Opus Colorado


DEVOTCHKA AND THE COLORADO SYMPHONY RETURN TO RED ROCKS
February 20, 2015, 2:41 pm
Filed under: News

An evening of “total bliss,” summer tradition for CO music lovers
Thursday, July 23 at 7:30 pm, Red Rocks Amphitheater
Tickets are now on sale.

The Colorado Symphony is thrilled to announce that the orchestra and DeVotchKa will return to Red Rocks Amphitheater on Thursday, July 23 at 7:30 pm. This concert is co-presented by KBCO and Twist & Shout. Tickets to the general public will be on sale Friday, February 20 at 10 am.

Described by Westword as “total bliss,” the creative partnership between DeVotchKa and the Colorado Symphony is now a Colorado tradition. Conducted by Scott O’Neil, this concert marks the fifth time DeVotchKa and the Colorado Symphony will share a stage. Last year’s concert at Red Rocks was at full capacity.

“Red Rocks is iconic and there truly is an element of magic there,” says Nick Urata, DeVotchKa’s lead singer, guitarist and songwriter; Urata has recently enjoyed acclaim for his work on film scores including Paddington and Focus, starring Will Smith. “It holds extra meaning for Denver bands like us, who started at the Lion’s Lair. The feeling of performing with 75 people on stage is indescribable, and the fact that we get to do it for a fifth time this summer has got us inspired to pull out all the stops.”

The pairing of DeVotchKa and the Colorado Symphony sets the standard for musical collaboration among Colorado musical institutions. Beginning with a performance at Boettcher Concert Hall in February 2012, DeVotchKa’s work with the Colorado Symphony has exposed a new generation of music lovers to the power and possibility of symphonic music. Released later that year, DeVotchKa Live with the Colorado Symphony was hailed by many critics as one of 2012’s best. The album remains a top seller at Denver’s Twist & Shout Records. In its annual Best of Denver issue, Westword named the DeVotchKa/CSO pairing one of the best creative collaborations of 2012.

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Tickets are now on sale and range from $27.50-$65 each. Tickets are available online at http://www.coloradosymphony.org, by phone, 303-623-7876, or in person at the box office in Boettcher Concert Hall, Monday through Saturday, 10 am-6 pm.

Tickets, full concert listings, links and information can be found on http://www.coloradosymphony.org.

ABOUT DEVOTCHKA
Grammy nominated DeVotchKa is a four-piece multi-instrumental and vocal ensemble. International ambassadors of Colorado music, the Boulder-based quartet is composed of Nick Urata, who sings and plays theremin, guitar, bouzouki, piano and trumpet; Tom Hagerman, who plays violin, accordion and piano; Jeanie Schroder, who sings and plays sousaphone, double bass and flute; and Shawn King, who plays percussion and trumpet. http://www.devotchka.net

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. To learn more, visit http://www.coloradosymphony.org



Romance, dance, drums come to Boettcher Concert Hall; The Colorado Symphony American Festival launches
February 20, 2015, 2:13 pm
Filed under: News

The Colorado Symphony presents a vibrant selection of programs to bring music lovers into spring. Programs highlight the gorgeous vocal stylings of contemporary songwriter Rufus Wainwright (February 18) and classic crooner Jim Brickman (February 21); explore the intersection between symphonic music and tango (February 20); and celebrate the creative ways hammers, cans, and prepared instruments can be used to create sound (So Percussion, March 20).

On February 28, Music Director Andrew Litton kicks off The American Festival with a Masterworks concert that sees the return of CSO veteran clarinetist Bil Jackson. Running in five unique programs through March, The American Festival celebrates the artistry of America’s most accomplished composers, both traditional and modern.

All programs are at Boettcher Concert Hall, home of the Colorado Symphony. Details are available on http://www.coloradosymphony.org. Tickets for most concerts begin at $25. Students and K-12 teachers with ID may purchase tickets for $10 at the Boettcher Concert Hall box office.

