Opus Colorado


St.Martin’s Chamber Choir in Three Performances of “A Cambridge Christmas”
November 25, 2014, 4:05 pm
Filed under: News

WHO: 24 voices, Timothy J. Krueger, conductor, Ralph Valentine, organist, Jimmy Howe, Mark Sheldon Conducting Intern

WHAT: Carols commissioned by the various choirs of Cambridge University (King’s, Trinity, St. John’s, Gonville & Caius) plus carol arrangements for choir and audience with organ. Music by Sir David Willcocks, Peter Maxwell Davies, Judith Weir, Harold Darke, John Taverner, Jonathan Dove, Herbert Howells, Ralph Vaughan Williams and others.

WHEN/WHERE:Friday, December 12, 7:30 pm
Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church
1980 Dahlia Street
Denver CO 80220

Sunday, December 14, 3:00 pm
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
4500 Wadsworth Boulevard
Wheat Ridge CO 80033

Friday, December 19, 7:30 pm
Saint John’s Episcopal Cathedral
1350 Washington Street
Denver CO 80203

TICKETS:Premium $35, General Admission $25, Student $10
Online at http://www.stmartinschamberchoir.org, by phone 303-298-1970, or at the door for each performance.

Premium seating for Friday, Dec. 19 is sold out.

For further information call 303-298-1970 or email info@stmartinschamberchoir.org



Boulder Chamber Orchestra Presents “A Gift of Music”
November 23, 2014, 5:55 pm
Filed under: News

 

Special guest Seicento Baroque Ensemble

The Boulder Chamber Orchestra (BCO) will present “A Gift of Music,” a special holiday concert with guest Seicento Baroque Ensemble on Friday, December 19, 2014 at the First United Methodist Church of Boulder at 7:30 PM and on Saturday, December 20, 2014 at the Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church of Denver at 7:30 PM.

The concert includes:
• Vivaldi, Gloria
• Richard Toensing, When Beings of Fire Sang Praises with Beings of Clay
• Special Holiday Selections

Event:    “A Gift of Music” – Boulder Chamber Orchestra

Date/Location:   
December 19, 2014 7:30 pm at the First United Methodist Church of Boulder, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder, CO 80302

December 20, 2014 7:30 pm at the Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church of Denver, 1980 Dahlia St., Denver, CO 80220

Admission: $25 General Admission, $18 Seniors, $12 Students, $5 Children 12 & Under

Box Office:    Call (303) 583-1278 or visit http://www.boulderchamberorchestra.org for tickets.

About the Boulder Chamber Orchestra
The Boulder Chamber Orchestra (BCO) is a non-profit organization committed to providing exceptional chamber music programming, education, and outreach, as well as an outlet for talented local artists in the Front Range Community.

For More Information Contact:
Jennifer Slater, Managing Director, Boulder Chamber Orchestra
(303) 583-1278 jennifer@boulderchamberorchestra.org



Silver Ainomäe and the Colorado Symphony are Masterful!

Saturday evening, November 22, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Andrew Litton, performed two enormous works: Antonín Dvořák’s Cello Concerto in B minor, Opus 104 with Principal Cellist, Silver Ainomäe, and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Symphony Nr. 2 in E minor, Opus 27. It pleases me greatly to let you readers know that Boettcher Hall was almost full. It is my sincere hope that the audience attended in anticipation of Silver Ainomäe’s performance of the Dvořák because he is a true artist and an amazing cellist. In addition, he must be one of the youngest Principal Cellists in the United States.

I will quote from the biographical statement on his website:

“From his 2000 solo debut with the Estonian National Orchestra, Silver Ainomäe has performed in over 30 countries, including concertos with the Finnish Radio Orchestra, Zürich Chamber Orchestra, Tallinn Chamber Orchestra, Polish Radio Orchestra, and the Colorado Symphony. He has won prizes in international cello competitions in Warsaw, Helsinki, and Tongyeong (South Korea) and awards in London and Rome.

“Born in Estonia, Silver moved with his family to Finland in 1990. He was accepted into the celebrated Sibelius Academy to study with Hannu Kiiski and Arto Noras, ultimately receiving his Masters degree. He went on to London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama and later to the Razumovsky Academy, where he studied with Oleg Kogan.

“Currently Principal Cellist of the Colorado Symphony, Silver has served as guest Principal with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He is a founding member of the Hwang-Ainomäe-Hsu Trio (with CSO Concertmaster Yumi Hwang-Williams and Steinway Artist Hsing-ay Hsu), which the Denver Post described as ‘a powerhouse ensemble.’”

