‘Exploring Cultural Identities’: Mosaic or Melting Pot?

March 9 CU Faculty Tuesday performance takes a look at identity in music

By Izzy Fincher March 4 at 11:55 p.m.

Is our cultural identity more of a mosaic or a melting pot?

With a cultural mosaic, individuals retain their distinct ethnic identities, while coexisting as a greater whole. With a melting pot, ethnic identities mix together, assimilating to create a singular culture.

Alexandra Nguyễn

In “Exploring Cultural Identities,” three CU Boulder professors, pianist Alexandra Nguyen, violinist Claude Sim and cellist David Requiro, will tackle this dichotomy of cultural representation versus assimilation by exploring Asian and Slavic cultural identities in classical music. The program will include compositions by Zoltan Kodaly from Hungary, Alexina Louie from Canada and Antonín Dvořák from Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic).

“Exploring Cultural Identities” will be streamed on CU Presents at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 9, as part of CU Boulder’s Faculty Tuesday concert series.

“Presenting music through the lens of cultural identity is a fascinating exploration,” Sim says. “I believe that we truly play as we are. In other words, our artistry is a result of our diverse backgrounds, heritage and upbringing.”

Nguyen curated the program for “Exploring Cultural Identities” to pay tribute to her diverse heritage, later choosing her collaborators Sim and Requiro. As a Vietnamese Canadian, Nguyen often doesn’t see her identity reflected in the music she plays. 

“As an Asian woman, I am playing music by dead white men a majority of the time,” Nguyen says. “How can I relate to this music?”

To represent her own cultural identity, Nguyen has decided to champion Asian composers, particularly Louie, a Chinese Canadian. She feels very connected to Louie, who shares her Asian-Canadian heritage.

Alexina Louie

“In Canada, your heritage is a substantial part of your identity,” Nguyen says. “But in the U.S., the approach is very different. You want to blend in. No one wants to be the ‘other’.”

Nguyen will be playing Louie’s most famous work for solo piano, Scenes from a Jade Terrace, written in 1988, as the second piece on the program. The suite is filled with references to Chinese culture and folklore, while the harmonic language is colorful and complex, similar to contemporary composers George Crumb and Olivier Messiaen. 

David Requiro

Overall, the suite is aggressive in its texture and timbre. The first movement, “Warrior,” depicts the ghost of an ancient warrior and combines aggressive virtuosity with vulnerability. The second movement, ”Memories in an Ancient Garden,” feels eerily peaceful. Louie’s written direction on the score reflects this poetic, dreamy feeling, as she tells the performer “to play as if intoxicated by the scent of a thousand blossoms.” In the final movement, “Southern Sky,” the music depicts a dynamic starry night, as fast notes explode from the piano with sudden dynamic changes and intense dissonances. 

To complement Louie’s suite, Nguyen wanted to pivot toward exploring cultural identity through a European lens. She decided to program chamber music written by two Slavic composers, Kodaly and Dvořák, and to explore the role of Slavic nationalism in 19th and 20th century classical music. “Kodaly and Dvořák are two composers who felt strongly about their cultural identity and national heritage and (wanted to) reflect it in their music,” Nguyen says. 

Claude Sim

The program will begin with Nguyen and Requiro performing Kodaly’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 4, which incorporates harmonies and dance forms from Hungarian folk music. To finish the concert, Requiro and Sim join Nguyen for Dvořák’s Piano Trio No. 4, Op. 90, nicknamed the “Dumky.” The trio uses elements of Bohemian folk music. The six-movement work is a “dumka,” a form used by Slavic composers to indicate a brooding, contemplative lament interspersed with cheerful, rhythmic, dance-like moments.

For her next Faculty Tuesday concert, Nguyen aims to go even further with her exploration of cultural identities with an all-Asian program with Asian performers. She wants to represent distinct cultural mosaics in CU Boulder’s concert hall, as her personal contribution to more diversity and inclusivity in classical music.  

“If we want to represent all voices, then we have to perform all those voices,” Nguyen says. “If we want to respect all voices, then we have to hear them all.” 

