Zeitouni returns, bringing Romantic music, verve and excitement

Michelle DeYoung combines mezzo heft with soaring soprano

By Peter Alexander July 20 at 1 a.m.

Last night (July 19) Jean-Marie Zeitouni returned to the Colorado Music Festival, conducting a concert that had the same verve and excitement that marked so many of his performances when he was the music director.

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Michelle DeYoung

Joining Zeitouni and the Festival Orchestra on the first half of the concert was mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, this year’s SeiSolo artist-in-residence at CMF, who contributed a powerful soprano—going well above the usual mezzo range—to a performance of the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

Noted for a wide vocal range that opens the door to dramatic soprano roles as well as the deeper mezzo roles, DeYoung has earned a reputation as an outstanding Wagnerian singer. Onstage she has sung roles including Venus in Tannhäuser, Kundry in Parsifal and Brangäne in Tristan, among many others, and she often sings the heroic soprano excerpts including the Liebestod and Brunnhilde’s Immolation Scene from Gotterdämmerung in concert.

Her performance of the Liebestod had a Wagnerian heft as well as shimmering high notes—in effect, a mezzo sound in the lower range and a bright soprano sound up high. She could always be heard, even the middle of a massive orchestral texture. It was a performance few could match.

Zeitouni drew carefully controlled phrases and carefully shaped surges from the orchestra in the Prelude. Apart from imperfectly blended wind sounds once or twice, this was a consistently first-rate performance.

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Jean-Marie Zeitouni

After Wagner, Zeitouni turned and addressed “my beloved CMF audience,” adding a touching personal note to the evening. He introduced composer Timothy Collins, whose song cycle Buch des Sängers (The singer’s book), written for DeYoung, received its world premiere next on the concert.

The vocal lines of Buch des Sängers fall squarely in DeYoung’s mezzo range, with only a few excursions into a higher, brighter range. The first song, “Loveliness,” is indeed as lovely as anything you will hear, with beautiful vocal lines cushioned in a warm blanket of orchestral sound.

That description could apply to most of the rest of the cycle, however. The orchestral sounds are consistently warm and flowing, almost always at a moderate tempo, with added sparkle from percussion and harp to provide highlights. It is all very pleasant, very welcoming to the audience, but greater variety of sound and tempo would command closer attention.

Nevertheless, there is much to enjoy in Buch des Sängers, and DeYoung sang with a radiant conviction. This is music that audiences can embrace without difficulty. It is not hard to predict that other singers will want to take up this cycle, and that it will have many future performances.

The second half of the concert was devoted to an explosive and spectacular performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s most brilliant orchestral showpiece, Scheherazade. This is a piece that can display the best of any orchestra, and the CMF orchestra did not disappoint.

Never afraid of dramatic gestures, Zeitouni started the performance with a powerful call to attention, reminding us that the story the music is going to tell comes from the Arabian Nights. “Now we begin!” the lower voices declaim. This was immediately followed by one of many violin solos representing Scheherazade herself, played with a beautifully sweet sound and expressive rhythmic freedom by concertmaster Calin Lupanu.

In fact, the score is filled with individual instrumental solos, and one of the pleasures of the performance was hearing so many individual members of the orchestra have the opportunity to shine. In addition to Lupanu, there were solos for cello, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, horn, trumpet, trombone, harp—did I miss anyone?—all played with relish and artistry. Every one was a joy to hear.

The final movement was taken at a breakneck pace, about as fast as some parts can be played. It was almost all clean and clear, in spite of the speed, bringing the concert to a rousing close. Played with gusto, such Romantic warhorses can be great fun, and this one certainly was.

Scheherazade will be repeated tonight (July 20) at 6:30 as part of a “Fresh Fridays’ program. Zeitouni will also conduct the CMF Chamber Orchestra on Saturday in a program of Ravel and Beethoven. Purchase tickets here.

 

 

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Jean-Marie Zeitouni and Michelle DeYoung return to CMF

Performances include world premieres, iconic masterpieces

By Peter Alexander July 19 at 10:42 a.m.

Jean-Marie Zeitouni is back in town and he feels like a new man.

