Boulder Phil unveils new season, new motto, new logos

2019–20 season, labelled “Let’s play,” features pop elements throughout

By Peter Alexander April 7 at 3 p.m.

The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra—now officially aka “Boulder Phil”—unveiled their coming season, a new logo, and a new motto at an event for friends and supporters of orchestra Thursday evening, April 4.

B.Phil logoAcknowledging popular practice, the name “Boulder Phil” has been incorporated into the official logo. The logo itself is actually three related symbols, all of them playfully swirling swoops and curls. And in the same spirit, the new motto, for the orchestra and for the season, is “Let’s play.”

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Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead

All of that reflects the 2019–20 season’s programming, which includes some familiar classical masterpieces and also elements popular in the culture at large and with Boulder audiences: Music by Jonny Greenwood of the alt-rock band Radiohead and by Jon Lord of Deep Purple; the return to the Boulder Phil of the piano duo Anderson & Roe, a Boulder audience favorite since their 2016 performance with the orchestra; a screening of the popular film Raiders of the Lost Ark with the John Williams score performed live onstage; and a concert of “The Music of Queen.”

The mixture of popular and classical ingredients is obvious from the very first concert, titled “Gritty/Pretty” (Oct. 12–13). Two of the works on the program are by Greenwood and Lord, two successful rock musicians who have turned to classical composition. Greenwood has written several orchestral scores for film, including the Academy Award-winning There will be Blood. The Phil will perform a suite from Greenwood’s score for the film, which suggested the “Gritty” part of the concert’s title.

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Jon Lord

Lord, who was both a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and honorary Doctor of Music, was a composer of orchestral scores for more than 30 years, alongside his work with Deep Purple. Boulder Phil music director Michael Butterman says that he heard Lord’s To Notice Such Things, a six-movement suite for solo flute, piano and strings, while driving, and was so taken with the music that he stopped to find out what it was.

Not being up on rock performers, he admits that he thought “who?” when the piece was announced, but he went on to learn about Lord, and the piece, which was written in memory of one of Lord’s close friends. The Phil performance will feature the orchestra’s principal flutist, Elizabeth Sadilek-Labenski.

Also on the same program is Schubert’s Fifth Symphony which, along with Lord’s score, suggested the “Pretty” part of the title.

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Anderson & Roe. Photo by Ken Schles.

Other nods to popular music in the program will be obvious: “Raiders of the Lost Ark in Concert” (Oct. 27) and “The Music of Queen” (Feb. 15, 2020) from Windborne Music, the same organization that produced “The Music of David Bowie” for the current season (May 4). Not directly from the pop music canon, but certainly popular with Boulder audiences will be the return of the piano duo Anderson and Roe (Jan. 25), whose highly entertaining performance style captivated Boulder Phil audiences in 2016.

Two pieces on the program will be arrangements by Greg Anderson, half of the duo: Ragtime alla Turca, based on Mozart’s “Rondo all turca” for piano, and Danse macabre bacchanale, based on music by Saint-Saëns. The same program will see Butterman join Anderson and Roe for Mozart’s Concerto for Three pianos, and a performance of Mozart’s joyful “Haffner” Symphony.

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Zuill Bailley

Other returning guest soloists during the season will be cellist Zuill Bailey, playing Michael Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway for cello and orchestra (Feb. 22) and violinist Jennifer Koh, playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (April 25). The latter concert will feature two pieces with accompanying visuals. Circuits by Cindy McTee will have visuals by computer graphics artist Aleksi Moriarty; and Alan Hovhaness’ Symphony No. 2, Mysterious Mountain, will have visuals by adventurer-composer Stephen Lias, whose compositions Gates of the Arctic and All the Songs that Nature Sings were premiered by the Boulder Phil in past seasons.

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Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance with the Boulder Phil (2013)

Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance will appear with the Boulder Phil for the first time since their joint performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 2017, providing aerial choreography for the Butterfly Lovers Concerto by Chinese composers He Zhanhao and Chen Gang. The violin solo will be played by the Phil’s concertmaster, Charles Wetherbee.

