Opus Colorado

December Reflections: The Ars Nova Singers Celebrate the Holidays with Four Performances
November 13, 2014, 4:03 pm
Filed under: News

The Ars Nova Singers, Boulder’s nationally recognized ensemble of 38 choral musicians, will present their annual holiday concerts, December Reflections, in four performances in December. The program includes special guest artists Christina Jennings, flute and Matthew Dane, viola.

The performances will be held:

Saturday, December 6, 7:30 p.m. – St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine Street, Boulder
Sunday, December 7, 4:00 p.m. – St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 1600 Grant Street, Denver
Friday, December 12, 7:30 p.m. – St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1419 Pine Street, Boulder
Saturday, December 13, 2:00 p.m. – Bethany Lutheran Church, 4500 E. Hampden Blvd, Englewood

Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors, $5 for college students, and youth. Tickets are on sale at our website: http://www.arsnovasingers.com or by phone: (303) 499-3165. Advance purchase is recommended; the Boulder performances are expected to sell out.

Artistic Director Thomas Edward Morgan: “Our annual holiday program has become a valued community tradition, recognized for providing unusual, little-heard music for the season. As Artistic Director, this is one of most challenging concerts of the season to assemble, constructing a program that balances novelty and tradition, mystery and jubilation, familiar melodies with innovative new sounds.”

The program begins in the medieval era with a sequence hymn in Gregorian chant and music from 15th- and 16th-century England, with works by John Plummer and Robert Parsons.
The ensemble will present several works featuring our guest artists, including the rarely performed Magnificat by the internationally acclaimed Colorado composer Jean Berger (1909-2002), scored for solo soprano, flute, percussion, and choir. This work will feature Christina Jennings, Associate Professor of Flute at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Music for viola and choir by Ola Gjeilo and John Ferguson will feature our other guest artist, violist Matthew Dane.

Ars Nova is recognized as a leading interpreter of modern music, and the program will include contemporary works by Trond Kverno, Peter-Anthony Togni, Andrzej Koszewski, and Terre Roches (of the famous trio of Irish-American sisters known as The Roches). Traditional carols in fresh arrangements by Stephen Paulus (who recently passed away) and Ars Nova Artistic Director Thomas Edward Morgan will also be performed.

For further information on the program or the ensemble, please visit our website, or contact Artistic Director Tom Morgan: tom@arsnovasingers.com.

Ars Nova’s 29th season is made possible in part by grants from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (Boulder County); the Boulder Arts Commission; the Boulder County Arts Alliance; Colorado Creative Industries; the Schramm Foundation; the Avenir Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The performances in the season are accessible to persons with disabilities. For complete accessibility information, please contact the Ars Nova Singers office at (303) 499-3165.

Guest Artists

Christina Jennings, flute and Matthew Dane, viola

Flutist Christina Jennings is praised for virtuoso technique, rich tone, and command of a wide range of literature featuring works from Bach to Zwilich. The Houston Press declared: “Jennings has got what it takes: a distinctive voice, charisma, and a pyrotechnic style that works magic on the ears.” Ms. Jennings enjoys a musical career made up of diverse performing and recording, collaborations with living composers, and work guiding young musicians. Ms. Jennings is the winner of numerous competitions including Concert Artists Guild, Houston Symphony’s Ima Hogg, and The National Flute Association Young Artists.

Active as a concerto soloist, Ms. Jennings has appeared with over fifty orchestras including the Utah and Houston Symphonies. In 2009 she premiered concertos written for her by Carter Pann and Laura Elise Schwendinger. The Washington Post described her performance of the Jonathan Leshnoff Concerto with the Fairfax Symphony as a “spirited, quicksilver performance.”

In great demand as a teacher, Ms. Jennings is Associate Professor of Flute at the University of Colorado Boulder, and on the summer faculties of Greenwood Music Camp and ARIA. She has also taught at Texas and Sarasota Music Festivals. In 2008 she founded The Panoramic Flutist Seminar with Leone Buyse in Boulder. Trained in the Dalcroze Eurhythmics method, Christina’s teaching incorporates embodied movement. In recent seasons she has presented master classes at The Juilliard School, Rice University, the Peabody Institute, and the Longy School of Music. She received her Bachelor and Master’s degrees at The Juilliard School, and her principal teachers include Carol Wincenc, Leone Buyse, George Pope, and Jeanne Baxtresser. http://www.christinajennings.com

Matthew Dane serves as Principal Violist of the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston, Assistant Principal of Arizona Musicfest, and is a member of the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado. Chamber music festival appearances include OK Mozart, Portland (Maine), Chamber Music Quad Cities (Iowa), Ruby Mountains (Nevada), Land’s End (Calgary), Snake River (CO), and Tanglewood. With the Boulder Piano Quartet and Jon Manasse he recorded quintets of Lowell Liebermann for Koch Records. Dane has appeared as soloist with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, BCOC, ROCO, and the St. Martin’s Chamber Choir among others; his chamber performances have been broadcast on NPR’s Performance Today and BBC’s Channel 3.