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“Exploring Cultural Identities”
Alexandra Nguyen, piano; Claude Sim, violin; and David Requiro, cello 

Zoltan Kodaly: Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 4
Alexina Louie: Scenes from a Jade Terrace
Dvořák: Piano Trio No. 4, Op. 90 (“Dumky Trio”)

Streamed here at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 9 

Free or pay what you can.

Musical Adventures 3: American music, mostly from the mid-20th century

Pianist Andrew Cooperstock will feature music by George Walker

By Peter Alexander Feb. 1 at 5:05 p.m.

Andrew Cooperstock. Photo by Peter Schaaf.

Pianist Andrew Cooperstock is drawn to American music.

“I have enjoyed exploring 20th-century American music that speaks to me as an American and somebody born in the 20th century,” he says. “I’m interested in how composers express themselves. For Americans it’s especially interesting because there’s such a diversity of backgrounds.”

The CU music faculty member will explore some of the diverse voices in American music in this week’s online Faculty Tuesday recital (streamed starting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2). Anchoring the program is music by George Walker (1922-2018), the first African-American composer to win a Pulitzer Prize for classical music, who taught at CU in the 1960s.

Cooperstock became interested in Walker through his own piano teacher, who was a close friend and classmate of the composer. Walker taught at CU 1968–69, and his son, violinist/composer Gregory Walker, still lives and teaches violin in Boulder.

But Cooperstock had in mind more than a recital of Walker’s works. “I thought it might be nice to put his music into context with some other American composers who were writing around the [middle of the century],” he says. In addition to the three sets by Walker, Cooperstock’s program will include pieces of pure Americana by his contemporaries Aaron Copland and Samuel Barber. 

And just because he likes to play them there will be two pierces written in 2003, two Improvisations on Hassidic Melodies by Paul Schoenfield.

Cooperstock made it a point to play Walker’s most approachable works. “I choose his early music,” he says. “His music from that period is beautiful and lyrical and lush, but still with some modern twists.”

George Walker

The program opens with Walker’s “Variations on a Kentucky Folk Song,” a movement from his First Piano Sonata that has been published and played separately. The original song, “O Bury Me Beneath the Old Willow Tree,” has a long history in American folk music.

“I love what George Walker does with this piece,” Cooperstock says. “The theme’s a beautiful arrangement, and then he writes six short variations that are imaginative and exuberant. I really enjoy playing them.”

The centerpiece of the recital will be Walker’s Second Piano Sonata, written in 1956. “It’s virtuosic and it’s difficult, but it’s also lyrical and attractive at the same time,” Cooperstock says. He also notes that the music is especially virtuosic in recordings by the composer. “He does play his music so fast!”

Closing the program will be two short, contrasting pieces by Walker, a lyrical Prelude that he wrote for his own New York debut recital in 1945, and a more energetic Caprice that was one of his first efforts as a composition student in 1941. ”They’re short pieces,” Cooperstock says. “I thought that would be a nice ending.”

Barber‘s four-movement Excursions for piano is a kind of musical Cook’s Tour through various American musical idioms. “The first movement is a boogie-woogie with a walking bass, and the second movement is a blues,” Cooperstock explains. 

The third movement, which starts with a dreamy recall of the cowboy song “The Streets of Laredo,” is the hardest of the set. “It’s got very complicated rhythms, but you won’t hear that in the performance because it sounds improvised,” Cooperstock says. ”And then the whole piece ends with a square dance. Those are a lot of fun!”

Copland is represented on the program by two pieces. The first is a piano arrangement of music he wrote for the film Our Town. “I just love these pieces,” Cooperstock says. “They’re beautiful and calming. There’s this sense of old-fashioned simplicity and security. One of my students is playing the piece, and I thought, ‘I want to play this, too.’”

Cooperstock admits that the other Copland piece is less cozy. “I paired [Our Town] with a thorny work, because I thought we needed the other side of Copland,” he says. “[Night Thoughts] has some dissonances, but Copland was a very lyrical composer. Even in the middle of all this, some beautiful melody comes through.”

Paul Schoenfield

The final pieces added to the program came out of an experience Cooperstock had during the pandemic of playing for the daily meditation at the Jewish Community Center. For that, he picked two from a set of Six Improvisations on Hasidic Melodies by Paul Schoenfield. “I thought these Hasidic melodies would be perfect, and I picked two that were slower and lyrical and dreamy,” he says.

