Longmont Symphony announces 2019–2020 season, “Music is Life”

Handel’s Messiah and ongoing Beethoven cycle will be among season’s highlights

By Peter Alexander May 15 at 2:15 p.m.

The 53rdseason of the Longmont Symphony will include a performance of Handel’s Messiah, two programs in the orchestra’s ongoing Beethoven cycle, and two performances each of two chamber orchestra programs in the Longmont Museum’s Stewart Auditorium.

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Elliot More with there Longmont Symphony. Smiling Elk Photography.

Under the title “Music is Life,” the 2019–20 season is the third under music director Elliot Moore. There will be six concerts in the LSO’s home, Vance Brand Auditorium, including a Pops concert, “LSO at the Movies!” (May 9, 2020), and a family concert (Jan. 18, 2020; see full schedule below).

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Elliot Moore

During Moore’s first two years with the LSO, the Beethoven cycle included performances of the First and Second symphonies by a chamber orchestra in Stewart Auditorium. For 2019–20, the cycle moves into Vance Brand Auditorium for a performance of the Third Symphony by the full LSO (Nov. 9), followed by the Fourth Symphony performed by the Longmont Chamber Orchestra back in Stewart Auditorium (March 7 & 8).

A longstanding tradition of the LSO, performances of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with Boulder Ballet, will continue on Dec. 7 & 8. The “Gentle Nutcracker,” a sensory-friendly performance of the beloved ballet designed for individuals with special needs and their families, will be presented Dec. 7.

The Main Series opening night, Oct. 5, will feature organist Brian du Fresne playing Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for Organ and the organ part of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 “avec orgue” (with organ), popularly known as the “Organ Symphony.” Other soloists during the season will include Russian cellist Adrian Daurov, playing Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 (Nov. 9); the return to Longmont of violinist Andrew Sords for John Corigliano’s Violin Concerto “The Red Violin” (Feb. 15); and percussionist Cameron Leach performing Jennifer Higdon’s Percussion Concerto (April 4).

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Christie Conover

The Messiah performance (Dec. 15) will feature the Longmont Chorale Singers and vocal soloists TBA. Soprano Christie Conover and bass Joshua South will perform Stravinsky’s complete Pulcinella ballet with the Chamber Orchestra in Stewart Auditorium (Oct. 19­–20), on a program that will also include Conover singing Mozart arias with the orchestra.

Kicking off the entire season is the LSO’s annual free concert July 4 in Thompson Park. As in past years, the program will be shared with the Longmont Chorale and the Longmont Youth Symphony.

Six‐concert subscription packages for the LSO’s 53rdseason go on sale on Monday, May 20 (call 303‐772‐5796;10 a.m.–2 p.m. Mondays; and 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays). Series subscribers receive up to 20% off single ticket prices. Single tickets for Main Series concerts are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and active military, $5 for children/students ($10 for the Pops and Messiah performances).

All LSO Museum concerts are $35 (includes a glass of wine and post‐concert reception). Handel’s Messiah tickets are $30 for adults; children/students $10. Family Concert tickets are $10. Single tickets go on sale on Monday, Aug. 26, via phone and online here.

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JULY 4TH CONCERT IN THE PARK

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LSO in Thompson Park. Photo by Peter Alexander.

Thursday, July 4, 11:30 a.m.
Thompson Park, 420 Bross Street, Longmont (Free and open to the public)
11:30 a.m. – Longmont Youth Symphony
12:30 p.m. – Longmont Chorale
1 p.m. – Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore, conductor

MAIN SERIES CONCERTS
All Main Series Concerts are conducted by Elliot Moore and performed at Vance Brand Civic Auditorium at Skyline High School. 

