Opus Colorado

A new season for the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra
July 13, 2011, 9:18 pm
Filed under: News

The 2011 – 2012 season for the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra contains some very interesting and seldom performed works. For their first performance, listed below, the DPO will present the Overture to As You Like It by the American composer, John Knowles Paine (1839 to 1906). As there was no outstanding school of music in the mid-1800s in theUnited States, Paine studied in Europe, as did many of his contemporaries. He returned to the United States in 1861, where he became a member of the faculty at Harvard University. He established his reputation by being the first American composer to write large orchestral pieces. 

On the same program, another American composer, Daniel Kellogg, will have his composition, Pyramus and Thisbe performed. This is a work for small orchestra and an actor. Born inWilton,Connecticut in 1976, Mr. Kellogg received his Bachelor’s degree from the Curtis Institute and Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the Yale School of Music.  He has studied at Indiana University, the Aspen Music Festival, and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.  His teachers have included Don Freund, Ned Rorem, Jennifer Higdon, Joseph Schwantner, Ezra Laderman, and Martin Bresnick.  Mr. Kellogg served as composer-in-residence at the University of Connecticut in 2000-2001, and has since returned as a visiting lecturer.  He currently holds the post of Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Colorado at Boulder and resides in Colorado with his wife, pianist Hsing-ay Hsu Kellogg, and their daughter, Kaela Li. 

The actor in Pyramus and Thisbe is Frank Oden. A long-term resident of Denver, Colorado, Oden is also one of the most recognizable and award-winning character actors in the mile-high city, having worked in nearly every theater and appeared in numerous television commercials and film productions. As a theatrical playwright and producer, he’s written book, music and lyrics for several musical comedies including Blackbeard, Gumshoe, Punch, The Pecos Pest, The Fatal Glass, Easy Money and The Winter Rose, which was voted Best New Play of 1996 by Denver Drama Critics. His television scripts as head writer for two seasons of The Cyber City Diner on KnowledgeTV received two Telly awards and a Flame Award for children’s programming. Mr. Oden has directed more than thirty productions of original musicals, including a world premiere theatrical version of Heidi for Walden Media, and served for several years as Artistic Director at the historic Goldenrod Showboat in St. Louis and the Heritage Square Opera House in Golden, Colorado. 

Pyramus and Thisbe is another of the Romeo and Juliet genre involving a young couple whose marriage is opposed by their parents. In a variation of this genre, Pyramus becomes convinced that Thisbe has been killed by a lion, and in despair, he kills himself. Thisbe finds him, and joins her beloved in death. 

On the November 11th program, the DPO will perform the Brahms Piano Concerto Nr.2, with Katie Mahan as the soloist. 

A native of Colorado, Katie began her piano studies at the age of four with her mother, Bobette Mahan, and gave her first solo recital at the age of six. She has appeared as recitalist, soloist with orchestra, or chamber musician across the world. Katie made her orchestral debut in 1999 with the Breckenridge Symphony performing Gershwin’s Concerto in F, and has subsequently appeared with many orchestras in the United States, Canada, and Europe. 

Also on the November 11 program will be the rarely performed Dances of Galánta by the Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály. Kodály was not only a composer, but a highly skilled ethnomusicologist and music educator. His Dances of Galánta reflects the rich Hungarian-Gypsy tradition which inspired list and Bartok. This is a wonderful piece which none of you will want to miss. 

On the final concert of the 2011 – 2012 concert season, the Denver Phil will present another rarely performed work, the Saint-Saens Morceau de Concert. This is a composition for orchestra and French horn, and will feature the DPO’s own David Wallace, who is the outstanding Principal Horn. Mr. Wallace was the Assistant Principal Horn in the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and has played and recorded with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, working under conductors including Sir Georg Solti, Daniel Barenboim, Zubin Mehta, James Levine, Gunther Schuller, Henry Mancini, Bill Conti, and Keith Lockhart. His Broadway credits include the National Companies of Tommy, the Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, and Camelot. He has been back-up musician for Rosemary Clooney, Robert Goulet, Manhattan Transfer, Wynton Marsalis, Andy Williams and Nancy Wilson. In addition, David was a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, playing principal for two seasons. Presently he is an elementary music teacher in theAdams 12 school district, and has Kodaly Level I certification. He has been Performing Artist in Residence at the Denver School of the Arts, and for the Colorado Honor Bands, and has served as horn, music, and drill instructor, as well as musical theater director, at area high schools. 