Cooperstock embraces the fact that he has programmed music that will not be familiar to his audience. “What it comes down to,” he says, “if somebody will be attracted to tune in to the program, that the music is good and it speaks to the audience, maybe they’ll try something new.”

He sees 2020 as a turning point, with the attention that has been directed to Walker and other composers of color. “I’m glad that composers who we didn’t know before are coming to light. This is a good time to be exploring different kinds of literature, and I hope that the trend will stay with us.”

Above all, he hopes his playing will reach people who have been dealing with so much in the past year. “I’ve thought a lot about the purpose of music, especially this year, and how music can bring us comfort,” he says. 

“Maybe this program can do that in some way.”

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Faculty Tuesday: “George Walker, Underneath the Willow Tree”
Andrew Cooperstock, piano

George Walker: Variations on a Kentucky Folk Song (“O Bury Me Beneath the Willow Tree”), from Piano Sonata No. 1
Samuel Barber: Excursions
Paul Schoenfield: “Achat Sha’alti” “and “Nigun” from Six Improvisations on Hassidic Melodies
George Walker: Piano Sonata No. 2 
Aaron Copland: Three Excerpts from Our Town
Aaron Copland: Night Thoughts (Homage to Ives)
George Walker: Prelude and Caprice 

Streamed HERE and HERE at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 2
Free or pay what you can

TO LEARN MORE about George Walker, watch this interview from PBS’ “State of the Arts.”

Musical Adventures 2: David Korevaar’s Faculty Tuesday

Jan. 26 recital includes works by Frescobaldi, CPE Bach and Margaret Bonds

By Peter Alexander Jan. 25 at 4:25 p.m

David Korevaar is an adventurous pianist.

“I’ve always been interested in music that’s off the beaten track,” he says. And the shutdown from the COVID pandemic has given him an opportunity to do more music off the beaten track than ever. “This has been an amazing experience, quickly learning a lot of repertoire,” he says.

David Korevaar off the beaten track

His latest explorations will be revealed Tuesday on Korevaar’s latest online CU Faculty Tuesday recital (Jan. 26, livestream at 7:30 p.m.). Titled “Variations Fantastiques,” the program brings together composers that are not on the well worn path: 17th-century Italian composer Girolamo Frescobaldi; J.S. Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel; Clara Schumann, the wife or Robert; and African-American composer Margaret Bonds.

Two other works are from more familiar composers: a Rondo by Mozart, and the Symphonic Etudes by Robert Schumann. “The Schumann Symphonic Etudes is the only thing on this program I had played before, and it’s been a long, long time,” Korevaar says. “That was a major act of resuscitation of a very difficult piece.”

Translation: Korevaar put a lot of work into this recital. 

David Korevaar at the piano (but still off the beaten track)

The opening piece gets right to the variations idea, Frescobaldi’s Partite sopra l’Aria della Romanesca—a set of variations over a standard Renaissance bass line known as Romanesca. Many composers wrote pieces based on the Romanesca bass, but don’t be embarrassed if you have not heard them before, unless you pay unusually close attention to the music played in church.

“Frescobaldi is not often played, period,” Korevaar says. “Organists play his music, and harpsichordists do. Frescobaldi was a native of the keyboard, he understood how to put notes together on a keyboard with hands.”

Frescobaldi’s music comes out of his experience improvising. “All of his toccatas and the variation sets represent a kind of frozen improvisation,” Korevaar says. “It’s fascinating— he manages to combine the traditions of renaissance vocal writing with keyboard improvisation. He transfers the kind of affective language of the Renaissance madrigal to this keyboard medium.”

The next work on the program, C.P.E. Bach’s Rondo in G Major, grows from the same soil as Frescobaldi’s Partite. “When C.P.E. Bach writes for keyboard, he’s writing again as an improvisor,” Korevaar says. “These rondos are particularly peculiar. This one has always fascinated me, because while there is a larger-scale structure, it works in four-bar bits that keep repeating the same material in various embellishments and modulations. And it’s like early Beethoven in the use of silence.”

Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes does not resemble traditional variation sets. “[Schumann] does say it’s etudes in the form of variations, but you’ve got to search a little bit,” Korevaar says. “Every now and then he’ll throw in the head motive to remind you where he started, but several have little to do with the theme. This is typical of Schumann’s transformative techniques.”

The piece actually began as an explicit set of variations on a theme by a friend of the Schumann family, plus a Finale that may be based on an entirely different theme from an opera by Heinrich Marschner. It is this original version of a later much-revised work that Korevaar will perform.

Clara Schumann. Daguerrotype by Franz Hanfstaengl (1854)

Even in that form, not all the etudes are related to the theme. Schuman’s approach is more one of transformation, as Korevaar says, than variation. At least three do not include the theme at all. “Thinking about it as variations, you realize how loose [Schumann] is with that term,” Korevaar says.

Both Clara Schumann and Brahms wrote a set of variations on the same theme by Robert Schumann. Both sets were published together in 1854, after Robert had been confined to a mental asylum. In both sets, Clara’s and Brahms’s, the variations on the theme are clearly delineated.

“It’s a remarkable piece because it’s a fully mature composition by a fully mature composer, with her own voice,” Korevaar says. “We forget that. We say, ‘Oh, she’s a woman who clearly did not get the opportunities.’ She played this piece throughout her career.

“It’s pianistically not friendly—she must have had a phenomenal technique! It’s a remarkable piece. This is a composer who was very much influenced by Robert Schumann, influenced by Chopin, influenced by Mendelssohn, and she has her own brand of virtuosity.”

Margaret Bonds

Bonds’s Spiritual Suite comprises three movements, each derived from a spiritual or traditional African-American song, each a set of variations or embellishments of the theme. Korevaar compares the middle movement, based on “Peter Go Ring them Bells,” to a Bach chorale prelude. “She introduces this descant first before we get the tune. It’s quite fun what she does: nesting in the middle of it is this wonderful waltz. It’s a wonderful piece.

The third movement, “Troubled Water,” has been published separately and is performed more often that the other two. The recent interest in African-American composers this year has resulted in the whole suite being played more, Korevaar says. “A lot of people have started taking it on, which is nice. It’s a good piece. It deserves to be played and heard.”

Korevaar enjoyed building a program with so many pieces that are new to him and likely to his audience. “I had more fun putting this program together than I’ve had in a long time,” he says. 

“It’s liberating to do stuff that I don’t know!”

# # # # #

“Variations Fantastiques”
David Korevaar, piano

Girolamo Frescobaldi: Partite sopra l’Aria della Romanesca
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Rondo in G Major
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Rondo in A minor, K511
Robert Schumann: Symphonic Etudes
Clara Schumann: Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann
Margaret Bonds: Spiritual Suite

Streamed here or here at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26

Free or pay what you can

CORRECTION: One quote by David Korevaar corrected 1.25 to state that we think of Clara Schumann as “a woman who clearly did not get the opportunities.” The original post omitted the word “not.”

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.”

# # # # #

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 

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See all remaining Faculty Tuesday performances here.

Grace Notes: Brief news items from the classical music scene in Boulder

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By Peter Alexander Aug. 20 at 9:45 p.m.

Boulder Chamber Orchestra hires executive director—The Board of Directors of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra announced earlier this summer that Courtney Huffman has been appointed as the organization’s executive director.

The executive director’s responsibilities had been handled by Bahman Saless, founder and artistic director of the BCO. After 14 years, he is now ready to leave administrative duties to Huffman in order to focus on the music.

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Courtney Huffman

“I have loved and cherished very moment and I am ready to take a step back and lighten the administrative load knowing that the orchestra is in good hands,” he said in a news release.

Huffman first joined the BCO organization three years ago as managing director. She had left in 2017 to work for an educational non-profit organization in Denver, but returned to Boulder when offered the position with the BCO.

“I am beyond excited to be returning to Boulder to lead the orchestra,” she said in the BCO’s news release. “I have loved classical music since I was a little girl, and this organization feels like home to me. I am honored to be able to ring in the orchestra’s 15thseason.”

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MahlerFest also hires an executive director—Colorado MahlerFest recently hired its first executive director.

