Boulder Phil unveils new season, new motto, new logos

2019–20 season, labelled “Let’s play,” features pop elements throughout

By Peter Alexander April 7 at 3 p.m.

The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra—now officially aka “Boulder Phil”—unveiled their coming season, a new logo, and a new motto at an event for friends and supporters of orchestra Thursday evening, April 4.

B.Phil logoAcknowledging popular practice, the name “Boulder Phil” has been incorporated into the official logo. The logo itself is actually three related symbols, all of them playfully swirling swoops and curls. And in the same spirit, the new motto, for the orchestra and for the season, is “Let’s play.”


Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead

All of that reflects the 2019–20 season’s programming, which includes some familiar classical masterpieces and also elements popular in the culture at large and with Boulder audiences: Music by Jonny Greenwood of the alt-rock band Radiohead and by Jon Lord of Deep Purple; the return to the Boulder Phil of the piano duo Anderson & Roe, a Boulder audience favorite since their 2016 performance with the orchestra; a screening of the popular film Raiders of the Lost Ark with the John Williams score performed live onstage; and a concert of “The Music of Queen.”

The mixture of popular and classical ingredients is obvious from the very first concert, titled “Gritty/Pretty” (Oct. 12–13). Two of the works on the program are by Greenwood and Lord, two successful rock musicians who have turned to classical composition. Greenwood has written several orchestral scores for film, including the Academy Award-winning There will be Blood. The Phil will perform a suite from Greenwood’s score for the film, which suggested the “Gritty” part of the concert’s title.


Jon Lord

Lord, who was both a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and honorary Doctor of Music, was a composer of orchestral scores for more than 30 years, alongside his work with Deep Purple. Boulder Phil music director Michael Butterman says that he heard Lord’s To Notice Such Things, a six-movement suite for solo flute, piano and strings, while driving, and was so taken with the music that he stopped to find out what it was.

Not being up on rock performers, he admits that he thought “who?” when the piece was announced, but he went on to learn about Lord, and the piece, which was written in memory of one of Lord’s close friends. The Phil performance will feature the orchestra’s principal flutist, Elizabeth Sadilek-Labenski.

Also on the same program is Schubert’s Fifth Symphony which, along with Lord’s score, suggested the “Pretty” part of the title.


Anderson & Roe. Photo by Ken Schles.

Other nods to popular music in the program will be obvious: “Raiders of the Lost Ark in Concert” (Oct. 27) and “The Music of Queen” (Feb. 15, 2020) from Windborne Music, the same organization that produced “The Music of David Bowie” for the current season (May 4). Not directly from the pop music canon, but certainly popular with Boulder audiences will be the return of the piano duo Anderson and Roe (Jan. 25), whose highly entertaining performance style captivated Boulder Phil audiences in 2016.

Two pieces on the program will be arrangements by Greg Anderson, half of the duo: Ragtime alla Turca, based on Mozart’s “Rondo all turca” for piano, and Danse macabre bacchanale, based on music by Saint-Saëns. The same program will see Butterman join Anderson and Roe for Mozart’s Concerto for Three pianos, and a performance of Mozart’s joyful “Haffner” Symphony.


Zuill Bailley

Other returning guest soloists during the season will be cellist Zuill Bailey, playing Michael Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway for cello and orchestra (Feb. 22) and violinist Jennifer Koh, playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (April 25). The latter concert will feature two pieces with accompanying visuals. Circuits by Cindy McTee will have visuals by computer graphics artist Aleksi Moriarty; and Alan Hovhaness’ Symphony No. 2, Mysterious Mountain, will have visuals by adventurer-composer Stephen Lias, whose compositions Gates of the Arctic and All the Songs that Nature Sings were premiered by the Boulder Phil in past seasons.

F.FLyers (2013)

Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance with the Boulder Phil (2013)

Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance will appear with the Boulder Phil for the first time since their joint performance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in 2017, providing aerial choreography for the Butterfly Lovers Concerto by Chinese composers He Zhanhao and Chen Gang. The violin solo will be played by the Phil’s concertmaster, Charles Wetherbee.


The concert—rather hopefully titled “Rebirth of Spring”—will be presented March 21 and 22. Other works on the program will be Resurrexit by Mason Bates, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture and Stravinsky’s Suite from The Firebird.

Lopez Gavilan

Aldo López Gavilan

“Latin Fire & Boléro,” the concert scheduled Nov. 3, will introduce a new soloist to Boulder audiences, Aldo López Gavilán. The Cuban-born composer/pianist will play his own Emporium, a concerto for piano and orchestra, on a program that also features two works by Argentinian composers: Astor Piazzolla’s Tangazo, and Alberto Ginastera’s virtuoso orchestral piece Variaciones concertantes, which assigns each of nine variations to a different solo instrument from the orchestra. Closing out the program will be Ravel’s Boléro.

