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).
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.
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.
A conversation with Bob Balsman of the Longmont Performing Arts Initiative and Longmont City Councilman Tim Waters
By Peter Alexander May 25 at 4:35 p.m.
Members and advocates of the Longmont arts community have proposed a new Performing Arts Center for the city, to be built in conjunction with a Convention and Events Center. With the support of Visit Longmont and the City of Longmont, private funds were raised for a feasibility study conducted by Johnson Consulting, a real estate and consulting firm with experience in the planning of performance venues. Their feasibility study was recently submitted to and accepted by the Longmont City Council. If carried through, this project would have enormous impact on performing arts organizations and audiences in Longmont and throughout Boulder County.
To clarify some of the questions surrounding the project, I sat down—virtually—with Bob Balsman, president of the Longmont Performing Arts Initiative (LPAI, pronounced l’PIE) and Longmont City Councilman Tim Waters, who is one of several supporters of the project in city government. Here is a lightly edited version of our conversation.
Bob Balsman, you are president of LPAI, which played a role in the proposed project from the very beginning. Exactly what is LPAI?
BB: The Longmont Performing Arts Initiative is an association made up of several of Longmont’s major non-profit performing arts groups: The Centennial State Ballet, the Longmont Chorale, the Longmont Concert Band, the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, the Longmont Youth Symphony, and the Long’s Peak Chorus. Together we have hundreds of people that participate directly in the performing arts, and we all perform before thousands of people in the greater Longmont area.
Tim Waters, I assume most people reading this will know what the City Council is. But I believe politics is relatively new for you.
TW: My professional life put me at the nexus of research and leadership and policy and politics, without ever running for elective office. I turned the page from retirement into a new chapter and started attending City Council meetings so [city councilor Marcia Martin] would have somebody to process the issues with. The more I attended, the more interested I got in the issues. When Brian Bagley was elected mayor, the seat for Ward 1 opened up, and since I had been attending meetings, I thought, you know, this is kind of interesting.
Please describe the project that we’re talking about.
BB: We’re working towards the construction of a performing arts facility in Longmont. Our overall hope is to see Longmont have a new venue in the range of somewhere between 1000 and 1500 seats, and later that we would also have a smaller venue of about 500 seats.
And the plan is to combine the performing arts facility with a convention and events center?
BB: Event space is desperately needed in Longmont ever since the Plaza closed a couple of years back and now has been sold. There is no suitable space for gatherings of 200 or more people—even a large-scale wedding reception, not to mention conventions and trade shows. Visit Longmont has estimated that in the past couple of years alone they’ve lost out on 2.6 million dollars worth of business. So these are significant needs in the community.
Where do we stand now on the project?
BB: We first started work on this publicly back in 2018, I believe it was, when we spoke before City Council about the needs for such a center. Since then, members of LPAI have formed into a nonprofit, raised more than half the cost of a feasibility study. That study [performed by Johnson Consulting] has now been completed with a presentation to the City Council, so we’re looking forward to the next steps as soon as those numbers are finalized and validated by city staff.
With the two facilities together, what is the cost of the proposed facility?
BB: According to the feasibility study, that is estimated to be up to $158 million. That’s a pretty big price tag, but we were encouraged when the consultants said those were high estimates, and that they had seen quality venues constructed for 25% less.
Where will that money come from?
TW: We’ve seen the estimates of $105 to $158 million, and I think the City ought to have an investment in that. I think the private sector ought to have an investment in that. LPAI will have to organize a capital campaign to raise private sector money. But I don’t think a project like this can or should be accomplished without an investment by the city. How big a bite that will be is going to depend on a whole lot of variables. With today’s interest rates, we could probably generate $65 million or so of city revenue without having to raise taxes. It’s not simple, but there’s a way to get there.
Also, the projected site is in an opportunity zone. There may be an investor out there who would like to move some money to avoid capital gains taxes somewhere else into a project like this. The City could aggregate the land and then lease it to a developer. That could substantially lower the top-line cost, on a 30-year lease in a public-private partnership. So there are a variety of funding mechanisms to get it done.
Where is the projected site for the facility?
