Peter Oundjian wants Colorado Music Festival to be dynamic, “exciting, a celebration”

First year as Music Director will be ‘about consolidating, preparing’ for the future

By Peter Alexander June 6 at  3:15 p.m.

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Peter Oundjian

Violinist/conductor Peter Oundjian served as artistic advisor of the Colorado Music Festival for the 2018 season, a position halfway between giving advice and being responsible for the season’s programming. He conducted three of the six weeks of orchestral concerts and invited some of the guest artists, in a season that featured works by American composers.

Now, he has been appointed the CMF’s fourth-ever music director, making 2019, in a way, “his” festival. “I guess you’re right,” he says thoughtfully about that observation, and then goes on talk in general terms about what he would like CMF to be under his direction.

“A festival should be a celebration,” he says. “I want it to be really dynamic, really exciting, with artists from all over the world., making concerts really appealing and building larger audiences.”

He is still conducting about half of the orchestral concerts, but he has shaped the programming of the entire 2019 festival and given the orchestra series an explicit theme. In anticipation with the 250thanniversary in 2020 of Beethoven’s birth, the 2019 season is an exploration of Beethoven’s influence on music that came after him, from the 19ththrough the 20thcenturies.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

The full summer schedule and ticket information for the 2019 Colorado Music Festival may be found here.

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Colorado Music Festival announces Music Director and 2019 season

Peter Oundjian takes the helm for a season exploring Beethoven’s influence

By Peter Alexander Feb. 5 at 6 p.m.

Peter Oundjian, Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

Peter Oundjian. Photo by Dale Wilcox.

The Colorado Music Festival has announced that distinguished conductor and violinist Peter Oundjian will be the festival’s music director.

Oundjian, who served as the Artistic Advisor for the 2018 festival, becomes the fourth music director in CMF’s 42-year history. Previous music directors were Giora Bernstein (1977–2000), Michael Christie (2001–2013) and Jean-Marie Zeitouni (2015–2017). Oundjian will lead seven concert programs during the six-week summer season, which runs June 28 to Aug. 3.

Other conductors appearing with the CMF orchestra will be the former music director Jean-Marie Zeitouni, for two concert programs; David Danzmayr, who appeared as guest conductor in 2018, for two concert programs; and Pittsburgh Symphony associate conductor Earl Lee, who will lead the family concert July 7 (see full schedule below).

The move to CMF marks a transition in Oundjian’s career. The former first violinist of the Tokyo String Quartet (1981–95), he recently concluded tenure as music director of the Toronto Symphony (2004–18) and the Scottish National Orchestra (2012–18). In a news release from the CMF, Oundjian is quoted: “After leading a number of orchestras year-round, this [summer festival] is an exciting change of pace.”

Elizabeth McGuire, the CMF’s executive director, said that Oundjian’s appearances at the festival in 2018 convinced the CMF board to offer him a contract. “His rapport with the audience is at a level that I’ve never experienced,” she says. “He makes each individual audience member feel as if he’s talking directly to them.”

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Peter Oundjioan with the CMF Festival Orchestra. Photo by Michael Quam.

She also praised his ability to make connections between different pieces and programs in a way that fits the Boulder audience. “He has a real depth of understanding of the history and the people and their lives, and he really makes deep connections between the pieces,” she says. “In 2018, that was one of the things that really appealed to us.

“Because he’s so knowledgeable, he’s able to extract details from that big picture and make connections between concerts that are really interesting and play into Boulder’s sense of highly-educated concertgoers. And despite his amazing talents as a performer, he’s very down to earth and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. That’s what makes him good for Boulder.”

The 2019 festival continues the basic pattern of recent seasons: Festival Orchestra concerts on Thursday and Friday evenings, separate orchestral programs on Sunday evenings, and chamber concerts on Tuesdays. Four of the six Festival Orchestra concerts will be presented twice, as Thursday-Friday pairs. The season opens Thursday, June 27, and concludes with the “Season Finale” concert Saturday, Aug. 3. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. in Boulder’s historic Chautauqua Auditorium.