The Art of the Dance: Tango
Featuring the Pablo Ziegler Trio
Friday, February 20, 7:30 pm
Scott O’Neil, conductor

Pablo Ziegler, Piano
Hector Del Curto, bandoneon
Laudio Ragazzi, Electric guitar

Pianist and composer Pablo Ziegler built his astounding reputation in the tango world as the pianist for Astor Piazzola. The rich culture and history of Tango will be brought to life by his trio and the Colorado Symphony. This concert will have you dancing in the aisles!
Ticket info
Video

An Evening of Romance with Jim Brickman
Saturday, February 21, 7:30 pm
Scott O’Neil, conductor

Two-time Grammy® nominee and multi-platinum recording artist Jim Brickman is America’s piano sensation. Experience the romantic sounds of this hitmaker’s pop-style instrumentals and star-studded vocal collaborations.
Ticket info
Video

The American Festival: Part I
Saturday, February 28, 7:30 pm & Sunday, March 1, 1:00 pm
Andrew Litton, conductor
Bil Jackson, clarinet
William Wolfram, piano

On February 28, former principal clarinetist Bil Jackson kicks off The American Festival, showcasing masters who have created, perfected, and expanded the American idiom in symphonic music. This program celebrates the work of living composer Kevin Puts as well as Bernstein’s iconic The Age of Anxiety, Symphony No. 2, titled after W.H. Auden’s poem of the same name.
Ticket info

Symphony at the Movies: West Side Story
Saturday, March 7, 7:30 pm & Sunday, March 8, 1:00 pm
Scott O’Neil, conductor

Experience Leonard Bernstein’s musical masterpiece and electrifying score live, while the re-mastered film is shown in high definition with original vocals and dialogue.
Ticket info

The American Festival: Part II
Friday, March 13; Saturday, March 14, 7:30 pm & Sunday, March 15, 1:00 pm
Andrew Litton, conductor
Anne Akiko Meyers, violin

Anne Akiko Meyers brilliantly performs Barber’s Violin Concerto, one of the most frequently performed concertos of the 20th century. Andrew Litton leads Stephen Albert’s RiverRun to close the performance with its lush, dramatic symphonic music.
Ticket info

So Percussion
Friday, March 20, 7:30 pm & Saturday, March 21, 2:30 pm
Scott O’Neil, conductor

Since coming together at the Yale School of Music in 1999, So Percussion has been creating music that is by turns raucous and touching, bombastic and heartfelt, incorporating traditional drums as well as pretty much anything that can be banged, hit, or struck. The ensemble is known for its exotic and unusual instruments including bowed marimba, glockenspiel, and hammer. This concert will feature David Lang’s piece, man-made, written for So Percussion. Don’t miss this evening of creative music that will delight all of the senses.
Ticket info
Video

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. To learn more, visit http://www.coloradosymphony.org…;



Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra Presents “Voices of Light”
February 20, 2015, 11:10 am
Filed under: News

A STUNNING EVENING OF MUSICAL THEATER
Joan of Arc stars in the oratorio & silent film

Who: Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra, Cynthia Katsarelis, Music Director and Conductor; Richard Einhorn, composer (attending both concerts); choir and soloists of Saint John’s Cathedral, Denver, Stephen Tappe, Music Director.

What: Carl Dreyer’s legendary silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, with oratorio, Voices of Light by American film composer, Richard Einhorn, a stunning evening of musical theatre.

When and Where:
7:30 pm Friday, March 13, 2015 at Saint John’s Cathedral, 1350 Washington Street, Denver
7:30 pm Saturday March 14, 2015 at First United Methodist, 1421 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Pre-concert talk at 6:30 pm on both nights. Presenters include composer Richard Einhorn, theologian Elizabeth Randall, and conductor Cynthia Katsarelis. Talk back immediately following the performance.

Tickets: Tickets are available online at: http://www.promusicacolorado.org, or by calling 720-443-0565. Ticket prices for Voices of Light are $25 General Admission, $5 Students.

Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra (PMC) brings the critically acclaimed and deeply moving production of Voices of Light to Colorado audiences next month. The chamber orchestra and its conductor, Cynthia Katsarelis, who garnered multiple rave reviews for their February performances, will be joined in March by the choir and soloists of Saint John’s Cathedral.

Voices of Light merges the legendary silent film masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc, widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, with a live performance of a ravishing score by award-winning composer Richard Einhorn. It has been playing to standing ovations in sold out houses throughout the United States. Carl Theodor Dreyer’s film, a haunting and powerful depiction of the trial of Joan of Arc, is magnificently enhanced with a live performance of Einhorn’s score. The visual intensity of the performances in the 1928 silent film, particularly by actress Renée Falconetti in her role as Joan, is extraordinary. The film has its own fascinating history, with the only remaining print believed to be lost to a fire when a virtually complete print was found in 1981 in a mental institution in Oslo.

