Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Aniel Cabán, Annamaria Karacson, Bahman Saless, Beethoven, Boulder Chamber Orchestra, Brahms, Chelsea Winborne, Gal Faganel, Joseph Howe, Matt Dane, Stephanie Mientka, Zachary Carrettin
Friday evening in Boulder, five members of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra presented the first of two Minichamber Concerts at the Grace Lutheran Church of Boulder on 13th Street. I wish to say at the outset that this venue is absolutely superb for chamber music. The acoustics are excellent and this church is truly quite small which gives the performance of chamber music a true sense of intimacy. It doesn’t matter where one sits: one can always clearly hear the individual instruments as well as the sound of the musicians as a complete entity.
The members of this chamber group were Annamaria Karacson, violin; Chelsea Winborne, violin; Aniel Cabán, viola; Stephanie Mientka, viola; and Joseph Howe, cello. These individuals represent some of the best of the Boulder Chamber Orchestra, and I point out that this was the first time they had assembled as a chamber group. It is my sincere hope that they continue to play together, because this concert was a remarkably fine performance of two very difficult string quintets. In addition, after hearing these individuals play as a chamber group, one has a much clearer picture of why the Boulder Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Bahman Saless, is such a good organization.
The first work on the program was Beethoven’s String Quintet in C Major, Opus 29. I really don’t think it is much of an exaggeration to say that Beethoven’s favorite genre of chamber music was the string quartet, for this quintet is truly the only quintet originally written for strings. There is an Opus 4 quintet which was published by Artaria in 1797; also a quintet, Opus 16, but that was originally written for piano, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn. The String Quintet, Opus 29, was first published in 1802 by Breitkopf and Härtel and was written in 1801.
There is no question in my mind at all that this quintet is one of Beethoven’s masterpieces. As Maestro Saless pointed out before the concert began, the development section of the first movement flows very smoothly. The adagio movement is wonderfully lyrical. The third movement, which Beethoven marks Scherzo, is quite typical of Beethoven in that it persistently keeps its forward motion. As a matter of fact, Beethoven was the one that begin calling third movements “Scherzo,” rather than Minuet. Realize that Beethoven was the originator of the scherzo movement early on in his career as a composer. His reasoning was that the minuet seemed a little bit too stately for his tastes, so he changed the meter signature from 3/4 to 6/8, and doubled the tempo. Maestro Saless also pointed out that the last movement of this piece was quite stormy with a great deal of tremolo accompaniment, and that his first use of “stormy” finales was in his Piano Sonata Opus, 2 Nr. 1.
In the performance of this work, I was struck by the fact that these five musicians seemed to fit so well together. Of course, they have had experience playing together in the orchestra, but that is very different from playing as a quintet. In addition, the warmth and character of their instruments seemed to be well matched. All five of these musicians seemed to be extremely concerned with the balance of dynamics and tone control. The second movement of this quintet was absolutely liquid and serene, with special care given to each phrase, so that when it appeared in the different instruments, it was always phrased the same way. The third movement was full of charm and grace, so much so, that the word “fit” comes to mind again. It was as if the musicians were aware that Beethoven had given them the pieces to a puzzle, and that it was their duty to put the finished product in front of the audience. It was a beautiful performance of an absolutely beautiful piece, and I am quite surprised that this quintet is not performed more often.
After the intermission this Boulder Chamber Orchestra quintet performed the Brahms String Quintet in G Major, Opus 111. This particular quintet, which, coincidentally, bears the same opus number as Beethoven’s last Piano Sonata, was the result of a request by Joseph Joachim who wanted a companion piece to the String Quartet, Opus 88. At the time Brahms wrote this piece, he was strongly considering retirement from composition. Happily, Brahms did not retire and continued writing, completing this work in the summer of 1890 at Ischl.
As the musicians began the first movement, it was abundantly clear that this quintet requires some very hard work from the cellist. Though one could tell that cellist, Joseph Howe, was concerned, his playing was absolutely excellent, providing a foundation for the background of the other for strings. As a matter of fact, some critics were irritated by such a strong cello part in a quintet, and some even hinted that it had originally been sketched out for Brahms’ Fifth Symphony. There is a waltz as the second theme of this first movement, and Aniel Cabán and Stephanie Mientka were absolutely sensational in their passion and warm tone. The first movement of this work seems to be almost rhapsodic in nature, and Karacson and Winborne imparted a mood which can almost be described as nostalgic.
