Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Adam Ewing, Alessandro Marcello, Amanad Balestrieri, Anna Marsh, Boulder Bach Festival, Daniel Hutchings, J. S. Bach, Kristin Olson, Marjorie Bunday, St. John's Episcopal Church, Zachary Carrettin
Friday evening, February 21, the Boulder Bach Festival traveled to St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, where they presented an outstanding concert of Bach (1685-1750), and the remarkable Venetian composer, Alessandro Marcello (1673-1747). It is not often that we get to hear three Bach cantatas on one program, so those in the audience received quite a treat.
For those of you who are not quite sure what a cantata is, it is a vocal and instrumental form that is particular to the Baroque period. It can contain several movements (and usually does) such as arias, recitatives, duets, and choruses which are based on religious texts. However, there are also secular cantatas, which were more popular in Italy. Bach’s cantatas were mostly of the sacred variety, cantata da chiesa, but he also composed secular cantatas known as cantata da camera. The cantatas performed at Friday’s concert were all church cantatas, or cantata da chiesa.
For those of you to whom Zachary Carrettin is new, I will include an abbreviated biographical quote from his website. He is the new Music Director of the Boulder Bach Festival.
“Zachary Carrettin is a gifted and impassioned musician whose accomplishments as a music director, conductor, violin soloist, and educator have earned him international recognition well beyond his years. He currently balances symphonic and choral conducting, teaching, and performing while serving as director of orchestras at Sam Houston State University, and music director of the Boulder Bach Festival.
“Carrettin made his conducting debut with the Royal Philharmonic of Kishinev, Moldavia, and soon thereafter conducted the Symphony Orchestra of the Theatre Vorpommern in Germany and the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic in the Czech Republic. He has conducted numerous soloists in projects ranging from baroque and classical-period instruments to contemporary instruments and repertory.
“Zachary Carrettin holds bachelor and master of music degrees in violin performance from Rice University Shepherd School of Music, and a master of music degree in conducting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He studied orchestral, choral, opera, and wind ensemble conducting in Bucharest, Romania, and pursued studies in the doctor of musical arts program at Rice University. For more information, visit http://www.zacharycarrettin.com.”
At the beginning of the program Friday evening, there was the usual tuning amongst the instrumental ensemble. There is nothing at all unusual about that. As the starting time of 7:30 PM arrived, Maestro Carrettin calmly walked “on stage” and began to tune his violin. He is an absolutely remarkable violinist, so I made the assumption that he was going to perform in the Marcello Concerto for Oboe. However, he soon began to play a solo work by J. S. Bach, which I think was a toccata for violin. It was not mentioned in the program, nor was it announced by anyone. It was quite a short piece, but it was absolutely beautifully done. The casual demeanor of Maestro Carrettin and the fact that there were a few other instrumentalists on stage, seemed to take the audience by surprise.
Following the short work, Zachary Carrettin certainly did join the Boulder Bach Players to perform Alessandro Marcello’s beautiful Concerto for Oboe in D minor. The oboe soloist was Kristin Olson.
Quoting from Ms. Olson’s bio statement:
“Kristin Olson performs regularly on both modern and historical instruments. As an early music specialist, she has played with such notable conductors as William Christie, Richard Egarr, Philipe Herreweghe, and Jordi Savall. Kristin’s interest in early music began during her undergraduate studies, but first she pursued a modern orchestra career, playing in Mexico with La Orquesta Sinfonica Sinaloa de las Artes for several seasons. She eventually attended the Juilliard School, graduating from their new Historical Performance program on baroque oboe. Kristin is now co-artistic director for several ensembles, including SacroProfano on the west coast, and Grand Harmonie on the east coast. As an entrepreneur, she has been featured on PBS and in Symphony Magazine for success with her reed-making business, Reed Lizard. Her business caters to all oboe and bassoon players, but stands out as one of the only places in the country to purchase historical oboe and bassoon reeds. Kristin holds degrees from the California Institute of the Arts, the University of Southern California, and the Juilliard School. Sometimes she is also seen performing on baritone saxophone. For more information, visit http://www.reedlizard.com or http://www.kristinoboe.com.”
