CU Presents’ 2019–20 season features Grammy winners and nominees

Kronos Quartet returns, Eklund Opera presents It’s a Wonderful Life

By Peter Alexander April 4 at 4:15 p.m.

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CU Macky Auditorium

The coming season of CU Presents at Macky Auditorium will feature the return of the Kronos Quartet, not heard in Boulder since 2014; the first appearance here by A Far Cry string orchestra; and the combination return/first local performance of Jake Heggie’s and Gene Scheer’s opera It’s a Wonderful Life, workshopped at CU in June 2018 and now scheduled for a full production by CU’s Eklund Opera Program.

These and other music, dance and theater events have been announced as part of the 2019-20 season of CU Presents. The full schedule for the season is listed here; see a schedule of the music events below .

In addition to CU’s own Takacs Quartet in their annual series on campus, the Grammy winners on the schedule are Kronos Quartet and the Chick Corea trio. A Far Cry was nominated for Grammys in 2014 and 2018.

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A Far Cry sting orchestra. Photo by Yoon S. Byun.

Founded in Boston in 2007, A Far Cry is an adventurous string orchestra. They are a democratic, self-conducted ensemble in which decisions are made collectively and leadership rotates among the players—or “Criers,” as they like to call themselves. They were recently part of a commissioning project with pianist Simone Dinnerstein for Philp Glass’s Third Piano Concerto, which Dinnerstein played with the Boulder Philharmonic as part of the orchestra’s 2017–18 season.

A Far Cry will perform a new program for the tour that will bring them to Boulder on Feb. 8, 2020. Under the title “Memory,” the program will comprise works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Elgar and Arvo Pärt.

Kronos

Kronos Quartet. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Over 46 years, Kronos Quartet has been known for the innovative programming and presentation of music for string quartet, and especially new works. More than 900 works have been written for Kronos, by composers from all over the world. Their extensive discography, including more than 40 studio albums, has its own Wikipedia entry that also lists compilation albums, video albums, film soundtracks, and Kronos’ contributions with other artists ranging from Linda Ronstadt to Nine Inch Nails.

Kronos has been nominated for a Grammy 11 times, and won twice. In recognition of the 2014 centennial of World War I, in 2014 they presented the film Beyond Zero in Macky. A reconstruction by Bill Morrison of film from World War I, Beyond Zero featured a score by Aleksandra Vrebalov played live by Kronos. For their performance at Macky in March 19, 2020, they will present a new program, “Music for Change: The 60s,” including a celebration of Pete Seeger’s music and a work inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Houston Grand Opera world premiere production of It’s a Wonderful Life

Heggie and Scheer’s It’s a Wonderful Life was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera, with the San Francisco Opera and the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. The opera is based on the 1946 film of the same name, directed by Frank Capra and starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers.

The original production premiered in Houston Dec. 2, 2016, with subsequent performances in San Francisco and Bloomington, Ind. Prior to the premiere, the opera received workshop performances in Boulder in June 2016, through the Eklund Opera’s New Opera Workshop (CU NOW).

The Eklund Opera will present an all-new production of the opera Nov. 15–17, 2019, in Macky Auditorium.

Music events from CU Presents’ 2019–20 season are listed below:

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Artist Series at Macky Auditorium

Music events

Chick Corea Trilogy
with Christian McBride and Brian Blade
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019,
Bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade join Chorea for an evening of Corea classics and jazz standards.

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Nobuntu

Nobuntu
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30
“Nobuntu”—an expression meaning feminine familial love, humility and kindness—is the name of a female a cappella quintet from Zimbabwe that performs traditional Zimbabwean songs, Afro jazz and gospel.

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19

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Natalie McMaster and Donnell Leahy

Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy
“A Celtic Family Christmas”
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17

A Far Cry string orchestra
“Memory”
Music by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Arvo Pärt and Elgar
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020

Kronos Quartet
“Music for Change: The 60s, The Years That Changed America”
7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19, 2020

Holiday Festival

Dec. 6-8, 2019
CU Boulder’s Holiday tradition featuring student choirs, bands and orchestras—along with faculty performers—in a concert of holiday favorites

Takács Quartet at Grusin Music Hall

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Takács Quartet

Chamber Series:
4 p.m. Sundays Sept. 8, Oct. 27, Jan. 12, March 8, May 3
Encore Series:
7:30 p.m. Mondays Sept. 9, Oct. 28, Jan. 13, March 9, May 4

4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 10, and 7:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11: The Takacs Quartet presents the Tesla Quartet

Eklund Opera Program

It’s a Wonderful Life
Music by Jake Heggie; Libretto by Gene Scheer
Nov. 15-17 at Macky Auditorium

The Marriage of Figaro
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte
March 13-15 at Macky Auditorium

Béatrice et Bénédict
Music and libretto by Hector Berlioz, based on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing
April 23-26 at the Music Theatre

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Season tickets for these and other events presented by CU Presents are now on sale and my be purchased here. The complete listing of the CU Presents 2019–20 season, including dance performances and productions of the CU Department of Theater and Dance, may be found here.

