Seicento will stream concert that was canceled in March

“Song and Dance in the French Baroque” available online Friday

By Peter Alexander Nov. 18 at 10:45 p.m.

Amanda Balestrieri wanted to bring French Baroque music and dance together to Boulder audiences.

Seicento Baroque Ensemble preparing a program of French music and dance

“I absolutely love this repertoire,” the artistic director of Boulder’s Seicento Baroque Ensemble says. She is speaking of music that came out of France in the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly opera and other forms that mixed song and dance.

To that end, she created a program titled “Airs and Graces: Song & Dance in the French Baroque,” featuring the Seicento chorus as well as guest singers, instrumentalists and Elena Mullins, a guest artist trained in both the singing and the dance of the French Baroque period.

Dancer Elena Mullins

The artists were all assembled in Boulder last March, and rehearsals were well under way at Boulder’s First United Methodist Church. And then COVID happened, and the performance was cancelled at the last minute. “We just finished preparing to do the concert, so we decided to record it without an audience,” Balestrieri says. “I felt if we could at least record it, we could present it at a later time.” 

That recording will be available online for the first time Friday (Nov. 20) at 6 p.m. It will be accessible through the Seicento Facebook page, in return for a donation of any amount.

Amanda Balestrieri

Including dance in the program was crucial because it was such an important part of French music at the time. “I wanted to present the concept of having visual representation of the gesture and the meaning in the dance, because it’s really an integral part of the music,” Balestrieri says.

Most Baroque music derives from dance to some extent, but that was especially so in France, where dance was a cherished courtly activity. King Louis XIV, famed as “The Sun King” and the builder of Versailles, was an accomplished dancer, as was the court composer Jean-Baptiste Lully. French Baroque dance is also important historically as the source of classical ballet.

“We have to understand this music in its complete form,” Balestrieri says. “If you have the body involved in the music, it becomes human and it becomes something that is related to us. That’s a very important thing. It’s part of the genre.

Louis XIV costumed for dance

“At the time the whole point of the music was to reach the passions. So the dance is very much in relation to the audience. It is supposed to relate not to [something] abstract but to real human dilemmas and fears and love and grief.”

Her interest in the art of French music and dance came from her own experience as a performer. “I have been on stage with French Baroque dancers and admired their expertise,” she says. “I know the music very well.”

To bring the music and dance to life, Balestrieri picked a program that included scenes from operas by Lully (1632–1687) and Marc Antoine Charpentier (1643–1704). Other works are an anthology of the most popular dance types of the times by Jean-Féry Rebel (1666–1747), the cantata Le triomphe de l’Amour by Michel Pignolet de Montéclair (1667–1737), and courtly songs of love. 

Balestrieri wanted the performance to be a learning experience for the audience, so that they could see the dance movements that underlay the music that they would hear, but also for the singers in the chorus. “I wanted the choir to have the experience of the music enough to get it,” she says. “I wanted the dancer to give that element and for people to understand the visual side that was combined with the music.”

She admits that the program and its presentation are well outside the mainstream, even of Baroque music, but that was the point. “This is an esoteric corner of an esoteric art,” she says. “Our whole mission with Seicento is perform lesser-known music, to present things that you wouldn’t otherwise see.”

Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Lully by Paul Mignard

When the decision was made to record the final rehearsal for later streaming, Seicento hired Michael Quam as their video engineer. Quam has recorded videos for the Boulder Philharmonic, the Colorado Music Festival and other organizations in the area. Several cameras were set up to record the performers from different angles. 

Because viewers won’t have access to the texts in a printed program, Balestrieri herself added titles with French and English texts. “I learned how to use Adobe Premiere Pro and I beat my head against the wall for about a week,” she says. She also added the names of the individual dances as well. “You can watch and say ‘So that’s a bourrée! I never knew that!’”

The performances are all straight takes, with no corrections added afterwards. The absence of an audience was a challenge for the amateur singers in the chorus. “Feeling like you are connecting with live performance electricity—you have to imagine it,” Balestrieri says.

Nevertheless, she says she is happy with the final result. “It’s going to be very lovely to watch,” she says.

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Seicento Baroque Ensemble

“Airs and Graces: Song & Dance in the French Baroque”
Seicento Baroque Ensemble, Amanda Balestrieri, artistic director
With Elena Mullins, soprano and dancer
Guest vocalists and instrumentalists

Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Excerpt from Les arts florissants
Jean-Féry Rebel: Les caractères de la danse: Fantasie
Jean-Baptiste Lully: Excerpts from Bellérophon
Michel Lambert: and Christophe Ballard: Two airs de cour
Jean-Paul Égide Martini: Plaisir d’Amour
Michel Pignolet de Montéclair: Le triomphe de l’Amour

Available at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20 through the Seicento Facebook page
Stream will include a live post-concert conversation with guest artist

Boulder Philharmonic continues 20–21 season Nov. 14 with ‘Beauty of Bach’

Guest conductor/pianist Simone Dinnerstein, flutist Christina Jennings, violinist Charles Wetherbee are featured

By Peter Alexander Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m.

Simone Dinnerstein has garnered a reputation as a Bach pianist, dating at least from the 2007 release of her recording of the Goldberg Variations. And in “Beauty of Bach,” a program performed with members of the Boulder Philharmonic, she reveals a new facet of her career: Bach conductor.

Simone Dinnerstein. Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco

Not only does she lead the orchestra in the keyboard concertos in the program—the Concerto in D minor and the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto—she also conducts two orchestral pieces—Philip Lasser’s arrangement of the chorale prelude Erbarm’ Dich and the Orchestral Suite in B minor. The latter two she conducts from the keyboard while playing continuo, the chordal accompaniment that is a feature of Baroque performance.

