Fall 2014 Instrumental Music Roundup
A preview by Robin McNeil
Scen3 Fall 2014 Instrumental Music Roundup
This coming concert season is going to be very exciting because it contains some rarely heard music, music that we know, and music which is so important in all of music literature, that you simply must go hear it. Some of the organizations listed below will certainly give you the opportunity to attend their performances because they will perform the same concert more than once.
The Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra is under the leadership of Maestra Cynthia Katsarelis. I have listed two of their concerts below. You must make an attempt to hear the October and the February performance. On October 17th and 18th, Amanda Balestrieri will be performing Samuel Barber’s remarkable Knoxville: Summer of 1915. I have heard her perform this work before and it is breathtaking.
The Pro Musica’s February 6th and 7th, 2015 performances will feature Denver’s own Yumi Hwang-Williams performing the Violin Concerto Nr. 2 by Philip Glass. Yumi Hwang-Williams is so busy fulfilling her duties as Concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony, that she does not often have time to do solo performances. However, make note that she is an absolutely profound, world-class musician, and she knows how to perform Philip Glass. Here’s a link to the website so that you may check times and places of the performances. Note that pre-concert talks begin at 6:30 PM.
This concert season, the Colorado Chamber Players celebrates its 21st Anniversary. The ensemble, voted one of “top five chamber groups” by the Denver Post, will present two programs of interest in October and January. They consistently perform music that is rarely heard, and this season will be no exception. Their first program on Tuesday, October 14, at the Trinity Presbyterian Church, at 7755 Vance Drive in Arvada, will feature Japanese guitarist Masakazu Ito.
He is performing works by Agustin Barrios and Federico Moreno Torroba, and quintets for guitar and string quartet by Leo Brouwer and Luigi Boccherini. I highly recommend the Boccherini (1743-1805) piece: it is absolutely gorgeous. Ito has given world premieres of music by several composers, and has received awards from the Japanese government. He has performed with the Colorado Chamber Players since 2010. Note that there will be a reception following the October 14 performance.
The second program of interest is entitled Testament: The Diary of Bella Berliner. This concert will be performed January 11th at the Boulder Public Library, and on January 13th at Dagwell Hall of St. John’s Cathedral in Denver. It will feature the music of Bach, Mozart, Chopin, and Shostakovich, as well as excerpts from the diary written by Barbara Hamilton’s great-grandmother Bella, written when Bella was in hiding in Utrecht and Amsterdam during World War II. In addition, there is a third concert you will not want to miss. CCP Artistic Director Barbara Hamilton will perform Bela Bartok’s Viola Concerto with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra on Sunday October 19th, 2:30 p.m., Boettcher Concert Hall. Go to http://www.dyao.org/ for ticket information. For more information on the CCP season performances please go to www.coloradochamberplayers.org.
There is a large variety of programming by Augustana Arts, at the Augustana Lutheran Church at 5000 E. Alameda Avenue. The Musica Sacra Chamber Orchestra will give two performances in October on the 17th, at the Colorado Christian University Music Center, and the 18th, at Augustana Lutheran Church. Both of these performances will feature Ottorino Respighi’s Three Botticelli Pictures. Respighi (1879-1936) was an Italian Impressionist composer, and his music needs to be heard considerably more often than it is. Also on the program will be Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess.
Special Guests in 2014-2015 will include in October: Eugenio Fagiani, Italian Organist, bringing us the fabulous Bach Toccata and Fugue in F Major, along with Handel’s famous Royal Fireworks Suite and more. Then, on March 27th, Augustana Arts is pleased to present the exciting Carpe Diem String Quartet in one of their rare Colorado appearances, especially as these acclaimed national performers have a Colorado connection with the addition of violinist Charles Wetherbee, concertmaster of Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra. The Colorado Women’s Chorale will also return and provide highlights of contemporary composer, Gwyneth Walker, in November, and Vivaldi’s Gloria, in the spring! The CWC is honored to be invited to be participating in a festival of Walker’s music at NY’s Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center over Thanksgiving. Please visit the Augustana Arts website for more details.
The Denver Philharmonic Orchestra is the oldest community orchestra in the state. This is their 67th year! It was founded in 1948 by Dr. Antonia Brico, the first woman to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, and several other major orchestras. October 3rd, Guest Conductor Maestro Kornel Thomas, will conduct soprano Elizabeth Baldwin in the performance of Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs. You will not want to miss these pieces as they are the last four works by Richard Strauss, written when he was 84 years of age. On the same program, the DPO will perform Beethoven’s magnificent Symphony Nr. 7, which was first performed in 1813 at a benefit for soldiers who were wounded in the war against Napoleon.
Maestro Lawrence Golan will conduct the November 14th concert, which will include Benjamin Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony Nr. 8. Also included on this program will be Haydn’s Sinfonia concertante in B Flat Major, which will feature will also perform DPO soloists Kimberly Brody, Oboe; Kenneth Greenwald, Bassoon; Katherine Thayer, Violin; and Bryan Scafuri, Cello. As always, the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra’s Christmas concert is not to be missed. Season tickets for the 2014–15 season are on sale now at a discount of 50% for adults and 60% for students and seniors. For more information, visit their website at denverphilharmonic.org.
