Classical News

New Recording Of Opera Colorado's 'Scarlet Letter' Released

A scene from Opera Colorado's "The Scarlet Letter."

(Photo: Courtesy Opera Colorado)

Last year, Opera Colorado brought its premiere of Lori Laitman's "The Scarlet Letter" to the stage at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver. 

Now, listeners will have a chance to spend more time with Laitman's music, through a newly released recording of Opera Colorado's production.

As CPR News reported in 2016, "The Scarlet Letter" opened after six years of development. David Mason -- a former Colorado poet laureate -- penned the libretto, based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel from 1850.

Greg Carpenter, Opera Colorado's general director, said working on the new opera gave the company a newfound sense of confidence. Opera Colorado later brought "As One," a chamber opera about transgender issues, to Denver. And the company plans to stage more new operas in upcoming seasons, including the world premiere next January of "Steal a Pencil For Me" by composer Gerald Cohen. 

Revisit CPR's feature on the making of "The Scarlet Letter," as well as Colorado Matters' interview with Mason
 

Bassonist Tatia Slouka Represents Colorado In National Youth Orchestra

Bassoonist Tatia Slouka in the CPR Performance Studio.

(Photo: CPR/Mark Coulter)

Here's exciting news for a promising young Colorado musician: Bassoonist Tatia Slouka, who's played in the CPR Performance Studio several times, will take part in this year's National Youth Orchestra of the United States.

The 17-year-old Littleton resident told the Denver Post the orchestra will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York on July 21, record a performance for NPR and tour several Latin American countries. (She's a seasoned touring musician, having previously performed across Europe with the Denver Young Artists Orchestra.)

Slouka is one of two Coloradans in the 116-member orchestra for 2017. Colorado Springs flutist Jessica Shand also made the roster.  

The Denver Post feature on Slouka offers a peek into the life of a passionate young musician:

Slouka said she believes playing with the National Youth Orchestra will provide her with great insight into the life of a professional musician. But really, for her, the most important thing is how music makes people feel. She said that her favorite piece, Igor Stravinsky’s “The Firebird”, still brings tears to her eyes at times.

“Music for me is something that does something nothing else really can,” she said. “I think with every concert and every piece I play, I can bring more joy and more beauty into the world.”

Hear Slouka play music from Antonio Vivaldi's Bassoon Concerto in A Minor, recorded in 2014 in the CPR Performance Studio:

Audio: Tatia Slouka plays Vivaldi's Bassoon Concerto in A minor

UPDATE: And here's Slouka playing Mozart during a more recent session at CPR earlier this year: 

Audio: Tatia Slouka Plays Mozart's Bassoon Concerto, 1st Movement

Colorado's Newest Summer Classical Music Festival Gears Up For Its Debut

Composer Benjamin Park

(Photo: Courtesy of Flatirons Chamber Music Festival)

Each summer, we share our rundown of highlights at Colorado's numerous classical music festivals. 

This year, we add one more to the list: the Flatirons Chamber Music Festival, a newly announced event based in Boulder.

The festival, named for the huge rock formations on the west side of the city, will feature a brief schedule in its inaugural season. Organizers announced three dates at three venues in and around Boulder:

  • June 16: The festival opens at the Canyon Theatre with music by Igor Stravinsky, Antonin Dvorak, Jean Francaix and composer-in-residence Benjamin Park.
  • June 17: The festival moves to Ruby Red Farm, on the outskirts of Boulder, for music by Johannes Brahms, Olivier Messiaen, Jean Francaix and Erno Dohnanyi.
  • June 18: A final concert at eTown Hall featuring music by Ludwig van Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn, Dohnanyi and Park.

Organizers say they want to create a less traditional experience for the audience:

Throughout its duration, audience members will be invited and encouraged to attend open rehearsals, pre-performance workshops, and a variety of other interactive events. The culmination of the Festival will feature three primary performances in a variety of community-oriented settings.  These performances will highlight interactive programs of the highest caliber of chamber music while striving to break down barriers often associated with the concert hall. 