Opening Night: The Organ Symphony
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5
With Brian du Fresne, organ

J.S. Bach, arr. Stokowski: Passacaglia and Fugue
Francis Poulenc: Concerto for Organ
Saint‐Saëns: Symphony No. 3, “Organ Symphony” 

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Adrian Daurov

Beethoven Cycle
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9
With Adrian Daurov, cello

George Enescu: Prelude in Unison
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3, “Eroica”

The Force of Destiny
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15
With Andrew Sords, violin

Verdi: Overture to La forza del destino
John Corigliano: The Red Violin Violin Concerto
Paganini: Violin Concerto No. 2, Rondo (“La Campanella”)
Respighi: The Pines of Rome

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Cameron Leach

A Fanfare for All: Sidebyside with the Longmont Youth Symphony
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 4
With Cameron Leach, percussion

Gwyneth Walker: Open the Door
Jennifer Higdon: Percussion Concerto
Copland: Symphony No. 3

Pops Concert: LSO at the Movies!
7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 9

Music from Chariots of Fire, Cinema Paradiso, Batman, Titanic, Lord of the Rings, and other films

MUSEUM CONCERTS
Stewart Auditorium, Longmont Museum

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La Commedia dell’arte
Longmont Chamber Orchestra
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Christie Conover, soprano; tenor TBA; and Joshua South, bass

7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20

Mozart: Overture to Le nozze di Figaro
Mozart: Selected arias for soprano and orchestra
Stravinsky: Pulcinella (complete ballet)

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Beethoven. Portrait by Christian Horneman, 1803

Beethoven Cycle: Schubert & Beethoven
Longmont Chamber Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor

7 p.m. Saturday, March 7
4 p.m. Sunday, March 8

Schubert: Symphony No. 5
Beethoven: Symphony No. 4

 

HOLIDAY EVENTS

 The Nutcracker with the Boulder Ballet
Music by Tchaikovsky
Elliot Moore, conductor

4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7,
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium 

The Gentle Nutcracker
1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, 1 p.m.
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium

A sensory‐friendly performance for individuals with special needs and their families.

 

Handel’s Messiah
Longmont Chamber Orchestra and Longmont Chorale Singers
Elliot Moore, conductor, with vocal soloists TBA

4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15
Westview Presbyterian Church, Longmont

FAMILY CONCERT

 

Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor
4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium

Saint‐Saëns: Selections from Carnival of the Animals
Bizet: Les Toreadores from Carmen
Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf 

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Subscription tickets for the LSO go on sale Monday, may 20. Call 303-772-5796. Single tickets will go on sale Monday, Aug. 26.

Longmont Symphony continues Beethoven cycle with Symphony No. 2

“One of the greatest symphonies ever” is paired with Shostakovich

By Peter Alexander April 9, 2019, at 10:45 p.m.

Beethoven is consistently one of the top two classical composers by numbers of performances around the world—alongside Mozart—but not in Longmont.

Elliot Moore - credit - Photography Maestro

Elliot Moore. Photography Maestro.

“Particularly the earlier symphonies of Beethoven have been underperformed here,” Elliot Moore, the director of the Longmont Symphony, says. To change that, Moore has planned a complete cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies, more or less in order, over several years.

The First Symphony was played last year, and the Second Symphony, one of the least performed of Beethoven’s symphonies, will be performed this weekend (Saturday and Sunday in the Longmont Museum’s Stewart Auditorium; see details below). The program also includes Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont and Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony.

“There was very little early Beethoven, very little Mozart, Haydn, being performed here for many years,” Moore says. And as a result, “there’s a freshness to the music here in Longmont that I’m not sure would be the case in New York.”

The documented history of the LSO supports Moore’s description. In the years since 1987 until last year, records that were easily found, there were no performances of symphonies Nos. 1, 2, or 4. There were two of No. 3, but only one each of 5 and 8. The later symphonies fared relatively better, with two each of Nos. 6 and 7, and three of No. 9.

Beyond the freshness and novelty of early Beethoven symphonies for Longmont audiences, Moore sees another reason to perform them. “Learning how the progression of the symphony has taken place helps inform our performances of music that was written later,” he says.