“I love so much of Bach’s music, not just the keyboard music, and I’m hoping that this is going to lead to more conducting,” Dinnerstein says. “I don’t yet feel comfortable to conduct without playing the piano, but I feel like I can transmit more through playing, even if I’m playing continuo.”

Charles Wetherbee

The performance was recorded at Boulder Airport in September for live streaming, and will be available at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 14). Soloists with her for the Brandenburg Concerto are Charles Wetherbee, the Phil’s concertmaster, and flutist Christina Jennings, who also plays the flute solos in the Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor.

The program is a repeat of one given by Dinnerstein and Jennings at Columbia University in February, just before the pandemic halted most concert activity. That performance, her first as conductor, featured Baroklyn, a string ensemble that Dinnerstein created for her own performances.

When Michael Butterman, music director of the Boulder Phil, asked Dinnerstein to participate in the orchestra’s ‘20–’21 streamed season, she immediately thought of the concert she had done with Jennings. “He wanted a Bach program,” she says. “I suggested that we do that program, because Christina lives (in Boulder).”

In assembling the original program for the February concert, Dinnerstein was sensitive to the flow from one piece to the next. “I think it’s interesting to start the program with something that is a very contemporary take on Bach,” she says. “And it moves very beautifully into the orchestral suite, so I like that connection between the two pieces.

Christina Jennings

Erbarm’ Dich was arranged by Philip Lasser, who is a fantastic composer and has a deep understanding of Bach’s music. This particular transcription sounds almost as much like his music as it does like Bach. He didn’t change any notes, but the way that he voices it, it’s in the style of Philip Lasser.

“I like the juxtaposition of the D minor Concerto and the D major Brandenburg Concerto. The whole program shows different sides of Bach’s music, from this very profound chorale prelude to the ebullient Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, which couldn’t be more fun.”

Although most live concerts since the February program in New York have been cancelled due to COVID-19, Dinnerstein has kept busy. “I’ve been doing concerts similar to the one in Boulder, where I am filmed and then they’re streamed,” she says. “So I’ve been doing a little bit of traveling.”

Whatever her reputation at this point, Dinnerstein does not want to be pigeonholed as a Bach pianist. “I don’t think of myself as a Bach specialist,” she says. “I love Bach, and I have recorded a lot of Bach, but I’m not somebody who has an encyclopedic knowledge of Bach. I would not call myself a Bach scholar.”

Simone Dinnerstein. Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco

As for playing on the modern piano instead of a keyboard of Bach’s time, “There is a kind of abstraction to his music which is not instrument-specific,” she says. “He thought of music in a pure way.”

Like many musicians and other performing artists, she is looking forward to the days after COVID. She doesn’t want to guess how things will have changed in the meantime, however.

“I can’t quite process how it’s going to change our perception of concerts,” she says. “I think that it will certainly make us favor live concerts when we are able to attend them and perform at them.”

Like most of us, she has found both positive and negative aspects to the Zoom experience. In some ways it has enhanced her teaching. “I teach in New York, and I have students (in Asia) that I’ve never met in real life. I’ve been teaching them over Zoom for a few months now. It’s very striking how we’re getting a lot more work done than we did before.

“I think that all of this recording has made us listen more acutely to ourselves as musicians. There’s’ so much opportunity for reflection and there’s a lot more inward-looking action taking place—musically and in our lives in general—just because of this whole period of time.”

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Photo by Lisa Marie Mazzucco

The Beauty of Bach
Simone Dinnerstein, pianist and conductor
Christina Jennings, flute, and Charles Wetherbee, violin

J.S. Bach/Philip Lasser: Erbarm Dich, S721
J.S. Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, S1067
Keyboard Concerto in D minor, S1052
Brandenburg Concerto No 5 in D major, S1050

Available from 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14. Ticket may be purchased here.

SEE LA BOHÈME LIVE IN LONGMONT

Boulder Opera Company will perform La Bohème for a limited in-person audience.

By Izzy Fincher Nov. 10 at 12:45 p.m.

Are you tired of livestreams?

Live, socially-distanced opera in Longmont might be the answer.

Dickens Tavern and Opera House in Longmont. Photo by Sherri O’Hara.

The Boulder Opera Company will present Puccini’s La Bohème for a limited in-person audience on four dates, Nov. 13, 14, 19 and 22, at Longmont’s Dickens Opera House, a restaurant/live music venue. The performance will adhere to COVID-19 social distancing requirements, and audience members will be required to wear masks when not eating or drinking.

Michael Travis Risner

“We are excited to present (opera) live,” Michael Travis Risner, the Boulder Opera Company’s stage director, says. “That visceral, human experience of live performance is so valuable.”

“How long has it been since we have seen something truly live? Broadway is still dark. The entertainment and hospitality industries are almost down to zero because of the pandemic. There’s been a dearth of live performance these last eight months.”

La Bohème, premiered in 1896, is one of the most performed operas worldwide today. Based on Henri Muger’s novel, Scènes de la vie de bohème, the opera depicts the Bohemian lifestyle of an impoverished seamstress, Mimi, and her artistic friends, Rodolfo, Marcello, Musetta, Schaunard and Colline, all living in Paris during the 1830s. The tale is heart-rending and tragic, yet it is also full of passion, love, joy and humor.

Phoenix Gayles will be Boulder Opera’s Mimi

This performance of La Bohème will be set in 2020 COVID-19 times, rather than 19th century Paris. Mimi’s mysterious illness, which is later revealed as tuberculosis in the original story, will be left ambiguous—it could be COVID-19 or not. To keep her artistic friends safe, Mimi will enforce social distancing and mask-wearing for everyone as part of the staging.

