Coming week at CMF will feature new music, commissions, premieres

Commissioned work by Hannah Lash July 22, all Joan Tower program July 25

By Peter Alexander July 20 at 12:10 a.m.

Hannah Lash always wanted to be a composer.

“One of my earliest memories was that the reason I wanted to take violin lessons was that I wanted to be a composer,” she says. “So I had that thought in my head from a very early age.”

Hannah Lash. Photo by Karjaka Studios

Mission accomplished. Lash started on Suzuki violin, later studied piano and harp, and now teaches composition at Yale. Her new piece Forestallings was co-commissioned by the Colorado Music Festival, where it will be premiered Thursday (July 22) by the Festival Orchestra and conductor Peter Oundjian.

The same program will feature Kevin Puts’s Concerto for Marimba with guest soloist Ji Su Jung and Oundjian’s arrangement of Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor. The Lash score matches well with Beethoven, since it was originally planned as part of the 2020 Beethoven bicentennial.

In fact, Forestallings was commissioned by CMF and the Indianapolis Symphony to accompany Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2. “I was really happy about that, because I really like that symphony,” Lash says. “It’s underplayed, and I’m really happy when it’s performed. It was fun to find some way of having a relationship to (the symphony).” 

Her score does not quote Beethoven, but “gesturally it has touch points,” she says. “The first gesture of the first movement has a great deal to do with Beethoven. Then it goes in very different directions. These moments of opening a window between me and Beethoven were important to me.”

Ji Su Jung

Puts has written that his Concerto for Marimba “reflects my love for Mozart’s piano concertos,” with the influence “mostly in the relationship between the soloist and orchestra.” Listeners may also hear a strong kinship to lyrical moments of Mozart’s concertos.

Soloist Jung is a rare musician who started studying percussion as a young child. Born in South Korea, she later came to the United States to study at the Peabody Conservatory and Yale University. 

The Lash premiere is part of a concert series that CMF is calling “Music of Today.” The series opens with the St. Lawrence String Quartet on Tuesday (July 20), playing the String Quartet No. 1 by American composer John Adams as well as works by Haydn and Debussy (see full programs below). Adams’s First Quartet was inspired by the St. Lawrence Quartet, to whom it is dedicated. “I was reminded how much the sound of the string quartet is like elevated human discourse,” he wrote. “It’s like speech brought to the highest level.”

Like the Lash, Adams’ quartet was influenced by Beethoven—in this case scherzo movements from two late quartets. While writing the quartet, Adams was also listening to the quartets of Ravel and Debussy, the latter of which closes the St. Lawrence program. 

Friday’s “Music of Today” concert (July 23), titled “Kaleidoscope,” comprises entirely music by living composers, with an emphasis on percussion. Jung will be featured again as soloist, along with pianist Christopher Taylor, along with CMF string players and percussionists. The diverse program ranges from the Piano Quintet No. 2 by William Bolcom to Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert (Part IIC), as well as several pieces for percussion 

The final event of “Music of Today” will be a concert on Sunday (July 25) devoted to the music of American composer Joan Tower, including the world premiere of A New Day for cello and orchestra. This program grew from Oundjian’s long friendship with Tower. “Joan is an old friend of mine,” Oundjian says. “She was really dying to write a cello concerto.” 

Joan Tower. Photo by Bernie Mindrich

To fulfill that wish, CMF commissioned the work that became A New Day, and chose for soloist Alisa Weilerstein, whom Oundjian has known virtually her entire life. Member of a musical family, and another child musician, Weilerstein started playing cello at the age of four. 

A New Day is in part an expression of Tower’s gratitude for every day of life. “As we get older, we begin to treasure and value every day that is given us,” she writes in program notes. “This feeling becomes even stronger when we are able to get past 90. I am not quite there yet, but my husband Jeff is and the closer I get to his passing, the more I treasure every new day.”

Other works on the all-Tower program will be No. 5 in her series of fanfares “For the Uncommon Woman”; Made in America, her setting of “America the Beautiful”; and Duets, an orchestral piece built on duets between individual players in the orchestra.

The next week  at CMF opens with a concert in the festival’s Robert Mann Chamber Music series. The program comprises two works by Beethoven, the Quintet for piano and winds and the Septet, played by members of the CMF Orchestra (Tuesday, July 27). 

Thursday and Friday, July 29 and 30, see the return of CMF resident artist Augustin Hadelich to play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with Oundjian and the Festival Orchestra. The program also features two works that are distinctly less known than the Beethoven concerto: Carl Maria von Weber’s Overture to his magic opera Oberon, and the robust and engaging Dances of Galánta by Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály. Both are works I would welcome more often on orchestral programs.