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Moore with the LSO. Smiling Elk Photography.

“In order to figure out how to play later symphonies, whether Berlioz, or Mendelssohn, or the orchestral works of Bartók, we need to know where the symphony came from. It’s important to understand how the early Beethoven symphonies helped bring the symphony into its current form.”

If this sounds like an educational project, Moore doesn’t deny that. And it is aimed at two constituencies. “There are two different groups that are evolving in terms of our listening ability and playing ability,” Moore says. “One is the audience, the other is the orchestra.”

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Beethoven ca. 1802. Portrait by Christian Horneman. (fi.wikipedia.org, Public Domain)

The two major works on the current program—Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 and Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony—were written at low points in each composer’s life. Beethoven wrote his Second Symphony in 1802, at the time he first learned that he was going permanently deaf—when he wrote his famous “Heiligenstadt Testament” expressing his anguish. “I endured this wretched existence,” he wrote; “only art it was that withheld me” from ending his own life.

The chamber symphony is a string orchestra arrangement of Shostakovich’s Eighth String Quartet, written in 1960, during a similar emotional crisis in the composer’s life, caused by a diagnosis of ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) and a period of extreme political pressure from Soviet authorities. Shostakovich did not write a testament, but friends and family reported that he too thought about suicide.

The musical responses of the two composers to their crises was utterly different. Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet is an anguished work, reflecting the composer’s despair, but Beethoven’s Second Symphony is one of his happiest and most serene works. If you are looking for a musical expression of the composer’s anguish, you just will not find it in the Second Symphony.

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Beethoven’s signature on the Heiligenstadt Testament

“The Second is really one of my favorites of [Beethoven’s] symphonies,” Moore says. “There’s a lightness, there’s a freshness to the music that I have adored for years. It’s one of the greatest symphonies ever composed. I love it.”

Officially, Shostakovich’s Eighth Quartet was written for a film about art treasures stolen from Dresden by the Nazis during World War II, and it carries the dedication “to the victims of fascism and the war.” But the composer really wrote the quartet for himself, as reported by confidants and confirmed in a letter he wrote later. “It’s hardly likely that anybody will ever write a work dedicated to my memory,” he wrote. “So I have decided to write one myself.”

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Shostakovich in 1959. Photo by Ida Kar.

“This is all about his experience, his life, and he’s pouring himself into the music,” Moore says. “That makes it his most personal work. How he made it so personal was by including the anagram of his name (D. Sch—D, Eb, C, B in German musical notation). He painted himself into this work, in each of the movements.”

Shostakovich wrote the String Quartet in Dresden. The city had been destroyed by the allies’ firebombing in February 1945. Even in 1960 Shostakovich was “shaken by the scenes of devastation,” a friend wrote, and managed to write the quartet in just three days.

Most commentators believe that the despair expressed in the quartet is as appropriate for the ruins of Dresden as for the ruins of Shostakovich’s emotions in 1960. The arrangement of the quartet for string orchestra that the LSO will perform was made by violist Rudolf Barhsai and approved by the composer.

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Ruins of Dresden, 1945.

Shostakovich fits well with Beethoven, Moore believes. “What I love about Beethoven and Shostakovich paired together is that in their own ways, they are both revolutionary composers,” he says. “The piece we’re opening with, Beethoven’s Egmont Overture, is about Count Egmont and how he stood up to an oppressor.

In this and other works, Moore says, “Beethoven paved the path for other composers to respond politically to what was going on. That’s often what Shostakovich was doing. They use different language, they used different approaches, but there’s something Shostakovich got from Beethoven.”

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Longmont Symphony in Stewart Auditorium

“Beethoven Cycle”
Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore, conductor

Beethoven: Overture to Egmont
Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D major

7 p.m. Saturday, April 13
4 p.m. Sunday, April 14 (SOLD OUT)
Stewart Auditorium at the Longmont Museum

Tickets (April 13 only)

 

Longmont Symphony’s ‘Musical Journeys’ take many forms

Violinist Sharon Roffman will play Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto April 6

By Peter Alexander April 4 at 3:30 p.m.