One theme of the 2019 season is the influence of Beethoven on the music of the 19thand 20thcenturies. This theme was developed by Oundjian in anticipation of the 250thanniversary of Beethoven’s birth, to be celebrated in 2020, and represents the kind of comprehensive season planning that McGuire likes. “We appreciated that he was able to conceive of an entire season with one underlying common denominator,” she says.

Jan-Swafford

Jan Swafford

This year many of the orchestral works include a work by Beethoven and works that are in some ways related to or influenced by Beethoven’s music. The season concludes with Mahler’s Third Symphony, which was heavily influenced by Beethoven, including references to Beethoven’s last string quartet in the symphony’s finale. As part of exploration of Beethoven’s influence on later generations, the scholar Jan Swafford, author of Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph (2014) will present an evening of discussion of the composer.

A two-concert mini-festival will be devoted to music by Mozart. Titled “Magnificent Mozart,” the concerts July 21 and 28 will feature works in several genres including symphonies, concertos and a divertimento.

The summer’s extensive list of guest artists features pianist Natasha Paremski, violinist James Ehnes, pianist Jon Kimura Parker, pianist Coco Ma, violinist Jan Vogler, violist Mira Wang, pianist Lilya Zilberstein; pianist Gabriela Montero, violinist Stefan Jackiw, cellist Kian Soltani, clarinetist Jörg Widmann, violinist Robert McDuffie, mezzo-soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme, the ensemble Really Inventive Stuff, the St. Martin’s Festival Singers, and the Boulder Children’s Chorale.

Tickets to CMF performances can be purchased through the Chautauqua Box Office (303-440-7666). The box office is currently accepting renewals of previous CMF season subscriptions. New subscriptions and single tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, March 18.

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COLORADO MUSIC FESTIVAL
Schedule of Concerts, 2019 Season
All performances at the Chautauqua Concert Hall

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Chautauqua Auditorium. Photo by Jonathan B. Auerbach.

7:30 p.m. Thursday& Friday, June 27 & 28
OPENING NIGHT: BEETHOVEN’S PATH TO ROMANTICISM
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Natasha Paremski, piano

Paremski

Natasha Paremski

Beethoven: Egmont Overture
Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2
Verdi: La forza del destino Overture
Respighi: Pines of Rome

7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 30
BEETHOVEN’S PATH TO MODERNISM
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with James Ehnes, violin

Berlioz: Roman Carnival Overture
Mendelssohn: Violin Concerto
R. Strauss: Wind Serenade
Beethoven: Grosse Fuge

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 2
BRAHMS & DVOŘÁK
CMF Chamber Players

Brahms: Trio for Horn, Violin and Piano in E-Flat Major
Dvořák: Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major

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Jon Kimura Parker

7:30 p.m. Friday July 5
REVOLUTION AND FREEDOM
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jon Kimura Parker, piano

Copland: Outdoor Overture
Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F
Rossini: La gazza ladra Overture
Tchaikovsky: Overture 1812
Sousa: “Washington Post March”; “Liberty Bell March”; “Stars and Stripes Forever”

3 p.m. Sunday, July 7
FAMILY CONCERT “PETER AND THE WOLF”

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Earl Lee

Earl Lee, conductor, with Really Inventive Stuff ensemble

Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals
Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
Sensory-friendly Performance

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 9
STRINGS AT SUNSET
CMF Chamber Players

Mozart: String Trio in B Flat Major for Two Violins and Cello
Boccherini: String Trio No. 5 in G Minor
Dvořák: String Quintet in G Major

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Jean-Marie Zeitouni

7:30 p.m. Thursday & Friday July 11 & 12, 7:30 PM
ROMANTIC DUOS
Jean-Marie Zeitouni, conductor, with Mira Wang, violin, and Jan Vogler, cello

Fauré: Pelleas et Mélisande Suite
Brahms: Concerto for Violin and Violoncello
Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Overture
Roussel: Bacchus et Ariane, Suite No. 2

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 14
BEETHOVEN’S PATH TO NEOCLASSICISM
Conductor: Jean-Marie Zeitouni, with Lilya Zilberstein, piano

Beethoven: Symphony No. 1
Stravinsky: Symphony in Three Movements
Prokofiev: Piano Concerto No. 3

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 16
QUINTESSENTIAL HARP
CMF Chamber Players

Arnold Bax: Quintet for Harp and String Quartet
Ravel: Introduction and Allegro for Harp, Flute, Clarinet
Ravel: String Quartet
Brahms: String Sextet No. 1 in B-flat Major

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Gabriela Montero. Photo by Colin Bell.