“By setting (La Bohème) in a contemporary time, it is immediately more accessible,” Risner says. “I wanted to show the context in which we are all living right now.”

But staging an intimate romance while maintaining social distancing has not been easy.

“It’s a challenge getting an intimate show that is very much about love and relationships without having that physical intimacy,” Risner says. “I am asking a lot of (the singers) to really act hard, to convey what we need to without being physically close to each other.”

Nathan Snyder will play Rodolfo

Other COVID-19 related challenges have also impacted the production.

Weeks before the final performances, the pianist and music director, Steven Aguiló-Arbues, and three main singers quit, due to safety concerns about COVID-19. With no pianist, Colline, Musetta or Schaunard, Risner almost had to cancel the show.

Luckily, he soon found a new pianist/music director, Maggie Hinchliffe, and three replacement singers who were familiar with the roles, on short notice. Risner says he felt “very fortunate to find people,” especially with only five rehearsals left before the show.

“We just keep pushing forward,” Risner says. “We are 100% committed.”

Making the live performance safe for the audience and singers has been yet another challenge for Travis. During the show, singers will release high quantities of aerosols, which can increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Audience members will also release aerosols while eating dinner without masks. 

To mitigate these risks, Risner has taken several precautions in collaboration with the Dickens Opera House. Dinner will be served before the performance, and masks will be required once the opera starts. The singers will be far away from each other on stage, at a significant distance from the audience. At intermission, everyone will leave the room to allow for ventilation, before returning for the final two acts. 

“I want people to feel safe,” Risner says. “I want people to feel confident. We will ask audience members to keep their masks on when they are not actively eating or drinking. We will ask them to be masked up the entire duration of the performance. The only difference from going out to a restaurant and taking your mask off to eat is that there are people singing 25-30 feet away from you.”

Despite all of the hurdles of live performances in 2020, Risner feels the Boulder Opera Company is as prepared as possible for their adaptation of La Bohème. He is excited to bring live music back and share the classic, touching love story with the greater Boulder community.

“It’s a timeless story about love, forgiveness and understanding,” Risner says. “It’s a slice of life, designed to be heightened realism.

“Hopefully, (the audience) sees a part of themselves reflected onstage and is moved in some way. That’s why we do what we do—to provide an escape from the craziness.”

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Boulder Opera Company
La Bohème at Longmont’s Dickens Opera House

7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13
7 p.m. Saturday, Nov.14
7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 19
1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22

Purchase in-person tickets for La Bohème here.

Livestream access for the Nov. 14 performance available here.

Takács Quartet livestream will be available to all

Nov. 1 concert will feature music by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel and Felix Mendelssohn

By Peter Alexander Oct. 30 at 10:50 a.m.

The next live stream of a CU campus concert by the Takács Quartet will be available to the public worldwide.

This is a change from their previous concerts this fall, which, due to contractual restrictions, were made available online only to prior subscribers to their CU performances. In this case, they will again be performing from the stage of an otherwise empty Grusin Hall in the Imig Music Building, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1.

Takács Quartet

Virtual admission may be purchased through the CU Presents Web page. The performance will remain available online to ticket purchasers through 11 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29.

The program will comprise three works by Felix Mendelssohn and his sister, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: Fanny’s String Quartet in E-flat major and Felix’s string quartets No. 6 in F minor, op. 80, and No. 2 A minor, op. 13.

The Takács Quartet will play two more online concerts from Grusin Hall this season, Jan. 10–11 and April 11–12, 2021. If conditions allow, those concerts will be performed before a live audience and single tickets will be sold as available. If live performances are deemed not to be safe, online access will only be available to previous season ticket holders.

The same will be true for a guest concert by the Jupiter String Quartet, March 7–8, 2021. Their concert was originally scheduled in October, and was postponed due to the pandemic.

The Takács Quartet has not announced their programs for the spring. The Jupiter String Quartet, which is the resident string quartet at the University of Illinois, will perform music by Mendelssohn, Schubert and Michi Wiancko.

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Takács Quartet

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel: String Quartet in E-flat Major
Felix Mendelssohn: String Quartet No. 6 in F minor, Op. 80
    String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13

4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1: Live stream from Grusin Hall on the CU Boulder campus (program available through 11 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29)

More information and tickets available from CU Presents 

FACULTY TUESDAYS CONTINUE FROM AN EMPTY GRUSIN HALL

Next Tuesday’s program offers works by Karol Szymanowski, György Kurtág and Fauré.

By Izzy Fincher Oct. 22 at 5:20 p.m.

CU-Boulder’s Grusin Hall is usually packed on Tuesday nights. Clusters of people gather, chatting and laughing, filling the hall with a pre-concert energy. 

They are here for Faculty Tuesdays, a free concert series featuring CU faculty, which runs from September to March.

Grusin Hall, empty as it now is on Tuesdays

Now on Tuesday nights, Grusin Hall sits mostly empty. But the Faculty Tuesdays series continues through livestreaming. Without an in-person audience, only the performers, a stagehand and the crew of audio technicians remain.

“At CU, we have this wonderful community of people who come to Faculty Tuesdays,” Alejandro Cremaschi, professor of piano pedagogy, says. “I hope that they feel like we are back together after not having live performances for a while. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than not having anything.”

Alejandro Cremaschi (Photo/Larry Harwood)

Cremaschi performed for the first Faculty Tuesdays concert on Sept. 1 with pianist Jéssica Pacheco. Their program featured female composers from the Americas.