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Violinist Sharon Roffman

“Musical Journeys” is the thread running through the 2018–19 season of the Longmont Symphony Orchestra (LSO), and it takes different forms in each of three works on their next concert, to be performed Saturday(April 6).

Most obvious is Smetana’s tone poem The Moldau, which describes the river Moldau flowing from the mountains, though the villages of Bohemia and on to the sea.

Also on the program is Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in a performance that recalls career journeys of the soloist, Sharon Roffman, and the LSO’s conductor, Elliot Moore, who have known each other since they were 15. The Tchaikovsky is one of the first concertos Roffman learned, and she has recently returned to it after 10-plus years. Her journey over that time, playing chamber music, solo engagements, and in orchestras, has deepened her understanding of the concerto.

The final piece on the program is Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, which the Hungarian composer wrote at the end of a journey that brought him to the United States during World War II. More significantly, Moore programmed the Concerto for Orchestra in order to highlight the LSO’s journey during his two years as music director.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Conductor Elliot Moore and the LSO

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Sharon Roffman, violin

Smetana: The Moldau
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra

7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, Longmont

Tickets

 

Longmont Symphony presents “Sounds of America”

Soprano Christie Conover inspired the program with a Cowboy Song

By Peter Alexander Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m.

The next concert of the Longmont Symphony started with, of all things, the notorious outlaw Belle Starr.

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Belle Starr (l)

The program includes composer Libby Larsen’s Cowboy Songs, a set of three songs for voice and orchestra that opens with “Bucking Bronco,” a text loosely attributed to Starr. A warning to young girls, the text concludes “Now all young maidens, where e’er you reside/Beware of the cowboy who swings rawhide/He’ll court you and pet you and leave you to go/In the spring up the trail on his bucking bronco.”

Elliot Moore - credit - Photography Maestro

Elliot Moore, by Photography Maestro.

Elliot Moore, conductor of the Longmont Symphony, heard soprano Christie Conover sing the song at an audition and fell in love with it. “She sang stunningly beautifully,” he says. “I thought (the song) was fantastic and I thought that she really sold it.”

Deciding that he wanted to have Conover perform the Cowboy Songs with the LSO, Moore thought that another piece that would fit her voice would be Samuel Barber’s sweet recollection of childhood, Knoxville, Summer of 1915.  

With an American theme starting to come together, he decided that Aaron Copland’s ballet Rodeo would be the perfect companion to the Cowboy Songs. The final piece of the puzzle—or the program—is an American piece that is little known but that Moore really wanted to present, the Symphony No. 2 of Robert Kurka.

Robert Kurka

Robert Kurka

“It is an amazing American symphony that has been forgotten and deservers a spot in the repertoire,” Moore says. “Kurka was born in 1921 and died at 36, in 1957. He was being compared to Copland, (as) the next great American composer, but he died, so there’s very little of his work performed.”

The Symphony is a relatively short work in three movements. “The first movement has a gravitas to it, the second movement has kind of a lilting, dance feeling to it, and the last movement is just super, super joyful,” Moore says. “It’s been recorded I think twice, and it has remained on the shelf for 60 some odd years. It’s exciting that we have an opportunity to bring it out.”

A graduate of the CU Boulder College of Music , Conover relates naturally to the Cowboy Songs. “I’m from Montana, and a lot of my family is still out on the farm and the ranch,” she says. “My parents both grew up on farms and ranches, and I grew up going to the farms and ranches of my family.”

After the first song, which Moore describes as “cute and fun,” the second has a bluesy quality “It’s called ‘Lift me Into Heaven,’ and it is more (about) the physical aches that come from working on the farm. It’s not about dying and going into heaven, simply ‘I need you to lift me into bed so that I can go to sleep after a hard day.’ That to me sounds like what heaven is in this song.”