Dane co-founded the Brightmusic Ensemble in Oklahoma City. Summers Dane teaches at Greenwood Music Camp for highschoolers in Cummington, Massachusetts and also teaches a well-received Boulder Violist Session. Past faculty appointments include the University of Colorado, Metro State University, and the University of Oklahoma, where he earned tenure. He actively maintains a private teaching studio in Boulder. His Doctoral Document, which examines the teaching influence of pedagogue Karen Tuttle, circulates widely among amateur and professional violists nationwide. He is the proud owner of a newly-commissioned viola d’amore made by Martin Biller. Dane served the viola community as Editor of the Journal of the American Viola Society 2004-2008 as a Viola Society Board member at both the local and national levels. http://www.daneviola.com

Beethoven and Brews Returns December 4
November 13, 2014, 3:35 pm
Filed under: News

Colorado Symphony, Imbibe Denver, Colorado brewers partner to support the orchestra.

The Colorado Symphony and Imbibe Denver are pleased to announce the return of Beethoven and Brews, an original fundraising series that celebrates music and Colorado beer while supporting the Colorado Symphony.

Tickets are now on sale for the next Beethoven and Brews event, to be held Thursday, December 4, from 6:30 pm-8:30 pm, at VFW Post #1 Gallery, located in the Santa Fe Arts District. The event is sponsored by Renegade Brewery, which will provide with 4 oz. samples of their signature beers. In keeping with a holiday spirit, guests are encouraged to wear “ugly” holiday sweaters; sponsor Buffalo Exchange will have sweaters available for loan — and modeling in a photo booth.
Launched in 2013, Beethoven and Brews features small ensembles of Colorado Symphony musicians performing in casual, non-traditional venues, including art galleries and local breweries. Patrons enjoy an exclusive beer tasting paired with light hors d’oeuvres and musical performances. Proceeds from Beethoven and Brews support the Colorado Symphony. This December, the Colorado Symphony welcomes Imbibe, a Denver-based craft events company, as a partner in Beethoven and Brews. Known for both creativity and community, Imbibe’s successful events include Denver Off the Wagon and the Denver Flea.

Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 on site/day of, and include four 4-oz pours. Additional beverage and a signature Beethoven and Brews pint glasses will be available for purchase. A portion of each ticket purchase is tax deductible.

For tickets: http://www.coloradosymphony.org/Events/Beethoven-Brews

For sponsorship information, contact Christine Devereaux, Special Event Coordinator, at 303-534-0757, cdevereaux@coloradosymphony.org

About the Colorado Symphony Orchestra

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

St. Martin’s Chamber Choir: Remarkable serenity

Maestro Timothy Krueger and St. Martin’s Chamber Choir gave a wonderful performance Saturday evening, November 8, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. In this instance, this concert was really more of a lecture recital than an out and out performance with no commentary at all. Maestro Krueger entitled this concert The Art of Imitation: Palestrina. His explanation of Palestrina’s predominant compositional style was excellent, and I’m sure that everyone in the audience learned a great deal about music, and the value of Palestrina as a composer.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was born in 1525, or perhaps 1526, in a small town near Rome which was named Palestrina. He received his musical education in Rome through the church, and was appointed organist and choirmaster in his native town in 1554. He eventually became choirmaster in churches in Rome, and, in 1554, he published his first book of masses. Palestrina is known for his style of imitation in music, and it is difficult to think of another composer who lived before J. S. Bach (1685-1750) who used imitation so successfully.

If you readers are aware of imitation, you will realize that it is the restatement of a theme or motif in relatively close succession in the different parts of a contrapuntal texture. Do not let that jargon confuse you. Counterpoint, or contrapuntal texture, is simply two or more voices occurring at the same time. As Dr. Krueger pointed out, the old campfire song, Row, Row, Row Your Boat is counterpoint. If you think of that song, each entrance of the new voice is imitation.

The work of Palestrina that Maestro Krueger discussed Saturday evening is Palestrina’s mass entitled Repleatur os meum. The translation of the Latin is, Let my mouth be filled…[with your praise]. To make things more interesting, the title of that mass, and its musical theme, comes from a motet written by Jacquet de Mantua (1483-1559). This composer was a French composer who spent almost his entire life living in Italy. As Dr. Krueger pointed out, the composition by Jacquet de Mantua was a five voice motet, and it appealed to Palestrina so he used it for the basis of his parody mass. The term parody refers strictly to a method of composition and has absolutely no pejorative meaning whatsoever. As Maestro Krueger pointed out, when one composer borrowed a theme from another composer, it was considered a tribute. As a matter of fact, Palestrina wrote at least 50 parody masses.