 

The concert—rather hopefully titled “Rebirth of Spring”—will be presented March 21 and 22. Other works on the program will be Resurrexit by Mason Bates, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture and Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird.

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Aldo López Gavilan

“Latin Fire & Boléro,” the concert scheduled Nov. 3, will introduce a new soloist to Boulder audiences, Aldo López Gavilán. The Cuban-born composer/pianist will play his own Emporium, a concerto for piano and orchestra, on a program that also features two works by Argentinian composers: Astor Piazzolla’s Tangazo, and Alberto Ginastera’s virtuoso orchestral piece Variaciones concertantes, which assigns each of nine variations to a different solo instrument from the orchestra. Closing out the program will be Ravel’s Boléro.

Other events that will be part of the season will be the annual Nutcracker performances with Boulder Ballet, Nov. 29–Dec. 1; and a new Holiday concert, “Christmas with the Phil,” Dec. 21–23. The latter will feature the Christmas section of Handel’s Messiah, and other seasonal music. Performances will be in more intimate venues than Macky Auditorium, including Boulder’s Mountain View United Methodist Church.

The full 2019–20 season of the Boulder Phil is listed below. Season tickets are currently on sale here.

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Boulder Phil 2019–20 Season
All concerts at Macky Auditorium unless otherwise specified

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“Gritty/Pretty”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Elizabeth Sadilek-Labenski, flute

Jonny Greenwood: Suite from There Will Be Blood
Jon Lord: To Notice Such Things
Schubert: Symphony No. 5

2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 13, 2 p.m. at Pinnacle PAC

51K8ouYrHeL._SY445_“Raiders of the Lost Ark in Concert”
Film screening with live orchestral performance of John Williams’s score
Gary Lewis, conductor
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27

“Latin Fire & Boléro”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Aldo López Gavilán, piano

Astor Piazzolla: Tangazo
Aldo López Gavilán: Emporium
Alberto Ginastera: Variaciones concertantes
Ravel: Boléro

7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3

Nutcracker Ballet by Tchaikovsky
With Boulder Ballet
Gary Lewis, conductor

Photo-by-Eli-Akerstein

Boulder Ballet’s Nutcacker. Photo by Eli Akerstein

2 p.m. Friday, Nov.29
2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30,
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1

“Christmas with the Phil”
Gary Lewis, conductor

Handel: Messiah (Part I: Christmas section) and other works

7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek, Colo.
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, Mountain View United Methodist Church, Boulder
7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 23, Lone Tree Arts Center, Lone Tree, Colo.

“Anderson & Roe Return!”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, duo-pianists

Gabriel Fauré: Masques et Bergamasques
Mozart: Concerto for Three Pianos, K242
Mozart/Anderson: Ragtime alla Turca
Mozart: Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”)
Saint-Saëns/Anderson: Danse macabre bacchanale

Saturday, Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.

“The Music of Queen”
Brent Havens, conductor
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15

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Michael Daugherty

“Hemingway Portraits & Sibelius”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Zuill Bailey, cello

Michael Daugherty: Tales of Hemingway
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2

Saturday, February 22, 7:30 p.m.

“Rebirth of Spring”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance and Charles Wetherbee, violin

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Mason Bates. Photo by Lydia Danmiller

Mason Bates: Resurrexit,
He Zhanhao and Chen Gang: Butterfly Lovers Concerto
Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture
Stravinsky: Suite from The Firebird (1919)

7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21
2 p.m. Sunday, March 22, at Pinnacle PAC

“Beethoven & Beyond”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Jennifer Koh, violin

B.Phil logo.2Cindy McTee: Circuits, with visuals by Aleksi Moriarty
Alan Hovhaness: Symphony No. 2, Mysterious Mountain, with visuals by Stephen Lias
Beethoven: Violin Concerto

7:30 p.m. Saturday, April

Tickets and more information: Five- and six-concert subscription packages are now available; click here or call 303-449-1343. Single tickets go on sale June 1, 2019.

 

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Opening Night: Bracing, energetic, rough

Boulder Philharmonic begins conductor Michael Butterman’s 10th-anniversary season

By Peter Alexander

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Conductor Michael Butterman began his 10th anniversary season with the Boulder Philharmonic

The Boulder Philharmonic gave a mixed performance last night, playing an intriguing program to launch its 2016–17 season.