Alessandro Marcello was not only a composer but was an accomplished painter, inventor, bibliophile, instrument collector, and violinist. Because he was a nobleman, he was also expected to serve in various government posts, and was on the Criminal Council of 40 in Venice. Because of his governmental positions, he did not publish a great deal of music; however, there is no question that he was a very serious musician of considerable capability. The Concerto for Oboe in D minor is without a doubt his most famous composition. It is in three movements, with the first and third quite lyrical, and, I might add, very different from his Venetian contemporary, Antonio Vivaldi. It is the second movement of this concerto that continues to capture the most attention. It is an introspective and deeply felt Adagio which exhibits true pathos. Bach certainly knew this piece, for he transcribed it for solo harpsichord.
Ms. Olson’s performance of this piece was absolutely beautiful. She has amazing breath control, and her ability on the Baroque oboe was something to behold. Her tone was lush and warm, and in the second movement, her ornamentation, which was historically correct, served to increase the movement’s remarkable sense of loss and despair. This was only the second time I have heard this concerto performed live, the first being in undergraduate school when it was performed by Professor Jerry Sirucek. This was an exquisite performance by everyone on stage.
Following Kristin Olson’s performance, the Boulder Bach Festival performed J.S. Bach’s Cantata Der Herr denkt an uns (The Lord thinks on us…), BWV 196. You readers must remember that BWV is the abbreviation for Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis, the thematic catalogue of Bach’s works organized by Wolfgang Schmieder (1909-1990). The soloists in this cantata were soprano Amanda Balestrieri, Daniel Hutchings, tenor, and Adam Ewing, bass. This was very well done. As the excellent program notes point out, there is no mistaking this work for a late work of Bach’s, because the counterpoint and melodic imitation reminds one of Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707). The blend of the choir was absolutely marvelous, though, from time to time, their diction was not always clear. Amanda Balestrieri has an absolutely wonderful soprano voice and gave a pronounced air of cheerfulness in this cantata. However, like the choir, from time to time her diction was not as excellent as it has been in the past. Daniel Hutchings and Adam Ewing were beyond compare. Their vocal production allows them the ability to have excellent diction, and they are also possessed of an infinite variety of emotions.
Following this cantata, the Boulder Bach Chorus performed a motet by Bach, his well-known Komm, Jesu, komm, (Come, Jesus, come, my body is weary…). The motet was originally one of the most important forms of polyphonic music, but by Bach’s time, its a cappella style had fallen by the wayside and solo voices as well as instrumental accompaniment were used. The Baroque composers allowed themselves more variety of styles: alternation of singers and instruments, expressive vocal lines, solo voices, and certain echo effects, which made it quite difficult to distinguish between secular and sacred motets. The diction of the choir in this work, as well as that of the soloists, was considerably better than the opening cantata.
Following the intermission, Maestro Carrettin performed the Bach Cantata, BWV 150: Nach dir Herr, verlanget mich (For you, Lord, I am longing…). This work featured soloists Amanda Balestrieri, Marjorie Bunday, Daniel Hutchings, and Adam Ewing. Amanda Balestrieri sang a wonderful aria solo in this cantata, and her diction was well-nigh perfect in this work. Marjorie Bunday was exceptional as well.
The following cantata, Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir (Out of the depths I cry, Lord, to you.) was superbly done by everyone on stage. I would also like to point out that another member of the Boulder Bach Festival Players, the bassoonist, Anna Marsh, was truly outstanding.
The following is from Ms. Marsh’s bio statement:
“Anna Marsh is originally from Tacoma, WA, and owns six bassoons from the Renaissance to the modern era. She also enjoys trying new restaurants, porcelain painting and exploring National Parks with her friends. She appears regularly with Tempesta di Mare, Opera Atelier, Tafelmusik, Arion Baroque Orchestra, Atlanta Baroque, Seattle Baroque, Opera Lafayette, Ensemble Caprice, Washington Bach Consort and Clarion Music Society. This season she will play concertos with New York State Baroque and the Boulder Bach Festival and will also appear at Versailles. She has been a featured concerto soloist with the Arion Baroque Orchestra in Montreal, The Dryden Ensemble in Princeton, Foundling Orchestra in Providence, Buxtehude Consort in Philadelphia, Americantiga Orchestra in Washington DC, the USC Early Music Ensemble and the Indiana University Baroque Orchestra… Anna is ABD [an informal expression denoting All But Dissertation] for her Doctorate at Indiana University and has recorded for Analekta, ATMA, CBC Radio, NPR, Centaur, Avie, Naxos, the Super Bowl and Musica Omnia Record Labels.”