Here is the list of the entire season. Consult the DPO website for tickets and further details. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

7:30 pm at the KPOF Hall

Frank Oden, actor

Weber: Overture to Oberon
Kellogg: Pyramus and Thisbe 
Paine: As you like it
Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story

Friday November 11, 2011
7:30 pm at the KPOF Hall

Katie Mahan, piano

Kodaly: Dances of Galánta
Effinger: Little Symphony Nr. 1
Armed Forces Salute
Brahms: Piano Concerto Nr. 2 

Friday December 16, 2011
7:30 pm at the KPOF Hall

Holiday Concert
Bizet: L’Arlesienne Suite Nr. 2
Corelli: Concerto Grosso Op. 6, Nr. 8
Waldteufel: Les Patineurs
and holiday favorites

Saturday January 28, 2012
7:30 pm venue TBD

Chamber Music Recital
A benefit for the Denver Philharmonic 
Repertoire TBA

Friday February 17, 2012
7:30  pm at the KPOF Hall

Featuring Young Artist Vocal Competition Winners

Vocal pieces TBA
Puccini: Capriccio Sinfonico
Verdi: Overture to Nabucco
Verdi: Ballet Music from Macbeth
Verdi: Triumphal March from Aida

Friday March 30, 2012 
7:30 pm at the KPOF Hall

Lamont Women’s Chorus

Debussy: Nocturnes
Bartok: Three Village Scenes
Beethoven: Symphony Nr. 6 

Friday May 11, 2012
7:30 pm at the KPOF Hall

David Wallace, French horn

Piston: Suite from The Incredible Flutist
Saint-Saens: Morceau de Concert

This truly appears to be a very promising season for the Denver Philharmonic Orchestra. As I stated above, there are some real gems being performed this season, for example, the Puccini Capriccio Sinfonico. And you certainly won’t want to miss the March 30 concert which features the Lamont Women’s Chorus, which is conducted by the outstanding Dr. Catherine Sailer. One could not help but notice, this past season, that the DPO audience almost filled the hall at every concert.

The Boulder Symphony Orchestra announces its new season

The ever improving Boulder Symphony Orchestra, under the directorship of Maestro Devin Hughes, has announced its new season. I might point out that their coming season features some really fine avant-garde composers that need to be performed more. 

Note that two of the performances given next season by the Boulder Symphony Orchestra will be given twice. Their home base is the First Presbyterian Church in Boulder, but two of these performances will also be done at Bethany Lutheran Church in Denver. 

Without further ado, here is their new season: 

A Collaboration with the Cherry Creek Chorale

October 14 (Fri), 7:00 PM, First Presbyterian Church, Boulder

October 15 (Sat), 7:30 PM, Bethany Lutheran Church, Denver

Johannes Brahms: Nänie
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Toward the Unknown Region
Francis Poulenc: Gloria
Johannes Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Haydn
Austin Wintory: Gray Rain (world premiere)

Starting from a childhood obsession with the music of Jerry Goldsmith, Austin Wintory’s passion for composing has led to a career spanning over 200 productions, encompassing films and video games, TV shows, commercials, shorts, podcasts, video art installations, and audio books. Beyond composing, Austin is also a strong advocate for music in the schools, particularly in early education, and as such is a very active member on the Board of Directors for Education Through Music – Los Angeles (alongside composers John Debney, Christopher Young, Michael Giacchino, James Dooley and many other music, business and education professionals)

Nov. 18 (Fri), 7:00 PM, First Presbyterian Church, Boulder

Johannes Brahms: Serenade Nr. 1 in D Major
Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring: Suite for 13 Instruments
Malcom Arnold: Serenade, featuring Patrick Sutton, guitar

Austin Wintory: Fugue of Fugues (world premiere)

Patrick Sutton began taking guitar lessons with Kevin Alumbaugh of the Evergreen School of Music at the age of eleven. His main studies in high school were in Rock, Blues and Jazz which later led to an interest in the classical guitar. Patrick graduated from the Lamont School of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree in guitar performance. Patrick is the only guitar major ever to earn the recital of distinction award for both his junior and senior recitals at Lamont. He is currently working on his Master of Music degree in guitar at the same institution studying with world famous virtuoso/composer Ricardo Iznaola.

A Collaboration with the First Presbyterian Church Choirs

December  9 (Fri), 7:00 PM

December 10 (Sat), 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM, First Presbyterian Church, Boulder

Holiday Favorites and Sing-alongs!

February 17 (Fri), 7:00PM

Chip Michael: Invisible Heroes (world premiere)
Aaron Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man
Dmitri Shostakovich: Piano Concerto no. 2 in F major
Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony no. 3 (Eroica)

The Shostakovich Piano Concerto will be performed by the winner of the Colorado State Music Teachers Association concerto competition.