The selections ranged from the familiar—Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini—to the not quite familiar—Tchaikovsky’s tuneful Symphony No. 2—to the almost exotic—Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos. The dynamic young piano duo of Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe were soloists.

The performance had plenty of energy and many lovely moments, but it also suffered from being the orchestra’s first outing of the season. At times the sound was a little rough, the players not quite together, but in the end the high energy of the performance won out.

Boulder Phil principal cellist Charles Lee introduced the proceedings with announcements of his (20th) and Butterman’s (10th) anniversary seasons with the orchestra. Next, board vice-president Rudy Perez acquitted himself admirably, leading the orchestra in the Star Spangled Banner—not the easiest piece for a non-professional conductor—and then happily turned the musicians over to Butterman.

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Duo pianists Anderson and Roe

To open the actual program, Anderson and Roe gave a bracing performance of Poulenc’s Concerto. Unfamiliar enough that Butterman gave a spoken introduction, with a recording of a Balinese gamelan to illustrate one of Poulenc’s inspirations, the concerto won the audience’s favor and a hearty ovation.

For their part, Anderson and Roe gave a scintillating performance. This is piece that it pays to hear live: the give and take between the players can be seen and enjoyed, but not necessarily heard on a recording. With their exuberant performing style, Anderson and Roe provided a visual element that only enhanced these musical exchanges and the sudden shifts in mood.

The Mozartian slow movement, played with great tenderness and pleasure by the soloists, was a delight to hear, and the spice and energy of the finale were contagious. From beginning to end, the concerto was thoroughly satisfying.

Roe returned alone as soloist for Rachmaninoff’s much loved Rhapsody. She played with great aplomb, from the strongest chords to the most delicate moments. The expressiveness of her playing and the intensity of her commitment to the music were deeply moving.

There was some lovely playing from individual musicians, moments of real beauty, but on the whole the orchestra was not at its best here. The piano forced the players farther back than usual, and the winds, sounding from the deep confines of the narrow Macky stage, were not always clear or well balanced.

Before intermission, Anderson and Roe appeared together again for two encores, giving them the opportunity to show why they are known as such charismatic players. In arrangements of Astor Piazzolla’s “Libertango” and Bernstein’s “Mambo” from West Side Story, they gave teasing, saucy performances that delighted the audience. It was sheer entertainment that did not sacrifice one iota of musicality.

After intermission, Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony started with a dramatic chord and impressive horn solo. A faster tempo was momentarily ragged, but as the performance picked up energy from movement to movement, it became more compelling. The finale, a perfect example of Tchaikovsky’s ability to build momentum and excitement, became a showcase for the brass and timpani. Butterman’s careful dynamic control gave great impact to the ending.

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This is an important season for the Boulder Philharmonic, and not just because of Butterman’s anniversary. In March the orchestra has been invited to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., one of four orchestras nationwide to be selected for the inaugural SHIFT Festival of American Orchestras. By then, the orchestra will have had plenty of time to coalesce and work out the little kinks from last night’s performance.

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Geraldine Walther and Edward Dusinberre

In the meantime, the remainder of the season here in Boulder is based on an intriguing notion: collaboration between musical pairs. Anderson and Roe were the first examples of that theme. Later concerts will feature Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola, played by Edward Dusinberre and Geraldine Walther of the Takacs Quartet (Nov. 6); Ethel Smyth’s Concerto for violin and horn, played by guests Jennifer Frautschi and Eric Ruske (Jan. 14); and the world premier of Stephen Goss’s Double Concerto for violin, guitar, strings and percussion, played by CU faculty Charles Wetherbee, who is also the Phil’s concertmaster, and Nicoló Spera (April 22).

Like last night’s concert, the programs for these and other concerts on the season range from the familiar to the exotic. You can see the full season listing on the Boulder Phil Web page. There is much to look forward to.

Boulder Phil announces 2016–17 Season

Concert for the Kennedy Center, duo concertos mark a year with few blockbusters

By Peter Alexander

The crowd at Macky Auditorium from the stage - Glenn Ross Photo

Boulder Phil in Macky Auditorium. Photo by Glenn Ross.