BB: In the feasibility study, there were five different locations that were identified, and a couple were ruled out for various reasons, including that they’re not even in the City proper right now. The prime location that was identified was in southern downtown near the First and Main intersection, what’s called the “Building Steam” area. That area was identified because of certain advantages, which include the overlap of a few different incentive zones, to help make the financing easier. And there’s also mention of transportation that’s going to be there, nearby parking that will help the facility.
What does it mean that the consultant’s reports was ‘accepted’ by the City Council?
TW: It’s a great question. We accepted the report, and tasked the staff with investigating it.
BB: That was a unanimous acceptance, and then they directed again unanimously for City staff to investigate the numbers, which means double-check everything. Then will be the next steps, how do we get from ‘OK, we know what’s recommended’ to we open the doors some time down the road.
What will those next steps look like?
TW: In terms of steps going forward, if the city is going to invest, then LPAI, in partnership with others, needs to come back with decisions that have to be made. These aren’t problems, they’re just areas where we need to make decisions, like how to we think about governance of the facility, what does the business plan look like, what are the assumptions that have to be made such as if you’re going to have a successful business plan, then you need to have this number of performances and this kind of occupancy—which gets into some of the numbers the consultants had.
On that question, who will be responsible for operating the facility?
BB: You know, one of the better models that we have seen is the formation of a nonprofit governing entity that can make all of these decisions for the facility, while another entity actually operates it.
TW: So LPAI as a nonprofit contracts with a manager—there are people out there in the business of managing these kinds of facilities, booking talent and implementing a business plan. I would assume what you do is contract a pro.
BB: None of us in LPAI operate our own venues. We can see what looks like a good decision or a bad decision, but the hands-on, day-to-day work is not something that we are accustomed to. So you have a governing body making policy decisions, LPAI or some other group, and then you have operational staff.
I know that the facility is intended not only for LPAI members and other local groups, but for touring acts as well.
BB: The intention is not to just provide the six LPAI groups with a home. To make it work economically, and to benefit the community, the intention is to bring in outside groups that right now, everybody goes out of Longmont to see because they just do not come to town. You see an awful lot of touring acts that really have nowhere to go in Longmont. For example, you could think of jazz artists like Michael Bublé or Diana Krall. Why don’t you see these people come to Longmont? Because in Longmont, the only places which are large enough to hold an audience for any performer of this caliber, to make it economical, are churches and schools.
People might ask about the school auditoria. Can they accommodate touring shows?
BB: There are some that were built for performances, but you run into many scheduling conflicts for their intended purposes, which is education. Hosting performances is not their deal, and that’s not why people pay taxes to support the schools. There’s another obstacle in that only three of them, I’m told, have dedicated tech staff.The others are operated largely by volunteers.
When you talk about touring shows, that raises the possibility of bringing in audiences from outside Longmont.
BB: I see a performing arts hall drawing from all of the surrounding communities.
That should have an economic impact on Longmont as well.
BB: In the feasibility study the consultants identified an annual impact to Longmont of, a positive impact of $8 million injected into the local economy just by having these facilities. If the project is built in phases, that’s $6.5 million per year for Phase I, and then hotel stays go up by about $21,000 some, plus sales and hotel taxes coming back to the city of about $621,000 per year. And then jobs, just Phase I, it’s an estimated 173 new jobs, or $5.6 million per year in increased earnings.
By the time you get to Phase II, you get taxes that come back from sales and hotel taxes of $872,000 per year, and 245 total jobs. That’s some pretty impressive statistics. When you first see that big price tag, you think how are we going to get to there and this is nothing but a expense, but no, it’s not just an expense. The reason that these things get built is that they are a catalyst. Yeah, it costs something to build them, but then you get an annual return back into the economy
Are there other benefits to the community that we should talk about?
TW: We currently have no place in Longmont to bring kids who might aspire for, if not a career at least a lifetime in the arts. There is no venue to take them to say ‘imagine yourself here.’ I can imagine in a performing arts facility like we’re talking about bringing world-class entertainment to town, with an educational outreach task that goes with every one of them. That expands the horizons and the education experience of all the kids in this community, in ways that we simply don’t get a chance to do right now. So, let’s imagine that we could bring Hamilton here. What an educational opportunity for every kid in this town, whether you aspire to be an artist or not, to look at American history thorough the arts. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many ways that the lives of our children can and should be enriched that simply aren’t options for us today in Longmont.