Finally, the concert on Sunday, Aug. 1 will present more underplayed works, as well as two guests of significant interest. Saxophonist Steven Banks will play the Glazunov Saxophone Concerto and the Concertino da Camera for saxophone and 11 instruments by Jacques Ibert; and longtime CMF supporter and Boulder businessman Chris Christoffersen will narrate Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait.

Also on the program are Copland’s popular Fanfare for the Common Man, which inspired Tower’s fanfares; and Oundjian’s arrangement of a movement from the Second String Quartet of Florence Price, an important early 20th-century African-American composer who is being rediscovered today.

This concert is one of Oundjian’s favorites of the 2021 festival. “I love that program,” he says.

“Steven Banks is incredible. He’s a miraculous musician—honestly, every single note he plays, he’s really charismatic.”

# # # # #

Colorado Music Festival
Schedule July 20–Aug. 1
All concerts in Chautauqua Auditorium

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

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

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

  • Hannah Lash: Forestallings (CMF Co-commission)
  • Kevin Puts: Concerto for Marimba
  • Beethoven: String Quartet No. 14, op. 131 (orchestrated by Peter Oundjian)

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

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

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

  • Joan Tower: Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 5
  • Joan Tower: Made in America
  • Joan Tower: Duets
  • Joan Tower: A New Day for cello and orchestra (world premiere)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full calendar for the 2021 CMF season can be seen here. Tickets may be purchased through the Chautauqua Web page. Because health restrictions are subject to change over the summer, be sure to check the CMF 2021 tickets FAQ page.

After three sets of designs, Central City Opera is ready to open

2021 Summer season at Hudson Gardens and outdoors in Central City

By Peter Alexander July 1 at 4:10 p.m.

Central City Opera (CCO) is ready to go for the 2021 summer season, but it wasn’t easy to get here. 

From July 3 to Aug. 1, the season offers Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel, opening the season Saturday, July 3Verdi’s Rigoletto, opening Saturday July 10; and an English Baroque opera, Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (sold out; see full schedule below). Because the opera house in Central City is too small to allow safe distancing, all three will be performed outdoors. 

The two larger productions, Rigoletto and Carousel, will be performed on the outdoor stage at Hudson Gardens in Littleton. The sold-out performances of Dido and Aeneas will take place in Central City.

Hudson Gardens outdoor stage

It all sounds simple enough. After all, this was the same season that was planned for 2020 and simply postponed for a year. Most of the same singers were able to move their schedules to 2021. So half the work was already done, right? What could be the problem?

Design, for one thing. CCO general/artistic director Pelham (“Pat”) Pearce explains: “The designers had originally conceived these shows in the opera house. Then last fall we thought we would be producing (in a facility near Central City), so there was an awful lot of thought given to how that would be done.

CCO GEneral/artistic director “Pat” Pearce

“Then we found out in January that we would not be given the ability to do that, so on a dime we had to turn and find a place to produce this summer. And so we spent four to five weeks trying to find a place to go. And when we had a good idea about what that was going to be, not only did they have to re-design again, but they had to re-design together, because they would have to use the same floor.”

At that point they were down to only about four months to get the sets designed and built, a process that normally takes most of a year. And they were going into a space that they knew almost nothing about, either acoustically or physically, an outdoor space previously used for pop and rock music acts. In fact, they had so much to build that they had to get a building permit for their sets!

The partnership with Hudson Gardens was a real stroke of fortune for CCO. “As soon as we saw we did not have access to where we thought we were going to be, we put out the call to our friends in the (Scientific and Cultural Facilities District), does anybody have a space outdoors where we can produce a season,” Pearce explains. 

They got several responses. But Hudson Gardens was the best possibility, particularly because of parking and the availability of electricity, which is crucial for theatrical lighting. “We’ve worked with the people at Hudson Gardens, because they have a rhythm about how they have always worked with these outdoor concerts,” Pearce says.

“They’re been very, very helpful, helping us navigate these unusual conditions—overnight security, things that we never think about because we can walk away from the building (in Central City) and lock it, but we can’t do that here.”

Of course another issue is weather. “We’re going to learn a great deal about outdoor performing and working with the elements,” Pearce says. “I’m used to people complaining to me that it’s too cold or its too hot, but I can’t control the weather. So this is going to be a large learning experience for everybody. None of us, not any of us, are used to performing this way.”