Forging its own path, the Boulder Philharmonic has announced a season for 2016–17 that is unlike most orchestra seasons around the country.

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Michael Butterman. Photo by Rene Palmer

For one thing, the season marks the Boulder Phil’s tenth year with music director Michael Butterman. Most orchestras would celebrate that with splashy programming, but the Phil is not taking that route. The one semi-splashy event—a concert March 25 that will be taken to the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. on March 28—offers an eclectic program that, characteristically for the Phil, reflects Boulder’s close relationship to nature.

Otherwise, the season avoids the blockbuster mentality. There will be world premieres, there will be concertos for pairs of soloists, there will be great local musicians from CU Boulder, there will be lighter symphonies from heavyweight composers, and there will be music from less familiar composers. What there will not be will be are the big-name soloists and spectacular works that most orchestras use to fill the hall.

There is no doubt Butterman’s style of programming has drawn audiences over the past ten years. According to figures provided by the Boulder Phil, they have had 10 successive seasons of increasing sales of subscriptions. The current year is up 25% over the previous season, already setting an attendance record for the orchestra even before the last two concerts of the 2015–16 season.

“Whatever we present, we want to make sure it makes some kind of statement that we’re not just another orchestra but something a little bit different and special,” Butterman says. “For the most part we want to be presenting things that are a little more unique, and not exactly replicating (programming) in other places.”

In that they have certainly succeeded. The season is filled with intriguing offerings, music that adventurous listeners will be excited about, and programs that do indeed reflect Boulder’s personality as a community.

The March 25 concert that will travel to the Kennedy Center follows that pattern. “The capstone to this anniversary season is taking this program that is about who we are and the relationship we have with the community and presenting it on a national stage,” Butterman says.

“This is saying to the (classical music) industry ‘Look, here’s how one orchestra has found a way to be successful, to reflect its community, to do all the things that we need to do to continue to matter in the 21st century.”

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Stephen Lias in Gates or the Arctic National Park. Photo courtesy of the composer.

The concert will open with the world premiere of a new work by adventurer-composer Stephen Lias, whose Gates of the Arctic opened the 2014–15 season. Commissioned in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and inspired by Rocky Mountain National Park, the new score will be accompanied by “choreographed visuals”—projected photos—of the park. Lias will be working on the score while in residence in the park later this year.

Writing from Tongyeong, South Korea, where he is attending the 2016 International Society for Contemporary Music World Music Days, Lias comments, “My plan is to create a dramatic line for the piece based on my many experiences in the park (including an upcoming one this June), and the extensive photographic collection the park has given me access to.

“I hope to write a piece that will capture the dramatic scope of the place, but also the intimate ‘moments’ that we each take home with us. Through the music and the synchronized images, audiences will have a vicarious wilderness experience that will deepen their relationship with this remarkable national park.”

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Frequent Flyers with the Boulder Phil in Macky Auditorium

Other works on the same program will be pieces that reflect the Boulder personality and the city’s relationship with nature. They are also pieces that form part of the orchestra’s history, having been performed in previous seasons: Jeff Midkiff’s Mandolin concerto From the Blue Ridge, with the composer as soloist, previously performed in April 2014; Ghosts of the Grasslands by Steve Heitzeg, performed in March 2014; and Copland’s Appalachian Spring with Boulder’s Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance company, a repeat of a performance from 2013.

As with many orchestras, Boulder Phil announces that “each concert will feature a major symphonic work,” but with the exception of Respighi’s Pines of Rome on the season’s final concert (April 22), they are not orchestral showpieces: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 2 (“Little Russian,” Oct. 8); Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 (Nov. 6); and Schumann’s Symphony No. 4 (Jan. 14). All are first performances by Butterman with the Phil, and all are welcome, but they are not works that most orchestras build seasons around.

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Takács Quartet members Geraldine Walther and Edward Dusinberre

There are other familiar works that have broad appeal, including Appalachian Spring (March 25). Rachmaninoff’s lyrical and virtuosic Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini played by pianist Elizabeth Joy Roe will be a draw for the opening concert (Oct. 8). Takács Quartet and CU faculty members Edward Dusinberre and Geraldine Walther will join the orchestra for Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola (Nov. 6).