Chip Michael is Composer-in-Residence for the Boulder Symphony Orchestra. Conductor Devin Hughes created the appointment for the BSO 2010-2011 season. The BSO will be performing You Can’t Catch Rabbits with Drums and Exchanging Glances (commissioned by the BSO) this season. Mr. Clark returned from the UK in 2009 after studying composition with Kenneth Dempster and Stephen Davismoon in Edinburgh. Currently, Chip is studying with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra’s Principal Percussionist, William Hill, while working in the Marketing Department for the Colorado Symphony on implementing their new website. With the assistance of the Napier Development Fund, the Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra premiered Chip’s Symphony No. 1 Figuratively Speaking in June 2008. 

A Collaboration with the Playground, contemporary chamber group based in Denver

March 31 (Sat) 7:00 PM, First Presbyterian Church, Boulder

Robert Schumann: Manfred Overture
Conrad Kehn: Playgrosso, Concerto for Playground and Orchestra (World Premiere)
Charles Ives: The Unanswered Question
Johannes Brahms: Symphony Nr. 4 in eminor

Conrad Kehn is a performer, composer, improviser, educator, writer and artist. He is the founding Director of The Playground; a chamber ensemble dedicated to modern music. Conrad holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Commercial Music and Recording Technology from the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music (1996). He also has a Masters Degree in Composition from Lamont (2000) where he was named the Outstanding Graduate Student in Composition and the Outstanding Graduate Student in Commercial Music. His composition instructors include Don Keats, M. Lynn Baker, and Bill Hill. He is currently pursuing an MBA at the Daniels College of Business focusing on Entrepreneurship and Non-profit Management. Conrad is a lecturer of Music Theory, Composition and Music Technology at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, where he directs the Lamont Composers Concert Series. 

A Collaboration with Cherry Creek Chorale

May 18 (Fri) 7:00PM, First Presbyterian Church, Boulder

May 19 (Sat) 7:30?PM, Bethany Lutheran Church, Denver

Johannes Brahms: A German Requiem
Austin Wintory: Inter (world premiere)

I think that it is quite admirable that the Boulder Symphony Orchestra is using local composers and a local performing artist, Patrick Sutton, for their coming season. True, Austin Wintory no longer resides in Colorado, but he is a Colorado native. However, in all humbleness, I would like to suggest that in their 2012-2013 season that the BSO consider two outstanding composers in the immediate area. One is Luis Jorge Gonzalez, Professor Emeritus of Composition, who lives in Boulder, and William Hill, who teaches composition at the University of Denver. These are two more composers who are very close by. And, look at all the Brahms they are doing. There is nothing at all wrong with Brahms, but instead of doing the Brahms Serenade, why not perform the Serenade for Strings by Dvorak’s son-in-law, Josef Suk? This is an absolutely gorgeous piece that is hardly ever performed in this country.

But, nonetheless, this looks like a very promising season for the Boulder Symphony Orchestra. It is a good organization that plays very well, and I hope that their audience continues to grow because their programs are always rewarding.

The Cherry Creek Arts Festival
July 2, 2011, 7:48 pm
Filed under: Commentary

I know that the Cherry Creek Arts Festival doesn’t have much to do with music, but I nonetheless feel obligated to give my opinion of this year’s event. I went, realizing that many of the artists were carefully selected from all over the country, so I did have high expectations. The minute I crossed First Avenue, I was very impressed by a booth containing paintings of Prairie landscapes that were really quite good, though I must say I ran across a couple of other booths that contained paintings of the same subject: quite a surprise, so much so that I began to wonder if this was a new genre of painting. It was only in the first booth where the technique was clearly refined, skillful, and artistic. 

Thereafter, I passed booth after booth where the work seemed to be of the kind of art that has mass appeal. In fact, it seemed very glib, and lacking much artistic merit even though it was well produced. Toward the end of the walk, I came upon two booths side-by-side. The first was a jeweler’s booth, and the second was a local potter’s booth. The jeweler was clearly exceptional, as was the potter. Both of these artists created works that could certainly not be classified as glib. In fact, these two artists were head and shoulders above every booth that I came upon as I strolled through the festival. I found myself wondering if all of the other artists were chosen because what they produced had a certain mass appeal. It was nice, but I would not consider it truly artistic. 

And, of course, I must mention the music. I heard some country-western and some popular music. There was also a young man singing arias in front of the toy store. He was singing the arias a cappella, that is to say, without accompaniment. It seemed odd to have a very fine singer singing arias; he did get some applause from those who understood and appreciated what he was doing. The other music, like much of the art at the festival, had mass appeal. And I kept wondering why the powers that be didn’t hire, for example, a string quartet or two, to accompany the art that was for sale? Does country-western music fit an Arts Festival? Why can’t there be artistic music to go with the art? 

The Cherry Creek Arts Festival will continue through July 4th.