This was a truly enjoyable concert, but I was occasionally surprised by the almost casual manner in which Maestro Zachary Carrettin (who, I stress, is a masterful musician in every way) took the stage. This resulted many times in the audience not being sure whether they should applaud his entrance, as is customary for the conductor. Indeed, after the intermission, he was tuning his violin with a few of the other musicians. The tuning went on for some time, when he obviously became concerned that the soloists had not come out to perform. He hurriedly left stage to seek out the performers, who joined him, finally, much to amusement of the audience. Perhaps, a very authoritative stride to the podium, as is de rigueur, would be more useful. But, please understand that this is hardly a permanent blot on the record of such an outstanding musician.
Filed under: News
Since its premiere in 1912, Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire has delighted and disturbed audiences. Written for the groundbreaking combination of voice with flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and piano, the piece created a new kind of chamber ensemble. The soprano’s eerie and dramatic delivery of the evocative poetry evokes haunting images of moonlight, blood, death, and whimsy.
For our presentation of this modernist masterpiece, the Playground has partnered with seven local visual artists in this performance: Henry Sanger, Kalin Baker, Tia Christine, mE (James Herbert), Peter Strange Yumi, Erik Matelski, and Tony Achilles.
Each artist has created three works of art, each inspired by a different movement of Pierrot Lunaire. The twenty-one new works will be displayed in the venue before and after the performance, and images will be projected during the performance as the corresponding movement is played.
February 20, 2014 at 7:30pm
Lamont School of Music, Hamilton Recital Hall
Newman Center for the Performing Arts
2344 E. Iliff Ave., Denver, CO 80210
Click here to buy tickets
February 21, 2014 at 7pm
The Boulder Symphony Chamber Series
Boulder First Presbyterian Church, Boulder, CO
Click here to buy tickets
March 4, 2014 at 7pm
Dazzle Jazz Restaurant and Lounge
Classical Chamber Music Series
Click here to buy tickets
About the Playground Ensemble:
The Playground Ensemble, made up of faculty and alumni from the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, is the Rocky Mountain Region’s premier new music group. We are professional musicians, composers and fans dedicated to presenting classical music as a living art form. The Playground’s mission is to provide stimulating performances, expand common perceptions of both contemporary music and the chamber ensemble, and nurture a community around this music that we love.
Filed under: News
Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs announced the 2014-2015 season, which will feature technically-challenging classical ballet and innovative contemporary pieces.
Colorado Ballet opens its 54th season with the Shakespearian classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream, September 26-October 5, 2014 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. This enchanting ballet inspired by Shakespeare’s story is filled with mischief, romance and comedy. The ballet features choreography by Christopher Wheeldon, who has won numerous awards and has been featured in films including the motion picture Center Stage. A Midsummer Night’s Dream will include a score by Felix Mendelssohn, performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra and the Colorado Children’s Chorale.
“Between the festive costumes, majestic scenery, comical woodland fairies and the quarrelling Athenian lovers, this ballet is just pure magic,” said Boggs. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream illuminates love’s difficulties and ends happily with a celebration.”
Back by popular demand, Colorado Ballet will present a special Halloween presentation of Dracula, October 31-November 2, 2014 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Dracula features choreography by Michael Pink, who has been known for his stylistically aggressive vision and artistic direction. This horror classic includes music by Philip Feeney, performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra. Pink and Feeney have collaborated several times on various dramatic productions, including Peter Pan, which Colorado Ballet performed in 2012.
“Spine-tingling would be an understatement for how this thrillingly beautiful performance based on Bram Stoker’s gothic horror will leave you feeling,” said Boggs. “Portrayed through dance, Dracula will reveal passion, seduction and elegance in a way that the book cannot. Our audience requests this production over and over again and we cannot wait to perform Dracula during Halloween weekend this year.”