The Dvořák concerto begins with a lengthy introduction in which two themes are stated, but when the solo cello begins, it plays the first theme. I was absolutely struck by Ainomäe’s opening attacks: the germinal notes of the theme are marked to be quite emphatic, but they reminded me very much of Janos Starker’s opening, which was always very firm with strong strokes of the bow. However, many cellists don’t play it with quite the right emphasis, and it was wonderful to hear Ainomäe be so assertive. It left little doubt that he knows exactly what he wants to do with this work. On the other hand, why wouldn’t it be that way? He is a wonderful cellist who understands what the composer asked for. His double stops were sensational and his playing in the A theme of this concerto was quite vigorous. The B theme of the first movement is lyrical and lush, and Ainomäe gave it unparalleled warmth. I wish I knew what kind of a cello Silver Ainomäe owns. It has a remarkably lush sound, rich and full, and it seemed quite easy for Ainomäe to produce such a sonorous melodic line. This richness carried over into the second movement in a wonderful theme from “Leave me alone” from Dvořák’s Four Songs, Op. 82. Dvořák had inserted this theme as a dedication to his sister-in-law, Josefina Kaunitzová, who was seriously ill. When he returned home from America, her health deteriorated, and she died in 1895. At one time, he had been in love with her, but she had rejected him. Through several turns of life’s vicissitudes, he eventually married her sister, and in order that this concerto would be a memorial to her, he completely revised the coda, using this song for the second time. The third movement of this concerto begins with hints from the first movement themes and contains a marvelous duet between the solo cello and the concertmaster.

Throughout this concerto, every section in the orchestra seems to receive special attention from Dvořák. The woodwind and brass sections were outstanding, and it was truly apparent that the orchestra enjoyed supporting one of their own as soloist. Since Maestro Andrew Litton became the Music Director of the Colorado Symphony, there has been a marked change in their approach to performing. It reflects a new enthusiasm that I have mentioned before, and a new determination from each musician in the orchestra to demonstrate their excitement at having Maestro Litton as their conductor.

Silver Ainomäe received a very long standing ovation, and he graciously performed a cello quartet with the first three seats in the cello section. I wish he had announced what piece they were playing, but I must say it did sound like it could have been Elgar.

Following the intermission, Maestro Litton and the Colorado Symphony performed Rachmaninoff’s Symphony Nr. 2 in E minor. In early 1906, Rachmaninoff moved to Dresden from Moscow because of the rumblings of political unrest, and the fact that he was so busy in Russia as a conductor and composer, he had no time for performing on the piano. After his arrival in Dresden, the move proved to be so conducive to his musical life that he wrote his first piano sonata, and the second symphony. This symphony received rave reviews from everyone who heard it.

This is an absolutely enormous work, and I must say I was quite pleased that Maestro Litton knows this piece so incredibly well that he chose to conduct from memory. He conducted every nuance of every phrase magnificently, and missed none of the rhythmic jabs that are so characteristic of Rachmaninoff. The detail with which he conducted from memory was truly astounding: nothing was omitted and nothing was left to chance. The first movement begins with a very long introduction which contains the origins for everything that follows. The entire symphony uses the full resources of every member of the orchestra, and every time I have heard this performed live, I have been struck by how difficult it must be for everyone. William Hill on timpani was sensational throughout. Jason Shafer, Principal Clarinet, has one of the most beautiful melodic lines in symphonic history in the third movement. Its mellowness is due not only to his outstanding ability, but Rachmaninoff scored the work for A clarinet, rather than B-flat clarinet. Yumi Hwang-Williams took over this theme, and continued its incredible nuance with great gentleness. It is impossible to name everyone in the orchestra, but you readers must understand the high level of ability of every member of the Colorado Symphony. In such a difficult work as this, it was spellbinding to hear such complete musicality and musicianship coming from everyone on stage in such an earnest and compelling manner. The Colorado Symphony Orchestra as a whole simply proved that it is comprised of some of the finest musicians in the country. The audience responded to this performance with a standing ovation, and I must say that the audience seems to have grown more sophisticated since Maestro Litton has taken over the conductorship. When I make a statement like that, it means that Maestro Litton and the orchestra have re-educated the audience, and given them a new standard by which to judge the Colorado Symphony. This was a performance that demonstrated the mutuality of respect of everyone on stage.



