Classical News

Hear Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer Visit 'A Prairie Home Companion'

Chris Thile is the new host of "A Prairie Home Companion"

(Courtesy  Devin Pedde)

Last weekend's edition of "A Prairie Home Companion" featured some big names from the classical music world: cellist Yo-Yo Ma and bassist Edgar Meyer.

The episode, hosted by mandolinist and occasional J.S. Bach interpreter Chris Thile, featured music from composers Bach, Jean Sibelius and Elliot Carter.

Stream the full episode, or check out Colorado Matters' recent interviews with Thile and Meyer.

Watch an NPR Tiny Desk Concert featuring Ma, Thile and Meyer:

Renee Fleming To Help Kick Off Colorado Symphony's Next Season

Soprano Renee Fleming

(Photo: Timothy White)

One of the world's best-known opera singers will help the Colorado Symphony kick off its next season.

Soprano Renee Fleming -- who has appeared on countless opera stages, won Grammy awards and performed at the Super Bowl -- will sing at Boettcher Concert Hall on Sept. 9, 2017, the orchestra announced recently. 

The performance will also celebrate conductor Brett Mitchell's first concert as music director of the Colorado Symphony. (He's serving as music director designate this season, and spoke with CPR Classical in September about his new job.) 

Details on what Fleming will sing in Denver, as well as Colorado Symphony's full 2017-18 season schedule, will be announced later. Here are a few highlights of the current season.

Fleming is one of many opera superstars set to sing on the Met Opera's weekly broadcasts, which air Saturday mornings on CPR Classical. (View the 2016-17 season schedule.) Hear Fleming in the broadcast of "Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss on May 13 at 11 a.m.

Watch a clip from Fleming's performance in the 2014 Met Opera production of "Rusalka" by Antonin Dvorak:  

Soprano Renee Fleming in the Metropolitan Opera's 2014 production of Dvorak's "Rusalka."  

Opera Colorado Announces 2017-18 Season, Including Puccini And Verdi

A scene from an Opera Colorado production of "Madama Butterfly."

(Photo: Courtesy Opera Colorado)

Opera Colorado's still in the thick of its current season, but the Denver opera company just gave fans a glimpse of its next season.

The 2017-18 schedule at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House includes three productions:

  • Puccini's "La Boheme," Nov. 4-12, 2017
  • Gerald Cohen's "Steal a Pencil For Me," a world premiere production, Jan. 25-30, 2018
  • Verdi's "Falstaff," May 5-13, 2018

Read more about the continued appeal of "La Boheme," which the Colorado Symphony recently performed in a semi-staged presentation.

Check out a taste of "Girl of the Golden West," Opera Colorado's most recent production, in a CPR Performance Session. And hear our in-depth look at the premiere production of Lori Laitman's "The Scarlet Letter," which Opera Colorado debuted last spring.

Looking for more opera? The Met Opera's Saturday radio broadcasts return Dec. 3, and you can check out next summer's schedule at Central City Opera.

Hear The Opera Version of Stephen King's 'The Shining'

A scene from Minnesota Opera's producing of "The Shining."

(Photo: Courtesy Minnesota Opera)

Stephen King’s “The Shining” is an all-time great Colorado ghost story. King wrote the 1977 novel after a stay at the famous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park.

The plot is intense stuff. The ghosts at an isolated hotel haunt the winter caretaker and terrorize his family. The book inspired a 1980 Stanley Kubrick film and a 1997 miniseries filmed at the Stanley.

Earlier this year, Minnesota Opera debuted an opera based on the “The Shining.” Composer Paul Moravec and librettist Mark Campbell created the adaptation.

Now you can hear the music and follow along with some excellent photos from the production at Classical Minnesota Public Radio. The stream is available through Nov. 30.

This past spring was a great time for American stories making their way to the opera stage. As “The Shining” debuted in Minnesota, Opera Colorado premiered Lori Laitman's "The Scarlet Letter." Check out our feature on the making of the “Scarlet Letter” opera.

And check out our preview of Opera Colorado’s new version of Puccini’s “Girl of the Golden West.” CPR Classical will air a full performance as part of a special broadcast this Saturday at 11 a.m.

'Carmen,' 'Cosi Fan Tutte' And More: Central City Opera Unveils 2017 Season

The Central City Opera House

(Photo: Jim Havey)

For opera lovers, it’s never too early to start thinking about which upcoming productions you’d like to attend.

So while opening night is still about eight months away, Central City Opera just announced its schedule for the 2017 season.

The season runs July 8 through Aug. 6. The 2017 lineup for the festival, located about 40 minutes west of Denver, includes:

  • “Carmen” by George Bizet
  • “Cosi Fan Tutte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • “The Burning Fiery Furnace” by Benjamin Britten
  • “Gallantry” by Douglas Moore
  • “Cabildo” by Amy Beach

Here’s footage of singers with the opera company performing an excerpt from the 2016 production of “Tosca,” recorded in the CPR Performance Studio:

Watch more footage from the “Tosca” session last summer.

Looking for an evening of classical music before next July? See what's coming up on CPR Classical's events calendar.

Aztec Baroque? A Boulder Choral Director On Exploring A Unique Subgenre

Seicento Baroque Ensemble

(Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

A Boulder-based choral group explores an unusual chapter in the history of classical music this weekend.

Seicento Baroque Ensemble will perform Baroque music written by indigenous composers in Latin America in the 16th and 17th centuries. The program focuses on music by Aztec and Nahua composers from what’s now Mexico and El Salvador.