The film is brilliantly supported by Einhorn’s skillful use of vocal parts inspired by Medieval chant and setting texts by medieval woman, including Hildegard of Bingen and Christine de Pizan. The music alone is praised as “lush,” “brilliantly effective,” and “moving” by the New York Times, Washington Post and Chicago Sun Times, and has attracted a huge audience on its own. Einhorn plans to attend the performances in Denver and Boulder, offering pre-concert remarks and remaining available for a post-concert “talk-back.”

Even 600 years after her birth, the story of Joan of Arc continues to capture the imagination and inspire 21st century audiences. In preparation for the concert during the previous summer, Music Director Katsarelis retraced Joan’s steps in France, visiting the very sites portrayed in the film. “Jeanne d’Arc, La Pucelle d’Orlèans, is an intriguing figure, the film is a masterpiece, and the oratorio adds incredible perspective to the story. Combined, it’s an extraordinarily compelling and moving blockbuster event. Don’t miss it!” says Katsarelis.

Ticket prices to Voices of Light: $25 General, $5 Students. Tickets are available online at: http://www.promusicacolorado.org. For further information, or to purchase tickets by phone, call: 720-443-0565

About Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra and Cynthia Katsarelis, Music Director & Conductor
Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra is a professional chamber orchestra presenting excellent performances classic to cutting edge. Reviews in the Boulder Daily Camera called PMC’s performances of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio “a triumph.” Opus Colorado has written on Pro Musica Colorado performances as “absolutely sensational,” “electric,” and “full of joy.” Peter Alexander described Pro Musica’s playing as having “a transparency and warmth of sound.” Cynthia Katsarelis has served with the Cincinnati Symphony, Pops and May Festival, the Greensboro (N.C.) Symphony, and has conducted many professional, college, and youth orchestras. For the past three seasons, she has guest conducted the Colorado Music Festival’s Young People’s Concerts. Katsarelis is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, with degrees in both violin and conducting.



Colorado Ballet closes 2014-2015 season with Peter and the Wolf
February 13, 2015, 2:59 pm
Filed under: News

Colorado Ballet will close its 2014-2015 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. The production will open with a special performance of Bruch Violin Concerto No.1.

Peter and the Wolf is choreographed by Michael Smuin and includes a musical score by Sergei Prokofiev.  Smuin was an Emmy, Drama Desk and Tony Award winner for outstanding achievements in choreography and best direction of a musical.

“This irresistible family adventure with Prokofiev’s familiar music, vibrant costumes and lively dancing demonstrates true bravery and imagination,” said Gil Boggs, Colorado Ballet Artistic Director.  “With the help of his animal friends, clever young Peter captures a menacing wolf and becomes the hero of his village.”

Peter and the Wolf will also feature live narration of the story.

The opening ballet, Bruch Violin Concerto No.1 is choreographed by Clark Tippet and features music by Max Bruch.  Colorado Ballet first performed the Bruch Violin Concerto No.1 in 2007.

“The Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1 is the perfect short ballet to open the production,” said Boggs.  “This is the perfect production for the entire family because it is whimsical, beautiful and the musical selections by themselves are outstanding.  Shows are already filling up, so I encourage patrons to purchase tickets early before we sell out.”

Performance Dates and Times:
Friday, March 27, 2015 @ 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 28, 2015 @ 2 p.m.
Saturday, March 28, 2015 @ 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 29, 2015 @ 2 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $25 to $155. To purchase tickets, visit http://www.ColoradoBallet.org or call 303-837-8888 ext. 2.

About Colorado Ballet
Established in 1961 by Lillian Covillo and Freidann Parker, Colorado Ballet is a non-profit organization celebrating 54 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.  Visit http://www.coloradoballet.org.