Those familiar works will share the season with more adventurous programming, including the Concerto for Two Pianos by Francis Poulenc, performed by the young piano duo Anderson & Roe (Oct. 8); the Concerto for Violin and Horn by Ethel Smyth, performed by Jennifer Frautschi and Eric Ruske (Jan. 14); Luciano Berio’s classically-inflected Four Original Versions of Boccherini’s Return of the Nightwatch from Madrid and the world premiere of the Double Concerto for violin and guitar by Stephen Goss, performed by orchestra concertmaster Charles Wetherbee and CU professor Nicolò Spera (both April 22).

Butterman believes that the Boulder audience will continue to embrace the orchestra’s offbeat programming. “People have come to place a certain amount of faith in the choices we make,” he says. “They seem to be willing to trust that we’ll make choices (that) will be interesting and enjoyable and provocative.”

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Jake Shimabukuro

As usual, there will be performances outside the main series of classical concerts. The annual performances of Nutcracker with Boulder Ballet will be Nov. 25–27. There will be a concert Feb. 4 with ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, performing his own original music as well as unusual arrangements for ukulele and orchestra of classical, popular and contemporary music, from Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” to Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Alli Mauzey

Alli Mauzey

December 10 the orchestra will welcome Broadway singing star Alli Mauzey, who rose to fame as Glinda in Wicked, singing songs from that show and other Broadway shows. The program, titled “A Wicked Good Christmas,” will also feature music for the holidays.

“It’s a concert that I think will tread the line between being a holiday concert and a Broadway pops concert,” Butterman says. “It’s one that we hope will offer things for the community that are a little beyond what a typical classical audience might expect, and by virtue of that reach more of a family audience.”

 

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Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra
Michael Butterman, Music Director
2016-2017 Season

Saturday, Oct. 8: Opening Night
Poulenc: Concerto for Two Pianos, Anderson & Roe, piano duo
Rachmaninoff: Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, Elizabeth Joy Roe, piano
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 2 (“Little Russian”)

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Anderson & Roe. Photo by Woodrow Leung

Sunday, Nov. 6, 7 p.m.: Mozart & Beethoven
Thomas Adès: Three Studies from Couperin
Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola, with Edward Dusinberre, violin, and Geraldine Walther, viola
Beethoven: Symphony No. 8

Nov. 25–27: The Nutcracker with Boulder Ballet
Performance times tba

Saturday, Dec. 10: A Wicked Good Christmas, with Alli Mauzey
Songs from Wicked and other Broadway shows, plus Christmas classics

Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017: Brahms & His World
Brahms: Tragic Overture
Ethel Smyth: Concerto for Violin and Horn, with Jennifer Frautschi, violin, and Eric Ruske, horn
Schumann: Symphony No. 4

Saturday, Feb. 4: Jake Shimabukuro, ukulele, with the Boulder Phil
Gary Lewis, conductor

Saturday, March 25: Nature & Music—Kennedy Center Kick-Off Concert
Program to be repeated at the inaugural SHIFT Festival in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 28, 2017
Stephen Lias: World premiere commemorating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, with choreographed visuals
Jeff Midkiff: Mandolin Concerto, From the Blue Ridge, with Jeff Midkiff, mandolin
Steve Heitzeg: Ghosts of the Grasslands
Copland: Appalachian Spring, with Frequent Flyers® Aerial Dance

Saturday, April 22: Season Finale: The Pines of Rome
Stravinsky: Monumentum pro Gesualdo
Luciano Berio: Four Original Versions of Boccherini’s Return of the Nightwatch from Madrid
Stephen Goss: Double Concerto for Violin and Guitar (world premiere), with Charles Wetherbee, violin, and Nicolò Spera, guitar
Verdi: Overture to Nabucco
Puccini: The Chrysanthemums
Respighi: The Pines of Rome

All Concerts in Macky Auditorium
All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise indicated.

Tickets and More Information: Five- and six-concert subscription packages are now available. New subscribers save 50% off single ticket prices. Call 303-449-1343 or click here