Performing safely under social distancing protocols required flexibility. Pacheco and Cremaschi had to play four-hand works on two separate pianos, a challenging experience with fewer visual cues. For the livestream, with up-close cameras and mics rather than a distant live audience, Cremaschi had to tone down his loud announcement voice.

“I am used to speaking from the stage with a voice that projects,” Cremaschi says. “With the microphone, I was yelling so loud that the recording technicians changed the microphone to something that was less live.”

Yet, for Cremaschi, who hadn’t performed live since March at the time, his Faculty Tuesdays livestream was exciting.

“Even though we didn’t have an audience, we play differently when we are doing it for real,” Cremaschi says. “Jéssica loves being on stage, and I love that too. We sound better when we are playing for real. It was nice to have that feeling and energy coming from her. If I had been playing by myself, that would have been really hard.”

David Korevaar (Photo by Matthew Dine)

Pianist David Korevaar is also excited for his upcoming Faculty Tuesdays livestream. He will perform on the Oct. 27 concert, “Signs, Games + Messages,” which will feature works by Karol Szymanowski, György Kurtág and Fauré.

The performance of “Signs, Games + Messages” has been postponed for years. In 2016, Korevaar, David Requiro, Harumi Rhodes and Geraldine Walther, former violist of the Takács Quartet, planned to play this program for Faculty Tuesdays, but that concert fell through. 

Violist Richard O’Neill

Now in 2020, the concert will finally happen with three original collaborators, Korevaar, Requiro and Rhodes, plus Richard O’Neill, the Takács Quartet’s new violist in place of Walther. Korevaar calls it “long postponed, joyful music-making.” 

Korevaar will play on two of the three pieces: Szymanowski’s Mythes, op. 30, and Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, op. 45. Mythes is a virtuosic duet for violin and piano, filled with symbolism, extended tonalities and rich harmonies.

While isolated in Poland during World War I, Szymanowski turned to ancient Greek culture and drama for inspiration. Composed in 1915, Mythes shows this influence in the three movements: “I. La Fontaine d’Aréthuse,” “II. Narcisse” and “III. Dryades et Pan.”

Violinist Harumi Rhodes

“It’s an extraordinarily beautiful piece that isn’t done a lot in public because it is also extraordinarily difficult,” Korevaar says. “It’s a scary score to read, but it’s fun to play with a great musician. I am having a wonderful time.”

Korevaar also looks forward to Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 2. The quartet, premiered in 1887, is a somber, complex work, marking a departure from Fauré’s First Piano Quartet, which was pleasantly simple and conventional. Cyclical themes, filled with rhythmic and melodic development, build and return throughout the later work. Aaron Copland described it as “mature work [that] shows the composer less carefree, less happy, more serious, more profound.”

For Korevaar, the rehearsal process has been largely the same as pre-COVID-19, though with increased distance between players. Masks are a bit more of a challenge—without facial expression cues, the musicians must rely on each other’s movements and gestures.

“(In chamber music,) we do a lot with eyes, with body motions, with the sense of breathing, which doesn’t mean we have to see the breathing apparatus,” Korevaar says. “It’s a whole-body thing.”

This will be Korevaar’s third livestream this fall, after a solo livestream and a duo livestream with violinist Charles Wetherbee in mid-October. He is still getting used to the experience. He says he feels more self-critical in front of cameras and misses the live audience’s energy. However, he finds the energy from other musicians makes the livestream more comfortable, and he looks forward to next Tuesday’s performance.

“It’s a new adventure,” Korevaar says. “In a livestream, you don’t have the opportunity to fix stuff, but you get the same self-consciousness about the bloopers. With chamber music, it’s easier because there is mutual energy, and everybody is working together.”

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Signs, Games + Messages
Harumi Rhodes, violin, Richard O’Neill, viola, David Requiro, cello, and David Korevaar, piano
Streamed from CU-Boulder’s Grusin Hall

Karol Szymanowski: Mythes, Op. 30
György Kurtág: Signs, Games and Messages
Fauré: Piano Quartet No. 2 in G minor, Op. 45

7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 27, on CU Presents 

__________________

See all remaining Faculty Tuesday performances here.

BOULDER PHIL’S OPENING CONCERT IN SPIRIT OF REIMAGINED SEASON

Program features works by Vivaldi/Richter, Britten and Jesse Montgomery

By Izzy Fincher Oct. 14 at 3 p.m.

A reimagined season for the Boulder Philharmonic will begin with a night of reimagined music, recorded in a hangar at the Boulder Municipal Airport.

The first concert, “Vivaldi Recomposed,” will feature modern composers’ reworkings of iconic compositions and their own works. The concert will be available beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.

Boulder Philharmonic and conductor Michael Butterman rehearsing in the Brungard Aviation hanger at Boulder Municipal Airport. Photo by Peter Alexander

“[This concert] is really emblematic of everything we are doing this year,” Michael Butterman, music director of the Boulder Phil, says. “We have an unusual season that is reimagined, reinvented and adapted.”

The program is centered around Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons, a 13-movement work inspired by Vivaldi’s famous set of concertos. Using about one-quarter of Vivaldi’s original material, Richter develops short, iconic motifs through looping and phasing, showing his minimalistic and postmodernist style. The re-composition is “very familiar but with a twist that is new and fresh,” Butterman says.  

“Richter takes the same music, but he rescores it and repeats it with different harmonies and accompaniment,” concertmaster Charles Wetherbee says. “Sometimes he takes blocks of music that we know very well and suddenly throws in a bar of 7/8. That can be really mind-bending. It is very familiar yet completely not.”