 

 

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Boulder Philharmonic Announces season of collaborations for 2015–16

“Reflections: The Spirit of Boulder” will offer soloists, dance, visiting composers, photography, and a great choral work

Michael Butterman. Photo by Glenn Ross

Michael Butterman. Photo by Glenn Ross

By Peter Alexander

Next year will be a season of collaborations for the Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra and music director Michael Butterman.

The 2015–16 season, which has just been announced, will include a broad array of collaborative work, from the usual appearances of renowned visiting soloists to the season finale, a semi-staged performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion presented in conjunction with Central City Opera, the Boulder Bach Festival, and choruses from the CU College of Music.

In between, there will be two visiting composers, a performance enhanced by the photography of John Fielder, two joint performances with Boulder Ballet, and a return of the aerial and stage performers of Cirque de la Symphonie. (Unless otherwise noted, performances mentioned below are at 7:30 p.m. in Macky Auditorium.)

Charles Wetherbee

Charles Wetherbee

Billed as “Reflections: The Spirit of Boulder” (see full schedule below), the season gets underway at 7 p.m. Sept. 13—a Sunday evening performance—with a program featuring two soloists. Charles Wetherbee, the orchestra’s concertmaster will perform The Storyteller, a piece based on Japanese folk tales that was written for him by Korine Fujiwara; and Gabriela Montero will perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Gabriela Montero. Photo by Uli Weber.

Gabriela Montero. Photo by Uli Weber.

Montero is sometimes remembered for her participation in President Obama’s first inaugural, when it was notoriously too cold to play live outside and a recorded performance was substituted, but she is also renowned as a virtuoso pianist who performs to acclaim around the globe. But Butterman is looking forward to her visit for another reason.

“The thing that’s so amazing about her, and quite unique, is her ability to improvise—it’s straight out of another era,” he says. “I‘ve heard her do this a number times and it’s just remarkable— everything from what seems like perfectly worked out Bachian counterpoint to ragtime, to impressionistic, Debussy-esque sort of things.

“What’s so amazing about it is that it seems so beautifully worked out, through all these different styles.”

Charles Den;er/ Photo courtesy of Grumpy Monkey Music.

Charles Denler. Photo courtesy of Grumpy Monkey Music.

The November subscription concert (Nov. 14) will offer the world premier of a new work for piano and orchestra by Denver composer/pianist Charles David Denler, who will also play the solo part. Inspired by the nature writing of American author Henry David Thoreau, Denler’s Portraits in Seasons will be presented with projections of images selected by Colorado photographer John Fielder.

“I would describe the music as certainly tuneful, pictorial, a little bit atmospheric,” Butterman says. “I thought this would be really nice with something to look at and to read. It occurred to everybody that Fielder is so well known and is such a fine artist that we approached him with this particular proposition.”

Fielder has said that to illustrate the seasons, he will choose photographs that are more intimate in scale than many of the large-scale mountain landscapes that he is well known for.

Following the traditional Nutcracker performances over Thanksgiving weekend—this year with new scenery—and the return of the popular “Christmas with the Phil” concerts in December, January will see the orchestra sharing the stage with the Boulder Ballet for a subscription concert. Titled “Dance, American Style,” the Jan. 16 performance will feature the full ballet of Rodeo by Aaron Copland.

Filling out the program will be orchestral performances of the New England Triptych by William Schuman, Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, and three excerpts from Copland’s Billy the Kid.

Anne Akiko Meyers. Photo by Molina Visuals.

Anne Akiko Meyers. Photo by Molina Visuals.

February brings a Friday concert (Feb. 12), with another acclaimed guest soloist, Anne Akiko Meyers playing Mendelssohn’s much loved Violin Concerto in E minor, and the season’s second visiting composer, in the form of an artistic residence by Missy Mazzoli.

Dubbed “the coolest thing to happen to the violin since Stradivari” by the Denver Post, Meyers is one of the leading violin soloists of her generation. Her playing has been featured on practically everything from CBS “Sunday Morning” to “The Good Wife” on television, many CDs, and countless radio broadcasts.

Missy Mazzoli. Photo by Stephen S. Taylor.

Missy Mazzoli. Photo by Stephen S. Taylor.

Missy Mazzoli may not be well known in Colorado, but she is, Butterman says, “a pretty hot composer in the New York scene in particular.” Her week-long residency will include educational activities and chamber performances, as well as the Boulder Phil’s premiere of a new version of her Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres).

The title refers, Butterman explains, not to planets but “the idea of circularity and cycles.” The title takes the 18th-century term “Sinfonia,” in reference to ideas from Baroque music and ornamentation that the composer used.