The second movement has a wonderful viola solo part which is full of melancholy. Cabán was remarkable in imparting it with warmth and grace, and is easy to discern that the viola was Brahms’ favorite instrument. This movement contains many unexpected shifts between major and minor, and if one listened very carefully one could tell that Brahms was using the variation technique in this movement.
In the third movement, there were fragments of first-movement themes: in the first and second violins particularly. There were moments when the meter signature gave this minuet the character of a plaintive waltz. And you readers who were at the concert must have been, as was I, enormously impressed by the musicianship of these five players which was so unselfish that the music always came first. It has been a while since I have heard this work performed live, and I must say that I have never seen the score. But these musicians performed the last movement brilliantly so that the dance theme which occurs sporadically throughout was accentuated. I finally decided that this dance influence could not have been an Austrian ländler, but must have been the influence in the Hungarian csárdás which Brahms was fond of.
This performance by these remarkable five musicians was absolutely glittering. As I said above, listening to these musicians perform is evidence of why the Boulder Chamber Orchestra sounds so excellent in its performances. The quality of musicianship coupled with the wonderful acoustics and intimate atmosphere of the Grace Lutheran Church certainly provided me – as well of the rest of the audience – with a truly memorable evening. It is my sincere hope that these five musicians (read their names again in the second paragraph of this article) can remain together as a permanent ensemble to provide the public with more outstanding performances.
Please make note of the fact that the second of these two mini concerts will take place next weekend, April 18 and 19th, and will feature Zachary Carrettin, violin; Matt Dane, viola; and Gal Faganel, cello. It will take place at the same venue: the Grace Lutheran Church on 13th St. in Boulder. You do not want to miss it.
Filed under: News
On Saturday, May 9th at 7 PM, Boulder Symphony presents its season finale, Love’s Arrow, with a semi-staged, minimalist production of the famous opera Carmen, by Georges Bizet. Sensual, seductive, and one of the most popular operas of all time, Bizet’s Carmen will raise the temperature in downtown Boulder! Set in Seville, the action pivots around Carmen, a gypsy who has the power to seduce any man that suits her fancy. Join us to experience the jealousy and passion that seal Carmen’s fate in one of opera’s most memorable conclusions.
The orchestra will be joined by an incredible all-local cast of talented singers: mezzo-soprano Erica Papillion-Posey as Carmen, tenor Jason Baldwin as Don José, soprano Mica Dominguez-Robinson as Micaëla, and baritone Thomas Kittle as Escamillo.
All performances take place at Boulder Symphony Concert Hall at First Presbyterian Church, 1820 15th Street, in Boulder. Tickets are $15 (adults), $10 (seniors), $5 (college students), and free for children (K-12) and are available online at bouldersymphony.org/tickets, or at the door.
Dedicated to making symphonic music more accessible and relevant to people of all ages and backgrounds, Boulder Symphony introduces gifted new composers and musicians, and adventurous world premieres, and focuses on educational outreach and interactive programs for youth. Committed to consistent innovation, the Symphony embraces music’s transformative joy of discovery.
Filed under: News
The University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music 2014 / 15 Concert Season culminates with a comic opera, the unveiling of a new 21st Century ensemble, the world premiere workshop of a musical, and a combined Lamont Symphony and choirs performance of Beethoven’s thrilling 9th Symphony.
Lamont Opera Theatre and the Lamont Symphony Orchestra present The Merry Wives of Windsor (performed in English) in Gates Concert Hall from Thursday, April 16 to Sunday, April 19. Directed by Kenneth Cox, Otto Nicolai’s exuberant operatic romp, based on Shakespeare’s comedy, revolves around the captivating rascal Sir John Falstaff, who attempts to seduce the wives of two of Windsor’s most prominent men. But the wooed Windsor women see right through his schemes, making his plans go askew with disastrous and hilarious results. Thursday through Saturday performances are at 7:30pm and the Sunday matinee is at 2:30pm. Tickets range from $11 to $30 and are reserved seating.
As part of a new 21st Century initiative, Steve Wiest conducts Lamont’s newest ensemble, the FLEX Ensemble – a jazz rhythm section with instrumentalists and vocalists from the classical, vocal and chamber departments. They perform on Wednesday, May 20 at 7:30pm in Gates Concert Hall. Admission is free.