Charles Wetherbee. Photo by Peter Alexander

The rest of the program also links to the theme of reimagining. Jesse Montgomery expanded her own composition Strum, originally written for the Catalyst Quartet, to a version for string orchestra. In Strum, the orchestra builds dynamic textures through pizzicato, layered rhythms and ostinatos.

Strum is really attractive. It’s rhythmically driven with just enough tunefulness to be very listenable and fascinating,” Butterman says. 

In his Simple Symphony, Britten expanded eight short themes, which he composed as a child, into a piece for string orchestra. The four movements, “Boisterous Bourrée,” “Playful Pizzicato,” “Sentimental Saraband” and “Frolicsome Finale,” have nostalgic titles, reminiscent of childhood. Simple Symphony is one of Britten’s more conservative works stylistically, showing his early neoclassical influences.

Vivaldi Recomposed was the first concert the Boulder Phil recorded at the airport in late September. After two rehearsals the first day, they had a dress rehearsal and recording session the next day. Over the next two weeks, they recorded five more concerts with equally quick turnaround. 

“You just got through this recording session, but you know you need to be back the next morning with a brand new program that would be recorded in less than 48 hours,” Butterman says. “It was a lot to stay on top of.”

Michael Butterman. Photo by Peter Alexander

“It was not easy to have that many programs in your fingers, in your brain, in your heart,” Wetherbee says. “It takes a lot to assimilate that much all at once and to play it with conviction. It was a very compressed way to work.”

While recording Vivaldi Recomposed, Wetherbee found it challenging to maintain the energy of a live performance without an audience, in the middle of an airport hangar.

“We didn’t have the energy of being in the hall like a live concert,” Wetherbee says. “You hear the audience move around in their seats, applaud or draw their breath in at the end of an exciting movement. When you are playing for cameras, there is none of that energy. 

“I had to guard against the feeling that it is sterile, that you are just in a studio. In a recording, you worry about every note being perfect. In a live performance, you don’t have to worry about every note. You have to worry about the energy and about what you want to say.”

For the Boulder Phil’s first virtual concert, Butterman and Wetherbee hope the audience will enjoy the visual experience, which will be more immersive than a live concert. “I am pretty excited about the visuals,” Butterman says. 

“The setting of the airport with the different camera angles and close ups is going to be fun. Through the use of the cameras, people are going to feel like they are in the mix. I hope they feel that they are drawn into the concert.”

“There’s no way [a virtual concert] replaces the live experience,” Wetherbee adds. “Yet, we are moving toward slightly different art form, to be enjoyed for its own ends.”

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Vivaldi Recomposed
Michael Butterman, conductor
Charles Wetherbee, violin

Jesse Montgomery: Strum
Benjamin Britten: Simple Symphony
Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons

Stream available from 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17
You may purchase access here.

David Korevaar and Charles Wetherbee keep the musical stream flowing

Solo piano and violin-piano duo programs will be free online

By Peter Alexander Oct. 13 at 11:30 p.m.

It has become a streaming world for musicians and audiences alike. As the summer of COVID turns into fall, pianist David Korevaar and violinist Charles Wetherbee from the CU Boulder College of Music are keeping the stream flowing.

David Korevaar (l) andCharles Wetherbee

Over the summer the duo did a series of four concerts under the auspices of the Snake River Music Festival, and Korevaar did a celebrated series of streamed performances from his home of all 32 piano sonatas and other works by Beethoven. And now they will add new chapters, both Korevaar individually and the two together.

Korevaar will play a solo recital at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct 15, which will be livestreamed from Schmitt Music in Denver. The program will be all works by Black composers from the early 20th century, starting with Cameos by the English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Korevaar will also play three works by African-American composers: In the Bottoms Suite by R. Nathaniel Dett, the Piano Sonata in E minor by Florence Price, and the Spiritual Suite by Margaret Bonds.

The streamed concert by Korevaar and Wetherbee has already been recorded and will be available on Wetherbee’s YouTube channel starting at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16. The works on their joint program are all based on folk sources from different parts of the world, as organized into traditional Western concert forms: Three pieces from Ruralia Hungarica by Ernst von Dohnányi, the Violin Sonata No 3 by George Enescu, Sueños de Chambi by Gabriela Lena Frank, and the Romanian Folk Dances by Béla Bartók.

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David Korevaar. Photo by Matthew Dine

Korevaar’s program comes entirely from outside the canonical European repertoire of concert pianists. “What we’re looking at [during the pandemic] is an opportunity—an opportunity to expand,” Korevaar says. “For me, it’s a beginning of something bigger in terms of my own explorations of repertoire that I don’t know.”

Korevaar finds unique qualities in each of the composers and works on the program. “The Coleridge-Taylor miniatures represent something that’s typical of English music of the period. The pieces are called ‘Cameos,’ and the title gives you a sense of the atmosphere. He wrote a lot of shorter piano pieces, and  these are typical of that. They are charming,”

Dett was  a Canadian-born composer who immigrated to the U.S. “He ends up settling in the South and absorbing the culture, as an outsider,” Korevaar says. “He’s a good composer and a person of amazing curiosity. I’m excited because it’s new to me. I knew his name, I didn’t know his music.

In the Bottoms Suite is probably his best known piano work. The last movement, the ‘Juba Dance,’ was one of his great hits and was arranged for every possible combination.”

As a composer Price was strongly influenced by Dvořák and his visit to America, although her musical roots were in the Black community where she grew up. “The Sonata [uses] spirituals and the music of the Black church that she was very familiar with, putting that into this very European container, the sonata,” Korevaar says. “It’s really interesting.