At the concert Friday evening, St. Martin’s Chamber Choir sang the motet from which the mass was derived, and then, at Maestro Krueger’s direction, sang examples from the mass to show how they were related to the motet theme. This is certainly a wonderful way to show how Renaissance composers arrived at decisions in their composition, and how they used relatively popular thematic material upon which to base a mass. The advantage in using popular material is, of course, the fact that the choir would be familiar with that the tune even though it may go through some changes. One of the reasons that a choir might recognize the tune of a motet is because it was the most important form of early polyphonic (more than two melodic voices sung at one time – do you see how this could lead to counterpoint?). The motet went through many different forms from the Medieval period to the Renaissance, and even the Baroque period.

This kind of explanation of a piece of music from the Renaissance was truly welcomed by the audience. Maestro Krueger has a knack for explaining all of this detail in such a straightforward way that it was clear to everyone in the audience. In addition, I might add the fact that the choir that evening was a little smaller than usual. When one does a Renaissance mass, one does not need a huge choir, and one of the reasons is that not all of the churches or cathedrals had large choirs. Another aspect of a small choir is that it makes the text more audible. Maestro Krueger has always been extremely careful in making sure that the choir he is conducting can be understood, and he has the ability as a conductor to make sure that that is the case.

The performance that the choir gave is one of the most serene performances I have heard St. Martin’s Chamber Choir give. It was incredibly expressive, as everything that Palestrina wrote is, but it certainly reflected the peace of the text of the ordinary of the mass. You readers who may not be Catholic, must know that the Roman mass consists of two large parts: the sung part and the spoken part. In addition, those two sections are divided into the Proper and the Ordinary. Therefore the sung parts that everyone is familiar with, i.e., the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, are from the sung parts of the Ordinary of the mass. And the Ordinary of the mass is that portion of the mass which employs texts that remain the same at all times. The Proper of the mass contains items which are changeable, according to the season of the church year.

St. Martin’s Chamber Choir has proven itself to be one of the most delightful choirs in the region. Every member has great experience, and every member has an absolutely marvelous voice. Maestro Krueger has a knack for placing the members in the choir so that a perfect blend of sound is achieved. There has never been any shortcomings that other choirs may face. For example, some choirs seem to do liturgical music more competently than a 21st century work by a minimalist composer. The versatility of this choir is always impressive, and that is certainly why they are such a joy to hear.

Cellist Inbal Segev and the Boulder Chamber Orchestra are sensational

Friday evening, November 7, I attended a concert by the Boulder Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Bahman Saless. This excellent program was comprised of Igor Stravinsky’s Octet for Winds, Mozart’s Serenade Nr. 12 for Winds in C minor, K. 388, and a work that I was totally unfamiliar with, the Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra, by pianist and composer Friedrich Gulda. The cellist who performed the Gulda Concerto was absolutely marvelous: Inbal Segev.

Maestro Seles opened the concert with the Stravinsky Octet which is scored for flute, two clarinets: one in B-flat and one in A; two bassoons, trumpets in C and A, tenor trombone, and bass trombone. According to some scholars, Stravinsky began composing this work in 1922; however, there is a sketch of 12 bars that were to become part of the waltz variation in the second movement. It is fairly certain that Stravinsky wrote those 12 measures as early as 1919.

The first movement is written in a straightforward sonata allegro form with a slow introduction. The second movement is a theme and variations, which, like the first movement, harkens back to traditional form. It even makes use of a fugue, but perhaps, the most startling variation, is the waltz, which is arrived at with no warning whatsoever. As the program notes state, the third movement is based on a Russian circle dance called a “Khorrod,” or occasionally spelled Khorovod. This is a syncopated dance in which Stravinsky almost begins to emulate a fugue once more.

This Stravinsky Octet is a difficult piece. In fact, and this is a point that needs to be made strongly, everything on Fridays program was difficult, but wonderfully done, because the musicians on stage were all excellent. I have previously written that the quality of musicians in the Boulder Chamber Orchestra is extremely high, and that sentiment was brought home with force Friday evening. Stravinsky certainly enjoyed using woodwinds in his compositions, and his use and difficulty of rhythm is truly pronounced in this work. There was a remarkable sense of energy and rhythmic precision that made the performance truly exceptional. As often as I have heard the Boulder Chamber Orchestra perform, I have come to know many of the musicians by name; however, there are some musicians whose names I do not know. Therefore, I ask forgiveness if I have misnamed any of the musicians, but I believe them to have been Cobus du Toit, flute; Kellan Toohey, B Flat and A clarinet; Kaori Uno-Jack and Kent Hurd, bassoon; Andrew Converse and Kiel Lauer, trombone; and John King and Reid Johnson, trumpet. These musicians made the march, which appears in the first movement, a wonderful, an almost caricature, of a march, wherein Stravinsky seems to be enjoying himself immensely. It was delightfully done, and the virtuosity of the musicians was remarkable.