“It’s not exactly a neo-Baroque piece, but it certainly has some connections to earlier periods,” Butterman says—which led him to the other pieces on the concert program: Shostakovich’s Haydn-esque Symphony No. 9, Tchaikovsky’s Mozartiana and the classically inspired Mendelssohn Violin Concerto.

Boulder Philharmonic with Cirque de la Symphonie. Photo by Glenn Ross.

Boulder Philharmonic with Cirque de la Symphonie. Photo by Glenn Ross.

Cirque de la Symphonie will make its third appearance with the Boulder Philharmonic with two performances, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. April 2. Building off the famed Cirque du Soleil and other cirque programs, the troop presents aerial flyers, acrobats, contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers and strongmen choreographed to classical music.

“What I like about them is their ability to appeal very, very broadly to an audience, but to do so while allowing us to present just great classical music,” Butterman says. Based on their previous appearances in Boulder, he says that the audience will “know the basic concept of what they’re going to see, but their repertoire will be different enough that it will be fresh and people will enjoy it.”

The success of the previous sold-out performances led the Boulder Phil to expand to two performances in 2016, adding the 2 p.m. matinee the same day as the evening concert.

Macky Auditorium

Macky Auditorium

The season-ending semi-staged performance of the St. Matthew Passion will also have two performances, 7 p.m. Saturday, April 23, in Macky Auditorium, and at a time and place to be determined on Sunday, April 24. Although it was written as a sacred oratorio, in modern times the St. Matthew Passion has sometimes been staged. One recent notable production, directed by Peter Sellars with conductor Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, was imported into the U.S. for performances in New York City last year.

“This piece is positively operatic in its sweep and pacing,” Butterman says. “However, I don’t think its been done (in a staged performance) in Colorado.”

The idea originated with a proposal from Central City Opera for some kind of collaboration with Boulder Phil. After various ideas were discussed, the two groups, along with the Boulder Bach Festival and the CU College of Music, settled on the St. Matthew Passion.

“We’re going to do it at Macky, but we’re going to be able to use the space creatively,” Butterman says. “(Central City Opera General/Artistic Director) Pat Pearce said Central City was looking for was some kind of immersive experience, where the audience feels enveloped in the drama.

“The Bach repertoire is delicate for us, because we are not a chamber orchestra, and there is already an entity in town that has laid claim to that. So if we were ever going to tackle something like this, we had to have a reason that was unique enough and compelling enough, and this potential four-way collaboration would be just that.”

In addition to Butterman and players from the Boulder Philharmonic, the performance will feature choruses from the CU College of Music and the Bach Festival Chorus, specialized instrumentalists from the Bach Festival, and stage direction by Central City Opera. The Macky stage will be modified, similar to what the CU does every year for their Holiday Festival.

In addition to the subscription concerts, the Boulder Philharmonic will offer Discovery Concerts for local elementary students, free “Cafe Phil” open rehearsals at the Dairy Center, and “Nature & Music” guided hikes with the cooperation of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks.

Season subscriptions packages are available here. Check the Boulder Philharmonic Web page for more information.

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Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra
2015-2016 Season—Reflections: The Spirit of Boulder

logo2September 13, 2015 (Sunday): Opening Night
Maurice Ravel: Mother Goose Suite
Korine Fujiwara: The Storyteller, with Charles Wetherbee, violin
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No.2, with Gabriela Montero, piano

CANCELED: October 10, 2015: Gregory Alan Isakov with the Boulder Phil
Gregory Alan Isakov, singer-songwriter, guitar

November 14, 2015: Portraits in Season
Johannes Brahms: Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny), with Boulder Chorale
Charles Denler: Portraits in Season, with Charles Denler, piano; photography by John Fielder
Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 2

November 27 through November 29, 2015: The Nutcracker with Boulder Ballet

December 20, 2015: Christmas with the Phil, Venue TBD, Boulder
December 21, 2015: Christmas with the Phil, Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek
December 22, 2015: Christmas with the Phil, Lone Tree Arts Center, Lone Tree, with Boulder Bach Festival Chorus

January 16, 2016: Dance, American Style (with Boulder Ballet)
January 17, 2016: Dance, American Style, St. Luke’s, Highlands Ranch (without dancers)
William Schuman: New England Triptych
Leonard Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Aaron Copland: “Prairie Night,” “Waltz” and “Celebration Dance” from Billy the Kid
Aaron Copland: Rodeo (complete ballet), with Boulder Ballet

February 12, 2016 (Friday): Spheres of Influence
Missy Mazzoli: Sinfonia (for Orbiting Spheres), a Music Alive Composer Residency
Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony No. 9
Pyotr Tchaikovsky: Mozartiana
Felix Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto in E minor, with Anne Akiko Meyers, violin

April 2, 2016: Cirque de la Symphonie (2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.)

April 23 & 24, 2016: Season Finale
Bach: St. Matthew Passion
Semi-staged production with Central City Opera, Boulder Bach Festival & CU Choruses

NOTE: Edited 22 April to reflect an unexpected change in the season schedule.