Lamont Opera Theatre will perform two world premiere workshops of the new musical Far Beyond Rubies by Oscar Sladek. The story of Esther & Mordecai imagined as a great love story set against the turmoil and intrigue of Ancient Persia, Far Beyond Rubies will be directed by Matthew Rumsey and will be performed on Thursday, May 21 and Friday, May 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Hamilton Recital Hall. All seats are reserved and tickets are $10.
The Lamont Symphony Orchestra, The Lamont Chorale, Women’s Chorus and Men’s Choir close the concert season with the stunning “Ode to Joy” symphony, Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 “Choral.” Lawrence Golan conducts on Thursday, May 28 at 7:30pm. Free tickets are required and $5 Reserved Seating is available.
All concerts are in the Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts on the University of Denver campus at University Boulevard and Iliff Avenue. Purchase tickets through the Newman Center Box Office online at http://www.newmantix.com/lamont, call 303.871.7720, or visit the box office in the Newman Center, open 10:00am to 4:00pm Monday – Friday. Parking for these and other select performances is complimentary one hour before curtain in the Newman Center garage.
For more information and a complete list of concerts, master classes and events, please visit the Lamont School of Music website at http://www.du.edu/lamont. For updated weekly information call the Concert Line at 303.871.6412.
Director of Public Relations
Lamont School of Music
Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts
2344 Iliff Avenue
Denver, CO 80208-0102
Cell 303 489-2597
Filed under: News
Saturday May 2 – 7 & 9 PM
About Erik Deutsch:
One could easily imagine that Erik Deutsch lives inside a piano. Thus it’s no surprise that some of the world’s most demanding performers request Erik for their keyboard accompaniment. If they’re lucky, they can catch him in the rare moments when he’s not leading his own group through a truly modernist take on the jazz tradition.
Having first come to prominence as a member of the funk-jazz collective Fat Mama (with drummer Joe Russo), Erik has taken his talents across the globe to play with some of the finest musicians alive. Born in Washington D.C. but currently living in Brooklyn, NY, Erik exists in many musical worlds, touring and recording with pop artists like Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash, Citizen Cope, Shooter Jennings, Alice Smith, Antony and the Johnsons, Phillip Phillips, Joey Arias, Devotchka, and Erin McKeown; or with jazz artists like Charlie Hunter, Theo Bleckmann, Ben Allison, Scott Amendola, Trevor Dunn, Steven Bernstein, Ellery Eskelin, Jim Campilongo, Nels Cline, Jenny Scheinman, Allison Miller, Todd Sickafoose, and Art Lande.
In 2011 Erik teamed with country icon Shooter Jennings to tour and record two acclaimed records, Family Man and The Other Life. In 2012-13 he played over 100 shows with pop artist Citizen Cope, and spent the rest of 2013 performing in arenas with American Idol winner Phillip Phillips.
Deutsch holds the distinction of being the only keyboardist to tour regularly with 7-string guitar mater Charlie Hunter (from 2007 to 2009 he toured and recorded two albums as a member of Charlie’s trio).
2012 marked the release of Deutsch’s 3rd album as a leader Demonio Teclado, a psychedelic blend of retro soul-jazz and rock. Erik’s two previous records (’07 Fingerprint and ’09 Hush Money) were met with critical acclaim.
Read a Review – http://hammerandstring.com/press/
Full Tour Dates – http://hammerandstring.com/tour/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ErikDeutschMusic
For Bookings or more info contact:
Kevin Lee – Kevin@DazzleJazz.com
930 Lincoln St.
Denver, CO 80203
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Colorado Symphony, David Lockington, Edgar Allen Poe, Eric Erwazen, Peter Cooper, The Raven, William Hill
The performance Saturday evening, March 28, by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra was unsurpassed in many ways, and, the fact that the first and last works on the program involved the loss of a loved one made the program strangely coincidental.
Maestro David Lockington returned to Denver to guest conduct this performance. It is my sincere hope that you readers will recognize his name because for three years, he held the post of Assistant Conductor with the Denver Symphony Orchestra and Opera Colorado. He is an absolutely outstanding conductor and is currently the Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Modesto Symphony Orchestra. Two years ago in March 2013, he was appointed the Music Director of the Pasadena Symphony.