Are there misconceptions about this project that should be corrected?
TW: Right off the top is, ‘If you do this there’s a bunch of other things we can’t do. If you do this, we won’t serve well our most disadvantaged residents.’ That’s a misconception that somehow we either lack the resources or the capacity to do this. The argument, if you do this you can’t do something else, I think is a bogus argument. I think it’s a scarcity mentality and a view of the world as a zero-sum experience,. I just don’t see it that way.
I think another misconception is that that ultimately it will serve an elite constituency in Longmont. On the contrary, we have a bunch of people in this town, children in particular. This serves the entire community.
BB: I’d say it’s definitely not elitist. Longmont’s performing arts scene does include more than the LPAI organizations. We have other groups, such as Bario E’ in town that’s from Puerto Rico, for example. And other groups that represent other ethnic groups. And aside from that, none of these people are paid to do what they do. This is all a grass-root effort. What you’re looking at when you see LPAI and the other groups around town is a large-scale volunteer effort. People want to be involved in these groups. It’s certainly not just for the advantaged.
Thank you both for spending some time with me and answering my questions.
You may access the feasibility study that was presented to the Longmont City Council and other documents here.
A statement on the Longmont Center by City Council Member Marcia Martin is here.
Four operas, to be played for 30–80% capacity houses
By Peter Alexander Oct. 26 at 9:15 p.m.
The Santa Fe Opera (SFO) has an advantage these days over most other summer opera festivals: they perform outdoors.
In the time of COVID, of course, outdoors is the safest place to be. That fact made it easier for SFO to plan for the coming season.
“The single greatest advantage that we have given the challenges of the coronavirus is that that we are an outdoor venue,” Robert Meya, the SFO’s general director, says.“ Even if we have to reduce our social distancing way down, it’s still going to be a lot safer than any indoor theater.”
Meya announced the summer 2021 season in an online press conference Oct. 21. The season will be reduced—four operas instead of the usual five—to decrease crowding on the grounds of the SFO during rehearsals and work hours for backstage crews. The four operas on the schedule provide an interesting variety of styles, with one each from the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries.
The season will comprise Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream—ideal for an outdoor summer venue!—and the world premiere of The Lord of Cries by John Corigliano and Mark Adamo. All four had been part of the long-term plan for the coming summer.
A fifth opera that calls for a very large chorus and many extras would have been next to impossible to produce with safe distancing of cast and crew, and was dropped from the schedule.
It was important to preserve as much of the 2021 schedule as possible because of contractual commitments by the SFO. “Most of the contracts had been issued,” Meya explains. “Certainly verbally, we had agreements with all of the artists for that season.”
All of the productions planned for 2020 have been moved to 2022 or ‘23, including the world premiere of M Butterfly by Huang Ruo and David Henry Hwang, the return of Wagner to the SFO with Tristan und Isolde, and the company’s first production ever of Dvořák’s Rusalka. “Because we wanted to preserve all of these projects, we had to leapfrog over 2021,” Meya says.
“We were able to save all five projects by slotting them into ‘22 and ‘23. That created a little bit of a domino effect, because we had those plans laid out. We had already built three of these (2020) productions. In March [they were] almost ready to go on stage.”
The dates of those future performances postponed from 2020 will be announced later. “I’m hoping we can go forward with the season announcement for 2022 this coming spring, in the normal pattern of announcing about 14 months out,” Meya says. Stay tuned.
Of the four operas slated for 2021, the premiere of The Lord of Cries is sure to attract the most attention from the opera world. The 17th world premiere at the SFO, The Lord of Cries is based on two classic works of literature, The Bacchae by Euripides and Dracula by Bram Stoker.
According to the description in the SFO’s news release, “Separated by 24 centuries, The Bacchae and Dracula tell virtually the same timeless story, with the same subversive message: We must honor our animal nature lest it turn monstruous and destroy us. The Lord of Cries begins with a strange, androgynous god returning to earth to offer a mortal three chances to ‘ask for what you want’ or risk the consequences. He materializes in Victorian England in the guise of the eponymous ‘Lord of Cries,’ . . . the irresistible antihero of Dracula.”
