Classical News

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.

There’s A New Met Opera Music Director -- And Colorado Audiences Know Him

Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducts the Philadelphia Orchestra.

(Photo: Jessica Griffin)

Conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin is the new music director of the Metropolitan Opera, the organization announced today.

Colorado audiences know Nézet-Séguin from his work conducting The Philadelphia Orchestra each summer at Bravo! Vail. He’ll retain his title as music director of that symphony.

The 41-year-old will serve as the Met’s music director designate in 2017-18, assuming the music director title starting in the 2020-21 season. He replaces James Levine, the Met’s music director for the past 40 years.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer explains, it’s a huge honor for a conductor to lead both organizations:

With the Met appointment, Nézet-Séguin, an upstart just a few years ago, will be heading two of classical music's most prestigious institutions, putting both the opera and orchestra worlds at his feet.

"The conductors I have admired all my life divided their time between those two repertoires, and for me it's a question of keeping those two poles but actually making them geographically closer," Nézet-Séguin said this week in a call from Tokyo while on the Philadelphia Orchestra's Asian tour.

"So we happen to have a short train ride away between the two cities [with] arguably the two greatest organizations, symphonic and operatic, in our country. Of course, I feel very lucky I can do this."

Nézet-Séguin’s announcement follows a big appointment for another familiar face at Bravo! Vail. In January, the New York Philharmonic announced their new music director will be conductor Jaap van Zweden, who’s currently music director of the Dallas Symphony. Both the New York Phil and the Dallas Symphony perform each summer in Vail.

Colorado listeners can see Nézet-Séguin in action with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Bravo! Vail. Highlights of his schedule include Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony on July 15 and Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony on July 16.

More more summer classical music highlights, check out CPR Classical’s guide to the 2016 festival season.

Sing Along With Beethoven: A Public ‘Ode To Joy’ Celebration In Colorado Springs

Ludwig van Beethoven

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Here’s a chance to cross a big item off your classical music bucket list.

If you’ve always wanted to sing the mighty “Ode to Joy” from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony -- but maybe lacked the time or vocal chops to join a choir -- this weekend could be your best opportunity.

The Colorado Springs Philharmonic hosts a sing-along of the famous choral passages at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Music director Josep Caballé-Domenech says he’s excited to invite the public to help bring the legendary piece to life in what’s billed as an “interactive dress rehearsal.”

"We want to bring people together," the conductor told the Colorado Springs Gazette. "Even if it's not perfect, at least you have the experience that you can be powerful making music. The message is you can make music and be part of it."

The Philharmonic will follow the sing-along with two full performances of Symphony No. 9 on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs.

CPR Classical recently explored the massive Ninth Symphony -- as well as Beethoven’s entire symphonic output -- as part of The Beethoven 9 @ 9 Podcast.

Listen and subscribe to the series to hear the stories behind some of Beethoven’s most amazing work.

If you haven't heard the Ninth Symphony lately, refresh your memory with this great performance by the Chicago Symphony: 

Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony in a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.

University Of Colorado Composer Carter Pann Named Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Composer Carter Pann

(Courtesy University of Colorado)

A composer based at the University of Colorado in Boulder earned recognition from the Pulitzer Prize committee this week.

The Pulitzer panel mentioned Carter Pann, who teaches composition at CU, as a finalist for his piece “Mechanics: Six From the Shop Floor.” Pann wrote the piece in 2013 for the Capitol Quartet, a saxophone ensemble.

Jazz composer Henry Threadgill ultimately won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his piece "In For a Penny, In For a Pound." Pianist and composer Timo Andres, who performed a Friends of Chamber Music recital a few weeks ago in Denver, also received a finalist nod.

In a statement from CU, Pann said he learned of the award when he received a text from a former student.

“The Pulitzer is generally considered an orchestral or opera prize. This wasn’t my first time submitting, and this piece was a total shot in the dark,” Pann said. “It was totally unexpected.”

Pann began teaching composition and music theory at CU’s College of Music in 2005. He recently wrote a new string quartet for the Takacs Quartet, also based at CU.

Watch the Capitol Quartet perform the full piece in this video, filmed at the North American Saxophone Alliance in 2014. “The Mechanics” starts at the 16:10 mark in the concert.

The Capitol Quartet performs Carter Pann's "Mechanics: Six From the Shop Floor." The performance begins at the 16:10 mark.