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

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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.”

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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

Tickets

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.

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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

Tickets

Elliot Moore finds the Longmont Symphony “fun to drive” going into a new season

Opening program features music by Bernstein, Shostakovich and Mahler

By Peter Alexander Oct. 1 at 10 p.m.

Elliot Moore is energized and inspired as he starts his second year as music director of the Longmont Symphony.

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Elliot Moore with the Longmont Symphony

“I often think about conducting an orchestra as like driving a car,” he says, “and the orchestra is really fun to drive right now. How I’m able to do my job as music director has changed in a very positive way, because the level of musicianship continues to ascend.”

For evidence of the change, one need look no further than the recent auditions for places in the LSO, which kept the auditioning committee busy until 1 a.m. “It’s my understanding that we had about a 400% increase in people applying for the Longmont Symphony,” Moore says.

“I think that means that there is excitement about the Symphony, and that people want to take part in it. And it shows that the future of music in Longmont is very, very bright.”

The first concert of the 2018–19 season, a celebration of this year’s Bernstein Centennial, is Saturday (Oct. 6) in Vance Brand Civic Auditorium. Unlike other Bernstein concerts this year, the LSO is not playing any of the well known, popular works that we have heard recently. Instead, they will present one of the great under-appreciated works that Bernstein wrote, the Chichester Psalms.

Other works on the program are pieces by composers that Bernstein was associated with as conductor: Shostakovich’s aptly named Festive Overture, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.

chichester-psalms-1447933896The Chichester Psalms were composed in 1965 for a choral festival at Chichester Cathedral in England. The Hebrew text comes from several of the Psalms, including Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my Shepherd”). The setting is for a small orchestra of brass, percussion, two harps and strings, with a boy soprano, chorus and soloists.

The boy soprano will be Wade Hartrick of the Boulder Children’s Chorale, Kate Klotz, artistic director. The choral voices will be from the Longmont Chorale, Scott Hamlin, conductor.

The Chichester Psalms were written during the Vietnam War, and their call for unity and peace had both religious and political meanings. “One of the things that I find compelling about (the Chichester Psalms) is the overarching message about unity, and how unity is needed in the world,” Moore says.

“It’s beautiful how Bernstein uses melody and harmony to underscore his message, and the need for peace in the world. I find that to be a compelling message on the one hand, and today in our current political climate.”

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King David as a boy, with harp

The second of the three movements distills Bernstein’s message. It opens with a beautiful melody, the boy soprano singing the 23rd Psalm (“The Lord is my Shepherd”) with harp accompaniment. “The role of the harps is critical because the Psalms were written by King David,” Moore explains. “When David was a boy, he played the harp and sang to King Saul. That’s why there’s a boy soprano accompanied by harps at the beginning of the second movement.”

The melody sung by the boy is taken up by the women of the chorus, who are suddenly interrupted by a violent theme in the men’s voices, singing the 2nd Psalm (“Why do the nations rage”). In the end, the women return with the opening theme, and the two different musical ideas—representing peace and war—are juxtaposed until the end of the movement.

The third movement ends with a moment of hopefulness, as the full chorus sings the 133rd Psalm (“Behold how good and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity”). In a moment of exquisite tone painting, the voices of the choir gently resolve to a single note on the Hebrew word “Yaḥad,” meaning “unity.”

“There’s a lot of tone painting that’s in here,” Moore says. “Its’ a rich, rich score, an absolutely fabulous piece.”

Moore programmed the Shostakovich Festive Overture not only because it is a brilliant concert opener, but because Bernstein programmed and recorded so much of Shostakovich’s music. Shostakovich heard Bernstein performing his Fifth Symphony and other works when the New York Philharmonic toured the Soviet countries in 1959.

Bernstein was known for his flamboyant and exuberant performances, which were not always faithful to the pessimistic side of the Russian composer. “Lenny sometimes did some things in Shostakovich’s music that truly weren’t in the score,” Moore says, “but Shostakovich adored Bernstein.”

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Elliot Moore

The programming of the Mahler symphony points to parallels between the two composer/conductors. “My intention was to draw the link between Bernstein and Mahler, both of whom were music directors of the New York Philharmonic,” Moore says. “At the same time I think there’s a subtler message, that conductors have a role in bringing great music to their audiences, and Bernstein did that with Mahler.”

Moore also sees a link to the theme of the entire season of the LSO. which is “Musical Journeys.” “Mahler’s First Symphony is absolutely a musical journey,” he says. Even before the First Symphony, Mahler had written his “Songs of a Wayfarer,” which described the loss of an unrequited love.