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Jean-Marie Zeitouni

Currently principal guest conductor of the Colorado Music Festival, Zeitouni was the CMF’s music director through the end of last summer. He is here for the current week, conducting concerts tonight and Sunday (July 19 and 22). Over the past year he has had surgery to reconstruct some joints, and says “I have much more energy and much less pain.”

Although he took time off for the surgeries, Zeitouni had a very good year professionally. “I did a lot of European conducting,” he says. “I managed to spend four months in Europe doing three opera productions, all French operas. I did squeeze in a tour in Brazil with my chamber orchestra, and guest conducting engagements throughout North America.”

Also coming back to CMF is mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, who grew up in Colorado and sang at CMF last year. This year she is the SeiSolo Artist-in-Residence at the festival, which includes teaching a masterclass and three performances over eleven days.

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Michelle DeYoung

In that short span, she will perform two of the iconic masterpieces of the soprano and mezzo-soprano repertoires—her range is so great that she sings both—the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and the Abschied movement from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. As if that weren’t enough, she will also present two world premieres of music written for her by Australian composer Timothy Collins.

That all gets underway at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the Chautauqua Auditorium, when Zeitouni, DeYoung and the CMF Festival Orchestra will collaborate on a program that features the Wagner, the premiere of Collins’s Buch des Sängers (The singer’s book), and one of the great orchestral showpieces, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade.

The program is built around the premiere. Collins and DeYoung have sung together, and he had written songs for her in the past. She asked him to write the orchestral pieces for her, asking that he find texts that had not been set before. His search led him to Goethe’s last poetry, contained in a large set of volumes known as the West-östlicher Divan (roughly translated as the West-Eastern Poetry Collection), which was inspired by translations of the 14th-century Persian poet Hafez. Goethe’s monumental collection actually comprises 12 books of poems, the first of which is titled Buch des Sängers. Collins set five of the poems from that volume.

All participants agree that the premiere is a special occasion. “I feel very lucky to partake in the creation of something that is so intimately connected with the performer,” Zeitouni says. “Usually, we try to fit the (performer to the) written music, but now the written music fits the performer. It’s like a glove around her voice. It fits her perfectly.

“It’s rare that we participate in this process, and I’m really honored.”

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Composer Timothy Collins

Collins feels both honored and challenged. “It’s a big responsibility, as well as a huge honor,” he says. “How many composers are asked to write for a Grammy Award-winning mezzo soprano? I just have to think a very great deal about trying to get it right for her voice to showcase what’s so unique about it.

“It’s not just any mezzo-soprano voice, because she has extra high notes, she has particular colors in certain parts of her voice. I just have to think a very great deal about trying to get it right for her voice to showcase what’s so unique about it.”

DeYoung returns the compliments. “He knows what the strengths and weaknesses of my voice are, so when he writes for me it really suits my voice—he highlights what I think is good about my voice. (The songs) are so beautiful that it’s an honor to sing them and to create them.”

Zeitouni wanted to build a program around the premier that would fit the occasion. Because she is known for singing Wagnerian roles, he thought there should be some Wagner in the program, and she had sung the Liebestod before. Then he added Scheherazade because it compliments the Goethe texts as another example of Eastern literature, the 1001 Nights, filtered through Western ears.

For Sunday’s concert with the Chamber Orchestra, Zeitouni says he wanted “to do a concert that is all orchestra, because I want the orchestra to be the gem. Basically we chose Mother Goose, the ballet, not the suite so it’s little longer, it’s a bit more developed, and (Beethoven’s) Eroica (Symphony).

The Beethoven of course is well known to the orchestral players and classical audiences alike, but Zeitouni says it is easy to make it new. “Each time I get a new score, I get fresh ideas, I imagine the people coming and hearing this the first time. How can we get tired of playing this?

“I’m not very old, but I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I’ve done it almost every year. I’m still looking forward (to it) in the calendar. And I’m looking forward so much to do it here.”

De Young’s masterclass will be open to the public, at 2 p.m. Saturday (July 21) in the Center for Musical Arts in Lafayette. She travels too much to have her own roster of students, but she often gives masterclasses. “I’m from Colorado, so it’s exciting to me,” she says of her role as SeiSolo Artist in Residence at the festival. “It’s a huge honor. If I can do anything to help or be involved, I want to do that.”