Opera Colorado’s Madama Butterfly: Stunning, Emotional, Memorable

When one hears Opera Colorado performances, one cannot help but be thoughtful of the fact that we in Denver are lucky to be here. We have a remarkable triumvirate of organizations: the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Ballet, and Opera Colorado. Of course, one would think that in a city the size of Denver, there would be that kind of diversity, and there often is. However, it is a sad fact that in some cities who have that kind of diversity, excellence is often lacking. That is not the case with the Denver.

The performance Friday evening of Puccini’s well-known Madama Butterfly was absolutely stunning. The singing was superb, as was the orchestra, and the scenery and sets were excellent as well. I hasten to point out that the scenery and sets were highlighted (no pun intended) by the remarkable lighting design by Lucas Krech. His artistry amplified the already excellent scenery so that time changes between morning, noon, and night were amplified and dramatic.

Xiu Ying Li sang the role of Butterfly with such emotion from wondrous joy to unspeakable tragedy, that it kept me on my seat for the full length of the opera. One of Giacomo Puccini’s skills in composing operas was his remarkable way of creating extended musical units out of obvious, but previously unused techniques (by other composers), such as using the full instrumental resources to reinforce the arias and recitative. For example, there is a very poignant scene in the last act, wherein Butterfly and her attendant Suzuki have an aria and recitative exchange discussing Pinkerton’s disputed return. This exchange was made more powerful by Puccini’s use of the orchestra which, I believe, was rather new, opposed to the traditional, almost dry use of orchestra, in arias and recitatives. He uses the same technique in the last act of La Bohème when Rodolfo, facing the audience as he sings his aria, is unaware of the fact that Mimi, on the couch behind him and surrounded by friends, has died. He then turns to them and grasps the tragedy of the situation. Puccini’s attention to orchestration is the same. Obviously, Puccini was concentrating on the dramatic and expressive content, but the combination of the excellent voices on stage, and the superb conducting by Ari Pelto, made the scene overwhelming.

This was the first appearance with Opera Colorado for several of the cast members: Xiu Ying Li as Butterfly, Erika Brookhyser as Suzuki, and Dinyar Vania as Pinkerton. These three individuals, including John Hancock as Sharpless, have absolutely remarkable (there’s that word again) voices. Their vocal production made it easy for them to be very expressive, and their musicianship and dramatic ability brought everything to an astounding fine point in almost every phrase. Dinyar Vania, as the young and feckless sailor, was truly believable in his disregard for Butterfly and the pain he caused. His excellent tenor voice made it easy for the audience to grasp his personality of a young and carefree individual. He was absolutely stellar in his role, to the point where the audience gave him resounding “boos” at the curtain call at the end of the performance. Booing Pinkerton is almost a tradition in some opera houses in Italy, no matter how splendidly the tenor sings his role.

Baritone John Hancock, as the American Consul, was often strained in his dealings with Pinkerton, and it was clear that he saw Pinkerton’s immaturity and the harm that he was doing to Butterfly. His baritone voice is very light, and it left me wondering if he could sing Heldentenor roles in such operas as Wagner’s Parsifal. Erika Brookhyser’s role as Suzuki is truly a mezzo soprano, and that is Erika Brookhyser. However, her voice is a little higher and so lyrical and so serene, that I wondered if she could sing a soprano were role as well. I have attended many operas in my time, and I was startled by the beauty of Erika Brookhyser’s voice.

Anthony Webb, tenor, also had his Opera Colorado debut Friday evening. He sang the role of Goro, a Japanese marriage broker. His character’s job was to find desperate young women who wanted to be married to escape impoverished lives. His role almost provided comic relief, and yet it was tempered by his own knowledge that he was fairly disreputable. But it was wonderful hearing such a fine voice as Anthony Webb’s in a minor role.

And that brings me to a major point: Opera Colorado is not just another local “opera group.” It is a first-class, professional opera, and we are fortunate to have them here in Denver. Keturah Stickann’s stage direction added dimension, great emotion, and credibility to this production. Her stage direction reminded me very much of Ross Allen and Hans Busch who were opera stage directors at my undergraduate school of Indiana University. So many audience members would miss excellent stage direction if it wasn’t there, but often, average audience members don’t realize the importance of good stage direction until it is gone. It must be seamless and flow with the emotions that are on stage, and it must flow with what the orchestra does as well.