One concession to weather is that the stage will be covered by a large tent that will extend back of the stage to cover the orchestra as well. That in turn means that every single performer has to be mic’d—every singer and every orchestral player will have their own microphone. “The sound designer will be constructing what people hear and what they don’t hear,” Pearce says. “All of that will done by a single person sitting at a sound board.

“The orchestra will be behind the set and the conductor will be behind the set. Everyone will be working with monitors for sight, and in some cases monitors for sound. So it’s going be all kinds of challenges. But we have been determined to produce and have figured out a way to do it.”

The circumstances will affect performances in other ways. For one, both works have been shortened to about 90–100 minutes, so they can be performed without intermission—in order to reduce the mingling among audience members. Instead, Pearce suggests that people come early and wander through the gardens before the performance. “They’re absolutely gorgeous, right up against the Platte River,” he says.

For another, both shows will be set in a time closer to now than is usual. This is partly to avoid heavy costumes that would be unbearable outdoors on a hot night. For another, Rigoletto will be placed more outdoors than usual. “The duke may be dressed for doing things outdoors, and Gilda is actually going to be on a swing,” Pearce says. 

The designers “embraced the setting we’re in, and they’re telling the story using where we are. We will tell the story well, but we’re going to tell it not ignoring the fact that we are outdoors.”

Hudson Gardens, Littleton, Colo. map of grounds.

Carousel will be stage directed by Ken Cazan and conducted by Christopher Zemliauskas, both veterans of previous CCO seasons. The director of Rigoletto will be Jose Maria Condemi, who directed Carmen at CCO in 2017. Conductor will be John Baril, a longtime mainstay at CCO, and stage design is by Steven C. Kemp. Dan Wallace Miller will direct Dido and Aeneas and Brandon M Eldredge will conduct. Full cast and credits are posted on the CCO Web pages for each production. 

You may want to consult the 2021 Summer Festival FAQ page for the latest information. Ticket-holders will receive detailed “know before you go” information via email prior to their purchased performance. 

# # # # #

Central City Opera
Summer Festival 2021

Carousel
Music by Richard Rogers, book by Oscar Hammerstein

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

Hudson Gardens, Littleton, Colo.

Rigoletto
Music by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave

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

Hudson Gardens, Littleton, Colo.

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

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

Central City Opera House Gardens 

Information and tickets

2021 CMF opening night marks return to live concerts

On the program: Beethoven, Kernis world premiere, Hadelich plays Mendelssohn

By Peter Alexander June 29 at 11:30 p.m.

There will be much to celebrate when the 2021 Colorado Music Festival gets underway Thursday and Friday (July 1 and 2) at Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder.

Peter Oundjian and the CMF Festival Orchestra. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

The return to the stage of CMF music director Peter Oundjian and the Festival Orchestra would be special in any music lover’s calendar. Imagine, being at a concert again—in person! with live performers!—after the past 15 months. 

But there’s even more to love. There will be the world premiere of music in memory of those we lost to the pandemic, Elegy (to those we’ve lost) by Aaron Jay Kernis. And there will be a rising superstar performer, violinist Augustin Hadelich.

What more do you want?

Kernis wrote his Elegy, not from a commission but out of his own experience with COVID-19. CMF artistic director and conductor Peter Oundjian says, “He wrote to me and said ‘I’ve written this elegy to those we’ve lost.’ He got COVID and got pretty sick, and he lost friends. I said I’d love to open the festival with it, I think it’s just so perfect. It’s very beautiful, sad but in a way uplifting as well, because it’s so tender.”

The rest of the program will be Hadelich playing the much-loved Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, always among the top two or three orchestral works in popularity. 

Augustin Hadelich

Hadelich gets asked to play the Mendelssohn Concerto often, but he can’t imagine ever saying no “Mendelssohn is a concerto where the violinist is really in charge,” he says. “You start playing right away and it’s a very dramatic role. And also very virtuosic.

“I would say that the Mendelssohn is harder than people think it is. You can’t underestimate it, but it’s very much worth it. Mendelssohn wastes no time, not a single second. It’s just so compact, because it’s not that long as a piece, but every second there’s something exciting or very beautiful going on.”

The Seventh Symphony is the first of several Beethoven pieces on the summer’s program. Later Oundjian will conduct the Third (Aug. 5) and Fifth (Aug. 7) symphonies, there will be a program of Beethoven chamber music (Aug. 7) and Hadelich will return to play the Violin Concerto (July 29 and 30). Oundjian has contributed his own arrangement of the String Quartet in C-sharp minor, op. 131, to the program on July 22.