The season continues in November with Colorado’s favorite holiday tradition, The Nutcracker, November 29 through December 27, 2014 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. The Nutcracker features unforgettable characters as well as dazzling costumes and scenery by José Varona. This seasonal favorite will feature classic choreography paired with Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary arrangement performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.
“The Nutcracker is always a spectacular way to kick off the holiday season,” said Boggs. “Celebration, gift giving, comical battles, onstage blizzards, romance and holiday dreams are just a few highlights of this dazzling production.”
In the spring, Colorado Ballet will present Ballet MasterWorks, February 20-March 1, 2015 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Colorado Ballet first performed a Ballet MasterWorks production in 2013 and will present a new collection of master works in 2015 with live music performed by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra. Ballet MasterWorks opens with Concerto Barocco, by choreographer George Balanchine. This rhythmic and spirited piece will feature a score by composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The second work featured in Ballet MasterWorks is Fancy Free, choreographed by Jerome Robbins with music by Leonard Bernstein. This comical and romantic ballet features three sailors attempting to pick up three girls while on shore leave in New York. Ballet MasterWorks will also include a new work.
“Ballet MasterWorks is a true masterpiece of three innovative ballets that will showcase our dancers’ artistry and elegance,” said Boggs. “When we performed the first Ballet MasterWorks to works by Balanchine, Val Caniparoli and Glen Tetley last spring, we really pushed our dancers and musicians. Our performers have tremendous talent and that is why it was so important to me to present another collection of challenging works like this again. You don’t need to go to New York or San Francisco to see ballet of this caliber, you can see it right here in Denver with Colorado Ballet.”
Colorado Ballet will close out its season with the children’s classic, Peter and the Wolf, March 27-29, 2015 at the June Swaner Gates Concert Hall at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Peter and the Wolf is choreographed by Michael Smuin, who has been recognized for his Tony, Grammy and Emmy awards, in addition to his company, Smuin Ballet in San Francisco. This witty and musical folk tale includes a musical score by Sergei Prokofiev. This production will open with a special performance of Bruch Violin Concerto No.1, choreographed by Clark Tippet featuring a vibrant violin ensemble composed by Max Bruch. Colorado Ballet first performed the Bruch Violin Concerto No.1 in 2007.
“Peter and the Wolf is perfect for families and anyone who enjoys a childhood classic,” said Boggs. “Several themes are expressed in this ballet including bravery and imagination. This is the perfect production for the entire family.”
Season subscriptions are on sale now and single tickets will be on sale July 15. Visit http://www.ColoradoBallet.org for details.
About Colorado Ballet
Established in 1961 by Lillian Covillo and Freidann Parker, Colorado Ballet is a non-profit organization celebrating 53 years of presenting world-class classical ballet and superior dance in Denver. Under the direction of Artistic Director Gil Boggs, Colorado Ballet presents more than 50 performances annually. Colorado Ballet enhances the cultural life of Colorado through performances of the professional company, training at the Academy, and Education & Outreach programs.
Public Relations Manager
1278 Lincoln Street, Denver, CO 80203
Office: (303) 339-1630 | Fax: (303) 861-7174
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Adam Flatt, Ben Stevenson, Catherine Sailer, Christopher Moulton, Cinderella, Colorado Ballet, Dmitry Trubchanov, Francisco Estevez, Gil Boggs, Janie Parker, Kevin Gaël Thomas, Klara Houdet, Lorita Travaglia, Maria Mosina, Michelle Orman, Morgan Buchanan, Sandra Brown, Sergei Prokofiev, Sharon Wehner, Shelby Dyer, Tracy Jones, Viacheslav Buchkovskiy
As I have often said, Artistic Director, Gil Boggs, of the Colorado Ballet, has assembled an organization that is truly superior in the world of dance. This was clearly demonstrated Saturday, February 16th, at their performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s marvelous ballet, Cinderella. The artistic staff of the Colorado Ballet, aside from Gil Boggs, is as follows: Sandra Brown, Ballet Mistress; Lorita Travaglia, Ballet Mistress; Maestro Adam Flatt, Music Director and Principal Conductor; Maestra Catherine Sailer, Associate Conductor; Ben Stevenson, Choreographer; and, Christina Giannelli, Lighting Designer. This season’s performance of Cinderella was staged by Janie Parker.