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Ethan Hecht

In a decision announced in July, MahlerFest hired Ethan Hecht as executive director after 31 seasons of performances. MahlerFest’s announcement notes that the festival has grown since the 2015 hiring of Kenneth Woods as the its second artistic director. The festival has added both workshops and a masterclass for young conductors, and introduced “festival artists” who are featured both in the MahlerFest orchestra and in chamber music performances during the festival.

According to the announcement from the festival, “the board looked to expand the administrative operations of the festival.” Hecht has performed at MahlerFest as the orchestra’s principal violist, and he has extensive administrative experience with Colorado Music Festival and Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra. He is currently executive director of the Boulder Chorale.

MahlerFest board president David Auerbach was quoted in the announcement of Hecht’s appointment: “This is a major investment in the future of the festival . . .We are very excited [Hecht] has joined the team.”

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Pro Music Colorado announces 2018–19 season—The Pro Musical Colorado Chamber Orchestra has announced their 2018–19 season, titled “Classical Evolution!”

Photography by Glenn Ross. http://on.fb.me/16KNsgK

Cynthia Katsarelis

The central performance and likely audience favorite of the season will be Handel’s Messiah, to be presented Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 and 2, at Mountain View United Methodist Church, 355 Ponca Place in Boulder. The performance under conductor Cynthia Katsarelis will feature guests soloists to be announced later and the Boulder Chamber Chorale with artistic director Vicki Burrichter.

Mountain View Methodist, which has ample on-site parking, has become the orchestra’s home base in Boulder. All three of the season’s programs will be presented there. In addition, their September concert will be performed in Denver at Central Presbyterian Church, and the season-closing concert in February will be performed at the First Baptist Church of Denver and at the Stewart Auditorium in Longmont.

Here is the full 2018-19 season of Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra:

“Women Among Men”
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, Central Presbyterian Church, Denver
2 pm. Sunday, Sept. 23, Mountain View Methodist Church, Boulder
Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with Yumi Hwang-Williams, violin, and Amanda Balestrieri, soprano

Wolfgang A. Mozart: Serenade No. 6 for Orchestra in D major K. 239, Serenata notturna
Grazyna Bacewicz: Concerto for String Orchestra
Franz Joseph Haydn: Violin Concerto in C Major
Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Schätzbarkeit der weiten Erde (The treasure of the world), aria from Cantata 204

Handel’s Messiah
Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with the Boulder Chamber Chorale, Vicki Burrichter, conductor, and soloists tba.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, Mountain View Presbyterian Church, Boulder
3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, Mountain View Presbyterian Church, Boulder

“21st-Century Style”
Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with Jory Vinikour, harpsichord
7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, First Baptist Church of Denver
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, Mountain View Methodist Church, Boulder
2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, Stewart Auditorium, Longmont

Max Wolpert: Harpsichord Concerto No. 1, “Baroque in Mirror” (World Premiere)
Philip Glass: Concerto for Harpsichord and Chamber Orchestra
Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 22 (“The Philosopher”)

More information and tickets here.

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CU Faculty Tuesdays start Aug. 28—The CU College of Music’s “Faculty Tuesdays” series starts next week, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28, in Grusin Hall of the Imig Music Building.

The first of the fall series of faculty recitals at CU will feature violinist Charles Wetherbee and pianist David Korevaar, performing three works: the Sonata for Violin and Piano in B minor of Ottorino Respighi; the Poeme op. 25 by Ernest Chausson; and one of the great masterpieces of violin repertoire, Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A major op. 47, known as the “Kreutzer” Sonata.

You may check the full fall schedule for “Faculty Tuesdays” on the College of Music Web page. Note also that if you cannot make the trip to the CU campus for any of the performances, they are live-streamed every week through this Web page.

 

 

LIVESTREAM: You can see Jake Heggie’s opera that was workshopped at CU

It’s a Wonderful Life available Friday–Saturday, Nov. 10–11, from Indiana University

By Peter Alexander

It’s a Wonderful Life, the opera by Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer based on the beloved film of the same title, was workshopped in Boulder as part of the CU New Opera Workshop (CU NOW) in June, 2016. The world premiere followed at the Houston Grand Opera.