The Lord of Cries is the second opera by Pulitzer Prize winner Corigliano, after his 1991 Metropolitan Opera commission, The Ghosts of Versailles. Librettist Mark Adamo is himself a composer who wrote librettos for his own operas, including the 2013 Gospel of Mary Magdalene, which was revised in 2017 for a “CU NOW” workshop production in Boulder.
Ticket information and full information on all four operas, including casts and synopses, is available on the SFO Web page.
The SFO’s various health strategies, for artists, staff and the public, have been worked out in partnership with CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, as well as a Reopening Advisory Group comprised of SFO Board members, staff, and public health experts. Steps to protect the health of the public during the 2021 season include seating reduced to between 30 and 80 percent of capacity, depending on conditions; ticketless entry and staggered arrival times; electrostatic disinfection of high traffic areas; and enhanced ventilation and air purification in elevators and restrooms.
The usual preview dinners and backstage tours will not take place, and the SFO Cantina, a popular gathering place before performances, will be closed. Tailgating picnics will still be permitted in the parking lot, with appropriate distancing.
Protecting the health of the artists and others working at the SFO is both a high priority and a complex challenge. Meya explains the steps that will be taken: “The musicians in the orchestra, all of the singers, and of course that includes our apprentices who comprise our chorus—[everyone] rehearsing and performing in close proximity is going to be quarantined upon arrival in the state for 14 days. During that same period they will receive the CCR test as well as the antibody test.
“Once they’re admitted to rehearse on campus, we will have frequent [testing]. All the singers, musicians and apprentices will be tested three times weekly, the backstage crew who can still socially distance to some degree will be tested two times weekly, and everyone else on campus will be tested once weekly.
“Those tests will be the rapid test. We are actually in the process of sourcing those—something like 12,000 tests. We will do the tests on site. We’ll set up a testing station [with] six machines that are going to be running approximately seven hours a day, six days a week with three operators, in order to conduct something like 1000 tests per week.”
In addition to those precautions, the SFO campus is mostly outdoors, with open air rehearsal spaces. But of course the visiting artists and their families will be out in the community as well. “We’re going to ask all of those people to sign a stringent out-of-workplace agreement about what they’re not going to do, like go to bars or restaurants.”
The Santa Fe Opera is one of the very first summer operas to announce full details for their 2021 season. Central City announced long ago that they would move their entire 2020 schedule to 2021, but details of health precautions have not been released. Opera Theater of St. Louis announced Oct. 19—two days before SFO—that they will proceed with an open-air, socially distanced 2021 season.
Considering the dangers posed by the coronavirus, Meya feels very fortunate that the SFO is operating in its unique environment. “We are in that environment that is the perfect marriage of nature and art,” he says. “We’re in such a fortunate position in so many ways. We’re determined to put on a season, and we have been able to announce with a good deal of confidence.
“I feel very positive that we can make this happen and that we can do it safely.”
Players are currently rehearsing and recording six of the eight programs
By Peter Alexander Sept. 21 at 10:30 a.m.
There were airplanes coming and going at the Boulder Municipal Airport last week, there were mechanics working on airplanes, pilots picking up brake fluid for airplanes—all the activity you would expect.
And there was an orchestra.
In fact, the Boulder Philharmonic was busy rehearsing their fall 2020 season in the Brungard Aviation hangar. It’s not usual activity at the airport, but if the pilot picking up brake fluid was taken aback, he didn’t show it.
This is part of the Boulder Phil’s answer to keeping the music alive during the pandemic. As conductor Michael Butterman explains, he and the orchestra spent several months looking for a way to have a 2020–21 season.
“This is probably the 40th iteration of ‘20–‘21,” he says. “Throughout the summer we kept changing our thoughts about what we’re going to be able to do.”
They finally found a way to stream the season online. Seven of the eight concerts will be available individually or by subscription through the Boulder Phil Web page. The eighth concert, the holiday program, will be available free with voluntary contributions. Each concert will be available for a limited time after its online premier. (See the full schedule below.)
To rehearse and record, Butterman realized, the players would have to be safely distanced and most playing with a mask. For that to be possible, they would have to use a reduced orchestra, mostly strings, and they would have to have a large space. For the former, there is a lot of available repertoire, but where would they find an appropriate space?
