Today's News: 12/03/2021

Cleveland region, bursting with community orchestras

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The Suburban Symphony Orchestra in a relaxed moment at the Maltz Performing Arts Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

“There are dozens of community orchestras in Northeast Ohio … and sometimes … these community orchestras even get the chance to play at Severance Hall,” the Cleveland Orchestra’s home, writes Kelly Quinn Sands in Wednesday’s (12/1) FreshWater (Cleveland). “ ‘‘The audience response is always rapt attention and enthusiastic applause,’ … says Randolph Laycock, conductor of Parma Symphony Orchestra.… Community orchestras operate as nonprofit organizations and are a labor of love for the musicians…. Jacob Campbell … a first-year conductor at Symphony West Orchestra in Berea … is looking forward to leading and educating the ensemble while also keeping the experience fun…. ‘I have had an amazing opportunity to be able to perform many great masterworks,’ says Bonnie Svetlik, flute player and current president of Suburban Symphony Orchestra. ‘I also really appreciate the social interactions and friends I have made.’ … With concerts put on hold in 2020 due to COVID-19, community orchestras have now cautiously returned to live performances….. ‘I think it really speaks to the vibrancy of the arts community here in Cleveland that we … have all of these community orchestras,’ says the Euclid Symphony’s [music director, Matthew] Salvaggio.” Also included is Heights Chamber Orchestra, whose “delayed season will resume … in February.”

 

December 3, 2021

Stutzmann debuts as principal guest conductor at Philadelphia Orchestra, looks ahead to becoming music director at Atlanta Symphony

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“On Thursday evening, Nathalie Stutzmann makes her debut as the Philadelphia Orchestra’s new principal guest conductor,” reports Peter Crimmins in Thursday’s (11/2) WHYY (PA). “Stutzmann has also recently been named the music director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, beginning in 2022, making her only the second woman to lead a major American orchestra … She began her career as a contralto singer, appearing around the world for decades with major orchestras, including Philadelphia. In recent years, she has led the Philadelphia Orchestra as a guest conductor.” Stutzmann: “Ten years ago … there were a few opportunities for some women on the podium. The mentalities were changing…. So, I thought maybe it’s the right moment for me. I have achieved almost all my dreams as a singer. I grew up as a musician: a pianist and a bassoon player and cello player. For me, musically, the apotheosis of music-making was to conduct. People were … very suspicious and judging … I don’t see myself as a woman conductor when I come to work with an orchestra, I just—I am a conductor.… What I really like in Atlanta is, I am absolutely sure … I have been chosen because they like my music-making.”

December 3, 2021

Greeley Philharmonic set for in-person Poinsettia Pops program

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“The much-anticipated Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra holiday concert Poinsettia Pops is slated to return … Saturday at Montfort Concert Hall,” writes Tamara Markard in Thursday’s (12/2) Greeley Tribune (CO). “For more than 30 years, the GPO has kicked off the holiday season with the concert [in] ‘the poinsettia-adorned Monfort Concert Hall,’ [said] GPO executive director Nick Kenny…. The concert will feature performances from the Greeley Chorale, the Greeley Children’s Chorale and soprano soloist Jalyn Webb. The orchestra will also perform new pieces written specifically for the group by Dylan Fixmer, the GPO Composer in Residence. The orchestra will be under the direction of new music director Lowell Graham…. After 19 months of having to go dark due to COVID-19, Graham, Kenny and orchestra members are excited to bring music back to the Union Colony Civic Center…. ‘The arts have pivoted drastically since March of 2020, and our concert halls remain below our capacity of 1,600 seats … which makes this recovery more challenging,’ Kenny said. ‘Fortunately, we now have the ability to livestream concerts…. However, nothing can beat the real thing—the energy, the passion and the magic that is live music,’ he added.”