Other events that will be part of the season will be the annual Nutcracker performances with Boulder Ballet, Nov. 29–Dec. 1; and a new Holiday concert, “Christmas with the Phil,” Dec. 21–23. The latter will feature the Christmas section of Handel’s Messiah, and other seasonal music. Performances will be in more intimate venues than Macky Auditorium, including Boulder’s Mountain View United Methodist Church.

The full 2019–20 season of the Boulder Phil is listed below. Season tickets are currently on sale here.

# # # # #

Boulder Phil 2019–20 Season
All concerts at Macky Auditorium unless otherwise specified

B.Phil logo.3

Michael Butterman, conductor, with Elizabeth Sadilek-Labenski, flute

Jonny Greenwood: Suite from There Will Be Blood
Jon Lord: To Notice Such Things
Schubert: Symphony No. 5

2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 13, 2 p.m. at Pinnacle PAC

51K8ouYrHeL._SY445_“Raiders of the Lost Ark in Concert”
Film screening with live orchestral performance of John Williams’s score
Gary Lewis, conductor
4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27

“Latin Fire & Boléro”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Aldo López Gavilán, piano

Astor Piazzolla: Tangazo
Aldo López Gavilán: Emporium
Alberto Ginastera: Variaciones concertantes
Ravel: Boléro

7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3

Nutcracker Ballet by Tchaikovsky
With Boulder Ballet
Gary Lewis, conductor


Boulder Ballet’s Nutcacker. Photo by Eli Akerstein

2 p.m. Friday, Nov.29
2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30,
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1

“Christmas with the Phil”
Gary Lewis, conductor

Handel: Messiah (Part I: Christmas section) and other works

7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21, Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek, Colo.
2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22, Mountain View United Methodist Church, Boulder
7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 23, Lone Tree Arts Center, Lone Tree, Colo.

“Anderson & Roe Return!”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe, duo-pianists

Gabriel Fauré: Masques et Bergamasques
Mozart: Concerto for Three Pianos, K242
Mozart/Anderson: Ragtime alla Turca
Mozart: Symphony No. 35 (“Haffner”)
Saint-Saëns/Anderson: Danse macabre bacchanale

Saturday, Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m.

“The Music of Queen”
Brent Havens, conductor
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15


Michael Daugherty

“Hemingway Portraits & Sibelius”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Zuill Bailey, cello

Michael Daugherty: Tales of Hemingway
Sibelius: Symphony No. 2

Saturday, February 22, 7:30 p.m.

“Rebirth of Spring”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Frequent Flyers Aerial Dance and Charles Wetherbee, violin


Mason Bates. Photo by Lydia Danmiller

Mason Bates: Resurrexit,
He Zhanhao and Chen Gang: Butterfly Lovers Concerto
Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture
Stravinsky: Suite from The Firebird (1919)

7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21
2 p.m. Sunday, March 22, at Pinnacle PAC

“Beethoven & Beyond”
Michael Butterman, conductor, with Jennifer Koh, violin

B.Phil logo.2Cindy McTee: Circuits, with visuals by Aleksi Moriarty
Alan Hovhaness: Symphony No. 2, Mysterious Mountain, with visuals by Stephen Lias
Beethoven: Violin Concerto

7:30 p.m. Saturday, April

Tickets and more information: Five- and six-concert subscription packages are now available; click here or call 303-449-1343. Single tickets go on sale June 1, 2019.


Legendary Concertos Wrap Up Boulder Phil Season

Orchestra presents popular works by Dvořák and Bartók

The entire orchestra will be in the solo spotlight when the Boulder Phil performs Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra

The entire orchestra will be in the solo spotlight when the Boulder Phil performs Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra

By Peter Alexander

The Boulder Philharmonic will conclude its season Saturday (April 24) with “Legendary Virtuosity,” a concert featuring two of the most popular pieces in the orchestra repertoire—coincidentally, both written in the United States.

Both are concertos that call on the virtuosity of the performers, although only one is written for a soloist with orchestra. Dvořák wrote his Cello Concerto in New York in 1894, near the end of his tenure at the National Conservatory of Music. And almost 50 years later, Bartók, a refugee from a European war and working at a retreat in upstate New York, had the idea of featuring the entire orchestra in his Concerto for Orchestra, completed in 1943.

The concert, at 7:30 p.m. in Macky Auditorium, will open with the atmospheric Enchanted Lake of Russian composer Anatoly Liadov. The Boulder Phil’s music director Michael Butterman will conduct, and cellist Zuill Bailey will be the soloist for Dvořák. Tickets are available from the Boulder Phil.