“It occurred to me that we have had galas at an airplane hangar at Rocky Mountain Airport,” Butterman says. “We ended up locating an opportunity at Boulder Municipal Airport, at Brungard Aviation’s hangar, and we’re grateful to them for that.”
Over a two week period—Sept. 15–20 and Sept. 22–27—players from the orchestra will rehearse and record for later streaming six of the eight concerts scheduled for the season. There will be three rehearsals and one three-hour recording session for each program.
The last two concerts—one a collaboration with the CU-Boulder Department of Theatre and the other with Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance—will be recorded later. That gives flexibility in working with the collaborating organizations and keeps open the possibility that some kind of live performance might be possible by the end of the season.
Two artists who have appeared with the Boulder Phil in the past—pianist Simone Dinnerstein and cellist Zuill Bailey—were invited to collaborate in chamber or chamber orchestra performances. “Zuill and Simone are wonderful to work with,” Butterman says. “The fact that we’ve had them both to Boulder already, and that they’ve been very popular with our audience, they were obvious choices.”
To make the video recordings, the Boulder Phil recruited the service of sound and video engineer Michael Quam. There will be 10 cameras recording each piece, providing a wide variety of camera angles for the streamed performances.
Streamed concerts offer both a challenge and an opportunity. “This season may offer opportunities for greater access for some people,” Butterman says: “anybody who has problems with transportation, who has a schedule conflict Saturdays at 7:30, who lives far enough from Boulder that they don’t want to drive in.” And of course the hope is that the convenience of being able to see concerts on demand will attract new audiences
The necessity of limiting the number of performers led to some thoughtful programming. For example, during the years after World War I and during the Spanish flu, Stravinsky and other composers did not have access to large orchestras. Instead, they wrote music for smaller groups, including Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat for seven players, which is ideal for the pandemic year. It will be on the April 3 program.
Other works will be performed in arrangements for reduced ensembles, such as Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony on April 24, arranged for a string sextet, and Ellen Taaffe Zwillich’s Cello Concerto, which the composer re-arranged for chamber ensemble, on March 13.
In fact, Butterman says, “the idea of this being a re-imagined season is embodied in each of the programs. We’re presenting pieces that themselves have undergone some amount of transformation. In the case of Vivaldi (recomposed by Max Richter, on the Oct. 17 concert), that’s obvious. The least obvious example is the Bach concert (Nov. 14), but any time you’re playing Bach on piano, that is a bit of a re-imagining.
“We’re obviously retooling the concert experience. I think there’s some very, very strong upsides to that, including bringing you inside the experience, and making the access wider.”
And if they find new fans among the mechanics at Brungard Aviation, or pilots that need brake fluid, so much the better.
# # # # #
Boulder Phil 2021: Reimagined All performances streamed online Tickets available through the Boulder Phil Web page
Vivaldi Recomposed Michael Butterman, conductor Charles Wetherbee, violin
Jesse Montgomery: Strum Benjamin Britten: Simple Symphony Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons
Available from 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17
The Beauty of Bach Simone Dinnerstein, pianist and conductor Christina Jennings, flute, and Charles Wetherbee, violin
J.S. Bach/Philip Lasser: Erbarm’ Dich J.S. Bach: Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor Keyboard Concerto in D minor Brandenburg Concerto No 5 in D major
Available from 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14
Happy Holidays from the Phil No tickets required; contributions welcomed Available from 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13
Zuill and Zwillich Zuill Bailey, cello, with Michael Butterman and Jennifer Hayghe, piano
Rachmaninoff: Vocalise for cello and piano Ellen Taaffe Zwillich: Cello Concerto (chamber version) Schubert: Piano Quintet in A major (“The Trout”)
Available 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23
Mozart and Mendelssohn Simone Dinnerstein, piano
Scott Joplin: “Solace” and “Bethena” Mozart/Ignaz Lachner: Piano Concerto in C major, K467 Mendelssohn: Octet for Strings
Available from 7:30 Saturday, Feb. 13
A Celebration of Cello Michael Butterman conductor, with Zuill Bailey, cello
Debussy/Schoenberg: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun Schumann/Philip Lasser: Cello Concerto in A minor Paul Trapkus: Trio for Three Violins Giovanni Sollima: Violencelles, Vibrez! Wagner: Siegfried Idyll
Available 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 13
The Soldier’s Tale Michael Butterman, conductor CU Department of Theatre and Boulder Ballet
Stravinsky: L’Histoire du soldat (The soldier’s tale)
Available 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 3
Beethoven 6 and Frequent Flyers Michael Butterman, conductor Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance
George Walker: Lyric for Strings Korine Fujiwara: Suite from Claudel Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 in F major (“Pastoral”; arr. for string sextet by M.G. Fischer)
Compilation orchestra performances and composers from marginalized communities
By Peter Alexander June 19 at 2 p.m.