Read about more highlights across the state this summer with the 2017 edition of our annual classical festival guide.

Changes At The Colorado Music Festival: Zeitouni To Depart, Oundjian To Lead In 2018

Conductor Peter Oundjian

(Photo: Courtesy Colorado Music Festival)

Audiences at the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder will see a new conductor leading the festival once the upcoming season ends.

Jean-Marie Zeitouni, the festival’s music director since 2015, will step down in August, festival managers have announced.

Peter Oundjian, music director of the Toronto Symphony, will take over many of Zeitouni’s duties and serve as artistic advisor in 2018.

Oundjian will be a key leader for that season, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll play a prominent role at CMF after his one-year commitment, CMF Executive Director Elizabeth Maguire told Boulder’s Daily Camera:

"The role assumes many responsibilities taken by the music director," McGuire said, adding that the organization wanted to distinguish the title of artistic advisor because of its more temporary nature. "It is a one-year commitment, and we are not looking beyond 2018 at this point," she said, adding that "no doors are shut."

McGuire said that at this point, there are no plans for a full music director search in 2018. She said that the search will be a private process, in contrast to the public audition-based searches conducted in 2000 and 2014.

Jean-Marie Zeitouni

(Photo: Courtesy of Colorado Music Festival)

​Fans of Zeitouni’s work will still see him onstage at Chautauqua Auditorium after this year. He’ll return in 2018 to begin a three-year stint as principal guest conductor. (Oundjian served previously held the same title with the Colorado Symphony.)

Zeitouni’s term as CMF’s music director has been relatively brief. Conductor Giora Bernstein founded CMF in 1976. Michael Christie succeeded him 24 years later, in 2000, and stayed through 2013. Zeitouni became music director in 2015.

Zeitouni will lead this summer’s opening CMF concert, featuring pianist Olga Kern, on June 29. View more highlights from this summer’s CMF schedule.

Newman Center Shares Eclectic Lineup for 2017-18 Concert Series

Violinist Sarah Chang

(Photo: Colin Bell)

The Newman Center for the Performing Arts this week unveiled its 2017-18 season lineup for the Newman Center Presents concert series.

The programs include jazz artists, dance companies and several contemporary musicians whose work spans genres.

Here are a few of the artists headed to the Newman Center, on the University of Denver campus, during the upcoming season:

  • Sept. 28-29: Black Violin -- a violinist and violist who blend hip-hop, classical, R&B and other genres -- perform two shows.
  • Oct. 7: The Martha Graham Dance Company performs dance pieces by legendary choreographer Martha Graham, as well as new material. Graham founded the company in 1926. It has danced to music by many famous composers, including Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky and Samuel Barber.
  • Nov. 19: The King’s Singers, a six-man vocal group that has won two Grammy awards, performs as part of its 50th anniversary tour.
  • Feb. 1: wild Up, a contemporary classical group, performs a program that imagines a future music genre rooted in folk music from around the United States and India.
  • March 13: Violinist Sarah Chang performs selections from Antonio Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and the tango-flavored piece it inspired: Astor Piazzola's "Four Seasons of Buenos Aires."

Find full details on the next Newman’s Center Presents season, and check out highlights from the Boulder Philharmonic and Colorado Symphony 2017-18 schedule.

Will Renee Fleming Pull Back From Opera Performances? [Updated]

Soprano Renee Fleming 

(Photo: Decca/Timothy White)

She's hinted at it before, but the New York Times reported this week that soprano Renee Fleming is getting ready to retire from the opera stage. 

[UPDATED: Fleming later told NPR that while she's retiring some favorite opera roles, she has no plans to step away from opera entirely. This post has been lightly edited to reflect the singer's clarifying remarks.]