Following the Stravinsky, the Boulder Chamber Orchestra performed Mozart’s Serenade Nr. 12 for Winds in C minor, K. 388. This Serenade was written in 1782, the same year as the Haffner Symphony, K. 385, and while Mozart was also writing his opera, Abduction From the Seraglio. This was a rare period in Mozart’s life when he was not receiving regular commissions, and many of the works composed during this time were not finished. However, this Wind Serenade, the Haffner Symphony, and, of course, the Abduction From the Seraglio are among his finest works.

This work is scored for two oboes, two bassoons, two French horns, and two clarinets. At the risk of sounding as if I am repeating myself, it was the skill and virtuosity of these performers (and of course Mozart’s ability) that truly brought this work to life. But I cannot state strongly enough how fine this evening’s concert was. Max Soto, Kimberly Brody, Kaori Uno-Jack, Kent Hurd, Kellan Toohey, Heidi Mendenhall, Christen Adler, and Devon Park are outstanding musicians. I hasten to point out that from where I was sitting, I could not see who the other French horn player was.

This particular Wind Serenade, unlike the Serenade For Winds in E Flat Major, K. 375, is quite a serious work. The E Flat Serenade has five movements, and is quite cheerful and outgoing in character. However, K. 388 has only four movements, and truly takes on the strength of a symphony complete with an introduction to the first movement. In this work, the musicians were so attuned to each other in their precision of phrasing, dynamics, and precision of note values. For example, if the oboes were playing portato notes (portato is a note value shorter than legato, but longer than staccato), and the oboes were followed by the bassoons who also played portato, the bassoon portato was exactly the same length as the oboe’s. That makes a big difference in the way any piece of music sounds to an audience: there are no ragged edges, and the Viennese charm with which Mozart writes is clearly evident. It was pure Mozart. The oboe, wonderfully performed by Max Soto, has the dominant melodic interest, while the bassoons supply the forward momentum. In so many ways, Mozart has scored this work as he would a symphonic work: the horns provide the harmonic support for the oboe, and occasionally there are wonderful, shared solos between the horn and oboe. Maestro Saless truly seemed to understand that the musicians he was conducting were excellent, as he did not seem to be forcing any kind of interpretive conducting upon them. And there is no question that he knew precisely what Mozart intended.

Following the intermission, the cellist Inbal Segev joined the Boulder Chamber Orchestra for the performance of Friedrich Gulda’s Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra. Before I begin to discuss Friedrich Gulda, I will quote from Inbal Segev’s bio statement on the web:

“Inbal Segev’s playing has been described as ‘characterized by a strong and warm tone . . . delivered with impressive fluency and style,’ by The Strad and ‘first class,’ ‘richly inspired,’ and ‘very moving indeed,’ by Gramophone. Equally committed to new repertoire for the cello and known masterworks, Segev brings interpretations that are both unreservedly natural and insightful to the vast range of solo and chamber music that she performs.

“Segev’s repertoire includes all of the standard concerti and solo works for cello, as well as new pieces and rarely performed gems. In June 2012, she gave the U.S. premiere of Maximo Flugelman’s Cello Concerto led by Lorin Maazel at the Castleton Festival, in Virginia near Washington DC. In February 2013, she gave the world premiere of Avner Dorman’s Cello Concerto with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, and then performed the work with the Hudson Valley, the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia in Bogota, and the Youngstown Symphony. …Composer Gity Razaz is currently at work on a new multimedia piece for Segev, which will premiere in spring 2015 and explores the themes of birth, transformation and death through the retelling of an Azerbaijani folktale.

“Inbal Segev is currently recording all of Bach’s works for solo cello for commercial release in summer 2015. Her recording sessions are taking place at the Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City. Audiences will have the opportunity to look behind the scenes at the making of this album through Inbal Segev’s PledgeMusic campaign, launching in November 2014. Segev’s new album will be released with a companion documentary about her journey through the music of Bach. Segev’s discography includes two previous solo albums – Sonatas by Beethoven and Boccherini (Opus One) and Nigun, a compilation of Jewish music (Vox). She has also recorded Max Schubel’s Concerto for Cello (Opus One). With the Amerigo Trio, she has recorded serenades by Dohnányi for Navona Records.

“…She made debuts with the Berlin Philharmonic and Israel Philharmonic, led by Zubin Mehta, at age 17.

“Segev’s many honors include the America-Israel Cultural Foundation Scholarship (which she began receiving at the age of seven), and top prizes at the Pablo Casals International Competition, the Paulo International Competition, and the Washington International Competition. She began playing the cello in Israel at age five and at 16 was invited by Isaac Stern to come to the U.S. to continue her studies.

“Segev earned a Bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School and a Master’s degree from Yale University, studying with noted masters Joel Krosnick, Harvey Shapiro, Aldo Parisot, and Bernhard Greenhouse, cellist and founder of the Beaux Arts Trio.

“Inbal Segev (pronounced Inn-BAHL SEH-gehv) lives in New York with her husband, and three young children – twins Joseph and Shira, and Ariel. Segev performs on a cello made by Francesco Rugeri in 1673. She is managed by Barrett Vantage Artists.”