The first work on the program was by Eric Ewazen, a very distinctive American composer. Eric Ewazen was born in 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio. Receiving a B.M. At the Eastman School of Music, and M.M. and D.M.A. degrees from The Juilliard School. His teachers include Milton Babbitt, Samuel Adler, Warren Benson, Joseph Schwantner and Gunther Schuller. He is a recipient of numerous composition awards and prizes.
Ewazen’s composition was Down a River of Time, for Oboe and String Orchestra, and was inspired by the loss of his father. The work has three movements: I)… past hopes and dreams, II)… and sorrows, and III)… and memories of tomorrow. Peter Cooper, Principal Oboe with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, was the soloist for this work.
I use the word distinctive above because Eric Ewazen does not fit the expectations of the 21st century composer. And that remark is not meant as a pejorative at all, but simply as a way of defining his style as expressed in the work that was performed Saturday evening. This work is really an oboe concerto for string orchestra, but Ewazen describes it as “an aria for string orchestra.” The reason is apparent the minute the work begins. It is very skillfully written for the oboe, and it emphasizes the lyricism and the mellowness of which the oboe is capable of, especially in the hands of such a fine oboist as Peter Cooper. In fact, it is difficult to imagine anyone else performing this work.
It was surprising to me when the work began on such a well-defined minor triad. I did not know what to expect as this was the first time I have heard this work. Nonetheless, it was a surprise, for I expected something more obviously avant-garde. Throughout the work the harmonies seemed like a throwback to something that Rachmaninoff might have written had he been alive in the 1960s. Occasionally, there were added-note chords with slight dissonances that reminded me of Frank Bridge or Ralph Vaughan Williams. There was a spare quality to the entire work because of its orchestration solely for strings. Once in a while, particularly in the second movement, the harmony seemed almost modal; however, its use wasn’t as obvious, for example, as it is in some of Debussy’s compositions (for example, Iberia). I stress that this was marvelously written for the oboe, and it was certainly an incredibly difficult piece. Peter Cooper performed it beautifully. The mellowness of his tone was exceptional because of his breath control and phrasing ability. Indeed, there seemed times when he didn’t breathe for several phrases. There is no question that Cooper and Maestro Lockington knew and appreciated this work. It was beautifully performed by both the orchestra and the soloist, and its harmonic mixtures, i.e., modal/romantic/added notes, gave it an almost 1950s English sound. Lockington was able to ask the orchestra, and they were capable of giving him, an incredibly mellow and rich sound throughout.
Next on the program came Igor Stravinsky’s well-known and much loved Suite from The Firebird. There are many conductors who seem to believe that all 20th-century music must be emotionally spare and done without a great deal of care for the actual sound produced. This was certainly not the case with Maestro Lockington’s approach. It was very expressively done, and even the Infernal Dance of King Kastchei was not exaggerated in its ferocity. The Berceuse was particularly well done, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard and orchestra play so softly with every note still sounding. The ending was done with a remarkable sense of relief and finality. In the 1960s, I had the great good fortune to speak with Stravinsky, and he said that many conductors seem to forget that a ballet must be expressive at many different levels. Obviously, the dancers, themselves, must seek inspiration from the music and what it conveys. The performance of this work made me think that Maestro David Lockington would be an excellent conductor of ballet. Truly, this was one of the best performances that I have heard of this marvelous piece of music.
Following the intermission, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra performed the World Premiere of composer William Hill’s new work, The Raven, based on Edgar Allen Poe’s legendary poem. This enormous work uses all 18 stanzas of Poe’s poem, and it is set for full orchestra and chorus. I believe that it is unnecessary to introduce you readers to William Hill, for he has been the Principal Timpanist with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra for 35 years. Mr. Hill is an excellent composer: the Colorado Symphony Orchestra has premiered several of his works, and in addition, he is also known as a fine conductor.
Hill’s The Raven is clear evidence of the great depth of understanding that he has of Poe’s poem. There is no doubt that Poe (or is it a character that Poe allows to tell the story, as in The Tell Tale Heart) is expressing great sadness over the loss and memory of his Lenore. Keep in mind that Poe has the ability in his poems to make them intensely personal, and it is that realization that makes William Hill’s piece so totally graphic.