Sergei Prokofiev (1891- 1953) breathed new life into the symphony, the sonata, concerto, and most certainly, the ballet. Early on, Prokofiev tried to duplicate the success that his older countryman, Sergei Rachmaninoff, had had in the United States. Prokofiev himself was a brilliant pianist, but for some reason he was not met with the same reception. His first ballet that became an international success was Romeo and Juliet, but many of his other works were met with extreme hostility from the cultural ideologues of the Soviet Union. He was called before the Supreme Soviet and told that his music was bourgeoisie, and did not reflect proper Soviet culture. His works were banned from performance. Part of the reason for this was that his music was filled with harmonic deceptive resolutions, the use of modes simultaneously with major and minor, disjunct melodic lines with surprising twists and turns, and, at times, dissonances that were, as he labeled it, used in effort to “tease the geese.” In other words, annoy those who had banned his works.
Cinderella closely adheres to the tail written by Charles Perrault. All of you readers know the story, having heard it many times in your youth. Prokofiev, in his ballet, emphasized comedy, as well as love, compassion for others, and the yearning to do, and be, something different.
The two mean stepsisters are always played by males in this ballet in order to emphasize their ugliness and the obstreperous behavior. Saturday evening, Francisco Estevez and Christopher Moulton danced the two stepsisters to perfection. They were ill-dressed, rowdy malcontents who were abusive to their stepfather and stepsister. Dmitry Trubchanov danced the role of the Father, and Lorita Travaglia danced the role of the Stepmother. Sharon Wehner danced the role of Cinderella, and though I have seen this ballet several times, I have never seen anyone infuse the role of Cinderella with so much emotion, whether it be poignancy or absolute joy. It truly made me think that she and Choreographer Ben Stevenson were absolutely on the same wavelength, with every movement she made. Every movement she danced, she described Cinderella.
Act I is used to introduce the audience to all of the characters, and every dancer onstage accomplished that with aplomb. The fairy godmother appears toward the end of the act, and was danced by the remarkable Maria Mosina, whose graceful arms never stop moving when she dances.
The sets were through the courtesy of the Texas Ballet Company, and I immediately thought that the Colorado Ballet deserves their own sets. Yes, that would be enormously expensive, but this ballet company is of the ilk that they should have them. Cinderella’s coach, which thankfully did not look like an enlarged pumpkin, was a total work of art, and the horses in special costumes, were a stroke of visual genius. In addition, the transformation of the set from Cinderella’s living room to the woods where her Fairy Godmother transforms her into a Princess was absolutely magical.
From the very outset of Saturday evening’s performance I was struck by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra. I don’t think, and I say this without exaggeration, that I have ever heard them perform better. Understand, that Prokofiev’s music, because of his highly individual style, is difficult for an orchestra to play because it is sometimes impossible to anticipate where the melodic line will turn next. But the emotion expressed by the dancers was strongly supported and reflected by the orchestra.
Act II is comprised of The Ball. The Jester, danced Saturday evening by Kevin Gaël Thomas, introduces and welcomes the arriving guests. Their reaction to the ugly stepsisters was priceless. Upon the arrival of Cinderella, she and the Prince are smitten with the immortal love at first sight. Cinderella and the Prince, danced by Viacheslav Buchkovskiy, danced a wonderful and impassioned pas de deux which was one of the highlights of the evening’s performance. These two dancers were totally superb, as is everyone in this company. I have often said, and I mean that sincerely, that every single dancer who appears on stage for the Colorado Ballet could be a soloist. The depth of quality is astounding. When the clock struck twelve, Prokofiev allows the trombones to become powerful and threatening. I’m quite sure, judged by the sound, that Maestro Flatt told the brass to sneer and growl.