December 3, 2021

Andy Akiho’s 80-minute, percussion-themed “Seven Pillars” aiming for Seattle premiere

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“Sandbox [Percussion] quartet had put in earplugs to rehearse Andy Akiho’s clangorous ‘Seven Pillars,’ a lush, brooding celebration of noise,” writes Zachary Woolfe in Thursday’s (12/2) New York Times. “Aikho, 42 … has written substantial works for steel pan … even a concerto for onstage Ping-Pong players and orchestra. But ‘Seven Pillars’ is a breakthrough for him…. It is being unveiled as a live theatrical event staged by Michael McQuilken, with striking lights synchronized with the music, in Seattle on Friday, and will tour … Because of the pandemic, it was first released in September as a recording, with accompanying short films…. A few years ago, he moved to Portland, Ore., where he [has] a friend who plays timpani with the Oregon Symphony…. That grounding has helped … as Akiho tries to get more of a handle on a booming career… ‘I had an email from Jon Batiste for, like, months, and I didn’t even see it…. And I was like, I need to get my life together.’ … The pandemic [changed] Akiho’s usual practice of rushing works to completion, and allowed for the communal development with Sandbox.”

December 3, 2021

Twin Cities’ holiday concerts return: Bach “Brandenburgs,” “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” “Messiah,” more

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“Last December proved a winter of discontent for those who treasure holiday-flavored classical music performances. But live concerts have returned this year, some resuming old traditions, others introducing new ways of marking the season,” writes Rob Hubbard in Thursday’s (12/2) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “Skylark Opera Theatre … is … returning to live performance with Gian Carlo Menotti’s [‘Amahl and the Night Visitors’] about a child who assists those three kings on their way to Bethlehem…. The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra continues its annual tradition of performing all six of Bach’s ‘Brandenburg’ Concertos…. The Dec. 11 and 18 concerts also will be livestreamed. If you want a little more background on the Second Brandenburg, Rob Kapilow will talk about ‘What Makes It Great’ on Dec. 16…. Neither the Minnesota Orchestra nor the SPCO is performing Handel’s ‘Messiah’ this December (though the SPCO will stream a past performance Dec. 4) … There are other options [including] the Bach Roots Festival…. What are you doing New Year’s Eve? How about helping conductor Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra launch [the Sibelius Festival] … Over the course of three weeks, they’ll perform all seven of Jean Sibelius’ symphonies.”

December 3, 2021

New children’s book about Florence Price, by students at NYC’s Special Music School

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“For decades, it was almost impossible to hear a piece of music written by Florence Price,” writes Anastasia Tsioulcas in Thursday’s (12/2) National Public Radio. “Price was a Black, female composer who died in 1953. But a group of New York City middle school students had the opportunity to quite literally write Florence Price’s history. Their book, titled Who Is Florence Price?, is now available … The kids attend Special Music School, a K-12 public school in Manhattan that teaches high-level music instruction alongside academics.… Recently … there’s been a blossoming of interest in Price’s work…. The students … researching Price … realized that although there were a few materials written about her life for grown-ups, there was nothing aimed at kids. That gave [English teacher Shannon] Potts had an idea: She would have her students write and illustrate their own book about Florence Price, and about how her music was rediscovered…. Kaufman Music Center … executive director … Kate Sheeran … was so impressed that she ordered a small, self-published print run of their work. She sent it … to … Robert Thompson, the president of G. Schirmer…. Thompson agreed to publish the book; all royalties will go to Kaufman Music Center.”

December 3, 2021

Fresno Philharmonic returns to Saroyan Theatre for holiday program

Industry Buzz

The Fresno Philharmonic’s holiday-themed family program on December 4 will represent the orchestra’s first time back performing at Fresno’s Saroyan Theatre in nearly two years. Music Director Rei Hotoda will conduct the concert, to include Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride,” and music from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker and the movie Frozen. Performers will include soprano Jill Gardner and bass-baritone Tim LeFevre. Due to the pandemic, the orchestra began its 2021-22 season this fall with chamber-sized concerts and a smaller audience at Paul Shaghoian Memorial Concert Hall in Clovis North High School, which CEO Stephen Wilson said gave the orchestra “flexibility to manage any continuing COVID safety restrictions without sacrificing the comfort or musical experience of the audience.” The orchestra’s upcoming January program at Saroyan will feature Jerod Impichchaachaahaˈ Tate’s Clans, Augustus Hailstork’s Epitaph for a Man Who Dreamed, Bruch’s Violin Concerto with violinist Robert McDuffie, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (“New World”).

December 3, 2021

Today's News: 12/03/2021