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Michelle DeYoung

The other premiere she will present will be part of her song recital the following Saturday (July 28) with pianist Cody Garrison from Denver. In addition to art songs by Brahms, Strauss and Barber, she will sing Collins’s Love’s Crusade, another piece that was written for her.

Love’s Crusade is a cycle of four songs, all taken from very different sources from Shakespeare to Collins’s own texts. “When I put these four songs together, it seemed that there was a common underlying theme of love, the struggle to protect love, and eternal love, so that’s where the title Love’s Crusade came from.

One song in particular Collins included because it fits DeYoung’s image as a Wagnerian soprano. Titled “Warrior Queen,” it tells of a Viking queen who leads the army to protect her husband’s realm. “I loved to present that role (of the) heroic woman who will lead the troops and that she’s the hero.

“I’m very excited to hear this for the first time in the flesh. They’re all very different.”

“That’s one thing that’s very interesting about his compositions,” DeYoung says. “In that cycle especially all four are so different. I always call him a melodist, because he writes such incredible melodies, and writes for (each individual) poem.”

DeYoung will finish her CMF residence fittingly, with the final movement of Mahler’s great song cycle Das Lied von der Erde. Titled Abschied (Farewell), this is one of the great pieces written for mezzo-soprano. That performance will be on a program with conductor Peter Oundjian and the CMF chamber orchestra at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29.

# # # # #

Colorado Music Festival
Events with Jean-Mari Zeitouni, conductor, and
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano, SeiSolo Artist in Residence
July 19–29
All concerts in the Chautauqua Auditorium

Scheherazade
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano

Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Timothy Collins: Buch des Sängers (world premiere)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

Fresh Fridays: Scheherazade
6:30 p.m. Friday, July 20
Conductor: Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Borodin: In the Steppes of Central Asia
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
(Played without intermission)

Vocal Masterclass
2 p.m. Saturday ,July 21
Center for Musical Arts, 200 East Baseline Road, Lafayette
Mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung
Free and open to the public

Beethoven’s “Eroica”
7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Ravel: Mother Goose (full ballet)
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”)

A Poetic Evening
7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano, and Cody Garrison, piano

Timothy Collins: Love’s Crusade (World Premiere)
Music by Brahms, Strauss and Barber

Made in America
7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano

Joan Tower: Made in America
Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite
Maher: Abschied from Das Lied von der Erde

Tickets
Full CMF calendar

 

CMF artistic advisor Peter Oundjian will lead concerts with Bernstein theme

Principal guest conductor Jean-Marie Zeitouni returns for the festival’s fourth week

By Peter Alexander July 12 at 12:25 p.m.

Peter Oundjian is the most distinguished musician to lead the Colorado Music Festival (CMF) in its 43 seasons.

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Peter Oundjian. Photo by Jaime Hogge.

Since Jean-Marie Zeitouni stepped down as music director at the end of last season, Oundjian — former first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet and just-retired as music director of the Toronto Symphony and Royal Scottish National Orchestra — has been artistic advisor to the festival. This year he will conduct three weeks of orchestral concerts, starting the weekend of July 12–15.

Zeitouni, now CMF’s principal guest conductor, will lead the orchestral concerts the following week. Oundjian will return for the final two weeks, July 26–Aug. 4.

For his concerts, Oundjian has established a theme: “It’s all Bernstein-inspired,” he says, in honor of the 2018 centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s birth. That means “things that influenced Bernstein, things Bernstein loved, things he was famous for, and by extension, music written on American soil.”