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Christie Conover

Moore and Conover both describe the third song as “sassy.” It’s very short, about Billy the Kid and all the people he shot, “one every morning.” “Billy was a bad man,” the song states. “One day he met a man who was a whole lot badder/And now he’s dead and we ain’t none the sadder.”

As a true Westerner, Conover knows that some of the wild-west mythology is exaggerated. “But there has to be some truth to legend, in order for the stories to take shape,” she says. “I think there’s some truth to it.”

She also believes American audiences should hear music of their own culture on concerts. “It’s our repertoire, and it is important that we experience our own culture through music,” she says. “This is who we are.”

For many Americans, so is Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, a setting of James Agee’s description of a idyllic summer evening on the front porch and in the back yard with his family. It was published as a prologue to Agee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiographical novel A Death in the Family.

Ostensibly the description of a time of happiness, the poem takes on a darker meaning in connection with the novel, which relates how the death of the author’s father shatters the family. It is both a depiction of innocence through the eyes of a child, and a premonition of the loss of innocence, through the eyes of the adult recalling childhood.

“I think that Barber did such an incredible job that the sense of nostalgia and innocence paired with loss of innocence comes out in the harmonies,” Moore says.

Barber paints the images of the summer evening in the music. “As an example, the rocking of the rocking chair is painted with a triplet figure in the flute,” Moore says. “(The text) talks about street cars being noisy in the traffic, and he puts in the French horn that makes a clanging sound. There’s a lot that Barber has put into the music to really bring the text into musical relief.”

Since beginning her study to Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Conover has found a deeper meaning from becoming a mother. “I have a 5-month-old now, and it’s a child talking,” she says. “He speaks about how his mother and his father are good to him, and how amazing that we are put on this earth at the same time, and I kind of easily well up.”

She read the text over and over before learning the notes. “It has to be me singing the (words of the text), whether the specific part I think about my son, or the part I think about my own mother and my own memories. You have to have those sensations in your mind as you’re singing it.

“If you’re feeling it and you’re visualizing it, the way the music comes out of you is different. That’s what’s so great about live music!”

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Agnes de Mille’s choreography for Rodeo. Pennsylvania Ballet, photo by Alexander Ilziliaev.

Following up the cowboy theme of Larsen’s songs, Moore and the LSO will perform the entire score of Copland’s ballet Rodeo. The ballet tells the story the courting of a shy cowgirl during a party with the ranch hands. The score includes a number of folk songs and fiddle tunes from American history, including “If He’d be a Buckaroo,” “Sis Joe,” “I Ride an old Paint,” “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” and “Miss McLeod’s Reel.”

“We’re performing is the complete ballet, which includes a movement that features a saloon-style solo piano called ‘Ranch-House Party,’ and that movement is generally omitted,” Moore says. “There’s also a big clarinet solo in the ‘Ranch House Party’ that is rarely heard.

“I think it’s neat that we’re bringing the complete music of the ballet to Longmont.”

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elliotandlso-1Sounds of America
Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, music director
With Christie Conover, soprano

Robert Kurka: Symphony No. 2 (Colorado premiere)
Samuel Barber: Knoxville, Summer of 1915
Libby Larsen: Cowboy Songs
Aaron Copland: Rodeo

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb 23
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, Longmont

Tickets

LSO’s new executive director: Longmont reminds her of her native Italy

Giorgia Ghizzoni plans for the continued growth and development of the orchestra

By Peter Alexander Jan. 14 at 3:00 p.m.

Italian native Giorgia Ghizzoni, the new executive director of the Longmont Symphony, feels right at home.

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Giorgia Ghizzoni

“There’s such an Italian feel to Longmont in the sense of community,” she says. “We found it so welcoming and inclusive. A few months was enough for us to realize that we would like to call Longmont home.”

