Classical News

Colorado Music Festival Unveils 2017 Lineup, Celebrates 40th Season

Jean-Marie Zeitouni

(Photo: Courtesy of Colorado Music Festival)

The Colorado Music Festival returns this summer for its 40th season, and organizers this week announced what’s on the schedule.

The six-week festival will host featured musicians including pianist Olga Kern, violinist Gil Shaham and genre-bending classical trio Time for Three. Giora Bernstein, the conductor who founded CMF 40 years ago, will also make an appearance.

Music Director Jean-Marie Zeitouni returns to Chautauqua Auditorium for his third year with the summer festival.

Highlights include:

  • June 29: Pianist Olga Kern opens the season with a performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
  • July 2: Giora Bernstein returns for a program featuring Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s 35th and 38th symphonies.
  • July 18: String trio Time for Three performs.
  • Aug. 3: The festival orchestra performs Gustav Mahler’s massive Ninth Symphony.
  • Aug. 4: Violinist Gil Shaham plays a still-undecided concerto alongside Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

View CMF’s 2017 season preview and find more upcoming live music across Colorado at our classical events calendar.

The Colorado Symphony

(Photo: Courtesy Colorado Symphony)

The Colorado Symphony today announced the immediate release of its new album, a recording of the orchestra and its chorus performing Beethoven's beloved Symphony No. 9.

The album release itself was a surprise, but so was the distribution plan. The orchestra issued it as a digital download and on CD under a new label called Colorado Symphony Multimedia & Recording. (Naxos of America will help distribute the music.)

The move puts the Denver orchestra in a league with the Seattle Symphony, San Francisco Symphony and other major ensembles that run their own record labels.

The orchestra recorded the album with Prinicipal Guest Conductor Andrew Litton -- along with the Colorado Symphony Chorus, led by director Duain Wolfe -- in September 2014. The music was recorded at Boettcher Concert Hall, though not in front of a live audience, a symphony representative said. 

Listeners get another chance to hear Beethoven's Ninth played live by the symphony next Friday and Saturday with conductor Brett Mitchell, who assumes the role of music director this fall. 

The symphony earned strong reviews for its recent disc of Aaron Copland music, also conducted by Litton. The album landed on CPR Classical's list of favorite albums of 2016.

Colorado Pianist Set To Perform Music By Syrian-American Composer Malek Jandali

Composer Malek Jandali.

(Photo: Courtesy Malek Jandali)

Colorado Symphony pianist Joshua Sawicki is set to perform music in concert by Syrian-American composer Malek Jandali.

Sawicki's arrangement  of Jandali's "Piano Dream" is a highlight of a concert called Flow For Aleppo at 6 p.m. Jan. 21 at the Althea Center, 1400 Williams St. in Denver. The evening is a benefit for Hand in Hand For Syria, which offers aid to people in the war-torn country. The program includes Syrian poet Amal Kassir, Middle Eastern folk dancing and other performers. 

Jandali visited the University of Colorado in 2014 to talk about his music and the war in Syria. The composer's work mixes classical music with traditional Syrian music. His piece "Echoes From Ugarit" takes a melody found on an ancient tablet in Syria and adds an orchestral setting.

Hear Jandali's interview on Colorado Matters from 2014.

Watch Sawicki perform alongside Colorado Symphony flutist Brook Ferguson in the CPR Performance Studio:

Flutist Brook Ferguson plays Giulio Briccialdi's "Carnival of Venice" at CPR Classical with pianist Joshua Sawicki. Recorded Aug. 19, 2016 in the CPR Performance Studio.

View more upcoming performances on CPR Classical's events calendar

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.