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Colorado Music Festival
July 12–July 22
All performances at Chautauqua Auditorium

Two Peak Performances
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12, and Friday, July 13
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Yefim Bronfman, piano

Leonard Bernstein: Overture to Candide
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances, op. 45 

Octets at Altitude
7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14
Chamber Music with CMF Chamber Players

Stravinsky: Octet for Wind Instruments
Prokofiev: Two Pieces for String Octet
Mendelssohn: String Octet, op. 20

All-American
7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Robert McDuffie, violin

Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite
Barber: Adagio for Strings
Philip Glass: Concerto No. 2 for Violin, “American Four Seasons”

Scheherazade
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano

Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Timothy Collins: Buch des Sängers (world premiere)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

Fresh Fridays: Scheherazade
6:30 p.m. Friday, July 20
Conductor: Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Borodin: In the Steppes of Central Asia
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
(Played without intermission)

American Strings
7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 21
Chamber Music with CMF Chamber Players

Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 2 (“Company”)
Barber: String Quartet
Dvořák: String Quartet No. 12, op. 96 (“American”)

Beethoven’s “Eroica”
7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Ravel: Mother Goose
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”)

Full calendar

Tickets

Guest conductors launch 2018 Colorado Music Festival

Violinists Gluzman and Quint, pianists Weiss and Martinez will be early soloists at CMF

By Peter Alexander June 28 at 12 noon

CMF Orch.by Eric Berlin

Chautauqua Auditorium during a CMF orchestra concert. Photo by Eric Berlin.

The Colorado Music Festival, facing another year without a permanent music director, opens with two weeks of concerts led by guest conductors Marcelo Lehninger and David Danzmayr. Current artistic advisor Peter Oundjian will lead several concerts mid-summer, and former music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni will return for one week.

The opening weeks set the festival pattern of full orchestra concerts on Thursdays and chamber orchestra on Sundays. Later, the season will also see the return of Fresh Friday mini-concerts and Saturday chamber music (full schedule at coloradomusicfestival.org).

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

 

Colorado Music Festival features illustrious soloists during 2018 season

Fresh Fridays return, Mashups and Happy Hour Concerts do not

By Peter Alexander  Jan. 26, 2018 at 12:10 a.m.

There will be some things old, some things new, and a few things gone missing at the Colorado Music Festival (CMF) this summer.

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CMF artistic advisor Peter Oundjian. Photo by Jaime Hogge.

The 2018 season, announced by the festival today, was assembled by artistic advisor Peter Oundjian in association with the CMF board of directors and the summer’s slate of guest conductors. Oundjian was appointed in place of former music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni, who stepped down after the 2017 season.

Zeitouni remains as principal guest conductor, and will lead three concerts during the summer. Oundjian will conduct eight concerts, including one pair with the same program, and guest conductors will take the remaining orchestral concerts.

A quick glance at the schedule shows that there will be fewer performances than in most recent summers. The season will largely comprise more-or-less standard orchestra programs, performed by either the full Festival Orchestra on Thursdays and Fridays, or the CMF Chamber Orchestra on Sundays. Over the summer, Saturdays will offer two family concerts, two chamber concerts performed by members of the CMF orchestra, and one vocal-piano recital. An additional “Family Fun” concert will be on a Friday (see full schedule below).

All concerts will be in the Chautauqua Auditorium, and nothing has been scheduled for Monday–Wednesday. But Oundjian has brought in a dazzling array of soloists that should attract audience interest, and there will be some hugely popular pieces along the way. The interest of variety is served by a season-long emphasis on music made in America, which brings a number of newer and less familiar works into the schedule.

Olga Kern

Pianist Olga Kern returns to the CMF Aug. 4

The six-week season opens Thursday, June 28, with Brazilian-born conductor Marcelo Lehninger, music director of the Grand Rapids Symphony, and violinist Vadim Gluzman, and ends with the Festival Finale concert Saturday, Aug. 4, featuring the return of the popular pianist Olga Kern to play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on an all-American program conducted by Oundjian.

In addition to Kern, returning soloists over the summer will be pianist Orion Weiss, who will play Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto July 1, and mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung will sing the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde July 19, Abschied from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde July 29, and a song recital July 28.

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Pianist Yefim Bronfman. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Other soloists include several with illustrious careers, as well as promising younger artists. Two of the best known are friends that Oundjian invited to perform here: pianist Yefim Bronfman, who will make his CMF debut with Brahms’s First Piano Concerto July 12 and 13 on the only program to be repeated in its entirety; and violinist Robert McDuffie, who will play Philip Glass’s “American Four Seasons” July 15. The Glass piece was written for McDuffie, and premiered by him with Oundjian conducting in 2009.