Oundjian admits that Beethoven is hardly slighted by classical musicians around the world, but the celebration of his 250th birthday planned for 2020 was canceled by the pandemic. “Poor guy, he was going to have about a million performances last year, and they were all cancelled,” he says. Laughing, he adds “nobody knows who he is.

“But the truth is that he’s not 251 until December, so he’s still 250 this year.”

Between his two appearances, Hadelich will spend two weeks in Boulder as CMF artist-in-residence. Not all of his activities have been decided yet, but Hadelich says “I’m going to be doing whatever they have me doing—a masterclass and then some other activities. As long as I’m there I go wherever {the CMF] decides.”

He was in Boulder once before during the 2018 festival, and looks forward to having more time here. “It’s nice to come back and just enjoy for longer,” he says. “It’s a beautiful place, [and] I thought it was a wonderful hall. It sounds really good. I felt great on stage and I really enjoyed it.”

Several other events in the opening two weeks are noteworthy (see full listing below). One that is dear to Oundjian’s heart as a former violinist in the Tokyo String Quartet is the launching of a new Tuesday evening chamber music series named in honor of Robert Mann, founding violinist of the Juilliard Quartet. 

That concert series will open July 6 with a program of string quintets by Mozart and Brahms, played by members of he CMF orchestra, followed by the current iteration of the Juilliard Quartet on July 13. Other chamber performers will appear on Tuesdays through Aug. 3.

Pianist Olga Kern, always a CMF audience favorite, returns to play concertos by Haydn and Shostakovich, the latter also featuring CMF principal trumpet Jeffrey Work playing the prominent trumpet solos (July 15 and 16). Pianist Conrad Tao, scheduled for the cancelled 2020 festival and a soloist with the Boulder Philharmonic in 2015, will play a concerto on an all-Mozart program July 18.

But the collaboration between Oundjian and Hadelich would be the highlight of any season. “I’m thrilled, he’s absolutely remarkable on every level,” Oundjian says of the violinist. “He’s an inspiration, he really is. He’s so thoughtful and he’s also a wonderful teacher and very generous.”

Hadelich is equally complimentary to Oundjian. “I’m thrilled to come back,” he says. “I always love playing with Peter because he’s such a great collaborator and musician, and always so sensitive. He’s just such a great character. 

“I can’t wait to come to Boulder again.”

# # # # #

Colorado Music Festival
Schedule through July 18
All concerts in Chautauqua Auditorium

Peter Oundjian. Photo by Michael Ensminger.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Novelletten for string orchestra, nos. 3 and 4
  • Mozart: Violin Concerto No. 3 in G major, K216
  • Haydn: Symphony No. 104 in D major (“London”)
Juilliard Quartet. Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco

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

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

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

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

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

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

The full calendar for the 2021 CMF season can be seen here. Tickets may be purchased through the Chautauqua Web page. Because health restrictions are subject to change over the summer, be sure to check the CMF 2021 tickets FAQ page.

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

Music on the Move in the Museum of Boulder

Saturday’s program will be played three times in different spaces in the museum

By Peter Alexander June 25 at 12 noon

Where can you hear an eclectic combination of a folk/rock singer/songwriter, a classical guitarist, a chamber music violinist and a classical cellist?

If you think that that mix sounds like pure Boulder, you’re right, and the answer is at the Museum of Boulder this Saturday (June 26) from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The doors of the museum will open at 5 p.m., and the musicians will perform their set three times, every 30 minutes starting at 5:30 p.m.

Museum of Boulder

The performances will take place in three different spaces, two of the museum galleries and ending on the rooftop, where refreshments will be served. Patrons will be free to sit and enjoy the performances, or explore the museum’s galleries while listening to the music.

Andrew Wilder

The performers will be:

  • Singer/Songwriter Bob Barrick, known by his stage name Kingdom Jasmine. He has released thee albums reflecting rock, folk and psychedelic influences. 
  • Classical guitarist Andrew Wilder, who studied in Italy before building a career in the United States. His greatest interest is music of the Baroque and Classical periods, including the lute works of J.S. Bach.
  • Violinist Tom Yaron, who has played in orchestras in Germany, the U.S. and Japan. A graduate of the Juilliard School and CU Boulder, he was a founding member of the Ajax String Quartet.
  • Cellist Joseph Howe, principal cellist of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra and assistant principal with the Greeley Philharmonic. A graduate of the University of Oregon and CU Boulder, he also performs as a Baroque cellist.