At this performance, I was sitting perhaps fifteen rows from the stage. Obviously, I had no view of the orchestra pit at all, but I could certainly see that everyone on stage kept their eyes (even surreptitiously) on Maestro Ari Pelto. In this review, I have used the word seamless. That is what is so necessary between the conductor, the stage director, and, of course, the singers. And it is that seamlessness which made Friday night’s performance so outstanding. Maestro Pelto revealed the fluidity and continuity between Puccini’s score and the action and emotion on stage. The orchestra was absolutely superb. Many of you readers will say, “Well, yes, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” But, as I stated before, I have seen many operas where, for a variety of reasons, this companionship of terrific voices, emotion, stage direction, and conducting simply wasn’t there. Friday night, it was.

For very good reason, Madama Butterfly is a very popular and well-known opera. It is that popularity that demands the best performance possible from everyone involved. Notice that I have included links to two members of this production. It is because a lighting designer – Lucas Krech – and a stage director – Keturah Stickann – are not always mentioned when they should be. Their importance to Friday’s production must be absolutely declared. This was their Opera Colorado debut, and I certainly hope they appear again (even if they do not “appear” in the usual sense, there presence is known). They certainly contributed to one of the finest Opera Colorado productions that I have seen.



Plan to attend Project Youth and Chamber Music’s second annual Winter Festival
November 21, 2014, 3:44 pm
Filed under: News

Combining music, film, science and stimulating discussion, Project Youth and Chamber Music’s (PYCh) second annual OFF the HOOK Winter Music Festival offers Valentine’s week-end festivities for all lovers of the arts and science.

The event will be led by Bruce Adolphe, the education director of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center in New York City, and a composer who teaches at The Julliard School. He also stars as the Piano Puzzler for Public Radio’s Performance Today and is co-artistic director of OFF the HOOK (OtH). Held on February 13 – 16, this winter extension of PYCh’s summer chamber music festival includes workshops, and a performance event based on a soon a new film, Einstein’s Light. In addition, Adolphe joins a visit to the Fort Collins Symphony Guild’s Musical Zoo as narrator for cretaceous fun in Tyrannosaurus with a performance by the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra.

“This year, we’re venturing outside Fort Collins’ borders so Boulder and Denver will experience the magic of Bruce’s music and his great on-stage personality,” says Executive Artistic Director and Founder, Jephta Bernstein.

Clips from the upcoming film, Einstein’s Light: Relativity for Lovers, with Adolphe’s original film score will be shown at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder with hands-on science exploration in the lobby prior to the concert. It will also be featured at Metro State University’s Piano Celebration in Denver.

Einstein’s Light, a documentary by Nickolas Barris, examines Albert Einstein’s love of music as a violinist, how it inspired his thinking, and how his ideas continue to permeate science, even today. It will premiere at the United Nation’s kick-off celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity to be held in Paris in January 2015. For PYCh’s winter festival, Adolphe will lead audiences through short selections from the film, and talk about his compositional process. He will perform his original film score on piano with violinists Clara Lyon (Denver and Boulder) and Emily Ondracek-Peterson (Fort Collins). CU Astrophysicist Dr. Michael Shull will join the discussion and tie Einstein’s scientific theories to the science of today. (The full version Einstein’s Light will be shown during the opening week of OFF the HOOK Summer Chamber Festival in June, 2015.)

The festival demonstrates PYCh’s mission to create life-long creative thinkers, cultural advocates and appreciators of the arts through study, exposure and performance of chamber music, for youth and their communities regardless of their financial access.

“By showing the relationship between science, music and thinking, and delivering it through film and live music performance, people from all walks of life get a fresh view of these three areas,” Bernstein says.

Founded in 2012, PYCh (pronounced “pitch”) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit music education organization that works with students at no cost during their In-School program and brings high-level professional performances by local, Colorado chamber musicians to their schools.
Children exposed to live performance are much more likely to build their musical interests and skills. Neuroscientist and music educator, Anita Collins, claims “specific cognitive benefits (are like a) shower of fireworks going off in your brain” when playing an instrument. Her research has shown that playing an instrument is inherently different in mental benefits compared to sports or the study of other arts.

For more information on PYCh, specific dates and times of festival events, refer to PYCh’s website at projectchambermusic.org.