The pieces contain traditional chords and harmonies you’d associate with European Baroque music, but also incorporates rhythms from these composers’ native culture.

There’s a fascinating story behind the blend of cultures that created the music, and its rediscovery in recent decades.

Evanne Brown, the group’s founder and artistic director, spoke with CPR Classical about that history, learning to perform the unusual music and what makes it so exciting to sing. Click the play button to hear the conversation:

Audio: CPR Classical's David Rutherford Talks To Evanne Brown

Seicento sings the music in three concerts this weekend: Friday in Denver,  Saturday in Boulder and Sunday in Longmont.

Find more upcoming live music on CPR Classical’s events calendar.

Baroque Chamber Orchestra Opens Season With An Unusual 'Goldberg' Variations

Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado

(Photo: Courtesy of the artist)

The Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado opens its season this week with a concert that features chamber music arrangements of J.S. Bach and Antonio Vivaldi.

The performance includes a chamber music arrangement of music from the “Goldberg” Variations, Bach’s keyboard masterpiece. Concerts are set for Thursday in North Denver, Friday in Grand Junction and Sunday in South Denver.

The orchestra’s 2016-17 season includes a February collaboration with the contemporary dance troupe Wonderbound, featuring music by Vivaldi and Giuseppe Tartini.

And in May, the ensemble will perform a program called “Mozart Among Friends,” featuring music interspersed with readings of Mozart’s letter.

Find more upcoming concerts in Colorado using our Classical Events Calendar.

Check out our 2014 feature on another unique program from the orchestra: a “puppet ballet” performance of “The Elements” by French Baroque composer Jean-Fery Rebel.

At Boulder’s Planetarium, A Cosmic Choir Performance

(Photo: Courtesy Ars Nova Singers)

The team at the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder loves to show off its sound system. The venue hosts late-night laser shows pairing flashy imagery with music by Pink Floyd or The Grateful Dead.

But four upcoming concerts at the planetarium will feature a very different soundtrack, courtesy of the 38 members of Boulder’s Ars Nova Singers.

The unusual concerts “combine the visual feast of the vast universe with the intimacy of the human voice,” according to Thomas Edward Morgan, artistic director of Ars Nova.

The choir presented its first concerts at the planetarium, located on the University of Colorado campus, in 2015. The singers performed beneath images of the solar system and the Milky Way.

The program for the upcoming shows leans heavily on contemporary composers, including music by Philip Glass, David Lang, Meredith Monk and CU-based composer John Drumheller.

Ars Nova will perform at the planetarium at 5 and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4.

Hear Ars Nova perform Antoine Brumel's "Agnus Dei," one of the pieces on the upcoming program: 

A Look At Boulder Bach Festival's 2016-17 Season Schedule

Zachary Carrettin of the Boulder Bach Festival.

(Photo courtesy of: Boulder Bach Festival)

The Boulder Bach Festival has unveiled its schedule for the upcoming season. Led by conductor and violinist Zachary Carrettin, the festival offers unusual takes on the music of J.S. Bach and other Baroque composers.

The 2016-17 schedule includes concerts in Boulder, Denver and Longmont. Some highlights:

  • Oct. 14 & 16: A “surround-sound” program, called Concertos and Chorales Contextualized, that places the audience in the middle of strings, singers and a cathedral organ.
  • Dec. 8 & 10: A program exploring music of the Viennese Baroque with harpsichord and other Baroque period instruments.
  • March 16, 17 & 18: Concerts exploring Spanish Baroque music featuring Richard Savino, a Grammy-winning guitarist and lute player who will perform on the theorbo, a period instrument.
  • May 21: A “greatest hits” concert featuring the festival’s chamber orchestra playing music by Bach, Vivaldi and Handel.

View the full season rundown.

One of the highlights from last season was a series of concerts called “Venice on Fire.” It featured electrified instruments interpreting pieces by Italian Baroque composers. Check out this footage of the Venice on Fire musicians playing music by composer Barabara Strozzi in the CPR Performance Studio:

Musicians from Boulder Bach Festival's "Venice on Fire" concerts perform Barbara Strozzi's Aria from "Che si puo fare" in the CPR Performance Studio on March 16, 2016. Zachary Carrettin, electric violin; Keith Barnhart, electric guitar; Gal Faganel, electric cello.

View the full Venice on Fire session, or watch Carrettin play his own arrangements of Bach’s Cello Suites on electric violin.


Academy Of St. Martin In The Fields Set For Two More Years At Bravo! Vail

The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields chamber orchestra in concert, with music director and violinist Joshua Bell.

(Photo: Courtesy Bravo! Vail)

The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields chamber orchestra will return to the Bravo! Vail music festival in 2017 and 2018.

The festival's organizers made the announcement Sunday night at Ford Amphitheater, during the last of the Academy's three concerts at Bravo! Vail for 2016. This was the first year the ensemble, and its music director Joshua Bell, have been in residence at the festival.

The English chamber orchestra performs around the world and is one of the most widely recorded groups in classical music. The Academy is the first international orchestra to be in residence at Bravo! Vail. 

"Their music-making adds a fresh, vibrant, and essential artistic voice to our summer season,” Anne-Marie McDermott, the festival's artistic director, said in a press release. The Academy will play three concerts during each of their upcoming residencies. 

Bravo! Vail also hosts three American orchestras each season: the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra and Dallas Symphony.

Hear CPR Classical's recent feature on Bell and the Academy at Bravo! Vail, and check out CPR's guide to summer classical festivals across Colorado.