“Margaret Bonds was a protege of Price [who] ended up being very much associated with the Harlem Renaissance. The piece I’m playing, Spiritual Suite, is a set of fantasy variations on three different spirituals or traditional songs, which she does a beautiful job with.”

# # # # #

Friday’s duo recital is a continuation of a series of performances that started over the summer as part of the Snake River Festival. In all of their performances this year, Korevaar says, “we’re really trying to work with composers from underrepresented groups.”

Charles Wetherbee (l) and David Korevaar

In this case the composers are slightly better known than in Korevaar’s solo program, although most of the works are not. In fact, all but one—the Bartók Romanian Folk Dances—were new to Wetherbee.

“The program was built around two pieces that I wanted to learn, the Enesco Third Violin Sonata and Sueños de Chambi by Gabriela Lena Frank,” he explains. “Although they are different in many ways, they are both built firmly on the foundation of folk music.

“In the case of the Enescu, [it’s] this Romanian Gypsy style that Enescu grew up playing himself. The musical language, the gestures, the harmony and the mannerisms are drawn from Romanian folk traditions.” 

Wetherbee and Korevaar both find the sonata to be a serious challenge, reflecting the fact that Enesco himself was a virtuoso pianist and violinist.

Frank grew up in Berkeley, Calif., but she often draws on the music of her mother’s native Peru. Her Sueños de Chambi (Dreams of Chambi), subtitled “an Andean photo album,” was inspired by the work of photographer Martín Chambi who documented the customs and festivals of 20th-century Peru.

“What’s very interesting is that [Frank] often has the violin imitate indigenous instruments, including the flutes,” Wetherbee says. “You get some really unusual and beautiful sounds.”

To frame the two major works of the program, Wetherbee and Korevaar selected two collections of shorter pieces that take eastern European folk music—Hungarian in the case of Dohnányi and Romanian in the case of Bartók—and create easily accessible concert music. 

“I do hope that people will not be scared off by works that are all unfamiliar,” Wetherbee says. “ It’s a really beautiful and compelling program.

“These are works that I’d like to play many, many times.”

# # # # #

6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15
David Korevaar, piano
Livestream from Schmitt Music, Denver

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Cameos
R. Nathaniel Dett: In the Bottoms Suite
Florence Price: Sonata in E Minor
Margaret Bonds: Spiritual Suite

Livestream available at no cost.

7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16
David Korevaar, piano, and Charles Wetherbee, violin
Hosted by David Ginder of Colorado Public Radio
Streamed on Wetherbee’s YouTube channel

Ernst von Dohnányi: Three Pieces from Ruralia Hungarica
George Enescu: Violin Sonata No. 3
Gabriela Lena Frank: Sueños de Chambi (Dreams of Chambi)
Bartók: Rumanian Folk Dances

Stream available at no cost.

Longmont Symphony opens virtual fall season Sunday

Concert will introduce new concertmaster and associate concertmaster

By Peter Alexander Oct. 8 at 1:05 p.m.

The Longmont Symphony opens its fall 2020 half season of online concerts, “(Re)Sounding,” Sunday, Oct. 11. Music director Elliot Moore will conduct a program of music for strings, featuring Bach’s popular Concerto in D minor for two violins and orchestra —widely known as the “Bach Double Concerto.”

The soloists will be orchestra’s new concertmaster and associate concertmaster, Benjamin Ehrmentraut and Kina Ono. Other works on the program are three string serenades by Mozart, written when the composer was 16.

Elliot Moore and the Longmont Symphony Orchestra

Because of limitations imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic, Moore says, “I decided to pick music that I felt could be rehearsed and performed in one day. To this end, I’ve picked some of my favorite Mozart divertimenti that I listened to during quarantine. They’re also called his Salzburg symphonies.

“I wanted to also feature our new concertmaster and associate concertmaster as soloists. So they will be performing the Bach Double Violin Concerto.”

The concert will be recorded in the Longmont Museum’s Stewart Auditorium for later broadcast on the LSO’s YouTube channel and on Longmont’s Public Media (LPM) channel. The recording will be engineered by LPM. The premiere broadcast of the first concert will be shown at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, and will be available for a period of time afterwards.

Benjamin Ehrmantraut

Ehrmantraut, a native of Bismarck, N.D., began musical studies at age 9. He received a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and a master’s degree from CU, Boulder, studying with violinist Károly Schranz, who played second violin tin the Takács Quartet for 43 years. Before moving to Colorado, Ehrmantraut played with the Fargo/Moorhead and Bismarck/Mandan symphony orchestras. 

He currently plays with the Boulder Symphony. Chamber music is another part of his career, including performing in at Dakota Chamber Music in North Dakota, in Vermont at the Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival, and in Texas at the Round Top Festival Institute.

Kin Ono

Ono has played in professional orchestras in and near her home state of Minnesota. Since moving to Colorado, she has joined the Boulder Philharmonic, Boulder Symphony and the Cheyenne Symphony. In Minnesota she has performed at the Ordway Music Theater and Concert Hall, Orpheum Theater, Target Center, and Xcel Energy Center, and placed first in the 2016 Schubert Club Competition. She is currently a master’s of student at CU, Boulder. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, where she studied with Sally O’Reilly.

