Dvořák’s “underrated masterpiece”

Boulder Symphony and Boulder Chorale join forces for the Stabat Mater

By Peter Alexander May 9, 2019 at 9:30 p.m.

Violin

Photo courtesy of Boulder Symphony

Antonín Dvořák has written some of the most, and least, familiar works in the classical music repertoire.

On the one hand are the “New World” Symphony, the Cello Concerto—both written in the United States—and a handful of other pieces that are immediately recognizable to most concertgoers. And on the other hand are many pieces almost never heard outside of the composer’s native Bohemia, including most of Dvořák’s operas and almost all of his sacred vocal music.

Among the latter is the Stabat Mater, a large-scale religious cantata for chorus, orchestra and four soloists, based on the 13th-century sacred hymn text “Stabat mater dolorosa” (Grieving mother, standing at the cross). Now the Boulder Symphony and the Boulder Chorale have joined forces to bring Boulder audiences a piece that conductor Vicki Burrichter calls “an underrated masterpiece.”

Burrichter, who is artistic director of the Boulder Chorale, will conduct the performances Saturday and Sunday, May 11 and 12.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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“Spirit”
Boulder Symphony with the Boulder Chorale
Vicki Burrichter, conductor

J.S. Bach: Concerto for oboe, violin and strings
Keynes Chen, violin and leader; Ingrid Anderson, oboe

Dvořák: Stabat Mater
Julianne Davis, soprano; Clea Huston, mezzo-soprano; Jason Baldwin, tenor; and Malcolm Ulbrick, baritone

7 p.m. Saturday, May 11
2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 12
First Presbyterian Church, 1820 15thSt., Boulder

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Boulder Chorale brings Mardi Gras music from New Orleans

Guerrilla Fanfare Brass Band adds solid “second line” sound

By Peter Alexander March 7 at 8 p.m.

Conductor Vicki Burrichter and the Boulder Chorale want their audiences to have a good time.

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Conductor Vicki Burrichter with members of the Boulder Chorale

Mardi Gras just being over, “a good time” suggests New Orleans’s raucous celebration of that festival. And so Boulder Chorale’s next concert this Saturday and Sunday (4 p.m. March 9 and 10 at First United Methodist Church in Boulder) is titled “A Very Boulder Mardi Gras.” With some of the music and the traditions of the famous New Orleans Mardi Gras as part of the performance, it will be, Burrichter says, “pretty fun and rowdy.”

“What I’m trying to do is get as close to an authentic New Orleans experience as we can.”

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Mardi Gras in New Orleans

That means more than just having a few Dixieland tunes played during the concert, she says. “For me that’s not very authentic. There’s so much more to the music of New Orleans than Dixieland.”

To get closer to the real thing, she invited guests, including the Guerilla Fanfare Brass Band, to recreate the atmosphere of the New Orleans “second line” parades. There will be music by New Orleans musicians including Trombone Shorty and Dr. John. The concert program ends with the traditional Mardi Gras song “Iko, Iko,” followed by a second-line style parade out of the church to the music of the Rebirth Brass Band’s “Do Whatcha Wanna.”

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New Orleans second-line parade

If you are unfamiliar with the New Orleans second-line tradition, it can be described as the parade after the parade—the people who follow the official parade, dancing and singing and generally enjoying themselves. This has turned into a form of parade with a brass band leading and a crowd following—what has been described as “a jazz funeral without a body.”

Today second-line parades are a regular part of the New Orleans music scene.

Burrichter was inspired to bring second lining to Boulder when she experienced it first hand. A few years ago she was at a conference in New Orleans and had Sunday off. “I went and joined a second line,” she says. “Every Sunday there’s a band that will do that, and they take different routes through the various neighborhoods.

“You dance and you sing, and it was one of the most incredible artistic experiences I’ve ever had. It was very, very moving and fun, so I thought if I ever do a concert about New Orleans, I want to have a second line band there.“

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Guerrilla Fanfare Brass Band

The group she invited to fill that role, the Guerrilla Fanfare Brass Band, was founded in 2015 by tuba player Zach Brake and some friends from the University of Colorado. In 2018 they were named Colorado’s best brass band by Denver’s Westword magazine. Today the full group numbers 12 musicians, trumpets, trombones, saxophone and drums.