The Colorado Music Festival (CMF) announced a series of six virtual, online concerts, featuring the Takács Quartet and other guest artists, members of the CMF orchestra, and music director Peter Oundjian.
The performances will be presented free of charge, on demand through the CMF Website. The performances will be made available at 7:30 p.m. on six consecutive Thursday evenings, June 25 through July 30. Each performance will be available for some time after the time they are first posted.
A letter from CMF music director Peter Oundjian places the virtual festival in the current times, and particularly issues of racial justice in the United States. “It is no secret to any of us that the story of this country is riddled with the murder and mistreatment of non-white races,” Oundjian writes. “I am committed to doing everything in my power to make this festival an instrumental platform for musicians who come from marginalized communities.
“This summer’s festival will include only a fraction of what our programming will look like next summer, and the summers that follow. We will be featuring the music of a number of composers, both living and deceased, who come from different marginalized communities all across the country and the world.
“This is just the beginning.”
For the abbreviated 2020 virtual festival, the inclusion of minority and marginalized musicians includes works by, among others, Florence Price, Agustin Barrios Mangoré, Keith Jarrett, Reena Esmail, Gabriela Lena Frank, Jessie Montgomery and George Walker. The festival will conclude with performances by the current quartet-in-residence at CU Boulder, the Ivalas Quartet, a multi-cultural group with members from Hispanic and Black communities.
The six performances and their full programs will be:
June 25: Festival Orchestra and the Takács Quartet, featuring the debut of the quartet’s newest member, violist Richard O’Neill. The program will feature a previous Festival Orchestra performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to Candide; and the Takács Quartet on the Chautauqua stage playing Schobert’s Quartettsatz and movements from Florence Price’s String Quartet No. 2; Béla Bartók’s String Quartet No. 2, and Beethoven’s String Quartet in C major, op. 59 no. 3.
July 2: A celebration of women in music. Guitarist Sharon Isbin will play works by Enrique Granados, Antonio Lauro, Leo Brouwer, Nanomi Shemer and Agustin Barrios Mangoré. Percussionist Jisu Jung will play works by Howard Stevens and Keith Jarrett. Framing their performances, CMF musicians will play virtual compilation performances of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and two marches by John Philip Sousa.
July 9: Violinist Augustin Hadelich will join Oundjian in his home to perform music by J.S. Bach, Eugène Ysaÿe and Francisco Tarrega.
July 16: Pianist Jan Lisiecki will perform cadenzas from the Beethoven piano concertos nos. 1 through 4, and join Oundjian in a discussion of those pieces.
July 23: Brooklyn Rider string quartet will share a performance from their “Healing Modes” repertoire, which features works by Reena Esmail, Gabriela Lena Frank and Kinan Azmeh. The program will open with a virtual compilation of Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman No. 5, performed by members of the CMF Orchestra brass section.
July 30: CU’s Ivalas Quartet will perform movements from quartets by Joseph Haydn and Jessie Montgomery, and the piano duo of twin sisters Michelle and Christina Naughton will perform music by Ravel, Debussy, George Walker, Rachmaninoff, and Conlon Nancarrow. CMF orchestra members will open the program with Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, and close the virtual festival with the second and fourth movements of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.
Except for the Overture from Candide, all the performances by CMF orchestra musicians will be virtual compilation performances, assembled from separate videos submitted by the players. These individual video will be compiled by the festival’s recording and sound engineer Michael Quam and CMF staff.
Other performances will be recorded in advance for broadcast at the stated program times.
You may register for the virtual festival performances here.