“I came (to Boulder) last summer, and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Chautauqua,” Oundjian says. “This is just such a beautiful place. And I thought the orchestra was wonderful. And so I said to everyone, ‘C’mon, you should come out here, it will be great fun!’”

Other soloists over the summer will be violinists Gluzman, Philippe Quint and Augustin Hadelich; pianist Gabriela Martinez; and cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan.

A prominent feature of the season is music by American composers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Samuel Barber, Philip Glass, John Adams, George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, John Corigliano, Joan Tower and George Walker are all on the schedule, as is Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial is being celebrated on seven of the summer’s performances.

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Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial shapes much of the festival

But as Oundjian explains, the theme is broader than that. “The 100th anniversary of Bernstein was my starting point,” he says. “Everything I’m conducting is connected in one way or another with Bernstein: music that would have inspired him, which is a lot of the American music, and then music that he inspired.

Peter Oundjian 2017-18 - 3 - credit Malcolm Cook

Peter Oundjian

“There are several pieces by European composers written on American soil. The only two pieces I’m conducting that were not written on American soil were two of Bernstein’s favorite pieces. One is the Abschied from Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, which he considered one of the greatest masterpieces of all time” (July 29).

The second piece is the Brahms First Piano Concerto (July 12–13), which Bernstein conducted in a notorious performance with pianist Glenn Gould in 1962. Bernstein gave a famous speech before the performance in which he stated both his disagreement with Gould’s interpretation, and support for his right to that interpretation.

The pieces written in America by European composers will be Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances (July 12), Dvořák’s “American” String Quartet (July 21) and Cello Concerto (Aug. 2), Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber (July 26) and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra (Aug. 2).

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Jean-Marie Zeitouni

Each of the other conductors created their own programs apart from Oundjian’s American theme. In his one week at Chautauqua, Zeitouni continues showing his love for great vocal music with the performance of the Prelude and Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde.

There are other classical blockbusters on the guest-conductor programs. Zeitouni will conduct Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade July 19 and 20, and Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony July 21. Lehninger will conduct Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 on opening night, and Beethoven’s “Emperor Concerto” with Weiss July 1, and conductor David Danzmayr has programmed Mahler’s First Symphony July 5.

There are some obvious changes from past seasons, partly on account of decisions made by the board. For example, there will be no Tuesday night performances, and the series that previously occupied those nights—Mashup concerts and their successor, Happy Hour concerts—are missing from the schedule. “Fresh Fridays,” short, informal concerts on Friday evenings that start at 6:30, will continue for a second year.

“We found last year that the sales for our Friday nights were actually higher than the Tuesday nights,” CMF executive director Elizabeth McGuire explains. “Those (‘Fresh Friday’) concerts point more directly to our core product, so we were thrilled about that. We wanted to put emphasis on these concerts.”

There will be two “Fresh Fridays” during the summer, one conducted by Zeitouni on July 20 and one conducted by Oundjian on July 27. Each will repeat one work from the full orchestral program of the preceding evening, and one work selected for its popular appeal.

Another reason McGuire cited for the decrease in the overall number of concerts was that the musicians believed the schedule had become too full. “They were concerned about (repetitive motion) injury, because we were typically offering more (rehearsals and concerts) per week than they would have in their home orchestras,” she says. “They felt that it was just too much in the span of one week.

“We wanted to listen to what the musicians were telling us. They are our greatest asset, so we tried to give them a day off during the week, and we also are increasing their pay this year. Those were ways to make our musicians know that we were listening to them and that we wanted to support them.”

Also missing this year is a “Click” Commission premiere. “The reason is, we didn’t get a lot of enthusiasm” last year, McGuire says. “If we’re going to do something like that, we want people to be engaged and interested in it.”

She does point out that there will be two world premieres during the summer, both pieces by Australian composer Tim Collins, Buch des Sängers (The singers’ book) performed by De Young and the Festival Orchestra under Zeitouni July 19, and LOVES CRUSADE performed by De Young with pianist Cody Garrison July 28.