They play typical second-line tunes from the Rebirth Brass Band, a Grammy winning New Orleans band, as well as traditional jazz, pop covers, and their own original music. “Our big thing is we’re really energetic,” Brake says.

“If possible we try to get off the stage and walk around. The bigger the crowd is, the more we get into it.”

Performing in concert with the Chorale is different from their usual shows, Brake says, but that’s a good thing. “It’s pretty outside what we normally do,” he says. “This one has been pretty exciting to do.”

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Bob Chilcott

In addition to music from the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration, there will be one composed piece for choir. The central piece on the program will be “A Little Jazz Mass” by former member of The King’s Singers Bob Chilcott, which Burrichter included to show the influence of New Orleans and jazz around the world

“It’s just a stunning piece,” she says. “The chorus loves it. I think the audience will love it, too.”

Other pieces on the listed program include “Ring Shout/Piece of Mind” from Wynton Marsalis’s Congo Square, arranged by Adam Waite and featuring vocalist Craig Robertson; “I Feel Like Funkin’ It Up” from the Rebirth Brass Band; Dr. John’s “Goin’ Back to New Orleans”; “Basin Street Blues”; and Trombone Shorty’s “Hurricane Season,” as a tribute to New Orleans’s suffering and recovery from hurricane Katrina.

Other guest artists will include a jazz trio for Chilcott’s “Little Jazz Mass”: Neil Dreger, bass; Kyle Liss, piano; and Ari Rubinstein, percussion.

Burrichter stresses that the program is full of fun music for everyone. In fact, outside of the 12-minute “Little Jazz Mass,” there is not any traditional concert music where the choir stands still and sings. “This is a family concert,” she says. “Bring the kids and everybody can dance.

“This is not going to be an uptight concert.”

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“A Very Boulder Mardi Gras”Ripley-BC-adults-12-2016-crop

Boulder Concert Chorale, Vicki Burrichter, director
With Guerilla Fanfare Brass Band
4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, March 9 and 10
First United Methodist Church. Boulder

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Handel’s ‘Messiah,’ tailored for the Christmas season

Pro Musica Colorado and Boulder Chamber Chorale combine for performances

By Peter Alexander Nov. 29 at 3 p.m .

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Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra, with conductor Cynthia Katsarelis

It’s been 276 years, and people are still talking about Handel’s Messiah.

Of course, it’s one of the best known and best loved pieces ever written, but that does not make it immune to controversy. One thorny subject is that it has become the quintessential Christmas piece.

But Messiah was not written for Christmas, and only about a third of it has anything to do with Christmas. The rest takes the story through Easter and the Resurrection. The first performances were given in April, 1742, during Lent, and most performances in Handel’s lifetime followed that pattern.

Many people consider performances of the entire piece during the Christmas season inappropriate. Conductor Cynthia Katsarelis is one of those people, but she has found a way to reconcile Messiah’s popularity at Christmas with its content. With the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, the Boulder Chamber Chorale and soloists, she will lead performances Dec. 1 and 2 of what she calls “a Christmas version.”

“We’re doing the Christmas section, plus,” she explains. In addition to the full Part One, which is the Christmas portion of the oratorio, “we use elements from Part Two and Part Three that illuminate why this birth is so important.”

The Boulder performances will include a food drive for Community Food Share. Audience members are encouraged to bring non-perishable, packaged food items, such as canned goods, cereal and pasta to be collected at the performances.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Handel’s Messiah
Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra, Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor
With the Boulder Chamber Chorale, Vicki Burrichter, artistic director
Jennifer Bird, soprano; Leah Creek Biesterfeld, alto; Stephen Soph, tenor; Adam Ewing, baritone

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1
3 p.m. Sunday, Dec 2
Mountain View Methodist, 355 Ponca Pl., Boulder

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Boulder Chorale presents the music of Cuba Oct. 27–28

Music of Tito Puente, Buena Vista Social Club, Gloria Estefan is featured

By Peter Alexander Oct. 25 at 9:35 p.m.