For more information contact:
sanya.andersenvie@coloradoballet.org
http://www.coloradoballet.org



QUEEN CHRISTINA: AMBIGUOUS ICON WHO LEFT A CONTROVERSIAL TRAIL OF LOVE, POWER AND MUSIC
February 13, 2015, 2:33 pm
Filed under: News

Declared a boy at birth, reassigned as a girl the following day, then raised to be “king” of Sweden during the mid-1600s, flamboyant Christina left a trail of ambiguous controversy that extended into many aspects of her life and across numerous countries of Europe.

In this creative concert, contemporary conjecture woven with historical facts combine in an original narration (Jean Hodges, narrator) while Christina (sung by Marjorie Bunday, mezzo soprano), choir, soloists, and period instruments lead the audience through gorgeous music of Giacomo Carissimi, Carlo Gesualdo, Alessandro Stradella and other composers.

A pre-concert talk (Kathy Kuscan and Mimi Mitchell, presenters) will focus on the possibilities of a gender-variant life in the 1600s, referenced by what such a life is today, as well as an academic synopsis of the music performed.

“This concert is the end result of a concept first imagined by my friend Mimi Mitchell, who had read about the great music patron, Queen Christina of Sweden,” explained Artistic Director Evanne Browne.  “Having successfully incorporated narration in a previous concert, we knew Christina’s story had to be told along with the music she inspired.  Once again, we’re offering audiences an entirely new experience of some wonderful music rarely heard in Colorado, or elsewhere, for that matter.”

A contentious religious conversion, an unexpected abdication from her crown and a variety of scandalous relationships all helped to create the controversy of Christina’s life.  But the music, art and scholarship Christina lived with, inspired and commissioned remain a pure testament to the multi-faceted beauty of the baroque era.

Now in its fourth season, Seicento Baroque Ensemble, an auditioned choir, was founded to fill the previously unmet early baroque niche in the region’s robust choral music scene.

As usual, the choir, trained in historically-informed styles, will be accompanied by period instruments and will feature the vocal solo work of Marjorie Bunday (mezzo soprano in the costumed role of Queen Christina), Abigail Chapman (soprano); and Steven Soph (tenor).

The Ensemble gratefully acknowledges the co-sponsorship of this concert by Out Boulder as well as a grant from Awesome Boulder.

Concert details:

Friday, March 6, 7:30 pm (6:45 pre-concert talk)
St. Paul Lutheran Church
1600 Grant Street
Denver, CO

Saturday, March 7, 7:30 pm (6:45 pre-concert talk)
First Congregational Church
1128 Pine Street
Boulder, CO

Tickets:  $20, $18, $10

Sunday, March 8, 2:00 pm (one-hour concert)
Stanley Concert Hall
333 E. Wonderview Avenue
Estes Park, CO

For further information and to purchase tickets:  http://www.seicentobaroque.org



Boulder Chamber Orchestra “Charm” with special guest Cobus Du Toit, flute
February 11, 2015, 3:44 pm
Filed under: News

The Boulder Chamber Orchestra (BCO) will present “Charm” with special guest Cobus Du Toit, flute on Friday, March 6, 2015 at the First United Methodist Church of Boulder at 7:30 PM and on Saturday, March 7, 2015 at the Broomfield Auditorium at 7:30 PM.

“Charm” includes:
• MendelssohnHebrides Overture
 NielsenFlute Concerto
• MozartSymphony No. 38 in D Major, K. 504, “The Prague”

For more information and to purchase tickets please call: (303) 583-1278 or visit http://www.boulderchamberorchestra.org.

What: “Charm” – Boulder Chamber Orchestra

When: 
March 6, 2015 7:30 pm at the First United Methodist Church of Boulder, 1421 Spruce St., Boulder, CO 80302
March 7, 2015 7:30 pm at the Broomfield Auditorium, 3 Community Park Rd., Broomfield, CO  80020

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 is a nonprofit organization committed to providing exceptional chamber music programming, education, and outreach. Our mission is to promote classical musical arts and education with live and recorded performances of the highest standard.

For more information:  Jennifer Slater, Managing Director, Boulder Chamber Orchestra (303) 583-1278 or email jennifer@boulderchamberorchestra.org



The Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra with Yumi Hwang-Williams and Daniel Cox are World-class

I always admonish you readers to attend as many concerts as you possibly can. One of the reasons is that there are many remarkably fine ensembles here in the state of Colorado, and their excellence often takes new concertgoers by surprise. And sometimes, it takes veteran concertgoers such as myself completely by surprise even though I know the ensemble which is performing has an outstanding reputation.