7:30 p.m. Thursday & Friday, July 18 & 19
TCHAIKOVSKY’S SYMPHONY NO. 6 “PATHETIQUE”
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Gabriela Montero, piano

Golijov: Sidereus
Grieg: Piano Concerto
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 6 (“Pathétique”)

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 21
MAGNIFICENT MOZART MINI-FESTIVAL I
David Danzmayr, conductor, with Stefan Jackiw, violin

Mozart: Symphony No. 32
Violin Concerto No. 5 (“Turkish”)
Overture from Don Giovanni
Symphony No. 38 (“Prague”)

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 23
RUSSIAN MASTERS
CMF Chamber Players

Shostakovich: Piano Trio No. 1 in C Minor
Tchaikovsky: Piano Trio in A Minor

7:30 p.m. Thursday & Friday, July 25 & 26
SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE
Peter Oundjian, conductor with Kian Soltani, cello

Vivian Fung: Dust Devils
Shostakovich: Cello Concerto No. 1
Berlioz: Symphonie fantastique

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Jörg Widman. Photo by Marco Borggreve

7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 28
MAGNIFICENT MOZART MINI-FESTIVAL II
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Jörg Widmann, clarinet

Mozart: Divertimento in D Major
Clarinet Concerto in A major
Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter”

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1
BEETHOVEN’S PATH TO MINIMALISM
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Robert McDuffie, violin

Beethoven: Symphony No. 6 (“Pastoral”)
Philip Glass: Violin Concerto No. 1

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Janice Chandler-Eteme

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3
FESTIVAL FINALE
Peter Oundjian, conductor, with Janice Chandler-Eteme, mezzo-soprano, St. Martin’s Festival Singers and the Boulder Children’s Chorale

Mahler: Symphony No. 3

Each Thursday and Friday night orchestral concert will be preceded by a “Talk Under the Tent,” just outside the North doors to Chautauqua Auditorium. Talks will be presented by scholars, journalists, and CMF musicians.

Previous Subscription may currently be renewed. New subscriptions and single tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Monday, March 18.
Purchase tickets through the Chautauqua Box Office HERE or by phone at 303-440-7666.

 

CMF concert has four highlights, each presented with great polish

Augustin Hadelich a soloist to remember in the Barber Violin Concerto.

By Peter Alexander July 27 at 1:15 a.m.

The Colorado Music Festival presented a remarkable orchestra concert last night (July 26), even by their high standards, featuring four works composed in America, all of them worth hearing and all of them presented with great polish.

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CMF artist advisor Peter Oundjian (photo by Jaime Hogge)

The CMF orchestra was conducted by the festival’s artistic advisor, Peter Oundjian, who has devoted his programs this summer to music with American connections. Appearing with Oundjian was violinist Augustin Hadelich, whose performance of the Barber Violin Concerto would be a highlight on any program. But so were, each in their own way, the other three works on the concert.

Barber’s Concerto is unquestionably one of the greatest works by an American composer. No piece starts more enticingly, with music of seductive beauty. Hadelich was in command from the first note, playing with an incomparably sweet tone that easily carried to the back of the hall without a hint of harshness, then turning on a dime to skip through the concerto’s playful moments.

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Violinist Augustin Hadelich

The expressive beauty of his playing served him well in the second movement, a distillation of the late Romantic love of pure sound, with only occasional glimpses of the darker side of the 20th century. The finale, a famously virtuosic display of perpetual motion, went in a blaze of fireworks, zipping past without a single slip. In every facet of the concerto, Hadelich was a soloist to remember.

