Five Memorable Classical Moments From 2018: Yo-Yo Ma, A World Premiere And More

December 21, 2018
Photo: Yo-Yo Ma Performing At Red Rocks Closeup Shot Of Cellist Smiling
Yo-Yo Ma on the stage at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Aug. 1, 2018.

Let’s look back at a few notable highlights from the year that we won’t soon forget, starting with a big event we’re still talking about.

Yo-Yo Ma at Red Rocks

It was a small coup that cellist Yo-Yo Ma chose not only to play Red Rocks Amphitheatre this past August, but to have the concert kick off his two-year world tour playing all six Bach Cello Suites in large venues. Onstage was only Ma, his chair and a mic stand to amplify his 1733 Montagnana cello to nearly 10,000 people. It may be the most intimate sold-out show in Red Rocks history at one of nature’s most beautiful performance spaces on earth. Attendees, and those who listened to the live broadcast on CPR Classical, won’t forget that powerful, shared experience. The Bach tour and Ma’s accompanying Day of Action continues to make news.

Celebrating 100 Years of Leonard Bernstein

Photo: Leonard Bernstein in 1945
Leonard Bernstein in 1945.

It sometimes feels like every year should be celebrated like it’s Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday. He made a huge impact on the collective western cultural psyche as a conductor and composer. His centenary was Aug. 25. Colorado Symphony Conductor Laureate Marin Alsop spoke with David Ginder about Bernstein’s most dynamic works in CPR Classical’s Great Composers podcast. And Colorado Symphony Music Director Brett Mitchell explored Bernstein’s influence on him as a conductor.

Remembering the End of the Great War

Arts and music are often the best storytellers of their time. The wrenching stories of World War I shaped an entire century and took over 15 million lives by the time it was finally declared done on Nov. 11, 1918. CPR Classical captured its impact on a few of the most notable composers and musicians of the time, including Gustav Holst, Maurice Ravel and Igor Stravinsky.

A World Premiere From Opera Colorado  

Photo: Steal a Pencil main
The cast of Opera Colorado's "Steal a Pencil For Me."

Colorado should be proud of the new works regularly played here. Living composers and world premieres add vibrancy to our classical music scene. (You can hear about many of them through CPR Classical’s Centennial Sounds podcast.)  Such was the case for Opera Colorado’s production of “Steal a Pencil for Me” by New York composer Gerald Cohen that tells a surprising real-life love story in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. CPR Classical broadcast the opera live.

Takacs Quartet Selects a New Member  

Photo: Harumi Rhodes in Performance Studio

The Takacs Quartet is hands-down one of the most respected string quartets on the planet. So it’s not unusual that they make international news beyond regular recital reviews. It happened again this year, when they named violinist Harumi Rhodes as their new second violinist. She replaces the retiring Károly Schranz in April. That makes an even female/male gender split in what was an all-male quartet before violist Geraldine Walther joined in 2005. The Takacs originated in Budapest, Hungary, in 1975. They moved to Boulder 35 years ago and became quartet in residence at the University of Colorado. If you want to see them live, we recommend you buy tickets well in advance, before they sell out. You can always hear or watch them in the CPR Performance Studio. They’re a favorite around here.

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