The opening of this piece is very dark, and every single note is pregnant with tension. It is also full of the weariness that Poe expresses in his first line, “Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary….” Hill is extremely gifted at exposing Poe’s exhaustion caused by the grief of his loss. In addition, Hill will begin one line of text with, for example, the tenor section of the chorus, and then, to provide emphasis will allow the soprano section to finish the sentence with a higher pitched and urgent inflection. And sometimes, it is the reverse: the urgent text, “Take thy beak from out my heart,” begins in one section and then another section of the choir, full of sadness and lassitude, finishes with “… and take thy form from off my door!”
Thus, the use of the chorus is doubly expressive. There was also the use of electronic sounds which intensifies the vocal sounds of an eight voice chorus situated behind the main chorus. Scattered throughout the composition, and used to emphasize the terror or resignation of loss, is the sound of a heartbeat. It is sometimes played on the bass drum, the tympani, or, later in the work, even in the low cellos and basses.
What is so remarkably convincing – if not startling – is Hill’s depth in emphasizing the ever-changing thoughts that Poe has in describing his loss. When the Raven beguiles Poe to sit down in front of him to listen to what he may tell him, the poem reads “Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;” the music reflects Poe’s excitement from the possibility he may learn something. And in the next stanza, the chorus reflects Poe’s sudden realization that Lenore is no longer present to use the cushion herself: “But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er, She shall press, ah, never more!”
The abrupt changes of meter, the abrupt changes from one section of the chorus to the other, and the clever use of harmony from total to atonal, fill the listener with the same confusion of emotions that is expressed so skillfully in Poe’s poem. Sometimes it is terror; sometimes it is tragedy. In the end, it is absolute resignation.
The Raven takes 40 minutes to perform, and it is the most fleeting 40 minutes imaginable. The chorus was marvelous to listen to not only because of their ability to be expressive, but because of their diction. It has been a very long time since I have heard a choir of that size produce such perfect pronunciation. My hat is off to Duain Wolfe.
I am familiar with William Hill’s compositions. The Raven marks a new definition of his output which has always been excellent and artistic. But his skillful use of the chorus and the orchestra to define and bring forth the emotion and range of expression of the text to such a remarkable level, is evidence of a new era for him as a composer. Hill’s score allows one to understand Poe’s poem. It is sometimes difficult to verbalize the new age of a composer, and often it has to be done by the careful listening to the music. An example of this might be the difference between Arnold Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder (which is hypertrophied romanticism) and his first composition in 12 tones. Hill received one of the longest standing ovations in recent memory.
I might add that the Colorado Symphony Orchestra on Saturday evening realized a new plateau as well. They were obviously pleased to have Peter Cooper solo with them, and they seemed very pleased to have David Lockington be the Guest Conductor. It was a very fine performance from everyone on stage. The audience realized this as well.
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Alexandra Pullen, Alexei Tyukov, Ariel Breitman, Asuka Sasaki, Ben Winegar, Casey Dalton, Chandra Kuykendall, Christopher Moulton, Colorado Ballet, Curtis Irwin, Dana Benton, Dmitry Trubchanov, Domenico Luciano, Emily Dixon, Emily Speed, Fernanda Oliveira, Francisco Estevez, Gil Boggs, Jesse Marks, Joey Wishnia, Kevin Gaël Thomas, Kevin Hale, Kevin Wilson, Luis Valdes, Maria Mosina, Max Bruch, Melissa Zoebisch, Morgan Buchanan, Raul Orozco, Sean Omandam, Sergei Prokofiev, Tracy Jones, Viacheslav Buchkovskiy
Every time I leave a performance by the Colorado Ballet, I am convinced that I have seen them at their best. Then comes the next performance, and I am amazed once more. Friday night, March 27, their performance at the Gates Concert Hall at the Lamont School of Music was a clear demonstration of the artistry that is inherent in all of their performances. There were two short ballets performed, one of which was quite serious and displayed the love for their art by everyone on stage, and one, which was extremely humorous, was performed for all the children that were in the audience.
The program opened with Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto in G minor, Opus 26. The first performance of this concerto was given with Joseph Joachim as soloist on January 7, 1868, and Bruch quickly achieved worldwide recognition for this marvelous work.
While the idea of a ballet done to a violin concerto may startle some of you, I can assure you that the choreography by Clark Tippett perfectly matched the music. Clark Tippett was born in 1954 in Kansas, and was made a soloist at the American Ballet Theater in 1975. He was promoted to principal in 1976. He choreographed many ballets for companies in the United States, and his choreography for the Bruch’s Violin Concerto which was premiered in 1987, attracted a great deal of attention. He died at the young age of 37 in 1992. His death, was attributed to circumstances surrounding his battle with drugs.