# # # # #

Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Benjamin Ehrmantraut and Kina Ono, violins
4 p.m. Sunday, Oc. 11—online only

J.S. Bach: Concerto in D minor for two violins and orchestra, S1043 (“Double Violin Concerto”)
Mozart: Divertimento in D major, K136 (“Salzburg Symphony No. 1”)
Divertimento in B-flat major, K137 (“Salzburg Symphony No. 2”)
Divertimento in F major, K138 (“Salzburg Symphony No. 3”)

Other concerts of the fall 2020 half season

“Los Angeles to Longmont”
Caroline Campbell, violin
Program tba
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25

“Seattle to Longmont”
Nathan Lee, piano
Program tba
4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 25

Handel’s Messiah, Solo Sections
Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore, conductor
With four vocal soloists to be named later
Handel: Messiah solo pieces
“Hallelujah” Chorus
4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13

Half-season subscriptions and access to individual concert streams may be purchased here

PRO MUSICA COLORADO’S 2020-2021 SEASON FOCUSES ON HEALING, DIVERSITY

The hybrid season will offer livestream and limited in-person tickets.

By Izzy Fincher Oct. 7 at 4:50 p.m.

Amidst the turmoil of 2020, we can turn to music for comfort.

“Music has such a capacity to heal,” Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor of Pro Musica Colorado, says. “It has the capacity to comfort. It has the capacity to connect us, to remind us of our humanity, and to remind us of who we are.”

Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra with conductor Cynthia Katasarelis

Katsarelis planned Pro Musica’s 2020-2021 season in response to the grief and suffering of 2020, hoping to offer comfort and healing to the audience through music.

“Usually we program a year or more in advance,” Katsarelis says. “But now with this season we can respond to what is going on in the world. We decided this season needed works that were healing, comforting and joyful discoveries.”

Cynthia Katsarelis. Photo by Glenn Ross

Katsarelis’ original plans for the season dissolved mid-summer. To comply with COVID-19 social distancing requirements, she had to find repertoire for strings without winds or vocalists. This reduced her options and forced her to look for local soloists on short notice. At that time, she also decided to offer the season as both a virtual and limited in-person experience.

The December program, originally planned to be Handel’s Messiah with the Boulder Chorale, was scrapped in favor of an all-strings program and a new soloist—Yumi Hwang-Williams, concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony. Katsarelis decided to open the concert with Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Novellette No. 1 for string orchestra, a lesser-known work for musical discovery, before moving to familiar works by Vivaldi, Corelli and Dvořák to heal.

For February’s concert, “Rainbow Valentine,” Katsarelis also wanted to begin the program with new discoveries. First, Pro Musica will premiere a new work by Jordan Holloway, the winner of CU-Boulder’s Composition Competition. Then they will play Joseph Bologne’s Violin Concerto No. 9 with soloist Harumi Rhodes, the second violinist of the Takács Quartet, and finish with the comforting Serenade for String Orchestra by Tchaikovsky.

Katsarelis is most excited for the Bologne violin concerto and feels grateful that Rhodes agreed to perform it on short notice. “This violin concerto is swashbuckling,” she says. 

Harumi Rhodes. Photo by
Michael Barnes

“Harumi sets the room on fire when she opens her violin case, let alone when the bow comes to the string. The combination of this swashbuckling concerto and Harumi will be electric. It will pass through the internet to all those tuned in.”

For the final concert in May, aptly named “Springtime,” Pro Musica will collaborate with Nicolò Spera, director of CU’s classical guitar program, on a concerto (currently TBA). The program will also include Carter Pann’s Three Secrets in Maine and  the chamber version of Copland’s Appalachian Spring. Katsarelis feels the works by Pann and Copland are distinctly American and will offer familiar sounds as the season’s final comforting gesture. 

Appalachian Spring is such a quintessential American piece,” she says. “It’s a good piece to play at this time. It’s a piece that reminds us who we are. It is an American work that speaks to the best of American culture.”

For those listening to concerts virtually, Katsarelis recommends working on a high-quality audio setup.

“People might want to get in touch with their inner audiophile,” Katsarelis says. “If they haven’t experimented with connecting their computer to decent speakers, now is the time. It would really enhance the listening experience.”

Beyond the three concerts, Pro Musica will also stay engaged with the Boulder community, particularly in local elementary schools, during the season. They will collaborate with Boulder MUSE, a non-profit organization that provides free music lessons for underprivileged children. Pro Musica’s string quartet will perform music by diverse composers, especially composers of color, from their previous season for young musicians at Columbine Elementary School and University Hill Elementary School. 

For Pro Musica, issues of diversity and representation have always been important. Since their conception in 2007, Pro Musica has aimed to share “new voices from ethnically and racially diverse cultures,” according to their mission statement. This perspective is important with 2020’s focus on diversity. This season includes works by two black composers, Coleridge-Taylor and Bologne.

For Katsarelis, diversity in classical music is personally important. She is currently the only female conductor of a professional orchestra in Colorado.

“This is something I have done my entire career, going back to the mid-1990s,” she says. “It’s not new for me or for Pro Musica. We have been presenting music by female composers, composers of color and underrepresented voices. We have a mission of bringing forward voices that have been silenced unjustly. 

“Artistic grounds alone are enough to bring this music forward. This is great music that has a lot to say to us and can really speak to our hearts.”

# # # # #

Pro Musica Colorado
2020-2021 Season
Limited tickets available for live performances
Live-stream tickets available for Saturday night of each program

Holiday Moods
Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with Yumi Hwang-Williams, violin

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Novellette No. 1
Corelli: Christmas Concerto
Vivaldi: “Fall” and “Winter” from The Four Seasons
Dvořák: Serenade for Strings

*7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, Broomfield Auditorium, Broomfield 
3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, First United Methodist Church, Boulder

Rainbow Valentine
Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with Harumi Rhodes, violin

Jordan Holloway (CU Composition Competition winner): World Premiere
Joseph Bologne: Violin Concerto No. 9
Tchaikovsky: Serenade for String Orchestra

*7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, Broomfield Auditorium, Broomfield
2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 14,Mountain View United Methodist Church, Boulder

Springtime
Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with Nicolò Spera, classical guitar

Carter Pann: Three Secrets in Maine
Concerto TBA
Copland: Appalachian Spring (chamber version)

*7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 1, Broomfield Auditorium, Broomfield
2 p.m. Sunday, May 2, Mountain View United Methodist Church, Boulder.