The superstar's upcoming Met Opera performances in "Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss may be her last in one of her signature roles, according to the Times: 

People who know Ms. Fleming, 58, say that she has been planning this moment for years. The novelist Ann Patchett, who became friends with her after finishing “Bel Canto,” about a diva with many Fleming-like traits, said recently: “For as long as I’ve known Renée, the thing she always talks about is the fact that it’s all going to end. She has always had this feeling: ‘I’m a carton of yogurt with an expiration date stamped on it, and that day will come and I’ll be thrown out.’”

So Ms. Fleming is trying to say goodbye on her own terms. “You don’t want people to be saying, ‘Oh my God, please stop,’” she said in London as she prepared to finish the “Rosenkavalier” run there. “Or, ‘I heard her when.’”

"Der Rosenkavalier" is the finale of the current season of Met Opera radio broadcasts. It airs Saturday, May 13, on CPR Classical.

There's a silver lining for fans of Fleming's singing: Classical MPR points out Fleming will likely focus on concerts and recording in the years to come.

She's given memorable performances away from the opera stage, including an appearance singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in 2014.

Renee Fleming sings the national anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl.

Fleming's Colorado fan base has two chances to hear her live this year. She sings with the festival orchestra at the Aspen Music Festival and School on July 30. And she'll help the Colorado Symphony kick off the tenure of new Music Director Brett Mitchell on Sept. 9. 

Boulder Philharmonic Details Its Schedule For 2017-18 Season

The Boulder Philharmonic in concert at Macky Auditorium.

(Photo: Glenn Ross)

It’s that time of year when orchestras unveil the plans for their upcoming seasons. On Monday, the Boulder Philharmonic announced the details of its 60th anniversary season.

The lineup includes some impressive soloists, including pianist Simone Dinnerstein and violinist Charles Wetherbee, who also serves as the orchestra's concertmaster.

Here’s a sampling of what the orchestra and Music Director Michael Butterman will perform at Macky Auditorium in Boulder starting in September:

  • Sept. 24: The opening night concert features Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 7, Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor. They'll also perform “Dreamtime Ancestors,” a new piece by American composer Christopher Theofanidis that's a tribute to the late choral composer Stephen Paulus.
  • Jan. 13: Dinnerstein plays two pieces with the orchestra:  J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in G minor and Philip Glass’ new Piano Concerto No. 3. The concert also includes  Arnold Schoenberg’s “Transfigured Night” and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Symphony in C.
  • April 7, 2018: The Philharmonic performs Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” with Wetherbee as the featured violin soloist. The concert also features Symphony No. 5 by Jean Sibelius, and violinist Stefan Jackiw performing Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No. 2.
  • April 28, 2018: The orchestra celebrates the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein with a concert performance of “West Side Story.” Choirs from the Central City Opera and Metropolitan State University of Denver help with the performance.

Read more about the upcoming season, and see highlights for the Colorado Symphony 2017-18 schedule.

View CPR Classical's Events Calendar for more details on upcoming live classical concerts throughout Colorado. Or read our summer season previews for Bravo! VailAspen Music Festival and School and the Colorado Music Festival.

Colorado Symphony Reveals 2017-18 Season Schedule

The Colorado Symphony performs at Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver.

(Photo: Paul Brokering)

The Colorado Symphony released its 2017-18 season schedule today.

Some big names -- including soprano Renee Fleming and cellist Yo-Yo Ma -- are set to perform at Boettcher Concert Hall. And conductor Brett Mitchell will assume full-time duties as the orchestra’s new music director.