Music director Peter Oundjian is working to create a virtual festival
By Peter Alexander May 1 at 10 a.m.
In a statement released to the press and public this morning, the board of directors of Boulder’s Colorado Music Festival has announced the cancellation of the 2020 festival that was scheduled to take place June 25–Aug. 1 at the Chautauqua Auditorium.
A quote attributed to executive director Elizabeth McGuire and board president Anne Beer states that it is impossible “to ensure the health and safety of our beloved musicians patrons, housing hosts, volunteers and staff—a responsibility we hold paramount.
“The staff and board of directors are all profoundly saddened by the loss of the festival’s 2020 live performance season.”
The CMF management have created a Musician Fund to help provide financial support for musicians and staff of the festival who have lost work as a result of the cancellation. Public contributions to the fund are possible through the Web page. People who have already purchased tickets for the 2020 festival are given the choice of donating some of all of their ticket values toward the Musician Fund, crediting their ticket value toward the 2021 festival, or requesting a full refund.
CMF Music Director Peter Oundjian
Peter Oundjian, the CMF music director, is working with artists to create a “virtual festival” online. According to the CMF’s statement, the virtual festival content “will be released first to those who purchased tickets to the 2020 festival, and later to the public. The virtual festival will be available through the CMF Website. http://www.coloradomusicfestival.org/festival
Oundjian is quoted in the CMF statement: “While we are faced with the disappointment of canceling this year’s Colorado Music Festival, we are grateful to have the opportunity to offer a virtual festival. Without exception, the musicians I’ve spoken to are eager to participate.”
While it seems unlikely that anything approaching full orchestral performances will be part of the Virtual Colorado Music Festival, several chamber music performances were listed as likely events. These included performances by CMF orchestra musicians; a performance by the Takacs Quartet to mark the debut of the their new violist, Richard O’Neill; an evening with the Juilliard Quartet in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the quartet’s founding first violinist, Robert Mann; and a performance and discussion with the St. Lawrence String Quartet and 2020 composer-in-residence John Adams.
More information about the Virtual Colorado Music Festival will be released when possible, through the CMF Web page.
Events and classes on CU Campus postponed or canceled
By Peter Alexander March 11 at 1:05 p.m.
Updated at 1:25 p.m.
The Office of the Chancellor at University of Colorado Boulder today made an announcement about campus classes and events. The full ramifications of this announcement for CU Presents and other events is not yet certain. Here are pertinent parts of the announcement form the Office of the Chancellor:
Today, I am announcing several campus actions to help limit COVID-19 risk on our campus. We will continue to fulfill our mission by ensuring that students are able to meet their educational requirements and faculty are able to continue their research and scholarship, and the campus will remain open to allow that to occur. We will continue to operate campus facilities, including residence halls, dining halls, the University Libraries, student recreation centers, the Center for Community, Wardenburg Health Center and the University Memorial Center. But, as local, national and global public health recommendations shift to include mitigation of transmission, we are proactively taking steps to protect the campus and the community.
. . . . .
Effective immediately, multi-day university-sponsored gatherings or those with more than 150 attendees are suspended until further guidance is issued. Event sponsors may request their events still be held and can request exemptions via the campus events exception form.
We will be providing further guidance and direction about how to implement each of these decisions in the coming days. Please continue to reference the latest information at colorado.edu/coronavirus.
If you read Sharpsandflatirons often you may notice that I have not posted any reviews in the past few days—right in the middle of Boulder’s Colorado Music Festival at Chautauqua, the flagship classical music event of the summer in Boulder County! There is a reason, and it is not that I am snubbing the festival.
A few days ago I was out hiking with my grandson and foolishly took my eyes off the trail for a few seconds. My left foot found a steeply slanted rock that was covered with dirt, and down I slid, doubling my right knee back and landing in some terrible way on my right foot and ankle.
The bruises are remarkable to behold, but apart from their artistic merit, I experienced quite a bit of pain and still have considerable swelling in my foot and lower leg. There is no doubt that the ankle has been severely sprained. The best advice is to stay off my right foot as much as possible.
So I am staying home, my foot propped up and frequently iced (RICE=Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Consequently I have had to miss more than one concert I had hoped to review. I expect to return to my usual routine of concerts and reviews within the next week. Until then, I appreciate your wishes for a quick recovery!