Zuill Bailey

Zuill Bailey

Dvořák taught at the National Conservatory during parts of three years, 1892–94. In the spring of 1894 he heard a new cello concerto by one of his colleagues at the conservatory, the Irish-American cellist and composer, Victor Herbert. Best known for his operettas, including Naughty Marietta and Babes in Toyland, Herbert was an accomplished cellist who had led the cello section at the premiere of Dvořák’s New World Symphony at Carnegie Hall the year before.

Inspired by Herbert’s concerto, and later touched by the death of his sister-in-law—by legend the one true love of his life—Dvořák wrote a work of broad and deep emotional reach. It has remained one of the most beloved works in the repertoire.

“This is a piece that gets deeper as one gets older,” Bailey says. “It is never a piece that I tire of. In fact, I’m always amazed at the goosebumps that happen before my entrance. This has never failed me.

“This is why the orchestras, and audiences, so adore this concerto. Every single time it’s another journey.”

Butterman speaks of the score’s melodic richness as part of its appeal. “Like much of Dvorak’s music it has an abundance of melodic elements that just keep coming at you, one after another,” he says. “He never seemed to run dry.”

Michael Butterman

Michael Butterman

Bailey believes Dvořák not only wrote a great concerto for the cello, he changed the very nature of the concerto. “He changed the landscape of how things were done,” he says. “This is a symphony with a cello part—a very heroic cello part.”

Bailey is pleased to be making his first Boulder concerto appearance with Butterman and the Phil. “I am thrilled to be working with maestro Butterman,” he says. “I think he is one of the great collaborators out there. Every time I’ve worked with him it’s been an absolute pleasure, and it’s really terrific that we get to share the Dvořák (Concerto).”

Butterman reciprocates the compliment. “I’m delighted to have Bailey come into Boulder,” he says. “He’s a wonderful artist, a very intense and charismatic performer.”

Composer Béla Bartók

Composer Béla Bartók

If the name Bartók suggests difficult modern music, you may not know The Concerto for Orchestra. Written in the last years of Bartók’s life, it is a deliberately accessible piece that at times is downright comical. At one point the orchestra breaks into musical laughter at an interruption by a borrowed melody, and the second movement makes great fun of presenting each of the woodwind instrument pairs matched at different intervals.

“A lot of people may see the name Bartók and think about music that is written in some language that they find foreign sounding,” Butterman says. “But this is a piece that continues to be one of the most popular 20th-century works in the orchestral canon—for good reason.

“It was chosen as kind of bookend to our season opener, Scheherazade, a piece that featured our new concertmaster. (The Concerto for Orchestra) doesn’t put the spotlight on any one person, but on the orchestra as a whole, and particularly the wind section. The solo passages allow you to hear the virtuosity of the orchestra, and the different timbres that make up its character. This is a piece that is incredibly engaging rhythmically and melodically.”

Orchestra players typically relish the chance to play The Concerto for Orchestra. “It’s fun to play, but you’ve got to concentrate like mad,” Butterman says. “There’s a lot of little things that can trip you up, rhythmically in particular, but it works out so well.”

Anatoly Liadov

Anatoly Liadov

The Enchanted Lake is one of the few works left by a very talented composer who was, Butterman says, “an underperforming worker. This is a composer who famously said, ‘Naw, I don’t think I want to do that Firebird piece—there’s this kid Stravinsky, I’m sure he’ll do it for you.’”

Whether or not he really passed on composing The Firebird, Liadov created a quiet masterpiece in The Enchanted Lake, which remains one of the most performed short orchestral tone poems in the repertoire. “It’s a piece that sets a mood and does it very effectively and very beautifully,” Butterman says. “It’s gorgeous.

“The story was that he went down to this lake and just stood there for half an hour or so, watching the whole expanse of things. Essentially nothing happened, so he went home and wrote a piece about it (where) he’s trying to create an atmosphere of absolute placidity and calm and stillness. I think that is its own profundity and depth, if you’re able to capture that sense of stasis and calm.

“This is a beautiful way to begin a concert, because you’ve just come in from parking and hoofing it up the hill, and maybe you just need a moment to settle in. I think this piece allows you to get those beta brain waves flowing.”

# # # # #

logo2Legendary Virtuosity: Season Finale
Boulder Philharmonic, Michael Butterman, music director
With Zuill Bailey, cello

The Enchanted Lake by Anatoly Liadov
Cello Concerto in B minor by Antonín Dvořák
Concerto for Orchestra by Béla Bartók

7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25
Macky Auditorium

Related events:

Musical Hike. Enchanted Lakes: Music and Pond Ecology
With naturalist Dave Sutherland
5:30–8 p.m., Tuesday, April 21, Sawhill Ponds

Café Phil open rehearsal
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, The Diary Center

Michael Butterman presents 2015-2016 season.
6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 25, Macky Auditorium (free to concert ticket holders)