© Glenn Ross | www.glennrossphoto.com

Boulder Chorale and Children’s Choirs. Photo by Glenn Ross.

Choral conductor Vicki Burrichter went to Cuba in 2003.

Suzanne Morales

Guest artist Suzanne Morales

It took 15 years, but that trip has led to a concert of Cuban choral music in Boulder. Burrichter is now the artistic director and conductor of the Boulder Chorale, who will present “¡Viva Cuba!” Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 27 and 28). The Chorale will be joined by vocal soloist Suzanne Morales; the Boulder Children’s Chorale Bel Canto Choir, the oldest age-group of the Chorale’s children’s choirs; and the Boulder Chorale Cuban Allstars, an instrumental ensemble hired especially for the occasion.

Bel Canto will sing with the adult Chorale for the opening number, “Chan Chan,” and present a couple of their own pieces as well. Morales and the Cuban Allstars will perform on their own in between the choral sections of the concert.

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Vicki Burrichter. Photo by Bob Evans.

Burrichter has been drawn to Cuban music since she took the Colorado College Women’s Chorus to Cuba in 2003, but the concert is part of a larger mission for her. “My favorite thing is to look for ways to bring music of other cultures into the choral world,” she says. “I’m always trying to bring more cross-cultural music to the world of choral music, along with all the traditional things that we do.

“The Cuban concert is going to be really exciting!”

She also sees a theme behind the theme of Cuban music, explaining, “as Carlos Santana said, ‘I don’t play Latin music, I play African music.’ I’m such a lover of all things that have to do with African rhythms, whether it’s Brazilian music, or Cuban music—I love that.”

Santana and Burrichter are pointing to the cultural origin of the musical styles, and particularly the rhythms, that dominate music through Latin America, in addition to American jazz, blues and gospel styles: the music brought to the Americas by the African slave trade. “I’m going to start the concert with just the percussion doing kind of an African rhythm, so that people get the idea,” Burrichter explains.

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Members of Buena Vista Social Club

For the rest of the concert, the names of the composers may not be familiar, but many of the songs will be, having been popularized by some of the leading Latin performers. For example, the very first piece, “Chan Chan,” was popularized by the Buena Vista Social Club, an ensemble formed in 1996 to preserve the music of pre-revolutionary Cuba. Buena Vista Social Club became famous when they toured the United States in 1998 and were the subject of a widely shown documentary film by German filmmaker Wim Wenders released in 1999.

Other parts of the program feature music that is even more familiar to American audiences. “We’re doing Guantanamera, which everybody knows,” Burrichter says.

“There’s a lot of famous salsa songs and Latin dance music. We’ve got [Tito Puente’s] ‘Oye Como Va,’ which was made very famous by Santana. ‘Cúcula,‘ ‘La Vida es un Carnaval’ (Life is a carnival) and ‘Quimbara,’ are Celia Cruz pieces, and ‘Conga’ was Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine.”

Burrichter doesn’t want you to think of this as another staid classical music concert. “This is not going to be a concert where you’re going to have to sit quietly in your seats,” she says. “If you know the music, you can sing along!”

And she implied that dancing in the aisles will not be discouraged. “The Latin dance medley is going to be really exciting!” she says. “People will love that.”

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The concert represents a collaboration between the Boulder Chorale and Intercambio, an organization that offers English classes for adults, cultural awareness workshops, and other classes aimed at immigrants in Boulder County. Another collaborator is Boulder’s Rayback Collective at 2775 Valmont Rd., where there will be a gathering for musicians and audience members alike following Sunday’s concert.

Slides will be shown during the performance taken by Jenny Desmond of Intercambio, during her visits to Cuba.

Both performances will be preceded by a pre-concert lecture by Susan Thomas, director of the CU American Music Research Center and a scholar of Cuban music.

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 ¡Viva Cuba!