Oct. 5 and 6 concert features composer Will Todd’s “Mass in Blue”
By Peter Alexander Oct. 4 at 12 noon
Ars Nova, Boulder’s a capella choir that specializes in Renaissance and contemporary concert music, is venturing into new territory.
“It is a bit of a departure for us,” says Thomas Edward Morgan, artistic director of Ars Nova, talking about a program of “Sacred Jazz.” That program, performed by Ars Nova and guest artists, will open their season Oct. 5 in Boulder and Oct. 6 in Cherry Hills Village.
Thomas Edward Morgan (center) and the Ars Nova Singers
It was the main piece on the program, Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, that initially got Morgan’s attention “This piece has been on my radar screen for a while now, partly because the choral writing in it is really excellent,” he says. “You don’t find a lot of extended contemporary pieces that have this level of choral writing.”
The six-movement Mass will be performed with a jazz trio comprising Scott Martin, piano; Mark Diamond, bass; and Russ Meissner, drums. Soprano Kathryn Radakovich will appear as soloist for the Mass.
The Mass in Blue takes about 40 minutes, Morgan says. The concert will open with a separate 20-minute set of a capella pieces. The entire program, with about 60 minutes of music, will be performed without intermission.
Thomas Edward Morgan
Opening the season with the Mass in Blue “was an opportunity for us to perform a piece with this level of choral writing, and also to reach a new crowd, with the jazz influence and the spectacular players that we have,” Morgan says. “We hope that we reach new people right at the beginning of the season who will then be interested in what we do and come back through the rest of the season.”
The composer, Will Todd, is a British jazz pianist who brings both his jazz experience and his knowledge of the English choral tradition to the composition of the Mass in Blue. The piece is an adventure for both the choir and for the jazz trio, in that it is deeply rooted in the Blues tradition, but also almost entirely written out.
Compared to most jazz combo work, Morgan says, “this has considerably more structure, which is interesting for the audience as well as for the choir, and I think interesting for the trio because it‘s certainly more composed than what they usually do. They pretty much have to play from a part because there’s a lot of time signature changes. It requires jazz musicians who can read and know where the changes happen.”
In fact, Morgan says, the piece is almost “over-composed,” in that the jazz trio has parts that could be played straight through as written, without improvisation. That way it can be performed by players who prefer to read it straight, but it can also be done with more freedom by proficient jazz artists.
“The way we approach it is we have the trio play in the style and not be note-specific to what the composer wrote,” Morgan explains. “The choir is really specifically notated, and they’ll do exactly what’s printed. It’s what’s underneath and around that, that gets a little bit freer, so it certainly has the jazz feel to it.”
A particular challenge, Morgan says, was finding a soprano soloist who can handle the demands of the part Todd has written. “The part for the soprano soloist is very virtuosic,” Morgan says. “We went through a couple of sopranos to find the right one to make it work, because it’s challenging. It’s high and very virtuosic. It takes the energy of the choir just one level further.”
The soloist Morgan found, Radakovich, is an extraordinarily versatile artist. She teaches vocal jazz at Metropolitan State University in Denver and has performed in Denver’s major jazz venues, but she also performs with early music groups including the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado and the Denver Early Music Consort. As an early music singer she has appeared at the Montana Early Music Festival, and the Victoria Bach Festival, among others.
The opening set will showcase the versatility of Ars Nova, Morgan says. It will include a Renaissance piece by English composer John Shepperd, a new piece by Eric Banks that includes text in Middle Persian, a spiritual arrangement, and Duke Ellington’s classic “Come Sunday.”
“We wanted to give the audience a little bit of a taste of what else we do,” Morgan says. “We mostly do a cappella things, so we’re going to do a 20-minute set a cappella.
“It’s a chance to introduce this audience to a wider selection of what Ars Nova does, so they may be more interested in coming back to hearing us again.”
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Ars Nova Singers
Ars Nova Singers, Thomas Morgan, conductor
With Kathryn Radakovich, soprano
Scott Martin,piano; Mark Diamond, bass; Russ Meissner, drums
A capella opening set including music by John Sheppard, Eric Banks, Duke Ellington
Will Todd: Mass In Blue