A new feature of the CMF’s concerts for children and families is that they have been designated “sensory-friendly,” meaning they have been designed to be welcoming to families with children who have “sensory sensitivities.” The accommodations at these performances include leaving the house lights on during the concert and providing a movement area at the back of the hall. (See the full description of these concerts below.)

Season subscriptions for the 2018 Colorado Music Festival are on sale now through the Chautauqua Box Office (phone: 303.440.7666). Single tickets will go on sale March 12.


The next Music Director: No news is good news
Peter Oundjian was hired as artistic advisor to CMF, not as a permanent music director. The search for a new music director is entirely private, and none of this summer’s guest conductors should be considered a candidate for the position, according the executive director Elizabeth MGuire. “There’s no public aspect of (the search) whatsoever,” she says.
“The more we talk about it, the less chance we have of attracting who we want, so it’s all under wraps. Hopefully, people will understand why we’re so close-lipped about it.
No timetable has been announced for filling the position.

# # # # #

Colorado Music Festival
Peter Oundjian, Artistic Advisor
2018 Season

chautauqua-boulder-coloradoAll concerts at Chautauqua Auditorium

 

WEEK 1

7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 28: Opening Night
Marcelo Lehninger, conductor, with Vadim Gluzman, violin
John Corigliano: Promenade Overture

Bernstein: Serenade (After Plato’s Symposium)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, op. 36

2 p.m. Saturday, June 30: Family Fun Concert “Meet the Strings”
Members of the CMF Orchestra. SENSORY FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 1
Marcelo Lehninger, conductor, with Orion Weiss, piano

Stravinsky: Suite No. 1 for Small Orchestra
Mozart: Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”)
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”)

WEEK 2 

Gabriela Martinez:Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Gabriela Martinez. By Lisa-Marie Maszucco

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 5
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Gabriela Martinez, piano

Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 20, K466 in D minor
Mahler: Symphony No. 1

2 p.m. Saturday, July 7: Young People’s Concert: “Dances From Around the World”
Radu Paponiou, conductor
SENSORY FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 8
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Philippe Quint, violin

Bartók: Romanian Folk Dances
Piazzolla: The Four Seasons of Buenos Aires
Schubert: Symphony No. 3

WEEK 3

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12, and Friday, July 13
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Yefim Bronfman, piano

Leonard Bernstein: Overture to Candide
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1
Rachmaninoff: Symphonic Dances, op. 45 

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14: Chamber Music with CMF Chamber Players

robert_mcduffiebyChristianSteiner

Robert McDuffie. By Christian Steiner

Stravinsky: Octet for Wind Instruments
Prokofiev: Two Pieces for String Octet
Mendelssohn: String Octet, op. 20

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Robert McDuffie, violin

Copland: Appalachian Spring Suite
Barber: Adagio for Strings
Philip Glass: Concerto No. 2 for Violin, “American Four Seasons”

WEEK 4

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano

Wagner: Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde
Timothy Collins: Buch des Sängers (World Premiere)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

6:30 p.m. Friday, July 20: FRESH FRIDAYS*
Conductor: Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Borodin: In the Steppes of Central Asia
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade 

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 21: Chamber Music with CMF Chamber Players

Philip Glass: String Quartet No. 2 (“Company”)
Barber: String Quartet
Dvořák: String Quartet No. 12, op. 96 (“American”)

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor

Ravel: Mother Goose
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 (“Eroica”)

WEEK 5

7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 26
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Augustin Hadelich, violin

Paul Hindemith: Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber
Samuel Barber: Violin Concerto
George Walker: Lyric for Strings
John Adams: “Doctor Atomic” Symphony 

6:30 p.m. Friday, July 27 FRESH FRIDAYS*
Peter Oundjian, conductor

Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Adams: Doctor Atomic Symphony

1922 Michelle DeYoung HI RES_blur ART 1 version

Michelle DeYoung

7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano, and Cody Garrison, piano

Art songs by Brahms, Richard Strauss and Samuel Barber.
Timothy Collins: LOVES CRUSADE (world premiere) 

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano

Joan Tower: Made in America
Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite
Mahler: Abschied from Das Lied von der Erde

WEEK 6

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 2
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Narek Hakhnazaryan, cello

Leonard Bernstein: Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free
Dvořák: Cello Concerto
Béla Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra 

2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3: Family Fun Concert “Meet the Brass”
Members of the CMF Orchestra. SENSORY FRIENDLY PERFORMANCE

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4: Festival Finale
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Olga Kern, piano

Leonard Bernstein: Three Dance Variations from Fancy Free
Samuel Barber: Symphony No. 1 in One Movement, op. 9
George Gershwin: An American in Paris
George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue

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*Fresh Fridays: Start at 6:30 p.m. with an hour-long, intermission free concert, leaving patrons time to go out for post-concert dinner and drinks.