Ghizzoni took up her duties Jan. 7, succeeding Kay Lloyd, who retired from the position after 12 years as executive director. Lloyd remains with the orchestra as principal flute and is the orchestra librarian.

“Thank God she will still be there,” Ghizzoni says. “She promised she’s going to be there in case I have questions. She has been such an asset and a value to the organization.”

Ghizzoni has an extensive background in music and business. She received a bachelor’s degree in cello performance in Italy and a bachelor’s degree in economics and business from the Utrecht (Netherlands) School of Economics. She studied arts management in Finland, and has lived in Switzerland, New York, and most recently, Sonoma County, California.

Her professional experience includes work in community outreach and audience development at Carnegie Hall and as an intern at Alliance Artist Management in New York. She also established Experience Classical Music! (ExClaM!), a company focused on artist development.

In a press release, LSO board president Robert Pilkey was quoted saying “She has an impressive musical background, stellar administrative skills, fundraising experience and an abundance of energy. She also has an appreciation for the community’s long-held love affair with its symphony orchestra.”

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LSO with conductor Elliot Moore

Ghizzoni arrives only a year and half after the arrival of the orchestra’s new music director, Elliot Moore. “Giorgia and LSO’s music director Elliot Moore speak the same language and will make a great partnership,” Pilkey wrote.

Now that she has the job, Ghizzoni has lots of ideas for the orchestra. “The Longmont Symphony is an organization full of people with gigantic hearts,” she says. “I think of the LSO as an ambassador and identity of the City of Longmont itself: fast development, new people coming in from all walks, and expansion in a welcoming and inclusive way. And everybody is looking forward to improving themselves and to being more and more meaningful to more and more people, and this is just fantastic.

“The Longmont Symphony used to be a community orchestra. In one and half years it became a semi-professional orchestra, and with this change come a lot of new needs that need to be addressed. Now we need fund raising, major sponsorship, more collaboration, so lots of research to be done. [There are] younger patrons that we would like to touch with the gift of music, so how about being active on social media? All of this is a new definition of what an executive director will do from now on.”

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Giorgia Ghizzoni

Ghizzoni fell into the position almost by accident—a lucky accident, as it turns out. She was living in Longmont and wanted to meet the director of the local orchestra. “I’m an artist developer,” she says. “If some of his orchestra musicians need me in whatever sense, I’m here.” So she and Moore met before she knew that the LSO had a position open.

“We speak for five minutes, and he’s like, ‘I’m confused. I thought you wanted to meet me about the job opening.’ ‘What job opening?’ ‘You don’t know that we just opened our executive director position?’ No, I had no idea.”

To Ghizzoni, becoming the executive director of an orchestra looked like the perfect next step in her career. “I told the search committee on my last interview ‘I was this and I was that, I was an artist developer, but I have never been the executive director of a symphony orchestra. That’s exactly my next level.’”

With all of her past travels—Italy to Finland to Netherlands to Switzerland to the US—Ghizzoni has been a bit of a nomad. How likely is she to stay put in Longmont?

“I will just tell you this much,” she says. “We were here a couple of months and we bought a house.”

Longmont Symphony connects with sister city, explores Japanese influences in music

“A Cultural Affair” introduces pianist Taka Kigawa from Chino, Japan

By Peter Alexander Nov. 8 at 10:05 p.m.

The next concert of the Longmont Symphony, titled “A Cultural Affair,” features a Colorado premiere and a Colorado debut.

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Taka Kigawa makes his Colorado debut with the Longmont Symphony. Photo by Ruby Washington/New York Times

The performance, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Nov. 10) in Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, introduces pianist Taka Kigawa in his first performance in Colorado. The premiere, on the other hand, is not so much an introduction, since it features a composer from Altona, Colorado: Conor Brown, whose How to Relax with Origami was premiered by the Detroit Symphony in 2017 but has not yet been played in the composer’s home state.