The Friends of Chamber Music is known for having its season divided into two areas of interest: a Chamber Music Series and a Piano Series. This season, the Emerson String Quartet will return for their 14th performance at the Friends of Chamber Music on October 1st. After forming as a student group, this famous quartet turned professional in 1976. They have been granted many awards and have made many recordings in their thirty-eight years of existence. The only other string quartet that has had the same impact on the musical world as the Emerson Quartet was the Budapest String Quartet. I can guarantee you this is a performance you will not want to miss. This season will also be the first with a new cellist, Paul Watkins. The other members of the group are Eugene Drucker, violin; Philip Setzer, violin; and Lawrence Dutton, viola. The program will include Haydn, Shostakovich’s String Quartet No. 3, and a new work by Lowell Liebermann.
Appearing on the Piano Series will be Hélène Grimaud (9/17), Jeremy Denk (1/21/15), and Jonathan Biss (5/6/15). Unlike Biss and Denk, Hélène Grimaud will perform no sonatas or large works on her program, but believe me, it will be one of the most interesting. She is selecting short works of major composers that all deal with water, such as the Liszt: Les jeux d’eau à la villa d’Este and Luciano Berio’s Wasserklavier. Also, take note that cellist Yo-Yo Ma will be a special guest artist this season with the Friends of Chamber Music. There is no question that this will be a sellout performance, so you will want to get your tickets early. Please go to their website at friendsofchambermusic.com for more information concerning performing organizations and tickets.
The Lakewood Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1977 as the Columbine Chamber Orchestra. Over a period of years, the orchestra went through a number of different names finally settling on the Lakewood Symphony Orchestra. Maestro Matthew Switzer is celebrating his 20th year as conductor of this orchestra. The orchestra performs at the Lakewood Cultural Center at 470 South Allison Parkway in Lakewood. The opening concert on Thursday, October 2nd, 7:30 PM, will include the Brahms Academic Festival Overture (1880) and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto (1878) featuring Sarah Switzer on the violin.
Also on the program is Paul Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis (1943). The Hindemith is based on themes by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826). In February, the Lakewood Symphony will perform Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture and Maurice Ravel’s orchestration of Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. This concert will also feature guest guitar soloist Solomon Silber performing Manuel Ponce’s Concierto del sur for guitar and orchestra. The Lakewood Symphony Orchestra’s website is lakewoodsymphony.org. There, you will find all of the necessary information concerning performance dates and ticket prices.
The Denver Young Artists Orchestra (DYAO) was formed in 1977 under the auspices of the Denver Symphony Orchestra, now the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Founders Betty Naster and Carl Topilow organized the orchestra as a means for Colorado’s most talented young musicians to rehearse and perform together under demanding professional standards. DYAO has operated independently since 1979, and has maintained a close relationship with the CSO. Big news for the DYAO is that Ms. Kelly Waltrip has been appointed as the orchestra’s new Executive Director. Waltrip succeeds Pete Hellyer, who is leaving DYAO after seven years to launch a new school for young musicians.
DYAO’s first concert will be performed twice: October 11th at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge, Colorado, and again on October 19th, at Boettcher Concert Hall. They will perform the Bartok Viola Concerto with guest violist Barbara Hamilton, of the Colorado Chamber Players. In addition, they will perform the Symphony Nr. 1 by Jean Sibelius.
On November 22nd and November 23rd, the DYAO will perform Ottorino Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances, Suite Nr. 3. This program will also include the Wind Concerto Competition Winner. Of course, there will be other concerts demonstrating the performance ability of all five orchestras that make up the DYAO organization. It is important to realize that this is one of the finest youth orchestras in the United States, and I promise that you will be amazed at the dedication the young people in these orchestras have. Please attend. Their website is dyao.org.
The Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra will open its season on September 14th, with a new concertmaster, and a world premiere by composer Stephen Lias entitled Gates of the Arctic. Charles Wetherbee is the new concertmaster, and he is also on the string faculty at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He will play the violin solo at the opening performance and Rimsky-Korsakov’s well-known and loved Scheherazade. The entire 2014-2015 season will be one to remember simply because of the variety of work that is being performed. Each concert will have a title, such as Wings & Spirits where they will perform Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, and The White Peacock by Charles Griffes.
Guest composer/pianist, Conrad Tao, will have his composition, entitled Pangu, performed on the January 17th concert, where he will also perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto Nr. 5 known as the Emperor. This coming season also includes the annual collaboration with Boulder Ballet in The Nutcracker during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend Discovery Concerts for a local elementary school students, the annual Young Artist Concerto Competition, free open rehearsal nights in partnership with the Derry Center for the Arts, and a preview performance of St. Luke’s Methodist Church in Highlands Ranch on September 13th. In addition, the Boulder Phil will continue its popular “Nature & Music” guided hikes with Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks, spotlighting musical selections inspired by nature. For information on the coming season visit the Boulder Phil website.
For those of you who are big band jazz aficionados, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra has many open rehearsals at the Community of Christ Church on Marion Street in Denver. This is a big band jazz group that is exclusively organized for charitable and educational purposes. They encourage education in the field of jazz, and they regularly work with high schools and middle schools to provide a venue for the students and members to perform and explore big band jazz music. On September 12th, they will give a performance at the Highlands Ranch Mansion on East Gateway Drive, and on September 19th they will perform again with the group known as Pink Champagne at the Lowry Town Center which is located at 200 Quebec St. in Denver. Please refer to their website for the performance calendar as well as their rehearsals.