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CU NOW workshop of Jake Heggie’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” June 2016. Heggie is at the far right, in blue. Photo by Peter Alexander

Now Boulder audiences will be able to see that original production, in a revised version of the score, through livestreaming from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. Performances will be available live at 5:30 p.m. Mountain Time (7:30 p.m. EST), Friday and Saturday, Nov. 10 and 11. The performances will be streamed from the Musical Arts Center on the IU campus in Bloomington.

All live streams and archived performances from the Jacobs School of Music are available here.

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Houston Grand Opera production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Photo by Brian Mitchell.

It’s a Wonderful Life was commissioned by Houston Grand Opera, with the Jacobs School of Music and the San Francisco Opera, all of whom will share the original production. The world premiere was in Houston Dec. 2, 2016. Indiana performances will be Nov. 10, 11, 16 and 17, with the first two streamed live.

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Jake Heggie (left) with librettist Gene Scheer. Photo by Brian Mitchell.

The San Francisco Opera will present It’s a Wonderful Life during the 2018–19 season. After that, the next scheduled performances, and the first new production will be presented in Boulder by the CU Eklund Opera program in 2019.

Since the Houston opening, Heggie and Scheer have made a number of revisions to the opera. Heggie is currently in Bloomington observing rehearsals, to make sure that the changes work well on stage.

“The spots where it needed revision seemed very clear to me and to Gene, once we saw the production [in Houston],” Heggie says. “We cut a lot of material but we also rewrote, and I added new material where it was needed.”

Compared to the version performed in Houston and the workshop performances in Boulder, there are some major changes. “The whole prologue is cut way down so we get right into the story,” Heggie says. “We’ve tightened things up to make sure that we’re always telling the story.”

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Houston Grand Opera production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Photo by Brian Mitchell.

Heggie has also written some new material. “I expanded two arias, one for George and one for Mary in Act I that really help them open their hearts, and then I’ve added a beautiful—I think—duet between Mary Bailey and Claire the angel in Act II,” he says.

While Heggie has made revisions in earlier operas, he says these are the most extensive changes he’s ever made. “We cut an entire character—Mr. Gower, the pharmacist,” he explains. “We realized that we actually didn’t miss anything. We got all of the information we needed elsewhere, and the thing is that in opera you’ve got to move things along so that there’s time for the music to tell the story.”

The result of all these changes is that the opera has been tightened to a total running time of less than two hours. Heggie expects that these will be the last changes he will make, meaning that the version livestreamed from Bloomington will be the same for both San Francisco and the CU production. “My hope is that we’re really set after IU, and that we don’t have to do any more tinkering or trimming,” he says.

Indiana University’s other performances online

The Jacobs School of Music livestreaming site is a broad resource for classical music audiences, and especially opera fans. The school has a long and distinguished history of high-quality opera productions and other performances, dating back more than 50 years. Past opera productions and concert performances of both classical music and jazz from the Jacobs School of Music are available on demand.

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The Musical Arts Center at Indiana University, the venue for the Jacobs School of Music Opera Theater performances.

All but the very oldest of the archived opera streams include subtitles throughout. According to Philip Ponella, the Leonard Phillips and Mary Wennerstrom Director of the William and Gayle Cook Music Library at IU and director of Music Information Technology for the Jacobs School of Music, performances are generally archived if copyright restrictions allow, and left on the site for as long as practical. The project is still being developed, and policies may change.

The current site has performances archived, available on demand, from the past eight seasons. Opera performances on the site include standard repertoire, including Don Giovanni, Carmen and La Bohéme; less familiar rarities including Puccini’s La Rondine and L’Étoile by Emmanuel Chabrier; new works including The Tale of Lady Th Kính by P.Q. Phan; and several operas by Handel.

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Philip Ponella

Ponella says that it is important for the school to provide public access to their performances, and they encourage access to their streams from around the country. “First of all, many of us are concerned about the future of classical music and opera and the kind of things that we do here,” Ponella says. “One thing [Jacobs School of Music] Dean Gwyn Richards says that resonates with many of us is, how can we be more relevant to more people.

“The other part is, we like to think that this is one of the best music schools in the United States, and when you’re not located in New York or Boston or Los Angeles, sometimes that’s a hard sell. This gives us the opportunity to walk the walk, and not just say this is a really great school.”