Tickets are available here and will include after-hours admission to the museum.

Colorado Music Festival is back

Live performances, premieres, chamber music mark the 2021 summer season

By Peter Alexander June 24 at 2 p.m.

As the COVID-19 pandemic ebbs, life and music are slowly returning to “normal.”

Artistic director Peter Oundjian and the CMF Festival Orchestra. Photo by Michael Ensminger

For the Colorado Music Festival, that means live concerts in Chautauqua Auditorium. The orchestra is reduced, but the 2021 festival has a full schgedule of performances, July 1–Aug. 7. And as health regulations and recommendations are relaxed, the box office has made more seats available. (The full schedule and latest box office information are available from CMF at coloradomusicfestival.org .)

Two things that distinguish the 2021 festival reflect the personal interests of CMF artistic director Peter Oundjian: an emphasis on new music, including four world premieres; and a new series of chamber music concerts named for Robert Mann, the legendary first violinist of the Juilliard Quartet. Other highlights will be a residency by violinist Augustin Hadelich, who made a notable appearance at CMF in 2018, and a series of Beethoven performances rescheduled from the cancelled 2020 season, celebrating the composer’s 250th birthday.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

Composer Jake Heggie will bring ‘Intelligence’ to Grusin Hall

CU New Opera Workshop will preview new opera written for Houston Grand Opera

By Peter Alexander June 15 at 11:30 p.m.

Six years ago composer Jake Heggie was in the Smithsonian Institution when a docent told him what his next opera should be.

The composer of the successful operas Dead Man Walking, Moby Dick and It’s a Wonderful Life, Heggie usually has no trouble finding his own subjects. “My first response was ‘Yay! I’ve never heard that before!’” he says. But six years later, Intelligence, his opera based on that very idea, is being workshopped at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in preparation for its premiere in a future season of the Houston Grand Opera. 

Composer Jake Heggie (L) and librettist Gene Scheer (R)
Photo by David Starry

As Heggie tells the story, “We were [at the Smithsonian] doing some events, and this docent pulls me aside. He said ‘Have you ever heard of Elizabeth Van Lew and Mary Bowser?’ I said no, and he goes ‘You need to look them up, and that should be your next opera.’ And he walked away.”

Heggie and Scheer started doing research into the two women, and the more they learned the more interested they became. Heggie recalls, “I started Googling and I was like ‘Gee!’ And I remember Gene calling me and saying, ‘Jake, it’s an incredible story!’”

The two women were spies for the Union during the Civil War. Van Lew was a white abolitionist living in Richmond, Virginia, the capitol of the Confederacy. Bowser—who went by several names including Mary Jane Richards—was a former slave of the Van Lew family who had been freed, educated in the North, and then travelled to Liberia in Africa as a missionary. She returned to Virginia, even though her freedom there was illegal, and joined a spy ring operated by Van Lew.

As women, they were able to operate without raising suspicion—no one expected women to be dangerous. That was doubly true for Richards/Bowser, who was virtually invisible in the Southern society of the time so long as she acted like an uneducated slave. On one occasion she went into the Confederate White House on the pretext of collecting laundry and managed to read the papers in Jefferson Davis’s study. What she read there was passed on to Union generals.

“Her story, aside from the aspect of being a spy, is just amazing,” Scheer says. “We are weaving various aspects of her life and Van Lew’s life, focused on the Civil War. There are pivotal points that are known historical facts that we could thread together. And these facts became the springboard for us to create the story.”

Early on Heggie realized that one thing was missing for the opera. “We needed to have not only a woman’s perspective, but we needed and African-American woman’s perspective, because we are two white guys,” he explains. 

“I thought, what if this had an element of movement and dance? I started thinking about the dance world and I called friends and I said, ‘Do you know of a choreographer/director or a company that would be right for an opera that is a hybrid of these things?’”

L-R: Heggie, Scheer, and Jawole Will Jo Zollar at a rehearsal on the CU campus. Photo by David Starry.

They all gave Heggie the same name: Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founding artistic director of the dance troupe Urban Bush Women. He wrote her an email to ask if she would be interested. She was in the middle of other projects so could not respond immediately, but once she talked to Heggie she was drawn in.

“I became so intrigued by not only the story, but their point of view and what they wanted to do,” Zollar says. “It felt  right for me, and it also felt like the right time for me to engage in a project like that.”