As if that were not enough, he came back for an encore, playing a Paganini Caprice just to show that no, his fingers are not tired. After the concerto, it was striking to hear the violin alone, every sound exposed. And it sounded just the way it looks on the page, every note right where it should be. The violinist who accompanied me to the concert whispered, “Perfect. That’s all you have to say.”

The concert opened with Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes by Carl Maria von Weber, a boisterous and entertaining work that showcases just about every section of the orchestra, including percussion. Weber’s charming early-Romantic ideas are run through Hindemith’s late Romantic filter, adding a lot of instrumental color, a lot of variation, and an occasional harmonic twist to make an attractive, audience-friendly concert piece. Oundjian’s performance loved the orchestral colors of the score and let them shine. It was all great fun, as it is meant to be.

After intermission, the orchestra’s string section returned for George Walker’s Lyric for Strings. Like Barber’s Adagio for Strings, which it resembles, this is a movement from a string quartet arranged for string orchestra. Walker uses the string instruments’ ability to sustain long musical lines, expand into a rich, deep texture, and play ethereal chords that drift into silence. The CMF players filled the hall with luxurious sounds.

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Gerald Finley as Oppenheimer in Doctor Atomic at the Metropolitan Opera

The final member of the quartet of fascinating pieces was the Doctor Atomic Symphony by John Adams, comprising music from Adams’ 2005 opera about Robert Oppenheimer and the first test of an atomic bomb in 1945. The opera compellingly captures the pressures and conflicts experienced by Oppenheimer and the other scientists of the Manhattan Project as the date of the first test approached, as well as the pressure felt and exerted by Gen. Leslie Groves, the Army’s commander for the project. (Doctor Atomic is currently being produced by the Santa Fe Opera. Learn more here.)

All of this is transferred into the Symphony, which contains music of ominous intensity. To my ears, this is one of the most dramatic, most powerful, and most effective new orchestral works I have heard in recent years, and it was played with great force and sheer virtuosity by the CMF orchestra. Individual solos—especially the trumpet’s eloquent interpretation of Oppenheimer’s aria from John Donne’s sonnet “Batter my heart, three person’d God”—were all played very well.

One of the central issues and greatest sources of conflict in the opera is weather, with thunderstorms threatening to cancel the long-awaited test. Perhaps it was coincidence, but the CMF performance was powerful enough that it seemed to stir up its own sudden thunderstorm that lasted beyond a long ovation.

Just like the actual test in 1945, the audience departure from the auditorium had to be delayed. But just as in 1945, the storm passed, and to all appearances the audience went home more than satisfied with what they heard.

CMF Orch.by Eric Berlin

Oundjian debuts at CMF with stunning program, riveting performance

Pianist Yefim Bronfman adds luster to the evening

By Peter Alexander July 13 at 12:25 a.m.

Peter Oundjian, the current artistic advisor of the Colorado Music Festival, last night (July 12) made his first appearance leading the Festival Orchestra. He had selected a stunning program and delivered a vivid and riveting performance.

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Peter Oundjian, artistic advisor to CMF

Oundjian and the orchestra opened with a brash, zesty performance of Leonard Bernstein’s well known Overture to Candide. This bustling overture won the audience from the first notes, as it always does, getting the concert started on a bright note.

Next on the program, Oundjian brought on a friend from his student days at Juilliard, the widely esteemed Soviet-born Israeli-American pianist Yefim Bronfman, for a performance of Brahms’ First Piano Concerto in D minor. Oundjian explained the esoteric relationship to the Bernstein Overture: That Bernstein had given a speech before a notorious 1962 performance of the same concerto with pianist Glenn Gould, disavowing Gould’s interpretation while endorsing his right as a performer.

He reassured the audience, however, that he and Bronfman would not duplicate the conflict between Bernstein and Gould.

After Bernstein, the orchestra produced a noticeably darker sound for Brahms. From the very beginning, Oundjian established the contrast between the power of Brahms’ opening phrase and the lyrical sections that followed. In particular, he showed an ability to spin out melodies over a long musical span, a skill that Bronfman duplicated in his playing. Oundjian’s support for the soloist was exemplary.