Ponella points out that the livestreamed performances also include a pre-performance presentation given by a musicology Ph.D. student in the school, presented 30 minutes before the livestream is scheduled to start. “As Dean Richards says, whenever we can, we show that we’re not just about performance but our academics are of equal quality. And the fact that we stream at this high level of quality points to the kind of institutional resources that we’re drawing upon as well.

“We’ve got a very large pipe out to the internet that many institutions don’t have access to, and (we have a) recording arts program and audio engineers.”

Classical Music Livestreamed from Indiana, Boulder, and around the World

IU is only one source of livestreamed performances available from around the world. In addition to the performances from the Jacobs School of Music, in Boulder faculty Tuesdays and other performances from the CU College of Music are available online.

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Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

Opera is available from many different sources, mostly by subscription but with occasional free performances. Livestreaming from individual companies include the Metropolitan Opera, The Vienna State Opera, and the Bavarian State Opera in Munich . There are also sites that bring operas from many different companies, such as OperaVision with productions from several European countries. A careful Google search will turn up other sites.

With so many different sources of performances that you can watch live from home, wearing your PJs and enjoying a bowl of popcorn or a glass of wine, for the classical music lover it really can be a wonderful life.

I’ll meet you at the computer!

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Houston Grand Opera production of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Photo by Brian Mitchell.

CU Faculty Tuesdays, free and live-streamed, offer a fascinating potpourri of repertoire

With several performances on the calendar, pianist David Korevaar’s plate is full

By Peter Alexander

The summer has ended and fall has arrived.

It may not seem like it when it reaches 90°, but you can be certain. Not only is it Labor Day Weekend, the official end of summer, but the fall music has season has, in fact, already begun. The first of the CU College of Music Faculty Tuesday concerts was already last week, when pianist David Korevaar and violinist Harumi Rhodes played a program of sonatas for violin and piano by Beethoven, Janáček and Schumann.

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Grusin Hall, home of “Faculty Tuesdays”

That series continues tomorrow, Tuesday, Sept. 5, with a Faculty Tuesday debut by baritone Andrew Garland performing a program titled “The Quest” with pianist Jeremy Reger. Future Faculty Tuesday events, listed here, will feature guests from the Cleveland Orchestra Sept. 12, Korevaar and violist Geraldine Walther performing “Chopin on the Viola” Sept. 26, and a fascinating potpourri of other topics and programs through the fall.

The Faculty Tuesday concerts are all at 7:30 in Grusin Music Hall, and all are free. Even better, you can watch from home and avoid the parking free-for-all around campus: the College of Music will provide live streaming of these events, available through the “CU Presents” button on the Faculty Tuesdays Web page listing of each event.

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Pianist David Korenaar, Helen and Peter Weir Professor of Piano at CU, Boulder

None of the music faculty will be busier this fall than Korevaar, who shows up on four more Faculty Tuesdays in addition to his series-opening recital with Rhodes last week: “Chopin on the Viola” with Walther Sept. 26; “Finnish Celebration” with eight other faculty members Oct. 24; “Schubert and More” with violinist Charles Wetherbee Oct. 31; and “Signs Games+Messages” with Rhodes, Walther and cellist David Requiro Nov. 28.

Not letting any grass grow under his feet or on his keyboard, Korevaar also inaugurates the new CU@The Dairy series at the Dairy Arts Center on Thursday, Sept. 7, playing and conducting two of Mozart’s piano concertos. And as if that weren’t enough, he will be performing Beethoven’s Fantasy for Piano, Chorus and Orchestra, op. 80, with the Boulder Philharmonic at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14 in Macky Auditorium (tickets here).

“Yeah, there’s a lot on the plate,” Korevaar admits.

Thursday’s concert at the Diary, titled “Miraculous Mozart,” will feature two of Mozart’s piano concertos, K449 in E-flat major and K450 in B-flat major. They were both written in the same year, 1784, and of the two Korevaar identifies the second as the more difficult. “Mozart wrote a letter to his father,” he says, “and he said [K450] is the hardest thing he’s ever written. I might not disagree—it’s a tough piece, so obviously virtuoso.”

You will be able to read more about Korevaar, the Mozart concertos, and CU@The Dairy on this Web page and in the next issue of Boulder Weekly on Thursday, Sept. 7.