A few highlights:

  • Sept. 9: Soprano Renee Fleming performs with the symphony. The symphony is billing it as a celebration of Mitchell’s official start as music director.
  • Sept. 15-17: The season’s official opening weekend features a program with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and music by two living composers: Kevin Puts’ “Millennium Canons” and Mason Bates’ “The B-Sides: Five Pieces for Orchestra.”
  • Oct. 20-22: Conductor Andrew Litton returns to conduct John Williams’ Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra and Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird” Suite.
  • Nov. 11: Bassist Edgar Meyer performs a new orchestral work he composed, as well as Bottesini’s Double Bass Concerto No. 2.
  • Dec. 10: Cellist Yo-Yo Ma performs with the orchestra.
  • April 6-8, 2017: Litton conducts Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo,” which he  recently recorded with the symphony. The evening includes music by Johannes Brahms and Samuel Barber.
  • May 25-27: The season closes with a celebration of the centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, as Mitchell conducts the “Candide” Overture and “Serenade (After Plato’s ‘Symposium’).” The program also includes Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1, “Titan.”

View the full season brochure.

Hear David Rutherford’s in-depth interview with Mitchell.

Check out our Events Calendar for more details on upcoming live classical concerts throughout Colorado. Or read our summer season previews for Bravo! Vail, Aspen Music Festival and School and the Colorado Music Festival.

Bravo! Vail Details Summer 2017 Season Schedule

The New York Philharmonic performs at Bravo! Vail.

(Photo: Chris Lee)

Colorado’s numerous summer music festivals continue to roll out enticing details about the 2017 season. Today, Bravo! Vail offered a look at what visitors to the Vail Valley can expect to hear this summer.

The festival announced a new project this year. Organizers commissioned a new piece for each of the four orchestras in residence at the festival, plus a fifth piece for Bravo’s more intimate chamber concerts. The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields will play the first new piece, by bassist Edgar Meyer, at the opening concert on June 22.

More highlights:

  • June 24: Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Music Director Joshua Bell and cellist Stephen Isserlis perform Johannes Brahms’ Double Concerto for Violin and Cello. The program includes Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 and Antonin Dvorak’s "Silent Woods for Cello and Orchestra."
  • June 28: The Dallas Symphony and Music Director Jaap van Zweden play an all-Tchaikovsky program. It features Symphony No. 4 as well as Piano Concerto No. 1, performed by Garrick Ohlsson.
  • July 15: The Philadelphia Orchestra and Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin play Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture, Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Yefim Bronfman and a piece by Mason Bates called “Alternative Energy.”
  • July 28: Conductor Alan Gilbert conducts his last Bravo! Vail concert as New York Philharmonic’s music director. It’s an all-Beethoven program featuring Symphony No. 9 and pianist Inon Barnatan playing Piano Concerto No. 3.
  • Aug. 3: The season closes with an evening of chamber music featuring Brahms’ Three Intermezzi, Steve Reich’s Triple Quartet and Philip Glass’ String Quartet No. 5. There’s also a new piece by composer David Ludwig.

Read Bravo! Vail's full schedule for 2017.

Check out season highlights from Aspen Music Festival & School and the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder.

A First Look at Aspen Music Festival & School’s 2017 Season Lineup

Aspen Music Festival and School unveiled details of its 2017 season today. The festival’s 69th summer will feature hundreds of performances by orchestras, chamber musicians and other well-regarded musicians.

In addition to attracting some of the world’s top classical players, the festival’s school mentors outstanding music students each summer. The school’s alumni include musicians like soprano Renee Fleming, violinist Gil Shaham, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and bassist Edgar Meyer, to name a few.

There are many enticing performances on the calendar. A few notable events:

  • July 19: Violinist Sarah Chang plays Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” in a Harris Concert Hall recital.
  • July 30: Soprano Renee Fleming performs with the Aspen Festival Orchestra.
  • Aug. 5: Guitarist Sharon Isbin plays Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez and a new concerto by Chris Brubeck.
  • Aug. 10: The American String Quartet performs a song cycle by composer Mohammed Fairouz.
  • Aug. 20: Music director Spano conducts the season finale, featuring “The Damnation of Faust” by Hector Berlioz.

View the festival's calendar for more, and watch for details soon on which Aspen Music Festival concerts will air this summer on CPR Classical.

View the 2017 summer schedule for Boulder’s Colorado Music Festival, which announced its lineup last week.

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