Without exaggeration, I will say that Inbal Segev is one of the finest cellists that I have heard. Her musicianship and prodigious technique remind me very much of the late Janos Starker, whom I had the great good fortune of hearing on many occasions because he taught at my undergraduate school. Every note that she plays is clear, and is done with the obvious conviction that it must relate to an overall scheme. That may sound like an obvious thing to say about a musician, but there are many musicians that I have heard where that simply is not the case.

Friedrich Gulda (1930-2000), whose Cello Concerto was performed by Segev, was a pianist (who can forget his Beethoven and Mozart recordings?) who became a composer as well. He courted controversy almost all of his life because he combined jazz with classical music, often dressed in a bizarre fashion, interrupted his concerts to improvise for the audience, and sometimes tapped his feet while he was performing, which annoyed the audience endlessly. In his compositions, as I mentioned above, he often combined jazz and other influences which annoyed the critics, and drove jazz musicians to distrust him because it was not pure jazz. However, he did study jazz piano with Chick Corea, and he performed with Miles Davis. In his effort to combine so many different aspects of music, he began to alienate the public, and it was almost as if he became bored with being the “traditional concert pianist.” He tried, valiantly to combine many arts into one pianistic expression. It clearly seemed as though the critics did not want, and therefore refused, to understand what he was trying to accomplish. It reminds me, quite seriously, of some of the rejections that the American composer John Cage suffered: the music world at large seemed disinterested in what he was trying to accomplish.

The Concerto for Cello and Wind Orchestra is a wonderful piece that combines jazz, blues, and some Eastern European jazz elements. It certainly sounds almost like beer hall music.

Guitarist Patrick Sutton, tuba player, Michael Dunn, Paul Mullikin, percussion, and bassist, Kevin Sylves, joined the Boulder Chamber Orchestra for this performance, make no mistake about it: this is a very difficult piece. This work contains a movement entitled Cadenza, in which the cellist improvises for the entire movement. Remember that cadenzas in concertos were almost always improvised, but often, some composers began to compose cadenzas in order to make sure that a relationship between the main themes and the cadenza was preserved. Nonetheless, the composers usually gave the performer the option of playing his own improvised cadenza.

Inbal Segev’s technique is one of the most formidable that I have heard, but like Janos Starker’s technique, it is always used to display the music and what the composer wished, rather than to impress the audience. Nothing was left to the imagination. I can remember a chamber literature class, wherein Janos Starker, after hearing a student perform the first movement of the César Franck Violin Concerto, said, “They say that a picture is worth 1000 words. You have just increased our vocabulary by 750 words. You must always aim for 1000.” There is no doubt that Inbal Segev is always complete. The portion of the first movement that sounded like jazz blues was done with total conviction. The portion of the last movement that sounded like “German beer hall” music sounded like German beer hall music without any hint of apology. She had the stamina and skill to do exactly what Friedrich Gulda wanted done in his composition. It was a wonderful performance and wonderful to listen to, and I hasten to point out that she received a very well deserved standing ovation. Some will say that this concerto was a carefree work, but I would disagree. I think that it was a very serious work that had cheerful moments, but it also had some moments that were incredibly moving. Inbal Segev showed that it was a serious work by delving into it, and producing some absolutely wonderful music. By demand, she performed an encore: the Gigue from the Unaccomapnied Suite for Cello, Nr. 1, by J.S. Bach.

This concert was one of the best I have ever heard from the Boulder Chamber Orchestra. Maestro Bahman Saless has surrounded himself with truly fine musicians, which, it would seem, is very easy to do when one is such a skilled musician himself.

Scott O’Neil to Leave Resident Conductor Post at End of 2014/15 Season
November 7, 2014, 10:31 am
Filed under: News

Colorado Symphony begins search for new conducting talent

After nine years with the Colorado Symphony, Scott O’Neil will leave his post as Resident Conductor at the end of the 2014/15 season.

“The Colorado Symphony is truly grateful for the excellence, personality, and dedication that Scott has brought to every single performance since he joined us nine years ago,” says Jerome H. Kern, the Colorado Symphony’s CEO and co-chair of its Board of Trustees. “Scott is a uniquely talented conductor and musician, and his contribution to the evolution of the Colorado Symphony can’t be overstated. We look forward to seeing Scott on stage at Boettcher as a guest conductor in future seasons.”

O’Neil joined the Colorado Symphony in 2005 following a six-year residency with the Utah Symphony. Named Resident Conductor in 2010, O’Neil steadily built a loyal base of fans, drawn to his accessible, often humorous, approach to conducting. Diversity, flexibility, presence, and depth are among the qualities O’Neil has brought to the podium. Audiences have seen him lead everything from traditional Masterworks to youth concerts to critically acclaimed collaborations with contemporary artists including Béla Fleck, Steve Vai, and Chris Botti, and Colorado artists DeVotchKa, the Lumineers, and Gregory Alan Isakov.