Act III concerns the prince’s search for the love of his life, who completely disappeared at the end of Act II. He searches far and wide. He and his servants ask all the cobblers who made the shoe that Cinderella dropped. While he is searching, Cinderella takes the other slipper from her apron pocket, and realizes that her memories of the ball and a handsome Prince were not a dream after all. The Prince arrives at the household, and the two stepsisters try on the shoe to no avail. Cinderella helps her stepmother to try it on, and while she is doing so, the other slipper falls from her apron. The Prince realizes that he has found his princess, and the two live happily ever after.
As I have said, I have seen Prokofiev’s Cinderella several times, but this is the first time where I was so taken with the shared artistry between the orchestra and the dancers. In the forest scene, where the Fairy Godmother transforms Cinderella, the Spring Fairy, danced by Klara Houdet; the Summer Fairy, danced by Tracy Jones; and the Autumn and Winter fairies, danced respectively by Morgan Buchanan and Shelby Dyer, were strongly supported by the excellent clarinet work of Michelle Orman in the orchestra. Small details, such as the transformation of the moon into a midnight clock, added to the magic of the performance. When the guests at the ball were given oranges as special treats, the orchestra seemed to emphasize the theme for the oranges, so that those familiar with Prokofiev’s opera, The Love for Three Oranges, was clearly recognizable.
It was a magical evening in every sense of the word. The adults in the audience sat transfixed, and the youngsters in the audience laughed delightedly with the antics of the stepsisters. Everyone gasped in almost terror and surprise when the clock began to strike twelve. Saturday evening’s performance was a complete artistic amalgamation where dancers, choreographer, and musicians worked together in a convincing artistic union.
There are more performances. You must see this ballet.
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: Brett Kostrzewski, Celctic Folksongs, Leslie Soich, Marjorie Bunday, Partsongs, St. Martin's Chamber Choir, Taylor Martin, Timothy J. Krueger
Friday evening, February 7, I attended the St. Martin’s Chamber Choir performance entitled, Celtic Echoes. The program consisted of British Folksongs and Partsongs, several of which would be easily recognized by most concertgoers. Among those were Greensleeves, Loch Lomond, and Irish Tune From County Derry.
It may be helpful for some of you readers to understand exactly what a partsong is. The term partsong refers to a homophonic style wherein the upper voice carries the melodic line. Think of a four-part choral composition with S (soprano), A (alto), T (tenor), and B (bass). In a partsong, the soprano usually has the melodic line, but it is also possible for the tenor or the altos to sing the melodic line; however, only one melodic line is sung at a time. The term partsong is the antonym of Madrigal wherein there is a polyphonic (contrapuntal) treatment of the melody, which is repeated at regular intervals in each voice of the choir. Remember your days of youth, sitting around a campfire, and singing Row, Row, Row, Your Boat. That is a simple example of counterpoint – the melodic line is repeated at specific intervals.
Maestro Timothy Krueger and the St. Martin’s Chamber Choir began the performance with the well-known English folk song Greensleeves. This particular arrangement was done by W. H. Anderson (1882- 1955), an Englishman who settled in Canada, and arranged a vast amount of folksongs from many countries. This particular arrangement was, in some ways, traditional, but had moments of twentieth century harmonies and deceptive resolutions of the harmony. It was beautiful, and the performance of the choir was stunning because of its dynamic range which immediately caught my attention, as well as their precision in pitch and phrase entrances and exits. The performance of this opening folksong set the tone for the entire performance of the evening. The text of this arrangement was a love poem: the program did not say who wrote the poem, if indeed, it is known. You must understand that the folk music of Renaissance England, as separated from the art music of the time, was performed by balladeers, minstrels, and other musicians who simply performed the music but were not skilled enough to compose it. There were large amounts of ballad texts which were instantly written (and occasionally printed) with the only direction given that they should be sung to the melody of such folksongs as Greensleeves. There has been some discussion about the first written appearance of this folksong because it appears in Thysius Lute Book (c. 1595) and the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book which contains music from 1562 to 1612. The only reason I bring this up is to demonstrate the popularity of this still-relevant piece of music, as the aforementioned Lute Book was a Dutch publication.
