central City Opera box office, at (303) 292-6700. Due to COVID, there are no in-person box office sales. Frequently asked questions (FAQ) for the 2021 Central City Opera summer festival are listed here.  

The Colorado Music Festival will return to their usual home at the Chautauqua Auditorium for all summer programs—a total of 22 performances—but because it is an indoor facility, the auditorium brings its own problems.

Chautauqua Auditorium

The CMF will address health concerns by selling tickets in “bubbles” of 2, 3 or 4 seats, with appropriate distance between the bubbles. All tickets within each bubble will be sold together, so there will be no single tickets available for the summer. Because the orchestra has to expand the stage to maintain safe distances between the musicians, the first six rows of seats will not be available. Most aisle seats will be held back as well.

A full chart of seats available for sale, as well as answers to ticketing FAQs, can be found here. For a description of the 2021 summer festival, you may read the previously published post on this blog, or consult the calendar on the CMF Web page. You may also purchase tickets through the CMF calendar page.