“He continues that narrative in the First Symphony, describing how he’s able to overcome (the loss),” Moore says. “He describes a whole journey that is a beautiful one to know about, a beautiful one to learn about, a beautiful one to listen to and experience in the concert hall, with this First Symphony.

“So this symphony goes along with what we are about this season, which is taking people on a journey.”

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“Happy Birthday, Lenny!”
Longmont Symphony, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Wade Hartrick, boy soprano

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6
Vance Brand Auditorium

Shostakovich: Festive Overture
Bernstein: Chichester Psalms
Mahler: Symphony No. 1

Tickets

NOTE: Corrected Oct. 8 to state that Wade Hartrick is a member of the Boulder Children’s Chorale, not the Colorado Children’s Chorale as was originally written.

Longmont Symphony 2018–19: ‘Musical Journeys,’ Beethoven cycle

Season will include Colorado premieres and two chamber orchestra concerts

By Peter Alexander May 18 at 12:40 a.m.

The Longmont Symphony Orchestra, going into its second season with new conductor Elliot Moore, is aiming high.

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Elliot Moore and the Longmont Symphony Orchestra

Moore’s first season was both financially and artistically successful. Building on that, the LSO has added a second chamber orchestra concert featuring classical-era repertoire at the Stewart Auditorium, and has included ambitious repertoire through the season (see the full listing below).

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Elliot Moore (Digital Lane photography)

“Our audience is telling us that they want more,” Moore says. “The players have proven that they are capable of playing some really fantastic pieces that are very challenging, and doing it at a very high level. We’ve certainly seen that this year.”

The theme of “musical journeys” can be interpreted in more than one way for the coming season. For example, there are a number of pieces that are inspired by or reflect specific places or scenes, including Debussy’s evocation of the sea in La Mer, Smetana’s depiction of a voyage down Bohemia’s Vltava river in The Moldau, and Samuel Barber’s nostalgic recollection of lazy summer nights in Knoxville: Summer of 1915.

But Moore is thinking in broader terms, too. The season’s second main series concert (Nov. 10) celebrates Longmont’s sister city Chino, Japan, by featuring pianist Taka Kigawa—a Juilliard-trained pianist from Chino—as soloist. The same program also celebrates the journey of musical influences across cultures: Kigawa will play Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, which was influenced by American jazz; the orchestra will play the Colorado premiere of How to Relax with Origami by Boulder-based composer Conor Abbott Brown, a piece obviously reflecting on Japanese culture; and the concert will conclude with La Mer, which was partly inspired by a famous woodcut by Japanese artist Hokusai that Debussy owned.

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Christie Conover

There are journeys around America on the season as well. The third concert (Feb. 23, 2019) includes Copland’s familiar music from Rodeo and Libby Larsen’s Cowboy Songs, along with Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and the Colorado premiere of Robert Kurka’s Symphony No. 2. Soprano Christie Conover will be the soloist.

The first concert of the season will be a tribute to Leonard Bernstein—celebrating the 100thanniversary of his birth—including  a performance of his Chichester Psalms with the Longmont Chorale and boy soprano Wade Hetrick. Composers that Bernstein particularly championed will fill out the program with Shostakovich’s Festive Overture and Mahler’s Symphony No. 1.

It turns out that the LSO has already embarked on a musical journey. Their “Museum Concert” in the Stewart Auditorium this past April included Beethoven’s First Symphony. Moore has now announced that was the beginning of a cycle of all nine Beethoven symphonies, to be completed over a 4- or 5-year span. The second of the coming season’s Museum Concerts, April 14, 2019, will add the Second Symphony to the cycle.

Both the Beethoven cycle and the expansion of the chamber orchestra series at the Stewart Auditorium are important parts of Moore’s vision for the orchestra. For 2018–19 there will be two Museum Concerts—Oct. 21 with music of Haydn, Mozart and Richard Danielpour; and April 14, 2019, with music of Beethoven and Shostakovich—and for the following year, three.

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Stewart Auditorium. Photo by Peter Alexander.

“Making sure that we have time to delve into the performance of the classical style” with the chamber orchestra is a part of Moore’s vision, he says. “The orchestra really responded well to learning about that style [this past year], and that will serve us well as we go forward.”

Moore acknowledges that he has not shied away from programming difficult music. “There are certainly aspects that are challenging in this season, but I don’t think it’s that much more challenging,” he says. “They are all programs that the orchestra will sound really great on, that they are able to shine.”