Family Fun Concerts give younger children a chance to meet different sections of the orchestra, as small ensembles perform short, informal 45-minute programs.

The Young People’s Concert is designed for children ages 4 and older and includes events after the concert on the great lawn, with costumed characters, hands-on instruments, creative face painting, and other activities.

Sensory-Friendly Concerts are designed to create a performing arts experience that is welcoming to all families with children with autism or other conditions that create sensory sensitivities. Accommodations: house lights will remain on during the performance; microphone volumes will be decreased; staff will be easily accessible for any problems or questions; involuntary movements and noises are acceptable and welcomed; a designated movement area in the back of the auditorium for anyone who feels the need to move during the performance; and general admission seating, so that everyone may find a comfortable place to sit.

NOTE: Edited to correct typos, Jan. 26 at 8:48 a.m.

 

CMF’s mid-summer mini-fest puts the focus on French music

Artist-in-residence Benedetto Lupo will play both Ravel piano concertos in one evening

By Peter Alexander

The mid-summer mini-festival, happily restored to the Colorado Music Festival season, this year will fill Chautauqua Auditorium with the sounds of French music — Ravel, Debussy and others less familiar.

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Pianist Benedetto Lupo will be artist-in-residence for the CMF French Music mini-festival.

This is a welcome opportunity for Boulder audiences. The orchestral repertoire is so dominated by German and Russian composers that we can easily forget that France too had a vital musical culture.

The choice is also unsurprising: French music is the natural home of Jean-Marie Zeitouni, the CMF’s music director. “This is a repertoire with which I have intimate affinities,” he says. “I grew up with the Montreal Symphony playing Ravel and Debussy, so I have a special love for it.”

In addition to Zeitouni’s affinity for the repertoire, the other factor in the programming was the availability of pianist Benedetto Lupo. Although he is Italian, Lupo says he “always had an interest” in French music. He studied with Aldo Ciccolini, another Italian who was renowned for his performances of French music.

Lupo will be the CMF artist-in-residence during the mini-festival week and will be part of all four concerts — a Festival Orchestra concert July 20, an abbreviated repeat for “Fresh Fridays” July 21, a solo and chamber concert July 21 and a CMF Chamber Orchestra concert July 25.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Colorado Music Festival
French Mini-Festival
All performances in Chautauqua Auditorium

Festival Orchestra, Jean Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Benedetto Lupo, piano
7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 20

Fresh Friday performance
Festival Orchestra, Jean Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Benedetto Lupo, piano
6:30 p.m. Friday, July 21

Benedetto Lupo, piano, with Joseph Meyer, violin; Elizabeth Jaffe, viola; and Aaron Merritt, cello.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 22

Fauré’s French Soirée
CMF Chamber Orchestra, Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor
Benedetto Lupo, piano; Calin Lupano, violin; Catherine Turner, horn; Vivian Cumplido Wilson, flute.

Tickets

Beethoven’s monumental 9th Symphony enjoys a mid-season triumph at CMF

Zeitouni, orchestra, chorus and soloists deliver an immaculate performance

By Peter Alexander

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a piece burdened with so much projected significance that it is difficult to hear it just as a piece of music.

Unquestionably a great symphony, it has also become the preferred piece for any major occasion. It has been played for memorials of all kinds, for the reopening of Germany’s Bayreuth Festival after World War II, as the European anthem, for the demolition of the Berlin Wall, to mark the millennium, for Olympic ceremonies and presidential inaugurations, for orchestras opening or closing anniversary seasons, and just this year for the meeting of the G-20 in Hamburg, Germany.