Heggie is thrilled at the contributions Zollar makes to the project. When they began the workshop, he says, “it became even clearer, first of all, this is exactly right, and everyone was right to tell us exactly the right person. We hit it off and liked each other right away. She is helping conceive the whole thing.”

“We all have different perspectives from our lived experiences, individually, and then our history collectively,” Zollar says. “That’s what I bring with me. What I was really intrigued by was Mary Jane as this woman who had been freed, which means that there is a certain way of carriage in her body, and now is in a house where she is enslaved, and so she has to carry that. I’m intrigued by her ability to code switch.”

The workshop has involved the dancers from Urban Bush Women, who have gotten together for the first time since the pandemic. This return to working in person has made CU NOW a joyful as well as intense time for the participants.

Scenes from Intelligence will be performed in run-throughs Friday, June 18, and Sunday, June 20. Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer will be present and will participate in talkback sessions after the performances. In addition to the CU students who are singing most of the parts, three guest artists fill roles that did not fit any of the current students: Jasmine Habersham and Raehann Bryce-Davis are singers affiliated with Houston Grand Opera, and Aaron Jenkins is a CU alumnus.

CU NOW was started in 2010 by Eklund Opera director Leigh Holman as an educational experience for the students. “It has been said that this is the golden age of American opera,” she says. “I feel if we don’t educate our students about creating new opera, it’s akin to malpractice.

“CU NOW was started, and I keep it going, for the education of our students.”

Often, as the composer hears their piece being performed, they decide to change parts of the score, or the singers may suggest ideas that improve a given vocal line or part. The composer might make the change on the spot, and ask the student to learn the new music for the next day’s rehearsal.

“Our students never had that experience before CU NOW,” Holman says. “Never before had they been given a brand new piece of music and told, ‘learn this by tomorrow.’ They can’t listen to a recording of how to do it, so it has really built their skills.”

Today most major opera companies are doing new works. CU NOW has given students the experience to successfully learn new works, and several graduates of the program have sung premieres or workshops at Minnesota Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and other companies. 

“That’s why we started this,” Holman says.

Singers rehearsing Heggie and Scheer’s Intelligence for CU NOW. Photo by David Starry.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that the readings of excepts from Intelligence are open to the general public. They are not. Due to campus-wide COVID restrictions, attendance is by invitation only.

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.

Ajax Ensemble will perform on the Museum of Boulder rooftop

Program includes works by Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and more

By Peter Alexander May 4 at 2:40 p.m.

The Ajax Ensemble, one of Boulder’s many small classical ensembles that should not be overlooked, is playing a program at the Museum of Boulder rooftop Saturday (June 5).

Boulder Museum rooftop

With a capacity of 60, the rooftop performance is already sold out, but lucky for you, it will be repeated next Wednesday, June 9. The concert will take place on the museum’s rooftop from 5 to 6:30 p.m. It will be preceded by a “Walk Around the Museum” for ticketholders from 4 to 5 p.m., and followed by a Q&A period with the artists from 6:30 to 7 p.m.

There will be another opportunity to hear this same program, when—weather permitting—the Ajax Ensemble performs at the Linden HOA Park, 3750 Lakebriar Drive in North Boulder from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, June 6.

Ajax will perform as a string trio comprised of violinist Tom Yaron, violist Tanner Menees, and cellist Joseph Howe. Yaron and Howe are graduates of the CU Boulder College of Music, and all three players are active in the Boulder musical scene, and with experience performing world wide.

Ajax Ensemble in an earlier outdoor concert

The program for June 5, 6 and 9 will feature the following works:

  • J.S. Bach: Selections from the “Goldberg” Variations
  • Schubert: String Trio No. 1 in B-flat, D471
  • Ernst von Dohnányi: String Serenade, movements I, II and  IV
  • Mozart: Divertimento in E-flat Major, K563, movements I and IV
  • Gideon Klein: Trio for violin, viola, and cello
  • Beethoven: String Trio in E-flat Major, op. 3

The rooftop performances are presented by the Boulder Museum in partnership with Concertize, a Boulder-based company that provides concert-planning services and access to performers in the Boulder area. They serve as concert managers for Ajax, and state that their goal is “making music happen in more places, from vaccine clinics to concert halls.”

Tickets for all Concertize events are available on their Web page. Tickets for the Museum of Boulder events can also be purchased through their Web page.

Correction: The correct identification for the performing group is Ajax Ensemble, not Ajax Trio, and the violist will be Tanner Menees, not Joshua Ulrich.

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

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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