Mahler’s First Symphony and La Mer are two works that give the orchestra the opportunity to shine, but the greatest challenge will come with the last of the main series concerts (April 6, 2019), when Moore has programmed The Moldau, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto with soloist Sharon Roffman, and notably, Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra.

“I’m excited that as our final masterwork we have a work that features all the wind soloists as well as different sections throughout the entire orchestra, and shows the strength of our Longmont Symphony musicians,” Moore says.

In addition to the four main series concerts of orchestra masterworks and the two Museum Concerts, the season will include a Pops Concert, a Family Concert, the usual Nutcracker performances with Boulder Ballet, and the Candelight Concert of holiday music (see all dates below).

Six‐concert subscription packages go on sale on Monday, May 21. Call 303‐772‐5796, 10 a.m.­ to 4 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, or 9 a.m.to 3 p.m. Fridays. The office is closed on Wednesdays.

Series package buyers receive 20% off single ticket prices. Single tickets for Main Series concerts are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and active military, $5 for students age 12–18 ($10 for the pops concert), and free for age 11 and under. Single tickets go on sale on Monday, Aug. 27 via phone and here.

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LONGMONT SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
201819 SEASON
MUSICAL JOURNEYS

CONCERT IN THE PARK

Longmont Youth Symphony, Longmont chorale, Longmont Symphony
11:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 4, 2018
Thompson Park, 420 Bross Street, Longmont
Free and open to the public

MAIN SERIES CONCERTS
All concerts in Vance Brand Auditorium at Skyline High School,
600 East Mountain View Ave., Longmont
Elliot Moore, conductor

Opening Night: Happy Birthday, Lenny!
Longmont Chorale, with Wade Hartrick, boy soprano|
Shostakovich: Festive Overture
Bernstein: Chichester Psalms
Mahler: Symphony No. 1, “Titan”
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6

taka-Ruby Washington:The New York Times

Taka Kigawa. Ruby Washington/The New York Times

A Cultural Affair
With Taka Kigawa, piano
Conor Abbott Brown: How to Relax with Origami (Colorado Premiere)
Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major
Debussy: La Mer
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10 

Sounds of America
With Christie Conover, soprano
Robert Kurka: Symphony No. 2 (Colorado Premiere)
Samuel Barber: Knoxville: Summer of 1915
Libby Larsen: Cowboy Songs
Copland: Rodeo
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23

DSC_3356

Sharon Roffman

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
With Sharon Roffman, violin
Smetana: The Moldau
Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra
7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 6

Pops Concert: The LSO in Space!
Celebrating 60+ years of spaceflight in the auditorium named after astronaut Vance Brand, including film music from Star Wars and E.T. as well as Holst’s The Planets and Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11 

MUSEUM CONCERTS
Stewart Auditorium, Longmont Museum
Elliot Moore, conductor

Alice+VIII_1

Alice Yoo

Haydn & Mozart
Longmont Symphony Chamber Orchestra
With Alice Yoo, cello
Richard Danielpour: Lacrimae Beati
Haydn: Cello Concerto No. 1
Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C major, K551 (“Jupiter”)
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21

Beethoven Cycle
Longmont Symphony Chamber Orchestra
Beethoven: Overture to Egmont
Shostakovich: Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2 in D major, op. 36
4 p.m. Sunday, April 14 

HOLIDAY EVENTS

The Nutcracker with the Boulder Ballet
Elliot Moore, conductor
4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium, Longmont 

Candlelight Concert
Longmont Symphony Chamber Orchestra with the Longmont Chorale Singers
Elliot Moore, conductor
Schubert: Mass in G Major
Carols from around the world
4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16
Westview Presbyterian Church, Longmont

FAMILY MATINEE CONCERT

Elliot Moore, conductor
With the Longmont Youth Symphony
Young Artist Competition Winner, TBA
Erik Kroncke, bass‐baritone
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 5 (Finale)
Michael Close: A Child’s Book of Animals (World Premiere)
4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19
Vance Brand Civic Auditorium

For more information and tickets, click here.

Longmont Symphony offers “spectacularly beautiful music”

“Tales from the Sea” features pieces by Mendelssohn, Elgar and Rimsky-Korsakov

By Peter Alexander April 3 at 5:10 p.m.

One of the things Elliot Moore has heard most about since becoming conductor of the Longmont Symphony is the 2013 flood.

FLOODING

2013 Flood in Longmont (Matthew Jonas/Times-Call)

Moore was first interviewed for the position with the LSO in November of 2016 and he was hired the following spring. The current 2017–18 season is his first with the orchestra.