“It’s been an honor to work with this orchestra and to serve this community over the last nine years,” O’Neil says. “After fifteen years of having the type of job that demanded my full attention with one orchestra, I’m looking forward to guest conducting a wide variety of orchestras, as well as having time for more composing, arranging, and orchestrating.”

O’Neil is the creator and curator of the successful Inside the Score series, a multi-media concert experience that explores themes, stories and biographies behind some of the most iconic composers and works in symphonic music. With O’Neil at the creative helm, Inside the Score has examined everything from the genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms to the interplay between music and nature. Inside the Score attracts both new and traditional patrons to the Colorado Symphony.

“The Inside the Score series is one of my great loves and what I am most proud of,” O’Neil says. “Others, notably Leonard Slatkin, Marin Alsop, and Michael Tilson Thomas, have done similar programs, but our approach has its own, unique flavor. I’m the son of two teachers, and I feel that it’s in my blood to communicate – everything from the lives of the great composers to what the notes themselves are trying to say to us in the greatest masterworks.”

An accomplished composer and arranger, O’Neil contributed his talents as a writer when, in 2013, he composed new theme music for Colorado Symphony corporate partner Arrow Electronics. His arrangements of works by jazz guitarist and composer Pat Metheny will be performed during O’Neil’s final Masterworks program in May. The Colorado Symphony will celebrate O’Neil’s legacy and contribution during his Masterworks weekend May 9-10, with a program that includes his arrangement of Pat Metheny’s First Circle and Minuano.

The Colorado Symphony will begin a search for a new resident conductor in mid-November.

Inside the Score with Scott O’Neil:
Friday, November 14, An Evening with Pinchas Zukerman
Friday, February 20, The Art of the Dance: Tango, with Pablo Ziegler, piano
Friday, March 20 & Saturday, March 21: So Percussion
Friday, April 24, The New School of Composition

Scott O’Neil Conducts Victor Wooten’s Concerto for Electric Bass
Victor Wooten, bass
Saturday, May 9, 7:30 pm & Sunday, May 10, 1 pm

All concerts take place at Boettcher Concert Hall, home of the Colorado Symphony.

Scott O’Neil Biography
The Colorado Symphony’s 2014/15 season is Scott O’Neil’s ninth season in Denver, and his fourth full season as Resident Conductor. O’Neil maintains a strong commitment to making music of the highest quality accessible to young audiences. He served as associate conductor for the Utah Symphony, which he joined in August 2000. O’Neil has guest conducted the Houston Symphony, Houston Youth Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Annapolis Symphony, Florida Philharmonic, Tulsa Philharmonic, Portland Symphony (Maine), the Lubbock Symphony, the Boise Philharmonic, the Salt Lake Symphony and the Columbus Symphony in Ohio. O’Neil studied piano performance at the Oberlin College Conservatory, served as the assistant conductor of the Eastman School Symphony and Philharmonia Orchestras at the Eastman School of Music, and earned a master’s degree in orchestral conducting at Rice University, where he was the director of the Campanile Orchestra, a community/university orchestra. In 1999 he served as director of orchestras at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, Texas. In the spring of 2003, O’Neil was selected by the League of American Orchestras (LAO) to conduct an orchestra comprised of members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and advanced students from the University of Southern California in Synergy, a program created to promote young, contemporary composers. Also in the spring of 2003, O’Neil was selected by LAO to appear on the Conductor Preview with the Jacksonville Symphony. O’Neil is prominently featured with the Colorado Symphony as conductor and creator of the Inside the Score series, in addition to appearances on each of the Masterworks, Family, Pops and Holiday series.

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 Symphonyserves 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

It’s that terrific time of year again: Colorado Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”
November 5, 2014, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Commentary

Colorado Ballet presents 54th annual production of The Nutcracker
Made possible by presenting sponsor KeyBank

Colorado Ballet will light up the stage with The Nutcracker, November 29 through December 27, 2014 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. This holiday tradition features classic choreography after Marius Petipa paired with Tchaikovsky’s score performed live by the Colorado Ballet Orchestra.

This marks the 54th year that Colorado Ballet’s The Nutcracker has been a part of Colorado’s holiday celebration. The Nutcracker features memorable characters including Clara, the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugarplum Fairy as well as dazzling costumes, onstage blizzards and larger-than-life sets.

The Nutcracker is the best way to kick off the holiday season and it is a must-see for children and adults,” said Colorado Ballet Artistic Director Gil Boggs. “This enchanting adventure will transport audiences to a magical world of awe and wonder. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen The Nutcracker, every performance is still magic. That is why nearly 50,000 people see our production each year.”

In addition to Colorado Ballet’s professional Company and Studio Company on stage, more than 60 students from the Colorado Ballet Academy will perform as polichinelles, party children, soldiers, angels and sugarplum attendants.