*Livestreamed concerts

Purchase individual in-person or livestream tickets or 2020-21 season subscriptions for Pro Musica Colorado here.

Takács Quartet returns to the stage of an empty Grusin Hall Oct. 4

Performance with Ivalas Quartet will be available online to prior Takács subscribers

By Peter Alexander Oct. 2 at 3:20 p.m.

The Takács Quartet will be entering familiar territory Sunday (Oct. 4) when they step onstage in Grusin Music Hall for one of their campus concerts.

Takács Quartet. Photo by Amanda Tipton

But there won’t be an audience in the hall. The concert, and one scheduled for Nov. 1, will be streamed live for prior Takács season ticket holders. The concert will feature the Takács Quartet playing alone; the Ivalas Quartet, the current graduate quartet-in-residence at CU, playing alone; and the Takács and Ivalas players joining together as a string octet.

This will be only the Takács’s second campus concert since Richard O’Neill joined the quartet as violist, replacing the retired Geraldine Walther.

The program opens with the Takács playing Five Fantasiestücke, op. 5, by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, a piece they have not played before. The Ivalas Quartet will play several short numbers: Strum by Jessie Montgomery; An Elegy: A Cry from the Grave by Carlos Simon; and two movements from Daniel Bernard Roumain’s String Quartet No. 5, “Rosa Parks.” Concluding the program will be a string octet arrangement of Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas brasileiras No.9.

The most notable feature of the program is the ethnic and racial diversity of the composers: African-English—Coleridge-Taylor; African-American—Montgomery and Simon; Haitian-American—Roumain; and Spanish-Brazilian— Villa-Lobos.

Ivalas Quartet

In this regard, the program also reflects the diversity of the Ivalas Quartet. One violinist is of mixed Danish/German and Ethiopian heritage and grew up in Des Moines, Iowa; the other violinist has American and French-Caribbean/African ancestors and grew up in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma; the cellist is Venezuelan; and the violist is from Southern California but has an Argentinian mother.

Members of the Takács Quartet are busy working to pull the program together, but first violinist Ed Dusinberre shared his thoughts by email. “This has been a time of reflection for us,” he wrote. “Over the summer we’ve been exploring works such as Coleridge Taylor’s extraordinary Fantasiestücke that to our shame we didn’t know previously.

“We always like to showcase our graduate quartet in different ways throughout their residency here. We can’t wait to play the Villa Lobos together and to hear Ivalas perform a variety of wonderful works that they feel passionately about.”

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Not widely known today, Coleridge-Taylor was prominent in English musical life early in the last century. Known in the U.S. as “The African Mahler,” he had several successful tours of the U.S. before he died at 37.

In his program notes, Simon wrote that A Cry from the Grave, written in 2015, “is an artistic reflection dedicated to those who have been murdered wrongfully by an oppressive power; namely Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown.”

Roumain’s String Quartet No. 5 is dedicated to Rosa Parks, whose refusal to move to the back of a bus set off the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott in 1956. Roumain, whose Haitian parents lived through the Civil Right movement in the U.S, wrote that he created the quartet “as a musical portrait of Rosa Parks’ struggle, survival and legacy. The music is a direct reflection of a dignified resistance.”

The Bachianas brasileiras are a series of nine suites by Villa-Lobos written for varying performance media. Each work aims to join Baroque compositional techniques to Brazilian musical material. Most of then are not well known in this country, although No. 5, for soprano and eight cellos, has achieved widespread popularity with classical audiences. The ninth of the series was originally written for chorus and string orchestra, and will be performed in an arrangement for string octet.

Grusin Hall

Performing into an empty hall might seem discomfiting, but Dusinberre says it is not that difficult for the players. “Of course it is an adjustment but compared with the challenges most people face during the pandemic, we feel very fortunate to have projects to work on at all,” he wrote. “We have become experienced at recording CDs over the years and to creating performance energy without a present audience.

“We hope our audience are staying safe. We are extremely grateful to CU Presents in being both sensible and innovative to find means by which we can still communicate with our loyal audience here.”

# # # # #

Takacs and Ivalas string quartets
Full program

Takács Quartet. Image by Amanda Tipton Photography

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor: Five Fantasiestücke, op. 5 
I. Prelude 
II. Serenade
III. Humoresque 
IV. Minuet
V. Dance 

Takács Quartet 

Jessie Montgomery: Strum
Carlos Simon: An Elegy: A Cry from the Grave 
Daniel Bernard Roumain: String Quartet No. 5, “Rosa Parks”
I. “I made up my mind not to move.” 
II. Klap Ur Handz 

Ivalas Quartet 

Heitor Villa-Lobos: Bachianas brasileiras No.9, W449, arranged for string octet
I. Preludio, Vagaroso e Mistico 
II. Fuga (Pouco apressando) 

Takács Quartet and Ivalas Quartet 

The shared Takács/Ivalas concert will be live streamed at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, and will remain available through 11 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12. A second all-Mendelssohn program by the Takács alone will be live streamed at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1, and will be available through 11 p.m. Monday, Nov. 9. These performance will be available online only to prior Takács subscribers. A decision is pending on Takács Quartet performance arrangements for the spring.
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NOTE: Subhead changed 10/3 to include Ivalas Quartet.