In addition to Brown’s piece, the program features Kigawa playing Ravel’s Concerto in G, and the LSO will conclude the concert with Debussy’s La Mer.

The genesis of the concert was the fact that Kigawa is from Longmont’s sister city of Chino, Japan. “When I did my audition (with the LSO in 2016), I was made aware that Longmont has two sister cities,” Moore says. “And it happens that Taka is from Longmont’s sister city in Japan! One of my goals is to connect people through music, and I think that right now is a great time for this.”

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Conor Brown

Another theme of the concert is influences that cross cultures. That is evident in Brown’s How to Relax with Origami, which has been shaped in some very specific ways by the principles of origami.

“Japanese origami is very intricate but small,” Moore says. “But it’s a very specific, intentional, beautiful, small art. And each one of the eight movements in Brown’s piece is a very intricately designed compact composition that in that way relates to origami.”

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Ravel (seated) with American bandleader Paul Whitman

With the Ravel Concerto, one of the external influences is American jazz, which Ravel had heard in a tour of the United States. This is something that Kigawa, the native of Chino, Japan, has come to feel very comfortable with.

“Living in New York I have not only classical musician friends but also jazz music friends,” he says. “They quite often invite me, ‘Hey Taka, let’s jam!’ And I say ‘sure,’ just for fun.”

The Concerto in G is one of Kigawa’s favorites. “I think this concerto is one of the best concertos,” he says. “I mean literally ‘concerto,’ concerto means ‘playing with.’

“This concerto is not like Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff, the pianist showing off his hand dexterity and power. This is really chamber music. I would be very happy if the audience will listen to the mixture of piano sound and other instrument sounds, and how Ravel pulls that into a coherent piece of music.”

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Debussy in his home with Hokusai’s print on the wall.

To fill out the concert, Moore wanted another piece with a Japanese connection. This led him to Debussy’s La Mer, which was inspired by a famous print by the 18th– and 19th-century Japanese artist Hokusai, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Debussy, who was very interested in Asian art, had a copy of Hokusai’s print in his home.

Moore finds a Japanese imprint on La Mer not only in the inspiration from Hokusai’s print but in the music itself. For example, Debussy uses pentatonic (five-note scale) fragments of melody, which sound Asian to Western ears. Those fragments appear and disappear throughout the piece, in a way that Moore relates to eastern philosophical ideas of impermanence.

He also points out that the very opening of the piece represents dawn on the sea—which occurs in the east, not the view of the sea from France. “The sun rising in the east is depicting that we are taking this voyage to an eastern country,” Moore says.

“Of course the piece is about the sea, and there’s a lot of things about the sea in the music,” he adds. For example, each of the three movements portrays a different aspect of the sea: “From dawn to noon on the sea,” “Play of the waves,” and “Dialog of the wind and the sea.”

In the first movement, Moore says that the instrumental sound becomes brighter and warmer as the movement proceeds toward noon. Then, “certainly the second movement is about the play of the waves,” he says. “It’s much more playful than the first movement. One of the images that I have is bubbles coming up to the surface—I hear that sort of lightness and buoyancy in the music.”

Great Wave:Kanagawa

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai

And he believes the Japanese influence makes one last appearance before the end: “In the last movement Debussy does put in the buildup and the crash of the great wave off Kanagawa.”

That moment, with it’s connection from a Japanese artist, to a French composer, to American listeners, is the kind of cultural connection that Moore wants the audience to recognize. “I want to use music as a catalyst to connect people, whether it’s people from Japan to Colorado, or people within the city of Longmont.

“That’s the main point of this performance.”

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A Cultural Affair
Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore conductor, with Taka Kigawa, piano
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, Longmont

Conor Brown: How to Relax with Origami (Colorado premiere)
Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major
Debussy: La Mer

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Longmont Symphony schedules chamber orchestra concerts at Stewart Auditorium

Moore: Classical works will “further the orchestra’s artistic achievement”

By Peter Alexander Oct. 18 at 8:40 p.m.