“Year after year, Colorado Ballet’s presentation of The Nutcracker continues to be one of Colorado’s most popular holiday traditions,” said Boggs. “We encourage people to purchase their tickets early because last season, we sold out 19 of the 25 performances and the year before, we sold out 18 of the 24 performances. It is still as popular as ever!”

Performance Schedule and Ticketing Information for The Nutcracker:

Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Saturday, November 29, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, December 12, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday, December 19, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
Monday, December 22, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Friday, December 26, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Friday, December 26, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, December 27, 2014 at 1 p.m.
Saturday, December 27, 2014 at 6:30 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.

Sanya Andersen-Vie
Public Relations and Marketing Manager
Colorado Ballet
New address: 1075 Santa Fe Drive
Denver, CO 80204

Phone: 303-339-1630 | Fax: 303-861-7174

Terrifying evil and sublime artistry: Colorado Ballet’s Dracula

Halloween night, Friday, I attended the opening performance of the Colorado Ballet production of Dracula. As artistic director, Gil Boggs, states in the program, this is one of the most “theatrical ballets ever performed by the Colorado Ballet.” It certainly is, and you readers must understand that this is not a ballet for young children. The reason for that is that the dancers are so expressive in their presentation of fear, mystery, loathing, and gruesome characterizations that it would give them nightmares for months. This is not just a fun, scary night. It is an adult ballet done in all seriousness, and presented in a very serious way.

I have seen this ballet performed by this fine organization previously to this performance, but this was, by far, the best performance of Dracula that the Colorado Ballet has given. It was completely driven by energy: not just the dancing, but the musical score as well. The Colorado Ballet Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Adam Flatt, was just as driven as were the dancers.

The choreography for this ballet was done by Michael Pink who certainly has to be one of the finest choreographers today. I will quote briefly from the bio statement on his website:

“Michael Pink is an internationally acclaimed Choreographer and Artistic Director.

“Michael began his tenure as Artistic Director of Milwaukee Ballet Company in December of 2002. Since that time, he has established himself as a prominent member of the Milwaukee arts community, demonstrating his commitment to the future of dance through new work, education and collaboration. He is perhaps best known for his creation of full-length narrative dance works Dracula, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle 1943, Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Cinderella, Romeo & Juliet, Peter Pan and La Bohème. His love of the theatre and music is evident in all his work, he believes in exploring the theatrical values of his work through all elements of the production. His work has a wide audience appeal and helps foster a greater understanding and appreciation of dance.

“His talent for choreography was first noted and encouraged by Dame Ninette de Valois and Sir Frederick Ashton. His early choreographic work won him first place in the inaugural Ursula Moreton Choreographic Competition He was invited by Sir Frederick Ashton to assist in choreographing the Anacat Fashion Show for HRH Princess Margaret. He left the Royal Ballet School in 1975 after being invited to attend the first Gulbenkian Choreographic Summer Program as one of eight choreographers and composers, lead by Glen Tetley, Mary Hicks and Dame Peggy van Praggh.

“Michael has established himself as an International Teacher with, amongst other companies the Norwegian National Ballet, Aterballetto, Balleto di Toscanna Italy, The Hartford Ballet U.S.A. Rozas Dance Company, London Contemporary Dance Company, Ballet Rambert, The White Oaks Dance Project, English National Ballet, Phoenix Dance Company and London City Ballet.”

The program notes state that Michael Pink often relies upon the English composer, Philip Feeney, to provide the musical score for his ballets. The production of Dracula certainly makes that clear simply because the choreography and the music fit so closely together that they seem to be inseparable. It is difficult to imagine which came first: the energy of the choreography, or the energy of the musical score.

I will quote briefly from Feeney’s biography:

“Composer and Pianist, Philip Feeney (b.1954), studied composition at the University of Cambridge with Robin Holloway and Hugh Wood, and later with Franco Donatoni in Rome at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia. He is best known for his work in dance, which he first encountered in Italy and has since worked with many companies, including Northern Ballet Theatre, Rambert Dance Company, the White Oak Project and the Martha Graham Company. He has collaborated with many choreographers including Michael Pink, Didy Veldman, Michael Keegan-Dolan, Derek Williams, David Nixon, Adam Cooper and Sara Matthews, and his works have been performed by dance companies as diverse as Northern Ballet Theatre, Rambert Dance Company, Cullberg Ballet, Boston Ballet, Fabulous Beast, Scottish Dance Theatre, in addition to more than forty works for Ballet Central.

“Clearly inspired by image and movement, Feeney’s output is remarkable, apart from anything else, for its range and scope. Extending from full-length orchestral ballet scores to electro-acoustic soundscapes, even to jazz and hip hop scores, his works exhibit a capacity for making style work for him, by reinventing past styles in a post-modern way. For him, the crucial thing is that music for dance needs to make sense as pure music at all times. It needs to have that kinetic musicality and parallel logic that makes one feel that the music is right, and that it is the only possible music that could work for that particular choreography.