I had the great privilege Friday evening, February 6, to hear a truly outstanding concert, and even the word outstanding does not describe the excellence of the performance. Without exaggeration, it was truly world-class.

The performance that I’m referring to was the concert at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral given by the Colorado Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Maestra Cynthia Katsarelis. The guest artist at the concert was Yumi Hwang-Williams, violin, and the guest composer was Daniel Cox.

The performance opened with a World Premiere of a work by Daniel Cox entitled … I give you my sprig of lilac. Composer, Saxophonist, and Pianist from Kansas City, Missouri. BA in Music and BA in Psychology from University of Missouri-Columbia, 2012. Currently working on MM in Music Composition at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where he studies with Daniel Kellogg. Daniel Cox also won the University of Colorado Boulder composition competition.

This work was commissioned for the Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra’s 2014-2015 concert season, and it is a response to Walt Whitman’s poem, When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom’d. As the program notes written by Daniel Cox state: “This piece is my musical response to Walt Whitman’s famous poem, When Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom’d, written in 1865 in response to the death of Abraham Lincoln. Whitman’s poem uses natural and idyllic imagery to ruminate on the nature of life and death. The result is one of coexisting sadness and beauty and the fleeting world that surrounds us. My goal with this piece was to process how Whitman’s poem made me feel while reading it and translate those emotions through music.”

Daniel Cox certainly realized his goal in this piece. This was an absolutely gorgeous piece of music that had sustained tone clusters that moved very slowly creating not only tension and release, but creating a vivid impression that these tone clusters had a chordal function. That is rare, because you must realize that tone clusters contain no obvious leading tone. In addition, there was some discernible counterpoint that appeared in the last half of the piece that was in three voices: viola, cello, and violin. The orchestration of this piece – and it was for just a string orchestra – was remarkably skillful, and the entire work was so artistic that it seemed to have come from the pen and mind of someone much older. This was a piece that could be listened to again and again. It is my sincere hope that Maestra Katsarelis and the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra perform this again and soon. I promise you that you will hear a great deal about, and from, Daniel Cox.

I might add that the sensitivity with which this chamber orchestra played Cox’s composition left me with the impression that they were thoroughly enamored with it. There were also some new faces in the orchestra, and there is no question that Maestra Katsarelis is very demanding at the auditions. This has always been a very good chamber orchestra, but I have never heard them play as beautifully as they did Friday evening.

Following the splendid work by Daniel Cox, the Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra performed the Fantasia On a Theme by Thomas Tallis, which was written by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958). Ralph Vaughn Williams, as I am sure most of you readers are aware, is one of the outstanding English composers of the 20th century. Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) was another major English composer, and one will find his name in almost every collection of English music from the 1500s. As a matter of fact, one of my professors in undergraduate school, Willi Apel, told me that Tallis was so well thought of that Queen Elizabeth allowed him to use the paper to compose on (because of its fine quality) which hitherto had been used exclusively for printing.

In 1567, Tallis contributed nine vernacular psalm settings for a Salter being compiled by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker. These nine songs became quite obscure after Tallis died, and as Maestra Katsarelis pointed out in the pre-concert lecture (which all of you should attend), Vaughan Williams was familiar with these through his second calling which was musicology. The name of the Tallis tune that Vaughan Williams chose was Why Fum’th in Fight. Katsarelis also pointed out that this original tune was written in the Phrygian mode. Modes are different from scales in that there is no leading tone as there are in major and minor scales. It was in 1558 that Italian theorist, Gioseffo Zarlino, codified major and minor in a four volume treatise translated as the Institution of Harmony. The primary use of modes was to describe the ambitus of the melodies and Gregorian chant or pre-major and minor melodic lines.