Elliott Moore, conductor of the Longmont Symphony, wants the orchestra to play more music from the Classical era.

Elliot Moore with the Longmont Symphony_preview

Conductor Elliot Moore with the Longmont Symphony.  Smiling Elk Photography.

The standard works of the 19th-century Romantic era have been staples of the orchestra for many years, but the LSO has not played much Haydn, Mozart and early Beethoven. To remedy the imbalance, they have started scheduling chamber orchestra concerts in the intimate Stewart Auditorium of the Longmont Museum. Last year there was one; this year there will be two, at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoons Oct. 21 (sold out) and April 14. Similar concerts are planned for future seasons as well.

The orchestra will perform three works Oct. 21: Lacrimae Beati by American composer Richard Danielpour, which is derived from the last notes Mozart wrote before his death; Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major with soloist Alice Yoo; and Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C major, known as the “Jupiter” Symphony. The April 14 concert will feature Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont, the Chamber Symphony, op. 110a, by Shostakovich; and Beethoven Symphony No. 2 in D major, performed as part of a multi-year Beethoven cycle that will include all nine symphonies.

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Eliot Moore

The programming of Classical-era pieces, as well as contemporary works for smaller orchestra, accomplishes two things, Moore says. “Haydn and Mozart are not composers that have been performed a great deal in Longmont,” he explains. “It still has a feeling of being fresh here, and it’s important that the Longmont Symphony bring this to our audiences.”

The second thing it accomplishes is more important, Moore believes. “One of the aspects of what a music director does is to further the orchestra’s artistic achievement,” he says. “You use the repertoire to further that artistic achievement.

“For example, our performance of Mozart’s final symphony, the ‘Jupiter’ Symphony, will influence how we perform our Beethoven Second Symphony, and how we perform our Beethoven Second Symphony will influence how we perform Brahms. This music all goes together, and for us to jump to Brahms without having a background in the performance of Mozart and early Beethoven, and then of late Beethoven—we are missing some steps.”

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Richard Danielpour

Of the works on the sold-out Oct. 21 concert, Moore is especially excited about Danielpour’s Lacrimae Beati. “I’m thrilled that Longmont will see the Colorado premiere of this fantastic work,” he says. “To me that’s very exciting, that we are able to bring [that] to our audience.

“What’s important is that Danielpour quotes Mozart’s Lachrymosa from his Requiem. It’s a direct quote, and the piece is based on the last eight notes that Mozart wrote. I wrote to Dr. Danielpour, and he is very honored that his piece is on the same program with Mozart’s final symphony.”

The April concert features music by two composers, Beethoven and Shostakovich. “These two composers go together so well, because while they lived in different times, they both are revolutionary composers,” Moore says. “Beethoven was doing so many new, exciting things, and it packs a punch in what he’s delivering. Shostakovich does the same thing in a different way.

“What is compelling about the program is the old and the new and how it relates.”

Of the works on the program, the Shostakovich Chamber Symphony is a string orchestra arrangement of the composer’s Eighth String Quartet, one of his most emotionally powerful pieces. In contrast to the sometimes anguished Shostakovich score, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 is one of the composer’s sunniest work. Its programming represents a continuation of the Beethoven cycle that began last year with the First Symphony.

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Longmont Symphony at the Stewart Auditorium

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Stewart Auditorium at the Longmont Museum. Photo by Peter Alexander.

Haydn & Mozart
4 .m. Sunday, Oc.t 21, 2018
Longmont Museum Stewart Auditorium
Elliot Moore, conductor, with Alice Yoo, cello

Richard Danielpour: Lacrimae Beati
Haydn: Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major
Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C major (“Jupiter”)

SOLD OUT

Beethoven Cycle
4 p.m. Sunday, April 14, 2019
Longmont Museum Stewart Auditorium
Elliot Moore, conductor

Beethoven: Overture to Egmont
Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony, op. 110a
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D major

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