Boulder Concert Chorale with the Boulder Children’s Chorale Bel Canto Choir
Boulder Chorale Cuban Allstars instrumental ensemble
Suzanne Morales, vocal soloist
Vicki Burrichter, artistic director and conductor

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28
Performances preceded by a pre-concert talk by Susan Thomas, director of the CU American Music Research Center
Boulder Adventist Church, 345 Mapleton Ave., Boulder

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Grace Notes: Brief news items from the classical music scene in Boulder

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By Peter Alexander Aug. 20 at 9:45 p.m.

Boulder Chamber Orchestra hires executive director—The Board of Directors of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra announced earlier this summer that Courtney Huffman has been appointed as the organization’s executive director.

The executive director’s responsibilities had been handled by Bahman Saless, founder and artistic director of the BCO. After 14 years, he is now ready to leave administrative duties to Huffman in order to focus on the music.

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Courtney Huffman

“I have loved and cherished very moment and I am ready to take a step back and lighten the administrative load knowing that the orchestra is in good hands,” he said in a news release.

Huffman first joined the BCO organization three years ago as managing director. She had left in 2017 to work for an educational non-profit organization in Denver, but returned to Boulder when offered the position with the BCO.

“I am beyond excited to be returning to Boulder to lead the orchestra,” she said in the BCO’s news release. “I have loved classical music since I was a little girl, and this organization feels like home to me. I am honored to be able to ring in the orchestra’s 15thseason.”

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MahlerFest also hires an executive director—Colorado MahlerFest recently hired its first executive director.

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Ethan Hecht

In a decision announced in July, MahlerFest hired Ethan Hecht as executive director after 31 seasons of performances. MahlerFest’s announcement notes that the festival has grown since the 2015 hiring of Kenneth Woods as the its second artistic director. The festival has added both workshops and a masterclass for young conductors, and introduced “festival artists” who are featured both in the MahlerFest orchestra and in chamber music performances during the festival.

According to the announcement from the festival, “the board looked to expand the administrative operations of the festival.” Hecht has performed at MahlerFest as the orchestra’s principal violist, and he has extensive administrative experience with Colorado Music Festival and Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra. He is currently executive director of the Boulder Chorale.

MahlerFest board president David Auerbach was quoted in the announcement of Hecht’s appointment: “This is a major investment in the future of the festival . . .We are very excited [Hecht] has joined the team.”

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Pro Music Colorado announces 2018–19 season—The Pro Musical Colorado Chamber Orchestra has announced their 2018–19 season, titled “Classical Evolution!”

Photography by Glenn Ross. http://on.fb.me/16KNsgK

Cynthia Katsarelis

The central performance and likely audience favorite of the season will be Handel’s Messiah, to be presented Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 and 2, at Mountain View United Methodist Church, 355 Ponca Place in Boulder. The performance under conductor Cynthia Katsarelis will feature guests soloists to be announced later and the Boulder Chamber Chorale with artistic director Vicki Burrichter.

Mountain View Methodist, which has ample on-site parking, has become the orchestra’s home base in Boulder. All three of the season’s programs will be presented there. In addition, their September concert will be performed in Denver at Central Presbyterian Church, and the season-closing concert in February will be performed at the First Baptist Church of Denver and at the Stewart Auditorium in Longmont.

Here is the full 2018-19 season of Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra:

“Women Among Men”
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, Central Presbyterian Church, Denver
2 pm. Sunday, Sept. 23, Mountain View Methodist Church, Boulder
Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with Yumi Hwang-Williams, violin, and Amanda Balestrieri, soprano

Wolfgang A. Mozart: Serenade No. 6 for Orchestra in D major K. 239, Serenata notturna
Grazyna Bacewicz: Concerto for String Orchestra
Franz Joseph Haydn: Violin Concerto in C Major
Johann Sebastian Bach: Die Schätzbarkeit der weiten Erde (The treasure of the world), aria from Cantata 204

Handel’s Messiah
Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with the Boulder Chamber Chorale, Vicki Burrichter, conductor, and soloists tba.
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, Mountain View Presbyterian Church, Boulder
3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2, Mountain View Presbyterian Church, Boulder

“21st-Century Style”
Cynthia Katsarelis, conductor, with Jory Vinikour, harpsichord
7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, First Baptist Church of Denver
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, Mountain View Methodist Church, Boulder
2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, Stewart Auditorium, Longmont

Max Wolpert: Harpsichord Concerto No. 1, “Baroque in Mirror” (World Premiere)
Philip Glass: Concerto for Harpsichord and Chamber Orchestra
Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 22 (“The Philosopher”)

More information and tickets here.