Maestra Katsarelis divided the chamber orchestra into two sections, one of which remained in the Crossing of St. John’s, while the other was placed in the Ambulatory, which is the area closest to the alter. I point out that the orchestra members situated in the Ambulatory faced the congregation so that their sound was projected outward, and thus, not allowed to bounce off the walls of the Ambulatory. Katsarelis did this because Vaughan Williams wanted to take advantage of the antiphonal effect of Tallis’s score. I point out that this effect is felt in the opening bars before Tallis’ melody is heard in the low pizzicato strings. As one may take for granted, the two orchestras are treated separately, and there are some remarkable melodic lines for solo violin and viola. Towards the end of the work, the solo violin brings the music to a close, but it is a close in which these fine musicians seemed to evoke an extraordinary eternal rest. It was an absolutely wonderful performance, and there is no question that this piece by Vaughan Williams be placed in the same stratosphere as the Dvořák Serenade for Strings and the Serenade for Strings by Josef Suk. This was a wonderful performance, and it was profoundly moving. It pointed out that every musician in this orchestra is truly exceptional.

Following the intermission, Yumi Hwang-Williams joined the Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra and performed one of the finest violin concertos of the 20th century, the Violin Concerto Nr. 2, “The American Four Seasons” by Philip Glass (b. 1937). Before I introduce this concerto, I will tell you readers a little about Yumi Hwang-Williams.

I know that all of you recognize the name, for she is the concertmaster of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. She made her concert debut as a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra when she was 21 years old. She has soloed with the Cincinnati Symphony, the Indianapolis Symphony, and the Santa Rosa Symphony. She has played, toured, and recorded extensively with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and she continues to be invited there as a guest first violinist. Her accolades and experience are so extensive that they simply cannot be mentioned here, but she is one of the finest violinists in the United States if not the world. She has had experience performing the works of Philip Glass (she is a champion of avant-garde music), and recently performed Glass’ Double Concerto for violin and cello with Wendy Sutter and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

This concerto was commissioned by violinist Robert McDuffie, and it has a subtitle of “the American Four Seasons.” Glass gave it this subtitle because it is his homage to Antonio Vivaldi’s set of four concertos which he entitled The Four Seasons, or Le quattro stagioni. As Maestra Katsarelis said in her pre-concert lecture, Vivaldi named each of his concertos with the name of a season, i.e., Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Philip Glass does not do that because he, rather coyly, left that up to the audience to decide which season he was musically describing.

I had the great good fortune to be sitting rather close to the Crossing in St. John’s Cathedral. This had the advantage of a very clear view of how hard Yumi Hwang-Williams works when she plays. She has absolutely colossal technique, and it is to her advantage that she does not use this to impress the audience or to take extreme tempos. She is such a profound musician that impressing the audience, unlike some violinists which I shall not name, is far from her mind.

In this work, Philip Glass begins with a solo section (without orchestra) which he calls a Prologue. That is followed by Movement I. Following that Movement there is another solo section which Glass has called Song Nr. 1. This format is followed until Movement IV which ends the piece without a closing Song Section.

Hwang-Williams playing in the opening Prologue was wonderfully sensitive, and it was emphasized by such an amazing confidence and conviction that the audience was profoundly moved. I was happy to see that the program notes included the make of violin that Ms. Hwang-Williams owns. It was made in 1752 by Carlo Landolfi in Milan, Italy. The sound of her violin is remarkable but no less so than her ability to obtain amazing volume and tone from it. This was one of the few violin performances I have attended in recent years where the instrument and the performer truly seemed to be one unit.

Throughout the entire work, but particularly in the sections that Glass has named as “Movements,” there is a remarkable rhythmic drive and urgency from the orchestra. Yumi Hwang Williams echoed this character very easily so that one literally was sitting on the edge of his seat because of the irrevocable drive. Movement II was an exception to this drive, for it was sweet and lyrical, and even mysterious. Yumi Hwang-Williams’ playing is full of passion without being cloying and overdone, and her tone and phrasing is solid and very convincing. I truly wish that Philip Glass had heard this performance of his composition. Not only was this remarkable soloist exceptional in every way, but so was the Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra. I truly believe that it was one of the best performances they have ever given. I dare say that after the Glass, the orchestra looked totally exhausted but also triumphant as well they should.

This entire performance Friday evening seemed to be so full of mutual respect amongst the musicians in the orchestra, and certainly between the composer and orchestra, as well as the violinist. This was a performance clearly given by people who truly love good music, and the audience responded accordingly with a standing ovation. Yes, it was for Yumi Hwang-Williams, but I can promise you it was also for Daniel Cox, Maestro Cynthia Katsarelis, and the remarkable musicians that are in the Pro Musica Colorado Chamber Orchestra.




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