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Pianist Yefim Bronfman

For his part, Bronfman demonstrated both the strength and the lyrical warmth that Brahms demands of the soloist, while producing a beautiful sound from the piano. His playing was carefully controlled, down to the most delicate passages. This is a killer concerto—Bronfman called it “terrifying”—but he more than survived; he conquered.

Bronfman has said that playing the second movement is almost a religious experience. He conveyed that depth of feeling throughout, once again elegantly spinning out phrase after long lyrical phrase.

The rousing finale wants to drain all of a performer’s energy, but Bronfman seemed to rise comfortably to the challenge—and then to prove the point, tossed off a muscular performance of Chopin’s “Revolutionary” Etude as encore. His grand virtuosity and musicianship added luster to the evening.

Is this the season for hijinks between movements? On both of his concerts earlier, guest conductor Marcelo Lehninger offered comments between movements of larger works. Last night, Bronfman acknowledged a scattering of applause after the admittedly virtuosic and impressive first movement with a quick bow from the bench. This elicited laughter, and in turn he and Oundjian—old pals—chatted briefly between themselves.

The concert closed with a work that is not well known, as I heard audience members saying on the way from the auditorium: Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances. The last work he completed, these fantastic dances (as Rachmaninoff initially proposed naming the work) are a sort of reflection on mortality. In fact, the last of the three includes the Gregorian Chant for the Requiem Mass, Dies Irae, a theme that Rachmaninoff brought into a number of his works.

The flighty beginning of the first dance was exquisitely played, and the vast contrasts of dynamics, rising from the slightest gestures to powerful climaxes and fading back into nothingness gave great drama to the music. Oundjian has said this is one of his favorite pieces, and as he performs it, finding all the expressive depth and beauty it contains, it is easy to see why.

The powerful performance showed just what the CMF orchestra is capable of. The score requires a rich string sound and great virtuosity from the winds, all within a musical fabric of great flexibility. It is a sure sign of Oundjian’s orchestra leadership that the performance succeeded at such a high level.

A special word should be said for the woodwind, horn and trumpet sections, in both Brahms and Rachmaninoff. I heard the delicate horn solos in the Brahms, the saxophone solo in the first Rachmaninoff dance, the exposed trumpet entrances, the rare (and no doubt relished) star turns by the bass clarinet, the bassoons and all the other woodwinds with great pleasure.

Last night’s program will be repeated tonight at the Chautauqua Auditorium. You may purchase tickets here.

NOTE: Edited for clarity July 13.

 

 

CMF artistic advisor Peter Oundjian will lead concerts with Bernstein theme

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

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

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

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Peter Oundjian. Photo by Jaime Hogge.

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

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

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

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full calendar

Tickets

Guest conductors launch 2018 Colorado Music Festival

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

By Peter Alexander June 28 at 12 noon

CMF Orch.by Eric Berlin

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

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

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

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

 

Colorado Music Festival features illustrious soloists during 2018 season

Fresh Fridays return, Mashups and Happy Hour Concerts do not

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

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

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CMF artistic advisor Peter Oundjian. Photo by Jaime Hogge.

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

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

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

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

Olga Kern

Pianist Olga Kern returns to the CMF Aug. 4

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

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

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Pianist Yefim Bronfman. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

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

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

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

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

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Leonard Bernstein, whose centennial shapes much of the festival

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

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Peter Oundjian

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

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

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

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Jean-Marie Zeitouni

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

# # # # #

Colorado Music Festival
Peter Oundjian, Artistic Advisor
2018 Season

chautauqua-boulder-coloradoAll concerts at Chautauqua Auditorium

 

WEEK 1

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

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

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

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

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

WEEK 2 

Gabriela Martinez:Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

Gabriela Martinez. By Lisa-Marie Maszucco

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

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

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

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

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

WEEK 3

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

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

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

robert_mcduffiebyChristianSteiner

Robert McDuffie. By Christian Steiner

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

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

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

WEEK 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WEEK 5

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

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

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

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

1922 Michelle DeYoung HI RES_blur ART 1 version

Michelle DeYoung

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

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

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

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

WEEK 6

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

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

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

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

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

 _____________________ 

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

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

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

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

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