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CU Faculty Tuesdays start Aug. 28—The CU College of Music’s “Faculty Tuesdays” series starts next week, at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 28, in Grusin Hall of the Imig Music Building.

The first of the fall series of faculty recitals at CU will feature violinist Charles Wetherbee and pianist David Korevaar, performing three works: the Sonata for Violin and Piano in B minor of Ottorino Respighi; the Poeme op. 25 by Ernest Chausson; and one of the great masterpieces of violin repertoire, Beethoven’s Violin Sonata in A major op. 47, known as the “Kreutzer” Sonata.

You may check the full fall schedule for “Faculty Tuesdays” on the College of Music Web page. Note also that if you cannot make the trip to the CU campus for any of the performances, they are live-streamed every week through this Web page.

 

 

Jazz sextet, tap dancer, vocalist and choir? It must be Ellington!

Boulder Chorale will present Ellington’s ‘Sacred Concerts’ May 19–20

By Peter Alexander May 17 at 10:15 p.m.

Duke Ellington, jazz legend, pianist and band leader, spent the last decade of his life creating and presenting “sacred concerts.” Described by one critic as “bringing the Cotton Club to church,” Ellington considered them “the most important thing I have ever done.”

© Glenn Ross | www.glennrossphoto.com

Vicki Burrichter, conductor of the Boulder Chorale

Now conductor Vicki Burrichter and the Boulder Chorale are bringing the Ellington Sacred Concerts to Boulder. Joining Burrichter and the Chorale will be vocalist Joslyn Ford-Keel and tap dancer — a performer specified in the score — David Sharp.

Burrichter lists several reasons to perform the Sacred Concerts. “First of all, I love Ellington,” she says. “I think he was the greatest genius of jazz, as a composer certainly. And I always look for jazz masterworks for chorus. There aren’t that many of them, so when I find something by a composer as elevated by Ellington. It needs to be shared in the community.”

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts
Boulder Chorale, Vicki Burrichter, director
With Joslyn Ford-Keel, vocalist, and David Sharp, tap dancer

7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19
4 p.m. Sunday, May 20
First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder

Tickets

Boulder Chamber Orchestra returns to Mozart’s Requiem with Boulder Chorale

Performance will be more transparent than before—and ‘happier’

By Peter Alexander March 29 at 10:15 p.m.

bconew_1Bahman Saless and the Boulder Chamber Orchestra are returning to old territory and making new discoveries.

Friday and Saturday(March 30–31) Saless and the BCO are performing the Mozart Requiem, which they first performed in 2011. But there will be a number of differences from that earlier performance: then they performed with Ars Nova singers, now they will perform with the Boulder Chorale Chamber Choir under Vicki Burrichter. Then they had about 50 singers, now they will have 40 singers and a smaller orchestra.

Then Saless left the choral preparation and the coaching of the soloists entirely to Ars Nova’s conductor, Thomas Edward Morgan; now he is taking a larger role in both. And, he says, he performance will be more transparent and more polished.

He almost makes it sound like a different piece. But it’s not the piece that has changed; it’s Saless, who admits to having been intimidated by the work the first time.

Read more in Boulder Weekly.

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Mozart: Requiem
Boulder Chamber Orchestra and Boulder Chorale
Bahman Saless, conductor
With Ekaterina Kotcherguina, soprano; Clea Huston, mezzo-soprano; James Baumgardner, tenor; and Malcolm Ulbrick, bass

7:30p.m. Friday, March 30, Broomfield Auditorium, Broomfield
8 p.m. Saturday, March 31, Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Boulder

Tickets