“I heard over and over that the flood of 2013 was a pivotal moment for Longmont,” he says. “Hearing so many stories about the flood, and how it’s still affecting life today, was the impetus behind this program. Because everyone had a story about the flood, I thought a program around water stories would speak to a Longmont audience.”

Elliot Moore at Lake McIntosh - credit - Photography Maestro (1)

Elliot Moore. Photo by Photography Maestro

The program in question will be performed 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 7) in Vance Brand Auditorium. There are many pieces of music about water, but Moore decided on two short pieces before intermission, and one longer one after: Mendelssohn’s overture The Hebrides to open the concert; Sea Pictures by Edward Elgar, with mezzo-soprano Sarah Barber; and filling the second half of the program, Rimsky-Korsakov’s popular Arabian-nights tone-poem, Scheherazade.

The Hebrides are a group of rugged island off the west coast of Scotland. Mendelssohn visited the islands, and a particularly picturesque cave carved from hexagonal columns of basalt known as “Fingal’s Cave” (another name for Mendelssohn’s overture).

Fingal01

Fingal’s Cave in the Hebrides

“The Hebrides could be described as a postcard that Mendelssohn wrote when he visited the Hebrides,” Moore says. “As an outsider coming into Longmont, all the feelings that people were conveying to me are things that are (in) Mendelssohn’s overture. It’s a nostalgic and lonely piece, but it also includes a communal feeling.”

If Mendelssohn’s overture will be familiar to many in the LSO audience, the same cannot likely be said of Elgar’s Sea Pictures. In fact, it was not well known to Moore before he started preparing for the concert.

“I didn’t know the piece that well when I programmed it,” he admits. “So it’s been a real opportunity for me to get to know the music, and I have fallen in love with this piece. On the program, this is the piece I’m most looking forward to conducting.”

Elgar.Beach.Chair

Sir Edward Elgar at the beach

The Sea Pictures are five short movements, settings for mezzo and orchestra of five different poems by five different poets. “The water represents many things in Sea Pictures,” Moore says.

“It can represent the passage of time, and the feelings and the dangers for people when they’re around water. The third song is about a ship, and it’s a metaphor. The ship is essentially a congregation, and how we relate with other people and survive the challenging moments in our lives.

“It is spectacularly beautiful music that is rarely performed. I’m excited we’re bringing it here.”

SARAH_HOME_Sm-3a

Mezzo Sarah Barber

Barber is a graduate of CU Boulder who has performed extensively in the front range area. She has sung with the Eklund Opera at CU, at Central City Opera, Opera Ft. Collins, the Colorado Symphony, Colorado Springs Philharmonic, and the Black Hills Symphony, among others. Twice a regional finalist of the Metropolitan Opera Guild Competition, she has won other awards in college and professionally.

While the first half of the concert expresses feelings Moore encountered when people talked about the flood—feelings of danger, of uncertainty, of loss—the music of the second half is more exotic and less exclusively about water. Scheherazade is based on the 1001 Nights, in which a young bride keeps herself alive by telling ever more gripping tales to her bloodthirsty husband.

R-3804352-1374178228-1240The piece has four scenes that Rimsky describes in brilliant music that conveys a mood without being too literally programmatic. The first and last scenes are related to water and the sea. The movements are: ”The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship”; “The Kalandar Prince”; “The Young Prince and the Young Princess”; and “Festival at Baghdad. The Sea. The Ship breaks apart against a Cliff surmounted by a Bronze Horseman.”

There is one aspect of the story behind the music that Moore wants the audience to notice. “Over the course of the symphonic work, in many ways it becomes more critical that she tell a great story,” he says. “She’s coming to the end, and the question is, what will the end be? Will it be death?

“You can hear the voice of Scheherazade, which is the violin playing, as it becomes more and more urgent. And the sultan is so dying to know the end that he’s completely wrapped up in this story. So throughout the course of the work there is an evolution of the characters.”

You should also listen to the soloists within the orchestra, because Scheherazade is one of the great orchestra showpieces of the 19th century. “There are a lot of solos, and one of the things that I like about it is that it features all the principal winds—it’s very virtuosic for so many players of the orchestra,” Moore says. “And of course, there’s the violin and there’s the harp as well!

“It’s quite a virtuosic piece for the orchestra.”

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“Tales from the Sea”
Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Elliot Moore, conductor
With Sarah Barber, mezzo-soprano

Elliot Moore with the Longmont Symphony 2_preview.smiling_elk

Elliot Moore with the Longmont Symphony

Mendelssohn: The Hebrides (Fingal’s Cave)
Elgar: Sea Pictures
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

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

Tickets