“From 1991-95 he lectured in composition at Reading University. He is currently composer in residence for Ballet Central and has been a longstanding accompanist at the London Contemporary Dance School.”

The momentum that is provided by Feeney’s musical score simply must be heard to be believed. It is extremely difficult for the orchestra, and that difficulty never goes away. The orchestra successfully conveys the impression that they are consumed by the energy of the choreography, and it is remarkable to watch the mutual support that the dancers and orchestra share. This kind of interchange is only possible if both the dancers and the orchestra share a common artistic goal, and that is possible only if everyone concerned is an artist. And, that is but one of the features that places this dance company at such a very high level.

Friday evening, Domenico Luciano danced Dracula. In this role, he was icy and cold and so dreadfully menacing that one never knew what was coming next. He toyed with his victims in the ballet, pretending to give them freedom, but always pulling them back into the hell that he created. He was very convincing as he slithered through the railing of a staircase and across the stage. He provided a palpable conflict between his own evil world, and the world of Harker and Mina which was one of purity and innocence.

Chandra Kuykendall, one of his victims, generated one of her finest roles as Lucy, and her dancing Friday evening was one of the finest performances I have seen her give. Anguished and lost to Dracula’s power, eternally doomed because of Dracula’s bite, she was constantly torn between wishing to escape from him and always being pulled back to him by his magnetic force. In a terrifying scene, she is covered with blood as she lures a small child to her death.

Jesse Marks danced the role of Renfield, a character whose complete insanity drives him to lick blood from the floor and consume flies and spiders. As long as he maintains his allegiance to Dracula, Dracula will keep him fed with the insects he constantly devours. Marks was incredibly and horrifyingly convincing in this role. He danced a beautiful pas de deux with Maria Mosina, while he was in a straitjacket, rolling Mina off his back and around his body without the use of his arms. He tries so desperately hard to warn Mina of the evils of Dracula, and yet he is tied by Dracula’s spell.

Maria Mosina danced the role of Mina, and her dramatic skill and acting ability gave this character a wonderful sympathetic and compassionate persona, which emphasized the evilness of Domenico Luciano’s portrayal of Dracula. Luciano and Mosina both displayed an incredible strength as well as grace in their performance. Viacheslav Buchkovskiy, as Harker, created the same persona of innocence in the role of Mina’s husband.

I have described these characters in this way, because the dancers in this company were so skilled in portraying the essence of each of them. It was terrifying to see Chandra Kuykendall crawling backwards on the stage to hide under rocks with smoke billowing from them. It was terrifying to see how Dracula toyed constantly with his victims. And the remarkable acting ability of Gregory K. Gonzales made it appear that he was the only clearheaded individual on the stage. He knew, without a doubt, how to defeat Dracula, and that knowledge kept him from being consumed by Dracula’s power.

In Act III, there is a terrifying scene in which the doors of the burial vaults of the Undead open at the sound of Dracula’s beating heart, and they crawl from their crypts, covered with the blood of Renfield who has been sacrificed by Dracula. I might add, that during the curtain call at the end of the ballet, the Undead adhered to their persona.

Lorita Travaglia directed this production and David Grill provided the lighting. It is clear that both of these individuals shared an obvious agreement as to how this production should be done. And I must say that Gil Boggs, the Artistic Director of the Colorado Ballet, has expanded (demanded?) the dancers dramatic and theatrical ability which has resulted in a ballet company whose dancers are the most expressive I have seen. And again, I feel stymied by the fact that there is simply not room enough to list every dancer by name. But the Villagers, both male and female, were absolutely astounding in the first act as they danced their sacrificial dance that would protect them from the dangers of All Souls Night. It always astounds me that many of the dancers in this ballet company can dance more than one role in one performance, for example Morgan Buchanan dances the role of a Female Villager, a Distraught Woman, a Well-To-Do Lady, and one of the Female Undead. To me, that seems like running from section to section in an orchestra, and playing a different instrument in each movement of, for example, a Mozart Symphony.

As I mentioned above, the Colorado Ballet Orchestra was sensational. Adam Flatt demands such perfection from the orchestra, and the orchestra seems to be so eager to provide that for the dancers. Of course, that’s what a ballet orchestra supposed do, but, in this case, it seems to be done so unhesitatingly and so thoroughly that in the performance, I have never been overly conscious of orchestral entrances: the support is always there for the dancers; it is never misplaced, and it is supremely expressive.

I might add that the sets in this ballet were extremely well done. I could not find in the program if the sets were owned by the Colorado Ballet or not, but I hope they are, for this ballet company now has the room in their new building to store and maintain sets.

Dracula will be performed tonight, Saturday, and tomorrow on Sunday. You must to go see this performance. You will be amazed at how expressive a ballet can be, and how your attention will be held by these wonderful dancers who possess such incredible acting ability.


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