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Jean-Marie Zeitouni

In that context, it was surprising and a bit refreshing that Jean-Marie Zeitouni programmed the Ninth not as the opening or closing gesture of the Colorado Music Festival’s 40th anniversary season, but right the middle of the summer, as if it were just another piece on the program. I believe that is a good thing: it is a better piece when taken off its pedestal and heard as a great artistic product instead of a weighty political or social statement.

I suspect that was Zeitouni’s intention. “I thought, let’s put it right in the middle,” he says. “It’s a way to connect with the people and to offer something familiar.”

However familiar it is, Zeitouni tries to approach the symphony anew each time he conducts it. “Each time I buy a brand new score, I get rid of all the markings that I have and I start fresh,” he says. “And each time I find something new, something I haven’t seen before.”

Whatever Zeitouni has found new, last night’s performance at Chautauqua Auditorium (July 13) more than justified his thinking. He and the CMF Festival Orchestra, joined by the St. Martin’s Festival Singers and an outstanding quartet of soloists delivered an immaculate performance of the Ninth Symphony, from the portentous opening haze of the first movement to the triumphant “Ode to Joy” Finale.

Among the strengths of the performance were the clarity and transparency of the orchestra throughout, a result of well controlled intonation and balance. Zeitouni’s management of the volume and pacing of the performance were remarkable. One of the most powerful moments was the return of the first movement’s primary theme. First heard as a whisper, it comes back with crashing D-minor chords that were, as they should be, the powerful culmination of all that came before. Without careful pacing and management of dynamics, that moment misfires.

The precipitous scherzo movement was marked by great economy of gesture from the conductor and absolute precision across all the tempo changes by the orchestra. The slow movement was deliciously warm, with Beethoven’s extended phrases, passages, whole paragraphs of music beautifully sustained.

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Soprano Mary Wilson

The finale, some of the most familiar music in the repertoire, was marked by many wonderful expressive touches, making the music as fresh to the listener as it must be for Zeitouni with a clean new score. The chorus, prepared by Timothy J. Krueger—who got deserved recognition at the end of the performance—was exceptional, with sopranos that really can sustain those high As that Beethoven cruelly asks for, and in tune.

The four solo parts are some of the most thankless roles in the repertoire, written with no mercy, but they were made as beautiful as possible by the quartet of soprano Mary Wilson, mezzo Michelle DeYoung, tenor Jason Baldwin, and bass Timothy Collins—a last-minute replacement for CU alumnus Keith Miller. Only Collins had a moment of unease, perhaps as the new guy in the quartet, but beyond that they all sang with great assurance, even with some very brisk and exhilarating tempos.

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Composer Betsy Jolas

The Symphony benefited from being played after a short opening portion of the concert, comprising two contrasting pieces: the American premiere of A Little Summer Suite by Betsy Jolas, and Mahler’s early Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen (Song of a wayfarer) with De Young as soloist.

Jolas’ Suite, with seven short movements in 12 minutes, reflects the atonal, atomistic style of the mid-20th century—not surprising for a composer born in 1926 and soon to turn 91. It is an assured score, but the summer she seems to be writing about struck me as a little bit sinister, with ominous clouds always on the horizon. The shifting moods were convincingly conveyed by the Festival Orchestra.

Great Performances at the Met: Tannhäuser

Michelle DeYoung as Venus in Wagner’s Tannhauser at the Met. Photo by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

DeYoung, a dramatic soprano with upcoming Wagnerian roles as Kundry in Parsifal, Fricka in Rheingold and Sieglinde and Die Walküre, sang Mahler’s songs with great dramatic import. If slightly overdone for early Mahler, it was nonetheless very effective, especially in the final two movements. Her expressiveness charmed the audience, while Zeitouni and the orchestra provided comfortable support.

The concert was sheer pleasure from beginning to end. I especially commend Zeitouni for allowing us to hear the Ninth as a great piece of music, fresh and powerful, but unburdened of any unnecessary weight.

The Ninth Symphony will be repeated at 6:30 p.m. tonight (July 14) on the CMF “Fresh Friday” series. Tickets from the Chautauqua Box Office.