DazzleJazz will present Ron Miles Group
November 20, 2014, 8:34 pm
Filed under: News

About Ron Miles:

Denver trumpeter Ron Miles’ resume includes time with Bill Frisell, Madeleine Peyroux, Don Byron, the Ellington Orchestra, and Fred Hess’ Boulder Creative Music Ensemble. Besides being solicited all over the world for his unique sound, Ron is a staple of the Denver jazz scene and his recent releases as band leader show off his skills as a composer and arranger as well as a “phenomenally gifted trumpeter” (Bill Milkowski).

A resident of Denver since he was 11, he began playing the trumpet seriously in junior high school and studied music at the University of Denver (1981-1985) and the Manhattan School of Music (1986). Miles says that living in Denver has given him an appreciation for a broad array of musical styles that he might not have acquired elsewhere. “Country and Western music, Latin, jazz, and rock are all popular here, so you find yourself trying out a lot of ideas with other musicians and gaining a healthy respect for the music,” he explains.

Ron Miles was widely recognized as a musical director and arranger with the release of Ginger Baker’s Coward of the County (Atlantic 1999). His compositions anchor that record and highlight the varied influences from which Ron draws inspiration. Hailed as an inventive composer and gifted trumpeter on his solo releases, Ron cruised through the 1990s with a series of well-received releases on Gramavision (My Cruel Heart, Woman’s Day) and Capri (Witness, Ron Miles Trio).

Saturday December 20, 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM
Tickets: $15.

Read a Review: http://jazzdagama.com/reviews/cds/ron-miles-circuit-rider/

For Bookings or more info contact:

Aaron Melon: Melon—Aaron@dazzlejazz.com
Kevin Lee: Kevin@DazzleJazz.com

DazzleJazz
930 Lincoln St.
Denver, CO 80203



COLORADO BACH ENSEMBLE PRESENTS ITS ANNUAL HOLIDAY PERFORMANCES OF HANDEL’S MESSIAH
November 15, 2014, 10:28 am
Filed under: News

Four concerts with nationally renowned soloists

The critically acclaimed Colorado Bach Ensemble will again be presenting performances of Handel’s Messiah in four Front Range locations on December 18th through the 21st. The ensemble, made up of professional singers and players, has thrilled thousands in recent years with its Messiah performances in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins.

As with previous years, the ensemble has engaged singers of national and international renown for the solo roles. They include soprano Mireille Asselin, mezzo-soprano Abigail Nims, tenor Derek Chester, and baritone Andrew Garland. Colorado Bach Ensemble Artistic Director James Kim will conduct.

As with previous years, the ensemble will be using the celebrated Watkins Shaw edition of Messiah, which brings listeners much closer to how Handel wrote and performed the work. The performers of the Colorado Bach Ensemble number close to the forces Handel used in the performances he led during his lifetime.

Concerts will take place on Thursday, December 18 at Montview Presbyterian Church in Denver, Friday, December 19 at Bethany Lutheran Church in Cherry Hills Village, Saturday, December 20 at First United Methodist Church in Boulder, and Sunday, December 21 at the University Center for the Arts in Fort Collins.

All performances begin at 7:00 pm except the Fort Collins performance which will begin at 4:00 pm.

Ticket prices are $25 for adults and $5 for students (general admission) and can be purchased in advance online at http://www.coloradobachensemble.com or (as available) at the door at each performance.

Handel’s Messiah, a Holiday Tradition
Performed by the chorus and orchestra of the Colorado Bach Ensemble
James Kim, Artistic Director, conducting.

Soloists
Mireille Asselin, Soprano
Abigail Nims, Mezzo Soprano
Derek Chester, Tenor
Andrew Garland, Baritone

Performance Dates and Locations

Thursday, December 18, 7:00 pm
Montview Presbyterian Church, 1980 Dahlia Street, Denver

Friday, December 19, 7:00 pm
Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 E Hampden Avenue, Cherry Hills Village

Saturday, December 20, 7:00 pm
First United Methodist Church, 1421 Spruce Street, Boulder

Sunday, December 21, 4:00 pm
Edna Rizley Griffin Concert Hall, 1400 Remington Street, Fort Collins

Tickets for all performances: $25 adults, $5 students available online at http://www.coloradobachensemble.org, or as available at the door at each performance.

Soloist & James Kim Web pages

http://www.mireilleasselin.com/

http://www.abigailnims.com/

http://www.derekchester.com/Home.html

http://andrewgarland.com/

http://central.colostate.edu/people/jkim/

For more information contact:
John Parfrey
japarfrey@gmail.com, 303.817.5971
http://www.coloradobachensemble.org




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