The choice of arrangement demonstrates the musicological skill of Dr. Timothy Krueger. Most of the music performed Friday evening has been collected by the twentieth century’s most valuable English musicians and collectors, among them: W. H. Anderson, Ralph Vaughn Williams, R. O. Morris, Gustav Holst, Peter Warlock, Granville Bantock, and Percy Grainger (Australian). Many of the folksongs that were performed Friday had several arrangers, but Krueger has the depth of knowledge to pick the best. He also possesses the musicianship to put together a choral organization in which, I am convinced, every member could be a soloist. I will also make the editorial comment that there should have been more young people in the audience. After all, the text of these folksongs concern topics that would be of interest to young people (love, the loss of love, lullabies, nature, etc.). And, unlike modern pop performances, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir has such remarkable diction, that every word could be understood, which seems to be an amazing concept in today’s pop music performances.
There is absolutely no question that the poignancy of Friday evening’s performance was created not only by the text of the songs, but by the artful interpretation by the choir. The folksong, The Turtle Dove, was the second work on the program, and the text concerns the statement of eternal love by a young man to his ‘bonny lass.’ This work was arranged by Ralph Vaughn Williams, and it was exquisite. Each member of the choir seemed to be emotionally involved with the text as well as the music, and the performance was spellbinding. That kind of involvement by each member of the choir is what sets this organization apart from many others. One could ascribe this to ‘detail’ work, but that sounds so sterile after hearing the performance. For example, one of the works performed Friday evening was the Irish Tune From County Derry, which many of you readers will know under the name of Danny Boy. The St. Martin’s Chamber Choir sang this arrangement by Percy Grainger without any text whatsoever, and it was just as moving as the rest of the program which had text. It was quite a surprise to hear this popular melody sung without words because it certainly highlighted the beauty of the melody as well as the outstanding ability of the choir. Though many have long ascribed this folksong as a statement of eternal love between a man and a woman, most are now in agreement that it represents the statement of a father’s loss of his son in battle.
Yarmouth Fair, arranged by Peter Warlock, was a cheerful description of a celebration. Blow Away The Morning Dew was the accounting of a winsome young lady who makes her amorous boyfriend appear as a fool in front of her father.
Though the program had a subtitle of British Folksongs and Partsongs, it was divided between the English, Welsh, Irish, and Scottish folksongs. One of the most beautiful of the evening was An Cronan Bais, which is Scots Gaelic (Erse is the form of Gaelic in Ireland, Cymric in Wales) for The Death Croon. Though it was arranged by Granville Bantock who died in 1946, many of the harmonies seemed more recent. I am quite sure that this is a very old folksong, undoubtedly from the pagan era of the Outer Hebrides. However, the text, as performed Friday evening, was decidedly from the Christian era. This is only given as a point of interest, but it helps to underscore the varied impact that this performance by the St. Martin’s Chamber Choir had on Friday evening’s audience.
Brett Kostrzewski, is the Conducting Intern for St. Martin’s, and I must say that in his conducting of some of the folksongs Friday evening, that he achieved the same results as Timothy Krueger. Miles Canaday, likewise, achieved the same results. Canaday is the conductor of the MSU Denver Women’s Chamber Choir, who will appear with St. Martin’s Chamber Choir on Saturday and Sunday’s performance.
Soloists at the Friday evening performance were Taylor Martin, tenor; Marjorie Bunday, contralto; and Leslie Remmert Soich, contralto. All three of these soloists have excellent vocal production which, in turn, allows them excellent diction. Every word could be understood, and their phrasing, as well as their musicality, was superb.
The St. Martin’s Chamber Choir, under the direction of Maestro Timothy Krueger, is one of the most outstanding choral organizations, not only in Colorado, but in the United States. I always marvel at how their performances can be so stunning and consistently fine. I spent many hours, which were required of piano majors at my undergraduate school, accompanying in voice studios, and every member of this choir exemplifies what the voice professors were telling their students. I am continually amazed that there are so many fine vocalists in Denver. There was a decent audience Friday evening, but to my way of thinking, Holy Cross Lutheran Church should have been standing room only for this performance.