For those of you who did not see this performance, I can assure you that Tippett’s choreography was wonderfully full of imagination, and its relationship to the music of Bruch seemed like a true friendship, rather than an “accompaniment,” because of its artistic merit, and the obvious elation that all of the dancers on stage exhibited. I can assure you that the choreography was difficult indeed. I have seen many performances by the Colorado Ballet where in the dancers seemed to take absolute delight in their profession. At Friday night’s performance that delight metamorphosed into absolute joy. It seemed quite obvious that all of the dancers were quite moved by the beauty of Bruch’s concerto, as well as the beauty of the choreography. That seems like an obvious thing to say: certainly they appreciate their own art or they would not be involved in it. In the past, I have seen some companies where that was not communicated to the audience.
In the First Movement, after every pas de deux by Jesse Marks and Chandra Kuykendall, Asuka Sasaki and Domenico Luciano, the audience responded with great enthusiasm to their artistry and astonishing grace. The audience was truly becoming infected with the same enthusiasm that the dancers exhibited, and it was an absolutely magical thing to see. All of the dancers on stage, Morgan Buchanan, Casey Dalton, Emily Dixon, Tracy Jones, Fernanda Oliveira, Alexandra Pullen, Emily Speed, Melissa Zoebisch, Ariel Breitman, Kevin Hale, Christopher Moulton, Sean Omandam, Kevin Gaël Thomas, Luis Valdes, Kevin Wilson, and Ben Winegar, deserve mention because they were so sensational in matching the emotions and skill of the principals and soloists. That spontaneity of emotions can make a performance truly exceptional rather than excellent, and it was inherent in the performances Friday night.
In the Second Movement, Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov danced in several pas de deux. As I have stated before, Mosina’s arm movements are absolutely the most graceful and frond-like that I have seen. It is also very clear that Mosina and Tyukov work extremely well together because the timing and grace of their movements is something to behold. Friday evening, I must say that Tyukov’s physical strength seemed to be greater than ever: I simply could not believe the length of time that he held Mosina above his head. On the other hand, the difficulty of the choreography certainly dictates who will dance what part, and physical strength, as well as rapport and artistic affinity between the dancers is a consideration. That is something that is shared between Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov. They are breathtaking.
In the third movement Dana Benton and Francisco Estevez danced the pas de deux. These two dancers are, in many ways, very similar to Maria Mosina and Alexei Tyukov because of their shared like-mindedness in their artistic styles. I know that dancers have to create a certain image on stage, and many times that requires – depending on their role – that they maintain a lovely smile. However, Dana Benton is so convincing because her smile always seems to reflect the absolute joy that her art provides to her personally. She and Estevez were absolutely remarkable Friday evening, and their ability to make the most difficult choreography seem effortless never ceases to amaze me.
Following the Bruch, the Colorado Ballet performed Serge Prokofiev’s masterful Peter and the Wolf. There is hardly anyone who would not recognize the music to this ballet, as it is as well-known as Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. One of the reasons for its popularity truly must be that Prokofiev, in some ways, seems to have been a child in spirit. In this ballet he appears to have had a mysterious insight into what amuses children. But realize that this story offers adults as well, a chance to escape the monotony of caution that being a grown-up dictates. I also point out that when Prokofiev came to Denver in 1938 to perform his first Piano Concerto and conduct his Classical Symphony with the then-named Denver Symphony, one of the board members took him to see Disney’s new movie, Snow White. He liked it so much that he went back to see it the next day.
The choreography for Friday’s performance was by Michael Smuin (1938-2007). He danced with the American Ballet Theatre and the San Francisco Ballet. He choreographed Broadway productions and had several films to his credit, among them, The Fantasticks.
Peter and the Wolf opens with the Narrator, delightfully done by Joey Wishnia. Wishnia is a very experienced actor who was born in South Africa, and educated at Rhodes University and Trinity College in London. He has written scripts for children’s theater and he has appeared in classical and modern plays, musical theater, opera, ballet, cabaret, reviews, and many radio and television dramas. I must say that he was an excellent choice to fulfill the duties as The Narrator.