This article also appears at: http://www.thescen3.org/
Filed under: News
Baroque Orchestra’s “Virtuoso Vivaldi” Program Features the “Viol of Love” in a Special Valentine’s Weekend Concert
On Valentine’s Weekend, period-instrument ensemble Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado will present a special program featuring Antonio Vivaldi’s concertos for unusual instruments.
The program will be presented at three different venues:
Friday, February 14, 2014, 7:30 pm
Bethany Lutheran Church
4500 E. Hampden Ave., Cherry Hills Village
(pre-concert talk at 6:30)
Saturday, February 15, 2014, 7:30 pm
Central Presbyterian Church
1660 Sherman St., Denver
Sunday, February 16, 2014, 4:00 pm
Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church
56 US Hwy 6, Dillon
(Sunday concert presented by Summit Music and Arts and Breckenridge Music Festival)
Tickets are $27 for adults; $23 for seniors and military personnel; $10 for students (pre-school children are free). Tickets are available at the door or online at http://www.BCOColorado.org.
Exuberant, fiery, and spontaneous, the music of Antonio Vivaldi pulses with the colors of Venice and extroverted artistry. Often called “eccentric” and “over the top,” Vivaldi’s concertos (the most famous being The Four Seasons) feature unusual instruments in the soloist role, along with the violin. These concerts provide a rare opportunity to hear virtuoso performances on three Baroque-era instruments: lute, Baroque mandolin, and viola d’amore.
Guest artist Daniel Zuluaga, a favorite of Colorado audiences, will perform on mandolin and lute. Other featured soloists will be BCOC concertmaster Cynthia Miller Freivogel and Matthew Dane, both performing on the aptly named viola d’amore (“viol of love”).
Alessandro Scarlatti, Giardino di Rose (The Garden of Roses)
Antonio Vivaldi, Lute Concerto in D major, RV93
Johann Adolphe Hasse, Mandolin Concerto in G
Vivaldi, Viola d’amore Concerto in D major, RV392
Vivaldi, Concerto for lute and viola d’amore in D minor, RV540
Vivaldi, Trio in C major, RV82
Vivaldi Concerto for two mandolins (performed on mandolin and violin) in G major, RV532
More About the Artists
Now in its ninth season, the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado is a professional period-instrument ensemble bringing to Colorado audiences the musical riches and spirit of improvisation of the 17th and 18th centuries. Led by violinist Cynthia Miller Freivogel and harpsichordist Frank Nowell, BCOC performs a varied repertoire ranging from familiar Baroque favorites to rarely performed gems from the period. The chamber orchestra is featured on two CDs: its debut recording Cornucopia and the recently released Forte e Dolce, featuring trumpet concertos and other works from 17th-century Italy.www.BCOColorado.org
Guest artist Colombian lutenist and guitarist Daniel Zuluaga has been praised for his “rhythmic vitality and a fine sense of color” (Washington Post), and lauded as “exemplary” and full of “great inventiveness” (San Francisco Classical Voice). A Fulbright scholar, Zuluaga is also an avid researcher. Known in Colorado for his innovative and acclaimed New World Baroque program with BCOC, he has personally prepared the editions that will be used for Virtuoso Vivaldi.
Filed under: News
WHAT: “British Folksongs and Part-songs: Celtic Echoes”
WHEN: Friday, February 7, 2014, 7:30 PM
WHERE: Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 4500 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge CO 80033
Also at these days and times:Saturday, February 8, 2014, 7:30 PM at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2015 Glenarm Pl.
Denver CO 80205
Sunday, February 9, 2014, 3:00 PM at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 2015 Glenarm Pl.
Denver CO 80205
Ticket Prices: Premium $25, General Admission $20, Student $10
Celebrating St. Martin’s special relationship with British music over its first twenty years. A broad sampling of folksong arrangements and slightly more sophisticated part-songs (choral counterpart to the art song or lied).
Music by: Vaughan Williams, Host, Dyson, Warlock, Dunhill, Pearsall, Stanford & others,
arranged by counties in the British Isles and Ireland.
To Purchase Tickets:
1 – http://www.stmartinschamberchoir.org
2 – 303-298-1970
3 – At the door / each performance