The Narrator is assisted by a Musician who presents cutouts of musical instruments as the narrator explains, for example, that The Bird will be represented by the flute. The Musician is supposed to walk out on stage holding a flute to show the audience. However, Friday night, the Musician, wonderfully done by Francisco Estevez, comes out holding a French horn. This, of course, results in nimble wits and savage repartee on behalf of the Narrator which are followed by disrespectful looks and antics by the Musician.
Friday evening, Peter was danced by Kevin Gaël Thomas, the Bird was danced by Dana Benton, the Duck by Morgan Buchanan, the Cat was danced by Tracy Jones, the Wolf by Christopher Moulton, and Jesse Marks danced the role of the Grandfather. The hunters were danced by Ariel Breitman, Curtis Irwin, Raul Orozco, Luis Valdes, Kevin Wilson, and Ben Winegar.
I am constantly amazed at how all of the dancers in the Colorado Ballet are able to communicate with the audience, not only through their dancing ability, but through their acting ability as well. For example, all on stage were absolutely superb in their comedic roles as well as their dancing ability. Everyone not only made their dancing an art, they made their comedy and acting an art. I have seen many ballet performances where the dancing was certainly an art, but everything else was secondary. This is not the case with the Colorado Ballet.
On leaving Gates Hall Friday evening, it finally dawned on me that since Artistic Director Gil Boggs has been with the Colorado Ballet, the choice of choreographers for the ballets has steadily improved. Obviously, this has also led to the improvement of the dancers, and I stress that I do not imply the dancers were poor to begin with. I wish that all of the dancers could have heard the comments from the audience as they left the hall. Certainly, the standing ovation that was received after the Bruch and after the Prokofiev demonstrated how appreciated they were.
There is one sad note that I must communicate. Three of the finest dancers from the Colorado Ballet have announced their retirement. Dmitry Trubchanov, Viacheslav Buchkovskiy, and Jesse Marks will no longer dance after this weekend. They have contributed so much to the Colorado Ballet that it will be very difficult to see them go. I can only hope that they will continue to share their art through teaching and coaching, for that is as much an art as was their dancing. They will be sorely missed, and I wish them well. Thank you, gentlemen, for making the performances brighter with your art.
Filed under: News
Community Ticketing Initiative supports Imagine 2020 Cultural Plan, in partnership with Denver Arts & Venues
The Colorado Symphony is pleased to offer complimentary tickets to Denver-based organizations that serve children and families. Launched in October 2014 in partnership with Denver Arts & Venues, the Community Ticketing Initiative (CTI) serves diverse audiences who might not otherwise have a chance to experience the transformative power of live symphonic music. Working through a network of municipal agencies and community organizations, the CTI primarily serves low-income individuals and families for whom cost is a barrier to concert attendance.
The CTI supports the City of Denver’s Imagine 2020 Cultural Plan, which seeks to broaden access to the cultural arts for all Denver residents. To date, more than 1,500 first-time individuals have redeemed vouchers through the CTI. An additional 7,824 vouchers have been distributed to organizations across metro Denver.
Organizations that serve the target population request vouchers that can be redeemed for any concert that remains in the Colorado Symphony’s 2014/15 season. These vouchers are then distributed to individuals and families by the partner organizations. Vouchers are redeemed at the Colorado Symphony Box Office and exchanged for tickets; tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and subject to space availability.
For more information on community partners, or to request vouchers, visit http://www.coloradosymphony.org/communityticketing. Downloadable program materials are available in English and Spanish. For a complete list of upcoming concerts, visit http://www.coloradosymphony.org
ABOUT THE COLORADO SYMPHONY
One of the leading orchestras in the United States, the Colorado Symphony performs more than 150 concerts annually at Boettcher Concert Hall in downtown Denver and across Colorado. Led by internationally renowned Music Director Andrew Litton, the Colorado Symphony is home to eighty full-time musicians, representing more than a dozen nations, and regularly welcomes the most celebrated artists from the world of symphonic music and beyond. Every season, the Colorado Symphony serves more than 250,000 people from all walks of life, performing a range of musical styles, from traditional to contemporary. Recognized as an incubator of innovation, creativity, and excellence, the Colorado Symphony continually expands its reach through education, outreach, and programming. The Colorado Symphony partners with the state’s leading musical artists, cultural organizations, corporations, foundations, sports teams, and individuals to expose diverse audiences to the transformative power of music http://www.coloradosymphony.org.